• Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009, Part 2

    Posted on December 29th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Part 2: Trends 5-1

    Note: For Part 1 and trends 10-6, please visit here.

    It’s hard to believe that the first decade of the 21st century has come and gone.

    As the decade ends, I’ve been pondering the top ten positive trends over the past ten years in biblical counseling.

    It’s exciting to reflect on what God is doing as He empowers His Church.

    Enjoy trends five-to-one (in reverse order to heighten the anticipation!). And please join the conversation and let me know what your selections would be.

    5. Culturally-Informed Approaches

    There was also a time when “modern biblical counseling” consisted of “a bunch of white guys.” Thankfully, the “movement” is maturing due to the contributions of a growing multiethnic group of women and men. Elyse Fitzpatrick, Lucy Ann Moll, and Susan Ellis are just three examples of women leading the way in biblical counseling. Pastor Deepak Reju of Nine Marks Ministries, Dr. Elias Moitinho, Pastor Dwayne Bond, and the Black African American Association of Christian Counselors (BAACC) are representatives of a multiethnic group of individuals and associations promoting biblical counseling. My own books, Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, and Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith each seek to teach biblical counseling from a multicultural perspective. There’s also an encouraging movement of international biblical counseling with Wayne Vanderweir’s Overseas Instruction in Counseling being just one such examples.

    4. Comprehensive Models

    Once upon a time, biblical counseling could be labeled one-dimensional with a focus on combating the impact of the fall/sin on human nature. Today, biblical counseling comprehensively examines creation (understanding people from God’s original design), fall (diagnosing problems resulting from sin), and redemption (prescribing God’s solutions through our salvation and sanctification in Christ). Models also formerly tended to highlight the behavioral aspects of growth in grace. Today they emphasize our relational (spiritual, social, and self-aware), rational (images and beliefs), volitional (motivational and behavioral), emotional, and physical nature in a comprehensive manner. Eric Johnson’s Foundations for Soul Care, and my work Soul Physicians are just two examples of books written in the past ten years to offer comprehensive theological foundations for biblical counseling.

    3. Progressive Sanctification Focus

    Current models of biblical counseling have made great progress in teaching that the counseling process is simply a sub-set of the discipleship process, both of which God designs to assist us to grow in grace. The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) has spent the past decade equipping pastors and lay people to assist God’s people in the progressive sanctification process. The mission of the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) is to link biblical counseling and spiritual formation to develop theological models and methodological approaches leading to progressive sanctification.

    2. Sufficiency of Scripture Emphasis

    Rather than harp on what’s wrong with other models, over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on the sufficiency, relevancy, profundity, and authority of God’s Word for Christian living. David Powlison’s Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love, Michael Emlet’s Cross Talk, and my Spiritual Friends all practice the sufficiency of Scripture by teaching why and how to saturate biblical counseling with scriptural explorations and spiritual conversations

    1. Christ-Centered Purpose

    Biblical counseling over the past ten years has re-committed itself to the primary purpose of glorifying Christ. It’s all about Him. For instance, the use of Scripture (sufficiency of Scripture) to assist one another to grow in grace (progressive sanctification) has as its final goal helping one another to exalt and enjoy Christ now and forever. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counsel from the Cross exemplifies this type of Gospel-centered biblical counseling.

    We can bring together these top ten trends of the past ten years to offer a working definition of biblical counseling.

    Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through the Christian soul care arts of sustaining and healing) and sin (through the Christian spiritual direction arts of reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ.

    Join the Conversation

    What top trends would you add to this list?

    What individuals, groups, and books would you add to trends 5-1?

    In 75 words or less, how would you define biblical counseling?

  • Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Posted on December 27th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Part 1: Trends 10-6

    Do you remember where you were when “Y2K” did not hit? That was the beginning of the decade that people don’t know what to call. Is it the zeros?

    People often like to label decades by “themes.” I’ve already heard some people call the past decade the “Selfish Decade.”

    While there’s certainly plenty of negatives to toss about, I’d like to consider some positives. Remember, “Aslan is still on the move!”

    Here are the first five of my top ten positive trends in biblical counseling over the past ten years (in reverse order, of course, to heighten anticipation!).

    10. Synergy Is Energy

    Instead of territory-protecting and camp-building, increasingly biblical counseling groups are choosing to work together and to learn from each other. For example, Jeremy Lelek and the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) are to be commended for hosting a symposium that brought together leaders from Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries (FBCM), the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN), and the Society for Christian Psychology (SCP).

    9. Positive Perspective

    For too long, modern biblical counseling suffered under the stereotype of what it was against. Over the past decade a shift has taken place as we’ve focused more on what we’re for. For example, the BCSFN, which was launched this decade, included “being a positive voice for biblical counseling” in its vision statement. The SCP purposes to develop from the Scriptures and Church history a positive presentation of a psychology (understanding of the soul as designed by God) that is thoroughly Christian.

    8. New Gen Leadership

    We all ought to be grateful for the “founders” of the “modern” biblical counseling movement. I’m also grateful for a new generation of leaders in biblical counseling. Examples abound. I think of Pastor Rob Green at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries and Faith Seminary, of Chris Boucher at Capital Bible Seminary, Brad Hambrick of Crossroads Counseling, and Garrett Higbee of Twelve Stones Ministries.

    7. Local Church Equipping

    There’s a growing movement to return biblical counseling and spiritual friendship to its rightful place—the local church. Pastors are being equipped to equip their people for one another ministry. Among many examples are the CCEF, the BCSFN, FBCM, the ABC, Rick Thomas of The Counseling Solutions Group, and my own RPM Ministries all have well-developed local church equipping models, conferences, seminars, and consulting ministries. And individual churches are increasingly becoming equipping centers, such as Faith Baptist under the leadership of Pastor Steve Viars, Harvest Bible Chapel under the leadership of Pastor James MacDonald and Dr. Garrett Higbee, and New Antioch Baptist Church’s “LEAD” ministry under the direction of Sister Ellen Barney (where she has trained over 500 women in spiritual friendship). These equipping ministries and churches understand that biblical counseling is a normal part of the one another ministry that God calls every believer to participate in.

    6. Compassionate Care

    There was a time when “modern biblical counseling” was stereotyped as “harsh confrontation.” Joyfully, that label is dissipating as biblical counselors embrace a biblical sufferology. Biblical counseling is addressing how to provide soul care through sustaining and healing for suffering. It is also addressing how to provide gentle, humble spiritual direction for sin and sanctification through reconciling and guiding. Paul Tautges’ Comfort Those Who Grieve is one excellent example of biblical counseling for suffering. Ian Jones’ Counsel of Heaven on Earth is a great example of compassionate care for both suffering and sin. My own work, Spiritual Friends equips readers with twenty-two biblical counseling relational competencies for helping those who are suffering and sinning to move toward growth in grace.

    The Rest of the Story

    Be sure to join us for Part II when I share top trends 5-1 related to biblical counseling from 2000-2009.

    Join the Conversation

    What top trends would you add to this list?

    What individuals, groups, churches, and books would you add to trends 10-6?

  • Our GPS for Anxiety

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

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 9:

    God’s Prescription for Victory Over Anxiety


    Note: For previous posts in this blog mini-series, please visit: Part 1: http://bit.ly/aHstk, Part 2:  http://bit.ly/20R01P, Part 3: http://bit.ly/HAoxI, Part 4: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF, Part 5: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt, Part 6: http://bit.ly/19vCXx, Part 7: http://bit.ly/21wPLg, Part 8: http://bit.ly/m50On.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. And, we need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.


    God’s Prescription


    In parts 1-8, we’ve been good medical students of the soul. Here’s a one paragraph summary of what we’ve learned.


    Anxiety is the fallen counterpart to God’s original design for the soul. God created us with vigilance—the ability to respond to threat with creative energy that protects others and depends upon God’s protection. Anxiety is our fear response (stuck vigilance) to threat with destructive energy that protects self through flight and/or fight behavior that fails to depend upon God or protect others.


    God’s Care and Cure: Our GPS


    How do we respond to destructive anxiety? How do we minister to someone battling stuck vigilance that seems to leave them in a perpetual state of alarm?


    Ultimately, the “cure” for anxiety involves embracing the reality that God is dependable even when life is undependable.


    However, in helping others, we can’t rush in with our answers until we’ve patiently heard their questions. We must enter souls before we direct souls. We must express God’s care before we offer God’s cure.


    What’s involved in that? Today I share an overview. Consider it our GPS: God’s Principles from Scripture.


    GPS # 1: Empathy—“It’s Terrifying to Experience Anxiety”


    It means compassionately identify with people experiencing overwhelming fear. Can you sense how frightening it is to experience anxiety? Can you empathize with and embrace your spiritual friend’s trembling body and anxious heart?


    We’ll learn how together.


    GPS # 2: Encouragement—“It’s Possible to Experience Peace Even When You Feel Worried”


    Over the course of several blog posts we’ll interact about the empathy process. Of course, we don’t want to stop there. People do want to change. They do want peace.


    So we’ll also explore how to move from anxiety to shalom—peace in a frightening, fallen world.


    Having embraced our spiritual friend through empathy, we’ll learn how to encourage one another to embrace Christ. What difference does it make that Christ never leaves us or forsakes us?


    We’ll find out.


    GPS # 3: Exposure—“It’s Horrible to Self-Protect”


    If you watch the show “Monk” then you know that Detective Adrian Monk struggles with OCD and a multitude of phobias. He has a very sweet assistant, Natalie. As much as I love the show and like the character Monk, it drives me crazy the way he mistreats Natalie by only thinking of himself. Monk’s friends and therapist enable him (in the bad sense of that word) by never or rarely confronting him with the self-centered side of his anxiety.


    Yes, we need to empathize and encourage.


    However, since anxiety includes self-protection rather than trusting God’s protection and protecting others, we also need to expose sinful self-protection. And, we need to expose God’s forgiving grace and His accepting heart.


    We’ll learn how.


    GPS # 4—Empowerment—“It’s Supernatural to Trust and Defend”


    Every once in awhile Detective Adrian Monk does something brave, something that protects Natalie or his other friends and co-workers. It seems almost miraculous. And, really it is. It is not natural for any of us to care about others. It is supernatural.


    How does someone who is terrified of life begin to trust God and defend others? How do they, how do we, tap into Christ’s resurrection power to overpower fear with faith, hope, love, and peace?


    Stick with us as we’ll learn how.


  • The Anatomy of Anxiety Part 8: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

    Posted on October 27th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 8:

    Anxiety, Worry, Fear, and Phobia—Oh My!


    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt. For part six, please go here: http://bit.ly/19vCXx. For part seven, please visit: http://bit.ly/21wPLg.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.


    What Anxiety Feels Like


    We use a host of terms for “anxiety.” Four of the most common are anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.


    Though these are distinct and can be contrasted, we can also identify common threads woven throughout each of these terms. They consist of overlapping, similar experiences.


    The following are actual ways that people have described to me their experiences of anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.


    *I’m constantly turned in upon myself and tuned in only to myself.


    “I’m consistently reflecting on myself and overly concerned with my life in a way that feels self-centered, obsessive, out of control, and abnormal.”


    *I’m hyper-vigilant in my response to threat and I always have a sense of foreboding.


    “I feel like something bad is going to happen that I can’t control or handle.”


    *My mind gets stuck in a state of alertness and preparation for danger, real or imagined.


    “I can’t seem to stop preparing for the worst.”


    *My fear is my survival system, like an alarm clock intended to startle me awake. But the button is stuck and the alarm won’t stop!


    “It’s like the old Lost in Space show with the Robot always screaming, ‘Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!’”


    *Anxiety is my present experience of a scary future.


    “I feel like the cowardly lion, afraid of his own shadow, and like all the Oz characters always chanting, ‘Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!’”


    *My fear retreats from the threat. Fear cringes.  


    “I don’t fight; I flee because I view the danger as bigger than my resources.”


    *My fear causes distortions. I seem weaker than I am. God seems weak, or uninvolved, or uncaring.


    “I’m David against Goliath, but I don’t see God in the scene.”


    *I sense a dangerous threat that I can’t control or surmount.


    “Life is too hard for me. This situation is too big for me. I’m a child in an adult world.”


    *I worry all the time. It’s a distracting care, a consuming thought.


    “I get stuck on the step of identifying every possible negative eventuality. I define the problem, but I don’t move on to identifying options, finding solutions, or taking action.”


    *I’m in a near constant state of dread or apprehension, usually not even triggered by any specific danger.


    “I’m swallowed in panic and confusion about my uncertain future. All I know for sure is that at least one of the potential negative outcomes is sure to occur!”


    The Rest of the Story


    Have you “been there, done that?” Do any of these real-life descriptions fit your real life? Or the life of someone you love? Someone you are ministering to?


    It’s easy for us, especially if these issues are uncommon to us, to quickly say, “It’s all sin. Just trust God. Be anxious for nothing. Pray.”


    Even if all of that advice were always true; it’s still trite.


    We change lives with Christ’s changeless truth…not with our trite truisms.


    I invite you to return for part nine and beyond as we’ll begin to share realistic biblical principles for overcoming anxiety—at its root, at its core.


    Our entire blog series is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.

  • Ten Snap Shots of Anxiety

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

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 6: Ten Snap Shots of Anxiety

    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.


    Where We’re Headed


    In our blog series on anxiety, we want to move toward biblical victory over anxiety. What want to explore together how to move from fear to faith, and how to help one another to move from anxiety to faith, hope, love, and peace.


    But before we do that, we have two more “stops” on our blog tour of anxiety. Today we want to summarize where we’ve been thus far.


    Then, we want to paint some real-life biblical portraits of anxiety—what it feels like and looks like. Where do we turn in the Bible to see such portraits? We’ll address that question next week.


    What We’ve Seen So Far: Ten Sign Posts for the Anatomy of Anxiety


    Let’s summarize our first five blog posts on the anatomy of anxiety.


    1. Emotions are e-motions. God designed them to set us in motion. They are part of the God-designed motivational structure of the soul. E-motions motivate action.


    2. God gave us the e-motion of vigilance to urge us to act quickly and courageously in response to a life need. When vigilance works, we have “mood order.”


    3. Vigilance is a faith response to threat. In our faith response, we love God by trusting Him, and we love others by protecting them.


    4. However, living in a fallen world, inhabiting unredeemed bodies, and tempted by an unloving enemy—Satan (the world, the flesh, and the devil), our vigilance can turn to hyper-vigilance, or stuck vigilance when we experience threat without faith.


    5. In stuck vigilance, instead of a faith response to threat, we have a fear response to threat that leads either to flight (anxiety, panic) or fight (anger, aggression). When e-motions misfire like this, we have “mood disorder.”


    6. So when fear strikes, we should be asking, “Where does fear drive me? Does it drive me to self-protection by flight or fight? Or does fear drive me to God, my Protector?”


    7. Faith that works does not shun vigilance. Rather, it controls vigilance. It refuses to allow the emotions to control the mind.


    8. God calls us to manage our moods and to master our emotions. We are not to ignore them, stuff them, or harm others with them. David is a biblical portrait of mature mood management. In Psalm 42, he is emotionally aware. “Why are you disquieted within me, O, my soul?” David then demonstrates soothing his soul in God. “Hope thou in God.” As Martin Lloyd-Jones says, David talked to himself rather than simply listening to himself!


    9. When anxiety stalks, faith wrestles. Faith talks to the self. “I know God will never leave me nor forsake me. I can do all things through Christ. I am more than a conqueror. Nothing will ever separate me from the love of God in Christ.”


    10. When faith wrestles anxiety, we refuse the fight or flight response. Instead, we choose the tend and befriend response. Trusting God’s protection, we refuse to protect our self. Instead, we courageously protect others for God’s glory.


    What About You?


    What are you doing with fear? With threat?


    They are opportunities to test Who and what you trust.


    The Rest of the Story


    I invite you to return for part seven where we’ll offer some real-life, biblical pictures of anxiety. The Bible is relevant. It addresses real people in real life with real issues. It paints accurate soul portraits of anxiety. We’ll point you toward over a dozen next time we meet.


  • Diagnosing Anxiety

    Posted on October 14th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 5: Why Am I Afraid?

    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. 


    What Is the Biblical Portrait of Phobia, Anxiety, and Fear?


    John tells us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).


    The word John uses for “fear” is “phobos.” It is used 138 times in the New Testament. Interestingly, the number one New Testament command is, “Fear not!”


    In a positive sense, phobos can mean reverence, awe, respect, and honor.


    In a negative usage, it means terror, apprehension, alarm, and arousal to flee. In Matthew 28:4, we have a word picture of phobos/phobia. When the Angel of the Lord appears, the guards fear and fall like dead men. Thus here it is used of paralysis of action.


    In Luke 21:26, phobos relates to uncertain expectations, terror, apprehension that fears the “What next!?”


    In Romans 8:15, phobos has the idea of slavish terror as Paul reminds us that we have been given a spirit of sonship, confidence, and relational acceptance, not a spirit of slavish terror about relational rejection.


    Fear of Ultimate Rejection


    John is quite specific in his portrait as he says fear has to do with punishment. Punishment means rejection, separation, condemnation—to be left as a loveless orphan, to be abandoned as a helpless child.


    To understand John fully, we must go back one verse. In 1 John 4:17, John says that “love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.”


    Confidence is openness, frankness, boldness, assurance, concealing nothing, no hiding, no shame, no fear. It is the courage to come boldly before the throne of grace—because of grace! It is the courage to express myself freely and openly in relationship because I know there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.


    So What Is Phobia, Fear, and Anxiety?


    So, how does the Bible picture and define anxiety, fear, and phobia? We might summarize it like this:


    “Phobia is paralyzing apprehension causing me to flee what I fear or to become paralyzed when facing my fear because I doubt my relational acceptance and security, because I doubt God’s grace. My ultimate fear is fear of rejection by God. That fear is the cause of all other fears in life.”


    What do I fear?


    “I fear God, but not in the sense of reverence and awe. I fear God’s rejection because I refuse to place faith in God’s gracious acceptance of me in Christ.”


    Why am I afraid?


    “If the God of the universe rejects me, then I’m on my own. And If I’m on my own, life is too much for me.”


    Making It Real


    Let’s make it real-life practical. Phobia/phobos/fear/anxiety makes me feel like:


    *“Life is unsafe. It’s too hard for me.”


    *”If I cry out for help, no one will respond. If I reach up to God, He won’t care because He has rejected me. He is ashamed of me and I am ashamed in His presence.”


    *”I won’t be protected. There’s no one who cares and no one who is in control. No one is flying this plane!”


    *”I am orphaned and left alone because no one cares about me. Therefore, I have to make life work on my own.”


    *”But I’m small, childlike, inadequate. I can’t overcome the 800-pound gorilla of life. While I  must face life alone, life is too much for me to face.”


    So How Do We Diagnose Fear?


    Phobias, fear, worries, and anxiety signify my failure to grasp and apply God’s powerful promise of gracious acceptance and protection. Fear and anxiety are caused by my refusal to accept my acceptance in Christ. If I believe Satan’s lying, condemning narrative, then I am left with no option other than trusting in myself. And I am far too small to handle life on my own.


    Fear becomes a vicious cycle. Fearing God’s rejection, I reject God’s help, and I end up feeling helpless to face life.


    The Rest of the Story: There Has to Be a Better Way


    There has to be a better way, don’t you think? I sure hope so!


    John gives us that better way when he tells us that “perfect love casts our all fear” (1 John 4:18).


    Join us again tomorrow when we examine biblical principles for overcoming anxiety with faith, hope, and healing love.

  • Grace and Truth

    Posted on September 14th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments


    The American Association of Christian Counselors’ World Conference
    Grace and Truth

    I’ll be leaving Tuesday morning for and returning Sunday afternoon from the AACC’s 2009 Grace and Truth World Conference.

    Every other year the AACC hosts 5,000-t0-7,000 pastors, lay people, educators, psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, missionaries, spiritual directors, and spiritual friends.

    Great worship, plenary speakers, several hundred ministry “booths,” 40 pre-conference presentations, and scores of track presentations combine with connecting to make this a premier event.

    I’ll be presenting a Pre-Con Wednesday (9-Noon) on Developing a Biblical Methodology of Biblical Counseling.

    Then Friday morning I’ll lead a Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) Track on How to Practice Comprehensive Biblical Counseling. There are six other great BCSFN Track presentations throughout the week.

    Friday night I’ll faciliate, along with Dr. Ian Jones and Dr. Ron Hawkins, the BCSFN Mixer: sharing our vision for biblical counseling and spiritual formation, hearing from among our over 5,000 BCSFN members how we can further equip them, and dreaming together.

    I’d love to meet any of you in person. If you’re attending, be sure to look me up.

    I’ll also try to Twitter and Facebook along the way to keep you posted.

    For more info: http://www.aacc.net/

    The big event is in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry–it’s like a city all unto itself. Massive.

    In Christ’s Grace,


  • The 20 Most Influential Books on Methods of Biblical Change

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

    Kellemen’s Christian The Best Of Guide

    The Best of Books on

    Methods of Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation


    Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide: Making your life easier by finding, summarizing, evaluating, and posting the best resources on a wide variety of topics from a Christian perspective.


    The Twenty Most Influential Books on

    Methods of Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation


    Note: The following books focus on the methodology, practice, skills, relational competencies of biblical counseling and spiritual formation. They do not highlight theology/theory (see last week’s post for that: http://bit.ly/T75vO) (if it made last week’s list, it is not in this week’s list). The books on this week’s list focus broadly on methods of helping people to grow in Christ. They do not highlight how to help people with specific “issues” in living (such as depression treatment, anxiety treatment, etc.).


    Note: For the sake of space, I have not reviewed each of these books. However, I do have a 55-page document that reviews over 125 books on Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation: http://bit.ly/sYx1U.


    Note: The fuller document explains that I do not endorse everything in all the books below. That’s why my subtitle to this post is: “The Twenty Most Influential” rather than “The Best Of.”




    Adams, Jay E. The Christian Counselor’s Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973.


    Adams, Jay E. Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970.


    Clebsch, William A. and Charles R. Jaekle. Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective. New edition. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1994.


    Clinton, Tim, Archibald D. Hart, George Ohlschlager, eds. Caring for People God’s Way: Personal and Emotional Issues, Addictions, Grief, and Trauma. Nashville: Nelson, 2006.


    Collins, Gary. The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling for People Helpers: Relating the Basic Teachings of Scripture to People’s Problems. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1993.


    Crabb, Larry. Soul Talk. Nashville: Integrity, 2005.


    Crabb, Larry and Dan Allender. Encouragement: The Key to Caring. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.


    Fitzpatrick, Elyse, and Dennis Johnson. Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009.


    Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Twenty-fifth anniversary edition. San Francisco, Harper, 2003.


    Huggins, Kevin. Friendship Counseling. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003.


    Kellemen, Robert W. Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Revised Edition. Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 2007.


    MacArthur, John F., Jr. and Wayne A. Mack. Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005.


    Moon, Gary W. and David G. Benner, eds. Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls: A Guide to Christian Approaches and Practices. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. 2004.


    Ortberg, John. The Life You’ve Always Wanted. Expanded Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.


    Peugh, Roger and Tammy Schultz. Transformed in His Presence: The Need for Prayer in Counseling. Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 2005.


    Powlison, David. Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2005.


    Welch, Edward T. When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1997.


    Whitney, Donald. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991.


    Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. San Francisco: Harper, 1998.


    Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. Reprint edition. San Francisco: Harper, 1991.


    Important Stuff


    *Your Guide: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, is the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries (www.rpmministries.org) through which he writes, speaks, and consults to equip God’s people to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. He blogs daily at http://rpmministries.blogspot.com.


    *My Necessary Disclaimer: Of course, I don’t endorse everything in every article, book, or link that you’ll find in Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide. I report, you decide.


    *Your Suggestions Are Welcomed: Feel free to post comments and/or send emails (rpm.ministries@gmail.com) about resources that you think deserve attention in various categories covered in Kellemen’s Christian The Best of Guide.

  • The Tale of Two Counselors

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

    How to Care Like Christ

    Part II: The Tale of Two Counselors


    Blog Series Note: How to Care Like Christ seeks to equip lay people, pastors, and professional Christian counselors with the biblical knowledge and relational skills to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    Several years ago, “Tim” (not his real name) shared his story with me. His uncle had repeatedly sexually abused him while he was in elementary school. Tim never told anyone about the damage in his soul until he finally found the courage to tell a pastoral counselor. Hear Jim’s words.


    “Bob, it was incredibly hard. I felt so ashamed, but I got the words out—sobbing as I shared. The second I finished, my counselor whipped out his Bible, turned to Genesis 3, and preached a thirty-minute message on sin. Bob, it wasn’t even a good sermon! But worse than that, I knew that I was a sinner. I’m clueless as to how my pastoral counselor intended to relate that passage to my situation. At that second, did I need a sermon on my personal sin?”


    Tim did not return for his second session with his pastoral counselor. Instead, he arranged an appointment with a professional Christian counselor. Here is Tim’s rendition of his second counseling experience.


    “Bob, at first things went well. My counselor seemed to be able to relate to me, seemed to have compassion for what I went through. But after two months of counseling I was ready to have him help me move beyond sympathy and empathy. I knew that I wasn’t loving my wife and kids like Christ wanted me to. But my counselor kept telling me that I was too hard on myself and that I was too damaged to love the way I wanted to love.”


    The tale of two counselors. One hears a sordid story of sexual abuse and immediately responds to his sobbing counselee with a sermon on sin. The second hears his counselee’s longing to move beyond damage to dignity, from victim to victory, and informs him that he’s too disabled to function fully. These two diverse approaches illustrate the ongoing divide concerning what makes biblical counseling biblical. Just what is biblical one another ministry?


    Tim’s story forces us to ask ourselves some hard questions. Practical questions such as:


    *In your own life, do you tend to be more on the “truth/Scripture side” or more on the “love/soul side”? Why?


    *Has anyone ever interacted with you like either of Tim’s counselors? What did it feel like? What were the results?


    *What view of the Bible and of “people helping” might have motivated Tim’s counselors?


    *What content does a person need to know to be a biblical counselor, pastoral counselor, lay counselor, spiritual friend, soul physician, mentor, discipler, or people helper?


    The Rest of the Story


    Return tomorrow when we explore how to make one another ministry truly biblical.

  • How to Care Like Christ

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

    How to Care Like Christ

    Introduction: What to Do After the Hug


    What do you do after the hug? Or, if you’re a guy, what do you do after the fist bump and the grunt!


    Whether you’re a pastor in local church ministry or a lay person sipping coffee with a hurting friend at Starbucks or McDonalds, you know what I’m talking about. We can hug. We can care. We can sense our friend’s pain over ongoing suffering and their frustration over besetting sins. But sometimes we struggle, don’t we, to know what to do next? In fact, knowing what to do after the hug can feel like a maze, like we’re lost without a GPS.


    That’s why we want to learn together what to do after the hug. We want to see how the Bible is our GPS: God’s Positioning System! We can learn how to use the Bible accurately, powerfully, and lovingly. We can learn how to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. We can learn how to care like Christ.


    How do I know that we can? Because the Apostle Paul says so in Romans 15:14. Like him, I am convinced that you are full of goodness (Christlike character), complete in knowledge (biblical content), and competent to counsel (relational competency) one another (Christian community). Through How to Care Like Christ we will grow together in character, content, competency, and community.


    In another letter to another group of struggling Christians, Paul provides our framework for people-helping. “I loved you so much that I gave you not only the Scripture but also my own soul because you were dear to me” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Between saying he loves them and saying they were dear to him, Paul sandwiches Scripture and soul, truth and love. We wrap our purpose around these two themes: Scripture/truth and soul/love.


    My Scripture/truth goal is to equip you to become a soul physician who offers your parishioners, your counselees, and your spiritual friends Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation that changes their lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    The world says, “All we need is love.” They downplay any need for absolute truth. They dismiss any thought that we need God-inspired insight for living. And in our day, even the church minimizes truth. I had a church ask me, “Could you just breeze through this truth part and focus almost all your time on the practical how-to part?” As if God’s Word is impractical? We must learn to think like Christ—to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    My soul/love goal is to equip you to become a spiritual friend who cares like Christ as you offer others sustaining empathy, healing encouragement, reconciling enlightenment, and guiding empowerment. Some Christians say, “All you need is truth. Just preach the Word.” But God’s Word says we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We must learn to love like Christ—to care like Christ.


    Let the journey begin!