Category Archives for "Life"

Called To Thrive - covering face
Apr 28

Take Off The Mask

By dougl1kj | Life , Walking Wounded


Called To Thrive - covering face

Why do we wear a mask? Often we are afraid to let people see who we really are. We might fear that if they really knew us with all of our imperfections they wouldn’t love us or accept us. Often we mistakenly believe that other people have it together and it’s just us that have the problems. So we try to get others to see us the way we see them…without problems.

In the last newsletter we talked about the “walking wounded” and outlined the process of healing through Biblical counseling. This month we are going to look more closely at the first step in that outline, taking off the mask. As a framework for this discussion, the following is the outline that was presented last month:

The Process of Healing through Biblical Counseling

Take off the MASK: We need to begin the healing process by being genuine and open about our pain.
Heal the WOUNDS: Just like physical wounds, emotional, spiritual and relational wounds need to be treated and healed.
Remove the TOXINS: Toxins are the false beliefs that result from unhealed wounds and a life of covering our pain with masks.
Replace with TRUTH: The Bible tells us we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We need to examine our life under the light of truth and replace the false and destructive beliefs with those that are true and healthy.

12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Does the veil remain for some in your church? Do you struggle with people in your church who just don’t seem to be growing and aren’t realizing the freedom they have in Christ? Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18. We are to be transformed to ever increasing degrees of glory into the image of Christ. “The image of Christ!” That is who we are called to be, if we would just take off the mask and allow God to transform us.

Unfortunately, too often it seems easier to be fake and hide behind various masks that we create to fit each of our roles in life. We chose the mask instead of facing the pain that has occurred in our life. We mistakenly believe that the pain of healing will be worse than the pain that we live with. Unfortunately this pain just seems to grow with each new failure, rejection or hurt. In my 15 years of working with hurting people, not one of them has ever gone through the process of healing and told me it wasn’t worth it. However, I have had many say they wish they had done it years earlier.

It seems so obvious that we need to face our pain and heal, so why do we often not do that. I believe it is because we are deceived. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” I believe it is time to expose this deception and let people know that there is help. At Grace Wellness Center we specialize in helping people find safe ways to take off the mask and begin to face the pain they are covering. Would you join us in this process and make our services available to your church? We would be happy to speak with you and tell you more about our ministry and how we can partner with you. If you would be interested in developing a ministry partnership with us, please contact us at 724-863-7223 or send us an email to learn how to get started with this process (

forest - Called to Thrive
Apr 21

Fighting God’s Will: Get Out Of The Way

By dougl1kj | Blog , Life

forest - Called to Thrive

Something you’ll probably notice if you walk into The Grace Wellness Center or follow any of our social media pages or blogs, is the emphasis on living an abundant life. As Christians, we are called to not just muddle through our days, but to live abundantly. We are born again in Christ, and are promised that God will provide for our needs and has a specific plan for our lives. So why does it seem that so many Christians are just waltzing through life, and struggling to find peace, joy, and purpose? Why are we not thriving?

Simon Peter was a good man. He was an apostle. He walked with Jesus and learned from Him first hand. Peter was the first to see Christ and the only apostle to have an individual meeting with Jesus following the resurrection. He was “the rock” that Jesus trusted to build the early Church. Yet when we look at Peter’s story throughout the Bible, there is a pattern; a pattern that I believe holds true in the lives of many Christians today. Peter couldn’t get out of the way.

Peter had a habit of being impetuous. He often spoke or acted without putting much thought into what he was doing and saying. He let his human emotions and personal thoughts cloud his perception, and he got in the way of God’s will. A good example of this is his questioning of Jesus in Matthew 16:23. Peter rebukes Christ and resists that the Messiah must suffer. Jesus responds by telling Peter, “you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. Other examples of Peter’s struggles include drawing his sword in anger when Jesus was arrested, and denying Christ in the courtyard of the high priest to protect himself. These were both actions that were driven by human emotions and personal thoughts and interests, instead of Spiritual wisdom.

If selfish thoughts and human emotions can trip Peter up, then it’s safe to assume Christians today can be stumped by similar thoughts and emotions. Think about your own life for a minute. In what areas of your life are you getting in the way of God’s will? What is preventing you from living an abundant life? What is preventing you from thriving?

Sometimes life is difficult. We all go through different struggles. Selfishly, we ask God, “why?” Here is something to remember. We only have our own understanding; a human understanding. We are ignorant of God’s plan and ways. We often decide to do what is in our own best interest, which is self-promoting. We interfere with God’s will because of our own limited self-perception, and therefore, we find it difficult to find this abundant life that God promises in Christ. So what can we do? Get out of the way.

Easier said than done, right? How do we get out of the way, start living abundantly and really thriving the way God wants us to? I have an idea on that. Prayer is a vital part of connecting with God. Constantly talking to God and seeking Him, we gain discernment and are able to separate our selfish thoughts and emotions, from His will and His plan for our lives. But even in prayer, many Christians allow their insecurities and negative thoughts to get in the way of their connecting with God, worrying about the right time to pray or what words to say. Scripture gives us guidance on this. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray (the Lord’s Prayer), with the focus being on God’s will coming to fruition. “Thy will be done,” is a powerful prayer that Jesus used even in Gethsemane when He set His own desires aside to accept and become God’s plan of salvation for humanity (Luke 22:42). God has given us a guidebook in the Bible, and an example to live by in Christ. Being in the Word consistently is also important for spiritual growth. God provides examples and stories in the Bible that teach us how to live and how to connect with Him. The more we connect with Him, the more we grow to trust Him, and the easier it becomes to get out of the way.

called to thrive - struggles
May 31

Integrated Wellness: My Personal Struggles, Successes, and the Relation to Family Therapy

By Jonathan Held | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Life , Wellness

Hi, my name is Jonathan Held, LCSW. Today I wanted to talk about my personal struggles, and successes with wellness and how family and/or couples therapy can fit into overall wellness.

First allow me to share with you some of the ways I have learned to bring wellness into my own life. I should start by saying that if you’re thinking why would I listen to this guy he thinks he has it all together, I can assure you that is not the case. Like most people, I struggle to maintain balance in my life. As a teenager I was probably about 100 pounds overweight. One of my greatest accomplishments was losing this weight; however, through most of my life I was rarely able to motivate myself to exercise. About one year ago (at 32 years of age) I discovered Beachbody and set a goal for myself that I would exercise six days a week for a year. I am happy to say that I achieved this goal and still continue to have daily exercise in my life. (I also – through Beachbody – have been turned onto Shakeology, which is what I am about to enjoy in this picture!). Like most accomplishments that stick, I did not try to do anything extreme, but instead attempted to bring balance by exercising 20 to 30 minutes a day and often modifying so as to not injure myself. You’re probably thinking wait a minute, I thought you were going to talk about family therapy – the tie in is this: setting small goals each day can sometimes produce the greatest results!

Other areas of life in which it is important to set (and maintain) small goals include family life, parenting, and romantic relationships/marriage. Generally speaking, I attempt to maintain a positive outlook on life and work towards maintaining positive relationships with all of those in my circle of influence – especially my immediate family. One of the best ways that I have found to do this is by making sure that each of my children – and my spouse – has a small amount of individualized attention each day, I will also attempt to have significant family time daily and weekly. Sometimes this can just be as simple as sitting down at the dinner table together, or going for a family walk/bike ride. The important goal is to maintain connection through family rituals.

In my practice, I often focus on relationships and the building of effective communication. I find that this can be a great step to maintaining overall wellness (I’m sure most of us can attest to the fact that we just don’t feel well – or make healthy choices – when we are not getting along well with our loved ones). The areas I am most passionate about  in practice are marriage and family. It surprises me how often couples and families state that they do not spend quality time together. I believe that part of the barrier to this is that we get stuck in negative patterns and ultimately avoid communication – which I believe is one of the magic pills to getting un-stuck in families (perhaps I should have said effective communication).

EFFECTIVE communication is where family therapy comes in. Through family work, I help others to communicate more effectively with each other, and help families to restructure in a way that children can thrive through an appropriate balance of structure and bonding/nurturing. One of the keys to this is helping parents discuss areas where they can more effectively align/work together to parent and to help talk with their children about emotional needs.

Of course family therapy is not the only focus – even in individual therapy, relationships (and wellness!) often become a part of the focus. Through assessment we will work together to determine areas of emotional stuckness in past/current relationships, work through ways to heal these hurts, and plan for ways to build and continue to maintain healthy relationships in the future.

One of the most important parts of therapy is YOU. Through counseling we will work together to help you come up with goals that make sense for your life (or your family) and establish a pace that works for you with an appropriate balance of pacing and challenging/meeting achievable goals. If you are ready to begin a journey towards healing and integrated wellness please call us at 724.863.7223 or you can email me directly at

called to thrive - dog fight
May 25

A Dog Fight

By Ron Agostoni | Blog , Counseling , Life , Walking Wounded , Wellness

called to thrive - dog fight

“That will teach them”.  Every utter that phrase? Ever experience that feeling of rage building inside of you, ready to explode out of your chest like something from the movie Alien.  Like an untamed wild animal gnawing at your mind and emotions. There’s that desire to tell someone off, cuss them out, or to slam on the accelerator speeding past the person who cut you off while “flipping the bird”. Like a dog tugging at its leash, it pulls you down, drags you about, and leads you down somewhere you don’t want to go.  And what do we call that dog; it goes by the name of Anger.

This dog named Anger has a message.  In the midst of the gnarling and the showing of teeth, it’s saying: “They deserved it”, “They will pay for that”, “They will regret it”, “I swear to God, I’m gonna…”, “If only they would shut up, then I wouldn’t…”.   And the fight is on.  The fight between giving someone a piece of your mind and that voice saying, “let it go”.  And there it is, the other dog named self-control; telling you to stop, or you shouldn’t do that, this won’t help.  So which dog is going to win, well it depends on which dog you feed the most.

That untamed dog named Anger has proven to destroy friendships, marriages, land someone in prison, and can even lead to major health problems.  But the dog named self-control is capable, patient, mature, forgiving, expresses forbearance, and restores.  Which dog do you feed?  John 6:35 reads: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  Are you eating from the bread of life or are feasting off the bait of Satan?

Scripture reveals to us that vengeance belongs to our Lord.  Deuteronomy 32:35 reads: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  The truth is that vengeance is His and we have no right to seek it out on our own.  We are required to forgive, this is not an option that we have the right to decide whether or not we will forgive someone, but rather something that is vital to our wellbeing, both spiritually and physically. We are called daily to forgive, 7×70, not allowing the sun to set on our anger.  Despite the dog fight between wanting our own “pound of flesh” and “turning the other cheek”, the fact is that God will avenge us and He is more swift and just than we are.

Even as I write this, I am reminded of the dog fights I have had to endure throughout my life. When I was younger, if someone hurt me, I would hurt them worse just to “teach them a lesson”.  We may feel justified to retaliate, or to speak our minds telling someone exactly what we think, but we are not. And there lies the problem as I see it. That side where we believe that we are entitled to seek justice and “speak our mind” and the side that reminds us we are not.  Let me be clear about this, I am not saying that anger in itself is wrong, sinful, or always unwanted.  After all anger is only an emotion.  However, what we do with that anger and how much time we devote to “feeding that dog”; well that can turn into a destructive pattern within our lives.

When we feed off of the bread of life and enjoy the fruits of the spirit, allowing God to deal with those who have offended us, the load on our shoulders is no longer heavy.  There is a relief and a sense of freedom that comes about. So in the end, the hard part in managing your anger comes down to the struggle between your sinful soul that seeks justice and the spirit of God what dwells inside of you. Which dog will you feed more? Learn to lean of the strength of God that dwells inside of you.  You need to prevent anger from overcoming your thoughts and life by being in the word of God because when you are in the word of God, His word reminds you of these things that provide the strength you need.  So be still and know that He is God and there you will find that peace that surpasses all understanding. And isn’t that is the end goal you’re seeking, that peace that surpasses all understanding while in the midst of a dog fight.

One last thought to consider, there are tools that can help you develop that self-control and manage your anger.  Head knowledge is good, Godly wisdom is essential, and developing tools that help enable self-control is possible.  If you are struggling with anger, or know someone who is, call the main office of Grace Wellness Center at 724-866-7223 for more information on our anger management group.  It is a group that utilizes Cognitive Behavior techniques and the word of God to reach a more abundant life.  Let go of angers leash and find rest in God.

called to thrive - heal the wounds
Mar 04

Heal the Wounds

By Stephen Luther | Blog , Life , Walking Wounded

called to thrive - heal the wounds

In the last couple newsletters we have been talking about the walking wounded… those among us who are hurting and have not gotten help for their emotional, spiritual or relational wounds. We know about some of these folks, but many are suffering in silence. We know because often when people come to our counseling centers for help, we are the first people they have told about their problems. Our mission at Grace Wellness Center is to help the walking wounded by providing a safe place for them to heal without fear of judgment or rejection.

In the last newsletter we discussed taking off the mask and being genuine and why many people choose not to do this and instead suffer in silence. This month, we are going to talk about healing the actual wounds. As seen in the outline below this is the second step in the total process of healing.

The Process of Healing through Biblical Counseling

Take off the MASK: We need to begin the healing process by being genuine and open about our pain.
Heal the WOUNDS: Just like physical wounds, emotional, spiritual and relational wounds need to be treated and healed.
Remove the TOXINS: Toxins are the false beliefs that result from unhealed wounds and a life of covering our pain with masks.
Replace with TRUTH: The Bible tells us we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We need to examine our life under the light of truth and replace the false and destructive beliefs with those that are true and healthy.

In his book Pure Desire, Ted Roberts tells a story of speaking at a church in the Bible belt. He asked the pastor what he wanted him to speak on and was told to just speak about all the good things God is doing in his ministry. Ted responded that he could do that but was sure he would end up talking about the hurt and brokenness that exists in the church, especially around sexual issues. The pastor assured him that while he could do that, he would not find people like that in his church. After all, they are not only in the Bible belt but the buckle of the Bible belt. So as Ted Roberts spoke about sexual sins and brokenness he gave a call for all those who struggle with some of these issues to come forward and acknowledge it before God and get help. He tells us that at first no one moved but once one person did, they were lined up 3 deep coming down the aisles. You see, often we think that our church or our family or our friends don’t suffer with the kind of brokenness we see elsewhere, but usually we are deceiving ourselves. The walking wounded are in our midst at church, in the community, in our neighborhoods and in our extended family. Let us help you meet the needs of these individuals and provide a safe place for them to heal.

The type of wounds people deal with are many. Often if we have secure relationships with others and God, they heal over time. However, many do not heal even if we have secure relationships. For those who lack proper support the healing of wounds is even more infrequent. You may think that everyone in your church has the support they need from the pastors, church leaders or others in the congregation. However, people who are deeply wounded, especially from very young, often don’t have a foundation of trust and security that allows them to take advantage of this support. Many who are not active in the church are this way not because of choice, but because of ability. They can’t connect because of their woundedness. Not connecting only intensifies their woundedness. At Grace Wellness Center, we specialize in helping people heal in a way that repairs the very wounds that keep them from taking advantage of the support in your church. Our goal is to return them to you healthy and able to grow and contribute based on their gifts and calling.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He wants all that are hurting to know that His grace is sufficient for them and that he has already provided the victory over their brokenness. Healing from brokenness and developing the ability to live in line with God’s truth and free from destructive patterns of behavior and thinking is essential if we are to fulfill our calling to be transformed more and more into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29). In order to do this, we need to examine the hurt and through God’s word figure out how to integrate it into our life story. Unfortunately attempts to deny and forget hurtful things end up only causing more harm and leads to us missing out on the blessings that God has planned for us through the suffering. We need to help people see that through God’s grace, suffering doesn’t have to be destructive. It can lead to the development of perseverance, proven character and hope (Romans 5:3-4). We also want them to know that God does not want our suffering to be fruitless but to lead to an endurance that will enable us to be complete and lacking in nothing (James 1:4).

Will you join us in our effort to get our message to the walking wounded in your church and community? Consider partnering with Grace Wellness center and letting us come along side you in your existing ministry and strengthen your impact on those in your care. If you would like to explore the possibility of developing a ministry partnership with Grace Wellness Center please call the office (724-863-7223) and ask for either Kaelynn Labra, our Outreach Coordinator, or Dr. Phillip Huggins, our Director of Spiritual Development.

At Grace Wellness Center, the invitation is open to every heart that has been broken…let us help!

called to thrive - car
Mar 04

Suicide Prevention: A Christian Standpoint

By Dr. Phil Huggins | Blog , Life

called to thrive - carSuicide prevention, while extremely important, appears to not be keeping pace with prevention of other injury related deaths. Of all the deaths by physical injury, the number one cause is suicide. One would think that auto accidents, accidental poisoning, or even more generic ‘accidental deaths’ would all have more deaths than suicide. Sadly however, there are many reasons why suicide is the leading cause of death by physical injury.

When I grew up, we had six kids in the back seat of a four door car. None were in child restraints nor wearing seatbelts. Today you need all of the above and then some. As a child an air bag was someone who talked too much. Today some cars have as many as ten airbags that deploy all over the car. Between the car itself being safer, safer roads, and safer practices by the occupants the death by auto accident has steadily decreased.

Along the same lines is the misdiagnosis of death by auto accident in terms of what is deemed a suicide. It is easier to believe that the driver lost control of the car and hit the tree than that he intentionally aimed at the tree. Some suicides are listed as auto accidents when in reality, they were more likely a suicide.

The same could be said of poisoning. With the labels on medicine today, it is difficult to overdose unless by intention. Yet, rather than list the death as suicide by overdose the cause of death is listed as drug overdose. Illegal drug users have often attempted suicide simply by overdosing.

So in fact the number of deaths by suicide is even higher than what the statistics can support. Why are so many taking their life? Depression, anxiety, loss of a dream, marriage difficulties and divorce, wayward children, financial strain,and loneliness come to mind, and the list could go on and on.

There are no clear signs about suicide, but especially in men as culture has taught men that they are not to show emotion. We are taught to simply solve a problem and when there is no solution, it appears that we have failed. When a man’s back is up against the wall, he can become potentially suicidal. At this point the best thing to do, the loving thing to do, is point blank ask “Are you considering the option of taking your life?”. It is better for all that he become upset at the question than for you to be silent and he proceed with the act. You will not put the thought in his head if it is not already there.

One might ask, if there are no clear signs, how does one know a friend or family member is suicidal? If you suspect, you ask. It is amazing how often people will be honest with this question. They are hurting. They are afraid. They need someone to show that they care. You may just talk your friend out of suicide simply by having him verbalize “Yes, I am thinking about taking my life.”

The second step you can take is getting your friend or family member help. A pastor or church counselor is a good starting point. For many this will be all that is needed. For others setting up regular counseling sessions with a Christian Counselor at a center like Grace Wellness Center will be needed to develop a mindset that is needed to overcome the current life situation. For any of these steps as a friend you may well have to make the contact and help your friend to get to the meeting. They may well be at a point where they cannot emotionally and intellectually make that call. You will have to do it for them.

In conclusion what am I saying is the key to suicide prevention? To simply walk with them. “One another” is a key phrase used throughout the entire Bible. From Genesis through Revelation , the idea of being alone is rejected. I need you and you need me. What a suicidal person needs more than anything else is to experience that (s)he is not alone. You are there. The ministry of presence is powerful.

called to thrive - guilt
Mar 04

A Christian Counselor’s Approach to Guilt

By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling and Therapy , Life

called to thrive - guilt

As Christian counselors we often hear people talk about guilt as a negative emotion, causing us to feel like failures, to feel condemned, or unable to meet what is expected of us. However, guilt is not always bad. It can lead us to repentance, towards righteousness and towards making needed positive changes in our lives. So how can we tell the difference between good guilt and bad guilt, or “true guilt” versus what June Hunt (Christian counseling radio host) calls “false guilt”? True guilt is based in fact: I was at fault, I did do something to deserve punishment, or I did commit a sin. True guilt is the result of any wrong attitude, thought, or action.
On the other hand, false guilt is based on the feeling that I’ve failed to live up to my own expectations or someone else’s. False guilt involves self-condemnation – either I blame myself even though there’s no evidence that I committed a wrong, or continue to blame myself even after I’ve apologized and made amends. False guilt causes me to feel accused. False guilt leads to shame, fear and anger.

To get to the bottom of the guilt, we will need further examination of our “self-talk,” that is the
messages we tell ourselves, our thinking patterns, etc. Do you often think about past mistakes and failures? Do you often think to yourself, or say out loud, any of the unreasonable “shoulds”? (Maybe you are giving yourself messages such as: You should be smarter … You should be more careful…You should never show your anger…You should be more like your cousin…). These statements are often impossible to live up to, judgmental, condemning warning signs that we are being affected by false guilt. These lies are unlearned in Christian counseling when held up to the reality of the truth of the Bible.

Take the following steps to deal with guilt effectively:

1. Discuss your guilt with a Christian counselor to find the source of your guilt: fact or feelings? Examine why you are feeling guilty.

2. List out the facts! Take responsibility for your sin and make restitution if appropriate.

3. Ask for forgiveness from God and the person offended if possible.

4. Give up dwelling on the past, and become willing to stop the self-condemnation.

5. Practice prayer and positive self-talk if the old accusations and condemning thoughts arise.

6. Practice some more.

7. Review steps 1-6 and keep practicing!

Adapted from Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook by June Hunt, 2008.

If you would like some personal help please give us a call. Often a little personal time with one of our Christian Counselors can help you get on the right path. Our number is 724-863-7223

called to thrive - shame
Mar 04

Guilt: True or False?

By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling , Life

called to thrive - shame

Guilt: True or False? Can Christian counseling help me get rid of my guilt? After all, guilt is usually viewed as a negative emotion, causing us to feel like failures or feel condemned, or unable to meet what is expected of us. Guilt is not always bad however. It can lead us to repentance, towards righteousness, and toward making needed positive changes in our lives.

So then, how can Christian counseling help me tell the difference between good guilt and bad guilt? Christian counselor June Hunt refers to this as “true guilt” versus “false guilt.” True guilt is based in fact: I was at fault…I did do something to deserve a punishment…I did commit a sin. True guilt is the result of any wrong attitude, thought, or action.

On the other hand, false guilt is based on the feeling that I’ve failed to live up to my own expectations or someone else’s. False guilt involves self-condemnation: either I blame myself (even though there’s no evidence that I committed a wrong) or continue to blame myself even after I’ve apologized and made amends. False guilt causes me to feel accused. False guilt leads to shame, fear and anger. Through Christian counseling, it can be revealed how false guilt is contrary to what Scripture says. (Discuss Romans 8 with your counselor).

To get to the bottom of the guilt, we will need further examination of our “self-talk” which is our internal chatter, the messages we tell ourselves, our thinking patterns. Do you often think to yourself (or say out loud) any of the unreasonable “shoulds”? For example, perhaps you are giving yourself messages such as: You should be smarter; you should be more careful; you should never show your anger; you should be more like your sibling, etc. These statements are often impossible to live up to, judgmental, condemning warning signs that we are being affected by false guilt.

Walk through the following steps with your Christian counselor: 1) Find the source of your guilt: fact or feelings? Examine why you are feeling guilty. 2) List out the facts! Take responsibility for your sin. Discuss with your Christian counselor if any restitution would be appropriate. 3) Ask for forgiveness from God and the offended person if possible. 4) Give up dwelling on the past and become willing to stop the self condemnation. 5) Practice prayer and positive self-talk if the old accusations and condemning thoughts arise. (Process Philippians 4 with your counselor). 6) Practice some more. 7) Review steps 1-6 with your Christian counselor as needed and keep practicing!

Submitted by Beth Allen, LPC Adapted from Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook by June Hunt, 2008

called to thrive - international
Mar 04

Suicide Across Society and Cultures

By Dr. Phil Huggins | Blog , Life

called to thrive - international

Watching the TV news is depressing, but now I can’t even read the Newspaper! I started out my day be learning that people ages 35 to 64 (I land right in the middle) account for about 57 percent of suicides in the United States. The suicide rate among middle-aged (35-64 years old) Americans has climbed a startling 28 percent between 1999 and 2010. During the 11 year period studied, suicide went from the eighth leading cause of death among middle-aged Americans to the fourth, behind cancer, heart disease and accidents.
The trend was most pronounced among white men and women in that age group; their suicide rate jumped 40%. There was little change in younger and older people and middle-aged African Americans, Hispanics and most other racial and ethnic groups. According to the Associated Press, the reason for the increase is that caucasians do not have the same kind of church support and extended families that African Americans and Hispanics do.

After reading this article, one of our counselors Denise Pfhal shared: “This is true…I will never forget reading about a study done years ago in a small Mexican village… which confirms this report…they studied the village because there was virtually no evidence of mental illness (can you imagine this?)….the primary reason-large extended families of support and not only your own extended family, but your cousins extended family, and your neighbors extended families would also be there for support-not to mention the local church families! They had a “true” relational/functional community. Isolative communities lacking a spiritual rudder (hopelessness) define our current state of affairs…and the resulting rampant addiction and emotional disorders reflect this.”

Another theory for the increased suicide rate notes that white baby boomers have always had higher rates of depression and suicide, and that has held true as they’ve hit middle age. A third theory is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers over the past decade. Based on death certificates, perscription drug abuse leads to overdose and/or puts people in a frame of mind to attempt suicide by other means.

Whatever the cause, the end result is alarming! What is the church doing to impact this world in which we live? More important, what am I doing to impact this world? The Prince of Peace that offers a peace that passes comprehension must be introduced.

called to thrive - mixer
Mar 04

Who’s In Control

By Stephen A. Luther | Blog , Life

called to thrive - mixer

Who’s In Control?
God wants to give you his full blessing but first see how Christian Counseling can help you give him full control!

If you are like me, the more you try to be in control of things, the more out of control things become. Unfortunately I’m stubborn and often this just leads me to try to control more and more until I realize I am getting nowhere. Only when I get to the end of myself do I realize that the only real control is from God. I don’t gain self control until I give God full control!

The need to control in our flesh starts with a feeling of being out of control. This is that “I’m not ok” feeling we have which leads us to try to manage things the best we can. The more powerless you have been in your life, the stronger your need to regain control will be. This is why people who are hurt very deeply often struggle with control issues such as addictions or eating disorders. What is your “I’m not ok” feeling about? Who hurt you? What are you going to do about it? If you want to begin the healing process, read on and consider giving us a call to help you on your healing journey.

Our flesh/natural self hungers for control. Our flesh will endlessly compare ourselves to others or some imagined standard to determine if we are okay and in control. If we don’t measure up or don’t feel satisfied we try one of three things. We can choose to remain “out of control” and look for sympathy for being the victim of some real or imagined injustice. Often times this is accompanied by out of control behaviors that are ultimately self destructive and are attempts to either control our circumstances or other people. These are the other two categories of control that our flesh uses to try to regain a sense of control.

Attempts to control our circumstances and details of life I call “obsessive control.” This involves active and passive attempts to manipulate what is going on in our life to try to feel in control. A obvious example of this is someone with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). A person with OCD will engage in a variety of obsessive behaviors such as hand washing or checking door locks with specific rituals that have to be adhered to specifically for the behavior to provide momentary relief of anxiety. Another example of this type of control would be addictions; if the addict has what they are addicted to they too have a momentary sense of being okay or in control. These are examples of active attempts to control but perhaps even more frequently people will engage in passive or avoidant attempts to control. The classic example is the procrastinator who falsely believes that if he can just avoid some responsibility he will be ok. Someone may even be very responsible in other areas of life, but has taken on the belief that one specific area of life needs to be avoided. Ultimately none of these attempts work and the person is just spinning their wheels and never really grows or gets better at feeling in control.

The other form of control the flesh uses is controlling others. In the extreme this is the abuser who creates an inflated grandiose self image that gives them a feeling of entitlement to use others as they wish. This entitlement involves a sense that other people deserve what they get because the abuser deceives himself into believing that the other person is to blame for everything. However, to a less extent people control others all the time in more subtle ways. Do you ever manipulate people to get what you want or become passive aggressive about something you disagree with? These are also attempts to control others that ultimately only leave us with momentary satisfaction.

These ways in which the flesh attempts to be in control ultimately offer no real control in our life and any control we believe we have is an illusion. The only solution to our lack of control is to give God control. Just as the Bible teaches that if we want to find our life, we have to lose it (Matthew 16:25) and if we want to be strong we have to be weak (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), we must give up control to gain control. Only when we surrender completely to God and walk in the spirit do we gain self control (Galatians 5:22-23). Psalm 46 teaches us that we need to cease striving and know that He is God. Striving is what we do in the flesh to try to control things that leave us with only an illusion of control. Whereas when we cease striving and surrender to God, we gain real control as we walk in the Spirit.

Are you ready to have real control in your life? Do you want the kind of control that leads to true contentment and empowerment? Only God can offer this type of control. At Grace Wellness Center, we help people identify and remove the barriers to having true freedom in Christ. Once they find this freedom they realize that for the first time, they are able to truly be in control and no longer have to strive after the illusive control that the world promises but never delivers. Can we help you find this control in your life?

At Grace Wellness Center, the invitation is open to every heart that has been broken…Let us help!