Q. How should we react when other people hurt us, or they claim that we hurt them?
P. Seek to Ground our identity and security in Christ, so we can respond with curiosity and compassion rather than fear or anger
When I feel threatened, my natural instinct is either fear (giving in) or anger (taking over). I am learning that neither of these is very effective at spreading the Kingdom of God; though both may be expedient in terms of protecting the self, at least in the short term.
Conversely, when the challenge is not in an area that threatens my identity, I find myself relaxed and eager to engage with understanding all sides of the issue. I am able to focus on ensuring that others feel heard, and become confident enough to explore creative ways of solving the underlying problems.
How do we build a community and practices where all of us can feel safer confronting the emotional issues that define both our identities and our differences?
It may be too late to have a happy childhood, but it is never too late to have a turbulent adolescence!
We as a society have lost sight of what it means to grow up. And that’s a good thing!
The gift (and curse) of the Enlightenment is that each of us must answer the question: who do I want to be when I grow up? It is tempting to envy our ancestors and traditional cultures who had well-defined “markers of maturity”, e.g., marriage, mortgage, and making money. There is enormous security, stability, and support in having society validate who you are supposed to be.
But there is also enormous danger, especially for Christians.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the San Francisco Revival of the 2020s was an end to the politicization of abortion, in a way that seemed unimaginable to those who lived through the culture wars that peaked during the Trump presidency. While extremists on both sides still refuse to make peace, the public debate has largely moved on.
The turning point was when two courageous women made a conscious choice to reject the dichotomy between honoring women and honoring the unborn, thus defusing the righteous indignation that had fueled both sides.
This is a song I wrote back in 1996 in my post-college, pre-Apple days in Pasadena, California. It was for a girl I knew — heck, it fit pretty much all the girls I hung out with and/or was interested in during that decade.
I also sang it during a “Christian Connection” (online dating site) cruise back in 1999, just before I met Sandhya. By God’s grace I got to perform for the ship talent show. I said I was part of a Christian singles group with 80 women and 15 men — and I was having a *great* time! (as was reported almost daily on the ship’s TV :-).
“But being single wasn’t always fun and games — and that’s why I wrote this song.” Continue reading →
I’m in the process of cleaning up my “personal” site on DrErnie.com, and as part of that I’m moving some of my earlier writings to this site.
To start with, I present “Unforgiven”, a more-or-less accurate transcript of the first time God really dealt with me about anger…
A testimony in three persons
The stage appears empty except for a single chair, center, facing right. A man sits on it backwards, facing left, hugging the back of the chair. His expression is grim. A single spotlight shines down on him. Another man walk out from right, and stands looking at him from the semi-darkness. The first man speaks, but remains facing left.
In Which We Forgive Those Who Don’t Deserve It, Because We Don’t Either
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” — Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” — Matthew 5:9
Anger is unique among the seven deadly sins in that, in general, anger isn’t even a sin (cf. Ephesians 4:26). At one level, it is simply an emotional reaction to having our boundaries crossed. And at the highest level, anger is actually a virtue, since it is a significant part of God’s character — i.e., the “name” to which we are being conformed!
At the same time, anger is also the name of one of the most violent and dangerous sins. We can define sinful anger as a self-righteous passion for punishing those who offend us. This is why anger is so empowering and so deadly: it magnifies the sins of others to the point where we ignore our own.
Because anger is so devastating, we need to combat it with both meekness — the ability to restrain our passions in submission to God’s rule — and peacemaking, which seeks restoration and reconciliation instead of revenge.
[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].
[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]
In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).
I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:
Still, it only takes me about four hours per class, which is two late night waiting-to-feed-Rohan sessions (assuming he behaves), so I should be able to keep up.
The real problem is that my lesson topics have gone in a completely different direction that originally envisioned. More, my pastor has a slightly different vision for how things should fit together. Given the time timeframes, it is essential we get on the same page (and stick to it, if possible).
Here’s my current vision for what is now being called “Theological Foundations”. Hopefully my pastor and I can converge on this syllabus soon (once he’s no longer busy with his new grandson 🙂
Apologies for the pretentious title, but I wanted to challenge myself to identify and reorganize the lessons we covered in last year’s leadership class into a coherent prescription for facing down “Ministry Killers”. The idea is that each of these “steps” would be a single “life lesson”, but that together they provide the “full armor of God.“