We are living within a pressure driven society! There is a myriad of social pressures that are imposed on one to make them feel the need to fit in. This can at times cause undue stress and result in unfavorable behavior. These behaviors are not readily discussed but are becoming more prevalent! Fitting in is not easy and makes it harder to transition through the stages of youth and early adulthood development. For some it is much more difficult than others. As a matter of fact we have a growing number of individuals that are self mutilating themselves in order to relieve intense inner pressure. Self injury is on the rise!
What? Yes, they harm themselves; they are a part of the growing number that leans towards cutting themselves. Growing up can be painful and difficult! Did you know that not being like everyone else really is okay! Once you accept this you won’t have to cut yourself to feel okay! Everyone still on this side of Heaven is here to learn and grow… You are like a beautiful flower waiting to bloom!
What is cutting?
Cutting is when someone takes a blunt object, pin, paper clip, scissors or a razor blade and proceeds to make cuts on their wrists, arms, legs, thighs or torso to the point that they bleed. Some will even burn themselves or harm themselves in some other way. This is usually done in a place that is less noticeable! It is becoming an increasing reoccurring behavior that can become addicting. It often goes unnoticed because the self mutilator will make excuses for the cuts and bruises or try very hard to keep them hidden by making excuses. Oh the cat scratched me, or I fell in the bushes, i slipped, or I scraped myself on the… Cutting is considered an impulse – control behavior reaction!
Who cuts themselves?
Cutting is something that is done by both genders. It appears that female teens and younger women are primarily the predominate participators. However there are a growing number of guys who cut themselves as well. There are a number of reasons why they result to such drastic measures. Some cut because they know that their friends cut themselves. One viable cause that jumps out is the need for inner, “relief!” They are tormented and driven by thier pain. These individuals feel and enormous amount of pressure!
Books on “Cutting”
Someone who is cutting can’t always freely express themselves and they often feel as though they are emotionally knotted up. The need for a release is why they begin cutting. Some like the way the cuts look and when they begin to heal will reopen the cuts. You can’t really force someone to stop cutting. So what do you do? Lend a listening ear and let them know that you care! Yelling at someone who is cutting is not very helpful. Approaching them with patience and concern is a much better method if you really want to help them. Be firm in letting them know that they need to get some relief; but in a healthier way. Allow them some time to vent… Encourage them to seek help!
Signs of Cutting
There are a few signs that you might notice such as …………Continue Reading
Music for Healing – Balm In Gilead
This is a splendid, impressive, awe-inspiring Psalm! It starts with a complaint, progressively takes you on an expedition of distress and at its conclusion you find hope & relief! What a marvelous spiritual journey! As David did quite often, know we too can earnestly cry out to the Lord at anytime! Here we can find comfort knowing that in even our darkest moments we can find respite and solace in the Lord! Whatever you may be going through you can rest assured that God is totally aware of whatsoever is happening! You are not alone! Although David complains at first he eventually launches into a powerful heartfelt prayer!
What is so beautiful about the Lord; you can just be who we are! If you are not in a good place ask Him to help you! We can’t fool God! He sees us from the inside out! We are ALL totally transparent to Him! Therefore it really is best for us to sincerely confess how we are feeling and what’s going down or happening in our life and then ask the Him to help us be where we need to be.
One of the fabulous wonders of life is; the ability to be able to grow spiritually is lifelong! Discovering who you are in the Lord can bring “Joy” for the journey! Joy is part of the Fruit of His Spirit! God is beyond able!
David goes through some tumultuous moments, days & years! No doubt there is a plethora of responsibilities and numerous challenges with him being the King, a father and “a man after God’s own heart!” I Samuel 13. He was the greatest king ever to rule over Israel! He was a man of great character and had steadfast trust and faith in the Lord! Yet it is clear with all that wisdom, and power he still needed the Lord! There were times of great distress and notable times he succumbed to his weaknesses… Yet he repented genuinely and pressed forward. His heartfelt confessions and accolades of praise inversely permeate throughout the duration of these Psalms!
Here he presents a question to the Lord! “How long?” We never know how long or short our test or trial will be but we can during the process; “Trust in the LORD with ALL our heart and lean not to your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and HE WILL make your path straight…” Proverbs 3. God will direct our path through whatever circumstance that presents itself! We however must position ourselves to hear Him and see clearly the narrow path. We can trust His Word!
There are many amazing and glorious stories of David’s plethora of experiences and turbulent times! However his good days outweigh them all! He was an exceptional king! Here in the Word of God we have a brilliant reliable record that the Lord brought him through each time! Therefore we can REJOICE knowing that this is the same God that we love and serve! Holy and Mighty is the LORD our GOD! He is the “GREAT I AM!” God truly is able!
~ PSALM 13~
Book of Praise Lesson Highlights
“A Psalm of David.” The Prayer For God’s Answer – NOW!
Theme: Praying for relief from despair. We must continue to TRUST GOD even when He doesn’t answer us immediately.
The 6th of seven “penitential” Psalms
Here David’s soul is in calamitous anguish! He vociferously cries out in the midst of his troubles! His heart is heavy laden and his mind is bothered! He heavily contemplates upon what will be the duration of his current dilemma that seems to be without end!
David desperately wants to hear from the Lord! He apparently is beginning to feel apprehensively anxious and impatient. So much so he asks the Lord if He has forgotten him? Here we get a glimpse of the close intimate relationship David has with the Lord! He candidly expresses the depth of his inner feelings! He is being beleaguered by his emotions! He wants some answers and is beginning to display much impatience… “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?”
David is so beside himself that his mind is heavy with thoughts! His confidence is diminishing and he feels that his persecutors appear to be winning triumphantly over him? Everyday his heart is burdened more and he is now simply anxious and weighed down with worry! Many lessons here for us to learn!
The Word of God is so vitally important! In the New Testament in Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells us; “DO NOT be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God which transcends understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4. When we are going through we must make a sincere effort to focus on the Lord and allow Him to lessen the load in His time. This of course can at times be easier said than done… Through Jesus Christ He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit to be our Teacher & Comforter! When we remain focused on Him He can and will guard our hearts and minds! “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
David feels so bad that he is pleading with the Lord to relieve him! The pain is so ghastly he fears death! The pressures of life are making Him feel so hopeless he is overcome with worry! He feels as though his enemies will overtake him and over power him and that they will soon celebrate his downfall. “Look on me and answer, O LORD my GOD. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say; “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”
As soon as David expresses his doubts and fears his load is lifted to the point he is now rejoicing! His trust and confidence in the Lord takes the forefront! How appropriate because the Lord time after time has brought him through. David now feels the Lord will save him! Here we too can rejoice in this life lesson because; “The Lord is Faithful!” He will deliver us and keep us as well! We in turn must keep our focus on Him and not the situation! We too must learn to trust Him! Like David we can be confident in the Lord!
Behind ever dark cloud there is light! This is why we must go to the Lord and invite Him into the “messiness” that life sometimes hurls upon us! He will make our path straight! Yet we must position ourselves humbly into His hands in order to hear Him! Although David commences this Psalm complaining and feeling forsaken he does not camp there very long! He does not allow himself to be pulled into the pit of endless depression!
Life can certainly be overwhelming at times! It can appear as though you are all alone and everyone and just about everything is coming against you. But when you have the Lord it is important to know that you are never alone! “This too shall pass!” David shows us in this Psalm that there can be an immediate turn around in your situation. Or if not’ while going through you can acquire more patience! This is why we need a Savior! To save us from the power of sin reigning in our lives and keep us connected to the Lord!
Sin separates us from the Lord and doubt wants to make you worry and weaken your connectedness! When this happens it is the perfect time to seek the Lord’s presence! Invite Him to come even closer and see how He will reveal Himself to you! He can make a way out of no way! At the same time He can cultivate His Fruit within you! This is why while going through we must learn to focus on the many bountiful blessings and promises in His Word! We don’t have to stay in the “How Longs?”The Love of God is powerful! “But I TRUST in your unfailing LOVE; my heart REJOICES in Your SALVATION.” Thank God for Jesus Christ and His precious Holy Spirit! The Lord truly is GOOD! HE IS AWESOME!
This Psalm concludes by saying: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has been GOOD TO ME!”
Today we are living within an upside down world. In many instances what is wrong is embraced as right and what is right is embraced as wrong. This is why it is so very important that you get to know the TRUTH of God’s WORD, firsthand, for yourself intimately and personally! This way you will not be so easily towed right along with everything you hear and see. Paul wanted to alert the Church to see how to recognize and confront “false teaching”. Paul wrote to the Church extensively because he was so concerned that so many were getting caught up with the bureaucracy and the traditions of man. Paul encouraged the Church to preserve, model, embrace and live out Christian principles in every area of their daily life. Today right now we too need to be mindful of these very same things.
Quite often when one reads and visits the corridors of Scripture they see the characters and situations as merely historical and sometimes fictional. This can often cause one to become far removed from the wealth of applicable practical wisdom endowed within the Scriptures and respond in an aloof manner to the lessons presented and overlook the wisdom lessons intended. The people, prophets, priests and kings were real genuine people, from every facet of life with authentic issues no different than what we see today. God really is the same God who always was and always will be! He is eternal; in Him through His Son Christ Jesus we have the gift of eternal life. Time belongs to Him. We have all the time we need to do whatever it is He has created each one of us to be!
The Book of Ephesians is an excellent Book to indulge your mind in for spiritual enlightenment. The Church became embroiled in endless questions, arguments, politics and controversies that took them away from studying Scriptures. We must be mindful that it is so important to not get side-tracked from the intended purpose. It is important to sincerely desire and ask to be filled with His Spirit in order to glean the true intended meaning of the Scriptures so we can rightfully divide and apply its intended purposes. Many strive for popularity, prestige and recognition rather than seek for God’s approval. These things within themselves are not bad, but we must know that man is fickle and inconsistently changes very easily. Therefore it is important to know that through the Lord we really have everything we will ever need. He really does know everything we think, say do or do not do!
Although it may not be readily tangibly present. We can rest assure that His power is always accessible. Ephesians tells us “Jesus Christ has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight…….” Ponder on this passage of Scripture for a while and go deeply into its contents to glean the intended benefits. Let this reinforce within you the security and spiritual significance that rings forth. It says not some but all spiritual blessings. There are benefits in knowing and having a personal intimate relationship with the Lord. These blessings are not always visible where one can see. But they are available and accessible in the eternal heavenly spiritual realm. This means that they are eternal. God chose us and we belong to Him. This all took place way back before any of us even existed. Our little finite minds cannot conceive the totality of God. We are just minute particles in His whole scheme of things. No matter how small, large, visible or unseen it is all relevant to Him.
When any scene or situation presents itself on our life’s canvas we must seek His direction to properly apply and paint the intended strokes. Having the proper attitude about God is necessary to deal with any present injustices. Persecution and misunderstanding will attempt to take a dominant position to etch insecurity and doubt onto the forefront of your life canvas. Yielding subdued hues and shades of gray to subliminally overshadow the main theme. But as you always keep in mind that God knows you, His Light will shine forth in the midst even when darkness tries to impose itself upon you. We cannot predict the future precisely. But we can focus, trust and put our faith in God our Creator and Maker who knows us and will watch over and protect us living in and upside down world.
God allows both good and bad times for all of us. “He is not a respecter of persons.” We must learn to consistently lean and put our faith and trust in Him. In order to not be pulled into whatever is suddenly hurled into your direction even though intended to snarl, derail, discredit our credibility or entrap us, our focus must be on HIM! We must learn how not to allow insults, injustices or any storm or seasonal moment in time define the totality of our existence. When you spend time in His presence you can abide under the shadow of The Almighty because you know that He knows and that is what ultimately truly matters. Ecclesiastes tells us that, “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth; righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.” The point that I am trying to make is that life has a much deeper meaning than what man sees. Many seek first as a top priority to be affirmed and recognized in the eyes of man. Momentarily this may satisfy an inner longing, life on this side of heaven is short, there really is a much deeper meaning to life.
If all the wisdom, prestige or power that the world has to offer were available it would be but a minute particle in regards to the infinite wisdom and power of the Lord. Perhaps this is why Jesus Christ made Himself of no reputation? Yes we are “in the world but it is Him we move and live and have our being.” Although often unrecognized or accepted by the masses Jesus did not deter from His life purpose. He remained faithful and committed to the will of His Father in and often, cruel, often harsh upside down world.
God sees and knows it all. It is not merely how things appear or seem. We all will have to stand before an all knowing all wise God who knows where our hearts and minds are as well as our intentions. Know the Lord and His Word so you are not towed along with the “false teaching” of anyone. Ephesians says “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything is exposed to the Light becomes visible, for the Light makes everything visible…” God tells us to live as children of the Light. When you are walking in the Light you know that whatever darkness tries to overshadow your life’s canvas, that your Creator, Your maker, Our heavenly Father is omnisciently aware! You can surely trust Him to keep you right side up, living in and upside down world.
Notice how most animals walk on all fours. God Created us as His children to walk uprightly, our hands should be readily available to reach up and Praise Him! It is important to be aware of what is going on about us. We do not want to live in denial neither is it healthy. Life without God is futile, meaningless. God’s Word is our life manual and essential intrinsic tool to help us navigate through life. We can find hope in the midst of sorrow, joy in the midst of sadness, comfort in the midst of pain, encouragement in the midst of persecution and peace within the midst of an upside down world. Make it a priority to spend some time in His Word not only on Sunday or whatever your designated Bible Study night may be. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us “ Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.” Yes we should be aware living in an upside down world, but not totally alarmed. Through the eyes of God we can see and recognize life problems and realize that God does have a plan to take us through whatever comes our way. Through faith we can trust God and always seek His will for our path forward regardless of where you are in life. God has a plan for the lives of all of His children. God’s plan simply is to live for Him. Ecclesiastes ends by telling us that “Now all has been heard here is the conclusion of the matter: “Fear God and keep His commandments. FOR THIS IS THE WHOLE, DUTY OF MAN. For GOD will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” This is true even living in and upside down world.
Counselor & Counseling
Gary Collins has written a comprehensive counseling guide to assist Christian leaders. The author commences each chapter presenting a case history and biblical information to assist the reader with a biblical perspective of the discussion at hand. It is a valuable resource guide for professionals, pastors, individuals as well as students. It has a plethora of information for those who desire a greater understanding in regards to human behavior. It lucratively incorporates a biblical perspective that is quite necessary for those who desire to be “Christian Counselors”.
In the second chapter of his book the author discusses, “The Counselor and Counseling” He states; “Counseling can be gratifying work, but it doesn’t take long for most of us to discover that this also can be emotionally draining, difficult work.” I find this to be a true statement. Whenever you attempt to help someone you must always be aware of your motives. This will help you to keep abreast of your role. As a counselor one must also be aware of their limitations. It is advisable to inform the counselee of your role up front. This will provide the counselee with the opportunity to make their own decision to further engage in counseling. This also positions them in a posture to initiate control in their personal decision making process during counseling. There is a tendency in dealing with certain personalities that transference readily begins to formulate with the counselor. If not addressed they will relinquish and shift control to you. Understanding the nature of compulsive or addictive personalities will assist you in not becoming bogged down. This can also result in feeling drained. There is a great deal of emotional energy that is expended during counseling. The Christian Counselor has a responsibility to present and adhere to biblical ethics. We do not have the power to change anyone. We are to present viable options to assist one in their quest for emotional resolve. I believe that the counselee always has the right to choose even if it is contrary to what I think? God always allows us the right to choose.
The author states “It always is difficult to evaluate your own motives. Perhaps this is especially true when we examine our reasons for doing counseling. A sincere desire to help people is a valid reason for becoming a counselor.” God is aware of our motives. I believe for one to be an efficient counselor they must be certain that it is a “calling from the Lord” and not just a job. Prayer and continual personal Bible study is a necessary tool for the Christian Counselor. This well help you to keep healthy boundaries with your counselee. As a counselor we must be friendly but we should not seek to fulfill our own personal needs. The responsible counselor realizes that their counselee has a need for a professional relationship. The Counselor will help them pinpoint the problem locale and seek to assist in alleviating immediate areas of stress. Although the counselor must be friendly and compassionate they must remain objective. A friend is not always the best person to counsel professionally.
The author talks about varying counseling dynamics such as, the need to control or rescue the counselee. Both of these are dynamics that need to be examined. I personally believe as stated earlier in the counselee’s right to make their own decisions. Rescuing is equally dangerous because we can in fact create an environment where we become part of the problem rather than the solution. Rescuing results in dependency. Dependency results in enabling. The healthy counseling environment should never resort to manipulation. In some cases it is not until you further investigate that one discovers dependency tendencies. Some problem areas may be systemic and need the attention of a specialist. A ready willingness to refer the counselee should be embraced. Again the priority is to help the counselee. A competent counselor should make a conscious decision to keep the environment safe for both the counselor and counselee. I believe the Christian Counselor must be committed to Godly principles. The author states, “Counseling sessions are not likely to be effective if the counselor has a need to manipulate others, to atone for guilt, to please some authority figure, to express hostility, to resolve sexual conflicts, or to prove that he or she is intellectually capable, spiritually mature, and psychologically stable.” When the counselor examines and applies Godly principles this will keep them in check of who is in charge and where their obligation resides. The counselor must always seek to resolve any of their personal behavior issues; but not in the context of a session with their counselee. “Healing ultimately comes from God and a counselor is one of the many instruments used to facilitate the process.
As counselors we should ask ourselves “Why do we counsel?” The author states “Emotional over involvement can cause the counselor to lose objectivity, and this in turn reduces counseling effectiveness” I agree. As a Counselor we are to be involved. We should also be compassionate but not to the degree we loose our objectivity. We do this when we discipline ourselves to incorporate proper time constraints and practice proper guidelines. It is most helpful to let them know that you are a person with shortcomings as well. When I don’t have an answer I just simply tell them “I don’t know.” Then suggest perhaps either or both of us could further investigate information that would enhance and enlighten. I have adopted and freely share the thought “We are all becoming. We never arrive. Life is a continual growing process and when we have learned what the lord wants us to learn we ultimately go home to Him!” Again this is why the scriptures are so important when we desire to counsel. I firmly believe that counseling is a “Ministry”. The scriptures tell us that Jesus is a “Wonderful Counselor.” He is our only perfect example! I agree with the author that expresses “we are His agents doing His work, representing Him. His Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Guide and will lead us to deliver those He has brought to us for help.”
I believe that the Holy Spirit will alert you when a counselee may not have the proper intent. The author states “Regretfully this does not always happen. Some counselees have a conscious or unconscious desire to manipulate, frustrate, or not cooperate. This is a difficult discovery for the counselor who wants to succeed and whose success chiefly comes when people change.” People will often mistake meekness for weakness. They will misinterpret your desire to help. They can see this as an opportunity to manipulate you. That is why you must know that your intentions as a Counselor are honorable. (I learned a great deal working with the homeless.) Quite often there are those who can not financially afford counseling. I have found it important that they realize the value of my time even when it is a very minimal fee or pro bono arrangement. This is not to put myself in a superior position. It is because I have learned that there are those who will “help themselves to you, if you let them.” People do not respect what they do not value. This is why we must always keep and reinforce healthy boundaries. Counseling is often a plea for attention. I have a known case that taught me a very valuable lesson. In my attempt to mentor and counsel I had a scenario that almost got out of hand. It became quite clear to me that this person was trying to control me. They became very demanding. I calmly told them that it would not be a good idea to continue. That they needed help beyond my capacity to help them. I did find out that this person had extensive psychological problems. They appeared to be very sweet. This person initially approached me. They also attended my church. Keep in mind I had learned a great deal of information about this person in counseling. I had also committed not to share anything about them or anyone else unless they resulted to violent or suicidal behavior. They decided that they were going to make my worship environment a difficult place for me. To some degree they were successful. The church was already in an uproar for a number of reasons. However, I stayed before the Lord in prayer. I could not go to the pastor because she had his ear. I later learned she had a lot of information on many members including the pastor. She was an expert at manipulation. To make a long story short I have learned that people will believe almost anything; even in an environment that is supposed to be spiritual. You must continually pray for direction. When your helping is not helping you need to know when to refer them. I have a sign in the office that says “Character is who you are when nobody but God is watching.”
As a Counselor we must uphold Godly principles. We must not support or condone improper morals or conduct. We must learn to balance counseling, prayer, meditation and our personal life in order to prevent burnout. This is true of any profession for a Christian. I make a sincere attempt to help those who the Lord puts in my path. I continue to evaluate, read, take classes, attend workshops and listen to tapes that help my continued growth and education. I take very seriously my responsibility to minister via counseling. I will not compromise my commitment to the Lord or jeopardize the peace He has given me. My partner and spouse are my supporter and encourager. He helps keep me grounded. Collins concludes the chapter stating, “The Bible describes Jesus Christ as the Wonderful Counselor. He is the counselor’s counselor –ever available to encourage, direct and give wisdom to human people helpers.” It is my belief that all Scripture is the infallible Word of God! God is awesome! “To much is given much is required.” God does not entrust us with anything that we are not able to handle. When we finish our life’s quest we have to answer to God! God holds us accountable for our actions. A proper relationship with God is crucial in maintaining an effective counseling ministry.
Welcome to Alpha 7 Ministries, “Ministry Beyond The Walls”. We are a ministry that is committed to helping individuals, couples and families develop a one on one relationship with the Lord. Whether through song or words of encouragement, our Counseling and Music Ministries are here to aid you in your walk with the Lord.
Here you will find a plethora of articles, books, music, and counseling designed to uplift, encourage, inspire, educate, and motivate you. Alpha 7 Ministries is here to help you to “do” what the Lord requires of you.
What does the Lord require of thee?
“To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God”