Friday, April 27, 2018

Appreciating CCEF

The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and I couldn’t appreciative them more.

CCEF has had a profound influence in my life and ministry. When I was a rookie pastor drowning in the difficulties and complexities of shepherding people, my friend Robert D. Jones introduced me the Journal of Biblical Counseling and the ministry of this biblical counseling think-tank based in Philadelphia. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bob had opened the door to some of the richest teaching and wonderful people who would greatly shape my thinking, my spiritual growth, and my whole approach to pastoral ministry–and even shoot me into the world of publishing!

CCEF was used by the Lord Jesus to revolutionize my philosophy of ministry. Actually, they really brought my philosophy of ministry fully home. "Biblical counseling" was simply working out in a practical way all of the implications, entailments, and applications of my theology: progressive sanctification, every-member ecclessiology, biblical anthropology, the sufficiency of Scripture.

I had been taught that biblical counseling was "take 2 Bible verses and call me in the morning," and that it saw every life problem as sin and that if your only tool was a hammer, then every problem would look like a nail. But the JBC told me something different. Every issue was full of true, do-able, timeless wisdom. And it was well-written and hopeful. It was engaging, and it met me right where I needed. It scratched me right where I itched.

Over the years, I went deeper into the ministry of CCEF: training sessions, workshops, books, audio recordings (what we used to call "tapes"), and eventually classes at Biblical Theological Seminary and Westminister Theological Seminary with CCEF faculty–David Powlison, Tim Lane, Bill Smith, Ed Welch, Winston Smith, Mike Emlet.

While at WTS, I had the idea of doing my doctoral project on the problem of gossip–how to biblically recognize, resist, and repent of it. Not only did the faculty encourage this idea, Ed Welch even suggested that I write my project as a book and then agreed to write the foreword when it was published by CLC five years ago.

And then after I graduated with my doctorate in pastoral counseling, the folks at CCEF have continued to encourage and challenge me. They published some of my work in the Journal of Biblical Counseling and on their blog, and they invited me to teach my resisting gossip material at their national conference. It’s a marvel to me that I have been able to contribute in a small way to the very thing that has been such a fountain of nourishment to me for the last two decades.

I don’t know where I’d be without CCEF. I do know that if there was no CCEF that my wife and kids wouldn’t be loved as well, my flock wouldn’t be cared for with as much loving skill, my preaching wouldn’t have as much insight into how the Bible maps onto everyday life, I wouldn’t know where to point people to consistently trustworthy resources for their problems, and there wouldn’t be a book floating around the world called Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue. And most importantly, if there was no CCEF, I wouldn’t know Jesus as well or be as conformed to His image. CCEF has been a wonderful instrument in the Redeemer’s hands in my life. If the Lord tarries, I pray that He gives CCEF another 50 fruitful years of walking with others in wisdom and love.