3 Ways To Learn From Brokenness

Brokenness – quite the word! It brings such thoughts of pain and loss and grief. The news communicates stories of brokenness on a daily basis. Our personal lives often have multiple themes of brokenness happening at once. I’m learning that brokenness is a process and it’s very similar to an onion – layer after layer after layer is peeled back; often these layers are not even seen or recognized until I am walking through them. Brokenness is tricky because it hides easily and seems to be gone only to pop up again very unexpectedly.

broken glass

So, how to deal with brokenness? Well, the first step is to identify where the breaks are – and that’s where I am right now. I can tell brokenness is there…and it’s bugging me and affecting me both personally and in ministry. The source of the brokenness is what I’m not sure of yet. It could be lingering church abuse or effects of the divorce or just the pain of life that I haven’t dealt with properly…who knows? The key is that I’m listening and searching and embracing input from others – I’m not okay with coming up short and losing…that’s not who I am!

Second, I must remember that my God has created me to be victorious – to be an overcomer – to be a leader and a minister. To care for others, to share Christ with people and to help draw people closer in their relationship with God. Brokenness can either pull and distract me from my call or lead me closer to Christ which fulfills my call with greater effectiveness. Jesus promises that His burden and His yoke are easy to bear – which gives me comfort that this isn’t His burden. Will I “fight” the brokenness in my own strength or turn to God and trust that He is still standing by my side?

broken item

This leads to the third step which is to live a life of humility. Brokenness reminds me that I’m not “all that” and that God has not created me to do this on my own – I can’t overcome brokenness by my own strength or even the strength of others. I must fall upon the mercy of God and allow Him to expose the source of the brokenness – it’s in my weakness that He is made strong. It’s in my pain and hurt and failing that I remember my dependence upon His goodness and love. I am a broken man; I am a flawed human – and this is where God shines! To pick me up, to dust me off and to allow me, by His grace, to become a source of hope for others who are broken like me.

Brokenness can lead to a strength and hope unknown in my life if I trust God, submit to him and allow the painful process of healing to continue. I’m nowhere near complete, but I refuse to stop in the middle of the process. I will run the race to completion – in my marriage, my family and my ministry. I will run and not look back, I will press on and embrace the future hope and destiny that God has for me.

SONY DSC

It’s never fun walking through the fire, being in the storm, stumbling in the darkness…yet, in the midst of the brokenness I can hear God – I feel His presence and I know that He is with me through the pain. Brokenness hurts, brokenness disrupts and brokenness often involves painful memories, hurtful scars and deep anguish. But God will not leave, He will not forsake, and He promises to make beauty out of ashes. I have experienced this, and continue to experience it, first-hand and God will do the same for you!

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Book Review: Every Child Welcome

Book Review: Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs. Authored by Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo. Published by Kregel Publications.

Wow, is all I can really say! This is a comprehensive look how to ensure that your children’s ministry includes children affected by special needs. From parents to teaching methods and all the side activities, the manual provides perspective from all possible facets.

Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo combine their practical experience as public school teachers with a heart for effective ministry to provide a book that should be on the shelf of every children’s pastor in America.  The unique perspective they add as parents of children affected by disability allows the reader to know that what is shared actually works.

every child welcome

Far too often, children affected by disability are tolerated, ignored or even banished from children’s ministries due to a lack of knowledge and insight. Unlike many other books, this one should be read and re-read and then read again. The practical steps, tips and ideas are priceless and will truly open the doors of church so that every child, and by extension their families, will be welcome.

In addition to the many tools and resources, the book is presented in a very simple layout, easy to read and even easier to apply.  Causing every child to be welcome does not require a degree in special needs – rather, it takes the heart of leaders who desire to see the Luke 14 mandate fleshed out within their church.

If you want your church to be a community shaper; to reflect the heart of God that everybody has purpose and calling; to embrace the indispensable individuals and see them shine with their God-given gifts, then this book is a must-read!

Leaders look out for everybody, advocate for the marginalized and ensure that the gifts, purpose, calling and skills of everybody they lead are embraced. Every Child Welcome will help to make this happen for the many children affected by disability.

Take Time to Eat Donuts

If you are anything like me, it is all too easy to fill up the calendar and to live a life of busyness and distraction. Smartphones chirp all day long and we have bought into the lie that everything is urgent and important. However, if everything is urgent, then actually nothing is urgent, right?

One of my greatest disciplines is the ability to say no, to not jump at every opportunity and to spend quality time with the people who truly matter. Work and church and ministry are all important and I am blessed to be in several places where my influence matters. However, if that is my focus and family comes in last place, then where am I really?

cass donuts        donuts

 

Several months ago, I was heading to softball with one of my girls and we decided that donuts sounded better than cereal! So, we stopped and laughed and told stories and ate donuts. I don’t remember if her team won that day, but I do remember eating donuts together.

Eating Donuts Reminds Me To:

  • Slow down and enjoy the little things
  • Take time with my kids ‘cuz they are growing up fast
  • Enjoy family because family matters
  • Focus on the important things of life and forget the rest
  • Say no to the unimportant so I have time for “yes”

So, how are you doing?

Are you saying “no” in order to say “yes” to what truly matters?            Where does family rank in your priorities?

Maybe it’s time to slow down, look around and eat some donuts…

What Pain Teaches Us If We Listen!

Pain definitely makes an impression in our lives. It often causes loneliness, suffering, isolation and just plain soreness. It might be physical, emotional, relational or spiritual, but one thing I have learned over the years is that pain is pain. The key is not necessarily the pain itself, but more what we do when we encounter pain.

We can choose to run and hide, to ignore the pain or to learn from it and grow.

rain cryingWhen I was little, I was helping my mom with dinner and ran out to the pantry to get some food for her. Our door to the garage at that time had an automatic closing mechanism and in my absentmindedness, the door closed on my fingers while I was reaching for the can of food.

Needless to say, this resulted in instant pain. I became paralyzed, in a sense, and never used my other hand to just open the door. I stood there in pain, yelling for my mom and wondering how to get free. Eventually, she arrived trying to figure out what took so long and then discovered what had happened.

While I survived without even a broken bone, looking back I can learn some things about pain that hopefully will assist in my journey as an adult.

1) Pain might be the result of my own carelessness. There was no reason for me to leave my hand in the door jamb, but I did. That resulted in my pain. I could not blame anybody or anything else. In a society that is so quick to blame others for our problems, perhaps we should slow down, reflect on situations and determine what we did to encounter the pain.

2) Pain causes us to panic and not think straight. It would have been a simple fix to open the door with my other hand and not have stood there screaming and crying. However, pain often shuts down our common sense faculties and causes us to make interesting choices. If I know this, I need to again slow down during times of pain and reflect on my choices even more.

3) Pain tells us something is wrong. Pain is our bodies natural defense system. When we hurt, it is become something is out of order. This might be a broken bone or a broken spirit, but pain is sending the same signal. Don’t ignore the pain in your life, but assess it, get input from others and look for the source.

4) Pain is a catalyst for growth. I can tell you that I never left my fingers in the way of that door again. I learned from my pain. I have encountered many other sources of pain in my life, but hopefully I learn from most and don’t return to the scene of the crime. Pain motivates changes, it messes up comfort zones and it causes us to see the world differently and respond accordingly.

I don’t know what pain you are facing today, but know that if handled well, it could become a turning point in your life. Whether divorce or physical pain; unemployment or wayward children; don’t let pain rule your life, but instead learn and grow in the midst of the storm.