Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Side By Side by Ed Welch

Check out my review of Side By Side by Ed Welch at the Biblical Counseling Coalition's site, under the Book Reviews Tab.

Side By Side is a great resource for all of us as we grow in helping others.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scripture and Counseling

Hello again! Here is an Author Q&A with Dr. Robert Kellemen about his new book, Scripture and Counseling. I just received my copy in the mail and really look forward to diving in. Enjoy...

How Christ Changes Lives

Hello! Here is an Author Q&A with Dr. Robert Kellemen's about his new book entitled, Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives. I hope that this book if very successful, by God's grace to help those who are in need of help. Enjoy...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Scripture And Counseling

Here is another great book by Dr. Robert Kellemen that I will be reading and doing a review of in the near future. Keep checking back for more teasers about this book.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How Christ Changes Lives - Book by Dr. Robert Kellemen

Just recently, I received a copy of Dr. Bob Kellemen's new book called Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives. I was so thankful to receive this book in the mail from Zondervan publishing. I look forward to having this as an ongoing resource for my counseling ministry. I am thankful for Dr. Kellemen's ministry and am pleased to post a few things about Dr. Kellemen and insights from his book over the next few months.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Sufficiency of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture

Great article on the sufficiency of Christ and Scripture. Praise God for His care and mercy to us! 

"Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together."
The Sufficiency of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Session 2 of Clarus '13

This post is a summary of Paul Tripp’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 8, “Self Examination Is a Community Project,” from Hebrews 3:13.
What is happening in the little moments of your life? Dr. Tripp explained that we don’t live in the big moments of life but in the 10,000 little moments that shape our character. If God doesn’t rule us in the utterly mundane, He doesn’t rule us because the utterly mundane is where our address is.
To help us see the importance of relationships, Dr. Tripp taught from two passages. In 2 Peter 1:3-9, Peter is proposing that it is possible to be a true believer in Christ and yet be ineffective and unfruitful. Three questions naturally arise from this passage. First, Who are these people Peter is talking about? In a way, Peter is talking about all believers in Christ as being ineffective and unfruitful. Second, Why are these people ineffective and unproductive? In verse 9, Peter says: “…having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins,” and Dr. Tripp pointed out that the root of the issue is identity. If we forget who we are, we will quit pursuing what belongs to us in Christ. And third, How does this happen? Dr. Tripp suggests that we become can be ineffective and unproductive by evidence-denial – we deny our need for God’s grace in our lives. Evidence denial then leads to grace-devaluing. If the person doesn’t see the need for grace, grace has no value, therefore, that person becomes a grace-devaluer. Grace is only valuable to the person who knows that he or she is a sinner. In asking what all of this has to do with relationships, Dr. Tripp emphatically answered, “Everything.”
Dr. Tripp then led us to the second passage, Hebrews 3:12-13, which is both a warning and a call to believers in Jesus. The author of Hebrews is indicating a declining progression of an evil and then unbelieving heart that leads you to fall away from the living God. This is an alarming spiritual decline, but how does this happen? Dr. Tripp explained that it is because we are all extremely skilled, self-swindlers. We convince ourselves that our sin really isn’t that bad, and we harden our hearts. What once bothered us doesn’t bother us anymore. We aren’t open to change because we have become too satisfied where we are. The author of Hebrews then tells us we harden our hearts because of sin. Sin is deceitful. We become spiritually blind and we are blind to our blindness. Even though the power of sin has been broken, we can’t clearly see ourselves because the presence of sin still remains.
What then has God provided for the hard-hearted believer? He has provided help in the form of relationships. Hebrews 3:13a says, “But exhort one another every day.” We need to be encouraged and exhorted daily, so that we won’t be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Dr. Tripp explained that God has designed people as “instruments of seeing” for our lives. Every day we all are capable of being significantly blinded to our own condition, so we need “an intentionally intrusive, grace-based, Christ-centered, redemptive community” that is able to see in us what we cannot see in ourselves.
Dr. Tripp offered some great applications to these passages. The first is to honestly ask ourselves if there is a person in our life who can be that “instrument of seeing.” Can you name that person? The second is a prayer that we can all consider implementing into our daily prayer life: Confession– I am a person in desperate need of help; Pray – that in His grace He would send helpers our way; Cry for help – that we would have the humility to receive the help when it comes.
We can come to our Lord Jesus in our time of need because all of our rejection has been fully borne by Him on the cross. May it be so, that we run to our King Jesus for His glory and for our good.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Just a few more days until Desert Springs Church's annual theology conference called Clarus. The conference is completely sold out, but the sessions will be available in audio form on the church's website shortly after the conference. I am very excited for this conference and looking forward to sitting under the teaching of our very qualified speakers, Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane.


Here is how DSC’s teaching elder, Pastor Ryan Kelly, explains what Clarus is:
Since 2005 Desert Springs Church (DSC) has held an annual conference weekend with a guest speaker and a focused topic. In 2008 we started giving it a name, Clarus—which is Latin for bright, clear, or radiant. We think that word aptly reflects our intentions with this conference: that God and His truth would be made more clear, more radiant to us, and more powerfully penetrating in us. To that end we set aside a full weekend every year for fellowship, singing, prayer, and instruction about God’s words and ways. In 2011, Clarus became a Regional Conference of The Gospel Coalition.

Clarus 2013

Ryan introduces this year’s theme:
God’s plan for our redemption is not merely to reconcile us to Himself, but to point us to those who share this reconciliation, the church. In Christ, Christians become part of a new family.
. . .Roughly 50 times the New Testament tells Christians to do something one to another. We sometimes refer to these as the one-anothers—e.g., love one another, serve one another, pray for one another, stir up one another, encourage one another, sing to one another, etc. Such commands simply cannot be done alone. We need partners. We need a partnership—which is really what “fellowship” is.
. . .To that end, we Christians meet regularly for worship and teaching; we read the Scriptures and pray, alone and in our families; we read good books and recommend them to others; we keep working at these relationships and our ministry to each other.
Dr. Tripp and Dr. Lane are not addressing a subject reserved for vocational ministers or even those involved in formal biblical counseling. They are addressing Christians with God’s Word concerning a most basic aspect of Christian discipleship: speaking the truth in love.
As Christians, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), and we are to also grow together (Ephesians 4:15-16). We do not do this perfectly because we are sinful people in need of a Savior. We hurt those that we love the most; we isolate ourselves from others because we don’t want our hearts exposed; we may put on a “good face” when we are around others, but inside we are in utter turmoil; we worship our own kingdoms. Without living in true Christ-centered biblical community, we will wallow in our failures and sins and live as those who have no hope.
But, of course, God calls us to something greater. He calls us to Himself! He calls us through the truth of the gospel, the hope of lasting change and the grace of God. In tune with Matthew 6:33, we seek His kingdom and His righteousness and in so doing, Jesus knits His church together because we are seeking after Him, not our own interests. He exposes our hearts and our sin for the good of His children and for the glory of God. We then let others in because we see that we need Jesus and each other. As Dr. Tripp and Dr. Lane remind us, “change is a community project.”
At DSC, we have been greatly helped by Dr. Tripp and Dr. Lane’s resources.How People Change and Instruments In the Redeemer’s Hands have been used here to train our membership in biblical counseling. This fall, our Community Groups worked through Paul Tripp’s marriage DVD series, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.
On a personal note, as a lay-biblical counselor at DSC, I am very excited to be part of a church that upholds the primacy of the Word in the pulpit, but also as central to the life of every Christian. And I’m thankful for this annual conference and the blessing that it has been to our church. Having Dr. Lane and Dr. Tripp teach will serve as an invaluable resource and encouragement, not only for the DSC family, but also for those from around the Southwest region who will join us. My hope is that this conference will remind us of our great need of Jesus both individually but also corporately. Christ is indeed the head of his church. By God’s grace, we are praying for the church in the Southwest region to be encouraged in the all-important work of one-anothering the Word.
For more information on this year’s conference, including talk titles and registration, visit

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 'Good' That God Works Out

As I read this blog post about Romans 8:28 and how we, as counselors, use this verse to try and help those who are hurting, it struck me that suffering isn't something that we just tag a verse onto and move on. The old saying, 'take two pills(verses) and call me in the morning' isn't to work in this situation. The sufferer is looking for the pain to go away and to try and make sense of what is going on. So, when God tells us that He is working out all things for our good, what does that mean? What is the 'good' that God is working? Well, Dr. Rick Thomas gives us some insight into this verse and what God is after through our suffering and trials. There are a lot of hurting people today in the church and I pray that God will use His Word to help those in need. If we truly believe what Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3-4, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.", then we can boldly approach Christ through His Word and know that He has given us the answers to life's difficulties.

Are you willing to search out Scripture for your problems?
Are you willing to trust that God is good and that He knows what you need?
Are you willing to ask someone to help you through your difficulties?

What does “all things work together for good” really mean?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Super Bowl?

What are you planning for Super Sunday? How are you going to approach the big game? How are you going to approach the slew of advertisements and the halftime show? These are great things to think about and the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to share Christ with others. I am encouraged by the words of Dr. Rick Thomas as he gives some great tips about preparing ourselves for the game. I hope you enjoy his post and enjoy the game! Go Colts!!! Oh...wait, year! Click on the link below...

Preparing for game day. Getting ready for Super Sunday

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Biblical Counseling Movement

Recently, Heath Lambert wrote a book entitled The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams.  I have not read this book yet, but I have read two reviews about this book from biblical counselors that I respect.  I have linked both reviews.  Why is this such a big topic for the biblical counseling movement?  In the title of the book, it says 'after Adams.'  That man is Dr. Jay Adams.  He is considered the father of the biblical counseling movement.  Back in the 1970's, Dr. Adams saw that the Christian church was referring her hurting members out to secular schools of thought when it came to counseling.  There was a growing mindset that the Bible wasn't sufficient for life's problems.  Dr. Adam's passion was and still is to bring the Bible back to the counseling table.  Not as an item to display, but as the only authority for life and godliness.  During this time, there was another growing movement within the church.  Christian counseling was becoming more and more popular because the church was seeing such a need for help.  This brought about what is called an Integrated model of counseling.  Counselors merge the Bible with secular psychology theory as the authorities in their counseling.  Often, the Bible just becomes a display item and the psychologist has full authority in these people's lives.  Most Christian counselors are godly, loving and devoted believers in Christ and truly desire to see God's children helped by Him.  The problem is that there is a disconnect in thinking that the Bible just doesn't cover the issues that we face today, or it is too simplistic to use as the sole authority to help the hurting.  Dr. Adams worked diligently and passionately to expose this wrong thinking and bring the Bible back to its place as God's inspired Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword and able to expose the intentions and motives of our hearts.  God's Word is sufficient for all of life. 
I was exposed to the biblical counseling movement by reading a number of Dr. Adams' books and God used those books to develop the conviction in me to serve in this ministry because I am convinced that the Bible is all sufficient for all of life's problems and struggles.  I shared Dr. Bob Kellemen's review of this book on my Facebook page and thought that the book could be a helpful resource.  Now, with Jay Younts' review, I am not so sure.  I think that the book has some good things in it, but I am in agreement with Mr. Younts' concerns about it.  You can read the reviews at:–-because-of-adams and

I am indebted to Dr. Adams for his work and praise God that there are such men.  If you have read the book, please comment and let me know your thoughts.  I intend to get a copy and read it so that I can give my own review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And I Am Helped...

This morning, I was reading in the Psalms and was greatly encouraged by Psalm 28:6,7.  I am so thankful to God for having the Psalms written down for us to be able to read about the heart of hurting people before Him.  God, in His perfect patience and mercy, knows that we are needy people, but He doesn't just leave us 'needy'.  Psalm 28:6,7 says, "Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him."  In Him, David's heart trusted and in Him, David was helped.  I believe that this is true for us today.  In Him our hearts can trust because He is so worthy of trust.  In Him we are helped, because He is the only One who really can help.

Matthew Henry puts it this way in his commentary on Psalm 28:

II. He encourages himself to hope in God for the perfecting of every thing that concerned him. Having given to God the glory of his grace (v. 6), he is humbly bold to take the comfort of it, v. 7. This is the method of attaining peace: let us begin with praise that is attainable. Let us first bless God and then bless ourselves. Observe, 1. His dependence upon God: "The Lord is my strength, to support me, and carry me on, through all my services and sufferings. He is my shield, to protect me from all the malicious designs of my enemies against me. I have chosen him to be so, I have always found him so, and I expect he will still be so.’’ 2. His experience of the benefits of that dependence: "My heart trusted in him, and in his power and promise; and it has not been in vain to do so, for I am helped, I have been often helped; not only God has given to me, in his due time, the help I trusted to him for, but my very trusting in him has helped me, in the mean time, and kept me from fainting.’’ Ps. 27:13. The very actings of faith are present aids to a dropping spirit, and often help it at a dead lift. 3. His improvement of this experience. (1.) He had the pleasure of it: Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. The joy of a believer is seated in the heart, while, in the laughter of the fool, the heart is sorrowful. It is great joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. The heart that truly believes shall in due time greatly rejoice; it is joy and peace in believing that we are to expect. (2.) God shall have the praise of it: when my heart greatly rejoices, with my song will I praise him. This must we express our gratitude; it is the least we can do; and others will hereby be invited and encouraged to trust in him too.

I like how Matthew Henry says that 'not only God has given to me, in his due time, the help I trusted to him for, but my very trusting in him has helped me, in the mean time, and kept me from fainting.'  How many of us today feel like 'fainting?'  How many of us have regrets from 2011?  How many of us have set new year's resolutions to do better this year?  With all the things that we are facing this coming year, are we taking those to the Lord, or are we just trying to make it through another year with minimal damage?  David in this Psalm is encouraging himself to look to the Lord when trouble comes.  He is reminding himself that God is his strength and shield and that God is the One who helps. 

And this is true for us all today.  If you are wondering where and when help will come for your weary soul, draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you.  Remember Psalm 28 as well as Psalm 120:1,2 "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." I am convinced that one of the main reasons we all feel like 'fainting' or weary and that God feels distant is directly related to the amount of time we spend with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  Just as Jesus taught us in John 15:5, " I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."  When we don't spend consistent time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study, it is like we are cut off from the vine.  Our hearts can wither and feel dry because our life blood has been slowed.  Now, I am not talking about salvation.  He who is a believer in Christ and has asked Him to be his Lord and Savior has been permenantly attached to the Vine, Christ, and will never be cut off.  Also, the true believer cannot be cut off from the Vine due to how they are feeling or their sin (Romans 8:38,39).  Most times, when we are not consistently spending time in God's Word, the truth, we are tempted to allow our feelings to dictate our responses to life and circumstances.  Therefore, a question arises, how well do we 'know' the Lord?  How well do I know Tim Tebow?  I know of him, but I don't know him.  Getting to know someone deeply requires lots of time with that person and lots of giving of ourselves to that person, whether they are a spouse, a friend or family member.  We don't just wake up and really know someone we've just met.  I desire to 'know' God and not just know 'of' Him.  In His grace, He had His Word written down for us to be able to get to know Him better. 

This year, may we resolve to further deepen our fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ by trusting Him to help us be more consistent in our walks with Him.  We just might find that things that felt insurmountable in our lives aren't that big of a deal after all.  They may still hurt and suffering may continue, but our responses to these will be grounded in the truth of who Christ is and who we are in Him instead of how we are feeling.  Feelings are deceiving, but God's Word stands forever true!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's Start 2012 With Vision

As we begin 2012, may we look to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for His help, guidance and grace to endure the days to come.  May Christ be glorified in and through our lives.  God bless you all and have a Happy New Year!

O Lord,
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear be my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service,
to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
and advance Thy kingdom.
From a collection of Puritan prayers in The Valley of Vision.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Men Are Tempted to Lust...Women Are Tempted to be Lusted After.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word 'pornography'?  Where is pornography most prevelant?  It might not be what you think.  In a follow up blog, Dr. Rick Thomas speaks about the layers of this growing issue with men and women.  Below is the Big Key point that Dr. Thomas makes, which I think we all know at some level.  Our hearts are the problem.  No matter what temptation we give in to or sin that we habitually commit, the problem is not outside of us, it is very much inside us.  This is a really good article with some great reminders for guys about the problem of lust, as well as some possible new thoughts for women to think about in their own lives.  You can click on the link below to read the blog post from Counseling Resources Ministries. 
Pornography is something that we all know is a problem in our lives, but we don't often get it out in the open.  This is another silent killer in the hearts and lives of men in the church today and I believe is growing in the lives of women.  May God give us all the courage to get this out in the open, not only in our own lives, but also to help fellow believers to be able to talk about this struggle.  Please read the blog post and then share it with someone that you know who struggles in this area.

Big Key - Porn is a secondary issue or the manifestation of a deeper issue. The real issue is a matter of the heart. The roots of pornography reach into a man’s heart. Porn is born in the heart, which the Bible would call lust.
Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (lust). Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin (porn), and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (relational dysfunction). – James 1:14-15 (ESV)
Once we reframe the argument and re-evaluate our thinking, then we will realize that the problem is much bigger than we first believed. If the problem is more about lust, which it is, then it becomes evident that men are not the only people with a porn problem.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trends in Biblical Counseling

I came across this post from Dr. Bob Kellemen and Dr. David Powlison that they put together to show the recent trends in the biblical counseling movement.  What an encouragement to read about the leaders and churches that are actively working to bring help to the hurting through the Word of God.  I hope this is an encouragement to you as we seek the Lord to continue to do these things at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. 
What has been so exciting to me is the amount of biblical counseling resources that are available today as opposed to five years ago.  When I first began the journey of biblical counseling training over five years ago, biblical counseling was strong, but not as widespread as it is now.  It was hard to find churches and organizations that were committed to biblical counseling then, but now it is quite the opposite.  May God continue to bless His work in and through his people that are weilding His Word to help those in need!

The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling

As I speak around the country on biblical counseling, I typically hear two very different responses. Sometimes I’m asked, “When you say ‘biblical counseling,’ you don’t mean ___________ do you?” Various people fill in that blank with different labels—negative to them. What a shame that placing the word “biblical” in front of “counseling” causes some in the church to recoil in fear.

But there’s good news—the tide is turning. I consistently hear comments like, “God has used biblical counseling to change my life.” And, “Our church’s biblical counseling ministry is impacting our entire congregation and our community for God’s glory.”

It’s exciting to reflect on what God is doing as he empowers leaders to equip his people to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:11-16). With that reality as the backdrop, here are the top ten positive trends that I see in biblical counseling today—shared in reverse order.

10. A Collegial Spirit

Increasingly, members of biblical counseling organizations are choosing to work together and to learn from each other. The 2010 launch of the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) is just one example. The vision of pastors James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and Steve Viars of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana, the BCC exists to strengthen churches, parachurch organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship. Viars, BCC's president, explains this collegial vision:  The BCC is about relationships and resources. Relationships because we believe that together we can accomplish more. Resources because we want to help everyone interested in practicing biblical counseling in their churches to have the best tools and training possible.

9. A Positive Perspective

At times, modern biblical counseling has suffered under the stereotype of what it was against. A shift is taking place as biblical counseling focuses more on a positive presentation of what it is for. James MacDonald explains the transition:  Like every move of God, biblical counseling is ready and poised to move from the establishment phase to development phase. This means getting beyond the pejorative of infancy and the infighting of adolescence into a thoughtful, measured, broader biblical counseling coalition. At a recent national biblical counseling conference, I had the privilege of gathering with the "next generation" leaders. The Lord led me to challenge them to step past the nuances of our different methods and into the agreement that anyone seeking to solve people’s complex problems from a biblical anthropology and a foundational commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture was on our team. Everyone agreed that the time has come to rally together for the sake of the gospel and for hurting people everywhere who need what only Christ can bring. Biblical counseling as a unified movement is on the rise.

8. A New Gen Leadership

We are grateful for the founders of the modern biblical counseling movement—men like Jay Adams and pastor Bill Goode (under whose ministry I came to know Christ). We’re also grateful for a new generation of leaders in biblical counseling. Examples abound: Deepak Reju at Capitol Hill Baptist, Robert Cheong at Sojourn Community, John Henderson at Denton Bible, Mike Wilkerson at Mars Hill, Rob Green at Faith Baptist, Jeremy Lelek of the Association of Biblical Counselors, Kevin Carson of Sonrise Baptist, Heath Lambert of Crossing Church, and Garrett Higbee of Harvest Bible.

7. An Emphasis on Compassionate Care

There was a time when “modern biblical counseling” was stereotyped by some as “harsh confrontation.” That label is dissipating as biblical counselors embrace a growing commitment to loving engagement. Biblical counseling provides compassionate soul care through sustaining and healing for suffering and gentle, humble spiritual direction for sin and sanctification through reconciling and guiding.

6. A Culturally Informed Approach

The biblical counseling movement is maturing through the contributions of a growing multiethnic group of women and men. Elyse Fitzpatrick and Laura Hendrickson are just two examples of women with gospel-centered biblical counseling ministries. Charles Ware, Deepak Reju, and Robert Cheong are representative of a diverse group of individuals embracing biblical counseling.

5. A Comprehensive Model

In the past, biblical counseling might have been seen by some as somewhat one-dimensional with a focus on combating the impact of the fall/sin. Today, biblical counseling comprehensively examines creation (understanding people from God’s original design), fall (diagnosing problems resulting from sin), and redemption (prescribing God’s solutions through our salvation and sanctification in Christ). Fresh approaches are comprehensively emphasizing our relational (spiritual, social, and self-aware), rational, volitional, emotional, and physical nature as they seek to help people to grow in grace.

4. A Commitment to Progressive Sanctification

There is a growing linkage between biblical counseling and spiritual formation. The fruit of wise counseling is spiritually mature people who increasingly reflect Christ (relationally, rationally, volitionally, and emotionally) by enjoying and exalting God and by loving others well and wisely. Current models of biblical counseling have made great progress in teaching that the counseling process is a sub-set of the discipleship process, both of which God designs to assist us to grow in grace.

3. A Robust Presentation of the Sufficiency of Scripture

The biblical counseling movement continues to flesh-out robust and nuanced perspectives on the relevance, sufficiency, profundity, and authority of God’s Word for Christian living. The same confidence that pastors take into the pulpit when preaching God’s Word, biblical counselors share in the personal/conversational ministry of the Word. Biblical counselors are convinced that the inspired and inerrant Scriptures, rightly interpreted and carefully applied, offer us God’s comprehensive wisdom where we learn to understand who we are, the problems we face, how people change, and God’s provision for that change in the gospel.

David Powlison explains it well:  Nothing compares with Scripture for making sense of the troubles and struggles of life. Through the Word, Christ brings the exact mercies that troubled people need, and the Holy Spirit forms would-be helpers into his loving, wise image. Wise counseling is in the church’s DNA.

2. A Vision for the Entire Church

There’s a growing movement to embed biblical counseling and personal change within God’s community—the church. As Steve Viars explains: Our goal is to not only have a counseling center, but to be a counseling center where the core doctrines of the sufficiency of Scripture and biblical progressive sanctification impact and inform every facet of our ministry. As part of this movement back to the local church, churches are increasingly becoming equipping centers where biblical counseling becomes a normal part of the one-another ministry of every believer. Biblical counseling organizations like CCEF, NANC, and ABC are equipping pastors to equip their people.

1. A Gospel-Centered Focus

Biblical counselors are emphasizing that wise counseling centers on Jesus Christ—his sinless life, death on the cross, burial, resurrection, ascension, and promised return. Biblical counseling points people to a person, Jesus our Redeemer, and not to a program, theory, or experience. We place our trust not in any human system but in the transformative power of the Redeemer as the only hope to change people’s hearts. Wise counselors seek to lead struggling, hurting, sinning, and confused people to the hope, resources, strength, and life that are available only in Christ.


David Powlison and Bob Kellemen will host an open discussion on the current state and future role of biblical counseling in the church from 1 to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, at TGC's 2011 national conference in Chicago. The discussion follows the first round of workshops, including Powlison's talk on "The Pastor's Counseling Ministry" from 11 a.m. to noon, and a one-hour lunch break. Everyone interested in the ministry of biblical counseling is invited. Location TBA.

Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., has pastored three churches (and launched biblical counseling ministries in each), served for a dozen years as the founding chairman of the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship Department at Capital Bible Seminary, is the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries, and serves as the executive director of the newly launched Biblical Counseling Coalition. His sixth book on biblical counseling will be released in October 2011 by P&R: 'Equipping Counselors for the Local Church: The 4E Ministry Training Strategy.'

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cutting & Self-Injury - A Follow Up

I came across this article this morning and was reminded that I haven't had any follow up articles to my older post of Self Harm.  This is a really good article using Psalm 23 as the backdrop.  Author, Jay Younts, captures the truth of God's protection and presence promised in Psalm 23 that can help anyone that is caught in the sin of Self Harm or Cutting.  This blog post comes from the Association of Biblical Counselors.  There are great resources and blogs from well respected Biblical Counselors.  Please comment on this post.  I would love to know how any of you have dealt with this problem and what tips you might be able to give.

Self-Injury and Psalm 23  By: Jay Younts
One day two parents bring a fragile soul to your office and tell you she has been caught cutting. They want you to help their daughter stop. But as you look at the daughter all you see is painful detachment. She has no real desire to stop cutting as long as the pain within haunts her soul and entices her to seek relief from a razor blade.
She knows the cutting is wrong, but she is beyond caring about right and wrong. She will take whatever relief she can get, even if it is only for a few moments, as she is distracted by the pain of the razor and the resulting rush of endorphins. For her, the bottom line is that, for a moment, she is distracted, free from her relational pain.
Self-injury, in its various forms—such as cutting—is an attempt at self-healing. Does that sound like an oxymoron? It should, because it is. But the cutter has a rationale for cutting. Deep within the soul of the cutter, pain and emptiness reign. She feels alone and embittered by the unfairness of life and her own hurt. The cutter is persuaded that no one understands. If God is acknowledged at all, he is viewed as distant and unable to stop the gnawing pain within.
Self-injury knows no social or economic bounds. From the lonely, hurting teenager to the empty world of Princess Diana, self-injury offers a momentary escape from relational agony. Here is one way to define the sin of self-injury:
Self-injury is a form of self-inflicted physical injury performed in order to assuage the relational hurt resulting from broken relationships with God and others. Thus, self-injury is not primarily a cry for help, but a desperate attempt at self-healing when relationships with others have seemingly failed.
The underlying sin of self-injury is turning to self for relief rather than to God. The cutter tries to accomplish for herself something that only God can do. Sin’s deceitfulness lures the self-injurer on. The razor continues to promise what it cannot deliver. The song “Numb,” by Linkin Park, describes the pain of a cutter, a teenage daughter alienated from her mother, this way:
I've become so numb, I can't feel you there,
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you.
And I know I may end up failing too.
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you.
So what can you do to help self-injurers that God brings to you? Both Mark Shaw and Ed Welch have written helpful booklets that anyone counseling self-injurers should read. You, of course, will do a thorough job of data-gathering, looking for the underlying issues that brought things to this point. In addition, allow me to suggest adding Psalm 23 to your resources in dealing with self-injurers. This psalm describes with amazing insight the world of the self-injurer. Let’s take a brief look at each verse and how it applies. I will make the comments specific to cutting, but the principles apply to all forms of self-injury.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
This strikes right at the center of the pain of the cutter. From a relational perspective, the cutter believes that she lacks everything. She believes that if God is indeed her shepherd, then he must be doing a terrible job. Functionally, she knows little of the care of God. He is not a loving shepherd, but a tyrant. She may not voice these words directly to you or to her parents, but that is where she is functionally. Your task, counselor, is to bring her back to God’s reality. This verse connects to reality from God’s perspective.
“How do I begin to explain God’s reality?” you may ask. That is an excellent and fundamental question. The answer to that question is often referred to as one’s worldview, although we are looking only at the “short version” here.
We are here on the planet to do what he has called us to do. Thus, through the promises and work of Christ we do, in fact, have all that we need. We lack nothing. Our cutter is viewing life from her own perspective, from her perception of her needs. This way of thinking is always a recipe for disaster. Some people embark on a lifelong quest to meet their own needs. They chase the illusive dream; to achieve it they may become workaholics or engage in some other vain pursuit. Cutters don’t wait that long. Their pain drives them to seek relief NOW. The goal of your counseling should be to bring the self-injurer to embrace the reality of this first verse of Psalm 23.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
These two verses speak of the blessed reality that verse one proclaims. If God is our shepherd, then he does indeed refresh our souls. He does guide well. In his care we indeed are surrounded by green pastures. But the cutter denies this reality and sees life only from her own lonely perspective. She is living by sight and not be faith. So, as you work through the pain of her life, you have this blessed hope to set before her: salvation, true rest, is found in coming to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). Christ alone, through his word alone, can make sense of this young girl’s life. To be healed, she needs to see with eyes of faith. Inner healing must begin for the physical wounds to heal fully; otherwise the wounds will beckon to be opened again.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
This is where you can begin; this is where your cutter can identify deeply with the written word. She knows all about the dark valley of her life. The psalmist does not gloss over this dark reality. The self-injurer lives in this valley. The only light she sees is the brief reprieve of the razor blade. Start here, and help her see that her view of reality is at odds with God’s reality. Christ was tempted at every point that she was tempted, but he never reached for the sharp edge of the blade. Instead, he turned to the joy of submitting to his heavenly Father. Because of his death, your cutter can do this as well. She no longer has to fear the dark evils of her life. God can bring comfort to her darkest fears.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
This is the reality that awaits your counselee as she turns away from her fears—fears driven by a flawed, sinful perspective that says she is alone and there is no one to help with her hurt, pain and fear. As she is able to embrace the truth of these last two verses, she will be able to rest in the truth that God is her Shepherd, and she has all that she needs in him.
As many commentators have said, Psalm 23 is for the living, not the dead. Using compassion, skillful listening, insightful questions, diligent prayer, and courageously proclamation of God’s sufficient Word, you can bring hope and healing to the cutter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Community Groups and Biblical Counseling

Today's post is the last of this great six part series on the relationship between small group ministries and biblical counseling.  It has been such an encouragement to me to see the similarities between Desert Springs Church and these other churches in the vision of the small groups/community groups being the priority for doing life and ministry.  I hope these have been an encouragement to you as well.  Where do you fall in this topic?  Do you see the community group/small group/home group ministry as the first stop in seeking counsel/help in your lives?  All of God's children are counselors.  What kind of counsel are you offering?  What kind of counsel are you seeking?  God's Word is sufficient for our hurting and struggling hearts (2 Timothy 3:16).  As we seek to equip our leaders in biblical counseling, it is easy to see that some are intimidated by what they are being asked to do.  Being asked and trained to do something new is always intimidating.  I believe that over time as our leaders take steps in the practice of biblical counseling, they will see that God is faithful in His promises to use those in need of change to help those in need of change.  I also believe that the intimidation factor eases as we realize that it is God who is at work in and through us (Philippians 2:13) and when we see Him working in the lives of others right before our eyes, it is cause for great joy and praise to Him.  This is no different than when our leaders are teaching a passage of Scripture and 'light bulbs' go on and we see lives changed because the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  Praise God for His Word and for the ministries that He calls us all to.  He began this good work and He will be the One to complete it.

My Story

I have been on staff at The Village Church since December of 2006. I started out as the Care Pastor and built out the Pastoral Care Department. This included grief related ministries, pre-marital mentoring ministry, and lay biblical counseling training, among other things. I did this for four-and-a-half years.
Recently I have transitioned to Home Groups Ministry, where I am an Associate Groups Pastor at the Flower Mound campus. I have had the opportunity to bring biblical counseling training and resources to Home Groups within the leadership and coaching structures.

Small Groups and Discipleship

Small Groups Ministry at The Village Church has been the main avenue for discipleship since the church was replanted nearly 10 years ago. As the church has grown, the need for solid Home Group leaders has become a consistent priority.
This is where biblical counseling has become paramount for Home Groups at The Village Church. The three primary areas most affected have been the New Leader Orientation, Home Group Coach training, and resourcing.

New Leader Orientation

The New Leader Orientation is the training we put new group leaders through. A bulk of that training is derived from a conglomerate of biblical counseling resources (Equipped to Counsel, Instruments in the Redeemers Hands, How People Change, etc.). This has given us the opportunity to early and often introduce our leaders to the world of biblical counseling while equipping to be gospel-centered, heart-focused biblical counselors in their Home Groups.
Also, this gets them familiar with how/when/why to leverage excellent biblical counseling resources provided through the Association of Biblical Counselors (with whom we have a partnership). Most of the leaders at this point have heard about biblical counseling from the stage, Recovery @ The Village, and the resources we use throughout the church.

Home Group Coach Training

Our Groups Ministry has been implementing a coaching structure for the past couple of years. Each coach is over anywhere from 3-to-5 group leaders. They pour into the leader in a variety of ways and in essence become an extension of the pastors and elders.
We train our coaches using the curriculum written by Michael Snetzer in our Recovery Ministry, which is a biblical counseling ministry that addresses repentance, suffering, and spiritual dynamics. We also take our coaches through eight weeks of biblical counseling training (furthered from the New Leader Orientation Training they have already received). Again, we leverage resources for our coaches through the partnership we have with the Association of Biblical Counselors.

Join the Conversation

  • How could you implement small group and biblical counseling training ideas from the ministry at The Village Church?
  • Of the six blog posts from six different churches, what principles do you want to implement as you build a biblical intersect between small group ministry and biblical counseling?
  • In addition to what you learned from these six churches, what would you add? What would you recommend that other churches consider doing in order to build bridges between small group ministry and biblical counseling?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Biblical Counseling and Community Groups

The following is part 5 of this 6-part series on the relationship between biblical counseling and small groups that the Biblical Counseling Coalition is doing.  You can find all 5 blogs about this at Grace and Truth Blog.  Part 5 gives us a great example of what training small group leaders in biblical counseling can produce.  Desert Springs Church also believes that the Community Groups are the frontlines ministry of the church and will ultimately become the lifeblood of the church.  With this vision, equipping the leaders in biblical counseling makes perfect sense because the leaders are the first point of contact with the majority of DSC's members.  What a great place to start helping the hurting and loving on them as they see God transform their lives!  As DSC seeks to equip these leaders, not only in biblical counseling, but in leadership and discipleship, our hope is that the our members would be greatly strengthened and encouraged in the Word. 

Frontline Ministry

How much effort should we put in helping small group leaders be equipped in biblical counseling? That’s an excellent question. Here at Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) we think it is a no brainer. In fact, churches that equip their small group leaders as front line biblical counselors are leading the way in transformational ministry.
I just finished training some amazing Small Group Leaders (SGLs) and Flock Leaders (FLs) at HBC in Chicago (FLs have 6-10 Small Group Leaders and groups under their care). We see the Small Group Ministry as the front lines for Biblical Soul Care (BSC) which is what we call our full-orbed counseling ministry. SGLs are the first responders to the hurting in our church.

Levels of Training

We have four levels of training at Harvest. The first level is for anyone who wants to be more intentional as a disciple and advocate for others by living out the “one anothers” of Scripture.
Level 2 training is for SGLs and we equip them with four critical skills and over twenty tools to assess, target, and counsel at the heart level. As the leaders went through the training they were deeply moved and encouraged as the paradigm of an expert versus an advocate model of care, and privacy versus community in counseling were challenged. Often more applied and impacting counseling happens in real-life scenarios like in small groups.
The idea of a church counseling ministry without equipping the small group leaders is just plain thinking hard—not smart. Small groups are the preventive arm of biblical soul care. They are the ground troops in a full assault on sin and suffering.

Components of Blended Training

As we went through the skills training, we provided what we call “what-if scenarios.” The 70-some participants came alive as they identified and traced fruit issues to the root level. Their confidence in God’s Word increased and their skill in applying the Word with truth and grace grew.
We also taught them about how to assess group maturity and how to move from superficial, authentic, transparent, to vulnerable. We set the bar at “uncommon community.” They were pumped because God sets that bar for us and they were learning what it looks like to attain it as Christ and the Gospel gains a central place in all we do.
SGLs were hungry to be taught the fundamentals of biblical soul care. They wanted to be better care-givers. We defined their role as facilitator, discipler, and counselor rolled into one. The high-impact SGL goes deep. He or she listens, observes, calls out, and encourages the group.
The intimidation factor of “who am I to tell them” started to melt as we went through the “one anothers” of Scripture together. We discussed humility, bearing each others’ burdens, and the tension and blend of truth and grace.
The SGLs had to take an inventory of their own integrity and walk as well as that of their group. We created a safe place to soberly consider closing the gap between our spoken theology and our lived theology. It was, in a word, beautiful.


Here are a few testimonies we’ve received:
  • “Now I know what a healthy SG looks like.”
  • “This should be a requirement for all SGLs.”
  • “I am applying heart revealing questions and our group is already more transparent.”
  • “I am overwhelmed, in a good way. I will spend the rest of my life learning and applying these teachings.”
I cannot overstate the importance of equipping small group leaders in biblical soul care and counseling. We are not a church with a counseling staff, or a counseling center. We are becoming a church of biblical soul care counselors.

Join the Conversation

How would your small group ministry be impacted if all your leaders were also trained in biblical soul care counseling?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Community Groups and Biblical Counseling

Good morning!  Today's post is a re-post of the BCC's Grace and Truth Blog's series on the relationship between small groups and biblical counseling.  It is such an encouragement to read about other churches that have the same vision and practice as DSC in regards to our Community Groups.  Biblical counseling is an all God's people, all the time paradigm.  By God's grace, He is the one effecting change in a person and He chooses to use broken vessels to accomplish His will.  Praise God that it is not up to me to change a person!  I get to watch God change the person and that is an incredible thing to observe.  God is good and active in the lives of His people!  Again, these posts are at the Biblical Counseling Coalition's blog, Grace and Truth.  Enjoy...

The Ministry of the Word in Everyday Life

Our church, Covenant Fellowship Church, started as a church plant in 1984 with a team of a couple of dozen adults and children relocating to the Philadelphia suburbs. We are part of the Sovereign Grace Ministries family of churches. The church currently has a membership of about 1,500 people. We are committed to a pastoral care model built on Gospel centrality and biblical counseling. The pastors of the church care for the spiritual needs of the people in the church in preaching and teaching, in their personal ministry, and in creating structures of care for the church. We are committed to doing personal biblical counseling as a significant and ongoing part of our ministry responsibilities.
To be committed to care through biblical counseling, however, doesn’t mean that the pastors are the designated counselors within the walls of the church. While the call of the pastor presumes that he has gifts, skills, and experience in the care of people, biblical counseling doesn’t succeed or fail on the expertise of the one giving it. The emphasis isn’t on the gifts of the counselor, or the fact that counsel is coming “from the pastor,” but on the power and sufficiency of God’s Word. Therefore, we see counseling in a broad sense first—as ministry of the Word among ordinary people in everyday life.

Community Group Ministry

Our basic structure for ‘counseling,’ as understood above, is our Community Group Ministry. Small groups have been an integral part of our church since its inception. In fact, for the fifteen years that the church met in rented facilities, small groups were the sustaining context of the church on a day-to-day basis. That orientation remains very much who we are to this day even though we now occupy a building and have the programs and ministries that a building allows a church to provide.
Our Community Groups (as they are now called) have some features that make them distinct from the way small groups are structured in many churches. For one thing, the Community Groups are the primary context where members of the church receive the care provided by pastoral ministry. While our pastoral staff is dedicated to availability, responsiveness, and counsel to any member, it is neither biblical, practical, nor ultimately helpful for the members of the church to depend on personal pastoral meetings for care. People need the effect of the gifts the Holy Spirit distributes throughout the body of believers. We all need the ‘one another ministry’ that is embedded in biblical community. And we need the shared experiences of suffering, weakness, and change that are essential to the maturity and witness of the church. The Community Groups serve that function in a primary way at Covenant Fellowship Church.
Community Groups are so essential to who we are as a local church that they are an essential expression of membership in the church. In other words, to be a member of Covenant Fellowship Church, a person is committed to attending and actively participating in a Community Group. If a person is not involved in a Community Group they are not positioned to receive the pastoral care that the church has promised to them. As pastors, we are committed to the care of God’s people given to us through membership and seek to help anyone who is not participating in a Community Group find a way to experience this necessary care. Simply put, a person’s care from the church, whether it is meeting practical needs or addressing spiritual struggles, is intended to be centered in the familiar and supportive environment of the Community Group.
Our Community Group leaders, therefore, are more than just facilitators of the small group. They carry a responsibility to ensure that every member of the church has access to the practical care of the church and that the pastors are kept abreast of the needs and challenges the people in the church face. Our Community Group leaders are the primary laypersons who have personal ministry responsibility in the church. Prior to becoming Community Group leaders, they will have demonstrated a mature ability to offer counsel to others as brothers and sisters in Christ, will have gone through our general discipleship and leadership training courses, and will have had specific training in the responsibilities of Community Group leadership. Small group leaders meet as groups with pastors once per month for the purpose of their own care and for ongoing training in personal ministry.

The Personal Ministry of the Word

But we are not looking for the Community Group leaders to ‘do the counseling.’ We have sought to teach the church that ‘counseling’ is one expression of the personal ministry of God’s Word in community; alongside discipleship, intercessory prayer, biblical fellowship, wise advice, confession, encouragement and shared study of God’s Word. It is in the multiple layers of relational ministry that counseling occurs.
For example, if someone is struggling with acute anxiety, he or she may meet with a pastor who will help position them through formal counseling for change. But the pastor will involve the Community Group leaders, friends, and even at times a brother or sister who has struggled with the same issue to create a network of prayer, support, and counsel for that person. Since we view change as a work of God that takes place over time, this ‘community based counseling’ provides the insight, support and accountability to help a person with lasting change over time.
It is the cooperative work between creative pastoral engagement and enduring community fellowship that serves as our model of biblical counseling in the church.

Join the Conversation

What could you apply to your ministry from the way Covenant Fellowship Church blends creative pastoral engagement and enduring community fellowship?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Community Groups and Biblical Counseling

I am very excited about a new series that is being done at the Biblical Counseling Coalition's Grace and Truth Blog about the relationship between small groups and biblical counseling.  Today's post is Part 3 of this series, which I say 'Amen' to and hope that it is an encouragement for others to see that small groups and biblical counseling go hand-in-hand.  Since Desert Springs Church's vision is that the Community Groups become the primary place for life and ministry, biblical counseling is intended to happen mostly within those groups.  There is still need for more formal settings for counseling, but CG leaders are actively being equipped for the challenges of counseling members of their groups as needs arise.  God's children are all counselors.  We all give advice, have been asked for our opinion on something, or have sought to correct someone that was wrong.  We are all counselors.  The question is, what kind of counselor are you?  When you give counsel, whose counsel are you offering...God's or your own?  The biblical counselor seeks to offer God's counsel that is found in His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit.  As DSC steers all of the ministries toward the CGs, it will be very exciting to see God move in the lives of our members and help them have a biblical perspective on their problems.  By God's grace, this is happening and God is glorified.  You can read Parts 1 & 2 at the Grace and Truth Blog link that is hightlighted above.  I hope you enjoy these posts.

Biblical Counseling and Growth Group Leading

By God’s grace the pastoral staff of University Reformed Church envisions biblical counseling as an important part of our overall discipling ministry. One of my goals as Director of Counseling Ministries is to help create a culture of biblical counseling at URC. This includes training elders and growth group leaders in the basics of biblical counseling. Over a year ago, Associate Pastor Ben Falconer and I teamed up to plan biblical counseling training for the URC “shepherds.” We have done several training sessions to help them incorporate a biblical counseling model into the discipling they do as elders and Growth Group leaders. One session in particular was to help growth group leaders use biblical counseling questions in leading a Bible study.

URC’s Vision for Discipling and Growth Groups

URC’s vision has been well-captured in the words of Associate Pastor, Ben Falconer:
University Reformed Church is… a Bible-teaching and praying church, ministering to our neighbors, the campus, the nations, and the unreached peoples of the world. We attempt to accomplish this mission in large part through our two principal ministries: our Sunday services and our Growth Groups. At URC, Growth Groups are the primary place where Biblical Community is fostered. This means that Growth Groups are thoroughly biblical in content (the Bible is the regular source of study), nature (believers pray for, honor, serve, teach, encourage, meet with, and love one another), and purpose (our primary goal is that disciples of Jesus Christ are raised up for the glory of God).
In the summer of 2010, I was able to do a ministry project for my CCEF Introduction to Biblical Counseling Certificate on URC shepherd training. Here is how Ben and I sought to align biblical counseling and Growth Group ministry. The purpose of this training is “to equip URC shepherds to glorify God by making lifelong disciples through the gospel.” This includes:
  • Knowing and caring for each individual member by watching over their welfare.
  • Intentionally leading people into Christian maturity (discipling).
  • Being available to pray for and help people work through sins and struggles (counseling).

Components of Our Training

The components of the training include:
1. Scripture Study:
2. Training and Practice in Biblical Counseling:
  • Learning what biblical counseling is and is not
  • Learning a vision for effective small groups
  • Learning the Three Trees model and the questions that go along with it
  • Learning the Love-Know-Speak-Do model of counseling
  • Doing case studies, self and peer counseling, role plays, and group leading exercise
3. Various Biblical Counseling Readings:
  • Five Advantages of Church-Based Counseling by Deepak Reju
  • Counseling and Discipleship by Deepak Reju
  • Some Thoughts on How to Provide Long-Term Pastoral Care by Tim Lane
  • Why Small Groups? by C. J. Mahaney and others
  • Leadership Training: Shepherding Leaders to Shepherd the Flock by Tony Giles

Preventative Counseling

Several of the questions/concerns we received after our first session related to getting practice in using biblical counseling preventatively (discipling) and not just correctively (counseling). This made a lot of sense because most ministry (especially by Growth Group leaders) will be preventative discipling rather than corrective counseling. So we designed one of the sessions to directly teach/model how to use biblical counseling questions in leading a Growth Group where you are studying Scripture and sharing together as a group. Ben already teaches growth group leaders how to lead an inductive Bible study. We added biblical counseling questions to supplement this and help bring the Bible study into the trenches of real life for people in the group. We chose to do a study on 1 Thessalonians 5: 12-18 incorporating both inductive study questions and biblical counseling questions. An outline of our study is provided below:
The passage we’re looking at comes from the section on Christian community: how do we live with one another in such a way that the body is built up and God is glorified? What hinders community? How can we overcome these hindrances? The passage contains several commands that give us specific directions for living in community.
  • What do you notice about these verses?
  • What are the main commands?
  • What does it mean to respect our spiritual leaders? Esteem them in love?
  • What do you see in verses 14-15?
  • Can you think of examples of admonishing the idle, encouraging the fainthearted, and helping the weak? Are you involved in these kinds of activities?
  • How would you summarize verses 16-18? What would it look like to do these things in real life?
  1. Which one of these commands is most challenging for you? Why? Have several people share and discuss as a group what makes it hard to obey the commands. The purpose here is to get people talking and to see which command(s) get the most attention.
  2. Choose a command that several people thought was hard to obey. Ask: Can anyone think of a specific time when you struggled to obey this command? What was going on in your life/day at that time? What stresses or blessings were you experiencing? How did your circumstances influence your obedience or disobedience? How did you respond? What do you think motivated your response (desires, fears, beliefs)? Ask another person the same set of questions and discuss. Point out how our shortsightedness and wandering desires get in the way of building community.
  3. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11 Paul gives us great motivation to build strong Christian community. How would you summarize Paul’s encouraging words? How would keeping these words in mind help us overcome our resistance to community building?
  4. Let’s go to God in prayer right now and confess the ways we have hindered community. Confess not only actions but also underlying heart issues.
  5. What is one way you could build community this week? How will the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 encourage and motivate you?

The Way Forward

While we have sought to provide good training to Growth Group leaders, this is still in its infancy. There is much work to do to ensure that biblical counseling and Growth Group leading are aligned and that they reinforce each other. This year we plan to do more training, especially for Growth Group leaders, in leading inductive/biblical counseling type Bible studies.

Join the Conversation

What can you apply to your ministry from the way University Reformed Church relates their small group ministry and biblical counseling?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Outdoor Photography

One of my favorite websites is Outdoor Photographer.  I have been downloading their desktop picture for my screen background.  It's free and well worth the time to save it to your computer.  Here is a taste of November's picture below:

Two of my dreams are to be a full time Biblical Counselor and to be a Professional Photographer.  Might not happen, but I can dream can't I?  Here are some pics that I love from this website and others.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sperry Peak, Cascade Range, Washington
Photographer: Randal R. Ketchem

Rio Grande Gorge

Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico

Photographer: Scott Pilgreen

Going Green
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Photographer: John Marshall

Going Green

Dry Falls, Highlands, North Carolina
Photographer: Dave Allen

Autumn At Dry Falls, Highlands Nc

Owl Creek Pass, Colorado
Photographer: Bryan Maltais
Owl Creek Pass

These pictures are only the tip of the iceberg of what is out there.  I took all of these images from Outdoor Photographer's website.  If you are interested in outdoor photography and want to enter contests, Outdoor Photographer has numerous photography contests running throughout the year.  You can find these and more at: Outdoor Photographer