Friendly Fire

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
—Psalm 34:5

Friendly fire is a military term referring to inadvertent firing towards one’s own forces while attempting to engage the enemy, particularly when the result is injury or death. Another term for friendly fire is fratricide, a word that originally refers to the act of a person killing their brother. Unfortunately, sometimes our experience with “organized religion” or with other Christians has felt a lot like friendly fire. Instead of receiving Christ-like love and grace in the midst of our human struggles and failings, we have encountered judgment and condemnation.

I know a young woman, let’s call her Angie, who was raised in a church, but is disillusioned with Christianity. Her mother-in-law is a new ager. She is kind and caring and treats Angie with love and respect. Angie’s mother attends church every Sunday and has made no secret of her disappointment with Angie’s life choices. She corrects her parenting skills and housekeeping deficiencies, harps on her regularly for not going to church, and is often too busy when Angie needs help or emotional support. Who is more “Christ like:” Angie’s mom or mother-in-law? Angie is a victim of friendly fire. In her mother’s attempt to bring her back into the fold, she has pushed her further away.

Unfortunately, in a well-intentioned attempt to battle back the forces of darkness, people in the church sometimes fire a direct shot at one of their own. I know other victims of friendly fire:

  • Parents of a child with leukemia who were told by some in their church that they didn’t have enough faith.
  • A woman whose high profile marriage ended in divorce and was shunned by some in her church instead of receiving Christian care and love.
  • A young woman whose church refused to baptize her baby because he was born out of wedlock.
  • A couple who was told by their leaders that they weren’t tithing enough of their income to the church.
  • A woman whose gifting was met with jealousy by some leaders in the church instead of being affirmed, developed, and celebrated.

Our wounds feel deeper when we are hurt by people in the church. Perhaps it’s because we expect more from them. We hold them to a higher standard and we’re shocked when they don’t meet our expectations. Unfortunately, everyone is human and will fail you at some time or another, even those closest to you. Trusting in people, even Christians, and expecting them to meet all our needs and never make mistakes will only lead to disappointment and separate us from God (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 146:3-4). We can’t confuse the heart and nature of Jesus with the words and deeds of people in the church or people who call themselves Christians. Unlike humans who are works in progress, Jesus demonstrated perfect love and compassion. He said anyone who has seen Him has also seen the Father (John 14:9). The only One you can trust entirely without fail is God. Only God will never leave you for forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

When fellow Christians fall short and I am hit by friendly fire, I try to take them to the throne of God’s grace instead of the throne of judgment. Judgment is God’s job, not mine. My job is to choose forgiveness and extend the same love and grace He extended to me (Matthew 6:14-15).  (Forgiveness does not mean I have to continue to subject myself to spiritual abuse or any other form of abuse.)  Remember, our battle is not against people, but against “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world” (Ephesians 6:12). The best way to disarm our enemies is to “heap burning coals of shame on their heads” and to conquer evil by doing good (Romans 12:20-21). When someone takes a shot at you, choose to pray for them. When I have extended grace and prayed for those who wounded me, I have seen God come in and begin to work on their failings and change their heart and mine.

Finally, as a pastor, if you have been wounded by friendly fire, I want to apologize on behalf of the Church. I encourage you to go to God for what only God can give. No shadow of shame will ever darken your face again.

Father, forgive me for holding onto bitterness toward the failings of other brothers and sisters in Christ. I receive your grace and trust you alone to heal my wounds. Amen.

Excerpted from Peace For Each Hour by Mary J. Nelson; Copyright © 2012; ISBN 978-1938388170; Originally published by Comfort Publishers; Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

Start Your Journey with the Names of God and Two Free E-Books!

Start Your Journey with the Names of God Book Series

Shiloh Run Press recently launched a dedicated website for the Names of God book series.  The first in the series, Jehovah-Rapha: The God Who Heals, is a book of prayers, devotions, and stories for those seeking physical or spiritual healing. The book was released in 2016 and is now on sale for $1.99 on Amazon Kindle. The second in the series,  Jehovah-Jireh: The God Who Provides, is for those struggling with unmet needs in any area of life and was released in 2017.  Future books in this series will have similar titles:  Jehovah-Shalom: The God of Peace (Judges 6:24); and Jehovah-Nissi: The God Who Conquers (Exodus 17:15).

Jehovah-Rapha coverEach book in the Names of God series is based on a name of God that describes His character and how He cares for His children. With compelling teaching on relevant scriptures, passionate prayers, and engaging testimonies of God’s power today, you will be drawn ever closer to the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  You can purchase both books now on Amazon, at any online retailer or at your local bookstore.  Learn more at and my author website.

Download Your Free E-Books

Have you lost your job or are you struggling financially? Do you feel like all your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and going unanswered?  God Will Provide is the perfect book for job seekers, the unemployed, the financially burdened, and anyone who desires to approach their life and work from God’s perspective.  These ten meditations and prayers will remind you of His timing and His love for you. ​ For help in trusting God’s provision, go to the  Names of God book series website to download your free copy.

For further  help through difficult trials,  Hope for Tough Times will be free again on Amazon Kindle from June 30 through July 4. This book can help you break through the barriers that can keep you from finding God in the midst of illness, injury, broken relationships, unemployment, personal loss, and other life challenges. Clear Bible teaching illustrated with the true stories and life experiences of other believers will take you on a rare journey into the heart of God. To download your free copy, go to Amazon Kindle starting June 30. The download will work on any reading device.

That’s all for now. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement that keeps me writing!

New Release and More Author News!

Second in the Names of God Book Series Now Available!

Jehovah-Jireh: The God Who Provides was released by Shiloh Run Press on March 1 for anyone facing an unmet need and seeking God for a breakthrough. It will be especially helpful for job seekers, the unemployed, the financially burdened, or anyone facing challenges in their work or personal lives.

The book is filled with compelling teaching on relevant scriptures, plus passionate prayers and engaging testimonies that will comfort, encourage, and inspire you on a journey of prayer and devotion. The sixty story-based meditations—both Biblical and modern day—will guide you as you pray God’s promises into your personal life and help you live as a beloved child of God, fully dependent on Him for your every need and trusting that He always provides.

“…a rich biblical reminder of how much God loves and takes care of His children.”—Steve Hudson, CEO, Global Youth Initiative

Purchase now on Amazon or at any online retailer or your local bookstore.
Read what others are saying about Jehovah-Jireh: The God Who Provides.
To learn more, listen to my interview on KNEO Author’s Corner.

The first in the Names of God book series, Jehovah-Rapha: The God Who Heals, was released in 2016. Purchase now on Amazon or at any online retailer or your local bookstore.

New Names of God Website Launched!

Shiloh Run Press just launched a dedicated website for the Names of God book series at Check it out and download your FREE E-book, The God Who Provides. Check back for more Names of God book series news.



Pray for the Cure Onsite Training Now Available!

Pastors and leaders, are you interested in starting a cancer healing and discipleship ministry in your church? According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1,688,780 people will hear the words, “You have cancer” in 2017. While studies show that most patients with advanced cancer feel religion is important, the majority say they receive little or no spiritual support from faith communities (Dana Farber, 2007). Over half of survivors believe the emotional consequences of cancer will always be part of their lives, even though the cancer may leave their bodies (Lance Armstrong Foundation, 2004).

As a cancer survivor in 2001, I founded Pray for the Cure at Hosanna! Church in Lakeville, MN to disciple and pray for others facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis. Over the years, hundreds of people facing all types and stages of cancer have received biblical care and support through the Pray for the Cure ministry. Now, your faith community can be equipped to offer the same ministry through a one-day hands on Pray for the Cure workshop. Prayer ministers in your church will learn:

• The unique practical and spiritual challenges faced by those diagnosed with cancer and seeking healing.
• Common mindsets that may be barriers to physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and how to overcome.
• The role of discipleship in ministering to people facing a cancer diagnosis and living life as a survivor.
• Practical prayer and discipleship strategies for ministering to people before, during, and after treatment.
• Tools and resources for establishing and sustaining a Pray for the Cure ministry in your church.

Praying for The Cure: A Powerful Prayer Guide for Comfort and Healing from Cancer is the perfect companion resource for those in your church who are facing a cancer diagnosis and receiving healing prayer and discipleship through your Pray for the Cure ministry.

To learn more, please contact me at