Archive for the ‘healing’ Category


October 5, 2022

You are on your way to the local coffee house. A brother or sister of the human family is along the way. Obviously hurting. You stop to chat. “I believe Jesus can heal you,” you say. “If you believe the way I believe, you’ll be OK.”

What if Jesus were passing that person?

He would stop whatever he was doing wherever he was going. Stop. Look at the person. Deeply. In the eyes. Into the soul. “What do you want?” he’d ask. Then he’d do it.

Reflect upon the people that he had this interaction with. Remember, he was a Jewish rabbi (teacher). He was culturally bound to interact with Jewish people primarily. Seldom or never with outsiders.

Yet, Jesus listened, acted for, and valued

  • A Syro-Phoenician woman (2 strikes, woman and outsider)
  • A Roman army officer (not only an outsider, but also a hated oppressor)
  • Many people with skin diseases whom he actually touched
  • A Jewish woman with a disorder that caused her to be unclean who touched him

He cared, loved, wept, was moved by all these people who were hurting.

Whom did he not care for? Pompous religious people who thought they had all the answers.

Wisdom, Or Be Careful What You Ask For

January 3, 2022

Solomon as an adolescent knew he would be king after his father, the famous King David. He talked with God, who told him he would grant a wish. Solomon asked for wisdom.

I often recommend reading the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Scriptures (Christian Old Testament) during the month of January in order to set off the year with good momentum. It’s the writings of Solomon’s wisdom teaching. 31 chapters—31 days in January. Read a chapter a day.

But, the story of Solomon didn’t turn out well. He lived a dissolute life. Many of his wives brought pagan gods into Israel. His son was barely king when he caused a split in the kingdom due to his lack of wisdom. The huge kingdom was gone in an instant.

Think about this. What if…what if he had asked God to help him act wisely instead of just to have wisdom.

We can know a lot, but we can still act like a fool. We can be a couple of lengths short of a PhD, yet we can live wisely.

I don’t care how much of the book of Proverbs you have memorized. What matters is what you do after you rise from bed tomorrow morning. Ask God to help you live wisely and with kindness this year.

Finding A Heart

October 1, 2021

The New Testament, as well as more ancient advice and modern spiritual explorers, teaches us to be aware and be careful of being ruled by our passions.

This can be as mild as foolishly spending money on unnecessary things. Or choosing to spend time with the wrong people.

It can be as bad as letting fear, lust, anger, greed, pride, and the rest rule our lives.

On the other hand, a coldly rational outlook following the rules and inhibiting relationship fuels a life alone and unsatisfying.

A TV series from Belgium explores some of these themes with deep probing and gentle understanding. Professor T features the struggles of a genius criminologist professor who assists a former student now detective inspector in solving murders. Along the way the writers probe the struggles and growth of perhaps 10 other characters.

The acting is superb. The soundtrack outstanding. The spoken language is Flemish (with some French—it is Belgium, so both languages are spoken—and English). We found it on Amazon Prime. I realize there are people reading this in countries where you may not be able to find this program. But if you can, it’s worth it. It was recorded in 2015, 2016, and 2018. Three seasons of 13 episodes. We’ve watched it over the past month. I’m going to miss the characters.

There is an English version, as in performed in England in English. We have seen this one. Not as good. There are also versions in German and French. We have not seen those. Watch the Belgian one. I cried at the end.

Overcoming passions keys a sound life. But as a preacher I used to listen to said, “Jesus was the first cardiologist. He was concerned with the condition of our heart.”

Unless your heart is in the right condition, overcoming passions will leave you cold.

Hearing Others, Not Fixing Them

March 9, 2021

I once worked with a guy for about six years. He was always in trouble with his wife. She would talk to him about a problem at work. He’d offer suggestions about how to fix the situation. She ignored the advice and would be not happy with him. “Brian,” I’d say, “she doesn’t want a solution. She’s smart. She’ll figure it out. She just wants you to listen.” He was an engineer. I don’t know if it was an engineer thing, or a man thing, or just a thing thing.

If we want to support each other’s inner lives, we must remember a simple truth: the human soul does not want to be fixed, it wants simply to be seen and heard. If we want to see and hear a person’s soul, there is another truth we must remember: the soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient, and yet shy. When we go crashing through the woods shouting for it to come out so we can help it, the soul will stay in hiding. But if we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while, the soul may show itself.

Parker J. Palmer

I think this sit quietly and wait and listen that Parker Palmer talks about is the real key. Some try to order others around. They’ll fix you if you just do as they order. Perhaps more like a dog or cat is “fixed”, than finding a solution. Or helping some soul in need.

Some competent engineers in Texas could fix the power grid problem, if empowered.

Competent engineering, the trained problem-solvers among us, fail to help the human soul. Somewhat perversely, that takes more inaction than action. Sitting quietly and waiting on God is perhaps the hardest spiritual formation task of all.

Gratitude Affects Your Health

November 26, 2020

Years ago I was obsessing over a problem and read everything I could find on brain research. One thing I discovered is that we don’t only think with our brain. Our entire body joins in the fun.

The brain mainly operates on electrical connections. However a number of chemicals originate from various parts of the body that add information to the brain and the rest of the body. It all works together.

Gratitude, what we think or focus on, affects chemical reactions in a variety of areas of the body. Research reveals the health benefits of that gratitude mindset I talked about yesterday.

Your brain gets the benefit of hormones that make you feel good.

Your gut settles down and the various digestive systems operate better.

Your heart benefits from reduced tension.

And, your spiritual life finds additional space to grow.

Mind, body, spirit–all the parts of your self benefit.

This is Thanksgiving in the US. We won’t be meeting in large family groups, or even smaller family groups this year. Most likely community Thanksgiving dinners have been placed on pause. But we can still change our outlook to change our health by concentrating on those things for which we’re grateful.

Can People Change To Improve

June 28, 2018

Do you believe people can change?

It’s a simple question with tons of meaning.

Surely if you are a Christian, you should answer, “Yes!”

But how many Christians would answer no? Or, answer no to certain groups or types of people?

Tim Ferriss is a famous author of such books (I recommend) as 4 Hour Workweek, Tools of the Titans, and Tribe of Mentors.

Tim also has a podcast. You can find it on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Stitcher, or my favorite Overcast. In the latest episode, he interviews three men in a maximum security prison. Two are in for gang-related murder and one for armed robbery. Their stories of life in prison, what got them there, and how they have changed for the better are moving and encouraging. I urge you to listen even though it is more than an hour.

I believe that people can, and do, change.

God loves each and every one of us humans no matter where we were born or what we look like or what our disability is. Usually we just need the right mentor at the right time.

What Had That Kid Done Now

August 31, 2017

It’s Sunday afternoon. The middle-aged couple is sitting home. Relaxing. Just had lunch. It’s a good day.

Some men come to the door. You’re “requested” to come to the courthouse to confirm that a man who has been testifying there is really your son.

Our son? He’s been homeless for years. Last we heard he was begging down by the courthouse.

The judges ask when you arrive, “Is this man your son? Is he the one who was crippled from birth? How is it that he’s now completely healed?”

You live in fear of the judges. They have the power to drive you out of the community. You’d lose your job, friends, family if they got mad at you.

“He’s our son. We have no idea what happened to him. He’s an adult, let him speak for himself. Let us out of here.”

I’m still contemplating the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John. Let’s think about the parents of the healed blind man.

Here is their son. He’s encountered the Son of Man or Son of God–Jesus. He’s been healed. Both his physical sight, and as we will learn in a moment, also his spiritual sight. He could introduce his parents to this man. His parents could have rejoiced and thrown a big party that their son is now whole.

Such is the power of fear. They didn’t want to offend the authorities. In a sense, who can blame them. Who among us wants to stand up to the authorities?

What is holding each of us back? What fears lurk within us that stop us from accepting the good news? From reaching out to others in service? From introducing others to the Son of God? From resting in peace and joy?

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Six Times

May 19, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about second chances. How instead of pointing fingers at others, pay attention to how we have also sinned and been given a chance by God through grace.

Then I went out for my exercise and tuned into a podcast by John Fischer on BlogTalkRadio which was a conversation with Susan Burton.

Susan wrote a book about her experiences, Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.

She tells her story about going from grief to drugs to jail to release (6 times) until someone pointed her to people who would help her break the cycle.

She did, and went on to found an organization that helps other incarcerated women recover and find a better life.

It makes you wonder what we’re doing with our lives right now. Who could we be helping?

Some people believe that we are only put here on Earth to serve ourselves. But God seems to think that we should be serving others. Here is a story of a woman who was helped and is now a helper.

Thinking Too Much Can Stir Up Anger To Rule You

March 7, 2017

He’s 90 now. An amazing guy. Ran marathons in his 80s. Went mountain backpacking into his 80s. During chats in the steam room at the Y he introduced me to numerous great books.

Life happened. He’s all alone. Don’t often see him.

He’s always angry–at them.

While I was running through the park early one morning I pulled up beside him and slowed down to talk.

“I have lots of time out here to think about things,” he said. “I think about them and what they’re trying to do to me.”

We were just talking about how Paul had warned us about how our thoughts set the direction of our lives here at Faith Venture. I thought about my friend who is now far from the guy I met 16 years ago.

I’m a writer in my “other” profession. Getting well known simply means getting on the radar for publicists and press relations people. I just received a release promoting a book by a guy who is a university professor and “TV Expert.” His book, “Do You Know Your Anger Type?”, is promoted as just the information we need in the age of Trump.

“Let’s face it, everyone gets angry,” says the blurb. “Anger is a normal and acceptable human emotion. Unfortunately, anger is usually expressed in non-productive and unacceptable ways.”

In this book, we will learn:

  • How thoughts determine your emotions.
  • How to control and express your anger.
  • The 12-types of anger.
  • The rules for managing anger.

The concepts and strategies in this book will not only help you with your anger-management, it will also help you understand why you are angry and how to create positive change in your life.

Dr. Peter Sacco is the author. The Rate Your Professor website shows him rated as “hot”. Comments all are that his class is easy, although divided among whether that is a good or bad thing.

I have not read the book, yet. But it is timely. Although, (to the 40% of my readers who are not in the US) not all Americans go around angry all day. Just the loudest ones. The rest of us just go about life as it happens.

I expressed (I think that’s a psychology word) a lot of anger at a stage while growing up. I still remember the spiritual moment when I saw myself from the outside. I thought, “This is stupid.” And from that moment when I was around 12, I’ve always tried to be in control of those negative emotions. It’s why people get the impression I’m calm. Most of the time, anyway.

I practice Paul’s philosophy. I watch what I think about. Where my thoughts dwell. What information I take in.

Maybe this book will help. I’ll let you know. Or–you can read it and let me know. Maybe I’ll even have an opportunity to interview the author. That would be cool.

Get Cleansed Not Just Healed

June 16, 2016

The Gospel of Mark is a great piece of writing. Declarative sentences, concrete nouns, action verbs. The action moves at an almost breathless pace.

The book was designed to be read to the gathering. The gathering was perhaps a synagogue or a courtyard of a large home. People would gather around and someone would read. Perhaps originally someone would be in the gathering who had been at one or more of the scenes. He or she would nod their head in remembrance.

Some recent studying I was doing discussed the idea that the healing miracles Mark reports also carried the concept of cleansing.

Remember the whole Old Testament thing about Clean and Unclean? A woman menstruating was unclean. Touching a dead body was unclean. Eating pork or shellfish was unclean. Lepers had to call out “Unclean” as they walked lest someone touch them and in turn become unclean.

Unclean meant separation from the community. When Jesus healed a leper or the woman with the blood flow that never ceased, he did far more than a physical act of healing. He cleansed them. They went from unclean to clean. They could now rejoin their community.

Doctors today can perform some of the miracles of Jesus daily. Physically. But healing the whole person and restoring to community? That’s hard.

I’ve read where plastic surgeons have done great work restoring a face badly disfigured by accident or disease. When the bandages come off and a mirror is held in front of the patient, they will often not see the change. What they see in the mirror is what they remember, not what they are.

Sometimes we fail to see the cleansing we receive through grace and instead continue to think of ourselves as unclean. Sometimes we forget as we are helping someone else that part of the help is to “cleanse”, that is, to bring them back into the community restored to wholeness.