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Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

Woman with the Issue of Blood

Reference Matthew 9:18-22, Mark 5:22-34, Leviticus 15:19-33

One day Jesus was walking by Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee, with an official of the synagogue who had stopped Him and begged for His help with his very sick daughter.  As was typically the case, Jesus, now famous in this region for His miracles, was thronged by the crowds who followed Him everywhere.  Like any celebrity, they pressed in, longing to get a closer look, to hear His words or to touch Him.

The passage is clear that this is his “little daughter” – this is not his adult child.  This is not a woman.  She is a child.  His little daughter who hasn’t even had a chance to be a woman yet.

He specifically asks Jesus to “lay hands on her” – to touch his little girl and make her well so she can live.  Jesus follows the man toward the little dying child.

Here, we have presented to us one of the most pathetic characters of the gospels.  She is introduced as “a woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years.”

Almost certainly, this means that at some point, she had started her menstrual cycle, but it had never stopped.  In our day, that would be terribly inconvenient.  In her day, it meant much more.

The Levitical laws prescribed that a woman was ceremonially unclean during the bleeding period of her cycle for seven days. During this time, anyone who touched her or any surface she sat or lied on was also unclean.

Keep in mind that the original intent of “unclean” did not connect to sin or morally impurity – far from it.   There is a lot that could be talked about here, but ceremonial uncleanness was a way of setting something apart from other things. In the Jewish world, blood was considered the very element of life.  Life was in the blood.  To bleed would normally mean something bad, so bleeding was treated with a serious attitude.

This would mean that this woman was not only facing the consequences of losing this blood, but the restrictions with being ceremonially unclean.  To make matters worse, in the time of Jesus, Rabbinical and Pharisaical teaching had added other restrictions and a much worse attitude onto women in this phase of their cycle.

Likely she could not handle money, tools, food or anything else that was not also unclean.

Now, consider the application.  For most women in child-bearing years, this mean that for seven days each month, they were unable to prepare food, handle money, touch tools or surfaces in the home… so essentially this became a one week vacation from normal responsibilities each month!

Further consideration – these people generally lived in relatively small communities within communities.  Often, women in the same community begin to experience their period at similar times!  So, beyond even a vacation – leaving fathers and grandparents with the responsibilities of the home and older children – it was a time when women of childbearing years would gather.

Some say that many Jewish communities would have had a special tent just outside of the village where these women stayed for these seven days.  Imagine the teaching, gossip, comfort and friendships lived out as most of the woman from the ages of early teens to menopause gathered together in an overlapping seven days.  This was a brilliant move on God’s part to offer rest, training and fellowship for these women and to create a system in which husbands and other family members would appreciate what the woman brought to the family.

No wonder that, when combined with the Jewish yearning to have children, a girl’s first period was likely celebrated!

However, this beautiful system sometimes broke down.  It had broken in the case of this particular woman.

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Examining the article recently published about Men preferring Debt free virgins without tattoos –

To summarize:  in an article that makes the claims she makes, I see no research and no scripture that defends the actual claims.!  This is purely an opinion piece.  It doesn’t represent anyone at all except herself (and the original writer perhaps).

I can honestly respect her opinion and as a student, I can filter out the good to keep and toss out the bad.

To wrap up, there are actually two “bads” that I want to comment on here.  These are serious.  We must be very careful to never misattribute God’s values.

Firstly,

this article may bring to attention some moral and wisdom decision making issues that are worth referencing (see links above about tattoos, premarital sex and debt)

but I believe this was the wrong way to handle these topics.

It may represent this woman’s opinion and may match the opinion of the handful of people that she cites in her response… but

It doesn’t tell the story of God and value.

Nothing in this article can mean that a woman (or man) who isn’t a virgin is less precious or even less pure.  Purity comes from God.  Purity doesn’t proceed from human effort.  We don’t start with purity and we don’t grunt out purity with our behavior or non-behavior.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  I John 1:8-10

He cleanses us.  Not us.  He purifies us.  Not us. As pure people, we have the freedom to live in that purity(Titus 2:7, I Peter 3:2, I Tim 5:1-2, etc.)but we also have the choice to live as slaves to sin still (Rom 6). 

If you follow Jesus and accept His payment for you on the Cross, you are pure.  His blood makes us pure.  As the old Hymn would say “nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  Nothing.

And, in that freedom, we get to live as free people. What do we do with that freedom?

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”  I Peter 2:16

 

Secondly.

this article, if you aren’t careful in your reading of it, will communicate that women who are not virgins, in debt or have tattoos cannot get the best men – godly men – high quality men.

Not true.

You are not “damaged goods” (or at least not any more damaged that the rest of us) or something less lovely or less pure (see above).

Good men, godly men, understand God’s value of treasure.   And we make decisions based on His measurements rather than our own.

There are men who submit their “preferences” to God’s perspective.

Any woman who follows Christ is part of a royal family – a royal priesthood!   She is a princess of The King.  He has purchased her a treasure with a great price – and with great joy!  (Matt 13:44).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  I Peter 2:9

Of course, men and women should be wise about making big decisions like college and marriage, but our wisdom is not always trustworthy… so we first submit our understandings to God.

Here is an understanding that I think Jesus Himself would be very passionate about.   Men, women, as you consider the person who are thinking about being married to, focus on their character.

Jesus takes the devaluing of His own very seriously.  Generally, devaluing a daughter is not something that a Father takes lightly.

As you consider the past decisions of a person you are considering marrying – even considering their mistakes, please meditate on the passionate words of Jesus Christ in a vision to The Apostle Peter:

“Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”  (NLT Acts 10:15)

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But instead a stance taken against girls going to college.

Here is the “logic” of the article.

  1. Men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos.
  2. College is where debt, sex and tattoos happen.
  3. Therefore girls shouldn’t go to college.

This logic is obviously filled with error.  Even if some men prefer these traits, and even if a woman wants to attract a man like that…

Don’t debt, tattoos and sex happen outside of college campuses?

Are less-well educated woman LESS likely to have sex or get a tattoo or to have a payday loan at 200% interest?  I happen to know, firsthand, that there are, and have been, debt free virgins who went to college (some for a LOOOONG time) and who didn’t even get a tattoo (and I am not just talking about myself – see photo)

I would love to see some research on this, or on what percentage of men (even “godly” men) prefer in regard to these traits, or on how many other traits (kindness, friendliness, able to maintain a deep conversation, beauty, leadership skill, adventurousness, and education level and GODLINESS) are MORE important to men (even godly men) than these other three traits.

Naturally, no such research is involved in this article. I am dubious it would support her claims, especially in relation to other traits.

So, I think the seeming purpose of the article can be negated, no matter what it really was.

But what about the scriptural side of things – does the Bible (or God and therefore men who follow God) prefer these traits based on the Bible?

Of course, there are many passages in which “obedience” is required by God. So, as in the case of premarital sex, God would certainly “prefer” that we all obey his teaching to wait until a covenant marriage to embrace sex!  Beyond that, check out those links above.

The article itself is very short on scripture, though.

Mrs. Alexander references (in parenthesis in the midst of the other person’s thoughts) only 2 verses:

Ephesians 6:4 in reference to girls “not having read the Bible with their fathers:”

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

And I Cor 14:35 in reference to their not having a husband to explain the Bible to them:

“If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (I know there is a lot to digest in that one verse and I am not going to attempt to examine it here, perhaps at another time, but suffice it to say, for now, that this was about propriety, not about a wife not being smart enough to understand the Bible).

But in fact, the only verse from the Bible directly cited at all in the original articles is I Peter 3:4

“… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

This entire thought in this passage is an admonition to women to find their beauty in their character rather than their appearance.  The passage says:

“3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

The follow-up article sports quite a few more verses (mostly in other people’s posts she cites) that take a hard-line literal interpretation and application attitude about the passages, no matter what section or book of the Bible, and yet the lovely woman covering her post is wearing gold jewelry.  Something specifically mentioned in the only passage she references in her original article.   I am not intending to be “snarky.”  I am pointing out that everyone interprets the Bible when they apply it (which they should properly)

Regardless, that First Peter passage is not applicable to virginity, debt nor tattoos.

Part 3 (and most important)

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As a counselor and a pastor… and as man, rites of passages are very important to me.

Throughout history and across people groups, rites of passages have been culturally vital ways to communicate to members of the community that they are taking on a new role within that community – boy to man, worker to leader, girl to woman, servant to warrior, etc.

The medieval noble families moved their sons from children to page around age 7, from page to squire around age 14 and from squire to knight around 21. The Massai tribes “capture” the boys from the women’s side of the village and declare them men and then train them to kill a lion; when they kill the lion they move from “runner” to “warrior.”

Today in America, we have essentially nothing cultural that communicates when a boy is accepted generally as a man.   The consequence? We have hundreds of thousands of males who are not confident that they are a man. The boy looks around and sees those he thinks of as men, but none of those men are making it clear that they think of him as a man… and many of those “men” doubt it deeply about themselves as well. Where can we find them? One option is to look outdoors.

I remember helping my father pile firewood in the wheelbarrow. I was there with him. He dropped the tree, cut it up, split it, loaded and hauled it, and stacked it. Probably around age 4, I was helping him to some loading. Then one year he had me push the wheelbarrow full of firewood (and incidentally, nothing will teach someone temper control like a one-wheeled wheelbarrow, right?).

Then one year he handed me a splitting maul and had me start splitting. I knew my father saw me differently. Maybe not a man, but not a boy anymore either.

He saw me as responsible, wise and strong enough for the edge.

And then, around age 17, he handed me the eye and hearing protection and with no preamble, talked me through using the chainsaw. I spent that day with him training me on various cuts and techniques (my father was a forestry professor). I went to be knowing that night that my father thought of me as, to an important degree, a man.

… but the message was plenty clear. In fact, I remember my father referring to an adult male the he apparently thought of as “less than a man” with the phrase “I wouldn’t trust that guy with a chainsaw.”

In the ancient Hebrew scriptures, in Deuteronomy chapter 6:7, the men of Israel are instructed to teach their children the truths of God not just a few hours one morning a week… but all the time…  “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” [1]

We cannot relegate these vital truths of life and death, God and Christ, sin and redemption, love and sacrifice, temptation and forgiveness to the voice any other man, even if he is our pastor. We, as fathers, must remember that responsibility still lies with us.

When, in today’s nonstop busy world with buzzing phones, are we centered and quiet enough to talk to our children about these things that really matter?

Over logs being tossed into a wheelbarrow, and after that wheelbarrow, despite the boy’s best effort, has tipped and dumped the whole load… or find the activity you can engage with, adding with intentionality to your child’s responsibilities, and talk.

These are when these conversations can happen without feeling awkward and forced. These are when the world’s problems are solved. These are when our sons might know that they are men. This is when our kids can hear that we are proud of them for no other reason than the truth that they are our children, even without words sometimes. This is when our children might know that they are, ultimately, not ours, but God’s.

In an effort to help us men out, I have created “The Gauntlet – A study that works even for busy dads and sons along the Deut 6 model.” To learn more or to find out how to purchase one, look at the resource page or email at chrismlegg@gmail.com.

How I handle these rites in my family might offer some ideas as well.

I also have done a rite of passage for an adult man that has some fun ideas in it.

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http://blogs.bible.org/engage/michelle_pokorny/this_is_your_brain…on_stress

Periodically, when I am introduced to a valuable article on another website, I try to let you know about it here.  This is an example! Enjoy.

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imagesCA6E2P0ZSometimes you hear people say that they are in a boring marriage.

They aren’t stimulated intellectually like they once were.

They aren’t as excited about spending time with their spouse anymore.

They just feel like they are both going through the motions, stuck in a rut, and just
fulfilling obligations.

Their heart just isn’t in it anymore…

It didnt start that way… how did it get that way now?

I used to wonder how things got that way for them.
Now I think I know.

First, my answers to this aren’t going to include all of the regular aspects of everyday
life that rise up and choke out a vibrant marriage.   I mention some of those in the article about
loving with limited resources that there are many things (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/loving-with-limited-resources/ ).. things that consume our emotional energy  – kids, jobs, money stresses, sickness, burn-out, failure to exercise and much more.

However, I don’t think these alone fill in the puzzle of boring marriages.

But I have to tell you this before I can explain it:

t1larg.bored1One of the reasons that I am a follower of Jesus is that He doesn’t B.S. (can I say that?)  He tells it like it is.  For this reason, I get to listen to His words without having to constantly filter out the Political Correctness (even of His  day) and I don’t have to filter out some kind of incredulous, utopian-istic, humanistic gobblety gook.  Reading Jesus  isn’t at all like listening to Oprah’s guest of the day, or almost anyone in the field of psychology.

Jesus, when explaining how things are, actually explains how things are; when He is  saying how things should be, He explains how they should be.  How refreshing that He doesn’t mix those two things up.

When explaining how things are, too many people tell us how they think things should be.

Not Jesus.

Here is one of my favorite examples, and I think the solution is hidden here:

“ …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)

Catch that?

In most of our touchy-feely feel good self help junk it would be cuter and more prosaic.  It would read:  “Wherever you heart is, there shall you put your treasure…”

See the subtle difference?  The non-Jesus way  makes it sounds like our treasure follows our hearts.

Today, the only measure of sincerity our culture accepts is emotions – the heart.  I shouldn’t do anything unless my “heart is in it” right? That wouldn’t be sincere, or authentic, or some other such absurdity.

Imagine that we have now made sincerity and authenticity (two static and stable things) dependent on emotions (mercurial, dynamic, and constantly changing things)!  Screwtape was right in thinking that the “horror of the same old thing” has taken hold.

Sincerity is about being what you seem and claim to be… and so is authenticity.  These are raw choice.  I cannot fully choose what I feel (I am, of course, responsible for what I do in response to what I feel and even responsible to create the right environment for feeling what I want or ought.)  Emotions are largely our biochemical and  soul-level reaction to our situation.

I cannot choose to feel desire – I can only choose to create the conditions to encourage  it or avoid it.

My choices have the power to lead my emotions.

The truth is that my heart follows my treasure… as Jesus said.

Now, Jesus was talking about investing treasures in eternal things – in His Kingdom.  However, I think He is also revealing a general truth that can be applied here as well.

If your heart is not in your marriage, then, I assume that it must be because you have  stopped putting your treasure there.  Your heart has no treasure to follow.

Remember when you were dating and you would spend hours thinking about your girlfriend,  and hundreds or thousands of dollars pursuing her, and dozens of hours doing sweet things for her?  Remember how hard it was for something to divert your attention from her?  Remember the poems, the letters, the love-notes, the creativity, or even just the dates?

These are treasures…

Time

Money

Attention

Creativity

Thought

Strategizing

Sacrifice

Pursuit

Listening

yawningSo, if you are in a boring marriage, recognize that it is because you are a boring husband who is investing so little treasure in your woman that your own heart isn’t even inspired toward her.

Solution?  Plan a weekend away.  Plan it for at least a month from now, but don’t tell her until you have to.  Make it all about her getting what she loves the most.  Remember her favorite places to go, things to do, etc.  Stare into her eyes as you plan it and try to remember what she loves the best.  (this idea works for wives too)

Do it right, spare as little expense as you can, in time, strategy, and money.  Start writing a card and write one thing you are thankful about each day in preparation for your trip.

Enjoy the experience of your heart chasing your treasure, even though she doesn’t even know about all the planning.    If your treasure is in it, your heart will follow.

If you need some thoughts on planning, look over at some of the other articles for ideas.

And hey!…
after you plan it, post here and let us know where you went and rate it for us…
remember, We are all in this together.

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… and, (if you haven’t read part I, jump to it now) real relationships require dials across time.

This same principle applies to emotional responses.  Maybe you are the “worst case scenario” type – you jump all the way to the extremely unlikely but possible options? Avoid the switch and seek to examine for more likely but less intense options.

It is ok to deal with the realities rather than attempt to borrow troubles that are essentially guaranteed to not exist. A doctor friend of mine likes to remind his patients that “it is probably horses.”

He makes the point that if we hear hoof beats outside, it could be zebras (they have hooves) but probably, it is horses. Sometimes when someone has a symptom that could be an allergy headache or a brain tumor, it is most likely an allergy headache… horses.

Could it be zebras? Well, technically, yes… but pretty darned unlikely.

When it comes to worry, keep the gauge dialed down as low as the common denominators allow.

I would encourage anyone to seek to develop the skill of measured emotional responses. In the past, this character trait was called “temperance.”

Temperance means to be the governor of your emotions rather than governed by them.   We have the capacity to affect the intensity of our emotions with our minds and hearts. Learning to understand our emotions maturely is fundamental. Then learning the way to talk to ourselves in emotionally rational terms…

These are us using the dial mentality. Rather than feeling sudden and extreme frustration or rage or utter despair or completely overwhelmed, we can feel annoyed or angry or discouraged or just stymied a little instead.

You can find some more tools about emotions here and there will always be more coming here.

So, do your best to develop the patterns and skills of engaging with dials. Avoid “switch” thinking. Feel a little more or a little less – not everything or nothing. Let your relationships grow a little or fade a little… pull back a little, step up some more.

There are no perfect relationships with humans. Don’t demand them to be perfect. Get better and better and cranking the volume dial up or down a few notches. There are better things than off or on all the way.

Showers are better integrating the hot and cold a little up or a little down. Take that skill and apply it to your relationships and emotions.

Note – I am not staying that anyone who has the switch mentality rather than the dial mentality has a personality disorder, of course.

However, the reason that I talked about personality disorders at the beginning of the article is so that you can understand the dysfunctional nature of the habit to engage with off and on only thinking when it comes to feelings and relationships.

Learn to make incremental changes in emotions and in relationships. Both will become more valuable and healthy aspects of your life.

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