Do you think you may be overly dependent on a friend, or your friend is overly dependent on you?
1. You do something for someone else that she can do for herself and/or
2. You’re dependent on another person to the point of being controlled or manipulated by that person and/or
3. You lie (or sin in another way) to keep the peace or get the other’s approval.
A modern term for this sort of dependence, or “people addiction,” is co-dependent. Psychologists first used in the 1970s to describe family members of alcoholics who adapted to destructive behavior in unhealthy ways, such as calling the boss of a hungover alcoholic and saying she has the flu.
The Bible has a better term, a more accurate term: a misplaced dependency.
A person with a misplaced dependency cares more what another person says and thinks than she seeks God. You could call it idol worship of . . .a person.
You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3, NIV
Strong Is Weak?
Says radio show host, biblical counselor, and author June Hunt:
One person is seen as weak and the other as strong. The weak one appears totally dependent on the strong one.
But the one who appears strong actually is weak because of the excessive need to be needed by the weak one. In fact, the strong one needs for the weak one to stay weak, which in turn keeps the strong one feeling strong.
This craziness played out in my relationship with my own mom. Growing up I learned to agree with my mom. Disagreement invited her silent treatment. And I hated silent treatments . . . so I agreed with my mom. I wanted her approval badly enough to lie. Have you lied to keep peace?
If she said she did back flips on Chicago sidewalks, I said, “Wow. Cool.” If she said I was tone deaf, I chimed, “Yeah. I know.” She needed my affirmation and I needed hers. Was she the weak one? Or me?
In your friendships, do you have an excessive need to be needed?
Making Up Problems
A person with a misplaced dependency may manufacture a crisis then come to the rescue. She’s crazy-glue connected and overly responsible.
Sometimes after a legitimate crisis — such as a monstrous flood or a death in the family — a “helpful” person gives help long after it’s needed or wanted.
Then there are the little examples, such as:
- a dad who ties the shoes of his able-bodied 10 year old.
- a mom who writes her son’s high school English paper.
- a friend who insists on buying lunch every time you get together even though you can afford it.
The strong one wants to help but. . .harms.
What God Says
God understands. Co-dependency stories dot the bible, and we discover the high cost of misplaced dependencies.
Remember Samson and Delilah? Delilah manipulated weak-willed Samson. What about Rebekah and her son Jacob? Rebekah easily convinces Jacob to lie and deceive his father, Isaac, to obtain the birthright of the firstborn (which belongs to Esau).
God’s desire for you is this: living each day dependent on the Lord. As you submit to the Lord, you will have peace, you will have contentment, and you will experience his presence.
This is one reason why God says:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Jeremiah 17:7
If you think you may have misplaced dependencies or know someone who is, you can:
- Learn more. A great book is Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
- Have a heart-to-heart with a wise, compassionate Christian friend of the same gender.
- Talk with a biblical counselor at your church or community, or with me. A seminary-trained, certified biblical counselor, I’ve counseled hope to thousands of women by Skype and in person. Click here for FAQs.
Sharing hope with your heart,
Food cravings come on quick and strong, don’t they? You’re driving along singing to KLOVE or whataver, and out of nowhere food cravings strike.You may crave a Snickers bar or chips or ice cream or a Ding Dong. Perhaps you crave strawberries, carrots, or freshly baked multi-grain bread.
Up the road sits a 7-Eleven, beckoning.
In this short article, let’s look at…
- Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
- A biblical solution to food cravings
Choose Your Choice
So what should you do when hit by food cravings?
A. Try your very, very best to ignore them.
B. Proceed to the 7-Eleven and get the goodies..
Well, it depends! Biological food cravings differ from emotional food cravings.
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It’s wise to fill the biological kind because your body needs what is craves. Just think of how delicious a glass of water is when you are super thirsty. So when you fulfill this type of craving, you’ll think and feel better. But fight the temptation of emotional food cravings. If you cave, you’ll feel worse, and you’ll miss out on God’s best too.
So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Biological or Emotional?
Here’s a simple what to tell whether your food cravings are biological or emotional:
When you have a biological food craving and fulfill it, you feel nourished. And it doesn’t take much food to meet such a need either. One bagel, a wedge or two of low-fat cheese, or a couple of chocolates–that’s it.
In contrast, emotional food cravings aren’t about food. They are an attempt to meet a need apart from God. An emotional eater looks for comfort in food. Sometimes it follows “I’m a loser” self-talk. And a small treat is never enough. Never.
Emotional eaters confuse love and self-acceptance with food. It is their drug of choice. Their god.
Solution to Food Cravings
The good news is by obeying and trusitn God, your can have victory over food cravings.
To have victory, you’ll need to break the vicious cycle of emotional eating.
Click & Tweet!
You can make this break when you begin desiring what God desires and, with God’s help, change your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of you where your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions reside.
For life transformation you need heart transformation!
God’s life-changing power helps you embrace a right perspective of food, make good and godly food choices, straighten out your thinking on food, and practice, practice, practice. A great resource with helps for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.
God wants you to live life based on truth, not emotions. The truth of who he is. The truth of who you are. His truth is sure. Our emotions go up and down like an elevator.
Now emotions are fine; God gave them to us. You and I must not trust them to influence our decisions. We need to turn to truth.
10 Tips for Healthy Choices
Here’s truth talk on healthy eating. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:
~ Choose water over coffee and soda pop.
~ Shrink your portions by using smaller plates.
~ If you desire seconds, go for the veggies.
~ Eat at least five vegetables and fruits daily.
~ Choose whole grains.
~ Limit your consumption of sugar.
~ Skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.
~ Sit down during meals.
~ Eat slowly.
~ Remember eating becomes sacred when it becomes worship.
Remember the Bible verse I mentioned? So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Let this command guide your motivations and desires.
When you do, then everything — from washing dishes and sweeping floors to helping your children with homework and writing blog posts — can be worship. As long as you line up your thoughts with God’s, the simplest things become sacred.
And so it is with food.
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Sharing hope with your heart,
A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”
But this is what Paul writes,
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14
Deciding Your Focus
Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.
You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.
She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..
Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”
These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.
Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.
Listening to Paul’s Solutions
The aspostle Paul…
- clarifies the gospel
- focuses on results
- looks at the big picture
Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.
Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.
When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.
We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.
But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.
- How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to?
Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ. Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found. She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.
Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.
God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost. We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.
Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.
How can we take up that same challenge?
During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)
What an honor we have.
Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?
An Invitation to You
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Books, books, and more books. Here are the top biblical counseling books of 2016, rounded up by guest writer Dr. Bob Kellemen. Enjoy!
If you are a counselor, pastor, student, one-another minister, small group leader, or spiritual friend, you want to know the most helpful books about the personal ministry of the Word— using God’s Word for helping hurting people.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the top 16 books published in 2016 about biblical counseling or important to biblical counselors.
I’ve selected these books on the basis of their biblical depth, relevance to life, practicality for one-another ministry, faithfulness to the sufficiency of Scripture, application to progressive sanctification, and by surveying what leaders in the biblical counseling world are saying about them.
1. Biblical Church Revitalization
Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying and Divided Churches, by Brian Croft, Christian Focus
Biblical counseling is a discipleship ministry of the local church with a mission not simply to be a church with biblical counseling, but a church of biblical counseling. The biblical counseling vision is to saturate the entire congregation with confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture for daily life and ministry. Brian Croft shares that mission and vision. His book, Biblical Church Revitalization, is like engaging in a dozen biblical counseling sessions—for the whole congregation. Pastor Croft walks readers through the process of biblical church health—church progressive sanctification. Every church can benefit greatly from his wise biblical counsel for congregational renewal.
You can read a review of Biblical Church Revitalization by Erik Raymond here.
2. Biblical Counseling Guide for Women
The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, by John Street and Janie Street, Harvest House
As the modern biblical counseling movement has matured, its resources have progressed from foundational materials for general counseling issues to in-depth materials for specific counseling needs. The husband and wife team of John and Janie Street model this development in their book The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women. They use real-life vignettes, biblical wisdom, and counseling principles to address 17 relevant issues that women commonly face. The embedded discussion questions make this book valuable not only for individual use, but also for small group interaction.
You can read a review of The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women by Jenny Bergren here.
3. Counseling One Another
Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship, by Paul Tautges, Shepherd Press
In Counseling One Another, Paul Tautges builds the theological underpinning for biblical counseling in a way that is both comprehensive and compassionate. This book demonstrates a staunch commitment to an expository, exegetical examination of counseling as presented in God’s Word. Any pastor or lay person wanting a foundational starting point for understanding Christ-centered, comprehensive, and compassionate biblical counseling in the local church would be wise to read and apply Counseling One Another.
You can read a review of Counseling One Another by Zack Ford here.
4. Devoted to God
Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification, by Sinclair Ferguson, Banner of Truth
Glorifying God by becoming more like Christ is the heartbeat of biblical counseling. Sinclair Ferguson shares that passion. In Devoted to God, he offers a lifetime of biblical study as he exegetes 10 central biblical passages about progressive sanctification. His gospel-centered, relevant, practical, in-depth approach makes this an instant classic on the topic of growth in grace.
You can read a review of Devoted to God by Tim Challies here.
Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, by Mark Dever, Crossway
Mark Dever’s latest book, Discipling, is part of the Nine Marks Ministries series “Building Healthy Churches.” Like each book in the series, it is a succinct yet robust biblical exploration of local church ministry. Just as biblical counseling seeks to equip the entire congregation for one-another ministry, so Discipling aims to cultivate a discipleship mindset throughout the entire body of Christ. As the subtitle suggests, this book provides the how-to of congregational discipleship.
You can read a review of Discipling by Casey McCall here.
6. Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk
Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends, by Brad Hambrick, Cruciform Press
Brad Hambrick thinks deeply about complex life and ministry situations. That’s certainly the case in Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. He notes that most conversations about same-sex attraction have become polemical and political rather than pastoral and personal. His desire in this book is to be a resource God uses to grow His people into excellent ambassadors—friends to their classmates, colleagues, and family members who experience same-sex attraction.
You can read a review of Do Ask, Do Tell by Sam Allberry here.
7. The Dynamic Heart
The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience, by Jeremy Pierre, New Growth Press
A stereotype of the biblical counseling movement states that biblical counselors focus primarily on external behavior. Jeremy Pierre’s work, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, should put that perception to rest. Dr. Pierre presents a compassionate, comprehensive biblical understanding of people—image bearers who are spiritual, relational, social, rational, volitional, motivational, emotional, and physical beings. He examines every aspect of the heart in light of our coram Deo existence—we were designed as in-relationship-to-God beings. Pierre demonstrates how a biblical psychology (understanding of the soul) is essential for biblical counseling (bringing Christ’s redemptive hope to the whole person).
You can read a review of The Dynamic Heart by Theron St. John here.
8. Good and Angry
Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, by David Powlison, New Growth Press
David Powlison is a brilliant thinker. He also happens to be an extremely compassionate counselor. That combination is fully evidenced in Good and Angry. With winsome wisdom, Dr. Powlison enlightens us to the God-intended purpose of righteous anger and to Christ-redemptive hope for addressing unrighteous anger. This book is not just helpful for anger; it is a model for how we can take every aspect of our emotionality to the cross.
You can read a review of Good and Angry by Tim Challies here.
You can read a review of Good and Angry by Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition here.
Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Bethany House
Penned by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Home is not a journey-to-heaven-and-back tell-all memoir. Thankfully. Instead, it is a long-for-heaven-and-live-for-earth biblical narrative. We often hear, “that person is so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” Home encourages us to be so heavenly minded that we are of great earthly good. Even more than that, it invites us to sample a small taste now of the eternal banquet of relational satisfaction we will experience when we are forever home with our heavenly Father.
You can read a review of Home by Aimee Byrd here.
10. Marry Well, Marry Wisely
Marry Well, Marry Wisely: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation, by Ernie Baker, Shepherd Press
In Marry Well, Marry Wisely, Ernie Baker pens a pre-pre-martial manual. In doing so, he doesn’t simply equip us to answer the question, “How do I choose the right spouse?” More importantly, he prepares us to answer the heart question, “How do I become prepared to be the right spouse?” This blueprint establishes the firm groundwork of a Christ-centered and other-centered mindset that is essential for being a godly spouse.
You can read a review of Marry Well, Marry Wisely by Theron St. John here.
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul Tripp, Crossway
Few things seem to drive us toward an external focus more than the challenges of parenting. Everything inside and around us screams, “Fix it fast!” In, Parenting, Paul Tripp directs us away from a “fix it” focus to a focus on love Him (God) and love your child (care for your child’s heart). Tripp moves us away from a works-based, pharisaical mindset to a grace-based, gospel attitude in our homes.
You can read a review of Parenting by Heidi Strawser here.
12. Theology of Biblical Counseling
A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, by Heath Lambert, Zondervan
Of all 16 books on this list, A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert is the most important book for those wanting to understand the doctrinal basis of biblical counseling. Lambert, the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), explains that “Counseling is a theological discipline” (p. 11). Lambert models that truth in each chapter, as doctrine comes to life in real ministry to real people—dramatically demonstrating how theology intersects with the lives of actual counselees.
You can read a review of A Theology of Biblical Counseling by David Dunham here.
13. Tying the Knot
Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage, by Rob Green, New Growth Press
If Ernie Baker’s book (Marry Well, Marry Wisely) is a pre-pre-marital book, then Rob Green’s Tying the Knot covers the classical pre-marital topics. However, it does not cover them in the classical way—simply as relational skills to be mastered. Rather, this nine-session study directs couples through issues such as conflict, expectations, communication, finances, and intimacy—showing how couples can face each with Christ at the center of their marriage.
You can read a review of Tying the Knot by Tim Challies here.
14. The Vine Project
The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Matthias Media
The Vine Project by co-authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne is the sequel to The Trellis and the Vine. In the prequel, Marshall and Payne cast the vision for an Ephesians 4:11-16 view of pastors as equippers. In The Vine Project, they put feet to that vision by providing practical insight into the local church disciple-making process.
You can read a review of The Vine Project by Kevin Halloran here.
15. Visual Theology
Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God, by Tim Challies and Josh Byers, Zondervan
As a long-time follower of Tim Challies’ blog, I enjoyed the foundational material that eventually developed into Visual Theology. In the able hands of Challies and Josh Byers, those blog posts translate extremely well into book form. Visual Theology is powerful because it aligns with how God communicates in His Word, how Christ taught people, and how God designed our minds to think—visually, with imagination, in pictures and images. Biblical counselors can learn much from this book about communicating truths not only in words, but also in images and illustrations, especially to this visually-oriented generation.
You can read a review of Visual Theology by Aaron Armstrong here.
16. What Grieving People Wish You Knew
What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), by Nancy Guthrie, Crossway
Nancy Guthrie is one of the foremost Christian writers on loss, grief, hope, and healing. What Grieving People Wish You Knew is the fruit of a lifetime of sharing the comfort she has received from Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Her narrative reads like a biblical counseling training manual for gospel conversations for suffering. Pastors, counselors, and spiritual friends can all learn much from her biblically compassionate writing.
You can read a review of What Grieving People Wish You Knew by Rachel Hurst here.
Dr. Robert W. Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D.: Bob is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling and Equipping Department at Crossroads Bible College, and the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. Bob was the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. For seventeen years he served as the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. He has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-six years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and three granddaughters, Naomi, Penelope, and Phoebe. Dr. Kellemen is the author of thirteen books including Gospel-Centered Counseling.
Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?
Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:
Blessing of Trials
Sucky trials get your attention.
Then you feel a need to deal.
Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you can — what a mind-boggling thought! — because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.
‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV
With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.
As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:
Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.
New Perspective of Trials
We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.
1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.
2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?
And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.
Invitation for YOU
Friends, we gave one hope: Christ
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. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.
I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.
I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)
May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3
Sharing Hope for Your Heart,