Archive for December, 2013

Tweets of the Week 12.31.13

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Four Major Church Resources from 2013

With a blog title like “A Blog from a Counselor for the Church,” one of my goals is to produce resources that benefit the local church — pastors, elders, counselors, deacons, small groups, and one another life. This year I think there were four large projects that did this in a unique way.

A Church Addresses Sexual Abuse: Preparation

On the weekend of May 18-19 The Summit Church (Durham, NC) addressed the subject of sexual abuse in all of our weekend services. This series is a reflection of those services, the preparation that went into them, and the aftercare that was provided. We do not propose to have done this weekend perfectly, although we worked diligently to conduct each aspect with excellence. Our hope is that the resources produced will allow other churches to address this needed subject and improve upon our efforts. This is a subject that addresses 20% of our church, community, and world (1 in 4 women; 1 in 6 men). The church cannot be silent.

 

“If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues that deal specifically with your time, you are not preaching the gospel at all.” Martin Luther

Leveraging Your Professional Workplace

God has placed you in your workplace for a reason — to be salt and light to those you serve and your colleagues. The role of the church is to equip you to leverage your skills and relationships to make the gospel known as you care for people.

This is why The Summit Church was excited to launch Bridgehaven Counseling Associates as an independent non-profit ministry to catalyze more opportunities for Christian professionals in Raleigh-Durham to be more missional in their workplace.

Sex and the Church: 10 Resources for Families & Churches

For too long the church has allowed culture to own the discussion of sex. God created sex and declared it good. When we distort sex, God can redeem our guilt (if we have sinned) or our shame (if we have been abused). In a culture that is obsessed with sex – any honest assessment of modern marketing would have to concede we’re obsessed – the church must engage the conversation of sex and sexuality.

At this link are ten resources that seek to address the subjects of sex and sexuality from a highly practical and thoroughly Scriptural world-view. Some are full-length seminars designed to launch pre-marital mentoring or recovery group ministries; others are as brief as a few minute introduction to important conversations with your children.

138 Counseling Reflections on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

It began with a playful Facebook question in June 2010, “Would anyone be interested in a series of blog posts on ‘A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis’?” The response was enthusiastic enough to persuade me to see where the idea led.

Those who know me well are doubtless laughing at my compulsive persistence. But has been an enjoyable exercise in slowly reading, reflecting on, and applying a classic Christian work. Here is the fruit of these three year’s worth of reflection.

My Favorite Blog Posts from 2013

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. What Is “Emotional Maturity”? — What does it mean to be “emotionally mature”? To some it would mean being stoic – having mastery of your emotions so that you felt only what you wanted to when you wanted to feel it. To others it would be sentimentality – feeling all there is to be felt in any moment to its fullest extent…
  2. Oxytocin: The Neurotransmitter of Love – What if you could squirt a little love potion up your nose and recapture that lost spark with your spouse (or anyone else who happened to walk by while you were snorting infatuation)?…
  3. Placebos: A Case Study in Faith – The neuro-psychologist found this to be odd because studies show that placebos work in 1/3 to 2/3 of cases of depression, pain, and even Parkinson’s disease cases. No other intervention with this degree of a “success” rate gets so little attention in medical circles…
  4. What You Don’t Need to Forgive –Not everything that bothers or annoys us needs to be forgiven. Forgiveness is only for moral offenses. When we try to use forgiveness as the method to resolve relational irritants that are not moral in nature several bad things happen…
  5. Transvaluation: A Side Effect of Resentment – It is more common to think of the side effects of medication or bad health choices than it is the side effects of sin. If you take a stimulant, then your thoughts are likely to race and you won’t sleep well. If you eat too much turkey at Thanksgiving, the opposite will happen: your mind will get droggy and you’ll take a long nap…
  6. Depression: Belief-Behavior and/or Body-Brain? – How can I know if my depression is primarily caused by a malfunctions in my body-brain or wrongs I’m committing in my beliefs-behaviors?…
  7. Is Personality Hereditary? – This is an interesting question; a question that anyone with multiple children has grappled with. How can my children so instinctively respond just like me or my spouse? But on the other hand, how can two children from the same parents be so different?…
  8. Special Trip IV: Keeping Rules and Relationship Balanced — One of the things I have found most satisfying as a parent is defining special occasions and major lessons with a memorable trip. This post is about our fourth “special trip” – this is now a technical term in our family referring to a trip I take with one or both of our boys to mark a special occasion or teach a particular lesson.
  9. The Big Question of Grief: Who Am I Now? – Where should we put grief? To what category of struggles does it belong? To what emotional or relational struggles is grief most akin?…
  10. The Role of Language in the Stigma of Mental Illness – If counseling is going to be effective, then it must use language that people can understand and readily use. However, if clinical depression (or some other clinical phrase) is going to mean something more than “I’m down,” then counseling needs a language it can define and protect from being confused by common usage. We can’t have both….
  11. 10 Step Progression for Restoring Broken Trust – The ten step progression provided below begins with a relationship at its most trust-broken point. Not all marriages that experience the betrayal of sexual sin will start at step one. As you read through this progression two key questions to ask are, “Where was I at the darkest point after learning of my spouse’s sin?” and “Where am I now?” The progress you have already made should be a source of encouragement for the journey ahead…
  12. Initiating and Declining Sex in Marriage – For many married couples initiating sex can be an awkward moment that leads to conflict or hurt feelings. They’re not sure what to say. They fear being rejected. They want sex to be “special” but most of the moments they’re both home together are “normal.” They don’t want to seem demanding. They want their spouse to “just know.” They don’t want to interrupt and their spouse is always doing something else. They’ve tried and been told their attempt was crude or unclear…
  13. Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Psychiatry — His father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a distinguished neurologist. In 1912, he moved the family to Berlin to become a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Berlin and the director of the psychiatric clinic at Charite Hospital…
  14. Simple Counsel; Complex Counseling – How hard can counseling be? Really, “healthy” doesn’t change that much. Honestly, 90% of counseling problems could probably be remedied with this prescription…
  15. Do We Pray to Our Sins? – What is so bad about sins of escape? After all, they provide relief from a stressful life and they don’t hurt anybody but ourselves (so we are prone to think). What is the big deal about finding solace in alcohol, pornography, or some mindless video game (I am not implying these are morally equal activities)? If they help me get done the other things that need to be done, why does God care?…

Which was your favorite?

Hambrick Family Christmas Letter 2013

Dear Friends,

I would talk about every year feeling shorter than the year before, but that would just make me sound old. But if I talk about the Christmas presents I’m anticipating that makes me sound immature. So I’ll skip the awkward introductory remarks and get to updating you on our family.

This has been a year when less was “new” and, instead, we have as a family and in ministry built on things that began in 2012.

Marshall is in first grade and, although he won’t admit it, really likes school. You can tell he feels “big” to get to do homework like his brother, although he still verbalizes a few complaints, also to be “like his big brother.” This winter he will play his first year of basketball and Lawson is excited that I’ve enlisted him to be my assistant coach (so long as he’s not a distraction).

Lawson is in third grade and the crown of his head now comes to Sallie’s chin. He’s filling out as a strong young man. The transition to his first year of kid pitch was quite an adventure for he and I. After taking a blistering fastball in the keister early in the season he remained brave and improved throughout the season. We took our annual “special trip;” this time sliding down a water fall and riding roller coasters (story and pictures here).

Sallie has continued to develop her home decorating business; between that and subbing at the boy’s school (which at this sweet age they still think is “cool,” even when she’s in their class), she is as busy as she wants to be. In just over two years she has just about gotten our distressed-seller-brink-of-foreclosure home to where she wants it to be. It has been amazing to see her vision and hard work come to life as she’s transformed the “haunted house” (how our neighbors referred to this place before we moved in) to a warm and inviting home.

Brad has officially resumed his Th.D. studies, which he put on hold for 8 years. This will allow for greater impact at Summit  by creating more synergy with his role at Southeastern. He published his third booklet (this one on burnout), completed the 5 part “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminar series, and recorded for the new GriefShare curriculum that will release in 2014.

Over the next year we would appreciate your prayers that we will (1) fully enjoy this sweet season when our boys are young and lay a good foundation for their future, (2) prioritize marriage and family during a very busy season of life and ministry, and (3) grow in our trust in God’s character and effectiveness at sharing His hope with others.

We want to thank you for your friendship and the unique role you have played in the life our family. Our prayer is that this Christmas you will experience the power, peace, and joy of Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23) – and have opportunity to multiply the experience of that hope by sharing it with others.

Merry Christmas!

The Hambrick Family

Tweets of the Week 12.24.13

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

And two because they’re funny…

Video: A Portrait of Christ-Honoring Purpose

The videos below is one part of the live presentation of the Finding Your Confidence, Identity, and Security in Christseminar. For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

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 counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Finding Your Confidence, Identity, & Security in Christ Part 3 from Equip on Vimeo.

Jesus: Teenage Counseling Prodigy

What would a counseling prodigy look like? Math prodigies race calculators in complex math problems at the age of seven. Athletic prodigies show coordination and intuition about game strategy at age four. Technology prodigies can make their parents VCR quit blinking “12:00” at age two (without shorting the circuits by pouring their soggy breakfast cereal in the flappy door).

In his presentation at the CCEF “Not Alone” conference, David Powlison drew attention to the teenage Jesus who demonstrated an astonishing knack for the skills of counseling even as a youth.

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:46-47, emphasis added)

The first thing we notice Jesus doing is sitting. At this young age he was already self-aware of his unique role to change the world (Luke 2:49) and he was with the religious leaders – those one might assume would be part of his work and we learn later would be his opposition. But he is not in a hurry.

Even as these leaders began to be impressed by him he does not get in a hurry (Luke 2:51). Jesus is willing to sit with those with whom he wants to have influence.

What does he do while he’s sitting? He listens. What does he do when it’s his turn in the conversation exchange? He asks questions. There is a great deal of honor being shown in these interactions. More than information is being gathered; rapport is being built.

Notice that there are two things that amazed people. The first thing that amazed them was his understanding; not his answers. There must have been a depth to the questions he asked and the way he contextualized people’s concerns that caused people see themselves and their situations in irreversible ways.

In light of this new understanding, simple answers could have profound impact. Why do I assume his actual answers were simple? Because I do not think teenage Jesus would have given more complex counsel than adult Jesus.

  • Deal with anger before it becomes rage by addressing the heart (Matt. 5:21-26)
  • Keep your word and if more than your “yes” is required you’re in trouble (Matt. 5:33-37)
  • Revenge never works, so love your enemies instead (Matt. 5:38-48)
  • Pray like God cares and not like you have to impress him (Matt. 6:5-13)
  • Invest in the things that last and your character will be transformed (Matt. 6:19-24)
  • Worry is a bad use of your time because it saps the present without changing the future (Matt. 6:25-34)

If Jesus were explaining the Trinity or the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, surely somebody would have been taking notes and we’d have clearer answers to those questions today.

It was the things that Jesus did before his answers that caused his counsel to “amaze” those who heard it. It was the things that Jesus did before his answers that made his counseling stick so that people would actually follow it.

We will never be the Son of God with ability to see into the hearts of those we counsel, whether it’s formal counseling by appointment or informal conversation with a friend. The effectiveness of our counsel will always, ultimately, be dependent upon whether our friend allows Christ to give him/her a new heart by embracing Christ’s death on the cross as their source of life and hope.

But there is much in this interaction of Jesus the teenage counseling prodigy that we can learn from and apply to our relationships to increase the impact we have on others in the midst of the hardships, struggles, and life transitions.

Prayer and Talking to My Children

Have you a conversation with a child lately? It’s great. There is passion over the oddest things. Strange phrases get strung together in precious ways. Subjects change on a whim. If you will take the time to listen, it is a great escape into another world.

Recently as I have had conversations with my children, I have tried to reflect on God listening to me in prayer. While I know I can’t be as cute, it has been a fruitful area of reflection.

At first I had to guard against using this perspective to trivialize my concerns. Protecting myself from viewing my prayers this way actually helped me become a better listener for my children. I realized I was asking God, who is infinitely greater than I am, to show concern to my troubles, which are minute compared to Him.

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Tweets of the Week 12.17.13

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Video: A Portrait of Christ-Honoring Identity

The videos below is one part of the live presentation of the Finding Your Confidence, Identity, and Security in Christseminar. For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

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 counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Finding Your Confidence, Identity, & Security in Christ Part 2 from Equip on Vimeo.