Three Taverns Church


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Be The Loving Memory People Never Forget

As I was leaving my chiropractor’s office yesterday the doctor asked me, “So, you’re feeling better?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “When I came home last night my two youngest kids ran to the door to meet me. We wrestled around on the ground for a few minutes…we had an awesome time.”

Then I paused for maybe half a heartbeat and, starting to tear up, I said, “Not to get all emotional in your office, but I didn’t realize until just now that it’s been almost six weeks since they’ve run to the door to see me. Ever since I got that herniated disc I haven’t been able to play with them, and they kind of just quit being interested in me when I came home. But now Dad is back (no pun intended) and I could see how excited they were to play with me again!”

Oftentimes when things go wrong in our lives, it’s a long, slow decline into pain and suffering. Moments of shock and trauma are thankfully rare; it’s much more common to wake up one day having forgotten how good things used to be. In my story above I had forgotten that my kids and I used to wrestle and laugh together, and I’d only been injured six weeks! I have friends and family who have been hurting a much longer time. Their slide into suffering was so slow that these days they don’t even realize how much they are hurting; they’ve forgotten what “normal” feels like.

How many of us know someone living in an abusive relationship who thinks it’s “normal” to be emotionally or physically abused? How many of us know someone slaving away for an awful boss because he assumes, “That’s the way it is,” or know a homeless woman who thinks she’ll be on the streets forever, for the exact same reason? How many of us know a family member who’s given up the struggle against age and physical illness because the pain has been present for so long?

Do you want to help people remember what “normal” really means, to recognize life when they see it?

Be the loving memory people never forget.

If you know someone in an abusive relationship, be the love that will open her eyes to just how wonderful human companionship is supposed to be!

If you know someone in a job he hates (or someone dying for any job), be the love that helps him re-discover his hopes and dreams, and the purpose he was put here for!

If you know someone in the final stages of life who has given up, be the love that reminds her of all the good things in life, and the hope she can have in the future.

Be the love that becomes someone’s most treasured memory, something they will never forget.


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(Fin)ished

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Do you want Jesus to pay for your sins, or do you want to try to pay for them yourself?

I once heard a story I’d like to share with you. The story is about a very wealthy man at the turn of the twentieth century. He had started his own company, which had grown significantly over the years. He was a multi-millionaire back when a million bucks was a big deal. As often happens with successful people, he was interviewed by a local newspaper to discover his secret to success. When asked how he had grown his business so effectively and become rich, this is what he said:

“Have you seen my herd of antelope? It’s one of the rarest animals in the world. This particular species is only found in a small region in Kenya. For years hunters had traveled across the globe to try to find them for their hides and antlers, but the animals are so rare and elusive that most men returned home empty-handed. I heard about the animals and knew immediately that I wanted them for myself. So I came up with a plan to capture them.

“I traveled to the region of Kenya where they lived and set up a base camp many miles away so they wouldn’t feel threatened by my presence. One night I traveled to a field, put some of their favorite food on the ground, and placed a single fence post in the ground nearby. I watched from a distance as the herd came into the field, ate the food, and left. A few nights later I repeated the process: I left some of their favorite food in the middle of the field and placed a second fence post. The herd returned that night and once again ate the food I’d left.

“This process went on for many weeks. Every third or fourth night I would come to the field, place food in the center, and add another post. Once all my posts were in place I started adding fence slats, a few every night. After many weeks I had a large enclosure built with only a gap where a gate should be. I’d built the enclosure so slowly the antelope hadn’t noticed the fence being built around them. On the last night I returned to the nearly-completed enclosure and placed the food as I always had. I hid in the trees and this time, when the herd came into the enclosure to eat the food, I rushed in and put a gate in place to trap them inside. I had captured one of the rarest and most elusive animals in the world!

“I tell you this story because you can trap men the same way I trapped these animals. If you provide them safety and security, if you provide them a steady stream of income so they can provide for themselves and their families, they will do anything for you including giving their working lives to you. You can build an empire on the backs of men this way.”

This is an approach to Christianity we see all too often.

Churches and Christian leaders entice us with a little bit of grace and hope, just enough to get us coming back week after week. All the while we ignore the fence being built up around us, until it’s too late.

Until one Sunday we wake up and realize that while our priests and pastors were tempting us with grace and hope, they were building up a fence of religion around us. A fence built out of rules, laws, commandments, obligations, responsibilities, tithing, serving, volunteering, obedience, Christian disciplines, good behavior, church attendance, and theology.

We feel safe and secure with this fence of religion built around us. We like being surrounded by religion. We have check lists. We think we understand everything there is to understand about God. We hate gray areas and ambiguity, we hate feeling uncertain and off-balance, so we come to love our religious fences. The fences make us feel like we are in control. Like we’re God. But we’re not God. We’re never in control. We’re only trapped in our ideas, our obligations, our theology.

This is what Jesus came to destroy.

Jesus came to tear down the Jewish fence of religion and re-establish a relationship between God and man. A relationship built on love, not a fence of obligations and expectations.

Consider two passages:

“And by (God’s) will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10,14, ESV)

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30, ESV)

The sacrifice of Jesus body ‘sanctifies’, or frees from sin, once and for all.

“Teleo” is the Greek word used in John 19:30 that translates as “It is finished.” Christ satisfied God’s justice by dying to pay for our sins. These sins can never be punished again. That would violate God’s justice. Your sins can only be punished once, either through a substitute or by yourself.

Said another way, if you believe Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah, then He gladly takes the punishment for your sins. If you reject Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, you’re on your own to pay for your sins, which requires your life.

But we have to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Otherwise Jesus was just some guy, some sinner like you and me, who died on a Roman cross. That’s not enough to take away all sin forever. Which means you and I still need to find a way to deal with our sin.

This is where we come up with the “law” according to Christians. We’re trying to find ways to eliminate our sin on our own, according to our good works, church attendance, worship, tithing, dress code, beliefs, Bible study, etc.

Will you turn to a religion, any religion, to follow their rules and “earn” your salvation?

Or will you try to ignore Jesus, pretend “sin” isn’t real, pretend that you’re a “good person” (or at least ‘good enough’), or hope “the Universe” is going to accept you the way you are? That sounds like an awfully anxious way to live. How will you ever know if you’re “good enough”?

Maybe we’ve forgotten that the “gospel” of Jesus Christ is supposed to be the “good news” of Jesus Christ. Not good news that we can trade in being Jews for being Catholics or Southern Baptists or Mormons or whatever. The “good news” of Christ is supposed to be just that: Good news that we are free from sin and the Law.

Good news in recognizing that Jesus paid for sin, once for all, so we can stop trying to pay for it ourselves.

Good news that I can love God free from resentment over a debt I can’t pay.

Good news that I can love my neighbor and myself because we’re not just sinful scumbags.

Good news that we can choose who gets to pay for our sin: Us or Jesus.

But it is our choice to make.


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Seven Signs Your Church Is An Alcoholic System

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Alcoholism is more than a drinking problem; it’s an addictive way of dealing with the world. You don’t even need to drink alcohol to be an alcoholic. Alcoholics who don’t drink are called “dry drunks”. They are just as manipulative and abusive, but without the intoxicating aroma of Tennessee whiskey on their breath. Churches, if led by a “dry drunk”, can become unhealthy alcoholic systems, toxic to staff and members alike.

Use our checklist below to determine if your church is one of these unfortunate alcoholic systems. This is, of course, completely unscientific and is based solely on my own observations, as an addict, of other addicts and addictive systems.

  1. All-or-Nothing Thinking: Do you often hear messages about maintaining absolute moral purity at the risk of losing your salvation? Do your pastors consistently preach an “all-in” mentality toward Christian discipleship? If so, your church may be suffering from “all-or-nothing” thinking. This alcoholic state of mind sees the world only in extremes of black and white. Alcoholics believe that if a person, place or thing is not completely good it is, by default, completely bad.
  2. Worshipping To Cheer Up: There’s nothing wrong with feeling good when you worship God, but have you noticed that some churches make a habit of “getting high” on their worship experiences? Members of alcoholic church systems will often be heard saying that the only time they feel good is when they’re at church. Alcoholics say the same thing about alcohol; drug addicts, about drugs.
  3. Picking Favorites: Alcoholics pick favorites to emotionally manipulate others. “Dry drunk” church systems are no different. Church leaders in alcoholic systems will pick favorites among staff and volunteers to manipulate those around them, and to keep everyone’s attention off their own alcoholic behavior.
  4. Intolerance To Criticism: If you want to figure out whether someone is an alcoholic, criticize their drinking. They will not like it. At all. Alcoholic church systems are the same way. Test your church by constructively criticizing their stated theological beliefs. If they enter into a thoughtful, considered discussion with you, you may be safe. But if they’re “dry drunks” they will fly off the handle. Be prepared: Their ire won’t be limited to your criticism. They will attack you and shift the conversation from your legitimate questions to your own faults and shortcomings.
  5. Problems With Family Members As A Result of Church: It’s one thing to hold to your faith in the face of persecution. It’s quite another to abandon family and friends to maintain your status at your church. Any pastor who encourages this kind of inappropriate sacrifice is likely an alcoholic at their core. Or possibly a cult leader. I would run if I were you. Fast.
  6. Secretive Behavior/Lying: Christianity isn’t that complicated and it doesn’t require secrecy to be successful. We’re not the CIA. In fact, the New Testament authors were very big on being honest and authentic in every aspect of their lives. Church systems which can’t follow this simple guideline may be alcoholic. Frequent closed-door meetings or bald-faced lies should be a big red flag to you.
  7. Constantly Brings Up The Past: Remember your SNAFU at church three years ago? Your “dry drunk” pastor sure does! Alcoholics, whether they drink or not, are great at bringing up the past over and over. This usually happens when the alcoholic is under attack and wants to deflect attention away from themselves. Alcoholic church systems won’t let the little things go, and they don’t easily let people out of the “dog house”.

 

Being aware of alcoholic behavior is the first step in protecting yourself! If your church shows signs of suffering from three or more of these alcoholic symptoms, it may be time to find a new spiritual home.


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #4: Stewardship, Not Ownership

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It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s negative perceptions of God are often shaped by our behavior toward them.

You don’t own your kids.

Sorry, but you don’t. If we met in public you’d agree with me. But in private it’s a different story, isn’t it?

Many of us say we want our kids to be independent, but our actions prove the lie: We want to control our kids. We want them to do exactly what we say. Like something we own.

The dangers of this kind of mentality are subtle: Parents believe they have the right to control their children well into adulthood; children defer their hopes and dreams to satisfy parents; parents do what they think is best for their children rather than what they know God wants for their children. Don’t believe me? Go to an AA meeting and listen to people describe their relationship with their parents.

The Biblical concept of stewardship is critical to our spiritual walk. It means that I’m in charge but I don’t have ownership. It means I’m responsible to someone else for what happens to the things I care for. I don’t just answer to myself; I answer to God. I’m not the final authority; God is. The world is His, and everything in it. Or so the saying goes. But c’mon…you and I both know that more often than not we act like what’s ours is ours, not His. Including our children.

By understanding parenthood as stewardship rather than ownership we can avoid some of the relational and developmental pitfalls that plague children through adulthood. I believe the suggestions below can help all of us be better stewards of the children God has entrusted to us:

  • Imagine yourself borrowing your best friend’s most prized possession. Imagine how carefully you’d treat that object. Now think about how your treat your child, God’s most prized person in the world
  • Pray: “Thank you Father for letting me care for Your child”
  • Let your children make their own mistakes, no matter how painful
  • In the morning tell your children to ask God what He wants them to do that day, then let them do it
  • Give them autonomy early and often. Remember, you don’t own them

These steps are hard to live out and even harder to live with (sometimes). But by seeing ourselves as stewards of our children I think we give them the best possible start to a healthy emotional and spiritual life.

What are the ways you live out your parental role as steward of your children?


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #3: Quality Time

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It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s negative perceptions of God are shaped by our behavior toward them.

How many times have I heard people say they don’t pray because they think God is too busy with “important things”? How many times have I skipped prayer because I felt like my own interests didn’t matter much in the “grand scheme of things”? Where in the world do we learn to believe these lies if not from our parents? And where will my own children learn it if not from me?

You have twenty-four hours in your day. On average you sleep 7.7 hours, work 8.8 hours, and spend 6.3 hours doing all sorts of other activities. This leaves 1.2 hours (or 72 minutes) to care for your children. Of course, these 72 minutes are time women spend caring for their children. Men spend only 26 minutes of each day providing the same kinds of care. In fact, fathers spend only five minutes of meaningful time with their children on a daily basis. Five minutes.

When I was working back in Seattle I really only had two hours of each workday to spend with my kids: 6pm to 8pm. This was the gap between when I got home from work and when my kids went to bed. You’d think two hours would go a long way, but you know how it is: You get home and you want to relax, get changed, maybe take a shower to wash work off of you, cook dinner, eat dinner…and before you know it, it’s 8pm and the kids are off to bed.

I know the kind of Dad I want to be, and I know the kind of God I want my children to know. Below is a list of things my wife and I do to “create” time to spend with our kids. Not all of them will be relevant to you, but with a little tweaking I believe they can help you positively model God to your children:

  • Three words: Daddy-Daughter (or Mommy-Son) Dates. My oldest daughter and I go on one “date night” every month. She looks forward to it more than any other day of the month
  • We canceled cable TV
  • I limit my hobbies. Do I deserve that time? Sure. But my kids deserve it even more
  • We limit after-school events. Say what you want, but my kids and I won’t ever be run ragged driving from school to ballet to Girl Scouts with dinner crammed in between
  • We eat dinner together nearly every night. At home. 99% of the time my wife or I cook. If you want to miss dinner at our house, you better have a good reason
  • I play with dolls. Or trains. Or color in coloring books. Whatever it takes. Because my kids’ idea of quality time does not include reading the latest financial news

How do you want your kids to pray 20 years from now? Do you want them to send up a desperate, “If you’re there…” kind of prayer, or do you want them praying confidently, “Father, I thank you that you hear me…”? It’s your responsibility, and I’m guessing you’ve got some tough choices ahead of you. Good luck!

How do you spend quality time with your kids?


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #2: Accept Their Emotions

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It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s perceptions of God are shaped by our behavior toward them.

There was a guy in my recovery group who used to talk about how his parents couldn’t accept his emotions. If he allowed his anger, sadness, or disappointment to show on his face he was sent to his room. He was banished until he could come out with a smile. Fifty years later he was still struggling to accept his own emotions because he’d been taught that anger and sadness were bad. He believed God couldn’t love him unless he was “happy”.

I don’t want my children to believe God will only love them when they’re “happy”. I want them to understand that even Jesus wept. For this to happen, however, I need to model that behavior.

Here is the second of five ways I try to model Christ for my children. With a little tweaking to fit your particular set of circumstances, I believe these steps can benefit your family as well!

2. Accept their emotions
This is a tough one for me. My oldest daughter sometimes hurts herself through clumsy and unintentional ways and ends up crying in pain. I hate these moments. I hate them so much that I almost can’t bear to be with my daughter in her pain. A part of me wants to send her to her room. Or tell her to be stronger. Or tell her to stop her crying because it’s just a scratch. I hate how powerless I am to stop my daughter’s pain, and my feelings of powerlessness come out as anger towards my daughter for getting hurt.

Could there possibly be a worse way to model God for my child? My angry reaction to her pain makes her feel shame and guilt for getting hurt in the first place. It’s ridiculous. When she’s hurt I need to hold her, comfort her, and accept her pain. But sometimes I can’t. That sense of powerlessness is too frightening. I’m tempted to punish my daughter for not being “happy”, even when she’s really hurting.

The danger is obvious:

  • If I’m not careful she’ll grow up thinking it’s wrong to cry in public
  • She won’t be vulnerable
  • She may stuff her emotions to appear “happy”
  • She may feel guilt and shame when she hurts because she’ll believe she’s not supposed to hurt
  • She will grow up believing that God doesn’t want her pain
  • She’ll believe she can only talk to God when she’s “happy”
  • She may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with her pain. Because I couldn’t just hug her when she hurt and accept her pain and my powerlessness in the moment

How often do you send their kids to their rooms when they are angry or sad?
If they pout, do they go on time-out?
Is it hard to accept your powerlessness to heal their pain and suffering?
How does this have the potential to impact the way your child sees God?


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #1: Apologize Immediately

It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers more politely and with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” mask on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s perceptions of who God is are shaped by our behavior toward them. This is the reason why so many people in therapy and twelve-step groups routinely express their beliefs that God is an angry or distant God; because Mom and Dad treated them this way.

I don’t want my children to see God as a harsh, angry, unloving God. Instead, I want them to see God for who He is in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. For this to happen, however, I need to take specific steps to model that kind of behavior for my children.

Here is the first of five ways I model Christ for my children in order to positively shape the way they think about our heavenly Father. With a little tweaking to fit your particular set of circumstances, I believe these steps can benefit your family as well!

1. Apologize immediately after I realize I’ve done something to hurt them.
I’m not Jesus, so at least once a day I say or do something that hurts my children’s feelings. Just today, while cooking dinner and trying to help my wife get out the door for a small group meeting, my son and I got into an argument. As my temper rose, that little preschooler started talking back to me and I completely lost my temper. I started yelling at him and ordered him into his room. My outburst frightened him.

After two minutes of cool-down time I strode into his room, sat on his bed, pulled him into my lap, and hugged him. I told him how much I loved him; how much he means to me; how special and wonderful he is. The combination of gentle physical touch and loving words calmed him down immediately. I believe repeating this pattern throughout his childhood will also positively shape the way he sees God. Had I left him to cry in his room alone, there’s a chance he would project my behavior onto God and see Him as a frightening, angry Being who refuses to be reconciled to his ‘sinful’ son.

By apologizing immediately to my son, holding him, and telling him I love him, I positively impact his view of God in a number of ways:

  • My son can feel loved even when he makes mistakes
  • God will appear to be Someone who greatly desires reconciliation
  • My son can see himself as a treasured child of God, not an unfortunate screw-up
  • My son’s relationship with God will be defined by learning and growth rather than perfectionism
  • Rather than an emotionally distant Being, God will be Someone who wants to understand, and be understood by, my son
  • It’s OK for my son to be angry at, or confused with, God. My son’s emotions are not taboo in the eyes of his Father

Do you apologize to your children immediately after you realize you’ve hurt them? Why or why not? How does this have the potential to impact the way your child sees God?

Thanks for reading! Check back tomorrow for the second part of this series!
Stephen


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10 Things You Can Do Tomorrow To Be More Like Jesus

As a Christian I believe I should try to live my life the way Jesus lived His. Heck, even if I wasn’t a Christian I’d have to admit Jesus did something right; we’re still talking about Him 2,000 years later! Of course, He was the Son of God, and that’s a hard act to follow. But today’s list isn’t about perfection or being Jesus, it’s about trying to live like Jesus and observing the process and results.

Without further ado, here are my ten suggestions for how each of us can live like Jesus tomorrow:

    1. If you get mad at someone, forgive him or her right away. Do this as many times as necessary.
    2. Leave your TV off all day. Don’t listen to the radio. Don’t check Facebook. Don’t even read this blog. Whenever you have a quiet moment, instead of distracting yourself with noise or busyness, reflect and pray.
    3. Look up to heaven and say a quiet “thank you” every time food or drink touches your lips.
    4. Let at least two people go in front of you at the checkout line.
    5. Look everyone in the eye and smile at them.
    6. Pick a charity and decide on an amount to donate. Double that amount. Donate.
    7. Be honest with everyone, especially yourself and God.
    8. Take responsibility for all of your attitudes and actions.
    9. Pay for the drive-thru order of the person behind you, regardless of the amount or the brand of drive-thru.
    10. Set aside time to pray for the person in your life who gives you the most heartache. Ask God to help you love that person.

I’d love for you to come back on Saturday and let me know which suggestions you followed and how things went. Good luck tomorrow!


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When All The Coffee Mugs Broke

Hi there folks, I’ve got another great post from our guest writer, “Jane”. Enjoy!

Remember how I said God started to break my self-identity? Well, He started the process with my coffee mugs. One year, over a few months’ time, every mug I identified with broke.

My very favorite mug was one that said, “Wench, proudly serving since the 11th century.” I loved that it was sassy and black. I liked how a corset bound up the “W” and I completely identified with the statement written on it.

See, I felt like a wench in my own home. I don’t mean wench in the sexual connotation of the word. If that were the case it might have made the use of my “services” easier to bear. Rather, I felt unappreciated for cooking, cleaning and organizing the social calendar for my family. I planned and created memory-making events for my family, alone. I smiled at church, took the family pictures and everything else that I felt was the right thing to do. Yet I was incredibly lonely in my house and I went to bed (and woke up) alone almost every night for years. It felt as if I was only required for providing the image of the “perfect life” for the outside world, regardless of the reality.

The more bitter I got about my situation, the more the “Wench” mug came out. It got to the point that I drank out of it almost every day; I was trying to make a statement with it. The day the mug broke I felt like a small part of me broke with it. How was I going to keep making a joke about how I felt each day?

Next, my grenade-shaped mug with “Complaint Department” written on it broke. Really? I can’t joke about the fact that I get complained to and looked at expectantly as if I can fix everything for everyone?

Then it was my Valentine’s Day mug that I received from a student during a long-term substitute teaching position. Come on! That one made me feel important. I had made a mark on some kid’s life all those years ago. (What was her name again?)

After a while my best friend even noticed. She said, “Don’t go carrying such-and-such, it’s just going to break”. This led me to pray one of the weirdest things I’ve ever prayed: “Lord, what is up with all of my favorite coffee mugs breaking lately?”

The answer: I was idolizing my coffee mugs, not the Lord. I was identifying with the wrong things. I’m not a wench; it’s not fair to serve unappreciated, but it is (and should be) my desire to serve. I’m not a complaint department, but I should be quick to listen and slow to anger. And while maybe I did make a mark on a student’s life, I’m to store my treasures up in Heaven not on here on Earth.

Where in your life are you holding on to a false identity? What in your life does God need to break?


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Love, At Least

I’m not sure how to begin this; everything coming to mind sounds false and contrived. So I’ll simply say ‘hello’. If you’re like me, you’ve got something weighing heavily on you. It might be your financial situation; heavy debt; a past or pending divorce; physical pain; illness in your family; the loss of a loved one. Sure enough, there are many ways a person can hurt.

I’m sorry I can’t do much for you. If you need a job and it were in my power to give you one, I would, but the sad fact is I can’t even get myself a job. I can’t do anything to save your marriage or forgive your debt. If I could heal pain and illness, as selfish as it sounds, I’d start with my family. But I can’t do that either.

About the only thing I can do is love you. Because if you’re anything like me, which is to say, a human being, then you deserve love simply for being. You are valuable to me even if your job title or bank account says otherwise. I may not be able to restore your marriage, take away your pain, or bring a loved one back to life, but I will gladly sit and cry with you. You deserve that much, at least. You are a child of God, whether you know it or not, and though I have no silver or gold, what I do have I give to you: Love.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, as you read this in your personal struggles, know that I love you for no other reason than the fact that you exist. What you have is enough; what you are is enough. I know the world tells you to be, do, and have more; it tells me the same thing. But as I write this I’m thinking of you, even if I don’t know you personally, and I can honestly tell you that I love you.

You don’t need money any more than I do; you need to be loved in your poverty.
You don’t need to be saved from your debt; you need to be accepted in your indebtedness.
You don’t need someone to fix your marriage; you need to be loved in your pain and sense of failure.
You don’t need someone to heal your child; you need someone who will stand by you in your helplessness.
You don’t need someone to bring your mother back to life; you need someone who can comfort you in your hopelessness.

We can’t control many of the circumstances of our lives, and I don’t believe it’s always physiologically possible to control how we react to adversity. But that’s what community is for, isn’t it? In its purest form, isn’t this the purpose of the church? To sit down in the middle of someone’s mess and cry with them, to offer them encouragement, to love them. Because love, at least, they deserve. And love, at the very least, we can offer at any time and in any circumstance.