Shameful Memories

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 

Genesis 3:6-10, ESV

There is a good chance that some of your memories are pretty awful. When we get looking back we can see shameful, dark things.  Some of us carry things that are profoundly evil, and they go with us wherever we go. It’s no secret that  guilt and mental illness travel hand in hand, for they are brothers. They have tormented us for ta erribly long time. They are like playground bullies who have no fear– they  only have hatred for us.

I’m quite convinced that the only way to move on is to have Jesus Christ to fully cleanse you; and that includes your dark humiliations.  The human tendency is for concealment. We take considerable effort to conceal and cloak our past lives. (Both Adam and Eve understood personal shame.)

I remember back when my dad discovered that one of our dogs had killed a chicken.  He took that dead chicken and wired it around that dog’s neck. That dog wore that chicken for weeks.  It was awful, and it began to putrefy. The smell was terrible.  I can still see that dog, staggering and tongue lolling out and slobbering.  My dad said it was the only cure for a “chicken killer.”  The dog would get very sick, attached to this rotting carcass.  It was sobering lesson for a boy to see.

Somehow, that is what our past disgrace has done to us.  Sure we have moments when we can almost forget.  But, for the most part, it is just a temporary reprieve.  We slide back and rediscover the pain; it’s just waiting for us.   The cost on our mental health is staggering.  Many of us are driven in a mad movement to drugs and alcohol.  We are compelled to escape the pain, and for a little while it seems to work. (This is called “co-morbidity.” Which is ‘fancy talk’ for a dual problem.)

Most of us, would quickly trade this mental pain, this misery;  for a physical one. Something shameful that was done 20 or 30 years ago continues its destructive work.  It’s like filling a bucket with corrosive acid.  It will “eat” its way out.  Our conscience will not allow us to dispose of our self-disgust in this easy, cavalier manner.  We need a ‘hazmat’ crew to help us clean-up mentally and spiritually.

You have to forgive yourself.  You must (!), or you will destroy yourself and those closest to you as well.  Often these things are a moldy wall; they seem to just need a coat of paint. Our problem is that it will only cover for a short time.  After 20-30 layers are applied, we realize this isn’t really the answer. Nothing we can do is ever enough.  We must have Jesus– we must!

A full repentance is critical. Don’t scuff off this first step.  The blood of Jesus isn’t some nicety. It is foundational for salvation. We are to, by faith, start the obedience. Our blistering sin and guilt are absorbed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. He took away every ounce of sin. believe that and freedom is yours.

No matter what the sin it is forgiven.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

 
 

Choosing a +Christian+ Counselor

 Written by “Holly,”
“In my search for a counselor, I visited a secular psychologist, read books written by extremist biblical counselors, and had tearful talks with my own general practitioner. I wish I had known then what TYPES of Christian counselors were out there and how on earth I could find help I could trust and afford.”

Why Educate Yourself about Christian Counseling?

Perhaps you do not suffer from depression, have a great marriage, kids seem to be doing okay, everything is fine. Why should you look into various types of Christian counsel?

1) Think of a Christian counselor as an invaluable resource, much like the family lawyer, pediatrician, or accountant. When problems arise, wouldn’t it be nice to already have the information you need regarding local counseling services?

2) It’s always a good idea to have information at hand so that you can guide distraught friends and family members to a trusted counselor who can offer biblical guidance and support.

If you are a believing Christian, I MUST recommend seeking a Christian counselor.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”

Ephesians 2:19

The Problem with Secular Counsel

Many secular counselors will take your faith into consideration when treating you. However, as citizens of heaven, seeking counsel from a non-Christian is much like seeking counsel from someone who doesn’t speak your language…and he or she does not speak yours. Progress and inroads could be made, but in the long run, little will be accomplished.

There is wisdom and truth from godly counsel:

“The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong.”

Psalm 37:30

Find a Christian who is a professional counselor. There are a number of directories on the internet. Each individual counselor is different from the next, however, and you will need to interview any counselor before you decide to use his or her services.

If Possible, Find a Specialist

You may wish to choose a counselor who specializes in a specific area. There a number of issues for which people seek counsel, including:

  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Anger Management
  • Anxiety
  • Coping with Stress
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional trauma
  • Family therapy
  • Financial difficulties
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Major life changes
  • Marital discourse
  • Mental illness
  • Pain management
  • Parenting issues
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Pre-marital counseling
  • Relationship conflict
  • Religious doubt/ confusion
  • Self-esteem
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual/ intimacy difficulties

The first thing to consider when choosing a Christian counselor is whether or not they are capable or qualified to handle the particular issue you seek counsel for. A marriage counselor may not be the best person to go to if your thirteen year old daughter is battling anorexia. This seems like a given; however, be sure your counselor has experience handling your specific issue.

Decide whether or not you would feel more comfortable seeing a man or a woman for your particular problem.

Seek a Licensed Professional

Also, if you seek counsel outside of your church, make sure your counselor is a licensed professional. I suggest finding a professional who holds a minimum of a master’s degree in their field of study, who has completed the required number of supervised hours, and who has passed your state’s examination to become a licensed counselor.

Remember that most counselors employed by churches are Professional counselors, but few are not. A church counselor should be qualified through their educational experience, should have some sort of license or certification that enables them to counsel (generally they have a Christian counseling certification awarded from various Christian counseling training programs or colleges.)

Interview Your Prospective Counselor BEFORE Your First Session

Going into a counseling session before you know where your counselor is coming from can be dangerous, especially when you are in a vulnerable emotional position unable to clearly think or discern the counsel you receive.

Before your first session, make the counselor shares your faith and concerns about the issue at hand. If possible, bring a trusted companion along to get their opinion about the practice you are considering.

Some questions to ask your potential counselor are:

  • What is your Christian counseling approach?
  • Do they adhere strictly to biblical counseling or do they consider psychological approaches as well?
  • Will they work with your psychiatrist and or doctor?
  • What license or certification do you have? Is it from an accredited college? A Christian college? A training program?
  • Are you affiliated with any particular Christian counseling organization?
  • How do you integrate the bible into your counseling sessions?
  • How do your incorporate prayer into your counseling practice?
  • Do you have experience counseling people with (insert the issue for which you seek counsel)?
  • What is your payment structure?
  • Will my insurance cover my sessions with you?
  • What is your view on psychoanalysis, medication treatments for psychological ailments, and other scientific approaches to mental illness?

If you have an opportunity to interview your potential counselor in his or her office, take a good look at the books on the bookshelves. The types of books displayed give you an excellent indication of the types of counsel you will receive.

Before you make your final decision, pray on it, consult your Bible, and if possible, talk to your trusted general practitioner before seeking therapy.

Recap:

Educate yourself about the various types of Christian counselors. When finding a Christian counselor, remember to find a licensed, experienced CHRISTIAN professional capable of addressing your specific issue. Interview your prospective counselor before attending your first session. Go prepared with a series of questions that will help your gain knowledge about the kind of counsel you will be receiving. Prayerfully consider whether or not you and the counselor are a good fit.

 

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Taken from a great website for believers with issues:

http://www.getoutofthestorm.com

Love is On the Loose

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His Love is beyond anything we know

“Cross Jesus one too many times, fail too often, sin too much, and God will decide to take his love back. It is so bizarre, because I know Christ loves me, but I’m not sure he likes me, and I continually worry that God’s love will simply wear out.

Periodically, I have to be slapped in the face with Paul’s words in Romans 8:38-39, ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Michael Yaconelli, “Messy Spirituality

I admit I live with a continuous fear that God’s love has limits.  That someday, I will sin myself beyond a Savior’s reach.  It nags on me and betrays me.  The fear that I will end up on some spiritual “junk heap” is real, and it is pervasive. I guess it has to do with the unbelievable richness  of God’s fantastic grace.

This doubt accentuates my depression, aggravating it and poisons my whole being.  I feel worthless and so alone.  Since my particular struggle is with paranoia, I end up bringing that with me into the throne room.  Kids who have been beaten by their fathers often visibly flinch when Dad raises his arm to scratch his head.  They cower and duck out of habit, waiting for the blows.

Our heavenly Father has gone out of his way to make the gospel truly good news.  We often have to be convinced of a love that cannot be diluted by the stuff of life.  And we who are the wounded and paranoid need that assurance.  We are loved with a love of such quality and quantity, and such magnificence that all we can scream is “GRACE!”

As broken people we must come and allow ourselves to be loved with this outrageous love.  Our depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, BPD, OCD, and schizophrenia are not insurmountable issues.  We are sick, we admit it.  We are different than other people (“the norms”).  But the Father delights in us.  He especially loves his lambs who are weak and frightened.

 

ybic, Bryan

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Heart Disease

Hearts 168457_154905807894473_110794108972310_320156_2061498_n“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

Jeremiah 17:9, NLT

We are the wounded. What exactly has caused it isn’t always known.  A death, divorce, depression and disability are great triggers.  Some of us are chronically ill, others are mentally ill.  We struggle to hold a job, and to go to church. There are some who are reading this who are controlled by addictions.  And a few of us consider suicide on pretty much a regular basis.

We’ve been hospitalized and stigmatized, and sometimes even institutionalized. And at times we endure massive attacks of fear and anxiety.  We are not easily understood, and we hear the whispers.  Our paranoia can often saturate what what we are thinking, (I think its more like a “marinade.”  Our brains just soak it up.)  Most of us are ‘walking wounded.’ We limp physically, and figuratively with equal pain.

“For thus says the LORD: Your hurt is incurable,
    and your wound is grievous.”

Jeremiah 30:12, ESV

If we are honest (and God insists on a rigorous honesty) we realize that we are a mess!  The prophet Jeremiah had a tremendous understanding of the human condition, and was never beguiled by the lie of pride, arrogance and selfishness.  He declares that we are diseased down to the core, like a rotten apple.

At times we continue in our favorite style of darkness.  And havoc sporadically rips through us and we become “disaster areas.”  How very sad, and profoundly tragic.

But you must understand this powerful fact.  Jesus Christ has been sent by the Father to save and cleanse all who come to Him.

“At that time a fountain will be open for David’s descendants and for the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them of their sin and uncleanness.”

Zechariah 13:1, NCV

“Children, it’s time for a bath,” and what God has done provides us the only way to “get better.” Some of us have carried staggering burdens for decades.  But I must be truthful. Our afflictions may continue to disturb us.  If you are bipolar or depressed, it just could be you’ll remain so.  But I know first-hand that our Father will give us an extra ration of grace.

In the Old Testament, family patriarchs could give an additional portion to a son he especially loved.  All were blessed, but some more so. That peculiar proclivity of our Father is why some of us with deep wounds can follow closer than others who are healthy.

“For I am the LORD, your healer.” Ex. 15:26

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“The treatment a wound gets decides whether time will bring healing or bondage.”

&

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion. (Lord, have mercy on each reader)

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God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle

I have cried many tears in my life. If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:

Record my lament;
       list my tears on your scroll —
       are they not in your record? (NIV)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle
         Are they not in Your book? (NASB)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
      You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)

Write down my poem of sadness.
      List my tears on your scroll.
      Aren’t you making a record of them? (NIRV)

I love the image of God keeping all my tears in a bottle. I can envision shelves filled with bottles in Heaven, each with a name on it, and an accompanying scroll documenting every tear and lament. Or maybe it is just one huge bottle with all of our tears mingled together.

Today tears are being shed in dark rooms where children are being held as sex slaves, in Africa as people remain homeless and without food and water, in the United States as many remain jobless, in hospitals and on the streets where the mentally ill are forgotten, in homes around the world where people are spiritually lost and have no hope.

We live in a fallen world. Tragedies happen and humans are not always kind to one another. And so tears are shed. It is hard to fathom God collecting every single one, but He does. He notices and He records each tear and each lament.

The more I think about it, I like the idea that God has mingled all our tears together. The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. And if He has collected every tear in that bottle, then mingled with our own are the tears of Jesus. In John 11, the apostle records this event: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

In this passage, Jesus weeps when He learns of the death of Lazarus.

When they see Him weeping, the people say “See how he loved him!” John 11:36. But I don’t think Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead – He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Rather, I think He wept because of the compassion He felt for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.

So if you weep today, remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior. Not only that, but God will deliver you from the final trial that lead to tears by redeeming your soul.

For you, O LORD, have delivered 
   my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:8-9 (NIV).

 

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Linda’s blog is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/ Please check out all she has to say.  Linda tells me that it is absolutely guaranteed to bless, or your money back!

24/7 Crisis Lines

List of Hotlines–1-800 Phone Numbers

In general, hotlines have three things in common:

1) they are available to call 24/7
2) they are 100% confidential
3) they are free

Here’s a list of hotlines that may help you in whatever situation you find yourself in:

Christian Counseling Services-General

New Life Clinics 1-800-NEW-LIFE
National Prayer Line 1-800-4-PRAYER
Bethany Lifeline Pregnancy Hotline 1-800-BETHANY
Liberty Godparent Ministry 1-800-368-3336
Grace Help Line 24 Hour Christian service 1-800-982-8032
The 700 Club Hotline 1-800-759-0700
Want to know Jesus? 1-800-NEED-HIM
Biblical help for youth in crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME
Rapha National Network 1-800-383-HOPE
Emerge Ministries 330-867-5603
Meier Clinics 1-888-7-CLINIC or 1-888-725-4642
Association of Christian Counselors 1-800-526-8673
Minirth Clinic 1-888-MINIRTH (646-4784)
National Christian Counselors Association 1-941-388-6868
Pine Rest 1-800-678-5500
Timberline Knolls 1-877-257-9611

Abortion
Post Abortion Counseling 1-800-228-0332
Post Abortion Project Rachel 1-800-5WE-CARE
National Abortion Federation Hotline 1-800-772-9100
National Office of Post Abortion Trauma 1-800-593-2273

Abuse

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Stop it Now! 1-888-PREVENT
United States Elder Abuse Hotline 1-866-363-4276
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
Child Abuse Hotline / Dept of Social Services 1-800-342-3720
Child Abuse National Hotline 1-800-25ABUSE
Children in immediate danger 1-800-THE-LOST
Exploitation of Children 1-800-843-5678
Missing Children Help Center 1-800-872-5437

Addiction

Marijuana Anonymous 1-800-766-6779
Alcohol Treatment Referral Hotline (24 hours) 1-800-252-6465
Families Anonymous 1-800-736-9805
Cocaine Hotline (24 hours) 1-800-262-2463
Drug Abuse National Helpline 1-800-662-4357
National Association for Children of Alcoholics 1-888-554-2627
Ecstasy Addiction 1-800-468-6933
Alcoholics for Christ 1-800-441-7877

Cancer

American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345
National Cancer institute 1-800-422-6237

Caregivers
Elder Care Locator 1-800-677-1116
Well Spouse Foundation 1-800-838-0879

Chronic Illness/Chronic Pain

Rest Ministries 1-888-751-REST (7378)

Crisis Numbers for Teens (Under 18)
Girls and Boys town 1-800-448-3000
Hearing Impaired 1-800-448-1833
Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-448-4663
Teen Hope Line 1-800-394-HOPE
Covenant House Nineline 1-800-999-9999

Crisis Numbers for Help (Any age)

United Way Crisis Helpline 1-800-233-HELP
Christian Oriented Hotline 1-877-949-HELP
Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213

Crisis Pregnancy Helpline
Crisis Pregnancy Hotline Number 1-800-67-BABY-6
Liberty Godparent Ministry 1-800-368-3336

Cult Information
Cult Hotline (Mercy House) 606-748-9961

Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE
National Domestic Violence Hotline Spanish 1-800-942-6908
Battered Women and their Children 1-800=603-HELP
Elder Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-8966
RAINN 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention 1-800-931-2237
Eating Disorders Center 1-888-236-1188
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 1-847-831-3438
Overcomers Outreach, Inc. 1-800-310-3001
Remuda Ranch 1-800-445-1900

Family Violence
Family Violence Prevention Center 1-800-313-1310

Gambling
Compulsive Gambling Hotline 410-332-0402

Grief/Loss
GriefShare 1-800-395-5755

Homeless/Shelters
Homeless 1-800-231-6946
American Family Housing 1-888-600-4357

Homosexual/Lesbian
Recovery: Exodus International 1-888-264-0877
Helpline: 1-800-398-GAYS
Gay and Lesbian National Hotline 1-888-843-4564
Trevor Hotline (Suicide) 1-866-4-U-TREVOR

Parents
Hotline for parents considering abducting their children 1-800-A-WAY-OUT
United States Missing Children Hotline 1-800-235-3535

Poison
Poison Control 1-800-942-5969

Runaways
Boystown National Hotline 1-800-448-3000
Covenant House Nineline 1-800-999-9999
Laurel House 1-714-832-0207
National Runaway Switchboard 1-800-621-4000
Teenline 1-888-747-TEEN
Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-448-4663

Salvation
Grace Help Line 24 Hour Christian Service 1-800-982-8032
Want to know Jesus? 1-888-NEED-HIM

Self-Injury, “Cutting”
S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) 1-800-DONT-CUT

Sexual Addiction
Focus on the Family 1-800-A-FAMILY

Suicide
Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-827-7571
Deaf Hotline 1-800-799-4TTY
NineLine 1-800-999-9999
Holy Spirit Teenline  1-800-722-5385
Crisis Intervention 1- 888- 596-4447
Crisis Intervention 1-800-673-2496


Mostly, these are Christian ministries that are there when life gets challenging.  Use these phone numbers wisely, and I would encourage you to pray for the counseling you.  Also, I am not able to check each number.  These numbers are to be used with some precaution as a result.

This list isn’t complete yet.  If you have a contact that isn’t here, please email me that information.  I’m Bryan Lowe at flash99603@hotmail.com.

Living as a Sexual Abuse Survivor

The problem of childhood sexual abuse is not new. Millions of adults bear the emotional scars, and continue to secretly carry the emotional burden, of abuse that occurred twenty, thirty, or even forty years ago. It is common for clients in their 40’s to come to counseling and say “I have never told this to anyone before…”.

Children are, by nature, innocent, trusting, and vulnerable. When a child is abused, the abuse is NEVER the child’s fault, but children — in an attempt to use their limited understanding of the world to make sense of what has happened to them — almost always believe that they either caused or deserved the abuse. Many of them carry their misguided sense of shame and guilt into adulthood. Many successful, seemingly well-adjusted adults continue to suffer the far-reaching effects of abuse: low self-esteem or lack of confidence, difficulty trusting others, isolation, or alienation, depression, anxiety, anger, chronic relationship problems, difficulty with emotional or physical intimacy, promiscuity, self-injury, alcohol or drug use, or overeating.

A history of childhood sexual abuse does not automatically mean a life full of suffering, however. The extent to which abuse affects an individual varies significantly, depending on the severity of the abuse, the duration of the abuse, and the relational context of the abuse (who the abuser was). Many people who were abused as children struggle with spiritual isses as well as the psychological and emotional ones. They may question how a loving God could allow something like that to happen to a child, may be angry with God for allowing it to happen, or may even believe that God intentionally inflicted the abuse on them as punishment. Part of the healing journey may include looking at these spiritual questions and finding a deeper spiritual understanding of yourself, God, and the world.

Regardless of how childhood abuse has affected your life, you can experience both healing from your past and growth for your future. If you have been silently suffering the pain or shame of past abuse, a confidential relationship with a caring professional counselor can help you find freedom and relief. If painful memories from the past are robbing you of a life of happiness and meaningful relationships, counseling can help you face the past, find healing in the present, and claim abundant life for your future.

Sexual abuse can effect a marriage is so many ways: emotionally, spiritually and sexually. Sexual abuse is traumatic not only for the survivor but also for the survivor’s spouse if he/she doesn’t understand the impact of sexual abuse. I believe sex is a huge part in healing also. Having a healthy sex life after being sexually abused can happen. Separating the abuser from someone who loves you is a part of healing. Un-training yourself from what your abuser taught you is what it takes to make this happen. Your body is just that “your body” and you have the say in what does or doesn’t happen.

My sexual abuse is only part of me, not my whole life anymore. Victims and survivors have to change the way society deals with and handles sexual abuse. The truth shall set you free, the truth of sexual abuse. Once the truth comes out it sets you free of the bondage you have been in for so many years. Stare your sexual abuse straight in the eyes and let it know “you don’t scare me anymore”. It is such an awesome feeling!!

A question to ask oneself is, “Do you see yourself as God sees you?” God sees you as a child He made for a specific purpose and not one of those purpose’s was for any one of His children to be abused in any way, shape, or form. Reach out to Him and let him replace your pain with joy, your shame with sharing, your anger with forgiveness, your ugliness with beauty and your silence with your voice.

Source- New Reflections Counseling:  http://www.newreflectionscounseling.com/

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