Mercy Christian Counseling
Welcome! I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and I invite you to share your responses with other readers. Comments that use abusive or vulgar language will be removed. Otherwise, you are free to agree or disagree. May God richly bless you today and always! ~ Dr. Susan
|Posted by mercycounseling on October 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM||comments (120)|
It is my privilege to write this review of The Jew Named Jesus, by Rebekah Simon-Peter. Ms. Simon-Peter has produced a compelling and elegantly written autobiography about how an encounter with Jesus Christ set her on a journey of personal reflection and discovery. She has given us a sensitive and compassionate view of the struggle to integrate Jewish heritage and Christian faith. For its elegance and beauty alone I can recommend it. However, as a Bible-believing Christian, I do find portions of the book to cause me definite discomfort; and so I urge fellow Christians to approach the book with caution. My specific difficulty arises in portions of the book that cast doubt on the God-inspired truth of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' trial and also some of Paul's teachings. These questionable (to me) assertions begin at page 65 with the section, "Timing of the Trial." I also found it interesting that Ms. Simon-Peter distances herself somewhat from these passages, asserting: "First a caveat. I'm no expert on these historical matters." (page 65) The next few pages attempt to discredit the events of the trial, the biblical account of testimony against Jesus, the custom of Pilate to release a criminal to the people, Pilate's reluctance to sentence Jesus, and the culpability of Jewish leaders in Christ's crucifixion. Now I can understand why the Jewish people are so sensitive to this last phrase, namely centuries of oppression and anti-semitism. However, are Christians to discard the authority of the Holy Bible simply because what God has written has been used by fallen human beings for whatever ungodly purposes they choose? I say no, emphatically no. If any portion of the Bible is discarded as "inaccurate," then the entire faith is doomed to fall. We are reminded that the Holy Scriptures say of themselves in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NKJV) Without this as a foundation, we all are standing on shifting sand. Nevertheless, may everyone who reads A Jew Named Jesus discover some golden nugget of truth that speaks to their own faith, by the will of Him who plumbs the depths of every heart.
|Posted by mercycounseling on June 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM||comments (62)|
On June 21 cnn.com posted an opinion piece by Meghan Laslocky titled, "Face it: Monogamy is unnatural." Oh good grief. Ms. Laslocky based her entire opinion on the assertion that human beings are animals, just another mammal. And because scientific observation has discovered that most mammals and birds are not monogamous, that it must be "unnatural" for humans to be so. It appears that the theory of evolution has been elevated to justify what Christians know as sin. Is it any wonder we are in such a state? God's truth and His moral laws are being attacked and discarded in an ever-increasing onslaught of humanistic "wisdom." Well, Ms. Laslocky, human beings are not animals. When God created the animals, "out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air"; but when he made man, he formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. In short, God gave to mankind a spirit, which he did not give to the animals. Humans look like God. He created us in His image. Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Jesus said, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father." I only agree with Ms. Laslocky on this one point: many people are sexually promiscuous. However, I believe it is not an evolutionary characteristic. I do believe it is the result of the fall of man. Inasmuch as sinful humankind is alientated from God and hostile to His divine laws, monogamy appears to be "unnatural." But God says a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. One flesh.
|Posted by mercycounseling on June 14, 2013 at 9:25 AM||comments (73)|
Recently we celebrated Memorial Day, and as part of many of these celebrations in Christian churches all around our country, the following quotation has been repeated and preached on: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) We think of soldiers giving their lives to save the lives of comrades, and we think of Jesus giving His life for the salvation of souls. Taken out of context, John 15:13 easily supports these notions. I want to share a truth the Lord showed me this morning concerning this verse. First let's return John 15:13 to the greater context in which it is found and consider the verses, John 15:12-14, which say, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." If you go even further and read the whole of John 15, you will find that it is an essay on loving Jesus and abiding in him. Jesus speaks passionately of the love relationship among He and His disciples. But returning to John 15:12-14, I believe Jesus was speaking in a parable. We know that in the parables, Jesus always moves from the carnal to the spiritual. I've heard it said that "a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." Indeed it seems to me that Jesus, in John 15:12-14, acknowledges the earthly selfless act of love that causes people to sacrifice their mortal life for another. He commands us to love in that way. Yet there is more. "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." In verse 14 Jesus is speaking of another kind of sacrifice, one that is perhaps even harder to make, because it requires us to continue to live and that in submission to Him. "do whatever I command you." Jesus has given us an example of His total obedience to God, and now He declares that we are his friends IF we do whatever He has commanded. Friends, doesn't this bring the requirements of any ministry into a sharper focus? Our Lord has given us a glorious and frightening challenge. Am I His friend. Are you?
|Posted by mercycounseling on April 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM||comments (100)|
I was looking through a catalog of Bible study materials and Christian self-help books yesterday and I was struck by the sheer volume of choices available to address every human challenge imagineable, materials to dissect and explain the Bible, and materials designed to expand, strengthen, and encourage our walk with Jesus. I thought, "As a minister, how can I possibly add anything of value that hasn't already been addressed?" It was then that the Spirit spoke clearly to me. He said, "Because all these (materials) lack one quality--a human touch; a heart that cares." I know the authors all cared about their subjects, and what God was saying to me is that the materials cannot by themselves accomplish their stated objective. If they could, one would need only to read a book or watch a DVD or listen to a CD on the topic of choice to be instantly healed. No, these materials are doomed to be ineffective unless they are shared between two or more people. God, in His infinite wisdom, created each of us to be a relational being; that is, we need a relationship with God and one or more human beings. The Bible tells us that relating with other believers is important for our well-being. With regard to the church, we are not to "forsake the assembling together" (Hebrews 10:25) but to "comfort and edify one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). To edify means to build up, to encourage. Anyone who is going through a trial or who is pursuing a closer walk with God will benefit from the encouragement-giving, reality-checking, and accountability-producing presence of a brother or sister in Christ. When two (or more) walk together, there is always someone available to lift you out of the pit, so to speak, when you fall in. So the lesson for me (and you) is that, whatever material we choose for spiritual growth, we need to find a partner to share it with, to discuss, debate, and incorporate. We need to find at least one, or perhaps a whole roomful of people, depending on your inborn preference. As we do this, we each provide the "human touch and human heart that cares" to the experience of another, and this helps us produce fruit from the materials selected. And let's not ever forget these precious words of Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:19)
|Posted by mercycounseling on March 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM||comments (68)|
In a previous blog, I posted information about relieving depression through mourning. In that post I mentioned that sometimes depression is caused by anger turned inward. Psychologists know that many times depression is caused by unresolved anger that is turned inward and suppressed. When someone feels that they cannot express their anger, it can become a seething cauldron within that leads to self criticism and profound feelings of guilt and rejection. The person feels helpless to act, too afraid to acknowledge the truth, even to themselves. That dull, gloomy atmosphere of depression that settles in can even mask the underlying anger so that the person suffering this kind of depression may not even realize that anger is the root of their depression. It is important to examine the thoughts and feelings that accompany depression to see if there is anger present, and the person suffering must be encouraged to put that anger into words: who, what, where, when, why? Sometimes anger is suppressed because we think we don't have a right to feel that way, or we fear further rejection. Nevertheless, the feeling exists. A counselor can help sort through the confusing messages a depressed person is telling himself or herself and lead the person out of darkness into the light of truth. A good counselor can also teach basic communication skills to help the angry person express their anger in a healthy way. Once the anger is acknowledged, forgiveness is the final step to healing--forgiveness of self and the other. Forgiving doesn't mean you forget the "sin"--only God can do that. Forgiveness means you accept responsibility for the hurt and cancel the need for revenge. Jesus is our true great example of this. He died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, even though He was Himself sinless. He cancelled the sin debt so that God would forget our sin. This is what true forgiveness is--cancelling the debt. Confronting the anger and learning to forgive is the path that will resolve the depression that comes when anger turns inward.
|Posted by mercycounseling on February 13, 2013 at 8:05 AM||comments (101)|
This morning on the radio I heard a Christian comedian talk about a humorous "proverb" that goes like this: "A closed mouth collects no feet." This is something I think we can all relate to, because who hasn't put their foot in their mouth at some point? Biblical Proverbs have much to say about sticking the foot in, such as this: "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." (Proverbs 17:28) I know I would rather appear wise than foolish, and I bet you would too. The idea of holding one's peace led me to think about being silent, and how silence can indeed be golden, hence the title of today's blog. When we are quiet, we have a greater chance of "perceiving and receiving" the instruction of God. Hence we recall God's command: "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10). Learning to be still to hear God will train us to learn to truly listen to those who are trying to communicate with us. Since God gave us twice the number of eyes and ears as mouths, I reckon we should do at least twice as much observing and listening as talking; and that should give our brain time to engage and help us keep our feet on the ground and out of our mouth. I'm going to start practicing that right away :-)
|Posted by mercycounseling on February 8, 2013 at 8:45 AM||comments (92)|
Part of Nehemiah 8:10 reads, "The Joy of the Lord is your strength." Today I want to meditate upon this sentence, and as you read my meditation, I pray the Lord will open your heart to the message He has for you, which I am sure will be different than what He has given me. Heavenly Father, thank you for the understanding You give which comforts and sustains the spirit of each of us.
THE joy of the Lord is my strength. This is a special kind of joy, that comes only from God. Thank you, God, that the joy you give is unlike any other.
The JOY of the Lord is my strength. It is an emotion of uplifting and expanding exhilarating love and pleasure. O Lord God, I worship you with my whole heart!
The joy OF the Lord is my strength. This joy only comes from knowing God within the circle of intimate relationship. Heavenly Father, there are many pleasures in life that make me happy for a time, but the joy that comes from You is everlasting.
The joy of THE Lord is my strength. The world is full of "lords" and rulers, and all manner of false gods. O God, my God, you are the only true God.
The joy of the LORD is my strength. There is only one Lord, ever existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, thank you that you rescued me from the slavery of sin and death by your atoning sacrifice on the cross. Thank you for sending Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to seal me and sustain me until I can stand before You in the very presence of God, holy and pure, to live with you forever.
The joy of the Lord IS my strength. Moment by moment, day by day, ever in the present, the I AM is here with me. Thank you, God, for promising that You would never leave me nor forsake me.
The joy of the Lord is MY strength. I can possess for myself all His promises: I in Him and He in me. Merciful Father, you have seen our afflictions and know our weaknesses. I am like a child in the arms of her father, protected by his strong arms.
The joy of the Lord is my STRENGTH. He provides me with physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength. He makes it possible for me to rise above my fleshly weaknesses and endure every hardship. Blessed are You, O Lord, for I know that you hear me cry and you forgive my weaknesses. I am strong because I receive strength from knowing YOU. You instill in me a desire to follow Jesus, from whom flows the fountain of life forever. You are my joy and my strength. Your love is beyond comprehension. I long for you in the day, and dream of you in the night; and you satsify my longings with your constant presence. My heart is lifted up, because you have called me your child.
Thank you Lord for all you have done and all you will do. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
|Posted by mercycounseling on February 7, 2013 at 8:00 AM||comments (95)|
I was reading AARP Magazine this morning and came across an article called, "Guide to the Best of Your Life." The article gives 10 recommendations for finding happiness. Item number 7 (note this is the biblical "number of perfection") was titled, "Meet, Pray, Love." Let me quote here the entire paragraph: "While we're not sure whether churchgoing makes you happy or whether happy people tend to be religious, research shows that people who belong to a faith-based community--regardless of religion--and attend services more than once a week, live as many as seven [there's that number of perfection again!] years longer than people who don't. Plus, churchgoers are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, are satisfied with less money and have less stress and a built-in social network. If you belong to a faith community, you'll benefit even more if you volunteer. If you don't belong to one, seek new places of worship that suit your current values and beliefs." Jesus did say, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Thank you, Jesus!