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The Puritans on Habits and Spiritual Maturity

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Introduction

In the history of the church and particularly counseling within the church, there has been a house, of sorts, that is developing. Faithful, competent men and women are slowly building the house of biblical counseling on a solid foundation.[1] One of these men—Jay Adams—spoke into the some of the load-bearing walls within this house. Jay Adams said one load-bearing wall is that,

Few, if any, recent theologians have discussed the relationship of habit to behavior. Their efforts have been expended on important questions having to do with Adam’s sin, the effects of sin upon the nature of his descendants, and the process by which sin has been transmitted to his posterity. These are all vital questions, as I have noted in the earlier chapter. But so is the matter of habit—especially for counseling.[2]

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Harnessing Technology and Social Media for the Glory of God (Transcript)

“If these qualities are in you, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful.”

—2 Peter 1:8
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Tide of Technology

 I grew up on the opposite side of the United States in Savannah, GA. One of our favorite summer activities was going to the beach, as I am sure many of you would agree with. When you go to the beach you stake out your piece of sand, set up your stuff, pop out the umbrella and then start to hang out. What I quickly learned growing up is that when swim in the ocean you have to keep track of how far out you are going. It is easy to lose track of how far out you have gone, or perhaps how far you have drifted from your spot in the sand. One of the things that most of us do when we are out in the water at the beach is that we keep turning around and checking where our stuff is. (As a Dad admittedly my spot is not as cool as it once was. Now I spend my time looking back for the stroller and kids toys.) What happens is that unbeknownst to us, the tide pulls us in certain ways: sometimes this is very dangerous, too. People can be pulled too far out and have great difficulty getting back to shore, thus putting them in a really difficult position.

Today, I have been asked to speak on technology and social media and I want to start by describing it much like this tide in the ocean. Technology serves much like the tide of the ocean. Often times we are swimming around in technology to the point that we don’t always realize where it is pulling us and how. In fact, some of you are the one’s facing the ocean and you are losing track of how far you have gone. Perhaps, to a great degree of danger. (more…)

A Believer or a Behaviorist?

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Every person possesses habits. An important question to ask in understanding habits is, “what is the role of those habits in the educational experience?” Educators understand repetition, discipline, structure, and environment but do educators understand the behavioral assumptions that drive those methodologies or the ideologies from which current methodology has been derived? Consequently, the aim of this paper is to address one, central research question: can repeated behavior prohibit or promote learning or knowledge acquisition from a behaviorist’s perspective? Ivan Pavlov, perhaps a father in the behaviorism camp, spent years testing and proving what he believed to be the answer to this question.[1] He argued that he could create a consistent stimulus and develop a habit in his subjects (primarily working with dogs) through external means, thus priming them for future responses.[2] He believed that external stimuli teach a person to respond in certain ways, and those responses are then solidified through repeated exposure. Not all behaviorists agree, though, with Knight Dunlap stating these habits of learning were seen as the very fabric of the human nature: “in their totality, make[ing] up the character of the individual.”[3] If Pavlov’s assertion is true, and Dunlap’s perspective is accurate, what role does habit formation plan in the ability of the student to learn? (more…)

Sanctification via Government

2150_americanIn middle of this super-charged political year I want you to see something. To help you see it, I want you
to answer this statement to yourself: “God’s will for Christian citizens of human governments is that they be _____.” How would you complete this sentence? What does God want you to be in our government, as a Christian?
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Being Squeezed by Life

3879_baloons_Often times in counseling, I use the idea of a balloon. Like a balloon we are squeezed by our circumstances in life: jobs, family, politics, houses, et cetera. These are things that James 1 would describe as a trial (v. 15). But there are also those pressures that come from inside, like the over-inflation of a balloon, they encourage us to ‘pop’. This is the idea of James 1:13 when James refers to those inner solicitations to sin—those enticements come from within. (more…)

Worshipping Efficiency and Its Effect on Relationships

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The air that we breath is an air that assumes the importance of efficiency. “Work smarter not harder” could be our mantra: we want the results of two hours in the gym in 10 minutes; we want our food order to be placed, to be fresh, and to be on our table in five minutes. Businessmen balk at ‘wasting time’ and a grocery store brouhaha will take place if there is a long line and one cashier! Kevin DeYoung noted, “We have more opportunity than ever before. The ability to cheaply go anywhere is a recent development. The ability to get information from anywhere is, too. … The result, then, is simple but true: because we can do so much, we do do so much”[1] Why? Because we love efficiency! Most would admit that everything in us chides with wasting time or the ultimate ‘no-no’ of inefficiency. If I were to tell you the long route to go somewhere when I knew a shorter route, you would probably Darth-Vader choke me in your mind! Now think of the way that affects our relationships.  (more…)

The Habit Reformation Project

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For the next 90 days (May 1 – Aug. 1), I am conducting research on a profoundly important topic—habits. I propose that habits both shape what we see and how we see, much like glasses.[1] A person’s pair of glasses not only shape what they can see, for instance, glasses can render a person functionally blind. Likewise a person’s glasses influences how they see, like leaning back to bring something in focus, or moving close to bring something into the focus of the glasses. These both illustrate the effects of habits on a person.[2] Habits have a way of forming what we love and also capacitating us towards greater love.[3] This means that what I (we) do, shapes what we love.

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Part 2: Gaze on God and Imitate What You See

4624_WorshipLouis Berkhof makes an interesting comment. He says, “None of the attributes of God are incommunicable in the sense that there is no trace of them found in man.”[1] There is a fine line between saying that we want to be God and we want to be like God: one is the biblical impetus for everything we do and the other was the inducement to the original sin. Yet, we want to be like God in every aspect; we want to be like Him in every capacity that we can because there is no better pattern for imitation.

Paul strikes a cord in Ephesians 5:1 that is implicit throughout the remainder of Scripture and it is this, we are to imitate God and godly people. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 and 11:1 we see that Paul uses similar—yet different—language. He there states to follow him as He follows Christ. There is a call to imitation. “Imitate me, while I imitate Christ.” Likewise, in Hebrews 6:12 and 13:2 we see an encouragement to imitate others who are imitating God. Imitation is right and normative and is the only genuine means a transformation. (more…)

Part 1: Gaze on God and Imitate What You See

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“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

—Ephesians 5:1

In 1961, Albert Bandura conducted a social experiment with seventy-two, 3-6 year-olds. The experiment is famously known as the, “Bobo Doll” experiment in which Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1977) was evaluated. The experiment took seventy-two children and placed them in a room for observation for twenty minutes each. (more…)

The Pastor and Counseling: A Review

UntitledCounseling as a pastor is part of the fabric of what you do. Everything from your response to, “What do you think I should do?” to the couple asking if they can “meet with you.” Counseling is part-and-parcel for pastoral ministry. And this is one of the highlights of fruitful pastoring for most pastors. Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju have fashioned a quick resource to help busy pastors be more effective in their counseling. The Pastor and Counseling is a great resource for new-to-counseling pastors who are looking to sharpen and hone their counseling skills.

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