Upcoming Discipleship Opportunities!

Brothers and Sisters,

In 2018 there will be many discipleship opportunities available to you at HCBC including Community Groups, Men & Women’s Discipleship, and more. You’ll hear more about those soon, but for now, I’d just like to focus on some very significant opportunities for you that are right around the corner!

For several years at HCBC, Biblical Counseling has been an increasingly significant partimages of our emphasis and ministry.  At its core, Biblical Counseling is simply a form of discipleship as it aims to bring the all-sufficient Scriptures to bear (2 Tim 3:16) on our personal and corporate growth as Christians as well as letting the Scriptures inform how we navigate the common challenges of life.  Biblical Counseling impacts marriage, fear, anxiety, friendships, spiritual disciplines, parenting, anger, practical theology, depression, evangelism, addictions/besetting sins, church unity, and much more.

imagesWhile recognizing that not everyone in the church is called to be a full-time, formal biblical counselor, and that some will be more trained in Biblical Counseling than others, we believe that everyone at HCBC is called to have a basic, fundamental understanding and responsibility to know how to use the truths of Scripture in such a way that it will facilitate spiritual growth, maturity, and strength in our congregation.  The apostle Paul looked back on the growth of the church in Rome with grateful thanksgiving and satisfaction because they themselves were “filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

Here we see that the instruction isn’t just limited to a handful of formally trained imagespastors.  Instead, Paul rejoices that the whole church is able to instruct one another in the Scriptures.  We see elsewhere in the Scriptures that the church membership is expected to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands through loving discipleship, through the bearing of one another’s burdens, and through speaking loving truth to one another that builds up the Body. (Gal 6:1-2, Eph 4:29)  As your pastors, our heart’s desire is for Harbins Church to be like the church in Rome, “filled with all knowledge and able to instruct (counsel) one another.”

With that said, we are excited to bring to your attention a few ways that you can begin to receive basic training in Biblical Counseling.  I would love to see all of our members involved in one (or more) of these opportunities.

#1. Adult Bible Study.  We just recently launched a great study called Instruments in the imagesRedeemer’s Hands and it’s not too late to join in.  After our holiday break, Pastor Jeff will resume this study on Sunday, January 7th, at 9:30am in the sanctuary.  This is an outstanding study designed to release HCBC from the popular notion in our culture that the church’s sanctification and growth is in the hands of a small group of trained pastoral professionals.  Instead, every one of us at Harbins is called to minister to the Body and and become an effective tool of change in the lives of others.  We’ve gotten excellent feedback on this study so far and we are hoping to see more of our members there every week, resuming on the 7th.

#2. Faith Community Church 2018 Biblical Counseling and Discipleship Training imagesConference.  For the past several years members of HCBC have gone to this conference and it has been nothing short of outstanding.  This will certainly be a time of personal growth and excellent training in God’s Word for all who attend.  Myself, Pastor Jeff, and our wives, along with others from our church, have been among those who have greatly benefited from this time.  The training will be broken up over the course of four Saturdays at Northside Church in Roswell on January 27, February 24, March 24, and April 21st.  Jeff and I would really love to see more of our members make it an annual tradition to attend.  The registration deadline is January 12th.  For more information visit here.  If you need financial assistance to help pay for the conference let us know and we’ll see if we can help.  Also, groups can carpool to help with travel expenses.

#3. Biblical Counseling Training at Providence Church in Duluth.  Our friends at imagesProvidence Church will be providing FREE training in Biblical Counseling as they launch a 10 week course starting Tuesday evening, January 9th.  If you are interested in deeper and more intensive training, or if you are interested in going through the certification process with the ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors), this is for you!  Led by Pastor Jess Arnds, who is an ACBC certified counselor from the Master’s Seminary, you will go deep through weekly reading assignments, observing counseling sessions through video, group discussions, and more.  There will be dinner provided at 5:30pm for a small fee, and the training begins at 6pm.  You’ll wrap up by 9pm.  There will be FREE CHILDCARE!  Sign up here! For more information, contact Pastor Jess at jarnds@providenceduluth.org

Please prayerfully consider taking advantage of one or more of these terrific opportunities that will help you in your own personal growth as a Christian, and help you to powerfully minister to others in our church, building up the Body at HCBC.  We pray that 2018 will be an incredible year of growth in the Lord for you and for our church.

Grace and Peace,

Pastors Demer and Jeff

Counseling Others While Seeing In A Mirror Dimly

This past Sunday at Harbins Community Baptist Church Pastor Demer preached the third sermon of our new sermon series in which we are examining the Old Testament book of Job. This week’s sermon was entitled “Job’s Miserable Comforters.” WebJPGOutoftheWhirlwindIn that sermon Pastor Demer examined a large chunk of Job showing us how Job’s three friends erred in the counsel they gave to their friend Job. As always, this week’s text applies to us individually but I also think that this week’s message has very important implications for us corporately as a church body.

We have begun to put together Biblical counseling ministry at our church, and we’ve encouraged our members to get good training in Biblical counseling. But the kind of counseling we desire to see at Harbins is nothing like the counseling Job received from his three friends. As Pastor Demer showed on Sunday, the friends’ counsel was harsh in its tone, and it was born out of a bad theological system that lacked a proper understanding of spiritual warfare and grace. At one point Pastor Demer mentioned the lack of love that the friends demonstrated toward Job and he referenced 1 Corinthians 13 which reminds us that our theological knowledge and our even our sacrificial service is useless if it’s not driven by genuine love.

Later in 1 Corinthians 13 in verse 12 Paul says this, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” The “then” of that verse is referring to the second coming of Jesus, and Paul wants us to see how limited our knowledge and giftedness is on this side of that great Day. Knowing that we see things “in a mirror dimly” should humble us. Knowing that we see things “in a mirror dimly” should affect how we counsel one another. Job’s friends acted like they knew it all. There was no humility in their counsel, and there were no mysteries in their theological system. For them the universe could be boiled down cause and effect, and since Job was suffering he must have done something to bring that suffering upon himself.

accusatory-fingerWe can only imagine how Job’s friends would have counseled other sufferers in Scripture. What destructive advice would they have given Joseph? What sin would they have accused Jeremiah of? What would they say about the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh? And I am confident that they would have stood right beside the Pharisees as they concluded that the Nazarene on the cross surely couldn’t be the Messiah.

I say all this to urge our church to be very careful as we counsel one another. As our Biblical counseling ministry grows we must guard ourselves from falling into the presumptuous and reductionist thinking that Job’s friends had. Eastern mysticism may allow for that kind of thinking, but Biblical Christianity does not. The one true God says,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Part of the Creator/creature distinction is manifested in the fact that we often cannot comprehend the way God chooses to work. We don’t have a simplistic formula that decodes His hidden purposes. Rarely can we fully explain another human being’s suffering. What we do know is that our God is righteous and just and He always does that which brings maximum glory to Himself and maximum good to His children.

Counselling+05+copySo when it comes to counseling we must counsel with much charity and care. We cannot assume that a person’s problems are due to some sin in their life. Sometimes that might be the case, but many times it is not. That’s not to say that suffering can’t reveal other sins of the heart. That was the case with Job as we’ll see in upcoming sermons. Suffering often does refine us and reveal areas where our hearts need attention, but not all difficulty is a direct result of sin.

So let us learn from the negative example of Job’s friends. Let us learn to be good listeners. Let us learn to be patient. Let us learn that sometimes good counsel consists of weeping with those who weep. Let us learn to cover our mouths when we don’t have good answers. Let us learn to pray for wisdom and discernment. Let us learn to avoid the lazy path of making simplistic presumptions. Let us learn to counsel with love!

In Him,

Pastor Steve