The “Abide and Abound” Approach

to Christian Counseling

by Scott Lownsdale, Ed.D., LCPC

I believe that Christian counseling should be distinguished from any other form of counseling. It must be truly be worthy of the name it bears. You believe this too, or else you would not be seeking a Christian counselor, right? As Americans, we live in a pluralistic nation of many worldviews. Although it really doesn’t matter too much if your dentist or medical doctor shares your worldview, the worldview of your mental health provider does matter! Any therapist who does not share or understand your Christian worldview will be far less equipped to help you than one who does. You’re a Christian, you take your faith seriously, so you want a therapist that shares your Christian worldview. You have a right to psychotherapy that is fully consistent with your personal worldview. 

So in addition to assessing and treating your condition as professional mental health care provider, I will also offer counseling fully consistent with our shared Christian based on the authority of scriptures and our shared set of Christian beliefs.

So let’s be clear on what Christian counseling really is: Christian counseling invites Jesus Christ into the center of the counseling process, in which I, the professional counselor, help you, the hurting individual, experience love, joy, peace and other “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) in the context of your particular set of stressful circumstances, no matter how painful or difficult. 

How? By helping you discover how to abide in Christ meaningfully until you are bearing spiritually fruit abundantly even in your pain and unique set of stressful conditions. This is why I call my approach the Abide and Abound Approach to Christian Counseling. In this approach, I will help you learn how to directly experience God’s grace, comfort and strength in your current set of conditions and circumstances –through abiding in Christ like a branch to a vine — until there is a positive, lasting difference in your life, as proven by the spiritual fruit you can fully expect to bear in abundance, starting with the fruit of love, joy, and peace.

Along the way we will use the scientific method for assessing your clinical progress, based on:

1) Objective reports: how others report you are doing (such as your family members),

2) Clinical judgment: how your therapist (me) and any other healthcare providers view your progress

3) Testing: your results on with QPASS, the psychological test I developed for such purposes.

I will be happy to work with you until you are free of the symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and addictions, to the greatest degree possible, over a given length of time, hopefully, until you no longer meet the diagnostic criteria of a mental disorder. Any psychological distress associated with your medical conditions (such as thyroid disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADD, etc.) will be given due consideration in my assessment and treatment, and I encourage a full medical examination and your compliance with appropriate medications.But I will still want to help you experience love, joy, and peace and other the fruit of the Spirit even with your medical conditions.

But first let’s recognize that love, joy, and peace are emotional experiences. And as you probably know far better than I, depression, anxiety, resentment — which fuel our addictions and unwanted behaviors — are feelings. You experience them automatically in your set of circumstances. Why? Because you are, in the natural sense, a human being: a physical, psychological, and social creature subject, like all of us, subject to the effects of adversity, stress, your biological temperament and constitution, and physical states due to diet, sleep patterns, drugs, chemicals, and any physical pain you suffer. But you are also a spiritual creature, and more than that — if you are a born again Christian — you are given a “new nature” (Col 3:10) that is fully equipped to receive God’s grace, comfort, and strength, even in your set of painful circumstances.

Note carefully that love, joy, and peace — like anger, depression, and anxiety — are also experiences. Millions of Christians worldwide report experiencing love, joy, and peace daily, even under great hardship, and I want you to be no exception, especially while you’re in this dark valley. When genuinely received, God’s grace, comfort and spiritual empowerment produce immediate results love, joy, and peace: the direct opposites of anger, depression, and anxiety.  are called “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22). Over the course of your Christian counseling, I will help you directly interact with God in your suffering until you are genuinely experience Him. How? By helping you learn how to the practice of abiding in Christ fruitfully in your dark emotions and under the powerful temptations of your addictions.

Abiding in Christ (also called “the practice of the presence of God” or “walking in the Spirit”) is a supernatural experience that produces supernatural fruit, starting with love, joy, and peace. If love, joy, and peace were not supernatural the Bible would not call them “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22). Abiding in Christ results not only in love, joy, and peace in the immediate moment, but also other fruit of the Spirit over the course of time, because as you become more consistent in abiding in Christ, in a wider variety of diverse situations, you can expect other spiritual fruit to develop and even become part of your character: “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, against which there in no law” (Gal 5:22-23). There is more fruit as well: good works that you do as the life of God flows through you. Moreover, after the counseling is discontinued, and you have successfully learned how to abide in Christ without my help, you can expect to employ your talents and spiritual gifts far more fruitfully, in ways that others benefit (the fruit of spiritual prosperity described in Psalm 1:3) and also to be a source of comfort and counsel to others later, for God comforts us in our affliction so that we may be able to comfort others with the comfort we received (see 2 Cor 1:4). 

And as you bear this spiritual fruit more abundantly and more consistently over time, two things will happen: God will is more glorified in your life and you become more and more deeply satisfied. Now why is that? It’s because God has appointed you, as a branch of Jesus-the-Vine, to bear fruit (John 15:16), in abundance, and God is all the more glorified when you bear fruit abundantly (John 15:8). No less than a grape-grower is glorified by the vines bearing grapes, no less than an orchard owner is pleased by apple trees bearing apples, God is glorified and satisfied by your spiritual fruit. And you are satisfied as well, no less than an eagle is not satisfied unless it soars the skies, to the glory of the eagle’s Creator. The only thought more heart-breaking than an eagle that is grounded, and acting like a chicken, pecking around the ground in a barnyard, is a Christian not bearing fruit abundantly and “soaring on wings like and eagle” (Isaiah 40:31). 

So let’s sum it all up. When you supernaturally experience God’s grace, comfort, and strength, through abiding in Christ:

  • Depression is transformed into joy.
  • Anxiety is transformed into peace.
  • Anger and resentment turn into love and forgiveness.
  • Addictions are replaced by self-control (a fruit, not a feat). 

That’s my “abide and abound” approach to Christian counseling, tried and test over the last quarter century. Sound to good to be true? And yet all this spiritual fruit is exactly what we should expect will happen in you if the Bible is true, God is real, and you are a born-again Christian appointed to bear fruit in abundance through God’s grace, comfort and strength. For Jesus said: “You did not choose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16).

I believe that I am here for you to help you fulfill my calling to help Christians like you bear fruit more abundantly through Christian counseling worthy of that name. But when we are talking about “Christian counseling” let’s make absolutely sure that you and I are talking about the same thing. 

Seven Characteristics of Christian Counseling 

A Christian counseling session, worthy of the name it bears, should always consist of the following seven characteristics, for which I will strive in each session with you. If you want more detail, simply click each characteristic below:

The Three Stages of Your Counseling Journey

In our first session, after I gain a clear picture of the problem with which you are struggling, I will help you establish and articulate several clear personal goals for your counseling experience, and together, you and I will establish a workable plan that makes sense for achieving those goals. After our first meeting, there are typically three stages of your counseling experience with me:  

Stage 1. In the first stage of counseling, in which we usually meet 1-2 times per week (perhaps more, depending upon the severity of your distress), you will learn two new skills. First, you will learn how to identify your unique triggers, negative emotions, escape routes/addictions, and schemas. (For more information on these concepts, feel free to read about them in section below). Second, you will learn how to abide in Christ in a meaningful way until you are genuinely experiencing love, joy, peace and other fruit of the Spirit in your distress or emotional pain. Typically, these skills are developed in my office as we process your emotional pain together, with occasional homework assignments and tools for you to learn and apply in between sessions.

Stage 2. In the next stage — in which we we meet every 1-2 weeks, you will learn how to abide in Christ more fruitfully in between our sessions, in real life situations, until love, joy, and peace become the norm, instead of the exception, and the character traits of “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:23) become more and more consistent in your life, especially in more challenging situations after you have been able, with God’s help, to “burn the bridges” to your escape routes.

Stage 3. In the final stage, in which we meet less frequently, such as once a month or so, you will learn how to more continuously abide in Christ fruitfully, but with less and less of the “training wheels” of professional counseling support. Usually, in this stage, my clients are functioning at a much higher level, having learned how to be fruitful in a wider variety of circumstances, without their “escape routes” and are able to exercise their spiritual gifts and talents far more fruitfully. During this stage, you may actually be able to help other hurting people experiencing very similar problems you have overcome with God’s help.

A final wrap-up session. Finally, we would conclude your counseling experience with a final wrap-up session, in which you and I would review your progress and establish a good discharge plan that keeps you abiding fruitfully in Jesus-the-Vine. Such a plan may include the option of return visits for “tune-up” sessions as needed.

That’s all you really need to know before setting you first appointment with me! But if you want to know MORE about my particular approach to Christian counseling — and be better prepared for your sessions with me — please read the following, which offers more detail on my “Abide and Abound” approach to Christian counseling. Otherwise, you are now prepared to return to the HOMEPAGE, download and print the five PDF forms, and call me (815/229-8750) to set your first appointment!

More Details on the “Abide and Abound” Christian Counseling Approach

Scott Lownsdale, Ed.D., LCPC

Here, my “Abide and Abound” counseling approach is provided below in more detail.  This approach has served hundreds of my clients well over the last two decades or so, helping transform depression into joy, anxiety into peace, resentment into love, and addiction into self-control. I have also shared this material in churches and in college courses for lay ministers and pastors to help them become more fruitful in their counseling ministries. It has taken over 25 years to develop and refine this approach, and I want to share it with others to help their ministries as well. I want it to be even more easily understood and more practical in application. So if you have any questions whatsoever on my approach, or if anything here is not crystal clear, feel free to share your comment or questions with me. I hope to either be able to attempt to answer your question and if needed, I will change the material to make it more clear, accurate, and easily applied.

In the course of your counseling, I will assist you in finding the connection between your triggers, the painful dark emotions you experience, the underlying negative constructs causing those dark emotions, and your escape routes, that is, your defenses and addictions that you use to run away from your own mental and emotional experience. Then, I will help you burn the bridges to these escape routes. Why? So that you can learn how to abide in Christ in your painful emotions until you are experiencing the fruit of the Spirit —  love, joy, and peace — more abundantly and consistently in your day-to-day life. But first, let’s talk more about the meaning of each of these terms:

Dark emotions are those distressing feelings that you keep experiencing such as sadness, anxiety, and anger. We all experience sadness, fear, and anger or irritability from time to time, but when these feelings are both intense and prolonged — morphing into depression, anxiety disorders, hate and resentment (often at the core of relational conflicts and addictions) — they signal an fundamental problem we have in learning how to be happy and fruitful in the real world, in which reality does not match our typical desires and expectations, and death, sickness, divorce, pain, hate, injustice, war, and heartbreak are ever present realities. Dark emotions can cause great stress to the body and brain, and sleeplessness, which is why I support to judicious use of psychotropic medications in the course of therapy.

The fruit of the Spirit begins with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22). Notice first that love, joy, and peace they are heart-felt experiences. Notice also that these three emotions are directly opposite to your negative emotions: resentment, depression, and anxiety. The fruit of the Holy Spirit also includes patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22, 23). Note that the Bible describes self-control (NOT a feature of our addictions) as a fruit, not a human feat. The fruit of the Spirit is produced only in one way: by abiding in Jesus-the-Vine until the life of God — the Holy Spirit — is flowing through you, as consistently and as abundantly as a river through your soul.

Triggers are people, places, things or events that stir up your dark emotions: depression, fear, and anger. Contrary to what we often think, mindlessly and without deeper reflection, triggers are not the direct cause of our dark emotions. And that’s good news, because if people, places, and events (past or present) were the real cause of our unhappiness, we would have to change the world today before we could all go to bed tonight happy, peaceful and content.  The problem we need to focus upon isn’t what others do, or what happens to you, or has happened to you, but, instead, your reaction to these things. And your typical reactions are NOT love, joy, and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23), or else you would not be paying me to be your therapist, right?

Negative constructs (also called schemas) are deeply embedded, “I am” beliefs that many therapists and psychologists believe are at the root of our dark emotions, such as as “I am no good . . I am worthless . . . I am a diseased cell in the universe . . . I am alienated/alone . . . The future is hopeless.” These thoughts are powerful! They feel so real and seem so true, and most of us have not paused long enough to examine them or understand what they really mean, nor do we have a firm grasp on understanding the source and origin of these thoughts. So most of us, most of the time, avoid, consciously or unconsciously, these thoughts and feelings at all costs. How? Through what I call our “ADD” : our Addictions, Distractions and Defense mechanisms.

In therapy we will refer your ADD escapes as your “Escape Routes From the Cross,” which I’ll discuss in more detail below. Unless your ADD is deeply examined under the light of God’s grace through Jesus, and with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, your addictions, distractions, and defenses become rigid over time as they are mindlessly applied whenever you’re triggered and feel distressed from your dark thoughts and emotions.

Through time and repetition, your addictions, distractions and defenses can become so solidified as patterns in your life that they can become indistinguishable between your character traits, as you gradually disconnect from your own deep inner experience, putting more and more distance between you and your existential core: the center of who you are, as you become less grounded in your own being. The Bible, along with poets, call your center, the core of who you are,  your heart or soul. The process of distancing or divorcing yourself from your heart and soul — the core of your existence, the center of your experience — is what 21st century psychologists are now calling experiential avoidance. Think of it: you are avoiding your own experience!

Over the last 25 years of counseling suffering people in their darkest hours, I have found it helpful to boil down the legion of negative “I am” constructs (which are seemingly endless) down to their five basic themes — Worthlessness, Alienation, Rejection, Powerlessness, Emptiness, and Degradation (or Disgust). I have found that without exception, one or more of these five negative constructs (easily remembered using the W.A.R.P.E.D. acronym) accompany each dark thought or emotion my clients experience when triggered, and when not engaging in their addictions, distractions and defenses.

As a Christian therapist, I view these five “I am” schemas not merely as thoughts in the head, or fleeting feelings in the heart, but as deeply embedded experiences at the core of our being, universal to the human experience, and at the core of all major religions, as well as the drivers of all addictions, distraction and defense mechanism. The though “I am” is experienced only by two beings: God (the great “I AM,” Ex 3:11) and humans. No other creature experiences “I am” – ness  because no other creature is made in the image of God. Science has yet to explain why humans experience this sense of “I am”- ness, and no psychology has been developed that explains why humans are born with and continually experience the six WARPED constructs.

I have looked long and hard, and — with both a masters degree in clinical psychology and a doctorate in counseling, have studied and been trained in all the major theories of psychology —  have found no parsimonious explanation for these constructs in every client I have counseled for the last quarter century. Except one, encapsulated in one word: SIN.

Sin, the Bible teaches, is not merely what we do. It is what we cannot “not” do, unless we become new creatures and, after becoming born again, abide in Christ fruitfully. Otherwise, we can’t do anything that is contrary to our true nature. Can a leopard change its spots? (Jer 13:23). Can a bad tree bear good fruit? (Mt 7:18). No, on both counts, of course not. Sin, like a leopard’s spots, or a diseased species of tree with abnormal genetics, is hard-wired into the spiritual and psychological DNA of every human being. Sin is in our core, our human nature, and the sin nature is what each of us are born with as a result of the Fall of Humankind described in Genesis 3. That’s right: When Adam and Eve, in response to the serpent’s deception and temptation, ate from the Tree of Knowledge from which God had forbidden them to eat, and were expelled from Eden.

Sin. So what is SIN, anyway? Sin is the attitude of “I am my own god” (Gen 3:5) with which we are born due to the Fall of Humankind described in Genesis 3. But our Creator says “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Yet we are born with sin; it’s in our spiritual DNA. No, God does not hold you responsible for having the heredity of sin (Ez 18:20), but He does holds you responsible for your response to your sinful condition. Like a crack baby addicted to heroine, you are born powerless in ruling over your sin nature until you are born again of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:3) and get a new heart and a new spirit (Ez 18:31). If you are born again, you have a new nature “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col 3:10) through Jesus’ finished work, His shed blood for our sin. But that does not prevent you from experiencing the WARPED-ness of your old nature, the sin nature, which the Bible calls “the flesh”, which will cling to you like your skin until you physically die. So being born again does not make you immune to negative schemas, dark emotions, or your ADD escape routes. Born again Christians still have the sin nature, and continue to sin, daily, when we do not abide fruitfully in Christ the Vine (more on that later).

Simply put, sin is the WIDE GAP between your true identity — which is the image of God in which you were made (which theologians call the Imago Dei — and your conformity to that image. You will never understand yourself or others until you recognize that every human being is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). The Imago Dei, your “I.D.” is at the core of your being, and is the basis for what America’s founders called the “self-evident truth” that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable right, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A self-evident truth is just that: so clear to the one able to behold it that it can never be successfully disputed by any argument to the contrary.

But in addition to what the America’s founders saw as the firm foundation for building a new nation, there are other self-evident truths that accompany the Imago Dei. For example, our spiritual I.D. also communicates to each of us the fact that we are called upon to live up to, that is, conform to the image in which we were created.

I’ll try to explain what I mean here. I have counseled many people who have been adopted. As children, teens, but especially as adults, adoptees who do not know their biological parents almost always want to know all everything about them: what they looked like, what they did, and everything they can possibly learn about them, all the way down to the most minute details. Why? Because they were made in the image of their parents. They want to learn more about their origin. If there are admirable traits in the parent, they want to “live up to” the image in which they were made, and bond as deeply with the biological parent as they can. As a counselor, I have encouraged and seen very positive changes in my adoptee clients who have re-connected with their biological parents, often with the full approval and blessing of the adoptive parents as well. When adoptees connect with a biological parent, it is often with a sense of closure and a more firm sense of identity.

In a similar way, we want to know God, through Christ, who IS the image in which we were made (Col 1:15). As His children, we want to bond with — reconnect with — God the Father. If our lives are going in any other direction, we are, the Bible says, like lost and wandering sheep. And what better describes people who try to establish an identity without God, in the image they are made? Thankfully, we can bond with God, through but only through our true. I.D. And the image of God — our I.D. — is in Christ. The image of God IS Christ, for “He is the image of the invisible God”  (Col 1:15). As Christians we want to live up to, and conform to the image in which we are made. And that happens only when we are born again (Jn 3:3) and abiding in Jesus-the-Vine.

But I suspect that if you are like me, you are a born-again Christian who is probably not abiding in Christ and conforming to His image consistently. That truth — of not conforming to the image of God in Christ through abiding in Christ — causes you and me to automatically be reminded of who and what we really are without Christ. In those times that we are not abiding in Christ fruitfully, and conforming to the image in which we were made we will — if not numbing or distracting ourselves through our escapes and experiential avoidance — feel the power of one or more of the five schemas constituting the “DNA” of the universal human condition: Worthlessness, Alienation, Rejection, Powerlessness, Emptiness, and Degradation/Disgust.

The WARPED-ness resulting from sin — the wide gap between Christ and our conformity to His character — accurately and truthfully defines who each of us really are and how we really feel when we are not born-again in Christ or, if we are born again, it defines how we really feel when we are not abiding in Jesus Christ in a way that conforms to His image and, like a branch to a vine, the life of God, like sap, is flowing through us fruitfully.

I agree with secular psychologists who believe that our schemas are not caused by current stressors and triggers. That’s why we call them triggers, and not causes. But unlike my secular colleagues who trace the origin of schemas back to previous traumas or adverse childhood experiences, I trace the origin of schemas back much further: all the way back to the Fall of Humankind described in Genesis 3.

Through the lens of the Bible, we can see that people, things, and events — past or present — do not cause our negative schemas and dark emotions. Instead, they “awaken” us — open our eyes more widely — to a more full view of reality: sin, evil, and a fallen world. And when our eyes are more widely open to see sin, its effects, and how it rules over us, others, and this fallen world, we rightly see how woefully ill-equipped and unprepared we really are to deal with sin, both in ourselves and others . . . without Christ.

So we need to fulfill the calling of the image in which we were made. We need to to have that wide gap between the ID. and our conformity to it filled. We need to conform to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).  And we cannot conform to the image of Christ if we do not belong to Jesus, who died for our sin, so that we might be fully forgiven and have the life of God — the Holy Spirit — flow through us. We cannot be filled with the Spirit unless we are born of the Spirit, that is, to be born-again (Jn 3:3). And if we are born again, like most of my clients, we must abide like a branch in Jesus-the-Vine (Jn 15:1-8) in order to become conformed to the Image of God, and bear the fruit of love, joy and peace in this fallen world, and with our old sin nature we have until we physically die.  Our only alternative to being born again, if we are not saved, or to abiding in Christ is we are saved, is to more tightly shut our eyes to the full reality of sin and a fallen world, and either retreat into delusions and fantasy or — if we are ambitiously running fast and furiously from the image in which we are made — try to create a fictitious utopia on earth, if only for the short time we are here. In either case, we distance ourselves more and more from God, from others, and, yes, from the core of our very being: the image of God within each of us, the I.D. of the soul, as reflected perfectly in Christ, to whom Christians are called to abide like a branch to a vine until we bear abundant fruit, starting with love, joy, and peace.

Escape routes are those quick, short-term solutions you have found for escaping, numbing or distracting ourselves from the anguish caused by our schemas. Escape routes are part of experiential avoidance, the process of trying to avoid our own dark thoughts and feelings and painful memories. Our particular paths of escape are often shaped by our unique biology, temperament, environment, and how we learned to cope with painful experiences as we grew up. In counseling, we will discover your set of escape behaviors, and, after equipping you with tools to abide in Christ fruitfully, make a plan to burn these bridges from your painful experience. Examples of escape routes are:

  • Addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, substance abuse, food addictions, sex addiction
  • Preoccupation with tasks and work (“work-aholism”)
  • Controlling behaviors (being a control-freak)
  • Defense mechanisms (projection, scapegoating, controlling behavior, etc),
  • Rage behavior (anger produces an adrenaline rush that feels a lot better than hurt and fear),
  • Thrill-seeking behaviors (also providing adrenaline rushes),
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Manic episodes
  • Phobias (avoidance of anxiety-arousing stimuli),
  • Anorexia / bulimia
  • A LEGION of others, many of which are categorized and described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

In response to your addictions, distractions, and defenses, I will help you learn how to abide in Christ through eight steps, described below, until your are experiencing self-control. Self-control is a spiritual fruit (Gal 5:23) not a human feat.  These eight steps can be remembered more easily through the S.E.A.R.C.H. M.E. acronym:
S=Seek. Seek God’s help in showing you the dark thoughts and emotions that you are fleeing from in your addiction by praying: “Search Me O God” (Ps 139:23)
E=Express. Express each dark thought and feeling to God, as David does in the psalms.
A=Ask. Ask for God’s response to each dark thought and feeling He reveals to you.
R=Receive God’s 3 responses, starting with His GRACE for your guilt and shame, 
C=Comfort. Next, receive His COMFORT for your pain and dark thoughts driving your addiction. .
H= Receive His STRENGTH as you hear Jesus say: “My power’s made complete in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
M=Be Mindful. Make a firm resolve not to “stop” acting out but to stop doing it “mindlessly.”
E= Examination. Instead of mindless acting out, examine your heart (1 Cor 11:28; 2 Cor 13:15). 

Abiding in Christ(see John 15:1-9). You are not expected to endure your painful schemas alone. Jesus Christ is risen, alive, and very much present (“I am with you always” Mt 28:20) and makes full provision for your own sin, the sins committed against you, your pain, and your weakness through His grace, comfort, and power. He simply wants the Christian to “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). To abide in Christ means to deeply interact with Jesus. You cannot deeply interact with Him until you get real with your own heart and who you are without Him. As you walk with Him, talk with Him and cling to Him as tightly and as desperately as a branch clings to a tree, in the pain of your schemas, His life will flow in you and through you until you bear the fruit of love, joy, and peace. Abiding in Christ is not a one-time event, but a continuous process. Being born again does not immunize you from depression, anxiety and anger. Only abiding in Christ will make you fruitful. We know that you are abiding in Christ when, like the branch of a grapevine bears grapes, you, as a branch of Christ-the-Vine, are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, and peace, even in your suffering. Most problems with anger, depression, anxiety, and addictions are remedied when a person learns how to do two things: 1) Go down deep into the dark thoughts and emotions of their hearts, rooted in their schemas, and 2) experience God’s presence in these dark valleys until the fruit of the Spirit is experienced deeply and outwardly evident to all.

I witness almost daily in my counseling practice how love, joy, and peace is genuinely felt by deeply distressed people — many diagnosed with severe mood and anxiety disorders — when they learn how to experience Jesus into the darkest valleys of their pain. Hence, my job as a Christian counselor is two-fold: First, to help hurting people experience Jesus’ presence as we process together, in my office, their darkest thoughts and emotions, and secondly, to teach them how to abide in Christ in between sessions so consistently that the fruit of the Spirit becomes more and more the established norm in their lives.

Copyright 2018 Scott Lownsdale. The material of this website may be quoted provided that a clear reference to is made to both the author and this website.