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Posts tagged ‘truth’

THE SEARCH FOR FREEDOM: Demolishing Strongholds

(Adapted from the The Search for Freedom by Robert McGee)

Strongholds are those things which control us –they are compulsions.  Compulsions are those behaviors that we regret doing, but continue doing.  No matter how negative these behaviors are to us and no matter how we hate them, we still do them.  When we were very young, we developed patterns of responding to two worlds: our inner world and the outer world.  For most of us, the inner world of our thoughts, dreams, feelings, fears, and imagination is even more powerful than the outer world of people, places, and things.  As we move through each world, we encounter pain and pleasure.  Although we gravitate toward that which gives us pleasure, pain is usually a much greater motivator.  This is especially true of emotional pain.  The way we respond to emotional pain creates the most important behavioral patterns we have.  It is, in fact, these patterns that create the core relationship problems in our lives.  I can tell what I really believe by how I respond to life, not what I say I believe.  Here’s how the process usually works:

1) We are born and know little if anything about truth;  2) As we’re growing up, the people around us teach us what life is all about – Who I am, Who to trust, What’s good or bad, What I’m worth, What life and this world is all about…and so forth;  3) The things we are told become a system of beliefs upon which we evaluate all new incoming information accepted or rejected as we compare it with our basic beliefs (i.e., Basic Beliefs vs. New Information); 4) Our definition of “truth” becomes whatever it is that we have been taught, and our beliefs begin to dictate our behavior.  Then, as other people respond to our behavior, their responses tend to reinforce what we believe to be true.

In John 8:32, Jesus says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Is it possible to hear truth and not be free?  Sure it is!  It’s not enough to intellectually know truth.  We must know the truth experientially as well.  Intellectual knowledge can become dangerous if it is not put into practice.  Many people think their intellectual knowledge of Scripture makes them more spiritually mature than others.  Yet such people are not always better off for all their so-called knowledge.

God’s Word can be profitable only as the Holy Spirit provides understanding.  Scriptural principles that are learned and applied apart from direct interaction with God may be worthless and perhaps even destructive. But when we include God in the learning process, He helps us know and experience the truth.

God makes it clear that freedom is possible if we only put what we know into practice.  Although strongholds exist and hold power over people, they are problems that can be overcome.

In 2 Cor 10:3-5, God’s promise is:  “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  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.”

Contrasted against the ineffective weapons of this world, God’s weapons wield His power.  And because His power is infinitely stronger than the power of the flesh, only His weapons are capable of destroying strongholds.  These strongholds are so named because they are stronger than the flesh.  It takes a higher power to destroy them. The flesh is no match for the power of any spirit – God’s or otherwise.  Strongholds exist because of the influence of ungodly supernatural forces.  They can only be destroyed by God’s Spirit, Who is not only infinitely powerful but also is motivated by love.  God is Truth.  Satan is a liar.  As long as we believe Satan’s deceptions, we will not experience the freedom God intends for our lives.  We will live instead as slaves to the strongholds that are built upon false beliefs.  So many of the false beliefs we suffer from are negative messages we learned as children that continue to control us.  That’s why it is so essential to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).  This is a key step.  It is one of those specific truths that must be experienced – not simply absorbed intellectually.  Spiritual maturity means consistently conforming one’s own thought life to the thoughts of God.

THE C.R.O.P. PROCESS – CONFESSION,  REPENTANCE,  OBEDIENCE,  PRAISE

Confession. To confess literally means “to agree with God.”  We need to agree with God that our strongholds are evil.  We need to acknowledge our sinful behavior as a major obstacle on our road to freedom.  True confession of sin is more than agreeing with God about the actuality of sin.  It must go beyond and help us to realize the reality of sin’s destructiveness.  Until we see evil for what it is, we will never understand the full depth of God’s forgiveness.  In addition to helping us see the destructiveness of our sin, confession helps us by revealing the connective ness of our sins.  We may confess the sin of lying, and God may show how the lying is connected to pride or a need to keep everyone pleased with our performance.  Our sins are usually connected to other sins.  If we allow God to show us the connections, we can clear out a network of evil from our lives.

With confession we are dependent on the Holy Spirit to show us: (1) our surface sins, (2) how each sin might be connected to other sins, and (3) the extent of destructive evil in our lives due to our sins.  Attempting to discern these things apart from the Holy Spirit will only lead into morbid introspection and the unveiling of hurts that will not be comforted.  The Holy Spirit knows exactly what and how much we are capable of handing.

Repentance. The concept of repentance is one of “turning back.”  Through repentance we turn from our self-willed approach to life and reestablish a face-to-face relationship with Jesus.  We often think repentance involves promising to do something to become more worthwhile to God.  By focusing on our performance, we miss out on what it really means to be in a relationship. When we truly relate to God, we can do no less than relate to Him as LORD.  We must accept His leadership and lordship in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Some of us find it hard to accept a complete yielding to God, especially those who have lived with great hurt in their lives.

Ironically, the more we need to control this yielding process, the less control we have.  Fear begins to rule because we feel if we lose control something bad will happen to us, something hurtful, so we refuse to yield to anyone – including God.

Trust is a precious commodity.  The Lord challenges us to: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him”  (Ps 34:8).  Through repentance we “turn back” the control of our lives to God.  He’s the only One capable of handling it without all the hurts and fears that would otherwise result.  Associated with repentance is reliance.  For too much of our lives, we have relied on the patterns of childhood.  We cannot be in a state where we are not reliant on something or someone.  We will rely either on the patterns of our flesh, or the guidance of the Spirit.  Scripture states this clearly in Galatians 5:16 when it says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (NAS).  Unfortunately, we often try to turn from something without turning to the God who can set us free.  Pray for the courage and exercise of faith that only God can give so that you can repent and rely on God.

Obedience. In the step of obedience, we need to turn our attention to God’s power.  By the time we discover strongholds in our lives, we also see that we are incapable of doing away with them using our own power.  If we are to discover what God can do through us, we must learn to respond to Him differently than we have in the past.  If we have failed to respond to Him, or have responded in wrong ways, we need to change how we relate to Him.  If our confession and repentance are genuine, we should see things from God’s perspective.  Obedience shouldn’t seem like an unpleasant alternative.  It’s a change of response that we should be more than willing to undertake.  If we have prepared through true confession and repentance, we have tapped into God’s power to confront the darkness of our souls.  Does this mean our battle against evil is won?  Not by a long shot!  That’s why obedience is such an important step.  Continued obedience results in continued victory.  But it’s easy to revert to our old, self-centered ways. When we seek to take back the control of our lives, we set ourselves up for failure.  Yet God is quick to forgive us when we see the error of our ways and turn back to Him.  When it comes to obedience, we can learn by trying even if we fail.  A far worse mistake is to refuse to change how we respond to God and fall back into the same patterns that have always controlled us.

Praise. We are commanded throughout Scripture to offer praise and give thanks to God.  Probably praise is the highest form of spiritual warfare.  After genuine confession, repentance, and obedience, praise is not optional – it’s automatic.  The first three steps will produce freedom from our strongholds and an overriding sense of freedom in our lives.  As we experience this freedom that only God can provide, our hearts will praise Him.

 

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE C R O P PROCESS WORKS  (With Bitterness) –

Confessing Bitterness. We need to pray that God will search our hearts and find anything that might be there which would trace back to bitterness.  As we yield to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we might recall events we have not thought of in years.  Allow the Holy Spirit to bring the truth to light.  It’s also important not to argue with the Spirit when such things are revealed.  Our first instinct will be to defend our actions.  Often, we give ourselves permission to react in destructive ways – rebellion, drug use, sexual activity, withdrawal, self-will, or passivity.  Things such as these can be connected to bitterness, and we need to deal with each stronghold.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how these responses have destroyed or limited your life.  Take your time.  Unless you experience with God what these improper responses have done to your life, you will not be ready to go forward.  When God says you have seen enough and you have confessed these things, then you are ready to go to the next step.

Repenting of Bitterness. Bitterness and its related behaviors are the products of a self-willed life.  The thought of living any other way will be frightening.  You may have heard about, talked about, and sung about the lordship of Christ for most of your life.  But at this stage, when you actually begin to experience it, you may experience a sensation of death within your soul.  You are, in fact, putting to death your old ways of responding to life.  This will feel uncomfortable and frightening at first.  As we repent and turn back toward God, there will be an awesomeness about the experience.  We clearly see who we are only by first seeing clearly who He is.

Obedience as a Replacement for Bitterness. Much of our behavior is not what it should be due to the bitterness we have harbored for so long.  God has shown us the problem areas and we have repented of them by agreeing that they are wrong and seeing the extent of their destructive influence.  But now we have to replace each of those errant behaviors with obedience to God.  In some cases, we already know what we’re supposed to do.  In other instances, however, we might need to continue to search God’s Word and seek His will for how to stop being so bitter.  Again, take your time.  God does not reveal problems without also revealing solutions.  As we begin to conform to His will in the ways we know how, we will begin to see what we need to do in the other areas as well.  It is through obedience that you see God’s complete power over the stronghold of bitterness.

Praise for Victory over Bitterness. The struggle against bitterness has been a long and difficult one, even with God’s help.  It has taken time and energy to see the extent of the effects of bitterness in your life.  It has been painful to repent of each of these things.  Replacing improper behaviors with godly ones has taken a lot of effort as well.  When you experience release from the devastating weight of bitterness, joy will fill your soul.  Praise will flow from your lips.  This newfound feeling of freedom will affect everything you do.  You don’t have to understand it.  You can’t understand it.  Just enjoy it and appreciate it.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER –

Going through the C.R.O.P. process will be difficult at first.  But as you begin to use the steps of Confession, Repentance, Obedience, and Praise on a regular basis, the process won’t seem nearly as cumbersome.  Since you are following the same pattern, you’ll quickly become accustomed to going through the steps.  When handled correctly, these steps are weapons.  No stronghold – not even Satan himself – can stand against them.  Strongholds can only be formed when you let a problem go unattended for a long period of time.  When you were younger, you didn’t know any better.  Your strongholds took advantage of your childhood patterns, your fears, and your desire to avoid pain at any price.  Now that you can see things a bit more clearly, you can eliminate those strongholds.  They will try to come back.  However, you will have destroyed the power of Satan in those stronghold areas.  So as long as you continue to draw on God’s power to face down your strongholds, they should never regain control.

AVOIDING COMMON FAILURES AND SETBACKS –

“I’ve tried this before, and it didn’t work for me.”

Some people don’t give it a chance.  These doubts are what Scripture calls “fiery darts” or “flaming arrows” (Eph 6:16, NAS).  Go back through the process and see where you may have gone about it in an ineffective manner.

“My case is worse than other people’s.  God can’t fix me.”

This excuse limits God’s power.  You will remain in bondage if you think God is not strong enough or willing enough to set you free.

I’m afraid.  What happens if I try and fail?”

Many people continue to do nothing because they fear the solution won’t work.  What do you have to lose?  It’s as if one has lost most hope of getting well and isn’t willing to risk the little that remains.  As long as you do nothing, you can hope your problem will go away by itself.  The thinking is if I try something else and fail, the little hope I have will be lost.  However, without overcoming this passivity by taking some kind of action in God’s power, the problem will never go away.  Indeed, it will only get stronger and harder to deal with.  If we direct the little bit of faith we have toward God, He will provide us with “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).

“I don’t want the responsibility of freedom.”

While some people are afraid of seeking freedom and not succeeding, others are reluctant to risk freedom because they fear they will succeed.  They realize their strongholds are a prison, yet they’ve learned to cope with them.  They now know their way around. The pain is intense, but they are managing it…so far, at lease.  They may even realize that it’s a fairly sick way to operate, but it’s gotten them this far, hasn’t it?  It scares them to consider change.  If they become free of this stronghold, what will happen? The thought of freedom is just too scary.

“I gave it a shot, but forget it.  I quit!”

Some people simply quit too soon.  The pain generated by trying to break free seems too much for them.  Jut when they get to a breakthrough point, they give up.  Quitting before acquiring freedom makes it very difficult for a person to attempt the C.R.O.P. process again.  Patience and perseverance are required to get all the way through.

God, His Truth, and Our Lies

SOURCE:  Dr. Bill Bellican

Each of us is affected by events in our past that have led to emotional wounding. We are fallen “image bearers” of Christ living in a fallen world. Certainly, we are affected by our own sinful choices as well as by the sins of others. Whether these events are traumatic or seemingly insignificant, they are fertile ground for distorted thinking, misperceptions, and lies to become embedded. The historical memories containing these “lies” too often are triggered by present events and act as unhealthy filters as we think, feel, and act in the present.

In addition to our own distorted thinking, Satan capitalizes on these lies using them as a way to keep us in bondage, weakened, ineffective, and destructive to ourselves and those around us. Satan would have us live an emotionally unhealthy, unfulfilled life in darkness. In contrast, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Truth and desire us to walk and live in the truth. God knows that His truth will dispel the lies we believe, bring light to the darkness, and will set us totally free. Then we are able to love God more fully, love others, serve God, and enjoy a more fulfilled relationship with God.

The following Scriptures (NIV) are listed to open your thinking about lies, the truth, who God is, and how Satan works. The notes, which follow the listed Scriptures, are taken from the NIV Study Bible and other sources.  The notes are included to provide further insight and application of these truths.

Prayerfully read and reflect upon them asking God to apply His truth to your mind and to your heart.

Genesis 18:14a, Is anything too hard for the Lord?

NOTE: The answer is “no.” Nothing in God’s will is impossible for Him.

Exodus 23:29-30, But I will not drive them out in a single year.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

NOTE: Many times God works with us through a process by which He prepares us for the next step.

Numbers 33:50a-55, The Lord said to Moses, “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you.  Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.  But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.

NOTE: It is critical for us to allow God continually to root out all lies and distorted beliefs, or they can be triggered causing us continued problems.

Deuteronomy 4:29, But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

NOTE: This indicates total involvement and commitment. The Lord longs to bring us His truth.

Joshua 4:24, He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

NOTE: The Lord wants us to realize that He accomplishes His work without our help.

Joshua 5:13-14, Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

NOTE: We must know our place. It is not that God is on our side; rather, we must fight God’s battles. God has sent the commander of his heavenly armies to take charge of the battle on earth. He will fight on our behalf. We must be willing by faith to receive the truth from the Lord.

Joshua 6:1-20, Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.  March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.  On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.  When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.

NOTE: Marching around the city was a ritual act signifying a siege of the city that was to be repeated for six days. The Lord was laying siege to the city. At times, He may choose to lay siege to the walls around our memories, lies, and pain.

Job 12:22, He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.

NOTE: God knows even secret, evil plans/thoughts. His light penetrates the deepest darkness.

Job 42:5, My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

NOTE: It is one thing to know God and another to “feel” and experience God’s truth with eyes of faith and spiritual understanding. Freedom occurs when we trust God to apply to our lives the truths we had previously only known.

Psalm 28:6-7a, Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

NOTE: The Lord realizes the need we have for the truth. He is our help as we look to Him.

Psalm 33:4, For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

NOTE: No power or combination of powers can thwart God’s plan and purpose to save his people. Under the Lord’s rule in the creation, there is goodness, order, dependability, and truth.

Psalm 36:9b, In your light we see light.

Psalm 43:3a, Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me.

NOTE: God’s light invades and removes the darkness giving us a clearer, more focused view of the present that is based on His truth.

Psalm 66:18, If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

NOTE: Sin can be a barrier to the Lord bringing His truth to us.

Psalm 77:13-14a, Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles.

Psalm 86:8,11a, Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart.

NOTE: God is the only true God. No other “god” acts with such sovereign power. Dependence on and devotion to God ask that He save us from the enemy outside but also from our frailty within.

Psalm 119:130a, The unfolding of your words gives light.

Psalm 139:7,12, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Even the darkness will not be dark to you for darkness is as light to you.

NOTE: Just as the whole creation offers no hiding place from the Lord, neither does even the darkness. There is no memory or lie that cannot be accessed by the Lord. He knows where everything is located.

Proverbs 2:6, For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

NOTE: As we cry out for, look for, and search for wisdom/truth, the Lord will bring it.

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.

NOTE: We must commit to God our need, helplessness, powerlessness, and inability to figure Him out. We must refuse to come up with or rely on our own “answers” apart from Him. He will remove the obstacles from your pathway and bring you to the place where He wants you to be.

Proverbs 8:14, 17b, Counsel and sound judgement are mine; I have understanding and power; those who seek me find me.

Proverbs 30:5a, Every word of God is flawless.

Isaiah 2:5, Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 9:2, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

NOTE: Jesus is the light for our darkened minds and the lies we believe. His light is truth.

Isaiah 31:1, Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.

NOTE: Our help and the truth must come from the Lord, alone. No one else can provide what He alone can provide.

Isaiah 45:19b, I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.

Isaiah 49:8a, This is what the Lord says, “In the time of my favor, I will answer you.”

NOTE: The Lord has a perfect timing in revealing His truth to us.

Isaiah 49:23b, Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.

Isaiah 50:10b-11a, Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze.

NOTE: When we try to help the Lord or find the answer ourselves, we will fail. We must simply “actively” wait for the Lord to accomplish His purpose in our lives and circumstances.

Isaiah 55:8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

NOTE: We can’t put God in a box to do things the way we think they should be done.

Isaiah 59:1-2, Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

NOTE: God can do all things. But, our sins can be a barrier to God bringing us His truth. He longs for us to bring our sins to Him to be healed and released from them.

Isaiah 59:9b-10a, We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.

NOTE: Too many times, we try to find our own solutions. We fail to take God as His word that He does want to bring us His truth to really set us free from our lies.

Isaiah 59:12-13, For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

NOTE: Too often, we choose to cling to the lies continually acting them out. Once we turn to the Lord, He accepts our request for forgiveness and freely brings His truth in His way and timing.

Isaiah 59:15-16a, Truth is nowhere to be found. The Lord was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him.

NOTE: The Lord knows we are actually helpless to heal ourselves in any permanent way. He is the Author of truth, and He is willing to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Jeremiah 17:9-10a, 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.

NOTE: Wickedness/distorted thinking/lies must not be allowed to take root in the heart.

Jeremiah 20:12a, O Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind

Jeremiah 23:23-24, “Am I only a God nearby, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

NOTE: God is both transcendent and immanent; He lives in a high and holy place but also with him who is lowly in spirit. There is no place that the Lord can’t access.

Jeremiah 32:17, 27, Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

NOTE: The answer is, “No!”

Ezekiel 22:30, I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.

NOTE: The counselor lends his strength to those who have been weakened by the lies as both counselor and counselee look to Christ for His truth.

Daniel 2:22, He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.

NOTE: God knows where the darkness is and what lurks in it. Only His light will be effective in this darkness.

Daniel 9:13b, All this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.

NOTE: Too often, we remain in the darkness even if we don’t like it. It is what we know. At times, we choose to believe that nothing can really change us or our situation. God’s truth can bring true change.

Hosea 10:12:13a, Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception.

NOTE: Be no longer unproductive, but repentant, making a radical new change and becoming productive and fruitful. It involves hard work to break up unplowed ground. Many times the Lord allows us to “seek and wait” on Him until He brings His truth at just the right time.

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.

Zechariah 4:6, So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

NOTE: The Lord Almighty is the One who brings freedom. It is not we who do this.

Matthew 8:2-3a, A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.”  “I am willing,” he said . “Be clean.”

NOTE: The Lord is the God of truth, and He always is willing to bring His truth into our lives.

Matthew 10:34, Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

NOTE: As one becomes more healthy, others who remain dysfunctional will try to draw the one back into the family dysfunction. Additionally, as we seek the truth, the spirits of darkness/Satan become active in trying to hinder this process of becoming free.

Matthew 11:29-30, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

NOTE: Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden is receiving His truth and freedom from the burden of lies we believe.

Matthew 13:58, And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

NOTE: We have to allow God to exist “outside of the box” we tend to put him in realizing His ways and thoughts are above ours. Otherwise, our ability to receive His truth is dulled.

Matthew 16:16-17, Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

NOTE: When Jesus “breaks into” one’s life to reveal His truth, it is not the product of humanity/our own minds, but of Divine revelation.

Matthew 18:3, And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

NOTE: Trusting and unpretentious behavior like little children is necessary.

Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 28:20b, And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

NOTE: Jesus will not abandon us allowing us to trust in His presence always.

Mark 1:40-42b, A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing you can make me clean.”  “I am willing.  Be clean.’

Mark 2:3-5, Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, thy made an opening in the rook above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

NOTE: Jesus recognized that the bold action of the paralyzed man and his friends gave evidence of faith. Even so, the men had to work in faith to reach the Lord with their friend.

Mark 4:37-40, A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

NOTE: Jesus is always in control. He is never intimidated by the worst of problems we face. He calls on us to believe in His ability to handle all situations and to do that which we find impossible.

Mark 5:24b-28, A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

NOTE: The woman was healed because God graciously determined to reward her faith.

Mark 5: 36, Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Mark 6:5-6, He could not do any miracles there.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

NOTE: Jesus chose not to perform miracles in such a climate of unbelief.

Mark 9:22b-23, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

NOTE: The question centered on whether the father had faith to believe Jesus could heal. A person who truly believes will set no limits on what God can do.

Mark 10:15, I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

NOTE: The kingdom of God must be received as a gift; it may be entered only by those who know they are helpless, without claim or merit.

Mark 10:27, With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

NOTE: Apart from the grace of God, no one can be saved or healed.

Mark 10:51-52a, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”

NOTE: Jesus wants us to realize what we need from Him.

Luke 1:37, For nothing is impossible with God.

Luke 5:12b-13a, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

NOTE: Jesus is willing to meet us at our point of need in answer to our faith.

Luke 5:18-20, Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 5:39, And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, “The old is better.”

NOTE: Jesus was indicating the reluctance of some people to change from their traditional religious ways and try to think “out of their religious box.”

Luke 8:50b, Don’t be afraid; just believe.

Luke 13:12, When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”

NOTE: The spirit had been cast out, and the woman was freed from the bond of Satan and from her physical handicap. In the process of healing, Jesus caused her to face the reality of her pain. He causes us to face the reality of painful memories as the lies are determined.

Luke 18:17, I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

NOTE: With total dependence, full trust, frank openness and complete sincerity.

Luke 18:27, Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Luke 18:35-42, A blind man was sitting by the roadside.  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

NOTE: It seems that Jesus wants us to fully understand our problem and realize what we are asking Him to do for us.

John 1:4-5, In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

NOTE: From Christ comes all spiritual illumination. He is the “light of the world” who holds out wonderful hope for all.

John 1:17, For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 5:8-13a, Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The man who was healed had no idea who it was (that healed him).

NOTE: Ordinarily, faith in Jesus was essential to be healed, but here the man did not even know who Jesus was. Jesus usually healed in response to faith, but he was not limited by a person’s lack of it.

John 8:32, 36, 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.

NOTE: The truth Jesus brings dispels the lies and allows freedom. Those whom Jesus frees, are truly and completely freed.

John 8:44b, He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

NOTE: The truth is foreign to Satan who stands in direct opposition to the truth Christ brings.

John 14:6a, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

John 14:16-17a, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.

John 16:13a, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

John 17:17, (Jesus in His prayer to the Father) “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

NOTE: In essence and in action the Spirit is characterized by truth. He brings people to the truth of God. All three persons of the Trinity are linked with truth.

John 20:27b, (Jesus to Thomas) “Stop doubting and believe.”

NOTE: Jesus calls us to simply believe who He is and in What He does and says.

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.

NOTE: The role of the counselor is to be used by Jesus as a tool to bring the light of His truth to those who are encumbered by lies and Satan’s deceit.

Romans 1:25a, They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

NOTE: In our fallen state, we choose to believe a lie over the truth.

Romans 7:22-8:2, For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

NOTE: Deliverance comes through Jesus Christ over the force within us at work preventing us from believing in God’s truth. The controlling power of the Spirit frees us from the controlling power of sin and the lies it produces.

Romans 8:6, The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

NOTE: The mind of the sinful nature leads to death/lies. The mind of the Spirit-controlled nature leads to freedom/peace.

Romans 12:2b, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

NOTE: This is the process of the truth permeating the thought/will.

1 Corinthians 4:5b, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness

NOTE: God will find and expose the deepest lies of the mind.

2 Corinthians 3:17, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

NOTE: The presence of the Lord brings freedom.

2 Corinthians 4:4, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

NOTE: The devil is the archenemy of God and the unseen power behind all unbelief and ungodliness. He attempts to infect all with his lies to keep unbelievers and believers from walking in the freedom that Christ brings.

2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

NOTE: Christ, the only entirely righteous One, at Calvary took our sin upon Himself and endured the punishment we deserved, namely, death and separation from God. Thus, by a marvelous exchange, He made it possible for us to receive His righteousness and be reconciled to God. Our standing and our acceptance before God are solely in Him. All this is God’s doing. Given this, it is all the more believable that Christ would want to bring us His truth to dispel the lies we believe.

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.

NOTE: As the center of our very being becomes exposed to and fully subject to the lordship of Christ, every stronghold of lies is demolished.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15, And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

NOTE: Even when masquerading as an angel of light, this Great Deceiver remains forever the prince of darkness and father of lies.

Galatians 5:1a, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

NOTE: Christ sets us free from the burden of lies in which we are caught and entangled.

Galatians 5:13a, You, my brothers, were called to be free.

NOTE: God wants us free from lies/bondage to better serve Him and each other in love.

Ephesians 1:17-19a, I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 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, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

NOTE: As Christ brings truth to dispel the lies we believe, our mind, understanding, and inner awareness can more certainly believe in the hope He offers.

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 glory for ever and ever!

NOTE: God, who is infinite in all his attributes, allows us to draw on His resources to believe in that which is beyond our human capability — that He is willing and able to break-in our past — to free us and redeem our present — to enable us to live a more fulfilled future.

Ephesians 4:26, In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

NOTE: Anger directed toward injustice is appropriate. However, it is important that it is appropriately expressed and released to Christ not being allowed to turn into bitterness.

Ephesians 4:31, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

NOTE: Such things grieve the Holy Spirit and become a barrier to Christ bringing His truth to us. We must allow Christ to take these things away from us and onto Himself.

Ephesians 6:11-18, 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 rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all thee flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

NOTE: Our battles can’t be fought only using human resources. The battle is actually against powerful, evil beings in the unseen world. Human effort is inadequate, but God’s power is invincible. Ours is a spiritual battle and must be fought in God’s strength, depending on the Word and on God through prayer.

Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

NOTE: Union with the living, exalted Christ is the secret of contentment and the source of our strength as we trust Him to bring us His truth. We are not helpless in any way.

Colossians 2:6-7, So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

NOTE: We must continue to be “rooted” in Christ in an intimate, spiritual, living union.

2 Timothy 1:7, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

NOTE: Confusion and weakness are not from God. He calls on us to wait confidently for Him as he brings His truth.

Hebrews 1:1, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

NOTE: God is not limited in how He chooses to bring His truth to us. In these last days, the creator of the universe is the One who brings the truth.

Hebrews 4:12-13, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing 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 to whom we must give account.

NOTE: God’s truth was revealed by Jesus. His words are active in accomplishing God’s purposes through a living power that works as an all-seeing eye, penetrating the totality and depth of our innermost being.

Hebrews 6:18b, it is impossible for God to lie

NOTE: God is absolutely trustworthy.

Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

NOTE: This “bitter root” or pride, anger, animosity, rivalry, or anything else harmful to others can block God bringing his truth and healing grace.

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

NOTE: Wisdom is not just acquired information, but practical insight/truth generated by the Spirit.

James 1:18a, He chose to give us birth through the word of truth

NOTE: Since He gave us birth through His word of truth, He surely wants us to live and walk in His truth.

James 1:21, Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 3:14, But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

NOTE: All barriers to Christ bringing His truth must be removed with His enabling.

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.

NOTE: God does not want his chosen ones to dwell in the darkness of lies but rather would have us live in the light of his truth.

1 Peter 5:8, Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 John 1:5b, God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:6-10 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

NOTE: Light represents what is good, true and holy, while darkness represents what is evil and false. To live and walk in darkness is characterized by wickedness and error/lies, while to walk in the light is characterized by holiness and truth. For Christ to be free to bring us His truth, it is critical that we bring to Him all known sins that He may forgive us and restore our communion with Him.

1 John 2:8b, its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

NOTE: As we look to Jesus, the darkness passes as the light of His truth shines within our minds.

1 John 2:21b, no lie comes from the truth.

NOTE: The truth is completely freeing and overcomes the lies of our minds.

1 John 4:18a, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

NOTE: There is no fear of God’s judgement because genuine love confirms salvation. To be frightened/fearful of God is based on a lie and is part of Satan’s deception.

1 John 5:6b, The Spirit is the truth.

3 John 4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

You Are What You Think

SOURCE:  Joe Stowell/Strength for the Journey

“Or he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” Proverbs 23:7

I don’t know about you, but some nights I can’t shut down my mind—it races back through the day, scanning my mental hard drive, opening conversation files, viewing jpegs of people’s faces I’ve encountered, and revisiting deleted messages—some good, some bad. Our minds are like a Pentium processor, a powerful piece of technology.

In fact, according to God, how you think is really what makes you, you.

One wise king wrote: “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).

What you think about is a wide-open window to what you really believe, trust in, worry about, and even worship. And not everybody has programmed their minds to think alike. Some think truth is relative. Which means that for them there are no absolute truths, so whatever works is just fine—nothing is ever always right or always wrong. Others think that there is no real truth and that truth comes in many shapes and colors. That’s pluralism—many truths exist, and as long as you don’t make me choke on your truth, I won’t force you to swallow mine.

If there is no truth and there are no absolutes, then everybody can do whatever they want to do—welcome to the party with no rules! But you and I know that, ultimately, thoughts managed by relativistic, pluralistic software lead to a zigzagging, crazy, self-seeking, dead-end life where everybody loses, including you.

Thankfully you don’t need to settle for software that doesn’t deliver what it promised. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). How solid is that? That takes the punch out of both lines of thinking.

Here’s the deal: What you think about you, God, the world, your spirituality or lack of it, sex, gay marriage, religion, or anything else, really makes you who you are. Jesus simply says, “When you’re ready to think like God thinks about all of life, download my Word—I am the way and the truth.”

It’s time to reboot! Install the truth of God’s Word onto the hard drive of your mind. He’ll scan the files of your thoughts, motives, and attitudes and make them completely new. As Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” (Romans 12:2)

And in case you’re still not convinced, remember that God has warned us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25).

Just because it seems right, doesn’t make it right. Check every thought by the truth that Jesus offers, and when in doubt search His Word.

What you put in — Your Mind — comes out…

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

Mind Games

To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. -Charles Stanley

If your mind is filled with the Word of God, then it can’t be filled with impure thoughts. -David Jeremiah

Crazy thoughts… we all have them from time to time.

Consuming thoughts… those are the ones that won’t be denied.

Unrelenting thoughts… that won’t let you sleep.

Private thoughts… that stubbornly fuel emotions of lust, anger, fear, sorrow, and even hopelessness.

Infected thoughts… that are often destructive in relationships with those closest to us, even our relationship with God.

“Anxious thoughts (that) multiply within me…” (Psalm 94:19 NAS)

The scary part? When we start believing them. “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NAS)

The antidote? “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

However, we must not miss vs. 8 which begins with the word “Finally”— a word which could be translated “From this time forward”“Finally, (from this time forward) brothers, (and sisters) whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)

That’s a bunch of “whatevers” to think about.

What you fill your mind with will largely determine what type of thoughts you have. What you put in — comes out…

And there is a challenge; the “evil one”, known as the “father of lies”, constantly and consistently bombards our minds. And his mind games become a battlefield.

Paul said we should take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5 NAS) Knowing it and doing it are two different things.

Speaking of war, when Paul delineates and lists the “full armor of God” used to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6, he only records one offensive weapon — “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (v. 17 NAS)

The spiritual weapon given to us by the Lord, to battle the formation of these debilitating and controlling thoughts, is God’s word.

Flip back a page to Ephesians 5. Paul says that Christ sanctifies and cleanses the body of Christ “by the washing of water by the word” (v. 26 ESV)

Our thought life can, and will be washed clean by soaking and meditating in His written word.

Spend time reading the Bible. Study it. Memorize it. Saturate your thoughts with it. Immerse your soul in it. Drink deeply of its truth. Let the word of God dwell in you richly.

As you do this, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

It will turn your thought life around.

Living With an Angry, Abusive or Violent Spouse

SOURCE:  Edward T. Welch/CCEF

No matter how bad your situation is, remember that you are not alone.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

It shouldn’t happen.

You married someone you trusted, and you gave yourself to that person. How could it be that the person you once trusted with your life now acts like the person who could take your life? Whether you are facing unpredictable anger or outright physical abuse, this is betrayal at its worst.

It just shouldn’t happen.

A quick scan of the Internet reveals that you are certainly not alone. Twenty-five percent of adult women say they have experienced violence at the hands of their spouse or partner in a dating relationship. Men, too, can be victims of spousal violence. Eight percent report at least one such incident. But since men are more often violent against women, and since women are typically weaker than angry or violent men, this article is written especially for women.

If you have experienced violence, and you are living scared, statistics are little comfort. Women who live in identical conditions don’t protect you or give you hope for peace and reconciliation. But the numbers do remind you that others know the pain of such a living situation, and that resources are available to help you.

You are not alone: There are people who want to help.

Where can you turn for help?  Where can you find a wise friend to guide you?

If you attend a church, talk to your pastor. If you don’t attend a church, find one in your area. Look for a church that is centered on Jesus Christ and believes what the Bible says about Him—that He is the Son of God who came to earth, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is the living and powerful head of His church today. Find a community of people who worship this Jesus and who express their worship in love for one another. There you will find hope and direction.

You are really not alone: Listen to the God who hears.

Your long-term goal should be to know the personal God. This won’t magically change your situation, but you will find that knowing God does change everything. Think about it for a moment. What would it be like to know you are not alone, you are heard, and the One who hears is acting on your behalf? It would make a difference. It would especially make a difference if you knew that this person was the holy King of the universe.

The challenge, of course, is that, at this time in history, you cannot see God with your eyes. When you want real hands and feet to help you, the knowledge of God’s presence might seem to provide very little consolation, but don’t let your senses mislead you. God’s presence is a real spiritual presence. The Spirit will confirm this, and “Blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, ESV).

How do you know that the invisible God of the universe is with you? Look at the evidence from the past. The Bible is full of stories about God hearing the cries of His people and coming to their rescue.

In Genesis, the first book in the Bible, a woman named Hagar and her young son, were unfairly sent from their home and left in the wilderness to die. She turned her back on her son so she wouldn’t have to watch him die, and they both wept. They thought they were utterly alone, but “God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation’” (Genesis 21:17, 18).

This is a pattern. God’s ears are finely tuned to tears. Like a mother who wakes at the sound of her child, God hears the cries of the oppressed.

We see this again when God’s people, the Israelites, cried out because of their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 2:23, 24). Like Hagar, the people were not even crying out to God; they were simply crying, and God heard. While some people can hear and do nothing, when the God of heaven and earth hears, He acts. He gave Hagar and her son water and made her son the father of a great nation. He responded to the cries of the Israelites by delivering them from their slavery in Egypt.

So don’t think that God merely listens. His listening always includes action. We may not see all of what He is doing, but, make no mistake, He is acting.

You are not alone: The God who hears wants to listen to you.

God wants you to direct your cries and fears to Him. Does that seem impossible? If so, He will help you to find the words. Psalm 55 can get you started.

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest…For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
 (Psalm 55:4-8; 12-14)

Psalm 55 has given a voice to human betrayal for centuries. If the words fit your experience, then you are now part of a much larger body of people who have sung this psalm and made it their own. One person in particular leads the singing. Yes, King David wrote this psalm, but he wrote it on behalf of the perfect King who was to come after him. It is Jesus’ psalm, and you are sharing in His Words (read Mark 14). He was the innocent victim of evil people. He was tortured and suffered a terrible death at their hands. To be part of His chorus, all you have to do is follow Him.

Indeed, you are not alone.

The God who hears is against injustice.

The God who came to this world as Jesus and experienced oppression and injustice also stands against it. When people are oppressed by those who have authority or physical power, God pronounces grief and judgment on the oppressors.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.”  (Jeremiah 23:1-3)

This doesn’t mean you should silently gloat, “Yeah, go ahead. You’ll get yours some day.” As you probably know, women who are victimized usually don’t think like that. It’s more likely that you feel guilty, as if somehow you are the cause of judgment on your spouse. But neither response is what God intends. He wants you to respond by depending on Him to be your defender. He wants you to trust that He is hearing your cries and is going to act on your behalf.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

Most likely, you are numb, scared, confused, and paralyzed. If this describes you, then you might know some action steps, but taking one will seem impossible. There is no trick to taking a first step; you just have to do it.

Start by making a phone call to your pastor or a friend. You need help, and God’s hands and feet often are the friends He raises up to help you. Look for God’s help to arrive from God’s people.

You have many reasons why you don’t ask for help. One is that you don’t know exactly what kind of help you need. For example, you aren’t eager for someone to confront your husband because you are afraid he will get even angrier at you. You don’t want to leave. So what’s left to do? Your path isn’t clearly marked, and you’re not sure what to do next. That makes it even more important for you to ask for help from someone else.

Don’t let your sense of guilt or shame paralyze you.

Another reason you might not ask for help is because you are experiencing something shameful. You’re probably asking, “What kind of wife gets treated this badly by her husband?” The wrong answer to that question is, “Only a bad wife could elicit such a response from someone sworn to love her.”

The truth is that you are not to blame for the cruel anger of another person. Even if you incite anger (and that is rarely the case), there is never any excuse for cruelty.

Put it this way: You cannot make someone else sin. Sin comes from our own selfish hearts. Your spouse, when he is sinfully angry, is caring only about himself and his own desires (James 1:13-15). He will try to make it sound like it’s your fault—there isn’t a victimized woman in the world who doesn’t feel like she is somehow at fault—but his sin is his alone.

If necessary, find refuge.

If you’ve been physically hurt by your spouse, and he continues to threaten you, then you should get protection. If children are threatened, this is essential. Every county in the United States has domestic abuse hotlines that will provide you with resources. Protection from abuse orders are available though your local courthouse. Friends may have an extra room or two. As you think about how to keep youself and your children safe, please find someone to discuss this with you and guide you. God’s wisdom says that the more important the decision, the more critical it is to receive counsel from wise people.

The reality is that most women who are suffering like you don’t take these steps. Some who do quickly renege on them and go back to the abusive situation. Why? Fear of retaliation, fear of aloneness, love for the perpetrator, hope that things at home will change, and the lingering guilt that says, “It’s your fault.” These are powerful tugs that make decisive action very difficult.

With this in mind, you can see how important it is to listen for the consensus among the wise people around you. If you have fears and doubts about their counsel, voice them.

Distinguish between loving your spouse and wanting to be loved by your spouse.

Here’s a hard distinction, but it can go a long way toward bringing you sanity. Have you noticed that in all relationships we balance our commitment to love with our desire to be loved? Usually the scales are tipped in favor of wanting to be loved. Your goal is to tip the scales towards a commitment to love.

This is the way to avoid the twin contaminants of most relationships—anger and fear. When you need someone more than you love that person, you will be prone to anger, because you don’t get the love that feels so critical to you. You will also be prone to fear, because the other person has the power to give or withhold what you think you need.

When you set your sights on your commitment to love, the possibilities are limitless. Love gives you the clarity to make difficult decisions on the fly. Should you speak out or be quiet?   Love can guide you more than you realize. Even going to someone else and asking for advice and help with your difficult relationship can be an expression of love. You need help because you care about your spouse. His foolish, selfish lifestyle is not only hurting you, but it’s also hurting him because it’s spiritually self-destructive. Love wants to warn the fool. It wants to rescue, if possible, the self-destructive person from the wrath of God.

Love can be patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13). It can rebuke (Leviticus 19:17). It can stand against injustice and confront another person in their sin (Matthew 18:15-17). The challenge is to keep the scales tipped in love’s favor.

You can only do this when you remember that God always tips the scales in love’s favor in His relationship with you. No matter how moral you have been, you have not been perfectly faithful to the one who created you. But instead of withdrawing in anger, God pursues you even when you don’t want to be pursued.

Find the book of Hosea in your Bible (it’s in the Old Testament), and read the first three chapters. You will get a picture of God as the relentless lover of His people. Although His people repeatedly reject Him, He will not give them up or let them go.

As you know and experience God’s pursuing love, your love for others will become stronger than your desire to be loved. Trusting in God’s love will free you to love others the way you have been loved. After all, when we were God’s enemies, He extended His call of love to us (Romans 5:10). Since God loved us like this, we should expect that we will have the opportunity to love others in the same way. The Bible calls this overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:20).

Learn to disarm an angry person.

Outfitted with love, you have more power than you think. Love comes from the Spirit of the living God, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Whenever you encounter the Spirit in the Bible, you encounter power. The power, of course, is the power of wisdom and love, and there are times when it can disarm an angry man.

Because of the limitless possibilities of love, let wise friends brainstorm and pray with you. Here are some things that the Spirit of power can help you do when you are faced with an angry spouse:

    • Ask him why he thinks you are the enemy.
    • Leave the house when he is sinfully angry.
    • Go and get help instead of being silenced by your shame and his threats.
    • Accept responsibility for your own sinful responses, and not accept responsibility for his.
    • Tell him what it is like to be the recipient of his anger and hatred. Angry people are blind to how they hurt others.
    • Ask him if he thinks that he has a problem.
    • Speak with a humility that’s more powerful than anger. When in doubt, you could ask what he thinks you did that was wrong. You don’t have to defend your reputation before him.
    • If he claims to want to change, ask him what steps he is taking to change.
    • Keep James 4:1-2 in mind. You are witnessing his selfish desires running amok. Be careful that you don’t become an imitator of such behavior.
    • Don’t minimize his destructive behavior. Sinful anger is called hatred and murder (Matthew 5:21, 22).
    • Read through the book of Proverbs underlining all the sayings about anger. Proverbs like “reckless words pierce like a sword” will validate your experiences (Proverbs 12:18).
    • Remember, it is possible to overcome evil with good.

This is only a sketchy list. The details will have to be worked out within your community of counselors. What guarantees do you have? God doesn’t guarantee the momentary peace and quiet you might be longing for; instead He promises you something much more lasting. He promises that as you turn and trust Jesus Christ you will become more like Him; that His Spirit will help you love more than you need to be loved; that God will be with you, He will hear and act on your behalf; and that although the Spirit of God is the one who changes hearts, you have more power than you know—the power to both know and promote peace.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is it wrong to leave, even if my husband is violent?   Isn’t marriage a permanent commitment?   

The Bible does emphasize that marriage is a covenant that should not be broken unless we have God’s permission (Matthew 19:6). Do you have permission when there is domestic violence? Know this for certain: God opposes such evil and intends care for the oppressed (Jeremiah 23:1-3). Such care can sometimes be found in finding a place for refuge and protection. If you need to leave and seek safety, that is not necessarily a first step toward divorce. It is better understood as a statement of hope and a desire to see change in the marriage relationship.

You are right that these decisions are difficult. Therefore, ask for help. Ask your pastor to guide you in the knowledge of what God says.

Can angry men change?

This question can be heard two ways. First, “I want a relationship. Can my spouse change?” The answer is yes, absolutely! God changes all kinds of people. If He can change us, when we see that our hearts are prone to selfishness and quickly stray from trusting Him, then He can certainly change people who are like us.

You probably already believe that God has the power to change anyone. Your biggest struggle will be to put your hope in God more than you put your hope in your husband changing. When you put your hope in God, you live on a rock. When you put your hope in a person, you will feel like a life raft let loose on the open sea.

Second, this question might be about the process of change. You might be really saying something like this, “My husband has promised to change so many times, but we end up at the same place. Can he change, or is there a deeper problem?” Sin is hard to leave, in part, because we like it. In the case of abusive anger, the angry person might like the sense of power and control. If your husband says he wants to change, then he should have a plan. This plan should include at least the following things:

    • Accountability: He must be willing and able to speak openly about his sinful behavior to others who can help
    • Confession: He must be able to understand and confess that his anger has been destructive, recognize that his behavior is ultimately against God, and learn to hate his sin.
    • Growth in the knowledge of the true God: All the best intentions are not enough to bring about deep change. The real problem with angry men is their arrogance and “hatred toward God” (read James 4:1-10), in which case they must both confess their sin against God and set out on a course of knowing and fearing Him.

      —————————————————————————

      Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF).

For How Long?

SOURCE:  Francis A. Schaeffer as posted by  Ray Ortlund

 
“My last sentence is simply this: The world is lost, the God of the Bible does exist; the world is lost, but truth is truth, keep on!  And for how long?  I’ll tell you.  Keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on, and then keep on!”

Francis A. Schaeffer, Death in the City (Chicago, 1969), page 76. Italics original.

A Prayer about God Working in and Through Our Pain

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Heavenly Father, the story wrapped around this one verse demonstrates there’s simply no other god as merciful, gracious, and engaged as you. Your forbearance is immeasurable; your kindness is inexhaustible; your plans are irrepressible. We worship and adore you.

When your people received this letter of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were in exile in Babylon. How could they not feel bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you? Yet, by your own testimony, Father, when you lead us into difficult seasons, it’s not to punish us but to prosper us. When you send hardships, it’s not to bring us harm but to give us hope. When you discipline us, it’s not to send us into the “dog house” of your displeasure, but to free us from the consequences of our foolishness… and to guarantee our good future.

You’re not a God who reacts out of irritation, but one who always acts out of great affection. You know the plans you have for us, individually and corporately. There’s no happenstance in heaven; no randomness in redemption; no coincidences, just providences. You don’t make up things as you go along. You never engage in “trial and error.” “Stuff” doesn’t just happen, sovereignty is always happening.

Father, this way of thinking would be utter madness if you never sent Jesus—a big time spitting into the wind; the spin of all spins; delusional at best, demonic at worse. But Jesus is the “Yes” to every promise you have made. His life, death and resurrection are the guarantee of our gospel-prosperity, living hope, and glorious future. Apart from Jesus there is only hopelessness unimaginable. Because of Jesus there is joy unspeakable.

So bring the truth, grace and power of this gospel into our current situations; into our personal stories of pain; into the brokenness our local churches; and into the needs of our communities. Turn our sighs into songs, our cynicism into servanthood, and our grumblings into the rumblings of a coming visitation of the Holy Spirit. Comfort us that we might comfort one another. Bless us, that we might bless others. Mercy us, that we might mercy others. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and compassionate name.

Fighting Our Besetting Sins

Praying the Truth

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article at Discipleship Journal/Sandra Higley

Declaring the truth of what is ours in Christ is a powerful aid in our battle against temptation, sin, and the enemy. [Make use of] these prayer starters as you [ fight your] besetting sin.

— Lord, I take You at Your promise that You have provided everything I need to live a godly and holy life. Through Your strength, I can do anything. (2 Pet. 1:3, Phil. 4:13)

— I praise Your name, El Roi (the God who sees me). You see every struggle, every fall—and You understand because You experienced every temptation I feel. I cling to Your love; nothing can separate me from it. (Gen. 16:13, Heb. 4:15, Ro. 8:39)

— I take every thought captive in Jesus’ name. I know I’m fighting the kingdom of darkness, not flesh and blood. (2 Cor. 10:5, Eph. 6:12)

— I recognize that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, is trying to shame me into keeping my struggle a secret—hidden in darkness. I willingly bring every deed and every thought into Your glorious light. The truth will set me free. (Rev. 12:10; Jn. 3:19, 8:32)

— I confess my sin of __________ and receive Your forgiveness. I refuse to give Satan a foothold of any kind by harboring sin. (1 Jn. 1:9, Eph. 4:27)

— I receive the victory Jesus won for me over sin and death and hell. Thank You, God! (1 Cor. 15:57)

— Lord, I believe and accept that You are able to keep me from falling today and will present me without fault before Your throne. (Jude 24)

— Father, give me a passion for Your Son. As I love Him more and more, I will keep His commandments out of sheer desire to please Him. (Jn. 14:15)

— I choose to submit to You, Lord. I resist this onslaught of the evil one, knowing he has to run. (Jas. 4:7)

— Lord, teach me to stand firm when I’ve stood every way I know how—and then help me to keep on standing. (Eph. 6:13)

— I put on my helmet of deliverance, my helmet of salvation. I have the mind of Christ. (Eph. 6:17, 1 Cor. 2:16)

— I make a covenant with my eyes to look away the minute something tempting comes into view. (Job 31:1)

— Father, I’ve been battling this head-on for so long that I’m afraid the enemy may sneak up from behind; thank You for being my rear guard. My healing will come quickly. (Is. 58:8)

— Thank You, Jesus, that You did not come to condemn me but to set me free. I know my freedom is even more important to You than it is to me. (Jn. 3:17, Gal. 5:1)

— Send Your angels to minister to me right now, Father. I need help. (Heb. 1:14)

— Abba, You say the enemy is a liar and will do everything he can to move me into a place of distrusting Your promises. But Your Word Word is truth, and I renew my mind with it today. I am transformed. I am conformed to the image of Your Son. (2 Cor. 11:3; Jn. 17:17; Ro. 12:2, 8:29)

— Father, I unleash the power alive within me against the enemy who is prowling around looking for a way to eat me alive. That power is the same power that raised dead, decaying flesh and transformed it into a glorious resurrected body. (Eph. 1:19-20)

— I’m feeling weak, Lord. I praise You that You show Yourself strong in the middle of our weakness. (Dt. 3:24, 2 Cor. 12:9)

— I use every spiritual weapon You’ve given me in my arsenal to tear down this stronghold of thoughts. (2 Cor. 10:3-4)

— I renounce the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 Jn. 2:16)

— I take up my shield of faith, Lord. You made it specifically to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Eph. 6:16)

— You promised that there is a way of escape in every temptation. Help me to see it now. Open my spiritual eyes so I don’t miss it. ( 1 Cor. 10:13, Eph. 1:18)

— I know this is a battle of the mind. I refuse every impure thought as if I were in a mental tennis match. I refuse to be outwitted by a fallen, created being. (2 Cor. 2:11, Ezk. 28:12-17)

— Hallelujah, I’ve been set free from sin! I am a slave to righteousness. (Ro. 6:18)

Christ & Sexual Sin

SOURCE:  John Freeman

Homosexuality has embraced our culture and our culture has embraced homosexuality. It’s part of the fallen nature of things, and fallen man has always been an expert at creating ingenuous ways to celebrate his brokenness.

Homosexuality is one of those topics that draws vibrant reactions. Complex issues of the heart usually do. Christians are in a sort of no-man’sland here. Suggesting that homosexuality is sinful can appear, to the world, as uneducated, rude, and stupid. On the other hand, suggesting that God loves and forgives sinners who struggle with homosexuality and that we should do the same may appear compromising and wishy-washy.

While we can oppose the advancement of this movement by vocalizing our concerns and participating in the political process, for the Christian a far deeper response to homosexuality and the gay community is needed. In such a heated debate, Christians have a responsibility to represent Christ to a fallen world in four ways.

Patiently Listen: “Let every person be quick to hear” (James 1:19). I don’t mean just to look for loopholes or a chance to criticize or find fault. We must listen so as to get to or gain the “heart thrust” of what a person is saying. This is hard work and an art — a skill to be learned. It’s not natural. It takes practice. Listen to what moves other people. Listen for where their passions lie, what they value, what their experience has been (especially with other Christians), and what they fear.

The more you understand a person’s point of view, the more you can profit from it. Why do they think that way? What events led up to their adopting that worldview? What’s been their experience of Christianity — of other Christians or the church? What wounds from their family of origin and from other people lie festering in the background? As adults, we’re usually a composite of all this.

Personally Repent: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans? … No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1–5). Only a redeemed sinner, knowing he stands condemned apart from Christ, can reach a sinner who doesn’t know he needs redeeming. What’s your motivation? Is it to reach lost people with the enduring love that has found you out — that has exposed you as a cut-throat and depraved sinner? Is it your own awareness that, at heart, you’re a sham, misfit, counterfeit, and phony? Or is it to make a nice, neat little package of this messy aspect of life? Are you concerned about making a complex world seem simple? Where are you walking in hypocrisy? Do you really care about homosexuals — or only want them to shut up and disappear? Luke 7:47 says that “he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Gently Instruct: “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone … correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:22–25). Is the Holy Spirit instructing us as we seek to instruct others? Do we pray for Christlikeness as we seek to correct others? Are our unloving and impatient hearts a hindrance to the gospel message? It should always be the truths of Scripture, not our demeanor or presentation of it, that people reject.

Talking to those who are blind to the reality of their hearts but who live in a world that applauds their sin is both a privilege and a challenge. They are victims of their own sin and the lies and sin of others; therefore, they’re caught. But they’re also accountable before a holy God. We must represent both aspects of the truth as we share Christ.

Mercifully Pursue and Then Engage the Heart: “Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22–23). God calls us to be neither reclusive nor rude, but to move boldly into confusing, high-stakes situations with the gospel of God’s mercy. We bring the gospel where it is most needed: to the vocally anti-Christian progay activist; to the mild-mannered clergy who says the love of Jesus means affirming homosexuality as God’s gift; to the quietly confused and scared teenager who fears he’s gay and there’s no other option. Showing mercy means practically caring for people. It means being patiently and persistently available to help those who live in a fallen world.

As we do this, we’re able to move into other people’s worlds. Engaging people by asking good questions, respectfully, is an important part of this. I once stopped a protester who was marching at a gay rally and subsequently had a two-hour conversation that ended with this man thanking me for stopping him to speak with him — in spite of the fact that I shared the gospel with him! I listened and engaged his heart, and that was infectious to him. Listening, asking questions, and engaging people with respect, even if we have fundamental differences, gets people into their story quicker than anything else.

Jesus was the master of all that I’ve just spoken about (though He was in no need of repentance). We should be too. His methods are the most under-utilized and missed aspects of evangelism.

God’s Positive Answers

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it :
 

You say:  “It’s impossible”
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say:  “I’m too tired”
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 1:28-30)

You say: “Nobody really loves me”
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say: “I can’t go on”
God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: “I can’t figure things out”
God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: “I can’t do it”
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: “I’m not able”
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say:  “It’s not worth it”
God says: It will be worth it. (Roman 8:28)

You say:  “I can’t forgive myself”
God says:  I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say:  “I can’t manage”
God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say:  “I’m afraid”
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated”
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: “I don’t have enough faith”
God says: I’ve given everyone a measure of faith
(Romans 12:3)

You say:  “I’m not smart enough”
God says:  I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say:  “I feel all alone”
God says:  I will never leave you or forsake you
(Hebrews 13:5)

SOURCE:  Author Unknown


 


 

Biblical Counseling: What is it? Do I need it?

SOURCE:  Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC

People have a great many questions about what makes biblical counseling truly biblical. The purpose of these brief FAQs or Q/A paragraphs is to provide relevant, biblical answers to basic questions about biblical counseling.

1.   What is biblical counseling?

First, biblical counseling is not “beating people over the head with the Bible.” Nor is it saying, “take two verses and call me in the morning.” And it is not one-problem, one-verse, one-quick-solution.

While no one person can provide the final definition, here is a working definition of what makes biblical counseling truly biblical:

Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through the Christian soul care arts of sustaining and healing) and sin (through the Christian spiritual direction arts of reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ.

The rest of our FAQs will “flesh out” this definition.

2.   What is the difference between biblical counseling and secular counseling?

While there are hundreds of different secular approaches to counseling, they all have two central features in common. First, secular counseling depends upon human reason and research to answer life questions about people, problems, and solutions. Biblical counseling depends upon scriptural revelation to build a comprehensive, compassionate, culturally-informed approach to who we are, what went wrong, and how to solve the issues of the soul.

Second, secular counseling, especially in our post-modern age, assumes that there is no final answer, no all-encompassing story that explains the meaning of life. Biblical counseling, while appreciating our human limitations and understanding our cultural diversity, believes that in the Bible God has given us all that we need for life and godliness. The Bible provides real answers for real people with real problems.

3.   What can I expect to change when working with a biblical counselor?

A biblical counselor will work with you comprehensively. You can expect your counselor to assist you spiritually to know God better, socially to love others more effectively, and self-consciously to understand and apply who you are in Christ. Your biblical counselor will help you rationally to renew your mind in Christ so that you see your life, God, others, and yourself from an eternal perspective. Your biblical counselor will work with you volitionally so that you understand why you do what you do and so that you find Christ’s resurrection power to live victoriously. Your biblical counselor will engage you emotionally so that you learn to manage your moods, soothe your soul in your Savior, and help others with their emotions. Your biblical counselor will address who you are physically because the Bible teaches that we are a united body/soul being.

4.   How long does it take to see a change?

One current model of secular therapy is solution-focused brief therapy. As the title suggests, the goal is to spot a problem and as quickly as possible find a workable personal solution to that issue. If only life were so easy. Biblical counseling is soul-u-tion-focused therapy. It focuses you on working with God on matters of your soul: on heart issues.

Relationally (with God, others, and self), mentally, volitionally, and emotionally change can begin immediately if change means loving better, thinking more wisely, choosing/acting more unselfishly, and managing moods more effectively. However, soul change is a lifelong process of progressive sanctification:  little-by-little coming to live and love more and more like Jesus.

5.   What are the benefits of biblical counseling?

The benefits of biblical counseling relate to our definition of biblical counseling. Biblical counseling will help you to face your suffering face-to-face with God. While this side of heaven we may not find an end to suffering, we can find God and His perspective, purpose, and power in our suffering. Biblical counseling sustains you so you know that it’s normal to hurt, and it brings God’s healing to you so that you know that it’s possible to hope. You will experience soul care from your biblical counselor.

Biblical counseling will also help you to face your sin face-to-face with God. Instead of running, hiding, and covering up with layer upon layer of self-sufficiency (like Adam and Eve did), you will learn to “return home” like the prodigal son did. In returning home, your biblical counselor will help you to reconcile with God and others—repenting, asking forgiveness, and granting forgiveness. You will learn that it’s horrible to sin, but that it’s wonderful to be forgiven. In biblical counseling you will also find guidance so that you learn how to apply the truth that it’s supernatural to mature. You will experience spiritual direction from your biblical counselor.

6.   When should I consider biblical counseling?

Based upon our definition, we should all be engaged in on-going biblical counseling and spiritual friendship with one another. Biblical counseling is not just what we “do” for an hour with an “expert.” It is to be a natural part of our normal experience of Christian community.

However, the Bible does teach that there is special gifting and can be special training for a more focused ministry of biblical counseling. When should you consider making an appointment for focused biblical counseling? You should see a counselor when you sense that your relationships with God, others, and yourself are spiraling downward despite your best efforts. You should see a counselor when you recognize that your beliefs about life are colored by earthly perspectives and foolish judgments that you can’t seem to correct on your own. You should see a counselor when you find yourself yielding to purposes and actions that defy your core beliefs, but you can’t seem to change. You should see a counselor when you feel that you are less and less able to handle your emotions and manage your moods. In other words, you should see a biblical counselor when life’s suffering and your sin are overwhelming.

7.   Is talking to a biblical counselor different from talking to a close friend?

We began to answer this question in the previous question. Of course, it all depends upon the close friend, doesn’t it? If the close friend is a spiritual friend with biblical wisdom (content), Christlike love (character), relational power (competence), and knows how to connect deeply and honestly (community), then biblical counseling and talking to a close spiritual friend will be quite similar. In fact, a close friend is more readily available and more easily understands and empathizes with you.

A biblical counselor ought to be your spiritual friend who focuses all his or her energy on you to provide you with soul care for your suffering and offers you spiritual direction for your struggle against sin. Unlike your spiritual friend, the relationship is not “mutual.” You are equals, but you are not there to counsel your counselor. Your counselor uses his or her content, character, competence, and community to empower you to connect with Christ and the Body of Christ. It is more of a Paul-to-Timothy mentoring relationship than a David-and-Jonathan peer-to-peer relationship.

8.   What happens in a biblical counseling session? What can I expect in session?

To a large degree, that depends on you, your reasons for counseling, your counselor, and where you are in the counseling process (first meeting or last meeting, focused on hurts or focused on sin, etc.). Broadly speaking, you should expect a process of speaking the truth in love. That does not mean the biblical counselor preaches at you. It means that you engage in trialogues where you, your counselor, and the Divine Counselor seek to apply biblical wisdom to your life issues. You and your counselor will be involved in spiritual conversations where you think about life from a biblical perspective, and you will be involved in scriptural explorations where you discuss relevant applications of pertinent passages to your specific life situations and relationships.

You should expect your biblical counselor to empathize with your hurts, to encourage you with Christian hope, to exhort you with biblical truth that exposes heart issues, and to empower you with biblical principles that equip you to be a better lover of God and others. You should expect the “process” to be “real and raw.” Like the Apostle Paul, the biblical counselor will give you not only the Scriptures, but his or her own soul—caring and connecting deeply.

9.   Are there issues that I can try to address prior to counseling? If so, what steps can I take?

The very “step” of deciding to see a biblical counselor is a vital first step. It is an admission that you need others. This humble admission also automatically adds a new, powerful dimension to your situation—another person who cares and who can bring wisdom principles to your life issues.

Once you’ve made this step, you should continue to fellowship and worship with your church family. You should join a pertinent small group where you can talk honestly about your life. You should maintain your spiritual disciplines that connect you to Christ.

You also should state very clearly why you are coming to counseling. And you should be able to explain how you will know that counseling has been successful. What inner life goals are you pursuing?

By the way, once counseling begins, don’t think for a moment that the fifty minutes when you meet are the only time you “work.” You should be constantly applying to your life what you are learning when you are in counseling.

10. What can I do if I can’t afford biblical counseling?

One of the beautiful aspects of biblical counseling is that it often does not have a fee, especially if it is done in the context of a local church. However, some biblical counseling is done in a para-church or professional setting where fees must be charged so the counselor can make a living. In this situation, be honest with your counselor about your financial situation. Ask if there is a sliding scale fee structure. See if your insurance will cover counseling. Make a budget that prioritizes getting good counseling help. Ask your extended family for assistance. Seek help from your church family. There is always a way.

11. What is biblical marriage counseling?

In biblical marriage counseling, the purpose of counseling is God-focused—to help the couple to glorify God by enjoying one another and empowering one another to be more like Jesus. Yes, the counselor wants to help the couple to resolve conflicts, to communicate, to improve their sexual relationship. But if all that is done apart from the purpose of marriage, then it is simply creating more self-sufficient manipulators.

In biblical marriage counseling, the counselor helps the couple to identify and repent of spiritual heart issues that are leading them to selfishly manipulate (“You will meet my need!”) and retaliate (“If you hurt me, then I will hurt you!”). Problems in the home begin with problems in the heart. Once selfishness is faced, then biblical marriage counseling seeks to help the couple to work together toward the common goal of exalting God by enjoying and empowering one another to reflect Christ.

12. How do I know if I need biblical marriage counseling?

A couple should consider biblical marriage counseling when they find that their efforts to stop manipulating and retaliating are unsuccessful. When you find that selfishness rules, that you are not enjoying one another, that you are not empowering one another, and that you are not helping one another to grow in Christ, then it is time. Symptoms of these deeper heart issues include poor communication, inability to handle conflict, lack of sexual and relational intimacy, and unmanaged moods.

Biblical marriage counseling helps couples to understand God’s pattern for husband-wife relationships, diagnoses unbiblical patterns and their root causes, and prescribes God’s solutions for soul change that leads to relational growth. Biblical marriage counseling should result in enhanced relationship: closeness with Christ, intimacy with your spouse, and a sense of greater peace (shalom) in each person’s soul.

13. What is biblical family counseling?

In biblical family counseling, the focus is soul-u-tions, not simply external solutions. Your counselor will help you to understand God’s design for healthy family living, will assist you to assess unhealthy and unbiblical ways of relating as parents and children, and will equip you to reconcile and grow in your family relationships. The Bible presents at least five healthy keys to family living (dedication, discernment, devotion, discipline, and discipleship), identifies at least three common sinful family ways of relating (Pharisaical, neglectful, possessive), and prescribes how each of the types of families can return to healthy functioning.

14. How do I know that I need biblical family counseling?

When children are consistently dishonoring and distancing themselves from their parents, then family counseling is needed. When parents are consistently failing to balance devotion and discipline (holiness and love), then family counseling is needed. Biblical family counselors will help family members to understand and apply the principles of dedication to God, devotion to one another, discernment of biblical principles, discipline of heart foolishness, and discipleship toward heart wisdom.

As with marriage counseling, the end goal of family counseling is not simply the resolution of surface symptoms. The desire is increased honoring love from children to parents, and increased holy love from parents to children so that the family enjoys one another and empowers one another thus exalting God.

15. In marriage and family counseling, what if a spouse, parent, or child does not want counseling?

No one can force another person to open his or her heart to help. While a parent can “force” a child to attend counseling, the child still can choose whether or not to engage in the counseling process. While a spouse can “guilt” a spouse into going to marriage counseling, the spouse can still choose whether or not to receive counsel.

So what do you do? You pray for your desires and you work for your goals. In other words, pray that your spouse, child, or parent will go to counseling and be receptive. But leave that to God. Then work toward your goals—go to counseling even if you must go alone or work alone. Open yourself to God changing you—your relationships, thoughts, attitudes, motivations, goals, actions, behaviors, and emotional responses. Many times it is these very changes that God uses to soften the heart of other family members.

Why HELL Is A Non-Negotiable

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by  John Piper

Today belongs to the soundbite; tomorrow belongs to marketing; eternity belongs to the Truth. If you live only for this world, you will care little for truth. “Let us eat, drink and be merry” – and call the ideas that protect our appetites “truths.” But if you live for eternity, you will forego a few fads in order to be everlastingly relevant.

We prize truth at Bethlehem above temporary successes. Where truth is minimized and people are not rooted and grounded in it, successes are superficial and the growing tree is hollow, even while it blooms in the sunshine of prosperity. O may God give us a humble, submissive love for the truth of God’s word in the depth and fullness of it.

Listen to Paul’s warning about our day: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3) . . . who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

Take, for example, one truth that is not popular and is being abandoned by many who fly the banner of “evangelical” over their tent – the truth of hell. O what a difference it makes when one believes in hell – with trembling and with tears. There is a seriousness over all of life, and an urgency in all our endeavors, and a flavor of blood-earnestness that seasons everything and makes sin feel more sinful, and righteousness feel more righteous, and life feel more precious, and relationships feel more profound, and God appear more weighty.

Nevertheless, as in every generation, there are fresh abandonments of the truth. Clark Pinnock, a Canadian theologian who still calls himself an evangelical, wrote,

I was led to question the traditional belief in everlasting conscious torment because of moral revulsion and broader theological considerations, not first of all on scriptural grounds. It just does not make any sense to say that a God of love will torture people forever for sins done in the context of a finite life. . . . It’s time for evangelicals to come out and say that the biblical and morally appropriate doctrine of hell is annihilation, not everlasting torment.” (Clark Pinnock and Delwin Brown, Theological Crossfire: An Evangelical/Liberal Dialogue [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990], pp. 226-227)

Dorothy Sayers, who died in 1957, speaks a necessary antidote to this kind of abandonment of truth.

There seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the “cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell,” or “the childish and grotesque mediaeval imagery of physical fire and worms.” . . .

But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not ” mediaeval”: it is Christ’s. It is not a device of “mediaeval priestcraft” for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from “mediaeval superstition,” but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . It confronts us in the oldest and least “edited” of the gospels: it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more: it bulks far larger in the teaching than one realizes, until one reads the Evangelists [gospels] through instead of picking out the most comfortable texts: one cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ. (Dorothy Sayers, A Matter of Eternity, ed. Rosamond Kent Sprague [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973], p. 86)

I would only add: There are many other things which, if abandoned, will also mean the eventual repudiation of Christ. It is not out of antiquarian allegiance that we love the truth – even the hard ones. It is out of love to Christ – and love to the people that only the Christ of truth can save.

Warfare Praying: THE ARMOR OF GOD

SOURCE:  The Adversary by Mark Bubeck , 74-77)

The following is an example of warfare praying given the reality of Satan, his kingdom of darkness, and the fallen angels (i.e., demons) who align with him.  While Jesus has defeated Satan (Col. 2:15; 1 John 3:8) and our primary focus is to be on the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:2), Satan still is a formidable foe of whom we must be aware and prepared for battle (1 Pet. :8-9).

Heavenly Father:

I desire to be obedient by being strong in the Lord and the power of Your might.  I see that this is Your will and purpose for me.  I recognize that it is essential to put on the armor that You have provided, and I do so now with gratitude and praise that You have provided all I need to stand in victory against Satan and his kingdom.  Grant me wisdom to discern the tactics and sneakiness of Satan’s strategy against me.  Enable me to wrestle in victory against the princes, powers, rulers, and wicked spirits who carry the battle of darkness against me.

I delight to take the armor You have provided and by faith to put it on as effective spiritual protection against the spiritual forces of darkness.

I confidently take the belt of truth that You offer me.  I take Him who is the truth as my strength and protection.  I reject Satan’s lies and deceiving ways to gain advantage against me.  Grant me discernment and wisdom to recognize the subtle deceiving ways in which Satan seeks to cause me to accept his lies as truth.  I desire to believe only the truth, to live the truth, to speak the truth, and to know the truth.  I worship and praise You that You lead me only in the ways of truth.  Thank You that Satan cannot stand against the bold use of truth.

Thank You for the breastplate of righteousness, which you offer me. I eagerly accept it and put it on as my protection.

Thank You for reminding me again that all of my righteousness comes from You. I embrace that righteousness which is mine by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is His righteousness that is mine through justification.   I reject and repudiate all trust in my own righteousness, which is as filthy rags.  I ask You to cleanse me of all the times I counted my own goodness as being acceptable before You. I bring the righteousness of my Lord directly against all of Satan’s workings against me.  I express my desire to walk in righteousness before God today.  By faith I appropriate the righteousness of Christ and invite Him to walk in His holiness in my life today that I might experience His righteousness in total context of ordinary living.  I count upon the righteousness of my Lord to be my protection.  I know that Satan must retreat from before the righteousness of God.

Thank You, Lord, for the sandals of peace You have provided.  I desire that my feet should stand on the solid rock of the peace that You have provided.  I claim the peace with God, which is mine through justification.  I desire the peace of God, which touches my emotions and feelings through prayer and sanctification (Phil 4:6).  Thank You that as I walk in obedience to You that the God of peace promises to walk with me (Phil 4:9), that as the God of peace You are putting Satan under my feet (Rom 16:20).  I will share this good news of peace with all others today that Your Spirit will bring into my life and witness. Thank You that You have not given me the spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind (2Ti 1:7).  Thank You that Satan cannot stand against Your peace.

Eagerly, Lord, I lift up the shield of faith against all the blazing missiles that Satan and his hosts fire at me. I recognize that You are my shield and that in Your incarnation and crucifixion You took the arrows of Satan, which I deserved.  By faith I count upon You to shield me from above and beneath; on my right and my left; in front of me and behind me, that I might be protected, walled in, encapsulated by You that Satan may gain no way to hurt or destroy me from fulfilling Your will today.  I am willing that any fiery darts of Satan You wish to touch me should do so, but I shall look upon them as refining fires permitted in Your providence for my refining and glory (1Pe 1).

Thank You, Lord, that You are a complete and perfect shield and that Satan cannot touch me apart from Your sovereign purpose.

I recognize that my mind is a particular target of Satan’s deceiving ways.  I take from You the helmet of salvation.  I cover my mind, my thoughts, with Your salvation.  I recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is my salvation.  I helmet my head with Him.  I invite His mind to be in me.  Let me think His thoughts, feel His love and compassion, and discern His will and leading in all things.  Let my mind be occupied with the continuing, daily, saving work of my Lord in and through my life.  May the salvation of my Lord meet and defeat all Satanic thoughts that come to my mind.

With joy I take hold upon the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  I affirm that Your Word is the trustworthy, infallible Word of God.  I choose to believe it and to live in its truth and power.  Grant me the love for Your Word, which comes from the Holy Spirit.  Forgive and cleanse me from the sin of neglecting Your Word.  Enable me to memorize it and to meditate upon its truth.  Grant me proficient recall and skill in using Your Word against all of Satan’s subtle attacks against me, even as my Lord Jesus Christ used the Word against Satan.  Enable me to use Your Word not only to defend me from Satan, but also to claim its promises and to wield the sword strong against Satan to defeat him, to push him back, to take away from him ground he claims, and to win great victories for my God through Your Word.  Thank You that Satan must retreat from Your Word applied against him.

Thank You, dear Lord, for prayer.  Help me to keep this armor well oiled with prayer.  I desire to pray at all times with depth and intensity as the Holy Spirit leads me.  I reject all fleshly praying as sin.  I trust the Holy Spirit to enable me, to intercede for me and through me.  Grant me great supplication and burden for others in God’s family of blood-washed saints.  Enable me to see their needs and to assist them through prayer as the enemy attacks them.  All of these petitions, intercessions, and words of praise I offer up before the true and living God in the name and worthy merit of my Lord Jesus Christ.   Amen.


The Basic Steps of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  (Information compiled from work by Dr. Sian-Yang Tan, Professor of Psychology – Fuller Seminary Graduate School of Psychology &
Dr. Ed Smith, founder of Theophostic Prayer Ministry; other articles: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1039&context=ccfs_fac_pubs)
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Healing prayer is a  (Christ-centered) Spirit-led, counselor involved, and counselee consented spiritual intervention with the specific intent of healing and breaking the chain of past traumatic, historical memory events that contain lie-based thinking/feeling still influencing present day thinking-feeling-acting.  (NOTE: Healing prayer as outlined in this article is not associated with hypnosis or guided/directed imagery.)

A goal in the use of healing prayer is that it become another important spiritual weapon or tool that you add to your repertoire and use throughout life.  Healing prayer will be useful to you along with other spiritual disciplines such as worship, prayer (conversational, traditional, listening), Scripture reading and study, fasting, meditation, solitude, etc. as you continue to cultivate your faith (Phil 2:12), seek truth and freedom (John 8:32), allow transformation through renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2) and demolish compulsions and strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Sessions incorporating healing prayer involve the following steps:

NOTE:  Initially, this process will include a counselor who interacts with you and the Holy Spirit, as you continue to “practice the Presence of the Lord” and are comfortable interacting with the Lord in this aspect, yourself.

1) The session begins with prayer asking for God’s grace, power, healing, truth, and protection from the evil one.  The understanding is the Holy Spirit is present and leading, and this will be a time of interaction between you and He (and a counselor as present).

2) Within the safe confines of the counseling room (or a quiet, calm place you choose at other times) in the Presence of the Holy Spirit, you allow yourself to relax as you become receptive to God anticipating (but not demanding) that He will move in a curative way.

3) You will focus intently on the emotions you are feeling, a statement (of self-talk) that feels painfully true, or a known traumatic event.  This may surface painful imagery or memories.  Ask yourself the question, “What are the emotions I feel about myself in this present situation which triggered these emotions?”  Feel for the statement(s) that best describes how the situation made you feel and couple the statement with the emotions you feel.  For example, “I feel stupid.  I feel used.  I feel rejected.  I feel hurt.  I feel violated.  I feel abandoned.  I feel inadequate.  I feel unloved…..”

4)  With the emotions and/or lie statement in focus, allow yourself to disconnect from the present and let the Holy Spirit enable you to drift back to the origin and source of the emotional pain.  Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you need to be to find complete release of the lie statement that feels true and is causing the pain. The Lord may have you recall an uncomfortable event from your past childhood, He may keep your focus on the lie statement, or He may have you focus on a more recent troubling event.  Regardless, let your attitude be one of, “Lord, I trust You to take me to the starting point at which I need to be.”

5)  Just let the past memories come to you.  Keep your focus on the feelings and lie statement that feels true.  Do not try to analyze memories or attempt to pick which memories are important or unimportant.  Whatever memory comes to mind, focus on it.  Feel your way through the memory being careful to examine every part.  Sometimes the memory will begin to open up and unfold, revealing things you had long forgotten.  Find out why this memory has an unpleasant feeling about it.

Ask yourself, “How does this memory make me feel?” or “Why do I feel this way in this memory?”

6)  Allow the intensity of the emotions in the memory picture to increase as you face and embrace this lie statement (that feels true) as the truth.  When it is strong and uncomfortable, invite the Lord Jesus to come into the memory.  Simply say to the Lord Jesus something like, “Lord Jesus, I invite you to come into my memory, and I ask You to reveal Your truth to me in whatever way You choose.  What is Your truth, Lord Jesus?”  Don’t prescribe anything for the Lord or try to help Him in any way.  Don’t try to make anything happen.  Let the Lord do what He will.

Allow the intensity of the emotion to increase as much as you can.  In the midst of this darkness, continue to ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you.  He may speak a word to you, give you a visual picture, or simply bring a realization of truth to your awareness.  Whatever you hear, see, or sense from Him, confess it out loud. Even write down your awarenesses for further reflection.

7)  If Jesus does not reveal truth to you fairly soon after focusing on the lie statement and emotional pain, it is most important to remember that, by faith, you can be assured of God’s Presence and intervention.  Remember, that while experiencing God is a wonderful result of this kind of prayer, an experience is not the goal.  Should you not receive a result you thought you might, remember that God invests value in your letting go of control and embracing trust in God, who truly cares and works things out in His good timing.

Additionally, sometimes, emotions such as anger, hate, rage, offense or revenge will be present in the memory or an aspect of what you are dealing with.

If this is the case, ask yourself these questions:

a) Why do I feel these emotions in this memory?  b) Do I really want to be free from these feelings?  If you truly want release, then confess your anger, rage, offense, etc., to Him and admit your powerlessness to overcome it on your own.  Ask Him to release you completely.

After this prayer, go back into the memory or to the lie statement and engage the process again.  If He still does not speak, you may not have discerned the core/main lie.  Look around in the memory for clues to what it might be and continue through the process.

Finally, sometimes there can be an evil presence inhabiting the memory. In such case, you will need to rebuke it and take authority over it as a believer in Christ who has been born anew into the family of God (John 1:10-13) and who serves as a member of a holy and royal priesthood (1 Pet 2: 4-5, 9).

8)  After the Lord has revealed His truth to you, go back to the memory or lie statement and search for any residual negative feelings that might remain.  Make sure there are no bad emotions left.  If you sense some evidence of unpleasant emotion after the Lord has provided truth, there may be another lie still present.  This is not uncommon.  Go back to step one and process this new lie the same way you did the other.  Once you can revisit a past hurtful memory and/or stir up the lie statement and find that a sense of calmness and peace is present based on the truth revealed by the Lord, that core lie has been dispelled.

Additionally, even after the Lord applies His truths to overcome lie-based thinking and negative emotional upheaval, feelings of sadness or grief can remain.  This is normal and healthy given the reality of past losses suffered and not necessarily part of harboring past lies.  If you discern this is the case, bring the sadness and grief to the Lord; allow Him to comfort you and walk with you through this time of healing (Ps. 119: 50, 52; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Remember, healing prayer is a time of faithfully calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for His truth to dispel what has been operating in our lives as a distorted “truth.”  Healing prayer is not just a technique whereby God can be manipulated or the right formula that will bring results.

The Basic Principles of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith

Principle OneOur present situation is rarely the true cause of our ongoing emotional pain.

More often than not, the emotional pain we feel in the present tense has been triggered by lie-based thinking, which is rooted in memory.  Lie-based thinking is the false belief one holds in memory learned during a specific life event.  For example, a man raised by an alcoholic parent might believe the lie that he was somehow the cause for the chaos in his home and responsible to resolve it.  This might in turn play out by his being stressed, anxious and over-reactive to life situations in which there was perceived lack of order.  If we blame the present situation for the emotional pain coming from the earlier memory event, we will be trapped in an irresolvable cycle of emotional pain and defeat.  To believe that other people or circumstances are the cause of our emotional upheaval is to empower them to control us emotionally until they change.  When we find freedom from the lie-based thinking, we will no longer be triggered by it and can walk in peace, content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11).

This is a common scenario in marital conflict.  Each partner in the relationship assumes that the pain he or she feels is being caused by the other.  When in reality, each one is merely triggering the other’s lie-based pain. It is difficult to admit that one’s mate is not the source of the pain and that he or she is only exposing what was already there.  It is easier to make someone else the cause than it is to choose to hold myself responsible for the emotional pain in my life.  This is not to say that what the other person may have done was inappropriate or justified, for it may not be.  However, our emotional response often goes much deeper than the current moment.  If what I am feeling is rooted in my own lie-based thinking and I blame another, then I am doomed to suffer in this pain until the other person changes.

Principle TwoEverything we presently know, feel or are mentally aware of has its roots in a first-time experience.

Everything in my brain got there at some point in time.  Therefore, anything that I access in the present tense from my thinking had a point of entry.  When we react negatively to a present situation, our mind is automatically transferring the negative feelings stored in the memory of the original experience to the present moment that is similar to the original experience.  This is a natural neurological process of association that is active during all thinking moments.  Our minds are continually networking and linking our present moment to the information learned in earlier places.  Our minds provide input as to how to respond to a current situation based upon how we have responded to similar situations in the past.  Actually, we respond to the present based upon what we have come to believe to be true within the past events.  This automatic superimposing of past emotional responses onto later similar situations will have great bearing on what behaviors we choose to act out.  We tend to act out the way we feel.  If we act out our present pain, we will likely manifest sinful behavior.  This is not to say that some people will deny the pain and choose to act rightly as opposed to acting out their pain. It is merely suggested that many people, much of the time, tend to act out of the pain that has surfaced.  For those who choose rightly, they just feel bad while doing the right think.  Both places feel pretty miserable.

Principle ThreeIf we try to resolve our present conflicts without resolving our historical lie-based woundedness, we will find only temporary relief for our emotional pain.  However, if we find healing for our past, we can redeem our present.

Some of today’s counseling and ministry methods typically try to change the present behavior of a person by providing new insight and steps of action to modify the behavior they are to carry out.  This is often only a stopgap measure and may not result in true and lasting victory if the underlying lies are not addressed.  This is not to say that discipleship and teaching are not important, for they are.  However, some have been led to believe that controlled behavior is equated with spiritual maturity when in fact many unbelievers are doing a good job of performing in this same arena.  True victory is a work of Christ in us.  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

It is not based on my effort, determination or willpower but is a natural overflow of His work in me.  This does not negate obedience, repentance, discipline or effort on the part of the believer but rather puts all of these practices in a divine perspective.  Salvation is by faith and grace, and so is the walking it out. The apostle Paul declared that we should walk in Christ in the same manner that we have received Him (see Col. 2:6).  Self-control that is provided and maintained as a by-product or fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:23) is different from controlled behavior that is a fruit of man’s effort.  When I know the truth and reside in the peace that Christ gives, my “self” is under control as a work of God in me.  When I am walking in falsehood and experiencing emotional duress, I have to control myself to keep from acting out on the painful urges.  Controlled behavior is better than sinful choices, but self-control provided by the Holy Spirit is best.

Principle FourSince many of the negative emotions we currently feel are reflections of the past, they provide opportunities for the wounds of our lives to be exposed and thus for healing to occur.

It is difficult to address that which has not been identified.  God will either allow or orchestrate our surroundings to bring us under duress and testing in order to expose what is our true core belief system (see 1 Pet. 4:12-13).  It requires little effort to perform at a high level of “spirituality” when things are going well with us.  However, when the fire comes, our impurities are made evident and whatever is on the inside (our true belief system) is made evident.  These impurities, falsehoods that we believe, will express themselves through our emotional state and consequential behavior.  What we truly believe is made evident through our feelings.  As I have already stated, we will feel what we believe.  If we choose to follow the smoke trail of our stirred-up emotions back to their original memory source, we may discover the lie-based belief causing the emotional pain.  It is here we can find complete freedom from the emotional pain produced by these lies as we receive truth from the Spirit of Christ.

Principle FiveTo facilitate emotional healing, we need to identify the three basic elements in the healing process:  (1) the present emotional pain, (2) the original memory container and (3) the original lie(s) implanted in the memory container.

The present emotional pain is the feeling that surfaces in our current situation when a memory-based lie is triggered.  The original memory container is the original event in which the lie-based pain was implanted and stored.  The original lie is the belief that was implanted in the original painful memory causing the present pain.  Each of these three elements plays a part in our thinking, feeling, and behavioral responses to life.  The present emotional pain is an indicator that a lie-based belief is being exposed.  All lies have their original root in a memory source.  When the lies contained in these memory sources are identified and exposed to the light of Christ, freedom can follow.

Principle SixPeople are in emotional bondage due to two basic factors – belief and choice.  These two factors are rooted in the context of deception.

This is a very important concept.  Belief and choice are the foundation of everything about me.  Because I believe the things I do, I make choices.  These choices maintain the perpetual cycle of bondage in which I suffer.  However, freedom also involves these two primary factors.  As I come to know God’s truth (belief), I am able to make different choices.  Freedom occurs as I receive the truth from the Lord and then choose to walk in it.  The one additional element in this truth process is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who grants us new thoughts, leading tot he knowledge of His truth that allows us to come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil  (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Principle SevenWhen we believe a lie, the outcome will often have much the same consequences as though it were true.

The power of a lie is such that if we believe it to be the truth, it will play itself out in our lives as though it were true.  Our belief dictates much of our present reality.  Therefore, as my thinking changes, so does my reality.  When the Spirit of Christ brings truth into my thinking, He replaces the lie with truth, and I find genuine release and peace where I once only knew pain.

It is common for a person to contain opposing beliefs at the same time.  I can believe that I am forgiven for a sin in my life (logical truth) and still feel shameful when I think about what I have done (experiential knowledge).  The belief producing the shame has the real power in my life and is also that which will produce the most consequence.  My emotional state will point you to my true belief system.  It does not matter that what I believe is false; it will have much the same outcomes as though it were true.

Principle EightTo be free of the lies we believe, we must identify and own the lies rather than suppress or deny we believe them before we can be free from them.

Our natural inclination is to deny that we believe lies and to bury the apparent pain they are producing.  If we do this, however, we will maintain a cycle of perpetual defeat in our lives.  As long as lies remain embedded in our minds, they will continue to surface as pain every time they are triggered by situations similar to their original implantation.  If I believe that I am worthless and this lie causes me to feel such, I may choose to deny this belief and perform with “confidence” and become an overachiever with notable success.  On the outside this appears to be a good thing, but the purpose of the behavior is to deny and bury what I rally hold to be true, thus keeping me in bondage.  Freedom requires that I acknowledge and take responsibility for what I believe and feel its corresponding emotional pain.  I must choose to lay down my feeble defenses and attempts to deny my pain or to project the pain onto others or onto life circumstances.  In this honest context, God is released (by my will) to free me.

Principle NineIn the midst of our “darkness,” we must come to realize how utterly bound we are to the lie and how helpless we are to overcome its debilitating grip on our lives apart from God’s divine intervention.

As we experience the emotional pain in the memories, we realize that we are helpless, we are trapped in our emotional bondage and we cannot make the pain go away.  This is the same place people in the New Testament were when Jesus healed them physically.  It is the same place Paul found himself when Jesus spoke truth into his painful circumstance when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

When we try to break free through self-effort and working hard, we will eventually fail.  We have no more ability in ourselves to overcome the sin and lies in our lives today than we did before the Cross.  Christ in us is our power to overcome, not self-effort.  Freedom is not a “you and me, God” process, but an “I am weak, but He is strong” realization.

Principle TenNo person, including ourselves, is capable of talking us out of the lies we believe.  We will be free only when we receive the truth from the One who is Truth (see John 16:12).

God is not limited in the ways he chooses to deliver His truth to us.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is but one method He uses.  However, much of the training seminars and self-help books being written are based on the idea that if a person can be helped to see what is wrong in his or her thinking and be provided with truth, he or she can then choose to replace false thinking with the truth and change his or her life.  Cognitively receiving truth may have little or no impact on releasing a person from the lie-based emotional pain in his or her life unless it is delivered to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is incorrect to assume that people can walk in victory by making right choices and trying hard.  Self-effort and controlled behavior can achieve moment-to-moment abstinence but not true victory. Such thinking lies at the heart of works-sanctification and is the basis for most other world religions.  The truth is, most people already logically know why they are in pain and logically hold the truth they need, yet they are still in emotional misery and still cannot find their way to freedom.  However, when the Holy Spirit is speaking to people who are listening, glorious things always happen.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry simply encourages people to listen as the Lord reveals His truth to their hearts and minds.

One of the clearest passages in the Bible that describes this process is 2 Timothy 2:24-26.  Here the Apostle Paul gives instruction on helping someone who is believing falsehood.  “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, [if God perhaps will grant them repentance.  The original meaning of repentance being a change of thinking], so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

Notice that we as ministers or “servants of the Lord” are called to teach and correct those who are in opposition (this is discipleship), but it is God who accomplishes the task of setting them free.  For until “God grants them repentance [change of thinking]” they cannot come to “know the truth.”  It is important to note that the word translated “repentance” here is not necessarily “turning from sin” as it is often understood but rather the changing of one’s thinking.  The Dictionary of Biblical Languages, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon all define repentance as “change of mind which results in change of life (style).  The word “know” here means to embrace experientially as opposed to having just logical mental assent.  This is the same word that Mary, the mother of Jesus, used when she said to the angel that she had not “known” or had intercourse with any man.

We ministers have an important role in leading people to the place where they are willing to submit themselves unto God and receive from Him.  However, unless He grants them repentance or a change of thinking, they will never be free.  When God grants new thought, people come to “know the truth” and “come to their senses” and thereby “escape the snare of the devil” (the snare is the lie-based thinking).  The words translated “coming to their senses” can also be understood to mean to “sober up” or see clearly.  As the Lord grants “change of thinking” the raging swell of pain becomes a placid calm.

Principle ElevenWhen we know the truth experientially, having received truth from God in our memory experience, we can walk in genuine maintenance-free victory in these areas of our lives.

The areas of our minds that are renewed with truth will no longer be stirred up with lie-based pain.  Since our emotional pain is a primary motivator for our inappropriate behavior, we are able to walk in permanent and maintenance-free victory in these specific places where our lies and painful emotions are no longer present.  Knowing the truth experientially frees me to walk in my present righteousness so that I might experientially agree with the Apostle Paul who declared, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; [which I tend to do when I am emotionally stirred and in pain] but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God [which is effortless when I am walking in the truth and peace of the Spirit]” (Rom. 6:12-13).  When I say maintenance-free victory I am referring to the fruits of the Holy Spirit that are produced not through my self-effort but as a natural by-product of the abiding truth of Christ and His residing peace.

Principle TwelveIn times of crisis or in emotionally charged life situations, our experiential knowledge tends to override our logical truth.

Experiential knowledge (not necessarily truth) is that which I have come to believe through experience.  This knowledge is primarily my interpretation of the experience more so that the details of the event.  For example, if I was abused as a child, my experiential knowledge may be that I believe that I am dirty and shameful.  Logical truth is that which is confirmed truth learned through cognitive processes such as personal study and biblical instruction.  The power the experiential knowledge holds over the logical truth is in the painful emotion, which is often attached to the knowledge learned in experience.  I can know logically that God loves me and has forgiven me of my sins and yet not be able to shake the bad feelings of worthlessness, rejection, self-hate or shame attached to the lie-based thinking in my experiential knowledge held in memory.  When these lies are triggered, I have no choice but to feel their pain.  Some suggest that we should just deny these feelings and walk in victory.  Although some practice this, most would confess that this approach is lacking joy and fulfillment.

It is difficult to appropriate logical biblical truth if what we have learned experientially is contrary to our logically held truth.  But as we go to the lie-based sources, discern the lie and receive the experiential truth God has for us, we can readily appropriate the logical truth of Scripture we comprehended only cognitively before.  It is easy to logically believe that we are loved and fully accepted by God when we experientially hear Him tell us “I love you” in our painful memory experiences.  This is not to say that we should not choose to obey the truth and do what is right even while in the midst of our emotional pain.  However, while obedience in the midst of lie-based pain has merit and is praiseworthy, it is better to be able to obey from the heart without having lie-based pain in our face.  This is effortless victory that comes when the knowledge of our experience lines up with what we already know logically.

Principle ThirteenLie-based pain can only be removed as the lies causing the pain are replaced with truth, whereas sin-based pain can only be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.

The only cure for sin is the Cross.  This pain is different from the pain one carries as a consequence of lie-based thinking.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry does not minimize the role sin plays in the life of a person.  If we sin, we will and should fee pain. However, it is not an either-or but a both situation.  The writer of Hebrews said that we must “lay aside every encumbrance [weighty things and lie-based pain] and [both] the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).

I am not suggesting that Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is the only way to accomplish this.  But this is a systematic way of leading people to the place where God has always been.  He resides in truth and rewards those who seek Him.  This is nothing new in relation to what God has been doing within His people all along.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is merely an avenue or process for effectively appropriating one aspect of God’s process of mind renewal and sanctification.

HEALING, HELP, AND HOLINESS IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

SOURCE:  BILL BELLICAN

A lot happens in life in the present moment.  Anything (good or bad) can happen at any given moment.  What’s even more real (and amazing) is how God desires that we grow in our ability to engage with Him about all things in all moments.  In other words, He desires to have a vibrant, interactive, moment-by-moment fellowship with each of us in each present moment of our lives.

Concerning the more painful side of life, God constantly invites us to commune with Him, to discuss with Him the hard realities of life as we are affected by and experience these realities, and to depend upon Him more.  As we do these things, we learn how to wait on and watch for His wise and loving involvement in all our life needs and situations.

Among the hard realities of life are that we are responsible for and experience the consequences of our own personal sins, we suffer at the hands of others who sin against us, and we live in a fallen and broken world that sometimes comes crashing down on us.  As a result, we encounter hurts, wounds, engage our own unhealthy coping behaviors, are subject to the attacks of Satan, and find ourselves constrained by various strongholds of negative thoughts and emotional responses. This all makes life, at times, exceedingly miserable and difficult.  Furthermore, any unhealthy or dysfunctional responses we make to these hard realities hinder our progress toward holiness and being made Christ-like which is God’s will for us.

As we learn to take full advantage of our present relationship with God and invite His involvement in every present detail of life we encounter, we learn how to talk with Him more deeply, intimately, and honestly and to trust in His good and loving ways to deal rightly and compassionately in our lives and makeus into the person He intends us to be.

The following are just some examples of various interactions I have with God in the present moment as I bring before Him my genuine needs for healing, help, and holiness in my life:

— I ask the Holy Spirit to help me acknowledge to the Lord any specific strongholds of thoughts — things that “feel” true to me in an unhealthy, negative sense.  I offer these strongholds up to the Lord  trusting Him to begin displacing them with His truths.

— I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any lies or untruth unknown to my conscious mind that I am believing in the present moment.  Then I choose to bring this lie-based thinking into the healing presence of Jesus for Him to renew my mind.

— I ask the Lord for His Lordship over any specific behavioral strongholds (i.e., destructive coping behaviors and habits) that affect me.  I request He demolish the strongholds as I faithfully look only to Him to do what I am powerless to do.

— I ask the Lord to make it possible for me to hear and sense only His truth that I might receive it in place of lies and distorted thinking.  I willingly choose to dedicate my all (i.e, everything good and bad about myself) to the Lord, and I reaffirm my current situation/thinking/feelings belong to Him along with my desire to be enslaved only to Him.

— I confess to the Lord any aspect of actual sin or compromise on my part that occurs to me including my awareness of and regret about my fallenness and potential to sin.

— I realistically share with the Lord the hurt, wounds, pain, bitterness, and unforgiveness I feel as a result of what others have done to me.  I request His Power to release to Him these wounds/hurts trusting Him to take them away and deal with them as He will.  I ask for the ability to trust that He will right every wrong done to me in His way and timing.  I also ask to receive His ability to forgive and release others for what they have done to me. I even boldly tell Him about any anger or hurts I have toward Him and ask for His perspective about these while trusting He will lovingly carry my distorted perspectives away as He cleanses me.

— I recall who I am to and in Christ and ask that the Holy Spirit remind me about my God-given position, rights, and privileges as a member of the family of God that I might proclaim and experience the reality of these truths.

— I choose to proclaim (in the Name of Jesus) that I resist Satan, his demons, their influence, and all lies as I obediently seek the Holy Spirit’s filling/control and the empowerment to put on the spiritual armor  of God.

— I choose to rebuke (in the Name of Jesus) Satan, his demons, and their lies, and I ask the Lord to rebuke these, also.  I reaffirm that God chose me as His own forever.

— I proclaim to the Lord how I choose to rejoice in Him (with His enablement) regardless of what my circumstances, struggles, failures, feelings are, since Who He is and What He allows are rooted in His Goodness toward me.

— I ask the Lord to show me what obedience to Him looks like, to train me in obedience, and to motivate me to obedience as a way of expressing my love for and faith in Him as He demolishes strongholds in my life along with the unhealthy thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors attached to these strongholds.

— I praise God for Who He is,  because of His total involvement and interest in every minute detail of my life, and for His indescribable love for me as He works within these details.

May these be of help to you as the triune God — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — engages you in a deeper, more intimate, real, more constant communion with Him in the present moment as He brings to you: healing, help, and holiness.

Scriptural References:  Pr 23:7;  Zec 3:1-2;  John 8:32, 36;  Ro 8:29, 12:2;  2 Co 10:3-5;  Php 4:8; 1Th 3:13, 4:3;   Jude 9

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.

 

The Safe Place

(Adapted from Strong Winds & Crashing Waves by Terry Wardle, 83-85)

A Spirit-led exercise to practice the presence of the Lord

Communicating truth by creating word pictures is employed all through Scripture. Isaiah said that God gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).  The Psalmist talks about being covered by the wings of God and finding refuge under his feathers (Psalm 91:4).  In both cases, the Lord was speaking metaphorically, creating a picture in the reader’s mind so that he or she could better comprehend God’s protective care.  Creating a safe place within is a way that the Spirit communicates truth through a surrendered and sanctified imagination.  When the Spirit does speak, the truth will always be consistent with the teachings of Scripture, which is in itself the test for what one is seeing, sensing, and hearing during the exercise.

The safe place exercise is a follows:

* Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

* Take several deep breaths, letting them out slowly.

* Begin to whisper words of thanks and praise to the Lord.

* After a few moments, invite the Holy Spirit to take over your imagination.

* Ask the Spirit to create within your mind a safe place where you can meet the Lord.  It may be an imaginary place or somewhere you have actually been before that is special, like a cabin, beach, or spot along a quiet stream.

* Rest there for as long as you like, enjoying all the surroundings.  If you experience some dissonance or distraction, ask the Holy Spirit to take it away in the name of Jesus.

* When ready, invite the Lord to join you in that place.  If that frightens you, ask him to come as the Lamb, or simply allow you to feel his presence.

* Once there, notice the warmth of his love.   Let it soak into your being.  If you are allowing Christ to be there, notice his posture, eyes, and extended arms.  Draw close to him if you desire.

* When ready, tell Jesus how you feel about him.  Then ask how he feels about you.  He may respond with words or maybe actions.  Either way, experience his acceptance and delight.

* If you are ready to conclude the exercise, simply spend a few moments in thanks and praise.

* Take a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly.

* Amen

The Safe Place exercise may take time to develop as a [spiritual] skill.  Many believers, accustomed to a more cognitive expression of the Christian life may have never experienced the Lord in this way.  The idea of giving the Lord access to their “creative imagination” might seem like a foreign concept.  It is important that the believer practice this spiritual exercise every day.  This will be not only a place of peace with the Lord, but it also will be the entree into experiencing the Lord in the healing of past traumatic woundings.

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