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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

BCC Weekend Resource: Gay Marriage, Speaking the Truth in Love, and the United States Supreme Court

ACBCGayMarriageSCOTUS

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we frequently highlight relevant biblical counseling resources from around the biblical counseling world. This weekend we highlight an extremely relevant video by Heath Lambert, Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) entitled: Gay Marriage, Speaking the Truth in Love, and the United States Supreme Court.

Written just before the ruling was announced, Dr. Lambert first provides a concise, caring, and very helpful historical overview of the SCOTUS case, Obergebell v. Hodges. He then overviews the implications of the then-likely ruling. Next, Dr. Lambert outlines 4 principles from Ephesians 4:15 relating to “speaking the truth in love.” In doing so, he explains how Ephesians 4:15 relates to our biblical counseling response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

This video is just one in a growing list of Truth in Love podcasts by the ACBC. Find all of these extremely helpful resources at Truth in Love at the ACBC’s site.

Be equipped to speak the truth in love by viewing Dr. Lambert’s ACBC video, Gay Marriage, Speaking the Truth in Love, and the United States Supreme Court.

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Megaphone Post, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Theology | Tags: , , ,

Are Your Counselees God-Fearing Christians?

God-FearingChristians

A Note From Your BCC Team: If you are looking for our typical “Friday 5,” we would encourage you to go to our Tuesday post: 3 Dozen Posts on the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage. Here’s how we introduced that post:

Typically every Friday we bring you the “Friday 5”—links to the top 5 biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week. This week we have moved our “Friday 5” to Tuesday (“The Tuesday 36”) because of the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex marriage (Obergebell v. Hodges). Rather than 5 links, we have 36 links for you today—links that help us to prayerfully think through a biblical response to this ruling.

So, instead of a “Friday 5,” today you can enjoy Shannon Kay McCoy’s post, Are Your Counselees God-Fearing Christians?

Learning the Fear of the Lord

When was the last time you heard someone say, “She is a God-fearing woman,” or “He is a God-fearing man”? If you are over 40 and grew up in the Bible Belt, you must have heard it once or twice. Well, it is a lost concept in today’s society. Not even Christians refer to one another as God-fearing men or women. Do we even know what that means anymore?

There was a time in history when one of the main qualities a person looked for in the choice of a spouse was that of a God-fearing man or a God-fearing woman. Generally speaking, they were looking for someone who would be described as a Christian, devout, reverent to God, churchgoing, and serious about living the Christian life.

One of the goals of a biblical counselor is to teach our counselees to be God-fearing men and women. In Psalm 34:11, King David instructs the people to listen to him so that he can teach them the fear of the Lord.

Sinful Fear

Most people who seek biblical counseling are at a crisis point. They are desperate to have a problem fixed. They have a blatant or underlying fear of people and/or their circumstances. Their view of their problem is bigger than their view of God. Sinful fear is blinding them to a holy fear of God. Call it peer pressure, people-pleasing or codependency, fear is the driving force. Ed Welch says in his book, When People Are Big and God Is Small, that people are “controlled by whoever or whatever they believe can give them what they think they need.”

Sinful fear leads to sinful thoughts, words and actions. They see their problems as being more powerful and significant than God. When our problems are bigger than God, they control us. They are given the power to control how we feel and what we do (Proverbs 29:25).

The Fear of the Lord

Our counselees know that God must be bigger than their problem but they cannot see it. Our goal is to teach them to fear God more than they fear people or their problems. The fear of the Lord is to acknowledge God’s superiority and power over man, to recognize His deity and to respond in awe, humility, worship, love, trust, and obedience. John MacArthur says, “The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s.”

Our counsel from Scripture must be embedded in the fear of the Lord. Our counselees need the knowledge of God and His wisdom to apply to their problems. The fear of the Lord is the very foundation of that knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Their every thought, motive, word and deed must be influenced by the fear of the Lord. Living their lives by the fear of man and their circumstances demonstrate a lack of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

When our counselees speak from fearing people and their circumstances, we are to teach them to fear the Lord by knowing who He is. Psalm 91 is a great passage to teach and to remind them of who God is. Psalm 91 teaches us that God is our shelter and resting place (v. 1), our refuge, our fortress, our God (v. 2), our Savior (v. 3), our cover, our shield, our rampart, (v. 4), our dwelling (v. 9), our guardian (v. 11), our rescuer, our protector (v. 14), our answer, our deliverer (v. 15), and our salvation (v. 16). This view of God overshadows any problem they are facing. Now wisdom is needed to know how a right view of God affects their problems.

We must teach them that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is applying the knowledge of our awesome God to their problems. Proverbs 2 is an excellent passage to discover the value of wisdom. This passage teaches us how to pursue wisdom for our lives. The counselee must expend effort to gain wisdom for their problems. This involves putting aside self-absorption and giving one’s self to listening to God’s words and taking them to heart (v 1). The imperatives in this passage means that there is no room for spiritual passivity. There are eight imperatives:

  1. Receive God’s words.
  2. Treasure His commandments.
  3. Make the ear attentive.
  4. Incline the heart.
  5. Cry for discernment.
  6. Lift up the voice for understanding.
  7. Seek wisdom as silver.
  8. Search wisdom like hidden treasure.

Our role as the counselor is to help our counselees to understand how to pursue this wisdom and to make it a way of life.

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord

The teachings from Proverbs are built on the fear of the Lord. In the first chapter, we are taught that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). In the last chapter, we are admonished to praise the woman who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30). Throughout the book of Proverbs we see the benefits of fearing the Lord:

  • Discover the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5).
  • Prolongs your days (Proverbs 10:27).
  • Strong confidence and a place of refuge (Proverbs14:26).
  • The fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27).
  • The instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 15:33).
  • Keeps us from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
  • Leads to life (Proverbs 19:23).
  • Rewards with riches, honor and life (Proverbs 22:4).

There are many more benefits found in the Book of Psalms. We must encourage our counselees to study, understand, and apply these benefits to their problems.

The Transformation of Fearing the Lord

Living in the fear of the Lord will transform our counselees’ lives. They will begin to see their problems from a biblical perspective. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way; and the perverted mouth, I hate.” This is a wonderful verse to unpack in the counseling room and can be applied immediately to their heart issues.

What a blessing it is to see our counselees walk away from counseling as God-fearing men and women. Let this be the goal for our very own lives and for our counselees.

Join the Conversation

Is your counsel built on the fear of the Lord or is it an abstract concept? Do you see the benefit of explaining the fear of the Lord to your counselees? In what ways can we highlight this truth to our counselees?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Christian Living, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

10 Cross-Focused Principles Versus 10 Horizontal Strategies for Dealing with Anger

10CrossFocusedPrinciples

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Three of a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Biblical Counseling and Anger. In today’s post, Tim Allchin contrasts 10 Cross-Focused Principles Versus Horizontal Strategies for Dealing with Anger. You can also read Part One by Bob Jones on, 3 Compelling Reasons Why We Must Deal with Our Sinful Anger. And you can read Part Two by Steve Midgley as he addresses the question, What Is It About Parents and Anger?

Rage Is a Heart Issue

In the past year, we have seen more conversation about domestic violence than ever before. Spurred on by high profile cases where athletes and celebrities have crossed lines, domestic violence and anger management has been thrust into national conversation like never before. With various views on exactly how to rehabilitate those who perpetrate violence in anger, differing strategies are part of the conversation about rehabilitation.

Perhaps more than ever before, those who lose control in anger and perpetrate domestic violence reap swift consequences from the law and employers. Churches have begun to craft policies about dealing with domestic violence as well. This is a conversation we as biblical counselors will be asked to address.

While domestic violence is far more complicated than simply getting angry, it is undeniable that domestic violence involves rage out of control. Sometimes this rage is an intentional strategy to intimidate, and other times it is the less intentional result of conflict blown out of control. Either way, domestic violence is evil and destructive and must be addressed better than just behaviorally and culturally. Rage is the spiritual antithesis of who God calls us to be (Proverbs 25:28). Rage is a heart issue, a worship disorder.

How do we help those who are stuck in patterns of destructive anger? Typically, the culture focuses on horizontal strategies to manage emotions by controlling the environment or surrounding people. While these may help for a season, the world fails to recognize the spiritual battle going on in the hearts of those who are filled with rage, so changes often fail to last.

Listed below are 10 common horizontal strategies employed by those who seek to help angry perpetrators deal with anger. These are primarily cognitive-behavioral. While they may not be all bad, they are incomplete. We must look vertically at each one through the lenses of the Cross—and see how Christ brings hope into conversations about rage.

Strategy # 1: Manage It

We’re told, “Focus on learning self-control over angry outbursts; know yourself better. When the dial is being turned up, defuse the situation with an appropriate thought process.”

The cross reminds us that we can do better than just managing our emotions. We can have increasing victory over anger through heart change, learning to defuse it at the foot of the Cross where we lay down our life in exchange for His life in us (Philippians 1:21), and letting His emotions reflect through us by the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26). Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and is developed through dependent, obedient practice. The heart (thoughts and beliefs, desires and intentions of the will) dictates behaviors (right or wrong) and emotions (positive or negative). As we learn to control angry thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), acting in godly ways regardless of how the other acted (Romans 12:18-21), the blessings of positive emotions follow.

Strategy # 2: Distract It:

Cognitive-behavioral teaching says, “Go to your happy place, Tahiti, Hawaii, or a remote mountaintop cabin…escape there and you will feel less angry.”

Rather than mentally checking out, the Cross provides a focal point to reflect and to transform our negative attitude into gratitude. Thankful people don’t struggle with anger the same way that critical complainers do because they are focused on what has gone right, not what is going wrong (1Thessalonians 5:18). God calls us to look for the good that can come out of difficult circumstances (Genesis 50:20).

Strategy # 3: Redirect It

The world tells us, “Run, swim, box, climb mountains—use the energy of anger to accomplish great things. Punch a pillow, scream, or take bubble breaths to calm down.”

The Cross reminds us to remember love in our redirection efforts (1 Corinthians 10:13-14). God expressed wrath at sin by reaching out in love to save sinners. We must use the energy of our anger to correct problems, as Jesus did in the Temple, redirecting His Father’s house from a den of thieves back to a House of Prayer. Energy used in destructive ways is sinful, and even neutral acts do not address the heart issues. Only by asking ourselves how we can constructively solve problems do we use the energy in ways that honor God.

Strategy # 4: Avoid It

We’re told, “Make sure that what triggers your anger is no longer part of your daily life and routine. Set up boundaries, walls, and routines to avoid the stressors that trigger your anger.”

The Cross compels us to take risks rather than avoid pain (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Christ did not model for us to avoid the situation, but rather He endured the suffering for the sake of love (Hebrews 12:1, 2). Avoidance is motivated by fear, and fear suffocates those who are controlled by it (Proverbs 29:25).

Strategy # 5: Minimize It

The world says, “Take a deep breath, count to 10, it won’t be so bad 30 seconds from now once the adrenaline of your anger has come down. Remember the poor kids in Africa, and you will realize that you don’t have it so bad. Get over yourself.”

The Cross demonstrates just how severely God views the sin we commit and the sin committed against us. We can be grieved by sin and acknowledge the savage hurt it has caused, but we live in the hope that all will be made right (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

Strategy # 6: Redefine It

We’re told, “It’s not anger; call it venting, disappointment, hurt, frustration, annoyance, irritation, etc. If anger is wrong in your mind, then don’t be angry, but find a less intense way of expressing yourself.”

Because of the Cross, we don’t need to cling to robes of self-righteousness when a perfect remedy is available to us (Romans 5:8). Our anger/rage is ugly to others, and more importantly to God. Rather than redefine our anger as less than sin, the cross gives us confidence that our sinful hearts can be redeemed and changed. Our heart reveals what or whom we love through our words (James 3:8-10). For those who want God first, this is important to know and to evaluate about ourselves as we acknowledge sinful anger for what it is and how we are expressing it.

Strategy # 7: Medicate It

The world tells us, “Drink your blues away,” as often the means to deal with anger that has built up over time. “Life is short; have an affair,” as adultery soothes the pain of bitterness. “Happiness is a day at the mall.”

Jesus said, “Come to me all you are weary, and I will give you rest.” Rather than finding temporary peace in the bottle or other idol, God desires to give us comfort and rest. We don’t need to escape pain. In the cross, we are reminded of a God who understands and endured pain for us (Philippians 3:10). When we suffer wrongs for His sake, we are blessed.

Strategy # 8: Arouse It

We’re told, “Punch, hit, or kick a punching bag. Use your anger in aggressive physical activities. Funnel your anger into better tackles, extreme sports, or chopping wood.”

The Cross does not ask us to minimize our pain, but rather it gives hope in the midst of pain. Life hurts often and it is ok to admit that. We have a God who proved He cares by taking our ultimate, painful penalty upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24). The problem with the redirect and arouse strategies is that the real anger often comes out toward innocent bystanders, such as the spouse or children.

Strategy # 9: Pacify It

The world says, “Learn to negotiate better and improve your peacemaking strategies. Rather than facing conflict, avoid it by almost any means.”

The Cross is God’s ultimate and universal solution to peace. His love brings peace, where angry conflicts bring pain and confusion. The Cross gives us confidence we will eventually have peace, but it also reminds us that we should not be fighting for peace! God has already won the battle, and through the sanctification process we can all enjoy the victory won at the Cross. God blesses Peacemakers, not peace breakers or peace fakers!

Strategy # 10: Toughen It

We’re told, “Develop thick skin and refuse to care. Life’s disappointments hurt less this way!”

We don’t need to overlook life’s disappointments. The Psalms are full of anger, rage, fear, disappointments, guilt, and shame—all the negative emotions we experience (Psalm 32, 73, 77, 102, etc.), yet the Psalms always point us back to a loving God who is ready to help in times of our trouble (Psalm 20:7; 50:15). Without the Cross, life is hopelessly futile, but through the Cross, God’s love covers us throughout the disappointments of life.

When we proclaim the truth of the Cross and focus on the vertical with our counselees, we help them to overcome anger because their heart focus and worship changes. As biblical counselors, we can employ many of the healthy horizontal strategies, but we must not stop there. Helping counselees to see the Cross as the answer for their anger is crucial to defusing anger in a way that pleases the Lord and setting them on a path of permanent change and continued growth.

While this is a brief skeleton of what we must flesh out in counseling, my hope is that we are learning to think biblically about cultural issues and that our conversations will point others to Christ and the Cross.

Join the Conversation

How would you compare the world’s counsel for dealing with anger with the Word’s counsel?

Topics: Anger, BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

What Is It About Parents and Anger?

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A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Two of a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Biblical Counseling and Anger. In today’s post, Steve Midgley addresses the question, What Is It About Parents and Anger? You can also read Part One by Bob Jones on, 3 Compelling Reasons Why We Must Deal with Our Sinful Anger.

The Question

What is it with parents and anger? Why do they get so angry? Or, depending on your point of view, what is it with parents these days?  Don’t they care what their kids are doing?

Most of us know how it goes when a parent rebukes a child for running into the road or because they have run off and disappeared in a shopping mall. Many of us will have been the parent in that very situation. Almost invariably it is an occasion for anger. At one level, that’s more than a little odd. Having snatched a child back from the brink of death or recovered them from the threat of a stranger abduction, you might expect a parent’s first instinct to be delight or even joy. But it isn’t, it is invariably rage. “Don’t you ever do that again!” “What were you thinking of—you must never ever run off like that again!”

The anger, of course, spills out of the love. It is precisely because the child is so prized and treasured that the prospect of losing them is so very awful. And so the parent rages against the folly that meant the child put their own life in danger.

So, it really shouldn’t surprise us that God, our heavenly Father, also becomes angry with us when our own folly puts us in spiritual danger. And it’s no surprise either that we see anger and exasperation in the life of Christ as He responds to the spiritual folly of the Pharisees in Mark 3:5 and the spiritual dullness of the disciples in Matthew 17:17.

In Our Ministry

How does this work out in our ministry and when we counsel those in trouble? How do we speak to those whose spiritual health is under threat? Is there a passion for their good? Is it obvious to those we counsel that we are deeply moved by the spiritual peril they are in? I sometimes wonder if our calm, considered, and oh so very measured exterior serves us as well as it might. Whether our impassive, “nothing you say will shock me” face communicates what we really believe? Does it tell people how much we think these things matter?

Of course, I realise we can get this wrong, even badly wrong. It would not do to allow our passion to spill over into displays of anger that are intemperate and ungodly. It would not be right if anger and irritation welled up not from concerns for a person’s spiritual welfare but from a sense of personal irritation that our most excellent counselling advice has been ignored. But if it is appropriate for parents to feel a passion for the safety of their children, shouldn’t we who pastor feel a passion for those we pastor? And at times ought we not to let it show?

Paul told the Christians in Thessalonica “that he dealt with each of [them] as a father deals with his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11). There was nothing dispassionate or businesslike about the way Paul cared for those for whom he felt pastorally responsible.

And while passion must never lead us into ungodliness, we need to realise that dispassion can lead us into ungodliness too. Our pastoral ministry and our counselling ministry ought to matter to us. It ought to matter enough that we are moved by what goes on in the lives of those we counsel. Moved to joy and moved to tears and yes, even sometimes, moved to anger.

Join the Conversation

What is the role of righteous anger in counseling and pastoral ministry?

Topics: Anger, BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

3 Compelling Reasons Why We Must Deal with Our Sinful Anger

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A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part One of a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Biblical Counseling and Anger. In today’s post, Dr. Bob Jones shares 3 Compelling Reasons Why We Must Deal with Our Sinful Anger. Today’s post is adapted from chapter 10 in Dr. Jones’ book, Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem (P&R, 2005).

3 Compelling Reasons…

Why should we seek to uproot our sinful anger and replace it with godly fruit? In one sense, we must deal with it simply because God commands it (Matthew 5:21‑22; Ephesians 4:22‑24, 26-32; Colossians 3:8). Additionally, as we study the Scriptures, we find three compelling motives.

Reason # 1: Sinful Anger Ruins Our Health

First, we should deal biblically with our anger for the sake of our personal health. Long before the advent of modern medicine, the Bible described the psychosomatic (or “spirituo-somatic”) connection between sin and sickness, and between righteousness and health. Proverbs 14:29‑30 declares:

“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick‑tempered man displays folly. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (see also Psalms 32, 38; Proverbs 3).

The Hebrew structure suggests that the “patient/quick-tempered” antithesis parallels the “life to the body/rots the bones” antithesis. Anger damages the body; patience and peace bring health.

Centuries ago, the Puritan pastor-theologian Richard Baxter addressed this connection between anger and poor health:

“Observe also what an enemy anger is to the body itself. It inflames the blood, and stirs up diseases, and breeds the strength of nature, and has cast many into acute, and many into chronical sicknesses, which have proved their death.”

Modern physicians and research psychologists have observed the same correlation between anger and physical illness, including hypertension and stroke, heart disease, gastric ulcers, and bowel diseases. As one man confessed to me, amid his anger at his wife:

“I’m discouraged. I’m not sleeping, I’m losing weight, and I’m very tired physically and emotionally. My work is suffering….I want my walk with the Lord restored and these stomach pains to go away.”

He was a walking (or limping!) testimony of Proverbs 14. Sleep loss, weight loss, tiredness, and stomach pains attended his angry way.

Reason # 2: Sinful Anger Destroys Interpersonal Relationships

A second reason to deal biblically with our anger is that it injures and alienates others. It hinders our relationships and keeps us from loving our neighbors.

In Ephesians 4:26–32, Paul calls us to get rid of our anger. What do these commands have to do with interpersonal relationships? They emerge in the contexts of “one another” relationships (Ephesians 4:1-6; 4:25-5:2; also Colossians 3:5-17; James 3:13–4:12). Failure to get rid of anger prevents the proper unity, functioning, and growth of Christ’s body. It divides and cuts the Lord’s church. Perhaps no single Bible sentence strikes this point more forcefully than Luke 15:28, “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.” In his anger, he distanced himself from his friends and family.

Relational anger is a daily reality for those of us who counsel roommates, friends, marriage partners, and parents and kids. Children breathe the secondhand smoke of their venting moms and dads. We grieve over these broken relationships.

Reason # 3: Sinful Anger Grieves and Offends Our God

The two reasons above—personal health and relational peace—should motivate us to deal biblically with our anger. Yet these are not enough.

There is a third reason—the most important reason:

We must get rid of our anger to avoid God’s displeasure and to bring Him honor and delight.

In Ephesians 4:31, the apostle calls us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Why? Paul contextually precedes this command with another command in verse 30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

In other words, connecting verses 30 and 31 means that the worst consequence of anger is not colitis nor divorce but grieving God himself! The parallel passage in Colossians 3:5-11 conveys the same truths. Verse 8 commands believers get rid of all forms of anger because they invite God’s wrath against the ungodly (v. 6) and because they are incompatible with the new life God has given us (vv. 7, 10-11).

Perhaps the passage that most clearly shows our third point is James 1:19-20. The apostle calls us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Why? Not because it causes strokes and divorces (although it might do both), but because it dishonors, displeases, and offends God! As James writes, “for [an explanatory preposition in Greek] man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (v. 20, emphasis added).

For the Christian, the worst result of anger is that it dishonors, displeases, and offends our Lord. The preeminent rationale for biblical change—for replacing anger with godly fruit—concerns our relationship to God our Savior.

Let God’s Word Control Your Motives

In researching anger for my D.Min. project and subsequent book (Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem), I read various books on anger written by both secular and Christian therapists and psychologists. While I expected the secular writers to omit God, I was saddened by the number of Christian writers who basically did the same. According to these counselors, anger is bad because of what it does to my health and my relationships, but not to my God. The motive to change, in turn, easily becomes self‑centered—to please myself or others, not my Creator and Redeemer. These Christian books on anger provided little if any counsel on the need to mourn and repent of grieving the Lord. God’s presence was noticeably absent.

May God help us deal with our anger not just for our own sake or the sake of others but for His sake—to bring Him the delight, pleasure, and joy He desires and deserves. No higher motive exists.

Join the Conversation

Why do you think Christians should change their sinful anger?

Test the point of this article by polling some Christian friends: “What is the biggest reason why people need to deal with their anger problems?” See how their answers line up with our three motives. Why do we neglect the Bible’s central focus on God?

Topics: Anger, Biblical Counseling, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: ,

Side by Side: The BCC Weekend Megaphone Post

SideBySide

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we love to use our BCC “megaphone” to get the word out about significant biblical counseling resources and conferences. This weekend we are highlighting CCEF’s 2015 National Conference: Side by Side.

Who Is Side by Side For?

To learn who should consider attending the Side by Side conference, you can view an introductory video by Ed Welch here.

What Is Side by Side All About?

CCEF introduces their Side by Side conference with these words:

​“Vibrant ​church ​community ​is ​dependent ​on ​us ​being ​both ​needy ​and ​needed. ​So ​we ​want ​to ​grow ​in ​how ​we ​ask ​for ​help ​and ​how ​we ​give ​help. ​This ​conference ​is ​designed ​to ​guide ​us ​in ​those ​skills, ​with ​a ​focus ​on ​how ​these ​work ​in ​everyday ​friendships. ​Even ​in ​our ​professional ​culture, ​God ​is ​pleased ​to ​use ​needy ​people ​and ​ordinary ​conversations ​to ​do ​most ​of ​the ​heavy ​lifting ​in ​his ​kingdom. ​It’s ​the ​perfect ​system. ​If ​God ​used ​only ​experts ​and ​people ​of ​renown, ​some ​could ​boast ​in ​their ​own ​wisdom, ​but ​God’s ​way ​of ​doing ​things ​is ​not ​the ​same ​as ​our ​own. ​This ​conference ​is ​for ​ordinary ​people ​who ​need ​help ​and ​want ​to ​grow ​in ​giving ​help, ​and, ​as ​we ​grow, ​we ​hope ​to ​contribute ​to ​the ​ongoing ​transformation ​in ​our ​local ​churches.”

How Do I Learn More and Register?

To learn more, visit: CCEF’s 2015 National Conference: Side by Side

To register, visit: Rates and Registrations.

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Local Church Ministry, Megaphone Post, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , ,

Friday’s 5 to Live By

Friday's 5 To Live By

Each Friday our BCC staff links you to the top five biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week—posts that provide robust, rich, and relevant insights for living.

Theology and Biblical Counseling

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) is presenting the “Membership Draft” of the “Standards of Doctrine of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.” To see this draft and the approval process visit The Standards of Doctrine of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Church Revitalization

The Southern Baptist Convention has released a new guidebook on church revitalization. Learn more about this guidebook here.

3 Tasks for Dads

For Father’s Day, Whitney Woollard, writing for Gospel-Centered Discipleship, addresses 3 Tremendous Tasks for Dads (and Grace for When We Fail).

God’s Surprising Plans for Your Good

At Desiring God, Ben Stuart asks the age-old questions, “Why does God allow trouble to plague his people? How can it be considered loving for him to permit trials to run wild in our lives?” Read his response in God’s Surprising Plans for Your Good.

Counseling One Another

Paul Tautges announces that Counseling One Another Is Now Available as an E-book.

Join the Conversation

Which post impacted you the most? Why? What blog posts have you enjoyed this week that you want to share with others?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Five To Live By, Hope, Local Church Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Theology | Tags: , , , , ,

God’s Worldwide Purpose & Biblical Counseling: Can You See the Connection?

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God’s Vision

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”

I’m sure this is not the first time you have read this quote by John Piper. We have all quoted it, and been reminded by it, of God’s global vision and passion for reaching the world. However, as I recently read this quote again, it impacted me in a fresh and clear way.

In just a few days I’ll be leaving for Uganda to teach, along with my colleague, Dr. Ed Bulkley, a 40-hour week of lectures at the Ugandan Seminary as part of the I.A.B.C. (International Association of Biblical Counselors) training for certification. To accomplish this, we will be teaching this course material Monday through Friday, from 8 to 5. That’s my way of saying, “Please pray for us!”

What thrills me about this opportunity relates to what the leaders of the Ugandan Seminary have told us. In our initial planning conversations with them, they told us that they have never had biblical counseling offered in their country. They have been presented with psychology and integrated counseling systems, but they have never had any training in biblical counseling and the sufficiency of God’s Word for counseling (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 2:13). And the result of all the former systems of counseling had produced no real and lasting change in the lives of the believers in Uganda.

As believers, who love the Lord and His Word, they knew that a vital part of discipleship and growth was lacking in their culture. They had heard about biblical counseling and knew that it was the answer to life’s issues, so they had been praying and looking for the opportunity to bring biblical counseling to their country. So, when we were invited to come to Uganda and be the first to teach them about biblical counseling, we realized this was an opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in a life-changing way. But more importantly, it was a reminder that God was giving us an opportunity to “join His global purpose.”

Timeless Truth

Now, since God has a global purpose, then He must have global and timeless truths for the world in contrast to other systems of counseling. As we know, the secular and psychologized approach to change is not universal. They are not timeless truths for all generations and people groups. In contrast, the DSM is adjusted, not only over periods of time, but to fit each culture. So, what the DSM offers for American culture must be adjusted to fit Ugandan culture (or any other culture).

But, when we counsel from the Word of God, we present truths and answers that never need to be updated or adjusted to meet the needs of mankind and the deep issues of life.

It is true that the Truth of God’s Word will be lived out and applied differently from culture to culture, but the core and life-changing truths of Scripture remain the same. It is an all-sufficient Word to serve God’s global purpose of reaching the world, not just for salvation but for sanctification as well. If we truly believe this, then we should have the upmost confidence in God’s Word to transform other cultures at any point in time.

Unchanging Truths Verses Changing Therapies

Here are five reasons that I’m so excited to take God’s Word to Uganda. They are reasons that remind me why God’s Word is always enough to transform the heart and life of man at any time and in any culture.

  1. The Bible is the inspired Truth (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16). That means it is straight from God, not man. He is the source of the Truth. What has been spoken and written down by human authors, in both the Old and New Testament, was God speaking His Word to humanity.
  1. The Bible is eternal Truth (Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35). It is Truth that has been handed down from God that connects us back to the God of eternity past and remains unchanged forever. To this day, in any culture and time, it is still accurate in its diagnosis and solutions for the soul of mankind.
  1. The Bible is God’s wisdom (Psalm 119:23-24). Scripture only presents two sources of wisdom…God’s or everyone else’s. When it comes to man’s wisdom on life issues, man is constantly changing and adjusting to try and make sense out of life. But God’s wisdom is forever settled. He doesn’t need any assistant or insights from man.
  1. The Bible reminds man of his core problem of depravity and that he cannot change himself (Jeremiah 17:9). Man tends to put the focus on cultural deficiencies, a dysfunctional home, the terrible environment he grows up in, the lack of education and training, bad role models, etc. Though all those are real and troubling issues, and they do affect and contribute to the troubles and hardships in our world, it misses the core problem of man’s depraved heart and inability to make any lasting and true change. The Bible goes right to the core issue of all life’s problems.
  1. The Bible leads to a dependency upon God (Galatians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). God has so designed and revealed His Word that it creates a dependency on Him. It reminds us that we need such things as grace, mercy, strength, love, perseverance, etc. (all of which God gladly bestows on those who turn to Him). However, other solutions that are offered to other cultures ultimately produce dependency on man.

Join the Conversation

So, how has missions and biblical counseling been connected in your life and ministry? How have you seen God’s Word, in various cultures, prove to be sufficient?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Cross-Cultural Ministry, People Who Offer Care, Worship | Tags: , ,

What You Know Is Not Sufficient

WhatYouKnowIsNotSufficient

Here I was again in front of a struggling couple. The husband was in love with himself, doing everything that he wanted to do. The wife became a tired and bitter woman. She had probably asked herself a thousand times, “Why did I marry this guy?” Although this was not a unique scenario, the situation got awkward after weeks of counseling. There was little improvement. I had shared virtually everything that I believed was going to help them.

However, after a self-assessment of my own counseling, I had to admit that everything felt just vain. Ironically, I even had an answer for that: “These are hardened hearts. Sometimes they hear, sometimes they don’t!”

I had looked for answers in everything that I had learned. I thought on what my mentors had to say in the beginning of my counseling training. I tried to think on what they would say in this particular situation! My thoughts were all over the place: “If I could read at least one more book, or article, or even another post on marriage, then I could help them! Where can I find additional resources in order to help them? Maybe I am not fit for this task!”

The anxiety with my inability to help this dear couple lead me to spiritual exhaustion. What I did not know at that time was that I was finally getting close to the best position to help them.

At the end of the road, I had to look at their eyes and confess: “I don’t have anything else to say to you.” Then I prayed. I prayed the way I should always pray, recognizing my desperate need of Jesus. I had to pray asking God to help them because I could not. After the “amen,” I was shedding tears. They were shedding tears. We were all crying for help in a time of need. I was embarrassed to let them go with no hope. Sad. I knew that I should never do that to a counselee.

Spiritual Ignorance Leads to Spiritual Exhaustion

A couple of days later, I came across Proverbs 30:1-6. Although this was a familiar passage, I was ready to receive its instruction in a powerful way and in a time of great need.

“The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom…” (Proverbs 30:1b-3a).

What I have experienced is common to many counselors. It does not matter how far you have walked on this ministry road; you have faced or will face a situation that reminds you of your spiritual ignorance. Eventually, ignorance leads to exhaustion. Lack of wisdom can take you to a path of sinful lack of confidence.

The desperate temptation to solve spiritual ignorance proposes useless intellectual solutions. This is exactly where we go wrong in a pragmatic world. Ignorance and exhaustion tempt us to look for additional content. Do not get me wrong. Content is great and we should look for wisdom. The problem is that we pursue wisdom as an intellectual matter. We seek answers to a “what” question. However, true wisdom answers a “who” question!

Spiritual Ignorance Is Not an Intellectual Problem, but a Relational One

“Nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:3b, 4).

Agur, the author of these verses, recognizes that his ignorance is not because he does not know something, but ignorance regarding someone. Increasing what you know is not the solution to your spiritual ignorance. Spiritual wisdom comes through a relationship to someone.

Therefore, counseling is not merely imparting principles, but ultimately introducing counselees to the wonderful Redeemer. This is exactly what I had missed with my counselees. I was lecturing, not counseling. I was talking about the Bible, instead of ministering the Lord of the Bible.

Biblical Content Fuels Spiritual Relationship

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Therefore, the question shifts to “How can you grow in your spiritual relationship to Jesus?” Without a doubt, as a biblical counselor, I have to say “through the Bible!” My final answer and outward attitude have not changed. However, my whole attitude toward the problem has gained a fresh perspective on the person and work of Jesus, the incarnated Word of God.

The written Word of God alone fuels the relationship with the living Word of God.

What happened with the struggling couple? I did not see the husband for awhile. The events lead to church discipline. God showed Himself in such a way that I could never claim responsibility for his change. It was not my counseling wisdom. It was the doing of the perfect Counselor. God opened their eyes in true repentance. They came back for counseling and it seemed to be a fresh beginning. The couple, the counselor, and Jesus were all in the same room again. Outwardly, everything looked the same. The information was the same.

Nevertheless, the dynamics were totally renewed! It was not “what” I knew, but “who” we met in our ignorance: Jesus! It was not the wisdom of the counselor nor the will power of the counselee, but the wonders of the Wonderful Counselor! Counseling skills are not sufficient, but Christ is!

Join the Conversation

Have you ever struggled with lack of wisdom in counseling? Where and how did you find Jesus? Is there anything else that you could add to a situation where you lack wisdom to counsel? How can you encourage someone in the same situation?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Humility, Marriage & Family, People Who Offer Care | Tags: , ,

About the BCC

The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.