“God Demolished Me”

man made structuresAn intriguing comment by a Romanian pastor gave me the words to describe something I have been thinking a great deal about recently. With the weight of deep appreciation he said, “Thank you so much for this week. I want you to know, God demolished me.”

Granted, this was the first time anyone ever used the word ‘demolished’ in reference to my ministry, but it was a good thing. He was saying something profound. That very morning we had processed some of the deeper challenges God was confronting in him-some areas of needed change.

“Demolished” is the perfect word for something I have been thinking a lot about recently. You see, in his deep love for us, there are times when God “demolishes” us.

We habitually erect superstructures upon which we might hang the stuff of life. We frame the steel beams and girders of security and try to lock things down just as we prefer them. We construct a life that puts us in control and makes us feel safe.

However, this manmade life stands as an obstacle to the life of intimacy and dependency for which God created us. So, God demolishes these structures because of his deep love for us. His severe mercy leads him to tear down the very super-structures we have been so earnest to build. He does it so that we might discover all over again that He is enough.

This demolition happens through a variety of mechanisms. Children rock your world when they walk away from Christ. Illness reframes your capacity for engaging life. Finances dry up and send everything sideways. Your spouse walks out. A crisis at church shatters your spiritual community. Your boss nudges you out. And, on it goes.

In moments like these and in hundreds of others, God pries open the welds that hold the structures of our lives in place. He does it so that we might learn that “man does not live by bread alone.” He does it so that we might discover anew that he alone is sufficient. He does it so to release us from our addiction to acquisition. He does it so that we might discover the true source of security and meaning in life.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Scazzero - Emotionally Healthy SpiritualityEmotionally Healthy Spirituality
Peter Scazzero

“It is impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature. [But,] something is missing…the spirituality of most current discipleship models often adds a protective layer against people growing up emotionally.” (pg. 15)

I grew up in a Christian culture that functionally reduced following Jesus to a list of obligations and daily duties. Do daily devotions–or “have a daily quiet time,” memorize scripture, tithe, attend services and Bible studies, acquire knowledge about the Scriptures, and avoid the obviously sinful stuff. I heard very little of the mystery and dynamic nature of following Jesus into a life of deeper mission and intimacy.

Biblical and theological facts, not to mention ecclesiological tradition, were the substance of our Church conversations. Absent was anything of the radical invitation to engage God with the fullness of my emotions. Missing was any notion of the depth of God’s nature as an emotional being in who’s image I was created. Even further off the radar was the notion that my sanctification and my emotions could be connected.

Here is a profoundly different look at discipleship. It is freeing and enticing. It might give new meaning to what Jesus meant by, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And it is different from the way most of us “do” the Christian life.

Scazerro’s honesty about his own journey, the way he led his church, the frustrations of his wife Geri, and his redemption into a new way of life make the book human. It is written with an honesty and a connection to the daily stuff of life and leadership that is as compelling as it is convicting.

In a sentence, the summary of his prescription, is this: “the pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” (pg. 37)

The book is not only helpful, I think it is profoundly significant and recommend it highly. At the same time I need to be forthright. You should know that I was a fan of this book before reading it. Pete won me over with his earlier book, The Emotionally Healthy Church and, because a few of CRM staff have attended his church in Queens, I have followed the stories of his leadership for some time. I think so highly of what God has shown him that I have invited he and his wife Geri to be the keynote speakers at our staff conference in Portland this coming August.