When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5

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”

To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4

To Heal You Just Need to 'Forget What Lies Behind'

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”

The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3

THE DANGER OF TURNING A SINNER INTO A ‘SAVIOUR’: TOXIC FAITH PT. 3

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”

Just waiting for an ‘Anointing’ to wash my problems away: Toxic Faith pt 2

Just waiting for an 'Anointing' to wash my problems away

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”

Woo Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication

Woo Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication

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.

Spiritual Abdication??

Continue reading “Woo Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication”

The 100% Perfect Gift for an Approval Junkie

The 100% Perfect Gift for an Approval Junkie

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”

True or False? Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Cleanliness-Godliness-body-hygiene-mental-health-body

That little phrase ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ is not actually in the Bible. In fact, Jesus had a rant about those who equated having the body externally clean with being close to God.

In Jesus words they were like ‘manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh’

And yet I have a body, created by God, for a purpose and I believe how I treat my body does have an intimate connection to my wellness.

I’ve seen the extremes. Continue reading “True or False? Cleanliness is next to Godliness”

Mental Health Grows When we Have a Routine

Mental-Health-Grows-When-we-Have-a-Routine-Spiritual-formation

It was my routine that I had built up over the years that got me through the dark morning. Do you have a routine?

Ever had one of those mornings where you just don’t want to face the day. You’re sort of glued to the bed. It’s a safe, warm and secure place, and you just want to go back to sleep if possible because well it’s better than listening to the depressing or anxious thoughts trawling through your mind. The black dog of depression is cuddled up beside you and you don’t want to face the day. It’s a routine that can so easily become a rut. Continue reading “Mental Health Grows When we Have a Routine”

Mental Health Grows Through Little By Little Dance Steps

Mental-Health-Grows-Through-Little-By-Little-Dance-Steps

Spiritual Formation that changes our Mental Health is found through ‘Little by little’ dance steps with God.

‘Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.’

With these words, Richard foster begins chapter one of his classic best-selling book ‘Celebration of Discipline’.

I remember reading this classic 37 years ago. That superficiality, that desire for instant satisfaction is still with us and is still a primary spiritual problem.

Are you ok with going deep?

I remember as a child watching my parents have daily devotions together. They would read a portion of The Reaper, a daily devotional put together by various lecturers of a local Bible college, then I imagine they prayed together. Continue reading “Mental Health Grows Through Little By Little Dance Steps”

A ‘But’ Can Make a Big Difference in Your Mental Health

A 'But' Can Make a Big Differance In Your Mental Health

You need a ‘but’ to enter your narrative of ‘and’s’.

The large leather strap slammed down on my primary school desk and made my 7-year-old body freeze with terror.

Mrs G was the one teacher every child in Wellsford Primary School did not want to have. I had been quietly writing some sentences out when the tyrant crept up behind me, strap in hand. She looked over my work and asked me ‘What’s the margin doing there?’ to which I innocently replied ‘It’s always been there’.

That strap came down so hard on my little desk that I think the whole class shook. I wasn’t being smart or cheeky, I was being honest.

I wonder now if that was my first experience of being shamed. Continue reading “A ‘But’ Can Make a Big Difference in Your Mental Health”