Select Page
How can you help people if you’re not a counselor?

How can you help people if you’re not a counselor?

How can you help people if you’re not a counselor? People all around us need help. They need encouragement, help and answers. Should ordinary, average Christians wade into the waters of “counseling” or should we leave that to the professionals?

Calvary’s Dr. Tim Hange, along with Dr. Joshua Paxton and Shaun LePage, invited Dr. Luther Smith—Chairman of Calvary University’s Biblical Counseling Department—to explore this issue.

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

Prefer Audio Podcasts?

Listen to audio-only on your commute using your favorite podcasting platform: SpotifyAppleGoogleRadio PublicPocket Casts, and Breaker.

Sign up to receive a weekly email notice for the latest episode of Calvary Conversations

Or…join our Facebook Group

Duane and Cristina Smith: Faithfully Building up the Body of Christ

Duane and Cristina Smith: Faithfully Building up the Body of Christ

Duane and Cristina, 1993. 

“When you see people apply the Word that you had the joy of teaching them, it is a tremendous blessing.” 

Duane and Cristina Smith grew up in Christian families and came to faith at a young age, meeting at Calvary and marrying soon after. They stayed in the KC area for four years and were highly involved in their local church. Learning how a body of believers functioned would later become integral to them becoming spiritual mentors in their future home church. When the Lord took them to Marshfield, WI, Duane served as the assistant pastor of Calvary Bible Church, where he and Cristina served for over 8 years; during this time, they had all three of their sons. Today, Duane is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Waukon, IA. 

When reflecting on how his educational journey impacted his future career in ministry, Duane stated: “The education I received from Calvary laid a biblical and theological foundation for my life in ministry. As a pastoral studies major, my classes helped me understand the practical side of ministry, and Dr. Raiford shared wisdom with us ‘preacher boys,’ as he called us, that was absolutely invaluable.” He also added that his music training at Calvary helped prepare him for conducting worship in church services for over twenty-five years. Cristina reflects that her double major in Biblical Counseling and Church Music was exactly what she needed: “I am blessed to have been the Worship Coordinator at our church for many years now and use my degree not only in accompanying piano and worship leading, but in planning worship services year-round. As for counseling, I use the knowledge I gained from this degree every day.”

When asked what the most rewarding thing about full-time ministry has been, Duane states that it has been witnessing people grow in their faith: “There are many things that can discourage you in this ministry if you let it, but when you see people apply the Word that you had the joy of teaching them, it is a tremendous blessing.” Cristina adds, “There’s nothing like seeing the chains of sin being broken in people’s lives and watching them live in the freedom of their new identity in Christ.”

Duane sends a special word of counsel to those pursuing pastoral ministry: “Remember to cultivate a close relationship with the Lord now. As a pastor, you will be the one feeding others and discipling them. You must learn to feed yourself spiritually! Don’t just look at the Bible as another textbook. Treat it as the living and active Word of God that you derive your spiritual nourishment from. Serving God as a pastor is a tremendous blessing, but if you are trying to do it in your own strength it will be a disaster.”

Duane and Cristina both look forward to what God has in store for their future as a couple serving God in the church. Duane states that he looks forward to seeing people grow in Christ and use their gifts to serve Him: “There are some young men who are wanting to be discipled in my church, and that process will begin soon. I pray that God uses them in mighty ways!” Cristina adds, “We hope to plan another mission trip soon as they have transformed our church family into thinking globally and strengthened individuals in their personal walks with God.” 




Duane Smith speaking at Calvary’s 2022 Baccalaureate.

Duane and Cristina’s sons, Nathan (CU grad, 23), Michael (21), and Jacob (18).

Dr. James Clark: Dealing With Conflict Biblically

Dr. James Clark: Dealing With Conflict Biblically

“Conflict is everywhere. In my book, I present Biblical solutions to conflict, whether personal, interpersonal, emotional, social, or spiritual.” 

Dr. Clark is an experienced pastor, chaplain, counselor, and educator who recently published his second book, Dealing With Conflict Biblically, through Calvary University Press. 

Dr. Clark graduated from Calvary Bible College in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education and a minor in Music. He then became as a Youth For Christ director in S.E. Iowa. He served six years as an associate pastor in Wilmar, Minnesota, while also being a college and Vocational-Tech Institute chaplain. Years later, he served as lead pastor in Lackland, Minnesota for five years while also serving as a prison chaplain at Stillwater, Minnesota prison. For ten years, he pastored in Waverly, Iowa and served as chaplain for the Waverly Fire Department. 

In 1993, Dr. Clark began teaching at Calvary and started the counseling department for both college and seminary. In 1993, he attended Bethel Theological Seminary and Trinity Theological College and Seminary, finishing his master’s and doctorate degrees in Biblical counseling. At Calvary, he served as an academic dean for eleven years, president for seven years, and is currently teaching as an adjunct professor. 

Dr. Clark’s journey in ministry began when he was just thirteen years old: “While attending a Youth For Christ rally in St. Louis I felt called to ministry. My church gave me opportunities to speak and I preached two summers in churches in Michigan. I was also active in our local Youth For Christ club from junior high through high school.” While a student at Calvary, Dr. Clark served for three years at Kansas City Youth For Christ as a club director, where he discovered that a career in ministry was his passion because he saw the need to counsel teens.

Dr. Clark saw the need for pastors and chaplains who truly desired to help people through continued counseling: “Being called to Calvary to teach counseling and head up a counseling center was a big step in my life; I loved assisting students in their counseling ministry.” After retiring, Dr. Clark decided to put his experiences and teachings in a Biblical Counseling book for the Christian community, Biblical Counseling for the Church and Community, published through Grace Acres. Now, he is releasing Dealing With Conflict Biblically, through Calvary University Press. 

While in ministry, Dr. Clark dealt with many different types of conflicts first-hand, which prepared him with the knowledge and experience to write Dealing With Conflict Biblically. He states: “It goes without saying that conflict is everywhere. In my book, I present Biblical solutions to conflict, whether personal, interpersonal, emotional, social, or spiritual. How to deal with conflict is clearly laid out in the Bible, which is what I expound upon with illustrations and biblical examples in Dealing With Conflict Biblically.

Dr. Clark is excited about writing several more books to inspire people to find the Bible relevant with solutions for modern society. “Calvary University Press has great potential to inform people about Biblical material to help them in their understanding, knowledge and growth in the Lord Jesus Christ!” Dr. Clark also looks forward to continuing God’s will for his life through following his callings in teaching, preaching, and writing. “I’m enjoying this phase of my retired life. As my physician said, God is not done with the Clarks yet!”


Dr. Clark is a highly respected and dearly loved alumnus of Calvary University. CU Press to honored to introduce his work.

Alumni Update: Rob Jordon

Alumni Update: Rob Jordon

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

Rob Jordan, a Biblical Counseling graduate from Calvary University, has recently written a book, launched a website, and been promoted to be the leader of the Mental Health and Wellness Group at Amazon. Rob is Youth and Worship Pastor at his local church and graduated from Calvary in 2021 with a degree in Biblical Counseling; he also has a degree in Biblical Studies from Ethnos360 and is currently in the Master’s program at Grand Canyon University for mental health counseling. 

In his recently published book, Blueprints for Caring, Rob Jordan (CU21) presents the concept of individuals becoming the person that they once needed or desired in their growing up years. “Writing the book was a wonderful exercise in applying all that I’ve learned through Calvary University’s writing courses. Personally, it allowed me to take a felt and seen need—the anemic ability of the local church to do soul care—and build a foundation of how we can meet that need practically.” He went on to say that many people have been impacted by his book as they too have felt this need as vocational pastors. Others have been challenged by the book, realizing the need for this kind of ministry in churches today. Blueprints for Caring “…crosses the borders of theological camps and denominations and focuses on the ‘working faith’ found in James 1 & 2. The scaffolding, if you will, for the book came from an idea shared by Garret Higbee in ‘Scripture and Counseling,’ as he explains the possibility of the church to be a hospital for those who are struggling,” Rob explained.

When describing his newly developed website,, Rob said, “From the onset our goal and focus has been on people, not a denomination or a physical building.” The goal of the ministry is to bring the practical education of biblical counseling and counseling skills to church and ministry leaders to better care for the people God has entrusted to them. Rob went on to explain how The Building Project seeks to equip pastors and elders for the equipping of the saints, as described in Ephesians 4. “The groundwork and foundations have been laid, and the last bit of prep work for these Blueprints conferences is wrapping up. My vision is to be able to travel to local churches or fellowships and offer this training as early as Fall 2022, as well as continue to produce content for the encouragement and training of the church.” At the moment, Rob and his team are patiently waiting for God to make those connections, as well as “finding some pilot sites where we can observe and note any changes that may need to be made in this curriculum.” 

In Pastor Rob’s leadership position at Amazon, he has had impactful experiences that have grown him tremendously as a leader in his field: “Being asked to lead the Mental Health and Wellness group at my Amazon site was an honor and I have been able to see some progress in my immediate sphere of influence as an advocate for mental health. This has truly been my missions field, working with people who have different worldviews.” He went on to say that he has had the privilege of presenting the Gospel to those he works with, discussing topics such as identity, LGBTQ+ topics, depression, and suicide. Some of the people he had the opportunity to speak with includeded “a driver who had come back in rage, but was able to leave our discussion feeling understood and encouraged; employees who have struggled with anxiety and PTSD feeling understood and supported; a transgender coworker who had a horrible experience with the church and is trying to understand why God made them the way they are but is still willing to ask questions and talk about God because they don’t feel judged.” Rob believes this has been a wonderful opportunity for him to bring the love of God to lost people and, from a professional standpoint, “…promote mental health and the resources offered by Amazon…to help create a culture shift around the shame of talking about mental health.” 

Rob mentioned that his education at Calvary University has been hugely influential in his job opportunities, and he attributes all his success to what God did in his life through Calvary and its counseling department. “Biblical counseling has at its core the heart of discipleship. No matter what field or ministry a student feels led to go into, the most important aspect of any ministry or business, as far as Christians are concerned, is our love and care for them; the Biblical Counseling department at CU does a tremendous job of showing how to do this practically.” 


Rob Jordon has been taking up exciting career opportunities since he graduated from Calvary University. 

Biblical Counseling Distinctives Focus of Leadership Conference

Biblical Counseling Distinctives Focus of Leadership Conference

Drs. Christopher Cone, Jeff Cox, Tom Baurain and Luther Smith field questions during the 2020 Christian Leaders’ Conference. 

Calvary’s Christian Leader’s Conference featured faculty papers on biblical counseling and psychology.

Calvary’s annual Christian Leader’s Conference addressed, “What makes counseling biblical?” Dr. Luther Smith, Biblical Counseling chair, was heavily involved in planning the event and said, “It was well attended on campus and online,” with about 60 persons total, “a mix of students, as well as pastors and counselors.” He also said, “The response was really good… people had lots of questions. They enjoyed the information and the thoughtful discussion.”

The conference featured presentations by a variety of Calvary faculty, including Dr. Smith, Dr. Jeff Cox, and Dr. Christopher Cone. Dr. Smith noted that, even though the presenters had not discussed the details of their presentations together, “We were saying the same thing. And that was really encouraging to me… If I mentioned [a concept] in a sentence, someone else would mention it in a paper; if I mentioned it in a paragraph, someone else would mention it in two.”

Arianna Erixon-Bova, a senior at Calvary, said, “it was wonderful to sit down and hear scholars and academics bring everything back to the root of all truth… [The conference] encouraged and pleaded for us to go back to Scripture and find the truth there, first and finally. The speakers explained that we do not need to stray away from psychology, but we do need to make sure that it is rooted in Scripture when we do use it.”

Bill Stebbins, Calvary’s Chief Development Officer, was highly involved in the logistics of the conference, and said, “I think the highlight is when you have a roundtable or the discussion, because now it’s question and answer, and you have multiple personalities up there.”

The papers presented at the conference are slated for publication as a book later in the year.

Articles Presented at the Christian Leader’s Conference

(Follow links to watch videos of the presentations)

Psychology: A Discipline or a Philosophy?  | Dr. Luther Smith

Dr. Smith’s first presentation discussed the relationship between believers and psychology and the respective consequences of defining psychology as a discipline or worldview.

Deconstructing Psychology | Dr. Christopher Cone

Dr. Cone addressed the church’s leeriness towards psychology and how the church can appropriately approach and utilize the discipline.

The Priority of Scripture | Dr. Thomas Baurain

Dr. Baurain addressed what elements must be present in biblical counseling for it to truly be biblical, focusing especially on the centrality of the Bible.

Where Can Wisdom Be Found? | Dr. Jeff Cox

Dr. Cox’s paper referenced Job and Proverbs, investigating a biblical ethic for the source of wisdom.

Specific Distinctiveness of This Approach: Consistent Application of Literal Grammatical Historical Hermeneutic | Dr. Luther Smith

Dr. Smith’s second presentation discussed how the distinctive of consistently applying a literal grammatical historical hermeneutic affects the discipline of biblical counseling.

General Distinctiveness of This Approach: A Discipline Born from the Biblical Worldview Followed | Dr. Christopher Cone

Dr. Cone’s second paper took a more general look at the distinctives of biblical counseling and how the biblical worldview influences the view of counseling and psychology.

Dr. James Clark Publishes Book on Biblical Counseling

Dr. James Clark Publishes Book on Biblical Counseling

Dr. James Clark, President Emeritus, Calvary University and the cover of his new book. 

“My experience as a youth pastor, pastor, chaplain, and then directing our counseling center at Calvary has convinced me that lives can change by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.”

Calvary University President Emeritus, Dr. James Clark, recently published a new book: Biblical Counseling: A Guide for the Church and Community. According to Dr. Clar, the book, “describes the role of counseling as a ministry of the ‘one anothers’ in the local church and community” and explains the process of identifying leaders to serve as a counseling team to assist pastoral staff.

Clark said the book arose from his history teaching Biblical Counseling in the Church for many years, “and there wasn’t a textbook on the subject. There were several books on counseling but not a specific book to help the church.” To address this need, Clark wrote Biblical Counseling trying “to keep in mind the pastor and leaders along with the believers in the pews.”

Explaining the need for this book and the hole it fills, Clark said, “Many people in the church today need hope, healing, and answers (biblical) for their problems… However, the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth said the Church is to do all things decently and in order. That implies that the counseling ministry must be approached in an orderly way, as well. In the book I describe how the church is to protect itself. I cover the legal aspects regarding establishing a counseling ministry. This includes forms, files, counseling offices, what is lawful and unlawful.”

Clark’s book covers the difference between secular and biblical counseling, as well as several logistical aspects of counseling in the church. He said, “My experience as a youth pastor, pastor, chaplain, and then directing our counseling center at Calvary has convinced me that lives can change by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. I recognize, however, it is work! Recruiting, training, and leadership in church doesn’t just happen.” Biblical Counseling: A Guide for the Church and Community seeks to help prevent “the church from falling into the pitfalls of haphazard disorganization, lack of knowledge in creating a proper counseling ministry, and face the embarrassment and even litigation by not doing their homework in establishing such a ministry.”

As his book begins circulation, Clark says, “I would love to see pastors and laymen get excited about making a difference in the lives of their people through a viable counseling ministry. It is such a need today.”

Dr. Clark’s book is available for purchase in ebook or print format at