Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Biblical View of T.O.'s Suicide Attempt

If you haven't heard yet, self declared super star NFL wide receiver Terrel Owens (Dallas Cowboys) allegedly attempted to take his own life last night.

Initial news reports declared Owen's indeed intended to kill himself but now the picture is very cloudy, Owens himself is apparently laughing off initial reports (I'm not surprised.) There is a news conference at 3:15 ET where things will get cleared up (probably not.)

I've been following most of the news on Owens throughout the day. What I was not expecting to see, at least so soon, was this: Thinking Biblically about Terrell Owens. Frankly, I was surprised but that's why I like good blogging. Here is a good summary quote from the article, but please take time to read the whole thing:

"Situations such as this should cause Christians to thank God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ for his immeasurable grace. For it is only in Christ, who redeems sinners from their pursuit of self-worship, self-sovereignty and self-dependence while proclaiming his worship, his sovereignty, and our dependence upon him.

The logical end of depending upon ourselves is death. For when we understand, I mean we really understand that we have no power to either keep up with or satisfy our lusts we then we really understand that we are hopeless and futile. The logical end of self dependence is indeed death.

Conversely, the gracious end of Christ dependence is life!! For when, by grace, we understand the above truth and see Christ as sufficient to give us life, remove our guilt from sin, satisfy our affections and rule our lives then we have hope and strength! The gracious end of Christ dependence is life!

When you read of T.O. be grieved for him, even pray for him, but do not miss this opportunity to exalt in the grace of God through Jesus Christ while growing more impressed with Jesus."

(HT: Between Two Worlds, where I found the link to the article)

UPDATE: Owens had his news conference and he catagorically denied that he is depressed and that he attempted suicide. To the report he answered "yes" when rescue workers asked if he was trying to harm himself, Owens explained it away with this statement "I really wasn't as coherant as they thought I was." How would he know?

TO's publicist also spoke breifly during the new conference and wanted everybody to know TO is not depressed and he has 25 million reasons why he is not, meaning one reason for each dollar of his contract (sad).

The article I linked to above is still relevant regardless of T.O.'s real or false attempt. What I find interesting is that he denied everything he said or did while being drugged up with the pain killers. He claims to not be responsible for any of it, it was all the medication speaking. No T.O. it was your empty lost heart crying out through the pain killers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Diagnosing The Problem With Men

What's wrong with boys in our culture? What's wrong with all the men?

This article describes the problem as being Posttraumatic Absentee Father Stress Disorder (PTASFD).

A few initial thoughts:
  1. As my good friend Ron pointed out, the premise is right. I think it is dead on.
  2. I found myself laughing through most of the article. I am not sure why though. Could it be the picture of Brad Pitt displaying his bravado (his what?) or the labeling of another disorder?
  3. At the same time, I connect to much of what is said. I live with PTASFD...rather, I do battle with it everyday, on both the receiving and delivering end of it. The war against PTASFD must be fought and won (see, I am laughing again.)
  4. Overall I like the article but not the recommendation to John Eldredge's latest book. I've read his previous best seller (still), Wild at Heart at least twice, I tried to "get into it", I thought he was on to something, but I am more inclined to think this way about Eldredge.
I am still laughing. PTASFD makes me laugh. Why? I don't think it should. It is very serious business.

Jonny Lang

Christianity Today posted an interview by Sara Groves with Jonny Lang in regards to his conversion to Christianity. In the interview Lang describes a time in his life where he hated to hear the name of Jesus - he hated God and hated Christianity. Lang goes on to describe a defining (charismatic like) moment in his life when God moved in his heart and how things have been much different since. Turn Around is Lang's latest release. It is a gospel album and like I've said before, it is good, really good! If you get the chance to hear Turn Around, please be sure not to miss the track "Only a Man."

Congrats Twins Fans

 Twins clinch playoff birth

Monday, September 25, 2006

Personal Productivity

I like looking at big picture elements of life because I desire to connect everything through the vision of pursing Christ's reign (in all areas of life to advance God's kingdom in all the earth for His glory.)

Here is a big view of personal productivity: Is God Interested In Us Being Productive?

(HT: Pastor Hacks)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too Busy To Blog But

Work life has got all my attention right now and so I am too distracted to post anything meaningful (rightfully so.)

But I do have this to say...Jonny Lang's latest album release "Turn Around" rocks! Listen to the whole thing in one sitting if you get a chance. "Turn Around" is definitely gospel music from the new Lang. I've never listened much to Lang but I concur, man is this guy gifted, praise God Lang now sings of his new life on "Turn Around". Read a review from Christianity Today here.

Oh...and then there is this comic to get a laugh of off:

Blogging Blackmail

Blogging Blackmail

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dedicated To A Few Good Friends

A Sign From Above

Bankrupt Can't (Or Won't) Tithe (Anymore)

It seems the bottom line in this story (Credit Card Companies Put Ahead of Church Tithing) is not that those in bankruptcy are not allowed to give, it is that there is no longer an allowable tax deduction. The bankrupt can still give, but for some (sadly), a major motivator for giving has just been taken away. Either way I don't like the interpretation of the law.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Peek Into Biblical Counseling

You know that feeling when you buy a new(er) car and then all of a sudden you start to notice how many of the same style cars are out on the road?

Challies has posted commentary on an counseling article by David Powlison, The Ambiguously Cured Soul - there is also a link to the article in PDF format. Please be sure to read the article first.

In this age of psychoheresey, Powlison's article is enlightening to say the least. From what I know in my mind about biblical counseling, Powlison's article is a short course on what it looks like. Again, please read the article at Challies.

(HT: Ron)

Mowing In The Dark

Last Night
OooooOooo...eeeee I was mowing in the dark.
Dying from exhaustion and dreaming I was an inline star
This time of year the cool grass grows
Are you ready?
Sing it with me...OoooOooo eeee I was mowing in the dark.

Most enjoyable memories from mowing in the dark last night:
  1. Watching others laugh as they drove by (I had to be running for them to laugh)
  2. The excitement of waking in the morning to see how many patches of grass I missed or the strips I made.
  3. Actually being able to see the sparks from hitting the rocks* That was sweet!
  4. Chasing the light spots after having look directly into the halogen, motion activated, garage light.
  5. Thinking how stupid I am that I kept forgetting to not look into the light each time I made a pass by it. I just couldn't resist - to look right into the light!
  6. Seeing the this morning that I mowed the lawn perfectly!
*Around the base of every tree in my yard, usually hidden by taller grass (of course), are little piles of rocks. This is not from my landscaping efforts but I'm guessing from some game my kids started and never finished one day. In case they ever want to get back to the game I just try to avoid the piles.

Distinguishing Between Sickness and Sin

Edward Welch in his helpful book Blame It on the Brain? (page 34) suggests the following guidelines for distinguishing between sickness and sin (using biblical categories of the heart and body):
  • "Any behavior that does not confirm to biblical commands or any behavior that transgresses biblical prohibitions proceeds from the heart and is sin.
  • "Any behavior that is more accurately called a weakness proceeds from the body and is sickness or suffering. Sickness or suffering can also be caused by specific sin, but we must be very careful to have ample justification before we make such a link."
These two guidelines are suppose to provide top level boundaries. They are good, but not as black and white as I prefer sometimes. I understand what he is saying but I personally need more details. One thing is clear. Taking the route of first determining if someones behavior (or yours) is sin or sickness is got to be hard work. The ambiguity involved in the two guidelines is enough to frustrate anyone I think. This is an evaluation process where I can see Satan having a ball and confusion to be spread everywhere.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chemical Imbalance, Brain Disorder, or Disobedience

In regards to my previously stated intentions of allocating a few upcoming posts to thoughts on Christianity and Mental Health, The Christian Mind has posted an incredibly timely article: Christians and the Psychiatric Culture. Please click the aforementioned link and read the whole posting. Here are a couple of quotes that speak directly to my own thoughts:
"...modern psychiatry frequently operates on the premise that human beings are reducible to our biochemical components. Intense emotional pain is therefore concluded to be the result of physical disease. They contrast this materialistic perspective with a biblical view of the person as consisting of the uniting of the outer man (the physical body including the brain) and the inner man which is referred to biblically by terms like the heart, mind, spirit, and/or soul. Fitzpatrick and Hendrickson acknowledge that the body can affect and influence the heart and vice versa. They also concede that there are real, empirically verifiable diseases of the brain (as well as brain injuries) that can have negative effects on oneÂ’s perception, cognition, and moods. However, they point out that there are no tests for so-called imbalances in brain chemistry for which antidepressants are said to be correctives. They also claim that emotional pain is intended to inform us what is going on in our hearts so that we might avail ourselves of the resources that are ours in Christ to experience heart transformation (emphasis mine)." (The Christian Mind)
"When one takes into consideration that the disorders the psychiatric community labels people with, are not scientifically validated, there is much cause for both alarm and caution. I‚Â’m especially concerned because I know numerous Christians who have bought the well-publicized line that taking antidepressants is analogous to taking insulin or other medication designed to treat biologically detectable illnesses. (emphasis mine)" (The Christian Mind)
In order to fully appreciate how Mental Health fits into Christianity, a thorough and frank discussion needs to be had regarding the facts and implications about our culture's current knowledge of the body (namely the brain) and soul. Simply, there needs to be a complete answer to the question of whether one can blame their behavior on the brain (i.e. chemical imbalance) or on disobedience (i.e. sin). The path to the answer brings forth many complex issues because of tremendous advances in brain sciences in recent years. Frankly though, I believe, man's upsetting and negative behavior is as a result of disobedience and thus flat out sin. But I also believe, because of the nature of the unity between body and soul, that sinful behavior itself produces the chemical imbalances that are symptomatic of psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar, seasonal affective, etc.

The article also quotes from David Powlison's Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture. I read this book about a year ago. It is fantastic in that it shows how scripture can be used in the most practical ways to restore relationships, heal painful emotions, and honor our Lord in all of life.

For the record, I am not opposed to psychiatric drugs as a whole. These drugs are a gift to those who suffer from scientifically verifiable brain disorders, like Alzheimers and the most extremes cases of psychosis. But I can't reconcile complete dependence on them as being the cure to the broad range of "disorders".

Lastly, another excellent book on this issue is Blame It On The Brain? by Edward T. Welch.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where to spend your next $20

I've learned over the years through much trial and error, a $20 spot is a lot of money. You might not agree, however. That's fine. I am grateful for the free choice we both have in where to spend the next $20. Because of the shortage of $20's in my budget I find myself having to make decisions daily. To combat my compulsive nature I must always lay out the options before me prior to dropping a $20 spot. For example, where would you spend your next $20 a month?:
  1. Serve India
  2. Compassion International
  3. Health Insurance Plans for Pets

Friday, September 08, 2006

Locating Anonymous

Not much of a post today. I've been spending all my time ascertaining the illustrious blog poster known as Anonymous. You know who I am referring to, right? That brave blogster critic who lays down wisdom filled rhetoric in the comment sections of interweb's blogosphere, thereby exemplifying all that is in Ephesians 4:14, no doubt. I may be casting a wide net here but I believe this Anonymous is the same Anonymous who calls social services and the police on people in the name of public welfare. In addition, this is probably just a senseless bunny trail, but could this Anonymous be the same Anonymous who sends the "healthy feedback" notes to my favorite pastors? Could there possibly be a link between all the Anonymous sightings? With that said, I am off once again, locating Anonymous.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Christian Experience Or Pretense

A few posts back I said I was going to start writing about Mental Health and Christianity. I am still working on (and waiting for) the paring down and convergence of the many thoughts I've had over the years - I am trying to close the gap between what I've read in books and what I've experienced in life. I want what I end up writing about to be of good service to others.

While my thoughts are still baking, I feel the need to prepare readers for what they will read from me, to lay some ground work so to speak. Like I said, I want to serve others, and by implication, I want to bring honor to our King.

I recommend reading this article/blog post from the internet monk about the Christian experience - To Know Your Not Alone. I keep reading the monk because of his personal stories. Tell me what you think of the article.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who's The Critic

It is just too easy to be a critic. To be a critic takes no persuasive skills. Some critics are so good at their craft they can't even find room to hide behind the courage it took to speak out.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rare Is Death By Stingray, But Fitting Nonetheless

No news report will ever be able to convey the tremendous loss to his wife and two children of husband and father, Steve Irwin. The man was great to watch, very engaging, and I liked his passionate teaching style more than anything else. But before all that, let no one forget, he was a loving husband and daddy first.

Most all the reporting on Irwin's death includes some statement about how rare it is to actually die from the sting of a stingray. Yes it is rare but I think this fact is being viewed incorrectly by all the news reports. I get the sense that some how, because of the oddity, Irwin's death is more of a tragedy because he didn't die by some other means, like in the grasp of a croc. I think Irwin's legacy will be honored more because he died by a rare occurrence. Irwin was known for his rare style. Why would the "Croc Hunter" want to die by the croc?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mind, Matter, Body, Soul, Spirit - How Do They All Fit Together?

I've been brewing up some thoughts on how Mental Health and Christianity fit together. I see at least a few posts coming together in the near future where I will be taking a look at topics such as Depression, Addictions, Chemical Imbalances, Bi-Polar Disorder, and other mental health related aliments. I really want to share with you what I have learned through my own study and personal experience how psychiatric and psychological experiences fit into Christianity - specifically, how to look at mental health as being a part of life that is also under the reign of Christ.

If I am going to properly consider how mental health fits into Christianity, then I need to first layout a few key scientific and theological assumptions. Danger ahead. In science, especially related to the brain, there is a wide wide world of assumptions that one could get lost in and so the first foundation to build upon is to review how the human is put together.

Do we have a body, mind, soul and spirit? Or is the body and mind the same thing while the soul and spirit are two different things? Or do we just have a body and soul? But what about the spirit? Or, are they all just one in the same - the body, thats it. The body with its brain is what produces all the chemicals that make up soul and spirit like experiences. Is that true? Mind over matter? Really? Chicken or the egg?

I want to provide somewhat of a summary to answer these questions. I will get to it in another post. But to start, please follow the link ahead and read what really is a great summary already. The material is a tad deep and long. You may be tempted to skim, but don't, it so worth it to understand what is being presented. Are Human Beings Constituted of One, Two, or Three Substances?

Inline Skating Is Making A Come Back

As a legitimate cardio fitness exercise inline skating is making a comeback. Really! Not just because I am into it but (I think) because just like everything else that comes and goes, the equipment is so much better today than in the past.

If you are interested in learning about inline skating and perhaps getting into it yourself, here are some quality links to checkout:

Beginners Guide To Inline Skating

RollerBlade: Skating For Fitness

Or, if you just want to play internet video games about inline skating then click here.