Friday, December 06, 2019

Join Me at THE IDENTITY CONFERENCE - June 21-25, 2020


REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  Go HERE.

This is going to be an important five days...

Why not join me for this one?



SPEAKERS ARE...

The Identity Conference
ROBBY DAWKINS
James_Goll_Blue_Suit_White_BG.jpg
JAMES GOLL

Information HERE

Overcoming Fear

(Lake Erie - Monroe)


Do I ever feel afraid? Yes.

One thing I do to combat fear is to meditate on biblical truths. The more I meditate on them (saying them over and over...), the more they descend from my mind into my heart.

Print these verses out. Take them in. Memorize some of them.

As the apostle Paul said, "Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is beautiful, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)

God has not given us a spirit of fear...

God's love "casts out fear."

33 Verses to Remind Us - We Do Not Have to Fear:

1.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
3.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
4.  “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
5.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
6.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
7.  “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
8.  “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
9.  “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25
10. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
11. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
12. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
13. “Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
14. “Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4
15. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:22-26
16. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
17. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
18. “Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'” Mark 6:50







19. “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
20. “'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14
21. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
22. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7
23. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
24. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:39-40
25. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7
26. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” 1 Peter 3:14
27. “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
28. “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
29. “Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.'” Revelation 1:17
30. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” Mark 5:36
31. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38-39
32. “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17



33. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” from Psalm 91:1-16

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Shame & Guilt - Some Notes & Resources

(Trees at Redeemer)

What Is the Difference Between Guilt and Shame? How can we experience freedom from shame? Here are the notes and resources I presented in a seminar about this.

1. Shame Is Different than Guilt.



2. Shame and Guilt are emotions.


Shame expresses itself in thoughts like I am not enough; There is something wrong with me; or I don't matter.


Shame "is born out of a sense of “there being something wrong” with me or of “not being enough,” and therefore exudes the aroma of being unable or powerless to change one’s condition or circumstances." (Thompson, Kindle Locations 277-279)

Shame often has to do with a "lessening" of our worth and capacity. This lessening is deeper than a conclusion one logically arrives at. It is an emotion, a feeling, that one cannot be reasoned out of. Thompson says shame's essence precedes language; it seems to be woven into a person's DNA.

Shame says I am wrong. Guilt says something I have done is wrong. Shame refers to our being and worth; guilt is about morality. Shame is debilitating. Guilt is a rescue. A healthy, integrated person has a moral conscience that responds to right and wrong. 

The emotion of guilt, when given by God, is a good thing. We want, e.g., a person to feel guilty (show remorse) if they have hurt someone. "Guilt," writes Paul Tournier, can become "a friend because it leads to the experience of God's grace." (See Tournier, Guilt and Grace: A Psychological Study.)

3. Consequences of Shame

Psychiatrist Curt Thompson writes:

Shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to (1) corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and (2) disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity.

These gifts include any area of endeavor that promotes goodness, beauty and joy in and for the lives of others, whether that be teaching our first graders, loving our spouse well, managing forests, conducting healing prayer services, creating a new medical technology, offering psychotherapy or composing symphonies. Shame is a primary means to prevent us from using the gifts we have been given.


4. Three Sources of Crippling Shame

5. One of the Hallmarks of shame is Judgment

Judgment refers to "the spirit of condemnation or condescension with which we analyze or critique something, whether ourselves or someone or something else. I may say to myself, I should have done better at that assignment. What is crucial is the emotional tone that undergirds those words." (Curt Thompson, Kindle Locations 335-337)

6. Shamed People Shame People

The act of being judgmental towards other people is rooted in self-judgment. Thompson writes:


"As I often tell patients, “Shamed people shame people.” Long before we are criticizing others, the source of that criticism has been planted, fertilized and grown in our own lives, directed at ourselves, and often in ways we are mostly unaware of.

Suffice to say that our self-judgment, that tendency to tell ourselves that we are not enough—not thin enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not . . . enough—is the nidus [origin] out of which grows our judgment of others, not least being our judgment of God. The problem is that we have constructed a sophisticated lattice of blindness around this behavior, which disallows our awareness of it." (Kindle Locations 348-352)

7. Shamed People Don't Experience Grace

Grace, as C.S. Lewis understood it, is the Christian distinctive. By it, shame is overcome.



FREEDOM FROM SHAME


1 – TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

2 Cor. 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
As a follower of Jesus, your status is "in Christ."

You are a God-created, soulish, embodied, "in Christ" person. This means there are some things you are not.

You are not what you doTo define yourself by what you do is to live on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster that is a function of your accomplishments. Your identity does not depend on what you have accomplished. Your productivity does not define you. 
Your worth is not the same as your usefulness. (From Henri Nouwen)

You are not what you have. Do not define yourself by your stuff. Because when you lose any of it you will slip into the indentityless darkness.


You are not what other people think of you. If people think well of you, say thank you. If people think ill of you, pray for them. But do not go up and down and in and out on the basis of others' affirmation and disaffirmation. Refuse to let other people define you.


YOU ARE WHAT GOD THINKS OF YOU. Period. Case closed. Colossians 1:27 says: 
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 
When you understand this in your heart three things happen.
1.          You are set free from the punishing of the hierarchical honor-shame systems of your surrounding culture.

2.          You are free from the striving that happens on the ladder of the honor-shame hierarchy.

3.          You are free to love others.

2 – EXPERIENCE GOD’S GRACE

Grace, as C.S. Lewis understood it, is the Christian distinctive. By it, shame is overcome.

3 – SPEND MUCH TIME WITH GOD

4 – BE PART OF A GRACE-FILLED SMALL GROUP

5 – ASSEMBLE TOGETHER ON SUNDAY MORNINGS


SOME RESOURCES

For more on freedom from shame see Lewis Smedes's excellent Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve. This is one of the best books I have ever read!

The best book on "grace" is Philip Yancey's 
What's So Amazing About Grace? 


Jesus' Birth Was an Act of War


(I re-post this every December.)

C.S. Lewis referred to it as "The Great Invasion." In chapter 7 of Mere Christianity Lewis writes:

"One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe--a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin...  Christianity agrees... that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory--that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery. I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'"

The most a-cultural telling of Christmas is found in Revelation 12:1-7. We read:

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

And there was war in heaven."

Robert Mounce says that: 

1) the "woman" here is not Mary, but the messianic community, the "ideal Israel"; 
2) out of the messianic community is born a "child," a Messiah; 
3) the seven-headed red dragon is Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); 
4) Satan is looking to devour this child; AKA Jesus the Christ.

Mary has already been prophetically warned about such things. In Luke 2 we read that...

...the old man "Simeon took him [baby Jesus] in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Violent night
Holy night
All's not calm
All's not bright

Christmas Eve - that violent night when the Light of the World descended into darkness...

***
My books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I am now writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Then, Linda and I will co-author our book on Relationships.

I continue gathering material for Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Be Still and Gain The Long View

(Philadelphia)

Linda and I both have "be still" times with God during the week. Inner stillness is a receptive, uncluttered heart-condition, where we meet with God and "know God." 

The Lord says, 

“Be still, and know that I am God;


    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”


The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

- Psalm 46:10-11

Heart-knowledge gained in stillness before God is an experiential reality, even in the midst of outer chaos and forces that work to destroy us. 


Therefore we will not fear, 
though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
- Psalm 46:2



In stillness we gain experiential knowledge of God-with-us, no matter the circumstances. Our hearts and minds are escorted into The Bigger Picture. 

I like how Philip Yancey writes about this. 

"In testimony given before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in South Africa, one black man told of crying out to God as the white officers attached electrodes to his body after beating him with truncheons. They laughed in his face: “We are God here,” jeered one of the guards. The Commission hearings bared the delusion of that brash claim, for the guards, stripped of all power, now sat in a defendants’ box with heads bowed as their accusers paraded before them. They had been dethroned.... 


...For the South African prisoner, or a pastor harassed in China, or believers persecuted in North Korea, it requires a great leap to attain that sublime faith, to believe that God is indeed exalted among the nations. I think of Paul singing in a Philippian jail and of Jesus correcting Pilate with the plain truth, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Even at that moment of crisis, Jesus had the long view, the view from a time antedating the solar system."

Yancey, Philip. Prayer, Kindle Locations 416-425.

When we pray God shows us The Long View, The Big Picture. We see earth, through heaven. 


***
My books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I am now writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Then, Linda and I will co-author our book on Relationships.

I continue gathering material for Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

David Chalmers's Zombie Argument Against Physicalism



One of my academic interests is "the hard problem of consciousness." The urge to understand this poked me again as I read "I Me Mind: The Unending Quest to Explain Consciousness," a book review by Michael Robbins. Robbins appears to have read much of the relevant literature. He concludes, probably rightly, that no one has a clue how to solve this problem.

One of the major discussants is neuro-philosopher David Chalmers. Chalmers is a "property dualist," which reasons that consciousness is an emergent property of the physical brain. The upshot of this, for Chalmers, is that physicalism is false, because a non-physical property, viz. consciousness, exists. (Chalmers is not a "substance dualist," like philosopher J. P. Moreland is. See here.)

I used to present David Chalmers's "zombie argument" against physicalism in my logic classes. I thought the word "zombie" would interest my students. It's a hard argument to understand. And hard to teach. Here it is. 



The “Zombie Argument” Against Physicalism


THE ARGUMENT:

1. If *physicalism is true, then it is logically impossible for p-zombies to exist. (I.e., physicalism entails the logical [or metaphysical] impossibility of zombies. See here Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Zombies," part 2 - "Zombies and Physicalism.")

2. It is logically possible for p-zombies to exist.

3. Therefore, physicalism is false.

*Physicalism - physical facts determine all other facts. This means that, on physicalism, there are no non-physical facts.

*P-zombie - i.e., "philosophical zombie" - a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experiencequaliasentience, or sapience.

If physicalism is true, then there cannot be a world that is a physical duplicate of ours (that is, where everything is physically like in our world), which is not a duplicate
simpliciter of our world (that is, which does not contain anything more or less
than what our world contains). 

But zombies are conceivable: creatures that are physically exactly like us, but which creatures lack conscious experiences.


Therefore, physicalism is false. 

If it is logically possible for zombies to exist, then consciousness cannot be explained reductively, and non-physical reality exists.

Or... try this.


  1. If physicalism is true than physical facts determine all facts.
  2. If physicalism is true than anything that is physically identical to me will be in all ways identical to me.
  3. I can conceive of a zombie; viz., a being that is physically identical to me.
  4. But a zombie is not in all ways identical to me – it lacks first-person subjective consciousness.
  5. Therefore physicalism must be false.



1. A philosophical zombie or p-zombie is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experience, qualia, sentience, or sapience. When a zombie is poked with a sharp object, for example, it does not feel any pain. It behaves exactly as if it does feel pain (it may say "ouch" and recoil from the stimulus), but it does not actually have the experience of pain as a person normally does. (See “Philosophical Zombie,” in wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie)


2. According to physicalism, physical facts determine all other facts. This means, on physicalism, that there are no non-physical facts. Therefore, since all the facts about a p-zombie are fixed by the physical facts, and these facts are the same for the p-zombie and for the normal conscious human from which it cannot be physically distinguished, physicalism must hold that p-zombies are not possible. Therefore, zombie arguments support lines of reasoning that aim to show that zombies are possible. Another way to put this, from SEP: "If a zombie world is possible, consciousness does not in that sense logically supervene on the physical facts, and physicalism is false. If that view is correct, therefore, to prove that a zombie world is possible would be to disprove physicalism."

3. NOTE: The zombie argument against physicalism is, therefore, a version of a general modal argument against physicalism, such as that of Saul Kripke's in "Naming and Necessity" (1972).The notion of a p-zombie, as used to argue against physicalism, was notably advanced in the 1970s by Thomas Nagel (1970; 1974) and Robert Kirk (1974).


4. See the “zombie argument against physicalism” developed in detail by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996). According to Chalmers, one can coherently conceive of an entire zombie world: a world physically indiscernible from our world, but entirely lacking conscious experience. In such a world, the counterpart of every being that is conscious in our world would be a p-zombie.


The claim of Chalmers and others is a strictly logical claim. Which means: Since such a world is logically conceivable, Chalmers claims, it is possible; and if such a world is possible, then physicalism is false. (Note: “square circle,” or “married bachelor,” are examples of concepts that are logically inconceivable.)Chalmers is arguing only for logical possibility, and he maintains that this is all that his argument requires. He states: "Zombies are probably not naturally possible: they probably cannot exist in our world, with its laws of nature."It’s easy to imagine a “zombie.” A “zombie” is a creature physically identical to a human, functioning in all the right ways, having conversations, playing chess, but simply lacking all conscious experience.


So if a person can be physically identical to us yet without consciousness, then it would seem that consciousness is not a physical thing.“There is an explanatory gap here that is really something of an abyss,” says Chalmers.

How God Changes Us


I'm now writing How God Changes the Human Heart.

And, I'm teaching this material at Redeemer. (If you're interested in catching a session come this Thursday evening, 6:30 PM, Redeemer Fellowship Church. I'll teach on How God Restores Our Souls.)

Here is one way to look at how God changes us.


Monday, December 02, 2019

FORGIVENESS - Resources

(Leading the Presence-Driven Church students, Faith Bible Seminary, NYC)

(I am re-posting this.)

Linda and I are always talking with people about forgiveness. For those we've talked with about this today (4/30), here are  links to things I have written about forgiveness.

We all need it, and need to learn it and practice it. 


Why Is Self-forgiveness Harder than Forgiving Others?


















***
For empirical research on the benfits and power of forgiveness, see Robert Enright's International Forgiveness Institute.