How Do I Feel About Myself?
“I am deeply lonely… I feel empty inside.” “I can’t be alone.” “I’m passive, drifting; I can’t even make ‘simple’ decisions.” “I’m angry.” “I’m hard-hearted and detached.” “My life is driven by a deep sense of shame.” “I’m struggling in my relationship with God.” “I desire to experience the peace that is supposed to pass all understanding.” “I would like to learn to seek others out rather than choose to isolate.” I would like to learn to relate to God as a loving Father.” “I would like to live out of the truth of who God says I am, rather than what I may believe about myself.” “What does it really mean to ‘love others as I love myself?’”
How Are My Relationships with Others?
“I fear relating honestly to others.” “I’m co-dependent… I live my life through others.” “I refuse to connect emotionally with others.” “I just can’t keep appropriate boundaries.” “I find it hard to be known and live behind a mask.” “I’m the victim of abusive relationships.” “I feel anger or hatred towards women or men.” “I have a fear of commitment.” “I want to connect with others from a place of relational health.” “I want to learn to say, ‘No.’” “Authenticity is a deep desire of mine, but it seems beyond my reach.” “I would like to learn to initiate relationships with others from a place a strength, rather than weakness.” “I want to find relational wholeness in my relationship with God so that I have something to offer others.”
How Are My Sexual Relationships?
“I act promiscuously.” “I use pornography.” “I can’t keep my own sexual boundaries with others.” “I’m a victim of abusive relationships.” “I read erotic literature and novels.” “I use or engage in prostitution.” “I have self-identified, unwanted, same sex attraction (unwanted homosexual or lesbian feelings).” “I’m married to or in a relationship with someone dealing with these sexual issues.” “I long to experience sexual intimacy as God intended.” “How can I learn to love again after having trust broken?” “I want to forgive my loved one.”
To become a voice of hope and a place of restoration for those in sexual and relational conflict throughout every community within Central Pennsylvania.
- We are a nonprofit counseling organization that provides Christ-centered education and support to individuals and families who struggle with or are impacted by sexual brokenness.
- We are an interdenominational ministry which offers counseling and support services to those overcoming sexual conflicts such as sexual compulsivity, sexual addiction, sexual abuse, and sexual identity issues, such as homosexuality.
- We strive to be a help to those who struggle with sexual conflicts, to help them to manage their sexuality to the glory of God through abstinence or through developing the ability to enter into and maintain an intimate, lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
- We help participants grow in their ability to be relationally appropriate with members of the same, as well as the opposite, sex.
- We believe our purpose is to be a model of the practical experience of the grace of God to and within the Christian community.
To bring hope and restoration to individuals and families walking through sexual and relational conflicts by providing Christ-centered counseling, education, and support.
Support Day Seven Ministries
Day Seven Ministries is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that is supported by individuals, churches, and businesses throughout the area.
“There remains then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” — Hebrews 4:9-11 (TNIV)
When Enos Daniel Martin, M.D., founded Day Seven Ministries over 27 years ago, he was looking for a name that communicated the need to “rest from our fruitless efforts to save ourselves” from the sins with which we struggle. The name Day Seven reflects the example of our Savior who rested on the seventh day of Creation. And, that is what we have been attempting to do for the past 20 years – help people find rest from their sexual and relational struggles.
Originally located in Elizabethtown, PA, Day Seven Ministries now has its main office in Lancaster and branch offices in Camp Hill and Reading. Recovery groups also operate throughout South-Central PA.
Bill began his current position as Executive Director with Day Seven Ministries in August of 2013. Before serving with us, Bill spent 22 years in pastoral ministry in California, Kentucky and New York. He graduated from Houghton College followed by Asbury Theological Seminary and later earned his spiritual direction credential from the Epiphany Institute in Pittsburgh. His current responsibilities at Day Seven include building relationships with pastors and community agencies, providing seminars for churches and community groups, and leadership and administrative responsibilities. He has a passion for helping others live up to their full calling and potential and loves to see people’s inner inspiration become real and concrete. Bill and his wife, Maria, have four children. Bill does not see clients individually at this time.
Dan is the Director of Counseling and Education. Prior to this, Dan has served as Executive Director and previous to that, Community Relations Director. Before serving with Day Seven Ministries, Dan spent 12 years in pastoral ministry with over eight of those years in ministry to youth and their families. Dan first became involved with Day Seven Ministries as a recovery group leader and completed his practicum and internship toward the completion of a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at Lancaster Bible College’s Graduate School. In addition to his studies at LBC, Dan completed classes towards a Masters of Divinity Degree at Asbury Theological Seminary. Dan and his wife, Heather, have three children, live in York Haven and attend Wyndamere Heights Evangelical Congregational Church. Dan sees clients both at the Lancaster and Camp Hill locations.
Zach grew up about an hour from Lancaster and like many others his age, was unsure what direction to go after high school. Although he didn’t have a strong pull to a particular field of study, he felt that Lancaster Bible college was a good fit to continue his education. Through various experiences and opportunities, he felt that the counseling field was where he needed to be and serve. Zach interned with Day Seven for three years and finished graduate school in 2012, when he officially came on staff as a counselor. His passion for helping and hearing others has led him to enjoy what he does, in speaking truth and showing grace through individual counseling and recovery groups. Zach sees clients at both the Lancaster and Reading locations.
Michael began his second stint serving Day Seven Ministries as a counselor in January, 2012. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from the University of Arkansas and a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology from Millersville University. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, the American Counseling Association, and the Pennsylvania Psychology Association. He, his wife, and their two sons attend Cross Roads Brethren in Christ Church in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. He enjoys reading, playing basketball with his sons, and hiking the Rocky Mountains. He is passionate about helping people to resolve painful pasts, relational difficulties, emotional dysfunction, and addictive ruts. Michael sees clients at both the Lancaster and Camp Hill locations.
Darren joined Day Seven Ministries in September 2004, after graduating from Lancaster Bible College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Life Ministry and a minor in Counseling. Darren has completed his Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling with Regions University, Montgomery, AL. With Day Seven, Darren counsels with men who struggle with sexual brokenness in a number of areas. He spent 23 years in the Air Force and is employed as a program manager at the Navy Depot in Mechanicsburg. He serves in a leadership position with the Camp Hill Church of Christ, Camp Hill, where he and his wife, Jennifer, attend. The Crowdens have a married daughter and twin grandsons. Darren sees clients at the Camp Hill location.
Craig works part-time for Day Seven Ministries as an intake counselor and in various other roles as the opportunity arises. He is the author of a memoir, “A Walk with God to Remember,” about his first wife who died of leukemia. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, he has worked in campus ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, in church ministry with an Evangelical Free congregation, in recovery ministry with Water Street Ministries, and in chaplain ministry with Willow Valley Communities. He is married to Diane and has two daughters adopted from China. Craig does intakes at the Lancaster location.
Nick received his Master of Arts in Counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. He has a Bachelors Degree from Union University where he received his BS in Business Administration. After being in the business world for six years, he decided to make a change. He worked for an at-risk youth camp where he helped families work through trauma and restore their broken relationships. During this time, he developed his passion for helping others restore relationships. This is when Nick felt called to go into counseling. Nick is married and enjoys spending time with his wife and friends. He likes spending time outdoors, but also like watching movies on his surround sound. Nick sees clients at the Camp Hill location.
Rebecca is a Licensed Social Worker who received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Dallas Baptist University and a Masters in Social Work from Millersville University. She is a Lancaster county native and lives with her husband and two daughters in the Manheim area. As a life-long resident, she is interested in addressing the strengths and growth opportunities inherent to Lancaster county culture within the therapeutic process. Rebecca is passionate about promoting the integration of spiritual and emotional health, believing that one is not complete without the other. This focus translates into many areas including individual wellness, sexual health, relational and marital health, and a variety of mental health issues. She enthusiastically supports the mission of Day Seven in promoting heart wellness first, as it is “the wellspring of life”. Rebecca sees clients at the Lancaster location.
Gary L. Lord
Gary is an experienced Licensed Clinical Psychologist passionate about helping people improve their lives. He works with those struggling with sexual and intimacy problems, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and with the elderly in successful aging. He does stress management, anger management, and works with abuse victims. He is an active member of Lancaster Evangelical Free Church. His focus in counseling is, and has been for 30 years, relationships and problems with intimacy and anything that prevents individuals and couples from achieving healthy, effective, faithful, and fulfilling lives. In addition to his clinical work, Gary has done executive coaching and consulting with businesses and organizations, and he has taught and done research at universities and colleges. He has also taught and served in various leadership positions in the church. Gary and his wife, Temmy, live in Leola. Their two married children live in Seattle, Gary’s home state. Gary sees clients at the Lancaster and Reading locations.
Daena holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Secondary Education from Shippensburg University, and a Masters of Art in Marriage and Family Therapy from Evangelical Theological Seminary. Understanding that people yearn to be freed from the bonds of sexual brokenness, Daena strives to help clients develop wholeness of soul. So many tendrils of lies permeate the hearts, minds and souls of those struggling with sexual brokenness that part of the work of therapy involves restoration; the ability to know and tell others about personal needs, wants and desires; a reclamation of the power given to us by God as people created in His image; and the ability to engage in healthy relationships with others. Additionally, she enjoys working with couples to help guide them to explore the possibilities of choosing to create a better marriage. Daena is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She and her husband, Joe, have three children and attend Hope Community Church in Mt. Joy, PA. Daena sees clients at the Camp Hill location.
B.A., M.A. in progress
Danielle Brodhecker earned a BA in Sociology at Virginia Wesleyan College. She is working on her Masters in Mental Health Counseling at Lancaster Bible College. Danielle has wanted to help others from a young age. Prior to beginning her education at LBC, she became impassioned to help restore trafficking victims. This lead her to want to intern at Day Seven Ministries where she has the opportunity to help abuse victims. Also, in helping those who are impacted by sex addiction, Danielle hopes she can impact the demand for trafficking victims. Danielle sees clients at the Lancaster location.
Casey is a recent graduate of Lancaster Bible College, having graduated with a MA in Marriage and Family Counseling. Prior to this, she received her undergraduate degree from Lycoming College, studying religion and psychology. She began interning with Day Seven in May 2014. In addition to her work at Day Seven, Casey also has experience working with individuals with substance addictions and eating disorders. She also spent 3 years working with children on the autism spectrum. Casey is passionate about being able to walk with individuals, couples, and families on the road to restoration, utilizing a counseling model that both honors Biblical truth and psychological insight. Casey sees clients at both the Lancaster and Camp Hill locations.
Wendy first joined Day Seven as a counseling intern through Lancaster Bible College. Prior to attending college, Wendy completed a YWAM DTS where God laid counseling on her heart, specifically for those dealing with sexual brokenness. Knowing education would be necessary, she graduated with her Masters in Professional Counseling from Lancaster Bible College in 2014 and continued on with Day Seven. She enjoys walking with others through their hurts and struggles as well as watching them experience victory in big and small ways through individual therapy and groups. She and her husband attend Petra Church in New Holland. Wendy sees clients at both the Lancaster and Reading locations.
Chris is a pastoral care intern, working toward a Master of Arts in Ministry Care and is able to provide pastoral care in the area of youth, families, marriage, and addictions drawing from his experience as a youth pastor and his training in addictions, crisis counseling, and group care. While he is a Pastoral Care professional who has been trained in pastoral care, more importantly he is a fellow follower of Christ who has learned from life’s difficulties how to grow in his journey with God even in the midst of painful circumstances. Chris has over four years experience partnering with others on their journeys toward healing in a group format, encouraging them toward a place of health and freedom from their battles in life, specifically in the area of sexual purity. The ultimate authority for which he relies on in the transformation process is Christ and His Word. He has completed a Masters of Divinity degree in Ministry Leadership, which is the culmination of four years of intense theological training. Chris have been married to his wife Jenn for over five years and they have a young son Ian who was born in November of 2013. Chris sees clients at the Camp Hill location.
Renee is a mother to a daughter and son-in-law and grandmother to two grandchildren. Renee’s undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology equipped her with a pre-med background, and later she completed her first Masters Degree in Business Management (MBA). In her career as an emergency manager, she learned she was able to diffuse various crisis situations. She translated these skills of conflict resolution into her passion to assist people who are in crisis both psychologically and emotionally. She started her counseling career ten years ago when she established a non-profit organization that focused on the reduction of stressors in the lives of adults and youth. Renee then completed a Masters Degree in Marketplace Chaplaincy with a concentration in Christian Counseling. She also has additional graduate hours in Professional Psychology, and has completed three units in Clinical Pastoral Education. Renee uses an eclectic style—a Rogerian style of listening combined with Reality and Cognitive Behavioral therapeutic approaches. Other therapies are sometimes incorporated as needed for a person’s healing journey. A second passion she is pursuing is the establishment of transitional housing and counseling for women coming out of human trafficking. Renee sees clients at the Camp Hill location.
Day Seven Ministries offers professional, confidential, Christian counseling to individuals, couples, adolescents, and families affected by sexual and relational brokenness issues. Each counselor at Day Seven Ministries is a committed Christian who is equipped to integrate the Christian faith with psychotherapy techniques. We approach counseling from a solid Biblical perspective, because we believe that ultimate healing and true freedom comes through an active, growing relationship with Jesus Christ, and that this relationship affects change in all areas of life.
Although each counselor has a slightly different approach to the counseling process, our idea or theory can be described as:
- Biblically based and Christ-centered
- Family Systems
- Modified 12-step emphasis and integration recovery model approach
Our professional Christian counselors will address any issue related to sexuality, including sexual addiction, pornography, sexual abuse, homosexuality, same-sex attraction, gender confusion, emotionally dependent relationships, promiscuous sexual relationships, marital unfaithfulness and various other sexual relationships. We also provide counseling for individuals who have a sexually addicted spouse and family members who have a loved one who struggles with a sexual issue.
We counsel men, women, couples, families, and adolescents over age 14.
We believe that healing is facilitated through honesty within the context of safe relationships.
Recovery Groups at Day Seven Ministries offer a place where people can talk about their struggles,
find support, receive accountability, and be placed in contact with resources to information
that will aid them in their recovery.
Day Seven Ministries groups meet weekly and are often led by men and women who were once participants. Each group is slightly different; however, all groups focus on healing from
sexual brokenness issues. Listed below are the types of groups offered:
- Men’s Recovery – for men who struggle with sexual addiction, same sex attraction or other sexual and relational issues.
- Women’s Recovery – for women who struggle with sexual addiction, same sex attraction or other sexual and relational issues.
- Wives’ Recovery – for women whose spouses struggle with sexual brokenness issues.
Day Seven Ministries’ recovery groups operate on a quarterly basis and require an individual commitment
to that time frame. However, new participants are welcome at any time. An intake appointment is
necessary for group participation. This appointment allows us to match a new participant to
the appropriate group, discuss group guidelines and confidentiality, and protect the
safety of all group members.
Groups are currently available in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Mountville.
For more information or to schedule an Intake in preparation for participating in a Recovery Group,
call the Day Seven Ministries office at (717) 735-0690 or toll-free at (866) 301-3297.
Seminars & Workshops
Day Seven Ministries staff and counselors are available for a variety of speaking engagements that can be customized to your organization’s specific needs. Seminars and workshops cover
a variety of topics relating to sexual brokenness and healing. In the past, we have presented
seminars or workshops for churches, women’s and men’s Bible studies, youth groups, pregnancy
centers, group homes, camps, colleges, and nonprofit organizations.
Conference and Workshop Topics include but are not limited to:
“What is Day Seven all About and Why Do We Exist?”
This is a general talk in which the reality of sexual brokenness is shared along with Day Seven Ministries’
vision to be a voice of hope and a place of restoration for those in sexual and relational conflict
throughout each and every community within Central PA.
“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”
If we are all supposed to be Christians, why is there conflict within the body? What does it mean to truly
live together in community, not just skip out when the going gets rough? This workshop will explore
what the Bible says about how to handle conflict with our brothers and sisters in Christ
and what it teaches us about ourselves.
“Ministering Redemptively With Hope to People Who Struggle With Same Sex Attraction.”
In our culture, people struggling with SSA are often presented with two options: learn to embrace the
attraction or learn to live with condemnation. But, there is another way. The church is to be the
hands and feet of Jesus ministering to people in their brokenness. Through the church, the
hope of Christ and His redemptive power may be extended to those who feel hopeless and
powerless over their attraction.
“Honest Talks About Sex”
This series of interactive workshops is designed to help people talk openly about sex and sexuality
and its place in today’s culture. These workshops cover a variety of topics including a biblical
overview of sexuality, perspectives on gender and sexuality, cultural messages about sex,
and why God created sex. It also addresses issues such as homosexuality,
exual addiction, and masturbation.
“What Does The Bible Say About That?”
The Bible has a lot to say about sexuality, homosexuality, gender, and God’s design for us. This
workshop explores those truths and discusses them in the context of today’s culture and
the messages being’ portrayed through the media.
“Sexual Addiction: Bondage to Counterfeit Intimacy”
Through this seminar the belief that sex is the primary means through which intimacy is found is
countered with the reality that sexual behaviors may lead to addiction which leaves a person
unable to find true intimacy with another. An overview is also provided on the nature of
sexual addiction as well as the belief system of the sexual addict. The seminar concludes
with suggestions on how to respond to the sexually addicted.
“Emotionally Dependent Relationships and Same Sex Attraction in Women”
Women thrive on relationships, but what happens when those relationships go awry? This workshop
addresses the roots and causes of emotionally dependent relationships and same-sex attraction.
It also discusses differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to guard
friendships from becoming unhealthy.
Dating & Marriage
“How To Turbo Boost Your Marriage”
A number of ways are shared to accelerate a marriage forward:
- Construct a dream
- Commitment to each other
- Enhancing or rediscovering chemistry
- Making conflict work for growth
“The Mystery of Marital Oneness”
This talk is about the sexual relationship God created for a man and woman to experience
in the context of marriage.
“Purposeful Dating in a Non-committal World”
This workshop explores healthy aspects of relationships, specifically within the context of dating.
Main points include true intimacy, conflict, and community.
“A Father’s Impact on His Son’s Masculinity”
“My daddy is bigger than your daddy!”
“Oh, yeah? Well, my daddy is stronger than your daddy!” When observing a young boy imitating the way
his dad walks or talks, it quickly becomes evident that fathers leave a powerful imprint on their sons.
This talk examines a child’s perception of his father and how this perception impacts who he desires
to be one day. In addition to this, we will examine what it means to be in the image of daddy and
why a son wants to be like him more than anything else.
“Parenting in a Porn-is-the-Norm Culture”
What is a parent to do when pornographic images are everywhere? The purpose of this seminar is to share
the reality of the culture they are parenting their children in as well as to present ideas as to
how parents can engage their children in conversations that will help them to navigate this
cultural minefield without resorting to a bunker mentality.
“What’s Facing the Teenager That’s Facing You?”
IPods, Facebook, cyber bullying, sexual norms, media and cultural influences…Do you know what your teen
is up against? Designed for parents and teenagers alike, this workshop gives parents a glimpse into
what today’s teenagers are facing, how to open conversations about those issues, and how to stay
culturally savvy in an ever-changing pop culture world.
Relationships & Identity
“Boundaries in Relationships”
Learn how, when, and why it is sometimes necessary to set boundaries in relationships. Discover
what a boundary is and how it can be used to guard and protect yourself and the relationships
that are important in your life.
“The Anatomy of a Healthy Relationship”
Learn the key ingredients for a healthy relationship, including:
- Intentionality and commitment
- Setting and respecting boundaries
- Building safety, trust, and intimacy
- Conflict resolution
- Freedom to dream
What is it? Who designs it? Why do you need it? How do you get it?
A definition and discussion on the basics of accountability relationships, God’s plan for us in
accountability relationships, and the process of putting accountability as a practical
discipline into our lives will all be presented in this workshop.
“What Am I Worth?”
Exploring How and Where We Gain Our Value
Many times we try to find our value and worth in all of the wrong places instead of looking to
our Creator. Learn what it means to be known in Christ and find our significance in Him.
To schedule a speaking engagement or for more information, call the Day Seven Ministries
office at (717) 735-0690.
Is Oral Sex Okay?!
Questions relating to sexual intimacy should, I think, be handled with what you might call verbal modesty, rather than shocking or crass words. I think dressing and talking in immodest ways are both ways. So that is kind of governing some of my language now.
These are real concerns. I am ok with this question. It is a little bit, you know, difficult and sensitive, but it is ok. People want biblical guidance and so here is my effort at biblical wisdom. First of all I am assuming the question is only relating to people who are married when I give this counsel. I think it is wrong outside marriage. And we can talk about that another time more extensively. But here is the short answer. Why? Oral sex is even more intimate and delicate, it seems, then copulation. And we know this because even married couples are wondering if they should go there. It is as if it is a stage of intimacy that may not even be proper for married people. And so to think it can be an innocent substitute for copulation so people can obey the letter of the law outside marriage is a mirage. That is the first observation.
In marriage here is what I would say. If oral sex is wrong, I can think of four possible reasons it would be wrong. I will name them and then I will ask this question. Do those four things exist?
It would be wrong if it were prohibited in the Bible.
It would be wrong if it were unnatural.
It would be wrong if it were unhealthy or, that is, harmful.
It would be wrong if it were unkind.
So let’s take those one at a time.
Number one, I don’t think oral sex is explicitly prohibited in any biblical command. If the Bible pro-scribes it, it would have to be by principle and not by an explicit command.
Number two, is it unnatural? This is a tricky one. The male and female genitals are so clearly made for each other that there is a natural fitness or beauty to it. What about oral sex? Now you might jump to the conclusion and say: Nope, that is not natural, but I am slow to go there because of what the Proverbs and the Song of Solomon say about a wife’s breasts. This is kind of an analogy. So consider this. It seems to me nothing is more natural than a baby snuggling in his mother’s arms drinking at her breast. That is what breasts are. They are designed to feed babies. So is there anything physically natural about a husband’s fascination with his wife’s breasts? Well, you might say no. That is not what breasts are for. But Proverbs 5:19 says: Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight. Be intoxicated always with her love. And Song of Solomon 7:7–8 are even more explicit, speaking of the woman: Your stature is like a palm tree and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine.
Well, even though there is very little anatomical correlation between a man’s hands or his lips and his wife’s breasts, it surely seems to be, quote, natural, in another way, namely built in delight and desire that God in his Word seems to commend for our marital enjoyment. So I ask: Well, might there be similar desires for oral sex or other kinds of sex? So I doubt that we should put a limit on a married couple based on the claim of it being unnatural. That is risky, but that is where I come down on the naturalness of it.
Here is number three. Is it unhealthy or harmful. Well, it certainly might be if there are any sexually transmitted diseases present. And it could be performed in harmful ways. And so the couple needs to be very honest and caring by not taking risks that would be unloving.
Which leads to the last one, number four: Is it unkind? Now I think this one is probably the one that touches the rawest nerve and the one that has the greatest impact. Will you pressure your spouse for oral sex if he or she finds it unpleasant? If so, then you are unkind. And it is a sin to be unkind. Ephesians 4:2. Be kind to one another. But the key word here is pressure. I know that 1 Corinthians 7:4 says the wife does not have authority over own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. And the context there is sex. So what does that mean practically? Well, it means that both the husband and the wife have the right to say to the other: I would like to blank. And both of them have the right to say: I would rather not blank. And in a good marriage, the biblically beautiful marriage, both of them seek to outdo the other in showing kindness.
This article was reprinted with permission from John Piper, the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
A Walk with God to Remember
The following is a snippet from A Walk with God to Remember, a memoir of romance in the seventies by Craig Hickey, who is a counselor at Day Seven’s Lancaster location. *********************************************
The time is after our commitment to each other, while I was in college and Mary was at our home area of Flourtown.
The semester proved to be rough on our relationship. We exchanged letters weekly, and every few weekends, we visited each other either in Flourtown or at Lafayette. Somehow, though, it just wasn’t the same as the summer. Our times together felt awkward and uncomfortable.
The pressures of our studies weighed upon us, of course. Additionally, she suffered a few weeks of sickness, which caused her to fall behind and miss a couple of tests. Our busyness stressed our weekends together.
As time went on, we sensed walls building up between us, which caused us to become sad and discouraged.
Early in November, she came up for a Friday night Fellowship Square Dance I’d organized for the fellowship, and then stayed for the weekend. Despite the study pressures, we were able to carve out some time Sunday afternoon.
“Let’s do our Bible study time,” I suggested, so we turned to 1 John 4:19-21:
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: that he who loves God should love his brother also.
Marj noted how many times the passage used the word “love” in reference to both God and fellow Christians. “You have to have both,” she concluded.
“Al Lewis, an elder from the Church in Harmony, taught on this one time at a fellowship meeting,” I recalled, “‘It’s like the capital letter L in the word Love,’ he said. ‘If you just have relationships with other Christians, and draw a line from you to the other, it is like the bottom of the L, flat and meaningless. Many Christians live this way and have a superficial Christian faith, dependent on others. On the other hand, if you have a relationship with God and ignore other Christians, then you and God form the upright side of the L, which is the word I for ego. This Christian puts himself above others, as if he doesn’t need them, because he acts as if he has a perfect relationship with God. However, if you love God and love others you form the L for love. And you have the balance between the two, not superficial and not arrogant.’ I thought that was good stuff!”
“It is,” she commented and then asked, “So how do you think we are doing with the L concept? For example, do you think you need me?”
“Of course, I do.” I quickly responded, “I am miserable when you aren’t around.”
“How about when I am around, how do you need me?” she asked.
I had to ponder that one, so she continued, “When we are together, you have the plan and you carry it through and I just do as you suggest. How do you think that makes me feel?”
“Cared for?” I optimistically suggested.
“No, I am afraid not. More often, I feel like I don’t have anything to contribute.”
“But you do,” I interjected.
“I know, but you don’t communicate that. You don’t show that. I really need to know I have something to offer that you need.”
“So you need to be needed,” I reflected.
“Yes, that’s exactly it! I need to be needed.”
“Wow, I never thought of that.” Light bulbs were going on in my head. “I am sorry I didn’t realize it. I have been so busy trying to be the leader in our relationship; I have neglected you and your feelings. You know it’s hard to depend on your contributions because then I would have to admit I need them and that is humbling. I guess I have been the independent I of the L. Marj, how long have you felt this way?”
“Quite awhile, maybe most of the semester.”
“Why didn’t you say anything to me?”
“I am sorry. I guess I was afraid to. I was guarding myself and not letting you in; I was afraid you would reject me. And as we drifted apart, I felt that even more.”
“And once the independence from each other creeps in,” I continued her line of thought, “we each react to it in each other. Marj, I needed to be needed by you, too. I need you to take the risk, be willing to die to yourself as I must do and let me in. We both need to let the other one in. Doubts grow while we are apart, so we need to risk when we are together.”
For the rest of the afternoon, we continued discussing the implications for us of the idea of “needing to be needed.” As Christians, we were taught that we shouldn’t seek to meet our own needs, but the needs of others. However, if we don’t let others in, then nobody’s needs can be met. Really, the vision of scripture is mutuality—everybody meeting each other’s needs. So we have to admit our needs to one another, we concluded.
The book is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SJF5SHI.
Trust, or Obedience?
“Trust or Obedience?”
“Go ahead! Take the fruit. Eat it. Don’t you know why God doesn’t want you to eat the fruit? He doesn’t want you to be like him. He is so insecure he can’t bear the thought of anyone knowing what he knows. Is this god really someone you can trust? Go ahead…take a bite…and you’ll see what it is like to be god.” We know the rest of the story. Eve took the fruit, ate it and shared the fruit with Adam. This is the moment everything changed.
When you consider this account of sin entering the world, do you identify the primary problem to be Adam and Eve’s lack of obedience or failure to trust their Creator? The answer you choose will shape the nature of your relationship with God, how you understand the entangling, life-sucking power of sin, and your relationships with others.
Each day we face choices, choices revealing the nature of our hearts. Wayne Jacobsen, in his book, He Loves Me! writes, “One can obey God and yet not trust him, and in doing so miss out on a relationship with him. One cannot, however, trust God and be disobedient to him. All disobedience flows out of mistrust in God’s nature and of his intentions toward us. The experience of Adam and Eve in the Garden wasn’t to demand their obedience, but to incubate their trust” (p. 88).
What was true then, is true today. How would our relationships with God and others be different if we believed God’s desire is first for us to trust him, and then to obey out of this trust? What would it be like to relate to God out of love, rather than comply with his demands and expectations from a foundation of fear? God could have mandated our obedience. He could have “stacked the deck” in such a way to increase the probability of our compliance. Imagine if Adam and Eve had physically died immediately after taking a bite of the fruit? Would things have been different for those who followed? Maybe, or maybe not. The deaths of Ananias and Saphira as a result of their deceit as recorded in Acts has done little to curb our bent towards lying to God and others.
God chose not to demand obedience because he knew “love could flourish only where trust does, and real trust could emerge only where people were free to reject it” (p. 88). God took a huge risk. This is a risk true love takes. Real trust is given life only when we are free to reject it. True, life-giving trust cannot be compelled, mandated, or forced.
When we choose to embrace this reality, our relationships with God, family, and friends change completely. As parents, Heather and I could compel our three children to obey when they were younger with the threat of consequences. Now, our twins Heath and Hannah are about to be 19 years old and Hayden is 17. While consequences may be a natural outcome of choices they make as “almost-adults,” the relationships Heather and I have with our children would be very different if we continued to compel our children to obey with the threat of consequences. Our children are free to accept or reject our love. Each one is free to trust or not to trust. Where there is trust, the seeds of love are sown and our relationships flourish over time.
So, what does it look like to live from a place of trust? If you trust God, are you more or less likely to take charge of your own life, to be your own god? When you trust God, is it more likely you will obey him and not choose to meet your needs on your own? Do you trust God to make you like him, or do you seek to earn his approval and affirmation through your obedience?
What Happens First?
Contact our office for more information or to schedule an appointment at 717.735.0690 or 866.301.DAY7, or email email@example.com. We charge modest fees for our services and no one will be turned away due to an inability to pay. Your initial contact with Day Seven does not obligate you to our counseling services.
At our Camp Hill location, Day Seven partners with Grace Like a River. Grace Like a River is a counseling and healing ministry of Shawn Geraty and friends whose passion and desire is to see people’s hearts transformed and minds renewed in the presence of Christ and the Father’s healing love. Their specialty is integrating healing approaches with professional Christian counseling that lead to transformation and wholeness in people’s lives. Grace Like a River offers counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups. They also offer seminars for churches that focus on personal growth and healing, as well as, training seminars for those seeking to facilitate healing in counseling and church settings. For more info, visit www.gracelikeariver.com
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Bethany Church of the Nazarene
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