Monthly Archives: November 2013

How to not become a snarky cynic!

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grumpy dwarf

You ever have one of those days (or years) when nothing seems to be going your way and everybody around you seems like an absolute idiot?

The older I get the easier it is to be a negative and disparaging skeptic. Sometimes I’m like the old fart who shuffles along in the grocery store complaining out loud to himself about people, prices, and politicians.

“This younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket.” (By the way, how does one go to hell in a hand basket?)

“The government is run by imbeciles who are out of touch with the needs of real people.”

“Church people are pathetic little trolls with nothing better to do then complain about everything.” (Note, in saying this, I have become what I hate.)

It seems fashionable to criticize just about everything and everyone. Some of the most popular radio and TV talks show hosts are famous for their ability to rip into the left or the right with their snarky commentary.

We have become a nation of people quick to throw stones at others for their failures while conveniently ignoring our own.

Many years ago, my pastor and mentor, Roy Hicks, Jr., was asked, “What do you consider to be your greatest success in ministry?” As a relatively young man, he had been an extremely successful pastor of a church of thousands. He was an author and a sought-after speaker. I expected him to point to something great God had used him for in ministry. I will never forget his immediate reply, “My greatest success is that I haven’t grown cynical.”

I was a young and idealistic pastor. Roy’s answer baffled me. What? After all your years in ministry, your greatest success is that you avoided becoming a cynic? It didn’t make any sense then, but now it does.

You see, life is hard. Things go left when we want them to go right. People let us down. Dreams are shattered. Plans sometimes fail. Friends betray us. What’s more, our own bodies let us down.

If we’re not careful, it’s easy to become pessimistic and grumpy. It’s easy to see the worst in people rather than believe the best. It’s too easy to give up and just wallow in our misery.

But maybe there’s a better way?

Perhaps we should decide to guard our hearts and ask God to help us stay tender despite the emotional beating we sometimes experience at the hand of others.

Perhaps we should do whatever it takes to find the best in our circumstances and in people.

Perhaps we should remember that we too are far from perfect and still in the process of becoming the man or woman God wants us to be.

Perhaps we should get off our high horse of spiritual or intellectual superiority and humble ourselves like a child.

I love that most children are full of hope and joy. In fact, I’ve never met a five-year-old cynic. Of course, the argument can be made that given time and life everyone becomes at least a little cynical. Eventually, every child becomes an adult and loses their “innocence” along with his or her unrealistic and positive outlook.

grumpy smallBut does it really have to be that way? Are we all destined to become grumpy old men or women? Or can we choose our attitude despite the difficulty of our path?

I vote for grace.

I want to grow in grace with age. I choose to see past the pain that could lead to cynicism and fix my eyes on the eternal. Rather than become a snarky old saint, I pray to become more like Jesus who, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

Never forget, we become what we behold.

 

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable

—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

 

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8 Responses to How to not become a snarky cynic!

  1. In my life Snarky was a shell that I put around myself. Something I earned, felt I needed, but really did not want. The last nickname I had at work was “The Grinch”. Since I was retired, I have been attempting to break through my Snarky shell. The Lord has entered my life on a daily basis, helping me relinquish more and more to Him, and it is hard sometimes. I know people sometimes relate breaking out of a shell to a bird breaking out of it’s shell. In my case it’s more like watching gator break out of his. My shell is just as leathery, and hard to break, and I am definitely nothing like a bird.
    I really want to thank our church for helping me start to work through this, the people, and the knowledge that has been made available to me. It has truly saved my life.
    Give your trust to God, and He will provide what you need.
    For too many years I have forgotten this.

  2. being snarky was one of the first ways I was able to communicate with people and feel accepted. I made lots of mean, snarky friends. Slowly I realized how sad it was making me, but snark and sarcasm seemed “safer” than being vulnerable. Everything seems so different now and I’m not sure how to proceed.

    • I agree, it’s easy to be snarky to be accepted in our culture or because it’s our natural bent… However, I think the more we have the heart and love of Jesus the more we will look and sound like Him. I really appreciate your honesty. Like I do, ask God to help you change and grow, and ask a friend or two to hold you accountable. Thanks for your insight.

Is healing possible after an affair?

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Divorce concept

“I don’t know if I can ever get past this . . . his affair with that b_____ is a deal breaker for me.”

“My trust has been demolished . . . there’s no way I’ll ever be able to forgive her.”

I’ve heard these statements, and many others, many times. They are the cries of a broken and betrayed heart. It seems impossible to get past our pain when our deepest bond and most solemn vows have been destroyed through an act of infidelity.

In fact, the only justifiable reason Jesus gave for divorce is sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 5:31-33). God knows that when the covenant of marriage is broken through adultery, the marriage may be beyond human repair.

Many, too many, know this reality all too well. We can forgive just about anything but betrayal by our spouse.

So is healing even possible after unfaithfulness? Shouldn’t we just cut our losses and move on? Can a marriage ever be strong again after the destruction of its very foundation?

It depends.

There are no simple or pat answers here. I know how violently some may object to what I’m about to say, but say it I must. So let me venture into deep and dark waters with ten questions worth pondering:

•    Is God able to heal even the most broken of hearts?
•    Can we learn to forgive as we have been forgiven?
•    Are we willing to have the long view of life? (In other words, is it possible to get past the immediate turmoil and have hope for our future?)
•    Are we willing to work hard (perhaps harder than we ever have before) to re-establish what’s been lost?
•    Can we humbly admit that we’ve each committed adultery in our own hearts (which counts according to Jesus; see Matthew 5:28) and not be so quick to judge our spouse?
•    Do we believe that anything and any marriage fully surrendered to God can be redeemed, restored, and renewed?
•    If your spouse has truly confessed and repented, doesn’t that count for something?
•    If he or she has begged you for a second chance, don’t we serve a God of second chances?
•    If you’ve got years invested in your marriage, and kids who will live with the consequences of your decision to quit, isn’t the possibility of restoration worth the effort?
•    Isn’t God able to bring life out of death?

I can’t answer those questions for you, and you can do whatever you choose to do without blame. But I beg you to at least consider the potential for healing.

Years ago, a couple came to me on the brink of divorce. At first I thought it was too late for them. They waited too long to get help, and now they seemed beyond repair. He had committed adultery with her best friend. It was a double wound for this young woman and mother of three. You could see the shame in his eyes and the bitter hate in hers.

Honestly, I was a young pastor, and I didn’t know what to say. But then I had one of those moments when God seemed to write on the wall of my heart, and I asked them this question: “Is Jesus bigger than your pain? Can the One who was betrayed to death, bring resurrection life to your marriage?”

Everything in the room seemed to be frozen in time. The veil of darkness was thick. He stared at the carpet. She stared at me. And then something miraculous happened as they both began to weep and sob and shake. The veil was torn in two.

Somehow, in a way that only God can do, a seed of hope was planted in their damaged and broken hearts.

Broken Heart 3The road to recovery was long and hard for them. In some ways, it would have been much easier emotionally to dissolve their marriage. But they chose hope, and now over twenty years later, they are trophies of God’s epic grace. Truthfully, their marriage is stronger than it ever was before.

If it’s over, and you’re done; it’s done. And there is no condemnation from God or me. Adultery is a tragic and serious issue and one that cannot be brushed aside with ease.

But what if?

What if you gave your spouse a chance to start over?

What if you surrendered your right to quit and move on and found grace to move beyond instead?

What if Jesus could touch you in your deepest brokenness and bring something even better to your marriage—a trust not based only on your spouse—but a trust found only in Him?

May I pray for you?

“Father, for those who have been wounded by unfaithfulness, heal their hearts. For those who have quit and moved on, help them to forgive and trust again, and help them to know they can live free of condemnation. For those willing to try a second time, give them grace and strength they will need from You. And when it’s all said and done, whether the marriage survives or not, give us all hope for the future we can have in You. Amen.”

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4 Responses to Is healing possible after an affair?

  1. I was the one who stepped out in my marriage. It stopped and It was another seven years before I felt led to tell my husband. When I did, my husband modeled Jesus in a way I have never experienced before. Forgiveness and love cover a multitude of sin. Grace, when it flows, washes everything clean. The miracle is this: as God cleans us, he adds so much to us, strengthening us and making us new. Soon, I will celebrate twenty years of marriage. God is so good.

  2. I really enjoy what you write. I want to say, however, that going through my divorce (because of adultery) I was given tremendous counsel. I was reminded that forgiveness of the spouse is commanded by God. Reconciliation would be wonderful. But restoration may be impossible. That can be true even if the erring spouse is repentant. Trust is just no longer there In my case–the spouse was not repentant. But it all helped me to see that forgiveness does not equal restoration.

Christians Are Weird

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Body-of-Christ 1

Lately, with the release of my book, Epic Grace ~ Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot, I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit, speaking at a wide variety of churches. I’ve done several radio talk shows and even a Christian television appearance. It has been fun and interesting to see quite a bit of the Church in recent months.

I’ve also been around the Church and an active part of it for well over fifty years. In my spiritual journey, I’ve been a Southern Baptist, an Evangelical Methodist, a CMAer, and a Pentecostal (though more mildly-costal than wildly-costal).

In fact, I’ve visited hundreds of churches in my life from south Florida to the great northwest, and from the highlands of Scotland to the islands of the South Pacific. So trust me when I say, I love the Bride of Jesus, but I know from firsthand experience the Bride is weird.

By “weird” I don’t mean crazy-uncle-Bob-creepy weird, I simply mean peculiar, unusual, and out-of-the-norm weird. The Church of Jesus consists of every tribe, nation, color, social-economic, and political group on the planet. If that doesn’t make the church weird and unique, then what else does?

Furthermore, within the Church, there is a vast assortment of biblical perspectives, historical traditions, and experiential distinctiveness that each particular faction of the Church guards with zealousness. We tend to hold on to our pet doctrines and beliefs with a vengeance.

  • Calvinism versus Arminianism.
  • Young earth or old earth.
  • Tongues as “the evidence,” an evidence, or of the devil.
  • Pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib or pan-trib (my personal preference, believing we’ll see how it all pans out in the end).

And the list goes on . . .

Unfortunately, in the process of defending our beliefs, we tend to hack to pieces our brothers and sisters in Christ. The battle cry goes out, “Somebody has to be right and stand for sound doctrine!” and so we often wound the Bride with our biblical swords in defense of our favorite truth.

Here’s the problem with this: It’s not us and them, it’s just us. We are the Body of Christ. All of us who love Jesus. Right or wrong. Doctrinally perfect or not. If people follow Christ and they are saved by grace through faith, then they are us! Heaven won’t be segregated by the doctrinally pure on the right and everybody else on the left.

Of course, it’s important to study the Word. Of course, we must guard against any compromise of the Scriptures. Of course, we must reject anything cultish or outside of sound Christian orthodoxy.

But is it possible that our intolerance of others in the Church is spiritual arrogance? Isn’t it true that we only “know in part?” (1 Cor. 13:12). Isn’t it quite probable that we may not be as smart as we think we are? Won’t Baptists and Pentecostals all be together forever in heaven? Shocking, but true.

Of the fifty-plus “one another” passages found in the New Testament, not one of them says, “Condemn one another as theological idiots.” Go ahead, look it up. I dare you to find even one passage that gives us the right to flaunt our rightness and abuse our brothers and sisters in Christ.

What’s more, a watching world just shakes their head in disgust over our divisiveness. Certainly, they shouldn’t be throwing any stones; there’s plenty of dissension in our world over mankind’s many differences. But even the world expects us to play nice as Christians.

So perhaps the Church should be weird! Of all places, organizations, and organisms on this blue ball, maybe the Church should demonstrate the value of unity over theological accuracy. Maybe we, above all others, should focus more on being relational than being right.

I know. Relax. It’s never right to be wrong, but too often we are right at the cost of being relational, and that is just not like Jesus. Jesus was (and is) far more concerned with our relational unity than our theological correctness in non-essential matters.

He said, “My prayer is that all of them may be one . . . that they may be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23). For the record, “being one” has very little to do with everybody agreeing about everything. It means we are one in our love for Him and one in our purpose to reach this world with the Gospel.

Jesus wanted His Church, in all her uniqueness and weirdness, to work together to support His primary purpose—to be a light of hope in the midst of a very dark world. In fact, the world ought to look at us and say with amazement, “See how they love one another . . . there must be a God!”

So here’s my view . . .

I think our differences can be an asset in the hands of God.

I think there are all kinds of variety in the Body of Christ, and that’s a good thing because there are all kinds of people on the planet.

I think we can hold dearly to our particular beliefs and pet doctrines without standing in condescending and harsh judgment of others who will be with us forever in eternity.

I think we should worry less about compromise and more about compassion.

I think we can practice unity without the mistaken belief of Unitarianism.

I think a good Catholic brother named Augustine got it right, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity (love).”

Maybe it’s time to embrace our weirdness and use it to point people to Jesus as the One who brings us all together. Maybe then a watching world will be drawn to Him and to us, His Bride and His Body, rather than repelled by our divisiveness. Maybe when they see our unity, despite our diversity, they will believe that the Father sent the Son because He loves the whole world.

What a radical and wonderful possibility.

12 The human body has many parts,
but the many parts make up one whole body.
So it is with the body of Christ.
13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,
some are slaves, and some are free.
But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit,
and we all share the same Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NLT)

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16 Responses to Christians Are Weird

  1. Kurt, you have such a way with words. I am amazed, as always. I agree, and if we follow Jesus, shouldn’t our Banner read “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and LOVE your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus said from this comes all the rest. This is the source. This is the command. Loving our neighbors gets us out of ourselves and focuses our attention on others, but with a confidence that we do LOVE, and can find peace in that. It has been said “God is Love”. With Him in our hearts, then it is logical that we can give that away to others, and thereby encourage a better world for all of US. Thank you for your words, and encouragement. I’m following!!!

    • You’re right, Jim, and loving those we disagree with (and who disagree with us) is still the call of Christ!

  2. Kurt, this was absolutely right on point! Very insightful and very true. May God continue to bless you and use you to further his Kingdom. Jay

  3. Thank you so much for your insight! You’re are so right. We can have a vast amount of knowledge, but if we are without love then what is the point? God bless you Pastor Kurt! 🙂

  4. “….the bride is weird….” Oh, Kurt, only YOU could write something so funny and yet so godly-true as this. I’d add, “Just because we’re the bride, doesn’t give us license to be bridezilla. Our groom is watching.” Blessings, friend.

  5. Hi Kurt, I do love the wonderful weirdness of the body of Christ. And it should be so, I think. After all, that is total proof of the miraculous work of Jesus. So many different people with so many different perspectives choosing to agree and center their lives on one person. Wow.

    Thanks for your perspective.

  6. A really great post. A relative of mine is very firm in his beliefs and quick to condemn everyone who does not agree with him. I spent a lot of time fantasizing about ways to convince him of the errors of his beliefs and actions…and then I realized I was just doing the very same thing he was doing.

    I just found your blog. I have bookmarked it and will be back.

A Broken Child

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Crying beautiful woman

What shadows linger behind the veil?
The face you see
Not quite so frail

What pain, what sorrow, what struggle real?
The angst, the hurt
The sting you feel

Within the crevasse we call our soul
We wonder deeply
Can we be whole?

We search for light
For something seen
In hunt of peace beyond serene

Within us cries a broken child
God, are You there?
Can you feel my despair?

Do You know my tears?
Do You see my heart?
Can You help me keep from falling apart?

Empty, my struggle has run its course
Weak, my screams have left me hoarse

Fallen, my dreams, my plans
All control is gone
Sullen, I turn, to lean on the One

Then in a place not far from here
I here His whisper
Child, I am near

Rest, release
Return to me
This alone is the path to free

Would I but learn to not leave there
That place in Him
Where there is no fear

Broken still
But not a wreck
Hopeful, heart-full, my bones reset

This One who folds my heart in hand
Now holds my life
My all, my plans

Behind the Veil 2

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12 Responses to A Broken Child

  1. Beautiful. …you brought me to tears. Its a strange comfort to know there are so many of us share these thoughts and feelings. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. Or just does the sufferings of Christ over into our lives so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Cor.3-5NIV

    • Thanks, Darla. We are all the walking wounded…and like you, I’m grateful for “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles….”

  2. This reminds me of another poem that has always helped me when my “broken child” feels the need to take over and make me lose my bearings again…

    God Knows by Minnie Louise Haskins

    I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
    And he replied:
    “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than the light and safer than the known.”
    So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
    So heart be still:
    What need our little life
    Our human life to know,
    If God hath comprehension?
    In all the dizzy strife
    Of things both high and low,
    God hideth His intention.
    God knows. His will
    Is best. The stretch of years
    Which wind ahead, so dim
    To our imperfect vision,
    Are clear to God. Our fears
    Are premature; In Him,
    All time hath full provision.
    Then rest: until
    God moves to lift the veil
    From our impatient eyes,
    When, as the sweeter features
    Of Life’s stern face we hail,
    Fair beyond all surmise
    God’s thought around His creatures
    Our mind shall fill.

  3. Beautiful. Yet also heart-wrenching. I know God is with me, and yet I can’t even talk with him in the way I usually do. I don’t know why he has chosen this time in my life to unveil yet another part of me that needs to be healed. That is so painful I can’t stand it. Yet without him I would not be able to endure. All I can do is say “I love you Jesus and I know you will get me through this”. And on the other side there will be a better me.

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