Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ask the Counselor: “Should I Try to Forget My Past?”

Ask the Counselor: “Should I Try to Forget My Past?”

As a biblical counselor, people often ask me the important question, “Should I try to forget my past?”

I first respond with a one-word answer. “No.”

Then I respond with a blog-size answer using the words:

• Remember
• Reflect
• Repent/Receive/Renew
• Reinterpret
• Retell
• Resources


Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t forget the past. It’s impossible. More importantly, it’s ungodly.

Memory is our God-given capacity to store and recall what we have experienced and learned. Remembering is part of our design by creation—before the fall into sin. “Remember” is used 167 times in the Bible (NIV), thus reminding us of the importance of remembering.

Some people mistakenly interpret Philippians 3:13 to mean that we should try to forget our past. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” The Greek word for “forget” does not mean not to remember, but not to focus my attention on. More importantly, the biblical context is whether Paul would focus his attention on his works of the flesh, attempts at self-righteousness, and putting confidence in the flesh, versus focusing on Christ’s righteousness and the power of Christ’s resurrection.

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is a testimony to the biblical value of remembering. “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia” (2 Cor. 1:8a). Throughout the epistle, Paul recalls and rehearses a litany of past suffering.


In a similar way, the Psalms are a biblical testimonial to the power and value of remembering face-to-face with God. I call it reflecting.

People typically ask about forgetting in the context of dealing with past suffering—being sinned against, or dealing with past sin—sinning against others. I believe that attempting to refuse to remember our past can actually be a symptom of sin.

Trying to suppress past memories of pain (either regarding our suffering or sin) can be a refusal to face and deal with life. It can be an attempt to deal with pain apart from God. We could compare such attempts to self-sufficient “coping mechanisms” such as drinking and drugs—where we try anything to numb our pain, emptiness, or guilt.

In God’s Healing for Life’s Losses, I describe how the Psalmists, Job, Jeremiah, Jesus, and Paul remember face-to-face with Christ through “candor and complaint/lament.” In biblical candor, we’re honest with ourselves regarding our past and present. In biblical complaint/lament, we’re honest with God regarding our past and present.

Rather than attempting to forget, we are to bring to mind past external events and our current internal thoughts and feelings and bring them to Christ. As I put it in the book, “No grieving, no healing.

Know grieving, know healing.” Reflecting on our past is our admission to ourselves and God that we can’t handle our past on our own, that we desperately need Christ.

Repent, Receive Grace, Renew

When our memories of the past relate to our past sin, Christ’s soul-u-tion is to remember, repent, and receive grace. “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev. 2:5).

In Psalms 32 and 51, David models remembering, repenting, receiving grace, and renewing his life by God’s Spirit. Rather than trying the impossible and sinful mental activity of suppressing the memory of his sin, David recalls to mind his sin against God. He repents deeply not only of behavioral sin, but of heart motivational sin.

Having repented, David receives grace—he accepts God’s gracious forgiveness and prays for shalom—a conscience at peace with the God of peace. He then prays that the Spirit would renew a right spirit within him so that he could turn from his path of sin (put off) and return to the path of righteousness (put on).


But what do we do with our emotional agony when we remember past suffering—being sinned against? God’s Word is clear. We never forget, we re-member.

Think about that word: re-member. To put our memories back together again, to shape our memories through God’s eternal grid.

In God’s Healing for Life’s Losses, I use the life of Joseph to portray how God wants us to remember and then reinterpret our past with spiritual eyes. There I call it “weaving.”

In Genesis 50:20 and 45:4-8, Joseph refuses to forget. He calls to mind his suffering past with these words. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

In the Hebrew, the word “intended” can be used in a physical sense for weaving together a tapestry, such as Joseph’s coat of many colors. It can be used in the metaphysical sense in a negative way for weaving together an evil scheme or plot, such as Joseph’s brothers did. Or, it can be used in a positive sense of God weaving together good out of evil.

How do we deal with our past suffering? We look at life with spiritual eyes by bringing to bear God’s eternal narrative, spiritual 20/20 vision, and larger story perspective. Weaving is re-membering—to create wholeness using God’s perspective to bring meaning to our suffering.

That’s how, like Joseph, we find hope when we’re hurting. That’s how, like Joseph, we grant forgiveness to those who have caused our suffering. In so doing we can say, “I grieve, but I don’t despair.”


Being human involves shaping our personal experiences into stories or narratives. That’s part of our God-given capacity of memory. We shape our sense of self and who we are in Christ from our retelling of our experiences.

As spiritual friends, it is when we listen carefully and compassionately to one another’s most important stories that we gain access to how our friends are attempting to make sense of themselves in the context of their past experiences. Our one-to-one relationships and our small group meetings should be places where we retell our stories.

In God’s Healing for Life’s Losses, I discuss how the retelling process moves us from “weaving” to “worshipping.” In worshipping we are committed to finding God even when we can’t find answers.

We are committed to knowing God more than knowing relief from our past. We worship God by retelling our stories like Joseph did—in a way that honors and glorifies God and His role in redeeming our past (see Genesis 45:4-8).

There is no power in forgetting our past. God doesn’t want us to pretend. Of all people, as Christians we must be the most honest about our past. We must remember, reflect, repent/receive/renew, reinterpret, and retell.


Two biblical counseling resources that I think you will find helpful in dealing with your past are:

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting by Bob Kellemen.
Putting Your Past in Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness by Steve Viars.

Join the Conversation

What is your biblical answer to the question, “Should I try to forget my past?”

Saturday, June 04, 2011

“These Are Your Grandbabies!”

“These Are Your Grandbabies!”

Enjoy the last three paragraphs in the Introduction to my upcoming book (September 2001) Equipping Counselors for Your Church: The 4E Ministry Training Strategy.

Sister Ellen Barney is the First Lady (Sr. Pastor’s wife) of a large, predominantly African American church near Baltimore, Maryland. She has implemented the 4E Ministry Training Strategy for over a decade to equip over 1,000 women in her LEAD (Life Encouragers And Disciplers) Ministry.

They do it up big! Their graduation ceremonies are better than many colleges. I remember the first time Sister Ellen invited me to be their commencement speaker. As she introduced me, she looked over the crowd of over 50 graduates, and said, “These are your grandbabies Dr. Kellemen! You trained me and I trained them!” Now, years later, as Sister Ellen has trained trainers who train others, she tells me, “Dr. Kellemen, these are your great-great-grandbabies!”

Do you want to be a spiritual grandparent—discipling disciple-makers? Do you want to pass the baton of ministry? Do you want to change lives? Then equip God’s people to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.

Join the Conversation

Who are your spiritual grandbabies? Do you know who your spiritual grandparent is?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Robust Resources for Changed Lives

Robust Resources for Changed Lives

Where do you turn for in-depth, comprehensive, relational resources that equip you to speak the truth in love so we can all grow together in Christ? There are numerous great sources available in the Evangelical world today. Another cutting-edge resource is coming your way.

Save the date. On Monday, May 2, 2011, the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) will launch its Blog Site: Grace & Truth.

The first week, you can enjoy the following posts from leaders in the biblical counseling movement:

• Monday, May 2: Paul Tripp, The Ultimate Lens on Life
• Tuesday, May 3: Elyse Fitzpatrick, Despising the Shame
• Wednesday, May 4: Steve Viars, Biblical Counseling as a Community Bridge
• Thursday, May 5: Bob Kellemen, Our Competence Comes from Christ
• Friday, May 6: BCC Staff, Five to Live By: The Best of the Best on the Net in Biblical Counseling
• Saturday, May 7: The BCC Interview: Pastor Deepak Reju of Capitol Hill Baptist Church

The BCC Blog Site will also include a list of Featured Blogs and a list of Recommended Websites. The BCC is not about the BCC. The BCC is about bc—biblical counseling—linking you to valuable resources, best-practice churches, premier para-church groups, and conferences you won't want to miss.

Just the First-fruits

And this is just the first of several upcoming BCC “launches.”

In late May to early June, the BCC Book Review site will launch. Every week the BCC will post four biblical counseling book reviews. The site will also provide “The Best of Guides” (such as “The Top Ten Books on Biblical Counseling and Dealing with Anxiety”).

Then throughout the summer and on an ongoing basis, the BCC will launch the Free Resources section of the website. Eventually, the BCC plans to provide 1,000s of free articles, forms, counseling guides, videos, and audio resources.

Three Audiences

Every section of the BCC website will focus on three audiences:

• People seeking biblical care: all of us—people in need of change.
• People providing biblical care: pastors, counselors, spiritual friends.
• People equipping biblical care-givers: educators, equippers, writers.

If you’d like to be placed on the BCC e-mailing list to hear more updates and receive periodic e-blasts and e-newsletters, sign-up on the BCC home page (

Join the Conversation

• What blog post topics would you like to see the BCC address?
• What books would you like the BCC to review?
• What free resource topics would you want the BCC to provide?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Enjoy Five Book Trailer Videos

Enjoy Five Book Trailer Videos

Enjoy Equipping Counselors for Your Church: Watch the book trailer video sharing how to equip others to speak the truth in love.

Enjoy Soul Physicians: Watch the book trailer video sharing how to change lives with Christ's changeless truth.

Enjoy Spiritual Friends: Watch the book trailer video sharing how to care like Christ.

Enjoy Beyond the Suffering: Watch the book trailer video sharing how we can learn from the heroes of the Black Church.

Enjoy What About Bob?: No, not the movie by the same name. Watch a video that finally answers the question, "What does 'RPM' mean?"

Enjoy Our New RPM Ministries YouTube Channel: We've posted over a dozen videos on Christian living and biblical counseling.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Boldly Go

For our new blog site with daily updates and a boatload of free resources, visit RPM Ministries.

My web/tech guy, Jon Barnes created this for me. What a riot! Live long and prosper:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Announcing the Launch of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

Keep Current/Download Free Resources/Read Our Daily Blog at the New RPM Ministries Site:

Announcing the Launch of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

During the past year, over two-dozen leading pastors, biblical counselors, and Christian educators have been prayerfully discussing whether the time is right to launch a new coalition of organizations, leaders, and participants in the biblical counseling movement. Those leaders are excited to announce the official launch of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Pastor Steve Viars, the President of the BCC Board of Directors, captures the BCC’s purpose.

“The BCC is all about promoting relationships and providing resources. There are many tremendous organizations and individuals involved in the biblical counseling movement. The BCC seeks to connect such men and women in a way that creates a natural and healthy synergy. We believe that together we can accomplish more.”

The coalition’s Mission Statement further focuses the BCC’s vision.

The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.

The BCC wants to be a catalyst further strengthening and unifying already-existing biblical counseling ministries, churches, and schools committed to biblical counseling. The BCC is a bridging ministry keeping people connected to and informed about conferences, blogs, resources, and classes offered by other biblical counseling ministries.

The BCC’s Executive Director, Dr. Bob Kellemen, highlights the three-fold audience to which the BCC seeks to minister.

“We want to strengthen the biblical counseling movement by ministering to people who offer care, people who are seeking care, and people who train care-givers. For example, on our site and in links to other sites, people will find blogs, book reviews, videos, and resource articles on a topic such as depression. Some of those resources will be written for those who offer care—pastors, biblical counselors, lay spiritual friends. Some will be written to help the person who is seeking care for depression to find biblical hope and wisdom. Some will discuss depression from a theological perspective so that those who train care-givers can be stretched through the iron-sharpening-iron process.”

The Biblical Counseling Coalition seeks to serve the entire church. Pastor Garrett Higbee, who serves as the Treasurer of the BCC Board, explains that:

“More than counseling, the vision of the BCC is for the entire church to speak God’s truth in love. We want to motivate and equip folks at the most basic levels of self-counsel, one-another ministry, small group leadership, and intentional discipleship. We want counseling with truth and love to become viral in the church and to be a foundational part of every discipleship-based ministry.”

Learn more about the BCC’s robust, relational vision of biblical counseling by visiting the Biblical Counseling Coalition. At the “under construction” website you’ll find:

• The BCC’s Confessional Statement
• The BCC’s Doctrinal Statement
• The BCC’s Mission/Vision/Passion Statement
• A Welcome from Pastor Steve Viars, the President of the BCC’s Board of Directors
• A Welcome from Dr. Bob Kellemen, the Executive Director of the BCC
• Bios of the BCC’s Board of Directors and Council Board Members
• Testimonials: “Why We Need the BCC”
• Coming Soon: A Listing of Resources the BCC Will Be Offering

Email: and

Promoting Personal Change Centered on the Person of Christ
Ephesians 4:11-16

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is Black History Month Still Necessary?

Is Black History Month Still Necessary?

As I speak around the country on Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, I’m frequently asked, “What do you think about Black History Month?” The question comes from my African American friends, many of whom are divided on the issue. Some think Black History Month is a net positive for African Americans, while others believe it is a net negative. The question also comes from my non-African American friends, who are equally split, and for various reasons. Having outlined The History of Black History Month now it’s time to discuss Is Black History Month Still Necessary?

Is Morgan Freeman Right?

Morgan Freeman, a long-time critic of the holiday, strongly believes that Black History Month is not just unnecessary but “ridiculous.” According to Freeman in a December 2005, 60 Minutes interview, Black history should not be relegated to a month. In fact, argues Freeman, Black history, after all, is American history.

Jessica McElrath asks it this way, “Has African American history now converged with American history, and, therefore, should the celebration be eliminated?”

Some believe that this is the case. According to Rochelle Riley, yes, the time has come to end Black History Month. Riley asserts that Black history is American history. So, suggests Riley, it’s time to stop celebrating, learning, and being American separately. It’s time to be an America where learning about Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians is part of school curriculums.

Jesse Washington, AP National Writer, asks the question with his title, “Time to End Black History Month?” He opens with the follow-up question, “Should Black History Month itself fade into history?”

Many people, both Whites and Blacks, argue that Black history should be incorporated into year-round education. Washington quotes Stephen Donovan, a 41-year-old lawyer, saying, “If Obama’s election means anything, it means that African American history IS American history and should be remembered and recognized every day of the year.”

Donovan believes that ending “paternalistic” observations like Black History Month would lead to not “only a reduction in racism, but Whites more ready, willing, and able to celebrate our differences and enjoy our traditions without feeling the strain of guilt that stifles frank dialogue and acceptance across cultures?”

What Does Our President Think?

Other portions of Washington’s article support another side of the story: the continued need for Black History Month. President Obama, like all his predecessors since the 1970s, believes Black History Month should continue. He lauded “National African American History Month” calling upon “public officials, educators, librarians, and all people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of African American history.”

Daryl Scott, Chairman of the history department at Howard University believes Black History Month is still needed to solidify and build upon America’s racial gains. “To know about the people who make up society is to make a better society. A multiracial, multiethnic society has to work at its relationships, just like you have to work at your marriage.”

“I don’t see it going away,” said Spencer Crew, a history professor at George Mason University, adding that a diverse year-round history curriculum can still be augmented in depth during Black History Month. “There’s a Women’s History Month,” Crew said. “No one would argue that we don’t need to be reminded of women who have done things that are important.”

Jessica McElrath surmises that most historians and African Americans believe that Black History Month remains necessary. According to McElrath, Black History Month is the only time of the year when Black history is recognized in many schools. She argues that schools often focus on White history year round, and, therefore, Black History Month is a necessary celebration.

Are We Fair and Balanced Yet?

Much of the discussion about whether Black History Month is still necessary relates to whether “main stream” history is accurately covering Black history year-round. My specialty is Black Church history, so I’ll speak to that. Evangelical Black Church history is not being fairly covered year round…not even close.

As Karole Edwards and I researched the history of African American soul care and spiritual direction, we found hundreds of primary sources for Black Church history from 1500-1900 (our time-frame). However, when we looked in secondary sources written today about American Church history, we found an embarrassing dearth of focus on women and minorities. Even in 2011, most general texts on American Church history continue to focus on dead White guys.

I’m not against the dead White guys. One day I will be one of them! I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on one of them: Martin Luther.

I’m simply of the conviction that fair and balanced history is still not being written. Just today I received the following testimonial to this fact.

“I hold an MA in biblical counseling from an Evangelical seminary. I also did coursework in ethics related to race relations. I ordered your book Beyond the Suffering and was deeply touched by it. It is a book that I longed for while in seminary as the majority of my textbooks were from an Anglo-American perspective.”

Others agree. As I present around the country on Heroes of the Black Church, participants are angry. In their Evangelical Bible colleges, Christian liberal arts colleges, and seminaries, they’re taking Church history courses and hearing nothing about Black Church history, especially Evangelical Black Church history. I’m being told that even Historically Black Colleges and Universities are not teaching about Evangelical Black Church history.

I always find it interesting when someone says, “Let’s just read about good people of all races and not focus on just one race!” I like to follow-up with the question, “So tell me the most recent book you’ve read, especially the most recent American Church history book that talked about anyone other than dead White guys…”

Or, I’ll ask, “So tell me some great heroes of the faith who are from a culture different from yours…”

Unfortunately, 99% of people can’t provide an answer. In theory, we say we want to read about all people of all cultures. In reality, most general studies books on American Church history are only about the dead White guys. And most of us read only about people who are like us.

What Does God’s Word Say?

We’ll celebrate unity in diversity in heaven for all eternity according to Revelation 7:9-10. God’s end game is not one homogenous group, but unity in diversity. Such unity in diversity reflects God. Our Trinitarian God is Three-in-One: unity in diversity.

Even if racism, prejudice, and imbalanced awareness were wiped from the face of the earth, the Bible still commands us to value diversity throughout eternity. The end of racism would not be the end of diversity. It would be the beginning of unity in diversity. There’s a world of difference.
While people may debate whether “race” is culturally-constructed, the Bible is clear that culture is God-constructed and approved. God does not want us to be “culture-blind.” He wants us to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate our differences in biblical unity.

What Should We Do Now?

Ideally, life could and should be both/and. We could have books that highlight the unique accomplishments of various cultural groups—celebrating their legacy. And, we could have books that integrate in a fair and balanced way the contributions of all cultural groups.

The same could be true of “history months.” We could have months celebrating specific cultural groups. And, we could and should, year-round, celebrate the contributions of all cultural groups.

Given the clearly documented lack of past and current historical balance (dead White guys getting all the press and other cultures and women given little honor), it is still necessary to highlight “minority cultures” and women in special months, books, etc. We can do this while also working toward integrating men and women, and people of all cultures, into year-round study and into overview books.

Join the Conversation

What do you think? Is Black History Month still necessary?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling

Remember to visit our new site with daily blog updates at RPM Ministries.

The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling

Note: The Gospel Coalition originally posted the following article I wrote on The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling.

As I speak around the country on biblical counseling, I typically hear two very different responses. Sometimes I’m asked, “When you say ‘biblical counseling,’ you don’t mean ___________ do you?” Various people fill in that blank with different labels—negative to them. What a shame that placing the word “biblical” in front of “counseling” causes some in the church to recoil in fear.

But there’s good news—the tide is turning. I consistently hear comments like, “God has used biblical counseling to change my life.” And, “Our church’s biblical counseling ministry is impacting our entire congregation and our community for God’s glory.”

It’s exciting to reflect on what God is doing as He empowers leaders to equip His people to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:11-16). With that reality as the backdrop, here are the top ten positive trends that I see in biblical counseling today—shared in reverse order, of course, to heighten the anticipation.

10. A Collegial Spirit

Increasingly, members of biblical counseling organizations are choosing to work together and to learn from each other. The 2010 launch of the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) is just one example. The vision of Pastor James MacDonald and Pastor Steve Viars, the BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship. BCC President Steve Viars, explains this collegial vision:

“The BCC is about relationships and resources. Relationships because we believe that together we can accomplish more. Resources because we want to help everyone interested in practicing biblical counseling in their churches to have the best tools and training possible.”

To read the rest of the post, visit The Gospel Coalition site for The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling.

To read the entire post in a PDF format, visit the RPM Ministries site at The Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Healing for the Holidays: Recap—Merry Christmas!

Healing for the Holidays: Recap—Merry Christmas!

Over the past three weeks I have been posting at RPM Ministries a ten-part blog mini-series called Healing for the Holidays. That series is now complete.

I’m making it available to you as an early Christmas gift. I’ve collated the entire series into a twenty-page PDF and placed on it my RPM Ministries website under Free Resources. You can find it there, or click this link to open it now: Healing for the Holidays.

You may be thinking, “I don't need holiday healing. I love the holidays!” Awesome. But perhaps not all your friends and family members will experience the next 30 days quite as joyously as you will. Feel free to forward them a copy or to use the principles you learn to minister to them.

Merry Christmas!

Oh…speaking of Christmas, here’s a Christmas gift idea. I’ve “bundled” my latest book, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses so that you can purchase ten copies for just $9.99 each and also save on SH. You can order at the RPM Store.

Of course, you can still buy one copy at 35% off for just $10.99 as another Christmas special.

Designed in gift-book format and written with the grieving person in mind, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is a thoughtful gift this Christmas season. Enjoy a free sample chapter and three-dozen quotes of note at the God’s Healing for Life’s Losses Page.

If you want to learn more about the book, check out the featured article at Everyday Christian: Grieving with Hope.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Healing for the Holidays

Healing for the Holidays

Note: Please visit RPM Ministries for my new website, daily blogs, free resources, book reviews, and my books.

Holidays… They’re “supposed” to make us think of words like thankful, merry, and happy. We’re “supposed” to associate holidays with a phrase like “Home for the Holidays!”

But… what if a loved one is not coming home this holiday season? What if death, divorce, or distance causes us to associate the holidays with words and feelings like depression, anxiety, and stress?

Holidays can create fresh memories of our loss and a fresh experience of pain and grief. The thought of facing another holiday season causes some people to wish they could sleep from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until January 2. Loss is always hard, and at the holidays it can seem crushing. The thought of being in a festive mood for two months is just too much to bear when our heart is breaking.

A Note to Those Who Are Happy at the Holidays

Some of you might be thinking, “Bob. Don’t be such a downer. I love the holidays!” Awesome. I have no desire to diminish your joy.

However, your experience is not universal. For many of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives, the holidays are bittersweet. So keep reading…if not for yourself, then for others—so you can empathize with and care for those who need healing for the holidays.

A Promise to Those Who Long for Healing for the Holidays

Jesus understands. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I include this verse every time I autograph a copy of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

In this one verse, Jesus gives you permission to grieve and permission to hope. Jesus is real and raw, just like life can be. He is also honest and hope-giving. His words, His life, death, and resurrection, give us healing hope.

The Apostle Paul offers the same message of sorrow mingled with healing. Sharing with Christians who had lost loved ones, Paul speaks of Christian grief—grieving with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

In this first post in our blog “mini-series” I want to follow the lead of Jesus and Paul by giving you:

• Permission to Grieve: Hurting During the Holidays
• Reason to Hope: Healing for the Holidays

In subsequent posts, I want to journey with you through biblical, practical, relevant ways you can grieve and grow, heal and hope.

Permission to Grieve: Hurting During the Holidays—It’s Normal to Hurt

It’s normal to hurt. When you see the empty chair during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s normal to hurt. When you unwrap the ornament that was your loved one’s favorite, it’s normal to hurt. When you usher in a new year apart from someone you love dearly, it’s normal to hurt.

Loss and separation are intruders. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. God designed us for relationship—it is not good to be alone.

Jesus did not just talk about loss and grief, He experienced it. When Jesus saw Mary weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus, he was deeply moved (John 11:33). Coming to Lazarus’ tomb, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

On the cross, experiencing separation from His Father, Jesus cried out. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

If the perfect, sinless God-man Jesus wept over loss, then it is normal to hurt. If Jesus agonized over separation from His Father, then you have permission to grieve.

Paul did not just talk about loss and grief, he experienced it. Imprisoned and separated from Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul writes, “Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I might be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1:3-4).

Toward the end of his life, almost totally alone, Paul recalls, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:16).

Memory is a great blessing—and can be a great curse. The memory of relatives separated from us by death, divorce, or distance is a legitimate source of great pain and a legitimate reason to hurt.

Reason to Hope: Healing for the Holidays—It’s Possible to Hope

It’s possible to hope. In the midst of Paul’s grief over being deserted and betrayed he also said, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17).

At another point of candid grief, Paul shared that he “despaired even of life” and “felt the sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). Yet, he also knew, “This happened to us that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). With Christ you have reason to hope for healing for the holidays. Loss is not final or fatal. It’s possible to hope.

Jesus, forsaken by His Father because of our sin, was raised from the dead by His Father. Even more (if you can say “even more” about the resurrection!) He is now seated at the right hand of the Father! Reunion. Relationship. Oneness.

Separation is not final with Christ. It’s possible to hope because our God is the God who raises the dead. He can resurrect your hope.

The Rest of the Story

You may be thinking, “That helps to know that I have permission to grieve, but what do I do with my hurt during the holidays?” And you may be asking, “I’m glad for the promise of healing for the holidays, but how do I find it?” Great questions. We’ll journey together in subsequent posts to find God’s answers for life’s losses.

Join the Conversation

Shakespeare said, “Give sorrow words.” What words would you give your sorrow over your hurt during the holidays? What glimmers of hope and healing are you seeing this holiday season?

Help for Your Healing Journey

For additional help on your healing journey, learn more about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

“Here I Stand!”: Martin Luther’s Story, Part 2—A Spiritual Pauper

“Here I Stand!”: Martin Luther’s Story, Part 2—A Spiritual Pauper

Note: Please visit RPM Ministries for our new site.

Note: This week’s posts share a dramatic reading that I present in character as Martin Luther telling his story of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. To read Part 1, click on Unable to Satisfy God. Click on the following link for a 200-page presentation of Martin Luther’s Pastoral Counseling.

Recap: When we last heard from Martin Luther, he was sharing with us: “My conscience was terrified. My spirit despaired. I was unable to satisfy God at any point. What could I do?”

B. Standing before God with Filthy Rags and Ashamed

I did exactly what the Church taught me to do. I latched onto every help that the Church had to offer: the monastery, works, sacraments, pilgrimages, indulgences—everything. It was only years later that I discovered that all my works of righteousness left me standing before God ashamed of my filthy rags. Walk with me down the foolish road of works. Walk first with me into the monastery where I tried on the garment of the filthy rags of good works.

1. The Filthy Rags of Works: Monkery in the Monastery

I entered the monastery to find peace with God, to earn peace with God. I knew that I could never appear before the tribunal of a terrible God with an impure heart; so I must become holy. What better place to practice good works unto holiness than in the monastery? Here lived heroic athletes rigorously training to take heaven by storm.

One of the privileges of monastic life was that it freed me from all distractions, allowing me to strive to save my soul through works of chastity, charity, sobriety, poverty, love, obedience, fastings, vigils, and mortification of the flesh. Whatever good works a man might do to save himself, I was resolved to perform.

I was a good monk and I kept the rules of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery, it was I! All my brothers in the monastery who knew me testify to this. If I had kept on any longer, I would have killed myself with vigils, prayers, fasting, and other disciplines.

For instance, when I was a monk, I was unwilling to omit any of my required prayers. However, when I was busy with public lecturing and writing, I often accumulated my appointed prayers for a whole week, or even two, or three. Then I would take a Saturday off, or shut myself in for as long as three days without food and drink, until I had said the prescribed prayers. This made my head split, and consequently I could not close my eyes for five nights. I lay sick unto death, and went out of my senses. I thought I could save my soul by punishing my body.

Though driven there for soul rest, the monastic life of good works failed to ease my guilt. Bowed down by sorrow, I tortured myself with the multitude of my thoughts. I would say to myself, “Look! You are still envious, impatient, passionate! It profits you nothing, O wretched man, to have entered this sacred order.”

I clearly recognized the futility of my good works when I said my first Mass. I wrote my father about my ordeal.

Here I experienced another thunderstorm, this one in my spirit. I stood before the altar and began to recite the introductory portion of the Mass. Then I came to the words, “We offer unto Thee, the living, the true, the eternal God.” At that very moment, the terror of the Holy struck me like lightning. At these words I was utterly terror-stricken. I thought to myself, “With what tongue shall I address such Majesty, seeing that all men ought to tremble in the presence of even an earthly prince. Who am I, that I should lift up mine eyes or raise my hands to the Divine Majesty? And shall I, a miserable little pygmy, say, ‘I want this, I ask for that?’ For I am dust and ashes and full of sin and I am speaking to the living, eternal, and the true God.”

In short, as a monk I experienced the horrors, the shame, and the futility of trying to earn peace with God through good works.

2. The Filthy Rags of the Merits of the Saints: Indulging in Indulgences

I hungered to find assurance of my salvation. However, the rigors of the monastic life could not calm my clamoring conscience. I saw that I was a great sinner in the eyes of God and I realized how impossible it would be for me to please God on my own merits. So I fled to the merits of the saints.

Though I was not good enough, perhaps the pooled goodness of all the saints would be good enough to please God. I believed the Church’s teaching that the combined goodness of the saints, especially of the Blessed Virgin Mary, could save me. Mary, I was taught, was better than she needed to be for her own salvation. The extra merit of her righteousness constituted a treasury that the Church could transfer to my account. In other words, I would borrow her goodness to make up for my lack. Such a transfer or borrowing, the Pope called an indulgence.

Wanting to take full benefit of such a transfer, I felt myself highly privileged when the opportunity arose to go to Rome. Rome, like no city on earth, was richly endowed with spiritual indulgences. I could touch a piece of the very cross on which Christ died and shorten my time of punishment by 17,000 years. Each “Hail Mary” I said before the statue of the Blessed Virgin would earn me ten years worth of good works. I felt truly blessed to be able to climb, on hands and knees, the very stairs Christ climbed in Pilate’s temple. Each “Our Father” said on each step was worth nine years’ forgiveness, and an “Our Father” said on the step with the silver cross was worth double merit. I even kissed each step for good measure.

However, arriving at the top stair, I raised myself to full height and exclaimed, “Who knows whether it is so?” I had gone to Rome with the onions of my good works, and returned home only with the garlic of the merits of the saints.

My chief concern in going to Rome was that I might become a saint through the merits of the saints. Yet, all I found in Rome was the shamelessness, godlessness, and wickedness of all people, so-called saints included. For they, too, were sinners, unworthy of a holy God. How could they possibly offer me anything acceptable to God? I was striving after my own good works and the merits of the saints in order to compensate for my sins, but I could never feel that the ledger was balanced.

3. The Filthy Rags of the Sacrament of Penance: Confessions about Confession

I could not acquire heaven by becoming a saint, nor by the merits of the saints. However, I had one more set of filthy rags to wear—the filthy rags of the sacrament of penance. I was taught that the sacraments—like baptism, communion, confession or penance—actually added or dispensed grace. We may not be good enough, the saints may not be good enough, but the Church can add to our goodness because our participation in a sacrament serves as a reservoir for accumulating more of Christ’s grace.

In particular, I availed myself of the sacrament of penance or confession to a priest. I confessed frequently, often daily for as long as six hours. I believed that every sin, in order to be absolved or forgiven, had to be specifically confessed. Therefore, I had to search my memory for sins of action and sins of motivation. I would review my entire life to be sure to remember everything, until even my confessor grew weary.

The great difficulty I experienced was my lack of assurance that I had recalled everything. My soul would recoil in horror when, after six hours of confession to a priest, a new sin would come to mind that I had not recalled. Even more frightening was the realization that a sinner like me did not even recognize some sins as sins. I went every day to confession, but it was of no use to me. I always thought. “You did not perform that correctly. God has not forgiven you.”

I had recourse to a thousand methods to stifle the cries of my conscience. Yet I despaired because I always doubted that God was gracious to me. I could find no portal of salvation. I could not enter into fellowship with God through the harbor of my own good works. I could not approach God through the window of the merits of the saints. I could not draw near to God through the door of the Church.

I came to realize that the religious answers of my day would never quiet my soul. I came to realize that all human beings and all human institutions were spiritually impoverished. I was a spiritual pauper.

The Rest of the Story

I invite you to return tomorrow as we learn how Martin Luther turned from works to faith.

Join the Conversation

What futile works did you cling to before you placed your faith in Christ’s finished work?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Let's Roll! Lisa Beamer, Todd Beamer, and Spiritual Friends

Let’s Roll! Lisa Beamer, Todd Beamer, and Spiritual Friendship

In a spiritual crisis, what does a spiritual friend look like? How do spiritual friends turn you to Christ in a crisis? Lisa Beamer’s story provides a beautiful portrait.

To read the rest of this blog, visit our new blog site and for this particular post click here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Walk in the Word Partnership

Walk in the Word Partnership

Pastor James MacDonald, founding Sr. Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel and host of the radio program Walk in the Word is partnering with Bob Kellemen, BMH Books, and GriefShare on God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. Pastor James has chosen God’s Healing for Life’s Losses as the featured resource for his program from August 15th to August 30th.

Here’s just one snippet of several that you can hear the next two weeks on Walk in the Word regarding what Pastor James has to say about the book.

Announcer: “I’m excited to tell you about a brand new book called God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. You know James, when someone’s going through a hard time, isn’t it good to point them to the wisdom of God’s Word?”

Pastor James MacDonald: “I love people who can take God’s Word, teach it without apology, and bring it to bear on the questions that people are asking. The Bible has the answers to life’s most complex questions, and Bob faithfully brings out those answers. That’s why we need to rely upon trusted teachers like Bob who have the skill to bring God’s Word to bear upon the things that are most perplexing in life.”

Announcer: “That’s right, and one of those trusted teachers, Bob Kellemen, provides excellent biblical help for those who are hurting. You’re invited to get in touch with us today for his book entitled, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting. The book is available right now when you give a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Walk in the Word. Call 888-581-9673. You can also go online to Or, if you prefer writing to us, just include a donation of any amount with your request for the book God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. Write to: Walk in the Word, PO Box 5368, Elgin, IL 60121.”

More About Walk in the Word

Walk in the Word is the Bible teaching ministry of Dr. James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in the suburbs of Chicago. The radio program emphasizes the precise exposition of God’s Word along with life application. Igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth is not just their motto—it’s their daily commitment. Through audio, video, web, printed resources, and listener events, Walk in the Word provides personal and practical teaching that leads listeners to the transforming power of God.

Join the Conversation

What impact has Pastor James MacDonald’s ministry had on your life?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Others Are Saying about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses

What Others Are Saying about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses

The Big Idea: Two dozen book reviewers are blogging their thoughts on my latest book God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. Below, you’ll find a link to each review, the name of their blog, plus a brief snippet of their review. Post a comment on one of their blogs by August 1, for a chance to win a free copy.

Rick Howerton: Small Group World.

“Blindsided, Ambushed, Amazed, Inspired… the list could go on and on. When Bob asked me to read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses for his blog tour, I was honored but saw little opportunity to aid the small group community. That is, until I had finished reading this amazing manuscript. This treasure that includes multiple pages filled with questions for personal reflection is a perfect tool for dealing with personal loss as well as the training of small group leaders. Small group pastor… I would suggest you get copies of this book and spend ten weeks with your small group leaders. Some of your group leaders will finally deal with past hurt that they have chosen to deny. The rest will learn the stages and phases of grief. They will be prepared to help their group members find hope, help, and healing when grief invades his/her space. Get this book, read it yourself, and then use it to equip your leaders.”

Mark Tubbs: Discerning Reader.

“So much more could be said about this book and so much could be quoted from it, but I leave it up to the reader to order a copy and delve in. Or order two copies and involve a friend in the process. Pastors, counselors, and small group leaders, this book is bound to be a source of hope for those under your care who are grieving. Not only that, but it commends itself as a teaching tool in preparing Christians to suffer in a God-honoring, biblical way.”

Brad Hambrick: A Blog from a Counselor for the Church.

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses takes on traditional thoughts about grief and loss and turns them upside down. There is refreshing honesty about the pain of loss and the permission to be real with God and others as we embrace the mourning process together. This book is biblical, personal, and healing; I highly recommend it.”

Mark Kelly: Grace Dependent.

“Exuding hope, this book becomes a wonderful resource that compassionately directs the reader to find healing for life’s losses in Christ and with Christ. I encourage you to purchase a copy of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses for your own personal journey, and perhaps, a second copy for a friend or family member going through a time of loss, suffering or grief. This book would also be a valuable tool for a support group as they work through the grieving process.”

Julie Ganschow: Biblical Counseling for Women.

“From time to time I come across a book that I want to tell you about because it makes a profound impact on my life and I think it will benefit many of you. I found such a book in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. This is a wonderful new book by Dr. Robert Kellemen and it is a book that I have personally been waiting for, for a long time.”

Keiki Hendrix: Vessel Project.

“A book complete on grief, loss, and despair that encourages the reader to seek God as their source of healing. Bob Kellemen has compiled an exceptional resource in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. A great resource written by an experienced Christian Counselor who includes personal accounts of periods of grief.”

Leslie Wiggins: Alabamenagerie.

“This book surprised me. It’s small, but more helpful than most books on grief that are twice its size. In fact, its size makes it ideal for giving. Pastors, counselors, and those who often find themselves in a position to comfort others in pain, will want to use this book as a resource and as a gift for those who are hurting. I discovered a book whose message is more than just how to find healing after a loss; it’s about journeying with God through life in this broken, sin-filled world.”

Kellie Harbaugh: Tabitha’s Team.

“‘We live in a fallen world and it often falls on us,’ Dr. Kellemen explains in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. This has become one of my favorite quotes. Dr. Kellemen does not assume that a couple of Scripture verses and a prayer will make everything all better. But he also doesn’t leave you empty-handed… If you like to journal, you will love the questions that are asked throughout the book as prompts for you to journal your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your journey to healing. If you have a friend who experiencing grief or depression, this would be a great gift.”

Cathy Bryant: Word Vessel.

“Words really seem inadequate to express the need I see for this wonderful book by Dr. Kellemen. Packed with scriptural references, God’s Healing For Life’s Losses contrasts the world’s method of coping with loss with God’s ways. The gift-book size makes this book easy to hold and read, but it’s not a book to be skimmed through lightly or quickly. Instead it needs to be prayerfully entered and slowly digested, allowing the truths of God to sink in and soothe the soul. I highly recommend this wonderful book.”

Sandra Peoples: Heart for Him.

“This concise book is packed with hope for those who are hurting. The highlight of this book for me was the explanation of ‘Biblical Sufferology’ (chart on page 10). The five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—are contrasted with the biblical grief response—candor, complaint, cry, comfort. Kellemen writes, ‘We have two basic options. We can turn to the world’s way. Or we can follow the way of God’s Word’ (16). God’s Word is where we find hope!”

Lucy Ann Mull: The Sisterhood of Beautiful Warriors.

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses provides valuable wisdom and encouragement for women or men who suffer any life loss, including divorce, church conflict, the empty nest, death of a loved one. Easy to read, practical and uplifting. Highly recommended.”

Greg Baily: Word for Men.

“I am currently ministering to two recent widows and one spouse who have just hit the reality that her husband is headed to his Creator at an accelerating speed. I am going to buy more copies of this book for them, and am talking to the local director of a Biblical counseling center and my pastor about ordering a few dozen for myself, another chaplain I know and for their ministries use also. It is that helpful and that truthful. My money will be where my mouth is.”

Cindy Baily: Word for Women.

(By Greg Baily): “Dr. Kellemen has been given a unique Christian insight into ‘sufferology’ and grieving. As one who wanted to help but only seemed to have a mish-mash of secular observation about human nature and some meaty Biblical concepts I thoroughly embrace God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. The book is made very accessible because he uses case studies to outline his Biblical stages, often of himself as he suffered through a great grief in his life.”

Angela Dockter-Harris: Dance in the Rain.

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses provides such comfort to understanding sorrow and suffering. This is a must read book for those who are hurting as well as those who minister to hurting people on a daily basis. I suggest that those in ministry have several copies on hand to share.”

Kim Morris McNabney: Writing from the Soul.

“I believe this book would be an amazing tool for those stuck in suffering, and worthlessness, and despair. Those that have been struck down by addiction, or found themselves behind bars. They need to hear the good news this book has to offer. It isn’t often that I wish to be rich, but after reading this book I wish I had the funds to purchase this wonderful book for those in my life, as well as all those that cross my path that I fear are hurt, and suffering.”

Cornelius Jemison: My Musings from a Biblical Worldview.

“As a beginning student in theology, I can write a theology paper about suffering and come up with clever statements that describe the process of suffering/troubles/tribulations and the implications of believers, but it’s another thing when you are hemmed in, hurting, angry, and bitter with God. After reading Dr. Robert Kellemen’s book: God’s Healing for Life’s Losses I don’t feel that way anymore. In his book he describes the biblical and personal process of healing.”

Joe Donaldson: View from the Second Chair.

“This is a book that I will recommend to my colleagues, to those who counsel and care for those who are grieving, and for all who finds themselves in need of healing from life’s losses. I found it to be well-written, thoughtful, and immensely practical.”

John Starke: The Gospel Coalition Reviews.

Author Interview: “Who should read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?”

“Sometimes the second we hear words like loss and grief, our minds focus exclusively on death and dying. God’s Healing for Life’s Losses focuses on any type of loss—from the grand loss of death, to the daily casket experiences of the loss of a job, the loss of a dream, the loss of a relationship… So anyone struggling with any life loss would benefit from reading God’s Healing.”

Aaron Taylor: Deep Thoughts with Aaron Taylor.

Author Interview: “What’s the “big idea” behind God’s Healing for Life’s Losses? What would you like readers to take away from it?”

“In a biblical sentence: you can grieve with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). God’s Healing for Life’s Losses gives readers permission to grieve and offers a pathway toward hope. I want people to see their suffering from God’s perspective without denying the reality that suffering still hurts. What would I like readers to take away? The title and subtitle say it best. I’d like readers to walk away with God’s healing hope.”

Lynn Mosher: Heading Home.

Author Interview: “Why did you write God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?”

“Christians long for an approach that faces suffering honestly and engages sufferers passionately—all in the context of presenting truth biblically and relevantly. We need to be able to face life’s losses in the context of God’s healing. Jesus did. ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).”

Bill Higley: Dialgoue.

Author Interview (Review Forthcoming): “What motivated you to write God’s Healing for Life’s Losses?

“My ministry to real people with real hurts motivated me to write God’s Healing for Life’s Losses. People quickly grow weary of Christian books that pretend. They’re tired of Christian counselors and well-meaning friends who dispense far too much “happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind.” They’re also gravely disappointed when the answers to their questions about suffering reflect more of the wisdom of the world than of the truth of God’s Word. The purpose of the book, as the title and sub-title suggest, is to assist people on their grief and growth journey to find God’s healing hope in their hurts and losses.”

Join the Conversation

What resources have you found valuable in dealing with suffering, grief, and loss?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

International Grief Ministry Endorses God's Healing for Life's Losses

International Grief Ministry Endorses God's Healing for Life's Losses

WAKE FOREST, NC, July 17/Christian Newswire

Author Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, has released the GriefShare edition of his new book for people facing loss and grief.

Contact: Samuel Hodges, 800-395-5755 ext. 247,

Christian counselor Dr. Robert W. Kellemen and BMH Publishers have released the GriefShare edition of "God's Healing for Life's Losses." GriefShare, a network of thousands of grief support group ministries worldwide, is excited about the hope-filled, relevant help this book can bring to people experiencing loss and grief.

In 2006 GriefShare selected Kellemen to be a featured expert in its new GriefShare video series. GriefShare grief support groups bring respected Christian counselors, authors and teachers into local churches to help grieving people via weekly videos. Participants receive comforting, foundational teaching from Robert Kellemen, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Dr. Paul Tripp, Dr. David Powlison, Dr. Edward Welch, Anne Graham Lotz, H. Norman Wright, Dr. Larry Crabb and over 35 others.

With the release of Kellemen's new book, Steve Grissom, founder and president of Church Initiative, GriefShare's parent ministry, is optimistic that even more people will benefit from Kellemen's insights. People who've heard Kellemen's teaching in the past will enjoy even more in-depth, encouraging counsel through "God's Healing for Life's Losses." Readers will find comfort and hope as they discover God's active role in their healing. They'll learn how to experience deep healing and lasting peace in a world of suffering and pain.

The big idea behind Kellemen's book is that it is possible to grieve with hope without denying the reality of suffering. As such, "God's Healing for Life's Losses" gives readers permission to grieve and offers a pathway toward healing.

Grissom explains GriefShare's decision to endorse Kellemen's book: "People in grief can be voracious readers, looking for anything to ease the pain. And unfortunately, many popular self-help books are filled with advice that is inconsistent with the Bible, which will ultimately hurt them more. 'God's Healing for Life's Losses' is a biblically consistent, solid resource that can be read and recommended with assurance."

To learn more about GriefShare, visit To purchase "God's Healing for Life's Losses," visit the GriefShare Personal Help Store ( and look in the Grief Recovery section. Or purchase your copy at Dr. Kellemen’s RPM Ministries Bookstore.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why You'll Want to Read God's Healing for Life's Losses

Why You'll Want to Read God's Healing for Life's Losses

Note: Remember to bookmark my fresh new site with daily blogs and 100s of free resources: RPM Ministries.

BMH Books just released my latest book, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.

Why This Book at This Time?

With all the books clamoring for your attention, why this book? Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

• Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses because you’re ready for real and raw, honest and hopeful conversation about suffering, loss, and grief—from a Christian perspective.

• Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses because when life’s losses invade your world you want to learn how to face suffering face-to-face with God.

• Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses because you’re tired of quick quips (“Just trust God”) and false hopes (“Time heals all wounds”).

• Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses because you want to find real answers for real people with real struggles.

The Journey from Grief and Hurt to Growth and Healing

Written in a gift book format, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses includes two built-in application/discussion guides making it perfect for individual or group study. Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses to learn how to journey:

• From Denial to Candor: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
• From Anger to Complaint: A Lament for Your Loss
• From Bargaining to Crying Out to God: I Surrender All
• From Depression to Comfort: God Comes
• From Regrouping to Waiting: When God Says “Not Yet”
• From Deadening to Wailing: Pregnant with Hope
• From Despairing to Weaving: Spiritual Mathematics
• From Digging Cisterns to Worshipping: Finding God

Why Others Think You Should Read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses

Of course, I’m biased. So…you may want to hear what others are saying about why you’ll want to read God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

• Read Pastor Steve Viars’ Foreword.

• Read the Endorsement by Steve Grissom, Founder of the International GriefShare network. This is the first book that the internationally-known GriefShare has ever endorsed.

• Read Recommendations from ten leaders in the field of Christian grief recovery.

Read a Free Sample Chapter

I believe so much in the message of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses that I want to give it away. I wish I could give it all away. But at least I can offer you a complimentary read of the Introduction.

Receive Your Autographed Copy

If you’d like an autographed copy of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses at 33% off, visit the RPM Ministries Store.

Join the Conversation

When suffering invades your world, how do you face suffering face-to-face with God?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Remedy for Secular Psychology

Remember to visit and bookmark my fresh new site:

I’ve added scores of new free resources, book reviews, videos, and more—all because I know you want to change lives.

The Remedy for Secular Psychology

A friend shares with you a set of emotional symptoms that leave the two of you stumped. Where do you turn for answers that make a real difference?

A parishioner tells you about a decade-old “besetting sin” that they just can’t find victory over. Where do you turn to discern root causes and robust cures?

Real Answers for Real People with Real Problems

Whether you’re a lay person or a pastor, where do you turn for real answers?

Unfortunately, too often, in our sincere desire to help our hurting friends, we race to the latest trends. We turn to secular psychology and find human-shaped answers for God-shaped problems. We discover human-sized solutions when what we really need are God-sized SOUL-u-tions.

There has to be a better way.

There is. It’s God’s way. It’s learning to be a soul physician from the ultimate Soul Physician—Christ. It’s Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation.

It’s the way the Apostle Paul spoke about and prayed about in Philippians. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9).

Soul Physicians: The Remedy for Secular Psychology

It was in my first pastoral ministry that I began equipping lay people and pastors to become soul physicians. I longed for them to understand people, diagnose problems, and prescribe solutions—biblically. I long for you to do the same.

Twenty-five years later, I authored Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. It’s the remedy for secular psychology.

It’s also the remedy for “take two verses and call me in the morning.” It remedies “secular help” and “shallow help.”

Soul Physicians helps you to help your friends. It empowers you to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.

Unique Focus: Life’s Seven Ultimate Questions

Soul Physicians explores from the Scriptures seven truths that shape the way we see life and ministry. These truths about life’s seven ultimate questions teach us what makes biblical counseling truly biblical.

• Question 1: “What is truth? Where do I find answers?” Answer 1—The Word: “God’s Word is sufficient, authoritative, profound, and relevant.”

• Question 2: “Who is God?” Answer 2—Community/The Creator: “God is Trinitarian.”

• Question 3: “Who am I”? Answer 3—Creation: “We are created with dignity by God in the image of Christ.”

• Question 4: “What went wrong?” Answer 4—Fall: “We sinfully and foolishly choose god-substitutes over God.”

• Question 5: “Can we change? How do people change?” Answer 5—Redemption: “We must apply our complete salvation to our daily sanctification.”

• Question 6—“Where am I headed? What is my destiny?” Answer 6—Consummation/Glorification: “Heaven is my final home.”

• Question 7—“Can I help? How can I help?” Answer 7—Sanctification/Ministry: “We dispense God’s cure for the soul—grace.”

Unique Features

Soul Physicians includes a built-in personal application discussion guide to help develop the Christlike character of the biblical counselor.

Soul Physicians includes a built-in ministry implication discussion guide to help develop the relational competence of the biblical counselor.

Soul Physicians is written in the language of “theo-drama”—relating theology practically and powerfully to our calling to love God and to love one another.

Soul Physicians is comprehensive and compassionate—blending robust biblical truth with caring one another application.

Soul Physicians is perfect for individual and group work. Join the growing number of lay people, pastors, professional Christian counselors, and students who are using Soul Physicians as their twenty-first century manual for understanding people and ministering to them God’s way.

Learn More

To read what others are saying, to download a free sample chapter, and to order Soul Physicians at 40% off, visit my
RPM Ministries ( Soul Physicians page:

Join the Conversation

Where are you turning to be equipped for one another ministry in the local church that trains you to understand people, diagnose problems, and prescribe solutions—biblically?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Remedy for “Take Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning”

Remember to visit and bookmark my fresh new site:

I've added scores of new free resources, book reviews, videos, and more--all because I know you want to change lives.

The Remedy for “Take Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning”

Your friend tells you, “My spouse just left me.” What do you say? How do you help?

A parishioner shares, “Pastor, I can’t deal with my bitterness and anger.” How do you respond?

What Do I Do After the Hug?

Whether you’re a lay person or a pastor, what do you do after the hug? How are you being trained for biblical one another ministry in the local church? Unfortunately, even the Christian world seems to recommend two extremes.

Extreme # 1: Secular Help.—“The World’s Way”

Someone comes to us with a life struggle, and in our panic we race to the self-help shelf at the local bookstore. Or we type the topic in an search and we find a boatload of the world’s answers.

There has to be a better way.

Extreme # 2: Shallow Help—“Take Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning”

Or, in our attempts to be biblical, we become shallow. We quote a verse and rub it on like a band-aid. We wave a passage of Scripture like a magic wand.

There has to be a better way.

How to Care Like Christ: Helping You to Help Your Friend

Of course there’s a better way. It’s caring like Christ. It’s speaking and living the truth in love. It’s Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation.

It’s caring like the Apostle Paul who said, “We loved you so much that we gave you not only the Scriptures, but our own souls, because you were dear to us’ (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Spiritual Friends: The Remedy for “Take Two Verses and Call Me in the Morning”

It was in my first pastoral ministry that I began equipping lay people and pastors in spiritual friendship. I longed for them to combine truth and love, Scripture and soul, so they could help others with suffering and sin. I long for you to do the same.

Twenty-five years later, I authored Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. It’s the remedy for “take two verses and call me in the morning.” It’s the remedy to shallow help and to secular help.

Spiritual Friends helps you to help your friends. It equips you to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.

Unique Focus

Spiritual Friends trains you, step-by-step, in a relational model for dealing with suffering and with sin.
Spiritual Friends equips you to develop five “GRACE” biblical counseling skills to offer sustaining help for suffering. “It’s Normal to Hurt.”
Spiritual Friends equips you to develop five “RESTS” biblical counseling skills to offer healing hope for suffering. “It’s Possible to Hope”
Spiritual Friends equips you to develop six “PEACEE” biblical counseling skills to offer reconciling care-fronting for sin and growth in grace. “It’s Horrible to Sin, but Wonderful to Be Forgiven.”
Spiritual Friends equips you to develop six “FAITHH” biblical counseling skills to offer guiding wisdom for sin and growth in grace. “It’s Supernatural to Mature.”

Unique Features

Spiritual Friends includes a built-in application guide to help you to grow in Christ-like character.
Spiritual Friends is a biblically-relevant training manual with thousands of sample “spiritual conversations” that model how to speak the truth in love.
Spiritual Friends is a relational practical workbook with hundreds of skill-building exercises to train you in the art of spiritual friendship/biblical counseling.
• With scores of role-plays, vignettes, life applications, and ministry implications—Spiritual Friends is perfect for individual and group work. A growing number of church small groups, church lay counseling training ministries, pastors, professional Christian counselors, and students are using Spiritual Friends as their twenty-first century manual for people helping.

Learn More

To read what others are saying, to download a free sample chapter, and to order Spiritual Friends at 40% off, please visit my RPM Ministries ( Spiritual Friends page (

Join the Conversation

How are you being equipped for biblical one another ministry in the local church?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Conversation about Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity

Remember to bookmark and visit my fresh new site at

I've posted twice as many free resources, daily blogs, book reviews, videos, and more, all because I know You Want to Change Lives!

A Conversation about Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity

Final Recap: Links to Responses to A New Kind of Christianity

Welcome: I’ve finished blogging my way through a series of responses to Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity. My focus has been on pastoral theology or practical theology response. As a pastor, counselor, and professor who equips the church for biblical counseling and spiritual formation, I was asking: “What difference does our response to each question make for how we care like Christ (biblical counseling) and for how we live like Christ (spiritual formation)?”

Final Recap: Word Document Format

I’ve created an edited version of my entire blog series in a Word Document format. It’s free, so I’ve posted it along with my other Free Resources ( You can enjoy over 100 free resources for your life and ministry at RPM Ministries (

Feel free to download and to share my final recap in Word Document format: A Conversation about Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity (

Final Recap: Blog Format

If you’ve benefitted from this blog series, and if you think others would benefit also, please feel free to reference this series, link to it on your site, or post it on your site.

Here are all the links in my blog series on A New Kind of Christianity.

• Post # 1: Brian McLaren, I Accept Your Invitation

• Post # 2: A Biblical Counseling Response to Brian McLaren

• Post # 3: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 1: The Narrative Question

• Post # 4: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 2: The Authority Question—The Bible

• Post # 5: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 3: The God Question

• Post # 6: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 4: The Jesus Question

• Post # 7: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 5: The Gospel Question

• Post # 8: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 6: The Church Question

• Post # 9: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 7: The Sex Question

• Post # 10: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 8: The Future Question

• Post # 11: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 9: The Pluralism Question

• Post # 12: Responding to Brian McLaren’s Q # 10: The What Now Question

• Post # 13: Conclusion: The Final Word and the Word After That

Six Views

I’ve also collated other responses and reviews to A New Kind of Christianity.

6 Views on Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity:

Join the Conversation

Which question do you think is most important and why?