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« Why Laity Lodge? Tying Up Some Loose Ends | Home | Malibu Presbyterian Church Update »

Laity Lodge: Faith, Psychology, Art, and My Wife

By Mark D. Roberts | Thursday, October 25, 2007

Part 12 of series: Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series

To read this series, Why Move? Stewardship, Wineskins, and the Enigmatic Will of God, from the beginning, click here.

With this post I want to begin to explain why I believed (and still do believe!) that God was calling me to Laity Lodge. From here on I’m planning to provide, not a chronological description of my discernment process, but a rationale. I want to lay out some of the reasons for this move.

In my last post I mentioned that Laity Lodge was an exciting opportunity for me and my family. Yes, my family would experience the sadness of leaving friends and family behind. And they would not have the immediate benefits I would experience as I began to work for Laity Lodge. But I believed that there were good things for my family if we were to make this move, especially for my wife, Linda.

For one thing, I was convinced that Laity Lodge would be an ideal place, not only for me to use my gifts for God’s kingdom, but also for my wife, Linda, to do the same. This was a crucial part of my decision-making process, as well as in Linda’s. In California, she had many opportunities both for professional fulfillment as a Marriage and Family Therapist and for doing various kinds of ministry (retreat speaking, spiritual direction, mentoring, integration of faith and art, etc.). If I was going to make a move, my new situation had to be right for Linda as well. For me, this was a matter of our stewardship of our gifts, not just mine of mine.

Ever since our first visit to Laity Lodge, Linda had loved that ministry. Its sense of peace, prayerfulness, beauty, and freedom touched her heart. In fact, Linda attended a women’s retreat at Laity Lodge in 2005, where she had a transformational experience of God’s grace. In particular, the speaker for that retreat, Marjory Bankson, helped Linda feel confident in her calling as a minister of Christ. (In a sweet bit of divine providence, next summer Linda will speak at a Laity Lodge women’s retreat, along with Marjory.)

Laity Lodge also offered Linda an unusual opportunity to develop her unusual combination of gifts and interests. She is, as I already mentioned, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has worked for years on the integration of faith and psychology. Laity Lodge has a long history of drawing together evangelical faith and an openness to insights from psychology. In fact, in many of the first retreats at Laity Lodge, Bible teachers were teamed up with Christian psychologists to provide a broad perspective on Christian wholeness.

Laity Lodge provides a safe place for people to share their spiritual journeys without having to pretend that they’re perfect Christians. The willingness of key leaders of Laity Lodge, most of all its founder, Howard Butt Jr., to share their struggles has given permission to others to do the same. The result has been authentic growth in faith and in personal and relational wholeness. Linda, more than anybody I know, is willing to be open and honest about what’s real in her life, even as she encourages others to do the same. Thus she fits Laity Lodge to a ‘T.’

My wife is also an artist, with a special love for watercolor painting. (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember Linda’s marvelous paintings of the Stations of the Cross.) She has also used art in her teaching in churches and retreats. Experiencing art, she believes, can help people grow in their relationship with God.

cody-center-laity-lodgeSo then there’s Laity Lodge, which, more than any similar ministry I’ve ever known, values art and its relationship to faith. For years Laity Lodge retreats have included fine artists who both share their work and help retreatants to venture into new artistic expressions. These experiences have often been transformational  for people as they discover new areas of giftedness and grace. Several years ago Laity Lodge built the Cody Center in honor of one of its beloved former directors, Bill Cody. The Cody Center includes a fantastic building for concerts and art shows, as well as two studios where retreat goers can try their hand at a variety of artistic efforts. (The picture to the right shows part of the Cody Center through the trees. In the background you can see the roof of the main building. To the right is one of the art studios.)

I could keep on going here, since Laity Lodge also provides a venue for Linda to teach, to co-host retreats, to meet with individuals as they seek God’s direction for their lives, and so on. You can surely see why I came to believe that a move to Laity Lodge offered wonderful possibilities, not only for me, but also for Linda.

In my next post I’ll explain further why I’m convinced that Laity Lodge provides an opportune context for me to be an effective steward of the gifts God has given me.

Topics: Why Move? |

4 Responses to “Laity Lodge: Faith, Psychology, Art, and My Wife”

  1. Mike Hess Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Dr. Roberts,

    Thank you for your blog and thank you for your work in your most recent publication “Can We Trust the Gospels”. I found it to be incredibly helpful and insightful.

    I am a bit concerned though about you and your wife being involved in the integration of secular psychology (which is inherently anti-Christian). Do you really believe that we need to go outside of the Bible in order deal with sin issues regarding our behavior? Do you believe that meds, psychotherapy, and self-worth are the answers to dealing with man who is inherently sinful and totally depraved? I personally believe that the Church in general has suffered greatly with the integration of psychology and biblical faith. We have diagnosed sin instead of dealing with it biblically. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.

    Again, thank you for your work your commitment to our Lord and His Word.

    Mike Hess

  2. Dale Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Certainly many people do not respect the body that God gave them. A healthy understanding of self-worth can help someone to understand why they were created. A therapist does not have to go outside the bible to treat others. My wife and I have a Christian Therapist and her advice is never contrary to the bible or else we would not be meeting with her.

  3. Mike Hess Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 1:12 pm


    I would agree that we have “worth”…but our worth comes from God, not ourselves. I think that you would agree with that. I have no problem with treating our bodies as good stewards. That is exactly why I try to make to the gym 5-6 days a week and follow a somewhat strict diet. The one issue that I would have though is the one of calling someone a “therapist” who is dealing with issues regarding behavior. Scripture never admonishes us to seek “therapy”. Nor are we ever promised “recovery” from sins…rather we are promised deliverance and forgiveness.


  4. Mark Roberts Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 2:22 pm


    Thanks for your comment.

    Of course it all depends on what one means by integrating pscyhology and faith. You’re right in saying that some of this integration has been unhelpful, since some has not started with a Biblical understanding of human nature. If one looks to psychology to deal with the problem of sin, then one is looking in the wrong place. The starting place, I agree, needs to be with a right understanding of who we are as human beings: created good in God’s image but broken and tarnished by sin. Psychology, which is, literally, the study of the psyche, the mind or soul, can be helpful with other things that aren’t simply a matter of sin. A right understanding of the complexities of the human psyche can help us become better and healthier people, much as a right understanding of the human body can help us become better and healthier people.

    I also think psychology can, when rightly understood, help us grow in our faith. For example, I have known people who, though they are Christians, have an wrong view of God. This view can and should be addressed through Scripture. But many people can be helped by realizing that their wrong view of God comes, in part, from projecting onto God things they experienced with their own parents. This realization can help people, not only think rightly, but also ask the Lord for healing and transformation.

    So, you’re right to be careful about the integration of psychology and faith. But I do think there are ways in which the study of the psyche can help us to be more the people God has intended us to be.


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