• Spiritual Formation: Through HER Eyes

    Posted on October 6th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments
    Much of the time we view spiritual formation through less than half the church–because we ignore the remarkable contribution of amazing women of the faith. A new book co-authored by myself and Susan Ellis addresses this imbalance. Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith gives voice to the voiceless. Bill Higley and Chelsea Huizing have posted a review of Sacred Friendships at Bill’s excellent web site: http://bit.ly/124G6n

    Here’s their review.

    The purpose of this stop of the “Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith” bog tour is to review chapters 1, 2, 10, 11, and 12. Before I begin, there are a few preliminary things I want to say: First, thank you to Bob and Susan for allowing me this opportunity, it is my (and Chelsea’s—see below) privilege to be invited to participate in the blog tour covering the release of Sacred Friendships. Second, I must confess I’m cheating a little in my assignment. I have asked one of my former college students, Chelsea Huizing, whom is now in our school’s graduate Counseling program (specifically, the Master of Arts with an emphasis on Counseling and Writing), to help me in this process. I think it only fitting that someone like Chelsea be a part of this process. For in her educational preparation for future vocational ministry, she is in many ways standing of the shoulders of the heroes of the faith highlighted in Sacred Friendships. Moreover, she is a talented writer with a keen mind and she does an outstanding job with her assignment. So, a big “thank you” to Chelsea

    Therefore, in the division of this task, I (Bill Higley) will introduce and review chapters 1 and 2, and Chelsea will cover chapters 10-12. Here goes . . .

    Chapter 1 – So Great a Cloud of Witnesses: In Her Own Words.

    Chapter 1 of Sacred Friendships is crucial to understanding not just the content of this text, but also its presentation. In this first chapter, Bob Kellemen and Susan Ellis introduce us: 1) to their research process and intent; 2) to what we might call their “hermeneutical process” or “paradigm” for interpreting that research; and, 3) to the format with which they will present their findings.

    To understand these three aspects fully, I would recommend you to go back and read Dr. Kellemen’s previous works, Soul Physicians and Spiritual Friends, in which he carefully presents the foundation for his philosophy of counseling, and Beyond the Suffering , where he applies this counseling model to the spiritual history and contributions of the African American church in America. Sacred Friendships is built on this same philosophy of counseling and application model.

    That being said, it is necessary for the authors to reintroduce (or, first introduce) the Soul Care and Spiritual Directions counseling framework used for this book, and that is the purpose of chapter one. In their Introduction, they describe their approach as a: “. . . Cross-based, four-dimensional model (sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding) of soul care and spiritual direction as a grid to map the marvels of historical women’s ministry. This four-dimensional model is the traditional, time-tested, and widely-recognized pattern for understanding Christian spiritual care” (p. 2). Therefore, because it is so crucial to ones appreciation of this text, the authors dedicate chapter one as a sort of crash course in this counseling model.

    Without this brief introduction to the Soul Care and Spiritual Directions process the reader would be lost. As a matter of fact, Kellemen and Ellis call it the “Treasure Map” they will follow in their walk through the history of the contribution these women saints have made to the church (pp. 11-12).

    In presenting the model in this first chapter, Bob and Susan provide a helpful overview the Soul Care and Spiritual Direction on pages 14-15. The rest of the first chapter is a more careful unfolding of these concepts, through which they give further explanation of how they will use the model to decipher and apply the contributions the women heroes of the faith featured in Sacred Friendships, have made to the church.

    Most significantly, through this approach, Sacred Friendships combines the “grace and truth” perspective of Christian counseling and spiritual formation process, and skillfully uses it as an interpretive grid from which to read—and apply—these historical examples of the women they will introduce us to. Thus, chapter one introduces this quite helpful, “Treasure Map,” which will guide the reader through the rest of the text.

    Chapter 2 – Handmaids of the Lord: The Forgotten Church Mothers

    After the necessary introduction of the controlling metaphor of the book, chapter two wastes no time in taking us to the first line-up of the stars of this work. In this case, five “forgotten” (or maybe, more accurately, historically ignored) mothers of the church.

    First, in this chapter we meet Vibia Perpetua, whom is the author of “the earliest know document written by a Christian women” (p. 27). Perpetua was an early church martyr. But it is her example of persistence and boldness in Christ that marks her contribution to the church.

    Bob and Susan show the influence and power of their interpretive construct, when they conclude with this statement about Vibia Perpetua: “Here we witness not only Perpetua’s courageous example of persistence, but also her model of biblical confrontation. She provides riveting testimony to Christ’s power at work in the inner life of a Christian woman whose spirit could never be overpowered” (p. 30).

    Next we meet three women who demonstrated powerful spiritual influence towards three of the most significant early church Fathers: Macrina the Elder, grandmother of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa; the mother of Gregory of Nazianzus; and, Anthusa, the mother of John Chrysostom. The authors’ introduce us to the each of these special ladies, and in so doing, show us how each modedl

    Appropriately, the chapter closes with an introduction to the mother of the most influential of all the early church fathers, Augustine. In their writing, Bob and Susan give us a needed context from which to better understand Augustine. In Augustine’s work, “Confessions,” we learn that his mother Monica “…. stands out above all others as the spiritual guide and anchor, indeed, as the determinative relationship in his life” (quoting Ranft, p. 37). How influential was his mother Monica on Augustine? She was his “best spiritual friend” (p. 40).

    This chapter leads us right to the heart of the message of this book. And in it, we are introduced to five huge spiritual influencers in the lives of the early Church Fathers. In all these cases, the legacy of their contribution to our soul care and spiritual formation would eventually run through their sons or grandsons— who are all recognized as pillars of the early church. And each one of these men was influenced significantly in their spiritual development by the ladies featured in this chapter.

    We do well to learn more about each of these women, for in so doing; indeed, our own souls are care for.

    Chapters 10-12, Sacred Friendships (Reviewed by Chelsea Huizing)

    The careful consideration given to each woman of the faith in chapters 10 thru 12 of “Sacred Friendships” quickly makes the book personable yet informative to the reader. The authors touch on several names that the reader is probably not aware of directly, but the connections to famous men make the names at least vaguely familiar. There is no fooling around or unnecessary introductions; the reader delves directly to the ‘meat’ of the stories, learning more about these women who had their hands on the development of the impressive men they were connected to.

    Each woman is looked at in detail, starting with her own personal life growing up and the spiritual background from which she came. It almost feels like you are reading a history book, capitalizing on spiritual influences and educational background that each woman had. The familiarity this attention to detail gives quickly serves to bring the reader to a personal, self-searching level of connection with each character. If you do not see elements of yourself in each person described, you almost certainly know someone who is similar in character or circumstance to at least one of the women within these chapters. And these connections keep the reader going, eager to learn more about these women and the potential they have for teaching lessons even today.

    The authors make no attempt to hide the faults of these women; indeed, the faults are described in full, perhaps to help the reader understand that they were merely human, as well, simply living day to day as best as they could, and seeking God all the while.

    The hardworking mother with overwhelming duties; the happy and forgotten housewife; the woman who is constantly fretting over things she cannot control; the neglected friend; and the companion who never ceases to struggle for and serve others, all the while battling thoughts of uselessness and depression. Such faults in women of faith did not serve to hinder their ministries, but rather drove them closer to the Lord.

    Details about the circumstances of their Sacred Friendships, and the specific ways that the Lord used them in the lives they ministered to, serve as gentle nudges to the spirit as one reads the accounts. Not one of the women was the same as the other, and these differences are highlighted; yet not diminished. What the authors describe as “spiritual soul care” takes on many different faces, as different as the personalities that these women displayed, and as varied as the roles they played. These differences serve as encouragements as you read further into each story: if these women can be used, and be used so greatly, by the Lord, than anyone can be.

    At the end of each description, you feel as though you have sat down and read a letter from the life of each woman; there is no disguising of words, no mincing of emotions. Many sources are used to give color to the stories, both facts from history books and quotes from personal letters; they serve to paint ever clearer pictures of how these women lived, loved and ministered within their friendships and companionships.

    No matter the era, the culture or the background of each woman, God saw fit to use their humanness and His Grace in their lives to draw blueprints for what can rightfully be called Sacred Friendships. Chapters 10 through 12 serve as more of a challenge and exhortation to the reader than anything else: If God can use these women, with their faults and trials, in such a mighty way, perhaps anyone can be used. The authors’ challenge throughout the chapters is clear and valid. The women in these pages are not meant to be merely a history lesson or a sympathetic letter to whoever will take the time to read, but rather a nudge in the right direction on how to develop Sacred Friendships in our own lives.

    Blessings
    3 John 8
    Bill H.

  • Book Review: Dance in the Rain

    Posted on August 21st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Dance in the Rain:

    His Joy Comes in the Mourning

     

    Book Review Details

     

    *Title:  Dance in the Rain

    *Author: Angela A. Dockter-Harris 

    *Publisher: Tate Publishing (2008)

    *Category: Christian Living, Grieving

     

    Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, Sacred Friendships, and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

     

    Recommended: Dance in the Rain is a unique book that offers beneficial and practical biblical grief tools for healing and hope in Christ.

     

    Review: A Journal for Your Journey

     

    Angela Dockter-Harris has compiled a very practical and moving grief manual written from a Christian perspective. Rather than providing a theology of suffering, Harris offers a remarkable workbook for the person experiencing grief.

     

    Part One: Journaling

     

    Dance in the Rain is in two companion sections. Part one is simply and appropriately entitled “Journaling.” Three brief, focused chapters entail this section: “Remembering the Person I Love,” “This Gift I Leave You,” and “The Loss.” Harris introduces each chapter with four helpful overviews: what the chapter is about, what the reader can expect to find, to whom the chapter applies, and the goal of the chapter.

     

    In “Remembering the Person I Love,” Harris offers seventeen journaling suggestions for the loss of a parent, spouse, adult, child, grandparent, sibling, or friend. She then provides twenty-seven distinct journaling topics for the loss of an unborn child, infant, toddler, or young child. The chapter concludes with eleven journaling topics to compose a special tribute to the person who has passed away.

     

    Having just experienced the loss of my father-in-law within a week of reviewing these questions, I could easily apply them to his life and his death. The questions were moving, appropriate, and healing. For example, some of the tribute questions included, “The most important lesson I ever learned from the person I love is…” “What I most admired about this person is…” “The most precious gift I ever received from this person was…”

     

    The only “negative” in this section relates to the lack of space allotted for responses. A few brief lines would hardly allow someone to record “The funniest story I remember about this person…” I did not find any suggestion in the book recommending that the questions be typed out so that lengthier responses could be given. Perhaps even a supplemental e-document or e-book or CD could be included in future editions. I understand that the idea of the book is for it to be given as a gift—written in and completed—which is a beautiful thought. Perhaps I’m just too wordy!

     

    Chapter two, “This Gift I Leave You” is created uniquely for the person facing death. Dozens of thought-provoking questions lead the reader to opening up about his or her life to those who will be left behind. Harris shares sixty-one topics to probe and ponder, many with sub-topics. Taken together, this would be an amazing gift of healing—both for the dying person and for those left behind.

     

    The questions are candid, like, “I want to share with you my stages of emotions: When I was angry and why…” “Some things I have really struggled with in my life…” They are also moving, such as, “My life’s legacy. I want to be remembered for…” “My favorite memory of us…” They can also be used to pass on a legacy. “Things I hope you try/do before you die.” “Things I hope you never do, ever, never…” Such compiled responses would truly be an awesome gift.

     

    Topic sixty-one has many sub-points, all related to “Thoughts about my funeral.” So many people wait far too long (or never share/plan) to discuss their wishes for their funeral. Harris guides readers in how to map out one’s own funeral plans. Rather than macabre, her suggestions are touching, relevant, and practical.

     

    Even after all of these questions, Harris lists thirty-two additional topics to write about. They include such gems as, “My/our wedding day.” “Don’t be angry that I am gone.” “My advice on relationships.” The author then leaves ten blank, lined pages so that the book could be written in and given as a gift.

     

    Chapter three addresses, “The Loss.” This section helps the reader to move from shock and denial to candor. As the reader faces the reality of the loss, the healing process can begin. This section is brief—two pages and eight questions, which was a tad surprising after the depth of the preceding two chapters.

     

    Part Two: Bible Study User’s Guide

     

    Part two (“Bible Study User’s Guide”) is actually repeated twice. The first section is to be completed by the person grieving. The second section is to be completed by the person to whom the book is being left as a journal.

     

    The first chapter in this second section addresses “When a Loved One Isn’t Saved.” This is a common question that Christians have, and, unfortunately, one ignored or minimized all-too-often in Christian circles. Harris faces the issue, the pain, the confusion, and the potential guilt and shame, head on.

     

    Overall, her Bible study questions and Scriptures are theologically sound. However, readers, especially Reformed, Calvinistic readers, and/or all those who highlight the sovereign will of God, will likely take issue with some of Harris’ choice of words. “If your loved one died not knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, I want to assure you that He [God] did everything possible in the lifetime of your loved one to give them every opportunity to know Him” (p. 94). “God gives each and every one of us as many opportunities to know Him and to choose Him as He [God] can” (p 95).

     

    Obviously, the whole “God’s sovereignty/human responsibility debate” is age-old. And death-and-dying issues elevate the emotional heat in those discussions. I’m not suggesting that a work-book like this needed a theological tome on the topic. However, the aforementioned wording might appear to diminish the all-powerful, all-wise, sovereign work and will of God. This is something that I am confident the author never intended to convey.

     

    Harris includes additional Bible study chapters on “Anger,” “Sorrow,” and “Acceptance.” Each chapter provides verses to read and space to respond to pertinent questions. These chapters assist the reader to “work through” the stereotypical stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—all from a biblical perspective.

     

    A Very Valuable Resource Tool

     

    Dance in the Rain is a unique book that offers beneficial and practical biblical grief counseling tools. As a pastor-counselor-professor, and as an author of a forthcoming book on grief (God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting), I absolutely recommend this workbook. I see it as extremely valuable for parishioners, counselees, and spiritual friends. Frankly, every pastor and Christian counselor who deals with grief issues should have a dozen copies on hand.

     

    http://bit.ly/18QrNP

     

  • Book Review: Strength in Numbers

    Posted on August 7th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Strength in Numbers:

    The Team Approach to Biblical Counseling

     

    Book Details

     

    *Title: Strength in Numbers

    *Author: Dr. Mark E. Shaw

    *Publisher: Focus Publishing (2009)

    *Category: Church, Biblical Counseling, Ministry

     

    Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, Sacred Friendships, and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

     

    Recommended: Strength in Numbers is a helpful introduction to biblical counseling done two-by-two by God’s people in the local church.

     

    Review: Biblical Counseling Two-by-Two

     

    Dr. Mark Shaw, author of Strength in Numbers, is passionate about team biblical counseling. By “team” he means counseling in tandem—in teams of two. The title, subtitle, and cover image (a team of eight holding hands) initially led me to think the book was about how to become a church where biblical counseling principles of Christian living infiltrate the DNA of everything a church does. Though Pastor Shaw’s writings support that concept, readers should realize that “team” in this book means co-counseling with one other person.

     

    Team Biblical Counseling

     

    Shaw builds his approach to two-person counseling from passages such as Luke 10:1; Mark 11:1-2; and Mark 6:7, where Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two. Shaw also uses Paul’s ministry with Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy to support his tandem counseling theory. Additionally, Shaw shares a litany of reasons why tandem counseling can be better for the counselors and for the counselee.

     

    What Shaw pictures and promotes involves two counselors in every counseling session. Sometimes his model would involve a “Paul/Barnabas” pairing of a more experienced biblical counselor mentoring a counselor-in-training. Other times his model includes a “David/Jonathan” pairing of two equally experienced counselors working together with a counselee in ongoing sessions.

     

    Wisely, Shaw acknowledges that “the Lord is not limited to one model of ministry…” (p. 41). In other words, while Shaw prefers and practices two-person counseling, he does not claim that it is the only right approach or that “traditional” one-person counseling is “wrong.” This is important since other verses could be marshaled that teach and illustrate one-to-one ministry, and theological and logical reasons could be offered in support of individual ministry. Also, church history is replete with examples of individual spiritual direction from the Church Fathers, through the Reformers, to the Puritans.

     

    What Is Biblical Counseling?

     

    Even before addressing team biblical counseling, Shaw introduces his readers to what he means by biblical counseling. First, he distinguishes it from secular psychological therapy and from “integrationist” approaches (which he defines briefly as “mixing” biblical truth and man-centered theory).

     

    Second, Shaw relates biblical counseling to soul care. “Biblical counseling reclaims the care of souls to the body of Christ” (p. 9). He seeks to reclaim the care of souls to the rightful owner—Christ and His church.

     

    Third, he offers definitions of biblical counseling. “The goal of ministry in a biblical counseling and discipleship context is to lovingly confront someone when their thinking is unbiblical” (p. 13). “The biblical counselor is called to speak the truth of God’s Word in the love of the Holy Spirit to hurting souls” (p. 18). “Biblical counseling is micro-discipleship, meaning that we focus upon one specific problem area at a time in an effort to help the counselee grow in Christ” (p. 33).

     

    Shaw is to be applauded for his clear emphasis on both the truth and love components. Some biblical counseling has been caricatured as neglecting the relational, loving aspect. But Shaw consistently insists on integrating truth and relationship. “Let’s counsel others with the balance of compassion and doctrine. Let’s present the truth of God’s Word in the love of the Holy Spirit” (p. 13).

     

    Shaw’s definitions and illustrations in the book can give the impression at times that biblical counseling is only or primarily problem-focused (confrontation of unbiblical thinking, focusing upon specific problem areas, etc.). This is a common definitional emphasis issue in modern biblical counseling.

     

    Biblically and historically, “counseling” has been broader than sin-focused, confrontation-focused, and problem-focused. It has, instead, focused comprehensively on the person’s whole life through soul care that offers biblical sustaining and healing for suffering and through spiritual direction that offers reconciling and guiding for struggles against sin, both with the goal of personal sanctification that glorifies God.

     

    While Shaw’s emphasis on love, on hurting souls, on counseling as whole life discipleship, and on returning soul care to the church surely indicates a comprehensive approach to suffering and sin, readers might be better served by more expansive definitions and illustrations of the nature of biblical counseling. A Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed approach to spiritual friendship empowers biblical counseling to blend seamlessly into the fabric of the ministry of the Body of Christ.

     

    The Nuts and Bolts

     

    While Strength in Numbers will not teach readers how to “do” biblical counseling, it does teach pastors a model for implementing team biblical counseling in the local church. Like other books on lay counseling in the church, Shaw suggests a three-tiered ministry. The level one minister is the supervisor; the level two ministers are leaders-in-training; and the level three ministers are lay biblical counselors.

     

    Shaw outlines a step-by-step developmental process. The level one leader is to be trained, typically by an outside biblical counseling accrediting organization, and then brings that training back to the local church. That primary supervisor then recruits a team of leaders-in-training, duplicating the training received outside. That group then recruits lay people from the church who receive at least thirty hours of biblical counseling training. Once the training is completed, co-counseling begins. Ongoing theory/practice equipping is required. Shaw addresses issues of advertising, organizing, administration, assigning cases, and other nuts and bolts matters.

     

    Some Minor Formatting/Editing Issues

     

    While not central to the message of the book, Strength in Numbers has some minor formatting problems that can distract from the message. Some quotation marks are straight and others are cursive. Some book titles are underlined and some are not (most current books use italics for book titles). On some occasions when underlining is used for emphasis, the underlining goes to the end of the words while at other times it goes beyond the end of the words. Unlike most professionally formatted books today, Strength in Numbers double-spaces between paragraphs (accept the few times when this is inconsistent). A few times quotation marks are lacking at the beginning of a quote. A few times there are no spaces between sentences. At times exclamation points are used excessively. Again, these are formatting/editing issues and not content matters, but they can divert attention from the message. Hopefully future additions will give the book a more polished, professional look and feel.

     

    Team Biblical Counseling in the Local Church

     

    Strength in Numbers is a helpful introduction to biblical counseling done two-by-two by God’s people in the local church. It encourages readers to counsel based upon the sufficiency of Scripture and it encourages pastors to equip their people for the work of ministry. It is biblical, practical, and balanced. And, other than the aforementioned formatting issues, it is an easy, enjoyable read.

     

  • Book Review: Seeing with New Eyes

    Posted on July 30th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Seeing with New Eyes:

    Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture

     

    *Title: Seeing with New Eyes

    *Author: David Powlison, Ph.D.

    *Publisher: P&R Publishing (2003)

    *Category: Church, Biblical Counseling, Ministry

     

    Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Beyond the Suffering, Sacred Friendships, and God’s Healing for Life’s Losses

     

    Recommended: Seeing with New Eyes offers a Christ-centered, comprehensive model for building a biblical theology of biblical counseling based upon a biblical psychology of human nature.

     

    Review: The Creator’s View of His Creation

     

    Author David Powlison is one of the foremost theologian-practitioners in the modern biblical counseling movement. Seeing with New Eyes compiles articles previously penned (over a period of two decades) by Powlison, all centered around the theme of a theology of biblical counseling.

     

    Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

     

    Powlison defines counseling very practically as “intentionally helpful conversations.” His goal in Seeing with New Eyes is to equip readers to look at such spiritual conversations through God’s perspective—this encompasses the “new eyes” of the title. We see everything in life and ministry entirely differently when God’s eyes become our lens.

     

    Powlison uses the common and very helpful model of creation, fall, and redemption to unfold Scriptures’ view of people, problems, and solutions. It is through this three-fold conceptual grid that Seeing with New Eyes seeks to assist the church in the care and cure of souls.

     

    The premise is simply profound: Does God have a take on counseling? Powlison answers in the affirmative: God’s gaze has everything to say about the myriad issues counseling addresses. Seeing with New Eyes aspires to listen well, to look closely, and to think hard within the patterns of God’s gaze.

     

    Opening Blind Eyes

     

    Powlison organizes his thoughts in two parts: Scripture Opens Blind Eyes and Reinterpreting Life. In part one, readers enjoy a biblical theology of biblical counseling from three books of Scripture: Ephesians, Psalms, and Luke. In part two, readers benefit from a biblical psychology of biblical counseling: what is the nature of human nature and why do we do what we do?

     

    In several chapters on Ephesians, Powlison seeks to understand how Paul uses Scripture and thus how we should do so in practical theology. He then explores Paul’s view of God and the titanic difference our image of God must make in our lives and ministries. In a final chapter on Ephesians, Powlison uses Ephesians 5:21-6:4 as a model for understanding human relationships. Throughout this section Powlison artfully crafts a pastoral theology for real people with real life issues and a real God with real answers.

     

    Biblical counseling has sometimes been slow to emphasize suffering, instead focusing almost exclusively on sin. So it is encouraging to see Powlison spend two important chapters on the why and how of suffering, using the Psalms as his guide. These chapters provide a biblical sufferology useful both for the person going through suffering and for the person called along side to help the sufferer.

     

    His chapter on Luke is a sermon on Jesus’ sermon on worry. What Powlison does here is reflective of his entire purpose: he takes one section of Scripture and not only applies it, but models how we can apply it in biblical counseling.

     

    For readers wanting a full-blown, systematic, detailed theology of biblical counseling, Seeing with New Eyes may fall a little short. However, that was not Powlison’s purpose. However, for readers wanting an excellent introduction into how to view and use Scripture to begin to develop a biblical model of biblical counseling, Seeing with New Eyes is an excellent primer.

     

    What Is the Nature of Human Nature?: Why Do We Do What We Do?

     

    Having shared a foundational model of biblical counseling theology-building, Powlison now illustrates how to build a biblical psychology—a biblical view of “personality theory.” Put practically, he asks and answers the question, from the perspective of the Creator, “What makes us tick?”

     

    The strength of this section is found in Powlison’s insistence on building a view of human nature not coram anthropos (from the perspective of humanity), but coram Theos (from the perspective of God). We can understand people via people, or we can understand people via God. Powlison rightly chooses to understand the creature not through the creature but through the Creator.

     

    These nine chapters cover, in overview form, almost every issue a biblical counselor needs to ponder when developing a Christian approach to human nature. In each case, Powlison shows insight into the world’s perspective, shares his view of God’s perspective, and does both with a keen eye to practical application and ministry implications.

     

    Chapter 7 goes for the big picture of human motivation theory. It explores God’s “X-ray” of what He sees when He looks at why we do what we do. The 35 X-ray questions are worth the proverbial price of the book—practical, theological, psychological, motivational, convicting.

     

    Chapters 8 and 9 present a theology of desire and affections. Again, biblical counseling at times has been seen (and perhaps has been somewhat guilty of) to deemphasize desires, affections, and longings. These two chapters go a long way toward reemphasizing the biblical importance of and place of desire, rightly understood, in the Christian’s life. Powlison accurately demonstrates that desire and affection are good terms and core aspect of God’s design, but that because of the fall we must always battle the temptation to orient our desires away from God.

     

    No pie-in-the-sky theology, Powlison shows the practicality of a theology of desire/affection in chapter 10 when he addresses the question, What if your father didn’t love you? How does a Christian counselor deal with the legitimate but unmet desire (see James 4:1-4) of “father love”?

     

    Similarly, Powlison’s chapter What Do You Feel? explores another area that at times has seen limited press in modern biblical counseling. How do we understand emotions biblically and how do we mature as emotional beings? Powlison strikes a good balance between living for feelings and ignoring feelings.

     

    In his final chapter, Powlison attempts to address the complex issues surrounding bio-psychology: what is the role and relationship of the body to the mind? Powlison, in the space allowed, provides a nuanced approach. For instance, Powlison summarizes supportively the historic rule of thumb in biblical counseling, “See a doctor for your body. See your pastor, other pastoral counselors, and wise friends for your heart, soul, mind, might, manner of life, and the way to handle sufferings.” But perhaps because the mind/body issue is so complex in its God-designed interworking, this chapter at times felt a little less “deep” and a little too “definitive.” The possible interrelationship of mind/body, brain/soul at times seems a bit minimized. That said, Powlison does acknowledge the potential ambiguity and does encourage the biblical counselor to keep abreast of accurate medical research.

     

    Living Life Well

     

    Seeing with New Eyes is about living life well for God’s glory. It is a surprisingly cohesive book given that it pulls together over a dozen articles written over nearly two decades. It provides a consistent sampler of how to erect a biblical, God-honoring, God-following approach to people-helping. It  supplies a compass, a GPS, a directional marker, a map to guide, without being a straight-jacket to follow blindly. The gaze of Christ does in fact shape the spiritual conversations between real people in the real world.