choices


I keep hearing on the news about how polarized and divided our country is and how bad it is that this is the current state of affairs. If you are distressed about this I encourage you to look at it from a broader perspective, i.e. –

1. Our country was so polarized over slavery in the 1800s that we actually divided into two nations and went to war with each other.

2. Our country was so polarized in the 1930s about participating in the war in Europe that Roosevelt delayed entering the war even though he knew it was the right thing to do. Perhaps if the United States had stepped in sooner, the war would have ended sooner and fewer people would have died.

3. We were also very polarized in the 1950s, ‘60s and 70s over civil rights and the Vietnam War. These divisions led to numerous acts of civil disobedience, demonstrations and riots in which countless individuals were injured and/or killed.

Our country survived all of these very trying times, and we will survive this one.

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This post is a follow-up to my 9/22 post, plumb line.

Excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

In keeping with the culture of the time, Huldah…was identified as both a prophet and a wife when first introduced in Scripture. This would seem to indicate that she successfully lived out both her role as prophet and her role as wife…

When considering what exceptional women Deborah and Huldah were in light of the culture in which they lived, it is important not to overlook what exceptional men Barak and Josiah were. Both men were unique figures in the history of Israel due to their willingness to submit to the leadership of a woman…

Josiah intentionally seeking spiritual counsel from a female prophet during a time when four male prophets (Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habbakuk) were living is nothing short of amazing. What is even more amazing is that King Josiah not only sought the counsel of a woman, he acted on it, instituting very radical reforms. Josiah must have seen something in Huldah similar to what Barak saw in Deborah. Scot McKnight, in The Blue Parakeet, states “Huldah is not chosen because no men were available; she is chosen because she is truly exceptional among the prophets.”

“MY FAMILY IS NOT DYSFUNCTIONAL!” When I hear individuals vehemently make this statement I want to reply “How do you know? Are you familiar with the characteristics of a dysfunctional family?” As a trained marriage and family therapist with 27 years professional experience, I am familiar with these characteristics. I have a plumb line regarding this issue.

What is a plumb line? “It is an instrument or a tool, a cord with a lead bob attached to one end, used to determine perpendicularity, the depth of water, etc.” (dictionary.com)

“The instrument has been used since at least the time of ancient Egypt to ensure that constructions are ‘plumb’, or vertical…Until the modern age, plumb-bobs were used on most tall structures to provide vertical datum lines for the building measurements. A section of the scaffolding would hold a plumb line, which was centered over a datum mark on the floor. As the building proceeded upward, the plumb line would also be taken higher, still centered on the datum. Many cathedral spires, domes and towers still have brass datum marks inlaid into their floors, which signify the center of the structure above… Early skyscrapers used heavy plumb-bobs, hung on wire in their elevator shafts.” (Wikipedia)

Do you have a plumb line? In the context I am using it here, a plumb line is a standard or a set of guidelines by which one can live one’s life. My own personal plumb line is the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’s most famous sermon, found in the gospel of Matthew 5:1 – 7:29. In this sermon Jesus touched on every conceivable area of life, giving us clear guidelines by which we can choose to live.

Josiah is a biblical example of an individual who made a choice to live by God’s plumb line. Josiah was ruler over the people of Judah from 641 until 609 B.C. The choice he made to live according to God’s plumb line not only affected his life, it also affected the lives of the people in his kingdom.

Sometime during his reign, a priest “found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses” (2 Chronicles 34: 14). It was found while repairs were being done on the Temple and is believed to be what later became the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Old Testament. The book, which was in the form of a scroll at the time, was taken to King Josiah and read to him. “When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair” (2 Chronicles 34: 19). He had not realized until then just how far off track, how out of sync with God’s commands, his people really were. He then sent some of his most trusted advisors “to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum” (2 Chronicles 34: 22). When the king’s advisors told him what Huldah said, he instituted major religious reforms throughout his kingdom.

The full account of this event is told in 2 Kings Chapter 22 and 2 Chronicles Chapter 34.

If you have a vision for a book and a passion for writing it, you will either give birth to it or be miserable. It’s like the feeling a pregnant woman has right at the end of the pregnancy when she wants to scream out loud “get this baby out of me!” (Speaking from personal experience). No one else can write that book because no one else has the same mix of life experiences and personality characteristics that you have. More importantly, no one else has the vision and the passion for it. Remember though, writing a book, getting it published, and marketing it is HARD work. So…….DON’T GIVE UP & DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A MISTAKE!

Writers who didn’t give up:

• Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers.
• Max Lucado’s first book was rejected by 14 publishers.
• Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers.
Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 140 times.
• Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was rejected by 38 publishers.
• James Joyce’s Dubliner was rejected 18 times and took nine years before it reached publication.
• J.K. Rowling’s first manuscript, Harry Potter, was rejected by 12 publishers before one was willing to give her a chance. That publisher, however, told her to get a day job because she had little chance of making money writing children’s books.

Writers who initially self-published:

Irma Rombauer spent half her life savings in 1931 to print copies of The Joy of Cooking. Five years later Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights to her cookbook. It has now sold over 18 million copies.

Beatrix Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1901. She printed 250 copies of the book. Within a year, it was picked up by one of the publishers who had previously rejected it, F. Warne & Co. The book almost immediately sold 20,000 copies. That company went on to publish 22 more of her books over the next 40 years. At present, over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold each year.

Richard Bolles self-published his job-hunting guide What Color Is Your Parachute? in 1970. In 1972, he found an independent publisher in Berkeley, CA who was willing to print small quantities of the book so that it could be frequently updated. In 1979, it appeared on the New York Times best-seller list and stayed there for more than a decade. Since then the book has been updated almost yearly; has periodically been on the New York Times best-seller list; has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide; and has never been out of print.

James Redfield self-published The Celestine Prophecy after the manuscript was repeatedly rejected by publishers. He sold 100,000 copies out of the trunk of his car before Warner Books agreed to publish it. It has now sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

John Grisham wrote his first novel, A Time to Kill, in 1989. After 28 rejections, he published 5,000 copies through Wynwood Press, a small private publisher. Doubleday eventually agreed to publish his books and after The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client all proved to be successful in the marketplace, Doubleday acquired the rights to A Time to Kill and reissued it

 

On the recommendation of a friend I submitted a proposal to be a presenter at the Maryland Counseling Association’s annual conference in November. The proposal was accepted. The title of my presentation is “The Intersection of Gender Equality, Mental Health and the Church”. The presentation will include content from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough and When Therapy Isn’t Enough.

 

The following excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough has been on my mind a lot the last several days. I don’t know why. Maybe someone needs to read it, so I decided to share it. Here it is:

When an individual gives his or her life to God, that individual becomes part of God’s family. The Holy Spirit then comes to live inside that believer and endows him or her with spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is an ability or talent that is given to an individual by God when he or she becomes part of God’s family. The Apostle Paul discussed spiritual gifts in his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians), his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 12), and his letter to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4).

 Important Point: There is no reference in any of Paul’s letters to gifts being distributed according to gender.

As I walked with Jesus I gradually came to the realization that I had been given the spiritual gift of leadership… As I tried to live out the purpose God had called me to, using the gifts he gave me, I ran into intense opposition. I crashed right into the stained glass ceiling. I was told that I was controlling (a bad thing) and that I was too strong of a leader (another bad thing)…I studied the difference between controlling and leading. I studied the difference between leading and managing.  I studied the difference between anointing and ordination. I read books on gender equality in the Church, and I studied the lives of women in the bible. As a result of all this I came to the unshakable conclusion that God is color blind and gender blind. He does not distribute gifts and assign purposes based on race or gender.

… as we grow into the people God created us to be, we become comfortable in our own skin. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we are able to unreservedly allow the people around us to be comfortable in their skin, to be who they are, who God created them to be. When we are not comfortable in our own skin, we often try to control our external circumstances and the people in our life in an effort to achieve that comfort. In her book Men and Women in the Church, Sarah Sumner, a noted author, international speaker, and dean of A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, describes a time when she was impacted by people around her who were not comfortable in their own skins. “When I was a student at Trinity, one of my professors called me into his office and said to me in a warm, fatherly tone, ‘Sarah, do not show the full color of your plume; it will intimidate the men.’ She further stated ‘… every Christian woman is told not to lead too much.’”[i]

As I look back at the times I was told I was too strong of a leader and think about the people who told me this, I now understand that they were not comfortable in their own skins. If they were, they would not have been so threatened by me growing into the person and the leader God had anointed me to be.

[i] Sarah Sumner, Men And Women In The Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003) pp. 26-27

another excerpt from When Therapy Isn’t Enough:

When God designed our bodies, he instilled in us a natural healing process for when we get injured or sick. Just watch the way a cut heals for an example of this.

The healing process doesn’t always happen in the way or the timing that we want, though. This is because we are not in charge of our own healing—God is. The healing is God’s choice, it’s always God’s choice. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace and resources to cope with the illness.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe he wants to heal us so we can be effective instruments in furthering his work in the world in the specific way he has chosen for us to do that. In his book The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren states, “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.”

In case you might be interested in purchasing it, here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1625861117/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531867727&sr=1-2&keywords=When+Therapy+Isn%27t+Enough

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