• Our Resurrection ID in Christ

    Posted on July 17th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part Three

     

    Note: Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully. As you read the following summaries:

     

    *Meditate on the associated verses and on the truth they share about you.

     

    *Reject the lies of Satan about your identity.

     

    *Thank God for who you are in Christ.

     

    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.

     

    My Identity in Christ

     

    Romans 3:21-26; 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 22, 23, 24; 5:17, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 3:9—I have been credited with Christ’s righteousness.

     

    Romans 5:17—I am a recipient of God’s abundant provision of grace.

     

    Romans 5:18—I have new life in Christ.

     

    Romans 6:2—I am dead to sin.

     

    Romans 6:3—I am baptized into Christ’s death.

     

    Romans 6:4—I am buried with Christ in His death to and over sin.

     

    Romans 6:4—I have been raised to new life in Christ.

     

    Romans 6:5—I am united with Christ in His resurrection.

     

    Romans 6:6—My old self is crucified with Christ.

     

    Romans 6:6—My body of sin has been done away with.

     

    Romans 6:6—I am no longer sin’s slave.

     

    Romans 6:7—I have been freed from sin in Christ.

     

    Romans 6:8—I died with Christ to sin.

     

    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://tinyurl.com/d8grf6

  • Who Are You in Christ? Part 2

    Posted on July 16th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part Two

     

    Note: Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully. As you read the following summaries:

     

    *Meditate on the associated verses and on the truth they share about you.

     

    *Reject the lies of Satan about your identity.

     

    *Thank God for who you are in Christ.

     

    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.

     

    My Identity in Christ

     

    John 15:11—My joy is complete in Christ.

     

    John 16:33—I have overcome the world in Christ.

     

    John 17:16—I am not of this world.

     

    Acts 2:44; 4:32—I am a believer.

     

    Acts 5:20—I have new life in Christ.

     

    Acts 8:3; 2 Corinthians 1:1—Together with all the saints, I am God’s Church.

     

    Acts 11:26—I am a Christian, a little Christ.

     

    Acts 13:39; Romans 3:24, 26, 28, 30; 4:25; 5:1, 9, 18; 10:10; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:7—I am justified freely and fully in Christ.

     

    Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 6:11—I am sanctified in Christ.

     

    Romans 1:6—I am called to belong to Christ.

     

    Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 4:21, 22; Philemon 4; Jude 3—I am a saint.

     

    Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14—I am redeemed in Christ.

     

    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://tinyurl.com/d8grf6

     

  • Your Identity in Christ

    Posted on July 15th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part One

     

    Note: Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully. As you read the following summaries:

     

    *Meditate on the associated verses and on the truth they share about you.

     

    *Reject the lies of Satan about your identity.

     

    *Thank God for who you are in Christ.

     

    *Select one verse/truth per day and specifically apply it to your life and relationships.

     

    My Identity in Christ

     

    Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17—I am a fisher of men.

     

    Matthew 5:13—I am the salt of the earth.

     

    Matthew 5:14—I am the light of the world.

     

    Matthew 28:19; Luke 14:27; John 8:31; 13:35; 15:8; Acts 6:1, 7; 11:25-26, 29; 14:20-22; 16:1—I am a disciple of Christ.

     

    Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8—I am Christ’s witness.

     

    John 3:16-18; 10:28-29; 17:3; Romans 5:21; 6:23; 1 John 5:11—I have eternal life in Christ.

     

    John 8:32, 36—I am set free from sin in Christ.

     

    John 10:10—I have abundant life in Christ.

     

    John 14:26; 16:13—I have been taught all things by the Holy Spirit.

     

    John 14:27; 16:33—I have peace in Christ.

     

    John 15:3—I am clean in Christ.

     

    John 15:4, 5, 8, 16; Romans 7:4—I bear much lasting fruit in Christ.

     

    John 15:5—I am a branch abiding in Christ the Vine.

     

    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://tinyurl.com/d8grf6

  • Can Christ’s Gospel of Grace Really Change Lives?

    Posted on July 9th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    But Such Were Some of You

    1 Corinthians 6:11

     

    In response to my recent series on abuse and marriage, Elisabeth posted a passionate comment which I quote directly.

     

    I respond to her comment below.

     

    What are your thoughts?

     

    Elisabeth’s Post:

     

    “As I post my first comment, I must warn any potential readers that I have very strong views on this subject, which may offend a few people.”

    “I am including the following information not as any kind of evidence that my insights or opinions have stronger validation or importance over that of anyone else. I only wish to provide a background as to why my opinions on this subject are so especially strong. I have worked as a Domestic Violence Counselor, Outreach Court Advocate, and Shelter Crisis Counselor at a Domestic Violence Shelter/Center. I can honestly say that, during my work there, many women faced additional difficulties because of an unhealthy religious background. I intentionally use the term “unhealthy” to describe, in my opinion, an unfortunate, incorrect and even dangerous view of many comments by Paul in both Corinthians and Timothy.”

    “Furthermore, although domestic violence comes in many forms and levels of extremes, for most habitual offenders/perpetrators, there is very little evidence that these people can be rehabilitated. In fact, most domestic violence centers will not counsel the perpetrators due to this fact and others. This will, I am sure, cause some strong feelings, but the success stories I have seen, usually involved a legal separation, followed by a divorce. However, I would be very interested in any information that would should programs that have a better probability of helping the perpetrators of these crimes to become non-violent, loving, truly God-lead spouses.”

     

    Elisabeth,


    Dr. Kellemen’s Response

     

    Elisabeth, thank you for your comment and for your passion for protecting those who have been abused.

    The Study Says

     

    To be honest, I am often intrigued when I hear a generic statement that “studies show” or “there is very little evidence that” and then no footnotes or links are given. And even if the footnotes are given, we all know that with the plethora of info out there, anyone could “cherry pick” “studies” that support their view. I am not saying you are doing this, I just mention this for our readership. I’d like to read any specific studies you have. I’d like to see if the combined work of the Body of Christ, civil authorities, biblical counseling, group ministry, accountability, etc., were used.

    Changing Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth

     

    Further, and most importantly, the Bible says that through Christ’s resurrection power change can and does occur in any and all issues:

     

    “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:10-11).

     

    Christ does change lives. Christ’s Gospel of grace not only saves from sin but also empowers us to be sanctified—to change, to grow, to mature. It is supernatural to mature.

    As a counselor and pastor, if I only counseled people when the stats said it was highly likely that change would occur, then my job would be a lot easier. It is the “hard cases” that bring the tears and also the joy of victory. I have personally seen the Body of Christ work together to bring healing to marriages and change to abusive relationships many times.

    I do think your post brings up an important point: biblical Christian counseling needs more outcome studies. It would be extremely amazing to an onlooking world to show the power of Christ’s Gospel of grace to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.

    I’d love to hear from other readers on this issue.

    Bob

  • A Plea for Listening to One Another

    Posted on July 8th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The State of Biblical Counseling Today:

    Discussing the ABC Symposium, Part III

    A Plea for Listening to One Another

     

    Note: This is Part Three of a three-part blog about the Symposium on Biblical Counseling that took place on May 14, 2009 at the Association of Biblical Counselors’ National Conference.

     

    My Plan Today, and My Hesitancy Today

     

    My plan today is to discuss some possible stereotyping that may continue to exist in the field of biblical Christian counseling today. To be very honest, I am very hesitant.

     

    The ABC Symposium was an incredible bridge-building time—which is a major passion of mine. Since the event, I have received numerous emails and comments like the following one, which was posted on the blog of my friend Dr. Phil Monroe: (http://tinyurl.com/oxpjr9):

     

    “My gratitude to the four Doctors. I had the privilege of attending the symposium and listening to the discussion. The evidence of love for things primary was apparent. The respect for disagreement on tertiary matters was exemplary. The love for each other in Christ was encouraging. Hats off ‘gentle-men’. Thanks ABC.”

     

    I believe that the vast majority of people connected with the modern biblical Christian counseling movement interact and think like “the four Doctors.” They/we all try to evidence love for things primary, and respectful disagreement on tertiary matters, with a love for one another and for Christ.

     

    So, why bring up any possible “stereotyping”?

     

    Precisely because of my passion for building bridges of communication.

     

    A Hypothesis

     

    Here’s my hypothesis. We all give people we identify as being in “our group” a much greater benefit of the doubt than we give to people we identify as being in “another group.”

     

    I do a great deal of teaching, writing, speaking, and consulting on Christ-based Intercultural Relationships. The Bible has a tremendous amount to say about relating across cultures. In fact, everyone one of the ten classic doctrines of systematic theology address intercultural relationships!

     

    And guess what, our alphabet soup of counseling groups involve intercultural relating. We don’t think of it that way because we often think of “culture” as ethnicity and race and color of skin. But culture includes any way we have been taught to relate, think, choose, act, and feel by the “group” we associate with, are connected to, and surrounded by. Keep that in mind as you keep reading.

     

    Here’s What Struck Me

     

    Pastor Steve Viars is a great friend of mine since kindergarten! Honest—we attended the same elementary school, middle school, high school, Bible college and seminary, were saved in the same church, and discipled in the same youth group. Steve was in my wedding. Pastor Steve is a past President of NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors). I assume that the majority of the nearly-500 people at the symposium self-identify with the NANC more than they do with the group I am with—the American Association of Christian Counselors’ Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Forum (AACC/BCSFN).

     

    Pastor Steve talked with passion about his church’s nine-month residential treatment center for young women: Vision of Hope. Pastor Steve also talked about wondering if he and more of his staff might want to become state licensed so that more referring agencies would be able to refer. (I am paraphrasing and certainly encourage you to buy the DVD).

     

    I assume that the vast majority of people who self-identify with Pastor Steve thought, “Incredible. Wonderful. They are reaching out to hurting women. They are taking biblical counseling places it has not always gone!” I do not assume that most people who self-identified with Pastor Steve thought, “He’s going liberal. He’s an ‘integrationist’. He’s sold out!”

     

    But what if I had highlighted similar ideas and ministries? Would people who do not know me as well, who are not members of the AACC/BCSFN, who may have some caricatures about the AACC, have given me the same benefit of the doubt? Or, would some possibly have taken some of my words out of context and perhaps reported that, “Dr. Kellemen is an “__________”? (Fill in the blank with whatever negative caricature is in vogue.)

     

    Now, in all fairness. I have had Pastor Viars speak for me at an AACC/BCSFN event. When he spoke candidly and passionately on Ephesians 4:17-32, did all those who self-identify with the AACC/BCSFN truly “hear” what he said? Did they all truly “hear him out”? Or perhaps did some “hear him” only through their stereotyping grid of “nouthetic counseling” and misinterpret what he said, why he said it, and what he meant?

     

    Here’s the Thing

     

    As the TV detective, Adrian Monk, would say, “Here’s the thing.” Let’s be good biblical Christian counselors and listen to one another—really listen—without preconceived notions, false caricatures, and unhelpful, inaccurate stereotypes. I’d like to think that is exactly what was modeled by “the four doctors” and President Jeremy Lelek.

     

    Putting It into Practice

     

    So how could we put this “cross-cultural listening” into practice? Here are a few practical suggestions, in no particular order.

     

    1. Learn from those “outside your group.” Buy books and attend seminars of folks from the AACC, BCSFN, CCEF, SCP, NANC, FBCM, etc.

     

    2. As we read and hear folks from outside our “circles,” allow them to define their own terms. Too often people think, “He used the word _____. Other people use it to mean ______. And I think it means _____. So he obviously thinks it means ______ and that is bad!” Instead, we need to listen with interculturally-sensitive ears so we really hear one another. Only once we’ve accurately heard and understood can we adequately assess.

     

    3. As we read and hear folks from other agencies, we need to be good Bereans, not bad Corinthians. That about sums it up. Bereans rightly divide the Word of God. Corinthians wrongly divide the people of God. Bereans have a critical mind minus the critical spirit. Corinthians have a critical spirit minus with a shallow mindset. No one is saying “buy everything every person from every group says.” Instead, I am saying, “Let’s all practical good biblical counseling listening where we accurately hear one another without bias, where we rightly divide the Word of God, and when we disagree, we do so without a critical spirit, but with a sharp mind and a loving heart.

     

    What Do You Think?

     

    And thus ends my three-part blog mini-series on the ABC Symposium on the State of Biblical Christian Counseling. For those of you who attended and for those of you purchase the DVD, what do you think about the ABC Symposium?

     

    What is the state of modern biblical Christian counseling?

     

    How can we build bridges of understanding where we rightly divide God’s Word with sharp minds and loving hearts?

  • How Can We Help Equip You?

    Posted on July 6th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    What Further Equipping Do You Seek?

     

    Please let me know your thoughts on the following two questions. Either post a comment on the blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or email us at: rpm.ministries@gmail.com.

     

    1. What blog topics would you be interested in?

     

    *Marriage

    *Parenting

    *Praying

    *Anger

    *Depression

    *Anxiety

    *Phobias

    *Emotional Intelligence

    *Sexual Abuse Recovery

    *Overcoming Sexual Addiction

    *Other: _______________

     

    2. What ministry areas would you like further equipping in?

     

    *Teaching/Preaching

    *Equipping Lay People

    *Evangelism

    *Church Growth

    *Administration/Leadership

    *Change Management

    *Conflict Resolution

    *Church Discipline

    *Worship

    *Small Groups

    *Other: ____________

     

  • The DNA of Biblical Counseling

    Posted on July 4th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The State of Biblical Counseling Today:

    Discussing the ABC Symposium,

    Part II—The DNA of Biblical Counseling

     

    Note: This is Part Two of a several-part blog about the Symposium on Biblical Counseling that took place on May 14, 2009 at the Association of Biblical Counselors’ National Conference.

     

    “But You Didn’t Disagree Enough!”

     

    It was interesting during the Intermission, directly afterwards, and the day after the Symposium, how many times the four speakers plus President Lelek heard comments like, “There wasn’t enough disagreement!” Perhaps some people were expecting a “Biblical Counseling Four Views Debate.”

     

    More likely, most people simply wanted to hear how four leaders from four different counseling organizations distinctively nuanced what makes biblical counseling truly biblical. I’d challenged readers to purchase a copy of the DVD. Then…do what good biblical counselors do—listen well. I guarantee that you will hear the distinctive vision and passion of each speaker.

     

    Tertiary, Not Primary Differences

     

    What may surprise many is that the differences you will hear are, as David Powlison noted, tertiary (third level) and not primary. Primary differences would be foundational differences in our beliefs about the sufficiency of Scripture.

     

    We don’t have those! David Powlison (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation—CCEF), Steve Viars (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors—NANC, Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries—FBCM), Eric Johnson (Society of Christian Psychologists—SCP for the American Association of Christian Counselors—AACC), and Bob Kellemen (Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network—BCSFN for the AACC, and RPM Ministries) really are “on the same page.”

     

    The Unique DNA of Each Speaker

     

    That said, the four speakers were not clones of one another. Again, listen carefully to the DVD and you’ll hear clearly the different perspectives, the unique passions, and the individual emphases of each speaker.

     

    My goal today is to highlight something of the unique thumb print of each speaker. Obviously, I can do a better job remembering my own words and conveying my own passion, then I can those of my three fellow speakers. I’d love to hear each of them summarize what they shared during the Symposium.

     

    Eric Johnson’s Unique DNA

     

    Listen to Dr. Eric Johnson’s (see http://tinyurl.com/pvq3wj for his bio) interactions throughout the Symposium and you’ll hear several messages.

     

    1. A Humble, Gentle Heart and a Brilliant Mind

     

    First, Eric uniquely balances a gentle heart and a brilliant mind. Eric is a theologian/philosopher of biblical Christian counseling. Yet, he is no mere “academic.” His passion for people, his humble heart, and his desire for people to grow in grace all came across loud and clear throughout the Symposium.

     

    2. Reclaiming “Psychology” for the Church

     

    Second, listen to Eric on the DVD and you will pick up his passion for “psychology”—Christian psychology, biblical psychology. Eric, like myself, is a student of Church history. He knows that psychology is native to our faith—not secular psychology, but biblical psychology. Eric wants to build a foundation for soul care from a biblical and historical (Church history) basis. He wants the biblical counseling movement to reclaim what is rightfully theirs—understanding people, diagnosing problems, and prescribing solutions—biblically. Eric spoke consistently about how biblical counseling must mine the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word to develop a theological grid out of which we then build our counseling approaches.

     

    Steve Viars’ Unique DNA

     

    Listen to Pastor Steve Viars (see http://tinyurl.com/pvq3wj for his bio) interactions throughout the Symposium and you’ll hear several messages.

     

    1. A Passionate Heart and a Love for the Church

     

    Steve got people fired up about biblical counseling in the church—because Steve is fired up about it! And his words are not mere theory. Faith Baptist Church practices what Steve preaches. They are on the cutting edge of equipping people to be biblical counselors. They are not a church with biblical counseling, they are a church of biblical counseling. Principles of progressive sanctification flow through everything they do. How they preach, teach, do small groups, do evangelism, etc.—all flows from their model of biblical counseling.

     

    2. Reclaiming Biblical Counseling for the Community

     

    What may surprise some, because it blows away the false stereotypes about Nouthetic counseling, is Steve’s passionate commitment to community outreach through biblical counseling. Every Monday nearly 50 people from their community receive biblical counseling through Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. These are not church members (they receive counseling from one another and from the staff throughout the week). Unbelievers are coming to Christ, having their sins forgiven, and their lives healed every week through biblical counseling.

     

    Another example is Faith Baptist’s Vision of Hope Ministries. Vision of Hope Ministries recognizes the worth and sanctity of human life by ministering to young women, children, and families in a Christ-centered environment. They offer a faith-based residential treatment program for girls age 14 to 28 struggling with: unplanned pregnancy, alcohol or drug abuse, eating disorders, and/or self-harm. Steve Viars is convinced that God’s Word has real answers for real people with real problems.

     

    David Powlison’s Unique DNA

     

    Listen to Dr. David Powlison’s (see http://tinyurl.com/pvq3wj for his bio) interactions throughout the Symposium and you’ll hear several messages.

     

    1. A Love for People and a Love for God’s Word

     

    Clearly, David Powlison loves people and loves God’s Word. He uniquely united these twin loves in every interaction during the Symposium. He is a biblical scholar with a pastor’s heart.

     

    2. Reclaiming the Sufficiency of Scripture for Theory and Practice

     

    Repeatedly I heard David highlight the sufficiency of Scripture in theory-building and for counseling practice. David does not believe in a one-verse-one-problem-one-solution simplistic approach to biblical counseling. Rather, he wisely builds his model on a thorough, theological-biblical understanding. Every life issue, when considered conceptually, is addressed with wisdom in the Bible. Our role is to trace conceptual categories of living throughout the Bible and relate those to modern categories people face today.

     

    No mere theoretician, listen to the DVD and you will hear great practical wisdom from David about how the counselor/pastor can interact in love, insight, creativity, and engagement with a counselee/parishioner. You can tell quickly that David has remained active in the field—as a practitioner. His use of images, humor, stories, biblical vignettes with people bring his counseling to life.

     

    Bob Kellemen’s Unique DNA

     

    Listen to Dr. Bob Kellemen’s (see http://tinyurl.com/pvq3wj for his bio) interactions throughout the Symposium and you’ll hear several messages.

     

    As I noted, obviously I know my own passion for counseling better than the passion of Eric, Steve, or David. And, I remember better what I said—because it is what I would say in any setting. Anyone who knows me will listen to the DVD and say, “That’s Kellemen! I’ve heard him highlight that a million times!”

     

    Since it would seem arrogant for me to attempt to categorize my own “heart” and “mind,” I’ll let others attempt that. Instead, I’ll share two summary areas of theory that I recall highlighting during the Symposium.

     

    1. Reclaiming the Profundity and Relevancy of Scripture for Theory and Practice

     

    If I said it once, I said it half-a-dozen times, “true biblical counseling must be Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed.” The “comprehensiveness” of biblical counseling comes out, in part, when we think of the profound nature of Scripture. I believe 100% in the sufficiency and supremacy of the Word of God. I also happen to believe that if we talk about the Scripture’s sufficiency but ignore how it deeply relates to life, then we’ve missed the point entirely. Our calling is to relate Christ’s changeless truth to our changing times. Our calling it to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. God’s Word, rightly interpreted and aptly applied, has real answers to real problems of real people. During the Symposium, I shared the example of 2 Samuel 13 and the rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon. Carefully exegete that passage in context, and you begin to see the profound wisdom of the Word for the horrors of sexual abuse and sexual sin. You begin to see the amazing timeliness and relevance of God’s Word for life as we live it today.

     

    2. Reclaiming the Necessity of Compassion for Theory and Practice

     

    I also highlighted passages like Romans 12:15; Philippians 1:9-11; Romans 15:14; Ephesians 4:15; and 1 Thessalonians 2:8; all of which insist upon speaking the truth in love. I called upon us as biblical counselors to be like the Apostle Paul who said that he loved the saints so much that he gave them not only the Scripture, but his own soul, because they were dear to him. Do a DNA analysis of Kellemen’s biblical counseling approach, and you will find truth and love. I believe that in modern biblical counseling we have not emphasized enough the relationship of the counselor to the counselee. We have at times been too focus on “information in” (listen to data) and “information out” (read a verse/apply a principle). Instead, when listening—we should be engaging, feeling (that’s not a bad word!), empathizing (another good, biblical word), and climbing in the casket (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-11) as we weep with those who weep. And, when sharing truth, we should be doing it soul-to-soul, in a three-way trialogue relationship—counselor, counselees, and the Divine Counselor—it is a collaborative, relational, even intimate interaction.

     

    Part of that truth-compassion connection that I highlighted at the Symposium also means that we must deal both with the evils people have suffered and with the sins people have committed. Modern biblical counseling has done good work dealing with sin. But it has, at times, not done as much work developing a biblical “Sufferology”—a theology of how to apply God’s Word to suffering parishioners and spiritual friends. It should never be either/or: suffering or sin. Biblical and historically, the Church has always dealt with both. We need to develop biblical approaches to soul care for the suffering through sustaining and healing. And we need to develop biblical approaches to spiritual direction for sin through reconciling and guiding.

     

    The Distinct DNA Was There!

     

    I could go on and on about each of us. The differences were there. God fearfully and wonderfully and uniquely created each of us with individual passion, calling, life experiences, personality. It all came out in numerous ways during the Symposium.

     

    Where Do We Go From Here?

     

    In the next blog, I’ll take a risk. I’m going to address some stereotypes and the dangers thereof. See you then.

  • Christ’s Resurrection Power for Abuse in Marriage

    Posted on July 3rd, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Counseling and Abuse in Marriage

    Part 7: Christ’s Resurrection Power

     

    Summary: Marital abuse is one of the most traumatic issues an individual, couple, family, and church can face. Discussing it raises hotly defended convictions. How should God’s people respond to “abuse in marriage”?

     

    Today, in my final blog post in this mini-series, I have some words to share for various individuals and groups.

     

    *To the spouse experiencing abuse

    *To the abusive spouse

    *To pastors, counselors, and spiritual friends

    *To the Body of Christ

     

    To the Spouse Experiencing Abuse

     

    Please, do not suffer in silence. Please, do not suffer alone.

     

    I know, sometimes telling others can mean being revictimized because they disbelieve you, minimize, give pat answers, etc.

     

    I know, depending on the situation, you’ve been told, “This is a private, family issue.” Or, you’ve been threatened if you tell anyone else.

     

    Still, find a safe way to tell a safe person and get help for yourself, your marriage, your family.

     

    Even if your spouse will not seek help, you need the support of others. Even one person changing—you—changing the dynamics of the situation.

     

    We think of abuse being from husband to wife. However, my ministry experience and the private responses to this blog tell me that many wives are being abusive to their husbands. Husbands—get help. Overcome the stigma and be a shepherd in your home by facing the issue.

     

    We care. I care. The Body of Christ cares. Most importantly, Christ cares.

     

    To the Abusive Spouse

     

    You can stop. Christ’s resurrection power is available.

     

    Get help. Go to the Lord. Go to the Word. Go to your pastor. Get an accountability partner and an accountability group.

    Humble yourself before God. Face reality. Deal with your inner heart issues. Change your behavior. Renew your heart and renew your home.

     

    To Pastors, Counselors, and Spiritual Friends

     

    Always remember 1 Thessalonians and the two “ingredients” in Paul’s “love sandwich”:

     

    “I loved you so much that I was delighted to give you not only the Scriptures but my very own soul, because you were dear to me” (1 Thess. 2:8).

     

    Paul starts and ends his words with love. In between these two “slices” of life, he inserts the two fundamental “ingredients” of Scripture and soul.

     

    Truly biblical counseling begins and ends with love. It is speaking the truth in love. It is love abounding in depth of insight.

     

    Truly biblical counseling is not impersonal; it is not preaching at, it is intimately engaging others with Christ’s pure love.

     

    And truly biblical counseling involves both truth and love, both Scripture and soul. Engage the abusive marital situation from the context of the Word of God, not where you preach at, but where you converse, dialogue, and trialogue (you the counselor, the counselee, and the Divine Counselor).

     

    Don’t victimize the victim. Love the spouse being abused. Equip him or her to live with bold love.

     

    Don’t minimize the abuse, care-front the abusive spouse in love. Empower the abusive spouse to change by tapping into Christ’s resurrection power.

     

    Be for the marriage and be for God’s glory.

     

    To the Body of Christ

     

    Let’s stop the silence.

     

    Scores of people responded to me privately saying, “It’s about time someone talked about this in Christian circles.”

     

    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on “texts of terror” in the Old Testament—which is not silent about abuse, especially males abusing women.

     

    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on marriage.

     

    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on God’s compassion for those who are victimized.

     

    May we speak the truth in love so that the whole body grows together in truth and love. So that the onlooking world marvels at the way the church honestly handles this vital issue. So that the world witnesses in real life Christ’s resurrection power.

  • The State of Biblical Counseling Today

    Posted on July 2nd, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The State of Biblical Counseling Today, Part 1:

    The ABC Symposium: Four Leaders, Four Organizations, One Purpose

     

    On May 14, 2009, leaders from four major biblical Christian counseling organizations convened to dialogue about the state of biblical counseling today. The event was hosted by the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) at Christ’s Chapel Bible Church (www.ccbcfamily.org) in Fort Worth, TX.

     

    The Symposium Participants

     

    Dr. Lelek and ABC Board Member Dr. John Henderson guided the conversation. Joining them were the following leaders in the field of biblical Christian counseling (in alphabetical order):

     

    Dr. Eric Johnson

     

    Eric is Professor of Pastoral Care at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY (http://tinyurl.com/nnwkok). Dr. Johnson is the author of numerous books and articles, including co-editor of Christianity and Psychology: Four Views, and author of Foundations for Soul Care. He also is the Director of the Society of Christian Psychologists (www.christianpsych.org), a Division of the American Association of Christian Counselors (www.aacc.net).

     

    Dr. Robert Kellemen

     

    Bob is the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries (www.rpmministries.org) where he equips God’s people to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. He is the Chairman of the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship Department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD (www.bible.edu). Dr. Kellemen has authored over 75 articles. He is also the author of the books: Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friend, and Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. He is the Director of the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (www. Bcsfn.com) for the American Association of Christian Counselors (www.aacc.net). Bob has pastored three churches.

     

    Dr. David Powlison

     

    David is a counselor and professor at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) (www.ccef.org). For almost two decades Dr. Powlison has served as the Editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He has authored scores of articles and many books, including Seeing with New Eyes, and Speaking Truth in Love. David is also adjunct professor at Westminster Theological Seminary (www.wts.edu) in Philadelphia, PA. David is an internationally-known and gifted speaker, equipping believers around the world.

     

    Dr. Steve Viars

     

    Dr. Viars is the Sr. Pastor of Faith Baptist Church (www.faithlafayette.org) in Lafayette, IN. Pastor Viars also oversees Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries (http://tinyurl.com/n3uldk) which trains 1000s of biblical counselors around the globe. Under Steve’s direction, Faith Baptist recently launched their own church-based seminary, Faith Bible Seminary (http://tinyurl.com/kngko7). Steve is a past President of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (www.nanc.org). In his many roles, he is a nationally-known speaker who is passionate about equipping churches for biblical counseling. 

     

    The Next Step

     

    I invite you to return tomorrow as I will attempt the impossible: summarizing the symposium.

  • Abuse and Divorce

    Posted on July 1st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Counseling and Abuse in Marriage

    Part 6: Abuse and Divorce

     

    Summary: Marital abuse is one of the most traumatic issues an individual, couple, family, and church can face. Discussing it raises hotly defended convictions. How should God’s people respond to “abuse in marriage”?

     

    Extreme Responses

     

    So far we’ve explored how the church and individuals within the church can demonstrate Christ’s care during the crisis of marital abuse.

     

    However, some are somewhat quick to say, “All this talk about helping and counseling and reconciliation is foolish. Just tell them to get a divorce!”

     

    Sadly, on the other hand, some in the church have been known to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to marital abuse. They quickly victimize the victim by denying any abuse is occurring, without investigating the situation, or they are aware of the abuse and tell the abused spouse, often the wife, “Just submit!”

     

    So what is the truth? Does the Bible offer grounds for divorce based upon abuse?

     

    The Bible and Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

     

    Hundreds of books have been written on the topic of the Bible and divorce. Theological students have written dissertations of hundreds of pages on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Churches have split over interpretations surrounding divorce.

     

    If you want to explore the issue further, consider Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views: http://tinyurl.com/lgzj4w.

     

    Also consider Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay Adams: http://tinyurl.com/ncn8hr.

     

    My “brief” blog post will not solve the issue. Plus, this blog series is not about divorce in general, but about abuse in marriage and whether that may be grounds for divorce.

     

    Abuse and Separation

     

    Some people have said, based upon 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul says couples should only be apart for a short time for prayer and fasting, that separation for abuse is never biblical. Personally, I hardly think that Paul planned for his words, given in the context of prayer and fasting, to be applied when a spouse is being abused. As I said in the first post in this series, in the case of physical abuse, safety is the first priority—and often that requires separation while church and civil authorities address the abusive spouse.

     

    Abuse and Divorce: What Others Are Saying

     

    For Evangelical Christians, we can’t answer issues based upon our feelings or opinions. We must attempt to understand how to relate God’s timeless truth to our changing times.

     

    Some Evangelicals do not see any grounds for divorce in the Bible.

     

    Other Evangelicals would say that biblical grounds for divorce are limited to adultery (Matthew 19) and abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7).

     

    Most Evangelicals, regarding divorce in general, would say that even if divorce were permitted for those two grounds, that confession, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation and always the preferred response.

     

    David L. Snuth, in “Divorce and Remarriage from the Early Church to John Wesley” (Trinity Journal 11.2, Fall 1990: 131-142) shares an historical perspective. Somewhat surprisingly, according to his research, the Reformers like Luther and Calvin saw abuse as one possible ground for divorce.

     

    Apparently, like some commentators, pastors, and counselors today, some in Church history interpreted 1 Corinthians 7 and abandonment by an unbeliever to include various behaviors indicative of abandoning marital vows and roles. So, since husbands, for instance, are called to love and cherish their wives, a habitually unrepentant husband who is emotionally, verbally, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually, and/or physically abusing his wife, could be deemed to be living like an unbeliever who has abandoned his marital vows and his duties to his wife. Therefore, some have said in Church history and some say today, abuse could be grounds for divorce, especially habitually, unrepentant abuse.

     

    Of course, some in history and some today would respond, “Well, that opens the door for divorce for just about anything that anyone wants to claim is ‘abuse.’” Others would say, “That simply is not an accurate interpretation or application of 1 Corinthians 7.”

     

    What Do You Think?

     

    What is your conviction? Biblically, what should happen to the marriage when abuse occurs?