God’s Hope for the Alcoholic

God’s Hope for a Wrecked Marriage

It is always interesting when someone calls saying his or her spouse is in need of counseling. You know right away who they think the main problem is! But, there was something different about this call. His extreme concern for his wife was apparent in the urgent, almost desperate, tone of his voice, and we soon found out why.

This was the first of many phone calls from this particular husband. He was never rude or unkind, but persistent. His wife was a woman experiencing deep anguish in her soul. She was saturated and overflowing with shame. Her soul was being tormented because of what she had done to damage her marriage.

With the type of events that had taken place, the typical marriage would have ended in divorce. When they came in for their first meeting with their counselor, we knew how relieved the husband was! The Grace Center as a training facility understands the value of having those in the ACBC certification process in observation. Even though they had agreed to have observers, the wife was extremely uncomfortable and unsure about what she had gotten herself into; in one of the earlier sessions she felt outnumbered and trapped. After sharing a few choice words, including swearing and yelling, she rushed from the counselor’s office, then the lobby, and then out the front door.

Thank the Lord, the wife’s story does not end there. The counselor was soon in quick pursuit and caught up with her outside on the sidewalk. She consented to return to counseling, and future sessions were never boring. Even though she was back in counseling, she was always agitated and full of shame and anger.

Much time was spent giving hope that the reason Christ came was to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1). The Lord came to save people like Paul (who was a murderer) and Peter (who betrayed the Lord when it counted the most) or the woman who was caught in adultery.  The Lord was not only willing to forgive her; He also had the power to save and heal their extremely damaged marriage.

For several months the husband and wife came in for counseling and the counselor opened God’s Word to share with them the mercy, grace, and hope we find in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Over time, the Lord began to soften the hardness of the wife’s heart. In one of their sessions, they studied God’s lovingkindness, His chesed. Could God really love her and be willing to forgive her of her sins? Was His lovingkindness meant for her? She was learning that God was willing to forgive her; His lovingkindness extended to her!

One of the meaningful homework assignments was to listen to a song by Rend Collective titled “Second Chance.” Some of the words are, “Countless second chances we’ve been given at the cross…. Fragments of brokenness salvaged by the art of grace. You craft life from our mistakes…. Black skies of my regrets outshone by this kindness. New life dawns over my soul.”

It was evident the Lord was speaking to her heart and new life did dawn over her soul. It was a beautiful day when she asked the Lord for forgiveness for her self-centered life and turned to Jesus as her Savior and Lord. That session began the wife’s new life in Christ and new life in her marriage. She not only asked the Lord for forgiveness but also asked her husband. He understood how much Christ had given him undeserved grace and granted her forgiveness. They were reconciled.

Now the details of their marriage could be dealt with, and they could work on building healthy skills into the relationship. The Lord did miraculous things as they did their homework, practiced new skills, and learned a whole new way of viewing marriage. They learned what it means to have a godly relationship.

At Christmas, the husband gave his wife a new Bible. In it he shared,

To My Beloved Wife, with My Deepest Love

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

The wife’s baptism was also a time of great rejoicing shared by her husband, two sons and the counseling observers. In her testimony she said,

Before Christ, I lived life doing what I thought was best for me. I knew I was a terrible person and did not think God cared about me. I struggled believing God loved me no matter what I had done.

I came to know Jesus as my Savior by coming for counseling, reading His Word, and being around other believers. I knew I was a sinner but learned that is why Jesus died on the cross He died for my sins.

I received Him as my Savior. I cannot thank God enough. It is beyond my words and I try to express my thanks to Him every day. I am thankful all the time. I am also thankful for everyone He brought into my life to show Me His salvation. I continue to grow in my understanding of His Word every day. My life is happier and complete because of Jesus. I am being baptized today to publicly show I am a follower of Christ.

Today, the wife continues growing in the grace and knowledge of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When the couple celebrated their 30th anniversary the husband reported, “We’ve never been closer.” This is a modern-day miracle and shows the wonderful power of the Lord and the principles of His word to transform lives! We thank the Lord for allowing The Grace Center to have a part in this salvation story.

Trusting God in Challenging Times

My counselor helped me by using the Bible to encourage and challenge me to see my life circumstances as part of God’s plan. She helped me see that God’s ways are always perfect, and I can trust Him.

Learning About God’s Provision, Even for Besetting Sins

“Show me God’s provision” was my request as I started with The Grace Center. I was deep in sin and struggling to find the way out. Although a Christian, my relationship to Jesus Christ was not as strong as it should be, and my prayers for relief seemed to go unanswered.

Someone recommended I try biblical counseling, and at this point in my life I was ready to try. My counselor immediately went to the “heart” of the problem. That’s right, my heart was where all these things were taking place. I learned about heart idolatry: loving anything more than God. I learned Bible verses that spoke to the issues of my life. I was taught “put-off/put-on” from the Bible, learning to shed bad habits and to replace them with Jesus. We worked through Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, and what insight this brought into my life!

My time with God has improved, my Bible study is being strengthened, and I spend almost no time thinking about the sin that had so easily beset me. Thank you, Grace Center and Counselor, for a new design for living through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Trading in Dry Bones for Some Good Medicine

I came to the Grace Center over 5 months ago at the urging and recommendation of my husband and a great friend. (I think her exact words were, “I want you to fill out the questionnaire, send it into the Grace Center and call me when you’ve done that!”) Evidently, they could see the cracks in my heart that I thought I was successfully covering up. The Holy Spirit used the book we studied and the weekly questions my counselor gave me to open my heart and my eyes to things I knew were true, but was having a hard time truly accepting and living out.

My husband has noted that I do not seem to be on the verge of tears – or in tears – all the time anymore. And this past Sunday, an acquaintance came up to me and said, “I wanted to let you know that I have been watching you and I do not know what is going on or what has happened, but your face has changed, and you are just beautiful!” I mentioned that I had just complete 5 months at the GC and she said that that’s been about the amount of time she has noticed the change. She, too, did some counseling to help someone with their ACBC certification and has reaped the rewards of such godly counsel.
Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” I’m not a finished work, but a work in progress. I’m thankful to have traded in my dry bones for some good medicine!

Help With Depression

My counselor had a perfect balance of listening to what I had to say and directing me towards scripture. She also cared enough to give me a spiritual kick in the pants when needed. She helped me to identify the root causes of my problems as well as wrong attitudes and bad doctrine. Through scripture, she showed me what God says about these issues. She always pointed me back to Jesus, and how important it is to intentionally spend time with him every day. It takes a special skill set to be able to show someone the error of their ways without being judgmental. She is encouraging like a sister. She constantly reminded me that God has given us all the tools we need to deal with whatever situation we face. I feel that the counseling has enabled me to be able to grow as a Christian, free me from many of my fears, and be able to turn my attention back to Jesus. When this happens, it is impossible to be stuck in the pit of despair for long.

Help in Navigating Marital Ups and Downs

Ephesians 4:22-24 states that we need to ”take off the old, renew in the spirit and put on the new.”

We have been married for 37 years. As many couples have also experienced, we have had many up and downs, conflicts, births, deaths, sicknesses, moves, job changes, raising toddlers to teens, weddings, grandbabies, caring for aging parents, losing both parents in the same year, and the list goes on. What we realized is that we are all going to have problems, and we all have sin as we live in a fallen world. What is important to do is to identify the sin, confess the sin, and do it no more by taking off the old and putting on a new way of thinking, and most importantly forgive the sin and the person as Christ forgave us. This whole process will allow healing, growth, and for each of us to love one another as Christ has commanded us to do. We cannot thank Steve and The Grace Center enough for helping us through this most difficult time in our lives and marriage. We are deeply thankful and grateful for the time and love that Steve Clifton and The Grace Center poured into us.

Help in Parenting

We are so appreciative of the spiritual guidance given to us by The Grace Center. Our counselor helped us, using God’s Word, to navigate through and overcome our family problems. We definitely live in a difficult world, but we know that in this world we must be firm in the love of Christ and his promises. Our counselor’s advice and prayers strengthened us. We were truly blessed to know him, and we love the way that God uses him to help people in need to know the truth through the Word of God.

Help with Grieving the Loss of a Spouse

I would definitely recommend The Grace Center for counseling. My experience with my counselor was so very helpful. Meeting times were convenient, and it was so helpful to even have a meal together. The sudden loss of my husband was so hard, and my counselor walked me through this difficult time in my life, while taking me through scripture and prayer. She was especially helpful since she has walked on the same path.

Some specific scriptures that were helpful to me were Psalms 5, 16, 23, 34, 40, 42, 46, 55, 62, and 151; Isaiah 41:20; John 14:1-6, 27; Philippians 4:4-9; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 1:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; and others. I have prayed the Lord’s Prayer at times over and over when I did not know what to pray or during times when I could not sleep. I learned that I did not have to tell everybody everything and answer so many questions. I need to try to remember to eat right, try to get some exercise, and get some sleep, if I could. God knows what we need before we ask. I am trying to focus on Him, not on my problems and trust that He will provide my needs and lead me, even during a pandemic. Also, I realize it is hard sometimes for others to know what to say to me or may even say the wrong thing. I try to keep that in mind. But I know that He will hold me fast!

Help for Past Mistakes

My counselor was no nonsense but at the same time her compassion was very evident. She gave me great class and homework assignments that focused on my special hang-ups. She reminded me of the Biblical and Christian resources to keep me focused on solutions rather than the former strongholds of past mistakes and choices.

Help for Trials

The biblical counseling I received at First Baptist Jacksonville was and continues to be a tremendous blessing to me. My weary heart was tenderly shepherded by their faithful prayers, patience, and careful navigation through the trial of which brought me to them. I am immensely grateful for how the Lord used this ministry to bring me further clarity, encouragement, and healing. I wholeheartedly recommend their faithful counsel to others.

Help with Walking with the Lord

Before coming to Biblical counseling, I was very insecure and undisciplined in my relationship with Christ due to a life of abuse, poor training in Biblical womanhood, lack of fear of the Lord, and my own sin. Working with my counselor at The Grace Center was a tremendous blessing to me as I was able to share my suffering and struggles while being pointed to God’s Word faithfully by a true Titus 2 woman. My counselor provided me with the structure, discipline, and truth that I had lacked for many years; my counseling with her was pivotal in making me a stronger Christian and helping me to develop hope and strength in Christ’s ability to care for me even in the midst of my and others’ shortcomings.

Help with Depression

My counselor had a perfect balance of listening to what I had to say and directing me towards scripture. She also cared enough to give me a spiritual kick in the pants when needed. She helped me to identify the root causes of my problems as well as wrong attitudes and bad doctrine. Through scripture, she showed me what God says about these issues. She always pointed me back to Jesus, and how important it is to intentionally spend time with him every day. It takes a special skill set to be able to show someone the error of their ways without being judgmental. She is encouraging like a sister. She constantly reminded me that God has given us all the tools we need to deal with whatever situation we face. I feel that the counseling has enabled me to be able to grow as a Christian, free me from many of my fears, and be able to turn my attention back to Jesus. When this happens, it is impossible to be stuck in the pit of despair for long.

Help with Anxiety

When I first started going to The Grace Center for counseling, I was suffering greatly from anxiety to the point where I was regularly having debilitating panic attacks and was always uncertain as to what I was supposed to be doing with my life, always concerned about the future, even my physical health was being affected in harmful ways through sleeplessness and lack of appetite. As I started the counseling, though, I began to see how little I had been trusting God. I saw just how much faith I was putting in other people and myself, neither of which held much control over the world and neither of which could bring me peace, but as I began to learn to trust the One who has all control and who is the Prince of Peace, I found that I had a more joyful look on life, no longer worried about the future, and while I know that God’s not done working in me, He’s shown me how to trust Him so that I can make it through the hard times when they arise, because He is still in control. I am extremely grateful for the Grace Center and I have learned to see just how mighty and powerful God is and has been through the regular reading of the Bible and seeing the promises that He has made and will keep, and to those promises I hold fast.

Help for Marriages Impacted by Pornography

Our marriage was being damaged by pornography and poor communication. Through confiding in godly people who walked us through biblical counseling, God worked in our marriage, and we were helped. I am so grateful.