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
Anger and resentment towards people who have
hurt us (that is, the effects of others' sins on us).
Guilt and shame (the effects of our own sin)
Unexpressed emotions (or close-heartedness)
often related to our psychological defenses and unhealed wounds frozen in
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