Good Shepherd
Initiative

FREE Since 1983

Sid Galloway BS, M.Div. (Biograhical Information)
Just an OLD sheepdog
of our Good Shepherd Creator Christ

Ask the animals,
and they will teach you,
.. Which of all these
does not know
that the LORD's hand
has done this?
In His hand is the
soul (nephesh)
of every creature and the breath of all mankind"
Job 12:7-9

Worldview
of your
Good Shepherd
Creator: Christ
Human Trafficking & Slavery
Don't Just Happen
(Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23)

Would a "good" God design
"survival of the fittest"
as His WAY?
(Isaiah 65:25)

Rights - Any discussion about human rights (slavery, oppression) or animal rights (cruelty, abuse) must first address our Creator's rights. He has the right to command how we treat both His people and His animals.

Scotty the Good Shepherd
Service Sheepdog


3 Videos Animal Friends * *
Otis ----- Zoe ---- River


Suzy service-dog genius
(more below)

Responsibilities - Jesus said the root cause of suffering in this world is a distorted view of and/or the rejection of the true WAY of our Creator. (John 8:1-59)

sidotter


"Squirt" the Otter


Releasing rehabbed critters


Atchafalaya Swamp

Mistakes - Man's self-serving, misguided, mischaracterizations of God have historically led to personal and cultural conflict, corruption, and collapse.

Hope - Discovering the WHO?, the WHY?, and the "WAY"? of origins is the foundation for true transformation.

Mike's "service-frog"


Therapy Zorse & Zeedonk

Change - Truly lasting change for individuals and cultures must begin at the cornerstone - the Creator of creation.


Darwin's Self-image
by Mike Galloway


Formal"Boatie" - Lizaboa

"Then I looked again
at all the acts of oppression
which were being done
under the sun.
And behold I saw
the tears
of the oppressed
and that they had
no one to comfort them;
and on the side of their
oppressors was power,
but they had
no one to comfort them."
Ecclesiastes 4:1


Wild Rory - paralyzed by gun shot yet grateful
for loving care

raccoon_river_sidarms


L'l River raccoon


"Flower"


Candy-cane corn snake


Opossum Brothers:
Tom & Jerry


Brother Tom


Animal-Assisted GSI



Scotty my service dog
assistant :-)


Scotty doing his job well


God's living teddy-bears


Missing the old days


My Proverbs 31 wife
meeting my old girlfriend, elephant "Jean"


Old friends Jean & Panya meet my daughter


Jean meets her keeper's son



Mandy Clouded Leopard who saved me from suicide


My morning greeters
Akela & Rakshi
Back in the den they'd beg me to rub their heads
to start the day.


Shiva -my PTSD leopard
raised by humans, terrified of other leopards


Bratar:the cowardly lion


Rani: Bratar's sister :-(

Banu - my favorite comedian who loved to prank people


Candra, Banu's mom


Banu teasing Candra


Byomi asking for a treat


Ali the bitter black panther who learned love


Zoe: disabled squirrel
born with no tail / only 3 feet
- even more lovable


Scotty meets his first gator


Marriage in Christ


Suzy protecting her rescued puppy


Molly the semi-blind Opossum Lady


Little Blue
- transferred to Fed. rehab


Big Red
- gunshot wound


Baby Huey acting tough


Scotty's piggy


Rescuing Stubby
(see his Facebook page)


Audubon Zoo memories


Lizaboa Animal Assistant


David & elephant Panya


Mr. Galloway
Old Sheepdog


Charlie
Russian Legless Lizard


Hawk - Barron
powerful talons


Otis - hit by car


Little River as a baby


Little River
working on the lock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

GSI - Good Shepherd Initiative - Homepage

HIS PERSONAL
COUNSEL

(See also: Forgiveness, Autism, Disability Purposes, Disability Resources, Bullying,Family Counseling)


SEMINAR FOR MEN & TEEN SON'S

REAL-MAN IDENTITY:

Reflecting the Son's Character
for Our Father's Honor

POWER POINT as PDF
from the Men's Seminar

AUDIO MP3
- Session 1
- Session 2
- Session 3

 

NEW ARTICLE: FORGIVENESS: The Heart of Healing for Hurt Relationships


This page is a composite of a number of short articles written for counselees in the past. So, the content does not flow or transition as smoothly as it should. Hopefully if time allows, I'll rework it into a more cohesive unit :-)

Painful Pursuit of Pleasure
That Enslaves, but never Satisfies

Solomon in his wisdom wrote:
"Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart any pleasure, . . .
Then I looked . . . on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

Why is Solomon's statement above so true?

I'll never forget a picture of freezing, "Snow Monkeys", Japanese Macaques, who were desperately trying to warm up in one of the hot spring pools of water that dot their frozen habitat.  Many people are like these monkeys, sitting around, miserably waiting, and hoping for something to relieve the pain and difficulties of this fallen, broken world.

Other people live hyper lives that often look like a rat in a running wheel, racing after some illusive pleasure.  Watching the little rodents in those wheels always reminds me of the song "Can't Get No Satisfaction".   From toddlers fighting over a toy, to an addict begging for a fix, a married couple arguing over who controls the money, nations bombing one another over a piece of land, it's obvious. Selfish desires are what controls the affairs of men. Our whole "global village" seems lost in a search for joy and fulfillment, but the world is looking in all the wrong places.  In blind, almost obsessive pursuit, it can't find it's way home - to real peace.  The only way home is the Gospel (good news), the way of submissive faith under the authority of our Creator God the Father, exemplified in the life and saving death of His Son, Jesus our Messiah.  (

When one of our son's was seven and on his way to his sixth heart surgery, he began to really understand this truth.
As we drove along the highway, all of a sudden he said:

"Dad, I think I've learned what's most important in life.
It's not toys or being busy with fun activities.
It's relationships with the people you love - especially God."

 See down below: "God's Simple A.B.C.'s for J.O.Y."
Attitude - Behavior - Countenance (rooted in the attitude of JOY, Jesus 1st, Others 2nd, Yourself 3rd

The Bible says:
". . . My people shall be satisfied with My goodness says the LORD." Jeremiah 31:14

"Now this is eternal [abundant] life, that they may know [intimately] Thee,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent"
John 17:3

Decision Making & Counting the Cost
(Remember Esau & the pot of stew! Gen 25)

Man's Way (Flesh)

God's Way (Spirit)

Short-Term Promises

If you follow your feelings and not God's Word, then you'll quickly escape pain, get pleasure, and change the circumstances around you. (Gen 3)

Short-Term Promises

If you follow in faith God's facts, deny yourself, and take up your cross for His glory, then you will be transformed.  
(Luke 9:23-26; 1 Cor 10:13)

Long-Term Consequences

Guilt, separation from God, fear, confusion, depression, and addiction to idols since the world's goodies never satisfy.  They only enslave.
(John 8; Rom 6).

Long-Term Consequences

Intimacy with God, blessing, forgiveness, peace, joy, self-control, freedom . . . .
. . . the fruit of God's Spirit.
(Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:22-25).

Jesus warned that our real heart attitude, beneath our actions and affect, is revealed when the painful pressures of life squeeze us.  In Mat 15:19, Jesus said that out of the heart flow all of the issues of life (thoughts, words, actions). Think about it.  When you squeeze a toothpaste tube, it's not peanut butter that comes out.  The squeezing just revealed what was inside.

If a person is drawing from the Lord in humble, submissive faith then the fruit of God's Holy Spirit comes pouring forth. But if its the fruit of the flesh (Gal 5) that comes to the surface, it simply proves that the heart was pursuing something less than God.  For some people it might be drugs, for others it could be food, sex, money, toys, power, esteem, attention, or even another person.  But, anything that is less than God, no matter how superficially and temporarily pleasurable, is an idol that can never satisfy. In fact, it eventually becomes boring. So the person trying to use it for fulfillment has to use more of it, and ultimately go after something stronger or more perversely destructive in order to get the same rush of fleeting pleasure that was previously experienced. Even if someone through will-power puts off an addictive behavior, without putting on (Eph 4:21-24) the attitudes and behaviors that come from the will submitted to Christ, then an empty vacuum is left that pulls them back into the old pattern. The problem is not the thing the person uses, but the heart motive that seeks to love and please self above God and neighbor (Mat 22:36-40; Romans 12:1-3; Rev 12:11). A person might not like who he is, but everyone loves himself from the moment he is born.  One trip to an "all you can eat restaurant" proves this universal truth (Eph 5:29).

"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. . . . . You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
. . . . Therefore submit to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
James 4:1-8

Satisfaction comes only when the "river of living water", God's Holy Spirit, is flowing - through a born-again heart - then out to others in love who are thirsty for satisfaction (John 7:37-39). Far too often, Christians function like stagnant pools, forgetting that it's better to give than to receive (John 3:16). 

We need to counsel (disciple) one another so that our attitudes and actions become more and more in sync with the Lord's self-sacrificial will. Real joy comes only when we pray for our Father to burden our hearts with people, families, and ministries that we can bless in tangible ways. Only by turning our focus away from self, onto the desires of Jesus and the genuine needs of others can anyone find fulfillment. This is what it means to be filled full and overflowing with His Holy Spirit.

[Jesus said] "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life [Greek = psyche, for psychological happiness] will lose it. But whoever loses it for My sake will find it." Luke 9:23-26
"You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free . . . . whoever commits sin is a slave of sin . . . . if the Son shall makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:31-34

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" [Not addiction to things less than God]. Galatians 5:22-24

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have spoken to you, who believe in the name of the Son of God,
that you may know
[for sure] that you have [right now] eternal life . . . ." 1 John 5:11-13

Overcoming the
Painful Pursuit of Pleasure:
with God's  A.B.C.'s
for TrueJ.O.Y.

John 15:1-17
Originally © 1997 Sid Galloway
I don't know who thought up the acrostic J.O.Y.,
but it's a great little tool that's been around for a long time!
 
God's Way Home - The Way of the Son 
Humble Hypotasso Faith - The Way of The Cross

Simple Enough For a Child -
Profound Enough For any Ph.D.
 

    John 15:5, 11-14 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. . . . . These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you."
    Matthew 18:1-4 "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.'"

    ATTITUDE --> BEHAVIOR  --> COUNTENANCE .
    (Emotions
    are generated & reinforced by the ABC's you choose.)
    Submitting in faith to the Lord & marching/stoicheo under His authority results in the fruit of His Holy Spirit:
    Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control (Galatians 5:22-25).  

All of These Compose Our Character

     Character consist of ingrained patterns (habits) of attitudes, behaviors, & countenance (Ephesians 4:20-24). Yet, only God's grace can produce the mature character of Jesus in us (Romans 8:28-29), as His Spirit rules as Lord over our thoughts, words, and actions (Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:22-25).  He does this through regeneration (spiritual rebirth - John 3), progressive sanctification (spiritual growth - Gal 5:25), then finally at the resurrection, glorification (a new body without sin - 1 Jo 3:2).

     Our responsibility is to simply trust & obey His Lordship, by grace alone through faith alone. Faith is not a feeling, but an act of submission.  The difference between demonic faith (Jam 2:19) and true saving, sanctifying faith is submission to Jesus, not just believing facts about God. The choice of faith is nothing mystical. It is simply a heart attitude that determines, "Who will be LORD: self or Jesus Christ?". Growth as a Christian simply involves learning to walk (march - stoicheo) so that the duration and frequency of a submissive character under His Lordship increases. In any moment that a believer is submitted to the Lord, the full fruit of Christ's character will flow through him like a river of living water (John 7:37-39). But when the heart attitude changes to self-will, the dam slams shut and the fruit of the flesh rises to the surface like old swamp scum. As a born rebel, these truths were hard to swallow. From my terrible twos to my hard-hearted teens, I insisted on doing it my way.

     Please, think carefully about the following example. Suppose a Christian man stops a drug habit, yet at the same time he intends to continue an immoral life. Is this limited change in his life really from the fruit of the Spirit? No, because the Spirit's "fruit" is a singular, inseparable package. The Holy Spirit is a person, God Himself (Rom 5-8), not a program from which we can produce parts or pieces. So how and why did the drug habit stop? This question is always answered by examining the root, the intent, the motive, the attitude of the heart (Mat 15; Heb 4:12).   Stopping the drug habit and not the immorality might have motivated merely by a desire to avoid embarrassment, or reduce the cost in money or other consequences.  But very likely it was not the fruit of faithful, loving submission to the Lord - for His glory.

     Once a person is born spiritually from above, his new relationship with God the Father is sure and secure for all eternity. But the daily intimacy of his fellowship and joy with God is dependent upon his ABC's (Philip 2:12-13; 1 John 1).

ATTITUDE (of Heart)  
We are commanded by God to choose humble submission (hypotasso) of our will to God's will (faith- Jam 2:19), for His glory above all. We are to trust what His Word says about Himself, Satan, our selves, others, trials, blessings, etc.. This is the Way of the Son (Joh 14:6; Luk 22:42).  Jesus said that only God is good. We cannot live His perfect goodness (Rom 5:5-8). Only Jesus can live His abundant life in you, through the Holy Spirit (John 15:1-13; Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:16-6:3). The Way of the Son is to love God more than yourself, and to love your neighbor as you naturally care about and often please yourself.  (See the article Christ-Esteem vs. Self-Esteem).  Only then can anyone experience true J.O.Y.. When our heart attitude has the right priorities, only then can true J.O.Y be consistently experienced.   

 J -esus first:
Choose to please and honor Him above all (Mat 6:33-34; 22:36-40).  
O-thers second:
Choose to bless others, meeting their needs not wants (Eph 5:29-32).  
Y-ourself last:
Choose to sacrifice the desire to please self first (Luk 9:23-26). 

    Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the first and great commandment. "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."   
    James 2:18-19 "...I will show you my faith by my works.   You believe . . . even the demons believe, and tremble."
    Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."   
    Luke 22: 42 (Jesus said) "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." 

BEHAVIOR - (Thought, Word, Deed)  
The moment by moment, ongoing choice to submit your will to God's will, is called WALKING ("Stoicheo" = marching) in the Spirit, or obeying His Word as you respond to people & circumstances. This simply means that when you are tempted, you freeze and look to the Master, humbly allowing the Lord to rule over your thoughts, words, and actions. This is how Jesus can live through you and bear fruit.

    Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."   
    Galatians 4:19 "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you...."   
    Galatians 5:16 "I say then: 'Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."   
    Galatians 5:24-25 "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." 

COUNTENANCE = (Face, tone, body language ....)  

Countenance is also a choice to submit your will to God's will, letting the Holy Spirit reflect Himself, i.e., His fruit, through your face, tone, etc. Spirit filled & overflowing! 
(See the separate article for more about why "Countenance Counts")

    Genesis 4:6-7 "So the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry?  And why has your countenance fallen (become depressed)?'" 
    Galatians 5:22-23 "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."   
    2 Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."   
    Romans 8:28-29 "For we know that God causes all things to work for good, to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose. . . to be conformed to the image of His Son. . . ."   
    Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character; hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." 

Examples: "Eating Disorders"

     The good news is that the Lord's Spirit and His profoundly simply Word are sufficient for all counseling problems of the non-organic soul (psyche). Man's theories say that anorexia and bulimia are unique, modern problems requiring an esoteric, therapeutic formula to overcome. But  remember the fruit of God's Holy Spirit listed in Galatians is God's sufficient solution: God's Way is the Person of Jesus, not a program (Gal 5:22-24, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control").  

     Any soul (psyche) problem is merely a package of basic biblical, relationship issues (pleasure, fear, guilt, anger, trust, confusion, pride, etc.). Destructive eating patterns, like other bad habits, are symptoms of desires that are out of priority.  

     These desires for pleasure are not wrong in and of themselves. But the Bible clearly tells us that we must choose to put our desires in the right order of priorities J.O.Y.. Otherwise we end up on a never ending road in the (Pro 14:12). You "can't get no satisfaction", unless you are filled full with the Lord (Jer 31:14; Eph 3:14-21).

     Remember, that Gen. 3, Mat 4, Gal 5, James 1:13-15, and 1 John 2 tell us that there are three categories of self-pleasing desires which tempt us at the root of "fleshly" fruit (symptoms). These root motives/attitudes are the:  

1. Desire (epithumia) of the flesh (desire for physical pleasures like food, drugs, sex, etc.).  
2. Desire of the eyes (desire for toys to play with like clothes, TVs, boats, etc.).  
3. Pride of life (desire for the pleasure of ego strokes received for beauty, intelligence, or achievement, etc.).
  

     Anorexia often occurs when a person becomes enslaved to the pleasure of being esteemed by others as beautiful (which she defines as thin). When this prideful desire for esteem is placed above the commitment to please God and bless others, then enslavement escalates, just as Romans 6-8 describes.  Nothing brings true satisfaction other than submitting to God and letting His Spirit love others through you like a "river of living water" (John 7:37-39). 

     Bulimia often results when a person becomes enslaved to two conflicting desires. One is the desire for the pleasure of eating favorite foods. The other is the desire to be esteemed by others as beautiful (thin). And, the only way a woman can indulge in both pleasures is to "binge" and then "purge" (vomit) so she doesn't get fat. As with anorexia, this pattern of enslavement develops when the choice to please self is greater than the desire to please God and bless others (Romans 6 & 12:1-3).  Also, an underlying pattern of bitterness often (but not always) accompanies sinful patterns of attitude and behavior. The bitter pattern looks at life and ungratefully complains: "This is not fair, I deserve better than this".

     Some folks who struggle with these patterns are simply ignorant of how to overcome them. Others know exactly what the real problem is, yet in rebellion they refuse to submit their desires to the Lordship of Christ's authority. Instead of following Jesus as Lord and Master, the Way of the Son in self-sacrifice for other's needs and God's glory, they have chosen the "way that seems right . . . but ends in death" (Proverbs 14:12).  What we all need is the profoundly simply counsel of God's Word for abundant joy (John 15:1-13; Eph 5:17-18), patiently ministered one to another.  

    1 Thessalonians 5: 14
    "Now we exhort you brethren, warn those who are unruly,
    comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all."
    Galatians 6:1-3
    "Brothers, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

G.A.P. - Guided Application Project ©
Bridging the GAP from ignorance to knowledge
to submissive action for God's Glory:

1. Temptations: What pleasures are you tempted to use above God for satisfaction?
2. Attitude Check: Set a schedule to get alone with God 3x's daily for self-confrontation.
3. Behavior/Countenance: List patterns you need to change so when people look at your life, they see that God is your real source of satisfaction.
4. Accountability: Prayerfully choose a fellow believer who will regularly check on you to encourage and exhort as you put off the old habit and put on the new (Eph 4:22-24).


Solving People Problems

soli deo gloria
2 Timothy 3:14-17

Practical Soulcare to © L.E.A.D. One Another 
into the Character of Christ Jesus

(L.E.A.D. = Loving, Equipping, Accountability, Discipline)
(Family Discipleship Counseling)

2 Timothy 3:14-17
"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures [objective Word - "logos", not subjective feelings or philosophical guesses], which are able to make you wise for salvation ["sozo" = mature wholeness, not just justification] through faith [submissive trust, not just intellectual assent or emotional experience] which is in Christ Jesus.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be mature, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

People           

Purpose         

Problem        

Plan               

Practice            

Socialization

Teaching

Conviction

Correction

Training

manthano

didaskalia

elegchos

epanorthosis

paideia   

What did God do before Sigmund Freud and all the other anti-Christian philosophers of modern counseling? 

Did God have to wait for them to help His people overcome "people-problems" like: depression, anxiety, anger, bitterness, arguing, marriage conflict, parent/child struggles, addiction, etc?

Of course not!  Remember the fruit of the Holy Spirit -
Galatians 5:22-25

 Galatians 5:22-25
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, 
joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 
Against such there is no law. 
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

Our sovereign God is good, and His sufficient counseling plan has always been profound enough for any Ph.D., yet simple enough for a little child. God’s plan is not some sort of spiritual mysticism, nor is it behavioristic legalism through a religious program of ritualistic steps. God’s practical plan for us is a relationship with Himself, through Jesus Christ ruling as LORD over our motives, thoughts, words, actions, and feelings.

Just like any other practical problem solving process, fixing "people-problems" simply involves practicing a plan that will overcome the real causes of the problem, in order to achieve the original purpose. In the case of "people-problems", the prime purpose of counseling is God’s glory (soli deo gloria). God’s goal for Christian counseling is to transform people and relationships into His mature character, so that when others see it they will be drawn to become a part of His family.  The cornerstone of mature Christian character is an accurate, balanced self-perception that avoids two insidious extremes:
1. Self-deprecation without the hope of Christ in you, the fullness of the Spirit and His fruit.
2. Self-esteem that eclipses the esteem of Christ as the only one worthy.


Five Parts to the Process:


1. People (Socialization)   (manthano)

- God’s counsel focuses on your social relationships with God & others.  All biblical counseling problems involve people in relationships with one another (God, you, angels, demons, parents, siblings, spouse, children, church members, coworkers, enemies ...).  These relationships are orchestrated by God's grace, as a primary part of the "Providential Pressures" He uses to conform His children into the mature character of His Son Jesus.

(Gen 1-2; Gal 1:1-5; 5:13-15; Mat 22:36-40; Luke 9:23-26; Rom 8:28-30; James 1:2-8)
Who is involved in this particular people-problem?
In this problem, who is Jesus to you? Legend? Liar? Lunatic? LORD [Boss / Authority]?
In God’s heavenly family (Father/Son/Spirit), how are authority & love balanced?
Why is God’s Word (the Bible) sufficient for relationship problems?
What are your ranks, roles, and responsibilities in this relationship problem?


2. Purpose (Teaching)   (didaskalia)

- God’s counsel teaches you how to glorify God & bless others during trials.  Jesus said the primary goal is to glorify God the Father, by producing the fruit of close, intimate relationships with Him and one another. (Mat 22:36-40; John 13:34-35; Gal 5:22-25) The counseling goal is to L.E.A.D. others to restoration and maturity in Christ’s character.

(Gen 1:26; 2:24-25; Gal 1:5; Eph 1:6; 3:10)
How does God’s purpose compare to your personal purpose in this problem?
When people look at how you speak and act are they drawn to follow God?
What part of the Spirit’s fruit (Jesus’ maturity) is missing from you in this problem?


3. Problem (Convicting)   (elegchos)

- It convicts us that our core problem is a lack of His love ruling through us.   Ever since the rebellion of Lucifer, Adam, and Eve, relationships between God and people have been broken. To solve these problems God’s Way, you must understand the differences between fruit symptoms, temptations, and root causes. The root cause of relationship problems is always either ignorance or rebellion or both. For ignorance, you need the L. & E. of L.E.A.D. (Loving & Equipping). For rebellion, you need the A. & D. (Accountability & Discipline).

(Gen 3:1-13; Mat 15:19; Gal 1:6-7; 5:16; James 4; 1 John 2:15-16)
What are your symptoms in this people-problem? (feelings, behaviors, attitudes)
What circumstances and people tempt you in this specific struggle?
Which of the three branches in 1 John 2:16 produces most of your feelings and actions?
What root attitude causes the lack of God’s sacrificial love in all of us?
How does ignorance of practical relationship skills also affect this people-problem?

Possibly the most important principle about the problem is the need to discern between symptoms, temptations, and causes.  Most people confuse these three and then they waste their time merely trying to change circumstances or treat symptoms, but never really fix the root causes. 

Three Dimensions of All Relationship Problems
Gal 5:16-25; James 1:13-15

1. Symptoms (fruit)
Either the fruit of Holy Spirit or the flesh
Joy or Depression, Peace or Anxiety, etc....
2. Temptations (influences)
Your spouse, kids, PMS, etc....
(Rom 8:28-29; Luk 9:23-26)
3. Causes (roots)
(Holy Spirit or Flesh - H.Self)
(Body, toys, esteem- 1 John 2:16)
( The Painful Pursuit of Pleasure) James 4:1-9

For example, a husband might say:
"My wife, makes me miserable!" or "You won't make me blow up this time."
But his statements are not really accurate, biblically.  His wife might be very hurtful, but she can't stop the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace ...) from growing in his life.  How he responds in attitude and action is his responsibility. 
Note how the husband's "problem" of not reflecting the fruit of the Spirit looks when dissected biblically:

Symptoms:      
Feeling miserable, bitter, depressed . . . . 

Temptations:   
Wife constantly criticizes, nags, and complains.

Causes:            
His attitude: "This is not fair, I deserve a better wife". 

*  It's the heart attitude in response to temptations that produces symptoms of either the fruit of the flesh or fruit of the Spirit. 
(Please see the separate article on God's A.B.C.’s of J.O.Y.)
(Mat 15:19; John 15:1-13)  I wish I could give credit to whomever came up with the acronym, J.O.Y., because it so accurately and concisely conveys the a godly attitude.
* J.O.Y = right heart attitude, to love Jesus 1st, Others 2nd, Yourself 3rd
* 1 John 2:15-17 = Three branches of a root of self-love.          
(Desire for physical pleasure, fun things, esteem from others.)
(See the article: "The Painful Pursuit of Pleasure")


4. Plan (Correcting)  (epanorthosis)

- God’s plan to correct the problem is a person, Jesus, not a program of rules.  
The Greek term used here means to pick up a fallen person and point him in the right direction.
God, in Scripture, has given us profoundly practical strategies for overcoming causes and temptations of life problems, so that we can glorify Him by reflecting relationships of intimate oneness. 
God's provision in Christ includes Christ's Cross, Spirit, Word, & Church Family.
The first step is always real faith, which means repentance & submission (James 2:19), not just intellectual acceptance of facts or emotional reaction to experiences.  The demons believe all "about" Jesus, but they won't submit (believe "in" Him) as personal Lord.
The Good News is that God will accomplish His plan, in spite of us (Philip 1:6).

(Gen 3:14-19; John 15; Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:22-25)
Why is submissive faith to Jesus the key to overcoming the root problems for God’s glory?
Use the A.B.C.’s of J.O.Y. sheet to plan how you will respond next time.

© L.E.A.D. to Restoration & Maturity in Christ
(Mat 18:15-20; 28:18-20)

- Loving (Mat 22:36-40; Joh 13:34-35; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Co 12-14; Gal 5:14; 1 Jo 3-4)
- E
quipping (Rom 1:12; Col 2:2; 1 Th 3:1-2; 5:14; 2 Ti 3:15-17) Teach, Convict, Correct, Train
- A
ccountability (2 Tim 2:1-4; Titus 2:3-5)
Man to man, Woman to Woman

- D
iscipline (Mat 18:15-20; 1 Co 5:9-13)
One to One, Two or More, Church, Public


5. Practice (Training)  (paideia)

- God’s counsel trains us to consistently walk under His Spirit’s authority.  In Gal 5:25, the term "walk" is stoicheo, which means to "march" under submission to an authority.  It’s not enough to just learn a plan, you must faithfully practice it until you get really good at it, especially until it becomes a solid habit pattern in your life. (Eph 4:20-24) Then people can see and enjoy God’s glory through you! (Romans 8:28-29; Gal 5:16-25; Philip 2-4; Jam 1-4)

(Gen 3:20-24; Gal 5:16-6:5)
Make a daily "Log List" from Matthew 7:1-5 to make sure you see things clearly.
Make a weekly "Put Off / Put On" chart to evaluate your ongoing need to change. (Eph 4:17-24)
Draw up a schedule Chart to Maintain priorities.
Use Church Accountability and Discipline as needed.

*  The process is simple, not complicated.  However, it's not easy.  It's hard because you must trust God,  God is the only one who knows what's in other people's hearts, and He's the only one who has the knowledge and power to change them.  To do your part in God's process of solving relationship problems, you must submit to His will, and respond to the people and circumstances around you as His Word counsels.

*  Ignorance is not only a lack of knowing the truth, but can also include lots of untrue and ineffective teachings that you received growing up, even from well-meaning yet biblically uninformed sources.  Being ignorant of God's counsel is not deliberate sin, but it's still contrary to His truth (His Way), and it results in destruction (Prov 14:12).

The Heart of the Problem:

One of our six children, Michael, was born with severe heart defects, which required many difficult, risky, and painful heart surgeries. By the time Michael was seven years old, he was really struggling with fear, resentment, and depression. Often he would say things like, "I just wish I could die". Even though my wife, Linda, and I regularly shared God’s principles of abundant life with him, his emotional symptoms got worse with every new surgery.

Then one day when he was seven, Michael called me into the boy’s bedroom, and I could see that his whole countenance was different. His face looked joyful, peaceful, and he said, "Dad, I need to do something that I’ve never done. I’ve always been my own boss, and now I want to surrender to Jesus". The joy on his face revealed that deep down in his heart, God had already drawn him to make that decision of submissive faith. Mike just wanted me to confirm it for him. From that moment, he began to grow more and more in the character of Christ, the mature fruit of the Holy Spirit.

A few months later, he came to me with a puzzled look on his face. Then he asked one of the most difficult, yet important questions everyone should ask. "Dad, why did God choose me to have all of these heart surgeries"? At first, I started to give him a complicated theological answer. But I stopped and said, "Mike, you know the Lord and His Word, so what do you think is the answer". Michael thought for a moment and replied, "Well, Dad, I guess it’s so I’ll know how much I need Him". That answer was better than I’ve heard from most adults in the past 20 years of counseling. So I asked Mike if he could think of any other reasons. "Yes sir", he shared "I guess it’s so that when we go to hospitals, we can tell more people about Jesus".

God allowed Michael’s broken, physical heart and all of his pain and suffering to transform his spiritual heart. His sinful pride and stubbornness were broken until he cried out to God for salvation through submissive faith. In the same way, he has continued to grow into a humble, submissive vessel through which God’s love can reach out to others.  He's still a sinner like all of us, and often wrestles with the temptation to resentment and fear, knowing he has more heart surgeries coming.  But, at least now he knows what to do.  Ignorance is no longer His problem.

When Michael was on his way to his sixth heart surgery, he began to really understand what life's all about. As
we drove along the highway, all of a sudden he said:

"Dad, I think I've learned what's most important in life.
It's not toys, things, and being busy with fun activities.
It's relationships with the people you love - especially God."

This is the heart and core of God’s sufficient plan for overcoming "people-problems". On this foundation, any person or family can learn and apply the Bible’s practical principles for forgiveness, communication, decision making, marriage, child training, etc.. Yet without this foundation, any counseling efforts would be, as Jesus said in Matthew 7, like building your home on shifting, unstable sand. And when the storms and stresses of life come against a home or life built on shifting sand, it falls apart.

Discerning & Decision Making According to God's Will

(Eph 5:17)

(see also Seminar Samples: "Logikos Thinking" & "Deceptions"

Faith vs. Presumption, and the common claim - “God told me . . .”.

James 4:13-16  
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow let's go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit." 
Whereas you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life?
For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. 
For you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that." 
But now you glory in your boasting. All such boasting is evil."

The following quote from George Mueller,
a man whose life is known as a classic model of godly faith as well as a sacrificial father to thousands of orphans:

"Impressions have neither one thing nor the other to do with faith. Faith has to do with the Word of God. It is not impressions, strong or weak, which will make the difference. We have to do with the Written Word and not ourselves or our impressions."

    Recently I’ve had a number of students, friends, and family tell me that God spoke to them through impressions, visions, feelings, and coincidental circumstances.  I won’t share any of these individuals' “impressions” since they are personal to them, but I believe you would be surprised at the content of many.  What they don’t realize is that many of their revelations contradict not only each other, but Scripture as well.  Unaware of this, they remain convinced that they now know God’s direction for their life, through these subjective, conflicting experiences.  I too once believed and made decisions in similar ways.  However, I am now convinced, by Scripture, that there is a better way. 

    Over the past 25 years of counseling families, churches, and even many well known pastors, both locally and nationally, it’s become clear that there may be a need to voice a further caution about current claims of personal, direct, extra-biblical revelation.  Many of these same people, in private counseling, have admitted that they have never been certain about when or if their impressions were really from God.  This uncertainty existed in their hearts, even though they and many of their friends regularly used phrases like, “God told me”, “The Lord spoke to me”, or “I feel like God is leading me to BLANK”. 

    Far too often today, Christians are embracing and teaching unbiblical, mystical, and subjective methods for discerning God's will and making important decisions.  Many of these methods are more akin to Eastern religions and new age philosophy than God's counsel in Scripture.  Not only does a mystical method of trying to discern God's will lead to uncertainty, but even when sincerely used, such phrases make it hard for friends and accountability partners to challenge a questionable impression.  Please think about it.  When a person says that his or her decision came directly from God, such a claim in effect tells others that they cannot question its legitimacy, practicality, or biblical harmony. 

Often, our own impressions lead to lives of hyperactive ministry and workaholism, where quantity swallows up quality of life and intimacy of relationships.  This is the way of our culture, not the way of God.  Yet modern churches have absorbed the cultural ways as uncritically as one person yawning spreads until the whole room is full of contagious yawners.  Doesn't’t God tell us in Scripture to emphasize time to know Him and one another?  Doesn't’t it tell us to meditate on His Word and His World (real “critical thinking”)?  Over the past two decades, I’ve counseled far too many pastors, church staff members, and Christian ministry workers who have followed impressions until their frantically busy lives and families became fragmented and frustrated, rather than close and contented.

    Please carefully examine Scripture to answer the following question.  Surely the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of selfish sin, judgment, and righteousness, but:
Does He give extra-biblical revelation? 

    Prior to the completion of God’s written Word (Greek term, the Graphae), the Lord spoke miraculously to specific individuals in history, and these events are recorded for us in Scripture.  Adam, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles all received God’s Word in a direct, personal, and special manner.  All of these were instrumental in delivering the Scripture, the Bible, that is, God’s Word to us.   In the days of Israel before Christ came, God gave His people certain methods that no modern church believes we are to use today, such as casting lots, or using the Urim and Thumim.  Those methods were given by God for a specific time and a specific purpose.  Similarly, God gave new, direct revelation about His Word and His Will, through His Holy Spirit and His angels, during the time when written Scripture was being delivered by God to His people (Moses, David with the Psalms, Solomon with Proverbs, the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament authors)

    Different sections of Scripture are given for different purposes.  Some are historical recording the past, some are prophetic foretelling the future, and others are didactic instruction for current life.

    For example, the Gospels are the historical record of Jesus’ ministry, while Acts is the historical record of the Apostles’ ministry, and the Revelation is mostly a prediction of the last of the last days.  The Epistles, however, are the specific and particular guide book for the church, the Body of believers, that is, you and me today.  This begs an important question.  Do the Epistles teach us to feel for impressions or look for mystically coincidental circumstances to discern God’s will and Word for our decisions and directions?  Please think carefully and biblically about this modern mystical method of discerning God’s will and His Word for making decisions.  Remember the Reformation.  It centered on correcting the great errors and abuses that resulted from years of following extra-biblical revelation in the institutionalized traditions of the Roman Church/State.  Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) was the heart cry of the reformers, who were tortured and killed for their strong stand on objective, written Scripture alone as God’s only Word to us. 

    The Epistles (letters) to us believers in the Church (built on the foundation stones of the Apostles), give us a much more sure and peaceful way to discern, objectively, God’s will, Word, and direction for our lives (1 Peter 1:1-21).  One reason some folks shy away from the biblical method given in the Epistles is because it requires time, effort, study - that is, homework.  When I've described these biblical principles for "biblical" discernment to some folks in counseling, many have responded with reactions like, "But that would take too much time studying Scripture".  Yes, and the Epistles do command us to study Scriptural principles for marriage, financial management, parenting, leadership, witnessing, etc, and then to apply them to our current circumstances.  This takes a lot of time and work that our fast-food, subjective, and experiential culture is not conditioned to do.    

  The biblical way is not easy, but it is more sure and more worthy of your trust and practice.  Instead of wondering whether some inner impression is intuition or indigestion, our loving Father has written a sufficient Scripture filled with profoundly practical principles that are applicable to any situation.  We don’t have to search like a scavenger hunt for one and only one specific direction from God.  When seeking a life direction or trying to make a major decision, we often find many possible options.  Which one is the best?  Is there one best decision?  God’s principles often allow for many different godly, biblical choices for jobs, potential spouses, ministries, etc that do not violate any biblical mandates.  Our loving Father promises to be with us as we pursue the burdens and desires of our hearts, so long as they do not violate his written, objective Word.  This is good news.  It brings peace and an exciting, joyful, adventure in service for Him and others.   

    Now, in the church age, the New Testament is clear about what method believers are to use to discern God's will and make decisions.  Now that God's written, objective Word is complete ("The Bible"), believers are to prayerfully depend upon His written Scripture for this process.  God's profoundly simple, church-age process can be understood, remembered, and applied using four simple terms: 

Prayer - Principles - Providence - Practice.  

    Please remember, dependence upon God's Holy Spirit is equally as important as dependence upon God's Word, yet the role of the Holy Spirit in the church age is different than it was when He led men to write Scripture.  Now, the Holy Spirit's role is to convict us of righteousness and sin (right and wrong), but He does not give us new, direct, detailed, and specific revelation to add to Scripture.  He reminds us of biblical principles we have learned (if we took the time and effort to obey God and learn them).  He also convicts us through our conscience, producing the awareness that certain desires are selfish, dishonoring to God, and destructive to others.

    Please keep these foundational, cornerstone truths in mind as you read further, and especially as you seek to discern and decide for Jesus glory, others' benefit, and for your own J.O.Y. (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last).

1. Prayer - James 1:2-8
True prayer is simply submitting, humbly to God, asking Him to rule over you and guide you (Matt 6:9-12). Yet, according to Scripture, prayer is not the method for us to hear Him speak to us. The biblical way to hear from God, now that Scripture is complete, is to study His objective, written Word. I understand that it is hard work to learn God’s principles from His Word. Sadly that is why so many preachers, today, mistakenly tell people to listen for God’s voice through subjective feelings and coincidences, instead of searching and applying His objective Word. James 1:2-8 clearly teaches that in difficult situations ("Providential Pressures"), we should already know the answer to the "Why?" question. God's purpose for the trials is to use them to make us more broken, yielded to His Spirit's rule, and therefore more Christ-like. If, after settling our hearts in that foundational truth, we need more knowledge about "How" to respond to the trials for His glory and the blessing of others, then we should ask for wisdom to discern His practical principles for wise application.

2. Principles - Psalm 119:105
To discern, learn and apply God's practical principles, we must search His Word diligently and systematically, to discover what He says about the subjects that relate to the decision we are trying to make. We must see if any clear commands are given that say “do” or “don’t” make a particular decision. As you study God’s Word on a subject, you will often discover that there are many allowable (biblical) choices you can make regarding a particular situation. Then you simply need to examine the evidence to discern which of the allowable decisions are “best” (wisest). The best, are the decisions that will first of all glorify God, second meet the biblical needs of others, and last of all produce the fruit of the Spirit in you. (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.) Often wise counsel from experts (Bible experts, legal experts, financial experts, medical professionals, etc.) can help you understand which of the allowable choices would be best for a particular situation.

Questions to Ask Yourself, About God's Principles:

Is my decision based on careful thinking about God's Word, or merely human reasoning, or a strong feeling, or some other person's opinion? 
(Eph 4:17; Col 2:8; 2 Ti 2:15-4:10)

C.A.B. (Commanded?  Allowable?  Best?)

a.  Is it Commanded?  (If Scripture commands you to do it, then do it well.  If an authority commands you to do it, and it doesn't violate Scripture to obey that authority, then obey with respect.  If you question the command of that authority, then appeal to the authority, and if necessary above that authority.)  (Psa 119:9-12; Pro 30:5-6; 1 Cor 4:6; Acts 17:11)

b.  Is it Allowable? (If there's no clear biblical prohibition against it, then it's allowable.)

c.  Is it Best?  (Is it the best way in those circumstances to glorify God and benefit others?)

1) Does it help me grow in God's image?  (Rom 8:28-29; 1 Co 12:31-14:1)
2)  Does it tend to enslave me?  (1 Co 6:12; John 8:31 ff; Rom 6:16)
3).  Does it hinder anyone else's growth?  (1 Co 8:13; 11; Mat 7:12; Joh 13:34-35; Philip 2:4)
4)  Would it glorify or dishonor Christ if others knew about it?  (1 Cor 10:31)
5)  Is it motivated by a desire for Christ-esteem or is it for self-esteem?  (i.e., is your main concern that people will like you)? 
(Philip 2:3; Gal 6:3; Eph 5:29; Rom 12:3; Luk 9:23-26; 1 Co 13:5)
6)  Is it the best stewardship application of God's financial principles in Scripture? (Proverbs; Gospels,
7) Does it help me to maintain the biblical priorities for personal relationship with God, spouse, children, church, etc? (Eph 5)

3. Providence - Proverbs 16:9; Psa 41:13; Romans 8:28-29
Knowing that God is in control, good, and wise will give you peace, if you truly trust Him and submissively desire His will rather than your own. The hard thing for all of us is that most of the time we are double-minded and so we doubt. But peace will grow stronger, the more we trust God’s sovereign orchestration of events. If He allows circumstances that make a certain choice impossible, then you can be sure that such a choice is out for you. For example, if a person wondered if it was OK, allowable, for her to marry a particular Christian man, and then that man died or married another woman, then she can be certain that God’s providence removed that choice for her. But remember, circumstances that make a particular choice unpleasant do not necessarily mean that God is saying no to that choice. An unpleasant choice might still be a possible one, and even the best choice, if God’s principles show it to be the right choice.

4. Practice - Philippians 4:4-13
The more we walk with the Lord (Isaiah 41:13), trusting Him and eagerly saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done”, then the more we will learn how to best apply His Word to the circumstances He allows in our lives. Romans 5, James 1, and Luke 9:23-26 make it clear that God’s Way Home is the Way of the Cross (His and ours). His cross paid the penalty for our rebellion. Our cross, that we are now to take up daily, is our cross of circumstances. We often must deny our own desires in order to do what God's Word says we and those around us really need. For example, when you have to say “No” to your children and sufficiently punish them for bad behavior, you are embracing the cross of parenthood. Some parents selfishly and rebelliously refuse to sacrificially embrace the time, effort, and conflict that is required to truly train up their children to be strong, honest, trustworthy young adults.

Count the Cost
(Remember Esau & the pot of stew! Gen 25)

    One final set of principles must always be considered, that is the short and long term effects of your decisions, and the potential deceptions.  Man's way promises quick relief from trials and struggle.

 

Man's Way (Flesh)

God's Way (Spirit)

Short-Term Promises

Man's way promises:  If you follow your feelings above God's Word, then you'll escape pain, get pleasure, and quickly change the circumstances around you. (Gen 3)  Beware of placing relief above God's Will.  Remember Jesus' prayer:  "Father, . . . not my will, but Thy will be done". God's Way promises:  If you follow God's facts, deny your desires and feelings if they contradict God's Word, and take up your cross for His glory, then you will change and grow.  Sometimes circumstances change quickly, like when you choose to have surgery to relieve pain, but that is not promised by God.  God promises that you will begin to grow in His character (unselfish love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).
(Luke 9:23-26; Rom 12:1-3; 1 Cor 10:13; Gal 5:22-25)

Long-Term Consequences

Down the road, you will reap what you sow.  And if you have refused to follow God's will in His Word, then guilt, separation from God, fear, confusion, depression, and addiction to idols will be the result.  Remember, since the world's pleasures never satisfy, they will enslave (John 8; Rom 6; 1 John 2).
(See the article:  "The Painful Pursuit of Pleasure")
Scripture says that when you continue to follow God's Way, your intimacy with God will continue to increase, as will your blessings, forgiveness, peace, joy, self-control, freedom . . . .
The fruit of God's Spirit (Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:22-25).

Finally, if you're still very unsure of your decision, then seek the guidance of an abundance of counselors (mature elders who know Scripture well, and who reflect Christ's image).  (Prov 11:14; Heb 13:7; 1 Pet 5:5)

**  If you're a wife, the best place to start for advice is your husband, before your pastor (1 Cor 14:33).  Pray and trust God to use your husband, even if he hasn't been studying Scripture or following God.  As you walk with your husband through trials, he won't see you as his enemy, even if his decisions don't work out well.  Why not?  Because you will have been his cheerleader, not his nagging coach.  By the way, if you nag him into doing what you think is best, and your way turns out to fail, then he will be tempted to blame you.  If his way fails, then he won't have you to blame, and will only have God to argue with.  Let God convict him, while you love him and show him you're his supportive helpmeet.  That doesn't mean you always agree with him, merely that you are committed to walk with him, under the delegated authority God gave him as a husband.  My wife, Linda, was such a good cheerleader when we first got married, that it encouraged me to trust God, study Scripture, and lead our home.

**  Your family should seek discipleship counseling from their own church, whenever possible, because your pastors and members know you and your needs best.  Going to another church or worse to a paid professional (hireling) is not God's design.  Trust God to use the structure and strategy He has commanded us to build and use, that is the local church.  If your church is not equipped to help you, then ask them to see many of the training materials and organizations we offer and recommend on our website (http://www.soulcare.org).

Recommended Further Reading:

-  Decisions, Decisions, by Dave Swavely (2003).  Dave's book is an excellent resource for everyone, especially in a day when wise, biblical discernment has been replaced by subjective feelings.  This book is both biblical and practical, and it is simple to understand and apply.  

-  Led by the Spirit, by Jim Elliff (2002).  This little book is an excellent tool for objectively rather than subjectively discerning the will of God as you make decisions in your everyday life. Christian Communicators Worldwide, 816-453-6903]

Found:  God's Will, by John MacArthur.  John's gift for concisely conveying our Father's profoundly simply counsel has produces one of the easiest books on decision making to read, understand, and apply.

Decision Making and the Will of God: 12 Session Study Guide Included (Classic Critical Concern)
by Gary Friesen,