What if … and How Long?

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-by Wendy Bowman

A close follower to ‘what if’ is often the lament; How Long oh Lord, How long?

Certainly, we have the big picture, longing for Christ’s return to our earth as it groans in anticipation with earthquakes and wild weather patterns.

What of the micro scale, our day to day longings?

Betty-Anne Van Rees, cambridge, shares of a dear elderly woman, who for many years now, has been praying daily for the biblical counseling movement to come to Canada, to be an organized, readily available gift to the body of Christ.

Well dear Eunice, your prayers are being answered! We have a website, a board and now our first Canadian Biblical Counselors Coalition (CBCC) conference is booked for February 2017! We are ready for take off!

Thank you Lord, that many of us will be able to humbly serve in this answer to the people’s prayers of the past!

‘What if’…?

2016-12-31-what-if-by Wendy Bowman

I think we can all acknowledge the futility of spending too much time in the land of ‘what if?’  … or do we? When life is swirling out of control or just plain busy, isn’t it easy for our thoughts to go to ‘what if THIS was different?’ What if this person was out of my life? What if I won $10,000? Wouldn’t life be so much easier. Wouldn’t it be better?

Ah, yes, it is easy to go down the ‘what if’ trail.

But when we turn away from ‘what if?’ to Jesus, our Lord graciously draws us back with words of refocus, patience, and endurance (Matthew 6:25-34).

The problem is not really with the ‘what ifs’, it is in what we do with them. For many of us connected to the Biblical Counseling movement, our hearts may have been tempted over the years to become discouraged. But instead we asked, “What if a Biblical Counseling movement actually happened here in Canada? What if a unified body of believers created a place where like-minded Christ-followers could connect and serve one another?” I am thankful our worrisome ‘what ifs’ did not come to pass, but instead God’s loving wisdom and perfect timing did.

Let us praise Him together for this mighty work that He is doing through the Canadian Biblical Counseling Coalition!

Counseling the very ill

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Biblical counseling is committed to the Bible as its infallible guide to understanding the very real challenges that people face and how to address them. In my experience as a biblical counselor, I’ve found that a biblical understanding of sickness is something I regularly need to assist with. Clearly the world’s two most common perspectives are incomplete. A modern medical view might address us as nothing more than a physical, biochemical machine in need of repair. A modern spiritual view might emphasize the power of positive thinking and our ability to make ourselves well through positive energy. The Bible is clear that as human beings we have both a physical body, and a soul/spirit; and that these two parts of ourselves are deeply intertwined and influence each other. A biblical view of sickness needs to address both body and spirit; but it also needs to take God’s will and glory into account. Yes, sometimes it is God’s will to heal and make well for our good and His glory; and God welcomes us to pray for physical and spiritual restoration. Sometimes, it is God’s will to bring Him glory in the midst of our illness, and to die and be with Him in a way that brings Him glory. Over the years I have been greatly impacted by brothers and sisters I know such as Rachel Barkey who have demonstrated for me what this looks like. Let us not read too quickly past what God’s Word teaches us in several places. The folly of seeking only the physician’s help and not also seeking the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 16:12). The fact that sometimes God uses sickness to humble us and to keep us from sin (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). These examples, and many others are part of the rich and multi-faceted biblical view of illness that are part of counseling biblically.

Three Essential Truths to Remember When Someone Rejects your Counsel

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You know the saying, You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Sadly it’s true among people as well.

In a perfect world, all of our wise advice would be accepted wholeheartedly, both in formal counseling situations and in informal conversations. But we know this is not always the case. There are times when loving, sensible advice is rejected and a counselee continues on the path to destruction.

What do you do when a person seems unteachable? Colin Mattoon explains…
Three Essential Truths to Remember When Someone Rejects Your Counsel

The Heart of the Matter

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When I’m first building a relationship with someone I’m counseling, it is common to hear frustration and weariness from them as they describe their challenges and circumstances.

In those early stages of counseling it is not obvious to them, or to me, what patterns of thought and belief might be compounding their challenges.

One of strengths of biblical counseling is its focus upon getting down to the level of the heart (Proverbs 20:5). I consider it a humbling privilege to assist someone in understanding and adjusting the attitudes of the heart, and I continue to be amazed at how Spirit-enabled heart change can radically transform what originally seemed to be incomprehensible challenges.

Each time I meet with a brother or sister in Christ, I am formulating heart x-ray questions to help clarify that understanding. Two questions I often begin with that can be phrased in different ways depending on the conversation, are these:
1) What do you want that you are not currently getting?
2) What are you currently getting or experiencing that you wish you weren’t?

The principle that my response to my circumstances is as important as the circumstances I find myself in is an important aspect of truly biblical counseling.
Consider, just for a moment, how differently you might counsel someone who is responding sinfully to being sinned against with a clear understanding of this truth.

Fear and the Gospel

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Fear is a common experience to humanity, ranging in severity from mild panic to all-consuming, debilitating terror, with of course many degrees in between. In many cases, a fear response can be completely justified because there are definitely frightening situations in life that inevitably produce fear. But again and again Scripture instructs us not to be afraid. The command ‘do not fear’ is repeated over three hundred times in the Bible.

Therefore, in the midst of terrifying situations, there must be a way to dispel fear and walk in faith. While it’s possible for all-consuming circumstantial fear to be replaced with the reverential fear of God, change may not be easy. How does the gospel, through the ministry life, death, and resurrection of Christ, affect our fears? Jeff Forrey’s three-part article speaks to how the gospel transforms our fears.

How the Gospel Transforms our Fears Part 1

How the Gospel Transforms our Fears Part 2

How the Gospel Transforms our Fears Part 3

 

God is Changing Us

The Christian life is all about change. Sanctification is the process of growth as a believer that starts at salvation and continues until we meet Jesus face to face. As we walk through this life, we are ever-changing more and more into the likeness of Christ as the Spirit works in and through us. This is why wise counselling should be transformative, change-oriented, and grounded in the doctrine of sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Philippians 2:12-13).

David Powlison, CCEF’s executive director, shares two stories about his own walk with Jesus that illustrate the variety of methods God uses to change people.

Click here to read God is Changing Us – But How?