Author Archives: Chelsea

  1. Grace for the impossible

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    By Leanne Payne
    from her newsletter archives, March, 1987
     
    There are a few things in life more comforting than Christian friends who understand what ministry on a fallen planet is all about. Through the years, Carol Kraft (Professor of German, Wheaton College) has sent cards or cartoons that ever after find a place on the wall of my workspace for ready referral when needed. She is a treasured confidant, one in whom I can confide my deepest concerns, for she is not only a true friend, but one who has learned how to listen. She really hears whatever it is I’m struggling to put into words, then has the knack of finding a picture message that either exactly expresses it, or helps me to come to terms with the difficulty. One such card is reproduced below (marked as an original by Desclozeaux to give the proper credit), and it certainly illustrates the miraculous as we Christians so often experience it:
     

    Isn’t that wonderful! It would be difficult to find a truer picture of the sheer grace God gives us to not only overcome, but survive the impossible; or one of how this grace is experienced: as we inch, a straight and steady line through a fallen, hostile world to our true home.

    I’m sure there are many of you, who, like myself, are facing the impossible in terms of what God has called you to do and to be. Perhaps calamity, in the form of circumstances so irrational and dark that they could only have been engineered by the powers of darkness, is even now barreling towards you. The blow is calculated to maim or to crush, to stop you right in your tracks. But God’s message to His own is ever the same:  “My power, and the strength that I give you, is sufficient. Call upon it, ask for it, see if I will not cause all grace to abound toward you!” Saint Paul knew and taught with all his might this great truth:  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Cor 9:8)

    The word that Saint Paul uses to describe the grace of God is polupoikilos which means many-colored. William Barkley, commenting on Eph 3:8-13 says that, “The idea in this word is that the grace of God will match with any situation which life may bring us. There is nothing of light or dark, of sunshine or of shadow, for which it is not triumphantly adequate.” No matter what we are struggling with, as ministers, or as suffering persons who desperately need forgiveness and healing, God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus, with implicit faith in the Father, said it all, when He looked directly at his troubled disciples, and said:  “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)

    Reprinted with permission, copyright ©1999-2023 by Leanne Payne Literary Trust

  2. 2023 Cedar Springs School – Thursday

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    We are pleased to share these live audio recordings from Thursday at the 2023 Cedar Springs school. They are offered for your edification and healing, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint them afresh for you today. The recordings include musical worship at the beginning of each session.

    #1: Receiving the Gift of Life: Being & Well-being

    By taking Jesus as our model of what we are meant to be, we see that we are made to be accepted and sustained in God’s love from the womb to eternity. This session looks at developmental threats to being and well-being and how personal wholeness is restored through Christ’s death-defeating, life-giving cross.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    #2: Healing of Memories: Forgiving the Unforgivable

    Anjonette shares about the profound healing she experienced in relation to her early relationship with her father. “Sometimes the memories that need healing go far back in time, back before conscious memory. But the heart knows; it does not forget.” (Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul)

    Presenter: Anjonette Baum

    #3: The Virtue of Hope

    This supernatural virtue is a God-given grace that must be pursued and cultivated. Hope protects against despair and energizes us as pilgrims-on-the-way to fulfillment in God’s heavenly presence. This recording includes the “treasure chest” prayer to illuminate the desires of the heart.

    Presenter: Jean Holt

    For a comprehensive list of scripture references and quoted works from these talks, please reference the MPC 2023 Cedar Springs School Bibliography.

    These audio recordings are made available at no cost thanks to the generosity of MPC donors.  To make a donation online please click here.

  3. 2023 Cedar Springs School – Wednesday

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    We are pleased to share these live audio recordings from Wednesday at the 2023 Cedar Springs school. They are offered for your edification and healing, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint them afresh for you today. The recordings include musical worship at the beginning of each session.

    #1: God Within Us: Becoming the True Self

    Every person who has accepted Christ has a home within, a place of quiet rest and strength. This is the true self, and as we grow into the truth of who we are in Christ, we simultaneously die to the illusions that the old man embraced.

    Due to technical difficulties, the audio recording of this session has some sound distortion, but thankfully much of the message remains understandable. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    #2: The Disease of Introspection vs. Listening to God

    Compulsively turning attention inward on the self misuses our rational abilities and makes the heart sick. This session facilitates repentance from diseased self-analysis and engages with Love to restore the capacity to be.

    Presenter: Uwe Buß

    #3: Forgiving Others

    Forgiving those who’ve sinned against us is essential to living in union with Christ. In this session we look at how forgiveness fits in the process of reconciliation, and work through some of the most challenging types of unforgiveness that can burden our hearts and relationships. 

    Presenter: Cody Crichton

    #4: Freedom in Christ: Renouncing Sexual Idolatry

    A right understanding of the sexual union of husband and wife shows the nature of God’s love and His plan to make us one with Him. This session calls all of us – married, single, or celibate – out of idolatrous and enslaving distortions of sex and into the dignity of personal integration.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    For a comprehensive list of scripture references and quoted works from these talks, please reference the MPC 2023 Cedar Springs School Bibliography.

    These audio recordings are made available at no cost thanks to the generosity of MPC donors.  To make a donation online please click here.

  4. 2023 Cedar Springs School – Tuesday

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    We are pleased to share these live audio recordings from Tuesday at the 2023 Cedar Springs school. They are offered for your edification and healing, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint them afresh for you today. The recordings include musical worship at the beginning of each session.

    #1: Knowing God Rightly

    God has provided good and true symbols in scripture and creation so we can know Him as He really is. In this session we invite Him to correct distortions and heal fears in our picture of what He is like, and consider how His image is reflected in a profoundly special way in the marriage of man and woman. This recording includes the “garden of the heart” prayer for healing of fears.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    #2: The Journey of Self-Acceptance in Christ

    Following Jesus into maturity means accepting ourselves as God accepts us, leaving self-hatred behind, and trusting in Christ’s righteousness as our own. Tommy Briggs shares his personal journey of coming to know God as Father and growing in this essential Christian virtue.

    Presenter: Tommy Briggs

    #3: The Image and Healing of Man

    Whole men are creation’s best symbol of the masculine virtues. In this session we consider how men develop as unique saints, those who have the potential to be natural and spiritual fathers, and address the hatred of men and masculinity that can injure their becoming. 

    Presenter: Tom Wright

    #4: The Image and Healing of Woman

    Whole women image the true feminine while also participating in and completing the masculine. This session honors God’s image in woman and ministers to the hatred of the feminine that is part of the spiritual attack against God’s kingdom.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    For a comprehensive list of scripture references and quoted works from these talks, please reference the MPC 2023 Cedar Springs School Bibliography.

    These audio recordings are made available at no cost thanks to the generosity of MPC donors.  To make a donation online please click here.

  5. 2023 Cedar Springs School – Monday

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    We are pleased to share these live audio recordings from Monday at the 2023 Cedar Springs school. They are offered for your edification and healing, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint them afresh for you today. The recordings include musical worship at the beginning of each session.

    #1: The Holy One is With Us

    To know God at all is to know Him as holy, and He imparts this knowledge through His incarnational presence with and within us. This session lays the foundation for the rest of the school and begins exploring our call to abide in Christ.

    Due to technical difficulties, the audio recording of this session has some sound distortion, but thankfully much of the message remains understandable. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    #2: Sacramental Participation, Eucharistic Living

    Our lives and all creation are God’s gift, given so that we might participate in His life. We find ourselves in finding Him, and can offer every moment and situation back to Him with gratitude.

    Due to technical difficulties, the audio recording of this session has some sound distortion, but thankfully much of the message remains understandable. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Presenter: Dr. Sarah Colyn

    #3: Receiving God’s Forgiveness

    God gives forgiveness freely, but our hearts can be blocked from receiving His gift. This session addresses the common blocks to living as forgiven people so we can walk in the Spirit.

    Presenters: Nicole Adams and Anjonette Baum

    #4: Obedience and the Vertical Position

    It is our privilege to listen to God’s voice.  Although we are prone to tune in to other voices, He is merciful and ready to revive the damaged will and restore us to an upright posture of responsive dependence on Him. 

    Presenter: Gay Barretta

    For a comprehensive list of scripture references and quoted works from these talks, please reference the MPC 2023 Cedar Springs School Bibliography.

    These audio recordings are made available at no cost thanks to the generosity of MPC donors.  To make a donation online please click here.

  6. 2023 Cedar Springs School Audio Recordings

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    We are pleased to share the live audio recordings from the 2023 Cedar Springs school. These plenary sessions can be listened to sequentially or individually. The audio can be found by selecting the day of the week below.

                As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
                you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood,
                to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. — I Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)

    Monday

    1. The Holy One is With Us

    2. Sacramental Participation, Eucharistic Living

    3. Receiving God’s Forgiveness

    4. Obedience and the Vertical Position

    Tuesday

    1. Knowing God Rightly

    2. The Journey of Self-Acceptance in Christ

    3. The Image and Healing of Man

    4. The Image and Healing of Woman

    Wednesday

    1. God Within Us: Becoming the True Self

    2. The Disease of Introspection vs. Listening to God

    3. Forgiving Others

    4. Freedom in Christ: Renouncing Sexual Idolatry

    Thursday

    1. Receiving the Gift of Life: Being & Well-being

    2. Healing of Memories: Forgiving the Unforgivable

    3. The Virtue of Hope

    These audio recordings are made available at no cost thanks to the generosity of MPC donors. To make a donation online please click here.

    God bless you!

  7. For Ordering a Life Wisely

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    St. Thomas Aquinas was a man who longed for the harmonious and peaceful inner life that can be found only by clinging to God [1]. In pursuit of this life, he knelt every day before the image of Christ to ask for and receive the virtuous character that he knew God is ready and able to give. Countless saints have joined him in this prayer over the last 750 years – perhaps you’d like to join in too.

    St. Thomas recited this daily before the image of Christ
    O merciful God, grant that I may
                     desire ardently,
                     search prudently,
                     recognize truly,
                     and bring to perfect completion
              whatever is pleasing to You
                     for the praise and glory of Your name.
    Put my life in order, O my God.
    Grant that I may know
              what You require me to do.
    Bestow upon me 
              the power to accomplish Your will,
                    as is necessary and fitting
                            for the salvation of my soul.
    Grant that I may know
              what You require me to do.
    Bestow upon me 
              the power to accomplish Your will,
                    as is necessary and fitting
                            for the salvation of my soul.
    Grant to me, O Lord my God, 
              that I may not falter in times
                            of prosperity or adversity,
              so that I may not be exalted in the former,
                             nor dejected in the latter.
    May I not rejoice in anything
                     unless it leads me to You;
           may I not be saddened by anything
                      unless it turns me from You.
    May I desire to please no one,
              nor fear to displease anyone,
                       but You.
    May all transitory things, O Lord,
              be worthless to me
          and may all things eternal
              be ever cherished by me.
    May any joy without You 
              be burdensome for me
      and may I not desire anything else
              besides You.
    May all work, O Lord, 
              delight me when done for Your sake
      and may all repose not centered in You
              be ever wearisome for me.
    Grant unto me, my God, 
               that I may direct my heart to You
               and that in my failures
                     I may ever feel remorse for my sins 
                        and never lose the resolve to change.
    O Lord my God, make me
              submissive without protest,
              poor without discouragement,
              chaste without regret,
              patient without complaint,
              humble without posturing,
              cheerful without frivolity,
              mature without gloom,
              and quick-witted without flippancy.
    O Lord my God, let me
              fear You without losing hope,
              be truthful without guile,
              do good works without presumption,
              rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness,
                  and—without hypocrisy—
              strengthen him by word and example.
    Give to me, O Lord God,
              a watchful heart, 
                  which no capricious thought
                     can lure away from You.
    Give to me
              a noble heart,
                  which no unworthy desire can debase.
    Give to me 
              a resolute heart,
                  which no evil intention can divert.
    Give to me
              a stalwart heart,
                  which no tribulation can overcome.
    Give to me 
              a temperate heart,
                  which no violent passion can enslave.
    Give to me, O Lord my God, 
              understanding of You,
              diligence in seeking You,
              wisdom in finding You,
              discourse ever pleasing to You,
              perseverance in waiting for You,
              and confidence in finally embracing You.
    Grant
              that with Your hardships
                  I may be burdened in reparation here,
              that Your benefits 
                  I may use in gratitude upon the way,
              that in Your joys 
                  I may delight by glorifying You 
                      in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    You Who live and reign,
              God, world without end. 
                          Amen[2].

    1. Martin Grabmann, translated by Nicholas Ashenbrener, The Interior Life of St. Thomas Aquinas: Presented from His Works and the Acts of His Canonization Process (Bruce, Milwaukee, 1951), 63.

    2. Aquinas, Thomas, The Aquinas prayer book: The prayers and hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, edited by Robert Anderson and Johann Moser (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2000). 

  8. Staff Updates

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    …We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

    Ephesians 4:15-16

    Jesus is ever-faithful to MPC, bringing the right parts for His body and enabling us to work together properly — what a needed grace. Join us in blessing Hilary and welcoming Christina and Chelsea!

    Hilary Tompkins has answered the call to dedicate her working energies to her local church, and finished her last day as MPC’s administrator on May 5th. Hilary blessed us with five years of faithful, creative service, and we thank God for how her organizational gifts and nurturing spirit shaped this ministry for the better. She’ll continue as an intercessor for MPC, and has promised to visit us in Cedar Springs this July. Thank you Hilary! May God bless the work of your hands as you apply your talents in new ways. We honor your passion to see His body built up in love, and ask the Spirit to send you into this new season with a heart full of His peace and joy.

    Welcome to our new office manager, Christina Pestana! Christina brings a wealth of ministry experience using her well-honed administrative gifts. She’ll be working closely with Sill Davis, MPC’s executive director, in planning events and keeping our base of operations running smoothly. We are grateful for Christina’s dedication to prayer and her commitment to following Jesus in all she does. It’s no small thing to find an administrator with the required skills and talents who is also passionate about the healing, transforming work of Jesus. Christina, we thank God for leading you to join the MPC staff. We pray that He’ll richly bless your heart in the deepest places even as your work enables others to receive that same blessing.

    Welcome to our new communications coordinator, Chelsea Peck. Chelsea is passionate about maturity in Christ, for herself and for all. Her dedication to MPC’s mission grew out of her personal experience at a five-day school. She’ll be responding to your letters and emails, and applying her creative gifts to our newsletter and website. We’re grateful for the love of truth and beauty that Chelsea brings to her MPC work, and for the pastoral sensitivity that shapes every message she writes. Chelsea, we praise God for how His love shines through your life. We pray that He’ll cause every bit of your MPC work to bless you and grow you up into Christ.

  9. Continuing Education Video: On Leisure

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    To foster the spiritual and psychological maturity of pastoral caregivers through union with Christ.

    June 30, 2023, 9:00-10:30 am PDT

    Topic:  On leisure, the basis of pastoral care

    This webinar will continue asking what it takes for pastoral caregivers to be true “talking beasts” – those who hear the call to awake, love, think, and speak! As the northern hemisphere heads into vacation season, we’ll look at the essential role that leisure plays in a vibrant, in-Christ life. Pastors and counselors are often urged to practice good self-care in order to prevent burnout, but true leisure has an even higher purpose and value. We’ll apply Josef Pieper’s profound insights from On Leisure, the Basis of Culture to our lives. Paraphrasing Pieper, “The point and the justification of leisure are not that the pastoral caregiver should serve faultlessly and without a breakdown, but that the pastoral caregiver should continue to be a human being.” The serenity and celebration of real leisure flow from our participation in God’s own rest and joy. Let’s consider what we can do to cultivate the wonderfully creative state of true leisure.

    Workshop fee $25 (scholarships available)
    PURCHASE VIDEO

    Workshop Format Teaching with prayer and group discussion via live videoconference. The workshop will be recorded in its entirety for those who are not able to attend live.

    Who Should Attend? For those who provide pastoral care in any setting – pastors and spiritual directors, professional psychotherapists, lay counselors, and healthcare providers.

    Presenter Dr. Sarah Colyn is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of WA with a PhD in Clinical Psychology and an MA in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. With over 25 years experience practicing psychotherapy and pastoral care, Sarah has taught and trained pastors, professional counselors and lay caregivers in academic, clinical, and church settings. She is ever-intrigued by the pastoral application of true Christian theological anthropology.

    Learning Objectives

    To recognize the essential role of leisure in the life of pastoral caregivers.

    To distinguish true leisure from amusement, vacation, or self-care.

    To identify attitudes and practices that increase our capacity for leisure.

  10. Healing from the Disease of Introspection: A Testimony

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    Like all MPC prayer ministers, Jim Server can personally witness to the God who heals. He’s written his story for you here, and you can also listen to this recording of Him sharing at the Green Lake school in 2022 (recording begins with worship music).

    Sarah asked if I would share about one way I fell into the disease of introspection and how I was healed of it.  In a sense, I almost feel as if I were born into it and didn’t start to recover until I became a Christian in my late twenties.

    Looking back, I can see how my entire family was made up of “introspectors,” beginning with my parents.  In their own way, they were wounded, unaffirmed people who brooded over the hurts and disadvantages that had limited their lives.

    My father, in particular, held on to an anger and self-hatred that he medicated with alcohol and often projected onto the family.  He preferred spending time at the local tavern to being with his wife and children.  A boy who questions, as I did, if he’s really loved or wanted isn’t likely to develop a very favorable self-image.

    My mother, on the other hand, did what she could to make a home for us.  But she was an emotionally frail person, a victim of severe misogyny with low self-esteem.  Her own fragile sense of being made it difficult for her to nurture a healthy sense of being in her children.

    The best thing she did for us was to take us to a church where we heard the good news of the Lord’s love and forgiveness.  Although I wasn’t ready to accept it at the time, perhaps partly because I had trouble relating to God as a loving Father, it remained dormant in my heart until I was open to receiving it at a moment of great need later in my life.

    I wasn’t an orphan in the usual sense, and yet I believed I was on my own by the time I was ten, if not earlier.  I somehow knew I couldn’t share my fears and struggles with my family.  Generally speaking, my father didn’t want to hear it.  My mother couldn’t handle it.  And my older brother was in his own world.  Siblings who grow up in a stressful family environment sometimes cling together for mutual support, but sadly, we tried to manage our lives mostly apart from each other.  Children will model themselves on their parents in good ways and in not-so-good ways.  We didn’t have much in common with that loving television family you may remember, the Waltons.

    My tendency was to become more withdrawn as I got older.  I didn’t have boundaries so much as fortress walls around me.  After I became aware of my same-sex attractions, which were yet another source of shame and anxiety, I was even more guarded.  I preferred to soothe myself with fantasies of idealized relationships.  If anyone ridiculed or rejected me, I’d try to get back at him by belittling him in my imagination.  I can remember replaying a scene over and over in my mind to exact the sort of punishment I thought he deserved.  I’m afraid I had very little mercy for myself or for anyone else.

    Incredibly, I came to believe that the only safe place I had was inside my own head.  I was so lacking emotionally, socially, and spiritually that I was elated, at least at first, to discover I could excel academically.  There was one part of me, anyway, that seemed to work.  I began focusing all my energy on my studies.  In high school and beyond, I was driven by anything but the joy of learning.  It became, in fact, a grim daily exercise in which my sense of self-worth was constantly at stake.  I was a highly competitive kid who displayed his knowledge to earn the praise of teachers and the envy of classmates I had sometimes envied.  My overachiever lifestyle was a coping mechanism, a survival technique, to compensate for the chronic dysfunction at home and the unhealed trauma in my heart.  At bottom, it was really an attempt to fend off a kind of despair, and I was running hard to stay ahead.

    But after a while, the “life of the mind” wasn’t enough.  By itself, it was a narrow, lonely type of existence which couldn’t possibly satisfy my other needs.  So, I looked around and eventually decided to join the student anti-war movement going on at the time.  My role as an activist drew me out of my isolation to a certain degree.  Our operation provided the sort of camaraderie I could be comfortable with—relations that were based on our political goals, with no personal intimacy involved.  All the drama and passion of those days could incline even a cautious introvert like myself to feel a little less inhibited and somehow more alive.  When that era ended and the crowds dispersed, I had an empty space to fill and I was running out of options.

    It was only a matter of time until my long-neglected issues would catch up with me.  The hurts and deficits I hadn’t wanted to address, or hadn’t known how to, were showing up in some very troubling behaviors.  I was subject to bouts of depression interspersed with anxiety attacks.  I didn’t leave my apartment any more than I had to.  It was all I could do to get through the long days and dark nights.  In retrospect, I should probably have been under a doctor’s care.  I was so accustomed to living inside a bubble that I can’t say it ever occurred to me to seek professional help and I wasn’t about to open up to some stranger in any case.  I wasn’t tempted to medicate with drugs or alcohol, if only because altering the mind with substances was a risky proposition to someone who only felt safe inside the head he was familiar with.  Suicide was never an option, regardless of the pain.  In words from the song “Ol’ Man River,” I was “weary and sick of tryin’ … tired of livin’ and scared of dyin’.”  I still preferred clinging to my pitiful little psyche to suddenly standing before a God who, for all I knew, was like my earthly father, distant and forbidding.  I was filled with fear and confusion.

    In the midst of my turmoil, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was reaching out to me.  I got a strong impression He was urging me to relax my grip and let Him take control.  One very bleak winter’s day—to be exact, a Saturday, January 12, 1974, at about 3:00 in the afternoon—I was finally willing to say yes.  I was at the campus library trying to work on a paper I couldn’t seem to finish when all at once I was overwhelmed by a sense of futility.  It’s meaningless, I thought to myself.  It’s ALL meaningless.  The God who reads the heart saw that I’d forsaken any hope of saving myself.  The next moment, a warm sensation settled on the top of my head and flowed throughout my body.  As I was being enfolded in an indescribable sense of peace, I whispered my first prayer as a believer: “Put your arms around me, Jesus.”  And He did.  He had come to take me to my Father.  I saw with perfect clarity that there was not only a God, but a God who loved me.  Earlier that day, I had trudged out of my front door like a dead man walking.  When I fell asleep that night, I was alive as never before and enveloped in a light the darkness can never overcome.  

    I seem to be one of those individuals who have to come to the end of themselves before they’re willing to surrender to the promptings of grace.  I’ve often wondered if I would have ever turned to Christ but for the pain He allowed me to suffer.  I’d been living in a prison of my own making for many long years.  It was a “severe mercy” that brought me out of it and into an abundant life with Him and eventually with His other children as well.

    As I began my new life in Christ, I felt a bit like the Israelites returning from exile—like “those who dream,” whose “mouths were filled with laughter” and “tongues with songs of joy.” (Ps. 126:1-2) I was hungry and thirsty for more.  I couldn’t get enough of Scripture.  Things I remembered from my boyhood church were falling into place.  I started attending a nearby congregation which eventually became my spiritual home.

    While I dearly wanted to be part of my Father’s family in every way, I had a longstanding practice of keeping others at a distance.  I came to see I’d have to repent of my prideful aloofness and replace my make-believe friends with genuine relationships based on openness and trust.  The Lord helped me get my feet wet in the warm, inviting waters of a charismatic prayer group.  I’d never met Christians who expressed their love of God so joyfully or moved so freely in the gifts of the Spirit.  I remember thinking, What right do these people have to be so happy?  For someone who had been so painfully self-conscious all his life, it was wonderful simply to forget myself and to lift my heart and hands to God in praise.  So very different from my old striving to justify myself in my own eyes or to elevate myself in the eyes of others.

    To some extent, I was still struggling with my old fear of exposure, but I meant to obey a word the Lord had given me from Isaiah 54:2: “Enlarge the space of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back.”  I’d heard of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a good way to connect with other believers and I developed lasting friendships with people I met there.  A group of us lived together in a household for a while.  I was impressed by how easily and naturally those young evangelicals spoke of their relationship with the Lord.  It wasn’t unusual for someone to start a conversation by saying, “So what did the Lord show you in your quiet time this morning?”  It was like a home where I could share my daily life with brothers without the strife and tension I’d grown up with.  

    As I would hear Leanne Payne say later on, “We know who we are only in relation to others.”  I would benefit greatly from numerous prayer partnerships over the years that would both affirm me and challenge me to keep growing in my newfound freedom as a child of God.  When I joined a support group for men and women dealing with gender confusion, I could be open in an even deeper way with folks who understood what I was dealing with.  I wasn’t at all concerned about being judged or rejected.  I could let go of more of the remnants of shame, anxiety, and self-pity I had carried around for much of my life.  

    I’ve learned it’s important to be intentional about our healing but also to be patient with the process.  If we’ve practiced a habit like toxic introspection for many years, we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re still prone to fall back into it, especially in the beginning.  I was encouraged at my first PCM school when Leanne told us not berate ourselves if we regress periodically (which would be merely another form of introspecting) but simply to look up to the Lord for His objective truth and to practice His presence instead of our own.  Like the bent, disabled woman who joyfully stands erect when Jesus heals her, we straighten up and praise the God who continually renews us. (Lk. 13:10-13) We are called to be recovering introspectors who keep choosing to love the Lord, ourselves, and others in the light of His truth and by the grace He gives us.

    Knowing I’m boundlessly loved has enabled me to love more freely in return.  I once read that learning to love is similar to learning to speak a foreign language.  It’s best to begin when young because it comes to us more easily then.  If we wait until we’re older, we’re more likely to talk with an accent.  I expect that I will always love “with an accent,” but my Teacher, my Abba Father, is wonderfully patient and kind.  He tells me to listen attentively to Him, to be compassionate with myself and others, and to persevere in my journey homeward.

    From Psalm 40:1-3: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”

    Artwork:

    Bernard Vaillant, 1632–1698, Socrates Looking in a Mirror

    Hans Holbein the Younger, 1526, Christ as the True Light (Christus vera lux)

    Author unknown, 1873, Jesus ascends to heaven