Promoting PErsonal Change, Centered on the PErson of Christ through the PErsonal Ministry of the Word
Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

I’ll Probably Be a Widow

Biblical Counseling and Women’s Issues--Ill Probably Be a Widow

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part One 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 Dr. Amy Baker on I’ll Probably Be a Widow.

Facing the Facts

It’s likely that I will outlive my husband. In fact, according to statistics, apparently 80% of wives will outlive their husbands.

To be honest, I hate that thought. I don’t like the thought of being left without my husband. I’ve always wished that I could die first. Again, if I’m being honest, my reasons for wanting to die first are pretty much self-centered. I don’t like the thought of not having my husband there for companionship, support, help, and pure enjoyment. So, selfishly, I’d rather die first.

Marriage Has Been Great

I waited a long time for the love of my life to appear. I was 42 when I got married.

Marriage was unexpected in many ways. I had been a very satisfied single person. I understood God’s Word well enough to know that it wasn’t circumstances that create happiness, and I knew what Paul said about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:28 about the fact that those who marry will face many troubles in this life.

I was surprised, therefore, when marriage turned out to be so incredibly good. I had been happy single; I am even happier married. I’m sure this is because I married the most wonderful man in the world. When God gave me Jeff, he gave me the most precious gift He’s ever given me next to His Son as my Savior. After more than a decade of marriage, I still delight in marriage. Jeff is my very best friend. There is no one I’d rather be with than my precious husband. There is no task that isn’t better if I get to do it with Jeff, no girls’ night out that could ever compare to time spent with Jeff, and no friendship that can hold a candle to the friendship of my husband.

I love my husband and I’m in love with my husband. I’m so thankful to God for the gift of Jeff. I stand in awe of God’s goodness. If being the bride of Jeff has been this wonderful and we’re still living under the curse of sin, it’s hard to fathom just how wonderful it will be to be the Bride of Christ.

Which brings me to my struggle. I want to long to be with my loved ones in heaven, but I want to more fervently and passionately long to be with my Savior.

Am I Properly Preparing for My Husband’s Death?

Since it’s likely that my husband will die before me, we are trying to plan for that while he is still alive. He has tried to make sure I know where important documents are kept, that our retirement savings will be adequate, and that I can start the lawn mower without his help. We still have a ways to go—I don’t know how to change the furnace filter yet, and I can’t cook ribs that fall off the bone like Jeff can.

As we’ve thought about preparing for Jeff to die before me, I’ve realized that I stood in danger of longing for heaven so that I could be with Jeff again. While there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with looking forward to being with loved ones, the thing that sickened me about that thought was that I wasn’t primarily looking forward to seeing my Savior.

My marriage to Jeff is a mere shadow of my relationship with my Savior. Jeff and I have been married long enough that we can sometimes finish each other’s sentences. But my Savior knows my sentences before a word is on my tongue (Psalm 139:4). Jeff knows me really well, but he still struggles with what to get me for Christmas. (That’s largely because I can’t ever think of anything to suggest to him.) However, my Savior knows me even better. He is familiar with all my ways (Psalm 139:3). He gives me gifts I could never have come up with or even know to desire (of course, His best gift was drawing me into a relationship with Himself).

So I need to figure out how to change the furnace filter, but I want to make sure that in the end, I haven’t prepared myself to live without Jeff and neglected preparing myself to be more and more in love with my ultimate Beloved.

I want to look forward to heaven primarily because my Savior is there, and I want my intimacy with Him to be growing deeper and deeper as I prepare for Jeff’s death. I want my desire to be that my first embrace is from my Savior, that my first exclamation of joy is because I’m in the presence of my Redeemer, and my greatest delight is being united with my Beloved for eternity.

Join the Conversation

What are some things you’re doing to help you to look forward to heaven and the embrace of your Savior even more than reuniting with loved ones?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Death/Dying, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Women/Wives | Tags: , ,

Slander in the Camp

Slander in the Camp

A Note from Your BCC Staff: This post first appeared at Tim Lane’s blog site and is re-posted by the BCC with his permission. You can read the post at Tim’s site here.

The Evils of Slander

God’s Word is clear about the evils of slander.

“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked person by being a malicious witness” (Exodus 23:1).

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up dissension among brothers and sisters” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

How many of you have witnessed the evils of slander? Sadly, it happens all the time in circles of people who name Jesus as their King and Redeemer. The more I speak with leaders and fellow Christians, the more I realize how prevalent this is.

Slander is a violation of the 9th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness.” The usual suspect we think of when it involves violating the 9th commandment is gossip. While gossip is clearly evil, we often leave out slander. My guess is that we don’t really think Christians will go there. Sadly, that is not the case.

Slander Defined

Gossip and slander are different. The difference between gossip and slander, though, is that slander is much more intentional. Slander is out to ruin the person or drive their reputation into the ground. Listen to the way Paul situates slander in his catalogue of sins of speech in Ephesians 4:31-32. He clearly places slander in the anger family. Notice that it is driven by the opposite of forgiveness and reconciliation:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

In his commentary on Ephesians, John Stott defines the following words:

  • Bitterness (pikria): A sour spirit and sour speech.
  • Rage (thymos): A passionate rage.
  • Anger (orge): Settled and sullen hostility.
  • Brawling (krauge): People who get excited, raise their voices in a quarrel, and start shouting, even screaming.
  • Slander (blasphemia): Speaking evil of others, especially behind their backs, and so defaming and even destroying their reputation.
  • Malice (kakia): Ill will, wishing and probably plotting evil against someone.

Another word for slander in Greek is diabolos. It is the word that is used for Satan and means the “accuser,” the one who attacks the brethren. Slander is the passionate, determined goal of one person to destroy another. As you can see, it is driven by bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and every form of malice. It is diabolical.

The Way of Slander

What are a few ways that we may attempt to slander someone for the purpose of harming their reputation?

  • Sensationalism: Spinning what was said to sound evil.
  • Betraying Confidence: Using constructive criticism shared in private and telling the person not present what was said with an evil spin. This is usually done so that they will join in the brawl against another person.
  • Putting words in a person’s mouth that were never said. This is a more straightforward, outright lie.

Why is Paul writing this to Christians? Because Christians are as capable of this as any other person. As John Owen once said, “The seed of every known sin is in my heart.” Putting it simply, we are all capable of doing this. Churches, businesses, ministries, and relationships are ruined…not from without, but from within.

We are all capable of gossip and slander. Only by God’s grace can we avoid them.

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

How can we overcome the temptation toward slander through the truth and power of the Gospel?

Topics: Anger, Christian Living, Communication, Conflict, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: ,

Training the Church to Care Like Christ: The Biblical Counseling Center Story

Training the Church to Care Like Christ--The Biblical Counseling Center Story

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. Throughout January and February, we’re helping you to learn about vital biblical counseling ministries—like today’s post from Tim Allchin of The Biblical Counseling Center.

Equipping for Changed Lives

A father and mother needed help for their teen. They walked in the doors of New Hope Bible Church, a multi-cultural community of faith on Chicago’s west side, looking for help, for direction, for compassion, anything that would keep their at-risk teen out of gangs. The couple and their teen received one-on-one compassionate care and God’s truth from the pastor and trained lay people in its care ministry.

The result was astounding. Through compassionate and effective biblical counseling, the dad and mom became believers in Jesus Christ. In fact, the entire family including the struggling teen and his younger siblings came to saving faith. The teen found a better place of belonging than the streets—God’s family.

New Hope is among the churches trained by The Biblical Counseling Center—the pastor, the small group leaders, and others with a heart for the hurting. We helped the church launch its own biblical counseling center, too. Hearts of Hope Care Ministry provides physical, emotional, and spiritual support to enable spiritual life transformation according to God’s purpose.

You can listen to New Hope’s pastor tell the story here.

We Train

The Biblical Counseling Center trains the church in person or online (or a combination) to equip leaders to care for its members and the hurting in the community. We also train individuals through numerous courses in our online school.

Our hope in training churches and individuals is to help churches care for its people and bring about heart change leading to life change for the glory of God.

Some of our online, self-paced courses are Foundations of Biblical Counseling, Contemporary Issues in Biblical Counseling, Portraits (which is 12 hours of observations of counselors and counselees in a split-screen format), Marriage and Family Biblical Counseling, and Advanced Topics in Biblical Counseling. These courses cover the basics of Biblical Counseling, from how to gather data to implementing a plan to effect heart change, to counseling people with anger, depression, ADHD, bipolar illness, eating disorders, anxiety, suicide prevention, domestic violence, cutting, homosexuality, communication, marital sexual issues, and we even offer training in the theology of biblical counseling.

You can discover the details at our online school. When you click on a course title, you’ll see the course outline along with course notes and downloadables that accompany each lesson.

Since 1989, we’ve trained many thousands of students all over the world in biblical counseling principles, topics, and applications. Our training program offers 120 hours of quality instruction. We are a certified ACBC center, too. In fact our Foundations of Biblical Counseling course and our Portraits observation course satisfy two main requirements in ACBC’s Learning phase.

In 2014 in partnership with Crossroads Bible College, we began offering the opportunity to our students to earn up to 12 hours of college credit from Crossroads. Many who contact us for biblical counseling training say they appreciate the college credit option.

We Counsel

The Biblical Counseling Center compassionately counsels those in need of guidance through life’s struggles. We have experienced male and female counselors who listen to their counselees’ situation, help them understand what God desires, and walk patiently with them as they progress in living their life according to God’s Word, believing He promises a good result.

“Using the Bible, our counselor wisely led both of us on a journey to reconciliation and spiritual renewal,” said Jorge and Andrea Munoz. “We are thankful for BCC’s ministry to us, for offering us hope and giving us direction through God’s Word and for Jesus, the One who will complete the good work He has begun in our marriage.”

Our counselors meet in person at one of our three—and soon to be five!—counseling offices in greater Chicago, and they counsel by Skype, too. We offer counseling by Skype for frequent travelers, folks in rural areas, and people outside the Chicago area, including nations where biblical counseling may be difficult to find. One of our counselors has Skype-counseled hurting Christians in four continents, including the nations of Cambodia, Hong Kong, Sweden, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

We care to walk with you through the hurt,

to lovingly speak the truth,

to help you find solutions God’s way,

to point out the way to find God’s peace,

to help you restore your relationships,

to pray with you when you are down,

to listen closely so we understand you,

to encourage you to succeed, and

to offer guidance if you’re off course.

Pastors and their families need somewhere to turn when they need counseling or are in overwhelming circumstances. We understand the needs of pastors and desire to help them grow stronger through any difficulty they might encounter. Also, when a church faces a time of crisis or conflict, we are vastly experienced in helping local churches in crisis and can guide pastors and the church through these times of conflict and pain.

We Reach Out

The Biblical Counseling Center travels outside the United States to bring biblical counseling to churches desiring training. Dr. Ron Allchin, founder and executive director of The Biblical Counseling Center, visited Cuba and India a few times last year to train believers in Foundations of Biblical Counseling and to encourage them to persevere.

In 2015 Dr. Allchin and his wife, Sherry, plan to return to India and also travel to Romania and Haiti. It’s common for them to bring resources like laptops to pastors in need of technology so that they can further the work of biblical counseling, help the hurting, and spread the Good News of the Gospel among their people.

Connect with Us

The Biblical Counseling Center invites you to connect with us and join us in “helping churches care for people.” We welcome your  questions. The best ways to reach us are by phone and email.

We’d also appreciate a visit to our website and Facebook page.

Join the Conversation

How can biblical counseling training help you and your church?

Topics: 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.

What Do You Pray for Your Church?

Pastor J.D. Greaar shares My Prayer for The Summit Church in 2015.

Missed Motherhood

Denny Burk reflects on Susan Shapiro’s article at The New York Times. He notes that it “is as sad as anything I’ve read in a long time. She is the quintessential modern woman, having pursued a career and life in the city through her childbearing years. Twice she got pregnant, and twice she aborted her children. She didn’t want to be pregnant before her life and finances were stable. She would have it all eventually–so she thought.”

Read the rest of Denny’s reflections in Missed Motherhood: A Casualty of the Sexual Revolution.

The Techniques of a Sexual Predator

Tim Challies writes:

“In his book On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Children Abuse at Church, Deepak Reju provides a look at the techniques of a sexual predator, and focuses on the way a predator will prepare or groom an entire church so that he can take advantage of its children. His words are worth reading and worth considering.”

To read Tim’s summaries of Deepak’s insights, visit The Techniques of a Sexual Predator.

What Do We Pray When We’re Facing Suffering?

Scotty Smith, whose every blog post is a blog prayer, shares A Prayer for Perspective When We Are Suffering.

Your Prayer Life

At the Desiring God website, Matthew Westerholm explains that Your Prayer Life Is Better Than You Think.

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: , , , , ,

Unpacking the Riches of Christ at University Reformed Church

Unpacking the Riches of Christ at University Reformed Church

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. Throughout January and February, we’re helping you to learn about vital biblical counseling ministries—like today’s post from Pastor Pat Quinn of the Biblical Counseling Ministry at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.

A Slice of Our Ministry Life

It is my joy to share what biblical counseling looks like at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. We are a congregation of 600-700 people near Michigan State University. Our senior pastor is Kevin DeYoung. We are very excited about the opportunities for gospel ministry that the Lord has given us and how biblical counseling is an integral part of that. I have been Director of Counseling Ministries since 2009 and have the privilege of working with a great staff to do the greatest work in the world. Here is a slice of what our ministry looks like.

URC’s Mission Statement: “Unpacking the Riches of Christ through soul care, disciple-making, and leader training”

The Counseling Ministry at URC exists to provide biblically informed, wise, compassionate, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered care and training so that each congregant is enabled to live by God’s Word leading to “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).  Our desire is to help the church glorify God, make disciple-making disciples, and save the lost by:

  • Counseling individuals, couples, and families.
  • Training counselors, elders, and other leaders.
  • Introducing congregants to a biblical model for discipling, counseling, and one-anothering. We believe that Christians are continually giving advice and counsel to others (Ephesians 4:15-16); some formally, but all of us in normal relationships and conversations.  We want to help all of us do this well.

Definition: Biblical counseling is face-to-face conversational ministry of the Word in which we minister the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to specific people and issues in the power of the Holy Spirit leading to life transformation. We seek to love people wisely so that they learn to deal with the problems of life in way that promotes God’s glory and their spiritual growth.

What Happened in 2014

Biblical Counseling at URC is built around two main ministries: counseling and training. In 2014 we were privileged to help many people deal with suffering and sin issues in a gospel-centered way. Some of the issues that came our way were conflict resolution, anxiety and depression, post-partum depression, marital and sexual issues, past abuse, drug addiction, practical and financial issues, gender confusion, and homosexuality.

There were also several opportunities to provide exposure to or training in biblical counseling:

  • A weekly introductory Theology and Practice class that teaches a biblical model and counseling methodology.
  • A weekly Issues and Observations class for more experienced counselors where we alternate between discussing counseling issues and doing peer counseling and observations.
  • Training in biblical counseling for growth group leaders and elders.
  • Introducing people in the New Members Class to biblical counseling.
  • Doing a four-week biblical counseling training for four pastoral and campus ministry interns.

I was also honored and happy to work on writing the introduction to Scripture and Counseling with our pastor Kevin DeYoung. Since my contribution was so small I can safely say that I think this book is wonderful and an important contribution to the growing body of biblical counseling literature!

What’s Coming in 2015?

We will mostly continue to work on improving our counseling and training, but I’m excited about two new possibilities:

  • God has blessed the Lansing, Michigan, area with a number of pastors and others who love biblical counseling. I want to get us together to dream and discuss how we can support and encourage one another and possibly work together to promote biblical counseling in Michigan. Ideas might include some kind of a regional speaker or conference and the possibility of a counseling center in the future.
  • URC has the vision to train ministry interns in four areas: pastoral, campus, international, and counseling. I have had part-time interns before and see this as a great way to impart counseling vision and training on a deeper level. Counseling interns can either be full or part-time. If anyone is interested, go to our church website here and click on the ministry interns link.

After transitioning from a 30-year Bible teaching ministry to biblical counseling in 2009, I have often said to people that biblical counseling is the hardest and best thing I have ever done. I am deeply grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for the opportunity to minister His gospel here at University Reformed Church. His faithfulness and grace are precious beyond words, and I look forward to see what He does here in the future.

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

The Jubilee Pastoral Care Story

The Jubilee Pastoral Care Story

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. Throughout January and February, we’re helping you to learn about vital biblical counseling ministries—like today’s post from Kyle Johnston of the Pastoral Care ministry at Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our Vision

The vision of the Pastoral Care ministry at Jubilee Community Church is to restore lives through Gospel-centred caring and equipping. We know that Christ-honouring renewal must be based on Christ’s grace and truth, and only occurs through the Spirit’s empowering. However, even though change is God’s work, God uses people as instruments in His hands—and so we run a variety of caring and equipping programs at Jubilee.

What follows is a review and thanksgiving for 2014 and a preview and prayer request for 2015.

Reflecting on 2014

2014 was a fruitful year for Jubilee Community Church generally, and the Pastoral Care ministry was no exception. Below are just a few highlights from 2014 that we are grateful for:

  • We were able to run Redemption Groups twice, with some delightful and inspiring testimonies emerging from them.
  • We also continued to run our in-house Pastoral Care Training module—this is an opportunity for any Jubilee leader or emerging leader to receive some basic training in how to care for others with the Gospel. We were able to take this basic Pastoral Care training to other churches in Cape Town and Durban, to a theological training course in Khayelitsha, and we also had folk from other churches attending training we ran at Jubilee Centre. It really is a joy and privilege to equip others for effective biblical living!
  • We took several folk through more rigorous Biblical Counselling training with IBCD’s online education, and this gave us a number of evenings together in which we were able to discuss important theological and counselling-related topics from a distinctly South African perspective.
  • My colleagues and I were able to meet with many folk for the purpose of one-to-one counselling. In 2014, there were many opportunities to connect God’s truth to the details of people’s lives, and there were many heartening stories of individuals experiencing growth and grace in the midst of suffering and sin.

Lord, we thank You for all You did amongst us in 2014. We acknowledge that all the ministry fruit we saw in 2014 was due to Your lavish grace. Thank You for the gift of Your Word and Spirit, thank You for the lives that experienced Christ-centred renewal, and thank You for enabling us to serve You!

Priorities for 2015

2015 promises to be a busy (and hopefully fruitful) year! We’ll continue to run Redemption Groups, offer individual and family counselling, and oversee Biblical Counselling training. In addition to this, we’re particularly excited about:

  • Developing new training material for all of Jubilee’s small group leaders. The hope of this training is that it will enrich the theological, missional, and pastoral clarity of our small groups.
  • Promote our Pastoral Care training to all of Jubilee’s members—our goal is to help every member care for others with the Gospel. Every mature Christian should learn how to wisely speak the truth in love, and so we aim to help all our members grow in conversational wisdom.

These initiatives enable us to develop strong “Gospel congruency” throughout Jubilee Community Church. To paraphrase Tim Lane: the same grace-oriented model of change should permeate all of church life, and everyone should play an active role in inter-personal ministry. The leaders shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with the entire weight of care, and brothers and sisters in Christ will no longer feel unable to help. That pastoral vision expresses something of our hope for Jubilee Community Church in 2015.

  • Tim Lane Conference – October 2015. We’ll be hosting Dr. Tim Lane for a conference in October 2015 in which he will be addressing both church leaders as well as those with a special interest in counselling. This will be a highlight of our year, and potentially a catalytic conference for many South African pastors and counsellors. We’re still finalizing some details for the conference and will share those as soon as they are settled.
  • Finally, on a wider level, Dr. Wayne Mack is directing the formation of ACBC-Africa. The goal of ACBC-Africa would be to set a high standard for Biblical Counselling training in Southern Africa, enabling certified Biblical Counselling to be available to more persons. This is very exciting, and your prayers for Dr. Mack and the ACBC-Africa steering committee would be greatly appreciated. Dr. Wayne Mack is a faithful servant of God and has done an absolutely tremendous job in bringing Biblical Counselling to South Africa.

Prayer Requests

  • Wisdom! To paraphrase the apostle Paul, please ask God to give us complete knowledge of His will, and to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then, the way we live will always honour and please the Lord, and our lives will produce every kind of good fruit. Please pray that God would give us wisdom that would result in good fruit.
  • Equipping others: Please especially pray that God would, by His grace, enable us to continue equipping others. In 2015 we desire to equip many ordinary Christians for wise living, but through the Tim Lane Conference we also hope to equip many leaders and churches. For this to happen we must rely on God prayerfully, whilst working diligently. Please join us in praying that God would work through His Word in 2015!

As always, anyone is welcome to email me at kylej@jubilee.org.za if they have any questions or comments.

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

A Beautiful Landscape of Grace-Changed Lives: The Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries Story

A Beautiful Landscape of Grace-Changed Lives--The Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

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. Throughout January and February, we’re helping you to learn about vital biblical counseling ministries—like today’s post from Rob Green of Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.

A Beautiful Landscape

This morning God coated Lafayette, Indiana, with a beautiful blanket of snow. The gray/brown trees are now covered with an inch of wet snow. The snow covering the fields of dirt, waiting to be clothed with the green of crops, reflect the brilliant rays of the sun. This picture reminds me of the way God’s grace has fallen on Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. God’s grace has produced a beautiful landscape of changed lives just like the snow made a beautiful landscape over the naked trees and frozen dirt.

It didn’t always feel like God’s grace was there. Sometimes there were moments of discouragement or frustration. Like most ministries (if not all) we suffered casualties and probably caused a few. Sometimes God’s grace was as obvious as the nose on our face, while at other times it felt like we were on our own. Yet, as we look back, it becomes clear how God’s grace intervened in countless moments, all moments, making all things beautiful.

2014 Blessings

Here is an abbreviated list of the blessings of 2014:

  • God allowed us to create a woman’s track where we encourage and equip older women to serve the Lord in counseling (Titus 2:3-5).
  • God allowed us to have track 1 translated into Spanish.
  • God allowed us to have regional conferences in Seattle, Minneapolis, Toledo, and Iowa.
  • God allowed us to offer thousands of hours of counseling to those hurting in our church and in our community.
  • God saved souls through the gospel of Jesus Christ using the faithful proclamation of the gospel by our counselors.
  • God allowed us to train additional counselors in order to deploy them in effective service.
  • God worked in many of the counselees to conform them into a greater likeness of His Son.

As if that were not enough, God has grown Faith Bible Seminary’s MABC program in amazing ways. The student population is full of godly servants of Christ who want to be faithful to Him. His grace is amazing.

Looking to 2015

As we look ahead into 2015, please let us communicate some of our events and some of our dreams.

  • This year Track 7 of the BCTC will be taught in Spanish by Spanish-speaking counselors. Spanish is the second most common language in our country and many communities cannot be penetrated without the Spanish language.
  • This year we will be hosting regional training conferences in Seattle, Washington; Clinton, Mississippi; Toledo, Ohio; and North Liberty, Iowa. If you would like to be a future host site, please contact Pastor Dustin Folden.
  • Contact us if you have an interest in an MABC. We are continuing to expand in new and exciting ways and would be happy to speak with you.

As most of you know, Vision of Hope is also a ministry of the church. God has done some amazing work there, and we are asking the Lord to open a similar ministry for men. This is no small endeavor and will require funding that we do not have, but we have seen God provide for this type of ministry expansion before. He has already supplied the vision, the land, and has brought many of the necessary staff members to Faith. Now it is a matter of waiting to see how God provides funding for this endeavor. If you would like more information about our dreams for a companion men’s ministry, please contact me (Rob Green). We have no idea if the Lord will allow this ministry to begin in 2015, but we know His grace will be there every step of the way.

Looking forward to another year of God’s grace falling like snow.

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

The Beautiful Broken Heart of the Gospel

The Beautiful Broken Heart of the Gospel

Scottish Christian writer George MacDonald was once waxing eloquent with one of his adult sons about the beauty of the gospel when his son, somewhat exasperated, said, “Father, what you’re saying is too good to be true!” To which MacDonald replied, “Nay son, it is just so good it must be true!”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the strange (none of us could have dreamed it up) and wonderful (it puts our deepest fears to rest and satisfies our wildest dreams) story we most want and need to be true. In Isaiah 53:4-6 we come to the very heart of the story—the beautiful broken heart of the gospel. Let’s briefly look at four powerful themes in the gospel of Christ that can transform our lives and counseling.

Sin

Biblical counseling sees and addresses sin as the deepest and most prevalent problem in life. In verse 5 Isaiah writes, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” Isaiah uses two words to reveal how we dishonor and anger God: transgressions are those attitudes and actions of defiant rebellion; iniquities points to attitudes and actions that flow, often unconsciously, from a heart of worthless depravity. Both words reveal the depth of our sin that offends and dishonors God and that, if left untreated, leads to eternal suffering.

As counselors we know the countless ways we and those we counsel defect from the worship of the living God and serve created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). This deepest of all human problems brings the threat of God’s wrath and eternal punishment. And this foreboding of eternal destruction fuels all manner of fears and exacerbates all manner of problems in living. There is simply no hope of lasting change or happiness unless sin is dealt with.

Suffering

If sin is the deepest problem in life and counseling, suffering is often the most immediate. Every counselee we help is a sufferer in some way. Isaiah refers to the bitter fruit of suffering in this sinful world as “griefs/sicknesses” and “sorrows/pains.”

Margaret Clarkson lists the many forms this bitter fruit can take: feeling trapped in desperately hard circumstances; physical disabilities or disfigurement; long-lasting physical or spiritual isolation; unrewarded service, unmet goals, or unrequited love; haunting fears and deep depression; sexual abuse or rape; undesired singleness, divorce, or widowhood; foolish or wayward children; chronic illness or pain; oppression and abuse; broken homes and childhood trauma; poverty and hunger; war, natural disasters, and other sudden calamities; abandoned or loveless old age. As counselors we could certainly add many other examples.

An ancient sage once truly said, “Be kind to each person you meet, for every person is carrying a heavy load.” The presence of sin in the world has brought forth a wretched harvest of suffering and our counseling must address both. Thankfully the gospel deals with both the bitter root of sin and the bitter fruit of suffering. John Piper once said, “We are interested in relieving all kinds of suffering, especially eternal suffering.” This is indeed our hope because of the beautiful broken heart of the gospel.

Salvation

This sin-bearing (“the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all”) and suffering-bearing (“surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”) salvation was accomplished in two stages. Through His incarnation, Jesus began to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows from the very beginning of His life, long before His passion and death: rejected as an outcast at the time of His birth; cut with the knife of circumcision as a baby; exiled to Egypt; misunderstood by His parents as a boy; tempted in the wilderness; continually hated and opposed—Jesus suffers in our place all throughout His whole life.

This mysterious incarnational exchange is referred to in Matthew 8:16-17: “…he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” Jesus so fully entered into the feelings of our miseries (Hebrews 4:15) and so related them to His coming passion that Matthew says He heals our suffering by bearing it Himself.

As wonderful as the incarnation is, it is incomplete without the atonement. In His passion Jesus bears and carries the sum of human misery all the way to the cross. There He takes upon Himself all our heinous sins and deserved sufferings and bears the wrath of God in our place.  On the cross the work of bearing our sins and sufferings is completed (John 19:30).

This exchange of our sins and sufferings for His forgiveness and blessing on the cross is highlighted in Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Jesus exchanged the curse of the broken law for the blessing of the promised Spirit. He brings healing and peace to us by bearing our sins and sufferings so that the Spirit can come in to restore and renew.

As William Hendricksen writes, “Hell came to Calvary that day and the Savior descended into it and bore its horrors in our stead.”  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Shalom

“Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace; with his stripes we are healed.” Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, means wholeness, belonging, harmony, flourishing, and joy. This is what we all ache for in this broken world and the hope we hold out to our counselees. Tim Keller describes the peace of the gospel this way:

Jesus Christ is the Creator who came here not to smite us, but to be un-created so we could be re-created…the maker who came to be unmade so we could be re-made…the judge who came not to bring judgment, but to bear judgment, to take what we deserve so that the Holy Spirit could come into our lives, once our sins are forgiven, and begin to remake us.”

What a glorious story—the story we most need and desire to be true—the King Himself comes to bear the wrath and consequences of our sins so we can be forgiven and restored. Wonder upon wonder and all of them true! Just so good it must be true! How wonderful that lives can be transformed by hearing and believing this story; by learning to exchange sins and sorrows for forgiveness and peace. Let us tell it with our words and our works in our churches and counseling offices. Let us tell it creatively and continually; graciously and gladly.

Join the Conversation

How does the gospel story make your heart sing with hope and joy? What Scriptures connect with your own sins and sorrows? How will you tell the “old, old story” in creative new ways this year?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Gospel-Centered Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Theology | Tags: , , , , , ,

Anxiety: How God Cares for Stressed People—CCEF Regional Conference

Anxiety--How God Cares for Stressed People—CCEF Regional Conference

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. On weekends, we often highlight upcoming biblical counseling training events—like this weekend’s post highlighting a CCEF regional training conference: Anxiety: How God Cares for Stressed People.

Anxiety Connections

We are stressed, anxious, and preoccupied people. We have too much to do, and too little time and ability to do it all. When something is important to us—money, loved ones, responsibilities, possessions, success, reputation—we realize that we cannot control what happens. All those things are at risk. An undercurrent of stress becomes our daily companion. Perhaps underlying feelings of anxiousness even turn into panic attacks. And other dominating experiences in life such as anger, depression, escapism, and fear of others all have connections to anxiety.

Join us for a Friday evening and Saturday morning in which we will consider how God moves toward us in our anxious ways.

David Powlison, M.Div., Ph.D. In addition to serving as CCEF’s Executive Director, David is a faculty member at CCEF as well as the Senior Editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an M.Div. degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. David has been counseling for over thirty years. He has written numerous articles on biblical counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in LoveSeeing with New EyesPower Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. David has taught across the United States and in Korea, India, Brazil, Europe, and Sri Lanka.

Ed Welch is a faculty member at CCEF and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Neuro-Psychology specialty from the University of Utah as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over 30 years and has written many books and articles on biblical counseling including When People are Big and God is SmallAddictions: a Banquet in the GraveBlame it on the Brain?DepressionRunning Scared, and Shame, Interrupted.  He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and four grandchildren. In his spare time Ed enjoys hanging out with his wife and extended family, and playing his guitar. Areas of interest/experience: depression and addictions.

Register here and learn more here.

Topics: Anxiety, Conference, 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.

5 Benefits of Faithful Preaching

Biblical counselors believe in the power of the personal ministry of the Word—counseling, and in the power of the pulpit ministry of the Word—preaching. That’s why we recommend David Mathis’ post at Desiring God: Five Benefits of Faithful Preaching.

On Guard

Tim Challies reviews Deepak Reju’s new book, On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church. Listen to his high praise:

“If I could mandate that at least one leader from every church had to read a single book, I don’t think there are too many I would choose ahead of On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church.”

Read Tim’s entire review at On Guard.

Ferguson: The Color of Truth

Hosea Baxter, Professor of Urban Leadership at Crossroads Bible College, asks:

“Do we really want racial healing as it relates to our social divide?”

Read his answer at Ferguson: The Color of Truth.

Describe a Typical Counseling Session

So is there such a thing as a “typical” counseling session? Ed Welch of CCEF addresses that question in his post, Describe a Typical Counseling Session.

Is Glorifying God a Hate Crime Now?

In light of the firing of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Russell Moore asks, Is Glorifying God a Hate Crime Now?

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: , , ,

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.