On Self-Care

selfcare.jpgMy vocation requires me to give and give myself everyday.  It’s my calling.  I’ve embraced it.  It has its rewards, but so too its challenges.

One of these challenges is compassion fatigue, which is defined as “an emotional and physical burden created by the trauma of helping others in distress, which leads to a reduced capacity for empathy toward suffering in the future.”

After about two weeks of giving and giving, I became a victim of compassion fatigue.  I had to do something.  I got on the phone and called a pastor friend of mine and asked him to lift me up in prayer.

On another occasion, following a tragedy, I was asked what I did for self-care.  To be honest, I was taken aback, but quickly realized that it was one of the most important questions I’ve ever been asked.

My response: I read, pray, and talk with my wife.

The Gospels from time to time would open a window into the inner life of Jesus of Nazareth.  Mark tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

Yes, even Jesus took the time for self-care.  It was deliberate.  It was timed.  It was planned.  Those of us in this kind of vocational ministry need to follow the example of Jesus on self-care.

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Book Review: Before Amen by Max Lucado

Product Detailsbeforeamen

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849948487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849948480
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Amazon.com

An Overview

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer begins “Hello, my name is Max.  I’m a recovering prayer wimp.”  He further describes himself as a “card-carrying member of the Prayer Wimps Anonymous.”  According to Max, we all want to improve our prayer lives.  He anticipates this and then the Why question.  For the reader who thinks themself weak or less than, Max points out that the  original handpicked disciples of Jesus needed guidance on prayer–hence, the Lord’s Prayer.  Regarding the Why question of prayer, Max points to the promises given by Jesus (Matthew 7:7; 21:22; John 15:7) and the example of Jesus in prayer (Mark 1:35).  He then leans in on the main thrust of the  book: the character of God and how we should approach this God and what we should ask of him.


I was looking for a good book to read on prayer.  While I knew I didn’t want anything too heavy, I also knew that I wanted something very insightful and practical.  Max’s Before Amen came out in the Fall of 2014.  I had known about it for sometime but wasn’t ready to read it.  Then the time came to read something on prayer.  For someone who has read more than twenty Max Lucado titles, Before Amen was on a short list.  Before Amen is simple, lively, instructive, practical, and vintage Max Lucado.  For the reader who is looking for a good book on prayer–not too technical or dry–I highly commend Before Amen.  It certainly makes for a great gift!

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What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship

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Overcoming Racism: Prayer and Expectations

The Apostle Peter describes Lot as a righteous man “who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless” (2 Peter 3:7 NIV, bold added).  As our nation continues to wrestle racism and its byproducts, I find myself like ancient Lot–distressed.

Distressed translates a Greek verb that appears only two times in the New Testament, both in the passive, here in 2 Peter 2:7 and Acts 7:24.  In Acts 7:24, it’s translated being mistreated by the NIV, to describe an Egyptian’s (mis)treatment of a Hebrew slave.  The Greek verb carries the meaning of “to exhaust by labor, or suffering; to wear out; to overpower, oppress.”

In 2 Peter 2:7, it is used to describe the wearing out effect that the depravity and debauchery of Sodom and Gomorrah were having on Lot.  In other words, Lot was “tired and fed up” of what he was witnessing.  Then in Acts 7:24, a Hebrew slave was being simply mistreated and oppressed by an Egyptian.

Both uses of this Greek verb are applicable to what’s going on in American right now.  On the one hand, we continue to witness the mistreatment and oppression of people of color, while on the other, there are countless people, like myself, who are simply “tired, fed up, and distressed” by all this mistreatment and oppression.

“Tired and fed up” of the mistreatment and oppression of his fellow man Moses took matters into his own hands.  But Moses’ way was not God’s way.  We cannot counter hate with hate.  Rather, in the words of Martin Luther King, “We must overcome hate with love.”

And as we march toward this love, let’s do so while assuming the posture of R.A.  Torrey immortal words, “Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.”

Not just pray, but work–with each person doing his or her part to bring about meaningful and lasting change in a nation plagued with and by racism.

Posted in Miscellanies, Prayer, Racism, Racism | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

African Americans and the American Flag

I was about to do a piece on African Americans and the American Flag when I found this following.  It was written by I believe it captures well what I wanted to say and goes way beyond my abilities into some of these complexities:

In spite of the fact that America has not been good or fair to black people, African Americans have always remained loyal to this nation. African Americans have fought to show their love for America and to hopefully “earn” their way to full citizenship. Nothing, though, not even fighting against Nazism and Communism, or fighting for the freedom of other people in other lands, has ever been enough to erase the presence and the scourge of white supremacy and its child, racism. Black soldiers have served as valiantly as have white soldiers, only to come home and face more segregation and outright discrimination in jobs, housing and education.

We have been “good enough” to fight for America, but not good enough to be allowed to be full participants in American society. Fighting notwithstanding, we have been denied full access to perks of free Americans, including being able to get loans for buying homes and starting businesses, having access to quality education and getting good jobs. This reality is what fueled the actions of the late Muhammed Ali years ago, when he refused to fight in the Viet Nam War, and it is what is fueling Colin Kaepernick and, slowly, other African American athletes in their refusal to stand during the signing of the National Anthem.

Too many white Americans seem unwilling to just admit that racism has left deep scars in everyone – black and white – and has traumatized the African-American populace for generations. The damage has been great and deep but in spite of that, African-Americans have continued to fight for full citizenship and dignity.

There are so many stories of African-American men coming home from fighting in America’s wars, only to be relegated, again, to second-class citizenship here. There are so many stories of African- American soldiers who were brutalized by white people upon returning home from war – even though they were still in uniform – with white governments doing nothing to the perpetrators.

There is too much unwillingness on the part of too many white people to ignore America’s history when it comes to race. How could anyone not feel some sort of angst upon learning the full history of the National Anthem, and the verse where it celebrated its put down of the efforts of slaves to earn their freedom?

Are African-Americans really expected to celebrate their oppression by white supremacists?

The history we are all taught has left out so much of what really happened to not only black people, but to brown people, indigenous Americans and women. We have been carefully manipulated to believe that “freedom” is and has always been a mainstay of all Americans, but a deeper read of history shows that not to have been the case. Read full article here

The American Flag stands for freedom–a freedom that every American is entitled to–but not every American is enjoying this freedom.

While I understand and respect those who kneel doing the National Anthem, I will continue to stand and hope, pray, and do my part to bring about dialogue and healing to an American that continues to be plague by the evils of racism.

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