Apr 19

What to Expect from Biblical Counseling, Pt 2

What to Expect from Biblical Counseling (part two)

Biblical Counseling: What to Expect, which was written to acquaint those who are considering biblical counseling by explaining some of the key elements of the process and to offer them hope that no matter what their problem, Jesus Christ has a solution.  In this article I would like to cover two more of the dozen expectations you may read about in the booklet.

You should expect to see good results from biblical counseling

No matter how difficult your struggle might be, you should have hope that, if you are in Christ, you can change.[1]You should expect to see results because, as a Christian, all the conditions for you to change have been met by God. Of course, if you expect God to bless you, you must be willing to do what the Bible says you, as a Christian, ought to do.

To begin with, you are a renewed person—someone who has been regenerated (quickened) by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God actually liveswithin you, making you capable not only of change, but (as I have just said), of changing in ways that please God. You are able to develop “proven character” (which brings about hope) because the love of God has been poured out within your heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to you (cf. Romans 5:4–6).

Then, there is the fact that you (not to mention your counselor) have been given the sufficient Word of God which contains everything you need for life and godliness (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). “The law of the LORD is perfect (complete), restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7). The Spirit, working through the Word, is the means that God has ordained to bring about lasting change in the hearts and lives of His people. (I will say more about this in a moment.)

And, if that’s not enough, now you also have a counselor who will, presumably be ministering to you through the Word in the power of the Spirit. As a fellow member of the body of Christ, he is a vital part of the hope you should have as you consider the abundant resources God has given you to change. The Bible says that we, as Spirit-filled believers, are all “competent to counsel” one another (Romans 15:14).

Let’s zoom out a bit to consider one last item that virtually all earnest obedientChristian counselees have going for them. The big umbrella under which a Spirit-filled biblical counselor operates is the local church. The local church is a vital part of the process of change. It provides, among other things, biblical teaching, opportunities for corporate worship, loving Christian fellowship, The Lord’s Table, accountability, a variety of role models, prayer support, and church discipline. All of these things contribute greatly to every believer’s sanctification (the transformation into the image of Christ). If you are not regularly attending a Bible-teaching church, your counselor will be encouraging you to do so.

You should expect to gain an eternal perspective about your problem

Your counselor will do his best to help you solve the temporal problem that compelled you to seek his help in first place. But he is obligated to do more than that. He is going to offer you something more than you may have asked for. He is going to help you learn to live in light of eternity. That is, he is going to help you interpret and respond to the problems you face with a view toward heaven—your ultimate home where there will be no problems because you (and everyone around you) will be perfect.

Don’t worry. Your counselor is not going to minimize your problems or somehow spiritualize them by focusing all your attention on “the great by and by.” He really will help you deal with the actual, tangible issues you face in “the nasty now and now”—and he will do so with great specificity and in very concrete terms. It’s just that he knows that because, as followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t live for this life but for the next one, he will want to keep you from placing all of your trust in temporal things (things that can be taken away or destroyed). He will want to help you avoid the misery that comes from placing too much value in the things of this life and not enough on the things of the next one.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Present suffering, if experienced as a result (for the sake) of righteousness, will result in eternal rewards and happiness (cf. Matthew 5:10; 1 Peter 3:14). Your counselor knows that the present cost of being faithful and obedient to Christ will be immeasurably repaid throughout eternity. Not all marriages will be restored, not all of the people in our lives will stop causing us some measure of daily misery, not all of our own struggles with sin will be eradicated in this life, not all of our circumstances will improve as we wish they would because we live this life in a world filled with sin. Your counselor will do his best to refocus your attention on Christ and the glory you will share with Him in heaven. This eternal perspective will give you lasting hope.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13).

So you should expect your counselor to challenge you, in one way or another, to joyfully endure whatever life-long suffering God may choose for you in light of the great eternal hope Christ has set before you as laid out in His Word.

I would like to leave you with one final thought. Please keep in mind that your counselor has many tasks to perform while he is counseling you. He or she must be able to accomplish several things in any given session. Consequently, he may not be able to do all that he would like in any given session. In fact, there may be times when he is so concerned about one part of your problem that he will be temporarily distracted from (or lose sight of) his overall counseling agenda. For that reason, if you believe he is failing to do what has been outlined in this booklet or is not meeting some other expectation that you have, please tell him. He is a fellow sinner, and although he has been trained, he is not immune to the noetic effects of the Fall (the effects of sin on one’s mind). He may need your help, on occasion, as much as you need his.


[1]Or, find an answer to your dilemma. Some people come for counseling not because they need to change their thinking or behavior, but simply because they need to make wise decisions about a particular course of action they must take.

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Feb 08

What to Expect from Biblical Counseling, Pt 1

What to Expect from Biblical Counseling (part one)

My latest title, Biblical Counseling: What to Expect, was written to acquaint counselees with (and prepare them for) entering into the counseling process. This article (and the ones that follow) has been taken (or adapted) from that booklet.

True biblical counseling should reflect the Scriptures at every point (major and minor). That means that every bit of advice you get from your counselor, should have solid biblical support. At any point in the process, you may stop and ask him to explain the biblical basis for his counsel. (Of course, he will likely make every effort to explain the theology behind any direction he gives before you ask.)

It’s not that everything your counselor tells you will be based on a biblical directive (imperative / command), but there should be a firm biblical principle behind everything he or she says. You see, a problem cannot be solved biblically until it is diagnosed in biblical terms. Then, and only then, will your counselor be able to take you to those portions of Scripture that address the solution.

This series of articles (and the booklet from which they have been taken) has been written to introduce you to some of the key elements of the counseling process and to offer you hope that no matter what your problem, Jesus Christ has a solution. So let’s jump in and consider a couple of things you might anticipate as you take your journey down the path of biblical counseling.

You should expect to experience biblical love and compassion.

As the Apostle Paul wrote Timothy: “… the goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5, NASB). A truly biblical counselor is not ultimately seeking his own gain (either by way of exorbitant fees or public acclaim). Rather, he reflects the heart of Jesus, who was moved with compassion to help those in need (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Luke 7:13). Jesus wept over sin and its consequences (Luke 19:41-42; John 11:34-38), as should all of us whose affections are aligned with His.

This type of biblical love and compassion also includes speaking the truth in love. Far from avoiding issues of sin, Jesus and the Apostles dealt directly and specifically with sin—sometimes in startling ways (see for example Matthew 16:23; Galatians 3:1ff). But clearly, the tenor of our Great Counselor’s ministry and that of His Apostles was one of compassion and love.

One of the ways your counselor will express these attitudes toward you is by taking your problems (and the misery associated with them) seriously. He will take you at your word, not assuming that he is the expert and you are naive—totally incapable of and unequipped to understand the exact nature of your problems without his expertise. Rather, he will express 1 Corinthians 13:7 love for you by believing the best about you (putting the best interpretation on the things you tell him until he has evidence to the contrary). This means you will have to be truthful with him, being careful not to conceal the necessary information he needs to make an accurate biblical diagnosis and to help you.

You should expect to receive a biblical interpretation of your problem.

Because your counselor is going to attempt to diagnose your problems biblically, (using biblical nomenclature: “And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words;” 1 Corinthians 2:13, Berean Study Bible), you may be presented with a different way of looking at them—especially if you have been to counselors who have been trained only in psychology.

For example, you will not find words such as “codependency,” “alcoholism,” “paranoia,” “OCD,” “passive aggressive” or even “nervous breakdown” in the Bible. God usually uses different language than man does to describe and categorize these and many other human behaviors. If we don’t recognize God’s way of understanding and classifying our problems, we will miss (be unable able to locate in the Bible) His solutions to those problems. Even His terminology for the non-material parts of man (the organs of the soul) are not the same as those typically found in secular psychology. Terms like “self-image,” “personality type,” “id,” “ego” and superego” lead people in the wrong direction when they try to pinpoint an accurate understanding of man and his problems.

Another benefit of using biblical language (especially if you have been a Christian for any length of time) is that you should be familiar with the diagnostic and therapeutic terms used by your counselor. And if you aren’t, your counselor will be able to help you understand them in language that not only makes sense, but that you can learn more about by studying your Bible.

In my next article, I will cover two or three more things for which you may look forward in the process of biblical counseling. If you would rather not wait until then, please secure your own copy of the booklet by clicking on one of the links below.

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Mar 09

Bitterness available in Czech

Bitterness in CzechoslovakianLou Priolo’s book “Bitterness: The Root That Pollutes” is now available in a Czechoslovakian translation.

Jan 15

Review of Lou’s new book Danger Signs

Dec 17

Make Every Effort

Hear Lou Priolo unpack and apply 2 Peter 1:1-15 in this new podcast from Valleydale Church:

http://valleydale.org/podcast/make-every-effort/

Oct 18

Do you know the Danger Signs?

Use this Danger Signs Tally Sheet to check for the signs that you or your girlfriend/boyfriend believe are potential threats to your marital happiness and success. To be use in conjunction with the e-book version of Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship by Lou Priolo.

Oct 15

Good stuff about Resolving Conflict

Aug 26

New release: Resolving Conflict

Resolving ConflictNow shipping … Resolving Conflict: How To Make, Disturb, and Keep Peace
Often Christians try to avoid conflict, but many of the Bible’s interpersonal exhortations make conflict a necessity. Lou Priolo takes us through the biblical principles of conflict resolution, showing us what we need before, during, and after conflict. He also shares practical steps and advice, including specific talking points to help resolve conflict and journaling ideas for learning from it. Go here to order online.

Jul 11

New release: Faithfulness (No More Excuses)

Faithfulness--No More ExcusesAre you faithful? There are some simple, and perhaps surprising, ways to find out. Biblical counselor Lou Priolo defines faithfulness and provides three tests for assessing your trustworthiness. You will be challenged by how you score! Through instruction and straightforward exercises, he helps you to turn from fear and excuses and embrace your God-given responsibilities. As you are faithful in little things, God will give you increasing opportunities to be faithful with much, much more Go here to order online.

Feb 08

New Chinese translations released

Lou Priolo is pleased to announce new Chinese translations of his Biblical Living Series of booklets.

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