Why Three Seminars on Depression-Anxiety?

People and counselors debate how much responsibility or control people have over the emotional experiences of depression and anxiety.

Are depression and anxiety sin (i.e., the result of misplaced beliefs, wrongly prioritized values, and poor choices) or suffering (i.e., response to hardships and degenerative biology)? 

Too often these become either-or, all-or-nothing debates. In these tandem seminars we will look and how the gospel provides guidance and hope to individuals when their emotional experience is the result of suffering and when its rooted in personal responsibility.

In the process of exploring each those in attendance will learn how to “sort their emotional laundry” in order experience the peace and hope God offers for both sin and suffering.

Date: Saturday September 27
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Date: Tuesday September 30
Time:  7:30 to 8:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Link will be posted at www.bradhambrick.com/events

Date: Saturday October 18
Time: 4:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free
RSVP: Link will be posted at www.bradhambrick.com/events


Video: How Does the Gospel Speak to Sin AND Suffering

It is much easier to see how the Gospel applies to sin than suffering. Most of our preaching and teaching in evangelical churches points to Christ almost exclusively as the answer for our sin problem. This only accounts for half of the struggles we face in life.

On Sunday June 5, The Summit Church will be hosting our first EQUIP seminar of the summer: “One Gospel for Two Struggles: Sin & Suffering.” Our goal for this teaching time is to present how the Gospel speaks to both sides of the human dilemma: sin and suffering. The two videos below contain a preview of this seminar’s content.

I would encourage you to listen to these two videos to: (1) prepare yourself for what will be presented — we always retain more when we have “the big idea” of what we are hearing, and (2) reflect on who you should invite to this seminar.

Video One:

EQUIP Seminar “One Gospel for Two Struggles: Sin & Suffering” Promotion 1 from Summit Counseling on Vimeo.

 Video Two:

Untitled from Summit Counseling on Vimeo.

Two Uses for the Upcoming Parenting Seminar

No matter how hard you strive to craft a clear and clever title for a seminar, it is never quite clear to everyone what a seminar is about.  Hopefully, a blog post can do what a title phrase cannot. There are two ways I am praying that this seminar will be used by God.

The first, and primary, use of the seminar would be to equip parents to raise their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4)” by training parents to effectively use the Bible and Gospel in parenting (hence the seminar title).

We have to begin by acknowledging this has not been done effectively in the last generation. An extensive research project by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer revealed:

“61% of today’s young adults who were regular church attendees are now ‘spiritually disengaged.’ They are not actively attending church, praying, or reading their Bibles (p. 24)… Almost 90% of them were lost in middle school and high school. By the time they got to college they were already gone (p. 31).” Ken Ham & Britt Beemer in Already Gone

This survey was taken exclusively from teenagers who grew up in conservative, evangelical churches. The statistics showed no major differences between children who attended public school, private school, or were home schooled.

With this said, parents must be equipped to prepare their children to think biblically, while living a life that models the superiority of biblical wisdom, and disciplining their children in a way that facilitates a growing appreciation/dependence on the Gospel.

This is a large task, but it is the mandate of every Christian parent. God gives us everything that we need for the task by His grace – often redeeming our sin and mistakes as the most fruitful illustrations of His wisdom and power. But we are commanded to equip ourselves for the task (2 Tim 2:5; 1 Pet 3:15). The first goal of this seminar is to be a part of that equipping.

A second use for this seminar is to be a place of healing and clarification for those whose parents use the Bible as a weapon against them or those who grew up in a non-Christian home and are not sure what Christian parenting looks like.

For some in these situations the Bible does not make sense. There are so many biblical doctrines and metaphors rooted in family life – God as Father, the church as the family of God, pictures of grace and nurturing.

For others in these situations the Bible is a book to be feared. It was brought out as a club to be the final instrument of guilt and shame. For these people it almost feels like children should be protected from the Bible and Gospel (because children should be protected from the kind of verbal abuse and emotional manipulation they were exposed to).

These are my prayers for the upcoming seminar. I hope they clarify whether this seminar is a good fit for your current season of life and equip you to join in praying for this seminar.

“Effectively Using the Bible & Gospel in Parenting”
Tuesday Sept 7, 2010
National Hills Baptist Church
2725 Washington Road; Augusta, GA 30909
9:00 am until Noon or 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm
(two times for your convenience)
$20.00 per personRegister at:
Secure On-Line Registration for AM Seminar
Secure On-Line Registration for PM Seminar
Mail-In Registration Form
By Phone at (706) 364-1270

Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness

Below you will find three resources related to the subject of mental health and illness.

  1. A video from a plenary presentation “Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness”
  2. An article that served as the outline for this presentation but contains additional information.
  3. A video from the panel discussion where this presentations was critiqued and expanded.

SJI-BradHambrick01 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

For the full article in PDF form click the link below:

Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness

For the biographical information on each participant on this panel, please click here.

SJI-BradHambrick02-Panel from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

One of the final questions in this panel discussion involved the panelists recommending books. Below is a list of the books they recommended and a few they wished later they had added to the list.

The Pain of Infertility

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon “Surprise: Luke 1:5-25,” preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday March 5-6, 2011.

In this sermon we saw Elizabeth and Zechariah deal with infertility. Actually, we only saw the end of their struggle. As Zechariah said (with his foot belonging in his mouth), “I’m old and my wife is really old (v. 7).” For a couple that had lived a long life mutually honoring God (v. 6), this pain was not new.

Doubtless, this hope-deferred makes the heart sick experience (Prov. 13:12) was part of the reason Zechariah refused to allow himself to believe that God would bless them with a child when God had arranged for angel to meet him in the Holy of Holies to make the announcement. It hurt too much to believe.  Zechariah would take his chances with a flaming warrior of light in order to avoid falsely hoping he could be called, “Papa.”

One (mild) piece of comfort is that barrenness often occurs where God is at work in mighty ways (Gen 11:30, 25:21, 29:31; Judges 13:2; Luke 1:7). We can often wonder, “Why is God punishing me? Why is He withholding this good thing? What have I done?” The pain of our unfulfilled dream is multiplied by our interpretation of God’s anger or absence.

As a church, this is one of the long and bumpy roads we walk with one another as we “do life together.” It is long, because it is indefinite. It is bumpy because we wonder every month whether this will be our turn and because it becomes painful to hear of other people’s joys concerning children.

On this subject, I would recommend an article by Kimberly and Philip Monroe. I recommend the article only secondarily because Phil is excellent counselor, personal friend, and has a great heart for the Lord. The primary reason I recommend the article is because they have modeled the vulnerable courage to open this painful part of their life to others.

With that said, I believe it is both the content and the example of this article that I would recommend. I do believe that you will find words of comfort taken from the Scriptures that point you to the hope of Christ found in the Gospel. But I also believe you will find two of God’s children walking the road of dependence upon God and be encouraged by their example.

To read the article “The Bible and the Pain of Infertility” click here.

Table of Contents for the New “Scripture and Counseling” Book from the BCC

I had the privilege of contributing chapter 15 to a newly released book Scripture and Counseling: God’s Word for Life in a Broken World with the publisher Zondervan. The contributors to this book are member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

In order to introduce you to this book, I thought I would post the table of contents so you can see the topics covered and the authors for each chapter. I hope you will order a copy and be encouraged about how the Bible speaks to breadth of challenges we face in our day-to-day lives.


Introduction: The Preacher, the Counselor,  and the Congregation by Kevin DeYoung and Pat Quinn

1 The Richness and Relevance of God’s Word by Kevin Carson

2 Sufficient for Life and Godliness by  Paul Tautges and Steve Viars

3 Where Do We Find Truth? by Jeffery Forrey

4 What Is Psychology? by Jeffery Forrey

5 Scripture Is Sufficient, but to Do What? by Jeremy Pierre

6 The Christ-Centeredness of Biblical Counseling by Robert Jones

7 A Counseling Primer from the Great Cloud of Witnesses by Bob Kellemen

8 What about the Body? by Sam Williams

9 Caution: Counseling Systems Are Belief Systems by Ernie Baker and Howard Eyrich

10 The Bible Is Relevant for That? by Bob Kellemen


11 The Rich Relevance of God’s Word by Bob Kellemen

12 The Practicality of the Bible for Becoming a Church  of Biblical Counseling by Garrett Higbee

13 Uncommon Community: Biblical Counseling in Small Groups by Garrett Higbee

14 Speaking the Truth in Love by Jonathan Holmes and Lilly Park

15 The Competency of the Biblical Counselor by Brad Hambrick

16 Relating Truth to Life: Gospel-Centered Counseling for Depression by Jeremy Lelek

17 Using Biblical Narrative in the Personal Ministry of the Word by John Henderson

18 Using Wisdom Literature in the Personal Ministry of the Word by Deepak Reju

19 Using the Gospels in the Personal Ministry of the Word by Rob Green

20 Using the Epistles in the Personal Ministry of the Word by Heath Lambert

Conclusion: Lessons Learned through Counseling Experience by Randy Patten

Appendix A: The Mission, Vision, and Passion Statement  of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

Appendix B: The Confessional Statement of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

Appendix C: The Doctrinal Statement of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

Spiritual Ramifications for Volitional Causes of Mental Illness (Part IV of IV)

When we are discussing various diagnoses it is easy to forget that there is always an active-choosing person. Even when there is clearly an “it” to discuss (a literal, physical disease), “it” still needs a host and the choices of this person will have a great impact on the intensity, duration, social impact, and possible elimination of the struggle.

In terms of counseling (a conversation between two people aimed at improving life), this person-making-choices and person-giving-meaning-to-experiences is the focal point of interaction. Environment cannot always be changed. Medications cannot eliminate symptoms. But there are always lifestyle choices and personal beliefs that can be changed which will have a significant impact on one’s mental health.

What are the gospel-implications for volitional causes or influences on mental illness?

  • Each individual must bear the responsibility for any choice he/she made (Ezek. 18:19-20).
  • There is forgiveness available for the guilt and shame associated with any destructive choice (Rom. 3:1-39).
  • There is an identity available as a “child of God” that is stronger than the shame of any choice (Eph. 5:1-2).
  • God empowers every Christian to be able to make healthy, righteous choices in any circumstance (Deut. 30:15-20).
  • We are never tempted beyond what we are able to resist by the grace of God (I Cor. 10:13).

Repentance Is Harder Than Eating Humble Pie

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Now what was the sort of ‘hole’ man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our ‘hole’. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder that merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. (p. 56-7).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This makes repentance sounds like a great deal more than saying, “I’m sorry.” Lewis makes my average attempt at repentance sound junior varsity at best. Most of my repentance stops at an acknowledgement of wrong and an expression of remorse. According to Lewis, I am stopping at the beginning.

In addition to acknowledgement and remorse, I should be:

  • Confessing a heart that wants to be independent of God
  • Recognizing each sin reveals that my heart is pointed in the wrong direction
  • Unlearning a way of life designed to please me first
  • Re-training my mind, will, and affections to value God most
  • Experiencing a form of death to my “old self”

That is what I should do each time I am impatient with my children, neglect the care of my wife, or allow my emotions (i.e., anger, fear, depression, hope, etc…) to be unduly tied to temporal things. Each occurrence of sin is a time when I should remember who I am as a fallen creature with a bent to resist my Creator.

As I think abut it, I should add another sin to the list – repenting in a way that treats my sin as a trivial offense. I so agree with my sin that I respond to God as if He should see it my way. I so buy into the lies that made my sin seem “second nature” that I almost believe God is sorry He has to call me on my sin. I repent as if He and I both “know” that He meant that rule for someone else not in my situation.

I am not sure how else I could explain “casual repentance.” As I just write this phrase, it seems like a glaring contradiction. Yet when I do it, “casual repentance” seems so natural. I think this must be what Lewis is referring to the “self-conceit and self-will” that humanity has been perfecting (in the worse sense of the word) for thousands of years.

This reminds me how much I need God. I would not even repent right apart from His grace and His Word transforming my heart and my mind. I am also struck by how much this must impact my human relationship (even more than I see). If I am willing to “casually repent” to the Holy God, how much more guilty must I be with my friends and family? After all, in those cases I can fall back on, “I’m not the only one at fault here.”  All of this to say, I think we (very much including me) need to take repentance a bit more seriously.

Other Religions Not All Wrong

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through… When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I become a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view… As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others (p. 35).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When discussing the Gospel with the Rich Young Ruler it is said Jesus “looked at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing’ (Mark 10:21a).” It is worth noting that Jesus said he only lacked “one” thing. This implies that there are many more things he could have missed.

The young man was seeking God (even Yahweh, the One true God), he approached Jesus as the one who could give him direction, he knew the quality of his life mattered, but he was unwilling to sacrifice his material blessings for God’s kingdom.

This conversation was different from other conversations Jesus had when people asked him questions about the law or eternal life (see Matthew 22:15-46). In these cases the questioners lacked more than one thing.

What I believe C.S. Lewis is rightly pointing out is that our tone of conversation can be different with a person of faith than with an atheist. In

these conversations we know that we agree on at least some of the key questions, although not on the answers. While with the atheist we cannot agree on the answers, because we are asking different questions.

That advantage of this is that it allows us to avoid being condescending in our conversations.  C.S. Lewis is not arguing that God gives partial credit. We either enter into heaven by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ or not at all. But someone who accepts that there is one God who created the universe who is good and that we are not good and must have our sin accounted for by some means is nearer the Gospel (conversationally) than an evolutionist who believes in the inherent goodness of people.

You may (rightly) say that my assumptions about other religions are too optimistic. You would be correct. Most other religions do not believe in everything I stated (one God, the goodness of God, Creation, sin, and some form of atonement). But if we find any of these elements in the belief system of a lost friend, we have a starting point of conversation that we do not have with the atheist. We can begin talking before we begin debating.

I think the main point C.S. Lewis was making was that Christianity gave him the ability to have honest, patient conversations. He did not have to “walk off the stage” (The View) or “fire” (Juan Williams) those with whom he disagreed as being unworthy of talking to or hearing from. In our current culture this has real appeal.

While we must be careful not to compromise the end of the conversation – after all Jesus did let the Rich Young Ruler walk away sad without altering Gospel (Mark 10:22) – we should not mistake the narrow road of entering God’s kingdom with harshness, defensiveness, or abbreviated conversations about the Gospel.

My Top 12 C.S. Lewis Posts of 2012

This posts takes a look back at my favorite posts from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis this year. The series is up to 125 posts, with 50 of those coming in 2012. Include the quote by C.S. Lewis under each title, if you want to read the reflection / devotion, you can click the link.

C.S. Lewis, Moral Compound Interest, and Spiritual Warfare

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible (p. 132).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Losing Faith

“Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away? (p. 141).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Savoring Temporal Pleasures

“I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage (p. 137).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on the Insult of Everything for Nothing

“If you like to put it that way, Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer. But the difficulty is to reach the point of recognizing that all we have done and can do is nothing. What we should have liked would be for God to count our good points and ignore our bad ones (p. 147).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Says, “Punt It”

“If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once. Do not bother about it at all… They are directions for dealing with particular crossroads and obstacles on the journey and they do not make sense until a man has reached those places. Whenever you find any statement in Christian writings which you can make nothing of, do not worry. Leave it alone (p. 144).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Sin’s Current

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down (p. 142).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

80’s Fashion Comeback, Old Theology, & Domestic Violence

“Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones—bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected. To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression—like believing the earth is flat (p. 155).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Theology as Experience and Map

“If a man once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real… The map is admittedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based upon what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map (p. 154).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Says, “Good Advice Is Over-Rated”

“We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because He is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow Him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, is it likely we are going to take the most advanced ones? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more will make no difference. (p. 156).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on a Community Vision for God

“God can show Himself as He really is only to real men. And that means not simply to men who are individually good, but to men who are united together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band, or organs in one body. Consequently, the one really adequate instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community, waiting for Him together (p. 165).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Bad Eggs

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad (p. 198-199).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on God-Fatigue

“What we mean by ‘being good’ is giving ourselves to those claims [which interfere with our desires]. Some of the things our ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call ‘wrong’: well, we must give them up. Other things, which the self did not want to do, turn out to be what we call ‘right’: well, we shall have to do them. But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, to get on with his own life and do what it likes. In fact, we are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on. But we are still taking our natural self as the starting point… In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, ‘live for others’ but always in a discontented, grumbling way  (p. 195-196).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

To see the first 100 posts in this series click here.