Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Welcome.

(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.

Chris

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?

Family Time

Psalms 118:24

“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I remember as a kid wandering around the neighborhood with other kids, all of us dressed in costumes, and going house to house greeting neighbors I rarely saw at other times… usually parents would come along – mine always did.  I would guess that it was the only time that our neighborhood gathered or united together for anything in a typical year.

I also remember when due to a combination of fearful Christian teachings and the rumors of reports (which turned out to be false, as I understand it*) of people poisoning candy and putting razors in apples, we stopped trick-or-treating for a few years. *http://www.snopes.com/horrors/poison/halloween.asp

Over the years, I consistently heard the Christian teaching on Halloween become more isolationist.  I heard about how Halloween was “The Devil’s Day” (or even the Devil’s Birthday!) when pagan Druids did evil things and that Christians should essentially avoid doing anything on that day that would smack of a Halloween celebration.  What did we have to do with the celebration of witches, ghosts, goblins, and candy corn (especially the ones with the brown layer made especially for Halloween), on the Devil’s Birthday, anyway?

So, the evangelicals generally boycotted Halloween for what seemed like at least a decade. Some still do.

In the last decade, there have been some changes.  Now, many of our churches are hosting “Fall Festivals” that happen to fall on the same weekend as Halloween and have lots of candy (ironic, since the pagans celebrated what would loosely be a “harvest” or “fall” festival and “Hallowe’en” (“All Hallowed Day’s Evening”) was the Christian name for the celebration).  At least, we seem to see this as our token capitulation – if the kids are going to be doing bad things in Satan’s name, we can at least give them a righteous version of that event… or at best,  perhaps we are just doing what our ancestors did:  throwing a bigger and better party than the pagans.

In my extensive and maybe exhausting (not an accident) discussion of the history of Halloween and other holidays (http://chrismlegg.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/historical-understanding-of-halloween/) I reference how so many of the pagan practices have been absorbed in our celebrations of Easter, Christmas, and Halloween… but that is not actually precisely what I really believe.  It happened for sure, but something else happened first.  The thing that happened first was that the pagans tried to absorb some the good things of God’s creation!

I believe that God created everything… first… and still owns everything.

I believe that God, not druids, created evergreen trees to be green all year long.

I believe that God, not pagans, created bunnies, eggs, and bright colors.

I believe that God, not witches, created pumpkins, harvest, and children having fun.

I think it is error for us to abdicate ANYTHING to Satan.  Just because some of his representatives throughout time have tried to take control of some of the things God, in His artistic brilliance, designed and brought into creation, doesn’t mean they get to own it!

October 31st, this year, and every year, is a day the Lord has made.  I think we should rejoice and be glad in it.  Satan doesn’t get a day.  He didn’t make one, and though he may be the governor of Earth at some level at this time (a discussion for another day), he created none of it.

Of course, as a family, we have some boundaries about what our kids can dress as… but that is not primarily about us thinking that it is inherently evil for them to dress as mythical or even pagan symbols… since they come up with some pretty crazy things in their own imaginations.  Plus, if we really examine it, our standards are pretty cultural, not moral (we would probably say no to an axe murderer costume, but not to a Darth Vader costume… no to a witch, but not to an Egyptian princess (who I assume would have have been a polytheistic pagan too))   I recognize and accept the tough line being drawn there…  Honestly, I prefer them to dress up (and this is in regards my children, who often dress up to some degree almost every single day!  As I mentioned in the Phalanx, my eldest son wore a cape for 2 years! http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/phalanx-introduction-2/) as people or ideals that we can find something honorable or admirable in them to appreciate (Phil 4:8)… like heroes, princesses, and race car drivers (ok, so that last one is a stretch ;-)

None of this is about denial – I believe that evil spirits and devils exist… as well as axe murders, hippies in too-short skirts or French maids, but we do avoid glamorizing such things with our children.  These are icons that communicate something.  It isn’t fear that causes me to avoid them, but I want my children to think of Holiness and modesty as not flippant topics.  Man, being a parent can be tough, can’t it?

…but primarily these choices end up being about appropriate dress (modesty), not too scary for other kids (compassion), not ‘gilding’ something that has nothing good in it… and of course, we make an attempt at avoiding offending… based on the Romans 14 mindset.

So much about the grace filled life is about motivation and the heart behind something.  The kids design faces and we carve pumpkins pretty much every year, and some years the kids pick scary faces.  We are not trying to scare off evil spirits (we count on our Savior and His hosts for that), or celebrate something evil.  We just enjoy goopy, messy, creative fun with dad.

Great evidence of the truth that this day is not somehow owned by Satan, is that almost 500 years ago, on this date in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church.  Though the Christian reformation had been ongoing for many years, this date marks whenthe Protestant Reformation was finally fanned into a rolling flame.  God’s Day, not Satan’s.

So, my vote is that Christians don’t bunker up or hunker down with their dark porches and hide behind the couches on the “Devil’s Day”  with crucifixes in hand and the guns loaded.

I vote we have fun and celebrate as only people with new life, abundant life, and eternal life, can.

Celebrate this day as others – it is good as a reminder of the lives and deaths of Christian Martyrs, many of whom will likely die on this day again this year, as on every other day of the year (www.persecution.com)!  Thank God for His faithfulness.  Have fun with your neighbors on typically the one day that neighbors join together on something anymore – make the most of it!  Meet them, greet them and invite them back for dessert and love them in the name of Jesus Christ… and love their little witches, axe murderers and even Power Rangers who come knocking at your door.

But that’s just my opinion.

The Peace of Mind Conference was filled with fascinating information, helpful ideas and challenges.  I would recommend any of them, but I especially recommend Ed Stetzer and Kay Warren.

http://peaceofmindtyler.com

 

Middle Knowledge

Paintbrush on canvasI sometimes need to teach through the concept of middle knowledge, so I thought I should have a page with just this information.  For a more in-depth conversation, check out the articles at “Calvinism predestination middle-knowledge and does God know the future…whew”

Middle Knowledge

God decides to create. At this point, He has limitless options because only God can limit His own options. He is a painter with a literally blank canvas… because God can create from nothing. He is limited by only His own decisions.

God decides to limit His options. A possible example: He decides He wants some part of His creation to have the option of accepting or rejecting His love for them.

God no longer is choosing from limitless options (by His own choice and design). He has begun to narrow toward what He wants. No one is forcing this on Him. This is like you choosing a candy bar at the gas station. No one limits your choices but you, and this only expresses your freedom, not diminishes it.

God looks through all the possible futures of all of the possible worlds He can choose from. He is not just choosing a starting place and letting it go; He knows all of the sparrows in all of the worlds still within His guidelines. This is an extension of what is called “Middle Knowledge.” This concept explains that God not only knows what will happen, but He even knows what will NOT happen. He knows futures that don’t exist. Check this out:

1 Sam 23:10-13

Then David said, “O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account. “Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit. (NASU)

Notice that God tells David what would happen if he stayed, but he didn’t stay! God described a future that didn’t happen.

So, God looks down through all the possible futures of all of the possible worlds and creations He could create within whatever bounds He had chosen for Himself.

I think it is safe that in some of these potential creations I accepted His free gift and in some of them I did not.

In some of them I freely chose to accept His love for me and in others I freely rejected His goodness to me (heck, maybe there was only a few in which I freely accepted His love, or maybe even just one – yikes!). All of these possibilities existed in His mind. In the end (or rather “in the beginning”) He chose one and created it.

It seems self-evident to me that God knew all possible creations He could have created. How could He NOT have known? It also seems self-evident that He would have known them before He did the actual creating.

In the act of creating, He knowingly, foreknowingly, and sovereignly chose His creation to create.

Also, in doing so, He knowingly, and foreknowingly and Sovereignly chose me.

I freely chose Him, but only in the world He chose to create.

I chose freely by His design; He chose sovereignly in His creation.

He, in His grace, saved me. This was His work. Though the Spirit, in faith, I freely chose to respond to His grace rather than reject it.

He chose, foreknew and predestined. I heard and freely responded. And neither cancels the other out.

Now, this may not be accurate as to what happened when God created, but it shows that it is possible and even reasonable for God to choose me and for me to choose God without the two coming in contradiction to the other.

I want to express carefully that I do not believe it is because of any positive aspect of my character that I would have chosen God… only a positive aspect of my nature – namely, having been created in the image of God.

In my hopelessness and helplessness, He has given grace freely. If I can do anything, it is that I accept His free and perfect gift. I may not even do that, but I am certain that is the most that I do… perhaps that is part of being created in His image – which all humans are.

Salvation is a gift offered from the grace, kindness, love, goodness and identity of God. Me asking has nothing to do with Him offering and giving. The most that I believe a human can do is accept. It is probably not unlike a man hanging from a cliff accepting a hand even as he begins to fall, and possibly not even that.

Again, I am not an expert on these matters, though I am fascinated by them – and love when Christian thinkers break out of the mold of common but rut-based thinking. However, William Lane Craig IS an expert on them, and I will offer one link to some of his work. http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/omniscience.html

 

Ok, and I also want to comment on another theological view that is often linked to Middle Knowledge…

 

At different times in the past, an ancient heresy has re-risen. (Typically new theologies are just recycled old heresies). Recently, it has been called “Open Theism” or something similar.

 

“Open” is a reference to the theory that God does not know the actual future – but ONLY the possible futures. Make sense?

 

In other words, the idea is that God knows all possible futures, but He doesn’t know which one will actually happen.

 

This was based on many different passages , especially those that that reference God “regretting” something (Gen 6:6 and 1 Sam 15:35) and others, like the one I listed above about David. How can someone who knows the future regret something? (I will explain how in a second, I think).

 

The idea is that God knows all that is knowable (omniscient) but that the future isn’t knowable. It was largely brought back into vogue to make God less “responsible” for when bad things happen. (It actually fails in this regard, since it doesn’t limit God’s omnipotence or omnipresence and since God would still be there and would still be powerful enough to act)…

 

However, passages like Isaiah 46:9-10 indicates that God knows the future and even reveals it sometimes. (the whole idea of prophecy challenges the thought that God doesn’t know the future)… Psalm 139:4 indicates that God knows words before I form them. Obviously, any passage that talks about God’s predestination and foreknowledge defies the idea that God doesn’t know the future.

I wanted to add my final note and my sources that I cited here as well.

Another note:

In another Science Friday interview with Dr. Krauss (Jan 13, 2012 – Science Friday), Krauss confronts the question of “Why there is something rather than nothing.”

Krauss makes the claim that the question of “ ‘Why is there something rather than nothing’ is a scientific question, not a religious or philosophical one…”

I think this largely stems from Krauss’s obvious continued confusion about what “nothing” is. Dr. William Lane Craig has been driven to pulling hair out about Krauss’s confusion here. After listening to this interview, I began to understand.

Clearly nothing means “not anything.” But Krauss still equates empty space and nothing as the same thing.   In essence, Krauss does not believe in “nothing.” And he also seems to be unable to understand this simple definition.

As a therapists (and a pastor too, sadly), I have known many men who seem unable to assimilate new information. Maybe the rational definition of “nothing” is too new a way of thinking for him.

He talks about how empty space and “nothing” are the same thing and then he will talk in detail about how empty space is not truly empty – but is full of all kinds of stuff.

Wouldn’t that mean that it is not empty? By what possible standard could that be considered “nothing”?

With his definition of “nothing”, you can understand why he would say things like, “nothing can create something all the time…”

Further, at one point, one of the scientists made the claim that “When people ask “why” what they really mean is “how”, and went on to clarify that “If you say ‘why does the sun shine?’ you really mean ‘how does the sun shine’.”

No, it isn’t.

At least it isn’t when I ask it. I ask why, and am interested in “why”.  I am asking “why” as in “what explains the source – what explains the fact that it does shine rather than not exist. I am asking for source and motivation. I am NOT asking “how.”

I understand the process of HOW rain falls. They water cycle is pretty evident. I want to know WHY that cycle exists in the first place.

I understand the HOW of evolution, to the degree it can be understood with all the gaps… but I want to understand WHY the mutations happened, WHY life exists. WHY is there anything rather than nothing.

 

 

Resources:

 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/cosmic-inflation-evidence-of-post-big-bang-expansion-discovered-1.2575998

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/cosmic-inflation-theory-early-universe-expansion_n_4979486.html

 

“Science Friday”… on March 21, 2014, hosted by Ira Flatow

 

“Science Friday”… on Jan 13, 2012, hosted by Ira Flatow

 

Achenbach, Joel. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-big-bang-theory-gets-a-big-boost-evidence-that-vast-cosmos-were-created-in-split-second/2014/03/17/d6c21850-adfc-11e3-9627-c65021d6d572_story.html

 

Peplow, Mark. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-view-of-primordial-universe-confirms-sudden-inflation-after-big-bang/

In an earlier interview, in a conversation about the beginning of the universe, one scientist made the claim that science has “made it clear that there is a plausible case that a universe like the universe we live in could result literally from nothing…”

When Krauss said that “all of the energy that we see was created from basically empty space,” what does he mean?

Probably this: “Multiple lines of evidence, including the detection of the CMB exactly 50 years ago, have bolstered the consensus model of modern cosmology, which shows that the universe was initially infinitely hot and dense, literally dimensionless. There was no space, no time.” (Achenbach)

In the first tiniest fraction of a second – 1/1000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (some day 32 zeroes) th of a second,

the universe increased in size by 1000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times!

It had been thought for quite a while that a lot of stuff happened in the first moments of the universe’s existence (I once heard someone say that much of the growth of the universe happened in the first 30 minutes of after the Big Bang… or of the Big Bang)

I do not remember who that was (probably from some kind of NOVA show or something)… but whoever they were, they apparently weren’t even close.

In Millionths of Trillionths of a part of a second, it seems, the universe expanded from nothing to a significant something, millions of trillions of times in size.

Dare I say it?

As if it were spoken into existence.

Now, I do not want to claim something as “ours” without looking at the whole picture. There are many other implications of this discovery that some Theists might not be so happy with (it turns out that the universe is probably 14 billion years ago or more.   My personal views does not struggle with this, but I know that many people’s do.

It also means that probably only about 5% of the matter of the universe is “normal” matter – most of the rest is the mysterious stuff that modern scientists call “dark.” (Peplow) We will have to keep waiting to figure out what the implications of that means too, because right now, no one has any idea.

The reason that I wanted to write on this, is to encourage those who are theists, but who feel stupid, marginalized and written off by those in the scientific community.  It is ok to be a theist and a scientist. Be encouraged that in this case, and at this point, what even the secular scientists have uncovered about the beginning of the universe matches what Christian (and Muslim and Jewish) theologians would have predicted. Enjoy.

 

AtheismBigBang

This is some of my most important stuff for developing a great marriage.  I think the 5th talk is about sex… but all of the talks work together.

Enjoy!

http://www.pinecove.com/stuff/audio/woods-talk-downloads

“It takes essentially nothing to create a universe.” Alan Guth

Years ago, I read in a physics textbook a confession by a popular physicists (sadly, I cannot find the book or remember the author’s name) from the 1950’s. He remembered that the secular physicists of the time were very concerned as it was becoming more and more clear that the universe started suddenly and not outrageously slowly as had been theorized up until that time.

The concern was that the theists were going to, figuratively speaking, rub their noses in it. After all, theists of most stripes have said that the universe came into existence in an instant. In the Judeo-Christian heritage, God spoke the universe into existence.

The author also noted that the secular physicists sighed a collective sigh of relief when the Christians, in particular, came out in immediate and rabid (my word) hatred of the “Big Bang” theory.

It was not for a while before someone was smart enough to realize the correlation and create the famous (infamous?) bumper sticker “God spoke and BANG the universe existed.” bumper sticker

It is my hope that a day will come when Christians will stop reacting ignorantly to scientific input.

All truth is God’s truth. If there is a God, He is the ultimate source for everything, including truth.

Even if a blind squirrel finds a nut, it is still a nut.

Even if a secular, God-hating person uncovers something that is true, it is still true.

Let’s learn to stop forwarding emails without checking for their veracity and accuracy. Let’s become educated enough in regards to biology, physics and reality to stop making mistakes like building whole arguments on misunderstandings of things even basic scientific understandings like Laws of Thermodynamics.

Let’s let our opponents make arguments from blindness or ignorance. If you do not know what you are talking about, it is ok to not talk.

Now, I want to report on further developments from some top scientists (one of whom is a raving anti-theist and especially anti-Christian).

Then, if you are a theist, enjoy that scientists are finding evidence that is what we should have predicted that they would find. Does this prove we are right – That God obviously exists?

Of course not, but it sure is a cool thing when even secular science reports precisely what a Creationist (not an age of the Earth theory, just a source theory) would have predicted.

From “Science Friday”… on March 21, 2014 Alan Guth, Lawrence Krauss, and John Kovac were interviewed about the new input on the expansion of the universe.

I am hesitant to give direct credit for each quote since it is often difficult on the audio to tell who is always speaking. I will guess with confidence when I am pretty sure, but please excuse me if I get the wrong professor/researcher.

The new data is referenced as “…almost unimaginable.” I would imagine so, given that a purely naturalistic perspective would make this information tough to swallow.

This research was about what was going on, to quote Krauss, when the universe was “10-35 seconds old …essentially the beginning of time.”

Christian theologians have presented that God created time – that there was a “when” that precedes the movement of time, at least as we understand it. Krauss, at least, seems to agree with that theory.

So far so good.

But the coolest stuff came later in the interview.  Next week.  You are gonna love this.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,763 other followers