Figured I'd throw this up here...

I did this paper for a class. It was on how I would council someone. Essentially, I simply walk through the way that God broke addiction from my life. I figured if it worked for me it can work for others. Actually, this is similar to a lot of what Teen Challenge and other ministries that see people set free do. I've also seen it change others lives. So here you go, it really could be a paper on how God changed my life. It is a bit long, though... be prepared! God bless you!

In today’s world of counseling, there are a myriad of methods of how counseling should occur. Different men, like Freud and Adler are famous for their methods of counseling. In determining one’s own style for counseling, it would be easy to look at a myriad of theories that exist and mix and match the best of each. However, I would argue that is the wrong starting point. Ultimately, my desire is to lead the client to freedom from the bondage. My goal is to not merely teach coping strategies, but to bring them into such a relationship with the Lord that the bondage is broken, the wounds have been healed, and the person is walking in relationship with the Lord. Consequently, there is a shift from the beginning in the foundation that I use. Rather, than use the foundations that other secular counselors have used, my foundation will be the Bible and the route the Lord used to set me free. While aspects of this method may be found in secular theories of counseling, this merely shows that the secular schools were able to come to some truth from the Bible, apart from knowing the Bible. I deeply value this process as I know it works! It changed my life and I have seen it change others. Healing only comes from Him so therefore anything but a Christ-centered approach simply will not work. My goal for each person I council is for them to find freedom in Christ. This occurs through numerous ways including: recognizing the sin issue, abiding in Christ, quitting trying, acquiring a heavenly perspective, learning to take thoughts captive and walk in the Spirit, deal with the underlying roots, and learning tools of discipleship.

When a person finally gets serious about an issue in their life that needs to get resolved, they need to be at the point where they are willing to do what it takes to get out of the bondage. Otherwise, they probably will give up very easily and likely will not see freedom in Christ occur. The first step in the healing process, though, is to recognize there is an issue in one’s life that needs to be solved. The client is no longer living in denial of the problem or justifying and rationalizing that it really is not a big deal. They know that an issue is bondage (although counseling can occur in areas that are not the client’s bondage, I typically have done most of my counseling in these situations) and want it out of their life.

Once the client is ready to change, the immediate thing that needs to change is how they approach God. John 15 shows the importance of abiding in Christ. Ultimately, if one wants to have positive fruit in their life, they need to be abiding in Christ. I think the Christian walk is quite parasitic: anything good with pure motives behind it that comes from one’s life, only comes from the Lord doing it through that person. When I say abiding, I do not mean simply reading a chapter of the Word a day, praying over meals, and going to church. This is closer to ritual than abiding. Abiding involves time and living encountering the Lord through being saturated in His Word and presence. It is not that just reading the Bible or praying more will fix a person. However, if one is not abiding, I should not expect to think that they will see much of any kind of healing occur.
My next step is one that typically takes people off guard. It is to quit trying. As one starts to seek the Lord, they can often have this idea that they need to try really hard to fix the situation for the Lord. The reality is that trying harder, while possibly working in some areas of life, often leaves one tired, not free. This occurs for multiple reasons. First, the Christian life is one of receiving. One does not try hard to do good to live the Christian life. Rather, they receive in overflow from a healthy relationship with God and healthy others who help connect them to the Lord. As a result, they go from trying to produce fruit on their own to having the Holy Spirit overflow it out of them. Second, God often times will not let one fully fix a situation on their own. He wants relationship with us so badly that He is willing to wait until the person is ready to truly come in desperation to Him for healing for His sake, not their own. Thirdly, quitting is essential so that we give up control. Instead of us trying to make things happen in our own strength, we can simply steward the things in our life and trust Him for the results. It is essential to have a deeply abiding relationship with the Lord in order for trust to occur as trust generally only comes with much time in relationship. Stewardship with trust changes everything. So many of mankind’s problems come from trying to make things occur on our own. If one wants something and are not stewarding and trusting but instead trying to make it happen on their own, they can easily resort to controlling, manipulating, people-pleasing, and so forth to try to get what they want to occur – all of which are sinful. Consequently, stewarding and submitting what God has given us while trusting Him to meet our needs is essential. This may be why a common attack of the enemy is doubt. Doubt of the Lord’s existence, that He loves them, and so forth causes one to not be able to fully receive from the Lord causing them to try to do in their flesh what was meant to be done in the Spirit. Once one’s eyes are off of the Lord and stay on the overwhelming circumstances is when life becomes much more difficult, just as it was with Peter when he was walking on water.

As one starts to spend much time with anyone, it is easy to start to see things from their perspective. The same is true with our relationship with God. As one starts to spend much time in relationship with God out of love, not duty, one starts to see things from His perspective. This often first involves oneself. This can be very good and/or very bad. As a result, of spending that time, they can start to truly experience God’s love and see themselves the way that God sees them – which is essential. However, they also start to see sin the way that God sees it. As a result, the sins that had been excused before, no longer can be if the relationship with God is going to continue in growth. Consequently, the deeply rooted sins like certain fears and aspects of pride, which the person may not even be aware of, come to the light and can no longer be excused in the presence of holiness. As a result, life no longer becomes about just one issue that the person may have came in for counseling about, but rather every form of sin. It is here that one truly realizes just how dependant they are on the Holy Spirit to be empowered to live the Christian life, since it is impossible on their own. As one starts to have a heavenly perspective the way that they view others completely changes as well. Others become regarded with tremendous value as they are seen with the value that the Lord gives them.

As one starts to have a heavenly perspective, they start to try to figure things out through the Lord’s reasoning, not through man’s. This involves forsaking human strategies, walking in truth, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. They no longer try to figure out their own strategies, which typically do not work, to solve problems. Strategies like having more determination, figuring that the issues must not be that big of a deal in God’s eyes since He has not zapped it away, and so forth become changed. Instead they start to realize that the answer is to take thoughts captive and live filled with the Spirit. These seem to be the two essential things for freedom according to the Bible. John 8:31-32 and 2 Cor. 3:17 seem to reiterate this. The answer is not to have an iron clad will but rather to take captive the lies of the enemy. Lies like, “nobody will know,” “it is not that big of a deal,” “everybody does it,” “just doing it a little would not hurt anyone,” and so forth, depending on the issue need to be taken captive with truth. Generally, before the person is walking in the bondage, they already believed numerous lies of the enemy. If one wants to walk in freedom they need to cling on to the truth. Not just intellectually know it. As they cling to the truth, is when their feelings gradually start to shift to what the truth is. The Holy Spirit is also essential in the empowerment to live free. Galatians 5:16 emphasizes that it is only through life in the Spirit that one can avoid carrying out the sins of one’s flesh. Consequently, one needs to be walking filled with the Holy Spirit so that they can be empowered to walk with the Lord. As one walks more and more filled with the Holy Spirit they are more and more empowered to live out what they know to be true.

Once one has healthy relationships with God, others, are walking filled and in truth, is when it becomes easier to start to deal with the underlying roots (not in the Freudian sense) in one’s life that are contributing to producing the negative fruit in a person’s life. Often, these can be things like guilt, shame, unforgiveness, rebellion, condemnation, blame, control, manipulation, having a victim mentality, and so forth. While any one of these topics could easily have its own major paper, it is important than one become aware of what underlying things are causing the issues in their life. They can become aware of how it comes into their life, to learn to take those thoughts captive, and to walk in the opposite Godly emotion by the grace of God. For example, if one has a root of manipulating others, as a result of receiving the Father’s love, they can in turn share His love with others with no strings attached: only because they love God, and as a result of having time with Him, they just want to treat others in the way that He would want. This is not to say that one can ever think that these things will never come back into one's life or is above ever falling into them again. However, one can be experience freedom from being burdened by them and simply deal with them as they reappear to maintain the healing the Lord that God has already performed.

One also needs to learn discipleship tools that help them to walk with the Lord. There are many things that apply here that include: relating with the Lord, powerfully encountering the Lord regularly, intercession, relating to God about hurts, setting healthy boundaries, having healthy relationships, spiritual warfare, and so forth. Relating with the Lord is essential. Since this is a personal relationship that one has with the Lord, one can feel free to communicate with the Lord. In fact, God is waiting eagerly for us. It is essential to change one’s personal communication with God to honest relating about life rather than saying something flowery or in King James English. Powerfully encountering the Lord regularly is also essential. Whether this occurs through watching a movie like The Passion of the Christ, being in prayer meetings where the Spirit is moving, listening to powerful worship music, or a myriad of other activities, one needs to put themselves in places where they will frequently encounter God in a powerful way. While this has been considered by some to be merely seeking an experience, the reality is that often it is only through fresh encounters that one’s passion for the Lord stays hot. This is essential to not walk in complacency; for, if one lives there, it seems highly unlikely change will occur. One also needs to learn how to intercede and seek the face of the Lord. I am convinced that intercession is one of the main avenues that the Lord uses to bring us into His presence, bring greater love in our life for the person we are interceding for, cleanse us, and remain strong in times of temptation. Intercession, I believe is essential both in a personal setting and in a community of fervent, faith-filled believers. As one prays with, over, and receives prayer from others, it cannot help but build them up internally in their walk with the Lord.

Another key aspect of growing in the Lord is to go before Him to be healed of the past hurts. A necessity for breaking many addictions is to not go to the addictive item to medicate (for example: food, pornography, sex, gambling, masterbation, alcohol, shopping, and so forth) but to go to the Lord to be healed from the pain. It is essential that one starts to break the habit of inserting another into the Lord’s place for healing. For different people receiving healing from the Lord can look differently. Some find that talking out loud to God in prayer while going on a walk brings about healing. Others find that journaling what is going on to the Lord brings the release of pain. There are also people who find meeting with a friend and discussing and praying about the issue helps facilitate healing. Ultimately, though, one needs to find healing from hurts. This is not to say there will not always be deeper levels of healing that can occur. However, one can receive inner healing and then continue to receive more and more as the Lord reveals more and more layers that need to be healed. Thankfully, the Lord does not show us everything that needs to be dealt with at once! Setting healthy boundaries is another key aspect for life in Christ. This goes along with finding freedom from pain. One needs to set healthy boundaries to keep from being hurt as they were in the past. It is not to say that healthy boundaries will eradicate all pain. However, one can certainly minimize some pain by setting healthy boundaries. I believe another essential key for growth is understanding spiritual warfare. One needs to be able to discern when something is an attack of the enemy or is simply of their flesh. I find too many people who seem to overemphasize spiritual warfare or virtually omit it from their theology. I think a healthy perspective allows one to see that it is legitimate, walk through deliverance, receive freedom from torment, bondage, and so forth, and allows one to learn to maintain freedom from demonic influence, hearing voices, addictions, and all other ways of attack. While there are more essentials to having a firm foundation in the Lord, I will close with emphasizing the importance of healthy relationships. One was never meant to walk the Christian walk on their own. Christians need other healthy Christians. By having deep relationships with other healthy Christians that will help them walk with the Lord, it dramatically impacts them. Christians were never meant to walk alone. They need each other to encourage, exhort, illuminate blind spots, and much, much more.

Freedom in Christ for each person I council can occur through numerous ways including: recognizing the sin issue, abiding in Christ, quitting trying, acquiring a heavenly perspective, learning to take thoughts captive and walk in the Spirit, deal with the underlying roots, and learning tools of discipleship. Ultimately, though, I am very dependent on the Lord for wisdom and insight as to what will help a person who is struggling. Thankfully, the Lord frequently guides and leads with insight and love to help the one struggling break free. This is not to say that they can live a life of perfection. However, they can be free from bondage and addiction.