Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Tender Green Shoot

My Servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. Isa 53:2 NLT

I must admit, I am not much of a gardener, nor does this city girl know much about farm life, so I often thought there must be some secret gardening tip I wasn’t aware of to understand this verse from Isaiah 53 - how can a root grow out of dry ground? Even if you used a ton of Miracle Gro, if would take at least a few drops of water before a tender green shoot could have any hope of sprouting, wouldn’t it?!

Over time, I realized that Isaiah 53:2 was pointing to the reality that Jesus grew up in a natural environment that was like dry ground – it was not sufficient to meet His needs. But, the spiritual environment Jesus grew in was more than sufficient to meet His every need. Being in God’s Presence is what caused Jesus to sprout up like a tender green shoot despite the “dryness” around Him!!

Are there areas in your life where you feel the environment around you is “dry ground” and not meeting your needs?
  • Work
  • Marriage
  • Family relationships
  • Friendships 
Dissatisfaction in any of these areas reminds us that we were never meant to find fulfillment in them in the first place. Ultimately, the living water our spirit is really thirsting for can only be found in the wellspring of God’s Presence. Only the LORD can produce spiritual growth in us that far outweighs the lack of “supply” that exists in our natural environment.

Dear friend, if there is an area in your life that is leaving you unsatisfied, press in to the LORD. He is your supply, and He will provide what He knows you need, to achieve the purposes for which He has called you!

Please remember to pray for the many people who come to CCS each day in need of understanding this truth in their lives. And pray for our counsellors - to follow the Spirit of God’s leading in each and every counseling session. We are so grateful for your prayer support and financial giving to the LORD’s work at Christian Counseling Services! We couldn’t do this work without you!

Wishing you a joyous spring season! Christ is Risen!
- Heather Tomes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Counsellor's Corner

by Gwen Gleason-Graham

There is a focus in the mental health field now in the area of self care. There are tools that we can use to ensure we are taking good care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Experts in the field list the top ranking tools as follows: yoga, prayer, meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery.

Perhaps you would disagree with that order and would place prayer at the top of the list! The Bible puts it this way: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)

These tools are intended to help a person be focused in the present, be relaxed, motivated and positive. For clients with issues such as depression, anxiety, poor self image and others that create negative experiences, self care tools help the person to get in touch with their emotions, to have  healthy outlets for these emotions, create balance, a sense of peace and serenity in their lives. A regular routine of self care will consistently give the person a positive lift and help them be more engaged with their own personal needs and the needs of others.

Another self care tool is mindfulness. Mindfulness means to live well in the moment. So, any time you are feeling down, or your mind is racing with negative thoughts, just step back and take a look around your environment. Can you look for something more positive or lovely that you haven't noticed before? Or, can you step back, take a moment to count your blessings and tell yourself you have these to use to move ahead in a positive way? Even this small shift in your focus can help to bring you out of your negative state and look towards the positives in your world.

God’s Word says: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 6-7).

The fall season is upon us, a time when we get back into a routine of work, school and our many community interests. Taking time for self care in the midst of our hectic schedules will ensure that we remain motivated and positive to meet the demands we all feel in our lives. The counsellors at CCS can help you learn some of the many tools for self care.

God intends for us to live in this life joyfully. May His richest blessings be upon you in this fall season ~ and all the seasons of your lives!

"Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again - rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

Gwen is a Counsellor with CCS. She has a Master of Social Work and focuses on Employee Assistance Program work with several large companies and has clients from across Canada. Her areas of practice include depression, stress, anxiety, and self-care.

Home is Where the Heart is...

by Heather Tomes

I am a Saskatchewan girl at heart. Despite my many travels, there is nowhere that represents home to my heart like Saskatchewan in the summer! Watching a field of yellow canola billow in the wind framed by waves of green grass and a soft blue sky speaks of home to my prairie heart!

When I served as a missionary in Bosnia, I ran into a Canadian NATO peace officer one day in the market. Always happy to meet someone from Canada, we began to talk about our home country. Having shared that he was from eastern Canada, he asked “What part of the country are you from?” When I said “Saskatchewan”, he responded “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” It was an attempt at humor on his part, but this loyal Saskatchewan gal wasn’t laughing :)

We tend to become loyal to what is familiar to us. This spiritual and psychological principle is demonstrated in Jesus’ interaction with a man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5). The Apostle John describes the scene around the pool: crowds of sick people lying on the porches – people who were blind, lame, or paralyzed. One such man had been lying there for thirty-eight years. Certainly this place had become familiar to him - like home - during that amount of time.

Jesus asks the man “Would you like to get well?” Seems like a strange question, doesn’t it? You’d think the man would be eager to be healed, and to leave this place he has called “home” for so many years. Yet his response to the Messiah is one of hesitation – his heart has become loyal to what is familiar to him.

On the surface it may seem easy to judge this man for his complacency - but what areas of our own hearts and minds lie crippled, lame, or paralyzed before the Lord – yet are shrouded in a familiarity that keeps us complacent to invitations from the Healer? What areas of our lives would the Saviour say to us, just as He did this man “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” so that we might be healed, too? Beloved, this threefold command is the same one Jesus whispers to our hearts today in areas that have become all-too-familiar strongholds that keep us blind, lame, and paralyzed in our Christ-following. We all have them – areas that have become entrenched in our lives: self-centeredness, pride, envy, anger, lust, fear. They become so familiar that when Christ comes with an invitation of healing, our first response is despondency, disbelief, or even outright refusal.

Many who come to Christian Counselling Services are at various stages of responding to the Master’s call to leave behind places of familiarity where their hearts have resided in paralysis for too long. My prayer is that CCS would be like the Pool of Bethesda – which means House of Grace - for each person that crosses the threshold of this ministry. Please join me in this prayer.

Heather Tomes is the Executive Director of CCS. She is a Registered Psychologist and works with women in areas such as abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.