Archive for February, 2014

Free Comprehensive Gospel-Centered Pre-Marital Mentoring Program

Welcome to the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” pre-marital mentoring page. We want this page to provide everything you need to provide every engaged couple in your church with a mentor couple who can walk them through a comprehensive pre-marital program. We also want to see the experienced marriages in your church enriched as they invest in engaged couples who are just beginning their marital journey.

In this 3 minute video I orient you to the ministry model and content you’ll find below.

If you want the complete training we provide to our mentors, we have included that video next. Here is the training notebook that is referenced in this training (GCM Mentor Training). Feel free to use this training video for mentors at your church until you have an experienced mentor prepared to lead a comparable training.

Here is the single page job description we provide to mentors to overview their responsibilities (Job Description — GCM Mentor) and how to utilize the materials found below.

Pre-Marital Mentor Training from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

After completing this much of the training, you should be equipped to utilize the resources below as a pre-marital mentor. Mentoring is meant to be a cooperative learning experience. The relational strengths and weaknesses of each engaged couple, as revealed by the evaluations for each seminar, will take each mentoring relationship on a slightly different path. Learning the new story of each engaged couple and taking slightly different emphases in each of the five key areas is meant to keep mentoring fresh for the experienced couples investing in this ministry.

Here are a few other preface resources you may be interested in reviewing.

  • Mentor Page – this is the page where we update FAQ’s from mentors and provide other tools our mentors would need.
  • Engaged Couple Page – this is the page where we direct our engaged couples to get what they need for each meeting with their mentor.
  • Why Mentoring for Pre-Marital Counseling? – this is 7 minute video where I describe why we chose mentoring as our pre-marital model.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebooks for each of these seminars. 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).

First Meeting: Getting to Know Each Other

As you prepare for your first meeting with your mentors this 3 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

***Note: For the first meeting each of you will also need to complete these three on-line evaluations. Please e-mail the results to your mentors as instructed when you complete each evaluation. At the end of this first meeting you and your mentors will decide which of these subjects to focus on in your second meeting.

Once you decide with your mentors which portion of this materials you will focus on, you can watch those portions of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” videos here (if a live presentation does not correspond with when you’re at this point).

Second Meeting: Foundations

As you prepare for your second meeting with your mentors this 4 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

Each of you will need to complete these three evaluations. You will review them with your mentors at the end of this meeting to identify your main subject for meeting three.

Once you decide with your mentors which portion of this materials you will focus on, you can watch those portions of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” videos here (if a live presentation does not correspond with when you’re at this point).

Third Meeting: Communication

As you prepare for your third meeting with your mentors this 3 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

Each of you will need to complete these three evaluations. You will review them with your mentors at the end of this meeting to identify your main subject for meeting four.

Once you decide with your mentors which portion of this materials you will focus on, you can watch those portions of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Finances” videos here (if a live presentation does not correspond with when you’re at this point).

Fourth Meeting: Finances

As you prepare for your fourth meeting with your mentors this 3 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

Each of you will need to complete these three evaluations. You will review them with your mentors at the end of this meeting to identify your main subject for meeting five.

Once you decide with your mentors which portion of this materials you will focus on, you can watch those portions of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Decision Making” videos here (if a live presentation does not correspond with when you’re at this point).

Fifth Meeting: Decision Making

As you prepare for your fifth meeting with your mentors this 3 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

You will need to complete these three evaluations. You will review them with your mentors at the end of this meeting to identify your main subject for meeting six.

Once you decide with your mentors which portion of this materials you will focus on, you can watch those portions of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” videos here (if a live presentation does not correspond with when you’re at this point).

Sixth Meeting: Intimacy

As you prepare for your sixth meeting with your mentors this 3 minute video will help you know what to expect and how to prepare.

Here is a letter where we recommend what things to focus on how that you’ve completed the structured part of our mentoring program – PFM Completion Letter.

What Now?

At your sixth meeting, you and your mentor couple will discuss how and when you’ll get together. Stay connected with your mentor couple. By now you know they volunteered for this ministry because they want to be a blessing to young couples like you guys. Allow them to be the blessing God has called them to be.

In your small group (click here if you are not in one), you can go through any of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars. This is a great way to get the material you didn’t cover with your mentors and to reinforce these important principles during the formative first months/years of your marriage.

If you need additional counseling assistance, please look at the various services we provides here.

Overview – GCM: Decision Making // Preparing Couples to Function as One

Trying to learn how to make decisions, as an individual or as a couple, can feel a bit like trying to learn how to breathe. It seems like something that has to be natural in order to be effective. If we had to think about breathing, then we’d fear getting distracted and suffocating. When we think about being intentional in our decision making it can quickly feel like such an effort would take over our lives.

There is good deal of merit to this concern. If we tried to bring overt thought and prescribe processes to every individual or marital decision in order to ensure that we arrived at the will of God, then our lives would be paralyzed. We would live in fear or fail to complete a large number of tasks that life requires.

But we’ve all been burned by the alternative. After a bad decision we put on our “20/20 Hindsight Glasses” and see how greater intentionality could have alleviated the unpleasant outcome. We begin to think it would be “worth it” to run our decisions through some kind of process. But it’s hard to determine what level of decision warrants this process (where’s “the line”?) and what kind of process to use for each decision.

These challenges emerge before we introduce the difficulty of two-party decision making required in marriage. It is hard enough to answer these questions as an individual, but they are multiplied when married couples must both agree (mental consent) and cooperate (logistical follow through) on decisions.

These are the challenges we are tackling in this seminar. In order to address these challenges, we will divide decision making into three arenas. Too often, couples try to force all decision making to fit into one or two of these arenas. They may do this for convenience (but simple becomes simplistic) or conviction (emphasizing some part of what Scripture teaches to the neglect of other parts). Either way, their life lacks balance and begins to show the corresponding wear-and-tear.

1. Personal Decision Making (Disciple; Eph. 5:15-17): The foundation of a healthy couple is two individuals committed to wise personal decision making. We must be a faithful disciple of Christ before we will be a good husband/wife to our spouse. It is neither possible nor advisable for a couple to consult each other on every decision they make. Shared values, agreed upon life structures (i.e., calendar and budget), and appreciation for what is important to each other comprise the foundation of personal decision making that will bless a marriage. We will discuss how to approach personal decision making in chapters two and three.

2. Consensus Decision Making (Friends; Eph. 5:21): Another large portion of marital decisions will be made as friends through the process of consensus. This is how two individuals begin to shape “our life” together that represents the new “we” more than the individual “me’s.” As a couple grows in their knowledge and sacrifice for another, this arena of decision making should become the significant majority of their shared decision making. Consensus should be the default approach to decision making throughout marriage. How to approach consensus decision making will be discussed in chapter four.

3. Corporate Decision Making (Headship-Submission; Eph. 5:22-31): Not all decisions can be made through consensus. Couples will not agree on every decision. Some decisions do not allow for a “middle ground” because of limited options. How and when to engage the headship-submission style of decision making will be discussed in chapter five. But a brief preface will be made here. The fact that God gives husbands the role of headship in these kinds of decisions does not mean the husband must/should choose his preference in each instance. While the final call does belong to the husband, it is an unwise husband who always calls his own number.

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: DECISION MAKING
Date Part One: Saturday March 22
Date Part Two: Saturday March 29
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Tweets of the Week 2.25.14

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.

10 Keys to Ensure Caring Is Helping: Benevolence Without Enablement

When we care for one another wisely three things should happen: (a) the person being cared for should be blessed, (b) the love of Christ should become more tangible, and (c) our faith should grow.

Sometimes our attempts at caring can be done unwisely, resulting in unintended consequences: (a) the person being cared for is enabled, (b) the love of Christ is misrepresented, and (c) the care-giver becomes exhausted.

On this page we want to provide principles of wise care-giving to ensure that our benevolence is wise, Christ-honoring care that mutually blesses the recipient and giver of care.

  1. Avoid the rescuer mentality. When you begin to bear the weight of responsibility for someone else’s life unwise decisions always follow. Your role is to come alongside an individual or family to do what is within your power to assist them; not rescue them from things outside your control.
  2. Do not replace the legal system. If something illegal happens, either to or by the person you are helping, your first responsibility is to report that to the appropriate legal authority. The church is called to submit to and assist with the implementation of the laws of the government over us (Rom. 13:1-7).
  3. Know your role within the church. The call to be “all things to all people” (I Cor. 9:22) is given to the church at large and not any one individual or group within a church. Trying to “be the church” rather than effectively play your role within the church will result in personal burnout and people getting hurt.
  4. Never do what someone can/should do for themselves. This is the tell-tale sign that assistance is becoming enablement. If a task is hard or confusing, then find a way that helps (i.e., explain, go with, research, encourage, remove obstacles, etc…) without replacing the effort of your friend.
  5. Create “halfway” steps. When helping does require doing something for or giving money to your friend, then it is wise to create a clear halfway step to ensure your friend is willing to be a good steward of your kindness. A question to help you find a halfway step is, “What would my friend have to begin to do in order for my kindness not to evaporate in life’s stress?” This principle ensures that your kindness leads your friend to freedom instead of a new, unhealthy dependence upon you or your group.
  6. Model a healthy life and relationship. Making exceptions to “healthy” is what gets most people into a crisis. Modeling how to deal with difficult situations without violating the basic principles of “healthy” is often as important as any of the logistical or financial assistance you provide.
  7. Know your physical, emotional, and financial limits. Creating a second crisis does not help the first one. Scripture calls us to be generous “as we are able” (Deut. 16:17). When we go beyond this, we model a reactive approach to crises that fails to disciple those we are helping in how to make wise decisions in hard times.
  8. Never allow “team splitting” to occur. Talking negatively of one person in order to affirm and get more from another should be directly and immediately confronted as wrong. It is a form of manipulation disguised as a compliment and tries to get one party to do more because another is doing less.
  9. Do not allow yourself to be motivated-manipulated by guilt. Guilt is motivational junk food; it gives short boosts of energy followed by long periods of fatigue. When you feel yourself being motivated by guilt (internally or externally) talk with your ministry support person in order to prevent burnout.
  10. If you’re not sure, ask your ministry support person. Helping never means having all the answers, or even always knowing the next question to ask. When you feel stuck or trapped in a helping situation, ask for help. This is allowing the church to be the Body of Christ to you as you strive to be part of the Body of Christ for someone else.

Online Gospel-Centered Marriage Evaluation: Sexual Intimacy In Marriage

This evaluation is meant to correlate with chapters four and five of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” seminar. For the next live presentation of this and similar materials, please visit www.bridgehavencounseling.org/events.

Click Here To Begin Evaluation 

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

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).

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

Online Gospel-Centered Marriage Evaluation: Living In THE Love Story

This evaluation is meant to correlate with chapter three of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” seminar. For the next live presentation of this and similar materials, please visit www.bridgehavencounseling.org/events.

Click Here To Begin Evaluation 

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

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).

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

Online Gospel-Centered Marriage Evaluation: Differences In Giving-Receiving Love

This evaluation is meant to correlate with chapters one and two of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” seminar. For the next live presentation of this and similar materials, please visit www.bridgehavencounseling.org/events.

Click Here To Begin Evaluation

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

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).

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

Emotions and Forgiveness: Instructions for a Confusing Intersection

So what does forgiveness mean you are committing to do with your hurt, fears, other emotions and imagination? The last section covered the interpersonal commitments of forgiveness and explains how forgiveness was designed to restore relationships after moral offenses. But what about the personal well-being and peace of mind of the forgiver, doesn’t forgiveness have benefits for the forgiver as well?

Yes, it does. No, it’s not necessarily selfish to ask. However, if we demand the benefits of forgiveness before we take the risk of forgiveness, we become trapped at the crucial point. In effect, we would be demanding to see the fireworks before we light the fuse. All of that to say, if you want this section to “convince you” to forgive, you will most likely be disappointed. But if you want to understand how forgiveness positively impacts your emotions (even in difficult cases), then you should find encouragement in this section.

In the section below we will trace the seven phase journey of forgiveness that is traveled by the one forgiving.

1. The context of forgiveness is always hurt. Forgiveness never begins as a pleasant experience. The emotions of pre-forgiveness are always raw. We never think this is a “good time” for us to need to forgive. The person we need to forgive is always the person who just sinned against us. We should never minimize the painful context in which forgiveness is granted.

2. Hurt is an experience that does not remove itself. Time does not heal moral offenses. If time heals an offense, then it was likely not one that merited forgiveness. We begin to feel trapped in the emotional bind; either we will forgive (which is “not fair”) or we will continually carry the weight of bitterness and mistrust. It feels like life is taking the side of our offender.

“Bad things tend to happen when you give offenses time to marinate in your heart (p. 158).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?

3. Justice does not erase history (or emotion). Neither consequences nor punishment provide the relief that we hope they would. Our offender loses the benefit of his/her offense and may learn valuable lessons, but these do not provide restitution to us. Even if we are rightfully given something as compensation for the offense, its value either seems to trifle the offense or come across as penance. Justice doesn’t satisfy.

4. Repentance does not erase history (some emotion). Repentance is much better than justice at resolving the emotional pain of an offense. It now feels like apples are being traded for apples; prideful, self-centered response of sin for humbled, other-minded response of confession. But there is no sense of guarantee or control that would provide assurance that future pain could be avoided, so some emotional turmoil remains.

5. Forgiveness means something must die. We begin to realize exactly how devastating sin really is. Nothing short of death will stop it. Without being overly dramatic, we clearly see that something will die—love, trust, hope, a dream, dignity, respect… or Christ in their/our place. The only way to escape this maze of moral offense without losing someone or something we love is with a substitute.

6. We chose who/what to send to the cross. We begin to realize that the words “I forgive you” can be translated, “I apply Christ to your account. His death satisfies what your offense deserves in a way nothing else can… even my anger or revenge. I see in our relationship a picture of my attempt to be reconciled to God. My actions created a hopeless situation until Christ took my place so in our relationship I will allow Him to take your place.”

7. We are reminded of peace greater than our pain. In this memory, we find that forgiveness is not an action or a choice, but a dramatization or re-enactment of the gospel. As we experience the gospel in the emotional freshness (bad and good) of this experience, we are reminded of our journey from death to life (Eph. 2:1-10). We get another taste of hopelessness turned to victory and we remember (because life had distracted us) that our ultimate security and emotional safety is in Christ, not circumstances. This fresh realization places the offense back in its appropriate perspective; without minimizing the offense, it is swallowed up in the greatness of the gospel.

At this point in the chapter it should become clear that forgiveness does not add to anything that wisdom would not already advise if such an offer of grace from God were real. Our hesitancy to forgive (when we rightly understand what forgiveness means) is not a resistance to dangerous folly, but a doubt in or minimizing of God’s abundant grace to us.

Bitterness is a form of meditation, but on hurt instead of the gospel. When we allow the hurts of our spouse to walk us through the journey of processing the emotions associated with forgiveness, then “the meditations of our hearts” (Psalm 19:14) center on the gospel and point us to hope instead of doubt or dissatisfaction.

This resource was taken from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Emotions” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Forgiveness” post which address other facets of this subject.

Tweets of the Week 2.18.14

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.

Online Gospel-Centered Marriage Evaluation: Headship-Submission Decision Making

This evaluation is meant to correlate with chapter five of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Decision Making” seminar. For the next live presentation of this and similar materials, please visit www.bridgehavencounseling.org/events.

Click Here To Begin Evaluation

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

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).

For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.