Do you need to know about love languages to love someone well?

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Valentine’s Day often brings our focus back to love and relationships. This question is one I am often asked by those who desire to love well. The exact question varies from person to person, but the heart of it remains, “Do I need to know the love languages in order to love this other person well?” The vocabulary of love languages stems initially from Gary Chapman’s seminal work The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992, 2015). Since then Chapman has written books specifically addressing the love languages to husbands, wives, parents, and teenagers.

So do you need to know the love languages if you are going to love well? Short answer, no. However, it is not that simple. There are some underlying strengths and weaknesses to the concept of love languages that are necessary to consider if you hope to love another person well.

The Five Love Languages

Chapman suggests each person functions primarily through one of five loves languages (5LL): 1) affirming words, 2) quality time, 3) gift-giving, 4) acts of service, and 5) physical affection. These 5LL provide his basic summary of how individuals are hard-wired to receive love from another person. Chapman depended upon his own personal observations and available research to create these particular categories. The 5LL are not explicitly drawn from Scripture. They instead are his observational assessment of how people function as it relates to love.

What are the strengths of considering the love languages?

Although it is true, you can love well without knowing the 5LL, as people have for centuries prior to 1992, there is some wisdom in what Chapman suggests.

Initially, the 5LL reminds us that we are all different; therefore, we express and receive love in potentially different ways. Taking time to reflect on the one you love, while seeking to discern insight related to how he or she is best loved well, benefits you and possibly your relationship.

Furthermore, how you express your love is worth contemplating at length. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming the way you feel loved is the exact way someone else does too. Potentially your best efforts at sharing your love fall short of actually communicating the real extent of your love, because it is not received in the same way it is given. Many of us can use the ideas and suggestions contained in the 5LL to help our initiative, creativity and perseverance in loving well.

Potentially the greatest strength is that individuals may love more thoughtfully. How often do we actually ask good questions like: “What will bring the greatest amount of blessing to this other person?” “What interests this person?” “What does he enjoy most?” “What seems to make her happiest?”

What are the weaknesses of considering the love languages?

Because of the brevity of this blog, let me mention just three. First, many people have looked at the 5LL as a silver bullet for relational bliss. The thinking goes something similar to this: “If I speak her love language and she is fulfilled, then I’ll get what I want.” This is a version of “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” The problem of course in this scenario is the self-seeking heart of the individual, not inherently a problem with misunderstanding the various ways to express love to another person.

Secondly, when a person “discovers” the love language of another and assumes the work is done. “Now that I know his love language, this is the way I’ll express my love.” It is impossible to conflate the idea of sharing love with another person down to just one language. David Powlison challenges us to remember that love speaks many languages fluently.[1]

Third, Chapman suggests the basic problem in relationships is foundationally an empty emotional love tank (ch. 2). No doubt there are many great blessings and benefits from emotional fulfillment. For example, emotional fulfillment often encourages more patience, kindness, and perseverance. However, impatience and harsh words are not caused by or are not simply the result of an empty love tank. They are expressions of a sinful heart. Jesus taught that “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34; cf. Luke 6:45).

So do you need to know the love languages to love well?

No. However, we must seek to love with all the wisdom and creativity that the Scriptures demonstrate and demand. We must love like Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). Chapman’s 5LL may provide you some valuable insight and help you be more creative in the process.

Happy Valentine’s Day

[1] David A. Powlison, “Love Speaks Many Languages Fluently,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, No 1, Fall 2002 21 (2002): 2-11.

THIS IS AN ADAPTATION FROM A POST THAT INITIALLY APPEARED IN THE February 2017 TRIBUNE, “THE RIGHT ANGLE: BIBLICAL WISDOM FOR A CONTEMPORARY WORLD.

The Christian Conundrum: How do we respond to the executive order on immigration?

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blog-the-christian-conundrum-how-do-we-respond-to-the-executive-order-on-immigration-01-31-17As citizens of Heaven and the United States, it is both necessary and appropriate to engage in this conversation. We can’t afford not to have our voice heard as Christ-followers. Case in point, how do we respond to President Trump’s executive order on immigration? If you are following social media, you understand the average Christian is conflicted; in fact, many non-Christians are as well. As Christ-followers, we desire to respond from our biblical worldview. So, how should we respond?

Three Principles to Help You Think Through Our Conflict

We recognize that the Bible implores us in relationship to one another to be full of mercy and grace, just as God (Eph 4:32, et.al.). In the Old Testament, Israel was to show mercy to those that were less fortunate and foreigners (Leviticus 23:22). In the New Testament, every Christian is to be known by love (John 13:35), where mercy is just an outworking of love. Paul made it clear that as a follower of Jesus Christ who walks in the Spirit, we are to be kind, have tenderhearted compassion, and forgive one another. Tenderhearted compassion references the deepest love from the heart that flows out of personal sympathy that encourages graciousness toward one another. When we see and hear the plight of the Syrian refugees who are poor and needy, our natural inclination as a follower of Jesus is to love and help provide for them.

We are also Americans. As citizens we have a vested interest in this nation. Our nation isn’t just a landmass or a set of values. Our nation is greater than the sum total of the GNP or that it is “a land of opportunities” for immigrants or anyone else. Our nation is people. We are not just minimally interested  in this issue because we see our America…moms, dads, granddads, grandmas, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. We see those people as family, relatives, and neighbors. We group in communities, neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, and states. We meet together in churches. In light of what is happening all over the Middle East and in recognition of a president who desires to protect all Americans against encroaching danger, it is a subject in which we are very interested. This issue is greater than a mere political conversation.

Furthermore, we must remember why God gave us government (Rom 13:1-7). Government exists as part of God’s grace – to provide justice and protection of people. Therefore, it is the role of the United States government to protect its citizens. There is a responsibility associated with this role. The government cannot ignore its primary purpose – justice and protection – nor can we.

So how do we respond?

How do we put these two dissimilar ideas together (mercy and protection) into a worldview that is consistent with each other? How do we as citizens of Heaven and citizens of America live and speak consistently? Here are a couple of ideas to contemplate.

  1. Our personal response can be nothing less than full of love and full of mercy. Our love must be directed toward fellow Americans and toward fellow image bearers of God. Therefore we have a response of love toward our neighbor and a response of love toward the Syrian refugees as the foreigner.
  2. Mercy has many different looks. As a nation with many resources, including political power, the American government can and should seek to help both interested parties. The government helps the Syrian refugee because they are part of the world. Many of these folks have been sinned against, and most are in desperate need. At the same time though, there may very well be terrorists among them. Thus, the government has a responsibility to act cautiously. The government’s first responsibility is not to demonstrate mercy to foreigners. Although, the government as a representative of the people can and should – and of course that is desired – do as much as they can while functioning as a protector.However, as individual Christians, the governments position of caution does not alleviate our responsibility toward mercy. There are organizations and volunteers that can receive the Nation’s mercy through financial and real property kindness to distribute and help the Syrian refugees. There are immigrants and potentially refugees in and around your neighborhood or community. Seek them out to strive to help them. We desire to allow the gospel to challenge us to live up to Christ’s example of love and sacrifice for humanity around us. So if the Christian finds refugees in the States, love and serve willingly. If the Christian understands they are being cared for in other locations, love and serve willingly. Our responsibility does not change depending upon the location.
  3. It is important as a Christian to reemphasize mercy toward the poor – in our neighborhoods – regardless if they are refugees or the homeless. Yes, we are concerned for the millions of refugees, but how are we really doing in our compassion when there are over by many estimates 50,000 homeless vets in the United States? How often do you see Christians going to social media to make the case for mercy to these vets? How often does the Christian visit the homeless shelter to donate time, money, and other resources? It can seem a bit disingenuous to have more concern for Syrian refugees than what we do for the homeless in America. We can’t ignore the Syrian refugees; we must show them mercy. However, we can’t ignore those that are homeless around us either. Now may be a good time to ask ourselves as Christians some hard questions as it relates to what we do with those that need mercy all around us.

Yes, show mercy – we must!

Humbly submitted, I trust this will help you better think through the issue. I am trying to think through it consistently according to the biblical worldview as well. None of us must think partisan first or America first; we are Christians first.

Here are a list of internet resources for you to consider as you educate yourself and contemplate this issue:

Albert Mohler: How should Christians think biblically about President Trump’s latest Executive Order on refugees?

Joe Carter The FAQs: President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees

David Platt How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

Pastor Mark Reynolds The Obligations of Courageous Love: A Pastor’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Jeremy Courtney: The world is scary as hell. Love anyway.

A much different and earlier version of this article appeared in 2015.

The Yardstick of Faithfulness

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by Paul Tautges

Yesterday, I was talking to a pastor who has been fighting discouragement. He wondered if it was worth serving God anymore, if it was worth his continued sacrifice and the sacrifice of his family. He wondered if he should have chosen the well-paying business leadership position offered to him years ago. At least, then, he would not have to try to please everyone. So, I reminded him of two verses: This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

Perhaps you find yourself discouraged today. Take a moment to think about what the apostle is saying here. From these verses we learn of God’s one requirement for His servants: faithfulness. Though the context reveals that these truths were first applied to pastors, ministry leaders, the key principle applies to every believer who has a desire to serve the Lord.

Ministers are servants of God.

Servants (hyperetes) means “under-rowers” and refers to the ones who rowed in the lower part of a ship. These were the ones who worked in the stinkiest part of the ship and were unnoticed by others. The word was later used of domestic workers and referred to service of a lowly kind. Charles Hodge says the word refers to a “common sailor; and then, subordinate servant of any kind. It is generally and properly used of menials, or of those of the lower class of servants. This is not always the case, but here the idea of entire subjection is to be retained. Ministers are the mere servants of Christ; they have no authority of their own; their whole business is to do what they are commanded.” Pastors are under-rowers for Christ, completely subject to His authority. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament in the following ways:

  • Matthew 5:25 Jesus used the word to refer to the officer in the courtroom responsible for throwing the judged into prison.
  • Matthew 26:58 mentions the servantsin the High Priest’s court.
  • Luke 1:2 used of servantsof the word that handed down eyewitness reports of the ministry of Christ.
  • Luke 4:20 refers to the attendantin the synagogue who handed the OT Scriptures to Jesus.
  • John 7:32 the word is used of officerssent by the Pharisees to take Jesus captive.
  • Acts 13:5 Paul and Barnabas were sent out from the church at Antioch and took along John Mark as their
  • Acts 26:16 Paul says in his testimony that Christ called him to be a ministerand a witness.

Pastors are first of all servants of Christ sent to feed, lead, and protect a flock. Christ is the One who will one-day judge a ministry and will say to those who faithfully serve Him, Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).

Ministers are stewards of biblical truth.

Steward (oikonomos) is a compound word from oikos meaning “house” and nomos meaning “law,” thus “the law of the house.” It refers to the manager of a household. In Paul’s day, wealthy landowners would entrust one of the slaves to be in charge of the others. They were given the responsibility of running the estate and were accountable to answer to the owner (See Matthew 25:14ff and Luke 16:1-2).

The concept of stewardship emphasizes responsibility, accountability, and delegated authority. Pastors are fellow slaves of Christ that God has chosen to oversee His household. Pastors possess a stewardship for which they are responsible and accountable. The same household imagery is used of church elders in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?). Elders are managers for God; stewards entrusted with the household of God. Pastors are primarily stewards of the mysteries of God. mystery in the New Testament refers to truth that was once hidden and is now revealed. The primary sphere of the preacher’s responsibility is that of being a steward of God’s revelation in Scripture. We live in a day and age in which many pastors do not realize this because they have not been taught properly. There are too many seminaries in this land that are simply training men to be good administrators and “public relations experts” in order to bring in as many people as possible. They are not being told that they are primarily stewards of truth, managers of the Word of God, responsible to teach and preach and guard it with their life. The Pastoral Epistles are filled with the exaltation of Biblical truth and the responsibility of the pastor to fight for it. Consider numerous examples: 1 Timothy 1:10-11; 4:6; 4:16; 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14; 2:15; Titus 1:9; 2:1.

There is one requirement for a steward of truth: that he be found pistos, faithful, and dependable. God doesn’t say he must be able to bring hundreds or thousands of people through the church doors. It doesn’t say he must be able to write fifty-two books a year and travel all over the world. Faithfulness is the one requirement. If a pastor is not faithful to manage God’s Word, he is an unfaithful minister. He may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong. God doesn’t say it any other way.

As a servant, a pastor is to be faithful to God by loving and feeding His sheep. As a steward, he is to be faithful to God’s Word. By doing so, he will be faithful to the flock entrusted to his care. If a pastor is not faithful to the Word of God he cannot be faithful to the flock of God since biblical truth is where his authority lies. First Corinthians 9:16-17 reveals Paul’s passion for biblical truth and how seriously he took his responsibility: For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. As a steward of biblical truth, Paul could not fathom doing anything but preach. God doesn’t measure success by worldly standards. He measures it by faithfulness.

About the Author: 

paul-tautges
By God’s grace, I am a husband, father, and pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Cleveland, OH. I love Christ because He first loved me.

Original Post: The Yardstick of Faithfulness from Counseling One Another January 4, 2017 Used with permission.

 

 

 

An Inauguration Prayer

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On this Inauguration Day we pray for our new President. As did Solomon of old as an immature and inexperienced new king, we pray for our President. Please give our President a discerning heart to make judicious decisions among the people that he may discern between right and wrong as he governs. Help him to be wise in his judgments, discerning in his speech, and prudent in his choices.

Please help the President as he strives to keep the people safe. In his work with the armed forces abroad, the law enforcement at home, and the various agencies entrusted to keep the people safe, please help him to lead them well, support them when in danger, encourage them in their work, and, along with them, provide for the safety of the people.

Please help the President to be a servant to the people. We pray that he would keep his interest focused outward toward others rather than inward toward self. Please help him to grow in humility so that he serves well those who voted for him and those who did not.

Please help the President to have eyes to see the needy, the less fortunate, and the hurting. As he makes decisions, please provide him the insight to think of the most vulnerable in our society. Please grant him discernment as he seeks to balance the needs of the people with both immigrants seeking freedom and refugees needing mercy.

Please help the President to grow in calmness of spirit that he might engage both those who agree and disagree with him in grace and wisdom. Please provide for him a steadiness of resolve as he seeks to do the people’s business. Please grant him wisdom in negotiating honestly, fairly, and shrewdly with international, congressional, and business leaders.

Please help the President to have an ear for wisdom. Grant him wise counselors to provide for him advice that supports the people rather than promotes partisanship. Help those who are around him to offer him guidance that engenders unity, protects individual freedom, and upholds the Constitution. As he faces the many social, economic, and political concerns and trouble areas, please use his advisors to help guide him.

Please help the President to stay safe as he serves his term. Please protect him and his family. Give his doctors wisdom as they serve him and us by caring for his health needs. We pray for the First Lady and the rest of his family as they live through the pressures of the President’s responsibilities. Please help them enjoy their time in the White House. We pray that as individuals and as a family, they all will represent our country well both home and abroad.

Please help the President spiritually. We pray that he would be sensitive to You and Your will. We desire for him to be influenced by followers of Christ. We ask that You would lead him to repentance for past sins and provide him the resolve to live a godly life now. We pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ would impact him in every way.

We conclude our prayer with concern for the people, our fellow countrymen, our neighbors. We pray that the people would put politics aside and desire what is best for our country and their neighbors. We ask for wisdom to respond in God-honoring ways to imperfect leadership. Please help all of us to enthusiastically support everything we can, respectfully disagree where necessary, and in all things remember our manners regardless on  which side of an issue we are. Grant us as a people the wisdom to see the importance of civility over insolence, kindness over meanness, respect over disrespect, and love over hate.

May all of this be for Your glory and for the good of our new President as well as the people of the United States of America. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen

#NotMyPresident

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Cut it out!

I have noticed all over social media for some time the hashtag #NotMyPresident.

Both sides. Do your own search on Twitter. You’ll find those who reject President Obama and others who reject President-elect Trump. Democrats. Republicans. Libertarians. Independents. Men. Women. Old. Young.

As I was told as a child, “Cut it out!”

Two observations…

If you are a citizen of the United States of America, you have a President. Mr. Obama is your President until January 20th. As of January 20th, you will have a new President, Mr. Trump. You had a vote when Mr. Obama was elected President twice. You had a vote when Mr. Trump was elected President in November. You voted (hopefully). So did millions more in individual states which were duly represented in the Electoral College. The Congress ratified the Electoral College vote on January 6th, 2017. Fellow citizens, you do have a President and you will have a President. He (either Mr. Obama or Mr. Trump) is our President. Period. If you don’t like that, then you renounce your citizenship. Then, you will not have a President Obama or a future President Trump – it’s that simple.

God is not honored when we attack people instead of the problems in which they are entangled. You do not have to agree with either President Obama or the future President Trump. In fact, my guess is there isn’t one reader of this blog that agrees with either one of these men 100% of the time. In reality, there may be significant issues you have with the character of one man or the other. You may not like one thing or one thousand things. Your opinion may be that you do not like the person, or policies of one or the other, or both, 100% of the time.

The level of your disagreement, although significant, does not change your responsibility toward anyone. You have several responsibilities for which to be mindful. Let me suggest three.

First, you are required to respect the office of the President of the United States (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). The failure to honor the President, no matter who that is, is sin. You honor the President because it brings glory to God as a servant of God. Honoring a man in office does not equate to agreeing with him in everything. If you know me personally, you know that I have disagreed on many levels with Mr. Obama. At times over the past eight years, no doubt I have not been as respectful as I should have been both publicly and privately. In those incidences, I have been sinful. There is no doubt in my mind that there are going to be many times when I disagree with Mr. Trump. In either case, I cannot honor God and dishonor the President at the same time.

Second, when you disagree with someone, it is appropriate to attack the problem not attack the person (Ephesians 4:29-30). You attack the problem when you discuss the problem. You keep your attention focused on whatever issue is at hand. You attack the person when you use language that is derogatory of the person rather than what focuses on the issue. For instance, if you disagree with Mr. Obama’s policy toward Israel, you would say, “The Presidents policy toward Israel is wrong based on these three reasons…” This attacks the problem. It attacks the person if one were to say, “We have never had a more stupid President than Mr. Obama and it is evident when it comes to his policy on Israel.” Here, you have attacked the person.

What about Mr. Trump? This is an even more important issue because so many have criticized his character. Even in these instances though, you must limit your observation to the issue of character, not calling him a character. The best way to do this is to focus on what was said or done. Deal with what was heard or read. Focus on what the observed actions were in a particular incidence. For instance, “When Mr. Trump wrote, ‘….,’ this statement was wrong.” This deals with what was said or done. It would be wrong to say, “That bigot Trump…” or “Mr. Trump is insane; this is what he said…” or “He is crazy.” Any of these ad hominem attacks attack the character, motive, or something else about the person rather than deal with the issue. In all of these instances, it is sinful.

To be clear, dealing with the issue is not sinful. In fact, to not deal with some issues may be sinful. But to attack the person instead of the problem is sinful. It is that simple. We can and must do better; God must be honored formally and functionally in our words, actions, and motives.

Third, we are to be known as Christ-followers by our love (Ephesians 5:1-2; cf. John 13:34-35). Our actions, words, and attitudes must be loving like Christ’s. It is imperative that we hold each other to the high standard of Christlikeness. We should be known for our holy compassion, mercy, grace, and love. We should never be known for our poor spirits, hateful attitudes, and disdain for people – regardless of who our President is. This has been true for eight years of Mr. Obama’s presidency; it will be true for every day of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Will you commit now to doing better?
Will you encourage others to join you?
Will you seek to honor God in your response to our current President and the President-elect?
Will you admit where you have been wrong and vow to change it?
Let’s together make our part of social media more to the glory of God.

#MyPresident

What are your hopes for 2017?

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What is your New Year’s dream?

What are your hopes for the New Year?

World peace. Better health. Stay fit. Healthy eating. Weight loss. Regular exercise. Financial security. Debt management. Consistent budgeting. Save more. Quit particular ‘bad’ habits. Begin new disciplines. Get organized. Prioritizing family. Better scheduling. Stop procrastinating. Restored relationships. New job. More happiness. Bigger success. Serve others. Greater giving. Consistent church attendance. Regular Bible reading. Daily prayer.

How would you word it? What would be your answer(s)?

These are significant questions as each of us contemplate a new year. What do we wish for in a new year? What captivates our dreams? Toward what does our minds typically drift? What enchants your day dreams? For what are you thirsty?

This year there are 31,536,000 seconds, or 525,600 minutes, or 8,760 hours, or 365 days. For each person these millions of seconds represent opportunities filled with hopes and dreams. The year is new. The opportunities again seem rich. The impossibilities feel possible again. A glimmer of light in a relatively dark world is back. What are you going to do with your time this year?

Even more significant than the opportunities before you, your answers above reveal something about you. As you put into words what it is for which you hope, those words open the window of your heart. Your words expose your desires. As fundamental worshippers, whatever we desire often morphs into or becomes what we worship.

How to Test Your Desires

The Bible often discusses the necessity of testing ourselves. We are to test what is good and acceptable (Romans 12:1-2), test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1-4), test to determine what is excellent (Philippians 1:9-11), test our motives (Psalm 19:12-14), among so many other various tests we might give to evaluate our hearts and behavior. In numerous times and places the children of Israel were disciplined as they were caught away by their desires (or lusts) and failed to worship God (1 Corinthians 10; cf. Psalm 106, especially 106:14). In fact, when Paul described the depth of mankind’s sinfulness, he explained how ultimately mankind exchanges the worship of God for the created thing, something in this world that comes from our lust within us (Romans 1:20-24).

  1. Does what I desire bring God glory? Would God receive the glory if I were to get this? Would God be honored if this were to come to pass? These questions reflect the idea that whatever we do or want in life is to ultimately bring God glory. Bringing God glory means that whatever we do, say, think, or want reflects praise back to God and is consistent with His character. Paul challenged us, “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31; cf. Isaiah 42:8). Therefore, whatever we want, desire, long for, or crave should also honor the Lord.

 

  1. How much do I desire this? It is not enough to just make sure the object of our desires honors God, we must also question how much we want it. We can actually crave something too much. Although it is fine to desire many things that may bring honor to God, our desire of those things must never be greater than our desire to know and follow God’s will.

    Jesus is our example of how He wanted the Father’s will more than His own throughout His life. Early in His ministry when demonstrating for the disciples how to pray, in relationship to God and His will, Jesus prayed, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Later, near the completion of His earthly ministry in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Although Jesus wanted something good (the cup to pass from Him), He chose to want God’s glory more (not as I will, but as You will). The good thing He desired was in subjection to the greater thing, the glory of God. He submitted Himself even unto death by the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Therefore, as we face a new year full of opportunities and hopes, let us bring glory and honor to God in our desires while seeking His will most of all.

Top 16 Biblical Counseling Books of 2016

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By Bob Kellemen

If you are a counselor, pastor, student, one-another minister, small group leader, or spiritual friend, you want to know the most helpful books about the personal ministry of the Word— using God’s Word for helping hurting people.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the top 16 books published in 2016 about biblical counseling or important to biblical counselors.

I’ve selected these books on the basis of their biblical depth, relevance to life, practicality for one-another ministry, faithfulness to the sufficiency of Scripture, application to progressive sanctification, and by surveying what leaders in the biblical counseling world are saying about them.

Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying and Divided Churches, by Brian Croft, Christian Focus

Biblical counseling is a discipleship ministry of the local church with a mission not simply to be a church with biblical counseling, but a church of biblical counseling. The biblical counseling vision is to saturate the entire congregation with confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture for daily life and ministry. Brian Croft shares that mission and vision. His book, Biblical Church Revitalization, is like engaging in a dozen biblical counseling sessions—for the whole congregation. Pastor Croft walks readers through the process of biblical church health—church progressive sanctification. Every church can benefit greatly from his wise biblical counsel for congregational renewal.

You can read a review of Biblical Church Revitalization by Erik Raymond here.

 

The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, by John Street and Janie Street, Harvest House

As the modern biblical counseling movement has matured, its resources have progressed from foundational materials for general counseling issues to in-depth materials for specific counseling needs. The husband and wife team of John and Janie Street model this development in their book The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women. They use real-life vignettes, biblical wisdom, and counseling principles to address 17 relevant issues that women commonly face. The embedded discussion questions make this book valuable not only for individual use, but also for small group interaction.

You can read a review of The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women by Jenny Bergren here.

 

Counseling One Another: A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship, by Paul Tautges, Shepherd Press

In Counseling One Another, Paul Tautges builds the theological underpinning for biblical counseling in a way that is both comprehensive and compassionate. This book demonstrates a staunch commitment to an expository, exegetical examination of counseling as presented in God’s Word. Any pastor or lay person wanting a foundational starting point for understanding Christ-centered, comprehensive, and compassionate biblical counseling in the local church would be wise to read and apply Counseling One Another.

You can read a review of Counseling One Another by Zack Ford here.

 

Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification, by Sinclair Ferguson, Banner of Truth

Glorifying God by becoming more like Christ is the heartbeat of biblical counseling. Sinclair Ferguson shares that passion. In Devoted to God, he offers a lifetime of biblical study as he exegetes 10 central biblical passages about progressive sanctification. His gospel-centered, relevant, practical, in-depth approach makes this an instant classic on the topic of growth in grace.

You can read a review of Devoted to God by Tim Challies here.

 

Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, by Mark Dever, Crossway

Mark Dever’s latest book, Discipling, is part of the Nine Marks Ministries series “Building Healthy Churches.” Like each book in the series, it is a succinct yet robust biblical exploration of local church ministry. Just as biblical counseling seeks to equip the entire congregation for one-another ministry, so Discipling aims to cultivate a discipleship mindset throughout the entire body of Christ. As the subtitle suggests, this book provides the how-to of congregational discipleship.

You can read a review of Discipling by Casey McCall here.

 

Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends, by Brad Hambrick, Cruciform Press

Brad Hambrick thinks deeply about complex life and ministry situations. That’s certainly the case in Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk. He notes that most conversations about same-sex attraction have become polemical and political rather than pastoral and personal. His desire in this book is to be a resource God uses to grow His people into excellent ambassadors—friends to their classmates, colleagues, and family members who experience same-sex attraction.

You can read a review of Do Ask, Do Tell by Sam Allberry here.

 

The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience, by Jeremy Pierre, New Growth Press

The stereotype of the biblical counseling movement states that biblical counselors focus primarily on external behavior. Jeremy Pierre’s work, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, should put that perception to rest. Dr. Pierre presents a compassionate, comprehensive biblical understanding of people—image bearers who are spiritual, relational, social, rational, volitional, motivational, emotional, and physical beings. He examines every aspect of the heart in light of our coram Deo existence—we were designed as in-relationship-to-God beings. Pierre demonstrates how a biblical psychology (understanding of the soul) is essential for biblical counseling (bringing Christ’s redemptive hope to the whole person).

You can read a review of The Dynamic Heart by Theron St. John here.

 

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, by David Powlison, New Growth Press

David Powlison is a brilliant thinker. He also happens to be an extremely compassionate counselor. That combination is fully evidenced in Good and Angry. With winsome wisdom, Dr. Powlison enlightens us to the God-intended purpose of righteous anger and to Christ-redemptive hope for addressing unrighteous anger. This book is not just helpful for anger; it is a model for how we can take every aspect of our emotionality to the cross.

You can read a review of Good and Angry by Tim Challies here.

You can read a review of Good and Angry by Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition here.

 

Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Bethany House

Home, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, is not a journey-to-heaven-and-back tell-all memoir. Thankfully. Instead, it is a long-for-heaven-and-live-for-earth biblical narrative. We often hear, “that person is so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” Home encourages us to be so heavenly minded that we are of great earthly good. Even more than that, it invites us to sample a small taste now of the eternal banquet of relational satisfaction we will experience when we are forever home with our heavenly Father.

You can read a review of Home by Aimee Byrd here.

 

Marry Well, Marry Wisely: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation, by Ernie Baker, Shepherd Press

In Marry Well, Marry Wisely, Ernie Baker pens a pre-pre-martial manual. In doing so, he doesn’t simply equip us to answer the question, “How do I choose the right spouse?” More importantly, he prepares us to answer the heart question, “How do I become prepared to be the right spouse?” This blueprint establishes the firm groundwork of a Christ-centered and other-centered mindset that is essential for being a godly spouse.

You can read a review of Marry Well, Marry Wisely by Theron St. John here.

 

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul Tripp, Crossway

Few things seem to drive us toward an external focus more than the challenges of parenting. Everything inside and around us screams, “Fix it fast!” In, Parenting, Paul Tripp directs us away from a “fix it” focus to a focus on love Him (God) and love your child (care for your child’s heart). Tripp moves us away from a works-based, pharisaical mindset to a grace-based, gospel attitude in our homes.

You can read a review of Parenting by Heidi Strawser here.

 

A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, by Heath Lambert, Zondervan

Of all 16 books on this list, A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert is the most important book for those wanting to understand the doctrinal basis of biblical counseling. Lambert, the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), explains that “Counseling is a theological discipline” (p. 11). Lambert models that truth in each chapter, as doctrine comes to life in real ministry to real people—dramatically demonstrating how theology intersects with the lives of actual counselees.

You can read a review of A Theology of Biblical Counseling by David Dunham here.

 

Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage, by Rob Green, New Growth Press

If Ernie Baker’s book (Marry Well, Marry Wisely) is a pre-pre-marital book, then Rob Green’s Tying the Knot covers the classical pre-marital topics. However, it does not cover them in the classical way—simply as relational skills to be mastered. Rather, this nine-session study directs couples through issues such as conflict, expectations, communication, finances, and intimacy—showing how couples can face each with Christ at the center of their marriage.

You can read a review of Tying the Knot by Tim Challies here.

 

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Matthias Media

The Vine Project by co-authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne is the sequel to The Trellis and the Vine. In the prequel, Marshall and Payne cast the vision for an Ephesians 4:11-16 view of pastors as equippers. In The Vine Project, they put feet to that vision by providing practical insight into the local church disciple-making process.

You can read a review of The Vine Project by Kevin Halloran here.

 

Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God, by Tim Challies and Josh Byers, Zondervan

As a long-time follower of Tim Challies’ blog, I enjoyed the foundational material that eventually developed into Visual Theology. In the able hands of Challies and Josh Byers, those blog posts translate extremely well into book form. Visual Theology is powerful because it aligns with how God communicates in His Word, how Christ taught people, and how God designed our minds to think—visually, with imagination, in pictures and images. Biblical counselors can learn much from this book about communicating truths not only in words, but also in images and illustrations, especially to this visually-oriented generation.

You can read a review of Visual Theology by Aaron Armstrong here.

 

What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), by Nancy Guthrie, Crossway

Nancy Guthrie is one of the foremost Christian writers on loss, grief, hope, and healing. What Grieving People Wish You Knew is the fruit of a lifetime of sharing the comfort she has received from Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Her narrative reads like a biblical counseling training manual for gospel conversations for suffering. Pastors, counselors, and spiritual friends can all learn much from her biblically compassionate writing.

You can read a review of What Grieving People Wish You Knew by Rachel Hurst here.

 

Author Bio

 Dr. Robert W. Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D.: Bob is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling and Equipping Department at Crossroads Bible College, and the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. Bob was the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. For seventeen years he served as the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-six years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and three granddaughters, Naomi, Penelope, and Phoebe. Dr. Kellemen is the author of thirteen books including Gospel-Centered Counseling.

 

Why Can’t Every Day Be More Like Christmas Day?

Pastor Kevin's Blog

Blog-Why-Cant-Every-Day-Be-Like-Christmas-Day-12.26.15-2

Christmas. What a special day each year. Christmas comes with such anticipation. As the days move through November toward December, anticipation builds for all ages. We hope for the perfect day – even though we know they don’t hardly exist. We prepare. We sacrifice. We enjoy the day together both in our immediate circumstances and through social media with others. And twenty-four hours later, Christmas is over and the waiting begins for the next Christmas.

Christmas is bigger than just a day on the calendar. So many of us have traditions we share with family and friends. Often our calendars bulge with special events, parties, programs, and church services. There’s so much preparation from gift buying to meal planning, from decorating to traveling, from old to new traditions. Memories are made and relived through stories, pictures, tree decorations, and special recipes.

Christmas lives in so many mini moments. The glimmer…

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