Category Archives: Love

What I had in mind was you

Today, as you go about your daily business, you will encounter people.

Depending on where you live it could be in the thousands of a busy city or the few of a country town.

Regardless, this planet has billions and billions of people of which you are one.

Often I think about this and the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet.

You as an individual are of incredible value to God.

Jesus put it this way

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. Luke 12: 6, 7 (The Message)

Do you have an internal bully that wants to shut down any sense of personal value and significance?

Our mental health can be storm-swept by both internal and external storms. The internal bully of thoughts that want to intimidate you into insignificance. Maybe it is others, literal bullies, who try to define you according to their insecurities.

Into this the God, who loves canaries, steps in and has a conversation with the son of a priest.

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
    I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
    that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5

What God had in mind, even before Jeremiah was conceived, was Jeremiah, was purpose, was significance.

It is impossible to get our human thinking around this concept of God knowing us before conception. We are so limited in our understanding of time.

What God had in mind was you.

Have a look at this slide share from a recent message I gave on this passage.

What i had in mind from Barry Pearman

In one word what does God knowing you before your conception speak to you of? Leave a comment below.

 

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: meophamman via Compfight cc
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Whatever you don't learn their name

Whatever You Do, Don’t Learn Their Name

 

Each morning I start my day in a comfortable chair, listen to the Bible, thinking about the day ahead and making a list of tasks.

Often I look across the room at a bookshelf with some of my favourite books. Recently I picked up a couple of them and have begun to read them again. As I do I mark any sentences I find challenging and that I think I can share out via my various social networking sites.

One of those books is by Jim Wallis. The book is Faith Works and there is a link below if you’re interested in getting a copy.

He tells the story of a lawyer, Dale Recinella, who gets involved in helping out at a local Soup Kitchen.

 About twenty years ago, I started helping out at the noon meal of the Good News Soup Kitchen in Tallahassee.

 It was located in the city’s then worst crack/prostitution district,halfway between the State Capital and the Governor’s Mansion. I showed up everyday in my three piece suit to help from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

 The staff assigned me to “door duty.” That meant my job was to ensure that the street people lining up to eat waited in an orderly fashion. Everyday, I stood at the door for an hour, chatting with the street people waiting to eat.

 Before I came to Good News, “street people” was a meaningless term. It defined a group without defining anybody in particular. From the comfort of my car, my suburban home and my downtown law office, street people were just “those people out there somewhere.”

Then, one day, an elderly woman named Helen came running to the Good News door. A man was chasing her threatening to kill her if she didn’t give him back his dollar.

“Tell him he can’t hit me here ‘cuz it’s church property!” she pleaded.

In true lawyer fashion, I explained that Good News is not a church but he still couldn’t hit her. After twenty minutes of failed mediation, I purchased peace by giving each of them a dollar.

That evening, I happened to be standing on the corner of Park and Monroe, a major intersection a few blocks from the State Capital and outside my law office. In the red twilight I spied a lonely silhouette struggling in my direction from Tennessee St.

“Poor street person,” I thought, as the figure inched closer.

 I was about to turn back to my own concerns when I detected something familiar in that shadowy figure. The red scarf. The clear plastic bag with white border. The unmatched shoes.

“My God,” I said in my thoughts, “that’s Helen.”

My eyes froze on her as she limped by and turned up Park. No doubt she would crawl under a bush to spend the night. My mind had always dismissed the sight of a street person in seconds. It could not expel the picture of Helen.

That night, as I lay on my $1500 deluxe, temperature controlled waterbed in the suburbs, I couldn’t sleep. A voice in my soul kept asking,

“Where’s Helen sleeping tonight?”

No street person had ever interfered with my sleep before. But the shadowy figure with the red scarf and plastic bag had followed me home.

I had made a fatal mistake.

I had learned her name.

 

The story reminds of a Jesus parable he shared with a lawyer who wanted to know who was the neighbour he was called to love.

Jesus described his neighbour as a man that was naked, unconscious, beaten up and left for dead. Someone that you would have to move beyond professional legal language barriers to actually help.

Some of the lawyers I have met have built a legal wall personality around them. They may know the name of the client but for fear of contamination they steel themselves against the story, the deep story.

I know a policeman that had to do this too. They chose to harden themselves to the story so that they could just mentally go on and do their job.

I don’t hold this against them. Dealing with quantity and depth of trauma requires some self care and boundaries.

Every now and then though God calls us to learn the name, embrace the story, and get down into the dirty ditch of a dehumanised victim because thats the only way they can be reached, with love.

Do FOR ONE, what you wish you could do for EVERYONE Andy Stanley (link to a great sermon)

Are you willing to be vulnerable to God, to bring a ‘Helen’, into your world?

 I want to write more about this. Good idea?

 Leave a comment below.

Questions to consider and leave a comment

  • Do fear learning ‘the name’? Why?
  • Who has learnt your name, your story?
  • What would happen if everyone learnt just one persons name and story?

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Abhishek Jacob via Compfight cc

How the most Dangerous Word in the World can Transform your Mental Health

What is the most dangerous word in the world?

7127570205_115a3b1921_o How the most Dangerous Word in the World can Transform your Mental Health


I recently asked this question via my various social networks.
The responses were interesting. Here are some.

  • No
  • Yes
  • Can’t
  • If
  • Love

For me I think the most dangerous word in the world is ‘love’.


To love means risk. It means uncrossing the arms that protect the heart and inviting an embrace.
C.S. Lewis puts it well

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” 
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Deep in the core of who we are is the imprint of the creator God.


They left their mark upon us a sign of what we most truly deeply desire and what we are called to be for others. To be explored, known, discovered, touched, to be loved. To hold someone else in warm inclusive embrace.

I think of the story of a young man that was loved in this way, but decided to look over the fence to where, in his opinion, the grass looked greener. In searching for a selfish love where he was in control, he became a man knocking on brothel doors.

Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God. G.K. Chesterton

His vacuous empty heart was never filled and the means to fund his addictive lifestyle soon ran dry. Fair weather friends caught the next bus and now he was left in beggars clothes, dirty, and smelling of pigs.

What a reject!

Self loathing and shame stung at his soul.

He projects onto his Father his own fears.

‘I don’t deserve a thing, certainly not love, so I will be the beggar servant and at least I will have food to eat and perhaps a bed to sleep in. Perhaps he will accept me skulking in through the back door for a few crumbs’.

He imagines his father to be what he thinks he should be like. Harsh, punishing, merciless.

How dangerous, do you think, are the self generated projections we throw on to God and onto others?


In this wonderful story the Father rushes to the son, embraces his smelliness and throws a party.

Ever had a totally unexpected surprise? You have been loved when all you expected was hate, anger and rejection.

Love is the most dangerous word because we can’t control the flow of it towards ourselves. It frightens us at times. Catches us unaware’s.

Mike Mason writes this.

Can we imagine what it would be like to so move and excite the heart of God that He would run to meet us, throw His arms around us and kiss us, dress us in His best robe, and put rings on our fingers?
Can we picture the Lord Almighty killing the fattened calf for us and throwing a big party in our honor?
Can we imagine having the Creator of the universe say to us, just as He said to Jesus Christ, “You are My beloved son, and I like you” (Mark 1:11)?
Mike Mason. The Gospel According to Job

Can you imagine this for yourself?


Love is a dangerous word.

Could you be vulnerable to a God that rushes to you, arms open wide, and whispers ‘You are my beloved son/ daughter and I like you”.

7127570205_115a3b1921_o How the most Dangerous Word in the World can Transform your Mental Health
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Questions to Consider and leave a comment.
  • Why is the word ‘Love’ dangerous?
  • What emotions and thoughts stir in you as God says ‘You are my beloved son/ daughter and I like you?
  • What false projections do you throw onto God?
Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Nina Matthews Photography via Compfight cc

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7127570205_115a3b1921_o How the most Dangerous Word in the World can Transform your Mental Health

Your Love is Different

Your love is different, Jesus

Your love is different, Jesus

 

My love is straight lines

squares and rectangles

 

Yours is flowing, sweeping

no sharp corners

no tight bends

 

Mine scrapes the bottom

of the barrel sometimes

 

Yours overflows like

the waters of Niagara

 

Mine is often mud-coloured

while yours wraps me

in rainbows

 

Mine is lots of short sentences

full stops and question marks

 

Yours is a symphony whose

music sings in my spirit

and draws me

to dance

Anna Johnstone

Source: Spiritual Growth MinistriesRefresh Volume 11, Number 1. Summer 2012. 

Image by Chapendra Creative Commons Flickr

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Living Flame of Love

 

Flame, alive, compelling,
yet tender past all telling, 
reaching the secret centre of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover, 
break the last thread, 
wound me and make me whole!

Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress, 
foretaste of heaven conveying
and every debt repaying:
slaying, you give me life for death’s distress. 

O lamps of fire bright-burning
with splendid brilliance, turning
deep caverns of my soul to pools of light!
Once shadowed, dim, unknowing,
now their strange new-found glowing
gives warmth and radiance for my Love’s delight.

Ah, gentle and so loving
you wake within me, proving
that you are there in secret, all alone;
your fragrant breathing stills me
your grace, your glory fills me

so tenderly your love becomes my own.

St. John of the Cross

Source: The Impact of God by Iain Matthew

Barry Pearman

Image: paul+photos=moody Creative commons Flickr

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3 Ways to Leave a Legacy of Love

What will you be remembered for?

We all have changes in our lives. We change jobs, houses, friends etc. In fact the only thing that is constant in life is change. What will you be remembered for in the weeks, months, and years that follow a change.

I have done many funerals and the part of the funeral that is always interesting is when family and friends share stories and memories of the deceased. Mostly they are stories of what this person meant to them, what they gave to them, the baton is passed on to the next generation. Some of the stories are humorous that tell you something of the person’s character. It hasn’t happened to me but another pastor once told me of the story of a funeral they took where nobody had anything good to say and someone actually came to the funeral just to make sure ‘the #@*^ was dead’.

I want to be remembered that I loved well. Sounds simple doesn’t it.

NOT!!!

Nothing could be so difficult. In fact if you truly take this up as a life call then you will most likely be persecuted and potentially crucified.

How do we leave a legacy of love?

 

1. Follow a lover.

One of the memories of my Dad was that he was a man that loved. I also remember a game we played when I was little. I would stand on his feet and he would walk around with me holding on tight. I try to follow Jesus in a similar way. I read the Jesus stories and try and follow his footsteps. I suppose the ultimate act of love that Jesus gives us is that he gave up his life for us.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

The challenge is to hear what Jesus is calling you to lay down as an act of love for others. Fame, fortune, security? What would God be calling you to lay down or let go of for the sake of others?

2. Listen to a heart

I think the greatest love I have received personally is when people have sought out my heart. When they have inquired of my soul. There has been a listening that contained deep gentle questions. Loving curiosity not harsh intrusiveness. Connection where both feel gently warmed by each other.

The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

3. Serve a need

The world is full of need isn’t it. So many issues, so much pain, don’t you feel overwhelmed at times! The good news is that you don’t have to be the solution to every problem!

Recently I listened to a message by Andy Stanley called ‘One, Not Everyone’ (highly recommended) where he discusses this issue. He has a little motto that he tells himself.

‘I will do for one what I wish I could do for all’ Andy Stanley

Limit yourself to what you can do, not hope to do. Focus on a small number of needs and do them well. What is the one or two needs that God is calling you to focus on.

 Where there is great love there is always miracles. Willa Cather

 

Who has left a legacy of love to you? How did they do this?

Barry Pearman

Image by David Hayward

What is the Most Important Thing? He Tangata

 Warrior and Sleeping son by Clayton Scott

I started my career in Mental Health support in a large old boarding that was a kind of half way house for people needing quite intensive support. Hanging on the wall of the lounge was a wooden plaque with this Maori Proverb on it.

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing? 

It is people,

it is people,

it is people.

When I first read this proverb I didn’t fully agree with it. As a Christian my most important thing is my relationship with God. The relationship I have with the three fold family of God is paramount for me. Out of this relationship flows a love for people.

However, what I think this proverb is saying that the outworking of your life is to be people, not money, career, fame etc..

We can so easily become distracted away from ‘He tangata’ by all sorts of alluring attractions. We can run from ‘He tangata’ because of fears we have. ‘he tangata’ is not safe, ‘tangata’ are like us, messy, unpredictable.

‘he tangata’ are potentially dangerous to your well being, but is being well your first priority?

Some verses found on the wall of Mother Theresa’s bedroom echo our thoughts.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

So the question will be asked of you about your life. What was the most important thing? So what is it? Leave a comment.

Barry Pearman

Image by Clayton Scott Creative Commons Flickr

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What my Vicar did as Me

526781_3578518387704_1415468237_33288348_337208172_n What my Vicar did as Me

Cartoon by B.C.

I really should have taken the consequences, I deserved the punishment.

I watched him walk through the streets with that wooden cross. He had already been beaten to a pulp. His path to the killing ground could be traced by drops of blood now trampled on by the crowd.

I stood a comfortable distance away. Not too close as I might just be recognised. I tried to be close last night but someone recognised me. I denied ever knowing him. What a self-protecting coward I am.

I want him to see me, to see my pain and regret. Perhaps he might forgive me and if possible hold me. No, too dangerous for my heart. I have discovered who I am. I am a wretched man, nothing good resides in me.

Look at him though, groaning under the weight. He is perfect. He has never done anything wrong, nothing. He lived a perfect life. No blemishes on his record sheet, but now he is about to die a criminals death.

He looks at me, I take a gasp.

His eyes penetrate to the basement of my soul like a spear of light into a chasm of darkness.

Fear floods me. Is it rejection at the sight of my sinful wretched state, or is it love?

Why, it’s  love! I don’t deserve this, I certainly haven’t earned it, even though I have tried to. I wasn’t even aware of just how dark my soul was until the spear of light invaded it.

The Vicar moves forward.

Oscillating, I move forward and back. I don’t know whether to run and hide from him, something I am familiar with, or to allow his approach to embrace me.

I am stuck, glued to the dirt below a cross.

I should be up there.

The nailed Vicar, spear wound in his side, dies as me.

Vicar Jesus took his name from the word ‘vicarious’.

Suffering in the place of another: vicarious punishment.

Taking the place of another; acting or serving as a substitute.
We had vicarious lambs as sacrifices but they were never perfect enough.

He forever has been and will be perfect. He lived the perfect life yet died a criminals death. The perfect lamb of God who took away my sin.

It should have been me.

How are you at receiving gifts, perfect, undeserved and unwarranted gifts? Comment below.

Barry Pearman

A Deep Well requires a Long Rope – Soul Talk

I’m not complex and I’m not that hard to understand. In fact I don’t know why people just don’t get me.

I think I am quite straight forward.

Actually, in all reality I’m not. I am complex, I have thoughts and feelings that come from somewhere that I have no real understanding of. I try and make my life simple, easy and under control, yet from nowhere my mind dances off to some other thought.

Some times I do things that to most people are quite irrational and make no sense at all. At other times I can be too rational and logic boxes my life.

Why can’t life be simple and straight forward?

I suppose a myriad of shaping influences have stormed across my soul and have shaped the thinking patterns and conclusions I have reached about life. Like a tree bent over by a prevailing wind, my personality and character have a ‘bonsai’ crafted appearance to them.

The writer of Proverbs uses a deep well as a metaphor to describe what our thinking is like.

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 20:5

An image that was very familiar to the people of the day was one of daily going to the village well to draw water.

A shallow well was of course much easier to access the water, but a deep well requires more effort, time, skill, patience and of course a longer rope.

The purposes of a person’s heart is likened to those deep waters.

Want to find out what is truly going on in a person’s heart? Where their thought’s are going and why?

They may not know themselves. Many of our motives lay hidden even from ourselves.

The well is long and deep.

It’s dark at the bottom, unseen and unknown. It may contain spiders!

It’s a drawing out of the water. It’s having some one with you providing good Soul Care where there is no demand to know the answer here and now.

There is gentle questioning. A desire to know, explore, discover and touch.

The first requirement is to have a vision of the person beyond the mess of current situation to being in a place where they know God in a deeper ‘well’ transforming way. This compels you to keep asking gentle questions.

The second requirement is patience.

Water drawn from great depths takes time to come to the surface, to be exposed and enjoyed.

What makes a person safe?

The willingness to patiently keep drawing from the well. To keep asking questions that go deeper than a surface bounce back reflection.

How have people explored your heart? Using long ropes or short ones, never quite making it to the real water. 
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
Barry PearmanImage: Motley Princess Creative Commons Flickr

‘I Don’t want to be Fixed just to make you feel more Comfortable’–Soul Talk

 

Question 1: Who has made the most significant impact on your life?
For me, and I think for most people, it would generally be a parent. Mum and Dad generally have the most influence over our lives, good, bad or indifferent, they significantly shape who we become. Even if don’t know our biological parents, such as through adoption, this not being known will deeply shape us.
Putting the parents to one side, the next group of significant people would most likely be those whom you felt safe enough to be truly honest, open and vulnerable with. It might be a friend, a work colleague, a spouse.

You gave them the gift of in–to-me-see and they didn’t abuse it. They may have given you the gift of in-to-me-see and allowed you to explore them at a soul level.

Question 2: Did these truly significant people treat you as a problem to be solved or as person to be known?
I read this dialogue recently in a wonderful online course called Soul Care.

Something I have observed a thousand times is that when people tell me that they feel reluctant to make known a concern to somebody, [I have asked] who else have they shared this with, and they said, “Well, nobody.” And when I ask, “Well, why not? You have friends. You are in a small group. You have a pastor. You have a spouse. You have other people that are close to you. You’ve not made known this difficulty to anybody? Tell me, why not?”
And the answer I so often get is, “When I share my burden with somebody, all they want to do is fix me. They want to change me.”
I wonder if my anorexic client years ago knew that I had nothing in my mind, but finding someway to get her to eat more. I am going to change that girl; I am going to see to it she is different.
What happens in you when you know that my central agenda is seeing to it that you are different? People have said to me many, many times is, “I don’t feel safe, because the people that I envision myself sharing with don‘t want to join me on the journey. They want to fix me so they can become more comfortable.” Larry Crabb

I want somebody to be with me, as opposed to somebody imposing a solution on my life.

Do this, do that, stop doing this or that, work and try harder.

One of the struggles I have in providing Soul Talk are the expectations of others upon me. They generally come with a desire to be quick fixed with a magic wand.

I have given up on looking for that flimsy piece of foolishness as I don’t believe there is one to meet the deepest of Soul issues.

I give what I can, I join with them on their journey as best I am able within the limits of what I have to give.

It is never enough, so an Emmaus road journey must nurtured. One where Jesus joins us on the journey and warms both of us.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Question to consider: Do you want to solve peoples problems for your own personal comfort or do you join with them on a journey and see both hearts warmed? Leave some comments below.

Barry Pearman
Image: Stephan Geyer Creative Commons Flickr