The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience is a treasured tool I very highly recommend and use regularly in counseling. if you’re a counselor, you’ll appreciate this tool to help women and families. If you’re not a counselor, but want to understand why you feel, and say, and do, the way you do, then this book is for you too.
READ A CHAPTER –> Wouldn’t you like to read a chapter? Here’s a link to chapter one.
In this brief article, you’ll learn from Jeremy Pierre’s book:
- What makes your heart tick
- How the heart is corrupted and redeemed
- A plan to counsel the heart
What Makes Your Dynamic Heart Tick?
Your heart responds cognitively, affectively, and volitionally to the life’s circumstances. It is multidimentional, it is dynamic. Most important, faith in Christ is the means by which your heart can respond to life differently, better.
Did you know each person’s heart is both simple and complex? The heart has automatic responses to situations. But underlying these seemingly auto-responses are deep beliefs, desires, and commitments of which people are generally unaware.
However, people can become aware and should. While psychotherapy on the whole divides awareness into conscious and subconscious, Scripture has a multifaceted view.
The Dynamic Heart, Corrupted
The corruption of the heart began at the Fall (Genesis 3) and infects all of the dynamic heart: cognition, affection, and volition. It shows up as idolatry.
Idolatry is a whole-hearted inclination that fails to believe God is God and worship him alone.
An alcoholic, then, is not worshipping a bottle but something deeper and more complex—a way to get something good apart from God. As this becomes habitual, the person loses sight what the idol is doing to him and he takes on the deadness of the idol to his detriment. God interrupts, he gives a Cross-shaped message of hope.
The Dynamic Heart, Redeemed
Jesus redeems the dynamic heart so it can do what God intends: worship him in thought, desire, and choice. God made the heart to imitate his own. Did you know you are an image-bearer?
While God is unlike people in many ways (e.g., he is omniscient), he is like people in some ways. For instance, he reasons and has emotion. As believers respond whole-heartedly to God and without reservation in reflective prayer and careful study of Scripture, they become more like Jesus.
Counseling the Dynamic Heart
A plan for counseling the dynamic heart requires four tasks. They are:
READ: Hearing people’s hearts
Llistening is crucial to understanding a hurting person and her problem in its context. Hearing the heart includes paying attention to what the counselee is saying (and not saying).
REFLECT: Helping people understand their responses
Self-awareness helps a hurting her connect her intuitive (or, automatic) responses to their belief system. Then she can challenge her automatic heart responses and begin to change.
RELATE: Looking to Jesus
With greater self-awareness of one’s responses, she sees that the help she needs comes from Jesus. Just as a believer trusts Jesus for her salvation from sin, she also learns to trust him for helping her make new heart responses.
RENEW: Calling for new responses from faith
Commitment to change is key. This requires an active faith since “heart change occurs as it is lived out, shaping and reinforcing new values and commitments,” Pierre writes.
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Cancer: A cancer diagnosis surprised Heart2Heart counselor Donna Hart, PhD. Her first question was, “What in this do You want me to learn?” The Lord’s answer: worship. Donna’s article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. Donna also adds an update below to her cancer diagnosis. To all who prayed for her, thank you. –LAM
I was doing well and just starting the deeper research of chapter five of my dissertation. The chapter was on endurance. I prayed the Lord would lead me to the best resources for the research.
Not many days later the doctor called to say the results from the breast biopsy tested positive for cancer. I had had these done before all with negative results so when I got the call I was taken by surprise. We know nothing is a surprise for God and that His hand was allowing this for me.
My first question after the fog cleared was to ask our dear heavenly Father,
“What is in this You want me to learn?”
I got a most curious and surprising one word answer, “worship.”
I am “Miss Independent” and very used to caring for other people; I’m very low maintenance when it comes to needing help from others.
God Provides a Friend
The first person the Lord provided to help me was a good friend who happens to be a nurse. She declared that she was going with me to all doctor’s appointments and surgeries. She said it would be important to have another set of knowledgeable ears to listen. At the time, she was walking through her own deep valley of trial: while she was on a road trip a while back, she looked down for a moment and ran a red ligh. This resulted in a fatality.
During my cancer journey, we walked together; she ministered to me as I ministered to her. I learned that trials are more endurable when walk through it with a friend.
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Through the process of multiple cancer surgeries, my friends would go walking with me because that was the only exercise allowed. They walked with me outside on the miles of bike trail near my home and inside when the weather was inclement. We would talk and grow closer in our relationship.
God Provides Praise Music
The Lord blesses us with His love through the voices of other believers.
The days I walked on the treadmill I would listen to the Vertical Church Band. Do they realize how many songs they have written about heaven? What a gift to me from the Lord to get my heart focused on the right things. I thought, it does not matter what happens, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I will worship You, Lord.
My treatment included four rounds of chemotherapy, four hours each, three weeks apart. My favorite sisters went along with me for this journey. We sat, relaxed, chatted, and knitted. What a blessed treat from the hand of the Lord: sweet friendships to make a trial a joy.
I did not know I was going to be my own dissertation research on endurance. As I sought references for my paper, the Lord brought me to an article on Counseling Suffering by John Piper, and I shall never forget his words, “The Lord is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”
The world is watching: Are we a testimony that the Lord is good and enough, no matter what the trial?
The Lord was with me every step of this journey, teaching me to be less self-sufficient and more dependent upon Him knowing He works all things together for good.
Life After Cancer
Now years later and cancer free, I celebrate that the Lord is a continued song in my heart. I remember His words to me every time I would get my eys off Him and onto the circumsitons, “Iwhat crucified for you.”
Those words are a memorial reminter that He is with me, and I have nothing to fear. He started a goood work and He will finish it.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Emotional abuse destroys a marriage. Sometimes it leads to physical abuse. Today’s guest blogger is Lilly Park, an assistant professor of biblical counseling at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, IN, provides hope an help to wives. This article (Responding to Emotional Abuse in Marriage) first appeart on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.
This post is dedicated to the women I’ve met who have inspired me by their faith and strength in the midst of painful marriages.
Good Marriages, Broken Marriages
I’ve seen marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. How good (and hope-filled!) it is to see real life examples, especially at a time when marriages are being attacked from pornography, homosexuality, and cohabitation. I’ve also seen broken marriages and emotionally abusive relationships, which has taught me a lot about faith.
The women I’ve met believed in submitting to their husbands and tried to do so. At some point, however, they began to change negatively without knowing it. They isolated themselves. They questioned themselves. They started to make excuses for their husbands’ sins.
Some might say that you should continue to submit to his leadership, pray for him, and trust God. Is it acceptable to seek help and possibly even separate, if necessary? When I think of marriage, “protection” is one of the concepts that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s why emotional abuse, or any kind of abuse for that matter, in marriage saddens me in a different way.
My desire is that God might use this blog post to encourage those who are weary, to challenge those who are not trusting God or seeking counsel, and to provide some help to those who are not sure how to help women in emotionally abusive relationships. I’ve also met men who have been abused by their wives, so I certainly do not believe that only women are abused.
Bible Doesn’t Label ‘Emotional Abuse’
The Bible doesn’t use the label “emotional abuse,” but it does prohibit it.
First, we are not to curse people who have been created in the image of God (James 3:9).
Second, emotional abuse violates the two greatest commandments: love God and love others as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40).
Third, emotional abuse violates God’s design for marriage where the husband lovingly leads and the wife lovingly submits (Ephesians 5:21-33).
Fourth, it violates Christian living by denying yourself (Mark 8:34) and speaking wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29).
Fifth, it displays pride and a lack of fear of God, which leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). A husband who commits emotional abuse deceives himself to be a king who deserves glory, honor, and praise.
Sixth, emotional abuse is betrayal to God and people by trying to be like God and deceiving others.
Nature of Emotional Abuse
A common term found in the definition of emotional abuse is control. Emotional abuse occurs when someone tries to control you through actions or words. They might not physically hurt you, but they know how to instill fear through intimidation and manipulation.
If emotions are produced by your evaluations or perceptions, then emotional abuse involves hurting how you view yourself and others. Over time, you negatively view yourself. You might question yourself, blame yourself, or not see the severity of the situation. You become a weary person, trying to please your husband’s unreasonable demands but rarely is he pleased.
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The women I’ve met endured emotional abuse for years and no one knew about it. They didn’t even know until they finally talked to someone. (Of course, the same could happen with physical abuse.) Emotional abuse is unacceptable and sinful. It is slowly killing a person. It is also not the same as occasional arguments in marriage; it occurs frequently.
Common Themes in Emotional Abuse
Anger. Emotionally abusive anger is a sin (Colossians 3:8). In this case, it reveals a desire for control. For example, a husband sends texts or calls throughout the day from work and gets angry if the wife responds too slowly. Or, he gets angry if she disagrees with him.
Manipulation/hypocrisy. This sin is revealed in different ways:
- The husband is a different person in front of a church leader and others. He knows how to blame the wife.
- The husband starts crying in the counseling session and convinces the pastor or friends. Then, everything that the wife had shared in the past carries little weight. After all, he cried. The wife trusts people even less.
- The husband meets with other family and friends to win them over.
Fear/Threats. In some cases, this involves finances or child custody if the couple is in the process of a divorce.
Blameshifting/Denial. “If you did what I told you to do, then I wouldn’t have been angry.” “When did I say that to you?”
Isolation. The wife spends less time with family and friends because her husband does not want to see them or another argument happened.
Minimizing the problem. The husband says that the wife is exaggerating. Sometimes, the wife minimizes the problem. Another instance is when the person trying to help is deceived or doesn’t know how to help. “Every marriage has problems.” “Both the husband and wife have issues.”
In-laws. Leaving and cleaving never happened in the marriage. The in-laws are the leaders in the marriage, not the husband. The in-laws believe that their son is perfect or they see their son’s faults but place the blame on his wife.
What to Do For the Wife
It is not uncommon for emotional abuse to lead to physical abuse, so seek counseling as soon as possible. We might think that emotional abuse would not happen in Christian marriages. I’ve seen cases where the husband was a church leader.
Don’t keep it private. You think that your spouse will change or won’t get angry again if you’re more obedient. Be careful of such thinking. In a way, it deceives you to think that you’re in control of the situation.
Find someone who will believe you. Sometimes, church leaders are deceived or don’t want to get involved in messy problems. Don’t give up until you find a godly person who knows how to help.
Biblical submission. This is not obedience at all costs. Yes, wives are to submit to their husbands, but not to sin or sinful treatment.
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Prayer. Pray for the spouse’s repentance. If the spouse is not saved, pray for his salvation. Pray that God would protect your heart from anger and bitterness.
Trust God. It is so hurtful when family or friends don’t believe you or desert you, but God knows the truth. You can rest in His care and know that vengeance belongs to Him.
Remember God’s character. He is faithful. He is all-knowing. He will never desert you.
Be Wise When Helping a Hurting Wife
If someone shares about any kind of abuse with you, know that a lot of courage and trust were involved. Be careful of shattering it! Most likely, this person is vulnerable and fearful. As I often tell people, good intentions are not enough. I’ve seen friends get involved by meeting with the husband and then they are left more confused.
Watch out for complaining and gossip. Use wisdom in determining how much the person should share with you. In the end, our effort to minister shouldn’t have enabled a venting session, but a return to God’s perspective session, which gives hope and honors God.
One woman said to me: “If God allowed this pain to happen so that my husband might know Christ, then it was worth it.” She also recognized that God used the trial to draw her closer to Him. At that moment, this person who never completed college taught me about faith in a way that I didn’t learn from books and lectures.
It’s easier to submit to a loving leader in the home, but to love a husband who constantly questions you, belittles you, and lies to you is a powerful display of faith in God.
Join the Conversation
What additional biblical counsel would you give to an emotionally abused wife?
Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 26.
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COUNSELING: Are you or a friend in an emotionally abusive relationship? May we encourage you to seek help from a trustworthy person at your church or from a biblical counselor? Please contact me, and I’ll give you hope and get you in touch with help.
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Adopted teens have unique struggles as well as the same heartaches nearly all teenagers face. How might the gospel apply to struggling adopted teens? Like guest writer Ellen Castillo, I too have adopted children (now adults) and so I found her article wonderfully instructive and encouraging. (It appeared first here on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.) If you or someone who know is a family created through adoption, please share this post with them. –LAM
A Challenging Journey
“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).
Twenty years ago, when my husband and I adopted three foster children, we were the only people in our small Christian community who were doing so. Our children were ages 5, 7, and 9 at the time of each of their adoptions. They all came from a background of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. We knew that this kind of background would mean that there would be challenges ahead, but we had no idea just how difficult those challenges would be.
When two of the children became teenagers, we were facing parental challenges that we were not prepared for, and our church was not equipped to help us. God was faithful to see us through those years.
One of the ways He has used those experiences in my life is that I became burdened to help other adoptive parents and their adopted teens through the ministry of biblical counseling. As I have counseled several adopted teens in the past few years, there are recurring issues that I have noted.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Teenagers commonly struggle with their sense of identity. Teens who have been adopted have a unique form of this struggle as they have been removed from their birth family and placed into either foster or adoptive families. This can create a feeling of having nowhere to belong. This will often manifest as a lack of attachment to a new family.
The new family offers love, security, comfort and care. But at times the teen rejects all of their adopted parents’ sincere efforts, because of feeling displaced, confused, and disoriented. If they do not have the tools to communicate their feelings well, they may act out with poor behavior instead (lying, sneaking, anger, defiance, etc.)
If they do not know or remember their birth-family history, there will be identity struggles. Some will struggle with a sense of (false) guilt over the birth family not staying together. Others will struggle with worry and guilt about being disloyal to their family of origin if they love and attach to the new family. These are all complicated heart struggles that must be seen through a biblical lens rather than just assuming the teen is being rebellious.
Adopted Teens and Trust Issues
Understandably, adopted teens may have trust issues. If the people who were supposed to protect them abused, neglected or abandoned them, certainly they will wonder if others will do the same to them.
Adopted teens may struggle with unbelief that stems from having been betrayed. This often manifests as lying or sneaky behavior. They might think, “I can’t trust, so I really am all on my own. I must protect myself at any cost, even breaking the commandments such as ‘do not lie.’”
If adopted teens feel rejected, they often expect that they are going to be rejected again. Some will behave in such a way as to attempt to force the adoptive family to reject them because they believe it is inevitable, and they would rather have some control over the timing of it. Much energy is expended on acting out in order to force rejection. The outward behavior resembles normal teen rebellion, but the heart issues are actually rooted in significant fear.
Typical teen rebellion tends to have a malicious “I don’t care” nature to it. An adopted teen’s rebellion can be less malicious and more self-protective in nature. It is important to discern the difference as you seek to parent, mentor, or counsel the teen.
Applying the Gospel
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Practical help needed for those who parent, counsel, and mentor struggling adopted teens is found in God’s Word. Determine to do your best to discern whether or not the gospel has been understood and received.
Once you believe that the teen is a believer, be sure that you teach him or her to view the past through scriptural teaching. Focus on all that the gospel has provided. Talk about sanctification as a process towards Christlikeness. Be sure that grace and mercy are understood.
Teach God’s view of family and the impact of sin on the family. Teach teens to apply the gospel to hurts, struggles, circumstances, and fears. Show them in Scripture that their identity is not in their birth or adoptive family; it is in Christ.
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Teach them that the fear of man is a snare and that people will disappoint them at times, but that they can fully trust in Christ. They must see that the gospel applies to their salvation and to their sanctification.
Call on a biblical counselor with experience in counseling troubled teens if you need assistance helping an adoptive family. Many adoptive parents endure the struggles alone, but God’s design is that the body of Christ would be a safe place for help and hope.
In the gospel struggling teens meet a very relatable Savior.
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He has endured betrayal and rejection, too. He modeled forgiveness, mercy, and grace. The entire narrative of the Bible is a story of redemption, and teens need to view their own history in light of that story. This is our hope–and the hope for the teens we are called to love.
Join the Conversation
Do you know an adoptive family that needs to know the hope of the gospel? How can you come alongside the parents and their teen?
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Your life story has two editors–Satan and Christ. One shames, the other gives you grace. Who will title your life story. This article by Pastor Bob Kellemen appeared first here on his website and is used with permission. Bob is a leader in the biblical couseling movement, an author, and a college vice president.
Two Editors to Your Life Story
Your life is a story.
And two people seek to write the title to your story.
Satan’s Shaming Story
Satan seeks to title your life story using the lens of shame, guilt, sin, and condemnation.
Satan’s story is the story of the law…which condemns.
Christ’s Grace Story
The Author of Life is the only One with the right to name your story.
He—Christ Jesus—names your story through the lens of grace, forgiveness, the cross, justification, reconciliation, regeneration, and redemption.
Consider David—Through Satan’s Law Lens
If King David were to allow Satan to write the title to his life story, what would that title be?
“The King of Sin and Shame!”
Consider David—Through Christ’s Gospel Lens
Instead…Christ titles King David’s story. David ends up not in Satan’s Hall of Shame.
No. David ends up in Christ’s Faith Hall of Fame.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, and about David and Samuel and the prophets. who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. (Hebrews 11:31-34)
Did you catch who made Christ’s Faith Hall of Fame?
Rahab—the prostitute—is there—by faith.
David—the Adulterer-Murderer—is there—by faith.
That’s not enough? Here’s Christ’s title to David’s life story:
“Man After God’s Own Heart.”
Here it is, right in inspired, inerrant Scripture:
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. (Acts 13:22-23)
David’s life story is sandwiched by grace. By grace he is a man after God’s own heart. In the flesh he sins gravely. By grace from David’s descendants God brings forth our Savior Jesus.
Let the Gospel Rewrite the Title to Your Life Story
Martin Luther understood how Christ’s gospel of grace rewrites our sinful, shameful life story. Luther points us to the center of Scripture—the comfort of the gospel.
“It is a falsehood, that God is an enemy of sinners, for Christ roundly and plainly declares, by commandment of the Father: ‘I am come to save sinners.’”
When we are tempted by the devil to doubt the grace of God, Luther encourages us to fight Satan’s condemning lies with gospel-grace truth.
When the devil casts up to us our sin, and declares us unworthy of death and hell, we must say: ‘I confess that I am worthy of death and hell. What more have you to say?’ ‘Then you will be lost forever!’ ‘Not in the least: for I know One who suffered for me and made satisfaction for my sins, and his name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So long as he shall live, I shall live also.’
Spit on the Devil
Therefore treat the devil thus: Spit on him, and say: ‘Have I sinned? Well, then I have sinned, and I am sorry; but I will not on that account despair, for Christ has borne and taken away all my sin, yes, and the sin of the whole world, if it will only confess its sin and believe on Christ. What should I do if I had committed murder or adultery, or even crucified Christ? Why, even then, I should be forgiven, as he prayed on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them’ (Luke xxiii. 34). This I am in duty bound to believe. I have been acquitted. Then away with you, devil!’
Luther urges us to “depend boldly upon this” in order to experience peace with God.
Christ is not the one who accuses or threatens us, but he reconciles and intercedes for us by his own death and by his shed blood for us, that we may not be afraid of him, but draw near to him with all confidence.
Luther counsels us to draw near to Christ with full confidence and assurance of his love. Awareness of God’s grace friendship has the power to entice prodigals to return home to the Father.
Believe that he esteems and loves you more than does Dr. Luther or any other Christian. The conscience, spurred by the devil, the flesh, and the fallen world; says, “God is your enemy. Give up in despair.” God, in His own Fatherly love and through His Son’s grace and through His Word and through the witness of His people; says, “I have no wrath. You are accepted in the beloved. I am not angry with you. We are reconciled!”
Title Your Story through the Lens of the Gospel
Who is writing the title to your life story?
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Is it Satan—through his condemning/law narrative?
Is it Christ—through His grace/gospel narrative?
Join the Gospel Conversation
What is Christ’s grace-gospel title to your life story?
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,