Biblical Counseling

The word “counsel” in Scripture occurs 90 times- in most cases it refers to sharing wisdom to help make godly decisions.  Unfortunately, since the 1960s, the world has used this word to mean getting “professional” help from someone behind a desk.   The church in general has bought into this model.   I disagree.

 I believe that in Scripture God has given us all that we need to live life (2 Timothy 3:16).  This includes dealing with all of life’s problem from small to great.  The goal of biblical counseling is to come alongside a person to give hope, and help give specific biblical application, so that a person can face and deal with their problem in a way that honors God and His Word. (Romans 8:28-29)  It means walking alongside someone through the muck of life’s problems.  It may mean spending time with them as they grow in spiritual disciplines.  Then as we grow in our sanctification we are more able to help others grow in the same way!
As a pastor and chaplain I have the unique opportunity of people coming to me for biblical counseling.  But Scripture is clear that believers are able to counsel – “admonish” – one another. (Romans 15:14), This is not just for pastors. Counseling is really in-depth discipleship.  It may occur at Denny’s, Starbucks or your kitchen table.  Are you prepared to help someone find God’s View when they are stuck in a problem?

This is a serious responsibility.  “So how do you do it,” you ask?  “Should a church have a formal counseling ministry?”  Scripture does not give us specifics.  Every church should be prepared to counsel people.  A formal counseling ministry needs to be established.  This is not so I can do the counseling, but believers within that church body are trained by God’s Word to help others with their challenges.

The examples in Scripture show us that we need to know God’s Word, seek it FIRST, and follow God’s Way’s not Man’s Ways.  “The way that seems right to a man leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Sometimes it takes another person to help us see that we are not thinking God’s way. Then  you are to put off sinful patterns and put on godly ones. (Ephesians 4, Colossians 2).

I recommend the following resources if you want to grow in this area of your Christian walk.

Organizations:
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC)–  I am certified by this organization, and encourage others to attend their conferences and pursue certification. This group was previously known as the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. 
Books:

Christian Counselor’s Manual, Jay Adams
Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams
Introduction to Biblical Counseling, John F. MacArthur Jr., Wayne A. Mack
Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship, John C. Broger
Transformed Into His Likeness: A Handbook for Putting Off Sin and Putting on Righteousness, Armand Tiffe
Biblical Counseling: What to Expect, Lou Priolo

I do caution you to be careful when looking at “self help” books in a Christian bookstore.  Make sure that they understand the gospel message, and they call sin, “sin”.  Often well-intentioned Christians will not find victory because they are not dealing with the sin in their lives.

I do recommend resources from the following:

Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

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