Category Archives: Great Quotes

God in your own image….

Saw a bumper sticker on the way to work today that read,

I love God. It’s his fans I can’t stand

Then, I saw this quote by Anne Lamott  at work,

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

Interesting timing…

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Filed under Christianity, Great Quotes

Edwin Friedman on the search for solutions…

Consider Edwin Friedman’s counsel to leaders in book, A Failure of Nerve (Seabury Books, 2007)

In the search for the solution to any problem, questions are always more important than answers because the way one frames the question, or the problem,  already predetermines the range of answers one can conceive in response. (p. 37)

Seems true for counselors as well. How a counselor begins the exploration of a client’s problem narrows the field of answers as to the problem and solutions. Now, assumptions are always present–especially in questions. So, asking questions doesn’t keep the field of view open unless one is willing to ask questions not normally conceived. It is difficult to remember to ask questions that run counter to our initial hypotheses. And yet such questions are necessary if we are going to counsel actual individuals and not mere figments of our imaginations.


Filed under counseling, counseling skills, Great Quotes

A friend sent me a book review of Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect by a therapist and former educator named Stephen Prichard, MDiv. In the review Prichard picks out a quote that Zimbardo uses (by C.P. Snow in Either/Or). Got that? Prichard quotes Zimbardo who is quoting Snow…

“When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find far more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have been committed in the name of rebellion”.

My friend connected this quote to some of my thoughts on Rwanda. There, a genocide was committed under the guise of obeying the government.

I like this quote even though I am not sure of Snow’s context or meaning. Of course, all crimes are rebellion–rebellion from God’s decree. But still, we use obedience (either by demand or by denial) to excuse bad behavior and our responsibility in it.


Filed under Abuse, Cognitive biases, Cultural Anthropology, Great Quotes

Vital Religion per Ben Franklin

I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. And the Scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined by what we thought, but what we did

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

by W. Isaacson (Simon & Shuster, 2003)

My wife is reading this book and pointed out the quote to me. From Isaacson’s take, Franklin is less a deist than many have reported. And while he fought with some of his relatives over the meaning of faith, I think he does capture this sentiment right. It is possible to concern yourself so much with orthodoxy that you fail to miss the heart of the Gospel. Yes, Franklin did try to have virtue via his own power (a friend of his said something to the effect that Franklin’s efforts failed to tackle the virtue of humility or the vice of pride).  But nonetheless, virtue or act is what is asked of individuals. Did you clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned?

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Filed under Biblical Reflection, Christianity, Doctrine/Theology, Gospel, Great Quotes

Why do people come to therapy?

In staff meeting yesterday Diane Langberg quoted J. Hillman (Dream Animals, 1997, p. 2):

“People come to therapy really for blessing. Not so much to fix what’s broken, but to get what’s broken blessed”

Sounds accurate to me


Filed under counseling, Great Quotes

Enslaved to freedom?

Check out this quote (emphases mine). Will post the author of this tomorrow but I would love your reflections. Can the thirst for freedom become an overlord? A greed? Is it present in American culture today?

“We were a self-centered army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.

As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into its slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content….we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of victory. by our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind. “


Filed under Cultural Anthropology, Great Quotes, Psychology

Lewis on our choices impact on the self

In my CS Lewis reader, Lewis says that Christians often think about the consequences of choices either bringing reward or punishment from God. He suggests another way to look at our choices (entry for 17 March):

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. (From Mere Christianity)

Does this not help us consider which creature we are forming as we make our many mindless choices every day?


Filed under Biblical Reflection, christian counseling, Christianity, Great Quotes

The secret life of a pastor

No, not that secret life…I’m talking about the private worship life of the pastor. Diane Langberg lent me a book by one of her favorite dead pastors: Rev. Handley C.G. Moule, Bishop of Durham. The book, To my Younger Brethren: Chapters on Pastoral Life and Work, considers three arenas of the young pastors life: their “inner and secret life and walk with God,” their “daily and hourly intercourse with men,” and their “official ministrations of the Word and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Here’s what he has to say in the first chapter about the hindrances to private worship (I removed some archaic language):

My…reader…knows as well as I do, on the one hand, that a close secret walk with God is unspeakably important in pastoral life, and, on the other hand, that pastoral life…is often allowed to hinder or minimize the real, diligent work (for it is a work indeed in its way) of that close secret walk [with God].

Moule makes it clear that the primary work of the pastor starts with their relationship with God–not their beliefs, exhortations, or activities. Moule goes on to identify some of the hindrances:

The new [pastorate], the new duties, and opportunities, if the man has his heart in his ministry, will prove intensely interesting, and at first, very possibly, encouragement and acceptance may predominate over experiences of difficulty and trial. Services, sermons, visits to homes and to schools, with all the miscellanies that attend an active and well-ordered parochial organization–these things are sure to have a special and exciting interest for most young men who have taken Orders in earnest. And it will be almost inevitable that the [pastor]…should find “work” threatening rapidly to absorb so much, not of time only but thought and heart, that the temptation is to abridge and relax very seriously indeed secret devotion, secret study of Scripture, and generally secret discipline of habits, that all-important thing.

Like Chambers, Moule sees “spiritual success” as dangerous (My Utmost, April 24). But he doesn’t stop with this danger. He points to another: loneliness. The young pastor leaves University and its social life to comparative aloneness. Yes, he may have friends and elder brothers in the Lord. But ministry brothers are busy and congregants, though friends, are one of many needing ministry. He says,

So the sens of change, of solitude, in such part of his life as is spent indoors, may be, and, as I know, very often is, real and deep, sad and sorrowful, and in itself not wholesome….Solitude will not by itself, If I judge rightly, help him to secret intercourse with God. A feeling of solitude, under most circumstances…drive a man unhealthily inward, in unprofitable questionings and broodings, or in still less happy exercises of thought. Or it drives him unhealthily outward, quickening the wish for mere stimulants and excitements of mind and interest.  (he goes on to broach the subject of masturbation, I think)

Moule exhorts his reader to watch for the dangers of pastoral activity and the dangers of pastoral loneliness and not to avoid his private, intentional devotional life. He says, even 10 minutes of deliberate devotions are better than long and mismanaged time. He provides this warning

Your life and work will, in the Lord’s sight, be a failure, yes, I repeat it, a failure, be the outside and the reputation what they may, if you do not walk with God in secret.


Filed under book reviews, Christianity, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, Great Quotes, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring

More comments from the SCP conference

Some tantalizing quotes from our recent conference unapologetically taken out of context for your tasting pleasure:

Bill Hathaway: “Psychology is a social construction that gives us pockets of truth about the real world.”

From a presentation on the history of the psychology of religion project begun in the 19th century. He was talking about this historical project that was originally undertaken to explore and explain religious experience. Of course, the explanation was also reductionistic since it was undertaken from a naturalistic worldview–one that rejected the possibility of the supernatural. We should admit that all human explanations are reductionistic. But some more closely approximate the world as God created it. 

Another Hathaway quote: “We don’t need to be therapy prostitutes, doing whatever the client wants.”

I’ll leave that one without explanation.

JKA Smith: “All science is hermeneutic, a take or interpretation of things…Science is culture…so the interaction between faith and psychology or theology and science is cross cultural.” And, “The most important questions of Christian psychology are these, What’s at issue…What’s at stake?”

Richard Schultz:

“Biblical interpretation is not complete by coming to the meaning of any one text.” On the necessity of reading the bible in light of the whole, or, the importance of building a biblical theology.

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Filed under Christian Apologetics, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, counseling, Doctrine/Theology, Great Quotes, Psychology

Hating the desire for intimacy

In prep for a presentation next week I have been reviewing Dan Allender’s”The Wounded Heart.” While I’m not a fan of his approach in this book (it’s too much at once for those with PTSD), I do think he has many, many nuggets of truth. Here’s one on p. 41:

Let me state an important observation: I have never worked with an abused man or woman who did not hate or mistrust the hunger for intimacy. In most victims, the essence of the battle is a hatred of their hunger for love and a strong distaste for any passion that might lead to a vulnerable expression of desire….The enemy, or so it feels, is the passion to be lovingly pursued and nourishingly touched by a person whose heart is utterly disposed to do us good. Such people (if they exist at all) are rare; it is therefore easier to hate the hunger than to wait expectantly for the day of satisfaction.

I see this love/hate/fear theme in many troubled marriages–even those where abuse is absent. When we desire this nourishment from someone “utterly disposed to do us good” and then continually wake to the realization that the person we married is not–no, cannot–disposed to do us good in the way we dream, we often feel rejected and invalidated because it seems to us the person is holding out on us. In response to these fears, we have one of several choices:

  1. Demand/pursue via criticism, complaint, accusation, suggestion, etc. that the person give what they are withholding: perfect validation and intimacy
  2. Withdraw into coldness, self-hatred, workaholism, fantasy, etc. to avoid the intimacy that is present in the marriage because it is not what we think it should be
  3. Actively pursue the dream of intimacy with others, or
  4. Daily die to the dream that the other will make us fully secure and happy WHILE continuing to offer unconditional intimacy, support, validation of the other in order to better provide sacrificial love AND yet still communicating (without demand) clearly our requests for how the other can love us well or what behaviors they should stop that are hurtful.

As you can see the 4th is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. The first 3 are much easier choices. They require less of us and maintain our all/nothing view of self and the world. The truth is we can only approach the 4th position if we place our trust in God to sustain us in a broken world. And therein lies the problem. It is hard for us humans to trust an unseen God, especially when our experience with the seen world tells us that love is conditional, that we are not valued, etc.

What’s the answer then? There is no one answer. But am I willing today to do one thing where I trust the Lord and show love/civility to the other as a creature made in the image of God. If I can answer yes, then I need to find another human being (since we are made for community) to help me discern what that love might look like today (hint: it may not look anything like what my spouse thinks it should look like).


Filed under Abuse, Anxiety, christian counseling, christian psychology, Communication, conflicts, Desires, Great Quotes, love, marriage, Relationships