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Archive for January, 2017

Reclaiming Psychology for the Church

By Julie Ganschow

Several of the staff from our counseling center recently spoke at a Biblical Counseling Conference in Sarasota, Florida. The focus of the conference was on living a life of faith in the face of the problems we face today. Each speaker presented on how it is possible to face adversity with trust in our faithful God.

What we and the other speakers believe is that the Scriptures and ministry of the Holy Spirit are enough for solving the common to man (1 Cor. 10:13) problems of life.  Rather than using man’s methods and worldly wisdom we believe that changes in the thoughts, beliefs and desires of the heart are what bring about changes in one’s life.

We do this in the process that is commonly called biblical counseling or intensive discipleship. It is very important that you understand that biblical counseling is really discipleship; getting involved in the lives of others in a people-helping manner.

The goal of our Biblical Counseling is heart change for life change. We believe that God’s Word contains all we need for life and godliness. We have seen and experienced the reality that when the Word of God is applied to the heart of man we are transformed by the renewing of our minds and internal changes result in life changes!

Biblical counseling is committed to the position that Scripture provides the only authoritative guide for what we are to believe and how we are to live (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We do not base our counsel on man’s wisdom, opinions, experience, or concepts of behavior, but we seek to bring the full range of biblical truth to focus on the counselee’s need. 

Our focus in an intensive discipleship relationship is the importance of change at the heart level. Understanding the need for heart change for life change is at the core of everything you will learn in counseling with one of us or in our training classes. The foundational and fundamental presupposition is that the Bible is true and our only source for God’s truth.

When most people speak of the heart, they link it almost exclusively to our emotional component. A phrase like, “speak from the heart” means to say something about how you feel. A phrase like, “follow your heart” means follow your feelings. We live in a culture that is dominated by emotions or feelings.

When the heart is not being referred to as the physical organ that pumps your blood, it usually means “feelings.” “Feelings” have become the dominion of the secular therapeutic world. People go to counseling because they “feel bad” or “feel sad” or “feel depressed.” They seek a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist because their emotions are out of balance, and their moods are destabilized.

For a time in the history of the church it was easier to send problem people off to the doctor to discuss their problems then it was to really put the time and effort into discipleship and assisting them learn to deal with life and problems biblically.

The basis for this was the understanding that the Dictionary defines psychology as, “The science of the human soul; specifically, the systematic or scientific knowledge of the powers and functions of the human soul, so far as they are known by consciousness; a treatise on the human soul.”[i]

For many years the church stood silently by, as secular theories were woven in with Scripture and called Christian Counseling or Christian Psychology. The result of this was that medical professionals hijacked the right to address the needs of the human soul away from the church. Or is it that we gave up?

What has happened is the church bought into the medical model and as a result, anti-God, pro-sin individuals are now in the multi-billion dollar business of deciding what sin in many cases is now sickness. The emphasis of psychology migrated from soul-care and became humanistic and anti-God(If you have never heard that before, or do not agree, I ask you to consider the fact that Freud and all the other major players in framing psychology were anti-God and evolutionists.  They were secular humanists).

Proponents of secular psychology want us to believe we do not need God and that we have the power within ourselves to change. Psychology’s premise is that man is a higher evolved form of animal. If this is the case, than man does not have a soul or a spirit and thus a secular approach is the only possible method for helping him appeal to the basic drives he possesses. If he is an animal than there is no God-consciousness, and no possibility to redeem his soul because it is not necessary—he has no soul.

The Christian psychologist believes and promotes the scientific beliefs of their secular counterparts. They will often use the same terminology, and are usually licensed professionals who are approved by insurance companies to bill for their services.  In some cases, maybe most cases, the Christian psychologist will follow the teachings of the disease or medical model in counseling their clients, but will also integrate Scripture where appropriate to give the client hope and to minister to their feelings and emotions. They believe that the Bible has something to offer their client, but is not sufficient to address the mental illness or medical diagnosis of that client.

There is a new wave of Christian psychologists who accept the science of what is proven medically but tend to reject the medical model for treatment of what is called mental illness. They prefer instead to help the counselee to see their spiritual problem and their medical illness from a biblical perspective.

They believe in many cases that there are biological or genetic links to some of the maladies that since Jay Adam’s brought nouthetic counseling back into the church have been discounted as sin, or sinful responses to the problems of life.

This group of Christian counselors strongly believes the church and biblical counseling must re-claim the word psychology for the church. They believe it is our word and we have a right to use it. Personally, I don’t care about the use of the word; I care about the condition of the heart of the people I minister to.  Our counseling center believes that words like “transformed” and “forgiveness” and “redemption” are more important in our lives. We do not discount the legitimate medical issues that people face, but we are not physicians in charge of caring for the medical needs of the body. Instead, we are soul physicians who are charged with addressing how all aspects of a person, including their medical issues, affect the immaterial part of them. This immaterial part is what the Bible calls the soul, or the heart.

So in biblical counseling we are much more concerned with how a counselee responds to life’s challenges. We know that God is not impressed with our worldly or human wisdom about people and their problems; contrary to humanistic thinking we believe that God is actively involved in the lives of His creation.

We know from Scripture that God has an entirely different opinion of us than our secular counseling counterparts.  We know from Scripture that many of the problems people face every day are specifically mentioned in the Bible, and that many other problems are inferred throughout the text.   His Word reveals to us why it is pure foolishness to look to man for the solutions to the spiritual problems we face.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)   “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Critics of biblical counseling say that we discount feelings and emotions, that we are all about blasting people with the Bible and are sometimes harsh and lack love and even condemning of them. I do not believe that a person who looks to the example of Christ as our Wonderful Counselor and follows His example could be accused of this.

Christ was loving, truthful, honest, confrontational, discerning, wise, and a host of other things. He did not excuse sin; He called people to repentance, and He expected change in the hearts and lives of those who heard the truth. He understood the emotional component of a person and how emotions can sway their actions. He challenged them not to live by their feelings, but to live in obedience to His commands. And He gave the Christian the Person of the Holy Spirit to enable them to do that.

 

[i] psychology. Dictionary.com. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychology (accessed: June 13, 2008).

 

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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No Looking Back: The Story of a Missionary to India

Review of a book by David Thrower

You’d never have guessed David Thrower would be a career missionary. He had always been rather nondescript. He was a believer, but didn’t have an exciting conversion story. In fact, he wasn’t sure exactly when he came to faith. He was born into a believing household in England in 1900. He attended church with his family each week and gradually realized that he loved God and trusted Christ. He was baptized and joined the Baptist church when he was 16.thrower

David went to war at 18. Well, actually, he was drafted in WW1 and served in an Army office in England until it was over. On returning home he found work in an office and learned to take shorthand. As soon as he perfected that skill, he looked for and found a job in an office that had a typewriter—a rare new office machine he was eager to master. He studied bookkeeping and taught shorthand in his spare time. He was a clerk, and a good one. His life seemed to be on a steady, dependable course.

But when Thrower read an appeal in a Baptist newspaper, everything changed.

A missionary named Booth was on leave from India and was looking for an assistant to return with him to the field. David wanted to fill this position. In fact, his desire to do so grew until it was overwhelming. He presented himself to the mission board as a candidate, and they turned him down. He spent a year studying every book on missions he could find, and preached a few times (but not very well). His desire to go to India did not ebb. When he returned to the mission board, he explained to them that, although it would be easier for him to go under their blessing, he would go to India no matter what their decision.

David Thrower left England in 1922 backed by the Strict Baptist Mission board and spent the next sixty years of his life serving the people of India.

Perhaps because he viewed himself as unremarkable, David approached missionary work with more humility than many of his contemporaries. While they set up churches and ran them autocratically, David mentored leaders and expected the churches he planted to become self-governing, under biblical guidelines. He knew he was not a gifted preacher, so he trained native pastors to do the preaching in their churches. When David was transferred from region to region, the works went on unhindered because they did not depend solely on him for leadership.

David Thrower was not a great theological thinker or a brilliant speaker. He didn’t lead a great revival or relieve all the poverty around him. He never wrote a bestseller or appeared on television. But when we look back over the sum of his life’s work, it’s staggering. He planted many churches still under native rule. He trained leaders. He taught skills to relieve poverty in many families. He compiled a concordance still in use today. He demonstrated a life of faith in Christ and obedience to God.

Like many of us, David Thrower plodded along unremarkably. But God used his life in a way that affected India for eternity.

No Looking Back is available from ChristianBook.com for $4.49

Review by Susan Verstraete, church secretary at FCC.

Posted in: Book Review

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Holy Savior, The Savior = San Salvador, El Salvador

By Matt Greco (from 2012)

2 Corinthians 5: 20 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 

There are many excellent reasons why everyone from the USA who is a born again believer should go on at least one short–term mission trip.  Here are three that come to mind.  You can probably think of several others.

  1. A short–term trip can open a person’s eyes to Christianity and the opposition to Christianity in another part of the world.
  2. A short–term trip can expose someone, at least partially, to what missionary work and a missionary lifestyle are like.
  3. A short–term trip can get a person outside of their comfort zone and take away their ability to be resourceful.

20 short–term missionaries, 17 from Faith Community Church (FCC), just got back from a short–term mission trip to the Central American country of El Salvador.  We spent a total of nine days on the trip and most of the time was in Chalchuapa, a small town in the western part of the nation.

The Lord put together a very interesting team; 11 were under the age of 20, of the 11, four were 13 years or younger.  We had three sets of one parent with one child, two elders/pastors, one deacon, a college student, a seminary student and two complete families.  The group was not a typical short–term mission group, but the group worked well together and represented FCC and the body of Christ in a God-honoring way.

AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST – In 2 Corinthians 5:14 –21, Paul encourages believers in Corinth to be ambassadors for Christ.  As true members of the body of Christ, all of us at FCC are ambassadors for Christ.

Most of you have probably never met an ambassador of a nation.  Generally speaking, an ambassador is an official representative from a nation that has been sent to another nation.   The ambassador has been given the authority to speak for the president or ruler of the sending nation to the president or ruler of the host nation.  During the 14 years we lived in Argentina, there were five different U.S. Ambassadors to Argentina.

So, as ambassadors for Christ, what are our responsibilities?  We are given the responsibility to bring the message of salvation in Jesus Christ (Paul calls it the word of reconciliation) to the “nation” where the Lord has sent us.  As  short–term missionaries, we were acting as ambassadors for Christ.  We were focused on bringing the message of salvation in Jesus Christ to the nation of El Salvador in a variety of ways.  Some of our activities were to:

  • Build a children’s sanctuary
  • Do some street evangelism
  • Have training classes on how to teach
  • Have training classes on how to prepare Bible lessons
  • Teach cooking classes
  • Meet with all the students of the Christian school that the church sponsors
  • Have a vacation Bible school
  • Preach, sing, give testimonies, lead devotionals, etc…

But if you are not a short–term or long–term missionary, how can YOU be an ambassador for Christ?

ALLOW GOD TO WORK THROUGH YOU – Paul writes, “…God making His appeal through us…”  Maybe you did not go to the nation of El Salvador, but suppose God is sending you as His ambassador to the nation of An Ungodly Workplace?  Or perhaps you are an ambassador for Christ to the nation of The Non-Believing Family?  I understand that there are usually openings to be an ambassador for Christ to the nation of Living Out Your Christianity While Going Through Tough Times.

What I mean to say is that wherever we are and whatever we do, we are ambassadors for Christ.  The best way to have success in being an ambassador for Christ is to allow God to work through you.  Another great thing about a short–term mission trip is that it allows you to focus primarily on allowing God to work through you.

I would encourage everyone to go on a short–term trip.  Do not allow excuses of age or finance to stand in your way.  On our trip to El Salvador, we had an eight-year-old on the team and I have served with 80-year-olds!  If money is the problem, plan a year or two in advance and earn the money to go.

And whether going on a short–term trip is in your immediate future or not, be the best ambassador for Christ to whatever nation He sends you.  We will be praying for you!

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Matt Greco is the headmaster at FCA, a member of FCC and is on the Missions Committee.

Posted in: missions

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Manifest Destiny

By Pastor Tim, April 2012

In the 19th century, America looked like it had a bright future. There was widespread belief that the country was destined to expand across the entire continent. This widely held belief was eventually captured in the slogan “Manifest Destiny”. The expansion of America was obvious (thus, “Manifest”) and inescapable (thus, “Destiny). The Polk administration tapped into this sentiment to build support for the looming war with Mexico. And as they say, “The rest is history.”

Fourteen years ago Faith Community Church was a very young church with an uncertain future. Previously, the church had met in homes, hotel conference rooms, and schools. We eventually secured a more permanent presence by renting some retail space that was situated next to a bar and behind a liquor store. The location wasn’t exactly conducive for church growth, but it worked and the Lord blessed us. After almost three years we were notified that the building had been sold and we had 30 days to leave. Thinking back on it, those were some very tense times. We had no idea where we were going to go. Amazingly, the Lord opened the door for us to meet in the chapel at Park University in Parkville, MO. This cathedral-like chapel, which was both beautiful and spacious, was in stark contrast to the retail space. More importantly, the rent was 75% less than what we had been paying.

When I think back on those days, they were both precious and awkward. We had about 60 people sitting in an auditorium that could seat 500, so there was plenty of room—too much room, in fact. The chapel was also situated right next to the railroad that runs through the city of Parkville. If you listen to tapes from back then, you will probably hear the long, annoying train whistle that regularly interrupted our Sunday services. Moreover, it still wasn’t our building. We were guests in someone else’s building.

Even back then, however, with just a few people and an uncertain future, there was an expectation and anticipation that God was going to do something unique with Faith Community Church. Next to the chapel, there was a park where I would often walk and pray. Fourteen years later, I can remember exactly what I prayed as I walked in that park. “Lord,” I prayed, “let Faith Community Church impact the face of Christianity for my generation.” It was a grandiose prayer, and I didn’t just pray it once.

God has been so faithful to this church over the years. When we procured our current building, we were overjoyed! It wasn’t much too look at and it needed a lot of work, but it was our own! At this location the Lord has truly sustained and prospered us. When we first moved into this building I remember thinking, “There is no way we will use all this space…” Well, all that space we thought we had back then is gone. Amazingly, there is still an expectation and anticipation that God has something special in store for us.

As the elders have been grappling with the future, we have noticed that our ministries and outreach go way beyond just that of a local church. Many of our key ministries reach out to the larger Body of Christ. For example, 70% of the students at Faith Christian Academy attend other churches.  Reigning Grace Counseling Center counsels many Christians from other churches, and RGCC is poised to become a regional, perhaps national, if not international hub to train, counsel, and disciple believers in the biblical counseling model. The Anchor House ministers to men from all different walks of life. And, through The North Africa Venture, Faith Community Church is responsible for the radio broadcast that goes across all of North Africa, reaching many Muslims for Christ.

All of these exciting ministries were not a possibility 14 years ago. We simply did not have the capacity or resources to accomplish all these things. The only thing we could do back then was dream and be faithful. All these ministries are possible because FCC has grown. The elders realize that we are at a critical stage in our ministry. There is still an expectation and anticipation that God is doing something unique with Faith Community Church.

Posted in: Pastor Tim

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A 10 Point Theology for Getting Rid of Clutter

By Susan Verstraete

A friend of mine lost nearly everything she owned in a house fire. About a year later, I asked her about what she had learned through that trial. Looking back, she was surprised to remember all the people who expressed envy. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” they said, “but I really wish this would happen to me.”

What were they thinking? That the clutter in their homes was out of control, and the only way to be free involved the fire department.clutter

I can relate. My husband and I have reached the point in our lives where having fewer possessions is an attractive goal. Clutter causes us stress. I can’t protect my husband from workplace frustration or from traffic or from a thousand other irritations in life, but I can get rid of excess clutter and organize my home so that he can always find the scissors and the tape on the first try.

Still, though, I am often ensnared by the promise of a better life through consumerism. We never have a shortage of items to purge during my annual sweep through our home. How else can I explain accumulating five crockpots in slightly different sizes? There are just two of us. We don’t need five crockpots.

Here’s what I preach to myself as I’m combing the house for items to give away:

  1. Jesus said that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Luke 12:15
  2. Spiritual life can be choked out by clutter, which is part of “the cares and riches of this life.” Luke 8:14
  3. God is pleased when we give things away cheerfully.  2 Cor. 9:7
  4. Sharing our excess goods is one way to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Luke 3:11
  5. One of God’s names is Jehova Jira – God who provides. If we give away something and end up needing it later, we can trust God to provide. Phil. 4:19
  6. Giving to those in need stores riches for us in Heaven, and is an expression of love for the church. Luke 12:33
  7. Sharing what we have pleases God. Hebrews 13:16
  8. Everything we own has been given to us by God. We are only stewards of our stuff. Psalm 24:1
  9. God is not a God of confusion, but of order (think about how this is exemplified in creation). An orderly home reflects God’s character. Genesis 1
  10. Hoarding goods “just in case” can be a way of trusting my stuff to keep me safe instead of my God. Psalm 31:6

Sometimes it helps to remember that one day I will be called to give up everything. No physical item will go with me to Heaven. There’s nothing I own that I need to be perfectly happy and at peace with God—certainly not five crockpots.

Susan Verstraete is the church secretary at FCC and works in the women’s ministry.

 

Posted in: Women's Ministry

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