X Factor Therapy

'that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.'
1 Corinthians 2:5

'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God'
1 corinthians 3:19

Todays post is going to rest heavily on the bible. There's going to be plenty of scriptures, but I'll post them in so you don't have to look them up.

Basically I've been looking into the idea of therapy. Because I do believe most of us could use it - but also that it doesn't necessarily mean forking out loads of money for a shrink. Firstly because secular therapy is flawed. There are some truths in it, but there is no resolution. They can see there is a problem with our hearts/minds, but because we don't allow the concept of sin, we can't ever be cured from it.

'There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death'. Proverbs 16:25
'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.' Proverbs 3:5,6

Both God and the world have very strong ideas about what is wrong with the world and how to fix it. 'Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.' 1 corinthians 1:20-25

There are distinctives between secular and biblical counselling. Too often we assume that biblical counselling is just secular counselling with a few bible verses thrown in, or that it's secular counselling with a christian. But true and right biblical counselling comes directly from the word of God and has some clear differentiation.

Firstly, the source of wisdom. Jeremiah 17:5 -8 says “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD... ..But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.'' So where does the wisdom come from? Is it God or is it man?

Secondly, are we targetting the symptoms or the cause? I said earlier that secular therapy has some limitations.

I want to explain why. Out of our heart come our thoughts, our behaviors and our emotions. 

Thoughts = cognition, behaviors = volition and emotions = affections. 

And then I just want to point out to those of you who may have some background in therapy that there is something out there called “cognitive therapy.” So there’s a right observation, but then there’s a wrong conclusion. 

The right observation is that my thoughts are messed up. And then this is where I’m talking about conforming rather then being transformed. We’ll just change our thinking, and often not even with the truth. We go, “Man, I’m so broken, I can’t overcome this problem. . .”

And then along comes, the whole self-help movement, which says, “No, you can beat this, the answer to your problem is that you just need to tell yourself you’re okay. . .even if you’re not okay.”

I think of it like this. Remember those kids’ hearts who get up on the X Factor auditions. Their whole life, somebody has been telling them a lie that they are a great singer, then when they go stand before the judges, they get the truth.

How many of us are going to buy into the self-esteem movement and go before God and tell Him how great we are? Now, what if what the Scriptures say is actually true, and we’ve got a problem God hates called sin? We’ll look foolish, absolutely foolish.

And then there’s the other end of that continuum, because maybe you don’t think you’re great. Maybe you think you’re a loser. Maybe you think that that there’s no hope for you. Maybe you think that your problems are too big for God, which is just as arrogant. It’s the same arrogance but just on the other end.

Every one of these philosophies, every one of these therapies has a different idea of what the problem is and what the solution is. There’s behavioral therapy says, “Just change your behavior.” The Pharisees were very good at this.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time. They outwardly conformed. They were really good at upholding the Law perfectly. But more than any other group, Jesus rebuked them. Because they had no love for God, no love for Jesus and they were self-righteous. And I think we sometimes get into this idea where if we don’t outwardly sin, we’re okay, and so we make a god out of being able to adhere to the Law and being moral.

So we need a biblical view of the problem and the solution. The problem is sin, which originates in the heart but affects everything, and this is the bad news.

And the solution is not religion, which is our vain attempts to please God through works and being good.  Jesus says, “There are none who are good but God.” Religion only leads to self-righteousness which Jesus consistently rebuked in the Pharisees.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” The good news is we just talked about what the good news is not. It is not religion; it is the gospel, that God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, who in love entered our fractured world by becoming a man. He dwelt among sinners, lived a perfect life and willing laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice in order to absorb the wrath of God (that we deserved) for sinners who would repent and be saved by grace through faith in Him. Death could not hold Him as He was raised on the third day and appeared over a period of forty days. He was resurrected from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sends God the Holy Spirit as a signed hope, help and seal to dwell in the hearts of those He calls, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies.

We look forward with hope filled expectation when Christ will come again in glory. And so the good news is that Christ did what we cannot in overcoming sin, death and darkness. Therefore, rather than trying to have a righteousness of our own, we instead have the opportunity to trust in His redemptive plan. So for those God calls, God jealously pursues His children for His glory and for our good. And in this pursuit, He sums up how He has commanded His people to life with Him with the greatest command.

That is summed up in Mark 12:29-31, “Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."”

So I can represent the first part of this greatest command with a vertical line between God and me. This represents my vertical heart relationship with God. And the second part of that command can be represented with a horizontal line, which is my relationship with you, the rest of the world and the circumstances in which I’m currently involved.

And then I’m going to make an outlandish declaration that from God comes everything that I need for successful living. Philippians 4:19,“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Now I’ve got to define some things. First of all, I’ve got to define a successful life. Because the world defines a successful life much differently than God does. How does the world define a successful life? Well all the things that I pursued for most of my life: money, power, prestige, possessions, position, super model looks and a great body. That’s where success is according to the world.

But God says, “No, for a successful life, look to Jesus.”

Was He well treated? No.
Did He have lots of stuff? No.
Did He drive fast cars? No.
Did He date lots of women? No.

But He was obedient to the will of His Father, even to death. That’s success. And again, this is where psychology comes in and starts to taint.

We start to think that we need things we really don’t need. “I need a new car. . . I need a new phone. . .” The Bible says that if we have food and clothing, we should be content. So everything that I need for successful living comes from God.

Now what I want to do is move beyond the immediate life, and I want to talk about the eternal life. If it’s true that I have this deceitful heart, a problem called sin, one thing that I really need is forgiveness. That’s something I desperately need. And I can’t find that in me. I can’t go, “Self, I forgive you. You are now clean.”

I can’t go to my Husband and say, “Matt, forgive me. Make me clean.” He doesn’t have that power.
I can’t go to the world and say, “World, will you make me clean?”
But God has a plan for that, to make us clean. So I need forgiveness. Something else I need is hope.

Most of the people that I have met who are depressed are depressed for this reason – they are putting their hope in something other than God. I'm not saying that's always the case, but that's my limited experience. What’s happened is, over a long period of time, a person puts their hope in themselves. “Today is the day I’m going to live this way.” And I get about two steps into my day before I fall flat on my face, and if I keep putting my hope in myself, eventually I become very frustrated, hopeless and depressed.

Remember that one of the symptoms of depression is hopelessness. If I put my hope in me, shouldn’t I be depressed? I don’t make a good God. And if that doesn’t work, then I put my hope in other people. They’ve got this same heart condition, so eventually they’ll mess up.

How many of you have been hurt by another person? How many of you have put your hope in a person and they have failed you, betrayed you and hurt you?

People don’t make good Gods. People were created in the image of God, not to be worshiped as God, not to meet your needs. God is sufficient to meet your needs so that you might love and reflect Him.

We often put our hope in our circumstances. Ecclesiastes warns us against this. Solomon says, “All is vanity and a striving after wind.” When you pursue the things of this world in the hopes of fulfillment in this world, you’ll say the same thing. He’s trying to save you the trouble because he has done it, and he has more than we’ll all have together. He’s had more women, more wine, more houses, more riches and more wisdom. But if we put our hope in God, He has already overcome the world, so no matter how bad it gets, we still have hope. We might not like what’s going on, but we still have hope.

We also find grace, faith, love and power from God. And when the Spirit of God takes up residence in a human being, It starts to change him. And the fruit of that right relationship with God comes out of Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Don't get caught up in X Factor therapy. Find God, and enjoy the abundant life He is offering you.

52 Weeks of organising

I have just stumbled across Organizing Junkie for the first time and I'm so excited about her 52 week challenge.

The basic idea is that organisation is addictive, and once you start recognising the benefits of it in your life you too will become and organisation lover! The problem is, the common begin, and the uncommon finish. Too many times we spend a mad week decluttering and organising, but it's unssustainable. We set ourselves huge targets that are so exhausting, when we finish we never want to do anything like that again.

This is where the 52 week challenge comes in. We want to make organising part of our lifestyle.

So with that in mind, we need to set ourselves 52 organisational goals for the year, then achieve them, one by one. It's important that you don't go mad and set huge goals. This has to be something you will realistically do every week.

I'm planning to set my goal for mondays. Monday is a good day because a) I don't have any social activities planned that day for me or the kids and b) it's after sunday, when Matt is home and I have had a good rest and some family time. Hopefully this means I'll be energised enough to do it.

Everyone else on the challenge seems to be updating on fridays, so if you want to play along, it's up to you, fridays or mondays, or choose your own days. :)

We have a slight problem in that we are moving house in July, so obviously there will be changes in my goals around then (I don't know what cupboards there will be etc...) so I think I shall have to just do a 14 week list for now, and I'll create a new list when we get to our new place.

So here is my list so far:

  1. organise and label bulk food cupboard
  2. organise linen cupboard
  3. sort through baby clothes and box for people
  4. sell excess baby/toddler furniture
  5. sort wardrobe and list on big wardrobe
  6. Paperwork on Matt's desk
  7. filling cabinet top drawers organise
  8. Matt desk drawers
  9. clear out living room junk baskets
  10. organise craft material box
  11. Defrost and re-organise freezer
  12. Clear miscellaneous pile from office
  13. Organise sewing/embroidery kit
  14. create system for homeschool supplies
Hopefully that will keep me busy until we move, then I'll be able to create a new list for the next 22 weeks of the year (less that 52 because I'm joining late and I like things to finish a Jan-Dec schedule).

Join me, it will be fun. I promise.
I'm slowly addicting you to organising...

Dressing Modestly

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But which becometh women professing godliness with good works.

- I Timothy 2:9-10

As you read this, please remember that good works and a gentle, quiet spirit are more important than this minor issue of modest clothing.

Over the years, I have often been more than a little confused about what constitutes modest clothing. It appeared that most Christian women's manner of dress imitated the world, being just a few years behind the times.

Compared to the world, we are modest. Underneath this, though, aren't we still allowing the world to direct our ideas of modesty?

Another problem I had was with I Peter 3:3-4. 'Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.' (KJV)

Why does Peter say not to wear apparel? We're surely not supposed to go naked, are we?

The only logical interpretation could be that Peter meant not to be extravagant: no extravagant braids (plaiting), no extravagant jewelry (gold), and no extravagant clothing. Why didn't Peter say what he meant?

I have recently discovered he did.

'Apparel' in I Timothy 2:9 is 'katastola' (kat-as-tol-ay) in Greek. The stola was the basic dress of Roman women in the first century. It was a true dress, cut from fabric, shaped and sewn as we do today. Sleeves would be snug or loose, and short or long. In order to imitate the Greek chiton (which was a length of fabric draped and pinned at the shoulders), Roman women wore jeweled pins at the shoulder. Stolas of the upper classes were made of silk and decorated with silver or gold thread and embellished with pearls and jewels. Gold braid embellished the neckline and the hems were decorated with fringe or bands of a contrasting color. The dress was floor-length, but women changed its length by blousing the bodice section over belting. If the belt showed, it would be made of rich braids studded with pearls and jewels.

Returning to I Timothy — The prefix 'kata' means 'down from'. A katastola would be a stola 'let down', that is, not shortened by girdling or belting.

'Apparel' in I Peter 3:3 is 'himation' (him-at’-ee-on) in Greek. The Greek himation was a sophisticated outer wrap consisting of a single rectangle of fabric wrapped in various ways around the body. Men commonly wore it alone, but women would wear it over the stola or chiton. It was not worn for warmth, but as a status symbol. (The outer wrap used as a coat was a palla or a type of cape.)

Paul, in I Timothy, is instructing us (among other things) on dress length. Peter is teaching us not to wear clothes as a status symbol or fashion statement. I find this study fascinating!

I haven't yet decided what this means as far as my wardrobe is concerned (I don't wear toga's!) but it appears to be saying basically, 'don't be flash' and 'don't be showing too much flesh'.

How much is too much? As in all things, follow the Lord's leading in this, not necessarily my example. Pray, ask God for His guidance, but don't fashion yourself after the world. Be intentional about being beautiful in the modest way that the Lord wants you to be.

Are you a Home MAKER?

I am so completely inspired by Ana White. For those who never heard of her, she is a stay at home mom who ran the website 'knock off wood' for a long time, but has now had enough sponsorship to re launch under her new site.

This woman is seriously so inspiring and makes carpenty look so easy, I can't wait to get my hands on some scrap wood and have a go at building some furniture as soon as I get my strength back and a garden to work in.
I recently thought about it a bit more and decided some of these would be perfect introductory projects for Design & Technology/wood work for older homeschooled children.
If you want to take a look, just click on the picture and you can sort through all her plans and designs for free, and save them to a 'to-do list' (if you register) so that you can easily find what you want again later.
Have fun.

Who's been fighting your battles?

(KJV) 1 Samuel 8:20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

'Fools!' I want to shout at the Israelites, 'God has been fighting your battles so far, why do you want some human king to do it for you?'

We've been studying the monarchy in our bible study this month, and this verse struck me as particularly idiotic. I love judging the Israelites. They see incredible miracles of God and then they turn and worship a gold cow. How can they be so dumb?

How can I be so dumb?

How often do I try to take the lead and be my own 'king' instead of allowing God to fight my battles for me? How successful am I when I do?

See it's all very easy to judge the Israelites when we see the snapshot portions of their lives and it all seems so black and White. What would our lives read like if they were condensed down to the spiritual highlights/lowlights? If our lives were edited down to the spiritual lessons that could be learnt from them for future generations would we be proud of them? Or have we enjoyed a short lived faith after God shows His might and then dwindled along until his next intervention?

I want to step back and let God take the lead, let Him fight my battles. I don't have the energy to fight them myself. In the words of Kelanie Gloecker:

Let it be to me according to Your word

Your ways are higher than mine

I'll let go

Your kingdom come

In my life

Your will be done

The Dreaded Fatigue

As some of you may already know, I've been having a bit of a relapse of ME recently, which has been steadily getting worse over the last month. Interestingly, if this had happened a year ago I think I would have worked myself into a terrified frenzy, panicing that I wouldn't be able to look after my family, would I be like this forever? etc...

But this time, I feel prepared.

In several ways I have had things falling into place, preparing me for this time, so that it's not nearly as difficult as it could have been. Because God wasn't surprised when I relapsed, He's known this was going to happen all my life, and before, so He's been quietly preparing me. The first happened a while back, nearly 8 months ago. We were buying a fridge from a couple in church. It was nearly new, but they insisted £50 was the maximum they would take for it. Not only that, but they gave us their freezer (again nearly new) despite the fact that we already had one. I tried to say we didn't need it, but they were so keen for us to take it that we did.

A good thing too, because we had a small chest freezer, this is a full size upright freezer with drawers. Sounds like a small thing? Not to me. See right now, if we still had that chest freezer a) I wouldn't have been able to lift the lid and hold it whilst I got food out and b) I wouldn't have been able to get to most of the food, because I can't dig around when my muscles are this fatigued. As it is I have a tall freezer, with a door that even Will can open, and drawers that make everything accessible to me.

Hotpoint RZS150G Upright Freezer - Graphite Upright Freezer

Around two months ago, I suddenly had the urge to get more organised in the kitchen. I spent a few weeks building up our freezer with home cooked meals, casseroles, curries, soups and risottos, which can be defrosted and microwaved or baked for instant homecooked meals, without any energy for chopping, slicing and stirring required. In fact, we have built up so much in there that I don't think I've cooked a meal from scratch in weeks, we still have plenty left and my family aren't being subjected to pizza and takeaway every night when exhaustion hits.

We decided to go ahead with Elisha's dedication, as we never know how long a relapse will last, and we were completely blessed by friends and family, who not only brought ridiculous amounts of food, but helped with cleaning and tidying afterwards, and left at a reasonable hour so that we could have an hour of quality time with the kids and be in bed shortly after them at 7pm!

So I woke up this morning, with Matt having changed all the bed linens, the house clean and tidy, and laundry running. What a blessed girl I am! God has surrounded me with such wonderful people!

But finally, and maybe most importantly, for the last couple of years I have been following the Village church in Texas via podcast. I've been realy challenged by sound biblical teaching, and hearing about the life of one man in particular - Matt Chandler. Matt is the lead pastor at the village, who was diagnosed with a really bad kind of brain cancer that I can't even pronounce, let alone spell, last year. Hearing how he and his family are trusting God, and believing that he knows what is best for them has been an amazing example to me. He preaches regularly on the idea that we can rejoice in our suffering, knowing that it is refining our character and making us more Christ like. God can heal anything, but whether He does or not is up to Him. Instead of being eaten up with angst over whether or not I will be healed, I can rest in the knowledge that I will glorfify God with me healing, or with how I conduct myself during my suffering. Whatever happens, I am part of God's plan for displaying His glory on this earth! Incredible!

I may not blog as much over the next few weeks, mainly because it's getting harder to type, but I will be thinking and praying, and updating when I can.

Love you all



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