A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Dr John Warlow is a Christian psychiatrist working in Brisbane within a professional and charismatic context for the healing of the whole person.
After years of prayer, vision and planning, we have established a place of healing the whole person from a Christian perspective.  It is called the Christian Wholeness Counselling Centre (See: Living Wholeness ).
This is a place where Christians and non-Christians can be seen by Professional Counselling Consultants from a number of disciplines, including Psychology, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, the Pastoral area and Psychiatry.  It is a place where our passions are to strive for excellence in the area of psychiatry, psychology and the social sciences, and counselling within the context of a Biblical theology.
The psychiatric, psychological, social and spiritual issues are addressed within a framework of professional Christian counselling, facilitating one’s journeying toward wholeness.  We acknowledge the spiritual dimension of the person in addition to the physical, psychological and social dimensions.  We invite clients to integrate the spiritual aspect of their life within a Christian counselling context. It is also a place where professional counsellors can develop their skills, integrating their Christian beliefs with their professional practice.  The centre helps to equip and train Christian counsellors and the church in Christian counselling and pastoral work.  All this is done in an ethical manner with integrity and compassion. Here, the problems relating to the whole person can be addressed.  These include personal, emotional, psychiatric, behavioural, physical, spiritual, social and family, educational, career related, stress, and trauma related problems.
The problems can relate to the whole person so the avenues for healing are focussed on each part of the person. In essence, helping the person to face their failures and their pain in the presence of God and from there to move on to practise the presence of God is the spiritual pathway to healing.  Healing comes not only in practising the presence of God, but also in walking alongside with a fellow human being, and in conjunction with a supportive church network.  Thus, healing does not come in a vacuum but is done in the context of the priesthood of all believers, the presence of God and being part of the body of Christ.
Integrated approach to healing Spiritual healing or prayer in itself often is not the only thing which needs to happen for healing.  People often need other interventions.  That may be medication, marital therapy, or some of the other forms of professional interventions.  God never made us just to be spiritual, although the spiritual is central.  God also made our bodies and our minds which often groan. Our bodies and brains may need medication, and our minds therapy.  These are provided in many forms at the Christian Wholeness Counselling Centre.  They include:  Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Family Therapy, Marital Therapy, Child Therapy, Adolescent Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Pastoral Counselling, Psychiatric Treatment, Educational Assessment, Career Guidance, Grief Counselling, Crisis Counselling, Trauma Therapy (EMDR), Stress Management, Anger Management, Conflict Management, Assertiveness Training, Communication and Social Skills Training.
The likelihood of success in healing depends on how motivated or desperate the person is to change, the extent of how much they feel they can be involved in changing compared to how hopeless they might feel, and how severe their problems are in terms of physical, psychological, social or spiritual ones. The longer the problems have been going on, even back into previous generations, the harder it seems to be for change to occur.   Intervention may include prayer for inner healing, breaking of past bondages, and on-going medication or counselling support.  For some healing happens at a faster rate, for others it may take a number of years.
Healing is significantly enhanced if, in the context of coming to the Centre, a person can be free to be real and open in the Body of Christ.  Thus the importance of close fellowship is vital.  The church itself is a major organ for healing. In summary, Christian Wholeness Counselling looks at the whole person in the context of their relationship with God and the church, and their own social network.  It acknowledges that our bodies are yet unredeemed.  It acknowledges that at times God does work in miraculous ways, but normally tears will not be dried or taken away until we reach heaven. Healing follows a sequence.  Here are essential steps on the pathway to wholeness.
Admit and be Real about Failure   START HERE:  The place for healing to begin is where one walks alongside another – one step beside and one step behind.  In that posture, the person is strengthened to be able to face the pain, their failures and their sin.  This often seems to be the hardest part but is where healing starts.
As the darkness is brought into the light, then that which was hidden can be addressed.  Where many find it hard to walk on a road to healing, is this very first step of even acknowledging the problem.  For true healing this needs to be acknowledged to oneself, to God and to another human being.  Admitting and being real about one’s failures and sins is the place to start.  The Christian Wholeness Counselling Centre allows this to occur in a place where the issues of the whole person can be addressed.
Believe and Receive Forgiveness THE 1ST STEP:  Having faced and, to some extent, owned the problems, the first step of healing on a spiritual dimension is to return to the rock from which one was hewn, to receive the things which God has done.  This step to healing is through a repentance, a returning, a step of faith rather than by the primary strivings of our wills and our own efforts. This step is one of believing and receiving God’s forgiveness.  It happens initially at conversion, and needs to be repeated frequently.  As we remember and return to what God has done, rather than trying to strive to better ourselves, change can come.  It is through this step that one returns to the rock from which one was hewn, to receive the things which God has done to stand in one’s true position.
YOUR POSITION:  Where is the position to which we need to return?  What has God done which is healing?  What is it that is there for healing, even when we have failed and fallen?  God has done four major things for us in this area:  he has provided us with his presence, he has placed us and set us apart for himself, he has given us his purposes, and he has provided all we need.  This enables us to say, ‘I am yours and you are mine’, even in our pain or failure as well as in wholeness. First, God’s presence is with us: Emmanuel.  Although we can quench the Holy Spirit, we have been sealed with him as he has been stamped on to our hearts.  For those who are truly his, we cannot rub off that stamp.  Even though the prodigal son felt no longer worthy to be a son, the Father thought otherwise.  Even in our darkest moments, the darkness cannot turn off the light.  Even in our lowest periods, God is beneath us.  Even where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
Healing comes as we realise God has not abandoned nor forsaken us, but is there for us right in the context of our pain.  God owns us despite our sin. Second, God has placed us close to himself.  He has given us an identity of being a child of the Father with his Spirit indwelling us.  Being identified with Christ in God lifts up the head of the shameful and weary traveller. Third, God has purposed us to relate with him in intimacy, in Jesus by his Spirit.  This gives us a reason for living which nothing can touch, even in the context of suffering.  God’s purposes remain constant despite our unfaithfulness.  This leads the wandering person to have a God-given clarity and perspective on where they have come from and where they are going.  So, even in our groaning, with all around seeming to overwhelm us, God’s purposes can still be fulfilled.  All things can work for good.  His good is our intimacy with Jesus.  Our imitation of Jesus can grow.  Our conformity to him can be renewed.  Our sense of companionship and closeness to God can deepen. Fourth, God has provided for us his forgiveness and his freedom, leading us to his fullness.
Our lives and experiences so often betray what God has done, leaving us feeling hypocritical, shameful, and in effect no different from what we would be if we were non-Christians.  Our lives more often than not are lives of the wilderness rather than those of the Promised Land. The tendency then is to believe much more in our failings and feelings than in what God has done because the two do not seem to match up.  Having faced our own sins and failures and returned to what God has done, we can stand in his grace, mercy, and forgiveness. In the context of facing the reality of oneself, the head of the wounded and fallen can be lifted up and can see another reality, the reality of God and what he has done.  Through being real about these realities a new perspective and new direction can again be followed.  So the shameful may stand upright, in grace and access to God; the lost may belong; the fallen and failed may get up, yet again.
Choose to Respond to Freedom 2ND STEP:  From this position, we can move on in the freedom which God provides.  Receiving the provision  of God’s freedom leads us to relate with God in the fullness of his Spirit and walk in wholeness and healing.  Only as we receives what God has done in our life can we move on to practise the presence of God in the context of our humanity. But how do we receive and respond to this freedom?  Where does this freedom come from and where does it lead?  How do we take this second step?  This is where the mystery of God’s provision applies.  Because he has placed us in Christ, we also died with him and have been raised with him. We know, however, that we are very much alive and our sinful nature abounds.  How is it then that we continue to sin?  A major reason appears to be not only the abuse of God’s grace, but the unbelief of what God has done.  The unbelief is partly because the reality of our experience shouts louder than the reality of what God has done.
Thus in Romans 6, Paul provides 3 steps to receive and respond to this freedom.
* First (v 6), we must know and remember what God has done.  We must realise that we have been crucified with Christ.  We should have been warned of this when we became Christians.
* Second (v 11), we must believe this and reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
* Third (vs 12-13), we must then yield ourselves to God and not to our own sinful desires.
Our bodies are very much alive but our self-centred nature has been crucified with Christ.  However, it is only as we know this, it is only as we believe this and as we then put this into practice that we appropriate and apply what God has done.  As we take these steps in the face of our selfishness, a Godliness can slowly and falteringly develop.  There can be a renewing of our minds and a conformity to Jesus. This is a gradual walk and needs to be applied to each situation.  As we do this, as we present our bodies and our minds as a living sacrifice, to be renewed by God, then we can move on to practise the presence of God, to fellowship with God and to love others.  Then we can start to move into true Christian wholeness.
YOUR PRACTICE:  As we respond to God and to what he has done, we can move our position into the practice of Christian wholeness and healing.  Wholeness was defined best by Jesus when he said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength … Love your neighbour as yourself’.  So as we struggle with issues, we start to bring into God’s light and into God’s presence these problems and, together with God and a fellow traveller, we can move on. The pains and hurts of the past and the present can be cast on God; we are now not alone.  As they are faced, the past which lives in the present can be let go on and released.  Forgiving others starts to become possibe.  Changing thoughts, perceptions and behaviours in relation to oneself and others can begin again.  We go on again.  Love arises.  The salvation which God has worked in us starts to become worked out.
So we are freed to respond and to relate with God. In the context of pain and sin, we can actively relate with God and in doing so can actualise and realise the presence of God in their humanity.  Being very real, we can start to interact with God, to imitate Jesus and to slowly experience some kind of intimacy with the Trinity.  We can start to  live who we are, to walk by the Spirit and not just to be born of the Spirit. Shame and guilt no longer hold their power.  We are free to leave our self-centredness to live a God-centred life.  We are free to respond to God even as the Psalmist did, in ruthless reality.  We can now move from the isolation and aloneness of darkness into abiding in God. This is not ‘airy fairy’ or living in some supernatural spiritual cloud.  This is relating to God and being free to do so as a very real human being.  Having reconnected with God, hope revives and we can once more go to others to love them and to bring God’s healing to them.  There is power to go to those who have hurt us, in our families especially.  There is power to be real about the pains which we have received from others and yet to go and to seek and touch our offenders with the wounded hands of Jesus. Spiritual warfare can be done.  This is practising the presence of God.  This is the narrow road which brings life.  This is knowing God and showing God.  This is being filled with the Spirit.  This is the narrow path that leads to life, and healing.

RETURN TO THE START:  Yet so quickly practising the presence of God seems to disappear yet again in our sins and failings from which we have just come.  And so, returning to the reality of our failures, we can AGAIN turn to our position in God and from there move on to practising a God-centred way of life.  This is not sinless perfection, but a spiral – from practising the presence of God to falling back into sin to repenting, to walking on with God.  As we do this, it is more than going round in circles.  We spiral up on a journey, as with wings like eagles, slowly rising in sanctification.  As we take hold of God in this way, God takes hold of us and as we open to God, God fills us with his Spirit. This is the spiritual aspect of healing – abiding in God, and is something which we need to encourage in each other.  However, when things get too hard, a place like the Christian Wholeness Counselling Centre can further facilitate healing.  Consultants cannot of themselves do the work, but in closeness to the suffering clients, and in the presence of God, all three in a healing triangle can walk the road to true healing, to wholeness, to Shalom.


Summary: a sequence of healing and wholeness.

START HERE:           “I Admit and am Real about my Failures.”

1ST STEP:                  “I Believe and Receive God’s Forgiveness.”

YOUR POSITION:    God’s Presence, Placing, Purposes and Provisions.

2ND STEP:                 “I Choose to Respond to God’s Freedom.”

YOUR PRACTICE:   “I Do live and Relate with God in the Fullness of his Spirit.”


© Renewal Journal 4: Healing (1994, 2011) Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included.

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Comments on: "Christian Wholeness Counselling by John Warlow" (1)

  1. Lee Duncan said:

    Wonderful to hear of the establishment of a Christian Healing Centre in Brisbane. Dr John Warlow and team are to be highly commended for taking the time to set it up – no rushing and careful planning. I’m sure it will prove to be a well of deep-seated healing and hope for many.


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