A Forgiveness Conference for Mexico!

forgiveness-healing-health-Jesus faithandhealthconnection_orgThank you, Lord!

Please join me, Dave, in thanking God for an opportunity to serve the church in Mexico.

On January 9, 2019, a four-day Ministry Leader’s Conference will begin in a sea coast village called Las Glorias (Sinaloa) with a special focus on forgiveness.

My job is to teach the relational wisdom of the Bible on how to forgive as God forgives (see below).

A time of recovery & refocus…

The ministry leaders are converging on Las Glorias from seven ministry locations across Mexico and Texas. They are under the leadership of a parent ministry (OperationFLOW) that recently lost its main leader to major moral failure. We hope to bring the comfort and guidance of the Scriptures to the leaders as they recover from this loss and refocus their efforts to take the Gospel of Christ to their neighbors and friends.

I’m desperate for prayer support…

Job 10 12This assignment is one of the most difficult of my life and I beg for your prayers.

So, please pray…

  • that my teaching preparation and presentation cross-culturally will be Christ-filled,
  • the couple dozen ministry leaders gathered will be encouraged in spirit and renewed in vision and unity, and
  • that all the powers of darkness opposing this conference will be utterly defeated.

“Mexico RW Conference.”

Some of you may also be prompted to contribute financially to this trip. My expected need is $1200 which covers the cost of air travel for me and our missionary translator from Mexico City, books for attendees, and supply funds for the conference hostess.

To help out financially, please make your donation payable to Emmanuel Reformed Church  and send  it to the church (with a note designating it for the “Mexico RW Conference”) at 1150 Maple Hill Rd., Castleton, NY 12033;  or donate online at https://encountererc.com/donate/. When the link opens, follow it to the “One Time Gift” option and fill in the Note space with the words “Mexico RW Conference.”

20160722_135250-003Your brother,

Dave Ewert

 

How God In Christ Forgives (all)

Unbridled Joy

Recently my sometimes self-declared identity as a recovering pessimist is finding new energy – in the recovery process. The help, coming from Relational Wisdom 360 (https://rw360.org/), is providing a wonderful source of new insights into how to live whole, with all the dimensions of my being (spirit, body, and soul [psyche & emotions]) coming into sync with God’s design.

Often a lingering, painful hunger for joy

A pessimist often experiences a deep, painful hunger for joy. In fact, he can convince himself that, except on rare occasions, no such experience is possible this side of heaven. The problem, of course, is related to his understanding of joy and what words might capture its essence.

Recovering pessimists hunger after that happiness with life that propels us out of bed with the elated exclamation, “I can’t wait to get started on what just has to be a good, fun and thrilling day.” Instead of worry and fear over what the next moments might hold, we feel starved for inner calm and hopefulness that assures us of conquest over the darkness.

Toward a new understanding of joy

A new understanding of joy is taking hold of me, thanks to resources from RW 360. On page 15 of Bradberry and Greaves’ book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Julia West’s chart of basic emotions itemizes words related to three levels of intensity in feeling those emotions.

As I analyzed the chart above I noted several things:

  • The “happy” category could be labeled “joy.”
  • The vertical range of intensity in feelings of joy can be expressed in many different feeling words (other than “happy,” or “joyful”); and they can describe a day or multiple days of emotional experiences.
  • Perhaps better than the vertical intensity scale, the horizontal range of feelings can describe what I’ve experienced seasonally throughout life.

What I’m so thankful for today is that my Gracious Master is transforming me from right to left. Yes, I have experienced seasons of shame, fear and anger, but more and more, the movement of my life is toward joy, mixed with, but moving through sadness. Jesus did say that He, the Good Shepherd, had come to give his followers abundant life, not death (John 10:7-10).

When I pray today against whatever thief would steal away my joy, kill off my hope, and destroy my faith, I remember that it’s not only a feeling of exhilaration or passionate, fierce determination the enemy would take from me, but a season of life being filled also with mellowness, tenderness, contentment, glad moments, cheerful smiles, good deeds, relief from stress, and satisfaction in a small job done.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

– Jesus Christ, John 10:10 ESV

 

I Can’t Take It Anymore!

YouTubeIn 1996 we suffered a spiritual firestorm at our church that threw us into deep conflict over ministry vision, vicious personal assaults, and lack of confidence in me as the pastor. For three long years those humiliating months stayed lodged in my soul, lacing everything I did and said with caution, and causing me in my relationships to hold many at arm’s length for fear of repeating the hurt. Feeling the slide toward despair over finding freedom in ministry again, I often cried out to God, “I can’t take it anymore! Help me!”

God did send help in the blood of his Son.

At the end of 1999 churches of our community gathered in what we called a Solemn Assembly. Midway through that incredible week of sensing the nearness of Jesus, and drawn to repentance from worshiping so many things other than God, our small groups were deep in united prayer. As we prayed, someone began softly playing the hymn, “Nothing but the Blood.”

Heb 9 22_28The soft piano music brought the small groups back together in singing, except for mine. Our group stayed huddled about me, praying for me, a man deeply shattered by a vision of Jesus’ blood flowing like a river from the foot of his cross.

In that moment, the Lord reminded me of how much he had forgiven me, and then said something like this: “You don’t have to take it anymore – the offense. Let me have the offense of others against you. Simply, cast those offenses into my grace flowing from the cross.” As I knelt there in a bath of tears, I saw myself doing that very thing, and instantly felt freedom from the years of crushing hurt.

When we feel we can’t take it anymore, let’s go to Jesus. We don’t need to take offense, but can give to him and find he is able to deliver us from the burden of carrying it ourselves.

Heb 9 22_28 (2)

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You can listen to the hymn, Nothing But the Blood…

For an upbeat version, capturing how I felt after that time of prayer, listen to it in the middle of this YouTube rendition featuring Charity Gayle from People & Songs. This recording of People & Songs begins with the song Cleansed and is followed by Look at What the Lord Has Done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqnT9JRm8dA

For a traditional rendering go to this video featuring Buddy Greene on harmonica and the good folks at GaitherVEVO singing together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJnD272vmns

For a history of this hymn as used in Methodist hymnals, go to the following article by Dr. C. Michael Hawn (Distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology): https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-nothing-but-the-blood

 

Transformed by a Rubber Flyswatter

fly swatter shaker style hillbillydaiku_com

hillbillydaiku.com

My mother used to discipline us boys with a homemade fly swatter – as a last resort. It didn’t hurt much, but it made a great swatting sound so it was rather effective at getting our attention.

Once, when I was about five (now 67), my mother who had enough of my shenanigans that day, took me over her knee and gave me a good swat or two with that flyswatter. But those swats are not what really spoke to my heart that day. Her tears did.

 

mother-with boy clipartpanda_com-001

clipartpanda.com

After disciplining me, my mom customarily would hug me to herself to remind me that she spanked me out of love to help me grow up to be a godly man. This time, however it was different. As she hugged me, she remained silent and simply starting crying. After a bit, I asked her why she was crying. She said that it hurt her deeply to have to discipline me – to have to hurt me to get my attention on the right kinds of things.

 

 

I’ll never forget those tears because they filled my heart with tenderness like nothing else had ever done. That was the last time my mom spanked me, and I have to think it was because my love for her had grown so much stronger because of her obvious tender love for me.

What about core weariness?

I can see nowRecently I’ve been learning a new way of thinking about relational wisdom from Ken Sande and his team at rw360.org. I highly recommend his work to anyone who wants to have healthier relationships and get upstream of conflict.

Pastoral counseling has been a huge part of my life one-on-one, in group settings, and in public teaching, but not until now have I seen as clearly the answer to a couple of things. The tools provided by rw360 are wonderful, and I’m beginning to make use of them daily. Management of my emotional responses is getting better in the hope that I reflect the Lord Jesus as He truly is. How to respond to others, when feeling anger or frustration, delight or satisfaction is now much clearer, and therefore the follow through to peace is becoming easier than it has ever been.

Waking up to relationships

The best kind of life is truly one in which relationships are thriving – molded by selflessness, joyful expressions of delight in each other, and cooperative effort to walk together in whatever opportunities or challenges life brings.  That means that the first thoughts I have in the morning do not remain on how I’m feeling or what I’m going to do in the day, but move to how God and those around me are feeling about this day and what I might do to become a helpful part of what can be done together.

30-emotions - nerissa golden-001Emotions are God’s gift

There is built into every one of the core emotions the possibility of enrichment (see table below). I’ve heard that all emotions are a gift from God and meant to be an integral part of a whole, together-kind-of-life.[1] And yet I have especially struggled to accept the negative ones, failing to see why I should embrace them rather than running from them or fighting against them.  When I’ve been depressed, for instance, I’ve done everything in my power to be rid of the depression but not to discover the benefits hidden inside those feelings. I have grown through those times, but usually only with hindsight. Now, however, my mind and heart are changing toward these things that have been so much a part of my living.  I can see now that it is possible to be “emotional,” and be energized in a good way whether the emotions be positive or negative, as long as my spirit is aligned with my Creator (cf. Matthew 26:36-46).

The question remains

fatigue-coffee kecuteh_blogspotWhat about core weariness? How do we deal with the relational difficulties of living with weariness of body or soul? With chronic illness comes chronic weariness.  With persistent struggles to do good toward, and with other people who can be very selfish, deceptive and mean comes weariness of soul. With persistent effort to keep a worldview centered on the Lord and to understand a complex and messy world comes weariness of mind. How can I love the Lord with all my, now very tired, body, soul and mind, and how can I love others as weary as I sometimes am of life?

I’m not sure yet how it all works out, but for me one of the greatest difficulties in responding well emotionally to life’s challenges is how tired or unwell I’m feeling in body or soul. Those times of core weariness add confusion and a sense of helplessness or hopelessness that bring on irritability, impatience, and self-pity – all enemies of the best kind of relating.

Hoping in answers because of what Jesus said

Not everyone today feels soul-weariness, or the crushing weight of past sins, failures, hurts, and rejections. But when you do, the words of Jesus may be your greatest reason to hope. Jesus said…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)

Because of what Jesus said, I can imagine being at peace in the midst of any storm.  I can dare to imagine being loved and forgiven – when I’ve been at our worst. I can dare to imagine teaming up with the Creator – when I can’t imagine facing another day.

 

emotions-different-faces steemit_com[1] Emotions are a gift of God

“We were given emotions by God, being made in the image of God, not from sin. So why throw away a gift from God? In moments of despair or grief we wish them away. Yet the right response is not to run from them, but to learn to deal with them and use them. We cannot just let our emotions go but we don’t have to pretend they are not there. These emotions of ours are tools God has given us: tools to grow, tools to love, tools to inspire.” (Brandon Fusco, theodysseyonline.com)

“We have wrongly concluded that negative emotions are from Satan. The Scriptures teach that emotions are a gift from God. They motivate us to take constructive action. Anger motivated Jesus to clear the temple of robbers and thieves. Emotions call us to engage the mind and to make wise decisions on what needs to be done. When we make wise decisions, emotions have served their purpose.” (myemail.constantcontact.com)

From solutions-recovery.com…

8 Basic Emotions solutions-recovery_com