Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In February of 2007 I posted on a subject that bears repeating I think. What do you think?


It was stated in an article I read a few years ago that the greatest "heresy' in the American form of Christianity may well be the "heresy of application." By this the author was conveying the idea that, for many, the "form" [application] became as sacred as the"function" [interpretation] of the text. The author suggested that this may be the case with many "Truths/Doctrines and their application to life. We begin to hold a "way of doing it" to be as sacred as what is "to be done." So we wind up, for example, arguing over the elements of the Lord's supper and who serves it.

Another rather simple, even shallow illustration of this is the function of prayer. To pray, by scriptural definition, is to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit. [This is the only way to pray without ceasing makes any sense. I'm aware that the word 'ceasing' means intermittently like a hacking cough.]

But the next person teaching on prayer suggests that to bow one's head and shut one's eyes will help because you shut out distractions. Good idea. Except the next teacher says that prayer IS bowing your head and closing your eyes in order to commune with God who is Spirit with your spirit.

Thus, the form my wife and I enjoy of raising our glasses of water/tea and toasting the lord while both of us are thanking him for the meal and each other with eyes on each other, is NOT real prayer. But by scriptural definitions it is. Application [form] is NOT sacred and binding. You see the problem.

Another illustration, perhaps just as shallow is the use of the Bible. God speaks through His Word. That's the function of scripture. When we read the text He speaks to us. Someone teaches this as..."God speaks through His Word [function] so when you meet Him early in the morning you are putting your focus on Him first." Nice, even a correct statement.

But the next person teaches that since God speaks through His Word and since it's wise to focus on Him first, you are really spiritual when you meet Him early. NB..NB becomes their teaching. "No Bible, no breakfast" if you want to really be spiritual in your walk is their teaching. So if I read my newspaper first or get ready, go to work, and have a time in the Word at lunch, by their definition I'm not spiritual.

Of course, were this really "Truth"then no one could have been really spiritual until the invention of the printing press and the mass distribution of the Bible. The "truth" is God does speak through the text of the scripture and ANYTIME you choose to read He will speak and you ARE spiritual by the Grace of God. Different personalities will choose different times to read the bible.

Prior to his home-going I heard Ron Dunn say many times that with his personality it was NEVER early in the morning. [Of course, he would then add that he was doing it another time to not be prideful since no one brags about a quiet time unless it's early. :)] Thus, the "heresy of application." The "form" [how you do it] becomes as sacred as the "function". [What the scripture says .] It must not be lost on us that much, if not most, of our debating is about the "applications" we make of the truths of scripture.

Brethren..it should not be so. Methods, forms, the way one does things is NOT sacred and must OFTEN change with culture and times to gain a hearing.

Paul B.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I'm what's commonly called a "Calvinist." One is called a "Calvinist" for believing in what are called the doctrines of Grace. Five doctrines of grace are usually associated with Calvinism and, normally, holding to these five results in one being identified with that label. But, when someone holds to only one of the doctrines like say Eternal Preservation [Security] or, as it is sometimes referred to, Eternal Perseverance, they are called a Calvinist also. The word "Cavinist" comes from the man John Calvin who became known for the formulating of the five doctrines which are also designated with the acronym TULIP. Stated this way...

T__Total depravity
U__Unconditional election
L__Limited Atonement
I__Irresistable Grace
P__Preservation of the Saints.

My point with this post, let me be clear here, is not to defend the five doctrines or even to explain them. I certainly will not defend Calvin himself because he left some things indefensible IMHO. I don't even particularly like being known by the designation "Calvinist." I don't like labels in general, even the Southern Baptist one.

But I'm smart enough to know that labels are only words which, if carefully defined, can convey an idea of what a person believes. But remember that no single label can adequately nor accurately reveal who a person is or what they believe really. Even the term "Christian" falls into that category in these times it seems to me.

All that said, I want to respond to a single accusation made against the idea of holding to one of those doctrines of Grace. It is the one that is refered to as "Limited atonement" which is also known as "particular redemption" as I prefer to call it. This is the belief that Jesus ACTUALLY died for some people and that those will ULTIMATELY come to know Him. This, instead of a second idea that He died for ALL people and potentially NONE, SOME, OR ALL, could come to know Him. [With some variations of this out there.]

But the thought/accusation I'm addressing is that, if one holds to the first, which I do, then there would/will be no need for evangelism in that person's opinion and, in fact, evangelism will suffer. Even die as an enterprise.

Bear in mind as you read this who is writing it. I'm one who believes different opinions can be discussed graciously, lovingly, nicely and even enjoyably. Within Southern Baptists there are people who hold differing views on the doctrines of Grace. [Especially particular redemption or limited atonement.] Within my friends there are differing views held. Within my family there are differing views often. Even within my marriage there are sometimes differing views on some things... but my view is the right one of course. ; ) So...it is possible to talk about issues with differing views without rancor and anger and that is what I hope we do here.

Remember.. the point I'm addressing is NOT which view of the purpose of the death of Christ is correct, but whether or not if holding to the limited atonement view kills true evangelism. In other words..does believing Jesus ACTUALLY died for some people who ULTIMATELY will come to know Him kill evangelism?

I say it does not. In fact, William Cary, the father of the Baptist mission movement personally held to limited atonement, and no one doubts his love and heart for evangelism.

My father-in-law was a five-point Calvinist [Which includes limited atonenment and you get my meaning now I'm sure.] and for the first several years of his Christian life led someone to faith in Christ EVERY DAY. I mean literally, every single day.

Finally, a day came when no one believed the gospel in his presence and he had to re-evaluate and come to the understanding that God's purpose was for him to share the gospel EVERY DAY and leave the results with God. He did just that for the REST OF THE YEARS of his life. I'll say it again, clearly. Every day of his Christian life until his death Fred Cherry shared the gospel with SOMEONE who was not a Christian.

C. H. Spurgeon was a Calvinist [Five pointer] and asked his people to stay home one Sunday a month in the later years of his ministry so non-christian people could come hear the gospel at the Tabernacle in London. They filled it those set aside Sundays.

Who knows how many have come to faith in Christ throught the evangelism of Calvinists? I could continue to name people who held to particular redemption like William Cary, Jonathan Edwards, John Murray and, my goodness, the list could go on for some time.

I have delighted in sharing the gospel and still do. I once would drive to a gas station to put in gas and talk to someone about Jesus Christ while putting in two dollars and go to another to finish filling up to get to share with someone else. While my methods have changed through the years the delight in sharing hasn't.

Though my preaching seldom if ever uses the label "Calvinism" which I dislike, or even uses the terms spoken about in the acronym TULIP, my preaching WILL cover the truth of Grace declared in scripture. My message winds up being a God-centered message which gives opportunity for people to respond and to take responsibility for repentence and brokenness over the message of the gospel which, I believe is evangelism.

Of course, if one defines evangelism in a narrow, free-will sense of getting someone to pray a little prayer because they're emotional and want to go to heaven, then Calvinism IS killing toward those kind of antics. I'm even opposed to powerless preaching or sharing from the pulpit that produces such.

But if by evangelism one means the preaching/sharing of the gospel and looking for the Holy Spirit to break, open, and move someone to receive the truth of the message of Christ and His Cross work because of their being humbled, then Calvinism will ALWAYS only enhance evangelism and fire the souls of people who know Christ to keep on evangelizing.

I fully believe people who teach free will in an inappropriate biblical fashion AND hyper-calvinists who are biblically inappropriate as well could BOTH kill evangelism since NEITHER is biblically correct and true to the gospel. But one who has the true knowledge of the true doctrines of Grace and an understanding of the work of the Spirit in setting a person free will ALWAYS acknowledge the METHOD of sharing the gospel is the MEANS by which God does His work of salvation. And that a true biblicist will know that our commission is to go to every creature [person] with the gospel leaving the results with God Himself.

I want to say in closing this post that I would never want to leave an impression that preaching the gospel is a pulpit thing ONLY. It is a personal and moment by moment thing for All believers who are ALL ministers of the gospel.

I wouldn't wish to even convey that it is a verbal thing ONLY. It is a life/relationship thing that results in words that give the message of Christ and His Cross work and can even BE someone preaching from a pulpit though never reserved FOR the pulpit only. [Who even needs a pulpit when we gather??

But, as we go sharing the gospel, our going is NOT because of a love for the ones to whom we go. We don't even know them often. Our love is a responding love to the One who loved us, redeemed us, and sent us out with His message to every creature. It is that "love of Christ" that" constrains" us as Paul the Apostle says, by which he meant it is an internal engine driving us forward to all people with the good news of Christ and His redemptive act.

And, if any respond, it is the work of God in them that brings it about. It is not our persuading them to do something that only they can do if they would just say yes. Evangelism is seeing people changed and moving in grace and power with the Lord of Lords. It's truly beyond us all but ours to do.

I can live with this.

Paul B.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


For the record...I'm opposed to Muslims [?] who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate Muslims. For that matter I'm also opposed to Atheists who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate Atheists. You can add to that the fact that I'm opposed to homosexuals who hate Christians AND Christians [?] who hate homosexuals. I'm even opposed to citizens who hate President Obama AND citizens who hate George Bush. You get the point I'm sure!!

Really the point to me is that too many people are known today as much for their hatred as they are a personally held belief system and it is the hatred that seems to be driving so many rather than any sane, sensible, good arguments for what they believe. So our society ends up being far more characterized by hatred rather than the differing beliefs held by its people.

Take as an example the proposed Mosque being built near the site of the 9-11 Terrorists tragedy. [Ground Zero no one need define.] I've read a few good and bad arguments for the construction of the Mosque. But I've read many arguments on both sides that are tainted with a degree of hatred that is, to me at least, unacceptable. I don't think I need to identify the hate filled ones. Why give them another opportunity to reveal their disgusting and non-useful negative emotion of hatred!!

I would rather give you an example of some fair and insightful arguments from BOTH sides. But I'm thinking you will find, as I did, that these are from totally unexpected sources. Both writers surprised me with their arguments but neither dishonored the whole event of 9-11 with venomous words or ideas or any vicious attitudes toward those who might disagree.

One is opposed to the Mosque being built. He is Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, the
left-leaning director of al-Arabiya TV and former editor of London's Arab daily,
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Abdul Raham al-Rashid said this...

"I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district. . . . The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to the site".

"The battle against the 11 September terrorists is a Muslim battle and this battle still is ablaze in more than 20 Muslim countries. Some Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast or which
will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam."

The other side is represented by Columnist Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers group who is is often featured on the Oklahomans Editorial page where I read her speaking in favor of the building of the Mosque. Here is only a portion of what she said.

[Parker wrote about the killings of the writers of cartoons and film makers ridiculing Mohammad by Islamic extremists because their sensitivities were offended and their using anger and violence to stop it. She was pointing out the obvious wrongness of such action by anyone because "feelings were hurt." She then continued with this.]

"The idea that one should never have one's feelings hurt__and has a right to resort to violent means in the protecting of their self-regard__ has done harm rivaling evil."

"This is why plans for the Mosque at ground zero should be allowed to proceed if this is what Muslims want...We teach tolerance by being tolerant. We can't insist that our freedom of speech allows us to draw cartoons of Mohammad or make films that Muslims find offensive, and then demand that they be more sensitive to our feelings."

"More to the point, the tolerance we urge the Muslim world to embrace as we exercise our right to free expression is the very same we must embrace when Muslims seek to express themselves peacefully."

Now whether you agree or disagree with either argument, you have to admit it is the arguments they present that you wind up dealing with and not the emotions or antics of silly people who can't express their ideas without revealing their anger and hatred for those who might disagree. It is the silly people I'm learning to avoid on blogs, Internet social sites, editorial pages or wherever they might attempt to persuade others with their ideas, whose value is lost,I think, by their creating an atmosphere of anger.

[Please don't try to quote the incident of Jesus getting angered by the money-changers in the Temple to show that some anger is right. When I see someone giving themselves to the betterment of all kinds of people as did Jesus who was ultimately willing to die on their behalf, I'll not be opposed to whatever anger they show. I promise. It will be the righteous kind.]

Paul B.

Friday, August 13, 2010


The Entitlement Generation, which also includes the generation Y or the Millennial generation of 1985 to 2000, is that group of people born between 1970 and 2000. Those words will be used inter-changeably throughout this post. Though there are a few technical differences between Generation Y and Millennial, they all make up the entitlement generation.. They are the children of the "Baby Boomers" which were the post World War Two babies.

It has been said of the baby boomers...[1945 to 1965 which I missed by five years]..." As a group, the baby boomers were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time." The CHILDREN of the baby boomers have grown up with a far different mentality.

It is said that that they have questions regarding a clear definition of what it means to be an adult. In one study professors at Brigham Young University found that college students are more likely today to define "adult" based on certain personal abilities and characteristics rather than more traditional "rite of passage" events such as getting married, getting a job and supporting ones' self.

Dr. Larry Nelson, one of the three Marriage, Family, and Human Development professors to perform the study, noted that some Millennials are delaying the transition from childhood to adulthood as a response to mistakes made by their parents. "In prior generations, you get married and you start a career and you do that immediately.

What young people today say is that all that did was lead to divorces and to people being unhappy with their careers. The majority of the entitlement generation want to get married--they just want to do it right the first time, the same thing with their careers."

This is a noble desire and I wish them well. But there is a problem. There is a reason the Entitlement Generation is sometimes called the "Trophy Generation", or "Trophy Kids." That is a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where "no one loses" and everyone gets a "Thanks for Participating" trophy and symbolizing a perceived sense of entitlement by every single person.

It has been reported that this is an issue in corporate environments. Some employers are concerned that Millennials have too many great expectations from the workplace and desire to completely shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace.

I KNOW this shape to fit me thinking doesn't work in a marriage and though this generation may want to "do it right the first time," they will find that it takes hard work and self sacrifice to make a true marriage that's lasting and THAT doesn't come with a "me first" attitude.

But this entitlement generation has now found itself with a mentality that is best expressed in a nursery song that says...

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it's true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me..

Today many parents and psychologists wonder if songs like that were not big mistakes.

In the 1970s and 80s world of child rearing, the catchword was "self-esteem." A group called the Aspen Education Group which is recognized nationwide as a leading provider of education programs for struggling or underachieving young people, said this..."Unconditional love and being valued "just because you're you!" was the prevailing philosophy. In practice, it involved constantly praising children, not criticizing them under any circumstances, emphasizing feelings, and not recognizing one child's achievements as superior to an other's. At the end of a season, every player "won" a trophy. Instead of just one "student of the month," schools named dozens. Teachers inflated grades from kindergarten through college: "C" became the new "F." No one ever had to repeat a grade because staying behind caused poor self-esteem."

This gave rise to an "I deserve the very best" mentality whether the thing deserved was an education, allowance, car, computer, PlayStation or just gifts at Christmas in general. So a "me" generation developed with a mentality that thinks "I want it now because I deserve it as much as anyone" to every ones' seeming surprise. Duh!!!
Some of what is said above is, I believe, a legitimate thought process but it is based on something far different than a "Just because I'm me." mentality.

In fact, I believe as a Christian I AM to view myself as something special. But "Why" is the real question to be answered and is in scripture. The reason we will find there will produce people with a mindset that is 180 degrees from the "Me" generation. We'll look at this next time.

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


My desire is to be a healthy skeptic. In fact, I believe God calls all of us to a healthy skepticism. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits..." (Matthew 7:15-20) Especially when it comes to hearing someone say "God told me and He wants me to tell you." Being careful about accepting something as truth and NOT receiving it just because the name of God is invoked is very wise indeed.

All around us are voices that claim God told them something and they are to tell us of it's truth. People who are not healthily skeptical can wind up being told what to believe, what to do, how to vote, how to spend their money, how to raise their children and how their marriage relationship should be all because God told someone [they claim] the right way and they're passing it on to us.

I'm not talking about people who try to draw you away from scripture. Quite the opposite. I'm talking about people who are busy showing you from the bible why you should believe what God told them about a particular subject and how if you want to be biblical you need to accept what they are saying about it. After all.."God told them."

Some one I read said that, in his opinion, the bible is a dangerous book. Perhaps the most dangerous book in the world since Christians believe it to be the infallible, authoritative voice of God to men. What he's saying is quite correct from my perspective. This, because it is, in fact, His inspired word to us about His Son and I believe that message can radically change your life.

But that's the good danger. The other kind of danger is because throughout history people have twisted and perverted the meaning of the text of scripture to fit their agendas in order to, I suppose, get what they believe would be the authority of God behind their agendas. They wind up saying if you disagree with their words you are disagreeing with God Himself. So you can see I believe in the infallibility of the scriptures but not the infallibility of those who try to teach it's meaning. So a healthy skepticism would be in order I would think.

So how do you tell the difference between the true meaning of scripture and false teaching that can come from men about it?

One way is to compare their teaching to the rest of the Bible. Does it agree with the rest of the scriptures. No single verse is to be seen as truly standing alone but in the immediate context as to who is being addressed and why and the larger context of the whole of scripture. To miss this would be what is called "proof-texting" and with a single verse, unrelated to all others, ANY thing can be proven by scripture.

That’s a good test for what anyone says the bible is saying. Any book, any preacher, any idea, any philosophy, or any message supposedly from God should be challenged with this test. Apply it to me. Apply it to everyone you hear. That’s why it’s important to know what the Bible says and means and know how to study it and understand it under the leadership of the Holy Spirit in your own life. The idea of being "Berean Christians" is still a good one.

But there’s also something else you can use to evaluate a teaching. Jesus says we should evaluate what is being taught by what it produces in the life of the teacher. Luke 15:1–7.. "And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” It was obvious the Pharisees wouldn't and what they lived denied the truth of God. Jesus also chided the Pharisees for going out of their way to make a convert but refusing to love those in the way.

If a communicator's life is one of manipulation, judgmentalism, control, anger and negativism instead of respect, grace, and love of people, rest assured the teaching they do will produce the same in their life and in the life of those who follow them. That is an outcome you can be sure about. It's called reaping what is sown. What will happen in the lives of the people who follow this teacher, not just as an immediate outcome, but in the long-run, is a valid question to ask before you accept any word as if "God said it through them." God may not be in it at all. A healthy skepticism will discern which is true of the teacher.

While I'm in the neighborhood of this thought about a life of respect I might as well say it. It seems to me that ANY argument or debate in ANY area of life be it religious, political, sports or otherwise, that is carried on in a disrespectful, condemning, shaming, and sarcastic manner has lost the privilege of being heard. And in this era of communication that unfortunately characterizes much of what is being said in all areas of communication with others.

Being heard, however, is not a right. The right of free speech is a constitutional guarantee in this country it is true. But being given a hearing is a privilege, even a gift. When trampled on with disrespect from EITHER side of ANY argument or differing viewpoint about ANY issue, an audience can be lost. It will be if that audience has any real discernment at all.

So while the point of this post is that a healthy skepticism is needed toward those who would fraudulently say they are speaking for God, that same skepticism is well placed when it takes in anyone who shows disrespect toward others in their communication.


Maybe that's why I like blogs so much. Here at my house [blog] I can require that respect be shown or no comments be posted as I've indicated in the comment section. At someone else's house [blog] I can choose to visit or not and the presence/nonpresence of an atmosphere of respect will help me determine that visit or lack thereof. No demands on them to do differently than they're doing!! Just healthy skepticism on whether I'm to be in the audience or not. Which, by the way, won't matter to them I'm sure but it matters to me.

Paul B.

Friday, August 06, 2010


The word "idols" sounds archaic. We tend to think of statues or gargoyles or sacrifices that are more in keeping with a pagan culture than our modern times. But N.T. Wright, in his book SURPRISED BY HOPE [HarperOne 2008] does a more than adequate job of showing the modern relevance of that word. He shows that "idol worship" is as modern as microwaves and as dangerous as radiation poisoning. In fact, to relationships, it is MORE dangerous than the afore mentioned modern items. Idolatry, according to Wright, IS a heart problem but doesn't stay there. It worms it's way into our value system [with devaluation] and carries with it consequences that infect our walk with God, our families, neighborhoods and even congregations.

N.T. Wright says it this way..."

"One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch." (p. 182)

Mark Driscoll says much the same thing in different words in his latest book DOCTRINE. He says it this way...

"If we idolize our gender, we must demonize the other gender. If we idolize our nation, we must demonize other nations. If we idolize our political party, we must demonize other political parties. If we idolize our socioeconomic class, we must demonize other classes. If we idolize our family, we must demonize other families. If we idolize our theological system, we must demonize other theological systems. If we idolize our church, we must demonize other churches.

This explains the great polarities and acrimonies that plague every society. If something other than God’s loving grace is the source of our identity and value, we must invariably defend our idol by treating everyone and everything who may call our idol into question as an enemy to be demonized so that we can feel superior to other people and safe with our idol." (350-351)

I do not agree with either man in all points of theology. But on this point make it a threesome. And...if this assessment is true...our generation has become as "Idolatrous" as any I've ever studied biblically or historically.

Paul B.

UPDATE___Since I'm connecting you with people who write about Idolatry better than I do..you need to read what my blogosphere friend from "Down Under," Aussie John, said about it here..http://john-caesura.blogspot.com/. By the way..I've yet to find anything theological that I disagree with when Aussie j writes.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Last night we [Mary and I] spoke at Emmanuel Baptist Enid after I had preached that morning. We spent about an hour sharing what we've learned after fifty-one years of marriage to each other. It was conversational, casual, comical in some ways, and absolutely a blast in every way. But it was the aftermath that captured my attention.

Mary and I both had several people stay around talking to us for nearly another hour but Mary particularly had some who were REALLY ministered to as she LISTENED. I know she spoke to some degree because she told me about it later. But her gift is listening well. It ministers and, in fact, it is healing. Her gift of listening is spoken about in a post I put up over four years ago which bears repeating today in a slightly adapted fashion. So I will do so. Enjoy.

"Some one ask me recently what I thought had been the major factors in any growth I may have experienced over the past few years in my walk with the Lord. Whether there has been growth or not would be for others to say, especially my family, but if there has been, it would be in the thoughts in the post I'm printing today on listening.

I don't compartmentalize life, so any growth in marriage, raising kids, developing friends, or walking with the Lord is spiritual growth to me. While this may not be what the asker of the question on growth had in mind, I would say it has been profound in changing the direction of my life, marriage, family, and my ministry.

It is obvious to anyone who knows me well I'm one who has, in the past, constantly been giving advice, fixing people, correcting their feelings...well, you can see where growth was needed. My desire is that the journey I'm on in learning this will continue because the road is long. What follows helps that journey along.


"When I ask you to listen to me - and you start giving me advice, - you've gone beyond what is requested. You are not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you're trampling on my feelings and not listening.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed - strange as that may seem - AND you're not listening.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.- Don't talk or do for me - just listen to me.

I can do for myself; I am not helpless. - Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. Besides it helps when you listen.

When you try to do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you are contributing to my fear and inadequacy. But worse, you're not listening.

When you receive as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling of mine.

And when that's clear, the answers often become obvious and I don't need advice. - Irrational feelings can make sense when I understand what's behind them.

Perhaps that's why prayer is so effective, sometimes, for me, because God often becomes mute, and He doesn't give advice or try to fix things.

God many times just seems to listen and often lets me work it out for myself.

So please listen, and just hear me. - And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you. "

Good words that really do describe Mary's gift and I believe would be wise for any teacher/counselor to learn.

Paul B.