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The Hiding Place

It’s Friday Night and I am so happy for both of our SCC Campuses as we have very special things planned for both locations!

 

First, we have the very special privilege of hearing from Pastor Richard Dresselhaus as he brings an amazing message to us called “The Hiding Place” at our Imperial Beach Location. You won’t want to miss this great word from “Pastor D” as he brings us the Word of God.

 

Next, please be in prayer with our SCC San Ysidro family as Lisa and I have the privilege of introducing and installing Pastor Hector Ortiz and his wife, Silvia, as our new San Ysidro campus pastors. 

 

It’s going to be a great SCC Sunday and it will be even better if you are with us!

 

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you soon…

 

Craig

 

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Forgiveness

Have you ever had someone apologize to you and it felt like the person wasn’t genuine, as if all they wanted to do was to show you how spiritual they were to forgive you? I have. I’ve also been the person who apologizes just to prove the point that I am spiritual and a good Christian. In my case, this usually happens because I’m somehow trying to protect my image and ego.


I’ve sometimes heard good Christians say, “love the sinner but hate the sin.” I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for this statement, but my experience has been that it’s usually said to communicate that “I’m on the bus and you are not.” This is a “spiritual” way of condemning someone and, at the same time, justifying oneself to feel guiltless, just, holier than thou, righteous, and [insert your word here].


Richard Rohr writes, “Their guilt problem was solved and that is all that matters. It is a self-serving concern to alleviate just your own guilt; it is a loving question to say, ‘How can I free others from theirs?’”*


Pastor Craig spoke this Sunday about forgiveness. He taught that forgiveness is more than just something we say. Forgiveness is something we do. He led us in a ritual of forgiveness. He labeled this ritual a “releasing” or an “unbinding” of the person who has caused you pain and suffering. Craig’s sermon reminded me about the spiritual principle taught in Step 8 of the 12 Step program. Step 8 says, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

It’s my understanding that God’s forgiveness is complete. He pronounces us as righteous because of what Jesus did on the cross (Rom. 4:24, 10:9). The reality remains, though, that our sins on this earth have consequences, and we need to repair the relationships/bonds/connections that we have broken. If we are not willing to make amends, then others will not be able to forgive us, will remain stuck, and we all remain wounded people. We sometimes need to make amends so that we can forgive ourselves too.


How can we practice forgiveness? I think the question that Richard Rohr asks is important. How can we move from alleviating just our guilt to freeing others from theirs?

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*Richard Rohr, Breathing under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2011), 71-73.

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FORGIVING: STARTING AGAIN (& AGAIN)

An offense…

A breach of trust…

An insult (actual or perceived)

A harm…

A neglect…

 

“How could they do that to me? I’ll never get over this! I can never let this go!”

 

If any of this strikes a nerve with you, please be sure to join us this Sunday at 10:45 as we see what God’s Word says on the subject that most of us understand intellectually… but sometimes wrestle with emotionally and spiritually. The application will be tough, but the reward is well worth it.

 

Someone once said, “Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself.” 

 

I pray that I will see you all this Sunday as we “unwrap this gift” a bit more.

 

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you soon…

 

Craig

 

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Grief as a Spiritual Practice (Part 2): Grief Support

I wrote about grief as a spiritual practice on a previous blog post. I mentioned that the act of surrender is a spiritual practice too. Surrender to grief means that we allow ourselves to feel the emotions that are sometimes caused by it. Our emotions communicate what is going on inside of us (e.g., spirit, mind, etc.). The emotions experienced while grieving allow us to feel deeply and undergo transformative spiritual growth.   


In this post, I plan to offer a few suggestions about how to minister to those that are grieving. Some of the suggestions come from my professional work and training, and others simply come from my grief and life experience.


Suggestion #1 – Listen.


One of the most effective interventions we can use with someone experiencing grief is to listen. From my own experience of being ministered to, I know that listening is very powerful. It’s especially significant when the person listening does so fully and wholeheartedly.


Many caregivers to whom I talk, whether clergy, healthcare professionals, therapists, or caregivers, have told me that listening is one of the most effective interventions they use. Sometimes, listening involves little to no talking at all. Yet the persons being listened to say that they feel much better.   


Suggestion #2 – Avoid “I know _____” Statements and Clichés.


A fundamental law about grief is that everyone experiences it differently. I think it’s appropriate to say that how you experience grief is different from how I experience it.


It’s best to avoid statements like “I know how you feel” or “I know what you’re going through.” You don’t know the inner workings of someone else’s life and relationships. Even if you experienced a loss, too, you don’t know what their loss feels like.


Also, try to avoid clichés like “they’re in a better place.” These statements minimize the loss and they try to distract the individual from the emotions they are experiencing.


Suggestion #3 – Ask how you can help now.


It’s best to anticipate the need and proactively meet it. When you can’t anticipate the need, it’s always good to offer help with daily tasks, food, walk the dog, and [insert your example here]. Be specific. It’s easy to say things like “let me know how I can help you.” Although we mean it when we say it, it doesn’t always translate like that to the hearer.


Suggestion #4 – Hold space for emotions and grief.


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the author of “On Death and Dying” and developer of the five stages of grief, writes the following:


“Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. These feelings are important; they are the psyche’s protective mechanisms. Letting in all the feelings associated with loss at once would be overwhelming emotionally.”*


Sometimes the individual can’t believe what has happened because they are not ready. The best thing we can do is to be present and provide them with space to grieve naturally. God has a way of guiding through the process of grief.


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*Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss (New York: Scribner, 2014), 10.

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KEEPING LOVE ALIVE

Greetings to all of You great people!

 

This week we begin a new series on the subject of KEEPING LOVE ALIVE and I am excited for the things we will be getting from God’s Word together. Our first subject deals with how we talk to each other.

 

Events of this week have given me another strong reminder that our lives here on this earth are precious, fragile and temporary. If we truly realized this, we would be more mindful of our communication with others. We would do our best to bless people with our words. To conversationally leave people better than we found them.

 

We’ll dig deeper into this subject this Sunday and I pray that I see you with us. I also want you to know how much I love and appreciate each one of you! 

 

Have a great October weekend…

 

Craig

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Grief as a Spiritual Practice

“I Am Learning How to Live” by Jamey Wysockie


I am learning how to live

In a new way

Since that day

You were taken away.

I am learning how to live

With the things left unsaid

Knowing I got to say them

With every tear that I shed.

I am learning how to live

By embracing the pain

Knowing that you live on

Through the memories that remain.

I am learning how to live

Knowing I will never again see your face

And I have peace knowing

You’re in a better place.

I am learning how to live

Knowing you’re in God’s care

It gives me the strength to move on

And makes the pain much easier to bear.


Some of you might know that I am a professional chaplain in the healthcare field. As a chaplain/minister/pastor, part of my job is to help patients integrate their spirituality and to help them use their spirituality as a source of support at the end of life.

The work of James Fowler* shaped my understanding of how our faith undergoes a maturing process as we journey through life and experience events such as death, loss, and grief. For those of you not familiar with Fowler and his work on the stages of faith, he proposed that there are six stages in our spiritual/faith development. His model claims that the content of our faith does not change. Our expression of faith does. Faith is about being and it is best described as a verb. 

My experience says that spiritual development happens at the end of our lives. It happens to a dying person and their loved ones. Part of that spiritual development involves the grief process, be it anticipatory grief or grief after a loss.

I’ve been at the bedside for hundreds of deaths. I have performed several memorial services. I have learned from those experiences that everyone grieves differently (before and after death). To overcome grief, some people pray, meditate, seek spiritual guidance, deny the death, and [you insert your example here].


Sometimes we find that none of the above examples help us much. Eventually, we get tired of trying to fix or cure our suffering. Eventually, we come to the place where true healing begins: surrender. Reverend Ogun Holder wrote the following:


“To heal is to make peace with what is, to cease struggling against the current experience, and to release any desire that the loss never happened, that they never left, they never died. To heal, we have to surrender to the very thing we have been trying to avoid. We have to surrender to grief. When we do, paradoxically it becomes the only spiritual practice that allows us to heal.”**


A spiritual practice/discipline is a repeat activity that helps you connect to God. Prayer, scripture meditation, and the like are all examples of a spiritual practice. Surrendering is a spiritual practice too. Surrendering to grief means that we allow ourselves to feel the emotions that are sometimes caused by grief.


There is nothing wrong with feeling confused, for example. Confusion causes us to seek answers. Confusion draws us to God because God is the one with all the answers. 

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* Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning by James Fowler

** Holder, Ogun. “Grief Is a Spiritual Practice.” Unity, June 24, 2019. https://www.unity.org/publications/resource-materials/grief-spiritual-practice.

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The Sword of the Spirit

Good Afternoon!

 

The “Sword of the Spirit” is what we’ll be talking about this coming Sunday and we are excited for this great finale to our FIGHT OF YOUR LIFE Series.

 

The one piece of our Spiritual Armor, described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians Chapter Six,, that is an actual weapon is this “sword” which is the Word of God. With God’s Word (The Bible) our Lord has given us an incredibly effective way to resist and combat any and all efforts of Satan and his angels.

 

So be sure to come this Sunday morning at 10:45 as we dig deeper into this subject. Go find your own personal “sword” and bring it with you to church this Sunday. You’ll be glad that you did…

 

May God Bless You All,

 

Craig

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The Helmet and the Sword

Pastor Craig taught last week about the “Helmet of Salvation." He will conclude the current sermon series with a message about the “Sword of the Spirit.” 


I explained in a previous blog post* that the armor is not just something God gives us, but it’s the armor that he wears too (Isaiah 59:17). Ephesians 6:17 starts a whole new sentence with a verb. The shift is noticeable. Before this, we are told to put on the armor. Instead of asking its audience to put something on, Ephesians 6:17 opens by encouraging its audience to “receive” the helmet and sword. 

God’s word is the only weapon he needs to defend himself (See Hosea 6:5; Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 1:16; 19:11), and it’s all that we need too. Jesus used the sword. He used it to defend himself from temptation (Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13). 


How can we use the Word as a weapon, like Jesus? I suggest that the Word protects and supports our spiritual, emotional, and cognitive life. Jesus was able to resist the adversary by relying on God’s Word. He quoted it. He recited it. He spoke it. I also believe that the Word gives life (1 Peter 1:23). Whenever we preach the gospel, we are spreading the message of new life. Whenever we preach the gospel, we are exposing the darkness. This helps people to see their relationship with God.


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*https://sccib.com/blogs/2009423--shoes-of-peace

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The Helmet of Salvation

This Sunday we continue our FIGHT OF YOUR LIFE SERIES with The Helmet of Salvation and I am looking forward to sharing with you some thoughts from God’s Word on this subject!

 

I remember something that a good friend of mine once said with regard to the question of wearing a helmet while riding what was then called “ATC’s” or Off-Road-Vehicles out in the desert to the East of San Diego.

 

Bobby said this:

 

“If you have nothing to protect, then don’t wear a helmet! If you got a $5.00 brain then get yourself a $5.00 helmet. I’m going to get the best helmet I can get… because I think I have something to protect!”

 

Jesus paid the price for an extremely expensive helmet for all of us who know Him as Savior! It’s called the Helmet of Salvation and Jesus purchased it with His own blood.

 

This Helmet of Salvation declares that we all are New Creations! We now belong to the Lord and our old lives are dead and gone! This helmet protects our heads from the cares, habits and temptations of our old lives.

 

We wear this Helmet of Salvation because we all have something very precious to protect. Is this Helmet on your head? I pray that it is…

 

I’ll see you Sunday!

 

Craig

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Shoes of Peace

On Sunday Pastor Mike shared about the armor of God. The image provided in Ephesians 6:10-20 is of a soldier. Without a doubt, Paul had in mind a powerful and soldier-like God when he wrote this passage. Mike taught that the armor is not just what God gives us, but it’s the armor that he wears when he is attacked by his enemies. Isaiah 59:17 says, “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”


Mike based his message on verse 15. He said that a Christian must stand “ready.” To stand firm requires intention and it takes work. An effort must be made to put on these attributes for our protection. We can’t take this position without the proper shoes. The shoes are the gospel of peace, another idea that Paul borrows from Isaiah (See Isaiah 52:7).


Proper knowledge of the gospel is what we need to withstand the attack. Knowledge of the gospel isn’t just about knowing and understanding the message. It means living out the gospel in all areas of our lives. It makes us alert and ready to live life for God and to resist the powers of darkness. We resist the powers of darkness by the proclamation of the gospel. We must be agents of peace and love that are ready to do the will of God.

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