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Are Churches Ice-o-lating (Not Just Isolating) New members?

  1. rp_7276688008_157c6001e4_m.jpg Do liturgies, choirs, scripture readings, professional musicians, limit those who get to participate and how they get to participate in the worship service? and also what makes the worship service meaningful?
  2. Can members pray and talk about their needs and the world’s needs and their own religious experiences?  Many churches still have all male elders.  Sometimes they have limits on who can speak in church and what they can speak about such as only doctrinal and Bible-related subjects?  Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit encouraged and even demonstrated in front of the congregation.rp_3692285331_9043cf7c46_m.jpg
  3. Is individual spiritual growth encouraged and supported not just in the church and Bible study groups?
  4. Are potential new members and visitors encouraged and welcomed when they come?chinese-grandparents-sitting-grandchildren-26098101
  5. Have you observed how members interact and welcome people to the church?  Are their welcomes warm and inviting or do new people feel ignored, frozen out, and rejected?
  6. Do church members gather in little groups and ignore others who also have something to talk about?  Are children, the lifeblood of the church, not only not welcomed by the church members, but also their parents are sternly disciplined for not keeping them still, quiet, and also maybe even invisible?
  7. rp_9709182109_5fd0b7fbaa_n.jpgWorship and fellowship should be a warm, welcoming experience for all members and possible new members.  Membership in the church should not be kept to the special few who believe the right way, worship the right way and think that they are potentially free of sin, not only now, but also in the past and future.
  8. Cold shoulders by longtime parishioners are not only not welcomed by nonmembers and but also by current members in the church such behaviour fails to spread the Word and Love of God.  Church members should not be critical of others while excusing themselves.judge-not-discernment
  9. Everyone’s sins should be potentially forgivable.  Prostitutes and tax collectors were accepted and blessed by Jesus.
  10. Worship should not be an ordeal but energy producing, love enriching, faith renewing, inspiring and making one ready to go out into the world and follow Christ’s footsteps.
  11. Attending church should be an inspiring and happy experience where one feels welcome and accepted.  Where visitors and potential new members are not considered a problem; but a potential resource for the church and providing a chance for the church to see and meet their needs.beingjudgmental
  12. Is this what atheists see in the church?  If so, aren’t they right?  What kind of an example of Bible-loving Christians are we giving to them?  Hate or love.  Acceptance or rejection?  Solemnity or joyousness?
  13. Thanks to Bible teacher, Joyce Meyer for her inspiration and also thanks to the groups in which I’ve had loving and joyful experiences.

When Is A Compliment Is Not A Compliment? When Is Criticism Not Productive?

rp_7276688008_157c6001e4_m.jpgCriticism disguised as a compliment can be deadly as well as just plain mean and “snarky”.   Many a fainting flower has sub combed to the projected hatred of others even when he or she doesn’t deserve it.  One way is when a “put down” is disguised as a compliment.  Such an act can permanently damage one’s life.  How many people have stopped going to church when this is done by a “well-meaning?” individual?  “My, that is such a nice outfit.  Do you dress like this every day?”

A Concerned Pastor, Might He Have This Problem In His Church?

A Concerned Pastor, Might He Have This Problem In His Church?

Churches are supposed to be places where well-meaning individuals want to bring more individuals to Christ.  Or are they?  Some people in churches like to think that they are God’s chosen “elite” where only those properly initiated into the ways of the church are allowed to belong.  Membership seems to be by invitation only for those who will appreciate the selectiveness of their invitations and will protect and obey their canons.  If looks could kill, some people could die when they enter churches like this.

rp_366761818_150_150.jpgSome church people feel that their criticism of others is well- meaning and will make others better Christians and they are only being helpful; but often there is an underlying current of hatefulness,  righteous anger, and  severe judgmentalism.  When this is coupled with a victim’s underlying current of self-condemnation and guilt, it can be extremely damaging and make him or her feel unworthy of being a Christian and keep the person from ever going to that church or sometimes any church again.

 

Wasting Some Of Our Most Valuable Resources: Children

rp_360159124_150_150.jpgIntroducing this topic, I do want to make it clear that I am Pro-Life (especially if you have not figured this out from my past posts).  Children do exist in the womb.  At eight weeks after conception, all necessary organs for the child exist and the rest of the time in the womb is spent growing and becoming capable of  independent existence.  In my lifetime,  science has found more and more ways to detect life in the womb and to sustain such life either in the womb or out of the womb.   The question is at what point do we determine that another human being does not have the right to exist.   No one is infallible when it comes to making this decision.

Maybe we should call our children the “throw-away generation”.  I think we would all admit that many children are not given the training, experience, and resources necessary to grow up to be responsible adults.  How can we consciously keep the next generation in areas of the country that are veritable war zones in inhabitable surroundings with irresponsible adults and penalize those that do sacrifice resources, time, and sometimes careers to help raise responsible adults whether as parents or teachers or volunteers to provide opportunities to help the next generation grow up as safe responsible citizens.

rp_Truman_pass-the-buck.jpgHere is one example of how ignorant one of the most responsible areas of our government operates in one area of my state.  Custody determinations cases (often done when a divorce is granted) are given to the judges who are considered the least competent and who have little or no training in this area.  This leaves them free to make up their own minds about the cases and/or to depend on professionals who are presented to them as qualifying “experts” by dueling attorneys for each person seeking custody and those agencies who deal with these cases with certain biases as to parental (often not children’s) rights.  This was in spite of well recognized and highly motivated diversion courts for domestic violence, drug addiction, and mental illness.

A bad custody decision can result in a “life sentence” for some children.  One they didn’t ask for and one they didn’t deserve.  It appears to me that in these situations early and appropriate intervention is desired and those appointed to discharge this duty should be well-trained and held responsible for what they do.  Is there anything “flippant “about making a custody decision? and shouldn’t the best and most well-trained judges be given this duty.  Another point that needs to be made in this area is that the best person for this position of making custody decisions should be someone who is and/or wants to become knowledgeable about child-rearing.

Warm Fuzzies-Cold PrickliesChildren at different points in life need different things.  Initially, it is important that needs must be met that help maintain the physical body of the child such as food and clothing, shelter, etc. and physical gentle, loving touches and caregiving, and by someone who is concerned about the safety and well-being of the child.  How a task is done in caring for a child telegraphs to the child whether or not he or she is safe, secure, and the object of someone’s care and concern.

One of the next steps necessary to a child’s development the ability of the person providing the care and education of the child be aware that children are different and that is not necessarily bad.  Nature requires diversity and  that means that those providing nurturance be able to able to provide and or seek out sources for the education, training, and future achievements possible for each child.

rp_2290679982_1eaafcaf2b_m.jpgChildren also learn at different rates and in different ways.  Having, eight young grandchildren, I have noticed this.  Children progress at different rates in different areas and it does not necessarily mean that the child is “backward”  and may not catch up in this area later when he or she changes their focus of learning.

Over time, children need to become responsible for certain things and to have certain experiences.  For example, you don’t don’t teach a child about dating by not letting them be around the opposite sex until they are twenty-one and then let them figure it out by themselves.  Children need also to learn to make certain decisions for themselves and to experience the appropriate consequences.  Learning is done in steps and certain concepts need to be acquired and practiced before going on to other more advanced and/or difficult ones.

Lets Not Keep Throwing Kids Away Literally and Figuratively

4-disciplining-children-450a032108Frightened young girls get pregnant so they have somebody to love and young boys like to feel studly and see how many babies they can generate.  Neither is a good reason to have a child.  Nurturing a child is also a full-time process which involves being selfless much of the time.  It also requires good judgment which is not fully developed until young adulthood.

Our welfare state facilitates irresponsible parenthood and children often raised without discipline or love.  How many children are thrown out on the street and have to learn how to survive there on their own.Then we chastise them (not the parents or the state) for doing this and becoming angry at society and not fitting in there.

rp_2290679982_1eaafcaf2b_m.jpgNo wonder these children don’t trust anybody.  Yes, the ghetto (where many of these children end up) doesn’t always teach middle-class values.  In order to survive, these children do what they can to live on the streets or with parents and foster parents that don’t care or use them for their own purposes.  They often only want the check.  Worse yet these parents may have been raised the same way that they are raising their children.

rp_300px-Lansing-correction.jpgParents having the right to raise or not raise their biological children as they see fit does not take into account the rights of the children.  They also go so far as to often use abortion as the method of choice when it comes to practicing birth control.

I think it is a case of blame the victim (which is the child) for the sometimes irrefutable abuse they sustained whether caused by the system, natural parents,  and/or foster parents.

Last, but not least, parents who do a good job of raising their children by giving their kids love, discipline, and values do not get rewarded by the system.  There are no rewards for doing a good job, just for doing a bad job.

rp_9709182109_5fd0b7fbaa_n.jpgChild custody also gets handled often by people who do not know what they are doing, what the child needs, and what constitutes a good parent. If they do know these things they are hampered by laws and regulations that often don’t make any sense.

For example in one northern county of my state, only the worst judges, those who are not doing their job in other venues, get “demoted” to doing child custody cases and they receive no training on how to do this in a way that would benefit the child whose custody is being determined.

I have proposed that that county develop special training for these judges determining custody cases.  It would include forty hours of hands-on training by professionals in the field of custody determination. Doing it this way ensures that judges would actually participate and not just skim through some information on the subject.  It should also be a mixed group so no judge would be swayed in a particular direction.

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Continuing Growth Is Necessary For A Psychotherapist

loud-noisesNo, once chosen the profession of a psychotherapist or counselor requires continuing growth.  Sometimes in surprising ways.

Freudian psychotherapists have raised the subject of transference in the relationship between a therapist and a client.  Transference can go both ways.  Something about the client makes them see the therapist in a certain way.  Sometimes something about the therapist makes them see the client in a certain way.

Education in a profession such as psychotherapy can lead the practitioner to believe they must present themselves as  experts in the field and as not vulnerable to the types of things that bring ordinary clients into therapy.  This can lead to rationalization and denial on the therapists part.

Rationalization means that the therapst can create a good explanation as to why he or she is not vulnerable to the types of problems his or her patients have.  Denial can also result from the taking of this position and it can cause therapy to not move forward for the client.

Personal growth is one way possibly to help stop this from happening. Does the development of one’s self-concept and concept of life stop with attaining one’s maturity whether at 18, 21, or 35?  No, it does not.  Our perspective on life constantly changes with new experiences.

Honestly does a psychotherapist think that they can understand exactly how they learned to be who they think they are and stop growing.  Wouldn’t personal growth experiences for psychotherapists help with this?

Is there only one answer?  Hasn’t science found this out.  What things did scientists believe were true when your parents were children and what have you or your children learned in the present that scientists’ did not know or believe then?

Remember the old saying, “Do as I say!” not “Do as I do!”

Also the more defensive barbed wire a therapist puts between him or herself and what he or she is asking their patient to do, the more “phony” and indefensible they become as therapists.

New learning and new growth leads to enthusiasm to carry this over into the psychotherapist’s work.  Insights developed this way can help a therapist be more responsive in therapy.   I now hear and see more things than I used to see or hear in everyday interpersonal interaction.

For example I can still learn from a four year old that grandma is not always smiling and looking happy when she thinks she is especially when I am feeling that I am working at something and forgeting to enjoy doing it.

 

 

Sometimes You Have To Let Something Go To Make Room For Something New To Come In

rp_300px-Sabbatical_titlescreen.jpgAs you can see I am taking a sabatical this fall.  I have no classes to teach this fall which means it will be a squeeze financially but I will have more time to devote to writing for this website, more time to babysit grandchildren (which is a mixed blessing), more time to meditate in several different ways, and more time to pursue my own personal growth.

While I was teaching this summer (and taking an art class myself), I was feeling stressed out and at times it made me physically ill.  Do you think that as a psychologist I should have known better than that?  Maybe.  But I just know from past experiences that it is a sign that I should take heed of and do something about.

It took time and money out of my pocket in order to teach even though I have been enjoying it and growing a lot doing it.  Yes, I was paid but as a part-time instructor and only for what classes I taught each semester.  This summer I made an hour round trip trip to town four days a week for two months spending the whole day there two days a week.rp_300px-New_Life_Ranch_Sign.jpg

I will take two road trips this fall to see the evangelist Joyce Meyer and attend the homecoming celebration of my undergraduate college in honor of my class’s 50th anniversary.  I will be doing this on a shoestring; but I am not going to miss these chances to do something I want to do which only comes along once in a blue moon.

I have already gotten one surprise phone call offering me some financial help for one of my upcoming seminars after it was decided that I was not going to teach this fall. I also have recently found some books that answer questions I have been asking, but did not get the answers for that I have been gobbling up.

Yesterday, I caught up on some of my sleep and decided to do nothing that I didn’t have to do.  I missed one of my regular salesmen while I slept in the afternoon and I did not check on most of the things that I am checking on today and I did not turn my computer on.

I am growing.  I intend to explore new and old things that I have not gotten around to doing recently.

Does Therapy Come Too Late?

rp_228552603_150_150.jpgWhy didn’t we learn to help ourselves in school?  Where were the role models of good adjustment at home?  Parents are often as clueless as their children and are afraid to admit it when they didn’t also get the instruction at home or school.

There are self-help books for adults.  Where are they for children?  Do parents feel that it is to their advantage to have children who don’t know anymore than than they did when they were children?

rp_300px-TV_highquality.jpgDo children learn how to deal with life from video games, violent programs, or from the drama they see and/or experience at home.  Values, ideals, and spirituality are close to being forbidden in schools or anywhere in the public eye.  Wholesome shows have been replaced by shows with lots of drama providing bad examples of how to behave in relationships or deal with problems.

Practicing therapy can be a frustrating business especially when it comes after a person’s beliefs and problem-solving behaviors have become crystallized and so much a part of a person’s identity that they feel threatened when challenged to change.  It has a lot to do with how a person’s self-esteem is developed and the practices that they are taught to maintain it.  Lying, deceiving, and avoiding responsibility are often used by someone when a person is afraid of being criticized and ultimately rejected.rp_Anxiety.gif

What results is a fear of change and a learned helplessness instead of developing helpful problem-solving skills and a desire to change for the sake of doing better.  We are evolving individuals and making mistakes and changing what we do or think is part of the process.  I once wrote a story or a poem about “Old King Never Ever Wrong”.

Stories are to teach and not just to amuse or vent rage.  Before most people could read or write stories were a way of teaching things and were passed down orally from generation to generation in order to do this.  What about the parables Jesus told in the Bible?  What about the Bible stories that are still taught in Sunday school or church?

Do You Hear Only What You Want To Hear?

Do You Hear Only What You Want to Hear Or See Only What You Want To See?  Do you sometimes tune things out and skip parts of the material that is given to you? or that is shown to you?rp_3126327492_30718d4524_m.jpgI go to a place to meet my spiritual needs and I go to hear what God wants me to know.  I try to go with no preconceived notions of what I will get from attending church that day.  I quiet myself and pay attention to what is prayed, said, or done.  It is a time to be in the moment, not about feeling bad for what has happened in the past or being anxious or worried about the future.

Something was said yesterday during the service that I caught and am presenting here.  This idea not only applies to worship services, but also to doctor visits, books, lectures or workshops.We often hear what we want to hear not actually was said or intended.  When we learn something new, we often make changes to other ideas we have held or if this makes us uncomfortable we decide to tweak the material that was presented so it fits our notions of how the world should be.

Gossiping

Gossiping

Ever play the game of gossip and noticed how distorted the original message became?

We may tune in and tune out adjusting what we do hear to make it more acceptable no matter what the content.  We can have attacks of boredom.  We can become irritated because we have to sit there and listen to the speaker drone on and on.  We can day dream or even fall asleep.  Pay attention there may be something useful there.

This also can apply to visual material like posters, power point presentations.   Did you read the quote presented at the top of this post.  Here it is again.rp_3126327492_30718d4524_m.jpg How did it make you feel: comfortable or uncomfortable.  Are you generally open and receptive? or do you not like someone else telling you what to do and/or commenting  on your appearance, possessions, and family.  You have your own ideas and are comfortable with them.

I realize when I jump to conclusions I don’t pay attention to what is being presented.  Stereotypes of people and cultures leave much to be desired and prevent us from encompassing diversity and learning what these people and cultures are really like.

Now you may understand why that Active Listening (Carl Rogers) is so important in communication.  Being able to repeat what the other person has said before giving your reply encourages people to hear everything that was said.

Flowers Versus Weeds. How Were You Raised? What Are You Raising?

rp_8150559597_f6b72c73b6_m.jpgIt all depends on your point of view.
The problem is that in your garden you may have been taught to see certain plants as weeds and which should be “weeded” out and others as flowers which should be cultivated.  Many people when they plant their gardens expect to get flowers but the truth is that when you plant a seed, you may get not get what you expected which is someone like you and you don’t know how to cultivate them.  How do you handle this mystery seed as a disappointment or as a wonderful new discovery  if you got what you were hoping for.  Why take it out on the plant, because you have to learn new cultivating  techniques and, for example, provide different amounts of water, different amounts of sunshine or shade, and different kinds and amounts of plant food as well as protection from different types of insect infestation.  Some require  more space than others or grow taller and block the sun getting to other plants and/or your view of them.  You can look on this as a pleasant surprise or as a serious disappointment and/or you might learn new things about growing different “plants”.

rp_300px-Drill.jpgThe famous Kennedy family had their developmentally disabled daughter unsuccessfully operated on to deal with her unconventional behavior and then institutionalized her because they couldn’t cope with her unfortunate behavior changes after surgery and her perceived inability to benefit (they thought) no longer from family life with the other children.  Could she who was seen as an unfortunate weed that needed to be changed been raised successfully (at least for her if not for them) in the in the Kennedy family compound? They felt that they couldn’t cope with her behavior and poor ability to comprehend and benefit from what was going on around her.  It was an unfortunate decision and at the time, they didn’t know that the operation would not help her, but injury her further.

Did you get what you individually needed to grow and flourish as the flower that you actually  were or were you treated unfortunately as an unwanted weed? Also what were your parents considered to be by their parents, teachers, and even peers?  Flowers or weeds? and how were they raised? you-are-exactly-who-you-are-suppose-to-beTaking account of the differences as well as the similarities is important in raising your own off spring or the children you have contact with, students, nieces and nephews,  etc. .  Consider such happenings  as a pleasant  surprise and  as a splendid way to learn new things and see life from a different point of view and not as dealing with an unwanted pest and, at best, as at least an inconvenience to have such a child and set them the child up for the rest of his or her life to be seen as a failure or to be at the least second best when compared with a sibling or or siblings who might more meet your expectations and fit your style of dealing with life itself.

Help Yourself To The Smorgasbord of Life

It is time to help yourself to the smorgasbord of life.  There now is so much information out there that you can use to help yourself have a better life.  Self-Help books have multplied geometrically.  More and more people are investigating the spiritual realm whether it is the one that they were born into or one that they adopted when they were older.  This kind of knowledge was once hidden and/or people were discouraged from pursuing it on their own.

Knowledge of this universe and how it works can only help you manifest what you want out of life for yourself or others.  Often you hear people saying, “I can’t help myself” when asked why they are not getting ahead and/or don’t know what they want out of life.rp_The_Meaning_of_Life_with_Gay_Byrne.jpg

All knowledge is built on knowledge previously attained and assimilated.  Every discovery that leads a person on to new fields rings an imaginary chime in the person head and often affirms an idea or belief that the person was already contemplating.

In the smorgasbord of life, you only take what you need and help yourself to whatever tempting dish calls to you.  In a real life smorgasbord,  I might choose herring in sour cream or wine sauce.  You, however, might not touch it and may even be repulsed by it.  Remember to avoid temptation when it calls for you to hurt yourself or someone else.

If-your-inner-voice-canThere are so many new techniques of self-discovery perpetuated by modern day psychology;  meditation and mindfulness are just two of them. Old standards are relaxation techniques and hypnosis.   Should we save such techniques for people who are having serious mental health problems or should we teach them and encourage their use by everyone to help them feel better and succeed in life.  When the pupil is ready the teacher will come.  Be realistic and find a reliable qualified practitioner.

There has been the scientific verification of things in psychology that we either didn’t know could happen or couldn’t prove if we suspected that they might happen.  The formation of crystals when water was frozen was effected by the positive or negative nature (the vibrations) of  the words that labeled the water’s containers.  When they were positive , the crystals were beautiful and well formed under the microscope; but just the opposite happened when they were negative.  It was difficult or almost impossible for the water to form stable crystals when the words were negative.

It is also shameful that much has been learned in psychology as a science that could help us to raise people from children to adults with fewer problems in behavior, thinking, and relationships.  In the name of freedom, we are not allowed to tamper with how and why children are conceived, who can have them, and how they are raised.

Many children are raised with parents who are poor examples of how to behave and in less than optimal circumstances especially when parents or caregivers decide not to use their available resources (time? money?) on the children.  If there are problems, parents can determine that nothing will be done about them.  In psychotherapy later in adulthood how much time is spent undoing what went wrong in childhood?children-innervoicejpg

Atmosphere is important.  Children, even babies can sense when an adults, words, facial expression, behavior, or gestures do not match.  However, the adult often tells the child who sense this that they are wrong because the adult does not want the child to not trust them.

There are resources out there and they can be found in many places.  People and groups of people who share the same beliefs involving respect for all life, determination to do the most good for the most living beings, and love for all provide these kind of resources.