Saturday, December 30, 2006

Will I Ever Find A Partner Who's Good For Me? (Conclusion)

The fact is, healthy people run from unhealthy people, and unhealthy people find healthy people boring. The two are never attracted to each other. If you are newly out of a relationship and you haven’t had a HUGE awakening to the growth that needs to take place in you and if you have not done anything to bring about that growth, then you are not nearly ready for anything but more of the same.
This of course raises the question, "How do I change my character?" For those of you who aren’t Christians, I have wonderful news. Jesus Christ loves you. He died for you and if you let Him He will transform your life. For those of you who claim to be Christians, and the negative thoughts and behaviours in this post are something that you struggle with, then it’s time to get honest with yourself about the value of trying to live a lifestyle that Jesus never sanctioned. Either join the Baha’i or get serious about the One whose name you represent. Remember that Jesus said, "The one who loves Me is the one who obeys Me." For both groups I would ask you to remember this line. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.
The next thing to do is admit that you are wrong. There is no point in trying the same thing harder or longer if it isn’t working. A fact of life is, Jesus can do nothing in us as long as there is any hint of self-sufficiency. We are strangers on this earth. We don’t know the way. Virtually every decision that we make, that isn’t made with God / Bible as our road map, will take us down the wrong road. This is especially the case in the area of relationships. Look back over your life and you will see how true this is.
The next thing to remember is Hebrews 4:16 - "So now we can boldly and with confidence come to the throne of grace and receive mercy and find grace in our time of need." Jesus isn’t like your human parents. If you will simply humble yourself and tell Jesus that you are sorry for rebelling against Him, He will welcome you home with open arms. He loves you so much that he was willing to die for you. That’s the kind of love you can trust. 1st John 1:9 tells us that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Your unrighteousness is what has gotten you into all this trouble. Let Jesus get rid of it for you and you will be free to make decisions that will benefit, instead of destroying you and those around you.
So, will you find a healthy partner? It’s totally up to you. If you are serious about not repeating past mistakes, don’t look for the right person. Let Jesus change you and when you become the right kind of person, the right kind of person for you will appear.

Will I Ever Find A Partner Who's Good For Me? (Part 2)

Remember - Wanting a healthy relationship is not the same as being ready to have a healthy relationship. That’s why the statement "I think he/she will be good for me" needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That person will be no better for you than you are for that person.
You might say at this point, but my boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife is worse than I am. And I will say, if that’s the case it is only because you have grown in maturity since you two met. When you met, you two were roughly the same.
And as a point of interest, let me ask you three simple questions.
(1) What do you look at when judging whether a group photograph, that you’re a part of, is good or not?
(2) Do you see yourself as being a better driver than most people you know? Or do you see yourself as being a worse driver than most people you know?
(3) Do you see yourself as being emotionally healthier and more mature than your partner or former partners? Or are you less healthy and less mature than your partner or former partners?
It is the very rare person for whom one’s perceived self-importance doesn’t show up in these questions. That is how out of touch we are with the reality of our corrupt nature. So what has this got to do with relationships? Well, it’s been my experience that most people who get a divorce are so blind to their own personality that they actually think that they’ll be good for someone else. The vast majority of divorced people think the marriage ended, not because they were miserable to live with, but that it’s the other person’s fault that the marriage ended. It’s human nature to not recognise our own corruption. The reason you don’t feel corrupt is the same reason a fish doesn’t feel wet. Because it is immersed. You won’t recognise your corruption until you find a way to step out of it and view it from a distance. You can’t know that you need to be rescued until you first recognise that you’re lost.
Getting back to relationships, let me give you an example of what I mean by "We are roughly the same as those we attract." I hear from clients on a fairly regular basis, "I’m not at all like my spouse. He/she had an affair and I would never do that." I can tell you that in virtually every case, with a little processing, it soon comes out that if given the opportunity to have some ‘payback sex’ soon after finding out about the affair, the person in my office would have jumped at the chance. You might counter with, "that’s different. That person had already been hurt." And I will say to you, "It is no different at all!"
What we are measuring here is the quality of character, and a healthy character is made of nothing less than emotional and spiritual health.
(1) An emotionally and spiritually healthy character is able to say "no" to emotionally damaging thoughts and behaviours no matter how badly that person wants what s/he wants.
(2) An emotionally and spiritually healthy character does not go looking for emotionally damaging thoughts and behaviours regardless of what’s happened to that person.
Let me continue with the example of sex. Lets assume that someone other than your spouse wants to have sex with you. If you are emotionally and spiritually healthy you would be asking yourself, "Why would I want to be with someone who is so cruel and so selfish that he/she would do that to my spouse?" On the other hand, if you as a married or c/l person are considering having sex with someone else (especially if that person is also married), then the question I would ask is, "Why would that person want to be with someone like you, who is so cruel that you would do that to either of your spouses?" What is it about you that is attracting such an unhealthy person to you?
If the answer for either of you is, "We find danger, cheating, and snubbing God and His desires for us appealing and exciting," or if you say that you don’t care about how your spouses feel, then I would also say that emotionally and spiritually you are both in a truly pitiful state. There is nothing in either of you from which you can build a healthy relationship. Don’t get me wrong. You may be able to have a relationship, but it will be no better than average, if that. Quality marriages don’t just happen by luck. It takes quality people to have a quality marriage. You don’t find the right person to have a good marriage. To have a good marriage each of you has to be the right person.
There are very few people who don’t know of someone, usually a woman, of whom it’s said, "if she could only find someone who would treat her right." And this is often said as she is dragging her children through the third or fourth lousy relationship with the next creep who is ready to move in with her.
I repeat, it is impossible for someone who is not good, to treat you good on a consistent long-term basis. That means that if you are not good, then even you do not know how to be good to yourself. Your character is rotting from the inside out and the stench of spiritual death hovers about you. That’s why you continue to choose self-harming behaviours, and that’s why you continue to reject healthy, life-nurturing behaviours, and beliefs; because you are unable to recognise them as such.
Consider the example of Actor / Comedian Groucho Marx. Mr. Marx recalls asking a woman, "Would you have sex with me for One Million dollars?"
She responded with, "Of Course!"
He then asked, "Would you have sex with me for One Dollar?"
To which she replied, "What kind of a person do you think I am?"
And his reply was, "We’ve already established what kind of a person you are. Now we’re just negotiating."
Who you are, counts!
Character and beliefs count!
Integrity counts!
What usually happens when two unhealthy people are attracted to each other, is that their sickness causes them to misinterpret the qualities that they think they see in the other person. As time wears on, their mistake becomes painfully obvious. What was once seen as fun-loving is now seen as irresponsible. Stable and structured becomes rigid and boring. Concerned becomes smothering. Caring becomes controlling. Outgoing becomes flirtatious. Carefree becomes undependable. What once attracted you to this person, now drives you away. But that isn’t his/her fault! When you grow tired of someone, or when that person hurts you, don’t blame that person for being the kind of person that you chose to be with. When you two met, it was your sickness that projected good qualities that were never there.
Let me give you an example that is extreme in number but typical in nature.
"I will never marry again." This was said by Barbara Hutton (who was at the time heiress to the multi million-dollar Woolworth fortune) after divorcing her second husband.
"I will never marry again. You can’t go on being a fool forever." This was said by Barbara Hutton after divorcing her third husband.
"This is positively my final marriage." This was said by Barbara Hutton after marrying her sixth husband.
"He is the composite of all my previous husbands’ good qualities, without any of their bad qualities. I have never been so happy in my life." This was said by Barbara Hutton after marrying her seventh husband. Two years later Barbara Hutton divorced her seventh husband.
End of Part 2

Will I Ever Find A Partner Who's Good For Me? (Part 1)

That depends on you. And here’s why.
. Emotional Sickness is attracted to Emotional Sickness.
. Emotional Health is attracted to Emotional Health.
. You will not ever attract a partner who is markedly healthier than you are.
. If you want to attract an emotionally and spiritually healthy partner, then you must become an emotionally and spiritually healthy person yourself.

You might be one of those people who got out of an unhealthy marriage, and then you said, "Never again!" But it did happen again. And maybe it happened again after that. So you wonder, "How could that have happened when I was so determined to never let another person into my life who didn’t respect me? And how could that have happened, when I fully intended to find someone healthy?" The reason it happens again and again is because it doesn’t matter what you intend to happen. If your character hasn’t changed significantly, and if your values and morals haven’t changed a great deal, then nothing else will ever change and you will be with an unhealthy person again. It can’t be any other way.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have had, or that you will have the same types of problems as a former or future partner. What it means is that you are healthy or sick, to the same degree that someone who is attracted to you is healthy or sick. For example, lets say that a husband ignores his wife and is attracted to and flirts with teenage girls. I think we’d all agree that this person is emotionally unwell. However, I suggest to you, that the wife, who says nothing, rationalises away his behaviours and does nothing to protect her daughters, and their friends who have had to push off this man’s advances is just as unwell as her husband. It’s just that she is sick in a different way.
Or let’s take someone who is living with an alcoholic. People in the field of addictions have all heard that "the family gets sick along with the alcoholic." Well, the children will become sick, but the spouse of the alcoholic was sick to begin with. That is why s/he chose someone like that, usually with the goal of loving (read controlling) the alcoholic better.
I wish this could be a cheery little post that leaves you feeling all warm inside and confident about the future. But the reality of the situation is this. When you have rebelled due to sin in your life, and when you have ignored Jesus because it looked like a life without Him would be more fun, it is in your relationships that this damage, that this flaw, will show up most clearly. And the consequences can last a lifetime.
In order to keep your children from suffering any more than they already have, it’s time that you listen to Jesus’ commands about relationships, marriage and divorce, and don’t go down this road again.
The reason that I bring up divorce is that divorce and broken common-law relationships are a sign that something is terribly wrong in a person’s life. It’s a sign that there is something emotionally and spiritually wrong, certainly in one and probably in both people in the marriage. Divorce is a sign that either you have trouble judging character in others, and/or that your character isn’t suited to marriage. When God says don’t remarry after divorce, it’s because He is trying to protect you from more pain by asking you to not rely on the false god of relationships for your value, worth, security and belonging. Unfortunately, we think we know more than our Creator, and so we repeatedly try to prove that God is wrong.
By now you might be wondering what I’m talking about when I use the terms emotionally damaged, or emotional health. After all, you don’t feel damaged and you might even feel healthy. In fact some of your friends are much worse off than you are. Right? Despite how healthy you believe you are, based on the Bible and upon my observations from counselling, I view Emotional Health this way:
. You are able to have stability in relationships.
. You have honesty and integrity, ie. you don’t lie; not just ‘big’ lies, but any lie.
. You do not have to do what you want to do. In other words, you are able to say "no" to something wrong or harmful, no matter how much you want it. The opposite is just as true. Emotional health is when you’re able to make yourself do a good job at something that you don’t want to do.
. You are able to distinguish wrong, harmful, life-destroying behaviours from good, healthy, life-enhancing behaviours. For example, do you actually know whether living together before marriage is damaging or constructive for a future marriage? How about stealing a little bit from a big company? Is that always harmful or is it sometimes OK? Do you know the answer?
. Your inside matches your outside. Who you are in private is who you are in public.
. You abide by a Moral Code not of your own creation, ie. right and wrong are not relative to the situation.
. You don’t need to be in a relationship to feel whole and OK about yourself.
. You are responsible and mature in thought, word and deed.
A person with these qualities will not attract, nor will he/she be attracted to an emotionally unhealthy person. An emotionally, spiritually and psychologically unhealthy person will find the kind of person just described above to be boring and unattractive. Unhealthy people view kindness and goodness as being weak. For example, an unhealthy person will try to provoke an angry response or a rejecting response in her/his marriage partner. And when the negative response isn’t forthcoming, the unhealthy person will view the other as a wimp.
And before you say anything about the above list, YES these kinds of people do exist. If you don’t know any, then you need to change your circle of friends. The reason that these points are evidence of emotional health is because I never see these kinds of people in counselling for relationship issues. There is no need for them to come for help because they have peace in their lives; they know the Giver of peace on a personal level and they obey Him out of love and appreciation for what He has done in their lives.
When looking for a future partner, instead of looking for the quality characteristics listed above, an unhealthy person might say something like, "Can she dance?" "Is s/he cute?" "Does he like to party?" "What kind of a car does he have?" "Does she make a lot of money?" "Is he popular with others?" "He’s kind of wild and dangerous, I like that." They won’t care one bit if this is a person of integrity. Instead their lives display a philosophy of "show me some attention and I’m yours."
Developing a character of integrity is extremely important IF you want a quality relationship. On the other hand, developing a character of integrity is a side-benefit of receiving a healed, forgiven, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. History is filled with examples of the worst human beings having their character being completely turned around after giving their lives to Jesus.
Regardless of all that, the facts of relationships are these: -
. As far as you are from emotional health, so too will someone be who you are attracted to.
. As far as you are from emotional health, so too will someone be who is attracted to you.
. As far as you are from spiritual health, so too that person.

. As far as you are from being ready for a healthy relationship, so too that person.
End of Part 1

Friday, December 29, 2006

Jack Kevorkian Changes Course

In a blistering tirade, sent via text message to the Portland Herald, soon to be paroled Jack Kevorkian lambasted those who "are bound to start pestering me to kill them." Telling them to "bugger off" and to "get a life, er like you know what I mean," Kevorkian continued, "I’m sick of these people waiting until they are unable to even take a sip of water or wipe their ass before deciding to kill themselves. "These are not stupid people," Kevorkian ranted, "it's poor planning, plain and simple." "Give your head a shake folks. No matter how much I might want to do it, I'm supposed to try to not kill any more people once I get out of this place. If you know you aren’t going to want a natural death, don’t wait until you can’t use your hands, stick a gun in your mouth today and pull the trigger. Besides, do you think one more year of living is going to be that special? If you know your legs are going to give out on you by March, jump off a building this morning while you can still climb a flight of stairs. Do you think your children will experience any less pain, and guilt eight months from now than they would today? If you know that humans only have value while they can earn an income - if you know that life only counts when you’re attractive - if you know that experiencing pain shouldn’t have to be tolerated by anyone - if you know that only pleasant parts of life are worth experiencing - if you know that old age will give you the creeps, why even wait until you’re diagnosed with something, kill yourself tonight. Come to think of it this afternoon would be better. Who knows, you might be in a car accident tonight, and bump your head. Think about it! Tomorrow you might be incapable of killing yourself. Do it right after lunch. No - sooner! You might have a stroke within the next minute and drool for the next forty years. Grab the butter knife and slash your wrists. You can bleed to death while you finish reading these words of wisdom. And since only the beautiful, rich, and intelligent are worth having around, ask the folks next door, the ones who have that little girl with some kind of disability if they would mind you killing her while you’re in the mood." Quickly typing, "The pigs are at my cell door," Kevorkian ended his message with what he said would be his new moto: "Plan For Tomorrow - Kill Yourself Today."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There's No Such Thing As Self-hate

"Clearly the greater a person’s self-esteem and self-love, the more disappointment there will be if abilities and performance are not comparable. No one hates himself, but he may hate his circumstances or appearance or lack of ability. The very fact that we dislike our appearance or lament our inability or become upset when people or circumstances cause us pain is proof that we do love ourselves. For if we did not esteem ourselves we should not care, and if we hated ourselves we would be glad when things go against us." Hunt and McMahon (1985)
I remember a client coming to a therapy group that I used to run. This was a young man who, until that day, consistently stated that he hated himself. The other people in the group would nod their heads in understanding, because we’ve all been taught that our problems arise from not loving or esteeming ourselves enough. Well, one day this young man came to group and stated, "I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love himself." The other men and women looked at him like he was nuts, and a couple of them said as much. But this very insightful person asked the legitimate question, "If I hated myself, or even disliked myself, what am I doing here, trying to make my life better?" As we continued to process this issue, the people in the group, with a high degree of self-honesty, began to discover things like, "If I disliked someone and his wife left him, I’d think, right on! The jerk deserves it. But when my wife left me I was devastated." And, "If I thought little of, or looked down on someone and she lost her job, I’d silently think to myself, good. I’m glad. But when I lost my job I felt like I was really treated unfairly, that I deserved better."
Of course some brought up the point that, people who harm themselves physically are proof positive that true self-hate exists. However if you explore the "whys" with people who have burned or cut, or gouged themselves, you will consistently find that they were (1) trying to distract themselves from emotional pain, or (2) find release from worry, or (3) find a sense of freedom from control, or (4) they derive a sense of pleasure from self-inflicted pain. It lets them know they’re alive.
This drive for happiness, or relief from emotional pain is present in every behaviour from eating your favourite cereal, to going to or, staying home from the movies, and yes even slashing your arms or drinking too much.
"Out of self-love we not only do good things, but all sorts of injurious things to ourselves and to others: We commit adultery, we lie, we steal, we eat too much, and even commit suicide" (Adams, 1986).
Blaise Pascal, one of the greatest thinkers of all time once said,
"All people seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it is the same desire in both, attended with a different view. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every person, even of those who hang themselves."
Regardless of what happens to us, our core of self-love (self-protection) remains firmly intact. When challenged by abuse, or neglect, or rejection, the fundamental characteristic of self-protection will react. When challenged vigorously it will react dramatically, either aggressively or passively. Whether consciously, or subconsciously, we choose our behaviours in an effort to protect ourselves, because we love ourselves. I can think of no exceptions.
While trying to understand this concept, one person argued that he thought so little of himself as a teenager, that he would cross the street to avoid talking to some of the popular kids if he saw them coming. That sounds like a genuine case of low self-esteem. However the reason he crossed the street was to protect himself from possible or expected embarrassment. You do that for someone that you love, not for someone you dislike or hold in low esteem. And you sure don't do it for someone that you hate.
The fact is, it is just not human nature to protect those we dislike or especially those we hate. We always, always, always do those things that we believe, will protect us, because we love ourselves. That is why the statement, "I hate or I dislike myself," should be changed to a more accurate, "I hate or dislike what I do." And thank God for that, because we can change what we do." As well, the statement, "I don’t love myself" should be changed to, "I have never learned how to love myself in a way that doesn’t make my life worse than it already is."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jenna Jameson announces much anticipate followup to "How To Make Love Like A Porn Star" (satire)

Jenna Jameson announced today that she had completed the "natural sequel" to her runaway best seller "How To Make Love Like a Porn Star." In a press conference held this morning in L.A., Jameson stated that "How To Make Love Last Like a Porn Star" will be ready for January 15th release. With her latest boyfriend by her side Jameson cooed that this book would reveal the secrets of having a "really short long-term relationship." Whether you simply aren’t marriage material, or a really poor judge of character or just a whore who wants to make a lot of money, Jameson claimed these secrets can be applied by nearly everyone. "In fact I can’t even claim these tactics as my mine and mine alone. They’ve been taught to fans by almost everyone in the entertainment industry for decades. I’ve just compiled them in an easy to learn format." Jamison said that if people didn’t think she had the brains to write such a book they should just look to friends like, Britney, Jude, Kate, Brad and "a whole lot of other Jennifers who have been imitating my example for years. These people’s philosophy of life is proof positive that you can destroy relationships and promote oneself at the same time." When asked by one reporter, how people could know if they were in love, J.J. as she likes to be called replied, "Like, that’s easy. If the person that you want to fuck is cute, and rich and desired by others then, like, you’re in love." To make sure that it's true love and not just infatuation Jenna advised people to look for telltale signs of love like, possessive controlling behaviours, or the sometimes hard to recognise greed / need / lust combination. She cautioned that true love is jealous and obsessive and absent of the pseudo freedom promoted by amateurs. "Of course love is sex but most of all true love is based on impulse and defies all rational self-control. Really all you need to find love, especially in my business, is to be emotionally stunted, sexually disoriented, morally bankrupt, relationally retarded and spiritually deluded."
One Canadian reporter stated that he and his wife of 34 years didn’t agree with her beliefs nor with her lifestyle. He said he enjoyed something called the "1st Corinthians 13 Love." According to this reporter, he and his wife have the kind of marriage whereby they understand love as being patient and kind. He said that they had a love that does not envy or boast, that it isn’t proud or rude or self-seeking or easily angered. He said that he and his wife’s love keeps no record of wrongs and doesn’t delight in evil. "It always rejoices in the truth," he continued, "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres." When he finished by saying that theirs was the kind of love that never fails, Jameson responded with, "Huh?"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Science, God

Studying Science while excluding the topic of a Creator God, is like talking about the Theory of Relativity and not being allowed to mention Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Government and Theocracy

There is a saying, "All that is needed for evil to succeed, is for Godly men and women to do nothing." That is absolutely true, except if it means that Godly women and men must gain power in government in an attempt to legislate morality. We don’t need Christians in positions of power to change our communities. We need powerful Christians living out their faith in their communities; loving their families and their neighbours as themselves. The Church has never needed a friendly government to expand God’s sphere of grace, and the Christian individual has never needed personal safety to know, experience and then absorb Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This Fruit of the Spirit, which is present in every mature Christian, can be reflected to our unsaved neighbours so that they too might be drawn to the love and mercy and grace and salvation that comes only through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Misunderstanding Jesus

People misunderstand Jesus in innumerable ways. One special way is in seeing Jesus as an unapproachable King. Jesus says obey Me. Jesus says worship Me. Jesus says serve Me, and people, those who do not know Jesus in the fullest sense, see Him as egotistical, demanding and aloof. What those people don’t understand however, is that Jesus tells us to do those things because having that kind of contact with our Creator is what makes us fully alive. Jesus is Love and because of His love He wants what’s best for us. Like a lightbulb lying on the counter, we do not begin to fully shine until we are screwed in to the socket of our Lord and Saviour. We were meant to fit into Jesus’ plan for us and when we do, when we treat Jesus with love, when we serve Him and obey Him, that is when we experience, really experience the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The possession of these characteristics, often combined under the word "happiness," is determined by a spiritual law; a law as observable as gravity. This is not a fabricated happiness. This is not a happiness for which one needs to strive. It is not a happiness based on the absence of difficulty. It’s simply a fact that when Jesus is the most important aspect of one’s life, there will be the kind of joy whereby one can say with the apostle Paul, "I have learned the secret of contentment in all situations." Without an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus, the only happiness that one can attain is one that is brought about by circumstance. What a sad and pitiful way to live.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Is There Anything Wrong With Slavery?

"all of the specific references to slavery in the Bible seem to sanction it.
This is a statement that you can read in a recent post. Either this person is Biblically illiterate and is simply throwing out statements about which he knows nothing at all. Or, I would have to suppose that he is deliberately trying to mislead those who would love to believe what he’s just said.
It’s true that slavery in New Testament times, and Old Testament times for that matter, was a fact of life. But it certainly wasn’t acceptable for Paul, Jesus or any of the other New Testament writers. So why didn’t Jesus spend His time on earth trying to rid the world of this despicable practice? Well, He did, in a way. In fact He brought freedom from the effects of slavery to any and to all who wanted that freedom. You see, Christianity is about a relationship with one’s Creator that brings freedom despite circumstance. Jesus says that a life of integrity, meaning, context and purpose can be had no matter what one’s station in life, no matter what one’s race, no matter what one’s nationality, no matter what one’s gender. In one particular passage, Paul is addressing slavery when he says, "Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you . . ."
I suppose that if you stop there, you could have the beginnings of a case that Jesus thought slavery was no big deal. However Paul goes on to say, "although if you can gain your freedom, do so" 1st Corinthians chapter 7. Paul is saying, ‘slavery is not good, escape it you can; but neither is slavery the most important thing in this life’. Paul is saying, ‘don’t be distracted from the most important thing in life, by something that is less important’.
‘There are no references in the Bible that don’t sanction slavery’? Hardly! In fact because of the way that slavery is usually carried out, Paul announces in 1st Timothy 1:10 that 'those who take part in the trading of slaves will deserve eternity in hell'. The reason I say, "The way that slavery is usually carried out," is because slavery in ancient Hebrew society served as an important social safety net. There wasn’t any welfare system. There wasn’t any unemployment insurance. Many times, the only way to feed oneself and one’s family was to sell oneself into slavery. Nevertheless, human nature led back then, and has led right up to the present day to horrendous abuses. This is the world that we have chosen to create for ourselves.
Since all people are desperately wicked, desperately wicked people are all God has to work with. That is why He laid down guidelines for the ‘given’ practice of slavery in ancient Hebrew culture. He is saying to those who lived in a society where slavery was normal practice, "Masters, treat your slaves in the same way [with respect]. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him, Ephesians 6:9. And Colossians 4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Is slavery as it is usually carried out supported or sanctioned in the Bible? Absolutely not. Is it accepted as a fact of life? Yes. God has accepted, for a time, the world that we have chosen for ourselves. And to that end, just like cancer, earthquakes, war and other events that bring difficulty in our lives, God provides a means of coping in a healthy manner with things that can’t be changed.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Moral Struggle

After working with thousands and thousands and thousands of clients, it's become obvious that when you find a Christian who is focussed on the negative behaviours of others, you will also find that there is a huge moral struggle going on inside that Christian. I can think of no exceptions.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Anger, Adultery and Stupid Christianity

I read on, an online confession site, about a person who was confessing his anger. The root of his anger, he claimed was Christianity with it’s "stupid teachings." What particularly irked this person was Jesus’ teaching on lust, or more specifically adultery. "If anyone has looked at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Being ignorant of how human beings function, the confessor described such a statement as being, among other things "Unhuman."
My first thought was, how can someone who sounds so dumb, get it so right? Not looking at women with lust, and seeing them instead as human beings with value and worth far beyond their exterior is indeed "unhuman." In fact it’s supernatural. It’s a supernatural gift, from God, given to those who believe in Jesus and trust Him for their daily walk. Based on simple observation of the men in our society, it’s easy to see that without the Holy Spirit to guide them, many if not most men see women, real or fantasised, as little more than a repository for their ejaculation. That is what’s considered normal by the writer of this email. And it’s not just him. In our society pornography is "normal" and accepted. Look at any magazine rack and you’ll see that because sex has been removed from the context of faithful relationship, all that is left for people to focus on is technique.
For men, fantasy relationships are often preferred over real one’s. As C. S. Lewis said, "When these men say that they "want" a woman, a woman is exactly what they don’t want." They are completely unable to relate to women in a real manner. A fantasy is as much as they can handle. What’s worse is that far too many women are willing to debase themselves in all manner of ways, simply in a desperate attempt to gain money and attention from men. And that too is normal human behaviour because left to our original state, we use others and allow others to use us. We demean and destroy the true character and worth of other human beings, particularly women, for no other reason than to feed our lust. Yes, this person was right-on about the teachings of Jesus coming from another dimension, a dimension of love, caring, and respect - a dimension where those who are created in the very image of God are deemed to be worth more, far more than their exterior appeal.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


I have heard from so many clients who say something like, ‘I wish my husband would become the spiritual leader in our home.’ Not only is it a sad commentary on we Christian men, it’s an inaccurate commentary. It’s inaccurate because, whether for better or worse, we as Christian husbands are the spiritual leaders. It is not something we choose to do or not to do. We might be good leaders or bad leaders, but spiritual leadership is our God-given role and there is no escaping it.
In our home at this present time, there is myself and Wendy and five kids under six years old. It can be little chaotic. Let’s say I wake up in the morning and before getting out of bed I silently pray to God, thanking Him for the day etc. And then I ask Him to bring peace into our home that day. I ask Him to give us His love for one another. I ask Him to help us be kind and merciful and compassionate toward one another. And let’s say that while I’m praying, Wendy gets up and starts to get the kids ready for the day.
Remember, I’ve asked for God’s help in having a good family. Because God loves peace and kindness and mercy, this is a prayer that I know would be in God’s will for our lives. But what if, while Wendy is working with all these little ones, I stay in bed. Instead of getting up and pulling my share of the load I do nothing to help get the kids fed and clean up after. Instead, I roll over and tune out all the noise. Guess what? If God answers my prayer with a yes, it will only be out of sheer grace for Wendy and mercy for
me. And I know from experience (he says with guilt) that if I'm not there, there is more often war than peace.
The fact is, the man very often sets the tone for the day for the whole family. To want to be a Christian husband and father is a huge responsibility. To the extent that the man fails to fulfill his role in the Christian home, to that extent will his prayers fall on silence at the other end. This is not to say that the wife has no effect on how a family turns out. God has worked through millions and millions of women in the absence of responsible men. Generally though, as the husband goes in his spiritual walk to a large extent so goes the family.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Christianity is all about what you can't do! It takes away your freedom.

When I make it my goal to place my faith in Jesus, to obey Jesus; and when I have a healed, forgiven, personal relationship with Jesus then I lose all my freedom:
. I can’t know how it feels to give in to thoughts and behaviours that make my life worse.
. I can’t know the confusion of living a life where right and wrong are relative to the situation; where I make my own rules based on a ‘wisdom’ that’s repeatedly failed me.
. I can’t know the uncertainty that comes with lying whenever it suits and having to remember my lies, and cover up my lies by telling more lies.
. I can’t know what it’s like to die with uncertainty over where I’ll spend eternity.
. I can’t live a life where I don’t experience and enjoy unconditional love - daily.
. I can’t know what it’s like to destroy my family by cheating on my spouse.
. I can’t become a bitter, angry, vengeful, complaining, unforgiving person.
. I can’t develop the cold heart that makes me take advantage of people.
. I can’t carry resentments toward those who have hurt me in the past.
. I can’t get caught up in worrying about what tomorrow might bring.
. I can’t feel frustration over how people aren’t treating me right.
. I can’t know what it’s like to not have hope for the future.
. I can’t know what it’s like to not have more than I need.
. I can’t know what it’s like to not have purpose in life.
. I can’t know what it’s like to not have joy in my soul.
. I can’t bring home sexually transmitted diseases.
. I can’t go through the heartache of failed affairs.
. I can’t have a lousy marriage or get divorced.
. I can’t lose my license for impaired driving.
. I can’t know what it’s like to be afraid.
. I can’t struggle with drug addiction.
. I can’t be an unspiritual person.
. I can’t feel alienated from God.
. I can’t carry a load of guilt.
. I can’t go to Hell!
. I can’t experience what it’s like to not know for certain that I have value and worth.
. I can't experience what it's like to not know for certain that I have security and belonging.
This value and worth, security and belonging are not based on who I am, or on what others think about me. They're based on a love so great that my Creator died for me to pay for my sins. That’s the kind of love I can trust. It will never leave me or fail me.
The freedom to experience all this earthly crud has been taken from me, not because of my goodness, but because of God’s grace. Because of that:
. I’m forced to bask in God’s love and mercy and peace and grace every day of my life
. I’m forced to enjoy the complete and total and eternal forgiveness for my sins
. I’m forced to become aware of, and enjoy new mercies each and every day
. I’m forced to know what it’s like to be free from guilt
. I’m forced to spend eternity in Heaven with my Creator

Are You On The Bus?

John knows that the bus is about to leave, but he refuses to step out of the shelter and into the rain to do what it takes to get on the bus. As the bus drives away, Bob, who’s just coming into the shelter, tries his hand at small talk. "I hope that wasn’t your bus" he says with more of a giggle than a laugh. John cheerfully and with surprising confidence says, "Actually that was my bus. I’m on my way."
"What do you mean you’re on your way? You’re still here."
"Nope. I’m on the bus," counters John.
"You sound very sincere in your beliefs," Bob says politely, "but how can you be here, and on the bus at the same time?"
"Well, I’m not sure," ponders John. "I just know that I must be on the bus because a loving bus driver would never leave me standing in hellish weather when he knows that I want to go to the Shopping Mall at the end of his route."
"Did you make any effort to accept the ride that was being offered by the bus driver?"
"No, not really. But I didn’t cause any trouble while I was standing in this shelter either. That’s why I get to be on the bus - because I’m an example of a respectful, decent bus passenger."
"But to be a bus passenger, even a decent bus passenger, you have to actually do what it takes to get on a bus!"
"You’re too narrow-minded Bob. In my belief system, if the bus driver loves me, he’ll ensure that I simply appear at the mall, even if I don’t want to ride with him."
It’s difficult to believe that anyone could be as deluded as John. On the other hand, you’ve probably heard someone comment - "A loving God would never allow a good person to go to hell when He knows that person would want to go to heaven." This thought process is more like childhood fantasy than adult reason.
The belief system of those who tell God what He can and cannot do, seems to go something like this. As long as I try to be a good person, and as long as I’m not as bad as some other people that I know, I can choose to worship any god of my own creation, or no god at all. I can decide whether God is right or wrong on any given topic, based on popular opinion. Not only can I dabble in Buddhism or Native religion, I can praise others for inventing their own ‘spirituality’, and still expect Jesus to say to me, "That’s OK. Even though you’ve rejected My offer of salvation, and encouraged your children to reject Me also, I’m going to ignore your desire to live without Me during your life on earth, and make you live with Me in heaven for eternity."
No doubt, this kind of wishful thinking is very appealing. The difficult reality is, heaven and hell are Christian (taught by Jesus) concepts. You cannot be a Christian and not be a Christian at the same time. And the fact is, trying to be a good person does not make someone a Christian. If that were the case, then there would be Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and even atheists who were Christians. There is no logic to that kind of thinking.
A Christian is someone who believes and acts upon what Jesus Christ taught about Himself, about life, death, sin, forgiveness and the resurrection (His and ours). Jesus taught that a follower of His is a person who depends upon Jesus alone for salvation. He taught that a Christian is someone who depends upon what Jesus calls His Word (The Bible), and upon His Spirit for guidance and strength in daily living.
Beyond that definition, the single biggest difference between what Jesus taught and what other religious leaders have taught, is that Jesus made it perfectly clear that there is nothing that we can DO to merit salvation. If we could earn our salvation, then Jesus died for nothing!
All other religions, and even some cults that call themselves Christian, have "Good Works" and/or the observance of ritual as a base for one’s entrance into their concept of paradise. However, the Bible tells us in:
John 8:24 - Jesus said, "For unless you believe that I am the Son of God, the Messiah, you will die in your sins."
Romans 3:27, 28 - Our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is we are saved, by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.
1st Thessalonians 1:8,9 - The Lord Jesus will bring judgement on those who do not wish to know God and those who reject His plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of His power.
These verses literally scream for our attention. The basis for what they say is this. God is completely Holy. Nothing less than complete Holiness can come into His presence. Jesus taught that we are separated from His Holiness by our sinful nature, and neither religion, nor a moral life, nor some concept of spirituality can fix that. In other words, we can never be ‘good enough’ to be good enough for heaven (Romans 3:22,23).
Think of it this way. A surgeon, will discard a scalpel that has a single, tiny blemish on it just as readily as she would discard a scalpel that is completely dirty. Or ask yourself, "How many pubic hairs would I have to find in my meal at a restaurant before I wouldn’t eat it?" You see, the size of the dirt is not the issue. The issue is the presence of dirt. We are always repulsed by dirt when we expect to find cleanliness. Just so, our sinful nature is unacceptable to God. It cannot come into His presence. Sin is intolerable in the presence of a perfectly Holy God. That’s why the Bible explains to us that the result of sin, the wages of sin, the consequences of sin, the cost of sin, is banishment from God. But there is good news folks! Out of His enormous love, Jesus paid the penalty of sin for us. Our part of the bargain is to step out of our self-created shelter and accept that payment on His terms.
To those of you who complain that religion is being rammed down your throat, ask yourself this, "Would I rather that Jesus warned me about Hell now, or after it’s too late?"
This is serious stuff! If what Jesus taught about eternity is true, then making the decision to accept Him or reject Him as our Saviour has got to be the single most important decision that you and I will ever make. And it’s urgent. Strokes, fires, heart attacks, falling, car accidents, violent storms; Statistics show that for most of us, our ability to make a decision for Jesus will end suddenly, with little or no warning.
As people reflect on the suddenness of death, we hear them say things like, "I was just talking with him yesterday," or "I just saw her this morning." That’s why we are told in the Bible "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. Turn to the Lord, and the Lord will have mercy on you"(Isaiah 55:6,7).
You can’t just stand in what you think to be a neutral position.
A decision is being made even as you read this.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

What Would You Do? Evangelise or Let'm Die?

I read over and over how it’s wrong to be evangelical in one’s beliefs. But everybody does it. "Oh man, you’ve got to see that movie." "You should stop eating meat!" "I think that people should take the bus instead of using their cars." "You should just accept that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality." "You should stop smoking cigarettes." You should try smoking pot." "Vote for this person and not for that person." And on and on it goes. People feel strongly about these issues and have no qualms voicing their opinions. Since I believe the claims of Jesus, why can’t I present what He taught without being thought of as doing something wrong? And while we're at it, ask yourself why listening to the case for Jesus feels like pressure and / or offensive while hearing about Buddha or Native Spirituality or anything else feels sophisticated. Regardless of that, here’s what I think is going on.
Let’s say there is a pond on my property. And let’s say that we’ve had a few really cold nights. While there is ice on the pond, it isn’t very thick. Along comes a guy and his little boy. They’re carrying skates and are heading toward my pond. I yell out to them that they shouldn’t even think of skating because the ice isn’t thick enough. The guy tells me, "This is my life and I’m free to do what I want to do. And for what it’s worth, I happen to believe that the ice is thick enough. So quit trying to shove your beliefs down my throat!"
"Yes, I understand that it’s your life" I reply. "But I know that the ice isn’t thick enough. You’ll fall through and drown."
Now I ask you. If I continue to caution him, am I being insensitive to his beliefs? If I put a hand on his shoulder and try to stop him, am I being narrow minded? After all, he's as certain that the ice is fine as I am certain that the ice is too thin. If I let him go and do what he believes is best, am I being this really cool open-minded free-thinker? Which course of action means that I love the person more?
You see, I believe with all my heart that Jesus is trustworthy and what He teaches needs to be taken seriously; more seriously than anything else in the world. So what should I and other Christians do? We believe that if you don’t heed Jesus’ warning, you are going to fall through the ice so to speak. What would you do if you were in my place?

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Are You Serious?

While I’ve never had a very refined concept of hell, I’ve known enough to be embarrassed for those who have said profoundly stupid things like, "I’d rather be in hell than heaven ‘cause hell is where all the parties will be." Ya right. On the other hand, I’ve usually thought of hell ‘simply’ as a place where people are forever separated from the presence of God for eternity. And the Bible says that is a true statement. However, hell is so much more than that. Jesus taught "If you do not believe that I am who I say that I am, you will die in your sins." He taught that someday very soon, all of those who have refused to acknowledge Jesus as Lord during their life-time on earth will live in:
. The unrelieved absence of Love
. The complete absence of Good
. The total, all pervasive presence of evil
People who have chosen Hell over Heaven will spend eternity in:
. Absolute fear
. Unmitigated hatred
. Total darkness
. Unrelieved sorrow
. Unequivocal alone-ness
. Absolute shame
. Unbounded regret
. Undiluted violence
. Sheer panic
. Unrelenting dissatisfaction
. All encompassing meanness
. Overwhelming stench
. Total betrayal
. There will be no freedom from pain, only total, all consuming, overwhelming pain.
The worst conditions on earth don’t come close.
Hell is for people who have not kept the first and greatest commandment to Love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and mind. Hell is for people who loudly proclaim their right to every vile act imaginable.
Right now, even as I write this, millions of souls are suffering a special kind of torment as they are in a hell that they refused to believe in. Their special torment is that they convinced spouses, children, friends, students and other ‘open-minded’ people that hell didn’t exist. And now there is no way to turn back the clock. There is no way to warn their loved-ones about the horrendous consequences of following that error. On the other hand, Jesus himself said, that even the evidence of Him rising from the dead would not be enough to convince most people to stop living as though God and eternity did not exist.
Why is that seen as wrong to warn people about this fact of life?

Friday, December 1, 2006

God's Mercy

Isn’t mercy a wonderful thing? Before we’re Christians, we think that the reason God shows Himself to us and the reason that He seems to be pursuing us is so He can catch us doing something wrong and then punish us. In reality, and this is something that we only find out after asking Jesus to become Lord of our lives, God pursues us so relentlessly because He loves us so much. He wants to pour out His love, and His blessings on us and He can’t do that to the degree that He wants when we’re busy running from Him. In fact, any punishment that we receive in this life comes to us during the act of running from God. The ultimate gift comes from allowing ourselves to be caught and the ultimate punishment comes from running all the way to hell in an attempt to avoid a relationship with our Creator.


Why is it that anarchists, or at least the ones that make themselves heard, always live in stable democracies? And why can’t you pay them enough money to go a live in the utopia they preach, those countries where anarchy is a daily reality?