Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wounded in Church and People in Need

Hurt By the Church ...

Here we read about a prevalent need that many are desperately wanting help for. What is written here is an attempt to answer those who have been hurt and burned out by the church, but long to heal, letting go of the devastatingly negative thoughts church has pushed on them and coming back to finding a family in Christ. Although statistics reveal this, most of us know by experience that too many times people are hurt within the church. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I have observed different types of people, both those who serve in church, and those who walk in the doors. I have felt and seen how the easiest people to get hurt by, angry at, and the hardest people to forgive can be Christians. The enemy is using every tactic in the world to turn people against the security and truth of God as well as turn Christians against themselves through believed lies and through judgmental spirits. It is so important to remember that the church itself is not the problem, but is intended to be a picture of the marriage we have with the Savior Jesus Christ. It is the bride; God’s people whose never-ending sin, which damages the beauty of the church. Knowing what it feels like to be hurt by believers, can we use that understanding to fight through the pain and be the people who change the wounded perspective of others? The enemy does not want believers to make Christ known or make Him look good and Christians are God’s device for demonstrating this. Where is our dignity in who we are called to be? Where is our courage to fight the good fight and make the people of God look good? The overwhelming fact that people in church have, will, and do get hurt is not going to go away therefore people must learn to change their views and learn to see others selflessly, choosing to abolish any judgment that is lurking on our minds and hearts and refusing to let the enemy keep us from what is intended for good.

 Studying counseling helps us learn to see through others with an empathetic and unbiased opinion, but a person does not have to research counseling to non-judgmentally notice the needs of others. Seeing the needs of people despite their deeds, is something all people explicitly Christians should practice, but don’t. This perspective should be derived from the love and example of Christ and is lived out through mental and emotional will power in choosing to walk and live and breathe with the desire to be at peace with all men. We are so closed to others in this day an age and a lot of that comes from so much trust being broken, but for others it may just be a prideful attitude that can be turned around. There is a need to welcome people with mercy and grace not knowing who they are and not caring what they look like or how much they give. People need to remember that everyone you met has a story, a past, and a heart that is in need of something. For some, just a stare, a gesture, or short word whether friendly or not will change a their entire perspective of the church and God’s people. Unfortunately too many times someone walks out from visiting church with the negative sided experience. A sad and common problem that is continuously occurring each week is the lack and inability to see past the looks and actions of people and reach the needs regardless.

 In the song, “Does Anybody Hear Her,” by Casting Crowns, we are reminded of the need to see people around us in this world, to see those who walk in the doors of our church buildings and reach out of our comfortable self focused state of mind and be the kind of humans God desire for us to be. The music video reveals the story of what many people face that have experienced and felt the glances, words, and actions of legalism within the church. There is a huge need to counsel people who have been hurt by the church. We all know there are no perfect churches because every church is full of imperfect people, but could we use the hurt and the evil for good? Could we learn from these common sins and mistakes by intentionally striving to see into the needs and hearts of everyone we meet? Will we be the kind of people who show others a positive view of the church and will we allow ourselves to overcome the hurt that has occurred within the church? Where sin abounds, Gods grace abounds more! God can use you to change someone’s wounded opinion… Will you be aware of first where your own heart is at, where it needs to change, and will you then be aware of the person next to you? Remember you may be the only Gospel a person ever sees or hears and the only love they have ever observed or feel…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Casualties of Spiritual Warfare

As I was searching for articles and stories for a link to what I have been learning in class, I stumbled across this story about Spiritual warfare. The blog tells the story of two young women who go on a mission trip and witness to a “traditional healer, or a witch doctor” in a different country. The women write about the healer’s desire to claim that Jesus was her Lord and Savior. However she could not get past the fear she had of destroying the medicines, potions, and amulets that held her in spiritual bondage to Satan’s influences. The healer also believed, due to her fear, that Christ was not the one and only God. She allowed the girls to witness, pray, and clean her house; but would not walk away from the witchcraft she practices out of fear she would be killed. The woman believed that if she destroyed her items of healing that her ancestor would come and kill her. The women kept all the items she used for “healing” in one room of the house. The two girls wrote how the smell from the room was overwhelming and horrific, making it even hard to breath when in the room.
Click here for the whole story.

When I first starting reading this story I quickly saw the truth in what Dr. Neil Anderson writes about in his book “The Bondage Breaker”.  In this book Dr. Anderson writes about how one can allow themselves to be controlled by satanic influences by simply believing in the lies Satan tells. The biggest lie of all that Satan would have us believe is that God is not all powerful, and that Christ cannot give us the freedom promised in the Bible. This story is a great and sad example of the truth behind Satan’s tactics. This “healer” wanted to believe that Jesus was Lord of all but could not because of the lie she believed in that she would be killed by her ancestors. This woman was completely bound in her bondage to sin because of her belief in a lie, keeping her from allowing Jesus to bring her freedom and hope.  Another example found in this story that Dr. Anderson writes about is how we look on the outside but inside we are full of evil influences. This woman had her whole house clean minus the room she kept her medicines and potions in and even though this room was almost unbearable she still could not walk away because of her fear.

One thing that I learn from reading The Bondage Breaker and this story is how real spiritual warfare can be and if not careful how easily you can found yourself wrapped up in something evil before you know it. At the end of the story, one of the girls writes how before this trip she never believed in the spiritual realm so literally. I must also confess that while I believe in spiritual warfare I cannot say I whole-heartily believed it existed in such a way as this story tells. However after reading this story and among others I can now see how real it truly is. As Christians we are called to put on the whole armor of God so as not to become a casualty to this very real war of Spiritual Warfare. Sadly this woman believed in the lies Satan had been telling her, even when she wanted to walk away. Fear and lies would not allow her to let Jesus bring her the freedom He promises, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tim Tebow is known for football, his faith, and “Tebowing” at the end zone. From winning the national championship for the Florida Gators, to winning the Heisman Trophy as the first sophomore, Tim Tebow has become a house hold name and role model to many. But with his success, he has faced many trials. Tebow has gone against the cultural norm by standing up for his faith in Jesus Christ, and by vowing to remain a virgin until marriage, and as a result, he has received vicious attacks from the media and the rest of society. In fact, in 2010, “The Tebow Rule” was set in place, which banned NCAA players from putting messages on their eye paint due to Tebow referencing the Bible verse John 3:16 during his games.  In his book Through My Eyes, Tebow shares his inspirational story while giving God the glory for seeing him through his hardships.

Like Tebow, many other Christians have gone to battle for the Lord. But as Tebow has testified, although he has faced spiritual warfare, his faith in Jesus Christ has helped him persevere. In the book, The Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson explains how spiritual warfare can take it’s toll on Christ followers. Anderson gives encouraging steps on how to stay strong, stand firm and walk free with Christ. Anderson emphasizes the importance in knowing the Truth of the Bible and praying for strength and discernment in order to know when Satan is lying and deceiving.
I believe that Tim Tebow is a wonderful example of someone who is making the word of God is foundation, and as a result, he has been able to successfully combat Satan’s attacks. Christians who are aware of Satan’s influence in our culture are at a significant advantage over the enemy. Anderson states that Christian’s “have a persistent adversary, but we have an even more persistent, eternal advocate who defends us before the Father on the basis of our faith in Him.” This is based upon 1 John 2:1 which says “ My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”. So stay encouraged when you feel weak, depend on the Lord for your strength and protection against the enemy and let God be your fuel.

So Long, Grammys

The lyrics to Nicki Minaj's new song "Roman Holiday" and her performance of the song at the 2012 Grammy Awards are disturbing to say the least.  You can watch her performance here but as a disclaimer, this video may not be suitable for everyone.  Nicki walked the red carpet wearing a "Little Red Riding Hood" ensemble of a red cloak with a giant face stitched across the bottom. She was accompanied by a man dressed in a complete Pope outfit, which made sense as she hit the stage.  The performance involved chains, levitation, demonic groaning and screaming, a video of a possessed Nicki jumping to the ceiling in the presence of a priest, and an attempted exorcism of "Roman" in finale.  It immediately went viral; twitter, blogs, and other forms of social media exploded with reviews and speculations.  Some people loved it and others hated it, but everyone formed an opinion.  What caught my attention after watching the video on Youtube (I turned it off during the actual Grammys) was the way in which our society is truly engrossed in, even entertained by, the supernatural and demonic forces.  

 In class, we recently finished reading the book "The Bondage Breaker" by Dr. Neil Anderson. His purpose was to guide readers to obtain freedom in Christ from any and all bondage; along the way he spends a significant amount of time addressing the issue of demonic oppression as it is real and relevant in our world today.  While successfully avoiding the "Devil made me do it" mentality that some Christians seem to hold, Dr. Anderson provides important insight into the ways in which Satan and his demons are actively influencing the lives of Christians.  Through doors we often don't even realize we've opened, Satan's forces seize opportunities to exert their temptations, accusations, and most of all, deception.  As children of God, we are in Christ and we have the authority and power to overcome by exposing the truth.

With that being said, we as Christians do need to be weary of everything we choose to let into our mind. Paul admonishes us in Philippians 4:8: "Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, the fact remains that demonic forces are at work in our world and we must take heed and proceed with caution. As for Nicki? I will let God be the judge; I am not equipped to conclude that she is possessed or to suggest merit in any of the other allegations that sprang up as a result of her Grammy performance. Regardless of the true nature of any satanic forces that may be going on behind the scenes in Nicki's music (and in the music industry in general), I do know that we need to be careful. We have been bought with the precious blood of Christ; our salvation is not at stake, but our daily victory is. We need to consciously avoid artists, songs, and anything else we fill our mind with that may hinder our relationship with Christ and give the Devil a foothold. If we fix our eyes upon Jesus, we can more easily stay on the right path, all the while praying for those who are lost, like Nicki Minaj, that their eyes may be opened and they too might know the saving grace of the gospel.

"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dark Knight

Released in 2008, The Dark Knight was released as a sequel to Batman Begins, continuing the story of one of the most popular fictional heroes of our generation.  The movie was praised by critics and audiences alike due to its engrossing story and intense action sequences, however the real reason people flooded into theaters seats was for that of the movie's main villain, the Joker.  The movie portrays the Joker as a villain that not many viewers have seen before in that though he is physically unable to go toe to toe with the hero, his ability to manipulate those around him and eventually bend them to his will gives him all the edge he needs.  It can be said that the Joker is a talented psychologist in that in each of his encounters he seems to know exactly what to say and what buttons to push in order strike fear, as seen with his contrasting stories when explaining his scars in various parts of the movie. By the end of the movie, after many lies and half-truths have been uttered, he has used his skills to break both the good and bad characters into working for himself before finally being brought down by Batman. 

In recent weeks, our class has gone over the book The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson.  Though the book gives many different ways of breaking out of the conflicts and depressions in people's lives, a heavy portion of the book and main theme is tied to the fact that spiritual warfare is still a very real thing in our world today, just as it was in the Old and New Testament times.  These demonic forces know just what it takes to bring us down, as they have made it their goal to spread deceit and lies among the church and world as a whole to bring us down to their level.  We combat this not in our own strength, but first by bringing those lies into the light of God's truth. 

A unique passage of Scripture that in many ways parallels the character and story of the Joker can be found in Luke 4:1-13.  It is here that we find the temptation of Christ by Satan, specifically tempting Christ in three particular ways, being that of physical need, materialism and status (or pride of stature).  He tempts Jesus by using his own set of lies and half-truths in order to trip Christ from God's will.  Just as the Joker knew best how to make man fall, Satan knew the best tricks to push us over the edge and believe his lies.  However, just as described in The Bondage Breaker, Christ combats Satan by bring his lies into the Truth of God's word.  We must seek to do this every day by seeking Christ out in our life and relying on Him and bring truth not only into our own lives, but that of the world as well. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can Christians be possessed by demonic influences?

Throughout the past 2 weeks, the class was assigned a book entitled The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson. We hear all about people breaking their chains when they find Jesus and learn to know Him on a personal and intimate level. Anderson highlighted the prevalence of demonic activity and the power that Satan has over this world. Knowing who you are in Christ is a huge step in battling the powers of darkness and resisting him.

I’ve wrestled with this for the past week. Can Christians be possessed by demons? Anderson’s approach disagrees with this question at hand. He poses that we can be oppressed by demons, but never possessed. Even possession has its exceptions if Christians become negligent and invite evil spirits into their lives. They will remain under spiritual bondage until they call on the LORD and ask Him to free them. There is power in the name of Jesus, but the demons do not have to answer to us. Using prayer as our defense is the best tool that we can fight against spirits of darkness. To answer this question in an absolute light, no, we cannot be possessed because we are already owned through the blood of Jesus. We are stained and redeemed by His blood and we are unable to be possessed by anything or anyone other than Jesus. Even if we become involved and consumed in the occult, we are still able to turn to Jesus; however, once Satan has caught a believer off the righteous path, he will fight to keep that Christian trapped in darkness.

Something that Anderson tried to make clear was that he does not have special powers or any superhuman abilities to cast out demons. Anyone who is in Christ has the same power of the Spirit as Jesus had when He was resurrected from the dead. Christ commissioned His body of believers with all authority so that we might be empowered by the Spirit. Any Christian is able to communicate through prayer to the Father as a result of our salvation. When we call on Him in faith, Satan does not stand a chance. Anderson mentioned that Satan uses fear and intimidation as his primary weapon to paralyze his victims. He is like a lion, as described in 1 Peter 5:8, who is on the lookout for someone whose faith is wavering and easily influenced. The first half of that verse says that we should be sober-minded and on watch. The moment we become prideful or think that Satan is not tempting us is the time when he chooses to strike.

Hopefully, no one was greatly discouraged by this post. Satan and his demons are very real, but they are not Truth. God is absolute Truth; He is light in darkness; and He is perfect, unwavering, and steadfast love that casts out fear. Call on Him during your fear and He will deliver you. The LORD has an impeccable reputation of rescuing and delivering His children during their distress just as He did with Israel.
To learn more about Neil Anderson's ministry, click on the link provided. Freedom In Christ Ministries

Monday, February 20, 2012

Protect YOUR Tent

More Beautiful You lyrics
Songwriters: Diaz, Jonny; York, Kate;

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn't straight, her body isn't fake
And she's always felt overweight

Well, little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care, your skin, your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty one the things that you've already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you've got a man but He's got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well, little girl twenty one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true
And He'll treat you like the jewel you are

There could never be a more beautiful you
[ From: ]
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you, more beautiful you

So turn around you're not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It's not too late, you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear, they can all be washed away

By the one who's strong, can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry, all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light, He will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl

That there could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you
There could never be a more beautiful you

Do You Take Care of Your Tent?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
New International Version (NIV)
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
As clichéd as it sounds our body is a temple. God is within us. Our body is a tent. A temporary dwelling place that God resides in.

The Tent/Tabernacle is where the Children of Israel worshiped God while they were wandering in the desert and when they arrived in the Promised Land until the Temple was built. It visibly showed God’s presence with them.
The tabernacle was a moveable “tent” that could be paced up and moved from place to place until they reached the promise land. Our body is our tent. We move it from place to place, situation to situation until we finally get to our permanent place, heaven.
Tents are not a permanent home; they are a temporary dwelling place, just like our bodies.  A lot of people are focused on their tent. They diet, get plastic surgery and worry about what society thinks as “beautiful”. They fail to remember that your tent is temporary; you cannot neglect your inner-self. 
Other people focus on the occupant, your inner beauty.  Though as counselors we want you to be able to respect and love who you are, it is important to not neglect our tent either. Respecting your body is very important because it is the only one you have.

As Christian counselors we are interested in the material and immaterial- however we are more focused on the occupant, the inner body where God dwells.

The devil will and does use media and self esteem to work for him. We as counselors need to learn how to consult people to respect and love not just the inside, but the outside too. Both are important God wants us to respect all. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

True Freedom In Christ

        This song is about forgiveness. The title of this song is directly translated into Crime and Punishment and is sung by Semmi Cheng and Vanness Wu, who are both very popular singers and actors in China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. After they experience the salvation of Christ and consequently became Christians, they start to share their faith boldly through their music, pop news interviews and other forms of media. It is amazing to see how the grace of God penetrates the secular media markets and influence this generation with the power of His love.

My most adored, would you forgive me?

would you save my soul?

Before I was proud and rebelled against you

I would lose myself and shout at you often

Now I pray although I am not worthy of this grace

Please guide me in Your way of life


I’m holding my hand in the shape of a fist, no hope.

The media is full of death and revenge

Belief is only about seeing

That’s just how the world is

Focus on achievement but forget about salvation

People fight hard just to satisfy the self

When did I also become so demoralized?

The hope of revival dropped into the depths of the lust

The sin I have, I don’t dare to see

I can’t believe that you are willing to shed your blood for us

Is it worth you doing so?

Don’t you worry that I will forget?

I might fail again and again

Don’t you tell me that it is worth all You’ve done

I should pay the punishment for the mistake I made

You are pure and without sin, but you paid your life to redeem my life.

I am nobody, why do you want to be the target

The most high who I adore, can you forgive me?

The sin that I am scared to see

Here I come, home


All sins are crucified. All tears will be forgotten

You are God but became a man and saved my soul

You give up your throne and made me a testimony

Stay no longer in this veracious cycle

I will live for you, only for you

The conversation between good and evil

Cannot scared me, because you speak to me

The water you give will never run dry

The love you offer will never die

If only we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth

Everything impossible would become possible

People might think we are ridiculous

Because they do not understand what they have done

The hands of prayer, the hands of fists

Soon all will know who the true hero is

I am no one, but the one who was cursed

Oh heaven, we are punished because we sin

Yet, you carried all sin on the cross

You let me know

There is war in the world

In your name my heart and soul become strong

You want me to know

The world is changing

Still, I am not afraid in you

Perhaps the fear that is in our past controls us for so long that the truth which we hope to believe seems too strange to believe. We are struggling and blinded in the well of guilt, shame, self-pity and self-deprecation. Thankfully, God’s creation, salvation and revelation provide hope. God not only reveals all truth, but also acts as a counselor; the Holy Spirit walks alongside of us. The conversation between the good and evil is no longer in the same position, instead, God is on the throne proclaiming the truth and condemning evil. On the contrary, Satan is stuttering and trembling in the presence of most high God. For Christians, who believe they are saved by the grace of God, understand their identities are in Christ, and know that the authority to rule over the darkness of this world has been given to them. The war might continue, but because the assurance of His resurrection, Christians are not fighting with their flesh, but remain calm with a prayerful and hopeful heart. Because of the light of God the wickedness and weakness of Satan are exposed; they no longer have power to deceive Christians.

It was an eye opening experience for me when I first learned that humans are created in God’s image, and that He gives himself for us when we were still sinners and could not be trusted. Everything He has He gives to us, all His love and righteousness, His nature of relationship, the capacity to love, the ability to create, an identity of eternal means, as well as value and equality in Christ. Because he himself, the majestic King, brings all contentment, there is no other gift that can or will be even a little better than the gift of Himself. He is the most wonderful present that any human could ever receive. Just think of a best friend you have in your life in this world. Would you trust them so much that you are willing to give your name and identity to them? Moreover, think of a famous person that you admire a lot. Would that person want to meet or talk to you? Even if you have special opportunity to meet this person, do you think he or she would want to build a relationship with you or even take punishment for you? What a privilege we have to know the almighty God and to call ourselves ‘Christians’. If we recognize how much grace He has given us, and that every characteristic and ability he has are also inside of us, how much should we also recognize that we should, can, and will live faithfully in freedom of truth, giving thanks to Him always?  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taking Back the Sexual Revolution

Pastor Ed Young and wife Lisa spend 24 hours in bed atop of their
large Evangelical church to challenge couples to have more sex.

This past Valentine's Day, Pastor Ed Young and his wife Lisa spent a full 24 hours together in their bed, which was hoisted onto the roof of their Evangelical church building in Grapevine, Texas, according to an ABC News article.  The purpose of this demonstration was to challenge married Christian heterosexual couples to shed their prudish inhibitions and enjoy having sex every day for one week.  According to the Youngs, many Christians are uneasy about sex and are not allowing themselves to enjoy what God has openly supported and encouraged.  They even describe God as "pro-sex," and offer portions of Scripture discussing sex and sexuality in a very positive light, such as Song of Solomon 4:16 which is often interpreted as describing the act of oral sex: "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits" (KJV).  Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace from Seattle also offer insight into what Scripture says about topics such as sexual entitlement, pornography, lust, oral and anal sex, and masturbation.

A primary goal of Christian counseling is to help clients achieve mental health and wellness in every area of life including sexuality.  As the article mentions, the issue facing many Christians is that they want to enjoy more frequent and satisfying sex but become hindered by inhibitions that are not Scripturally founded.  So how can Christian counselors help these couples reach sexual health and wellness?  To do this, one must understand sexuality as God designed.  God intended humans to be sexual when He created them as male and female (Gen. 1:27).  Attraction, arousal, and the ability to orgasm were hardwired into man and woman by God Himself.  Furthermore, God created sex to be both physically and spiritually beneficial.  Because humans are both material and immaterial beings, God designed sex to make husband and wife as one.  Despite God's positive stance on sex, a long history of poor theology, oppressive sexism, and sexual immorality within the Church have warped the concept of sexuality for many Christians. 

Christian married couples need not deny God’s gift of great sex any longer, nor be embarrassed or ashamed.  Husbands and wives should feel free to offer themselves fully to each other, enjoy exploring and growing in their sexualities together, and find mutual sexual satisfaction.  However, even with knowledge of how God views sex, some couples may still feel bound to their own perceptions of sex.  If this is the case or if additional issues such as sexual dysfunction are involved, a Christian sex therapist or Christian marriage and family therapist may be able to help.  With a proper Biblical framework, and perhaps the help of a Christian counselor, married couples can finally embrace God's gift of sex without inhibitions!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beautiful, Inside and Out

The Washington Post’s Style Blog featured an article last week about one of the world’s top androgynous models, Andrej Pajic. He is one of the top paid and most sought after female models in the world, and he models for men’s clothing as well. The article reveals ten things about him that spark curiosity in the readers. The two I am going to focus on are that he is not transgendered; he is a man and has no plans for changing that. Secondly, he was voted the 98th sexiest women in the world by FHM.
In class we talked about humans being unique because they are the only part of creation that is made in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic value and worth. In fact, God loved the people He made so much that He sent His only son to die so they could be redeemed according to John 3:16. Our culture screams that women in the fashion magazines are the ideal of beauty-perfect creatures that everyone should strive to look like. Our society defines beauty as thin, symmetrical, and tall, which is unrealistic for most people. Then it tells people to find their value and identity in their physical appearance. Not only is this message a direct contrast to the Bible, it is completely unrealistic and nearing the verge of almost humorous. The aesthetic ideal for women in our culture is to look like a tall, underweight man. When did that become the picture of perfection?
1 Samuel 16:7 says that man looks on the physical appearance, but God looks at our hearts. Our identity should not be in how we look, but in who we are. Having said that, Genesis 1:27 makes it clear that God made man and women as distinct creatures, male and female which are different. Pejic blurs this line which I believe God did not intend to be blurred based on Deuteronomy 22:5. Psalm 139:13-16 explains how each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. God made us just the way He wanted us. He made our noses round, crooked, or large on purpose, and our hair as straight or curly as He desired it to be. We should praise God for making us just as He did, and not attempt to dangerously alter ourselves in pursuits of unrealistic thinness and beauty. Let’s stop allowing society to define beauty based on appearance and start letting others see the beauty that lies within.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Unsovled Hurt Breeds ....HURT

Here is a story about a special girl named Alyssa Bustamante, who was born with drug using teenage parents. In Alyssa’s early childhood her father was imprisoned, and her mother abandoned her. She at a young age was left to be raised by her grandmother; Alyssa's life progressed with an attempted suicide in the 7th grade and a prescribed double dose of Prozac for depression. At 15, young Alyssa used her younger sister to lure a girl named Elizabeth into the woods, where she strangled, stabbed, and silted the throat of the nine year old, she then laid her neatly in a predug grave, after this event she went home wrote in a diary about the days exciting thrill, and then got dressed for church.... Now 18 she is facing life in prison.    
Unsolved Hurt, Breeds a Hurtful Disaster

Hurt people, hurt people; Hurt people numb the pain, but incautiously live the hurt; and Hurt children internalize and blame themselves as the cause of hurt. This Idea was generated by the readings of Hurt People, Hurt People. By Wilson it may seem like a cliche however, Sandra Wilson highlights on the idea that Children want to do one thing in this life and that is to live! In living children, Alyssa, asked these three questions; “Can I be safe?" Meaning can I trust, "Can I be me?” Meaning can I be Honest, “Can I be Accepted?" Meaning can I just be loved just because (p73) . The answer for Alyssa to these  questions were No, No, and No. Wilson said this, when the answer to these questions are No;

“Eventually Children give up hope of having their needs met, So they “stop” having them, the problem, is that deadening feelings Does not make them disappear, they merely take on a disguise and show up later as something else – often something surprising or hurtful "(p76)

In Alyssa life this revealing of the deaden feelings paired with double dosage of prescribed Prozac, was not just hurtful but deadly. Alyssa is special girl; she is an 18 year old apologetic teen, who will spend her life in jail. Could this have been prevented, yes! This reveals that children are indeed infected by their environment, whether the infection is positive or negative is determined by how the three questions are answered and perceptions in which the child receives the answer.

Questions to think about:
 Was her mother using while she was pregnant, did that have an effect?
 What role did her church family play?
What role did the grandmother play?
Comment I will Comment Back!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Just because you're hurt doesn't mean you're broken."

A month ago I took a couple of the children I babysit to see the new movie “Dolphin Tale.” You can watch the official movie trailer here. Dolphin Tale was inspired by the true story of Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail and two of her vertebrae as a result of being caught in a crab trap at the young age of three months. Her survival itself was a miracle, yet many experts were convinced that she would die, unable to swim without a tail. Winter now resides in Clearwater Marine Aquarium with a fully functioning prosthetic tail, very alive and well and changing the lives of many people throughout the world. You can read about Winter’s story here.
In the movie, a young fatherless boy named Sawyer becomes lonely and sad when his only friend, his older cousin, goes off to war. Upon rescuing and befriending an injured dolphin named Winter, however, he makes new friends—a young girl his age, Hazel, and her father, the owner of the aquarium where Winter is taken to heal. Sawyer’s heart begins to open up to life again, as Winter teaches him how to play and laugh. Sawyer falls in love with helping Winter and with marine biology in general, and he finds meaning and joy in life as he watches Winter receive her prosthetic tail and learn to swim again. One particular line in this movie, however, appeared to sum up the entire story in one simple sentence—“Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you’re broken.”
In class this semester, we have just finished reading Sandra Wilson’s book entitled “Hurt People Hurt People,” as many of the previous posts have mentioned. One of Wilson’s primary messages throughout the book is that there is always hope—no matter how badly you’ve hurt others, no matter how badly others have hurt you, there is always hope for healing and change. Wilson discusses in great depth how our childhood—childhood thinking, childhood solutions, childhood wounds—is often the genesis of our adult problems and pains. However, suffering is not the main point of her book; what we do with our suffering, she states, is what matters. We can allow our suffering to make us hopeless or we can use it to make us hopeful.
The story of Winter and Sawyer speaks to countless adults and children today who have disabilities, who have also lost limbs, who suffer from spinal cord injuries, or who have just been hurt in any way; they are examples that prove change is possible and hope for a better life after tragedy really does exist, as Wilson also testifies to us in “Hurt People Hurt People.” Sometimes when we are hurt—physically or otherwise—we are convinced that it is the end, that our happiness is over, that we will never feel wholeness or joy again. We think we are permanently broken, but we are not. In the Lord we can have hope, as Psalm 147:3 simply states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
When we feel that we are beyond hope and that our souls or bodies are torn beyond repair, may we all think of Winter and Sawyer and be reminded that although we are hurt, we are not broken; in Christ we are made whole. In Christ alone can we hope, and in Christ alone can we have the courage to dream again. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Strive to be Courageous

Courageous is a movie that has recently been released on DVD. It follows the story of 4 police officers who decide to radically change their roles as fathers and husbands after an unexpected tragedy. After this life altering event, one of the men, Adam, notices the distance that exists between him and his son. These circumstances cause him to create an agreement between himself, his family and the Lord. In asking his fellow officers and friends to keep him accountable, each of them decides to commit themselves to this agreement. Through the course of the movie, the importance of having a strong positive male role model is strongly pushed. This is a movie that will speak to the hearts of men, women, parents and children.

As referenced in earlier posts, our class has just finished reading the book Hurt People, Hurt People by Sandra Wilson. While there are many nuggets of wisdom that can be taken from this book, one that is particularly emphasized is how parents play a key role in the lives of their children. Parents help to shape the worldview that children have, and teach them how to respond to life’s ever-occurring events. Research continues to show the importance that a positive male role model has in a child’s life. Wilson also emphasizes the importance of change in our lives and this movie definitely emphasized change. Adam stepped up to fulfill the role of a biblical father and husband. He researched areas of the importance that a father has in the lives of his children and then he took the steps to make those changes in his life. Adam saw the need for change, and took the action required of him to do it. 

I think that Courageous was an excellent movie. It honestly showed the heartbreaks that can occur in a family when tragedy strikes. I think that the role of a father is important in the healthy development of his children. This is not to say that children who do not have fathers will develop unhealthy lives, but there is a strong impact that the presence of a father can make. This movie does an excellent job portraying different types of fathers, husbands and men. I think this movie also helped show that it is never too late to change; it’s not too late to take that step and gain a deeper relationship with your spouse and children.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who Deserves the Millstone?

The headline of this article, “Cops: South Carolina Man Dangles 5-Year-Old Over Pit Bull,” is short and to the point, but most all, it is simply disturbing to say the least. With a headline like that, one wonders, “What caused a man to do this to a child?” According to the article, the child kicked dirt at the man’s car and cursed at him. This provoked the man to grab the child and hold him near an aggressive, chained pit bull. The article also states that this man is wanted for failing to appear in court concerning an altogether different charge. (Article link:
One of the first books we were required to read for class is entitled, Hurt People Hurt People, by Sandra Wilson. Although it is not the most original title I have ever heard, I could not help but be struck by how much truth was in that one-line title. After reading this article of an adult man being so angry at a child so as to hold him near an aggressive animal, I could not help but think, “Wow… who hurt this man so deeply that he would choose to do that to a child?” More specifically, what happened to this child, who is only five years old, that he would curse and kick dirt at the man’s car? Wilson (2001) states in her book, “Apparently victims gain a sense of inner strength and personal mastery by dominating someone even more powerless than themselves” (p.33). Wilson’s statement holds great truth, and I wonder if this man who dangled this five year old over an aggressive pit bull not only acted out of anger, but also felt empowered by dominating that child through such an act.
Several thoughts race through my mind upon reading about such an incident as this one. I cannot help but remember what Jesus says in Luke 17:2, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” So I wonder, who in that child’s life would be hurled into the sea with a millstone tied to their neck because of what he or she has done to this child? My own personal experience tells me that a child who curses and kicks dirt at an adult’s car as this child did, some adult in that child’s life, parent or authority figure, failed that child in some way. Also, it makes me wonder, what kind of parents or caregivers did that man have growing up? I am almost positive that both of these individuals have been seriously wounded in some way by people they trusted to take care of them. I also could not help but not be so surprised by such an article as news like this is sadly typical in our society. I tend to believe that situations like these would be far less common if parents truly cared for their children as God intended.
Wilson, S.D.  (2001). Hurt people hurt people:  Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Discovery House Publishers.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Choosing Praise in Suffering

The first line of the song Worth It All begins with a simple, yet important thought when it says, “I don’t understand Your ways.” When it comes down to it, our minds just cannot ever fully comprehend the vastness of who God is and the "whys" of life. Romans 11:34-35 reads, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (ESV) This world is full of suffering and every one of us has shared in the effects of pain and evil events that often surrounds each of our own lives. Even after discussing why there is suffering, how God allows it to happen, and how we can trust the love and justice of the Lord God, it comes down to a choice which accepts the fact that one can never fully grasp it. If you have not experienced it before, know that choosing to praise God in the middle of pain often brings about an unexplainable motivation towards healing. I think a first step to healing can often be to choose to accept that our brains cannot wrap around the ways, attributes, and promises of God. Eventually you will have to make a choice to blame God or praise God. Seeking out answers to the "whys," understanding how a good God would allow evil, is all crucially important and should be handled with care, compassion, and understanding, but I would like to just take this time here, to throw out a little side thought. Sometimes it is just healthy and refreshing to try to accept some things as so. I am not trying to lessen the importance of theological studies and research, but to build up another side of the equation.
There are certain times within suffering where I think about how God tells us to have faith like a child and in choosing to have that faith, give God all of our praise, especially when we do not understand. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (NASB) Many of us do not feel God or see Him working when we are facing serious and painful circumstances, but that does not change the reality that God is alive and actively cares, therefore faith is an element in choosing change. I cannot help but always ask the question, what harm could it ever do to choose to praise God and trust Him no matter what detrimental experiences have taken place in your life? Choosing to praise does not mean we are happy, refraining from righteous anger, or the floods of tears, but it does mean that we are proclaiming victory in Christ over the enemies deceitful ways, and over human sin. What harm can come from holding onto the Savior of the world? Is it not worth a try? The next step after choosing to let go of the pride that tends to blame God for what has occurred in life can then be to choose to reach out to Him in praise. The song uses the words, “desperately seeking, frantic believing,” which reminds us that praising God towards healing is difficult, but then the title of the song reminds us that it is all so worth it. In the book, Hurt People Hurt People, Wilson simply states that, “Change means choosing a new direction”. Maybe praising God could be a new direction for you, which will bring unexplainable healing for you. Wilson also says that, “Only when we’re at the end of ourselves will we reach for something beyond." God is worth it!
If you have a desire to reach for the Lord not only in times when it seems easy to, but also in the seasons of every kind of pain, I pray you can use this song. Use it to help you declare that choosing to turn your eyes, heart, and mind on God in the mist of it will be worth it! Choose to believe that the Lord Jesus is holding onto your pain and wants to pull you closer to Himself in the middle of it all. The sight of His face is truly what we all need.  A heavenly perspective chooses to say as Rita does in her song, “I believe it is going to be worth it, all my pain, all my joy.”

C.S. Lewis once said, “God who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed
you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” 

In the attached article are some notes providing Scripture and thoughts addressing human suffering and five reasons why God’s people suffer.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Facebook Facade

There has been some buzz about the estimation of Facebook's worth as the company approaches publicly selling shares this spring. The article Facebook Sets Historic IPO on The Wall Street Journal's website discusses how the social networking giant's value is estimated between $75 billion and $100 billion. This would put the company in the position of having the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. Facebook owes its success to the hundreds of millions of users that sign on to their site each day. Facebook's revenue is driven mostly by online ads. Through information shared by users and the use of Like buttons all over the web, marketers are able to target their ads towards a specific demographic. With its enormous amount of users and targeted ads, it is easy to see how Facebook could have a historic initial public offering.

The overwhelming popularity of online social networking makes me wonder about the effects on interpersonal relationships. We have been talking about what it means to be a person and what defines person-hood. A person has the unique presence of both the material and immaterial. A person has a mind and emotions that go beyond the physical. What happens when that person is reduced to pictures and text on a computer screen? Do those that are "friends" of this person really know who the person truly is?

We have also been reading the book Hurt People Hurt People by Sandra Wilson which discusses the hurt that people can inflict on each other. Part of the way that hurt individuals can work towards healing is through improved relationships with others. In the present age of online social networking is Facebook having a positive or negative effect on relationships?

My personal opinion is that the use of social networking sites can aid in the development of surface level relationships but does not help with deeper relationships. The information that an individual puts out on Facebook is not true to who the person is deep inside. Each picture is scrutinized as to how it portrays the person. Each bit of information shared is analysed to present the individual in the manner that they choose. A person can portray who they want to be rather then expose who they truly are. The interactions on Facebook can help to keep distant friends in touch but it is hard to delve much deeper. I believe that the true person is hidden behind a facade and relationships are limited to surface level interactions. I think that in order to truly know a person there needs to be direct in-person interaction.