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It’s good to be here. What I envision is something like a spiritual wikipedia – a box of interesting ideas – all devoted to the changes that are facing a traditional church in decline – the right hand, the way we’ve always done it before – and the possibilities of learning a new way of disciple making which is more creative, organic and right out of the gospels.
In other words, Jesus was left-handed, and the methods of disciple making He taught require us to learn how to use our left hand as well as our right hand. It will be uncomfortable for a while, but we can learn to do God’s work with both hands.
On this blog you will find a box of interesting ideas from all over the place, united by the idea that God works among us in a twofold manner – the right hand and the left hand. There will be at least five categories for each, which could correspond to the fingers of both hands.
We’re familiar with the use of the right hand, and we spend all sorts of time and energy refining the way we work with the right hand of the traditional church, which does its work through events and programs organized by leaders working in teams.
Less familiar is the left hand approach of Jesus which focused on prayer, obedience and building ongoing spiritual relationships. There are modern day expressions such as the organic church, CPM and T4T – most denominational pastors have never heard of the latter two, although they are responsible for hundreds of thousands of new Christians in the third world. The best description of the left hand for me is this: “There are only two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples, and disciples who need to become disciple makers.”
WARNING OF THE DAY … friends, we are living in troubled and troublesome times. Certain people are at work to polarize and separate us with deception in the form of manipulating our emotions with carefully constructed statements of half-truths.
Here’s how you recognize the whole truth:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18
There is a truth from the study of addictions that is helpful to recognize and understand what is happening to us. It’s called the Karpman Drama Triangle. In a dysfunctional family, the addict/alcoholic manipulates the truth in order to get the entire family revolving around him/her as the center of the universe, setting aside everyone else in order to meet the needs of the addict/alcoholic. It feeds upon itself like an emotional hurricane, sweeping everyone up into a devastating emotional storm. The addict/alcoholic sits in the center of the eye, enjoying the outpouring of sympathy and support and help, stirring the pot to keep everything and everyone going around in circles.
There are several ways to understand that you’ve been caught up into such a storm. First, the fuel for the storm is a call for justice in regard to some type of injustice. There is no drama triangle without a victim. What makes it dysfunctional is that the truth is slanted to stir people up, often to the point to where it is no longer true.
A half-truth is only half the story. You need to hear the whole story, and you need to hear from all the sides that are involved in a conflict. You will not further the cause of justice with only one side of the story. When you react to half-truths, you perpetuate injustice.
The second sign that you’ve been manipulated is the storm of your own emotions. If you are full of rage, you are not, by definition, thinking clearly. You cannot comprehend wisdom until you can comprehend the whole truth, which is always made up of the whole story from all sides.
It’s become a principle for me that the angrier I am, the more shocked I am, the more likely it is that someone is manipulating me for selfish purposes. I’ve been conned, and I fell for it.
As all kinds of people are trying to polarize everyone to take sides against the other side, and in so doing dividing our nation, our church and our community into warring factions, I’m finding that I’m posting a lot of comments on Facebook in all kinds of discussions about the Karpmann Drama Triangle and about how people need to calm down, be patient, think before reacting, listen to all sides, praying all the while, and then make a wise decision. I’ve spent many hours pouring this oil on stormy waters. So I’m making this statement here on my page, rather than attempting to say it over and over again in many other places. I think I am going to give that up for Lent, starting now, and focus on more meaningful and productive matters. So I’m saying this here and how as a way to have closure and move on.
To sum up, the more you are certain that you are right, the more you are probably misinformed as to the whole truth. Life is more complex than you know.
The angrier you are, the more likely it is that you’ve been lied to and manipulated for someone’s selfish benefit. Wise up.
GRIEVING OF THE DAY … no matter how the great issues of the day resolve, there will be those who grieve about the end result. My heart goes out to those who grieve, and I want to weep with those who weep. But … life will go on. After a while, that is; not just yet.
Some thoughts on “weeping with those who weep” are below.
Marks of the True Christian Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
He who fears to weep should learn to be kind to those who weep. (Abu Bakr)
Pope Francis: “Only when we are able to weep about the things that you lived can we understand something and answer something.” He acknowledged that “the great question for all is: Why do children suffer? Why do children suffer?” But he finds an answer not in the head, but in the heart. “Only when the heart is able to ask the question and weep can we understand something.” https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/pope-francis-if-you-dont-learn-how-weep-youre-not-good-christian?fbclid=IwAR3LD7K1II6F-BjYrBm3oeubZu91yvBMhwu4KM2Xk6kmmg2m_9cZJUbKrbo
Abraham Lincoln: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the (denomi)nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all …
And … Andy Adams: “After several amendments and attempts at other amendments, the One Church Plan was defeated by roughly 386 in favor and 436 against – a 50 vote differential. You could hear a pin drop. Being in the front row, I could see the disappointed reaction of many bishops who had touted the plan as their preferred way forward for the last year. Nobody moved – no celebrations, no outcry. Just silence. The truth is, nobody celebrated because nobody won. There has been a collective sense throughout this General Conference that regardless of the outcome, there are no clear winners. Everybody loses. Such was my perception after this vote.
But work continued. ” https://pastorandyadams.com/2019/02/25/gc2019-update-3-1-an-emotional-day/?fbclid=IwAR28rPeF8bMv6vQBU46kKzirKTym2tiZ2H77kpx3NxA1NmCk6SHNYG1i5q8
David Oliver Kueker I shared this elsewhere … I hope everyone would be thoughtful and prayerful before making large decisions. To not act out of anger or anxiety, but wisely. Jesus took 40 days to fast and pray at the beginning of his ministry. And the devil stopped by, even then, to tempt him. Grief is emotional and heart-wrenching. If you feel as bad as if someone has died, you would be wise to consider the advice offered to widows and widowers: no major decisions for a year. Let the dust settle. And then if you wish to shake the dust off your feet, may God bless you on whatever path you choose.
David Oliver Kueker Just a note, and likely to be missed by many, buried here at the bottom of these comments – I have been weeping with those who weep for three weeks now. I have empathy for anyone who weeps, but there is a limit to which I can put my own life and work on hold in order to make your pain the center of my life. It’s not harsh, just the simple truth. So – I’m reclaiming my time so that I can fulfill my calling, do my work and live my life. I hope you will be able to do the same. One reason why I believe it is time is that I find that I’m repeating words I’ve posted before to the same folks, over and over again. My codependency drags me into the Karpman Drama triangles of others (who aren’t actually listening) in the hope of helping them find peace, which is a form of sobriety. I need to release people who aren’t listening to live their own lives as a part of my recovery to the addiction of codependency. If you found my words helpful, you’re welcome to read them again. They are still there. I hope they were helpful to some. And I hope that those who didn’t listen to me will find the help that they need somewhere or from someone. I’m probably not that someone.
David Oliver Kueker A friend has reached out to me, concerned that I am struggling. Actually, just as a widow or widower reaches a point of allowing life to go on, I’m letting go of my three weeks of trying to help others with their emotions following GC2019 and getting on with my life. It’s a good thing.
Advanced Lay Servant Course – Polity – March 30, 2019
Rev David Kueker, Instructor (firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-780-0151)
Sponsor: Kaskaskia River District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries
RC Merton, email@example.com
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019, 8 am to 6 pm
Location: Kinmundy UMC, 309 E Third St, Kinmundy, IL 62854
Polity, Practice, and the Mission of The United Methodist Church by Thomas E. Frank
The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (any year but preferably 2016)
Your minister or church office will probably have a copy of the Book of Discipline that you can borrow. Thanks to Newport-Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, you can download a PDF copy of the 2016 Book of Discipline for free. This will allow you to copy and paste quotes into your printed work for this class. Download from here: http://nmoumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2016-Book-of-Discipline.pdf
Your preparation for this class has two parts – other homework may be assigned.
Read through the book, Polity, Practice, and the Mission of The United Methodist Church by Thomas E. Frank, and identify items which are meaningful and provoke you to want to discuss them before, during or after our class. (Reading this textbook prior to class is required for credit for advanced lay servant classes.)
2. Lay Servants preach and teach on United Methodist Concepts. Therefore, read through the following six sections of the Book of Discipline. Be ready to discuss them in class. In each of the six sections listed below, choose a passage about which you might preach a sermon or lead a Bible study, or use to illustrate a biblical principle in a sermon or Bible study. (You do not need to read the entire Book of Discipline prior to class, but please read these sections.)
Note: The basic unit in The Book of Discipline is the paragraph (¶) rather than page, chapter, or section. The paragraphs are numbered consecutively within each chapter or section, but many numbers are skipped between parts, chapters, and sections in order to allow for future enactments and to fit with the following plan:
1– 99 The Constitution
101– 199 Doctrine, Doctrinal Statements, General Rules, starting p. 47.
Part Four: The Ministry of All Christians, starting p. 93.
Part Five: Social Principles, starting p. 105.
201– 299 The Local Church
301– 399 The Ministry of the Ordained
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: For the six passages you’ve chosen, consider the following questions that might be a part of discussion:
What grabs your attention?
What are the human needs or problems addressed in the passage? Are they a problem where you are? How could you illustrate these problems?
Does this passage from the Book of Discipline remind you of a scripture? Which one? What does it say?
What are the recommendations or solutions addressed in the passage from the Book of Discipline? Would they work where you are? How could you illustrate these solutions so that people could visualize the consequences of applying them?
If you intended to apply these solutions in your location, what specifically would you be asking people to do next Monday? What behavior would you like to see that would show up on a camera?
Choose one of the passages and email your answers to the questions in writing to me prior to class – firstname.lastname@example.org. (We may have a discussion based on your passage if there is time. You may get to lead it! It will be a very full day!)