Enablement and Boundaries

One of the most common issues that you will encounter in Christian counseling is people that have boundary issues -- as in that let themselves get walked on. In the world, the entire basis of your counseling is different -- it's based on selfishness: "How do I meet my needs?" but in Christianity, counseling is based on the idea that you should be pleasing God and loving others. Now this definitely does not mean that everyone you counsel will be selfless or oriented toward love, but that there is Read more [...]

Foundation of the Cross

In order to have any kind of stable and successful walk in Christ, every person must first experience God's unconditional love. I was driving home this week and God was showing me how when Jesus tore the veil, that was exciting for God... We think it's about us having access to the Father, and it is, but even more than that, it's about the Father having access to us. He can come to your sinful self and not have to condemn you because of your sin, but he can come in his intense unconditional love. Until Read more [...]

Stories and Analogies

Anyone who has read the New Testament knows that Jesus used a lot of stories and analogies. In fact, it was so bad that the disciples complained that he was not being plainspoken enough. It makes you imagine a kind of eastern scene where some guy trying to get wisdom from the master and the master says something about a lotus blossom. There is a method to this madness. It has to do with the fact that people are deaf. Sin causes us to be unable to hear. I mean we can physically hear the words, but Read more [...]

Giving Correction

Giving correction, especially in our contemporary "live and let live" American culture may seem extremely difficult -- especially if you have the "I really love you" pastor's heart that I talked about earlier. In the first church I was in, they definitely gave correction, and the stories seemed astonishing to me. I thought to myself "How do you know when to correct someone? And how do you do it in love?" The church culture I was in, however was high on correction, and low on love. The pastors would Read more [...]

When to Invest?

If you are any good at pastoring, you will quickly have more people to help than you have time to help them with. So the question becomes who do you help, and when? The simple Biblical answer is that you help each according to his faith. But what does that mean? In translation to the pastoral context, you help those who are hungry. I do not help those who will not help themselves. The reason is because helping these people is actually counter-productive. One of the core concepts you need as a pastor Read more [...]

Pastor as Interpreter

Emotions are not naturally and easily understood. In fact, you have to learn to understand them. Your parents and friends give you the vocabulary for them as you experience them. When you are a little baby and you cry you mom might say to you "oh, are you sad?" or when you laugh she might say "oh, you're so happy!" When she does this, she is helping you develop an emotional vocabulary. Really understanding what is going on in your heart and what to do about it is a skill learned over a lifetime -- Read more [...]

Pastor as Emotional Surrogate

When you read the title of this post, if you know anything about counseling, your red flags are probably going off because you're thinking "codependency" but I want to explain more specifically what I mean. The theory of pastoral care that I am operating under is the pastor is like the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" Proverbs 18:24. He is a person who walks along side you and tries to model the love of Christ. A friend who provides wisdom, who helps you see what is going on in your heart Read more [...]


Jesus explains in Matthew 12:34 that it is "out of the abundance of a man's heart he speaks" When someone begins to talk, they reveal much more than what they say, they reveal the condition of their heart, something about who they are, and how they relate to God. When I was younger, I used to think that I could change people by talking to them, but the more that I have worked with people, the more I have learned that the exact opposite is mostly true: what the person hears is what matters. Information Read more [...]

The Pastor’s Heart

What do you think of when you think of a "pastor"? The leader of a church? A preacher? Someone with a friendly personality? A pastor may be all of those things, but fundamentally, Biblically speaking, the essence of a pastor is something else: a shepherd. This shepherd keeps watch, over a flock, and if you are part of that flock, the shepherd keeps watch over your soul. Being a pastor, therefore is not about the ability to teach or build big things, or draw a crowd, it's about the ability to care Read more [...]