Mental Health – The Psychology of Self-Motivation

 Redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation (wholeness),
reverent and sensitive before God.
That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you,
God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13


Scott Geller is Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the World Academy of Productivity and Quality. He has written numerous articles and books, including When No One’s Watching: Living and Leading Self-motivation. Scott will examine how we can become self-motivated in “The Psychology of Self-Motivation.”


The Vineyard – Principles of Pruning

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.
Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes,
and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.
John 15:1-2


It’s late Fall. The branches are heavy laden with grapes. The harvest will soon commence. Pruning will happen immediately thereafter.

Compare the two pictures. What a glaring contrast! Without exaggeration the pruned vines reveal absolutely no promise for the future. They look DEAD!  And YET…..!


The history of pruning has a rather humorous beginning.Thousands of years ago farmers growing vines of grapes stumbled upon something they couldn’t understand or explain. For years they tried to keep goats out of their vineyards , but they were perplexed when they discovered that the vines that had been eaten by goats actually had a better harvest than those which were untouched. They were baffled! Why would a goat eating away at a vine help produce more, not less? They concluded that clearly they had some magical goats on hand here. Clearly the logical conclusion, right? So paradoxically, they started inviting these magical goats to munch on their vines every year. And they kept having better and better harvests!” (Ouch! That Hurts!)

Though the the principles of pruning are well known in biological circles, they are beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say, pruning, though appearing crude and destructive, is the only hope for a vine to be successfully productive. Pruning not only guarantees a future harvest; it also multiplies it by several times (“He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce MORE fruit”).

As a matter of biological fact a vine that is left UN-pruned will reverse its production. Eventually it will become worthless in terms of the Master’s business. Hence., “Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes.”  In other words, in terms of multiplication pruning is not merely optional; it is absolutely mandatory!

Notice! This is so important for those who are serious about following Jesus. The Father prunes branches for MORE! In other words, His pruning is never capricious. Every bit of “cutting away” may seem cruel and unreasonable at the moment! However, you can take this to bank: on the part of the Father pruning has nothing to do with judgment, punishment or cruelty.  “We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan.” (Romans 8:28)  As you follow Jesus, remember the “MORE” factor! If you don’t, you will become exceedingly frustrated, confused, cynical, and doubtful! Remember, Father is concerned with but only one thing: that you, as a unique branch, produce all that you can according to His design for your life; which, as a matter of fact, will bring Him great glory! Yes, your satisfaction and His glory are intermingled

Second Touch – Glorification Commenced

God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

Those he foreknew, he also marked out in advance
to be shaped according to the model of the image of his son,
so that he might be the firstborn of a large family.
And those he marked out in advance, he also called;
he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 8:29-30


Justification is the singular act of Father whereby “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. (1 Corinthians 5:17)

Sanctification is the process of the Holy Spirit, whereby baby Christians become mature.We are meant … to grow up in every way into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-16)

 We’ve entertained two $5 theological words: justification and sanctification. I add one more: glorification (glorified). Glorification is the perfect state of maturity for which God has been involved in your life all along.“In heaven, you will be in a state of perfect wholeness – in spirit, mind and body…” (Faith and Health)  I found an extending quote that does a much better job of delineating this truth than I could ever hope to do!

The Bible tells us that ‘he Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being’ (Genesis 2:7)  God created a physical body from the earth and then breathed spirit into it. The spirit gave life to the body and man became a living soul. From that point forward, humans have a spiritual nature with a soul within a physical body. God made us as complete or ‘whole’ beings.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the perfect design of man was destroyed. Originally created in the image of God, this image became marred, and has been marred ever since as this image has been passed down to us all. The spirit of a person who has not been saved is dead. (Romans 5:15-17) What was once a perfectly knitted and intact spirit, soul body became imperfect. Each of us were born into this world as flawed and imperfect beings.

When a person accepts Jesus into their heart, he’s rescued from sin and eternal separation from God. We call this salvation. The Greek word is sozo, meaning “wholeness.” God puts his Spirit into our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22) and our spirits then become fully alive. Throughout our life on earth, our spirits bear the image of God – we are completely well in spirit. Acts 26:18, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Mental Health Monday: What Happens When You Have a Disease Doctors Can’t Diagnose

God, you’re my last chance of the day.
    I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
    take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
    I’m camped on the edge of hell.
Psalm 88:1-4



Jennifer Brea was a PhD student at Harvard when, one night, she found she couldn’t write her own name.



Five years ago, TED Fellow Jennifer Brea became progressively ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that severely impairs normal activities and on bad days makes even the rustling of bed sheets unbearable. In this poignant talk, Brea describes the obstacles she’s encountered in seeking treatment for her condition, whose root causes and physical effects we don’t fully understand, as well as her mission to document through film the lives of patients that medicine struggles to treat.









Smitty: a Disciple of Jesus

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples:
I will be with you always be with to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:18-20
You did not choose me; I chose you
and appointed you to go and bear much fruit,
the kind of fruit that endures.
And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.
John 15:16
It seems that lately I’ve been overwhelmed in thinking about the past 12 years, dreams about highlights, low lights and nightmares. By the Grace of God there are more highlights than lows. However, what has been bemoaning me the most is that, after being saved from a near fatal disease ( alcoholism ) and being brought into the light to pay forward the never ending gift grace freely given to me, I continue to ask WHY my hard work was going unglorified. MY hard work? MY glory? Wow, that’s arrogant! Instead of praising God for being alive, I wanted kudos too? Geez, really?
Now let me make things perfectly clear. I’m not walking around all day looking for my own personal praise team. That ain’t going to happen! And it’s not that I dwell on the subject all day long either. You see, after my fall from the grace of a loving God, I lost everything. My 6-figure job, my wife divorced me, my kids hated me, I had no money, no insurance, and even worse, no dignity. I thought I was truly the most destitute person on the face of the Earth, not realizing that all this was purely materialistic, I proceeded to sit on a ‘pity pot’ the size of Montana.

It wasn’t until I was placed into a nursing home in “The Hood ” of Detroit ( E. 7 Mile & Conant ) at St. Michael’s, where bedridden, I learned how to talk to God on a one-on-one basis. It was there that Jesus and I became the best of friends. Not that I’m not friends with Papa, ( but sometimes it’s easier to talk to the son than it is to the Father. You get my drift? This is point where I witnessed miracles for not only myself, but for others who were in touch with Papa (Romans 8:15) thru me. Awesome! I became the best friend and confidant of a 94 year old woman. The old lady, who refused to eat, was completely transformed thru the compassion shown by God thru me. I showed 3 other men how I did my own leg exercises and regained the use of my legs. Yes, we were all bedridden, but the fire of The Holy Spirit was starting to burn brighter and hotter in my heart. I could feel his presence everywhere. I passed that on to the other men and said, if it worked for me, it would work for them too. To gradually see them up and around was nothing shy of a miracle in itself. 
Eventually I was released after a year. My union guys got me re-instated at work ( took the a whole year ) so I was able to get a small apartment that was far from what you would call ‘rather nice‘, but it sufficed. Then I worked on getting my family back together. This would take another two years but in the long run I’m remarried and back in good graces with the kids.

At the same time I’m was introduced to the 3 biggest components in my walk with Christ and in my sobriety. Celebrate Recovery ( a Christian recovery program ), Pastor Tom Kaastra and Johnny O., my sponsor. Funny thing, Johnny lived in
Pastor Tom’s basement (nicely finished) and eventually I got to buy this house. Anyway, thru the CR program, I became a leader and taught others how to come to Christ. I helped them get rid of that excess baggage ( i.e. hurts, hang-ups and habits ) they’ve been carrying around all their lives. This is all part of MY transformation. (Easter Impact, Part 5). I have become a completely new person because, as the Bible, says in Romans 12:2, “by letting the Lord change the way you think…”. That is the whole thing in a nut-shell. Rewiring the way you think. At times I find myself wearing out 3 pairs of kneecaps, kicking myself in the ass for not allowing this to happen sooner. BUT…it’s ALWAYS in His timing!
Having had this spiritual awakening (Step 12 of AA), I try to put others first. Now, this is natural as breathing. Strange, I’m not really changing the things I used to do, I’m just doing them for a completely different reason.
Looking back on these past 12 years, I find it hard to relate to the feeling of recognition. After saving my life, then allowing me to be a part of all these miracles, how could I want recognition? The truth be told…I really don’t, it’s just that sometimes I “overthink” things. But Papa truly knows my heart. He must like what He sees because He still uses me to do the work of His son, Jesus. I am so righteously proud that I have been chosen to this task. A worn out drunken addict, who was saved by grace, to spread the Good News to others. As for the recognition? Why was I plagued with pain and frustration during the in-between parts, going from point A to point B? My discovery, there’s no resurrection without crucifixion!