Monday, December 3, 2018

Secure and Significant





Christ has made me secure and significant. Whether I feel it or not, it is true. I am instructed by God to believe that my needs are already met, and therefore I am to live selflessly, concerned only with the needs of others. The more I choose to live according to the truth of what Christ has done for me, the more I will come to sense the reality of my security and significance in him.
                                                            -Larry Crabb, The Marriage Builder

Friday, November 30, 2018

Loved and Approved



Do you carry the following idea around like a burden: "I should be loved and approved by almost every person I know and met, and live up to their expectations." Here are some scriptures that speak truth into this paralyzing and incorrect belief (Dr Paul's paraphrase):

Happy you are when shamed, lied about, and made to run away. Gush over with tears of joy and tell your friends the great news! For in the big picture, your paycheck is going to be massive! Just like you, the old-time prophets were run right out of town!          
                                                                               -Jesus, in Matthew 5:11

If the cosmos and even all its inhabitants bully you, hate you, or reject you, learn and know this: it bullied, and hated, and rejected me first. I very specifically picked you, and pulled you out of that false reality. So of course they can't stand that you even exist.
                                                                               -Jesus, in John 15:18-19

I have a choice. I can make it my chief goal and obsession to please, pacify, and accommodate people. Or I can follow scripture and seek to please God. I should not be rude or mean to others, I must love them. But putting God first delivers me from the impossible task of constantly trying to make everyone happy.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Castle



It started in a fairly reasonable way. A village needed help defending itself against a local criminal. A small guard tower would do. I, the castle, sent some men and a few bricks, and the village had peace. Another village had the same problem and the strategy worked again. Then an envoy needed to be sent to a far country with some gems to gift and trade. I missed that decorative wall, but I saw the need. The river flooded year after year. It only made sense to take down the parapet and use the stones for a dam to regulate the water’s flow and bring in an extra crop every season. Before I knew it, my people and my stones were going this way and that, all over the kingdom. I began to wonder what would be left. Would I even be a castle at all? I tried to be more bureaucratic, requiring promissory notes and using the official seal. But every few months, I noticed myself even smaller. It seemed I was in pieces, spread everywhere. Disconnected, not whole. I was with others, in a way, but torn and apart from myself, my identity.
Who could deny that up in the mountains a bridge must be built? So many people and horses were lost, trying to cross the white waters. But who would watch my stones? Who would ever bring them back? Was I to be only a hovel or a livery then? Even now, thieves come in the night to take a stone or two--what with no guards left and no wall.
God says: “Put all of those separated pieces on me, on my account. Those parts that are you and are yet torn from you, whether given or taken, from the largest of stones to the smallest crumbled bit of mortar. Put them all completely and fully in my trust. The reason is this: I care for the castle. I am the builder, and I take special interest. I keep track of every grain of sand that is you. I see you as your glorious whole, though for now you are distributed here and there. Fear not the giving, for thus I have made it for now. I walked that path myself, as nails split me, the whip carved my skin, and the thorns and mocking robe took my dignity. I did this for you as you do for others. Rest in me. Glory in me. Hold up your sticks and your stable as the royal things they are, for I myself have made you my home. It is the King who makes the castle after all, not the stones."

                                             -Paul Bunge, based on I Peter 5:7

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Openness and Closedness





It is not easy to strike a balance between closedness, having a clear identity that fosters growth in certain values and spirituality, and openness to those who do not live with the same values. Isn’t this the challenge of all religions and of all Christian churches? Being too open can dilute quality of that life and stunt growth to maturity and wisdom; being too closed can stifle. It requires the wisdom, maturity, and inner freedom of community members to help the community find the harmony that not only preserves and deepens life and a real sense of belonging but also gives and receives life. Then the community has truly become an environment for becoming human, helping all to openness, freedom, and to commitment to the common good.
                                                                    -Jean Vanier, Becoming Human

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Who cares? Or cares too much?



“You care too much,” people tell you. Things bother you too much. You worry about what is right, what is good, what is best. You see the gap between what should be and what is, and you are frustrated and paralyzed.
It is not that you care too much. Truth is, you don’t care enough. You care, and you get busy organizing: trying to change people and things and systems. You move them about like toys in the nursery. As if these issues were so small and insignificant as to be fixed by mere action on your part. Your work shows that you believe in the world and not in the Lord. You fail to recognize the complete failure of the world, and yourself as part of it.
Even if all the people in the whole world got together and agreed on solutions to these problems, what then? They would still fail. Why? Because we are the problem. It is in us and it is us.
But God says “rejoice in the Lord.”
When you are tempted to fix everything, and especially when that red warning light goes on in your head—the anxiety light—stop! Know that you are running low on batteries and you need to plug into God. Realize that God wants to be your only power source. Your batteries are defective, broken. When you run on batteries, nothing can go right. Find God’s extension cord instead. Think on Him. Read His word. Sing His songs. Focus on good things—these are God’s gifts and messages to you. Those things you are trying to fix? Leave them where they are.        
Take out God’s maintenance form number seven. Write out the problem in detail and put it into His request box. Then wait. God runs a mean and effective machine shop. He has resources and knowledge you cannot even begin to imagine. But he does want those forms filled out completely. He wants to hear about every single thing that is broken. He is not fond of whining, mind you. He will address your problem, so you will want to thank Him in advance. Do not be too quick to tell Him how to do His job.
Just one more reminder: stay out of God’s way. His plan for some damaged and damaging thing, or a system that needs correction, a management issue that needs re-booting, may be to blow something up, fire someone, or reorganize a department. You do not want to be around tinkering with something, duct taping the problem, when that happens. You are like a toddler in a machine shop: you need someone older and wiser around, so you don’t cause damage and get hurt yourself. Your Father, the experienced machinist, has got this. Your job is to hold onto Him and trust Him. In time, He will set you in His lap, hold your hand, and let you help him. He loves to do that.
For God’s part, if you submit the maintenance forms consistently, and especially when the warning light signals you, He promises to stay with you as an armed guard over your inner self. This you will neither see nor understand, but somehow Jesus made it possible. Be in community with His other children. Get along with them. The good things you see them doing, you do them, too. God will give you His peace. He invented it, after all.
                                                                 a paraphrase/adaptation of Phil 4:4-9

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Church




I don't think the words themselves do very much if they're not incarnated in a community.
                                                                        -Eugene Peterson, discussing church community with
                                                                          Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

God's Business



I will not try to run my life or the lives of others; that is God's business.

                             -Eugene Peterson, God's Message for Each Day: Wisdom from the Word of God

Monday, November 5, 2018

Change


There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind: you must let go of old ways in order to experience the new. We fear these losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar. 
                                                                                       -Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Hearing God



The silence that makes it possible for us to hear God speak also makes it possible for us to hear the world's words for what they really are--tinny and unconvincing lies. 

                                                                    -Eugene Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms
                                                                      that Summon You from Self to Community

Monday, October 29, 2018

Character



Much confusion in the Christian life comes from ignoring the simple truth that God is far more interested in building your character than he is anything else. We worry when God seems silent on specific issues such as "What career should I choose?" The truth is, there are many different careers that could be in God's will for your life. What God cares about most is that whatever you do, you do in a Christlike manner.
                                                                                     -Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Real


Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity. On the other hand, settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency. Maturity is living with the tension.
                                                                         -Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An End


 
The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us.

                                                                                            -A. W. Tozer

Monday, September 3, 2018

Direction



How could one find the meaning of existence, except in Him who created it? All doctors agree that one of the conditions of good health is to have an aim in life. What aim can we adopt that is not fictitious, that is more than an empty suggestion, except the fulfillment of the purpose of the creator of life?

-Paul Tournier, The Person Reborn

Monday, August 27, 2018

Transitions of Age




I have always very much liked old folk and taken great pleasure in treating them. Doubtless this is because I have felt that it is with them, with the drawing near of death and the new scale of values that this gives, that true values are sifted out, the enduring ones. If living means choosing...then choosing becomes the supreme vocation of old age, when life has become privation and earthly treasures have lost their glitter.

Then it is that a purely technical and scientific medical care, less and less effective, gives way to an ever more pressing care of the person...If medicine has no other hope to offer than a limited and temporary renewal of a vanishing ability then it becomes most disillusioning…

To cling to the past, to seek most doggedly to prolong one’s time of action means precisely this: living a useless old age…

Our task is to help men right to the end, to help them to grow up, and to help them to grow old. The new transition means to face, rather than avoid, this question of the true meaning of life.

                                                                                      -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tolerance



Tolerance is popularly understood as not imposing your beliefs or ideas on someone else but, "tolerating" the other's belief system, and "celebrating our differences." It's the core of the diversity movement.

In reality this is a false tolerance because those who are its greatest adherents cannot tolerate those who hold to certain views of the world or humans. All of us have some boundary, some point of no return that we can't tolerate. I can't tolerate excess materialism. Others may not tolerate those who believe same sex behavior is wrong or vice versa.  Others can't tolerate the consumption of meat, environmentalists, the wealthy or the adulterers. In reality, we all have things we consider licit or illicit, and we consciously or unconsciously cannot tolerate those who cross that mental boundary.

True tolerance is more of a profound acceptance of others based on our own finiteness, weaknesses and imperfections.

"The knowledge of our weakness is the source of our tolerance."
 -Tournier, The Person Reborn

True tolerance has little to do with keeping my beliefs to myself or paying lip service to accepting other's beliefs. It has everything to do with my understanding of myself. I am fallen from perfection, broken and incomplete. I will never ever have a full understanding of life. I am an interdependent, hypocritical creature, prone to judge others while simultaneously falling short of that elusive perfection.

Others may believe things profoundly different from me. I may not tolerate materialism, homosexuality, homophobia, reproductive rights, the pro-life movement, greenhouse gas emitting corporations, gender dysphoria, binary genders or a host of other ideas, issues or perspectives.

If I am tolerant, I humbly accept and embrace the other. Why? Not because they fall within my boundaries of licit ideas or behaviors, or because I accept that we believe differently. That's a delusion. But because they are a fellow creature, broken and incomplete, in need of acceptance, and redemption - just like me. I may disagree with their perspective in the depths of my soul. Nevertheless, the other is a fellow human, in desperate need for the flood-light of truth to penetrate the soul.

Blessed are the cracked, for they let the light in.

Hi, my name is Rick, and I'm a hypocrite.





Monday, August 20, 2018

A Mature Search




What is important for the aged is not what they are still able to do, nor yet what they have accumulated and cannot take with them. It is what they are.



This is the cause of the dreadful feeling of uselessness that so deeply bothers most elderly people. All those concepts of our modern Western civilization, in which effective action is held above all, contribute to their plight.



If progress in medicine tends to make our society more and more made up of older people, then a radical and authentic reevaluation of old age is absolutely essential. Yet is it not the older person himself who must discover this secret, instead of considering himself a worn-out adult?…



It is not enough to invent some new life goal by hit-or-miss, some consolation prize for old age. It is the true meaning of life that needs to be discovered. The search for this will be the law of old age...

                                                                                       -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Monday, August 13, 2018

Success and Failure


Successes have their meaning and there is no question of undervaluating them. However, failures also have their meaning, perhaps a deeper meaning. What gives them all meaning is that they work together toward the fulfillment of God’s plan.

                                                                                      -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Law of Life III: Man is made for Woman. Woman is made for Man.

First and foremost, physicians are trained in understanding the human body. They are first taught normal anatomy and physiology then pathological anatomy and pathophysiology. Learning how to doctor is fundamentally understanding the normal structure and function of the body, recognizing states that are departures from that normal, identifying the cause when possible,  then providing treatment.

The person coming to see the doctor is body, mind, and spirit: a body with particular structures and functions; a mind with thoughts, feelings and perceptions; and a spirit that relates to God, others and self, that must choose between right and wrong and seeks meaning in life. When body, mind and spirit are in disharmony, it is important to identify the problem. There are many ways in which patients want to believe something about their bodies not based on reality. The physician should compassionately bring that person back to a firm grounding based on physical reality, not feed the delusion. 

If a person presents to me with a distortion of perception of his or her normal body, I am obliged to stand fast on physical reality. I recently had a patient tell me her skull was shrinking. In reality she was depressed and losing weight which prompted this distorted perception. Her skull had not shrunk. The aberration of the normal physiology of brain function resulted in a distortion of perception and mood needing treatment, not her skull.

If a person comes to me suffering with anorexia nervosa convinced she is overweight when in fact she is not, I need to rely on the scale and my powers of observation of the body. The distortion of perception does not change the physical reality that she is starving herself. I should be sympathetic and empathetic to her convictions, compassionate and understanding of what may be causing her to believe thus. Nevertheless I would do a disservice to her by agreeing with her identification of being overweight.

If a person perceives himself to be 6 feet 6 inches tall when in fact he is 5 foot 5 inches, I must trust the measuring device.

If a man with normal anatomy presents to me convinced he is a woman, I must rely on my powers of observation and recognize the person is composed of a trillion cells with the genetic composition of XY and not XX, with the anatomic parts of a  man. Indeed if there are findings of brain function that can be measured in the man's brain by sophisticated imaging which are different than those of persons without such a perception, those findings would simply corroborate a departure from normal functioning.

Anatomy and physiology make the complementary nature of man and woman self evident. The necessary functions of the male and female bodies that result in the propagation of human beings set the necessary standard for sexual behavior between men and women. Indeed it is a law of life that for humans to continue to exist, this relationship must persist. There are aberrations from this relationship, but to be sure, they are aberrations, a departure from normal anatomy and physiology. For humans to exist, man is made for woman and woman is made for man.

Such observations should not prompt me to value any human being less, to think less of someone, to be fearful or spiteful of someone who may believe or act according to aberrations from this law of life. I am called to love. In the end though, I must be faithful to the body and its normal structure and function. I am not loving the other who has a distortion of perception or a disharmony of the body, mind and spirit by calling that distortion normal. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Battle We Don't Need


💂


In the twenty-first century, in an increasingly technological society, a battle is raging for the hearts and minds of humanity. Many materialists, noting triumphantly the advances of science in filling the gaps of our understanding of nature, announce that belief in God is an outmoded superstition, and that we would be better off admitting that and moving on. Many believers in God, convinced that the truth they derive from the spiritual introspection is of more enduring value than truths from other sources, see the advances in science and technology as dangerous and untrustworthy…

Will we turn our backs on science because it is perceived as a threat to God, abandoning all of the promise of advancing our understanding of nature and applying that to the alleviation of suffering and the betterment of humankind? Alternatively, will we turn our backs on faith, concluding that science has rendered the spiritual life no longer necessary, and that traditional religious symbols can now be replaced by engravings of the double helix on our alters?

Both of these choices are profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both will diminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devastating to our future. And both are unnecessary. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic awesome, intricate, and beautiful—and it cannot be at war with itself. Only we imperfect humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.

                                                                                      -Francis Collins, The Language of God

Monday, August 6, 2018

To Choose




To live is to choose. Those who through a childish notion of what fullness implies want to lose none of their human inheritance, sacrifice nothing, give up nothing, lose out in spreading themselves too thin...Fullness cannot be an accumulation of successes and activities in every possible human domain.



When we are young it is still possible to fool ourselves by charging to the future what the present still lacks. Sooner or later, however, we have to wake up. Behind every objective we attain there gradually take shape ten others...We have to renounce far more than we accomplish.

                                                                                     -Paul Tournier, Seasons of Life

Monday, July 30, 2018

Our Failures, God's Plans





God’s plan is fulfilled not just through the obedience of inspired men, but also through their errors, yes, their sins...I say this in order to reassure many who have despaired to the point of believing that their life is henceforth lost because at some given moment an error in judgment has misdirected their course. None can step outside God’s plan. At every moment, no matter what the accumulated ruins may be, there is a plan of God to be found.

                                                                                   -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Sunday, July 29, 2018

God and You





God is not a statue in a temple, though He calls for worship. Neither is He a philosophy or a theology, though he calls for these to reflect Him and carry His truths. God sees, God hears, God relates, God acts. God is a person. Those who would know God must know Him in this way.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Failure





Fourteen years ago my marriage with Lily hit bottom—not quite the rocks, but bottom. At the time I was leading an overnight retreat for ten participants at a small convent. Sister Lucia, who was the guest mistress in charge of the tiny retreat house where we were staying, was eighty-seven if she was a day. That night, after dinner and after I had been lecturing all day, several of the retreatants pulled out bottles of whiskey. Because I’d had a couple of drinks under my belt, because I was in a good deal of emotional pain at the time, and because she had such a kindly old face, I found myself sitting at Sister Lucia’s feet telling her that I was felling badly since I had failed at my marriage.

Sister Lucia beamed. “Oh, that’s just wonderful,” she exclaimed.

Lord, Scotty,” I thought, “get a couple of drinks in you and you go shooting your mouth off simply because this little nun’s got a kindly old face when the reason it’s so kindly is probably because she’s got no brain left behind it.” I spoke to her again, more loudly now, the way one does to the senile. “No, no, you didn’t understand me. I was telling you I’ve failed at my marriage.”

Again Lucia beamed. “Oh, I’m so glad for you,” she answered.

By this time I was becoming seriously annoyed. I practically shouted at her, “No, no, you haven’t heard what I’ve been saying. Probably you’ve got a hearing problem. You’re quite entitled to have a hearing problem at your age, my dear. But, anyway, you haven’t understood anything that I’ve said, so let’s just drop the subject.”

I’ve heard and understood you perfectly, young man,” Sister Lucia responded, looking at me keenly. “You’ve been telling me that you have failed at your marriage, and I’m so glad for you. Do you know how terrible it would be never to fail? Oh, that would be dreadful!”

I recollected certain people I’d known who felt they had never failed and thought of just how insufferable they were, and I began to think that maybe she did have some gray matter left behind those intelligent eyes. It also occurred to me it was perhaps no accident that both Sister Lucia and I were attempting to follow a Lord of Failure, a man executed at an early age in the standard manner of the day as a petty provincial political criminal, spat upon by his enemies and betrayed by his friends.

It is also, I think, no accident that my marriage with Lily began to considerably improve along about that time. For what happened after I’d concluded I’d failed at my marriage was that, on a certain level, I gave up trying to make it work. And that meant I gave up trying to change Lily. It was also around that same time that Lily decided she too had failed at the marriage, and also stopped trying to make it work and trying to change me. Furthermore, I suspect it is no accident that since that time, both she and I seem to have done a good deal of changing.

                                                                                     -M Scott Peck, A World Waiting to be Born
 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Understanding





You cannot help men by arguing with them; you can help them by understanding them.

                                                                             -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Friday, July 20, 2018

Accept





Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised at or become preoccupied with each other's failure; rather see and find the good in each other, for each one of us is created in the image of God. Jesus has said it beautifully: "I am the vine, you are the branches." The life-giving sap that flows from the vine through each of the branches is the same.

                                                                            -Teresa of Calcutta

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Bigger Life

“if you abide in me, so shall you bear much fruit” - Jesus

The meaning of the revolution in our life that comes through surrender to Christ is not at all that of limitations set upon us. It is, on the contrary, the enlarging of our life.
                                                                              - Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Giving Up Control



In youth we are called from dependency to independence, in middle age to interdependence; and in old age, ultimately, back to dependency again. But to make this final transition, we must be willing and able to give up control. A sixty-five-year-old woman came to see me for depression precipitated by detached retinas, which had rendered her ninety percent blind. She was filled with rage at her condition and at the ophthalmologist who had failed to save her from it. By our second session the underlying theme had become clear. “I just hate it,” she said, “when they have to take my arm to usher me into the pew or help me down the church steps.” And shortly thereafter, “I’m just plain bored stuck at home so much. Lots of people offer to drive me wherever I want to go, but I can’t ask them to assist me all the time.”

Fortunately for us both, she was a religious person. “It is clear to me,” I said, “that in your life you managed to become a remarkably independent woman, and it is quite natural for you to have taken a great deal of pride in your independence. But, you know, it’s a journey from here to heaven, and I suspect we can get there only when we travel lightly. I’m not sure you can make it carrying around all that pride. I can’t fault you for thinking of your blindness as a curse. It is conceivable to me, however, that you might think of it as a blessing given to you to help you strip away all your pride in your independence. Considering your health otherwise, you’ve probably got another good fifteen years left. It’s up to you whether you want to live those years under a curse or under a blessing.”

She made the right choice, and her depression quickly lifted. But a great many do not make the right choice and fight the calling to give up control to the bitter end.

                                                                       -M Scott Peck, A World Waiting to be Born

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Humility

What we say to people matters less than the attitude of mind they see we have toward them.


                   -Tournier on Tolerance
                     The Person Reborn







This is so convicting and inspiring to my arrogant mind.
-Rick

Friday, June 29, 2018

Weakness and Strength


If we deny our weakness and the reality of death, if we want to be powerful and strong always, we deny a part of ourselves, we live an illusion. To be human is to accept who we are, this mixture of strength and weakness. To be human is to accept and love others just as they are. To be human is to be bonded together, each with our weaknesses and strengths, because we need each other. Weakness, recognized, accepted, and offered, is at the heart of belonging, so it is at the heart of communion with another.
                                                                         -Jean Vanier, Becoming Human

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Doubt and Courage

We all know of Christians who say that they have never doubted. Their lives seem so pale, so far off from the heroic adventure that is faith. The most fruitful believers tell us ashamedly of the inner battles that have torn them between doubt and faith. And the great Bible characters from Abraham or Moses right through Jacob, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul all show us their conflict-filled lives, their revolts against heaven, their refusals to adapt to a God who was too demanding of them…They were real men!...they would not give in easily. Therefore their surrender had nothing in it that resembled childish dependency. Their very surrender was an act of manly courage. It brought them to human fulfillment and opened up human history to new seasons of life.

                                                                             -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Spiritual Review of Systems




If you have ever been to the doctor for a new problem, you undoubtedly have been subjected to a series of questions by the physician as he or she tries to figure out what is causing your problem. Some of these questions are a review of systems (ROS). If you went in for a cough, the doctor probably asked you whether you had any wheezing, troubles breathing, whether you had chills or sweats, runny nose or wheezing. There are review of symptoms questions for the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, the gastrointestinal system and so forth. 

In our practice of medicine, we have developed a series of questions we call a spiritual review of systems. These questions ask about potential spiritual problems that may be contributing to or even causing your symptoms. The first question asks, “What personal problems are you experiencing in your life?” The questions address issues related to guilt, bitterness, loneliness, fear, addiction, and purpose. We believe these are not simply psychosocial issues, but spiritual ones. When we are out of order spiritually, our mind and bodies will be affected. 

Just as a physical ROS can unearth physical reasons for our symptoms, so the spiritual review of symptoms an unearth spiritual issues that are making us ill. For example, I examined a man who came in with a chief complaint of chest pain. His symptoms sounded like angina, which is caused by clogged arteries of the heart. I sent the patient for a stress test which was surprisingly normal. The patient later disclosed the true source of his chest pain: his wife was about to divorce him because of his ongoing anger problem. His chest pain started soon after the breakdown in their relationship. Once he apologized to his wife for his anger, and expressed a willingness work on this issue, his recurrent chest pain resolved! The cause of the man’s chest pain was principally spiritual in nature. 

Take a look at our spiritual ROS. If you’re a provider, try asking one or some of the questions at a visit with a patient the next time you’re faced with a diagnostic dilemma. Dr. Tournier, who inspired our review of symptoms, made his life’s work unearthing spiritual issues that were causing patient’s physical problems. We think the questions may be fruitful in helping patients get well. 

If you’re not a provider, and you’re experiencing some troubling symptoms, reflect on the questions. Consider if any of the issues they unearth may be contributing to what you’re experiencing. The goal in the process is to foster the spiritual or relational virtues we allude to on the spiritual ROS, and to foster wholeness and peace: with yourself, with others and with God.

To access the spiritual ROS, click HERE.

For the related spiritual virtues, click HERE.

To download a pdf of the above tools, click HERE.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Sabbath



 Our spirits become more unified when our relationship with God is the center and focus of our lives and all other aspects find their proper priorities in the worship of the Lord. Our bodies are more sound when we enjoy a rhythm of fasting and feasting, when we truly rest by giving up the burden of possessions, when we have time for naps. Our souls are more complete when we can get in touch with our deepest emotions, our true sexuality, our creativity, and our sense of delight and play. Our minds become more robust when the narratives of our heritage as God’s people remind us of our redemption and when, as a result, our attitudes are made more wholesome and our freedom leads to the generating of new ideas. Furthermore, the interworking of all these aspects of our beings finds a new unity in Sabbath keeping because we no longer dichotomize between mind and matter, our bodies and our spirits or souls, our left and right brains. Rather, all becomes sacred and wholly integrated in our distinction from the world. We have even seen that there ceases to be any dichotomy between solitude and communal togetherness, because each is necessary for the other, and each contributes to the fullness of our being in relationship with God. As we become more intentional both about being a gathered Christian community and about enjoying our special times of solitude with God, the two work together to create a greater sense of both individual and corporate wholeness.
                                                              -Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Partner

When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” he intended, by giving him a partner quite different from himself, to force him to face up to a difficult process of mutual adaptation. He intended him to go beyond himself instead of avoiding the conflict by surrendering to his wife or by enslaving his wife. In other words, he needs to grow up.

                                                                             -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spiritual Dementia



Only some will develop dementia of the mind.

We all have the propensity to develop dementia of the spirit.



In the clinic I frequently see elderly patients who are at various stages of dementia. On the surface, they can appear with it and carry on a basic conversation. But when I dig just a bit, it's evident they have a degenerative process of the mind. One of the hallmarks of dementia is short term memory loss. When asked, patients suffering from dementia don't know where they are, the date, or the year. They won't be sure where they live or who they live with. They may not know what medicines they are on, or when they last saw a loved one. In advanced stages, dementia patients are prone to wander and go missing. Dementia is a troubling disease for the patient, and a heart wrenching condition for the family caring for their loved one. Family members will try in vain to get their loved ones to remember certain persons, places and events. Such attempts typically end in exasperation for the patient and frustration for the family member.

Unlike Alzheimer's or the other brain disorders, we are all prone to spiritual dementia. We have the propensity to develop short term memory loss, but it's a different type of loss. We forget who we are, whose we are, how we should think, be and act. We forget our purpose in life, and what we should live for. We forget how to be kind, patient and forgiving. We forget what it means to love our neighbor, often the person closest to us. We're prone to wander from the ones we love. Such memory loss leads to broken hearts, relationships and families.

There is no effective treatment for physical dementia. Thankfully there is one for spiritual dementia: communion.

Communion with one another in worship. Communion with our maker. In our spiritual dementia, we are prone to look inward. Communion prompts us to look up. Look up to the One who sustains us, loves us, and gave himself for us. Gratitude issues forth. In the act of worship, in the partaking of communion we are reminded of who we are, whose we are, how we should think, be and act. Our spirit is revived. The degenerative process of our spirit is reversed.

Like physical dementia, spiritual dementia is progressive. The longer we stay away from communing with one another in worship of our creator, the more demented we become. Like our elderly demented, we become almost unrecognizable, an empty shell.

To heal spiritual dementia or to prevent it from developing, seek out a place where communion is celebrated. Bend a knee. Lean into the spoken word and turn the eyes of your heart upward. In humility receive the gift of giving thanks.

"Do this in remembrance of me."




Monday, May 14, 2018

Isolated Study


In order to study man, we stopped the course of his life history in order to pinpoint it at a given moment. We likewise set aside his social and physical environment. What is more, we even isolated each of his organs and each of their functions. It must be admitted that the gains of this analytical method were phenomenal. Nevertheless, what was gained in precision was lost in terms of an over-all view, of an understanding of the human person himself.

                                                                             -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Searching


One can search the brain with a microscope and not find the mind, and can search the stars with a telescope and not find God. 

                                        -J. Gustav White

Friday, May 4, 2018

Spiritual and Natural


We are therefore constantly exposed to two dangers in the study of man. We may, on the one hand, see nothing more than the natural being, and thus remain blind to the constant reverberation of his spiritual life upon his natural development. On the other hand...we may see only the spiritual being, and thus ignore the role of his natural life. Thus we doctors who, in the healing of diseases, perceive only the natural animal in their client. They treat him as if they were veterinarians, quite oblivious to the constant influence of spiritual life upon health. Inversely, we see spiritual healers who condemn any recourse to scientific medicine They show in this way that they’ve forgotten that man, as God has made him, is a part of nature, subject to its laws and curable by natural means...

Man does not have two lives, natural and supernatural: He has only one, his real life…The spiritual life is not made up of a few exceptional events, but of the whole of life, to which it gives meaning. Life is meaningless if it is but a blind series of phenomena…

God leads us both by nature and by His calls; he accomplishes His plan by natural means as well as by those which we call supernatural.

                                                          -Paul Tournier, The Seasons of Life

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Reflection


We have been created to reflect the glory of the only God. If a mirror says "No, I will reflect only myself," pulls down the shades, and turns off the lights, it shouldn't be surprised that there is nothing to reflect. It has violated the terms of its creation. Likewise, when humans say "I will live only for myself," it should come as no surprise that there is no real life to be lived."

                                                              -From the Faith in Action Study Bible, notes on Isaiah 13

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Depression

 

Depression kills. A darkness inside that can take over your life. Both the result and the cause of great inner pain. Medically, interventions shown to help include counseling and medications.  We recommend exploring the facets on this site: working on the body, mind, and spirit; engaging in healthy community, seeking God, seeking truth, exercising, eating right, getting good sleep.

Pastor Phillip Miller talks about depression in his exploration of Psalm 42. It is an excellent talk and we highly recommend it.  Click here to play the audio

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Unfailing

Love always protects.

Love always trusts.

Love always hopes.

Love always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Though I fail, daily, love never fails. Though I love imperfectly, love never fails. Though I hate sometimes, love never fails. Though I make mistakes - way too many, all the time - love never fails. I miss the mark, I show conditional love, I get easily angered, I'm defensive - all the while love never fails. Baptize my mind in Love. Please.