Thursday, November 25, 2010


When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. - D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The ABC's to Pray for Your Children

A Absolute truth
B Believe
C Covenants
D Devotion
E Evangelism and disciple-making
F Fullness of Spirit
G Godly
H Habits
I Inner life
J Jesus-centered
K Kneel and know Christ’s love
L Love others
M Marriage
N No to sin
O Obedient
P Pursue excellence
Q Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger
R Rest and Sabbath
S Stewards
T Tender and tough
U Understand God’s voice and will
V Vocation
W Wisdom
X Treasures
Y Yoke
Z Zeal

Great word

My five-year old said today, God is a giant and we are His action figures.

Ten Summers Left

I wrote this in May . . .

Oh son, I can hardly believe that we only have ten more summers together before you are post-high school. Where have the past ten years gone? I remember so well feeling like the proudest daddy on the planet the week you were born. That special five days in the hospital – your mother, me, and our newborn baby. We were so happy that God had given you to us. The nurse put you in my arms that very first night and tears streamed down my face. The first few days I felt like you were my fragile gift – I was afraid I might hurt you in some way. I can still feel my excitement as we walked into the front door of our house holding you and taking you to your nursery.

I had so many hopes, so many dreams, so many determinations. Amazingly, now I find myself half-way through the journey with you. That was almost ten years ago, and ten years from now you will be nineteen. How sobering. This past year I have wrestled with the reality that I can’t control our destiny, I can’t make life perfect, that I can’t fulfill every dream I had as an idealistic 28-year old new dad.

There have been wonderful graces along the way – our Buddy Breakfasts over Hardee’s Cinammon Raisin Biscuits, bike rides and trips to the icee stand, hours spent in swimming pools and creeks, rides on the Mystery Mine and roller coasters at Dollywood, family devotions before going to bed, lots of talks about superheroes, late-night conversations lying next to each other in the dark. I’ve knelt by your bedside or stood over you many a night in prayer – sometimes with throbs of joy in my throat – other times with tears streaming down my face.

I’ve had to accept that I can’t make everything happen like a fairy tale in our lives. I can’t keep away the invasion of disappointments, like when your grandfather died two years ago. I don’t have the wealth and affluence I’d often like for our family. I can’t make life always easy and problem free. I’m learning to accept that life is what it is, and that even if I can’t make everything happen that I wanted to ten years ago – that God has been good.

Attending a writer’s conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center this week, I was reminded of the trips our family has made here the past four summers for camps. Stopping at the preschool complex, I gazed on the Noah’s ark play equipment I’ve watched you play on, viewed the classrooms I’ve picked my children up from many a nights, and looked through the fence where I’ve spotted your sister swinging in days past. Our first year at camp we took your brother to the infant room and you to the 5 year old. The last two summers you moved up into the elementary camp. And now this year your brother will be in the four year old room. When all three of you stayed in the preschool building, we had a surreal sense that life would go on like that forever. But the hands of time play dirty tricks on young parents. Suddenly we realize a bit more that even young families will grow up. Reminiscing at those spots today I thanked the Lord for the investment your mother and I have been able to make into you our children.

At this week’s writers’conference rookie writers are buzzing with excitement in the hopes of getting published. Making appointments with editors in the hopes of pitching a proposal. In the quietness of those moments at the preschool buildings, the Lord reminded me in his still quiet voice that His perspective is what matters. And the accomplishment that matters most on this earth is the investment of giving my children a godly father and a peaceful, happy home. Even if life is sometimes shaded with disappointment, if all of our dreams do not materialize, and if there are bumps in the road, I know that I have experienced one of the greatest rewards known to man – being a father. That endeavor will outlive me.

Son, I pray that the Lord will enable me the next nine years to not get so caught up in the rush and hurry of life that I lose that perspective. We have ten summers left. Let’s make the most of them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thesis and Writing

Years ago, my parents had a very painful exit from a church. Through that experience I witnessed the destructive force of what is called "spiritual abuse." I saw how devastating pastoral abuse is to a Christian’s psyche, sense of worth, relation to the local church, and at times one’s personal relationship with God. I saw how the kingdom of God can be hindered when a pastor abuses God’s people.

During that time I came across Ron Enroth’s book Churches that Abuse and was introduced for the first time to the term spiritual abuse or pastoral abuse. I then began reading and researching the subject and making some of my findings available to others whom I knew had experienced similar abuse. Over time I developed a burden to see victims of spiritual abuse helped, healed, and restored. I desire to see those persons who have been abused by the church to not become casualties in the kingdom of God but instead to become resilient, bouncing back closer to the Lord and more fruitful for His kingdom.

I spent years researching and writing my doctoral thesis, Moving Forward: A Descriptive Study of the Factors that Make People Resilient to Pastoral Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches, describing the characteristics of abusive religious systems and the processes that people go through in order to heal, become resilient, and move forward from spiritual abuse.

What is spiritual abuse? Enroth describes spiritual abuse in his own words:

Unlike physical abuse that often results in bruised bodies, spiritual and
pastoral abuse leaves scars on the psyche and soul. It is inflicted by
persons who are accorded respect and honor in our society by virtue
of their role as religious leaders and models of spiritual authority. They
base that authority on the Bible, the Word of God, and see themselves
as shepherds with a sacred trust. But when they violate that trust and when
they misuse ecclesiastical power to control and manipulate the flock, the
results can be catastrophic. The perversion of power that we see in abusive churches disrupts and divides families, fosters an unhealthy dependence of members on the leadership, and creates, ultimately, spiritual confusion in the lives of victims.
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan House, 1992, p. 29)

In the coming days as I review my thesis and as I write towards a book proposal, I will be posting a number things. My goal is to write a non-fiction book for the person who has been burned by the church - or by a pastor. I would want this person to pick it up and find hope and healing in the Lord.

If you see something I post that is helpful to you, let me know. That may spur me on to use some of that material in the book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting Out of the Boat

This picture designates a new day in our lives. This picture was taken the first Sunday after we got out of the boat! It was my oldest son's birthday, we went to church with some great friends at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville, and we all went to eat at Moe's. What fun! And the joy for us of knowing we had obeyed the Lord and were starting a fresh chapter of life!

After nine years of ministry in one church, after months of seeking to listen to the Lord (through the Word, prayer, counsel, and circumstances), my wife and I knew that God was challenging us to "get down out of the boat" (Matthew 14:29) and trust Him for the next season of our lives. For months, we knew that the next step of our lives would be a big one in the dark (Hebrews 11:8).

When we got to the place where we knew the voice of the Lord, we had two options - stay in the boat or get out of the boat. So, we stepped on out. During this time in our lives, we plan on focusing on several things . . .

1) A time of Sabbath and renewal.
2) A time for Rhett to spend writing. He is taking his doctoral thesis on the subject of healing from church-pastor abuse and putting it into a book proposal.
3) Exploring what our next season of life will be.

In this blog I will be sharing insights that we are learning as we get out of the boat and walk with the Lord. Also, I will be sharing part of my writings and findings on the subject of healing and moving forward from spiritual-pastoral abuse.