Category Archives: Counseling

Under New Management

Struggling with a bad habit? Maybe it’s alcohol, or gambling, or pornography, or an out-of-control temper.

Many professing Christians assume that having been saved, the battle with sin is now over. Sure, they try to avoid a few “really bad” sins. But exempt from eternal punishment, they are pretty much free to live however they want.

This is a serious misunderstanding of God’s grace, leading to many bad habits. It gives Satan a foothold into our lives and lets sin ascend back onto the throne of our hearts.

In our latest podcast, we learn from Romans 6:12-19 that salvation is not so much a declaration of independence (allowing us to live however we want) as it is a transfer of ownership (from the bondage of sin to the righteous rule of Christ). Only when we view ourselves as slaves of Christ will we be able to overcome the bondage of sin.

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Conference on The Gospel & Mental Illness

Here’s a conference coming up in October that I would highly recommend. Mental illness and PTSD are growing concerns in our area and probably yours too. I pray for the day when our church will have a team of skilled counselors (some of our own members!) who can minister the gospel and help the needs of our neighbors struggling with mental illness.

ACBC

 2014 Annual Conference
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly NANC)
Grace Community Church — Sun Valley, CA
October 6-8, 2014

We live in a broken world, beset with overwhelming problems: disease, pain, death, sorrow, sin and mental illness–clinical depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, and panic attacks. Our culture assumes people diagnosed with mental illness are stuck, doomed to struggle for the rest of their lives against a problem without ever experiencing real and lasting change.

As Christians we know better. The world is broken, but God has invaded that world with the power, light, and hope of his Son Jesus Christ. Whether you’re tormented with panic attacks or thinking of committing suicide, Jesus can help. We want to show the church how Jesus brings healing to those experiencing the most extreme problems of mental illness.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr. John MacArthur
  • Dr. Heath Lambert
  • Dr. Charles Hodges
  • Dr. David Powlison
  • Dr. Bob Somerville

Breakout Sessions include:

  • Child Discipline that Disciples
  • Dealing with Anger in a Godly Way
  • Fear and Worry – the “Acceptable” Sins
  • Understanding Emotions Biblically
  • Seven Ways God Uses Trials to Lovingly Transforms Us
  • Singles and Their Relationships
  • Understanding Depression
  • And Much More!

Early Bird Registration for this three-day conference is as low as $131 for ACBC Certified Members and $156 for Full-time Students. For details and pricing, check out the conference website.

Too Deep?

3401461484_864c71e54f_z“[In 2 Timothy 3:16-17], Paul is telling Timothy that the Scriptures are able to equip him totally for each ministry he will ever have to perform. Counseling is clearly one of those good works Paul had in mind when he wrote these assuring words to Pastor Timothy.

” ‘Yes, but aren’t some problems too deep for a pastor to handle?’

“Those problems are usually too deep for a pastor not to handle: ‘For the Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even the division of soul and spirit …’ (Heb. 4:12). You cannot get to a deeper part of human personality than the division of soul and spirit. ‘… and it (Scripture) is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ You cannot get to a deeper level of human motivation than the thoughts and intents (or motives) of the heart. Only a man of God equipped with Scripture is capable of discerning those deeper thoughts and motivations. All that is necessary to equip the pastor to fulfill his ministry of changing people is found in the Bible.

-Lou Priolo on “Presupposition Four: The Bible and Psychology,” The Journal of Modern Ministry 2.1, p. 65.

Photo credit: Leol30

Finding Freedom from Addiction

Last week, Colorado and Washington State took a bold step and legalized marijuana for recreational use. How should we react? Should we celebrate the private liberty of individuals to do what they want with their own bodies? Or should we mourn the fact that drug abuse and possession by minors will likely increase?

Let’s take a step back from marijuana for a moment. The fact is, we already have plenty of addictive substances that are fully “legal” in our culture. Alcohol can be addictive. Nicotine can be addictive. Prescription drugs can be addictive. Even comfort foods can be addictive. And let’s not forget other activities like gambling, pornography, shopping, and video games.

 If there is anything you find yourself constantly craving — that you can’t live without or that you would do anything to get — you are struggling with an addiction. It can be a miserable way to live.

Thankfully, the Bible offers great hope for addicts. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

This verse offers three basic steps for addicts: 

  1. Remember you are not alone. Your temptation is “common to mankind.” It is shared by thousands of others. Whatever your struggle, know that you are not the first to face this temptation, and you will not be the last. Other people have beaten this habit, and so can you. 
  2. Trust in God. He is faithful and can give you the power to say “no.” Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord receive strength from above. “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). 
  3. Look for an escape route. Addicts can feel like they’re being held hostage against their will. But God says there is always a “way out.” The Bible, the Holy Spirit, godly friends, and a loving church are just some of the keys God provides to unlock those handcuffs and escape the bondage of sin. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

The legalization of marijuana may continue to be fiercely debated. But this much is clear: addiction is something we all struggle with. And only God can give us the power to say no and follow Him.

This article first appeared in today’s edition of our local newspaper, the Hi Desert Star

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net