The Abundant Life Blog
The Abundant Life Blog is here to encourage and inspire Believer's to live emotionally healthy lives. Using the Word of God and the principals found within, we will apply concepts to the challenges of daily life.
Occasionally you will see a blog focus on Chain Breaking. At Out of the Woods, we recognize that sometimes our history and our habits work against us -- creating chains on our soul that keep us held back. These blogs are specifically designed to break those chains.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 20, 2020 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
Earlier this week a Facebook friend offered the following question for our group of Christian wives and mothers to consider:
Do you memorize Scripture and if so why?
She was looking for some motivation to become more consistent in her own habit of memorizing. Most responses fell in one of two categories: the Scripture's ability to provide comfort or encouragement in times of need or the Scripture's ability to help with decision making and how to live day to day life. I have to agree with both. I would add that as a counselor, it is helpful to know where the Scripture speaks to concerns my clients present without having to search through the Scriptures for something relevant.
Earlier today, my reasons for memorizing Scripture was expanded. My daughter came to me with a question about whether or not something she was interested in online was appropriate or not. She sort of had an inkling that it was inappropriate, but she really did not have a firm idea as to why. Thankfully, I was able to open the Scriptures not only to show direction in this particular situation, but also to demonstrate that the bible is relevent to our day to day life. So now I would add that memorizing Scripture also provides a way for us to pass onto the next generation the richness of the Word of God.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 21, 2020 at 4:55 PM||comments (1)|
You can argue whether or not it is the right time to start getting things back to normal, but one thing is true -- people are starting to go back to the usual ways of doing things. Just a month or two ago, we had determined that maybe this slower pace of life was a good thing and that maybe we needed to keep some of the changes we had made because of the coronavirus. Just as Proverbs 26:11 warns us, we are slowly returning to what was without any thought as to maintaining the gains of the last few months.
- We have stopped carefully planning our outings and using the delivery services and in store pick-up programs that were saving us money and time.
- We have ceased finding ways to entertain each other at home and returned to seeking excitement and adventure away from home.
- The long walks in nature have gone by the wayside and much to the relief of confused dogs everywhere, walks around the neighborhood have gone by the wayside too.
- Perhaps most concerning to this writer from a mental wellness standpoint, we have once again begun to crowd our schedules with too much stuff. It is as if we are trying to make up for the time we missed.
|Posted by email@example.com on April 30, 2020 at 4:45 PM||comments (2)|
A key component of the lives of believers is the ability to read God's Word in personal bible study. It is so easy to get in the pattern of reading for the sake of reading and not really allowing it to enter our hearts and impact our lives.
There are a lot of approaches to personal bible study. Here one specific approach is examined and, in part, practiced. In the latest video from Out of the Woods, find out how on particular biblical counselor approaches personal bible study. It might be a bit different from what you have heard before. Check it how here... https://youtu.be/oceHVwzg6RM
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on February 19, 2020 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
We need to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. That's how it is. Scripture is clear that we are to interact with each other as we go along our earthly journey. There are 94 verses in the New Testament that include commands about what we are do with "one another". Themes among these verses include unity and love. One way we can love those who are struggling with anxiety is to reach out in a way that is both Christ-centered and effective. Here are a few tips...
- Support scriptures with examples. If a believer has been struggling with anxiety for any length of time, they are already familiar with the typical scriptures use to support ending anxiety. They know 1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7, and Matt. 6:25. Just repeating these verses back to them is not helpful. It tells them that it is possible to have peace and merely reminds them that they do not have it. Instead, support these verses with how you have seen God work in your own life on in the lives of those in Scripture. These verses are very, very true. However, if we throw them at people like a magic spell, the anxious person becomes the depressed person as they ponder why they were not good enough to make the spell work.
- Offer to pray with them regarding their concerns. When we become anxious, very often prayer becomes complaining or begging God as if He doesn't already know what is on our hearts in the hopes that with many tears will fix everything. Your prayers with the anxious person can model other components of prayer that the anxious may overlook. For example, if your prayer includes praise to God for who He is, it can remind the anxious that God is powerful and God is loving and God is merciful. That may be something that was overlooked as the anxious person focuses in on their own anxiety.
- Assist with problem solving. Sometimes anxiety is sparked by a real need, not a want, and there are solutions out there that the individual just isn't aware exist. We can help by doing a little social work sometimes -- with them making the phone calls, shooting out the emails, filling out the applications that can get the resources needed to resolve a problem. This means going beyond, "If you need anything give me a call." This means making suggestions as to what type of help you may be able to provide and then actually following through with it.
|Posted by email@example.com on February 14, 2020 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
Out of the Woods is on Youtube with videos featuring how we can get out of the woods and into God's Word so that we can live lives that are both Christ-centered and emotionally healthy.
This channel was started for a couple of reasons... first, it seems like we are ignoring God's Word when it comes to how we deal with emotional challenges. It seems like more and more believers are turning to psychology for answers. It's not that psychology has no answers, but God's Word has better answers -- more effective answers. The second main reason why this Youtube channel was started was because I wanted to get the word out that there is hope for those with emotional and relationship struggles. This reality does not need to be limited to those who make it into the counseling office.
So head over to the channel. Here's the link. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC825DDqV_wSybO2ZJ1fBxyA/featured?view_as=subscriber" target="_blank">Out of the Woods LLC. When you get there, be sure to subscribe to the channel and hit be bell so that you can be notified when new videos are available. I would love to here your thoughts on what you want to see.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 22, 2019 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
Many have responded to what is currently happening at Bethel Church in Redding, California, where well-meaning but very misinformed worshipers are earnestly contending for 2 year old Olive to be raised from the dead. Many pastors and theologians have already commented on the theological errors have have lead to this movement. I want to speak to the emotional problems.
In addition to the parents who are grieving both the death of Olive and what would have to be the death of portions of their faith, there are many ripple effects of this dangerous approach to demanding that God act in a particular way.
What shall we say to the parents of children who died a week earlier. Were they irresponsible to bury their children? Have the millions of Christians who have buried a loved one somehow had a faith that was not worthy of God's attention or His action? Have we as believer's lacked enough faith to get God to move for 2000 years? There is also an impact when one spends hours and hours fighting for something they cannot have. Add to that chanting in a manner that alters one's state of consciousness and the despair that follows the disappointment can approach clinicall levels.
For all of us who have loved and lost someone, the Word of God provides us hope. That hope does not lie in the possibility of earthly resurrection. The idea that we can force God to heal the dead through hours of chanting and demanding so that the loved one can face years more on this troubled earth instead of being secure and at peace with God himself is selfish. Our hope in scripture is clear. We know that those in Christ have a more wonderous life after death. The ultimate healing is not to be cure of physical illness only to face another illness on another day. The ulitmate helaing is to never die again... to live forever with God... and what a beautiful life it is.
Consider the description of those who come out of the tribulation in Revelations 7: 9-17
9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(English Standard Version)
This is the truth that allows the grieving to move from grief to joy. This is the truth that saves us from despair. If I am to only seek out earthly resurrection as my hope, there is no reason to move from grief to joy. If instead I look forward to a day when I am able to worship God with fear of hunger or thirst, without the possibility of sin, and without any fear or tears, then and only then can embrace tje joy available through Christ.
Let's stop praying for Olive. Olive is doing just fine. Instead, let's pray for her parents and for her church family that they would experience true joy offered in the simplicity of Christ's Gospel.
|Posted by email@example.com on October 17, 2019 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
The bible is full of strategies for getting unstuck and yet as believers being stuck is at epidemic levels. So often we are unable to shake free from patterns of behaviors and troublesome circumstances. Prayer is one of the clearest methods of getting us unstuck. The scriptures are overflowing with prayers that demonstrate how to get unstuck. Here we are going to look at one from Paul's letter to the church at Thessalonica. In the first chapter of his second letter, Paul explains that he has been praying for them...
"...that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power so that the name of our Lord Jesus would be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Is that beautiful or what? Not only do we want to be worthy of the work that God calls us to do, we want our efforts to be in His will and blessed by Him. When we look at this passage in context, we see that the calling of God is mentioned in the previous verse. God is calling us to salvation and specifically to be able to see Jesus in His glory at His return. Then Paul turns our attention back to why the work is important -- so that Jesus will be glorified. We then get to be glorified, but only in Him and only according to His grace.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 is great prayer for getting us unstuck. It is a prayer that we would be living life the way we need to be living life.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 15, 2019 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
It's coming.... After months of study and work, When She Cheats is headed to the editor. When She Cheats was born out of a change I was seeing in my practice. More and more women were reporting that they had cheated on their husbands and in addition to that, the reasons women were reported were not what I was expecting. This sent me on a search for more information and I was shocked by what I found.
Infidelity amoung married women is on the rise. The studies vary, but the trend is clear. More and more married women are having affairs -- not just emotional affairs either. More married women are having physical intimacy with men they are not married to and they are admitting that they do it. This got me thinking why. I'm a curious person so once I got started on the question I couldn't stop.
Then I started wondering, well what do we do about this. Surely if this is happening in the world, this is happening as well in the church. It would be nice if the church led the culture, but the reverse is actually the case. So then the question becomes....
What does the Christian wife caught up in adultery do to get back in relationship with Christ and with her husband?
That is the question I went about trying to answer in When She Cheats. Prayerfully available January 2020.
|Posted by email@example.com on April 23, 2019 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
It's the newest fad in mental health treatment -- support animals. All around the country, therapists are being overwhelmed with requests from anxious, depressed, and socially fearful clients seeking a letter stating it is medically necessary for them to have an animal with them in places where animals are not normally allowed. (I'm not talking about taking a dog to a hospital or nursing home. That's different. It has been around for a while and we know it is effective.) Lots of people say having a support animal is incredibly helpful. They report the animals provide comfort and relief of symptoms. People report they are helpful with phobias like being on an elevator or flying. They reported the animal reduce anxiety during testing situations and interacting with new people. The research is new, but it does (at least in the short-term) support that mental health symptoms can be reduced when animals are present. All that being said, here at Out of the Woods, we do not support the use of support animals. Here's why.
We Don't Know the Long-term Effects
One of the problems with fad therapy interventions is that they are by definition based upon recent, short-term research. Where is the 25 year long study on the efficacy of use of support animals? Where are the studies standardizing which animals are the most effective and what do do if a support animal dies? It is possible one day we will know this information, but in the meantime, almost everyone who is practicing this is a guinea pig. (Pardon the pun.)
Add to that the fact that we do have very effective treatments for the same struggles support animals are supposed to cure. Why not use what we know is effective. Well, a lot of what we know is effective is also uncomfortable. It requires some work on the behalf of the client. It means making changes and we a race really do not like to make changes.
A Support for One Person is Someone Else's Big Problem
Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but nothing drives me more crazy than when someone has a pet I am allergic to in a place I have a right to be. My first encounter with this was a take your pet to work day about 15 years ago. Someone thought it was a good idea to put their pet in my office while I was out for the day. I sick for over a week.
It's not just allergies either. What happens when your pet snake that brings you so much comfort causes some else to have a panic attack? What happens when your support dog decides to protect you by becoming an attack dog? (Which actually has happened.) My point being that sometimes having a support animal is an inconvenience to someone else. If that is the case, by choosing a support animal over any one of a number of other interventions, the supported person is being selfish.
Is that being unfair to those who are using other types of support animals? No. When a guide dog is used to lead the blind it is because that has been determined to be the most helpful intervention. Further, a lot of care is taken in choosing which dogs are trained to be guide dogs so that they really are a service animal not a comfort animal. When a dog is used to predict and assist someone who is having seizures, it is because we don't have another way to do that. We have other ways to deal with test anxiety, fear of flying,
The Comforter is Our Comforter
As believers we really need to focus on what the bible has to say about how to deal with the challenges of life. We are told very clearly what we are supposed to think about so that we can live lives of peace. We are instructed how to take our thoughts captive and how to trust in the God as we focus on His Kingdom instead of our daily, temporal concerns.
Further, the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. It is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for calming our fears and boosting our confidence. Any time we use some other intervention we are moving away from the divine intervention that is perfect and would never bite our neighbor. We have to get back to seeking the Holy Spirit to comfort us. Yes, deep breathing works. Yes, positive self-talk works. Yes, sometimes, support animals work. But really, do you want a hamster to try to do the job of the Holy Spirit?
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on February 12, 2019 at 4:45 PM||comments (5)|
Perhaps one of the most devestating forms of child abuse is when a child is abandon and left to fend for themselves. Most often this does not occur because a mother left a baby on someone's door step. Instead, fathers and mothers get upset with each other and leave the child in the hands of the person with whom they just can't get along. Other times it is out of our control and illness, death, or incarceration separate parent and child. Abandonment is real, but it doesn't just happen to children.
Abandonment happens to adults as well. Spouses after decades of marriage are leaving with just a text message and sometimes not even that. Jobs that promised security leave former employees with everything but that. The reality of life for many is that sometimes we get abandoned.
From the church comes a common refrain... God will never leave you. It's supposed to be comforting. It's supposed to be encouraging. It's supposed to make us feel better. What do we do when it doesn't. What do we do when the reality that God is present does not heal the hurt that humans created?
One of the key parts of healing from abandonment is reconnecting, not just with God, but also with the imperfect people He created. He has created us to need one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 is very clear that connection is necessary. We do need one another, even though there is a risk of being abandoned again. Healing occurs when we are able to put ourselves in the same situation -- one in which we could potentially be abandoned and God is able to use that relationship to bring about healing.
This does not mean that we run into relationships with anyone and everyone. We are to carefully consider with whom we interact. ICorinthians 5:7-8 warns us of how a little leaven can ruin a whole loaf. We do have to be watchful and alert when it comes to connecting with new people, but we do need to connect with new people. Take some time to get to know people before they become a part of your inner circle. Do they attend church? Do they treat their co-workers and employers well? Are they kind and generous? Can they control their own anger? Do you see the fruit of the Spirit at work in their lives? These careful evaluations prior to letting someone in your heart can help prevent some, but not all future abandonment.
Ultimately, the Lord knows all and works out all things for our good. He is able to sustain us when we have been abandoned, but we cannot reject His method for receiving fellowship which includes connecting with others.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 5, 2018 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Earlier today and young, bright college student came to my office seeking counsel to cope with anxiety and depression which had taken over most of his adolescent and adult life. One of the struggles she mentioned was with his fantasy life. He recalled fantasizing about all sorts of things – positive and negative from his past in a way that kept open old wounds and scared away his ability to sleep. Perhaps fantasy has not impacted you to this extreme, but believers often struggle with the reality of a problematic fantasy life.
Its not just romantic fantasy
Generally when we think about an unhealthy or unhelpful fantasy life, we are discussing sexual fantasies for men and romantic fantasies for women. However, an unhealthy fantasy life can take on many different shapes. In the case of the before mentioned student, the fantasies included reliving painful events and his own struggles with sin. Such a fantasy life had him stuck in unforgiveness and guilt. Since we are commanded to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), it would follow that engaging in such fantasy is more than an unhelpful thought process, it is a down-right dangerous path.
What's the solution?
In Victory in Spiritual Warfare, Tony Evans provides a solution:
Fantasize about God's truth. You read that right – fantasize about what God says in His Word. Let it become as real to you in your thoughts as whatever you see all around you. (pg. 73)
That's a novel idea. Let's take back the fantasy process and make it work for us. God has given us an imagination for a purpose. It allows us to create and grow – invent and discover. Why not reclaim this process for God's glory and for our own spiritual growth?
How? By using our imagination to envision how God's word can be implemented in our lives. What does it mean to turn the other check when I am on the road and full of rage? What would it look like if I submitted to my spouse? What kind of things would I be saying to my co-worker if I really sought to encourage her? Far from New Age visualization, this is using the imagination as God intended to move us towards Himself and His ways. Instead of fantasizing about what I could have said to get back at him or her, let's fantasize about what I'll say next time to point the way to Christ.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 30, 2018 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
Recently my father-in-law came from Nigeria for an extended visit. We enjoy him and I particularly love to hear his unique view of American traditions. His presence also exposes me to things I rarely pay attention to anymore. This week it was Entertainment Tonight, the television show, which has been chronicling the missteps of Heather Lockhear's struggles with addiction and suicidal thoughts. I usually don't watch such shows, but he does during our dinner time, I've been watching. Tonight the hosts ended their piece with well wishes that she obtain the help she needs. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. It seemed to me that one way they could help was to stop tracking her every misstep and broadcasting it to the voyeuristic, judgmental masses. A view that I will admit is somewhat judgmental itself.
It got me thinking.
ET is merely copying what we tend to you when someone we care about is struggling. We carefully monitor all their missteps. We broadcast it to others under the guise that we care. We offer our thoughts and maybe our prayers too. But what do struggling loved ones really need?
It really does. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our struggling loved one is to ask them what they need. Sometimes the go-to service or intervention is not the best thing. I often see marijuana users sent to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Why? Because the meetings are free and easy to find. It's easier to find NA meeting than a Marijuana Anonymous meeting. It's easier to send someone to a meeting than to identify why they are using marijuana and addressing the need.
I recently found out a friend of mine from many years ago is in a lot of trouble. While it really wasn't appropriate for me to reach out to him, it was appropriate to intervene – via intercession. It's not easy to repeatedly take a request before God and wait for His intervention. So often I feel like a broken record. I imagine you have experienced that too. Still we are called to be faithful and persistent in prayer. (e.g. Luke 18:1-8). This sometimes means weeks, months, or even years if necessary.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 10, 2018 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
We are becoming more aware of how traumatic experiences impact how we live our lives. Just knowing that it is a problem can be a big step towards limiting its impact on our lives. While overcoming trauma can be hard work, but it is possible once we know that it is there. Here's what we need to know to get started.
Lots of different experiences can result in trauma.
Perhaps we are most familiar with how the trauma of war impacts people. As a society, we are beginning to do a better job of recognizing the impact of war on those who fight them and as a result, more have begun to recognize how seeing death and having one's life threatened has a lasting impact. We are beginning to see greater sensitivity the victims of crime and the terror they experience long after the crime is over. There are other experiences that cause trauma as well.
Anytime some experiences an event that threatens their health and safety, trauma can occur. An actual danger does not have to exist, the person simply needs to believe there is a danger. This is why an effective horror movie can cause someone to have nightmares months later. My mother used to tell the story of her life after going to see Psycho. Showers at her dorm were never the same. The students kept the shower curtains drawn back all the time. (Just think of the mold problem that would cause.) We see trauma can occur when there are severe medical problems and the victim is constantly thinking about their own death. We see trauma when a community is riddled with crime. It's more than just war.
Trauma's Impact is not necessarily immediate.
Yes trauma can immediately cause sleepless nights, loss of appetite, and extreme anxiety. It also can cause struggles that start gradually and increase with time such as distrust or hypervigilance. Symptoms can show up weeks or even months after the trauma occurs. Many times, one has to deal with the aftermath of the trauma and does not even notice the symptoms are developing. When trauma is experienced, those around the victim of the trauma need to be aware of the possibility of a problem. Keep eyes open. Notice changes in sleeping patterns, eating patterns, and moods. Are there changes in how the person interacts with others? Are they avoiding people or activities they used to love? Are there changes in personality?
Trauma does not have to destroy anyone's life.
Talking is such a big help when someone has experienced trauma. It really is the first step for almost everyone. Believers, however, have access to the Holy Spirit who knows exactly what happened, what it means, and how the believer can recover. Our access to the perfect Comforter means no one has to be a victim. We can all become overcomers.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 5, 2018 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
Once again the headlines are filled with the announcement of a celebrity suicide. Today's announcement featured fashion designer and business woman, Kate Spade. Again the question must be asked. How can we prevent suicide. Let's keep this real easy.
If you are feeling suicidal there is help. Call 1-800-273-8255 ASAP. Its that simple.
If you believe someone else is struggling with thoughts of suicide, push aside your fears about offending them or giving them the suggestion and just get some help. That can be through talking with the person directly, a teacher, a parent, a spouse, an adult child, an employer, a counselor, in fact getting support from anyone could be the trick. Tell the person you care about them and show them your concern by your reaction. Don't forget them. Don't say you will pray and let it slip.
Let's get a hold of this. Suicide is a preventable. Let's prevent it.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 1, 2018 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
Getting out of the house is absolutely critical to overcoming depression and some forms of anxiety. We kind of know that instinctively, but as a client mentioned earlier today, "If I go out, I'm going to spend money and I don't have money." Let's think about that though. Is that really true? There are free things going on around us. Just to prove the point, here's a look at what is going on for FREE in the Jonesboro area. Now, stick with me even if you don't live in Clayton County Georgia because if a small town like Jonesboro is doing all of this... chances are there's something similar going on in your town too.
I just counted 32 churches in the 30236 and 30238 zipcodes and I know I did not catch them all. Churches are great sources for free things to do. Of course that gives you something to do on a Sunday morning, but churches do so much more during the week. The largest churches often have small groups meeting during the week. There are two churches that I know of that have gardens for you to walk through. The gym at First Baptist Jonesboro is free to all.
City of Jonesboro Sponsored Community Events
Did you know the city sponsors a wide range of concerts during the summer? Yes there will be vendors, but it is free to head out to Lee Street Park and enjoy them. You can also head there on Tuesday nights for "Turn It Up Tuesdays Bootcamp." At 6 PM you can work out with a couple dozen of your neighbors for FREE. Want to feel safer? How about joining the Neighborhood Watch.
Lee Street Park
Even if you do not have children, there is some value to heading over to the park. Walk around -- get some exercise in a place full of children. Their laughter and energy is infectious! Head over there and watch them for a while.
Meet Your Neighbors
Before you need them. Before there is a fire in the neighborhood. Before there is a break-in. Before the nasty events that pull neighbors together start to pull you together, go next door, knock and meet who ever answers. Already know your neighbors? Ask one to go with you on a walk? Go out for coffee. (Soon the Fig Tree Cafe will be opening on Main Street. The coffee there is great.)