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Trusting God in a Year of Surprises and Challenges: The Word of Hope Ministries Story
There are four criteria I look for in a Biblical Counseling Resource:
1. A strong Gospel-centered approach.
2. Personal application to my own heart.
3. Equipping for my personal ministry as a counselor, mentor and trainer.
4. Equipping for my students to grow their knowledge and skill as counselors and mentors.
Dr. Bob Kellemen’s new work “Gospel-Centered Counseling” from the Equipping Biblical Counselors series did not disappoint in any of the four criteria. The first of a two-part series, this book offers a Biblical approach for helping others. The second book to be released later, “Gospel Conversations” promises to pick up where this book left off by training readers to develop Biblical Counseling competencies. This is an important equipping series for a new generation of Biblical Counselors.
Strong Gospel-centered approach:
Bob is quick to explain the term “gospel-centered” so that the reader understands that this is not just a “bandwagon” he has jumped on or the use of a “buzzword.”
He has done an excellent job explaining what gospel centeredness truly is and why it is a necessary approach to counseling.
“I’d prefer to think gospel centeredness reflects Paul, who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16). Introduction, p.15
Bob weaves case studies in and out of this text. Anytime we read case studies, of course we hope to have our counseling skills honed. But we should also look at our own heart issues in those places where we can relate to the counselee. I found myself relating to various aspects of the life stories that are used to show us how the counselor guides the counselee in the process of heart change. Anyone who has counseled others knows that our own hearts are often changed in the process along with the counselee's. This type of relating is something I want to always do in my own counseling and what I want my counseling students to learn to do as well.
Equipping for my personal ministry:
It is a breath of fresh air to have such a truly gospel-centered “text book” in this season of counseling ministry. I was challenged to consider my own approach to counseling by the “8 Ultimate Life Questions” that headlined much of the book’s teaching. The book builds on concepts based on these 8 questions such as “Where can we find answers?” and “Who is God and how can we know Him personally?” as well as “How do we find peace with God?” and “How do people change?” and more.
The answers to the 8 questions are found in God’s Word itself, and we are taken there throughout the text. Bob skillfully and thoroughly takes us through theology and practical application in a user-friendly manner that is applicable to both experienced and new counselors.
I most appreciated the practical discussion on “theology for life.” We are taken on a journey throughout the book following Paul’s ministry in the book of Colossians where many counseling riches are mined. Bob points out in chapter 15 that we are always drawn back to the critical question “What is our source of wisdom?” We are given a systematic theology lesson all throughout “Gospel-Centered Counseling” that covers ten essential doctrines.
“Theology is for life – for life in our broken world. It is an extremely secular, Christless worldview that assumes that we could possibly address life’s ultimate questions apart from God’s sufficient Word.” Chapter 15, p. 250
Equipping for my students:
I plan to add Gospel-Centered Counseling to my recommended reading list for my counseling students. I believe that this book could serve as a “mini-textbook” of sorts (although the content is rich, deep and far from “mini”!) It will serve as an excellent reinforcement and addition to the curriculum. It is a one of a kind resource that brings an experienced counselor’s wisdom to the reader for their personal benefit and for the benefit of their ministry.
As counseling issues are presented, Bob carefully applies the gospel - the drama of redemption - bringing hope and focusing on the goal of Christ-likeness. This is critical for any student to learn early on.
“Whether facing suffering or battling sin, our focus is Christ-centered -- compassionately helping people to respond to what they’re facing fact-to-face with Christ so they become more like Christ.” Chapter 15, p. 249
Bob’s relational and comfortable writing style makes reading this book a joy. He has a way with words, using “tweet-size phrases” to condense concepts in to a user-friendly format that is easy for us to understand. I read this book one time through for the purpose of review. I am currently reading it a second time through because it is so rich and full of concepts that I want to further digest. This book will be a lasting resource in my ministry and in yours as well. No matter what kind of one-another ministry you serve, you will benefit from this valuable work.
I’m looking forward to the release of the second book in this equipping series!
I have spent my holiday weeks doing several things: I have worked on some work projects, I have spent some time reflecting, I have enjoyed just relaxing at home and being with my family and setting some 2015 goals for ministry and family life.
I have also spent a fair amount of time at doctor’s offices having medical tests.
The latter has been the hard part, but it was necessary. I have not felt well for quite awhile, experiencing several random symptoms. I knew something has been “off” but needed medical care to determine exactly what was causing me to feel sluggish and extra tired all the time, suffering from ongoing headaches and debilitating dizziness, unable to find enjoyment in much of anything, and unable to fix any of this even by changing my habits in the past few months.
Applying Truth to the worry about the costs of our medical care (knowing God provides our needs even in a tough financial season for my family) and setting aside my fears of what could be going on with me physically and emotionally (is it worse to know or to not-know? I had to ask myself if I really trust God) I started the long process of getting a thorough checkup to rule out the possibilities. I had started to notice signs of depression, which is not something I am prone to normally. Could it simply be that? Or is there a physiological component?
If a woman was sitting across from me in my counseling office telling me these things, I would tell her “first thing you need to do is to go get a thorough checkup to rule out anything physical causing you to feel this way.” So I took my own advice after avoiding it for long enough.
I was given a diagnosis during this holiday season.
I have Diabetes, Type 2.
I was not all that surprised, to be honest. Having gestational diabetes when I was pregnant and being overweight most of my adult life set me up to be a ticking time bomb. I have always known this and have never dealt with it properly. I let it slide and avoided adding discipline to my life that would at least prevent the weight issues.
All that is in the past, and I repent. Actually, it is still in the present, too, and I must choose to repent daily so that I can walk in the freedom that Christ bought for me. This is how we all must live, not just because of a diagnosis, but also because of Jesus’ finished work on our behalf.
The consequences remain, and they are in my court to steward.
I am very aware that I am a walking example of the consequences of sin. I also know that I walk in Christ’s forgiveness and that all of this was put on Jesus at His death. How humbling.
My gut reaction was to not tell anybody but family and a couple of close friends. I also wanted to hide and cave in to discouragement and just avoid this whole thing, although I know better than to do that.
In time, I was convicted of my pride and “fear of man". I am coming clean so that I don’t pretend that I have my “act together” any more than you do. I relate to others better when I (and they) remember that we are all sinners and that it’s a level playing field at the cross. You are right there next to me, so why do I need to pretend that that I don’t struggle just like you?
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
After a few days of feeling very discouraged and scared about the word “Diabetes” – frustrated with myself, frustrated with my body feeling so physically drained and feeling depressed and overwhelmed, I am starting to see the light.
I have a stewardship challenge now, a new assignment from God. I am educating myself about the blood sugar issues. I am working with a Nutrition Counselor and my doctor to find the right method of bringing the Diabetes under control. That includes testing my blood sugar, taking daily medication, losing weight, and exercising. I no longer have a choice if I want to live longer. And I do want that!
High blood sugar causes symptoms that feel like “depression” but so does disobedience.
Some people call this a “wake up call.”
I call it God’s mercy.
It is also an opportunity to know Him better. Spiritually, this is an opportunity to apply the Gospel to an area of my life that has too long been avoided (by my choosing, which is sin.)
I have walked with God long enough and counseled enough people to know that our struggles are not ultimately about us. They are about Him. They are Gospel-opportunities. How will I steward this opportunity? I hope and pray that by refusing to hide about this will allow my testimony to help others. I am nowhere near ongoing victory, but by God’s grace I will get there. I purpose to choose it.
What in your life have you avoided dealing with? ~
A relationship conflict?
Lack of forgiveness towards someone?
Pornography? Overeating? Drinking too much?
A sinful thought life that nobody else would know about?
Discontent with your circumstances?
Laziness or a poor work ethic?
Hiding your sin from others out of pride and fear of man?
Avoiding God and His Word?
Forsaking fellowship with other believers?
Not serving others in your church or community?
Withholding intimacy from your spouse?
An angry heart?
Neglectful or legalistic parenting?
Fill in the blank_______.
See, we are all there - at the foot of the cross. Where forgiveness is granted.
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
2015 is going to be a year of change for me.
This is not a New Year’s resolution.