Saturday, March 30, 2013

Controlling Your Emotions Before They Control You

I woke up Thursday morning irritable and frustrated with every little thing that was happening around me. I changed my outfit a minimum of 5 times. My siblings stared at me with horror as I ran around screaming and acting irrationally  It felt as if I was having a heat stroke with some side affects of an anxiety attack. As a woman I tend to suffer from those irregular days frequently however most of my friends do not express their irritability the way I do. I lashed out at my siblings as my emotions took control of my mind at least I felt they were. As I drove to call I was having to many feelings and I did not know how to sort them out. However God has a plan for everything. As I entered class, I prayed and tried to calm myself down from my heightened emotions. Dr. Corsini spoke about emotions and how some of us dampen, ignore, or heighten our emotions. Obviously I was the latter I have a tendency to heighten all my emotions. I basically wear my emotions on my face.  I was instantly drawn into his lecture. I felt like he was reading my mind with every word he said he dug a deeper hole into my emotions. My best friend and my sister were sitting next to me as my professor spoke they just stared at me and laughed. I have always had a problem learning to control my emotions and the article I found teaches you how to control your emotions. The objective of the article is to teach the reader how to control their emotions and to learn what stimuli trigger those emotions. The author gives a couple of stimuli that may trigger unwanted emotions such as personal finances, friends and all their problems, if you are a parents your children, the neighborhood someone lives in, the clothes you wear, your job, and sometimes your boss.
If any of these provokes your emotions you need to remove yourself from the situation that is causing you to have the unwanted emotions. First, step to control your emotions is to set aside a time for yourself to reflect and have some peace and quiet. Second, meditating as Christians it is vital that we learn to mediate on scripture and set aside a time for to talk to God and share with Him all that is overwhelming you. Visualize and control your emotions. Rely on Gods strength to get you through the overwhelming situation. This article has much information to offer those like myself who struggle with heightened emotions.
How this Applies to Christian Counseling?
            As Christian we must be empathetic to our clients situation. We will have clients that have been sexually abused and who suffer from emotional problems. If we have counselors do not control our emotions while counseling we can do great damage to our client’s mental health. We begin to experience countertransference, which is unhealthy for both the counselor and the client. 

You can read the article here.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

What If I Told You We All Have A Heart Condition?

     In class, we learned about the heart and how it is our command center. This lead me to read the following article , which tells us that we all have heart conditions. Our heart condition depends on the things that we allow into our heart's, so if the wrong things get into our heart they become deeply rooted in us and hard to deal with. As Christians we need to learn how to guard our hearts, so in turn we have to be constantly work with the Holy Spirit in order to keep our heart's safe.

   As future Professional Counselor's and Marriage and Family Therapist this relates to us because we also need to guard our hearts. We also need to realize that we can not guard our client's hearts for them because in Proverb 4:23 it says that you need to guard your heart. So, our client's are in charge of guarding their own hearts and all we can do is guide them in the right direction to achieve that. As LPC's and MFT's we need to guard our hearts, take care of our emotions, mediate, and take care of ourselves; so that we do not become impaired counselors and wound others.

     This relates to me because in certain relationships in my life I choose not to guard my heart and just trust that I would not get hurt. I was wrong for doing that because I let in the wrong things and it deeply imbedded in me to where all the relationships I'd seek after that suffered. Letting the wrong things into your heart and not guarding your heard does more harm then good believe me when I say that. Now that I have gotten all of the deeply imbedded wrongs out of my heart am I able to guard it with God's help. As a future LPC I will continue to guard my heart and teach my clients how they can guard their own hearts as well; so that they will not be weighted down with worries. I will leave you off with these verses Matthew 5:8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God and Luke 21:34 Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I deserve the electric chair. {Recognition}

Last week in class, we were talking about the process of salvation, what it means to be saved, and what it took to become adopted children of God. When we were discussing this process, Dr. Corsini allowed me to visualize the reality of Christ's sacrifice on the cross by comparing it to someone watching an innocent person go to the electric chair for a crime that you committed. This visualization stuck with me and made me think of  a scene in the movie "Law Abiding Citizen" (which is rated R so I obviously didn't REALLY watch it....) but hypothetically speaking, if I HAD seen it, I would recall the scene in which Rupert Ames gets strapped to the electric chair for murdering Clyde Shelton's family instead of Clarence Darby who actually DID murder the family. I tend to be a visual learner so when I recalled that visual, it hit me hard that I deserved the electric chair instead of Jesus, but he WILLINGLY let himself take it so as to save my life.

This brings me to my main point, I believe that, at the core, salvation begins with recognition. Not just a simple recognition of the fact that your sins were paid for, but a real life hit-you-in-the-face recognition of the depths of His sacrifice on the cross and a recognition that you so desperately NEED a savior. Once someone has recognized this, the rest of the salvation process should unfold pretty well. When we really take hold of how great that sacrifice was, surrendering becomes a little bit easier. 

In an article I found about Christ's sacrifice, Allen Dvorak discusses the previous ways of penance for sins in that people would offer animals such as bulls as sacrifices. He then addresses the beauty of the fact that Jesus' sacrifice took care of that for us. I don't know about you, but I like the fact that I don't have to sacrifice a bull for the many sins I commit because first of all, I don't even know where I'd find a bull, and second of all, I wouldn't know the first thing about killing one. My luck, I'd mess it up and then the bull would just take me out. 

How does this apply to counseling?
This section will be short because its application to counseling is pretty straight-forward. All humans are fallen and are in need of a savior. Some have yet to realize that and some have, but as we go into this field, I believe that our empathy may be stronger when we realize that we are attempting to help another fallen human who needs a savior. Also, when we have a humble view of ourselves and our need for a savior, we may become much more relatable to our clients. Better things will happen in the counseling setting (and in our own lives) when we have a real recognition of Christ's sacrifice.

My Personal Response:
My favorite part about salvation is the fact that even when i'm a COMPLETE idiot, His faithfulness is constant. I very deeply recognize my terrible shortcomings and desperate need for a savior and am forever thankful that Jesus willingly became that for me- despite me. Much of my response to this topic is already stated throughout this post so i'll end this with this picture which sums it all up pretty well: I may be a great sinner, but I have a greater savior.

Eternal Security

Eternal Security

                John Piper writes about how the book of Hebrews teaches Eternal Security in Christ. It says “if you are a child of God, you cannot cease to be a child of God”. Piper states that we need to “we hold fast to our assurance, we have become a partaker of Christ”. We can not lose our salvation. Piper explains the reasoning of why we can not lose our salvation and he says it is because God does not break His oaths that He makes with His people. Piper explains how our standing, in our salvation, in Christ can never be removed by this quote “standing can never be lost, because you have it by the free grace of God, and because Christ has promised with a covenant and an oath (Hebrews 6:17–19) to keep those who are his (Hebrews 13:5; 20–21). Our security and assurance does not come for a prayer we prayed in the past but from the faithfulness and power of God.
                I believe this can be applied to the field of counseling. One of the reasons it can be applied is because of the doubt and anxiety many people will have in forgiving themselves. Many people that seek out counseling often are dealing with stressful situations and in the midst of those stressful situations it will help them to know that God is holding them in His hand. In a sense it helps relieve the amount of pressure and stress that the client is putting on them. Also, it can help with someone who never experienced true forgiveness from anyone in their life. Eternal security is a beautiful example of Grace and forgiveness that God gives us and we should give others. 

                The point I want to make in this blog is that if you are truly saved you can not lose your salvation. I even read in some articles it is healthy to question your salvation because it means it is important to you to have that relationship with Christ. We need to understand Gods beautiful Grace and put our Faith and Hope in His hands and walk in that daily. It is a discipline that needs to be practiced daily. We need to trust in God that He will not forsake us and He will complete the work He started in us. The peace that offers is beautiful and undeserving. What a beautiful Savior we serve! I want to end with this quote from John Piper that summarizes this perfectly:  “my security and assurance is not a decision or a prayer that I remember doing in the past; my security and assurance is the faithfulness and power of God to keep me hoping in him in the future. My security is that "he who began a good work in me will complete it to the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:6)". 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21

What is reconciliation?

          Reconciliation can be defined as reestablishing a relationship between two parties. The purpose of reconciliation is to produce a change in a relationship from hostility to peace. As Christians, Christ commands us to not only reconcile with each other, but also with God. In this article,, Dawson encourages us to stop hating one another. According to Dawson, reconciliation is expressing and receiving forgiveness and pursuing intimate fellowship with previous enemies. Many times, we are tempted to hate others who have done wrong to us. We tend to develop a sense of bitterness which only leads to hatred. Instead of hating those individuals, we need to pray for them and ask God to intervene.

How does this relate to professional counseling?

         If we do not practice reconciliation, painful memories will still have control over our lives and may continue to haunt us with horrific memories. Just as Christ forgave us, we are required to forgive each other. No matter how much someone has hurt us, we must forgive and reconcile. As a Christian counselor, we must constantly reconcile with others and Christ. Counselors should recognize that true reconciliation begins with God because He has the power to heal any broken relationship. How can we assist others in pursuing better relationships with others and Christ if we are not right with others and Christ? We would be hypocrites! Christian counselors should be challenged to adhere to God's commands, especially if we are challenging clients to.

 Why does it matter?

          Reconciliation matters not only because God commands us to, but also because it will ultimately assist us in having better relationships with others and a better relationship with Christ. Injustices will always persist and wrong will be done towards us for as long as we live, but the most important thing to remember is that we should not allow someone elses' sinful actions cause us to sin. The spirit of Christ within us should convict us to pursue reconciliation and love, rather than develop bitterness and hatred. After reading Dawson's article, I am encouraged and somewhat challenged to reconcile with a few individuals. Unfortunately, I have let these unresolved issues persist, but now I am determined to reconcile for the purpose of  experiencing true forgiveness.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What is True Salvation?

In the article I read, the author discusses how the acts of Jesus Christ revealed the heart of God. Particularly when Jesus healed the sick and comforted the lost on the day of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ demonstrated that though the Law was given to man for his benefit, He valued man much more than the religious laws.  Through His acts, Jesus Christ proved to man that God’s love for him was never contingent upon his actions; therefore nothing can be done that would cause one to obtain nor lose the love of God.  Knowing that we are saved by God through Jesus Christ, we are called to develop our faith on the foundation that our Salvation is not contingent upon what we do, but what God has already done by offering His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  Therefore, just as Christ had victory over Sin, we are to live according to our belief in His victory. 
How does it relate to Christian counseling?
The concept of Salvation must be full-heartedly embraced by Christians and even more so by Christian counselors.  It is important for Christian counselors to understand “true salvation” in order to be able to help their counselees understand and embrace it themselves.  Understanding “true salvation” entails knowing that though one falls short of God’s grace, there is nothing that one can do to obtain favor in the sight of God, nor is there anything one can do to lose favor in the sight of God.  In turn, this will help counselors not to place unrealistic expectations on their counselees, as if their actions can keep them from the love and grace of God.   
Although this is true, Christian counselors should also understand that this does not mean that their counselees can therefore act as they please, since God’s love and grace is unconditional; but rather that in acceptance of His undeserving love and grace, we as Christians are to demonstrate our faith in Him by living in victory over Sin not in bondage to Sin.  Christian counselors are to revive the hope in their counselees that they too can have victory over Sin.    Romans 6:6-10
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed from sin. (8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (10) For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (NASB)   
Nothing can substitute the cost for Salvation; nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away.  The death of Christ alone is sufficient.  Our acts of faith merely demonstrate our belief in Jesus’ victory over Sin.   

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Psychotherapy and Spiritual Formation


This article discusses about the need to integrate counseling for the soul and the mind. Many counselors feel as though only focusing on psychotherapy is causing disconnect from the true definition of a “whole” person.  It goes into the meaning of what a “soul” actually is in the Old Testament and New Testament. “The predominant emphasis and meaning of [soul] in the Old Testament is the whole person. The human does not have a [soul]; the human is a [soul], and lives as a [soul]. The Old Testament portrays for us a holistic emphasis with a dualistic implication” (Beck 2003, p 26). It is the counselor’s responsibility to understand the soul in order to better help the client.  Beck believes that as Christian counselors, if we do not know and understand the true definition of “soul” then it can be detrimental to the client and their therapeutic journey. “We define soul as the person, not the person as described by secular psychology, but the person described by Scripture” (Beck 2003, p 33).

What does this have to do with class and counseling in general?

Lately, we have been discussing how important it is to understand what the material aspect of a person is, and what the immaterial aspect is as well. Many counselors are taught in a secular setting, not to mention most of the theories of counseling are secular based.  With going beyond the material person (which is what most mental health professionals are not taught to do), we get a better sense of the human being as a whole. Christian counselors are better in practice because we are able to look at the client in a holistic way instead of limiting ourselves to what science says.  There are many times where science, psychology, theorists, etc allows the client to act a certain way or do certain things because it is considered “normal”. Whenever a client reaches that “normal” status, most counselors believe that the client is in a healthy place and stop the therapy process.  Knowing how to integrate psychotherapy and spiritual formation allows us to know that what is considered “normal” is not always normal in God’s eyes, and then allows us to go deeper and truly help the client come closer to Christ. “This soul or person possesses a rich emotional life, an amazingly complex psychological existence, a capacity for deep spirituality, and (most importantly) a need for being in right relationship with the Creator of the universe.” (Beck 2003, p 33)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do People Need People?


Do people really need to interact with other people to be able to live healthy, happy lives? An article I read from a trauma specialist seems to think so. In the article the anonymous author states that he or she believes that interacting socially with people helps one not only connect to others and find worth but relieves mental and emotional stress. When we share are emotional and mental burdens with other people it helps us to release the strain from our own bodies and therefore exhibit less physical symptoms caused by stress. Having interactions with people also allows us to understand different perspectives, and challenges us to think and grow in our beliefs.We can gain new insight from others about our problems and daily activities that may change the way we live.

How Does This Apply to Counseling?

In our Coun 507 class we talked about the fact that as believers we acknowledge that God made us in His image. One way God reveals himself to us is through the Holy Trinity because of this, we understand that He exist within Himself as a community. Since God made us in His image, and He also exist in a community, Christians believe that God has created each and every human being with the desire and longing to be with others and to be known by them. This is important to understand as counselors because many people are not able to interact with others in healthy ways. If social interaction is difficult for a potential client, and community is not achieved, they may feel a longing or discontentment within themselves and not even understand why. This also applies with a client's relationship with God. If they feel disconnected from God or feel that He does not want to be involved with them intimately, they may be disgruntled about their spiritual lives and it is our job as counselors to help them better their lives in every way.

What it means to me

I think this article expresses the importance of building relationships with one another. Whether it's with friends, co-workers, clients, or God we need to understand that these relationships are apart of life and are essential for being fulfilled. We must learn how to communicateto one another and love each other better in order to have the healthiest relationships we can, and in turn teach others how to change their understanding of relationships so they can live happier, healthier lives.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Above all else... GUARD your heart.

The Steubenville rape case has been all over the news the past few days, and I couldn’t help but sit in shock after hearing gruesome details that seemed to just keep getting worse the more I listened. After a few minutes, I had to turn off the T.V. because I couldn’t bear it anymore. All I could think was, God, why? How are human beings even capable of this? Is this really our world? Days later, upon reading this article, I couldn't help but wonder how these young men had seemingly no conviction about the terrible crime they were committing, and the effect it might have on that young woman’s life. What’s equally disturbing to me is that there were a multitude of people who actually witnessed the crime, and never said so much as a word to stand up for the victim. What are parents teaching their children today? Where is the respect for humanity?

These questions inevitably lead me to look at the condition of the human heart. I see an extraordinary depth of damage that must exist in the hearts of the young men involved. I see an extraordinary depth of pain in the hearts of the victim and those who care for her. I see innocence being stripped from the hearts every witness (in person and through social media). I see hearts being hardened little by little as sexual objectification becomes more prevalent in various forms (including pornography). Every day hearts are being bruised, torn, and destroyed… it is a ripple effect that is wreaking all kinds of havoc across the globe.

There is a vital need to protect this fragile yet powerful thing we call the human heart.

As mentioned in the article, the internet (and social media in particular) has made it even more difficult to keep our hearts guarded from the evils of this world. In the counseling realm, we need to be aware of what our clients have been exposed to; it will give us an indicator of what has inflicted damage on their hearts. It is equally important that we are constantly aware of the condition of our own hearts. Over time, no matter what field we decide to go into, we will all come into close contact with a number of lives enveloped in trauma, sin, and brokenness. We will all, on some level, be impacted by them. We need to have wisdom in knowing when we are reaching burnout, and what constitutes appropriate self-care. We also need to be cautious in what we allow ourselves to be exposed to; if it negatively impacts the heart (the command center), it will eventually have a negative impact on everything else. This idea is outlined in Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

My heart hurts for the young woman who will now spend years recovering from all the damage done in a single night. I am filled with anger, confusion and frustration at the fact that so many people could participate or watch and never say a word to stand up for a fellow human being in a completely helpless state. But I am once again reminded of the reason why I am called to the profession of counseling. We live in a broken and hurting world… a world that is in desperate need of people who follow Christ, the only One capable of healing the damaged human heart.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Conscience! What's it about?

When looking up the term conscience, most sites have it defined as an inward sense of what is right or wrong, but before we get to the point in our lives to distinguish good from bad, how do we develop a conscience and does everyone have a conscience?

According to the article, it appears that a conscience is something that is possessed, but has to be nourished and cultivated in order to flourish and thrive. The article suggests that the conscience is developed from the early to middle years of life and is especially sharpened during the adolescence years. They describe the three stages that takes process:

1. The Process of Identification-the article uses the phrase "monkey see, monkey do" to explain the process of children identifying and repeating observed behaviors exhibited by parents, caretakers and peers.

2.Instruction and Training-this stage explains how parents and caretakers have to teach children right from wrong. It advises that children do not learn the difference through behavior observation, but must be educated and reinforcement.

3.Interactions with the Environment-this stage usually begins around the pre-teenage years. At this point children start developing and tweaking their own sense of right and wrong from examples that they see or experience. During this stage, outside influences such as media, peers, teachers, etc. influence the way children see right and wrong and also can teach them that everything is not black and white.

When it comes to the profession of counseling, a conscience is a very important tool.  In the realm of counseling, one important aspect is of morals and ethics, which is why most associations have strict rules for a counselor to abide by, not only for the sake of the counselor but for the welfare of the client. An immoral conscience can quickly lead to an immoral act and to the detriment of a client.

Another aspect of the conscience that is sometimes ignored is the act of confession. I have been doing a lot of reading lately on the act and benefits of confession.  There are a lot of authors who believe that confession, outside of pastoral counseling is almost extinct. Most people, especially those who have a well defined conscience and care about others probably can attest that once you tell your inner most fears or secrets, most of the time it feels as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you no longer have to suffer in silence.

In my 507 class, I've learned that the conscience is 1/5 of the aspects of the immaterial man. That it does not teach us right from wrong, but prods us to do what we've been taught is right.  Easily said and easy to understand for the most part...

A required class for graduate school is Human Growth and Development. In this class we discussed a case study of a teenager who committed a gruesome act of violence. I remember vocalizing that as a teenager, the mentally ill being exempt, you know right from wrong.  However, the professor made a statement that not everyone fits into this category.  He went deeper and advised that you have to look at a person's past, how he/she was raised, morals, values, etc. before you can determine their level of conscientiousness.  Hearing these words opened my mind to another level. When it comes to situations, I would get the info, evaluate it from my perspective, if I had knowledge on other aspects, use that and formulate my opinion. However, most times, I didn't know any background information. In layman's terms, some could say I was being judgmental. In most situations there is so much information that is unknown, unsaid, and incomprehensible, etc, that we could never place ourselves in the exact shoes of those who are living it to know what the status of their conscience maybe.

We've all seen the caricature of the person with the good angel on a shoulder and the devil on the other, but in all honesty, I never sat and pondered the following questions:

1.How many people in the US alone have an undeveloped conscience?
2.If your conscience is not fully developed, does that make you more inept to commit crime?
3.If a person with a highly developed sense of consciousnesses commits a crime, what does that say?

These are just a few questions I thought about while writing this blog, I'm sure there are dozens more. I encourage you to join and list the questions that come to your mind in the comments area.                                                 


Saturday, March 16, 2013


     I love this clip – it makes me laugh out loud every time!  Have you ever experienced your mind making a lot of loud noises?  Saying things to you that no one else can hear?  Trust me when I say that those noises/voices can be very loud at times and almost impossible to ignore.
     Remember a few weeks ago in class when Dr. Corsini asked us to sit in silence for a few minutes and hang out with God?  Well, it ended up being a frustrating time for me personally because my mind (part of the “immaterial me”) would not shut up.  It kept talking and reminding me of things that I was not supposed to be thinking about in light of the instructions that were given.  I found myself asking God to mute my thoughts, but it never happened (I’m not blaming God for that one).  I was so frustrated with myself, but it wasn’t like I was thinking anything improper or sinful – I just couldn’t focus on the task at hand. 
     My mind talks a lot (I really hope someone just said “mine does, too”).  Sometimes the things it says are no big deal: daydreaming, thinking about Friday while it’s only Monday, singing random songs about pick-up trucks and sweet ice tea, etc.  Other times, the noises can be damaging and defeating: reminders of past sins, reminders of early life failures, and comparing myself to other people.  The list could go on for a while.  All of us have noises in our mind that cause pain and anguish and they really can be damaging and defeating.  What can we do about those loud noises?  Additionally, what do we, as potential counselors, tell clients who come in asking us to help them overcome their noises?
     I understand that I am not yet professionally ready to sit across from another human being and tell them how they can overcome their damaging thought life.  However, I can share some areas where God has been at work in my life since that particular day in Dr. Corsini’s court room – I mean class.
     Knowing that my thoughts can be unhealthy and deceitful at times, it is important for me to develop some specific disciplines in this particular area.  It is easy for me to just sit and entertain certain thoughts without doing a single thing to fight or overcome them – I am lazy!  I am tired of allowing these voices to grow louder and louder so that they affect my relationship with God, with my family, with my friends, and in my witness to other individuals.
     I really appreciated what Dr. Hart had to say about meditation in his book, “The Anxiety Cure”.  Of course, we are all aware that there are different kinds of meditation out there today for people to experience, but Dr. Hart talks about Christian Meditation (CM). He describes CM as “the action of the Holy Spirit within the soul of the believer, releasing the presence of God to be felt and experienced down to the very marrow of every bone that brings healing” (p. 241).  I cannot overcome and rid my mind of these negative noises on my own.  I desperately need the Holy Spirit to intervene in order to be victorious in this particular battle. Meditation allows me the opportunity to seek the face of God through silence or prayer, reading or singing.  It’s about taking time to be with Him and Him alone, to be in His Word and to know what He has to say about me and my sins and my past failures.  Knowing God’s Word fills my mind with truth. Truth is a very powerful thing.  Truth brings victory, freedom, confidence, and hope.  Truth will silence the loud noises.  Jesus Christ is the Author of truth and we must seek Him constantly – for our sake and for the sake of those we will minister to one day as professional counselors.

     “…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Romans 12:2,3 (NIV).