My wife is a psychotherapist. I am a retired professor of psychology; a retired Anglican Priest; A Board Certified Psychologist by the American Board of Professional Psychology; A Fellow in the Academy of Couseling Psychologists.
My publications are on integrating psychology and theology.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Posted by Blogger at 3:59 PM
Friday, December 29, 2006
GUARDING YOUR SOUL
“This is to wish you a Merry Christmas, and to again thank you for sticking with me through all my crises.” My psychotherapist wife gets these kinds of messages, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year. This particular writer went on to add a refrain familiar to my wife: “Often, and to my regret, I did not always follow your advice, but never did you abandon me. And I made it. Thanks again.”
Such typical messages could also be sent to the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete means all of the following: One Who Comes in Along Side of, a Comforter, a Counselor, an Advocate. That is good stuff!
This obviously means that if we are giving off the aroma of the Holy Spirit when we are advising people, we too should receive those nice letters. Unfortunately, however, Christians do not always have the type of reputation we would hope for.
The well-known author of The Purpose Driven Life often observes that we have been “a body without arms and legs; just a big mouth--telling others what to do and what we are against.”
As psychotherapists, my wife and I see the heartbreaking damage that judgement and condemnation inflict.
Jesus describes a characteristic of a damaging religious person as follows: Mat 23:4 “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Can you tell the difference when you are being approached by “One Who Comes in Along Side,” a Comforter, an Advocate on the one hand and when you are receiving heavy burdens, too grievous to be borne?
I wish everyone knew that they do not have to stay around someone who is laying heavy burdens on them. All they need to do is to remember that the word Gospel means “good news” and if they are not hearing “good news,” they are not hearing the Gospel! They should run for their spiritual lives!
Now please indulge me for a brief psychology lesson. My purpose is to help you understand what it is that creates burdens too grievous to be borne.
This will just be a quick picture of the human personality. The following is not original with me, but I often describe the personality as being made up of tiny slivers; for the sake of a mental picture, think of them as metal slivers.
Have you ever seen tiny metal slivers on a piece of paper with a magnet beneath? If you have not, what happens is that the tiny slivers arrange themselves into a pattern–every sliver in relationship to every other sliver. If you intrude at any point, the entire mass rearranges itself; each staying related to all the others.
It is helpful to think of personality that way. Every experience staying in relationship to every other experience you have or have had. Every experience arranging and rearranging itself in relationship to all the other experiences throughout the day.
The good news is that you can go to bed at night and not be afraid you will come unraveled in your sleep. The bad news is that during the day, every time you are required to change, everything else in your personality has to rearrange itself. (By the way, that is what your dreams are doing for you in the night–trying to put everything in order with everything else.)
Hopefully, most of the changes require minor tinkering.
There is always resistance to change, which is good. Suppose your personality was so fragile that every time a demand was put on it, you came unglued?
We have many statements about what the ungluing process can feel like: We even say “I feel I am coming unglued.” Or, “I’m having a break down.” “I’m losing it.” “I’m cracking up.” Feel free to jump in and add your own favorite expression. Anyway, you know what it feels like to start coming apart under stress.
Therefore, we have to be thankful to God that He did not make our personality so brittle it flies into pieces. Nevertheless, when someone comes at us hard, threatening that we will either lose their love and approval if we don’t change, stress is experienced throughout the entire personality system. If they claim to come in the name of the Lord, now that is real stress.
On the other hand, being with people who operate as the Paraclete does, that is, who recognize our difficulty, come in along side of the parts undergoing change, comforting us with such words as “you can do it.” Then gentle change is possible. With the proper help, there can even be what the Bible calls a metanoia, that is a sudden positive upheaval and rearrangement of the personality over a short period of time.
Fortunately, Jesus gives us permission to dodge the dangerous people when he says: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Mat 7:6.
Just remember the next time you feel psychologically attacked by someone in the church, run for your spiritual life! Just don’t forget though, JESUS LOVES YOU, HE REALLY DOES! And it was the religious judgmental ones who killed Him.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It was taken by an unknown photographer who later e-mailed it to me. I was on the Mall during the Promise Keepers Million Man March. The worship music was being broadcast across the Mall and I was totally enraptured. I thought every one was right up there with me and so was startled when I finally came back down and saw that I was on my own.
Because most of the people around me were Southern Baptists. I always entitled this "Worshipping with the Baptists." Poor Baptists. Some of them keep their brakes on while worshipping.
Posted by Blogger at 7:14 PM
Saturday, December 23, 2006
AUTHORITY OF HUMAN SPEECH
One of the first things I learned after my initial experience was to pray in a different way than I had always been taught. Studying the Scriptures, it soon becomes clear that neither Jesus nor those who came after Him, prayed the way most people I knew, prayed.
Here are two examples of praying by the early followers of Jesus: First, is Peter’s and John’s first prayer for healing after they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 3:6 "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." And here is a prayer of Paul’s against demonic activity: Acts 16:18 Paul being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."
Having shown you these prayers, let me take you through the Bible, illustrating this way of praying that was all new to me. Beginning from the beginning in Genesis, God said to Moses: Num. 20:8 "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak (can also be translated: "command") ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink."
The Scriptures go on to say in Num 20:11: And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod, he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
Surprisingly, that action upset God.
Numbers 20:12: And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
Wow! Hey God, Moses only changed one small detail. He struck the rock instead of speaking to it. He got water, so what was the problem?
Changing actions may not seem like a big thing to us, but obviously it was to God, so He now has caught our attention. Speaking to the rock, not hitting, was all that Moses changed from what he was told to do, but changing that minor detail, cost him. He did not get to lead the people finally into the promised land.
If speaking is that important to God, we had better spend some time thinking about that importance.
While teaching on the important subject of prayer, Jesus said to his disciples "Say unto this mountain" Mt 17:20. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says." Shortly before, Jesus had demonstrated the power of saying when he spoke to a fig tree and overnight it withered from its roots up.
Again one day while teaching on prayer, we see that word "say" again. The disciples approached Jesus and made a request: "Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples. And He said unto them, "When ye pray, say." Then He followed with a number of commands to be said. Luke 11:1-2
Say Hallowed be thy name
Say Thy kingdom come
Say Thy Will be done
"Say" even started the world.
And God said, "Let there be light": and there was light.
And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear": and it was so.
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth" and it was so.
God said, and it was so.
In Genesis 1:26 we learn: And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
There are two hints in that passage as to where the power in human speech may originate: First, "in our own image", and second, "let them have dominion."
First, God says He created us in His own image. That strongly suggests God-like powers residual in us. Secondly, if God meant it when He gave us dominion over everything, then it follows that we exercise that dominion in the exact way the one in whose image we were created exercises power–by the word spoken directly towards that which we are to dominate.
No place in the Bible doess it suggest that God took back our dominion. However, it does appear that early on, God tampered with our abilities. Gen 11:6 And the LORD said "Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do."
Gen 11:7 "Let us go down, and there confound their language." Whatever confound meant, somewhere along the way, we lost some of the real power of language, until Jesus came.
Going on with the word "say." Another interesting use of the word to say is that it is imbedded in the word "to prophesy." The Hebrew word for prophesy means "to say under inspiration."
When we watch Jesus pray; when we listen to him teach his disciple s to pray, we see an activity similar to what was called prophesying in the Old Testament. One day, years ago, while riding with a fellow minister, in an almost off-handed way, he said to me, "You realize, of course that the Hebrews understood "prophesying" as causative, that is, the prophet’s words caused the event, not just predicted it."
From the moment my friend gave me that revelation, prophesying was never the same to me.
"Saying"/prophesying as causative, is made dramatic in the story of Ezekiel and the dead bones. Eze 37:4: "Again he said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’"
Eze 37:7: "So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone."
An example that reveals "prophesying as causative," was understood by people in the Old Testament, is in the story of Balaam: The king had sent his servants to bring the prophet Balaam to him. Num 22:5. He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, "Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
Num 22:6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I know that he whom thou blesses is blessed, and he whom thou curses is cursed"
Besides the king, God also took seriously, Balaam’s ability to speak with power. God intervened by doing all sorts of things to stop Balaam. Specifically, He commanded him not to curse the people for they were a blessed people.
People in New Testament times also recognized that there was power in the spoken word. The Roman Centurion said to Jesus: Mat 8:8 : "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed."
Before going on let me just pile up some Scriptures running through the Old Testament into the New regarding the spoken word as causative:
Psa 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. Psa 33:9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
Psa 148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for He commanded, and they were created.
Psa 148:6 He hath also established them forever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass. Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Heb. 1:3 and continues to uphold the universe by the word of his power (Williams translation) He sustains the universe by his almighty word (Berkeley Version). And finally, Rev 12:11 And they overcame him (the adversary) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word (Greek: "something said") of their testimony.
Now with this background on the connection between the spoken word, and prayer/prophesying as causative, watch how Jesus prayed .in the following highlighted Scriptures: They were caught in a storm and the disciples were terrified, so they woke Jesus up. Mar 4:39: And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, "Peace, be still." And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mar 9:25: When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." Luk 4:39: And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her, and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Luk 9:42: And as he was yet coming, the devil threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child.
Therefore, I have tried to learn to pray as Jesus prayed and as He taught his followers to pray. One example, that is both humorous and serious was the day the roofers tore the roof off my house, leaving only my bedroom ceiling between me and the sky. A big storm arose.
Around 10:00 a.m., shortly after they had everything bare, the sky began to darken ominously. In the past I would have panicked, especially because the men continued to work unhurriedly. But Jesus had fussed at a storm and he told the disciples that they should have done something and let him sleep.
So, imitating Jesus, I began to shout at the gathering storm.
The storm came closer. It began thundering and lightening. I began circling the yard, much like a guard dog, yelling at the storm in the name of Jesus. The workmen began to be entertained by my actions and kept on working.
Throughout the day, that storm circled us, much like a growling animal looking for an opportunity to pounce. The men continued work at their same pace. Finally around 3:00 p. m,. they had the beams of a new roof in place. As the storm came nearer and nearer, they began to quicken their pace, rolling down big sections of tar paper. Just as they had the last piece tacked down, a huge clap of thunder exploded. They came down the ladder like firemen coming down a pole, laughing all the way down. At that moment, the heavens opened and buckets of rain poured down.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
SPIRIT LIFE CONTINUED
My blog is an account of how life became more interesting after the Holy Spirit came in power.
This is the second section and will be about how God began to entertain me with interesting happenings. How for example, in unexpected ways, He led me to interactions with exceptional people. How I went searching for a famous author and ended up taking a shower at his place. How I went to England looking for a famous bishop and found him in an unexpected way. How a well-known exorcist answered my telephone call one day.
Because I am both a priest and a psychologist, after my first experience with the Holy Spirit, it seemed a good idea to relate psychology and theology. I began writing for the Journal of Psychology and Theology.
In order to make my first article creditable, I needed a recognized source. One award winning Christian journal editor and writer was the Rev. Jamie Buckingham. But, how was I going to interview him when we did not know each other?
From a magazine one day, I learned he was to be in a meeting in Florida. Packing up my family, I drove from my home in North Carolina, to the meeting place in Bradenton, Florida.
We arrived too soon to check into the motel, so decided to go to the meeting grounds and have lunch. On arrival, we joined a line entering the cafeteria. Striking up a conversation with people next to us, we told them why we were there, but we did not know how we would contact the Rev. Buckingham.
"Why, that is Jamie standing right behind you in line" a lady said.
In shock, I turned to him, intoduced myself, told him why I had come. I also apologized that my family and I looked so grungy, but that we had been driving all day and could not get in our motel.
The Rev Buckingham said, "Well, here is a spare key to my room. As soon as you have eaten, you can go up and you and your family can take showers and freshen up. Then I will meet with you in the lobby and answer all your questions."
As I was showering, I was still amazed at what God could pull off. I drove all the way to Florida to meet a man I did not know, nor was not sure he would even talk to me, and here I was in his shower.
I was just beginning to learn what fun my life was to be.
I came to know th preacher with the guitar whom I wrote of in my beginning. He had the gifts of a prophet, and he introduced me to two other prophets.
The first time I saw the other two prophets was when I was coming up off the floor of the store front church. I noticed two men grinning from ear to ear as I began laying hands on people. Putting me with them, God began my education.
One day, I told the three prophets that I was going to attend a big meeting in Atlanta in which a celebrated English bishop, Bishop David Pytches, would be speaking. Before I left, they laid hands on me and prophesied that I would meet the bishop and that we would become important to one another. Because the meeting was large, that prophecy seemed far-fetched.
As the bishop finished the morning part of his talks, we turned and introduced ourselves to a woman next to us. Not knowing our way around, we asked her where she might be going to lunch. "Oh, she said, I am having lunch with Bishop Pytches and his wife. Why don’t you and your wife come along."
Typically, my wife and I would have replied "Oh, no, thank you. We would not want to intrude." But because of what the prophets had said, we did go with her.
I learned from that early lesson that when prophets with good track records, prophesy something, you have to be willing to take action. Otherwise, the prohetic event passes you by. I ended up seated next to the bishop. As prophesied, we hit it off and he insisted that whenever I came to England, I must look up him and his wife.
Once again, I wanted to pinch myself to see if I was awake. Here I was, out of hundreds of people at the meeting, making friends with someone I never expected to personally meet.
After publishing the article mentioned in my first story, I began work on another. Because I was writing about the great Welsh revival, I needed first hand information from someone in Wales.
I located an editor of a journal there who I believed would make my article creditable.
By this time, I had begun to get a liitle more use to the miracles God could work, so I wrote the gentleman. Sure enough, he was interested in meeting me, so I flew to Wales.
This wonderful man met me at the train station, invited me to stay at his home, and gave me all the information I wanted for my article.
But the miracle did not stop there. I told him that while I was in England I wanted to locate a Bishop Pytches, but that the good bishop had not told me how to find him. Because my new friend was in a religious movement quite different from the bishop, and because the bishop was somewhere on the other side of England, I had little expectation that he had ever heard of him.
"Oh, he said, I know Bishop Pytches, we shared the same room in a London hospital when we were both undergoing surgery. I will telephone him and let him know you are coming."
God strikes once more. The next day, I am pinching myself again as I stood with Mrs. Pytches watching an all important new type move of the Holy Spirit in the church. The people were caught up in great exuberance and there was laughter and shouting.
Mrs. Pytches was very excited in having a psychologist there to witness the outbreak of joyousness and later I wrote a review of her book on the phenomenon.
One day, one of my wife’s patients came in with many bite marks on her. They looked like human bite marks, but there was no one in her apartment the night before, and the bite marks were not her own.
I had just read a book by a Christian missionary named the Rev. Lester Sumrall in which he described a woman in the Philippines with unexplained bite marks. After a horrendous struggle with demonic activity in and around the woman, she was suddenly released from possession. The story was so dramatic that the Rev. Sumrall made the Manila papers. Then a great revival broke out on the island.
My wife insisted that I call the Rev. Sumrall, which I have to confess, seemed ridiculous. How does one contact such a famous man? But, I try to obey my wife in times like that, so I picked up the telephone and dialed Rev. Sumrall’s headquarters in Indiana.
Expecting to reach a secretary, I suddenly realized I was talking directly to this renowned man. His receptionist had just stepped out of the office.
He instantly took me serious when I told him why I called, and he instructed us in what to do. My wife’s patient has been fine ever since.
(By this time, I have quit pinching myself.)
By the way, all the people mentioned above can be found on the internet.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
My blog is to be about: How my life became more interesting after the Holy Spirit came in power. This is my first post.
THE PSYCHOLOGIST ON THE FLOOR
I am laying on the floor of a little store front church proclaiming "I love you Jesus!!!" and laughing uproariously. My life was changing forever.
What was a psychology professor doing on the floor in the first place?
In August 1980, my son dragged me to a storefront church. Although reluctant, what can you do when all four of your children challenge you with "What are you afraid of, Mr. Psychologist?"
I needed to know what they were getting in to.
Surprised, I was impressed when the young preacher spoke with an authority.
The following Wednesday night, I showed up, startled to find only the pastor, the piano player and me.
Catching me off guard, the minister inquired, "Have you ever received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?"
As a seeker after spiritual experiences, I was interested. Earlier, as a Baptist minister, I had led the singing at revivals that had gone wild. I once gave an invitation to which an entire church responded by rededicating themselves. Scared the fool out of me.
I had seen some amazing things, but the only thing I knew about what they called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was that it had something to do with speaking in tongues. As kids, we had peeked through the windows at the crazy goings on in the local Pentecostal churches. But they were on the other side of the tracks.
Still, I had always been a high risk person when it came to spiritual things and that night I said to myself, O.K. you’ve danced with the Sufis, chanted with the Yogis, beat drums with the Baktis, so what the heck.
I blurted out: "Well I want everything God has to give. I don’t want to miss anything."
Then the young man said "O.K.. do what I do." He began saying words of praise to God. I did what he did. All at once he said, "Now, no more words in English." Pointing to my chest, he said, "Praise Him from there." He began to make strange sounds.
One of the many meditations I had tried in the past, involved hours listening to various sounds deep within me. The Hindus teach that these are the sounds of the Chakras, energy centers of the body. Following his instructions, I focused on the region he pointed to. There were sounds! Not like his, but sounds. So I spoke the sounds I was hearing.
Along with the sounds bubbling up, came the most joyous sensations. I could have kept going all night. Getting restless though, the young man finally said, "Hey, you can do this at home."
For the next few days, I just went with the sounds. They gushed up like I had tapped an oil well.
When I returned to the gathering the next week, there was a leader with a guitar strung over his shoulder. While he talked, I was preoccupied with an inner conversation with God. Suddenly the man stopped, pointed at me and began to reveal the exact dialogue I was having between myself and God. Then he gave me God’s response to the question I had been requesting.
My mind began spinning. How did he read my mind?
Then, inviting me to come to him, he lightly touched my forehead.
And that is when this psychologist discovered himself on the floor.
I had no idea how I got there. I could hear myself calling out: "I love you Jesus!" Then I laughed uproariously because I also had this thought of some colleague walking by and looking through that storefront window. It did not happen; yet what a hoot!
But that was just the beginning. The leader said, "Get him off the floor and bring him up here. Brother the power of God is all over you. Lay your hands on these people!"
At that moment a energy poured through me. I felt like what Popeye demonstrated when he downed his can of spinach and his fists turned into power drivers.
Barely touching people, sometimes just pointing at them, I watch them go down like bowling balls. My knees began to buckle from the surges, and then I felt my wonderful wife, arms wrapped around me, holding me up.
Finally, overcome from all the excitement, I had to sit down.
At that point, my rational mind kicked back in. "What is this? Suggestion? Maybe, hyperventilation?" As a psychologist, I had studied and practiced hypnosis. "Is this all this is?"
As I sat there, I looked down beside my chair at a young man who had crashed face down on the floor. The scientist came out in me. The man started to get up, at first on all fours.
Making sure he could not see what I was doing, I sneakily put my hand about a foot above his back. If he could not see what I was doing, then it wasn’t hypnosis.
Ka Bam! He slammed to the floor as power shot through me again. He tried n to rise and I sneaked my hand above him again. He was pinned to the floor as if an elephant had his foot on him.
This was not hypnosis!
Days followed with many thrilling experiences. We laid hands on a woman who had congenital heart disease from birth, and she was healed. A few sundays later, a group of us laid hands on a man with prostate cancer. He was healed and the healing was certified by his Urologist.
I began to notice changes in me. I could not get enough of reading the Bible. I would lock myself in my office and read for hours.
Like many people, I had suffered from what I called the Paranoia of the Father. I just did not trust Him. Either He was going to get mad at me and hurt me, or if I was enjoying something, He would take it away to keep me from having any fun, or on the other hand, He would love me and send me off to die in Africa just to prove myself. Whatever, God was scary.
I woke up one morning and the Paranoia was gone. Shortly thereafter I was riding down Poplar Grove Rd. in Boone, NC, right past the Winn Dixie. Suddenly I was lifted into another level of consciousness. There was this incredible sense that God had stopped taking care of the Universe and was now focused only on me. I was all that existed in His attention. No one else. Nothing else. Now words begin to fail. But Love was communicating, " Donald has come home. All of Heaven stopped to listen. "Donald I love you. Nothing that you have ever done, are doing, or ever will do, will make any difference to Me." From that day on, I have never been without that sense of His love and His presence.
Over the years, I have discovered in the writings of the great mystics, that others had this experience of a moment of God’s total focus. Mystics are defined as people who have a direct tangible experience of God.
In Living Flame of Love, the great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross wrote: "For the soul now feels God to be so solicitous in granting it favors and to be magnifying with such precious and delicate words, and granting it favour upon favour, that it believes that there is no other soul in the world whom He thus favours, nor ought else wherewith He occupies Himself, but that He is wholly for itself alone" p81
The great English mystic, Julian of Norwich in Revelation of Love wrote: "It is God’s will that I see myself so bound to him by love as if he had done all his deeds just for me." p145
One of the phrases God implanted in her heart went as follows: "All shall be well, All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. This was said so tenderly, without blame of any kind toward me" p55
Julian understood her experience in much the same way as I do. Also, like me, her experience remained with her forever.