Category Archive: Home

Apr 17

How To Deal With Anxiety

“Dealing with Anxiety” (Philippians 4:6-9) | Dr. Lou Priolo — recorded at Valleydale Church on March 31, 2019.

 

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 19

Relationships 101

Relationships 101 | Lou Priolo | Selected Scriptures. Recorded at Countryside Bible Church on February 19, 2018.

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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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 23

Receiving and Responding to Reproof

Receiving and Responding to Reproof from Competent to Counsel Int’l on Vimeo.

 

Apr 17

Faithfulness

What comes to your mind when you hear the word faithfulness? How do you picture it? This is one of those words that seems to involve so many things that it’s difficult to grasp. But in reality, it’s quite simple to understand.

Consider the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. I would like to expose three aspects of faithfulness—three elements that can be seen in this parable. Let’s look at verse 14 first.

For it [that is, the kingdom of heaven] is just like a man about to go on a journey and he called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.

The Greek word (paradidomi) means to entrust or commit—to give someone a responsibility. The first thing you (and your counselees) have to understand about faithfulness is that it involves responsibility. God has entrusted you with a variety of specific responsibilities. The responsibilities may be in the form of gifts or abilities or talents, tasks, vocational duties, or ministries. So we all have responsibilities that have been assigned to us by God or indirectly by His agents.

Someone has defined responsibility this way – “knowing and doing what God and others are expecting of me.”[1] Do you know what God and others are expecting of you? With what stewardships have you been entrusted? What responsibilities do you have right now? Ask your counselee whether he sees any of these as his divinely appointed responsibilities.

  • To grow in Christ
  • To be the loving leader of your home
  • To be a helper to your husband
  • To honor and obey your parents
  • To be a faithful employee or employer at work
  • To serve others in ministry
  • To balance your checkbook
  • To actively participate in your local church
  • To study and do your homework
  • To obey and honor your parents

Let’s look next at verse 15.

To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one. Each according to his own ability and he went on his journey.

It is really not ability that counts (because God has given each of us gifts and talents as the text says, according to our abilities; c.f. Romans 12:3-8, James 1:17). Rather, it is what we do with these abilities that God has given us that matters in God’s economy.

Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them and gained five more talents. In the same manner, the one who had received the two talents gained two more, but he who had received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

The words in italics disclose the second building block of faithfulness. It is the principle of accountability. The King James Version renders the phrase “settle accounts with them” (Greek: sunario + logos) as “reconneth with them.” You and I will be held accountable for faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities with which God has entrusted us. This same phrase is translated in Matthew 18:23 (in the parable of the unforgiving servant) as settling accounts—“For this reason, the kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slave.”

Now, one of the most important things, or significant things, about principle number 2 is that without it there would be or could be no principle number 3. And principle number 3 is arguably the best of the three principles. It is the principle of rewards.

You and I will be rewarded according to our faithfulness or according to our unfaithfulness.

And the one who had received five talents came up and brought five more talents saying, “Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.” His master said to him, (here comes the reward) “Well done, you good and faithful slave.” He gets commended. “You were faithful over a few things. I will put you in charge of (note that phrase) many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” The one who had received the two talents came up and said, “Master, you entrusted to me two talents. See, I have gained two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” Good has to do with what I am, including my motives. Faithful has to do with what I do, assuming that my motives are right. So he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Part of our reward is commendation, but there is another part of our reward.  A much more important part of our reward, when we execute our responsibilities faithfully, and really even if we don’t, has to do with additional responsibilities — whether or not we get additional responsibilities.

If you don’t get anything else from this article, please make sure you understand this: Faithfulness involves a future reward based on the fulfillment of past responsibilities. If you faithfully fulfill the responsibilities that God has given you, you will be honored, not only in the sense of commendation, but you will be rewarded with additional responsibilities.[2] And that begins the next phase of the process—the next step up the ladder of being “found faithful” (c.f. 1 Corinthians 4:2).

Reward: (additional) Responsibility

Accountability

Responsibility

If you don’t faithfully fulfill the responsibilities you have been given, you will not be entrusted or rewarded with greater responsibilities. You see, there is a negative side of this principle as well.

Look at verse 24.

The one who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man. Reaping what you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed, and I was afraid and I went away and I hid your talents in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, “You wicked, lazy slave. You knew that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I scattered no seeds. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore, take away the talent from him.” And give it to one, to the one, who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he does not have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness—in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The unfaithful slave received condemnation rather than commendation. Instead of receiving additional responsibilities, the few responsibilities that he had were taken from him (Greek: airo, to remove from).

So here is a working definition of faithfulness extrapolated from the aforementioned passages: Faithfulness is demonstrating to God and others that I can be trusted with more and more responsibilities based on my past performance.

As Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:28b).

When you read the word faithful in your Bible from now on you will know exactly what it means. It means to be trustworthy. It means to be dependable. It means to be reliable. As a rule, whenever you see the word faithfulness, in the Scriptures, you can substitute any one of those synonyms and you will get a pretty good picture of what the word entails.


[1] This definition of responsibility is from the Institute in Basic Life Principles Character Bookshelf Series game titled Character Clues, © 1974, Oak brook, Illinois, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts.

[2] The Greek word for “put you in charge” in verses 21 and 23 (καθίστημι) means “To set in an elevated position, in an office.”

 

Jan 03

Whatever!

A few days ago I was counseling the parents of a teenager who related to me an account of a recent conflict in their home. The conflict ended abruptly when the girl sarcastically said to her father, “Whatever!” and then made a beeline for the door. Her parents were looking to me for advice on how they might respond to this behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 15

Learn from home

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