To be Christian is to experience joy and sadness, grief and hope, love and hate, just as Jesus did. Our emotions make us fully human because without them we cannot see the world as God does. They are the difference between life in living reds, greens, and blues and life in black and white! But how do we rightly use this gift? How do we obey Scripture’s call to share our whole hearts honestly before the face of God, without giving into the temptation to indulge or suppress our emotions? That will be the topic of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation’s national conference this year. Here is what you can expect at the conference and pre-conference.
Pre-Conference Sessions (Thursday, 10/13/16, 9:30-5:30)
Discovering Relational Wisdom (Ken Sande)
Relational wisdom—a gospel-driven form of emotional intelligence—is the ability to discern emotions and interests in yourself and in others, to interpret them in the light of God’s Word, and to use these insights to manage your responses and relationships successfully. This training presents the biblical and neurological basis for relational wisdom and conflict resolution. It also provides simple acrostics that Christians can use to enhance their relational skills. Attendees will also learn how to help others learn the disciplines needed to experience closer relationships and less conflict, to improve job performance, and to be a more credible witness for Christ. Attendees will receive a free pass to a more detailed interactive online course, which can be used as a discipleship tool with counselees or as a small group study in church.
Care in the Local Church: Source, Strategies, & Stumbles (Dave Harvey, Robert Cheong, & Deepak Reju)
As pastors and leaders, we are called to comfort and shepherd, while being finite humans who make mistakes as we attempt to care for God’s sheep. But what is the source and supply of the comfort we offer? How do we shepherd those who are struggling? Who do we recruit and how do we train others to care for each other in the church? What are systems or structures needed for a scalable and sustainable approach to member care? And as finite humans who struggle with failure and weakness, how do we safeguard ourselves and others from our failures? In our time together in God’s Word, this pre-conference will address these and other questions related to the source, strategies, and stumbles of care in the local church.
Conference General Sessions (Friday-Sunday, 10/14/16-10/16/16)
Feeling Bad about Feeling Bad? (Winston Smith)
Christians often feel like failures when they experience negative emotions like anxiety, anger, or grief. But the Bible demonstrates that experiencing fullness in Christ calls us to connect with the pain of life in a fallen world in order to experience the joy we have in Christ. We can’t really feel the good without learning to feel the bad. The gospel demonstrates and empowers us to do both.
Emotions in the Face of Suffering (Joni Eareckson Tada)
In this plenary, Joni will share the journey of her own emotional life through the suffering she has experienced, and consider the ways she engages her emotions before the Lord in the midst of her suffering. In doing so, we can get a sense for what the Lord may be up to in our own emotions when we face suffering.
Why Do I Feel How I Feel? Understanding Your Emotions (Alasdair Groves)
Emotions are complicated. Each of us has a knee-jerk style of responding to our feelings, but rarely do our instincts run where the Scriptures direct us. In order to handle our emotions in godly, constructive and personally effective ways, we need to first understand what emotions are and how they work. As we gain a perspective on emotions in general, we are much more able to approach our own experience of emotion wisely. This session will lay a conceptual foundation on which to stand for the times when our emotions are not what they should be.
What Do I Do with My Feelings? Engaging Your Emotions (Alasdair Groves)
Once you understand what your emotions are, what do you do with them? Knowing is, after all, only half the battle. This talk will cast a vision for handling our emotions that doesn’t begin with trying to change them. Instead, we will focus on how to engage our emotions by engaging God in a variety of ways. We will especially focus in on learning to nurture and strengthen what is good and right in our emotions and learning to resist what is harmful and wrong.
Entering In: Emotions and Relationships (Winston Smith)
We know that love must be more than a feeling, and yet the Bible teaches us that emotions are a very important element of loving one another. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” is more than just good advice. It is rooted in the very nature of Christ-like love.
Fireside Chat: A Conversation between David Powlison & Joni Eareckson Tada
David and Joni will have an intentional conversation about emotions in their own lives. And they’ll consider how God is with us in our emotions for our good. This session will seek to personalize and further impress the realities we’ve been learning on our hearts and lives through David and Joni’s reflections together.
For Better or For Worse: Emotion in Marriage (Aaron Sironi)
From the very beginning of time, God described marriage as a cleaving to one another. Yet marriage is a place of strong emotion. It can be a place of emotional extremes—either emotional volatility or emotional cold war— that threaten to separate rather than unite. In our own lives and in the lives of those we minister to, it is important to learn how to enter into and express emotion in a way that fosters a God-honoring clinging to one another.
A Walk with the Shepherd (Ed Welch)
We will close our conference by having both our emotions and imagination aroused. The terrain is familiar. It is Psalm 23. Our goal is to be brought into the psalmist’s walk rather than simply observe it.