Tag Archives: Psychology

Healthy habits for the New Year; pt. 1: Routine

Many people approach the New Year in a frenzy of goals and promises.  This is actually an unhealthy approach to change.  Take diet for example, if a person approaches “diet” in a frenzied state, making promises to themselves and others, they are setting themselves up for failure.

Any new goal should be approached in a balanced way.  I say that because even though this series is entitled “healthy habits,” if they are approached haphazardly, or even with an overabundance of enthusiasm, they are more likely to fail.  Also when I speak of health, I speak of the health of the whole human; body, mind, and soul.  Any or all of these suggestions should be approached in a balanced way, not to be seen as a set of rules that “must” be followed; humans don’t tend to do well with orders, even positive ones.

So, with that being said, the first “habit” is a bit redundant, it is “routine.”  This doesn’t mean you need to plot and plan every minute of every day, but rather it should be a framework.  Later I’ll specifically talk of sleep patterns, but every daily routine should begin with a plan of when to go to sleep and when to wake up.  This routine isn’t just a workday routine, but a routine that should be followed on weekends and holidays too.  In a later article, I’ll write about how waking early in the day is a way to get ahead, and be more successful at whatever you set out to do.

For now, you need to set a time to rise and a time to go to bed.  You also need to schedule time to eat during the day and try to stick as close to that schedule as possible.  These things help to regulate your body, which functions better with routine.  It’s the same with medication; in short, anything that will have an effect on your body and its metabolism should be a part of your routine, for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Establish “mini-routines” for the most important parts of your day.  When you rise, have a routine to kick off your day.  For example, an easy exercise (walking, yoga, etc…) or simple stretching routine, quiet time, a time for prayer and/or bible study/praise and worship, and then breakfast.  Then the steps you go through to make yourself presentable to the day; shower, brush your teeth, etc…  When you go to bed, the same thing (will blog about specific bed routines later).

One important routine to establish is a goal routine; you set specific goals in the morning, and review them at night.  Obviously this includes a lot of honesty.  If you failed to reach a goal, why did you fail?  Did you set too big of a goal, did you squander your time, did something else come up?  This is where you must watch for defense mechanisms, like rationalization.  Rationalization is where you basically fool yourself into believing an excuse instead of the real problem.  The truth is, many of us are lazy and just don’t want to do certain things, but routine and schedule will help to develop a level of discipline that will help get things done.

Figure out what else is important to you such as exercise, reading, gardening, etc… and make sure to set aside time for them as well.  There will be certain things you are willing to sacrifice in a day for the sake of already scheduled events, and somethings you make a priority.

Kids and pets thrive on routine, so they will thank you too.  What if you don’t have kids or pets?  You have friends or a boss, or a spouse, or co-workers who will also thank you, because you’ll be in a better mood and be better functioning.  One last point about routine; it is obvious but the routine you establish should be positive, if you establish a negative routine, you will reap the opposite results (for example, if going to bed at different times all week is your routine, that is going to have ill effects on your physical, mental and emotional state).

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Filed under Health, Of Interest, Philosophy, Prayer, Psychology

John MacArthur’s misunderstanding about the sufficiency of scripture

I recently listened to several sermons by John MacArthur on the sufficiency of scripture, which is what is prompting this article.  By the middle of each sermon I was shouting at the radio, and not “Amen” or “Hallelujah.”  The lead-off was talking about how psychology has infiltrated the church.

Now, I have to be clear from the outset, I don’t think a psychologist has the requisite training to be a pastor, that takes a whole other type of schooling and training.  The opposite holds true; a pastor that has only been trained to teach out of the Bible doesn’t have the requisite training to be a psychologist.  What does any of this have to do with the sufficiency of scripture?  Well, Johnny Mac’s point was that the Bible is sufficient for all spiritual need… which apparently includes mental need from his POV.

Does the Bible contain teachings that apply to psychology?  Yes.  Is it, sufficient in and of itself to treat someone’s mental disorder?  Well, let me ask this; is the Bible sufficient to teach someone to set a broken leg?  The answer to both is “no” without any insult to the Bible.  A human is physical, mental, and spiritual.  The Bible is mainly a spiritual guide, with overlap in the physical and mental areas.  We would never make the argument that if someone is suffering from cancer, that the Bible gives us specific cures.  It is the same for mental health.

MacArthur bemoans the fact that people look for answers outside the Bible… we do that all the time, in fact he does that all the time.  When you have a problem with your car, the Bible does not teach you how to fix it.  Beyond that, what MacArthur teaches sounds like a form of idolatry; the Bible isn’t to be worshiped, God is.  The Bible, as a physical, written document is not sufficient to save anyone.  Only God is sufficient. That is why the Bible should be labeled the word of God, while Jesus is The Word of God.

Further, I did not hear MacArthur teach on Ephesians 4; specifically:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Notice that these people are to teach, so a written manuscript is not sufficient for the perfecting of the saints.  It takes teaching and guiding, it also takes the Holy Spirit!  Should psychology run the church? No.  Should psychology be preached from the pulpits? No.  Do humans have a mind that can have issues that need addressed outside of scripture? Yes.  To teach anything else is to neglect a God-given aspect of humanity, and to put believers in danger who are listening to John MacArthur.  The danger is that someone suffering from a mental disorder, or mental pain may not get the help they need, being scared that psychology is somehow “of the Devil.”

The Bible teaches us about life, and eternal life.  Without God we are doomed, without Jesus we are doomed, so the eternal state of your soul should be your number one priority.  However, there are aspects to our earthly lives that will have to be dealt with alongside scripture, not out of scripture.  Mental health overlaps with spiritual and physical health, and we need to make sure each of the three is getting fed, and treated.  Scripture helps with all of them, and is sufficient for moral and spiritual teachings, but it was not meant to cover all we humans will encounter here, so the next time my power goes out, I’m not going to quote scripture and think it will magically come back on, someone at the power company is going to have to fix it.

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Filed under Christianity, Ministries, Psychology, The Bible

Christianity and Psychotherapy…

I know it has been a long little while since I’ve blogged, and I do plan to complete my last series soon; however, this topic has been weighing on me for some time and for various reasons.  There is a lot of confusion out there about how, or if, religion should play a role in psychotherapy and if Christians should seek psychotherapy if they feel it would be beneficial.

The first thing to note is that I am indeed a counselor; I received my Master’s degree from a secular University, and am licensed to practice in my state.  Obviously, then, I do believe psychology is legitimate and can be beneficial under the right circumstances.  Having said that, this article is mainly a warning for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ; do NOT go to a psychologist, counselor, therapist, etc… who is not a believer.

One mistake people make is trying to compare going to a therapist with going to a different kind of doctor.  There isn’t a comparison.  How a surgeon operates on your knee is not directly and intimately connected to whether or not s/he believes in God.  Not so with psychotherapy.  Any therapist worth going to will bring up your religious and spiritual beliefs in therapy, and no matter how (or if) they try to fight it, their beliefs WILL change how they choose to do therapy and how they see your faith impacting your life.

There is also little doubt that atheists or agnostic therapists, regardless of their past beliefs, will be incapable of sufficiently connecting with a believer in the therapeutic relationship.  At best, there will simply be a disconnect, at worst the therapist would harbor a negative view of the patient’s religious beliefs, oftentimes believing any and all spiritual beliefs to be detrimental or mental defenses that need changing.

Take marriage for example; there is no absolute and sure grounds for trying to save an ailing marriage outside of God’s will.  Meaning, an unbelieving therapist is a threat to a believer’s marriage if there is trouble in the marital relationship because outside of God, and Jesus, there are no absolute, unchanging, unwavering reasons why a marriage should be saved even if people within the marriage are having a rough time of it.  Instead of offering aid and healing to the marriage itself, there is the potential that an unbelieving therapist could add more poison to a relationship, or push one party to get a divorce for their own “mental health.”

Notice that I’m not saying that there is never a reason for divorce, there are scriptural reasons for one; however, a nonbeliever will be incapable of truly understanding those reasons from a biblical perspective.  The mental, spiritual, and physical is what makes up a human; to neglect any one of the three invites trouble.

I also believe that therapy, done correctly and in a Godly manner, can save a person’s life, help their faith, and help to grow them into the person God wills them to be.  Too many Christians only know the secular side of psychology, and do not realize there are plenty of biblical teachings that are psychological in nature and that God desires our mental health to be seen to, just as much as our physical health, and that mental and physical health impacts spiritual health as well.

In short, if you think therapy is for you, keep shopping around til you find a therapist with similar biblical beliefs to yours.  They are out there, and it is worth the search. Never be afraid to ask questions about your therapist’s religious beliefs to see if you agree with them, and if they will be a good fit for you as you attempt, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to change yourself for the better!  Don’t be unequally yoked within a therapeutic relationship.

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Filed under Christianity, Musings, Of Interest, Psychology

Trolls in Biblical Times…

The ‘Shrink has been blogging about Trolls recently: The Psychology of Trolls and The Trolls in All of Our Lives…and he got me thinking, and it made me realize that there were trolls in Biblical times as well.  A “troll” is slang for someone that comes around (on the ‘net it is usually on message boards, or the comments section of blogs), and says things to stir people up, and tries to cause an emotional reaction.  Many times it is in the form of an attack, and can be a set up.

Think about it.  Jesus hardly ever preached to the people when there weren’t a few trolls around.  He’d be out for a stroll or going to heal someone on the Sabbath and the trolls would pounce.  I believe His reactions and His teachings can help us out with the trolls in our own lives, and help us to remember that if we encounter trolls; He encountered them first.  If you discuss religious issues online from any angle, there will be trolls of different backgrounds to deal with.

Let’s just take one example; Jesus’ encounter with the trolls and the adulterous woman:

John 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?  6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.  7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

I love the Lord, and His reactions.  Notice He was minding His own business (literally) and was setting there talking to the people, when the trolls show up.  They didn’t care what Jesus had to say, it was all a set up over an emotional issue, that in this case, could have very dire results for several people involved.  Notice what The Lord does; He ignores them.  That’s their chance to get the hint and take a hike…but did they catch on?  No.  Did they just hang around? No. Read it; they kept askin’ and askin’.  I love it; He actually stands up and faces them (I can imagine the look on His face), and completely turns the tables on them, teaching us all a valuable lesson.  Yes, if one person can show us how to handle a troll, or a group of trolls perfectly, it’s Him.  After they finally take a hike, morphing from troll to human even in their own eyes, He goes on to deal with the very human woman left standing before Him.

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Filed under Apologetics, Humor, Of Interest

The Country Shrink Continues Discussion…

I posted a link to “Some Psychological Aspects of Atheism,” and now the discussion continues with Some Psychological Aspects of Atheism part 2.  And the latest; Atheist commenting. To get a good idea of the discussions going on, read the “Aspects” post first, and the “Commenting” post second, along with the comments.  It would be really good practice for any Christian Apologists out there looking to dialogue with Atheists, because it has the Atheists so stirred up that they have a greater number of comments than the Christian perspective.

Regardless, many of the comments are good examples of typical Atheistic reaction….

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism