Monday, June 19, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Communication is Key to All Healthy Relationships

Assuming someone understands how you feel, is not the same as communicating how you feel. Most of the time what we assume about someone else is perceived through our own lenses, thus making our assumptions faulty.

All relationships that you are involved with whether it is your spouse, children, siblings, or friends must have open and honest communication in order for those relationships to thrive and grow.

A relationship that does not have open, sincere and honest communication will not survive long or will become unhealthy in some manner.

If you are married, it is especially important to have weekly times of heartfelt communication where both carve out time at least once a week for no less than 20 minutes of meaningful conversation. Meaningful conversation with your spouse means talking about what is on your heart. During this open time of dialogue the couple should put away all distractions such as phones, IPad, and turn the T.V. off. Undivided attention is imperative during any time of directed communication. Facing each other or at a slight angle towards each other and give direct eye contact. If you are looking all around the room you will give the impression you are disinterested in what the person is saying. Watch your body language as well. Body language represents a large portion of how we communicate with each other. Sit in a relaxed manner with arms not crossed, and especially watch your facial expressions. If you are frowning or showing your anger in your face the other person will not feel free to open up in honesty. If you get defensive or angry at what the person is telling you, then it is not honest and open communication. You must listen first and hear the person’s heart before responding. If you don’t schedule regular times of communicating with your spouse, it most likely will not happen. Why? Life gets busy.

Effective communication involves allowing each other to speak freely and openly to work towards unity and problem solving. Most problems that you have with someone can be resolved with honest and open communication. Applying grace and forgiveness will allow for a quicker resolution to any problems you may have with someone.

In any relationship you are in if you don’t allow for regular, honest and open communication those relationships will be surface level only. Sometimes having surface only relationships can serve a purpose but they should not be in marriages, with your children, or with family (unless they are unhealthy).

Women especially thrive when they can communicate with the significant others in their lives. Women by nature are communicators and if they are not allowed to express their hearts they will invariably begin to shut down. Women connect mainly by communicating. Women need to be heard and validated regularly.

Communication is key to all healthy and successful relationships.

If you have trouble in one of your relationships, it is best to go and talk to that person one on one as soon as possible not allowing for the enemy to build walls and erect lies. If someone does not allow you to talk to them about a situation that is bothering you, you can’t make them talk. Try writing them a letter, and if that still does not work it would be best to let that person go until they are willing to face together the difficulty in your relationship. You cannot have a true relationship with someone by covering up the problems. Problems should be exposed so that no bitter root of resentment grows within you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Does God Really Love Me?

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner
Does God Really Love Me?

If you do not understand God’s love for you, it will be difficult to grow in relationship with Him and others. Oftentimes, the way we view our parents is how we view God. If we were abandoned by our parents, abused by them, or rejected by them; this will cause us to believe God is the same way. We can attend church for years and never know the Father’s love.

Perhaps you were raised in a home that taught legalistic religion, basically this means doing good works and following rules verses having a personal relationship with Christ. We especially view God the way our earthly fathers were with us. If we were ruled with an “iron-fist” or shown no grace and mercy by our fathers, we can easily believe God will do the same with us.

God’s love is not the same as human love.

You may feel not good enough to receive God’s love. In your mind, you have sinned too much or done too much for God to embrace you. Maybe you struggle with believing that God cares about what happens to you, and you are being punished somehow for your past mistakes.

Believing that God loves you is not necessarily a feeling but a choice. A choice to believe what God says about you, not what others have said or done to you. Forgive your parents or caretakers if they did not represent God to you in a loving way, it could be that they were not shown how too. God loves you right where you are at, and He is ever working on you. God is not waiting for you to change until you can accept His love or even receive Salvation.

Believe what the Word of God says about His love:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved…Ephesians 2:4-5

But you, O Lord, are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Don’t let the enemy lie to you by telling you that because bad things have happened to you, or that God has not answered your prayers that He does not love you. You may wonder, “where was God when I was being abused”, or “ how can He love me if all these horrific things occurred?” I have wrestled with these questions before, but I realize now that we live in a fallen world and sometimes tragedy happens.

Does God care about the suffering that you have gone through? Yes! This can be hard to digest if you have been severely wounded in life. The people who were supposed to love and protect you, were the ones who hurt you the most. God never wanted this type of pain to happen to you. Take some time to reflect on God’s love is not like human love. God never gives up on us, He gave His life for us so we could live in eternity, and has great mercy towards us. God’s love is unconditional and He will never abandon nor forsake us.

God wants you to know today that He sees you and that HE LOVES YOU!

What experiences have kept you from receiving God’s love?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Have you lost your hope?

One definition of hope is a feeling that something good will happen or be true.

Christian hope is different than the world’s hope. Christian hope rests on having confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it to come to pass. Perhaps what God has promised you years ago has caused you to give up that promise will ever come to pass. Whatever God speaks to you as a promise and you can confirm the promise in the Word of God, than it shall surely come to pass. Having hope comes with faith. When it seems like what God has promised you is not coming to pass, having faith that God is faithful and will fulfill His promises to you will increase your hope.

A lack of hope leads to depression. An antidote for depression is hope, but not hope in just anything, the hope found in Jesus Christ.

Hope is an essential and fundamental element in the Christian life. Jesus is the reason for our hope, not placing our hope in what we can get from life or others. While hoping for things is not wrong, it can misplaced if we put all hope in the things we want and not in Jesus.

For in hope we have been saved, but the hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:24-25

Hope is synonymous with salvation and blessings that are promised in scripture. Christian Hope is the confident expectation and surety that what God has promised in the Word is true, has occurred, or will happen in the future. If we put our hope in anything other than the Lord we will be disappointed.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5
The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes. Proverbs 10:28

Hope is not a feeling or an emotion. Christian hope is different from the world, it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This means having a hope that is not moved by circumstances or what is seen.

Sometimes, we place our hope in everything but Jesus. We may have desires and wants that are unfulfilled, and we lose our hope. If you have experienced one heartache or trial after another, it may be difficult to have hope. We have all heard the scripture,” hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12. When dreams do not come to pass, depression can easily slip in. God’s time table is not ours, and our expectations of how we think He should fulfill our desires can make us have “heart sickness.” We can actually make things worse by holding on tightly to how we perceive things in our lives SHOULD turn out.

What if God has a better plan for our lives but we are not even willing to entertain anything but what we want?

There was a time in my life I felt my heart was truly sick from waiting on my prayers to be answered. Maybe you have been praying for a prodigal child, a spouse, salvation for your family, or healing, and you have lost hope. What if God has a plan that He is working on that you are not able to see, and perhaps it may look a little different than your expectations? I believe God’s plans are better than our plans.

We must learn to wait patiently on the Lord, and trust His ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25

Keep hope alive by believing in God’s promises not your circumstances.

The hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2, 3:7).
Hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8, Romans 8:24-25).
Hope laid up in heaven (Colossians 1:5).
Hope for the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6).
The hope of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the promises in the Bible (Colossians 1:23).
The hope of His calling (Ephesians 1:18, 4:4).
Jesus our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1).
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have hope for the resurrection (1 Peter 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20).

Friday, June 9, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Where Has Your Focus Been Lately?

When we are taking pictures and are adjusting the camera lense, at first what is seen in the camera lense may be blurry until we can adjust the lense to come into focus. Just like the camera lense, we too can lose our focus and everything around us becomes blurry.

A definition of focus is the center of interest or activity. What has been your focus lately? Has it been Jesus or everything else? The plan of the enemy is to keep us distracted so we lose our focus on Christ.

Ways we lose our focus:

1.      Take our eyes off Jesus and onto our problems and circumstances.
2.      Agreeing with what the enemy shows or tells us.
3.      Getting overwhelmed by someone else’s problems or issues.
4.      Trying to follow the crowd and what everyone else is doing.
5.      Carrying burdens that are way too heavy for us to carry.
6.      Comparing ourselves to others.
7.      Pleasing man instead of God.
8.      Being too busy-with work, with church, or other activities.

A little acronym to help you remember to FOCUS:

Filter out all distractions.
Obtain victory through taking every thought captive.
Connect to God daily.
Utilize your time better; instead of worrying-pray.
Surrender all your fears, anxieties, and worries to Jesus.

When we lose our focus, we lose our perspective.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…Hebrews 12:2

The Christian life involves hard work; it requires us to give up whatever endangers our relationship with God. To live effectively as Christians, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We will stumble if we look away from Him and stare at our circumstances.

It takes discipline to focus on Jesus and not the turmoil around us. Focusing on our troubles will only divert you away from Jesus.

As Jesus becomes the center of our lives, worry, fear and depression will dissipate and will be replaced with joy, peace, and confidence.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Progress Not Perfection

A definition of progress is to move forward or onward. A definition of perfection is a condition, state or quality being free from all flaws or defects.

Making progress in your life does not equal perfection! Making progress means moving forward step by step, day by day, and never giving up.

As you move forward you will experience bumps and a few set-backs, this is to be expected. When the bumps come, learn from them and keep moving onward. Don’t get stuck by dwelling on what you did wrong-you will never be perfect and will make from time to time mistakes. Learn quickly from your mistakes, repent if you need to, and then get back up.

List some short and long-term goals you would like to achieve, and then break them into categories for professional, physical, relational, spiritual, personal, and financial. Everyday move towards your goals. If you have a stumbling block to your goals one day, don’t beat yourself up and want to quit; try again. Remember you want progress not perfection.

What do you want your life to look like? Write out what you want to achieve (your goals), and ask for the Holy Spirit to help you. You won’t be able to change on your own, you can try but true change comes when the Holy Spirit leads and transforms you to the image and likeness of Christ. Miracles of transformation can happen instantly, but usually the Holy Spirit transforms you one step at a time or one area in your life at a time. I wanted God to change me instantly, but He has desired to transform me a little at a time. I wanted perfection by being changed instantly and God wanted Christ-like transformation. I believe when you have to go through the process of transformation, you can be better equipped for ministry.

The key to remember is to not get stuck on expecting yourself to be perfect with every lesson that God may bring to you, or even with mistakes that you will make along the journey.

 Getting unstuck and making progress means letting go of what others think of you. Letting go of other’s opinions about you will move you forward. People know your name but rarely do they know your story. Making progress means letting go of the past, including past failures. You can never move forward while holding onto your past.

Keep moving forward. Don’t look back at your past. Everyday get up and move towards a better you, and if you mess-up, shake it off and continue to make progress.

Moving on doesn’t mean you forget about things. It just means you have accepted what happened and continue living.

Stop focusing on what happened and start focusing on what’s going to move you forward.

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner:
In God’s Presence There is Peace, Safety, Guidance, Joy, and Love.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, lacking in peace and joy, frustrated or even worried? Are you involved in various church activities, functions and attendance but don’t feel refreshed? Maybe it’s time to step away from the busyness of life and step into His presence. People may not understand, and they may try and sway you to do things. There is refreshment and restoration in His presence. Sometimes we need to say “No” to things and people, even if they are good things. Life will keep you busy.

You should get into a quiet place and get rid of all distractions like electronic devices.

If we stay so busy we can have trouble hearing from God and what He wants for us. We can become easily distracted and lose focus. Our strength comes from the Lord. If we feel weak and worn-out, we may need to step away and go to the throne.

When you come into His presence He will lighten your load, and will speak truth about your situations. There is no other place to “fill up” like this. We try and bring comfort to ourselves with food, TV, staying busy with activities, electronics, and for some it can be sex, alcohol, and drugs. But there is no replacement for God’s Holy presence.

What can you do in His presence?
You can sing and worship with praise music.
You can read the Bible and selected scriptures to meditate on.
Be sill and listen for His voice.
Cry, rejoice, and talk to God as if He is your best friend.
Journal what God speaks or impresses to you.

There is no formula to being in His presence. You can do a mixture of things or just one thing, and each time you spend with God can be different. Don’t be set on spending time with God in a certain way. Let the Holy Spirit guide you to what He wants you to do.

Anyone need refreshment, restoration, and guidance? If yes, plug into the source, the presence of the Holy Spirit. After being in His presence you will feel refreshed and renewed and in His presence there is no fear, worry, anxiety, stress, and frustration. Step away, carve out time, and say, “No” to things/activities that would pull you away from this time. Everyone needs this, not just pastors and leaders but every Christian who is fighting in this spiritual battle needs to be in His presence. Every Christian also needs this for God to direct and guide their steps, plans, and pour out His anointing on what He has called you to do. In His presence you can receive an outpouring of grace, mercy, joy and peace, and every believer needs this.

You will show me the path of life. In your PRESENCE is fullness of joy;
As your right hand are pleasures fovermore.
Psalm 16:11

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Be Still to Hear God’s Voice

You will have difficulty hearing God’s voice if you are busy with one activity after another, or you are addicted to your electronic devices. It is important to get quiet before the Lord, and tune-out all distractions. This means turning off your cell phone or putting it away, turning off the TV an iPad and other electronics.

There are many things that compete for our time and attention, and numerous distractions pop-up unexpectedly. Learning to carve out regular time alone with God to hear His still, small voice is important in maintaining your peace, gaining wisdom and direction from the Lord for your daily life. For most people, having time with God first thing in the morning will help you throughout your day. If you have been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or fearful, ask yourself, “Have I pulled away to be alone with The Father?” Things will come up in your life to compete for your time and attention even that will seem like a “good thing.” However, not everything that is asked of us or that comes our way is a good thing for us that is why we have to have time with the Lord so we can hear His direction.

A lot of people end-up living frazzled lives because they just do whatever comes in their path.

There will never be anything more important than daily time being still before the Lord.

I know this is a foreign concept in our western culture to be still, but too many people are not taking this valuable time and are enduring high levels of stress. We must learn to step away daily to connect with the Father. He has guidance and direction that He wants to bestow upon us, but we must receive that impartation daily, and not try and “store it up.” Our daily “manna” is given to us daily, not weekly or monthly. We must not put anything else before our relationship with God, and a relationship can only happen when you spend time together. God must first be on our schedules of priorities.

When we are still before God He will speak to us through His Word, through nature, through our spirit, through writing and journaling, and through worship. He can also speak to us through a combination of these things. Check your schedule and see what you can cut back, such as Face book, Pinterest, TV, iPad, and carve out time for God. Put God first in your life. It is okay to say, “No” to the demands of others, to shut your cell phone off temporary, not answer your emails and face book.

It is okay not to follow the crowd, and instead follow Jesus and sit at His feet.

In God’s presence you will find peace and rest.