Is Christian Counseling A Valid Form Of Counseling?

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Please may you excuse my unedited thoughts as I typed them out on this blog post, which I may want to edit later.

I found a blog post that caught my eye, entitled, “Beware of Christian Counselors” by an Ohio man named Bruce Gerencser.

It caught my eye because of the title which led me to believe that Christian counselors may not reflect values, principles and teachings of the bible.  As we know, many churches have fallen away from the faith and are teaching false doctrines ranging from the New Apostolic Church, to gay teaching from the “Queen James Bible”, or the Unity Church, Church of Scientology and others.  Who knows what mixture of humanistic, new-age and other forms of pagan religions are out there these days?

So I read the blog post thinking I had found an ex-counselor like myself who has been trained and working toward licensure, I was surprised to learn that he had been a pastor in a few churches and had found in his life’s journey that he did not believe in God any more; he had become atheist.  He shared his gripes about pastoral counseling and the negative experiences he had learned about it’s being used.  His story had an unexpected twist.  I fully did not expect this as I began reading.

He brings up a quote from Wikipedia’s definition of Nouthetic counseling;

“The aim of Nouthetic Counseling is to effect change in the counselee by encouraging greater conformity to the principles of Scripture.”

He brings up an example of a woman who receives counseling from a pastor who does not share her “egalitarian beliefs” and how her pastor’s goal is not her help her but to “get her to conform to certain theological beliefs”.

I don’t understand what’s bad about learning correct eschatology.  But, when it comes to pastoral counseling where I’m told one is to “be the love of Jesus in the room”, it is a hard concept to grasp.  After all, Jesus did teach people the wrong ways of their lives, he gave his life for all of us and threw the money-changers out of the temple.  But, he was not a “counselor” per se.  His whole reason for being was to teach that we have all sinned and needed to be forgiven, and He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life to do that.  His love was so great that he died for all so that we may be forgiven and live in heaven one day after the body died.

There are issues here about how counseling is used in the world today.  Counseling has become somewhat blurred the way the bible has; Christian counseling does not exist, other than to explain the gospel and hope that a person will seek God out.  God gives life and is the Creator and knows best what mankind needs; we do not.  Yet the bible is used as a form of counseling “support” in that certain bible verses get used to “heal” a person, but that is not what the bible is about at all.  Jesus healed but did so as a way to prove that he was truly God in the flesh, and referred to himself as being “God’s Son” which meant to the Jews that he was God and of God that they knew about in the Pentateuch.

God’s Holy Spirit comes from the belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, understanding who he was when he was on earth and who he is today.  It is a gift from the Lord Jesus, and is given to those who truly believe in Him as Savior and Lord, none other and who has the gift of telling a person in so many ways that they must do this or that, I believe, as we are drawn to do the right thing in a matter.  This blog cannot begin to explain how God moves us to be good in our words and deeds, nor how we are given strength to get through our toils on earth, and on and on…

I am telling you only a very elementary description of God’s Holy Word and how he saved us from our sin if we want to know and be near to Him.

It seems that Pastoral counseling can give support to marriages and single people alike but the goal is to bring people to a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, ultimately.  God is the great Counselor among other gracious things, in his loving kindness and as our loving Father and Holy Spirit that guides us.  They are One.

Counseling is best done by someone who is wizened to the fact that everyday counseling done by counselors out in the field are not trained in the works of the Lord.  They do not know God and so have a limited understanding of how to heal someone.

Now some of you are snickering; mankind cannot “heal” people – it is Our Creator who is the one who heals people, because he created us, and mankind can only prescribe helpful and supportive treatments.  But the body’s magic in it’s healing is not inspired by mankind; it is the Creator who put the healing properties in humankind’s bodies and He alone can take our health away and/or make us heal right.  If He doesn’t, He may be taking the side of the person who wishes to go without God in his life, or he may have another reason, that we don’t know about to make a person not heal.  

In his Word he rewards us with healing, prosperity or punishes us by letting us go farther from Him in people’s sin, because personal choice is afforded to all humankind.

What this blogger misses is that the Bible is not about Social Justice, nor is it about healing done by mankind, but is about how Jesus told mankind about their sins, and that he would take their sins upon himself and die on the cross for us so that we can be forgiven for being the sinners that every one of us is.

He paid the price for all of our sins and gave us Himself, by his Grace and our faith in Him alone, to forgive us and cleanse us from sin, so that we may live on for eternal life in His presence, instead of being separated from His love for us, and for eternity.

Counseling, in today’s world is based upon an atheistic view and that is not compatible with Christian faith.  Every topic that a person comes in to see a counselor for is most probably going to be the result of a person’s sinful natures since we are all born into sin.  No one understands sin really being that they only label homosexuality or abortion as sins.  They don’t understand all the hatefulness in a person’s heart that is at the base of all sin.  Hatefulness is rebelliousness against God’s love and direction.  Understand Eve’s fall in the book of Genesis and you’ll see more about her rebellion against God’s instruction.  The instruction He gave out of love of his children.

My point about counseling today is that with all one is taught in counseling school, on the one hand, being there to listen to someone’s pain with empathy, offering support and maybe resources is all well and good, but a kind person can do that.  Learning to sit for long hours providing your personal attention, care and learning some of the tools of counseling while being paid to do so may also be found helpful to some – or many people.  

What is counseling meant to do?  Ultimately, as a counselor you walk with a counselee (or client) to help them solve an issue: a behavioral problem in themselves or a family member, having suicidal tenancies, self-harm, addiction, emotional problems, or whatever.  You come up with a treatment plan, or a “care plan”, and then you assign tasks or homework, you listen and provide helpful feedback or ask gentle probing questions so that a client looks at the logic of what they are saying.  There are millions of such tools in a counselor’s toolbox if they have the right experience, and are intelligent and seasoned, caring “therapists”.  

But what happens with the person the next time they run into an issue that becomes overwhelming or they need someone to “bounce things off of”?  These are things which they learn to go to a human for advice and therapy.  How much does it help?  Maybe it brings some temporary relief but who is the Creator of all mankind?  Why would our Creator be the one left out of a counseling session?

More can be said here but I’ll add another issue which brought me to a crossroads about quitting being a counselor:  clients who have issues which I cannot support them in that go against my Christian faith.  How would I be able to help them?  Clients seeking abortions, or are “transitioning” to the opposite sex, or problems in their same-sex marriage or becoming a same-sex attracted person, would be some examples of those clients which I could not help walk their path.  I could not condone those things.

So, getting back to the blog post that intrigued me in the beginning.

He felt counseling is done by mankind, as if mankind can solve all the problems brought to them but with no Jesus Christ to invite into their lives.

Again, the bible is not a manual for how to counsel people.  It shows us who God is, what Jesus did on the cross for us and why we need Him.  It does not tell us we are to solve problems of others on our own.  It is a book for the believers to know and trust God, the One True God and it’s not about social justice warriors, social issues of the day nor what we ought to do with our children who want to change their genders. 

It definitely is not about how God is a lesbian, gay man or about homosexuality as being a way to marriage, definitely not!  People have turned the bible into all kinds of things because of the sin in everyone’s life and in the world from the beginning of mankind in the Garden, but because people don’t know the bible, they can get away with saying all kinds of things that are made up versions and published versions by mankind.  The same mankind who want to become counselors teaching empty bible verses and applying them on today’s problems like a fortune cookie quote would.  That’s about the extent of it.

In the blog article I read I may have been a bit misled by the title but now I’m afraid I’m a bit mad at how the author bashed the Word of God, as if knowing God and reading the bible could not help someone – yet it can.  He may not have been a true believer in the first place and so has turned to the worldly ways of mankind to help him get through some of his problems.  But God’s blueprint for learning his ways and who he is is found in the bible as we read more and learn more through the Holy Spirit that guides us.  If you don’t know the bible and don’t truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, how can you tell us what is possible through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ who has given so much to us all and promises eternal life with Him?  Sure we will be tested through life, but his strength delivers us in a manner that strengthens our knowledge of Christ, if you believed.

Otherwise, a kind, worldly unbeliever may be the band-aid to help you through tough times.  He may be used by the Holy Spirit to help someone, as it is God’s desire that all men are saved, but some will not be because they fail to seek and truly want to know God.

Pastoral counseling is really a person that knows God, can kindly advise and pray for someone and teach them in ways to seek Christ in their trials.  That is the best way to start helping someone, by encouraging their faith in Christ Jesus.   Becoming a state-licensed therapist and then calling yourself a “Christian counselor” does not make sense because you are still using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, or “DSM” which was created by atheist/agnostic unbelievers in Christ Jesus who were against God and so developed their criteria of what mental illness is.  Putting a state license first using diagnostic criterion by unbelieving psychiatrists who do not know God should not be the criteria to treat or help a person with mental health issues.

The mind is the workings of the person’s very soul, being and identity.

We are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies, (or, if you will, embodied minds and minded bodies). (Anonymous, 2003)

Psychiatry doesn’t have the ability to treat the mind of a person since they can’t locate the specific pieces of a mind that may need treatment.  Doctors are not able to pinpoint the breath of life that God gave us, firstly in Adam, then in Eve.  They give overall generalities of behaviors or bizarre ideas of people and label these as “symptoms” of a diseased mind or one that is “sick” in some way in books like the DSM or other medical texts.

Here we get into their ideas of causation and medical treatments including counseling which do address those symptoms but do not exactly “heal” a person.  A person’s soul and human behavior are seen as the person’s nature which is viewed differently in the Christian life vs. secular life.  Secularists view the person’s soul in as many personal views of each person’s such as something that will be reincarnated as another animal or life, or is an unexplained part of a person’s life that is inside of their physical body.  It is not attributed to being the part of a person that goes to the arms of the Lord when the person’s body dies, which is what true Christians believe.

Christians have a definite belief about a person’s soul and a person’s very soul is intimately tied to their mental faculties, feelings, ideas and capabilities.  Whether or not they sin has to do with their being a believer or not; a believer will be led away from sin.  While Christians walk the earth they are cleansed mentally and in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.  This does not happen in the secular world.  God is a Holy God and we are being made ready for when we die and reach heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ.

So the mind and heart of a person may be wrongfully led and counseling can endorse rebellion against the Creator who made all life.  If you are seeking help my advice would be seek God first and find healing and peace and rest in His love for you, since that is the way in which God created humans in his Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve walked as friends of God’s.  

We are not higher in knowledge than our Creator.  He has the way and is the light to follow in our trials here on earth.

There is so much more to be written about secular counseling and Christian counseling.  These are only my musings of today although I have had many thoughts about my life as a former counselor and what led me to become one before I became a believer.  It makes one wonder…

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references:

https://www.masters.edu/news/biblical-counseling-v-pyschology.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3115284/

Quick Notes On Christian Counseling

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     As I try to keep up with my bible course in counseling, I will attempt to share some of the points that I heard when I listened to a portion of the lesson tonight, which take a turn into my own concepts of who God is in the counseling relationship. I share here some of the thoughts I have, because I’ve had the chance to become educated in secular psychology, and formerly worked as a therapist.      Continue reading

Plant The Seed: Let God Do The Rest

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In my notes about biblical counseling in my last class, the instructor talks about the question of how a Christian can counsel unbelievers.  He said that you really can’t counsel unbelievers, because they have a different world view, and they worship the world, and what mankind tells them.

I do know that talking about our problems with a kind, good listener can help the soul, and it really can help us get through a day where we’ve become stressed by life.  However, the root cause of a anyone’s issues is truly found in the soul.  They are saved, or they are not saved.  That makes the difference in counseling by a biblical counselor.

If you go to a spiritual counselor whose soul is not with the “living” souls saved by Christ, you won’t understand a biblical counselor who talks about sin and how it may be a root cause of their troubles.  God can only work so much through the life of a sinner, who is unrepentant, and who is not seeking Christ.  The instructor said, “The mind set on the flesh is dead”.

Instead of counseling unbelievers, Christian counselors provide more evangelizing.  Unbelievers may take it or leave it, but it may have planted a seed they find useful later on down the road.  It is offered, Christ as the solution to their problems.  God changes the heart to cause the inner, personal transformation.

Our souls must be washed, and we must leave lives of sin once we have become saved.  Our viewpoint about what we should do in our problems must become Christ-centered.  An unsaved person will have the opportunity to seek Christ’s counsel in the bible, through prayer, and through the wise counseling of other believers.  They will want to find answers in worldly ways yet not find our Blessed Hope, with the hope for eternity that gives us such joy.  

They might find temporary helps but the nagging knowing that something keeps going wrong in their lives will always dog them, it seems.  In my life it did.

Know the bible well enough to counsel others and let God do the rest.  He may operate in someone’s life to soften their heart – and then they may come to Christ – but what good does it do if he puts a hand out to ask someone if they will accept his Lordship, and they refuse?  They miss the understanding that to get right with the Lord Jesus Christ means to get right in their very souls.

Some say we have been chosen since the beginning of time, that God knew who would be given to Christ as being saved.  As we don’t have the capacity to understand the ways of God I find that very hard to understand – but I’m blessed that I am one.  I truly believe.

 

 

Sick Souls Healed By Christ Only

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I am thankful that God pulled me out of the field of psychology.

After many bad experiences in the field; people who were unsaved, unbelievers who had their own ideas about how we could help people, but often were mean-spirited toward their clients.  I also had problems with them as a coworker, when they were demeaning, prideful, and wanting to harm my ability to practice in my field.  I guess it was a type of spiritual war with satan using people to harm my life.

Not being a true believer but having dabbled in Christianity, I suppose I was marked by “the enemy”, since I expressed an interest in Christianity on and off during my adult life.  I only guess at this, but don’t really know.

Listening to my course recording, I took more notes about Christian counseling.  The instructor, Dr. Jim Newheiser, seems very sober-minded and accurate in his dealing with the issues of why we don’t want to go into secular counseling, but would want to study the bible instead.

The bible is sufficient to train up our children, and teach us as adults, how we are to conduct ourselves in our lives.  I strongly suggest all who come here to this blog to know the value of God’s Word in being our ultimate guide in our lives.  We have our best counsel in the Lord Jesus Christ and not mankind, as it says in the bible.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. – Psalm 1:1

The value in my education and experience in the field of psychology comes in sharing with others that counseling should be biblical counseling, and how the field of psychology of man is not compatible with the biblical world view.  

Some may find it helpful to speak to secular counselors because they can share with someone that is supportive and should refrain from being judgmental or invalidating the reality of what the person says.  Many people are not trained to give time to the person, but interrupt to talk about themselves or give advice where it is not wanted.  They do not have an ability to allow the person who is talking to have space to hear themselves, and process for themselves.  It is an art form, in my opinion.  You know when to interrupt, question something they’ve said to learn more about their view, and then allow them to continue, sharing the journey of self-growth.

But that is not what the Lord calls for; it is belief in Jesus who gives us sound minds and can heal us from within.  We are living souls who need soul-health.

A standard of healing based on man’s understanding of man is not sufficient to heal.  A dying soul needs Jesus to heal them, to redeem them, to mold them into the image of himself.

Our training as counselors may observe man’s behaviors and know the language that the secular counselors speak and teach, but the short-fall is that they don’t have a way to address the soul-sickness of mankind that is not saved.  There is no middle-ground, no compromising the world-view of the Christian. 

Psychology relates to those who’ve rejected Christ and was built around an atheist and secular world-view.  We cannot expect that world view to be of help to a dying, sick, soul.  Only Christ can do that.

How Depression May Be Caused By Moral Choices We Make

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Listening to the sermon about spiritual counseling – and by that I mean Christians providing counseling services – the speaker who might be Wayne A. Mack, author of the book, “Introduction to Biblical Counseling“, made me think about what I had done in the past in the area of providing mental health counseling.  I may have the name of the speaker I am listening to wrong, only because the recording does not provide an easy way to know who is doing the speaking.  I wish they’d made that clear.  

I do know that one of the instructors in biblical counseling that I am listening to online is Wayne A. Mack and the link goes to his book found on Amazon.

The segment that I am listening to today talks about depression.  Having the symptoms of depression in the past, I have come to know the devastation one may feel when they are feeling depressed.  I took notes on the segment in which the speaker talks about the moral values and choices people have and that they may be the underlying reason for why a person feels depressed.

As we know, there may be brain issues going on in something like depression but when clients describe enough symptoms that it indicates to a clinician that they fall under clinical depression by the number of boxes they can check off as a description to how they’re feeling, the DSM can indicate a diagnosis of a serious depression going on.  Medication may be prescribed, but a doctor will not know the level of a person’s serotonin.  They just guess, by what the patient describes, whether they should be diagnosed as being clinically depressed and to the point of being prescribed medication to ease their symptoms. 

If the symptoms seems to get better if they don’t take medication, the instructor said that the doctor won’t know if the moral choices that the soul makes is what has changed the person’s level of depression. 

It is sin we are dealing with in much of what we now can perceive as the reason for a person’s depression in counseling.  Why leave treatment to a man who wants nothing to do with our Lord Jesus Christ instead of look at the person’s morality – whether they choose to live in sin or not.  

A random serotonin event may be caused by whether a person’s morals have changed or not.  We can consider whether they have caused their serotonin levels to decrease by making an immoral choice.

We can’t know why the people who tell us they feel badly are feeling sad or depressed, but they may know the reason why they feel so badly.

They may have made a choice that they feel very badly about that causes them to feel sad, depressed, or lonely.  It may point to the fact that when we choose badly, we feel badly, and making the moral choices that are Godly may make someone feel better.

I hope to learn more from the class I have enrolled in to share with readers of this blog.  I am sure it will help someone along the way, which is my hope.  I pray for each one of you who comes to my blog and I hope to be of support you, in some way of which I am not sure of at this point, but in some way in these days to come.

 

Seven Major Flaws Of Secular Counseling

brown book pageI was listening to a Christian pastor discussing our current state of psychology and how secular psychology misses the mark in counseling.  He specifies important differences in the approaches of psychology from counseling from the biblical perspective.

As I’ve said here on this blog, I have several main issues for why I can’t return to secular counseling.  The lecture of the pastor I am listening to describes what I am unable to quite articulate and is very instructive. 

I am now leaning toward becoming proficient in Christian counseling and I think and believe that my role as a Christian would be to spend time teaching and counseling and having a website for these things.

Below are some of the notes I have taken from the pastor I recently listened to in indicating seven, major flaws of the secular counseling perspective of who man is.  It is astounding to hear about how mainstream secular counseling has become a smorgasbord of theories about how to make people well.

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Psychology has gone off the rails.  This field has gone literally crazy in it’s assumption that mankind were fishes that crawled out of the sea, or we developed from amoebas after nothing exploded in outer space so that man eventually walked the earth.   Every  secular college that teaches psychology courses blindly accepts this theory.

Here are seven differences between secular counseling and Christian counseling:

1) The secular humanist line of thinking stems from the belief that mankind is a type of advanced animal that can think and choose for itself.  But the bible says we were created as mankind, as explained in Genesis, that we were created by God and have not evolved from some other species over time, as Darwinian theory posits.

2) Secular humanists say that mankind is inherently good, but we know from the bible that mankind’s nature fell, and we cannot help but sin against God, man’s creator.

3) The secular humanists say that mankind gets to choose right from wrong and makes these choices intelligently, but the bible tells us that that the way man thinks is right leads to death.

4) Secular humanism says that we have no soul and that we are “just a body”.  Electrons bounce around in our brains, that consciousness is just a physical function of your body.  We know from the bible that our souls go to heaven and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins.  Without His dying at Calvary we would have no hope of continuing life with him for eternity.

5)  Secular humanists refer to psychology as a “science”, but it is immeasurable and more of an art form than a pure science.  There are more than 250 theories about mankind in the study of science, and more are being added according to man’s theories he creates according to how a therapist finds it most effective to treat certain condition.  Christians know that we are created in the likeness of God and that the bible teaches us how to live our lives; praying, reading the bible, caring for our brothers and sisters in the Lord, doing “good works”, helping others, and treats our illnesses compassionately.  He does not tell us that our mentality must be divided into theories of treatment dreamed up by someone in psychology in order to make someone whole.

6)  The premise of secular counseling is that mankind knows best how to heal mental illness, not God.    The father of modern psychology is often thought to be Sigmund Freud who said that the unconscious mind governs behavior and psychoanalysis would bring the unconscious forth to the conscious to enable people to have control over their behavior.  The field of psychology rejects the Father in Heaven and does not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  

7)  Secular psychology puts man above God.  In counseling, the client is often asked what their goals are while in Christian counseling, people are taught how to deal with life’s issues the way God teaches in the bible.

I’m sure there are those of you who know more differences between secular humanist thought and Christian belief that could be listed here.  Feel free to put them in the comments section.

Although I’ve said that seeking support and seeking someone to talk to is not wrong in my opinion, it may just be a starting place to organize one’s thinking and feel supported to help themselves.   If, however, someone is seeking Christian advice about how to handle life’s problems and on an ongoing basis, a true Christian might be a better choice because you are getting Godly advice; you are in the hands of another Christian.

In either event my hope and my prayers go out to those who need counseling support.  I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ provides a light to your feet, and shows you the way to go.

Teaching Christian Counselors: A Training In This Comes To Mind

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

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As I was skimming over what people published on LinkedIn, I read a post about teaching college students using PowerPoint, the software that creates single slides you show your audience on a whiteboard so they follow along with what you are saying.

Attending courses I well-remember this type of teaching, where I had to create my own as a college student.  One of my memories is of taking time to create a PowerPoint presentation about student visas for international students.  I spent a long time on my PowerPoint slides, doing the research needed and then writing out the information for what I would say while I showed my slides.

Then I went on to become a University Faculty Instructor for the University of Phoenix, in Sacramento, California.  I found that the students liked my bringing in redacted case notes that were mine that I actually submitted into my client’s case files.  

Of course, the names and all identifying information was blacked out, but the one comment that stands out in my mind from a student in that particular class was, “finally, something real that we can learn from”.  It meant the world to me.

Now when I read LinkedIn PowerPoint training courses, and view them in training videos, I become very bored.  It’s not the real thing; it’s not brining actual reality to a classroom unless you can present snippets of actual pictures to tell a classroom a story.  

Teaching today can present such a boring curriculum, and students pay for this kind of teaching.  Instructors can be lax in teaching and training and fall short of the teaching they are paid to do.

Another class I attended was about group counseling and the instructor divided the class up into two large groups and she was going to let us – the students – run the groups.  She would only check in once in awhile.  Is that teaching?  Must have been a nice job where she didn’t have to do much.

As a natural teacher – I believe I am, and I love it so much – I feel I have a calling to not only do some counseling, but teaching, to convey things I have learned from the courses I have taken and share them with those wanting an education and coaching on how to counsel hospice patients, and support people who may feel lonely at the end stages of their lives.

It’s a very compassionate place to be, being present and remaining there, present for the person and appreciating their value while they lay in the end-stages of their lives.

I have often thought about what it must feel like to be in a hospice bed, knowing I was dying without Christ; and then while I know Christ.  I marvel at the difference at what it feels like.

I felt afraid, not knowing Christ, but now I am content to know He is loving, tender and kind.  I hope to live a long and happy life; yet when I die in this body I will know I am dying in the arms of a loving Savior, who knows my time will end on this earth. 

I am not afraid to die; I am a Christian believer who has no fear, except the dread of knowing I won’t want to die with a long-term malady that keeps me bed-ridden.  Like Moses, I want to be walking on my own and in good shape as an elder person and have God take me up into his loving arms as quickly as possible.  I have prayed for this, and I’m sure many others have to.

All this comes to mind as I want to create a course of study about how to be a friend to someone who is dying; and be a Christian there for a person who may want to talk about Christ during their end of life.