Antithetical Complementarity

November 7, 2014


Art does not often move me. I’m auditory; art is visual. But my son moves me and he is an artist. He recently commissioned a work by a Venezuelan artist, Rafael Araujo, and hung it in his office. My initial response at our family viewing/party was “l like it because I love him.” Then I kept looking. The more I looked, the more I saw. The more I saw, the more I was moved. Here’s what it stirred in me.

In the language of the artist, “Araujo creates an imagined mathematical framework of three dimensional space where butterflies take flight and the logarithmic spirals of shells swirl into existence.” What I saw was the stiffness and rigidity of the construction lines providing a realm within which the butterflies could flow along their patterned courses with fluidity. Rigidity and fluidity come together. Mechanical drawing all by itself is just that, pretty mechanical. A view of butterflies flying around by themselves is rather chaotic and, to me, pretty fluffy. Each has its own brand of “pretty” (or at least interesting) but when they merge in a complementary manner, mutually offering and receiving qualities to the other, they express a completeness that is fundamental to life. This concept resonates with my world of counseling.

I counsel couples. Often, one of them is very functional while the other is very aesthetic. So he leaves his “stuff” where things can easily be reached – in piles, in stacks, where he last used them. She objects to the visual clutter, the unsightly “mess” within which she cannot relax without putting it in order. The resolution of the conflict lays not in one side winning over the other, but in creatively finding ways for his functionality and her aesthetics to serve one another. Yes, to enhance and enrich the other so that the resulting unit thrives at a harmonious higher level.

Then, there’s the playful, spontaneous partner, tugging against the responsible, planned partner. One seems to be antithetically opposed to the other. Perhaps, with a little creativity, this couple can experience “planned spontaneity” or even “playful responsibility”. The goal is complementary enrichment.

Ultimately, beyond the possible myriad human experiences, I see a picture of the character of God himself! Is He a God of wrath or a God of love? Yes, perfectly! Is He just (executing justice) or merciful (granting grace)? Yes, perfectly.   God’s punishment of his people in the Old Testament was always accompanied with a compassionate plea to return to him so he could bless them. In his wrath, he never rejects his chosen people. He loves them. His holiness and justice require him to administer sanctions as consequences; his mercy and love require him to provide a way back to his caring arms and his blessings. So Paul can say

“ . . . that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”   (Romans 3:26)

and the psalmist can (without fully realizing it) anticipate how God’s complementary nature showed forth on the cross, where Christ took on the wrath of the Father and provided loving access to his eternal security.

Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.   (Psalm 85:10)

My friend, Dr. Larry Waters, recently presented a talk at the Dallas Theological Seminary chapel in which he described the personal traits of that great man of God, Martin Luther. Listen to how he was described: “Rough and tender; poet and boxer; boisterous and devout; deadly serious and a possessor of keen wit; exquisitely sensitive and volcanic invective; and bold before men while humble before God.” I think that as we surrender our lives to God, we take on more and more of His characteristics even the blending of those characteristics that don’t seem to fit with each other.

Would that this goal of conciliatory complementarity would infect our political system. In the wake (wave) of last week’s election returns, I’m reminded of why I’m frustrated with politics. If God is present at all, the Republicans believe that their emphasis on balance budget, family values and small government is aligned with God’s priorities. But the Democrats believe that social need provided by the government is the priority that is closest to God’s character. Why can’t the answer be “Yes.” Then our work could be characterized by creating an enriched harmony of antithetical complementarity.

IMG_0040Back to butterflies. My son’s painting moved me because it pictures a timeless universal reflection of how the world ought to work. There is no winning in the war against one good thing versus another. There are no “trump cards” in the deck of antithetical complementarity. Real victory comes from rigid structure and free mobility integrating harmoniously in an organized fluidity.


DTS Farewell

September 9, 2014


2014_08_27 Farewell Party

August 29, 2014 marked the end of an era for me.  So many colleagues came together for a farewell party ending nine years of service at Dallas Theological Seminary.  I was deeply touched and encouraged by the kind words expressed by everyone, but particularly my boss, Dr. Bob Garippa (center with jacket next to Sonia), my friend Dr. Terry Woodson (front row 2nd from left) and my former Intern, Robert Duckworth (in a suit, 2nd from left).   Even though leaving is a bitter-sweet experience, I am very proud of my association with DTS, first as a student from 1971-1976 to receive my ThM and now as Director of Counseling Services.  As such, I got to know a lot of students personally, probably more personally than most people get the opportunity to experience.  I will always remember taking advantage of brief times with with faculty members when I would always be armed with a pad and pen to take notes as they would answer my latest question.  What a land of giants!

Now, it’s a shift of focus.  I’ll be rebuilding my private practice (counseling at Park Cities Presbyterian Church on Oak Lawn, Dallas) and getting more involved with counseling with missionaries at home and traveling overseas. I would appreciate your referrals, particularly for marriages needing rebuilding and for individual personal issues.  I have lots of room right now!  The member care work will be with PCPC as well as East-West Ministries.  Exciting years ahead!


Musical Contribution to the Community

June 4, 2012

A magnificent organ like this required an incredibly gifted musician to play it.  The two came together last night when Colin Howland played at recital at our church (Park Cities Presbyterian Church).  His talent provided world-class entertainment; his commentaries gave us an education; his selections led us in worship of the Lord.

Colin graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and continued study at Baylor University.  He not only serves as Director of Music and Organist of PCPC, but also has traveled throughout the United States giving organ recitals for over 20 years.

His commentary on the 1812 Overture (written in 1880) brought some ironic humor to Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.  He explained that the two national anthem themes (French and Russian) had not yet been written in 1812.  Ironically, this piece has become a favorite fare in our Fourth of July celebration of the independence of the United States on the opposite side of the geo-political spectrum from those two countries.

Selecting three pieces that depicted the Passion of Christ focused our hearts on our Savior’s death, burial and resurrection:

The footsteps of Christ carrying the cross could be discerned.  Finally, the victory of the resurrection lifted everyone’s hearts.

The opening selection, Toccata, Adagio and Fugue by Bach, introduced a theme that carried through the program and lingered on to the next day.  Bach, himself, said it best: “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”  So, when all was said and done, that theme that Bach signed at the end of most of his scores lingers: SDG (Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone be glory”).



Thanks, Colin, a good man who is doing a good thing in our community.

Transform a Community

May 30, 2012
What do you do with a community so toxic with crime, drugs and poverty that the public buses wouldn’t go into it after 10:00 PM and the police would go in only with backup? A remarkable organization, “Behind Every Door”, brings hope to the community and dignity to the people.   Every door has behind it a valuable story.   Now, groups of young boys, ages 8-13, gather on Friday mornings for their “Real Men” goup meetings to learn what it is to be a real man.   Tutoring improves school performance.   Job training helps get work.  Even planting flowers helps the place look better.  The residents say, “Life is looking up.”  This is social justice in action.
In April, WFAA-TV (ABC)  did a short story on the Village Oaks community.  Click to watch.
Check out their web site too.   Great pictures.
And great stories on their blog.
It’s only 864 homes with 2000 residents, but imagine what could happen as other communities experience the blessing of caring relationships.  It’s amazing what can happen with good people set out to do good things in the community.  Consider supporting them with finances.  I think they’re worth it.

Don’t Forget to Remember Me

March 17, 2012

Emmanuel in Formal Attire

Emmanuel in My Office










This week I met a very interesting man.  He has a gift for poetry.  He thinks creatively.  He envisions wonderful plans.  He comes to the United States from Nigeria so he can study theology and Bible at Dallas Seminary.  Perhaps his most impressive impact, beyond his talent and his winsome personality, is his devotion to the Lord and his desire to spread the joys of the Gospel to young people throughout his home country of Nigeria.  He founded an organization called “GoldSpringsGold” through which he hopes to encourage others to embrace  the riches of knowing Jesus and spring forth with scattering those blessings all around.  Keep watching Emmanuel because he should be contributing to the future prosperity and dignity of Africa in the coming years.  I share one of his poems with you.

DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER ME.                               By – Emmanuel Olorunnisola

I AM the Creator of everything.
I know the beginning before it even began.
I see the end right from when it all began.
I have everything under my control.
I give you the will and power to choose.
Don’t forget to remember me.

I love you with all of my heart.
I AM with you even when I seem far away.
I hold the world in my hands.
And I hold you in my hands too.
In all you think and all you do,
Don’t forget to remember me.

There will be times when things will go smooth.
And all you get will make you soothe.
All you lay your hands on will bring you wealth.
And you will always be in good health.
When everything is working out well for you,
Don’t forget to remember me.

The sun rises to wake up the morning.
The sun shines to make it a day.
The moon comes up to bring down the evening,
The stars shine to make it a night.
Whether it be daytime or nighttime,
Don’t forget to remember me.

Even when it seems you are all alone:
And there’s no one to hear your voice.
Even when no one stands by you.
Even when no one believes in you.
And everybody turns his back on you,
Don’t forget to remember me.

Whether it be sunrise or sunset.
Whether it be seed time or harvest time.
Whether it be good times or bad times.
Whether it be day time or night time.
Whether it be time of birth or be it time of death.
Don’t forget to remember me.

There will be times when you will have plenty:
And your cup will surely overflow.
There will be times when you will be empty:
And there is nothing left to grow.
There will always be such times as these.
Don’t forget to remember me.

In the season when the lake is frozen.
In the season when the flowers blossom.
In the season when the storm rages
In the season when the harvest comes plenty.
In any season that comes and goes by.
Don’t forget to remember me.

When you can’t understand what is going on.
When there are more questions than the answers you get.
When you can’t find a way out of all your troubles.
When all you ask is ‘why?’ and wonder ‘why?’
When things get out of your control, and you want to give up.
Don’t forget to remember me.

I was stripped naked to give you covering.
I was crowned with thorns to make you rule your world.
I bore the cross to make you cross over.
I shod my blood to give you life.
I gave up life to make you live.
Don’t forget to remember me.

In all you do and not want to do.
In all you think and not want to think
In all you say and all you hear
In all your laurels and in all your loss
Whether in all or in nothing at all
Don’t forget to remember me.

Healing through Horseplay!

November 24, 2011

Barbara Currence, MEd, LPC

Barbara Currence is a good person doing a good thing.   She uses horses to help people (ages 6 through adult) work through their personal problems.  What kind of problems can her approach help?





  • learn creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • develop responsibility
  • learn how to develop and maintain relationships
  • develop effective communication skills
  • discover how to deal with grief, loss and anxiety
  • learn lifeskills such as trust, leadership, and teamwork
  • develop boundaries, and discover what changes are needed
    to create healthy families and relationships

Why horses?  Here’s what she says:

Because horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Accomplishing a task involving horses creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they are stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for learning about our own world.

Check out her web site for lots of neat pictures and details like fees, location, contact information, etc.

How does it work?

Be sure to watch the video so you can get a feel for how it works.  Click here

This is an authentic approach that you can trust.   Helping through Horsing Around has received its certification through EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) which is an international organization that is very professional and ethical and requires both the licensed therapist and the equine professional to receive additional hours to remain certified in EAP (equine-assisted psychotherapy).  EAGALA’s website is linked off of our’s, and is

One kid put it best,

“At school when I am doing my work, I used to get so frustrated and give up. Now I just think about how frustrated I was getting the horse to do an activity, and that I didn’t give up and it worked. I remember that at school and it helps me to know I can do my schoolwork too.”

Other approaches not working for you?  Try horsing around.  They’re good people doing a good thing.

Immigration: Better Questions, Better Perspective

July 8, 2011

            I like to see people weigh in on opposite sides of a controversial issue in a way that clarifies the conflict.  That’s the way we learn.  NPR gave an example of that yesterday when they interviewed a now-famous illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas, and followed it with an equally articulate opposite view from Mark Krikorian.  As I listened to each person, I could nod agreement with their points . . . each of them.  Vargas was persuasive in his plea for talented and productive people like himself to be granted permission to stay.  Krikorian was persuasive in his argument that Vargas should return to the Philippines.  Problem was that I could not agree with both people who were so opposite in their views.  So a situation like this calls for higher level questions to be raised.  That’s what I propose to do here.

For example, before you can resolve the debate, you have to come to terms with:

What is the role of the law in our land?
If the law should be enforced more strictly, how do you go about doing that?
If the law should be revised, on what basis and to what end?
How do you define an American?
What attitudes and guidelines should govern immigration today?  Their needs?  Our country’s needs?
What are the implications of granting amnesty to everyone?
What are the implications of exporting everyone who is here without documentation?
What are the implications of ignoring the whole situation or allowing it to remain in deadlock?

Now, my favorite question: Does a Christian worldview add anything to the argument?

Two recent books address immigration from a Christian world view:

       Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible, by Daniel Carroll.
(Click on the image to link to


Let Them In! The Case for Open Borders, by Jason Riley





Steve Greenberg’s cartoon illustrates what happens when the debate gets politicized.

(Click on image to link to Steve’s blog)

Dr. Mike Pocock, professor of missions at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a helpful article last year in Kindred Spirit.  He proposed three important guidelines for our biblical thinking and then closed with this thought:

Whether it is hospitality to strangers (Rom. 12:13), or entertaining those who cannot repay us (Luke 14:12–14), doing good to all persons (Gal. 6:10), or considering all people equally no matter their culture or ethnicity (Col. 3:10–11), the Bible speaks to our attitude toward those of other races and cultures. We should be very careful to avoid either conventional or racist thinking. Rather we should love our neighbors as ourselves, not intellectualizing nor spiritualizing, but in concrete expression to whomever is in our community on whatever basis.

What additional questions would you ask to raise our level of thinking and clarify our perspective?