The most crucial step in counseling is knowing whether a counselee is a true believer in Jesus Christ. How come? A true believer has God’s divine power to believe the truth of God and apply it to her life.
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In this article, you”ll discover:
- A key part of the biblical counseling process.
- The inner workings of a biblical counseling office.
If a counselee is not a true believer–though she may be a nice person, attend church, and listen to Christian music–her life is built on sand. A wise counselor pre-counsels–or shares the gospel with her.
Your relationship with God doesn’t depend on your performance–or, all the good things you do for Jesus. Rather your relationship with God depends on Christ’s performance–what he did and is doing.
The gospel in brief:
- Jesus lived a life completely pleasing to God the Father.
- He was crucified. His paid for every sin, once for all time, satisfying God’s wrath.
- He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
- A person who trusts in Jesus is forgiven and becomes a child of God with all the benefits that accompany her new identity, including the indwelling Holy Spirit..
A counselee who is not a believer in Jesus may feel better for a while but will experience no real heart change in counseling.
More important is her relationship with Jesus. A very scary Bible verse I sometimes share in the counseling office is this one:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
My hope is that God convicts a counselee by the power of the Holy Spirit of her need for Jesus. Her eternal life depends on the gospel.
Two Diagnostic Questions
In the counseling office while getting to know a counselee, I ask her to fill out a Personal Data Inventory. One section probes her salvation experience. The two questions are:
- Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say that you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? o Yes o No o Uncertain
- Suppose you died today and God asked you “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would your say?
If her story of how she became a Christ-follower seems murky, I’ll ask more questions, such as:
- “Who is God?”
- “What is he doing in the world?”
- “Where do you fit in to his purposes?”
If I sense she is not a true believer, I’ll “pre-counsel,” as mentioned above. If she is a true believer, I listen to her story of what brought her to counseling and look for opportunities to help solve problems through biblical counseling. Two favorite Scripture passages are Ephesians 1:3-14 and Ephesians 4:17-32. Part of it is printed in italics below.
New Life in Christ
With a counselee in the counseling office, after I’ve gathered data (including her salvation story) and listened to her struggles, I often turn to the book of Ephesians.
The apostle Paul describes the believer’s new life in Christ. She had a darkened mind as an unbeliever, now the mind of Christ. She lived to please herself, now to please God. She acted from her old self, not from who she is in Christ. Listen:
Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. hey have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Becoming more like Christ is a lifelong process. God plants godly beliefs in you as the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects your mind. Your life goal is do God’s will.
Did you know that before you became a Christian, you were unable to do God’s will? In Christ, you have the power to believe God’s truth and apply it to your life and obey his commands – not because you have to, but because you want to!
And it all begins with becoming a true believer.
COUNSELING: Did you know I offer a complimentary, 20-minute consultation? You can ask questions about counseling or the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory or anything else on your heart. Send me a message now. Thanks!
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
People who complain. . .how do they learn to stop?
In this short article, you’ll learn:
- Complaining is the sad norm.
- The real message that complaining sends.
- A solution to complaining.
Join the Crowd
Haven’t we all been guilty of complaining at one time or another? The other day, my 17 year old complained that:
- He wasn’t allowed pizza rolls in his bedroom.
- We said “no” to his plan to drive 60 miles on unfamiliar roads.
- He had to pick up wet towels and hang them on a towel rod.
Your complaints may sound different from a teenager’s complaints.
Your friend forgets your birthday. A virus invades your hard drive. Your boss gives the better project to your coworker. Each of these scenarios are fodder to complain and grumble. What circumstances led to your complaints this week?
Real Message of Complaining
Complaining sends a message through words, tone or voice, and body language: “It’s not fair.”
A kid might say or think, “It’s not fair that my friend gets an iPhone and I don’t.” Or, “His family is spending the day at a water park and I’m stuck at home.”
Ultimately the “it’s not fair” message points a finger at God.
When your kid complains–when you complain–your heart reveals self-centered sorrow. You feel angry and your anger may turn to bitterness. You think God hasn’t treated you fairy. You might even think that God’s made a big mistake.
In the Old Testament, Job (pronounced jobe) questioned God’s wisdom in letting horrible things happen to him–the deaths of his ten children and the obliteration of his livestock as well as his own ruined health. In chapters 38 to 40 of Job, God reminds him that he alone has limitless wisdom.
God’s main point: Who do you think you are, Job?
Speaking from a whirlwind, God says to Job:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:4-7
God is wise, just, good, sovereign, love. Nothing happens in your life or your child’s life surprises God. When you feel confused and angry, God doesn’t need your advice or my advice. God invites you to deepen your trust.
A Solution to Complaining
Did you know that what you believe about God affects the way you think, feel, and act?
- When you believe God is all-wise, you accept the truth that what God does is for your good and his glory, even though you may not understand God’s reasons.
- When you believe is God’s sovereign, you believe the truth that he is fully capable of devising how to handle your situation.
- When you believe God is good, you acknowledge that God knows why you have problems and shows you the best way to resolve them.
As you choose to act as a child of God, guess what happens?
Gratitude bubbles up in you and overflows your life. Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic. You don’t whitewash the bad things in life. Pain and injustice exist in this world.
When you focus on God’s gifts of life, you gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude brings balance and hope. Do you have a grateful heart? Think of several things to write on your very own gratitude list.
Here’s how I began my gratitude list:
friends who listen
the color purple
the ability to read and walk and sleep deep
As you practice gratitude, you’ll complain less often. When you fall back into grumbing, you’ll be quick to confess your grumbling to God, and repent. You’ll discover new hope. As the psalmist says,
The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped; Therefore, my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7
Sharing hope with your heart,
Jesus is in every book of the Bible! Take this music journey through the 66 books of the Bible and discover who Jesus is.
Here’s the link to the song. If you don’t have time to listen, drink in the lyrics below. Your heart will fill with the beauty of Jesus in you, for He Is!
“He Is” by Aaron Jeoffrey
In Genesis, He’s the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He’s our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He’s Moses’ voice
In Joshua, He is salvation’s choice
Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He’s sovereign
Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He’s the rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He’s Mordecai’s courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song
In Proverbs, wisdom’s cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover’s dream
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Isaiah, He’s Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, He’s the call from sin
In Daniel, the stranger in the fire
In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He’s the Spirits power
In Amos, the arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He’s the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He’s the great missionary
In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He’s pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our fountain
In Malachi, He is the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In the book of Acts, He is fire from heaven
In Romans, He’s the grace of God
In Corinthians, the power of love
In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servants heart
In Colossians, He’s the Godhead Trinity
Thessalonians, our coming King
In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He’s our mediator and our faithful Pastor
In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant
In James, the one who heals the sick.
In First and Second Peter, he is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride
In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords
He is, He is, HE IS!
The prince of peace
The Son of man
The Lamb of God
The great I AM
He’s the alpha and omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
and when time is no more
He is, HE IS!
If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do. Dare to belief the truth that in Jesus you have everything you need.
Believes God is who He says He is!
Sharing hope with your heart,
Adoption. . .my story of how God made my family. If adoption has touched you — perhaps you’re a birth mom, an adoptive mom, of a woman who was adopted — I pray my story helps you understand how God makes some families.
You won’t find “three quick steps to a successful adoption” here. Just a story of pain and beauty and God everywhere. If you’re touched by adoption, why not send me a short message? I’d love to encourage you.
Adoption: Not Second Best
Some say adoption is second best, an afterthought, the backup plan. May I say, It’s not “second best”?
Yes, my husband and I tried the usual way. When it didn’t happen — the it of morning sickness and ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins and expanding waistlines — we adopted a baby then another and another. Two girls and a boy. Now they’re grown up: one married, one in college, one in high school.
Yes, I asked God, “Women strung out on drugs are getting pregnant and having babies, so why infertility for us?” No booming voice from a burning bush in Charlton Heston’s Ten Commandments. I found comfort in the Bible that God is love and he loves orphans and had a child for us (James 1:27).
I concluded that my family isn’t second best because God designed it. Isn’t God’s design the best design? Didn’t he know before my birth and my husband’s — and the births of our great-great-great grandparents — that we’d make a family by adoption? Of course he did. The all-knowing God knew.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16, NIV
Infertility is usually the woman’s problem, right? Ah, no. According to WebMD, statistics suggest that 35 to 40 percent of the problems are caused by male problems, another 35 to 40 percent by female problems, and the last 20 to 30 percent a combination of the two, plus a small percentage of unknown causes.
When I didn’t get pregnant after trying for a year, I figured my doctor would prescribe me Clomid, and I’d soon be painting the nursery with a baby bump. Instead she followed protocol and wrote orders for my husband to have a test first. We thought, “Whatever. No problem.”
A bunch of tests and three months later, another doctor sat us down and gave us the news. No baby. Ever.
I felt numb, sad, even relieved because the findings were fast and crystal. I did not want to walk the infertility treadmill I had heard about. Awful, just awful. In you’re on this treadmill, my heart aches for you, sister. Know God is with you in your hurt.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18
Baby in Arms
Steve and I jumped into adoption, eyes wide open, knowing it may take a long time before we’d hold the little one God had planned for us.
Typically when a couple decides to adopt a child, the labor of paper work lasts many years. Laura came along nine months later. Poetic justice, yes?
Our next two adoptions averaged 18 months each. We adoptive couples have love-hate relationships with social workers employed by adoptions agencies, which is the route we chose. (Some couples prefer adopting children by arrangement through attorneys.) Steve and I answered the social workers’ invasive questions. We jumped through their hoops.
With our last adoption, even the cat needed a physical!
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I felt like I had to impress them, these gatekeepers. They opened and closed our chances to adding to our little family, didn’t they?
Then I’d remember that God is in control. He designs my family–and yours. I didn’t have to worry or be a people-pleaser. I just had to be me. . .
because God is God, right?
If you have experienced infertility or adoption (as an adoptive mom or a birth mother who placed her child for adoption), I’d love to here from you.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Whether you know it or not, you have a worldview, and it colors how you see the world and how you solve your problems.
In this short article, you’ll discover:
- what a worldview is and why it matters to your spiritual growth.
- how to reclaim a Christian worldview if yours goes off track.
- the super important link between your heart and your worldview.
PLUS: the best encouragement to stay sane in a crazy world.
What Is a Worldview?
A worldview is the framework from which you view reality and make sense of life. It consists of the values—or, your fundamental belief system—that determines your attitudes and desires, and ultimately your actions. It is the sum total of your beliefs about the world.
- A toddler believes she’s the center of the universe.
- A humanist believes the material world is all that exists.
- A postmodernist believes what true for him is truth.
What’s a Christian Worldview?
A Christian worldview is based on belief that the Word of God—that is, the Bible—is true.
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When you believe the Bible is true, then you embrace the Living Word, who is Jesus. The Bible becomes the foundation of everything you think, say, feel, and do.
To determine if you have a Christian worldview, why not answer the following questions in a survey formulated by pollster George Barna?
Do absolute moral truths exist?
Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
Is Satan real?
Does a Christian have a responsibility to share her his or her faith in Christ with others?
Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer “yes” to these questions? Then you have a Christian worldview, specifically a biblical worldview. (Some liberal Christians would say they have a Christian world view but would say “no” to a number of Barna’s questions including the accuracy of the Bible.)
Your Worldview Matters
When you believe the Bible is true, you want your life to show it. You’ll read the Bible and pray – not out of obligation – because you have the life of Christ and He lives his life through you.
Your deepening faith that permeates your entire life: marriage or singleness, relationships at work and with neighbors and family, your choices, your emotions, and your thinking.
Yet the secular worldview encroaches on every believer like a rising flood, desiring to suck you into its undercurrents. You see it on billboards, TV, and internet ads; you hear it in popular music and many a teen’s slang.
The world’s enticement is one reason a Christian believer might fall into muck the Bible calls sin. Sin is unholy wrongdoing that offends God.
He might be look with lust at a woman. She might crave a shiny Corvette. He might trip into an addiction. She might lie. He might slander a coworker. She might bow to the idol of materialism to find her worth.
Colossians 2:8 speaks to empty, worldly philosophies:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Reclaim Your Worldview
Christian believers who ascribe to a biblical worldview can become confused and make strange choices—strange for a self-identifying Christian.
- Shanna visits a Reiki practitioner who uses a technique called palm healing by which “universal energy” is said to encourage healing.
- Liz discovers the underbelly of Internet porn and frequents online chat rooms.
- A mother of four young children increasingly uses profanity while yelling at them.
In every case, the Christian has fallen into a secular worldview to solve problems. Shanna looks to New Age for help with emotional pain. Liz enters a sex fantasy world to escape a loveless marriage. In anger the mother uses the coarse language of the times. Haven’t you acted unChristian too at times? Haven’t we all?
To reclaim your biblical worldview, agree with God where your went off the rails. Did you gossip? Yell? Get jealous?
Then repent. Repent is a church-y word that means to “do a 180” and go the opposite direction you were headed. The gossiper starts speaking kindly about others. The yeller embraces a new approach of being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). The jealous one remembers to be thankful.
Worldview and Your Heart
In the Bible, your heart refers to your mind, your emotions, and your will. At the heart of your heart is your worldview, or the sum of what you believe. It is “your control center.”
A healthy heart has godly thoughts, godly emotions, and godly actions—all because you have a worldview set on the truth of God’s Word.
May I encourage one important activity to keep your worldview and heart healthy? Read your Bible every day. The Word of God renews your mind.
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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
It changes the way you think. It encourages and instructs you. It teaches you right from wrong.
It keeps you sane in a world gone crazy.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,