@CCEF


  • 10 Things You Should Know about the Priesthood | Ed Welch
    When we think about priests in the Bible, we imagine bearded men burning incense and sacrificing animals. However, the priesthood is a premier theme throughout Scripture, and ultimately it is a role shared by all believers—men and women from every tribe and nation. The church doesn’t talk much about this role, but it is central to our…
  • 4 Principles for Talking to Your Kids about Sex | Julie Lowe
    As a parent, how comfortable are you talking with your children about sex? Not so much? Why is that? God created sex to bless us—why is it so hard to talk about? For many, it is our own discomfort with the topic. Perhaps you did not grow up in an environment where it was discussed,…
  • 5 Common Marriage Counseling Mistakes | Winston Smith
    Pastors are all familiar with that couple. The couple that asks for help and says something has to change, and now! But why the sudden urgency? Maybe something has come out: there’s been adultery, a secret sin, or an addiction that has been discovered. Or, it may be that what has been irritating for five,…
  • A Letter to Wives Who Are Wondering: Is it Abuse? | Darby Strickland
    Dear Sister, Many hurting wives are not sure if what is happening to them is abuse. Are you one of them? Do you wonder if what you are enduring is bad enough to qualify for that label? Maybe you suspect something might be “off,” but you wonder: “Is it me? Is it my fault? Maybe…
  • Adultery and Reconciliation: 10 Years Later | Ed Welch
    If you had asked the betrayed partner before the adultery, “Do you think you could ever reconcile if your spouse was adulterous?” Most would have said, with confidence, “no!” Yet—many do. But how? What is their secret? …It is this. They are able to reconcile because God gives grace—lots of grace—to couples facing this betrayal.…
  • An Alternative To Micromanaging Your Children | Julie Lowe
    As parents we often struggle with this reality: the older our kids get, the weightier their decisions become. We also realize there is a great deal of evil in the world that we want to protect our children from. Given these facts, parents are often tempted to micromanage in an effort to prevent poor decisions.…
  • An Open Letter to Those Nonchalant about Their Sexual Sin | David Powlison
    Sex is like fire. When it blazes in the fireplace, a good fire warms and brightens the room, enhancing joy and companionship. But when fires ignite in the wrong places, the house burns down. Is your sexuality igniting in the wrong places? Are you treating sexual sin casually? How do you know when this has…
  • Basics About Bipolar | Ed Welch
    Diane, a thirty-five-year old wife and mother, was becoming increasingly irritable. Her flashes of anger at the slightest provocation put everyone on high alert. Adding to the family tension, she was sleeping erratically—staying up late and getting up early. The family didn’t really know what she was doing with her time. Half-finished projects littered the…
  • Burnout and Stress | Ed Welch
    Burnout suggests that the flame is flickering and there is no stoking the fire this time. You have nothing left to give. Stress comes to us by way of engineering. The building is under too much weight; there is too much pressure, and fractures are beginning to appear. You have too much to do, what…
  • Caring For Families And Developmentally Delayed Children | Darby Strickland
    To care well for a family who has a child with developmental delays, the multitude of the gifts and skills of the body of Christ are needed. Here are practical ways the local church can minister to children with developmental delays and their families, followed by ways that people with specific positions in the church…
  • Communicate With Teens | Tedd Tripp
    Teenagers’ lives are full of complexity. Strong forces compete for their attention. They often feel insecure. They worry about their appearance. They spend a lot of time fixing their hair and clothes. They change their clothes three or four times before going out. They practice in front of the mirror: “Is this my good smile?”…
  • Counseling Angry, Unmotivated, Self-Centered, and Spiritually-Indifferent Teens | Richard M. Horne
    Counseling angry and indifferent young people typically begins with presenting issues. But counseling does not stop there. The youth counselor who tries to identify the teen’s problem for him and then offers his own solutions, even his understanding of biblical solutions, does not have to wait very long— maybe five or ten minutes—to see the…
  • Counselor Self-Disclosure: How Much Should I Talk About Me? | Ed Welch
    Counselor self-disclosure is a perennial counseling topic. At its best, self-disclosure invites the counselee to further openness which is a key feature of a growing relationship. At its worst, it draws undue attention to the counselor, distracts the conversation, and fails to provide the desired empathy. Keep in mind the different types of self-disclosure. Counselors…
  • Depression’s Odd Filter | Ed Welch
    So you have your work cut out for you. All new wiring. Get rid of the tangled mess by confessing that you don’t hear, and replace it with a very simple connection: God says it, I believe it. If you want to check to make sure the system is working order, keep track of your…
  • Don’t Waste Your Cancer | David Powlison
    I believe in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer.…
  • Eight Questions on Addictions for Pastors | Ed Welch
    The word addiction is open to all kinds of theories, which is one reason some Christians try to avoid it. Slavery is more specific. But the word addiction is a useful point of contact that essentially says, “I like this, or at least I once liked it, but I certainly never planned to be owned by it.” How do…
  • Engaging Our Emotions, Engaging with God | Alasdair Groves
    Emotions are tricky. Everyone has them. Everyone struggles with them. Many struggle with how they feel more than anything else in their lives. Then there is the sea of other people’s emotions in which all of us swim. I suspect most of us consider emotions to be more of a liability than an asset. What…
  • Expecting Less from Church | Ed Welch
    I decided I would say something to him. A fellow elder. Transparency is good, as a general rule, with the right person, at the right time. “I didn’t hear too much from the sermon on Sunday.” I actually meant, “I didn’t hear one thing.” I would have rather confessed anything other than this. Anything. Part…
  • Fear of Being Alone | Jayne V. Clark
    This morning I heard on the radio that a 50-year-old man had been found dead in his apartment. That news was sad enough, but what made it even more tragic was that he had been dead for three years. Three years! For some of us, that news report expressed our greatest fear—dying alone and forgotten.…
  • Five Counseling Myths in the Church | Ed Welch
    Pastoral care and counsel—that is what we are considering. It is the word counsel that leads to some confusion and differences of opinion. With that in mind, here are a few myths I have heard. 1. Counseling is for the professionals. 2. As a pastor, you don’t have time for counseling. 3. You can’t counsel…
  • Five Ways to Help Protect Your Kids from Sexual Abuse | Julie Lowe
    There is a growing alertness among parents, educators, and the church about the need to teach kids tangible ways to stay safe. Until children are old enough to keep themselves safe, it is the job of parents and concerned adults to prepare them to navigate difficult situations that may occur when they are away from…
  • For the Moms Stuck Inside | Alasdair Groves
    Call it cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder or just feeling cooped up, caring for young children during the winter is no joke when the walls feel like they are closing in around you. On top of feeling stuck inside with your kids, it takes more effort to bundle kids up and do anything or see…
  • Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges With Understanding and Strength | Mike Emlet
    This booklet will give you a framework to guide you as you care for someone with ongoing physical and mental problems. Although the specifics of providing care for stroke victims, Alzheimer’s sufferers, or those with bipolar disorder are very different, there are general principles you can apply to your situation that will help you to…
  • Help! I Keep Losing My Temper | Alasdair Groves
    Losing your temper is a lot like losing your car keys—you never choose to and it always seems to happen at the worst moments. For some “losing your temper” means yelling, swearing, pounding a fist on the table. For others, lost temper is barely perceptible: a tightening of the jaw, a cold silence, but the…
  • Helping “Difficult” People in Your Church | Tim Lane
    One of the most challenging aspects of pastoral ministry is dealing with difficult people. These are people who need help but seem to challenge you at every turn as you try to provide that help. How should the church respond and minister in these situations? Everyone has to relate to difficult people—and most of us…
  • Helping Those Who Are Angry With God | David Powlison
    Let’s begin with a case study. Todd, a middle-aged divorced man, says he is angry with God because, essentially, his life is falling apart. His wife left him for another man; his only child—a twenty-five-year-old son—is not very responsive to him anymore, and a stray dog recently killed his cat, which he thought was the…
  • Hoarding: First Steps on a Complicated Problem | Ed Welch
    Some hoarders have no words to describe the tension they feel when there is a threat that something could be discarded. Can we find some words that can get them (and us) started? What does the King say? The New Testament describes life with Jesus as King. That life, of course, is usually the opposite…
  • Hope for the Depressed | Ed Welch
    Depression tries to tell us what is true and what isn’t. For example, it says that you will never feel any different, and you can’t continue to live in such a condition. It says that God doesn’t care, and no one loves you. It tries to persuade you that nothing matters. Know, however, that depression…
  • How Not to Help a Sufferer | Gavin Ortlund
    Of all the Bible’s many colorful characters, none is quite so exasperating as Job’s friends. Herod might chop off your head, and Judas might stab you in the back, but Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar will hurt you with Bible verses. Job’s actual losses take two brief chapters to recount (Job 1–2), but the tortuous dialogue…
  • Is Scripture Sufficient for Counseling? | Ed Welch
    “They just use the Bible.” I have heard people say that about biblical counseling. I wouldn’t think about the comment except for two things. One, this is not a pat on the back; the word just gives that away. If I heard “they use the Bible,” I would be encouraged and keep at it, but…
  • It’s All About Me: The Problem with Masturbation | Winston Smith
    In this article, Winston shows how seemingly “harmless” sexual fantasies and masturbation negatively impact people and their ability to have healthy relationships with others. He shares how to build a new inner world founded on Christ’s love, instead of imaginary fantasies. Learning these truths will help those who struggle with masturbation and sexual fantasies to…
  • Let’s Talk About Money | Ed Welch
    “Men will talk about their struggle with pornography, but don’t ask about their money.” A veteran of many men’s groups made that observation, and it made sense. As a counselor, I talk about sex with people, but I cannot remember the last time I talked about money. In other words, I am missing something. Jesus…
  • Letting Go of Pain | Ed Welch
    It sounds strange – let go of pain. Who would want to hold on to it? But we are complicated people. Sometimes pain grabs us and it won’t let go; sometimes it grabs us and we grab it right back. And we have our reasons. [Read More]
  • Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken (Part 1) | David Powlison
    Is your sexuality misshapen and misdirected? Sexual evils are among the dark things that pour forth from within our hearts. Jesus bluntly indicts a roster of sexual wrongs (Mark 7:21-23) – and offers costly mercy to the repentant. Has your sexuality been harmed by others? Some people experience terrible sufferings at the hands of predators,…
  • Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken (Part 2) | David Powlison
    Walking in the light is not magic. When you see the fork in the road more clearly (today’s skirmish)…, and when you see and hear your Lord more clearly (something He says)…, then you start talking, start needing, start trusting, and then you start making the hard, significant, joyous choice to love people rather than…
  • Men: Pursue Others Like Jesus Pursues You | Ed Welch
    All the biblical stories of the Lord moving toward people are stories of grace. Grace is God’s moving toward us in Christ. He pursued us not because we called out so well and took the first step of self-reformation. We were simply sick and needed him. Or worse, we were enemies who were not inclined…
  • Ministry, Personal Limits, and Saying “No” | Ed Welch
    How do you get off the phone when the other person speaks without a pause and you have work that needs to get done? Have you ever heard yourself saying “yes” and are already kicking yourself for saying it? What are wise boundaries? Some version of this is the most common question I receive as a…
  • More On How To Understand Biological Factors In Counseling | Mike Emlet
    How might you discern if a particular behavior is rooted in personal sin or is the result of living in a sin-cursed world (i.e., the result of a disordered body)? I particularly wonder about the presence of causative physiological factors if my counselee’s struggle marks a sudden or substantial change from his/her usual self, if…
  • Parenting A Difficult Child | Julie Lowe
    Some of the most burdensome moments for a parent are when it is clear to those around you that your child is defiant or difficult. What are other people thinking? What does this say about me as a parent? They might assume your child’s behavior is a result of inadequate parenting or something else amiss…
  • Pastor: Equip Your People to Counsel Each Other | Ed Welch
    This lay ministry is an extraordinary happening. No longer do people need a special, though temporary anointing, to offer a prophetic word of direction and wisdom. Now we are part of the new covenant in which the Spirit has been given to all who have put their faith in Jesus. Lay ministry is one of…
  • Pastor: What Your Wife Wishes You Knew about Being a Pastor’s Wife | Jani Ortlund
    Dear Pastor, I might not know your wife personally, but we are connected through our shared membership in a unique club. You might not have heard of this club before, if your wife doesn’t want you to know she belongs to it. It’s the “Help! I’m a Pastor’s Wife and I’m Struggling Club.” There are…
  • Premarital Counseling, Pornography, and Marriage | Winston Smith
    Any time I meet with a couple who are planning to get married, one of the things I always have to keep in mind is that I’m looking at people who are bullet proof. That’s the way I think of it. In other words, by the time a couple gets to me for premarital counseling,…
  • PTSD and Trauma | Ed Welch
    Scripture speaks in depth to human suffering, but does its reach extend to trauma? Trauma usually identifies an event that has brought death close. This is why it first entered into our consciousness through war. The shell shock of WWI and WWII has given way to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for veterans of Vietnam…
  • Rebuilding Parental Authority | Julie Lowe
    God places loving authority in the hands of parents. It is a responsibility to lead, oversee, and direct a home in a wise, godly manner. Loving authority is trustworthy; acting on behalf of those it governs and does what is right. It is judicious and benevolent and understands the need to direct, and instruct, and…
  • Recovering from Child Abuse: Help and Healing for Victims (Part 1) | David Powlison
    You have been victimized by a terrible wrong. During your childhood, the time you were most vulnerable, instead of being protected, helped, and comforted you were abused. Most likely you were abused by someone who should have been trustworthy—a family member, a teacher, a neighbor, a coach, a pastor, a friend. Instead of being protected…
  • Recovering from Child Abuse: Help and Healing for Victims (Part 2) | David Powlison
    Recovery gets you back from being destroyed to being okay. But God is after bigger things. He is after your redemption. He has a purpose for you that flows out of your life experience, a high and holy calling. Paul says that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those…
  • Rejection | Darby Strickland
    Rejection—it’s so personal. It sticks to our souls. It does not respond to reason, and is not easily dislodged from our hearts. We can try to talk ourselves out of the indictment that comes with it, but the words we use are mostly ineffective, reinforcing our shame. I have experienced all sorts of rejection. I…
  • Sexual Abuse in Marriage | Darby Strickland
    This is the first in a series of three blogs on the sexual abuse of women in marriage. My goal is to help counselors and pastors to recognize when a wife is being sexually abused by her husband and then offer appropriate help. In this first blog, we will define what marital sexual abuse is.…
  • Sexual Abuse in Marriage: 12 Ways to Help Victims | Darby Strickland
    When God places women in our care who have been sexually abused in marriage, he is entrusting us with a tender and clear mission. These women face tremendous suffering and need us to care for them with gentle wisdom. They also need us to be strong—calling evil acts what they are—evil. This is not a…
  • Sexual Abuse in Marriage: The Power of Confusion | Darby Strickland
    Over the years, I have had hundreds of conversations with women who are being sexually abused by their husbands but do not realize it. They know something is wrong but do not know what it is. In fact, most of these women come to me seeking help for something else, usually anxiety, depression, or even a…
  • Small Decisions Matter: Discernment for Everyday Life | Ed Welch
    Life is in the details. Listen to C. S. Lewis describe how our small, day-to-day decisions matter: “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,…
  • Some Thoughts on How to Provide Long Term Pastoral Care (Part 1) | Tim Lane
    Are you facing a situation in your church that will require pastoral care over a long period of time? If you don’t have a situation like that now – you will in the future. Are you ready for it? Caring for people in the local church is challenging work. As a pastor, I remember numerous…
  • Some Thoughts on How to Provide Long Term Pastoral Care (Part 2) | Tim Lane
    No church is perfect but a prepared church will respond better when these difficult problems come. Though many will volunteer to help out in an immediate crisis, it is the long term needs that strain the resources of the church and reveal its weaknesses. To keep love constant is a challenge but Christ calls us…
  • Spiritual Abuse in Marriage (Part 1) | Darby Strickland
    I often sit with wives whose husbands have used Scripture as a weapon to control them. Beth was one such woman. When I asked her how her husband, Joe, prays for her, she shared the most recent example. “Last week, he prayed Matthew 6:24 over me, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will…
  • Spiritual Abuse in Marriage (Part 2) | Darby Strickland
    Spiritual abuse occurs when an oppressor establishes control and domination by using Scripture, doctrine, or their leadership role as a weapon. If a husband exhibits control-oriented leadership by lording his power, demanding submission, or using Scripture in daily life or during conflict to shame and punish, then these are signs of spiritual abuse. When a…
  • Successful Parenting | Ed Welch
    Everyone who has children thinks about the question: How can I be an effective or even successful parent? I have yet to meet a parent who simply wanted to pass children off into the next stage of life with basic physical health in tact but nothing more. (Reminds me of the time I babysat a…
  • Talking To Our Souls | Ed Welch
    I once thought that the psalms were sung by a fine choir in God’s throne room. Then I actually read them, and they sounded more like the words of a street troubadour who encourages the participation of those around him. Now I find that they are simply spoken and sung everywhere: in the darkness of…
  • Teens and Body Image | Julie Lowe
    As parents, we teach our children not to lie. Perhaps less discussed and more difficult to identify is when your child believes a lie, especially one that consumes their thoughts and actions. In today’s culture, a common lie that many youth buy into concerns body image. They believe they have to be a certain size…
  • Ten Questions to Help You Establish Biblical Counseling Ministries in Your Church | David Powlison
    Churches often contact CCEF asking how to establish a counseling ministry. Frequently they want a manual or step-by-step guide. But a wise answer to the “how to” question calls for a number of orienting conversations that precede the implementation of any program for offering counseling. “Ten Questions to Help You Establish Biblical Counseling Ministries in…
  • The “Gift” of Singleness | Jayne V. Clark
    Have you always wanted to be married? As a child, did you dream about what your spouse would be like and how many kids you would have? Or maybe you’re more like me. Your desire for these things came later. Maybe you wanted to be on your own for a while, enjoying the freedom and…
  • The Absurdity of Pride | Ed Welch
    Pride might help us feel strong and attractive in our own eyes, at least for a moment. But in reality, it is a gross violation of our created design. When seen accurately it is ugly, destructive, and utterly absurd. It is the absurdity and ridiculousness of pride that I want to consider. A child hits…
  • The Dull Conversation | Ed Welch
    Some conversations are just less interesting than others. The simple facts of a person’s day—the route to work, the morning snack, the spilled coffee—are not interesting unless they reveal something about the person who lived those details. In the same way, prayer requests about a distant, sick aunt can be boring unless we know something…
  • The Many Faces of Shame | Ed Welch
    Guilt is easy to identify, shame less so, and there are reasons why. One is that guilt is black or white. You did wrong or you didn’t. Yes, we can be blind to our wrongness, but when we are willing to open our eyes, matters of right and wrong are blatant. Shame, on the other…
  • The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety | Ed Welch
    “Humble yourselves.” That’s the secret. It has been there all along, but we rarely use it. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7) Fear and anxiety sufferers like myself…
  • What Is “Success” In Parenting Teens? | Paul David Tripp
    Many parents have a simple goal for getting through their child’s teenage years: survival. But this goal focuses simply on getting yourself through a difficult time. In order to get through these years, parents tend to settle for external, behaviorist goals. We try to deal with our kids according the Nike way, “Just do it!” But parents…
  • What Is God Up To?: The Temptation to Overinterpret Suffering | Ed Welch
    We tend to overinterpret suffering. There is something about the human mind that prefers answers. When life-changing events befall us, we often interpret them as highly personal messages. We do this with individuals. Every person whose troubles are known to a church community receives specific “biblical” interpretations for the trouble, or is asked, “What is…
  • What Kind of Parent Are You? | Julie Lowe
    Helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting, free-range parenting, tiger parenting, attachment parenting, baby-led, and serenity parenting—the list of descriptive parenting terms is endless. Or here is one of mine: janitorial parenting—letting your children do whatever they desire and you clean up after their mistakes, allowing them to avoid accountability. We are regularly having new labels and descriptions…
  • Why Prayer Is Hard for Me | Laura Andrews
    I’ve never been very good at long-distance relationships. I often cringe when my phone rings, no matter who is calling. I can take days, weeks, or even months to return a call or even a text from a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while. And often, when I finally bring myself to reach…
  • Why We Give in to Temptation | Mike Emlet
    Why do we give in to temptation? This question often arises in the context of counseling for repetitive struggles such as pornography use, masturbation, substance abuse, and overeating. There are many biblical ways to answer this question, but I want to focus on just one: we give in to temptation because we get tired of…
  • Words: A Hidden Weapon of Domestic Abuse | Darby Strickland
    When we think about domestic abuse, we tend to think about acts of physical violence. We picture women with bruises and black eyes, or worse. While this is an all-too-common occurrence, this assumption about domestic abuse causes us to miss the fact that the primary weapon abusers use against their victims is not their fists…
  • Young Teens and Social Media | Julie Lowe
    Like all of us, teens are made to live in relationship. They are social, interested in peers, and looking for connection in the relationships they build. They are also growing in independence. For many, social media is newly available to them and it is tailor-made made for those who are just entering the social scene.…