Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wisdom when Christians differ...

I attended a seminar at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary this week, and presenter Dr Garry Frieseen made the following points on handling differences when our doctrinal viewpoints (our theology) differs:

-Learn to distinguish between matters of command and matters of freedom (Romans 14:14 & 20).

-On debatable issues, cultivate your own convictions (Romans 14:5).

-Allow your friends the freedom to determine their own convictions, even when they differ from yours (Romans 1-2).

-Let your liberty be limited, when necessary, by love (Romans 14:13-15:2).

-Follow Christ as the model and motivator of servanthood (Romans 15:3-13).

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Sunday afternoon I participated in the commissioning of a Navy Chaplain aboard the USS Constitution in Boston harbor. As the LTJG's mentor it has been a satisfying culmination of helping in the preparation of a seminarian for military service. The chaplaincy is a unique institutional ministry, unlike traditional parish work in many ways. There are unique challenges and opportunities with the military lifestyle. As a retired chaplain, after 25 years I departed the Army with fond memories and no regrets. I wish the same for this young Navy Chaplain.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Handling the aftermath of suicide

A teen committed suicide in my town this past week. Now his friends and family have to deal with a myriad of emotions. Here's some hope for survivors...

• You may be experiencing a complicated grief by dealing with both love and anger towards the person and the stigma of suicide. You may also be falling into the unhealthy guilt game (“If only I did….”). We’re accountable for our choices only.

• Pain is universal and unique; we all grieve in our own time and fashion. Don’t listen to anyone who disapprovingly tells you to “be strong” or “get over it.” Eventually you’ll begin to feel the pain less frequently.

• Your church is a safe place to struggle openly, a place where you’ll receive non-judgmental, non-critical support among friends.

• You may be trying to attach blame in an effort to resolve the unknown “whys”, especially when there are few clues as to why your loved one chose a desperate, permanent, unnecessary solution.

• You could be struggling with “role hiatus;” in other words, who will fill the shoes and assume your loved one’s functions. You may feel unable to deal with personal effects. You don’t have to do anything right away.

• You need to be able to express your sorrow uncensored; tears are healthy, appropriate, and necessary for healing and talking is therapeutic…sometimes people grieve with what seems like inappropriate laughter, withdrawal, or uncharacteristic anger.

• Survivors often feel that they should not show their grief due to the social stigma of suicide; you may need encouragement to grieve.

• You may take on heightened activity as a substitute for grief. Some people channel their pain into positive activities, like supporting suicide prevention organizations.

• You likely will have some unresolved issues & unfinished business.

• Consider journaling, or writing a letter to the deceased, or join a grief support group.

• The bottom-line is: “No good thing has happened here…but we can rely on God’s grace.” Your goal is not to forget the pain of the past but to move on to the business of living.

• We’re not limited to human resources. Jesus gave His followers this promise: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid....Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We need one another; we can't make progress spiritually by ourselves. Here's a great quote from Madeline L'Engle:

"If I am attempting to understand what it means to be a Christian, this cannot be done in lofty find God only in private ways is to break off from the Body, to leave the mainland, and ultimately to worship myself more than my Creator."