Thursday, April 30, 2015


Romans 7:18-19 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 

            To discover why a person does, says, thinks, or feels certain things you simply need to ask. “What do you want? What desires made you do that? What yearning led her to say that? What did you fear when you felt so anxious?” 

Then you need to listen closely to their answers. People will often tell you exactly what they want. “I got angry because she put me down, and I want respect. She became speech-less because she yearns for acceptance. Those fantasies of heroism and success play in my mind because I want to be successful.” If you know yourself well, you will deduce the answer. Look for the pattern of their desires and you will learn much about them.

Naming what you want is easy. The hard part is learning to interpret what you have identified. Naming the problem is not the same as understanding the problem. The desires of the heart rest in the battleground of the soul.

Is it true that we have these “needs” for respect, acceptance, money or significance that must be met from outside ourselves? No one ever rightly understands and weighs desires without God’s self-revelation in Scripture. God sees our hearts as a war zone ruled by one passion or another. Either we chose to meet our desires in the world or we chose to meet our desires through a relationship to God.

The apostle’s had the confidence that the only resources of the gospel of grace and truth possess sufficient power to change us in ways we most need to be changed. The mercies of God work to forgive and to change what is deeply evil, sin, within us. He alone is able to cure our soul and set us on a new path to life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Acts 28:23-24 From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 

How do destructive people become constructive? How do out-of-control people become fruitfully self-controlled? How do people adrift lean to focus? How do hopeless and angry people find hope and peace? Before we ask ‘How?’ we must ask, ‘Why are troubled people troubled’?

The way Scripture answers these questions is clear. Yet, we find more and more that Scripture is not being used to bring answers to these questions. Society has caused us to seek other clinical or environmental answers.

To recover the correct footing for the cure of souls, two things are required: conviction and content. The conviction is our whole-hearted belief that Scripture is given to us for the understanding and helping of troubled people. The Scriptures are sufficient for all teaching, rebuking and training of people for healthy living. The content of Scripture is God’s words on the subject of the human heart, mind and soul.

Convictions demonstrated in action, shown to be penetrating, comprehensive and subtle, will edify the teachable and even persuade the skeptical. The content of Scripture is the good news of Jesus Christ. “The gospel of Christ is as wide as human diversity and as deep as human complexity. The Scriptures that bear witness to this Christ in the power of His Spirit are sufficient to cure souls.”   (The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


1 Thessalonians 4:13     We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

Scripture is our guide through grief. It affirms our need to grieve and recognizes the disruption of life and the complex of emotions that are experienced. Overcoming grief is a process, a journey that we can help guide the person through. Personal contact, emotional release, talking, faith, prayer and community become are the tools establishing hope.

Personal contact helps take away the solitude and allows hope to be expressed through the concerns of others. Personal contact helps soften the heartbreak by showing the bereaved they are not alone in their suffering.

Allowing the bereaved to experience their emotions is critical to their recovery. Emotions affect the way people think and act. Awareness of their grief and sorrow becomes a valuable way to enhance life, understand the future and develop the stamina needed to achieve new goals.

Talking can be used to communicate assurance of their hopes in spite of the loss and reinforce positive attitudes about the past. Hope grows from focusing on future experiences as they replace of past memories.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen. Anxiety is the uncertainty about the present or future. Helping others see anxiety in terms of faith helps them see new possibilities and hopes for the future.

Prayer leads the bereaved in overcoming erroneous thoughts and emotions. The mistaken belief that they can control life’s events often leads to desperation and guilt. Prayer helps the bereaved understand that their needs and hopes are met in a God who cares for them.

The individual's suffering can be eased as the community willingly shares in their burdens, loneliness and sorrow. The bereaved regains hope in realizing that they are not alone in their grief. The Christian community helps the bereaved see God’s presence in these moments of loss.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Proverbs 24:5-6 A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. 

I remember asking a dear older Christian saint about her friends who were not Christians. She became offended by the question and I was shocked by her reaction. Her reply to me was “I have no non-Christian friends”. It is no wonder that we are realizing less of an impact on our society. If we never talk to the world of people around us we can be sure that the light of Christ will grow dimmer and dimmer.

Ministry to people is something all Christians can do because we have the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, dwelling within us. Whether they are believers needing encouragement or unbelievers needing hope, you are able to do this. Start by listening to them; care about their needs; be their friend. Most importantly you can pray for them. Ask other people who have done this ministry to others for their wisdom and help. And most importantly pray to God for your opportunities to impact their lives for Christ.

St. Francis of Assisi prayed for his life to impact others for Christ:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Sunday, April 26, 2015


Proverbs 22:2-4 The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
It’s about time to go beneath the moralism that assumes the church’s job is done when it instructs people in biblical principles and then exhorts them to do right. It’s about time to find a better way to help each other when we struggle than the way of our therapeutic culture, which looks beneath every troublesome emotion or behavior pattern to find a psychological disorder that needs repair.

I want us to think about the kind of connection that is needed for a small group of people to become a healing community. I want us to understand how a father can relate to a sullen, troubled son with a power that could change his direction. I want to be able to guide the wife of an angry husband toward a path that could restore their relationship.

I don’t want us to focus on the hard things, the ugly things, the awful things. I don’t want us to gloss over them – we must never pretend that things are better than they are – but I do want us to look beneath all that is difficult and see the miracle God has wrought in our hearts.

I want us to see that he has placed powerful urges to do good in the deepest recesses of our regenerated hearts. That’s what the New Covenant is all about. Something wonderful and beautiful and resilient is within us that no abuse, rejection, or failure can ever destroy. I want us to focus on that.

God has given us the power to be his instrument in healing souls. That power is waiting to be released.

 (pgs. xvii-xix, Connecting: A Radical New Vision)

Saturday, April 25, 2015


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

People have told us in the past that we are to deny or suppress our dark and undesirable emotions. Doing this, however, creates a distorted personality. Denying emotions leaves us less of the person we were made to be. The truth is that learning to cope with our feelings and negative emotions will bring freedom and fulfillment to our lives.

“It is critical for a person to be aware of his own feelings, including anger. Feelings are a valuable guide, a sixth sense, a tool to help us evaluate what is happening around us. Losing our awareness of feelings is as tragic as losing our sense of touch, taste, or smell. Many of us, particularly those of us with religious backgrounds, have been robbed of the right to negative feelings, especially the feeling of anger. This is comparable to a psychological rape, in which a vital part of our humanity is violated, leaving us with irreparable emotional damage. Only when we are aware of our feelings are we able to respond to the inevitable conflicts in life constructively.” (pg. 7, Overcoming Hurts & Anger)

At the mission we see many individuals who do not know how to express their feelings, needs, and desires in healthy ways. These people are either passive or aggressive in their behavior towards emotions. As a result, they tend to mishandle anger and fuel the very emotion they seek to avoid.

There are a few things to understand about anger. First, you may have an anger problem even if you don’t look, feel or seem angry. If you ignore your hurts and anger, they will not go away. In fact, they may come back worse later. Thirdly, you cannot solve your anger problems by just venting anger or letting it all out. Also, you will pay a higher emotional price if you try to be a nice person and never get angry at anyone. Lastly, if you properly express your hurts and anger to the person you’re angry with, your relationship will not automatically suffer.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

“Joy is a deeply personal emotion. No one can truly tell if another person is joyful on the inside. One of the external manifestations of joy, however, is nearly always a quickness to smile and an ability to laugh deeply.” (pg. 178, Deadly Emotions)

Joy is an abiding or enduring emotion. It comes from a sense of contentment or peace that is deep within. Joy does not depend on circumstances. It is built on an inner sense of personal value, purpose, fulfillment or satisfaction.

Happiness is not the same as joy. “Happiness is a feeling of pleasure, contentment or a sense of well-being that comes from the outer environment or event that a person is experiencing. It is temporary and dependent upon eternal factors – including what others say and do.” (pg. 186)

Joy is lost when we choose to make other circumstances in life more important to us. Some lose their joy by allowing controlling people, unloving family or strict rules to be the measuring stick for our peace and joy. Some lose their joy when they stop setting goals, stop engaging life with other people or give up on the future.

Joy is a choice. It is not the result of circumstance or the outer world around you. Joy flows from within your will and deep seated emotions. You can choose to be joyful, or you can choose to be miserable. Nobody can make these inner choices for you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Proverbs 16:20, 22 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord… Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it. 

Why do we not delight in one another very often? People who do not know us very well seem to find more to appreciate in us. To keep people delighted, we often keep them at arm’s length.

We do not really believe there is something terrific in us that would arouse delight. If there is, we believe that the deeper things, which are more true about us, are bad. We have difficulty believing that forgiven people have caught a glimpse of Christ and that the Spirit has used that glimpse to create goodness within us, a goodness that is more defining of who we are than our badness.

Satan has craft a lie called humanism.  Humanism is a philosophy that teaches we are all essentially good and the badness in us is caused by the power of bad environments. As a result of believing this lie, people have difficulty with the idea that we need forgiveness for sin. If we are basically good what do I need forgiveness for? Why do I need a savior?

Good urges are created in us when we are forgiven. Good urges will completely rule in us when we see him and the belief of faith gives way to the excitement of sight. Good urges are released in us as we get to know him better.

Until someone realizes that there are no legitimate longings in our souls beyond his power and intention to satisfy, all change is cosmetic. But as we grasp how tenderly committed he is to our well-being, we feel more inclined to obey. Good urges become stronger.

God delights in the whole process. He delights in our status as forgiven children welcomed into his house. He delights in what we will become as members of His family.

(pgs. 13-14, Connecting: A Radical New Vision)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


 Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. 

          Not everyone you come into relationship with is good for you. There are many people who use relationships for material gain and nothing else. Then there are people you meet who contribute to your life in positive ways. Knowing the difference between them will have great impact on your life now and into the future.

          The wounds inflicted by unsafe people can be deep and lasting. If you have ever been a relationship with someone who used, abused or abandoned you then you will understand the dangers of unsafe people. If, on the other hand, you have found someone who encouraged, supported and loved you then you know the lasting impact they have had on your life, too.

          “Safe people are individuals who draw us closer to being the people God intended us to be. Though not perfect, they are ‘good enough’ in their own character that the net effect of their presence in our lives is positive. They are accepting, honest, and present, and they help us bear good gruit in our lives.” (pg. 11, Safe People)

          A skill many of us lack is the ability to discern the character of others. In biblical terms it is being able to distinguish between the “sheep and the goats”.  The wisdom to do this is given by God. He gives this wisdom to those who ask for it, like he did for Solomon. In gaining this wisdom we will find the resource needed to grow both personally and spiritually.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. 

Overcoming anxiety is best accomplished by living out the truth of God’s Word. Teaching others the truths in Scripture is the beginning or foundation building for a life of obedience. Without the knowledge and understanding of biblical truth, the counselee will not be able to adequately live their life in a way that brings healing and wholeness. Fullness of life is knowing and doing the truth.

Anxiety begins with misbeliefs that have caused the anxious person to think and act in ways counter to truth and reality. It is not merely an intellectual change that is sought.  The goal here is to get them to “do” the things they fear. With truth as their guide, the counselee learns to face their fear and to act against that fear. Allow them to experience the anxiety and learn that there is little or nothing to fear.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you”.  (Matthew 6:27-30)

The counselor’s work is to help the other person to identify and change their misbeliefs connected to anxiety. This is accomplished by a dialogue that allows for questions and answers and for argument. Change, even small amounts, can begin the process of conquering fear in the client. The hope is that enough truth will get through to the client so they might begin to move forward toward facing their fear. The more they act against their fear, the more truth they will apprehend and the more fear they can face in the future. The Holy Spirit will oversee this process in the client bringing eventual freedom and new life.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Proverbs 11:17           A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man
                                    hurts himself.
Psalm 109:16-17        For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!

Remember the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant? One grabbed the tail and said an elephant was like a rope. The second man, touching its ear, thought the elephant was like a leaf. The third man embraced its leg and said an elephant was like a pillar.

These blind men are like many Christians, scientists and society in their understanding about the cause of emotional problems in people. They grab hold of one factor without considering other possibilities. Lack of will power, sinful choices, evil or demonic forces, knowledge of the medical issue, emotional development and upbringing, environment, traumatic events, or biology are other potential factors influencing the individual.

Balance is a better approach. Some will blame all problems on sin and choices, while another person will blame upbringing and society for the person’s behavior. True, all our problems began with original sin. Every aspect of our lives today has been affected. Satan is always trying to influence our thinking and decisions. People are most helped when we understand that choices, genetics and environment, all contribute to a person’s emotional problems.

            Be aware of these multiple factors. I helps in being less judging of ourselves and others. The goal is to help people sort out the varied contributing causes, seek appropriate help and feel our support through the road toward freedom and life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Job 30:26-27 But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me. 

Grief is paradoxical; it is both a universal and an individual reality. No one is exempt from emotional suffering or grief, it is universal. Yet, only the one stricken can resolve their grief, it is an individual experience.

While grief occurs in a variety of situations there is an element that transcends its diversity. This element is loss or deprivation. Grief can be defined as emotional suffering resulting from the loss of someone or something.

Grief is common among our shelter clients. They experience grief as a result of losing custody of children, entering the shelter due to the loss of family, the loss of freedom to drink or drug, the loss of their material possessions or any hope for employment. Often times we fail to recognize the trauma of these events and the emotional impact they have caused in our clients. We fail to address grief as a source of their initial state of being.

The symptoms experienced by someone suffering with grief include: shock, panic, anger, bargaining, despair, depression, numbness, and hopelessness. These symptoms are common with clients and often discounted as merely rebelliousness that needs correcting. However, a careful consideration of the life losses these men and women have had will help to separate the truly rebellious from the grieving.

Grief is seen as a cycle that seems to move from denial to shock, panic, anger, bargaining, despair, depression, numbness, hope and concludes with acceptance of the loss. The experience of grief is not as linear as this description. A “spiral” that moves up and down through these emotions is a better analogy. Grief is an illness that heals itself when the lost object is replaced and hope for the future is established.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


1 Peter 3:8-9 All of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 

            The saying “to walk a mile in his shoes” means to experience the same life of another person. If you walk together and experience life together you become sympathetic to the sufferings and joys of the other person. You have experienced them at the same time. Because of this shared experience a new relationship becomes possible.

 This is what we call having sympathy with another person. We share such sympathy when someone dies. Each person experiences the same human loss; and they go through a similar grieving process. Sympathy results when two or more people share the same effects of an event. A slightly different experience is meant by the word empathy.

Empathy is described as an action of understanding. It means that you are aware of or sensitive to the feelings of the other person. You experience the pain or joy of the other person by their telling recounting the event and their emotional reaction to you. This means you experience the emotions, thoughts, and joy/terror through your relationship with the speaker.
            It is important to learn the skill of being empathetic. You learn to participate in someone else’s emotions and thoughts. In this way you are not feeling their emotions but rationally understanding the emotions they are experiencing. The counselor is free from the emotional experience of the counselee to speak truth, wisdom and knowledge to the other. This distance enables both parties to accomplish their goals. The counselor can speak truth to the situation while the counselee can know that direction, information, support and help are offered for their situation. 

Friday, April 17, 2015


Proverbs 8:12-14 I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil… I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. 

Many Christian counselors believe that counseling belongs to the work of the church. Scripture depicts the spiritually lost, the sinners, demon possessed, adulterous, the mentally disturbed and the lame coming to Christ Jesus for healing. Since then, people have brought these same human conditions and needs to the pastors and priests for healing. “I believe counseling belongs in the church and that psychologists and psychiatrists should play the role of assistants to the Body of Christ in healing emotional disorders.”   (pg. 19, Telling The Truth To Troubled People)

The major premise of Christian counseling is that truth makes people free when they believe and obey it. Jesus says: “If you abide in my word…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Jesus shows us that the work of counseling is to replace false beliefs with the truths of Scripture. The Word of God is the basis for all counseling.

The work of counseling is to help the other person become better able to know, think, and embody the truth in their lives. Then they can attain real and lasting freedom from the results of false beliefs and behaviors that are neurotic and harmful to them.

“The Scriptures teach that we don’t have to be content with relative notions about truth. We can actually know ultimate truth about reality. In fact, we can even have a personal relationship with God himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we believe this, the Spirit of truth literally teaches us the truth through the Word of God. When a person come to believe the truth and actively cognizes it (uses it to live by), that person will experience emotional and behavioral consequences which are truly positive and healthful.”  (pg. 20, Telling The Truth To Troubled People)

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Proverbs 7:21-23 With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a [deer] is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver… he does not know that it will cost him his life. 

Christ has died and is resurrected. Because of him, we can have a connection to the Eternal God. We can be a member of the new community of forgiven. It is Christ Jesus who has made it possible for us to enter into a community with him and to connect to each other. This is wonderful but it does not happen often enough. Why?

Are we too ignorant to comprehend the possibilities he offers? No, our problem is foolishness. Foolishness is a by-product of deception. It is not that we are ignorant or mentally deficient. Foolishness tells us that what is bad, is good for us; and what is good, we become convinced is harmful.  This is moral stupidity, it is foolishness.

The Bible describes the fruit of our sinful nature clearly. But when we reflect on our lives it never looks so bad. Urges that are wrong seem to us to be quite innocent. Bad urges seem reasonable, in-style, justified, necessary or even the best thing for us.

Give in to your perception of life and you are trapped. Yield to the luster and you will be satisfied, for a moment. You will negotiate, seek reasons for and given in to “the flesh” as a slave. You learn to make life work on your terms and according to your preconceived notions. You become satisfied with your results, the pleasure you bring to your life.

Sin is independence from God. It is rebelling against God’s authority because we do not believe that his goodness is true. Sin depends on human resources and not God. Sin reduces our lives to manageable steps and to-do lists, removing the mystery that surrounds God’s providential care for us. Sin seeks to minimize risk in life to the exclusion of God’s love and care for us. Sin elevates our physical and emotional satisfaction above God’s plan for our lives. Sin is death to the soul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Jesus says that we will be disappointed if we search for ourselves in the natural world. “Simon the fisherman could have explored every region of his ego prior to his encounter with Christ but he would not have found ‘Peter’ there” The true identity of Peter, the man created to preplace Simon, was “hidden in the mystery of Christ’s soul.” (pg. 38, Connecting)

If advice or instruction is at the center of our programs we will not heal many hearts and souls. The power to influence lives does not come from our efforts or the efforts of others to obey our words. Power is not unleashed when we explain how their messed up lives are in violation of God’s standards, His law.

A community of healing does not rest on getting people to do what is right. It does not depend on analyzing the psychological forces causing the problems and then trying to fix what is broken. A community that heals is one that believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a community that “provides forgiveness of all sin, a guaranteed future of perfect community forever, and the freedom now to indulge the deepest desires of our hearts, because the law of God is written within us – we have an appetite for holiness. Communities heal when they focus on releasing what’s good.”

The center of a forgiven person is not sin but the capacity to connect to others within the community. As members of the community of Christ we experience the fruit of Christ’s life here and now. The calling, therefore, of the healing community is to lure others into this community for their healing and God’s glory.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Proverbs 5:1-2 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.
            God is known for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Throughout Scripture God used ordinary men and women to affect his kingdom in extraordinary ways.

            There is one factor that sets these types of people apart. Looking carefully at them, you can see something they had in common. The people God uses are people with responsive hearts that are ready and willing to listen to God. Also, they have made their lives available to obey God at his word. In essence they shared an integrity to honor God above man.

            Often times we think that ability and talent is a requirement to being used by God. Accomplishments, awards and recognition seem to be the goals of many who want to be used by God. In fact, these attributes more often than not become a hindrance to being used by God. That is because these attributes are man-made or bestowed according to worldly values.

            Simply put, only two things are required to make the ordinary into extraordinary: a man and the Almighty God. A covenant relationship between the two, united in the life and work of Christ Jesus makes the extraordinary out of the ordinary. God’s nature alone brings out the extraordinary from human fallen nature. What God touches becomes special because the Creator has interacted with His creature.

            Each side has a role to play in this transformational relationship. Unlike human relationships that fail because of one or the other participant, God never fails. God is faithful regardless of our unfaithfulness. Before God uses us, we must reflect what David wrote: “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”.  (Psalm 51:16-17)

Monday, April 13, 2015


Proverbs 4:20-23 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings… For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. 

Over the last few decades medical research has focused on the way the brain influences our behavior. Childhood misbehaviors have been treated with drugs like Ritalin. Mood swings, once seen as a result of a bad day at work, are treated with antidepressant medications or natural herbs. There is a growing sense among doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists that the real cause of behavior is the brain’s chemical make-up. Today, alcohol abuse is a disease, not the result of poor choices or behavior.

As Christians, we must struggle to make sense of these medical findings and theories in light of the truth of Scripture. Biblical theology is our lens through which Christians are to interpret all such scientific research and their findings. The facts of Scripture give us a starting point from which to begin our understanding. We are created by God as a unity of spirit (heart) and body.

          The categories of heart and body “allow us to distinguish between sin and sickness. Any behavior that does not conform to biblical commands or any behavior that transgresses biblical prohibitions proceeds from the heart and is sin. Any behavior that is more accurately called a weakness proceeds from the body and is sickness or suffering. Sickness or suffering can also be caused by specific sin, but we must be very careful to have ample justification before we make such a link.” (pg.43, Blame It On The Brain?)

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

          Let’s face it, nobody likes change. It can be costly, painful, uncomfortable, maddening and downright awful to experience change. But change is what people need. Everyone needs to change. As sinners facing eternity with a holy God, change is of the utmost importance. 

          Having faced the decision to change we can be sure that there is someone who can assist us. God, himself, will make change possible for us. The Holy Spirit is the agent who brings change to us and makes it possible for us to change. With His help we can make plans to change and begin the process. Change requires our participation and effort. When things seem impossible to accomplish the Holy Spirit will make it possible for us to change. 

            Learn to change. Prepare your minds for action. God wants us to think as He thinks. Prepare your will to be self-controlled. God requires that we soberly face the work ahead. Prepare your eyes to focus. God expects us to see grace as the avenue to our change.

            Transformation comes also from having the right attitude. You can make a plan but if you are focused on your own resources for making change occur, you will fail. God understands completely what needs to happen and how change can occur. Transformation entails your looking to Him in prayer to guide and enable you to change.

            Peter was told by Jesus to “Follow me!” Only in following Christ would Peter find the life and power to live a full life. Peter was changed by the Holy Spirit. In his letter Peter says that planning is an integral part of change. “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Saturday, April 11, 2015


John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

          Have you ever watched people receiving awards? They all say that they owe their accomplishment to someone in particular. That someone is often a spouse, parent, coach or mentor. Rarely do you hear someone give credit to God for their life and their success.

          Christians, on the other hand, owe their entire lives to Christ. Now and forever they are indebted to Him who redeemed them from sin and death. Sure there were people involved in our lives and people who helped bring about our future. But the ultimate source of all that has come into our lives for good is God.

          Being born again is the personal acknowledgement of the truth that Christ has chosen us. We have not chosen and pursued him. The Bible teaches us that Christ first chose us, appointed us, and instructs us to bear fruit that will last. The fruit we bear will last for eternity. We are branches engrafted by the Father into the living tree we know as Jesus Christ. He is the source of our entire new life.   (The Man God Uses, Blackaby)

Friday, April 10, 2015


Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.  

          What is the common element among the following: rock band groupies, urban gangs, church denominations, school clubs, Democrats, football fans, black leather jackets, and Republicans? They all have to do with identity. We humans want to be identified with something or someone. From the time when we were young children we have learned to think in terms of our names, our parents and our schools as those things which help shape our identity. They define and classify us in life.

          Identity is important to us, so important that we will even submit ourselves to negative or criminal behavior to “be somebody”. Identity is central to our life work and calling. The problem we face with identity as Christians is that the culture around us influences how we define ourselves.

          Identity is not something that comes from within us. It is something that is given. Adam was given his identity by God, his Creator. Adam was formed by God and told by Him what he would do with his life. God did not place Adam or Eve in the Garden of Eden telling them to search deep within yourself to find who you are. God communicated with them and said that they were made for a purpose. Their purpose was determined by God.

          The image of God in man is central to our identity. Christ in us, as Christians, is the new image we display. The Holy Spirit works in us to help us understand and exhibit our new identity in Christ. More and more as we obediently and faithfully follow Christ’s teaching we become more Christ-like. This is our true identity as humans, as Christians. In Jesus, the old has gone and the new has arisen.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Joshua 24:15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

            To help us understand sin, God gives a story depicting an event that perfectly describes sin for us. It is the events surrounding the lives of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The focal point of this story is the questioning of God’s Word. The sin was not committed in the questioning or discussion about God’s command. The sin was in the action taken as related to God’s prohibition of eating the forbidden truth. Adam and Eve wrestled with the questions brought to them by Satan. Their engaging Satan in the discussion about what should and should not be eaten was not the sin.

            Often times we are confronted with a choice that brings a question to mind about God’s Word. Back and forth we go in our minds about which decision should be made. We ask ourselves what God meant or what he prohibits us from doing. The questioning and the struggle are not sin. We must engage in this debate to find the true course of action. Unlike Adam and Eve, we need to invite God into the debate. One of their mistakes was to engage in this discussion between themselves and Satan without allowing God into the decision process.

            They both knew what God had said. Satan knew what God said. What Satan did was played on their freedom to choose between the right and the wrong way to obey God. Satan denied God was truthful to them. He caused them to question God’s goodness in this prohibition. He opened the door to doubt and led them to act upon their doubts about God.

            Sin is acting without faith, living in disobedience to God’s will for our lives. It can be a subtle move from faith into doubt and disobedience. The best defense against Satan is to invite God into the decision process. That will guarantee the right decision is made and sin is defeated.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Joshua 24:1-13 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.  And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out. 

Eighteen times in these verses Joshua recounts what God has done for Israel from its inception. “I took…I gave…I sent…I plagued…I did…I brought…I gave…I destroyed…I delivered…” The words of “the Lord, the God of Israel” clearly explain to the people gathered before Joshua that He had made their very existence that day possible. From the first promise spoken to Abraham through the conquest of the Promised Land, the Lord God of Israel had fulfilled every promise to His people.

Joshua has described God’s gracious acts of election, creating a people through salvation history. To the seeing-eye, God is the one who is bound to protect those to whom He has promised protection. He provided for them throughout their history. God is personally committed to Israel. His love for them motivates his actions and demands a similar response from those who are the objects of his love. His love for Israel is so grate the he wants their undivided love in return.

Salvation history is not dependent upon a reward for the proper behavior of God’s people. God chose to act in his own freedom in the hope that the people he delivered from bondage would freely respond by choosing to serve Him. God’s words are a call to discipleship, a call to hear and a call to obey in faithfulness. It is a call to loyalty to the Lord, the God of Israel. Salvation history is the instrument for decision making by the child of God.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Joshua 23:15-16a But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, 

            Despite Israel’s triumphs, she had one nagging problem. Her enemies remained in the land God had given her. She has the land. That battle is over. The final task is to confront the remaining enemy, temptation.

            Israel saw the hand of God fulfilling his promises, but constantly placing a new task before his people. This time the task is not in military terms but rather in terms of obedience. The enemy within can only be routed by trusting in God and obeying Him alone.

            The foreign people living among them serve many gods. Israel served one God, Yahweh. Avoiding contact and social interchange with these people would ensure their devotion to the one, true God. Avoiding them meant they would also avoid the temptation to act and to believe as they did.

            Israel’s uniqueness is in this fact. God’s claim to absolute allegiance of his people proves the unique nature of Israel. This view of the world sets them apart from the other nations. The nations had multiple gods with one or two gods serving over the rest. Israel’s God, Yahweh, claimed to fulfill all the functions for which other nations needed a multitude of gods.

God does not force himself upon Israel. But when they ignore his claims, his covenant and his faithfulness, then they will find God’s punishment.  God refuses to drive out all the people Israel had conquered.

In leaving some to live among Israel, God gives Israel the opportunity to display her love and commitment to Him freely. God has already done his part to deserve and receive our love. 

Monday, April 6, 2015


Joshua 23:2-3 Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. 

Covenant theology is the central theme in Joshua’s message to the people. The God of the Covenant to Abraham, Moses and Joshua is the God of Israel. He alone has made possible what they are now experiencing in the Promised Land.

Joshua’s message recounts the past promises and the past warnings of punishment for disobedience that God has fulfilled. His message repeats a common theme of reminding the people of the blessings and curses that accompany God’s promises to them.

This chapter defines Israel by her history with God. From the Fall, to the exodus from Egypt, through the Wilderness wanderings and now after the successful battles to take the Promised Land, Israel is the people for whom God fights against all the nations. He fulfills his promise to be with them. Without His presence and His victories Israel has no identity.

Rest is not the final word for life in the land. Temptation lurks in the presence of the gods of the peoples who remain living among the Israelites. Blessings will last only as long as they remain totally faithful to Yahweh, God. When Israel begins to experiment with other gods, trying to be like the other nations and worship every god possible, their downfall is imminent. For them doom meant loss of the land and aimless wandering, destruction, death and the scattering of the people. Death is separation from God.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Joshua 22:11-12 And the people of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel.” And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.

            The land God promised to Moses and subsequently to Joshua was the land of the Canaanites. This was an area of land bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the mountainous desert areas to the east. From the north, the land extended from Mount Hermon to the southern areas around the Dead Sea. This area was divided, west from east, by the Jordan River. The area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea was considered the Promised Land “proper”. The areas to the east of the Jordan and to the north beyond the Sea of Galilee were viewed by the Israelites as outside the “Promised Land”.

            The tribes in the outlying areas were of special concern to those in the Promised Land. Within these areas remained peoples who could influence those tribes that settled there. Of most concern was the influence of pagan worship and cultural practices on those settlers.

            The altar that Ruben, Gad and Manasseh constructed in the land they settled was a reminder of God’s provision of the land and that they were still a part of the greater group of Israelites. Yet when the altar was constructed the other tribes jumped to the conclusion that they had fallen under the influence of the pagan tribes around them.

            When confronted with the accusation of apostasy the tribes were quick to show their faith and trust in God. They presented their case and called on God to make their position clear to Phinehas and the other leaders.

In the end, Phinehas and the leaders were given the wisdom of God to see and understand that their first impression of the evidence was incorrect. They submitted themselves to the truth and were again reconciled with their brothers. The Promised Land was reunited in their testimony to the Living God. 

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