faith


“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.

Advertisements

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.

 

My new book is now available on amazon. For those who are interested, 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

I am currently reading American Gospel by Jon Meacham. The following excerpt grabbed me, speaking to me very loudly. I am sharing it with you because I am hoping that it speaks to some of you as well. Here it is:

“What is essential–and what has long been part of religious intellectual traditions–is to draw not only on scripture but on reason and experience when contemplating the nature and problems of the world. In the seventeenth-century battle between the Catholic hierarchy and Galileo over whether the earth revolved around the sun or vice versa, it was Galileo–a Christian–who understood better than his persecutors how to reconcile apparent contradictions between faith and science. ‘If Scripture cannot err,’ he said, ‘certain of its interpreters and commentators can and do so in many ways.’ In other words, if reason leads humankind to discover a truth that seems to be incompatible with the Bible, then the interpretation of scripture should give way to the rational conclusion. In this Galileo was echoing Augustine, who wrote, ‘If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets scripture does not understand it correctly.’ … Augustine’s work enables thinking Christians to take advantage of scientific and social advances without surrendering the authority of revelation. Guided by these lights, believers have (however slowly) removed the biblical support for the ideas that the earth, not the sun, is the physical center of the universe, that women are property–and that slavery is divinely sanctioned. The lesson is that purely religious arguments may not be sufficient to get us to the right result. The faithful should see that God meant for them to use reason as well as revelation as they make their way through the world.”

I am doing the final review of my manuscript before it goes to print. It has been edited and the layout of the pages is done. I would like to share one more excerpt with you. Here it is:

Bill Hybels’s words in Too Busy Not to Pray further bolstered my efforts to learn to pray: “The important thing is not to follow a particular method but to find a way that works for you. Custom-design an approach that will still your racing mind and body, soften your heart and enable you to hear God’s still, small voice. Then, when you are centered and focused on God, invite him to speak to you.”
I decided to heed Bill Hybels’s advice and began to experiment with various ways to pray. I let go of my belief that there is a “right” way to pray—i.e., a “right” posture (kneeling), “right” words (a pre-written prayer), a “right time” (first thing in the morning), and so forth. I embraced the belief that God doesn’t care how I talk to him or when I talk to him. What he cares about is that I talk to him. I tried praying at different times during the day and in different places. I eventually found that though I had quiet times with God when I would sit quietly in his presence, what worked the best for me was to have an ongoing dialogue with him throughout each day as I lived my life. I began to talk to God while I was driving, walking, working, doing chores around the house, sitting on a bench in the mall waiting for one of my children and so forth. The possibilities were endless. I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV).

If you are experiencing difficulty discovering or living your purpose, I encourage you to work a Christ-centered 12-Step recovery program. You very well may have hurts, habits or hang-ups that are impeding you from discovering and/or living your God-anointed purpose.

You may believe that you only have to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior for your life to be complete and satisfying. The proclamation that “I am a born again Christian, my past is washed clean, I am a new creature, and Christ has totally changed me” is true. Our Spirits are born again. Our flesh, however, is holding on to a lifetime of hurts, habits and hang-ups. The likelihood that you have no behaviors, thoughts or attitudes that need to be changed and/or wounds that need to be healed is small to nonexistent. I believe that it is impossible for anyone to grow to adulthood without accruing some hurts along the way and developing some destructive habits or hang-ups.

To over-spiritualize the initial work of salvation may be to deny the actual condition of our lives. Giving our life to God, accepting his free gift of forgiveness and entering into a personal relationship with him is step three. Taking this step assures you that you will spend eternity with him in heaven. You can stop there. Many people do. If you want to live a life of abundance marked by internal peace, joy and fulfillment, however, you need to work the additional nine steps. Working these steps is what improves the quality of your life on earth and increases the possibility of your doing what you were created and shaped to do: making your unique contribution to the body of Christ.

I spent the past week in Ocean City, Maryland writing and walking. I finished the manuscript I’ve been working on since January. Sent it to the publisher. Editing will begin this week.

one more excerpt:

In 2003 I stumbled upon Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12 Step recovery program, and that has made all the difference for me. Through working a program that continually pointed me toward Jesus, I learned how to access his healing power. My childhood wounds were finally healed, not coped with but healed. My habits are being broken one by one, and my crippling hang-ups have evaporated. They have been replaced with faith and trust in my Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

Next Page »