Monday, November 29, 2010


Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Blames Dropped Pass on God
Outrageous! Outrageous!  It is simply outrageous and ridiculous for a professional not to acknowledge his mistake. It is mind boggling for Mr Johnson shifting responsibility and blaming God for his fault. Honestly, you need to be ashamed of yourself for failing to live up to expectation.   You should be manly enough to acknowledge that you goofed. This episode revealed the shortsightedness of man and how ungrateful a man can be. Can you see how a man reacted negatively to the generosity of God. No matter how you feel or what you say about Him: He is still God.  Your perception of Him does not affect His Sovereignty. This is an example of self-centeredness of man. Whatever happens give thanks because He is faithful. Give Him praise for all He has done. He deserves it. Thanksgiving is an act that provokes the acts of God. It must be our daily endeavour.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankfulness Leads to a Healthier Lifestyle

"Grateful People Are Happier, Healthier Long After the Leftovers Are Gobbled Up." This is the main point of this article I found wall street journal. Is having a heart of gratitude and constantly giving thanks really related to having a healthier life? I believe so! According to the article, it says that people who have a spirit of gratitude tend to be more happy, optimistic, have close and good friends, and possess more energy. I believe all this to be true. Am sure a number of us have heard the stories of missionaries that travel to third world countries and meeting extremely poor people people who have a heart of gratitude and are some of the kindest people. I am not saying that this is true in every case, but I have seen from personal experience people that are always thankful have a more optimistic view of line and are happy.

The article also mentioned that these happy people "earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections." While I agree with some of this, I don't think it necessarily true that every thankful person will make more money and exercise regularly. It is true to an extent that the more happy an individual almost correlates to how healthy the person is. Even though this article mainly refers to the western world, I believe that the article itself greatly underestimates the extent of how being thankful greatly influences the life of an individual whether rich or not. I did not intend to write on a topic like this, but I am glad I came across the article. Being thankful goes beyond the material; it involves the immaterial and it posses so much power that it greatly influences the material.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sex-Trafficing Charges Stun Minneapolis Somalis

Many of the Somali youth in the Minneapolis area, have resorted to gangs and drugs. Recently many of the members in the Somali Mafia and gangs have been charged with sex-trafficking crimes. Since 2007 there has been a series of problems from deadly shootings to Islamic extremists and now the sex trade. The community is angry with law enforcement and themselves for not protecting their kids better. A Somali sociologist at the University of Minnesota said that the past concerns about troubled youth have not been followed up with financial support or programs to help them. This is viewed by many Somali as an outrage and a scandal. The Somali youth need help. Although many Somali migrants are adapting well, most are living in poverty and their painful history creates extra obstacles for the Somali families. The migrant youth are more at risk than others. Most parents have gown up in Somalia while their children have grown up in the United States. Some have come here after spending their early childhood in refugee camps. Some parents speak little English and live according to their native culture while their children try to adapt to a very different American culture and not often have troubles belonging to either culture. A significant minority have dropped out of school only to spend their time on the streets. It is a travesty that these people have come so far, escaping and coming through all of their hardships, only to lose their children to gangs, drugs, prostitution and sex-trafficking.

Don't Touch My Junk

John Tyner went viral when he said "Don't Touch My Junk" when he was told what the enhanced pat down techniques would involve. This has caused people to look into whether these techniques will even be effective. According to the TSA there are two options the full body scan or the enhanced pat down if the body scan is opted out. The full body scan involves a short 30 second scan. The scanners are designed to detect hard objects. They reportedly give a great view of the person. This is on live streaming and it is detailed enough to supposedly be able to tell if a man has been circumcised or not. If that is not enough the pictures can be saved and the machine itself could be a carcinogen and dangerous unless the operator is adequately trained. The person can decide not to do this if the aforementioned risks are too much and they can opt for the enhanced pat down. The enhanced pat down involves checking for metal with a metal screening baton, and then an open palm check brisk, "professional" up the side of the body, and inside of both leg, "all the way up" and for females on the sides and the bottom of the breast. Some opponents of this invasive type screening techniques like Ann Coulter believe that this type of screening is not only offensive but it is useless. They would rather see profiling like what is done in Israel rather than the body scans and enhanced pat downs. She believes that this is reactive, we are looking for possible attacks instead of the attackers. Regardless if this type screening continues we have to ask ourselves how will this affect victims of sexual abuse, rape, trauma, PTSD. Will these methods cause them to have a relapse. How will TSA employee react when there are sexual dissidents who actually enjoy it. Since it is always men patting down men and women patting down women what will be the effect when one of them is a homosexual? Will "TSA screener" become the dream job of people who have sexual disorders, like frotteurism or voyeurism? Even for TSA screeners who have a fulfilling marriage, performing their job, which may involve looking at images of naked people for hours during the day will have a negative affect on the psyche and eventually the marriage. However someone who is already struggling with this could easily abuse this responsibility. In the new DSM-V hypersexual disorder is going to be a diagnosis for people obsessed with sex, this could easily create people with this disorder or at least tip them in that direction. Today is November 24, the busiest day of flying of the year. Many dissidents are going to forgo the screener in favor of the enhanced pat down in an effort to protest these new measures.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Always Thankful

I came across this article and thought that it would be perfect with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Rachelle Friedman had every reason to be happy and thankful before an accident left her paralyzed. Now, she has to endure a whole new host of challenges. Despite this, her spirit and determination are stronger than ever. Her two main goals are to get married and to become independent. Personally, I think that an incident such as the one Rachelle continues to go through could easily make an individual bitter. This is not so for Friedman. She maintains that, "We all have something to be thankful for." This fact is certainly true. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the abundant blessings God bestows upon us.

It is easy to take what we have for granted. This includes family, friends, health, and financial stability. Friedman is definitely choosing to display an attitude of gratitude and to move forward. She is a quintessential example of living a full life. She admits to sometimes being frustrated over what she cannot do, but quickly moves to dwell on what she can.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter, Deathly Hollows

Of course everyone knows the new Harry Potter movie Deathly Hollows is out in the theatres. Surprisingly, I found an article from Worldmag entitled, Far From Hogwartz that dealt with the new movie and a brief comparison of the objectives of the movie compared to the book. Apparently there is some controversy over the character and motivation of Harry in the book series and in the movie series. Rowling includes a dimension of Harry’s personality that his choices determine who he really is and not his ability. This is different from the movies which emphasize Harry’s abilities over his choices. The movie does not include Harry making a choice between him finding the hollows to enhance his own strength but to destroy the horcruxes and thereby weaken the enemy just as Dumbledore says to do. The movie therefore robs Harry of having any personality or moral choice between submission and self-will. I believe Rowling’s picture of Harry is more representative of the human condition of wanting to obey authority but also wanting to do our own thing and satisfy our own selfish desires. So many times Christians, and I include myself in here, we want to obey God but we keep going on with our own priorities and selfish desires and our end goal is to give ourselves glory instead of giving God the glory. Sometimes we do this without even thinking twice about it and we forget about our Christian mission which is to love God, love others, and give God all the glory!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Using the Power Within to connect

When doctors say they done all they can, God still has the final say. When asked to describe the situation some would call it a miracle, a blessing, an act of faith, or just plan luck. An extraordinary article about a mother embracing her son for nearly two hours using what some called the Kangaroos Care to revive him whom doctors had given up and declared him dead. Proverbs 18:21 states that death and life are in the power of the tongue and Ephesians 4:29 advises us to speak things that are good so that it may edify and minister grace to the hearer. The article does not focus on the parents beliefs nor religion. However I believe she was using Godly principles, she spoke life into a dead situation. Something inside the mother allowed her to continue hours after the doctors had called a quit. Some would call it a mothers instinct others wisdom or even discernment. In class we talk about the material and immaterial being and how christian are interest in both the material and immaterial whereas science try to figure out how things are done and are often left with no answer. Unlike Christians, science is only concern with material things which maybe why the doctor had a hard time believing. We also discuss how miracles are seen as examples of immaterial reality. In this case I would say that the mother choose not to believe what she saw or what she was told about her son. As Christian we are call to know that there are more to what our senses will allow us to understand.
Recently as a class assignment I had to read a book by Larry Crabb called "Connecting". In his book he talks about hurting souls crying out for what only a community can give. He goes on to say that when guided by the Holy Spirit something powerful can be poured out of the heart of one into the goodness they see in another. Like the mother holding the baby close, Crabb in his book talks about the powerful effect that others including himself felt from being held (a form of connecting). That's what I believe the mother did she connected with her son. I wonder what would happen if we as Christian started reaching out and connecting more instead of leaving others to handle it alone or pushing them off on someone or something.

Do the Negatives Really Outweigh the Positives?

Recently, a study was conducted in the United States to determine whether Christianity is viewed in a positive light or a negative light to the general public. Sadly, this random telephone survey found that 33% of people see Christianity as more of a negative influence in our society than a positive one- and this is including polls taken by believers and non-believers. I was completely stunned when I read this! How could anyone, especially Christians, believe Christiany to be a negative influence on society? I then proceeded to read more of the article, and it said Christianity is often viewed negatively because of the violence or hatred Christians demsonstrate in the name of Jesus Christ. The article then proceeds to talk about some more of the negative and positive views Americans have on Christianity.

As a Christian, this was extremely hard for me to read. It is very disheartening to hear about people viewing Christianity negatively. As belivers, we are supposed to demonstrate Christ's love, and to hear that 33% of Americans- including believers and non-believers- view it as a negative contribution to the world was heartbreaking. Psalm 40:10 says "I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love or your faithfulness from the great assembly." God's greatest commandment is love! Christians are vessels, and we should be portraying love not hate to others. I include myself because I know I am not the perfect example of Christianity; however, this article was a wake-up call to me, and my hope is that many Christians will have a similar response to this article.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Are you Smarter than...?

The PewResearch Center conducted a study looking Americans knowledge of Religion. The study consisted of questions pertaining to numerous denominations beliefs and practices as well as some general knowledge questions. Based on the results from the study the researchers concluded that Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups in regards to religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions. Researchers were able to conclude that schooling and level of education was the single best predictor of religious knowledge. While people with a high level of religious commitment do better than average on the religion questions, people with low levels of religious commitment do better than average on the general knowledge questions.

When I first saw this article, I was not sure how to react. On a basic level, taking the results for what they mean means that Atheists, Agnostics, Jews and Mormons know the most about religious knowledge even out performing other religions on core teachings. A simplistic answer could be that perhaps one or more of those religious groups constantly defend their beliefs and thus in turn they know more because they are prepared for a battle. Moreover, Protestants/Christians scoring the least in certain areas made me ask myself, does this make us less spiritual? And, honestly I don’t know.

My perspective is that God is not going to give us a “quiz” on how much we know. That is not important to Him, God says that we are made new because of the cross. We did not earn it nor do we even deserve it. In fact, I believe it says it is not because people do not know about God and his Glory they just choose not to believe. On the other hand, I do think that as a Christians and especially as believers, we should know what we believe and why we believe it.

Because for me this is more article is more than just a report on knowledge, it is about what we have been trying to understand all semester long: Can a _____________ (example, Buddhist) be more spiritual than a Christian? And I think yes, they can be. Buddhist believe what they believe but more than believing they embody what they believe. If as a Christian, we believe what we are told to then we never represent our beliefs they represent us. Once we acknowledge we are fallen and saved, we begin to personify spiritual formation. This is a continuous process where we learn and question what we believe so we can in turn live what we believe and if it ends, we essentially have ended.

Haunted House...Haunted World

This is an article that I found while I browsing through youth ministry website that I found had some very interesting thoughts, it is an article called Haunted House...Haunted World. Having just come out of the Halloween season, and having all the fun of trick-or-treating, dressing up, and haunted house fun, we have to realize that the the idea of all the frightening things is more real that we think. Ephesians 6:10-12 says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  There is a battle going on for our hearts and our minds. This battle is one we fight everyday, and the devil never quits. So, it is our responsibility to arm ourselves with the truth so we do not let the devil win this battle. Those of us who aspire to be counselors. We will be helping those we serve to fight this battle. So, we must be even more vigilant, so we will be able to fight alongside of our brothers and sisters in Christ!

The Spiritual Formation of the Therapist

Reading an article about the most important skills of a counselor I have realized that Christians counselors have a big responsibility and burden in our days. We have something very valuable to bring in the field of counseling. A spiritual component that I would say it is more important than any other skill or knowledge a therapist may possess. It is more than an theory or approach … it is a new way of doing counseling

Even if there may be Christian Counselors who may disagree with me, my personal opinion is that the spiritual formation of the Counselor is very important, if not crucial in the process of counseling.
Probably if Jesus would be asked to talk about this very subject he would use the same words he have used 2000 years ago: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? Luke 6:39 (NIV)

If we, as counselors, say that we are partners with God in the healing process, the relationship we have with our Creator and supreme Doctor should play a crucial role in the counseling process. Even if techniques, theories and skills are important for the counselor, all these without the guidance and wisdom of the Great Counselor (The Holy Spirit) would still make the helper a “blind trying to lead another blind”.

Also it is very important how the Counselor see the problem or the root of the problem he is addressing in therapy. If he sees it as a personal sin or mistake, or as an universal disease, or maybe an integration of both. (McMinn, 1996)
The perspective how the problem is seen can be of a huge influence in the treatment goals, methods and techniques established and used.

American Millennials: Generations Apart

A recent study was conducted by the Knights of Columbus to compare the past generations and how, “religious” they are. Although this survey maybe a little biased for Catholics, I think it still has much truth in it. The survey looked at moral values, religious views, religious experiences, and social issues. The sample was taken from 2,243 Americans, which included 1,006 Millennials, from the ages 18-29, from December 23, 2009- January 4, 2010.

The results from this study were quite interesting, and speak much truth of our nation right now as a whole. One result showed that Millennials share the same view as older generations when it comes to our nation heading in the wrong direction with morals and societal values. Although it may seem that our nation is going in the wrong direction, one hopeful result showed that most millennials think marriage infidelity and abortion is morally wrong, and they would like to see it decrease. This tells us that if there worldviews and morals stands firm, we will in the next decade see a change within our nations values and morals.

The last and most interesting result of this study was when asked if they believed in God, 76% of millennials said yes, which is the lowest percentage ever. However when asked about their top five life Goals, 31% of millennials said, “To be spiritual or close to God, which is the highest percentage in the last 100 years. This tells us two things. One, we could be on the brink of entering a Christian movement that could sweep across the nation, and really cause another “Great Awakening”. Two, it tells me that millennials are hungry for God, but aren’t being fed. I know your probably saying to yourself, “What can I do about this? I’m just a student.” Although you are student, and the Church should feed most of this hunger, you can still do your part. Matthew 28:18-20, which says “......All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This just isn’t talking about being a missionary, although that is good and needed. Jesus is also telling you as Christians to go out into your community, colleges, etc... and preach His word!

One thing I thought of when reading this article is Larry Crabb's book Connection. One reason us Millennials aren't being fed is because people are connecting with them. When I say people I mean pastors. I'm not saying all pastors are this way, but sometimes I get this feeling that the pastor that I am listening to truly doesn't care about us, and even more he doesn't really believe or live out what he is preaching. If a Millennial sees this they are going to shut down to the idea of Christianity immediately. What do you think?

Share Up Front the Heart of God

The topic of abortion has often stirred up a lot of discussion, and contention between both sides of the argument, and in the world we are living in today, I'm not sure that will ever change. World Magazine posted an article titled "Viewpoint Discrimination", about how Crisis Pregnancy Centers are now the object of a bill possibly to be passed, that would enforce stricter rules on what the centers have to tell woman before they can offer assistance. For example, they have to post that they do not have actual MD's working in the centers, and that they will not endorse abortion in any way.

Those involved with Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC's) are now concerned that the allegations of manipulating women into receiving counsel from them are having a negative effect on the actual work and mission of the CPC's, and that if this bill is passed, and "disclaimers" have to be used, it will deter people from seeking there assistance. In reading this article, as I got to the end, it struck me that if this bill is passed, those in the CPC's could use this as an opportunity to in using disclaimers, they can share more of what their true purpose is, and heart is behind what they stand for, but more importantly what they want to offer women in need of help. As a counselor, being honest in our counseling, and even more so as a Christian, sharing honestly what the heart of God is toward a person, and toward an issue, can be a powerful testimony and effective way to reach out, and really help someone. It shows someone that you genuinely care about them.

This battle over human life is a very real battle, fought in every nation, over the lives of those from all ages, and though we face a lot of adversity in these battles, God has given us His word, and He has given us Himself to reach out and make a difference in someone's life, and a difference in the world. So in situations like these, where others are trying to interfere with the help offered in places like Crisis Pregnancy Center's, perhaps we can evaluate the allegations, and use them as an opportunity to even better communicate the heart of God to those found in crisis situations of all kinds.

vs. "Love Thy Neighbor"

I was watching the show Extreme Home Makeover when they went to pick out bedding for some teenage boys when they suggested the new "Coexist" line of bedding. I immediately had the image of that annoying bumper sticker often seen on teenage wanna-be hippie cars flash through my mind, and rolled by eyes. Kind of a knee jerk reaction to what I perceived as arrogant people thinking that one religion that advocates for killing anyone who doesn't believe in what they do, and the engrains the hatred for others into their teaching can just coexist with the others... But then I started to consider, "Well how does what Jesus taught about 'love thy neighbor' tie into all this? Isn't it the same concept?" I've actually gone back and forth several times with what I think about this, even while writing this. Is what this bumper sticker is advocating, "getting along" with other religions the same as what we as Christians are supposed to do, in loving our neighbors? This generation especially has definitely confused the line between tolerance and acceptance already. Saying that we need to show tolerance to the homosexual lifestyle, and tolerance towards other religions but what most of them are really meaning is acceptance. Tolerance implies having "enduring". Having respect for a person but that does not mean we have to then accept their actions. Accepting means saying what they do is ok, and it can be right and even seen as moral. As Christians we must maintain and idea of tolerance as respect for others, but in no way accept the sinful actions of others, especially those found in some religions which say it is ok to brutally harm other human beings.
So... back to the bumper sticker... Is it advocating for tolerance or acceptance? Or maybe do the people who started the trend not even really understand the difference? What does 'love thy neighbor' really mean and how should we as Christians react to a bumper sticker like that??? Help me out, because I am still struggling!

Gay Bullying: Are Believers the Problem or the Solution?

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of bullying lately, specifically the bullying of gay and lesbian children, teens and young adults. I have had this topic on my mind for the past month and I debated whether or not I would talk about it on this blog, but I decided to go ahead anyway. First, I want to start by saying that I in no way agree with or support homosexuality, but I believe that as believers we aren’t doing enough.

There is an anti-bullying bill called the Safe Schools Improvement Act and it wants to include sexual orientation as a category along with religion and race and it would also provide programs to educate students. However, certain Christian organizations are fighting this because they believe it will lead to a tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle. Also stated was the fact that adding anti-gay bullying to the bill would be telling our children what they should believe morally. The last I checked this was not the responsibility of the school board or the society at large, that is the responsibility of the parent(s). Of course we don’t want schools teaching our children the opposite of what we believe about homosexuality because it confuses them and for some makes it seem ok to indulge in that lifestyle; but we cannot stop people from saying what they want to say and even if we stopped schools, there is still, television, radio, even worse the internet and people in general that state their own opinions. We can’t shelter our children from everything so the best thing I can do for my own is to teach them the standards that we live by and that is whatever the Word says and hope that they make the right decisions for themselves because we cannot do it for them. Are we as Christians so caught up in the fact that these people are sinning, that we lose sight of the fact that we are to be showing them the love of Christ as a way to lead them back to Him? It’s no wonder the homosexual community wants nothing to do with the church because the Jesus that Christians shout at them who is supposed to love them so much is not being demonstrated. Adding anti gay bullying to the bill may cause people to become more tolerant but if we don’t add it, more innocent lives will be destroyed because there is no one there to protect them, and I’m not saying that this bill will protect them because we’ve seen examples that it doesn’t always work to the victim’s advantage. When are we going to get or our moral high horse and really show the LGBT community what the love of Christ looks like. Every time I hear about or read something like this I keep thinking to myself what would Christ do in this situation? It seems so cliché for a Christian to say “WWJD” but maybe we should be asking ourselves that question more often instead of saying and doing what we have been doing.

What if this we’re you child being bullied for whatever reason, what would you be feeling right now? Imagine what all the other children and parents are going through? Are we looking out for the best interest of the children or are we just fighting for the cause? We really need to stop making it about religion and focus on the relationship because this is what Jesus did and that is why He has made and is making such an impact in people’s lives.

I'll end with this quote by Father James Martin: "If pro-life means trying to avoid anything that will threaten any life, from natural conception to natural death, then we should be finding ways to protect all life, which also means preventing suicides, and preventing gay suicides," Martin wrote. "In any event, there is much for us, the church, still to do."

The articles I read for this were: Believers: Problem or solution?, Christians respond to gay bullying, Christian right decries bullying, When a bullies kid grows up, Adult survivors of peer abuse.

Truth and Dinosaurs

Do you remember the outcry from some people when NASA officially stated that Pluto was no longer a planet in our solar system? There were online petitions and media outrage from those in the science and other communities that disagreed with NASA. There were even several facebook pages dedicated for Pluto as the true 9th planet. Well, science has done it again. Some paleontologists have decided to state that your childhood three-horned dinosaur, the Triceratops, never existed the same way we thought it was. Now a lot of dinosaur fanatics and Triceratops fans had posted their outrage about this discovery. Believe it or not, these researchers and their research do not have the full support from most of their colleagues.To give you a brief info about the situation, some scientists compared the skeleton of the Triceratops to another animal, Torosaurus. The animals look similar but they believed that the Triceratops is the “teenager” form for Torosaurus by its frill size. What people and I would complain about is not just about the erasing the existence of our image of Triceratops but what I found that the Triceratops is larger in size than Torosaurus. How is a juvenile form larger than the adult?

A report like this has to remind me that scientific findings are fallible and is susceptible to change, though we live in a culture that constantly remind us to give full reverence to the name of science. Science is just made up of discovered data and knowledge that is discovered so far. But the data and knowledge we obtained is always changing. Who knows what science will change that many believed to be true because science in the past stated it was true. Trusting only science can shatter a person’s view on life since science is not immune to change and may convince some to believe that science is evident for existence of only subjective truth with denial of absolute truth.

When it comes to Name of God and Jesus, our culture demands that we have to question the existence or need for God or Jesus and we are encouraged to discredit because of faith is considered as pseudoscience. Yet, time after time science changes in order to adapt with compromises for the sake of easy living and adaption for society. Biblical scripture is never supposed to change or compromise for the sake of adaption with society. It remains the same for giving the same message of love, responsibility, need of a Savior which is constantly needed in any society and century. The words can be translated or updated and still try to remain faithful at the same time. There is place in this world for usage of both science and scripture. Science may change but we need it to understand how things work and be able to live a better physical life while we need Biblical scripture to be able to moral judgment, be able to be tolerant properly, and have a better spiritual life.

the Spaniel