It happened right after a Saturday night message at a church I was visiting. I had just finished my third message for a youth retreat when a 14-year-old I’ll call “Megan” found me at the back of the auditorium. She had heard me say the night before that I knew serious things were going on … More Drops of Grace: The Limits and Opportunities of Momentary Ministry
Holy Father, This morning I pray for all who find themselves discouraged and depressed, for all who find their souls numb and their vision blurred, for all who feel their lives slipping down to the pit. Help them turn to your Word, cry out for your mercy, trust in your promises, and rise to do … More A Prayer for the Downcast
“Should my personality influence my ministry?” A female student recently asked this question in a discussion about counseling, but it applies to any responsibility a person might hold. Whether leading, managing, preaching, organizing, parenting, or discipling, we often wonder how our personalities should affect our Christian responsibilities. The longer we live, the more we see that … More ASKED: Should my personality influence my ministry?
They just keep coming. Now it’s rabbi-counselor Shmuley Boteach and actress-model Pamela Anderson joining the growing outcry against pornography. Their joint Wall Street Journal article, “Take the Pledge: No More Indulging Porn”, arrives like an amateur medic rushing into a graveyard to inform the deceased that death is dangerous for us. The article is generally laudable. The timing … More Trailing the Prophets: Pornography’s New Firefighters and the Church’s Prophetic Witness
For a kaleidoscope of reasons, we often assume that lament implies doubt. We assume that crying out to God in our pain is somehow an inherent indictment against his character and our faith. We’re fearful or ashamed of expressing our frustrations, our complaints, and our sorrows to him — for a tapestry of reasons that … More Trusting God Enough to Lament
Bryan Baise is a beloved professor at Boyce College, soon-to-be PhD in philosophy, husband to Danielle and father of three, and my friend and office neighbor. When I was in Student Life, students talked constantly about his classes, and I always found him deeply compassionate and wise when we worked together to help students who … More “He Withholds No Good Thing from Us”: Marriage, Miscarriage, and the Goodness of God (by Bryan Baise)
ASKED: A New Feature This semester I’m teaching 230 students in four biblical counseling classes at Boyce College, the undergraduate school at Southern Seminary. CN101a: Introduction to Biblical Counseling CN101b: Introduction to Biblical Counseling CN201: Methods of Biblical Counseling CN481: Counseling Skills Development I Depending on time and topic, students ask 10-20 questions per class, and many … More ASKED: Should a younger Christian ever correct an older Christian?
The most important time to be at church is when you don’t feel like it. I’ve talked with three Christians this past week — two struggling with depression, and a third who just went through a tough break-up — who’ve all stopped gathering with God’s people during a difficult season. Whether for weeks or for … More The Most Important Time to Be at Church
Occasionally I share resources I’ve found helpful. These are my personal notes from a session with Dr. Jeremy Pierre at Southern Seminary’s recent Counsel the Word conference. These are not the speaker’s notes, nor are they a manuscript or transcript of the lecture, although I recorded the main points verbatim. Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Pierre | Dean of … More The Christian Imagination: Depression, Hope, and a Better Reality (by Jeremy Pierre)
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Crown & Covenant, 2012) is a bloodbath. It’s littered with crucified clichés. Her story, and its deft retelling, remind us that death is death and life is life, and neither are anything but revolutionary. Butterfield was a tenured English professor at Syracuse University specializing in … More The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Review)
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to make this regular request: “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13a). Perhaps because “temptation” sounds so ominous, believers and non-believers alike typically view it as a noticeable, passing, one-time event. We certainly see these types of temptations in the Bible: Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:1-7), Jesus in … More Temptation Is Bigger Than You Think
How do you encourage someone after a tragic loss? How do you minister to someone languishing in discouragement? There’s no simple answer, and certainly no one-size-fits-all solution. The most helpful initial responses are counterintuitive: presence, sympathy, listening, and hands-on help. Inexperienced counselors or fix-it friends often err by rushing to offer solutions and explain truth before the person has … More Letter to a Sorrowful, Suffering Saint
Every day in my role in Student Life at Boyce College, I enjoy rich conversations with students and staff about the nature and dynamics of spiritual life. I only wish that I had an hour at the end of each day to reflect on all that I learned. Today, my late afternoon conversation with an enjoyable young … More From Anxiety to Gratitude
Thrones are not where you go for grace. “The rulers of the Gentiles,” Jesus said, “lord it over them” (Mark 10:42). Sovereigns are not often known for their sympathy. So when we read that we have (a) a “great high priest” (b) “who has passed through the heavens” (c) as the very “Son of God” … More The Sympathy of Christ and the Throne of Grace
Few experiences are more maddening than discovering that someone’s been gossiping about you. But if we’re so disturbed when we discover that people (especially friends) are speaking negatively about us, why do we so freely speak disparagingly about others? I mentioned in the last post that (1) gossip is often our misguided attempt at justice … More Why Do We Gossip? (Part 3)
Gossip is a weapon of mass destruction. It bites, claws, and maims its unsuspecting victims. The gossip is a murderer of reputations and a divider of relationships. Yet if gossip is so destructive and divisive, why do we do it? Why are our news feeds and our communities and our conversations so saturated with gossip? … More Why Do We Gossip? (Part 2)