Archive for March, 2015

Tweets of the Week 3.31.15

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

It is empty ambition that has given ambition itself a bad name. – Joseph Epstein

— Dave Harvey (@RevDaveHarvey) March 24, 2015

 

Restraint of speech is a mark of the wise. Maturity demands timely silence. You are not required to speak (or tweet) everything you think.

— Steve Bezner (@Bezner) March 25, 2015

 

Satan’s plan: sacrifice your youth to folly, adulthood to lust and rage, senior years to bitterness & envy, never experience abundant life

— Gary Thomas (@garyLthomas) March 25, 2015

 

To let God meet us where we are, we must know where we are, and such an exercise in truth-telling can often be painful. G. Dalbey

— jonathanholmes (@jonathanholmes) March 26, 2015

 

Pastors, don’t forget to take note of your wife’s spiritual growth. She is under your shepherding care too. And often a great encouragement.

— Erik Raymond (@erikraymond) March 27, 2015

 

“A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child.” @JenHatmaker > “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior..” Ps127:4

— Katie Persinger (@mrspersinger) March 27, 2015

 

It is funny some of the smallest things you can be grateful for if you are looking for them. #BeGrateful

— Kevin Carson (@PastorKevinC) March 27, 2015

 

Pray like you have a God in heaven who hears you and moves when you pray…because you do! @SusieLarson

— Meredith R. Sheppard (@MrsMSheppard) March 27, 2015

 

Those of us gifted with words will receive a painful reminder that it is Jesus and not our explanations that can change a heart. – Eswine

— Dave Harvey (@RevDaveHarvey) March 27, 2015

 

The theological term for accusing the brethren is: Riding Shotgun with the Devil

— Daniel Emery Price (@danemeryprice) March 28, 2015

 


Memories After Forgiveness: A Series from Miroslav Volf (Part 2 of 7)

miroslav_volfWhat do we do with memories of intense offenses after we forgive? This is a vexing question in a world marred by violence. Oh, that we could really “forgive and forget.” This is the question Miroslav Volf seeks to answer in his book The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in aWorld of Violence.

This blog series the postscript to Dr. Volf’s book in which he seeks to illustrate what he’s taught through imagined conversations with “Captian G.” – his chief interrogator during Miroslav’s eight years of political imprisonment for being a Christian and “Western sympathizer” in the former communist Yugoslavia.

I admire the honesty and vulnerability of this book. It remains true to the historic Christian positions on forgiveness and righteousness without making the living of those answers seem any “neater” than they really are in a broken world. I hope this series of excerpts will motivate many people to read this excellent book. I believe its content can be of great benefit for those who’ve face various forms of abuse and what to know how to honor God with those memories they cannot forget.

This seven part series will be posted in the following units:

In my first attempt, I imagined Captain G. and myself before something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) not unlike the one in South Africa, the best of them all. After the dismantling of apartheid, the TRC was set up to deal with politically motivated “gross violations of human rights.” My case fell just below such violations, which in South African TRC parlance denoted murder, attempted murder, abduction, torture, and sever ill treatment. The South African TRC had to disregard less serious cases simply because time and resources were limited. In contrast, my imagination had no such limitations. I appointed Desmond Tutu, the wise and witty Archbishop and recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, to preside over my own mental proceedings as he presided the South African TRC.

Archbishop: And now, Captain G., to the case of Mr. Volf. . . .

Captain G.: My goal in his case was consistent with my professional duty. My job was to prevent the lure of Western democratic ideas and the force of ethnic loyalties from pulling the state apart.

Religion was always suspect, and the Western powers were never to be trusted. Mr. Volf was a theologian and a son of a minister, and he was married to an American theologian who was a daughter of a theologian. I needed to find out where his loyalties lay and what his aims were. I put him under pressure – not too much. Just enough to make him talk.

Archbishop: You had no warrant for the interrogations.

Captain G.: He was in the military – I didn’t need one! Besides, we were having “conversations.” No real torture was involved, just significant psychological discomfort.

Archbishop: This Commission is set up to elicit full disclosure, not remorse. But you describe the case in such a matter-of-fact way. You appear to believe what you did was right.

Captain G.: It’s too bad that Mr. Volf had to suffer. He was innocent. Had I known so in advance, I would not have interrogated him. But the security business involves guess-work and sometimes necessitates the use of rough tools. Ask any security officer in the U.S.A., that “model” of Western democracy, and he’ll tell you the same.

As I listened to the imagined exchange, I became more and more frustrated. On the positive side, Captain G. didn’t deny his actions toward me, even though he stopped short of calling them mistreatment. That was something, for when wrongdoers deny their wrong acts they violate victims all over again. As it turns out, most wrongdoers do precisely that – at least until their backs come up against the wall of hard facts. Even then, some continue with denials. As a case in point, take Radoslav Krstic, an army general of the Republika Srpska. He was involved in the deportation of 30,000 women and children and the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men in Srebenica in July of 1995. During his trial at The Hague, he denied that he issued the command to kill. When the tape of his own voice issuing exactly such a command to an army major was played back to him in the courtroom (“Liquidate them all!”) he insisted that the tape was a fake. He had done nothing wrong. True, General Krstic had much to lose if he admitted to his crimes, for he was on trial, whereas Captain G., whom I had placed before the TRC, stood only to gain for amnesty. Still, self-interested as it was, Captain G.’s acknowledgement of what he did was significant to me.

Yet paradoxically, that acknowledgement made me feel rather worse than no acknowledgement at all. Captain G. admitted enough to gain amnesty but not enough to appear in any significant way as a wrongdoer, or, more importantly for me, to show that he cared for how it felt to be mistreated. As he presented the case, mistreatment was just one in the series of unfortunate mistakes that a person in his position was bound to make. Neither did I gain much from the public nature of his acknowledgement. Some offenses positively demand public acknowledgement, and some victims crave it; but I didn’t need it, especially not when it came with what amounted to a self-justification. He did his job, and that job inherently involved sometimes aiming at the wrong target. The way he saw it, he did the right thing – just to the wrong person.

Partial and therefore false truth and acknowledgement mixed with self-justification – that may be enough for official amnesty and national unity. But the cocktail is poisonous when It comes to forgiveness and social reconciliation. I came to the imagined hearings having extended forgiveness. That’s what the faith I embrace demands of me – to take the initiative to forgive even before the wrongdoer has repented. During the hearings, Captain G. not only failed to embrace my gift of forgiveness – he mostly hurled it back into my face. “Your gift is an insult, for I did not do the wrong that you, by forgiving me, claim that I did,” he implied. So reconciliation became impossible.

Reconciliation requires more than truth, more even than full disclosure. It also requires moral judgment, and along with moral judgment the wrongdoer’s acceptance of moral responsibility – as well as the victim’s willingness to release the wrongdoer from a genuine moral debt. In my imaginary TRC, Captain G. was willing to tell just enough truth and accept just enough responsibility to gain amnesty. The same was true of many wrongdoers in the TRC over which Archbishop Tutu presided in the flesh. For such wrongdoers, the TRC was all about getting out of the legal consequences of their misdeeds, not about their own transformation or reconciliation with victims. If I was going to make progress on the path of reconciliation with Captain G., I would have to imagine an alternative scene, one that would allow both of us to unearth more of what happened and examine the moral dimensions of our actions and motivations.


My Favorite Posts on C.S. Lewis

The “My Favorite Posts” series on my blog is how I catalog posts I’ve written to help my readers find the material that is the best-fit for their interest or need. I hope this series creates a more user-friendly experience for my readers and allows this site to become a trusted resource hub for the church.

Okay, so I cheated a little on this “My Favorite” post. Below are the links to my three year journey of blogging through Mere Christianity.

It began with a playful Facebook question in June 2010, “Would anyone be interested in a series of blog posts on ‘A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis’?” The response was enthusiastic enough to persuade me to see where the idea led.

Those who know me well are doubtless laughing at my compulsive persistence. But has been an enjoyable exercise in slowly reading, reflecting on, and applying a classic Christian work. Here is the fruit of these three year’s worth of reflection.

  1. The Importance of Our Disagreements
  2. The Positive Side of Temptation
  3. The “Deeper” Meaning of Being a Christian
  4. What Would a Totally New Morality Look Like?
  5. The Only Law We Can Disobey
  6. What Needs to be Explained?
  7. Good and Bad Desires Do Not Exist
  8. What Would Make a Devil of Us?
  9. “-Er” Requires a Standard
  10. What is the Point of Playing Football?
  11. Limits of Science: What vs. Why?
  12. We Have Inside Information
  13. Beyond Science: A Necessary Question
  14. Creative Evolution: The Best of Both Worlds?
  15. We All Want Progress
  16. Only a Person Can Forgive
  17. Goodness as Safety or Danger
  18. How Comfort Is Not Found
  19. Meaning, Darkness, and Eyes
  20. Simple Religion
  21. Good Things Wrong Methods
  22. Be Good for Goodness Sake
  23. Other Religions Not All Wrong
  24. Evil as a Parasite
  25. A Moral Civil War
  26. Disagreeing With God
  27. Made of Better Stuff?
  28. Putting Yourself First
  29. What Fuel Your Engine?
  30. Jesus Forgives Sin Committed Against Me
  31. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord
  32. Disabled Death
  33. Repentance Is Harder Than Eating Humble Pie
  34. It Takes a Good Person to Repent
  35. Humilitarian: A New Moral Diet
  36. Deity: An Unfair Advantage
  37. What Is a Live Body?
  38. Why Doesn’t God Make Himself More Known?
  39. Directions for Running the Human Machine
  40. If I Simply Belonged to Myself
  41. Living Beyond Seventy Years
  42. One Mark of a Bad Man
  43. One Good Tennis Shot?
  44. What Makes Heaven, Heavenly?
  45. Quacks, Cranks, and Moral Teachers
  46. How Christianity Works
  47. Who Would Like a Christian Society?
  48. The Twin Obstacles to Generosity
  49. Ally, Master, or Judge?
  50. C.S. Lewis on Sigmund Freud
  51. Courage and Illogical Fear
  52. God Does Not Judge on Raw Material
  53. Blame It On the Body?
  54. Choices Turn the Central Part of You
  55. The Momentum of Wisdom
  56. Chastity Versus Modesty
  57. The Most Unpopular Virtue
  58. A Bacon Strip-Tease
  59. Would Have Been the Best Sex Ever
  60. Moralism… C.S. Lewis… Permissiveness
  61. C.S. Lewis, Bulimia, and Pornography
  62. C.S. Lewis on Divorce
  63. Being “In Love” and Promises
  64. C.S. Lewis on Mid-Life Crisis
  65. C.S. Lewis on Two Kinds of Marriages
  66. Forgiveness, A Lovely Idea
  67. Forgiveness: If Received, Then Required
  68. Forgiveness Made Easier: Part I
  69. Forgiveness Made Easier: Part II
  70. C.S. Lewis on Loving Myself
  71. C.S. Lewis Meets His Murderer
  72. Loving the Unlovable In Me
  73. Invisible Vice
  74. C.S. Lewis’ Pride Evaluation Question
  75. C.S. Lewis’ Cure for Pride: Part I
  76. C.S. Lewis on Self-Respect and Devil’s Laughter
  77. C.S. Lewis on The Devil’s Cure
  78. C.S. Lewis’ Portrait of Humility
  79. C.S. Lewis on Temperament, Feelings, and Obedience
  80. C.S. Lewis on “Fake It Until You Make It”
  81. C.S. Lewis, Compound Moral Interest, and Spiritual Warfare
  82. C.S. Lewis on How God Feels About Feelings
  83. C.S. Lewis on Being Too Heavenly Minded
  84. C.S. Lewis on “Out of This World” Pleasures
  85. C.S. Lewis on Savoring Temporal Pleasures
  86. C.S. Lewis on Doubting Faith
  87. C.S. Lewis on Losing Faith
  88. C.S. Lewis on Sin’s Current
  89. C.S. Lewis on Jesus’ Full Temptation
  90. C.S. Lewis Says, “Punt It”
  91. C.S. Lewis Says, “Try Until You Realize You Can’t”
  92. C.S. Lewis on the Insult of Everything for Nothing
  93. C.S. Lewis on God-Saturated Human Effort
  94. C.S. Lewis Rejecting What Not to Write
  95. C.S. Lewis on Theology as Experience vs. Map
  96. 80’s Fashion Combat, Old Theology, & Domestic Violence
  97. C.S. Lewis Says, “Good Advice Is Over-Rated”
  98. C.S. Lewis on God as Father and Creator
  99. C.S. Lewis on Really Living
  100. C.S. Lewis on Losing/Gaining Myself in God
  101. C.S. Lewis on God-Saturated Prayer
  102. C.S. Lewis on a Community Vision for God
  103. C.S. Lewis on How God Knows the Future
  104. C.S. Lewis on God Listening to Prayer
  105. C.S. Lewis on Away from the Bible and Back
  106. C.S. Lewis on a God Infection
  107. C.S. Lewis on an Awkward Picture of Evangelism
  108. C.S. Lewis on Gospel Phrases
  109. C.S. Lewis on “What Could Have Been”
  110. C.S. Lewis on the Collective Human Race
  111. C.S. Lewis Warning for Two Party Elections
  112. C.S. Lewis on Pretending
  113. C.S. Lewis on Trying Harder with Better Teaching
  114. C.S. Lewis on Soul Rats
  115. C.S. Lewis on God-Fatigue
  116. C.S. Lewis on New Motives
  117. C.S. Lewis Says Christianity Is Hard and Easy
  118. C.S. Lewis on Bad Eggs
  119. C.S. Lewis on “Be Ye Perfect”
  120. C.S. Lewis on Masturbation
  121. God the Father: Easy to Please, Hard to Satisfy
  122. C.S. Lewis on Being Annoyed with God
  123. C.S. Lewis Insults, Exalts, and Humbles Me
  124. C.S. Lewis on God’s HGTV Show
  125. C.S. Lewis on Death Treatment
  126. C.S. Lewis on “If Christianity Were True”
  127. C.S. Lewis on “If Christianity Were True 2″
  128. C.S. Lewis on “A Gift to Who?”
  129. C.S. Lewis on the Gospel Paradox
  130. C.S. Lewis on a Balanced Personality
  131. C.S. Lewis on Being Alone with God
  132. C.S. Lewis on Dying Christianity
  133. C.S. Lewis Says “Christians ‘Need’ Less”
  134. Is There a “Jesus Personality”?
  135. C.S. Lewis on “The Real You”
  136. C.S. Lewis on How to Make a Good Impression
  137. C.S. Lewis on Looking

After all of this I did one final post looking back on 3 years of reflecting on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It has been a great journey for me personally. I pray the exercise has, and maybe will continue to, bless others who care to take a slow read through a great book.

Marriage Assessments for Your Individual, Consensus, & Headship-Submission Decision Making Skills

Trying to learn how to make decisions, as an individual or as a couple, can feel a bit like trying to learn how to breathe. It seems like something that has to be natural in order to be effective. If we had to think about breathing, then we’d fear getting distracted and suffocating. When we think about being intentional in our decision making it can quickly feel like such an effort would take over our lives.

There is good deal of merit to this concern. If we tried to bring overt thought and prescribe processes to every individual or marital decision in order to ensure that we arrived at the will of God, then our lives would be paralyzed. We would live in fear or fail to complete a large number of tasks that life requires.

But we’ve all been burned by the alternative. After a bad decision we put on our “20/20 Hindsight Glasses” and see how greater intentionality could have alleviated the unpleasant outcome. We begin to think it would be “worth it” to run our decisions through some kind of process. But it’s hard to determine what level of decision warrants this process (where’s “the line”?) and what kind of process to use for each decision.

These challenges emerge before we introduce the difficulty of two-party decision making required in marriage. It is hard enough to answer these questions as an individual, but they are multiplied when married couples must both agree (mental consent) and cooperate (logistical follow through) on decisions.

These are the challenges we are tackling in this seminar. In order to address these challenges, we will divide decision making into three arenas. Too often, couples try to force all decision making to fit into one or two of these arenas. They may do this for convenience (but simple becomes simplistic) or conviction (emphasizing some part of what Scripture teaches to the neglect of other parts). Either way, their life lacks balance and begins to show the corresponding wear-and-tear.

Personal Decision Making

Click link above for the self-scoring, on-line assessment.

(Disciple; Eph. 5:15-17): The foundation of a healthy couple is two individuals committed to wise personal decision making. We must be a faithful disciple of Christ before we will be a good husband/wife to our spouse. It is neither possible nor advisable for a couple to consult each other on every decision they make. Shared values, agreed upon life structures (i.e., calendar and budget), and appreciation for what is important to each other comprise the foundation of personal decision making that will bless a marriage. We will discuss how to approach personal decision making in chapters two and three.

Consensus Decision Making

Click link above for the self-scoring, on-line assessment.

(Friends; Eph. 5:21): Another large portion of marital decisions will be made as friends through the process of consensus. This is how two individuals begin to shape “our life” together that represents the new “we” more than the individual “me’s.” As a couple grows in their knowledge and sacrifice for another, this arena of decision making should become the significant majority of their shared decision making. Consensus should be the default approach to decision making throughout marriage. How to approach consensus decision making will be discussed in chapter four.

Corporate Decision Making

Click link above for the self-scoring, on-line assessment.

(Headship-Submission; Eph. 5:22-31): Not all decisions can be made through consensus. Couples will not agree on every decision. Some decisions do not allow for a “middle ground” because of limited options. How and when to engage the headship-submission style of decision making will be discussed in chapter five. But a brief preface will be made here. The fact that God gives husbands the role of headship in these kinds of decisions does not mean the husband must/should choose his preference in each instance. While the final call does belong to the husband, it is an unwise husband who always calls his own number.

This material is an excerpt from the upcoming seminar:

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: DECISION MAKING
Date: Saturday April 25, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Tweets of the Week 3.24.15

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Dear bloggers: “We feel self-righteous when we pose and posture next to our caricatures.” – David Powlison

— Stephen Altrogge (@stephenaltrogge) March 16, 2015

 

Happiness is a valuable experience, but it is a miserable goal. Two demographics focus on happiness as their goal: children & addicts.

— Dr. John Townsend (@drjohntownsend) March 16, 2015

 

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde

— Int’l Arts Movement (@IntlArtsMvmnt) March 17, 2015

 

If we’re not honest with God in prayer, the only one we’re deceiving is ourselves. He already knows the truth!

— John McGowan (@JohnGMcGowan) March 17, 2015

 

“I coined the word ‘eucatastrophe’: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien (@JRRTolkien) January 18, 2015

 

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” #RosaParks

— Walter Strickland (@w_strickland) March 17, 2015

 

Impatience with texts is usually indicative of an impatience with people. If something/one is not transparent to me, it/they must be wrong.

— Derek Rishmawy (@DZRishmawy) March 19, 2015

 

“Apart from Christ, we might simply introduce the problems of prosperity as we solve the problems of poverty” @peterkgreer

— Matt Mig (@Matt_Mig) March 20, 2015

 

‘…The greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more child-like will be our faith.’ -Machen

— Banner of Truth (@BannerofTruth) March 21, 2015

 

Beware the phrase “I’m not a theologian”; it often follows a theological comment, & a desire to be excused from theological responsibility.

— Jared Oliphint (@JaredOliphint) March 23, 2015

 


Memories After Forgiveness: A Series from Miroslav Volf (Part 1 of 7)

miroslav_volfWhat do we do with memories of intense offenses after we forgive? This is a vexing question in a world marred by violence. Oh, that we could really “forgive and forget.” This is the question Miroslav Volf seeks to answer in his book The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in aWorld of Violence.

This blog series the postscript to Dr. Volf’s book in which he seeks to illustrate what he’s taught through imagined conversations with “Captian G.” – his chief interrogator during Miroslav’s eight years of political imprisonment for being a Christian and “Western sympathizer” in the former communist Yugoslavia.

I admire the honesty and vulnerability of this book. It remains true to the historic Christian positions on forgiveness and righteousness without making the living of those answers seem any “neater” than they really are in a broken world. I hope this series of excerpts will motivate many people to read this excellent book. I believe its content can be of great benefit for those who’ve face various forms of abuse and what to know how to honor God with those memories they cannot forget.

This seven part series will be posted in the following units on the coming Mondays:

I have often wondered what happened to Captain G. after the fall of 1984, when I was allowed to escape from under his inquisitorial “care.” Where was he in the early nineties, when Mostar (the city in which he seemed to enjoy his job of poking around in people’s lives) found itself caught in the whirlwind of a three-way war between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims? Did a communist defending the “brotherhood and unity” of the peoples of Yugoslavia morph into a nationalist fighting for the Serbian cause? Did he come out of the carnage alive? A hero? A four-star general? Or did he abandon the army out of disappointment that the socialist project for which he snooped on so many had so easily crumbled? What did he do after the war, during the years of uneasy and bitter peace? Did he withdraw to the mountains of his native Montenegro to nurse his wounds or drown his memories in Montenegrin vine brandy? Or, ensconced in his ancestral house, perhaps he is still proudly recounting to his grandchildren his great exploits in preventing secret plots against holy causes and wondering which one of these little ones will be found worthy to follow in his footsteps.

I have made a few attempts to track him down. The unsettling yet irresistibly attractive God of mine, intent on reconciling everyone and everything, kept nudging me to locate my nemesis and start the process of reconciliation. I searched the internet. I talked to a few friends with connections in the Yugoslav military. I came away empty handed . . . and relieved. But the Merciful Master of the universe ensconced deep in my conscience didn’t seem satisfied. It wasn’t divine anger that I felt, as though God were furious at me for failing to obey. Nor was it a sense of divine irritation, as though God were nagging, “How many times do I have to tell you to try harder?” It wasn’t even disappointment, as though God were pointing out that Jesus Christ died to reconcile me to God and I couldn’t even make peace with a fellow human being, for whom Christ also died. Instead, I simply sensed God’s unwillingness to let the alienation and enmity have the last word. “Maybe you can do better,” I heard a patient and persistent voice speak from the depths of my own heart – a voice that was my own, yet also that of Another. “And if not now, maybe later. . . .” Relieved from pressure but not from responsibility, I searched for ways to reconcile with Captain G.

Then the obvious occurred to me. Wherever Captain G. lived – presumably within the borders of the erstwhile Yugoslavia – he also showed up in my memory and frequented my imagination. There, I was mostly dealing with him without really engaging him. Early on, I would chase him away, and later, when his presence in my mind became more or less inconsequential, I would simply disregard him. Maybe, I now thought, I should try to reconcile with him in my imagination. I had made many – too many – attempts to forgive him on my own; maybe it was time to involve him in the process. Granted, even if I succeeded in reconciling with Captain G. on the screen of my mind, an imagined reconciliation could not permanently substitute for a face-to-face encounter of living and breathing human beings. Still, imagined reconciliation is something, and something is mostly better than nothing. I had no excuse. I had to begin.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Forgiveness” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Suffering” post which address other facets of this subject.

My Favorite Posts on Anger

The “My Favorite Posts” series on my blog is how I catalog posts I’ve written to help my readers find the material that is the best-fit for their interest or need. I hope this series creates a more user-friendly experience for my readers and allows this site to become a trusted resource hub for the church.

Seminar Resource:

On-Line Evaluation:

Blog Posts:

Recommended Books:

52 Family Dinner Discussions

I am grateful for our Family Ministries Pastor, Jason Gaston, at The Summit Church. As a parent, it is a blessing to have someone in his role who views their responsibility as equipping parents as much as investing in youth.

Recently he sent a resource to parents that I thought was very helpful. It provided 52 conversation starters for family dinner. Hope you enjoy.

“Family Dinner Discussions? Does that actually happen? I feel like around my table it’s more like pulling teeth to get my teenager to talk rather than instagram their meal, or refereeing the ongoing sibling rivalry between my 6 year old and my 4 year old, which somehow has managed to make it’s way into the arena of “who can eat their spaghetti the quickest.”

We get it. We’ve all been there. That’s why we want to put this easy, simple and hopefully helpful guide into your hands to help you get creative with your discussions around the table. Print off a copy, save it to your phone, or staple it to your teenagers forehead so they’ll actually pay attention (just kidding, don’t do that).

Enjoy this great resource!

Resource Here: 52-Dinner-Discussions

Video: Overcoming Depression-Anxiety, A Responsibility Paradigm (Step 9)

Below is a videos from the presentation of “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

The complementing studies  Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm and Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness will also available in a video format after their presentation

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

“From Removing Sin’s Remnant to Pursuing God’s Purpose”
STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory.

DepressionAnxietyResponsibilityParadigm9 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: II Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV), “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Remind you” – We can take comfort that the Bible often has to remind its heroes not to fear or despair.
  • “Fan into flames” – The main focus of this passage is not against fear, but towards fulfilling God’s purpose.
  • “Not of fear” – Our main method of preventing anxiety-depression recurrence is living with purpose.
  • “Power and love” – These attributes are meant to serve and bless others.
  • “Self-control” – This attribute that prevents our sin and our service from becoming disproportionally unhealthy.

Teaching Notes

To “steward” something means to use it for God’s intended purpose. It is important to remember that what is being stewarded is your life, not merely the experience of overcoming depression-anxiety. To think otherwise would be to define yourself by your struggle again.

Sin is a parasite that lives off of stolen resources (time, energy, love, etc…) that were intended for other purposes. As we rid ourselves of this vile intruder, those resources upon which sin once indulged become available for God’s design and our true enjoyment. Ultimately, stewardship is the pinnacle where purpose, worship, and joy meet.

“We seldom realize fully that we’re sent to fulfill God-given task. We act as if we were simply dropped down in creation and have to decide to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do (p. 177).” Henri Nouwen as quoted be Leslie Vernick in Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy

“Know the kingdom and seek. That is the alternative to worry (p. 38).” Ed Welch in When I Am Afraid

Jeffrey Dahmer: Demonic or Subhuman?

I was listening to someone try to give a very objective series of lectures on evil. The lecturer was not neutral towards evil; he was against evil. But he did strive to offer unbiased presentations of the various explanations of evil that exists; conservatives, liberals, Catholics, Protestants, sacred, and secular explanations were discussed with equal attention, clarity, and persuasive intent. In the course of the lectures many different definitions were offered.

  • Evil is a non-entity; the absence of good.
  • Evil is illogical; it cannot be explained.
  • Evil is a social construct; a name for things we do not like.
  • Evil is the result of inequalities; a social ramification.
  • Evil is natural; part of our inherently selfish nature.
  • Evil is distorted good; love gone wrong.

In the end, the lecturer said he believed the various schools of evil can be summarized into two camps – those who view evil as a powerful force in rivalry to God (i.e., demonic) and those who believe that evil is the result of some under-development in the human or human race (i.e., when people behave more like animals than people).

Both, if taken too far, seem to alleviate human responsibility for evil. Whether we blame the devil or our childhood, either can be used as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But both also speak about real challenges; Scripture recognizes evil as a predator and the effects of external evil upon our lives.

To illustrate these two camps, the lecturer used a quote from Jeffery Dahmer’s apology for killing and eating the bodies of 17 young men over the course of 13 years at his trial:

“It is now over. This has never been a case of trying to get free. I didn’t ever want freedom. Frankly, I wanted death for myself. This was a case to tell the world that I did what I did, but not for reasons of hate. I hated no one. I knew I was sick or evil or both. Now I believe I was sick. The doctors have told me about my sickness, and now I have some peace. I know how much harm I have caused… Thank God there will be no more harm that I can do. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins… I ask for no consideration.”

Dahmer is someone for whom both demonic and subhuman explanations are strongly held. “How could someone do what he did unless there was some powerful evil in him?” some say. Others ask, “What could happen to someone that they would find joy or comfort in those actions?”

It is interesting that Dahmer was asking the same questions as he committed his horrendous crimes. It is significant that even after he arrived at one answer (i.e., “Now I believe I was sick”) he could not forsake the other solution (i.e., “I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins”).

The question is, “Should he have to choose one or the other? Must he be either sick or sinner? Or, could he be both? Must he choose between symptom relief and forgiveness? Or, can he have both?” It would be easy to get lost in the extremity of Dahmer’s actions (admittedly, I am brimming with questions as I type).

But the more important point is, ‘Must we choose one or the other?” Here I think the answer hinges on the word “must.” Might it be wise for some people with a profound struggle to understand their experience in light of a biological malfunction or as primarily a reaction to intense suffering? I would say “yes.” For others, might it be wise to see their profound struggle as the feeding and intensification of their sinful flesh? Again, I would say “yes.”

If the question is framed “might,” we can have a productive conversation (which is the bulk of what comprises counseling). If we frame the question as “must” (to either side of the spectrum), then we are likely to see our pre-conceived notion more than the individual we are seeking to assist.

In this regard (whether he was correct in his assessment of himself or not), I find Dahmer to be a better theologian and counselor than many I hear in one-sided debates today (either side) because he did not hold depravity and deprivation to be mutually exclusive. I pray our diagnostic science and spiritual assessments grow to where these distinctions become much more clear than they are today. Until then, may we not assume that evil (the effects of sin through the Fall) can only take one form as we care for one another.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Theology and Counseling” post which address other facets of this subject.