Counseling and Discipleship

17 posts

Redemptive Purposes in Your Teen’s Depression

The truth that God can work good out of this season of depression (Romans 8: 28) is a consolation to use sensitively. However, it’s not without biblical merit to suggest that God intends to use this season of suffering to spiritually refine both you and your teen. Let’s briefly consider three purposes. First, you may find that your teen’s depression serves as an opportunity for you to share the gospel with him or her. If your child has yet to place his or her hope in Christ, now is the time to extend God’s gracious invitation. It may be God’s plan that your teen comes to saving faith in Jesus because of this trial (Psalm 119:71). If your teen doesn’t […]

Understanding Your Teen’s Depression

While it can be tempting to view your teen’s depression as pouting, or simply the result of hormone fluctuations, the truth is that your child’s despondency is an outward expression of internal unrest. It can be tempting to grow impatient with your teen’s emotional instability. Oftentimes, in frustration, parents may resort to trite slogans and superficial encouragements. Even so, a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality is desperately insufficient to help our teens. In fact, any strategy that invites us to rely upon our own willpower for change is a limited resource at best, and painfully destructive at worst, “for not by might shall a man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). It’s important to view depression through a biblical lens. […]

Review of “31 Ways to be a One-Another Christian”

Thanks to Sue Nicewander Delaney and the Biblical Counseling Coalition for this positive review of 31 Ways to be a “One-Another” Christian. “Rich with Scripture verses and biblical examples, the authors’ clear, gentle but poignant style and powerful use of the Word make this a convicting read. Every believer can point to both failed and successful personal relationships. Sometimes our interactions are full of joy, but others may prove to be so difficult that the wisest route seems unclear. The authors’ skillful construction of application questions can serve as a laser that surgically reveals personal responsibility. Scott and Jin urge readers to engage according to the example of Jesus Christ, who clarifies and refines our motives as He leads us. […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking Correction

Genuine love requires speaking words of correction. But I’m afraid that one of the main reasons we’re so apprehensive about offering correction is because we’ve so rarely seen it connected to genuine love. Correction without love is cold, harsh, judgmental, and often cruel. We’ve all experienced this kind of correction before, and it hurts. Correction without love comes from seeing ourselves as somehow different from those we’re correcting. We stand with God in judgment of the pitiful sinner standing in front of us… Our correct place is not next to God looking down in judgment on sinners. We belong standing side by side with our fellow sinners before a perfectly righteous and overwhelmingly gracious God. As we stand side by […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking Affirmation

Biblical affirmation isn’t what usually comes to mind when we think of speaking the truth in love. We tend to think of correction, teaching, exhortation, or rebuke. If someone is headed in the right direction, why would they need truth spoken to them? If they’re already on the right path, what is there to say? But Scripture models for us (and personal experience confirms) that affirmation is a powerful tool in helping others become more like Jesus. I believe one of the main reasons affirmation gets a bad rap is because our culture has come to affirm everything, whether it’s true or not. We tell every kid that they were great on the baseball field. We tell every employee that […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking Hope

In speaking the truth, where do we begin? While every person’s mess is unique and there are no two situations you will come across that are the same, there is one common temptation I find in every situation I’ve come across: hopelessness. Whether the mess comes in the form of addiction, depression, guilt, marital struggles, discrimination, abuse, or fear, the temptation to hopelessness is always a part of the cocktail. This is why giving hope must always be a part of gospel care. I’ve yet to find an exception. People who have been in a mess for a long time need hope, and people who have just entered into a mess need hope. People who are making big decisions need […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Dealing with False Professions

Some parents of prodigals have walked the hard road of a false profession of faith by their son or daughter—only to be heartbroken, realizing it was a manipulative effort to gain some advantage. Having grown up in a Christian home, prodigals are well versed in what to say and do to give their parents hope that their profession may be real. Not wanting to thwart the work of the Spirit, and excited to think that their prayers have been answered, parents may take the profession at face value and welcome their prodigal home. Soon, the reality brings disappointment and the deep pain of betrayal. We should regard with realism any profession of faith. Proverbs 14:15 points out that “[t]he simple […]

Loving Messy People: Serving in Love

Somehow, somewhere along the way, personal ministry became primarily a “talking” ministry. When we think about ministering to others, we usually picture two people sitting in an office or over coffee talking about life, issues, Scripture, God, and the gospel. And, while gospel care must involve listening and talking, it must also involve more. In his first letter, Peter describes the ministries of service and of speaking as two sides of the same coin: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies— in order that in everything God […]

Loving Messy People: Knowing In Love

Gospel care is essentially a ministry of love. And love, if it truly seeks the best for the other person, is not applied arbitrarily but wisely and carefully. As David Powlison wrote, “Wise counseling [or any form of gospel care] is essentially a way of loving another person well. It is a way of speaking what is true and constructive into this person’s life right now. Good [personal ministry] is essentially wise love in action.” (David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, 5-6). I love that phrase “wise love in action.” I’m not sure there’s a more concise or accurate description of gospel care. And as we see from these proverbs, wise love is love that seeks and acquires knowledge. […]

Loving Messy People: The Goal and the Gospel

Almost every system to deal with people’s messes caters to self-defined goals. Whether you want to be happier, calmer, more productive, more disciplined, or less stressed, there are countless self-help resources and professionals with the express purpose of helping you change in the exact ways you desire. We define our own messes, and so we also define our own goals of change. However, if we are going to follow God’s call to speak the truth in love to one another, we must first clarify what the goal of that love-filled truth is. More specifically, we must make sure that our goal is in line with God’s goal. Thankfully, God has communicated his goal for our ministry clearly and repeatedly in […]