A Good Person Doing Good Things

October 29, 2015

Why don’t we hear more about good people doing good things in our communities? This bothers me, so I keep my eyes open for noteworthy people who aren’t in the news. Dr. Michelle Woody strikes me as one of these people. I’m getting to know her as one of my LPC Interns and here’s what I see:

Michelle Woody PictureMichelle specializes in counseling children and youth from families experiencing domestic violence, substance and/or sexual abuse. She is a ‘first responder’ for families in deep trouble and people who encounter multiple forms of misery. She has tough skin. But through her toughness comes a very sensitive and compassionate spirit that reveals her genuine caring. She takes seriously the Bible’s directive to “Defend the cause of the poor and the fatherless! Vindicate the oppressed and suffering.” (Psalms 82:3)

Often, highly educated people operate at a lofty theoretical and abstract level. Not Michelle. She communicates effectively with young people who have very little sophistication but whose needs are very concrete. Did I mention she has a Doctorate degree from USC in Educational Psychology? Her dissertation was entitled, “Evidenced Based Practices in two Juvenile Detention Centers in Los Angeles County.” Wow. While in LA, she was the Executive Director of a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys who had substance abuse and legal challenges. She is able to see the world from the both kids’ point of view and the academic and professional view.

Often, individuals who are highly educated and skilled in Psychology are not very spiritual. Michelle, however, sees herself as a broken person in a fallen world who needs to constantly abide in her Savior for wisdom, courage and direction in life. As a Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, she teaches Master’s level classes in the Biblical Counseling Department.

In Michelle we see a highly educated woman who chooses to serve those in serious trouble with the wisdom and grace only found in Christ. It seems to me that she has chosen to develop her most important character traits at a high level while maintaining a practical effectiveness with those who are without resources and who want to transition to a better life.

This is some of the good news about a good person. Are you looking for help? If you would like her to help you, your kids, or your whole family, call her at 310-923-6824. I’m very impressed by the character and competence of this woman.

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Focusing on Jesus, the Reason for the Season

November 30, 2014

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It’s easy to get distracted from the reason for this season of the year.  So about 30 years ago we installed our first nativity set to remind us to keep our focus.  We add a little bit each year.  This is how our day-after-Thanksgiving project turned out for 2014. The figures are mostly 12-inch Fontanini.

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The figures help me to remember that in those days 2000 years ago, people of faith were hoping for the coming of the Messiah.  The announcement of His incarnation came as “good news of great joy.”  This continues to be a season of hope for the future because God has come to us.

They help me remember that the message is simple, but profound.  God, Immanuel, came to us.  He came to us so that I could come to Him in my everyday life and respond to his initiative of love.

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They remind me that wise men still seek Him. I would like to be wise, so I want to remember Him, seek His face and worship Him.

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He changed history. I want Him to continue to direct my story.

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Baby Boomer Divorce on the Rise

May 3, 2012

angry-boomer-coupleResearchers found the divorce rate among those 50 and older nearly doubled from 1990 to 2009.

The  video report of NBC’s John Yang states the statistics but spins the trend in a shallow way.   Okay, increased freedom and independence may be part of divorce adjustment.   Starting to do things you’ve always wanted to do sounds like a positive adjustment.  But it doesn’t sound to me like people are learning much by simply “getting used to going solo at middle age.”  I have some questions.

How can a couple learn to do more of what they want to do by helping each other?

Doesn’t learning how to build a relationship of intimacy sound more like growing into adulthood?

Where does personal growth fit into the picture?  I don’t believe “it is what it is” any more than “I am what I am.”  too static for me.  Seems to me that a healthy marriage is one that stimulates personal growth for each person!

If  “knowing God” is our ultimate goal in life (and I think it should be), then shouldn’t we devote ourselves to any and every means of complying with His design?

Do you have some questions?  Let’s hear them.

 

 


Helping Kids Out of Sex Trafficking

November 19, 2011

Truly righteous people respond to the needs of the vulnerable members of our society to meet their needs and to restore them to a place of dignity and effective coping.  They often do so with remarkable compassion and great sacrifice to themselves.  We have two such people in our community.  Two professors from Dallas Baptist University, Doctor Shannon Wolf and Doctor Dana Wicker, presented their work to our local CAPS (Dallas/Fort Worth) chapter.  They specialize in helping young girls (ages 10-19) find deliverance from their entrapment in sex trafficking.

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As many as 300,000 young girls are forced into sexual slavery in the US every year.

One out of every three children who are homeless are sold into sexual slavery within 48 hours.

More hotline calls come from Texas than any other state in the country!

Praise God for Doctors Wolf and Wickern who explained the effects of trauma on young girls, how to assess their wounds, how to set treatment objectives and how to make appropriate clinical interventions.

I also met Alisa Jordheim, the Safe-house Development Director of “Traffic 911,” a two-year-old organization in Fort Worth to help fight human trafficking.  The human trafficking hotline number to report abuse is 1-888-373-7888.

“. . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

We have seen an example of what this looks like in this community.  Thanks Dr. Wolf (shannonw@dbu.edu) and Dr. Wicker (dana@dbu.edu).  If you’d like to receive a file copy of the handouts for this workshop, drop an e-mail request to either of them.

Click here for Animoto video of the meeting.


Forgiveness — Essential to Nation Building

August 16, 2011

Can an established nation like America learn some things from a brand new nation like the Republic of South Sudan?  Can rich and comfortable people learn some things from poor people whose lives are characterized by suffering?  Can Christians who have been well-versed in the Bible learn some things from Christians who have very little awareness of the Bible?  To all of these, I say a hearty YES!  Here’s how.

Give some thought to the sacrifices involved in creating a free country.  Give further thought to the responsibilities involved in maintaining a country free.  Take a look at some pictures of South Sudan taken by the Boston Globe’s photographic blog.  They began their photo-blog with this quote:

“The world has a new nation. The Republic of South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan on July 9, ending a 50-year struggle marked by decades of civil war.”

I couldn’t help but notice the euphoria and joy that trumped their superficial poverty.  They have so little, but they have so much in their hearts.   They have a new country, but very little infrastructure.  What priorities do you give to building a strong, durable country?  This is what a new friend of mine has been doing.

I am honored to be able to call Dr. Celestin Musekura my friend and I invite you to follow his work.  He is the founder and president of A.L.A.R.M. (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries).

He started this organization in 1994 in response to a crisis of Christian leadership in Africa following the genocide in Rwanda.  He was born and raised in Rwanda and his family was touched by the genocide in that country.  So his book, “Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven” serves as a model as well as a guide.

What’s the greatest need in Africa today?   Dr. Musekura says that poor leadership is their greatest affliction. Many countries in Africa struggle under the rule of greedy and self-serving leaders, who see their positions as opportunities to amass wealth and consolidate power at any and all costs; stirring up tribal animosity, instilling fear in the masses through murder, displacement and rape; and rendering democratic processes ineffective through injustice and corruption.   I think we can learn a lot from watching how these African people free themselves from tribal factions to enjoy a higher level of unity.  Nothing can empower this kind of unity more than our unity in Christ.  When I look at the fragmented church in America, I see the need to learn from our African brothers and sisters.   Here a just a few quotes from his book that address the role of Christian forgiveness in achieving this freedom.

“We cannot simply forget.  But when our memories have become a burden, the practice of forgiveness does invite us to learn how to remember our pasts differently.” (p. 92)

“I’ll never forget sitting across from Celestin and hearing him say that his mother was being cared for by the people who killed his father.” (p.97)

“Our unity will triumph over our diversity and become the hallmark of our authenticity.” (p. 104)

ALARM is committed to equipping men and women in east and central Africa to answer the urgent call for servant leadership in the church and in hurting communities. Through a biblically sound, culturally relevant and needs-based leadership program, ALARM trains pastors, church lay leaders, women, youth, civil society leaders, local government officials, military chaplains and tribal elders in the biblical principles of servant leadership, good governance, mentorship, appreciating diversity and community initiatives. Using a ‘train the trainer’ teaching approach, ALARM is developing leaders at the heart of African communities who are equipped and empowered to effect change where it is most desperately needed. In this way, ALARM is providing essential skills and tools necessary to help move Africa from bad leadership to servant leadership; from dependency to self-sufficiency; from fatalism to aspiration; from abject poverty to abundance and economic prosperity.

To learn more about ALARM and to make a tax-deductible contribution, click on the logo above.