David’s life is exemplary throughout his childhood and early adulthood. He trusts God to defend His people when fighting the giant Goliath (1 Sa 17). He trusts God to give him the kingship in His timing rather than take matters into his own hands by killing Saul (1 Sa 19, 1 Sa 24). In a beautiful culmination of his intimate relationship with God, David promises to build a house for God, and in turn, God promises to build an eternal house for David and his descendants (2 Sa 7). It is surprising, then, that soon after this exchange, David becomes an adulterer and a murderer. Continue reading
During one class, I led a group that had to create a Theology of the Body. It turned into one of my favorite projects, resulted in two new friends, and helped me conceptualize and defend something I already believed with my heart. This post isn’t a paper so much as a bunch of verses from the Bible sorted into categories which, if you’re a theology nerd, is VERY interesting. Trust me.
Application: The body is good, but it can be misused, either by excess or deprivation.
Celibacy vs. Hypersexuality Continue reading
I’m starting a new bi-weekly series where I will share some of my favorite papers written when I was in seminary studying counseling. They will be about faith, science, and faith + science!
The Bible is not a psychotherapy manual, but the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 reveals much about depression, both in how humans experience it and in how God reacts to it. After Elijah witnesses the mighty power of God in burning up sacrifices (1 Ki 18:38-39), wiping out the Baal prophets (1 Ki 18:40), bringing rain after a drought (1 Ki 18:41-45), and empowering him to escape the wrath of Ahab (1 Ki 18:46), one would expect Elijah to feel strong and confident. Jezebel’s death threat (1 Ki 19:2) doesn’t sound all that threatening when God has just performed multiple miracles. Yet Elijah’s response to the threat is to flee to the desert outside Beersheba and lay down to die (1 Ki 19:3-4). This incongruence between experience and reality is normative for depressed persons. Although Elijah has every reason to trust God, he feels weary of his burden and wants his life to end.
Many Christians do not understand depression and therefore react badly to those suffering from it. Well-meaning Christians can give very bad advice that often leads to more guilt rather than deliverance from depression. How comforting, then, is God’s response! Rather than impressing upon Elijah his stupidity in not trusting the almighty God, He sends an angel to feed and care for Elijah (1 Ki 19:5-6). For forty days and nights, the angel gently leads Elijah through the desert to Mount Horeb (1 Ki 19:8-9). God takes care of Elijah’s needs for a month and a half, treating him with over-kindness and silent support. It is not until this loving foundation is laid that God speaks to Elijah and says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Ki 19:9). This too is telling. God does not list all the ways in which He has been there for Elijah or guilt Elijah for his lack of trust. Instead, he invites Elijah into a conversation, meeting him where he is rather than demanding more from him than Elijah is capable of giving. Continue reading
Waking up yesterday on the lake was one of life’s simple pleasures. I opened the blinds, and looked out to see the sun high above the water (sleeping in is also one of life’s simple pleasures). Stephanie and I ate breakfast with her family, then she taught me how to paddleboard.
For those not in the know, paddleboards are bigger surfboards with a greater ability to balance. You’re supposed to stand upright on them, propelling yourself across the water with an oar, looking a little like Jesus on a Segway. My comparison to Jesus is intentional, because watching Stephanie navigate gracefully over the water looked like some kind of supernatural miracle. And I very rarely experience miracles.
Since I can barely swim in an ocean with high buoyancy levels, I knew death was immanent if I fell off the paddleboard. On went my lifejacket, and then Stephanie helped me kneel on my paddleboard. I moved forward with my oar, and she praised me very highly, like a child taking their first shaking steps. Like a child, I blossomed under her praise and stopped sitting on my heels, balancing on my knees instead.
At the graduation ceremony at Dallas Theological Seminary, an allusion was made to “Well done, good and faithful servant,” at least three times. This phrase is from a parable Jesus told in Matthew 25 in which a man entrusts money to three servants in the hope that they will use it well in his absence. The two who invested are rewarded by their master and told, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
If we are the servants and God is the master, it’s a nice thought that we might be greeted by him in our resurrected bodies with this kind of affirmation. But the near obsession evangelicals have with this verse concerns me. It feels very close to a works-based faith and a desire that God see our actions, our ministry, our goodness, and commend us for it.
Or maybe I’m just wired differently, because if there is one thing I want to hear God say, it is, “I love you.” I’ve spent my whole life working to impress people. I live for approval, and I’m just self-conscious enough to crave constant compliments. That kind of affirmation is fleeting, and I am never satisfied. I don’t want to work for God’s affection. I don’t want his affection to be based upon my work. Continue reading
I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary! Three years of reading, writing, and learning, and I am a Master of Biblical Counseling. I am so relieved to have a brain break, but I admit that part of me is sad to leave the school behind.
DTS is not a perfect place because it is full of Christians. But despite my occasional rages against the more conservative leanings of the school, I am so grateful to have attended. My faith blossomed at DTS as I learned to see truth everywhere–in psychology textbooks, in the Bible, in nature. I learned to trust in a God bigger than I’d ever considered, a God who cannot be fathomed except that He made Himself known. I learned to stop putting so much of my identity in my GPA, to value knowledge for its own sake rather than for a grade. And more than that, I learned to put knowledge into practice, because what’s the point of having wisdom if it doesn’t affect the way you live and love other people?
Most of all, DTS taught me to appreciate grace. I live so often by the law of karma, demanding good for the good things I do and expecting bad when I do something wrong. I learned, by teaching and by experience, that God throws cause and effect out of the window. I learned to delight in a God who gives and gives and gives, who held out His arms to His people no matter how many times they ran away from Him. Continue reading
I am in my last semester of seminary, and I purposefully left my eschatology theology class until the end. That’s fitting, right, since eschatology is the study of the end times? My motivation, however, was more than a desire to make a (not so) clever joke. As I prepare to go to Greece and work with women who have been trafficked, I knew I need a solid grasp on what my faith says about ultimate redemption and restoration. My favorite professor at Union University said of Revelation, “The only message you must take away from Revelation is: God wins.” Anticipating this semester, I knew I needed a refresher on the hope that is found in eschatology. Continue reading