Christian Therapists Blog

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Obsessive Love Wheel

Friday, June 16, 2017 @ 11:08 PM

Obsessive love is an oxymoron: it’s not about love at all. It is about owning and possessing another person.
Often people confuse an obsession with being in love. When the two are fused, it can lead to volatile, destructive relationships. Obsessive love is the kind of love that leads to murder, rape, stalking, false accusations and suicide among other things. An obsessive love wheel divides this kind of love into stages that can be clearly identified in certain behavioral traits.
The first stage relates to the initial attraction. This is an overwhelming, emotional or physical attraction that ignores any signs of incompatibility and focusses on physical and emotional traits rather than personality characteristics. The Obsessed begins to have magical fantasies about the person, and then signs of controlling, obsessive behavior begin to show.
The next stage is an anxious one, where the obsessed begins to create unrealistic and baseless notions about the other person abandoning you or being unfaithful. This can lead to depression or violent reactions.
The third phase is the stalker or obsessive phase, when the obsessed person may follow the target, continuously call, stop by the office unannounced, drive by and even monitor the targeted one. Obsessive questions are usually a characteristic of this phase.
Finally, the obsessed person enters the destructive phase. This is usually triggered by the targeted one fleeing or leaving. This phase is characterized by depression for the obsessed, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide. Obsessive love easily transitions from one phase to the next, even the slightest signs of it should be checked and preventive measures should be taken. An Obsessive Love is not love at all, it is all about control and possession of the targeted one.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sexual Abuse Recovery Group

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Sexual Abuse Recovery Group: Healing the Wounded Heart (by: Dan Allender)

Call for further info: 562-706-4251

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can profoundly damage a child’s sense of value, mainly by the perpetrator of the abuse, and secondarily by the non-abusive parent who either doesn’t believe the child, or somehow is oblivious to the abuse happening right in their own household. . So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators. Sometimes children are sexually abused within families in which the non-abusive parent resides mentally in a world of make-believe where no problem exists.

If you have been victimized by emotional incest, physical touch, rape, voyeurism, frotteurism, fondling, inappropriate conversations or non-verbal communication of a sexual nature or in any other way used by a person of more power than you as an object, then these steps will help you overcome the impact of your objectification and emotional hurt. There is no greater injury than being a small child who is used for the sexual gratification of an adult. Following is a list of healthy steps to take in order to heal and recover from sexual abuse:

1. Break your silence. The saying, “you’re as sick as your secrets” definitely applies to childhood sexual abuse. Children and adults who have been subjected to the dishonorable experience of having an adult use them for their sexual gratification, have no desire, ever, to tell anyone of their secret, because of their deep seated feelings of shame and humiliation. However, the only way to heal from this horrendous crime is for the victim to “find her voice.”

2. Journal often about how you have been personally affected by the abuse. List how you were betrayed by those who were supposed to protect you and nurture you. List and describe the different ways you suffered and what you lost because of the abuse. It is important to assess and face the damage in order to heal.

3. Face the Shame. There is great healing to be found in facing the shame your perpetrator put on you; talk about it, and place it off yourself and back on the shoulders of the person responsible for abusing you. Facing your shame and giving it back to your abuser (figuratively) helps you embrace your vulnerability and see yourself in a new light.

4. Grieve your losses. In order to recover from abuse, it is necessary to fully discover and complete the pain caused by your losses. You may feel many losses from being abused, such as, a loss of safety, comfort, innocence, trust, a childhood; a loss of being seen, known, and valued, etc. Think specifically about how your life has been impacted by abuse and write each loss, fully allowing yourself to grieve. Write about how you’ve been betrayed. Share your experience with a safe listening partner.

5. Be Compassionate with yourself. Do not abuse or neglect your value and needs as others have. Learn to talk to yourself with kindness and acceptance. Do not condemn yourself for the past or in the present. Recovery is a lifelong process and developing a constant “inner compassionate companion” will help the rest of your life be a satisfying experience. No longer do you have to be victim to others and to the negative dialogue within your own head. Remind yourself that being abused is not the fault of the victim, for any reason, ever.

Remember that sexual abuse is a form of trauma, and that those who have been affected, suffer with post-traumatic stress. Healing requires patience, understanding, safety, and validation. Therapists helping victims of abuse should offer clients a safe space and presence for facing difficult emotions, and should allow clients to work at their own pace. If a child was abused prior to age six, his memories may be repressed. Never imply that abuse occurred by putting ideas into your client’s mind, just listen to him as he remembers feelings, sensations, hurts, and allow him to talk about events when he’s ready.

When individuals are in therapy, learning to talk about their experiences and feelings, they will most likely have dreams, which are in effect, the mind’s effort at working through the deep feelings. Encourage your client to discuss his dreams, noting that dreams are metaphors. Have him personalize what each object in the dream signifies metaphorically.

Help clients realize that their healing is not dependent on confronting their abusers, but that healing, really is a matter of coming to terms with the abuse internally. Many times, confronting abusers can be very invalidating and counterproductive for victims of abuse. Remind clients that all abusers (especially sexual predators) are master manipulators, and when confronted will tend to do some strategy to minimize, project, deny, or otherwise invalidate the victim’s position. It is better for the victim to just adopt a policy of “no contact” with their abuser and if a confrontation is needed, then have it done merely on paper and read to a therapist.

The more all of the feelings with the abuse are processed by the victim, the more thoroughly the trauma is worked through and felt to completion. There will come a day when the victim will no longer need to process her feelings and she will realize she has been set free. Over time, the negative feelings and thoughts of abuse will dissipate, and not due to repression, but rather due to facing them and feeling their impact in the safe presence of a good therapist or other listening partner.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Should Christians ever seek professional counseling?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 5:18 PM

In the Christian faith, we like to label the dos and don’ts in life as black and white. While scripture is very clear on many practices, some are left up to individual decision and personal conviction.

Through the years, multiple (and even some oppositional) views have emerged on whether or not those of the Christian faith should ever seek or accept professional counseling.
Popular Christian Views on Professional Counseling

1. On one end of the spectrum are those who fully embrace professional counseling and the concepts of psychology. They view it as a science and believe psychological practices hold validity as part of modern medicine.

2. On the other end are those who feel professional counseling is based on secular concepts and therefore is anti-Christian by nature. Subsequently, they believe it should be avoided. This group often prescribes prayer and scripture reading as the only medicine needed to resolve personal issues.

3. Between these two extremes are a wide range of other approaches including, but not limited to: Christian Counseling, Biblical Counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, Theophostic Prayer, and a host of other healing modalities.

Monday, May 29, 2017

My New Digs!

Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 10:44 PM

I am excited to have you join me as I start on a new adventure of opening my own Psychotherapy office located in River Oaks Tower at 3730 Kirby Dr. Ste #800 Houston, Texas.

The decision to move was not an easy one. Leaving old friends and colleagues, buying new furniture, organizing my new office, opening bank accounts, and disturbing my clients’ routines has caused more than a little anxiety. (Anyone know a therapist?). However, my new digs are located within the offices of Premiere Educational and Assessment Services (PEAS). PEAS is an organization which tests and evaluates individuals for ADD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and learning disabilities, among other therapeutic needs.

My new colleagues hold different licenses from mine and consist of Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Ph.D.’s. The synergy between us will be beneficial for my clients and my LPC and LCDC licenses will be an addition to their clinical resources.

Houston is a big, wonderful and high-energy city. It is proud to be named of the friendliest multi-cultural cities in the nation and I feel blessed to be called to help its residents. We all know this environment can have the downside for predisposing us to stress, anxiety, trauma, etc. that impacts our lives daily.

With specialty training in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and soon to be certified in clinical hypnotherapy, I am qualified to help you with many stresses that cause mental unwellness. Dually licensed in addiction, I stand ready to customize a plan that will help you understand why you “abuse” in the first place and help you find the motivation to heal. As a survivor of OCD myself, I am uniquely qualified to help you understand and recover from things like intrusive thoughts, anxiety and depression.

My office is inviting, warm and thoughtfully arranged for your comfort. From the incredible view of our city, to the aromatherapy, to the oversized comfortable couch, we will begin a peaceful, healing process.

Let’s learn to live free together.

Blessings, Therapist Renee.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When the Church fails to help Abuse Victims

Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 1:57 AM

Please note that this article addresses women who are abuse victims. While I realize that men can also be victims of abuse, my focus is on women for the sake of simplicity. Anyone who is abused, male or female, should be cautious about the advice they receive for handling the problem.

It is so sad when a person struggling with an abusive relationship, seeks help from clergy or Christian friends, only to be told that they need to “try harder,” or “be the bigger person,” or “overlook an offense,” or “forgive,” or “turn the other cheek,” etc. When a person, particularly a woman, seeks help from the church for domestic violence, addiction, pornography issues, or emotional neglect and abuse problems in her marriage, so often the church gives pat answers, throws a few verses at the problem, promises to pray for her, and/or sends her on her way.

Oftentimes, the pastor or an elder or some sort of lay counselor in the church may step in and offer Christian counseling to the couple, only to offer the same type of pat answers and short-term solutions as mentioned above. Be very careful and forewarned if you are struggling with severe spousal difficulties and you seek help from the Church. Realize that incompetency can exist in the Church just as often as it can occur within secular sources.

My advice for Christian women seeking real help for serious marital problems is to be very circumspect with the type of help she receives. More often than not, I have heard of complete ineptitude on the part of the Church. In fact, the Church has been known to actually hurt a victimized woman by:

* minimizing the abuse;

* reinforcing the manipulative husband’s tactics by not holding him accountable or minimizing
what he does to cause damage in the relationship;

* invalidating the woman’s feelings, causing her even further victimization;

* blaming her and telling her to try harder to not “cause her brother to stumble,” i.e. that she is
somehow responsible for his behavior;

* by telling her to submit and that God would hold him accountable for his poor behavior and
that she just needs to trust God more;

* telling her to pray more often, keep her mouth shut, be more meek, hold her tongue more
often, etc.

The damage caused to a woman receiving this type of advice in an abusive or addictive marriage will only cause an increase in poor behavior because now the husband has been further emboldened to continue in his unsavory ways, unchecked, while the woman feels completely demoralized and helpless.

The types of assistance the church needs to give a woman seeking help for serious marital issues should be firm, direct, truth-seeking, validating, and grace-filled. When a person seeks counsel from their church, they are looking for spiritual help.

Many times people feel pretty desperate by the time they are willing to actually go to a pastor and ask for help. It takes a lot to just get the words out of one’s mouth, particularly with matters of a personal and private nature. The last thing a woman needs to receive from a church leader is minimization and invalidation of the seriousness of her situation.

If a woman is being sinned against and she is looking for pastoral help, then the best approach the pastor can take is to apply accountability to the husband and provide support to the wife.

When a pastor treats an abusive husband as if his abusive or addictive behavior is no big deal and is partially the wife’s responsibility, then the pastor has actually contributed to the abusive behavior; enabled it; and most likely helped it to increase.

A woman who is trying to get help for herself may end up having to be her own best advocate.

My advice for a woman in an abusive or addictive relationship is as follows:

• Seek help from people who are trained in the area that you are dealing with.

• Trust your internal “instincts” about the advice you are receiving.

• A good counselor will validate you and reflect back to you your input to the point that you
feel understood.

• Always remember that you are not responsible for another person’s behaviors, choices, or
character.

• Ask the person you are seeking counsel from what their background is and philosophy is for
dealing with abuse and addiction problems in families.

• Understand that you do not need to be nicer when dealing with an abuser or addict, you
need to set boundaries – for yourself. What will or will you no longer tolerate?

• If at first you don’t succeed in finding good counsel for your situation, keep trying until you
do. A good counselor will speak truth and will not cause you to feel confused or invalidated.
A good counselor will show empathy and understanding and will have a definite plan of
action to resolve your problem.

• Be aware that often couples counseling will not work with abusers. Abusers are master
manipulators and will most likely manipulate the counselor. This can happen both in the
Church and in secular settings.

• Remember, you cannot change anyone but yourself.

Written by: Dr. Sharie Stines, Therapist, La Mirada, CA

HOPE FOR THE CHRISTIAN IN RECOVERY

Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 1:45 AM

Are you a Christian struggling to overcome an addiction, abuse issue, the effects of a dysfunctional family, or some other stronghold in your life that keeps you personally ensnared? If you find yourself questioning God and wondering where he is during these trying times, then this article is written for you. Sometimes Christians falsely believe that their Christian life follows a formula. If I do a supposedly good thing, then God will bless me. If I try really really hard to be a good person then God will reward me.

Sometimes it appears to those walking “in righteousness” that the people who couldn’t care less about God seem to get all the breaks, money, children, good relationships, nice homes, nice jobs, or whatever it is we keep praying for and never seem to obtain. We start doubting the existence of God altogether because life is not following our preconceived formula of how life should work.

It may seem like a rude awakening for us, mere mortals, but God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). What we deem valuable, God may find irrelevant. While we keep looking for temporary comfort, reprieve from pain, human accolades, or some other lesser ideal, God is working on our hearts. Perhaps our strongholds serve a purpose in our lives that God has set up, and he uses these weaknesses for his ends. Remember the Apostle Paul who prayed three times for God to remove a “thorn in his flesh,” and God said, “no, my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Recovery requires grace. It is essential that you develop grace for yourself, learning to forgive yourself for being weak, for failing, for messing up, for causing problems, for not getting it right. You may never get “it” 100% right and you need to give yourself grace no matter what. What is grace? Grace is bigger than mercy. While mercy reduces the punishment we must face for our insurrections, grace eliminates punishment altogether. Grace involves forgiveness and more.
According to the Old Testament, grace means deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity; it also involves daily wisdom, preservation and forgiveness. In the New Testament, grace means salvation in Christ.

On a human level, we can only give ourselves grace to a limited degree. We do this by taking ourselves “off the hook.” We don’t require ourselves to be any more than we are. I think we assume that somehow we’re supposed to be able to do so much more than is realistic or even necessary.

One verse that I find very helpful to keep myself in a proper perspective is, 1 Peter 2:25, which reminds us that we are all like sheep, have gone astray, and need a shepherd. We cannot do recovery without the great shepherd. We are best served by taking our recovery out of our hands and surrendering our lives to God, asking him to take the lead.
For those struggling with some serious recovery issues, who can’t seem to stop smoking, using, enabling, being abused, abusing, etc., help and wisdom can be found in Scripture. For the Christian, God’s word has power. God gave us his word to provide us with the “food” we need for our souls, to sustain us.

Written by: Dr. Sharie Stines, Therapist, La Mirada, CA

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Steps to Successful Therapy - Psalm 23 "The Lord is My Shepherd".

Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 8:23 PM

Find a Qualified Therapist
Choosing a therapist can be confusing. If possible, getting a personal referral is ideal, but if not, look for the best fit for your particular need - someone who is licensed and specializes in your particular area of need. Credentials to look for are: LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor; NCC, National Certified Counselor; LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Commit to be Honest in Therapy
Your therapist can only help if she has the facts. The more she knows about you, the better she can help. Be willing to share openly and offer as much information as you know. Your therapist understands the difficulty in expressing deep hurts; however, she specifically was chosen to guide, encourage, support and understand all that you are going through, and wants to help. The therapist is trained to ask questions, use her insight and professional training to gather the data and make an informed diagnosis based on all of the information collected in the sessions.

Sessions are structured to alleviate any immediate symptoms that are adversely affecting you,
to gather a complete family and medical history, to hear your goals in therapy. If you are uncertain, we can mutually collaborate on what those goals for you might be. Your honesty and openness is essential for us to work together as a team, to ensure a strong therapeutic relationship and offer you the best help possible.

Confidentiality
Everything that you discuss with your therapist is strictly confidential and cannot be shared with anyone, unless you give your permission by signing an authorization to release information.

Make a Commitment to the Process
In therapy you will discover self awareness: awareness of your physical and emotional self, and also awareness of the language you use. Our words effect our thoughts and behaviors. Your therapist may ask you to journal or to complete certain worksheets at home. These tools are necessary to complete the therapeutic process and encourage your ability toward healing, self-discovery, growth and change. You will inevitably gain from participating in the counseling experience.

An Environment of Safety
My goal is to provide a warm, safe, and non-judgmental space for you to feel comfortable being yourself. Feel free to be YOU. Laugh, cry, say what you want to say, be as uninhibited as possible. Our relationship becomes sort of like a dance; sometimes I lead and you follow; and other times, you lead and I follow. Our conversations are strictly private and confidential. Keep in mind that God is the great counselor and I act only as His instrument. Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path."

Psalm 100 "MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE LORD.....SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS"

Go in Peace.
written by Veronica A. Zinkham, LPC
May 6, 2017

Mind Matter - My Personal Journey with OCD

Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 11:56 AM

My personal journey with OCD, in the form of intrusive thoughts, began when I was only 11 years old. These thoughts would get “stuck” in my head and would play over and over again. This became increasingly stressful. My temporary solution was to go through my own personal ritual which made things better for awhile. This was not a permanent solution and the thoughts always resurfaced. At this age, I had no idea how to verbalize the mental pain I was in and I didn’t want people to think I was “crazy”, so I suffered in silence. I noticed that these thoughts would occur more often during times of stress or when I was fatigued.

I was told one time by a well-meaning therapist that I should just avoid getting under stress. Really? What universe was she from? As everyone knows, that’s easier said than done if not impossible. Now I know that advice like “live a healthy lifestyle” didn’t work, as I was a committed bodybuilder who practiced very healthy eating, exercise and other healthy principles. Additionally, advice such as trying to “control” unwanted thoughts only ended up backfiring. In fact, popular “coping strategies” I was so eagerly given did little to help me. The truth is that coping skills stop working even though helpful at first. I tried many other recommended solutions, but in time, these too failed to control the unwanted thoughts adequately.

Fast-forward many years, I now have a somewhat symptom free life. And now when these unwanted thoughts raise their ugly head, I am well prepared for what to do. I feel my suffering has made me more uniquely qualified to help my own clients with this disorder. I start by helping them understand that intrusive thoughts are quite common among people. Often times they immediately begin to feel better when they learn that these “sticky thoughts” are through no fault, personality detect or mental illness of their own.

Now you know why as a therapist I have taken a personal interest in helping people find the solutions that I wish I had found at a young age. The right customized solution that really helps in changing the way the brain works can make all the difference in how one feels. The therapies that I have found work best with my clients are EMDR, exposure therapy and a customizable plan based on their particular symptom set. Finding a therapist that uses the latest evidence based treatment is paramount in getting on the road to recovery. How do I know? Because I truly get it!

Finally, I’m always adding to my repertoire of evidenced based treatment. In July, I will become certified in hypnotherapy and look forward to offering this to clients. Live Free!

Renee Trimble, MS, LPC Intern, LCDC
Founder Free Indeed Therapy

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Woman's Bible Therapy Group

Saturday, April 15, 2017 @ 8:45 PM

Are you wanting a closer relationship with God? Are you struggling with feelings of shame, hopelessness, grief, doubt, fear, and insecurity? Have you experienced a painful event and are unable to move past it? The women of the Bible also experienced many painful events that led to feelings of shame, hopelessness, grief, doubt, fear, and insecurity, just to name a few, all while living in a time period that was radically different from ours. Yet, every one of these women share our human condition. What can we learn from them as they persevered through those events? How can we make personal application of those lessons? The focus of this group is to discover the lessons the extraordinary women of the Bible teach us, to make personal reflection of those lessons, and to make life changes by walking them out through application of interventions such as, psychoeducation, spiritual disciplines, coping skills, and journaling.

DATES:
Beginning: Thursday, April 6, 2017
Ending: Thursday, June 8, 2017
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Cost: $20 per session (10 sessions)

Seating is limited.

LOCATION:
2425 N. Courtenay Parkway, Suite 9
Merritt Island, FL 32953

You can PURCHASE the BOOK from Amazon:
Women of the Bible: Heroines and the Lessons They Can Still Teach Us
• ISBN-10: 1618933671
• ISBN-13: 978-1618933676

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Melissa K. Weedman, MA, MHC, BCCC @ (321) 543-3833

Friday, April 07, 2017

Bullet Journaling

Friday, April 07, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

We’ve all been there: you make plans with the best of intentions, even putting them into the calendar on your phone, and you insist that you won’t forget. The day comes around, you are sitting at home and get a message from your friend asking where you are, and you panic. How could you have forgotten?

In this digital age, it can seem like our technology is a foolproof method for remembering. We have apps to do anything and everything, and doing anything analog just seems needlessly cumbersome and time-consuming. Yet, we also find ourselves forgetting appointments, feeling unprepared for the day, and not accomplishing what we planned. This is because there is less intentionality in typing something into your phone or computer versus writing it down. Your mind isn’t forced to really think about what it is doing because typing is so quick. The note, appointment, or whatever else you may store digitally is forgotten as soon as it is typed. All of these lapses in our day-to-day memory can leave us feeling mentally taxed, far too busy, and anxious for the days ahead.

What if I were to propose a simple solution? The “Bullet Journal” is an analog system for planning and organizing your life. Now, you may be tempted to tune out because you’ve tried physical planners before and never lasted more than a few months at best, but hear me out. The bullet journal is essentially a do-it-yourself planner/journal/notebook. All you need to make one is a notebook and a pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive because you can make your bullet journal whatever and however you want. You can plan out your schedule, but you can also plan trips, make lists of ideas or books to read, make sketches, set goals, and track habits and emotions! This blog will cover the foundations of starting your bullet journal, with ideas and examples.

The main concept behind bullet journaling is the idea of “rapid logging,” or making quick notes, in order to avoid getting bogged down by the task of journaling or planning. As you can see, I have included some examples of “spreads” or pages as I prefer to do them in my own bullet journal, but they can look like whatever would be most helpful to you. Usually there is a little bit of trial and error throughout the process of bullet journaling, and you will eventually find out what works for you! There is a plethora of inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs such as bohoberry.com, and the official bullet journal website: bulletjournal.com.

To read the entire article from our therapist, Laura Lanier, go to the website listed on this blog.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

feeling Stuck?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

I often hear my clients say they feel "stuck". This of course can mean a number of things, some of which may include, feeling afraid, sad, angry, lonely or lost. Like being lost in the forest, with no sense of direction, no clear path to follow, and no exit signs, it can feel overwhelming and very scary. Feeling this way over a period of time is exhausting and so you freeze or get "stuck".
There are many ways we can lose our way or get stuck in life. Sometimes we lose our way because we stopped paying attention to our own inner warning signs to either "slow down", "turn around" or "walk away". Sometimes we find ourselves lost in another person's overgrown and chaotic life, and by focusing so much on how to help them find their way though their mess we never realize how far we wondered off our own path. Sometimes our focus gets blurred by the hurts from the past, the pressures of the present and worries about tomorrow. We lose our way because we are not watching where we are going. We are distracted.
I have found that offering my clients a way to see themselves for an outside perspective can be most helpful. It is like stepping out of the painting of your life and looking back at it from outside the frame. This way, together the client and I can better pinpoint where they may have left their path and then determine the best ways to slowly and carefully make their way back. As a fellow sojourner, I too have wandered and lost my way. I have come to realize that having a trusted fellow traveler as a companion can be the greatest comfort of all. This is one of the reasons I love being a professional counselor. To be able to walk alongside someone and encourage or support their transformation is a gift many have given me. What a privileged to share this sacred journey. Make the choice to call and ask for help today. Your path to new life is waiting!

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Key to Overcoming Pornography Addiction? Get to the Root.

Monday, April 03, 2017 @ 5:38 PM

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS

It is difficult watching men who have been struggling for years to get themselves free of pornography. I remember going through the challenge of erasing porn from my life and the feelings of frustration and hopelessness each time I failed. Today, as a Christian counselor I get the opportunity to walk with men as they take up the battle against pornography and it’s heartbreaking to hear their stories of endless attempts to get sober only to succumb to temptation over and over again.

“I have tried everything that has been asked of me in the past,” said Larry. “The Internet security, support groups, accountability partners, you name it and I have done it. And don’t get me wrong, they certainly help for a while but it never fails as time goes on the same hurtful feelings start coming back and I find myself using once again. Sometimes I feel like I have done nothing but put a band-aid over my sexual addiction. It stops the acting out until it falls off.”

As Larry spoke I knew right away what he was struggling with in his quest to be porn free. He had never gotten to the root of his sexual addiction problem. You see, at the heart of all addictions is emotional pain. Addictive behaviors are used in an attempt to conceal the hurt we feel by serving as a distraction. And they do an excellent job at keeping our emotional pain in check – for a brief time. But once the “high” of our addiction has worn off, we find ourselves right back where we started.

Now you may be saying to yourself “I don’t feel any emotional pain. I use pornography simply because I like it.” This is not unusual. What that means is you have done an excellent job in suppressing troubling emotions. In fact, you may have a difficult time in expressing any emotion beyond anger, happiness or sadness. But lying at the core of your addiction is a rationale for why you abuse sex. And that is exactly what you’re doing – abusing sex.

The emotional pain that leads to sexual addictions can take on many different forms. Over the years I have identified numerous reasons men abuse sex including: an overwhelming need for affirmation; a sense of entitlement; the need for control; the hunger for attention; feelings of weakness; inability to emotionally engage; early sexual stimulation or abuse; and a stress buster. It is not uncommon for men to deal with two or more of these emotional troubles.

Behavior modification has its place in treating sexual addictions and is extremely valuable. But a key to freeing yourself from abusing sex is learning to identify and manage your emotional pain. And that requires getting to the root.

Look for Eddie Capparucci's new book entitled "The Making of a Sex Addict: 9 Reasons Why Men Abuse Sex due out in late 2017.

3 Reasons Why Your Might Need Pornography Counseling

Monday, April 03, 2017 @ 5:33 PM

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS

I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to men who say “yeah, I look at porn but I don’t think I have a problem”. To them, pornography and masturbation are something all men do and it’s not a big deal. What they fail to understand is they're engaging in pornography is damaging to others as well as themselves. So how do you know if you have a serious porn problem that requires professional help? Here are just three examples.

1. Your wife says she's upset and you still use.
If you are getting pushback from your spouse about your pornography use and you continue to use it knowing the pain it causes you need to see a counselor. It is obvious your need and desire for pornography and masturbation are clouding your ability to see and address her emotional pain. “If she’s upset with porn that’s her problem, not mine,” is something I have heard on numerous occasions from men attempting to justify their actions. Nice attitude to have toward someone you supposedly love. A professional counselor will help you get out of your own head and focus more on addressing the pain your wife feels. Be advise if find yourself in this position your marriage may be in serious trouble.

2. You would rather spend time with porn than people.
If your predominant thoughts when at work, school, or church are centered on pornography; or you find yourself preferring to sit home and watch porn rather than be with friends and family then you need help from a professional counselor. Obsessive sexual thoughts centered on porn images captured by your brain, or an anxiousness in wanting to get to your next opportunity to view porn are key issues that can be addressed with the help of a competent mental health professional. Whether you are aware of it or not your obsession with pornography is crippling your ability to emotionally connect with others, which will result in missing numerous opportunities that would bring you a sense of joy and fulfillment.

3. Porn/masturbation is hampering your sex life.
It is not unusual for men who engage in chronic pornography/masturbation to suffer from various sexual dysfunctions including: erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and leaky erections. Some men must engage in sexual fantasy by replaying pornographic images in their mind in order to become and stay aroused when having sex with their partner. Chronic pornography use also has been proven to have a negative impact on the brain through the above normal increase of dopamine that is released when viewing. Over time, the brain suffers damage that is similar to that of someone who abuses drugs.

A certified sexual addiction counselor can help in the process of rebooting the brain, while assisting you in learning how to remove pornography from your life.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

What does the BIble say about being "Offended?".

Sunday, April 02, 2017 @ 11:19 AM

In todays world there are many things that can cause us to take offense. Friends, family members and even people we don't know sometimes say things or do things that can cause us to feel insulted and even hurt. Sometimes people are just careless with their words and they say the first thing that comes to mind, while others may use words as weapons and in a deliberate attempt to hurt us and to see what our reactiion will be. Either way in the end we walk away offended.

With that said I think its fair to say that at one time or another in some way or form we have all been offended by others. Hurtful words, sarcastic remarks, and even a dirty look can offend us. So how can we get past what someone said, or what someone did so that we can move on and forgive and forget? I will tell you how. We can choose not to get offended. Although it does sound easier said than done, when we realize the amount of strength and power we give to the offense we would probably think twice about allowing our offended feelings to ever creep up on us again. When we let what others say or what they do effect us, we are giving them control over us. God loves us. He wants our eyes to stay fixed on Him. He wants us to be more concerned with Him and less concerned with what others say and do.

In an effort to change our outlook on how not to be offended, we need to realize a few things; the first and most important is to remember who's you are; Your a child of the most high God. We should all be standing in His strength. We should look to the Lord for the answers to the questions we have regarding how to handle 'life's issues" and other situations that we all will come across living in this crazy world. No worldly situation is too big or too small for God to address in the Bible and in the case of being "offended" there is no exception. God addresses "feelings of being offended" in the Bible and here is what scripture says about being offended;

Proverbs 19:11 says;
"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense."

God blesses us when we do the right thing. That means when someone does offend us and we hold our tongue instead of returning insult for insult , or when we just walk away without a word after someone deliberately offends us, God blesses us. Don't give in to others who try to manipulate circumstances to get to you.

James 1:19 says;

"Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

James 1:19 is saying that getting angry is foolish. Think about the energy that is put into getting angry and then think about the result of the anger you feel toward the situation. Did any amount of that anger fix the situation? Anger is a waste of time. Whats done is done, anger won't change anything but, prayer will. Would it not be better to say a prayer asking your Heavenly Father for strength and for wisdom during this time?

2 Corinthians 12:10 says;

"For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

When we turn our eyes to the Lord and look to please Him only, we can stand strong in the face of adversity.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Hope

Saturday, April 01, 2017 @ 12:53 PM

Hope

Mark 5:4 , 15 " ...No one was strong enough to subdue him...When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind;

Have you ever been in a place where you felt like this? Where there seemed to be no solution, no help to be found, your situation was dire because no one had what it took to change the circumstances or those involved including you?

I think we all have been in that place, are there now, or might be heading into it. At these times we often feel alone, afraid, anxious and powerless. Add the self inflicted sense of false guilt because " Christians shouldn't feel this way" or the harsh, legalistic shaming from others that tells us "you need to have more faith..." Or perhaps worse, just neglect and a sense of rejection, and you have a recipe for hopelessness. The Enemy seems to like to use these tactics of our own inner critic, others, and top it of with the resulting isolation from the body, or the pack so to speak. Have you ever watched the nature shows where you see the Lion or the Wolves hunting? Have you noticed that they seem to target those animals that have become separated from the herd? Folks we are sitting ducks when we isolate. It leaves room for all the above. Remember scripture tells us " ...yet we are not unaware of his schemes." Yet when we hurt, we forget and cannot see, that's when we really need one another.

Here is the key, looking back at Mark 5, the man possessed had no hope, as he could not be helped, bound or even caught so someone could try to help. He was out in a desolate, lonely place ....separated. But Jesus....The words jumped off the page at me today that there was one who just so happened to land in that place where he was. Do you think that was an accident? Jesus could and did subdue and bind the Enemy, He also in that process, restored the man to life, broke his isolation and exile, and told him to tell, others how much God had done for him. Wow!! So what in life is overwhelming you, keeping you apart? Have you become hopeless of change or restoration? Run to Him, He has the power, grace and mercy not only to overcome the Enemy, but to heal, restore, and lead you to healthy, life giving relationships in the body.

Recommended reading:

Safe People Cloud & Townsend
Safest Place on Earth. Dr Larry Crabb
He Loves Me Wayne Jacobsen

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hypnosis vs. Therapy: What's the Difference?

Friday, March 31, 2017 @ 10:44 AM

Hypnosis vs. Therapy: What's the Difference?


10:10 Clinical Director Ara Trembly has written a detailed comparison of the two modalities for The Hypnosis Examiner. You may access the article at:
http://www.qissagebodysystems.org/hypnotherapy/newsletter/Volume%201%20Special%20Edition.pdf.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Seeing Red: How to keep anger from hijacking your brain

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 11:34 AM

Fuming. Seething. Steaming. Powerful language to describe an equally powerful emotion. Anger is a natural reaction to perceived threats, stress or injustice, but can feel overwhelming. Here’s what’s technically happening behind the scenes when you get mad: The amygdala sounds an alarm triggering the adrenal glands to release catecholamines dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline through the veins of your body. When adrenaline reaches your heart, it beats faster and more vigorously, causing blood to be pumped 3 times as fast, preparing you for action. You begin breathing faster, your stomach tightens and your muscles begin feeling tense.

So, how do we keep anger from hijacking our brains?

Anger is not inherently good or bad. It's designed to protect us and others from harm. It also has some benefits, like increasing our confidence and decisiveness as well as motivating ourselves and others to act. Anger becomes a problem if it is felt too intensely or frequently as it has damaging effects on your health. Chronic anger changes the structure of your brain, leading to greater reactivity and perpetuating the anger experience. Anger is also problematic if it is expressed ineffectively as it can hurt others, damage the quality of relationships and lead to losing friends, loved ones and jobs. Reacting in anger can also put you and others at risk of physical harm and leave you feeling remorse and shame.

So, how do we keep anger from hijacking our brains?

Perhaps you already know you have a problem with anger. You say you’ll change, but when push comes to shove, you fall back into the same trap. You’re not alone. Anger is a powerful emotion you don’t want to underestimate, so let’s face it, you’re going to need a plan. The steps below will help you create an individualized plan for disrupting anger before it costs you. I’d recommend detailing your plan in a note on your phone so its readily available. Before you get started creating your plan, define the problem you want to overcome and your intended goal. Then you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your plan. For instance,

“Problem: I yell at my kids and wife when I get mad.
Goal: Speak to my family in a calm, respectful tone, even when I feel angry".


Step 1: Know your triggers
A trigger is any stimulus that leads to intense emotion or problematic behaviors. Triggers vary from person to person and are often based on your values and personal history. Imagine carrying a weapon and not knowing what sets it off. That could be dangerous, right? The same is true with emotions. If you want to react well when you get mad, you will need to become aware of what sets you off. Knowing your triggers increases your ability to prepare to cope when these events occur.

Figuring out your triggers may not come naturally to you, but there is a trick: keep an anger log. After you lose your cool, note the date, time, what was going on around you, things people said/did, thoughts you had, emotions you felt and physiological sensations before you got mad (headaches, etc). After tracking these for a couple of weeks, you will begin to notice some common themes. These are your triggers. I’ll post some common triggers soon to give you some clues on what to look for.

Step 2: Acknowledge that you are angry in the moment

Regaining control once you're infuriated is a formidable task. However, most people don’t actually become enraged instantly. Typically our anger escalates gradually, but many people aren’t aware of their mild to moderate emotion. Being unaware of mild to moderate emotions puts you at risk for losing control. Work to notice the physiological signs of anger before its at its peak. Spend some time slowing down when you are angry to label your emotion and notice what it feels like. Observe the changes in your body, the increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweaty palms, tension in fists, etc. Scientific research demonstrates that naming your emotion can shift your brain into a more rational state and that mindful awareness of emotion increases our emotional control.

Step 3: Use effective strategies for reducing your anger level
When you are angry, you can take steps to feel calm again. Once you notice a trigger feeling of anger, it's important to make time to practice using techniques that keep anger at a manageable level. The angrier you are, the harder it will be to effectively use these skills in the moment so try practicing when you are only mildly annoyed, gradually using the skills at a higher levels of anger. The primary goal is to bring the physiological arousal down, which is typically best accomplished through relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing. Deep breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing means breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose, filling up your diaphragm (muscle between your chest and abdomen) for about 10 seconds and then slowly releasing the air out through your mouth for another 10 seconds. (Note: Avoid using any mood-altering substances that might cause you more problems in the future.)


Step 4: Evaluate & Revise Your Plan
After trying out your plan, evaluate how effective it was at reaching your intended goal. You may be tempted to skip this step, but it’s crucial for measuring what actually works and what doesn’t. If it worked, note what worked. If it didn’t work, try to diagnose what went wrong. Did you stick to your plan, following each of the steps? Do you need more time to practice using the skill? Use your evaluations to revise your plan. Keep working the plan and revising until you have a solid plan that works!

Anger can be very complex and this plan may not fully address all of the underlying causes of your anger. If your anger is upsetting or costing you significantly, counseling can help you overcome it. Anger is very treatable. Call Amanda Berge to discuss treatment options. (224) 633-3319

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kindness in Our Marriage

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

By Waymon and Charla Hinson

Kindness in marriage? What is it? How does it get shown? We have wondered about these questions and have enjoyed the discussion and hopefully our marriage will be stronger as a result. Since the earliest of days of our marriage, we have been a highly ritualized couple. We have been intentional about these matters. From the earliest days of our 47 years of marriage to each other, we have created rituals, or patterns, around daily events as well as celebrations that signify to each other that those things matter and that we within the circle of those behaviors matter uniquely to each other....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 Tips to Enhance Your Marriage

Saturday, March 18, 2017 @ 8:27 PM

5 Tips to Enhance Your Marriage

By:

Lee J. Langley, M.S., LMFT



1) Speak to each other as if your pastor is over for dinner.

2) Avoid addressing your spouse by his/her first name, especially during heated discussions or when you are about to make a request. Use pet names whenever possible. Most husbands (and some wives) hear their proper names as the beginning of some sort of disrespectful interaction (reminds them of when mom was addressing them as kids). Pet names never inspire that feeling

3) Make it each day’s goal to make your spouse’s life better in some way. (Dr. Laura agrees with this one).

4) Remember how you acted with your spouse when you were courting. It’s likely very different than what you do now.

5) When there's conflict always ask yourself: Do I want to be right or do I want to be loved?

The question is: "Why wouldn't couples utilize these very simple and practical concepts to reduce conflict and increase love in their marriages"? The answer I'm given almost every time in counseling is that IT ISN'T FAIR. Husbands and wives feel it just isn't fair that they are expected to act in this way while they feel mistreated by their spouse. In fact, it is this relentless quest for fairness that often derails a relationship that was once very treasured.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Be Shrewd As A Serpent, Yet As Innocent As A Dove

Sunday, March 05, 2017 @ 4:58 PM

“Be Shrewd as a Serpent, yet Innocent as a Dove”

All women absorb messages during their lifetimes, and these messages have a profound influence on a woman’s voice. Women—especially women of faith—receive numerous messages about how they are supposed to behave and these messages influence a woman’s voice.

Sometimes we give specific messages more value than others, such as…be gentle, be kind, be patient, be loving, be innocent.These are powerful and truthful messages. As women of faith, we should treasure the pursuit of these qualities in our character.

On the contrary, as women, how many times have we been given these messages:

Be hyper-vigilant, guarded, calculating, astute. Be marked by a practical and hard-headed intelligence. BE SHREWD! Do place as much value on developing these characteristics as we do on being innocent, kind and patient?

Think about the definition of the word “shrewd.” It means to show sharp powers of judgment, to be astute, sharp-witted, intelligent, clever, canny, sagacious, perceptive and savvy.Being shrewd is a great quality to have.

Let’s pause for a moment and really reflect on the message given to us from the Book of Matthew:

“Be shrewd as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove.” Matthew 10:16.

Do you hear it? This powerful instruction puts as much emphasis on being shrewd as it does on being innocent. In fact, it suggests we should put equal weight on both qualities when we make decisions. We should not be more innocent than we are shrewd; we should pursue a fifty-fifty balance.

In my blog post “Create a Meaningful Ruckus,” I wrote about the tendency of the feminine soul to associate the feeling of tension caused by rocking the boat with having done something wrong. This tendency may be rooted in the fact that women have often absorbed more messages about being loving, kind, and innocent and fewer about being calculating, savvy, and shrewd.

I would estimate that within our church walls, 90% of messages created for women emphasize patience, love, and kindness, and fewer than 10% of messages emphasize the importance of being shrewd. Yet, according to the book of Matthew, these character attributes should have equal weight.

Quite frequently I observe women in my counseling office feeling guilty when their circumstances require them to act shrewdly. They have not yet created a mindset that being shrewd is as honorable, valuable, and imperative as being innocent.

Why must we equally weigh being shrewd with being kind in all of our decisions and interactions? Because shrewdness prevents us from confusing being kind, loving and gentle with having a high tolerance for crap. There is simply no other way of saying that, my friends.

In order to find your voice and create more balance in your decision-making process, be both innocent and shrewd.

I hope these insights encourage you to find your Voice!



DIALOGUE QUESTIONS:

Do you give yourself permission to be shrewd and calculating? Or do you put more emphasis on developing a character based on being innocent and kind?

Do you find that overemphasizing being innocent and underestimating the value of being shrewd leads you into relationships or circumstances that create having a high tolerance for crap?

Is there a decision you are currently making where you need to practice being shrewder and less innocent in order to bring balance to your thought process?

How does meditating on Matthew 10:16 reduce the false guilt you may have about being more calculating, shrewd, and hyper-vigilant?

Have you been given the message that you need to be shrewd, lately? If so, did you resist or absorb that message?



Margo Tirado
www.margotirado.com
Counselor Coach Speaker Blogger

Saturday, March 04, 2017

My Brain on Grief

Saturday, March 04, 2017 @ 12:16 PM

I remember it just like it was yesterday. My mother came into my room, waking me up from a peaceful slumber to tell me that the most important person in my life had passed. Wait, this just can’t happen, I thought at the time. That person is my only “safe” person. That person is the only one that I feel truly loves me. That person is the only one willing to take care of me when I get sick. “That person” was my grandmother and I had just turned sixteen. Living with a mother battling severe depression and a disconnected, authoritarian father, losing my grandmother meant losing my only safe place.

This was when I became acquainted with grief for the first time. Now 40 years later, I realize it truly has been woven into my core and is inseparable from my very soul. Katie McGarry in Pushing the Limits describes grief this way…”Grief doesn’t get better. The pain. The wounds scab over and you don’t always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you’ll never be the same”.

Grief doesn’t just hit us when, as in my case, we lose the most important person in our world, but can flow into our lives in unexpected ways. As a professional counselor, I have specialty training in helping people cope with grief that comes to them in a variety of ways. One client came to me when it dawned on her that her abusive childhood had stolen away all her memories of having a childhood at all. Another came to me grieving the fact that she was in her 30’s and had never been in a close relationship with another human. So grief takes many forms.

We don’t have to view grief as an enemy. Quite the contrary, we can view grief as something to embrace, love and make peace with. The grief that I feel from the loss of my grandmother is “sweet” to me. As it nudges at my soul, it releases a smile on my face when I think about the last time she put her arms around me and told me how special I was. And I remember how she always let me win at monopoly while baking my favorite chocolate cake. Kristin O’Donnell Tubb in The 13th Sign describes grief this way, ”Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar. Here’s what really happens: The spaces between the times you miss them grows longer. Then when you do remember to miss them again, it’s still with a stabbing pain to the heart.” While this writer agrees with Ms. Tubb’s quote, I would like to add that the “stabbing pain” is followed by gratefulness, in that every time I experience that pain of remembering my grandmother it is followed quickly by the joy and love that she gave me in my life.

April is a time when we are made aware that there is a type of grief that is not always followed with joy—National Infertility Awareness Month. So when grief comes to a couple as they live day by day childless, knowing that the one thing they want may never happen, how can one turn that to joy? This is an unrequited loss that can turn into complex, prolonged grief if not attended to. While there is not “pat” answer, one thing I am certain of is that in the case of all grief, acceptance brings relief. As all other options are exhausted for the couple that desires a child, trusting that God is there to comfort and accepting “what is” can bring some relief. C.S. Lewis put it this way…. “getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point and move forward.” I believe there is much wisdom in this quote. Trusting God is not always easy, but it’s always necessary—even when we have to grieve the loss of what could have been.

As I reflect on grief, I am reminded that God himself is most intimate with grief. Isaiah 53:3 reminds us with these words…He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not.” Is it not wonderful to know that our God understands our grief and one day promises to make all things right—even our grief—no matter what the cause.



Renee Trimble, LPC Intern, LCDC
Licensed Psychotherapist

3/4/2016

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When Perception is Everything

Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 2:04 PM

It’s February 2015 and 6 months since my first and last blog post. Since relocating my family, life, and business, it has been a whirlwind of change, to say the least. And although most of the change has been really good, it has still been really hard and at times, very stressful. In general, I personally am usually okay with change. In fact, I like to create change! But I also REALLY like to be in control of it! Like anything in life, however, we are often not in control of the circumstances or the details that can arise. What we are in charge of is ourselves and how we will react or respond to any given situation.

“If we could control ourselves all day long, THAT would be a really good day!” – Danny Silk, author of Loving Our Kids On Purpose

Some transitions in life can be short like the eyeglasses with transition lenses that people wear that adjust to when they are outside in the sun or indoors. And then there are the long ones… like a woman in labor:

5 Ways To Build A Better Spouse

Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 1:54 PM

Researchers will tell you that marriages end in divorce because of issues in these top 3 areas: communication, sex, and money. Communication issues will range from not talking to one another (not opening up) to continuous conflicts or verbal abuse. Sexual issues could range from not having enough sex with someone having an affair. Money issues could include fighting over not having enough to pay bills (and the stress it produces), to battles over who will pay for what and the separation of finances as a means of control. All three of these issues have one common denominator in them: lack of trust.

We all know communication is key in relationships. There are several ways to improve your practical communication skills, money management, and sexual connection. I will offer a few of those in my next few posts. But first, I want to address the deeper issue of trust that can undermine a relationship in all of these areas.

If you value trust in your relationship, you will not only trust your spouse, but you will be trustworthy. You will be fully committed to them and loyal to them. If you trusted your spouse, you would give them the benefit of the doubt that they would never do or say anything to harm you intentionally. And you would behave the same way. Trust means you have given yourself fully to one another and will mutually care for the other’s heart as your main priority.

The Holiness Process

Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 1:36 PM

“The fruit of the Spirit is grown in the soil of adversity.” This is what I heard in my spirit as I was studying in Galatians 5. In order to grow our character to be more like Christ, we have to embrace the difficult seasons in life and find a new way to respond to them. We cannot respond out of our flesh, our human nature or fallen nature. We must embrace the mind of Christ and use the power of our free will to choose to move in the opposing spirit of what is attacking us in those moments. Instead of fear, I choose love. Instead of a harsh word, I return a kind one. I will honor someone who may not deserve it because I am choosing to be honorable. This is how we enter into our identity as a son or daughter of God. We set our boundaries, filter the lies from the Truth and choose to respond as Jesus would. This is the Holiness Process each believer is in while on the earth. The command to “Love one another” can only really be fulfilled as we learn to forgive others and ourselves, and choose to love regardless.

Know Your Season

Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 1:18 PM

Do you know what season you are in? I don’t mean, is it Fall, Spring, Summer or Winter? What I mean is…do you know what your present day life is to be focused on? What assignment(s) have you been given? What are you to be focused on? Are you in a season of healing, growth, or rest? It is time to move past the past. Don’t fear the unknown future. But instead, focus on today. What has God put in your hands today to manage and steward well? WHO has God put in your life right now and what are you to learn from them or help them with? Don’t despise your present circumstances. Look for the treasures hidden in them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5777: The Year of the Sword

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 7:50 AM

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Several years ago, the Lord highlighted the Hebraic calendar to me. I think the times and seasons of the Lord are very significant for us as His people, and we can learn a lot about what is important to God by studying His calendar and His plan as it is laid out in Scripture.

This past year, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), I gave a message at my church about the new Hebraic calendar year, the year 5777, which had just begun on Rosh Hashanah, 10 days prior. It was beautiful timing because these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe, or the Days of Repentance.

These are the days when traditionally, the Jews believed that God opened up the book of life to inspect his sheep and evaluate his people. During this time, the Lord is measuring the words, deeds, and heart of his people, just as a shepherd measures his sheep as they pass beneath his rod. The Days of Awe are a time of repentance, a time of crying out to Him, just as David did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

You’ve probably heard that the word repentance means, “to turn away,” and that is true. But what’s more important is what you are turning to. The word literally means “return.” It is a picture of returning to God, to see things the way He sees them and to confess that what He says is true.

I’d like to share a few thoughts about the current Hebraic year that we are in, the year 5777. We know from Scripture that numbers are important to God. The number seven is found everywhere in Scripture and is a symbol of perfection. There are seven days of the week, seven feasts of Israel, seven lamps on the golden lampstand, seven Spirits of God, seven churches in Revelation, etc., so I believe that this year is a very important year for God’s timing and bringing things to completion and breakthrough.

The symbols for the year 5777 literally mean “May this be the year of the sword,” and the year is represented by the Hebrew letters Hey, Tav, Shin, Ayin, and Zayin. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet is a symbol with deep meaning, signifying a number, a picture, and a sound, which is fascinating to me as a musician.

The letter Hey has a numerical value of 5. The letter represents divine grace, breath, spirit, revelation, and the light of God. Literally, it means behold. We are in a season of grace where the Spirit is moving and bringing new revelation and insights into the knowledge of God.

The next two letters, the Tav and Shin, have the numerical values of 400 and 300, forming 700.
This is the seventh century in a season of divine grace, a beautiful time of awakening and repairing of the Kingdom.

The letter Ayin has a numerical value of 70, and the letter Zayin has a numerical value of 7, forming the last two numbers, 77.

The Ayin symbol is made up of a pair of eyes and knees bent as in prayer, signifying eyes to see and to obey. It is a picture of submitted servant leadership. In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 70 disciples, giving them the power and authority to preach, heal, and cast out demons. In Numbers 11, Moses appoints 70 elders that received the same Spirit that rested on Moses. These were leaders who served leaders in perfect submission to God.

The final number, seven, is the number of perfection and completeness. The letter in Hebrew is a picture of a sword with a crown on top, signifying a warring King, Jesus. Another interesting point is that Zayin derives its root from the word nourishment, and the word for bread is also contained in the word for war. We have these great and precious promises, that as we war from a place of rest, we will have our daily bread.

The word for this year that I am pressing into is that this is a year of the war, but not from a place of striving. We war from a place of rest and worship, in complete submission to God, under His divine grace. We war in the way God wants us to war--from the throne room of God. We are seated in heavenly places, and Jesus is our high priest and king, who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and who has sent us out under His authority to advance the Kingdom of God.

What change will you be making this year to learn how to war from the place of rest? Can you identify what you are to let go of and what you are to step into? I believe the Lord is calling us to be intentional about pressing into times of rest like the Sabbath. Only from a place of rest will we be able to see victory! What can you begin to do even this week to cultivate more opportunity for intentional worship and intimate time with God?

Scriptures for Meditation:

"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest...take my yoke upon you...my yoke is easy and light.." Matthew 11:28

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest...” Hebrews 4:9-11

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

Monday, February 20, 2017

5 Levels of Faith

Monday, February 20, 2017 @ 8:27 AM

As we wrap up this series on faith, I want to share with you the various levels of faith that are demonstrated throughout Scripture. Jesus loves every ounce of faith we have, and he responds to all levels of faith…even the smallest, most meager display of faith.

Tenacious faith: The woman with the issue of blood battled the crowd and dared to touch the edge of Jesus’ garment – Jesus’ prayer cloth. The tassels on his prayer cloth represented pomegranates, which are symbolic of the promises of God. She was unclean and would not have been allowed to touch a rabbi under the Law. But she believed that as soon she touched the hem of His garment, she would be made clean. She was persistent and tenacious in battling through the opposition of the crowds as she grabbed hold of the promises of God.

Persistent faith: Jesus told the parable of a persistent widow who persistently asked an unjust judge for a just ruling. Because of her constant pestering, the unjust judge finally ruled in her favor, just to be rid of her. The Lord said, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Plan A: Believe God.

Friday, February 17, 2017 @ 7:49 AM

In my last blog, we took a brief look at supernatural faith and how faith can become a struggle if hope is lost.

So, I want you to do something for me. Just try this out and see if it works. The next time you face loss of hope, disappointment, or a testing of your faith, go straight to Plan A: Believe God.

Meditate on the Truth

First, search the scriptures and find out what God says about your situation and meditate on the truth of His word. The word meditate may sound foreign to you, but believe me, you know how to do it. In scripture, the word meditate is haga, meaning to moan, growl, mutter, muse, or imagine. This same word is used in Isaiah 31:4 as a picture of a lion roaring and growling over its prey. The lion is tenacious and stubborn. He will not let go of his prey though many enemies come against him. Have you ever worried about anything for a period of time? Have you chewed on that worry like a bone? Have you tenaciously held onto it until you felt the worry lift? That is meditating, but it’s meditating on the wrong thing. When you worry, you may even be meditating on the plans of the enemy! Jesus commands us not to worry. (Matthew 6:25) Instead, scriptures encourage us to meditate (chew on, mutter, imagine, or muse on) the promises of God.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Supernatural Faith For A Supernatural Year

Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 9:07 AM

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Every time a new year comes around, I get excited. I know God has good plans for me and my family…plans to prosper us and not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This year, as I was listening to what the Lord has in store for me, I heard, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1) This was His encouragement and assignment or theme for the year.

When I know I am hearing from the Father’s heart, a supernatural faith rises up in me. I can sense His joy and peace over me, and I know those good things are coming!

Have you ever experienced this type of supernatural faith? Or is having faith sometimes a struggle for you? What if you possessed the gift of faith from God? Not a faith where you simply believe in God, but a faith where you believe what God says is actually TRUE for you!