Archive for December, 2016

My Top 10 Blog Posts from 2016

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

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

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

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

What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents by Lisa Damour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’m Reading

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

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

Tweet of the Week

Meaningful Meme


On the Lighter Side

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

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

Christmas at DPAC 2016

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

Merry Christmas!


Hambrick Family Christmas Letter 2016

Dear Friends,

It has not been long enough since I last sat down to pen (i.e., type) a Christmas letter. As the boys get bigger and I get older, the years go by faster. But even with a year that has felt too short, as we look back, a lot has happened in the Hambrick household this year.


Lawson is in 6th grade, so we have officially started the adventure known as “Middle School.” While he embarked on this adventure with a good bit of fear and trepidation, he has started to enjoy it (a fact he will firmly deny if asked directly). This Fall, Lawson switched back from baseball to football; doing a great job on the D-Line and O-Line for the North Raleigh Bulldogs.

Marshall is in 4th grade and is full-on ready to conquer the world. Marshall finally made it to kid-pitch level in baseball and loved getting to be in complete control of the game. As a left-handed pitcher with above-average control and velocity, he did a great job (his below-average stature made him quite cute to the opposing teams until they stepped in the batter’s box). Marshall wants run a marathon with Brad before he graduates high school. They completed a 10K (which accidentally became an 11K… the race was non-euphemistically named “The Extra Mile” #NotABargain) and are working towards a half marathon.

This summer the boys and I took our #ManTrip7, intended to be a white water adventure ( But there were brain eating amebas in the water (no joke), so it became a high ropes course and mountain-top zip lining adventure. A fire in our hotel at 2am in the morning added to the adventure stories that can be told.

Sallie is still “the best Mama ever” as both boys are fond of telling her and subs frequently at the elementary school, but Lawson is no longer sure it’s a good idea for her to be at the middle school (ahh, the drama). She started a project to “paint one wall” in our living room; now with six walls painted, two sets of new curtains, and a new rug, both our living room and kitchen look amazing.

Brad finished the seminar series he began at Summit 5 years ago with programs for addiction ( and codependency ( He’s very excited about the opportunity to partner with SEBTS in 2017 to develop a program where the recovery-support group and marriage mentoring ministries will become much more replicable for other churches. As always, his favorite thing to do is coaching Lawson and Marshall’s ball teams.

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 of 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 the opportunity to multiply that hope by sharing it with others.

Merry Christmas!

The Hambrick Family

Council of Counselors: Rekindle Passion / Female Porn Struggle / How to Share Bad News / PTSD / Counselor Checklist

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

10 Ways to Rekindle the Passion in Your Marriage by Terry Gaspard

Sexual attraction is hard to maintain over time. For instance, Kendra and Jason lack passion because they are unwilling to give up control and show vulnerability. As a result, they avoid sex and rarely touch each other. Sex therapist Laurie Watson says, “Most sexual concerns stem from an interpersonal struggle in the marriage.” Here are 10 tips to bring back the passion in your marriage:

You Are Not Alone: For Women Fighting Every Man’s Battle by Calley Sivils

After talking recently to female friends who share in my struggle, it seemed that such battles are often either totally hushed up in church circles (“Ladies, don’t talk about that”) or completely toned down (“Surely you don’t mean that sort of feeling”). Thus, many women following Jesus feel shameful or like they’re the only ones with strong yearnings for sex.

  • If you are looking for practical guidance in a struggle with lust, consider the False Love seminar.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have to Share Bad News by Andy Molinski, PhD

Delivering bad news is one of the greatest challenges we face. Especially for novice managers in the workplace, the experience of delivering bad news during a layoff conversation or a negative performance review can be surprisingly emotional. One might feel sympathy for the victim. One can feel confused, frustrated, or angry about the fact that they have to deliver the message in the first place, especially if it’s a message they don’t necessarily endorse. And they can feel nervous about doing something they know is going to cause someone pain and discomfort.

Study Finds Aerobic Exercise Reduces the Symptoms of PTSD by Eric Dolan

New research suggests that aerobic exercise may be an effective way to reduce some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • In this PTSD seminar body management techniques (such as exercise) are provided to help with the journey through PTSD.

A Counselor’s Check List by David Murray

Which all raises the questions: How can we measure or grade counseling skills? And how can the students know if they are making progress in their counseling abilities?

  • The Love-Know-Speak-Do outline of this check list comes from Paul Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemers Hands (see “What I’m Reading” section below).

Tweet of the Week

What I’m Reading

instrumentsInstruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul Tripp. In many ways, the church today has more consumers than committed participants. We see church merely as an event we attend or an organization we belong to, rather than as a calling that shapes our entire life. Many of us would be relieved if God had place dour sanctification in the hands of trained professionals, but that simply is not the biblical model. God’s plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to maturity in Christ.

Tripp explains how his work follows an “all of my people, all of the time” model. If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in Glory. This is a comprehensive treatment of how God uses people as tools of change in the lives of others, people who themselves are in need of change.

Thanks for the Mention

  • Head Heart Hands blog by David Murray for linking to the “240 Marriage Conversations” article.
  • TLG Christian News for for linking to the “240 Marriage Conversations” article.

Meaningful Meme



On the Lighter Side

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




Video: Overcoming Addiction (Step Nine)

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

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

“Living Free to Enjoy the Life God Intended”
STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory.

Overcoming Addiction, Step 9 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: I Corinthians 6:12, 19-20 (ESV), “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything… Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “All things are lawful” – You shouldn’t need a “rule” that says don’t drink any longer.
  • “I will not be dominated” – Those things that dominate you should be voluntarily avoided.
  • “Your body is a temple” – Your motivation is not shame, because God has given you the highest honor, his presence.
  • “You are not your own” – When you declare Christ “Lord” you surrender the right to make destructive choices.
  • “Glorify God in your body” – Bringing glory to God is now the ultimate replacement for the pleasure or escape of AoD.

Teaching Notes

“The absence of the addictive behavior is not sufficient to successfully maintain the change and become andex-addict. In order to sustain recovery, new behaviors and reinforcing experiences must become part of a new way of living in the world (p. 190)… Taking away an addiction leaves a void that must be filled by alternative satisfying reinforcers for the economics of recovery to work (p. 193).” Carlo DiClemente in Addictions and Change

“At the outset, most of us tackle an addiction simply because it is giving us trouble, and our only conscious desire is to be rid of it…If my primary desire, as best I know it, is simply to change a troublesome addictive behavior, I will hardly be interested in giving my life to God in order to do so (p. 146).” Gerald May in Addiction & Grace

“The exodus is the end of captivity, but it is only the beginning of freedom (p. 117).” Graeme Goldsworthy in According to Plan

“The world is full of two kinds of people – givers and takers. The takers eat well and the givers sleep well (p. 211).” John Baker in Celebrate Recovery: Leader’s Guide

“We are not set free to serve ourselves (p. 238).” Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

6 New Church-Based Counseling Resources in 2016

One of the blessings of serving at a church that allows me to focus my attention on developing a robust counseling ministry is the opportunity to create resources that can be duplicated in our church plants and churches across the country/world.

This year we were able to create two programmatic seminars and four other resources to equip church members to care for one another and their community.

  1. Overcoming Addiction (9 step seminar)
  2. Overcoming Codependency (9 step seminar)
  3. SJI Forum & Panel: Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk
  4. Gospel Wheel Evaluations (6 evaluation series)
  5. Summit Counseling FAQ’s
  6. Parent Equip: Talking to Our Children about Purity

Council of Counselors: Elderly Depression / Small Talk Mental Illness / Gospel-Centered Counseling Review / Preventing Pastoral Abuse / Step Families

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

6 Little-Known Signs of Depression in Older Adults by Kristen Sturt

Even though upwards of two million Americans age 65-plus experience depression, the majority of seniors—68 percent, according to a National Mental Health Association survey—know little about it. One big reason is that signs are easy to overlook, since they’re frequently confused with other ailments and changes that come naturally with aging.

The Panic of Small Talk When You Have a Mental Illness by Emily Lukaszek

Hence why small talk makes me so uneasy. The majority of the past 13 years, dating back to my early teens, has been spent in a variety of hospitals on medical and psychiatry floors trying to survive the potentially fatal complications of anorexia nervosa and mood disorders, including suicide attempts. This has stunted my education and career development, among other “normalcies” of daily life: dating, friendships, travel experiences, and plain ordinary 20-something-year-old shenanigans. I have, in essence, been robbed of a lot of life. Listing why I cannot keep a job or finish a college course is not exactly meet-and-greet-conversation-worthy.

  • If you are unsure who to think (which comes before talking) about mental health concerns well, here is a resource to provide some guidance.

Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives a review by Eric Johnson of Bob Kellemen’s book

Let me state up front that I write as a self-confessed Christian psychologist who happily works in a biblical counseling department at a seminary, and I count Robert Kellemen a friend. Many readers will know that he has written a number of counseling books over the years and is a major leader in biblical counseling, having become the first director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition in 2010 (a position he has since resigned), so any book by him is important.

Child Abuse Prevention Group Issues Strong Statement Against Tullian Tchividjian and “Sexual Misconduct” by Warren Throckmorton

It should be noted that this article does not contain any allegation that Pastor Tullian was involved in abuse against minors. It might be easy to construe this on the basis of the title. GRACE, the group sited by Throckmorton, does raise important questions for churches to consider to ensure that social power of serving as a pastor is not abused.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the abuse-neglect laws in your state, here is a resource that I found extremely helpful.
  • If your church is wanting to make sure any abuse allegation against a volunteer or staff member is handled well, here is a sample policy.

Understanding the Unique Needs of Stepfamilies by Ron Deal

Pastors still sometimes think that most of the people who attend their churches are married. And they assume that if they’re married, they’re in a first marriage. So pastors are surprised when we tell them that 40 percent of US families are blended families—one-third of the individuals in the country have a step relationship… I would estimate that less than 1 percent of churches are doing anything to speak to what it looks like to be a healthy stepfamily. 

  • For a helpful resource on ministering to blended families see the “What I’m Reading” section below.

Tweet of the Week

What I’m Reading

stepfamilyThe Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron Deal. Ron Deal explodes the myth of the “blended” family as he provides practical, realistic solutions to the issues that stepfamilies face. He helps remarried and soon-to-be married couples:

  • Recognize the unique personality and place of each family member
  • Solve the everyday puzzles of stepparenting and stepchildren relationships
  • Learn communication skills to deal with ex-spouses
  • Honor families of origin while developing new traditions
  • Invest the time to grow their stepfamily slowly rather than look for instant results


No two stepfamilies are alike, and the principles, information, illustrations, discussion questions, and activities in The Smart Stepfamily help couples focus on their specific situation to build healthy marriages and peaceful families. Based on Ron Deal’s nationwide stepfamily seminars, this material is equally helpful for couples, small groups, pastors, and counselors.


Meaningful Meme


On the Lighter Side

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



Video: Overcoming Addiction (Step Eight)

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

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

“Embracing Sobriety as ‘The Good Life’”
PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me.

Overcoming Addiction, Step 8 from The Sam James Institute on Vimeo.

Memorize: James 1:12-13 (ESV), “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.’” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • “Blessed” – The place where we experience the fullness of God’s blessing is with God more than outside trials.
  • “Remains steadfast” – We do not have to “overcome” or “conquer.” We are merely called to remain faithful.
  • “Under trial” – The temptations that call us back to our old addictive lifestyle would be among these trials.
  • “Crown of life” – The “life” promised by our addiction is already ours in Christ.
  • “Let no one say” – If addictive thinking convinces us to turn from God, it separates us from our source of hope.

Teaching Notes

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down… That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist (p. 142).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The more time I spend in recovery, the worst each relapse gets (p. 136).” Jenni Schaeffer in Life Without Ed

“Lonely people make good addicts (p. 118).” Kent Dunnington in Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice

“Don’t forget to share your victories, no matter how small, with others in your group. Your growth will give others hope (p. 194)!” John Baker in Celebrate Recovery: Leader’s Guide

“The new behavior becomes fully maintained only when there is little or no energy or effort needed to continue it and the individual can terminate the cycle of change (p. 29)… Successful approximations are the way we learn most new behaviors or change old ones. It is clearly the way that most addicted individuals find their way to recovery (p. 182).” Carlo DiClemente in Addictions and Change

“Successful action also provides a new perspective on problems in other areas of the individual’s life. Problems that seemed trivial in light of the serious problems caused by the addiction look different in the light of abstinence. Once change of the addiction has begun, change of other problems becomes more feasible, and often more necessary, in order to sustain the change (p. 185).” Carlo DiClemente in Addictions and Change

“Whatever wins our affections will control our lives (p. 175).” Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

“When you are in an addictive trance, all you see is your addiction. When you come out of it, you begin to see God more clearly; you see other people more clearly too (p. 46).” Ed Welch in Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction

240 Marriage Communication Topics


This resource is an excerpt from section three of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication” seminar. The 270 conversations are divided into 10 sub-categories.

  1. Daily Review Topics (15)
  2. Reflective Topics (28)
  3. Romantic Topics (36)
  4. Planning Topics (22)
  5. Evaluative Topics (33)
  6. Confessional Topics (19)
  7. General Interest Topics (25)
  8. Spiritual Growth Topics (29)
  9. Social Topics (14)
  10. Popcorn Topics (19)

From What? to How?

The natural question changes from “What is there to talk about?” to “How are we going to have all these conversations?”

One approach is to put your favorite conversations from this list (along with your preferred additions) on slips of paper into an empty tissue box and have a raffle whenever there is a free moment for conversation. This brings a playful element to these conversations which is important (we continue to do things that are fun). In this version you can also add slips of paper with compliments and words of encouragement to one another to be drawn out and echoed during these conversation times.

As a note for the less talkative spouse… you can cheat! Draw a slip from the box in the morning as you get ready for your day. Put it in your pocket and think about it when you reach into your pocket throughout the day. I promise your spouse won’t mind if you get a 12 hour head start on having something to discuss at the end of the day.

Here is the excerpt with topics listed: 240-marital-conversations

You can always see when the next presentation of Gospel-Centered Marriage series will be taught at