What Is Your Problem?

 By: Dr. W.P. “Ab” AbercrombieQuestion mark gold

What is your problem?

This is a fair and important question to ask, because unless you understand the problem, you will never know the remedy. What is present in your life that impedes your joy and contentment?

You may see the issue as emotional. Often we describe our pain as depression, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, or grief. Certainly any of these emotions can be a real and present part of human suffering; but do the feelings you have truly explain what is wrong?

You may define your concern as relational. You might have marital discord, conflict with children or other family members. You could be facing a divorce, the loss of a friendship, or a difficult work environment. For some, relationships have been altered or ended by illness or death. Relationships can be problematic; people can be disappointing; and loss can be devastating. But is your life and well being dependent only on the circumstances around you?

You may believe your problem is medical. Today, there is great emphasis placed upon the genetic and medical influences of life. Many conditions are seen as inevitable due to genetic vulnerabilities and family history. Other problems are explained as illness or disease for which there is no explanation.

Many “experts” agree that bio-chemical imbalances are to blame for the emotions and behaviors that undermine one’s stability and affect the quality of one’s relationships. But even if there is truth to this claim, does a genetic vulnerability or chemical imbalance explain everything that is present and problematic in your life?

You could see your pain as historical. In other words, you feel and act the way you do because of your history and experiences in life. Perhaps you have endured a dysfunctional or abusive childhood. You could be the victim of crime, trauma, or other event that was extremely invasive and life altering. And while these injuries are in the past, they remain alive and active in your current life due to memories and feelings that remain unresolved. But is our present circumstance dictated by the experiences that came before?

Finally, you may perceive your difficulty as circumstantial. For example, you may believe that if your circumstance could be changed, you would improve. If you had a better job, a godlier spouse, obedient children, greater income, or lived in a different city, your problems could be answered. Given the challenge of your situation, you may believe you are justified in the way you feel and the actions you take. But is your internal contentment truly dependent upon your external environment?

If a counselor, pastor, or friend asked you to describe your problem, what would you say? Write your response below:

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Spiritual or Secular

By: W.P. “Ab” Abercrombie, Ph.D.Crown of thorns

Over the past three decades, the Church has largely forsaken its mandate to counsel and restore its people. Rather than a function of ministry, counseling is more commonly viewed as a professional endeavor, requiring psychological training, offered outside the Church, through a community provider. With the development of this orientation, the Body of Christ has come to adopt a secular worldview regarding behavior, emotion, and relationships. Further, we have come to apply the world’s solutions to issues that require kingdom empowerment.

In Scripture, the world is never defined as a reliable source of wisdom, nor does it offer patterns worthy of emulation. Paul wrote:

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”  (1 Cor 1:20 )

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Marriage God’s Way: The Husband’s Call

By: Dr. Ab and Karen AbercrombieWedding hands

Excerpt taken from Christian Shrinks Answer ALL Your Questions…(No Couch Required), Xulon Press, 2005

What does the Bible say about the role of the husband in the home?

Biblically, the man is called to be the priest of his home.  He is directed to love, honor, protect, and lead; indeed he is held to a very high standard of accountability.  One of the first instructions given to the husband is the most basic, yet the most demanding:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Eph 5:25)

This scripture is a powerful calling.  It is an instruction to minister to our home as Christ ministered to the church.  If we are to love as Jesus loved, then we are to be close and active, not distant and passive.

There was nothing passive about our Lord’s love for us.  God could have loved us from the heavens, but instead drew near and demonstrated His love in an active, behavioral expression.

Jesus touched (Matt 8:1-3); He healed (Matt 14:14); He instructed (Mark 10:1); He provided (Mark 6:37-44); He prayed (John 17:13-21); He forgave (Matt 9:2); He resisted temptation (Heb 4:15); He served (Mark 10:45); and finally, He sacrificed all (John 19:30).

Using our Savior as the template of comparison, allow us to inquire:

  • Do you touch your wife as Jesus touched?  His touch was filled with understanding and compassion.  It was a touch that gave but did not take.  Touching your wife physically in this way assures her of your commitment and love for her (2 Cor 7:3).
  • When your wife is in pain, do you promote healing?  Our wives need to know they can bring their injuries and needs to us.  They need us to be engaged, interested, and invested in reestablishing their peace (Gal 6:2).
  • As the spiritual leader of the home, is your study of God’s Word faithful so that you can instruct and encourage your wife? A man cannot feed others unless he is fed.  Your fervent attention to learning the Bible will allow you to lead your family from a Christian worldview and will transform not only your message but also your heart (Heb 4:12, 1 Cor 14:35).
  • Are you providing for your family’s financial needs and security?  So many families today are overburdened by debt and commitments beyond their means, creating tremendous stress.  Financial problems are cited as the second leading cause of divorce.  Fiscal responsibility and leadership from the husband is central to protecting the home (1 Tim 5:8).
  • Are you in prayer for your wife and with your wife?  Do you make it a priority to lift her needs to God and to share the intimacy of prayer together?  Research tells us that less than 1 percent of couples who regularly pray together get divorced (Jas 5:16).
  • Do you forgive as Christ forgave?  Can you resolve and release the issues that divide you, or do you harbor them in your heart, allowing anger and sin to take root?  Studies tell us that the capacity to forgive is fundamental to the maintenance of good healthy relationships (Eph 4:26-27).
  • When temptation comes, what do you do?  There is no safe level of thought or deed when it comes to sin.  Any compromise or concession made by the man will affect his family (Gal 5:9). Boundaries are essential if we are to preserve the marital covenant.  We must actively pursue God’s cover and protection for our homes on a daily basis (Eph 6:10-18).
  • How do you serve your bride?  Whether in small matters or large, serving our wives is one of the foremost ways to demonstrate honor.  It expresses consideration, it defines her as valuable, and it produces a climate of mutual respect and loyalty.  Do something unexpected that reminds her of her precious place in your life (John 13:14-15).
  • Finally, is your love sacrificial?  Jesus gave everything for those entrusted to His care, and husbands are called to do the same (Luke 9:23). What can you sacrifice today that will bless your wife?  Is it time at work, hours watching T.V., attitudes or ambitions, behaviors or habits?  If it limits or injures the marriage, it needs to go.

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Ethics in Ministry and Counseling

By: Dr. David Penley, Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and BCI Faculty Member. The link below will take you to a recent Webinar presented by Dr. Penley on the topic of Ministerial Ethics. It is a presentation relevant to all areas of ministry and specifically to the ministry of biblical counseling. … Read More

The Impact of Biblical Counseling

Valley Baptist Church Biblical counseling is having a significant impact toward fulfilling our purpose of “Preparing People to Meet Jesus” here at Valley Baptist Church.  This is taking place on three distinct levels. First, we now have about 16 people who either have completed or are working toward certification in biblical counseling in a congregation … Read More

Are Psychology and Psychology Scientific?

W.P. “Ab” Abercrombie, Ph.D.Psychology text

For decades, modern culture has struggled to define and categorize psychological and/or psychiatric conditions. Experts have created hundreds of diagnostic categories that attempt to isolate and classify specific conditions or illnesses so that they can be effectively treated. This has given rise to the term psychopathology, which refers to an illness or dysfunction in the psyche or mind of an individual.

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False gods and the Sacrifice of Children

Dr. Ab Abercrombie

Blonde girl smiling

 After receiving God’s magnificent grace and abundant supply throughout the generations, the Jewish nation was quick to forget and ultimately reject the God of their salvation. Frequently following God’s rescue and provision, His people would attach themselves to foreign nations for support and protection. In doing so Israel would adopt the traditions, culture, and gods common to the nation upon which they depended.

An excellent account of this occurs in Ezekiel 16 where God, through the prophet, describes how He rescued a lost, despised, and hopeless people (Israel), giving them life and identity as His own children. Using the parable of an abandoned newborn, God illustrates how He rescued and raised the rejected infant to maturity, only to have the child devote its heart to a foreign god (Ezk 16:1-19). In their idolatry, God’s people turned even to the literal sacrifice of their children.

“Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire” (Ezk 16:20-21).

 When New Testament Christians read of such abominations in Scripture, we often have difficulty relating and fail to see its application. After all we no longer witness children placed in the sacrificial fire to honor Molech or Ashtoreth. But as a biblical counselor I would suggest that idolatry is alive and well and children are indeed offered on the altar of countless “high places.”

The worship of self is primary and has fragmented the biblical home into pockets of individual gratification, personal goals, rights and entitlements. Biblical order is often abandoned because God’s structure interrupts one’s selfish ambition (Phil 2:3-4), calling instead for the glory and magnification of God above all else (Mark 12:30).

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A Biblical Response to Mental Illness and Suicide: What Should We Conclude…

Dr. Ab AbercrombieSad Teen Boy

Practically everyone in the Christian community has been affected by the suicide of Rick Warren’s son Matthew. The Body grieves with this influential pastor and his family as they face the unfathomable process of coping with this unimaginable loss.

Matthew’s death has also prompted the Church to examine our views on mental illness, psychiatric/psychological treatment, and medication. Many prominent Christian leaders have not only offered public statements of support for the Warrens, but are taking this opportunity to express opinions about an extremely sensitive subject that impacts a growing number of believers.

Most leaders are encouraging the Church to acknowledge that matters of depression and suicide are medical in nature and should be addressed no differently than other physical illnesses. They imply that to do otherwise promotes stigma and shame and restricts the believer’s access to appropriate care.

Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research, is stressing the need for the Church to address “mental illness.” In an article entitled “Christians Should Not Be Afraid of Medicine,” Stetzer acknowledges that the topic is a source of debate and that medication should be used with caution, but states that “…many mental health issues are physiological.”

Another article on the Internet, “Death of Rick Warren’s Son a Call to Address Mental Illness,” offers a similar view. According to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, “Christians struggle with depression and even suicidal thoughts. It does not make you less of a Christian.” He further states: “Suffering from mental illness is not a sin. Yet, not addressing it, may very well be.”

The statements made by Stetzer and Rodriquez seem impulsive at best, and potentially dangerous. Both esteemed leaders make very definitive statements that many in the Christian community will embrace as factual, when in fact they are not. In reality these matters are questions requiring study and biblical discourse. To suggest that these matters have been settled in Scripture, or even in science, is absolutely untrue.

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