Upcoming Article in Albanian Christian Magazine

"Ilira Reviste" - the only Christian Women's
Magazine in Albania
I am very pleased to share with you that I have been accepted as a contributing writer to Albania's first magazine for Christian women! Recently, I contacted the editor-in-chief of "Ilira Revista", which publishes 5 issues a year, and discussed some of the articles I have written for various Christian media. Since I am a regular contributor to The Biblical Coalition's blog, and have published "Redeemed from the Pit" with Calvary Press two years ago, Migena was most interested in my submitting an article on eating disorders.

Needless to say, I was very happy to write about hope and healing from anorexia and bulimia, which have become very wide-spread in Eastern Europe. (Two years ago, when I first went to Albania on a missions trip, I was shocked to learn from teenage girls that eating disorders were rampant in their country. As a kid growing up at the end of the Cold War, I remember when Albania was still a Third World country!)

"Ilira Reviste" will translate my 1,500 word article into Albanian, and when it is published I will feature it here (along with the English-language original, of course!) I am thrilled that the Lord has allowed me this opportunity, and that someone in Albania may be blessed or encouraged to turn away from her bulimia by something I write. Since I am in the process of trying to get "RFTP" translated and published in Albania, the editor's choice of subject matter is particularly timely.

This opportunity comes on the heels of a bigger event: biblical counseling is making headway in Albania. There are a couple of NANC-certified counselors who have ministered there for several years, Sue and Blair Alvidrez who, along with the pastor of Grace Church in Tirana, were instrumental in bringing NANC fellows Timothy Pasma and Brad Brandt to Albania. This team led a several-week-long biblical counseling conference in different cities in Albania, including Tirana, Korce, and Durres. They brought the training to a number of churches, as well as preaching. It is great to see local churches equipped with nouthetic principles. Having been there twice, and with so many dear friends in Albania, naturally I followed Pastor Tim's updates and details on the training with great interest, delight.....and a little envy! Thanks to the Alvidrezes, two Tirana pastors and missionaries from Grace Baptist,  the Biblical Counseling Coalition now has an Albanian branch - Koalicioni i Këshillimit Biblik Shqiptar.

Candid confession: I wish I were still there! I have dreams about Tepelena and Bunec at least three times a month. I miss my young friends there so much it brings me to tears sometimes, and my joy at seeing biblical counseling brought to my beloved Shqiperia was mingled with a deep desire to be somehow involved.

And thus, I write. And God opened a door. I cannot move my family to Albania; I cannot even afford to go there as often as I'd like. In fact, I cannot even speak Albanian! (Bulgarian, despite the two countries' geographic proximity, is a completely different language family.) But I can write. This is the gift God gave me, and He is gracious to open doors - even in Albania -  in order to use it for His glory.

And I am so thankful.

Zoti ju bekofte!! (God bless you!)


List of Biblical Counselors and Residential Facilities (from BCC)

Quite often, women who e-mail me from different parts of the country or world ask about biblical counselors in their area. Until now, I have only been aware of the NANC directory, which lists counselors certified with their organization. However, there are a number of great biblical counseling organizations and now Bob Kelleman of the Biblical Counseling Coalition has compiled a list of their individual directories. This is extremely helpful for anyone seeking help in a specific geographic area!

I am also asked regularly about Christian inpatient centers I would recommend, and thus far I have only been aware of Vision of Hope (affiliated with Faith Baptist Church in Indiana). Please note that the term "inpatient" is somewhat misleading, as none of these centers provide medical treatment. It is more accurate to call them "residential facilities" which offer biblical counseling. (Please see the original posting at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website, linked below).

Find a Biblical Counselor

Finding a biblical counselor who will minister God’s truth to you in Christ’s love is important.

The BCC does not currently maintain a list of biblical counselors. However, we encourage you to visit the following biblical counseling organizations:

ABC maintains a list of vetted biblical counselors that you can find at The Biblical Counseling Network.
CCEF is working on a list of vetted biblical counselors. To date you can contact their Intake Department to refer you to a counselor in your area: Intake@ccef.org.
IABC maintains a list of certified biblical counselors. Their list is searchable by states and includes 8 countries. You can visit it at Find a Counselor.
NANC maintains a list of NANC certified biblical counselors. Their list is searchable by zip code. You can visit it at Find a Counselor.
While the BCC knows that ABC, CCEF, IABC, and NANC work diligently to screen any ministry or individual in their list:

It is important for you to personally research the church, ministry, or individual listed.
If you search these recommended links and find a biblical counselor in your area, please exercise due diligence and contact them with pertinent questions.
The BCC’s Confessional Statement is a good starting place as you seek to find a qualified biblical counselor who is a good match for your convictions.
We also recommend the ABC’s document: Questions to Ask When Choosing a Counselor.
Biblical Counseling Residential/Inpatient Centers
Sometimes life’s struggles and our battle against besetting sins are so severe that finding an intensive residential/inpatient treatment center committed to biblical counseling is important.

While the BCC does not certify residential/inpatient centers, we have asked our BCC BOD and CB Members for a list of residential/inpatient centers that practice according to a biblical counseling philosophy.

Listed below are links to residential/inpatient treatment centers that self-identify as practicing according to a biblical counseling philosophy. The information is a self-description collated and summarized from their websites:

Christian Discipleship Center: The Christian Discipleship Center is a Bible-based recovery program for Native American Christians who want help and hope in overcoming addiction to alcohol and substance abuse. Their 90-day residential program offers sound spiritual principles for restoration, character rebuilding and life direction. Contact Information: Christian Discipleship Center, 24826 Road L, Cortez, CO 81321, 970-565-3290, cdc@fone.net.
Colony of Mercy: Colony of Mercy is a 120-day residential addiction recovery program for men. Men in the Colony of Mercy program participate in group and individual biblical counseling, Bible studies, work therapy, church-type services, and Scripture memory. Programs for the wives and children of the men in the Colony program are available as well. Contact Information: Colony of Mercy, 601 Route 530, Whiting, NJ 08759, 800-453-7942, victory@americaskeswick.org.
The Father’s Ranch Ministries: The Father’s Ranch Ministries is a nouthetic biblical counseling residential treatment center for women and teenage girls. It is a non-denominational, Christ-centered counseling ministry addressing issues related to sexual abuse, physical abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addiction, and unplanned pregnancies. Contact Information: The Father’s Ranch Ministries, PO Box 1352, Tonasket, WA 98855, 509-486-8888, info@thefathersranch.com.
His Steps Ministries: His Steps Ministries is a Christian discipleship program that reaches out to men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They believe that only through Christ can a permanent solution be found—one that restores the man’s heart, soul, and mind to allow him to love others and his family (Matthew 22:37-39). Contact Information: His Steps Ministries, 2011 Meadows Drive, Woodstock, GA 30188, 770-595-4294, timbrown@hisstepsministries.org.
The Mission House: The Mission House is a six-month residential program that believes that addiction is a worship disorder. They follow a Bible-based, Christ-centered transformation program designed to establish an intimate relationship with God through Christ. Contact Information: The Mission House, PMB 216, 3965 Bethel Rd., Ste. #1, Port Orchard, WA 98366, 360-871-4266. For email contact complete the contact form here: http://www.faithmissionhouse.org/contact-us.
Pure Life Ministries: Pure Life Ministries exists to serve Christian individuals and organizations dealing with sexual sin throughout the world by providing biblically-based counseling, teaching resources, and a public speaking ministry with the goal of leading Christians to victory over sexual sin through a deeper life in God. The 7-to-9-month Live-In Program in rural Kentucky immerses men in a Christ-centered environment with biblical counseling and mutual accountability designed to promote lasting heart change. Contact Information: Pure Life Ministries, 14 School Street, Dry Ridge, KY 41035, 859-824-4444. For email contact complete the contact form here: http://purelifeministries.org/contact.
Twelve Stones: Sometimes circumstances in life become too hard to handle alone, or even in weekly counseling sessions. In an effort to provide real answers, lasting wisdom, and spiritual encouragement, Twelve Stones provides three-day intensives in a retreat atmosphere that is Christ-centered and carefully tailored to each individual situation. Contact Information: Twelve Stones Ministries, PO Box 223, Helmsburg, IN 47435, 812-597-1212, tsoffice@twelvestones.org.
Vision of Hope: Vision of Hope recognizes the worth and sanctity of human life by ministering to young women, children, and families in a Christ-centered environment. They offer a faith-based residential treatment program for girls age 14-28 struggling with unplanned pregnancy, alcohol or drug abuse, eating disorders, or self-harm. Contact Information: Vision of Hope, 5652 Mercy Way, Lafayette, IN 47905, 765-447-5900, voh@vohlafayette.org.
As with our Find a Counselor listing, so also with these residential/inpatient centers:

It is important for you to personally research the centers listed above.
Please exercise due diligence and contact them with pertinent questions.
The BCC’s Confessional Statement is a good starting place as you seek to find a qualified biblical counseling residential/inpatient center that matches your convictions.
We also recommend the ABC’s document: Questions to Ask When Choosing a Counselor.


What's Behind Immodesty, and Why Do We Glorify It? (my post on BCC)

This article originally ran on the Biblical Counseling Coalition blog. I encourage you to check out their treasure trove of other articles and resources as well!

The Seductive Lie of Immodesty, and Re-Claiming Your Identity in Christ

This is not another article on Matthew 5:28, hem lengths, or the horrors of uncovered shoulders. Today I’m writing more as the concerned mother of a teenage girl than as a biblical counselor. I want to take an unflinching look with young people of both sexes at the reality behind immodest dress; the desire to be desired; and where it can lead.

Sixteen-year-old “Vanya” was raised in a Christian family. A former AWANA protégé, she is a superb student and overall good-girl. When she started high school and began social networking, however, she noticed “sexier” girls wearing the fashions her parents forbid. She became dissatisfied with her own looks, associating beauty with short, tight, and low-cut.

On Facebook, pictures of teen girls with cleavage and entire legs showing would receive hundreds of “Likes” within hours. When Vanya posted pictures of herself fully-clothed, few people would “Like” them. She began to change her style….subtly at first; then more openly. Her makeup became heavier; her shirts more revealing; her jeans tighter…until her parents confronted her. Was this “love of fashion,” as she claimed, or a desire for male attention—at any cost?

Her “mature” look attracted the attention of 28-year old family friend George. Texts and phone calls turned romantic, all behind the backs of Vanya’s parents. She snuck out of the house to meet the man—for a long walk in the woods. When caught, she tearfully confessed, “He was the only guy who I could really talk to! He understood me and cared about me…we were going to wait until I was 18 and then get married!”

By the grace of God, Vanya’s parents discovered and stopped the situation before anything more serious happened, but Vanya was devastated. Vanya was seeking emotional intimacy and George seemed to provide it. (Whether George was seeking easy sex is open to speculation, but 28-year-old men do not seek emotional intimacy with 16-year-old girls.) Despite being raised in church by believing parents, Vanya was deceived by the lie that dressing and acting seductively will secure the kind of approval (and intimacy) she longed for.

Like all Christian mothers, I want my daughters to dress in a way that reflects love for Jesus. (This is a real challenge when current fashion involves wearing one’s underwear on the outside.) Wanting to avoid ‘legalism,’ I’ve often said that if we have the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us in purity, it is not necessary to carry a tape measure into the dressing room. Attempting to give some Christian liberty backfired in the name of “fashion” and “fitting in.” This battle for purity is one of the biggest reasons American evangelicals choose to homeschool, a choice I respect. However, my husband and I have decided to fight the battle by preparing our children to be on the front lines—living in this world, and ultimately responsible for their own choices.

As a woman who has counseled, parented, and evangelized teenage girls for years (on two continents), I can say with certainty that sensuality is the most common reason teenage girls who profess faith sometimes fall away. In simple terms, when they ‘count the cost’ of following Christ, they decide purity is too high. Of course, few would confess bluntly to such a decision, but the reality plays out in their lives. In school; with their friends; online—being seen as “sexy” becomes more important than being seen as a daughter of the King.

The natural, God-given desire to be beautiful and loved has been perverted, a cross-cultural phenomenon to which Christian girls are not immune. A British friend wrote, “There needs to be more teaching for the young people on honouring God in all areas of their life. There are some girls who are expressing faith, yet still wearing short dresses, striking provocative poses.”

Girls as young as 13 post pictures of themselves in dresses that cover no more than towels, sporting the infamous “duckface” pout (is that supposed to be sexy?). The social-media gamble for attention is a double-edged sword. Girls compete with one another to be the most “attractive” (equating sex appeal with beauty); guys pay attention and encourage. The same girls then jealously destroy each other’s reputations.

We cannot blame the media or ‘the world’ for the lure of immodesty, or for the lie that it promises love. The blame lies in our own sin-deceived hearts. While the world offers an evil and corrupt moral code, there is no getting around the fact that each one of us is responsible before God for our own sin (Ezekiel 18).

Young ladies, you were created to glorify God. You are made in His image. Your true beauty, which comes from your union with Him, is of great worth to your Heavenly Father (1 Peter 3:4). Stop objectifying yourselves and live out your position in Christ. Young men who truly love you will care far more about your holiness than the shape of your legs.

Young Christian men, 1 Timothy 5:2 applies to you whether you are involved in ministry or not. I am not going to lecture you on the dangers of lust; your pastors have already done that. Rather, I appeal to you as an older sister in Christ and a mother. Your Christian sisters are looking to you for approval, and they are just that—your sisters. Every time you hang a poster, wear a T-shirt, or “Like” a picture of an immodestly-dressed woman, you are celebrating impurity. You are also sending young women a dangerous message— their worth lies primarily in being physically attractive.

Stop it!

Tell them you value their friendship; appreciate their intelligence; admire their devotion to Christ. See the beauty in their smiles and the joy in their eyes; not the size of their chests or the daringly-short skirt.

Glorifying immodesty is a symptom of a deeper problem—the belief that sensuality attracts love; which will lead to lasting satisfaction. It reveals a heart that screams “Look at me!” rather than “Look to Jesus.” Ankle-length skirts and denim jumpers do not eliminate the heart issue of impurity, but embracing the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” is a good place to start.