thegoodenoughpastor

Enjoying the freedom of being good enough

Archive for the category “C. Baxter Kruger”

The “both/and” of ministry

I had the privilege this week to present to a group of leaders of a campus ministry. The room was full of up-and-coming talented leaders in their 20’s and 30’s. There were a few of us in our 40’s and 50’s.

The room was full of amazing stories of people who’ve been radically changed by Jesus and who are passionate about using their talents to reach others. I was humbled.

My assignment was to speak about how we manage our “self” in ministry. I covered a variety of issues, ranging from what makes a “self” and how our sense of self impacts others. I explored the importance of learning to recognize and work with the “stuff” of our lives that often surfaces and complicates how our “self” interacts with other “selves” when doing this thing called “ministry.”

I invited these leaders to consider the areas of their lives that might hamstring their ministries. I wasn’t speaking about obvious sin.

My experience teaches me that what most often snags us are those events in life that give us negative, false messages that become our definitions of self. Family of origin patterns, trauma, disappointments and failures carry with them messages that determine what we believe to be true about us. We then live and minister out of those assumptions.

Baxter Kruger calls these beliefs the “I am nots.” They include:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not worthy.
  • I’m not adequate.
  • I’m not loved.
  • I’m not loveable.
  • I’m not safe or secure.

These beliefs penetrate and season all aspects of life. Our task is to acknowledge their presence and recognize how they influence the way we relate to others. Failing to do so creates problematic and self-defeating patterns in our ministry.

Unhealed wounds tend to wound others.

While inviting Jesus to work in these areas brings change and hope, I pointed out that some of these beliefs can stick around and challenge us throughout our lifetime. Some of the 20-somethings found this a bit disturbing.

Doesn’t Jesus deliver us from all these self-limiting issues?

Won’t their continued presence keep us from being able to minister effectively?

Paul’s experience indicates that the answer to both questions is “no.”

Like so many areas of life, it’s not an “either/or” proposition, but a “both/and.”

Here’s what Paul says about doing ministry with our weaknesses:

“Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God . . . to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

 

Thought to ponder

Last night I had the privilege to be a part of a church service where Baxter Kruger and Paul Young tag-teamed in giving the message. Paul made a statement I thought appropriate for the “Good Enough” paradigm:

“The opposite of more is enough.”

So often we get caught in the endless wheel of “more.”

  • Do more.
  • Reach more people.
  • Get more offerings.
  • Pray more.
  • Read more.
  • Be more.

More is exhausting.

Grace allows us to relax.

To breathe.

To rest.

To be.

Grace is the beautiful message from God that we don’t have to be or do more.

We’re already enough.

We’re already accepted.

What we have is enough, for they are his gifts.

Recent Reading: Across All Worlds

One of my goals for this blog is to discuss what I’m reading. I haven’t done much of that yet, so here’s an offering.

I recently read Across All Worlds: Jesus Inside Our Darkness, by a relatively unknown (I assume anyway, by the blank looks when I mention his name) author, C. Baxter Kruger. Kruger is the Director of Perichoresis, an “international ministry dedicated to sharing the good news of our adoption in Christ with the world” (from the cover). He’s a theologian who studied under the Torrance brothers in Scotland.

Kruger came to me by recommendation from a trusted friend. Kruger’s message is steeped in Trinitarian theology. He writes extensively about the power and reality of grace that earmarks the core nature of the Triune God. Kruger has recently teamed with William Paul Young, author of The Shack. Together they lecture on the impact of focusing on the relational paradigm of God over the legal paradigm. Kruger asserts that the beginning point of our theology, understanding and interaction with God starts with the Trinity–that God is at His core, relational.

In Across All Worlds, Kruger explores the practical implications of Jesus entering into our darkness of our distorted view of God to bring us the good news of the Father’s love for us. He builds on Jesus’ remarkable statement in Matthew 11:27, “All things have been given to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

What exactly does Jesus know about the Father that no one else quite got right? Not a manual that tells us how to live right, get our act together and get our doctrine correct. What Jesus knew, coming from the perfect relationship of the Trinity, was the Father’s great love that eclipses any of our rebellion, darkness and shame.

“The biblical story is driven by the love of the triune God, and in this love by the relationship between God, on the one side, and Adam, Israel, and humanity on the other. In this relationship, the Father speaks. He reveals. He gives. Humanity is thereby summoned to hear, to know, and receive the Father’s love. And in hearing the Father’s voice, in knowing His affirmation and receiving His love, humanity is quickened with an abounding life that it can neither possess in itself or create. This abounding life then overflows into our relationships with one another and with the whole creation.”

“The problem of sin is far deeper than mere transgression of the law. And if we do not see the deeper problem, we will be left with a rather shallow understanding of our reconciliation in Christ, as well as of the very nature of our own existence and struggles. Sin is about losing our right minds, such that we are no longer able to see the goodness and love of the Father, and thus no longer free to live life in His unearthly assurance and blessing. We are left to live our lives in and out of fear and anxiety and dread. And those emotions create their own self-centered, self-protective world of hiding and brokenness, bitterness, frustration, and chaos.”

“This is the problem of sin. The impossible has happened: The truth about the Father is eclipsed. The unforgettable love of the triune God is now forgotten, so forgotten that it is now inconceivable . . . There is now a terrible incongruence between the being and character of God as Father, Son, and Spirit and the divine being Adam perceives and believes God to be. And for Adam, and indeed for all of us, the god of our imaginations is the only way God can be. Any other God makes no sense to us. From this moment, the Father’s face will be forever tarred with an alien brush, and His heart, His beauty, His goodness, will be misunderstood. Our darkened imagination will recreate the Father’s character in its own image. Our shame will disfigure the Father’s heart.”

“Jesus Christ did not come to change God. He came to identify with us, to stand on our side of the mess, to see what we see in our blindness and shame. He did not come to camp out on the frontiers of our great darkness and shout across the chasm. He came to experience the hell of Adam’s alien vision, and thus to establish a bridgehead between his communion with his Father and the human race in its tragic mythology.”

Across All Worlds is a short (Kruger calls it an essay) but powerful read. It’s a manual of sorts, outlining the progression of our distorted beliefs about God, the resulting shame, and how shame drives us to live our lives in a self-protecting manner that leaves us alone and perpetuating that pain. More importantly, Kruger points us to the power of the Gospel and our reconciliation and redemption in Jesus. As we come to know what Jesus knew about His Father, we are freed to live a life that enters fully into relationships, secure enough to take risks, and strong enough to face our pain.

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