Video: Overcoming Codependency (Step Two)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Overcoming Codependency.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

“I’ve Been So Busy I Haven’t Been Paying Attention”
ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering.

Overcoming Codependency – Step 2 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.


Memorize: Luke 10:40-42 (ESV), “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Distracted with much serving” –Distracted already implies she wasn’t focused on what was most important.
  • “Lord, do you not care?” – Her over-involvement caused her to question and turn on everyone, even Jesus.
  • “Left me to serve alone” – In this case Mary (the other) chose the better option. That may not be the case in your life.
  • “Troubled about many things” – The implication is that Martha was troubled by things outside her control.
  • “One thing is necessary” – You are to honor God with your life; not control everyone else’s life to honor God.

Teaching Notes

“If you want to learn to act right when your spouse acts wrong, you will need to make a commitment to yourself never to pretend that things are fine when they are not (p. 81).” Leslie Vernick in How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong

“It’s not as much what we do as how and why we do it. Two people can engage in the same behavior in similar situations. One will be acting codependent; the other will be exhibiting healthy behavior (p. 50)… Sometimes one moment of awareness does more than months of hard work (p. 7).” Melody Beattie in The New Codependency

“Pain is no proof of a bad relationship or even a harmful one. There is no perfect relationship or perfect person (p. 25)… What makes these sinful interactions destructive is their repetitive patterns, as well as lack of awareness, lack of remorse, and lack of significant change (p. 28).” Leslie Vernick in The Emotionally Destructive Relationship

“This type of behavior, called ‘splitting’… is the rigid separation of positive and negative thoughts and feelings about oneself and others; that is, the inability to synthesize these feelings (p. 14).” Jerold Kreisman and Hal Straus in I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me

“Naming domestic abuse for what it is – and dealing with it as such – is important for this essential reason: the abuse usually gets worse. Infrequent episodes usually progress to more frequent ones. Less severe episodes usually progress to more severe ones (p. 23)… Abusive men often take the biblical text and distort it to support their right to abuse (p. 127).” Justin and Lindsey Holcomb in Is It My Fault?

“Acceptance does not mean approving, giving up, or detaching; it means recognizing things for what they are, no better but no worse (p. 94)… When we accept what is hard, we don’t make it harder than it is (p. 96)… Often what we call ‘the problem’ is really a pileup of problems that overwhelms us with its size and complexity when we regard it as one big thing (p. 150).” Foote, Wilkens, Koskane and Higgs in Beyond Addiction

“Sometimes people believe (incorrectly) that recovering from codependency means they have to get a divorce (p. 8)… My husband’s drinking didn’t create my codependency. I’d been doing the behaviors his drinking triggered – controlling, taking care of others and neglecting myself, repressing emotions, feeling victimized – most of my life (p. 20).” Melody Beattie in The New Codependency

“Our problem is that we need them (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God) (p. 19).” Ed Welch in When People Are Big and God Is Small

Sanctify of Life Sunday: Testimony & Resources

There may be nothing more painful and disruptive than the loss of a child. It is what makes it so hard to write, read, think, or talk about the subject of abortion.

You may be reading this post because you lost your child to abortion. Your pain is real, and we recognize the challenges of this healing process. We want you to know that we (The Summit Church) want to be a place of acceptance, hope, and healing for you. God forgives you. He loves you, and we love you. You do not have to carry guilt and shame any longer, or face the journey of healing alone.

We are grateful for the members of our church, like Becky, who have experienced grace and had the courage to share their stories so that: (a) people who have experienced abortion can have hope and (b) people who are considering abortion can better understand the pain it causes and consider a different choice.

Becky’s Story from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

You may be reading this post because you are burdened for the unborn. Your burden is good. We want members of our church to be burdened for all the marginalized lives, born and unborn, in our community and our world. This includes fighting well for the unborn and loving those who are considering or have already had an abortion. We want to advocate for the dignity of the image of God everywhere it is devalued.


The organization Hope After Abortion (Project Rachel) has put together several helpful articles.

The organization PATH also has resources for men who are wrestling with guilt after advocating that their wife or girlfriend have an abortion.

Biblical counselor, David Powlison, overviews the healing process after abortion in this 8 minute video.

Tim Challies helps us think through how to make the case for being pro-life most effectively in our current cultural context.

Here are several books, workbooks, or booklets you may find helpful.

Local Ministries

Here are some ministries in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area that either provide support for young women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy or counseling for women facing the emotional impact of an abortion.

Next Steps

The Summit Church wants to be a blessing to our city and an advocate for marginalized life wherever it exists. If you want to get more involved in one of these ministry initiatives, please look at the opportunities on our local outreach page.


Council of Counselors: Postpartrum Depression / Fostering Teens / PTSD & Sex / Budgetting Tool / Pastoral Referrals

This is a weekly post that highlights resources from other counselors that I have found helpful. The counselors may be from the biblical counseling, Christian psychology, integration, or secular counseling traditions. By linking to a post, I am not giving it my full endorsement, I am merely indicating that I believe it made a unique contribution or raised an important subject for consideration.

In the Valley of Postpartum Depression by Lindsey Carlson

While PPD is common, it often goes undiagnosed. According to new research out of Canada, postpartum women actually experience anxiety more than they experience symptoms we’d typically associate with depression. This was certainly the case for me. Because not every mother’s symptoms are the same, it can be easy to overlook or dismiss warning signs. According to the American Journal of Clinical Medicine, “the majority of undiagnosed cases are probably due to the social stigma of being labeled an ‘unhappy mother,’ not to mention the public image of PPD.”

  • If you are struggling with depression, regardless of its various causes, here is a resource that can help.

How to Help Church Members Who Take in a Rebellious Teen Relative by Linda Jacobs

Many times when a teen is out of control and the parent is not capable of caring for the child, a family member or other person is called in to help. If a state agency is called in and the agency workers determine a child must be removed from the home, they will usually try to find a relative to care for the child versus putting the child into foster care. When a relative can be found, kinship care, the term for when a relative provides care, is preferred by most state agencies… In this post I want to share some of his suggestions; some of the things I knew intuitively to do; and also some suggestions from a personal friend who was a teenage counselor.

For Veterans, Trauma Of War Can Persist In Struggles With Sexual Intimacy by Alisa Chang

Much has been said about the physical and psychological injuries of war, like traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. But what we talk about less is how these conditions affect the sexual relationships of service members after they return from combat.

Mint Budget Tracker: Leveraging Tech to Glorify God in the Home by Jeremy Lundmark

If you’ve ever written a budget, or been through a budgeting class like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or Crown Financial’s Money Map you already know how to write a budget. However, for most people it’s not writing a budget, but sticking to the budget, that is the hard part.

The Pastor and Counseling: When to Refer by Jesse Johnson

In fact, it is because they stress the priority of the local church so thoroughly that they are able to write with conviction on the counseling pastor’s dilemma: referring out. When should a pastor tell someone in their congregation with a spiritual problem that they would be better served by seeing a professional counselor outside of the church? Pierre and Reju offer four indicators of when a pastor should refer.

CCEF Now (PDF Magazine)

This edition contains articles on prison ministry, identifying oppression in marriage, and when a child says, “I don’t know.”

When I’m Reading

parentingParenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp. What is your calling as a parent?In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.

In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.

Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.

Tweet of the Week

Meaningful Meme


On the Lighter Side

Because, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22.


Video: Overcoming Codependency (Step One)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Overcoming Codependency.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

“I’m Tired of All the Drama… Exhausted!”
PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering.

Overcoming Codependency – Step 1 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: John 2:23-25 (ESV), “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “In Jerusalem at Passover” – Like you, Jesus made difficult relational decisions in real places and at specific times.
  • “Many believed” – Not every good thing that happened around Jesus was a sign for him to let his guard down.
  • “Did not entrust himself” – Jesus, who was perfect, did not trust everyone; he trusted wisely, not absolutely.
  • “Knew all people” – Part of Jesus’ hesitancy to trust was based upon his personal knowledge of who he was with.
  • “What was in man” – Part of Jesus’ hesitancy to trust was based upon the general human condition – sin.

Teaching Notes

“Isn’t that what we’ve been taught? If we do the right thing, then our marriage will get better (p. 8)… I find that Christians are often confused on what ‘dying to self’ really involves. Sometimes we act like martyrs within our marriages, suffering under all kinds of inappropriate and sometimes abusive behavior, thinking that this means dying to self. It is never wise or godly to sacrifice our self in order to give our spouse more license to sin (gamble, abuse drugs, abuse us or our children, etc.)… Dying to self means that we let go (or die to) our old, immature, and sinful ways and grow to become what God has made us to be – like him. Therefore, like him, we are called to sacrifice our lives for the good of another (p. 155).” Leslie Vernick in How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong

“People who are destructive should lose the privilege of your fellowship. That does not mean that you have to turn your back on the person in question. Step back while facing forward, inviting that person to change so that reconciliation may be possible (p. 167).” Leslie Vernick in The Emotionally Destructive Relationship

“Taking care of yourself is a skill you can’t afford to ignore (p. 10)… Your emotional resilience, physical health, social supports, and perspective on change can contribute to this. First, you will be setting an example. Second, you need internal resources to do what is most helpful for your loved one (p. 11)… Typically people experience a shrinking social support network as the problem takes over… We cannot overstate the importance of social support and enjoyment independent of the status of the substance problem you’re dealing with (p. 275).” Foote, Wilkens, Koskane and Higgs in Beyond Addiction

“Ultimately, whether or not your drinker achieves lasting sobriety, your journey with us will give you the skills and tools to enhance your own quality of life. Hence, in a best-case-scenario, the two of you will achieve peace together and worst-case-scenario is that you will have done everything possible and be able to move on and take care of your own life. In either case, your future looks brighter (p. 5).” Robert Meyers and Brenda Wolfe in Get Your Loved One Sober

“Codependency is about normal behaviors taken too far. It’s about crossing lines (p. 5)… Blaming ourselves is a survival skill. It helps us feel in control when life doesn’t make sense and being abused doesn’t make any sense at all… Controlling and taking care of others – the entire package of codependent behaviors – become survival tools, living skills that we think will keep us safe (p. 2).” Melody Beattie in The New Codependency

“I always warn my clients that even if their marriage fails and they no longer live with their spouse, they will always have to live with themselves. Therefore, it is crucial to their long-term well-being that they conduct themselves in such a way that they will have no regrets (p. 185).” Leslie Vernick in How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong

A New Year’s Time and Priority Audit

new-yearsThe start of a new year is when we think about how our lives could be different. That is a good exercise even if most New Year’s Resolutions never make it to Valentine’s Day. In this blog, I want to help you think through how you are stewarding the most valuable resource you have… the resource which makes every priority possible… time.

Time may be the only commodity for which there is universal fairness. We all get 24 hours per day, 168 hours per week, and 365 days per year. This is what we each receive to steward for the glory of God, the blessing of others, resulting in our personal enjoyment (in that God-prescribed order; Matthew: 22:37-40).

As we get started on our 2017 audit, I want to make two points and draw one contrast to prevent this blog from becoming a guilt trip (which, be honest, is what we all fear).

  1. God’s will fits in God’s provision. God is fair and does not expect more of you, your talents, your money, or your time than he has provided. If, like me, you have at least 200 hours worth of stuff you would like to get done every week, you can rest in the reality that at least 32 hours of those plans are outside the will of God; not because the plans are bad, but because God is fair. Your calling is simply to steward what God has provided.
  2. God is more honoring of our finitude than we are. Within that 168 hour week, God make one of his top ten commandments that we honor the Sabbath (taking a day of rest). When we feel run-ragged, we can rest assured (pun intended) that the cause is in our expectations, not God’s. God has not made burnout the noble “Purple Heart” of ministry. Said another way, if you’re not sleeping at least 50 hours a week, you’re probably violating the will of God for your life.

As for the contrast, we will make a distinction between the concepts of “generosity” and “sacrifice.” Usually we treat these words as synonyms, but when it comes to auditing our time and priorities it can be helpful to make a distinction.

  • Generosity – a sustainable way of life that takes more joy in blessing others with our time, energy, and resources than if we utilized them for our own preferences. We help cultivate generosity in those around us by being generous ourselves and by putting on display through our joy that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35).
  • Sacrifice – a short-term, unsustainable foregoing of time, energy, or resources to meet an urgent need. When we transition from generosity to sacrifice, we should consult with those who would be effected by our sacrifices (e.g., family) for at least three reasons: (a) guidance on the wisdom of our choice, (b) prevent resentment for how our choice impacts them, and (c) accountability not to persist in this unsustainable deficit for a time period that jeopardizes higher priorities.

A parallel to this generosity-sacrifice contrast in our physical health would be: generosity is like eating more vegetables and getting more exercise while sacrifice is like the spiritual discipline of fasting.

A Good Plan

With that said, let’s get to the actual audit. You need a plan. You will not budget your time well unless: (a) you know where your time is currently going, (b) you assess what priorities your current “time expenditures” reveal, and (c) you define what time allotments represent your desired priorities. Here is a four step process:

Step 1: Get used to using this tool by writing in the changes you would suggest to this friend if they came to you asking for advice on how to live within a realistic schedule (i.e., getting them under 168 hours per week of anticipated activity). As you do this, you will realize afresh that living within a realistic schedule means cutting some “good” things. Starting with a generic example should help you get ready to do this with your personal life.

Step 2: Complete a time budget based upon the time commitments that you are currently trying to fulfill. It may take three to four weeks of observing yourself before you are confident you have an accurate representation of what you’re trying to accomplish. But start by getting your best guess on paper and then revise it as you observe yourself through the next couple of weeks.

Step 3: Makes notes about where changes are needed and begin discussing them with family and friends who will be affected. If you try to make changes in your personal life without talking with those whose lives will be influenced, then you are setting up conflict.

Step 4: Put your revised and realistic time budget on paper. This is not a for-all-time document. If it lasts for six months, you will be fortunate. But having a working copy of where you are now will allow you to make effective changes as life evolves without having to use a formal process like this again.

More guidance on this time budgeting resource and avoiding burnout can be found at

Good Priorities

There is a danger to making a financial or time budget – it can stifle flexibility and generosity. Once we prayerfully make what we believe to be a “God honoring plan,” it is easy to believe that any deviation from that plan is, by definition, “not God honoring.” This takes us back into the trap of legalism – thinking we can please God by following rules.

A time budget gives us a starting place; it tells us what a “normal week” (whatever that is) should look like. However, a time budget cannot account for the unique opportunities that come into our lives on a regular basis. But, a time budget can keep us from shipwrecking our life chasing every unique opportunity that comes along.

What we need, along with our time audit, is a priority audit. What are those things that merit deviating from our “normal plan” in order to love God or love others in unanticipated ways?

Often this idea is thought of as “making margin.” But that concept can easily become too compartmentalized – “I will set aside two hours every Thursday evening to love God by serving others.” Then we wait for God to send a need our way that exists from 6 to 8pm on Thursdays.

A better approach would be to articulate and evaluate the priorities by which you choose to deviate from intended plans.

  • If I looked at when I changed my plans over the last month, what priorities would these points of flexibility reveal?
    • List each example of scheduling changes you can remember and the priority(s) it reveals.
  • If I look at my missed opportunities (i.e., regrets) over the last months, what priorities are revealed?
    • List examples of unwillingness to change your schedule and the priority(s) these decisions revealed.
  • What are the ways that I would like to see God use me (future tense) in the coming year?
    • List unexpected forms that these opportunities could come in; don’t get blinded to God’s plan by your narrow expectation of what it’s going to look like.
  • What are my favorite examples of how God used me (past tense) in unexpected ways?
    • List the fears or excuses that almost cost you these opportunities and the lessons you learned from embracing these opportunities.
  • Who are the people that know how I desired to be used by God and regularly ask me about these opportunities?
    • Hint: This should (at least) be your small group and weekend ministry team.
    • Practice: Invite your small group and Christian friends to ask you, “What was the best interruptions God brought into your life this week?” If we regularly get asked the question, we’ll start to consistently look for the answers.

One final point, don’t dread the result of this audit. God made you for a unique purpose (Ephesians 2:10). God designed you to fulfill this purpose (Psalm 139:14-16). You are going to feel most alive and fulfilled when you are doing the things God made and designed you to do.

Council of Counselors: New Years Parenting / Fostering FAQ / E.I. Husbands / Psychology Bias / Culture & Counseling

This is a weekly post that highlights resources from other counselors that I have found helpful. The counselors may be from the biblical counseling, Christian psychology, integration, or secular counseling traditions. By linking to a post, I am not giving it my full endorsement, I am merely indicating that I believe it made a unique contribution or raised an important subject for consideration.

Three Essential Things Parents Should Share with Their Kids on New Years Day by Bruce and Lauren Ashford

It’s beginning to look a lot like New Year’s everywhere we go, from the “Auld Lang Syne” music loop at the local coffee shop to the discounted post-Christmas merchandise at Kohl’s. We find ourselves preparing for New Year’s Eve dinners and parties, going to parades and city square celebrations, and looking forward to football games and finger food. In the midst of all this, many of us are trying to discern how to teach our children about why New Year’s matters. Let’s be honest, it feels easier to share the meaning of Christmas than it does New Year’s. If Christmas teaches the depths of God’s love and encourages our children to pass along that love to others through generosity and sacrificial giving, what does New Year’s Day teach? Fortunately, it provides the opportunity to expand upon the lessons Christmas teaches as we…

Fostering FAQ: What If I Get Attached and Then Lose the Child? by Ashley Gorman

Of all the questions about foster care, this one is numero uno. It’s the heartbreak question. The “how-do-you-do-that-when-you-know-you-could-lose-the-child” question. I feel especially soft toward this question, as our foster child (we call him Baby Boy on the internet for privacy reasons) just left our care after living with us for about two months. We had him. We loved him. And now he’s not living here anymore. I was his temporary mom. And then I wasn’t anymore. I’m living out this question right now, sitting here, typing on this couch.

Emotionally Intelligent Husbands Are Key to a Lasting Marriage by Kyle Benson

The husband who lacks emotional intelligence rejects his wife’s influence because he fears a loss of power. And because he is unwilling to accept influence, he will not be influential. The emotionally intelligent husband is interested in his wife’s emotions because he honors and respects her. While this man may not express his emotions in the same way his wife does, he will learn how to better connect with her.

Study: Psychology Textbooks Have PC Bias by Toni Airaksinen

“[P]sychology as a discipline leans heavily liberal,” Ferguson said. “I don’t mean that’s unfortunate in the sense it would be better to lean conservative, but simply that the intellectual diversity isn’t there. The result is endemic biases that inevitably reach down into textbooks and make them political statements, not always science texts.”

Understanding a Counselee’s Cultural Context for Wise Counseling (PDF) by Jonathan Holmes

I believe biblical counselors can and should use the world around us to bring scriptural truth to life. Sometimes I think we fear becoming integrationists in our counseling, so it leads us to a functional indifference when it comes to incorporating insights from the world into our counseling. Surely we can chart a course between integration and indifference. How do we rightly leverage the world we live in for use in counseling? I believe we can do so in a way that does not undermine the sufficiency of Scripture.

What I’m Reading

transgenderTransgender: Christian Compassion, Convictions and Wisdom for Today’s Big Questions by Vaughn Roberts. There’s been huge cultural change in the last few decades. Same-sex marriage would have been unthinkable 20 or 30 years ago. Now it’s almost universally accepted in the Western world. Now suddenly the issue of transgender is the next big social, cultural issue that has dominated the headlines.

Vaughan Roberts surveys the Christian worldview and seeks to apply these principles to the many complex questions surrounding gender identity. This short book gives an overview and a starting point for constructive discussion as we seek to live in a world with different values, and love, serve and relate to transgender people. Talking Points is a series of short books designed to help Christians think, talk and relate to others with compassion, conviction and wisdom about today’s big issues.

Tweet of the Week

Meaningful Meme


On the Lighter Side

Because, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22.






16 Top Biblical Counseling Books of 2016: Guest Post by Bob Kellemen

If you are a counselor, pastor, student, one-another minister, small group leader, or spiritual friend, you want to know the most helpful books about the personal ministry of the Word— using God’s Word for helping hurting people.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the top 16 books published in 2016 about biblical counseling or important to biblical counselors.

I’ve selected these books on the basis of their biblical depth, relevance to life, practicality for one-another ministry, faithfulness to the sufficiency of Scripture, application to progressive sanctification, and by surveying what leaders in the biblical counseling world are saying about them.

Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying and Divided Churches, by Brian Croft,Christian Focus

Biblical counseling is a discipleship ministry of the local church with a mission not simply to be a church with biblical counseling, but a church of biblical counseling. The biblical counseling vision is to saturate the entire congregation with confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture for daily life and ministry. Brian Croft shares that mission and vision. His book, Biblical Church Revitalization, is like engaging in a dozen biblical counseling sessions—for the whole congregation. Pastor Croft walks readers through the process of biblical church health—church progressive sanctification. Every church can benefit greatly from his wise biblical counsel for congregational renewal.

You can read a review of Biblical Church Revitalization by Erik Raymond here.

The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, by John Street and Janie Street, Harvest House

As the modern biblical counseling movement has matured, its resources have progressed from foundational materials for general counseling issues to in-depth materials for specific counseling needs. The husband and wife team of John and Janie Street model this development in their book The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women. They use real-life vignettes, biblical wisdom, and counseling principles to address 17 relevant issues that women commonly face. The embedded discussion questions make this book valuable not only for individual use, but also for small group interaction.

You can read a review of The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women by Jenny Bergren here.

Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship, by Paul Tautges, Shepherd Press

In Counseling One Another,Paul Tautges builds the theological underpinning for biblical counseling in a way that is both comprehensive and compassionate. This book demonstrates a staunch commitment to an expository, exegetical examination of counseling as presented in God’s Word. Any pastor or lay person wanting a foundational starting point for understanding Christ-centered, comprehensive, and compassionate biblical counseling in the local church would be wise to read and apply Counseling One Another.

You can read a review of Counseling One Another by Zack Ford here.

Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification, by Sinclair Ferguson,Banner of Truth

Glorifying God by becoming more like Christ is the heartbeat of biblical counseling. Sinclair Ferguson shares that passion. In Devoted to God, he offers a lifetime of biblical study as he exegetes 10 central biblical passages about progressive sanctification. His gospel-centered, relevant, practical, in-depth approach makes this an instant classic on the topic of growth in grace.

You can read a review of Devoted to God by Tim Challies here.

Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, by Mark Dever, Crossway

Mark Dever’s latest book, Discipling, is part of the Nine Marks Ministries series “Building Healthy Churches.” Like each book in the series, it is a succinct yet robust biblical exploration of local church ministry. Just as biblical counseling seeks to equip the entire congregation for one-another ministry, so Discipling aims to cultivate a discipleship mindset throughout the entire body of Christ. As the subtitle suggests, this book provides the how-to of congregational discipleship.

You can read a review of Discipling by Casey McCall here.

Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends, by Brad Hambrick, Cruciform Press

Brad Hambrick thinks deeply about complex life and ministry situations. That’s certainly the case in Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. He notes that most conversations about same-sex attraction have become polemical and political rather than pastoral and personal. His desire in this book is to be a resource God uses to grow His people into excellent ambassadors—friends to their classmates, colleagues, and family members who experience same-sex attraction.

You can read a review of Do Ask, Do Tell by Sam Allberry here.

The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience, by Jeremy Pierre, New Growth Press

The stereotype of the biblical counseling movement states that biblical counselors focus primarily on external behavior. Jeremy Pierre’s work, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, should put that perception to rest. Dr. Pierre presents a compassionate, comprehensive biblical understanding of people—image bearers who are spiritual, relational, social, rational, volitional, motivational, emotional, and physical beings. He examines every aspect of the heart in light of our coram Deo existence—we were designed as in-relationship-to-God beings. Pierre demonstrates how a biblical psychology (understanding of the soul) is essential for biblical counseling (bringing Christ’s redemptive hope to the whole person).

You can read a review of The Dynamic Heart by Theron St. John here.

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, by David Powlison, New Growth Press

David Powlison is a brilliant thinker. He also happens to be an extremely compassionate counselor. That combination is fully evidenced in Good and Angry. With winsome wisdom, Dr. Powlison enlightens us to the God-intended purpose of righteous anger and to Christ-redemptive hope for addressing unrighteous anger. This book is not just helpful for anger; it is a model for how we can take every aspect of our emotionality to the cross.

You can read a review of Good and Angry by Tim Challies here.

You can read a review of Good and Angry by Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition here.

Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Bethany House

Home, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, is not a journey-to-heaven-and-back tell-all memoir. Thankfully. Instead, it is a long-for-heaven-and-live-for-earth biblical narrative. We often hear, “that person is so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” Home encourages us to be so heavenly minded that we are of great earthly good. Even more than that, it invites us to sample a small taste now of the eternal banquet of relational satisfaction we will experience when we are forever home with our heavenly Father.

You can read a review of Home by Aimee Byrd here.

Marry Well, Marry Wisely: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation, by Ernie Baker, Shepherd Press

In Marry Well, Marry Wisely, Ernie Baker pens a pre-pre-martial manual. In doing so, he doesn’t simply equip us to answer the question, “How do I choose the right spouse?” More importantly, he prepares us to answer the heart question, “How do I become prepared to be the right spouse?” This blueprint establishes the firm groundwork of a Christ-centered and other-centered mindset that is essential for being a godly spouse.

You can read a review of Marry Well, Marry Wisely by Theron St. John here.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul Tripp, Crossway

Few things seem to drive us toward an external focus more than the challenges of parenting. Everything inside and around us screams, “Fix it fast!” In, Parenting, Paul Tripp directs us away from a “fix it” focus to a focus on love Him (God) and love your child (care for your child’s heart). Tripp moves us away from a works-based, pharisaical mindset to a grace-based, gospel attitude in our homes.

You can read a review of Parenting by Heidi Strawser here.

A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, by Heath Lambert, Zondervan

Of all 16 books on this list, A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert is the most important book for those wanting to understand the doctrinal basis of biblical counseling. Lambert, the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), explains that “Counseling is a theological discipline” (p. 11). Lambert models that truth in each chapter, as doctrine comes to life in real ministry to real people—dramatically demonstrating how theology intersects with the lives of actual counselees.

You can read a review of A Theology of Biblical Counseling by David Dunham here.

Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage, by Rob Green, New Growth Press

If Ernie Baker’s book (Marry Well, Marry Wisely) is a pre-pre-marital book, then Rob Green’s Tying the Knot covers the classical pre-marital topics. However, it does not cover them in the classical way—simply as relational skills to be mastered. Rather, this nine-session study directs couples through issues such as conflict, expectations, communication, finances, and intimacy—showing how couples can face each with Christ at the center of their marriage.

You can read a review of Tying the Knot by Tim Challies here.

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Matthias Media

The Vine Project by co-authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne is the sequel to The Trellis and the Vine. In the prequel, Marshall and Payne cast the vision for an Ephesians 4:11-16 view of pastors as equippers. In The Vine Project, they put feet to that vision by providing practical insight into the local church disciple-making process.

You can read a review of The Vine Project by Kevin Halloranhere.

Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God, by Tim Challies and Josh Byers, Zondervan

As a long-time follower of Tim Challies’ blog, I enjoyed the foundational material that eventually developed into Visual Theology. In the able hands of Challies and Josh Byers, those blog posts translate extremely well into book form. Visual Theology is powerful because it aligns with how God communicates in His Word, how Christ taught people, and how God designed our minds to think—visually, with imagination, in pictures and images. Biblical counselors can learn much from this book about communicating truths not only in words, but also in images and illustrations, especially to this visually-oriented generation.

You can read a review of Visual Theology by Aaron Armstrong here.

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), by Nancy Guthrie, Crossway

Nancy Guthrie is one of the foremost Christian writers on loss, grief, hope, and healing. What Grieving People Wish You Knew is the fruit of a lifetime of sharing the comfort she has received from Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Her narrative reads like a biblical counseling training manual for gospel conversations for suffering. Pastors, counselors, and spiritual friends can all learn much from her biblically compassionate writing.

You can read a review of What Grieving People Wish You Knew by Rachel Hurst here.


Dr. Robert W. Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D.: Bob is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling and Equipping Department at Crossroads Bible College, and the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. Bob was the founding Executive Director of theBiblical Counseling Coalition. For seventeen years he served as the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-six years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and three granddaughters, Naomi, Penelope, and Phoebe. Dr. Kellemen is the author of thirteen books including Gospel-Centered Counseling.

My Top 10 Blog Posts from 2016

This posts takes a look back at my favorite posts from this year. These are the posts, that as I reviewed through my archives, I remembered most clearly. It may be the memory that inspired the post or the conversations that ensued afterwards, but either way these are the ones that stood out to me.

  1. 7 Ways to Keep Your Wife Beautiful for Life
  2. 240 Marriage Communication Topics
  3. Counseling Triage: Where to Begin with Complex Struggles (Expanded Post)
  4. Why We Should Always Teach Romans 12 with Romans 13
  5. Posts related to my book Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk (available here)
  6. An Open Letter to Someone Having an Affair
  7. Comparing Pastoral Ethics and Counseling Ethics
  8. Posts on my experience as a father
  9. How to Conduct an Effective Intervention
  10. Four Principles for Thinking Well about Boundaries

Council of Counselors: Parenting Teens / 2017 Marriage Check-Up / Don’t Say That / Family Devotions in 2017 / Child Abuse in the Church

This is a weekly post that highlights resources from other counselors that I have found helpful. The counselors may be from the biblical counseling, Christian psychology, integration, or secular counseling traditions. By linking to a post, I am not giving it my full endorsement, I am merely indicating that I believe it made a unique contribution or raised an important subject for consideration.

What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents by Lisa Damour

Many parents feel that their adolescents hardly need them anymore. Teenagers often come and go on their own schedules, sometimes rebuff our friendly questions about their days, and can give the impression that interacting with the family is an imposition that comes at the cost of connecting, digitally or otherwise, with friends.

So here’s a complaint one might not expect to hear from teenagers: They wish their parents were around more often.

An End-of-Year Marriage Check Up b Kevin DeYoung

Here are 15 questions to help you and your spouse take the relational temperature of your marriage.

What Not to Say to Your Wife During an Argument by BJ Foster

Finally, I said something regrettably cutting, hurtful, and humiliating towards her. What I said is unimportant, but immediately after saying it, I wanted to grab it all back. The worst part about it was that before I said it, I thought about it, calculated its impact, and even then, I still said it. I cared more about winning than I did about her at that moment. Thinking about her running out of the room crying still makes my stomach sink.

10 Ideas and 10 Tips for Family Devotions in 2017 by Tim Challies

With a new year dawning, many Christian families will resolve to approach family devotions with greater faithfulness in the year ahead, or perhaps even to begin family devotions for the first time. These are great resolutions! Here are 10 ideas and 10 tips that may help.

Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sexual Abuse In Your Church by Thom Rainer

As we approach a new year, I plead with church leaders to do all they can do to minimize this risk. It is definitely important for the health of the church. But, even more, we need to do everything we can for the safety and care of the children. It’s first about them.

  • Here is a plan to help a church respond well if abuse does occur.
  • In the “What I’m Reading” section I will recommend a book from Deepak Reju to provide more guidance on this subject.

What I’m Reading

rejuOn Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju. In On Guard, Deepak Reju examines why child predators target churches and offers eleven straightforward strategies to protect children from abuse and to help young victims recover if it does happen. While On Guard does provide practical help for building a child protection policy, it provides much more. Full of pastoral wisdom, On Guard recognizes that the church s response to abuse must be more comprehensive in line with her calling than a simple legal policy or clinical analysis. On Guardmoves church staff and leaders beyond fearful awareness to prayerful preparedness with an actionable plan.

Church, be on guard! Child abuse can happen anywhere, and we need a plan for how to prevent and respond to it. What s yours?

Tweet of the Week

Meaningful Meme


On the Lighter Side

Because, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22.

Confession: As a UK fan who buys into the rivalry with Duke, I found the caption to this GIF particularly amusing.

Christmas at DPAC 2016

The Summit Worship team did another phenomenal job putting together the Christmas at DPAC services this year. If you missed it, I would highly encourage you to take some time this week and enjoy the video recording of the service.

Merry Christmas!