FORGIVENESS: The Power & Freedom to Let Go

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You may have times when you’ve been hurt or feel angry toward someone close to you. They may have said something that devastated you or even behaved in such a way that triggered feelings of frustration and anger. And yet, you still hope to include them in your life.

The wisest thing to do is to forgive whenever you have these experiences. When you choose to forgive someone, you dismiss the power of the offense or the offender.

But forgiving often proves to be a tremendous challenge, especially when someone fails to meet your expectations, lets you down, fails to keep a promise or treats you unjustly.

Why is it in your best interest to forgive?

Refusing to forgive harms YOU more than the individual you’re upset with.There’s an old saying about poison damaging the vessel in which it’s found and that saying applies here.You’re not hurting the individual you refuse to forgive nearly as much as you’re hurting yourself.

Forgiving allows you to release the pain. Whenever you say, “I forgive you” to someone, you’re instantly freed from power the offense holds over you and close the door for satan to continually use the offense against you. Carrying excess emotional baggage is not healthy and should be avoided when at all possible. However, sometimes encouraging the restoration of a relationship is not wise at all, such as when the offense may be adultery, rape, or assault. Scripture allows us to move out of harm’s way until lasting changes on the offender’s part takes place. That may not happen.

         “Bad company corrupts good character” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

Most grudges become bigger than we are. They just seem to take over your entire existence. You may convince yourself, “I will push this individual into a little box in my mind and not think about them,” yet, you’ll soon find that to be impossible. Others may bring up the individual’s name or invite them to a event that you’ll be attending. Then, you’re faced with the decision of whether to avoid the individual by cancelling your plans. Grudges grow. And the more you hold on to them, the more time and emotional energy it takes to keep them going.

You can decide to be the “bigger” person. You can tell yourself that you’ll forgive because it’s the “right” thing to do whether they accept the forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is more for the one doing the forgiving rather than for the one being forgiven.  Forgiveness is one-way. Reconciliation is two-way.  When you live by a set of morals and values, that little voice inside may insist that you be the one to forgive. Listen to it.

You can decide to be the “bigger” person. You can tell yourself that you’ll forgive because it’s the “right” thing to do whether they accept the forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is more for the one doing the forgiving rather than for the one being forgiven.  Forgiveness is one-way. Reconciliation is two-way.  When you live by a set of morals and values, that little voice inside may insist that you be the one to forgive. Listen to it.

Forgiveness bears many fruits. Although you may be unaware, the friend you forgive may realize the true error of their ways and decide to try harder to live a more caring existence. Or they may learn something about forgiving others and apply it in their life.
 

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”- Galatians 5:22-23

When you forgive, you’ll have lower blood pressure. It’s a medically proven fact.

Vengeance and resentment flourish in those who refuse to forgive. Would you choose to feel hurt, angry, and resentful or peaceful and happy? A continual refusal to forgive keeps one emotionally stuck and allows the wound to grow deeper and deeper hiding a hardened heart.

Take time to consider your own actions and words during the unsavory event. If you’re struggling to forgive, go over the entire incident in your mind. What did you say? How did you react? How did you end the exchange?

After you gain as clear an understanding as possible about what happened, choose to forgive.

     “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”

Proverbs 15:1

When you decide to live a more conscious existence, you may have more room to forgive those who upset you. Realizing that forgiveness is in your best interest andyou can move forward and re-discover… the power of forgiveness is within you.

https://counselingcoachingandeducation.wordpress.com/

 

 

Change your Exercise – Change your Brain

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What if it’s true? The fountain of youth is exercise?

What does the research say about exercise and the brain:

 

  • Cognitive abilities are best in those who exercise
  • Brain blood flow is improved
  • It improves oxygen levels and glucose supply
  • Increases DNA cell repair
  • Protects the brain against things that hurt it such as:
  1. Free Radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells and contribute to aging and disease)
  2. High glucose levels (sugar)
  3. High glutamate levels (salt)

How can exercise help change your brain: womensneakerschange

  • After 70 years of age, memory and other cognitive abilities are less likely to be impaired
  • Improves brain metabolism of cholesterol and other lipids
  • Improves insulin ability to regulate glucose
  • Neuron response to stress is improved (especially in the hippocampus (memory, emotions and motivation))
  • Tone in the blood vessels is improved because Nitric Oxide is enhanced (Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule in the body that tells the blood vessels to expand, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to the organs and tissues).
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Increases insulin sensitivity
  • Helps reverse insulin resistance
  • Helps with hypertension (blood pressure)

BHCCC Logo Badge LargeIf you want to learn more about how physical activity can have positive effects on your mental and emotional health, schedule an appointment at 678) 920-2608 for brain health coaching assessment and tips.

If it doesn’t challenge you – It doesn’t change you

 

A Samson and Delilah Kind of Love

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We all, for the most part, are familiar with the (love) story of Samson and Delilah found in the book of Judges.  What is it though, that we can take away from yielding to temptation found in the 16th chapter?

blackwhiteredrosesWhat do we do with the Samson’s and Delilah’s in our own lives?

Samson is no doubt, one of history’s strongest men.  God instilled in him the invincible Spirit of the Lord from which he found his strength and power to deliver himself from any predicament that he found himself in.  His astonishing physical abilities were unmatched by his moral qualities.  He was vulnerable to temptation, easily fooled, and failed to realize the danger behind those set out to destroy his power.  As Christians, we can apply this to our own lives in assuming that the superficial, outward appearances are all we need to protect us from the dangers of temptation.  We think that because we have invited the Holy Spirit into our lives that we too are invincible to attack, inevitable downfalls, and life impacting consequences.  Samson was physically capable to overpower his enemies yet, he was incredibly weak when it came to temptation.  The outward man of strength was hiding the inward man of vulnerability.

What about Delilah? She was gifted with persistence and knew just how to get what she wanted.  She appealed to Samson through emotions, and the dance begins as we see in Judges 16:4, which says,

“Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him”…

How many times in our lives do we think that we have the power to handle a situation in our own strength, mind and abilities, let our guard down, and find ourselves separated from the source of our strength, the Holy Spirit?

valentines heart balloon 1In our relationships, we tend to set our eyes on that which is outwardly attractive.  We think we can handle the temptation on our own and wrestle with our moral conscience which says, “don’t do this”, “they’re not good for you”, “they look like trouble” and yet, we ignore all of that because our ego kicks in overdrive and we go out on our own………

  • We date the boy or the girl that we should not
  • We have lunch or dinner with that co-worker of the opposite sex
  • We have that one drink to toast that one great achievement with someone we know we should not entertain in a place that we know we should not be
  • We let the temptation we face have a voice that says, “you can stop whenever you want to”

We fall vulnerable to the temptations, step away from the source of our strength, and fall prey to that which seeks to destroy us.

Samson’s life shows us valuable lessons about temptation:

  • Strength and success do not make us immune to temptation
  • Temptation returns wherever it finds success
  • Flirting with temptation is almost certain defeat

Delilah’s persistence in wanting to find the source of Samson’s strength is seen in Judges 16:6-14, “please tell me where your strength lies, and with what you may be bound” she pleads…….and in verse 15 we see how the dance between them ends in a lie.  Samson had lied to Delilah three times, and Delilah had shown three times that she was willing to betray him all for the price of silver.

She asks in verse 15, “how can you say that you love me?”  Both were supposedly in love with each other.  Whatever these two had going on, it absolutely was not love.

There’s a song, Lookin’ for Love, that describes what this kind of love looks like and the lyrics go like this:

Well, I’ve spent a lifetime lookin’ for you;
singles bars and good time lovers were never true.
Playin’ a fools game hopin’ to win; 
and tellin’ those sweet lies and losin’ again.
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what I’m dreamin’ of.
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover;
I’ll bless the day I discover 
another heart lookin’ for love.
And I was alone then, no love in sight;
and I did ev’rything I could to get me though the night.
Don’t know where it started or where it might end;
I turned to a stranger just like a friend.
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what…

February is a constant reminder of love, either what we had, have now, or hope for, valentine's heart balloon 2which means temptation is everywhere.  Be on guard for the physical package of a Samson and a persistent package of a Delilah.  The temptation to fall prey to your emotions will be relentless as the messages to find love, even for just a fleeting moment (or month) will bombard you.

Remember where your source of strength lies, as a Christian, it’s in the invincible Spirit of the Lord.  This month of Valentine’s Day and love, love, love, remember what’s important:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking nor easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices in truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

 

The Effects of Marijuana

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Marijuana has certainly been in the news! Most headlines contain the words “medical marijuana”, “hydroponically grown”, “legalization”, “cannabis club”, or release the latest name of a famous public figure that has admitted to using pot for recreational or medical purposes.

Although marijuana has physical effects, it’s the mental effects that have caused it to be the most used, illicit psychoactive drug in the world. pexelsmarijuana

Recent reports indicate marijuana use has more than doubled in the past decade. Although it’s often portrayed as harmless, and sometimes even therapeutic, marijuana causes significant brain changes by slowing activity in the frontal and temporal lobes.  Why is that to be of any real concern?  Because these are the areas of the brain involved with:

  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Motivation
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Mood stability

Human beings have 100 billion cells that make up the central nervous system which help the brain communicate with the outside world.  Marijuana effects the neurotransmitters (messengers) ability to communicate with one another and thereby send and receive mixed messages in the centers of the brain (temporal lobe, frontal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus) that store and/or effect:

  • Emotions
  • Organization
  • Self-Control
  • Planning
  • Decision Making
  • Judgement
  • Memories
  • Insight
  • Thoughts
  • Learning from mistakes

Anything that makes a person feel good—be it food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, gambling, or sex, etc. —causes a rewiring of the pleasure centers in the brain and intensifies cravings for it.  Addiction then, means anything that impedes or impairs your life, your emotions, and your ability to make or adapt to change. Damage to these areas of your brain have a tremendous impact not only in the “now” of when you are using marijuana, but on your future cognitive and physical abilities.

When it comes to addiction, you need to think about your children’s future as much as your own since it comes with a generational toll. Your brain does not complete its development until the age of 25 years. pexelsfriends

New evidence suggests that teenagers who smoke marijuana may be affecting themselves and their future children. Not only that, but research is showing that if you begin using at 15 years of age or earlier, your brain development is being hijacked.  In other words, if you begin using at 15 years of age and decide to stop at age 25 years, your brain reacts as an adult at the point in which it damaged.  So, 25 years old or not, your brain computes your decisions and behaviors as 15 years old.

As an adult, these areas of your life, although not limited to, can have consequences in how you respond and/or react to circumstances: brainheartseesaw

  • Relationships
  • Anger Management
  • Marriage
  • Emotional Control
  • Divorce Reasoning
  • Parenting
  • Ability to Adapt to Change
  • Career
  • Finances
  • Impulsive Decisions
  • Reasoning
  • Rational Thought Processes

Another study shows that offspring of parents who were addicted to drugs or alcohol are twice as likely to be depressed in adulthood as compared to their peers whose parents were not addicted. Parents need to understand the importance of supervision when it comes to experimentation with drugs.  Depending upon the substance, brain development can be permanently delayed.

Most young adults start developing personal and life goals, such as going to college or pursuing a career, by age 14. That’s why it’s important to be more involved in the decisions your children are beginning to make, and recognize as well, where some of your decisions were affected if you used drugs yourself in your early adolescence.

So, what’s the big deal, in relation to just a little pot experimentation? You decide if the risk outweighs the consequences.  Addiction happens quickly and does not discriminate in users.

Recovery and rehabilitation is a process and has consequences involved in withdrawal:

  • Anger
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Aches
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Pains
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Chills
  • And more craving for the drug

Breaking the pattern of marijuana dependency can be difficult and may involve entering a drug recovery program, going to counseling, and/or participating in a 12 steps group.

To further assess your recovery needs, call 678) 920-2608 for an appointment.

5 Ways to Ease Holiday Stress

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5 Ways to Ease Holiday Stress and Depression

It’s not uncommon to hear that the holiday season often brings stress, anxiety and depression. People are more likely to feel overwhelmed and difficulty managing their feelings during the holidays with all the crazy schedules, parties, shopping and “pressure to please” with that “just right gift” and expectation to show up for all the gatherings.

We’re learning more and more about the power stress has over people in general, but it seems to be heightened over the holiday season. Did you know that food high in fat and sugar (aka junk food) is worse for your health when you’re under stress or depressed?

The holidays are filled with reasons to eat, drink and be merry.  Temptations are everywhere, making it even more difficult to make good choices when we are met with the mentality, “it’s just for the holidays”…… especially when we have emotional connection to the holiday traditions, smells, and settings.

Here are some easy to remember strategies to manage your stress through the next few weeks of celebrations:

  1. Acknowledge what you are feeling and talk about it. Find someone you trust and tell them how you feel. Research supports this simple method of “talking it out” as bringing relief to overwhelming feelings.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, find other people to spend time with, even if it is just a short amount of time, changing your disposition and/or environment refreshes your brain to focus on the change its experiencing.
  3. Meditate and practice mindfulness. Make time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh your mind. Finding something that reduces stress has many positive benefits. Pray. Recite the words to your favorite scripture or lyrics that bring positive meaning into your life. Practice breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
  4. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed and even depressed.
  5. Don’t forget about your daily healthy habits. Balanced meals, exercise, and sleep.

As simple as these things seem, did you know the #1 day of admission to hospitals and emergency rooms for heart attacks is December 25th?

Why? Because we tend to lose sight of our nutrition, sleep, and time to refresh the most during the months of November and December due to all the holiday excitement.

If you, or someone you know, seems to be overly burdened by the stress of the holidays, please reach out to us for an appointment to discuss specific needs.

Holiday hours and phone appointments are available on an as needed basis

678) 920-2608.

Are You Addicted to TV?

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How much of your time is spent in front of a television? How much TV do your children watch?  Can excessive TV watching really become an addiction?  The average American watches 2.8 hours of television per day, however, watching six to eight hours per day is not uncommon here in America and many other Countries.

More than 60% of American homes have three or more televisions in their home and admit that the TV is on more than the lights.  What is the fascination?  Most cable or satellite TV providers know this, and fuel the craving with upward of 200 channels which are accessible 24 hours per day.  To keep you tuned in, they offer learning channels, documentaries, how-to shows, reality shows, and hours of sporting events, political rants, infomercials and consistently fill the viewing audience with negative messages, violence, sex, dysfunctional relationships and chaos within the family system.  Why?  Because the viewing ratings are high on high crisis or conflict shows.

What benchmarks of addiction apply to television?

  • Compulsive Use – Watching television 8-12 hours per day with difficulty turning if off
  • Using TV to change your mood – Finding shows that match your mood, those that are sedative, a distraction from how you are currently feeling and allow you an escape from reality.
  • Craving – Do you have to have a TV on when you walk in a room?
  • Loss of Control – Do you find yourself seeking out a TV when you are out in public to eat? Hang out? Or find ways to leave the room in your home when you are entertaining company to “check what’s going on on the TV”?
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences – Does TV interfere with your responsibilities? Do you miss what’s going on in the house because you are so tuned into what you are viewing?  Do you fail to hear those around you trying to communicate with you?

Robert Kubey, a Rutgers University psychologist lists six symptoms of heavy TV viewing:

  1. Using TV as a sedative
  2. Having indiscriminate viewing
  3. Feeling a loss of control while viewing
  4. Feeling angry after watching too much
  5. Having an inability to stop watching
  6. Feeling miserable or having other reactions/emotions when prevented from watching it

Let’s think about this in light of what we are seeing happen to our children, teens, families, relationships and general population.  If in fact environment is one of the factors that determines addictive behaviors and the abuse of drugs, has television become one of those environmental influences on our lives?

Consider the following:

Is what you are seeing a distorted view of people’s lives and how they solve problems?

  • Are solutions often violent?
  • Are the TV shows making it harder to make good decisions when bad choices work just as well without much consequence in being caught?
  • Is the portrayal of dysfunctional families and relationships the norm creating confusion for children, adolescents and young adults?
  • Are there sexual situations that involve risk or does the inappropriate behavior create a curiosity to initiate inappropriate sexual behavior?
  • Have the shows created any desensitization toward excessive reports of murder, violence, war?
  • Has it created a benign response in society toward fear, threat, or attack if we help others?

What about the development of tolerance?

  • Every year, adolescents spend 1,500 hours watching TV versus 900 hours in attending school
  • They view over 20,000 commercials
  • By 18 years of age, they have viewed 200,000 acts of violence and 8,000 murders

Like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs and substances, the younger a person begins to watch/be exposed to TV in excess, the more extensive the problems in later life become.

WHY?  HOW? The brain eventually begins to tolerate the images that it is exposed to and it learns to ignore the emotional overload and/or feelings toward what they are viewing…..on TV and in real life.

  • How does this translate to you?
  • Is your family spending time in separate rooms watching different shows?
  • What about your time as a couple?  Spending time together or apart?
  • Communication?
  • Your family rules, boundaries, values and respect?
  • Your relationships and how you resolve conflict, take responsibility, commit, and honor?
  • Your dating, view of sex, and/or marriage?
  • How do you raise your children and teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate?
  • How do you and/or your children and teens respond to individuals needing help?
  • How do you feel about bullying, violence, and general disrespect toward people or authority?

Please let us know how we can help you and/or your family with these false messages that are being consistently implanted into your homes and lives.  Whether you realize it or not, the messages that get the greatest attention often influence impulsive reactions which lead to consequences.

To schedule an appointment call 678) 920-2608

Resources from Uppers, Downers, All Arounders – Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs

Childhood: Brain, Memories & Drugs

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Did you know that you are born with almost every nerve cell you will ever have for your entire life?

You start with about 100 billion neurons in your brain. Over time, your environmental influences affect the 100 trillion connections that develop along those nerve cells.  Current research is finding that it takes at least 20 to 25 years for the brain to become “hard-wired” in forming the major and vital connections associated in the “decision-making” part of the brain, which is the control circuit.

The environmental influences that you are exposed to are varied and can have both negative and positive effects on how you begin to form choices, such as not using or using drugs.

Some of the environmental influences that determine the use of drugs related to:

  • Sexual/Physical/Emotional Abuse 
  • Stress
  • Love
  • Nutrition
  • Living Conditions
  • Family Relationships
  • Neighborhood Safety
  • Quality of Education
  • Peer Pressure
  • Internet & Television Content

Research shows that interactions, particularly in the home environment, actually make new nerve cell connections, create memories, and even alter a person’s neurochemistry, thereby determining the level in which a person will or will not use psychoactive drugs.  Many studies are now showing a direct link between major behavioral health problems like addiction and serious mental health issues with traumatic life experiences such as an adverse childhood.  Dr. Kim T. Mueser at Dartmouth found that 90% of all behavioral health patients had at least one traumatic experience in their life, many of them had more than one.

The following environmental truths make psychoactive drug abuse more likely:

  • Stress is the norm rather than the exception
  • Physical/Emotional/Sexual abuse or trauma occurs
  • Drinking and/or other drug use is common in the home
  • Healthy ways of processing stress or anger are not modeled & learned (self-medicating occurs)
  • Societal influences (TV, Internet, Peers, etc.) make drinking, smoking, drugs normal escapes
  • Easy access to legal and illegal drugs
  • Pre-existing mental health problems that are aggravated by the home environment stressors
  • Nutritional deficits during brain developmental years

Since your brain takes about 20 to 25 years to become “hardwired” in the decision-making (control center) part of your brain, an adolescent who disrupts this process by drug use becomes vulnerable to making poor decisions  and damaging impulse-control behaviors like drug abuse.  This is important because changes that occur, in the brain, in the first 10 years of life are the most influential, especially if they were changed by a traumatic event.

Children who grow up in chaotic homes, and are subject to excessive emotional pain, remember that pain and begin to medicate that in different ways such as:

  • Trying to find people to help them understand why it happened
  • Learn they must face and accept what happened
  • Run away
  • Become hyperactive
  • Make jokes about their circumstances
  • Use drugs, overeat, gamble, or do other things that temper the pain and/or discomfort they feel

If the stress/pain a child feels continues long enough, the counter-behavior that they learn to “cope” with these feelings becomes ingrained into the brain as well.  The brain remembers the counter-behavior with just as much clarity as it remembers the stress/pain or trauma that they have experienced.

Here’s the good news:

Because the brain continues to both create and lose connections throughout a person’s life, the ability to change is always possible.  However, the older a person becomes, the more difficult it is to change.

At the Counseling, Coaching & Education center, we uphold the belief that God, when He intervenes, is capable of anything within His Will and calling upon your life.

He has Plans for you regardless of your circumstances.

 “Before I shaped you in the womb,  I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you……Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG). 

You have been chosen, with Purpose.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight….Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

If you are interested in learning how to restructure your thoughts and renew your mind, we can give you life application strategies and suggestions, along with biblical instruction, on how to re-ignite the power center of your brain = your thoughts.  (Appointments only- call 678) 920-2608).

Philippians 4:8 is considered to be one of the most powerful and healing verses in the Bible as it gives instruction on how to begin taking control of your moment to moment thoughts, so that with the help of God, you can take more control over your behaviors. 

Neuroscience teaches that every time you have a thought, negative or positive, your brain releases chemicals.  Thoughts truly do influence your life and the choices you make! Think about that……..if you focus on negative thoughts and believe them 100% as truth, then you act as if the lies in your head are true……but if you focus on positive thoughts, healing begins.

In the last 40 years, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has developed = the correction of negative thoughts…………… God knows what He’s doing……..and this is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, relationship problems and yes, even for addictions with a proper team of intervention.

To schedule an appointment for assessment of your specific needs, call 678) 920-2608.

Resources taken from Uppers, Downers, All Arounders: Physical & Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs, 8th edition, by Darryl S. Inaba, Pharm.D. & William E. Cohen (2014).

 

What are the roots of Spiritual Abuse?

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Isn’t it interesting how individuals quickly shift the blame toward others when they’re either just about to get caught, or when they actually are caught?  Shifting the blame to God, or even to someone else is much easier than taking personal responsibility for making poor choices.

The practice of spiritual abuse and shifting of blame has existed since the serpent in the Garden of Eden lied and managed to create enough doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve to cause them to question the character of God and begin to shift blame.  All humanity thereafter, has struggled with this same problem when wrestling with moral decisions and trust with those whom we place in positions of authority.

Whom do we often place in these significant positions in influencing whether we grow spiritually or not?

  • Church Leadership
  • Parents
  • Mentors/Peers
  • Significant Relationships in the home/workplace/school

Have these people upheld a tradition of Christian influence for you? Shaped how you form thoughts about God and appropriate boundaries for life choices? Unfortunately for many, those in these positions have failed to uphold scripture and have created confusion in how choices in life are approached.  They have misrepresented their God given position in your life and distorted how you view God in relation to your level of struggles.  Ultimately, God does allow sin by freedom of will in making choices.  However, He is just and will punish those who have spiritually wounded those who are His followers (Romans 12:19).

What is spiritual abuse?  It’s the mistreatment of a person by someone in a position of spiritual authority which leads to the potential downfall of a person’s spiritual vitality and growth.

These significant people can influence how we think about God and how we feel about ourselves when making decisions if they are not spiritually aligned with scripture.

How does this become a problem?  Within the boundaries of biblical standards, God gives us each a responsibility in choosing how to live our daily lives. How we make decisions throughout the day, how we represent ourselves to others and conduct ourselves in both private and public circumstances.

What are the symptoms of being spiritually abused?

  • Low Self-Worth
    • Do you feel like you must accept abuse?
    • Blame?
    • Criticism?
  • Fear
    • Are you afraid of disapproval?
    • Authority figures?
    • Conflict?
  • Excessive Guilt
    • Do you feel like a failure?
    • Have a sense of shame?
    • Have a heavy heart?
  • Unresolved Anger
    • Do you feel frustrated from a need to be perfect?
    • Struggle with not keeping all the rules?
    • Lose patience with yourself or others?
  • Limited Transparency
    • Do you feel a need to hide the “real” you?
    • Feel as if others would not like you if they knew who the “real” you is?
    • Do you avoid getting close with others?
  • Troubled Relationships
    • Do you struggle with saying no?
    • Struggle with forgiveness?
    • Continually compare yourself with others?
    • Keep others at a distance?
  • High Self-Sufficiency
    • Do you try to earn love by doing well at all times?
    • Do you try to do things “just so” to avoid being rejected?
    • Feel a need to be in control to find a sense of significance?
  • Misplaced Priorities
    • Do you have difficulty setting boundaries?
    • Do you place importance on outward actions rather than on inward needs?

What relationships would you identify as spiritually abusive? Once you identify the thinking patterns that led you into the relationship and kept you in that relationship you can better evaluate your wrong thinking patterns, change your thoughts, change your behaviors, and ultimately change your life.  What you think about does have direct impact on how you feel and ultimately make decisions.

The apostle Paul gave this warning……….”watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.” ( Romans 16:17)

Spiritual authority is to be respected, but obeyed only when it aligns with God’s truth.  You are accountable to God first and to human authorities second (Galatians 1:10).  Consider how the spiritually abusive attitude of others has impacted your spiritual growth and attitude.  This includes your relationships with family members and friends and then separate yourself from these abusive situations and seek help from those who are encouraging and wanting the best for you and your life  (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

If you feel that you have been spiritually abused and God has been misrepresented to you as anything less than loving, full of grace and forgiveness with a plan and purpose for you, please reach out and allow us to share the truth with you (John 8:32).

To learn more about how to break free from a negative pattern of beliefs, call 678) 920-2608.

Resources taken from Hope for the Heart, June Hunt, Spiritual Abuse:Breaking Free from Religious Control, 2015.

Grand-Families

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Raising GrandchildrenSpring brings a lot of people outdoors to enjoy family time together. It also brings a lot of end of the school year activities where parents are either absent from their children’s lives or have passed away and grandparents are filling the roles in care-giving.   The family dynamic has shifted away from what was once considered a nuclear unit to a now, extension of that unit in others stepping in to help raise children left in the gap for one reason or another. Although God designed the ideal model family system as parent and child, He knew that not everyone would be able to achieve that.
We live in a fallen world with many choices that bring many different consequences. Marriages dissolve, spouses leave the family or pass away and relationships suffer because of the change in dynamics. Because God knew in advance that humanity would be challenged by sin and consequences would enter the family system as a result, He also gave us the promise that “He can renew, restore, and rebuild that which is broken or destroyed”, (Job 5:9)

All over the world, the family system is growing and changing as life shifts people from one unit to another in effort to support one another by any means possible.  Grand-families mean extra support, in wisdom through teaching and instruction, in economic assistance, and in day to day activities in raising children.

According to the Pew Research Center analysis of the 2012 Census Bureau data, 18% of families in the USA today now include parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts all in effort together in raising children in the home. (Jean S. Barnes, Purposeful Parenting, 2012).  That’s about 28 million assorted families all pooling their resources together to live under the same roof in the United States alone.

As Christians, we have a responsibility in training the children that have been left in our care, (Proverbs 22:6) but sometimes that leaves us wondering how to fill in that gap when people and resources may be sparse.  That’s where your local Church can step in and help the family and assist in raising children.

How can church members assist parents in raising children?

Support the children in your youth ministry and congregation

 Participation in presence is important when developing relationships with children. As you serve, take note of the children that may need extra support in their developmental securities and allow them to see your sincere interest in them by being present each week in your service commitments, such as choir, Sunday school, or other groups.

Have conversations with the child or children

Conversations will help them develop skills necessary in communicating effectively in relationships as they grow and allow them to experience other adults and interactions other than their parents.

Model appropriate responsibilities and self-discipline

This will help teach appropriate boundaries for both self and others in tasks and in socializing.

Pray for the children

Apostle Paul prays for the church, that God may give them “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

 

Pour Yourself Out

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Pour yourself outLife.  It has a lot of power, doesn’t it?  When was the last time you actually took a few moments and thought about what that word means.  Life…….what does it mean to you? To those around you? To those in your family and friend circles?  Does it share the same meaning?  Have the same value?  Resemble the same tenets of your Faith?  What does it look like?  Has it always looked the way that it does now, or has it changed?

Life has a way of extracting the breath out of us.  The condition of our current day world has a direct impact on the condition of our souls.  Thereby, it has the power to add boldness to our living or extract that boldness directly from us.  Have you thought about that?  On any typical day, what does your schedule look like, what does your home look like, your children, your marriage, your finances, your health, your friendships, your morals, your worship, quiet time, quality time?  Where do those things fall in line…….life has the power to extract the breath out of us. And, yet, we have the power to change that at any given moment, and we choose to remain silent and still.

Have you ever considered why you exist in such a time as this?  God knew when He created your being that you would walk in the latter days, that you would see the chaos, the depravity, the hatred.  He knew you would walk in the days when our Christian principles would be removed from the foundation of our American blessing, that you would live to see prayer removed, God removed, right to worship and speak the name of Jesus removed.  He knew you would live in days of abortion, gay marriage, pornography, false doctrine, war, disease, moral depravity, family separation, loss of respect for what is good, noble, moral and pure (Philippians 4:8).  He knew that.  When we cry out to God for our family, for our children, for our Nation, do we ask Him to send someone to turn that around?  OR……do we realize that He’s already done that.  He sent you. He sent me.

Do you realize that within you, as a child of God, you have the power within you to make the winds of change move in a mighty way that could cause the revival this world needs?  It is not accident that you exist in such a time as this.

It’s time we stop asking God to make us comfortable in these circumstances and ask Him to give us Courage to stand up, speak up and make change happen.

The Bible is not a recording of history as in ……….that may have happened years and years ago, but………  It is the living and breathing Word of God that has existed for years past and is walking off the pages in our lives in much the same manner as it did years ago.  God had it recorded then as a warning for us now, that this too will come to your doorstep.  It’s a manual. A tool for our families to prepare for the battle that is raging around us and yet, we don’t open it.  When we purchase something at the store and it requires direction in order to operate and function with ease, we read that don’t we? Why? Because we want to know how it will work, and what it will do for us, with the least amount of trouble.  Why then, when we have a manual for life, the Bible, are we choosing to leave it closed? Unopened and unused when it will tell us directly how things will work, what will happen, and how we can apply it make our lives more functional?

Instead, we fall victim to habits, hangups, hurts, addictions, disease of body, mind and soul and consider our hands tied.  Not true.  Life will not be what God intended it to be for you, for me, or for this world until we have the Courage and Faith that gives us the Boldness to speak up.  It’s time to stop asking God to make us comfortable in these circumstances and ask God to make us Courageous.

In Christ, we can ask Him to move the mountain for us, or we can ask Him for the strength we need to climb to the top of that mountain ourselves.

The Bible says in Acts 4:31, “When they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken, and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak messages from God boldly”.

When Daniel stood in the Lion’s Den and faced the lions – he prayed God not me, you…..he poured himself out and the Holy Spirit was able to fill him. (Daniel 6).

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego  stood in the furnace engulfed with flames – they prayed God not me, you….and poured themselves out so the Holy Spirit would walk with them and fill them. (Daniel 3).

When Joseph was sold into slavery and betrayed by his family he prayed, God not me, you….and poured himself out and the Holy Spirit filled him and blessed him. (Genesis 37).

When David faced Goliath, he prayed, God not me, you…and poured himself out and the Holy Spirit filled him with courage and boldness. (I Samuel 17).

Life will take the breath out of us if we allow it.  But if you pour yourself out and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you back up, there will no room for you to fall victim to the things that are out of control any longer.  God will empower you with the boldness to conquer anything or anyone that forms against you.

Depression – Anxiety – Addictions – Disability – Disorder – Habits – Hangups – Hurts – Abuse – Secrets – Family – Children – Marriage – Finance – Stress – Worry – Mental Health – Physical Health – Worry – Work – School – Dating – Purity – Fear – WHAT IS IT?  Pour it out. Let God pour His Spirit in.

God can give you everything you need, and more, to battle whatever it is that has found you empty. Be Blessed as you prepare to make Change happen and let God move in your life in a mighty way.