Back in May, I met Bob after one of his sessions at the Association of Biblical Counselors conference. The title and topic of the book interested me - friendships, soul care (a term I've become more familiar with as I've worked with counselors) and the stories of women - so I agreed.
What’s the “big idea” behind Sacred Friendships? What would you like readers to take away from it?
Far too often we build our models of ministry by ignoring over half the Christian world—women. The big idea of Sacred Friendships is to give voice to the voiceless by celebrating the legacy of Christian women and by applying that legacy to our ministries today.
We want readers, men and women, to learn from godly women of the faith how to be powerful spiritual friends. Readers will be enriched by the powerful stories of the heroic sisters of the Spirit to apply proven ways to help people find healing hope in the midst of deep pain. They’ll be empowered to help people to find God’s grace for their sins and God’s strength for their journey.
Who should read Sacred Friendships?
I love this question. First, anyone who loves riveting stories of victory snatched from the jaws of defeat should read Sacred Friendships. Susan and I like to think of our roles as “story-tellers”—we share stories from the lives of over 50 remarkable Christian women. If you like a good, true story, read Sacred Friendships.
Second, people might assume that Sacred Friendships is a book only for women. Not true. Susan and I like to say that Sacred Friendships is a gift to women and a gift from women.
As a gift to women, Sacred Friendships puts to rest the lie of Satan that women in church history have been second-class spiritual citizens! Just one example: the famous Church Fathers were mentored by the lesser-known but incredibly gifted Church Mothers. Sacred Friendships encourages and empowers women to realize that as bearers of God’s image they have equal worth, dignity, value, and giftedness as men have. Women young and mature need the message told by these stories—because the world surely is not the place to turn for validation of worth in Christ.
As a gift from women, Sacred Friendships is for men and women—it’s for anyone who learns best by example. Men and women can read Sacred Friendships and glean life-changing skills to empathize with hurting people, to encouraging people with Christ’s sure hope, to exhort people by speaking the truth in love, and to equip people to tap into Christ’s resurrection power.
That question is vital to the main purpose of Sacred Friendships. Some books write about church history. A few focus on women in church history. Some highlight women counseling women. We took the daring and unique step of writing about the history of how women ministered personally to others, and then drawing implications for today. To do that, we followed a church history model of ministry.
In church history, there are four road map markers for what today we call “counseling.” They are known as sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding. These four themes become like compass points on a map guiding us toward biblical soul care and spiritual direction.
Sustaining is like modern-day empathy where we say to a hurting friend, “It’s normal to hurt.” I like to use the somewhat macabre analogy of climbing in a casket. When the Apostle Paul was hurting in 2 Corinthians 1:8, he spoke of such agony that he “despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” Far too often, as Christians we refuse to let people go there—we want to race them to healing before we join them in hurting. Our women forebears climbed in the casket.
Of course, we don’t want to remain in the casket! So healing is the next road map marker. Healing says, “It’s possible to hope.” I like to use the picture here of celebrating the empty tomb. Paul said it this way, “But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Healing moves with people from casket-like pain to resurrection power. It empowers people to move beyond the suffering to healing hope.
If sustaining and healing move us from hurt to hope, then reconciling and guiding offers us God’s grace for our disgrace. Some models of counseling only focus on suffering, others only on sin. True biblical counseling and historical soul care and spiritual direction focus on both. In reconciling we say, “It’s horrible to sin, but wonderful to be forgiven.” This is where confronting sin, repentance, forgiveness, and grace are all crucial. And the women of Sacred Friendships were not timid about confronting sin!
The final compass point is guiding. With guiding we say, “It’s supernatural to mature.” Here brothers and sisters in Christ help one another to apply Christ’s changeless truth to their changing times. It is the mutual application of biblical principles to daily life issues and relationships. The women of Sacred Friendships were exemplary mentors and we learn so much about spiritual direction from them.
I (Bob) can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A free sample chapter of Sacred Friendships is available at: http://bit.ly/1S1haj
And also can be found at: http://www.rpmbooks.org/documents/Sacred_Friend_Sample_Chapter.pdf
Sacred Friendships is on sale at 40% off for $12.99 at: http://bit.ly/MG1l5
Or simply by going to orders at: http://www.rpmministries.org/
People can also order at Susan’s new website: http://www.eternalcommunity.org/