29 Saturday Feb 2020
Posted Biblical Counseling, Uncategorizedin
28 Friday Feb 2020
Posted Biblical Counseling, Uncategorizedin
27 Thursday Feb 2020
Posted Biblical Counseling, Lectures, Uncategorizedin
Instruction (11, 12), Why Homework is Necessary (13, 14) How Counseling Ends (15)
28 Thursday May 2015
Biblical Counseling, Doctrine of Sin, Harmatiology, introduction to biblical counseling, Lectures
Johann Heinrich Fussli Satan and Death with Sin Intervening
Sin is the real human trouble: it is the root from which all other troubles spring. Sometimes the trouble is our own sin, but that is not the only trouble of sin. We are also hurt when we suffer from the sin of others. And even if someone were to somehow avoid their own sin and the sin of others, there is the constant of effect of in sin in this world: death, disease, disaster. While the particular ill may be sin in some particular branch, the root will always be sin and the solution will always ultimately found in the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
27 Wednesday May 2015
“Biblical counseling” is not some esoteric art, it should be the common interaction between members of a congregation. Counseling is just discipleship with some focus: “14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” Romans 15:14 (ESV).
As a practical matter, all Christians will be giving counsel to one-another (just like everyone else). The question is not whether we counsel, but whether we counsel well.
Lecture Notes here: Introduction and Overview
14 Monday Apr 2014
The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/introduction-to-biblical-counseling-interpretation/
As you gain and interpret information, you will need to instruct the counselee. In the end, counseling is the act of giving counsel. Something has gone wrong in some manner. Counsel is given to help them change. Biblical Counseling seeks to bring someone to a change which conforms to Scripture:
What does this mean? Well, it means that at some point there is an understanding or acceptance of what God says in His Word that turns his [the counselee’s] wrong thinking and living to God’s right thinking and living. The breakthrough, then, is a breakthrough by the Spirit of God into the life of the counselee.
I. The Goal: The Glory of God in Jesus Christ
The goal is to see and then reflect the glory of God in Jesus Christ. First, the goal is to see this glory:
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:15–23 (ESV)
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:6 (ESV)
The sight of this glory transforms the one who sees (2 Corinthians 3:18), which results in a light reflective of such glory:
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9–11 (ESV)
There is no circumstance in which seeing and reflecting the glory of God in Jesus Christ does not remedy the trouble. If one is sinning, the sin will stop. If one has been sinned against, the restoration will begin. If one is troubled, the heart will be at rest. If one abounds, there will be contentment without covetousness for more.
Psalm 147:15–18 (ESV)
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
Psalm 29:3–4 (ESV)
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The power of the word brings wonderful blessings to those who hear it in faith with a disposition to obey. But it hardens those who hear it with indifference resistance, rebellion. In considering this biblical teaching, I often warn my seminary students to pay heed to what God is telling us here. For seminarians typically spend two or more years intensively studying Scripture. It is so important that they hear in faith, lest the Word actually harden their hearts and become a fire of judgment to them. God’s Word never leaves us the same. We hear it for better or worse. So we should never hear or read God’s Word merely as an academic exercise. We must ask God to open our heart, that the Word may be written on them as well as in our heads. (52).
The authority inherent in the New Testament prefacing phrase, “it is written,” should be apparent to every serious Bible student. This is the very note that is needed in counseling.1
No other system of counseling has authority (even though Ellis and Skinner, et al. pretend to it) because no other system has an authoritative base. I cannot help but agree with most criticisms of the use of authority in counseling since they grow out of a recognition of the utter arrogance of any fallible man who attempts to speak authoritatively.
No counselee should entrust his life to the hands of another unaided fallible sinner. Unless the counselor has been converted, and is able to demonstrate that there is biblical authority for the directions he gives, a counselee ought to back off.
The Christian’s authority for biblical counseling comes not from himself; therefore, he has no necessary problem with arrogance (I say necessary, because there are plenty of ways for believers also to become arrogant). The fundamental criticism mentioned above simply does not apply. The authority by which he counsels is divine. The argument from arrogance, when applied to other counseling systems, however, is compelling; but it makes no impact at all on genuine Christian counseling. So, why should those who alone have good reason to counsel with authority hesitate to do so?
Psalm 119:9–11 (ESV)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
2 Corinthians 10:3–6 (ESV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
[I]t does mean that at this point in his life he has taken a step forward in such a way that he will now be able to overcome and replace some of those old ways with new ones….Of course he may have understood and may even have lived according to the new thoughts and ways in the past, but then he did revert. In that case, the counsel that he receives must focus not so much on new ways of thinking and new living but on those biblical truths that will enable him to repent of disobedience and become instead “rooted and grounded” in those truths (Ephesians 3:17). This rooting and grounding takes place when the Holy Spirit “strengthens” him “with power in the inner person” (Ephesians 3:16) so that Christ dwells in his heart by faith (v. 17). In the parallel passage in Colossians, this dwelling is expressed as Christ’s Word dwelling in him richly as teaching and counseling takes place among believers (Colossians 3:16). Christ works within, through the Holy Spirit, Who strengthens him by the Word in those aspects of his life that previously were weak and had not been firmly rooted and grounded.
Dr. Street explains that biblical counseling is expository counseling: It begins with a text of Scripture and unfolds that Scripture, making application to a particular situation. Thus, counseling and preaching/teaching are in some ways the same event but just directed to different groups. The best preaching will not merely unfold the text, but unfold it in such a way that opens the human heart and creates change – this is precisely what counseling must do. In this section, I will reference some texts on preaching because the goal is the same.
“To interpret and apply his text in accordance with its real meaning, is one of the preacher’s most sacred duties. He stands before the people for the very purpose of teaching and exhorting them out of the Word of God. He announces a particular passage of God’s Word as his text with the distinctly implied understanding that from this, his sermon will be drawn—if not always its various thoughts, yet certainly its general subject. … But using a text, and undertaking to develop and apply its teachings, he is solemnly bound to represent the text as meaning precisely what it does mean. This would seem to be a truism. But it is often and grievously violated.” TPDS, 32
It seems strange that a preacher would not consider himself bound by the text, and yet as Broadus notes, “it is often and grievously violated.”
Now, his diversion may not be from malicious motives (it often is not). However, by substituting his own “good” idea for the text, the preacher places himself above the text and thus above God’s wisdom. He seeks to “improve” God’s exhortations. By so doing, the preacher lays a burden upon the congregation which God did not lay; or he exhorts the congregation to an appropriate goal by an inappropriate means (and thus calls them to work with providing God’s help).
“That is a distorted ministry which deals in any large proportion with subjects which are not logically presented in the Scriptures. It is not a biblical ministry” (TPDS, 34; quoting Phelps).
There is no characteristic more important to the preacher than this, and none which ought to be more earnestly coveted by him. Sermons should be plain. The thoughts which the religious teacher presents to the common mind should go straight to the understanding. Everything that covers up and envelopes the truth should be stripped off from it, so that the bare reality may be seen. There is prodigious power in this plainness of presentation. It is the power of actual contact. A plain writer, or speaker, makes the truth and the mind impinge upon each other. When the style is plain, the mind of the hearer experiences the sensation of being touched; and this sensation is always impressive, for a man starts when he is touched (William Greenough Thayer Shedd. “Homiletics and Pastoral Theology”).
The preacher is a herald, and his function is proclamation. In this way, the ideas which he presents to his fellow-men augment, instead of diminishing his strength. He gives no faster than he receives. He simply suffers divine truth, which is never feeble and never fails to pass through his mind, as a medium of communication, to the minds of his fellow-men.
Second, all the power comes from the text. He begins this argument with a proposition concerning the functioning of the human mind: ““It was made to receive truth into itself, and not to originate it out of itself. The human mind is recipient in its nature, and not creative; it beholds truth, but it does not make it.”
Therefore, “The mind cannot think successfully, without an object of thought, and the heart cannot feel strongly and truly, without an object of feeling. There can be no manifestation of power therefore, and no force in the finite mind, except as it has been nourished, stimulated and strengthened by an object other than itself.”
When it comes to preaching, the objective truth which stands before the mind as truth is the Word of God, “We shall be able to answer this question, by considering the fact that the written revelation stands in the same relation to the sacred orator, that the world of nature does to the philosopher. The Bible is something objective to the human mind, and not a mass of subjective thinking which human reason has originated.”
And, “Human reason, therefore, is the subject, or the knowing agent, and the Scriptures are the object, or the thing to be known. All true power, consequently, in the sacred orator, springs from this body of objective verity”.
Third, to convey the objective reality of the Scripture, the preacher must be “mighty in the Scriptures”: This is far more than knowing everything about the Scripture. Rather, he must know the Scripture. He must be taken by the reality of the Scripture:
“Scripture should not lie in the preacher’s mind in the form of congregated atoms, but of living, salient energies. True Biblical knowledge is dynamic, and not atomic. There is no better word to denote its nature, than the word imbue. The mind, by long-continued contemplation of revelation, is steeped in Divine wisdom, and saturated with it.”
This should greatly encourage you. The act of counseling is first an act which transforms you as you wrestle with the Scripture. Then, you bring the Scripture to someone else who themselves is changed.
You, like him, enter into personal worlds where the weather report is often ‘storms of sleet and high seas.’ How will you not become discouraged, anxious, blasé, or self-confident? You must bring your own gladness and fierce love to the situation, confident in your Lord.”
Jay Edward Adams, Critical Stages of Biblical Counseling (Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2004), 88.
 John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, 52.
Allison, Strangers and Pilgrims, 115.
 Jay Edward Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resource Library, 1986), 20.
Adams, Critical Stages of Biblical Counseling, 89.
David Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2003), 39-40.
10 Thursday Apr 2014
Posted Biblical Counselingin
The last post in this series may be found here:https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/introduction-to-biblical-counseling-week-six-inspiration/
The audio for the lecture for this lesson may be found here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.calvarybiblechurch.org/audio/class/biblical_counseling_2014/20140406.mp3
INTERPRETING THE DATA
Biblical counseling differs sharply from other forms of counseling in understanding the data. Any counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist would find out about the counselee’s [I hate that phrase. We do not see patients, we are speaking with brothers and sisters] history, present status, health, et cetera. Any of the various schools of psychology (and there are many) would typically look at such things.
A point of data means something only with respect to some other concern. Take for example, the data point: Lois wore an orange baseball cap. If we are concerned with college sports, this might “mean” she is Tennessee Volunteers fan. If we are concerned with style, we may be shocked or pleased when she showed up wearing the cap. If we are the police investigating a crime, we may be looking for someone wearing an orange cap (and thus Lois might be a suspect). All three things might be true at once.
Biblical counseling is the process of looking at a life in the context of the Scripture to determine what it means. A Freudian psychiatrist may look at a behavior or belief and understand it to have something to do with one’s weaning as a child. A Jungian might see some tie to the collective unconscious. A behaviorist will see stimulus/reward. One following after Bradshaw will see a hurt inner child. Our question is, What does the Bible see?
The Lord tells us that what we see in the life comes from the heart (Mark 7:21). Proverbs speaks of the heart as holding the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). Therefore, we must consider the circumstance in light of the manner in which the human heart functions.
As discussed in previous lessons, the human heart is wired to worship, and thus, we must understand the life before us as a worshipping life.
The Bible sees outward conduct as proceeding from desire:
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14–15 (ESV)
The power to move one’s will does not exist in the object of temptation but in the desire for the temptation. (See, also James 4:1-3).
Use Biblical Categories
The first step in interpreting the data is to consider the correct categories, because the categories will in large part dictate one’s understanding.
For example, addiction as a “disease”:
Let us consider someone who has the “disease” of alcoholism. “Disease” indicates something which is beyond one’s control and thus something for which one cannot be morally responsible. If someone contracts cancer, we do not consider them to be morally responsible when they become so weak and tired they cannot work.
Compare that to being enslaved by alcohol. The Biblical category sees the trouble as arising from the heart’s desires which have not mastered the human being. None of this denies that habitual use of alcohol will not affect one’s body; nor does it deny that certain people may find alcohol a more powerful draw than other people (this draw may be affected by one’s physiology). There may be many things which work together to create the desire to drink alcohol. However, it is still a matter of one’s volitional conduct.
For understanding of this from a biblical perspective, consider the following blogpost by Michael Graham on the Gospel Coalition website:
Crack, Meth, Addiction, and the Puritans
In a fascinating piece in The New York Times, “The Rational Choices of Crack Addicts,” Dr. Carl Hart presents his research on how crack and meth addicts choose future monetary rewards instead of another high. John Tierney writes:
Like other scientists, he hoped to find a neurological cure to addiction, some mechanism for blocking that dopamine activity in the brain so that people wouldn’t succumb to the otherwise irresistible craving for cocaine, heroin, and other powerfully addictive drugs.
But then, when he began studying addicts, he saw that drugs weren’t so irresistible after all.
“Eighty to 90 percent of people who use crack and methamphetamines don’t get addicted,” said Dr. Hart, an associate professor of psychology. “And the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.” . . .
When the dose of crack was fairly high, the subject would typically choose to keep smoking crack during the day. But when the dose was smaller, he was more likely to pass it up for the $5 in cash or voucher.
“They didn’t fit the caricature of the drug addict who can’t stop once he gets a taste,” Dr. Hart said. “When they were given an alternative to crack, they made rational economic decisions.” [emphasis mine]
When methamphetamine replaced crack as the great drug scourge in the United States, Dr. Hart brought meth addicts into his laboratory for similar experiments—and the results showed similarly rational decisions. He also found that when he raised the alternative reward to $20, every single addict, of meth and crack alike, chose the cash. They knew they wouldn’t receive it until the experiment ended weeks later, but they were still willing to pass up an immediate high. [emphasis mine]
This piece is really interesting on multiple planes. First, it challenges many of the sacred cows of neurological science and behavioral psychology. Second, it highlights some intriguing spiritual truths.
Rationality and Irrationality of Sin
Sin is simultaneously rational and irrational. Sin typically has a “payoff” associated with it—whether the release of neurochemicals to the brain for some illicit or risky behavior, or the temporary and fleeting gratification of revenge, greed, lust, or hatred. It makes sense, then, that if one’s joy in Christ is minimal, then the payoff of sin would seem more attractive.
But the payoff of sin over-promises and under-delivers. Sin is deceptive—it promises one thing and gives you something else. Sin is always irrational because the payoff is always a lie. Sin promises you the true/good/beautiful and gives you gravel in your mouth instead. Therefore, when our joy and pleasure in Christ is superior to the payoff of sin, we choose Christ over the sin and its payoff.
Puritans and Crack Addicts
So what do the Puritans and crack addicts have in common? In this instance, quite a lot. When a superior pleasure is presented, we choose the superior pleasure. In the case of Dr. Hart’s study, the addicted participants chose the promise of future money over an immediate high. This is like what the Puritan Thomas Chalmers meant when he spoke of the “expulsive power of a new affection.”
And this is what Jonathan Edwards meant when he spoke of the human pursuit of happiness:
It is not contrary to Christianity that a man should love himself, or, which is the same thing, should love his own happiness. If Christianity did indeed tend to destroy a man’s love to himself, and to his own happiness, it would therein tend to destroy the very spirit of humanity. . . . That a man should love his own happiness, is as necessary to his nature as the faculty of the will is and it is impossible that such a love should be destroyed in any other way than by destroying his being. The saints love their own happiness. Yea, those that are perfect in happiness, the saints and angels in heaven, love their own happiness; otherwise that happiness which God hath given them would be no happiness to them. (Charity and Its Fruits, p. 159.)
Though not a Puritan, Blaise Pascal argued similarly:
All men seek happiness. There are no exceptions. However different the means they may employ, they all strive towards this goal. . . . God alone is man’s true good, and since man abandoned him it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place: stars, sky, earth, elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, plague, war, famine, vice, adultery, incest. (Pensees, #148.)
Worship Rules All
Because all men seek happiness, all of life is worship.
What you want is what you worship.
What you worship controls you.
How is your worship of God today?
Data as Evidence
When you look at the information concerning your brother or sister, you must first consider what the Scripture says about this circumstance. That information will give you insight into what the data means.
Evaluating it as Evidence
Do not think that just because the counselee has said something that it is necessarily true or complete. I am not suggesting that you begin with the idea that everyone is lying to you. Love does believe all things.
However, the Bible is plain about some matters. First, you must hear both sides of the story before you can make an honest evaluation:
17 The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17 (ESV)
Second, do not make a conclusion based upon insufficient evidence.
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. Deuteronomy 19:15 (ESV)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV)
In Insight & Creativity, Jay Adams explains that a counselor must give his attention to that data which is most important:
Selectivity is important because it allows the counselor to strip away all those things that might keep him from focusing on the real issue or issues. It keeps him off sidetracks, it protects him from becoming apprehensive about consequences and allows him to test his judgments about the counselee. There is more to selectivity than this….
Adams goes on to give matters which one should eliminate from consideration: Psychiatric and psychological jargon; guesses and speculation on the part of the counselee; victim themes; blame-shifting; repetitive material; unnecessary or unrelated details; self-pity; [possibly] questions from the counselee; and a structure to the counseling, “I only want to speak about ….”
For example, guesses and speculation are not evidence of anything beyond the counselee’s heart and understanding. Thus, the guess may be important to understand the counselee but not the situation. Victim language may often be used to deflect responsibility for one’s decisions – however, in other circumstances, one may very well be a victim (such as an abused child). The selection process takes skill and experience. However, if you don’t engage in selectivity, you may very well end up missing the entire problem facing your counselee.
Sin, Sight & Judgment
It is a common theme throughout Scripture that the one who sins thinks that no one – particularly God – knows:
1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. Psalm 36:1–2 (ESV)
Here the psalmist attributes one aspect of continuing transgression to the false belief that the sin is not known. This is tied to the additional ideas of God knowing and judging the sin: (1) there is no fear of God; and (2) the iniquity cannot be hated.
This goes back to the Garden. In Genesis 3:8, we read that Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. In Genesis 4:9, Cain denies any knowledge of his brother’s condition. In Proverbs 7, the young man goes out to sin “at the time of night and darkness”. All three seek to hide to avoid judgment.
We see this combination in the prophets. For example, Amos unveils the wealthy oppressors in the following language:
10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and turn aside the needy in the gate. Amos 5:10–12 (ESV)
First, there is the suppressed thought of judgment; “they hate him who reproves”. There is the sin, “you trample on the poor”. There is the false belief that their sin is unknown: “For I know how many are your transgressions”.
This mechanism is spelled out boldly in Romans 1: There is the fact of the knowledge of God’s judgment – which knowledge is suppressed (Romans 1:18). There is the pretending that God does not or cannot know.
So, when you look into the counselee’s life (if there is a pattern of sin), look to see how they are attempting to suppress the knowledge of God’s judgment.
Common Ways to Suppress the Knowledge of God’s Judgment
Thomas Brooks in his work Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, provides a helpful list of common ways in which people seek to suppress the knowledge that God does not know (or care) about the sin:
Motivations Behind the Conduct
Here is another place where Scripture gives clarity into a counseling situation.
Consider sexual immorality:
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:3–4 (ESV)
When we see the external behavior (immorality), we may immediately jump to the conclusion that the sexual immorality stems from a desire for sexual pleasure. However, that may not be so. Paul here seeks to defeat sexual immorality with an appeal to thankfulness: “but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
Think this through: sexual immorality is merely a
In Philippians, Paul deals with a church split. Yet rather than directly address the content of their church dispute, Paul speaks at length about Christ, his incarnation and the resurrection to come. Paul works out the implications of the facts of the Gospel before he gives the direct command to stop the bickering.
In laying out the doctrine of Christ, Paul seeks to show the people how they are misunderstanding both themselves and God:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:12–18 (ESV)
Paul has just spoken of the work of Christ in the incarnation. He therefore commends that they work out their salvation with fear and trembling. He then explains to them who they are, what they are doing: “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”. Their lives are not their own, but rather they are to exist to give glory to their Savior.
In chapter three, Paul explains how he gave up all of his privileges so that he could attain to the resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). In 1 Corinthians, Paul also deals with a divided church. In that letter he also culminates his argument with an extended discussion of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
From these things we could conclude that conflict among Christians may (at least in part) indicate a failure to understand what we are doing and where we are going.
In the book Redeeming Church Conflict, the authors – who have great experience in handling church disputes – explain:
Redeeming church conflict is less about resolving specific problems than it is about seeing conflict as a means by which God is growing his people into true saints, true eternal children who are being continuously conformed into his image.
The Bible speaks extensively upon many subjects. Not every instance of sexual immorality will hinge ultimately upon thankfulness – you may find the motivation for the sin lies in fear of man. Not every church conflict will be tied directly to the question of the resurrection. Before you say X means Y, you must make sure that you fully understand what the Bible has to say on a topic.
The process of interpreting data will point you backwards toward more data gathering and forward toward instruction and inducement. As you gather information, you will begin to see things upon which the Bible speaks. This will lead you to seek more information in a certain area. It will also effect what and how you teach.
For instance, if you have a matter of sexual immorality which you begin to understand in terms of thankfulness as a remedy, you want to investigate how the counselee understands what God has given to them. You’ll want to understand what stands in the way of their understanding of God’s gifts and their response.
Your teaching and the response may again change your interpretation, which leads to more data gathering and an adjustment to your teaching.
 The blogpost contains the following notice respecting the author: Michael Graham serves as associate pastor of administration for Orlando Grace Church. He got his BA from the University of Florida in religious studies and Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He blogs at Modern Pensées. You can follow him on Twitter.
 Jay E Adams, Insight (Woodruff: Timeless Texts, 1982), 11.
An electronic copy of the book may be found here: http://gracegems.org/Brooks/precious_remedies_against_satan.htm
 Tara Klena Barthel and David V. Edling, Redeeming Church Conflicts: Turning Crisis Into Compassion and Care (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2012), 55.
20 Thursday Feb 2014
Posted Biblical Counseling, Lovein
The previous post in this series can be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/introduction-to-biblical-counseling-week-four-the-heart/
The audio for this lesson can be found: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.calvarybiblechurch.org/audio/class/biblical_counseling_2014/20140209.mp3
Introduction: There are various models which can be used to understand the progression of counseling. While Scripture does not set out a mandatory ordering of stages of biblical counseling, a helpful model for counseling that is often used is called “The 8 I’s”. We will use this model as a means for organizing our class over the next several weeks. In addition, we will work through this model in conjunction with a “case study” which is a made-up fact pattern.
The 8 I’s are Involvement, Inspiration, Inventory, Interpretation, Instruction, Inducement, Implementation, Integration.
Case Study: A couple comes into see you due to marriage problems. We’ll get more details as the course progresses. Here is what you know:
Rachel is 34. This is her second marriage. She had a child at 19 with her then husband. That boy, Reuben, lives with her. She has been married to her current husband Jacob, for ten years. They have a daughter, Deborah, age 6.
Rachel works part time at a dental office as a receptionist/office manager. She attends your church. She is not currently on any medication – although she did take anti-depressants when her first husband left her shortly after their son was born. She attends church with you “mostly regularly” and says she is a Christian. She “occasionally” reads her Bible.
Her spouse is coming to counseling with her.
She complains of anxiety, communication, conflicts, depression, envy, fear, loneliness, moodiness, perfectionism, sex, sleep.
In answer to the question “What brings you here?” She writes, “My marriage.”
Jacob is 36 and has only been married once. He is an outside sales representative for a medical supply company. He is good health and is on no medications. On the sheet he writes YES! in response to “do you drink coffee”. He also occasionally drinks beer. He has never seen a psychiatrist or psychologist. He attends church “most of the time”. He would say he is a Christian and he “sometimes” reads his Bible.
He complains of anger, finances, sex.
In answer to “What brings you here” he writes, “My wife”.
Preliminary Observations: What do you expect to find? What do you think?
CHAPTER \h \r 1INVOLVEMENT: Effective biblical counseling requires personal involvement between the counselor and the counselee.
A. Necessity of Involvement
1. Sin disintegrates human relationships and human beings. Therefore, the restoration of the image of the Creator in the redeemed believer (Colossians 3:10), will of necessity entail right human relationships among believers. Indeed, in many instance, you will find that an important aspect of counseling will be teaching a fellow Christian how to be a friend, a brother or sister in Christ.
2. God requires love of neighbor – most especially there must be love in the Church. John 13:34. We cannot fulfill what God requires without actually loving our brother or sister in word and deed.
a. Involvement is necessary outworking of the commandments to love one another (John 13:34; 17:22-26).
b. True faith and love entail real, tangible action for a fellow creature (James 2; 1 John 3).
c. Compassion is demonstrated in care for the body and soul of another (Luke 8:40:56; 9:12-27; 2 Cor. 12:28-29; Col 1:3-7; et cetera).
3. God mediates good to us through other human beings (2 Corinthians 1:4; 7:6).
4. The image of God:
a. Human beings were created in the image of a relational God (Genesis 1:26-27; Matt. 11:27; John 1:1-2; 1:18; 3:35; 17:5; et cetera).
b. God communicates within the Trinity: “Let us make man ….” (Gen.1:26; Psalm 2; et cetera).
c. God’s interactions with human beings were communicative (Gen. 1:28-29; 2:16-17; Heb. 1:1-2; et cetera).
d. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) says it all. Man needed God’s word from the outset – even before the fall. His revelatory Word was necessary to understand God, creation, himself, his proper relationships to others, his place and functions in creation and his limitations.”
e. Compassion is created by seeing and thinking of (1) myself before the Lord (Phil. 2:1-11); and (2) the God-created value of other human beings (Heb. 13:3; Rom. 12:10; Lev. 19:14-17; 32); and in expressing the love received from God (Phil. 1:8; 1 John 4:11). In short, it is a necessary outworking of our relationship to God in Jesus Christ.
f. The Spirit’s gifts are distributed to create the interrelationship of the Body of Christ: 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:1-16; Gal. 5:22-23.
2. Since counseling is by definition communication, effective communication will necessarily require involvement: It is necessary to make the communication possible, to make the counselee receptive and to confirm that communication has in fact occurred. Since involvement is essentially communicative, it will require both speaking well and listening well (Eph. 4:29-32; Proverbs 2:21; 5:1; 8:34; 12:16; 16:32; 17:28 18:15; 19:20; 22:17; 26:22-26; 29:11 ; Romans 12:15; 2 Cor. 4:2; James 1:19).
3. Involvement is commanded: Phil. 2:1-4; Heb. 3:13; Rom. 12:15.
B. Involvement is modeled in the Scripture.
1. Modeled by the Lord on Earth: The Gospel accounts repeatedly demonstrate Jesus showing extraordinary degrees of involvement whereby Jesus compassionately entered into the suffering of the world He created (Matt. 11:28-30; Mark 6:34; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:5-18). Perhaps the most powerful of this is where Jesus physically touched the leper prior to healing him (Mark 1:41).
2. Involvement was modeled by the Apostles as set forth in Acts and the Epistles. This is especially shown in the work of Paul (e.g., 1 Thess. 2:7-11).
3. Involvement was modeled throughout Proverbs wherein both the Sage and Wisdom expressed concern and love for the one called to wisdom, demonstrated knowledge of the son’s conduction, the attractiveness of temptation and the weakness of the son.
 For discussion of mechanics of involvement, see, Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Phillipsburgh: P & R Publishing, 2002), 115-198.
 Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Lectures Delivered at Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. and Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1998), 207-211 (discussing the doctrine of the Trinity); Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Originally Published 1872. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 1:444 (summarizing the doctrine of the Trinity); William Greenough Thayer Shedd and Alan W. Gomes, Dogmatic Theology, “First One-Volume Edition (3 Vols. in 1)”–Jacket., 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub., 2003), 169-184 (discussing God has possessing personality).
 Jay Edward Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling: More Than Redemption, Reprint. Originally Published: More Than Redemption. Phillipsburg, N.J. : Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., c1979. (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resource Library, 1986], c1979), 1.
02 Thursday Jan 2014
Posted Biblical Counselingin
2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Samuel 13:20, Biblical Counseling, Colossians 3:10, Colossians 3:16, Galatians 5:22-23, Genesis 3:16, heart, introduction to biblical counseling, Mark 7:14-23, Matthew 28:18-20, Practical Theology, Proverbs 4:23, Romans 10:10, Romans 8:29
This is the first week of an introduction to biblical counseling course I am teaching in my home church. The lecture which accompanies this lesson may be found here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.calvarybiblechurch.org/audio/class/biblical_counseling_2014/20140105.mp3
INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL COUNSELING
I. How Counseling Fits into the Mission of the Church
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)
A. There are three basic aspects of disciple making.
1. Evangelize: Go therefore
2. Baptize: Baptizing them
3. Instruction: Teaching them to observe
B. Instruction: Counseling Consists of Instruction
a. Public: Preaching and teaching
b. Private: Acts 20:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:14
2. By example, e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:1a; 2 Thessalonians 3:7
C. Practical Theology: Counseling is Practical Theology
1. The purpose of instruction: “I might by many other arguments demonstrate this truth to you, but let these suffice; because I would not unwillingly keep you longer from the use and application of the point—application being the life of all teaching” (Thomas Brooks, “A Saints Last Day his Best Day”, in Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 6 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1867), 400.).
2. “Application is the skill by which the doctrine which has been properly drawn from Scripture is handled in ways which are appropriate to the circumstances of the place and time and to the people in the congregation” (William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth, n.d.), 54.)
3. It is built into the nature and use of Scripture: “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV).”
a. Teaching: This is the propositional content. It is the basis upon which all further instruction must rest.
i. Concern for the content of the doctrine is the primary responsibility of the elders of a congregation. We see this in the first charge Paul makes to Timothy, 1Timothy 1:3. It is the last charge Paul makes to Timothy in 1 Timothy (6:20-21; see also, 2 Timothy 4:1-5). It is a necessary attribute of an elder “9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:2 (apt to teach)).
ii. To teach is to incur stricter judgment. James 3:1.
iii. Thus, teaching the propositional content of a passage is a matter of the gravest concern.
iv. Too often counselors have been so quick to give “good advice” that they have misused passages. Be careful.
b. Reproof: It sets the stage for repentance and thus transformation, “Regular and careful study of Scripture builds a foundation of truth that, among other things, exposes sin in a believer’s life with the purpose of bringing correction, confession, renunciation, and obedience” (John F. MacArthur Jr., 2 Timothy, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 157.)
c. Correction: “The third use of Scripture is to provide correction. The terms ‘correcting’ and ‘training’ show a positive use for Scripture. Negatively, the Scripture is helpful for convicting the misguided and disobedient of their errors and restoring them to the right paths. The term ‘correcting,’ used only here in the New Testament, suggests that Scripture helps individuals to restore their doctrine or personal practice to a right state before God. Correction is one means God uses in order to restore people to spiritual positions they have forfeited. This emphasis frequently appears in the wilderness experience of Israel (see Deut 8:2–3, 5)” (Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 237).
d. Training: this just means education. “This illumination upon our path through life comes from the many directives we have in the Scriptures concerning different aspects of life—our use of time, family life, the use of money, the rearing of children, marriage, sexual relations, etc. In all these things, broad principles and guidelines are laid down which help to train us in the life of righteousness”(Peter Williams, Opening up 2 Timothy, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 86).
e. But note that the training for a purpose:
Equipped for every good work could be paraphrased, “enabled to meet all demands of righteousness.” By his life he will affirm the power of the Word to lead men to salvation and to equip them for righteous living and for faithful service to the Lord. When the man of God is himself equipped by the Word, he can then equip the believers under his care. Just as “we are [the Lord’s] workmanship,” Paul explains, we also should be doing His work. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Christ says to all those who belong to Him what He said to the Twelve: “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work” (John 9:4).
D. Counseling may be both public and private
1. If the purpose of Scripture is instruction which leads to change, then all teaching and preaching in the church well done will rightly include an aspect which one could call ‘counseling’.
2. E.g. 1 Corinthians; 1 Peter
3. We, however, tend to think of counseling primarily as private instruction.
E. Counseling is not “good advice”.
1. Counseling is application of the Scripture to one’s particular life. It is not your experience or your good advice. It flows out of exegesis.
2. It is the Word of God which the Holy Spirit uses to transform people. Psalm 119:11
3. It is not word-association. It is a common enough thing. The preacher goes along until he finds the word “sin” or “love” and then launches off into a spiel on sin or love which may all be fine but which has nothing to do with the text. I saw a great example of this, on an Amazon review by Gepraptai on the book Saving Eutychus: How to preach God’s word and keep people awake:
Phil’s comments are right on: “Chappo had a point. (The Preacher) had sanctified a bunch of commonsense suggestions by mixing them with the text of Luke 5 and delivering them with all the authority of Scripture. None of it was wrong. It was just that none of his points were the points Luke was actually making. Sure, Luke mentioned the party – but he wasn’t telling us to have one. It wasn’t God speaking. It was (the Preacher) [emphasis added]”
Do not do this: it is not counseling.
F. Conclusion: Counseling is not an exotic or occasional aspect of the Church’s work. Rightly understood, it takes place in all instruction from evangelism to the conversation of the most mature believers. Now, such counseling will either be done well or poorly. The purpose of training is not to create some “elite” class of believers; but rather to help all the persons in the church to be able to “rightly handle the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).
II. What is the Purpose of the Instruction?
A. This is perhaps the greatest error of Christian counseling.
1. A woman in an unhappy marriage to an unbeliever comes in for counseling. You read to her,
3 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:1–6 (ESV)
2. First, you should never just pluck a sentence or paragraph from the middle of a letter. If you are going to teach, teach it in context. To give her this command as a stand-alone without the appropriate context would be cruel.
3. What is the purpose of this instruction?
4. Will this instruction make her “happy” or give her a “happy marriage”?
5. Some context:
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV)
6. Some more context:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12–13 (ESV)
7. The purpose is not a “happy marriage.”
B. To glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Thomas Watson, in A Body of Divinity writes:
The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. “Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything works to some end and purpose; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be—that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted—is that the end and purpose of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Spirit, who produces a new life in us. We must bring glory to the whole Trinity.
C. From Dr. Ernie Baker’s course notes for “Introduction to Biblical Counseling”:
1. Your primary goal is not to dig into the subconscious, or get proper behavior, or constructive thought patterns, or self-esteem, or well-functioning families; it is to please the Lord; to grow in Christ-likeness (note diagram/1 Cor. 10:31).
2. Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
III. The Nature of our Trouble
A. All our trouble stems from sin: our own, the sin of others against us, and the effects of sin generally. In his book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. writes of “shalom” the Hebrew word usually translated as “peace” but refers to the order and beauty:
We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.
He goes on to explain, “In sum, shalom is God’s design for creation and redemption; sin is blamable human vandalism of these great realities and therefore an affront to their architect and builder” (16). 
B. Sin has brought in guilt and shame.
1. Genesis 3:7
2. We experience shame when we are sinned against. 2 Samuel 13:1-20
C. Sin has disordered our ability to think. Ecclesiastes 9:3 & 10:3; Romans 1:28.
D. Sin has made us unable to rightly use and enjoy the creation. Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.
E. Sin has subjected the creation to futility. Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20; Ecclesiastes 1:2.
F. Sin has subjected us to death (and disease). Genesis 3:19.
G. Sin has separated us from God. Isaiah 59:1-2.
H. Sin has made us into enemies. Genesis 3:16.
I. All our guilt, shame, sorrow comes from sin. Therefore, anything which fails to address sin and remove all its stain and power is too little. “20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house.” 2 Samuel 13:20 (ESV).
IV. The Heart
A. The heart is the locus of our trouble. Mark 7:14-23.
B. Therefore, change must take place at the level of the heart.
C. The heart is the center of the human being, affections, thoughts, desires, et cetera.
1. It is the source of all life (Proverbs 4:23).
2. But it is also the place where one interacts with God, “for with the heart one believes and is justified” (Romans 10:10).
D. Godward change
1. The analogy of the pond atop a hill.
2. The analogy of a swamp.
3. The analogy of a tree.
4. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
5. This is the trouble of the various extra-biblical psychologies: All our experience, our physiology, our circumstances do not per se cause sin. The root of rebellion against God which gives rise to sin is inherent in our very being. Psalm 51:4; Romans 2:1-3:23. Let us assume a “perfect” psychologist who explains why you do X. The most such a psychologist could do is tell why you sin in this way. That would be like explaining why the water runs down the hill in a particular gully as opposed to another place; or how the mosquitoes get from the swamp to your skin. Let us further say that the psychologist could get you to stop performing behavior X. That would be like damming up a particular channel so that the filthy water could flow in a particular direction. But the filth would continue to burble up; the mosquitoes would continue to fly. No change in our mere behavior is sufficient to cause you to glorify and enjoy God. No mere psychology however good can ever be good enough to reach our goal.
6. This change is better, because it is does not depend upon circumstances. Moreover, true godliness is sufficient for any circumstance. Stop and imagine the worst possible counseling trouble – the one you fear discussing with a brother or sister. Now assume that your brother or sister learns to walk in the Spirit and abound with the fruit of the Spirit: what trouble remains? Galatians 5:22-23.
V. The Means of Change
A. The Word of God being used by the Holy Spirit to transform the human heart.
B. This change takes place within the congregation of believers: Christ committed discipleship to the Church and it is his Church that transforms human beings.
C. The power for this transformation comes from union with Christ: it is the result of our union with Christ that we become true worshippers of God. Therefore, our goal is to become conformed to the head (Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10).
VI. An Encouragement and an Admonition
Too many people in the church have the wrong understanding of counseling. First, many people think that counseling is something akin to the work of a professional psychologist: it is not. Counseling is the work of one Christian and a Bible speaking to another Christian with a Bible. This is to be the normal work of the people of God. James 5:16; Hebrews 3:12-13. Therefore, this is work that all Christians are called to. Second, other Christians seeing that this work of admonition and encouragement belongs to all Christians jump to the opposite error and believe this something anyone can do without preparation. That is no more true than that everyone should preach on Sunday morning. The Scripture is a powerful instrument; misused it causes great damage. Thus, while everyone is called to this work in some measure, not everyone has been trained to handle the Scripture sufficiently so as to be able to counsel well.
The balance is perhaps best seen in Colossians 3:16: First, one takes in the Scripture. Only after that does one teach and admonish:
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
Since the Scripture must first work in you and only later in another, I am going to leave you with a homework assignment. I want you to decide on an aspect of your own life which you need to address, such as a besetting sin, a relationship, a difficult affection, such as depression, et cetera. For this first week, I want you to begin by taking a look at your own heart. Begin a temptation journal. Write out when you are tempted. Describe the circumstances of the temptation. Look especially to your thoughts and desires. What do you see is true about you? What are you thinking when it comes to God?
Also – very important – look to see how you explain this to yourself: what excuses or explanations do you give. For example, if your trouble is depression, do you think “God could never forgive my sin?” (Not all depression stems from unrepentant sin. It can have many causes, such as profound loss or even bodily illness.) Or if it is a repeated sin, do you think, “This is a small sin”?
We will continue with this exercise next week.
15 Monday Oct 2012
In Biblical Counseling training, one uses “case studies” which are examples of human beings in the midst of problems. The student then analyzes the problem and seeks to develop a general plan to help. The following are some rough notes which I give to undergraduate students in the introduction to biblical counseling. They certainly do not constitute complete instruction on counseling. Rather, these constitute basic notes to begin to think through the issues raised in counseling:
Some Case Study Help:
I know this is the first time you have had to prepare such a case report: please don’t panic. Think about what you have learned in the class.
You have before you a human being whose life is a mess. This person has two sets of problems: Godward problems and human-problems.
The Godward problems are theological: not trusting in God; not believing that God is sovereign; not believing that God is good; misunderstanding grace: either that God is an angry Father who hopefully will be appeased by Jesus (1 John 2:1), or grace means never having to repent for any sin; etc.
You often can identify the Godward problems by looking at the places where the counselee shows the most trouble and chaos. For example, a man who can’t sleep, you is anxious at work and angry at home may very well lack trust in God.
Your work as a counselor will typically move through a four step process which you can find in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. You first need to teach the counselee sufficiently so that they can see the fact of their problem (thus you would first train the man that God is good, sovereign, etc.). Then you need to bring them to repentance: this is space where they begin to change: show them the need to change, then help them through the change. At this point you then help them to begin to live in a manner which accords with what they have learned (the put-off would be the first two steps, the put-on would be the second two steps).
To train you first must give them Scripture: they need more understood, digested, studied Bible in their hearts so that it can come out through their lives. They need to read, study, meditate upon, memorize, pray about the Bible. They need to renew their mind (Rom. 12:2). DWT works excellently for this purpose.
To support this study, you should use secondary materials, books and sermons, to support and increase their training and study.
Thus, with our hypothetical man you could use Psalms 3 & 4 as the basis of your Bible study and a book like Trusting God by Jerry Bridges.
Counseling problems will almost always entail a defect in one’s theology. Therefore, you must first know and then be able to use materials which can train in doctrine of God. Here are three options: Arthur Pink, The Attributes of God: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm
Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy. There are some copies online. However, the places posting the copies contain lots of other material which I have not reviewed and cannot recommend. You could easily end up with a counselee who starts to read crazy stuff. I did find a study guide for Knowledge of the Holy which I have not vetted. In a quick look it seems generally okay. As a counselor, if you are going to use this book you may very well want to write your study guide – perhaps using one as a model with your own modifications.
Some people are not good readers, or they may drive a lot. For these people, audio is good (both Bible and sermons). Here is a sermon series on the attributes of God which is quite good. http://calvarybiblechurch.org/site/cpage.asp?sec_id=180007650&cpage_id=180020121&secure=&dlyear=0&dlcat=The+Attributes+of+God+-+Psalm+145
For homework, you can have them read the chapter and mark five sentences which were particularly appropriate, or listen to the sermon and do the same. Have them explain how that information affects/corrects their understanding of God and how they should live different in light of such knowledge.
In addition to Godward problems, they will have human-problems. There will be two basic aspects of your work here: First, if they have particular needs which can be met by the church body, love dictates that you help (see James 2 & 1 John 3). The demonstration of love to the counselee will have a profound effect upon their lives. Be careful that you are not indulging sin – but do not hesitate to seek to carry the burden of your brother or sister. If it is an elderly person, clean and repair their house. Look for real problems that can be solved by active love.
God uses the congregation to provide comfort to those in distress. 2 Cor. 2:3-10.
Second, they will need training in the biblical way in which to conduct their relationships. Do not rely upon what you think is best – use the Bible. There are excellent resources on parenting and marriage for biblical counseling. At this point, you probably do not know many books or sermon series, et cetera. For example, on this page you can find classes on parenting and marriage: http://calvarybiblechurch.org/site/default.asp?sec_id=180007745
Find good series like these and use them with your counselees. The classes I posted also come with written handouts.
For this part of your assignment, if you do not know good books on parenting or marriage, you can just write that you will also work through a book on marriage or parenting and leave out the title at this time.
Solving a problem: First, teach, show them what God has said and what they believe & do. Second, repentance: this is where transformation begins. Third, correct: make plain what needs to change. Fourth, train: teach them how to do it. [This is discipleship.]
Always use Scripture as the primary element. Use secondary materials to support, confirm the training.
Godward problems: This is the big problem, it give rise to the other problems. You can usually find this by looking at their problems. The “idol” is a symptom of getting God wrong. They want to feel loved and approved and safe, so she seek a sexually immoral relationship, rather than seek the approval of God.
Human problems: Train them how to rightly live in godly relationships. Have the congregation provide demonstrative love to ease the burden of the counselee.