Archive for July, 2012

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Here is a Real Treat

July 24, 2012

In 1981, I sat in meetings taught by Dr. J. Edwin Orr. He was probably the greatest scholar and expert on the subject of Christian Revival. I was mesmerized. I am fairly hard on public speakers, but I could have listened to Dr. Orr for hours and hours.

I just found an archive of old messages by Dr. Orr. If you have any heart for the work of God in our world, then you will be blessed beyond measure to listen to his teaching.

Here is the link to his sermons: http://bit.ly/LLh4Vw.

Here are the ones I would listen to:

Wales Revival

Movements in Latin America

The Resurgence of 1882 onward

Movements between World Wars.

In fact, you can’t go wrong if you listen to all of these.

 

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Complementarianism Gone Crazy

July 18, 2012

Just to be clear. I am not a complementarian. I am an Egalitarian. The Complementarian believes that God ordained that men rule over women in the marital relationship. This position points  to Genesis 3 and the Fall of Man where God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her. An Egalitarian believes that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus changes many of the relationships broken by the Fall. And that includes the marriage relationship.

I respect the Complementarian position, but I don’t subscribe to it. I believe that God gives both men and women in a marriage the same mandate to love one another, the same command to submit to one another and the same Holy Spirit to live in harmony with each other. Equal. Together. Holy.

And even though I respect the other position, sometimes it is hard to do so. In a recent article from the Gospel Coalition (a mainstream Complementarian group), Jared Wilson talks about one area that has always been seen as equal ground by both the Complementarians and Egalitarians: Sex and Sexual Pleasure.

Here is the article, and here is a selection of what he says (it is not taken out of context):

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

This is outrageous! He is basically saying that sex is all about a man conquering and taking charge of a woman. The other side he calls “egalitarian pleasure party”. What he is saying is that the desire of a man to pleasure his wife is unbiblical.

Apparently, he is forgetting that the Apostle Paul is the one who says,

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Cor. 7:3-4).

Many of my complementarian friends will be outraged by this article and how badly he portrays their position, but I need to point out one thing. This is where all of the Complementarian philosophy logically  ends: Men are in charge and women have to submit. That adheres completely to Genesis 3 and does not recognize the power of the Cross to change human relationships broken by the selfishness of Humankind.

I am not presenting this man’s teaching as a Straw Man argument on why Complementarianism is wrong. I am presenting it as a caution to where this teaching is often applied. And as a counselor, I do mean “often”.

This idiotic article may help some of you to rethink your position. I hope it does.

UPDATE: Jared has published an apology. Read it here. His original link no longer works…he has taken down the article. What is interesting is that the person he was quoting in his egregious statements about sex is now angry at him for taking down the quote.

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The Truths about Personal Control

July 11, 2012

Dr. William Glasser in his global best-seller, “Choice Theory” mentions the one problem that plagues most relationships between human beings. We don’t know what we control in life; and we often fail to grasp what we do not control. 

For example, consider two people dating. The lady hates football, but refuses to say anything when he invites her to attend a game. Why? She believes she can control her boyfriend by going along with him on the date.

While on the date, she gets angry when her date refuses to go get something to drink because he is afraid of missing a vital play. She is actually angry because she feels he “made her” go to this “stupid game“. She allows that anger to boil over and yells at him several times on the way home. At the end of this exhausting date, she says “You make me so mad”, firmly believing that she is not in control of what causes her emotions.

She is wrong to believe she could control her relationship by agreeing to like something she didn’t. She is also wrong to believe that he makes her mad. He doesn’t. This is an example of misunderstanding what we control in life.

Here then are several rules that will help you know at any given time what you actually control in life.

1. You control your emotions (You may not choose to control them, but you are the ultimate controller of them).

2. You do not control other people’s emotions

3. Your only control over other people is what they give you.

4. The only control others have over you is what you give them.

5. You control your actions, except those actions you have allowed others to control.

6. You do not control the actions of others unless they have allowed you to control them.

7. You do not control the future…and you never have

8. You do not control the past…and you never did.

9. You do not and cannot control how others view you.

10. You do control how you view others.

Here is the essential and guiding implication of these ten truths. Anything you control you are responsible for. Anything you do not control you are not responsible for. Go back and look at each of these ten rules and apply the responsibility formula to it.

This changes everything if you think about it for a few minutes.

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Rewiring Your Plastic Brain – Part 1: Eliminating Dangerous Behavior

July 10, 2012

You have gone most of your life without hearing about the Sea Gypsies. This nomadic group  of tribes lives on board boats off the coasts of Burma and Thailand. They are born on those boats and most of them die there. They make a living by diving down for shellfish and other aquatic animals that mainlanders pay them money to harvest. While living this way, they have developed two incredible skills.

First, their heartrates slow down so dramatically that they can survive dives of up to 6 minutes without oxygen. If most people went that long without breathing they would have brain damage. Second, they can see deep under water where dim, refracted light should make eyesight useless. And they can see this accurately without goggles.

How do they do this? Their brains have adapted to their environment and have changed how information from the eyes is processed. But what is more amazing is what researchers in the Netherlands have done with this information. Using willing test subjects, teens who are guided through a six-month regimen of reading underwater were able to double their effectiveness of underwater sight; almost to the point where they matched the Sea Gypsies.

Our brains can be changed if we want them to be changed. In the landmark book “The Brain that Changes Itself” there are literally hundreds of examples of this. But the author, Norman Doidge, M.D. admits that most people will never adapt their behavior (even the most dire addictive behavior) for one reason: They don’t want to.

I have worked with drug addicts, alcoholics, child offenders, the chronically depressed, those who repeat bad relationship habits, people with eating disorders, violent, etc. All of these came to me wanting to change their behavior. Almost all of them had been in some kind of psychological treatment before seeing me. Very few of them saw any changes in their most unhealthy habit.

My observation is that only those who really want to change will change. I know that sounds trite and obvious, but it is nonetheless true. But there are people who really want to change who don’t know how.

So, most people with addictive, destructive or sinful behavior don’t change because of two primary reasons: First, they don’t want to. Second, they don’t know how to.

Most counselors deal with the second problem and give their counselees great tools that may never work. Most pastors and spiritual directors deal with the first problem and give their disciples great motivation that often does not seem to result in lasting change. Let’s examine why.

Spanning this article and the next two, I want to take three behaviors that at first glance don’t seem to be that bad or dangerous. But each of these affects countless millions in our day. People can actually change all three of these behaviors if they have a combination of motivation and brain modification.

The first of these I call Dangerous Flirtation: I define a dangerous flirtation as this: Flirting with another person with the intent to physically or emotionally attract them when the consequences of this attraction may be dangerous in some way. This may include a married person seeking to attract the attention of a single person, a professional trying to attract a client, an adult attracting the attentions of a minor, or a healthy person flirting with an undesirable individual.

I believe unhealthy flirting may be epidemic in today’s culture. Social media has only brought this problem to a fever pitch: It has been there for decades. Though there may be a thousand reasons for dangerous flirting, I think the major factors boil down to three:

1. Inaccurate beliefs: We believe certain things about ourselves and about others that we then medicate through flirting. There may be hundreds of examples of this kind of inaccurate belief structure. Here are a few examples:

  • I have no value unless someone finds me attractive
  • I feel better when someone pays attention to me
  • I am a loser…and I feel less like a loser when I feel like someone counts me as special; even for a moment.
  • I need to know there are possible alternative relationships when my current love interest abandons or rejects me.

There are many more examples of this. As I tell people during counseling, this doesn’t mean you want sex with the people you flirt with. It means they are fulfilling an emotional need associated with a particular belief.

2. The Drug of Choice: If a person took a hit of cocaine to relieve their stress, we would say “that person is medicating their problem“. But we often don’t see it the same way when we flirt to deal with pain or fear. Dangerous flirtation, like any addictive behavior, is just a pain reliever.

3. Basic Need: As Maslow amply shows in his hierarchy of needs, we all desire and crave good relationships. Even without the false beliefs and easy relief of pain that flirting affords, we would still flirt occasionally just to show that we are in relationship with the rest of the world.

Is it any wonder that people do not see flirtations as dangerous as they can be;  or why they will not stop doing it even when shown what damage they can cause?  I have helped pick up the pieces when  doctors, teachers, CEOs, pastors, counselors, dentists had their professional licenses revoked as a result of inappropriate behaviors that came out of dangerous flirtations. I have consoled people who have broken marriages, broken bones, trails of tears, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, loss of friends – all because of dangerous flirtations.

How can we change this type of behavior? It is not easy as evidenced by the lengths people will go to flirt when it could cost them their jobs and even their lives. I have found there are three well-defined steps to rewiring such bad brain behavior.

1. Realize you cannot do this on your own. I think the solution must involve a combination of the following:

  • God – We must have input from Someone who understands our lies and inaccuracies
  • Counselor or Guide: Someone skilled to help us make changes. If we had an eating problem, we would go to a nutritionist; if a weight problem, to an exercise specialist. And emotional problems are much more complex.
  • A friend who will help us be accountable for our actions and attitudes.

2. Explore the belief system behind the flirtation. The best way to do this is to chart the events that lead up to the desire to emotionally connect in a dangerous way. You will begin to see patterns that lead to bad behavior (see the last article and the expanded translation of Romans 12:2). Once you have eliminated the lies that are fueling the behavior, the crucial step of rewiring needs to start.

3. Rewire Your Brain with New Behavior: I worked with a professional one time who had a constant habit of flirting with clients. We got down to the source belief: I am undesirable and need to prove my desirability to feel confident. God helped this person to realize they weren’t undesirable. This person accepted that new belief system. But there still were times when people would reject them and send them into the first stages of feeling like an outsider.

From a brain-side view, there was a neural pathway associated with this feeling of loneliness and isolation. They had always treated it with a shot of flirtation. Among these addictive flirtations were some of the dangerous sorts. But once a person begins to use flirtations as a way to feel better, there is less ability to differentiate which ones are safe and which ones are not. Therefore, in order to rewire the brain, one must see that the neurotransmitter, Dopamine, is critical to the change path.

Dopamine is produced to reward behavior. It is the chemical our brain uses to reinforce doing something desirable. The brain ties a belief (frontal lobes) with a behavior (half a dozen other areas of the brain) and cements it together with Dopamine. Unfortunately, many things produce Dopamine, including drugs like Meth and Cocaine.

What we need to do when getting rid of dangerous flirtations is to recognize the pathway to that behavior. It often starts with a bad experience or the fear of one. Then we feel anxious, angry or hopeless to overcome this experience. Then we resort to flirtations. But once we have dealt with the false beliefs, we still have not changed the Dopamine reactive state. We do this by replacing the flirtations with another behavior and keep doing it until we no longer automatically flirt.

Here are a few behaviors that help to rewire the brain:

  • Meditation and Prayer
  • Journaling and reflection on how one feels
  • Strenuous exercise (great for producing Dopamine)
  • Spending time with healthy friends. It helps if you choose locations you really enjoy.
  • Good food (not lots of it…you don’t want to develop a replacement food addiction)
  • Creative work: music, art, writing, drama, painting, scrapbooking, knitting, martial arts are all excellent ways to feed the Dopamine receptors when recovering from addictive emotional patterns.

Next time we will look at Controlling Actions and Depression and Anxiety and chart how we can revamp our brains to change these debilitating conditions.

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