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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 South Spring Baptist Church. 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:

 

You can meet them HERE.at Alethia’s website.

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

…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?

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Many on the other side of this case make the argument that the amendment limits their freedom of speech.  They say that it means that they cannot “speak their piece” in support of or in condemnation of a political candidate or party.

I would respond that of course they can, and legally.   At any point in their private or even public life they can, just not as the representative of the nonprofit’s opinion.

Or, if being able to speak openly in support of a candidate as the leader of their church, is extremely important to them, then they should just rescind their own non-profit status and talk openly about it!  Being a non-profit is not a right, but a privilege that appropriately comes with some restrictions and some accountability.

I would go so far as to say that if they believe God is calling them to speak openly in support of a candidate, or in opposition to one, as a non-profit entity, they are obligated to follow God’s leadership and do so!   Fortunately, our laws provide for a completely appropriate and legal way to do that – don’t be a 501(c)(3).

Also, the way the law is written makes it clear that we, as pastors, are still completely free to speak and teach what we believe the Bible teaches.

I looked and in the most recent elections, I could find no mention of Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump in the Bible.  However, I believe that the topics of abortion, divorce, infidelity, homosexuality, greed, paying taxes, loving enemies, hospitality, war, and the rejection of racism (along with almost every other aspect of life in America) are dealt with in scripture.

I see nothing in the law that restricts in any way my engaging with those topics openly from the pulpit.  More importantly, it clears my table to stay focused on “Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

I also feel confident that I do not want other religious leaders or “religious leaders” allowed to back a specific candidate by name under tax protection as a non-profit.  I think every pseudo-church that gives out licenses now will be accepting money then.

The good news that God loves us and has paid the price to adopt us is too important a message; we must be careful to not create the atmosphere of “Christianity and…” that CS Lewis warned us against.

I grant a point to those who are concerned about this law that it will become the restriction of biblical, moral, spiritual and life-topics, because they also happen to be political issues.

That eventuality, I would stand against to the death.  However, none of these are restricted in the current law.

On the other hand, I can imagine a day when what I see as protection is repealed.  I am approached by a generous person wishing to donate money to a valuable mission or project of the church, but also wants to make sure that I mention a certain candidate in an upcoming sermon.

This may sound nefarious, but this donor would know perfectly well that I support the platform of this politician, so why wouldn’t I?

At South Spring,we do not accept donations with strings attached in any way, so this would fall apart with us, but the pressure could be impressive.  Especially when the election seems close and the issues are life and death – which they are.

I prefer not to have to be regularly disappointing goodhearted people’s pleas for me to engage with politicians by name.  Passionate, well-intentioned people can get pretty desperate when they are afraid of what is happening to their country.  Further, even in the church, some people are present for poor motives or personal agendas.

I am convinced this is a small minority (and I am in this world every day), but that minority can be loud when they are on the warpath.  I prefer the world in which they have one less agenda issue to bring to me.

I do not think that pastors or churches should seek to be a-political, but I think the boundary of ALL non-profits being held to the standard of not supporting a specific candidate is reasonable.

Sadly, not all churches are as above board as mine about accepting donations.  Since churches do not file the complete paperwork for 501(c)(3) to the IRS that other non-profits do, some churches could support candidates financially as well, and it would be very hard to track.  I would hope that no “church” would do this, but I have to wonder if the temptation will be too strong for some to avoid.

I understand the complaint. There are times when being careful about this guideline seems restrictive – and is restrictive, but I see these restrictions and every bit as much a protection to speak freely as a limitation from doing so.

Perhaps some see this as an infringement on their rights, but as I understand it, so long as the enforcement isn’t ever abused (e.g., a pastor gets sued by the state for either voicing what they believe the Bible teaches about a topic that happens to also be a political one, or that they get sued by the state for voicing their opinion of a candidate in the church parking lot or foyer in a private conversation), then I see the amendment as allowing me to focus on the moral and eternal issues that it is my calling to focus on, without the distractions of people’s political agendas.

Political issues

In general, I am a big fan of Christians being motivated by our faith to be involved in protecting the liberty via the political system.

I think it is vital that we understand how and why things work – even if they are not directly connected to scriptural issues – like raising or lowering taxes or gun control.

This conversation about the Johnson Amendment is an example of that, not a departure from it.  I think there are many excellent reasons for us to have an overt discussion on issues of freedom of speech from the pulpit and how that is matched with the protections offered by being a “non-profit.”

Non-profits and donations

Religious non-profits and churches in particular have a few advantages offered them over regular businesses.   The main one is that when people donate to a nonprofit (of almost any kind), the donor does not pay taxes on the money that they give away to a non-profit.

However, that also means that the person CANNOT delegate a specific person or political cause that the church should use that money for, nor can the donor receive any product or service directly for that money.

A person can donate to church and not pay taxes on that money they donated.  However, if a person pays for their kids going to youth camp, they do still have to pay taxes on that money (as income), since they are receiving a service directly for that money.

Sometimes it is a fine line, and the responsibility to manage these funds legally and morally are a big deal in churches.  A lot of energy goes to getting it right, so that those who give are able to avoid paying taxes on the money they earn that they then donate.

As most of you know, I am the Lead Pastor of a Baptist Church in the city that must be the little diamond on the rodeo cowboy on the buckle of the Bible belt.  It may seem odd that I would choose to write an article expressing my concerns, alongside many secular groups about repealing the Johnson Amendment.

As a Christian Pastor and someone who passionately holds to reasonable faith in Christ, I obviously disagree with nearly every aspect of the agenda of the secular organizations.   It isn’t my intent to strengthen those agendas on the whole.

In general, I am encouraged by that influence of Christianity in the USA, not concerned. I am a little concerned the direction that some Christian leaders are taking this issue.

The Johnson Amendment

When LBJ was a Senator, the amendment was passed on the US tax code prohibiting all non-profit (501(c)(3)) organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Specifically, it adds to the definition of such groups the phrases:  “…and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

I am under the impression that it didn’t draw much controversy at the time of its creation, and that does not surprise me.  The value of that addition to pastors is evident to me.

I am more surprised at the attention it has gotten recently.

Last year at about this time, Trump signed an executive order calling for the Treasury to be lenient in enforcing this amendment.  It is a law and the president cannot overturn a law by himself, but like Obama did with many laws, he has ordered the executive branch not to enforce a law – or at least to be lenient – or at least not to prioritize this amendment.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on legal matters, and I am not an expert on the Johnson Amendment, but I have never been troubled by it.

I have always assumed this rule was pushed into place by pastors and leaders of non-profits, so imagine my surprise when I see other pastors fighting to have it overturned.

We wrap up with Part 2 next week.

Here in Tyler, Texas, we have a school named “Robert E. Lee Highschool”.

It is really a pretty good public high school.  Like all public High Schools, it has its share of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, issues, ethnicities, social levels, etc.  Like most public High Schools, this is one of its great strengths.

For the Christian family who chooses public school, any school is a mission field.  Christians are first and foremost, ministers.  We minister in our marriages, with our kids, our friends, workplaces and schools.  This is true of any school – homeschool, Co-ops, Private schools and public.  Any of these can be the right choice for a family, so long as the ethic of ministry is kept forefront.

As Christians here in Tyler, we are now facing a question that we might should have seen coming years ago.   The question, on the whole isn’t new.

The school was named in the late 1950’s – during the early days of the de-segregation movement.

At one point, the Rebel was the school’s mascot and a claim to fame was the giant (second largest in the world) Confederate Battle Flag (incorrectly identified as the “Confederate Flag” on Wikipedia) that the football team ran onto the field under.

In the early 70’s, some African American students were unwilling to run in under the flag and it was retired.  At about the same time, the “Rebel” name and confederate paraphernalia was dropped.

The new mascot was the “Red Raider” (I cannot find adequate background on what a “Red Raider” actually is meant to be, but I still wonder as to the close connection to several confederate groups that were called “raiders” – usually attached to a leader’s name.  (some seem to think there is a Native American connection, but I can find even less evidence of that).

I think like most conversations about things that matter, this topic needs and deserves more than the 2 minutes generally authorized in the town hall meetings and certainly MUCH more than memes and short FB and twitter posts allow for.  Real people are and were complex.  Even political issues are and were more complex than a meme allows for.

Consider the distinction between remembering something (or someone)

The in-depth discussion this topic deserves, at least my side of it,  at the local and national level begins here.

 

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-is-it-like-to-be-a-black-student-at-robert-e-lee-high-school

https://tylerpaper.com/news/local/robert-e-lee-high-school-s-history-reveals-complicated-past/article_5b539cf7-385f-534a-85cf-f75c7e9f2042.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Lee_High_School_(Tyler,_Texas)

What is meant by “nature” or “essence”?

I am not a trained philosopher, so any input on here for this topic from a philosopher is appreciated. However, I like to take challenging concepts and explain them so that almost anyone can understand them.

In order to do that, I often find that foundational concepts have to be explained first.

This idea of essential traits and accidental traits is one of those foundations.

In the most basic sense, an essential trait can be said of something that if that trait were to change, would change what that something is.  An accidental trait is one that can change without changing what something is.

To illustrate:

I can draw an object.

What is this?  A circle.

 

 

But what if I draw one on the other side of the page?  Now what is it?

Still a circle, because LOCATION is an accidental trait of a circle.  Its location can change without changing that it is a circle.

 

Now I draw a blue one.

Now what is it?

Still a circle. Why?  Because COLOR is not an essential trait of a circle.  COLOR is an accidental trait.  Changing color does not change what it is.

 

 

Circles can have a lot of different accidental traits.

Now, I am going to draw one more circle.  This time I am going to draw it with four corners.

 

Now what do I have?

A circle with corners?

No.  Now we have a square.  Why?

Because ROUND is an essential trait of a circle.  If you change it’s ROUNDNESS, you change what a you have when you are dealing with circles.

There are other things for which shape does NOT change what they are, so shape is not an essential trait.

This is a circle.  One of the simplest concept we can tackle.

Imagine if we decided to discuss the essential traits of a chair, or a world or humankind or an individual person, or even God?

 

The compiled traits of essential traits is correctly called that thing’s “Essence” or “Nature”. Something’s “nature” is the compilation of traits that are “essential” to it.  “Nature” is another word for this concept.

 

Any of us could debate for hours the essence of God, or even something as simple as a chair.  We could also debate where essence comes from. These are questions that divide the metaphysical views of philosophy, like “postmodernism”.

 

It should be apparent that many of the conversations that we think are political are actually conversations about essence.  Is a fetus a living human being with the rights that come with being human?  What is a male or female?  What are the essential traits of “marriage”?  What is the definition of “consent”?

In theological articles, this has importance… does God even have accidental traits?  Could The Trinity have been “broken” when Jesus was on the cross?  What does it mean that “God is Love?”  Think about how this concept is vital for conversations about the nature of suffering!

I except that many of my other articles will reference back to this one.

 

http://cathykrafve.com/life-hacks-for-fathers/

My friend hosted me on her podcast this week.  It was time that went by shockingly quickly!  I think there is some fun stuff there!

So,

Actual Final Words

Again, in this case, I am not arguing against pacifism at the “personal conviction” level.  Of course, any human might determine that it is wrong for them to engage in almost kind of activity; examples might include sex, gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking, reading certain books, etc – that may be completely permitted (or at least not condemned) scripturally, but that a Christian might decide to refrain from for personal conviction…

Or even things that are otherwise considered to be blessings biblically, like marriage, can be eschewed based on personal conviction – consider the Apostle Paul and Jesus both in that regard.

Naturally, it is likely that violence is another of these. Anyone who believes that they, personally, should not engage in anything violent, is probably able to justify that decision scripturally.  As I mentioned, someday, I may see if I can make an argument against that, but this is not that time.

Pacifism proclaimed as morally right for everyone, or even any certain population (Christians in this era) is a different matter.  My conclusion at this point is that it must be attached to a more ultimate standard.  For the Christian, that standard is the will of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.  I do not see that the Christian pacifist is able to bear the burdens I have listed in these articles scripturally, in order to call for all Christ-followers to be completely non-violent.

That being said, I want to ask for blessings on those in Christian history who have been willing to push back against cultures defined by their violence!   Blessing on those who refused for fight for and swear to other gods.  Thank God for Christians who have pushed against the gates of Hell when it meant pushing against the cultural norms.

Thanks to Christians who have been willing to die for peace.  I mean to honor them by engaging with these passages with a sincere heart.  I pray that I am interpreting these passages in a way that honors Jesus Christ whose they are.  I am well aware that I could be wrong about this.  I don’t think so, obviously, but as always, I rely on God’s Spirit to enlighten us to Truth and on the Grace of God to restore whatever I do mess up here.

 

I appreciate your feedback, positive or negative.

Working Towards Final Words

Matt 5:39-42

39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

The ethic of scripture is one of the willingness to suffer for what is right.

The model is Jesus and of scripture in general is one of patience, longsuffering, and gentleness.

Let’s look at gentleness a little.

I have thought for many years that gentleness is best defined as “to use the least force necessary.”

Imagine a nurse setting a bone.

To use too much force is brutal and unnecessarily painful.  You may damage this person.

To use too little force is weak and cruel.  You may cripple this person.

We correctly understand God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as gentle.

He is willing to create pain in us if it is what we need. He disciplines.  He prunes.  He casts down.

In the same way, causing pain in others is a part of doing good in their lives and in the lives of others (even a fool can learn from the punishment of the scoffer (Prov 19:25, 21:11)).

In this passage, is Jesus intending to indicate that the ONLY way Christians can respond to any form of aggression is with non-violence, no matter what the action is?

Does He intend to say that a father should allow his daughter to be raped?  Does He intend to say that we should he offer his other daughter too?  Does that pattern apply to every behavior?

Or (as I think is the case) is He referencing the more specific behaviors that He lists here?  Is this passage about having no boundaries with others about their abuse of us or is He talking about us going generously above and beyond the normal bounds that what is required?

The law requires you to do what is legally required, but also to be more generous than that.   I cannot see how He mean to teach us that it is always wrong to cause harm in response to the condition or behavior of another.

Again, being gentle is exceptional in any culture. Being sacrificial is always exceptional. Helping others, even if it is through a painful process.  Can Christians be in roles that create pain or discomfort?

Can Christians be surgeons?  They definitely harm to protect.  Can Christians be parents?  The child will feel mistreated in the parent’s efforts to grow them.  Can a Christian be a policeman?  Can a Christian be a soldier?  Obviously creating harm cannot be the ethical line, so is there one?

Can someone who may take life follow the Christian ethic? Fortunately, a powerful Christian leader taught a little bit on that.

In Luke 3, crowds and then a tax collector and then a soldier ask John The Baptist about how to live an ethical life.  John answers the soldier:

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”(Luke 3:14)

John has a perfect opportunity here to make it clear that it is unethical to be a soldier.  But he doesn’t.  Instead, John tells them to make ethical corrections within their career as soldiers.  He points them to unrighteous behavior that a soldier could commit.

It would be wrong for a soldier to extort money.  Why didn’t John say “Don’t be a soldier.” or even “Yeah, don’t commit violence.”?

Don’t reference that John would have been intimidated.  John wasn’t afraid to say what he believed was right; it got him killed.  Why not tell these soldiers?

What is a culture like when, by definition, there are no Christian police officers – not even ones that have a Christian ethic at all? What happens to a culture when soldiers, security guards, and others who might have to cause harm and take life, are not allowed to have an ethic that sees life as treasure & something to be honored?

I want anyone with the authority to take life – judges, police, soldiers, senators, presidents, or who just have regular decisions about life and death, to be Christ followers and God fearers!

There is also an ugly version of hypocrisy here, in my opinion.

I grew up in the 1980’s and tape-burning events were pretty popular.  About once a year, a youth group in town, or a camp would host an event in which a speaker would encourage us to get the inappropriate music out of our collections. For some speakers, it was anything with a drum or rhythm (not kidding).  However, when students were inspired to follow through, there was sometimes a time for burning the items.  What I also remember is that some kids decided that the money invested was too much to lose, so they sold the tapes.

They decided that it was wrong to have and listen to these songs, but then sold them to other people.

I think that is similar to the hypocrisy of the pacifist view. In this case, I am not talking about those who say pacifism is merely their own personal conviction, but those who say that all Christians should be.

It reminds me of the liberal gun-control activists who hire armed security guards to defend them… this is extreme hypocrisy.

It is not right to ask others to sin in an effort to keep you from sinning.  If you do not think any violence can be right or if you think that it is morally wrong to kill, then you had better not call the police when someone breaks into your house.

You had better not hide behind anyone else’s gun.

In a speech in 1945, entitled “Notes on Nationalism,” George Orwell said that a thought that pacifists cannot accept even in their own thoughts is that  “Those who abjure violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf…”

Final part next – actual final words