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Calvary’s Biblical Counseling Master’s Degree Ranked in the Top 3 by “The Best Schools”

Calvary’s Biblical Counseling Master’s Degree Ranked in the Top 3 by “The Best Schools”

Calvary University has been ranked by, a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, as having one of the top 3 “Best Online Master’s in Biblical and Pastoral Counseling Programs.”

Calvary University’s Master of Biblical Counseling can be taken either on campus at Calvary’s Kansas City campus or at the Innovation Center in Colorado, or the program can be taken entirely online through Calvary’s blended model. Calvary’s counseling department is a reflection of the University’s commitment to the Bible as the core of every program.

The top 3 ranking is based on “the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.”

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Shelterwood Academy Visits Calvary University!

Shelterwood Academy Visits Calvary University!

The Biblical Counseling department has been busy this year pursuing and fostering relationships with organizations and associations that are committed to serving the church and the world according to the Biblical worldview. The Biblical counseling department was honored to have Shelterwood Academy in department chapel. Shelterwood Academy is a Bible-centered residential treatment facility that works with struggling young adults. Dr. Smith shared from Galatians 6:9-10 about how as believers we strive to do good to all people, especially those in the body of Christ, and how Shelterwood Academy has been a wonderful example of this truth. Kortney Levy Director of Recruiting for Shelterwood Academy (pictured on the right), and Tiffany Rensberger (pictured on the left), an alumna of Calvary University and Substance Abuse Counselor for Shelterwood Academy shared her personal stories of how she brings hope and truth to the young adults. In addition, they shared potential mentoring opportunities available for majors in the Biblical Counseling department. Dr. Smith expressed this relationship with Shelterwood Academy is vital to Calvary University and looks forward to continuing to minister alongside them to the glory of God.

Cookies Coffee & Counseling At Calvary University

Cookies Coffee & Counseling At Calvary University

The Biblical Counseling Department is hosting a Coffee, Cookies, and Counseling event! This event allows students to hear about topics and ask questions concerning issues related to counseling and how the Scriptures addresses these issues (all around coffee and cookies of course!). The panelist will be Kim Bailey who brings her experience as a licensed counselor and counsels from a biblical worldview and Dr. Luther Smith, Program Director and Assistant Professor of the Undergraduate Biblical Counseling Department who has 8 years experience in counseling all ages from a Biblical worldview. The main topic for this event is “Trust and Forgiveness,” however both panelist will be fielding and answering questions from the students also. The date for this event is Thursday, October 25 from 6-7:30 pm in the East Education Building (Rm. 129).


Finding Meaning in God’s Glory

Finding Meaning in God’s Glory

By Joaquim Braga, PhD
Biblical Counseling Interim Department Chair

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

God’s glory is a central theme of Scripture. As John Piper has succinctly put it: “The vindication of God’s glory is the ground of our salvation, and the exaltation of God’s glory is the goal of our salvation.” Difficult as it is for us to fully capture what God’s glory means, we commonly understand it as the perfect beauty of the Triune being who created all that there is. Thus, to speak of God’s glory is to speak of His perfection, His majesty, His holiness, His character, His literal awesomeness (oh how have we cheapened the meaning of this last term, much to our own detriment).

To “glorify God,” therefore, means to highlight, proclaim, draw attention to, display, showcase, show forth, declare God’s intrinsic worth as a being of unmatched beauty and perfection. For instance, when I forgive someone who has hurt me, I am glorifying God because through that sacrificial gesture of forgiving another, I am demonstrating to the world something that is beautiful and true of God Himself, namely His grace and mercy. Likewise, when I enjoy a beautiful, sunny day at the beach with a grateful heart, I am glorifying God by acknowledging Him to be a creative creator and a giver of good things to His children. Or when I continue to trust God after some personal tragedy that defies all comprehension, I glorify Him by declaring that against the limitations of my unbearable pain, I still believe Him to be all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing.

We can (and should!) indeed glorify God with all we say, think, feel, and do. This is why the apostle Paul commanded us to do all things to the glory of God, including whether we eat or drink. Think about that for a second. Even behaviors as mundane as drinking and eating, which we often do without giving them a second thought, can be done to God’s glory. This is quite a liberating and empowering thought. If I can display God’s glory no matter what I am doing, no matter where I am, no matter how small the task, no matter who is watching me, no matter what!, then nothing about my existence needs to be wasted. On the contrary, all about me matters because all about me can and should engage in what matters the most: to glorify God, or to display His unmatched beauty!

The pile of dishes on the kitchen sink.

Those tasks at work that are as tedious as they are pointless.

All those groundhog days.

Your pain, your suffering, your struggle with sin.

Both your failures and your successes.

All. Absolutely all about you (I don’t think I can overstate this point: there’s no exception!) can have meaning and purpose—it can matter infinitely—because it can showcase the beautiful face of our loving Creator and Redeemer. And nothing, absolutely nothing, matters more in life.

What mundane action or sacrificial choice will you use to glorify your Creator today?

Out of Scarcity, Abundance – A Reflection on Mark 12:41-44

Out of Scarcity, Abundance – A Reflection on Mark 12:41-44

Out of Scarcity, Abundance

Dr. Joaquim Braga, PhD
Biblical Counseling Interim Department Chair

There are many reasons why Christianity doesn’t make sense to me. A righteous, all-good, all-powerful being that allows the existence of suffering and evil. A chosen nation, supposed to be a channel of spiritual blessings to all other nations, that is engrossed in worshiping a golden statue shortly after being miraculously delivered from the most powerful nation of the time. A Creator-King who is born as a helpless baby in a stable, literally in the middle of nowhere, destined to become the Redeemer and Savior of all. A divine kingdom supposed to change the world that is entrusted to twelve (make that eleven) unimpressive, mostly uneducated men with all sorts of spiritual blindness. An eternal being who experiences death for the sake of creatures who do not want to have anything to do with him in the first place. My list could go on and on.

I am making my way through the Gospel of Mark, and the other day I read a passage that reminded me, yet again, of how upside-down kingdom logic is when compared to the ways of this world.

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’.” (Mark 12:41-44)

If you stop and think about it, there are several things about this passage that are upside-down. Take a closer look at who Jesus is using as an example of spiritual discernment and worship. This unlikely model that we are supposed to emulate has three fundamental things going against her according to society: she’s a woman, she’s a widow, and she’s poor! Both in Jesus’ times as well as in ours, these are traits that would encourage the elite to ignore and even despise this woman. Her gender makes her inferior and voiceless, her marital status makes her helpless and needy, while her poverty makes her empty-handed and devoid of anything good to offer.

(By the way, we could also assume this woman is also advanced in age since she’s a widow. But since she already has plenty going against her, let’s not add this one more thing to our list. We can safely say we have at least three significant strikes against her.)

Everything about this person screams of scarcity. Not enoughto give. Not enoughto matter. Not enoughto make an impact. Not enoughto be noticed. Not enoughto be special or significant. Not enoughto justify her existence.

And yet… Jesus draws our attention to this unlikely heroine of faith.

Jesus sees her. He notices her. He finds her example so moving that he draws the attention of the disciples to her, this unimpressive embodiment of scarcity who only had a few measly coins to give.

Yes. Christianity doesn’t make a whole lot of sense according to the ways of this world. And that, my friends, gives me great hope and consolation.

I am not that different from this poor middle-eastern widow who lived thousands of years ago. I constantly find myself caught between two equally undesirable places: feeling like too much(I’m a burden, carrying on myself too much guilt, too much shame, too many mistakes, too many flaws) while also feeling like not enough at the same time (not enough faith, not enough discipline, not enough commitment, not enough accomplishments… my list could go on and on). Let me tell you: feeling like too much and not enough all at once is a maddening way to exist.

Too much bad stuff and not enough good stuff. That’s how I often feel about myself when my spiritual gaze drifts off of Jesus, which it often tends to do.

And I’ll say one more time: AND YET!

And yet Jesus sees me. Jesus tells me that I don’t have to have an abundance of anything the world deems worthy in order to please him, in order to be noticed, in order to matter, in order to make a difference, in order to be loved. Jesus tells me that he took upon Himself on the cross both my abundance of bad stuff as well as my scarcity of good stuff.  Jesus tells me that in Him I am made anew. Jesus tells me that whatever little, unimpressive things I have to offer (ultimately myself) matters greatly to Him!

The truth is this: Whenever I give Jesus my two little coins from a place of trust and love, I put a smile on His face. And He looks at me and reminds me yet again: “Son, it’s not your two coins that I am after. It’s you that I want, scarcity and all.”

Christianity does not make a whole lot of sense.

And that’s good news.

It’s Time to Leave the Shire, Frodo!

It’s Time to Leave the Shire, Frodo!

I love a good story. I especially love it if the story is of epic proportions where the underdog, an unassuming hero, encounters unimaginable peril to accomplish some noble goal such as, let’s say, saving the world! Among such grand stories of many dangers, adventures and sacrifice, Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings trilogy stands as one of my very favorites. Oh, my good man (sorry Hobbit!) Frodo, who chose to leave the tranquility of the Shire to go to a distant land, throws a ring in the fire, and once and for all stops Sauron, Middle Earth’s greatest enemy! Did you know what all of your quest would put you through, Frodo? Could you even imagine how your decision to say yes to that call would forever change you? Did you know the cost in advance? And—had you known—would you still have said yes if you could go back and choose it all over again? In the end, was it worth it, Frodo?

We left a comfortable life in Dallas roughly nine months ago. And after just a few months in Brazil, I’ve come to realize that Dallas was our Shire. Sure, Texas was not devoid of problems. We struggled with stress. I myself at times felt overwhelmed with the demands of life and with my own demons. My wife and I still had our occasional marital problems. But… still… Dallas was safe, predictable, and comfortable. No matter how stressful things got, our Texan Shire was filled with delightful family times at the Dallas arboretum, Target runs, and delicious Starbucks drinks conveniently ordered in advance from an app so I wouldn’t have to bother talking to another human being at the ungodly early hours of my morning. Oh, and lest we forget, how do I even tell you how much we miss Amazon prime. Oh, sweet, sweet Amazon—we could purchase almost anything through your website and have it delivered to our doorsteps within two days (or within an hour, if you live in a place like Dallas!). We also miss our dog (Oh George, how we miss you!) and our beautiful house.

So you don’t think I’m super shallow, our Shire also included a wonderful church with gospel-centered preaching that is second to none, not to mention a wonderful small group that my family and I had been a part of for several years. Those people were our friends, our community. Our Shire. We miss all of that.

Unlike Frodo, we didn’t leave our Shire behind to literally save the world. We came to Brazil to fulfill a lifelong dream of serving here. I don’t stand behind a pulpit every week preaching to the masses, nor do I think I ever will. Much of what we do is somewhat invisible, behind the scenes.  Our ministry is small, translating counseling related resources into Portuguese, meeting with folks one on one, and leading small workshops.

There’s nothing about counseling that is flashy. Our story does not include magical rings or enchanted beings, but it is still epic. It is my epic narrative where my family and I, unlikely “heroes” that we are, get to make sacrifices for the sake of others. To bring to them something or someone, who can indeed save their lives.

It’s been a slow process, but during these past nine months I have felt the Lord waking up my soul from the slumber of comfort and convenience that marked our lives back in the U.S. Waking up is wonderful and difficult, invigorating and scary, all at once. But when you leave your Shire, your soul wakes up to deeper realities that changes you and allows you to see life (and yourself) from a completely different perspective. And there’s no going back. And there’s nothing better.

Please, please don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that enjoying the comforts of life in our wonderful America is wrong. Nor am I saying that you have to leave your home to leave your Shire. All that I am trying to do is to invite you to consider some fundamental, life-changing questions that only you, in your heart of hearts, can answer. No one else can do that for you.

Are you constantly bored with the life you are leading?

What comforts, what safety, what predictability, what pleasures have you left behind for the sake of being part of something greater than yourself?

Are you willing to leave your Shire for the sake of the gospel?

Are you living your epic story?

If Jesus Himself left the Shire of heaven to destroy the ultimate enemy and save us, how can we—His followers—do any less?

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)