• 7 Biblical Truths That Must Shape Life and Ministry

    Posted on November 11th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    7 Biblical Truths That Must Shape Life and Ministry 

    In our post-modern generation shaped by relativism, even the Church is filled with differing views on the largest issues of life and ministry. 

    The question that defines us more than any other is: 

    “Upon what do we base our life and ministry?”  

    Here are seven truths that must shape the way we see life and ministry. I call them: 

    Life’s Seven Ultimate Questions and Answers.  

    They teach us what makes biblical ministry truly biblical.  

    1. Question 1: “What is truth? Where do I find answers?” 

    Answer 1—The Word: “God’s Word is sufficient, authoritative, profound, and relevant.” 

    All that we need for life and godliness we find in Scripture (the written Word). In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (the Living Word). We live and breathe every nano-second not by bread alone but by the Word of God. Therefore, in life and ministry every question is ultimately a God-question and every answer is fundamentally a God-answer. 

    2. Question 2: “Who is God?” 

    Answer 2—The Creator: “God is Trinitarian.” 

    God is not the “alone with the alone.” The God of the Universe is, always has been, and always will be Three-in-One, communitarian, Trinitarian. Before God created, He related. Thus God created us not out of need but graciously from the overflow of infinite Trinitarian fellowship. Reality is relational because God is Trinitarian. Therefore, in life and ministry our purpose is to glorify God as we combine Scripture and soul, truth and love. 

    3. Question 3: “Who am I”? 

    Answer 3—Creation: “We are created with dignity by God in the image of Christ.” 

    I am not an accident. I am fearfully and wonderfully made with the purpose of worshipful fellowship with the God of the universe and sacrificial one-another fellowship with my fellow human beings. Together we are to enjoy God by glorifying Him forever as we fulfill our calling as stewards of His universe. Therefore, in life and ministry our goal is to reflect increasingly the inner life of Christ. 

    4. Question 4: “What went wrong?” 

    Answer 4—The Fall: “We sinfully and foolishly choose god-substitutes over God.” 

    The only explanation for sin and suffering is humanity’s fall into rebellion initiated by Adam and Eve and continued to this day by every person who ever lived. We sinfully forsake and attempt to replace God because we have lost our awe of God and chosen to love false gods. Therefore, in life and ministry we must recognize and confess that our core problem is spiritual adultery. 

    5. Question 5: “Can we change? How do people change?” 

    Answer 5—Redemption: “We must apply our complete salvation to our daily sanctification.” 

    Our only hope for change is our acceptance by faith of God’s grace in Christ. Those who are new creations in Christ can change because they have already been changed. Justification (our new pardon), reconciliation (our new peace), regeneration (our new purity), and redemption (our new power) provide the four-fold basis for daily growth into the image of Christ. Therefore, in life and ministry our identity in Christ is monumental. 

    6. Question 6—“Where am I headed? What is my destiny?” 

    Answer 6—Glorification: “Heaven is my final home.” 

    For those who enter into eternal relationship with God in Christ, our destiny is endless relationship and purpose—sacred communion within God’s holy and happy family. The biblical answer to the question of ultimate destiny ought to impact drastically how we live today—our future destiny impacts our present reality. Therefore, in life and ministry, reading the end of the story makes all the difference in how we respond to present suffering and how we overcome besetting sins. 

    7. Question 7—“Can I help? How can I help?” 

    Answer 7—Sanctification/Ministry: “We dispense God’s cure for the soul—grace.” 

    Grace is God’s prescription for our disgrace—the disgrace of sin and the disgrace of suffering. Grace is God’s medicine of choice for our sinful and suffering world. God calls us to be dispensers of His grace which sustains and heals us in our suffering, which reconciles and guides us in our sin, and which moves us toward sanctification in Christ. Therefore, in life and ministry we must be dispensers of grace. 


  • 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!

  • The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Science of Psychology

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

    The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Science of Psychology


    Yesterday I connected with a new friend on Facebook. He posed some vitally-important questions to me about the sufficiency of Scripture and the science of psychology.


    These are much-debated and extremely-significant issues. His wording of the questions is the best, most succinct that I’ve seen.


    Questions to Ponder


    “Bob, I’d like your opinion about some things:


    1. Do you think there are any useful principles that the science of psychology has come up with that are in harmony with the Word of God?


    2. In your opinion are all of the truths that a Christian psychologist can effectively apply to his counselees found in the Bible?


    3. If not, can you give any examples of such truths that are not found in the Bible?”


    Your Thoughts?


    So what do you think? How would you respond to each of these well-worded questions about the relationship between the sufficiency of Scripture and the science of psychology?


  • Free Resource with 100s of Verses on Identity in Christ

    Posted on July 31st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Who I Am In Christ, Part Ten


    Knowing our identity in Christ is vital to glorifying God, defeating the lies of Satan, and ministering powerfully.


    Download for Free the Entire Series of Verses:


    If you’ve enjoyed and benefited from our posts on Who I Am In Christ, then here’s a special gift for you. Go here for a free download of every verse from the entire series: http://bit.ly/eqNQ


    Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!


    You’ll also enjoy and be empowered by our next series of posts on Who I Am To Christ.


    Here’s how these two sets of verses and spiritual principles are related:


    1. Who I Am IN Christ: This is our position in Christ. It relates to our being saints. These verses focus on our regeneration—our new nature in Christ.


    2. Who I Am TO Christ: This is our relationship to Christ. It relates to our being sons and daughters of the King. These verses focus on our reconciliation—our new family.


    The Original Source: Soul Physicians


    Note: Excerpted from Soul Physicians: http://bit.ly/7vaE

  • 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.”



    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.


  • 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?









    *Emotional Intelligence

    *Sexual Abuse Recovery

    *Overcoming Sexual Addiction

    *Other: _______________


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



    *Equipping Lay People


    *Church Growth


    *Change Management

    *Conflict Resolution

    *Church Discipline


    *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.

  • Intimate Marriage Counseling

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

    Counseling and Abuse in Marriage

    Part 5: Intimate Marriage Counseling


    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”?


    The Extremes


    Since I began this series nearly a week ago, the reactions have been all across the spectrum. I’ve had extremes from:


    *“Counsel the couple? Are you kidding! If my husband abused me there would be a one-word counsel: ‘leave!’”


    *“Claiming abuse is just an angry, petty, immature woman’s response to a firm but loving husband. My counsel to her would be two words, ‘grow up!’”


    Hmm. That could make biblical marriage counseling for abuse quick: “Leave!” “Grow up!”


    Let’s avoid these extremes, and let’s examine how to truly help a couple involved with abuse in their marriage.


    Remembering the Basic Principles


    In Part 1 (http://tinyurl.com/mcr26y), we highlighted “safety first.” Use the resources of the Body of Christ and the civil authorities to protect the abused spouse.


    In Part 2 (http://tinyurl.com/qhrvhw), we introduced the following principles of biblical marriage counseling:


    *Infuse Hope


    *Be for the Marriage, Not on Either Spouse’s “Side”


    *Be for God’s Glory


    *Focus on Win/Win


    *At Times Win/Offend: Confront One Partner, Comfort the Other Partner


    *Help Spouses to Understand Maleness and Femaleness


    *Help Spouses to Understand Biblical Roles of Husbands and Wives


    In Part 3 (http://tinyurl.com/mgdz6b), we discussed basic principles of biblical counseling with an abusive spouse. By now the abusive spouse is repentant, and is empowered to stop the abuse.


    In Part 4 (http://tinyurl.com/lnakln), we equipped you with an overview approach to counseling someone being victimized (sinned against) by spousal abuse. By now you have helped the victimized spouse to practice bold love. You have helped this spouse to begin to grant forgiveness, while still holding the abusing spouse accountable for changed behavior.


    Now in Part 5, we return to the issue of counseling the couple together. Remember, prayerfully, safety has been reestablished, the abusive spouse is repentant, maturing, and changing, and the abused spouse is practicing bold love. Both want to make their marriage work. Both want to be in counseling.


    You’ve set the ground for effective biblical marriage counseling for abuse. Which means, to the surprise of some, that you work on the marriage! In other words, you don’t only work on the abusive spouse. You don’t only focus on the abusive spouse. The three of you work together on and for the marriage.


    Have the Couple Relate to Each Other in Your Presence


    Many counselors seem ill-equipped for marriage counseling. They simply make it “individual counseling in front of each other.” They counsel the husband while the wife watches. Then they counsel the wife while the husband watches.


    Yes, in marriage counseling there are brief times when the focus will be on one spouse or the other. However, to make this the totality of marriage counseling loses the power of joint counseling.


    Instead, get the couple talking to each other. Have them interact. Have them relate in front of you.


    As they relate intimately and intensely, the real person will come out. The real relationship will unfold before you. In intimacy, you can’t hide. You can’t fake it for long.


    Notice that you are not simply having them talk about their marriage. That simply becomes “he said, she said.” You are having them talk to each other.


    As they do, the layers come off. The real person is exposed. Their patterns of relating become clear. Now you have plenty of “material” to deal with.


    The husband may have been telling you what a wonderful, godly husband he is and how his wife is at fault. Then, right before you, you see him trying to intimidate her. Or you witness him being weak and childish.


    The wife may have been telling you what the perfect Proverbs 31 wife she is and that her husband is always at fault. Then, right before you, you see her emotionally abusing her husband. Or you witness her playing the mother or the little girl.


    Getting them relating to each other is like being a fly on the wall.


    No more, “he said, she said.” Now it’s, “they are doing.”


    Expose Their Sinful Relational Styles and the Idols behind Them


    James 4:1-8 asks and answers the greatest marital counseling question: “What causes the fights and quarrels among you?” Picture yourself seeing these fights and quarrels right now as you counsel the couple as they relate in your presence.


    (Of course, you have already exposed the sinfulness of the emotionally abusive wife or the mentally abusive husband. And you are continually working with that wife or that husband on their victory over those sins.)


    Now is the time to expose their sinful failure to love and respect one another. Now is the time to expose their sinful failure to live out their godly maleness and femaleness. Now is the time to expose how together they are failing to live out God’s relational calling and pattern for their marriage.


    Additionally, as James explains, now is also the time to expose the sinful idols behind their sinful behaviors. James says that the cause of our sin in our homes is sin in our hearts. I sin against my spouse when I demand that my spouse meet my needs. I demand that my spouse meet my needs when I refuse to humbly go to God. I sin against God by replacing Him with my spouse. Since no human being can replace God, my spouse lets me down. I then manipulate my spouse. I then retaliate against my spouse. The vicious cycle of sin has replaced the victorious cycle of growth.


    Infuse Repentance, Grace, Forgiveness, and Christ’s Resurrection Power


    Now you help the couple to repent together before and to God. Now you help the couple to see their absolute need together for God’s grace. Now you help the couple to ask and to give forgiveness to one another for their behavioral sins against God and each other and for their heart sins against God and against one another. And now you help them to put off their old sinful patterns and to put on their new resurrection power in Christ.


    There’s so much more we could say here. In our seminary program, we spend 75 hours of graduate training in the how to of biblical marriage counseling. But these principles from these first five blogs should at least start the helping process.


    Where Do We Go from Here?


    Of course, some will be saying, “But should they even be in counseling? Isn’t abuse grounds for divorce? Therefore, instead of seeing a counselor, shouldn’t they be seeing a lawyer?”


    We address the controversial issue of abuse and divorce in our next post.