This is a weekly post that highlights resources from other counselors that I have found helpful. The counselors may be from the biblical counseling, Christian psychology, integration, or secular counseling traditions. By linking to a post, I am not giving it my full endorsement, I am merely indicating that I believe it made a unique contribution or raised an important subject for consideration.
Instilling Gratitude in Your Family by Julie Lowe
With the approach of Thanksgiving, I am often struck with how people—young and old alike—lack an important attribute: gratitude. I’m not looking for a warm fuzzy thank you for a gift, but a deep rich appreciation for life and what we’ve been given. Why is this? What gets in the way of gratitude?
- If you benefitted from this post headed into Thanksgiving, consider this post “Gratitude as Weakness” that explores why we often resist this redemptive virtue.
The Sanctification Gap by Ed Stetzer
The death of self and submission to Christ is not a sad end to an otherwise great life; it’s a huge gasp of air after living underwater. God’s call to take our cross and follow Him is a gift — an invitation to become more like Jesus through grace — regardless of the sacrifices. But sadly, today many see it as more of a list of rules than an opportunity for freedom and grace. We have a sanctification gap in our churches.
- For more on this subject, see the “What I’m Reading” section below.
I love this article by David Powlison: “Does the Shoe Fit?” (Journal of Biblical Counseling [Spring 2002]: 2-14). Here is how it begins:
“Critics are God’s instruments. I don’t like to be criticized. You don’t like to be criticized. Nobody likes to be criticized. But, critics keep us sane—or, by our reactions, prove us temporarily or permanently insane. Whether a critic’s manner is gracious or malicious, whether the timing is good or bad, whether the intention is constructive or destructive, whether the content is accurate, half-true, or utterly false, in any case the very experience of being criticized reveals you.”
- This is the kind of demeanor I am trying to learn from recent critiques of my work (recent criticisms and elephant in the room). I was grateful for Justin Taylor’s timely reminder of David Powlison’s work on this important, although uncomfortable, subject.
How One Church Offered Hope to a Same-Sex Struggler by Melissa Fisher
Melissa Fisher grew up in a churchgoing home, but her childhood included family turmoil, her parents’ divorce, and sexual violations that she kept secret. While attending a Christian college, she faced her same-sex attraction (SSA) and fought against it but became involved in same-sex relationships. Eventually, she left the church and married her female partner. Her book, The Way of Hope: A Fresh Perspective on Sexual Identity, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Church, describes her way back to Jesus and the church, and the things God used to help her on that journey. Her experiences have much to say to churches eager to reach out to those who struggle in this area.
- If you want your church to be ready to be the next example of this kind of story, consider “SJI Forum & Panel: Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk.”
Narcissism in Marriage by Gary Thomas
This blog is not written for women in abusive marriages. The advice offered in these posts will challenge both husbands and wives, but the advice could be counter-productive if it is applied in an abusive relationship.
- If you want a more in-depth look at this important subject, consider, “Series: Marriage with a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse.”
What I’m Reading
How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison. The process of sanctification is personal and organic—not a one-size-fits-all formula.
Many popular views try to reduce the process of Christian growth to a single template. For example, remember past grace. Rehearse your identity in Christ. Avail yourself of the means of grace. Discipline yourself. But Scripture portrays the dynamics of sanctification in a rich variety of ways. No single factor, truth, or protocol can capture why and how a person is changed into the image of Christ.
Weaving together personal stories, biblical exposition, and theological reflection, David Powlison shows the personal and particular ways that God meets you where you are to produce change. He highlights the variety of factors that work together, helping us to avoid sweeping generalizations and pat answers in the search for a key to sanctification. This book is a go-to resource for understanding the multifaceted, lifelong, personal journey of sanctification.
Tweets of the Week
If you want to flip tables like Jesus… make sure you're also willing to die on the cross for the people sitting there.
— Carlos A. Rodríguez (@HappySonship) November 15, 2017
here's your reminder that abusive people aren't these caricature disney villains that we'd like them to be – more often they're nice, charming, charismatic people, people you know and are friends with. abusive people are not abusive all the time, y'all.
— linds (@lindsaythebrave) November 18, 2017
Bitterness is a historian.
Forgiveness is an ambassador. Mercy is a nurse.
Grace is a philanthropist.
– Jimmy Evans
— Joshua Rogers (@MrJoshuaRogers) November 15, 2017
On the Lighter Side
Because, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22.