Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cast All Your Cares on Jesus


Jesus Christ takes as much personal interest in you as he did in his disciples.


Do you remember the time when Peter felt all knotted up about paying the Roman taxes? He blurted out, “Hey Lord, if we don’t come up with some money, they’ll toss us in jail!”


Jesus told him to go catch a fish.


I’m sure Peter was scratching his head while threading a worm on the hook. But he did as the Master said. Before long, he caught a fish. “Okay,” Peter said, holding the wiggly creature out to Jesus. “Now what?”


”Look in his mouth and pay our taxes with what you find there.”

Can you imagine Peter’s expression? Between the two of them, he was the expert fisherman. He’d caught and cleaned thousands of fish, and never once had loose change appeared in their innards. Despite his doubts, Peter propped open the fish’s mouth and gave the creature a hearty shake. Out popped a coin that exactly covered the taxes.

 

What worked for Peter will work for you. Not the fish part, but going straight to Jesus when you face a baffling dilemma.


Mel, my brother-in-law and lifelong buddy, invited me out for lunch to discuss such a dilemma. “Dan, I’m in a bind. I’ve contracted my summer camp out to a university football team that’ll arrive next Monday. I told the coach a year ago that they could use an acre on the south lot as a practice field. But I hadn’t counted on the spring rains. When I went out yesterday to check on the field, the grass had grown a mile high!”

 


“We could try my lawn mover,” I said.


“The grass is too thick and tall. The engine would burn up.”


“How about renting a tractor?”


“The soil is too moist. It would leave ruts in the field.”


“A scythe?”


“That would take all summer. There’s just no way to get that grass cropped short in time.”


“How about asking Jesus for a creative idea?”


Mel’s eyes narrowed. “Right,” he said, smiling. “Like, ‘Hey God, could you please fix my green acre by next Monday?’”


I smiled back. My suggestion did sound naive. We said goodbye, but the story doesn’t end there.
 
Let’s allow an invisible camera to follow Mel up the winding mountain road to Western Life Camp.He is carrying groceries for the football camp into a cold storage unit, where he finds himself saying a little prayer.“Lord, if you do have an idea for cutting the grass, I’d love to hear about it.”


The food packed away, Mel saunters over to the woodpile to chop some firewood. Axe raised, poised for the first strike, he hears an inner voice that says, “Okay.”


“Okay what?” he thinks to himself.


“Okay, Mel,” says the still small voice. “I have an idea.”


Lowering the axe, he takes a seat on a nearby stump and waits attentively. A minute passes. Then he hears, “Go tell your neighbor Joe that you’ve got an acre of tall grass that needs clearing. Do whatever he tells you.”


Mel feels torn between continuing to cut wood and doing what the voice has instructed. He wonders if Joe will think he’s foolish. But an image of the football coach yelling, “Where’s my field!” spurs him into action.


Mel drives over and finds Joe watering a half-dozen horses at a trough. After a short greeting Mel tells Joe about his dilemma over the acre of grass.

 


Joe says, “Why, that’s no problem. My horses are running low on feed and I don’t have time to go into town for hay. If you’ll let them graze that acre, we’ll all be happy.”


When the football team arrived on Monday, Mel walked the coach over for a look at the field. The coach knelt down and ran his palm over the perfectly manicured grass. “This will do nicely,” he said.

 


It isn’t easy to bring something to God’s attention when you feel like you should solve it yourself. On the other hand, God is a genius at developing creative responses to life’s perplexing crises. Like Peter and Mel, you can increase your resourcefulness by “casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

 



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cardinals Praise Dan Montgomery's "God and Your Personality" Book

A Catholic classic in integrating spirituality and depth psychology, the newly revised and expanded  GOD AND YOUR PERSONALITY is now available in both print and e-book versions on Amazon.

God and Your Personality

God wants you to be the best version of "you" in Christ. This means God wants you to develop a whole, integrated, mature personality that reflects all your talents, capabilities, and dreams—while conforming to the image of Christ. Unfortunately, a lot of us fail to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance in actualizing this calling. We fall short of God's purpose for our lives. We get trapped in other people's ideas, our own self-imposed limits and fears.

God and Your Personality is your key to break through those barriers and become the beloved son or daughter of God that you were born to be. Writing with compassion and empathy, but also with a firm grasp of personality problems, Theologian-Psychologist Dan Montgomery gives you a handbook that will enable you to find your own "true north" by utilizing the cutting-edge techniques of Compass Therapy and the Self Compass.

Through learning to steer your life with the Compass points of Love, Assertion, Weakness, and Strength (the LAWS of personality health), you can find a freedom to become the "you" that God calls you to be.

University of Notre Dame 
I am fascinated by the Self Compass. The growth orientation of the Compass Model offers a transformation mindset that benefits any reader. Well done.” — Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., Professor of Developmental and Moral Psychology 
Paul Cardinal Poupard, The Vatican 
God & Your Personality is no New Age influenced waffle clouded in a mystique of blurb, but a useful tool for all those who seek to address personality issues and quench their innate spiritual thirst with the living-water which truly satisfies. Well done!”
Secretary of the Vatican Council for the Evangelization of Peoples
“This book is easy to understand and yet contains a profound understanding of the underlying elements of the human personality. It will surely be of much help to anyone who wishes to deepen their knowledge of the relationship between psychological and spiritual wholeness.” — Archbishop Robert Sarah
Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Manila 
God & Your Personality is a noble accomplishment and a gift to individuals who seek wholeness and holiness.”
Erdo Cardinal Peter, Budapest
God & Your Personality is a fine achievement and wonderful contribution to the healing ministry.”
Stephen Cardinal Kim, Seoul
“I am now reading God & Your Personality and find it very enlightening.”
Roger Cardinal Mahony, Los Angeles
“The Catholic tradition has long affirmed the value of the human sciences in leading us to a deeper understanding of the human person in relation to God and others. Dr. Montgomery’s work, drawing as it does from the riches of psychological investigation and insight, will prove most helpful for those striving to grow and develop in the Christian life.”

Let God and Your Personality be your means 
of healing grace today!

"Jesus Christ" Is America's Favorite Curse Word - Why?

I was watching Super 8, a movie produced by Steven Spielberg. Four middle school boys are helping the US military fight off an attack by space monsters. But my attention wasn't on the aliens. It was on how those boys were using swear words in almost every sentence.



I found myself counting the times the Christian name for the Son of God is used as a profanity: "Jesus." "Jesus H. Christ." "Jesus F--ing Christ." "Christ." Along with a fair number of "G--Damns!" I quit counting near a hundred.

Before the movie began, I overheard two grandmothers sitting behind me swapping stories about their grandchildren. Now on screen the first alien leaps out to attack the boys. Both grandmothers scream in unison, "Jesus Christ!!"

Does this underscore for you that Jesus Christ is America's favorite curse word? Have you recently heard the Lord's name used in vain? Among friends or acquaintances? In your own speech?

Can you imagine Krishna becoming the favorite curse word in India? Buddha evolving into a profanity in Tibet? Allah an obscenity in the Middle East? Why then is "Jesus Christ!" the favorite swear word in America, not only in daily conversation, but in literature, television, and movies?

In past decades most curse words derived from bodily functions related to urination, defecation, sexual intercourse, or contempt for another human being. Why, then, this choice? This leap from excrement and sex to a sacred religious name, the name at the heart of Christianity? A name held holy by the majority of Americans and over two billion Christians worldwide? Why does Jesus Christ head the list of national vulgarities, so endemic to American culture?

Using Jesus as a swear word used to break a cultural taboo. Its shock value used to surpass those taboos broken by "F-you" and "you A-hole!" However, after three decades of usage, it no longer shocks at all. That's why the curse word "Jesus Christ" is used in so many contexts today -- anywhere from cussing out an enemy, to showing surprise and awe, reacting to physical pain, venting anger, and revealing contempt for a person or idea.


Those of us who choose Jesus as a swear word do it because of the power embedded in Jesus' name.

The power of Jesus' name, used perversely. 

Converting a term that stands for holiness, hope, and heaven into profanity repudiates the holy object, in this case the person of Christ. So in exclaiming, "Oh Jesus!" -- or "Jesus Christ!" -- a person consciously or unconsciously conveys, "I am not a follower of Christ and spurn what he stands for!"

When this particular cuss word becomes so second-nature that grandmothers and children use it to express negative emotional states (shock, fear, anger, or disgust), then, derogatory though it is, the  Christ-expletive becomes a societal merit badge. A badge of mockery. A verbal badge that dishonors Christ, Christianity, and Christians.



Perhaps this is a way of protesting the Gospel of Christ, which invites people to repent from evil and comprehend God's love for them. But rather than protesting Christ's message through derogatory speech, I suggest that we respect the freedom to worship God or not, and find tolerance for the religious differences that make America great.  

Here is a consciousness-raising experiment you might try out this week. When you stub your toe, witness a shocking event, or get furious at someone who crosses you, see if your unconscious flips into automatic pilot by erupting with a desecration of Jesus' name. If not, it means you've successfully averted this national trend. And if so, it means that with a little spiritual vigilance you can remove its influence from within your psyche.


Wouldn't we all find benefit from a constructive separation between religious sensibility and cursing?

For more about Dr. Dan's integration of psychology and theology in the 21st century, read:

COMPASS PSYCHOTHEOLOGY: WHERE PSYCHOLOGY AND THEOLOGY REALLY MEET

Carl Jung's Personality Theory Contrasted with Christian Personality Theory

Unlike his mentor, Freud, who was an atheist, Carl Jung saw spirituality as the defining trait of personality and human nature, manifested as a mysterious presence found in all cultures. Jung held the conviction that God existed and that in all important matters a human being was alone with God.

Jung developed the idea of the collective unconscious as a repository of universal archetypes like the divine child, the old sage, and the primordial mother. These archetypes and the symbols they elicit in dreams and through intuition, he surmised, are meant to guide people through an individuation process, offering fulfillment through reconciling opposing forces within the psyche. Jung saw a person's destiny as the result of a collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious.



While agreeing that spirituality is indigenous to human nature, compass personality theory more explicitly affirms the Trinity as the ontological foundation of personhood, Jesus Christ as the God-human mediator, and the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom within the spiritual core. Rather than cultural symbols to guide people toward individual fulfillment, compass theory emphasizes the Word of God as the objective revelation of the Trinity without equal in revealing what people are called to become. 

Without this framework, the Bible says, “there is a way that appears to be right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Prov 14:12). In other words, symbolic interpretation of psychic and cultural processes is insufficient in itself to establish communion and communication with the Creator, for this requires conversion of the heart, regeneration of the spirit, and living in existential responsiveness to the Trinity



Of all Jung’s concepts, introversion and extroversion have gained the widest general acceptance. Introverts focus on their own thoughts and feelings, recharging their psychic batteries through interior reflection and recollection. Extroverts focus on social stimulation, recharging their psychic batteries through interaction with others. Introverts see the world in regard to how it affects them, whereas extroverts are more concerned with their impact upon the world. 

In compass personality theory, introverted personality patterns include the  Avoidant Worrier, Schizoid Loner, Dependent Pleaser, and Compulsive Controller. Extroverted patterns include the Histrionic Storyteller, Paranoid Arguer, Antisocial Rule-breaker, and Narcissistic Boaster.



Perhaps what characterizes Jung’s theory more than anything else is his emphasis on polarities within personality as the key to understanding individual differences and helping people make progress in individuation. To Jung, the self can have  no reality without polarity.

Both Jungian and compass personality theory see the development of personality and relationships as a goal-directed enterprise, marked by the balanced development of all parts of personality, utilizing a free flow of energy between conscious and unconscious processes. Thus, the differentiation of opposites needs consistent integration within the self-system throughout the lifespan.

For Jung this means venerating what is God-like in the self, but also respecting what is most base, one’s shadow side, and learning how to give equal place even to the seemingly contradictory aspects of human experience. 

Compass personality theory is anchored in God’s invitation to trust in the Trinity as an edifying presence for developing healthy personality and relationships. Personality health is achieved through growth in developing a Christlike Self Compass as a person learns to recognize and dismantle the manipulative trends arising from dependency, aggression, withdrawal, or control. 



For more, read:



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dan Montgomery Conversion to Jesus Christ

How can you and I participate more fully in Christ’s transformation of our lives and personalities? Jesus still transforms those who follow him. I know. My personality has needed regular tune-ups over several decades, but required a major overhaul when I met the Lord at the age of seventeen.

Las Vegas, New Mexico, was a dangerous place when I was growing up in the late 1950’s. Maybe it was a throwback to America’s wild west past. One year we had twenty-one murders, several right across from the local movie theater. That’s a lot of killing for a town of 14,000.

I started off as a gentle, curious boy. I collected stamps, flew kites and raised horned toads. I kept an old box turtle named Quonk-Quonk. But in the sixth grade, my life changed. I was sledding one afternoon when a gang of boys attacked me. Jimmy, the leader, beat me until I lay unconscious in the snow. Two friends dragged me home. Years later Jimmy went to the state hospital for murdering his father. I spent a lot of time trying to avoid getting beat up. Despite friendships I formed, a seething chemistry of dark emotions brewed within me. 

At fifteen I was beaten for the last time. A couple of gang members jumped me at lunch and knocked me out with brass knuckles. The next week I found the toughest boy in school. I asked him to teach me how to fight. We met for ten brutal sessions in the gym. The final time something inside me snapped, like a taut rubber band. I’m not going to take this anymore, not from anyone. I exploded with a vicious right fist that knocked him cold. As he went down I felt the heady surge of brute power and vengeance. Within a week I chased down one of the guys who’d jumped me at lunch and punched him out. The next day three of his buddies cornered me in an alley. I beat the leader to a pulp. The others ran.  

Suddenly I wanted to fight anyone who looked at me crosswise. When my Latin teacher threatened to send me to the principal’s office for acting up in class, I promised to destroy his car if he did. He backed down and I felt powerful. I no longer wanted to just protect myself; I wanted to prove myself. 

I started drinking on the weekends. That was like dousing a fire with gasoline. One Saturday night I was returning from a hunting trip with some friends. We came up on a motorcycle with two riders—Carlos and Julio, a couple of toughs who’d beaten me up in junior high. I shouted to Bobby, who was driving, “Pull up next to them!” Then I thrust my shotgun out the window, pulled back the hammer and put him in my sights. I raised the barrel about three inches above Julio’s head before pulling the trigger. The blast sent them spinning into a ditch where they cursed us as we roared off.


I was out of control. My parents were called into the principal’s office to hear about my drinking. My friends distrusted me. You’ve got to control your temper, I told myself. You’re turning into a maniac. I resolved to straighten up. I could control this thing. And for a while life went smoothly. 

Then, in the fall of my senior year, my girlfriend Marcia broke up with me and started dating Mike, the new guy in town. I wanted to kill him.

Mike threw a huge party at the Castaneda Hotel ballroom. Everyone was invited—except me. Getting good and drunk, I drove my Chevy over to the party. I made my way to the door and demanded to go in. When the chaperones asked to see my invitation, I went crazy. I screamed at Mike over the arms of parents who were trying to restrain me, “Come out and fight me like a man!” Only when one of the parents started to phone the police did I back off. Still in a blind fury, I jumped in my car and peeled out, tires screaming, radio blaring. 

Deep in my heart I hated what I’d become. Where was that sensitive child I’d once been? Now I never laughed or smiled. I wore a poker face and a mean stare to keep people away. I was digging a deeper and deeper hole for myself, and there seemed to be no way out.

Four nights after threatening Mike at the party, I was walking home with a half pint of vodka stuffed in my old leather jacket. I passed an old church on the corner. As I stood at the stoplight, singing reached my ears. I didn’t like churches. But a strange feeling grew in my heart—a friendly energy coming from the church, beckoning me through the doors.


The stoplight changed to green. I didn't move. The music faded. What will people say if I go in? I started to cross the street, but the tug on my heart strengthened. Suddenly I turned, walked up the steps to those big church doors, pulled one open and went inside.

It was a Wednesday evening service. Heads turned as I walked in and I knew people recognized me. My face heated up and I sat down quickly in the nearest seat. They'll probably throw me out, I figured. But instead, the friendliness that had touched me at the stoplight felt more personal, like a presence.

The reverend was talking about Christ. He said that Jesus could enter a person’s life through the heart and bring peace to every corner of that life.

Suddenly I was aware of a desperate emptiness inside, and a longing so deep I had no words for it. It consumed me. I wanted the peace God could bring. I knew that without it I would die.

After the service I went to the communion rail. I asked Christ to enter my violent heart and bring peace. I give my life to you, I prayed. When I stood up the warmth of his love flooded me. Tears streamed down my cheeks. Where emptiness had been minutes before an indescribable peace filled my very being.  And for the first time in as long as I could remember, I wasn’t afraid.

On the way to school the next morning I spotted Mike walking alone on the other side of the street. As I ran over to him he threw down his books and squared off.  

“Are you going to bust me up, Montgomery?” he shouted.

“Mike,” I said, stopping in front of him. “I want to apologize for acting like a jerk at your party.” I thrust out my hand. Mike eyed me suspiciously.

“Is this a trick?” he demanded.

“No,” I answered. “Something incredible happened last night. I still don’t completely understand it. But I don’t want to fight. I want to be friends.

Mike searched my eyes, then took my hand. “All right, Danny. I believe you.” 

That handshake was a beginning. I spent a lot of time that school year making amends to all the people I had hurt. It was hard. But the peace that had come into my heart, and my involvement in the church spurred me on. 

My conversion fifty years ago has led to the greatest adventure I could have ever imagined—following Jesus and hearing the voice of his Holy Spirit guiding me throughout my life. I've faced innumerable difficulties and had my share of suffering and life crises. But Christ's complete faithfulness coupled with my simple faith have kept our companionship warm and real.

Dan Montgomery

Now at seventy I know that in not too many years I'll cross over from earthly life in Christ to eternal life with Christ. I feel peaceful about this, even looking forward to the day I stand gazing at him face to face. I'll tell him how much I appreciate all he's done for me. And I won't forget to ask him to watch over you, my faithful reader, in your adventure of living!
 
For more, read: GOD AND YOUR PERSONALITY 


God and Your Personality

Individual Transformation in the Image of Christ

Gradual Growth, Not Perfection

It is normal for people to think that they need to present a picture of perfection in order to gain God’s approval. 

But human beings are “perfect” only in the sense that David, Job, and Peter were perfect. Each loved and responded to God as they knew him, yet each was seriously flawed and prone to human frailty. It was when they stood up and counted themselves as most perfect that they fell on their faces. As the proverb says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro 16:18).

Haughty Spirit

The perfection that God desires is an ever-humbling growth process in the direction of surrendering your personality patterns to God’s healing agency.
Though imperfections always remain, you are gradually transformed into your unique version of the image of Christ. 

Being Transformed in Christ

God knows the innermost workings of your personality—the motives, foibles, and desires—for “before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Heb 4:13).
Because Christ became sin as humanity’s representative, God has patience, not condemnation, for the fear-driven personality patterns that plague people. 

God is Patient

Jesus says, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 24:13). Enduring means committing yourself to an open-ended process of inspired personality development over your lifetime.

I invite you to take your first action step in surrendering your patterns to the Lord:

offers a self-administered inventory that provides a compass reading of patterns that are interfering with your personality growth, as well as revealing dimensions of your Self Compass that are functioning with good balance and integrity.

The Self Compass


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pope Francis, The Light of Faith, and the Transforming Power of Jesus Christ


The Catholic Church has declared October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013 as The Year of Faith. As a committed Christian and theologian-psychologist I applaud this emphasis.

I believe The Year of Faith expresses the heartfelt cry of Christians worldwide to draw close to the Lord Jesus Christ in our modern day. As Paul says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

I want to share with you some of Pope Francis' first apostolic letter “Lumen Fidei” (“The Light of Faith”). I do this with admiration for his spirit of pastoral care, and with the conviction that he is speaking on behalf of the Body of Christ, Catholics and Protestants alike:

Pope Francis
The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God.
Faith heralds the transforming power of belief in Jesus. Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing.
We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need somebody trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us.
Faith makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God's faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness.
To receive the transforming power of Jesus requires a personal transformation, a journey never completely finished in this life. But we can benefit from psychological and spiritual tools that help us move forward. One of these is the Self Compass. The Self Compass helps us renew our personal conversion to Jesus and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in guiding our daily lives.

This Vatican endorsed model for personality transformation is based on Christ's personality and lets the radical new reality of his resurrection shape our personalities. By applying the Self Compass growth tool, your life can be purified and transformed during this Year of Faith.


The Self Compass

LOVE & ASSERTION

Faith is deeply connected to personality health. Faith helps to counter the corrosive effects of anxiety, depression, and anger. The Self Compass promotes personality health and thereby increases a person's faith. 

Love and Assertion are two complementary compass points within every person's Self Compass. What is the connection between faith and Love? In order to love God or another person, we must reach out to them. We must open our hearts. We must risk caring for them. This requires faith! I have counseled hundreds of people who suddenly received this insight and gasped: "Oh no, now I realize I've lived my whole life to be safely self-contained. I've been too afraid to ever really love anyone." 

To grow in Love requires the courage of Assertion. Mary risked trusting the Angel Gabriel's message to her. Though she no doubt felt some fear, and though she certainly didn't know how she could become the Mother of our Lord, she ended the conversation assertively: "May everything you have said about me come true" (Luke 1:38). Mary dared to assertively express faith in the God whom she loved and trusted. We can become more like Mary.

WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH

Spend a few concentrated moments today or tonight hungering and thirsting for Christ’s presence in your life. Don’t be afraid of any Weakness. Integrate your vulnerability and even self-doubts into your faith in God’s Strength. The Catechism says, “Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power” (273). Out of Weakness we are made strong. This humble Strength is what God loves to foster in us. A rhythm between Weakness and Strength never makes us arrogant.  

The Self Compass helps you cooperate with grace, so that you may be transformed in Christ. To help your journey of faith this year, I'm including a link to God and Your Personality: Revised & Expanded Catholic Edition. You can imagine my humble gratitude when I was notified that this book has been added to the Vatican Library. 

Paul Cardinal Poupard of The Vatican has this to say: “God & Your Personality is no New Age influenced waffle clouded in a mystique of blurb, but a useful tool for all those who seek to address personality issues and quench their innate spiritual thirst with the living-water which truly satisfies.”

God and Your Personality