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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

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.

Mental Illness and the Church

In the biblical counseling world, how do we develop a compassionate and comprehensive response to those diagnosed with mental illness? Dr. Bob Kellemen, at his RPM Ministries website, addresses that question with a free resource on Mental Illness and the Church: Developing a Compassionate and Comprehensive Response.

3 Elements in Every Funeral Sermon

Pastor Brian Croft, at his Practical Shepherding site asks and addresses the question, What 3 Elements Should Be in Every Funeral Sermon? 

“Nice” Counselors and Vital Faith

Ed Welch, at the CCEF site, writes:

“John Bettler, the founding Executive Director of CCEF, was the one who taught me that “nice” is a dirty word. That is, nice can be a counterfeit of growth in grace because it seems patient and kind but could exist due to one’s genetic constitution or good circumstances. I, for example, am usually nice. I don’t scream and yell. I like most people. I usually do not say kind things while thinking unkind ones. But I was nice before being regenerated by the Spirit.”

Learn more about “niceness” not necessarily being Christlikeness in “Nice” Counselors and Vital Faith.

2 Big Reasons Our Evangelism Isn’t Working

Jonathan Dodson of Gospel-Centered Discipleship notes that:

“One in five Americans don’t believe in a deity. Less than half of the population attends religious services on a regular basis. People simply find our evangelism unbelievable. Why? While a person’s response to Christ is ultimately a matter that rests in God’s sovereign hands—something we have no control over—a person’s hearing of the gospel is a matter we do have control over and responsibility for.”

Read the rest of Jonathan’s post to learn 2 Big Reasons Our Evangelism Isn’t Working.

An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians

Tim Challies reflects on a John Piper quote:

“Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.”

Tim goes on to say: “This is the extraordinary ministry for every ordinary Christian—bearing the burdens of others. What seems so mundane and so unspectacular, is actually bringing great glory and honor to God.”

Read the rest of Tim’s post at An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians.

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: Five To Live By, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , , , , ,

How Healthy and Satisfying Is Your Sex Life? A Christian Evaluation Tool

How Healthy and Satisfying Is Your Sex Life--A Christian Evaluation Tool

A Message from Your BCC Team: Today’s blog was first posted at Brad Hambrick’s ministry site. You can also read the post there at How Healthy and Satisfying Is Your Sex Life? 

Being Excellent Lovers

The link below provides a 50-question, self-scoring evaluation that helps you and your spouse evaluate:

  • The shared beliefs and values necessary for a healthy sex life
  • The comfort with your bodies and vocabulary necessary for a healthy sex life
  • Factors related to the frequency and quality of a healthy sex life
  • Red flags that would derail a healthy sex life

Here’s the link to the Being Excellent Lovers Evaluation.

We addressed the subject of sexuality at the Sam James Institute Forum: Living in 50 Shades of Grey: A Cultural Assessment and Christian Education in Sexuality. In the second half of this presentation, I presented on “Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy God’s Gift of Sex.”

While the primary audience of this material was married or engaged couples, we believe that—in a culture that is already sex-saturated—having a wholesome view of what God intends sex to be in marriage can be an important asset in strengthening single’s resolve not to settle for something less outside the context of marriage.

A version of this presentation is available in videos 4 and 5 of the Creating Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy seminar.

Topics: Intimacy, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Sexual Purity | Tags: , , ,

Falling In and Out of Love

Falling In and Out of Love

A Message from Your BCC Team: Today’s blog was first posted at Paul Tautges’ ministry site. You can also read the post there at Falling In and Out of Love.

One Cry

I’m thinking about love for Christ tonight. How easy it is for us as believers to fall out of love with Jesus in the same sense as the Ephesian believers did. “You have left your first love,” Jesus said to them (Revelation 2:4). Their deeds and toil and perseverance for Jesus and the gospel were noteworthy, commendable. But Jesus had one thing against them. Their primary passion had shifted from Jesus—alone—to all the things they were doing for Him and, no doubt, also things from Him.

I got to thinking about this while reading One Cry by Byron Paulus and Bill Elliff. Here are the words that challenged me:

“Imagine a Christian, saved by God’s grace, saying to the Groom, Jesus Christ, ‘I want You to know that I’ll come to church most Sundays. I’ll occasionally read my Bible because I know I should. I’ll give a little bit, support missions, and maybe even teach children in Bible study. I’m committed to doing most of the Christian stuff. But, I just want You to know—I don’t really love You anymore.’”

Our Groom’s greatest desire is not His bride’s activity, but her undivided attention. Christ doesn’t want mere form, but passion. He longs for YOU. He wants an intimate relationship. In fact, He died for that intimacy to occur. He knows that all the right works flow from a passionate heart. But without love, a marriage—earthly or heavenly—is doomed. Love provides things that are found nowhere else.

Love for Christ is empowering. You can operate only so long out of duty, and not very well. Love fuels you with the passion for sustaining relationship.

And love is intriguing. When you love someone, you want to know more about them, and you discover that a lifetime cannot reveal all the inner reaches of their heart. When we are in love with Jesus we are drawn in, captured by the height and depth and breadth of His love. Our great desire is to know Him and experience Him in ever-increasing intimacy.

True love is more fulfilling than anything else as Christ becomes our greatest longing and greatest satisfaction. When we are experiencing the love of Christ, there is no need to look for joy anywhere else.

And love for Christ is contagious. Mere religious duty is not only insanely boring to us, but incredibly unappetizing to all who observe our dutiful rituals.

Let’s remember our first love, repent of our false loves, and return to the one supreme love.

Topics: Love, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Worship | Tags: , ,

May I Continue in My Sin, Please?

May I Continue in My Sin, Please

A Message from Your BCC Team: Today’s blog was first posted at Julie Ganschow’s ministry site. You can also read the post there at May I Continue in My Sin, Please? 

Because He Loves Me

Paul writes:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”(Romans 6:1-2, NKJV).

I have been going through the book Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick with a few women from my church. It seemed like the right time to do so because our pastor is preaching through Romans. I have been very blessed by both the book and the preaching, and I am rejoicing that my church is hearing what I have believed for so long to be true.

One of the questions that is frequently raised about living a grace-based faith is related to how we are to live under grace. People usually ask if they can still drink/smoke/party? They want to know if they have to stop watching their favorite programs, even if they are a little “off color”? Some defiantly say that if the Christian is clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and no longer under condemnation, why bother changing at all? If everything depends on Christ and my security in heaven is locked up, why does it matter how I live my life? Can’t I just do as I please?

The answer is found in Romans 6:2 and the following verses.

“Certainly not!”

Here is truth: a person who desires to do as they please, or who thinks it is just fine to live in sin because of grace is not desiring to honor and glorify God with their life. They have ignored the command to be holy.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16, NASB).

Grasping the Gospel

I would also say those who ignore the commands of Scripture really do not understand the gospel and don’t see themselves as being in Christ. If a person desires to continue to live as they please, they must not understand that in that union with Christ they have been empowered to live a new life! They have been given the ability to live the Christ-life and are able to live His righteousness! Every born-again believer is literally dead to sin.

Do you realize the gospel means that we have no excuse to live under the dominion of sin? We have no leeway to say things like, “I couldn’t help it” or “It’s not my fault.” Or, “Something just came over me.” None of those excuses apply to the believer in Christ who has been clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

When you and I sin, it is because we decide to. We actively set aside our Christ-righteousness, and we walk (or run) back to the tomb where our former self—dead, stinking, decaying, rotting, maggoty, filthy old formerly-known-as-you lay waiting for you to resurrect it and give it life once again. We dig it up and strap it on and away we go off to fulfill the wicked desires of our hearts. Like Dr. Frankenstein, once we breathe life into it we find it is very difficult to kill the monster.

Paul says that we are not obligated to live like that anymore. We do not have to live like slaves to our old sinful selves. Sin has no power over us.

“How shall we who died to sin live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2).

On the basis of who we are in Christ, we can stop any talk of living a sinful lifestyle and excusing our sin. We have been given an exalted position in the heavenlies, in Christ and we have the ability to live like it.

“Our old man was crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died has been freed from [the power] of sin” (Romans 6:6-7).

Do you believe this?

Is believing this enough to help you overcome sexual immorality? Is it enough to overcome lying, anger, or fear? Believing it is true is crucial and then you must live like you believe it is true. Believe in your heart that because of the gospel you are dead to sin and alive in Christ, and begin to live that way.

Commit to memory pertinent verses about the victory you have in Christ, or put them on your smart phone as your wallpaper. Make their references your computer log in ID, or some other password that you use repeatedly. Not only will you be reminded constantly of the truth from God’s Word, but as you change them frequently you will be adding security to your online access. It is such a simple thing, yet it will help change your life.

Memorizing verses is not enough however! I have so many people who are stuck in the same sinful rut tell me, “I’ve memorized all these verses!” The trouble is, they haven’t done anything with what they know. You must act on the truth as I said before. Stop living out your sinful desires, and begin to practice godly habits. It won’t happen overnight, but with diligence you will begin to see the fruit of your labor bloom into a harvest of righteousness and holiness.

Topics: Christian Living, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Sin, Theology | Tags: , , ,

The Embrace That Never Lets Go: Praying on Behalf of Those Too Weak to Pray

The Embrace that Never Lets Go--Praying on Behalf of Those Too Weak to Pray

A well-known biblical counseling ministry’s website has the slogan, “There is no hopeless situation or helpless person.” Although the citation does not come directly from the Bible, it might have made a good subtitle for Jesus’ healing ministry as recorded in Matthew. If we look closely at several of His miracles, we see an additional factor that should encourage us both as biblical counselors and as Christian friends: the power of intercession.

In Matthew 8:13, Jesus heals a centurion’s servant, marveling at the Roman’s faith. A few chapters later, Jesus encounters a demonized boy who could not be helped by His own disciples. His rebuke for their lack of faith is well-known, but what is easy to miss in this passage is that Jesus accepts one person’s faith on behalf of another. The son, like the centurion’s sick servant and the Canaanite’s daughter in chapter 15, was utterly helpless to seek the Lord himself. These people desperately needed healing and deliverance. And in His compassion, Jesus honors the prayer offered in faith for another’s well-being.

“Don’t Give Up!” (Luke 18:1)

What are the biggest hindrances to prayer? When we want to help others in their situation, we may feel we are completely “competent to counsel,” and be quicker to dole out advice than to hit our knees. “I’ve got this one covered, Lord…I know just what to tell her to ‘put off’ and ‘put on.’” This is, of course, pride.

Busyness is another hindrance. Failing to see “results” also causes us to give up—sometimes just before God moves. I have been amazed to see God restore broken relationships after I had quit, writing the situation off as “hopeless” in my mind. This is exactly the lack of faith for which Jesus chides His disciples. His hyperbolic statement about the “faith that moves mountains” (Matthew 21:21) is a direct reference to persistence in prayer—how often do we give up praying for a loved one’s salvation, a broken marriage, a strained relationship—because it seems impossible that God will change things? In the Gospel accounts, it appears that the only thing to disappoint Jesus is a lack of faith.

There are times when a sincere believer may be too weak to pray. Severely depressed counselees feel paralyzed spiritually. “Sometimes, you just don’t have the strength to even open the Bible,” one woman confided.

Many of us have had friends or teen children who have gone through a season in their life where they felt stuck in a dark pit, unable to pray, their faith shaken and damaged. Trapped in a suffocating, hopeless void, they need someone to stand in the gap.

We grieve with them. We would counsel, but they often are not ready to hear it. The only way we can sit next to them in the “pit” is to pray—and let them know we are doing so earnestly, often, and on their behalf.

When we are praying for another’s needs, we are taking their hand and entering the Throne Room of God together, in a kind of unseen fellowship that bridges time and geography. Yes, they may receive a measure of comfort simply by knowing that a friend is praying, but more importantly, interceding acknowledges that God alone is in control. Our faith is exercised as we pray; it is strengthened both when He answers and as we wait on Him.

Many times, I have actually felt the deep, assuring love God has for the friend I am lifting up to Him, even when the other person is still struggling. “I don’t know how You are going to do it, Lord, but please wrap Your arms tightly around so-and-so tonight. Hug my friend for me, and somehow let this person know that it is You. Please give some unmistakable encouragement that could only come from Your hand.” I have prayed this many times, not knowing how God was going to answer.

The Privilege of Prayer: Participating in the Embrace

Admittedly, it can be discouraging to intercede for someone who seems “spiritually unconscious.” In more cynical moments, I have questioned whether prayer was really just a way to feel like I was helping without actually doing anything. I once told a friend, “You can get the whole world praying for you, but if you’re not doing your part, it’s not going to help.”

Personal responsibility is definitely a biblical concept, but even in the case of a fellow believer being caught in sin, we’re still to pray: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life” (1 John 5:16).

However, very often it is not a “sin issue” for which a believer needs prayer. He or she may be hurting, maybe by the sin of another, sometimes by life’s circumstances, the sting of rejection, or suffering a great loss. Just as the father knelt before Jesus to plead for his son’s healing, we feel helpless begging Him to heal a friend’s broken heart. When we really trust that God will heal, we start to see this as a privilege.

And yet, we are not helpless. Neither are those for whom we are interceding—God is working behind the scenes. Crying out for those who are too weak to do so themselves is one of the greatest ways we “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Even when it doesn’t seem to be “working,” a faith-filled prayer offered on behalf of another greatly honors and pleases God.

Jesus did not respond to the Canaanite woman immediately—in order to illustrate what persistence looks like. When my counselee isn’t changing right away, my son’s sanctification is stalled, my friend’s heart is still broken, I need to remember that God is still listening. And He has those for whom I pray encased in His love, “wrapped in an embrace that won’t let go,” as a friend described it.

Throughout Scripture, believers are instructed to pray—to honor God, to guard ourselves from sin, and for one another. While God is Sovereign and knows the end from the beginning, we know that prayer changes things. How these truths work together remains a mystery, but one of the most straight-forward promises that God honors prayer comes from James 5:16:

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

People we care about need our prayer even more than our counsel. There are few joys greater than seeing someone for whom you have prayed earnestly emerge from a spiritual fog, walk away from doubts, and again start serving the Lord.

Join the Conversation

How can intercessory prayer become a central part of your biblical counseling ministry?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Faith, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Prayer | Tags: , ,

BCC Weekend Resource: Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness

The BCC Weekend Resource

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we love to highlight some of our BCC Resources. Today, we highlight a video from Brad Hambrick’s presentation, Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness.For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling. You can also visit the original link here.

The complementing studies Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Responsibility Paradigm and Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm are also available in a video format at these links.

Topics: People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Psychology and Christianity, Video | 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.

The Sheer Authority of God’s Word

Tim Challies reflects on a quote from John Frame:

“When God Commands, we are to obey. When he asserts, we are to believe him. When he promises, we are to embrace and trust those promises. Thus, we respond to the sheer authority of God’s Word.”

For the rest of the quote and for Tim’s introductory thoughts, visit The Sheer Authority of God’s Word.

A Prayer for Healing from Our Grace Allergies

Pastor Scotty Smith is the “Praying Blogger”—each of his blog posts is a daily prayer. In this post he prays, “Jesus, deliver us from our grace allergies—living with an aversion to the gospel.” Meditate on the rest of his prayer in A Prayer for Healing from Our Grace Allergies.

Open Minds, Soft Hearts, Ready Hands

Here’s another prayer, this one at Trevin Wax’s site where he shares a prayer from Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Reflect on his prayer at Open Minds, Soft Hearts, Ready Hands.

Pastor: Don’t Let One Critic Control Your Preaching

This week must be the week for quoting others. In this post, Paul Tautges quotes from Paul Tripp on Pastor: Don’t Let One Critic Control Your Preaching.

Are You a Good Listener?

Brad Hambrick shares an evaluation form to help you to answer the question: Are You a Good Listener?

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: Five To Live By, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Restoring Lives through the Gospel: The Story of Briarwood Presbyterian Church’s Biblical Counseling Ministry and Birmingham Theological Seminary

Birmingham Theological Seminary

A Message from Your BCC Team: At the Biblical Counseling Coalition, we love using our “megaphone” to fulfill our BCC mission: to advance the ministry of the biblical counseling movement. Sprinkled liberally throughout January and February we are using our megaphone to highlight vital biblical counseling ministries—like today’s post from Dr. Howard Eyrich of Briarwood Presbyterian Church and Birmingham Theological Seminary.

Our Vision

The vision of the Briarwood Counseling Ministry and Birmingham Theological Seminary (BTS) is to train men and women in the art of restoring lives through the Gospel and the implications thereof. Our approach mimics that of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:28-29. We are about proclaiming, admonishing, and teaching both counselees and trainees with all the wisdom of God so that we might be contributing to their completion in Christ. We believe that the happiness, peace, and satisfaction that people come seeking is found only in learning to live to please Him. Ultimately our vision for counselees and trainees is that they will desire to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Our Reflections on 2014

This past year has been one of transition for us. Our wonderful administrative assistant of five years retired to care for her dying mother. We blessed her departure reluctantly. She left a big hole. But, God is faithful; He filled the hole with a capable young woman. Our Women’s and Children’s Counselor/Coordinator resigned after getting married for the first time at age 50. After a national search, the Lord led us to one of our own. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, has completed our training, and is on target to obtain ACBC certification in October. In addition, she has twenty years of experience as the principal of a significant elementary school of 1,000 students.

During 2014, our TEAM of 26 Lay Counselors has completed 100’s of hours of counseling with many wonderful testimonies as to God’s work through them as His instruments.

Also during this year, we developed a pornography initiative. We recruited 21 handpicked men who completed six hours of specialized training. These men lead small groups of 3-5 men who had made confidential contact requesting assistance. We provided a curriculum for their use. Obviously, there are more details to this program, but by mentioning it we hope others will be encouraged to aggressively attack this cultural plague.

Through BTS and Briarwood we were able to assist a sizeable Baptist church in the area to establish a counseling ministry. We thank the Lord for sending a Southern Seminary grad to this church with a vision to start a program.

Our Priorities for 2015

  • Certification: We hope to see at least three more counselors complete certification in October.
  • Training: Complete current class and recruit new class for next fall.
  • Consultation: Continue to encourage and consult with other area churches in the initiation of counseling ministries.
  • Counseling: We run a waiting list of about 40 requests for counseling. We anticipate another busy year of counseling and desire to faithfully deliver God’s Word to the hearts of people.
  • Teaching: Through BTS we are currently seeking a grant for funding two intensive courses that will enable people to meet ACBC educational requirements. We are planning five locations with some of these being in urban areas. We desire to develop competent counselors in these communities. In addition, we are readying an MA Distance Education degree in biblical counseling.

Our Prayer Requests

Recently we have put Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:14-19) on a 3 by 5 card and given a card to all new counselees assuring them that this is our prayer for them. Pray that this will be well received and encourage counselees.

Pray that we will keep our focus and accomplish our priorities.

Pray for the ACBC conference. It will likely draw fire. Pray for protection and a positive influence.

As always, anyone is welcome to email me at heyrich@briarwood.org.

Topics: Education, Megaphone Post, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

Why “Stop It” Doesn’t Work

Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues--Why Stop It Doesn’t Work

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Six of a multi-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues. Men—you’d be wise to read these too—to learn more about a biblical understanding of women and about biblical women’s ministry. Today’s post is from Julie Ganschow entitled Why “Stop It” Doesn’t Work. You can also read Part 1 by Amy Baker: I’ll Probably Be a Widow, Part 2 by Betty-Anne Van Rees: Single in the Church, Part 3 by Ellen Castillo: Biblical Mentoring for Women, Part 4 by Eliza Jane Huie: 3 Principles to Consider During Marital Conflict, and Part 5 by Shannon Kay McCoy: Motivated by Love.

We Counsel Out of Our Theology

Most biblical counselors I know are very familiar with the hysterical YouTube video, “Stop It” by Bob Newhart. It has been shown at conferences and in training programs (including mine) to make a point and to infuse a little levity into learning about difficult issues. I was reminded of this video when listening to a lecture recently when the speaker told the audience the pathway to change was, “Just stop it!” While I find the video clip to be funny, it is not a counseling methodology I would endorse.

As biblical counselors, we counsel out of our theology not secular psychology. We believe we need a power greater than ourselves with wisdom beyond what we humanly possess to navigate the trials of life. Our paradigm opposes the secular perspective which promotes the theory that mankind has enough goodness and wisdom within himself individually or collectively to overcome problems.

Our counseling model is centered on the changes a person will undergo when he or she meets the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), The Lord Jesus Christ who is the only One who can truly change hearts and lives. He does this through the Scriptures which address the needs of real people in real ways.

Christ at the Center

One of my favorites is the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. I use this wonderful epistle to dismantle many of the secular arguments a counselee brings into our counseling relationship, beginning with the necessity of having faith in God to effect true and lasting change. While secular counseling places man in the center of the picture, biblical counseling insists that Christ must be in the center of every call for change. He must be in the center of the heart.

Because relationships are at the crux of much of the counseling a people-helper does, an effective biblical counselor can develop their practical theology of counseling from the common to man issues found in Ephesians 4-6:9. For example, in Ephesians 5 we find keys to understanding the marriage relationship. The counselee learns marriage is intended to picture the relationship of Christ and His Church. It is one of subordination and submission to the Father in every aspect of relating to one another.

In Ephesians 4, Paul addresses the common problems of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness that are in their advanced stages presently identified as mental illnesses. The epistle labels them as sin. The Lord demands repentance from sin (“Stop it!”) and commands personal humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation between people (“Start it!”) to exemplify what Christ has done for each Christian by His death, burial, and resurrection.

The Word and Women

The Word pays special attention to the privileged and special role of women. We are submissive servants, first to God and then to our husbands. This enables us to lean on the Scriptures as our ultimate authority and to refuse to sin or participate in ungodliness if our husbands should ask. Our lives are built around God and our biological and church families. As servant-leaders with an eye to the Word of God, we bring up successive generations of women teaching them to be “subject to your own husbands” (1 Peter 3:1-2) and “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:4-5).

This is in direct opposition to what is promoted in most modern cultures. Women are taught to be their own authority and chart a course for their lives that maximizes independence and refutes biblical submission, which is often considered to be abusive and cruel by those who do not understand it is first submission to a loving and holy God.

The pursuit of peace is what drives many people to seek the help of a therapist or counselor. They seek to find internal peace through external means. But for the Christian there is a better way. Psalm 131, which emphasizes humility of the heart as the starting point, instructs us to quiet our noisy souls and seek out the promises of God. This brings us hope in the present and hope for the future.

Seeking comfort in times of sorrow and heartbreak is another reason people seek counseling.  We seek the means to cope with what has assailed us. The best that secular methods can produce are coping mechanisms designed to meet the feeling orientation of those who suffer. In the Scriptures (Philippians 1, 2; 1, 2 Peter; and Romans 12), the sufferer is encouraged to obey the commands to forgive those who have caused them such pain and to transfer the recompense for those actions into the capable hands of our loving God who will avenge the wrongs done to His children.

The influence of psychology has largely removed the need for personal responsibility for sin, and our counselees come with the expectation of “venting” and “exploring their feelings” as their greatest need. We go beyond examining and legitimizing the feelings of the counselee. Biblical counselors want to help their counselees change at the heart level for the glory of God. It is clear that we operate out of what lurks in the heart and that our thoughts, beliefs, and desires (ruling motivations) determine the actions we take. It is the goal of the biblical counselor to show them Christ is their biggest need and that all things flow from that relationship.

We are actively involved in the lives of those entrusted to us. We, like God, promote real and lasting change at the heart level. We teach, rebuke, correct, and train our counselees in righteousness to the glory of God. This counsel is theological and practical. When followed faithfully, change is lasting and hope is created and sustained. This far surpasses the results gained by those well-meaning counselors whose methodology hinges on “Stop it!”

Join the Conversation

Have you received both “Stop it!” and biblical counseling? Which did you find more helpful and hope giving?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Faith, Methodology, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Women/Wives | Tags: ,

Motivated by Love

Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues--Motivated by Love

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Five of a multi-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues. Men—you’d be wise to read these too—to learn more about a biblical understanding of women and about biblical women’s ministry. Today’s post is from Shannon Kay McCoy entitled Motivated by Love. You can also read Part 1 by Amy Baker: I’ll Probably Be a Widow, Part 2 by Betty-Anne Van Rees: Single in the Church, Part 3 by Ellen Castillo: Biblical Mentoring for Women, and Part 4 by Eliza Jane Huie: 3 Principles to Consider During Marital Conflict.

Monica’s Story

At a young age, Monica was sexually abused by her step-father until he divorced her mother. In her teenage years she was raped by her brother’s friends. She lived a life of promiscuity—getting pregnant twice with both ending in abortions. She was drinking alcohol heavily and using drugs until the age of twenty-four when she developed cervical cancer. God used her illness to get her attention.

She became a Christian and met her husband, Jeff, at church. Only one year into the marriage, Monica began suffering from bouts of depression and self-loathing. She was distancing herself from her husband but didn’t know why. She thought as a Christian, she shouldn’t struggle with these issues. She finally confided in a Christian friend who encouraged her to seek biblical counseling.

The Journey Begins

The counseling process helped Monica to discover some stumbling blocks to her faith. She had doubts about God—about His goodness, His grace, His love, and doubted ever being free from condemning thoughts. With the love and support of her husband, she began the difficult process of looking at her past through the lens of Scripture.

She was afraid to reveal certain details to Jeff because she didn’t want him to stop loving her. He assured her of his love and commitment, so she forged ahead allowing God to peel away layer after layer into her past. During the most difficult layers of dealing with the sexual abuse, she had to distance herself from him intimately. After eighteen months of biblical processing, Monica was able to restore her relationship to her husband.

Doubting God’s Love 

Through the counseling process, her faith had grown stronger. She believed in God’s goodness and grace. But she wasn’t so sure about His love. She told the counselor that she still couldn’t understand how a holy God could love someone with her past. The counselor asked her, “How do you know that Jeff loves you, even after knowing of your past?” She thought about how Jeff had been very supportive throughout the counseling process. He had been incredibly gracious to her when she was at her worst with depression and self-loathing. During the time she separated herself from him intimately, he was amazingly patient and forgiving. He wasn’t shocked nor disgusted when he learned of the sexual abuse. Instead, he was a safe and secure haven.

His love encouraged her to share her heart with him. Knowing her ugly past, she was only met with Jeff’s unconditional love. In return, she loved him in a much deeper way. She would sacrifice her time and energy to please him. Spending time with him was no longer a burden. She treasured every moment with him because she felt valued by his love.

She answered the counselor. “I know Jeff loves me because he has demonstrated his love in marvelous ways.” The counselor asked Monica to read Romans 5:8, which states, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The counselor stated that God proved His love for her by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for her sins. And since she is a believer, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

The counselor also reminded Monica that God’s love was lavished on her through Jeff’s love. Seeing how Jeff loved her with the love of God, she began to get the picture. She finally grasped a greater understanding of God’s love. She learned that God’s love for her is incredibly gracious and sacrificial, amazingly patient and forgiving, safe and secure, and completely accepting of her in spite of her past. She realized that Christ has given her a new identity—His identity. She was no longer a victim living in her past. God saw everything she did and yet still loved her. This realization gripped Monica deep into the core of her soul. She kept repeating to herself, “God really does love me!”

Motivated by Love

In His love, God granted Monica the grace to love Him. As she daily contemplated His love, she became more sensitive to affronting the One she loved which led quickly to repentance of sin. She found it easier to pray. She didn’t fear seeking His presence. She wanted to spend time with God. She desired to please Him with her time and energy. She had a growing willingness to sacrifice her life for God’s glory—no longer doing things her way.

Monica learned as the Apostle Paul did, that “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death motivated Paul’s service for Him. In Galatians 2:20, Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul learned that he died to the Law because he was crucified with Christ. Therefore he was able to live for God because Christ lived in him.

True love has a constraining virtue. Monica realized this in Jeff’s love for her. It cost him something to love her. He accepted the consequences of her past and chose to love her. She would do anything for him because he loved her at her worst. Even greater is the love of Christ. It cost Him something to love us. He gave up His life when we were at our worst—and still loves us at our worst. By faith Monica embraced God’s love for her. In return, she loved God because He first loved her (1 John 4:19).

Join the Conversation

Think of a time when you felt really loved by someone. What effect did it have on you? How did you respond to that love? Now think of Christ’s love for you. What effect does His love have on you? How do you respond to His love?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Love, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Sexual Abuse, Women/Wives | 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.