“Love…Electricity…Maybe Some Magic Too.”

Eliana and her grammie.

Eliana and her grammie.

I am not sure who asked the question, “What is the world made of?”  But I can absolutely picture the thoughtful look on my granddaughter Eliana’s face as her answer floated through the air–one . . . ingredient . . . at a time:

“Love…
Electricity…
Maybe some magic too.” 

Some people might say that Ellie’s five-year-old view of the world is sweet but naïve–given the ugliness of daily world events.  However, Ellie is most certainly aware of sin in the world–she has three older brothers to contend with each day and, just this week, was quite relieved to hear that her mommy was not going to be taken to fight in Ukraine.  (Not that she does not care about the people in Ukraine (she does) but, for right now, Ellie knows she still needs her mommy to take care of her.)

Actually, Ellie’s answer is full of wisdom and closer to the truth about the world and how it is made than many may think.  With regard to love, Scripture tells us:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . .”  (John 3:16)

Electricity?

“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:
      God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  (I John 1:5)

And magic?  Look around, beyond the ugliness sinful man creates, to the backdrop that enfolds us:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

What I like about Ellie’s response is that it is so full of HOPE!  I confess that there are times when I give way to despair when I hear about the rotten things people do.  Were it not for the love . . electricity. . . and magical reality of God’s Sovereign Goodness, this world would be a much darker place. 

This morning I was thinking about Easter approaching and playing around with Ellie’s list of ingredients in my head.  I thought about God’s mysterious will being worked out through the sacrifice of His only Son; how love came down to seek and save the lost.  (Luke 19:10)  I thought about Ellie’s formula, interjecting mystery alongside of the magic, and realized that Christ’s coming as the fulfillment of His Father’s will, was the ultimate magical mystery tour of all timeIt was then that I was struck by how love, electricity and the magical mysterious will of God have continued to dramatically move in the hearts of men, women and children throughout history.   My mind started to race as I thought about Hebrews 12:1-3–where the Cross of Christ stands as the dramatic fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for all who would trust in His Son.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame,
  and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 “Love . . . electricity . . . maybe some magic too”?  Yep, Ellie Honey, throw some mystery into the equation and that about sums it up!  Happy Easter!

All to His Glory!

With Problems Come Opportunities ~ Part Two

Switching Gears to a Deeper Faith: Sorting Out Facts From Feelings

The first time I saw tears in my dad’s eyes I was seventeen.  I am not sure why Dad decided to teach me to drive “stick shift” that morning, but we were about seven miles into my “lesson”–grinding the gears of our old Volkswagen van and stalling at every intersection–when I made a left turn in front of an oncoming car!    Thankfully, the driver of the other car managed to avoid us, but as soon as I could I steered the van to the side of the road where the engine ground to a stop.  It was then, when I looked at my dad, that I saw his tears.  Not a word was said as we each got out of the van, exchanged places and Dad re-started the engine to drive us the rest of the way to work.  Years later, I learned to drive “stick shift” without grinding the gears or stalling, but it took a while before I was even willing to try again!

There are times in our Christian walk when we can grind to a halt spiritually and find ourselves stuck for a variety of reasons.  I learned early in my walk with Christ that with problems come opportunities for spiritual growth we would never otherwise have gained.  Remembering this in no way negates our suffering, but it does keep the light of hope shining during those dark days.

People who are spiritually stuck often have:

  • Experienced deep hurt inflicted by someone else and the problem never resolved
  • Become discouraged by the direction their lives have taken and lost sight of hope
  • Witnessed someone else suffer unjustly and their abuser appears to go unpunished,
Humanly speaking, becoming spiritually stuck is understandable.  
However, the danger of  remaining in such a state is that the more we fixate on the problem, 
the more distant God appears to us and the more we doubt His goodness. 
When we perceive ourselves as victims, we lose sight of the victory that is ours in Christ. 

So is there a way to get unstuck?  Yes.  But it often requires the same concentration and finis as it takes to learn to drive a “stick shift” vehicle.  To learn to shift those gears takes practice and determination not to give up. It calls for accepting that mistakes will be made along the way, but chooses to learn from those mistakes rather than giving way to defeat.  In my last post, I wrote about switching gears by putting off old ways of responding and putting on new attitudes and actions that reflect Christ. (Ephesians 4:22-24) I wrote about switching spiritual gears by replacing our  “self-talk” with “God-talk” (prayer).

In this post I will write about another aspect of switching spiritual gears:

Learning to stand on the facts of what Scripture teaches, rather than allowing feelings to run us and weaken our faith.

Fact number one: This is not heaven!!!  Jesus said in John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

All too often we crumble when bad things happen or our efforts are thwarted. We forget that life on planet earth is temporary, that eternity is yet to come.  Rather than giving way to discouragement when hurt or believing God has abandoned us, it is at such times we are given the opportunity to switch gears by going back to the basics of Scripture:

“Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for,
it means being certain of things we cannot see.”  
Hebrews 11:1

Faith is not static or dormant.  Faith, according to its biblical definition, is practiced and lived out on a daily basis.   Over time, as faith is practiced it is strengthened and tempered to reflect the beauty of Christ’s presence in the heart and mind of the believer.  Faith trusts increasingly in God’s character for our future and is the basis for enduring hope.

Feelings are not static or dormant either.  However, there is a problem with feelings because they can tend to run counter to biblical faith.  Instead of being God-focused, feelings are run by our emotions and tend to be self-absorbed.

Facts stand alone for all time and are not subject to “interpretation.”  The Scriptures are the major resource Christians have to identify the facts that faith is build upon.  It is as we rely on the truth/facts given us through the Bible, that our faith is verified and strengthened.

Faith lived out greases the gears of a healthy, vibrant relationship with Christ in good times and in difficulty. That is why I encourage Clients to begin to move forward spiritually by encouraging them to do their daily praises and acquainting them with the character of God in Scripture.  God’s purposes are accomplished in us when we rely on the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us.  II Timothy 3:16,17 says it best,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 Whatever you may be struggling with the one thing you can be confident in, is God’s call to shift your spiritual gears in Isaiah 30:15,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation;
in quietness and trust is your strength.”

 Repentance . . . rest . . . quietness . . . trust . . . an opportunity for personal growth and a relationship that is out of this world–so what are you waiting for?

All to His Glory!

With Problems Come Opportunities ~ Part One

Switching Gears to a Deeper Faith: Resist “Self-Talk”; Switch Gears to “God-Talk”

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . . and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” 
Ephesians 4:22-24

Problems have a way of sucking hope from our perspective and can weaken the faith of even the hardiest believer.  To make matters worse, our responses to problems can complicate them even further.  Even so, I have come to appreciate that with problems come opportunities for spiritual growth that could not be accomplished in any other way.

Some examples of responses to problems that can take us down the “old self” path all too quickly are:

“I don’t have to put up with that!” 
“It’s MY way or the highway!”   
“I’m just not feelin’ it any more . . . I want out! “

Actually, the problem is not with any of those “old self” responses–they happen!  We get into trouble when we continue the “conversation” with ourselves, feeding our anger, frustration or what-have-you.  Years ago a friend of mine made this observation, “If you find yourself talking to yourself for any amount of time–you’re probably sinning!  She was so right!

In the Counseling Room, we refer to the process of “putting off” our old selfish attitudes and behaviors and “putting on” attitudes and actions more honoring to Christ as, “switching gears.”  As we reflect on various Scriptures (appropriate to the special needs of each Client) much time is spent talking about the difference between “self-talk” and “God-talk” when it comes to dealing with problems.

  • “Self-talk” refers to when we get upset and have that intense conversation in our head about what we “should” have said, how “unfair”  someone is and . . . well, I think you can take it from there!
  • “God-talk” takes place when we realize we have embarked on the “self-talk” path and decide to “switch gears” by bringing God into the conversation–”God-talk” is PRAYER.

“Self-talk” almost always leads to sin and the downward spiral of spiritual darkness that overwhelms us.  The miraculous thing about “God-talk” is that when we focus on God in the midst of dealing with problems and disappointments, HOPE lights the way to move us forward.  As we spend time reflecting on the Scriptures we recognize our need for God’s help in the process of “switching gears.”  The warning in James 4:1,2b &3 speaks of the war within the human heart:

What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive,
because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

So how do we switch from “self-talk” to “God-talk?”

  1. When you catch yourself talking to yourself–take a deep breath and STOP!
  2. Reflect on the “conversation” you have been having with yourself as you turn to God, knowing He is fully aware of what has just occurred.  Embarrassed?  Tell Him without making excuses for yourself–repent!
  3. Then thank Him for His love and mercy granted you through His Son . . . thank Him that He is in charge and will bring blessing out of whatever challenge you are facing.
  4. Ask Him for the wisdom you lack as you look to the Scriptures for guidance.
  5. Commit each day to the Lord as you follow the Spirit’s lead.

 The Apostle Paul wrote to warn his friends in Ephesus of the danger they were in as, “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (4:14)

God used Paul to nurture the body of Christ toward a robustness of a faith lived well:

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” 
(4:15)

God wants no less for you and me.  To be run by our “old selves” makes us vulnerable to all sorts of evil that can compound our problems.  To trust God by talking to Him about every aspect of your life in the “newness” of Christ, is to grow a faith worthy of His Name.  Also, it is to take advantage of growing through the trials of adversity . . . indeed, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded us in the midst of trouble, is one of the hallmarks of a mature faith.  I like the way The Message presents the benefits of “switching gears” as we learn to consistently walk and talk with God in Colossians 2:2,3,

I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.
Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery.
All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else.
 

All to His Glory!

Did God Create Sin?

“If God is the Creator of everything, did God create sin?”  It is a question many ask, especially when they are hurting.    When faced with such questions my mind turns to the testimony of John the apostle (I John 1:1,2 & 5):

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes . . . and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us . . .This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.

John’s passionate testimony is certainly credible.  Having followed Jesus for three years–sharing meals, watching crowds and individuals ebb and flow around Him, listening as He taught them privately as well as collectively, running to keep up with the pace such a ministry entailed–the youngest of the apostles took it all in.  It is recorded that of the twelve, only John was there at the foot of the Cross when Jesus died and it was John who was entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother.   John surveyed the empty tomb and witnessed the ascension of Christ into heaven.  Having seen so much, John’s assessment of who Jesus was boiled down to this:

God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.

I do not pretend to be any sort of theologian, but my faith tells me that if God is light and there is no trace of darkness in Him“at all,” then most certainly there is no place for sin to reside with God’s Holiness. 

Much of what we do in the Counseling Room is sort out truth from lies, light from darkness and facts from feelings with the help of the Scriptures.  My primary goal in helping any Client is to build up their confidence in the Sovereign Goodness of God–to firmly establish a place for them to stand. Much of building their confidence in God is in helping them to recognize God’s voice as their Shepherd by digging into the Scriptures.  Here are some favorite “go to’s” we have come to savor regarding God’s Sovereign Goodness:

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.

I John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.

Psalm 104:1-3

Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind…

Isaiah 30:15,16 & 18

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Having dwelled in the depths of despair at various times in my life, I can attest to the veracity of God’s Sovereign Goodness.  What I have come to appreciate during those times, is that no matter how “dark” my life may seem, it would be so much darker without the presence of God’s Light to keep me on His path.  If you are in such a time, give thanks to God for the Light of His Presence.  Is it enough?  You bet it is!

My Dear Readers, 
What are some favorite Scriptures that have strengthened you with the assurance of His Sovereign Goodness?  Is God the Creator of evil?  I would truly love to hear from you!

All to His Glory!

“If Any Of You Lacks Wisdom . . . . “

I can still remember the first time I read James 1:5,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all
without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” 

 I was a new Christian with much to learn as a wife, a mother and a daughter of God Most High.  In my world before Christ, making mistakes or showing oneself as weak was a dangerous thing.  Once exposed, the resulting fault-finding and blame-shifting were elements that tore at the soul of this wounded and confused kid.  I had lived most of my life desperate to please and keep peace at just about any  price.   The thought of not having to guard against being ridiculed for showing weakness intrigued me and was downright revolutionary.   In the thirty-plus years I have walked with Christ since reading James’ letter, I have tested this promise many times and in various scenarios:

Crying out to God in fear. . .
Turning to Him with deep regret . . .
Seeking Him for the comfort and assurance I lacked–
 
God has proved Himself faithful . . .
EVERY . . .
SINGLE . . .
TIME . . . .

In my last post, I wrote to you about humility being the key to helping others as we rely on God for the wisdom and strength we need.  We looked at a picture of relationships being lived as God designed them to be–“Two are better than one . . . “–in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12.  We focused on what happens when we invite God into those relationships as the powerful “third strand.” We marveled at how God’s people are strengthened and how those relationships become cosmic because of His Presence.

As I concluded that post, I promised to write in my next post about a very practical tool/exercise that has been helpful to me and has benefited many others.  I ask but one thing of you–I ask that you apply it personally before attempting to help someone else with it.  I make this request because you will never appreciate the value of what is offered unless you have personally reaped its benefits.  Also, by applying it first, Christ’s admonition that you, “take the plank out of our own eye” before going after the speck in the eye of a friend or neighbor (Luke 6:42) will have been honored.

The goal of the exercise is to discern (or expose) who or what the primary influence ruling your thinking and responding at various times is.  It is based on the assumption that there is always a rule or authority that influences how you think and/or act.  We start with the bare bones:

  1.  Draw a triangle on a piece of paper with a heart placed in the center of the triangle.
  2. Write your name next to the right bottom tip; to the left of the triangle write either “Life’s Challenges and Joys” or a specific problem or concern that comes to your mind.  (The point here is, that this illustration holds merit in both difficult (challenges) and easier (joyful) times.)
  3. Draw an arrow from where you have written your name to the top of the triangle.
  4. Draw another arrow from the top of the triangle to the bottom left where you have written, “Life’s Challenges and Joys” or have entered a specific problem or concern.

Now, put some flesh on those bones:

  1. The premise of the exercise: we rarely respond to the challenges and joys we encounter straight on–draw an arrow between your name and the other side underneath the triangle, then “X” the line out.
  2. Instead, we are influenced by whatever “rule or authority” we hold to at any given time.   Identifying what is at the top of the triangle is the key to determining what rules the heart at any given time.  (When working with a Client I ask them, “who or what” is influencing their thinking about their problem?  The answers vary: pressure . . . fear . . . anger . . . hurt . . . anxiety . . . pride . . . money . . . confusion . . . guilt . . . resentment . . . and the list goes on!)
  3. The next step (remembering James’ encouragement)– ASK GOD for the wisdom you need to identify what is influencing your thinking toward what you wrote to left of the triangle.  (Write those influences above the top of the triangle.)
  4. Now, take a deep breath and consider this: Anything written there that is influencing you (other than God) is probably an idol.  Write “God or Idol?” above your reasons listed over the top of the triangle.
  5. Finally, ASK GOD for the help you need to clean out the excuses and keep Him in His rightful place–”God and . . . ” never works!

There are times when I know my attitude is not right or when I know what my problem is but I feel stuck.  In both cases, when I ASK GOD for the wisdom and courage I lack, He has delivered without fail.  I have learned through this simple exercise that when God exposes my sin He does so, not to ridicule me for my failures, but to free me by facing my sin to enjoy a deeper faith.

Proverbs 16:2 warns:

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”

To hold onto our “reasons” for what we do is to lose what we need most–
the blessing of Christ’s Presence in our lives.
 Seek Him for the wisdom you lack to grow and mature spiritually through those difficulties.
He is worthy of your trust!

All to His Glory!

Humility: Key to Helping Relationships of the Cosmic Kind

 

In my last post, Listening Isn’t Everything, I wrote to encourage you to be more than “good listeners” when someone is hurting.  I challenged you as servants of Christ, to follow His example by asking soul-challenging questions that provide not only better understanding for you, but also that help the person in trouble to look at themselves and their circumstances more objectively–as God perceives them

In this post I write to offer a Scriptural perspective on the value of humility in helping relationships of the cosmic kind.  You may well be wondering what I mean when I refer to relationships of the cosmic kind Simply put, I am referring to when we enter into God’s presence through the miracle of prayer.  I think of my first prayer as a child, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . .” and the prayers of now–prayer that cries out to God for loved ones and prayers of thanksgiving for His love and mercy–all miracles that stretch across the cosmos to connect us with God Most High.

I love the picture painted in Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 and 12 of caring human relationships that ultimately have the potential of becoming cosmic in nature:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up . . . .
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Initially, it is a very practical picture of the vast benefits gained through caring relationships“pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” However, the best (and by far the most interesting part) is reserved for the last nine words as it alludes to the entrance of the supernatural:  “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Suddenly, the heavens are opened up with the addition of that “third strand” and the scope of relationships is broadened to cosmic proportions as “we” becomes “three”–nothing short of miraculous!

It could be tempting to become cocky at the idea of having such a connection when it comes to helping others, but Jesus reminds us of our need for humility in Luke 6:42,

 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

I think about Jesus’ admonition every time a new Client comes to my office.  My inward prayer,  “God help me to see and hear this person with Your eyes and mind rather than my own . . . to communicate Your love and mercy.”  Every Client is given the opportunity to ask questions about me personally and professionally–they deserve to know who they are talking to.  I talk about my role as a Counselor, admitting from the outset that despite my twenty years of counseling experience, I do not have all the answers to their problems.  However, I then add that I do know the One who can and will bless them with His presence and His peace as we work together. 

Is there someone on your mind who needs help?  The pattern for helping that friend or family member is the same.  In humility:

  1. Rely on God prayerfully from the outset, to see and hear that person with His eyes . . . mind . . . love . . . mercy.
  2. Be willing to make yourself vulnerable; refuse any pretense about having the answers they may be looking for.
  3. Give testimony to the One who can and does bless us through the challenges we face–our God of Hope.

It is as you focus on your God of Hope in humility and in faith that you will see the beginnings of a relationship of the cosmic kind start to build.  It can be risky business when we offer ourselves to others, but I have learned to stay close to Him and marvel at His goodness no matter what happens–we do serve a God of miracles!

In my next post I will present a very practical tool that I have shared with many Clients and have also found personally helpful.

All to His Glory!

Listening Isn’t Everything . . . .

 
Two and a half years ago I began writing this blog with two goals:
     1.  To pass forward some of the wisdom given me in 30+ years of following Christ. 
     2.  To encourage other believers to minister to one another as God has equipped us to do.
It is with goal #2 in mind that I write to you this day . . . .  

For most of my adult life I have been told,“You’re such a good listener; I’ll bet you are a great Counselor.”  I am never sure how to respond to that because, between you and me, listening isn’t everything when it comes to helping people.  In fact, if all we do as Christians is listen, then we do no better than our neighbor who does not know Christ.  Surprise you?  It shouldn’t . . . but living in a feelings-based, secularized culture has caused many to feel inadequate when it comes to helping someone they can see is in trouble.

Listening is an important first step in helping someone who is hurting;
but meaningful help seeks to move beyond talking about the problem toward healing.
As Christians, we are uniquely equipped to prayerfully look to the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit 
for the wisdom we need to help others. 

I write to encourage those of you who may not have the best listening skills, but are concerned about a hurting friend or family member.  I also write to those who have great listening skills but sometimes feel overwhelmed by the problems others dump on you.  Whoever you may be, if you are a servant of Christ, He can and will use you to minister to the needs of others

 Yes, listening is important . . . but so is asking thoughtful, soul-challenging questions that not only deepen our appreciation for their struggle but also causes the one in trouble to look at themselves and their problems more objectively.

Many times in the gospels we see Jesus minister to the people who sought Him, by asking them what initially appear to be odd questions.  Jesus asked pointed soul-challenging questions that made people think about what they were doing or what they said:“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27) and “Why do you call me good?” (Mark 10:18) are such.  My all-time favorite question Jesus asked is recorded in John 5:5-6,

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

Jesus’ question is a practical, soul-challenging question that was important to ask.  We might assume that someone who has been ill for thirty-eight years would want to be made well; but Jesus challenges the man to count the cost of what being healed would mean:

  • He would no longer have the support system that took care of him all those years . . .
  • The man would have to take responsibility for himself!

Sometimes people only want to talk about their problems but they really are not looking to resolve them.  There are times when I take a Client to this passage to help them sort out what they really want out of their counseling.  Questions that cause us to take a step away from ourselves to check our motivation, can sometimes be the very thing to move us toward a deepened faith and true healing . . . or not.  There have been instances when a Client postponed counseling until they were ready to do the work that needed to be done–a good thing!  In either case asking that well-placed, soul searching question, helped them come to terms with where they really were emotionally and spiritually and gave me insight into how to pray for them.

Questions are important because they communicate how well we have been listening.  What is a well-placed, soul-challenging question?  It is a question (or series of questions) that:

  • Communicates that what has been said has been received as important and will not be trivialized.
  • Is asked out of genuine concern rather than a desire to embarrass.
  • Helps the person in need become more objective as they clarify the actual facts that may (or may not) contribute to the problem.

(For more insights check out a list of 135 Questions Jesus Asked PRESS HERE.)

That is why at the start of almost every Session when we pray, I ask God to help me hear and understand what is being said, as well as “to ask good questions that not only grant me better understanding” of what my Client says, “but will also be helpful” to them.  Truly, listening isn’t everything.  There is tremendous value in a well-placed, soul-challenging question in any relationship–be it between counselor and client, friend to friend, parent and child . . . .

All to His Glory!