Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal

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This is very much a comprehensive guide because it is packed with lots of information! I found it to be an interesting read because it takes an Integrationist approach to Christian counseling. What that means is they mix Christian faith with secular counseling methods. This guide was written to help a Christian counselor properly view or apply Christian approaches to a variety of counseling issues and diagnosis's.

I am not an integrational counselor so I do not agree with this approach in every way but found this book to be very helpful. It is well done for someone in that camp of Christian counseling. And it really does cover tons of information. I think if this is your field of study you will not be disappointed in this book.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from amazon.com here. (Aff. link)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: No More Faking Fine by Fleece

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Lament. It is an important concept that the Christian needs to understand. Esther Fleece explains it well in this title. She uses her wealth of personal stories to practically explain what the art of lament looks like. 

She has lived a hard story but her dependence and love for the Lord is encouraging and evident to the reader. I was encouraged by watching the process of growth in grace work in her life. It is eye-opening when you can see theology walked out practically.

This takes a good look at a theology of suffering and the proper response of lamenting. I believe this would be helpful for others to understand. Lament is a lost art that many neglect to this day. There needs to be more stories that show others how to live this. Living out lament truly sets the sufferer free in Christ.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book on Amazon here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: Enjoy by Newbell

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This is a book that should be read to help believers know how to delight in God's good gifts. It addresses specific areas of gifts like relationships, food, and work and takes the reader through practical ways to enjoy them and why it is good to enjoy them.

Some believers are better than others at accepting God's good gifts and enjoying them. This book would be good for everyone even if it is only a reminder. We all need to be reminded to enjoy the good gifts that God gives us as His children.

At the end of each chapter we have something called the enjoy project. It is a list of practical steps that the reader can practice in each area addressed to help them learn to enjoy the gifts that God gives. There are also discussion questions in the back of the book making it easy for a group bible study.

This book is easy to follow and read. It is a good read.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book here. (aff. link)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures by Georges and Baker

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Have you ever had an interaction with someone who is different than you that made you feel completely awkward? I think this comes from not really understanding the person in context of their cultural background.

This book is a great resource for understanding other cultures. In the west, we see things differently from the majority of the word. The reason for this is the cultural upbringing we are raised in. We are very individualistic as westerners. Because of this, we don't rightly understand the importance of group approval in many other cultures. We are tempted to think we understand this because we do want group approval in certain situations but our entire lives are not truly wrapped up in a collective group for survival. We don't live and breathe in groups as westerners. Our very well being is not up to a certain group.

The westerner is able to leave a group and find another to join. They are more to themselves and view themselves as an individual whose actions don't affect everyone else they come in contact with. There is a distinctive difference between those of us raised in the West and those in the East.

The answer to understanding and helping others; is in understanding those cultural contexts. The author reminds us that Scripture was actually written in this collective cultural mindset. Viewing scripture in this way is natural. The authors give examples of this throughout.

The interesting thing about this book is showing how the gospel has power in both cultural contexts but how you approach each cultural context with it will be very different. We have the same gospel but a different approach. You have to read this book to understand more about what I am saying here but it is well worth your time.

If you do any kind of work or have friendships with others from different cultural backgrounds, I suggest you read this book. It was eye opening to me and a resource I will go back to again and again.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

When We Are Tempted to Worry

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Waiting......

I am waiting to see if I passed my counseling certification exams.

I am waiting to see if I have life changing health-related test results.

I am waiting to see what God has in store for our future.

I am waiting on my article edits to see if I need to make corrections once again.

I am waiting on the school year to end so I can enter into the home school journey with my son.

So many things I am waiting on and this is not an all inclusive list. There are other things, lurking in my mind. I am sure you can relate too. For we are all waiting on something.

I can easily be tempted to agonize over these waits. It is tempting to worry or fret over these things. Some of the issues seem more worrisome than others, of course. Life altering test results can be a heavier burden than an article edit. But waiting seems to look the same for each one.

If worry could speed up the time process of the wait then I would say go for it! However, God says something different. Worry is essentially forgetting that God has promised the best for us.

Sometimes that is hard to accept when the test results come back less than expected or you are rejected by a peer. These things are painful, however, God promises that we will be more like Christ as we look to Him and His promises in the midst of them.

This is a great Scripture to meditate on when you are tempted to worry.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3, ESV).

When I feel myself losing my peace, I am not trusting in God. My worry is taking on the problem in my own strength instead of God's.

This happened after 40 days with the children of Israel. God was clearly present because He was on the mountain with Moses. Yet, Moses stayed up there too long for the people to stomach so they gave in to fear. Fear, worry and anxiety are all connected. When we give into these things we are not trusting God's best for us. We are saying that God is not good and I can figure out a better way. If we give into this worry, we will do stupid things.

The children of Israel did this. They thought God was taking too long with Moses. They forgot how God saved them from Egypt. despite the great miracles He performed for them over and over again. Not only the rescue but also sustaining them in the desert. But as they daily depended on their manna, they still forgot God's goodness.

After they deemed that God took too long with Moses, they decided to make something they could worship. Something they could control and make with their own hands. It was a golden calf. And Aaron, their leader went along with it, in fact he oversaw it. 

 It is devastating that we would ever forget God. Just thinking of the fact that Jesus came, lived the life we could not live perfectly and then died for our sin on the cross is enough for us to not ever worry. God was so good to send His son to take the punishment for sin that was owed to us. Jesus stood in our place. That is enough for us to know His goodness. 

Yet God does so much more in His goodness toward us through all of the promises He gives us in His word.   God poured His love out on us so that we never need to fear. Yet, we forget. We try to make our own idols to worship. Idols that we can control. Things like a impenetrable schedule, or anger that continually bugs or harasses the people with the answers we need, or impatience so we step in front of God in stepping on others for that new position. There are many subtle ways we do this that we do not consider idolatry but it is idolatry. 

Do you think of worry as a subtle form of idolatry? Have you ever considered it to be sin? What are some ways you cope with worry?
 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Living with Teenagers!

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First, I must say, I love my family. I would die for any of them. They are the greatest gift that God has given me. They are the best gift I could ever get in this life.

However, great gifts don't always come without great difficulty. Our family dynamics are vast, interesting and intentional. Yes. I said, intentional.

God gives us everything, including our family members, in our lives that will be used to shape and mold us into Christ-likeness. He does this because He is a good Father. He has a foreknowing of what we need to stop being brats. He knows what it will take in our lives to cause us to lay down our lives freely, like Jesus. Then with the laying down of life comes real resurrection power and the life we were meant to live.

Jesus gave us the example and did not leave us alone to navigate the here and now. In fact, if we are found in Him, He lives in us! How amazing is that?!

Now with that said, I have to come clean about my attitude about teens. I love teens. I loved working with that age group before I have my own teens. It was my absolute favorite age group to work with. I mean, these are younger image bearers who are figuring out how they want to live their lives. It is awkward and messy and weird at times. It is frustrating at times but powerfully beautiful seeing them overcome the many obstacles of life in their generation. It is definitely an interesting and exciting time of life.

Yet, as much as I love working with teens, it is an entirely different thing when you live with teens. The full "24/7 in each others space" pressure that pushes the sinfulness out of our hearts kind of real is what we get in this phase of life. It is raw and rough at times. Think toddler hood, round 2. Except now these precious growing humans have an ability to freely express their minds.

Though, life is messy now, I love it. We have a great ability to reason with our teens that we didn't get when working with toddlers. Now, they are able to really understand the why to our rules. Also, we get to move more into a coaching role as we let them have more freedom and make more decisions on their own under our safe space.

However, while these precious ones are blooming into adulthood, most of us have aging parents to also think about. That adds more pressure to this stage of middle age. It really exposes you for who you are. You can chose to embrace it, repent, and rely on gospel grace or be grumbling and miserable. God is really shaping and molding us as these challenges come our way.

I don't like the typical teenager they cast for roles on television shows. I think they get it wrong. Teens don't hate their parents. They truly don't. They do crave attention and direction. They will seek this out wherever they are accepted and can find it. We can offer this in the home to them. If we don't then they will become distant. They need you now more than ever.

Think of it this way, they are seeing things in this world for the first time in a new lens. Part of growing up is figuring out who you are, what you want to do with your life, and who you are without your parents. This is incredibly stressful. It is a time of searching and introspection. We have the opportunity to influence that. We have the responsibility to help them grow into the people that God would have them be. Not who we want them to be but who God made them to be.

What is your biggest challenge with your teens? Or what have you observed and stereotyped? How can you help this next rising generation? What are your fears? What are you joys in this stage?

Monday, February 13, 2017

When you Grumble, You Are Forgetting God

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Life is hard. I get it. It is very tempting to grumble and complain. I must also make a confession, I really need to grow in this area. I need His grace. If you struggle like me, I hope this will help encourage you like it did me.

Romans 1 speaks about the wrath of God. Not a really fun thing to think about but apart from Christ's intervention, we all deserve this wrath. Yet, because Christ stood in our place and we find ourselves in Him, we are no longer in danger of this wrath.

Despite this truth, we live and place ourselves in the same kind of picture that those addressed in Romans experience. The downward spiral of the wrath of God.

They Knew God but Didn't Love God
First, in Romans, God makes Himself known to the people but they refuse it. They don't love God. So in a response of not loving their loving Creator, they live for themselves. Christian, we must guard ourselves if we believe we are in Christ. In Romans 1:21, it states two things, they knew God but did not honor Him as God and they did not give Him thanks but became futile in their thinking.....

Later in Romans, Paul is making an appeal to the people of God to live as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God because it is our act of spiritual worship (12:1). We do this by not conforming to the culture and renewing our minds (12:2).

God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on our behalf to make us right with God. When we forget this, we start to walk in dangerous territory of disobedience to God. We hurt the others around us and don't bring God glory (Philippians 2:14-16).

Essentially we are saying, God is not good. God is not giving me what I want. God does not love me. It is the classic attack from the enemy in the garden. Doubting God's love and goodness. Then we grumble.




Grumbling is an outward expression of what is going on in the deeper recesses of our hearts.
 
I have been reading through Exodus and I was baffled at how the children of Israel could grumble against God's goodness just 3 days after they escaped Egypt. They saw all the miracles against Pharaoh, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, followed God who appeared as a cloud and pillar of fire yet, three days after they were finally free, they started complaining. Read it in Exodus 15:22-27.

God was still gracious to them. He continues this pattern over and over. He does things to test them. And testing is worthy of a new post. It is a good thing. It exposes the dark places of our hearts.

When I Grumble I Forget God
I should not be surprised at the children of Israel's grumbling, especially when I do it too. I have seen the greatest miracle, Jesus death and resurrection. I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I know that He is making all things new and coming back for us at the proper time. I know I am rested securely in God's love. There is no reason for me to grumble. But I do it.

God is still gracious and long-suffering when we complain. When we see this in our hearts we are free to repent and walk in the right direction again. There are a lot of strategies that God gives us through His word to help with this, worthy of another post. I am praying that God gives us the grace to stop our complaining and to remember God.

What do you often feel tempted to complain about? How do you deal with that? Have you even considered that grumbling is a sin?

Leave a comment, maybe we can help each other out by prayer and reminding each other to remember the goodness of God.
 
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