2. Emotions and Spiritual Growth
“Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” –Kind David (Psalm 26:2)
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” –King Solomon (Proverbs 4:23)
“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND” –Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37)
“How are you?” This is a question we hear or ask more often than any other questions. When we are asked this question, more often than not, we don’t pause and think about it; we just answer short canned answers, like: “Good!” “Fine!” “All right!” “Pretty good!” “Quite well!” The reality is that people don’t have time for deeper conversations. Therefore many settle for shallow relationships with other human beings and with God. But, if we would really take the time and think deeper about how we really are, would our answer be different? Ponder upon: What are we thinking about? How we are really feeling? What is the true state of our emotional life? So, let me ask you again: “How are you?” How would you answer now?
Take a few moments and meditate upon your life’s experiences. Dig a little deeper, go further into the past. How about the time when your father scolded you for no apparent reason? When your mother raised her voice and lashed at you in anger? When your big brother broke your favorite toy? When you big sister stole your most favorite doll? How about when your teacher gave you a bad grade even though you studied so hard? When the captain of the cheerleader’s squad did not pick you, but instead selected your best friend because she was prettier than you? How about when you did not make the football team because you were not that athletic? When your boss promoted one of his buddies even though you were more qualified than him?
Let’s go even deeper, shall we? How about when you were invited to sleep over at your friend’s house then her big brother introduced you to the misery of sex, and stole your virginity? When you were bullied by a bigger guy just two blocks from school? When your uncle played nice with you, then, when nobody was home, molested you? How about when your father came home under the influence of alcohol and beat up your mother in front of you? When your parents split because your father cheated on your mother or vice versa?
Should we go on reflecting upon some of the church related experiences? Remember when sister so and so or brother so and so did not treat you nicely? When you heard, via the grapevine, that brother X or sister Y spoke negatively about you? How about when the pastor ignored you and your family (over and over again) but showed multiple favors to a particular brother because he is among the bigger donors of the church? And on and on it goes.
Do you mean to tell me that all of these and many other incidents did not affect you at all?
So, let me ask you again: “How are you?” Are all these little or big scars from the past completely resolved? Are the recent incidents completely resolved? We all know that people don’t bury their emotions dead; they bury them alive. And when we least expect it they show up in the present situation.
Emotions and why are they important?
Are emotions something that is negative or positive? Does God want us to be happy? What do we do with our emotions? The ability to feel comes from being created in the image of God. There are numerous emotions that human beings experience. It is important for us to identify our emotions. When we have troubles with this, our relationships suffer. As Christians, being able to have close relationships with other Christians requires the skill to relate at the emotional level as well. Cultivating an intimate relationship with God requires more than our intellect, it requires being in touch with our emotional side too. The ability to communicate about our feelings is important in building and maintaining close relationships.
Emotions are complex.
Simply put, emotions are feelings on the inside, which are caused by pain or pleasure, and they will try to move you in a certain direction. According to some theories, “they are a state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior.” (Psychology Second Edition. (41 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010: Worth Publishers), 2011. p. 310.)
The Feelings Wheel, developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox, helps people learn about and to identify their emotions. This tool consists of an inner circle with five sectors and two outer concentric circles. The sectors are each labeled with the name of a primary feeling: mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful, and peaceful. The outer rings contain names of secondary feelings related to the primary ones. To properly use this tool, we must first become familiar with it. Simply use the Wheel to identify what you are currently feeling. Most people can easily identify the six primary emotions from the center. Start with one of those feelings then explore it further to discover associated feelings. By doing this you can better understand your current state of mind and emotions. We may have to do these type of exercises every so often so we can develop the skill of being in touch with our emotions.
It is widely recognized now that our emotions are acting like deception detector. Robert E. McGee explains that, “Our hurtful, negative emotions are similar to the body’s mechanism of creating fever.” When we have a fever, we pause and take the right medication to get well. We should do the same when we experience some of those negative emotions. We should stop and explore what is going on with our soul and take the proper steps to ensure that the soul gets well. Unfortunately many people resort to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or other activities in order to deal with the hurtful and negative emotions. But if we are honest with ourselves, and with God, the Holy Spirit can assist us in the process of ‘emotional healing’. The Spirit is the supernatural deception detector. If we pay attention to our negative feelings and go to God in prayer, the Holy Spirt brings us to the truth. And as the Lord Jesus promised, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
Should we consider our feelings and emotions as part of the process of spiritual growth? In our relationship with God, should we ignore the emotional side of our humanity entirely? Not at all! I think that the Scripture is very clear that God cares for our emotional side as much as for our spiritual side. In his letter to Thessalonians, Paul writes that God is fully committed to sanctify us wholly: spirit, soul, and body. (See 1 Thess. 5:23-24).
God is an emotional Being:
God has the ability not only to think and to will, but also to feel. In other words, God is an emotional Being. The Bible speaks about God’s emotions like anger (Psalm 7:11; Deuteronomy 9:22; Romans 1:18), laughter (Psalm 37:13; Psalm 2:4; Proverbs 1:26), Compassion (Psalm 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36), Grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40), Love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3), Hate (Proverbs 6:16; Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5), Jealousy (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Joshua 24:19), Joy (Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41).
Jesus expressed emotions during His earthly ministry:
Jesus freely expressed emotions during His earthly ministry as well. The Gospels record that the Lord Jesus felt compassion; He was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal. Jesus was surprised and amazed; He rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy and He loved. Also, the Lord was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved. The Lord Jesus sighed; He wept and sobbed; He groaned and He was in agony, and He was greatly desired.
Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity is an emotional Being as well:
The Holy Spirit is a Person not a Force or a Power. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. As a person the Holy Spirit expresses a variety of emotions.
Unbelievers can commit blasphemy against Him. (See Matthew 12:31-32, 1 John 5:16). Believers can lie, deceive, or tempt Him. (See Acts 5:3-4, 9). The Holy Spirit can be grieved. (See Ephesians 4:30).
Church goers can despise or insult the Spirit of God. (See Hebrew 10:29).
Based on the vast amount of scriptural evidence we can state, very confidently, that emotions are an important part in the process of spiritual growth. “Scripture not only speaks about emotions, it also speaks to and through our emotions. The Bible itself is emotional literature, filled with emotional expression and designed not just to communicate with our rationality but also to stir us emotionally, thus affirming our emotionality.” (D. G. Benner, “Emotion,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984) 352.)
With love in Christ,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
Thank you for your continuous prayers and financial support!!!
“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” (Gal. 6:6).
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Thank you so much!
1. Illumination is Necessary
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) –Jesus Christ
“Life is lived forward but only understood backwards.” -Soren Kierkegaard
“Lord, let me know myself; let me know You.” – St. Augustine
“It's impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.” –Peter Scazzero
“He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” –Gospel of Matthew 8:17b
Emotional pain is a reality of life. More often than not we don’t realize the extent of our hurt so we don’t pursue healing. The problem is not that we lack wisdom but rather that we lack objectivity. As a result, we go through life covering our pain using various methods.
Some of those methods could be:
Why do so many people lack objectivity? Why can’t we see the reality for what it is?
Here are some possible answers:
We all wanted our parents to be loving and supportive when we were growing up but often times they were not. As result of this and many other experiences, we developed defense mechanisms to block and cope with pain, and pursued other ways to gain significance.
However, this is not the proper way to live life. It leads to:
The good news is that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and encouragement from loving mature Christians we can get to the bottom of all these issues that rob us of experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10b.
God desires us to be honest and acknowledge the hurt and negative emotions. The Bible teaches us, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6). We can be real with God. He can handle our emotions even if they are unpleasant. Dr. Neil T. Anderson writes, “Your emotions are to your soul what your physical senses are to your body.” In fact we must be real in order to be right. Our emotions reveal our belief. “In God’s eyes, if you are not real you are not right. If necessary, God may have to make you real to make you right with Him.”
We have many examples in Psalms in which people of God expressed their emotions before the Lord:
Feeling forgotten by God: “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2).
Feeling abandoned by God: “I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:9).
Feeling disappointed by God: “Why do You hide Your face And forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; Our body cleaves to the earth” (Psalm 44:24-25).
Overwhelming fear: “My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me” (Psalm 55:4-5).
In the so called imprecatory psalms the writers express prayer for the punishment of the psalmist’s enemies.
Anger towards the enemy and desire that they get punished: “O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD. Let them flow away like water that runs off; When he aims his arrows, let them be as headless shafts. Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along, Like the miscarriages of a woman which never see the sun. Before your pots can feel the fire of thorns He will sweep them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike.” (Psalm 58:6-9).
Of course the psalms also contain a multitude of positive emotions:
Deep feelings of longing after God: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Feeling of trust and confidence in God: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident” (Psalm 27:1-3).
Deep emotions of praise and thankfulness: “I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3).
We should not let hopelessness grip our lives. There is hope in God and with God! We should courageously address our negative beliefs, which are based on lies from Satan – the enemy of our soul.
Some of these beliefs could be:
We must keep in mind that God created us with deep needs for:
God and only He can truly satisfy all of those needs. Therefore, God is really interested in delivering us from all of the enemy’s lies. He uses the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and mature Christians to bring upon healing. According to God’s design, our desire to be loved, accepted, worthy, significant, and secure, comes from a deep need for self-worth. “Our fulfillment as Christians depends on the ability to apply God’s specific solution to life’s problems. That is why it is so important to know God’s truth accurately.”
Larry Crabb defines self-esteem as, “The basic personal need of each person to regard himself as worthwhile human being.” William Glaser writes, “Everyone aspires to have a happy, successful, pleasurable belief in himself.” Even the Bible says, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). A biblical view of self-concept is an accurate perception of ourselves, God and others, based on the truths of God’s Word. Robert McGee writes, “An accurate biblical self-concept contains both: strength and humility; sorrow over sin and joy about forgiveness; a deep sense of our need for God’s grace and a deep sense of the reality of God’s grace.”
Let’s never forget that the feeling of significance (self-worth) is crucial to man’s emotional, spiritual, and social stability. This is the driving element within the human spirit. Trying to change behavior only without truly understanding the engine behind the behavior is futile.
The hunger and the need for self-worth is God-given. Therefore, only God can satisfy our deep need for love, acceptance, worth and significance, and security. “He is the Creator. He alone can satisfy our deepest needs.”
With love in Christ,
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
 Dr. Neil T. Anderson, “Victory over the Darkens”, (Ventura, CA, Regal Books, 2000), p. 173
 Dr. Neil T. Anderson, “Victory over the Darkens”, (Ventura, CA, Regal Books, 2000), p. 178
 To imprecate means to invoke evil upon, or curse. Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139. (http://www.theopedia.com/imprecatory-psalms). Accessed on June 8, 2016.
 Robert S. McGee, “The Search for Significance”, (Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 1998, 2003), p. 10
 Robert S. McGee, “The Search for Significance”, ((Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 1998, 2003), p. 9-10
 Robert S. McGee, “The Search for Significance”, (Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, 1998, 2003), p. 11
Emotions and spiritual growth:
The main objective of the New Testament is to grow in Christlikeness. Let’s never lose sight of this! (See Romans 8:28-29, Colossians 3:9-10). It is accurate to assume that this includes both Christlike behavior as well as Christlike emotions. As Paul states in first Timothy chapter one verse five: “the goal of our instruction is love.”
And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love,
including all characteristics of the agape
love: joy, peace, patience, kindness,
(See Galatians 5:22-23).
In fact, only those virtues make us more
like Christ. I am sure that a sound
theology leads to thinking Godly thoughts
and have Godly affections after Him.
If we carefully read and study the Bible,
we realize that the Word of God contains
the norms for our thinking, our behavior,
and for our emotions and affections.
King David encourages his audience to
“Rejoice” and “Be glad”.
Example: “I will rejoice and be glad in
Your loving kindness, Because You have
seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul” (Ps. 31:7). “And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD; It shall exult in His salvation” (Ps. 35:9).
The same thing is expressed by Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Php. 4:4). “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
Peter tells us to cast all our anxieties on Him, because He cares for us. (See 1 Peter 5:7). Our emotions are part of the overall manifestations of the image of God in us – His beloved children.
God designed and created us in such a way that we desire our own good. As human beings we naturally seek that which we perceive will lead to a good life, happiness, and pleasure. Also, we avoid that which we perceive as bad or aversive or painful or unpleasant. In other words, the pursuit of happiness and aversion to pain and suffering is a basic principle of life. This has been etched into our very DNA. So we better listen and obey the Designer and the Creator and live happy and fulfilling lives.
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him.” (Deut. 30:15-20).
God is a Person and a Personable Being.
A proper understanding of emotions must begin
with the Creator and end with the Creator.
He is the Designer of it all. God is the chief
example of a Person and of personhood.
He is Absolute Personality, depending on
nothing for existence or definition.
God’s answer to Moses’ question:
“What is Your Name?” (Ex. 3:11) is
mindboggling: “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14).
God is the only self-existent, totally independent Person.
God is a Being who thinks, chooses, feels, speaks, loves and hates, get angry and expresses pleasure and displeasure. He acts like a person because He is a Person. God is a Holy Trinity – Three Persons but One God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The supreme revelation of who God is has been fully displayed in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ words are powerful! “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30). Moreover, “the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38). Jesus goes even further saying that: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). According to the author of Hebrews Christ “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). Paul also writes that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).
God’s nature and His character:
If we study the Bible carefully and attentively we arrive at the supreme conclusion that the nature of God is love (1 John 4:8) and His character is Holy. (Read Isaiah 6:3, Matt. 5:48, 1 Peter 1:16, Rev. 4:8). He is the Holy One, the perfect Personality. However, we have to be careful here, even though God is holy and He is love, “the reverse is not true; neither holiness nor love is God.” (Sam R. Williams, Ph. D., Toward a Theology of Emotion, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, winter, 2003). God is infinitely greater! That is why it is so important to deepen our relationship with God and pursue intimacy with Jesus by the revelation of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15). As we grow in the grace and knowledge of God, the Holy Spirit will reveal who we are as persons (Eph. 1:15-23) and to know what kind of persons we should be (1 John 3:1-3). Therefore we are called to fix our eyes on Him (Heb. 12:2) and to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:1-3). By doing this we understand what it means to be a real person – new being transformed into the likeness of God who created us (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10).
We stated already that God is a Person with emotions. Throughout the Scripture we have seen that God, in His relationships with His creatures, expressed various emotional manifestations. All these emotions and manifestations made God neither better nor worse. He is still faithful to His nature and character, and true to His supreme perfections. We can say that God is unchangeable and self-determining of His intrinsic nature as a holy and eternal being. God is unchangeable in His moral perfections. God cannot lie. This would be against His very essence as the God of Truth. So He is faithful in keeping His Word.
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever:
We are created by Him in His image and our supreme calling is to glorify Him now and eternally. This, and only this, will give us the highest fulfillment. Jesus told His disciples, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, …” (John 15:8). As many reformed believers know from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Shorter_Catechism. Accessed on August 16, 2016). Therefore to be truly fulfilled is to know God and to know God implies to know ourselves. As John Calvin wrote in Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves (Calvin, Institutes, 1.1.1. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.ii.html. Accessed on August 16, 2016). The same paradox caused St. Augustine to fervently pray: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions, AD 400) http://www.ccel.org/ccel/augustine/confess.pdf. Accessed on August 16, 2016). Indeed, to know God is the very essence of eternal life. Jesus tells us: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Wow! What a deep wisdom and powerful understanding! There is no wonder that the wisest earthly leader, King Solomon wrote: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; …” (Prov. 1:7, 9:10). And what is fear? Fear is one of the most powerful of all emotions! The reality is that if we turn that emotion towards God in holy reverence, we discover the inexhaustible fountain of divine wisdom. And from the Bible’s prospective, this should be the starting point.
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Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
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The Apostle Paul knew exactly what needs to happen inside His Church. He was not scratching his head looking for methods from the Greeks or Romans in HOW to build the Body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit revealed to Paul what the GOAL is. He writes, “But the GOAL of our instruction is LOVE from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear to Paul what is the ‘most excellent way.’ (1 Cor. 12:31) The danger then was that Christians desired more the ‘gifts’ than the Giver of gifts. So he writes with confidence: “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). After this Paul wrote the LOVE chapter – 1 Corinthians 13. He warns us, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
God revealed to Paul the Ultimate Intention – Fullness of Christ. He wrote about it in Ephesians. In this letter we can read, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. . . . but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13, 15).
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray two powerful prayers, which are recorded in Ephesians 1:15-23, and 3:14-21.
The stages of Spiritual Transformation have been outlined by the Holy Spirit in these two prayers:
1. Stage number one: Prayer for inner illumination
2. Stage number two: Spiritual revelation
3. Stage number three: Supernatural understanding of our True Identity
4. Stage number four: Experiential knowledge of Christ
5. Stage number five: Strengthened in the inner person by the power of the Holy Spirit
6. Stage number six: Being rooted and grounded in Love, and knowing the spiritual dimensions of Christ’s Love
7. Stage number seven: Being Filled up with the Fullness of God.
(It continues on the left column...)
We all learned already that only the Presence of Christ leads to genuine transformation. Just head knowledge, (as important as that sounds), is not sufficient for transformation. After we are born again, two type of transformations are fundamental in our lives as Christians:
M1: Mind Renewal – Gr. Metanoia (Romans 12:2)
M2: Transformation of the Inner Person – Gr. Metamorphosis (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Paul writes, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
The prerequisite for transformation is transparency. Paul writes, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
With these foundational elements in mind we would like to become equipped to assist other brothers and sisters in Christ to experience M1 = Mind Renewal – (Gr. Metanoia) and M2:Transformation of the Inner Person – (Gr. Metamorphosis).
We will like to go to together thorough the following processes:
I. Advanced Discipleship Training
II. Integration of Emotional Health and Spiritual Growth
III. Spiritual Mentors
We will like to walk together through the following Platforms:
1. M1 - Mind Renewal – (Gr. Metanoia)
2. FF – FREEDOM thorough FORGIVENESS
3. BPP – BREAKING the POWER of the PAST
4. M2 – Transformation of the Inner Person – (Gr. Metamorphosis)
May God bless all of us!
Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach
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Please contact us immediately for: Christian Counseling & Discipleship Training in Person & ONLINE, and Spiritual Life Coaching in Person & ONLINE