spiritual development Articles

Christ as the Foundation for Spiritual Development

Have you felt a desire to grow and develop spiritually? If so, it is God who placed the desire within you. Have you felt unsatisfied with a faith that lacks the depth and transformational power you long for? God is drawing you closer.

Have you felt helpless and confused in the face of painful situations? God is calling you deeper into harmony with His will for your life. This is not a divine guilt-trip or a sign of heavenly disapproval. As always, God’s motivation for this calling in your life is pure, perfect, relentless love.

As the hymnist George Matheson wrote in 1882,

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”

Why do so many Christians live with spiritual stagnation and defeat? Perhaps many considered the moment of their justification before God (by grace, through faith in Christ) as the pinnacle of their spiritual journey. However, this allows no active role in the life of the Christian for the Holy Spirit, who Jesus said “the Father will send in my name” to “teach you all things” and “remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is also the One who can produce the “fruit” of divine love...

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What is Forgiveness, Really?

What does it mean to actually forgive someone who has wronged us in some way? It seems like such a simple concept that we are taught even at a young age. When someone says ‘I’m sorry,’ we say ‘I forgive you.’ And as Christians we are often taught to grant forgiveness even if that ‘I’m sorry’ never comes. But what is forgiveness beyond the spoken words?

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is releasing the ‘right’ you may feel to be angry and resentful, laying down all claims to retribution. It is relinquishing any guilt, punishment, or debt that someone may owe you.

Forgiveness seeks pardon, not punishment of the other person. Forgiveness carries the price of surrendering revenge, but the reward is worth it. God began by forgiving us, and He invites us to forgive others.

There are many misconceptions about what it means to forgive, as well as what it means about ourselves as the forgiver. These messages can come from social media, Hollywood, or even our own friends and family.

Ultimately as Christians, we can find clarity in the Scriptures to sort out “What is forgiveness, really?”

Common Myths About Forgiveness

The following are a few myths that the world tends to portray about forgiving.

Myth: Forgiveness is letting ...

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Christian Couples Counseling: Tips For Growing in Your Faith Together

There is a reason marriage traditionally takes place in a sacred place, in front of God, family and friends, and is celebrated in the community. The process of two flawed, amazingly complicated human beings joining together is incredibly complex, and married couples need encouragement and support to resist the forces that would tear them apart, both internal and external.

No one reaches adulthood without suffering some sort of emotional harm. We bring whatever damage we have suffered into a marriage, often without much awareness about how much it influences our thinking and actions. This lack of awareness makes the inevitable changes that come in relationships very difficult. Faith in God can help us endure difficult transitions with hope for the future, more so when our spouse shares that faith. Growing together successfully, however, will require kindness, curiosity and mutuality.

Among the defenses that arise from early emotional damage is a need for control. For some, this need for control spills over into religious beliefs and spiritual practice. If I have a strong internal need for control, the language of faith can become a twisted tool in my hand, used to bludgeon other viewpoints into submission. A good practice is to do a little self-check when confronted by an op...

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Spiritual Development: Definition and Purpose

Spiritual Development Core Definition

Many a theologian has offered a definition of spiritual development over the course of two millennia. Spiritual development can mean many things to many people in the secular and pluralistic environment we inhabit in our terrestrial world. Spiritual development, in essence, is to believe in something beyond the material universe and to develop an awareness of realities beyond the confines of time and space.

What does spiritual development mean for the Christ follower? Acts 17:28 answers the question well: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Our essence, belonging, search for meaning, and purpose originate from the Lord as transformed through the person of Jesus Christ and God’s infallible and unchanging Word.

The purpose of spiritual development is summed up well in Romans 12:2 that exhorts us with these powerful words: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God’s truth and purpose transform the soul, spirit, mind, and strength in all of our activities. Everything we have, including our knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities, are to be st...

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Anxiety Attack Symptoms and Treatment: A Christian Counselor’s Perspective

If you have had a panic attack, you already know how upsetting it can be. The symptoms are very distressing. They include, but are not limited to, chest pains, a racing or pounding heart, feeling faint, weak, or dizzy, having difficulty taking a deep breath or rapid breathing, feeling sweaty or having chills, and a sense of impending doom or terror. Some victims of panic attacks say that they feel as if they are having a heart attack. When experiencing these kinds of symptoms, a trip to the emergency room is a wise precaution, just to make sure that something more serious is not happening.

Your Body’s Defense Mechanism

Signs of stress can be our body’s way of telling us to slow down. Our bodies are amazing in complexity, astonishingly resilient at times, and surprisingly fragile at others. Its fragility means that the body is equipped with a remarkable defense mechanism – the sympathetic nervous system – that kicks on in moments of crisis. In the jungle, an animal has a split second to decide whether to flee or defend itself, which you may have heard referred to as “fight or flight.”   At that moment, the entire body prepares to go into action. Imagine walking into a room and spotting a long snake in the shadows. Your pulse pounds, stress hormones floo...

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How Shame Inhibits Personal Growth and Development: From Hide-and-Seek to Hide-and-Blame

Part 2 in a series on the neuroscience of surprise and the weight of wonder. This series explores how raising children up is really the work of growing adults down: grounding and embodying the Self in relationship, integrating the brain and coming out of hiding.

My 4-year-old is hardwired for surprise. This might not be apparent in her favorite game: hide-and-seek.

Because when Taliah was younger, especially, these games ended almost before they began. Often the seeker, eyes closed and counting, was startled by a knee-high tackle from a toddler screaming with delight. Surprise! Taliah had come tearing out of her hiding place if she’d even made it that far.

Her stamina for the game has increased – along with her neural pathways.

Recently our family was hiking Multnomah Falls outside of Portland, Oregon. The cascading, 630-foot Falls are summited through 13 switchbacks along a steeply routed 1.2-mile trail.

The slow ache of Taliah’s tired little legs soon gathered into a neocortical chorus in her mind. That well-rehearsed refrain we’ve all heard as parents:

“Daaad, are we there yet? Can I ride on your shoulders? Pleeeaase?!”

A tantrum was mounting. And we were only at trail marker 5 of 13. I began bending down towards Ta...

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Surviving the Trauma of Infidelity

Jennifer cannot forget the day she saw a racy text from a female co-worker on her husband’s phone. As she looked through his text messages, she could see many exchanges between her husband and this other woman – and the texts were not about business. When she confronted her husband, he told her it was her fault that he had to seek out another woman’s affection. He blamed her for his unfaithfulness. Jennifer kept hearing his harsh words repeating themselves over and over in her mind.

Michael is trying to focus while at work, but all he can think of is finding his wife and his best friend in bed together. He is consumed with intense anger and he feels as if someone had punched him in the stomach. How could the two people he cared for the most do this to him?

When You are Confronted with Your Spouse’s Affair

You feel like a nuclear bomb has just gone off in your life. How could this happen? You are reeling as you take in the fact that your spouse has been unfaithful. If you are in this situation, you are no doubt experiencing a wide range of intense emotions and pain on many levels. You may be feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. You may wonder whether you can survive now that you know about the affair.

Yet even in the midst of all your pain, God’s presence ...

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