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Archive for the ‘Counseling’ Category


I first read Eugene Peterson’s book Working the Angles: the Shape of Pastoral Integrity in the mid-90’s.  I read all of his books on pastoral ministry, finding them helpful.  A decade in to pastoral ministry, and preparing for my next call, I decided to read it again.

I found that while the book hadn’t changed, I had.  I fully agree with Peterson’s main point that pastors have largely abandoned their calling for a substitute, a counterfeit that undermines the work of God.  I also fully agree with the tasks of pastoral ministry being largely prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction.

Where I am not so on board is how he gets there.  He draws from sources  that I am at time uncomfortable with.  I’m not a TR.  I read books, and benefit from them, that are outside of the Reformed heritage.  I read Nouwen, a Kempis and other devotional writers.  I’m interested in reading de Sales as well.  But the bulk of my significant reading is within one stream of thought.

Peterson pulls from Greek mythology, neo-orthodox authors and devotional writers.  He does not often ground his thoughts in Scripture, which is odd since that is one of his 3 angles.  I think I only found one reference to a Puritan, who have written numerous volumes on prayer, Scripture and the need for soul friends (aka spiritual directors).  This I find to be a glaring weakness.

So, while Peterson’s book is helpful, it is less helpful than perhaps it could have been.  This is sad, because we do need more books that focus on shepherding people, not treating pastors as CEOs.

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On Nightline, there was a Face Off regarding the reality of Satan.  Mark Driscoll was one of the participants.  Mark did a great job integrating the reality of the Evil One with a presentation of the gospel.  He offered hope in the midst of our personal and societal struggles.

And then there was Deepok Chopra gave a bunch of ying & yang psycho-babble (quoting Freud, but in line with Jung’s work) about how “healthy people don’t need the devil.”   Bishop Pearson forsakes his calling based on a false stereo-type.  Nice.  Another “bishop” denying the teaching of Scripture.  I guess we solve the problem of evil by just not thinking about it.

Both of argue against the belief in the devil on the basis of wars- religious wars.  just because some nuts believe you can drop the bomb on the devil to destroy him does not make this a reason to deny personal evil.  It is a Straw Man argument, fallacious to the core.  The devil is not material, can’t be bombed, shot or drugged out of existence.  Only Jesus destroys the work of the devil (Hebrews 2, I think), which Pearson forgot to mention when saying Jesus would not be pleased by all that bomb dropping.  I’m pretty sure Jesus isn’t pleased with those who think dropping bombs (or flying planes into sky scrappers) is the way to defeat The Great Satan.  Now, legitimate governments bearing the sword against those who pose a threat against those they are charged to protect (Romans 13) is another story.  But the ultimate solution is only Christ and Him crucified to destroy, among other things, the hate in our hearts and the evils that flow from that.

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My friend has been busy reading.  I am filled with envy and must repent.  She read another book by Joe Dallas.  This one was When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do when a Loved One Says They’re Gay.  Here’s what she says:

When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Loved One Says they’re Gay was written by Joe Dallas, the author of Desires in Conflict.

In this book Joe Dallas speaks to parents or loved ones of someone who states they are gay. In the first chapter he likens finding out about the loved ones struggle to the process after a death or major traumatic event in our lives. We go through 5 general stages or phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And in this case it is the death of assumptions.

[This is what I was thinking about a week before I picked up this book. I’m stuck in the anger phase and starting my depression.]

Assumptions of how I, as a loved one, expected his life to be.

There is a chapter for parents, one for other family members with varying ranges of relational contact with the SSA relative, and one for when homosexuality hits a marriage.

Joe Dallas uses the prodigal son from Luke 15:11-32 to show how family members may be feeling when one ‘comes out’. Also this verse from Jeremiah 31:16-17 hit home with me;

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.

Joe says you can’t miss the three fold message here:

God sees. He sees both your beloved daughter and son, and He sees your tears.

God preserves. He continues His efforts long after human effort has exhausted itself.

God holds out hope, for both you and your children.

This book gives practical advice from the heart, Joe tells of the 3 most common arguments for the pro-gay position. And he also asks us to walk a mile in the shoes of the gay loved one. To see what the son or daughter has been thinking, for how long they have been thinking it and what they might have to endure in their lifetime.

You will discover what to say and not to say, how to handle family visits, maintain balance and how to strengthen not weaken your relationhip.

On a personal note: my son is struggling with SSA and he still lives at home, we home school and go to church. He is struggling with his faith, his identity, and his sexuality. Being so close constantly puts a strain on our relationship and I, as his mom, have a very hard time keeping my mouth shut. I need to be constantly reminded that God loves him much more than I and God is in control of his life, I’m not. I need to be constantly reminded he is and always has been my son, whom I love more than life itself.

My one piece of advice now to anyone reading this would be to watch your words. Think before you speak, try to see your loved one the way God does. Remember you need the same grace they do, the same grace God freely gives.

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Here is another guest post on the subject of homosexuality.  This time my friend reviews  Desires in Conflict, Hope for Men Who struggle with Sexual Identity by Joe Dallas.

The updated version of this book was written in 1991 but the message stands true still. As the subtitle states, the book gives hope for men who struggle with sexual identity. If you are not one of those men, then this book is not for you.

Joe Dallas [click for his counseling website] also wrote When Homosexuality Hits Home, What to Do when a Loved One says They’re Gay. This book offers up step-by-step advice on how to deal with the emotions family members deal with when they learn of a loved ones homosexuality.

But back to Desires in Conflict. Joe Dallas tells his story, guides men on what to expect when dealing with their particular issues.

Homosexuality is no different. Like all sinful tendencies, homosexual attractions need not rule you or continue to be a predominant force in your life. Specifically, you can expect change to occur in one or all of four ways.”

Here is the list:

1. Change in behavior

2. Change in the frequency of homosexual attractions

3. Change in intensity of homosexual attractions

4. Change in perspective

Nowhere do we see in that list that homosexual attraction disappears.

(more…)

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Today I have a guest blogger who asked to anonymously post some book reviews.  Their family is going through some difficulties, and this helps them process what they are reading.  Perhaps it will help you.

These posts will deal with an issue that is quite controversial today.  There has been a shift in thinking on some of these things.  Some of you may not agree, that’s okay.  We live in a world marred by something the Bible calls sin, which means things aren’t as they ought to be.  One can believe that a lifestyle is wrong, without hating a person who practices that lifestyle.  Nothing here is conveys hatred or fear- but seeks to grapple with life in a world filled with sin and misery.  With that being said- one to our guest post.

A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality by Joseph & Linda Nicolosi was the first book I read, even before I found out my son was struggling with SSA [same sex attraction]. A friend of mine suggested it to me and deep in my heart I knew something was awry with my teenage son.
Joseph puts in a few case studies, which are very interesting, (sometimes I found myself nodding and saying “yes, that’s us!”), and a journal from a mother who is trying to help her young son on the road to healing.
There is plenty of debate in the mental health profession and homosexual community over whether being ‘gay’ is hereditary, chosen or not, can be changed or not. I’m here to tell you I believe having SSA is from a multitude of factors, which I will list later and can be ‘fixed’ or healed. That is to say that if the underlying problems or symptoms are addressed and the person affected does not want these feelings brought upon him he or she can get help.
Being homosexual, according to Joseph, is an identity problem, a gender identity problem within the family, of not being secure in one’s own gender.
In identifying GID [Gender-identity Disorder] there are usually 5 markers to determine whether the child has it. One being preference for anything of the opposite gender that being clothes, toys, sports, playmates, etc.
I can not stress enough and neither can any of the books I read that the same gender parent play a huge role in making and healing of the GID child. For boys, they need a father who is affectionate, hands-on in his life, affirming and loving. In most cases of SSA or GID, the fathers were non-existent either physically or emotionally. And the mothers were overbearing, protective and using the boy as a husband replacement.
[In our case, my sons father was in his life and always loving, affectionate and there for him. I, on the other hand, was and still am very overbearing, controlling and disrespected his father constantly. Sadly, there are no male figures in his immediate family my son wants to emulate.]
Boys have to be taught masculinity [by the father] and girls need to be taught femininity [by their mother]. Children need to be shown that being the gender they are is good and right and that they are special and loved being their gender.
There are plenty of other influences that shape a SSA child; family structure, sexual abuse, sensitive natures, harassment by others, poor body image, etc. Most of which I can not go into. Chapter 8 goes into the politics of treatment and how the world views define disability, treatment, gay and homosexuality.
This quote by A. Dean Byrd, PHD at the beginning of Chapter 9 ‘The Healing Process‘ hit so hard with me. I burst into tears reading it.
“Dads, hugs your sons. If you don’t, someday another man will.”
This chapter goes on to challenge the parents to affirm masculinity in their sons, to touch and be affectionate with their same-sex children. Many case examples follow and so does one mothers’ journal, struggling to help her son and help her husband to help their son.
This book is more for parents for young children who are struggling with identity, but can be read by parents like me, who have an older child and who want to get help or to see what may have caused SSA or GID.
I highly recommend this book. I am a Christian mom of a teenage boy who has conveyed to me he is having feelings of being gay. I do not believe people are born gay. I do not believe our God has made people gay. I believe a number of influences contribute to acting out of those feelings and desires. A desire to be loved by the same sex gender, a desire to have what the person lacks, perceived and/or real abuses and harms done to a person when young, certain personality traits, family dynamics and a persons plain old sin nature.
I’m reviewing a few other books bout this topic. Please come back and check them out. Please also, no negative/derogatory comments. Cavman is kind enough to put these on his blog to allow me to be anonymous and work out in writing my feelings after reading these books.

Just a reminder, this is a parent coming to gripes with their son’s homosexuality.  Many parents in that position have many questions.  While you may have different opinions on these answers, I ask that you respect her attempts to understand it.  If you are homosexual, and don’t want to change, please understand that there are many who do.  The goal isn’t to get in your face.  You chose to read this, we didn’t force you to.

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I consider Proverbs to be “preventative grace”.  It was initially written to prepare young men for adulthood by providing practical wisdom.  It was to help them avoid the pitfalls of life’s choices rather than get out of them.  So, when I saw Anthony Selvaggio’s A Proverbs Driven Life, I was interested.  When I was offered a copy for free to review- I was estatic.

Before Selvaggio gets into the various topics that Proverbs covers, he wants to orient people to what Proverbs are, and aren’t.  Since Proverbs is a book about wisdom, it is about everyday life.  It is not about laws & precepts (he hits that again in a later section) but more like signposts.  Proverbs are generalisms that help us to make good choices by cluing us in to the typical outcomes. 

We need this book because, as he says, “people make a lot of short-sighted, self-centered decisions.”  And those decisions bring lots of misery to them and others.  We are a people who profoundly lack wisdom.

Proverbs offers us future-oriented wisdom and guidance so we can make wise decisions and live in ways that please and exalt God.

(more…)

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There is a new book out, Get Outta My Face: How to Reach Angry, Unmovtivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne, that offers assistance to families, ministers and counselors.  WTS Books has this book for 65% off , an introductory price of $4.88, until January 24, 2009 at noon.  Then it will be the customary 30% off, not a bad deal either.  [ WTS Books sold out, but received 500 more copies of the book.  When they are gone, so is the special price!]

Here is what some other authors have said about this book:

“Rick Horne has invested in teens his whole life. He has learned that he is more like them than unlike them. From years of first hand experience, he knows how to talk with them and his is not afraid of the tough ones. What you will read here is the wisdom of a man who has experienced the courage and hope that transforming grace can give to you and that hard teenager God has chosen for you to be near. This book is a call to action with biblical perspectives and practical steps that God can use to change the teenager and you as well.”  Paul David Tripp, author of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, co-author of How People Change among other books highly recommended by Cavman.

“Rick Horne knows teens the kind that won’t talk and those that won’t stop talking. If you have a teenager, you need this book. In fact, don’t wait for the teen years! Arm yourself now with the timeless truths from this book that counsels moms and dads with gospel-hope for teenage trials.”  Dave Harvey author of When Sinners Say “I Do”.  (Highly recommended by Cavman)

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