Suffering in Betrayal


Those who are closest to us have some of the greatest power to cause us pain. When someone close to us betrays us; the suffering is significant.

One of our workshop breakout sessions will focus specifically upon suffering in betrayal.

How do we communicate biblical hope to those suffering in this way?
How can we comfort and counsel them well?
What unique realities does a counselor need to be aware of when counseling someone who is suffering in betrayal?

Glen Slingerland of Elisha House will lead a workshop designed to answer these practical questions.

Our 2018 Canadian Biblical Counseling Coalition conference  Let’s talk hope in suffering is fast approaching.

Why not register TODAY?
We’d love to welcome you in person March 22&23 More details about the upcoming conference.


What do you say when someone is suffering deeply?


I will never forget an experience I had many years ago. I was travelling with a co-worker on business who was also a Christian. As we travelled and spent time together he began to share with me the very painful and challenging circumstances he currently found himself in. Wanting to be helpful, I told him about a great book I’d finished recently that I’d found very helpful. I don’t remember his exact response; the gist of it was that he’d read it, and that it hadn’t helped him in the least, and that he was feeling stuck and hopeless.

I felt stupid and very inadequate, I could think of nothing to help this man. I knew there had to be answers in Christ, but I didn’t know what they were. This was many years before I discovered biblical counseling, or had been equipped with a theology for ministering to the hurting.

I felt stupid and very inadequate, I could think of nothing to help this man.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in similar circumstances. I think most of us have found ourselves here at least once in our lives.

Equipping people to think clearly about suffering and to minister lovingly and effectively to those are hurting is something that each and every one of us will have opportunity to do at some point in our lives.

That is why we chose to make our 2018 Canadian Biblical Counseling Coalition conference theme: Let’s talk hope in suffering.

We warmly invite you to join us and renew your mind and thinking from God’s Word on this important topic and to learn and discuss some of the practical implications that go along with it.

Why not register TODAY?
We’d love to welcome you in person March 22&23 More details about the upcoming conference.


CBCC Board – Fond Farewells and Warm Welcomes

huntersAs we reflect upon the past year and prepare for our upcoming conference we are reminded that we recently said farewell to our dear brother Herb Hunter and his family who have accepted the Lord’s call and relocated to Knysna, South Africa. If you’d like to learn more about what Herb is up to and what you can be praying for, visit their ministry website


jenniferWe are also blessed to welcome Jennifer Winger to our board. Jennifer’s greatest passion is to teach and equip the next generation of women to know, worship and cherish Jesus through knowing His Word. A native of Ontario she has been living in Newfoundland for the last 20 years with husband Paul and two children James and Rebecca. Active in her church at Calvary Baptist, as Director of Women’s Ministry she is presently completing the Foundations Certificate with CCEF and is a Registered Clinical Occupational Therapist, a graduate of McMaster University. You will have an opportunity to meet Jennifer and the rest of the CBCC Board at our upcoming 2018 Conference.

It’s 2018 … and we’re excited!


2018 has arrived and God has been faithfully guiding us with new ideas on how to improve our service to Canadian churches by promoting biblical counseling. We are excited, and we greatly desire your prayers. Please be praying for us as we:

  • Continue finalizing arrangements for our 2018 conference in March. We’ve been delighted with the Lord’s faithfulness so far and we’ll be updating our agenda shortly with more details.
  • Finalize ways to bring you more regular and diverse information and resources as we seek to improve our website.
  • Seek additional Canadian’s who are passionate about biblical counseling to work with us and to consider serving alongside us on the CBCC board.

We are so thankful for God’s work, and for your prayers; they are very evident as we continue to fulfill our mission at CBCC in 2018.

Should I pursue further training in Biblical Counseling?

futher training-Betty-Anne Van Rees

This post addresses a question that was submitted at our February 2017 conference. We would like to offer answers to the questions that we were not able to address during the conference.

Q: If we are all counselors (Romans 15:14 ) and equipped, and if Scripture is sufficient (which I believe it is) is there any merit in getting any formal training? If not, why are there successful biblical counselors with medical, M Social Work, PhD, M Div, M Theology? Basically, should I bother with additional education through organizations like ACBC, CCEF, etc?

A:  Great question and extremely meaningful for anyone serving the Lord in any capacity. We have the Holy Spirit within: guiding, bringing truth to mind, convicting of sin and giving light to the eyes in regard to those we seek to serve. How could we need more than Him? I guess the question is, “Is education or training ‘more’ than the Holy Spirit? Or is it actually a means of pursuing and deepening relationship with God? I’d like to suggest it can absolutely be the latter.

Choosing to pursue training in any field is a position of humility. It says, “I would benefit from learning from others who have gone before me.” It acknowledges that others have invested time and energy pursuing wisdom from God and intimacy with Him in ways that I have not yet done. It is only moderately different than sitting under the preaching of our pastors or the teaching of our Bible study leaders.

Secondly, pursuing training is also one way in which we live out the biblical principle of body life. We are not islands unto ourselves. We are a complexly interconnected unit living out the life of Jesus who is our head. Body life is a means of grace and education and training is a means of body life. As we counsel those we are privileged to influence, both in formal settings and in the coffee shop, the fact that we have sought training is a vital modelling of God’s design for the interconnectedness and interdependence of His people.

Lastly, while it is entirely possible for the Holy Spirit to guide one of His own in speaking truth and grace into another’s life with no training of any kind, it is also possible and even right to seek to learn how to serve fellow Christians with increased excellence. Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians rings down through the centuries: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24) While we plant our hope squarely in the generous provision of God through His gospel, we can pursue a wide variety of means of growth that will help us serve His kingdom purposes more effectively.

The Scripture guides us to a beautiful balance in this. When we draw truths such as “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)  together with “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6) we will find the Lord leading us on a path that is empowered by Him and full of His glory.

Laying the Gospel Over a Controlling Heart

2017-07-29 GospelControllingHeart-Lee Lewis

Pride in the human heart in its essence longs for and looks to control, and yet there are so many expressions of a controlling heart.  In its essence the controlling heart says, “I know better than God.”  Christians spend a lot of time looking for new and clever ways to deal with control when the Gospel perfectly speaks to this issue.  In this short piece I want to briefly look at several criteria that point towards a controlling heart while laying the Truths of the Gospel over the control.

In the book of Galatians Paul speaks to a type of control often described as self-righteousness or legalism.  Paul says in Galatians 3:2-3, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  The control being addressed in this these verses deals with their mindset of adding to the Gospel for righteousness.  

The Galatians had adopted the belief that justification does not just come through Christ alone; it also comes from the works of the law.  They are so taken in their hearts by this that Paul describes them as being “bewitched”.  The control in their hearts sees the Gospel as a partial justification for their sin.  Their righteous works and pursuits must carry them the rest of the way.  As I read this I wonder how could they be so foolish.  They saw Christ crucified with their own eyes.  If they had a propensity towards self-atoning control in their hearts, then the reality is that our hearts are not that different.  

There seems to be a subtle temptation with Christians to buy into the lie that spiritual maturity moves us past the Gospel.  The nature of the flesh is controlling and self-ruled, while also looking for ways to self-atone.  Controlling our own justification or sanctification with the law in no way gains us more favor with the Lord.  There is no current or future version of you apart from the Gospel that pleases God.  Paul’s admonishment is clear that faith in Christ alone justifies us before a holy God (Galatians 3:3-5).  

So, how do we know when our hearts are controlling?  By laying the Gospel over our hearts, here are several areas to prayerfully press into:

  1.  How often do you approach (perceived) wrongs with relentless pursuit for justice?

Be slow to answer this question.  Seeking justice is not necessarily wrong.  The Bible talks about God’s perfect justice.  Isaiah 61 talks about God’s love for justice.  In these situations control in our hearts can be revealed when we either do not want to wait on God’s perfect justice or desire to take His justice several steps further.  Both are evidence of a controlling heart.  

The Gospel frees us up here.  As fallen finite beings we do not have the capacity to bear God’s justice.  Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’”.  Christ absorbed God’s judgment so that we can be set free.  A heart of control declares Jesus’ payment for our sin no good enough.  Going back to Paul’s admonishment early in Galatians 3 he calls this foolish.  

  1.  How often or how quickly do you give your résumé of good works to others?

You might have to think about this one a little bit. If the Gospel is seen as entry level or elementary Christian then the pursuit for spiritual maturity will be through a means other than the Gospel.  A controlling heart in this way does not rely on the Gospel for sanctification.  In these situations, the process of spiritual growth is manufactured by good works, which is why a consistent comparison to others has to happen.  

Again using Galatians 3 Paul says in 3:1-3, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.  Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  The same Gospel that saves us also sanctifies us.  The gift of Christ’s crucifixion is forever best.  

  1.  Do you have a lack of trust in general, especially with the Lord (although we would rarely see or acknowledge a lack of trust in him).

I find trust to be a very loaded idea to begin with.  People often vacillate between trust issues with most people and putting too much trust in people all together.  Trust in and of itself is not a bad thing.  It is so often misunderstood and therefore misplaced (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Someone lacking trust in general controls by keeping people at arm’s length.  The distance creates a sense of regulation that allows a person to feel safe.  The Bible has so much to say about trusting in God, but the Gospel presses into this firmly.  If Christ is our hope and trust then we are built on the rock.  From that foundation the allusion of control is washed away and rendered to Jesus.        

  1.  How often do you shut down emotionally or rise up with aggression in the face of perceived threats?

Both of these responses are birthed out of a controlling heart.  A perceived threat makes itself known and control is quickly seized in a way that is familiar and reliable.  When a person is shutting down they shut out a threat by drawing inward while retreating to self.  Rising up is the same control that retreats to self but instead of going inward the response bursts outward to display or gain control.

Isaiah 30 describes control as making an alliance with something or someone other than the Spirit.  In response to an Assyrian threat the children of God quickly scheme to make a plan.  They are simply assessing the threat that is upon them and trying to control the outcome.  God calls them to rest and repentance, which is the picture of letting go of control.  In Christ there are no threats that can condemn us.  This is the picture in Romans 8:31-39.  In Christ, no charge can come against God’s elect.

Letting go of control:

  1.  Admit that your heart is controlling.

Recognize that this is a manifestation of pride and failure to believe the Gospel in the particular area of your life/heart.

  1.  Confess the area of control that looks to self as sufficient above Christ’s sufficiency.

Admitting this to the Lord and bringing it into the light with other brothers and sisters is to take steps of repentance.  It is to once again align our hearts with the Greatest Command (Matthew 22:27-34-40).

  1.  Repent of pride.

Our sinful hearts posture outside of the Gospel is always going to be pride-filled.  As the Spirit convicts of sin it is important to acknowledge those sins at their root – pride.  Using Isaiah 30 again the call is to forsake self-made alliances and surrender to God’s redemptive plan.

  1.  Replace control by laying the Truths of the Gospel over all areas of the heart (especially vulnerable areas).

Jesus is enough!  His work on the cross perfectly satisfies our need for justification and perfectly fuels the work God is doing in our lives through sanctification.  Relinquish control in your hearts by looking to the beauties of the Gospel over and over again.

The questions above are just several examples I have used in my own life and those I have counseled. The hope is to prayerfully lay our hearts and lives before the Lord for him to reveal areas of control.  Ultimately all control of the heart is a lack of trust in the Gospel.  Turning away from a controlling heart is to acknowledge and confess the self-attempting pursuit of redemption apart from Christ.  Our controlling efforts only lead us to disappointment and despair and or more pride.

What are you thinking?

2017-07-01 What are you thinking.jpg

by Wendy Bowman

I recently journeyed with a young woman whose thought world was full of troubling notions, ideas, fears and worries. Some thoughts were swirling in a cesspool of sexually perverse activities, some were striving to reconcile the reality that none of those activities had come to pass …… yet …… Some were admonishments to herself that these things were just ‘silly’, an attempt to halt them for sure, and more dominantly, there were relentless thoughts of guilt and shame that these kind of thoughts could ever be present for a born again follower of Christ.

What do we offer, and more importantly, does the Word have anything to say to all this?

Well-meaning people have suggested that medication can dull the relentless push of our thought world and the ensuing fear and worry that comes with the realization that we are capable of such things. And this indeed, can numb or slow things somewhat for some people. Others may offer that, behaviourally, we simply need to redirect our thoughts to other things, focusing on what may be considered more appropriate or logical.

From my perspective, as a biblical counselor, I remain very grateful for the reality that my God and His Living Word is actively able to ‘separate bone and marrow’ and fight the war with me! What does this look like?

On one level, it is important to recognize and revisit the reality of what happened in the garden. Man and woman were created in the image of the triune God and walked and talked with Him, naked and unashamed. But after the Fall, they knew the difference between good and evil and were ashamed. The purity of mind was forever altered making us open to good and evil thoughts. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … meaning all of us have sinful thoughts.  What we do with them is up to us.

Another component to consider is the reality that our thought world is very complex. Biologically, there is much going on. Our thinking is profoundly influenced by current diet, rest, and activity patterns as well as overall health (or lack of). It is compounded by past memories, sensations, truths, lies and imaginations. These can be fed, stored, released, and/or brought into submission to God. Christian neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, has written an excellent resource called ‘Who Switched Off My Brain’ to aid in better understand the links and fallout of our thought-world.   Her extensive research demonstrates how the brain stores thoughts and the impact they have on us (toxic or healthy).  She unfolds for us the pathways our brains (hearts) travel when we give into temptations and savour a thought too long, and conversely, putting off those that hinder, taking captive those that are wrong, creating new connections (synapses) and healthy, correct thinking.

This leads to a number of important tools we are given. It is crucial to consider what components are sinful in the sea of thoughts. These need to be recognized, repented of and stopped. So often truth or non-sinful thoughts are merged in with lies and wrong thinking, so careful journaling and a good listener can help identify which need to go! In Eph. 4:17 ff. we are told to no longer ‘walk’ in the futility of our mind, rather, engaging in the truth that we have the mind of Christ, we are to no longer ‘walk’ (think) in the old way. With the prayerful invitation, the Holy Spirit helps us to ‘renew the spirit of our minds’ moment by moment if need be, so that we can put off, those thoughts that hinder. This must be done before we savour them at all, which involves much accountability when our mind has practised wrong thinking for some time.  

Be mindful of the truth that we are not alone in all this. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). This is a great time to call on the help of a mature Christian mentor asking for accountability for the putting off and putting on of correct thinking.

Another tool is known as the’ think list’, found in Philippians 4:8, which offers a comprehensive picture with which to create an extensive personalized list of thoughts to put on. Again, it must be underlined that this must be done with the help of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we are just seeking change at a behavioral level, and this is not only ineffective in the long run, it is not God-honoring.

To summarize, as sinners living in a fallen world, we are all subject to sinful thought patterns. But thanks be to God, He has given us much to work with, to not only fight the wrong thoughts, but to enjoy and flourish with good thoughts. So take heart and think again …

An Open Letter to Those Frustrated By Their Progress in Sanctification


Dear friend,

We all love it when life leaps into forward gear and we make all kinds of progress. Problems just seem to fall away. Perhaps in your life you’ve had a season like that, a season when your life seemed to shine and flourish. Maybe it was when you first became a believer or during some period when you were very well nurtured by good community and wise input.

Then there are those seasons where things go very slowly. You wonder, “Is this all there is?”  

David Powlison continues with a pastoral heart … read more.

A Biblical View of Suffering – Part 1

A Biblical View of Suffering part 1 graphic 16x9

Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. It often interrupts our lives with such force and leaves us reeling. Whether a phone call in the middle of the night, a positive test result, a pay cheque that never seems to cover the expenses, an unexpected pregnancy, a prodigal child, anxiety and depression, or a loved one in crisis, difficulty comes to all of us. Although trials range in severity, they are a part of our fallen world.

What if we dared to believe God allows difficulty to come into our lives for a greater purpose? What if, instead of running from trials, we embraced them, believing God is up to something good?

James MacDonald defines trials this way: “A trial is a painful circumstance allowed by God to change our conduct and our character.”  God uses trials to affect both our behaviour and our hearts.

There are three main questions about suffering we should ask as we examine this topic:

  1. What does God want us to know about seasons of suffering?
  2. Why does God allow suffering in our lives?
  3. How should we respond to suffering? In other words, how can we allow suffering to fulfill God’s intended purpose in our lives?

What does God want us to know about seasons of suffering?

  1. We should not be surprised by suffering, instead we should expect difficult times.

God promises in His word that we will suffer (James 1:2, John 16:33, 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Peter 4:12-13). Sometimes we give a false impression of what Christianity is like, communicating to people that if they follow Christ their lives will be rosy. This is not the case. Scripture says trials will come. We ought not to let them take us by surprise. If we know that difficult times are coming, we can prepare ourselves for them by using every opportunity to get to know our God. As we meditate and memorize His Word we have tools when live gets hard.  Take advantage of the good times to get to know your God better so you can be equipped and prepared when the storms of life hit.

  1. Suffering proves we are children of God.

According to Hebrews 12:5-8, God disciplines His children, and not coincidentally another word for discipline is trials. God disciplines those He loves. Parents who love their children discipline them and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions so they will learn. God brings difficulty into our lives to teach us and shape us.

Also, as believers we have the privilege of believing in Christ and suffering for His sake (Philippians 1:29).

  1. God is not the author of suffering, but He allows it (Job 1-2).

While Satan is the author of evil, mankind chose suffering by falling into sin in the Garden of Eden. Many people shake their firsts at God or wonder why a good God could allow such horrific suffering in the world. Perhaps we need to point the finger at ourselves. We suffer because we live in a sin-soaked controlled by the enemy of our souls.

Think about the life of Job. God allowed Satan to cause Job to suffer. He didn’t author Job’s suffering, but He allowed it.

Even if we understand that God is not the author of suffering, it is sometimes still difficult to accept that He has allowed the painful circumstance to come into our lives, because then we realize He could have stopped it from happening. However a belief in a good God quickly concludes He can use it for His glory and our good.

  1. God’s character remains the same, regardless of our circumstances.

Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. What you believe about God is so important, especially during trials. When life gets hard we are most tempted to doubt God’s goodness. How could a good God allow such a horrific thing? We doubt His sovereignty. God must be powerless to stop this. Or we doubt His love. God doesn’t care about me. Or perhaps we doubt His presence. Where is God in all of this?

Most people make one of two conclusions about God when trials come. Either God is powerless to stop this (doubt His ability) or God mustn’t be good (doubt His character).

But what if God wants to reveal Himself to us in new and deeper ways through the hard things He’s allowed into our lives? What if He wants to prove to us that He will never leave us? What if He wants to make us realize that He is so faithful?

  1. Things are not as they seem.

Second Corinthians 4:16-18 describes our affliction as light and momentary. Of course it certainly doesn’t feel that way, but in view of eternity it is. How long will you have to suffer? Just a little while longer. In the midst of difficult times, our focus should be on the things unseen, specifically on what God is doing in and through the suffering.

Things are not as they seem. God is doing a work in and through you in the midst of your suffering. He has a far greater purpose than you can even imagine. We have to realize that what we can see and hear and touch is not the whole story.