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Starting The New Year Right

There is a game called Rummikub in which the goal is to be the first to get rid of all of your tiles. When one or more players has just a couple tiles left, the race is on for the other players to jettison as many tiles as possible in the few moves that are left before the game ends. The winner is the first one to get rid of all his tiles, but those who have tiles left get penalty points that carry into the next game.

As we rapidly approach this new year, now is the time to evaluate your life before the year ends, and get rid of your baggage, emotional or otherwise, so that you can be a winner and start the new year right. If that process seems daunting, find a good Christian Counselor who can help you work through the baggage so that you can find peace, strength and wholeness.

Jesse Walker is an ordained pastor who is a Christian Counselor.

He is the founder and lead counselor of Christian Counseling Ministries in Phoenix, AZ.

Helping Those Who Self-harm (Cutters, etc.)

It can be a frightening thing to learn that someone you love is self-harming, but there are some things you can do to help.

(1) Do not assume the person is demon-possessed – Certainly demon possession can result in self-harming behavior, but this type of occurrence is extremely rare. Christians who assume that casting out a demon is the answer actually stigmatize self-harmers, causing more isolation and further emotional anguish. This is exactly the opposite of the intended outcome.

(2) Have compassion – People who self-harm are hurting, not so much from the cuts or burns they inflict upon themselves, but from painful thoughts, memories and emotions. They need compassion and understanding, for their external wounds are their way of showing their internal pain.

(3) Be ok with uncomfortable conversations – The conversation you’re avoiding is probably the one you need to have.

(4) Kindly ask about the wounds – While the wounds say a lot, no one can read minds. Ask kind, open-ended questions, and make sure you are prepared to hear their honest responses.

(5) Don’t feel like you must have all of the answers – No one has all of the answers except God, so don’t feel like you have to fix your loved one right away. Just listen to them in order to understand.

(5) Avoid cliché’s – When people are uncomfortable talking about a given subject, they will often try to avoid the subject further by using cliché’s which put a bandaid on the topic. However, bandaid solutions for surgical problems never work. Using a cliché will only make the person hurt more, because it minimizes their very real, deep emotional pain.

(7) Pray – The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and he is the one who can heal them.

(8) Encourage the loved one to see a Christian Counselor. – Counseling is a crucial step on the road to wholeness, because there may be a number of factors involved in the cause of self-harming behavior. But you can rest assured that there is hope for healing and for a brighter tomorrow.

Jesse Walker is an ordained pastor who is a Christian Counselor.

He is the founder and lead counselor of Christian Counseling Ministries in Phoenix, AZ.

Follow-up to “A Growing Need for Counseling Pastors”

In my previous post, I briefly outlined the growing need for Counseling Pastors. In this post, I will attempt to briefly describe the heart and qualifications to look for in a person who will fill such a position. (The terms “Counseling Pastor” and “Christian Counselor” will be used interchangeably)

Let me begin by pointing out what a counseling pastor is not. First, a counseling pastor should not be a clinical (state licensed) counselor. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest, perhaps, is that a clinical counselor is subject to ACA guidelines and is legally bound to not be “directive,” meaning they cannot tell people what is morally right or wrong. This, unfortunately, removes the counselors’ most powerful tool. Second, a Christian counselor must recognize that even though we can be directive, we must do so sparingly. Many pastors who counsel take the wrong approach by being significantly over-directive. This, however, can be perceived as judgmental and cold. I will not elucidate any further here, since this is beyond the scope of this article.

Third, the Christian Counselor must be competent. Anyone can quote Bible verses or give advice, but that is not what counseling is. Competency in a Counseling Pastor looks like this. A person who is:

  • An excellent listener
  • Humble
  • A good communicator
  • A good problem solver
  • Someone who can balance logic, reason, and the leading of the Holy Spirit
  • Someone who has knowledge and wisdom, and the ability to apply them appropriately
  • Someone who knows people (knows how they think and what they feel, what motivates them, etc.)
  • Someone who has and continues to apply all of the above to his own life first.
  • And, of course, successful experience in counseling ministry is a big plus.

While not an exhaustive list, these are just some of the things to help discern which candidate is best qualified for your Counseling Pastor.

Jesse Walker is an ordained pastor who is a Christian Counselor.

He is the founder and lead counselor of Christian Counseling Ministries in Phoenix, AZ.

The Growing Need for Counseling Pastors

From the time I was a student in Seminary the Lord consistently brought people into my life who were in need of counseling. Though I did not realize it at the time, he had already prepared and called me to this important task of counseling ministry from a very young age. I have been in counseling ministry since 2006, but have been studying psychology and human behavior from childhood. 

I recall being about seven years old and observing an unhealthy relational interaction that kept recurring. This led me to ponder, and pray to the Lord about how to break that pattern, and replace it with a consistent healthy, loving, relational interaction, so I set out on a mission to find the answers to help people. Over time, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the support and wisdom of my parents, in particular, my mother, I sought to understand the root of each problem, and the motivation and perspectives that drive them.

By age ten I finally had the courage to intervene in the unhealthy interaction I had observed a couple years prior, and was determined to change it. Though my hope was to be conciliatory, at that point, I was looking only for change, and I remember thinking that it did not matter if the change was good or bad, but only that the pattern be broken. The next time I observed the unhealthy interaction, I spoke up and it made an impact. There was an immediate and noticeable difference, partly in the other parties, and partly in me, for this marked the first time my role was that of a counselor.

Since we, as Christians, recognize that God can and does immediately and completely heal people from all types of ailments, physical and mental, we must also recognize that this is more often the exception rather than the rule. The problem is when Christians who continue to struggle are told from well-meaning brothers and sisters in the Lord that they have not received God’s miraculous healing touch yet, because they lack faith, or need to pray more, or have some hidden sin in their life that they need to confess, etc. The fact is, that oftentimes when God chooses not to miraculously heal someone, it is because he wants them to work through the process of healing, which can and does bring great spiritual growth (See Cloud and Townsend How People Grow). That process of healing is wrought in the context of Christian Counseling.

With all that has transpired in the world over the course of a couple short years, I am seeing an exponentially greater number of people in need of counseling. This, unfortunately, has emphasized an underlying problem, that many pastors are not up to the task of counseling. There are as many reasons for this problem as there are possible solutions, but the fact remains that there is a great shortage of effective Christian Counselors.

The best solution for most churches to consider is hiring a Counseling Pastor, that is, someone who has extensive experience in Counseling Ministry and whose primary role on staff is as a Christian Counselor. In many churches this may be a dual role such as “Counseling and Teaching Pastor,” “Counseling and Discipleship Pastor,” “Pastor of Counseling and Spiritual Growth,” etc.

While this role may, at first glance, appear to be the job of the senior pastor, he may have neither the time nor the training necessary to deal with some of the more complex issues that come up in the counseling session. Christian Psychologist Larry Crabb makes an excellent point in his book Effective Biblical Counseling that counseling (like prophet and teacher, etc.) is a gift given to the church (Rom 12:8 Gk). Additionally, it is beneficial to have a pastor to whom people can go and confidentially confess their struggles without the threat of church discipline (with the obvious exception of extreme cases which would be handled in like manner in secular counseling) or feeling like every sermon will be directed at them. Counseling is kept strictly confidential and therefore compartmentalized for the sake of the dignity and growth of the client.

In conclusion, since it is incumbent upon the leadership to make sure the church is mentally and spiritually healthy, it is imperative to consider the need for the role of Counseling Pastor on your team, and to hire one who is both humble and competent.

Jesse Walker is an ordained pastor who is a Christian Counselor.

He is the founder and lead counselor of Christian Counseling Ministries in Phoenix, AZ.


Many often wonder about the passage in Matthew 12 about Jesus’ statement of the unforgivable sin.

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (ESV)

Ancient Rabbis taught that a mute spirit could not be cast out, because in order to cast out a demon, one must ask its name, and by it’s very nature, a mute spirit can’t speak. Because of this, such a miracle would only be able to be done by the Messiah. So in Matthew, 12:22-23, Jesus performs what he knew would be a clear proclamation to the Jews that he was the Messiah. The response of the people shows us that they knew it was a messianic miracle when they say “Can this be the Son of David?” That’s when the Pharisees say “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that he casts out demons.” The Pharisees should have clearly seen that it was a miracle that only the Messiah could perform, yet because of their hard hearts, they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though Jesus is God, when he came to earth and performed miracles he only did them through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14 et al). That is, Jesus intentionally did not use his own power, but relied on the third member of the Trinity as an example for us to Follow. Since the Holy Spirit was the one performing the miracles (through Jesus, and later Peter and others), to deny that kind of evidence of Divine power meant that one must already be too hard-hearted and blind. In this sense, the person can’t be forgiven because the hard state of his heart means he will never repent. If one can deny the power of God when faced with it directly, there is nothing else that will change his mind. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit works His miracles today, whether through believers or directly, people’s hearts can still be so hard as to deny Him. Therefore, it is “truly unforgivable” (because they won’t repent) and can still be committed today.

There is at least an indirect correlation in this passage to the third commandment. In Hebrew, “don’t take the name of the Lord in vain…” is at least a three-fold point:

  1. Don’t use His name as a curse word or to express disgust.
  2. Don’t waste the breath He gave you: Rabbis have surmised that in order to pronounce the divine name (Yahweh) properly, it required a breath in followed by a breath out. This is probably because when God created mankind, He “breathed into him and he became a living being.” That is, God gave him his very breath. Therefore, this second point is, “don’t take the very breath that God gave you in vain.” Don’t waste your life, don’t take your own life.
  3. Don’t carry the name of the Lord (Follower of Yahweh/Christian), and then do something to bring that name shame or ill-repute. “You shall not bear (carry) the name of the Lord in vain.”

The third one is the one that relates best to the passage about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What’s interesting is that the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of the exact opposite of this commandment. They were accusing Jesus of doing something GOOD in the name of Beelzebul. This points out the difference between “blasphemy” (claiming to be God), of which Jesus was accused, and “blasphemy against” (claiming God’s power to be of Satan) of which the Pharisees were guilty.

Hopefully this explanation brings clarity and peace to your hearts!

About Jesse Walker

2020 Perspective on Passover:

As born again Christians, we understand the foundational truth about Jesus’ sacrificial, atoning death and resurrection that brings us freedom and life, but I want to focus on the post-salvation implications of Jesus’ awesome work. Keep in mind, this will only apply if you have already committed to the side of Jesus.

After salvation, what does freedom and life look like for a Christian? Many might think “well, if a Christian is addicted to alcohol, etc. then Jesus can set them free from that” and that is true. But beyond that, what does freedom and life look like? It looks like this:

1. Freedom from false guilt.
2. Freedom from fear about what others may think.
3. Freedom from people who try to control and manipulate.
4. Freedom from the idea that you need anyone else’s approval other than God’s.
5. Freedom from circular or destructive thought processes.
6. Freedom…to grow, which is life-giving.

Pastors are supposed to promote freedom in Christians lives so that they can grow, but sadly many pastors do just the opposite.

Friends are suppose to be life-giving and help us grow, or at the very least, not hinder us from getting closer to Jesus, but sadly, many friends do just the opposite.

Assuming they already have a sincere faith in Christ, here are some things to ask yourself about a pastor or a friend:

1. Are they someone in whom I can see consistent growth?
2. Do they listen well?
3. Am I afraid to talk around them? Why?
4. When I come away from them do I feel burdened, or more free?
5. Does what they say ring true and bring clarity?
6. Can I see any ways that they attempt to manipulate?

There are many forms of manipulation, some are quite subtle and can even be seen as pious. Some of the more subtle ways of manipulation include:

* False guilt – does this person make me feel guilty if I don’t do what they want?
* Tone – are they talking down to me as though I don’t know anything? (Pay great attention to this one!)
* Leading Questions – do they appear to have all the answers? This is accomplished through the use of leading questions, that is, a question that is asked, with a very specific answer in mind. Therefore, unless you answer with the specificity that the manipulator is fishing for, you appear inferior while the manipulator appears to have all the answers.
* Positioning – there are many types of positioning, but one example is, is the person using tactical empathy? That is, do they claim to know and empathize with what you’ve been through, in order to earn your trust?
* Redirection: there are many types of redirection, but one of the most cunning is exploiting your emotional wounds to shift the attention off of something they don’t want to talk about.

Ask yourself, “who helps me walk in freedom?” It may surprise you who you DON’T list.

Jesus came to bring us freedom and life, and I believe the Lord wants the church to walk in Freedom and Life in 2020!

Wishing you freedom and life as you celebrate Resurrection day!

In His Love,
Jesse ישי

About Jesse Walker

Why Pro-Life is the position of sane people.

First, this is not a political issue, it’s a moral one. Civilizations are judged by how they treat the most helpless of their citizens. Who is more helpless than a baby? A baby who is still in the womb, that’s who.

Those who are pro-choice (aka pro-infanticide) don’t believe that an unborn baby is even a person. However, Dr. Ward Kischer, a Human Embryologist and professor at the University of Arizona said “Every Human Embryologist in the world knows that life begins at the moment of fertilization. It is not belief, it is scientific fact.” Therefore, pro-choicers, must choose to deny scientific fact to maintain their belief in order to justify their position in this important moral issue.

Additionally, pro-choicers will claim this issue is a women’s health issue, but that is false since LESS THAN 1% of abortions are performed to save the mother’s life. It is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue, because only about half of all of the people murdered by abortion are female.

Finally, pro-choicers claim that it’s a woman’s “choice” to have an abortion. The answer, of course, is a resounding “no, it is not” since no one should have a legal choice to end the innocent life of another.

If it’s ok to abort a baby in the first trimester, why not the second, and if the second, why not the third, and so on. We’ve already seen that progression play out, and carried any farther, this reasoning will eventually lead to the faulty conclusion that parents can “end” their children no matter how old they are. Don’t feel like paying for college? No problem, have an abortion when the kid is 17. If that last statement sounds ludicrous, it’s because it is. But it is no more so than murdering an unborn baby.

In the ancient Mesopotamian culture, Baal was one of the Canaanite gods, and is mentioned in the Bible as a false god. In fact, the priests of Baal used magician type tricks to make people believe that Baal was real. The name “Baal” means “owner” or “master,” and the ancient worship of Baal involved the horrendous practice of infant sacrifice.

What modern people fail to see is that the so-called “pro-choice” sect clamors that it’s “my body, my choice,” claiming to be the owner or master of the life that is inside of them. They do this to try to excuse the fact that they are essentially committing infant sacrifice unto themselves, but thereby are claiming to be the so-called god of Baal. This world-view should scare the crap out of everyone.

Fact: As of 2017, over 57,000,000 people have been murdered by abortion. That’s 1/3 of generation X.

Fact: Less than 1% of abortions are performed to save the life of the mother.

Fact: if someone kills a pregnant woman, they are charged with two murders.

What if you’re best friend had been aborted as a baby? How would you feel, and how would it affect your life?

Women want choice, but they already have three choices:

  1. Abstinence
  2. Birth control
  3. Adoption

Murder is not a choice, it’s a crime. Rename it anything you want to, and it’s still a crime. Justify it by whatever means make you feel ok, it’s still murder.

About Jesse Walker

The New Year

We are now only one day away from New Years Eve, and now is the time to get alone somewhere and be honest with yourself and God about this past years failures and successes. When talking about failures and successes, I am primarily referring to relational failures and successes. Not necessarily romantic relationships, but simply how you relate to, and love your fellow man.

As Christians, we know that we’ll never be perfect in this life, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t try to become better people. Ask yourself this question: “Am I more like Jesus today than I was last year?” If your honest answer is “yes” then congratulations! You have grown this past year into a better person. But if your answer is “no” or even “I’m not sure,” then let it be a warning sign to you that you might be headed for a stagnant, lukewarm lifestyle.

However, no matter what your answer is, we all need to continue our personal growth. Here are some tips to help you evaluate where you are and where you’d like to be next year:

  1. Look at your relational failures this past year and figure out what you might have done differently. Did you help others grow? Did you feed the hungry? Did you prioritize people over things?
  2. Make a note about how you want to act and what you want to do this coming new year.
  3. Look at your relational successes from this past year. Let these encourage you but also ask yourself “was it enough?” “what can be maintained or improved?”

You see, we live in a dark culture that is consumed with materialism. But the light of Christ shines through the compassion, generosity and kindness of those who practice loving people instead of loving “things.” That is why it is so important for us to grow and become more like Jesus, so that this dark world will see His light and have hope.

You are the light of Jesus, and you will burn brighter the closer you get to Him.

Happy New Year!

“You are the light of the world…” Matthew 5:14

About Jesse Walker

You are not to be called Rabbi – Church Politics 102

If you have felt frustrated, held back, or like your gifts and talents are unappreciated in church, then you need to read this! If you are a pastor who has felt stuck in helping people grow, then you need to read this. But fair warning: There is truth in this post that is going to be very hard for many people to take. So if you are going to read this, please read it all the way through or don’t read it at all.

Whereas the politics of church organizations have hurt so many, I thought it wise to bring some clarity to what church is really about.

I’m an ordained minister, and as such, I know that it is not a full-time job, it’s a life long calling. However, that in no way means that it is the job at which I make money and support a family. On the contrary, I have a job in the secular world and do not get paid for the ministry I do (Freely you have received, freely give). In fact, there are way more pastors making a living being pastors than there should be. They should get out in the real world and do some good where it really counts. From one ordained minister to another, I warned you that this would hurt. Pastoring was never meant to be a career, but a calling.

Now, people keep telling me that I should start a church, but why should I? Jesus is the one who “started the church.” The church isn’t a building, or even an organized group of people with a leader who is called a pastor or reverend etc. It is not an organized institution or structure. It developed into an organized institution in the Middle Ages, but that is not what it is. The church is everyone who places their faith in Christ. People today who “start churches” are really just creating another hierarchic STRUCTURE from the church (local group of believers), with themselves on top. I know that most of them do not intend it that way, but that’s what ends up happening because eventually, in the subconscious of the congregations, the pastor is more holy, or somehow more in touch with God. That’s a load of crap. people don’t grow the way they need to in our modern church structure because of this mindset. Hence the reason we don’t need more “church structures/institutions”

Does that mean that church institutions and pastors are bad? Of course not. But a good pastor will help you grow to their detriment. What I mean by that is that, they will help you grow so much, that at some point you don’t need them anymore, and can fly in your faith on your own through life in whatever you do and wherever you go. You will be able to help others grow to soar on their own, too. You will be able to do this because that pastor helped you do one very important thing. Get closer to Jesus.

It’s the same principle as “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Most pastors don’t want people to leave their church structure because they like a lot of bodies in the pews and a lot of money in the offering, so they keep feeding you the fish, but neglect to show you HOW to fish. As long as you feel that you somehow need them for spiritual guidance (fish), you’ll be sitting in their pews, and you’ll be paying their salaries. But here’s what Jesus says about pastors and teachers: “but you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher (Jesus), and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.” (Matt 23:8-10)

Most of the “fish feeding” pastors feel threatened by those who grow too much. Maybe it’s because they feel that the rest of the congregation will want that person to be the pastor instead. This is yet another reason why pastors, wittingly or not, hold people back in their spiritual growth. They want you to grow, just not more than they do.

Here is what most of the “fish feeding” pastors won’t tell you: Your job is to get to know Jesus the Christ. He is your guide, your pastor, your teacher. If you don’t know how to get to know Him, it’s simple but not easy. You have to take time to read the bible and talk to God while also trying to listen to what He’s saying to you. God speaks in many different ways so it probably won’t be audible words you hear (but He might choose to speak that way too).

That’s it! You see that it’s simple to explain but not easy to do. Therefore many people don’t do it. Instead they choose to take the route of going to church once a week to feel like they are doing their spiritual duty. Other than that, most people do little more to get to know Jesus.

But Jesus jealously longs for you! He wants a personal relationship with YOU! Not through a pastor, but a direct relationship where you talk to each other. If only His church really knew this!

When Jesus describes what will happen at the end of the age He also gives us insight into what is eternally important. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.'”
Matt 7:21-23

You can do all sorts of good works, but if you don’t have a real relationship with Jesus you’re in big trouble! I find it fascinating that Jesus didn’t say “YOU never knew ME” but “I never knew YOU”! (emphasis mine). It’s important that you are totally open and honest with God about who you are, so that He knows you. That necessitates opening your heart all the way for Him to see even into the little dark corners and cracks that you are afraid to think about.

So if you want to get closer to Jesus, one of the best ways to start is by opening your heart and letting Him see the good and the bad, and say “Jesus, I want to know you more, but maybe more importantly, Jesus, know ME!”

In conclusion, it’s about you and Him. Church is good, but it is only meant to help guide you closer to Jesus.

About Jesse Walker

Christmas Fasting

In this most amazing season of Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of the Savior and King, it is a good idea for us to fast. However, when you read that, your mind no doubt specifically thought about food, and while that type of fasting is the most common, and has it’s benefits both physically and spiritually, it is not the kind of fast to which I’m referring.

I’m referring to the type of fast of which the Lord says:

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”   Isaiah 58:6-7 NASB

So what is the fast that the Lord chooses? It is has two aspects: The first part of the passage can be interpreted in it’s simplest form as the importance of forgiveness (see Complete Forgiveness). This is extremely applicable in it’s own right, however, it’s the second part that is the focus of this article, and that is generosity. We must be generous, not just financially, but with whatever resources the Lord has given us, and if necessary, yes, to go without a meal or two so that someone who doesn’t have the means or ability to feed themselves can eat. This is the spirit of Christmas…the spirit of giving and forgiving.

How and what are you willing to give, to the point of going without it, this Christmas Season so that you may provide it for someone else?

About Jesse Walker