Archive for January, 2016

My Favorite Posts on Communication

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.

Video Resources

Evaluations

Blog Posts

Recommended Books

Tweets of the Week 1.27.16

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: Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food (Step Four)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food.” 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).

 “God, You are More Satisfying than Being Thin”
REPENT TO GOD for how my sin replaced and misrepresented Him.

Ganing A Healthy Relationship With Food — Step 4 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: Acts 3:19-20 (ESV), “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Repent… turn back” – The core meaning of “repent” is not “feel very bad” but “make a U-turn” back to God.
  • “Blotted out” – God has no intention of shaming you with your sin. Instead, he wants to free you from false idols.
  • “Times of refreshing” – Our anticipation of repentance should feel like the longing for a refreshing bath.
  • “The presence of the Lord” – Repentance is what reconnects us with the source of our strength and hope.
  • “May send the Christ” – Repentance unlocks the door of our life to unleash the return of the hero, Christ.

Teaching Notes

“So I go to war against gluttony and indulgence, not because I want God to love me more, but because God, who already loves me perfectly, warns me that gluttony and excess are my enemies– regardless of how good they may sometimes feel. I go to war against gluttony, not to build a body that others admire, but to maintain a soul ‘prepared to do any good work’ that God can use to bless others (p. 88).” Gary Thomas in Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul

“I had to, in short, practice being loved by God (p. 176).” Sheryle Cruse in Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder

“As long as you believe that changing something on your outside will solve the problem on the inside, the deeper issues will stay hidden and unresolved (p. 109)… You need to turn to someone who offers a better relationship than the one you have with your eating disorder (p. 191).” Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

“Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can’t name; a connection to what is beyond the daily concerns of life. Something deathless, something sacred. But replacing the hunger for divine connection with Double Stuffed Oreos is like giving a glass of sand to a person dying of thirst. It creates more thirst, more panic. Combine the butter and efficacy of dieting with the lack of spiritual awareness and we have generations of mad, ravenous, self-loathing women (p. 219).” Geneen Roth in Women, Food, and God as quoted in Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

“Positive guilt is the sense of shame that we feel when we are stepping outside the bounds of what is familiar, when we are breaking the old rules… Positive guilt is guilt we feel when we are breaking rules that need to be broken (p. 99).” Jenni Schaeffer in Life Without Ed

“Repentance is also required and that the client, through spiritual pride, has concluded, ‘I must handle life on my own. I cannot trust God nor will I be dependent on him. I must take control.’ This position, born out of pain, confronts the reality that control is elusive… Belief in self-sufficiency ends in continual striving. Anorexia is a misguided attempt to be self-sufficient; bulimia utilizes self-striving in an effort to gain control (p. 324-325).” Linda Mintle in “Eating Disorders” in Caring for People God’s Way edited by Tim Clinton, et al

My Favorite Posts on Theology and Counseling

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.

Blog Posts:

Assessment Tools:

The six evaluations below (each 30 questions and self-scoring) are meant to be tools you can use to assess your Christian walk and understanding in each of the six key areas identified by The Gospel Wheel.

Book Recommendations:

Video: Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food (Step Three)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food.” 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).

“Why Did Meals Become the Battle of My Soul?”
UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my disordered eating.

Ganing A Healthy Relationship With Food — Step 3 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Resource: Disordered Eating Journaling Tool

Memorize: I Corinthians 10:31 (ESV), “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “So” – Paul is adjudicating a debate over whether to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols.
  • “Whether” – Paul chooses not to settle the debate by making “food rules” but by appealing to motives.
  • “Eat or drink” – God leaves the choices that will change your relationship with food fully in your hands.
  • “Whatever you do” – Paul is going to say that there is only one motive that frees us from the tyranny of self.
  • “to the glory of God” – That one motive is to connect our actions to the larger purpose of glorifying God.

Teaching Notes

“Whether real or imagined, conscious or not, in one way or another, you’re eating disorder serves a purpose or function for you (p. 216)… On the other hand, if you have anorexia or are very restrictive with food, you are more likely to experience satisfaction, or even pride, in your ability to control your food intake in your weight (p. 39).” Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

“When I was in the depths of my eating disorder, ‘I’m thin’ used to be my answer to all of life’s tough questions. Am I happy? Yes, I’m thin. Am I a good performer? Sure, I’m thin. Am I confident? Of course, I’m thin. As long as I was thin, I did not really have to think about anything else (p. 81).” Jenni Schaeffer in Life Without Ed

“The problem with the therapeutic model—eating and exercise to look good and feel better—is that everything is related to self: ‘I shouldn’t over eat because it will make me less healthy.’ ‘I should exercise because I don’t want to become weak and lose my breath climbing up the stairs.’ Talking about discipleship brings God back into the picture: ‘I shouldn’t over eat because God tells me not to, and it dishonors him as Lord when I disobey, and I want to be as strong as possible to serve him as best I can’ (p. 48).” Gary Thomas in Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul

“Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turn to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness (p. 29)… Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or needed to feel better (p. 159).” Lysa Terkeurst in Made to Crave

“We can assure you that people who learn to respond to emotional difficulties without using food to numb or escape feelings have a better and longer weight loss maintenance record than those who only deal with eating and exercise (p. 153).” Stephen Arterburn and Linda Mintle in Lose It for Life

“Idols create laws that multiplied exponentially (p. 174)… The Law of Diminishing Returns is in full force in idol worship. The behavior will grow and grow until it completely consumes you and you spend your entire life compulsively overeating, binging, purging, or starving. Your god has an insatiable hunger—and if you feed him, he’ll grow (p. 180).” Elyse Fitzpatrick in Love to Eat, Hate to Eat

“At this point, I became obsessed with self-protection, self-preservation. Funny, huh? I was basically near death, and yet I saw self-preservation as maintaining control (p. 48).” Sheryle Cruse in Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder

MLK and Sancitify of Life Prayer & Scripture Time at Summit

I thought Pastor Chuck Reed and Pastor Curtis Andrusko did an excellent job creating a powerful declaration that we still have a dream for our church and our nation. I would encourage you to take 6 minutes today and reflect on these excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr. most famous speech and Scripture passages from which they emerge.

MLK & Sanctity of Life from The Summit Church Sermons on Vimeo.

A Competency-Layered Index of Church-Based Counseling Resources

Note: This post was originally compiled in cooperation with Ryan West for The Send Network in February 2015 and is a resource designed as a supplement for this upcoming workshop.

COUNSELING IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH:
Understanding the Liabilities & Possibilities of Lay Care Ministries
Date: Updates on Next Presentation at Link Below
RSVP and Find More Information Here

Counseling in the local church can be a daunting task, riddled with complexities on numerous issues such as liability, referrals, the place of medicine, and other thorny topics of discussion. In fact, when the leaders of your congregation begin wading through these matters, you will find that many godly men and women have differing opinions about root problems and the “biblical” solutions.

Should we simply throw our hands up and walk away? After all, where do we begin if so many differing ideas within the body of Christ dominate this conversation? These questions have become so pressing that we hosted a panel discussion at the 2014 SBC, featuring Brad Hambrick, Frank Page, and Ed Stetzer (Click here for the audio). Also, Frank Page formed a Mental Health Advisory Group to prepare a report for the Executive Committee to address these issues.

Ultimately, we know one thing: we cannot overlook the pain of people experiencing mental and emotional suffering and say that we have proclaimed the lordship of Christ in a holistic way. We have to do something! As Christ’s body, we must look at people in need of gospel-driven counseling as harassed and helpless, in need of Christ’s peace to replace their anguish. Assuming that we agree that we agree on this point, the question then becomes “what.”

Let me suggest that we should begin addressing the question of church-based counseling ministries with the issue of competency. How can your church competently minister to people hurting around you at this moment? Follow the links included below to explore the realities of several approaches to counseling that are meant to be a part of a church’s ministry. Also, for churches interested in learning more about how to develop a formal lay care ministry, The Summit Church offers an upcoming conference.

Here are five categories—followed by a brief description and a few resources for each category—Brad Hambrick identifies to help churches begin answering this question. While the lists of resources under each category are not exhaustive, they will help you begin exploring the specific approach to counseling ministry your church chooses to offer. (*NOTE: For a deeper look at these approaches, see this excerpt from a chapter he wrote in Scripture and Counseling, which released late 2014)

Categories of Counseling Ministry

  1. One Another Ministry
  2. Various Forms of Formal Lay Counseling
  3. Graduate Intern Level Counselors
  4. Formally Trained General Practitioners
  5. Counseling Specialists

1. One Another Ministry

Every church already has a one-another level ministry. This is simply people caring for one another as they “do life together,” including ministries that emphasize accountability relationships.

2. Various Forms of Formal Lay Counseling

The resources below are intended to provide group or mentoring format counseling in which lay people use their personal experience with a given life struggle or transition to facilitate someone else’s journey through a similar experience.

  • Celebrate Recovery represents the most well-known and well-structures of the Christian 12 step models.
  • GriefShare, DivorceCare, and Single & Parenting are short-term group curriculum published by Church Initiative that use a video based format.
  • Thrive Curriculum is a mental health recovery workbook and coaching program developed by Dr. Matthew Stanford for those diagnosed with a mental health disorder or dealing with overwhelming stress affecting your mental health. Similar resources are available for family and friends.
  • Mending the Soul is dedicated to equipping and resourcing community and church leaders around the world in an informed and compassionate response to those impacted by abuse.
  • Family Life Marriage Mentoring is program to develop marriage mentors.
  • GCMarriage Pre-Marital Mentoring is a program to develop pre-marital mentors.
  • Freedom Groups are struggle-specific small groups where individuals commit to investing a season of their life in overcoming a particular life-dominating struggle of sin or suffering.

There are also several organizations that offer certification for lay counselors.

Examples of churches using these certificate level counselors include:

3. Graduate Intern Level Counselors

This layer of counseling would entail a partnership between a local and neighboring seminary or graduate school.

4. Formally Trained General Practitioners

These are counselors serving as part of a church or parachurch ministry staff to offer services to the community. These examples will help you identify comparably trained counselors in your area or to help your church identify ministry models that are the best fit for your context.

5. Counseling Specialists

These are individuals or ministries that have intensive training and programming to deal with the severe expressions of various life dominating struggles.

Hopefully, this blog post enable you to see several categories of counseling ministry that your church can offer to your community. My guess is that most churches have a counseling ministry, such as the one another ministry described above, but several questions remain.

Is your church competent in your current offering—formal or informal—of counseling ministry? How can your church become more competent in the specific approach your people are able to do at this point? Should you cultivate another approach to counseling ministry in your church to enhance your current counseling ministry? Whichever form of counseling your church takes, may your people be known as those who offer mercy and peace to people who are helpless and harassed.

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

Tweets of the Week 1.13.16

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: Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food (Step Two)

Below is a video from the presentation of “Gaining a Healthy Relationship with Food.” 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).

“An Honest Look in the Mirror”
ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.

Ganing A Healthy Relationship With Food — Step 2 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Resource: Daily Food Planning Sheet

Memorize: Ecclesiastes 6:7-9 (ESV), “All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “All the toil” – Consider all the energy you put into eating or not eating. Is this a good investment of your life?
  • “For his mouth” – This is a common struggle people face. We don’t naturally have a healthy relationship with food.
  • “Appetite is not satisfied” – All of our appetites resist accepting “enough” or take pride in having “control.”
  • “What advantage” – There is no advantage to our appetites being out of control. The result is always injurious.
  • “Vanity… striving after wind” – The things that drive us to misuse food never deliver as they promise.

Teaching Notes

“In order to begin changing your relationship with food, it is important to look at your current behaviors, so you can be honest with yourself about what you are doing and what you need to work on and change (p. 129).” Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb in 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

“Try not to get hung up on the fairness of the genetic hand you may have been dealt (p. 71).” Stephen Arterburn and Linda Mintle in Lose It for Life

“To make matters worse, losing one pound doesn’t feel like it makes any difference at all, even though losing a pound can be difficult to do. The sacrifice-to-reward ratio is out of whack (p. 96).” Gary Thomas in Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul

“Our bodies are able to tolerate enormous amounts of abuse, but sooner or later they begin to break down (p. 26).” Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders

“I have had years of people complimenting me for my talent, mind, good personality, and sense of humor, but these new complements were intoxicating! I realize the truth of the statement: ‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.’ For me, being thinner qualified the need to be loved and accepted by others (p. 43)… I eventually became convinced that death—at least the look of starvation—was beautiful. I was in to being the ‘beauty,’ the look of the malnourished (p. 44)… I was ‘feeling worse,’ but believing that I was ‘looking better.’ At 90 pounds, my skin was crêpe paper and just hung off from my bones. I didn’t have enough muscle tone or fat to support any kind of shape. Of course, I saw this as ‘fat flab’ (p. 47).” Sheryle Cruse in Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder

“Anorexics still get hungry, of course, but their fear of fat causes them to control their hunger pangs. And when these natural feelings of hunger are squelched, the anorexic experiences the exhilaration of control. If you are anorexic, you will need to be very honest with yourself about your eating patterns. You may want to congratulate yourself on your willpower over food (p. 20)… As bulimics isolate themselves, food becomes the obvious substitute for social interaction. Food replaces other people as the source of comfort and companionship. Deception and avoidance replace openness and camaraderie (p. 24).” Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders

 

7 Ways to Keep Your Wife Beautiful for Life

Let me begin by saying clearly, the end-all-be-all of a marriage is not having an attractive wife. I do not believe you will be able to read this post and walk away with that conclusion. The goal of marriage is to experience more of God’s love for the church through the delight that a husband and wife take in one another (Eph. 5:32). Attractiveness is but one of those delights.

In this post, I want to examine seven ways that a husband can delights in the beauty of his wife for a lifetime.

1. Treat her with honor.

There is a simple relational principle; we find appealing those we honor and unappealing those we dishonor. This principle is, in my opinion, more powerful than its inverse; we honor those we find appealing and dishonor those we find unappealing. The more you honor your wife in day-to-day communications (i.e., your sense of humor, conflict, how you speak of her to others, your private thoughts of her, etc…) the ever more attractive she will become in your eyes.

2. Limit stress by…

… living within your time limits. All forms of stress are physically taxing and accelerate our physical deterioration. When you are not content to live within your 168 hour week, you will not have the time to continue to know the-person-of-your-wife so you will over-rely upon the appearance of the-body-of-your-wife as the basis of your delight; the same body you are taxing through additional stress.

… living within your financial limits. Being overdrawn financially leads to more conflict and more time apart. Both of these factors make it harder to treat one another with honor (see point #1).

… allowing time to steward your bodies and interests. Caring for our bodies and developing our interests require time. Fit bodies and people developing their interests are more attractive (physically, intellectually, and emotionally) than people who are neglecting these areas.

3. Rehearse her virtues.

You are going to repeat something in your mind many times over the course of the day. Let it be those things that you find attractive (physically, character, skills, etc…) about your wife. If you repeat those things that are disappointing or not according to your preferences, or if you neglect to think about your wife until you are in her presence, your sense of attraction to her will fade.

4. Remember the score-board principle.

Many marriage materials say, “Don’t keep a score board.” I agree with this in principle, but know we all do it anyway. So, if you keep score, do so with a realization of your scoring bias. You know 100% of the kind actions or thoughts you have towards your wife. You only know a very small percentage of your wife’s kindnesses towards you. I often say to my wife, “Thank you for all the things I don’t have to think about.” That means I have no idea of everything I should be appreciating. That also means that if on my score board, I’m not radically winning, then I am really losing. So, if I feel like I am doing more than she is, then things might be about where they should be.

5. Invest in your family.

“Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21).” If you invest in your work or your hobby more than your marriage, don’t expect to delight in your wife. You need to put as much creative energy into your family as you do any other area of your life. Start with this question, “If I had a daughter, how would I want her husband to invest in her and my grandkids?” And then ask, “Why am I willing for my wife to have to settle for less than I want for my daughter?”

6. Stay humble.

If you think less of your wife than you should, it’s probably because you think more of yourself than you should. We live in a culture where, too often, the “social capital” of men increases with age and for women it decreases. That is but one way the Fall has corrupted our culture. If you find yourself wondering if you could “do better,” then you have significantly lost your bearings and need some mature Christian men to help you ground yourself in personal humility and relational honor.

7. Allow your definition of beauty to mature with her.

Too often we take Proverbs 31:30 to be a chick-verse in a woman’s chapter of the Bible, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting (NIV).” Men need to accept this too. If your definition of beauty does not mature as you age, then you’ll live a life of regret (not to mention, you’ll start to be creepy). When you got married, beauty changed from an abstract concept to a concrete face, body, voice, smile, etc… Protect your wife by allowing your definition of beauty to mature as she does.

This post goes on the list of things that aren’t complicated, but are hard. Most of the things on this list share one thing in common – they require dying to self in order to love God and love others well.

Chances are you were not blown away by any of the practical advice in this post. That should be both encouraging and discouraging. It is encouraging to know that the most relationally inept person can love well. It is discouraging to realize that most often our only excuse for not loving well is pure neglect of relational basics.

This should call our attention again to our need for the gospel in order to have a satisfying marriage. Our marriages deteriorate not because marriage is complex, but because we are selfish and self-centered. Even when we want to be selfless to love well those we care about, we fall short.

In order to love well, we need something that can motivate us to die to ourselves without simultaneously causing us to cave in on ourselves through self-pity or martyrdom. There is only one person (Jesus Christ) with one message (the gospel) who can accomplish these twin tasks. The more we rely on what Christ did for us and treasure the gospel until we emulate it, the more naturally we will treat others as God has treated us.

If this is an area you want to grow, I would invite you to attend one or more of the upcoming Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminars. Dates, times, location, and RSVP are provided at this link.

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