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015 Interview with Brian Borgman {Transcript}

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About This Transcript

This interview was recorded live on-site at the 2016 IBCD Summer Institute entitled Disordered Desires: Bringing Grace to Modern Sexuality. Our guest is Brian Borgman from Grace Community Church in Minden Nevada. In this episode our host David Wojnicki and Brian Borgman discuss his book Feelings and Faith and how emotions play an important role when counseling. They also spend some time on Pastor Borgman’s other book, After They Are Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption, and discuss how to be compassionate to parents of adopted children. They finish the conversation with Brian expressing his desire for biblical counselors to be engaged in and equipped to address issues regarding same-sex attraction in love and gentleness.

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David Wojnicki:
Welcome to the IBCD Care and Discipleship Podcast. My name is David Wojnicki. I serve on the advisory board here at IBCD, I’m also privileged to serve as lead pastor at Valley Center Community Church. Here today as part of the summer institute that we’re doing I have my guest Pastor Brian Borgman. Brian so good to have you with us. Thanks for coming.

Brian Borgman:
It’s great to be with you guys.

David Wojnicki:
Let me give just a little background for those of you that might not be familiar with Brian, and correct me on any of this information if I’m not correct, but you serve as a pastor at Grace Community Church. You have done some of your work, earned a Master of Divinity from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and then your Doctorate at Westminster Seminary in California. Actually that was one of the first questions I wanted to ask you. What did you write on for your DMin project there at Westminster?

Brian Borgman:
I wrote on Albert Martin’s theology of preaching.

David Wojnicki:
For the layperson that hears that, what did you learn from that project that maybe you took in the ministry?

Brian Borgman:
I think it helped me immensely just because Al Martin, who of course has been at least in some circles a very influential preacher for decades, really learned preaching from, in a sense, the old masters of preaching so he had certain emphasis in teaching preaching to students that are greatly lacking in a lot of today’s homiletic type classes in seminary. We don’t typically think about the act of delivery, for instance, in preaching, so things like that. I really, really enjoyed it. I met Jim Newheiser there.

David Wojnicki:
Some of the connection that began and continues to this day. I want to talk in just a little bit about some of what you’re sharing here at the summer institute, but I want to begin with just a little bit of your own personal journey in your walk with the Lord. Tell us a little bit how the Lord drew you to Himself. Then maybe tell us a little bit about your family too.

Brian Borgman:
Sure.

David Wojnicki:
The wife and the children that God’s blessed you with.

Brian Borgman:
Sure. I was raised by two very loving parents who are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We were raised in a fairly good Catholic home. When I was about 12 I think, my mom came to faith in Christ. This was maybe about ’78,’79, right around in there. My dad soon followed suit. I thought they were going crazy. They were reading the Bible. As Catholics we didn’t really read the Bible, you just went to Mass. If you did it regularly and confession you were good.
They were reading the Bible and talking about Jesus. I was determined I would remain Catholic. God just crushed my heart and made me aware of my sin and I started reading the Bible. God really brought me to Himself through reading scripture and really changed my life. I lived my teenage years, I was about 13 when I came to Christ, lived my teenage years as a committed believer. Ended up going to public high school, growing up in Catholic schools of course, and just felt a real determination to be a witness for Christ and sensed a call to ministry, pursued that educationally.
In 1987 I married Ariel who is the love of my life. I loved the session earlier on friendship on fire kind of thing. I just have a terrific wife. We’re about ready to celebrate … some years of marriage.

David Wojnicki:
Not long enough right?

Brian Borgman:
Yeah. Not nearly long enough. I have a daughter, she is married to a outstanding Christian man whom we’ve known for years. Yeah. There was a great family connection. He’s a police officer and loves his job. They’ve given us three outstanding grandsons.

David Wojnicki:
Best part.

Brian Borgman:
Calvin Owen- yeah absolutely. If we’d have known grandkids were this much fun we’d have just skipped the whole kids part. Calvin Owen, he’s about two and a half and then we have twin grandsons.

David Wojnicki:
Oh wow.

Brian Borgman:
They’re just a ton of fun. They’re nine months old. Then I have two sons, Zach who is 23 or 24. His birthday’s coming up.

David Wojnicki:
Then it works. It works.

Brian Borgman:
It works. Then Alex who is 20. Love my boys and no matter how big they get, they both are way bigger than I am, but they’re still my little boys.

David Wojnicki:
Yeah. I know that family plays a significant part in your life and in your ministry and your partnership with your dear wife. Might have some time to talk a little bit more about those things. One of the things that I wanted to draw just even the listener’s attention to, you wrote a book a little while back on Feelings and Faith. Great book. I’ve appreciated reading it. Why don’t you tell us just a little bit about what led you to read that book and even the central theme of what it was that you felt like God was leading you to communicate in the writing of it?

I didn’t want to people becoming so academically enamored with theology that they, in a sense, neglected the emotions

Brian Borgman:
I’ll try to keep it short. I forget what year it was, but our church is, I would say, very doctrinally minded, very theologically minded and one of the things that I didn’t want to see happen in our congregation was people becoming so academically enamored with theology that they, in a sense, neglected the emotions, which I had been convinced that the Lord Jesus, perfect humanity, of course displays the full range of human emotions in the Gospels.

I set out to preach maybe two or three sermons on what the Bible says about the emotions and it turned into about 22 sermons. We had put those up on SermonAudio and to this day they are still the most listened to sermons that we have posted, especially things like on anxiety and depression and things like that.

In 2007 I had a severe back injury. I was laid up for about three months. Really what I started doing is just putting those sermons into manuscript form, reading on more things than I had time to in the sermon prep. Crossway showed some interest in the book.
I think that it ends up being a helpful counseling book simply because it deals with the role of the emotions in the human constitution in terms of what we are. So many times we think that the emotions are irrelevant or could be relegated to the caboose, so to speak.
Yet I think that they’re far more significant. We basically talk about how to cultivate Godly emotions, how to mortify, or put to death, ungodly emotions. God has used it and I’m thankful in retrospect for back surgery, but I wasn’t at the time probably.

David Wojnicki:
Yeah.

Brian Borgman:
Yes.

David Wojnicki:
In the realm of biblical counseling we find that people come and they’ll sit across from us and emotions are very much on the forefront of at least people’s dispositions if you will. What is some of the encouragement or counsel that you would give to somebody who’s a biblical counselor who is potentially dealing with somebody who’s in an emotionally charged situation? What are the things that you’d say hey be aware of this, be cautious of this? Is there some practical insights that you might give just right off the top of your head?

Brian Borgman:
Yeah. I would say that as a biblical counselor, one, we can’t afford to ignore the way people end up feeling. Whether you’re dealing with somebody that needs to forgive somebody or you’re dealing with a person that has uncontrolled anger, the fact is that the emotions play a significant role. You have to be aware not just of faulty thinking patterns or sinful behavior patterns, but how are the emotions at play here? Are they driving the person, which is often the case.

I would say then secondly that we need to be very much aware of the relationship between the way that we think and the way that we feel. At least in my perspective, one of the burdens of biblical counseling is to get people thinking biblically which in turn, I think, helps realign their emotions.

David Wojnicki:
Excellent.

Brian Borgman:
We can’t just tell people you’re emotions don’t matter. I think it’s a terrible thing to tell people that God doesn’t care about how you feel, He just wants you to do the right thing.

David Wojnicki:
Sure.

Brian Borgman:
I think Paul actually nullifies that theory in 1 Corinthians 13. You can do all the right things, but if you don’t have love, which is more than emotion, but it’s never less, then it amounts to nothing. You can’t say to your wife I love you but I don’t really feel anything for you.
Trying to help people get those things together, the fact that you can have a renewed mind, which actually helps renew your affections in the right direction, is an important part.

You can’t say to your wife I love you but I don’t really feel anything for you.

David Wojnicki:
I appreciate hearing that because there is a tendency to want to downplay emotions or to say we can’t really do anything until we get the emotions in check, but I often find that when I’m counseling an individual, I like to tell them that look emotions they’re God given and they’re an indication that something is going on.

Brian Borgman:
Yes.

David Wojnicki:
Let’s utilize God’s word to point us in that direction. What needs to be addressed here? That word I think that you spoke there, that’s important for counselors to know and to be aware of. You’re in one of those positions where not only God has given you the opportunity to do significant counseling, you also have this role of pastor, which absolutely includes biblical counseling. How have you seen the training that you’ve gotten in the realm of biblical counseling impacted you in the pastoral ministry, one, and then how have you seen just the pastoral ministry helping to inform maybe how you reach out to those who have counseling needs?

I guess what I’m saying is have you seen the street go both ways? That your biblical counseling training is helping you in the pastoral ministry and then being a pastor has helped you to minister in a biblical counseling realm as well.

Brian Borgman:
Yeah. When I went to seminary for my MDiv, I didn’t get training in biblical counseling, it was much of an integrationist approach. Guy was a very nice man, but I started reading Jay Adams on my own.

David Wojnicki:
Sure.

Brian Borgman:
Which of course provoked the ire of some.

David Wojnicki:
Why are you doing that?

Brian Borgman:
Exactly. You’re going to end up being a really mean person if you keep reading that book. To me it just made sense because it was based on the sufficiency of scripture. That just led me down a path of my own. When we finally got to Nevada, I end up meeting Jim coming to IBCD, continuing to read the books that I thought were helping me. There’s really nothing that is better for you than to know that you’re dealing with a person who has X, Y, and Z problems and then calling Jim and saying, what should I read on this, or do you have a resource, and just immersing yourself that way.

I think that in the context of our own church, what we have seen is not only people in our own congregation utilizing me and our other elders and some very gifted women in our church, many of whom have taken advantage of training like IBCD, but also people outside of our church start to hear, they do biblical counseling there. You end up getting people that are just hungry to hear how God would address the issues of their own hearts.

One thing I would add, because we do in adult Sunday School, we do the Care and Discipleship program.

David Wojnicki:
Yeah. Great.

Brian Borgman:
Years ago, probably about maybe ’98, ’99, we actually had Jim come and do a series of biblical counseling seminars, sort of like an intro class. What I wanted to do is I wanted to instill in our congregation, even back then, which is now quite a few years ago, the idea that Jay Adams thing, you are, as God’s people, you are competent, you are equipped to counsel. If you have the spirit of God and you know the word of God, you can help each other. That’s been, I think, just a great blessing to our congregation.

David Wojnicki:
Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

Brian Borgman:
Exactly. I’ve read that somewhere and it’s so true.

David Wojnicki:
Somewhere. It sounds good. It’s some guy named Paul maybe. You talk about often when I’ve heard you speak, just some of your own life experiences, which I think is always wonderful not just pastorally, with your own family. One of the things that I know you’ve additionally written on, not just Feelings and Faith, but the issue of adoption and caring for those who are going through adoption or who have adopted. That’s something that’s close to my heart having an adopted child as well.

Share with us just a little bit, and maybe not just so much about what you wrote there in the book, but share with just those who are biblical counselors or pastors, what would you encourage them to be aware of for those in their congregation or those who might come to them because they’ve adopted children and there’s potential struggles that have come about. It’s a unique situation bringing a child into your home. What would you say, gosh if I could just sit down and only had a few minutes to share with somebody that’s going to be put into that situation one day of ministering to a family who’s adopted, what would you want to say to them?

Some of the most harmful things that I’ve ever read about adoption happen to be in really good books on adoption.

Brian Borgman:
I think that the very first thing that comes to my mind is if adoptive parents come to you, listen to what they have to say and realize that their struggles are real. They’re not just whining, they’re not just complaining, they’re not just bemoaning the fact that they didn’t get the perfect kid. Adoption has a dynamic that is unique. Some of the most harmful things that I’ve ever read about adoption happen to be in really good books on adoption. Just little things where it’s not a syndrome, it’s just sin and they’re just like any other kid. The fact is that there are issues that many, not all, but many adopted children deal with that make parenting them different than parenting your biological children.

Typically adoptive parents will feel guilty that maybe their affections are not as strong, especially if they’re going through hard times, as it is for their own children, their biological children. The fact is is that they’re dealing with all kinds of things, often times even secret shame for the way that they feel, so be compassionate because they’ve done something that is very, very much a demonstration of the gospel and they need grace to help them.

Just adding guilt onto guilt they’re going to go away discouraged and not want to talk to anybody. Listen and be compassionate and realize that they’re in a situation where they may have a child that doesn’t have the natural affection that maybe their biological children may have.
When I used to read about things like Reactive Attachment Disorder, let alone things that are physiological, like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I used to think whatever, they’re just kids. The fact is that those things have an incredible impact on that child’s mind and heart and sometimes creates incredible and difficult barriers for adoptive parents.

David Wojnicki:
For those that might be listening, the title of the book that you wrote on that, After They’re Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption, I really would recommend that to anybody who’s a biblical counselor just to have on their shelf for those situations as they might arise. I’m really grateful for that book myself and just what it communicates. I do commend that for anybody who might find themselves ministering in that way.

Let me just close with this, our time here, one additional question. The whole title of the conference that we’ve been doing here is Disordered Desires. You’ve had a couple of opportunities to speak. In the sessions that you’ve had, as you’ve come here, what’s one of the things, maybe two of the things that have been in your heart to want to communicate in the seminars that you’re speaking at, a message that you’re hoping to get across?

As biblical counselors we have to be equipped to know where people are coming from, how they think, how they think about Romans 1, how they think about Genesis 19, how they think about what the Bible says about homosexuality and same sex relationship.

Brian Borgman:
Yeah. To be honest with you, this conference more than any of the other institutes that I’ve been involved with, to me has been the most daunting because the subject of course is incredibly relevant, increasingly so every single day and yet incredibly challenging for us to deal with. I think that for me, because of some physical limitations, I did two workshops, normally I have a little fuller load, but I was thankful for the reprieve.

I guess there are two parts and they both relate to the workshops I did. One is the way that the Bible deals with human sexuality, that it is an incredible gift from God, but it is to be used within the boundaries that He sets. Once we begin to abuse that gift, the consequences are just deadly. Of course there’s always grace, there’s always God’s love and forgiveness through Christ, but the Bible gives us the warnings that it gives us so that we don’t go through that pain and misery for ourselves and for others.

The other part is in a sense apologetic, wanting to equip the church to understand, especially in terms of those so called evangelicals that want to advocate for same sex marriage, same sex relationships, same sex attraction, and actually deal with what their arguments are so that as biblical counselors-

I have no doubt we’re going to be encountering people that are more and more familiar with those arguments as they come in for counseling. As biblical counselors we have to be equipped to know where people are coming from, how they think, how they think about Romans 1, how they think about Genesis 19, how they think about what the Bible says about homosexuality and same sex relationship.

If we’re not equipped in those areas so that we know where they’re going to be coming from we may end up getting blindsided because we’ve never thought through the issues because we’ve just simply thought to ourselves this is what the Bible says, this is what the Bible means, that’s all I need to know.

David Wojnicki:
Sure.

Brian Borgman:
That’s my burden for what I’ve been doing.

David Wojnicki:
Grateful that, one, that God’s given you that burden but he’s also given you the means to communicate that and do it so clearly and so well. Thank you for coming this weekend, thanks for being a part of this giving your time to do that, to serve the church in its broader context, and so grateful for you and for your ministry. Thanks for being apart of this Brian, we appreciate it.

Brian Borgman:
Thank you David, very much.

David Wojnicki:
God bless you.

Brian Borgman:
Thank you.

David Wojnicki:
Thank you.