What Do You Desire Above All?

desiresDesire. . .does your desire match God’s desire for you? The more your desire aligns with God’s, the happier your life. Especially when you deal with an evil like pornography. This article by Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. 

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Years ago I hated olives. I didn’t like anything about them, and one day my cousin told me that if I ate seven in a row that I would not only acquire a taste for them but would actually like them. So I rose to the challenge. He was so right! I shoved seven into my mouth (not all at once) with great difficulty and a few weeks later I wanted an olive, and the rest is history.

Unfortunately I don’t have to do something seven times before it becomes something that I really like. I wish it were so because we would be spared much trouble.

I was in a workshop with a well-known Christian artist, and he shared that while he was leading a men’s Bible study group in his church he came to learn that several of the men struggled with internet porn. Wanting to understand them better he decided to check out a website.

He did that once and he forever has wished he had not done so. It left a picture in his head. Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Vivid pictures leave a mark on your brain. What we put into our minds we do have to deal with.

What the Bible Says About Desire

“In the last days people will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). I think we are living in those days. Pleasure ads are all around us. We are encouraged to find it and hold on to it. We are told it is our right to feel good. We don’t need to work at desiring it.

Is it wrong to desire pleasure? Absolutely not. God delighted in His Creation, God delights in His Son.  John Piper wrote a book called The Pleasures of God. He writes that God finds pleasure in all He does.

Is it wrong to want pain and suffering gone? Again absolutely not! When Jesus was in the Garden He asked for His “cup” to be removed. Paul asked threee times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. The Psalmist frequently asked for his trouble to be gone.

We are created to desire.

Where Desire Goes Awry

In the garden Adam and Eve desired God, they were intimate with Him, vulnerable with each other. It was a time of perfect and pure pleasure and then the snake subtly brought a new thought. They could find pleasure elsewhere, so Eve looked at the apple and it looked amazing, so she took it and ate of it. She was enticed to find her fulfillment (he
r pleasure) in something other than God.

God longs for us to find our absolute pleasure in Him. Here we get to taste that in part, one day we will have pleasures forever more and they will be fully met when we see Him face to face.

When then does desire for pleasure go awry? It goes awry when we want the fullness of pleasure now!

  • It goes awry when desire gives birth to a need and the need gives birth to a right or demand. James 1 says the temptation when conceived gives birth to sin.
  • It goes awry when we don’t know how to handle and deal with our trouble or pain or past.
  • It goes awry when we buy into the lie that pornography will satisfy.
  • It goes awry when we see it as a normal part of our existence rather than self-seeking.
  • It goes awry when what I want is more important than what God wants.

It may have started innocently enough You may have looked twice at a pop up on the computer, you may have accidentally connected with someone on Facebook, maybe you took too long a gaze at a magazine counter, maybe as a child someone shared something with you that you were too young to see, maybe you had an abusive experience when you were young and although you hated the abuse your body betrayed you by responding to the touch, maybe you were just curious. This list is endless as to how you were enticed.

Again we are creatures who were made to find pleasure, but. . .

we are so easily satisfied with the apple and miss out on the greater pleasures of God who created the apple.

Desire and Pornography

Pornograpdesireshy promises release from pain, release from tension, a different focus, pleasure because it always will lead to masturbation. I wish I could say this was a male problem, but more and more it is also a temptation for women. I wish I could say it would satisfy but it won’t. It will leave you filled with shame and guilt and worse.

It will rule you. It is a horrid and heavy chain. It is done in secret, it brings with it lies, it leaves a path of broken homes and relationships.

One glance and Eve was done. It’s not like you have to look seven times as in eating olives, but the end result is the same you will want more.

The bite had Adam and Eve. . .

  • thrown out of paradise, out of Eden,
  • out of the place where pleasure with God was a daily experience,
  • out of openness with each other.

Instead they ran for fig leaves. Hiding began. Brokenness was born. The apple didn’t deliver what the snake had promised.

Hope for You

Friend, pornography will not deliver either. If you are already involved in pornography you already know this. Find help. Make the call. Your relationships will be blessed if you do, your walk with God will be restored if you do, and you will open yourself up to experience the pleasures of God if you do.

Jesus came to set the captive free so if you are thinking “I am too stuck, I have tried it all, I have been involved for too long” hear this…Jesus came to give release to the captive, to give freedom from bondage, to give joy and fulfillment, to heal and restore relationships.

He is able! His love and grace and restoring ability is ALWAYS greater than our sin. 

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. Romans 5:20

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Biblical Counseling Versus Christian Counseling

counseling

Is “biblical counseling” the same as “Christian counseling”?

Very often it’s not.

I’m going to share a short story of what I learned the hard way. I want to spare you unnecessary pain and confusion. Sound cool?

Before I made an appointment with a “Christian” counselor, I wish I had heard these words from Pastor John MacArthur: “Modern psychologies use hundreds of counseling models and techniques based aon a myriad of conflicting theories, so it is impossible to speak of psychotherapy as if it were a unified and consistent science.”

And this from Elyse Fitzpatrick:

Sadly, what Christian women need to know to live an abundant life is not found in many of today’s ‘Christian’ self-help books. Instead of guidance in knowing and pleasing God, which is the way to finding abundant life, we are given man-centered philosophies on how to love ourselves more, how to get more out of life, how to assert ourselves.

Our greatest need is being ignored.

What we need most of all is to know God.

I pray you’ll have more discernment than me when you decide to reach out for help. Would you like a great way to find profiles of excellent female biblical counselors who have been vetted? Check out my Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

Finding a Counselor the Old Way

In my early 30s, I grabbed the phone book — Google had yet to come on the scene — and looked up “counseling,” searching for a Christian counselor. I figured he’d counsel by the Bible. Foolish me.

We prayed once in a while, but he also encouraged a crazy technique called transference. I became to depend on him for my happiness. I wanted his approval not God’s And every time I left the counseling office I felt worse, and my “counselor addiction” grew.

He said this transference meant I was healing. I was getting worse! He said to expect this as I got better emotionally. Are you shaking your head?

To make a long story short, for my emotional and spiritual health, I had to ditch this counselor. Quick. (It took my a year and I half to figure this out!)

God through the Word set me free. Good-bye, confusion. Years later I stumbled on true biblical counseling. What a difference!

Embracing the Best

Here’s the great definition of biblical counseling out there. It’s by Bob Kellermen.

If you ever need help, as I did, as we all do from time to time, contact me. Biblical e-counseling is effective and affordable. Most of my clients need eight visits or less (in person or by Skype).

Here is part of Bob’s definition. I made a few edits but kept the meaning fully intact.

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.

Rather,

Biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit

to relate God’s inspired truth

about people, problems, and solutions

to human suffering and sin

to empower people to exalt and enjoy God

and to love others

by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ

and the Body of Christ.

Question: Have you had a bad Christian counseling experience? Share in Comments, below.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Rejection: Does Anyone Hear Me?

rejectionRejection! You’ve faced it. So have I. Hasn’t every woman? 

Isn’t it wonderful to know God accepts you, sweet sister? Acceptance is daylight to rejection’s black. When feelings of rejection creep up, you could be in the middle of a party and feel isolated, cut off, abandoned.

This short, 2-minute video speaks to the hurting heart and rejection. I have something to say afterward. After you watch, please read on. Thanks. 🙂

Do you want to overcome the pain of rejection? Do you want to be heard? Do you want a God-honoring solution?

Finding Solutions

Biblical counseling uncovers the root issues of the feelings of rejection (and other difficulties) and provides practical, God-honoring solutions.

Isn’t it amazing that God empowers you to live full and godly lives that please him? 

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

Do you want everyday victory over rejection and follow Christ’s way?

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. See to it hat no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:6-8

Beyond Rejection

I specialize in counseling women and families who want an action plan to get well. The problems they bring include:

marital struggles
depression
loneliness
anger
worry, anxiety, panic attacks
addictions, eating disorders, cutting
abuse (sexual, physical, emotional)

Like you I’ve experienced pain. In Christ I’ve found healing. My healing was not complete in a day. I immersed myself in the Bible, praise music, and prayer. I now have peace in my circumstances and know what to do when I trip into an emotional pothole of misery.

Finding Acceptance

Are you ready to find freedom from the feeling of rejection? Contact me for a complimentary 20-minute introductory consult by phone. I’d love to answer your questions and together decide whether biblical counseling is a good fit for you.

I’m an experienced, certified biblical counselor called by God to counsel women and families who want practical, Christ-centered help and hope. I also counsel female ministry leaders, who often struggle with problems too. Read more about me.

Counseling hope to the heart is God’s purpose for me. Do you need someone to listen to your story and find biblical solutions to your hurt? Please contact me today.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Know and Accept your New Identity in Christ

New Identity

Your new identity in Christ matters; shake off your false identity. It’s gone. Accept the truth you are a wonderful and treausured new creation.

Did you know that when you embrace who God says you are — blessed, forgiven, precious and more — you discover true contentment? Who doesn’t want unwavering contentment, a very real and blessed happiness?

But you’ve struggled with self-acceptace, haven’t you? Dare I say we all have. Our false identities cling like cat hair. We don’t like them but they are hard to shake. . .even after we become Christians and get an inkling of the Truth.

Believing the World’s Lies

Many years ago, like many overly self-counscious teen girls, I stared in the bathroom mirror and my 14-year-old eyes spoke the question of my soul: Who am I?

A gangling eighth-grader; a highly sensitive, gangling eighth-grader, I tried to smile at the right times at my new school and not do something stupid. Basically I just wanted to fit in.

Did I mention I was shy?

Then the popular (aka mean) girls at my new school thought it hilarious to call me spacey. I wondered if this was who I was.

Was I “spacey” like the mean girls at my new school said?

Insecure, yes. Quiet, yes. Spacey, no.

Then, later that year — and I didn’t tell a soul at school — my dad spent more than a month in a psych ward, and his diagnosis of manic-depression scrambled my thoughts. Like father, like daughter? Did his problem determine my identity?

Even later that horrible year, a boy molested me several times. Was my identity now “victim”?

Where to Find Acceptance

For a long time, yes. I saw myself as an insecure, anxious victim who longed for acceptance. I tried and tried and tried to make people like me. My happiness depended on what others thought of me and how they treated me. I was a people-pleaser through and through, and that’s a horrible way to live, being jerked around by others’ opinions.

Then God showed me a better way: What matters most is who God says I am. The same is true for you.

Think about it. Who knows me best? Who knows you best? The real you. Your Maker, right?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s careAnd even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

In Christ alone, you discover your new identity and know God accepts you because of the Cross.

What Would You Add to the List?

Here’s the short list of who he says you are. Would you like the long list? I’d be honored to send you a complimentary download. Just leave a comment below or contact me.

Please notice they are present tense. They are true of you now.

You are blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)

You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are complete. (Colossians 2:9-10)

You are eternally secure. (Romans 8:31-39)

You are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are God’s treasure. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

These statements are true of folks who are believers in Jesus as their Savior. If you are not certain that you are a believer, may I encourage you to go here to find out? Easy to understand. Interactive. Answers your questions.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Gratefulness: Choosing Gratitude Every Day

gratefulness

Gratefulness. Wouldn’t you like to become grateful. . .today and every day?

Ponder this thought inspired by a TED talk. . .

Is today just another day? No, it’s not just another day. It’s the only today you will ever have.

It’s a gift.

What will you do with this gift? This gift of today.

The only appropriate response is gratefulness. . .

Gratefulness. What is it? Why do you need it? How do you become grateful?

Gratefulness Is an Attitude

Gratefulness is. . .an attitude.

First, become aware. This morning you opened your eyes. Couldn’t you marvel that you have eyes to open? Do not take your eyes for granted.

They let you see. . .

. . .faces, the beautiful faces, of everyone around you. The young, the old. Those wrinkles tell stories, amazing stories, stories you need to hear for they will enrich you and you will bless the teller of the stories as you listen with your ears, with your eyes.

Second, listen well. Listen to children’s laughter and the coo of the mourning dove and the sound of the crickets as each runs the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom wing, holding its wings up like an accoustical sail. Nature’s orchestra plays as stars shine silently, diamond speckles on black velvet.

As you become aware, as you listen well, the attitude of gratefulness blossoms within you like a rose in winter.

You Need Gratefulness

You need gratefulness; gratefulness unfurls your petals.

Without gratefulness you are cold and dry and indifferent and alone. And petals ran on snow, first one drops, then another and another and another and another and

you are naked and scared, so very scared.

But. . .you can choose gratefulness. You need gratefulness. When you are grateful, you become alive — more alive than you’ve been in your entire life — your petals bright red like cranberries.

Through the root you drink in life-giving water and you thrive because you are grateful for God, the earth he created, and the sun, the petals, and the thorns.

Yes, thorns.

Thorns can choke you or teach you. You can embrace your thorns — these trials of life — and be grateful for them. Trials teach you lessons you never would have learned otherwise.

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 2 Corinthians 12:6-8, NIV

Don’t you need gratefulness to embrace the gift of today, whatever today brings?

How Do You Become Grateful?

Very simply choose to have the attitude of gratitude every day, every moment of every day. Isn’t this easy to say, hard to do?

It’s so easy to complain and to let discontentment become discouragement, even despair. With God’s help, you can turn it around. I know you can because He can.

To grow gratefulness, may I suggest a few ideas?

  1. Make a plan. It’s been said when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Your plan needs to fil your personality. It needs a clear goal and process. A few years ago Ann Voskamp counted 1,000 gifts. She jotted them on paper. In the thanking she changed.
  2. Record your gratefulness.

Write: Jot a word or phrase on slips of paper kept in a clear mason jar or on small stones scattered on a platter or on lines in a journal.

Photograph: A new snowfall? Photograph it. Friends gathered around a table? Another photo. A cardinal? Capture the beauty.

Draw or doodle: With colored gel pens or Ticonderoga pencils, sketch words, pictures, and squiggles to each reason for gratefulness.

3.  Check in. Every week read the paper slips, the stones, or your doodles. This reminds you of your reasons for gratefulness and encourages you to stick with your plan.

As you can see, today is not just another day. It is a gift.

Gratefulness is an attitude. it grows. You can become a grateful person.

A Challenge for You

I have a gratefulness challenge for you.

Today make your plan. What will you do? Write, snap photos, or draw? Then select a check-in date, and put it on your calendar.

Today is not just another day. It’s a gift. Be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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