Recently, A friend was explaining to me a brief anecdote about a sledding debacle at her family farm. Her two granddaughters were out back sledding down the hill, across a frozen pond, and up the opposite slope as a deceleration slope. She could tell they were having fun, and she was about to head out and join them when all of a sudden, the following scenario played out.
The first granddaughter, Hope, was heading up the deceleration slope after a nice fast run, and her sister Faith, was coming right behind her. Due to a timing miscalculation (or maybe a little mischief!), Faith did not wait long enough before heading down the slope – and just so happened to end up in the exact same spot coming up the opposite slope that her sister was coming down.
You guessed it. As Hope came drifting down. Grace was ramping up! Thump (or whatever sound two inner-tubes make crashing on a snowy slope!).
After making sure everyone was alright, it was a good laugh. Anecdotally, here’s the punch line I used for a sermon illustration:
If hope is coming down, it just needs a little faith to bump it back up!
In case that doesn’t sound right, remember, faith isn’t blind-belief; it’s trusting God to do what He has said He will do, and what He has demonstrated he is faithful to do many times before. Next time you’re bumped off your inner-tube, remember that – and get right back on it!
It’s interesting to note that the first Christmas recipients (those at the birth of Christ) were not aware that a plan had been set in motion which would lead to Easter. In fact, if they had been told about Easter then, they probably would have agreed with the song by 4 Him titled “What a Strange Way to Save the World” (see the video here).
All through the narrative of Jesus’ life, we see the evidence that no one had close to the right idea of how Jesus would fulfill the promise of “making all things new and right”. When they did finally catch a glimpse of what his idea of “fixing everything” looked like, most of them didn’t understand how this was God’s best solution. Yet, everyone was excited about his birth and the idea that God was enacting this long awaited promise of salvation! If you want to hear the message first hand, read Luke 2:1-20!
I am reminded that we are often like those first recipients in our daily lives. We are looking for, waiting for, possibly expecting, God to heal our hurts and make things right. But sometimes, His ways of using people and taking time and allowing process and pain don’t always make sense to us. This is when we learn the true meaning of Hope. If we believe that God is only Good, loves us and wants what is best for us, is powerful enough to do what He wants, and creative enough to make it happen no matter what else is complicating that, then we are experiencing Hope the way those first hurting souls did too.
This Hope isn’t something unsure as in, “I really hope this happens!”. This Hope is a truly believed-in-expectation that we simply haven’t experienced all the way yet.
Be encouraged this Christmas if you have need to remember that no matter what you are going through, if Christ is your Savior, the solution, healing, and restoration will come! Keep doing whatever it is you have been given to do and trust Him to be who has always been – Your Perfect Chain-Breaking, Way-Making, Compassionate, Understanding Father.
Occasionally, I hear a well -intentioned comment that sounds something like, “Counseling? No! There’s no counselor who can fix this.”
While it saddens me to be reminded that so many people reject the professional help that is so readily available to them, I have to admit that I whole heartedly agree with those statements.
Counselors don’t actually fix anything.
One of the things my family and I like to do together is watch those gladiatorial competitions on TV where athletes from around the globe will compete for some ultimate title based on their physical agility, strength and prowess. When watching these, very often the production team will fill in program minutes by giving the viewers the backstory of the contestants. We will find ourselves transported to Italy, Siberia, or even West Virginia, where the cameras reveal the contestants in their home settings, training and living life.
One of my favorite parts about this part of the program is seeing the contestants’ trainers in the background. Often, the contestants will be doing incredible acts of athleticism while their coach is in the background giving direction and challenging them on some specific aspect of performance.
This is A LOT like counseling. Many of the individuals who come to counseling have the resiliency and strengths necessary to “compete” in their arena of life, but they need some sort of coach who can help give direction, encourage endurance, and challenge on aspects of performance in order to help that person achieve the best possible and most fulfilling results. That being said, just as it is not the coach doing the work to achieve victory at the end of a great competition, it is not the counselor who is doing the work to find healing and/or progress in therapy. The counselor does the work of enabling and focusing transformation, but the transformation is wholly in the hands of the individual applying the work through their own effort and endurance.
This points out two profound realities for me as a therapist (counselor). First, not every trainer fits with every athlete. There is a powerful alliance that is formed when the right duo teams up with the right goal for that competitor. Likewise, the right alliance needs to be formed by pairing the right therapist with the right person seeking help. And they need to discern the appropriate goals for that alliance. Only then can they achieve victory beyond what is possible alone.
Second, it is incredible to note how many “normal” people are champions over their specific challenges because the right alliance enables them to do what they never believed or thought possible. I am often amazed at the transformation that occurs when people begin to believe in themselves and utilize the tremendous resources they find within that therapeutic alliance.
Here at The Center For Human Development, we are proud to be able to be a part of that journey for so many champions. We look forward to seeing many more!
Change is about to hit again! School will start and summer will officially end. Work schedules will change for many, and family life will adjust to another cycle of academia and extra curricular pursuit! This brings excitement for many, but for others, it may usher in a little apprehension.
Sometimes, the change we want isn’t the change we get, and the change we need, we feel powerless to effect. Here’s some real practical and encouraging advice on how to make the best out of the power you do have – to be the change you want to see! Remember, if you need help to get there, we at CHD are here to help!
As tornado sirens filled the late evening air, hail stones barraged the residents of the small rural town I called home late one Sunday evening. At the break of new day, the remarkable thing was the relatively small amount of damage to the area and the homes in the wake of the storm. Dented vehicles, battered siding, and a few roofs beaten up.
But I noticed that the most vulnerable of places in every house and vehicle – the windows – were amazingly intact. Not a single broken pane anywhere – at least by initial report and personal observation.
Now come on! Hail stones the size of golf balls, and in some cases, small apples, and not a broken window anywhere? There’s a lot of windows, even in a small town. That’s darn near miraculous!
You know, we too, have all kinds of vulnerabilities in our lives. Areas where we feel chained to fear, defeat, or denial. Some we aren’t even aware of, but their presence is verified in how they effect our daily existence. The enemy thrives on finding our vulnerabilities and throwing his fiery darts at them to cause as much damage as he can. Usually, our vulnerabilities are revealed through temptation (a tool of the Enemy) or trial (a discipline of Grace).
But if you have been redeemed by the awesome power of the Gospel truth, you have a very precious promise available to you. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, speaking to a church with a LOT of vulnerabilities, Paul reminds them and us that if we trust God in the midst of the onslaught against our vulnerabilities, God will provide the means to endure and be victorious. I don’t know what you’re going through, but look out your vulnerable, yet intact window – and be reminded that you are under Divine protection and provision!
What’s revealing your vulnerability? A temptation that you need to flee from? Or a trial that you need to submit to and receive training from? Our vulnerabilities are there to help us see. But the point of being able to see, is so that we can respond to what it is we are seeing. If you need help fighting and fleeing the temptation; or if you need someone to walk with you through the trial – first look for that friend that God always seems to provide – and then give us a call if needed. We’re here to help. No matter the vulnerability, you can be victorious Image Bearer!
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, the Apostle Paul instructs us to, “… take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Have you thought about how practical and useful that is for you today? One of Lucifer’s many names in Scripture is “The Father of Lies.” Jesus told His critics (those who rejected Christ) that the native language of their father (the Devil) is lies.
We live in a world where advertisements tell us we are incomplete, insufficient, unhappy, and unremarkable – without their product! People at work and school hint that we need to be more, better, stronger, and _____________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes in our own homes and throughout our world, we are surrounded by criticism, shame, comparison, and guilt. Sometimes, criticism can be good because it challenges. At times, comparison can be illustrative and illuminating. Once in a while guilt and shame lead to Godly repentance. This is all good.
But often times, the world speaks the native language of its father, and the result is not constructive, good, or redeeming. It’s destructive, crushing, and demeaning. But we are told that we can take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.
So if you’re having a tough week, a rough couple of months, a lousy year already, where everything seems to be against you, remember this: YOUR Father’s native language is love. If you have Christ as your personal Savior, then you can take every negative and critical thought captive.
So when you hear the Liar’s voice, you just tell him:
“I am a child of the King! He created me on purpose and for a purpose! He knows every flaw in me better than me and you and STILL He loves me! He is in control of it all and He chooses to use me today! Right Now! And I will listen to Him!” Take the negative thought captive and release the thoughts that are real and True from Heavens perspective. By the way, when you take that thought captive, it dies. It doesn’t linger and fester and grow. You don’t need it; lies are useless once the truth is revealed. If you don’t kill it, it will do everything it can to kill you! Remember, one of you will be the captive!
Be a thought captivator! Who knows, maybe someone else needs to hear for the first time in their life, that they can do the same. Let His voice be louder than the Liar’s. Be a blessing this week Image Bearer!
I heard a wonderful testimony a while back about how God had redeemed a life from such deep brokenness, hatred, and criminal activity, that it was hard to believe the individual giving the testimony could ever have been the same person. In comparison, I’m almost embarrassed by the ‘blandness’ of my 12 year old conversion.
Have you ever experienced that? Having listened to such a powerful, life-transforming experience, you feel very shallow in comparison for not having experienced something so dramatic?
Colossians 1:13 & 14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
It’s interesting to note from Colossians that we were all enemies of God in our mind and behavior (v. 21) before being saved, but notice what it says in the above verse. “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness…”
I don’t have a deep and tragic backstory to my own depravity. But I am reminded here that I, like every other testimony-giver, have been rescued from Darkness. I know who I am in Christ. and part of that is knowing who I would be without Christ. When I catch glimpses of my anger or pride I recognize how much more my “darkness” could have matured with me as I aged – had Christ not saved me! So my testimony is not that I am drastically different from the 12 year old sinner I was, but that I am not the man I could have been.
Be encouraged by Grace! Celebrate the testimony that you do have – and share it with others. The value of a great testimony is not necessarily in how drastic the change in us was, but in how much we grow to love and look like Jesus no matter where we come from. We have all come out of the dark! If you haven’t yet, you can, and the Center For Human Development is here to help – no matter how simple or drastic the need. There is always hope. Live in the Light Image Bearer!