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Behavior linked to ‘unique design’ revealed in Scripture, author says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–After years of research, Selwyn Hughes believes he has found the biblical basis for why people behave the way the do.

“A unique design has gone into the construction of our beings,” said the Wales native and author of “Every Day with Jesus,” a bimonthly devotional guide read by half a million people. “God made us to function in a certain way, and unless we understand God’s signature on our personality, then we will never be able to understand why we do what we do.”

Hughes provides answers to how problems arise in one’s personality and God’s plan for overcoming them in his new Broadman & Holman book, “Christ Empowered Living.” He taught a five-day seminar on the subject during Church Music Leadership Conference, July 14-20 at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico.

Hughes said he is concerned that the contemporary church takes too simplistic an approach to dealing with problems.

“When people in our churches have problems, what we try to do is take a text from the Bible and, like a Band-Aid, put it on something that requires radical spiritual surgery.”

He called that the “evangelical disease” or “giving answers before you understand the problems.”

Hughes said people are designed in five areas of functioning — as physical beings, longing beings, thinking beings, choosing beings and feeling beings.

“When we understand those areas of functioning, then and only then can we understand how our problems arise.”

First, because people are physical beings, Hughes believes it is important to determine whether psychological symptoms are the result of a physical problem.

If a doctor declares a person physically fit, the search continues, he said.

Hughes traces the lot of people’s psychological problems back to the fall of Adam and Eve.

“We are longing to get back to what was lost in the Garden of Eden, and we will never really experience life to the fullest until we get back to the way God designed us.”

Hughes believes Adam and Eve had it made before they took a bite out of the apple.

Before they sinned “they were standing on a stool in the Garden of Eden with three solid legs,” he said.

“When Adam and Eve sinned, the legs of the stool broke beneath their feet and the result was, instead of security, they experienced insecurity; instead of self-worth, they experienced inferiority; and instead of significance, they experienced insignificance,” he said.

Though they don’t know it, all people are clamoring for a reconnection to God, Hughes said. The longings are merely expressed through the personality in worldly ways.

“Every one of us has an ache in our soul that only God can meet,” he said.
Hughes said he believes the biggest problem in marriages today is not “finances, communication or sex, but one person trying to get their need for security met in their partner and not God.”

Psychological problems arise from these deep longings, he said, because people deny them, reduce them or redirect them.

“We deny them because to admit them exposes a dependency on someone or something else or a feeling of helplessness that we abhor. We reduce them to a level more human like the need for attention. Or we redirect them into other things like achievement, career, accomplishments.”

Hughes said while people are also thinking beings, “the problem, of course, is we think incorrectly.”

As choosing beings, he said, “When God made us, he did not make us like a machine or computer to be manipulated. He gave us a free will.”

Fifth, Hughes said people are feeling beings. “Everyone experiences both negative and positive feelings, and some of the negative feelings can become incapacitating and hinder our daily functioning.”

Negative emotions, he said, are the result of “frustrations we feel because we cannot reach the goal we need to reach to feel good about ourselves.”

Hughes listed three groups of negative emotions and what he believes they signal:

— Anger, frustration, resentment and irritation are the result of blocked goals. “Whenever a goal we foolishly believe we must meet to feel good about ourselves is blocked, these emotions occur.”

— Guilt or shame results from an unreachable goal. “When we believe, again foolishly, that we have to reach a certain goal to experience personal intactness, these emotions are manifested.”

— Anxiety and fear indicate uncertain goals. “We are uncertain that we can reach the goal and often this uncertainty reveals itself in a fear of failure.”

In his book, Hughes guides people through the steps they need to take to re-establish or maintain a close relationship with God.

“Our problems can be resolved and overcome only when we decide to put Christ where he belongs, at the center,” Hughes writes. “Christ must be master of our minds and he must be master of our wills.”

In addition to his daily devotional guides and Christ Empowered Living, Hughes is author of 12 Broadman & Holman books, including “Every Day Light” and “Water for the Soul.” Broadman & Holman is the trade publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Church Music Leadership Conference was sponsored by LifeWay’s music ministries department.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SELWYN HUGHES.

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  • Terri Lackey