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BACK TO BASICS

As I watched the inauguration of President Obama and the day’s events, I took notice how often I heard God invoked in prayers and speeches.  I also observed how much was said about the Obama’s being in love with each other and being loving parents.

If anything is going to heal this land, it will be allowing God back in our homes and lives. God is the one who created the family. Genesis 1:27 – 28 NKJV says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

For this nation to become stronger than ever before, we need families to be promoted with a father, mother and children who love each other and remain faithful to each other. Fathers are to be loving servant leaders to their wives and children.  With that type of security in the home, it provides a foundation for children to grow up with a healthy balance of self-worth believing that they are capable of learning and becoming whatever they dream to be with hard work and determination.

President Obama repeatedly said, “God bless America.” We need to sincerely pray that prayer.  We as a nation have struggled with God.  In times of peril, we call on God. When we want our own way, we seem to walk away from godly principles to fulfill our own selfishness.

As a healthy family needs love, respect and rules to function, so does a nation. It begins in the home, in the school, on the job, in the community and in the government. It’s still the majority of Americans that believe there is a God. Churches bring stability to families and communities.

There was more than one minister involved in the functions of Inauguration Day. That sends a message to the nation and the world that we do believe there is an Almighty power greater than ourselves.  If we turn our back on godly morals and values, America will grow unstable. History teaches that lesson.

I pray that American’s start thinking seriously about taking the legal steps to stop abortion.  I would like to ask any pro-abortion person if they are glad that their mother did not choose to abort them.  All it takes is common sense to understand that at the time of conception is the time that another human being is conceived.

Let’s return to the basics that all life has value from the unborn to the sick, old and helpless. Where there is life there is hope.  Let us let go of our selfishness and understand all human life needs to be respected, not just our own or not just when it is convenient.

We all need to pray, “God bless America.”  We need to realize that when we return to godly values and morals, God will bless us. Love, respect and godly principles have never failed us and they never will.

(c) Carol Clemans – January 2009

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MAKE LAUGHTER A BLESSING

By:  Carol Clemans – http://www.carolclemans.org

Genuine laughter from the heart feels good.  Science tells us that when we laugh we reproduce endorphins in our body which helps to fight infections and is a “feel good” chemical.  It’s amazing how laughter can even seem to be “catching”.  Years ago as my father was preaching, he made a comical statement that made my mother and me start laughing and we couldn’t seem to stop.  An elder on the platform started laughing because we were laughing.  Finally my father stopped and said.  “Elder, tell me what’s so funny so I can laugh too.”  The elder struggled to say through his laughter, “I don’t know what’s funny. I’m just laughing because they are laughing.”  Then the whole church started laughing.  We’ve often laughed about that incident through the years.

Fun and laughter is needed in a family.  When we share something humorous with others, we feel a sense of bonding with them.    As I search Scriptures related to merriment, I’m again delighted about the wisdom of God as our Counselor – (Isa. 9:6).  He tells us (Rom. 12:15 – NLT),  “When others are happy, be happy with them.  If they are sad, share their sorrow.”

As family members, we must be very careful that we only use humor as a healthy interchange with each other and never as a tool of ridicule or to tear down the spirit of a person. To make it simple:  laugh with others, never laugh at others.  It’s easy to share in the happiness of others because that feels comfortable. What seems hard, is to allow someone you love feel their sadness over something negative in their life.  The family needs to be the safe place to share happiness and sorrows.

Our Counselor says in Prov. 13:12 – NLT, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”  This is a scripture that helps me to understand someone who may be depressed.  As a family member, we need this wisdom so we don’t make comments like, “Cheer up,  that’s not so bad – or just get over it.” If someone is going through a disappointment, allow them to share their feelings of sadness.  Encourage them, but don’ t try to wipe out their negative feelings. (In the process of sharing negative feelings, there seems to be a release of the stress that comes with the incident and a person starts feeling better just because they are allowed to express themselves without criticism.)   When their dreams and hopes do come true, then rejoice with them.

I’ve seen people who have emotional hurts try to laugh to cover up their true feelings and our Counselor talks about them  in Prov. 14:13 – NLT,  “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.”  As family, we need to be sensitive to each other and not joke about anything that is negative. For example, a child may be overweight, have an ear that sticks out, or something else which draws

unwanted attention.  When the child is laughed at, he may laugh too and cover up his true feelings of embarrassment, but inside he is crying.    He feels rejected and unloved.

The Counselor also said in Prov. 15:13 – NLT, “A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.”  In Prov. 17:22 – NLT,  He says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”  I’m thankful that God gives us the insight of both happiness and sadness.  He is the one who gave us our range of emotions and each emotion is viable.

Our Counselor further shares in Prov. 25:30 – NLT, “Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone’s jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.”  What I hear being said here is,  “Be sensitive to others.  Allow others to share their sorrows, then when times of happiness and laughter comes everyone can rejoice together.”  The freedom to openly share happy and sad feelings in a family creates the atmosphere of  unconditional love and acceptance which is very important for emotional and spiritual healthiness.  God loves all of us unconditionally and we learn about His love by how we are loved by our family.

Fun and happy times within families need to be nurtured to be a blessing to everyone.  The whole family needs to pull together to turn negatives in to positives. When it’s raining outside on a holiday which cancels your family’s planned  outing, have a picnic on the family room floor.  Spread out a picnic tablecloth, make a picnic lunch, sit on the floor and pretend you are at a park.  Play games.  Create a story. Act silly.  It’s fun!  God will be right there with you enjoying the laughter which is good like a medicine.

Make a special day for each person in the family throughout the year for no special reason.  Fix their favorite breakfast, let them chose an outing for the whole family.  As each person gets to celebrate a special day “just because”,  it will create a lot of fun and happy memories. Enjoy God’s gift of family.                (c) Carol Clemans – September 2009

WHAT DO OUR CHILDREN KNOW & BELIEVE?

BY:  Carol P. Clemans

http://www.carolclemans.org

This is the season we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  By tradition it is called Easter.  I would like to call it Resurrection Sunday!  What do our children know about the Power of the Resurrection?  Do they associate Easter with getting new clothes, chocolate Easter bunnies and the Easter egg hunt?  (I love chocolate, too!)

Our children learn through the influences around them.  Josh McDowell says that the average child spends 40 hours a week in school and related activities. They also spend an average of 28 hours a week influenced by the media–videos, TV, movies, music, magazines, books, newspapers, etc.  The average conversation between father and child per day is only 4.5 minutes.  The average conversation between mother and child is 8.5 minutes per day.  On  a weekly basis the average amount of Bible teaching a child receives in church is 1 1/2  hours.  What is the most powerful amount of influence?  It is the world our children live in!  Even if a child is in a Christian school, they still have the human influence of those peers who may not be God centered.

I was recently asked this question by an evangelist, “Why are so many of our well grounded pastors losing their children to the world?”  I will include in the question, the children of saints in the church who are may be raising  third or fourth generation children sitting on the pews. I believe the answer is a compilation of many issues.  As children grow up in the church, parents  need to realize that there is a great need to look for all occasions in which God’s truth can be applied to every day experiences.  This is beyond the child’s salvation experience according to Acts 2:38.  We parents have the obligation to take the time to instill God’s truths in to our children’s hearts at a young age through life application.  Easter is a prime opportunity to take the time to read about the resurrection of Jesus from the Bible. Talk to them about looking for Jesus to come on a daily basis to take us, His special bride, out of this evil world.   By the time your children reach adulthood, will they be able to say as Paul told Timothy?,—- “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (II Tim. 1:12)  Our children need to  be able to go beyond belief to a personal conviction about their own relationship with God.

In the middle of many experiences my children had in growing through their teen years,  I took the time to let them know that they must take ownership of their own relationship with God and not just be following the “rules” because of what mother and daddy expected.  They had to come to a place of personal conviction regarding their actions and activities in life that was based on their personal love for God and His truth.  That will only happen in the hearts of children today if they hide the Word of God in their hearts so they won’t sin against the Lord!  It has worked for four generations in our family and it will work for anyone who will discipline themselves to study to know the scriptures wherein you think you have eternal life!

I do believe, as I have discussed in previous articles, that one of the most powerful influences on our children’s lives for learning what it means to be a genuine Christian is our own actions as parents.  Do we love unconditionally?  Are we willing to validate our children by closing our mouths and opening our ears and hearts to listen to their thoughts and feelings on any subject?  Do we allow them to ask questions?  Are we willing to admit we might not have all answers to all things and that we need to seek God for His direction and wisdom?  Do we ask for forgiveness when our attitude is wrong? Do our children see us studying the Bible?  Do they see us  genuinely excited about living for God?

God spoke through Hosea 4:6 and said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge—”.  What do our children know about the  power of the Holy Ghost that dwells in them?  Do they understand that the Holy Spirit that dwells in them is what made Jesus rise from the dead?  Do they understand that they are the house of God – the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit?  Do they know the Holy Spirit can be their comforter, their guide, their present help in the time of temptation or trouble?  Do our children understand what it means to be  “God conscious” moment by moment, so they will be able to make right choices?  Have they seen us be Holy Ghost controlled in our daily choices?

Children as well as adults must have strong belief’s about being Holy of Heart.  Those belief’s will then become their personal convictions which will create Godly values  which will result in Godly attitudes and specific behaviors which will please the Lord.  This is just one part of knowing Him in the power of His resurrection!  WHAT DO YOUR CHILDREN KNOW AND BELIEVE AND HOW WILL THEIR CONVICTIONS SHAPE THEIR LIVES FOR GODLINESS IN ALL THINGS??????  Eternity will tell the full story!

(c) Carol Clemans – April 2009

When the Roof Caves In:

CRISIS COUNSELING

By:  Carol P. Clemans

Life Enrichment Ministries, Inc.

Certified Pastoral Counselor

Bible/Seminar Teacher

http://www.carolclemans.org

E-mail: carol@carolclemans.org

Synopsis Statement:

The following will define crisis counseling, describe crisis counseling from a Biblical perspective, explain the process of crisis intervention, share how to minister to children in crisis and  explain the crisis of adolescence.  All materials are taken from ‘CRISIS COUNSELING – How to Help People During Times of Crisis and Stress” – by H. Norman Wright.

I will write these notes as if I were teaching  “Principles of Counseling” as I did for six years at Christian Life College.

What is the definition of a crisis?   Answer:  When a problem is overwhelming, or when our support system, either within ourselves or from others, doesn’t work, we are thrown off balance – this is a crisis.  This is when people in ministry are called upon more than any other time in life. Crises are a part of life.  They should be anticipated and expected to occur.  They are inevitable. 

APPLICATION OF BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES:

The Chinese character for crisis is made up of two symbols:  one is for despair and the other for opportunity.   This reminds me of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – NLT.   The commentary in the Life Application Bible on this verse says, “God works in “everything”—not just isolated incidents—for our good.  This does not mean that all that happens to us is good.  Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.  Note that God is not working to make us happy but to fulfill his purpose.  Note also that this promise is not for everybody.  It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called by him, that is, those whom the Holy spirit convinces to receive Christ.  Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set.  They trust in God, not in worldly treasures; their security is in heaven, not on  earth.  Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them.”

When we understand Romans 8:28 in the above definition, then we will not be using it as a  “band aide” scripture  when bad things happen in a person’ life.  People have been more deeply wounded when a well-meaning helper says,  “Oh, what’s happened to you isn’t that bad (crisis).  Remember God said, ‘all things work together for good,’ so cheer up.”   No, we don’t need to be quoting scriptures to placate people because of our own feelings of insecurity and uncertainty in the situation.

Jesus responded to people at their need.  He felt compassion for those that were with him for three days listening to his teaching and had nothing to eat.  His concern was to alleviate suffering and meet the needs of the people.  When Jesus met people, he accepted them as they were.  This characteristic of acceptance is seen in John 4, John 8, and Luke 19.

Jesus gave worth to people and showed them that he cared.  Matt. l0:29 – “Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. – vs 30 – And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  vs 31 – So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.”  Helping a person discover their personal worth because of who God is and what He has done for us helps to stabilize the person in a crisis.

Jesus emphasized the peace of mind that is available to those in need:  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful”  (John 14:27).

Jesus’ ministry was effective because of His personal involvement with the disciples and with others.  He was not aloof;  He was personal, sensitive, and caring.  The Bible instructs us to weep with those that weep and mourn with those that mourn and rejoice with those that rejoice.  A crisis may be a time to weep with the pained person.  If it is a death, weep with the one remaining.  Don’t say,  “It must have been his/her time. God is in control”.  Even though these may be truthful statements, it is not the time to say it to the one who is mourning.

We are still human beings even if we have the Holy Ghost.  When death takes a loved one,  there will be much grief because of the loss of the loved one being alive around us, talking to us, loving us, etc.  We  grieve for ourselves and we need to have time to do so.

As a minister helper, we must be personal, sensitive and caring.  Our caring must come from a sincere heart of love for the hurting person in crisis.  They can tell when we genuinely care and when it is just action by duty.    Ask the  person in crisis what you can do to help.  For example:  make phone calls, run an errand, take them to appointments, go with them to talk to family members, etc.

Listening is a crucial part of counseling and especially crisis counseling. When the hurting person can talk and share what they are feeling about the crisis circumstance, it acts as a pressure release valve.  Listening without being judgmental is important.  A person in crisis does not  need to be criticized about what they are feeling.  Feelings are just feelings and must be processed.  It is part of the emotional healing process.

James l:19 says that each of us is to be “a ready listener” (Amp.). (See Prov. 15:3l; 18:13,15; 21:28.)  Listening is a skill that can be learned.  There is a difference between hearing and listening.  Hearing is the gaining of information for oneself.  Listening is caring for and being empathetic toward others.  The counselee can tell the difference between your just hearing or if you are really listening from the heart.

We need to edify and help the person in crisis.  Gals. 6:2 – “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens—-” (Amp.)   Romans 14:19 says to “eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.” ( Amp.)

The word edify, which is part of helping, means to hold up or to promote growth in Christian wisdom, grace, virtue and holiness.  We should edify those that come to us for counsel.

Encouraging, along with listening, is one of the most important techniques in helping a person in crisis  (see I Thess. 5:14 – “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy.  Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak.  Be patient with everyone.”)  Encouraging a person helps him to believe in his own personal worth in Christ, which is one of the goals in counseling and especially in a crisis.

THE PROCESS OF CRISIS INTERVENTION:

The first step is immediate intervention.  Crisis is a time of turmoil with a high level of distress.  Crisis experiences do not check your calendar to see when it would be convenient!  People need to feel you are glad they contacted you in their crisis.  If they must wait to see you, it shouldn’t be for more than one night.  If they have to wait to see you, at least talk to them briefly on the phone and then reaffirm the time and place you will see them as soon as possible.  If there is a hint of being self-destructive, you must take immediate action. You need to act quickly since your assistance can make the crisis less severe and may help protect the person from inflicting harm upon himself.

A suicidal person needs direct intervention.  Some of the most severe outcomes of a crisis are suicide, homicide, running away, physical harm, psychosis, or a family breaking apart.  Cutting oneself off from acknowledged emotional ties of a family is a disaster for both the person and the family members.

If you as a youth pastor are not immediately available to someone in a crisis, then you  need to have a referral to your assistant or the pastor.  Don’t just put the hurting person on hold until it is convenient for you.

The second step of crisis counseling is action.  You,  as a minister, need to be quite active.  You will need to participate in, contribute to, and direct this first session or time together.  Your listening is important for the purpose of gathering information.    Encourage the person to express his/her feelings about the event that has happened.  The questions, who, what, when, where and how will be your guide.

You need to think ahead of time about what you would do if one of the youth in the church came to you and said they had been sexually abused, or beaten, or raped, etc.  This does happen.  (You need to know the laws of your state regarding mandated reporting.)  The perpetrator is usually a family member or a friend.  Very few of these cases are committed by a stranger.  The very sad issue is that in the church the perpetrator  many times is a “respected” church member and no one wants to believe the victim. The church must be prepared to handle these types of crises in the right manor according to the state law.

The third steps of crisis counseling is to start achieving the limited goal of counseling to avert catastrophe and to restore the person to a state of balance.  If the person was abused, do what you must by state law, then find a safe place for the victim to stay.

Fourth, since people in crisis feel hopeless, it is important to foster hope and positive expectations.  This is the time when they need to borrow your hope and faith until theirs returns.  Examining choices and consequences and then selecting a path enables a person to cope both now and in future situations.

The fifth step in counseling a person in crisis is to provide support.  One of the reasons a problem developes into a crisis is the lack of an adequate social support system.  The knowledge that you are praying for the person each day and available to pray with the person over the phone is a source of support. Get the person connected to a supportive peer that knows how to love unconditionally.  When you expand the support system, it reduces the demand on you.  The person in crisis needs to be reminded that God is with him all the time. But you as a helper must realize that the hurting person will need “a god with skin on temporarily.”   Some churches train people as lay counselors.  Since crisis counseling is short term, this is one of the best types of counseling to prepare them for.

Step number six, focused problem solving, has been called the backbone of crisis counseling.  You and the counselee try to determine the main problem that led to the crisis, and then you help the person plan and implement ways to resolve it.

There are no shortcuts to helping a person in crisis.  In many crises there is a grief over loss.  It is common to equate grief with the loss incurred in the death of a loved one.  But the loss of a job, a home, a valued object, a friendship, a family member through divorce or separation, an opportunity, hope, or ambition, as  well as impending bad news, all bring grief.  Encourage the person  and help him work through the feeling of loss.  It is necessary that the grief work be accomplished.

MINISTERING TO CHILDREN IN CRISIS:

Ministering to children will involve ministering to the  parents of these children, too.  It also will involve training all those who work with children in your church to identify the signs of crisis problems and equip them to help as much as they can.  Some people assume they will never work directly with children.  Perhaps so, except when a crisis occurs and they are forced into it.  All of us need to be prepared.

Crisis in a child can have long-lasting effects because it may make the child less capable of  dealing with trauma in the future.   The most common  reaction usually  involves the initial shock and then a high level of anxiety.  The child has no previous experience of a crisis to fall back on.  He feels his world has caved in. The child needs to discuss and sort out his fears with an adult because he probably does not realize he has other options.

One of the main approaches with children is the use of empathy.  It means entering the private world of the child or youth and becoming comfortable with it.  It’s realizing that the child’s thinking and perception are different from yours as a young adult.  It means putting your thoughts and help into words the child/youth can understand.

When a crisis happens in a family, sometimes the child/youth can feel that everything is his fault.  The child may believe that he is at the center of life and can affect what happens.  He may feel that if he is ill, it was a sin he committed that caused it.  He/she may feel they are to blame for the sexual abuse, etc.  Helping a child fully express his inner thoughts and feelings is one of the best approaches in helping them to sort out what the truth is about the crisis they are in.  That’s why it is so important to include the parents in the process of dealing with the crisis.

This information is just touching the surface of what you need to know in helping children or youth in crisis counseling.

THE CRISIS OF ADOLESCENCE:

Nothing about coming in to adolescence is easy today.  Hormones are changing, the body is changing, and desires are developing.  Even in the best of circumstances and the best of home life, adolescence can be difficult.

As a youth leader, you could be faced with a young pregnant teenager, a young man on drugs, a teen girl with anorexia nervosa, a rape victim –  all of these are crises.  It is important to remember that children and youth are being  raised in a promiscuous, violent, non-Christian society.  And being a Christian can create additional stress that produces inner conflict.

More and more teens are coming from unstable homes.  Divorce is commonplace, and the role models of stable marriages and stable family life are lacking.  This is creeping into our churches.

Rebellion is a very common reaction to becoming a teenager.  But the more secure the teenager, the less rebellion will be seen.  The more insecure, the more radical the rebellion.  Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”

Teens need healthy relationships with their parents and other adults.  If churches would consider a mentoring program to have spiritually healthy adults involved with some of the youth activities, it would provide the opportunity for youth from single parent homes, or homes with stress, to make a bond with an adult that would be a good role model and encourage open communication.

Teens are struggling with feelings of self worth, of acceptance by their peers, of facing the transition from being a child to becoming an adult and possible educational stresses, etc.  When a teen has their parents plus another trusted adult in the church that they feel a bond with, it is a tremendous positive force in their life.

Both of  my children told me after they became adults, that in times of stress in their lives as pre-teens and teens, they received  the same guidance from  trusted adults in the church that they had already heard from us.  When they heard the same advice from another adult, it was a reinforcement for them to make right choices about their lives.  As a parent, I was very thankful for this unknown back up that had taken place because we encouraged our children to be involved with other adults in the church through their friends and youth activities.

RECOMMENDED READING:  “Crisis Counseling” by H. Norman Wright,  “Handbook on Counseling Youth” by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler and “Counseling Teenagers” by Dr. Keith Olson.

(c) Carol Clemans – September 2009

When the Roof Caves in:

HELPING YOUTH OVERCOME LIFE’S MISTAKES

By:  Carol P. Clemans

Life Enrichment Ministries, Inc.

Certified Pastoral Counselor

Bible/Seminar Teacher

http://www.carolclemans.org

E-mail:  carol@carolclemans.org

Synopsis Statement:

We don’t just live with the facts of our lives, but we live with our own interpretation about the facts of our lives.  Our interpretation can  be very distorted.  The healing comes when we understand what is God’s truth  about the facts of our lives.  When we know His truth, then we can be set free.

God is the healer of our brokenness.  Isaiah 6l: 1 – 3,  “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise  instead of despair.  For the Lord has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

After the gospel, the Lord came to comfort  our brokenhearts.  He came to release us  from the prison of the “stinkin thinkin” of our minds!  It’s time to stop mourning over the wrong we have done and accept God’s favor and forgiveness.  God gives beauty instead of ashes for pain, joy instead of sorrow, praise instead of pitifulness.  For we are the plantings of the Lord and nothing can remove us!  As we understand God’s design for change then we can overcome our mistakes.

In this class session I will teach from the perspective of how I counsel.  When I’m teaching or counseling, I talk about “we” and “us” instead of “you” and them”.  I don’t want anyone to feel inferior to  me as a helper.  But for the grace of God, go there I.  We all have fallen short of the glory of God.  When someone is hurting and is seeking help, they don’t need to feel the added condemnation of a helper acting “spiritually superior”.  Remain humble and sincere before God and you will be an effective helper that God can use.

ACCEPTING FORGIVENESS – THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING MISTAKES:

Accepting God’s forgiveness for our sins and mistakes is the secret to being an overcomer.  The first step to overcoming life’s mistakes is to admit the mistakes.  Many times people feel condemned about their mistakes, but they don’t want to confess to God and honestly admit what they have done.  The Lord loves a honest,contrite and repentant spirit.

Unhealthy families don’t talk, don’t feel and don’t trust.  They keep secrets.  We cannot get over mistakes by not talking and not sharing how we feel.  This is the only way to build trust with God, self and others.

In healthy families, people talk, feel and trust.  God wants us to be spiritually, emotionally and relationally healthy.

Honest repentance before God is what forgiveness is based on.  We can do nothing to earn forgiveness or to be worthy of it.  It is a gift from God.  Our feelings of being unworthy are our own worst enemy.

Youth who have been promiscuous may feel that since they are no longer a virgin, “What’s the use?”  We must be reminded that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.  Just because we fall in a gutter and get dirty doesn’t mean that we stay there.  We need encouragement to get up, get out and let God cleanse us with the power of His blood.

I want to share some scripture about forgiveness and then discuss how to help someone who has made a mistake to learn from what happened instead of being destroyed by it.  I recently heard a minister say,  “I want you to fail intelligently.”  That statement doesn’t seem to make sense, but it holds a truth.  If you learn from your failures, then you will become more intelligent and become a wiser person.

God is the forgiver of our sins (mistakes):

Isa. l:18 – “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  ——-Believers are made white as snow, no matter what the mistake is.  To be an overcomer is to believe God’s truth and take it as our own.

Ps. 32:1-2 – Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.   ———   If there is no deceit, that means to be totally honest with God.  He knows everything about us anyway.  There is such a feeling of freedom when we are honest with God.  We will give an account to Him for our every thought, feeling and action so we need to be a person of authenticity.

Ps. 32:3-4  –  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.   ——–David was depressed until he repented and was forgiven.  Confession is good for the soul!

Ps. 32:5 –  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave  the guilt of my sin.   —— We need to understand that God readily forgives our sins (mistakes) when we repent and confess to Him what we have done.  If we are only sorry because we got caught, then we have not truly repented.

Ps. l03:8-12 – The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The amazing thing about God’s forgiveness is that He does not give us what we deserve –  none of us could make it if He did —-God’s forgiveness wipes the slate clean – He sees our sin no more.  The problem is we still SEE OUR SIN (OUR MISTAKE) and we refuse to accept God’s forgiveness.    To be an overcomer, we must accept God’s vision of us!  Our sin is washed away in the power of the Blood of the Lamb!  It does not exist!!!!!!   When we truly receive that truth and transfer it from our head to our heart  (I call it heart knowledge) and  take ownership of God’s truth — WE WILL BE SET FREE FROM THE CHAINS OF THAT MISTAKE  which has disappeared from view.    This is an example of changing our interpretation about the facts of our lives to God’s interpretation!!!!

I John l:9 –  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Prov. 28:13-14 –  He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  Blessed is the man who always fears the  LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

I Cor. 6: 9 – 11  –  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!

As a youth leader, you will find the Word of God is your main source of helping young people to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  The more they understand about God’s overall plan for their lives as a child of God, it will give them direction to follow His will.

REVIEWING THE PAST:

As a counselor, the only reason I ask a counselee to tell me about their family life, their relationship with their parents, siblings, etc. is to try and understand what might have been a cause for them to make the choices that they made that were mistakes.

Many people make choices that are unwise out of the emotional hurts they have experienced in their lives.  If they didn’t receive healthy parental love, they could seek love and acceptance in promiscuous relationships not realizing they will come out more damaged.  Then through that choice, they could become pregnant and have an abortion.  Guilt piles on guilt, rejection piles on more rejection, until they feel helpless and hopeless.

Maybe they were sex abuse victims and they take the blame and guilt that belongs to the perpetrator and  hate themselves which leads in a downward spiral to destructive  behavior.  They feel dirty, useless, hopeless and helpless.

The message they need to hear from you as a helper is that they are loved by God no matter what was done to them or what they have done acting out in their pain.  The above scriptures are what will help them to change their interpretation  about the facts of their life.

They need to be loved and accepted by you right where they are.  They need to hear about God’s unconditional love.  He loves us inspite of our sins and mistakes.  He also demands that we repent and make a decision to change.

The decision to change may be in their heart, but they will need a lot of encouragement from you.

They might need help in understanding why they need to forgive someone who sinned against them.  They need to forgive the pain that someone else may have caused them so they will no longer be controlled by the events of  their past.

By this time their self worth has been destroyed by the devil.  They need to hear about God’s love, how he created them in His image and after His likeness.  They need to know how special they are to God.

Psm. 139 is a wonderful passage of scripture to help us understand how we are so special to God.  He tells us that he was there when we were being created in our mother’s womb – he designed every part of our body.  He knows everything about us and he still loves us.

As a youth leader helper, your unconditional love and acceptance of the teen or youth who has made a mistake  will be one of the greatest strengths the overcomer will hold on to.  You are a representative of God to them.  If you love them, accept them, encourage them and spend time with them, they will feel God’s love and forgiveness through you.  They will grow in the Lord and gain God’s wisdom and understanding that will help them not to repeat the sins (mistakes) they have made in the past.  They will learn that they do have better choices to make which meets with God’s approval.

Knowing God’s Word is the true healer.   Teach the Word, share the Word, walk in the Word, live by the Word.  Then you can say to the youth,  “Follow me as I follow Christ.”   WE ALL CAN BE OVERCOMERS!!!!!!

Recommended books:

“Healing for Damaged Emotions” – by David Seamands

“Door of Hope” – by Jan Frank

(c) Carol Clemans – September 2009

When the Roof Caves In:

MINISTERING TO YOUTH FROM BROKEN HOMES

By:  Carol P. Clemans

Life Enrichment Ministries, INC.

Certified Pastoral Counselor

Bible/Seminar Teacher

http://www.carolclemans.org.

carol@carolclemans.org

(636) 448-0121

Synopsis Statement:  #1 – Brief description of the attributes of a Healthy Home.              #2 -Listing the effects of a broken home on youth.

#3 -Describing how to be be a healing helper to the youth  from broken homes.

Part #1:

God’s design for the family began in Genesis.   When God presented Adam with Eve, Adam said, “At last!  She is part of my flesh and bone!  She will be called ‘woman,’

because she was taken out of man.”  This explains why a man leaves his

father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united in to

one.” – NLT – Gen. 2:  23-24.

God’s design is one man  with one woman joined for life.  As the result of sin in the Garden of Eden, we now have a current statistic that only 25% of families in America  are the original  father and mother with the birth children! Approximately 50% of all new marriages end in divorce and well over 50% of remarriages end  in divorce.

A healthy family is created when a father and mother both love God with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength and live that example before their children.

This creates an atmosphere of  unconditional love and acceptance, healthy discipline, consistency and a basis for building  a God centered self worth in all family members.  Respect and honor will be at the foundation of the healthy family.

When hearts are turned by selfish desires, by repeating the unhealthy patterns of  families from one generation to the next, or death separates the  parent from the child,  emotional pain can distort a youth’s vision of God, destroying their feelings of personal value and cause the dysfunction of the family to be repeated in their own lives into adulthood.

Part #2:

Divorce creates the broken home.  Divorce can be caused by adultery, by abuse which includes: verbal, emotional, and physical, or by one or both  parents who just refuse to totally submit to God and work through their differences, processing the pain they have caused each other, learning healthy ways to communicate and forgiving each other.

(Note:  The death of a parent does not create a broken home.  It creates an absence of a loved one.  The family has not been broken, it has been emotionally wounded and the wounds react differently.  As a youth leader, you must ‘be there’ for the child whose parent died.  Death is not usually by choice.  It is most commonly a sickness  or an accident and the child needs to be gently reminded that their parent didn’t leave on  purpose.  There is a major emotional difference between divorce and death.  The youth will be wounded by the absence of the loving parent, but the process of healing is somewhat different.)

The following are effects of parental divorce:

DENIAL:

The teen can act as if the divorce is not happening to their parents.  If they deny the problem, they think it will go away.  They may refuse to accept the divorce even though they are now living separately from one parent.  They hang on to the hope that their parents will  get back together.

SHAME/EMBARRASSMENT:

Youth are usually ashamed and embarrassed by divorce because they feel that it means something is wrong with their family.  They are ashamed of the conduct of the parent who choses adultery, etc.  They are shameful of having to move (which usually happens because of lack of finances) to a smaller place, leaving a home and living in an apartment.  There seems to be a greater shame among church teens because the church does not agree or accept divorced people as the world does.

BLAME/GUILT:

Preteens and teens may feel their fighting with their siblings caused so much friction for their parents that they are the cause of the divorce.  Teens may feel their rebelliousness caused their parents to divorce.  Some parents have been so emotionally unhealthy as to actually blame the child or children for the divorce.  This type of accusation may cause serious feelings of possibly wanting to destroy themselves.  The teen may feel, “If I kill myself, then my parents won’t have a reason for divorce.”  Be watchful for this type of statement.

ANGER:

Anger is one of the most common responses to parental divorce.  Anger can come from  resentment of being separated from one parent, from feeling abandoned, from being different than their friends with intact families.  The parents usually deal with a great deal of anger between themselves.  Their children pick up on the anger and the frustration.  Parents sometimes use the child as a “go-between” as an excuse not to talk to teach other and make the child give messages back and forth.  The child feels the unfairness of it all and the confusion of loyalty toward one parent or the other.

The child can start “acting out”  which is not their normal behavior.  Children want their parents attention in a healthy, loving manner.  When it is not available, they will do whatever it takes to get attention even if it is negative attention.

FEAR:

Fear is caused by things that cannot be controlled.  When a youth faces parental divorce there could be fear of the insecurity of their future financially, emotionally, and educationally.  They may fear losing the grandparent relationship  of the divorcing parent.  They may fear the reaction of their friends, teachers, family and church.  Their fear may cause them to lash out emotionally towards their family, friends, and even at church.  You as a helper may be asked the question,  “If God is so loving and caring, why is He letting this happen to me?”

(Special answer to above question:  The Lord gave humans a choice in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and that brought sin, sickness, disease, death and cruelty of all types to the human race because evil entered through the influence of Satan.  God still gives each human being a choice to do right or wrong.  If divorce happens to a family because of the sinful choice of a parent, it is not God’s fault.   We all will account to God for our every thought, feeling and action. Helping the child of a divorce to understand where the blame belongs is an important part of healing.  God is not the author of confusion or pain.  People’s choices are what creates pain for others.)

RELIEF:

Some youth of parental divorce are relieved that their parents got a divorce because there was so much pain and confusion in the home.  They are glad their parents are no longer together because now they live in peace and harmony.

In my six years of teaching Marriage and Family at Christian Life College, I started each semester class with a survey asking would the student want the marriage their parents had because it was good and they could make it better, or would they not want the marriage their parents had?  The college students  responded between 50% – 67% each year that they did NOT want the marriage their parents had.  Most of these students where from church families!

LOW SELF WORTH/INSECURITY:

Healthy self worth is based on being loved and accepted as a creation of God.  This affirmation should come from parents at birth and on through the lifetime of the child.  When divorce hits a family, a child of any age can internalize the blame,  feel abandoned, feel inferior to others, feel like they don’t “fit in” any more.  Every person created needs to feel unconditional love and acceptance from others.  When a parent walks out of a family, most children feel a deep sense of loss in all areas of their lives.  They can feel like they are nothing but trouble for their parents, especially if child care and child support become major problems between the divorcing parents.

GRIEF:

Yes, there is grief because a relationship has died.  Some people think grief is only upon the death of a loved one.  Grief is a real part of a divorcing family.  The loss of a parent in their daily life, the loss of their home, the loss of the feeling of  being an intact family – all of these are real losses that can be felt very deeply in the heart of a child.

DEPRESSION:

Depression is anger and fear turned inward.  If a child doesn’t have the emotional support that is needed through a divorce, depression can be very real.  It seems to paralyze the child emotionally, relationally and functionally.

ALIENATION & LONELINESS:

Because of all the stress that comes with divorce, a child or youth can feel totally lost, almost non-existent because the parents don’t have quality time to spend with the child.  If there was such a thing as a healthy divorce, it would really be a blessing for the children.  (But if the parents where emotionally healthy, there would not be a divorce).  The lost child needs to know they are still loved by both parents.  Both parents need to take the time to be with each child and reinforce their love.  Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t happen.  That’s when the youth leader needs to be sensitive to giving attention to the “lost” youth.

Other effects of divorce on youth can be academic problems, behavioral problems, sexual activity  (looking for someone to love them), and substance abuse, etc.

Part #3:

The youth leader can help a pre-teen or teen through this very painful time of their life by becoming a good listener.  You may have to reach out to the teen who seems introverted or “acts” like everything is fine.  You know everything is not fine when parents are getting a divorce.

This teen needs a big heavy dose of continual unconditional love.  When the teen does share how he feels, especially if it is a negative emotion, please don’t say,  “Hey, you shouldn’t feel like that.  You need to pray!”  Please don’t do this.  The process of healing means processing how we feel right or wrong.  The hurting youth needs someone he can trust to share his deepest wounds with and have no fear of retaliation.

Trust has been broken with the parent who is divorcing.  It will be hard for the youth to trust anyone again, even God.  The Bible instructs us to weep with those that weep and mourn with those that mourn.  When you weep with them for a while and then start encouraging them with what is God’s truth about their life,  eventually you will be able to rejoice with their victories too.  Never break their confidences.  The only time that is done is if they say they want to kill themselves or someone else or that there has been sexual abuse.  Then you must report it to the authorities – at least this is true in California.  You should discuss this with your pastor before you counsel any youth.

Being aware of all the above effects of divorce for a youth is the beginning of understanding  and helping them.  If your home life and parents’ marriage were healthy and strong, you need to be especially sensitive.  The best helper to the hurting is your trying to “put on the shoes” of the other person’s experiences so you can be touched by the feelings of their infirmities as God is touched by yours.

Affirm the youth as a person created and loved by God no matter what their family life is like.  Let them know that their feelings are normal for what they are going through or have been through.

Direct and encourage their dependence on God.  God never changes and He never fails.  He wants us to be honest with Him about our feelings in what we are going through.  Encourage the hurting youth to do prayer journaling.  God wants them to spill their guts to Him.  It works as a cleanser of the heart.  David of the Psalms did it all the time.

Reinforce the positive attributes that the youth has.  Encourage participation in Bible studies geared to youth, youth recreational activities and youth service planning.  They need to feel they really belong, especially with God and His people.  Plan youth activities where they can reach out and help others – i.e., offer to paint fences/houses for the elderly in your church, mow yards, etc.  When a hurting person helps others, there is an inner healing that starts taking place.

Find an intact family in the church that will “emotionally” adopt the youth of a divorce.  This youth  needs to observe on a regular basis a loving, caring Mom and Dad who love each other and their children in a healthy way.  Seeing a healthy role model will be the best teacher as to what it takes to make a marriage and family function in God’s design.

Remind the youth that you are available to listen any time.  A hurting person needs to feel sincere care and love from others.

Be aware that  youth from broken homes can feel their understanding of God is broken.  It is called a distorted God concept. If their natural parent isn’t loving, how can an unseen heavenly “Father” really care about them?   Your providing a listening ear and a loving heart will help heel that negative gap.  Always remind them that God loved them so much that He died on a cross to bring them into a relationship with Him.  The more they hear and know the Word of God, it will give them strength to become strong in Him.

Teens need to understand that healing comes from an active relationship with God.  Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

Special Note:  If you perceive that the teen and his parents continue in  an emotional hurting relationship, talk to your pastor about  approaching the parents.  They need to be encouraged to lay aside the personal pain they have given each other and reach out to the needs of the youth.  Get Godly counsel to help the family heal inspite of the divorce.

Recommended books:

“Handbook on COUNSELING YOUTH – A comprehensive guide for equipping Youth Workers, Pastors, Teachers, Parents” –  by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler

“HEALING ADULT CHILDREN OF DIVORCE – Taking  Care of Unfinished Business So You Can Be Whole Again”  – by Dr. Archibald D. Hart   (I would suggest that you obtain and read this book and then offer to go through it with  youth from broken homes.  It will help them not to repeat the dysfunctions of their parents. The church needs to be the support system for the family.)

(c) Carol Clemans – September 2009

TO GOD I PLEDGE MY SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTABILITY

By:  Carol Clemans – carol@carolclemans.org  (636) 448-0121

As children of God baptized with His Holy Spirit, we must understand that our every word and action must be filtered through an instant God consciousness within each of us asking the question, “God, are you pleased with this (my words, my actions)?”    The willingness to consider God’s opinion about everything in our lives comes forth from our hearts that are full of a deep love for the God of Glory who died on a cruel cross, shedding His own blood to wash away our sins.  God proved His love for us by the supreme sacrifice of death!   What will we do to prove our love for Him?  He wants us to live every aspect of our lives to give Him glory!

I have been blessed to have Sister Olive Haney as a friend for many years.  We have shared our joys and sorrows.  We had lunch together (2003) and talked about our love for God and our joy in serving Him.  Spiritual accountability to God was one subject we discussed.  Living day by day with a clean heart is His gift to us through our willingness to surrender our will and ways to Him.  We expressed our mutual dismay and sadness at hearing about people who have served God for many years, then sin is exposed that not only brings shame to them and their families, but to God and fellow believers.  What is missing in their hearts?  The only answer to this question comes from the Word of God.

Our first accountability must be to God!  Romans 14:12 says, “So then each of us shall give account of HIMSELF (caps mine) to God.”  We must never

allow the devil to deceive us in to thinking that ALL of our actions and words are not  important to God.  His Word tells us to do everything HEARTILY as unto the Lord.  On the job, in the home, in private at home or away from home, everything should be done in a way that brings glory to God!  It’s not hard to serve God!  It is the easiest way to live when God has total control.  With God in control,  there is peace of heart and calmness of the soul.  It’s a total surrender of our will to the will of our Saviour and Creator.

Accountability to God includes accountability to self.  Matthew 12:36 says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  vs. 37 – For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  My daily prayer is to let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to God.  It takes self-discipline.  When we love God deeply, it is not a sacrifice.  It is a willingness to submit to a loving Saviour.

Romans 12:1&2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present YOUR BODIES a living sacrifice, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT will of God.” (All caps mine – all quotes from NLT).

The only way we can renew our mind is to get into God’s Word and in prayer with Him.  When God’s Word is our daily spiritual diet, then we  have the power to resist the devil and he will flee from us.  If we hide the Word in our hearts, we will not sin against God.

The third way to be accountable to God is by opening ourselves up to share with others whom we can trust to pray for us, to confess our faults to (James 5:16), and provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).  I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins,  He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Praise God!!  Confession is good for the soul.  But when we confess, we must make a choice not to repeat the sin again.

I’ve read in Chuck Swindoll’s writings, that he had a group of men that he met with on a monthly basis.  They shared their trials, temptations, victories,  kept each other accountable and prayed for each other.  We must strive for this willingness to be open and vulnerable with God and man.    When this is our goal, we have nothing to fear.  God wants us to be sincere and authentic with Him and others. Then we can truly be  LIGHTS TO THE WORLD.

We are responsible to God for our THOUGHTS, FEELINGS & ACTIONS. As we filter our  THOUGHTS through God, He will help our FEELINGS to conform to His will, then our ACTIONS will give Him glory!  

God’s Word says to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling.  We must take ownership of our actions.  We can’t blame others for what we choose to do.  We must be accountable to God, self and others.

I was greatly impressed by the testimony of two of the astronauts who met their untimely tragic deaths in the Columbia explosion on February l, 2003.  Rick Husband and Michael Anderson were Spirit filled believers in God.  They were not ashamed to share their faith with everyone who entered their lives.  They both were totally devoted to God and their families.  What do people say about us?

I believe questions we need to ask ourselves are, “Do the people that I meet everyday see God in me?  Do my actions speak for the righteousness of God?  Do I show God’s unconditional love to others? “  Spiritual accountability is allowing the Holy Ghost who dwells within us to be our helper so we can say, “Yes” to each of these questions.  Our eternity could begin in the next moment of time.  I think of an old song that says, “Our hearts must be clean to meet Jesus———–our hearts must from evil be free.”  Let’s encourage each other to be like Jesus!

http://www.carolclemans.org

(c) Carol Clemans – September 2009


FIVE SECRETS OF A LOVING, LASTING MARRIAGE

By:  Carol Clemans (carol@carolclemans.org)

Certified Pastoral Counselor/Bible Seminar Teacher

Life Enrichment Ministries, Inc. (501c3)

Love is a many splendor thing, but to remain exciting, loving and fulfilling it takes work, work, work.  We are celebrating 32 years of marriage in this year of  2002.  My parents had almost 62 years of marriage before death parted them.  Through our experience on this marriage road and through watching other family, friends and counseling couples, the following five ingredients are essentials that must be nurtured continually:

1. LOVE:  GOD is love.  We know about passionate love in marriage which is a gift from God and intended for pleasure, but if we do not have the deep love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, even passionate love will ebb and flow with great intensity if we do not learn to love with God’ s love.

I Cor. 13: 4 – 8 (Amp) – “Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.  It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly,  Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it (it pays no attention to a suffered wrong).  It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.  Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything (without weakening).

LOVE NEVER FAILS (never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end).”

WOW! WOW! WOW!  If every wife and husband who love God would live by the above definition of love, we would have continual joyous marriages in our churches and what a tremendous witness that would be to the world!

2.  SELFLESSNESS:  One definition of this is sacrificial loving.  Selfishness is the root of all marital problems.  In a loving marriage, each spouse seeks ways to please the other.  It is a fulfillment of the Golden Rule – “Do unto others (spouse) as you would have them do unto you.”  The wonderful outcome is that both husband and wife have their needs and desires met because both are willing to sacrifice their selfishness and become selfless.

Ephesians 5: 21 – 33 –  is the clear blueprint for a God centered marriage that has actions of being selfless.   When the husband loves as Christ loves, submission from the wife becomes a non-issue (it’s automatic)  because she can’t resist that lovin’ man.  This is also the principle of reaping what you sow.

3.  COMMITMENT:  The simple definition of this in action is saying to your spouse, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Let’s go back to God’s example.  He gave Himself for us to prove His everlasting love.  Marriage is a sacred commitment before God and man to your one and only wife/husband.  Never allow the word divorce to be spoken in your home.    When we allow the Love of God to rule our hearts and actions and we refuse to allow our selfishness to control us, then commitment will reign in our marriage.  We won’t allow another person inside our emotional boundary other than our spouse.  We will put hedges of  protection around us and our actions to protect the integrity of our marital commitment.

4. RESPECT:   Respect is to honor and cherish your wife/husband.  Respect must be the rule even in the middle of conflict.  Remember, love is kind, patient, etc.  We have no excuse to be disrespectful in any circumstances.  Husbands, as the Priest of the Home, T.D. Jakes, in his book “Celebrating Marriage – Six Pillars from Ephesians”,  says, “Husband, tell your wife repeatedly how special she is to you and that you believe she was created just for you.  She was fashioned and formed to fit with you, to strengthen you, and to help you.  Tell her that you rely on her more than you can express; that other than Jesus, she is the most important person in your life.  She is the one with whom you want to share your heart and life.  She is the one with whom you want to spend all your days on earth.”  Let your actions show it and your wife’s response will be overwhelming towards you with much love and respect in return.

5. COMMUNICATION:   Talk, talk, talk.  Listen, listen, listen. I’m not describing surface talk.   A happy husband and wife will make time in their busy schedules to share with each other and be good listeners.  Reflecting back to your spouse what is said to you is  one key to good communication.  Good communication is work and takes time.  Listen with your heart.  Share with “I” messages –  “I feel——–(whatever).”  As we must communicate with God in prayer, we must communicate with our spouse on a deep level, then all areas of our marital relationship will be blessed. (c) Carol Clemans – 9-09

DETOURS: HELPING YOUTH RECOVER FROM MORAL FAILURE

Carol Clemans

Certified Pastoral Counselor

www.carolclemans.org

carol@carolclemans.org

(636) 448-0121

SYNOPSIS STATEMENT: Helping youth leaders understand there are many factors in helping youth recover from moral failure.  It includes a life study of the individual, their initial salvation experience and encouragement in accepting God’s forgiveness that is freely given with sincere repentance.  After repentance, the youth will need help in rebuilding their spiritual relationship with God and with others.

Moral failure is a sin against your own body. I Corinthians 6:18 – 20 states plainly, “Flee fornication.  Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.  What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  I feel I need to put a “jump start” in the seminar material to help we leaders understand we need to be teaching the Word of God to get His truth imbedded in to the hearts of our young people so they will run from moral failure instead of being caught up in the world’s rut of destruction.

Listen to the New Living Translation of I Corinthians 6: 18 –20, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.”   If we as leaders would make this scripture a must read somewhere in the weekly church services, young and old alike would get a renewed vision as to who they are in God and will instinctively run from not only sexual sin, but all sin!!!!!

The only way a youth can recover from moral failure is getting in to the Word of God by your direction as a leader and understand as the above scripture shares how much God loves him/her.  God proved His love to us by buying us with the high price of His life in death.  He gave His body for us, so we must give our bodies to Him. THE THEME OF OUR LIVES SHOULD BE TO GLORIFY GOD IN OUR BODIES IN EVERYTHING WE DO!  Here’s the one question that will stop all sexual sins:  WOULD MY HAVING SEX OUTSIDE THE BOUNDS OF MY FUTURE OR PRESENT MARRIAGE BRING GLORY TO GOD?  The resounding answer is, “NO”!  That is all it takes is ONE MOMENT to make a God-based decision.

There are many reasons that youth get involved in sexual activity.  It can be somewhat different for girls than guys.  Girls that come from a home where there is not a healthy father/daughter relationship are much more likely to seek the attention of a guy.  She’s looking for affection, but if the guy is not God-centered he is usually looking for sex.  So you put a girl with raging emotions with a guy who has raging hormones, and you will have sexual explosions and then disastrous painful emotions facing shame, pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen all of these in the church.

As church leaders we must understand that our church youth are being saturated with sexual pictures and themes everywhere they look.  They are watching videos, movies and TV somewhere.  I had one church youth tell me he watched R rated videos with his (saved) father.  What kind of a double message does that give to youth?  Portray holiness at church and then bring filth into the home!

Work with the youth that is recovering from moral failure by becoming a friend to them. Show interest in what they do, their goals and dreams for themselves. Find an older same/sex church member who is strong in the Lord to be a mentor with this youth.  Maybe this youth has been a victim of some type of abuse in their younger years.  This is often the reason that a youth will get involved in sex because they already feel broken and worthless so they live out their feelings about himself or herself with an inner voice saying, “I’m already a tainted person by the sexual abuse, so I might as well have sex.”  The sexual abuse victim can be sabotaged to believe that the only way they could get attention is to give sex.  As you or a mentor spends times with the youth, this is when (through building a trusting relationship) painful issues from the past can be talked about and brought out in to the open to be dealt with. The DOOR OF HOPE by Jan Frank is a wonderful personal story recovery book on sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, we have church youth that have been sexually active often.  I had one young girl tell me after almost losing her life from the aftermath of an abortion, that she would probably have sex again even though she knew it was sin in God’s sight. She did a few months later and got pregnant again and had this baby for her parents to raise.  I know several young girls raised in the church that had sex with guys in the church and had babies.  There was no church discipline, baby showers were given and the births celebrated which seemed to give the “approval” nod to other young people.  As a church leader you need to work closely with your pastor and be a team in creating a preventive atmosphere for sexual purity.

For a youth who is genuinely repentant for moral failure, one of the biggest problems they may deal with is being able to accept (or take ownership) of God’s unconditional forgiveness.  It seems some cannot accept God’s forgiveness because they feel shame.  They need to be encouraged in understanding that when God forgives a sin, He also forgets the sin.  The forgiven sinner is the one who is unable to forget.  When we are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, we must accept that God fully loves us, fully accepts us and fully forgives.  All He asks us to do is GO AND SIN NO MORE.  We need to teach secondary virginity for the gals and guys.  Once one has repented of sexual sin, they need to dedicate themselves to sexual purity.  Set personal purity boundaries. Read the book Dr. James Dobson recommends by Joshua Harris, I’VE KISSED DATING GOODBYE.

Joshua Harris tells his own story as a teen how God convicts him of one on one dating until he knew he was ready spiritually, financially, and educationally to be married.  When a male and female spend a lot of time alone together, they naturally are drawn to each other physically because that is what God designed to happen, but only in the gift of marriage.  Exclusive dating is a time bomb for sexual activity.

Boundaries need to be set in the heart of every youth.  The big question, HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?  Needs to be answered before dating.  The answer is:  DO WHATEVER YOU WOULD BE COMFORTABLE DOING WITH GOD, PARENTS AND PASTOR WATCHING!  It’s not hard to make right choices when you fully understand according to the scripture that we are the “house” of God, the temple of the Holy Ghost, God in you.  Anything you do with your body you are doing with God who dwells in you!!

Teach your youth they are God’s special treasures.  They are a gift from God that needs to be sexually pure to present to their bride or groom without any shame which includes all the joy, excitement and sexual freedom within the bounds of their future marriage.  Youth leaders, study all the scriptures on sexual purity.  Read the above recommended books plus any others written by Christian authors on sexual purity.  Get yourself equipped to be a positive example and a youth leader full of Godly wisdom so you can say to your youth, “FOLLOW ME AS I FOLLOW CHRIST”!

© Carol Clemans – September 2009

WHAT KIDS WISHED PARENTS REMEMBERED

By:  Carol Clemans, Certified Pastoral Counselor

As I contemplated the above subject title given me to write for this issue, one of the first things that came to my mind is that each kid (child) needs to feel they are a special creation of God.

We would like to believe that all parents have children for the purpose of loving them unconditionally, showing them respect, teaching the children to love God and to live their lives to bring glory to God.    But reality is that parents usually raise their children as they were raised by their parents.  This could be positive or negative.  So I will write the following as a “voice” for kids to their parents outlining what God wants parents to remember about their kids.

Dad and Mom have the highest calling there is on earth and that is to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Each child has a soul that will live forever in eternity.  It is the parents’ influence in that child’s life that will have the greatest impact on their decision to love and serve God.  Each child was made in the image and after the likeness of God.  As parents, the way we treat our children is the way we are treating God!!!!  Our children belong to God.  They come in to this world with a sinful nature and it is up to us to show them by our example how to live and love each other with respect and the highest regard for one another.

Children need our time and attention from birth throughout their entire life in our home.  It seems to be even more important as they get older.  We parents must be there for them to talk and share what is happening in their lives. This starts at birth with our continual participation in all aspects of their growing lives.

Knowing how to build a healthy self worth in a child will be the greatest tool that will guide their lives.  For the sake of avoiding a great controversy about the word “self worth”, let me clarify.  Your child needs to clearly understand that  his self worth comes from the fact that he was  created by God and he is to give God glory for everything that he is and is able to do and become.   Your child’s value is placed in the fact that God created him and that God also died on a cross to save him from his sins.  When  a child understands how much God loves him, then he will understand that he is God’s special treasure.  I Peter 2:9 —”You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession.  This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” NLT   Parents, we need to understand this as our own truth before we are able to share this in our daily lives with our children.

Kids want to be loved, respected and listened to.  Please, Dad and Mom, set aside a special time each day to talk to each child alone.  Ask what good thing happened in their day.  Really listen to what they say and their feelings in their words.  Ask what bad things happened in their day. When they share, encourage the child to express how they feel about the events.     I’ve been a parent for almost 28 years, and I still have to discipline myself to keep my “bossy” mouth shut and allow my adult children to express themselves fully before I start putting my “two cents worth” in to the conversation.  Remember, Dad and Mom, your actions do speak louder than your words.  Your kids will learn more from what you do than from what you say.  Be sure your “saying” and “doing” are in congruence.

Each of us enjoy it when others listen to our thoughts and feelings.  But  listening seems to be one of the hardest  disciplines to learn and put in to practice.  James gives clear instructions that we are to be swift to hear and slow to speak, but we usually want to do the opposite.

Parents, remember your kids are a gift from God.  You must love them unconditionally in the good and bad times.  You must listen to them.  Allow them to share how they feel about daily events, rules and disciplines.  The more you listen to your kids, the more they will cooperate with your Godly leadership.  As they see God at work in you, they will form their opinions and feelings about God.  Remember, parents, your kids want you to love them as God loves you and God is always loving, patient, kind, full of compassion and mercy. Pass this precious gift to your kids.

(c) Carol Clemans – September 2009

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Our ministry exists to help others grow spiritually, emotionally and relationally by teaching, counseling and writing the truth from God’s Word. When we know His truth we can be set free!
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