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You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. Exodus 23:2 (NKJV)

Another time Kristen Kansiewicz suggests you should consider seeing a professional Christian counselor is when conflict becomes repetitive or escalated.  As she explains, the sad thing is that “too many couples or families wait until things have fallen apart before seeking counseling. Some only go to counseling as a last-ditch effort or to prove that they ‘tried’ to make things work.”

You should not wait until you are at the end of your rope; seek counseling when you notice conflict that is repetitive, cyclical or it is escalating.  When it seems like you continue to argue and fight about the same thing every day for days, weeks, or months on end, it’s time to see a professional who can help you uncover the root of the conflict, teach you new communication strategies, and guide the process of rebuilding trust.

Continual family conflict can develop into such things as depression or anxiety, so it is important to get help before the conflict takes over your emotional life.

Anytime You Just Need to Talk.  Kansiewicz says that “there is no ‘right time’ to go to a professional counselor, and if you are thinking about seeking help it may be a sign that now is a good time to do it.”  We all have those times when we get “stuck” and just need someone to help us see ourselves from a different perspective.  Sometimes friends can help, but sometimes your problems can go beyond what friends can give.  Look for Christian counselors in your area (for instance, the NAD family ministries website has a list around the North American Division.   www.NADfamily.org).  You can also ask your pastor or friends if they know a good therapist.

You don’t have to try to be brave and try to figure things out on your own.  We would be better off by humbly step into the counselor’s office so we can begin to experience healing and freedom once again.

Father God, there are some things I just can’t deal with all by myself.  Help me and guide me to a good counselor who may show me the way toward health and healing.

Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counselor perished? For pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. Micah 4:9 (NKJV)

Kristen Kansiewicz suggests a few more times you should consider seeing a professional Christian counselor:

When Tragedy Strikes.  Typically when we experience the death of a loved one or a traumatic incident, we get a lot of support from family, friends, coworkers, and our church family.   We receive cards expressing sympathy, people bring food to our house, and some people offer comforting conversations.  Unfortunately, after some time all these expressions of love and support begin to wane or go away altogether.  Grieving is a normal process and some of us can walk through that dark valley of the shadow of death with the support we have in our lives. Others experience great amounts of pain which goes above and beyond what any family member or friend can provide.

Death is not the only thing that can cause us serious consternation.  Traumatic events can also affect people and it affects different people differently. Some people experience anxiety symptoms right away, while others seem to be more resilient in the first few months after the event but they then experience a sudden wave of flashbacks or thoughts about it.  There are people who bounce back without experiencing any clinical symptoms at all.  Nobody knows why we all respond differently, but anytime you have experienced a traumatic event it is worth talking about it with a professional. Getting support can both help you learn to cope, and it helps your brain to process them into long-term memory.

In speaking about the death of her husband, Ellen White writes, “My husband’s death was a heavy blow to me, more keenly felt because so sudden. As I saw the seal of death upon his countenance, my feelings were almost insupportable. I longed to cry out in my anguish…I sought help and comfort from above, and the promises of God were verified to me. The Lord’s hand sustained me.”[i]  While God sustains us, we can also seek help from professionals.

Father God, sometimes you use others to help us.  In my time of grief and anguish please lead me to those that will help me.

[i] White, E. G.  Life Sketches, 257

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

Yesterday we began to talk about when you should seek professional Christian counseling.  When you experience depression is one of those times.  At the other end of the spectrum, mood changes can also come in the form of manic symptoms. These could include such symptoms as unusually elated mood, a lack of need for sleep, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, and poor attention span. Other symptoms are an inflated sense of self (grandiosity), extreme or risky behaviors like driving recklessly or spending excessive amounts of money and over-involvement in multiple tasks at once.

Keep in mind that mood changes can take place at any time of life.  In the United States, depression is one of the most commonly experienced disorders. Short episodes may not be of concern; the key is more than two weeks continuously.

When Anxiety Starts to Take Over.  It’s not unusual for all of us to experience common, everyday worries about work, our kids or financial difficulties. However, “some experience anxiety symptoms that go beyond basic anxious thoughts and move into a full-blown physical anxiety.  This sometimes comes in the form of a sudden panic attack, in which one’s heart is pounding, thoughts are racing, dizziness sets in and palms are sweaty. Keep in mind that while these symptoms are often very scary, they do pass after a period of a few minutes or sometimes up to an hour.” [i]

A counselor can help you learn ways to cope, address any root problems that might exist, and connect you with other resources that could help (such as a support group).  Getting support can help you learn to cope, and talking about your experiences helps your brain to process them into long-term memory.  In some severe cases you may need to take some medication temporarily until the symptoms decrease or disappear altogether.

Keep Jesus’ promise before you, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28, 29)

Father God, help me quiet my anxious heart.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Times-You-Should-See-a-Counselor/

For I looked, and there was no man; I looked among them, but there was no counselor, Who, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Isaiah 41:28 (NKJV)

As Kristen Kansiewicz[i] writes, “emotional problems can be complicated, and it is sometimes hard to know when you need to seek professional help.  Too often, we wait for problems to resolve on their own, or we minimize symptoms of mental illness, trying to conquer them through prayer or willpower. In many churches, there is a stigma that comes with seeing a counselor. For too many, entering a therapist’s office feels like an admission of failure.”

When we have a fever that doesn’t go away, or a part of our body hurts badly, or we have some symptoms that somethings is not right with our digestion we go to the doctor.  We’re not embarrassed or ashamed; we do it in order to feel better and enjoy good health.  Going to see a professional Christian counselor simply means you are seeking emotional support for something beyond your control.  There are many things that are simply beyond our control; for instance, brain functioning, relationship complications, or a tragedy.  What you can control is the steps you take to become well again. Kansiewicz suggests there are at least five times you should consider seeing a professional Christian counselor:

When your mood changes for more than two weeks.  Our mood may change for a few hours or even for a few days; however, if it persists for at least two weeks it could be a symptom of a depressive or manic episode.  Sometimes we use the word “depression” to mean we are discouraged or deeply sad.  As Kansiewicz explains, “Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest in most activities, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, changes in sleep (sleeping too much or not enough), and unusual changes in weight. Other symptoms include restlessness, difficulty with concentration, and wishes for death or thoughts of suicide.”  Of course, anyone actively thinking about suicide should go to their local emergency room right away or call the National Suicide Prevention Line at (800) 273-8255.”  We will continue with these issues for the next few days.

Father God, help me to find help a good counselor when I need help.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Times-You-Should-See-a-Counselor/

Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17 (NKJV)

We continue with the five ways you can help your children grow and mature in the faith as suggested by Karen Huber[i] Yesterday we talked about the importance of worshipping and serving together as a family.

Encourage questions.  One way to learn to ask questions is by using a board game called “The Ungame.”  The Ungame is a wonderful game to teach us to communicate better by practicing both talking and active listening.  The game includes several cards with questions which can serve as icebreakers in general or for couples.  One set in particular has questions for spiritual understanding.  For instance, “What does baptism mean to you?”  “Who is Jesus?”  A question like, “A time when it helps me to remember God’s promises is … ” can encourage your child to place God’s word in his or her everyday life. These types of questions and conversation starters may lead your child to reflect on their understanding of God and their faith.  We don’t want children to simply memorize and respond like robots or computers; we want them to live and experience faith in God.   You can also make these conversation starters a habit at the breakfast table or at bedtime and allow the conversation to go where God leads.

Consider commissioning your children as they start the school year. Huber writes, “Help them to understand their spiritual gifts or love languages and how to practice them at school. A child who’s love language is service can be a wonderful helper for new students. Praise and affirm the godly gifts you recognize in your child. Pray for them before that first day, that they would feel God’s presence during their days and that He would show them ways to be a light, loving and serving their classmates and teachers. This can help them understand their place in God’s story and the world.”

We close with these challenge: “In order to be teachers, parents must be learners, gathering light constantly from the oracles of God and by precept and example bringing this precious light into the education of their children.”[ii]

Father God, help me to be a good learner and a good teacher.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home. p.184

SEPTEMBER

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Matthew 8:10 (NKJV)

Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith. Yesterday we talked about starting young.  Don’t wait until they are older, when you think they can understand.  They can appreciate, learn, and understand a lot from the time they are very small.

Let them see you worship.  When our daughters were born, my wife didn’t take a break of several week or months from church.  The very next week after their birth they were at church.  Sure there were times she needed to take them out because they were a bit cranky or sick, but they were in church from the time they were born.  Sometimes parents of newborns feel that they should wait to take them to church until they are older or until they are ready.  It’s best if the family worships at home and at church together from the time they are born so they get used to it and make worship a part of their lives.  You may also want to make sure your church includes children in the worship service.  If they don’t suggest it to the pastor and church board.

Give and serve together. Look for ways to serve with your family, in your church and in the community.  You can find opportunities to serve in community soup kitchens, raking an elderly neighbor’s yard, prayer walking your neighborhood, or sponsoring a child in need to attend church school.  When you get involved in mission service together as a family you will help your own children put feet to their faith. As Huber states, “Serving and giving together allows them to practice acts of love for neighbor and obedience to God.”

We play a very important role in the lives of our children. “Parents should in a special sense regard themselves as agents of God to instruct their children, as did Abraham, to keep the way of the Lord. They need to search the Scriptures diligently, to know what is the way of the Lord, that they may teach it to their household.”[ii]

Father God, guide us to worship and serve together as a family.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.184.

When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)

From the moment they are born, we have so many dreams and wishes for our children.  We hope they will be good students, have good health, will one day have a good job, and finally that they will find a good spouse to marry, have a good home, and children of their own.  Among the hopes we have for them, none of them stands higher than the hope that the y will have a good relationship with God, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, be guided daily by the Holy Spirit, and become good members of God’s church.  Sometimes we worry, or fear, that they will not walk in the Lord’s ways, that they will leave everything we believe and love, turn their backs on our faith and our God, and be lost.

We need to remember that everyone of us, including our children, have the gift of freedom of choice.  Just like us, they can also choose between following God or not.  Our responsibility as parents is to show them and teach them to love Him and follow Him, but the ultimate decision is theirs and theirs alone.  So, how can we naturally and consistently guide our children as their faith matures?  Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith:

Start young.  Even before the child is born they hear their parents’ voices.  Make it a habit to talk and sing about God.  Once they are born, continue the practice of singing to them; and the songs your sing to them in the nursery will be the first opportunity they will have to hear of God’s love for them.  Pray for your children out loud, as you hold them, and throughout the day and throughout their growing years. You can also help your toddler to recognize and name God’s creation as they touch the grass and the flowers, as you answer their questions about the clouds in the sky.  You can teach your preschoolers how to give thanks. Share stories about who Jesus is to you.  Make the bible stories personal and practical to their young minds.

Father God, use me to help grow my children in faith in you so they will love you and serve you always.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

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