Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Help for Your Future or Present Marriage: Prepare Enrich

Cory Collins is a licensed facilitator of Prepare Enrich. He does not charge for his assistance.
Prepare Enrich is a tool that assesses couple relationships. It is not exactly a test that people can pass or fail, but a device to measure the strengths and possible growth areas of a couple's relationship.
1. What is the Prepare Enrich assessment?
2. How many people have taken the Prepare Enrich assessment?
3. What are the different inventories?
4. What are the major goals of the Prepare Enrich assessment?
5. What relationship areas are assessed by the Inventories?
6. What evidence is there that the Prepare Enrich assessment is valid and reliable?
7. Who developed the Prepare Enrich assessment?
8. How much does it cost to take the Prepare Enrich assessment?
9. How does a couple sign up?
10. What happens next?
1. What is the Prepare Enrich assessment?
The Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment is a program based on a set of five inventories that examine major relationship issues a couple may experience. These inventories must be administered by a trained Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment assessor and include feedback in which the counselor facilitates discussion between the couple based on their inventory results.
2. How many people have taken the Prepare Enrich assessment?
Over 2 million couples (4 million people) have taken the Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment since it began in 1980.
3. What inventories are available?
Depending on your relational situation you will select one of the following:
- Prepare – Pre-marital couples
- Enrich – Married couples with or without children
- Mate – Couples over the age of 50
4. What are the major goals of the Prepare Enrich program?
There are six goals of the Prepare Enrich program. In order to achieve these goals there are also six corresponding couple exercises designed to help couples improve their relationship skills. The six goals are:
1. To explore Relationship Strengths and Growth Areas
2. To learn Assertiveness and Active Listening Skills
3. To learn how to resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
4. To help the couple discuss their Family-of-Origin
5. To help the couple with financial planning and budgeting
6. To focus on personal, couple and family goals
5. What relationship areas are assessed by the Inventories?
The following are the 20 relationship areas assessed in each of the five Couple Inventories:
A. Assessment of Significant Issues for Couples (14 scales)
Conflict Resolution
Personality Issues
Financial Management
Sexual Expectations
Marital Satisfaction
Leisure Activities
Children and Parenting
Family and Friends
Expectations/Cohabitation Issues
Idealistic Distortion
Role Relationship
Spiritual Beliefs
B. Personality Assessment (4 scales):
Self Confidence
Partner Dominance
C. Couple and Family Map (4 scales):
Family-of-Origin Closeness
Family-of-Origin Flexibility
Couple Closeness
Couple Flexibility

6. What evidence is there that the Prepare Enrich assessment is valid and reliable?
An important strength of the Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment is its strong psychometric properties. High levels of reliability and validity have been found for each instrument, making them valuable tools for research as well as clinical use. The national norm base, validity and reliability information are listed below.
National Norms based on:
500,000 couples for Prepare
250,000 couples for Enrich
150,000 couples for Mate
High Levels of Validity and Reliability:
Prepare Enrich has validity in that it discriminates premarital couples that get divorced from those that are happily married with about 80-85% accuracy. Reliability is high (alpha reliability of .80 – .85).
7. Who developed the Prepare Enrich assessment inventories?
David H. Olson, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota & President, Life Innovations; Developed ten diagnostic tools and Circumplex Model; Licensed Consulting Psychologist and Licensed Marital & Family Therapist, State of Minnesota.
Joan M. Druckman, Ph.D
Marriage and Family Counselor, Palo Alto, California; Co-directed study on "Effectiveness of Five Types of Premarital Preparation Programs."
David G. Fournier, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Child and Family Development, Oklahoma State University; completed study of reliability and validity of Prepare. Former Director, Marital & Family Therapy Program.
8. How much does it cost to take the Prepare Enrich assessment?
The company charges $35 per couple. Cory Collins does not charge for his assistance as a facilitator.
9. How does a couple sign up?
A couple may not sign up directly, but only by meeting with any licensed facilitator. The facilitator will register the couple by submitting their email addresses to the company. The company will then email the couple. The couple will pay online and take the inventory online.
10. What happens next?
The facilitator will receive a detailed report from the company. The couple will then meet with the facilitator several times to go over the results and go through the various exercises.
Here is the company’s website:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Simple Ways to Get the Most Out of Today – Author Unknown

John 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
Of course the first step to improving each day is to draw near to God in Bible study and prayer. Effective living focuses on worshiping Him, serving Him, and sharing Him with others every day. Based on that foundation, the following are practical tips (from an unknown author) that can bring satisfying results in each of our lives.
1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day.  And while you walk, smile.  It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.  Talk to God about what is going on in your life.  Buy a lock if you have to.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, “My purpose today is to__________ today.”  “I am thankful for______________.”
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water.  Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds and walnuts.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out credit card.
9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
12.  You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with this question:  “In five years, will this matter?”
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. God heals everything in His own time and way – but you have to ask Him.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!
22. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: “I am thankful for __________.”  “Today I accomplished _________.”
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed or depressed.
25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You’ll be smiling before you know it.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

1 Timothy 3 - Daily Study Themes, Scriptures, and Questions

DAY 1 - The Heart of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:1)
1 Peter 5:1-4
DAY 2 - The Family of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:2-5)
Titus 1:5-11
DAY 3 - The Traits of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:6-7)
Acts 20:28-35
DAY 4 - The Character, Faith, and Behavior of Deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12-13)
Acts 6:1-7
DAY 5 - The Nature and Lifestyle of Their Wives (1 Tim. 3:11)
Titus 2:3-4
DAY 6 - Proper Conduct in God’s Household, the Church (1 Tim. 3:14-15)
Hebrews 12:22-29
DAY 7 - The Mystery of Godliness (1 Tim. 3:16)
Acts 10:36-43

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Discuss “overseer,” “elder,” and “shepherd.” What does each term convey?

Why would a godly man passionately desire to work as an overseer?

What kinds of ungodly motivations does this passage rule out?

Discuss: “An overseer is not perfect, but he is blameless and above reproach.”

Why is it crucial that this man be a faithful husband and effective father?

Describe each quality, its significance, and possible reasons for its inclusion here.

What traits of worldly leaders are not listed here?

Why must a recent convert not be appointed?

What are “outsiders,” and how could they disqualify a man from being an overseer?

How eager is the devil to snare church leaders? Why? How?

What are the spiritual qualities that deacons must have?

How are deacons (the word means “servants”) different from other servants in the church?

In what ways can a wife enhance (or undermine) her husband’s role?

In what sense is the church the pillar and ground of the truth?

How is this ancient hymn about Christ simple? How is it profound?

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Diderot Effect: Having More > Wanting More

Eccl 2:9–11
9 Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. 11 Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.
Below is an article by James Clear.
The Diderot Effect: Why We Want Things We Don’t Need — And What to Do About It
The famous French philosopher Denis Diderot lived nearly his entire life in poverty, but that all changed in 1765.
Diderot was 52 years old and his daughter was about to be married, but he could not afford to provide a dowry. Despite his lack of wealth, Diderot’s name was well-known because he was the co-founder and writer of Encyclop├ędie, one of the most comprehensive encyclopedias of the time.
When Catherine the Great, the emperor of Russia, heard of Diderot’s financial troubles she offered to buy his library from him for £1000 GBP, which is approximately $50,000 USD in 2015 dollars. Suddenly, Diderot had money to spare. 
Shortly after this lucky sale, Diderot acquired a new scarlet robe. That’s when everything went wrong. 
The Diderot Effect
Diderot’s scarlet robe was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that he immediately noticed how out of place it seemed when surrounded by the rest of his common possessions. In his words, there was “no more coordination, no more unity, no more beauty” between his robe and the rest of his items. The philosopher soon felt the urge to buy some new things to match the beauty of his robe. 
He replaced his old rug with a new one from Damascus. He decorated his home with beautiful sculptures and a better kitchen table. He bought a new mirror to place above the mantle and his “straw chair was relegated to the antechamber by a leather chair.”
These reactionary purchases have become known as the Diderot Effect.
The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.
Denis Diderot as depicted by Louis-Michel van Loo in 1767. In this painting Diderot is wearing a robe similar to the one that prompted his famous essay on the Diderot Effect.
Why We Want Things We Don’t Need
Like many others, I have fallen victim to the Diderot Effect. I recently bought a new car and I ended up purchasing all sorts of additional things to go inside it. I bought a tire pressure gauge, a car charger for my cell phone, an extra umbrella, a first aid kit, a pocket knife, a flashlight, emergency blankets, and even a seatbelt cutting tool.
Allow me to point out that I owned my previous car for nearly 10 years and at no point did I feel that any of the previously mentioned items were worth purchasing. And yet, after getting my shiny new car, I found myself falling into the same consumption spiral as Diderot.
You can spot similar behaviors in many other areas of life:
  • You buy a new dress and now you have to get shoes and earrings to match.
  • You buy a CrossFit membership and soon you’re paying for foam rollers, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and paleo meal plans.
  • You buy your kid an American Girl doll and find yourself purchasing more accessories than you ever knew existed for dolls.
  • You buy a new couch and suddenly you’re questioning the layout of your entire living room. Those chairs? That coffee table? That rug? They all gotta go.
Life has a natural tendency to become filled with more. We are rarely looking to downgrade, to simplify, to eliminate, to reduce. Our natural inclination is always to accumulate, to add, to upgrade, and to build upon.
In the words of sociology professor Juliet Schor, “the pressure to upgrade our stock of stuff is relentlessly unidirectional, always ascending.” 
Mastering the Diderot Effect
The Diderot Effect tells us that your life is only going to have more things fighting to get in it, so you need to to understand how to curate, eliminate, and focus on the things that matter.
Reduce exposure. Nearly every habit is initiated by a trigger or cue. One of the quickest ways to reduce the power of the Diderot Effect is to avoid the habit triggers that cause it in the first place. Unsubscribe from commercial emails. Call the magazines that send you catalogs and opt out of their mailings. Meet friends at the park rather than the mall. Block your favorite shopping websites using tools like Freedom.
Buy items that fit your current system. You don’t have to start from scratch each time you buy something new. When you purchase new clothes, look for items that work well with your current wardrobe. When you upgrade to new electronics, get things that play nicely with your current pieces so you can avoid buying new chargers, adapters, or cables.
Set self-imposed limits. Live a carefully constrained life by creating limitations for you to operate within. Juliet Schor provides a great example with this quote…
“Imagine the following. A community group in your town organizes parents to sign a pledge agreeing to spend no more than $50 on athletic shoes for their children. The staff at your child’s day-care center requests a $75 limit on spending for birthday parties. The local school board rallies community support behind a switch to school uniforms. The PTA gets 8o percent of parents to agree to limit their children’s television watching to no more than one hour per day.
Do you wish someone in your community or at your children’s school would take the lead in these or similar efforts? I think millions of American parents do. Television, shoes, clothes, birthday parties, athletic uniforms-these are areas where many parents feel pressured into allowing their children to consume at a level beyond what they think is best, want to spend, or can comfortably afford.”
—Juliet Schor, The Overspent American
Buy One, Give One. Each time you make a new purchase, give something an old item away. Get a new TV? Give your old one away rather than moving it to another room. The idea is to prevent your number of items from growing. Always be curating your life to include only the things that bring you joy and happiness.
Go one month without buying something new. Don’t allow yourself to buy any new items for one month. Instead of buying a new lawn mower, rent one from a neighbor. Get your new shirt from the thrift store rather than the department store. The more we restrict ourselves, the more resourceful we become.
Let go of wanting things. There will never be a level where you will be done wanting things. There is always something to upgrade to. Get a new Honda? You can upgrade to a Mercedes. Get a new Mercedes? You can upgrade to a Bentley. Get a new Bentley? You can upgrade to a Ferrari. Get a new Ferrari? Have you thought about buying a private plane? Realize that wanting is just an option your mind provides, not an order you have to follow.
How to Overcome the Consumption Tendency
Our natural tendency is to consume more, not less. Given this tendency, I believe that taking active steps to reduce the flow of unquestioned consumption makes our lives better.
Personally, my goal is not to reduce life to the fewest amount of things, but to fill it with the optimal amount of things. I hope this article will help you consider how to do the same.
In Diderot’s words, “Let my example teach you a lesson. Poverty has its freedoms; opulence has its obstacles.”

  1. In addition to her payment for the library, Catherine the Great asked Diderot to keep the books until she needed them and offered to pay him a yearly salary to act as her librarian. (Source)
  2. Diderot’s scarlet robe is frequently described as a gift from a friend. However, I could find no original source claiming it was a gift nor any mention of the friend who supplied the robe. If you happen to know any historians specializing in robe acquisitions, feel free to point them my way so we can clarify the mystery of the source of Diderot’s famous scarlet robe.
  3. The quotes from Denis Diderot in this article come from his essay, “Regrets for my Old Dressing Gown.”
  4. The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need” by Juliet Schor. Chapter 6.
  5. Thanks to my friend Joshua Becker for originally sparking my interest in the Diderot Effect by writing his own article on the topic.