10.28.2011

Good Listeners Alone, Are Not Good Counselors.

We have been told many times over that "Good Listeners are good counselors." This is somewhat true. Let me explain. I think it is vitally important for people to have good listening skills. If you are wanting to solve any type of conflict in a marriage or any numerous types of situations,...you have got to listen. Shut your stink'n trap and listen. Several times in the Bible we are see examples of God telling people to listen.
Job is probably a classical example, Job 40.

Either way, a good listener is valuable. But it is not the only thing you need.

A counselor is just that, it is a person who through a gift of God has wisdom to impart, primarily through Scripture. They listen intently. Engage in the issue. Prayerfully consider, and then...RESPOND. This doesn't mean that the counselor then rants or points out all flaws and shows no mercy to the counslee, but let's not kid ourselves in believing that a 'good venting session' is all we want. If that is the case, Major (my lovely white lab) is a certified counselor.

We all need more than just a wall to bounce our complaints. If our own counsel is what desire, I think we can see the folly of this logic. This leads to two major decisions:

1. When you go to see counsel or advice: Share your heart. Expose your fears and limitations. Tell the truth of the facts that have lead you to this point. Understand that you are limited in scope. Then shut your trap.

2. As the one someone comes to for advice: Listen intently. Engage appropriately, but do not be the lazy counselor who only 'bounces' their feelings back. MAN UP! and say something that has Scriptural integrity. Give the wisdom that they seek. Understand that you are not infallible and humble yourself to help.

Bottomline: Seek advice from those you know who are kind enough to truly care, but tough enough to speak truth to you.

10.26.2011

How to Make a Tough Decision?

Probably everyone has come across and issue where you have to make a decision. It boils down to two distinct directions that are the options. You must choose between A or B, not A and B, or C. I think you understand what I am getting at. So, how do you make that decision? Here are few helpful tid-bits.

1. By choosing one or the other am I violating any ethical or moral law? Would it be a sin to choose one? Is it explicitly taught in Scriptures?

2. Am I placing myself as the lone decider or have I sought out counsel with others who may bring a perspective that I am not seeing (Blind spot helpers)?

3. By choosing one or the other am I placing a relationship in jeopardy? Family? Loved ones?

4. What is the chief end that is driving the conflict in choosing? Could you be choosing a particular side because of pride or fear? If that were taken away, which would you choose?

5. Are you being manipulated by someone outside to make a particular choice that you would otherwise not make if that were not present?

6. Is your relationship with God calling you make a sacrifice or decision? Is your faith Self being a distraction?

7. Will the effects of the choices make you more like Christ or less?

Bottomline: The World in which you and I live make decisions very different than confessing Christians. You might want to make sure when you are pursuing a decision point to navigate the 'wisdom' of the world with the wisdom of the Spirit. Seek counsel, be patient, and pursue holiness above all.



10.25.2011

Campfires, Raccoons, and Psalms 19.


Colorado Bend State Park, home of Mutant Raccoons, Deer, Possums, Armadillo...

If you know me, you know that I love four things probably too much. 1. Theology Books, 2. Xbox 360, 3. White-Labs, and finally...CAMPING. Yes, I admit that I often daydream at work on various State Park websites of what it would look like to camp/hike in that area. I have more gear than I can manage. I probably have two or three of everything. Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall accessories...stoves/gas & propane...even Grizzly Spray. Yes....I have it!

Now this past weekend Jessica and I take the lovely kiddo down to Colorado Bend State Park, just south of Lampassas (sp). It was truly out in the middle of NOWHERE. 18 miles of no gas stations. Once you get inside the park, you drive an additional 10 miles on a dirt road, further up and further in.

It was on that road that Jessica and I began to discuss if Special Revelation (God's Word) is infallible and sufficient for all things. This then led into a discussion regarding General Revelation (Nature) and whether it has the same authority. Yes,...believe it or not...we discuss theology all the time.

We arrived at the campsite. Put up our tents. Thwarted several barrages of mutant attack raccoons. I felt like I was at Helms Deep (LOTR reference). Nevertheless we woke up...and Angie and I took a walk down on the riverside with Major. It was glorious. A cool morning,...frogs jumping around. I was in heaven.

BOTTOMLINE: Psalms 19 talks about how the heavens and earth declare the glory of God. I think in many ways, I love to go camping because its like sitting on the front row of a great orchestra. I don't worship creation. I love to sing with it, and praise God for His work in Christ Jesus to me.

10.24.2011

What I am learning right now?

So, a couple of years out of formal education and I am have a joy buying books and studying. The difference now is that I am not fighting against my personal cynicism with the local church, I am trying to keep myself focus on Kingdom building. (It is too easy to be a critic!)

As you may or may not know, I counsel a great deal of soldiers and their families. I have found that I love it. Yet, seminary does not give you a huge deal of classes in the MDiv program to prepare anyone for the casework load that a Chaplain has. Of course, this is not like a Minister of Counseling at your local church. I rarely have follow-ups or continued counseling appointments. Usually it ends with smile, 'Thanks Chap!' or a referral out. Therefore, I have decided for that one solid appointment...I want to be the most effective 45 minutes possible.

I began looking for ways to sharpen my skills in counseling yet keep a solid Biblical approach that would seem to model my desires to be 'Reformed' in methods. I found a Biblical Counseling book by John MacArthur in my library and began my research. Before long had crossed over NANC (National Association for Nouthetic Counselors), CCEF, and several other sources that sparked my desires. My heartstrings were plucked. I felt the rich Biblical centered approach. The SUPER-high view of Scripture authority and sufficiency. I loved it. Not long after, I talked to my wife and the book buying began.

Now, David Powlison, Ken Sande, Jay Adams, and many more are sitting on my coffee table, while others wait in my CBD or Amazon 'wish list'.

This year, I am working on getting my certification from NANC. It should be about 6-8 months of work, but I love the way its teaching me right now. I have never thought I would desire to counsel so much, but when I see the fruit of solid Biblical truths...its definitely moving me that direction.