8 Ways to Help Depressed Christians

David Murray: Many of us struggle with what to do when someone we know is depressed. We want to help but fear, confusion, or misunderstanding holds us back. So, let me suggest eight guidelines for helping depressed people. 1. Prepare for it. Eventually, someone in your church or in your family is going to get depression. It is the third most common reason for people consulting the family doctor. In any one year, six percent of men and ten percent of women will suffer with depression. Prepare by reading up on it. A couple of good books are Dealing with Depression by Sarah Collins and Jayne Haynes, a short book you will read it in an hour, and Grace for the Afflictedby Matthew S. Stanford, which is more demanding and more detailed. Be prepared to be surprised by who gets it. Contrary to the caricatures, it is not just sad, lazy, pessimistic people that get depression. It’s also type-A personalities,

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Gospel-centred counselling is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ

“We live in the Age of the Counsellor  It’s not much of a question any more whether people will get counselling at some time or other. The question is what kind of counselling they’ll get… Every (counselling method) has foundational beliefs about what is wrong with people and how they can be helped. “…Gospel-centred counselling… is the process of one Christian coming alongside another with words of truth to encourage, admonish, comfort, and help – words drawn from Scripture, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of relationship. The goal of this counselling is that the brother or sister in need of counsel would grow in his or her understanding of the gospel and how it applies to every area of life and then respond in grateful obedience in every circumstance, all to the building up of the church and for the glory of God. “(The) gospel-centred paradigm is derived from the Bible…We derive our paradigm from the Bible because we distrust merely human diagnoses

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What the Puritans Can Teach Us about Counselling

Justin Taylor: Nearly 25 years ago, Tim Keller argued that the works of the Puritans are a rich resource for biblical counseling for the following six reasons: The Puritans were committed to the functional authority of the Scripture. For them it was the comprehensive manual for dealing with all problems of the heart. The Puritans developed a sophisticated and sensitive system of diagnosis for personal problems, distinguishing a variety of physical, spiritual, tempermental and demonic causes. The Puritans developed a remarkable balance in their treatment because they were not invested in any one ‘personality theory’ other than biblical teaching about the heart. The Puritans were realistic about difficulties of the Christian life, especially conflicts with remaining, indwelling sin. The Puritans looked not just at behavior but at underlying root motives and desires. Man is a worshipper; all problems grow out of ‘sinful imagination’ or idol manufacturing. The Puritans considered the essential spiritual remedy to be belief in the gospel, used

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How Pastor-Counselors Differ from Secular Counselors

David Powlison’s essay “The Pastor as Counselor” (available free online) is far and away the best thing I have ever read on the role of pastor-elders in counseling God’s people. It was originally published in For the Fame of God’s Name and is reprinted in CCEF’s The Journal of Biblical Counseling. At our church we have read through it together as an elder council, and I’d encourage other churches to do the same. I also wish every seminarian could read through this at least once. Here is one section directed to pastors on their unique role in counseling: The uniqueness of your message is easy to see. But you already know this. I won’t rehearse the unsearchable riches of Christ, or the 10,000 pertinent implications. But I do want to note the uniqueness of your message by contrast. Every counselor brings a “message”: an interpretation of problems, a theory that weighs causalities and context, a proposal for cure, a goal that defines thriving

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Steps to Overcome Temptation

Earlier this year David Mathis sat down with Don Carson to discuss sanctification. In this three-minute clip, Carson talks about some simultaneous steps to take for overcoming temptation, including a deepening delight in Jesus. Sanctification is the theme of this year’s Desiring God National Conference — “Act the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification.” Visit the event page to learn more and register. (HT: Desiring God blog)

Giving and Receiving Criticism in Light of the Cross

My thanks to Justin Taylor for this: Some notes below from Alfred Poirier’s excellent article “The Cross and Criticism,” first published in The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Spring 1999). Definition: I’m using criticism in a broad sense as referring to any judgment made about you by another, which declares that you fall short of a particular standard. The standard may be God’s or man’s. The judgment may be true or false. It may be given gently with a view to correction, or harshly and in a condemnatory fashion. It may be given by a friend or by an enemy. But whatever the case, it is a judgment or criticism about you, that you have fallen short of a standard. Key Point: A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s judgment of me; and in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s justification of me. Both have a

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Confidence or Condemnation?

I love this from Kevin DeYoung. Much of my teaching in Rwanda recently centred on these same thoughts. Whenever counselling Christians looking for assurance of salvation, I take them to 1 John. This brief epistle is full of help for determining whether we are in the faith or not. In particular, there are three signs in 1 John given to us so we can answer the question “Do I have confidence or condemnation?” The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13).  John doesn’t want people to be doubting.  God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life.  And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus.  You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22).  You believe he is the Son of God (5:10).  And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2).  So if you get your theology wrong

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Free to Be Honest About Yourself

“The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. These things don’t make it impossible to know who you are. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, ‘You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,’ will you be able to be honest with yourself.” – Tim Keller, Journal of Biblical Counseling (Winter 2007) (HT: Of First Importance)