Category Archive: Relationship with God

Apr 03

Video Blog: Anxiety and Philippians 4, Reading it Differently

This week I am trying something new…a video blog….and now apparently a YouTube channel. Yikes! Not sure about this. It feels super vulnerable but I’m hoping it is a new way to share helpful content with you guys.

Anxiety is something we all face and I am sure you’ve heard Philippians 4:6 and maybe you even get irritated with that verse because it is asking you to do something that seems impossible. How can I really be anxious for nothing?? I want to challenge us to look at this scripture with new eyes as we start in verse 4 to get the full context.

What stood out to me the most as I was talking was how God does this work in us of reducing our anxiety….it’s not from us…it’s from Him. Now that is good news.

Things I have learned already about video blogging: landscape mode is best!! Oh well, one take and here it is. Please feel free to leave comments or direct message me on topics you would like to see covered.

I’ve attached the scripture (with my notes) below!!

Anxiety and Philippians 4

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/philippians4/

Jan 09

The Troubled Journey: A Parable of Life, Obstacles, and Hope

This week I am excited to share a parable written by my son.  It’s an amazing picture of what I’ve observed personally in my own life and as a counselor who sits with many people on a troubled journey.

Troubled Journey

There was once a person, who sat, troubled. For this person had been on a journey, and had come to a cliff blocking their path. They saw no bridge to cross it, and saw no way around it for the air was too dark. So they sat, wondering if their journey had come to an end. After what seemed like a very long time of sitting and staring, they began to question if they need only walk off the cliff. And up they stood, with rash, to walk off. 

But then they saw something approaching them in the darkness. A spirit had come to them. The spirit seemed to have a familiar face and they greeted the spirit as one does. Then the spirit turned them around. And all of a sudden, they felt comforted by a presence that had always been with them but they had never noticed. They saw that the path behind them was light, and they saw many faces all smiling towards them. Many faces of which they knew as old friends, and many faces of which were unknown to them.

Guided by the comforting presence they walked to the smiling people and told them their problem. Then all of the smiling people walked to the edge and began to form a bridge. All together the smiling people formed a bridge and for the first time the person, once troubled, could see the other side of the cliff. So they walked across the bridge with the comforting presence. While walking across, they almost fell many times, but whenever they did the comforting presence carried them back to balance.

Eventually, they crossed the bridge and stood at the other side that once did not exist to them. The smiling people stood together with them and they began to walk the new path they saw. And through the time walking this path they crossed many cliffs where the smiling people made bridges for them, and they helped make many bridges for others of the smiling people who then frowned. But they could always tell that the comforting presence was with them, either guiding or carrying.

Written by Nathan Thompson

Everyone sees something a little bit different in this parable. Please comment below with your thoughts and reflections. Like it? Please share it on social media. There is always hope!

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/troubled-journey/

Dec 06

Peace, Rest, and Joy are the Gifts You Really Want

rest peace and joyI’ve written several Christmas blog posts over the last few years. All have been geared to help us (women in particular) eliminate stress this time of year by letting go of the idea of a perfect Christmas. To read them click here (The Not Perfect Christmas and  Hope for the Holidays)

This year, I’ve been thinking more about what I really want for Christmas:

Peace.

Rest.

Joy.

These words jump off the page and fill us with longing. No matter how life is going for you right now, whether mostly good or horribly difficult….my guess is you still long for peace, rest, and joy. You get glimpses of each throughout each day yet we all go to bed weary longing for more. 

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to surrender and abide in the true vine, Jesus. John 14-17 is full of a mixture of Jesus talking to his disciples about peace but also worldly sorrow and struggle. Its interesting because struggle and peace don’t coexist in our minds very well. I wonder if we believe on some level that peace means the absence of trouble? Yet scripture doesn’t teach that at all. Here Jesus tells his disciples that they will definitely have trouble in the world. He had trouble and his biggest trouble was about to happen when he is arrested in John 18. To expect a trouble free life when our Savior’s life was full of trouble doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet we do….deep down we long for things to go well. Maybe that’s the part of us that knows the world is broken and longs for real peace. Our mistake is seeking it apart from Jesus or seeing the pain in this world as something God has inflicted upon us..

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to really surrender. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Every other place and thing we expect to bring us true rest, peace, and joy doesn’t last. They are only a taste of what’s available when we abide in Jesus and a taste of what is to come when all things are made new.

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:4-5

This idea is a continual connectedness. Clearly Jesus is talking to believers in this passage because he says they “are already clean” (John 15:3). So it seems that we can be saved and chose not to abide in Christ. I think stress, busyness, pain, difficulty, struggle, and selfishness are all things that distract us and contribute to a lack of abiding. Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God and not a one time thing. Salvation (justification) is a one time thing.

Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God's love flow in and out of us. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God’s love flow in and out of us.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17

There are two parts to this: accepting how much God loves you and loving others. For many, accepting how much God loves you is really hard. We all know how broken we are and how much we’ve done that we know violates God’s law. It’s the story written throughout scripture, starting in Genesis. God loving a people that can’t obey his law. There was no one that earned God’s love. In fact, God loved us all so much that he sent Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf. It’s a pure, sacrificial love of a unlovable, unfaithful people. That’s the love God has for you, not based on what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you…but a love based on the gracious, mercy of the Giver. As I reflect on how amazing God’s love is, I’m in awe. It’s this love that we pour out to others…not because they’ve earned it but because we’ve been on the receiving end of undeserved love….now we get to give it…not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God loves you, not based on what you've done or not done or what's been done to you. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  John 15:18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’m not sure why we are always so surprised by stress and struggle but we are. Somewhere we have an expectation that life should be easier than it is. Jesus never promised an easy life…but he did promise to provide us with peace in our difficult life (Romans 8) and hope for the future (Revelation 21). As we walk into a very busy, stressful season of the year, one that is meant to point us to the amazing time where God gave us the gracious gift of Jesus, let us remember rest, peace, joy, and hope. Rest that you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation…Jesus did it all for you. Celebrate the peace you have with God because of Jesus and pursue the internal peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. Allow joy to overflow because of the love God pours into you. And, claim hope because one day all things will be made new and we won’t have to any longer choose to abide with God because he will physically be with us.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Let’s not just give lip service to the idea of surrender but think about what it means to really lay down all to Jesus. The amazing thing is that as I give this gift to Jesus, he gives me what I really need….peace, rest, joy, and hope. Is it easy? No. Will I fail? Yes. Beloved, God knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t expect perfection. He is our perfection. He just wants a surrendered relationship with his beloved.

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/peace-rest-joy/

Aug 26

Struggling? Experiencing Trouble? Need A Very Present Help??

Present HelpI’ve decided to write occasionally about thoughts God shows me during my personal Bible study time. This week I’ve been really thinking about Psalm 46:2. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This is something I think we as Christians have a great intellectual understanding of but struggle to really grasp it with our hearts and soul.

We know God is for us and gives us strength and we know that we can turn to Him in times of trouble. Yet, I’m not sure we really believe He is a present help. I mean we know eventually it will all work out when Christ returns but do we believe He is a present help? Not just a present help but a very present help? If we really believed it, I think we would be less worried and stressed. So what keeps us from experiencing God’s very present help?

I think it may be connected to our ability to surrender to Him. We like to be in control and we like to know what is going to happen next. If we know, then we can prepare for the bad or rest in knowing that it will work out. Right? But God doesn’t help us in that way…He doesn’t tell us what is coming or what is next. So maybe we don’t experience God’s present help because we don’t surrender to His way of helping us.

God is a Sheild“This God—His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalms 18:30

This passage indicates that God wants us to take refuge in Him. We go to Him. He wants us to confidently “draw near” as Hebrews 4:16 tells us. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.” So maybe God’s help isn’t always taking away our trouble but being with us in our trouble. Perhaps He wants us to come to Him, seek Him, and find that He is enough.

God is not for my comfort or my easy happy life. God is for God and His glory. He gets glory because He creates, love, saves, is merciful, extends grace, is patient, redeems, and restores. God is doing big things and wants us to join Him. He is working in good times and bad to change us and mold us. He wants us to be a part of ministering to broken people and saving lost people. We weren’t promised an easy happy life without trouble. But we were promised God’s very present help in trouble. You may not feel it but it’s there. Scripture is very clear on that. It doesn’t say you will feel differently as God is a present help OR that God will take away your trouble….it just says He IS a present help IN trouble.

So draw near (Heb. 4:16). Gaze on the beauty of God (Psalm 40:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Remind yourself of His truths (2 Peter 1). Meditate on how much He loves you (Psalm 139, Ephesians 1). Worship God, know He is near, tell Him everything, surrender to Him, and He will give you peace (Philippians 4:4-7).

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Maybe God’s help isn’t always taking away our trouble but being with us in our trouble. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/present-help/

Apr 10

5 Anxiety Management Tips

anxiety management tipsSeeking anxiety management tips that really work? Tired of struggling? Worn-out and exhausted by anxiety and stress? Want something different? We all struggle with anxiety and stress on some level. Yet, some of us experience it at more intense levels. These anxiety management tips are the most frequent things I teach in my counseling practice. I’m going to give them to you for FREE! So take a deep breath, get comfortable, relax, and keep reading.

Anxiety is a powerful emotion that can develop into a vicious cycle.  It may start for one reason but the cycle can continue for different reasons.  See my previous post on anxiety to understand how this cycle starts and continues.

anxiety cycleNow, understanding anxiety is helpful but what someone struggling with anxiety really needs is in the moment help!  When in the midst of anxiety, the natural response is to escape NOW whatever situation you’ve decided is causing this response.  Unfortunately, this  can lead to increased anxiety either now or in the future.


Aaaah! So what can you do?  What does the Bible say?  What does the research say?  Is there hope?

YES!  There is HOPE for those brave people willing to try something different.  Let me tell you, I am serious about the word brave!  It takes incredible bravery to face any kind of fear head on and I am humbled by those I’ve seen take these steps.  To me, you are a real hero!  

It takes incredible bravery to face any kind of fear head on! Click To Tweet

Below are methods for dealing with anxiety that I teach in my counseling practice. These are proven techniques that are both psychologically and Biblically sound. 

5 Anxiety Management Tips

  1. Accept the anxiety. Stay with me…I know it sounds crazy but give yourself permission to experience the anxiety. Instead of trying to distract or get rid of the anxiety…acknowledge it…expect it. This emotion is trying to speak to you. What is it saying? This turns the tables on the anxious experience. Instead of anxiety being the uninvited guest barges in your house, it becomes the welcomed messenger.

    Instead of trying to distract or get rid of the anxiety...acknowledge it...expect it. Click To Tweet

  2. anxiety management tipsCalm the physical body:  The physical response to anxiety is so overwhelming that it’s extremely scary.  Fear is a physical experience because our body is preparing to fight or run. That is a natural and normal response to fear. When we experience fear:  all the blood in our body moves to our legs, our breathing and heart rate increase, and certain hormones are released. This all happens to protect us but often in our culture, we don’t need to run or fight. So how can we short circuit this physical cycle? With deep slow breathing. Take a deep slow breath in (count to 4)….Hold (count to 4)…Breathe out slow (count to 4). Repeat as many times as needed, till the anxiety comes down. Pay attention to your breath…imagine you are breathing in calm and breathing out fear. Practice this type of breathing when you are not anxious so it is easier to do in the midst of panic. Scripture tells us we have the power to calm ourselves in the face of fear.  “I have made myself calm and content like a young child in its mother’s arms. Deep down inside me, I am as content as a young child…put your hope in the Lord both now and forever.” Psalm 131:2-3

    How can we short circuit the body's response to anxiety? With deep slow breathing Click To Tweet

  3. Focus on the Present Moment:  This just means being fully present in the current moment.  So much of our worry and fear is focused around something that happened in the past or what might happen in the future.anxiety management tips

    The present moment is all we really have power over. Focusing on the present moment brings us into a space we have power in and it focuses our mind. The psychological term is mindfulness.

    For the Christian, this has two parts:

    Being fully present with yourself in the current moment.  This involves taking the focus off of your anxiety/fear and placing it onto the observable world around you.  Using your senses, evaluate what you hear, see, taste, touch, or smell.  Start describing you immediate present moment.  Name 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you touch, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. Sometimes just observing the world with our senses can bring mental calm.  When Jesus deals with his disciple’s anxiety, He points out what He observes in the present moment around them.

    So much of our worry and fear is focused around the past or what might happen in the future. Click To Tweet

    Observing the world with our senses can bring mental calm. Click To Tweet

    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?   Matthew 6: 25-30

    Being fully present in the current moment with God.  God is always with you no matter your experience.  Remembering that in the middle of panic is one of the ways the Bible instructs us to handle the difficult situations we encounter.  Jesus reminds his disciples of this in Matthew 6.  God calls us continually to come to Him for REST.

    God is always with you no matter your experience. Click To Tweet

    Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6: 31-34

    “Be still, and know that I am God.”   Psalm 46:9

    “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices.”  Psalm 37:7

    You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 46:8

    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28

    “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

    You can read more about mindfulness, here.

  4.  Challenge anxious thoughts:  Thoughts are powerful and most of us believe whatever we think.  In addition, we develop thinking habits over time.  Do any of these habits sound familiar to you:

    Negative thinking

    Jumping to conclusions

    Predicting an outcome

    Comparing yourself to others

    Reading other people’s minds

    Critical internal voice

    Catastrophizing

    Harsh judgments of self and others

    Thoughts are powerful and most of us believe whatever we think. Click To Tweet

    If you identify with any of these thinking patterns (and let’s be honest, we all do this on some level) then let’s start here.  You may anxiety management tipsnot even realize that those thoughts are leading to anxiety….but it is! That is why anxiety must be accepted and listened to. It is telling you that something is off…often what’s off is our thinking. Learning how to challenge our thoughts and change our internal dialogue will dramatically change our experience.  

    But how?  Start by:  1) Giving yourself permission to question your thoughts 2)Journal your thoughts, 3) Question whether your thoughts are true  or balanced, and 4) Consider alternative self-compassionate thoughts.  If you struggle with this, find a good counselor who can help you.

    Scripture tells us to:

    Pay attention to our thoughts:  “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he” Proverbs 23:7

    Renew our mind.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2  

    Evaluate  and recognize truthful and beneficial thoughts.  “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32  “Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.”  Philippians 4:8

    Read more about challenging your thoughts here.

  5. Look at your heart:  What we are anxious about reveals what we value and treasure.  I know that’s tough to hear but it’s truth.  Matthew 6:21 tells us that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Jesus tells people this right before he instructs them not to worry.  Our worry reveals what we value.  For some people, it is safety, for others control, for some it’s how they perform, and for others it’s the image others have of them.

    Worry reveals what we value. Click To Tweet

    What is deep behind your fear?  What are you placing at higher value than God?  Do you really trust that God is good?

    God is enough. God is in control.  God is good.  God is at work. God can be trusted. Your identity is settled.

    anxiety management tips“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”  Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3: 18-24

Cling to GRACE:  All of the above things will help you manage and deal with your anxiety.  After some consistent work, you will start to see your anxiety reactions decrease.  However, anxiety may still sneak up on you.  None of us are perfect nor will we achieve that status till God makes all things new.  You know what is awesome?  “There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)  and your perfect record before God as a Christian is the sin free life of Jesus! Cling to that grace! Take a deep breath and start again!  There is always hope!

Your perfect record before God as a Christian is the sin-free life of Jesus. Click To Tweet

Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/anxiety-management-tips/

Apr 01

Identity Attacked

The idea of identity and its significance to our mental and emotional health has been rolling around in my head the last several weeks. Our ability to challenge lies, face fears, and stand up to temptation is all connected to our identity. So what is identity? It’s who, at the core of our being, we are…how in our own minds, we define ourselves. As I reflected on this idea…I came across a passage I have read many times.
matthew3Matthew 3:16-4:3. The temptation of Jesus comes immediately after his baptism. God declares His identity.
“My Beloved Son”.
It is set.
Determined.
Not up for debate or argument.
Yet, with each temptation, Satan starts by questioning His set, established identity.
“If you are the son of God….”.
If you are? Are you kidding? God, the Creator of the Universe just said who He was! He’s God’s beloved Son! There’s no need for Him to prove it by doing anything.
NOTHING!  NO!  PROOF!  NECESSARY!
Temptation begins with the questioning of our fixed identity. Click To Tweet
Yet here is where the temptation begins…with identity. See, your identity as a child of God is SET.  ESTABLISHED.  Identity defined by God's loveSETTLED.
It’s not up for debate.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and SO WE ARE.” 1 John 3:1
But our temptations start here too…with us questioning our set, established identity. We doubt. We wonder. We don’t feel good enough or worthy. We question. We listen to our shame.
Identity matters. Who we believe we are and where we get our value anchors our soul to something. Anchors keep boats from drifting due to wind or current.
Do you anchor your identity in the solid, oceans deep truth that you are a child of God? Or, do you anchor your identity in a neighboring boat. It may be your children, your job, your spouse, a close relationship, your possessions, your image or any other thing. Can you imagine if boats in the ocean threw anchors into each other? They would all SINK! Seriously, it would be chaos. There is only one solid place to anchor your identity.
Identity Anchor
God knows we will struggle with this. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1 John 2:28
This verse says that the secret to anchoring our identity in Christ is to abide. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
Abide means to rest, dwell, accept, and to act in accordance with.
Even when we don’t feel it, abiding in Christ will help us have confidence in our identity. God knows our tendency is to shrink from Him in shame. That’s what we do with other people when we screw up, offend them, disobey, or have conflict. We avoid, hide, or distance ourselves from them. Yet God wants us to draw near.

 

 

Identity matters. Who we believe we are anchors our soul to something. Click To Tweet
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of gracethat we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. He’s been asked to prove Himself, too. He went to the cross so your identity as a child of God can be permanently and forever FIXED!
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. Click To Tweet
Let us with CONFIDENCE draw NEAR to the throne of GRACE to receive MERCY and HELP in our time of NEED.
What a remarkable phrase. You don’t have to have it all together, be perfect, clean yourself up, or have it all figured out to confidently draw near to God. It’s the exact opposite. We confidently draw near to find the help we desperately need!
You don’t have to have it all together to confidently draw near to God. It's the opposite. Click To Tweet
 No matter how loud our shame screams: UNWORTHY! IMPERFECT! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!
You can CONFIDENTLY DRAW NEAR to Jesus.
He wants you to!!!!!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Know that your identity is anchored securely in Jesus. Not in what you do. Not in your relationships. Not in what’s been done to you. It’s in Christ!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Click To Tweet

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/identity-attacked/

Sep 28

Deep Feelings and the Gospel

Loss hurts. Change brings fear of the unknown. Struggle is hard. Trauma changes us.
Sadness, anger, shame, and fear can feel overwhelming leaving us stuck and frozen, not knowing what to do.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Psalm 42:5
“My tears have been my food day and night” Psalm 42:3
How much do we identify with the Psalmist? How much do we struggle with loss, sadness, anger, fear, and shame? How many nights have we wrestled and cried.
Frequently we think it is wrong to experience normal feelings or that somehow it means we don’t have enough faith.
Life in this fallen world hurts. Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans, living in a broken world.
Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans Click To Tweet
The Psalmist reminds us that our souls are thirsty for more…..
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2 

deer2

The water our souls thirst for is found in Jesus. He is Living Water. Every other relationship on this earth will fail to satisfy.
Loss and hurt is a reminder of our need for Him.
Shame and the pain of trauma is a reminder of the deep brokenness of creation and our need for Him.
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. Click To Tweet
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. God can handle your questions. Your feelings communicate needs.
God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. Click To Tweet
In this Psalm, the writer knows he needs to praise God and remember how faithful and loving the Lord has been to Him. He challenges his inner dialogue and reminds himself of the truth!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock; “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5-11
God is good. God is faithful. He has proven His love for me time and again. Remember. He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, redeeming, restoring and rescuing love.
He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, and rescuing love. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/feelings/

Aug 27

We Dig: The Daily Struggle with Addictions and Idolatry

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

We all do this…in a million different ways throughout our lifetimes.
Sometimes it’s pursuing good things like a job, career, or relationships with people.
Sometimes it’s pursuing destructive things like drugs, alcohol, pornography, eating disorders, cutting, or other addictions and idolatry.
Yet we dig. We dig to find water in that, which has no water. We dig with hopes that we will not remain thirsty. We dig fast, we dig hard, we are desperate!
We sweat and we strive. Our muscles ache from the digging. We stand in the midst of the dirt-covered hole that we dug for ourselves and we are mad!!
We are mad at God: mad that He hasn’t quenched our thirst, mad that our arms ache from digging, mad at the pain, mad that we are alone in this pit, mad that we are tired…
Our belief is “only I can meet my need for thirst, I must keep digging, can’t God help me find the water I need”.   We feel abandoned, alone, afraid, tired, dirty, hopeless…
We stop for a minute, weary from the digging; sweat and tears fall down our face.

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

In the stillness, we feel a subtle breeze, and hear the sound of water…. it’s not coming from below where we were digging but from above. We pause and listen.

“Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever, believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

 “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

We set down our shovel and take His beautiful nail scarred hand. He draws us up and out of our pit and guides us to the water we have been so desperately searching for. Here we find grace, restoration, redemption, and peace. Here we experience contentment, despite our circumstances. Here we are fully known in our dirt-covered filth and loved. For redeemed sinners, this is a daily, moment-by-moment reality. For some of us, we are deeper in our holes, we’ve decorated our holes, they are known areas that we think are havens of safety, but we are deceived. In reality, they are dirty and dry. O Lord….

 We “believe; help (our) unbelief!” Mark 9:24

We Dig

The coolest thing about Jesus is that he loves us, even when we take our eyes off him and crawl back down in our holes. He doesn’t judge us or shame us….He took all our sin, shame, and judgement on the cross. He has compassion for us. He extends grace to us! He draws us back, each time…reminding us that what we really thirst for is more of Him. The more we experience His living water, the more we want….

‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;”   Isaiah 55:1-3

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