I’m sitting up late having some cheap Merlot, listening to T-Bone Walker, Jerry Douglas, and Paul Simon, slowly looking through the March 2016 CT, and thinking, “This is an excellent issue and really excellent work.” As a leader, I have a lot on my shoulders and my heart. CT lifts me. Each issue seems to say, “All of us, writers and readers, are thinking this through and trying hard to live it as real as we can.”
The Problem with Happy Funerals p. 24
Grief is a painful yet necessary process to bring healing, to restore loved ones to former levels of function, and to find the “new normal” without the loved one. While we can and should celebrate heaven as a reality and remember the beauty of life, we must not forget that death was never a part of the original plan. And for that we should mourn.
I thoroughly enjoyed Courtney Reissig’s article, “The Problem with Happy Funerals.” I am a licensed Christian counselor and appreciate the complications of grief. My grief over my mother’s death a few years ago fell between the cracks of traditional responses, which are themselves all over the map. I loved my mother so much. She was often a verbally abusive, mean-spirited, screaming presence in my life up until her death. I was terrified of her. I am 53 years old. I knew her to be a tortured soul who was burdened by her own parents’ abuse. She never mentioned it.
Through ongoing prayers to my Savior, I found forgiveness and peace. I saw her life as little to celebrate since she was in so much emotional pain—and created so much in me. I never cried over her death; I felt relief on so many levels. She is finally happy.
Why the Cross? p. 34
Your interview with Fleming Rutledge was informative and inspiring. It was good to read a scholar who sees the significance of the Cross and its centrality to Christianity, especially in light of the cosmic conflict.
In CT’s interview with Fleming Rutledge, she says we should see Luke’s gospel through the eyes of Paul. Respectfully, we should not see Jesus through the eyes of anybody. If Jesus clearly said something, that’s the answer. If Paul seemingly varies from Jesus, then we must “reinterpret” Paul.
Specifically, Rutledge focuses on Paul not speaking of “repentance.” But Jesus (and John the Baptist, and Peter at Pentecost) did. You cannot change your destination without changing your direction.
Romans 6 is consistent with repentance (i.e., we should not continue in sin), even if Paul does not use that terminology. Paul also says we must confess Jesus as Lord, which clearly connotes a change in loyalty and obedience—which is the heart of repentance.
Thomas F. Harkins Jr.
Fort Worth, TX
We need more preachers and teachers in the church willing to speak openly and plainly about the cross of Christ. In an era of political correctness, it has become “not nice” to deeply contemplate the Cross, in part because of our fear of offending someone and further reducing our numbers. The irony is that we may actually be contributing to numerical decline by not preaching the heart of the gospel message!
Douglas J. Richards
East Norriton, PA
The Pilgrim’s Crooked Progress p. 51
In the March issue, your reviewer notes that Swoboda argues wandering is “an inescapable experience of the Christian experience.” This is a false generalization. It is no doubt true of many, but it is not universal. I am an 81-year-old who has been paralyzed for almost 10 years. I have sometimes been depressed and discouraged, but not even for a moment have these experiences caused me to wander from my conviction that Christianity is true and there is a good God behind it all. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).
If the people wandering in the desert for 40 years were part of God’s plan—and we know they were when we take the bird’s eye view—then I don’t need to question all the things that look off-track in my journey. As long I’m following the Leader, I’m going in the right direction.
The Hard Road to a Restored Heart p. 55
I look forward to reading Dan Allender’s Healing the Wounded Heart, not only to continue my own journey, but to assist victims of sexual abuse. As an inmate peer recovery coach in the Arizona Department of Corrections, I work with a forgotten and despised group—those whom the world discards, the church disregards, and the media demonize.
Nearly every one of my peers is not only guilty of a sexual offense (as am I) but is also the victim of childhood neglect and abuse. Our program addresses the psychological and biological nature of the trauma, and this is good work. However, we do little or nothing to address the spirituality of trauma.
Allender writes, “When you are no longer in bondage to shame and contempt, you enjoy a greater capacity to be who you are and to delight not just in life, but also in the One who made you to be in relationship with him.” Because of the mercy and grace of an extraordinary God, I have found freedom even in captivity. God is restoring my heart, but in doing so has given me a great burden for my brothers.
It is good that we reach out to current victims of sexual abuse to help them heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually; however, what are we willing to do to help those whose wounds have festered for decades? How do we begin reaching out as the body of Christ to touch the untouchable, forgive the unforgivable, and love the unlovable?
God at Work Along the Refugee Highway p. 26
“God at Work Along the Refugee Highway” was excellent. It was well-written, informative, and best of all, contained a bunch of photos. I really appreciate that the photos are of the people and places mentioned. I love the type of journalism that features consistent photos relevant to the article throughout the text. It was a great read.
May God use this in galvanizing his people to bring his good and beautiful kingdom into the lives of these suffering people!
I thought the image was an illustration when I first saw it. It is truly an award-worthy photograph by Italian photojournalist Antonio Masiello.
Kudos to @CTmagazine for this month’s cover story, which is equally heartbreaking and hopeful.
This article needs to be read by everyone. Seriously.
If you only read one article this month . . . read this one.
This. So good. Powerful.
No words . . .
The Faith That Got Me Through Hollywood p. 80
Thank you, Kathie Lee Gifford, for never being afraid to share your faith and how God has been your strength in all of your life’s journeys. I, too, gave my life to Christ at age 12 after watching a Billy Graham movie some 50 years ago. His crusades with the music of George Beverly Shea and the legacy of his never-changing message have inspired me to strive to attain his steadfast faith.
Faye J. Henry
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