My Introduction to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality From 2009
Below are my notes from Peter Scazzero's teaching at session 4 of the CMA conference on October 20, 2009.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH AND SPIRITUAL MATURITY
Like the iceberg that is 1/10 above water and 9/10 below the surface, what we see in the average Christian's life is only 1/10 of their spirituality. There is much more below the surface (fears, insecurities, hurts, etc.) that often isn't revealed until a crisis strikes or pressures increase. A believer may know the bible inside and out, be an anointed preacher or healer or prophet, have the trust of everyone he knows, and yet one blow to his ego could send him into a tailspin of emotions that make his friends say, "Is that the same guy who lead 18 people to Christ last night at the bar? Why is he flipping out on everyone all of a sudden?"
As a result, emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature (though they certainly may appear spiritually mature).
We receive a new spirit at the moment of salvation, but sanctification is a process that never ends so long as we are alive on this Earth. Christ-centered discipleship must hit every area of our lives: social, intellectual, physical, and emotional. If someone is anointed for prophecy, but is touchy and critical, then they cannot fully lead and disciple others. This is why many pastors have broken families: they appeared spiritually deep (the 1/10 that was above the surface), but beneath the surface, their emotional health wasn't being discipled. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, had a marriage that was always on the rocks, a daughter who committed suicide, and a temper that constantly frustrated his organization. And 1 our of every 5 ministers admit to having an affair.
In order to be spiritually deep, we must surrender our emotional health to our Lord as well. The first step in doing that is to take more time out to rest and be with God.
PRESENT DAY REALITY IN OUR CHURCHES
Too many "beleivers" in our churches today are living off of other peoples' spirituality. We are always on the go, and therefore have no time to spend with God, so we are content to merely find out what God is showing our pastor or "more mature" friend.
Evangelicals, especially, with our missional agendas, have become a scattered, fragmented, overloaded, distracted, and uncentered bunch. Instead of having deep communion with God, we throw up prayers as we go through our daily chores, justifying it by telling ourselves, "I don't need more time out; I pray all day long." And as if our frenzied busyness wern't enough, we are always in a state of partial inattention with our texting, tweeting, to-do-list making, and facebooking.
The books we read are mainly authored by others in our evangelical camp who suffer from the same lack of rest. Instead of looking back and learning about how intimacy with Chirst was cultivated in the first century church, before all the splits, we criticize the orthodox and Catholic monks who spend hours each day in prayer......and yet we wonder why we aren't seeing the breakthroughs we want to see.
THE DAILY OFFICE
The word "office" comes from greek word "opus", which means "work of God." Our main priority in life is to seek intimacy with God (Psalm 27:4), so the idea is to set aside time each day to allow God to do His "work" in us.
This isn't just a "morning quiet time" concept. Because our time-outs with God are supposed to allow us to remain in His presence all day long, we need more than just one "quiet time" each day. In this hectic world, by 3pm we've forgotten that God exists, let alone are in His presence. Like David sang about, we should seek to do it 3-4 times each day.
And our daily offices are not just supposed to be filled with studying scripture and interceding for the needs around us; it must also entail just being still (Psalm 46:10).
Evangelicals are great at preaching Christ, leading missions, giving to the community....But we're awful at silence and solitude. We have too much activity and not enough time with God to sustain it. We get burned out, stressed out, irritable, and lose discernment. It is virtually impossible to grow in Christ without these daily offices. While some people may also require counseling or other programs in order for their emotional issues to heal, every person requires time out with God as a foundation for emotional healing.
A Sabbath day is a 24-hour time frame without anxiety or "have-to's". "Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'" (Mark 2:27).
Because there will be no work or ministry in heaven, our Sabbaths should allow us to taste a little bit of heaven.
Keeping the Sabbath is the 4th of the ten commandments, and although we are no longer under the law, God's laws do have a reason behind them. While "Do Not Murder" may be easier to keep than keeping the Sabbath, we can't keep the other 9 commandments on a deep heart level if we're not keeping the 4th one by making Jesus our Sabbath rest - and that is reason enough.
And further proof that we can't chalk the Sabbath day up as "one of those Old Testament rules we no longer have to keep" is the fact that Jesus never negated the importance of the Sabbath -- not once in any of the 7 times the Bible mentions his arguments with the religious leaders about the Sabbath.
Four Elements to a Biblical Sabbath are:
- To Stop
We must embrace our limits and remind ourselves - or prove to ourselves - that we don't have to keep going. We can stop. God is still on the throne. We can waste time and not always be trying to accomplish our goals. We must build "doing nothing" into our sabbaths
- To Rest
We must rest from work, from the computer, from emails, from physical exhaustions, from hurry, from multi-tasking, from anxiety and worry, from errands, from making big decisions; rest from all the "have to's" and "shoulds."
- To Delight
We must do stuff that we enjoy and have fun doing. If you like to cook, cook. If you hate cooking, don't cook.
- To Contemplate
And finally, we should build into our Sabbath days times to contemplate God, His word and His majesty. in other words, our Sabbaths shouldn't be filled up with just watching tv and going to parties (which may cover the first 3 elements of a Sabbath) if we're not taking daily offices to be with God.
PRAY THAT GOD SHOWS YOU HOW TO REORDER YOUR LIFE SO THAT YOU HAVE DAILY OFFICES WITH GOD AND WEEKLY SABBATHS TO REST. PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY UNTIL THEY BECOME A RYTHM FOR YOU. LEAN ON THE SIDE OF MAKING THEM RULES UNTIL YOU EXPERIENCE HOW MUCH OF A GIFT FROM GOD THEY ARE.
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