Thursday, November 9, 2017

Seven Questions Before Addressing an Offense

by Tim Bryant, Director of Lowcountry Biblical Counseling
1. Do I have the facts right? 
(Prov 18:13) Sometimes what we think is sin against us is just “possible” sin. We must be sure we are dealing with the facts, not our own interpretation. If you are in doubt, BE CAREFUL! You may not need to share your concern at all; in fact, your view may be so inaccurate that to go forward would be exercising presumption (Prov 13:10) and contention (Prov 26:21). If this is the case, you must learn to humbly examine your interpretations in light of other reasonable interpretations (Prov 18:2). If after honest evaluation you still think you need to go and share your concern, go, but ask the offender appropriate, clarifying (not accusatory) questions. Then listen very objectively to the explanation, knowing that you may not have had all the information. Let them know that if your understanding of the situation is not accurate, you want to understand it better from their perspective (Prov 18:17). Listening is better than asking accusatory questions (Jas 1:19-20). When discerning sin, you must stick with observable facts, {i.e. stick with actions and words, not with motivations and heart attitudes which you cannot know in another (1Cor 4:5)}. Your responsibility is to address clear and major sin, not small “possible” or “probable” sin that would require you to know a person’s heart and thoughts. God judges the unseen part of man; it is not your role (Jer 17:10). If the fact of sin is not established, it must be dropped. If it is your word (or interpretation) against theirs, it must be dropped (Matt 18:16; 1Tim 5:19). To go beyond what is evident and observable is to go beyond your jurisdiction and play God by making yourself the judge (Jas 4:11-12); this could very easily lead to becoming a false witness (Deut 19:15-20). 

2. If it was sin against me, have I privately forgiven the offender in my heart before God? 
(Mk 11:25) Private forgiveness must precede loving confrontation. Unless you do this, all you are doing is avenging sin, not covering it biblically (Prov 10:12; 1Pet 4:8). You cannot deal with sin like Christ without having a forgiving heart like His (Mk 11:25; Eph 4:31-32). Otherwise, your words would vent angry energy, not express concern for God and the other person (Prov 15:1). But to forgive will cost you something – it always does. You have to give up your belief that you have a “right” to be treated “good” by your definition of good; you must lay down your life before Christ. You must take up the call of God to suffer with Christ for His glory, for the good of others, and for your eternal gain (1Pet 4:1-2; 1Pet 5:6-7; Php 3:8-10). 

3. Am I humbly aware of my own sin, and am I dealing with my own “logs”? 
(Matt 7:3-5; Gal 6:1b; Matt 5:23-24 ). You must take seriously what you have done or not done, said or not said. Did you in any way contribute to (not cause) their sin? If so, you must confess and change your own words, attitudes, and actions (Rom 14:13). You often will become more aware of sin in yourself as you lovingly confront others (Gal 6:1b). If the person you are confronting confronts you, don’t defend yourself, but rather take it seriously. If it is true, confess it to them and ask forgiveness (Jas 5:16). Tell them you will change and then follow through (Jas 5:16). You must deal with your sin in the same humble way you are hoping they will deal with their sin (Prov. 9:8-10). You must realize that you, too, sin and have weaknesses (Heb 4:15). Their sin against you must appear less offensive and remarkable than your sins against God (Matt 18:32-33)! 

4. What’s my motive?
  • Matt 18:15 – Am I a brother seeking to regain a relationship or just release my anger?
  • Luke 17:3 – Am I hoping to be able to publicly forgive, remove guilt, and regain unhindered fellowship with the offender, or am I just going to him out of my own sense of justice and peace of mind?
  • Matt 12:34 – Am I ready to go? If my motive is not right, it is wrong to confront. Can I share my “heart” of love and concern for them before confronting them, and it be good? 
  • Prov 27:6 – Am I going as a friend or an offended enemy?
  • Php 2:3-5 – Am I going for their good or for my own self-interests? Do I see what they could lose if they do not change, or am I focused primarily on what I have or might lose? 
  • 1Cor 10:31 - Do I really want God to glorify Himself by granting power to repent and then grace to change, even for us both? 

5. Am I prepared to use loving words?
  • 1Cor 13:4-7 – Do my word choices, tone, and body language reflect these qualities?
  • Eph 4:29 – Am I viewing the person as the problem or their sin as the problem? As I speak, am I prepared to not digress into personal attacks, but instead focus only on the specific sin? Can I look for ways to edify the person while attacking only the sin? 
  • Prov 10:19 – Do I recognize the tendency to say too much, especially if they become defensive? I must not let a debate become heated, for then I would be involved in sin. I must put a stop at the door of my mouth, recognizing that begins in my heart (Ps 19:14). 
  • Prov 15:1 – If the offender becomes defensive, I must speak gently, hoping they listen, but still prepared to stop if it turns into a heated debate rather than a healthy discussion. Gentle words of love and affirmation do greater good than winning an argument.
  • Prov 9:7-9 – If the offender does attack me, I must not continue to argue, but rather confess my sin if what they say is true, or just let them have the last word if it is not true.
  • Prov 16:21 – Do I know how to speak in a way that encourages them to open up to me and listen, or am I going with a sledgehammer – get in, get out, and be done with it?
  • 2 Tim 2:24-26; Prov 15:28 – What scripture passages in appropriate context help me gently make clear both what is wrong with what they are doing and why this is wrong? 
  • Gal 6:1 - Can I admit some of my own struggles as I try to help them work on theirs?

6. Is my timing right?

  • Prov 25:11 – Is the circumstance right? Are they tired or hungry? Try to approach it when they are at their best. Late night is rarely good timing!
  • Prov 15:23 – Are they in a stressful time? Have they just experienced a big circumstance? Don’t confront in the middle of a bad situation where emotions are already on the edge.

7. Am I prayerful?
  • Jas 5:16 – Am I praying for the person regularly?
  • Eph 1:16-19, 3:14-19 – Am I praying the kind of prayers that if answered would solve everything? Prayers should ask God to let them understand and experience the hope, power and love of their calling in Christ, that the sin you need to address with them would be gladly confessed and forsaken by them for God’s glory and their good (not for your convenience!). 
  • Col 3:12 – Could your praying for them be described as fervent “wrestling” (i.e. “laboring earnestly in prayer for you”)?
  • Rom 9:1-2 - Have your prayers for them exercised and strengthened an earnest desire in you to suffer for their sake, if need be, to help them change? In reality, you may have to suffer for their gain; they may attack you and say evil of you for trying to admonish them. 

APPLICATION: Prayerfully work through each question and the scriptures above. Circle the passages and underline the statements that expose any areas that you need to address in yourself before you can really go share that concern with another. List the reasons why this area needs to be addressed in you first. Consider the wisdom of seeking biblical counseling if you remain stuck and in conflict. Am I seeking to remove guilt, and regain unhindered fellowship with the offender, or am I just going to him out of my own sense of justice and peace of mind?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Are You A Blessed Spouse?


Our Unity in Marriage course is getting an update! I am excited to share with you a new at-a-glance chart that will now be the backbone of the course.This unique tool is going to assist you significantly. Whether you are a counselor or a couple, this chart will help you in digesting and applying the vital biblical concepts and assignments that the Lord has used to transform lives and relationships at the center for years. There are even hyperlinks on the chart to dozens of marriage counseling assignments. The chart starts with nine challenging affirmations that embody nine learner goals covered in the course and marriage counseling. These challenge statements emerge after many years of personal experience in biblical marriage counseling, training and the study of Gods a Word. I think of them as nine biblical heart-attitudes or heart-conditions of a blessed spouse. Are you a blessed spouse? THE HEART CONDITION OF A BLESSED SPOUSE
  1. “I desire to learn to deal with my spouse’s sin the way God deals with mine?”
  2. “I desire God to reveal more deeply my need for change - believing my sinfulness (i.e., remaining pride and selfishness) is my greatest problem?”
  3. “I desire to use specific biblical beliefs about God to motivate a greater sincere, unconditional love toward my spouse.”
  4. “I desire God to use my ears and mouth as tools of the Spirit in the life of my spouse?”
  5. “I desire others see how much Christ loves the church and how much respect Christ deserves by observing how I treat my spouse?”
  6. “I desire to remain faithful to the vows I made before God to keep my spouse the priority relationship of my heart and life?”
  7. “I desire to put off laziness, distraction, and independence, in order to work as a team on the good works God has called my marriage to accomplish?”
  8. “I desire to respond to the personality and perspective differences of my spouse as blessings to complete me, not compete with me.”
  9. “I desire to use romance and sexual pleasure as gifts from God to strengthen and bless my spouse?”
A spouse that is progressing in these nine heart-attitudes reveals God has blessed them. This is not first because of the kind of spouse they have, but because of what kind of person they are becoming. 1 Peter 3:10-12 affirms that this is what it means to be a blessed person. 

Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:10-12)

If you are struggling to be a blessed spouse, join the course today. The Spirit through the Word will show you that the most significant way you can be blessed is to let him persuade you to progress in these nine heart-conditions.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

“Just a Little More....?”

Are you struggling today to be happy and content? What more do you think you need to change this? “Just a little more good,” says the unhappy one; “just a little more gratitude,” says the happy one. The only thing better than being blessed and loved by God is to enjoy these blessings through thankfulness. Blessings Surround Us Daily All around us each day, God offers relationship with us through demonstration of His goodness: the warmth and nourishment of the sun, the satisfaction and sustenance of a good meal, the restoration of a night's sleep, the offer of help from others in meeting a need.  God blesses us with a boss that developed a company where we can earn money. God blesses us with people who raise animals and farm produce, people who then transport it to local stores, followed by people who then stock store shelves so you can purchase and take it home to eat. Then God directly blesses us through the miracle of digestion and sustains our life. We do not realize just how much God's expressions of goodness surround us each day. All these are from a good God, who through them calls us into relationship with Him.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits. Psalm 68:19  
He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else…. He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  (Acts 17:25-27) 
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.  (Psalm 34:8) 
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)
Every morning is filled with evidence of God’s offer of relationship through demonstration of His goodness. Consider this. You wake up on a Saturday morning and take a warm shower after sleeping on a soft bed in a climate controlled home. You then sit down to a hot cup of coffee and toast that you prepared using electric appliances empowered by the discovery of electricity, all designed to make your life more pleasing and convenient by a good God. At your fingertips is anything and everything you could desire to read, watch or listen to through a very new invention called the smart phone. All of this given for your greater enjoyment in life. Indeed our life is filled with good things from a good God who is saying, “I have been good to you, let's have relationship.”
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. (1 Tim 4:4)
Blessings Surround Us Eternally

So much good and yet we have only been considering the temporal. What about the greatest expression of God’s goodness and offer of relationship through Jesus Christ?
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.  (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Ephesians 1:4 says God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ!  Though we are surrounded daily by countless physical blessings, as good as these are, they are but a small taste of the best. They are temporary, pointing us to the greater. Ephesians 1:3-14 gives a list of some of these indescribable spiritual and eternal blessings and privileges that are ours through the work of Christ. I call them the “divine diamond ring”, for each one reflects another amazing facet of the riches that are ours in Christ.  He “predestined us” in Christ ; he “adopted us ” in Christ; he “redeemed us through His blood” ; he “forgave us all our sin”; he “made known to us the mystery of His will”; he “sealed us with the Holy Spirit”

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, Psalm 103:2-5

Who Could Ask for More?

With all these physical and spiritual expressions of God's goodness surrounding us, inviting us to draw near for relationship, why do we ever grumble and complain about the disappointing situations and relationships? I ask this question not to minimize the severity of the trials you and I face, nor to pretend that we will somehow attain perfection in our ability to “rejoice in the Lord always.“ Rather, I ask these questions to emphasize your and my need in discouraging seasons of life and relationships to remain more aware of the good we have than the good we wish we had. Is it not true that if we took inventory we would always find that, no matter how bad our present circumstances are, we always have more to be thankful for in Christ than to complain about.  

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:4,8

Thankfulness is a spiritual trait that develops contentment by mentally focusing on all the good and the givers in your life. However, complaining is a sinful trait that is instinctual to fallen mankind. It requires no effort, only a tough circumstance or relationship. We believe if our outer man had more good, our inner man would have more joy. We tend to think, “If only I could get a little more love, respect, time, money, communication from others, then I would be as happy as other blessed people”? We tend to think, “If God would only improve my health and finances, then I could really enjoy life like other blessed people”?  But the truth is you and I will only find the joy we seek as we turn “just a little more good” to “just a little more gratitude.”

So begin today to develop what you need most - thankfulness. Each time your heart complains today about something or someone, call to mind three temporal and eternal blessings you already have and give thanks to the givers - both God and others.  May the Lord open our eyes as we give our effort.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Get Hundreds of Free Counseling Resources

Our vision as a ministry is not only to provide biblical counseling, but provide resources that will equip in biblical change and counseling. We seek to bridge the sufficiency of Christ to people in need through counseling, training and resources. Over the years we have developed hundreds of resources used in helping people overcome depression, anger, anxiety, conflict, etc. These resources have been tools that the Spirit of God has used to minister the Word of God to people in need.

Because of our vision, we have decided this year to make available to you at no cost all items in the LCBCC Online Counselor Resource Center.
  • Access 500+ documents on any smart phone, tablet, or computer
  • Designed for locating biblical change resources for personal or counseling help
  • Includes articles, assignments, and outlines on hundreds of topics

Access All Resources Though Our Search Bar
To access the Counselor Resource Center click here. Create a feee user account. Login. You will then see a few assignments and folders on the page. But you can access hundreds more simply by using the search bar. The search bar is tied into the entirety of our online resources. Type in the search bar any topic you are hoping to find a biblical article or assignment that facilitates biblical change. Click on the assignment you want to access. Print or email it to yourself or a person you are trying to help.


Example Resources


May the Lord use these this year to advance biblical transformation in and through you. If you or someone you know need counseling please click here.  We offer onsite as well as online counseling and training.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Before Attempting Reconciliation (Instruction & Assignment)

by Tim Bryant This is sample instructions and assignment that I send to two people in conflict before I get started intensively counseling them in biblical reconciliation. The assignment included often helps the two people in conflict get properly and quickly oriented for the Lord to do a work of reconciliation in their relationship.

Dear

I am contacting you in hope of leading you through a biblical process of seeking unity with one another that will lead to: 1) God deepening his work of change in your lives, 2) God glorifying Himself in those changes to one another, and 3) God making your fellowship with one another encouraging and enjoyable and edifying.  Sanctification and transformation into the likeness of Christ is never completed until heaven, and disagreements and conflicts in relationships are opportunities for each of us to see how to deepen that work.

I want to make it clear that the success of this entire process is dependent on two things: 1) God revealing Himself and His thoughts about the conflict to you; and 2) You responding to this direction by making necessary changes that honor Him, reflect Christ and draw the other party to desire to reconcile.

In the many opportunities I have had to help people reconcile, I always have done my best to not "take sides" but to rather fear the Lord - for in the end we give account to Him, not to one another.  He is our only lasting reward and consequence. So I am going to do my best to listen and direct you to first evaluate yourself before Him and His Word to see if you can see anything that you need to admit or confess that you have done in the conflict that has not pleased your Lord. Matthew 7:5 is clear that this is our starting point.

In order to do this I am wanting you to answer two questions below and email your answers back to me.  But Before you answer the questions please listen to the first 2 sessions from the 8 part seminar on "Unity in Conflict" and begin working on the assignments given.  This seminar is foundational in the process I will be taking us through, so I will ask you listen to the entire set by the time we finish our attempts at reconciliation.  (It includes 8 audio sessions and student manual, You can find this at our media web store (click here)  If costs are a problem, let me know and I will work around that.)

I am praying for you and as soon as I receive all of your answers, I will be in touch to talk through your answers.

Your brother,

Tim Bryant

Two Questions Before Reconciliation Meeting Please keep your answers to no more than 2-3 paragraphs of no more than seven sentences each.  Too much information is too much at this point.  It is important that you write clear and efficiently so that we can make the most of our time.  Make sure, however, to write at least two paragraphs for each question.  Not enough information is not good either.

1.   Read Eph 4:15; Prov 18:17; 1 Cor 4:5; Eph 4:31; Eph 4:29.  Describe the common situations or most recent situation that has hurt, offended, or provoked you to lose heart and have conflict. Do this as objectively as you can without attacking any involved.  What were your major concerns with this person’s actions or words.  We must remember that as we clarify our concerns God desires our motivation to primarily be love for God and the person (Eph 4:15). To help us with this God gives us specific instructions. When addressing a concern of another we are commanded : 1) to be factually objective (Prov 18:17); 2) to not judge their motives but rather the pattern of behaviors - trusting God to reveal the heart (1 Cor 4:5); 3) to not slander by adding to the story or by vilifying everything about the person (Eph 4:31); 4) to not attack the person by calling names or by only criticizing and not recognizing their strengths or good qualities (Eph 4:29).

  • (Eph 4:15 NASB)  but speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ
  • (Prov 18:17 NASB)  The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him.
  • (1 Cor 4:5 NASB)  Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
  • (Eph 4:31 NASB)  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
  • (Eph 4:29 NASB)  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
2.  Read Eph 4:1-3; 1 Pet 3:8; Rom 12:17-18; James 4:11; Matt 7:1-5, Rom 14:13.  Now describe your actions and words (i.e. response) that have been most upsetting to the other person and displeasing to God.  What do you think are his/her major concerns with you and your actions that your Lord agrees with according to scripture?
  • (Eph 4:1-3  NASB)   Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace(1 Peter 3:8 NASB) To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
  • (Rom 12:17-18 NASB)  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. {18} If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
  • (James 4:11) Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.
  • (Mat 7:5 NASB) "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
  • (Rom 14:13 NASB)  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

ENTIRE "UNITY IN CONFLICT" COURSE NOW AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

“BECOME A PERSON OF SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE”
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and
manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every
place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being
saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death
to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16


Would you like to learn to be a Christ-like peacemaker not a peace-faker? If you are in conflict with another person – your spouse, child, or another family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, a brother in the church – there is a way to approach them without ignoring, attacking or pulling away.


“Unity in Conflict” contains biblical conflict resolution tools that have motivated and guided many people, especially married couples, in conflict to experience God-given unity. By working through these eight lessons, you will learn to draw near to Christ and His mind, as you learn His way of dealing with strife in relationships. You will learn, like Him, to offer peace and unity in relationship without compromising truth. As a result you will experience the inner peace of Christ and become an instrument of peace in the hand of your Savior to those who tempt you to fight and quarrel. The Bible will be opened as God’s Spirit persuades you more deeply in the truths
of Biblical peacemaking.

Tim Bryant


Audio 1 – It Only Takes One
Audio 2 – Examining Your Concerns
Audio 3 – Examine Your Heart
Audio 4 – Examine Your Circumstances
Audio 5 – Humility in Conflict (Pt 1)
Audio 6 – Humility (Pt 2) & Sacrificial Love in Conflict
Audio 7 – Speak the Truth in Love
Audio 8 – Involving Others in the Conflict

In another article I have included a sample letter with an assignment that I send to two people in conflict before I get started counseling them. To read that article click here. The assignment I include does indeed often help the two people in conflict get properly oriented to see the Lord begin a work of reconciliation right away.