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The Lord regenerated Lucia when she was a kid–under ten. I don’t recall the age, but it was while she was young. She was part of the “fundamentalist movement,” which is a rigid, rule-based, non-transparent, fear-based culture. I’m not saying all fundamentalists are that way since I don’t know all of them, but this was her experience.
She learned to “serve God by rote,” which turned more into religion than a relationship with her Creator. This outcome did not mean God did not regenerate her, but it was a significant shaping influence that hurt how she lived out her faith, which was passionless.
After we married in 1997, we left the fundamentalist movement (for a lot of reasons, not just their rule-based, fear-based practices). We did not know where we were going, but we did know what we were leaving.
In God’s kind providence, He led us to a more “gospel-centric” community, which was the context for the article that you read. The short answer is that she was a Christian for about 25 years before her “van experience.”
And the van experience was not an epiphany as much as it was the accumulative effect of saturating her soul with gospel-centered companions, e.g., preaching, studying, music, and relationships. One of the more significant books was from Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life.
Above all those things was how we began to relate to each other within our marriage. The effect a gospel-centered marriage has on a person’s soul cannot be understated. You could say that her “companions” changed, which affected her soul.
A better question for you would not be so much about certification, but do you want to experience Christian training? Do you want training in discipleship, sanctification, or how to be a better Christian?
Of course, the answer to that question is an absolute yes, and I commend you for that fantastic desire. All Christians should pursue training, equipping, discipleship, and sanctification. It’s how we can more effectively fulfill the great commission.
Without equipping, you can’t help yourself or others, which will hinder your missional initiatives and objectives.
The question then becomes what kind of training do you want? Some folks start with Bible studies, which are critical. Others do Bible studies all their lives, which are not bad necessarily. Then others want to go beyond Bible studies by learning how to apply all that knowledge gained through studying the Bible.
And how to “apply” the Bible is more along the line of the question you’re asking. For me, it’s both Bible study and Bible application. You want to get the knowledge, and it’s vital that you learn how to apply it practically.
If a certification program can do that for you, go for it. That would be great. But please know that you’ll be in a “training program” all your life, or let me say it this way: you better be equipping yourself all your life, until you see Jesus!
All Christians should be in training all the time. Those who take our mastermind course, for example, do not receive all the training they need when they complete the program. Our curriculum is only “part” of what they should be doing all their lives.
I’m still in training too and have been in training for over thirty years now. When I finish one thing, I move to the next thing, always learning, ever growing.
A certification program could be perfect for you. I do not know, of course. You don’t have to think of it like you’re going to be a counselor. Look at it like you’re submitting to a training program to be a better Christian, which includes a better discipler.
As I said in the podcast, we do not tell any of our students that they will be “counselors,” in the sense that we understand a counselor, i.e., qualified in a formal sense to help “clients” in a professional setting.
Not every student has that kind of high-end capacity, but they do receive training according to how God has gifted them. Think of it like a “cup” that you fill. Each cup is a different size. Our training is a means to fill up that cup, according to the capacity of the cup, though I would never suggest at the beginning of their training that they can do professional counseling.
Fundamental Idea: Every Timothy needs a Paul. Find your Paul, and hitch your wagon to him (or her) and get yourself some training so you can be all that God intends. And when you finish that season of equipping, you get some more.