Rick Thomas has a unique voice in the global community. A voice that has been shaped by two distinct influences: uncommon tragedy and unmerited favor.
I was the fourth of five boys–all born before my mother’s twenty-third birthday. My father began drinking alcohol when he was twenty-one years old and never stopped until he died at the age of forty-two. I was just nineteen years old at the time.
I have no idea what a normal father is supposed to be like. Mine was a mean drunk who cursed and beat us throughout our childhood. Our main goals were to endure and escape.
“My father was a mean drunk who cursed and beat us.”
Drugs and Alcohol
The words fast and hard defined my upbringing, probably because by the time I was twelve I was shoplifting, drinking alcohol, and smoking weed. Three years later, I found myself in jail, which later turned into two years of probation.
Going to jail was one of the major turning points of my life. It was a wakeup call. My two older brothers were already in prison, which was a clear warning that I was heading their way. What I didn’t know was how their lives would abruptly end. My oldest brother was murdered in 1987 and the next oldest was murdered ten years later in 1997.
What I did know was that I had to change my lifestyle. That was the moment I decided to clean up my act. Since I did not know the LORD, the best thing I could do was self-reformation (Proverbs 14:12). So I reformed. Jail time was one of the many blessings the LORD employed to put me on the road to change (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Four years later, my father died. The next year, I married a co-worker, embarking on my dream to have a different kind of life from my childhood. At first this worked. My wife, daughter, and son were my joy. It was a good life, but I continued to perceive something was missing. I sensed a deep void in my soul. Though self-reformation was helpful, it was not satisfying.
By 1984 I was working in a machine shop where someone told me about Christ. Though I had known about God, because I had been made to attend church as a child, religion was not appealing to me. Frankly, church was just a good place to get some good weed.
“I sensed a deep void in my soul.”
But then the Lord imposed Himself on my life. I was regenerated. This life-altering event solved the perplexing riddle of my soul and set in motion the call of God, which has since defined my life.
I began to fall in love with the Bible (Psalm 119:16). It became my constant companion. Within a year of attending my new church, I was teaching Sunday school, working with the youth, singing in the choir, and doing evangelism work in my small community of Monroe, North Carolina.
In 1986 I moved the family 135 miles south to Greenville, South Carolina, to attend a Bible college. I was determined to follow God and pursue formal training for ministry. But our plans are not always God’s (Isaiah 55:8-9). What I didn’t perceive was yet another life-altering event–one that would most dramatically shape me to the ministry the LORD had already prepared for me (Jeremiah 1:5).
It was April 08, 1988–nearing the end of my sophomore year in Bible college–when I walked in the door of our home and saw the piano was missing. As I desperately ran through the house, it became apparent what had happened. My wife had chosen her adulterous lifestyle and taken our two children with her. It was the single most horrifying experience of my life. Within fifteen hours I lost 10 pounds–and that was just the beginning of sorrows.
I lived the next nine years in isolated desperation. Alienated from my legalistic church community, I realized that every dream I dreamed for a life with a normal family experience was shattered.
During this season I was physically and spiritually shaped by the mighty hand of God on how to live in the crucible of suffering. I went to college to become educated in the Bible. I was driven into the wilderness to become educated about God. (cf. Mark 1:12-13)
“Within 15 hours, I lost 10 pounds–and that was just the beginning of sorrows.”
Out of the Depths
It would take me twenty-five years before I could write about the experiences of those dark days. For four years, I read and re-read the book of Job. I knew the end of the story–how the Lord re-blessed Job (Job 42:10), and I desperately wanted to experience this from God.
The problem was the 41 chapters before Job’s release from captivity. Apart from salvation, this season of my life was the most transformative of all. I was resigned to a season that would never end. This assumption added to the pain, which was all-encompassing and beyond anything I had ever experienced.
But during those years, the Lord taught me many things, motivating me to write the small book, “How to steward God’s most feared blessing” hoping that the Spirit of God would use His work in my life to comfort others in some small way (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Unmerited Suffering Brings Uncommon Grace
Although I didn’t recognize it immediately, my uncommon suffering and God’s unmerited favor were the perfect ingredients to do a vessel-using work in my life (Philippians 2:12-13). All of those things were working together for my good, God’s glory, and the benefit of others (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).
The LORD has unrelentingly bestowed His two most profound gifts on me—the gift of salvation and the gift of suffering (Luke 9:23; John 12:24; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 2:21), and my desire is to serve Him by creating biblical resources for others who are hurting and by providing training and consulting for those who want to help others.
My passion to share the
life-changing message of the Gospel
was born out of a broken heart,
restored by God
and redeemed for His fame.
To inspire and equip each person by providing practical tools and ongoing training for more effective living.
|Jessica Rosenbaum (Cleveland, OH) is passionately committed to the body of Christ. She has served in the children’s ministry at her local church for 8 years. She loves discipleship and counseling and is currently serving as a youth leader for her church as well as leading a ladies bible study from her home.Her love for theology applied to life has led her to study Biblical Counseling at Trinity Bible College and to become certified with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. She serves as our world-class Administrative Assistant.|
|Lucia Thomas (Greenville, SC) was born and reared in Erie, PA. She moved to Greenville, SC in 1987 with her family so she could attend Bob Jones University. She finished in 1991 with a BA in Office Administration. She worked 10 years at the Flour Corporation in Greenville until her first child was born in 2001. She served as a top-notch Administrative Assistant to top-level executives at Flour Corp. After her daughter was born, she says, “I went from power lunches to poopy diapers.”A transition she made flawlessly. She continues to rock and run Rick’s world. Her God-gifting has been put to broader use as she manages The Counseling Solutions Group, Inc., trains three home school kids, and governs the Thomas household.|
|Mark Grant (Mullica Hill, NJ) was raised in Columbus, Ohio and obtained his B.S and M.S in Mechanical Engineering from the Ohio State University. During the day, he works for the Navy as a civilian engineer. With his own marriage healed from finding Christ, he has had a passion to help others apply the Gospel to everyday life. He was introduced to Biblical Counseling while attending a NANC conference 7 years ago. Mark recently completed Rick’s Distance Education program and serves his local church and other Christians in the area as a lay counselor. He is married to Lesa and they are the proud parents of a 13-year-old daughter. Mark serves in our Member Services department as our Forum Director as well as one of our counselors.|
|Sara LaPage (Greenville, SC) is originally from Seattle, Washington, but she spent most of her childhood in New England. She moved to the Greenville area to attend college and has been here ever since. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Counseling at Bob Jones University. Sara has been certified in the counseling field. Sara taught for seven years before the birth of her first child in 2012. She’s excited to be home now with Adela and working as the 1st & 2nd Grade Area Coordinator at Fellowship Greenville. She is passionate about helping children to grow up to be discerning followers of Jesus Christ.|
|Tracy Keen (Oak Harbor, WA) is the grateful wife of US Air Force Officer Carlton Keen. She is also the mother to her four boys, one who is already with Christ. Just to make life as a military family even more interesting, Tracy and Carlton hope to soon welcome two daughters to their family through adoption. Home for the Keen family is wherever the Military sends them and they have had the privilege of being stationed in some beautiful parts of the US and overseas.After completing a B.A. from the University of West Florida in Public Relations, Tracy attended the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and obtained her M.Div in Christian Thought. She serves as our keen-eyed editor.|
Meet Our Guest Writers
If you are interested in ongoing coaching and training please click one of the links below. We offer individual and group levels with recurring billing to fit your lifestyle. Come and join our team.
We believe that although the Gospel speaks to all areas of our lives, many Christians are unaware of how to connect the Gospel to what they do on a day-to-day basis. Our aim is to serve the worldwide body of Christ by helping them see and make those “Gospel connections” in real, practical, and specific ways.
We believe the best place, outside of the home, for transformation to take place is within the context of a local church. Although we are a para-church organization, we maintain a high view of the local church and encourage all the people we serve to be actively involved in the ministry of a local church in order to mature and progress in their sanctification.
We believe if people are able to apply the Gospel to their lives, while contextualized in a Christ-centered local church, they will then be able to love God and their neighbor in even greater ways (Matthew 22:36-40).
We are a highly skilled organization whose sole purpose is summarized in this statement:
Our purpose is accomplished by training people to bring real and practical help to those in need, regardless of where they live in the world, with the long-term goal of pointing these individuals back to a local church where they can continue to grow in their sanctification.
We are a training organization that seeks to train Christians so they can help those in need. Through seminars, one-to-one training sessions, and the use of modern technology, we are reaching new levels of advancement in the area of Christian discipleship and soul-care.
Our Core Values will help you understand the heart of our mission, as it pertains to our theology and practice. The first grouping of values layout for you our understanding of theological doctrine. The second grouping of values present to you our view of Christian counseling.
Our Statement of Faith
The following is a brief summary of the doctrinal core beliefs of The Counseling Solution Group. It is not an exhaustive statement, but a framework to give you a point of reference regarding our beliefs about God and those who live in His world:
About the Bible: We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore, is the true center of the Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct and beliefs should be judged.
About God: We believe the One and only true God is triune; He exists as three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; all three are eternally equal in nature, attributes and perfection and as such are equally worthy of our worship, love and obedience.
About Man: We believe man was created in the image of God, but because of man’s fall into sin, this image is marred, his nature depraved, and he is separated from God and thus, can be said to be spiritually dead.
About Jesus Christ:
- His birth: We believe Jesus of Nazareth was conceived of the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary and Jesus received a human body and a sinless human nature.
- His life: We believe Jesus Christ experienced all the normal temptations of human existence, yet was without sin. We believe He showed Himself to be the Messiah of Israel and the divine Son of God by His teachings and His miracles.
- His death: We believe when Jesus Christ died on the cross, He provided the substitutionary, vicarious atonement for man’s sin.
- His resurrection: We believe Jesus Christ arose physically and bodily from the grave after being dead for three days.
- His return: We believe in the visible and personal return of Jesus Christ.
About Salvation: We believe salvation is by grace, plus nothing and minus nothing. The conditions to salvation are repentance and faith, which are granted by God as a part of His divine kindness to those whom he chooses.
About the Local Church: We believe the local church is God’s primary instrument for His work today; that every believer should be an active member in a local assembly, supporting its worship, ministry, fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism by his/her time, talents and offerings. The ordinances of the local church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and belong exclusively to the local church.
About the Eternal State: We believe in the everlasting conscious blessedness of the saved and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. –Rom. 12:1-2.
A Christian counseling ministry is unique in mending relational and/or situational difficulties in which people are exposed. The unique components of a Christian counseling ministry are set apart from secular or integrated models by the following ways:
- We recognize the essential workings of the mercies of God in the life of the believer. The most important of these workings is salvation through Jesus Christ—what fellowship has light with darkness? –2 Cor. 6:14c.
- We believe these mercies God gives to a believer refers to the promise Jesus makes to send the Comforter, Who ministers to us as well as teaches us in our sanctification. (See Jn. 16:7-13)
- We strive to help the believer to think and live a lifestyle acceptable to God. We do this by helping him/her recognize a proper view of God and how that view should manifest itself as we grow in knowledge, confess our sins, repent, seek forgiveness, and put on Christ. A proper view of God will, among other things, facilitate His desire for us to be conformed to the image of Christ. The secular approach strives to show their counselees a void of sin while becoming conformed to an image of self.
- We believe lives can be transformed by the renewing of the mind. We believe first, because God tells us so and second because of what we have witnessed in our own lives and the lives of others.
- We believe God uses Christian counseling to help prove what the will of God is. We believe Scripture shows us that the will of God is always good, acceptable and perfect.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. –Col. 2:8-10
The essential core value of a Christian counseling ministry is Jesus Christ and the teachings of Scripture. This value is contrary to the philosophy and traditions of secular counseling which are based on some very specific principles:
- Man is his own god; therefore, man is the source of his own answers.
- There is no God—at best a higher power.
- There are no absolutes.
- Guilt is not real, merely a feeling, which has been projected by the out-of-date mores of the church.
- The self-actualized, self-gratifying person is the desired result of counseling.
There are other views, but these will suffice to demonstrate the difference between secular and Christian counseling. Our answers to the secular on these points are the following:
- Man is a sinner in need of a Savior and, as such, is powerless to initiate or implement a complete, life-changing direction on his own. –Rom. 3:10-12, 23, 5:5-8; Eph. 2:8-10
- There is a God—the God revealed in the Bible, Who, in His manifestations as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, can create complete, life changing directions in a person’s life. –Gen. 1:1, 26-27, 2:7; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Tim. 1:12-17
- God, in His grace and mercy, has established certain absolutes, which guide us in our walk in this life. –Ex. 20:2; Jn. 3:16, 14:6; 1 Jn. 1:7-10; Gal. 6:7
- Guilt is a real entity, experienced when we sin against God and/or our fellow man. It can only be eliminated by humble confession, repentance, and by seeking restoration of fellowship with God and/or our fellow man. –Rom. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 7:8-10; Jas. 4:10; 1 Jn. 1:9
- The desired result of Christian counseling is to see the individual live a life conformed to the image of Christ. –Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:22-24; 2 Cor. 3:18
We also accept donations to our ministry if you’d like to give something.
-  David G. Benner & Peter C. Hill, Ed., Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), pp 792-794. All Scripture references from the English Standard Version (ESV) ↩