Finding Hope in Gospel-Centered Counseling!

hopeHOPE: People seeking help desire HOPE. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Today’s guest blogger is Joshua Waulk, founder of Baylight Counseling in Florida. His wife, Christy, is one of our Heart2Heart Counselors listed here on my website’s biblical counselor directory for women. They often counsel together.(Edited for length.)

hope icon

In my work as a police officer, and now a biblical counselor, I have found that one common thread running through most, if not all, interactions with people seeking help is their desire for hopeWhatever circumstance they face, the hurting seek the assurance that things can change for the better.

The hurting also expect that I, as either a first responder or counselor, would be trustworthy. Additionally, they want me to either dispense hope or ensure them of a basis for it.

Hope, as it turns out, has much to do with why those in crisis or trauma call the police or seek wise counsel. My ability to earn the confidence and trust of the counselee is largely dependent on my skill in communicating that life can get better.

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Whatever else the counselor seeks to accomplish in the life of their counselee, the responsibility to impart Christ-centered hope in each and every session is of first importance (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Above All, Give Hope

Counselees in a trial of any kind want the very best outcome and resolution. We are not surprised then to observe people of all beliefs and faith systems expressing, in some way, a longing that the pain and trials of life have an answer.

In any counseling scenario, the absence of hope will be detrimental to the prospects of success in counseling.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Dr. Wayne Mack writes that “biblical change cannot take place without hope.” He goes on to say that hope that is unbiblical, of the type offered in non-Christian settings, such as secular counseling and psychotherapy offices, “will inevitably crumble.” Mack’s words are remind us that not all hope is created equal (Matthew 7:24-27).

Substance of Hope

The substance of hope in biblical counseling, regardless of the facts and circumstances of a given case (i.e. marital infidelity, physical sickness, addiction, depression/anxiety, etc.), is the timeless, matchless, eternal word of God (Hebrews 4:122 Timothy 3:16-17).

Yes, we celebrate the advances of science and medical technology in the treatment of true diseases of the brain. But we also are persuaded of scripture’s centrality to the offering true soul care (Psalms 119:105).

Dr. Robert Jones writes that what makes biblical counseling biblical is the counselor’s vision for God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ. He writes,

The Bible does not merely inform our counseling, as if it were simply one source of truth among several…the Bible drives our counseling.

Indeed, as the many theories of secular psychology are constantly refined, and new, even competing theories are developed, Christ and His Word remain the same (Hebrews 13:8Isaiah 40:8).

How Then Shall We Counsel

In an era of exploding medical advances, it is improbable that any one counselor would display omniscience in the latest discoveries and understanding of how to apply all available scientific data on every possible counseling topic. (This is particularly those not trained in the practice of medicine).

This begs the question, then, about how the clinically informed biblical counselor ought to approach his or her work. Are we striving toward becoming dispensers of clinical data or conduits of gospel-driven, Christ-centered hope?

Dr. Heath Lambert writes that today’s biblical counselor leaves the practice of medicine to those who know how to provide it. The biblical counselor also recognizes that spiritual problems do not have physical remedies. So the counselor’s task, through training and education, is to become adept at discerning the difference between the physical and the spiritual.

When counselees see that their counselor is interested in the wellness of their whole person and is not only concerned with identifying sin and memorizing Bible verses, as some outside of biblical counseling have suggested, hope is extended and confidence is instilled.

Hope-giving counselors who are committed to biblical change lead hopeful counselees.

Join the Conversation

How do you intentionally instill biblical hope in your counselees?

Permissions: This article (The Centrality of Hope in Counseling Biblically by Joshua Waulk) originally appeared on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.

Winning the War! The Best Mom Ever ~ part 3

warTo win the war for your child’s heart, you’ll fight three forces. But first, you must recognize you’re in a war!

Winning the war requires you to focus on your child’s heart!

Read the part 1 here and part two here in the Best Mom Ever series, teaching you to–

1.    Prepare!

2.    Recognize you’re in a war.

3.   Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4.   Yield to God.

This post calls you to fight once you recognize you are in a war, a war you must win, God willing. . .and he is willing.

3 Battle Forces!

In this battle, you face three strong forces:

First, your child’s natural, selfish nature.

Second, a spiritual undertow.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

And third, our increasingly wacked-out, confusing, chaotic culture.

Our culture says the best kids are happy and successful kids. This is a lie. The best kids are not the ones who seem happy and successful, who look good on the outside. Rather, the best kids are GOD-honoring KIDS.

Ground Zero: The Heart

As I’ve mentioned, your Number One goal is to shepherd your child’s heart. Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

From the heart flows your behavior.  What you say and do and think expresses your heart. That goes for your child, too.

So when your child misbehaves, he is revealing his selfish nature, his battle-weary soul, or his bent toward a sin-city culture.

OR ALL THREE!

You may be thinking, “No, not my little Ethan, not my little Emma.” The truth is, every child is selfish and foolish.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Even kids who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ miss the mark, as do their parents.

We all mess up. Our intentions may be good but, well, our own desire to please our little darlings can get the best of us. Here’s one of my many “what-were-we-thinking?” stories.

What Were We Thinking?

Laura was about 2.

And sneaky.

She knew my weak spot.

At bedtime after I laid her in her crib with five — yes, five —  pacifiers — I said a sweet good night, gave her an equally sweet kiss on her chubby cheek, and tip-toed out the door.

By the time I made it down the stairs, I heard:

CLUNK. . .CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Three pluggies down. Two to go.

CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Yes, my sweet, sweet Laura had a good arm. She had whipped her pluggies at the door, knowing I’d come back. She was barely 2 and she was telling us who was in charge. And what was I thinking? Doesn’t scripture say kids must obey their parents? Yes, it’s right there in black and white.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Winning Your Child’s Heart

We were in a war. And so are you, Mom. The only way to win: Look past my child’s behavior and see what was going on in her heart. To win the battle for her heart, my husband and I needed to show that, with God’s help, we were in charge.

God gave us the job of effecting godly attitudes, behavior, and character in our adorable child. In the next post, we’ll look at assuming your role as a benevolent dictator. 🙂

Let’s Talk

  1. What behavior problems do you see in your child?
  2. What have you done about them? 
  3. How does focusing on the heart help your child glorfy God?

Be sure to read the next post on assuming the rightful role as the mom. To make sure you get it in your email, subscribe to blog. The subscription box is below.

Counseling heart to hope (and heal!)

 

 

What if Your WORST Fear Happens?

what ifWhat if…your worst fear actually comes to pass? Then what? Listed in our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, biblical counselor Suzanne Holland gives real answers to scary questions and provides hope. Suzanne is a premier counselor. Her article appeared first here at BC4Women.org and is used with permission.

heart

“What if it’s cancer? How will we deal with that? I don’t want to leave my husband and children alone!”

“Or what if my car breaks down? I barely have enough money to cover my expenses! How will I get to work?

“And what if the pain gets worse? How will I cope with it? How will I function?”

All of these are legitimate questions asked by believers who are struggling to deal with a circumstance or eventuality that they feel ill-equipped for. There are so many things that can happen in this fallen world we live in. Many of them are pretty frightening.

As I read in Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I felt certain that they were frightened of that furnace. Who wouldn’t be? Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue and commanded all people to bow to it. These three young men knew they could not do that.

I can imagine what their conversation was like, as it became clear that their allegiance to the One True God would stir up the wrath of this powerful king. Maybe, they asked one another,

  • What if we can’t stand our ground?
  • What if we lose our nerve?
  • And if we do remain steadfast, how will we endure the furnace?
  • Where will we get the courage to finish well?

I don’t know for sure if this conversation or one like it took place. However, I am pretty sure it would if it were me and my friends! I would be afraid and anxious about it for sure, at least in my own strength. But these three young men clearly were not counting on their own strength to see them through. They were depending on their God. When they appeared before the king, they spoke these words:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)

3 Crucial Convictions in Your “What If”

They express three important convictions in this passage. And we need to keep in mind as we face the “what ifs” of our lives.

1. Remember God Alone Has Ultimate Power

First, they express the fact that the king has no real power over them. In saying, “we don’t need to defend ourselves before you,” they are saying that he is not a threat. They know that the God they serve is far more powerful, and He will be their defender. They let the king know that they have complete confidence in God’s ability to save them out of that fire.

2. Know God Will Deliver You

Second, by fearlessly admitting the possibility that He may not save them in an earthly sense, they are letting the king know that they don’t fear death. Since they worship a God who is the master of eternity, they have a great hope of what lies on the other side of that furnace, should they perish there. In other words, they are telling him that, whether they live or whether they die, their God will deliver them from his hand.

3. God Alone Is Worthy of Worship

Finally, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make it very clear to the king that nothing he does can ever make them worship any other god. No matter what he threatens, no matter how painful the consequence, they absolutely will not become idolaters.

Answers to Scary Questions

So, what’s the takeaway for us? How can we apply this passage to our what-ifs? Well, I would like to suggest that, instead of saying what-if-this or what-if-that, let’s change it up. Let’s replace “what if” with “even if.”

“Even if it’s cancer, I know that my God can rescue me from it. He can heal me of this cancer, but even if He doesn’t, He will deliver me. We will  bring me to heaven, where there will be no more pain or suffering. I am trusting in Him. And I refuse to make restored health an idol. God has cared for my family all this time, and He will continue to do so, with or without me. I refuse to give in to worry.”

“Even if my car breaks down, I will not give into fear or panic. Jesus said that God cares so much for me that He has numbered every hair on my head. It is He who has provided for me up until now. Why should that change? I refuse to give in to fear.”

“Even if the pain gets worse, I will recognize that circumstances will always be changing, but my God never does. He is faithful no matter the severity of my pain or disability. Even if I can’t do the things I’ve always done, He will provide the help that I need. Or, He’ll remove the necessity of the task. I refuse to give in to panic about my pain.”

Think About It

What are the “what-ifs” of your life today, friend?

Are you fearful or worried about the future? Remember that fear can lead to idolatry if we do not take it captive. Bring those fears to the Lord, remembering His faithfulness and love. Then, proclaim to everyone you know the truth about your great God. Let them see that you will not bow down to the idols of worry and fear about earthly things.

As you go through the fiery trial, let them see Jesus going through it with you, just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking around in the fire when He had thrown in only three. That same confidence that led them through their fire will lead you through yours.

Even if…

Resources from Lucy

You may like this article:

Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD

Or this easy-to-download eBook:

Fit for Life: A Biblical Guide to Getting Fit (and Losing Weight)

Need prayer or want a free biblical counseling consultation by phone? Send me a secure message here.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

 

Discover Your TRUE Heart’s Desire

desire

Friend, do you know your TRUE heart’s desire? Knowing and fulfilling your heart’s desire can change the direction of your life–from burned out to rest-filled, from down-in-the-dumps to delightful.

Listen to the story of three of my counselees. Notice how different they are. Yet each is making a difference for God’s kingdom. See if your story is similiar.

  • Kim teaches Sunday school to preschoolers, showing them the love of God through simple Bible stories, songs, and Jesus “parties.”
  • Dora has a decorative flair. She beautifies her church’s worship center, making it inviting to regular attenders and visitors.
  • Tanya cleans the homes of elderly folks in need of a helping hand and conversation.

In this brief article you’ll learn:

  1. why you want to know your heart’s desire.
  2. 2 quick steps to discovering your heart’s desire.

Why You Want to Know Your Heart’s Desire

You want to know your heart’s desire because. . .this knowledge empowers and energizes you to make a difference in your own life and in other’s lives. Most important, God wants you to know your heart’s desire to honor him. Does this make sense?

When you know your heart’s desire, you are energized to make a difference, honor God, and be happy.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Sometimes this verse gets mangled. God doesn’t say he’ll give you anything you desire, though at first glance it may sound that way. Reread the verse part of the verse. God gives you the desires of your heart as you submit to Christ.

As you delight in him, you’ll desire what he desires. Yes!

2 Quick Steps to Discovering your Heart’s Desire

God made you unique. There’s no one on this planet just like you. You have your own DNA, life experiences, upbringing, talents, and spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

God wouldn’t change a hair on your head. He is for you. He is with you.

QUICK STEP 1: 

What propels you out of bed in the morning (other than an amazing cup of coffee)? Are you keen on empowering single moms? Encouraging war veterans? Designing organizational systems? Taking photographs that tell a story?

It may help to jot answers to these questions:

  1. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
  2. What do other Christians say you’re particularly good at?
  3. Which of the following people groups tug at your heart? The homeless; women who’ve had abortions; impoverished families; couples in healthy marriages; children with learning disabilities; substance abusers; families of prisoners; the elderly; the ill; women (or teens) in emotional pain; gifted children, other: ___________.

Look over your answers. Do you see a theme? Now write down: I believe my heart’s passion may be _____________.

If you’re not sure, this is OK. As you try out your interests, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Let’s go to quick step 2. It’s truth-telling!

QUICK STEP 2:

Did you know that usually people’s heart’s desire comes from their life experience, especially the difficult ones?

On a 8 1/2 by 11 paper, turned sideways (also called “landscape”), write My Timeline at the top. Then make 3 long, parallel lines. Divide your current age by 3.

On the lines, you’ll record events (happy and sad and disturbing). The top line is for the first third of your life, the second line for the middle third of your life, and the bottom line for the last third of your life. Got it? Good.

Among the events to record are…

  • Birth dates
  • Death dates
  • HS graduation
  • Anniversaries
  • Marriages and divorces
  • Hospitalizations
  • Moves to new locations
  • New jobs, lost jobs
  • Other important events

Now What?

Once you finish your timeline, prayerfully review it and notice what tugs at your heart. Perhaps you faced a home foreclosure and have a heart’s desire to minister to the homeless. Or, maybe you desire to write a book on fear or to teach Crown financial budgeting principles to others.

Maybe you lived in a blended family and have a heart’s desire to help second and third marriages stay intact. Or possibly you were a victim of a crime and your heart’s desire is to become a first responder, teach self-defense classes, or lead a Bible study in prisons.

Next, look over your timeline. Why not pray over what you discovered. Then, reread your answers to the questions in Step 1.

Finally, write a preliminary statement: my TRUE heart desire may be: _____________.

Chances are, over time you’ll refine your statement. Here’s mine.

Isn’t it amazing that God often uses your story to foster hope in others?

The Takeaway

When you live your heart’s desire, you help others, avoid burnout, glorify God, and are truly happy.

Do you have questions? Would you like help making your heart’s desire a reality? Then contact me. It’s beautiful to hope.

Counseling Hearts to Hope!

lucy-signature-blue

 

Help! I’m a Slave to Food (part 1)

foodFood is a gift from God, right? But for some people, overeating is a. . .sin. In this helpful post that first appeared here, counselor Paul Tautges shares parts of Shannon Kay McCoy‘s booklet, Help! I’m a Slave to Food. It is used with permission. (Edited for length–LAM)

God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).

So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.

Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–

  • whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
  • therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
  • all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
  • sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.

Sin of Overeating?

Slave to Food-small email

McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”

Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem. But overeating does n

ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.

You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.

As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.

Description of a Food Struggle

A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:

My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.

In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.

Overeating Is Not an Addiction

Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.

Overeating Is Idolatry

The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.

You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.

God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change

Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.

Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.

RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Get this 64 page ebook FREE when you sign up for my blog!

 

5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

You have Successfully Subscribed!