Finishing Faithfully

Not all of us know when we are nearing the end of our lives in the same way Moses did, but the reality is, not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. So in some sense, there is wisdom in living every day with the intention of finishing faithfully. Moses served the Lord unwaveringly for 40 years, leading God’s people through life in the wilderness to His promise, but he knew he was not to enter the Promised Land with them. Moses is not the only example of finishing well we could look to, but he is a good one.

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Living with the Tension of Uncertainty

For years I heard Christians talk about living by faith. I did not really grasp how to do that in my daily life until I heard Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, talk about this issue. He suggested that many Christians do not live by faith because they have no patience for not knowing and no tolerance for ambiguity. His words pricked my conscience.

That’s me, I thought.

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Inviting God into the Hard Places

We say “life is hard,” and everyone nods in support. It is a common truism, a well-accepted reality we all can affirm. The political climate, the cultural tone, work pressures, personal and relational stress—all of these contribute. People are anxious, overwhelmed, divided, polarized, and weary. Life is hard, so we all join in a united moan. It can almost feel cliché. You shrug it off as though there is nothing you can do but accept it.

But there are hard things that go deeper. They are more profound and burdensome and feel intolerable. Perhaps it is grief, loss, disease, suffering, or brokenness. It goes beyond the “we are in this together” type of hard. It is an isolating sorrow that threatens to swallow us. It is an “I feel completely alone” kind of hard, an oppressive kind of hard. You long for reprieve; you pray for it. Yet it doesn’t come.

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3 Prayers to Pray With Your Spouse

Enrich your relationship by praying as a couple!

I’LL NEVER FORGET AN EVENTFUL DRIVE HOME from a road trip to Oregon. My wife, Kim, our four kids, and I were packed into our station wagon, complete with luggage in our rooftop carrier. Coming out of the California mountains, we passed a semitruck.

Soon after, a huge sandstorm swept over us. I couldn’t see ahead or behind us. I slowed the car to a crawl, aware that the 18-wheeler wasn’t far behind us. Trying to keep our own fears in check, Kim and I worked to calm our panicked kids.

Most memorably, my wife and I cried out to God for help.

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Suffering

I’ve been counseling at my church since 2004, and the cases I have now are very challenging. So much suffering. So much sadness. So many questions. So little hope.

Suffering is rarely a neutral event. Counselees have perceptions, experiences, assumptions, and expectations that influence how they interpret and experience their suffering. To better understand my counselee’s situation and her perception of it, I want to ask her thoughtful questions:

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Counseling Military Families: Key Factors in Effective Care

“What a day!… First I forgot my ID and couldn’t pay off my StarCard at the PX, after that, I couldn’t sign the children up for soccer at CYS because I forgot my husband’s LES (and still didn’t have my ID). I finally made it to my FRG meeting and found out some great ideas for his R and R. We also found out we should expect our OCONUS PCS orders a few weeks after he gets back from downrange. I hope we can get our son enrolled in EFMP before that happens.” 

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God Does Not Despise the Small Things

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Who despises the day of small things?” Indeed, everything we do is a very small thing. 

The Lord asks this rhetorical question of Zerubbabel, who led the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple around 530 B.C. The Hebrew exiles were returning from Babylon, which was very good. What they returned to was an absolute disaster, which was not. The temple was unrecognizable to those who witnessed its former glory. Zerubbabel and his motley band of not-always-reliable volunteers would work at its rebuilding for “the day,” which turned out to be one day out of the twenty years it took to complete. 

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How to Handle Arguments in Marriage

My husband and I knew we were too upset for a conversation—but we had it anyway. What started as a tense volley of one-liners devolved into a yelling match and then the ice-cold silence that often follows our heated exchanges. By the end of the evening, we were both exhausted from the tension and frustrated by our inability to communicate.

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Responding to Emotional Abuse in Marriage

This post is dedicated to the women I’ve met who have inspired me by their faith and strength in the midst of painful marriages.

I’ve seen marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. How good (and hope-filled!) it is to see real life examples, especially at a time when marriages are being attacked from pornography, homosexuality, and cohabitation. I’ve also seen broken marriages and emotionally abusive relationships, which has taught me a lot about faith.

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Don’t Blow Up Your Ministry: Defuse the Underlying Issues That Take Pastors Down

I answered the phone at our office. It was a pastor calling. He got right to the point. “If you don’t help me, I might not be here a year from now.” He was talking about suicide.

Pastors are hurting right now. Yes, everyone is hurting but some are carrying more burdens than others. Pastors are one of the helping professions trying to help everyone else stay on course through COVID, political polarization, and all the other fears and concerns plaguing our nation.

Pastors, like a lot of us, are learning or relearning how to deal with constant stress with corresponding increased anxiety, environments with more conflict, a quickly changing ministry landscape, and the multiplication of needs in those they serve. These are areas where we as counselors can help pastors.

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