The Pastor and His Family in Peru

July 28, 2007

peru-lima-map.jpgDr. Ramesh Richard does more than wish the world could get better. He goes out to a couple of different countries every year to make it better by training local pastors in their biblical preaching, evangelism and personal godly living. Next week, I’ll be joining the RREACH team in Lima, Peru to offer twelve hours of teaching on “The Pastor and His Family.” My personal conviction is that a pastor needs to know how to manage his own family before he can manage a church. But I really don’t know these people. So I’m going with an attitude ofimg_0086.jpg presenting some basic family principles from the Bible and then see how they work them out into their own culture. I have a hunch that I’m going to learn at least as much as they do. One of my challenges is to create an open atmosphere of personal honesty to a group of people who may be very proud and private. Another challenge is to come to them with an attitude of humility so they feel encouraged rather than criticized.

Here’s the outline we’ll be working through.

I. The Biblical Importance of Family

II. The Pastor and His Family

A. What is a healthy, godly family

B. How are sins passed on to the third and fourth generations? (Exodus 34:6-7)

C. How to break unhealthy patterns of the past.

III. The Pastor and His Marriage

A. God’s model for marriage

B. How to maintain a good marriage

IV. The Pastor and His Children

A. What if the only picture of God your children ever received was your life?

B. How important are children in God’s eyes?

C. What does it mean “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6)?

D. Treat your children in a manner that fits their age

E. Discipline: Do’s and Don’ts

F. Balance “Challenge” with “Comfort”

G. How much “instruction” does your child need?

V. The Pastor and His Personal Purity

A. The dangers of power

B. The dangers of public life

C. The need for accountability


I have a personal philosophy that says “Whenever you go outside your own comfort zone and experience how others do life, you come back a richer man, better equipped to do life better at the local level.” I hope that will prove a reality for this trip.

From Russia, with Vision

July 27, 2007

dmitrievsky.jpgHe seemed like just an ordinary nice guy when he sat down to have lunch with me last week. Then Vasily Dmitrievsky introduced himself and I knew I was in for a treat. I met a man with a vision. Vasily graduated from Dallas Seminary with a Master of Theology in 2006 and is again in Dallas for several weeks this summer to complete some additional course work. His wife and children are still back in Russia because it would have been too expensive to bring them. He talked to me about reverse culture shock. For example, during the four years he was here, prices in Russia had inflated four times. So when he returned “home” in 2006, he had to pay $800 for the same thing that had cost only $200 earlier. Politics change. The church changes because the needs of the people become more basic. Wow! My eyes were opened.

Vasily is a missionary with e3 Partners Ministry. The three e’s come from “Equip” which is about equipping local church leaders and laymen around the world to serve their own communities with the Gospel; “Evangelize” which is about provides evangelism training tools and opportunities through several coordinated strategies; and “Establish” which is about equipping them to make disciples, develop leaders and plant churches. I like that ambitious but humble approach. It’s about how guys like Vasily can help local people do what they want to do by adding his resources to their efforts and goals.e3partners.jpg

If anyone is looking for a worthwhile cause to support financially, contributions can be made through e3 Partners Ministry. More than an enjoyable lunch partner, Vasily opened my eyes to a more global perspective of my world.

Women’s Modesty — Prudish or Godly?

July 23, 2007

modesty-in-women.jpgDrake Torp-Pederson, a wonderful pastor and a dear friend of mine, had listened to the podcast of my chapel talk last spring and sent me a web site that reinforced my point.  I was addressing the need for purity and modesty on the part of our female students at Dallas Seminary.  (Last Fall I aimed at the guys).  My intension was to emphasize the positive picture of how women should dress (i.e. to accentuate the loveliness of their countenance) as well as their heart (i.e. a lovely internal disposition).  Drake pointed me to a blog maintained by four women who dare to talk frankly about the “biblical woman” and unpopular things like “modesty” with a positive, fun spirit.  Clicking on one of their links takes you to this pdf-file which I think is a wonderfully practical guideline for women to follow. 


A few years ago, these comments reflected the reactions of an Asian Christian to the dress codes of Western women.  It’s worth a read.  The picture on this post comes from that link.  

I like this kind of discussion to focus on two questions concerning women’s dress: (1) What does your appearance communicate to others? (2) Is that what you want to communicate?  (3) To what extent do you glorify God with the way He has gifted you?   And for the many attractive women who have discovered the secrets of dressing well, thanks.

Full-time Work Less Appealing to Women — Getting Smarter

July 20, 2007

working_moms.jpgThe latest Pew Social Trends report states the facts. But I have several politically incorrect reasons for why full-time work for mothers is not good for them, their family or their children. (1) Everybody is exhausted in the evening so the family unit gets only each other’s dregs. (2) The added income may add to the collection of “things” but not necessarily enrich the quality of life for the family. (3) Women typically feel crushed by the pressure to “have to” share the financial support of the family, while men typically feel grounded by the same pressure. (4) Mom is uniquely suited to be the cohesive glue that holds a family together emotionally and relationally, but when she working full time, she can’t do it all. (5) The cultural emphasis on individualized activities, compulsive consumerism, and high achievement tends to fracture relationships and rupture attachment bonds that are so important for healthy living. (6) The glorification of full-time work for women (giving your best to your employer’s dream) makes it difficult to understand the grand-scale significance of a home-based loving mom. Our women have been duped by a myth and are in danger of losing the vision of one of the most important callings of all times. It takes all you’ve got to build a healthy, godly home.

Pew Social Trends report: In the span of the past decade, full-time work outside the home has lost some of its appeal to mothers. This trend holds both for mothers who have such jobs and those who don’t. Just 21% of working mothers and 16% of at-home mothers now say working full-time would be their ideal situation. © 2007, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703/823-9800. Email: Permission is hereby granted to reproduce anything contained in this newsletter as long as the American Counseling Association is identified as the original source of the information.

Attachment and Addiction

July 17, 2007

betty-at-450-px.jpgTomorrow evening I will be giving a lecture on “Attachment, Attunement and Addiction.”  Betty Dicken, pictured at right, does a superhuman, multitasking job of coordinating several lecture series in Dallas and Houston to represent The Meadows.  The Meadows is an inpatient facility in Arizona specializing in the treatment of a broad range of addictions.   If therapists are not already thinking in terms of relational attachment, I hope this lecture will inspire them to start. If they are already attuned to relationship dynamics as a primary need in individuals, I hope this lecture will encourage them to continue and dig more deeply into it.

attachment-and-addiction-book.jpgI want to promote the only substantive resource I could find that relates attachment to addiction, the excellent book by Dr. Philip Flores, Addiction as an Attachment Disorder. He reviews attachment theory and then applies it to addiction. 

The gist of the lecture is this: Children who are not securely attached (bonded) as infants, are limited in their ability to “connect” as they grow older. These relationship deficits or ruptures result in pain, anguish, fear, etc. The older person is then more prone to seek chemicals, inadequate relationships or addictive behaviors to deal with the deeper negative feelings. These attempts to regulate self-repair are doomed to failure. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that psychotherapy (ideally group therapy plus AA) serves to sever the ties to the addictive “pain killer” and then replace the voids with healthy relationships that are healing and sustaining. Hopefully, the client will then carry that more relational capacity outward into their world of family and friends.  But the therapy must exemplify secure attachment characteristics, not just being nice, not intellectual teaching of principles, not objective interpretation, etc.   I think this quality of therapy is difficult because it demands authenticity from the therapist — no room for hiding. 

The graph below shows four different styles of adult attachment. If you want to see where you operate, answer the questionnaire by Fraley, Waller and Brennan and they’ll plot your dot. I scored in the low anxiety range right on the line between “Secure” and “Dismissing-Avoidant.”

Now I wonder what keeps the church from providing that same healing function within the wounded part of the body of Christ. I think we don’t think we are open to research and applied relationship training that comes from the “secular” world. Too many of us “conservative evangelical” folks are afraid to wonder very far from that which is authorized directly by scripture. I’m more inclined to think that something is helpful as long as it doesn’t oppose scripture. It’s particularly good I think if it helps us connect more fully in our significant relationships. Furthermore, I think these insights and this kind of healing can help us not only to connect better to significant other people, but also to connect more intimately with God Himself.  Maybe this is what Jesus had in mind when he reminded us that we are the salt and light of the earth.  Maybe James was thinking about this level of healing when he wrote, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (rather than evaluating and judging one another).  Maybe John had this kind of secure attachment in mind when he quoted Jesus saying, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Never Feel Sorry for Yourself

July 15, 2007

If your computer pulls up You-Tube, watch this amazing video of overcoming a physical challenge.

What Are They? Why Do They Do That?

July 15, 2007


Those are the questios my wife and I were asking a few weeks ago while dining In Galveston at Pier One. These black birds perch on the ropes that moore the ship and occassionally one spreads its wings so your attention goes to that one. My wife thought they were lifting their arms in praise of God. I suggested that they were airing out their armpits. I found the answers in the Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds by Terres. These birds are called Cormorants. It seems that they got short-changed because their feathers are not adequately waterproof and become so sodden after they have been fishing underwater that they must hold them open in the sun and breezes to dry. How good of God to equip them with an alternative way of staying dry.

So what’s the point of all this discovery for a guy who’s not really into bird watching? I realized that my favorite two kinds of questions to ask are “What?” and “Why?” It reminds me of the old Rudyard Kipling poem from the story, The Elephant’s Child, part of which goes:

I keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.

Interesting how well fourth grade equips you for a life of learning!