Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Develop A Rule Of Life, 19 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The 7 Pathways

1. Know Yourself that You May Know God
2. Going Back in Order to Go Forward
3. Journey Through the Wall
4. Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief and Loss
5. Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath
6. Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult
7. Take the Next Step to Develop a “Rule of Life.”

Most people live off of the spirituality of others. We use prayer to get God to serve us.

Os Guinness – The American Hour (adapted)

We are a part of the most powerful civilization that the world has ever known. We are about

- Information (not formation)
- Convenience
- Options
- Time maximization (people overloaded/anxious)
- Comfort
- Feeling good
- Happiness
- Independence
- Entertainment
- Instant gratification
- Skepticism
- Image, Style – (Beauty)
- Control

Summary: Narcissistic; it’s all about me!

From community to individualism
From authority to preference
From Jesus’ claims to all religions considered

The western Church is declining as there are few differences between how Christians and non-Christians live their lives.

There are pockets of radical followers of Jesus that are on a mission to transform the culture rather than be transformed by it.

Three anchors that can help us get centered on God are the Daily Office, Sabbath, and a Rule of Life.

The goal of disciplines is not the disciplines. That’s legalism. The goal is to develop your relationship with God in order to love God and love others.


from the Greek word “trellis”

- a tool to help you grow upward and outward

- a framework or structure to help enable us continually pay attention to God and keep Him the center of our lives

Throughout history, people gathered together in communities around a rule of life. Some were as large as 5000 people in the Egyptian desert. A group of people known as the Desert Fathers were among the God-seekers.

Acts 2:42-3:1

This is the trellis or framework for the early church.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon. (Acts 3:1)

“Devoted” to

1. Apostle’s Teaching

We’re a school of the LORD’s service. We are under the Scriptures.

2. Fellowship (Greek: “sharing”)

A new family/community is formed. Following Jesus is not an individual experience.

3. Breaking of Bread

They did it corporately and at home.

4. Prayer

a. Talking to God
b. Listening to God
c. Being with God


The early church was intentional. It has difficult. It required sacrifice. Many became martyrs. Their entire lives were God. They were breaking away from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Growth does not occur automatically. The one thing that occurs naturally in nature is weeds. The one thing that occurs naturally within us is sin.

This is about resetting your entire life.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

A Sample Rule of Life:

a. Scripture (through the Bible in a year;
lectio divina, memorization)
b. Silence and Solitude

c. Daily Office (the Divine Hours, Psalms, Book of Common Prayer)
d. Study (reading, learning, exploring)

e. Sabbath
f. Simplicity
g. Play and Recreation (fun!)

h. Service and Mission
i. Care for the Physical Body

j. Emotional Health
k. Family
l. Community (Companions for your journey)

What is your next step?

It must be a heart thing, not a to-do list.

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way. The love of Christ must come before all else.” -Benedict

Luke 18:9-14

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ (Luke 18:9-12)

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13)

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Are you growing in your love for your enemies?

The goal of a rule of life is a heart transformation, not self-righteous behavior. It’s a journey, not a destination.

What is your trellis? What is your plan to follow Jesus? What are your next steps?

God, not my will, but Yours!

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Grow Into An Emotionally Mature Adult, 12 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The sixth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to grow into an emotionally mature adult.


What is love?

Martin Buber has said that as we become emotionally mature, we experience each person as sacred (including ourselves), viewing them as a “Thou” and not “it.”

Loving well is the goal of the Christian life.

The Good Samaritan—Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (
Luke 10:26)

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Luke 10:27)

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
(Luke 10:28)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
(Luke 10:30-35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
(Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37)

Different Parts/Components of Who We Are


Becoming a follower of Jesus does not instantly transform every area of our lives.

Two Myths

1. When I accept Christ and He comes to live inside me, growing into an emotionally mature adult is natural.

2. Christian’s ability to love those around them is qualitatively different than those outside the church.

Emotional Maturity

Emotional maturity could be defined as loving well. Are you a good lover?


-- feels a need, but can only cry
-- must wait for parents to figure it out
-- becomes angry if parent is inattentive

-- can communicate but still dependent on others
-- acts out feelings of pain, fear and resentment
-- lacks skill to openly discuss and negotiate getting needs met

-- rebels against parental authority
-- defines self in reaction to others, fears being treated as “child”
-- “don’t tell me what to do”

Adult as Emotional Infant
-- treats others as “objects to meet my needs”
-- acts like tyrant and wins through intimidation
-- unable to empathize with others

Adult as Emotional Child
-- acts out resentment through distance, pouting, whining, clinging, lying, withholding,
appeasing, lying.
-- does not openly and honestly express needs

Adult as Emotional Adolescent
-- cannot give without feeling controlled or resentful
-- capacity for mutual concern is missing
-- defensive, threatened by criticism


1. Able to ask for what they need, want, prefer – clearly, directly, honestly, respectfully.
2. Desire for relationships to win. Seeks win-win situations.
3. Able to listen with empathy.
4. Willing to risk saying what is needed without attacking.
5. Respects others without having to change them.
6. Able to resolve conflicts maturely and negotiate solutions.
7. Gives themselves and others room to make mistakes and not be perfect.

God’s Top Two

There are two primary commands in Scripture

a. love God
b. love others


The key question in the story involves the definition of one’s neighbor. Most people seek good neighbors when they move into a house. We want to be surrounded by people who are nice and safe. It obvious that the expert in the law had a narrow definition of neighbor. The biblical command was simple:

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

The Hebrew word is “rea” which means neighbor, friend, companion, or associate.

Jesus blows his mind with His definition of neighbor, the central argument of the story.

The Good Samaritan

The road traveled in this story descends about 3300 feet over a seventeen-mile path through desert and rocky country. Jericho was home to many religious leaders. Why did the priest and Levite walk on the other side of the road? Have you ever done such a thing to another person, not literally, perhaps, but figuratively?

The priest and the Levite have disconnected loving God and loving others. They knew the Bible and paraded religion, but their hearts were hard. They passed by.

The Samaritan takes pity. He is moved. The real scandal of this story is that Samaritans were viewed as second-class citizens by the Jews. The Talmud says that he who eats bread with a Samaritan is like the one who eats the flesh of pigs.

Who do you hate? Who do you know that is going to Hell?

The Samaritan is moved with deep compassion and he responds. Jesus tells us to “go and do likewise.”

Note that the Samaritan has enough self-awareness and self-respect to continue his own journey, yet still manages to serve the man in need. He delegates some of the care but provides the resources. We are all given many resources—time, talents, treasures, relationships—that can be leveraged to serve others.


You and I are the person on the side of the road and Jesus is the One who had mercy on us, forgave us, gave His life for us, and rescued us. We are here by the grace of God.

Two Applications:

1. Become aware of your family of origin’s capability for emotional connection

Many families invested in our education, physical health, or even spiritual knowledge. Many fail to invest in our emotional maturity. Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress? Think of a time when one of your parents/caregivers comforted you when you were really upset, scared or sad for some reason?

The goal is not to find fault with our parents, but to ruthlessly face the truth of our upbringing in order to deal with issues from our past.

1. Did you learn to trust?
2. Did you learn to respect others?
3. Did you learn to wait and to take turns?
4. Did your parents/caregivers understand your behavior?
5. Were your feelings allowed?
6. Were you allowed to be the child?
7. Did you learn independence and dependence?

2. Take practical steps of discipleship to grow into an emotionally mature adult

It can be terrifying. Some of us do not even know how to feel. Where do we start?

We must follow the path of Abraham, leaving our pasts and families and cultures (the bad stuff) and turning to God. This is impossible apart from God.

We must repent (turn away) from our past and then move forward.

If you want to run a marathon, you must train and build up to it over time. Becoming an emotionally healthy adult requires baby steps.

Discipleship is a lifelong journey. It is hard. It takes time. It is worth it!

The alternative is living your life as a prisoner of your past.

We should love the best because we are loved the best.

“Being listened to is so close to feeling loved that for the average person they are indistinguishable.” -David Augsburger

We need to practice the presence of God (see book by Brother Lawrence) and practice the presence of people.

We are born sinful and selfish, but when we die to ourselves and allow Jesus Christ to live in and through us, we are able to love others the way Jesus loves us.

Paul said,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

Fill In The Blank

I really appreciate ______________.

I really hope _________________.

Questions for Discussion

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

Who do you love? Who do you hate?

How is it possible that we can love God and not our neighbor? Or is it possible?

Do you use people to get things or use things to serve people?

What would it look like for you to treat every human being as a “Thou,” created in God’s image with dignity, value and worth?

How would our world be different if everyone loved their neighbor?

Do you treat people differently on their birthday? What if you treated everyone as if every day was their birthday?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Discover The Rhythms Of The Daily Office And Sabbath, 5 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The fifth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to discover the rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath.

Connecting With God

How do you connect with God? Many people engage in religious activities to learn about or appease God. The essence of Christianity, however, is a relationship with God. All relationships require time, effort, and dedication. Today we will be discussing two powerful tools to help you grow in your relationship with God. These are not two things to add to your to-do list. They are not a measure of your spirituality. If used, however, they will radically enhance your relationship with God and yourself.

Daniel 6

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” (Daniel 6:9-11)


Our culture knows nothing about rhythms. We live life 24/7, an expression that was unknown a decade ago. We use words like chaos, scattered, distracted, stressed, and overwhelmed to describe our existence. We are always on the way to something or somewhere. We strive for bigger, better, and faster.

How do I have a calm, centered life that is oriented around God?

You were created to know and love God and be known by and loved by Him.

We need to slow down to connect with God. How?

You cannot jump off a moving treadmill. You must slow it down first.

The Daily Office and Sabbath bring rhythm to our lives daily and weekly.

The Daily Office or Fixed-Hour Prayer: daily rhythm

Daniel is at the University of Babylon, essentially. His name is changed and the leaders attempt to take God out of him. Our culture is much like Babylon, trying to make us think and act like the world rather than God.

Daniel is a busy, respected man in service to the king.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel prays three times each day on his knees. Posture is meaningful. This is not just a quick quiet time or devotional.

Office (
opus) means “work of God” in Latin. My work is to seek and be with God.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

That is David’s work. An office is about being with God, not trying to get things from God. Our first work is to seek God and be with God.

How can you be aware of and conscious of God throughout the day? You must stop and pause throughout the day to be aware of His presence.

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. (Psalms 119:164)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
(Psalm 92:1-2)

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
(Psalm 55:17)

The Psalms are a prayer book.

The Daily Office is frequently associated with Catholics or highly liturgical denominations. All followers of Jesus can benefit from books of prayer that incorporate Scripture and reflection.

The issue is not what you do, but getting connected with God through Scripture and silence where you can be still in the presence of God.

Kierkegaard said,

The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply: Create silence. All will be acquired in stillness and made divine in silence.

The only thing that can contain God is silence. The only way to experience it is to do it. It’s simple, but difficult.

Distractions are always present, but with practice they become easier to ignore.

The idea of the Daily Office is to stop several times throughout the day to pause and remember God. It is a discipline to order your day to remind you what is important in life: God. It centers you.

The four classic office periods are

- Morning: 6-9 AM
- Midday: 11 AM-2 PM
- Evening: 5-8 PM
- Bedtime: before you close your eyes!

Start and close your day with God and remember Him throughout the day. The Daily Office is like a mini Sabbath each day.

Most people live off of the spirituality of others because they do not make time for God.
The Daily Office may involve

- reading Scripture
- reading a prayer book
- taking a walk
- journaling
- whatever works for you to connect with God throughout the day
- breaks throughout the day of 5-30 minutes

Sabbath: weekly rhythm

This is a command by God for us to stop for a 24-hour period each week.

The Sabbath is the first holy thing mentioned in the Bible.

Do nothing one day a week.

Without the fourth and longest commandment, you cannot do the other nine.

God’s Top Ten: Exodus 20:1-17

1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord our God. On it you shall not do any work,... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”

5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false witness.
10. You shall not covet.

God commands rhythm in our lives of work and rest.

Sabbath was made for us not us for the Sabbath.

Sabbath is about self-care. Our world says you are what you do. Your life is God alone, not your outputs and performance.

Qualities to Biblical Sabbath

-- Stopping
-- Resting
-- Delighting
-- Contemplating

You must prepare for the Sabbath. You can’t just do it.

The core issue is trusting God.

We taste heaven on the Sabbath.

Sabbath is very radical. It has always been revolutionary!

It’s like a snow day every week!

It’s not a punishment but a gift. There is no place for legalism, it is to be a delight.

Sabbath Scriptures

The word “Sabbath” appears 116 times in the NIV translation of the Bible.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
(Exodus 20:10)

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:11)

“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.
(Exodus 31:14)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
(Exodus 31:15)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)

“‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:3)

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
(Deuteronomy 5:12)

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
(Deuteronomy 5:15)

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
(Matthew 12:8)

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27-28)

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
(Luke 23:56)

The Ancient Practice of Silence/Solitude: Guidelines

1. Be
Attentive and Open
2. Get Comfortable. Be Relaxed. Still
3. Take Deep Breath.
4. Close or Lower Your Eyes toward the Ground

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. (
Psalms 130:5)


We live in Babylon. Our culture is diametrically opposed to God. We are bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle messages that seduce us away from the things of God.

If you are serious about following Jesus, you will need to do radical, counter-cultural things with your time, talents, and treasures. An hour on Sunday is not enough to maintain a relationship with God. A quick prayer at dinner or bedtime is not sufficient either. None of us—myself included—are able to spend all of our waking hours in prayer and Bible study, but we can periodically incorporate Scripture and silence into our daily lives and pause for one day a week to do nothing.

There are no shortcuts to relationships. Ever!

We were created to know God. The Daily Office and weekly Sabbath are biblical, powerful, and revolutionary ways to breathe deeply, be with God, and become like Jesus. They require sacrifice—Daniel faced a den of lions for his prayers—but the reward is worth it.

A Sample Daily Office For Groups

1. Pause for two minutes of silence (Psalm 46:10)
2. Read aloud Psalm 90:4, 12, 17
3. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
4. Read aloud Psalm 33:20-22
5. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
6. Read aloud Matthew 6:9-14
7. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
8. Read aloud Isaiah 30:15 and Psalm 86:11, 13a
9. Pause for two minutes of silence

For Further Reading

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle

Praying With The Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today by Scot McKnight
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence 
Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Too Deep for Words by Thelma Hall 
Sabbath Presence by Kathleen Casey

The Divine Hours
Sacred Space
Pray As You Go (audio daily office)
Northumbria Community:

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief And Loss, 29 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzeros’ book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The fourth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to enlarge your soul through grief and loss.


Adrian Rogers said that everything in life relates to sin, sorrow and death.

All of life is about loss. We lose the safety of our mother’s womb, youth, dreams, control, illusions, and ultimately our health.

Grief and loss is done differently in various cultures and families.

Two-thirds of the Psalms deal with grief. They are called laments. The books of Job and Lamentations are also filled with grief and loss.

Scripture has been called the music of God.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
(Ecclesiastes 3:4)


Few understand loss and grief more than Job. He’s not the only one, though!

Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41)

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. (Matthew 26:43-44)

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:45-46)

Jesus is depressed and sorrowful. He is distressed. The word in the book of Mark means horror.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7)

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)

He falls to His face to the ground. He is prostrate on the ground. His sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He is experiencing loss, preparing for the loss of His life and, even worse, the loss of His connection to the Father. He will become sin, taking our sins upon Himself. He will bear the wrath and judgment of a holy God. He will lose his friend Judas. He will lose the support of His followers who will abandon Him. His creation will crucify Him…all in the name of God!

This is not an attractive image of the King of kings and LORD of lords! One element of the Scriptures that lends to their credibility is the raw, honest portrayals of the “heroes” of the Bible. The writers are never afraid to tell it like it is, warts and all!

This is not happy, successful, popular, wealthy Jesus!

This is our perfect model of what it means to be fully human.

Reactions To Pain

Divorce, death, breakups, failures, disappointments, shattered dreams, painful memories, and other forms of grief and loss invade our lives. Common reactions/defenses to grief and loss include

- denial
- minimizing (admitting something is wrong, but not acknowledging its impact)
- blaming others (or God)
- blaming yourself
- rationalizing (offering excuses and justifications)
- intellectualizing (analysis and theories to avoid personal awareness/feelings)
- distracting
- becoming hostile
- medicating

We love to bury the pain of grief with addictions that are followed by guilt and shame as we lose control.

Biblical Grieving

1. Pay attention
2. Wait in the confusing in-between (Ps. 37:7)
3. Embrace the gift of limits

In addition to loss, we are faced with limits in our life. Limits in our life include

- physical body
- family of origin
- marital status
- intellectual capacity
- talents and gifts
- material wealth
- educational opportunities
- raw material (personality, temperament)
- time
- work
- relationship realities
- spiritual understanding
- ministry

4. Climb the ladder of humility

The word humility comes from the Latin humus which means “of the earth.”

St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility

Step 8 Transformation into the Love of God
Step 7 Speaking Less
Step 6 Deeply Aware of Being “Chief of All Sinners”
Step 5 Radical Honesty to Others About Your Weaknesses/Faults
Step 4 Patience To Accept The Difficulty of Others
Step 3 Willing To Subject Ourselves To The Direction of Others
Step 2 Doing God’s Will (Not Your Own Or Other People’s)
Step 1 Fear of God and Mindfulness of Him

Listening To The Interruption

Jesus doesn’t deny his grief. Why do so many Christians?

Jesus is real and authentic. He feels. He expresses His emotions.

He listens to the interruptions of His life.

Have you ever felt so bad that you could just die? That’s how Jesus felt.

This passage is difficult for some people who want Jesus the superhero. For the rest of us, it is reassuring that He understands our struggles and trials and agony.

It is human to feel and hurt.

Learning To Fall

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

Book by Philip Simmons, contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 35.

The trash of the grief may spell, but there are diamonds in the mess that God can use.

When we listen to the interruption and learn to fall, our souls will enlarge.

a. our self-will breaks

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8)

Jesus had a human will. He was fully God but also fully human. His humanity did not want to obey the Father. He did not naturally obey the Father. He wanted out. He submitted His will to the Father’s will.

Jesus prayed three times for the Father’s will.

You learn obedience through the struggle of grief.

You lose control at the wall (last week’s message).

Life is more than a series of problems we need to solve. Life is a mystery.

b. we learn about prayer

Prayer is the center of our life with Christ. David, Job, Jeremiah, Jesus grieved with God through prayer.

c. we create space for God

In emptying ourselves, we make room for more of God. When we give up control, we can lean into God.


The beauty of dying to ourselves is the opportunity to be resurrected in Christ. This is beautifully illustrated in the water grave of baptism.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Jesus knows and understands life. He knows temptation (Hebrews 4:15) and suffering.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is a law of progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstance
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Journey Through The Wall, 22 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The third pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to journey through the Wall.


Life is a journey. We are all at different places in the journey. It matters not where you are, but where you are headed.

The Bible is full of journeys. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land. Jesus spent three years journeying with his disciples. Life is not a simple straight line. We have detours, curves...and obstacles or Walls.


What is the greatest obstacle in your life? It might be your job, finances, physical health, shattered dream, betrayal, a wayward child, being single, your marriage, etc. The Wall is not a traffic jam or getting the flu. It’s a season of testing or a severe trial.

If you’re honest, there are moments in our lives when we just don’t understand. Our faith does not appear to work. God seems distant or absent. We have more questions than answers. St. John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul.

On Monday nights at the greenroom we’ve been talking about being real with God with our anger, fear, and even doubt. For reasons sometimes known only by God, we just don’t understand. We ask why. We cry out for help.

I’ve done that countless times—especially over the past several years. I’ve faced walls, I’ve searched for God, I’ve struggled with pain, uncertainty, and stress.

If you’ve ever felt like the door of heaven was closing when you prayed, you’re not alone. If you’ve ever felt helpless, empty, dry, or defeated, you’re in good company. Today we’re going to look at the story of a man who faced an incredible wall. In his case it wasn’t the absence of God, but God’s presence and outrageous command that challenged his faith and reality.

The Bible...and church history is filled with people who have faced walls.

Ignatius Loyola, John Wesley, Augustine, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill, and countless others have experienced stages of their faith.

David cried out to God for years when Saul and his men pursued him, and he
was forced to hide in caves.

Psalms 69, 70, 71 and others are filled with cries for help from God. In fact, the largest category of psalms—about 1/3 of them—are psalms of lament.

Consider Job. Satan challenged God to take away Job’s wealth, animals, children, and good health, all as a way to see if Job would continue to be upright. At first, Job cries out to God, but God does not answer right away (Job 13: 20-26). Eventually, God speaks up and Job repents and relents (Job 42:1-6).


Abraham had his share of Walls in his life. He was asked to leave his family and travel to an unknown land. He arrived and encountered a famine, had a conflict with his nephew Lot, his wife was unable to have children, he bounced off that wall and had a son with his wife’s servant.

At age 110 he hit another wall. His promised son was finally born and then God asks him to do the unthinkable.

Genesis 22...

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:1-2)

God does not tempt, but tests Abraham to confirm his faith and prove his commitment.

This seems so bizarre to us, yet in that day child sacrifices were commonly offered to pagan gods.

Tragically, 1/3 of my generation has been killed, but that’s another issue for another time.

Mount Moriah is now the covered with the Dome of the Rock in Israel, a Muslim structure.

Abraham faces a Wall, a test that he causes a crisis of faith.

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:3-5)

Imagine that journey!

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
(Genesis 22:6-7)

Good question!

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied. (Genesis 22:8-11)

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:12-14)

Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich developed a model in their work
The Critical Journey: States in the Life of Faith that looks something like this...

Stage 1: the beginning; we recognize our need for God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness

Stage 2: we learn about God and what it means to follow Jesus.

Stage 3: we get involved, serving God and His people with our gifts and passions

We encounter the Wall which turns our world upside down. Our faith doesn’t seem to work.

Many people get stuck at the Wall and refuse to do the hard work necessary to journey through it. They give up their faith, mask their true heart, or self-medicate.

How do we get through the Wall?

- by the grace and timing of God
- on our hands and knees
- through deep introspection
- by releasing the trappings of this world
- with prayer and help from others
- with determined faith
- by not giving up hope or giving in to temptation
- by not losing sight of God

Stage 4: The Wall compels us to the inward journey. Sometimes the inward journey leads us to the Wall. It is ultimately God that brings us to the Wall.

Stage 5: after passing through our crisis of faith, we begin to serve God, but this time we give out of a new, grounded center of ourselves in God. We have a deep, inner stillness and an awareness of God’s deep, unconditional love for us.

Stage 6: the brokenness we have experienced coupled with the healing of the Holy Spirit brings us to a place where we surrender to God, His will, and His power.

There are several things that the Wall roots out in our lives.

- pride
- greed

luxury (using God for your own pleasure)
wrath (easily irritated)
spiritual gluttony
spiritual envy

The Wall changes everything!

You may not know exactly when you begin to go through the Wall, or when you reach the other side. Ultimately God moves us through the Wall and there is a mystery to it, but you are making progress if you experience shifts in your life.

From Pride To Brokenness

Years ago there was a young preacher that was attracting huge crowds of people. An older, wise pastor was asked about him and said, “He’s gifted, but he’s not broken yet.”

When we journey through the Wall, we are forever changed. We are broken. We endure pain, but experience transformation in the process. Our affections and passions are purged.

Richard Rohr has written five realities that we must recognize if we are to grow into maturity.

- Life is hard.
- You are not that important.
- Your life is not about you.
- You are not in control.
- You are going to die.

From Pleasure To Appreciation

Rather than focusing on our own pleasures, we have an awareness of ourselves, God, and the world around us. We begin to seek His pleasure.

We don’t take things for granted.

We also have a greater awareness and appreciation of the mystery of God. We know He does not fit into a tidy box. As the classic line from the Narnia book says, we realize that He is not safe, but He’s good.

The more I know about God, the less I know about Him. That may sound like a bad thing, but actually it’s wonderful to have a child-like faith filled with awe and wonder, resting in the truth that God is in control...and I’m not!

From Impatience To Patience

I hate to wait, but I’m slowly—pun intended!—learning that God’s timing is perfect. He is never late, but rarely early.

I want things now, God knows best.
Look at Psalm 130.

A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their
(Psalm 130)

Here’s a man facing the Wall, yet aware of God’s perfect timing. He’s been through the wall previously.

Abraham learned to wait. He was 75 when he was told he would be a dad. Eleven years later, he got tired of waiting and birthed Ishmael through his maidservant Hagar. He waited another fourteen years for Isaac. Then he had to wait until the very last moment for God to provide a sacrifice in place of Isaac, his cherished son.

There are so many similar examples throughout the Bible, yet we literally read years or decades in a sentence or two.

From More To Enough

The purpose of the Wall is not to harm us, but to help us detach from certain selfish actions and desires and experience a more intimate, loving attachment to God.

Those who are most detached on the journey are best able to taste the purest joy in the beauty of created things.

They are able to experience contentment. They look to Jesus to be enough.

They are able to fully surrender to God and worship Him with all we are.

You can listen to the podcast

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.

Going Back In Order To Go Forward, 15 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The second pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to embrace our past, breaking free from the destructive sinful patterns of our past to live the life of love that God intends.

Going Back In Order To Go Forward

Pete Scazzero notes two essential biblical truths:

1. The blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generations profoundly impact who we are today.

2. Discipleship requires putting off the sinful patterns of our family of origin and re-learning how to do life God’s way in God’s family.

The Background

We all come from broken families. Some are certainly more functional than others, but since the first child, Cain, killed his brother Abel, we have passed down dysfunction and sin from generation to generation.

Joseph’s story fills the last quarter of the book of Genesis. His family is about as dysfunctional as they come.

a. He comes from a blended family. His dad had children from two wives and two
concubines. Twelve sons all lived together.
b. Joseph was clearly the special son, making his brothers jealous.
c. Joseph’s brothers sell him off and tell their dad that he was killed by an animal.

He is sold into slavery, then rots in a prison for years on false rape charges.

How would you feel sitting in a prison cell for years for something you did not do? What would you think/feel about your family? About God?

Family Genogram

Joseph is the eleventh child, one of twelve brothers and one sister.

Take some time to sketch your family

Joseph has three major traumas

1. At age 17, he is thrown into a deep well by his brothers (Genesis 37).
2. He gets sold as a slave for $80,000 (two years wages) and his father is told he
is dead. He loses his language, culture, family, freedom, everything!
3. He was in prison unjustly for many years (Genesis 39-40).

Twenty-two years later, he encounters his brothers (Genesis 42).

He had every reason to be bitter and enslaved by his past. Instead, he clearly understands his heritage but allows God, not his family of origin, to determine his future.

Genesis 50:15-21

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (Genesis 50:15-17)

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. (Genesis 50:18)

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)

Joseph breaks from the “normal” family tradition by forgiving his brothers. What would you have done?

What has Joseph learned about himself, God, and his family (see 19-21)?

Genesis 50:20 is a summary of the Old Testament.

5 Basic Needs be Met for Healthy Development (Pesso)

-- need for “place” the world was waiting for your arrival; you were wanted
-- need for nurture words and touch
-- need for support loving, caring environments
-- need for protection physically, emotionally from harm
-- need for limits boundaries (see Townsend and )

Sin and rebellion destroy families from God’s original intention

Cain and Abel were just the beginning! All of our families are messed up! Jesus allows us to be born again, but we cannot ignore our past. We must put off the sinful elements of our past to become transformed and a blessing to the world.


We must know what went on deep beneath the surface of our family.

Ten Commandments of Your Family

Which of the following messages were sent to you by your family, spoken or unspoken?

1. Money. Money is the best source of security. The more money you have, the more important your are.

2. Conflict. Avoid conflict at all costs. Don’t get people mad at you. Loud, angry, constant fighting is normal.

3. Sex. Sex is not to be spoken about openly. Men can be promiscuous but women must be chaste. Sexuality in marriage will come easily.

4. Grief and Loss. Sadness is a sign of weakness. You are not allowed to be depressed. Get over losses quickly and move on.

5. Expressing Anger. Anger is dangerous and bad. Explode in anger to make a point. Sarcasm is an acceptable way to release anger.

6. Family. Duty to family & culture comes before everything. You owe your parents for all they’ve done for you. Don’t speak of your family’s “dirty laundry” in public.

7. Relationships. Don’t trust people. They will let you down. Nobody will ever hurt me again. Don’t show vulnerability.

8. Attitudes toward other cultures. Only be close friends with people who are like you. Do not marry a person of another race or culture. Certain cultures/races are not as good as mine.

9. Success. Is getting to into the ”best schools.” Is making lots of money. Is getting married and having children.

10. Feelings and Emotions. You are not allowed to have certain feelings. Your feelings are not important. Reacting with your feelings without thinking is okay.

3 Practical Applications

1. Recognize the iceberg in you from your family

We can easily ignore or underestimate it. The effect of our families is deeper than any of us realize. Your family is filled with patterns. We all have negative patterns. When we recognize them, we can choose to maintain or change them. When you are unaware of them, you are doomed to pass them on.

2. Discern the good God intends “in, through, and in spite of,” your family and past

God knew what He was doing. He has a great plan for you and your life. God is working in a hidden, mysterious way. He was doing it in Joseph’s life and He’s doing it in you. We are often unaware of what God is doing, but He can be trusted. Joseph trusts God. He knows that God is good and God is sovereign (in control). He knows God. He certainly spent many years in prayer and solitude.

3. Make the decision to do the hard work of discipleship

This includes silence, solitude, Scripture, and small groups. Discipleship is breaking the sinful patterns of our past and being recreated into the image of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Pete Scazzero writes

“Going back in order to go forward is something we must do in the context of community—with mature friends, a mentor, spiritual director, counselor, or therapist. We need trusted people in our lives of whom we can ask, ‘How do you experience me? Tell me the feelings and thoughts you have when you are with me. Please be honest with me.’ Prayerfully listening to their answers will go a long way toward healing and getting a perspective on areas of our lives that need to be addressed. Needless to say, this takes a lot of courage.”

God’s Plans

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Four Lessons From Joseph’s Life

1. He understood God’s goodness and love, even during the storms
2. He expressed his emotions and loss, allowing him to truly forgive
3. He moved forward despite his past
4. He partnered with God to bless others

The Good News

God is in the business of transformation! His grace (unmerited favor) and love are endless. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a new creation. God is your father. Your sins are forgiven. You have been given a new name. You have been given a new inheritance. You have been given new brothers and sisters (Ephesians 1).

In the movie
“Good Will Hunting,” Sean (Robin Williams) repeatedly tells his patient Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault.” We are all products of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. We have all been dealt an imperfect deck. But it can be restored. There is hope in Jesus Christ. His plans for you are fantastic!

Are you willing to go back in order to go forward? Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Fear of bringing secrets and sin into the light paralyzes so many followers of Jesus from truly experiencing the abundant life and transformation that Jesus wants us to experience.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Questions for Discussion

What words would describe the way your family related to one another when you were growing up?

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

On a scale of 1 (very troubled) to 100 (very nurturing), how would you describe your family?

What messages did you receive from your parents or guardians as a child?

What “earthquake” events sent “aftershocks” into your family?

How do these messages compare to messages you have received about God’s family?

What one area needs the most change?

How does your family of origin impact you today? What areas do you need to address in order to move forward?


You can listen to the podcast here.


Series outline and ideas from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.

Know Yourself That You May Know God, 8 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzeros’ book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The first pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to know yourself.

Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality

1. Using God to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
9. Living without limits
10. Judging the spiritual journeys of others

Know Yourself That You May Know God

How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?

Augustine in Confessions, AD 500

Our wisdom…consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, AD 1530

Who Are You?

From the beginning of sin in the Garden of Eden, we have been hiding ourselves from God and others.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:6-7

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

We live our lives filled with guilt and shame so we put on masks.

Here are some symptoms that you are hiding your true self:

1. I say “yes” when I really mean “no.”
2. I get depressed when people are upset with me.
3. I have a need to be approved by others to feel good about myself.
4. I act nice on the outside, but inside “I can’t stand you!”
5. I often remain silent in order to “keep the peace”.
6. I believe that if I make mistakes, I myself am a failure.
7. I avoid looking weak or foolish for not having the answer.
8. I criticize others in order to feel better about myself.
9. I have to be doing something exceptional to feel alive.
10. I have to be needed to feel alive.
11. I am fearful and can’t take risks.
12. I do what others want so they don’t get mad at me
13. I use knowledge and competence to cover my feelings of inadequacy.
14. I want my children to behave well so others will think I am a good parent.
15. I compare myself a lot to other people.

1 Samuel 17:26-40 David

Goliath mocks God and defies the armies of Israel.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. 1Samuel 17:4-7

King Saul and the Israelites are afraid.

On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 1Samuel 17:11

Eighty times Goliath taunts them.

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. 1Samuel 17:16

Nobody can even imagine facing this giant.

When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.
1Samuel 17:24

David knows himself, but He also knows God.

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1Samuel 17:26

They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” 1Samuel 17:27

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 1Samuel 17:28

How’s that for a confidence boost? Even the best of families are messed up.

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. 1Samuel 17:29-31

David stands up to his family (28-31).

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 1Samuel 17:32

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” 1Samuel 17:33

David stands up to significant others with authority and experience (32-33).

King Saul and the people of Israel said they believed in God, but their acted like atheists. How often do we lack faith and act as if God does not exist?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
1Samuel 17:34-36

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
1Samuel 17:37

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 1Samuel 17:38

David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
1Samuel 17:39-40

David knows himself. He is an expert on himself and is able to discern wise counsel from unwise counsel.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

We must seek counsel, but it is not always good for us.

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 1Samuel 17:41-44

David stands up to Goliath (vv.41-44)

Again, David knows himself and God.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1Samuel 17:45-47

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 1Samuel 17:48-49

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 1Samuel 17:50

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
1Samuel 17:51

David didn’t face Goliath to look good, please people, or make a name for himself. He did not have the strength to defeat Goliath, but he had God and a slingshot. He did not lack common sense, but was aware of his God-given abilities with a slingshot and his God. He is afraid of nothing.

You and I have God-given abilities and tools if we will use them to glorify Him.

Do you know your strengths? Weaknesses? Spiritual gifts? Pathways to God? Personality? There are tools (see below) that can assist you in discovering how God uniquely wired you up.

We hurt ourselves and others when we are not true to ourselves.

The ultimate question once we know who we are goes back to last week. Do you seek to bring glory to God or yourself.

Four practical principles to begin making the radical transition to living faithful to our true self in Christ.

1. Pay Attention to Your Interior in silence and solitude
2. Find trusted companions
3. Move out of your comfort zone
4. Pray for courage

The people of Israel knew God intellectually, but not experientially.

David points to Jesus. They are both saviors and conquerors opposed to Satan.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalms 23:3

Reflection Questions

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

What giants are drawn up against you in battle? How are they taunting you? Is your attitude toward them more like Saul’s or David’s? How does that attitude need to change?

What larger missionary purpose might be accomplished for God if you would turn that battle over to the LORD?

What’s holding you back from tackling the bull by the horns (or the Goliath by a slingshot)? What do you fear might happen if you turned and faced the enemy who taunts you and defies God? What’s the “worst case scenario”? Having imagined that, now re-write the end result with God on your side.

What Goliaths are there in society, defying God and Christians? How can you, small and unarmed, work to bring them down? What can your Journey Group do?

How important is the approval of people versus the depth of your soul?

Questions for Reflection

What are you angry about?
What are you sad about?
What are you afraid of?
What are you enjoying?
What brings you shame?
What do you dream about?
What do you sing about?
What do you cry about?
What are you beginning to realize/learn about yourself?

Recommended Resources

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Free Spiritual Pathway Discovery Tool

Free Spiritual Gifts Discovery Tool

Strengths Finder

You can listen to the podcast here.


Series outline and ideas from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Some study questions from Lyman Coleman (
The Serendipity Bible and The Serendipity Student Bible). Used with permission from the author.

Other study questions from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook by Peter Scazzero (Center for Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, 2007).

The Problem With Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality, 1 January 2012

Big Idea: The life of King Saul provides us with a portrait of an emotionally unhealthy man. His example can be a warning for us all, driving us to our knees and dependence upon God as we strip away the illusions in our lives and get real with ourselves, God, and others.

Happy New Year! Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? Perhaps the most common one is to get in shape. Our culture loves to focus on the physical, and why not? It’s the most obvious and visible to others. Years ago Billy Crystal’s character “Nando” used to say, “It’s not how you feel, but how you look...and darling, you look maaavelous!”

Our physical bodies are important. They are the temple in which the Spirit of God dwells.
Jesus was asked how to inherit eternal life.

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

We are holistic beings. God created each of us with a heart, soul, body and mind and they impact one another. When your body is sick, you’re more likely to be crabby. When your mind is stimulated, you may be motivated toward physical action. When your soul is uplifted, there’s a good chance that your mood will become more positive.

Contrary to some western thinking, we are not compartmentalized creatures but multi-dimensional.

We begin the new year with a series entitled
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

The purpose of this series is ultimately to draw you closer to God and, ultimately, to others. It has been said that some Christians are so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good, and I’ve witnessed that. Perhaps you’ve met someone that is “spiritual” but miserable to be around.

Last month...last year!...I had a pastor friend say that he had a group of elderly people at his church that attended church every Sunday, had studied the Bible, and gave generously, but they were mean and grumpy!

Then I had a friend tell me about a family member who always talks about God but is filled with insecurity and envy.

Then I had a personal encounter with a family member who is a life-long Christian but was guilty of gossip and judging others.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be healthy and normal...like me? Ha!!!

Several years ago I was introduced to a book called
The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. The subtitle is “a strategy for discipleship that actually changes lives.” I was so impacted by the book that I gave it to all of the leaders at the church I was leading. Weeks after becoming the pastor here at Scio, I was informed of a monthly pastor’s gathering with the Alliance and began attending. This was the book we studied together. Later in the year, I was asked to attend a special seminar on the subject.

It’s a great book that I highly recommend, but when I read it for the first time, I remember being delighted by the “what” but asking “how?” Then I read the sequel!
Scazzero’s book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is easily one of the top five books I have ever read. As he states on the cover, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.” Although I rarely use a book other than the Bible for ideas (Radical was an exception), I taught much of the material I’ll be sharing with you when I was at Frontline Church and it was probably the most talked-about, transformation series I have ever done. I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than to get emotionally healthy.

In life, things are not always as they appear. An iceberg is a remarkable formation that appears large on the surface, but actually is much larger under the surface. In fact, only ten percent of an iceberg is visible about the water.

In a similar way, we can attend church gatherings on Sunday, put on a happy face, and mask our true self from others who we fear will judge or shame or shun us. It’s easy to be a Christ-follower for an hour on Sunday, but what really goes on in your life during the rest of the week? What really goes on in your heart the rest of the week?

How are you doing? No, really!

Christians can be the biggest fakers. There are written and unwritten expectations of how Christians are supposed to act. Can a Christian drink alcohol, attend an R-rated movie, swear, smoke, wear makeup, dance, or listen to rock music? These are just a few of the external behaviors that have been prohibited in many so-called Christian circles that never address the core heart issues and motivations that affect not just what we do but who we are.

The problem of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality is huge. Too many so-called Christians look great on the outside, but inside they are a wreck...and afraid to admit it. We’re afraid that if people know who we really are that they’d reject us.

We crave intimacy but are terrified by it, not only on Sundays, but for many of us in our own homes.

Can you think of anyone who has appeared on the outside to be have their act together, only to find out later that they were a mess inside?

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1Samuel 16:7b)

What you and I need is not a list of dos and don’ts to follow in this new year. Following Jesus is not about a checklist. A WWJD bracelet that reminds us to “act” (as in actor) like Jesus is a far cry from becoming like Jesus. We need to be transformed from the inside out. This is not something that just happens overnight. It will require changing unhealthy habits that you and I have embraced our entire lives. Reading, prayer, Sunday messages, and especially midweek interactions will all be powerful in the process of becoming whole and healthy. Jesus said that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

When our kids were younger, we had conversations about swearing and why the pronunciation of certain words was deemed in appropriate. We explained that the sounds are not bad in and of themselves, but it is the heart behind the words that makes the difference.

The true test of who you are is not how you behave on Sunday or at some public gathering, but who you are when nobody is watching. Another test is how you respond to stress and unexpected challenges. When the going gets tough… One definition of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided.” That’s a beautiful image. We live in a culture that is obsessed with the external. What we need is a spiritual revolution that begins inside.

We’re going to look at a very emotionally unhealthy man who looked great on the outside. He had power, fame, money, and friends. He was very spiritual, too. He made a great mistake, though. He never dealt with the core of his being and his emotions sabotaged his success.

King Saul started out great, but went awry. He was commanded by God to wipe out the Amalekites. He partially obeys, but does not complete the mission. On the surface of Saul’s life, he looked great, but his life was out of order underneath the surface.

Let me set up the scene for you. Saul was appointed king of Israel by God after the people begged for a king like all of the surrounding nations despite God’s warning that it would be better to just serve God.

Saul is told to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

Saul kills his enemies, but keeps some animals.

But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

“Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.
(1 Samuel 15:14-16)

Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” (1 Samuel 15:17-19)

“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” (1 Samuel 15:20-21)
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. (1 Samuel 15:24)

There are three signs of emotionally unhealthy spirituality in Saul.

1. He refuses reflection and self-awareness

He is doing some of God’s will, but he is more concerned about the opinion of people. He is out of touch with his own fear.

A few verses later Saul says to Samuel

“I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” (1 Samuel 15:30)

There is jealousy in his life. He doesn’t want others to look better than he does, especially David. Here tries six times to murder David, so threatened by him. He believes he is doing God’s will but he is unaware of how shallow his spirituality is and his own sins. He was unaware of why he did the things that he was doing.

Why do you do what you do? So much of our lives are lived out of the layers beneath the surface. Reflection can be painful because we see our sin and feel guilty. It’s easier to deny our stuff and pretend.

Silence and solitude are required in order to examine our motives and feelings and thoughts on the inside. You can’t be in touch with God if you are not in touch with yourself.

Saul lived an illusion, presenting a false self to God, as if God could be tricked!

Many of us keep ourselves so busy and noisy that we cannot reflect.

Unlike David, Saul never spends time in silence and solitude. He never writes poems and songs, pouring out himself to God. David was aware of his own heart and expresses it to God.

2. He refuses to cultivate his own personal relationship with God

He began humble and blessed by God but never develops his relationship with God. He does not have a hidden life in God. He has a public one, but no personal relationship with God.

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

The words “obey” and “listen” are the same in Hebrew.

Saul though he was a pretty good guy but instead Samuel exposed the wickedness in his heart, calling him out on witchcraft and idolatry. He never asks, “What is God saying to me?”

Do you ever ask God what He is saying to you? Christianity is not meant to be merely intellectual, but experiential. What is God saying to you? He is speaking. Are you listening?

Dallas Willard told John Ortberg. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry. Ortberg said, “Okay, what’s next?”!

Contemplation is about getting God from your head to your heart. Sermons are a good start, but they are not the end. You must digest this food through Journey Groups and time alone with God.

The Pharisees knew all about God, but they never cultivated their relationship with God.

You must take responsibility for your relationship with God. Nobody else can do that for you. We can challenge you, provide you with tools and resources and opportunities for growth, but only you can cultivate your relationship with God.

It’s like marriage. People can give me books on marriage, I can attend marriage seminars, talk to people about marriage, and even decide in my head that I want a great marriage but if I don’t invest time and energy into my relationship with my bride, I will never have a good marriage.

3. He refuses to be broken by setbacks and difficulties

Trials can draw us to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). This does not mean the financially poor, but those that are desperate for God, broken by life and in need of God. The Father longs to be with us, know us, and spend time with us. He will often allow things to occur in our lives to get our attention because He wants nothing more than us and our hearts.

You cannot have God without poverty of spirit. You can have yourself, but not God.

The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus...

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. There are no shortcuts.

God is trying to humble Saul to make him great and Saul just wants to be great.

God wants to take the Saul out of us. There is a Saul in each of us. Our self-will and stubbornness must be removed.

There is nothing like testing and trials to destroy our illusions about ourselves, others, life. There is nothing like testing and trials to build our character. They bring about an authentic life.

This series is about emotional health and contemplative spirituality. Over the next several weeks we will be discussing these two subjects and how they can help us love God and love others.

Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality

1. Using God to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
9. Living without limits
10. Judging the spiritual journeys of others

Which one item is God bringing to your attention? Listen to Him. He delights when you listen to Him.

You are messed up, but Jesus offers forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Don’t run away from God but run to Him. The Gospel means “good news.”

That’s what we celebrated with communion. That’s why Jesus died. That’s why we have peace and hope and joy. That’s why 2012 can be different.

My prayer for you...and for me in 2012 is to know Jesus and look like Jesus. My desire is that one year from now we will reflect upon 2012 and see how God has led us and shaped us and helped us grow. This series will give you several tools to help in the process. The Radical Experiment is a huge part of it.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty