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  • Rev. Carlene Appel-M.Div.

Grace and 4 Year Olds

Updated: Aug 2, 2018


Recently, I heard a Christian comedian (yes, there are such people) saying the most delightful thing. He said, "God spreads grace like a four year old spreads peanut butter; He gets it all over." Thank-you Mark Lowry!!!


Now I'm a sucker for a good illustration because word pictures if they are any good at all, are such effective tools to convey meaning. There are few people who can't picture a 4 year old eagerly spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread....and the counter, cabinet, chair, floor, and being so proud of their accomplishment. Clorox has a recent commercial where Mom peeks into the bathroom and sees her probably 4 year old son, mopping the floor in earnest. She's really proud of her boy you can tell. That is, until he puts his mop into the white porcelain "mop bucket." You know, the one with the fancy flush handle. You quickly get the picture. One of the best word picture artists from whom I learned the fine art of painting with words, is the now sadly disgraced Garrison Keillor. As I listened to another adventure in Lake Woebegon, he painted a word picture of freshly fallen snow on a hillside so well, my mind's eye could see the individual granules of snow there.


Scripture is full of word pictures. Ephesians chapter 1 affirms that beautiful and funny word picture about God, peanut butter, grace, and four year olds in verse 8. But let us start at verse 6 for a fuller picture. "...to the praise of his glorious grace that He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that he lavished on us." Wow! That just blows me away. It also paints me a picture of a Coach for the winning team getting drenched by them with Gatorade at the Super Bowl, in celebration of their hard won victory.


For victims of assault or abuse of any kind, it's very normal to feel so dirty and like damaged goods, that they believe even God would have nothing further to do with them. "How could He love someone like me?" they ask. Because, Ephesians 1 affirms that He spreads His grace all over us like a four year old spreading peanut butter. So too, those battling alcohol & drug addictions, those who have hurt others or committed crimes for which they are incarcerated, but are genuinely sorry and truly repentant. Or the runaways who ended up on the streets and had to do things they are terribly ashamed of just to survive, or survivors of sex trafficking. I could go on and on, but if any of those are you and you wonder if there is any hope, any love, any forgiveness to be had, be comforted by these verses. Every tear you cry God knows about. For situations like these, Jesus died on the Cross. For you and for me.


Maybe you've been a taker all your life. "God so loved the world He gave." Whoever is sorry for their sins, wants to 'fess up and let that only Son He gave have their heart and life, do it and God will make you into a new creation with your slate wiped clean. A second chance. Jn 3:16-17 The God of the Bible is the God of second, third, and fourth chances if you're truly sorry and want to come back. Read the story of the Prodigal son. He understands that His creations sometimes trip and fall flat on their faces. He understands how strong addictions want to hold onto you. He understands you were just trying to survive when you did that disgusting stuff just to buy a meal. He understands the violence you endured at the hands of the pimps and the traffickers if you didn't turn enough tricks some nights.


Turn it all over to the Great Physician, who can forgive you, lavish grace upon you, heal you, and make you whole...perhaps for the first time in your life. Read Ephesians 1 in its entirety. In fact, I invite you to read the entire letter. Composed of 6 short chapters, but packed with oh so much hope and goodness, you'll find yourself smiling like that 4 year old joyfully spreading peanut butter all over, like God spreads grace. Let me hear from you what the Lord has been showing you as you read through the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians.

Until next time.......

Love and Blessings

Rev. Carlene

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frequently asked questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is New Day just for people who are religious?

Not at all. Owner, Rev. Carlene Appel, works with all people regardless of whether or not they hold to a particular faith, or set of beliefs. She has even worked with atheists under Hospice care.

 

How does Pastoral Counseling differ from regular Counseling?

In addition to Counseling, a Pastoral Counselor also has specialized education and training in matters of spirituality, religious faith, and different religions. Thus, if a client wishes to include any of these during their sessions, a Pastoral Counselor is qualified and competent to do so.

 

Rev. Carlene holds a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.), from Northern Seminary, and is an Ordained American Baptist minister. Additionally, having been raised Roman Catholic, she has been able to help countless numbers of Catholics every year. Over the past year, she has become a vessel of healing to survivors of predator priests. 

 

Is New Day a faith-based Counseling Practice?

Yes. This means Rev. Carlene or any Counselor working for New Day, won't discourage clients from exploring their spirituality or faith-related questions. Some clients have had questions of faith for years, but fear rejection from their clergy or people they have been worshipping with. Some have walked away from their faith or religion entirely. 

 

Wait a minute, aren't faith and religion the same thing?

Not at all. Religion is a human-constructed system providing a set of specific organized beliefs. While many find religion helpful to explain life, provide a moral compass, and connect them to the Divine, others do not. Some have suffered abuse or been otherwise deeply hurt by clergy or religious people.

 

OK, so how is faith different from religion then?

Faith, is something we are endowed with by our Creator. We first utilize faith shortly after birth. Though not aware of it or what it is, a helpless newborn, if not abused or neglected, soon develops a sense of faith and trust that s/he will have their needs met. While most people have faith in the God of their understanding, others claim faith in Science, nature, or even their own abilities. On a more basic level, humans practice blind faith every day that their car is going to run, that they will get to work, school, & back home safely, and that they will live to see another day.

 

I've heard that New Day is Christ-centered. What does that mean?

Glad you asked. It's a way of being. New Day strives to imitate Christ in the way business is conducted and how we treat all people, not just our clients. This means standing beside someone, not over them and building relationships with people regardless of race, class or gender. Being honest, ethical, accountable; practicing good listening skills. Extending compassion, dignity, grace, forgiveness, mercy, respect, and unconditional love. It also includes speaking up about and holding people accountable for injustices, and not keeping silent when they plan or are actively doing damaging & destructive acts to themselves or others.

So a New Day Counselor won't push religion on me?

Absolutely not! That would be very un-Christlike. He was always invitational and respected a person's choice. New Day strives to always imitate Jesus Christ. So whether you're religious or not, it doesn't matter. We stand ready to help: if you are dealing with depression, grief, trauma, abuse, marital conflict, etc. If you need mentoring, life coaching, or premarital counseling. If you have become disabled. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's or Dementia.

 

Whoever you are, New Day invites you to lay your burdens down with us and experience compassionate, non-judgmental care wherever you call home, or at a safe location if the home isn't safe, or