Archive for February, 2015

Next Week the “A Christian Approach to Difficult Emotions” Intensive Begins

What are the advantages of taking this course? There are some obvious benefits:

  • We all have emotions. A large part of loving God and loving others well involves managing our emotions well when they go awry.
  • The one-week format allows you see parallels in different emotional experiences and approaches to managing them well that would be easy to miss in a traditional 3-month semester.
  • The intensive format allows you to complete 3 credits hours in a short period of time.

There are other benefits which may not be so obvious.

  • Each emotion addressed (see schedule below) will be taught in a step-work format that provides you with a ministry tool to utilize instead of just concepts to master.
  • You will gain a robust picture of what it means to apply the gospel to sin, suffering, and identity components of our emotional experience.
  • College students in secular schools will be able to receive elective credits for something that is intensely nourishing to their faith and practical for their lives.


Monday, March 2 – Depression
Tuesday, March 3 – Anxiety
Wednesday, March 4 – Grief
Thursday, March 5 – Anger
Friday, March 6 – Identity in Christ

Time: 6:30 to 9:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, North Raleigh Campus
Address: 5808 Departure Drive; Raleigh, NC 27616
Cost: Free
Credit Available (learn more here)

Please remember everyone is welcome to attend all of our seminars for free. These credit are merely additional ways that you can benefit from these trainings. If you are only interested in one topic, it if fine to just attend one of the evening seminars.

For those interested in academic credit, several options are available through our collaboration with Southeastern Seminary (SEBTS).

  • Sample Syllabus for Certificate Credit – 2015_spr_bco0655_hambrick_syllabus
  • For questions about certificate credit please contact Eli Byrd at SEBTS at 919.761.2281.
  • Sample Graduate or Undergraduate Credit – 2015_spr_bco6551_hambrick_syllabus
  • For questions about graduate or undergraduate credit please contact Shannon Battles at SEBTS at 919.761.2280.
  • Note: Either syllabus is subject to revision, but gives a representation of the workload and expectations associated with each option.

Students from schools other than SEBTS can check with their school’s registrar office about how to transfer these credits. For those seeking to take this course for undergraduate credit, this form is needed to take a masters level course for undergraduate credits.

For those seeking certificate credit it is required that that you:

  • Attend  seminars on all 5 evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 pm
  • Complete the reading and writing assignments in the syllabus above
  • Note: The certificate is offered by SEBTS, not Summit, so their Registrar’s office would be the contact point for questions regarding the other courses necessary for this certificate.

For those seeking graduate or undergraduate credit it is required that you

  • Attend  seminars on all 5 evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 pm
  • Attend supplemental lectures each day from 1:00 to 5:00 pm
  • Listen to the supplemental lectures listed in the syllabus above
  • Complete the reading and writing assignments in the syllabus above

If you want certificate, undergraduate, or graduate credit there is a cost of $236 for each credit and a one-time application fee of $30. These fees are paid to SEBTS for enrollment and course credit. You would begin the process earning a certificate by applying for admission at SEBTS.

Please pass along this post to anyone you believe would be interested in these learning experiences.

My Favorite Posts on Abusive Relationships

The “My Favorite Posts” series on my blog is how I catalog posts I’ve written to help my readers find the material that is the best-fit for their interest or need. I hope this series creates a more user-friendly experience for my readers and allows this site to become a trusted resource hub for the church.

Seminar Resource


Blog Resources:

Recommended Books:

What You Don’t Need to Forgive: 3 Times We Often Use the “Right” Tool for the “Wrong” Situation

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.

  • We establish our preferences as the moral standard for our spouse – pride.
  • We begin to feel as if we forgive more than we are forgiven – self-righteousness.
  • We gain an increasingly negative view of our spouse – judgmental.
  • Our marriage begins to be built around an elaborate number of rules – performance-based acceptance.
  • We begin to feel as if God were asking too much of us – God-fatigue.

“What else is there?” we might ask. In What Did You Expect? Paul Tripp offers three categories of relational strain which do not call for a response of forgiveness (p. 94; bold text only). After describing what goes in each category, we will look at what kind of grace-based, constructive response is called for in each situation.

1. Human Weakness

Being clumsy, having struggles with a particular subject / aptitude, experiencing the limitation of a physical illness / injury, succumbing to the degenerative influence of aging, and similar experiences can negatively impact a marriage. These things can be annoying, fear-provoking, or upsetting, but they are not moral and, therefore, do not need to be forgiven.

The appropriate response to human weakness is compassion, patience, and assistance. A couple should be able to discuss the impact that each other’s weaknesses has on the other. Taking these conversations out of the “moral sphere” decreases the sense of shame commonly associated with our weaknesses. One of the most bonding aspects of marriage is creating a safe environment to acknowledge our weakness and be loved anyway.

A couple should also be able to discuss how they can support each other’s weaknesses. This is a big part of learning God’s design for marriage and will be expressed uniquely in each home. But not all weaknesses will be complemented by a spouse’s strength. In these cases we show our commitment to the marriage by allowing our affection for our spouse to trump our annoyance with their weaknesses.

2. Differences in Personality or Perspective

Being extroverted vs. introverted, optimistic vs. pessimistic, cautious vs. adventurous, concrete vs. abstract, and organized vs. fluid are all examples of difference in personality or perspective. These differences impact marriages in many ways, but they are not moral, and, therefore, do not need to be forgiven.

The appropriate response to differences in personality or perspective is appreciation, learning, and cooperation. Well-managed and humbly-discussed differences will be what provides a lifetime of enjoyment to your marriage. Pridefully condemning or demanding conformity will leave the two of you feeling defeated and rejected.

Because these are enduring qualities in your spouse which are likely different from your own, these differences are common sources of bitterness. Too often couples get caught trying to make each other “speak their language” rather than appreciating their differences. When this happens dating-attraction becomes marital-division.

3. Attempting to Do Something and Failing

As a couple gets to know each other’s weaknesses, personality, and perspectives, they will (or, at least, should) begin to attempt ways of “doing life together” that challenge and stretch both of them. Frequently these love-motivated efforts will fail (or, at least, not achieve the desired result). These moments may elicit a sense of disappointment or shame, but they are not moral, and, therefore, do not need to be forgiven.

The appropriate response to differences in these instances is affirmation and encouragement. Attempting to do a good thing and failing should still be viewed as a good thing. It is at least two steps ahead of attempting to do a bad thing and failing, and one step ahead of being passive.

Responding to these moments with an appreciation that borders on celebration is an essential part of creating a marital culture where both spouses feel free to take healthy relational risks (i.e., flirting in new ways, repenting, willingness to try things your spouse enjoys, etc…). When we allow these moments to get caught up in the moral language of forgiveness we stifle the relational freedom we should be fanning into flames.

Read Ephesians 4:1-3: In a gospel-centered marriage a primary motivation for each spouse is to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called [referring to salvation] (p. 1).” Paul tells us how we do this, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, being with one another in love (v. 2).” These actions and attitudes capture the essence of our response to marital annoyances and disappointments which do not warrant forgiveness. Paul tells us what the fruit of such actions will be – unity and peace (v. 3).

This material is an excerpt from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar.

Date: Saturday February 28, 2015
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

Tweets of the Week 2.24.15

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.

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

— Daniel Sangi Im (@danielsangi) February 16, 2015


‘Only the humble person will let God be God.’ –Dallas Willard

— John Ortberg (@johnortberg) February 16, 2015


On the days when I realize I can’t be everything to everyone, help me remember, God, that you have been all things for all men for all time.

— Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson) February 16, 2015


Grace and sin may be together but grace and the love of sin cannot – Thomas Watson

— Mwansa Ndemi Mbewe (@m6e5tr0) February 16, 2015


“Jesus’s example is not good news but a terrifying burden unless He is first of all the One who saves me from my inability to follow it.”

— Jonathan Edwards (@NotThePuritan) February 16, 2015


“All the stuff God made is good. Therefore, organize your life around Christ, and then go nuts.”@joe_rigney

— Reuben Huffman (@REHuffman6) February 18, 2015


“People hate change” is wrong conventional wisdom. They hate the loss change creates. Address the loss to ease change. (@johnwbryson)

— Darrin Patrick (@darrinpatrick) February 18, 2015


The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

— Thomas Merton (@thomasmerton) February 19, 2015


Want to be like Jesus? Focus less on trying to be like Jesus and more on being with him.

— Scott Sauls (@scottsauls) February 20, 2015

Living in 50 Shades of Grey: Sexuality, Culture and the Church (Videos Presentations)

On February 10, 2015 the Sam James Institute of The Summit Church hosted a forum on “Living in 50 Shades of Grey.” Our desire was to help Christians become more comfortable talking about sex and sexuality so that media industries like Hollywood and the internet do not have a monopoly on sex education in our culture.

We believe the church has a compelling message about love and sexuality that is superior to the dominant cultural themes of disposable relationships, objectification of people, and idolization of youth. We believe that the release of the movie 50 Shades of Grey was an important time to contrast what God offers with what is becoming popular in our culture. However, we also acknowledge that the church has not always done a good job of communicating God’s desire for sexuality.

Our goal in this forum was to do equip those who listen to these materials to become sexually mature Christians who can engage their culture winsomely and non-defensively on one of the most powerful subjects in our culture – sex. We sought to accomplish this goal with three teaching unity.

  1. 50 Things Your Need to Know about 50 Shades of Grey – An brief video that overviews the book and surrounding cultural phenomenon by Covenant Eyes.
  2. A Cultural Assessment of Sexuality Inside and Outside the Church – A presentation by Cindy Peterson, Director of Women’s Discipleship at The Summit Church
  3. Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy God’s Gift of Sex – A presenting by Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church

02.10.15 SJI Forum Living In 50 Shades of Gray – Cindy Peterson from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

02.10.15 SJI Forum Living In 50 Shades of Gray1 1 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Listening Guide for this Presentation: SJI – Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Gods Gift of Sex

Link to the larger “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy” seminar

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

4 Types of Arguments: Important Distinctions for Protecting Unity

“Fighting” is (or should most often be) too strong of a word, but defining the nature and significance of the disagreement is an essential (and often overlooked) part of healthy conflict. Accurately defining the nature and significance of a disagreement is a key part of ensuring that the disagreement is resolved at the early stages of the conflict progression described above.

The first question is, “What is the nature of our disagreement?” Frequently couples are having two different conversations about the same subject. When this happens, it is usually not long before they are talking about two different subjects and can’t remember what started the now argument in the first place.

There are four types of disagreements that a couple can have. We will discuss them in the order from most to least difficult to resolve. This will help us answer our second question, “How significant is our disagreement?” As you study the various types of differences consider how not identifying the type of disagreement you are having pushes a conversation to the more significant types of differences.

1. Factual Difference

When a couple does not agree on the facts related to their disagreement, an argument has degenerated to a point that trust has likely been compromised and neither person views the other as “being reasonable.” In these instances, a couple should begin (preferably with the assistance of a counselor, pastor, or mentor couple) with the question, “What relevant facts do we agree upon?” and move to the question, “What contributes to us disagreeing on the other relevant facts that must be either true or false?”

Facts are not something a couple can “agree to disagree on.” Couples can disagree on definitions, values, and policies. But disagreeing on facts is an implicit accusation that your spouse is either lying or crazy. There is not a third option when you disagree on facts, and trust is not given to a deceitful or irrational person.

At this level of disagreement it is important to differentiate between the actual facts you disagree upon and the implication of those facts (values and policies). Discussing implications before resolving the factual disagreements will reinforce the perception that you are in an unsafe conversation with an unsafe person. Arguing about implications also takes you further from the foundational point from which unity will be built.

2. Differences in Definitions

“Was what I said really disrespectful?… Did that action really communicate that I don’t love you?… When I did that I wasn’t trying to tell you we couldn’t have sex.” These kinds of statements reveal a difference of definition. A couple agrees on the facts (what was said or done), but does not agree on the meaning of those facts.

In these instances the couple should begin with the question, “Why did (or didn’t) that action/statement mean to you what it meant to me?” It shouldn’t be surprising that two people can interpret the same event/statement differently. But too often in marriage we are surprised (then offended) when our spouse doesn’t think like we do. We turn a moment of learning and honor into a moment of indignation and condemnation.

Sometimes differences of definition are innocent and simply require a time of learning to honor the uniqueness of your spouse. Other times differences of definition reveal selfishness or self-centeredness that should be resolved through repentance. However, until we humbly engage the kind of questions provided above, then a couple will argue based upon the assumption their spouse does or should see the event the same way they do.

3. Differences in Values

“Is A worth B? Is this amount of time worth that benefit? Is this level of sacrifice worth that outcome? Is this fun activity worth that cost?” This is the form a difference in value takes. In order to phrase the question this way a couple must agree upon facts and definitions.

These kinds of decisions often have significantly different implications for each spouse. That is why it is best to start these conversations with the question, “If we did A, how would B effect you?” Hearing each other answer this question is a vital part of protecting unity during a difficult decision. Even when “your option” is selected (assuming a third more mutual way cannot be found), it is imperative that your spouse knows you understand and give appropriate weight to how this decision effects him/her.

Like differences of definition, differences of value can be innocent or reveal selfishness. Again, it shouldn’t be surprising that we instinctively consider things from the perspective of our benefit and will frequently need to repent for the biasing effect this has on our values. One of the primary benefits of a gospel-centered marriage is that it creates an atmosphere of grace where we can be honest about this tendency without making excuses.

4. Policy Differences

Most disagreements end with an answer to the question, “What are we going to do?” or “How should we respond to having hurt one another (if the disagreement began with hurt feelings instead of a formal decision)?” It is important to see that these kinds of questions can only be effectively answered when there is agreement on facts, definitions, and values.

While on differences of definitions and values a couple may “agree to disagree” or “choose to see things from the other person’s perspective,” on differences of policy a couple will compromise (find a middle/third way), delay the decision (not always possible), or choose between available options. Having taken the time to understand the “differences of definition” will ensure that both partners feel understood. Being sympathetic towards the differences in values is a strong preventative from bitterness or becoming a “purely functional” couple.

In these decisions it is important to be balanced without being measured (i.e., score keeping). It would be an abuse of male headship to say that the husband always gets his way when agreement cannot be reached. It would be an abuse of servant leadership to say that the husband should always defer to his wife’s preference. Navigating these moments will be dealt with more thoroughly in “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Decision Making.”

A quick word on how to use these categories, don’t get too tedious. If you do, then marital conversations will begin to feel like business meetings. When you feel that you and your spouse are “not on the same page” work from the foundation (agreement on facts) to the top (agreement on policy). Identify the level where you do agree and then work toward the actual decision (i.e., policy).

Now we are ready to answer the second question is, “How significant is our disagreement?” Too often couples engage in their disagreement as if the issue were more important than the marriage. When this occurs a couple may agree on facts, definitions, values and policy yet the spouse who places more value on the subject still believes the other person “doesn’t get it.” This dynamic is common even outside of marriage.

“One of the things that Christians are disagreed about is the importance of their disagreements. When two Christians of different denominations start arguing, it is usually not long before one asks where such-and-such a point ‘really matters’ and the other replies: ‘Matters? Why it’s absolutely essential (p. x).’” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When a couple disagrees about the significance of a topic the most important thing is to establish that the issue is not more important than the marriage. A primary way to do this is through listening accompanied by touch. Rudeness (interrupting and rushing) are an indication that the issue is more important than the marriage. This is why listening is such a honoring-rich activity. Inviting your spouse to come close is another way to show the marriage takes precedence over the issue.

This material is an excerpt from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar.

Date: Saturday February 28, 2015
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

My Favorite Posts on Anxiety

The “My Favorite Posts” series on my blog is how I catalog posts I’ve written to help my readers find the material that is the best-fit for their interest or need. I hope this series creates a more user-friendly experience for my readers and allows this site to become a trusted resource hub for the church.

Seminar Resource:

On-Line Evaluation:

Blog Posts:

Recommended Books:

Online Grief Evaluation

This evaluation is a tool from the upcoming “Taking the Journey of Grief with Hope” seminar. For information about this and other counseling seminars visit

Click Here to Link to this Evaluation

This evaluation seeks to help you assess the presence and severity of the following experiences of grief.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Life Disruption
  • Health Impact
  • Identity Transition
  • Escapism
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Traumatic Impact

Tweets of the Week 2.17.15

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.

This week’s work isn’t about trying to redeem yourself of last week’s mistakes–because His love’s already perfectly redeemed you forever.

— Ann Voskamp (@AnnVoskamp) February 9, 2015


Fear isolates and causes the fearful to downsize their life to what they can control. – Julie Hansen #fear #control

— Rick Thomas (@RickThomasNet) February 9, 2015


The renewing of our minds is a process of believing more of what The Father says about us, than our wounds do.

— Josh Collins (@sixsteps268) February 9, 2015


“The most successful way to make someone worse is to continue demanding they get better.” -@birdchadlouis

— Daniel Emery Price (@danemeryprice) February 9, 2015


Growing in Grace 101: we are growing in grace when we seek to learn from everyone we meet rather than instruct everyone we meet.

— David Cassidy (@dpcassidyC3) February 10, 2015


Often when we lament our culture we’re telling God who sovereignly put us here “we deserve a better mission field than you gave us” @drmoore

— Jonathan Akin (@Jonathanakin) February 12, 2015


Power changes people from the outside. Influence changes people from the inside. @timkellernyc

— jonathanholmes (@jonathanholmes) February 13, 2015


The good news of our adoption in Christ is that God does not see us as merely pardoned criminals, but as His very own sons and daughters.

— Steve Childers (@stevechilders) February 14, 2015


“Anger toward those who oppose you is a sign of insecurity in your faith.” @jdgreear #BrokenSaviors

— Curtis Andrusko (@curtisandrusko) February 15, 2015


Everyone has temptations, but some people entertain them. Billy Graham

— Laura Krokos (@laurakrokos) February 15, 2015

Video: Overcoming Depression-Anxiety, A Responsibility Paradigm (Step 6)

Below is a videos from the presentation of “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit

The complementing studies  Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm and Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness will also available in a video format after their presentation

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).

“Making Room for Peace and Hope in My Life”
RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life.

Depression-Anxiety Responsibility Paradigm Step 6 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV), “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Seek first” – Is what you are seeking first producing peace, fear, or despair? We can judge a pursuit by its fruit.
  • “All these things” – Don’t succumb to thinking that you have to constantly remind God of what you’re facing.
  • “Do not be anxious” – Anxiety is “owning” responsibilities that belong to God or will only be yours in the future.
  • “Tomorrow will” – Punishing yourself over things you must do but can’t touch is useless self-torture.
  • “Sufficient for the day” – The only way to impact tomorrow positively is to live today well.

Teaching Notes

“There is no perfect way to climb out of a negative mindset or a toxic pit, but climbing you must (p. 58).” Leslie Vernick in Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy

“Act on the grace God gives you today, and wait confidently for the grace God will give you tomorrow (p. 20)…. Fear and anxiety always want more information. They think that knowledge is power. In response, your heavenly father confides in you [Scripture]… He is giving you what your fears and anxieties are asking for. He is giving you information about the future (p. 23).” Ed Welch in When I Am Afraid

“Freedom resolves the fear and anxiety associated with persecution and oppression, but it increases the fear of personal failure, which is one reason Soren Kierkegaard said that anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. With freedom comes more choices, which means more opportunities to get it wrong. Freedom or oppression – pick your poison. They both contribute to our fears and anxieties (p. 21).” Ed Welch in Running Scared

“Owners are the ones who do all the worrying; stewards simply listen to the owners desires and work to implement them. Owners are responsible for the outcome; stewards strive to be faithful (p. 133).” Ed Welch in Running Scared

“She must learn to handle the painful emotions that come with losses and disappointments in a different way, without falling into her habits of self-pity, resentment, or self-hatred (p. 24)…. For many of us busyness is an intentional way to avoid reality… Busyness always dulls awareness, which is why it’s one of Satan’s favorite ploys… One of the most important skills we must learn if we want to feel happier is how to take responsibility for our choices (p. 84).” Leslie Vernick in Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy

“The right kind of fear is a weapon powerful enough to overcome the wrong kinds of fear (p. 142).” Elyse Fitzpatrick and Laura Hendrickson in Will Medicine Stop the Pain?

“One problem with masks and walls is that, though their purpose is to protect you from hurt, they hurt you even more because they don’t allow relationships (p. 26).” Ed Welch in What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?

“When the thing we dread is upon us, we usually do well. Anticipation is the killer (p. 139).” Ed Welch in Running Scared