He Will Deliver Us: Christ-Centered Counsel After Combat

He Will Deliver Us: Christ-Centered Counsel After Combat

Veterans are more numerous than most any other portion of the population. Every congregation likely has one or many. Of the 23 veterans that take their lives daily, how many were in a pew on Sunday? How many pastors or members of their local church body knew the war that was being waged silently for the heart and soul of this veteran? How many families are falling apart because of the battle warriors are facing that only begins on American soil? If you talk to pastors, sit in seminary classes, counseling programs or other ministries being championed by the local church there is a gaping hole in the ministries of almost every one of these churches staring right at them and it is once wore dog tags, combat boots and kevlar. Veterans are in desperate need of the few thing churches have to offer that no doctor, government agency, therapist or fraternal organization can offer; The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the care of a local congregation and a pastor who knows that though they may have some tangible physical needs that can only addressed by medicine, they have the ability to minister The Word of God that is the only salve for the soul.

As a Marine, a veteran, and one who knows the power of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am writing He Will Deliver Us: Christ-Centered Counsel After Combat to shine light upon this urgent issue that must become a priority for local churches lest we turn a blind eye to some of the people and families that need the gift we have received the most.

My preliminary outline is below and a topical introduction and thesis is available here 

He Will Deliver Us: Christ – Centered Counsel After Combat


Why Counsel After Combat?

                (Intro/Thesis with quantifiable statistics of veteran data and issues)

What Are Veterans Facing After Combat?

PTSD and Moral injury

Survivors Guilt

Fear and Anxiety

Depression and Loss of Purpose

Family Dynamic

The Human Brain, Physical Symptoms and Neurology

Christ-Centered Counsel after Combat

                Gospel Gap: A Review of the resources and treatments that do not offer healing to the heart

                Gospel Hope: Victory, Peace and Rest for the warrior’s soul

                From Depression to Desire – Training the Heart toward the Glory of God

                        Forgiveness by Faith – Understanding the Providence, Sovereignty and                                 Grace of God

                        The Resurrection Reality – The Person and Work of Jesus Christ offers a                             real sense of safety and comfort both physically and spiritually.

Christ-Centered Counseling for Combat Vets

A Note to Pastors

A Note to Congregations (will a believing combat veteran please stand up?)

A Note to Friends and Families

Afterward: He Will Deliver Us, An encouragement to my believing brothers in arms


                Stereotypes, Military Culture and Things to avoid when counseling vets


God’s Glory in Faithful Balance: The Similar Snares of Gospel Ministry

I was reading through a book by Voddie Baucham the other day preparing for a class I am teaching at church on Gospel Centered Families.

This book titled Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homescaused me to pause and reflect on one central point he made in a subsection discussing the differences between covenant and contract. Baucham went into a very convicting observation in modern culture and our tendencies as men to identify ourselves with our profession instead of our families and faith. It is very common to glance by this part and say well, I am good, I think I am a biblical complimentarian who lovingly leads his wife as a servant shepherd, but I would be foolish and proud to stop there.

The more I thought about that theme, I was brought back to words of wisdom from Dr. Randy Stinson who advised the men in his Leadership in Family Ministry course to keep family and church in the higher priority or you run the risk of graduating from seminary biblically unqualified to enter Christian ministry. Ouch. It hurts because it is true. Why do we fall prey to this identity crisis that the world imposes on our true identities in Christ? Even as a new pastor, how can we be so foolish to think that we are immune to this as well? Some have to fight doubly hard against this because they, like the author, are bi-vocational which means they work outside the church as well.

It made me think of a thought which I hope to flesh out a bit in one of my later journal entries as I turn to the Pastoral Epistles and Jesus’ words to his disciples. What does God glorifying balance look like? What does Scripture have to say about it? Why do ministers have so much risk of this same trap that corporate America and materialism and power complexes impose on us regular folk?

From what I can tell the reason pastor’s fall into this trap is because there is a pervasive culture of success driven ministry, in the broad church culture where more and bigger is better and even in seminary where we are taught and exposed to some of the biggest and brightest in Christendom. You see pastors aren’t that different after all.

I praise God that I have learned under Godly men who have published great books. I thank God that I have learned in Chapel from men who have bestsellers and frequently sellout conferences. But the hidden danger in this is we, as fallen men, begin to measure ourselves against these men, and not again the standard of Scripture, so we try to climb the same ladder that I have no further desire to climb in the corporate sector but convince ourselves it is for God’s glory and not ours.

Can we be honest here? We all know there is a bit of selfish pride spiking every time we dream about what it would be like to be respected and published like D.A. Carson or preach like Piper or blog like Tim Challies. I pray as God works in me to keep in proper balance my calling in respect to my calling as Husband and Father and any desire for success to see Christ’s name glorified.

Those of us in gospel ministry were never promised success, by any human measurement. We were promised persecution, tests, trials and hardships. No passage promises a book deal, a mega-church or, even one profession and baptism, but what is does promise is eternal reward for those who remain faithful to the end.

The Beauty of God’s Purpose in Family

by Marc Mullins, January 21, 2012

Rev. 3/29/2013

These days the definition of what a human family is can be harder to nail down than the actual day Christ will return for His bride. Of course dozens of people have false notions of what that date might be, also many claim to define family then go to lengths to avoid the historical, logical, or Biblical definition for family. Both of course, can only be truly defined by God. Thankfully, He has communicated to us in His inerrant and living word, so it can only do us well to pay attention to God’s word on the matter.

The world’s definition:

fam·i·ly[fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] noun,plural -lies, adjective
a. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.
b. a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family.
2. the children of one person or one couple collectively: We want a large family.
3. the spouse and children of one person: We’re taking the family on vacation next week.
4. any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents,children, 
uncles, aunts, and cousins: to marry into a socially prominent family.
5. all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor. 1

Modern Family (2009) PosterAs we can easily see, contemporary culture sees family consisting of two types of individuals: adults and children, in almost any combination. There are no requisite qualifications physically, emotionally, economically, psychologically and specifically spiritually.  The family is merely defined as a utilitarian social construct that is part of the economic equation of modern society.  The worldview presented in this definition is startling to the Christian and antithetical to the Gospel display, the Trinitarian hierarchy, and the ultimate purpose of family set forth by God since the first family was created. That purpose is to extend His glory to the ends of the earth as the water covers the sea.

God Created Man to Extend His Glory

God created mankind, specifically families, to extend his glory. After creating mankind in his own image, God then asserted creative order in Genesis to the first man and woman.  That order is to have dominion over all creation, to subdue it by being fruitful and multiplying. (Gen 1:26-28)

Humanity is God’s means to subdue creation under his feet so that the earth will become the created Temple of God.  In the perfect world, God willed for humans to join together in worship of himself by giving them the ability to relate to and commune with each other and to worship their Creator, as the unique creatures that bear his likeness which are his essence manifested in human flesh.2

If the purpose of creation was to create a temple in which God would dwell in relationship with his creatures flourishing and extending their dominion outside the original borders of the garden, then it is important to understand how this helps to define family.  Family is the resulting relationship in which God’s image on display in the creation while remaining exiled from the first garden until Christ returns for his bride and safely delivers them to the new garden where an eternal communing relationship bonded by His blood will never be severed.3

The family is God’s means for dominion over his created temple. As man and woman were joined together to become one flesh, God’s means to cover the earth became reality.  God created the first family, first he made Adam out of dust to work and tend the garden and secondly Eve, made from Adam’s own flesh and bone, given of himself to himself by God to be his helpmate. They were to join together, become one flesh, literally inseparable, and be fruitful and multiply to the praise of their father. They were to multiply humanity, made in the image of God, so that God’s image would subdue creation and blanket it with God on display, God’s glory.

That the Next Generation Might Know

God has uniquely created humans, as the only relational, moral, and creative beings that have the ability to worship, learn and think, all driven by the soul which has set in motion by God’s common grace among all humans and his Saving Grace among his elect.  As God chose to use human families as the means to fill his temple, God also provided the how and why for humans to accomplish God’s will.

Human Families were to display God’s glorious gospel. Man was to find supreme pleasure in serving and worshiping God in Christ. Since our first Father and Mother brought us all into a pattern of sin and spiritual death, God in his mercy and grace gave mankind instruction to quicken the dead hearts of man. God commanded fathers to lead their families in the worship of God our Creator, wives to submit to their husbands as unto Christ and children under the instruction and authority of both parents. Man was to continuously tell the next generation of the wonders of the one true God and recount the stories of humanities failures and God’s redeeming grace. ( Psalm 78)

The Gospel is on display as man is to sacrificially give himself over to his bride as Christ died for the church (Eph 5:22-6:4) and as Adam gave of himself for the creation of his lifelong helpmate. The woman is to joyously submit to the leadership of the husband as the church does to Christ and as Eve was created to submit to Adam until the serpent thwarted God’s design for family order in creation.  Through the submission and leadership to the instruction of God, they were to be fruitful and as Deuteronomy teaches us they were to desire God above all things and from sun up to sun down, they were to teach their children the ways of God, train them in the fear of God, worshiping him with all of their heart, soul and might.4

The Family Continuing God’s Redemptive Plan

Even today we still find the biblical family as the bedrock foundation for the extension of God’s glory around the globe in the midst of a relentless enemy.  God has commissioned man, woman and every generation he blesses us with to cover the earth, making new disciples in each family who will continue the mission. In some countries the institution of family has been eternally altered from God’s design. Some places,  the definition of family has nothing to do with being fruitful or multiplying. Even so God’s sovereign will cannot be stopped. God continues to bring man and woman together under his authority who will bring up coming generations, sharing the gracious Gospel and until the Bride of Christ The Savior is gathered, generation by generation, church by church, and nation by nation.

Until He Returns

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
(Revelation 19:6-8 ESV)


1 Definition from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/family

2 Many ideas were considered from Dr. James Hamilton’s article, “The Mystery of Marriage,” pages 253-71 in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.

3 Ibid.

4 I owe a debt of gratitude for the insights provided by Dr. Hamilton in his article “That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord,” Journal of Family Ministry 1.1 (2010): 10-17.
Also published as: “That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord: Family Discipleship in the Old Testament,” pages 33–43 in Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective, ed. Timothy Paul Jones and Randy Stinson. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011.  The content of this entire book has been instrumental in my theology of family as I see it developed in the vast story line of God’s redemptive plan in scripture.

Image Credit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1442437/


Three Kinds of Men by C. S. Lewis

Three Kinds of Men

C. S. Lewis writes a very short essay called “Three Kinds of Men” in a collection of essays entitled Present Concerns.

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade”, “in school” and “out of school”. But the thirdclass is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort – it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

Is this not the heart of Mark 7 and John 3 and Luke 15 and 18:9-14 and so many other statements Jesus makes to the religious elite? And 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 1 John 3:9?
Update: See others chime in similarly on the three (not two) ways to live here, here,here, here, and here. I interact with Lewis’ essay in this book.

The Idol of Success

An outstanding article by Paul Tripp.

…We tend to approach parenting with expectations as if we had hard-and-fast guarantees. We think that if we do our part, our children will become model citizens. We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right.

These assumptions pave the way for our identity to get wrapped up in our kids. We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success. We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures. We secretly want to display them on the mantels of our lives as visible testimonies to a job well done.

When they fail to live up to our expectations, we find ourselves not grieving for them and fighting for them, but angry at them, fighting against them, and, in fact, grieving for ourselves and our loss. We’re angry because they’ve taken something valuable away from us, something we’ve come to treasure, something that has come to rule our hearts: a reputation for success.

It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that these are God’s children. They don’t belong to us. They’re not given to bring us glory, but him. Our kids are from him, they exist through him, and the glory of their lives points to him. We’re only agents to accomplish his plans. We’re only instruments in his hands. Our identity is rooted in him and his call to us, not in our children and their performance.

Read the entire article here.

Clayton’s Story


There are so many things in this life that distract us from treasuring what is truly important. Clayton McDonald’s unique situation forced an understanding of life most of us cannot comprehend. Diagnosed with leukemia for the fourth time at the age of 19, Clayton was scared—for everyone else.

Watch “Clayton’s Story” to see how the brevity of life and the hope of heaven propelled this young man to live out his final days with death-defying courage.

About the Artist