ABC Conference in Review

I have always loved traveling. Airports. Rental Cars. Hotels. Restaurants. Conference Binders. Locally owned Coffee Shops. I love it all!

April 15-18 I attended the Association of Biblical Counselors  in Dallas, Texas. On this 4-day trip I discovered why I like traveling. I’ve never had anything go terribly wrong. Just to assure you of my personal safety, I am writing this blog from Iowa City, so I obviously made it back.

My troubles arose before even arriving at the airport as I learned my flight to Minneapolis from Cedar Rapids (yep Dallas via Minneapolis) was delayed 50 minutes. No big deal… except my layover in Minny was 42 minutes. I’m home learned, but that math doesn’t work. As soon as I arrived at my terminal I was informed I would now have a direct flight to Dallas…..that left in 3 hours. Now, I am thankful for the Eastern Iowa Airport, but if you have ever been there, you know that killing 3 hours there is like killing 3 hours in your General Practitioners waiting room.

Upon arriving in Dallas, I took the 5 mile bus ride (What?!?) to pick up my rental car. They denied my rental and refused me service. To make a long story short, don’t travel with an expired driver’s license. I found an agency to rent me a car (thank you budget rental) but for double the price.

By the time I arrived at my Hotel I was exhausted, tense and questioning my previously held views on traveling.

This was a perfect lead up for the conference. God in his sovereign plan, wanted me to feel like an outsider. (I always feel like an outsider in Texas, but that’s another post.) Feeling like an outsider, is not something I am used to. I’m white, in case you didn’t know. I’ve always been somewhere on the middle class spectrum. I’m a little tall but nothing noteworthy. I don’t have an accent of any kind. I have a good midwestern mix of street smarts yet am down to Earth. I’m used to fitting in.

As counselors, ministry workers, Christians or even as people who want to help other people, we interact with people who feel like outsiders. This conference in particular was about helping counselees with same-sex attraction or psychological diagnosis. Unfortunately, these are 2 groups of people who feel like outsiders in our churches and counseling rooms. The church, and unfortunately some in “Christian” counseling have stigmatized these groups and made them feel like worse sinners, or sufferers than the rest of us.

Paul Tripp leveled the room of 600 counselors, pastors, and disciplers when he stated the following:

“The issue of SSA has ripped the lid off the American Evangelical Church and shown that we do not believe the Gospel we proclaim. If you think someone struggling with SSA needs more of the gospel than you do, then you don’t believe the same Gospel the Bible teaches.”

In the same vein, I have heard him, and others, say, “The ground at the foot of the cross is level.” See, the Gospel levels the playing field, because it shows us we are all outsiders. None of us fit in on God’s team. Not only do we not have a role on his team, we don’t even deserve to be on his team. We can claim Christ, his love, and the power to change because of grace. If we do not communicate the Grace and Truth of the whole Gospel to those who are sinning, hurting, and broken, we will create an atmosphere of insiders and outsiders inside of our churches.

Let us remember the Gospel that has forever changed us and has the power to change lives!

Jason Blackley

@jasonblackley

Pastor – Grace Community | Downtown

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