Do we really pray for our enemies?

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I want to ask all of my readers a very serious question: When was the last time you prayed for ISIS?

You know, ISIS. Also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). They’re the Sunni Muslim extremist group currently wreaking havoc in the Middle East and drawing the U.S. into yet another military intervention in Iraq. They kidnapped and beheaded journalist James Foley. For the past few months, they’ve been systematically oppressing and killing Christians and other religious minorities, including children. They want to rule the Middle East.

Recently, a debate has raged over what our response should be to this terrorist group. Many, like Bill O’Reilly and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, believe we should wipe them out – Robertson’s only caveat being that we attempt to evangelize them first. If they don’t convert to Christianity, then off with their heads.

Because, you know, that’s totally different from what the terrorists are doing. Yes, huh! Continue reading

Responding to Trauma

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In my last post, I talked about what it means to be a trauma survivor and how difficult trauma can be to heal. Today, I’m going to enumerate the ways in which the Church can respond to trauma survivors to help them find healing.

Before I delve in, let me be clear: This is a common problem. Most pastors would be absolutely gobsmacked to know how many trauma survivors fill their churches every Sunday. Current estimates put the incidence of child molestation at 1 in 3 for girls and 1 in 10 for boys. That means in a congregation of 100 people, 5 men and 17 women are likely child sex abuse survivors. And that figure doesn’t begin to include survivors of other types of trauma, such as rape, assault, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, war, abandonment and accident.

If the Church wants to get serious about helping survivors, this is what is needed: Continue reading

Dealing with an Addicted Spouse

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American culture is rife with addiction. And many people in the church like to pretend it doesn’t exist within their pews. But it does. Often, when all the ‘amen’s and ‘hallelujah’s have ceased, and the worship team has gone home for the day, a fellow church member is whispering to a trusted friend in the back corner about her struggle to live with an addicted spouse. I know, because I’m often the trusted friend.

My heart breaks for people who have to deal with a significant other’s addiction. It is almost unbearably painful and frustrating. Addiction destroys trusts and often brings couples to financial ruin. After seeing the effects of addiction within my own family, I think it’s time to address the issue for others who may be suffering. I will attempt to shed some light on addiction and hopefully provide a little wisdom in how to deal with it effectively. Continue reading

Pray at Your Own Risk: Dangerous Prayers that God Always Answers

Have you ever complained that your prayers (for more money, less persecution, better kids, bigger house, easier life) weren’t being answered? Well, I’ve discovered certain prayers that always get God’s response–often instantly. But fair warning: These aren’t safe prayers. They will mess up your simple, neat existence and shatter several preconceived notions you may have about faith, God and humanity. I speak from experience. Pray these prayers at your own risk: Continue reading

Is it a prayer or a cop-out?

Lord, I promise–next time!

Several years ago, I was sitting in church listening to my pastor ask the congregation if there were any needs the church could pray for. A woman stood up and confessed that her husband had recently lost his job and they were struggling to pay their mortgage that month. The pastor asked those sitting around her to stand and pray that God would provide the employment and funds needed for this family to get back on their feet. As two men rose from their seats to lay hands on her, I noticed something interesting in their back pockets. Anyone care to guess what it was?

Fat wallets. The provision for this woman’s need was less than arm’s length away. Continue reading