How would you answer these questions:
When I am struggling, I think God __________.
When I am suffering, God responds by __________.
When I fail, God feels __________ toward me.
When I feel angry or vindictive, God __________.
Blair Counseling offers Biblically-based counseling as an option to wrestle with questions like:
Does God really intervene in life, in my life?
What if my spiritual life is empty?
What if my spouse has different spiritual values than me?
How can faith strengthen relationships, or help with depression or anxiety?
Some look to their faith in God in their happiest or awe-struck moments, or some lean on their faith in their lowest or darkest moments. Some turn to their faith “just in case it’s true,” and some long for a relationship with a powerful God. Some “know or feel” that He is real, and others have found facts to undergird their faith. Often the evidence found reflects one’s personal preference.
Beyond one’s personal experience, evidence can be tied to science and history. One question that is explored from the scientific perspective is how do you get life from non-life? Just as systems do not spontaneously generate order and complexity, it would seem that systems cannot spontaneously generate information either. The genetic code is so complex it is thought to be impossible it could have arisen by chance.
Another apparent impossibility is that by natural processes life could be sustained with precarious balance the just-right surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, volcanism, rotation rate, rotation rate decline, stable rotation axis and degree of tilt (Hugh Ross).
Also, the age of the earth is debated through the study of radiometric dating, the influx of salts into the ocean, the rate of decay of the earth’s magnetic field, and the growth rate of human populations. (One’s answer depends on one’s assumptions about the uniformity of natural law, uniformity of process, uniformity of rate and uniformity of outcome). All beliefs are provided with evidence, but also reveal underlying assumptions.
Others take a historical and a legal approach to look for the preponderance of the evidence in determining the existence and impact of Jesus. They ask questions about Jesus, who claimed to be God, to determine whether Jesus is or is not God. If Jesus is not God, the records must be wrong, or Jesus knew it was a false claim, or Jesus did not know it was a false claim. The question remains how the Christian movement developed so fast, with its founders who immediately transitioned from fear, to a willingness to die for their beliefs in Christ? Would these followers knowingly die for a lie? Once again, evidence is pursued for each option. The question is once again, which side has the most evidence?
Some question the Bible, though it is said to be the most reliable and trustworthy of any ancient document based on the manuscript evidence. It is bolstered by archeological finds and appears impossible that any or all of the Bible’s specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance or deceit. To discard the Bible as unreliable would require one to throw out every other document of ancient literature.
Faith, and facts undergirding faith, will continue to be a source of comfort. Loss of faith is associated with distress. If God is real, and He offers a interactive relationship, such a relationship has to be attained through faith. Evidence can be found for the existence of God, or against God. Benefits exist for believing in God, and for not believing in God (like no accountability). The existence of morality and suffering though, is not debated. Who is responsible for it, though, is debated.
Blair Counseling and Mediation values a Christian approach to complex issues facing families. Claiming a healthy marriage, stopping divorce, or living through a divorce without it destroying the family, and helping children in a world of high pressure and temptation is our priority. The Bible has approaches to depression, anxiety and substance use that work across time and cultures, and are not outdated. More importantly a clear path to God is found through Jesus Christ. A relationship with Him is the basis for mental health. We believe that spirituality as an essential element of mental health.
To most people, God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but he remains personally unknown to the individual.
For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.
—A. W. Tozer
Research by the Barna Group uncovered two surprising facts: (1) the majority of the nation’s non-churched are comprised of people, not who say they are not Christians, but who say they are, and (2) about 4 out of 10 of these stopped attending due to a “painful” or “negative” ordeal. Barna projected that at the current drop-out rate attendance nationally will be half of what it is today in 15 years.
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between conflict and attendance: the more conflict a church has the fewer people remain in attendance. To address this growing problem churches need an in-house system which conveys to its members that the church is able and willing to gracefully and effectively address disputes as they emerge, for the good of all. One such program based on a Biblical model is the Judeo-Christian Model of Peacemaking developed by Dr. Ken Newberger. Its application in local congregations is detailed in his book entitled, Hope in the Face of Conflict. This practical step-by-step process looks to the pattern God used to make peace with us. It is based on love as the first foundation, justice the second, with reconciliation the goal and mediation the means.
Here’s a question: According to the Judeo-Christian Model of Peacemaking (JCMP), when parties are in conflict, who is supposed to make the first move toward reconciliation, and what does that first move consist of?
Because the Judeo-Christian Model is based on the pattern that God used to make peace with us, the first question really is this: In God’s conflict with mankind (due to human sin), who made the first move toward reconciliation, the offended party or the offending party? The answer is, God, the offended party, did. More specifically, he created a mediatorial structure in both the Old and New Testaments by which peace with mankind could be established. Since the undergirding framework is “like Father, like Son,” if you are in conflict with another and are the offended party, you have the responsibility to make the first move toward resolution and reconciliation.
For churches or families devoted to a biblical process to resolve conflict but torn asunder by unresolved issues, please contact Dan Blair at Blair Counseling and Mediation. or Dr. Kenneth Newberger at resolvechurchconflict.com.
Support for Pastors at No Cost
The burdens that pastors carry are many. Dr. Greg Smalley reports that 80 percent of pastors leave the ministry within five years of graduating seminary. He adds that 1500 pastors a month leave due to burnout or moral failure. Dr. Mark McMinn through his data-based method of church consultation shared ten burdens pastors face.
Pastors are also vulnerable to a lifestyle of obligation. Resentment and burn out tends to subtly enter the picture which is countered by a sense of pride that discounts seeking help. It becomes easier to justify one’s actions which also may be hurtful to others.
What is missing? Commitment to soul care in the context of community where one can be honest. Pastors most often use an intrapersonal coping style versus interpersonal coping. Balancing coping strategies means pastors need their own support system.
Blair Counseling and Mediation offers wellness checks and personal support for the unique stressors that pastors face at no cost as part of our commitment to the local church. Feel free to call an experienced Christian counselor at anytime.