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Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Sweat!

No Sweat!

"They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat."
Ezekiel 44:18

This blessed me.  

Crazy, huh?

I was reminded of a teaching I heard one time about sweat. Interestingly, the priests of the Lord were not to wear garments that made them sweat. Why is that?  I think the answer is found in two gardens.

The word sweat only occurs three times in the Bible.  The first is in Eden at the fall of man.  In that garden, as man was cursed for his rebellion, God pronounced man’s “bread” (sustenance) would come by the sweat of his brow.  Sweat was part of the fall.  How true is that?  Isn’t work hard?  

Then in Ezekiel we learn the Lord’s priests were to dress so as not to sweat before Him in their labor.  Work before the Lord was to be without the curse of sweat.  How many of us serve the Lord without sweat?  How many of us work so hard at things for God like our efforts make the difference?

We come to the second garden and the final use in Luke 22:44.  Jesus sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane.  His sweat had blood in it, as in agony He pondered dying for us.  This is the sweat of God Himself!  This is God taking up the pain of our lives, our curse, our place. He sweat so that we need not.  God doesn’t want our sweat.  He wants our faith.  

Jesus shows us the way out of that burden. He taught us to pray (not sweat) for our daily bread.  Faith is resting in Christ's sweating. Instead of anxiety fretting and self-effort sweating, we rest in Christ's work for us. 

In another metaphor, Jesus taught that we are merely branches drawing from the vine everything that produces fruit.  May we rest like a branch in the garden of God’s planting.  Turn cares to prayers and the sweat will stop.

As I come to challenges, I’m learning to exercise faith in the One who sweat for me.
I’m learning to say, “No sweat!”  

Alan Malchuk
SureCord Christian Counseling

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cleansing Guilt with Inferiority?

Hebrews 10:11

"Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins."

As I reflected on this passage, I realized that if guilt and regret have repetitive pathways in our thinking then we can daily offer repentance and feelings of inferiority as sacrifices, but never achieve what we long for... a cleansed conscience.  Hebrews 9:14 says, "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
We are all invited to create space in our lives so that we can cooperate with Christ's perfect sacrifice and receive freedom from the repetitive burdens of guilt and regret.  We are invited to participate in new self talk such as: "Thank you Lord for your provision for my guilt, shame and regret, I choose to receive it and ask that your Holy Spirit would work it into my Spirit.  I invite my Spirit to come forth and lead my soul, where these repetitive pathways are rooted and still active. In Jesus Name, Amen."

Blessings on your journey as you cooperate and choose the freedom that Christ has purchased from all guilt, shame and regret.

Kelly Harris, MA, LPC

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is the Counselor a Cornerstone?

Oftentimes clients come to counseling in the midst of the storm or having recently walked through a storm. They are often looking to me for answers. I am able to provide confidential care and empathy but I have little to offer in myself, my personal insights and even my training that will provide for them a solid, sure foundation. But, I have the opportunity to point those to whom the Lord brings my way to Christ who is a solid and sure foundation.

Recently I discovered a song by Hillsong United entitled, “Cornerstone”, where they take the lyrics from the hymn “The Solid Rock” and add a chorus. The truths expressed in this song give me great confidence and hope as a Christian counselor. Consider the chorus below:

Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong, in the Savior's love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all

Counseling is not a value neutral endeavor. Every counselor and every client brings his or her worldview and presuppositions into the counseling office. The unique privilege and opportunity that I have as a Christian counselor is to be able to share the hope and rock-solid security that is available in Christ even in the midst of great adversity and suffering. I do not impose my values on clients but I openly share as clients are open to considering the anchor that holds through the fiercest of storms. This gives me great confidence as a clinician because there is nothing I can offer that provides the same level of security. Oftentimes the realities of life in a world that is prone to storms opens opportunities to share with those who do not stand on a solid foundation of the SureCord of hope that is available in the person and work of Jesus Christ. At SureCord we believe that Christ is in all our solutions. Life in a fallen world entails brokenness and pain. And yet, in Christ there is help and hope!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  (Psalm 18:2 ESV)

Chad Cooke, PhD, LPC