Good article about the effects of Baptism on the soul and how it breathes new life to it.
Baptism is the sacrament of initiation for Christians but it is more than a mere acceptance of Christ but also an infusion of graces earned for us by Christ on the cross to remove original sin and breathe new life into the soul
The article, Spiritual effects and benefits of baptism, by Father Michael Van Sloun states
“Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, and it has powerful and long-lasting effects. It changes the spiritual character of a person forever, and the mark of transformation is so permanent that it is indelible; it can never be erased. What follows is a concise list of nine of the most important effects and benefits of the sacrament of baptism.”
Good article about spiritual maturity and signs that show you are growing in your faith. It is critical to grow in faith and show signs of spiritual growth with Christ
The article, 4 Signs You’re Becoming Spiritually Mature, by Rachel Dawson states,
“Like verse 13 says, the goal is to be spiritually mature in the Lord. When I think about what that verse says, an image comes to mind of an empty outline of a person that is increasingly filled with vibrant color as they grow, develop their faith, are poured into by other believers, and are filled by God’s Word.”
Good article about how Christian men can spiritually mature
The article, “5 Ways Christian Men Can Start Maturing Spiritually Today” by Patrick Mabilog states
“Spiritual growth is to be one of every Christian man’s top priority. When we make it a point to grow in the spirit, we also make it a point to grow in every aspect. That’s because our spiritual status affects every other area of our life – whether it be physiological, mental, emotional, economical or relational.”
Great article for parents, Christian Counselors, and pastors in guiding teens to purity. Devotion in purity, scripture and avoiding the wrong crowd are all key, but is it possible in this sex driven world for teens to avoid pre martial sex? This article looks into this
Christian Unity and Communion: Christian Counseling Training Program
Christian Unity and Communion is a difficult subject to breach because of multiple theological divisions and the multiple social reactions to unity.Some groups wish and desire that one Church emerge and others seem to relish the disunity via their hate filled speech against other denominations.
Is it possible?Does it matter?
First the later question.Christ calls for all to be one.St Paul further reprimanded Christians for those who decided to follow him or other apostles, but reminded them that Christians are called to follow Christ!Division is unnatural to Christianity because Christ is the natural head of the Church.So yes, Christian unity does matter!
It is an insult to the sacramental nature of Baptism which unites all in one Baptism and one Christ.Through Baptism one becomes a member of Christ’s Church and an integral part of the Mystical Body of Christ.This sacrament is so unifying, that even in petty divisions, all Christians are unified in a supernatural way that is beyond denominations and physical borders.
Yet an outward manifestation of this unity ceases to exist.There are a multitude of divisions between Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.Some of these divisions involve petty man-made customs, while others involve serious theological differences.Christ, however, is pure truth.He is not a division of truth and demands his children to come together under his name.So the issue of reunification does matter and it is critical.
In the latter half of the 20th Century, Ecumenism took central role in mainstream Christian denominations.A search for mutual teaching and oneness in Christ motivated many to bring church leaders to dialogue.
In this dialogue, the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church looked at its relation to other religions but most importantly its relation to the East and Protestantism.Common core beliefs were acknowledged and the beauty of the various traditions within those two groups were analyzed.
In response, main stream Protestant groups began to look at the ties with the Western Church and Eastern Churches began new dialogue with the West.This reached a pinnacle when the Pope and Patriarch of Constantinople mutually lifted the excommunications against each other that had lasted since 1054.
Also at the grass root levels of Protestantism, many non-denominational churches arose throughout America seeking unification with other Protestant groups.These groups also welcomed Catholics and Orthodox but, despite this, these grass root churches seem to be more Protestant orientated in unification since many reject or hold in extreme bias against many Catholic and Orthodox teachings.
So, the desire to reunify does matter and it is a driving element in all three branches of Christianity.Yet, is desire enough?
Is It Possible?
The first question if it is possible is the most troubling.While Christian theology does teach that the sacrament of Baptism makes one a member of Christ’s Church, there still exists formal and physical divisions of Christ’s Church.So, one can say theologically, in the most primitive sense, yes reunification is possible because spiritually the church is one via Baptism but things become more complicated when groups deny certain core elements of Christianity or create other ideas, yet still claim to be a follower of Christ.
What is orthodox? And how much of a core teaching must all adhere to in order to be unified with another branch?Most Christians would contend that the first order of unification involves the teachings of Scripture regarding the divinity of Christ and his Resurrection.Second, most Christians would adhere to the teachings of the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 which laid foundation for the famous Nicene Creed.This creed lays the foundation for the apostolic faith, the Incarnation, Redemption and future of the church.
The teachings of Scripture and the Creed are cornerstones of what is it is to be “Christian”.This leads one to very interesting reactions within two different groups.The first group is a very liberal group that seeks reunification at all costs.This group believes in core values that define one as Christian and lists a pillar of truths that all Christians can agree with.They believe that if these core beliefs are officially accepted by different Christian denominations, then a sense of union can exist.
They, however, dismiss other “truths” as not core essential to the brand of Christianity but only to the local church and its own tradition.Such liberal theologians as Rahner, and a younger Avery Dulles, all promoted a unified Church based on certain pillars of mutual acceptance but also room for disagreement on minor dogmas that reflect the particular denomination.An example would be Marian doctrines found in the Catholic Church.In a reunification, these dogmas would not be listed as necessary or uniquely Christian and an assent of belief would not be required for union between Catholics and Protestants.
The second group mentioned is a very conservative group.Within this group there are extremists but also realists.The extremist conservative group represent the very worst of our Christian faith.This group within Catholicism and Orthodoxy is very pharisaical and live by a codified law.In many cases, they spark division based off of man-made traditions or speculative theology.They are unmoved by human compassion but judge others by the law only.Within this mindset, they see others that outside the Church as damned to Hell.
Extremists conservative Protestants also exist that are governed by their own self and literal interpretations of Scripture.Many of these Protestants have become prey to cultish groups that openly engage in spiritual warfare against Catholicism.Some even go father, as in the case of the Westboro Church that condemns gays and lesbians to Hell.
Within this second group; also exists a more moderate response to Ecumenism that is more conservative but also realistic.This group acknowledges the reality of differences and the reality of common core beliefs, but refuses to demean ‘’lesser dogmas”.In their mind, all truth is truth, even the smallest dogma found in Christianity is essential to its teachings.The problem is whichdogma is true and which is not?Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox will all disagree on the Immaculate Conception of Mary.How important is this to Catholics?Most Protestants believe that the Lord’s Supper is symbolic, but in a unified Church may be forced to accept the true presence.Would Protestant groups accept this?There are multiple theological ideals that define Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants beyond sacred Scripture and Nicaea.In many cases, most conservative Christians disagree not out of pride, as the extremist conservatives, but out of genuine belief.So how can there be true physical union?
I find myself in the moderate conservative camp.Yes we share common beliefs that make us uniquely Christian but we also disagree on fundamental ideals that would require us to sacrifice what we perceive as truth.If one knowingly sacrifices what they perceive as truth, whether true or not, then they turn on their conscience and who they are.True ecumenism does not seek to compromise, like the liberal stance, but seeks true union through dialogue and theological discussion.
Sometimes, false ideals or notions that once seemed to be a difference can be ironed out between two parties if the discussion is done with reverence and prayer.If a common ideal cannot be reached genuinely, then Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox groups must show mutual respect and hold to their truths.Yet in doing so, acknowledging the common pillar of truth which is Christ.The belief in Christ and our common Baptism is an initial step towards reunification.While it is not physically manifested where we worship on Sunday, it is spiritually manifested when we share Christ to the world through works of mercy and love and when we respect each other’s differences.
This stance differs from the liberal stance in that it denies subjectivism.The fullness of Christ’s teaching and faith is found in one Church, not many.One Christian cannot say the Eucharist is a symbol while the other views it is the Body and Blood of Christ.There is a truth and that truth we may never know, but these ideas cannot be swept under the rug as not important.We must hold to our apostolic beliefs and unless exposed to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we must hold firm to our traditions that have been handed down to us.The liberals, in their zeal for communion, deny true identity and teach a dangerous subjectivism that erodes the truth of the apostolic faith for the convenience of communion.
The moderate conservative stance differs from the extremist conservative in that it does not believe God’s grace is exclusive to a particular group or that man-made laws and speculative theological formulas should cause division.This does not mean we should not believe that our Church is the source of grace, it merely states that we believe the mystery of salvation can be applied in non-conventional ways that do not stem from our particular bell tower.
This differs from the strict and unmoving beliefs of pre-Vatican II Catholics and many Eastern Orthodox.The issue here is not that both parties have a true belief in their apostolic succession but the that they condemn each other to Hell.They dismiss the common Baptism and wish to hoard the sacraments for themselves.They seek to continue division between East and West over a prideful ideals of speculative or man-made theologies.An ideal of Return Ecumenism exists between the two parties, where they expect the other group to come back to them.The sad reality between Orthodox and Catholic is that a physical reunion is possible, yet this mentality prevents it from happening!
Not so is the case with Protestantism since the theological chasm is so wide, yet various letters of hate among Protestant groups that Rome is the whore of Babylon is not only non-sense but is also vile towards any true spiritual reunification of one’s common Baptism.
When Will Reunion Happen For All Christians On A Physical Level?
While we can say we are unified in one Baptism of Christ, a physical reunion for all Christians is not realistically possible under human hands.Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten all Christians to one truth and one physical fold.While some groups within Protestantism can find common ground or Catholics and Orthodox can one day physically unify, one must admit that for all three branches to agree would be a divine event.For this reason, true reunion will come when Christ returns. In the meantime, we must embrace our common love of Christ and share it with each other via action not theological speeches.
Let us pray for union, be kind to our fellow Christians, seek the truth of the Holy Spirit and always remain humble in the graces that Christ has given us!
If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Training Program, then please review the program.Certified Christian Counselors must be well trained in proper Ecumenism and sensitive to the needs of other Christians.Christian Counselors have a unique way to spread the spiritual union of our faith with other Christians by sharing their wisdom and aide to spiritual children of any denomination that are in need of help and prayers.
This is why our program is called Christian, not Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox, but Christian!
Christian Counseling Training Program: “Sexual Atheism” and Christian Moral Compass Regarding Sex Outside Marriage
Christians are losing their moral compass. Eroding away at the core of Christian values is humanism and self gratification. It comes in the way of mass media and an indifferent value of morals that bases the wrong of an action on the basis of injury. If noone is hurt, then it cannot be wrong?
This type of moral indifference and mass humanism has led to the coining title “sexual atheism”. Where Christians profess God in everything but sex outside marriage. In their minds, God does not care about sexual sin. The sin of Sodom us a distant memory.
As long as I give to the poor, care for others, read the bible and go to church, then all is fine. God does not care what I do with others in the shadows at night. This type of thinking has infecting many Christians. The article below discusses it.
“The guy sitting across from me is a professing and practicing Christian. He drops by my office unannounced today to talk to me about his new online dating life. Specifically, he wants to talk about the over-willingness of Christian women he has encountered on several of his dates who want to jump right from a very public conversation and vanilla latte at Starbucks to very private whispers and physical exchanges between the sheets back at his place.”
While it is human nature to desire, we cannot dismiss the evil of sexual sin. A good Christian Counseling Training Program will acknowledge that we fall, but when we do fall, we acknowledge the sin and try not to sin again. Sexual atheism does not even acknowledge or seek to change.
We must as Christians not allow our conscience to become lax or improperly formed but must be ever vigilant in our examination of conscience and acknowledgement of sin. God understands the difficulty with the sins of the flesh, but he expects us to try and change inappropriate sexual life styles. Are these not the words of Christ to Mary the prostitute. He told her to repent and sin no more. He easily forgave the sin but expected one to acknowledge and repent.
Counselors trained from a good Christian Counseling Training Program need to help their spiritual children form good and vigilant consciences that reflect scriptural teaching that mirrors the commandments of God. The conscience should continue to patrol one’s moral actions and when one fails, to push within an acknowledgement of failure and repentance.
Secular Humanism rejects this premise and like the serpent promises one to be the god of their own sexual impulses. Instead of giving to God our body as he intends us to use it, we seek to gratify our senses as our own god. While it is easy to understand the nature of hormones and the sexual urge to reproduce, we can still focus on strengthening our will to fight temptation through fasting.
Atheistic Psychology denounces this type of sexual repression. The reality is that sexual repression is not to be confused with a practice of virtue. How can something that is noble and good be repressive to our overall health? It is today and modern society that see sexual control as foreign, odd and out of place before marriage. Yet they fail to realize the reason for sexual control and the downward trodden path the sin of lust leads to. God understands our fallen state. He is patient and compassionate but he also understands the danger of unchecked extremes. This is why he has wisely taught us how to use the gift of sex for ourselves and our partner in the sacred state of marriage.
God also understands the integral part our sexual expression plays beyond mere pleasure but towards love and ultimately propagation. Sexual promiscuity and unchecked desires lead to distorted views on sex and love as selfish means to one’s end-reducing the other person to an object. It is also devalues the sacred nature of the act to mere pleasurable action no less sacred than a back rub.
Christian Counselors must not just teach something is wrong but why it is wrong and why God intended it to be utilized a certain way. In this way the forming of conscience which is of the will can properly work in union with the intellect in decision making. We must guard the youth from this new assault of sexual atheism.
We must also applaud the virtue of purity and not see it as a psychological act of sexual repression but a noble and true route to salvation where man controls his animal impulses and acts more like one made in the image and likeness of God.
If you are interested in learning more about our Christian Counseling Training Program, then please review the program at your leisure.
To become certified one must merely complete the required courses. Qualified professionals can then become Christian Counseling certified. Christian Counseling Certifications last three years. Re-certification involves academic and professional hours within the field.
Qualified professionals include ministers and licensed counselors. Other qualified members can have general social science degrees including history, counseling, sociology, health care, psychology, theology and pastoral care.
Should Christian Counselors Give Credence to Ghost Stories?
As Christian Counselors, it is the duty to not only help people mentally but also spiritually. With this in mind, what if a client speaks of ghost stories or things that go bump in the night?
In answer to the heading, as Christians, we all believe in ghosts or spirits. We should also take credence in most ghost stories. Of course subjective elements of the person’s mental health should guide us in whether or not it is a legitimate story or not.
Since Christianity accepts the reality of a spiritual world and the tearing of the soul from the body due to death, one must accept ghosts and their interaction with the physical world as a metaphysical reality. Our faith dictates it. All to many times, we separate ghosts from the soul when in reality the soul is basically a ghost!
The biggest metaphysical question is where does the soul go after death. Christianity universally proclaims the soul goes to Heaven or Hell, but many within Christianity also believe in a temporary middle ground. Some would call this Purgatory. While primarily a Catholic doctrine and rejected by most Protestants, the idea of Purgatory as a state of further purification before entry into Heaven could explain the existence of ghosts who serve their time on Earth?
Other explanations include attachments or unfinished business of the soul, while other explanations are the souls of the damned who haunt the living as they suffer their separation from God in a permanent state of Hell.
With so many ghost stories, I am sure some are legend, but also since it is such a universal human experience, I would be less than inclined to deny it as science attempts to do. The reality is, we are all ghosts, just some of us still have our bodies!
If you are interested a Christian Counseling Certification, then please review the program. The Christian Counseling Training Program consists of core courses that the qualified professional must complete to become certified in the Christian Counseling Training Program.
Christian Counseling and the Parable of the Talents
Christ in Matt: 22:1-14 spoke of the parable of “Talents”. This parable is unique for Christian Counseling sessions because it involves the utilization of one’s particular talents to the Christian community. As a Christian counselor one can help others share their unique charisms as well as utilizing their own charism of counseling.
In the parable, Christ speaks of a master who gave his three servants each a coin to hold and guard. The first servant increased his value fivefold and the next tenfold but the last servant hoarded the coin to himself and obtained no greater value. The master rewarded the first two servants, but condemned the last servant.
The obvious implication is that God gives everyone particular talents. Christian Counselors are given the charismsof wisdom, knowledge, understand and counsel, while others may possess the gifts of healing or prophesy. Still some may merely possess physical talents that are used in the service of God such as art, music or manual labor.
In returning to the ideals of St. Teresa of Avila, one must understand that all gifts come from God. In true humility, one must deflect praise of particular skills back to God. Since these gifts are on “loan” from God it is our duty to share them and use them to help grow the Christian Church.
The last servant in this parable did not use his talents for the growth of the Church but hoarded his particular talent to himself. This selfish act led to his condemnation.
As Christians, do we see ourselves not giving our talents to God? Are we fully giving everything we have to know, love and serve the Lord? What particular talent do you possess but have not used for the service of the Church? Perhaps it is time to increase the value of your “coin” tenfold before the master returns.
If you are interested in Christian Counseling Courses, please review the program. Our Christian Counseling Training Program is for qualified professionals who wish to help others from a Christian perspective.
After watching “The Haunting”, a program dedicated to the true stories of evil spirits and their haunting of individuals or homes, I was amazed at how little people understood about the dangers of the demonic. Many of the families were either naive, agnostic, or lax in their faith. These three spiritual states all enhanced the power of the devil or evil spirit in their home. After writing an article or two or occult influences and how Christians should respond, I figured I would relay some of the information here for the blog and other Christian Counselors.
How to deal with a haunting? The haunting can be of two natures. 1. It can entail a benign spirit who needs prayers, or 2. it can entail a malicious spirit and/or fallen angel. Haunting can also be termed infestation. The entity is tied to an object or place.
What is Spiritual Hygiene of the Home?
In most of these cases, spiritual hygiene is important. As one cleans their homes, they should also spiritually clean it. Blessings can be annually by oneself or a minister/priest. In addition to this, pictures of Christ and crucifixes in most if not all rooms is a good idea. Catholics also put St. Benedict medals on all entries to the home, as well as buried on all four corners of the property.
If dealing with an infestation that is not benign, one should try to find the history of the home, or if any odd objects were left from the previous owners since objects can carry attachment to evil spirits. Second, a minor exorcism of the home is required. In this case, the home owner or legal authority is to go into each room with holy water and a crucifix and command the entity in the name of Christ, his saints, St. Michael, and our Lady to leave and never return. Symoblically, windows should be left open. In addition to this, some cultures also encourage the burning of sage. Some cases, also require priests or ministers to aid, but usually a homeowner has enough power in Christ’s name to deal with it.
Another problem are curses. The reality of witchcraft, the occult, and white magic is only to real. Curses are not magic. but evil incantations or prayers where one asks an evil spirit to focus
itself upon you. These curses can be battled with a good holy life and sacramentals. A man of God should never fear the power of Satan. If armed with Holy Spirit, any curse can be rendered powerless. Most curses effect secular people who do not have the spiritual defenses necessary to battle it. Christian Spiritual Counselorscan help people discover the defenses necessary.
Finally, demonic oppression or obsession is a final case. This is a preliminary to possession and usually is a haunting of a human being. The demon is attracted to the person for some reason and hopes to utilize the person’s vessel. Obsession can occur due to mere attraction, or due to occult practices. One who visits mediums, plays Ouiji Boards, or other occultic games can awaken the presence of a demon. Sometimes the demon is attached to someone who enters into your life. In some cases, children are given to Satan and later in life deal with removing the entity. Some people even deal with demonic abuse. Holy men such as Padre Pio and others dealt with demonic activity as victim souls. Similar to a blessing of a home, one should treat the person the same way. If you are a parent and your child speaks of an imaginary friend and the child’s behavior starts to change, you may want to bless your child and do an exorcism of your home. You may also wish to have a priest or minister bless your child. Like a home owner, a parent has legal authority over his child and can in the name of Christ fight the demonic entity.
During spiritual warfare, do not be surprised for a battle. Lucifer and his demons will fight back. They feed off fear and vice. If confident in our savior, and only with him at your side, you can defeat the evil one, but it will be a spiritual struggle. One that in the end,will strengthen your faith in God.
If you are interested a Christian Counseling Certification, please review the program. Our Christian Counseling Training Program can help prepare future Christian Counselors.
Christian Counseling Training Program : Christian Counselors Can Help People Have A Healthier Faith
“Thy will be done” was the final submission of Christ’s human nature to his divine nature and Father. He asked for the chalice to be passed but did not demand it. He accepted the outcome of his gruesome torture and death because he saw the will of the father before his own. He did not demand that a legion of angels slaughter the Roman garrison for his protection instead he meekly accepted his death as the will of the Father. Christ here portrays a healthy faith that is characteristic of a loving son who accepts the will of his father, realizing that no matter how bad things may get, his father will be with him during all trials and sufferings. Christian Counselingshould emphasize this submission of the will to clients.
With Christ as our ultimate paradigm, we too must accept the will of the father in times of need and despair. Too many times, Christians practice a sick faith that sees suffering and death as punishment for spiritual failures. This results in a probing questioning similar to those at the foot of the cross who demanded a miracle from Christ. “He could save others, but he cannot save himself” they proclaimed as they continued to mock him. How many times do Christians demand a miracle in times of suffering, sickness and death? How many times do Christians become angry at God because he did not produce a miracle for them but for someone else? The cynic proclaims, what good God would pick and choose among his people, but the true of faith, merely respond, “thy will be done”.
In the text, “The Unwanted Gift of Grief”, Dr.VanDuivendyk points out a very true analysis of sick faith versus healthy faith. He states that many see their relationship with God as a contract. In this contract, the faithful turn to God in time of need and offer prayer, sacrifice, and good deeds in turn for favors. This inferior faith attempts to manipulate God and put one’s will above the will of the Father. These individuals demand a miracle due to a contractual binding due to their illusionary ideals on prayer. While psychologically this falls under Kubler-Ross’ third phase of grieving-negotiating, one cannot deny that this type of negotiating results from a lack of good theology. Dr. VanDuivendyk points out that instead of a relationship of contract, one must have a relationship of covenant. A relationship of covenant believes that we are God’s people and he will always love us and guide us to our greater good. Through this covenant, good things and bad things in this temporal reality will result. In the end, we must accept both and carry our crosses, and accept this unwanted gift of grief. God will walk with us in the day and carry us in the night but in the end we must accept his will over our own. As spiritual children we may ask for favors, but in the end we must realize that not all prayers can be answered. Is this fair? Well ask Christ if he thought it was fair when he accepted the will of the Father and carried his cross for the salvation of the world. God does not preach from a pulpit, but through the Incarnation of Christ teaches through example.
Hence a healthy faith accepts the reality of miracles. A healthy faith prays with devotion and fervor.
However, a healthy faith prays not only for favorable outcome, but also the ability to accept the will of the Father and to carry one’s cross. This is the example Christ showed Christians in the garden and this is the proper theological understanding of prayer and miracles during times of hardship. if you want to learn more, please review the Christian Counseling Training Program.