By Stephen Luther | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Wellness
We are children of the most high God and we were called to THRIVE! This calling is undeniable when one reads the scripture. We are to have abundant life, be overcomers, be free, walk in love and bear much fruit. This gospel of just enduring until we can reap our benefits in heaven is toxic and it’s time we as Christians but it to death once and for all. Don’t get me wrong, we have rewards in heaven but we are to Thrive here on earth as well. Thriving in this life is not about being rich and successful by the world’s standards although some will. Thriving means that we walk in the power God provides and we have abundant life regardless of our circumstances; even when the world strikes a blow. Jesus was being questioned after his arrest when the following scene took place.
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” John 18:22, 23
When I read these verses today I pictured a little insignificant ant striking a mighty worrier. The official acted as though he had authority, superiority and power but does he? Look at Jesus’ response. He is unmoved by this attack; it had no power over him. Why? Because he had the truth; He already had the victory. You see, Christ’s victory was already accomplished in Genesis 3:15 where it says “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The outcome has never been in question. However, we often live as though it is.
What if we lived as though we already had the victory? What if we stopped living on the defensive and started living victoriously? What if when the world strikes a blow, we saw it as Christ did, as insignificant compared to the love and power of our heavenly father? What if we recognized that we live with the same power Christ lived with, the Holy Spirit within us?
We would live victorious lives! We would thrive no matter what our circumstances were. Are you ready to do that?
By Stephen Luther | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Thrive , Wellness
I was once asked if, as Christians, we should be plan makers or order followers. How are we suppose to Thrive as Christians? Do we create visions, make plans, or wait for orders? As I thought about this and what scripture says, it was clear that we are to be both plan makers and order followers. We need to find our calling, create visions and be obedient even when we feel ill equipped.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
God desires our partnership in carrying out his work. He wants us to rely on Him and do extraordinary things in his name.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. John 14:12
Ok so how does this work? How do I THRIVE as a believer?
When people hear that my wife and I have 13 kids, many of whom have been severely abused and neglected before they came to us, we get very interesting reaction. Most are very affirming and encouraging but usually somewhere in the discussion they say that it is great that God has equipped us for that calling but they know they haven’t been equipped for something like that. Ok so let’s first look at the calling. God calls us to be more than conquerors, to overcome and to have abundant life. He calls believers to do the works that He did and in fact to do “greater works.” How about this? In James 1:27 God calls us to take care of widows and orphans. So all believers are called to do God sized things; extraordinary things. Every believer has been called to THRIVE!
Ok so now let’s look at this idea of equipping. Every time I have taken in another abused child I have felt ill equipped; because I am. We recently had two children placed with us temporarily and the option to make it permanent came up. Initially I said “absolutely not, we can’t handle any more kids.” Well one day I was sitting next to one of the kids and felt an undeniable call from God that this was my child. That was it. I wasn’t equipped but God called me. I can either be obedient and trust Him to do it through me or I can be disobedient because I don’t feel equipped.
So I believe the process of Thriving, of taking on God sized challenges, looks like this. First we have the vision. We look at how God has designed us and what passions He has placed in our hearts and we allow ourselves to dream BIG. We wake up every day and, like Isaiah, say “here I am God, send me.” Then we EXPECT him to do big things because he is a big God. After seeking God’s direction with these visions, we then make a decision. We decide whether we are going to be obedient and trust God or not. If we decide to wait until we are equipped, we are deciding to not trust God. Then once we trust Him, He gives us the provisions to carry out the vision. If we wait to be equipped we miss it. Dream big, decide to follow God and then watch Him equip you and do it through you.
God is calling you to THRIVE! We are here to come along side you, meet you right where you are and help you get there.
By Stephen Luther | Blog , Coaching , Counseling , Thrive , Wellness
Are you thriving in your life? Do you believe you can or have you settled for just surviving? Have you wondered if there is hope or is this all there is? Let’s take a look at this.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
Are you overcoming? Yeah, me neither. But check it out, God is! Too often we think we have to do it on our own and get overwhelmed and depleted. We conclude we can’t do it….and we are right. But God doesn’t want us to do it; he wants to do it through us. Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that make you excited? The God of the universe wants to give you abundant life and help you thrive in your life despite your circumstances. He wants to move you past the limitations and lies that the world has given you. They are nothing to him! What does God want to do in your life that He isn’t because you won’t get out of the way?
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
In case you are wondering, this doesn’t mean you won’t have suffering or bad things happen to you. What it means is that God has already overcome those circumstances. Read the above verse again. “I HAVE overcome the world.” He has done it, we just have to accept it and let Him live through us. Are you ready?
By Stephen Luther | Blog , Life , Walking Wounded
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.
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!
By Grace Wellness | Blog , Wellness
Natural Medicine: An Alternative Treatment for You and Your FamilyBy: Rachel Grace C.N.C. Certified Nutritional Counselor
Ever hear the saying, “Old habits die hard”? By nature, we are creatures of habit. We get up in the morning, do our daily regiment and crawl in bed at night. Even growing up, traditions are passed down from generation to generation. It’s only within the last couple of centuries that our understanding of nutrition and health has exploded. The medical field is now able to save the life of a child born as early as 22 weeks! They can do brain surgery, transplants, blood transfusion, even heart surgery! Incredible skills, thought and talent are involved in these processes, but have you ever taken your child in to a doctor for being sick and feel brushed aside, or put on the back burner? What about when you go to the doctor with symptoms and sickness but all tests come back saying you’re in great health although you still feel sick? We have grown up with the habit of taking our kids to doctors when they’re sick with things like ear infections, diarrhea, flu, and colds, but are our families getting better? Are we getting sick less often? Less visits to see the doctor? No- in fact, did you know that kids are out of school at least six to seven days a year for being sick? A doctor once stated, “In medical school, only they teach us how to get a child better, NOT keep them better.” Our goal as parents is to keep our children healthy and safe, and to provide the best environment for our children to grow up big and strong! It’s not our doctors’ job and they aren’t trained to do it, it is our job. So how do we this effectively? We aren’t doctors, we don’t have extensive education on health, but we are all given wisdom and intuition, and the ability to seek. I once took my four month old into the doctors with a slight fever and was sent away with a prescription for an antibiotic to treat an ear infection. As I was getting it filled I was talking to the pharmacist and was told it was not safe for a child under the age of 6 months to take, and was shocked the doctor prescribed it! I didn’t know what to do! Surely I was not expected to give my child something that was worse for him than an ear infection, so I had to find an alternative medicine. I went on the search, and it didn’t take long; within a couple hours I out found that garlic is a natural antibiotic and kills infections. We got garlic oil for half the price of just the doctor visit! Within two days, the infection was gone, and I didn’t even need to use Tylenol for the pain as garlic oil is also soothing to the ear. The results were unbeatable: two days versus ten days, a fraction on the cost, natural medicine, safe, effective, no Tylenol needed, a healthy child, a parent’s dream! Have you ever gone to the doctor for ear infections and they prescribe you garlic oil, or maybe a urinary tract infection and they send you home with a homeopathic remedy, or for insomnia and they talk to you about some effective herbs? I haven’t, its always one medication after the other, one prescription that only leaves you with more symptoms and more doctors visits that only one cost you more money. We ate healthy, exercised, stayed away from things like soda, and candy, but we were still getting sick, and the more we got sick the more I felt a gap between my children’s well being and the doctors’ sense of well being. What was missing? By following the same routine and skipping the step called nutrition, our family wasn’t getting healthy, we were only getting worse. After a lot of research, time, effort, and money, I finally reached a point of understanding. A recent clinical study (which can be found at www.landmakestudy.com) in collaboration with the University of California Berkley School of Public Health, found that people who used high quality, chemical free, bio-available nutrients, in the form of a supplement had markedly better health than both other supplement users and those who used no supplements. Diabetes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, stroke, emphysema, coronary heart disease all these things were significantly lower, including triglycerides, homocysteine levels, C-reactive protein which showed great results. The study also found that those who took supplements that were of less quality had an increase in their risk for these diseases than those who took absolutely nothing. Nutrients of all kinds can be compared to diamonds, you have your extraordinary diamonds that contain no defects, no contamination, no discoloration, diamonds that are high quality and costly, because of their exceptional value. Then you have your okay diamonds; some discoloration, some with black specks, some that just don’t sparkle, but they’re cheaper, easier to get, and no one can really tell from a distance the difference. Then you have your fakes, they look like diamonds, feel like diamonds, and unless your eye is trained, you cannot tell the difference. That’s exactly how our vitamins and nutrients are today. You have organic, whole, natural, no chemicals, no contaminates, available to be used by the body and turned into life for our cells and by our cells, or you have the vitamins that are just the copycat look alike, the chemical form. It’s a vitamin but it’s not real! No enzymes, chemically produced, depleted of the life giving effect, our bodies can’t even recognize what they are. But it’s cheaper, and unless you have a trained eye you can’t really tell a difference. Life as a parent, and some very unwanted stress and worry, led me to realize there is a gap between us and the medical system, between health and doctors, between sickness and health. So I became a Nutritional Counselor to utilize natural treatment and assist my family in being able to provide the best nurtrition, so we don’t get sick, so our children grow up big and strong. SAFE, EFFECTIVE, NATURAL nutrition, so we all can fill the gap between sickness and health and most importantly to STAY healthy.
Rachel Grace C.N.C. Certified Nutritional Counselor
By Dr. Phil Huggins | Blog , Life
Suicide 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.
By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling and Therapy , Life
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
By Beth Allen | Blog , Counseling , Life
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