Tag Archives: counseling

“Maybe You Should Seek Counseling?”

The Atheist

Every once in a while I encounter one of those atheists. Those atheists are the ones who troll the internet in search of Christian blogs, their prime objective being to “enlighten” us (i.e., intimidate us into silence) with their browbeating, far-superior intellects and firmer grasp on all things biblical and theological. They are the bullies of the blogosphere, dutifully heeding Richard Dawkins’ call for mockery.

Today, one of those atheists made a comment on a comment I made on another blog. His tone was condescending, irreverent, and vulgar (in his particular shade), just as always. Then, after some purposeful sarcastic language from me (which is all he is now qualified to receive, for it’s obvious anything more is casting pearls before swine), he said: “You really do have issues, Anthony. Maybe you should seek counselling?”

My response…

“Ha! You don’t know the half!”

His reply…

“You are right, I do not. But maybe this is half the reason you sought your god in the first place, perhaps?”

My response…

“Actually, that’s why my God sought me (Luke 4:18).”

His final reply, showing complete and willful ignorance…

“Really? What were you doing, Anthony, lurking in a back-alley?”

I Have Issues

The thing from the above exchange that stuck with me was the comment about me needing counseling. If the truth be known, we ALL have issues, and I am certainly no exception. For that matter, I am well acquainted with counseling and counselors.

It wasn’t worth my time to go into any detail with the obviously antagonistic troll who only wanted to get a rise out of me. Had he been one who really cared, if it would have done any good, I might have shared with him some deeper truths concerning the atonement and redemption, of the God who came to seek and to save the lost, to heal the brokenhearted.

But he scoffs at all that. He is no sinner. There is no God to whom he must answer. There is no need for crutches; he’s not crippled!

But I am broken. I am wounded. I do suffer from scars. I do deal with painful memories. I don’t have all the answers when I hurt, much less answers for others. I long for ultimate redemption! I do struggle with temptation. There are times when I feel overwhelmed, afraid, helpless, and hopeless. And yes, sometimes my faith gets weak.

Sometimes I do hide from my God…in my thoughts…in my books…in activities…even in the occasional dark and secluded place – much like a back alley.

But then Jesus comes looking for me, saying, Anthony, where art thou?

My response?

“Here I am, Lord.”

His reply…

“I know, but why?”

My response…

“I was ashamed. I was afraid. I was angry at You, and myself, and angry I felt that way.”

His reply…

“Son, you’ve got issues.”

Me….

“I sorry…..  I’m so sorry.”

His still, small voice…

“I know, son. But hey! I’m your Counselor! Let’s talk about it.”

Then what follows is the kind of counseling those atheists will never be able to understand…because they don’t have issues.

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A Sight Worth Visiting: Fallen Pastors

Hey everybody!

Listen, I was doing some reading and came across a blog I think more people should read. It’s called Fallen Pastor (Finding Restoration In a Broken World).

Maybe you’ve known a pastor or minister who has fallen, who has walked away from ministry, because of some moral failure. Sadly, there are more than people think. Maybe it happened to you. Fallen Pastor has something for everyone in any ministerial position.

For that matter, Fallen Pastor has some strong advice for everyone.

Seriously, I was scrolling through the list of posts on Fallen Pastor and was shocked that there were not more “likes.” As a matter of fact, Fallen Pastor has been around for several years, and yet there are barely 100 subscribers! That is sad!

Ray Carroll, the blog’s author, was a pastor who “fell from grace” because of an affair. But instead of walking away from God, as many do in these situations, Mr. Carroll has taken the opportunity to help and challenge others.

Consider this sampling of posts from Fallen Pastor:

So, my friends, go check out Fallen Pastor; there’s a lot of good stuff posted there.

Consider subscribing, too. We need to encourage our pastors, even those who have made mistakes.

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Don’t Waste Your Tears

Tearful Verses

If you ever want to a word study through Scripture that will break your heart, do a word study on tears. Just a quick glance will reveal painful examples such as the following:

  • My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. – Job 16:20
  • I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. – Psalm 6:6
  • Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! – Jeremiah 9:1
  • And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
  • Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. – Acts 20:31

But just as there are heartbreaking verses, so are there ones that offer hope for the hurting, hope for the ones who cry.

  • Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8
  • For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. – Psalm 116:8
  • They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. – Psalm 126:5
  • And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

Don’t Waste Them

This evening I met with a young couple for pre-marital counseling. During the two hours that we sat and talked, I took the opportunity to share with them some some painful experiences from my past. I thought it would be helpful for them to hear from someone who knew what consequences felt like, what it was like to shed tears.

wedding picture fourYou see, even though my wife and I have been married for over 20 years, we have had our share of pain; we’ve shed our bottles full of tears. And precisely because of those times, I was able to look into that young couple’s eyes and say with all authority, “Do it God’s way! It’s worth it!”

King David knew what it was like to experience God’s chastisement, but he also knew something good would come from it. He said, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Part of that joy, I believe, is when we see the fruit of yielding ourselves to the Father and seeing Him use our tears to water the seeds of wisdom we sow into others.

Tears are inevitable; everyone will shed them. The tragedy is when no lesson is learned, God is not trusted, and what could have been turned into joy sours the pillow of hopelessness.

Without God, tears are spilt; with God, no tear is wasted.

 

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Thoughts On the Death of Robin Williams

Mork

My earliest memories of Robin Williams are of him battling with Fonzi on “Happy Days.” Later, I always wanted to have some rainbow-colored suspenders (before rainbow-colored things took on a whole new meaning), just like Mork from Ork, the character Williams brought to life on the hit TV show “Mork and Mindy” (btw, I had a crush on Pam Dauber, too).

Mork, evidently, was the quick-thinking, ultra-intelligent alter ego of Robin Williams. It was difficult to tell whether or not Mork was Williams, or if Williams really was an alien from outer space. He was brilliant.

Loss

Losing Robin Williams was a kick in the gut. I mean, he has been part of our culture for over three decades, 30+ years! Even though some may righteously brush his death off as just another celebrity gone from the stage, he was a genuine human being with a truly God-given talent to make people laugh.

I have lost money before. Once I lost a $100 bill. Oh, I cried, but I never felt a piece of me get yanked out soul. Even though I lost that $100 bill, there were others like it in the world. Robin Williams, however, was exquisitely unique, a singular work of art formed by the Master. There will never be another like him.

Depression and Suicide

It seems that for years Robin Williams battle depression. For many, especially those who have never had to go to counseling, they think of this battle as insignificant. But I have been there, and believe me, I have the t-shirt. As a matter of fact that “demon” still bites at my heels from time to time.

Apparently, Robin Williams committed suicide. He has been called a “coward” by a few. But what’s most concerning for me is that some in the Christian community (of which I belong) have been all too quick to attribute Williams’ suicide to a Hollywood lifestyle, drugs and alcohol, or just a life of sin.

Here’s a shocker: even Christians can become depressed AND commit suicide.

There were two times in my life when I came close to suicide, the closest being when I was a teenager – I literally had the weapon in my mouth when my dad knocked on my bedroom door to see if I was OK (can you say “divine intervention”?).

Depression can come upon one unexpectedly, even when life seems perfectly fine and happy. Now, I ultimately believe that depression is a tool Satan uses, but I don’t believe it is simply a creation of his. The onset of depression can be the simple result of overworking, too much pressure, poor diet, or physical pain. Depression is NOT a Hollywood demon that attacks the godless.

And when it comes to suicide, all it takes is one getting to the point where he/she feels hopeless and out of control. It can even be the cry for attention from someone who only wants others to recognize his or her pain. I am not quoting a text book; I am speaking from experience.

The Answer

What is the answer? Is there any help for those suffering with depression or considering suicide? Of course! Frankly, one doesn’t necessarily require biblical counseling or direction founded in a Christian worldview to find help. However, I personally feel that when we look to the Bible we can find more than enough strength for the weak, more than enough comfort for the hurting.

Let me just stay that it is unfair to judge Robin Williams when we don’t know what was in his heart. All we can say at this point is that regardless of circumstances, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Despite our self-evaluations, His sacrifice proves our immeasurable worth. Despite our earthly circumstances, the purpose and future He offers can fill us with hope and expectation. However, we don’t know, at this point, from what well Robin Williams drew his strength, his hope, and whether or not he ever drank of the Water of Life.

“At times I wondered how a perfect God could ever understand

The pain I feel when I know I’ve failed time and time again

I wondered how my Lord could know all the loneliness I feel

He never felt this painful shame, no wounds of sin to heal

But that was what the cross was for!

There, in love, He opened Heaven’s door.

His own Father had to turn His face from the sin our Savior bore.

What He never knew, there He became,

And all the guilt He bore the same.

How could He understand the sinner’s place?

That was what the cross was for.”

– Anthony Baker

 A final note…

There is an Enemy, the father of lies, who loves to bring pain through heartache and loss. Never forget that even though suicide may be the result of our own faulty perceptions, Satan loves to be the one distorting reality. Remember, he is like a roaring lion, roaming about, always on the prowl, seeking whom he may destroy.

Never underestimate a powerful enemy, but rest in the victory won through an empty tomb.

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Filed under current events, Do not judge, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

Forsake Foolishness, Or Else

A Lost Post

It has been a while since I last wrote a new post for ProverbialThought.com, but in the process of re-posting entries I found that Proverbs 9:6 had never been addressed! Not only was it not published on the blog, but it never made the book! (Click HERE to purchase) That’s terribly embarrassing, especially since all of the editing that has been done. How did we miss it?

Therefore, this is a web exclusive!

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. – Proverbs 9:6

Forsaking

The first word in this verse is an imperative: forsake.  It’s not a word that suggests temporarily turning away, but abandonment. To forsake something is like saying “to heck with you,” turning on one’s heels, walking out the door, slamming it, going to the airport, buying a plane ticket, arriving at the destination, then burning one’s passport.

Why are simple words hard to understand?

Foolish

If you have been reading Proverbs at all, even the least bit, you should be aware of what foolishness is. Foolishness is man’s wisdom, not God’s. Foolishness is acting stupidly, even when you know there is a better way. Foolishness is rebellion, selfishness, seeking one’s own way, and never caring where the road leads, just as long as the trip is fun.

The “foolish” we’re commanded to forsake could be a combination of things. The “foolish” could be people, ideas, actions, philosophies, worldviews, attitudes, etc. There are foolish friends, foolish plans, foolish job opportunities, foolish desires, and foolish dreams – all of which lead down a bad road.

Forsake the foolish, and you might survive; don’t, and you’re in trouble.

The Way

The “way of understanding” can be interpreted as the “right” way, or even the way on which wisdom has already walked. It is the way in which people walk who walk in wisdom, seek wisdom, and love wisdom.

When we walk in the “way of understanding” we consider the consequences of each step and the direction we are going. The direction is a 180 away from foolishness.

Living

But why is it that so many are more likely to hold on to the “foolish” rather than travel in the way of understanding? Instead of walking out the door and leaving the old ways behind, why is it that so many are more apt to slam the door from the inside, lock it, and turn up the music? The reason is based on one’s understanding of “living.”

playstationOne beer company is famous for touting the “high life.” Another shows people partying away the night saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Everything from hotels to video game systems have encouraged consumers by promising, “This is living!”

Funny. Even kind of ironic, I must say. It’s hard to go down any path when you’ve locked yourself inside with computer game.

Timely?

Yes, this post is technically 2 years late. On the other hand, God knew exactly who would be writing it and what would be going on. As my daughter Katie looked over my shoulder and read the proverb about which I was to write, she said, “Well, that’s timely…”

This week we’ve dealt with foolishness, the foolish, and an unwillingness to forsake it. I have personally witnessed a close family member, blinded by a lack of wisdom, detail a specific plan for destruction. I’ve even faced down a foolish physical threat. Foolishness…simply foolishness.

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. – Proverbs 16:25

Forsake foolishness and live, or shut the door and die. The way is up to you.

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Pooped Pastors

At first you may think it strange to combine the words “pooped” and “pastor,” but for many it is an every day reality. The fact is that there are more pooped pastors, ministers, elders, etc., than you can imagine. That is why I would like to introduce you to…PoopedPastors.com.

Loneliness Kills

Let me be as serious as I can be – being a loner is deadly. That is why it is so important for those in church leadership to have friends they can trust. However, what most people fail to understand is that pastors have a very hard time making close friends.

There are limits to what we can share, and with whom we can share it. The burdens we carry, many times, have to be held in the strictest confidence. Besides our Savior, there are some times we literally have no one else to talk to. This can lead to feeling isolated, alone, and depressed. Some have even committed suicide.

You may think, “Well, why don’t pastors just get some help?” It’s not as easy as you think, believe me. For instance, when a person needs encouragement, the pastor is there to offer Scripture, prayer, and hope. Who does the pastor go to when he is discouraged? The parishioner? Does the pastor want to discourage the very people for which he is burdened?

When the shepherd is lost, does he ask the sheep for guidance? Not usually. The sheep would run away! A pastor with a heart for souls will even find it hard to talk with a professional counselor for fear of turning that one person away from Christ. So, he stays silent. But there is hope…

PoopedPastors.com

Dr. Steve Brown and I at a fundraiser for Harvest USA

If you are a bona fide pastor or minister, there is a place for you to go and be yourself. You don’t have to worry about what others think when you express your frustrations, your worries, your fears, or your doubts. Pooped Pastors is a place where you can communicate with others who are walking down the same road. It is not meant to replace flesh-and-bone friends, but it can help. I have been a forum member for about 3 years, and I am eternally grateful for what it has meant to me.

Anonymous

What is so unique about Pooped Pastors? Well, Dr. Steve Brown (Key Life Ministries) started this site in order to encourage those who minister. There are many helps and links that are useful, but the hallmark of the site is the pastor’s forums. There, once you are confirmed to be who you say you are (they check), you are assigned a personal number (yes, you become just a number). Once you have your number, you can log into the forums and feel the refreshing breeze of freedom. You don’t have to worry about sharing what’s on your heart. You can be 100% honest, and no one will come asking for your resignation (but don’t go too crazy).

Pass the Word

If you are a minister, please go visit Pooped Pastors. If you are not a minister or pastor, tell your pastor about it. Let him know you are praying for him and that you want him to be encouraged. Write the web address down and give it to him, or, as you know, he’s likely to forget (I’m just say’n).

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