Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I've been to holiday grief seminars that were helpful. Any time you get people together to admit grief and to process, it's helpful. But what happened Sunday evening wasn't just intellectually helpful. It was healing. When people come together to lament, to remember, to cry out, to pray, to claim hope, to hug, to weep, to laugh, to light candles, to sing, and to listen to Christian music--it goes way beyond helpful. It's an experience. No wonder the psalms of Israel aren't tame. Maybe you've heard that there are psalms of lament, of thanksgiving, of praise, etc. That's right. Sort of. But the truth is that many of them include more than one response. You can move, for example, from thanksgiving to lament to anger to praise. In other words, they are real. At least I know for me, my emotions don't come neatly packaged, one at a time. It's not just head info about the grief process that brings healing. It is community . . . and worship . . . and emotion . . . and trust . . . and symbol . . . and hope . . . and lament . . . and memory . . . and prayer. - - - - Tonight in "Oasis" I begin a two-week series I'm calling "Tiptoeing through the TULIP: Five Small Problems With Calvinism."


  • Mike, I don't know who's idea that Lament service was but it was amazing. I must admit that I wasn't sure I wanted to go or wanted Sam to go but in the midst of experiencing that moment, I understood. It was church. It was real. It was holy.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/18/2006 05:05:00 AM  

  • I'm looking forward to the series on Calvinism, Mike. Last semester with Doug Foster taught me just enough to be quite interested in Calvin and his TULIP. Blessings.

    By Blogger Chris Field, at 1/18/2006 05:33:00 AM  

  • Do you tape these lessons? My kids attend a presbyterian school and hear a lot about Calvinism, but I don't think most of it is very objective. Peace.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 1/18/2006 06:12:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    The Lament service was very healing! I say we should make it an annual event. There are so many people at Highland who experience grief everyday like you pointed out through divorce, death, the heartache of not being able to reach a child and other things. I am blessed to be a part of a congregation that is authentic about what grief is. I am also blessed to see how God's power and sovereignty is displayed in the lives of those who have walked that road.

    By Blogger Lauren, at 1/18/2006 06:21:00 AM  

  • Your recent posts about the Highland community (and the greater community of faith in Abilene) highlight something on my plate right now. I'm reading Randy Frazee's book, "The Connecting Church." In it, he suggests that churches have failed to achieve authentic community, despite the emphasis in recent years on "small groups." Frazee proposes, somewhat radically, what must take place to really achieve a connecting church.

    On the other hand, my next read is going to be Barna's new book, "The Revolution," where Barna writes the obituary for the church. I'll bet these two books are going to have a lot in common, with one exception: Frazee pleads for renewal in the church ... Barna simply "acknowledges" that the church is on the way out, and probably doesn't warrant saving.

    Mike, have you read either book? Your thoughts??

    By Blogger Brian, at 1/18/2006 06:51:00 AM  

  • It's important that we remember that many in our congregations are experiencing pain. We should always acknowledge that sometimes we just need to cry out to God. I know a girl who told me that in church she felt less than others because we were always in such a good mood and always so happy. She was at a rough spot in her life and needed to lament. She needed to know it's ok and that her church family was there for her. I wish we remembered that more often. Sometimes joyful praise is a direct result of a time a lamenting. God bless our congregations healing.

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/18/2006 07:02:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Will your series on Calvinism be available on the web? We would certainly love to hear what you have to say, but will be unable to leave Zagreb, even for a great reason like a series on Calvinism. :o)


    By Blogger jocelyn, at 1/18/2006 07:08:00 AM  

  • Mike, that lament service was so very healing. What a blessing to be able to hug people like you and Cheryl Lemmons and others, who have suffered this past year, but are still depending on God to carry you through. I did a lot of weeping that night, but "we do not grieve as those who have no hope." It was hopeful weeping. And I haven't been able to stop singing "Blessed Be Your Name" since then.

    By Blogger Katie, at 1/18/2006 07:28:00 AM  

  • One of the things I pray for our particular community of faith is to become a place where people feel safe. It seems that we are more polite to each other rather than honest in our expressions of our lives with one another.

    By Blogger Chad, at 1/18/2006 07:43:00 AM  

  • Sunday night's Lament Service was a unique experience for me and I echo what has been said, may it become an annual tradition at Highland. May we remember to mourn with those that mourn, as much as we rejoice with those that rejoice. Maybe this type of service will help us to heal to a point that we can bring rejoicing out of our mourning. Again, thanks and blessings to all that thought of, planned and led the service!

    As far as your two-part series on TULIP, count me in. The pastor at my church in San Diego was an avowed Calvinist, but always reminded us with his great sense of timing and humor, that we were not required to accept his belief on Calvanism, that it was his opinion - "however," he'd add, "you're wrong if you don't, LOL."
    I'm really looking forward to the series, so God willing, see you tonight.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/18/2006 07:46:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    If a recording of Tiptoeing through TULIP can't be podcast or something could we at least get a glimpse of your notes? Sounds very interesting.

    By Blogger Jeremy Houck <>, at 1/18/2006 07:51:00 AM  

  • Jeremy, Jocelyn and Steve - No, we don't usually make tapes available from Wednesday nights. We tend to make an exception when Randy Harris speaks -- just to hold him accountable. lol Maybe it will make a series of blog posts.

    Brian - I love Randy's book and have recommended it to lots of people. I have just received Barna's new book but haven't read it. I, like you, would lean toward Frazee's desire to bring renewal to the church. But we need to start thinking WAY outside the box as to what church looks like.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/18/2006 08:05:00 AM  

  • It must mean something very deep and theological that when you do a google search on Calvinism, an ad for Calvin Klein underwear comes up!

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 1/18/2006 11:57:00 AM  

  • Steve Puckett: Man, I have the same problem when I search "Victoria, British Columbia." Another underwear company always comes up! I hate it when that happens...

    By Blogger MarkS, at 1/18/2006 12:10:00 PM  

  • Mike, this is going to sound overly academic of me (occupational hazzard) - I hope at somepoint in your series on Calvinism you're able to distinguish the Man (Calvin) from the Movement (the -ism). It was the Synod of Dort (1618) that came up with TULIP in order to refute Arminius. I do a lot of work with Calvin and find the acronym horribly misleading for actually talking about his theology.

    And yes, I'm a grad student. :-)

    By Blogger Chad, at 1/18/2006 12:12:00 PM  

  • I'm still waiting for "What Jesus Would Say to the Desperate Housewives."

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/18/2006 02:14:00 PM  

  • Mark,

    Good one, bro.


    Would John 4 be Jesus talking to a desparate housewife?

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 1/18/2006 03:18:00 PM  

  • That would definitely be Edie.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/18/2006 06:47:00 PM  

  • I'm going to amen everyone else's thoughts aobut the lament service. It was the most incredible expression of church I have ever seen. Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling such intense emotions about the wreck because I didn't suffer in the same way that you and the other families did. But in another sense, you are my family...all of you. And it was healing to be able to acknowledge my emotions and grief and give those to God as well as comfort others that I dearly love. I can't stop saying it...I'm so thankful that God brought me to Highland and put you and Diane and Chris in my life. I love you all sooooo much!

    By Blogger Heather A, at 1/18/2006 07:42:00 PM  

  • We miss Highland. We would love to get the short version of your talks for the next two weeks.

    By Blogger Byron, at 1/18/2006 08:57:00 PM  

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