Recommendation for an Excellent Counselor

“Don’t make mountains out of molehills,” goes the saying. Poor ants . . . everything looks
like a mountain to them — even the molehill itself! Sometimes I feel like an ant — so small and insignificant in God’s universe, left to forge ahead around the never-ending obstructions thrown into my path.mountains-out-of-molehillsOne day not too long ago, God had been doing some surgery on my heart,
revealing to me the need to deal with some hurts from the past. The inner turmoil needed to be extracted by the root — its gnarly edges were finding their way into everyday life, into my peaceful pasture —confusing my ability to deal with the present. I was having huge amounts of anxiety from the tiniest triggers and having dreams, flash backs, body shakes, and other reactions. But as I sat down with the Lord to try to figure it out with Him and process through it, I couldn’t. My mind would block me — let me go so far, then go blank — like a door in my mind was locked with a key I didn’t have. I was getting even more worked up and discouraged, but wanting to figure it out so I could apply God’s Word to solve everything.

Then I looked down at the book I was studying and saw what John had written:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

In the midst of a passage about the blessing of having a Counselor, the Holy Spirit, inside of us and the futility of trying to see results on my own terms, rather than submitting to the ways and methods of my Father; I found great comfort and peace.

For someone like me who knows how wonderful it is to lay down her burdens at the feet of Christ and walk in His way of freedom and joy, it is a good reminder to me that “I” don’t figure out how to use God’s Word to heal myself. The Holy Spirit is the one who speaks from the Father what I need to hear when I am able to hear it (John 16:13). And His words have the power to heal and illuminate (Jeremiah 17:14),( Matthew 4:16-17).

My heart was encouraged because, even if the current anxiety seemed like a mountain to me, it was only a molehill to the God who created heaven and earth. He was looking after me to provide a way for me to have peace. As ominous and threatening to overtake my future as the shadows of the past seemed, He was fully aware and able to blow them away with a gentle whisper of His voice.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men! Psalm 107:28-31

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

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Light for your Present Circumstances

What I realize in looking back on my spiritual growth is that, while we can often name a time, date, and place when we placed our trust in the Lord, what really makes our testimony unique is what we choose to do with that decision every day by continually growing in our faith to experience the fullness of Christ.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, multitudes would gather to Him in search of greater understanding. But in the days leading up to his death, after listening to Him teach the parables and perform signs, the crowd became anxious in wanting to know more. They were trying to make sense of the miracles and His teachings, creating an internal aching for clarity with their limited competence.

I know that I can definitely relate to wanting the full picture of God’s plan resulting in a questioning of His ways. “Why?” “When?” “How?” I ask Him repeatedly. And on the day Jesus began to foretell his death, the crowd also began to question His explanation of what was to come. They had heard that the Christ would remain forever, so what did he mean when he said the Son of Man would be lifted up? As Jesus often did, he answered the crowd with an indirect but profound response.

lightdark

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”  These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. John 12:35-36

In just a few words, he removed the focus from what was to come, and directed them instead to look urgently at the present. What the crowd didn’t realize is that without  faith in the unseen, they would gain no further understanding of His words. Many times in Jesus’s teachings and His miracles, Jesus pointed to faith as the foundation for relationship with Him.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

By striving so earnestly to understand before we can move forward, we will repeatedly find ourselves face down in the darkness.

In Jesus’ message that day, He was intentional in saying “for a little while longer… walk while you have the light.” With these words, he created a sense of urgency that remains true for us still today.

Daily we are faced with opportunities to embrace the light that is shining peace and clarity into our lives. If we choose to ignore the wisdom and light that we receive from His Word, the darkness that lies nearby will be ready to overtake us.  In Psalm 119:130 we are told, “The unfolding of Your words gives Light; It gives understanding to the simple.” Daily, hourly, and moment by moment, we must be ready to find the light in our present circumstances.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project. She also continues her love of textiles and sewing through a collection of children’s accessories called Twigs and Co.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I NEED WATER!!! These are the words coming out of my mouth 99.9% of the time I make the regretful decision to work out with my husband, who I’m convinced has a super-human level of athleticism not known to this world. While running, lifting weights, and cycling with Ryan usually sound like fun in my head and I love the quality time together, these activities always leave me incredibly, unbelievably thirsty. If you’ve lived in Texas for any amount of time or have run for longer than five minutes without being in shape, you know this thirst. It’s the kind where you are picturing a watermelon snowball on top of a waterfall of Gatorade that you must get to as soon as humanly possible or you’re convinced you will die. This thirst is very unpleasant but also an incredible driving force behind finding something to quench the thirst. The craving for water is not something I need to be ashamed to admit. The craving for water is not sinful. The craving for water does not show my failure as a human being or Christian. The craving for water signals the great need I have for water.

John 4 records the often-told story of the woman at the well. The summary of this story is Jesus has a conversation with an immoral Samaritan woman about what will truly satisfy her thirst. She is confused at first as to why Jesus is speaking to her since it was uncharacteristic for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan. Jesus tells her that the water from the well where she is drawing will never truly satisfy her deepest needs and desires. John records Jesus’ powerful statement,

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. John 4:13-14

Notice that Jesus says “will thirst again” not “may thirst again” not “there is a possibility satisfactionif I’m correct in my theory on human beings and immorality that you could thirst again”. Jesus says everyone and anyone who looks for satisfaction in anything but salvation offered through Jesus’ work on the cross “will thirst again.” Jesus does not say this to shame the Samaritan woman about her sin. Jesus did not say this to cause this woman to despair or become discouraged. Jesus tells her that she will be perpetually thirsty (unsatisfied) in her life if she doesn’t receive eternal life. He tells her this because He loves the Samaritan woman and doesn’t want her to spend her life continually drawing water from the well that will never satisfy.

The same is true for you and me. God doesn’t tell us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18) because He is mean or boring, or wants to keep us from having a fun life. God tells us to run from sexual immorality and pursue holiness because He knows the pain that comes from not following His plan. God wants us to have a satisfying marriage and life, and lays out the plan for how to do so in His Word. All of us will be perpetually thirsty if we live our lives drawing from the wells that don’t satisfy. I encourage you today to ask God, “Am I drawing from the wrong well?”

About the Writer:
Julia is the Girl’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Dallas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who trained at the world-renowned Meier Clinics.  Julia is a professional speaker for Just Say Yes, speaking nationwide on the topics of suicide, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. Julia is passionate about her three favorite topics theology, psychology, and ryanology. She has been married to her junior high sweetheart, Ryan, for eight years and loves ministering to teenagers alongside her best friend and favorite boss. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!

Where Were You God?

Have you ever felt like God didn’t show up when you needed him the most? And did that make you wonder if He truly cares about the pain you are experiencing? My husband and I struggle with infertility. Over the past three years we have experienced multiple miscarriages after doing fertility treatments. And to be honest with you, after the third miscarriage I felt trapped in a horrible nightmare and began to question whether God cares about the deep pain these pregnancy losses are causing. Because if He did, wouldn’t He show up and perform a miracle?

In the book of John, Lazarus falls ill. Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. Jesus does not come to their aid immediately. In fact, Jesus waits days to come to their town and during that time Lazarus dies and is even buried. When Jesus finally comes Mary and Martha both greet Him at different times with the same bold statement, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32) Thank you ladies for saying what we were all thinking! And exactly what has gone through my head during our infertility journey, “Lord, if you had been here, these miscarriages wouldn’t have happened.” I imagine while waiting on Jesus to show up, Mary and Martha had to wonder if Jesus truly cared about their situation. Did He understand the grief their circumstance were causing? Now, if you read ahead you know that when Jesus does arrive. He is on the verge of performing a miracle, resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. But something beautiful happens when Jesus greets Mary and Martha as well.

          When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. John 11:33

As they are walking to Lazarus’ tomb Jesus begins to weep along side Mary and Martha. He isn’t crying and troubled because He is shocked by the death of Lazarus and unsure how it happened. Rather Jesus is pained by the heartache death is causing them. He was weeping because He could see the outcome while they couldn’t. He knew that Lazarus was about to walk out of the tomb, but they couldn’t see that just as we can’t see the outcome of our situations.

wherewereyougod_pictureGod does hear our cries and He feels our pain. When we think He isn’t showing up, He is really weeping beside us as He works out His sovereign plan. While we tend to focus on the grave and what we have lost, God focuses on the miracle to come, the empty tomb. While we experience pain through our infertility, the story of Lazarus reminds us that God does deeply care and has a bigger plan. So as we wait, we may experience pain and sadness, but we do so with the expectation that God is working behind the scenes to create our empty tomb.

About the Writer:
Joni H. is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home wife and mom to her son. She enjoys serving at First Baptist Dallas along side her husband as small group leaders in their Young Marrieds Sunday school class. She loves spending her free time crafting, attempting Pinterest projects, and above all spending time with her family.