Falling to the Oldest Trick in the Book. Ministry or Manipulation

Falling to the Oldest Trick in the Book. Ministry or Manipulation

We’ve all fallen to the oldest trick in the book, but we need to know the oldest truth in the book. Knowing the difference between ministry and manipulation.

I watched them do it. They said a few words, suggested some options, smiled in a certain way, and waited. It wasn’t long before they had what they wanted. They had laid out the bait, and the person had grabbed it.

I then wondered how many times people had fallen to this subtle and sly manipulation. They were such an expert at it. Their success, their control was based on their ability to get others to do what they wanted them to do.

What’s it like to find out you’ve been manipulated?

To have someone use all sorts of little tricks and techniques to further their own cause. Continue reading “Falling to the Oldest Trick in the Book. Ministry or Manipulation”

When God is like a Drill Sergeant

When God is like a Drill Sergeant

For many, God can be like a drill sergeant, demanding and harsh, but that is a flawed understanding of God. When we look closely at the diamond, we can see other facets.

If you follow the rules and commands, then everything will be ok. Step out of line and watch out.

I’ve talked with many people about their understanding of what God is like, and after much discussion, we often hone the description down to being one of God being like a Drill Sergeant.

It’s a heart description; it’s how they feel about God. They may have an intellectual knowledge of God being love and compassion etc., but when you get down to a metaphor to describe God, it’s something akin to being like a drill sergeant.  Continue reading “When God is like a Drill Sergeant”

How ‘Going the extra Mile’ Flips the Power Dynamics

How 'Going the extra Mile' Flips the Power Dynamics

To ‘Walk the extra mile’ is not about being generous, or servanthood. It’s about flipping the power dynamics and creating a sense of fear and uncertainty.

Have you ever heard someone say ‘They walked the extra mile’?

We link this little phrase with the idea that this person did more than expected. They didn’t just do what was required,  but they went on to do more and more.

So often though we can take this idea of ‘walking another mile’ as a justification for putting up with abuse and bullying. That we are to be patient and just put up with abuse. Didn’t Jesus say ‘ if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.’? Continue reading “How ‘Going the extra Mile’ Flips the Power Dynamics”

Does ‘Turning the other cheek’ mean I have to keep taking abuse?

Does 'Turning the other cheek' mean I have to keep taking abuse?

She had given into the bully 365 times too many. She had been cheek slapped all of the marriage. He just accepted the insults and put-downs as if he deserved them. Tongue lashings kept him eating dust. Dust he and the abuser were both made out of. Ghosts of bullies past haunted them.

I gotta stand up and take a step
You and I have been asleep for hours
I gotta stand up
For your love
Bono

Others, who had also tasted dirt, rose from the dust and stood alongside the quivering heart. With a newly discovered dignity, they no longer felt like a worm.

They were now warriors of love. A violently disturbing non-violent love.  Continue reading “Does ‘Turning the other cheek’ mean I have to keep taking abuse?”

3 Ingredients of a Safe Church for your Mental Health

Three Mental Health Mind Shifts Needed for a Safe Church

‘Am I doing ok?’ was the question I was most frequently asked when I was a pastor/chaplain. ‘Is this Church safe’ was another. Keeping pace were other limping souls …

  • ‘Am I welcome here’
  • ‘Does God really love me?’
  • ‘I can’t seem to get it right’
  • ‘… keeps telling me that I need to do … if I am going to be ok and be part of this church’
  • ‘I keep going back to my addiction, I feel so guilty, God is angry’

At this point nice gentle Pastor Barry feels like getting a whip, going to certain churches and people, overturning pews, casting out tithing bags and shouting…

‘Stop laying heavy burdens on broken backs’

Continue reading “3 Ingredients of a Safe Church for your Mental Health”

When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5

When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help

When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help.

At the school where I grow vegetables, it can be very noisy.

I have a group of children that love to help and to get my attention they will often speak louder, and wave hands like windmills.

It can all be a bit overwhelming.

The other day the noise was particularly loud. I happened to look to my left and here was this young boy quietly getting on and picking up some old leaves that we had discarded.

Quietly without anyone noticing he did the work.

We think that if we do more we will get more.

If we turn up the volume, literally and figuratively, God’s ears will be pleased. Continue reading “When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5”

To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4

To Heal You Just Need to 'Forget What Lies Behind'

Life has a tragic way of repeating itself. It seems at times that we just go round an endless loop of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Then someone says ‘forget what lies behind.’

One of my favorite classic movies is Groundhog day with a very young Bill Murray.

Weatherman Phil Connors is sent to cover the first day of spring in a small town called  Punxsutawney.  At night he goes to bed and then wakes to the alarm going off at 6 am.

It’s not 6 am the next day, but weirdly 6 am of the same day. He gets the opportunity to live the same day over and over and over again until he gets it right.  Continue reading “To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4”

The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3

THE DANGER OF TURNING A SINNER INTO A ‘SAVIOUR’: TOXIC FAITH PT. 3

It’s always dangerous when we subconsciously create a ‘saviour’ out of a sinner. If you stand too close to the pedestal, of a venerated statue, you’ll get damaged by the cracks.

I always cringed when someone would call me ‘Pastor Barry’. If possible I would always ask them to never do this again. I would say ‘My name is Barry, and part of who I am, is I am a pastor’.

I don’t want to be considered as more special, pastoral or have a certain status than anyone else. We are all priests. Sure I may specific gifts and training that helped me to pastor, but in the end, Christ won’t welcome ‘Pastor Barry’ home, instead, it will simply be ‘Welcome Barry, good and faithful servant’.

I also know that this small step of veneration is a little step towards a slippery slope of them making me into a sub-conscious ‘saviour’. It can also fuel pride in myself, and who needs that.

We see it politics, sports, entertainment, business and the church. The extolling of someone to the heights of a type of worship.

It’s kind of like a teenage crush.

Continue reading “The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3”

Woo-Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication

Woo Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication

Do you like some ‘Woo-woo’ in your life? ‘Woo-woo’ refers to something that is ‘dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific.’ Miriam Webster

What about a side dish of  ‘La La Land’? Now I’m not referring to the movie, more so a ‘euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life.’ Miriam Webster

I have been involved in churches where there was a lot of  ‘Woo Woo’ and ‘La La.’

A ‘Woo-woo’ and ‘La La Land’ culture empowers a spiritual abdication.

Spiritual Abdication??

Continue reading “Woo-Woo + La La Land = Spiritual Abdication”