Has Your Church Partnered with Us?

The local church is central to all that we do at Baylight Counseling. As a para-church ministry, we exist not to be served by the local church, but to serve by helping our counselees find true and lasting hope in the one who gave his life as a ransom for many, Jesus Christ.

Since 2013, we've been working to refine and make better our ministry services in order to effectively and efficiently serve the local church and her pastors as an adjunct partner for the care of their people. Today, we'd like to deepen those relationships by introducing a new effort: the Church Partnership Program.

Under this program, which will increase in size and scope as time passes, we desire to give to the churches we serve as much as we receive in overall support from them. The goal of this effort is to establish a network of local churches that are finding relief to the questions: Where do we send our people when they need extended counseling, and who can we trust to be faithful to the message of the Gospel?

We believe Baylight is the perfect resource to answer the counseling dilemma for the local church of Tampa Bay, and we invite pastors, elders, and deacons to consider this new opportunity to take a decisive and intentional step for faithful and trustworthy soul care.

In the future, we anticipate additional ministry offerings, to include equipping seminars focused upon common shepherding issues faced by pastors and small group leaders. Partnering churches will have access to these seminars t no additional cost to their church. In the meantime, partnering congregations will enjoy constant contact with us concerning their counseling cases, collaboration on difficult scenarios, and complimentary first sessions for their covenant members.

If you're a pastor who would like to learn more, or if you know a pastor who should know about this opportunity, please feel free to contact us. We'd love to meet with you in person to talk about how Baylight Counseling might become a valuable resource to your church and ministry.

Here's a letter to local pastors that also speaks to this exciting new ministry service (click on link): 

Read Dr. Willy Rice's (Calvary Church) endorsement of Baylight Counseling as a viable option for your church's counseling needs (click on link):

Yours in Christ,

Joshua Waulk, MA
Executive Director 
(727) 433-0682

Law, Gospel, and the Measure of Our Faith

The measure of the authenticity and efficacy of our faith is its object: Jesus Christ.

It is not the production of good works, in either intensity or volume, that saves a man or "transforms the culture,” an extra-biblical but common refrain of modern, “social justice” infused evangelicalism.

Salvation and transformation are categories uniquely under the power and will of the Holy Spirit, but you might not get that when listening to the “Just Do Something” culture of today. The need, contrary to the tone of many streams in evangelical culture today, is to let the fruit of our salvation be that and that alone, recognizing that it is God who is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

"These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences [emphasis added] of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life." Westminster Confession of Faith, 16.2

If we understand or preach or teach good works as anything other than a consequence of our justification and sanctification, we will invariably make them an instrument of our greater salvation. Here, we will fall into the error of neonomianism, that is, a new type of law (i.e. the production of good works) by which a person is made or remains right with God in addition to faith. This is the heart of the error by which so many in our day confuse law and gospel.

In counseling, I frequently encounter this confusion. It can be identified as a source of much emotional and spiritual angst experienced by believers, who can never know if they have produced an acceptable amount or intensity of good works, or, for that matter, if their efforts were directed at the proper cause (an arbitrary matter usually adjudicated by fellow believers who typically demand that the entire church walk in the same direction and pace as they do).

These believers have, whether of their own accord or through errant teaching, come to confess justification by faith alone, while holding to a subtle sanctification by faith and good works. When this happens, the gospel, that message of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, is at risk of being lost altogether.

The heart that has embraced neonomianism or that confuses law and gospel cannot rest in Christ because it is trusting in something other than, or in addition to the grace and promises of God. Here, the Christian life becomes a burden, rather than a joy, and that is no Christian life at all. Here, the yoke of slavery to law is taken up once more, and the only fruit is the bitterness of failure and inability.

How then can we know if we are at risk of these errors?

There would be the obvious testimony of our conscience, witnessing to us the reality that we have been holding to good works as an instrument of salvation, whether in justification or sanctification. A more subtle indication would be if in any of what has been said here is the thought or concern that the intended message is the degradation of good works.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

The desire has been to guide or nudge us back toward a proper understanding of the role and nature of good works. The more faithful our understanding of these matters to the teaching of Scripture, the more freedom, joy, and rest we will encounter in Christ, as he alone becomes and is our sole righteousness and hope.

“For the Law has its terminus, defining how far it is to go and what it is to achieve, namely, to terrify the impenitent with the wrath and displeasure of God and drive them to Christ. Likewise the Gospel has its unique office and function: to preach the forgiveness of sins to troubled consciences. Let doctrine then not be falsified, either by mingling these two into one, or by mistaking the one for the other. For the Law and the Gospel are indeed both God's word; but they are not the same kind of doctrine.” Martin Luther, 1532

Soul Care with Spurgeon: Sovereignty and Salvation

“The world likes a religion they cannot comprehend. But, have you never noticed how gloriously simple the Bible is?” Charles Spurgeon

We recently received an email at Baylight inquiring about counseling services. Not understanding the nature of our ministry, the person asked if we employed “EFT” or “Emotionally Focused Therapy.” EFT is one of the many hundreds, if not thousands of secular counseling theories that mental health therapists may choose to specialize in over-against all the others.

EFT was developed by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. It finds its roots in attachment theory, which states that “humans are hardwired for strong emotional bonds with others.” In EFT, emotional “disconnections” are considered to be one of the underlying issues whenever couples experience discord. Therefore, according to an article published at PsychCentral.com, “The aim of EFT is to help couples overcome these negative cycles, re-establish their connection, and strengthen their emotional bond.”

Taking care to not turn this article into a discussion of counseling theory, the inquiry reminded me of just how pervasive is the psychologizing of the church today. Our friend, in their email, explained that a Christian counselor elsewhere shared with them that EFT was a highly effective treatment option for couples counseling. Taking it upon expert advice, the person set out in good faith to find someone near them who could show them where to find this hope for their marriage.

To be sure, there are true observations made within the theory of Emotionally Focused Therapy. Human beings are indeed “hardwired” for relationships and community. Without question, emotional disconnect in a marriage will provide a foundation for relational dysfunction. To recognize these truths, and to then seek ways to bring healthy emotional bonds back into a marriage is a worthy goal.

But, armed with a biblical understanding of the issues, we understand that these goals, as stated, are not sufficient in and of themselves.

The purpose of marriage, as revealed in Scripture, is not to simply “get along well enough,” but to display the majesty of the Gospel for the glory of God. Within the confines of biblical marriage, husband and wife can learn about and experience together the substance of what it means to “glorify God and enjoy him forever” (WSC 1).

But, as two sinners who have entered into a lifelong covenant together, the biblical vision for marriage will not come so easy. There will be difficulty. The question is, to what or to whom will Christian couples look?

Look Unto God

This week’s edition of “Soul Care with Spurgeon” comes from a sermon that he preached on January 6, 1856, at New Park Street Chapel, in Southwark. The title of the sermon was “Sovereignty and Salvation.” Spurgeon’s text was Isaiah 45:22:

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

In this message, Spurgeon shared just a portion of his conversion story. It had been just six years prior, to the day and almost to the hour, that a teenaged Charles found himself taking refuge in the confines of a small Methodist church from a raging snow storm. Unbeknownst to him, Charles had a divine appointment with God that day, mediated through a country pastor preaching the word of God from the Isaiah passage mentioned above.

Charles recounted how he had been “in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” By the grace of God, he came to feel the “bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery.” In a moment, Spurgeon shared that the “grace of faith was vouchsafed to me.” The pastor, through the command given in Isaiah 45:22, had exhorted his audience, in general, and young Spurgeon, specifically, to “Look!” unto God.

This “looking unto God” because “he alone is God and beside him there is none other” was the thrust of the sermon. Repeatedly, and in various ways, he exhorted his audience to set aside the vanities and philosophies of man in favor of the wisdom of God. “Systems of infidelity pass away like a dew drop before the sun, for God says, ‘I am God, and besides me there is none else,’” Spurgeon warned.

Without question, Spurgeon would have included in these “systems of infidelity” today’s unending stream of psychological theories that attempt to understand and answer the problems of man apart from Scripture. I suspect he would have been incredulous at the thought of a professing believer directing another to look not at God for hope, but at a secular theory of humanity that knows nothing of the cross of Christ.

Spurgeon understood in this sermon that the Gospel, in its simplicity, was not lacking anything. But, in their unbelief, people were then and are now inclined to pursue what they consider to be scientific and even religious sophistication over a bloodied and crucified Savior. For this reason, Spurgeon risked simplicity in his message by exhorting those who were enslaved to sin and suffering to “Look unto God and be ye saved!” There is no stumbling, he said, when a man walks with his eyes turned up to Jesus.

A Simple Plea

Nothing in Spurgeon’s sermon or this post should be construed as suggesting that there is not hard work to be done in soul care, or in understanding how the heart and soul of man interacts with the physical body and brain. Good scientific research in the field of neuroscience is revealing more to us about the otherwise unseen interface between the body and the soul of man. It truly is an exciting time to be involved in psychology, the care and cure of souls.

Equally exciting, however, is the way in which nothing that has been or is being revealed in scientific research proves to be a threat of any kind to the Gospel. Instead, we see science repeatedly affirming what has already been proclaimed in Scripture.

For this reason, while actual, physical science marches on, we confidently echo the cry of Spurgeon in “Sovereignty and Salvation,” that those around us, “Look unto God, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for he is God, and there is none else.”

Soul Care with Spurgeon: Good Cheer for the New Year

London, 1866
“Anxiety is vigilance that is out of control. Anxiety is vigilance minus faith in God.”
Dr. Bob Kellemen

On the morning of January 6, 1867, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon that he titled, “Good Cheer for the New Year.” His text was Deuteronomy 11:12:

The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

Of the variety of issues with which Spurgeon dealt in this message, themes related to anxiety, worry, and fear were evidently on his mind. Spurgeon was masterful in preaching to his audience a message that was both true to his text, and useful in its presentation for their sanctification and growth in faith.

On this first Sunday of 1867, Spurgeon knew well that his church needed a clear reminder of the trustworthiness of the promises of God to His “elect ones,” especially when faced with the sufferings of life in Victorian London.

Fearing the Unknown

On the heels of the 1866 cholera epidemic that killed some 5,000 people, many of them children, Londoners, to include those in Spurgeon’s church, were no doubt on edge. Anxiety, worry, and fear would have been ever present temptations for even the strongest of believers. Perhaps, even the Prince of Preachers, himself.

Spurgeon did not preach in a vacuum. Not on this Sunday, anyway. Behind his congregation was a year marked by suffering, with just as many unknowns for the year that lay before them.

Spurgeon commented, “Last year was perhaps the gloomiest of our lives. All the newspaper summaries are like the prophetic roll which was written within and without with lamentations [emphasis added]. The year has gone, and everybody is glad to think that we have entered upon a new one; yet, who knows but what 1867 may be worse?”

Like Old Testament Israel of Deuteronomy 11, Spurgeon was calling his audience to trust in the covenant promises of God, even, or especially, when the circumstances of life seem to dictate otherwise. Spurgeon knew from Scripture, and desired to communicate to his church, that the Christian’s hope is not rooted in hopeful circumstances, but in the biblical truth that, “…the pillar of fire and cloud will never leave us.”

Onward Let Us Go

For many of us, 2016 has been marked by sufferings of its own. Loved ones have been lost. Marriages have regrettably ended in divorce. Sickness has come. Jobs have been lost. Addictions have been uncovered. These are but a smattering of life’s unwanted turns in the year which ends in just a few short hours from now.

Spurgeon preached to his audience after the turn of the New Year into 1867, but with the Bible in his hand and the Gospel in his heart, he exhorted his church to press on in faith. He said to them, and to us who now face the uncertainties of another New Year:

Well, brothers and sisters let it be what God chooses it shall be. Let it be what He appoints: for there is this comfort in the assurance that not a moment from this Sunday night on to December 31, 1867, shall be without the tender care of heaven; not even for a second will the Lord remove His eyes from any of His people.

Spurgeon’s message was not at all fatalistic. Fatalism assumes, among other things, an ambivalent god at least, or a malevolent god at worst. Rather, Spurgeon’s God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was a good and sovereign God, with whom Spurgeon would boldly proclaim, “…pain becomes pleasure, and dying beds are elevated into thrones, but without God—ah, what could we do?”

Filled with Faith

One of the many temptations faced by ancient Israel was to look back at their years in Egypt, and despite the hardships they endured, to cling to a preference for the difficulties that were known over the anxieties of trusting God with the unknown.

Spurgeon would have none of it for his church.

He reminded them that while the godly face many of the same afflictions as the ungodly, they “…come as a gracious Father’s appointments and they go at the bidding of loving wisdom.”

Spurgeon insightfully added, “By faith the godly man casts his care upon God who cares for him, and he walks without worrying care because he knows himself to be the child of heaven’s lovingkindness, for whom all things work together for good” [emphasis added].

Around the globe, 2016 has been a year marked by suffering. Both the godly and the ungodly have been struck with affliction. But, the difference in how these two people groups examine and interpret suffering can only be measured in the distance from east to west.

In suffering, the godly find meaning, purpose, and value, even if the circumstances are utterly unwelcome. But, for the ungodly, suffering is that which is to be avoided at all cost precisely because it is arbitrary and cold. In this we see why Scripture exhorts the Christian repeatedly to leave anxiety behind. It is utterly useless to them!

In 2017, we will no doubt see that trouble will arise. Spurgeon said, “You have your trials and troubles to come—do not expect you will be free from them. The devil is not dead, and sparks still fly upward.”

Despite this, we can, indeed we must as Spurgeon preached, “March on boldly!” from the beginning to the very end of the year. We have a spring which “never grows dry.” Why then, Spurgeon asked, "should the pitcher ever be empty?"

Join the Discussion

What trials did you face in 2016?

How did God prove Himself faithful to His word?

How do those facts encourage you away from anxiety, worry, and fear at the start of 2017?