Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘Bible’

What the Bible Says About Counseling

Source:  Bill Bellican

God’s Word has much to say about His Truth/Counsel, His willingness and ability to help us come into the light, and how desperately we have need for His help to be able to live a meaningful, balanced, and Godly life.

[Selected Scriptures – NIV]

  • Genesis 18:14a

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

  • Job 12:22

He (God) reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.

  • Psalm 16:7a

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me…

  • Psalm 43:3a

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me.

  • Psalm 119:24

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors

  • Psalm 119:130a

The unfolding of your words gives light.

  • Proverbs 2:6

For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

  • Proverbs 8:14, 17b

Counsel and sound judgement are mine; I have understanding and power… those who seek me find me.

  • Proverbs 12:18

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

  • Proverbs 12:25

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

  • Jeremiah 17:9-10a,12-14

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.   Who can understand it?  I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind… Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

  • Jeremiah 20:12a

O Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind…

  • Daniel 2:22

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.

  • Micah 7:8b-9b

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light… He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

  • Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

  • Luke 13:2

When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.”

  • John 8:32,36

Jesus said… “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

  • John 10:10

Jesus said… “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

  • John 14:6a

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

  • John 16:13a

“But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

  • Acts 26:17b-18

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

  • Romans 8:6

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

  • Romans 12:2b

…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

  • 1 Corinthians 4:5b

He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness…

  • 2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.   On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • Galatians 5:1a

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

  • Galatians 5:1a

You, my brothers, were called to be free.

  • Ephesians 1:18a

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…

  • Ephesians 3:17b-21

And I pray that you… may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory… for ever and ever!

  • Ephesians 6:11-12

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

  • Philippians 4:13

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

  • Hebrews 4:12-13

For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him whom we must give account.

  • James 1:5-6a

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…

  • 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

  • 1 John 5:6b

… the Spirit is the truth.

 

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When Bad Things Happen

(by Billy Graham Rapid Response Team)

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake and the remaining devastation, many people ask, “Where was God?” Through life, there are many of our own personal “earthquakes” and other disasters, whether it be the death of a loved one, an unwanted divorce, a wayward child, or a terminal illness, to name a few. Read below for some of the most commonly-asked questions about life’s challenges and get biblical answers.

What does the Bible say about why we suffer? God created us because He loves us. God never intended for tragedy and prejudice, wars and hatred, lust and greed, jealousy and pride. God meant for Earth to be a paradise, a place where here would be no death.

But a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God. This act of rebellion said, “I don’t need you, God. I can build my world without you.” As a result, mankind must suffer and die. Physical death is just the death of the body, but the spirit lives on. If your spirit is separated from God for eternity, it will be lost forever.

God has provided a rescue in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Gen 3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalms 46:1-2

Is God angry with me?
No, God is not angry with you. In John 3:16, the Bible says that He loves everyone. However, because we live in an imperfect world, we all deal with good and bad. God is aware of everything that happens and has the ability to take what was intended for evil and use for good. The evil in this world does not render God powerless. It is quite the opposite. He promises to not only be with us but, if we are willing to live life as He created it to be lived: in relationship with Him, to guide us into a life where we can have peace and live without fear.

John 3:16-17; Romans 8:28; James 1:1-4; John 10:10

Why me?
It often feels like difficult circumstances are directed at us. We live in an imperfect world, and the Bible says that it rains on the just and the unjust. We all live through painful and uncomfortable things. Who are we trusting when those things happen to us? Are we self-reliant or do we rely on God? If we reach out to God in time of need, then we are accessing the One who created the universe. The Bible says that He is waiting for our response. He has already made the invitation through His Son Jesus. Why you? Because He loves you. He wants you to look to Him so He can rescue you and bring you peace.

Romans 5:8; John 11:1-44

What good can come out of this?
There are no easy answers, just simple ones: growth and glory. We grow because when life hurts, we pay attention and we find out what is real and whom we can trust. In the Bible, in James 1:1- 4 tells us when we face trials, we can see it as a positive thing in our life because ultimately we are going to grow from it. That’s hard to realize when our pain is all we can see and feel. But, after you’ve experienced life as a follower of Jesus, and you’ve experienced His faithfulness, then you know it’s true.

The other answer is a bit more complicated, and it is found in a Bible story about a blind man that Jesus heals in John 9. The man didn’t do anything to deserve to be blind, and when asked why the man was blind, Jesus answered, “So you can see who I am.” He healed the blind man so that the blind man and everyone around him would be amazed by the supernatural power of Jesus and know that He is Who He say He is. It was the best gift He could give them, and us. We are attracted to greatness. God is the greatest of them all and He desires to be with us.

James 1:1-4; John 9; Romans 8:28

How do I recover spiritually from this?
The natural response is to deny that you are affected by the crisis. The truth is that crisis affects everybody it touches, but it affects each person differently. David, in Psalms, tells his soul to praise the Lord. He was in a dark place emotionally, but he knew that praising God was necessary and that calling on Him could effect the outcome of the situation. Psalm 42 and Psalm 88 are Psalms of lament. The writers were despondent, yet they sought God in spite of feelings. Counselors will tell you that feeling will follow fact. So, there are some things that we should do to recover:

” Acknowledge your need for God.
” Read God’s Word, the Bible (or listen to it on tape or DVD. Psalms is a good place to start).
” See if there are others who will pray with you.
” Look for ways to serve others.
” Stay connected with a body of Christ followers (small group, activity group, service group, church).
” Find small ways to be thankful and ways to express that to God and others.

Psalm 9:10; 34:17; 50:15; 145:18-19; James 5:13-16

How can I be strong when my life is falling apart?
When life is difficult, we look to God and find out that He has grace. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Bible tell us that His grace is sufficient for you, for his power is made perfect in our weakness. First, we must give our situation and life to God; this is the hardest part, because we feel more secure of we think we are in control of things. Once we give these things over to Him, He is going to give us the ability to stand up and endure.

It is hard to admit weakness. That is what it takes to act in humility and allow God to take control of your situation. Acknowledge to God that He needs to bear your burdens because you can’t anymore. Jesus longs for you to come to Him and know Him personally.

Matthew 11:28-29; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Peter 5:7

Meditating on God's Word

(Adapted from The Disciplines of The Holy Spirit by Siang-Yang Tan)

Without meditation, the ways for appropriating God’s Word will be futile and unfruitful. Prayer, as well, can be empty and devoid of the Holy Spirit’s power without meditation on the Bible.

George Muller made a significant discovery about the critical importance of meditation and the crucial connection between meditation and prayer that revolutionized his spiritual life.

Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to the reading of God’s Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warmed, reproved, instructed, and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord�.Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God, and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts.

Meditation is pondering over Scripture verses or passages in such a way that the written Word of God becomes a living Word of God applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The two primary words for meditation in the Bible mean “to murmur or mutter” and “to speak to one’s self.” Meditation is a process of thinking through language that takes place in the heart or inner life. The truth being meditated upon moves from the mouth (murmuring), to the mind (reflective thinking), and finally to the heart (outer action).

This process is sometimes referred to as lectio divina (divine reading) where we listen to Scripture deeply with the ears of our hearts. We are like Elijah, listening for the still, small voice of God, the faint murmuring sound that is God’s Word for us, the voice of the Holy Spirit touching our hearts. This gentle listening is an attunement to the Presence of God in Scripture. Once a word or passage in the Bible speaks to us in a personal way, we can take it and begin to ponder it in our hearts, soaking ourselves in the passage. We can ask, “What is happening here? What are the sounds, smells, feelings? Why is God focusing me on this verse or idea? What does He want me to understand? Why do I need this word from God? How do I respond? Is there an example for me to follow, a sin to avoid, a command to obey, a promise to claim?” In meditation, we seek to enter into the Scripture and live in it. As we move from detached observation to active participation in the Scripture, our imaginations become active. Some have objected to using the imagination out of fear of its “subjective” focus and potential for self-deception or use by the enemy. But Jesus appealed to the imaginations of His listeners as He taught and told parables. While there is reason for caution and safeguards, we believe God can sanctify the imagination, just as He does our human reason, and work His good purposes through it.

Here are some simple steps we encourage for meditating or “living into Scripture”:

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to you and guide you as you read a passage of Scripture.

2. Read through the passage you are meditating on several times, listening for the still, small voice of God and waiting upon the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ponder the verse or two that grabs your attention or touches you in some way. Picture what is happening.

4. Put yourself in the picture. Ask questions. Allow a dialogue to unfold inside of you; let your imagination and senses be instruments for revelation from the Holy Spirit.

5. Be open to the ways God may want to speak to you directly through His Word through a personal encounter as you ask questions as you place yourself in the scene, even perhaps as Jesus comes directly to you in the scene in which you have entered.

6. Take time to share what God has said to you with an accountability partner or wise friend. This provides protection by checking what comes from your time of meditation, helps to reinforce God’s Word to you, and encourages and blesses others in their journey of faith.

The Holy Spirit can speak the living Word of God to your heart. The Holy Spirit is the One who enables us to understand the thoughts and things of God. Without His ministry as Teacher of truth and Revealer of God’s mind and heart to us, we will not be able to know or understand God or spiritual things (see 1 Cor. 2:6-16). With this in mind, always begin your reading, study, and meditation by asking for the Spirit’s illumination and guidance, and throughout the process of getting into God’s Word, be sensitive to His voice speaking to you!

God's Purpose Behind Your Problems

Life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you – depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:

1. God uses problems to DIRECT you. Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” Pr. 20:30 (GN)

2. God uses problems to INSPECT you. People are like tea bags… if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.” James 1:2-3 (NCV)

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you. Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It’s likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something… health, money, a relationship … by losing it. “… It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.” Ps 119:71-72 (LB)

4. God uses problems to PROTECT you. A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem – but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management’s actions were eventually discovered. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” Gen 50:20 (NIV)

5. God uses problems to PERFECT you. Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you’re going to take with you into eternity. “We can rejoice when we run into problems …they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” Rom. 5:3-4 (LB)

Article Source: Unknown

BOUNDARIES – What Are They?

(Adapted from Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend)

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. 

We are responsible to others and for ourselves. “Carry each other’s burdens, ” says Galatians 6:2, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse shows our responsibility to one another.

Many times others have “burdens” that are too big to bear. They do not have enough strength, resources, or knowledge to carry the load, and they need help. Denying ourselves to do for others what they cannot do for themselves is showing the sacrificial love of Christ. This is what Christ did for us. He did what we could not do for ourselves; He saved us. This is being responsible “to.”

On the other hand, verse 5 says, “… each one should carry his own load.” Everyone has responsibilities that only he or she can carry. These things are our own particular “load” that we need to take daily responsibility for and work out. No one can do certain things for us. We have to take ownership of certain aspects of life that are our own “load.”

Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Boundaries are not walls. The Bible does not say that we are to be “walled off” from others; in fact, it says that we are to be “one” with them (John 17:11). We are to be in community with them. But in every community, all members have their own space and property. The important thing is that property lines/boundaries be permeable enough to allow passing in and out, but strong enough to keep out danger.

Examples of boundaries:

Words – The most basic boundary-setting word is “no.” Being clear about your no – and your yes – is a theme that runs throughout the Bible (Matt. 5:37; James 5:12). “NO” is a confrontational word. The Bible says that we are to confront people we love, saying, “No, that behavior is not okay. I will not participate in that.” The word “no” is also important in setting limits on abuse. People with poor boundaries struggle with saying no to the control, pressure, demands, and sometimes the real needs of others. They feel that is they say no to someone, they will endanger their relationship with that person, so they passively comply but inwardly resent. If you cannot say no to this external or internal pressure, you have lost control of your property and are not enjoying the fruit of “self-control.” Your words also define your property for others as you communicate your feelings, intentions, or dislikes. It is difficult for people to know where you stand when you do not use words to define your property. God even does this when He says, “I like this and I hate that,” or “I will do this, and I will not do that.”

Truth – Knowing the truth about God and His property puts limits on you and shows you His boundaries. To be in touch with God’s Truth is to be in touch with reality, and to live in accord with that reality makes for a better life (Ps. 119:2, 45). Satan is the great distorter of reality. Honesty about who you are gives you the biblical value of integrity.

Geographical Distance – Sometimes physically removing yourself from a situation will help maintain boundaries. You can do this to replenish yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually after you have given to your limit, as Jesus often did. Or, you can remove yourself to get away from danger and put limits on evil. The Bible urges us to separate from those who continue to hurt us and to create a safe place for ourselves. Removing yourself from the situation will also cause the one who is left behind to experience a loss of fellowship that may lead to changed behavior (Matt. 18:17 – 18; I Cor. 5:11-13). When a relationship is abusive, many times the only way to finally show the other person that your boundaries are real is to create space until they are ready to deal with the problem. The Bible supports the idea of limiting togetherness for the sake of “binding evil.”

Time – Taking time off from a person, or a project, can be a way of regaining ownership over some out-of-control aspect of your life where boundaries need to be set.

Emotional Distance – Emotional distance is a temporary boundary to give your heart the space it needs to be safe; it is never a permanent way of living. Sometimes in abusive marriages the abused spouse needs to keep emotional distance until the abusive partner begins to face his or her problems and become trustworthy. You should not continue to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment. If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should wait until it is safe and until the real patterns of change have been demonstrated before you go back. Many people are too quick to trust someone in the name of forgiveness and not make sure that the other is producing “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Forgive, but guard your heart until you see sustained change.

Other People – You need to depend on others to help you set and keep boundaries. For many, a support system gives the strength to say no to abuse and control for the first time in one’s life. There are two reasons why you need others to help with boundaries. The first is that your most basic need in life is for relationship. The other reason we need others is because we need new input and teaching. Boundaries are not built in a vacuum; creating boundaries always involves a support network.

Consequences – Trespassing on other people’s property carries consequences. “No Trespassing” signs usually carry a threat of prosecution if someone steps over the boundaries. The Bible teaches this principle over and over, saying that if we walk one way, this will happen, and if we walk another way, something else will happen. Just as the Bible sets consequences for certain behaviors, we need to back up our boundaries with consequences. God does not enable irresponsible behavior. Consequences give some good “barbs” to fences. They let people know the seriousness of the trespass and the seriousness of our respect for ourselves. This teaches them that our commitment to living according to helpful values is something we hold dear and will fight to protect and guard.

What falls within our boundaries; what are we responsible for?

Feelings – Feelings should neither be ignored nor placed in charge. The Bible says to “own” your feelings and be aware of them. Feelings come from your heart and can tell you the state of your relationships. They can tell you if things are going well, or if there is a problem. But, your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as your problem so you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to.

Attitudes and Beliefs – Attitudes have to do with your orientation toward something, the stance you take toward others, God, life, work, and relationships. Beliefs are anything that you accept as true. We need to own our attitudes and convictions because they fall within our property line. We are the ones who feel their effect, and the only ones who can change them. People with boundary problems usually have distorted attitudes about responsibility. They feel that to hold people responsible for their feelings, choices, and behaviors is mean.

Behaviors – Behaviors have consequences. To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behaviors is to render them powerless.

Choices – We need to take responsibility for our choices. A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else. We think someone else is in control, thus relieving us of our basic responsibility. We need to realize that we are in control of our choices no matter how we feel. Throughout Scripture, people are reminded of their choices and asked to take responsibility for them. Making decisions based on others’ approval or on guilt breeds resentment. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for our choices. We are the ones who make them. We are the ones who must live with our consequences.

Values – What we value is what we love and assign importance to. Often we do not take responsibility for what we value. When we take responsibility for out-of-control behavior caused by loving the wrong things, or valuing things that have no lasting value, when we confess that we have a heart that values things that will not satisfy, we can receive help from God to “create a new heart” within us. Boundaries help us not to deny but to own our old hurtful values so God can change them.

Limits – Tow aspects of limits stand out when it comes to creating better boundaries. The first is setting limits on others. In reality, setting limits on others is a misnomer. We can’t do that. What we can do is set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can’t change them or make them behave right. God sets standards, but He lets people be who they are and then separates Himself from them when they misbehave. But God limits His exposure to evil, unrepentant people, as should we. Scripture is full of admonitions to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways. The other aspect of limits is setting our own internal limits. We need to have spaces inside ourselves where we can have a feeling, an impulse, or a desire, without acting it out. We need self-control without repression. We need to be able to say “no” to ourselves. This includes both our destructive desires and some good ones that are not wise to pursue at a given time.

Talents – Our talents are clearly within our boundaries and are our responsibility. Yet taking ownership of them is often frightening and always risky. The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:23, 26-28) says that we are accountable — not to mention much happier – when we are experiencing our gifts and being productive. It takes work, practice, learning, prayer, resources, and grace to overcome the fear of failure that the “wicked and lazy” servant gave in to. He was not chastised for being afraid; we are all afraid when trying something new and difficult. He was chastised for not confronting his fear and trying the best he could.

Thoughts – Establishing boundaries in thinking involves three things.

  1. We must own our own thoughts. Many people have not taken ownership of their own thinking processes. They are mechanically thinking the thoughts of others without ever examining them. Certainly we should listen to the thoughts of others and weigh them; but we should never “give our minds” over to anyone.
  2. We must grow in knowledge and expand our minds. One area in which we need to grow is in knowledge of God and His Word. We must use our brains to have better lives and glorify God.
  3. We must clarify distorted thinking. We all have a tendency to not see things clearly, to think and perceive in distorted ways. Taking ownership of our thinking in relationships requires being active in checking out where we may be wrong. Also we need to make sure that we are communicating our thoughts to others. Many people think that others should be able to read their minds and know what they want. This leads to frustration.

Desires – Our desires lie within our boundaries. Each of us has different desires, wants, dreams, wishes, goals, plans, hungers, and thirsts. We all want to be satisfied, but too often we are not. Part of the problem lies in the lack of structured boundaries within our personality. We can’t define who the real “me” is and what we truly desire. Many desires masquerade as the real thing. We often do not actively seek our desires from God, and those desires are mixed up with things that we do not really need. God is truly interested in our desires; He made them. God loves to give gifts to His children, but He is a wise Parent. He wants to make sure His gifts are right for us. To know what to ask for, we have to be in touch with who we really are and what are our real motives.

Love – Many people have difficulty giving and receiving love because of hurt and fear. Having closed their heart to others, they feel empty and meaningless. We need to take responsibility for our God-given loving function and use it. Love concealed or love rejected can both kill us. Many people do not take ownership for how they resist love. They have a lot of love around them, but do not realize that their loneliness is a result of their own lack of responsiveness. Often they will say, “Others’ love can not ‘get in.'” This statement negates their responsibility to respond. We maneuver subtly to avoid responsibility in love; we need to claim our hearts as our property and work on our weaknesses in that area.

Considering all of the above, setting boundaries and maintaining them is hard work. But it is worth it!

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