The book of Ephesians makes clear that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:26).
But how can husbands possibly show this kind of love?
Matt Blackwell shares that the key to applying verse 26 is to understand verses 1 & 2.
Ephesians 5:1,2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The key to being a loving husband is being a loved son. Husbands, if you are in Christ you are a beloved son of our Perfect Father. It is when we know God’s love that we will be able to love as we should. The hope and prayer for any husband is that we would love out of the fullness that God has poured into us.
Here are a few helpful marriage resources:
- Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller (Book)
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (Book)
- The Purpose of Marriage by Matt Carter (MP3)
Posted by: Jason Kovacs | 0 comments March 28, 2013
You are invited to an upcoming seminar the Austin Stone Counseling Center is hosting on Saturday, April 6th on the topic of guilt and shame.
The Seminar’s primary focus is to look at the issue of shame and guilt biblically, how it affects all our lives, and how the Gospel can provide help to those that are suffering. Anyone will benefit from this seminar.
For more information and to sign up for the seminar, please fill out the form below. Feel free to pass this on to friends. Let us know if you have any questions!
Only $10 if you register before March 31st!
Posted by: Jason Kovacs | 1 Comment January 28, 2013
God designed sex to be a reminder and picture of Jesus covenant relationship with His people. Understanding this explains why sex is a wonderful gift but also why it is so destructive outside the covenant of marriage.
If you have struggled in any way with sexual sin or have been impacted by sexual sin, here are 10 resources to help towards getting the help you need.
1. The Gospel
The gospel is the power to free us from the cycle of sin and shame that comes with sexual sin. There is no sexual sin that is beyond the grace and forgiveness of God. This is great news for the one who is struggling and for the one who has been sinned against. God takes our sin seriously; so serious that He killed His only son for it. By believing that Christ paid for every sin we are freed to experience true intimacy with God. The gospel also enables us to sever the roots of sin and its temporary promises of pleasure by offering us a superior eternal satisfaction in Christ. Be radically honest with yourself, repent, and acknowledge your need for God to change.
Sexual sin and brokenness brings with it deep shame & guilt that leads us to hide and isolate ourselves from others. If you are married, God’s design is for your relationship with your spouse is complete honesty. Your spouse can be your greatest advocate in the path to healing. Share with them what you are struggling with and pray and fight together. If you are single, find a close friend or two and share with them. Let them pray for you and encourage you. We cannot grow in Christ apart from community. We should all have a Missional Community/small group that we can walk with through this and any other issue. Specific issue support groups can also be helpful in dealing with sexual sin.
In some cases where the intensity of the struggle and the level of brokenness that has been experienced is greater it can be helpful to supplement the care you get from community with the care of a professional that is specially trained. The Austin Stone Counseling Center is a resource of the church that can help.
- Learn more about how we approach counseling and even schedule an appointment by going to www.austinstonecounseling.org.
4. The Body
Our God-given desire for sex builds up physical tension. It is important to think through and plan non-sinful ways to respond. By developing new patterns of responding to temptation we will retrain our brain to trust God for the intimacy we were created for with him and others.
- Read ‘Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain‘ by William Struthers
5. Know Your Triggers
Being aware of what triggers sexual thoughts and temptation is critical in being able to overcome them by faith. Common triggers can be hunger, anger, loneliness, and being tired. Prayerfully consider where you need to fight the small battles so you don’t have to fight the big ones.
In Isaiah 58, God asks his people to reach out to other people: the poor, the afflicted, the heavily yoked. As His people make their lives acts of living worship, God says that their “healing shall spring up speedily.” One way to overcome any struggle with sin or dealing with the painful consequences of sin is to place our focus on others.
7. Develop a Personal Battle Plan for Purity
The world will not help you become more pure. Our flesh is weak. The devil will do whatever it takes to lie, accuse, and tempt you towards destruction. Everyone needs a gospel-centered plan to fight for purity. The best thing we can do is to develop a personal battle plan to 1) fight sexual sin, 2) develop a Biblical understanding of sex, and 3) to build true intimacy in marriage and relationships. Write it down and share it with your community so they can fight with you.
Temptation Series, Matt Carter
Singleness, Marriage, Sex, and Divorce, The Austin Stone
How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause, John Piper
Sex, Romance & Glory of God, CJ Mahaney
Love, Lust and Liberation, Tim Keller
Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships By Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg (helpful for both husband and wife)
False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction By Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg
Future GraceBy John Piper
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist By John Piper
The Enemy Within By Kris Lundgaard
10. Take Practical Steps
Everything here sounds great but it doesn’t mean anything unless you actually do something. For some this means getting radical. Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt 5:29). No technological convenience is worth sinning against God and hurting those you love.
- Install Covenant Eyes accountability software on your computer and phone.
- Lock down your phone so you can’t access the internet without accountability.
- Be wise with your media input (books, television, movies).
Posted by: Staff | 0 comments January 25, 2013
Freedom: Overcoming Sexual Addiction (for Men)
Are you trying to walk away from sexual behaviors you want to stop and can’t? There is hope to ending the vicious cycle of sexual addiction and you don’t have to face the battle alone. The purpose of this group is to break free from the bondage of sexual sin through the transforming power of the gospel in community. We strive to fight sin through the power of the Holy Spirit, resting in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in a safe and confidential environment. There is a one time registration fee of $90 and group materials will be provided for you. Please contact Kyle Wardlaw if you are interested in being a part of this group.
Facilitated by Kyle Wardlaw
Thursday nights at St. John Campus, 7:30-9pm
Group Duration: 13 weeks each
2013 Group Dates: February 7th – May 2nd & August 1st – October 24th
Posted by: Jason Kovacs | 1 Comment January 24, 2013
What do you do when your friend or spouse or coworker is in distress and depressed? How should you respond when all they see is darkness? John Piper provides a wise word here:
Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind? Job 6:26
In grief and pain and despair people often say things they otherwise would not say. They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up. They sing in minor keys and talk as though that is the only music. They see clouds only and speak as if there were no sky.
They say, “Where is God?” Or: “There is no use to go on.” Or: “Nothing makes any sense.” Or: There’s no hope for me.” Or: “If God were good this couldn’t have happened.”
What shall we do with these words?
Job says that we do not need to reprove them. These words are wind, or literally “for the wind.” They will be quickly blown away. There will come a turn in circumstances and the despairing person will waken from the dark night and regret hasty words.
Therefore, the point is, let us not spend our time and energy reproving such words. They will be blown away of themselves on the wind. One need not clip the leaves in autumn. It is a wasted effort. They will soon blow off of themselves.
O how quickly we are given to defending God, or sometimes the truth, from words that are only for the wind. If we had discernment we could tell the difference between the words with roots and the words blowing in the wind.
There are words with roots in deep error and deep evil. But not all grey words get their color from a black heart. Some are colored mainly by the pain, the despair. What you hear is not the deepest thing within. There is something real within where they come from. But it is temporary—like a passing infection—real, painful, but not the true person.
Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind—spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul not reproving the sore is the aim of our love.
From “When Words Are Wind”
Posted by: Jason Kovacs | 0 comments January 24, 2013
We are excited to be a part of the upcoming Austin Plantr Network MicroConference on Gospel Counseling in the Local Church with Dr Tim Lane, Executive Director of CCEF and author of How People Change & Relationships: A Mess Worth Making.
Planting and leading churches is difficult, messy, busy, and glorious work. The further we get, the more help we need. How do we provide godly pastoral care for a growing church? How do we avoid counseling mistakes and counseling burnout? Can the local church be equipped to counsel one another? If so, how can they be equipped? What does a self-counseling church look like?
Bring your staff team and a group of lay leaders; we’re confident this conference has the potential to change and equip you and your church.
Click here for more information and to register.
Posted by: Staff | 0 comments January 22, 2013
The first time I remember struggling with depression was when I was 17. My dad had just moved out of the country and I was having trouble adapting to the changes. The life I had always known changed overnight it seemed. I subtly began to withdraw from my friends and became very sad and fearful.
I experienced waves of depression for the next several years—moments or days that I felt fine, followed by moments or days that I thought my life was meaningless. I had a lot of self-pity in those moments. I thought my life was a tragedy and I began to feel comfortable in that mind-set. I romanticized my depression and so I didn’t see it as much of a problem. I resigned myself to feel this way forever. I turned to alcohol and friends and anything to keep me busy, but when the music stopped, I was miserable.
In my early twenties, my depression dramatically worsened. I began having panic attacks so I started to take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. I slowly stopped recognizing myself and I wanted to die on several occasions because the pain was so great.
My older sister came to know Jesus when I was 21. She would encourage me that I had hope in Jesus and that I would never be alone if I had Him.
Rock bottom for me was in 2010. I had to drop out of school that August because I could no longer function. I was staying in bed all day and incessantly crying. The three-year relationship I was in at the time was ending, and because I had put so much hope and energy into trying to make it work, I felt completely defeated and hopeless.
It wasn’t until February 2011 that I was finally tired of trying. I broke up with my boyfriend and decided to take two weeks to “figure things out”. God used this time to pursue me and to show me that He had better things planned for my life. Two weeks later I surrendered my life to Jesus.
God miraculously took my depression and anxiety away. I finally had put my hope and identity into the one Person that deserves it.
It has now been two years since I began my walk with Jesus. It is not easy. I know it would be easier to surrender to the depression that still knocks at my door. I know it would be easier not to get out of bed. It would be easier to follow the desires of my flesh. And some days I do.
But the game-changer is that when I feel sad, when I feel depressed, I get to tell Jesus about it. He cares.
Because the reality is, my depression may come back one day. And if it does, it will not define me. My hope is not in the fact that I will never experience depression again; my hope is in the fact that Jesus has already won the ultimate battle and a day will come where everything will be better. In the meantime, I do not have a Savior that cannot sympathize with me. His grace is sufficient for me. He conquered death so that I can experience life, and I intend to.
Lindsie’s life has been transformed. God helped Lindsie trade depression and fear for peace and contentment. She now serves in the Care & Counseling ministry at the Austin Stone.Tagged depression, gospel, hope |
Posted by: Staff | 0 comments January 20, 2013
Depression is more common than most of us realize. It can be subtle and it can be debilitating. No one should struggle alone and without hope.
Here are 10 resources to help towards getting the help you need.
1. The Gospel
Through the lens of Scripture, we see the good news for depression. We all need to be reminded and encouraged to believe these things and let them infiltrate our heart, soul and mind. For example, these are some of the truths we see in Psalm 5 that speak to someone in the depth of depression.
- God pays attention to our crying.
- God hears our prayers.
- God does not delight in wickedness.
- We can be in relationship with God because of HIS steadfast love.
- God is worthy of our worship and reverent fear.
- God will lead us in HIS righteousness, not our own.
- God is a safe refuge for us.
- God protects us so we will glorify Him.
- God covers us with blessings.
Depression is not something to hide or to be ashamed – you don’t have to walk through its pain on your own. God designed community knowing the depths of pain that can come with depression so that we would not be alone. If you are in a small group or Missional Community let them know about your struggle. Let them pray for you and encourage you. There might just be someone in your group that has experienced depression before or is currently struggling.
In many cases it can be helpful to supplement the care you get from community with the care of a professional that is specially trained to deal with complex issues like depression. The Austin Stone Counseling Center is a resource of the church that can help. You can learn more about how we approach counseling and even schedule an appointment by going to www.austinstonecounseling.org
4. The Body
We are body-soul creatures and we cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that our bodies have no effect on the way our souls are feeling within those bodies. Paul exhorts Timothy that bodily training is of ‘some value’, not of NO value – it is small compared to godliness, but it is important. Often, the tendrils of depression have choked out basic structure and wisdom for taking care of physical aspects and need to be set in order: healthy diet, a proper amount of sleep, exercise, a routine/schedule.
5. Daily Life
Daily tasks often seem arduous at best and impossible at worst for someone in the dark of depression. Without taking over his responsibilities, ask to share these tasks with him. Although we want to be wary of creating a codependent relationship, taking baby- steps together will hold him accountable and allow him to start moving forward. Wisely lead him to more and more independence.
- clean the house
- go to appointments
- grocery shop
- mow the grass
- do errands
In Isaiah 58, God asks his people to reach out to other people: the poor, the afflicted, the heavily yoked. As His people make their lives acts of living worship, God says that their “healing shall spring up speedily.” We need to gently encourage someone who is de- pressed to look past his own struggles, and reach out to others in need and look to their interests and not just his own (Philippians 2:4). Invite him to join you as you serve the poor, afflicted and heavily yoked.
7. The Soul and Mind
A large component of depression is the deep entrenchment of lies that Satan tempts hu- mans to believe. A person can hear terrible things about his worth, identity, and future. In those moments, he needs to fight to believe the things that are real and true from the mouth of God. This is why the Psalmist in Psalm 42 says to himself, “Why so downcast oh, my soul? Put your hope in God!” Encourage the depressed person to make an ac- tion plan for when he is speaking lies to his soul.
- Write down the lie, scratch it out and write the truth.
- Go through a mental checklist of Philippians 4:8.
- Be quick to ask the Holy Spirit to change this lie.
- Journal about a characteristic of God.
- With Scriptures, remind yourself of your standing before Christ.
- Study what God says to those who suffer in Bible
- Listen to a worship song and write out your reaction to it.
The Sovereignty of God Over Suffering and Evil, Halim Suh
The Sovereign God With Us, Tyler David
The Purpose of Suffering and Evil, Halim Suh
The Wounded Spirit, Tim Keller
Finding God, Tim Keller
Spiritual Depression in the Psalms, John Piper
Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Edward T. Welch
When the Darkness Will Not Lift, John Piper (available in PDF form on line)
Spiritual Depression, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Christians Get Depressed Too, David Murray
Although there is no medical cure for depression, medicine can help clear the over- whelming chaos in the brain so that the person can make decisions and think without the debilitating fog which might help him hear the Gospel more clearly. A good doctor will direct the patient towards counseling and a support system.
Posted by: Staff | 3 Comments January 20, 2013
No one suspected Amanda’s struggle. People saw a girl who had everything: good grades, an upcoming internship with Major League Baseball (MLB), and an active social life. Not even her parents knew until, one day, Amanda broke.
Amanda had recently ended an unhealthy relationship and spiraled into a cycle of disordered eating. Now she feared moving to New York for her internship. She was depressed and without hope. She was, as she says, “completely done.” Work didn’t satisfy her deepest longings. Neither did school, organizations, relationships or food. She tried to change with the help of books and self-talk, but she didn’t have the strength to change on her own. She recalled a verse she had read long ago: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). She thought, “I want to be at rest. That just sounds so good. I need help, God. Please!”
Finding that rest required her to admit her need for help. Amanda, who had been attending The Austin Stone Community Church, contacted a church staff member who put her in touch with a Christian treatment center in Arizona. The center told her that her treatment would cost $1,000 per day. She didn’t know how she would pay for the treatment, but she rested in God’s leadership and providence. A few days after she contacted the treatment center, the center called back. Amanda was told she could come if she could pay for a quarter of the costs. She looked at the funds she had, and they were sufficient. Amanda could go to the treatment center.
Her time at the center was revelatory. Amanda experienced a spiritual reawakening. She says, “I always thought God’s faithfulness and goodness were applicable to someone else, not me.” Amanda even saw her pain become something beautiful. “My suffering and pain are for God’s glory,” she says.
Amanda left the program with a new heart and mindset. Food and exercise and all the other things she had pursued no longer mattered. What mattered was following Jesus. But she was uncertain as to what that meant. She continued forward with her plans to intern with MLB. She moved to New York for the internship, then to Florida for an internship with the Red Sox. Eventually, she moved to Boston for a full-time position with the baseball team.
Amanda had everything she ever wanted, but she wasn’t content. She says, “It took God giving me what I wanted to show me that’s not what I wanted. Now He’s showing me that I want Him.” She was perplexed about the change in herself, so she sought advice from people at The Austin Stone. They helped her process what she was feeling and thinking. Through this process, God eventually led her to leave the Red Sox and return to Austin.
Amanda had no plans upon returning. She considered graduate school, seminary, and ministry, but she didn’t feel settled with any one thing. She waited for God to lead the way yet again. God led her to the internship program at The Austin Stone, and she became a full-time intern with the For the City Network January 2010. She now works in marketing and communications for FTCN and is a leader in the Women’s Development.
“God’s been so gracious to our organization” she says. “He’s up to a lot, from helping us connect and mobilize volunteers who are engaging needs in the city, to organizing large initiatives at Christmas and Easter, to allowing me to be involved with the sports programs at FTCN. It’s humbling to be a part of it. I never thought the Lord had big plans for me, but I am beginning to trust he does, not because I’m strong or qualified, but because he’s strong and faithful and qualifies me by the blood of Jesus. None of this could or can happen apart from him.”
Visit the Austin Stone Stories page for more stories.Tagged depression, gospel, hope, suffering |
Posted by: Staff | 0 comments January 20, 2013
That’s one of the hardest things about it. It doesn’t always make sense. It isn’t always linear or connected to a challenging circumstance. It isn’t always present because you are forgetting a truth or promise from God. It doesn’t look the same in every person.
For those who do not struggle with depression the remedy can seem easy: Don’t feel like that. Feel better.
What a great idea. Why didn’t the depressed person think of that?
For someone that is struggling with the gnawing of the soul that depression can bring, feeling better can seem impossible. Their ears can feel deaf to the power of the Scriptures. Their mouths mute with praise. It can feel as though they are slowly being swallowed by the meaningless of life.
They need something more. They need someone to help.
The reality is that depression is not the final word over a person, though it can feel like it at times. But there is a greater word spoken through the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a Person that is well-acquainted with grief and sorrow – He can sympathize with our pain and weakness. He is stronger than depression.
While there are plenty of things like medicine and physical factors that can help us deal with the symptoms of depression – there is only One that can save us from the lies and despair that come with this difficult issue. There is only One in whom we can fully put our hope for deliverance and fuel for the fight in the meantime.
The gospel speaks into the abyss of depression and shines light. There is hope for us, though our bodies and minds may struggle on this side of heaven. There is a higher hope than the darkness lifting – and that is believing, even in the darkness, God has not abandoned you. In fact, believing God is in control during those dark moments and has something for you.
Posted by: Val Vance | 0 comments ← Older posts