Choosing Counselors


I have begun to think of all the counselors that I have had over the years.  When you think of counselors, your mind is probably drawn to people you pay to get their advice like myself.  When you think from that perspective, many of you have never paid for counseling so your answer would be zero.  Others have had one or maybe a handful over your lifetime so you would answer differently.

But there is another kind of counselor or advisor that I am thinking about.  These individuals come into our lives and give us advice whether we are asking for it or not.  They are friends who have opinions on our relationship issues and give advice as to what we should do.  “Tell him to go to h_ _ _!!”  “Don’t take that from her!!”  “You should go to that party!”  “He’s dropped you so go out and date and don’t waste your time on him!!”  “Don’t wear that outfit!”  “If I were you this is what I would do!”  “You’d be foolish to take that job!”  Drop her!!”  “Drop him!!”  We have heard these opinions from our friends and family over the years.  Thousands of opinions about what we should say or what we should do.

There are advisors that are speaking out on various kinds of issues in the schools and in churches.  Those speaking to us are advising us as to what we should do and what we should be.  It can be good advice and it can be bad advice.  Everyone has an opinion and many are free to give their opinion even if they don’t have the best advice or have all the answers.  Opinions on what we should do or be comes freely in every direction throughout our life whether we want it or not.

Heres the big question.  How do we evaluate the best advice from the bad advice?  Stop and think about this question.  Who are your counselors and advisors you are listening to?  What experience and expertise do they bring to the table in helping us make the right decisions for our life?  Do they know both sides to make wise and beneficial input to our circumstances?

The reason for my thinking about this subject came when I was reading in the Old Testament of the bible and came across a couple of kings who had advisors advising them in leading the nation of Judah.  The first King was Ahaziah.  “He (Ahaziah) walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother gave him evil advice.  So he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight like the house of Ahab, for they were his advisers after the death of his father, to his destruction. II Chron. 22:3-4  It sounds like he had a father who had been giving him good advice, but when his father died, he listened to his mother who was evil and gave him evil advice.  Yes, bad advice can come from some of the closest people in our lives, even our mother.  (Now I’m not referencing all mothers as my mother is one of the wisest woman I know).

Another king I was reading about was Joash who was 7 when he became king.  He led Judah for 40 years and had a wise counselor by the name of Jehoiada, his priest.  “Throughout the time of the priest Jehoiada, Joash did what was right in the Lord’s sight.” . . .  “However, after Jehoiada died, the rulers of Judah came and paid homage to the king.  Then the king listened to them, and they abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the Asherah poles and the idols’  II Chron. 24:2, 17-18.  Joash had a wise counselor for many years, but when Jehoiada died, he turned and began to listen to others who were bad advisors to his detriment.

On this journey we are always choosing who we are going to listen to.  There will good advisors as well as bad advisors that come into our lives.  Keeping our focus on the Lord will help us in discerning which is which.

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Blame Game


It is so easy to blame others for their actions that caused us to say something negative or act in a certain unkindly way.  “They were the reason I did such and such.”  “If only they hadn’t acted a certain way, none of this would have been a problem.”  “If only they hadn’t accused me of this, I would have never lashed out at them.”  “They had no right to do the things they did.”  “She made me do it.”  “He made me do it.”  I could go on and on about the blame game that we play today and have played for centuries.  We learned it early in life from our parents and became experts in placing the blame on others.

The earliest occurrence of this blame game came with the first couple on this earth, Adam and Eve.  In Genesis 3, we see the blame game taking place when God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of evil.  Unfortunately they disobeyed God and when confronted, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

We find another blame game taking place with Moses, many years later.  Moses was called by God to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt which Moses did through various miracles performed by God.  When the people grumbled about having no water, God told Moses to strike the rock which he did and water gushed out from the rock (Exodus 17:6)  In Numbers 20 the same scenario occurred where the people grumbled at not having water, so this time God told Moses to speak to the rock.  Rather than speaking to the rock, Moses got mad and struck the rock.  Water came forth from the rock, but the Lord was angry with Moses because he didn’t obey what the Lord had told him to do.

I have always thought that Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land because of this sin of not obeying the Lord when He told him to speak to the rock.  I have revised my thought process based upon the responses of Moses 40 years later when the nation of Israel was about to enter the promised land.  Moses is speaking to the people just before they enter and this is how he describes the event 40 years prior about the water and rock incident.

““And the Lord was also angry with me because of you. He said to me, ‘Moses, not even you will enter the Promised Land!”  ‭‭Deut. ‭1:37‬ ‭NLT‬‬  ““But the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me. ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more. But go up to Pisgah Peak, and look over the land in every direction. Take a good look, but you may not cross the Jordan River.”  Deut. ‭3:26-27‬ ‭NLT  ““But the Lord was angry with me because of you. He vowed that I would not cross the Jordan River into the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession. You will cross the Jordan to occupy the land, but I will not. Instead, I will die here on the east side of the river.”  Deut.‬ ‭4:21-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Do you catch what Moses was saying?  “The Lord was angry with me because of you.”  He said it three times.  Moses was blaming the people for not being able to go into the promised land.  There was nothing in his statement about his responsibility.  There was nothing about his lack of obeying what the Lord wanted him to do, “speak to the rock.”  I wonder what would have happened if Moses took responsibility and humbled himself, admitting his wrong and his disobedience?

On this journey there have been many times when we (I) have played the blame game and not taken responsibility of my mistakes.  What God wants is a humble spirit, not one that seeks to blame and justify wrong actions, wrong words, and wrong attitudes.  Humbleness is a forgotten quality that needs to be dusted off for present use.

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Wild but Tame


Sunday was a wonderful day for Nadine and me.  We went to church and heard a fabulous sermon by our senior pastor and afterward headed to Colorado Springs to visit my mom.  Initially when we got to View Point where she lived we tried to find her but she was nowhere to be found.  She wasn’t downstairs.  She wasn’t in the first hallway that we looked at where she usually walks.  Not in her apartment.  Not in the other hallway.  Finally we went downstairs and checked with the desk who found her visiting a neighbor.  She was up for her favorite place to eat, McDonald’s, so off we went.

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On the way we decided to go by Glen Eyrie, the Navigator’s headquarters to see if we could see any wildlife before lunch.  As we entered the property, we came across about 50 wild turkeys eating by the road.  They weren’t at all spooked by our truck that parked right by the road to take their picture.

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They were at peace because they knew that no one would try to threaten their lives.  Wouldn’t it be nice to live with that feeling of freedom but feel safe knowing that nothing could happen to us?  The fact is that when we are God’s children and have received His Son Jesus Christ, we have the same freedom that these turkeys have with the same feeling of safety that these turkeys had.  God said in Hebrews 13:5 that He would never leave us nor abandon us.  Never.

Today on our journey, be reminded like these turkeys that we have an advocate that goes with us to give us safety and the freedom to move where we want.

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Addicted


Nadine and I were at the airport the other night and were ready to fly home to Colorado. We love to be 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the airport before our flight leaves so we aren’t stressed like my children who love to push the window of not catching their flights.  Anyway back to the story.

As we were sitting there waiting for our flight, I caught a glimpse across the way four children belonging to one mother, all of them working on electronic gadgets playing games.  The children ranged from 3-7 and all of them were engrossed in competing against the computer for supremacy.  They had been playing for some time with no mother in sight.  I assumed that the older lady sitting a few seats from them was their grandmother which bore out later.  After about 15 minutes, the mother emerged from the airport and wanted them to all go to the bathroom with her before the airplane arrived.  They weren’t having any of that because they were addicted to their games.  She prevailed as they went with her kicking and screaming.

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I later began to look at the staggering studies regarding children who are addicted to video games.  It’s interesting to note that executives of gaming businesses for kids don’t allow their children to go to schools who have ready access to I-pads and tablets.  They don’t want their children exposed to the addictive nature of apps and games for children, yet they spend all of their working days developing apps to lure other children into the addictive cycle of electronics.

Lustig studies found that be it sugar or heroin, the brain responds the same way when exposed to technology.  The brain over-releases dopamine, over-excite and kill neurons, leading to addiction.  I read in another study that kids spend 8-11 hours on electronic equipment every day, more than half of their waking day.  I could go on and on regarding the literature out there about the addictive nature of electronics and social media.

On this journey it is very easy to give a child an electronic device and allow him or her to become engrossed.  It’s an easy baby sitter.  The harder choice is to limit their exposure so that they can develop their minds and bodies in activities that can nurture the soul.  Choose wisely.

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Resentment: Part V-Resolution of Resentment


For some of you, this was a long drawn out jlog that could have easily been solved by telling this in the beginning.  I do think we need to realize that there are various facets of resentment we need to be aware of.  But the resolution of resentment is what we all would hope for when we find ourselves in situations of being treated unfairly.

Joseph demonstrated the healthy way to deal with resentment after feeling helpless and experiencing the downward spiral of events he had no control of.  He even demonstrated retaliation measures before he turned to the resolution of resentment.

“Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace. “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.

God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. “Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately!”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭45:1-5, 7-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Did you hear the secret of resolving resentment?  Joseph wasn’t looking at the circumstances he had no control of.  He was seeing that it was God who orchestrated his past and present situation.  Joseph mentions God four times.  “IT WAS GOD”.  “GOD HAS SENT ME”.  “IT WAS GOD WHO SENT ME”.  Joseph transformed his past events into realizing that God was the controller of the past and his present.

Moving ahead to where Jacob, the father of the brothers dies.  After the burial, an interesting thing happens.  “But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.  (Retaliation at it’s best, or worst).

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭50:15, 19-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On this journey, Romans 8:28 comes to mind when Paul says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  It doesn’t say that all things are good.  There are bad things.  There are good things.  There are things that we are helpless to do anything about.  But God causes everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, to work together for good.  I hope on your journey that today you can see God working in your situation to cause it to be good for His glory.

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Resentment: Part IV-Wanting Retaliation


When we have been hurt, our natural tendency is to hurt back.  When we have been punched, we want to punch back.  When we have been criticized, we want to criticize the person who criticized us.  When we have been put down, our natural tendency is to put that person down.  Retaliation. Retaliating by inflicting physical or emotional or verbal pain that has been inflicted upon us.

This is a seemingly ingrained attitude we have from our earliest childhood memory.  When our parents tell us “NO” on something that we want, we at that moment feel helpless in getting our desired outcome and we respond by saying “NO” to them.  It’s a natural response, not necessarily a healthy one.  The retaliation reaction feels good at the time but never eventuates in solving the problem.  Retaliation only escalates the situation and further removes us from finding a solution that is lasting and enduring.

Looking back at Joseph we see a man who wanted and did retaliate for the pain that his brothers had caused.  Joseph was a godly man and was used by God to bring about salvation for the future nation of Israel, but his resentment toward his brothers got the better of him.  The story picks up where Joseph has interpreted Pharaohs’ dreams of a famine coming and what he needs to do to get ready for the famine.  Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt in collecting food  for 7 years so that when the 7 years of famine come, the country will be ready.  Egypt is in the 2 year of famine and Joseph recognized his brothers coming from Canaan to get food.

“Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”

But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! (The brothers revealed to Joseph that one brother was left behind with the father.  The one brother happened to be the full brother of Joseph.)  One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.” So Joseph put them all in prison for three days.”

After three days he brought all the brothers out and told them he would only take one of them and put him in prison.  The others were free to leave.  “Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭42:7, 14-17, 24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As you continue to read further in the story, Joseph continue to be a goad to them and retaliate for all the pain and suffering he had to endure by being forced from his brothers and his dad.  This retaliation lasted for several months with Simon being kept in prison.

Retaliation has short-term pleasures but there is also pain involved as we see Joseph turning away and weeping for what he was doing.  On this journey, we can remove the desire for retaliation and look at our circumstances differently.  Resolution of resentment is the healthiest direction to head which we will talk about in Part V.

Next:  Part V-Resolution of Resentment

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Resentment: Part III-The Downward Spiral


There are times when the feeling of helplessness has only one event that can contribute to the feeling of resentment.  There are other times when the event is combined with similar situations that multiply our feeling of helplessness.  I need to stop here for a moment.  Sometimes that event is preceded by something we said or did that caused the reaction.  In the case of the automobile I described in Part II, I had nothing to do with the driver of the car losing control and coming over in my lane and hitting me.  In the case of my girlfriend who wrote me a dear Jim letter, I did have something to do with her coming to the conclusion that she needed to break off the relationship.

I remember a time when I was working at a church as a pastor of young adults and made some unwise decisions that came to life by my boss.  I was put on probation and he began to look at my every move and every decision that I made.  He went from seeing what I did from a telescopic perspective to a microscopic perspective.  I felt helpless in making any decisions, as he was in total control of what I did.  It seemed like I was in a downward spiral and nothing that I said or did made any difference in the way he looked at me.

When we look at the life of Joseph, we see a similar spiral.  After being put in the cistern, the brothers decided to sell him to slave traders so they could make a profit for him, rather than just killing him. (Genesis 37:25-28)  He was taken down to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

He did well for himself as a slave until the boss’s wife accused him of raping her after she couldn’t get him to sleep with her.  He was accused of something he didn’t do, but was helpless to do anything about it or clear his name.  (Genesis 39:1-19)  He was put in prison and was held there for 2+ years for a crime he didn’t commit.

On this journey we may find yourselves in a helplessness situation where it seems that event after event causes us to stay pinned to our helpless estate with no seeming end in sight.  It’s like we’re in a tunnel with no light at the end of the tunnel.  We have a choice when we find ourselves in this place.  Taking a wrong turn leads us to the next unhealthy phase of resentment.

Next:  Part IV:  Resentment-Wanting Retaliation

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Resentment: Part II–The Feeling of Helplessness


Helplessness is not a good feeling.  I remember driving in New Hampshire in the winter time many years ago and came upon a slick patch of pavement.  I had my seatbelt on when a car coming from the opposite direction begin to lose control.  The car was a big hunker station wagon and I had a Chevy Monza two door.  The car was out of control, went into an embankment and then headed across the road headed right for my little tin can of a car.  I never felt so helpless as when the car came into my lane and hit me head on.  I could do nothing about avoiding the accident.    I was helpless.

I remember dating a young lady in college by the name of Karen.  She was beautiful and I had said to my friends that she was the one I was going to marry.  One day she invited me to the Cantina, a fast food vending machine eatery on our college campus.  We sat down and she took out a piece of paper with her hand written letter.  As she began to read the letter to me, it was evident that she had written a Dear John (Jim) letter and was breaking up with me.  At that moment I felt helpless.  There was nothing I could say as she had made up her mind.  I felt totally helpless to fix or repair the broken relationship.  Helplessness.

There are numerous times in my life when the circumstances of life create a feeling of being helpless.  In those times there is nothing you can do.  Joseph felt those same feelings.  When his brothers threw him into the dry well with no rope to get out, he found himself in a helpless state (Genesis 37:24)  No water.  No rope.  No ladder.  No way to get out.  He had no control for the circumstances he was facing.  He felt helpless.

Helplessness is a feeling that comes to us when we are found with circumstances that are unpleasant,  unfair, and out of our control.  Our negative feelings regarding our helpless estate create an attitude that can begin to germinate resentment feelings.

On this journey, when you find yourself in similar situations, it is important to not allow your thought process to turn in the wrong direction.  Part III will focus on the wrong direction of helplessness.

Next:  Resentment:  Part III The downward spiral.

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