Monday, February 28, 2011


As I was talking with a friend the other day, we began talking about the greatest needs we see in our world. Whenever these conversations start, I always feel as though I'm in a funnel, beginning with issues and needs on a global and national level and gradually moving down to a very personal and intimate relationships.
It struck me that too often, true connecting relationships are quite rare. Often times, I connect with people by phone, email, or facebook but without real face-to-face contact. Dr. Larry Crabb also addresses the issue of deep relationships in his book, Connecting. In reference to the healing relationship within the Christian life and also within the counseling session, he stresses the actual connection of the relationship is the real avenue to healing. I, too, agree with this perspective. It is those people whom I already have strong loving and trusting relationships that I can actually share my deep personal feelings, thoughts, dreams, heartaches, and sin.
I wonder how much we would all encourage healing in each other's lives simply by making ourselves available to developing deep, vulnerable, trusting relationships.

Perfect Imperfection

Today i would like to talk about the "Human Condition". According to, the human condition encompasses the experiences of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context. Some more in depth examples of influential factors on the Human Condition may be our parents and friends, the things we eat and subject ourselves to, and even our Churches in which we attend. Our Human Condition is individualized to the point where there is not another person on the face of the Earth in the past, present, or future that will be exactly like us.

We are all and were all created to be unique. In the movie Bicentennial man, a robot who has a uniqueness of having a conscious and personality to him strives to become more human. At one point in the movie as the robot (who is played by Robin Williams) is deciding on what he would like to look like, he receives counseling into purposefully having imperfections in his physical appearance. He is told that in the small imperfections we truly identify ourselves as being an unique individual.

To bring it back into the schemes of Counseling and being a Christian, we know that God has a plan and specifically choose to have us look the way we do for a reason. In fact i would even say it is all apart of his "Perfect Plan", that no two people will be the exact same. This "Perfect Plan for Imperfection" was not a fluke and did not just come about with no intention.

I believe that in Counseling not only do we need to be aware of the differences that we all have from one another due the code's of ethic's that we may adhere to. I also believe that we should embrace and celebrate these differences due to the Commandment to love others. Our differences are what make us special, they set us apart, and were even God ordained. Shouldn't we as Christians and as Counselors set ourselves apart and take a positive stand and really give encouragement to be different, celebrate unique personal experiences, and even comfort individuals who may not like the person they are?

I would encourage you today to take some time out of your day to actually sit down and speak with someone who is noticeably different than you. Acknowledge your differences and see potentially how God may have worked through them to speak to someone that you may have never had the opportunity to.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

As I Lay Dying

Stories of death bed experiences are something that everyone has been told about during some point in their life. When we hear about it, we either make some comment about how awe-inspiring it would be to experience or ardently deny that it could happen. It is a comforting thought for the grieving to hold on to perhaps, but in this age of science and fact, it is difficult to actually believe that it happens. It was posited in class that these experiences are scientifically unexplainable because they deal with the immaterial, and therefore un-measureable, aspect of the personhood.

Steven Wagner at decided to investigate the records of death bed visions. What he found was that the experience and details of the experience held consistency across nationalities, religions, and cultures. While the details of stories remain the same – visions of angels without wings, being greeted by a dead relative or loved one – the validity of these stories are difficult to confirm since only about 10 percent of dying people experience consciousness in the moments before death when such a vision would take place. Speculation would place around 50 to 60 percent of the dying to have these experiences.

I am still skeptical about the prevalence of death bed visions today. This is not because I do not believe they exist, merely because I believe that our culture, as a whole, has severely removed themselves from being attuned to the spiritual aspect of their personhood. The death bed vision is a spiritual affair. The Bible reports in Acts 7 that Stephen experienced a death “bed” experience and was welcomed into heaven during the final moments of his stoning.

A part of me would like to believe that I am wrong. That in the final moments of a person’s life, they experience the joy that Stephen felt, welcomed into the embrace of a creator. But we must be rational. We live in an age of science, and we cannot exactly poll the dead about their dying experiences, can we?

Can Spirituality Heal?

I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting this weekend to fulfill a class requirement, and I couldn’t help but notice the influence of spirituality in these men and women's lives.

The role of the immaterial is unmistakable in AA's 12-step plan:

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction…
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…

To AA members, the belief in a Higher Power is foundational to the healing process.

In a recent article on Psychology Today’s Spirituality Blog, David Elkins seems to agree: “Spiritual interventions heal—sometimes when traditional psychotherapy fails—because they untie the mental and emotional knots that prevent the life force from doing its work.”

Such statements may sound strange coming from psychologists, who have traditionally viewed religion as a form of psychosis. However, the growing interest in spirituality cannot be ignored by even the scientific community.

A recent survey of family physicians found that 99 percent of them believed that meditation, prayer, and other forms of spiritual practice had a positive influence on health.

As Christian counselors, the idea that spirituality can heal is not incompatible with Scripture, but depends heavily on how the terms “spirituality” and “healing” are used. In class, we defined “spirituality” as the ability to interact and engage in the immaterial realm. It follows, then, that spirituality is not a uniquely Christian term, for AA’s “Higher Power” could be Jesus, Allah, Brahma, the Sun god…or any other diety.

How a counselor understands “healing” and “health” shapes the way they approach therapy. Is healing merely an amelioration of symptoms? Are stability of self and display of social interest the primary measures of health? Biblically, health is not grounded solely in self-satisfaction, but, more importantly, in personal transformation. Dan Allender describes healing as “the use of our past to draw us into deeper relationship with God and his purpose for our lives.”

It is quite possible to have a deep personal spirituality and even to be psychologically healthy, and not experience the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. In today’s world, spirituality is a relative term…and a slippery slope.

So…can spirituality heal? Ask any of the AA members I spoke with, and the resounding answer is “yes.” In fact, they would likely tell you that apart from their spirituality, they would not be sober. For many people, interaction with the immaterial realm helps them cope and gives them hope.

But can spirituality save? No. As a Christian, spirituality—experience with the immaterial realm—is not the end, but rather, the means to the end of knowing Christ and being transformed.

God In The Midst Of Tragedy

On February 21st, disaster struck Christchurch, New Zealand in the form of a devastating earthquake. At a magnitude of 6.3, the earthquake has thrown the city into rescue mode with over a hundred dead and more missing. Nearly one third of the 3000 buildings that have been examined by a professional construction crew have been condemned and slated for destruction. The city itself has been quick to respond, restoring nearly 85% percent of standing homes with power and providing food, water and bathrooms for those who no longer are able to reside at home. However, a good portion of the population has been evacuated until the city regains a fraction of its once unquestioned stability.

The question, almost flippantly thrown out as a thought provoker in class, is whether God uses tragic events serve to bring us closer to him? As an avid Twitter user, I posted this question during the in-class discussion to see what my friends would have to think about the issue. Although the topic was short lived in class, those following me soon entered into a passionate debate about how disaster does not bring us closer to God. It merely makes us aware of God, they argued. It is through these circumstances that we are quicker to seek the hand of a creator and acknowledge his sovereignty in our lives. However, without exception, they believed that tragic events are a result of sin and not God using it expressly in our lives.

To this point I disagree. Cue a few days later when my twitter feed lit up with reports of “Praying for Christchurch”, “NZ in our prayers”, and “Sending love and prayers out to the people of NZ”. Although they were correct in stating that mankind’s sin has brought about tragedy, it is very clear that God has worked through this tragedy to bring people from all over the world together to pray for this city. These people are in the midst of a nightmare, fighting for their lives and their livelihoods, and God is working there. Today, a memorial service is being held within the Christchurch Cathedrals remaining tower to honor and remember those who died during the earthquake, and if nothing else, this great tragedy has made people who may have never stepped foot inside a religious building acknowledge the existence of God.

What's your spiritual type?

This online quiz was designed to help people find their “spiritual type” or how “spiritual” they are. The quiz’s introduction explains how it is more difficult these days to know your “spiritual type” because spirituality is becoming less and less connected with organized religion. Many people these days consider themselves to be “spiritual” but not “religious” or some other combination of terms.

In class we talked about the idea of spirituality and whether it is connected to religion or not. We defined spirituality as the ability to engage with the immaterial realm, which is possible for all people, whether they choose to engage in the immaterial realm or not and whether they engage with the same immaterial beings as I do or not. Then again, just because someone is spiritual does not necessarily mean that they are closer to the living God.

I took this quiz in order to be more informed when I wrote this post and was very curious as to how they would categorize the different results. Almost a candidate for clergy, I scored 85 out of 100, which they categorized as a Confident Believer, saying that I “had little doubt that I had found the right path.” I found the different categories to be very interesting because they appeared to be very relative, not based on truth or any sort of standard, but based on how confident the person felt he or she was with his or her faith system. This communicated that they believed that one’s level of spirituality was determined by how convinced they were in their faith, whether it was true or not. Therefore, according to this quiz, a person who worships thumb tacks can be highly spiritual and maybe even a candidate for clergy! It is important, therefore, to remember that spirituality is not by any means synonymous with salvation and that salvation can only be found through Jesus Christ.

Quiz: What's Your Spiritual Type?

You scored 85, on a scale of 25 to 100. Here's how to interpret your score:
25 - 29
Hardcore Skeptic -- but interested or you wouldn't be here!
30 - 39
Spiritual Dabbler -- Open to spiritual matters but far from impressed
40 - 49
Active Spiritual Seeker � Spiritual but turned off by organized religion
50 - 59
Spiritual Straddler � One foot in traditional religion, one foot in free-form spirituality
60 - 69
Old-fashioned Seeker -- Happy with my religion but searching for the right expression of it
70 - 79
Questioning Believer � You have doubts about the particulars but not the Big Stuff
80 - 89
Confident Believer � You have little doubt you�ve found the right path
90 - 100
Candidate for Clergy

Exorcisms as Psychotherapy?

A recent article in Psychology Today reports a widespread explosion of interest in exorcisms. In the U.S., there are over 500 publicly-known deliverance centers, while in Europe, hundreds of priests have sought training in exorcism because of the needs of their communities. If Hollywood is any reflection of cultural trends, people are interested in the supernatural. Just look at the popularity of movies like The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Amityville Horror.

Science provides no explanation for immaterial beings such as demons. Thus, demonic activity has traditionally been seen as outside the realm of psychotherapy. However, in his studies as a forensic psychologist, Dr. Stephen Diamond raises some startling questions:
• Are there vital existential or spiritual questions addressed by exorcism that psychotherapy detrimentally neglects?
• Should psychologists consider certain techniques employed by exorcists when treating angry, psychotic, or violent patients?
• What can we learn about psychotherapy from studying exorcism?

“Our recent overemphasis on cognition, behavior, genetics, neurology and biochemistry must be counterbalanced by the inclusion of the spiritual and depth psychological dimension of human existence.” Could Dr. Diamond be acknowledging the legitimacy of spiritual influences in therapy? It certainly appears so, opening the door for discussion with our non-Christian colleagues.

As future counselors, it is critical to wrestle through the implications and involvement of the supernatural world in our practice. Diamond’s assertions of the necessity to re-examine the spiritual issues of our clients deserve a welcome “amen” from Christian counselors, who view personhood as both material and immaterial.

But this “amen” must surely be followed by a “what now?” for if secular psychology is seeing the need for examination into clients’ spiritual realities, Christian counselors must certainly have a voice in the discussion. Our understanding of personhood allows us to readily acknowledge the spiritual and biological influences of our clients’ behavior. More than that, Scripture teaches that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12)

The challenge, then, is dialoguing the truths of Ephesians 6:12 with our non-Christian colleagues in a professional context.

Are We Truly Helping?

After reading Effective Biblical Counseling by Dr. Larry Crab, I found myself reflecting on what I believe is the biggest issue between counseling and Christianity: are we really helping people grow closer to God by helping them find satisfaction apart from Him? I state this question very objectively, because I do believe that a trained Christian counselor should use the proven techniques of the field in counseling someone, even in a secular field where Christ is not allowed to be mentioned unless the client initiates it. This brings healing to the client's life, a healing that can lead them closer to Christ. However, it would be foolish to ignore the other argument, that by resolving the surface issues of the heart, we fail to address the ultimate issue, which is the client's eternal separation from God because they do not have faith in the Savior. Should we, as counselors in a secular field, encourage our clients to find a (seemingly) satisfying life apart from God?

The only way that I can address the issue is to use the analogy of a Christian at a restaurant, who leaves a Bible tract behind as a tip to the waitress, without actually giving her any money. Yes, if she truly received the message in the tract, then she would understand how priceless it is, and would care less about the money. However, what she will see, is a cheap Christian who does not actually care about her, or appreciate her service. Why would she see this, when the Christian attempted to give her something that could change her life? Because "people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." And I would have to ask if the Christian in this example really cared about the waitress's well being.

That is where we come in. This issue is more so about our hearts instead of our clients. Why do we counsel others? Because we care about them, and we want to help them. If true Christianity is taking care of widows and orphans, then our priority should be showing them the love of God, even if we cannot mention the name of God. After this, we need to have faith that the Holy Spirit can work in their lives, that God can bring people into their lives who can share the gospel with them. That is where our responsibility lies, and that is what we can do in obedience to God.

It's elementary, my dear Watson!

Recently, Jeopardy had a computer as one of its contestants, for the very first time in history. This computer was named Watson and it has the capacity of 2,400 computers, with a database of around 10 million documents. Needless to say, this computer is intelligent, but the real hurdle to jump for its creators was to create a computer that could resemble human thought processes. Even more important than knowing the right answer to a Jeopardy question, is understanding how to interpret the linguistics of the question to know what it is asking in order to answer it correctly.

In class, we talked about what a person is, both its material and immaterial parts. We also talked about different aspects such as memory, thoughts, learning, and understanding and whether these aspects are part of the material person or the immaterial person. We argued that memory, for example, is a process of neurons connecting at the right times in the right places. At the same time, we also argued that we would still have our memories in heaven, even though we would not have our same material body. In addition, people who have out-of-body experiences also have memory even though their material body is certifiably dead.

As the creators of Watson jumped a number of different hurdles, it probably led them to a greater appreciation for the complexities of the human brain. At the beginning, several of the creators did not even think that it was possible to create a computer that could compete on Jeopardy, let alone win. Jeopardy questions are worded with wit and puns, making it very difficult for a computer to decipher and understand. Watson can also learn from its mistakes and improve. Watson was a product of several intelligent people over a span of decades, showing how difficult it is to create a machine that simply resembles the human brain. The human brain truly is amazing! And Watson has overcome many of the barriers of prior computers, such as understanding and learning, but it still misses some key aspects of the human brain. Whether these aspects are immaterial and unattainable for a computer or simply in a future model of Watson is still to be determined, but the fact remains that the human brain is amazing in its complexities and its Creator continues to blow our minds.

Prejudice: when those I hate are the ones I need most

I was reading Live Science and I came across this article that was about the concept of displaced anger. Well maybe anger is too strong of a word. It is more like displaced feelings of ill-will. In the article they were saying how when people feel bad about themselves they have been proven to be more prejudice against others.

I thought this was very interesting in light of something that I read in Larry Crabb’s book called Connecting. The book Connecting is all about how we can all help each other with the things that we are going through if we just take the extra time to make connections with one another that are meaningful. In the book Crabb made a point that people that don’t know us that well tend to find the most to appreciate in us.

The thing is, this turns into an ugly circle. For me when I am feeling bad about myself the thing that makes me feel better the fastest is when others say appreciative things to me. However the people that know me the least are most likely to be appreciative of me but according to the article I would push these people away due to my prejudices when I need them the most. So how do you get out of the circle? Well I guess that is what Crabb’s book is all about. We have to connect.


I went to a Mennonite church this past weekend as part of a class project and the sermon brought to mind something that I have grown to believe more and more. The pastor spoke on Matthew 6:1-8 talking about how as Christians we are not suppose to elevate ourselves because of "good works", however, we are to glorify God and make sure He gets the glory for all we do. It brought to mind the fact that it is not about the activities in our Christian life, it is about our relationship with God. In this passage Jesus is describing a humble attitude that is fully reliant on God; one that gives God the glory for everything that goes on.
As we progress through the semester, I am seeing how insufficient I am to work as a counselor. There are many different theories out there on what causes psychological dysfunction in a person in both the secular and Christian camps. Knowing when and how to apply the proper theory, or in some cases theories, can be quit distressing. During the semester so far, I have read about 3 different Christian theories on what causes psychological dysfunction and can agree with parts of each one of them says and I will continue to learn even more theories as the semester goes on. It can become quite overwhelming when I think about applying each of these theories in a counseling session and thoughts of self-doubt quickly come to mind. However, I can relax and rejoice that it is not me who will help each individual I see, but God working through me. God has called me to be a Christian counselor so that I can bring honor and glory to His name by helping hurting people. I can rest in the fact that my abilities did not come from me but from God and that He will guide me through each counseling session as helping me to apply each theory I have learned in school. Through my classes and knowing what I am getting myself into when I graduate, God is helping me develop a humble attitude that fully relies on Him.

So that's why mom can't remember my name

In class we are really taking a hard look at what makes up a person so we can make a better attempt at knowing how to help them in our future careers. Currently we are going from the outside in. We went from the body, to the soul, and now we are on the spirit, with more to come. One of the things that has stood out to me, on our magic school bus ride into the unseen parts of the person, is that all three parts we talked about “remembers”.

Science Daily had an article in it that talked about memory and how the way we use it changes as we age. The article talks about the difference between implicit memory and explicit memory and how young people tend to use their explicit memory more and older people tend to use the implicit.

So, the body remembers by way of the brain. The soul remembers and we know this based on Revelation 6:9-10. Then also the spirit remembers as told by Psalm 77:6. But this leaves me with many questions. Are these all different memories? Are all these memories stored separately? Are they implicit or explicit memories? More importantly are all of these memories affected by age? I am really hoping not. I would like to think that whatever it is that my soul and spirit is remembering it is getting sharper with age whether explicit or implicit or something totally different.

Saddam Hussein a Misunderstood Philanthropist?

I read an article many years ago about this village in Sri Lanka, who named their village after Saddam Hussein. The villagers hung pictures in their living rooms, and named there kids after him. My mind was blown away while reading this article. Saddam Hussein was an truly evil man. He was a dictator that instilled fear in his people. He order the rape of women to find out information, and tortured men for harmless crimes. Yet, this village in Sri Lanka honored him and say that they are indebted to him for all he has done.

This article reminds me of our discussion we had in class about truth. One person's truth may be totally different then another's. what one group of people believe is not the case with another group. Was Saddam Hussein a terrorist dictator who deserved to die, or was he a misunderstood philanthropist? This is truly a good example of the differences in belief that people can have regarding truth.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
shows the battle between good and evil in the lives of Christians. According to the story line, Lucy and Edmund could be considered Christians in this classic series. In the newest Narnia move, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Eustace, a cousin of Lucy and Edmund's, must battle an evil force that is abducting many people. When going up to battle this force, Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Eustace are warned that the evil force would try to deter them and tempt them with material things. It is this battle between Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Eustace and evil that this movie is centered on.
In class we have been talking about the spiritual realm and it is an important discussion that cannot be ignored. The Bible teaches that nature itself proves there is a God, a Divine Creator, and it can be assumed that if there is a Divine Creator, there is a Destroyer. The spiritual realm is not filled with just God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and angels; but also with Satan and demons. You cannot take a look into the spiritual realm without considering both sides of it.
I think Christians living in America today tend to ignore the demonic side of the spiritual realm. As Christians we cannot ignore the facts that Satan exists, he hates God, and he is willing to do anything to cause God pain. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader gives somewhat of a view of how Satan works to distract Christians and get them off track. Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Eustace had a specific task they were on, destroy the evil; however, while on their journey they are tempted with desiring to be beautiful, power and money, and disbelief respectively. It is important for Christians to realize that while they live the Christian life, Satan is going to try to derail them and tempt them with things of this world. I can say that in my life he has tried to do just that and the only way to combat it is with truth. Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Eustace were only able to combat and defeat the temptations that came upon them with truth. Jesus also when being tempted by Satan used passages of Scripture to defeat and resist the temptations. It is time as Christians we stop believing the lie that the host of darkness does not exist or, if it does, is not involved in human life today. We are fighting a spiritual battle and it is time we take a stand like Ephesians 6 says and in the power of Jesus combat the influence of darkness in our life and in the lives of those we love.

Taking an Honest Look...

Who decided that fairy tales and nursery rhymes were ever suitable bedtime stories for children? Most of them are fully of creepy and disturbing events that occur in some creepy made up land far far away and once upon a time. They usually involve some staple items such as a wicked witch, small children, mysterious forests, and mirrors on the wall.

At times the Christian life can mirror the fairytales and nursery rhymes we learned as children.

As a child, it never really occurred to me that there were so many disturbing and creepy things that happen in these tall tales. I thought the wicked witch and bad guys were scary, and sometimes pictures of them coming out of my bedroom closet kept me awake at night, but I just got used to the stories being what they were and never questioned them or gave them a second thought the next day. As I grew up and matured, however, I started seeing these fairytales in a new light. Whenever I thought about Hansel and Grettle going into the forest and follow the breadcrumb trail to the evil witch’s house, I remember thinking, “Where are Hansel and Grettle’s parents? Why would they let their kids wander around the creepy forest without any adult supervision? Didn’t they teach them never to take candy (or in their case breadcrumbs) from strangers? When they get to the witch’s house, why didn’t the phrase ‘stranger danger’ ever come into their minds?”. So instead of me seeing 2 adventurous children who are playing in the woods and just so happen to run into a wicked witch, I began to see 2 children whose parent’s did not care about them or raise them to protect themselves in a world that can be full of dangerous people who often lure you into their evil with deceptively appealing things like breadcrumbs.

This progression of me moving from an unaware childlike understanding of these fairytales to a more mature and aware grownup understanding is completely normal and healthy. Fairytales were never meant to substitute for reality. However, in the Christian life, many people never transition from the fairytales they tell themselves to the reality ofthe world around them. They stay in a childlike understanding of people and the world around them and never mature to an awareness of the harsh reality of what the world is really like. Of how broken and distorted people and the world have really become. They choose to remain in this childlike understanding of the fairytales instead of facing the reality of the world around them. Christian maturity Demands that we see God, the world, and the people around us in an honest light. We MUST face the reality of our brokenness and depravity as human beings if we are going to call ourselves Christians. God knew that our condition as humans was severe. That’s why he sent his son to die an excruciating and costly death for us. A refusal to accept this reality only cheapens the price he paid for us.

As counselors, it is our job to help individuals move past the fairytale understanding of their lives and the world around them. By helping them take an honest look at the reality and brokenness of their lives, we can then help them to move towards God's grace and healing.

More proof that bacon is evil

I came across this article in Science Daily that was comparing how children who had the swine flu virus had more seizures then those who didn’t. In the article it said that 66 percent of children who had H1N1 had neurological issues, and 67 percent of those children had seizures. Then out of the children that had the seizures, half of them had continuous life-threatening seizures.

Reading this article made me think even harder about one thing that our teacher said in class on Thursday. On Thursday we were talking all about whom and what, can and cannot be possessed by a demon. Then at one point in the talk the teacher reminded us about Matthew 8:28-34, where Jesus cast some demons into some pigs. Then our teacher made the point that this story clearly shows that pigs can be possessed by demons and if pigs can be, then can all lively creatures be possessed? Then he left it with if all living creatures does that include viruses? So can viruses be possessed by a demon?

To me this article about children with the swine flu virus having life-threatening seizures seems to fit the thought that viruses indeed can be possessed by a demon when you take a look at Matthew 17: 14- 20. In these later verses of Matthew the demon possessed boy is described with having seizures that cause him to suffering greatly and that these seizures also cause him to often fall into fire and into water. Now that sounds pretty life-threatening to me. So could it be that the same thing that was causing the boy in Matthew 17: 14- 20 to have seizures is also causing these children with the swine flu virus to have seizures? Demons? Could it be that from my beloved bacon flavored swine to the swine flu virus all can be demon possessed?

Judgmental Bumper Stickers...

The other day, I was driving on Wards Road in Lynchburg trying to escape the lunch-hour traffic as it crawled along at an irritatingly slow pace, and something caught my eye. In front of me was a gold, four-door sedan with a black bumper sticker on it that said “Abortion is Murder”. I’ve always hated this specific line of pro-life slogans. It’s not that I don’t believe they are true or that I’m not pro-life. I am pro-life and do believe that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent child that has barely had a chance to live. I’m not pro-choice, but I do recognize that because of our country’s current laws, the mother DOES have a CHOICE. We as Christians have the ability, as well as the responsibility, to help influence these women towards the right choice. As I was sitting at the light, waiting for it to turn green I started thinking about the message of this bumper sticker and questioning its purpose and effectiveness in actually preventing abortions. I started off questioning the purpose and effectiveness of these slogans, and then I began to think about the women and young girls reading these phrases. I wondered what the slogans would accomplish when read by a young teenage girl who already had an abortion because her parents forced her to, believing she was too young to raise a child. I wondered how they would affect a battered and broken woman who got an abortion because her pregnancy was the result of a violent rape. Or how these slogans would affect a pregnant teenage girl’s decision as she considers abortion because her boyfriend dumped her and refuses to take part in supporting the child he had a part in creating. As I thought about these stereotypical stories of the women and young girls who seek out the "solution" of abortion, I realized that while there is truth in these types of pro-life slogans, they miss the vital command given to Christians in Ephesians 4:15a which is to “…speak the truth in love.”

While these marketed slogans may occasionally cause a woman or teenage girl to think twice before they decide to get an abortion, overall it seems that these types of moral “Christian” judgments either push these women away from the church because they do not want to feel judged or criticized; or they push women away who have already gotten abortions because these women only feel guilt and judgment from the truth of these statements. This truth is then received without the gracious, relational and forgiving love that is necessary in order to recover from the pain, grief, and guilt they carry around for their mistake.

In scripture it says that, “God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance” (Romans 2:4b). That as Christians we are to, “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15a) to one another. Throwing around judgmental slogans on T-shirts and Bumper-Stickers that say, “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is homicide” does not reflect God’s kindness or accomplish the Biblical instruction of speaking truth in love. While these slogans may very well be true, the person reading them who does not know the individual sporting them, does not have a context of relational love from which they can hear this type of harsh truth. Without this relational love, these types of truths spoken will only be received as non-loving judgments. Now, I’m not saying that just because you do speak the truth in love it will be well-received by someone you do have a loving relationship with. They may very well receive this truth spoken in love as a judgment from you. However, there is a difference between this type of perceived judgment within the context of an actual loving relationship, and the perceived judgment when a loving relationship does not exist.

Throughout my graduate counseling courses I have been learning that as a counselor, it is important for me to be non-judgmental towards a client when they reveal something to me that does not align with my personal convictions or beliefs. Our job as counselors is to look past the sins or offenses the person has committed and to show them true Christ-like love in the context of the counseling relationship. It is only after we have shown them that love that we will be effective in reaching them with the truth and correction needed in their life. And true Christ-like love is only made complete through speaking truth and correction into the life of the one we claim to love.

This article talks about how the most beautiful angel, received the eternal cast from the Heaven, and how man has fallen to sin. From this article fallen means separated from God's presence and how we got saved, how we got back from eternal separation to God.
I have searched for this article since our last discussion on our soul getting saved. I just wanted to get deeper with this issue and identify how other professionals think of getting saved.
This is a serious topic for Christian counselors, because our job is to heal clients psychogically as well as their life with God, through his words. Going on, we need to help our clients to be saved through God, helping them look back from their loss of pressence with God. This is why God has called upon Christian counselors, but all this is useless if we do not know the meaning of getting our souls saved by God. From what I believe to become a real Christian, a person needs a right kind of faith that is given by Christ and believe that Christ has died for our sins. Everyone can say he or she is a born again Christian by mouth, no one can tell that the person is saying the truth but God knows, since God does not feel that person's presence bonded back with him.

A Dragon Transformed

In, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" we encounter a rather unfriendly character named Eustace. When his cousins Edmund and Lucy return to the magical land of Narnia, he is inadvertantly brought along and is far from happy about the expedition. He spends much of his time complaining, declairing himself sick, writing nasty things in his journal, and causing mischief around the boat. One day they go to an island where Eustace wanders off and finds an enchanted treasure. He tries to gather as much of the treasure as he can, but this is hard work and he falls asleep. When Eustace wakes up, he finds that he has been transformed into a dragon. At first his counsins and their friends do not recognize him, but when they discover what happened they welcome Eustace back and try to make him comfortable. During his time as a dragon, Eustace reflects on his bad behavior and decides to change his ways. Instead of causing trouble, he looks for ways to help his friends, such as hauling trees that they use to repair their ship, and making a fire to keep the crew warm. Although Eustace is improving his behavior, he is still a dragon and that is beyond his ability to change. Eustace desperately tears at his dragon scales, but it is no use. At last, it is the lion Aslan that tears the scales off and frees Eustace from the dragon body he was trapped in.
During our class, we discussed the difference between the soul and the spirit. When the person makes Jesus lord of their life, their soul is saved entirely, once and for all. However, their spirit is in need of sactification, that is, the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Although people can try to improve their behavior both before and after their soul is redeemed, we will all be pitiful dragons unless we submit ourselves to Jesus and allow him to set us free.

Contemporary Quiet Time and Spiritual Formation

Many devout Christians understand the importance of spiritual disciplines in spiritual formation. More precisely, Quiet Time seems to be one of the most encouraged or discussed of the spiritual disciplines. This term is used often in Christian Circles in order to describe a time of devotion with God which will most likely include reading a passage from the Bible and praying. The following link (click here for access) describes what is commonly accepted the structure of a quiet time, or at least most practiced by many sincere believers.

In class we have discussed how the Bible is one of the main avenues in which God gives us more specific insight into who He is and how He operates. Also, it is generally accepted that reading God's Word regularly is paramount to knowing God and growing spiritually. Moreover, in many circumstances many of us might be inclined to determine the consistency of a person's spirituality or, in counseling settings, the spiritual depth of a Christian therapeutic intervention based on how many Scripture verses are employed.

I cannot help but wonder if an individual can grow spiritually even if he did not do his quiet time, at least not in the understanding that we have nowadays of that the quiet time is?! In the same way I'm wondering if a Christian Counselor can still be very effective in integrating Scripture without opening the Bible a single time in a counseling session, or referencing any particular verse. I must also wonder, how did the early Christians grow spiritually although they might not have had a daily quiet time as we strive to have nowadays. Some of them must have had some copies of the Torah or some of the writings of the Apostles, but I wonder if they approached them as we approach it today in our Quiet Times. Also, i must wonder how had Christians across centuries been able to grow spiritually since they did not have a personal copy of God's Word for daily reading. How did they do their quiet time? Particularly when in many communities the only person to have a Bible was the Priest and even that copy was in a language that was unknown to the common man. I have a sensing that we often believe that Spiritual Growth and Spiritual Formation was the same throughout history as it is now. Claiming that would certainly be absurd, but we do it so often anyways.

The TRUE Ultimate Merger

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most beloved sources of live entertainment in America. Each year, club owners come together prior to the season to decide what new talent will be signed for the upcoming season. After deliberations, they offer future stars a generous amount of money to become they franchise player. If the player chooses to accept and sign the contract, he is owned by that club. However, mid-way through the season, if the general manager decides to give up on his property, he can ship him off for the next player in line.

On November 23, 2011, the NBA conducted their annual trading day. One of the most anticipated trades involved Denver Nuggets own, Carmelo Anthony. Although he was listed as a free agent on the 2011 list, Anthony was traded to the Knicks. In class, we dialoged about whether a Christian can be possessed or oppressed by the devil or demonic spirits. According to Neil Anderson, author of The Bondage Breaker, he believes that being controlled (oppressed) by demons is real. However, in his writings he reminds us that God paid the ultimate price by sending His only son to die on the cross for our sins. Due to Jesus’s death, we are ALL rightfully own by Him. Therefore, it is impossible for a child of God to be possessed by anyone besides their owner; simply because possession indicates ownership.

Could Carmelo Anthony have been trade against his will? That is possible. It is possible to be oppressed by evil spirits? Absolutely. As a Christian, I believe in spirits. The spirit of God that dwells inside of us is just as real as evil spirits that try to control us; real, but not true. Essential keys to keep in mind are the bold words aforementioned. In order for a demon spirit to possess an individual, he must choose to believe a lie such as self-inadequacy. Once they accept, they are simultaneously signing the rights over to that demonic force. However, one must remember that God will never give up on you, which means he will never give up his ownership for you to be traded.

Meditation...Christian or not

The following link is a 4-minute video that guides the listeners through a mindfulness exercise. (click here for access). The concept of mindfulness is derived from Buddhist tradition and considered an important means towards enlightenment. The video and the information in the video itself doesn't seem to contain any indication of any particular religious practice nor the invocation of any supernatural powers or other deities. It seems that it represents a valid and even helpful spiritual exercise. More precisely, there are different mental health professionals who find it to be useful in some of their interventions with the clients.

In our class we discussed the aspect of spirituality as related to Christianity and other faiths or religions. One interesting point of discussion was whether believers from other religions can be more spiritual than Christians. Related to that discussed that other individuals, who do not belong to the Christian tradition can have the ability to interact with the spiritual world, in some aspects even better than some believers, but still not know the truth and be in spiritual blindness.

Meditation seems to be an important aspect of cultivating a meaningful spiritual life, or increasing spiritual awareness. As we read through Psalms we often encounter exhortations from the Psalmists to meditate upon God's precepts, law, glory, character. Overall, there seems to be a large group of Christians that would agree that meditation is important in one's spiritual journey. However, when it comes to defining how should we meditate, what would that look like and what are we to do. There is little prescriptive or detailed information in the Bible that Christians can refer to. So what should one do? Would it be adequate for a Christian believer interested in meditation to employ methods of meditation used in other religions in order to grow spiritually? More precisely, would there be any benefits that a Christian could derive from observing a spiritual discipline such as meditation practiced by a person from a different religion? Many questions that don't have an easy answer. Personally I have been guilty in the past for dismissing issues like that too quickly. I believe it is worth exploring what can be learned from an exercise like the one presented in this video and wrestle with the question if there might be some of principles from the video that could be applied in Christian Spiritual Formation.

Soul and Spirit in Scripture

This article explains the soul and the spirit using the Scripture: Old Testament and New Testament. I’ve not understood this matter during the discussion in the class session this week; I was confused about what is difference between the soul and the spirit. When I was searched for difference between the soul and the spirit, I found something effective answer.
Although I didn’t have all of these matters, I found some difference between them. The word “soul” contains both the immaterial and material characteristics while the word “spirit” contains only immaterial characteristic. The word “soul” means life basically. Human being has both the soul and spirit. However, the word “spirit” is an element that makes close relationship with God. In the Luke 8:55, spirit is that makes the human being a living person.
The word “soul” refers similar meaning, when it contains meaning as spiritual life. The word “soul” is used in relationship with the human being and world horizontally. However, the word “spirit” is used as the human being and God vertical relationship.

The Full Term

In 1789, the United States of America appointed George Washington as our first president. Since his election, there have been 43 other men who have carried on the legacy that was started. Every four years, our country listens as several noteworthy candidates attempt to give their best campaign as to why they should be elected the next Commander-in-chief. Their ultimate goal is to reach presidency and be the advocate for our country. However, along with the title come critical issues such as threats of war; fear of rescission; national budget decisions; political party division; and even unemployment. The president has the responsibility of facing these difficult issues and making wise decisions on behalf of our country.

In Neil Andersons, The Bondage Breaker, he presents six foundational guidelines that play a vital role in staying free from the enemy’s attack. My desire is to explore the second guideline on the list which is “Picking up the cross daily”. When we made that bold decision to accept Christ into our lives, we made a statement that said we are following Him. According to Anderson, we are not picking up our own cross, but rather the cross of Christ. We are acknowledging that each day we belong to Christ and we are advocating for the enhancement of God’s kingdom.

As an advocate for Christ, I am aware of the trials that I will encounter. I understand that when we accept a position in His army that the battle will be tough. Forty-four presidents have been in control of this country because God saw fit for each of them to be elected. Furthermore, each president that has served has made a vowel or a commitment to take on the challenges of the country each day. Although they become tired and weary, and (most, if not all) have acquired a head full of gray hair due to the role they have accepted. As Christian counselors we must remind ourselves, as well as our clients that picking up the cross is a daily task. Becoming tired and quitting makes as much sense as the President taking a leave of absence in the middle of his term. Through picking up that cross, we will preserve our relationship with Christ.

No Closer to Truth

Shawn Spencer is a psychic. Actually, that is a lie. Shawn has a photographic memory and a knack for picking up on tiny details so he helps the Santa Barbara Police department solve crimes. He was right so consistently that the police thought he might be in on the crimes and to keep from being arrested, Shawn decided the psychic story was a pretty convenient option. Sounds great doesn't it? Shawn is naturally skilled at solving these high profile puzzles and gets to do so alongside his best friend Gus and a cute detective named Juliet. But Shawn has a problem. Although he would like to date Juliet, he is hesitant because she would find out that he was lying about being a psychic.

In class we discussed the possibility that "Everything that is real is not necessarily true". In this case, Shawn Spencer really does solve cases, but he lies about his methods. The police department doesn't understand how Shawn solves the cases, but they are more interested in catching their villian than discovering the truth about Shawn Spencer. In the area of counseling, people come up with real solutions, but fail to lead their clients any closer to truth. Many clients simply want to feel better about themselves and there are many ways to reach that goal, at least temporarily. Find the "villian" in their life that is making them uncomfortable, be it grief, anxiety, or a rocky marriage, and alieviate the client's suffering. While the client and counselor may sucessfully accomplish their stated goals, their efforts are ultimately wasted if the client does not come to the truth that most of all, he needs a restored relationship with God.

In 1789, the United States of America appointed George Washington as our first president. Since his election, there have been 43 other men who have carried on the legacy that was started. Every four years, our country listens as several noteworthy candidates attempt to give their best campaign as to why they should be elected the next Commander-in-chief. Their ultimate goal is to reach presidency and be the advocate for our country. However, along with the title come critical issues such as threats of war; fear of rescission; national budget decisions; political party division; and even unemployment.   The president has the responsibility of facing these difficult issues and making wise decisions on behalf of our country.


In Neil Andersons, The Bondage Breaker, he presents six foundational guidelines that play a vital role in staying free from the enemy’s attack. My desire is to explore the second guideline on the list which is “Picking up the cross daily”. When we made that bold decision to accept Christ into our lives, we made a statement that said we are following Him. According to Anderson, we are not picking up our own cross, but rather the cross of Christ. We are acknowledging that each day we belong to Christ and we are advocating for the enhancement  of God’s kingdom.


As an advocate for Christ, I am aware of the trials that I will encounter. I understand that when we accept a position in His army that the battle will be tough. Forty-four presidents have been in control of this country because God saw fit for each of them to be elected. Furthermore, each president that has served has made a vowel or a commitment to take on the challenges of the country each day. Although they become tired and weary, and (most, if not all) have acquired a head full of gray hair due to the role they have accepted. As Christian counselors we must remind ourselves, as well as our clients that picking up the cross is a daily task. Becoming tired and quitting makes as much sense as the President taking a leave of absence in the middle of his term. Through picking up that cross, we will preserve our relationship with Christ.


Mind, Heart, and Conscience

The article I read is Mind, Heart, and Conscience written by T.M. Moore. He talks about best sound doctrine that our understanding of minds and hearts are engaged together. People’s feeling and desire is to get a proper faith of human lives. The three components: mind, heart, and conscience are part of soul doctrine of efforts to learn and teach.
Conscience is the immaterial component that grows one’s value, priorities, and default choices. Conscience is the will when people thinking. To gather up the minds and hearts bring a harmonious and truthful way. Love is an issue to learn from minds and hearts. In Acts 24:16, Paul describes a “good” conscience, one that pleases God and serves men. This Scripture talks about the Christian faith for our mind and thinking of God. Our conscience is an action that we seek to have good shape for glorify God. Then how to get good conscience? We need to obey the Law of God. This law can keep our values and priorities into proper order before God. Our Action is learning priorities and choice for the will. We will learn the values, priorities, and convictions through more action of our wills.
I think the mind, body, and spirit works together in our lives. The mind, heart, and conscience are working each other through our values and thoughts. Conscience is our wills to choose by our action before God.

Psychic Science

Earlier this week I was walking to my car in the WalMart parking lot and noticed a business card stuck on my window. The card was for a local psychic who specializes in palm readings and predicting the future. Later that day an article in The New York Times about extra sensory perception (ESP) caught my attention. It states that The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a highly respected peer reviewed journal will soon be printing an issue that includes an article on ESP that claims to have evidence that ESP exists. Understandably there has been outrage among some psychologists that the journal has found this article worthy of publishing. At first I was shocked that a reputable journal would publish an article on ESP since it is most widely viewed as a pseudoscience. I am concerned that after this article is published people will assume that ESP is legitimate since it is now "supported by science." I hope that those who read the article will think critically about the methods used and the conclusions made about the study's findings. After all, even if ESP does exist it does not necessarily lead us to a better way of life. Just like what we have been discussing in class, "everything that is real is not necessarily true."

No, Mr. President!

This is a video that John Piper made from Desiring God.
This video is in response to Obama's comment on the anniversary of Roe V. Wade. John Piper does a brilliant job of discussing the issues of what abortion does. Piper starts out by saying that God made a magnificent thing when he made man and in His image. We are pictures of the glory of God and the human life is an incredible gift. He then goes on to respectfully disagree with the President's statement on women having the freedom to do what is best for their families. Piper shows how this is not freedom but is a detriment to human life.
In class we have discussed what makes a human life important. We have also been discussing the soul of a person. This video on abortion shows that our world does not take into account a person or a person's soul. The world does not care that we are made in the image of God and that he has created us for his glory.