Friday, September 30, 2011

How to make people feel shame, I mean Change

In class I was required to read, "How to Help People Change," by Dr. Jay Adams, the father of Nouthetic counseling. In his book, Dr. Adams lays down the foundation of what he believes is Biblical counseling. According to Adams, Biblical counseling is built on 4 things, teaching, conviction, correction, and disciplined training in righteousness.

While I deeply value and respect Dr. Adams' opinion I have to respectfully disagree with what he considers to be counseling. His method looks a lot more like discipleship than it does counseling, which is completely fine. When I work with a new believer, I think having read Jay Adams' work will greatly benefit my ability to help him understand what it means to be a Christian, but when it comes to having to deal with issues from before the new believer came to Christ, and other such emotional issues, I believe this method is completely wrong.

Adams' book teaches a counseling method that if ineffective in the life of the client, will most definitely make the client feel shame for not being able to overcome his or her bondage. This is not what a counselor does. A counselor according to the greek word for counselor is Parakletos, which defined means helper, comforter, consoler, exhorter, and encourager. These aspects of counseling are completely absent from Adams' counseling model.

How helpful is it to tell a lonely person that the reason they are feeling lonely is because of an unconfessed sin, or an incorrect view of God in a certain situation? It isn't. When you tell somebody that they need to pray more, and that doesn't work, what then? This method sounds really good, and is worded in such a way that it makes you think about using it, but in all actuality it is so far from helpful that it almost disgusts me. Who am I to add shame on top of somebody's depression or loneliness?

I think Adams' counseling method would be great if sin were non-existant, but seeing as sin is the source of psychological disfunction, it would be useless then. This world is fallen, and while I agree that no change is possible without God's intervention, I believe that he can use whatever methods necessary to facilitate that change, and those methods do not include making a person feel shame when they have worked as hard as they can, and they still struggle with a certain temptation. Thank you, and Good night

In all honesty, I have trouble not lumping exorcists and those who talk freely about demon possession with the crazies and conspiracy theorists. After reading Anderson, I am still not convinced of the claims but it has piqued my interest. In doing some research, I stumbled across a blog on CNN that interviewed the inspiration for the exorcism themed movie, "The Rite." In the interview, the Priest, Father Gary Thomas, answers the writer's questions with such confidence that the writer actually backs off of the doubtful questioning. Father Thomas has been doing exorcisms for quite some time and states that the movie accurately portrays the encounters. While I have not seen the movie, I have assumed that, based on the pictures, the exorcisms are quite dramatic and intense. Pastor Thomas does not take his job lightly as he qualifies his clients beforehand to ensure it is not simply a psychological disorder. He was aware of the connotation his job had and the impact the idea and on the church. My favorite quote from the article is when Father Thomas explains what exorcism really is. He explains "It's a healing ministry. It's not hocus pocus. It's not smoke and mirrors. It's not magic. But I think if we don't respond to people who come in their very troubling moments, I think it diminishes us as a church."

In the book "Bondage Breaker" by Neil Anderson, we are introduced to and instructed on the problem of demonic activity in our lives. Dr. Anderson details how many of our problems in life are the result of demonic activity and it is up to us to take authority in Christ and seek freedom. Dr. Anderson relates many stories about casting demons out and describes the method most likely shown in the movie as a power struggle. However, this is where the similarities diverge. While both Anderson and Thomas agree that the demon cannot be left there, Dr. Anderson would prefer to avoid the typical power struggle to allow the client to be consciously aware of the process to freedom and accomplish it on their own. Both authors agree that a power struggle may leave the client unconscious and when they come to, they are unaware the event occurred. When the client does not take part in the process, both men agree that it could take multiple events to cast out the demon if the power struggle does take place. However, Anderson finds that if the counselee is a part of the process, they are far more likely to experience long-term freedom. It is interesting to note that both men agree on the source, results, and necessity of calling out demons even though they come from distant representations of the same religion. It also gives weight to their claims that while they do not agree on the basics of Christianity, they do agree on the existence of the spiritual battle and our need of the Authority of Christ to make headway in this fight.

This article and book have helped me to demystify the "hocus pocus" surrounding the spiritual battle we all face. It is encouraging to me that two distinct camps would meet on so many different and crucial ideas. I feel slightly crazy trying to justify the "pea soup shooting and neck spinning" image of the battle but the truth discussed by these two authors was a great place to stake the foundation of my understanding. It was a relief to find out that the image is untrue and we do not need to put stock in such claims. The downside is, if I had that image of an aspect of Christianity, what do others see and think? It is a black stain on the face of Christianity and it needs to be corrected. When the world misunderstands the truth and sees the Hollywood version as an accurate representation of what we believe, we lose ground in their minds. They already write us off as loons and we have to fight that much harder to get through. We must seek to explain what we really believe and show the world the truth that we are in a life and death battle for their eternal souls, and without Christ the house, or demons, will always win. Two warnings that I would leave you all with is to find the balance in your interest of the spiritual battle, and to recognize that we are victorious in Christ. C.S. Lewis once said “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." If we begin to blame the demons for everything, they win, but if we ignore their presence, they win. We must remember that our victory is in Christ and no matter what they do, they have already been conquered. We can call on our authority in Christ and put them in their place. One thing I’ve noticed is that I immediately think of demonic influence when someone describes a debilitating disease and this is not necessarily true. It is irresponsible and untrue to jump to this conclusion but just as irresponsible to write it off completely. So I urge you to “ Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

26 year old Rezwan Ferdaus from Massachusetts decided to use his physics degree to make a controlled airplane strapped with C-4 a flying bomb to target the Pentagon. Rezwan said that he was redicallzed by watching videos on the internet but authority say there appears to be no connects to terrorists organizations.
Thankfully this man did not succeed in his mission because he was involved in a two year sting operation with the FBI, which had given him the C-4.

The young man is a US citizen and was never suspected by family and friends of being capable to become a terrorist. This man changed his attitude so quickly about his country for neutral to hatred. Was his mind changed by a simple video on the internet? This story reminds me of a chapter in Living By The Book, how we can misinterpret and often create a whole scenario in our minds that was never intend by a publisher of a book (the Bible), or an internet video. Maybe the internet video that the man watched was intended to stir hatred and bring about a physical changed in the world, or it might have been misconstrued, whatever the cause each person must be very careful of the messages we receive each day and how to interpret them. We are bombarded each day with mixed message and must learn how to be decisive how we let things effect our lives and outcomes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Counselor Expectations: Is Change Truly Possible?

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has received much criticism in recent months regarding the practices espoused by the Christian counseling business she and her husband own.  Former clients have testified that counselors at Bachmann & Associates support the practice of reparative therapy, a type of therapy which attempts to change the behavior and attraction of clients practicing gay lifestyles.  While Bachmann's husband would not comment on any specific techniques used for individual clients through the counseling agency, he has stated his personal belief that homosexual practices can be changed. 

Although a simple observation, it is worthwhile to note that the counselors employed through Bachmann & Associates expect change in the lives of their clients.  Regardless of the issue at hand, in this case homosexuality, the topic of the counselor's expectations for client change is a critical and relevant area for counselors today to address.  In his controversial book, How to Help People Change: The Four-Step Biblical Process, Jay Adams discusses the crucial nature of the counselor's expectations regarding client progress.

According to Adams, before authentic change can take place in the life of the client, the client must believe that change is truly possible.  And before the client can believe in the possibility of genuine change, the counselor must impart to the client a belief in his or her capacity to change. Without this crucial element, change will never take place, and effective counseling cannot occur.  In fact, Adams states that without a biblically-based belief in the possibility of change, a counselor would do well to find a new vocation. 

After reading Adams' book, I'm left wondering, "How much do I truly believe that change is possible, whatever the situation?" If I actually believed in God's power to change any life, wouldn't that significantly impact the way I interact with others? I know that it would. So doubts I harbor, I must cast at the feet of the One who is truly able to change lives. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bicentennial Man- What makes a person a person?

Bicentennial Man is a movie starring Robin Williams about an android's journey to personhood. The name of this android is Andrew. Andrew lives many years as an android, but it is discovered that his artificial intelligence is a bit different than the rest of the androids. He thinks differently, he feels differently. He has the capacity for human emotions, which according to the creators of the android, is a defect. Because of his capacity for human emotions and human intellect, he deeply desires to be considered a human in eyes of the rest of mankind. He goes through a series of tasks in order to do what he feels will enable him the right to call himself a person.

In class we have discussed what exactly makes a person a person. This conversation in class was mind boggling at first but after we discussed, I think I began to understand exactly how to have a conversation about what exactly is personhood with people that are not Christians.

Bicentennial Man gives a perspective on personhood that is similar to the perception of the world. Anything with enough intellect, and enough characteristics of personhood can be considered a person by law. The question is what line do we draw as a society? Based on the laws put in place by our government, a dolphin could have human rights, which is a little silly if you ask me.

I understand the point the movie is trying to make. The movie is trying to say that anything with sentient thought should be treated with the rights of a human being, but argue that point exhaustively. It is silly to give human rights to things that are not by birth humans. This movie portrays a picture that human rights can be earned if something demonstrates enough characteristics of personhood, which I really think is a miscarriage of what personhood is. Human rights cannot be earned, they are something u are born with.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heaven/Hell Experiences Leave Unanswered Questions

(This blog was inspired by an earlier blog post on September 15th titled "Heaven is Real")

A lady named Tamara Laroux claims that when she was a teen girl, she died, went to hell, saw heaven, and came back to life. She had been struggling with depression and attempted to commit suicide. She claims that "a voice" told her to shoot herself in the chest instead of in the head. She claims that she died and went to hell where she saw a "sea of people" who could not communicate with each other. In hell she was given perfect knowledge about every one's sins and lives. Everyone was in great agony and no one wanted any other person to experience what they were experiencing. Heaven was visible from hell and there was a known reality that people in hell would never be able to go there. She then claims that because she had cried out to God, He scooped down and took Tamara to heaven. In heaven there were many people who were talking but Tamara was "not allowed" to talk to them. Later she was placed back into her body on earth and faced a miraculous recovery from a gun wound that should have taken her life. to see her story watch the following clip.

In Dr. Corsini's class, it was said that "just because something is real, does not make it true." Although heaven and hell are real places, it does not mean that Tamara Laroux actually went there. The class has been discussing the material and immaterial aspects of the human. Some of the best evidence (outside of Scripture) for immaterial aspects of a person, is the "out of body" experiences that many people have claimed having after dying and coming back to life.
These experiences are hard for skeptics to argue with because the physical body stops working, and people are able to maintain thoughts and feelings.

I must admit that I normally take stories like Tamara's with a grain of salt. I tend to be a skeptic. The one major point that skeptics can use to argue for no immaterial person (in regards to these stories) is that every person's story about what happens when they die is different. For Tamara, she went to hell, then to a heaven where she was not allowed to talk to anyone. In a previous posting, a little boy claimed that he was able to talk to his miscarried sister and to his great grandpa. As a Christian I do believe that there is an immaterial part of a person, but I also believe that these experiences of heaven and hell may not be completely real. One possible explanation that I can think of is that these people somehow experienced a type of dream. Throughout Scripture God uses dreams to reveal important things to people. (it is first recorded in Genesis when God reveals information to Abimelech in a dream, and ends in Matthew where God warns Joseph about things in a dream) Is it possible that what Tamala experienced was a God-given dream? This begs another question. Can dreams be part of the immaterial person, and not just part of material thoughts? These are the questions that Tamala's story left me asking.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mad Men and the “Art” of Change

Recently my housemates and I were introduced to a show called "Mad Men" . The show revolves around the lives of certain men and women working at Sterling Cooper, a Madison Avenue Advertising Company, in 1960's New York. Amongst all the charaters, the show particularly focuses on the life of Don Draper, Partner and Creative Director for Sterling Cooper.
Don's life revolves around work, his wife Betty, his children, and his mistresses. This character, played by actor Jon Hamm, has an intriguing and warped view on life, which he sometimes tends to persuade others to follow. Here is a small clip to give you an insight into the life of this 'Mad Man':

This week I began reading Jay Adams’ book “How to Help People Change”, and although I have not gotten too far into the reading, I could not be anything but overwhelmed on the book’s focus on the importance of an inward change. Adams’ states within the introduction that a Christian counselor’s view of change “(…)goes far beyond minimal or incidental modifications in a person’s behavior. The superficial change offered by secular counselors will not do. Substantial change requires the Holy Spirit’s alteration of the heart (one’s inner life known only to God and oneself).”

As I began reading, I thought about two instances in the show were change in a person is approached by two different people, from two different perspectives. Within the show, Don is put in the situation of advising his secretary, Peggy, on a personal matter. She had recently gotten pregnant out of wedlock and had given her baby away, with no desire whatsoever to keep him. His perspective on “change” is much more about the surface and does not involve actual change, but more of a - avoid the issue and move forward pretending all is ok - type of change.

"It'll shock you how much it never happened..." - Don Draper

From a Christian perspective, this type of “advice” about change is incorrect and Jay Adam’s states that “external changes that do not follow an internal change of heart toward God always move a person further away from the Lord.” Our purpose in Christian counseling is to produce lasting change, that will not only change the person’s outside life, but that will also change their inner spiritual life, and thus bring them closer to God , a closer relationship with Him and a deeper understanding of who He is. This type of change is also expressed within the show to Peggy, by her priest, within the first minute of the following clip:

Peggy and the Priest

The priest tries to make Peggy see what her problem is, and tries to make her understand her need for communion with God and others, as well as her need for confession of sin and acceptance of God’s love and forgiveness. From the very beginning and within chapter 4 of the book, Adams’ points out the fact that all counseling reduces to the two main commandments: love God and love others. He also states that “human relationships are a three-way, not a two-way affair. That means that biblically acceptable change takes into consideration one’s relationship to both God and man.”

I believe that within our society today, many people are yearning to produce lasting change in their lives, but find themselves listening to wrong teachings that put them further away from true change that can only occur through the principles set out by God in His word. Thus it is our responsibility as Christian counselors to bring about this change into this mad world.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In her book, Laughing in the Dark, Christian comedian Chonda Pierce recalls her experience with depression. In 2004 Pierce was diagnosed with clinical depression and was admitted into a clinic for two months. She described this time as a humbling experience in which she had to honestly confront her emotions in group therapy, learn proper self-care (regulating sleep patterns and work schedules), and where she had to learn deeper levels of trust with God. Also, during this experience Pierce’s faith was examined as she was faced with questions such as “Am I truly relying on God if I am taking medication such as anti-depressants?” She finally came to the conclusion that medication was one of the ways in which God could bring about His healing in her life. Pierce is once again doing comedy and shares her testimony wherever she goes.

In class, we recently finished reading the book The Bondage Breaker. In this book Neil Anderson talks about how one can overcome negative thoughts, irrational feelings, and habitual sin. In one of the last chapters in his book he lays out “Steps to Freedom in Christ.” This plan takes a person through 7 steps of freedom, listing out various negative acts or thoughts that one should renounce and then has them claim biblical truth. The purpose of this is to bring freedom from bondage.

After watching some of Chonda Pierce’s videos the other night about her story with depression, I thought of Anderson. I wondered if Anderson would have seen the solution to Pierce’s problem as simple as going through the 7 steps to freedom in Christ. Rightly so, Christians should believe and trust God for their healing, but can all healing come about by renouncing sin? I have personally encountered several Christians who see every issue as being able to be solved with an appropriate Scripture verse and several steps to freedom. I guess my question is, “Is it always that simple?”

I understand that people argue for biblical sufficiency within counseling, and as mentioned before I am for integrating my faith. However, there are times as Chonda Pierce mentioned where, as Christians, you do not need another Scripture verse or another plan of how to be set free; for her she allowed God to heal her through different means such as: honesty, time, and medication. Therefore, in answer to my own question, I don’t think solutions are simple. Each situation requires knowing the individual person and their situation, and treating them in a holistic manner- attending to their mind, soul, body, and spirit.

Watch Chonda Pierce's interview with CBN about her experience here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Theological influence in an unintentional way or misusing your influence as a professional in Theology?

              It’s never pleasant to hear of a great leader having accusations about their teaching methods and theological approach of being so drastic that they are assumed to be hiding crimes. Of course anything that may lead to sin starts with temptation. The author of The Bondage Breaker would put it this way, a world under demonic influence keeps you from reaching your goals like a pimp would who manipulates for sexual sins. Thank God that our advocate in heaven will hear a sincere cry and give us a chance to change. 1 John 2:1 tells believers what they should do if they sin. It also lets us know that God cares and that he wants us to live a life free of sin. Romans 6:12 lets believers know that sin is very real.
              Everything a believer is comes by God’s grace. It is important for a believer to be well aware of demonic influence through discernment. This article clearly connects the relationship such a power driven and conquering theological approach can have on the influences of people. Apparently this bishop’s congregation feels they deserve to know the truth about the criminal charges about sexual relationships with young boys. This article also talks about how the truth of the accusations will clear up doubts about what the money was actually supporting in the bishop’s ministry. A believer that knows God’s character stands firm on biblical truths, but also constantly confesses sin and trusts the power of God to keep them from habitual sin.



Friday, September 16, 2011

The Illumanati Present in The Music Industry

The Illumanati (plural of the Latin word illumanatus which transalates enlightened) can be traced back to the sun and the isis cults of ancient Egypt, a Spanish Bavarian society founded in 1776, and to freemasonry. Members of these societies claim to have spiritual enlightenment. There members take part in ocultic rituals, make blood oaths to be killed if they ever reveal the existence of the society, and sell their souls to the devil.

Before continuing please view the following clips:

Evil in the music industry

When insiders expose the dark side

Illumanati rebellion: It will cost you your life

These clips highlight the existence of the illumanati in the music industry and how fame is acheived by selling your soul to the devil. These music artiste make a bargain with the "cheif commander ....who live lives on this earth and in the world we can't see." (Dave Dylon on an iterview)

Artiste often take on alter egos as a symbolic representation of being taken over by demons to obtain success. Britney Spears' alter ego, Mona Lisa, was acquired in 2004 just after she was inducted into Illumanati.

More recently, Beyonce acquired the alter ego, Sascha Fierce, skyrocketing her success in the music industry.

In 2006 Britney Spears began singing about her rebellion,"to find the truth" as she put it, from the Illumanati and warned about their techniques used to "deceive" and the selling of souls. Since then Britney has gone through what many would explain as psychological melt downs. She often talked about being tired of her handlers - mind controlling spiritual forces. Britney's life and career took a nose dive after trying to break free from her spiritual bondage - Illumanati.

The book by Neil Anderson entitled The Bondage Breaker shed light on the reality that demons are active on the earth today just as the were when Jesus was on earth. He cites the New Testement, Ephesians 6:12, to emphasize that believers will wrestle "against the rulers, against the powere, against the forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Anderson goes on to bolster his stance and posits that the new age course is the same as the old age spiritualsm in the old testement with new terms. Looking at the aformentioned clips, it is plain to see that the new age form of spiritual darkness is very present in this world. The change in terms that Anderson has pointed out is also reflected in the words 'handler' and 'cheif commander.'

Prior to Jesus dying on the cross, divinely empowered agents such as Jesus himself and his appointed apostles, were necessary to take authority over demonic powers in the world. Jesus dying on the cross and resurecting changed the nature of spirtitual conflicts for ever. His death and resurection triumphed over and disarmed the rulers and authorities of the kingdom of darkness. See Colossians 2:15, Matthew 28:18, and Ephesians 2:5,6 for futher affirmation of the truth of Christ's victory and satan's defeat.

Anderson notes that it is truth that will help you to sucessfully stand against the enemy's attempt to intimidate you. People are in bondage to the lies they believe(pg 11). Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32). Britney had the right idea about looking for truth to break free from her spiritual bondage. The problem is she was not liiking in the right place or more importantly, to the right peron - Jesus Christ, to find that truth. She relied on herself to find the truth and to break free. Self-sufficiency is the number one damn that is holding back the rivers of revival (pg 38). The enemy is a destroyer. As Britney sought the truth, he set out to destroy and kill her so that she would not find the truth that would set her free.

Britney's perceived psychological mental illness was a spiritual battle for her mind. Becuse the western worlview has conditioned many to look for every possible physical and psychological explanations, it is understandable that in Britney's case, most people saw her actions as a psychological problem, labeling her as having depression and dissociative personality disorder.

Because these artiste sold their souls for gain in the lower life (this life and not eternity), they are damned to lose their lives if they do not find the truth which is in Christ Jesus. "Shoot for this world and that's all you'll get, and eventually lose even that. But shoot for the next world, and God will throw in the benefits of knowing him now" (pg 41). Knowing God and His truth is the only thing that will set captives free.

For more information on the Illumanati in the music industry click on the link.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Heaven is Real

Heaven is for Real is a true story about a boy named Colton who had to have emergency surgery. Colton was four years old at the time of his surgery. During his surgery, while unconscious, he entered into Heaven. He survived the life-threatening surgery and later told about some of what he saw while in Heaven, how he was able to look down and see the doctors as they performed the surgery, as well as how he watched his Dad pray in the waiting room during his surgery. Initially his family was unclear about what to believe. But as Colton began to share about meeting his miscarried sister (whom he had never been told about), and details about his great-grandfather (who had died 30 years before Colton was born), they soon realized that Colton's experiences were very real. Heaven is for Real is told by Todd Burpo, Colton's father, but is often in Colton's own words.

Recently in class we discussed the "material" and "immaterial" parts of a person. Dr. Corsini shared stories about "cooberating evidence" and how research has shown the validity of deathbed experiences in which people were pronounced dead, or flat-lined, but were revived and later shared details about their out-of-body experiences. During these experiences they were very aware of their surroundings and were often also aware of remote events.

To me, from a purely rational or logical perspective, Colton's experience, as well as similar experiences of others, is difficult to fully comprehend. But as a Christian that believes that a person consists of a material part as well as an immaterial part, and that Heaven is indeed a very real place, I find these stories extremely fascinating and incredibly exciting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Does It Mean To Be Courageous?

There is going to be an exciting new movie called Courageous released at the end of this month, September 30th to be exact. It is the latest in a string of pictures from Sherwood Pictures. Here is the trailer and related information. You may remember their last production, Fireproof. As a men's leader in my church, I was privy to an advance showing of Courageous a couple of months ago. This movie revolves around four police officers and a good friend. They are each dealing with the struggles, realities, and lasting impact of fatherhood. The movie not only delves into each man's unique situation, but dramatically brings out some strengths and weaknesses maybe not initially evident in the characters. The picture has much to offer the interested movie-goer. Action, humor, drama, and a few twists you probably won't see coming, are all evident. But most importantly, the movie addresses some critical topics for today's society and even goes on to present some of God's principles for success.

Many of the issues portrayed on the big screen in Courageous have been addressed in the material from our class, most specifically in the book Hurt People Hurt People by Dr. Sandra Wilson. On page 180 she brings up the idea of the "Father Wounds and Spiritual Confusion." She presents the theory that we tend to view God as we saw our father, for good or bad. For example, if you didn't have a very healthy father figure in your life, referring to God as a "loving Father" could be an oxymoron to you. Furthermore, one of the police officers in the movie struggles with what the book would call "Binding Shame." He grew up without a father on the scene and always felt as if he didn't measure up and was worth less than everyone else. Accepting the grace God offered helped him to come to see himself as worthy, loved, and forgiven. The idea of "Securing Your Own Oxygen Mask First" is introduced on page 219 in the book. Courageous clearly displays godly men attempting to tackle this challenge by getting healthy them selves so they can be strong examples to their wives, children, and others. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I think the movie is awesome and I have a strong feeling it is going to make a big difference in many homes around this country and, hopefully, the world.

Let me simply state the fact that Courageous is just plain a fun movie to watch! As I've already shared, it had everything a good movie should have, but with more piled on top. Granted, I'm a pretty emotional guy, but I certainly wasn't the only person in the packed theater who literally went from tears to laughter and a host of other emotions in between. There are deep moments of grief that tear at your heart and others that will make your stomach hurt from laughing. And of course there is the normal dose of cops-and-robbers drama you'd reasonably expect. But on top of all that, the eternally important message of forgiveness through Christ is clearly shared and the encouragement for men to be the leaders God wants them to be is demonstrated in powerful ways. I hope I have not only shared how Courageous lines up so well with what we're learning in class, but more importantly, whetted your appetite to get together with some friends and family to go see this meaningful new release. Even this cheap guy is going to drop the twenty bucks plus to bring my wife to it on September 30th. I hope to smell the popcorn with you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Half Truths Create Great Lies

Researchers in Oxford University have found that there is a significant link between the month babies are born and their career of choice. For example, the article suggests that babies born in December are more likely to become dentists, and babies born in January tend to become debt collectors. The month of birth may have even further reaching implications than job choice alone. The month of birth could indicate a higher likelihood of certain deseases such as Autism, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease, and Asthma. The birth time could affect height, preferences of time of day, and even intelligence. The reasons behind the findings are not conclusive, but researchers are attributing these findings to the effects of the amount of sunlight that the mother is exposed to while pregnant. What this article tries to make clear is not that astrology and the Zodiac have scientific grounds. This article shows how great the number of variables are that go into making a person.

In class, Dr.Corsini discussed the importance of understanding that all things that are real may not be true. When the mentioned article is first read, one's mind cannot help but think of astrology and the Zodiac. The Zodiac is thought to have been created by the Babylonians around 500 BC, and many people still believe that aspects of their characters are rooted in their astrological sign. These findings help illustrate the realness of the Zodiac, yet at the same time, they help understand the truth of the assumptions behind the Zodiac. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "Half a truth is often a great lie", and so many times the Father of Lies will utilize the fallen nature of man's rationality with a truth that is not fully understood to create a lie.

Learning that reality can still be reality when it is devoid of truth is a good lesson to remember. This allows me as a Christian to acknowledge that I should approach differing beliefs with an understanding that they may have valid reasons to exist. There are spiritual truths that are God-given and can be used to define what is true, and there are also scientific truths that are God-given and can be used to understand the world around us. Maybe we should look differently at why a mother decides to abort a child or when a person enters into a homosexual lifestyle. Instead of looking at them through our personal "Christian glasses", we may benefit from asking, "What is real to this person?" Understanding another person's reality does not excuse the action, but certainly helps us relate to it.

I feel I must add, that while the secular scientific community would have us believe that all of reality can be explained in a naturalistic manner, the Christian does not deny that some phenomena are intrinsically evil and have no such purely scientific explanation behind them. Even if the Zodiac were debunked as a phenomena of the effects of nature on the unborn child, I would tread carefully on a topic that has emanated out of a source that dabbled so heavily in idolatry as the Babylonians.

Friday, September 9, 2011

An American Idol and Divine Revelation

CNN reports that the current trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor accused of giving Michael Jackson an overdose of the drug propofol in the vicinity of Jackson's death, has become the latest venue for Jackson fans to exhibit more than fanaticism. This short editorial gives imagery to a phenomenon of Jackson devotees traveling thousands of miles to cry for justice and vent their anger at Murray. It includes sound bites of fans, convinced that the iconic rock star was a victim of medical malpractice or malfeasance. The diversity of cultures represented by the movement was striking. Three women interviewed outside the courtroom were from Germany and had traveled there to spend the week witnessing the trial. Dr. Wendy Walsh, CNN's Human Behavior Expert, was asked to explain the movement and says, "Many of these fans are looking at Conrad Murray as the Satan who killed their Savior... this is part of their fantasy."

Their fantasy points to a natural revelation of God in the form of human conscience and human idolatry. Paul’s words in Romans acknowledge a law of human conscience when he writes,”the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them…(Romans 2:14-15, NIV)” Humanity’s natural desire for justice is innately represented in the movement of those who exhibit a form of worship of Michael Jackson the entertainer. The collective conscience of the diverse mob supports Paul’s words. It also gives evidence that humanity is compelled to desire justice and desire for things to be right that are clearly less than they were intended. This phenomenon also reveals humanity’s compulsion to worship someone with implied significance. The story offers an intersection with another truth found in Romans, Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man... (Romans 1:22-23, NIV). The mob is fighting to preserve their image of their American idol.

The natural revelation of God is found in the image of God in human beings, exhibited by their innate desire for justice and has its source in the character of God. This current event illustrates that people are made to understand that this world is not as it should be; that men were not meant to die of an overdose of medication. People naturally understand that untimely death, or death at all, is not acceptable and always an unwanted interruption. I was reminded of Solomon's words at the end of his account of his personal life experiments, performed in search of the meaning of life. After exhausting himself in the pursuit of meaning and satisfaction he came to this conclusion about this temporary life: " He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV)." What leaves us lacking and grieving in this life is meant to remind us that we are not made for this temporary existence but for an eternal home. Our inner beings desire this eternal home and we naturally know there is something seriously wrong with this fallen world.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ammunition For The Evolved Spiritual War

After class last week, my curiosity of near death experiences and their potential of proving the existence of the soul took over and got me thinking. After watching a few YouTube videos on the subject I couldn't help but wonder, why is this not more seriously being looked into. Theories such as evolution and the big bang that seek to disprove the existence of the spiritual world are given top shelf treatment in research. However, after all of the research is gathered and reviewed to disprove the need for or the existence of a god, it falls short. Even one of the most widely known atheists of our time, Richard Dawkins, cannot say with 100% certainty that there is no God in Ben Stein's documentary, Expelled.

If a belief is not proven 100% either way, then there is room for error in the conclusion. If there is error in the conclusion than another one can be looked for. So then, why not research the notion of a god or the existence of the inmaterial further? There are individuals out there who have set out to disprove the bible and the divinity and existence of Jesus and have ended up believers. According to the text, Living By The Book, this happened to a man by the name of Frank Morison. Frank and other authors like him provide beneficial talking points for the defense of a belief in God. Likewise, stories of near death experiences give credibility to the inmaterial aspect of humanity, the soul.

Topics such as these are what Christians of the 21st century need to be studying up on in addition to the bible. I am a believer that using the bible to prove your argument just does not cut it anymore. The spiritual war that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6:12 has evolved to a more complicated war for the mind or the intellect as well as the soul. Secular scientists, whether they know it or not, have drawn their battle lines and it is time for Christians to prepare their minds and hearts for the intellectually spiritual battles that are before us. What I mean is simply this, both sides (secular and non) have faith that their belief is correct, so it is our responsibility as Christians to bring intellectual ammunition to the battle front.

As a final thought I wonder to myself, what it is that secular science is so afraid of regarding spirituality. It is my speculation that the secular world fears the loss of their facade called, 'absolute freedom in thought and action.' If secular science uses all of its resources to discover the validity of the spiritual world and proves its existence, they have to then deduce why it is there. The only explanation is to turn to what we as believers in the inmaterial turn to, religion and/or philosophy. Such a notion is rapidly discarded because it carries with it the presupposition that independence, autonomy and control over our own lives is gone; and in a world that embraces solely humanistic ideals such as self-actualization and becoming a fully functioning person, this is a terrifying thought.

Today's Parent: Too Busy To Care?

Falling on Anderson Cooper's most recent "Ridiculist" was none other than Kate Gosselin. Most people know her as the recently divorced mom of 8 children from TLC's Jon and Kate Plus 8. While mainly her love life, workouts, dancing with the stars stint, and hair style has kept her in the media, she lands on Cooper's list for her latest outburst. On her most recent episode of "Kate plus 8" she is seen having a major meltdown over a slice of pizza. Kate took her caravan of children, bodyguards, and babysitter on a road trip this past week, and while on a particular food stop the mom of 8 begins "throwing a fit" over who gets the last slice of pizza. Not only does she make a very public scene about her daughter touching the pizza, she is also seen berating the babysitter for letting this happen. The video below is a clip of her meltdown. This not the first time Kate has been in the hot seat over her behavior, since her divorce in 2009 Kate's dedication/ borderline obsession to her body and carrear have been a focus in the media. With her current show Kate plus 8 ending a current article in People magazine has Kate asking "Will my family be OK"? She states in the article that she worries because she has never quit one job before having another one lined up.

The current obsession in our society is to be the best, and being the best comes with a hefty price tag. More and more people are leaving the 8 hour work day behind for 10 to 13 hour days, while others are taking on 2 to 3 side jobs just to make ends meet. When you add the extended work days to an already full schedule you get a new type of parent that seems to be emerging in our society "the workaholic". Kate is a prime example of this parent, simply goggling her will show you a long laundry list of her work endevors, as well as her obsessions with her body and hair style. While this type of parent may look like they have the family's best interest at heart, Dr. Sandra Wilson begs to differ in her Book Hurt People, Hurt People.

In her book Hurt People, Hurt People Dr. Sandra Wilson identifies a type of childhood hurt not caused by any physical force, she calls it hands off hurt and it is caused by the unprepared and the unavailable. Dr. Wilson states that even parents with the best of intentions inflict hurt on their children by being unavailable and unprepared. Unavailable parents do not always stem from single parent homes. They are simply identified as those who are too wrapped up in their own life and its problems to make time or even notice the good, bad, and ugly of their children. Dr Wilson says that the unavoidable parent creates an "Emotional Orphan". Dr. Wilson also says that hands off hurt comes from parents with poor priorities. This type of parent is pretty much one in the same as the unavailable parent. The main difference being that a parent with poor priorities treats their child as if they are inconvenient , a waste of their precious time. This type of parent quickly glosses over the child and their needs to move onto more important tasks ( ie work, working out, social events etc). An example of this behavior can be seen in the video when Kate is more worried about her body gurad getting his slice of pizza than her own children eating. She misses a very big moment from one of her children, who graciously gives up her slice of pizza to eat a salad, so that her mom will stop yelling and the body guard can have pizza. According to Dr. Wilson the end result is a child who believes that their needs are not important , and that something must be wrong with their needs. Eventually leading into adulthood, this person is left viewing themselves as unworthy of anyone's care, and unimportant.

If the end result is a future society filled with people feeling unworthy, why do we subject our children to this kind of hurt? Is getting to the top, and being the most successful at our jobs worth the future hurt on our children? After reading this chapter in the book and seeing it played out all over the media, I took a step back and reevaluated my own work ethic. Did it come from my very competitive and hard working parents, or is it something ive observed while growing up this society. During my childhood, both of my parents worked; my mom from our home , my dad from an office, and on top of that we had a 16 acre farm to tend at night. Both were very loving parents, and 90% of the time they were always available to me there were those days when I came second to the chores and to work. I think that it is easy to loose focus on the important things in life when the stress of the world is piled on. While I never fully experienced true unavability from my parents, I can see how it will quickly eat at a child's confidence and self esteem. So how do we stop this trend from continuing into the future, it takes a daily effort to stop and look at your priorities. One example of how to build a better family bond is to take a little time each night for family. You can read the bible together, do a bible study, just simply eat dinner together and listen to each other , even if this means missing that oh so important business call. Even though I am still a student and don't have a family of my own yet, I can still take time each night to prioritize, which means getting into the Word of God, and making time to call my loved ones. The earlier we start to practice this the better we will become at it in the long run. In all honesty its really not about what accomplish here on Earth its about what good we've done for the Lord that will follow us into Heaven.

Posted by Stefanie Ray

Monday, September 5, 2011

Process: The Cost of Change

According to The New York Times Bestseller List, the current #1 title in the category of Advice and Miscellaneous books is The 17 Day Diet. Other popular titles include The 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Workweek. In a culture moving progressively faster, quick fixes and easy solutions are commonplace.

Such promises for rapid change and swift success are not limited to the area of diet and workout plans alone. Self-help books make similar guarantees, as seen in numerous titles such as Dr. Kevin Leman's Have a New Kid by Friday. We live in a society saturated by rapid change, and even our approaches to therapy and personal growth are affected. Dr. Sandra Wilson identifies this aversion to the long-term commitment to change as one of the most dangerous hindrances to true personal growth.

 In her book Hurt People Hurt People, Dr. Wilson states that authentic change must involve two elements: new choices and consistent practice. While the idea of making new decisions may sound exciting, the concept of change as a continuous process over time is often daunting. Especially within the Christian community, believers would rather God miraculously heal any hurts and instantly change any imperfections without the difficult work of slowly developing in new ways over time. However, true change must involve a slow and often difficult process of growth over time.

So how do we accept this idea of process and begin to practice it in our own lives? I personally believe that this can only be accomplished through a continual reliance on the grace and strength of God, acknowledging that He is continually at work within us. And as we journey together and begin to walk in new ways, let us encourage those around us to commit to the long and often-slow process of true change instead of settling for unhealthy alternatives.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Antwone Fisher

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Antwone's amazing courage to face his extremely painful past, and his willingness to let it go and allow healing to take place is very inspirational and can help provide hope for anyone with similar unresolved issues.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Breaking the Cycle

The story of Antwone Fisher is an incredible story of profound pain and significant triumph. The movie tells the true story of a young boy who was neglected by his mother, abused by his foster family, and struggling to find a sense of worth his this world.

Like so many, Antwone had become a victim of another person's hurt. I think Dr. Wilson puts it well in her book Hurt People Hurt People. Throughout the chapters of this book, Dr. Wilson describes the pain that hurting people can cause others. Though in the movie we never hear about Antwone's foster mother's story, there is no doubt that the physical and emotion abuse she inflicted stemmed from a much deeper wound in her soul. Because of her hurt and her wound, Antwone became a victim of the hurt people hurting people cycle. As he gets older, Antwone gets caught up in this cycle and begins hurting others through violence.
Below is a clip from the movie where Antwone and his psychiatrist read a poem written by Antwone. What I love about this clip is that the words of the poem really capture his emotions, because even though Antwone is now an adult, inside he still feels like that little boy: lost, alone, unwanted.

Antwone's story,unfortunately, is not some fabricated Hollywood story. There are hundreds of thousands of people that suffer at the hands of wounded people. Dr. Wilson shares countless stories of children who suffer at the hands of their parents, neighbors, family members, or family friends. This world is full of hurting, wounded, hopeless people and unfortunately, there is little hope that this issue will disappear any time soon. However, there is hope. As seen in the story of Antwone Fisher, the cycle can be broken. My hope is that through stories like Antwone's and through the power found through Christ we can begin to find hope that not only can past wounds be healed, but by breaking the cycle, future wounds may be prevented as well.