Thursday, September 5, 2013

How would it be if some of what we thought we knew was wrong?

I was inspired by a video I saw not long ago by Ellis Delaney, a folk art singer. Her song is entitled "How would it be?"  and you can take a look at the video here before reading my thoughts further.
Ellis Delaney Video How Would It Be?

How would it be if some of what we knew about this world was turned upside down? What if what we have learned about life, culture, the world, cause and effect, community, and our Christian faith was actually different from what we think? How would we cope with this new information? Would we be stuck in our old paradigms squandering for meaning or would we be able to adapt, to change, to grow into what was needed in order to survive?

In the 21st century church, we still talk about the famous times called the Reformation, marked by many as the defining point where God and mankind were reintroduced in relationship and where the spiritual reform took place. We have been talking about reformation since then. I happen to be a Presbyterian minister and since my short time in the faith (40 years) our particular branch has touted itself as a Reformed Body of believers. We talk about being "reformed and always reforming," but when has reform actually took place, reform that brought into clearer focus what God has done for humanity in Jesus Christ?

As Christians we are guided by the Bible. More than just a book, it is a story, a message, teachings, instructions, God's revealed plan for humanity. What if those words that we have read over and over have been interpreted through tainted lens of culture, lens of agendas, and a worldview dominated by power and agenda? Let me offer an example of one of the chief verses that we use in our faith - John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Simple, straightforward, easily understood, right?

In our denominations and churches, preachers and teachers use this verse to state what it so eloquently says and we come up with the idea that whoever confesses their sin, confesses Jesus as Lord, and believes in his name will be saved; thus evangelism to the world to tell people about Jesus so that they can profess their belief in Jesus. But what if, and I say just what if, what this verse seems to say is not what we have taught that it says. What if this verse is about God providing and not about our doing? I would propose that John 3:16 says everything about how God views what He has made and His redemptive plan to redeem what sin has corrupted. John 3:16 is not as much about our role to accept  what God has done but rather to realize what he has changed so that we can have what he created us to have and that is life and life eternal. It is God who loves. It is not us who believe. God opens our eyes and hearts to accept, believe, and even begin to understand. It is God who gives, and it is God who saves. Even our role to believe is a provision by God himself. We were created to believe, not necessarily to come to some life altering point of decision or to be turned around by a life event.  Not that we can't learn from events and circumstances. God's giving of his only son is not just a special reservation for an elected few. The salvation for everlasting life is given by God to all and I would propose that God has chosen to give that salvation freely to everyone, and not just Christians as we so seem to be taught.

What if God's gift of Jesus is for everyone, regardless of belief or ability to believe? What if, regardless of a person's ability to understand the mysteries of God, religion, spiritual ideas, or the like, people are redeemed, saved, purchased by the blood of Christ? What is the world is full of people who have already been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb?

What if we have it wrong and have missed the mark, taken a theological detour in our quest to teach and learn truth, God's truth not man's truth? What if in our desire to be true to biblical authority, reformed teaching and understanding, biblical principles and ideas, that we have detoured from what God has done and made teaching about protecting a particular worldview, preserving what we think is true and not fully depending upon God?

Read Romans 4: 6-9 from The Message, "David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score. Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don't we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?" (Romans 4:6-9 MSG)

Look at that part of the verse where it says, "Or do you think it is possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God?" We now know that Paul was referring to Gentiles, which is a term that refers to everyone non Jewish. Everyone non-Jewish. Think about that in his time. Now think about it in out time. In our time Gentile would equate to everyone not Christian.

Do we not realize that the blessing of God, the provision of God in Christ, God's son given to the world because of God's love is for everyone, to everyone, a gift to us, to them? God's gift to those we hate; God's gift to evil people. God's gift to those who do not believe like we do; God's gift to those who sin. God's gift to everyone, of every race, creed, culture, religion, belief, non-belief - ie the world. God still loved and loves the world and God is continually offering the gift of his only son to the world.

What are the implications of this? Just listen to what we have interpreted the holy scriptures to say. In our churches, we are the insiders and the sinners are the outsiders. Heterosexuals are in God's plan for humanity and homosexuals are outside God's plan for humanity. Men are appointed by God to serve in positions of leadership and women are excluded from positions of leadership. Are these actual biblical ideals put forth in scripture or gross misinterpretations by generations and generations of Christians?

The Gospel is radical, illogical, not fair, and absolute. God redeems mankind even without mankind's permission, understanding, or opinion. Perhaps that is what makes the day of judgment so profound, after understanding who and what we are it will be plainly visible God's wonderful gift given.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Faith and Assurance by John Charles Ryle


I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)
AN assured hope, such as Paul expresses in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, is a true and Scriptural thing. I would lay it down fully and broadly, that a true Christian, a converted man, may reach that comfortable degree of faith in Christ, that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon and safety of his soul, — shall seldom be troubled with doubts, — seldom be distracted with hesitation, — seldom be distressed by anxious questionings, — and, in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall look forward to death without trembling, and to judgment without dismay.
The vast majority of the worldly oppose the doctrine of assurance. That they cannot receive it is certainly no marvel. But there are also some true believers who reject assurance, or shrink from it as a doctrine fraught with danger. They think it borders on presumption. They seem to think it a proper humility never to be confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt. This is to be regretted, and does much harm.

Presumptionsays Adams, “is joined with looseness of life; persuasion with a tender conscience: that dares sin because it is sure; this dares not for fear of losing assurance. Persuasion will not sin, because it cost her Savior so dear; presumption will sin, because grace does abound. Humility is the way to heaven. They that are proudly secure of their going to heaven, do not so often come thither as they that are afraid of going to hell.
I frankly allow there are some presumptuous persons who profess to feel a confidence for which they have no Scriptural warrant. There always are some people who think well of themselves when God thinks ill, just as there are some who think ill of themselves when God thinks well. There always will be such. There never yet was a Scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits. God’s election, man’s impotence, salvation by grace, all are alike abused. There will be fanatics and enthusiasts as long as the world stands. But, for all this, assurance is a real, sober, and true thing; and God’s children must not let themselves be driven from the use of a truth, merely because it is abused.
Reader, you may be sure that Paul was the last man in the world to build his assurance on anything of his own. He could write himself down “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15), had a deep sense of his own guilt and corruption. But then he had a still deeper sense of the length and breadth of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him. He, who would cry, “O wretched man that I am!” (Rom 7:24), had a clear view of the fountain of evil within his heart. But then he had a still clearer view of that other Fountain which removes all sin and uncleanness. He, who thought himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph 3:8), had a lively and abiding feeling of his own weakness, but he had a still livelier feeling that Christ’s promise, “My sheep shall never perish” (John 10:28), could not be broken. Paul knew, if ever a man did, that he was a poor, frail bark, floating on a stormy ocean. He saw, if any did, the rolling waves and roaring tempest by which he was surrounded. But then he looked away from self to Jesus, and was not afraid. He remembered that anchor within the veil, which is both sure and steadfast; — he remembered the word, and work, and constant intercession of Him that loved him and gave Himself for him. And this it was, and nothing else, that enabled him to say so boldly, “A crown is laid up for me, and the Lord shall give it to me”; and to conclude so surely, “The Lord will preserve me: I shall never be confounded.”
I may not dwell longer on this part of the subject. I pass on to the second thing,viz., that a believer may never arrive at this assured hope, which Paul expresses, and yet be saved.
I grant this most freely. I do not dispute it for a moment. I would not desire to make one contrite heart sad that God has not made sad, or to discourage one fainting child of God, or to leave the impression that men have no part or lot in Christ, except they feel assurance.
A person may have saving faith in Christ, and yet never enjoy an assured hope, like the Apostle Paul. To believe and have a glimmering hope of acceptance is one thing; to have joy and peace in our believing, and abound in hope, is quite another. I think this ought never to be forgotten. I do not shrink from saying, that by grace a man may have sufficient faith to flee to Christ; sufficient faith really to lay hold on Him, really to trust in Him, — really to be a child of God, — really to be saved; and yet to his last day be never free from much anxiety, doubt and fear.
“A letter,” says an old writer, “may be written, which is not sealed; so grace may be written in the heart, yet the Spirit may not set the seal of assurance to it.”
A man may be a babe in Christ’s family; think as a babe, speak as a babe; and though saved, never enjoy a lively hope, or know the real privileges of his inheritance.
Reader, do not mistake my meaning, while you hear me dwell strongly on assurance. Do not do me the injustice to say, I told you none were saved except such as could say with Paul, “I know and am persuaded . . . there is a crown laid up for me.” I do not say so. I tell you nothing of the kind.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ a man must have, beyond all question, if he is to be saved. I know no other way of access to the Father. I see no intimation of mercy, excepting through Christ. A man must feel his sins and lost estate, must come to Jesus for pardon and salvation, must rest his hope on Him, and on Him alone. But if he only has faith to do this, however weak and feeble that faith may be, I will engage, from Scripture warrants, he shall not miss heaven.
Never, never let us curtail the freeness of the glorious Gospel, or clip its fair proportions. Never let us make the gate more strait and the way more narrow than pride and love of sin have made it already. The Lord Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. He does not regard the quantity of faith, but the quality. He does not measure its degree, but its truth. He will not break any bruised reed, nor quench any smoking flax. He will never let it be said that any perished at the foot of the cross. “Him that cometh unto Me,” He says, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
Yes, reader, though a man’s faith be no bigger than a grain of mustard seed, if it only brings him to Christ, and enables him to touch the hem of His garment, he shall be saved, saved as surely as the oldest saint in paradise; saved as completely and eternally as Peter, or John, or Paul. There are degrees in our sanctification. In our justification there are none. What is written, is written, and shall never fail: “Whosoever believeth on Him,” — not whosoever has a strong and mighty faith, but, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” (Rom 10:11).
But all this time, I would have you take notice, the poor soul may have no full assurance of his pardon and acceptance with God. He may be troubled with fear upon fear, and doubt upon doubt. He may have many a question, and many an anxiety, — many a struggle, and many a misgiving, — clouds and darkness, storm and tempest to the very end.
I will affirm, I repeat, that bare simple faith in Christ shall save a man, though he may never attain to assurance; but I will not affirm it shall bring him to heaven with strong and abounding consolations. I will affirm it shall land him safely in harbor; but I will not affirm that he shall enter that harbor in full sail, confident and rejoicing. I shall not be surprised if he reaches his desired haven weather-beaten and tempest-tossed, scarcely realizing his own safety, till he opens his eyes in glory.
Reader, I believe it is of great importance to keep in view the distinction between faith and assurance. It explains things which an inquirer in religion sometimes finds hard to understand.
Faith, let us remember, is the root, and assurance is the flower. Doubtless, you can never have the flower without the root; but it is no less certain you may have the root and not the flower.
Faith is that poor trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the press and touched the hem of His garment (Mark 5:27). Assurance is Stephen standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saving, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God!”
Faith is the penitent thief, crying, “Lord, remember me” (Luke 23:42).Assurance is Job, sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).
Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink: Lord, save me” (Matt 14:30).Assurance is that same Peter declaring before the Council in after times, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”(Acts 4:11-12).
Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Assurance is the confident challenge, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? . . . Who is he that condemneth?” (Rom 8:33,34).
Faith is Saul praying in the house of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind, and alone (Acts 9:11). Assurance is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking calmly into the grave, and saying, “I know whom I have believed . . . There is a crown laid up for me” (2 Tim 1:12, 4:8).
Faith is life. How great the blessing! Who can tell the gulf between life and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy, painful, trying, anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless to the very end.
Assurance is more than life. It is health, strength, power, vigor, activity, energy, manliness, beauty.
Reader, it is not a question of saved or not saved that lies before us, but of privilege or no privilege. It is not a question of peace or no peace, but of great peace or little peace. It is not a question between the wanderers of this world and the school of Christ: it is one that belongs only to the school: — it is between the first form and the last.
He that has faith does well. Happy should I be, if I thought all readers of this article had it. Blessed, thrice blessed are they that believe. They are safe. They are washed. They are justified. They are beyond the power of hell. Satan, with all his malice, shall never pluck them out of Christ’s hand.
But he that has assurance does far better, — sees more, feels more, knows more, enjoys more, has more days like those spoken of in Deuteronomy 11:21, even “as the days of heaven upon the earth.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marital Infidelity and the Dreaded Affair

Infidelity / Emotional Affairs

Marital Research has indicated that a couple is more likely to remain married if an extramarital affair is thoroughly explored and dealt with in a specific targeted manner. One such targeted manner is provided through marital counseling with a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Infidelity or Emotional Affairs

Few marital problems cause as much heartache and devastation as infidelity. If you have experienced the trauma of infidelity, you needn't feel alone. Statistics show over 60% of married couples struggle with this issue sometime during the course of their marriage. Because of the negative range of emotions associated with this issue it is hard to get support, advice, and help from your friends and relatives.Going to family and/or friends for help can result in conflicting solutions because of the nature of the friendships or family status. Seeking the help from a trained professional is more objective, solution oriented, and does not confuse or conflict with other relationships. Seeking professional help can also eliminate issues of worry that you will be discussed without your knowledge because of the nature of therapeutic confidentiality.

Defining infidelity

Infidelity isn't a single, clearly defined situation - and what's considered infidelity varies among couples and even between partners in a relationship. What may be acceptable for some couples may be unacceptable for others. Similarly, what's tolerable for one partner in a relationship may be intolerable for the other. For example, is it infidelity if your partner is attracted to someone else but doesn't act on it? Is an emotional connection without physical intimacy considered infidelity? What about online relationships? What if I discover my spouse has texted or emailed someone else in an inappropriate manner? Infidelity may also take on the form of engagement in relationships that undermine the marriage covenant, decisions made on a continual basis in secret without the knowledge of the other spouse, even living a life full of lies in the marriage where one spouse has habitually lied over the course of the marriage. Infidelity is the breaking of trust and trust can be broken on more ways than just emotion.

When you discover the infidelity...

The initial discovery of a physical affair, emotional affair, financial affair, or even secret can trigger a range of powerful emotions for both partners - shock, rage, shame, betrayal, depression, guilt, and remorse. You may cycle through all of these emotions many times in a single day, one minute vowing to end the marriage and the next wanting desperately to save it. At this point, it's important to take one step at a time.

And yet without help, your odds are decreased of managing the crisis in the most expedient and constructive way. Sometimes, especially with infidelity, help may need to come in the form of a professional specifically trained to help couples meet the challenges of infidelity and affairs.

At Pathways Pastoral Counseling, we want to help navigate this difficulty and perhaps help in the therapeutic process. The following are five thoughts on how to respond to infidelity.

1) Cease the affair: This may seem obvious but sometimes "obvious" is better off stated. Couples cannot begin the healing process until the relationship is over. Rebuilding trust is the cornerstone of saving the marriage after an affair. When the offending spouse says the affair is over but continues it in secret, the process of healing is thwarted  Continuing to lie to your spouse is not helpful at all and can prevent rebuilding trust and healing the marriage.

2) There is no such thing as too much apologizing: The partner who cheated must be willing to apologize as many times as needed – and as sincerely as possible. They need to continue to take responsibility for wounding their partner and the relationship.

3) Allow the wounded partner to share his/her feelings: There could possibly be a wide range of emotions from the hurt partner, sometimes even seeming erratic and unrelenting. Remember that the hurt spouse is dealing with images, thoughts, suspicious thinking, anger, hurt and other swirling thoughts and emotions. The offending spouse cannot dictate the emotional process to the offended spouse.

4) Learn how to communicate effectively: Sometimes affairs can come on the heels of build-up of resentments, unexpressed needs, feelings and so on. Be clear that we are not excusing unfaithful behavior, only highlighting that effective communication between couples can only help build and maintain a strong relationship foundation.

5) It takes time: A couple dealing with infidelity needs to understand that this is a process and can take a long time to work through. There is not formula to figure out, "how long." It will depend on a lot of factors specific to who they are, what exactly transpired, the length of time it occurred and so on.

After following these guidelines, there still might always be a nagging doubt or mistrust of the unfaithful partner who can be vulnerable to having his/her insecurity triggered. Remain aware of maintaining behavior that is kind, loving, loyal and supportive of each other. In other cases, there are couples that weather the storm of infidelity and come out stronger in the end. In either situation, if you both believe the relationship is worth fighting for, this is the first and most important step to take towards the healing process.

Three Phases of Recovery from Infidelity:

Phase 1 - The Revelation Phase - This is when the infidelity becomes known and all the emotional reactions start for both parties; this needs careful managing, pacing and structuring.

Phase 2 - The Decision-making Phase - This is when questions arise concerning decisions such as:

  1. Whether or not to continue the relationship,
  2. Whether and how to end the affair,
  3. What to tell friends and family,
  4. Whether or not to seek counseling,
  5. Whether both of you still have enough love to sustain the work that this crisis will require,
  6. How could forgiveness ever occur, and
  7. How could trust EVER be rebuilt, and many other such questions. Many of these questions may stump you and you might find the help of a Marriage and Family Therapist quite helpful at this juncture so as not to make premature decisions or overly emotional decisions that may not hold up well over time.
Phase 3 - The Rebuilding Phase - This is when you begin to put your life back together, whether it is as an individual or as a couple. Each path has its unique challenges. There is much to be mastered to successfully move forward. Some specific challenges are:
  1. Finding a way to forgive or a healthy alternative to not forgiving (there are many unhealthy alternatives),
  2. Finding a way to put the whole episode into some kind of perspective that lives peacefully inside you,
  3. How to build an even stronger, more resilient relationship,
  4. How to prevent further infidelity in your life, and
  5. Rediscovering joy, happiness, love, trust and passion.
Remember: There is more information available on this topic, if you still have questions not answered by this section please call our office at 864-542-3019 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Trey Kuhne. We are happy to answer questions, schedule session, and\or to direct you to other resources.

Research and statistics on infidelity indicates that receiving professional counseling after the discovery of an affair is the single best predictor of recovery.  

(The following information is taken from www.familysolutionscounseling.org website)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reignite your passion at work


Carson Tate

GET UPDATES FROM CARSON TATE

Reignite Your Passion at Work in 5 Simple Steps

Posted: 03/26/2013 12:13 am


1. Reclaim your excitement!
Think back to your first day in your current position. What was the one thing that you were most excited about? I mean, I have butterflies in my stomach and I cannot wait to go to work tomorrow excited. Was it the challenge of something new? Was it the opportunity to sell new products or services? Was it the opportunity to lead a team for the first time? What was that one thing that made your heart race and your eyes light up? Now, are you still doing anything related to that one thing that made you so excited about your work? If so, how can you do even more of it? If not, how might you reclaim some of that excitement and enthusiasm? What is a new challenge you can take on? How could you make the selling of the products or services fresh and new? How could you strengthen your leadership skills?

2. Learn something new.
When was the last time you learned something new? Learning something new lights up our brains and engages our senses and can powerfully reignite our passion at work. The wonderful thing is that it does not have to be something big. It can be something small that takes less than five minutes to learn. For example, how to color code email messages by sender so you can more effectively prioritize incoming messages. Or how to use key board short cuts to auto populate text in email messages. Learn one thing new and watch your excitement return.

3. Challenge the status quo.
The same routine day after day is monotonous, dull and mind numbing. We often get into our schedule and work ruts without even knowing how or why. We are managing calendars, tasks, and work responsibilities in a way that often is no longer serving us. These patterns or routines are no longer aligned to our current goals and objectives, nor the strategic priorities of the organization. Break out of your rut and challenge the status quo. For example, just because you have always had your weekly staff meeting sitting down does not mean that this process is carved in stone and cannot be changed. Challenge the status quo and have your next weekly staff meeting standing up.

4. Take a day of rest.
In our always on, hyper-connected 24/7, busy culture our work can quickly consume us and our time. In an effort to catch up, keep up or get ahead (highly unlikely for most of us), we work every day of the week. By the way, this work includes household chores and errands. To fully recharge and be ready to engage at work, take one day off each week. No email. No folding laundry. No work related reading. Just let your mind and body rest. Rest is not a four-letter word. Rest and watch your passion come back to life.

5. Reconnect to your strengths.
We have unique abilities and signature strengths. Your organization or your clients have hired you because of the value you can bring to the organization or to them. You were selected for your current role because of your past successes and experience. When was the last time you took the time to look at how you were adding value to your organization? Or how you were adding value to your clients? When was the last time you ended your week acknowledging all of the successes of the week versus the mistakes or mishaps. Reflect on your strengths. Listen to what your colleagues compliment you on -- it is an indicator of your strengths. Reconnect to your strengths and feel the passion for your work return.

Burnout, fatigue, disengagement, and a lack of passion for our work are all signs that it is time to make a change. It is time to reclaim your excitement, learn something new, challenge the status quo, take a day of rest and reconnect to your strengths. Decide to no longer tolerate a dull and disengaged work life. Reignite your passion!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Judging Jesus by His Followers


Posted on by Kenneth Richard Samples

German philosopher and atheist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was the first to proclaim, “God is dead.” Nietzsche holds an important position in the history of philosophy, serving as a forerunner to the secular movements of atheistic existentialism and secular postmodernism.

While Nietzsche remained very critical of institutionalized Christianity and Christians in particular, on occasion he spoke respectfully of Jesus Christ and of his character. Christian philosopher Ronald Nash even suggested that Nietzsche intentionally sought to serve as a type of gadfly to the Christian church.

Nietzsche once declared, “I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.” A provocative yet stinging accusation against believers and their witness to Christ indeed! These words strike a chord with many people today. For example, Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) said, “If it weren’t for Christians I would be a Christian.” Thus, Nietzsche’s statement is worth careful analysis from a historic Christian perspective.

Responding to Nietzsche’s Claim
Ironically, Nietzsche’s critical declaration actually seems to affirm two central Christian truth-claims. First, the statement underscores the powerful point that Jesus Christ is different from all other human beings. Jesus’ extraordinary moral character and life makes his followers pale in comparison to him. Yet it’s not just everyday Christians who compare poorly to Jesus’ example—even the world’s great religious leaders fail to match Christ’s morally magnanimous nature. For example, have you ever heard anyone say “I find Muhammad to be an exemplary moral figure but I’m put off by his followers?” Not likely.

Second, historic Christianity teaches that human beings are sinners by nature (Psalm 51:5). Scripture indicates that sin has negatively impacted the entire being of human persons (Proverbs 20:9). Thus even persons who have experienced Christ’s redemption still struggle with sinful tendencies (1 John 1:8). So when Nietzsche bemoaned the lack of moral character among Christ’s followers, he identified a truth consistent with Christian teaching. After all, great sinners need an even greater Savior. Nietzsche’s statement therefore doesn’t actually conflict with the claims of historic Christianity.

However, one more point needs to be considered in light of Nietzsche’s claim. Scripture clearly implores believers to seek to live lives of integrity out of gratitude to God for his gracious forgiveness in Christ (Titus 2:11–14). Therefore Christians would do well to note that nonbelievers often form judgments about the truth of the Christian faith based upon the behavior of Christ’s followers. But what Nietzsche’s words don’t reveal is how often Christians do live lives characterized by such virtues as courage, humility, honesty, integrity, and love. Many believers clearly defy Nietzsche’s claim through lifestyles that make Christianity quite credible.

In closing, let me say that such distinguished Christian thinkers as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis both asserted that Christians can either be the strongest argument for the truth of the faith or its weakest link. May all believers strive with their words and deeds to faithfully point to the Messiah who was crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

If you like this article you can find more like it from Kenneth's webpage at:  http://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 10 Laws of Boundaries - #3 The Law of Power


I am working through the 10 Laws of Boundaries as discussed by Drs. Cloud and Townsend from their book, “Boundaries: When to say Yes How to say No to take control of your life.” This month we will look at the 3rd law of boundaries. I will be quoting from the book or summarizing some of their thoughts found on pages 89-91 in their book.

Law # 3 is the Law of Power. “The 12 step programs and the Bible teach that people must admit that they are moral failures. Alcoholics admit that they are powerless over alcohol; they don’t have the fruit of self-control. They are powerless over their addiction, much like the apostle Paul says in Rom. 7:15-23 in that he does not do what the good that he wants but the evil that he does not want – this he keeps doing…waging war against the law of his mind and making him a prisoner of the law of sin at work within his members. This is powerlessness” (p.89).

So what are we left with then? Are we left with this constant struggle without a way to address it? The Law of Power says that we have the power to do some things that will bring fruits of victory later. Drs. Cloud and Townsend suggest 6 things that you have the power to do:

 1) You have the power to agree with the truth about your problems. Scripture calls this action confession. To confess means literally “to agree with”; in this case agreeing with the Spirit of God on what you problems are. In confession, God gives us the opportunity to say “yep, that’s me” and those are my problems.

2) You have the power to submit your inability to God. You ALWAYS have the power to ask for help and yield. The humbling of yourself as commanded in the Bible is ALWAYS associated with great promises. “If you do what you are able – confess, believe, and ask for help – God will do what you are unable to do – bring about change” (p.89).

3) You have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more about what is within your boundaries.

4) You have the power to turn from the evil that you find within you. Scripture calls this action repentance, to turn away or to change the course of direction. This does not imply perfection, it simply means that you are able to see your sin as parts that you want to change.

5) You have the power to humble yourself and ask God and others to help you with your developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs. It is your responsibility to search for, discover, and address your own developmental injuries. This summer we have had the privilege of Dr. Jim and Sissy Bankhead sharing with us their developmental injuries from serving the church, from marriage, and from growing up. It has been evident this summer that as a couple and individuals they have worked hard to process themselves in light of what God has been doing in their life. If you do not address your own developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs, you will spend the rest of your life trying to make sense of who/how you are and what you have become. Take the time to work on yourself or you risk the chance that someone else will attempt to do it for you, which of course is NOT their responsibility!

6) You have the power to seek out those that you have injured and make amends. “You need to do this in order to be responsible for yourself and for your sin, and be responsible for those you have injured” (p.89). This is a vital step in the 12 Steps. You may think that you are just doing your job but how you treat those under your care then ripples down the chain to family, friends, employees, and others. For the life of me, I just do not fully understand why the bully has to hurt so many people and to leave in his/her path a wake of emotional and psychological destruction? If you are a bully, please take the time and effort to do some honest self evaluation before God and man. Get some help and then start healing the wounds that you have caused. Take responsibility for yourself!

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Trey

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The First Law of Boundaries: The Law of Sowing and Reaping



So we begin to uncover the 10 Laws of Boundaries as uncovered by Drs. Cloud and Townsend in their (must read) book entitled “Boundaries: When to say yes and how to say no to take control of your life.”

Law # 1: The Law of Sowing and Reaping
To get this first law off the ground for us, I am going to quote directly from the book, page 86-87, so that the authors can best describe this law. “The law of cause and effect is a basic law of life. The Bible calls it the Law of Sowing and Reaping. You reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Gal. 6:7-8). When God tells us that we will reap what we sow, he is not punishing us; he’s telling us how things really are.”

“If you smoke cigarettes, you will likely develop smoker’s hack, and you may even get lung cancer. If you overspend, you most likely will get calls from creditors, and you may even go hungry because you have no money for food. Other the other hand, if you eat right and exercise regularly, you may suffer from fewer colds and bouts with the flu. If you budget wisely, you will have money for the bill collectors and for the grocery store.”

But there are times when someone does not reap what they sow because someone else steps in and reaps the consequences for them. If every time you overcharged on your credit card and your parents paid off the balance for you, you wouldn’t reap the consequences of your overspending ways. Later on in life you may continue to repeat those poor spending habits to your detriment. We find this to be the case many times when parents are constantly bailing out their children over actions that demand consequences. Then the children grow up to be adults who continue the maladaptive actions.

People who continually rescue other people in these ways are referred to as codependent. As Cloud and Townsend say on page 87, "codependent people are people without boundaries who 'cosign the note' of life for the irresponsible person. Then they end up paying the bills and other person’s consequences – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – all the while the spendthrift person continues to rack up more debt and more problems without any consequences."

So what do you do? One of the best responses I know of is to try to discern that this law is at work in someone’s life. It is not wrong to help someone in need, to help pay for a utility bill or credit card bill, to fix someone’s car, to buy a tire, to help with some medicine, or to assist with baby sitting expenses. It is not wrong to help but it is wrong to remove the law of sowing and reaping from someone who has not learned these life lessons yet. How is one to know? Discernment from the Holy Spirit is a great start.

See you next month with law # 2!

Grace and Peace,
Dr. Trey