Tag: wholeness

Why Are So Many Christians Afraid of Being Broken?

Broken

 Today we welcome, Amazon Best Selling author, speaker and radio host, Matt Ham. Matt knows a thing or two about brokenness. In this article he shares what happens when we finally realize that we are broken.

The one constant that we all share is suffering. I wrestled with this for so long in my life, but a cancer diagnosis in 2014 awakened me to this reality.

For some reason suffering and brokenness have become four-letter words, especially in Western Christianity. While many of us understand that we live in an ugly, broken world, we’d rather not go there. In fact, we try our hardest to avoid brokenness and control our circumstances so that we can avoid pain.

But I’m learning something different:

The only path to true freedom is through the very brokenness that we so desperately want to avoid.

Two years ago, before my cancer diagnosis, if I were reading this post, I would have stopped reading by now. Quite frankly, it was a lot easier to avoid the conversation altogether. But I’m learning that for the brave, courageous few who are willing to continue, the reward is beyond comprehension.

Seeds Don’t Bear Fruit

Last fall, my wife and I took our three sons to an apple orchard in the mountains of North Carolina. In the cool fall air, we walked through the rolling hills and picked sweet fruit from the trees.

As I watched my sons enjoy the ripe apples, I thought about a consistent theme throughout the Bible. In countless parables and teachings, Jesus spoke of bearing fruit. He used analogies of seeds and soil and trees to convey some of His deepest truths.

In my own walk, I longed to bear fruit. I longed to see the fullness of God ripen within me to produce His very purpose for my life. But I believed that bearing fruit had to do with my own effort. I thought that striving and trying and willing myself to obedience was the path to wholeness—the path to fruitfulness.

But that day in the apple orchard, something deeper hit me: seeds don’t bear fruit.

Isn’t it interesting that a seed must surrender itself, it must be broken, in order to begin the process of fruit being born?

I feel like in using the analogies of nature, Jesus was trying to convey something much deeper than we want to understand. While religion calls us to bear fruit by our own effort, Jesus reminded us that fruit is born out of brokenness.

Curiously, He was willing to go as far as being broken himself—crucified, died and buried, so that the fruit of our salvation could be tasted. In that process, Jesus not only became our Savior, He became our example.

Recognize You’re Broken

The first step toward wholeness is the recognition that you’re broken. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely true.

The first step in healing a marriage is an understanding that the marriage needs healing. The first step toward financial peace is financial unrest. The first step toward a healthy lifestyle is an acceptance that your current way of life is unhealthy. And the list goes on.

The same is true of our faith.

The problem is, so many of us are unwilling to go there—we’re unwilling to be broken.

Jesus struggled with that as well. If you remember, there was a moment, in Gethsemane, where Jesus had to make the choice to live out His own parables. As Jesus bled sweat from His forehead, He asked God if there was another way: “Abba, Father, do I have to be broken?

In that moment, Jesus prayed a prayer that terrifies me: “Father, not my will, but thine be done.

Being broken is about surrendering your will in exchange for the will of the Father. And that’s not just as a one-time, shot-in-the-bucket choice, it’s a constant state of being. That’s why Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” The good news is, we don’t have to hang on a cross. But we do have to pick one up.

The Sweet Fruit of Freedom

Our absolute surrender is the only thing strong enough to break the seed of pride within us. That is the path to bearing fruit. That is the path to living whole. Once we surrender our will in exchange for the Father’s, we begin to take root. Then, and only then, will His fruit come forth.

When my physical body had to be pierced in order to remove my cancer, I was reminded of the pierced hands and feet of my Savior. That was the only way that we could be freed.

Refusing brokenness is like holding on to the very cancer that threatens to destroy us.

I’m living proof that brokenness is the path to freedom. As upside-down as it sounds, it’s absolutely true. There is no other way.

But that freedom is the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted. And in God’s beautiful plan, that fruit produces seeds that, when broken, will yield more fruit. And more fruit. And more fruit.

That’s the beauty of the gospel.

In death we find life.

In brokenness we find healing.

When we are emptied, He makes us whole.


Matt HamMatt Ham is a dynamic storyteller and speaker seeking to challenge culture by challenging perspective. He is also the author of the Amazon Best Seller, Redefine Richco-host of the radio talk show, Wake Up Our Faith and host of Whole Life Matters podcast. You can follow Matt at his blog, or on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or connect with him in the FB group, The Whole Life Community.

How Community Heals

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In the book of Mark, Jesus is asked: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:28-31

I use to believe that obeying the Greatest Commandment, to love God and love your neighbor, began with learning how to love God and allowing that love to compel you to love your neighbor. This common model is one that many Christians operate under. I am not arguing that we shouldn’t live under them, we must. However, this two-fold commandment begins with learning to love God and then allowing that love to prompt us to love our neighbor.

Loving God as a singular command is fairly abstract. It may take some time to learn to love Someone that is invisible and intangible. And because figuring out how to love an intangible God can be difficult, we may approach loving our neighbor with an attitude of duty. I have seen this “attitude of duty” lead many Christians to burnout and frustration. So what could be the answer to learning to love our neighbor without an “attitude of duty?”

I believe the answer lies in Jesus’ new command, to love each other, and thus in community. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Jesus could have asked us to do our best to love each other. He could have even left it at “love your neighbor” since that pretty much covers everyone. But instead, He made sure to tell us that He was giving His followers a new commandment. I’m confident that Jesus gave us this command (“…love one another”) so that we would have an environment to receive healing and be restored to wholeness – to equip us to obey His command to love God and love our neighbor.

Christian community allows us to learn to love others in the safety of the body of Christ. It is in this community where we practice the love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. Community is where the fruit of the Spirit is cultivated. It is where we practice confession and healing prayer as instructed in James 5, in the company of our brothers and sisters.

The essential elements of community allow the Holy Spirit to bring us to a place of healing and wholeness. When we become healed and whole, we are able to love our Christian brothers and sisters as He desires. As we learn to love, we become better equipped to love our neighbor, which is the outward expression of our love for God; in essence we are loving the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul and mind. We are able to care for widows and orphans in their affliction, which becomes a natural outpouring of the love that exists in our community.

As we become the likeness of Christ, we become better equipped for every good work of His ministry (i.e. loving others.) Growing our love for God points to and glorifies Him. This is God restoring us to wholeness as a means for caring for others and for the purpose of lifting Him up.

And it is this “real religion” that honors God and reflects wholeness in Christ. It is here we begin to fulfill Christ’s declaration in John 13:35, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is in that fulfillment that we reveal wholeness and invite others to receive the same.

2 Reasons Why You Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For

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As “blog launch day” has drawn near, I really struggled with what to write for the inaugural TWM post. There’s so many ways I could have gone, but a lot of what I thought to say about this site is already in the MANifestio (should be done in the next week or so), so it didn’t seem helpful to just rewrite it here. But then I thought about the one thing that connects all of us. It’s something that Hollywood has known for so long and has exploited to make fists full of dollars selling kiddie pool deep rom-coms. It’s the Jerry Maguire, “you complete me” syndrome. It’s our need to find that one thing or one person that will help make us feel whole. That missing element that will signal our completion. We lay the weight of all our hurt and all our expectations onto it, in hopes that it can bear the burden and make things “right.”

Really this is something that all of us deal with, it’s hardly unique to men, but since TWM is directed at men, this blog is going to talk about the things that they seek in an attempt to feel whole. Realistically that list is pages long, and hopefully over the life of this blog we’ll cover many of those things. For this post, we’ll say that it basically boils down to four things: Profession, Possessions, Persons, and Power. Most men attempt to fill that empty space with one of those things. Some pour all of themselves into their career in an attempt to “be known.” For some, it is stuff; the biggest TV, newest phone or nicest car. You can even put things like pornography, gambling or other addictions into this category as ways that men attempt to fill the voided space. Others look to a spouse, partner, group of friends or even his kids as a way to define who he is and feel accomplished. And still others try to use power in an effort to “be somebody.” Somehow, at the end of all that, there’s still a space; still a void that inexplicably can’t be filled.

Before I go any further let me define “wholeness” as I’m using it. In James 1:4, in talking about tests to our faith, the writer says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) uses the words “complete” and “whole” accordingly. One of the main things I want to do is differentiate the idea of wholeness and perfection. Often biblical translators use both words somewhat interchangeably. Merriam-Webster defines perfect as, “being entirely without fault or defect, flawless” and “lacking in no essential detail: complete.” But as for whole, MW defines it as, “recovered from a wound or injury:  restored” and “physically, mentally and emotionally sound.” For the purposes of TWM, perfection occurs when Jesus comes back or we die and enter eternity. Perfection isn’t possible this side of eternity, but the pursuit of perfection is possible and wholeness is part of that. When I say wholeness I’m talking about being restored and healed. I’m talking about Jesus reconciling us to God, healing our hurts and making us a new creation. That does happen this side of eternity.

In our attempt to find wholeness, we’ve convinced ourselves that that “one thing” is out there and we just need to look long enough or search harder. Unfortunately so many men search their entire life and never feel quite whole. Some may get close to feeling fulfilled, but that’s not the typical story. If you google the phrase “something is missing in my life,” you’ll get about 218,000,000 results, and a lot of them are quizzes and tests to help you figure it out. Clearly there’s a lot of opinions on how to find wholeness. Obviously I’m not going to provide some profound insight into wholeness, nor do I have all the answers, but from what I’ve experienced and conversations I’ve had with other guys, I’ve found that there are two reasons that most men have difficulty finding wholeness.

 1. You’re looking in the wrong place.

C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Logically, if there are 218,000,000 resources to help you find that “thing” that will make you whole and there’s still an enormous amount of people still looking, maybe Lewis is onto something. Maybe it isn’t that we’re not looking hard enough, but that we’re looking in the wrong place. Maybe we’re not meant to find wholeness in this world. If wholeness is possible and we’ve been unable to find it in the things of this world, maybe we ought to start looking in other places.

An easy argument might be to look to other religions that offer a more holistic response to the “who am I?” question. Unfortunately every other religion, whether outright or subtly, tells us that we need to try harder. They still put the responsibility on us to find that “one thing.” Christianity doesn’t do that. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He’s offering us the ability to come to Him and rest so that He can exchange incompleteness for wholeness.

To be clear, it isn’t instantaneous and it isn’t some magic formula. It’s a process of rebuilding and healing. Restoration and healing take time. Given time and a commitment and connection to a community of other Christians that love you, wholeness comes.

2. You’re unwilling to be open.

Most of the conversations I’ve had with other guys revealed that their inability to be “satisfied” with their life is really a result of some level of stubbornness or unwillingness to be open about their hurts and struggles. I know, it’s not a popular thing for men to talk about their feelings, and we’ll talk about that more as time goes on, but it doesn’t change the fact that being closed off affects your ability to find wholeness. Often times a major road block to wholeness is a lack of healing for the wounds that we carry. I don’t presume that being open about our hurts is easy.  I know it isn’t.  However, I do know being open is essential to achieving a sense of wholeness. At the very least it’s necessary to begin the process of actually seeking wholeness.

I think one of the most beneficial things I’ve done, and many of the guys I’ve coached have done, was finding a group of guys who will allow me to be honest. And I’m not talking about an “accountability” partner. Accountability is necessary, but it’s only a part of what I’m talking about. I’m talking about friendship. A community of men, who span a wide breadth of experience and wisdom; men who can be honest with each other and walk though healing together. A community of love is by far one of the best tools that Jesus left us in our journey toward wholeness.

The_whole_man_completeWholeness is the thing that leads to the abundance of life that Jesus was speaking of in John 10:10. My hope is that TWM will be a place that encourages men to gather and seek healing and wholeness together. In doing this, we’ll get to experience that abundance of life and better fulfill the roles for which we were created.

I’m looking forward to seeing where The Whole Man takes us. I definitely don’t know it all and am still walking this path is a number of areas of my life. Because of that, I think this thing works best if it’s collaborative and generates discussion.

 

 

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