Month: May 2012

Theology Now

or, “When Faith Kicks in for Real”
by Jonathan Hart, LPC

I went on a 20 mile hike with my 9 year old son last weekend.  We took a couple of days, camped overnight, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Except the last four miles.

It started with two rumbles of thunder.  The rain turned on like a faucet. This was not wholly unexpected.  The forecast had predicted “scattered storms”.  We donned our ponchos and put away our lunches.  We, wisely or foolishly, chose to hike through it, since we were pretty close to the end.  I believed the storm would be over quickly.

I was wrong.  The rain persisted.  Thunder and lightning rolled, becoming if anything more frequent.  We hiked off the hilltop and were working our way down into the valley.  My son was nervous about the rain and the lightning, especially the close ones (I was too, but I tried to keep a brave face on for his sake).  Half an hour into the storm when the hail started falling, he became terrified.

We found a  fairly large bent tree trunk to hide behind.  It was enough to deflect most of the hail, but not all.  Both of us took a few hits. That had to have been the longest ten minutes of the whole trip, when dime-to-quarter sized chunks of ice were falling around and on us, lightning blasting overhead followed by deafening thunder and torrential rain. I seriously considered getting out our cooking gear and wearing the pots on our heads.

I knew that hail typically lasts only about 10 to 15 minutes, if that.  I did not know if we could expect larger hail than that which was currently pelting us. I didn’t know if there was a tornado in the vicinity.  My son was crying and starting to seriously freak out.  I was well on my to “Really Frightened” myself.  One of my most immediate thoughts was, “REALLY, God?  This couldn’t wait another hour or two?”  And then I thought, “What have I done to my son?”

I had been praying since the rain began.  Finally, faith kicked in.  I had a “Theology Now” moment.  I took my son’s face in my hands, looked into his eyes, and said (speaking as much to myself as to him), “As much as I love you, and would do everything I could to protect you and keep bad things from happening to you, God loves you more than I ever could.  He doesn’t always keep us from getting hurt, but he Always, Always loves and protects his children.  He is looking out for us right now, even though it might not seem like it.”

The hail stopped a few minutes later, as I knew it probably would.  The storm continued for another two and a half hours.  We survived, though we were thoroughly soaked and very, very tired of rain and lightning.

Theology Now is when the rubber meets the road in faith-land.  It is when what you say you believe meets up with what you really believe deep down.  It is the moment when the truth of doctrine pushes on and stretches our limitations and grows our capacity for real, honest-to-goodness trust.

The funny thing is that these moments don’t usually happen in the sunshine.  They usually happen right in the middle of an obnoxious storm.  We must be challenged, stretched, and tested painfully in order to grow our faith.  In this way, God often allows storms and painful times into our lives because he loves us. We must come to the end of our own strength in order to find and believe in His strength on our behalf.

–JH

Cancer Companions: bringing hope to the journey

By: Lianne Johnson, LPC

Recently I had the opportunity to sit with Karen Tripp, who is the President of Cancer Companions.  I thought what she had to say was so good that I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.  I hope you enjoy learning about Cancer Companions as much as I did!

Can you tell us a little about Cancer Companions?

Sure, Cancer Companions is a ministry that helps people build cancer ministry in their churches.  We train, equip and support caring people to become peer counselors who then meet with cancer families in cancer support groups or in one-to- one sessions.  The mission is all about drawing cancer families closer to Christ through their journey.

How did the ministry begin?

Well, I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist so I had spent several years running Christian Cancer Support groups around the St Louis area.   Eventually it became obvious that although there was value in me popping into a church for 7 weeks and running a support group, what the church and the community needed was an ongoing ministry that was led by volunteers but rooted in the church.   After felt the Lord lead me to develop this ministry, one of the women in one of my cancer groups approached me about starting a group in her church.   And from that came our first pilot church.   

So how is it going?

Great!  It’s like every time I turn around there is someone else with a heart for helping cancer families.  There are 5 churches in the St Louis area that have Cancer Companions running cancer support groups and seeing cancer families in one-to-one sessions.  The next Cancer Companions training is in September and there are already several more churches signed on.  It’s exciting to see the way the Lord is touching lives through these people.

How can we learn more?

Already and Not Yet

The Already and the Not Yet

By:  Lianne Johnson, LPC

I was out walking one day when I saw this tree.  I was immediately struck by how the tree appeared to be both alive and flourishing, as well as dead.  Half alive and half dead.  Can you see it?  The left side of the tree is green, while the right side is dark and displaying what I am calling deadness.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “this is how I feel.  Regularly.”

As you can see, the caption I wrote under the picture is – The Already and the Not Yet.  For those of you who are Christians reading this, you may be familiar with this phrase.  The Already:  We are made alive by Christ’s death (His act to save us from ourselves), which gives us our aliveness, our life.  The Not Yet:  We live in a broken world where we see and experience suffering. We live in the “in between time” from Christ’s death on the cross and until his return when everything will be made right.

This tree is displaying our internal reality as well.  We are alive in Christ, yet daily we live and struggle with the pain and toil of our day.

It was good for me to see this tree.  It was good for my heart and mind to be reminded that Christ has made me ALIVE.  It was good for me to remember that while the “dead” part (the pain and heartache of today) will remain a part of my daily reality until Christ returns, I am also ALIVE.  It was good for me to remember that Christ has conquered death.