Saturday, October 31, 2009

Soul Contact

Begin Before the Beginning: John 1:1—Soul Contact

Before God created, what was He doing? This vital question exposes the vital quest in the human soul created in the image of God.

Before God created; He related.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1).

In the Greek, this little preposition with signifies “before, in the presence of, face-to-face with.”

When my children were young, we played a game called “Eye Contact.” I would bellow, “Josh! Marie! Let’s play ‘Eye Contact!’” They’d race to me, shove their eye sockets into my eye sockets, press their eyeballs into my eyeballs, and we would make eye contact.

Father and Son (and Spirit) play an eternal game of “Eye Contact,” except they call it “Soul Contact.” The Trinity always enjoys the sheer delight of eternal, unbroken communion, connection, and community.

Their love teaches us how to love in spirit and in truth.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life's Seven Ultimate Questions

Learn Biblical Answers to Life's Seven Ultimate Questions

What does the Bible say about the core questions we all ask?

1. What is truth? Where do we find answers?
2. Who is God?
3. Who am I?
4. What went wrong? Why do I sin and suffer?
5. How do people change?
6. Where am I headed?
7. How can I help?

Find out Friday, November, 6, from 9 AM to Noon during my interactive Christian Counseling In-Service “How to Care Like Christ” at Family Concerns Counseling in Valparaiso, IN.

Space is limited, so if you are interested in attending please contact:

Dave Bauer
Family Concern Counseling
2004 Valparaiso St in Valparaiso, Indiana
219-477-5646
famcounseling@yahoo.com
For direction or more about Family Concern Counseling visit: www.familycounsel.org

Purchase “How to Care Like Christ”

You can purchase a copy of the manuscript on which the seminar is based at: http://bit.ly/DEKwc

Other Opportunities

If you're not in the Northwest Indiana area and would like to attend or host a seminar, contact me at rpm.ministries@gmail.com to discuss a half-day In-Service or a Full-Day seminar in your area.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Win a Free Copy of Sacred Friendships!


Comment for a Chance to Win a Free Copy of
Sacred Friendships

The Sacred Friendships Blog Tour comes to an end on Friday, October 30.

The 40-day, 30-stop, whirlwind tour has been a blast.

It's been so very encouraging with all the incredibly positive reviews.

My special thanks to all 30+ bloggers who participated.

Now it’s our chance to give back to you.

Listed below are the thirty blog sites.

Visit some of your favorites. Make a comment about the blog post on Sacred Friendships.

Your comment automatically registers you to be among five people who will be randomly selected to be mailed a complimentary autographed copy of Sacred Friendships.

Purchase Your Copy

If you aren't randomly selected, then visit this site to purchase your own autographed copy at 40% off for just $12.99: http://bit.ly/MG1l5

Visit, Comment, Win One of Five Free Copies:

*Kary Oberbruner:
http://bit.ly/LWCst

*Julie Ganschow: http://bit.ly/Fybxp

*Stacy Harp:
http://bit.ly/YDWoD

*Brad Hambrick:
http://bit.ly/1kd6Q7

*Jim Nestle:
http://bit.ly/2P2rIL

*Angela Ambroise:
http://bit.ly/1VHhvo and http://bit.ly/3J0Vz8

*Angela Dockter Harris:
http://bit.ly/gnE8L

*Aaron Taylor:
http://bit.ly/42vzcC and http://bit.ly/4vlXMU

*Sandra Peoples:
http://bit.ly/3OT3Qy

*Lynn Mosher:
http://bit.ly/1T3W3n

*Joshua Young:
http://bit.ly/35HOuy

*Bill Higley: http://bit.ly/bqbMK and http://bit.ly/124G6n

*Rick Howerton:
http://bit.ly/2DlqSW

*Cynthia Russell Bailey:
http://bit.ly/2xNEcY

*Ian Jones:
http://bit.ly/no8V

*Mark Tubbs:
http://bit.ly/2Fpv7Y

*Leslie Wiggins:
http://bit.ly/3t0qh8 and http://bit.ly/1EzTcf and http://bit.ly/1lFTdM

*Phil Monroe:
http://bit.ly/31iiLR

*Keiki Hendrix: http://bit.ly/10ZLB1

*Trevin Wax:
http://bit.ly/ahlKw

*Dan Lacich: http://bit.ly/1DFUTq

*Cornelius Jamison: http://bit.ly/TTDUb

*Pastor Mark Kelly: http://bit.ly/3B7OJp

*Kelly Harbaugh: http://bit.ly/35gnmQ

*Melinda Lancaster:
http://bit.ly/2pIklU

*Lucy Ann Mull: http://bit.ly/1AZmZ1

*Cathy Bryant: http://bit.ly/iKDBZ

*Jeff Caldwell: http://thetwobooks.com/

*Sheila Gregorie: http://bit.ly/2kUrlb

*Audra Jennings: http://bit.ly/MrASQ


Christian Counseling Training in NW Indiana

Christian Counseling Training: How to Care Like Christ

Do you care deeply for people, but sometimes pray that you had further equipping in how to care like Christ?

I'll be presenting a 3-hour interactive Christian Counseling In-service at Family Concerns Counseling in Valpo (NW Indiana, about an hour SE of Chicago).

It will be on Friday, November 6 from 9-noon. There is no charge, but Family Concerns is footing the bill so donations to offset their costs will be accepted.

The seminar is especially geared toward Christians who counsel professionally and pastorally.

We'll learn how to address life's seven ultimate questions.

And we'll learn how to understand people, diagnose problems, and prescribe solutions--biblically.

Space is very limited, so if you are interested in attending, here's contact information:

Dave Bauer
Family Concern Counseling
2004 Valparaiso St in Valparaiso, Indiana

On November 6th from 9:00 AM to Noon

To Register Contact: 219-477-5646 and famcounseling@yahoo.com

For direction or more details about Family Concern Counseling go to
www.familycounsel.org



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anxiety, Worry, Fear, and Phobia--Oh My!

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 8:
Anxiety, Worry, Fear, and Phobia—Oh My!

Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt. For part six, please go here: http://bit.ly/19vCXx. For part seven, please visit: http://bit.ly/21wPLg.

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

What Anxiety Feels Like

We use a host of terms for “anxiety.” Four of the most common are anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.

Though these are distinct and can be contrasted, we can also identify common threads woven throughout each of these terms. They consist of overlapping, similar experiences.

The following are actual ways that people have described to me their experiences of anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.

*I’m constantly turned in upon myself and tuned in only to myself.

“I’m consistently reflecting on myself and overly concerned with my life in a way that feels self-centered, obsessive, out of control, and abnormal.”

*I’m hyper-vigilant in my response to threat and I always have a sense of foreboding.

“I feel like something bad is going to happen that I can’t control or handle.”

*My mind gets stuck in a state of alertness and preparation for danger, real or imagined.

“I can’t seem to stop preparing for the worst.”

*My fear is my survival system, like an alarm clock intended to startle me awake. But the button is stuck and the alarm won’t stop!

“It’s like the old Lost in Space show with the Robot always screaming, ‘Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!’”

*Anxiety is my present experience of a scary future.

“I feel like the cowardly lion, afraid of his own shadow, and like all the Oz characters always chanting, ‘Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!’”

*My fear retreats from the threat. Fear cringes.

“I don’t fight; I flee because I view the danger as bigger than my resources.”

*My fear causes distortions. I seem weaker than I am. God seems weak, or uninvolved, or uncaring.

“I’m David against Goliath, but I don’t see God in the scene.”

*I sense a dangerous threat that I can’t control or surmount.

“Life is too hard for me. This situation is too big for me. I’m a child in an adult world.”

*I worry all the time. It’s a distracting care, a consuming thought.

“I get stuck on the step of identifying every possible negative eventuality. I define the problem, but I don’t move on to identifying options, finding solutions, or taking action.”

*I’m in a near constant state of dread or apprehension, usually not even triggered by any specific danger.

“I’m swallowed in panic and confusion about my uncertain future. All I know for sure is that at least one of the potential negative outcomes is sure to occur!”

The Rest of the Story

Have you “been there, done that?” Do any of these real-life descriptions fit your real life? Or the life of someone you love? Someone you are ministering to?

It’s easy for us, especially if these issues are uncommon to us, to quickly say, “It’s all sin. Just trust God. Be anxious for nothing. Pray.”

Even if all of that advice were always true; it’s still trite.

We change lives with Christ’s changeless truth…not with our trite truisms.

I invite you to return for part nine and beyond as we’ll begin to share realistic biblical principles for overcoming anxiety—at its root, at its core.

Our entire blog series is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dignity: Law and Order Explores the Dignity of Life


Dignity:
Law and Order Explores the Dignity of Life

Like many conservative pro-life people, I am nearly always disappointed by how network TV dramatizes pro-life versus abortion issues. “Fair and balance” rarely comes to mind.

So … I was hesitant to watch the October 23, 2009 episode of Law and Order when I heard it was their third attempt in twenty years at addressing this vital issue.

Ripped from the Headlines

This “ripped from the headlines” episode “fictionalized” and “dramatized” the summertime shooting of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller, who was killed on a Sunday morning while at church in Wichita, Kansas.

And … so … I was totally shocked, as was my wife, as we watched the episode.

Two main characters (Kevin, one of the lead detectives, and Michael, the head prosecuting attorney) actually verbalized pro-life positions—and did so in intelligent, rational, passionate, empathic portrayals.

In fact, Kevin boldly told Jack McCoy (his boss and the District Attorney) that Roe v. Wade needs to be revisited because of scientific, medical, and moral advances. He also said the tide has turned and America is a pro-life nation. He even links the modern pro-life perspective to pro-emancipation views during slavery (a link I have blogged about previously). And, believe it or not, he acknowledges that cats and dogs have more rights than unborn children.

Another main character (Connie, one of the prosecutors) began to shift positions from a life-time “pro-choice” view to a pro-life perspective. And, due to the powerful drama of the episode, it did not seem contrived or naïve that she would move down such a remarkable and unexpected path of change.

Primary guests powerfully depicted intelligent, normal, passionate, reasonable people--who were pro-life! The entire jury (along with my wife and me) was in tears as one character shared on the witness stand how she refused to abort her baby who was sure to die soon after childbirth. Her depiction of the precious twenty-one-hours that
she, her husband, and their other children shared with the baby before she passed away was a moving narrative of the dignity of life.

Richard Thomas, yes, that Richard Thomas of The Waltons fame (John-Boy), plays a pro-life lawyer with perfectly calibrated restraint. His nuanced performance anchors the episode.

Lest anyone imagine that Law and Order was one-sided, other main characters and guests portrayed equally plausible and powerful pro-abortion roles. Thus the episode aptly conveys the current debate and the many intricate issues involved in it.

Your Thoughts?

I was able to TiVo the episode. I hope you can find it online. I’ve only been able to find one link to a short four-minute clip. You can see it here, though it does not do justice to the entire episode:
http://bit.ly/4btuxB.

If you can locate the full version online at HuLu or other legal sites, please email and I’ll let everyone know.

If you saw the episode, what do you think?

I imagine that some pro-life people will not be fully satisfied. I imagine that other pro-life people will be pleasantly surprised as my wife and I were.

I imagine that many pro-abortion people will be quite unhappy. I wonder if any pro-abortion people will begin to see the issue in a different light.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Laughed, I Cried, I Was Humbled


I Laughed, I Cried, I Was Humbled

Review of Sacred Friendships
Reviewed by Kelly Harbaugh of Tabitha’s Team

Sacred Friendships is a “must read” for Christian women.

I laughed, I cried...I was humbled.

In a time when women’s ministry is often synonymous with brunch and chocolate, we can all learn from the women in Sacred Friendships.The wisdom, boldness, perseverance, love, and sacrifice displayed by these female heroes will make you want to put down that latte and get to work in the body of Christ.

This historical narrative presents the stories over 50 women and covers 2,000 years of church history. The authors allow these women to shine their own light through their letters, diaries, and other writings. We also hear the words of those who were influenced by their faith.

These women teach us to balance life and doctrine, humble care and bold courage, content and character. They speak the truth in love. They teach, counsel, and encourage others through their words and through their actions.

The list of heroes includes mothers and sisters of the saints. It includes martyrs and deaconesses, wives of famous pastors, and women who quietly instructed and discipled followers in their rural homes.

You will hear from women who boldly spoke out against and debated male leaders during the Great Western Schism, the Reformation, and the road to Emancipation. There are stories of those who endured slavery and those who fought against slavery. The book ends in a Nazi prison camp, where the faith of one woman encouraged and influenced those around her.

Diversity among the women in Sacred Friendships affirms that all women can serve in God's kingdom. These women were married, single, and widowed. They included women of high position and political influence, peasants, prisoners, and slaves. Some were mothers and some never had children. All of them lived authentic lives of faith.

For the original online review, please visit Kelly's blog at: http://bit.ly/35gnmQ.

A free sample chapter of Sacred Friendships is available at http://bit.ly/1S1haj.

Sacred Friendships is on sale at 40% off for $12.99 at
http://bit.ly/MG1l5.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth:
Online Reviews of Sacred Friendships

They say that “word of mouth” is the best way to evaluate everything.

So, if you want to hear what other people think about Sacred Friendships, here are over a dozen reviews so far. Susan and I have been so encouraged by how God is using the book in people’s lives and ministries.

Would you like to read a sample chapter and see what all the buzz is about? Feel free to download your sample chapter here: http://bit.ly/1S1haj

You can write your own review or simply be encouraged and empowered by your own copy of the book by visiting here: http://bit.ly/MG1l5

1. Sandra Peoples: http://sandrapeoples.blogspot.com/

Direct Link to Sandra’s Review: http://bit.ly/3OT3Qy

2. Joshua Young: http://salvationsogreat.blogspot.com/

Direct Link to Josh’s Review: http://bit.ly/35HOuy

3. Bill Higley and Chelsea Huizing: http://3rdjohn8.blogspot.com/

Direct Link to Bill and Chelsea’s Review: http://bit.ly/124G6n

4. Rick Howerton: http://serendipityblog.com/

Direct Link to Rick’s Review: http://bit.ly/2DlqSW

5. Cynthia Russell Bailey: http://word4women.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Cindy’s Review: http://bit.ly/2xNEcY

6. Ian Jones: http://bcsfn.aacc.net/?page_id=11

Direct Link to Ian’s Review: http://bit.ly/no8V

7. Mark Tubbs: http://www.discerningreader.com/blog

Direct Link to Mark’s Review: http://bit.ly/2Fpv7Y

8. Leslie Wiggins: http://www.discerningreader.com/

Direct Link to Leslie’s Review on Discerning Reader: http://bit.ly/1EzTcf

Direct Link to Leslie’s Review on Her Site: http://bit.ly/1lFTdM

9. Phil Monroe: http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Phil’s Review: http://bit.ly/31iiLR

10. Trevin Wax: http://trevinwax.com/

Direct Link to Trevin’s Review: http://bit.ly/ahlKw

11. Dan Lacich: http://provocativechristian.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Dan’s Review: http://bit.ly/1DFUTq

12. Cornelius Jamison: http://duolosslave.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Cornelius’ Review: http://bit.ly/TTDUb

13. Mark Kelly: http://gracedependent.com/

Direct Link to Mark’s Review: http://bit.ly/3B7OJp

14. Kelly Harbaugh: http://www.tabithas-team.com/Christian-Women-blog.html

Direct Link to Kelly’s Review: http://bit.ly/35gnmQ

15. Melinda Lancaster: http://dontfaint.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Melinda’s Review: http://bit.ly/2pIklU

16. Keiki Hendrix: http://vesselproject.wordpress.com/

Direct Link to Keiki’s Review on Her Site: http://bit.ly/2cvBI8

Direct Link to Keiki’s Review on Blog Critic: http://bit.ly/ahlKw

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Men Can Learn from Godly Women


Getting to Know Susan Ellis, Part Five
What Men and Women Can Learn from Godly Women


Susan Ellis and I co-authored Sacred Friendships. Readers of my blog know all about me. But what about Susan? I'd like to introduce you to Susan through several blogs interspersed over the next week or so.

For part one, please visit:
http://bit.ly/2o33WZ. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/26MojZ. For part three, please visit: http://bit.ly/1fAmFc. For part four, please visit: http://bit.ly/13Swk6.

*In summary, what can men learn from the women in Sacred Friendships?

I think one of the biggest lessons of the book is for both men and women. It’s so simple and yet we overlook it or try to complicate it. Get to know God and stay intimately connected to Him. Think about any meaningful relationship you have. You know that person’s likes and dislikes, habits, family history, personal history. You have shared memories. That’s what God wants from us and that’s what’s necessary if we’re to have an impact in this world.

As for men in particular, assuming there’s any validity at all to the stereotype that men, in general, tend to be more direct and not as compassionate or nurturing as women, my hope is that they would recognize there is a place and a need for compassion. I would also hope that men would incorporate compassion into their interactions and not leave it solely to the women. And lastly, I hope men would take to heart the idea that ministry is relationship. We can feed, clothe, and house people; we can give them the facts of the gospel, but if we don’t live in community and minister in community, we’ve missed the point of the gospel.

*In summary, what can women learn from the women in Sacred Friendships?

I’ve encountered a lot of women who struggle with perfectionism, hyper-responsibility, and the disease of “shoulds and ought tos.” On top of that, women often compare themselves to other women. I hope the women in Sacred Friendships will inspire our female readers to provide soul care and spiritual direction out of who they already are, not who they think they ought to be. My prayer is that women will embrace their unique skills, talents, personality, and even their quirks and failings; that they will utilize their spiritual giftedness wherever they are instead of lamenting the season of life they’re in or waiting for the next thing.

Laura Haviland had a house full of kids, knew grief like most of us will never know, was left a widow with a large debt, and she still managed to keep her eyes on Jesus and do great things for the Lord.

Betsy and Corrie ten Boom, Amelia Sieveking, and Catharine Brown were never married, but they didn’t let their desires for marriage and children paralyze them. Instead, they embraced life and lived it to the fullest.

Elisabeth Leseur lived a painfully quiet life, married to an unbeliever who often mocked her faith, but she ministered to countless women and her love for her Lord and her husband resulted in her husband’s conversion and dedication to ministry after her death.

The list goes on. The point is, God loves us and will empower us to have impact, if we will surrender to Him. I know it’s often easier said than done, and I hope that the Sacred Friendship women will inspire, encourage, and even convict us and compel us to know and love the Lord and people more deeply.

*Where can people learn more about you and about Sacred Friendships?

You can visit my website at
http://www.eternalcommunity.org/ to learn more about me, read my blog, download free resources, read a sample chapter of Sacred Friendships, and purchase a copy of the book.

Getting to Know Susan Ellis: Life Lessons


Getting to Know Susan Ellis, Part Four
Life Lessons


Susan Ellis and I co-authored Sacred Friendships. Readers of my blog know all about me. But what about Susan? I'd like to introduce you to Susan through several blogs interspersed over the next week or so.

For part one, please visit:
http://bit.ly/2o33WZ. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/26MojZ. For part three, please visit: http://bit.ly/1fAmFc.

*Sacred Friendships examined the lives of women care-givers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Who stood out and what can we learn from these women heroes?

Catharine Brown

Catharine Brown was a Cherokee woman born around 1800. In her late teens, she learned about a school run by missionaries and asked her parents to let her go which they eventually did. When we read snippets of her writing or read what others had to say about her, we see an amazing young woman, humble beyond words, who loved and adored the Lord with every fiber of her being.

She loved her people as well and poured herself into her biological family and into the Cherokee nation, praying for them, ministering to them, being a godly example for them day in and day out, often at a great cost to her personal desires.

There’s no question that her life mattered. In the six short years between her conversion and her death she saw both parents, at least two brothers and a sister come to faith in Christ. And yet, if Rufus Anderson had not written a brief account of her conversion and short life no one today would ever have heard of her. As it is, I imagine very few people know anything about her.

That’s what’s so appealing about Catharine. Here was a woman who quietly committed herself to the Lord and lived for Him and those He put in her path. She wasn’t concerned about making a name for herself; in fact, she was quite embarrassed by the attention she did receive. She wasn’t looking for a more exciting ministry. She did what she could for the people in her life. She wasn’t waiting anxiously for the next book on spiritual disciplines to be published. She simply spent time with God.

One day she became so engaged in prayer for her brother that the entire day passed without her realizing it until it became dark. We don’t have to be famous or do something with a huge wow-factor to matter and have impact. We just have to be intimately connected to God. The rest will follow.

Betsy ten Boom

Betsy ten Boom is another woman who stands out. Her situation is very different from Catharine’s. Betsy grew up in a devoutly Christian home and found herself, along with her very well-know sister, Corrie, plunged into dire circumstances. Most people know that Corrie and Betsy were held in Nazi prison camps because they were part of an underground network that helped Jews escape the Nazis.

Most of us are also familiar with The Hiding Place, written by Corrie after her release from the camps. Unfortunately, Betsy did not survive the camps, but we learn a lot about her from Corrie. As Corrie unfolds their story, it becomes very apparent that Betsy’s faith is extraordinary. While Corrie was a believer before their time in the camps, her faith faltered along the way and Betsy basically discipled her in the midst of their living hell. Sometimes she very tenderly and compassionately eased Corrie’s fears and sometimes she absolutely insisted that Corrie do the right thing, no matter how hard or inane it seemed. Corrie eventually took that faith whole-heartedly as her own and went on to live out a life of reconciliation.

Betsy is a great example of a prepared life. She took her faith and her relationship with the Lord seriously and internalized it in the ordinary routine of a simple life. It was that preparation that empowered her to keep loving, to care about her enemies, and to provide soul care and spiritual direction to her sister. Betsy never knew this side of heaven just how much God used her. It’s a good reminder that we don’t always get to choose our circumstances and we don’t always get to see the results of our ministry.

*Of the over fifty women you write about in Sacred Friendships, do you have one or two “favorites” and why?

Amelia Sieveking

I truly came to love each of these women, but one I haven’t mentioned yet is Amelia Sieveking. She was a German woman who lived in the early-to-mid 1800’s. She was like a spiritual energizer bunny. She loved children and developed a free school so that underprivileged children could receive an education. Then she created a society to help the poor. The society was such a great success that similar societies sprung up around the country and even outside of Germany. If that wasn’t enough, when cholera broke out in her community, she literally lived at a cholera hospital for weeks in order to help the patients and assist the doctors.

It wasn’t so much what she accomplished, but how she was able to accomplish it that is so inspiring. She was devoted to the Lord and she took her marching orders from Him. In her autobiography we see how committed she was to her relationship with Jesus. She didn’t make decisions without Him. She knew His voice above all others and trusted that He would strengthen her to do whatever He called her to do. She cared about the things Jesus cares about…people. She was able to relate to people from all walks of life, from the penniless, uneducated woman in a tenement to royalty and she treated everyone with respect. While she was a compassionate and encouraging woman, she wasn’t afraid to confront.

The other thing about Amelia that I find particularly endearing and encouraging is that she was single, not because she didn’t have at least one serious offer, but because she refused to settle. I encounter a lot of single women and when they choose personal desire over God and marry a man with whom they are unequally yoked, it almost always ends in disaster. My hope and prayer is that single women of all ages will take Amelia’s example to heart. We all can learn from Amelia’s example because we all are tempted to let our personal desires win over God’s best for us from time to time.

Learn More

Learn more about Susan at her author website:
http://www.eternalcommunity.org/.

Also, return to my blog in the coming days for more Susan Ellis author Q/A.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Dozen Biblical Portraits of Anxiety

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 7:
A Dozen Biblical Portraits of Anxiety

Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt. For part six, please go here: http://bit.ly/19vCXx.

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

The Bible Is Relevant

Some people talk about “making the Bible relevant.”

We don’t make the Bible relevant. The Bible is the most relevant book ever written.

In fact, we have to work hard to make the Bible irrelevant. We have to work hard to make the Bible boring.

Other people talk about the sufficiency of the Scriptures. I believe 100% that the Bible is sufficient. However, far too many people fail to link the sufficiency of Scripture with the relevancy of Scripture.

We should never talk about the sufficiency of Scripture without also emphasizing the relevancy of Scripture.

The Relevancy of the Bible and Anxiety

What does all of this have to do with an anatomy of anxiety?

Some people think that the only biblical reference to anxiety is Philippians 4:6. They also tend to act like the only biblical counseling that we need to do for a person struggling with anxiety is to quote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

That’s an amazing verse, but the Bible is not simply a “concordance” on anxiety where we tell people, “take two verses and call me in the morning.”

The Reality of the Bible: The Agony of Anxiety

The Bible presents an amazing array of an anatomy of anxiety. I want to share just a small sampler of those to whet your appetite. These verses and passages realistically depict the agony of anxiety.

The Bible is real and raw. It tells about real people with real problems. It presents real answers from a real God.

One of the myriad beauties of the Bible is it teaches us that we are not alone. Others have suffered like we do now. And others have found victory. This sense of “universality”—that others are in the same boat, encourages us when life beats us down.

A Dozen Biblical Samplers of the Experience of Anxiety


If you are struggling with fear, panic, worry, or anxiety, consider the following samplers as just a few passages you can turn to that depict struggles with fear and anxiety in other godly men and women of the Bible.

*Psalm 27: When fear assaults, David seeks God’s face.

*Psalm 34: Read of David’s fear and broken-heartedness and God’s care and cure.

*Psalm 46: Learn of God’s strength and ever-present help in our trouble and anxieties.

*Psalm 55: David’s thoughts trouble him—ever been there? He is distraught—been there, done that! His heart is in anguish within him; terrors of death assail him. Fear and trembling beset him; horrors overwhelm him. He casts all his cares on Jehovah; He cries out to Jehovah in distress. He pleads for God’s sustaining care.

*Psalm 91: This psalm has been called the 911 Psalm. When you experience terror and foreboding and feel like life is an unavoidable snare and trap, call God’s 911 hotline and find God to be your refuge and shield.

*Psalm 109: David candidly speaks of his wounded heart (109:22). He is poor and needy, shaken and fading away (109:23). Attacked by others, he clings to God.

*Psalm 116: The psalmist is overcome by trouble, afflicted, and dismayed, overly concerned, imprisoned by anguish. Where will rest be found?

*Matthew 6:25-33: Jesus’ teaching on worry and trusting Father’s good heart.

*Matthew 10:26-31: Jesus’ teaching on fear and trusting Father’s affectionate sovereignty.

*John 14:1-31: Jesus’ loving message to His disciples and to us—when our hearts are troubled, when we feel orphaned and all alone, where do we find peace? Do not let your hearts be troubled.

*Philippians 4:1-20: A classic passage on anxiety—but note that it is a passage in the context of a book. It is not simply a verse to quote like waving a magic wand.

*1 Peter 5:5-11: Another classic New Testament passage in a wider context that includes not only casting our care on God who cares, but also discusses vigilance (5:8)—sound familiar?

What About You? What About Your Friend?

If you are struggling with fear, anxiety, panic, worry…don’t simply read these passages. Feel them. Live them. Experience them. Write a personal paraphrase of them. Memorize them. Meditate on them.


If you are helping a spiritual friend who is battling anxiety...don't simply preach these passages at your friend. Discuss these passages. Interact about them. Dialogue about them. Trialogue about them--you, your spiritual friend, and the Ultimate Spiritual Friend. Have your spiritual friend write a personal paraphrase of the passage.

The Rest of the Story

I invite you to return for part eight where we’ll share personal expressions of the agony of anxiety from others who have struggled through it. You are not alone.

Then in part nine and beyond, we’ll explore some causes of anxiety.

All of our discussion is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Supremely Focused on Christ


Getting to Know Susan Ellis, Part Three

Susan Ellis and I co-authored Sacred Friendships. Readers of my blog know all about me. But what about Susan? I'd like to introduce you to Susan through several blogs interspersed over the next the week or so.

For part one, please visit: http://bit.ly/2o33WZ. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/26MojZ

*What was the experience like to co-author a book on women, as a male and female co-authoring team?

Working on the book with Bob was a blast, but I can’t honestly say that I thought too much about us being a male and female co-authoring team. We’ve worked together for years so it seemed like a natural extension of what we already did. There were certainly times that we helped each other see something from a different perspective, but how much of that was personality and how much of it was gender is hard for me to say.

I suppose that in itself says something about the environments I’m accustomed to as well as who Bob is. Over the years, I have often found myself in male dominated environments and thankfully, have, for the most part, been treated with a great deal of respect. It’s also very much in Bob’s nature to build bridges and give a voice to the voiceless. Everyone who works with Bob or who has been his student has seen that so it didn’t strike me as unusual or different.

*Sometimes we may get the impression that when women “counsel” it is all emotion and empathy and “touchy-feely.” You found that while women counsel with emotion, they also were unafraid to confront boldly in love. Could you share some examples of that? What could we learn from this today?

Laura Haviland

One of my favorite stories is about Laura Haviland. If you read much about her, you’ll quickly see that she was a devout Christian, very much against slavery, and made no apologies for either. And yet she had the capacity to engage many slave owners and sympathizers in meaningful conversations.

One day she was talking to man who was a Sunday school teacher in his church. He told Laura that he’d have no problem turning in a runaway slave in order to collect the reward money. At that, Laura said she could no longer acknowledge him as a brother in Christ. He was quite offended, saying that was the most uncharitable thing he’d heard. They talked a bit longer, and he asked her to return to his home later that evening to discuss additional points of Scripture related to the topic. She said she would be in prayer before their next encounter and he agreed to do the same. When she returned later that night, he told her there wasn’t anything to discuss because he didn’t think his arguments would stand up. He died not long after that. Laura learned from his widow that he had a great deal of respect for Laura and his attitude toward “colored” people had changed after his conversation with her and that he “died a happy soul.”

Sojourner Truth

One of the most challenging things about writing the book was deciding which women to include and which vignettes. Because Sojourner Truth was included in Bob’s book Beyond the Suffering, we opted not to write about her in Sacred Friendships. But there’s a great story about her at a meeting in Faneuil Hall in Boston. There was quite a large crowd in attendance, including Frederick Douglas who was one of the key speakers. As he was discussing the wrongs done to their race he became more and more worked up, to the point that he concluded the only way to resolve the issue was by blood; they must fight for themselves because the whites weren’t going to do it for them. He sat down and in the midst of the quiet hush Sojourner Truth stood up and simply said in a voice that everyone could hear, “Frederick, is God dead?” An eyewitness of the account says the entire tenor of the meeting changed in a flash. The abuses were very real, but Sojourner thought the conclusion about how to resolve the issue was misguided and she wasn’t afraid to say so.

Commonality: Supremely Focused on Christ

Over and over again we see one unshakable commonality among all the women in the book. They are supremely focused on Christ. That’s something that we all need, whether male or female. When we are grounded in the Lord, we can be freed up to say the bold things, but we must do it in love.

I think that sometimes women are afraid that if they speak boldly, they’ll be viewed as harsh, masculine, or unloving; that they think to speak boldly, especially when it’s a hard or confrontational truth, they won’t be seen as loving. What I hope women will come to realize is that sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to say the hard thing, even if means rejection. Loving enough to risk the relationship takes enormous courage, but it is no doubt godly love.

Learn More

Learn more about Susan at her author website: http://www.eternalcommunity.org/.

Also return to my blog in the coming days for more Susan Ellis author Q/A.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Women's Studes


Getting to Know Susan Ellis, Part Two

Susan Ellis and I co-authored Sacred Friendships. Readers of my blog know all about me. But what about Susan? I'd like to introduce you to Susan through several blogs interspersed over the next the week or so.

For part one, please visit:
http://bit.ly/2o33WZ

*Why do you think the historic voices of women have been silenced in church history?

To put it simply, I think women have been blamed for just about anything you can think of since Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit and for some people, trying to keep women quiet solves the problem.

*To what extent do you think the voices of women are still being silenced in church ministry today?

That’s hard to say. It partly depends on what part of the world and what cultures we’re talking about. It still exists no matter where you are, but it’s more prevalent in some areas than in others. The sad truth is that we will always have some people who have a bias against other groups of people and women happen to be one of the target groups, even in the church.

Certainly, in the US we still have room to grow, but we’ve also seen a great deal of improvement. Anne Judson paved the way for women in missions. Henrietta Mears opened doors and increased the level of respect for women in Christian education. Scores of women have demonstrated the value of women in the social action area of church ministry.

One of my hopes and prayers is that no matter where someone falls on the issue of a woman’s role in church, they will see that women are a vital and essential part of church ministry; that women were also created in the image of God and have been uniquely designed and equipped to be a part of God’s plan for building his Kingdom. Sacred Friendships demonstrates that women have been effectively ministering to and with men and other women since the onset of Christianity.

*As a female, what was it like to research and write a book on the history of women’s soul care? How has the experienced impacted you?

It was great. I was so encouraged by the godly strength and courage of the women we studied. But perhaps even more than that, I was inspired to see the way they infused feminine grace and gentleness with their strength and courage. Many of these women were faced with strong opposition and challenging circumstances and yet, somehow, they never seemed to lose their femininity. It’s impressive to see how great an impact these women had even during times when women were much more stifled than they are today.

One of my biggest take-aways from this experience is that we don’t have to try to be like anyone else. We don’t have to do the things other people are doing. We simply have to do what God is asking us to do. When I was researching Anne Judson, the first female missionary from the US, I felt so inadequate. The only missions trip I’ve ever been on was like an extravagant vacation compared to the life she chose. And, not only did she choose it, she had to fight to get it.

But as I continued my research, I came to internalize what I knew in my head to be true. God has designed each of us differently and uses us to impact His Kingdom in different ways. Our children and next door neighbors need to know Christ just as much as the people living in the most remote and dangerous parts of the world.

How I minister will also look different from how someone else ministers and that’s ok, too. As you read about the women in Sacred Friendships, you’ll see commonalities. They all spoke the truth in love, for instance, but they did it differently. That’s very freeing.

Learn More

Learn more about Susan at her author website:
http://www.eternalcommunity.org/.

Also return to my blog in the coming days for more Susan Ellis author Q/A.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Getting to Know Susan Ellis


Getting to Know Susan Ellis

Susan Ellis and I co-authored Sacred Friendships. Readers of my blog know all about me. But what about Susan? I'd like to introduce you to Susan through several blogs interspersed over the next the week or so.

Please enjoy this author Q/A with Susan.

1. Susan, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Paul, for 25 years. We have two children. Samantha, our youngest, is with the Lord. Our son, Paul, is married to Kristen and they have a beautiful toddler, Jocelyn, whom I adore. My mom lives with us along with our 80+ pound mutt, Daisy.

I have a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland. Then I waited 17 years before going back to school to get my M.A. in Christian Counseling and Discipleship (MACCD) from Capital Bible Seminary (CBS) in Lanham, MD. I started working in the MACCD department the week I started classes. I wore many hats at CBS, including Women’s Mentor, Adunct Professor in the Women’s Concentration, Academic Advisor, Director of MACCD Student Services, and Department Coordinator.

Prior to returning to school, I was a counselor and the Director of Development at an area pregnancy center. At the local church level I’ve been on leadership teams for Discipleship, Moms, Women’s, Counseling, and Retreat Ministries; provided lay counselor training; and ministered through speaking at women’s events. Most recently, I have launched Eternal Community (www.EternalCommunity.org), a ministry devoted to equipping, empowering, and encouraging professional counselors, the clergy, and lay men and women in the art of biblical counseling, discipleship, and spiritual formation through writing, speaking, and consulting. I also partner with RPM Ministries.

When I’m not working, I love hanging out with my family. I also enjoy traveling, gardening, scrapbooking, skiing, horseback riding, and sometimes I even enjoy cooking.

2. Susan, what motivated you to write Sacred Friendships? Why did you choose to write this book?

A funny thing happened on my way to getting my degree. I had never liked history, but I had to take a class called the History of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Honestly, I was dreading it, but it turned out to be one of my favorite classes. I wanted to know about the history of Christianity in general, more about the history of soul care and spiritual direction, and I especially wanted to know more about the women who helped shape biblical counseling and discipleship.

Then a few years ago we had the opportunity to develop a Women’s Concentration within our program and I was fortunate enough to be assigned the lead role in that adventure. One of the classes we decided to develop was the History of Women in Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. Shortly after that decision, Bob asked me if I would like to co-author Sacred Friendships. It was perfect timing.

It’s also ironic. Years ago, I wasn’t very fond of too many women. I thought many were manipulative, back biting, and petty. There weren’t a lot of women I trusted beyond family and a few close friends. But the Lord changed all that as He brought women across my path and allowed me to enter their worlds, truly enter their worlds...the pain, the hurt, the disappointments. Many times He allowed me to see where the stubbornness, and hardness came from, and He allowed me to be a part of their spiritual and emotional healing, to share in their sorrows, and celebrate their victories. So, when the opportunity to be a part of this book came along, I also saw it as another way to celebrate what is good and beautiful about women and to give today’s women the gift of a heritage that they probably didn’t know they had.

Learn More

Learn more about Susan at her author website: http://www.eternalcommunity.org/.

Also return to my blog in the coming days for more Susan Ellis author Q/A.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Ten Snap Shots of Anxiety

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 6: Ten Snap Shots of Anxiety

Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt.

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

Where We’re Headed

In our blog series on anxiety, we want to move toward biblical victory over anxiety. What want to explore together how to move from fear to faith, and how to help one another to move from anxiety to faith, hope, love, and peace.

But before we do that, we have two more “stops” on our blog tour of anxiety. Today we want to summarize where we’ve been thus far.

Then, we want to paint some real-life biblical portraits of anxiety—what it feels like and looks like. Where do we turn in the Bible to see such portraits? We’ll address that question next week.

What We’ve Seen So Far: Ten Sign Posts for the Anatomy of Anxiety

Let’s summarize our first five blog posts on the anatomy of anxiety.

1. Emotions are e-motions. God designed them to set us in motion. They are part of the God-designed motivational structure of the soul. E-motions motivate action.

2. God gave us the e-motion of vigilance to urge us to act quickly and courageously in response to a life need. When vigilance works, we have “mood order.”

3. Vigilance is a faith response to threat. In our faith response, we love God by trusting Him, and we love others by protecting them.

4. However, living in a fallen world, inhabiting unredeemed bodies, and tempted by an unloving enemy—Satan (the world, the flesh, and the devil), our vigilance can turn to hyper-vigilance, or stuck vigilance when we experience threat without faith.

5. In stuck vigilance, instead of a faith response to threat, we have a fear response to threat that leads either to flight (anxiety, panic) or fight (anger, aggression). When e-motions misfire like this, we have “mood disorder.”

6. So when fear strikes, we should be asking, “Where does fear drive me? Does it drive me to self-protection by flight or fight? Or does fear drive me to God, my Protector?”

7. Faith that works does not shun vigilance. Rather, it controls vigilance. It refuses to allow the emotions to control the mind.

8. God calls us to manage our moods and to master our emotions. We are not to ignore them, stuff them, or harm others with them. David is a biblical portrait of mature mood management. In Psalm 42, he is emotionally aware. “Why are you disquieted within me, O, my soul?” David then demonstrates soothing his soul in God. “Hope thou in God.” As Martin Lloyd-Jones says, David talked to himself rather than simply listening to himself!

9. When anxiety stalks, faith wrestles. Faith talks to the self. “I know God will never leave me nor forsake me. I can do all things through Christ. I am more than a conqueror. Nothing will ever separate me from the love of God in Christ.”

10. When faith wrestles anxiety, we refuse the fight or flight response. Instead, we choose the tend and befriend response. Trusting God’s protection, we refuse to protect our self. Instead, we courageously protect others for God’s glory.

What About You?

What are you doing with fear? With threat?

They are opportunities to test Who and what you trust.

The Rest of the Story

I invite you to return for part seven where we’ll offer some real-life, biblical pictures of anxiety. The Bible is relevant. It addresses real people in real life with real issues. It paints accurate soul portraits of anxiety. We’ll point you toward over a dozen next time we meet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

50 History-Changing Women

50 History-Changing Women

Keiki Hendrix over at Vessel Project (http://vesselproject.wordpress.com) joined the Sacred Friendships Blog Tour today.

To read her entire book review, please visit: http://bit.ly/2cvBI8

To get your copy of the book, please visit: http://bit.ly/MG1l5

Here's a sampler of what Keiki shared:

Would you be interested in the history of fifty history-changing women? Women of character, fortitude and great faith? Would you learn about these women who shaped and changed the lives of others?

Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith by Robert W. Kellemen, PH.D and Susan M. Ellis is the place to begin. Thoroughly researched and presented with admiration, you’ll find great inspiration here.

As a Bible Study leader, I was amazed at the large list of influential, but often unnoticed, women of great faith. As a woman, I identified with many of the struggles these women faced both as a result of the culture of their day and their own inner conflict.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Am I Afraid?

The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 5: Why Am I Afraid?

Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF.

Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

What Is the Biblical Portrait of Phobia, Fear, and Anxiety?

John tells us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

The word John uses for “fear” is “phobos.” It is used 138 times in the New Testament. Interestingly, the number one New Testament command is, “Fear not!”

In a positive sense, phobos can mean reverence, awe, respect, and honor.

In a negative usage, it means terror, apprehension, alarm, and arousal to flee. In Matthew 28:4, we have a word picture of phobos/phobia. When the Angel of the Lord appears, the guards fear and fall like dead men. Thus here it is used of paralysis of action.

In Luke 21:26, phobos relates to uncertain expectations, terror, apprehension that fears the “What next!?”

In Romans 8:15, phobos has the idea of slavish terror as Paul reminds us that we have been given a spirit of sonship, confidence, and relational acceptance, not a spirit of slavish terror about relational rejection.

Fear of Ultimate Rejection


John is quite specific in his portrait as he says fear has to do with punishment. Punishment means rejection, separation, condemnation—to be left as a loveless orphan, to be abandoned as a helpless child.

To understand John fully, we must go back one verse. In 1 John 4:17, John says that “love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.”

Confidence is openness, frankness, boldness, assurance, concealing nothing, no hiding, no shame, no fear. It is the courage to come boldly before the throne of grace—because of grace! It is the courage to express myself freely and openly in relationship because I know there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

So What Is Phobia, Fear, and Anxiety?

So, how does the Bible picture and define anxiety, fear, and phobia? We might summarize it like this:

“Phobia is paralyzing apprehension causing me to flee what I fear or to become paralyzed when facing my fear because I doubt my relational acceptance and security, because I doubt God’s grace. My ultimate fear is fear of rejection by God. That fear is the cause of all other fears in life.”

What do I fear?


“I fear God, but not in the sense of reverence and awe. I fear God’s rejection because I refuse to place faith in God’s gracious acceptance of me in Christ.”

Why am I afraid?


“If the God of the universe rejects me, then I’m on my own. And If I’m on my own, life is too much for me.”

Making It Real

Let’s make it real-life practical. Phobia/phobos/fear/anxiety makes me feel like:

*“Life is unsafe. It’s too hard for me.”

*”If I cry out for help, no one will respond. If I reach up to God, He won’t care because He has rejected me. He is ashamed of me and I am ashamed in His presence.”

*”I won’t be protected. There’s no one who cares and no one who is in control. No one is flying this plane!”

*”I am orphaned and left alone because no one cares about me. Therefore, I have to make life work on my own.”

*”But I’m small, childlike, inadequate. I can’t overcome the 800-pound gorilla of life. While I must face life alone, life is too much for me to face.”

So How Do We Diagnose Fear?

Phobias, fear, worries, and anxiety signify my failure to grasp and apply God’s powerful promise of gracious acceptance and protection. Fear and anxiety are caused by my refusal to accept my acceptance in Christ. If I believe Satan’s lying, condemning narrative, then I am left with no option other than trusting in myself. And I am far too small to handle life on my own.

Fear becomes a vicious cycle. Fearing God’s rejection, I reject God’s help, and I end up feeling helpless to face life.

The Rest of the Story: There Has to Be a Better Way

There has to be a better way, don’t you think? I sure hope so!

John gives us that better way when he tells us that “perfect love casts our all fear” (1 John 4:18).

Join us again tomorrow when we examine biblical principles for overcoming anxiety with faith, hope, and healing love.

Discerning Reader Book Review

Sacred Friendships
Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith

Discerning Reader Editorial Review of Sacred Friendships

Many people in Evangelical circles are familiar with the name Tim Challies because of his insightful book reviews (http://www.challies.com/).

A number of years ago, Tim decided to expand his reviewing influence by starting a second book review site, Discerning Readers (http://discerningreader.com/). At DR, Tim has over a dozen other reviewers working with him under the excellent leadership of Mark Tubbs. About three months ago I started doing reviews for Tim and Mark at DR and have truly enjoyed my connection with these men.

Tim Challies’ site along with Discerning Reader are the two most visited blogs for Evangelical book reviews.

Today, one of the long-time DR reviewers, Leslie Wiggins, shares her views on Sacred Friendships in stop number 17 on the Sacred Friendships Blog Tour. DR has made Leslie’s review their Featured Review for the week.

Book Details

Author: Robert Kellemen, Susan Ellis
Publisher: BMH Books (2009)
Category: Women, Spirituality, Church/Ministry

Discerning Reader Editorial Review

Reviewed 10/13/2009 by Leslie Wiggins.

Recommended. Collected accounts from Christian history designed to represent women's voices in the art of soul care.

In the writings of early church history, women’s voices have gone underrepresented. This realization began Dr. Robert Kellemen’s desire for writing Sacred Friendships. In addition to his work in biblical counseling, his personal passion is to empower “those who have been robbed of their voice.” Like the women they profile in their book, co-author Susan Ellis’ passion lies in ministering to women and seeing God work in their lives. Kellemen and Ellis combined their passions in order to write the stories of more than fifty remarkable Christian women who offered care and direction for the souls of men and women throughout church history.

According to Kellemen and Ellis, “experts who examine the history of spiritual care have consistently identified” two pillars of Christian counseling as soul care (helping people in their suffering) and spiritual direction (helping people fight sin and develop intimacy with Christ). Soul care involves sustaining and healing, while spiritual direction includes reconciling and guiding. Kellemen and Ellis have organized the stories of these women around these two pillars and four areas of Christian counseling.

They were careful to study and discern many manuscripts, journals, and correspondence in order to accurately uncover each woman’s unique way of practicing soul care and spiritual direction. The authors ask very specific questions of each woman’s life and her relationships in an effort to understand the natures of each one's manner of care giving. Christian women have been providing counseling and wisdom in these four areas for centuries. “By following in their footsteps, we can reclaim the ancient gifts of soul care and spiritual direction, restore the forgotten arts of sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding, and experience a reformation in how we minister to one another.”

Beginning with Vibia Perpetua (AD 181-203) and ending with Betsie ten Boom (1885-1944), Kellemen and Ellis uncover the stories of some of the most spiritually influential women of the last two thousand years: women of velvet steel who stood firm in faith and sought to do everything in love. Some names, like Susanna Wesley or Teresa of Avila, will sound familiar, but Catharine Brown and Dhuoda may be unfamiliar. Sacred Friendships includes the stories of more than fifty women and, consequently, as many different ways of ministering to souls.

However, one will also find that the women share several common characteristics. For instance, each one lived what she taught, developed a biblical theology of suffering, exhibited a passionate love for God and His people, studied scripture and accurately applied it to circumstances, and displayed humility and a teachable spirit. One of the most interesting common denominators to me is that despite their spiritual gifting and abilities, none of these women sought a title or position within their churches. Though they did not suppress their gifts, they were humble, obedient, and sought only the glory of Christ.

I appreciate each story for different reasons, but I’d like to share a few personal impressions. First, I found myself pleasantly surprised by what I learned about the women commonly referred to as mystics. The women profiled in this book and the manner in which they cared for souls seem to be very different from present-day mystics. There is a growing trend these days to practice the ancient paths in an effort to understand our spiritual roots, however the trend seems to focus more on spiritual experiences. In contrast, Sacred Friendships provides examples of how the early Christian women based their lives on the Scriptures available to them and how they courageously faced spiritual and emotional trials “before the advent of modern secular psychology.”

When it comes to soul care and spiritual direction, Kellemen and Ellis explain that “the biblically balanced approach is neither mysticism nor scholasticism. Mysticism degrades into a shallow, self-centered focus on experience apart from truth and feelings without core beliefs. Scholasticism collapses into a cold-hearted, Pharisaical emphasis on judgmentalism, sin-spotting, and ‘discernment’ without grace. True biblical soul care and spiritual direction have always combined an unremitting concern for changing lives with Christ’s changeless truth—integrating head and heart, Scripture and soul.”

Another story that impressed me is that of Elizabeth Keckley. My husband and I were watching Ken Burns’ documentary, “The Civil War,” when I learned of Mary Lincoln’s terrible grief following the assassination of President Lincoln. The picture on the screen shows an empty, blood-stained bed, while the voice-over tells the story of a frantic Mary at his side, wailing and grabbing for him so much that the men in the room forcibly removed her from his side. This part of the narrative bothered me, and I wondered what happened to Mary after she was forced away from her husband’s death bed. Kellemen and Ellis answer this question with the story of soul-caring Elizabeth Keckley, a slave who became the dressmaker for Mrs. Lincoln. It was to her side that Mary flew and received the spiritual succor she desperately needed that evening and for the rest of her life. Keckley had endured terrible pain and suffering as a slave for thirty years before moving to the White House. It was her acquaintance with grief that especially suited her to minister to Mary Lincoln.

“In those days, of all people, a formerly enslaved black woman was the one human being on the face of the earth who could comfort the President's widow. And how? With her empathy. With her silence. With her physical presence. With her loving companionship.” Keckley’s story is difficult to read, but inspirational for its example of endurance and hope.

Finally, each woman’s way of life demonstrates at least one characteristic that we would do well to emulate. For instance, Kellemen and Ellis profile Perpetua and Macrina the Elder as they joyfully encouraged one another, facing persecution and martyrdom; Monica, whose piety drowned out her husband’s irreverence; Gregonia and Clare of Assissi, who were so heavenly minded they were of immense earthly good; Olympias, who was pious and courageous; the Desert Mothers, whose whole lives were open books for their disciples to read and imitate; and most for their theological depth and discernment.

Each story also impressed upon me the importance of practicing the spiritual disciplines and cultivating genuine, spiritual friendships with Christian women. Indeed, I found myself longing for a true, spiritual friendship like the beautiful one shared by Marie Goby and Elisabeth Leseur.

Marie writes, “These are very intimate matters that I share with you, my sister and friend; there is not another person with whom I would share them. God has placed you in my path, perhaps because he saw that in spite of his loving caresses, I still remained in spiritual isolation, and he wanted to give me the sweet consolation of a completely spiritual friendship. May God be blessed for that!”

And this from Elisabeth to Marie, “We’re never really separated, since we live and work for the same beloved Master and are one with him in front of the tabernacle or at other times of prayer. And yet I experience such a deep calm, truly a consolation when I’m able to open my heart to you, fully one with you in spirit. Although we’re not near one another, it is so good to know I’m united with a true spiritual sister who prays for me, and that in God there is no distance, since all hearts meet together in the heart of Jesus.”

I am happy to recommend Sacred Friendships to Christian women, counselors and mentors, and women in ministry. It’s a perfect book for a women’s book club or small group; the discussion questions are quite thought-provoking and would lend themselves to an edifying small group discussion. Read it with your mentor or use it to begin your own sacred friendship.

To enjoy the entire book, at 40% off, please visit: http://bit.ly/MG1l5.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are You Looking at Life with Eyeballs Only or with Spiritual Eyes?

Are You Looking at Life with Eyeballs Only or with Spiritual Eyes?

In yesterday’s blog post, I shared about how the extension cord connected to my computer was accidently unplugged during my How to Care Like Christ seminar (http://bit.ly/3YYAR4), causing my computer to go into hibernation. To read that entire post, please visit http://bit.ly/LLrwI.

As I asked yesterday, I’d ask you again today to imagine the scene and to put yourself in my shoes as a speaker.

Your computer is going into hibernation and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Your entire presentation is PowerPoint driven. Most of the audience doesn’t know you. The whole start and set-up for the entire day could be ruined.

What would you do? What would you think? How might you respond?

With Eyeballs Only

My immediate, fleshly, emotional, eyeballs only response was to think and feel, “The day is ruined.” “They will think I’m a hapless presenter.”

With eyeballs only, with a fleshly mindset, I was thinking about me, and not about God and not about them. Hardly a reflection of Matthew 22:35-40!

With Spiritual Eyes

Interestingly, just moments before this event, the seminar host and my spiritual friend, Pastor Mark Tanious, had taken me aside to pray with me. Pastor Mark specifically prayed that God would lead me not to say anything I should not say, and to say anything He wanted me to say, even if it wasn’t in my pre-planned presentation. Mark is a young man mature beyond his years.

So what did I say? How did I react?

Well, read part one for my first response which was a God-led object lesson about how we desperately need to stay plugged into our personal power source—God—because when we live in the power of the flesh we will eventually go into spiritual hibernation mode.

A Second Object Lesson

But God’s Spirit wasn’t done teaching lessons that were not in my lesson plan!

A second major point of the How to Care Like Christ seminar highlights our need in spiritual friendship to help our spiritual friends to look at life with renewed minds—with spiritual eyes, with faith eyes. The only other option is to look at life with eyes of the flesh, with eyeballs only—conformed to the world, the flesh, and the devil.

So later in the morning when we arrived at the point in the seminar where we address spiritual eyes, I confessed to the audience my earlier temptation to look at my hibernating computer with eyeballs only—with a “woe is me,” “I am defeated,” “it’s all about me” fleshly attitude.

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord

And I shared with my audience that through Pastor Mark’s earlier pray, and certainly through their silent prayers during the hibernating moments, that God’s Spirit did a work in my heart. He enlightened my eyes. He opened the eyes of my heart. His Spirit transformed and renewed my thinking in the moment.

The eyes of my heart were enlightened:

*With the reminder that, “It’s not about me; it’s all about Him.”

*With the reminder that, “God is in control and He cares.”

*With the reminder that, “God allows negative events to occur so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.”

*With the reminder that, “I was not there to impress people, but to serve people and to serve God.”

*With the reminder that, “I had a choice—I could look at life with eyeballs only or I could look at life with spiritual eyes.”

*With the reminder that, “It’s not what happens to us that matters most, but how we respond to what happens to us that is the real measure of our walk with God.”

How’s Your Eyesight?

So…how’s your eyesight?

Are you looking at situations in your life today with eyeballs only or with spiritual eyes?

As Elisha prayed for his sight-impaired servant, ask God to open your eyes so you may see, so you may really see reality, God-reality (2 Kings 6:17).

Discerning Reader Editorial Review of Sacred Friendships


Discerning Reader Editorial Review of Sacred Friendships

Many people in Evangelical circles are familiar with the name Tim Challies because of his insightful book reviews (http://www.challies.com/).

A number of years ago, Tim decided to expand his reviewing influence by starting a second book review site, Discerning Readers (
http://discerningreader.com/). At DR, Tim has over a dozen other reviewers working with him under the excellent leadership of Mark Tubbs. About three months ago I started doing reviews for Tim and Mark at DR and have truly enjoyed my connection with these men.

Tim Challies' site along with Discerning Reader are the two most visited blogs for Evangelical book reviews.

Today, one of the long-time DR reviewers, Leslie Wiggins, shares her views on Sacred Friendships in stop number 17 on the Sacred Friendships Blog Tour. DR has made Leslie's review of Sacred Friendships their featured review for the week.

Leslie begins her review with these words:

In the writings of early church history, women’s voices have gone underrepresented. This realization began Dr. Robert Kellemen’s desire for writing Sacred Friendships. In addition to his work in biblical counseling, his personal passion is to empower “those who have been robbed of their voice.” Like the women they profile in their book, co-author Susan Ellis’ passion lies in ministering to women and seeing God work in their lives. Kellemen and Ellis combined their passions in order to write the stories of more than fifty remarkable Christian women who offered care and direction for the souls of men and women throughout church history.

Leslie concludes her review with this recommendation:

I am happy to recommend Sacred Friendships to Christian women, counselors and mentors, and women in ministry. It’s a perfect book for a women’s book club or small group; the discussion questions are quite thought-provoking and would lend themselves to an edifying small group discussion. Read it with your mentor or use it to begin your own sacred friendship.

But that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. To enjoy Leslie's entire review, please visit her Discerning Reader review at: http://bit.ly/1EzTcf.

To enjoy the entire book, at 40% off, please order at: http://bit.ly/MG1l5.