Hope, Help, and Peacemaking Grounded In God's Word
Most seminars include four or five sessions (about an hour for each, including discussion time) and take place on a Saturday. A Friday evening session is sometimes added. Other times would also be considered, depending on the needs of the church.
We currently offer the following seminars:
1. MAKING PERSONAL CHANGES THAT STICK
God created me and redeemed me, and he controls every detail of history. With that foundation, the believer can be confident of lasting personal change. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). Change happens on every level—physiological, emotional, action, conceptual, and experience. We will explore how sin brings disruption to every area, and how Christ transforms each area by his redeeming grace. Change also happens in the context of trials and temptations—the “climate” which God alone controls. We cannot choose our trials, yet we make moment-by-moment choices about how we will respond in the midst of them. Our choices involve the inner life (the motives of the heart) and the outward life (the “walk” of behavior and lifestyle). Our goal is to help each of us understand more profoundly the personal battles we face, to become intensely practical about change, and above all, to experience the transformation of the Gospel from the inside. Time for interaction is provided to address specific issues the participants are facing.
2. POWERFUL PEACE-MAKING: A Seminar on Forgiveness and Christian Conflict Resolution
Christian peacemaking must begin with forgiveness. The first stage of forgiveness is unconditional. It comes from the God-ward focus and transformed attitude of the heart that empowers us to release judgment to the Judge. The second stage is conditional. It involves a Gospel-driven effort to restore broken relationships by sincere confession and the promise of forgiveness. This “transactional” type of forgiveness brings full reconciliation between people. We probe into questions such as “How can I be confident that the offender’s repentance is genuine?” “How can I forgive when I don’t trust?” “How can I forgive when I still feel such pain?” These questions must be treated seriously if the relationship is to be restored.
Forgiveness releases you from the past; commitments direct you in the present; trust-building builds hope for the future. Both forgiveness and trust involve risk. In fact, they mean death: a bloodied cross looms over both. Jesus’ finished work takes our breath away and moves us to repent of our sins, and forgive others’ sins, and do the courageous things needed to build relationships that honor Him. The seminar concludes with practical methods of conflict-resolution. When asked to serve as mediators in a church conflict, we like to present this seminar to the entire congregation as a foundation before attempting any conciliation work.
3. GOD’S BLUEPRINT FOR MARRIAGE
...A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen 2:24). This seminar is structured by the “leave, cleave, and weave” model embedded in the very creation of marriage. We need to develop a theology of marriage based solidly on this biblical world-view. From it, we derive practical tools as we seek to develop vibrant, Christ-honoring marriages. Christian marriage is sanctifying and also joyful, so we want this seminar to be fun as well as informative. Couples will be encouraged to consider commitments and practical plans to grow their marriage more and more into a union filled with such joy that it actually anticipates the New Creation to come. That’s God’s plan! The seminar leaves time for discussion, but in order to give the church flexibility to minister to a wide range of participants, including singles, it does not require couples to have private and intimate conversations (or arguments!) during the seminar. Our hope is that the marriage “enrichment” discussions will happen at home. Often, however, mature couples will share personal and encouraging stories that demonstrate God’s grace toward married sinners. We recommend that Dawna Selle be included as a co-presenter for this seminar.
4. GRACE-FILLED PARENTING: Training Your Children with Love and Direction
“It’s not fair! As parents we pour our lives and hearts into our children—so they can grow up and leave us.” That’s right. Suffering is built in to parenting, and if you don’t get that, you don’t get parenting. Some of the most overlooked aspects of parenting are the implications of the “covenant of grace.” We take the approach that children of believing households are members of the church even if they have not yet professed their faith in the Savior. Therefore, all the “one another” commandments of the New Testament apply to the manner in which parents view and treat their children. In that context, we tackle the crucial issue of discipline that reaches the conscience as well as addressing the necessary behavioral changes God desires. When parents truly become overwhelmed by God’s grace they can administer grace-giving and practical discipline that really works! As with all our seminars, we encourage discussion about the lessons participants have learned from their mistakes, along with the good humor that keeps us all humble—and hopeful, in the Lord’s mercy!
5. GOSPEL HOPE FOR BROKEN COMMUNICATION
Do not let any rotten word come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may give grace to those who listen (Eph 4:29).
How high is the bar for our speech? Every word, without exception, must be a channel of the “demerited favor” of God—Gospel-centered at its core! Against that towering standard, we can understand sinful speech in all its destructiveness, especially during conflicts. Yet there is hope! At every point where evil communication brings misery to relationships, to the family, and to the church, the Holy Spirit wants to transform it, for Jesus’ glory. This workshop explores some of the main “weapons” of sinful communication and God’s positive replacements for each one—such as truthful praise vs. destructive criticism, charitable esteem vs. gossip & slander, and words that lead to Christ-likeness vs. “rotten” speech that has an evil effect. We want this workshop to lead us (and those we help) into a renewed commitment to use our speech only in the ways God designed it, through practical understanding, repentance, and Gospel hope. It is what peacemakers do.
6. HOW WE CAN MAKE GOOD CHOICES TOGETHER--AND AVOID DISASTEROUS ONES
Decision-making is always fertile ground for conflict: What decisions will be made, by whom, and by what process? In this seminar, which is especially appropriate for leaders, we will explore important biblical principles for decision-making that lead us to personal and corporate wisdom. God’s wisdom and priorities make Christian decision-making truly different. “Wisdom means that together we discern the Good from the Evil, the Important from the Good, and the Vital from the Important.” It is God’s gift of clear thinking about moral absolutes, along with a sense of proportion so we lighten up on the lesser matters. We will also probe into the lack of wisdom by interfacing with fascinating research on typical decision-making errors and how to avoid them. Participants will hear practical tools to help us apply the principles of Scripture to specific people in particular situations. This provides an important means for building unity in the family and the church.
7. WAYS OF HOLINESS: Defective or Biblical Views of Sanctification
How do Christians actually change? Will growth in holiness happen through “moralism”? : “You drunk. Knock it off…. Stay sober and get a job!” Or through “liberalism”? : “You’re really a good person inside. Just let the Spirit blow that spark into a mighty flame.” This brief seminar explores these and other defective models of sanctification in a way that shows how we are all sometimes tempted to fall into them. Against that backdrop, we see the beauty and power of biblical, Spirit-empowered sanctification. We are justified by grace through faith in Christ at the beginning of our Christian life. But then we should never leave faith behind us, because it plays a key role in our ongoing spiritual growth. Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you being perfected by the flesh? (Gal 3:2-3). The Holy Spirit brings order and discipline: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25). The entire Christian walk is faith working by love (Gal 5:6) because sanctification happens in the context of the church family, not in monastic isolation. And above all, true change happens by God’s grace in union with the Savior. You never graduate from the cross to move on to bigger and better things, for I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20). Therein lies our great hope we believe, and to which we point other sinners.
All seminars are geared primarily for professing Christians, but the material is sprinkled with enough humor and practical help that unchurched people can be invited and will be benefit.
The Board of Directors of Christian Counseling & Mediation, a non-profit 501(c )3 ministry, oversees this work and sets policies. For information on fees, please contact us via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or phone (802) 879-1103.