The Gospel for Real Life booklet series by the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) applies the timeless hope of Christ to the unique struggles of modern believers.
None of us can escape the brokenness of our world. We are sinful, hurting people surrounded by sinful, hurting people in a universe groaning under the curse of sin. The reality of physical and sexual abuse in our world is a blatant and painful proof of this brokenness. What does the gospel have to say when we are victims of evil? How do we minister to those who have suffered under abuse?
John Henderson provides Psalm 22 as a framework for responding to these questions and understanding how God comforts the afflicted through his Word, bringing it to bear in the life of a couple deeply affected by childhood sexual abuse. Their example shows the beauty and light of the gospel, and how it brings hope and perspective in the darkest of our circumstances.
“With the heart of a pastor, John Henderson helps us to see how Scripture really does make a difference in life’s most difficult hurts, pains, and sorrows.”
—Deepak Reju, Associate Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
Worry, doubt, and fear get the best of us all sometimes, and often there is no way to get rid of them. Anxiety, like any other negative emotion, is a twisted version of something positive from God; since we live in a fallen world, we may never have full victory over it.
However, Bob Kellemen proves that we can have victory in our anxiety—can learn how to use it when it strikes and avoid the temptation to sin. In this biblical study, he lays out a proper Christian view of anxiety, from creation to fall to redemption to consummation. Along the way, he helps us to apply the gospel to our daily lives and reclaim anxiety for what it should be—vigilance to motivate us to do God’s work.
“This booklet has put in one place key biblical principles for addressing a common human issue biblically, realistically, practically, and compassionately.”
—Ernie Baker, Professor of Biblical Counseling, The Master’s College; NANC-Certified Counselor
Frantic efforts to avoid unpleasant feelings. Perceived abandonment. Profound depression or extreme rage. These symptoms control sufferers of borderline personality disorder, as their intense feelings rule their hearts and choices, fill their relationships with disunity and strife, and seem more real to them than God’s Word or his Spirit.
But Cathy Wiseman shows us, in this detailed, thorough, and helpful study, that God’s Word holds the solution and his Spirit alone can heal the havoc of borderline personality disorder. She maintains that the loving assistance of a team of believers is also crucial, and she provides a wealth of information for biblical helpers, including an analysis of the disorder and its symptoms, exercises to use in counseling, and a list of references and resources.
“Cathy Wiseman . . . has a high standard of excellence for all of her work in biblical counseling. This helpful booklet is no exception. . . . Theologically sound and utterly practical at the same time.”
—Lynnora Ratliff, PhD, Licensed Psychologist
Burnout occurs when the things that once gave us life and energy become discouraging and draining instead, sacrificing our pleasures and accomplishments to the continual onslaught of “next.” While a common danger for Christians who dedicate their efforts to God’s kingdom, burnout eventually makes us choose cynical numbness over the “caring exhaustion” of Christian service. How do we avoid this pitfall?
Brad Hambrick argues that burnout is actually a consequence of our life management, and he shows us how to create a time budget to avoid living beyond our means with the time God has provided. He helps us remember to rest in God’s fairness rather than try to gain his acceptance.
“These reflections have it all—theological depth, gospel centrality, humility, and practical advice. I cannot commend it highly enough!”
—J. G. Greear, Senior Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina
When feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or self-condemnation set in, some people seek painful release in their own flesh and blood. While cutting can bring temporary relief, it falls far short of the genuine change that is essential to true healing of the heart.
Through the direct and honest example of one young woman’s story, Jeremy Lelek points those in such pain to the sufferings of Jesus Christ and the finished work of the cross as their means of hope, security, and healing. He helps them to turn from trusting in their own body and blood to trusting in the body and blood of Jesus, which alone has the power to bring true freedom.
“Demonstrates that even in the most complex of situations, we have a profound message of hope in Christ.”
—Mike Wilkerson, Mars Hill Church; Author of Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry
The periods of depression that we all share can range from having a bad day to grieving the loss of a loved one. Our fallen world harbors a broad spectrum of suffering that, while never the same for each individual, has always been part of the human condition.
Yet Margaret Ashmore reminds us that however difficult our circumstances, they cannot determine whether our lives are ruled by joy or by depression… the choices we make in light of those circumstances do. She lays before us a set of godly choices we can make in our own “dark night of the soul” to seek God’s freedom from our dominating depression.
“My dear friend Margaret Ashmore loves the Lord, she loves his Word, she loves people, and she loves to see hearts transformed and lives set free by the power of his truth. God has used this faithful servant to help many struggling pilgrims find hope and help by way of the ‘old rugged Cross.’ ”
—Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author; Revive Our Hearts Radio Host
A proper understanding of God is vital. However, many times what we observe from our own experiences (especially when they are difficult and painful) can affect the shape of that understanding. How do we know whether we have a true, balanced view of God?
This study looks at sixteen attributes of God, grouped under the headings of his love, essence, wisdom, and power, to help challenge your understanding. It goes on to challenge how well you rest in each attribute (have faith and comfort in it) and emulate it in the struggles and experiences of your own life. So learn, through your struggles, about the One who gives those struggles meaning.
“Brad Hambrick . . . [helps] us to both rest in and emulate the marvelous attributes of God. This is a fine study that can be used to transform both heart and mind.”
—Gary Thomas, Author, The Glorious Pursuit: Embracing the Virtues of Christ
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a profoundly intense response to profoundly dangerous experiences, manifests itself in fear, terrifying vulnerability, and lack of a sense of control. While these responses are often involuntary, Jeremy Lelek reminds us that they are still responses… and, thus, different responses are possible.
Here he relates the narrative of creation, fall, and redemption to the experiences of PTSD, reminding us that the gospel speaks to our experiences with danger as part of its redemptive message. He points to the wisdom of God in our suffering and reminds us of the saving grace offered by Jesus, guiding readers to the peace and contentment found in seeking God’s glory.
“Jeremy Lelek in his remarkable booklet explores Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder inside and out, helping us deal with the unknowns and instructing us how to extend the healing and soothing love of Christ. Our ministry, Joni and Friends, works with many who are struggling with PTSD—we are so grateful to have an excellent resource like this and will recommend it to all!”
—Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
Reevaluating Our Desires, Rewriting Our Conflict
Few spouses have desires that are evil—but even the good desires of two well-meaning people do not always match up. Fulfilling one person’s desires often means we must neglect another’s, which can lead to conflict and bitterness. So how do we enjoy the blessings of marriage without being consumed by our desire for the blessings we prefer?
Brad Hambrick shows us that Jesus addressed this very issue in his foundational call to be a disciple. In this plan for dealing biblically with marital conflict, he walks us through Jesus’ words and their implications, outlines a typical marital conflict, gives us strategies for how to “interrupt” our conflicts with grace and love, and gives us further tips on how to reignite romance going forward.
“The gospel isn’t just an ethereal idea. It’s not a philosophy and it’s not static. It moves and shapes and transforms. I am grateful for ABC’s work of letting the gospel bear its weight on these real life sorrows and pains.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas
Hope for Genuine Change
Anyone who is married is already a self-centered spouse . . . but when this all-too-common sin becomes severe and chronic, it results in a marital environment of abuse or neglect—leaving the victimized spouse feeling trapped and hopeless. But how might this hopelessness change if we knew that Jesus addressed just such chronically broken relationships?
Brad Hambrick examines Jesus’ teachings about relationships to show us how we can turn the other cheek while keeping away from unhealthy and destructive paths. He identifies different types of self-centered spouses to show us what we are dealing with, shares strategies for interacting with them, and points to evidences of genuine change to bring hope to anyone living with a chronically self-centered spouse.
“Overflows with wisdom, hope, and compassion for the abused or neglected spouse as well as for the offending spouse.” —Justin Holcomb, coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace
Sexual abuse ravages the soul, causing unimaginable distress, damage, and disgrace. It is faced honestly and openly in the Bible—but can the church truly help those who have been sexually abused?
Bob Kellemen says yes, it can; and using the biblical story of Amnon and Tamar, he realistically portrays the damages wrought by sexual abuse and the relevancy of God’s Word to this difficult topic. He then takes us on a journey toward healing, helping sufferers to reclaim beauty from the ashes of abuse and to move from victim to victor.
“Dr. Kellemen’s gospel insights are for both the sexually abused and the pastor. . . . You will find a clear and caring path . . . that will give you hope.”
—Ed Welch, Faculty Member, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation
We do not like to be vulnerable. It makes us feel defenseless and opens the door to being hurt. But, as difficult as it may be, vulnerability is necessary for us to be loved by others and is a healthy character trait when it leads us to take risks for God’s glory. So how can we grow in the kind of vulnerability God wants us to have?
Brad Hambrick offers a study of vulnerability from an unexpected source: the Beatitudes. He takes us through an examination of each one, highlighting what it says about vulnerability and helping us come to terms with our struggles with it. He also brings encouragement, giving us ways to reflect on and begin implementing these teachings on vulnerability in our own lives.
Learn from the Beatitudes how blessed it is to be vulnerable and how to pursue vulnerability in your life.
“Vulnerability in relationships is important yet dangerous. Brad Hambrick, using the familiar Beatitudes of Christ, helps us to learn how to do it wisely and intentionally.”
—Leslie Vernick, Christian Counselor, Coach, Speaker, Author of the Bestselling Book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship