TPC Integrative Psychotherapy and Pastoral Counseling
312 West Millbook Road
Suite 109
Raleigh, NC 27609
(919) 845-9977 ext. 207 

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About Me

Certified Fee-Based Practicing Pastoral Counselor
(919) 845-9977 ext. 207
Email Me

Education and Training
Campbell University (B.A.)
Duke University (M.Div.)
University of Wales Cardiff (M.Phil.)
Graduate Theological Foundation (Psy.D.)
North Carolina State University
WakeMed Health & Hospitals
Alamance Institute for Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral Counseling
Hospital Chaplain
University Chaplain




Faith as journey..."Are we there yet?"

I cannot help but think that early explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and many others set out on their quests without the slightest idea where they would end up. Being an explorer is like that. It’s adventurous, risky, and even scary. Furthermore, as you set sail, I suspect that the primary focus is on the journey more so than the destination.

Faith is the same way. While there are many from a modern perspective who turn faith into a destination, my postmodern hunch is that there are countless pilgrims, pioneers, and explorers who do not (cannot?) have a clue where this journey called faith will end. And this poses no problems for us postmodern mariners. Let me be more specific.

Faith is about taking risks instead of finding security.
Faith is being adventurous not apprehensive.
Faith is facing the fear of uncertainty.

I have experienced people of faith who have all the answers. They know exactly where they’re going, how to get there, and how long it will take. But I wonder, isn’t it rather easy to have faith when you have it all figured out. Is that even faith at all?

Faith is hard. Faith is not knowing where we’re going, but getting in the boat anyway. Paul Tillich said, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith. It is an element of faith.” I like that. I like that because, like you, I have doubts. Like you, I have questions.

Or perhaps the Indigo Girls put it best, “There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line.”

I don’t imagine that the explorers sailed all that straight. Why do we expect to do so? Maybe more than once, the crew would ask their captains, “Do you have any idea where we are?” And the captain might say, “I know exactly where we are. We’re on a journey.”

(Original post: September 7, 2004)


the gospel translated, or angelic orthodoxy just doesn't cut it

When it comes to communicating the gospel, I wonder if we provide a message that is blurred, thus often misunderstood. I am speaking here not just of “preachers,” but any of us who attempt to say something, anything, about God, Jesus, the Bible, or the Christian faith. Just how clear or even appropriate is our rhetoric when our motives are more concerned with winning than loving.

“If I speak in the tongues of…angels,” perhaps only angels will understand what I am saying.

Furthermore, it is often the case that what we speak isn’t the real problem. “If I…do not have love,” what I am saying might be the noise of arrogance, pride, or selfishness. But, love transcends. Love goes deeper. Love clears the muddy waters. Love translates our foreign words into the native tongue.

Frederick Buechner puts it this way.

English-speaking tourists abroad are inclined to believe that if only they speak English loudly and distinctly and slowly enough, the natives will know what’s being said even though they don’t understand a single word of the language.

Preachers often make the same mistake. They believe that if only they speak the ancient verities loudly and distinctly and slowly enough, their congregations will understand them.

Unfortunately, the only language people really understand is their own language, and unless preachers are prepared to translate the ancient verities into it, they might as well save their breath.

Communicating the gospel takes more than just preparing our words, what we think, what we believe, and so on. We must prepare ourselves to love perhaps even before we speak.

Who knows? Maybe that love will translate our words into gospel.

(Repost from 30 August 2004) 


Ashes to ashes, dust to dump (repost from 02/09/05)

I think I have made hauling trash into a ritual. Most often, I take our household trash to the county landfill on Saturday mornings. I get up, put on my ratty jeans, a t-shirt, and my work boots. I gather the trash from inside the house, bag any loose rubbish from around the garage, load my truck, and head to town. As a habit, I stop at the T-Mart for a country ham and egg biscuit which I eat in the cab of my truck in the parking lot. Most of the time, I do this silently while watching the blue collar folks. They enter for their breakfast, coffee and morning cigarette before heading off to do their Saturday chores or to punch their six-day a week time clock. I then drive to the outskirts of town where the land has to be cheaper the closer it is to the dump. At the scale house, I inform the county employee of my desire to leave my trash in his possession. He checks for my landfill permit and instructs me where to put my trash. With all landfill authority, yet with a hint of mundane repetition, he says, “In the building” or “Box number one.”

The box is preferable to the building since the latter is normally wet and smells exactly like what it contains. There’s a mixture of Tuesday night’s fish and last Sunday’s chicken bones. It’s a stench, a disgusting odor, that no amount of potpourri can redeem. Nonetheless, I drive from the building leaving behind everything I don’t want anymore, everything I can’t keep, and even some things that I’ve held on to for a while, but need to let go. There’s a relief. Relief comes from knowing that the trash is gone from our house, that we don’t have to deal with it anymore, at least until we create more of it. And the ritual repeats itself the next Saturday.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Like most of us, I reflect on my sin, the dark side of life, and my need to get rid of some of junk that clutters my life with God. Like taking off the trash, forgiveness has its rituals too. It’s the ways we prepare ourselves to worship, ratty jeans and all. It’s the ways we acknowledge our place in the community with a morsel of bread and sip of wine. It’s the ways we let go of the past and live in the present. These rituals, too, lead us to relief. The relief is in God’s grace. Grace comes from knowing that the sin, the junk, the clutter, and the obstacles, no longer confine us to misery, that we don’t have to deal with it anymore, at least until we create more of it. And the ritual repeats itself…


Pope Benedict, Sexual Abuse and Humility of Persons in Authority  

I have said before that the statistics of childhood sexual abuse are maddening (which really doesn’t say enough!) Furthermore, most child sexual abusers are known, trusted individuals and people with a form of power.  “Respect your elders,” children are told. But, what happens when children are asked to be submissive in a traumatic fashion which will impact them for years to come?

Is there a righteous defiance we can teach children that doesn’t lead to self-righteous rebellion?

I am not a papal scholar but I believe that much of Pope Benedict’s legacy will be haunted by the Catholic church’s failed response in confronting the child sexual abuse by priests. This morning, I wonder, is Pope Benedict’s resignation an act of humility?

In short, he states, “I am no longer able to perform my duties.” Sounds like humility to me, but a further step might be added, “...and I failed at times in the past.”

Powerful people need humility if only to know when to call it quits. People in authority need humility to be able to protect the defenseless.

Alice Miller wrote, “Wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one’s parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for the respect of child.”

Again, I ask, what do we teach our children? How do we protect them from the “powerful” people who live next door or just down the hall or across the globe who defend predators with silence?

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