Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Professional Counseling

The Relationship Center

Biblical | Clinical | Professional

Christian counseling carries different meanings depending on who you talk to. At one end of the spectrum may be “crazy religious nuts” that deny any value in modern medicine, see all problems as demons to be cast out, and recklessly refuse any sort of accountability. The other end of the spectrum looks indistinguishable from secular, atheistic, Christian antagonistic psycho-babble performed by persons who claim they can “work within any clients framework”.

At The Relationship Center Biblically Christian Counseling means that our counselors have been trained theologically to understand God, peoples problems, and their solution as defined by the Bible. We’re not simply “Christian” in name only. Many so called Christian counselors, well meaning as they may be, have masters or doctoral degrees in psychology but little more than a Sunday school education in the Bible. Our therapists have formally studied the Bible and personally have a dynamic relationship with the Lord Jesus. We practice integrative therapy that understands humanity through the lenses of the Scriptures and use our theological framework to organize our clinical study.

To us Clinically Proven means that we believe there is value in the clinical research conducted by helping professionals. Millions of hours have been spent analyzing people, their behaviors, thoughts, and biology. The culmination of this research is an ever growing body of knowledge that enriches our understanding of God’s awesome creation and informs our practice in the helping fields. Christians need not be afraid of sound scientific research. Good science unveils truth and all true truth is in agreement with our creator God and His word. When researchers draw conclusions from the data of their research it is influenced by their world view. That doesn’t mean the data itself is not valuable or can not be understood in light of the Scriptures. Anytime the findings of psychology do contradict the proclamation of Scripture we always maintain the integrity of God’s word.

Biblical | Clinical | Professional

Our commitment to being clinically sound means that all of our therapists are formally trained in counseling by regionally accredited higher learning institutions at least to the Masters level and most with post-graduate studies. It further means that all of our counseling clinicians are licensed to practice professional counseling in the state of Missouri, requiring a minimum of 3,000 hours of professional experience.

In addition to being Biblical and Clinical in our approach to counseling, we are also Professional. Being professional speaks to the manner in which we conduct our service to the community and in the Kingdom of God. It’s a commitment to the highest standards of ethics and the pursuit of organizational excellence in the way we conduct our practice. It is our goal that every person we have the honor of ministering to would feel valued through our compassionate care, empathetic understanding, and competent treatment. By doing so we are building an organization you can trust, we feel proud to be a part of, and where the name of our Lord Jesus is honored.

As Director of The Relationship Center it is my responsibility to see that we deliver on our promise to be Biblical | Clinical | Professional. If ever we fall short and when you find us delivering as promised, please feel free to contact me directly.

In CHRIST’s service,

Rev. Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC
Director of The Relationship Center

christian counselingLooking for help? Join the 1,200+ families in southwest Missouri who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of The Relationship Center at our Springfield and Branson offices. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling Appointments

Click here to Get Started Today.

Biblical | Clinical | Professional

Depression or Grief: How Do I Know?

“Are My Feelings Normal?”

3899825528_7261373b15_bAs a professional counselor, I hear this question many times per week. People in a variety of situations, heartaches and struggles just want to know “Do others feel similar to me when they go through comparable circumstances?”  And their second question follows closely on the heels of the first, “How can I stop the pain?”

This question has personal and professional importance to me. When my mom died in 1996, I was officially diagnosed for the first time with depression. I was not a counselor at the time, but looking back I was extremely sad and hopeless.  I struggled every day to get myself and my small children ready for the day, was always tired and uninterested in most activities. After months in this zombie-like state, I finally drug myself to counseling and within months was back on track with life. With the loss of my dad this past year I came face-to-face with the fear of the “black dog of depression” enveloping me again and taking over my life. This time I was better equipped with an understanding of grief and specific tools for keeping the depression on the distant horizon.  For a great overview of depression take a moment and watch “I had a black dog, his name was depression” on YouTube.

The following are some differences between grief and depression:

 

Bereavement/Grief includes:

  • Losing something or someone significant to you. (i.e. a loved one, job, home)
  • Experiencing painful emotions felt in waves intertwined with positive feelings and memories of what was lost.
  • Maintaining good self-esteem with the feelings of loss and emptiness directed at what is missed.

Major Depression is different in that:

  • It can be either triggered by an event like a death (or any another traumatic event) or it can be spontaneous and happen without any warning.
  • Moods and thoughts are predominately negative most of the day every day.
  • The experience of low self-worth and a self-critical inward focus rather than the outward focus on missing someone.

The experience of grief varies for different people. It is stressful and can last up to 1 – 2 years but it does not automatically lead to depression. While it may be difficult to discern between mild depression and grief, for many people an exact diagnosis is unnecessary. It has been shown that 40% of all depressive symptoms start to lift within 4 months without any treatment and many of the interventions shown to help relieve grief also work effectively with mild depression.

So to the second question, “How can I stop the pain?”

I would encourage you to ask a different question—if you can.

Instead of asking to be rid of the pain, ask:

How can I live well in the midst of pain?

 

Take Personal Responsibility for Feeling Better

Probably the biggest difference for me between the last time I dealt with a parent’s death and this time is the realization that I am responsible for caring well for me. I can invite others to help but I no longer expect my spouse, kids or friends to make me happy. I am happy when I am with them—well, most of the time :-)—but they are NOT responsible for me feeling better.  My heart, my job!

Be social

The last thing I wanted to do after my dad’s death was to be with other people. Those awkward moments when people don’t know what to say are difficult; however, often just being around others and listening to their conversations helps you know that life will eventually return to “normal”. Some other options: Attend church. Volunteer. Do things for others. Attend a grief class.

Exercise

I believe managing mild depression or grief with exercise is a double win! You get in better shape and you start to refill the happy chemicals in your brain. (Severe depression is different and usually needs an anti-depressant to enhance good therapy.) Walking is great. Finding an online workout has been very helpful personally.  Join a gym if you need the motivation of a trainer and classes. Find something you like so you will be motivated to continue. Three times a week, 30 minutes a time has been shown to be successful in lifting mild depression!

Give yourself time. Don’t rush. Remember the good times

Journaling can provide a container for the grief when it threatens to overwhelm you. Get those sad thoughts out on paper where they can be cared for effectively. My mom’s 85th birthday would have been this past week. I journaled about all the things I loved about her and yes, I teared up. But it helps to keep bringing healing to my soul and joyful memories to my brain—releasing happy chemicals! It’s a win, win!

Think about your thoughts

Talking with a friend, spouse or counselor can help you process the thoughts of grief, sadness and at times regret. Our thoughts determine our feelings which lead to our eventual behavior. For example, if I start to think “The pain of losing my dad will always be unbearable,” it leads to feelings of hopelessness and discouragement which lead to actions of staying in bed or isolating from others. It is extremely valuable to examine our thoughts with someone who can help us identify better thoughts which can lead to different feelings and more helpful actions. Instead, I might choose to think “I miss my dad but I was so blessed to have a great dad,” leading to feelings of gratefulness and writing a card to someone telling them why I am thankful for them today.

Sit with the Ultimate Comforter

Prayer and sitting with Jesus gave me hope when losing my parents seemed dark and hopeless. There is NO substitute for God in the walking of the grief journey. His word states, “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 2:3b-4 (NLT). If you are not a believer or are REALLY mad at God over the death of your loved one, I understand. I was there. Talk to him about your anger and your loss, He cares that you are hurting.

If you have recently lost a loved one, I am so sorry. IT IS DIFFICULT. There is no quick healing or solution. I would be honored to journey beside you as you process this grief. Maybe you have a great friend to encourage you, if so you are blessed! Ask them if they will walk this grief journey with you. I encourage you, don’t walk it alone. God intends for us to heal in community. Praying for you today!

 

depression counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Depression Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Depression or Grief: How Do I Know? appeared first on Rachelle Colegrove .

Grief and Grieving After Losing a Parent: Where Did You Go?

grief and grieving a parent

Where Did You Go?

Learning How to Process through Pain after Losing a Parent

 

There are some situations in life the world prepares us for.  When we are children we are taught to be respectful and polite, so we can someday be functional human beings.  We are taught how to type, how to spell, and how to read; all so someday we can grow up to use those skills and pursue the profession we dream of. The world we live in generally does a great job preparing us for the events of life we’ll experience as we grow older.  Unfortunately, we are never taught how to deal with some painful events that will inevitably happen. One of these events is death; specifically grieving the loss of a parent.  Sometimes the most preparation we get is through movies like Bambi and The Lion King where we watched some of our favorite characters lose their parents.  When death occurs, to some people it is an obituary to flip through in the newspaper. To others, it’s another person who is in Heaven. To those of us who are close to those who have died, it is a deep sorrow not many will know or understand.  Below are some helpful thoughts that offer peace, comfort, and some understanding of grief’s rollercoaster…

The following are the five stages of grief described in the book “On Grief and Grieving” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.  I do believe everyone has their own grief experience, but the following stages are the responses many people have and may provide INSIGHT into what you may be feeling.  The stages are the following:

Grief and Grieving

DENIAL

This does not mean you do not know your parent has died.  It means you come home and you cannot believe your dad is not going to walk in the door any minute or your mom is not going to pick up the phone after your rough day at work.  Often times denial is what our mind runs to because the pain we experience of losing a loved one is too intense to handle.  This helps us to survive the loss.  Some questions one might ask oneself during this stage would be:

  • Is it true?
  • Did it really happen?
  • Are they really gone?
  • How did this happen?
  • Did it have to happen?
  • Could anything have prevented it?

The eternal nature of the loss begins to set in after asking questions like these.   It will begin to hit you  mom or dad is not coming back and you will not get to see them coming through the front door or hear their voice again.  This stage is NATURAL.  You may experience something familiar to this.

ANGER

This stage can manifest itself in different ways.  It could be anger at the doctor for not trying harder to save your mom.  Anger you did not see this coming and could not prepare yourself for the pain.  Anger your dad did not take better care of himself.  Anger you did not get more time with your loved one.  Anger you could not stop it from happening.  You may even be angry with God.  Some questions many of my clients experiencing anger often ask:

  • “Where is God in this?”
  • “Where is his love?”
  • “Why would he let them die this way?”
  • “Is this God’s will?
  • “Why would God decide to take him now?”

These feelings of anger are usually UNCOMFORTABLE and we usually suppress anger because of this.  During this stage of anger it is important you allow yourself to feel it and explore it.  Kubler-Ross & Kessler write, “Anger affirms that you can feel, that you did love, and that you have lost,” .  Anger, although it is uncomfortable, makes you connect to the loss in a way that denial did not provide.  As you deal with the anger and allow yourself to experience it, the more feelings you will find underneath.  It is important during this stage to not judge yourself for being angry.  You most likely will feel guilty for having anger.  You will need to practice being kind and graceful to yourself during this time.

BARGAINING

This is often times when one will become lost in the “if only…” or “what ifs…”  Most people in this stage desperately desire for life to return to the way it was before their parent passed.  “Bargaining can help our mind move from one state of loss to another.  It can be a way station that gives our psyche the time it may need to adjust.  Bargaining may fill the gaps that our strong emotions generally dominate, which often keep suffering at a distance,”.  During this stage of grief we often believe that some type of order can be restored to the chaos even though our heart will eventually arrive at the same reality that our parent is gone.

DEPRESSION

During this stage it is important to understand depression is a part of the PROCESS and is not necessarily tied to a mental illness.  It is appropriate deep pain and sadness would ensue after losing someone you have known your entire life.  Daily activities may seem pointless and mundane.  Most people will want to get you out of your depression and you will at times feel scared of where you are at.  It is important you allow yourself to experience this depression.  It is important that you allow yourself to experience the sadness that comes with the loss of your parent.  This depression will serve its purpose in your GRIEF PROCESS.  This stage is frightening and something you may or may not feel you need help in processing.  It is important to seek out a professional for help if you feel as though your depression persists over a long period of time.

ACCEPTANCE

Acceptance is NOT being happy about what happened or forgetting about it.  It is about accepting your mom or dad has passed and they will never return.  This is where you accept there is a permanency to their death.  Where we learn to live without them being around and adjust to the lack of their presence in our lives.  “Acceptance is a process that we experience, not a final stage with an end point,” .  Acceptance does not happen OVERNIGHT AND MAY BE A NEVER-ENDING PROCESS. It is often hard during this stage to want to enjoy life.  Once you begin functioning without your parent and begin having fun in life again you may feel guilty enjoying life without them.  Working through these feelings will also be essential.  In this stage you will learn to GROW and EVOLVE as time goes on.

woman-1006100_1920

It is important that those who have lost parents ALLOW themselves to go through this passage of grief. Grief is not something that can just be fixed or gotten over.  It takes time to heal.  It does not happen over night nor should it.  Below are some helpful thoughts for those who are in need of guidance during this difficult time:

  • God is with you. He is not even just with you- He is near you.  The Bible states, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18, ESV).  It will be difficult for you to feel as though anyone will understand your pain during this time.  Even though you may not whisper a word to Him, GOD UNDERSTANDS YOUR PAIN and is experiencing it with you.
  • It is OKAY to take time for yourself. During this time it can be tempting to turn to drugs, alcohol, overworking, etc. to drown out the pain.  It is important that that you decide to take care of yourself in a HEALTHY manner.  Learning how to do this can be challenging when turning to drugs, alcohol, or work is easier.  Also, during this time you may have a lot of obligations at work, with school, or with children.  It is important that you take consistent time to care for yourself.  Jesus lost one of His cousins whom He deeply loved.  Jesus was busy taking care of many people who were vying for His attention constantly, but instead of tending to them in that moment He took some time to get away from the crowds.  The Bible states, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place,” (Matthew 14:13). Jesus took time to do self-care by getting away to be alone during that tumultuous and painful time in his life.  We need to do what is needed to care for ourselves, as well.
  • SEEK HELP!  It is hard to seek help when you lose a parent.  Often times when you needed help you may or may not have looked to your parent, who is now no longer there to guide you.  Know that if you need help it is AVAILABLE TO YOU.  You should never have to walk alone through you pain. Sometimes seeking professional help from a therapist can be beneficial to help you process and manage the intensity of emotion you are experiencing.

 

Click here to make an appointment with someone who can help.

References

Ross, E., & Kessler, D.  (2005).  On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief

Through the Five Stages of Loss.  New York: Scribner.

 

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Grief and Grieving After Losing a Parent: Where Did You Go? appeared first on Melissa Abello.

When People Are Scary: Social Anxiety and How to Deal with It

social anxiety

When People are Scary
Social Anxiety and How to Deal with It

 

IS SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER REAL?

Yes it is very real….

Those who struggle with social anxiety disorder find that they have excessive irrational tension and distress in social situations. They are fearful of people not because they will hurt them, but because they are afraid of what people will think of them. Their greatest fear is usually that they themselves will do something embarrassing or humiliating. Due to this fear, those who have social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience excessive anxiety symptoms. When attempting to interact with others, people with SAD will blush and avoid making eye contact. They usually will experience intense emotional and physical symptoms. These emotional and physical symptoms include: heart racing, racing thoughts, sweating, trembling, and shaking.

Those who suffer from SAD CRAVE the company of others, but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikable, stupid, or boring. Therefore, they avoid social situations where they feel as though strangers or people they know may think of them in those ways.

People who wrestle with this usually struggle immensely with low self-esteem and have a high level of self criticism.

The following thoughts and statements are common of those who struggle with social anxiety:

  • I have to stay on my toes in social settings just in case something might happen. This prevents me from really being able to enjoy myself at events where there are lots of people.
  • I cannot be myself around most people or even anyone. If I were to be myself then someone will probably think I am weird, awkward, or __________ (fill in the blank).
  • People are so scary that I can’t go to the grocery store, have a job, or go to school. I want to have a job, go to school, and go to the grocery store, but I might do something stupid or embarrassing there. It is too risky.
  • I cannot go to graduations, birthday parties, or baby showers for people I love because I just cannot be around too many people.
  • My house and my room are my only safe places. No one can judge me here.
  • It is intolerable to be around people. It is just too uncomfortable for me. I would rather not talk to or get to know anyone outside of my comfort zone because it is too scary.
  • I am so sad I cannot live a normal life without feeling so much anxiety. I want to have friends, but I would rather avoid it since it is too uncomfortable and scary for me.

To those who do not struggle with SAD the above comments may seem trivial, but to those who struggle with SAD they are VERY REAL.

If the above comments and symptoms described in this article seem similar to what you may struggle with there is help for you. Life does not have to be lived behind four walls and in fear. With the help of God, some medication, and licensed therapists, there is hope for those who struggle with social anxiety disorder.

What do you do if you or someone you know has these symptoms?

Decide To Educate Yourself

Understanding the nature of this disorder for those who struggle with it is helpful. There are some helpful memoirs by men and women who have struggled with social anxiety themselves. Reading these memoirs and doing research on the illness can help those who struggle with SAD. Being able to understand what is happening in one’s mind and body has potential to be comforting. It provides HOPE when people can gain insight into what they are struggling with and can understand that there are ways in which they can overcome.

Decide to Pray

God is bigger and more powerful than our challenges and our issues. Decide to pray to him. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. God cares about your anxiety. He wants to hear you talk to him about it. Continue to pray to him for help to overcome and pray for strength to make the decisions needed to be made, so that you can OVERCOME.

Decide To Seek Professional Help

It is imperative that those who struggle with social anxiety receive professional help. It may be necessary that those who struggle with SAD need medication and also that they may need therapy. The two combined have most frequently been used to treat SAD. When these symptoms are recognized it will be more helpful to seek help sooner than later. SAD has an early age of onset—by age 11 years in about 50%, and by age 20 years in about 80% of individuals—and it is a risk factor for subsequent depressive illness and substance abuse. Symptoms have less chance of exacerbating if you seek help SOONER than later.

The natural temptation of those who struggle with SAD will be to avoid seeking help. This is because seeking help involves having interpersonal interaction with others who are complete strangers. When this happens:

Decide to Fight

 

Decide not to give into fear.

Deciding not to give into fear does not mean that fear will not be present. Deciding not to give into fear means just not to make decisions based on it. Decide to do what is healthy for you and what is BEST for you instead of what feels most comfortable for you.

Take it step by step.

The first step is making a phone call and setting up an appointment. Just take the first step and pray that God gives you the courage to keep taking one step in front of the other.

Follow this link to schedule an appointment to talk to someone here at The Relationship Center.

References:

Stein, D., & Stein, M. (2008). Social Anxiety Disorder. Lancet, 371, 1117
1125. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dan_Stein3/publication/547744
_Social_anxiety_disorder/links/09e4150f415633b94f000000.pdf

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post When People Are Scary: Social Anxiety and How to Deal with It appeared first on Melissa Abello.

Worrying: Why We Do It

Worrying: Why We Do It

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” (Luke 12:25-26, New Living Translation)

Worrying is a common part of the human existence. So common, Jesus himself felt the need to address the frivolousness of it. Those who worry understand it is not helpful, but why, then, do we continue to do it? Most actions that are repeated are continued because, in some way, they serve a purpose. What purpose does worrying serve?

Fear

For some, the purpose of worry is to reduce fear.  This fear can be of the unknown or the possibility of something happening (Backus & Chapian, 1981). For example, you may be unsure of where you will work after you graduate. Therefore, you worry about how you will find a job. Maybe your son is going on a trip overseas, and you find yourself worrying about him being robbed or getting lost. The first example discussed is the fear of the unknown while the second example consisted of fear of what may happen. How does worry reduce fear? Through worrying, most people develop a plan of how to resolve the issue he or she is worried about. This plan creates a false sense of control.

The feeling of being in control is powerful. When you feel in control, you feel safe, positive, and prepared. The sense of not being in control is difficult for everyone. However, this false sense of control worrying creates is not real. Have you ever noticed most situations do not turn out the way in which you worried about them? You find even though you thought you worried about every worst case scenario, there is one you did not think about (Backus & Chapian, 1981). Worrying steals your energy and leaves you exhausted to deal with the real event. While worrying may appear to reduce fear, in actuality, it is a thief of useful resources.

Avoidance

The concept of using worry to be avoidant may be a new idea for many of you reading this article. How can worrying about something make you avoidant?  While you may hate the fact you worry, it may actually be more comforting than facing the problem itself. Worrying may be so ingrained in your routine, it actually serves a purpose of helping you avoid situations or emotions you believe are too difficult to deal with (Backus & Chapian, 1981). For example, you may allow yourself to worry about your finances instead of creating a budget or thinking about the fight you had with your spouse last night. To truly understand if you use worry to avoid, you will have to be willing to evaluate your motives for worrying.

Worrying not only serves the purpose of avoidance, but it can also lead to learned helplessness. Learned helplessness refers to a false sense of inability to solve problems due to previous failures.  It is learned helplessness because, in actuality, you are not helpless. You have learned to believe you are helpless. How does this pertain to worrying?

  1. When you worry, you feel a lack of control.
  2. Worrying makes you believe the only way to control the situation is to worry about it.
  3. Worrying may lead to avoidance of events or things that worry you. If you never face the content of your worries, you will never know your capacity to overcome your negative thoughts (Backus & Chapian, 1981).
  4. Avoidance can lead to learned helplessness. If you never take a risk to face the unknown, you start to believe you have no control over things that happen to you. You believe you are helpless. In reality, you have control if only you would try.

The following is an example of this concept:  you have a co-worker who seems rude to you when you ask for help. Whenever you try to ask her a question, her answers are short and sometimes she ignores you. Due to these interactions, you find yourself worrying about what you say to this co-worker. Actually, you find yourself avoiding her. You feel you have no control over the interactions because she is the one being rude. Therefore, you do not try to talk with her about your concerns. You believe you are helpless when, in actuality, you are not. While you cannot control this co-worker’s actions, you can express your frustrations about her reactions to you. This is one way you have control. You have control over addressing the issue or avoiding. You may avoid this situation because confrontation and how your co-worker may react is more frightening than dealing with the worry. In this example, telling yourself you have no control or there is nothing you can do is learned helplessness. You have control if only you would face your fear of talking with your co-worker.

The insight obtained through understanding the purpose worrying serves can be helpful in reducing the worry you experience. You cannot work on something you do not understand. More importantly, knowing the purpose of your worry can help you replace worry with healthier ways to get your needs met. Rather than worrying to gain control of the situation, take steps toward having an actual level of control. If you have realized worrying helps you avoid, identify the things you are avoiding and why you are avoiding them.  This removes some of their power over you.

Jesus not only spoke about the frivolousness of worrying, but He also spoke about the hope He provides:

 “And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Luke 12:28, New Living Translation).

 

If you or someone you know struggles with worrying or anxiety, please contact The Relationship Center. We have professionals who know how to help.

 

Reference

Backus, W., & Chapian, M. (1981). Misbelief in anxiety. Telling yourself the truth (pp. 63-77). Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers.

The post Worrying: Why We Do It appeared first on September Trent.

Embracing Single Sexuality as a Christian

A recently married Christian couple sits before me in my office and through tears and shame relate their story:

The husband: “We waited. We were virgins on our wedding night. We never even kissed before marriage but that first night something went horribly wrong. We tried and tried to have sex and it just wouldn’t work. Now my wife is not even interested because of the intense pain it caused her. My wife has been to the doctor and there is no obvious medical condition.”

The wife: “It’s been 3 years and we are ready to call it quits. We are wondering if there is even a chance that we could conceive children. It’s all my fault.” Their heads drop as they cry together.

It is familiar cry of couples who unwittingly sabotaged their sexual relationship by putting sexuality “on hold” while dating and can’t “switch” it back on for the wedding night. Am I suggesting they should have had intercourse before marriage to make sure all the parts worked? No; rather I am proposing that sexuality is an essential part of our being from birth and should be faithfully stewarded rather than repressed.

This scenario will be addressed in two ways, first in a preventative manner looking at what this couple could have done during their dating season to steward their sexuality and secondly in a restorative manner—what are some ways to bring healing now? These two articles are Embracing Single Sexuality as a Christian and Overcoming Sexual Barriers in Marriage.

Embracing and Stewarding Single Sexuality as a Christian

Sexuality was God’s idea and reflects his very image. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.There is something unique about God’s plan for two persons to reflect his fullness.

Christian singles today are waiting longer to marry and are bombarded from two sides of the cultural sexual war:
Side One –generally promoted by TV and Hollywood: “Why wait? Sex is meant to be enjoyed!”

Side Two –generally promoted by the church: “Sexuality will get you into trouble. Do your best to shut it off and suppress it until marriage.”

Clients that have fully embraced either one of these options sit in my office devastated by the outcome. Let’s explore a third and better option:

The Third Option: Stewarding Single Sexuality

What does it mean to steward our sexuality? I believe this includes embracing God’s design for human relationships. God was clear in the beginning about his image being defined by the two sexes—male and female. Our sexuality does not start at puberty but rather at birth.

Authors Rosenau and Wilson (2006), give overlapping concepts of the various aspects of sexuality including lifelong sexuality, erotic sexuality, and true sex. Sexual activities fall into these three categories reserved for specific people and places. Let’s compare the three categories:

1. Sexuality

Sexuality encompasses all of our whole being from birth. We relate to others out of our sexuality every day. Sexuality drives us to intimacy with friends, God, and potentially our partner. It defines us as male or female.

This includes our sexual identity as male or female and all of our day-to-day interactions. It is the largest and most comprehensive circle in which the next two categories sit.

2. Erotic Sexual Behaviors

Erotic Sexual Behaviors include physical and mental activities that are emotionally or sexually arousing. (i.e. fantasy, sexual conversation, kissing, caressing, holding)

3. True Sex

True Sex is the most erotic sexual behavior reserved for marriage (Hebrews 13:4). At a minimum, this category includes all oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse and activities leading to orgasm.

Soul Virgins chart

The above illustration is adapted from Soul Virgins by Doug Rosenau and Micheal Todd Wilson (2006).

For the Christian dating couple who want to abstain from true sex until marriage, that does not mean avoiding any conversations about sex. It also does not mean avoiding physical contact entirely. Instead, it refers to deciding what to do when an intimate moment starts to go farther than the limitations agreed upon .

This involves couples stewarding their sexual lives in a way that honors both partners. Instead of asking the proverbial “How far can we go?” question, one of the following questions might help steward sexual behavior toward the couples’ sexual values:

  • In our romantic interactions, how can we find sexual wholeness and intimacy in ways pleasing to God?
  • How can I steward my partner’s sexuality and develop his or her true potential to become all God wants him or her to be?
  • How can I value, celebrate and protect this other person, who might be someone else’s Adam or Eve? (Rosenau & Wilson, 2006)

No significant change comes without looking at our underlying core beliefs. Individuals must truly believe their body is special, made by God, belongs to God, and is worth saving until marriage. It is a soul virgin attitude that must define a man or woman’s life to pave the road for physical virginity.

Soul virginity starts during singleness but is an attitude continued through the various potential stages of marriage, possible singleness again, childbearing, and widowhood. A soul virgin is defined as one who continuously seeks to value, celebrate and protect God’s design for sexuality—body, soul and spirit—in oneself and others.

How To cultivate soul virginity:

Stay in close relationship with the Fathergetting your intimacy needs met with Him first
Cultivate many friendsnot just your significant other
Discuss biblical standards and set a practical plan for purity with your “person”
Set up accountability partners for both to contact when struggling
Steward and discipline your thought life — It is where the battle is won or lost
Repent and try again if you fail — figure out why the plan isn’t working well

Much of the content within this article has been gleaned from the excellent book, Soul Virgins. I encourage you that the battle for sexual purity is worth the fight. Keep up the battle. Let me know how you are doing. You can contact me through my professional page, Rachelle Colegrove, MA, PLPC on Facebook.

My next article on Overcoming Sexual Barriers in Marriage will be featured in December 2014. I am looking forward to helping couples explore options for restoring health and fun to their sex lives!

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Embracing Single Sexuality as a Christian appeared first on Rachelle Colegrove .

Loneliness and Being Single: What He Can and Cannot Do For You

Single & DatingIt seems there is an unspoken rule in the world of women that states if you are single, there must be something wrong with you.  While logically we can say that is not true, emotionally it is more difficult. I sit with women in my counseling practice struggling with this mentality. Due to past hurtful relationships, you may seek relationships that meet your emotional needs in an unhealthy way.

Experiencing abandonment can be more frightening than abuse. When I use the word abandonment, I am referring to when someone who is important to you has deserted you emotionally or physically. Abandonment can be real or imagined. The following list will help identify what one can get out of a relationship and what one cannot get out of a relationship.

What He Can Do

Support your Relationship with God

When looking for someone to date and even to marry, it is beneficial to find someone who shares your faith and supports you in your relationship with God. A healthy relationship is one in which people are mutually encouraging each other.  It is healthy for him to support you in your walk with the Lord.

What does this look like? A man who supports your faith will enjoy attending church services with you; he will encourage you to join a bible study and for you to spend time with other women who share your beliefs. A man you have to drag to church, refuses to attend church, wants you to skip your bible study, presses you to violate your physical boundaries, or isolates you from Godly women is not someone who supports your faith.

Companionship

The person you choose to date and eventually marry should be your companion. Companionship is important to a healthy relationship.  Building a friendship before you date is beneficial to the future of your relationship (Harris, 2003). While the feeling of being in love is great, feelings can fade quickly (Harris, 2003).

Relationships, especially romantic relationships, should not only be founded on the feelings of love but also on friendship and commitment (Harris, 2003). Relationships founded on friendship and commitment can be romantic, too.

Respect

While respect should not be demanded, it is a healthy expectation in a relationship. Respect should not be one sided. You should also respect the other person in the relationship. What is the difference between being respectful and someone who is respectable? When someone is respectable:

  • Flows out of your identification in Christ, having nothing to do with the other person.  They have a reputation within the community and church of being honest, trustworthy, dependable, accountable, and loving.

When someone is respectful:

  • It is reasonable to note respect may have to be earned if either party has been disrespectful in the past. Earning respect should be a process and not an end in itself.
  • He should never call you names or use derogatory terms to refer to you
  • He should be interested in your opinions
  • He should encourage your aspirations – this does not mean agreeing with them

The way he treats you should be kind both when you are alone and with others. How can you respect him? Listen to his thoughts, concerns, and opinions. Give him space: you do not have to know where he is at all times. Do not allow your emotions to depend on his happiness.

Romance

Every woman likes a little romance now and then. It is important to keep the romance in your relationship alive to preserve the excitement. It is healthy in a relationship to want a man who can be romantic. Many women find the romantic side of a man very attractive. While I am sure many of you have dreamed of romantic dates, it is important to mention that he cannot be your savior.

There is a difference between having romance in the relationship and wanting someone who can right past wrongs.  The latter is not a healthy view of relationships and will be discussed later.  Romantic movies have a habit of portraying the idea that the right man can heal past hurts. This idea is fictional just like most of those romantic movies.

What He Cannot Do

Heal Past Hurts

Unfortunately, many women have struggled with overcoming hurts they have experienced in the past. These hurts may have been a result of relationship or personal mistakes.  No one likes to experience hurt even though it is a part of life. Most would like to get rid of the feelings of hurt as soon as possible. It can be a pattern for some women to allow a relationship to help them forget and heal the hurts. They are unaware this is one of their motives for getting into relationships.

This is an unhealthy habit because only God can heal your  heart. You cannot expect or hope that a relationship will mend emotional scars. In order to heal these types of hurt, it takes personal work at an emotional level. Many times these hurts are so deep you may need professional help to work through these past hurts developing as current struggles.

Cure fears of Abandonment

Some women have a history of being abandoned by the important people around them. If this has happened to you, it can be a scary experience to get into another relationship. In order to prevent future hurt through a failed relationship, you make sure to act in a certain way to prevent this from happening. It is important to know that not all women who have been abandoned will react in the same way but a few examples include:

  • Wanting to spend all your time with him,
  • Making sure you know where he is at all times
  • Checking his phone for messages from other girls
  • Behaving in such a way that always keeps him happy.

Along with wanting to prevent abandonment, some women may fantasize about a perfect relationship which will cure abandonment.  Thoughts such as these may stress that finding the right type of man will erase issues with abandonment. These thoughts and fantasies put the control over the issue in the hands of the man you are dating or want to date.

It is not his responsibility or in his control to cure your fears of abandonment. This leads to control on the part of the woman. You are the only one who has responsibility and control over your fears of abandonment.  The only way to cure these fears is to acknowledge them and work through them yourself.

Rescue You

Earlier we discussed romance is healthy in a dating relationship. Sometimes along with the romance idea, women can equate this with a knight in shining armor who will come and rescue her from all her troubles. While romance in a relationship is healthy, hoping that a man can rescue you from your problems is not. No matter how great a guy he is or how great the relationship, he cannot erase the past.

If you were hoping this would happen, you will be disappointed in every relationship. No man or relationship can rescue you from the issues you face or the hurts that you have experienced. Once again, you are the only one can work through these issues.

Be Your “Project”

There’s this guy that is really cute and you want to date him, but you feel there are a few problems with him. You think to yourself, “If I date him I can help improve him. Then he will be marriage material.” Have you ever thought like this? Or has it been something like “If I date him, I can help him find the Lord, and then we would be perfect for one another.”

If any of you have tried to fulfill these thoughts, you find things do not go as planned. Maybe you help him accept Jesus as his savior, but then you find other things that you dislike about him. It is important to remember that if you think a man you want to date needs to be fixed, you should not be dating him.

What would it be like if you dated someone who felt like he needed to fix you? How would that make you feel? While you may really like someone and feel it is your job to help him change, this is not the purpose a relationship.  Not to mention, you have no control over whether he changes and you will never have control over his behavior. No mother wants to have romance with her son.  A relationship should be uplifting and supportive rather than negative and harmful.

If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, contact The Relationship Center. There are professionals who know how to help.

Reference
Harris, J. (2003). I kissed dating goodbye. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books.

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Loneliness and Being Single: What He Can and Cannot Do For You appeared first on September Trent.

Singleness Redefined: Being Alone, But Not Lonely

SinglenessThe world we live in today can make single people feel as though they need to be married directly after college. Therefore, many who are still single after the age of twenty-five feel their biological clock is ticking, and that they better find someone to marry quickly.

The cultural and societal pressures single people face from the world can leave them feeling a very deep internal turmoil. Singleness is often associated with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and insecurity.

Here are common thoughts triggering these feelings for many of the 100 million singles in America:

  • “There is something wrong with me”: This is common since many friends may already be married or having children. Also, it may be something one thinks because they haven’t been pursued or haven’t been able to keep a stable relationship. Many singles feel the pressure from their families to get married. At every family party or dinner with the parents they hear, “So, have you found anyone yet?” Leaving them to feel as though they should have by now and that there is something wrong with them since they have not yet.
  • “I am never going to find love”: Many single men or women stop believing that they could ever find someone else who would actually want to spend the rest of their lives with them or vice versa. This leaves them feeling hopeless and discouraged that love is just not possible or in the cards for them.
  • “I have no value since I am not married”: Since society places so much value on marriage and on being in a relationship, people who are not in a relationship will often feel like they have no value. This is because no one has chosen them. This makes them feel as though it is a negative reflection on them.
  • “When I get married then my life will begin”: Many people believe that their life doesn’t begin until they can buy a house, have a white picket fence, and some children with their husband. This leaves people feeling hopeless and purposeless during their single years.
  • “The older I get the less likely I am to find someone”: A deep panic sets in after a certain age for some people. There is a feeling of hopelessness and fear that one will never find anyone because they are getting to older and often feel less desirable.

These thoughts and fears are just a few of the many those who are single in America may feel. It is important to learn how to combat these intrusive and negative thoughts, so that one can be alone, but not feel lonely.

Feelings of loneliness can be linked to and lead to depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, lack of sleep, self destructive behavior, delinquent behavior, and suicide. If you are struggling with some of the above it is important for you to seek out a mental health professional, so that you can learn to cope with your loneliness in a healthy way.

Here are some helpful ways to redefine the way you think about singleness, so that you can be alone, but not feel alone.

1.) God has a plan

In God’s eyes you are single currently because that’s exactly where He wants you to be. “God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us to give us a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. God’s word reminds us that He has a plan for us. There are so many men and women today who are beautiful, successful, godly, and intelligent and are still single.

You are not single because you are not good looking enough or because you don’t have a good personality. You are single right now because it is God’s will. He is bigger than our looks, our personalities, our social circles, and life situations. If He wanted you to be married you would be! You are not defective.

2.) You are of great value

The grand myth today is that I have no value if I am not with someone or if someone is not interested in me. This is a lie from the devil himself. The thing is, you cannot do anything or be anyone to make yourself an object of value. You, yourself, are valuable because you were created by the King of Kings. Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are God’s masterpiece…” How could you be of no value if the creator of the universe feels as though you are his masterpiece?

Single or married you are more than valuable to the one whose opinion matters most, so valuable He would send His son to ransom you.

3.) Putting hope in God

It does not matter how old you may or may not be. God is not bound by time or by age. Therefore, as long as you are still living and breathing God can do anything. The trick is not being consumed with finding love and not giving up on it all together either. Our hope can be in God’s heart for us and not in getting married. We can desire to get married and trust that if we don’t we will be okay since we have our Father.

4.) You are not alone

God forsook Jesus on the cross, so that he would not ever have to forsake us. Jesus died literally so we would not ever have to be alone. Even when we may feel lonely, we are never truly alone. We have a loving creator and Father who desires to have a relationship with us. We are and always have been pursued by Him. It is common to feel alone and lonely.

Learning how to deeply connect with God can help these feelings of loneliness to subside. Also, you are not alone in the world. Talk to people you trust about how you are feeling. Try and make connections with other singles in the same stage of life as you at church. If you are experiencing the following symptoms of depression, I would recommend you see a professional for help:

  • Depressed mood (such as feelings of sadness or emptiness)
  • Reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed
  • Sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping too much)
  • Loss of energy or a significant reduction in energy level
  • Difficulty concentrating, holding a conversation, paying attention, or making decisions that used to be made fairly easily
  • Suicidal thoughts or intentions

If you are currently single and battling feelings of loneliness or depression or know someone who is, we are here to help. Always know that there is help available. This challenge in life is not one that needs to be taken alone. Visit The Relationship Center to schedule an appointment to talk to someone about working through the challenges of singlehood.

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

Reference

Major Depressive Disorder in Mood Disorders at ALLPSYCH Online. (n.d.).Major Depressive Disorder in Mood Disorders at ALLPSYCH Online. Retrieved August 31, 2014.

The post Singleness Redefined: Being Alone, But Not Lonely appeared first on Melissa Abello.

Anxiety in Men: Common Warning Signs

anxiety

Anxiety in men is real and impacts life substantially.  However, it often goes unnoticed, by both the man and those who care about him.  When the “a” word is used, the response is immediate, “No, I am not anxious!”  The old saying is true: a man isn’t afraid, he’s just concerned.  As a therapist who specializes in working with men, there are common warning signs of anxiety I look for.  A man won’t use words like anxiety or fear, but he may identify as:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities and expectations.
  2. Having limited patience and being irritable.
  3. Being easily fatigued.
  4. Restlessness and inability to relax.
  5. Feeling unable to control or manage his worry.
  6. Becoming less effective/productive in work and home responsibilities.

*See below to learn more about each of the seven warning signs of anxiety in men.

  1. Feeling overburdened by life’s responsibilities and expectations.  Men are like pick-up trucks.  They are built to work and haul loads (life responsibilities).  In fact, just like a pick-up, if there’s no load in the back, their handling can get kind of wild (think of the way many young, single men live and behave).  While it’s good for him to carry a load, sometimes life’s load gets imbalanced or he is not effective in carrying it.  Generally, instead of recognizing this and communicating a need for help, he will struggle silently, growing more frustrated.
  2. Having limited patience and being irritable.  Like it or not, most men anxiety/fear with weakness.  Weakness is not something he is comfortable with, at least his own weakness.  Men will often make flippant comments about the box of tissues in my office, trying to joke with me about needing it.  Anger, in the form of irritability, frustration, being demanding/controlling, is a safe way for a man to express fear.  Anger gives the illusion of power and mastery.  However, it is ineffective in solving the real problem.  Think of it another way.  If a child is afraid or overwhelmed emotionally, they will often react with anger.  They feel powerless, and to deal with this, they are using angry outbursts to demand control.  It’s as if they are saying, “If I get angry, I won’t have to feel afraid anymore/If I have a choice between anger and fear, I choose anger.”   
  3. Being easily fatigued.  If a man loses the “zip” in his step or enthusiasm for life, it can be a sign he is struggling.  Anxiety is one of the most energy zapping emotions.  It has the effect of causing a man to expend several times the usual amount of energy to accomplish the same tasks.  I use the following example with men:

a b line

There are two points above, A & B.  The line takes me from A to B in the simplest, most efficient way possible – in a straight line.  Only the necessary amount of energy is expended in this example, but what happens if we add anxiety?

Anxiety makes a big difference, taking our once straight line and turning it into a phone cord.  Yes, the man is still able to get from A to B, but if we stretch out the line, it’s clear he has had to go farther and expend more energy to get there.  No wonder he is so tired.

  1. Restlessness and inability to relax.  Once we realize why our guy is so fatigued, it’s clear he needs to rest. The problem is, he can’t.  Strong feelings of anxiety keep causing him to feel as if rest is not a good idea.  He must remain vigilant, even if he does not have a good reason to.  Explaining this to loved ones is difficult.  In counseling, I use the example of a fire alarm.  Imagine if you are in a building and its very loud fire alarm is sounding.  It causes you to feel the need to act, to get out of the building, exactly what it was designed to do.  Now imagine a loved one was there in the building with you, but they could not hear the alarm.  They keep telling you to lie down and rest, maybe even take a nap, but it’s impossible.  You try to explain this to them, but they just don’t get it.  Hunger is only a burden to those without food to eat, but for the rest of us, it’s just a cue to go to the refrigerator.  Fatigue is only a burden to those who cannot rest.
  2. Feeling unable to control or manage his worry.  Some anxiety is normal and a part of life.  Too much can be an inescapable burden.  Most of us are working to manage our anxiety throughout our day.  It’s like we are juggling balls, and most of the time, feel pretty adept at doing so.  However, the man who is anxious feels as if he has way too many balls to juggle.  No matter how much he tries to manage them better he keeps dropping them.  Anxiety goes from being a normal life experience to a sign that something bad is about to happen.    
  3. Becoming less effective/productive in work and home responsibilities.  Too much anxiety has the net effect of making a man less effective in important areas of his life.  He is unable to concentrate his efforts and energies on the task at hand, leading to poor performance.  His problems are also beginning to multiply.  As his productivity lessens, his backlog increases and so does his anxiety.  An insurmountable obstacle is forming, which will cause him significant problems down the road.  Anxiety has worked to justify its existence by creating real, identifiable problems.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with anxiety, there is competent, caring help available.  At The Relationship Center, we have counselors who specialize in helping men with anxiety.  Give us a call today at 417-763-3309. 

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders
(4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

anxiety counselorsOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Anxiety Counseling at The Relationship Center

The post Anxiety in Men: Common Warning Signs appeared first on Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC.

Why Did We Have These Children?

Ellie

Why did we have these children?

(And why did God have children?)

Created for Relationship With God

In Genesis, God created people. He didn’t need to create us because of something lacking in himself or because something was missing in his life. He desired to create us to have a relationship with us. It’s a little mind boggling when you think about it. The one who created all the stars and in planets in all the solar systems and galaxies in the universe desires to personally relate to you and I.

It gets even harder to comprehend when you throw in the mystery of the incarnation and the cross. Imagine, the creator God limits himself into the form of his creation, then chooses to suffer and die in its place. What could possibly motivate such actions? Who can understand the heart of God?

Liking Children Doesn’t Make Sense

It’s impossible. At least it would be if God had not created a way for us to begin wrapping our mind around it. You see, I have these short people running around at my house. They kind of look like me, thankfully for them, even more like their mother. If you do the math on paper it doesn’t make sense that I would even like them.

They cost me:

  • Thousands of dollars to get here.
  • My wife months of difficulty caring them and lots of pain delivering them.
  • Many sleepless nights
  • Stained carpets, car upholstery, destroyed furniture.
  • Diapers, sneakers, summer camp.
  • Tantrums in the supermarket, coming home late after curfew, boyfriends….need I say more.

They came bearing no gifts except for that cheesy like substance they were wrapped in and that black tarry goo coming out of their rear. If I kept a tab on them until their 18th birthday, I could turn it over to them and retire on them paying it back. There’s nothing tangible they have ever given me that I didn’t myself pay for! Every time I wear that ugly tie I get to think to myself, “I had to pay for the privilege of wearing this ugly tie.”

Yet, we still have children.

It doesn’t make sense on paper, but my children are precious to me. Before they ever even arrived on the scene, before they could do anything to earn my affection, they are precious to me. I loved the way they smelled (one end at least), I loved the noises they make, I loved watching them discover themselves and enjoy the world I created for them in our home. I love watching them play, I love hearing them laugh, I love watching them smile, I love holding them close for snuggles, and I love hearing ‘Daddy, I love you.’ In short, I love doing them good and being in relationship with them.

We would die for our children.

In fact, I love them so much I can honestly say that if it were necessary I would exchange my life for theirs. I would die in their place that they may live. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.

The reason it is true, is because I was created in the Image of God1. My desire to have children and the love I have for them are reflections of the heart of my Creator. They tell me something about his heart and his love for me.

There are certainly unhealthy reasons to want children, such as a false belief that their love will make whole something lacking in us. It’s the reflection of God in us, however, that inclines healthy adults to want to have children.

So why did God have children?

The same reason we have kids, because we want to share a relationship with them; because when they smile, we smile. We derive pleasure and joy from watching them interact with the world we created for them and so does God. We don’t birth our children so that we could enjoy their suffering or hurt them, and neither is God that way. God created us to be in his likeness and to reveal his image.

It makes our heart warm to see our image born in our kids. We take delight in helping them learn how to live well, teaching them how to feed themselves, teaching them to walk, blowing bubbles at them for the first time. All the things we know that they don’t we get to share with them. We love it when we get to teach them those things. We love that they love us. It feels good that they love us simply for who we are. They think we are wonderful because we are their creator.

All these things are reflections of the heart of God. We desire those things for our kids because we were created in the image of God. It tells us something about God’s heart, how he feels toward us, why he created us in the first place, and why we exist.

 


  1. Referred to by scholars as the Imago Dei, Latin for Image of God; NLT GENESIS 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 27So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

The post Why Did We Have These Children? appeared first on Josh Spurlock – Professional Counseling | Business Consulting.

What is Discipleship?

discipleship

The Great Commission

Go into all the nations1 and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them all I shown you.2

One sentence that encapsulates the most greatest3 task given to mankind in human history. Significant both in size and importance.

We have a message to carry to all people, everywhere, in every generation until the Lord returns. It is a life and death message with eternity on the line. Missiology4 and evangelism5 are top priorities for the Church of Jesus the Christ.

Our call, however, is not limited to making converts; it is to make disciples.

Convert: one who has been presented the fundamentals of the Gospel6 and confessed the Lordship7 of Jesus.

Disciple8: one who is ever growing in the knowledge of and obedience to God.

Disciple = Follower

To be a disciple is to be a follower9, or one whose life follows10 after Christ. You are not a disciple if your knowledge of Christ is purely academic and your life does not follow11 or resemble his teachings12.

To follow or walk13 with the Lord is to imitate him in life and manner; to resemble God in His good and upright ways.

The Goal of Discipleship

This is the goal of discipleship: A life that reveals the glory of God by embodying14 His character and person in our daily living.

Perfection on our part is not the point. God is a rewarder of those who seek Him15 and who place their trust in the Lord Jesus to be their perfect righteousness.

It’s about becoming who we are and who we are created to be. In Christ the work is already completed. We are reconciled with God and restored to our pre-sin reflection of the Creator whose image we bear. If we were to look at our self from the outside of time, as God does, we would see a completed work.

From our time locked position, however, we are working out our salvation 16and sanctification through progressive and sequential moments in time.

It is the paradoxical tension of truths we live in.

Discipleship, then, is about following in the paths of righteousness 17and good works our Creator has planned for us since before creations beginning18. It is identifying with our God and growing into His likeness19.

So what then is our part as disciples?

More on Discipleship…


  1. For a great message on the concept of “nations” referring to people different than you watch David Lindell’s message Resurrection Living

  2. NLT MATTHEW 28:18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  3. Matthew 28:18-20 is known as the Great Commission

  4. Missiology: the area of practical theology that investigates the mandate, message, and mission of the Christian church, especially the nature of missionary work. Missiology is a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural field of study incorporating theology, anthropology, history, geography, theories and methods of communication, comparative religion, Christian apologetics, methodology, and interdenominational relations.

  5. Evangelism: the preaching of the Gospel with the intent of converting non-believers to Christianity.

  6. Gospel: (εὐαγγέλιον) – “Good News”; the account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and His mission to reconcile man with God.

  7. The concept of Lord is poorly understood in our culture today. In short, it is an acknowledgement of Jesus supreme authority in one’s life.; NLT ROMANS 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

  8. μαθητῇ

  9. In Matthew 9:9 Jesus calls the Matthew to be his disciple saying, ‘Follow me.’ (Ἀκολούθει μοι) and Matthew ‘Followed Him’ (ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ)

  10. ἀκολουθέω in the semantic sense of: to follow someone as a disciple, be a disciple, follow[BDAG meaning 3]

  11. ἀκολουθέω in the sense of: to comply with, follow, obey [BDAG meaning 4]

  12. NLT LUKE 6:46“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?; The rhetorical answer being that person is not truly consider Jesus Lord. ; NLT 1 JOHN 2:3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

  13. The Old Testament semantic equivalent of follow is walk (הָלַך): ESV GEN17:1When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”; ESV EXOD 18: 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.; ESV DEUT 5:33 You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.; ESV DEUT 8:6 So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.; ESV DEUT 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.; ESV DEUT 28:9 The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways.

  14. In one sense we are to be ‘incarnational’ as Christ was, revealing in earthly flesh and bodily form the unseen Father in heaven.

  15. NLT HEBREWS 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

  16. ESV PHILIPIANS 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

  17. NLT PSALM 23:3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.; NLT PROVERBS 8: 20 I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice.

  18. ESV EPHESIANS 2: 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

  19. NLT 2 CORINTHIANS 3: 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.; ESV ROMANS 8:  29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The post What is Discipleship? appeared first on Josh Spurlock – Professional Counseling | Business Consulting.