Friday, January 29, 2010
Therein is the major area of controversy in helping people with feelings of depression. Do we treat the feelings with medication and artificially cause the person to feel better, or do we address the root cause of depression itself? Instead of trying to decide whether using antidepressant medication is “right or wrong,” questions might be asked: Which is the better option: dealing with the root cause or covering up the depressive feelings with medication? Which will offer the counselee hope and real solutions to their feelings of depression?
I believe that if there is no basis to prove a medical cause, a wise counselor will go forward with the understanding that the counselee does not have an organic brain disorder, but rather, a spiritual issue.
If you are depressed, your problem may not necessarily be the difficult situation in which you find yourself. Rather, your problems may be caused by a wrong or unbiblical response to that situation. God has provided the means to live in the midst of the trial, but you must avail yourself of His grace.
It is important to understand that rarely does a person go from “problem” to “immobilized.” Depression is a process or a result of continued wrong responses to various situations and repeated wrong thinking.
The (non-organic) depression process can be halted at any point in the progression by correcting unbiblical thinking and replacing it with biblical thinking that honors and glorifies God and restores hope to the one who suffers.
Depression that is non organic can be resolved by examining key spiritual reasons why people experience sorrow without hope. When looking at depression biblically, we must examine the root causes for the way we feel. Whether or not we have a medical diagnosis, there is a critical component that the Bible addresses directly.
From the Bible we can safely determine that essentially we are comprised of two parts—material/organic and immaterial. While there are certainly various diseases can cause or contribute to depression (thyroid condition, uncontrolled diabetes, heart attack to name just a few) if the problem is not proven to originate in the material (organic) part of the person, it must
then originate in the immaterial (non-organic) part of the person. The root cause of non-organic depression is found in the immaterial part of man in what the Bible refers to as your heart.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
These are words I need to be reminded of frequently these days. I am surrounded by the world, and very worldly influences for 8 hours every day at this present time in my life. To my knowledge, there is not one other regenerated person in the whole crew of people I spend my workdays with. I know this is intentional and a huge part of God's sovereign plan for me.
While I know that He as equipped me completely and I lack nothing in the way of the ability to escape the corruption in the world that I live and work in, I am confronted by the stark reality that I am struggling to live out the spiritual reality I know to be true! I see myself slowly, slowly acquiescing to things I would have formerly not said or done. I am not talking about anything horrible or huge, but I am also aware that a person does not arrive at "horrible" and "huge" without first having taken those little steps of compromise.
My daily prayer is that I would glorify Him in all that I say and do and that I would work unto the glory of God. And yet...I am failing.
All reasons to return to the cross. I do believe God is allowing me to experience these brief forays into the mire and muck - sticking my toes in the sludge of the world for me to see how I will fare. God already knows I will fail, but for some reason He wants ME to see it too.
Perhaps I have lived too long in my insulated church world! Maybe I have become prideful and pompous in my heart toward struggling believers, I do not know... What I do know is that because God is allowing it it is good for me. It will be profitable and I will grow and change to be more like Christ as a result.
How do I know this will be the end result? How can I be so certain that I will not dump off the edge and plunge headlong into sin and debauchery? I know because God is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9, 10:13; 2 Thess 3:3; Heb 10:23) and He has promised to present me faultless and blameless before the throne of God (Jude 24)!
I am able to stand alone in the face of ungodly speech and gossip. I am able to stand alone in the face of moral compromise. I am able to stand alone in the face of unkindness and cruelty. My God has thoroughly enabled me to "deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).
My heart is being exposed through all of these temptations and failures! My desire to man-please, fit in, belong, and be a part of the group rather than being apart from the group has at times taken my speech places I must not go.
By God's grace I have been set apart for a holy calling and a life of separation from the world. Sometimes I need a reminder of all I have in Christ, and the marvelous gifts I have been endowed with to overcome my sinful heart's desires and continue to life a righteous life by the wonderful grace of God.
I thank God for these times. I come again to the wonderful cross of Christ, that reminds me I must die to truly live.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Today I am posting a book review of Counsel From the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson (Crossway).
The authors define gospel-centered counseling as "the process of one Christian coming alongside another with words of truth to encourage, admonish, comfort, and help- words drawn from Scripture, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of relationship." (Pg 98)
I cannot think of a more accurate description of what a counseling relationship can and should be!
Fitzpatrick and Johnson carefully lay out the need for the gospel to be the centerpiece in our ministry of soul care. From the opening chapter where we are reminded of our desperate need for redemption and the perfect atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the later chapters in which we are challenged to apply the reality of that work to the core of our being-the heart this book puts the cross on display.
I have been personally blessed by this masterpiece. It does not assume understanding but clearly lays out the need we have for the atoning work of Christ on the cross and the way to live it from that moment forward.
I highly recommend adding this book to your library!
Monday, January 25, 2010
In truth, I could have "lived" all year long for Mom died in Christ and now lives with Him for eternity. I also know that one day I will see her again and together we will worship Him.
I have also had another type of loss in my life in the past year. This loss is among the living. Before I go forward, I want to say that at times I bare my soul here and allow you all to view inside my heart and inside my life. This is one of those times.
To my hearts devastation, I have had to accept the reality that one of my loved ones does not know Christ and is not regenerated. I have suspected and fought the knowledge for some time...but now I will accept and acknowledge the truth.
Why do I post this? Because I know you may be in the same situation. It may be your husband, daughter, son, or parent who you once thought was safe and secure in Christ and you now realize you were wrong. What do you do when that reality comes crashing in on the fantasy you have constructed and all those dreams fly away?
First you accept that repentance and salvation are of God and from God. Those God has chosen will belong to Him in His time. You cannot force someone into salvation, they are called by God and wooed by the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can open the heart and eyes of the unbeliever.
If you realize your husband is unregenerate, you continue to live as a 1 Peter 3 wife, demonstrating the life and love of Christ in how you live more than trying to convince and coerce him to come to Christ.
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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 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
If the unregenerate person is your child and the child lives in your home you will still be able to influence them daily. Your actions and demonstrations of faith will not return to you empty; no matter how deadpan and disinterested your child seems to be please know you are making an impact upon their hearts and minds. They will always remember your unconditional love and caring for them.
If your child no longer lives in your home you can still bless them by keeping in frequent contact with them. The wonders of internet, text messaging, social networking sites and webcams will allow you to be an influence in their lives to some degree. Just as with an unregenerate spouse you cannot whine or nag them into the Kingdom of God.
In all cases a very strong power you have is that of prayer. Pray for their regeneration and pray for their repentance. Pray that God would do whatever is necessary to accomplish His perfect and pleasing will in their lives.
And then, you live your life. This is part of accepting God's sovereignty in your life and in the life of your loved one. You will always love them, and hope always lives until they take their last breath.
Friday, January 22, 2010
God has provided me with many opportunities to undergo this transformation, and those have been in the form of trials and tribulations. I have a dual relationship with trials and this world, I both love and hate them. I hate how I suffer in this world with and over things that have absolutely zero eternal value, but I love how those very same things point me to Christ.
Becoming like Christ is fraught with pain. I am dying. I am dying a little bit every day and death is painful. My flesh, which remains stronger than I could ever believe after 24 years, wants to be my master. My flesh still owns so many of the desires of my heart, so many of my thoughts, beliefs, and desires and these things must be evicted from residing there.
If I was comfortable, and "happy" in this life I would have no desire to change things. I could hum along living life, being satisfied with how things are within me. However, I am not content. I am not happy with the way things are within me. I realize that some (not all) of my reactions to the stresses and trials in my life have been from the fleshy part of me and not at all of the Spirit who lives within me.
Scripture shows me over and over again that adversity can be my friend because it brings me to Christ! Why then, can't I welcome adversity as a friend? Ah because my flesh wants to be happy and comfy. I don't like adversity because it makes me hurt and pain is not something I seek.
The pain has a purpose. The pain reminds me of the changes taking place in my heart and overflowing into my life. The pain brings me closer to Christ who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). The pain of my separation from the trappings of the world comes to be a good thing as the loss of all of them represents a falling away of my fleshly desires and a striving forward of my New Man in Christ.
I have no doubt that He will be victorious in my Life- He promises to be! As in laboring with a child, when I have reached my full potential as I stand before Him the pain I have experienced will be but a faint and foggy memory. I will be glad and thankful in that moment.
These are the things I think upon as I suffer and struggle along the roads of this life. One day, I will be complete.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
We Christians raise our kids to believe in the God of the Bible, we take them to Awana, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School. We put them in Christian school, they memorize Bible verses, and we pray with them and for them from the moment they are conceived. An abundance of them "get saved", "Pray to receive Christ", "ask Jesus into their heart" before they are adults.
So how come so many of our kids reveal through their lives that they have not ever truly made that transition from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-3)? I fear many of us are delusional in our felt beliefs that our children are truly regenerated when so much of the evidence we see points elsewhere.
The hard truth is that being a good Christian parent and raising them "right" guarantees nothing. No one is grandfathered into the kingdom of God, and no one chooses to enter without the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Each of our children must be drawn to God by God and then each of them must decide what they are going to do with this Jesus and the salvation He offers them. Our children have to make our faith their own. They must decide what theological truths they will accept and embrace. Will they become more Reformed or Catholic or Lutheran or Orthodox, or Armenian? Will they decide to believe that sign gifts are for today or that a person can "lose" their salvation?
Our faith is just that- our faith. Our faith leads and guides our children while they are young, but there comes a time when that is just not enough, when our kids have to acquire their own faith with Jesus Christ. Our prayers may protect them and be used by God for seasons of their lives but we cannot promise them our salvation. This walk of faith is something each of our kids has to do alone, with the Lord.
At times it will be difficult to watch them sink under the murky waters of sinful decisions but that is what is sometimes needed for our kids to begin to see their need to grow and change. Their very trials and hardships and questions of faith will help them to better trust Him, even when their questions create more questions than answers and even when they come upon some very dark and lonely periods of time.
While our faith is a beautiful thing, it is no more useful to them than a precious and fragile china tea set. Nice to look at but impractical for our purposes. Real faith is grabbed with both hands and used like that travel coffee mug you may take with you each day. But even that mug is useless unless you fill it up and take it along.
May we never believe that we are enough for our children. May we never believe that our faith is enough for their salvation. May we never protect them from things that will bring them to regeneration through Christ Jesus.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I have a great fear for my more perfectionistic brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems so many of them truly struggle with believing that it is all about Him and not about them. They read the Scriptures and see only the commands and little of the grace!
These folks attempt to perform the right actions and are so deeply affected when they fail or find that at this time in their life they simply cannot do what they feel (believe) that God is asking them to do. This becomes their paramount goal in each day- "to do."
Joy is instantly sucked out of live in both the spiritual and physical sense. The days become one perceived failure after the next and they find depression quickly sets in as they come to the point where they are not even sure they believe what they thought they believed.
My heart is so heavy and burdened for such as these. My desire is to point them back to the cross, but the cross no longer represents freedom and victory to them; it represents failure on their part. It becomes one more thing they cannot understand or make sense of.
Those who suffer in this manner must take both practical and spiritual steps for renewal of body and soul. Physically, a routine must be established that is completed regardless of how they feel. In a vast majority of cases feelings have become an idol and are what rules the persons life. Feelings are to be ruled over by the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the body not the other way around. Some form of physical activity must be initiated and maintained, a sleep schedule put in place and proper eating habits. God designed the body to function in a specific manner and that aspect of a person must be taken into account.
Spiritually they must, must preach truth to themselves. Consistent reminders of what our unchangeable God says in His own inspired Word about who we are in Christ and our position, and about our never ending need for the gospel are vitally important. These desperate hours are designed to bring them back to that great equalizer- the foot of the cross.
Yes, a part of our following Christ is in the doing of things. We are to demonstrate the Christ-life within us through the lives we live and how we impact those around us but that is not the focal point of being a Christ follower. Performing all things Christian can become a god, and an idol of the heart and effectively steal away our love for the Lord and our joy.
Beloved, set aside your personal expectations and rules of performance and return to your first love- Jesus Christ. I do think it is alright to simply rest in Him and allow His grace and love and mercy and acceptance to wash over you and renew your heart and mind. God is in charge of this process in your life, I promise (because HE promises) that you won't miss a thing. Return to the basics of your relationship with Him and find your purpose there.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I am completely dependent on someone else for my salvation. As a beggar I have no means to affect my own regeneration, forgiveness, or justification. I am incapable of accomplishing this in any respect. I had to surrender any belief that I could and I had to submit myself to the plan of someone else. I had to come hat in hand and humbly ask someone to do for me what I could not do and accept that it had cost them everything they had in the process.
Another thing I had to accept as an impoverished beggar was that even the purpose for my life was now not my own! I had different plans and dreams...but because I am a simple beggar who was redeemed out of the pit I am beholden to another, the One who has paid my ransom. I must now do the things that He has determined I would do for this is why He paid my debt, that I might serve Him alone.
The job is hard and often times it brings me sorrow for I am constantly giving up what I would rather be doing for His plan and purpose in each day. I have become sensitive and compassionate to the needs of others often placing my own wants aside for the purpose of serving them and assisting them as they struggle and wrestle with life.
The beggar has no rights and is submissive to the authority of the Master, realizing that everything I have and everything I am is because of Him and I am His. I can lay claim to nothing, not even my next breath...
Because of this, life has changed and I see that my strengths must be subjected to His will and His demands for my time and attention. A driving pursuit for God's righteousness has taken hold as I become more and more committed to honoring my Savior who I find I know so little about. The hunger of my soul is not satisfied with bread and wine, it can only be sated by filling it with Truth and the pure milk of the Word of God.
As a mere beggar I am in constant need of constant grace and mercy from my Benefactor. I must respond in like manner to those who offend and bruise me with hurtful words and actions. I must be able to accept and even to bear the sin of other people for that is what has been demonstrated to me. My ability to do so is an outward indication of the reality of my purchase, my being ransomed. My struggles to do so are an indication that I am in process; that this is a completely new way of life for a beggar who was used to a life of complete selfishness and self-indulgence.
I am learning this new way of life. I am a beggar-turned-princess, orphan-turned-beloved child of the ,King and this new way of life demands a new way of thinking. No longer can I dumpster dive into the filth of the world, I must now eat at the table of royalty. Although I am a beggar I have been washed and cleansed and I must now begin to think and believe that what I am in appearance I am internally.
The changes could lead me to a prideful spirit, but I must maintain humility and never forget I am always at the feet of my Master the King.
My King is not beloved by everyone, in fact some truly hate and despise my Lord. There will be times I will be called upon to make a defense for the changes within me and those that are visible. Not all people will accept that the King would love and accept a beggar such as I. My mere claim to belong to Him will lead some to hate Him all the more, and to hate me! As a grateful beggar I accept that I may be harassed and persecuted and even injured unto death for His Name's sake. I will accept this gratefully.
In all these things I will rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is my reward both now and in eternity!
Matthew 5:3-12 in personal application format
Monday, January 18, 2010
I want to use today's blog to point you to a wonderful blog posting by my friend and co-laborer in the Lord, Dr. Bob Kellemen. He is the founder of RPM Ministries and has written a wonderful blog on The Prayer of Jesus: How to Talk to God.
I thought I would post it here for you (with his permission) and share with you the link to the free Word copy he has on his blog.
I trust you will enjoy this and encourage you to bookmark his blog as one you return to often!
http://www.rpmministries.org/ click on this link and it should take you right there!
I will be back tomorrow with another fresh picking from the grapevine of my mind! Blessings!
The Prayer of Jesus: How to Talk to God (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4)
Your Daily Prayer Guide: “CHRIST”
How to Talk to God: CHRIST
There’s no more important question in life than, “How do I talk to God?”
There’s no better Person to turn to to answer that question than Jesus. In the Lord’s Prayer, or “The Prayer of Jesus,” we learn how to pray in Christ’s school of prayer. The acrostic CHRIST provides a helpful, relevant, practical, biblical outline for learning how to talk to God.
Prepare to Pray: Meditation—“Our Father Which Art in Heaven”
C: Commune with God: Adoration—“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
H: Honor the King: Intercession—“Thy Kingdom Come”
R: Radically Commit: Submission/Direction—“Thy Will Be Done”
I: Invite God-Rescue: Supplication—“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
S: Savor the Savior’s Grace: Confession—“Forgive Us Our Sins”
T: Triumph Over Temptation: Petition—“Lead Us Not Into Temptation”
Confidently Trust God: Glorification—“For Thine Is the Kingdom”
Learning How to Pray in Christ’s School of Prayer
Prepare to Pray: Meditation—“Our Father Which Art in Heaven”
1. Meditate on the perfect fatherly character of God: Our Father in heaven.
2. Contemplate the nature of God’s fatherhood: Our Father of holy love.
3. Reflect on the Body of Christ: Our Father, not only my Father.
4. Enjoy God the Father’s full attention and acceptance: Bask in His fatherly grace.
Commune with God: Adoration—“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
1. Praise God for Who He is: Worship, magnify, exalt, and glorify your heavenly Father.
2. Thank God for what He does: Express your gratitude for all His grace-gifts, for His works.
3. Pray that the whole world would be in awe of God: All the earth grasping, enjoying, and exalting the character (name) of God.
4. Set apart God as the supreme desire of your heart: Let your daily mission statement be to exalt God by enjoying God.
Honor the King: Intercession—“Thy Kingdom Come”
1. Pray for a deepening of God’s rule in your heart: Surrender to God’s governance.
2. Pray for a widening of God’s rule in all people’s hearts: Salvation.
3. Pray for a deepening of God’s rule on planet Earth: Christian living (make a difference).
4. Pray for the soon return of Christ: Second Coming.
5. Pray that you will live for God’s kingdom and not for your own: Total allegiance.
Radically Commit: Submission/Direction—“Thy Will Be Done”
1. Pray for the right pleasure: That everything you do is motivated by the desire to bring God pleasure.
2. Pray for calm assurance: The understanding that God’s glory and your good are inseparable, that the Father’s will is always good and best.
3. Pray for clear discernment: That you will know God’s will for your personal life, family, church, work, community, country, and world.
4. Pray for radical obedience: That God would grant you the courage to do His will.
5. Pray for supernatural power: That God would empower you to obey His will.
6. Pray with brutal honesty: Share the desires of your heart, any confusion, doubts, and perplexity with your heavenly Father.
7. Pray with other-centered focus: That family, church, community, national, and world leaders would know and do God’s will.
Invite God-Rescue: Supplication—“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
1. Confess humbly (Give): Acknowledge your spiritual poverty, admitting that without God you are and have nothing. Pray for the faith to believe that all you need is God and what He chooses to provide.
2. Asks unselfishly (Us, Our): Pray for others and for yourself.
3. Request wisely (This Day, Daily): Pray for today’s needs. Trust God for today’s supply. Ask God to give you nothing more and nothing less than exactly what you need and can handle.
4. Entreat practically (Bread): Pray for physical, material, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual needs. Pray for freedom from worry as you trust God to supply your every need.
Savor the Savior’s Grace: Confession—“Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those Who Have Sinned Against Us”
1. Seek enlightenment: Specifically confess known sins and ask God to reveal hidden sins.
2. Repent humbly: Your debt is immeasurable; His grace is infinite.
3. Enjoy forgiveness: Claim Christ’s forgiveness and acceptance. Your slate is wiped clean!
4. Grant forgiveness: Forgive all those who have hurt you/sinned against you physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.
5. Seek reconciliation: Go to anyone who you have sinned against to restore the relationship.
Triumph Over Temptation: Petition—“Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil”
1. Seek protection: Ask God not to allow Satan even to tempt you to sin.
2. Seek boundaries: Ask God to keep you from situations where you are most prone to sin— your besetting sins, areas of vulnerability, temptations, etc.
3. Seek victory: Ask God to defeat sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil in your life.
4. Seek faith: Ask God to help you to trust His awesome power as your only hope for triumph.
Confidently Trust God: Glorification—“For Thine Is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory Forever, Amen”
1. Trust God (For): Believe that since God is the Almighty, Eternal King that He can answer.
2. Glorify God (Thine): Pray that God will be glorified by your prayers.
Friday, January 15, 2010
In contrast to the secular route, biblical counseling is not devised or contrived by man it has been designed by God.
Because God created us in His image and likeness He knows us better than we know ourselves and He wrote a Book that is useful for application to all aspects of our lives.
We take both the problem and the guilt the counselee may be experiencing seriously and rather than justifying or rationalizing it away, we examine the problem in light of God’s Word and what it says directly or indirectly about the problem.
In light of a lack of medical evidence to prove a person is “sick” we view them as a fallen sinner who has developed sinful habits, and has begun to live for self rather than God’s glory.
We show them the biblical perspective on their behavior and actions and attitudes of the heart.
Contrary to the medical model that saddles a person with a disease or disorder they can never overcome, the Biblical model gives them hope that they can change!
So this is an overview and comparison of some of the counseling philosophies. Keep reading this blog and your understanding will become fuller and these concepts will be fleshed out in greater detail.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
There are some apparent similarities between biblical counseling and other methods. For example: in both Biblical Counseling and Psychology we see stress is a problem, we both agree that behaviors need to change, and talking and listening are big parts of how we “fix” a person or the problem. But just because there are some similarities, that does not justify the use of those methods. We do not have to apply psychological solutions to those problems, nor should we because their understanding of what has caused the problem is based on worldly reason.
Someone once said this, “The basic premise of a presupposition is something that is assumed to be true and forms the basis for succeeding conclusions.” (unknown)
So, if the foundation or the base is faulty, everything based upon it will also be faulty. Such is the case with psychological theories. Medical causes of behavior can be proven in a laboratory. If not proven by tests, organic basis is the only theory.
The Medical Model is very prevalent today in therapy and treatment of behaviors. Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book What If Medicine Won’t Stop the Pain? said that the medical model treats us as though we are a bag of chemicals to be adjusted and manipulated.
This model largely attributes behaviors to a deficiency in chemicals in the brain, and to hormonal imbalances. The solution is to prescribe medications that alter brain chemistry, to relieve the symptoms the patient is experiencing.
This model also labels behaviors as diseases and illnesses without any scientific proof. The proclamations of diseases and disorders are based on every changing theories that even people in their own field cannot agree on. Books written on these topics are numerous and full of contradictory statements and data. Their proof is often based on flawed data and their conclusions are full of statements such as “it is suggested”, “it is hoped”, and “often seems inconsistent.”
Those who practice this model believe that man is essentially a machine, and if we just fix the defective parts, or do a 10,000 mile overhaul the machine will run properly again.
This is one of the fastest growing areas of research and development in the medical field. The arena of mental illness and psychopharmacology is exploding as more and more behaviors are classified as illnesses.
It is frightening what is happening to our children as they are being diagnosed in record numbers with behavioral disorders such as ADD and placed on strong medications to make them behave. There is no scientific or medical basis for these diagnosis as there is no blood testing, x-ray, or any other objective means to prove ADD, depression, anxiety, or even schizophrenia are medically based.
For some of you this may be a shocking revelation as the media has done a superb job convincing people that psychiatry and psychology has the answers to the problems of life. But I assure you, that there is a mountain of evidence that shows otherwise if you only take the time to look.
I do believe that those who promote the medical model mean well. What doctor or therapist wants to cause their patient harm? None that I know of. What they may not realize is that by calling behaviors illness or disease they are placing those behaviors in a class of uncontrollables. They are making behaviors equivalent with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.
They are taking responsibility away from the person, saying that the behavior is not their fault and giving them an excuse to continue on in this lifestyle. In some cases they say that only treatment by an expert can cure them, or teach them to manage the “illness.”But all those who have gone through a treatment program only to return to their previous lifestyle might disagree that the experts have the answer.
So what does work? Check back tomorrow
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Our counseling methodology should be different from secular and integrated counseling methods. The counselee should after spending 15 minutes with you be able to say that no other counseling experience they have had is like this one. They must be able to tell that your counsel is not centered around their esteem, feelings, or their past.
The message from the first prayer uttered must be on God – who is the central focus of life. All our counseling is God-centered. (Jer. 17:7-8, Rom. 12:1-2) My counselee’s hear over and over that it is not about them, it is about God. It is not about their feelings, it is about God’s glory. It is not about worshipping self, it is worship of God.
I stress that there is accountability for our sinful actions and thoughts. We cannot foist responsibility for them off on another person. And we are accountable for change!
Many people want change, but they want the changes to take place in others so they will be happy. Change my husband, change my wife. Our emphasis is on change of heart. We believe that before our actions and words can be glorifying to God, the heart has to be changed to one that seeks after God.
And once the heart undergoes change, then great strides can be made in change of life. We do not encourage life time counseling. Our goal is to help the person understand and implement change on one or two levels and then give them the tools to apply it to all other areas of life.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11.
Salvation in Christ is required for any kind of Biblical counseling. A counselor who does not believe that salvation is necessary would not be on my list of referrals! Because we focus on the inner man and changes at the heart level, and because I believe the Holy Spirit must be present for a person to change and understand the Bible, I require that a referral source must also believe and promote salvation.
Regarding the Bible, I am clear that a mere intellectual assent of the facts of the Bible are not enough, but a relationship with Jesus is necessary. Because it is that relationship that brings the Holy Spirit who is our agent of change.
The Bible is the tool that God uses to heal us. Any counseling that excludes the Word of God is going to fail. The Word of God is the authority of the Christian as a counselor and discipler- not his or her own opinion.
Possessing all this and application of truth to heart and life will bring joy to the counselee and to the counselor!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
When learning something from another person, you have to know what their view of man is. What do they believe about the origins of man, did we evolve? Are we still evolving? Do they believe that certain problems that plague mankind like alcoholism, homosexuality, and gambling are genetic in origin? Do they believe in a literal creation, a literal Christ, the need for a literal Savior?
The reason this is so very important is we give counsel in part from our view of man. One who believes alcoholism is a genetic disease is going to teach how to cope and strategize in order to stay sober and to “manage” something you have no control over because this disease is in your genes.
That is why we want to know how the counselor (the one giving the information) defines the problem. Do they view it Biblically or psychologically? Is it Co-dependency or idolatry; are they dealing with low self-esteem or pride; is it a chemical imbalance or sinful thoughts? This is very important. As the counselor or discipler, you have to know how they define the problem. What is their frame of reference?
The counselee will want to know what the counselor thinks the problem is. We do not promote ourselves as “experts” but the counselee’s may initially see us that way because that is the paradigm that has been set up in society. We promote using the biblical terminology for the psychological diagnosis. It gives the counselee hope and helps them to see that there is a solution to the problem at hand. Unfortunately by the time they get to us, they have tried most of the other ways to “get better” and have found no relief. Most people are very encouraged to hear that the Bible does have a solution to the problems of life they are facing.
We want to be able to clearly define and describe what our goals are for the counselee. They want to know! Many of them come with the only goal of feeling better. The counselor has to clearly communicate to the person that feeling better is not the primary goal of counseling. We are trying to turn them into people who live their lives to glorify God by reorienting their thoughts, beliefs, and desires from those that focus on self, to those that glorify God.
The role of the biblical counselor in this process is different than a secular counselor. Our job is to point them to Christ, to help them understand that Scripture must be applied when it is known, that they are to deny self and follow Jesus.
The secular counselor would typically focus more on how to feel good in the midst of the pain. To scream or vent if angry to reflect the feelings of the counselee back and therefore validate them.
As you can see, these issues are important to both counselor and counselee. You have to be on the same page, have the same understanding about who you are and where you came from. This is not always possible, but you must make clear to the counselee that if he or she consents to counsel with you that you will always be coming from that viewpoint.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Do you know there are over 250 different theories for why we behave the way we do? Every one of those 250 theories is secular in nature. Which means, these theories eliminate God from their reasoning.
In his book “Introductory Psychology” author Jonathan Freedman (source: Introductory Psychology, Jonathan Freedman (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1982), 2 ) says this:
“Psychology is the systematic study of how animals and particularly humans, function. It deals with how they perceive, think, learn, behave, and deal with the environment. It tries to describe and explain every aspect of human activity- simple and complex, external and internal, observable and inferable. The study of certain physical mechanisms and reactions belongs mainly to the fields of biology, physiology, and medicine; and the complex workings of the whole societies are primarily the domain of sociologists and anthropologists. But with these few exceptions, any question that can reasonably be asked about human beings falls within the field of psychology.”
Well this is pretty important statement, essentially putting psychology at the center of human life. What is a little disconcerting to me, is that these theories that are supposed to “reasonably answer any question that can reasonably be asked about human beings” are constantly being revised!
What you are asking for is the basis for their belief. As counselors, we have to try to understand the point of reference the teacher or the counselee is coming from. Is it a theological position, or is it a psychological position? You will learn this is very, very important as you seek to become people-helpers.
Some will say, “I just feel God wants me to…” or “I have a peace about…” and these people base their actions on an entirely unreliable source- which is their feelings. Often they have no Scriptural basis for their actions other than they feel it is what God wants them to do, or they believe God told them to do.
Others will take a logical approach, and base everything on reason. If it makes sense to them, they will buy it, if it does not make sense, they will discard it as irrational and nonsensical. Rationalization and reason are closely related when dealing with a counselee. The Experience and Evidence group bases their beliefs on scientific studies, polling, and data. Their motto is “10,000 people can’t be wrong.”
Those who’s Epistemology is based on Revelation fall into one or two general camps. Those who believe in ongoing revelation from God in dreams, signs, wonders, and those who believe that God has revealed all we need to know in the Bible.
Albert Barnes in his commentary on John 17:17 says that All that God has spoken—that is, all that is contained in the Bible. Is truth. (Source: Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament by Albert Barnes, Parsons Technology, Inc. Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
The Lord Jesus prayed in John 17:17 that through an accurate view of God and of ourselves we might be made holy. He wants us to see things as they are and to see God is pure and holy; and mankind as unable to help himself. That is truth!
In Ps. 19:7 the word “law” means instruction, or precept. And it used in reference to instruction or conduct, and is therefore applied to all that God has commanded to guide us. It is complete as a revelation of divine conduct and complete as a rule of conduct.
With this in mind, it is the position of the Biblical Counselor or Discipler that only the Word of God is acceptable for helping others. It contains truth and represents both God and man in an accurate light.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
If you are going to call yourself a biblical counselor you had better take sin seriously. Please don’t label sin as sickness. If you have spent any time at all reading this blog, you already know tat this is one of my favorite topics!
Sickness can be medically qualified as sickness or disease because it brings about document able, measurable changes in the body’s structure or cells or physiology. The flu is an illness, diabetes is an illness, cancer is an illness, tumors and abnormal growth can be the result or the cause of an illness. In any of these cases, we treat the illness, remove the tumor, destroy the cancer.
But emotions are not organs, feelings are not tangible, thoughts are not made up of cells and do not have physiology. These things cannot become sick in the medical sense of the word. Do not get intimidated into labeling sin as sickness!
Society is at the bidding of psychopharmacology and make no mistake, their goal is to label sin as sickness. They have already mislabeled and relabeled bad feelings, bad or dead emotions, and sinful thoughts as illnesses or diseases. This has been done without any scientific proof that is measurable, reproducible, or reliable. These are theories being presented as fact even though they cannot be substantiated in any way scientifically.
As biblical counselors we do not deny the existence or organic brain disorders or emotional problems that are brought on through various means such as head injury or trauma, drug use, chemotherapy, or resulting from true abnormal physiology. It would be foolish to deny that there are true medical abnormalities that have as a side effect emotional problems. The approach in this case is to treat the cause of the abnormality and then the resulting emotional issues that were brought on by that abnormality will be resolved as well.
We have many counselee’s that come to us with a diagnosis code for an emotional or mental disorder. What we have found is that when the counselee understands and believes what the Bible says about their thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behavior and then they put into practice the appropriate changes, these supposed illnesses go away.
Don’t be afraid to treat sin as sin, regardless of the diagnosis code or medical terminology they come in with. Even with a legitimate mental illness the counselee will benefit from heart change and mind renewal. We are qualified to counsel when we have high expectations of our counselee's for change. We expect that they will be active and implement the changes we suggest. This applies to you and me too. I heard this once at a training seminar: "The best counselor, is a good counselee." Counsel yourself- daily!
Monday, January 4, 2010
You are qualified to be a biblical counselor if you have a desire to help people. There is undoubtedly something different about people helpers. Many are described as having gifts of mercy, encouragement, discernment, and compassion. Others are servants and givers, and still others are truth tellers who desire to redirect the sheep that have wandered off the path.
There are some personal requirements for those who desire to restore others in addition to what has already been said in the previous posts. Restoration must be done with affectionate admonition because included in the greatest imperative of Jesus Christ was to love one another. Our love is to be sacrificial for those we counsel. Our instruction must be covered in prayer and faithful to the text of Scripture we choose. We must be wary of the “what it means to me” method of hermeneutics.
Our attempts to restore must be presented in a spirit of meekness, with a kind and patient heart. Many of the people we meet with have never heard this before and while what you say will be plain to you it may not be to them. Much of the church is very psychologized and is accustomed to seeker driven theology that does not emphasize the disastrous role of sin in our lives. Patience is required as you may explain the same truth over and over as you help them to grasp the truth.
There is occasionally a temptation to become angry or impatient with them, especially if they tend to make the same errors repeatedly. There are other more productive steps to take in this case that will reveal the true issue behind the repeated failures. You will see that it is usually not worth it to rebuke this counselee in anger or display a harsh attitude toward them.
Also remember to consider yourself as you teach, rebuke, correct and train others. Some of the best counseling that takes place in my office is happening to me! Galatians 6 tells me to be very careful about this business of discipling others because it is so very easy to become prideful in the process. Think about name brand pastors who were involved in counseling and are now divorced or have scandal attached to their names because of a hard fall. They said it could never happen to them, they would not, could not ever sin like the other guy! The reality is that you and I are only one thought away from acting on the worst of sins.
We must examine ourselves honestly in the light of Scripture. If you have a tendency to be critical it will serve you well and hurt you as a Biblical Counselor. Discernment is of course crucial, but beware that you don’t become strictly a fault finder. If you are blunt or pointed in speech it is easy to be misunderstood as harsh and uncaring. Endeavor to be loving in dealing with people.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Some of the changes I already know will be exciting ones! Biblical Counseling for Women will be undergoing a few alterations this year and the result will be a larger and more vibrant ministry for you!
I plan to continue speaking engagements where ever I am asked to go, promoting the life changing reality of genuine heart change. I hope to finish all those manuscripts I have begun in the past year and to get out of the self-publishing business and find a "real" publisher for the material.
2010 will herald the launch of Reigning Grace Counseling Center!
RGCC will offer as a part of our services a biblical approach to overcoming addictions of all kinds- drugs, alcohol, food, shopping/spending, sex, and gambling. This will not be a 12 step program, but real help and real hope to overcome these idols of the heart that hold so many captive. We will also offer biblical counseling for all the other issues of life such as depression, anxiety, fear, marriage and family and more. We will have male and female counselors to serve everyone who seeks help.
RGCC will also offer training for those who wish to become biblical counselors and disciplers. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, our training can be taken on line as well as in person for those local folks.
BC4Women will become an arm of this new counseling center in the months to come but you can be sure that a huge focus of RGCC will be an emphasis on the hearts and lives of women for that is my passion!
What you can do: PRAY for me. All of this does not go unnoticed by the enemy of our souls. Discouragement abounds when trying to make headway into the dominion of darkness. Make no mistake, the world is not friendly to biblical counseling either.
PRAY for my team as we get RGCC up and running. There are many details and things to be worked out and we ask for a unified spirit, centering on bringing glory to God as we go through this process.
PRAY for those who are seeking biblical change to come to RGCC. We are well equipped to address the heart level issues our counselee's will bring.
At some point, we will become a non-profit organization. We would never turn away donations of any amount, pray about this as well.
2010 looks to be an exciting year for BC4Women! Your readership has taken us close to 10,000 hits on this blog something I never dared to dream would happen. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who come so faithfully to this site and suggest it to your friends and loved ones. Those of you who comment on the postings bless me in ways you may never know on this side of eternity. There are days when I am wondering if I am making a difference (discouragement) and then I see that one of you has posted a comment to a blog posting. I read every one of them myself!
May God richly and abundantly bless you and yours in this new year.
For the glory of God alone,