(note:  This is the welcome and info article and it does not change.  Scroll on down for the most recent article addition.)

I believe in the power of truth.  I also believe in the power of freedom.  I am neverendingly impressed at how truth sets us free, and how freedom opens us up to the truth.  Though I have some posts that are personal to me, this is my ministry site.  I post articles about all kinds of things that are of interest to me… and I also find great joy in answering, or at trying to answer, or at least discussing, questions.  Feel free to ask them here.

I am still working on these sites, but the best way to navigate this material is either the tabs at the top of the page – these take you to totally different pages with targeted information.  If you are researching me as a personal therapist, click the Counseling/Therapy tab… if you are a man looking for encouragement, ideas and support in life, click on Phalanx… if you are considering me as a speaker, teacher, pastor, or consultant, that information should be available there.

Most of my work hours are spent serving at FBC’s South Campus in Tyler. Check out the amazing ministry there.

I am also the lead therapist at the Alethia Counseling Center in Tyler, Texas… and I love the team of Counselors we have here, so…

I want to introduce you to our team of counselors at the offices:

Millie Tanner, LPC.  Millie is an LPC, and has been doing work here for about a while already and was with Women of Grace before that.  She is truly realistic, strong and compassionate.  Her experience shows as she does an excellent job and inspires great confidence in her clients.   She is especially gifted at marriage counseling, in my humble (but accurate) opinion. (http://www.tannertherapy.com/)

Zach Herrin, LPC.   Zach is a great counselor and is especially good with engaging with people through the lense of being someone loved deeply by God.  He has a special gift at developing rapport with young men and their families.  I think his masculine and biblically strong style of counseling will connect well with men.  (www.herrincounseling.com)

Keely Burks, LPCI.  Keely is an LPC intern, which means that she has finished her Master’s Degree, and now has to complete 3000 hours of what is essentially a residency under a an LPC supervisor.  She did some of her practicum work here and did a fantastic job, and offers play therapy too! (http://www.keelyburkscounseling.com/)

Amy Waters, LPCI.  Amy is also working on her intern hours… This means she has completed her Masters and has joined us full time!   She is gifted and has close to a decade of experience helping students and families after her years as a Pine Cove Family Camp Conference Director.  She has an amazing talent for seeing as God sees and helping people do the same.  You need to schedule time with her… it is a healthy decision for anyone. ( www.amywaterscounseling.com)

Nancy Mayer, LPC.  Nancy is our newest addition.  Nancy is just opening up multiple hours at our office.  She has many years of experience as a chaplain and as a counselor!  She works with couples, individuals and is especially gifted at working with people struggling with traumatic experiences they have faced or are facing.

If you are interested in scheduling with any of us, call us at 903 561 8955

…If you are more interested in browsing my articles, then your best bet might be the catagories list to the right.  If you are interested in me writing an article on a given topic, you can request it in any comments section… I will try to get to it as soon as I can!

I will continue to post all new articles here as well as on the targeted site, so either option should still give you the chance to find what you are looking for.

Typically, my series, sermons and seminars will be found at:  Talks

Thanks for stopping in… God Bless you and Keep you.


More Information on my specific Counseling

My style of therapy is generally called “eclectic” which really just means I make use of many different styles and techniques of counseling.  I believe that every human life has intrinsic value, including yours.  No amount of pain, guilt, shame, regret, resentment, anger, depression, depravity, or brokenness can change that.  Every person has a story that is worth hearing, no matter how much hurt, love, purpose, abandonment or normality that life includes or lacks.

A big part of why I believe what I just said is that I am a proclaimed follower of Jesus, The Christ, into Life, death, and Life again.  I think life can often feel a lot like a series of life and death patterns.  I believe it is hopeful to know that those are a parable of the larger Epic story.  I believe in a Creator, and I therefore rationally think the most foundational thing in life is to have a right relationship with our Creator.

It seems reasonable to me that it would be impossible to over-estimate philosophically how important it would be for a created thing to know its creator.  After doing decades of research, of the major views on this problem, only Christianity has been able to offer what I consider the most reasonable answers. So, with that understanding, I am a Christian therapist.

However, as a “style” I am not exclusively what is called a “biblical counselor” nor do I offer counseling only for other Christians. Far from it. I agree with the way I was taught: I expose my faith, but am careful not to impose my faith on my clients. It isn’t always an easy integration, but that is my goal. The main way that my faith and philosophy impact my counseling is in regards to truth. I believe in the power of truth to set us free (John 8:31). I think it is vitally important for everyone to be able to acknowledge the truth about their lives – this point is also made in Orwell’s “1984” when it is noted that true freedom begins with the freedom to speak the truth.

Until we can say what we know is true, we are still bound. I make use of reality therapy techniques, Gestalt work, psychotherapy, Jungian archetypes, personality theory, paradoxical work, REBT, transactional analysis, and virtually anything else I come across that works and fits within what I believe is true.

I believe that each human being is so complex and unique that no one therapeutic theory covers everyone. Generally, I talk to people for about 50 minutes in the session, but the real work comes in the hours of integration in-between sessions. I encourage people to deal with the past and not ignore it – to speak the truth about their past. This is not about living in the past. Understanding, speaking and accepting the truth about our past is a work of the present.

I also encourage people to face the present and future honestly. Reality therapy becomes vital when dealing with the present. I think that many more people could really benefit from counseling than get it. It takes a certain level of emotional health to be able to risk coming in. Coming to counseling the first time can be pretty tough, so I applaud anyone strong enough to do it, especially those who are able to come in before they are in stage 4 sickness… Counseling isn’t meant to last forever, so come in with some specific goals and you and I will work together to identify and deal with those and any others that arise.

Final words for this section: beware of coming in for counseling when it is storming and the roof is leaking, and then quitting when the rain quits rather than when the roof is repaired.

any questions?

what does this mean?

The Five Loves


This is far-and-away my most popular article I have ever written.  I thought it was time to bring it back out and let it run again.  Enjoy!

How wise of you to be researching love.

Few things in life are more important than true love (“except maybe for a nice MLT: mutton lettuce and tomato sandwich…”)…

I am no Greek scholar, but I am passing on what I have been taught and what I understand about these words and concepts.  I also wanted to make sure that this discussion allows you to get some insight into how to apply this understanding to your life.

So when someone says “I love you,” you can try to figure out what they mean!

Especially what it means that GOD loves you… and God does love you, by the way.

Language can tell you a great deal about a culture and that culture’s priorities – the Inuit (Eskimos) are said to have nearly thirty words for “ice” which describe various colors, textures, and uses, among other things (I don’t know if this is true or not, by the way).

Any group of adults in the U.S. can probably come up with that many words for money. However, we tend to use the same word to describe many different aspects of another concept: love.  We love our mothers, pizza, baseball, spouses and children, all the time using the same word to describe these relationships!  The one word:  love, cannot be meant the same way in all these situations.  To avoid confusion, let’s look at some Greek words that distinguished between some of the very different situations.

1.  Mania – Manic love is almost not a love at all.  The word “lust” is probably not strong enough – “obsession” is closer to the word.  This is the love of possession.  I “mania” that which I obsessively desire to own.

It is generally seen as taking over the “lover” like insanity – thus the connection to modern concepts of madness (kleptomania, pyromania).  It is like the opposite of a phobia (an obsessive need to avoid something). “Mania” is translated as “madness” and “beside yourself” in Acts 2.

2.  Eros – Eros is obviously the root word for “erotic,” but it does not describe sexual love only, it actually describes all emotional love; the feeling of love.  Eros love is that insatiable desire to be near the target of this love – the exciting, passionate, nervous feelings that sweep over people in the appropriate circumstances.

This is the love that says “I love how you make me feel.”  As an emotion, Eros changes, sometimes suddenly.  Remember that it is entirely based on circumstances, the interoperation of circumstances, and on the target of its emotion.  As an emotion, alone, it is morally neutral, however, it can just as easily lead to lust (sinful desire) as it can passion or romance.

It is also a good picture to think of Eros as the fruit and flowers of a new relationship.  Eros is not a bad thing, but it is also not a “good” thing. The word Eros does not appear in the Bible.  I have some more thoughts on the way “eros” thinking affects our interaction with sex and intimacy at eros and sexuality.

3.  Philos – Philos love, or brotherly/friendship love, is the next kind we will look at.  Philos describes the love between two people who have common interests and experiences, or a fondness for.

Hemophiliacs apparently seemed to ancient doctors to have a “fondness” to bleeding, for example.  Unlike Eros, which pulses up and down like waves on the ocean, Philos steadily grows, like a building being constructed stone by stone.  For this reason, when close friends are separated for a while and reunited, they will often say “it is like we picked up exactly where we left off.”

Philos is half about the circumstances, and half about the commitment of two people to one another; it says “I love who we are together,” or in case of a non person:  “I am fond of this food.”  Philos love generally grows over time except in the case of some kind of betrayal.  It is commonly used in the New Testament, as in Matt. 10:37, John 12:25, and Revelation 3:19.

4.  Storgy (or “storge“)– We will not spend much time here; storgy is the love one has for a dependent.  It is commonly called “motherly love.”  It is entirely based on the relationship between the “lover” and the “lovee.”

When the dependent is no longer dependent, this love remains only in its emotional remnants.  It is one of the stronger loves, because it involves a commitment that relies on only one trait of the receiver – that he or she is dependent.   This type of love is toxic to a marriage under normal circumstances.

Marriages that look more like a mother/son or father/daughter relationship is moving quickly downhill.

5.  Agapeo – Agape love is the final of the five loves we look at here.  Agape love is entirely about the lover and their virtue, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the one loved.

Agape love, in its purest form, requires no payment or favor in response.

The most common word for God’s love for us is Agape (I John, John 3:16) and the love we are commanded to have for one another (Matt. 5:44, I Cor. 13).  This lack of input from the recipient makes it possible for us to love our enemies even though we may not like them or the situation they have put us in – because Agape love is not in any way dependent on circumstances; it says “I love you because I choose/commit to.”

Unlike eros or philos, Agape creates a straight line that neither fades or grows (!) in its perfect form (which of course only exists from God outward)  Oddly enough, even though many people marry out of eros love alone, they make vows that speak of commitment despite any circumstance:  richer/poorer, better/worse, sickness/health.  This kind of love is about a commitment to the very best for another, no matter what emotions or feelings exist!

You can see why in the King James Version of the Bible, Agape was usually translated as “charity.”  It is a love freely given, and freely committed to.  For a more in depth look at its aspects, look at I Corinthians chapter 13.



I think in America, especially among Christian young people, when a couple talks about “loving” one another they may not really be talking about any of these!  It is an interesting phenomenon that Christian couples in particular are hesitant to say “I love you” in a relationship – even after months of dating.

Which love are they slow to express?

Eros? of course they feel it off and on;

Philos? If they have dated months they surely are loyal friends;

Agapeo? Since Christ calls us to Agape our enemies, surely a dating couple “desires God’s best” for one another.

I think the question is actually more “devotion” and less “love.”  What they are hesitating to say is “I devote my foreseeable future to you,” maybe even “I am not ready to separate you too far from the crowd in my Agape for you.”  Taking into account the admonition to “guard” our hearts in scripture, I think waiting to commit to this devotion is probably wise, but we may have unwittingly created yet another meaning! I also regularly hear from a spouse who is no longer “in love” with or has ceased to “love” their spouse.

What do they mean, exactly?  It is hard to tell.  It seems like most of the time they mean that they are not feeling eros love at the moment.

A great analogy is to think of these loves as similar to a garden (see the short article on marriage)… Agapeo is like the soil.  It can be tended, replaced, and remember, “tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.” – (A. Tennyson “In Memorium”)

For a fantastic and more in-depth discussion of this concept, please let me recommend The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

For more good news about God’s love for us, check also a very short and simple way of understanding the good news of Jesus

Chris Legg

If you like to read more about theological questions, there are quite a few on this website. Look in the “Theological Questions” articles for much more about baptism , whether God allows us to face more than we can bear, and creationism … and more.

or therapy articles like: how much time should spouses send together?, a conversation on anxiety … and more.

Historical and opinion pieces like: religion halloween and I also answer questions of advice that get posed to me… like about marijuana and even tattoos There is also a search option over to your right to look for all kinds of stuff.

Bullying Issues – part 2

Now we pick up at point two about dealing with bulling issues:

2. Developing open and ongoing communication with your child – communication is crucial for a good relationship with your child. What I am referring to here is telling your child how they can come to you if something inappropriate pops up on their phone or laptop while they are using it. Your child needs to know it is safe for them to tell you when these things happen.

Remember that bullying is a process of shaming, and so your child will likely be embarrassed when it happens. When they see that or accidentally see inappropriate material online, they need to know that they can come to you and be safe.


3.  Sibling safety, a bullying-free zone – Set a standard in your home that teasing and insulting one another will not be tolerated. Kids can be remarkably resilient, but when they are teased both at home and school it becomes too much for them to handle. Children desperately need to know that their parents and siblings love them deeply and are on their team. Insults and name-calling have no place in a family.

The concept of the family as a team also guides your children for how to care for one another whenever they are away from home. A team cares for one another. A team encourages and spurs one another forward. Team members put each other first. In this way, we teach our children what an appropriate level of responsibility for one another is.

But what do I do if my child is already being bullied?

The points above are never too late to implement into your home. If you have found out that your child is being bullied, take these two steps as a part of deciding what is best to do.

1.  Remove the shame - Bullying is, at its core, shaming another person in order to gain control. The assumption for a child is that if you were more popular or better at sports you would not have been bullied. This simply is not true.

Therefore as a parent you remove the shame from your child. Show your child respect by listening to all that they tell you about what happened. Listen first, and hold the talking for after they are finished.

Once your child is finished, remind them that it is not their fault that they were bullied. Praise your child for who they are, and speak identity into them. Be specific on this. Remind your child who they are. And especially if your child is resistant to this type of praise, find creative ways to speak this truth to them over the next several days.

2. Evaluate the decision as a team – What do we as parents do? Do we step in, or talk to a teacher or coach? How do we handle the situation? While there are many factors to consider, it is important to keep your child in the conversation with you and your spouse. This is directly linked to removing the shame. By making your child a part of the decision-making process, you are giving your child a voice when he or she feels voiceless.

Whenever possible, make a unanimous decision about what to do. Make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what is going to be said or done. Be open to your child’s feedback, and set a date that the three of you will talk again in the near future to follow-up. This allows for adjustments to be made and gives your child another chance to naturally share about what is going on.

Josh Berger can be reached and scheduled with for training, teaching, or counseling at Alethia Counseling 903 561 8955.

This is encouraging and challenging.  Let me strongly encourage you to read the entire article, especially if you lack/lacked any of the traits of success in early life.



Angels, Mankind, & Sin (and the LAB will be amazing!)


We start up next week.  Great study, but not a lot of homework.  The perfect pair.

Just kidding about the lab.


I thought I would re-release this conversation as 9-11 is coming around again soon…


“The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.”

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This next little series is going to be very different from things I have published in the past… and I am honestly concerned that someone will think I am going off of the deep end.  I certainly hope I am not.

I want to write a series of short articles for a very specific intention.  I want to encourage all of my friends and neighbors to prepare themselves to survive without commercial, government, or retail help for at least a few weeks… maybe a month, at minimum.

Before I start on that path, though, I want to explain that I am not what would be thought of as a “prepper.”  We do not have a massive arsenal, years of stockpiled food and supplies, a bomb shelter, or even a generator (yet).  I do believe that society-ending events are possible, but unlikely.  I dislike the thought of using limited resources to prepare for something that I think is unlikely or worse, unavoidably lethal.   Those were resources that could have been used in a powerful way to impact people today!

However, I think society level interruptions are likely… and most of them can probably be ridden out with wisdom, creating the chance to minister to needy people, and help avoid a society interruption that turns into a society ending event.

Our system can recover from most things, I think, if enough of us can tend our own gardens during the time it might take a system to reset.

Think of traffic.

Traffic can be caused by an accident, but in that case, the resulting jams are pretty unavoidable until things are cleaned up.  However, most traffic is caused by one person, or a series of people, unable to respond gracefully to a curve in the road, a blown tire in the road, or an accident going the opposite direction… so they brake. And the car after them brakes… and so forth.

Now, consider a crisis in which food delivery was interrupted for three weeks in your community.  If most people could settle in, help one another (a big issue for me that I will comment on later), and wait until the service could be restored, then the crisis could be awful, but not society ending.

However, imagine what happened in New Orleans at a more massive scale.  Imagine if food and water had not taken 2 days to get to people, but two weeks!  What would we have seen?  In two days we saw looting and worse.  In two weeks, the entire area would likely have devolved to true anarchy.  If the anarchy had spread, or been regional rather than just an area of one city, then what?

If most people within a region, state or worse (as I assume is accurate, but have no way of knowing) run out of food and water in less than a week, then everything else will break down too via riots, rampaging mobs, etc…  What might have been fixed in a month might never be recovered as people abandon their jobs, and thus power, water, medical help, etc collapse and the situation escalates quickly.

Could governmental systems that we rely on respond well enough, soon enough, and effectively enough?

Do they typically with much smaller issues?

Have they in the past? (we will examine at least one of them before we are done)…

I want to encourage my friends and neighbors to consider being prepared to survive without that outside intervention so that we can be part of the solution rather than adding to the problems of such a situation.

As a Christ-follower, I am not afraid of such situations.  My faith and God can sustain me in any situation… but I would see it as a great opportunity, that since I can reach into the community and help in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Also, my goal is to avoid radical out-of-the-box thinking on these… I want to instead offer up some short looks at some historical events, that if repeated, would require a family/community to survive for a significant period of time with little-no outside help.

So, I will not be examining global robot domination, no Zombies… though there is some risk of self aware computers taking over someday ;-)  because it has not happened in the past.  However, I will write a short article about the potential effect of solar flares on our complex electrical systems, because it has happened before.  I will take a look at governmental failures, because they happen all the time.

(while I was writing this, the US government experienced a “shutdown” which actually had little impact on the majority, but greatly impacted a few.  A FB message stood out to me as a mother panicked that she would not be able to get formula for her baby bc she assumed WIC and other dependency programs might be shut down.  They were not, but it makes a point… if we depend on someone or something undependable, we will get left hanging eventually).

So, look out in the next few weeks for historical examples of things that we, as a race, if not a nation, have faced before under different circumstances and how we might be prepared to face them in the current less flexible existences we lead.

My main goal is to motivate families to make rational, wise, and healthy preparations for a tough time… and a desire to help their neighbors…

Information, not fear.

Planning, not paranoia.

Looking to be a good neighbor…

I hope you appreciate the ideas and thoughts.

list of things to prepare

possible grid-grinders:

influenza (or any sickness)

solar flares (or an EMP attack)

financial meltdown (triggered by any source)

Just in time for school, Josh Berger (http://www.bergercounseling.com), one of our counselors at Alethia (LPC Intern) has written an article about bullying.  We hope it is helpful to you!

When Kids Get Bullied


For many of us, bullies were an unfortunate part of growing up. We dealt with the worry, the embarrassment, the shame. We hoped to avoid being the focus of their attention, and if we were fortunate we succeeded more often than not. Eventually the end of the school day came, and we went home. There was a break.

There was time to recover.

This is where bullying has changed recently. With the integration of the internet into every aspect of life, now it is possible for ridicule and mockery to invade our very homes. A status on Facebook, an embarrassing video on YouTube, a picture on Instagram – all ways that our children and teens can be attacked in the comfort of their home. It happens all too often. Now our kids do not get the time away from the bullies, and the impact that this is having is significant. The term for this harassment is cyberbullying. It is when bullies invade the sanctity of our homes through computer screens, tablets, and smartphones. So what do we as parents need to do? Before jumping into the dicey topic of bullying it’s important to take a step back, to remind ourselves of our end-goal as parents. Our role as parents is through self-sacrifice to love our children and prepare them for the life God sets before them.

Douglas Wilson calls this self-sacrifice the principle of “my life for yours”. We are to give of ourselves unconditionally, as Christ gave of himself for us. And parents sacrifice knowing that we are not our children’s savior. We equip our children, knowing that life will often not be as easy for them as we would like. But also knowing that our God loves us and uses the events in our lives to make us more like him.

We want our children to grow up into mature and godly men and women, and men and women who are “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4) are that way because God has brought them through trials. Now with this as the framework we can better discern how we handle when our children get bullied. There are many different ways to bully, but the focus of this post is the bullying that invades our homes through online venues. When this happens, it is unique because of its anonymous nature. Anyone can put things online for all to see.

Because cyberbullying invades our homes, it is best to start actively engaging with our children before the bullying occurs. Bullying tears down and isolates; therefore it is best to integrate and build up. This is going on the offensive. Here are three points I recommend to parents who are concerned about cyberbullying or other risks associated with the internet:

1. Clearly defining what the purpose of having a cell phone or laptop is –This is best started at a young age. As you give your kids new freedoms, you lay out the purpose of why you are giving them this new freedom. For example, a cell phone is a useful tool that allows kids to keep in touch with you as parents easily when they are away from home. It is not a device to remove the child from the home by spending all of their freetime talking or texting. You may allow them to use the phone for talking to friends, and indeed you should, but that is not an inalienable right of your child. Giving that time is a blessing. So map out with your children what is and is not allowed to be done online and on their phone. Get specific, particularly as to what apps are and are not appropriate. I also recommend that parents require they have the username and password to every site your child logs into. This is simply for their safety. For the same reason, it is a good idea for phones and laptops to be kept in public areas of the house.

Next week, we are going to look at some more simple steps for dealing with bullying:

I was recently was interviewed by a Master’s Student about my opinions on mid-life crises.  I do not claim to be an expert, but I think the mid-life crisis is an identity issue.  Anyway, here are my thoughts

- Do most people experience a mid-life crisis? And does it affect men more than women? Or vice versa?

It is possible that everyone does… but I don’t know if it would count since many people handle the “crisis” with such grace that it does not seem to be a crisis for them.  However, I think everyone asks the questions that make a mid-life crisis what it is.

- How does a mid-life crisis affect a person both personally and professionally? 

It depends on how they handle the crisis.  If something damages the foundation of your life, it cracks everything else too – or at least shifts it.  Especially if your job is your foundation, as it is with most Americans, then yes, it will change at every level.

- How does a mid-life crisis affect the spouse/family/friends? What effect does the crisis have on others? 

Again, it totally depends on the way the crisis is navigated.  It can be a huge blessing to the family, if it means that dad decides to change his job so that he can focus more on them, or God, or being a healthier person.  If instead, he engages in addictive adolescent behavior – gambling, substances, addictive relationships, etc… it can be devastating.

- Is there a certain time frame that mid-life crisis usually occurs? How long does it generally last? 

As the name implies, the time frame famous for them is “mid-life”… in the late forties or early fifties.  It lasts anywhere from a few introspective moments to the rest of the person’s life.

- What signs/symptoms occur during a mid-life crisis?

a change in thinking and behavior… typically, when it is called a crisis, it is a radical change.  Often, in the stereotypical  cases, it involves a reversion to adolescent behavior – trading in the spouse for a newer model (so to speak), quitting old career, buying a red sports car, spending a bunch of money on plastic surgery, having an affair, etc.

- Does a mid-life crisis occur without warning, or are there signs leading up to it? And if there are early warning signs, are there ways to mitigate the effects? 

What is needed is identity work.  I think this is the first stages of Erikson’s crisis of “Generativity versus stagnation” – do i spend the rest of my life investing my treasure back into myself or do I spend it on others and creating a legacy? Signs would be the more minor expressions of this showing – questioning their value and purpose in life.

*** You did not ask me what I thought a mid-life crisis is.  I think a mid life crisis is the psychological bind that comes when people ask themselves “is this all there is?”  “is this what my life is and is going to be?”  “Am I ok with finishing my life on the same trajectory that I am on?”

This is mainly a crisis bc people wait until too late to ask these questions… and deny asking them as long as they can.  Well-actualized people ask these questions often (I have an alarm set on my calendar to ask them every week for me).

We need to ask these questions regularly – healthy to question.  “The un-evaluated life is not worth living”  and all that.  we encourage people in our culture to found their identity in performance and acquisition… both of which are very poor foundations… tragically so.  At one point, men aged 65-75 were the number age range at risk for suicide… like Robin Williams – what is the point of life when you cannot perform anymore?


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