Category Archives: Counseling for the Soul

Christian Counseling Solutions for your heart and life…

Where Do You Find Happiness?

Where Do You Find Happiness?

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 9:2

One of my favorite childhood songs from children’s church is called, “Happiness is the Lord.”  Lindsay Terry tells the following story as to how this wonderful song came about.

“Ira F. Stanphill was born in Belview, New Mexico, in 1914. He has written more than 550 songs, the most popular of which are “Mansion over the Hilltop,” “Room at the Cross,” and, of course, “Happiness Is the Lord.”

On any number of occasions the Lord has given a song to a songwriter when he or she least expected it. Such was the case of Ira Stanphill one afternoon in 1974 after he left the church office where he was pastor in Fort Worth, Texas.

The car radio was on, and as he rode along he listened to some commercial programs. Some were sponsored by establishments that advertised their “happy hour” and their alcoholic beverages. He also heard cigarettes being advertised in terms of how they bring happiness.

The word happiness was used several times in the ads. Ira related to me that he thought at the time that “happiness does not come with these things, but with knowing Christ.” He continued, “As this thought really took over my mind I began to sing. I sang a new song, composing words and melody as I drove along. I sang it almost as it is published today.””

The words are accompanied by a cheerful tune.  In it this song says,

Verse 1
Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord

Verse 2
Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord

(Bridge)
Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start
I’ve found the secret
It’s Jesus in my heart

Verse 3
Happiness is to be forgiven
Living a life that’s worth the livin’
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord

(Ending)
Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord

No matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, my friend, the Lord is the Who, What, and the Where that you can find real happiness.  In poor health?  Have an overwhelming situation? Are you having a tough time coping with a loss, or a major disappointment?  In the midst of your situation, it is possible to find, peace, contentment, happiness, and gladness.  Like the Psalmist declares in Psalm 126:3, when we count our blessings we can say, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

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I am Weak, But God is Strong

I Am Weak, But God is Strong

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Corinthians 12:10

Blood was everywhere. More than I had ever seen. Ever. We changed the bed sheets dozens of times in just a few hours in the Emergency Room.  After calling for me to help her while at the house, we immediately drove to the hospital on a Saturday.  Natalie received good care and the prayers of many people were answered and the bleeding stopped sometime one Monday after several examinations, and medical procedures. Thankfully, Natalie is now back home, though she is not yet “back to normal.”  Even with the blood counts looking good, her stamina, energy, and endurance are nil at this point.  Walking to the kitchen in our beautiful but modest home takes a lot of effort. A lot.  She has left the house only 2 times in the last 3 weeks, and that was with my assistance (to walk from and to car) to see the doctor.  Tears? Yes. Crying? Yes. Pain? Yes. Sorrow? Disappointment? Yes. Unimaginable? Yes. Life-changing? Yes. Praying? Yes.

I was certainly blessed to not leave her bedside for about 5 days.  It is an honor to care for your spouse, even when they cannot care for themselves.  Our church family has been so kind with food, care, and understanding when I could not be in other places.  Thank you! We have a caring church.

After several years of pain, headaches, tiredness and more, and after many different types of doctors and medicine, we discovered earlier this year that she has a plethora of medical issues that have accumulated over time.  We are treating, not only the symptoms, but also the source of the constant pain and tiredness.  And then suddenly the ER episode mentioned above.

I am sharing all this (not for pity or an emotional response but) for a present-day description of the verse Paul wrote: “When I am weak, then am I strong.”  It is in our weakness that we see the incredible power and might of God.  It is in those moments of physical and emotional desperation that we see God in more close and intimate ways.  It is when we cannot move, walk, talk, or when we are in constant pain that we can ether get bitter at God, or get better associated with God.  “Don’t take your abilities for granted,” Natalie put on Facebook one day – “they could be gone in a moment.”

If us humans never had problems, why would we need the Lord?  If you and I  could handle life on our own, what good is it that we say we have faith? In trials and difficulties, we can be like Job.  He kept looking to the promises of God.  He knew “My redeemer liveth.” We could be like Paul, who continued to serve the Lord in spite of his physical limitations.   Paul was not happy for the pain and suffering, but for the lessons learned and the close proximity of the Lord in those moments of physical need.

With every ability or inability – we can find ways to serve God. For our friends experiencing inability to move, stand, walk, put your own cloths on, wash yourself, or even feed yourself – be encouraged, you can still pray.  You can still read the Bible, have it read to you, or recite scriptures you have memorized.  God still has a plan for your life and a perfect will for the rest of your family.

When you are at your weakest – you can see God at His strongest! In your weakness you can become stronger – in the Lord.  I am not strong in myself anymore. I am strong in God. He is my strength.

Are you in a similar situation? Hang in there.  Keep looking to Jesus.  Find comfort in the Word.  In the more intense moments at the ER and later the hospital room, the Holy Spirit brought to Natalie’s mind Scriptures.  In particular, she was quoting Psalm 18.  Look it up sometime.  There are many other things we learned from the Lord at the hospital and at home and are continuing to learn day by day.  Natalie is still not able to get out of the house, attend church, or do even 2/10th of all the things was doing before.  What if her energy remains low?  What if her weakness remains amplified like this?  We accept God’s will if this is the “new normal.”   God will give us the grace to accept this condition and even thrive in the midst of this.  The verse right before “When I am weak” is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Let the “power of Christ” rest upon you – in your weakness.  We appreciate your prayers.

 

 

 

 

No Safe Alcohol

No Safe Alcohol

An August 24 report concluded after extensive study “there’s no safe level of alcohol consumption.”  Millions of cases from 200 countries indicated that 1 in 10 deaths are actually -alcohol related.  “Any protective health effects of alcohol were offset by the drink’s risks:” including cancer, car wrecks and more.  “The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising.” The lead scientist said.  Look up the Chris Carbone report carried by Fox News for more information.

This scientific report concluded something the Bible has already been telling us for thousands of years – avoid alcohol.

Some Christians, when misreading or not understanding the textual and historical context of various Bible passages will stretch the Word to allow (in their mind) for consuming alcohol.

For example: 1 Timothy 5:23 where Paul tells Timothy: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Paul would not suggest to Timothy to stop drinking poisonous and putrid water to go find some fermented and rotting juice that has become alcohol.  That is like saying: “stop drinking that poison, try this poison instead.”  This is stretching the passage to fit a permissive lifestyle.

  • Fresh grape juice is what Timothy drank. The health benefits of grape juice is well documented.
  • Fresh grape juice is what Jesus made out of water.  The wedding celebrants in Cana commented on the fresh drink tasting better than the old or fermented drink.
  • Fresh grape juice will not get a person drunk or cause them to violate all the prohibitions of the Bible against alcohol.
  • Reading in context a person can discern if “wine” in the Bible is fresh or fermented.

The very first mention of wine is in Genesis 9 when Noah becomes drunk. Other sins stem from his drunkenness. Not a good first mention.

The word “Wine” is the Greek word “oinos” that has a Hebrew origin.  It means wine that is either “literally or figuratively, wine.”  I have always understood from Bible classes and training that “wine” means “fruit of the vine” or “juice of the vine.”

There is a big difference in the “New Wine” and the “Old Wine” in the Bible. The difference is Fresh verses Fermented.

Please prayerfully read and consider the following passages:

  • Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
  • Proverbs 23:31-33 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
  • Proverbs 31:4-5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Be encouraged to “live like a king – don’t drink alcohol!”

For those hoping there is more about this in the Bible – there is.  We are told the only 2 good uses of alcohol in Proverbs 31:6-7.  And here you will note, it is not for pleasure, fun, celebrations, social events, or to have a “good time.”

Proverbs 31:6-7 teaches, Give strong drink (Alcoholic wine) unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

  1. Men on Death Row. These men were heavy of heart for their crimes and impending judgment.  Right before public execution, many were given alcohol. Commentator Adam Clark noted: “Inebriating drinks were mercifully given to condemned criminals, to render them less sensible of the torture they endured in dying.” When Jesus was a dying on the cross, he refused the alcoholic drink offered Him.  We would do well to follow His example.  (Mark 15:23)
  2. Medicine for physical pain near death. Alcohol is a type of drug.  That is why is considered a “controlled substance.”  Alcohol can be used as medicine.  Does Nyquil still have alcohol in it?  We still anesthetize for pain before surgeries in similar ways today. Alcohol should only be available as a prescriptive drug to alleviate the pain of a dying person. Even if the wine Paul recommends to Timothy was alcoholic (I do not believe it was) it was consumed only as medicine.

WebMD.com writes in “The Buzz about Grape Juice” the following: “With grape juice, you can drink enough to get the benefit without worrying about becoming intoxicated.” What’s more, alcoholic drinks don’t seem to improve the function of cells in blood vessel linings the way grape juice does. And alcohol generates free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules that can actually cause damage to blood vessel tissues — dampening any of the benefits that red wine’s antioxidants may offer.”

One final thought: Not only would I not drink alcohol I would not serve it or sell it to other people.  I believe it is actually a sin to serve alcohol to another person.  If my job at the department store, gas station, or restaurant required me to serve or sell alcohol, I would look for a different job. Here’s why: Habakkuk 2:15, where a warning is given: Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

Alcohol has historically been used to take advantage of other people.  Ask many of the women of the “me too movement” if drugs or alcohol was part of the equation.  Even the first mention of wine with Noah included taking advantage and shameful nakedness. Drinking decreases mental ability, creates false narratives, encourages foolish and more sinful behavior, and clouds a person’s judgment. Don’t drink it! And don’t give it to others.

Be encouraged to live like a king – avoid alcohol.  Understand there is “no safe amount” of alcohol. It is not good for you – for many Biblical reasons!  Happiness is not found in a can or a bottle!  Instead of being filled with alcohol – be filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus (Ephesians 5:18).  Let Him provide the peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment you are searching for.

 

 

 

 

A Demonic Inspiration?

A Demonic Inspiration?

One 12 year old Michigan girl set herself on fire attempting the “Fire Challenge” she saw on Youtube.  She burned over half her body and will need 3 more surgeries.  She poured rubbing alcohol on herself and lit a match.  This “challenge” phenomenon on social media is a dangerous trend that appeals to many young people and teens.

Other challenges include the “Hot Water Challenge” with kids being burned with boiling water.  Participants either pour the boiling water on self, another person, or allow it to be poured on them.  An attempt to see what level of pain tolerance one has?  Perhaps. Dangerous and foolish no matter the reason why.

Kids are easily influenced for foolish things.  Be careful of Who and What you allow to influence your kids.  Avoid giving young person unmonitored access to the internet on ta phone or computer.  It could turn our dangerous for them and for you.  Have guidelines, expectations, and accountability in place.  Like 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches, Be not deceived: evil communications (Companions) corrupt good manners.  If you want your child to turn out right, make sure you instill discernment for who influences your child as a friend, or companion. Even the internet companions hold tremendous influence.

Speaking of the Christian’s physical body, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

As Christians, our bodies and our lives belong to Jesus.  His desire is that we care for our bodies.  We are the temple of the living God and as such, our bodies are to be cared for and maintained to the glory of God.

What is the deal with setting self on fire?  Here are several thoughts that may put this ridiculous activity in perspective.

  • Hell is full of fire.
  • Fire is indicative of judgment.
  • Satan wants people to go to Hell.
  • A demon possessed boy in the New Testament passage of Matthew 17:14-19 would constantly jump into a fire. Jesus rescues this boy.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Could it be that “self-harm” is suggested by a demon?  Is it possible that the “fire challenges” are demon inspired?

While Jesus is interested in life – Satan and his demons are interested in death and dying.  When kids are tempted to play “Russian Roulette,” or get as close to drowning as possible, or have a self-induced near-death experience – are these forms of Satanic oppression or even possession?  I believe it is very possible.

God says, take care of your body and live.  Satan says, destroy your body and die.

Parents, if you find your teen participating in self-harm or similar dangerous activity, please take them to Jesus right away.  Jesus is the answer your teen is looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football, Respect, and Jesus

Football, Respect, and Jesus

Recently NFL Legend, Jim Brown declared that he would always stand for the National Anthem.  He said that kneeling is disrespectful to the flag and that he always wanted to respect the flag: “I am not going to denigrate my flag…” he went on to say to a reporter while visiting the Football Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

With football season nearly here, this will be a topic of discussion from all the radio, tv, and media “talking heads” to regular news, the people at your workplace, and the family around your dinner table.

Respect is an emphasized theme in the Bible.  Many passages speak of respecting elders, leaders, and those in authority.  Here are 2 for example:

  • 1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
  • Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Apparently, the Lord desires for us to show respect for “All men.”  This would include those with whom we do not agree with personally or politically.  When Paul wrote this passage and when Peter penned these words, one of the most tyrannical, ungodly, and incredibly cruel leaders ever- was the Roman Emperor.  Just look him up in a history book sometime.  His name was Nero.  If Paul and Peter could show respect to the leaders in their day, we can certainly show respect to our leaders today.  Paul even set a goal to personally give the Gospel to the Emperor.

What about the social injustice?  Some injustice is real.  Some injustice is fabricated.  Some injustice is embellished. And, some things happen because people make foolish personal decisions.  If a person is acting suspiciously, fidgeting, pacing back and forth, or being loud and aggressive, people take note, and suspect something is wrong or about to go wrong.  Where does “injustice” fit into this “respect thing.”

While I am for doing what is right for myself, my family, and for our community – it should be done with a realistic mindset.  Human government, civil disobedience, political movements, and a more informed public will not achieve the goals of the social engineers or even the people who are sincerely trying to make the world a better place.  Why not?  Because we cannot do what only Jesus can do.  Let me explain.

With worthy goals and good intentions, some people are organizing, coordinating on social media, and attempting to influence others to make things “better” or at least their version of what “better” is.  But human ability, intellect, and willpower can only do so much.  The human heart is misguided according to God in Jeremiah 17:9 when He warned us about following the human heart: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Only Jesus can change a heart.  He is the only one who can create lasting and motivationally pure change.  Even when we do the right thing, many times it is not with the right motive.  We simply cannot do the work of God in righting all the wrongs in this world.

During the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule this earth and He will bring about what many people are trying to achieve today: world peace and human harmony.  Observe Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

This verse is speaking of the day when King Jesus is directing the world from His Millennial (1000 year) Reign in Jerusalem.  No one would dispute or deny that the peace described in Isaiah 11:6 sounds wonderful.  People want this peace.

Speaking about the Christians who will rule with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus says in Revelation 2:27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.  Jesus will not tolerate any sin.  No social injustice will be allowed. Jesus will ensure that no-one is taken advantage of.  He will insure peace.  He will provide civil, political, and social equality and stability the likes of this world has never seen.  Leaders the world over in governments, think tanks, and college campuses can only dream of the incredible authority by which Jesus will rule.

But we cannot.  We are not capable of achieving something that only God can do.  So, while we wait for the Millennium, it is a good idea to have realistic goals and a right perspective of pointing people to Jesus.  After all – He is their only hope.

Before the Millennium, there are several things that must happen prophetically.  They are:

  • The Rapture. When Christians are taken to Heaven and given new, sinless bodies. Christians are serving the Lord while waiting for the “trumpet to sound!”
  • The Tribulation. When the Lord judges a Jesus rejecting earth. In this 7-year timespan the world will embrace and empower the Antichrist.  He will set up a singular global empire consolidating all economies, militaries, governments, and religions (except Biblical Christianity because all the Christians were raptured).
  • The Battle of Armageddon. Jesus returns to earth and defeats the Antichrist and all the enemies of God.
  • The Touchdown. Jesus lands (bodily) on the Mount of Olives.  The earth quakes and Jesus proceed to walk to Jerusalem and claim the eternal throne of King David.
  • The Millennial Kingdom. Jesus sets up His 1000-year reign.

What many people claim they are working and hoping for will only come about – when Jesus is King. What should we do while we wait for this?  Honor those in authority.  Be thankful for the military.  Understand the value of a nation respecting it’s flag and the lives sacrificed for what that flag stands for – freedom.

And the greatest thing you could do – introduce someone to Jesus.  Give the Gospel.  Help others know how to have their sins forgiven and a home in Heaven.

 

 

 

 

Be Kind, Kind Of…

Be Kind

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

“A church usher was instructing a young successor in the details of his office. “And remember, my boy,” he concluded, “that we have nothing but good kind Christians in this church until you try to seat someone else in their chair.” (6000)

I have always enjoyed that little story.  It is true that sometimes when we change the routine and seemingly insignificant expectations of some people they can become very angry!  Some of us are “kind” just part of the time.  We could be “kind of kind” but that is not really being kind!

The Bible commands and admonishes us to “be kind one to another.” This is written to the church members of a church in a city called Ephesus.  These were people who lived busy lives in an ancient world trading capitol.  There were false gods in the city and the famous Temple of Diana where all sorts of evil originated and was conveyed into their society.  It was to these Christian people that God said – “Be ye kind.

Ye Kind” is taken from the Greek word: “chrestos” which means to be “employed.”  You may never have guessed that definition and origin of the word “kind!”  It really helps us understand the significance as to how to go about being kind.

Like you are employed at your job or occupation, the Lord wants us to be employed in the area of kindness.  Be kind to the family members in your home.  Be kind to the church members at your local church.  Be kind to other Christians in the body of Christ.  Be kind o your neighbor who does not yet know Jesus.  Be kind.

In other words: Leave the other person better off than when you first interacted with them…

Here are 3 considerations.

  1. I need to think right about people. If I am thinking about how I can take advantage of other people, I cannot be kind to them.  That is what Ephesians 5:31 is speaking about: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
  2. I need to have compassion for other people. Tenderhearted in verse 32 is speaking of compassion.  We live in a day when many people have more compassion on a baby elephant than they do for a homeless man.  Many are more compassionate about baby dolphins than they are about human babies that are being murdered in abortion.  Have some godly concern for others. Know their condition.  Try to help meet a need.
  3. I must have forgiveness in my heart for others. For the sake of Jesus – God forgave your sin.  For the sake of Jesus – you can forgive the sin and wrong that others have projected against you.  Forgiving is not the same as forgetting, we will never forget.  But we can be like God Who in Hebrews 13:13, “remembers no more” our sin and wrong.  While God never forgets, He chooses not to think about our sin.  When we forgive others, we are being like God! And God wants us to be more like Him!

One final thought.  I am not a “kind person” if I am thinking of how to hurt or take advantage of others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not actively showing compassion to others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not demonstrating true forgiveness to other people.

Ask God to help you – you can be a kind person today!  Be employed at being kind to others.  It is a “job” that God has called each of us to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Will to Live

The Will to Live

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?  Proverbs 18:14

God has given to man an incredible powerful (yet not all-powerful) attribute – man’s will. The spirit of a man can help him cope, deal with, and go through incredible and extraordinarily challenging difficulties. When a man “loses spirit” that is when he is most susceptible to giving up, giving in, or “Throwing in the towel.”

I have seen this “will power” to live when visiting the hospital rooms of those with terminal illness.  Sometimes their resolve is the only reason (other than the will of God) that they are alive.  Medically speaking, humanly speaking, they should not be alive, but they are by the grace of God.  They are looking forward to another day.  They have hope for a better tomorrow.

I have also seen the shift in countenance when a person has lost hope, when they are no longer fighting the sickness, when the body has been diminished to the point of their giving up.  Even the possibility of pain and suffering can change our minds.

Yes, the spirit of man can sustain through sickness.   Generally speaking – as long as there is life and breath – a person has hope of getting better.  This is a wonderful perspective that God has given to mankind.  If you are facing extreme health conditions, if you are discouraged emotionally, have hope.  God cares for you.  There are other people who love you.  Set up a time to meet with a Christian counselor if you are in a state of despair.  Get help in nurturing the God given “spirit of a man.”

In recent days, we have seen an uptick in celebrities and famous people take their own life in suicide.  In spite of the fame and financial status, something was missing in their lives.  They gave up.  They lost hope.  Causes are certainly different and individualistic to each case, but overall – they missed the purpose for living. Perhaps they were “wounded in spirit.”  If you are depressed or deeply discouraged – talk to a Christian Counselor today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Make the call today.

Please know that everyone will face discouragement from time to time.  It is a natural part of the human experience.  There will be low moments of extreme disappointment.  The Lord can help you through those times.  There will also be times of great joy!

There is natural “Will to live.”  Be sure to allow the Lord to nurture that will!  He is the One who gives meaning and purpose to life.