Dr. Scott Lownsdale, Ed.D.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
5589 Guilford Road  -  Rockford, IL 61107  -  815.229.8750  - 

Pillar 5: Obstacle-Removing

Jesus said "I am the Vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me . . . bears much fruit" (John 15:5). In our sessions, the vital Vine-Branch relationship between you and Jesus will be our central focus. The Holy Spirit, called the river of life (John 7:37-39; see also Revelation 22:1) flows through the heart of the one who is abiding in Jesus. Abiding in Christ brings about the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which includes love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22). Interestingly, these first-fruits of experiencing God's presence -- love, joy, and peace -- are emotions. Even more interestingly (to me, anyway), love, joy, and peace are the three emotional experiences that are directly opposite to the three emotional experiences that cause people to see counselors and mental health professionals: hate/anger, depression, and fear/anxiety. As a Christian counselor, I will view your prolonged and intense anger, depression, and anxiety (when not caused by a medical problem) as symptoms of your not experiencing God's presence by deeply and meaningfully abiding in Christ in the vital Vine-Branch relationship. 

 

As a Christian counselor, I take very seriously the words "Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people" (Isaiah 57:14). My job can be compared to that of a plumber.  I submit myself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit in identifying and removing the obstacles that plug up the pipeline between God and His people that keep them  from enjoying the abundant life of God's presence through Christ.

 

What Are These Obstacles?

There are typically four obstacles that God's people experience that prevent them from enjoying His presence, and keep them from being fruitful:

  1. Anger and resentment towards people who have hurt us (that is, the effects of others' sins on us).

  2. Guilt and shame (the effects of our own sin)

  3. Unexpressed emotions (or close-heartedness) often related to our psychological defenses and unhealed wounds frozen in our past.

  4. Lies we believe about God, ourselves, other people. Our lack of love, joy, and peace is directly associated with lies we believe, either that the Liar (that's right, Satan) puts into our paths, or lies that we arrive at independent of God's light and counsel, which we develop on our own by leaning on our own understanding instead of trusting God (see Proverbs 3:5,6). Jesus said "The truth shall set you free" (John 8:31). Many well-meaning Christians today think that this passage means to give people the right information about God to store in their minds. Although our theology is important, Jesus did not say "know the truth abstractly." Jesus said in the verse before that, in John 8:30, and in John 15:4, that you must know Truth, that is you must know Jesus, truth personified, personally, relationally and experientially, not in the abstract sense. Indeed, correct head knowledge about will not bring truth to the heart, or else the Pharisees would have known truth. God has designed us in such a way so that the heart must experience God's truth order to be free from the lies it believes. To experience God's truth, we must acknowledge the lies that we believe in our hearts, which the Holy Spirit exposes. Often these lies developed during adverse or traumatic experiences in the past, and this is why I often employ Theophostic Prayer Ministry in helping hurting people.

So Why Do I Need A Counselor to Get Free of these Obstacles?

First of all, in many cases you can indeed get free of these obstacles on your own, without the help of a counselor, by following the biblical disciplines that accompany abiding in Christ, such as learning to have time alone with God, being still before Him, meditating on scripture, praising God, giving thanks, and examining your heart in order to get flushed free of guilt and resentment through confession and forgiveness. I personally find that reading and praying the psalms is something we all need to help us be free of these obstacles.

 

However, many people are simply in too much pain to be aware of these obstacles, let alone to work through them by themselves, and need a healing relationship, often with a person grounded in the Bible and having some wisdom in understanding the human heart and relationships. Moreover, since these obstacles are often outside of our own conscious awareness, in what the Bible calls the hidden, secret heart (see Psalm 51:6), we all have blind spots that prevent us from seeing ourselves accurately. It may take someone with experience and training to help bring to light things that need your attention. Indeed, due to the Fall described in Genesis 3, each of us have become inwardly divided: our minds and hearts are in disunity (Psalm 86:11). Hence, people experiencing severe emotional distress need the Holy Spirit to search their hearts (Psalm 129:23) -- often with the help of a trained Christian counselor -- in order to expose and expel the obstacles to experiencing God's presence deeply and meaningfully.