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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?

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


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.


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



“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.


Why Vocational Ministry is So Difficult Early On and God’s Hand In It

church-581069_640Some of the most invigorating times of my life have all been connected to preparation for vocational ministry. And some of the most difficult have been ministry. Perhaps you can relate? God leads some of us into a full-time, vocational ministry and for the first few years that call can be very challenging to pursue. Vocational ministry is a challenge, especially to start, because best-case scenario (i.e., school) meets the real-world of ministry. Yet, among the difficulties we have a merciful God who is working His plans. Let’s sketch why the first few years are difficult for some of us and then reorient what God may be doing in those difficulties.


Desires—Cultivating Superior Desires Through Self-Denial

file6211233874613One of my counselees recently asked me an excellent question: “What do we do when our ‘want to’ is broken?” He was asking this in reference to honoring God but it is a question that is embedded in every one of us. What do we do when we don’t want to do? I appreciate his candor in expressing what most of us have felt. To say it another way, “I don’t want to change the diaper. I don’t want to help them move. I don’t want to be kind when they are snippety.” So what do we do when we don’t want to do what honors God? (more…)