Many people eventually come to believe that Christianity doesn’t “work,” or at least not for them. Truth is… “it” doesn’t. Truth is… “He” does.
The life described in the Bible is not one of rule-keeping or heartless morality or lifeless formulas. This is why trying to live “it” doesn’t work for you. See, Christianity is a relationship with the one whose name is in it. That’s why I say “it” doesn’t work but “he” does. God works. God gives life. God restores life. God transforms life. God gives meaning to life. Life without God is empty and pointless. Religion has no power to fill the emptiness, endow life with purpose, or change a single thing that you would like changed.
But if you think “work” means getting God’s help with your plans, that won’t work either. Many people think that Christianity is about manipulating God to do and bless what we want to do and want to be blessed. That just will not work. Relationships never last when we are in them for what we can get out of them. People don’t like to be used. Most people know when they are being taken advantage of, or eventually, figure it out. Besides, you don’t want a God that can be manipulated. That would be a very tiny (non) god indeed. We need a God who loves us so deeply that his mighty power and presence is for us, on our side, and not against us. Even when he has to correct us. A relationship with God only works when we go about it his way. Why? Because he made us and knows how to fill our heart with love and acceptance and our life with significance and adventure. This is where an understanding of Christianity begins.
When it comes to The Center, there is a lot and a little that could be said about how we view Christianity and how deeply integrated is in what we do. The “short of it” has already been stated. Historic Christianity, the Bible, and the life and example of Jesus Christ, informs everything at The Center. We use psychology to inform our faith—to assist and augment it—but not to reprogram or dictate to it. We set all our work on the solid foundation of God’s truth and love, expressed by Jesus Christ, and recorded in the Biblical narrative. If there is a conflict between secular therapy and Biblical Christianity, we side with the latter. Note that I didn’t say we side this or that brand of the church.
Now for the “Long of It!”
I’ve unpacked the gospel story (highlighting the relational aspects) and how we operate as a practice within that story below for those who are interested. You can read as far as you like.
I include two things below:
- First, I have summarized the Biblical story in 60 bullet statements. That means the entire gospel message, the unfolding drama of redemption as I have heard it called, is included. The whole Biblical story from Creation to eternity is covered. The “gospel” (good news) is from beginning to end built around humanity in a relationship with our Creator. See this from a broader perspective gives helpful and needed context to put the wonderful story of Jesus Christ into.
- Second, after that you will find six statements with bulleted support explaining how we functionally integrate the two, 1) psychology, secular therapy, and our culture, 2) with Christianity.
The Unfolding Drama of Redemption:
- God exists, eternal (no beginning and no end), outside of time and creation.
- God created(s) and loves us.
- His love for us is similar yet far greater than how a human parent loves their child.
- He formed humanity with his own “hands” out of the dust of the ground, through the power of his spoken word.
- Every human being, while in the womb is beautifully and wonderfully and uniquely designed by God.
- He loves us and makes us like him—in his image—so he can have a relationship with us.
- He designs us so that without this connection with him we feel like something is missing inside.
- In fact, he designed us with an instinctive drive to search for and connect with him.
- It has been called a God-shaped emptiness or void that only God can fill.
- It is a sort of internal compass that points to him, so we do not wander aimlessly through life lost without him.
- Try as we might to fill that emptiness with other things, earthly things, they only serve to make the emptiness feel greater.
- He also gave us a will that is free from his control and influence so that our choice to do life with God would be just that, our choice, not his manipulation or push-button control.
- This means that we can choose to do life apart from or without him, against his commands and instruction on how to live a good, full, and fulfilling life.
- In fact, the first couple God created, man and woman, Adam and Eve, made the choice to disobey him and make their own decisions based on their own wisdom and will.
- This created a rift between God and humanity that still exists today.
- Living a meaningful and happy life, as was mentioned above, will always be futile when attempted apart from him.
- The rest of creation is now against us—animals, plants, and even the dark and evil angel Satan and his minions—trying to make life difficult if not rob us of it altogether.
- But even after all that, God is for us, not against us.
- He did not leave us in the dark, left on our own to figure out how he designed life to be well-lived.
- He provided specific instructions through multiple sources – prophets, books, creation, a conscience, the Holy Spirit.
- Since God is holy, we need to perfectly keep his commends, in purity (holiness), because he can only connect relationally with other pure (holy) lives.
- Because perfection is impossible for us, and since he loves us and wants to be in relationship with us, he made a way, first by the sacrifices of animal’s lives—shed blood—to cover (pay for) our sin.
- This system was imperfect or incomplete because it had to be repeated over and over to cover continued sin.
- But this sacrificial process was purposefully designed to both outline the requirements and foreshadows a better way that was still future.
- At a time that God appointed in ages past, he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to be the better sacrifice.
- The name “Jesus” represents his humanity, born of a human mother-the virgin Mary.
- This would later allow him to stand up for us, to represent us, and die for us, in our place, so we could go free from the just penalty of sin.
- The name “Christ” represents his deity, born from heavenly “seed” and not an earthly father.
- This allowed him to live a sinless, perfect life, never sinning, unworthy of death as punishment for sin, and able to then lay down his life for others.
- While we were still sinning Christ died for us, once and for all.
- All human beings except Jesus Christ sin and deserve to die as punishment for that rebellion against their Creator.
- No human being is able to earn their own salvation through perfect living. We all sin and fall short of that very high bar.
- This not only puts an immeasurable and unspannable distance between God and humanity, but it makes us his enemies right from birth.
- When we are born, we are far from God with no hope of crossing that divide caused by sin (rebellion, self-leadership, rejection of God, and his rightful “lordship” or leadership).
- Sin is clearly a problem, but it is not the problem. The separation from a holy (pure, Perfect, unblemished) God that our sin creates, is.
- The forgiveness of sin by just and right means approved by God also removes the unbridgeable chasm between God and humanity, if we believe and accept it.
- Our sin is not pardoned, as if excused, buried without full compensation, and unpaid for.
- Jesus Christ gave himself up, in the greatest example of obedience to God and cooperation with his plan, in our place.
- This substitution that Jesus Christ made for all who accept it, fully meets the demands of God’s justice. Not a pardon only but payment in full!
- “In full” means past and future sins – those we committed and any we will commit.
- Death is the cost (wages, what we earn, deserve) of sin, and without the shedding of blood (death), there is no forgiveness.
- Jesus’s humble, obedient, unjust, undeserved, demeaning, selfless, and loving sacrifice was so perfect and precious to the Father, that is sufficiently covers all sin for all time.
- Jesus was silent before his accusers, flogged, tortured, mocked, humiliated, stripped naked, crucified (shamed, cursed), pierced, and all willingly.
- Jesus was not technically killed; he gave his life up willingly. Not in some sort of weird and selfish suicide but to protect others who neither saw nor acknowledged their peril and who could do nothing to protect themselves even if they did.
- This gift that God offers us, when accepted, forgives (removes) sin… And so much more!
- It removes the barrier, the unscalable wall between us and God, and blows it away!
- Opened as if it were an impenetrable, impassable parapet, thick enough to absorb and stop any energy propelled against it by any object, the temple veil was rent clean in two, by God’s own hand, from top to bottom, symbolically declaring that we can now, through Jesus Christ, come boldly and safely to God in a relationship.
- We are no longer enemies or slaves to sin. We are brought near, adopted into his royal family, made his legal children (“true Israelites,” true sons and daughters of Abraham the father of promise), given a royal inheritance in heaven.
- Jesus Christ, God’s son, becomes our “elder brother!”
- We share in his inheritance including victory over sin, death, and Satan.
- This is symbolized by the fact that we share in Christ’s resurrection from the dead and re-admittance into heaven and a seat, the seat, at the Father’s right hand, with his enemies under his feet.
- Jesus’ resurrection showed that his death was not his death but ours and so he received his life back.
- It also proves that victory over death has been secured. We all die as Jesus did, but that physical death is not a lasting death because it is not spiritual death (eternal separation from God).
- In fact, we are called “Saints” or holy ones which position allows us access to—connection, relationship—the holy God.
- Those who believe this truth and accept God’s provision and leadership are from that point on without condemnation before God because their life is “hidden” (protected, safe, unassailable, untouchable, free from stain, clean, perfect, holy) in Christ.
- While God is eternal (without beginning or end), the new (new birth) life we receive from God is everlasting – having a beginning within time but without end!
- God comes to live within us, making us his temple, his dwelling, a “house” if you will for God, made without hands.
- This forgiveness is God’s gift to us, unearned, undeserved, presented while we are still sinning, while we are still just as we have always been, and not because of anything we have done or will do.
- All who receive/accept this gift are called to follow Christ’s example, to live as he did, doing nothing on our own, by our own will or plan, only doing what we see God doing, where he leads, joining him in what he is working at, doing our assigned part.
- As Christ was, we are to reflect the face, the character of God, to others, as God representatives or ambassadors, calling others to the same “salvation” and life we now have.
We preach Christ…
We teach in a spirit of profound common sense
so that we can bring each person to maturity.
To be mature is to be basic. Christ!
No more, no less.
How We Integrate Culture & Christianity
We Are Christian
We provide, above and before all else, a Christian service.
- Everything we do is intentionally Biblical, or not contrary to the Bible.
- Everything we teach and advise about life is informed by the pattern Jesus set.
- We employ psychology and what can be learned about the invisible, immaterial self, as long as it agrees with Biblical teaching.
- We are not Christ-followers who employ purely secular and clinical beliefs about human healing and recovery.
- We are Christ-followers who use extra-biblical knowledge of how God created us to augment what the Bible tells us about living well.
- We make no pretensions about being a clinical, licensed, practice.
- We believe that God can and will heal any and every personal wound for those who request it and will cooperate with Biblical teaching.
- We believe that the healing of emotional, realtional, and spiritual aspects of human woundedness has already been provided for by Jesus Christ.
- There is no past that God cannot heal–nothing is done to us or by us that is “unredeemable”–freeing us to live well, albeit, with a limp or scar.
We Are Christians
We are a Christian practice staffed by Christians.
- We are a Christian practice (in theory, strategy, vision, values) and our staff are Christians in practice (habit, life style, devotion).
- We are Christians who put the ancient scriptures before and contemporary secular beliefs and practices.
- We have no staff who are clinicians and not Christians and do have staff who are Christians and not clinicians.
- Our people may or may not be educated, trained, or licensed as mental health practitioners.
- We have no animosity toward the academic or medical approach to psychology in its many forms.
- We freely use psychology acknowledging the great contribution is makes to the helping profession.
- Finding them complementary we integrate psychology with our Christian faith, refusing to operate from either one exclusively.
- When the two disagree and cannot be reconciled, we put the Bible over psychology.
- We are first people who know and love the God of the Bible and work out of our own relationship with God to help others.
- We hire people who meet that requirement, and if they are dully sanctioned to practice, that is secondarily beneficial.
- As freely as we received, we give (Matthew 10:8b, 2Corinthians 1:3-7)
We Are Christ’s Representatives
We share God’s love to heal eternal souls as passionately as we share his love to heal broken hearts and lives.
- We believe that mankind’s primary need is to be brought back to God and it is our privilege to make God’s appeal for him as his representatives (2Corinthians 5:18-21; comp. Colossians 1:19-22 ; 1Timothy 2:5-7).
- We were created to be in relationship with God, to know him personally and experientially.
- Without this relationship, life will be hollow, meaningless, and frustrating and the human heart will feel empty, incomplete, and long for something more.
- Without God no amount of wrenching on the soul will lift people out of an empty and meaningless life and into peace, joy, contentment, and fulfillment, not to mention due to reverence for God.
- We believe that the salvation offered by God is not primarily to forgive sin but to restore us to relationship with him (the end)… by forgiving sin (the means).
- This core need and critical lack is the first thing we strive to “heal” in people’s lives – to reconcile them to God.
- Holiness is simply the conditions on which our relationship with God is based and grows stronger and less hindered.
- God desires holiness from us (because he loves and wants to be in relationship with us) before he wants comfort for us, and “discomfort” is often the way to greater purity and dedication to God.
- The focus of the believer’s life is not to be on correct actions or not sinning, but on knowing God deeply and following him fully.
- A relationship with God does not necessarily put an end to all our suffering nor was it intended to.
- God gives peace and strength and endurance to weather all of life’s storms and does not exempt us from them.
- We believe that people must want God himself before they want his blessings or else they will use God for what they can get from him.
- It is not normal to live the Christian life without developing a deep and vital passion for God over time.
- Deep passion grows to be all-consuming and vital means it becomes of the utmost importance to us.
We Are Unashamed
We hide nothing that we are or believe and are ashamed of neither.
- We do not hide from or apologize for being Christian or Christians (Romans 1:16-17).
- We are not combative, demeaning, pushy, superior, rude, or apologetic about it.
- We are proud to provide a service to our community that is distinctly Christian and beneficial.
- We work hard to be known to provide safe, secure, professional, affordable, and quality service.
- We seek godly people who are called and gifted by God to lead others into an ever-growing relationship with and surrender to, God.
- We are teachable students who continually strive to improve our craft, both in our Biblical knowledge and our understanding of the human psyche.
- We are healed people who, with skill and compassion, share what we have received from God with those who are open to the same experience.
- We take our calling and role in our society seriously.
We Offer Something More Than & Other Than Counseling
Pure psychological (for the mind & emotions) counseling is valuable, and seldom enough.
- We offer spiritual counseling—not therapy, or psychoanalysis—that is good for the whole person, body, soul, and spirit.
- We are thankful when people have gone to traditional therapy because it makes our job easier.
- Therapy lets them talk with someone who will genuinely listen, helps them connect their present struggles to their past, and encourage them to dwell on life-giving thoughts.
- Yes, medicine can help us get and keep personal mental health issues under control.
- No, using medicine does not necessarily demonstrate a lack of faith in God.
- We will refer without hesitation whenever we find that a person’s deeper issues require someone with greater education and experience.
- Knowledge, (self)awareness, perspective, connection, discovery, closure, physical remediation, a practical tool, an encouraging word, a listening ear, a mental discipline, a cognitive redirect, are all eminently useful…
- But more is required.
- Humans are integrated beings so their emotional, relational, physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects cannot be separated.
- Every human struggle is a spiritual struggle on some level and a holistic approach to treatment includes all these interrelated parts.
- We specialize in the spiritual but do not underestimate and certainly do not neglect the role that they all play in life.
- Only God can heal the wounded heart, freeing us from the deadening disease of nagging guilt and shame, painful memories, cruel abuse, pugilistic words, pervasive deception, and debilitating bondage.
- Only Jesus Christ secured and shares the victory we need to win the invisible war.
- When/since therapy is not enough, we provide the vital missing piece.
- That “piece” (peace!) is Jesus Christ who alone can truly and permanently transform lives.
- Jesus free us from the prison of suppression and releases us to express our true selves fully without the fear of what else may surface if we do.
- He is the more-than-therapy “secret” transformative weapon that we have experienced and gratefully share with everyone!
We Are Fellow Travelers
Our understanding is that we are all on a journey, and no one has arrived.
- We are all in different places on that journey.
- We are like a mountain sherpa helping you climb higher on your ultimate quest.
- We may be further down that road than you, but sometimes not a whole lot further!
- We prefer not to stand facing you as if to parent but should to shoulder to encourage, embolden, and strengthen you.
- We share our story with its victories and defeats when it is relevant and will help you feel less alone.
- Whatever you (think you) are looking and longing for, we are here to help you find… him.
- We are each the hero (main character) in our own story.
- We position ourselves as little more than a (humble) guide that shows you how to reach your full potential… in him.
- Our counsel is designed to help with present struggles and equip people for future struggles so they are better able to draw on a growing relationship with God and handle life from that foundation.
- We strive to help people know (gain first-person experience with) God deeply and follow him fully into his unimaginable and fulfilling dream for them.
- If we point you to God, he will make the journey we call life, worth living (John 10:10).