November 2008


Mark Licitra:

Mental illness continues to be incredibly misunderstood in our society, and unfortunately more-so within the Church. My work in mental health has led me into some very interesting conversations over the past couple of years, in which several themes have recurred. Some of these myths are things people have actually said to me, others were more implicit.

10. “I don’t know anybody with a mental illness.”
9. People with mental illness did something to deserve it.
8. Mental is the same as mental retardation.
7. People with mental illness have dysfunctional families.
6. Mental illness is caused by demon possession.
5. People with schizophrenia have “multiple personalities.”
4. People who suffer from mental illnesses are inherently violent.
3. People with mental illness can will themselves out of it.
2. The mentally ill cannot recover.
1. The mentally ill have no place in the Church.

Licitra plans on addressing these myths one at a time over the next several weeks. Check out his blog to learn more.

(HT: Todd H)

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The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is one of my all-time favorite Christmas cartoons.  Every year I try to watch it, and this year I hope my kids can watch it with me.  Why?  Well, besides Dr. Suess’ uncanny ability to tell a story, the Grinch can teach us a lot about “life together”–especially during this holiday season.

First, the Grinch teaches us that we were made for relationships.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that the Grinch is a miserable person.  His face says it all.  Look at him.  He is one sad and disturbed dude.  Why?  Well, for starters he lives by himself in a cave, and he has no friends or family, save his poor little dog, Max.  That’s enough to make someone miserable this time of the year.  And I would venture to say that the Grinch is not alone — that is, in his loneliness during this holiday season.  We were made for relationships.  Sadly, Christmas is a revealer of our relationships, either having close and many or broken and few.  But let’s take it a step further.

The Grinch teaches us that loneliness and sadness can make us envious of others.  As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the Grinch is envious of the Whos down in Who-ville.  Specifically, what bothers the Grinch more than anything is the thought that when Christmas morning comes, all the Whos down in Who-ville will gather together to eat and sing. 

And THEN
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!

They’d sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

But of course the Grinch couldn’t stop Christmas from coming.  Though he took all the presents and ribbons and wrappings, the next morning he gazed down at all the Whos in Who-ville and they were still singing.  The Grinch couldn’t believe it.

And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he…

…HE HIMSELF…!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

And so the Grinch teaches us one last thing.  True joy can only be found in forgetting yourself and finding a community who shares in something far greater than what this world has to offer. 

Friends, we are the community that has something far greater than what this world has to offer.  So let’s learn to let go of all the ribbons and wrappings of Christmas and let our light shine, and sing of our Savior’s love … just like all the Whos down in Who-ville.

This is a pretty funny video (less than 2 min. long) that asks little kids to consider what they are thankful for and what happens at their house on Thanksgiving.

My favorite part is when one kid tells about how his family just sits around the table and talks and talks and just keep on talking!  I remember thinking the same thing when I was his age.

It did make me think more about what I can do to help my kids be thankful to the Giver of all good things–not only on Thankgiving but every day of the year. 

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that help point your kids to God?

Matt Perman writes about why it’s so important to have friends at work.

100_0413On Saturday morning a group of 5th and 6th graders from our church (called Route 56) spread out into our community and raked leaves.  It was a great time to serve together and live out our faith as the body of Christ.  The picture shows a few of the kids who raked over 75 bags of leaves at one house alone!  It truly is amazing to see how much we can accomplish together in just a couple hours for the glory of God and the good of our community.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV)

The Center for Public Christianity, out of Australia, has an amazing website full of resources targeting the various questions unbelievers inevitably ask.  Check out the site, peruse the various topics listed below, and bookmark it for future use.  Includes a wide range of audio, video, and print materials.

Christianity

Society and Politics

The Arts

World Religions

Science and Religion

Ethics

History

Big Questions

At one of the Q&A sessions of our Promoting the Gospel Conference, John Dickson was asked, “What do you believe is the greatest challenge to Western Christianity?”  John replied,

I think it’s a lack of compassion.  If we aren’t known for our compassion we can’t convince people of the gospel.

This is convicting, isn’t it?  I think of Jesus as he looked at the crowd of people (in Mt. 9:35) and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and I’m struck with how little I care for the lost people in my neighborhood.  It’s not that I don’t want to see them come to Christ, but am I moved with pity (that’s what the greek word for compassion is getting at) over their condition … and do I genuinely find ways to get into their lives?

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