‘Am I doing ok?’ was the question I was most frequently asked when I was a pastor/chaplain. ‘Is this Church safe’ was another. Keeping pace were other limping souls …
- ‘Am I welcome here’
- ‘Does God really love me?’
- ‘I can’t seem to get it right’
- ‘… keeps telling me that I need to do … if I am going to be ok and be part of this church’
- ‘I keep going back to my addiction, I feel so guilty, God is angry’
At this point nice gentle Pastor Barry feels like getting a whip, going to certain churches and people, overturning pews, casting out tithing bags and shouting…
‘Stop laying heavy burdens on broken backs’
Continue reading “3 Ingredients of a Safe Church for your Mental Health”
Do you think mental illness is God’s way of forcing us to slow down and change our behaviour or is it the Devil messing with our minds?
I recently received this question from one of the readers via the anonymous question survey.
It’s an interesting question and one that I think has many questions under the question. It also demonstrates a type of belief about God and Gods relationship with us.
So here is my answer. Leave a comment below to let me know what you think about this question. Continue reading “Does God use a Mental Illness to Slow Us Down?”
She walked into my office in a long, flowing skirt. She always had loved long, flowing skirts. But she blamed them and herself for both of her rapes. “Maybe if I hadn’t worn a skirt,” she thought.
And she hated herself.
The man read from his journal. Almost 20 pages detailing every abuse he had ever experienced. His anger had turned from others onto himself. He thought of himself as nothing. Worthless.
And he hated himself.
I could write pages and pages of stories just like these. People I have known and sat with for hours, listening to their pain. Some call it low self-esteem, some prefer other words.
The semantics of self-hatred doesn’t really matter.
In the end, it comes down to a pain that seems impossible to bear and even more impossible to be rid of.
Living in this broken world breaks us. Continue reading “Becoming the You God Sees: Guest Post by Kristen Kansiewicz”
When I was on a 6-hour road trip back to university I picked up a hitchhiker.
It was cold and wintery as I turned a corner on the Desert road and I saw a young man with his thumb stuck out. Thin, short hair and poorly clothed for the winter, I felt concern for him.
I pulled my little Mini over and offered him a ride.
I asked where he was going off we went. He didn’t say much but eventually, we arrived at my student flat.
After dinner, I then offered him a bed for the night which was gratefully received. In the morning he was off and I let him have my jersey.
I thought nothing of it, then things started to fall into place, Continue reading “The Day I Picked Up An Escaped Convict That Helped me Find my True Self”
When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help.
At the school where I grow vegetables, it can be very noisy. I have a group of children that love to help and to get my attention they will often speak louder, and wave hands like windmills. It can all be a bit overwhelming.
The other day the noise was particularly loud. I happened to look to my left and here was this young boy quietly getting on and picking up some old leaves that we had discarded. Quietly without anyone noticing he did the work.
We think that if we do more we will get more. If we turn up the volume, literally and figuratively, of the worship God’s ears will be pleased. Continue reading “When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5”
Life has a tragic way of repeating itself. It seems at times that we just go round an endless loop of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Then someone says ‘forget what lies behind’.
One of my favourite classic movies is Groundhog day with a very young Bill Murray.
Weatherman Phil Connors is sent to cover the first day of spring in a small town called Punxsutawney. At night he goes to bed and then wakes to the alarm going off at 6 am.
It’s not 6 am the next day, but weirdly 6 am of the same day. He gets the opportunity to live the same day over and over and over again until he gets it right. Continue reading “To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4”
It’s always dangerous when we subconsciously create a ‘saviour’ out of a sinner. If you stand too close to the pedestal, of a venerated statue, you’ll get damaged by the cracks.
I always cringed when someone would call me ‘Pastor Barry’. If possible I would always ask them to never do this again. I would say ‘My name is Barry, and part of who I am, is I am a pastor’.
I don’t want to be considered as more special, pastoral or have a certain status than anyone else. We are all priests. Sure I may specific gifts and training that helped me to pastor, but in the end, Christ won’t welcome ‘Pastor Barry’ home, instead, it will simply be ‘Welcome Barry, good and faithful servant’.
I also know that this small step of veneration is a little step towards a slippery slope of them making me into a sub-conscious ‘saviour’. It can also fuel pride in myself, and who needs that.
We see it politics, sports, entertainment, business and the church. The extolling of someone to the heights of a type of worship.
It’s kind of like a teenage crush.
Continue reading “The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3”
We are all like druggies, wanting that quick fix to kill the pain.
Be it a drug, some porn, a sale, a comfort food, an altar call, a dose of the ghost (Holy Spirit), or a faith formula to get what we want. Anything, just anything to avoid going deep, facing our sinfulness, repenting and making the change.
Maybe they had seen too many telly Evangelists. They told me they had been to multiple healing services and now they had come to me and wanted me to ‘pray the demons out of them’. When I said that I would like to know more about them, they stormed out of the room and asked the passing caretaker to pray for them. He looked kind of shocked and puzzled. Continue reading “Just waiting for an ‘Anointing’ to wash my problems away: Toxic Faith pt 2”
Do you like some ‘Woo woo’ in your life? ‘Woo woo’ refers to something that is ‘dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific’. Miriam Webster
What about a side dish of ‘La La Land’? Now I’m not referring to the movie, more so a ‘euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life’. Miriam Webster
I have been involved in churches where there was a lot of ‘Woo Woo’ and ‘La La’.
A ‘Woo woo’ and ‘La La Land’ culture empowers a spiritual abdication.
Continue reading “Woo Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication”
She was so hungry for approval that some people called her a Klingon.
She would cling on to your every word and do just about anything for you. She wanted to know that she had worth, value and that she was good.
Then there was this guy who read the Bible wanting desperately to make sure he was in the right with God. He wanted to know that he mattered, that others liked him. That he had an approval tick from God.
They both believed that if they were “good,” then they would be loved, get their needs met, and live a problem-free life. That God and others would smile on them, treat them well, and everything in life would go well.
Underneath this facade of supposed ‘goodness’ was a lot of anxiety. Continue reading “The 100% Perfect Gift for an Approval Junkie”