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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Women should be Submissive to their Husbands - Ephesians 5:22-23 - REVISITED

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 @ 12:43 AM

Husbands Love Your Wives As Christ Loved the Church

Both Husbands and Wives are to be Submissive to One Another

Ephesians 5:22-33 – revisited

(v22)Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

In some traditions, this passage is read on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. It is known as elbow Sunday – some husbands like to elbow their wives jokingly to pay attention to these words.

Yet, the misinterpretation of this passage and its foundation to the history of Christian marriage theology over the centuries is nothing to joke about, nor is it something of which the Christian church should be proud. I put this on my list of one of the most egregious sins of the church which has paved the road to much depravity insofar as it has pervaded whole cultures and societies with pseudo-Christian values.

In the second of my five years of seminary, I was required to begin learning Spanish since I was studying to minister in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles which is largely Hispanic. Rather than have solely classroom instruction, I sought permission to travel to the heart of Mexico for an immersion experience in the beautiful state of Michoacán where one of my classmates’ family lived in a small village of about four thousand people. For six weeks, I had a memorable experience of reveling in the culture, cuisine, music, festivities, and infectious friendly spirit of the people. Since they didn’t speak a word of English, I was compelled to use my Spanish. I’m grateful that my ability to give intelligible sermons in Spanish when I was ordained a few years later was because of this educational opportunity.

But there was one experience in my cultural visit that made me uncomfortable. A devout Christian family invited me to their home for dinner because they had heard of a visiting seminarian. It was a family with seven daughters and one son. The head of the house, Salvador, decided to slaughter a goat, un chivo, in my honor. At that time in my life I did eat meat, and I still recall how tasty and tender it was. After dinner, I noticed the daughters were not invited to participate in the living room conversation; they were clearing the plates, sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen, and serving drinks and dessert to the men. I jumped up to assist them – some of the daughters were young adults older than I. I was taught it was proper for children (and guests) to at least take your own plate to the kitchen, or optimally grab one or two nearby plates as well – by doing so you show your appreciation for your meal.

Salvador boomed in a loud and intimidating voice, “Pablo, no lo hagas” – don’t do that. Apparently, that was women’s work. Even the youngest child, a boy of 15 years, was not expected to do these domestic chores. I quickly adjusted to the customs of my host family and accepted their gracious hospitality. In coming days, I spoke in the village with some of the muchachas, the young women. I listened to many stories of lost opportunities of education and business, and the struggle to advance, because they needed to imbue the culturally-expected stance of submission, giving the opportunities to the men. They were to enthusiastically accept more menial roles so that the men could flourish.

My friend Salvador, in his zeal for mandating that his daughters clean the dishes while the men conversed in the sala, was simply doing his parental duty to ensure they grow up to make good submissive wives, increasing their appeal to potential mates.

This story of cultural grooming of women to be submissive to men from an early age, could may as well be a story from a family in Eastern Europe, Africa, or the United States – from virtually anywhere.

The above scriptural passage must not be taken out of context – it must be seen together with the next ten verses, especially this one:

(v25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.

There are many cases of identified domestic violence and abuse perpetrated by men that can be traced to cultural grooming which resolutely denies the latter part of this passage, and even greater numbers of marriages where women have been afraid to speak out against abuse due to deference to their husbands. Indeed, the movements of women’s suffrage, women’s liberation, feminism, support for LGBTQ rights, and the dire need for consent education, are all fighting in part against this pseudo-Christian societal conditioning.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. How deeply did Christ love the church? So deeply, that he died for the church. Husbands thereby are called to live selflessly: to serve, protect, and die for their wives. Husbands and wives, therefore, are called to be submissive to each other. This mutual respect is the foundation of intimacy.

Is the husband still called to be the head of the household? Yes, but it must be done with utmost respect, and a submissive attitude. There is a natural order of some roles which become gender-based. Ultimately, however, all humans have both masculine and feminine qualities. Let’s say that two-thirds of men are masculine insofar as they are decisive, strong, confident, and take the lead. These men may also have underlying feminine qualities, like being sensitive, kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and compassionate. WAIT! Although these are stereotypically feminine qualities, a fully developed definition of masculine should include all of these qualities. A man is most evolved when he can at times be thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. Similarly, the other one-third of men can lead with their best qualities of being sensitive, kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and compassionate.

The men of ancient cultures went out and hunted, while the pregnant women and young children stayed at the hearth. This balance was upset in Jean Auel’s female character Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear. She clandestinely learns to hunt, defying the norm that only men hunt. She took the lead with her ability to feed the community when necessary. When found out, she was banished from her community for this offense, and suffered excruciating pain due to that isolation, and even more anguish from being forcibly separated, forever, from her toddler son. She discerned not to submit to her male-dominated clan, but rather to her inner spirit, where God dwells. God had given her the gifts of being able to hunt, to lead, to be courageous, and to provide. By listening to her inner-voice she became a steward of her God-given talents. Thus, her species survived and evolved.

After many months Ayla eventually meets a man who accepts her masculine qualities of hunting, providing, and leadership. They marry their lives and talents, in a bonded relationship where they can both lead and both be nurturing to the extent of their innate talents.

When we are baptized into Christ Jesus, there is not a separate rite for women and men. It is the same rite for male and female – we are baptized into community with God, as children of God. Thereafter, as Christians, we are all called to develop our ability to love, depending on what we have been given.

Jesus gave us two commandments:

Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-38).

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you (John 13:34).

How are we to love one another? All of Jesus’ life is instruction for us, but especially his central act – submitting to his Father’s will. Recall his words in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion:

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will (Matt 26:39b).

At the wedding at Cana in John chapter two, the mother of Jesus, Mary, takes a decisive leadership role. It is interesting there is not even a mention of Joseph in this passage, though he likely accompanied his spouse and son. It was Mary who became aware of the need for more wine. She exercised a parental leadership quality by telling her son, they have no more wine. Jesus responds, Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come. I flashback briefly to my own mother saying, “Take out the trash,” to which I would respond, “Why, it’s not even full”.

Next, we have a female, not in the context of marriage, yet nevertheless exercising leadership in a decisive manner as she says to the servants, Do whatever he tells you. These are the most poignant recorded words of Mary. These words are the core of the early Christian community’s devotion to Jesus’ mother, a devotion which has lasted for millennia. These are words addressed to every disciple of Christ, to “do whatever he tells you”. At this event Jesus submits to the will of his mother. Mary is truly nurturing, yet decisive. The lesson here is that we humans, within and outside the context of marriage or romantic relationships, are most evolved when we exercise our inherent masculine and feminine qualities.

Jesus went so far as teaching his disciples that to be a leader, you must be the servant of all (Matt 23:11). He sealed this lesson at the last supper when he washed their feet, commanding them to go forth and do the same (John 13:14-15). It was at this event, upon receiving the instruction of servant leadership, the disciples were ordained apostles.

It is scripturally and theologically inaccurate for a husband to lord his power over his wife, expecting her to submit to him. For the husband to be the head of his household, in the role of priest of his family, he needs to accept the call to be the servant of his wife.

For the married couple, or anyone in relationship – you are called to each be submissive to one another. This is the way to love, respectfully. This is the way of intimacy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Changes That Lead: Applying the book Changes That Heal to Leadership

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 @ 1:12 AM

Everyone of us comes to work with baggage and a need to grow and develop. We symbolically bring in our family of origin to the workplace. We’re human! Few of us have our act totally together when we start a new job. While work is not therapy and it should not be, it can be a powerful catalyst to help us develop in and out of our roles at the job.

Many have read Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud, Ph.D. Here I look at the book as a leadership tool to help develop ourselves and our people and maybe give them an opportunity to make changes that heal and grow. Dr. Cloud sites many examples about healing and growth from Scripture in the original book that support many of the following ideas.

Time is what you need to wait for people to manifest the behavior of learning the job. An illustration of this is when a scientist teaches a lab animal a trick that they know it should be able to do, it is actually learning but maybe not showing its learning. The next morning they come in and run the experiment and the animal does it like it's known the behavior all its life. This is manifest learning as opposed to what was happening before which was latent learning which you can't see.

Grace is the second part of the equation where you allow people to make mistakes and give them grace as they need it to learn the new job or action. Handling this right helps them make good sense of their learning experiences.

Truth is where we begin to have a little bit more firmness in that we hold them accountable to certain standards that they need to perform the job well. We evaluate their performance (but not judge them as people) after raising expectations.

Next Henry talks about bonding and bonding is important in the workplace because it gives people a sense of belonging and connection as well as meaning. Without good bonding in a workplace people will not feel like they are part of a team or that they belong. Research indicates this bonding for staff is even more important than pay. Although good bonding needs to be established well outside the workplace, it is still important so that people learn to trust their leaders and fellow staff.

After that are boundaries which are very important to establish in leadership so that you can define roles and expectations. Henry has a whole book written about this subject called Boundaries And Leaders. Defining Vision, Mission and Goals are other parts a boundaries in leadership. While boundaries are not walls, they help our staff and ourselves define our responsibilities, what is and is not in our bailiwicks as well as keeping people challenged without overwhelming them.

The next part of the book talks about sorting out the bad and good in ourselves and others. We want to get away from black or white thinking. This is important in leadership because we want to be able discern between a bad action or attitude and the actual person. Judging a person from an all bad-all good perspective is counterproductive. The leader that sees a person as all good will be blind to their problem areas and not hold them accountable. The leader that sees a person as all bad will judge the person and not see their good parts or their talents or assets.
It is also important to be careful of the ideal other or self as well as the despised other or self. These four positions can distort our thinking and lead us to expectations and or judgements that benefit no one.

Further on the book deals with maturing into adulthood. Within the rules and structure of the workplace, both the leaders and the staff must rise to the level of maturity and beyond to be able to be effective in their tasks and relationships. This on one hand requires respect and appropriate working together with leaders. On the other hand, it also means that we must not be in a complete one down one up relationship with our authorities or our staff at work. To put it simply, it means that we are to require respect from others as well as to make sure that we respect them.
Some leaders see themselves as one up and believe they have absolute authority over all things and that they don’t have to respect anybody. It is not uncommon for these leaders to be failing in some way. For other leaders they still feel like they are one down with people, even their own staff. This is where it is important to work on our personal bonding so we can grow up to a role that we are called to.

Bonding gives us a “launching pad” with which we can form our boundaries. As part of this growth and maturity it’s important that we disagree sometimes with the first leaders that we ever met (i.e. our parents) [Also see the story of Jesus as a boy at the temple]. And likewise, it’s important that your staff and peers can appropriately disagree with you. It is also important to recognize and pursue our talents and abilities as well as our creative instincts so as to find the right role in our leadership and help others do the same. Maybe you're a creative boss or perhaps maybe you're a boss that's very good about sticking to facts and figures. So, it's important to expand these gifts while at the same time finding people who can help you with the areas you're not so strong in.

Changes That Heal For Leadership was not a book Henry necessarily intended to write but do understand that the real book originated as part of a project to stop burn out in a campus ministry. With that said it can do much to help us develop us as leaders and help us develop our staff. Reach out if you need help with these stages with yourself and or your team.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Bumpy Road or Joy Ride?

Saturday, March 13, 2021 @ 2:24 PM

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

Life’s journey takes you on an obstacle course of twists, turns, bumpy roads, mountains, valleys, tunnels, wastelands, bridges, lovely landscapes, and deep caverns. Each section of the journey impacts every individual differently. For example, Fred works at a high-pressure job in sales. He thrives when he is with people, and he feels alive when the pressure is on. Following the successful completion of a huge deal, Fred’s boss gave him a “bonus” to help him recover and regroup. He set him up with an all-expenses-paid, three-week vacation at a quiet out of the way cabin with a rented fishing boat. Fred’s boss said, “After a high-pressure close, I always need time to rest and regroup.” Unfortunately, to Fred, alone time felt like torture.

The bumpy roads on your journey might be exhilarating mountain top experiences to someone else, and your friend’s wastelands might be your lovely landscapes. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique and precious, and when you remember the following, your path becomes a fret-free flight: you journey this life hand-in-hand with the Lord.

Whatever segment of road to which your journey takes you, whether you consider it a trial or a delight, God has promised to be your refuge and your fortress. You can trust that He will rejoice with you when you are happy and He will protect you when you need sanctuary.

Try reminding yourself about it, this way. Inhale while picturing, “God is my refuge and my fortress.” Now exhale while envisioning, “He is my God in whom I trust.” Go ahead and repeat that a few times; inhale, picturing the first part of the verse. Then exhale envisioning the second half of the verse. Feel the strength, the power, the courage of the Lord filling you with each breath.

God did not promise you a trouble-free life. In this broken world, you will face troubles, but when you do, God will always be your fortress, your refuge, and your loving God.

If you’d like to learn more ways to allow the Lord to empower you toward freedom and spiritual health, visit

Thursday, March 4, 2021

"How Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Relationship," by Bernis Riley, Psy.D, LPC-S, Certified EFT Therapist

Thursday, March 4, 2021 @ 9:55 AM

Emotionally Focused Therapy, our therapy model at SoulCare Counseling, is partially based on Attachment Theory (which is actually no longer a theory but a proven science). British psychologist John Bowlby is the father of Attachment Theory going back to his work with separated infants in the 1950’s. He found that a child depends on his or her mother and father or primary caregivers for comfort, soothing, and support. If those needs are met, the child becomes securely attached; if not, the child becomes insecurely attached. Others built on Bowlby’s work, applying it to adult attachment, and found that four attachment styles develop in childhood and most often remain into adulthood.

We know from studies of the brain that we are hard-wired to seek close, supportive, safe, secure, comforting relationships. We need closeness and belonging as much as we need food and water. When our brain perceives that a primary relationship is in danger, it goes into overdrive to save it and triggers the attachment style we learned as children. The problem is that only one attachment style is healthy; the others, ironically, are destructive to the relationship they are employed by the brain to save.

Do You Have An Anxious Attachment Style?
People with an anxious attachment style would say, “You’re good, I’m not good.” They have a negative view of self but a positive view of others, especially their partner. The thought of being alone or separated physically or emotionally from that partner causes great anxiety. They fear abandonment and constantly seek security. As a result, they worry about their partner being as invested in the relationship as they are. They constantly seek their partner’s approval, support, and responsiveness or they experience anxiety. If they perceive that they are not receiving the closeness and support they need, the often become clinging, demanding, or critical, all in subconscious attempts to draw their partner close. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, these are called “pursuers.” The problem with this attachment style is that those who use it experience the very thing the fear, their partner withdraws.

Do You Have An Avoidant Attachment Style?
People with an avoidant attachment style would say, “I’m good, you’re not good.” They have a positive image of self but a low image of others. As a result, they don’t feel that they need a relationship to be happy and fulfilled. They don’t want to depend on others, and they don’t want others to depend on them. They see themselves as strong, independent, self-sufficient types who don’t need the support or approval of others. They identify with the Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, loner-type hero. They tend to be introverts. While they do want physical contact, they don’t feel the need for emotional contact, avoid emotions, and like Spock on “Star Trek” they suppress their emotions. When they are put in a situation with high emotions, they shut down and withdraw or leave. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, they are called “withdrawers.”

Do You Have A Disorganized Attachment Style?
People with a disorganized attachment style say, “I’m good, you’re not good…I’m not good, you’re good.” They shift back and forth in ambiguous, chaotic relationship behaviors. They push people away, then pull them back. They fear getting hurt and therefore avoid strong emotional attachments. They want intimacy and closeness, but at the same time have a hard time trusting and depending on others. They have trouble regulating their emotions. People with this attachment style are usually victims of abuse or trauma.

Do You Have A Secure Attachment Style?
The three attachment styles I just described are all insecure attachment styles. People who have those styles tend to have unhealthy relationships. But people with a secure attachment style are able to have healthy relationships. They say, “I’m good, you’re good.” They have a positive view of themselves and others. So, they have no fears of expressing their emotions. They are glad to depend on their partners, and let their partners depend on them. They are honest, tolerant, and intimate. They thrive in closeness with their partner, but are not anxious when they are separated. They are confident that the relationship is stable and will not be disrupted by the absence. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we work to help distressed couples move out of insecure attachment styles into a secure attachment style.


Thursday, March 4, 2021 @ 9:52 AM

Having been a pastor since I was 20, when my wife and I founded SoulCare Counseling in 2007, there was no question but that it would be a Christian counseling center. The only question was, what kind of Christian counseling would SoulCare do? That question might surprise you because most people assume that all Christian counseling is the same: the client shares a problem to which the counselor applies some Bible verses and has prayer. That is one kind of Christian counseling but it’s not the only kind. The fact is, all Christian counseling has similarities but also differences.

While all Christian counselors want to help you change, enter into a caring relationship with you, and have a Christian worldview, they use different counseling methods or models based on what they have found to be effective. The Association of Christian Counselors defines Christian counseling as activities that “seek to help people towards constructive change and growth in any or every aspect of their lives, through a caring relationship and within agreed relational boundaries, carried out by a counselor who has a Christian worldview, values and assumptions…Counselors use different methodologies or models for their counseling depending on their training and what they find to be effective.”

There are two basic approaches to Christian counseling:
• Theology Only. This is often called biblical, or nouthetic, counseling. It uses only the Bible and fits the apply-Scripture-and-pray model described earlier. Its biggest advocate is Jay Adams.
• Theology and Psychology. This is called professional Christian counseling. A professional Christian counselor has training and degrees in counseling/psychology and is committed to biblical theology. James Dobson and Larry Crabb are examples. When it comes to integrating psychology and theology, some counselors attempt to separate them, others mix them like a salad, and still others pick and choose only psychological approaches that are consistent with biblical teachings.

SoulCare Counseling falls into the last category. All of our counselors are Bible-believing Christians who have either earned or are working on degrees in counseling/psychology and are licensed by the state of Texas. We don’t believe that there is biblical truth and there is scientific truth; there is just truth, and all truth is God’s. Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” So, we take from psychology that which is true, right, etc., and consistent with Scripture and use it while discarding the rest.

We have found Emotionally Focused Therapy to be one of the most effective and biblically consistent counseling models. Though not a Christian, in the 1980’s Dr. Sue Johnson founded a counseling therapy that is consistent with biblical teachings. When she realized this, Sue worked with EFT trainer and former missionary Kenny Sanderfer to adapt her book Hold Me Tight into Created For Connection, The Hold Me Tight Guide For Christian Couples. It is based on Genesis 2:18 that “It is not good that man should be alone.” God created human beings for connection, so when we become disconnected, conflict and dysfunction arise. The key to resolving conflict is to reconnect through understanding our true needs and feelings, communicating them in a way our partner will receive, and giving/receiving forgiveness and reconciliation creating a safe, secure attachment bond. Christian themes run all through that: humbling oneself, considering the other as more important than self, being honest and speaking truth to one another, forgiveness, reconciliation, love as the bond of unity, to name a few.
Since EFT is based on biblical principles, it works! Imagine that. Studies of EFT over decades have shown that 70-75% of couples who complete EFT move from distress to recovery, and 90% show significant improvements. No other counseling model can make that claim. Biblically consistent and effective. That’s why our Christian counseling center does Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Dumped by God

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 @ 10:47 AM

We have all gone through seasons where we feel despondent and wonder if God is even paying close attention to our situation. We start wondering, “Does he even care? Does he even see what is going on? Is he still there or am I just talking to the ceiling?” Rest assure, God is not far. During these seasons, please know that you are simply being dumped by God.

Allow me to explain. Imagine as a new Christian, you are a little cup. You fell in love with Jesus and you are full of his love and spilling over the sides of the cup. You are just oozing with the Holy Spirit and you are on a spiritual high. Suddenly and frequently without our permission, God takes our little cup and dumps it into a bigger cup. All that love and Holy Spirit giddiness seems to dampen, and we go through a season of feeling alone and empty. We do not know what to do and we feel like the Holy Spirit high is only for baby Christians. Many Christians give up the pursuit of God at this point. However, this is the season where you need to dig your heels in, dive into the Word of God, and deepen your faith. You will find that over time, the new cup you were dumped into is filling up again and will be over-flowing once more.

Then, suddenly and frequently without our permission, God takes our bigger cup and dumps us into a bucket. Again, we feel shallow, empty, alone, and are hungry to be filled by God. We can get angry that he dumped us because we were content in our smaller cup. We may not understand why he dumped us, or why he chose this bucket. We can kick and scream and pitch a fit, but it will not fill the bucket. Only pursuing a relationship with God will adequately fill the current bucket we were dumped into.

God desires us to grow and that is why he loves us enough to dump us. He continues to dump us into bigger and bigger containers. Every time we are dumped by God and we pursue a relationship with him, in order for him to fill the current container we are poured into, we learn more about his character, his love, and his mercy. Any time we are dumped, it indicates that God desires our faith and trust in him to grow. Being dumped by God means that God loves us too much to leave us where we are at, and he desires for us to grow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Illness Can Be the Cure!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 @ 2:31 PM

During my medical school and residency trainings, I used to pray about why my patients were suffering from injuries and diseases. I began to hear their souls tell me why. There were always good reasons. In fact, I slowly realized that their souls were guiding their growth in some way. In this workbook, I share what I have learned from this prayerful soul-listening. Readers learn the language of the soul, so they might come to understand the soul communications in whatever symptoms they or their loved are struggling with. Painful afflictions become loving invitations to become more Christ-like when we learn this language of the soul!