The Grace of Learning_BCTC Day 1

I have just returned home after day one of the Biblical Counselling Training Conference. I am camped out in my second story bedroom at the home of my gracious hosts, Jon and Jen Greiner. Today, the conference covered a variety of topics, all with a variety of teachers. We started the day with a session on true repentance, from Dr. Stuart Scott, from Southern Seminary. He is a counselling professor there. I have read his books, but this is the first time I have heard him speak. He developed the contents of Paul’s words in 2 Cor.7, reminding us that repentance is always the beginning of change. And he gave us biblical examples of people who sounded sorry but did not genuinely repent (like Esau and Pharaoh) and then set them alongside examples of people who did genuinely repent (like David and Peter). My favorite take away sentence from his session: “God will not obey for you.” In other words, you have a work to do in sanctification. Spirit-led, grace enabled, true. But you must work out your own salvation!

My second session was with Mrs. Jamison. She has taught for years in both public and Christian schools, often in special education classroom settings. She walked us through the 18 diagnostic standards for diagnosing ADHD from the DSM 5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition). Then, she looked at each one specifically through the lens of scripture. It was a very helpful session! She suggested dealing with heart issues one at a time, instead of trying to “cure” the person all at once. My favorite take away sentence: “Refusing to listen is a refusal to honor – Prov.19:27”

My third session was with Kevin Carson, pastor of Sonrise Baptist Church and counselling professor at Baptist Bible Graduate School in Springfield, MO. His talk was on Helping Parents Whose Child is Being Bullied. He gave some practical strategies for seeing into the heart of a child who is being bullied, and helping parents respond to that suffering biblically. This was great, insightful session, which brought a uniquely biblical perspective to a problem that the church does not often talk about. My take home sentence form this session was this: “We need to be answering the question, ‘How was your day’ from the perspective of faithfulness, not circumstances,”

The fourth session was with Amy Baker on counselling children of divorce. While I have not counselled kids in this situation before, I found her insights helpful. Her practical homework suggestions for kids in such a situation were especially helpful to me. Something about a mother helps a man to see things differently! There were a number of excellent things she said, but the best was probably this: “Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.” How contrary to our thinking that statement is. God can use hard things in our lives for his glory and our good!

The fifth session was by Jocelyn Wallace (yes, they have one too) was about a helpful tool to give you insight into how someone is doing in the counselling process. Jocelyn recommends a journaling strategy called, the 5 point journal. She encourages people to write down how they are doing in five specific areas. How are they doing emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and relationally? This helps give a fuller picture of the counselee and might even give you an indication of where your counselling needs to go. This was a helpful and insightful session too, and my take home sentence was this: “The body is not inherently evil, but it is weak and easily habituated.” That sentence has so much application in the lives of people who struggle with food, drugs and porn, that is it worth considering!

The sixth session was on counselling teens who are in sexual sin. This too was a blessing. However, it was something the presenter said about his own life that stuck with me. Pastor Kjaer (pronounced Kajeer) is a big man. But, he used to be much bigger. Part of his journey to getting healthy and losing weight (he weighed 510 pounds at his heaviest) was having a pastor who lovingly confronted him and helped him in counselling. He said this, after refusing someone’s offer to pay for his bariatric surgery… “I put this weight on as an act of worship to myself, and I am going to take it off as an act of worship to my God.” By God’s grace he is getting that done!

Finally (yes, there were seven session today), we learned about effective marital counselling of married couples. The emphasis of this session was to start by laying a foundation that helps people see themselves in relationship to the gospel, rather than jumping right in to the practice. A helpful and much needed reminder. My favorite sentence: “You cleave to each other by helping your spouse cling to Christ.”

A great way to end the day! I had supper at Chik-fil-A with Pastor David coats, who many of you may remember. He says hello!

Good night all,

Pastor Herb.

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