Posts Tagged ‘Emotions’

Does God really care?

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Imagine the scene in Mark 4:35-41

The disciples are in the boat trying not to lose their boat and avoid drowning and Jesus is asleep in the back. When they wake him up, they ask, “Don’t you care that we are perishing”?

Jesus response is not what I would expect. “Why are you acting so cowardly? Where is your faith?”

Is it cowardly to be afraid you are about to die?

I think of being a coward as running away from something; not doing something out of  fear of the consequences.

What the disciples (and I) don’t get is that when Jesus is in our boat, when he is with us, we are safe and there is no need to fear the consequences. Big waves, fierce wind, feeling unproductive, unfulfilled, frustrated, angry–trust me says Jesus.

I find it interesting that after Jesus stops the storm, the disciples became fearful–actually, they were caused to fear (passive) with a great fear.

Why? Because of the awesome display of the power of God.

I love what comes next, “Who is this guy?” Even the wind and waves obey him!

Seems like there are two kinds of fear here–a self-centered fear and a God-centered fear. In the storm they were afraid to die, afraid they were being left alone to make it with out any help. Faced with self-centered   fear, they might have done anything to get out of the situation–including insulting their teacher, “don’t you care?”

But the other kind of fear is a God-centered fear, the kind that causes you to fall down and say, “ok God, I surrender, I give up.” A fear that produces reverence and awe. A safe yet holy fear. I want to have a God-centered fear but tend to have a self-centered fear.

Does a self-centered fear lead us to doubt that God really cares?

What do you fear today?

Please Be My Strength

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Sad morning.  A young MK from our mission and a long-time friend of ours (another missionary) died in the night.  John wrote, “We’re numb, shattered hearts and yet our soul is anchored by the firm foundation of Jesus, the author and completor of our faith.  I remember Lynn and celebrate a life well lived. With hearts surrrendered to His eternal purposes”

Found this song by Gungor last night.  Beautifully expresses what I am sure both families have experienced in recent days.  May these two families continue to know God being their strength.

Please Be My Strength
I’ve tried to stand my ground
I’ve tried to understand
but I can’t seem to find my faith again

like water on the sand
or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short

please be my strength
please be my strength
I don’t have anymore
I don’t have anymore

I’m looking for a place
where I can plant my faith
one thing I know for sure

I cannot create it
I cannot sustain it
It’s Your love that’s keeping (captured) me

Please be my strength…

at my final breath
I hope that I can say
I’ve fought the good fight of faith

I pray your glory shines
in this doubting heart of mine
and all would know that You

You are my strength
You and You alone
Keep bringin me back home

You are my strength

You are my strength

You and You alone
Keep bringin me back home

Here is the Gungor myspace and their own website Unfortunately, I could not find the song above so you will need to go to itunes or another similar site. I did download it and the melody fits well with the words.

Missionary conversations: part 2

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

More conversations with missionaries regarding the losses incurred on their return to their home country.

Vicious loss cycles—Vicious loss cycles occurred when the primary re-entry losses led to secondary losses which aggravated the primary losses and were associated with a breakdown of balance in the participants’ lives.

N: . . . as we focus on the situation of settling back in we have countless decisions to make in a relatively short period of time. . . so that in itself is very wearing and means that isolation and lack . . . of people to confide in makes all those decisions more difficult.

F: And it [illness on re-entry] was partly due to ongoing stresses when we came home added to all the other things, which I really haven’t had time to process.

For N, multiple re-entry losses, including lack of support, led to multiple decisions with loss of energy which aggravated the initial losses and resulted in an imbalance between the demands and his ability to respond. For F, multiple re-entry losses led to lack of balance in her time to process these losses which had negative physical, mental and spiritual changes which then led to further loss.

From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009

Genocide: Trying to understand what is not understandable

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment

What are the psychological conditions conducive to evil?  That was the goal for Robert Jay Lifton as he wrote The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide which I should finish reading later tonight. Lifton found there are no easy answers as one physician survivor stated,

“The professor would like to understand what is not understandable.  We ourselves who were there, and who have always asked ourselves the question and will ask it until the end of our lives, we will never understand it , because it cannot be understood.”

Lifton’s book focuses on a particular part of the “final solution,” one of the many terms the Nazis used to describe their attempted genocide of the Jews.  He writes about the role the German  medical profession played in the selection, technology and disposal of the millions killed during WW II.  For most of his 500+ pages, he focuses on the events in Auschwitz, a place in which at the height of their “efficiency,” 24,000 people in one twenty-four hour period were killed and then burned or otherwise disposed.  For the Nazis, the Jews were a “life unworthy of life” or a disease that must be eradicated and so they attempted to justify their attempt to “heal” the nation. As Lifton says, “Genocide is a response to collective fear of pollution and defilement” (481).  “The perpetrator of genocide kills to cure himself as well as his people” (487).

This is a long and tough read and I bought it because one of my profs had mentioned it a number of years ago as a book worth reading.   Lifton comes to a similar conclusion as does Roy F. Baumeister, in his book Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty who wrote about the myth of pure evil (see my post on this).   “No individual self is inherently evil, murderous, genocidal.  Yet under certain conditions virtually any self is capable of becoming all of these” 497).

On a related note, my wife sent me a link to an article about why our response to hundreds of thousands of people dying is not significantly greater than our response to one person dying or in the article’s case, the life of one dog.  I had never heard the story of Hokget, the dog stranded on an abandoned freighter. Worth a read!

But the real point is why don’t we care more? According to research cited in the article, our brains don’t have the capacity for dealing with the death of so many.  In fact, Shankar Vedantam concludes, “We are best able to respond when we are focused on a single victim.”  Maybe this provides some explanation why we cannot get our minds around the 6 million+ Jews that were killed during WW II.  But, that does not make the facts any less true.  If you are in any doubt, check out The Nazi Doctors.

What would you say to Brett Favre?

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

What would a Christian response be to Brett Favre?  An article today quotes him with regard to his feelings of doubt and insecurity.  For those non-American-football fans, Favre is a 40 year old star quarterback who has come back with great success after retiring.  Talking about his self-doubts, Favre says:

“I think it’s human nature,” he said. “For me, I know it’s always been a source of drive or a sense of always needing to prove myself, not ever being satisfied. I think it’s OK to be confident. I don’t think it’s OK to be overconfident. Doubt to me at times is a good thing. It makes you work harder. You never get complacent.

I have had a few conversations this week about doubt and insecurity and am often confronted with my own.  I suspect that most of us have doubts and insecurities and about some very significant issues but not too many are willing to admit it as did Favre.  Not that he is asking but as a Christian, what would you say to Brett?

Signature sins: greed

January 13, 2010 1 comment

More from Michael Mangis

Greed is lust expressed in nonsexual ways. Grows out of the suspicion that God will not take care of our needs as well as we can do it ourselves. Expressed in five ways:

  1. Avarice is inordinate pursuit of wealth and material things by either honest or dishonest means. Antidote: generosity or liberality
  2. Inordinate ambition captures the lust of power and status.  Antidote: servanthood or sacrificiality
  3. Prodigality is wastefulness and extravagance.  Antidote: discipline, self-sacrifice or simplicity
  4. Penuriousness is stinginess.  Comes from an obsession with security and imagine that wealth can project us. Antidote: faith in God’s abundance
  5. Domination insists on having things our own way.  Opposed by surrender or pacificsm

Found this on beliefnet about this deadly sin

In the Inferno, Dante decided that the punishment for avarice should be having your face pressed into the earth for eternity (in Circle 4)–a reminder that you had cared too much about earthly concerns.

greed dante inferno.jpg

Signature Sins: Anger

December 9, 2009 1 comment

Here is the next signature sin from Michael Mangis–anger! Once again it has many different forms.

An inordinate or inappropriate anger is directed at selfish and mundane matters.  The antidote to anger is dependent on the source of the anger. If control is the problem, then we need to surrender, if criticism is the problem, then we need humility, if rage is our issue then we need peace etc.  Mangis gives five different forms of anger.

Resentment: a refusal to accept God’s will and a refusal to move on. Responds to forgiveness and release.

Pugnacity: being combative, quarrelsome or rude; sees and assumes the worst in every situation.  Responds to graciousness or tact

Retaliation: refuses to forgive and seeks vengeance on those who have done wrong.  Needs pardon

Paranoia: anticipates the worst.   Met with trust

Obsequiousness: inordinate rejection of anger and a refusal to take responsible dominion in the world.  Although I didn’t write down what Mangis said, I would guess the need here is self-awareness and honesty.


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