Marvin Olasky summarizes,
Paul Miller shows how the Bible teaches a pattern of dying and rising in the form of a J: We need to go down to come up. His message challenges the part of American evangelicalism that values winning and defines success much as the broader culture does, with adulation of celebrities and equation of suffering with failure. Miller shows through many examples that being born again often means the death of some previous ambitions, but the J-Curve is not a one-time experience: Miller calls the J-Curve “the spine of sanctification” and “dying and rising with Christ the normal Christian life.”
Miller is the son of seminary professor, Jack Miller who piloted The Sonship Course. That notebook and audio series was inspired by his grace awakeing through meditating on the Epistle to the Galatians, such as:
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal. 4:4-7)
The Sonship Course contains a helpful emphasis on grace, sanctification by faith and the believers identity in Christ. All of these themes are essential to revitalization.
World Magazine’s interview with Paul Miller is here: “Curving Heavenward.”
Here is part of the spiritual journey testimony of Mark McKeehan who serves as Senior pastor of Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN
My journey to the cross of total surrender was hard; in May of 2003, I was in Sherman, Texas, for Passion One-Day, which is a Christian conference designed for College students… That day as I finished praying, I could hear the song from Chris Tomlin called “Enough.” Part of the lyrics say, “All of you, is more than enough for all of me.” I realized Jesus is enough! He is enough when times are good and when times are not. That day, I began to understand and learn about total surrender. It was also the time I began to live open-handed. If I own nothing, then nothing can be taken from me!
I moved back to Knoxville, TN in April of 2006. For three years I was the Student Pastor at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church. After three years, I was asked to transition to Lead Pastor. During the transition from student pastor to lead pastor I became close with a man named Blaine Anderson. Blaine quickly became a spiritual father to me, and he began using a term I had never heard before. The term was “spiritual world.” Blaine began to disciple me in the works of Holy Spirit and my spiritual eyes and ears were awakened even more. Finally, I had found someone who could explain to me what I wanted to learn so many years earlier. I began to meet with Blaine to talk about Holy Spirit and what he called the Spirit World. For the first time in my life, Holy Spirit became less of a mystery and I began to interact with Him as a person, as God.
Yet, about five years ago I was on the edge of burnout. The ministry at the church wasn’t bad, but the finances, people, ministry, staff and all the counseling sessions became too much for me. I felt like I was drowning with no lifeline. I wanted to quit, but I knew that would not honor nor glorify the name of Jesus. My identity was focused in temporal and wrong things. I would come in on Mondays and if our offering was good then I thought I was a good pastor. However, if the offerings were bad then I was a bad pastor. I also began to evaluate myself through the way I preached. If people responded, I thought I was doing well but if they didn’t then I thought I was failing. My identity was wrong, so therefore I was “feeling” things and thinking they were true when in fact they were just “feelings.”
I asked the deacons first, then the church, if I could take a one-month sabbatical. During my sabbatical I was introduced to GFI. I had heard of them before, but honestly, I never took the time to really listen. Now, feeling I was at the bottom, I started to listen to [the Church’s Discipleship Counselor] Hans Haun who had tried so many times before to reach out to me… After my sabbatical, I realized I needed boundaries or what I call “guardrails” in my life. One of those guardrails was to meet regularly with Hans.
At our first meeting, my life was changed! I sat in my office as I watched Hans draw out the wheel and line diagrams. As he explained the “Exchanged Life” to me I sat there thinking, “This is why I do what I do. This is why I react in emotion and I feel like a failure!” My identity is wrong, and self is leading my life. That day I began praying the “selfers” prayer of total surrender. I began to ponder Dr. Solomon’s statement, “We learn to be in experience who we already are in position.” I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. My identity is no longer in offerings or sermons. In Christ, I am chosen, I am called, I am beloved, and I am complete.
Now, I reckon myself dead unto sin and alive unto God (Romans 6). I understand that one of my greatest enemies is my flesh and daily I need to reckon that, in Christ, my flesh has been crucified with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). My identity isn’t in what I do, what I fail at, or even how I feel. My identity isn’t in what others think or say about me; good or bad. My identity is in Christ and I am who He says I am. He called and chose me before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4), which means He chose me before I could do anything to earn it or to do anything that would disqualify me from receiving it. He loves me not because of who I am, but because of who He is! I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and this means I lack nothing. I am deficient in nothing. I can no longer say, “If I had more grace or mercy then I would be a better pastor.” I have all of the grace and mercy I need because I have Holy Spirit in me. The power that has raised the dead, (Romans 8), is in me. Christ in me is the key that changes everything. So, Galatians 2:20 isn’t just a verse to memorize; it is my life. I died, I was buried, but I was also raised to walk in newness of life! My goal is to live surrendered to Jesus, walking with and being led by Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16). As I abide in Christ, then He can work through me and the works He does are perfect, just and good!…
In September David Platt, lead pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. preached two messages on “The Secret to the Christian Life.”
Some Christian teachers discourage talk of such a “secret”, but this is a biblical concept. In the New Testament, “mysterion” occurs 27 times, meaning “hidden thing, secret, mystery…” It occurs twice in Colossians 1:25-27: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach… (emphasis added).
Grasping the personal significance of this mystery is not automatic; that is why the apostle prayed for the Ephesian believers to be illumined (Eph. 1:17,18).
David Platt is the founder and president of Radical, and author of books such as Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
Pure Flix Alliance alert:
“The culture is changing rapidly – all you need to do is turn on the television during ‘family hour’ to see the major shift. Christians are called to be the salt and light of this ever-darkening world and how we respond to the shifts in culture – both in and through our family/community – will be our legacy.
“The Digital Revolution:What Leaders Must Know eBook is designed to equip the pastor, ministry leader and leaders of Christian-led organizations with solid insights on the media landscape. Just one asset is the chronology of the important events and significant studies that provide the backdrop to where we are today and how we can move forward with impact.”
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One of the “wet blankets” that may hinder Pastoral Counseling and lay church-based Discipleship Counseling is the fear of a lawsuit. Although informal peer-to-peer ministry seems to avoid this stigma, when churches and parachurch helpers move into a more formal pastoral counseling role, the risk factor may come up. How can these fears be addressed? How can the counselor take wise precautions?
Adopt and ethics statement
Although professional code of ethics documents are more detailed than needed and are biased with secular values and professional policies, the Pastoral Counselor can adapt and use a policy document. Here is an audio lecture on ethics by Dr. Cry Lantz:
and a sample document: Ethics Policy
In formal personal ministry, have a second person present or nearby for accountability (for the benefit of the counselee and the counselor).
Use relevant forms
When forms such as Informed Consent and Waiver of Liability are used, this documents that the counselee agrees to non-professional, non-secular, Christian personal ministry sessions. These forms should be signed and kept with the client’s case notes. Here are sample documents that can be edited:
Informed Consent Form sample
Waiver of Liability sample
Get insurance coverage
If you’re doing formal ministry (appointments, goals, secure notes, donations received, etc.), a liability policy is reassuring and also affordable (relatively speaking). Consider this agency that covers pastoral/dicipleship counselors for about $100 or so per year. (800) 421-6694
As the apostle Paul admonished Timothy, let’s minister with integrity and confidence:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6,7).
Here is a concise, creative explanation of the Gospel from TheStoryFilm.com