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Article Notes: The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety, by Ed Welch

Over at CCEF.org, Ed Welch posted recently on handling fear and anxiety. The secret, he says, is humbling ourselves before we “cast all [our] anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:7). In the verse before 1 Peter 5:7, Peter writes, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time.” Welch says that we often simply come to God expecting him to take away our cares when we cast them on him–and certainly, we know he can change our circumstances and take away our suffering–but that this approach isn’t always one of humility. Essentially, we can often say in this approach, “Well God, here are my cares–now take care of them.”

For more on this, check out the post.

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Article Notes: “Are We Skilled Counselor Mechanics?,” by Ed Welch

If you haven’t ever visited CCEF.org, let me commend it to you. CCEF is all about making the gospel central in counseling, and that’s relevant to you if you believe that the gospel changes everything about our lives. If the gospel changes everything about our lives, that means it changes our relationships with God, ourselves, and others. Again and again, day after day, we need to “rub” the gospel into ourselves as we struggle with personal and relational problems.

But how do we do this? This is the question that CCEF has been thinking about and discussing for decades.

I was visiting CCEF’s website this past weekend and found a great article by Ed Welch called “Are We Skilled Counselor Mechanics?” In it, Welch looks at our human tendency to look for the how-to of counseling rather than the ‘why’ of it. This is a theme I see coming up again and again in my approach to many things–rather than seeking God for guidance, again and again my heart wants to find the techniques that will put me on easy street for good.

But then, what need would I have for God?

Welch discusses how our drive to find silver bullet techniques ignores:

  1. The movement from the Old to the New Testament.
  2. The doctrine of the person.
  3. The influence of culture.

I commend this short read — check it out on your lunch hour.

Book Review: Homosexuality — Speaking the Truth in Love

Recommended. A loving, biblical look at an issue that is often treated with blind bigotry.

Edward Welch begins this installment of the Resources for Changing Lives booklets at an appropriate spot: he calls for the Christian’s repentance of both personal and corporate sins pertaining to self-righteousness and homosexuality. “Many Christians can admit that they are sinners, but they don’t see their sin in the same category as homosexuality” (p. 2). I was thankful that Welch addressed this common misunderstanding from the outset.

From the position of humility that comes from repenting of both personal and corporate sin, Welch leads readers through the biblical data pertaining to homosexuality; next, he answers some of the common arguments people make for the acceptability of homosexuality before God.

After this, Welch examines arguments about the causes of homosexuality. Though he has no problem acknowledging that factors such as genetics, peers, deficient relationships with same-sex parents, sexual violation by an older person, and so on can all be secondary influences in leading a person to homosexuality, he shows how, biblically, all sin begins not with secondary influences, but with the sinful nature of the fallen human heart. “With some [the expression of our hearts] is greed or jealousy, with others it is sinful anger, and with others it can be expressed in homosexual desire” (p. 30).

The remainder of the book compassionately outlines the process of change. “Like all sin,” Welch says, “homosexuality at the heart level does not relent easily or quickly” (p. 30). His advice is specific to change for those expressing homosexual desire. Because of Welch’s robust grasp of the counsel of Scriptures, this book quickly and gently walks readers through a major hot-button issue of our day.

Book Review – Procrastination: First Steps to Change

Walter Henegar

P & R Publishing, July 2004, 18 pp., $2.99, http://www.prpbooks.com

Recommended. A biblical look at a culturally acceptable yet deeply rooted sinful pattern.

Here’s another high-quality entry in the Resources for Changing Lives series. Walter Henegar, an assistant pastor at Christ Church Presbyterian in Atlanta, begins by providing an honest look at his own history of procrastination. He aptly distinguishes procrastination from laziness; he was very busy and productive, BUT his instinct is to put off any task that is “remotely unpleasant.” By the end of the first page, I found myself seeing my own patterns of procrastination in a much clearer, distinct light.

At some point in his life, Henegar made two discoveries about his procrastination:

1. That it was orderly and predictable. It followed a system. (e.g., “if it’s not due tomorrow, put it off; if it’s crunch time, neglect all else to get it done; if you’ve just finished a big job, reward yourself, etc.”)

2. The system largely hid itself from Henegar most of the time!

Henegar then began studying his procrastination habits, and he discovered that during times when he was supposed to be working, he was often instead doing other good things–organizing a desk, cleaning out a drawer–or seemingly harmless things–watching an hour of TV, getting something from the fridge.

Reading the rest of Henegar’s process of discovery is enjoyable and inviting; his prose is thoughtful, approachable, and his insights appear on every page. Some of my favorites:

  • How procrastinating by doing good things (Henegar mentions Charles Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent) is ignoring our calling.
  • Heart issues within procrastination (pride, fear of failure, pleasure-seeking, escapism, etc.)
  • Repenting of acts of sin is important, but so is repenting of sinful attitudes.

Along the way, Henegar describes some practical solutions, such as:

  • Composing a long list of “if-onlys” to discern the details of our heart attitudes
  • Using “forward-looking” repentance (i.e., while praying for God’s forgiveness, thinking ahead to future tempting situations and asking for strength to act wisely when they come)
  • “Rather than forcing myself to complete every unfinished task, I forced myself to accept some losses and focus on absolute top priorities” such as time in prayer, time with family, and adequate sleep.

I like having this booklet on my shelf, for re-reading when I become forgetful and for giving away. I strongly encourage everyone to disseminate this booklet within their local congregations!