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A BIBLICAL BASIS FOR MINISTERIAL COUNSELING

by Dan Flournoy

Some question the minister's role as counselor. However, it is not a matter of whether or not the preacher will counsel others, it is a matter of how well he will counsel others. Counsel is simply advice and people will naturally come to the preacher and ask his opinion as to how to solve their problems.

I am not a professional counselor. I am simply a preacher of the gospel who has been called upon for advice over three decades of ministry. As long as the church is made up of human beings there will be problems that need solutions.

We live in a complex world filled with stress and tension. A careful study of the Bible reveals that these are not new, but in reality common to all men in every age. Consider the problems faced by Job, David, Elijah, etc. As Job observed, "Man, that is born of a woman, Is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job. 14:1). The question is, when people bring us their problems and ask for our help, what kind of help will we give?

Consider these passages that give us a biblical basis for counseling those who are seeking help with spiritual problems:

"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous..." (1 Pet 3:8).

"Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish (counsel-df) one another" (Rom 15:14).

"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Th 5:23).

These, as well as many other passages teach us to be attentive to the needs of others. Each person is of composite nature, spirit, body and soul. Since God is the creator, He surely knows our make up. His word is the best guide for solving the problems of daily living. It is up to each person to make the application of the Word to life. Sometimes it is necessary to solicit the help of others, i.e. a preacher or counselor. When asked if he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian man answered, "how can I unless some man guides me" (Acts 8:31). In the same way, some need the help of others in handling their problems.

Counseling by a minister of the Gospel or another Christian is simply the attempt to help others with the problems encountered in daily living (cf. Gal. 6:1-2). Giving such aid is certainly a Biblical concept.


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Editor's Note:One area of counseling has to do with "anger management." Often relationships are fractured because of uncontrolled anger. While anger in itself is not a sin (Ephesians 4:26) it can become sinful when it is not handled properly. Please consider this article regarding anger. We will post articles in the future dealing with this problem.

WHO'S THE BOSS?

by Dan Flournoy

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Prov 16:32)
.

Who is the boss in your life? Some are proud when they have gained a position in life where they can set their own hours and say, "I am my own boss." But who really rules your life? Are you really in control of your thinking, your temper, your words? This is what really determines "who's the boss."

History gives a prominent place to brave soldiers who have fought valiantly and demonstrated courage in time of war. A general who is able to capture a city held by the enemy is held in high regard. However, God considers one who is able to control his spirit (attitude) greater than a mighty military hero. Citations are won on the field of battle, but the real struggle is of the mind...in the depths of the soul. Some may conquer kingdoms and control cities, but the one who rules his own heart, controls his speech and conquers his spirit is the real hero according to God's word.

How easily we become entangled in a quarrel. It is sometimes difficult to cope with insecure, hostile and aggressive individuals. Contention can overwhelm us as a storm. We must take care lest the flood gates of passion flood our minds with hateful thoughts and our mouths pour forth angry words. Remember, "The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts" (Prov 17:14).

Our thoughts are the fountain of life, therefore the wise man, Solomon, said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov 4:23). It is impossible for one to have a pure life who does not control his thinking. Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." ("Mat 15:19-20).

One can and must control his temper. James gives this timely admonition: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). By controlling our spirit we control our thinking. By controlling our thinking, we control our words.

In gaining and maintaining control over our spirit (attitude/temper), we must first fully surrender our will to God. Secondly, we must drive evil thoughts from our hearts by letting the word of Christ richly dwell in us (Colossians 3:16). Thirdly, we must continually pray for strength to overcome anger and truly be the ruler over our spirit.

--Dan Flournoy

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Learning About Depression

by Randy Mashburn*


That hackneyed phrase "shocked disbelief" would best describe my feelings that night as I sat on my hospital bed and heard my doctor tell me that I was suffering from depression. In fact, he used the term "deep depression." It certainly was not the reason for my three-day stay in the hospital. I had only gone in for some tests and now this physician had the gall to tell me I was suffering from depression!

The revelation was made straightforwardly by my doctor and it was a bolt out of the blue to me. He lingered and listened as I poured out my emotions, wept, and tried to come to grips with this new struggle that I didn't even realize I had been fighting. But when he began to describe what depression is, it all began to fit. I had always had this picture of myself as competent, in charge, and perfectly able to cope. Yet that evening I began to see that my ways of coping were dragging me down physically and emotionally. Indeed, the depression had long since set in and all the time I had not even considered having a very low emotional state. Wasn't I always smiling at people and didn't I try to cheer others up? Problems, yes, but nothing sever, I thought.

The Preacher is Depressed?

It is bad enough for the "everyday" person to accept that something like depression is a problem to him, but when the person is a preacher it is really difficult to admit.

As a preacher you are the person to whom many people look for strength, encouragement, patience, power, advice, and a host of other qualities which spring from a strong character. How can people respect you if you admit that you have a problem? (I found most folks understanding and supportive.) It is a wound to the ego to resign yourself to the fact of "having a problem." But it is not the end of the world. Nor was it the end of my ministry.

Depression is not mental disease, leprosy, alcoholism, or even drug addiction. In fact, depression happens to everyone. But to some it becomes a more severe or lasting problem. Depression may come because of loneliness, a broken love affair, loss of a loved one, or prolonged problems. Stress has a great deal to do with becoming depressed, and stress is a big part of the modern lifestyle. "Burnout" and stress are close neighbors.

Being a preacher, in fact, is quite stressful. Forget the work you see him so every week and realize that the preacher struggles with apathy in the pew, lack of visible progress in the church, contentious church members, brotherhood issues, fear of being labeled either a "liberal" or a "right winger" and of course, he must present the appearance of being dynamic, educated, friendly, jovial, a good family leader, successful, zealous but not fanatical, and supportive. And if you think this is easy your are welcome to walk in his moccasins for a full moon!

If i, as a preacher, can admit to having depression you can too! And if you suffer from it you must admit to it and then battle to overcome it.

Finding Out About Yourself

The first thing which must be dealt with in depression is your own feelings. Depression brings down our spirit. It works on our moods, our frustrations, our angers, and our bitterness. Those feelings make us prime candidates for depression to move in. And we all have those feelings.

It may be observed, however, that depression hides our feelings from us. It did in my case. I lost touch with "what was eating me." My frustrations and anger were turned inward. The bitterness began to brew. And the need to continue to function and not cave in to those feelings make the problem all the more difficult.

You may have some trouble detecting depression in yourself. Don't be deluded. Get some things out in the open with yourself. Why do you feel tired all the time? Are there certain tasks which you just refuse to do? Are your emotions raw and on edge? Do you have stomach problems? Are you not sleeping well? Do you withdraw from others and become uncomunicating? Some of these may apply to you. If they are a problem admit it to yourself, then seek some advice. Your physician may help you with the problem, or a psychologist or counselor may help. Realize that this is a problem which does require help!

Finding Out About Depression

The next step is to find out what depression is. I have already pointed out some things it is not. Shame does not attach itself to this malady. No one is immune. And it is serious. The rash of teenage suicide in our country may well have much to do with depression. Many are not mature enough to cope with this serious problem. That's how serious this matter is if it is not faced.

It must be stressed that you must know your enemy and how he attacks before you can overcome him. If depression could be your enemy, find out what he is like. You could possibly find descriptive literature in your doctor's office, discuss the matter with your physician. He is on the firing line with it constantly and knows what to look for. Call your local mental health association and ask about literature. Write the National Mental Health Association and ask for publications. Dr. Tim LaHaye has written a helpful book entitled "How to Win Over Depression."

Some people actually read about a disease and believe falsely that they are now its victims! Don't do that, but if the warning signs are present do explore the possibility.

More Symptoms

Naturally, if you suffer from joylessness and are constantly in tears over what you judge to be a sad situation in life you are depressed. But also watch out for hostility, especially if your anger is turn inward. If you are prone to think "I hate myself" or something akin to that, you are headed for "the pits."

Keep a check on your irritatbility. If you have a short fuse or get agitated easily it may be sign of something deep causing problems. Also, don't let yourself fall into the trap of anxiety and fear. If you use any little excuse to worry, depression may be below the surface.

Apathy and lethargy are two allies of depression. If you can't get interested in your favorite pastime and activities, or if your productiveness has diminished you may be headed for a dark mood.

Several physical ailments may attend depression. Watch out for stomach trouble, weakness, tightening in the chest, breathing difficulties, tension headaches, even too much perspiration. Any of these may signal other things, but coupled with the "blues," worry, stress, etc., they may be pointing to depression.

Later Articles

In this article I have tried to deal with my feelings about having depression and my findings about this malady. In later articles I will deal with living with depression and its spiritual meanings.

Depression robs us of the joy our Lord intended us to experience in him. Therefore, it is a spiritual problem. The spiritual must, in fact, be a part of the system which copes with this age-old discomfort of mankind.

"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).


*About the Author

Randy Mashburn is a native of Dallas, Texas. He is a 1966 graduate of Oklahoma Christian College and has also done graduate work in Bible. Randy has preached for churches in Texas and Oklahoma. Although he is now in secular work he continues to be a faithful proclaimer of the gospel. He and his wife Kathleen worship with the Belt Line Road church in Irving, Texas where Randy teaches a Sunday morning Adult Bible Class.

We appreciate his giving us permission to use his excellent article, first published in VOICE OF FREEDOM, April, 1985.

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  • Modern Psychology and the Bible

    by Wayne Jackson
    Christian Courier: Archives
    Wednesday, January 30, 2002

    Exactly what is “psychology” and how does this area of interest relate to the Bible?

    For the past several decades, “psychology” has been a popular theme in American society. Countless students become “psychology majors” as they matriculate through school. The Yellow Pages of the phone book are filled with listings for psychologists and psychiatrists. For many, it is the “in” thing to have a therapist. Exactly what is “psychology,” and how does this area of interest relate to the Bible?

    Psychology Defined

    Psychology may be defined in two very different ways – depending upon whether or not one is approaching the topic from the biblical vantage point, or from the humanistic viewpoint. The humanist, i.e., one who considers man to be the measure of all things, with no need for belief in a supreme Being, suggests that psychology is “the study of human and animal behavior.” (We will probe this concept additionally later.) “Psychiatry,” a related discipline, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems.

    The term “psychology” actually derives from the Greek root, psyche (soul), and pertains, therefore, to a study of the soul (or spirit) of man.

    One may affirm with confidence, that no “psychological” theory can benefit man that fails to consider the “soul” aspect. This would include such issues as:

    1. Does the human being have a soul?
    2. If so, whence the origin of that soul?
    3. What is the nature of the human soul?
    4. What is the purpose of man’s soul?
    5. Finally, what lies ahead as the ultimate destiny of the soul?

    Man, the Soul Creature

    In the balance of this article we propose to highlight several glaring contrasts between biblical psychology and the psychology – falsely-called – that so dominates our modern culture.

    There is a vast, unbridgeable chasm that exists between valid psychology and that which proceeds from a humanistic ideology. Let us probe some of the various questions just raised.

    First, does the human being possess a soul? Logic demands, and the Bible affirms, that there is an entity within each human that sets him or her apart from all other biological creatures. This entity is the soul.

    One atheist, Julian Huxley, has even authored a book titled, The Uniqueness of Man, in which he acknowledged that, since the days of Darwin, when mankind was viewed strictly in animalistic terms, the “man-animal gap” has been “broadening” (Huxley, 3). By that he meant that it is becoming increasingly difficult to view human beings as mere animals.

    Another writer says that “...the very fact of human personality carries metaphysical overtones. Man’s psychological nature suggests something transcendent of which the psyche is but a partial reflection” (Progoff, 256).

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote:

    “Either we have an immortal soul, or we have not. If we have not, we are beasts; the first and wisest of beasts it may be; but still beasts. We only differ in degree and not in kind; just as the elephant differs from the slug. But by the concession of the materialists we are not the same kind as beasts; and this also we say from our own consciousness....it must be the possession of the soul that makes the difference” (Mead, 416-17).

    Second, if we have a soul, what is its nature? Those who accept the Scriptures as the Word of God are bound to acknowledge that human beings possess an inward essence (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16) known as the “soul.” Initially, let us observe that the term “soul” is found in at least three senses in scripture.

    “Soul” is sometimes employed as a synecdoche (the part for the whole) to designate the entire person. Eight “souls” were saved in Noah’s ark (1 Pet. 3:20). Every “soul” should submit to the civil authorities (Rom. 13:1), when such are not demanding a compromise of Christian principles (cf. Acts 5:29).

    Additionally, the “soul” can denote biological life. In the Old Testament, all living creatures are said to possess “soul” (Gen. 1:30. Nephesh is the Hebrew term; the Greek equivalent is psyche, LXX). During a dangerous shipwreck en route to Rome, Paul informed his shipmates that though the vessel would be destroyed, there would be no loss of “life” (psyche). He was referring to their physical lives.

    Finally, and most significantly, is the use of psyche to designate that part of the human being that is in the very “image” of God (Gen. 1:26). In this instance psyche is the same as “the spirit” (pneuma). To this component of mankind various qualities are attributed. Consider, for example, the following:

    1. The “soul” cannot be destroyed by the termination of physical life. “And do not fear them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul...” (Mt. 10:28). Similarly, the “spirit” is said to be characterized by an “incorruptible” nature (1 Pet. 3:4).
    2. The psyche is capable of possessing knowledge. David declared: “I will give thanks unto you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are your works; and that my soul knows right well” (Psa. 139:14). In the New Testament, Paul rhetorically asks: “For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him” (1 Cor. 2:11).
    3. The psyche is an entity of emotion. In one of his defenses, the suffering Job argued that “[his] soul grieved for the needy” (30:25). Similarly, the prophet Daniel declared: “My spirit was grieved in the midst of my body” (7:15). As the Lord Jesus once contemplated the prospect of his impending death, he said: “Now is my soul troubled” (Jn. 12:27). Later, the apostle John would write: “[H]e was troubled in the spirit...” (13:21).

    In modern humanistic “psychology,” however, none of these matters are considered, and therein lies the worthlessness of the system. Humanism sees the universe as consisting solely of matter; soul does not exist.

    Can one be a true “psychologist” who does not even believe that human beings have souls? It is not without significance that the founders of modern psychology were men whose chief interests were in material or physical phenomena, e.g., chemistry, physics, and physiology (Cosgrove, 28).

    Responsibility to the Creator

    One of the underlying tenants of modern psychology is a skepticism about the existence of a supreme Being to whom man ultimately is accountable. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), known as the founder of psychoanalysis, was a tremendously significant figure in the field of psychology. His influence permeated the educational field in many ways. Freud was an atheist who contended that religion is but an “illusion.” He argued that early man did not understand the material forces of nature. Hence, out of that frustration, our ancestors felt “the need to make tolerable the helplessness of man.” As a result, they “personified the forces of nature,” and endowed them with qualities that reflected a “father-longing” (30,32,38).

    Other leading dignitaries in the field also had atheistic inclinations. John Dewey (1859-1952), who exerted a vast influence over a number of disciplines (including psychology), and B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), a leading advocate of “behaviorism,” both were signatories of the infamous Humanist Manifestos, which utterly repudiated faith in God. Carl Rogers (1902-1987), prominent for “client-centered” therapy, was quite religious in his early years; eventually, though, he leased his brain to skepticism.

    Here is a very important point. When men repudiate an awareness of the very Creator who designed them, they cannot possibly have a view of humankind that is normal and conducive to mental soundness. Humanistic psychology (which is the basis of virtually all modern psychology) is, therefore, bogus.

    And yet many, who profess a reverence for Christianity, are mesmerized by the theories of these men. One writer, for instance, in glowing language, says: “Carl Rogers seems to have brought a lot of God’s truth to light by discovering some of God’s principles for healthy human behavior” (Kirwan, 60). More on this later.

    Evolutionary Pre-suppositions

    As we mentioned earlier, modern psychology is generally defined as the study of “human and animal behavior.” This very definition should be a “red flag” signal that we are talking about a school of thought that is grounded in evolutionary dogma. Dr. Paul W. Leithart has written: “All traditional psychiatry rests on two errors: 1) The acceptance of evolution; 2) Secular humanism” (8).

    This point can be amply demonstrated; Charles H. Judd wrote:

    “If ... psychology is to gain a complete understanding of human nature, it must take into account the findings of the science of biology, which traces man’s bodily structures and some of his traits back to remote origins in the lower forms of animal life” (15).

    One writer, in a book titled, Apes, Men, and Language, stated: “Darwin has provided the basis for a paradigm that might explain both human psychology and human behavior in terms of man’s continuity with the rest of nature...” (Linden, 41).

    After much research regarding this matter, Prof. Raymond Surburg concluded:

    “The evolutionistic influence on modern psychology must be traced back to Darwin’s genetic approach to psychological problems or to his argument that man evolved from lower animal forms. It was his suggestion that many human expressions of emotion are merely continuations of actions useful in the animal, e.g., the sneer is a continuation of the animals’ preparation to bite. A lengthy comparison of the mental powers of man and the lower animals was made by Darwin, who believed that animals showed evidence of imitation, curiosity, imagination, and even of reason. Darwin’s genetic approach was extended to the study of animal, child, and racial psychology by a number of psychologists...” (184).

    If modern humanistic psychology is grounded in Darwinism – and clearly it is – then the various theories that arise from this presupposition are as false as the doctrine of evolutionism itself.

    Human Conduct

    Psychological theory plays a significant role in either:

    1. explaining man’s conduct, or,
    2. in recommending human activity.

    And herein lies one of the dangers.

    Reflect for a moment on these two points.

    First, for example, Sigmund Freud, and those who were influenced by him, argued that the “sex drive” is the primary force of all emotional life. This suggests that man is but a biological machine driven by the sex urge, which implies that such a dominating “instinct” leaves little, if any, room in man for the exercise of will and the expression of moral choices.

    This is why, more and more, we are hearing the refrain that human beings personally are not at fault for their aberrant conduct. We simply can’t help what we do, it is alleged. For a further consideration of this point, see my book, The Bible & Mental Health (89-96).

    Second, modern psychology not only attempts to rationalize man’s behavior with mechanistic suppositions, frequently, it actually encourages wrong activities.

    Earlier we mentioned the name of Carl Rogers. Rogers was a leader in the “humanistic revolution” in psychology. He became popular for his “client-centered” approach to therapy. Observe the following quotation, and how radically at variance it is with biblical morality.

    “It has seemed clear ... that when the counselor perceives and accepts the client as he is, when he lays aside all evaluation and enters into the perceptional frame of reference of the client, he frees the client to explore his life and experience anew, frees him to perceive in that experience new meanings and new goals. But is the therapist willing to give the client full freedom as to outcomes? Is he genuinely willing for the client to organize and direct his life? Is he willing for him to choose goals that are social or antisocial, moral or immoral? If not, it seems doubtful that therapy will be a profound experience for the client .... To me it appears that only as the therapist is completely willing that any outcome, any direction, may be chosen – only then does he realize the vital strength of the capacity and potentiality of the individual for constructive action” (48-49).

    Anyone remotely cognizant with New Testament ethics can perceive how destructive the Rogerian method is.

    A Summary

    As we conclude this brief survey of humanistic psychology, surely it has become evident to every reader who regards the Bible as a divine revelation, that there is a vast difference between modern, humanistic “psychology,” and the wholesome mental health principles that abound in the Bible. Think about some of the vivid contrasts.

    1. Humanistic psychology alleges that the personhood of man can be explained solely in terms of a materialistic substance. But both the Bible and common sense affirm that there is more to man than matter. His self-awareness, conscience, emotions, ability to reason, aesthetic sensitivity, etc., all argue that “humanness” is far more than mere molecules in motion.
    2. Modern psychology asserts that human conduct is the result of impersonal forces (environment) that have acted upon our species over eons of time. We are the products of time and chance. Ultimately, therefore, there is no such thing as “good” or “evil.” Traditional psychology is committed to “utter neutrality” in matters of morality (Liebman, 180-81).

    The Humanist Manifestos I, II asserts: “Ethics is automous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction” (17). This means that man is subject to no higher moral law than what he himself determines. Were that the case, there could never be a “situation” during which one could do wrong! That is precisely the position argued by atheist Jean Paul Sartre. He contended that whatever one choses to do is right; value is attached to the choice itself so that “...we can never choose evil” (279).

    By way of vivid contrast, the Bible teaches that human conduct is the result of the exercise of man’s free will, and that bad choices, i.e., a violation of the law of God, as made known in the objective revelation of sacred scripture, have resulted in the numerous problems that afflict the human race today. “God made man upright; but they have sought out many devices” (Eccl. 7:29).

    1. Traditional psychology contends that man’s religious inclination (which, incidentally, is universal) is merely the result of an ignorant personification of the inexplicable forces of nature, endowing them with the “father” symbolism. But, the Bible teaches that there is a real Heavenly Father (Mt. 6:9), who genuinely cares for the human family, and who desires to rescue it from the consequences of its rebellion (Jn. 3:16).
    2. Modern psychology declares that since man is an evolved animal, the key to understanding his personality is to be discovered in studying animal behavior. In opposition, the Bible affirms that mankind is separate entirely from the animal kingdom, and only humans possess personhood.
    3. Secular psychology suggests there is no objective source of information to define the nature of human difficulties, and to address the remedy for these problems. The answers to mental ills, it is said, lie within the person. But, the Bible contends the way of man is not within himself; it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23).

    Moreover, the objective source of remedy is the divine revelation of scripture (1 Cor. 2:6ff), amply documented by a wide variety of evidences. These inspired documents are able to satisfy completely every genuine need of the human mind (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    Conclusion

    The fact of the matter is this: the reputation of humanistic psychology/psychiatry these days is somewhere between that of the alchemist and the snake-oil salesman.

    Sometime back, TIME magazine carried a major article titled: “Psychiatry’s Depression.” Dr. E.F. Torrey, a psychiatrist, has written a book dubbed: The Death of Psychiatry. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York, authored the shocking volume: The Myth of Mental Illness (1960), and O. Hobart Mowrer, an atheist who served as President of the American Psychological Association, produced a work called: The Crisis in Psychology and Religion (1962) in which he challenged the entire field of psychiatry for its dependence upon Freudian premises (see Adams, xvi).

    The more one reflects upon the presuppositions of modern, humanistic psychology, the more he is inclined to think that Lucy, of the Charlie Brown comic strip, was overcharging when she gave counseling sessions for five cents!


    SOURCES

    Adams, Jay (1970), Competent to Counsel (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed).

    Cosgrove, Mark (1979), Psychology Gone Awry (
    Grand Rapids: Zondervan).

    Freud, Sigmund (1949), The Future Of An Illusion (
    New York: Liveright Publishing).

    Humanist Manifestos I & II (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1973).

    Huxley, Julian (1941), The Uniqueness of Man (
    London: Chatto & Windus).

    Jackson,
    Wayne (1998), The Bible & Mental Health (Stockton, CA: Courier Publications).

    Judd, Charles H. (1939), Educational Psychology (
    New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.).

    Kirwan, William T. (1984), Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling (
    Grand Rapids: Baker).

    Liebman, Joshua (1946), Peace of Mind (
    New York: Simon & Schuster).

    Leithart, Paul W. (1980), “Psychiatry and the Bible,” The Christian News, September 15.

    Linden, Eugene (1974), Apes, Men, and Language (New York: Penguin).

    Mead, Frank (1965), The Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations (
    Westwood, NJ: Fleming Revell).

    Progoff, Ira (1956), The Death and Rebirth of Psychology (
    New York: Julian Press).

    Rogers, C.R. (1951), Client-centered therapy (
    Boston: Houghton Mifflin).

    Sartre, Jean Paul (1966), “Existentialism,” reprinted in A Casebook on Existentialism, William V. Spanos, ed. (
    New York: Thomas Y. Crowell).

    Surburg, Raymond (1959), “The Influence of Darwinism,” in
    Darwin, Evolution, and Creation, Paul Zimmerman, ed. (St. Louis: Concordia).

    Used by permission. For other excellent articles by Wayne Jackson, go to:

  • Christian Courier


    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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    SOME PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN COUNSELING

    By Wayne Jackson

     

    The word “counsel” generally suggests the idea of a deliberative process whereby presumably wise decisions are rendered.  Counseling – the term has achieved more popularity in recent years than it previously enjoyed – is a Biblical concept.  The Persons within the divine Godhead are Counselors to the human family (Isa. 30:1; 9:6). Unfortunately, relatively few people heed their directives; and so Isaiah wrote: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith Jehovah, that take counsel, but not of Me…” (30:1).

    The Scriptures represent counsel in a variety of ways.  There is good counsel (1 Kings 1:12) and there is evil counsel (2 Chron. 22:3).  There is wise counsel (1 Kings 12:6, 7) and there is foolish counsel (1 Kings 12:8; Job 2:9, 10).  Good and wise counsel will be helpful but evil and foolish counsel will be hurtful.

    In the sin-filled, tension-dominated society in which we live, the counseling business is booming.  Look at the listings in the Yellow Pages!  Tragically, much of the so-called professional counseling that is available is buttressed by atheistic presuppositions and hence is not only virtually worthless, but is actually very dangerous.  Consequently, more and more Christians who have serious spiritual problems (and most mental and emotional problems are actually spiritual problems) are turning to elders and ministers for counseling; and we must address ourselves seriously to the responsibility.

    One of the best ways to assist troubled people is to provide for them a good program of Bible teaching and preaching.  Elders and preachers who will lovingly put forth rich and firm Bible teaching can minister to the ills of the spiritually afflicted.  Further, a strong teaching program will prevent the need for many of the personal counseling sessions; an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

    Additionally, it ought to be recognized that every Christian, consistent with his ability, should strive to be a good counselor.  By that I mean that we should all be willing to assist one another in times of spiritual need.  We should be able to talk (in confidence if necessary) to one another about our difficulties and offer or receive Biblically seasoned advice.  The New Testament does not recognize any special counselor class.  We must provoke one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).

    Though these suggestions are unquestionably valid, it must be acknowledged that the troubled Christian will frequently seek out the advice of those whom he considers especially competent to assist him, and generally this will be an elder, preacher or some other mature member of the body of Christ.  In view of this, the following suggestions are respectfully offered for the benefit of those who are consulted for counseling.

    1.                  The counselor must be a loving person who has compassion for those who need his help (Col. 3:12).  Those who have sought your assistance obviously have confidence in you.  They may be hurt, frightened and in trouble.  You are viewed as a source of aid and strength.  Therefore, whatever the nature of their problem, treat them with kindness and due consideration.

    2.                  The counselor must truly attempt to understand his counselee’s burden.  Unless the problem is accurately recognized and clearly defined, you are in no position to render aid.  Further, be wise enough to know that some problems have developed over a period of years and numerous factors have contributed to the situation along the way.  You may be unable to fully appreciate the magnitude of the crisis in a brief counseling session.  Do not attempt to make instant analyses.

    3.                  The counselor must recognize that he may not be able to provide instant or easy solutions to serious and complex difficulties.  Situations that are extremely complicated and perhaps involve several people may not be solvable by the “take two aspirin” approach.  In serious circumstances, the counselor should research everything that God’s Word says about the matter, devoutly pray for wisdom, seek the advice of wise and faithful brethren, and then proceed with caution to guide the counselee in harmony with Jehovah’s will.

    4.                  When a distressed saint confides in you his problem, be neither passively smug nor dramatically shocked.  For example do not, with a self-righteous air, announce: “I expected this of you,” or “I could see this problem coming.”  Likely, the distraught person will not appreciate your wise foresight at this particular time!  Moreover, do not quench your potential influence for assistance by such thoughtless statements as: “Of all the people in the world, I would never have expected something like this from you!”  Remember, we all are flesh (Psa. 78:38, 39), and temptations are common to humanity (1 Cor. 10:13).  Therefore, simply show genuine concern and a desire to help.

    5.                  Keep your emotions under control. Two suggestions can be made here.  First, though there may be occasions when we will thoroughly empathize with those who seek our assistance – particularly close brethren (Cf. Rom. 12:15) – it is normally best to refrain from deep emotional involvement in the crisis.  The distressed one has come to you for strength; if you go to pieces, it may convey a sense of hopelessness to your counselee.  Secondly, remember that the people you are attempting to help are sometimes confused and very hurt.  Even though their wounds may be self-inflicted, you must be patient with them.  In their frustration they may lash out and thus say untrue and unkind things to you.  If you are a preacher or an elder, they may unjustly implicate you as a part of their problem.  Listen; this is crucial.  If you cannot rationally and spiritually deal with this type of circumstance without a heated retaliation, you should not attempt to function as a counselor.  There is no place for a short-fused person here.  The fact is, one who attempts to counsel, but who is not in control of his own emotions, may inflect irreparable damage upon the soul of the spiritually infirm.

    6.                  When you counsel those whose problems are sin-induced, do not be afraid to generously use the Bible as the answer to their problems.  It is God’s psychology textbook.  Press upon them the absolute essentiality of repentance.  Be firm and yet be kind.  However, do not feel that you are under some divine compulsion to do a hatchet job on them.  Probably, since they have asked for your help, they recognize they have made some serious mistakes.  They do not need, at this point, for you to bludgeon them with the history of their errors.  Remember how Christ dealt with sinners whom He counseled; He never compromised, but neither was He crude and brutal (Cf. Matt. 12:20; Luke 7:36ff).

    7.                  Finally, if you realize that a problem is beyond your sphere of competence to adequately deal with, do not be too proud to ask for assistance from someone who may be better qualified to deal with that special situation.  And do not become offended if your counselee asks for additional help; your sole purpose is to genuinely help the distressed, not to establish a reputation.

    May God grant us the wisdom to impart His wisdom to those who seek our counsel in times of crisis.

    For more excellent articles by Wayne Jackson visit

    Christian Courier


    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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    Overcoming The Beast of Denial

    (The Road To Recovery)

    By:  Drew Robison

    It has been said that denial is a Mental process that works to block out reality.  The intent is to build a shield within the mind that blocks out the truth about something that the person feels is threatening to them.

    The mind works seemingly on the unconscious level to protect the person from a reality that is perceived as too devastating or difficult for the individual to face.  It is interesting to note that often times we can see denial in others, but not in ourselves.  Denial serves as a destructive barrier that often enables the drug/alcohol user to continue in this harmful behavior.  It is one of Satan’s strongest tools against men and women and has been since the Garden of Eden.  Eve’s unwillingness to accept God’s truth regarding the danger of eating from (or even touching) the tree of good and evil led to her fall.  Often times our self will and urge to meet our own immediate gratification can cause an unseen blindfold to cover our eyes.  We fail to see the coming harm that so often leads to destruction.

    This is often the case with the drug user.  An unwillingness or inability to accept the truth that the drug abuse and dependency on the drug(s) have become fatal, keeping the person in a strong delusion that all is well, even though their life has become very unmanageable and out of order.

    As mentioned earlier we can often see denial in others but it is often invisible within us.  The Lord Jesus makes clear that one cannot properly help another to see when they themselves are blind (or in denial) regarding their own shortcomings

    (Matthew 7:1-5).

    What Are Some Symptoms of Denial?

    Ø      When one does not see how serious the problem really is (e.g., minimizing DUIs, loss of job and family due to drug use).

    Ø      When a person blames everyone for their drug use but themselves (e.g., saying to a spouse if you didn’t nag so much I wouldn’t have to use or blaming it on parents past mistakes, etc.).

    Ø      The person fails to see that their drug use is related to other problems (e.g., someone may say, “I lost my job because the boss didn’t like me.”  To them it has nothing to do with them repeatedly coming to work intoxicated and their continual failure to complete assigned tasks.

    Ø      Refusing to accept help.  Pride has kicked in and proclaimed, “I do not need any help; it is everyone else who needs help.  I am doing fine.  Everyone is just over-reacting to nothing.”

    Ø      Bringing up old achievements to balance out present problems (e.g., someone might say, “I once had the highest sales rate in that company and now due to a few set backs in my life, the company fails to remember my past contribution to this organization.”

    Ø      The conscience has become so hardened (as seared with a hot iron) that he/she fails to see that there is a problem at all.  In this stage it becomes very difficult to help the person, though it is still not impossible.

    I have seen in others and experienced it myself just how overpowering denial can be regarding drug and alcohol addiction.  The realization of all that happened during the drug use stage can be very overwhelming to someone who is in the midst of the recovery process.

    Denial can serve as a defense mechanism.  What does this mean?  Our natural reaction to a person swinging at us is to block the blow.  And so it is with someone who feels that their drug use is threatened.  He/She will use defenses that work to keep the denial system strong.

    Here is a list of only some of these defenses:  arguing, blaming, withdrawing from everyone, justifying behaviors, analyzing, minimizing, comparing (at least I’m not as bad as so and so), momentarily agreeing, joking (making light of the situation), smiling and laughing, intellectualizing and many others.

    Humility is a great aid against these defenses.  Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that pride is so dangerous.  It causes a barrier that shields one away from seeing what is really going on in their lives.  The expression that “confession is good for the soul” is a true one for those who are willing to admit their wrongs and that without God they can do nothing.

    Working through denial is important, but it is just the beginning of resolving the complexity in someone’s life that drug use has attributed to forming.

    We will look at more helpful tips that will be discussed at length in future articles to come.


    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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    Handling Bereavement

    Since the place of death pierces every mortal, it is necessary for all of us to learn how to handle bereavement. I have watched, with great admiration and respect, the courage that has borne many a saint through hours of sorrow. Here is some practical advice I have seen others use in dealing with grief.

    1. EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS. It should not be considered a Christian virtue to be unmoved by the loss of a loved one. There is a difference between suppressing one’s emotions and losing one’s self control. The Bible does not say, “Sorrow not;” but it says, “Sorrow not as others who have no hope,” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
    2. SEEK THE AID OF YOUR FRIENDS. The very presence of friends is encouragement. When Paul neared Rome, the brethren came to meet him and he “thanked God and took courage,” (Acts 28:15).
    3. COMPEL YOURSELF TO BE WITH PEOPLE. Your inclination may be to retreat into the refuge of privacy, but there is a greater need than one realizes to associate with others. David did (2 Samuel 12:19-23).
    4. EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS IN WORDS. Talking about it will help you to accept it. If this is done at the outset of bereavement, one will sooner be able to stabilize his life.
    5. AVAIL YOURSELF OF SPIRITUAL RESOURCES. Even though you may not have realized the importance of the Scriptures and their comfort, now these can help in building your faith. The power of prayer and the peace of God are very precious possessions.
    6. DON’T BROOD OVER WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Both Mary and Martha said, “If thou had been here my brother had not died” (John 11:21-32).
    7. ACTIVELY PURSUE WORTHWHILE TASKS. Once the initial shock has been dealt with, get busy at other things. Resolve, like Paul, to “reach forth unto the things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13).
    8. MAKE CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS. Many an individual jumps hastily into deciding the full scope of the future rather than waiting until he has regained a proper perspective of life. Don’t get in a hurry. Make prayerful decisions.
    9. INCREASE YOUR TRUST IN GOD. Those who have come through their sorrows with a deeper faith can verify that God, Who rules over all, truly does make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).

    After the crises of grief, you can serve more fully and sympathize more completely with men of like passions. With Paul, you too can thank God for the comfort received, knowing that it has now given you the ability to comfort others who are in any trouble (2 Cor. 1:4).

    Hardeman Nichols

     


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    COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY

    The word “counsel” has to do with giving and taking advice.  Scripture warns against evil counsel and encourages our taking good advice.  The Psalmist said “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of ungodly” (Psalm 1:1).  The counsel of the ungodly is simply the advise of the wicked.

    The world is filled with advisors, yet much of the advice they give is worthless because it comes from atheistic, ungodly presuppositions.

    The Scriptures are filled with examples of wicked counsel and its destructive results.

    1.      The counsel of Baalam (Num. 31:16) resulted in a deadly plague upon Israel.

    1. The counsel of the young men to Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:10-11) resulted in the division of the nation.
    1. The counsel of Athaliah to her son Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Chron. 22:3) resulted in his short, one year reign and ultimately his death (2 Chron. 22:7).
    1. The counsel of Job’s wife to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9-10) resulted in a stern rebuke from Job.  Fortunately, this advice was not headed and Job was richly blessed (Job 42:12).
    1. The counsel of companions (Prov. 1:10-19) will lead to death, both physically and eternally.

    Beware of the counsel of the ungodly.  Those who have no regard for the Word of God will have no regard for that which is good and pure and holy.  The counsel of the wicked can be found almost anywhere:  on TV, in the movies, with godless teachers, so called scholars, politicians and even some of our friends.  Let us be careful regarding those from whom we accept counsel.  The child of God must consider the character of those who seek to give us advice.

    The counsel of God’s Word is to be desired above all.  Paul said, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14).  Thus, the appeal was not only to the things learned, but to the source of the information.  Paul goes on the remind Timothy of the Scriptures, which he had learned form his youth (2 Tim. 3:15).

    When Christians have serious problems they need to seek the advice of a godly elder, minister or Christian friend.  In other words, seek advice from those who know God’s word.  We would do well to remember that Jesus is the “wonderful counselor” (Isa. 9:6).  He invites all to come and “learn of me” (Matt. 11:29).

    --Dan Flournoy

    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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    GUILT, ILLNESS AND FORGIVENESS

    By Dan Flournoy

    One of the sad mistakes often made by doctors and psychiatrists is to disregard the association between morality and illness and, between guilt and mental disorders.  David felt the weight of guilt when he wrote:

    “O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.  For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down. There is not soundness in my flesh because of Your anger; Nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:1-4).

    For years psychiatrists and psychologist treated their patients by telling them they must overcome their “guilt complex.”  They looked upon problems not as sin but as sickness.  This idea is known as the “medical model.”  Often the counselor would delve into the patient’s past in order to find someone to blame for the present problem.

                In recent years, however, there has been a trend among some therapists to return to a more Biblical approach for the solution to man’s problems.  For example a few years ago the head of the largest mental hospital in London said, “If the people here could only know the possibility of forgiveness, I could dismiss half of them at once.”

    Thousands are living in misery and despair because they have deep feelings of guilt and do not know where to go for relief.  The problem is not one of mere guilt feelings, but of genuine, indisputable guilt.  The only way to take care of guilt is through complete surrender to the will of God.  David confessed his sins and turned to God for forgiveness.  He said, “for I will declare my iniquity: I will be in anguish over my sin” (Psalm 38:18).  To Christians, the apostle John wrote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    ©Christian-Family.net

    2004

    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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    FIGHTING FAIR

    Are you a fair fighter?  Take this quiz and see …

    1. While your partner talks about a problem, are you really listening or thinking ahead about how to counter his position?
    2. Do you have a hard time acknowledging when your mate is right?
    3. Do you usually think you know what your partner’s “real” motives are?
    4. When you are angry, do you often say, “You always …” or “You never …”?
    5. When you are upset do you call your partner unkind names?
    6. Do you often bring in other people’s opinions to support your arguments?
    7. Do you bring in side issues and remind your mate of past mistakes?
    8. Do you know what really hurts him/her and use it in the midst of a disagreement?

    If you’ve answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you probably fight “dirty” with your mate.  Try to develop skills that will help you resolve conflicts without undermining your relationship the way mud-slinging arguments usually do.

    Even in the most loving relationships, conflicts are sure to erupt.  Scrapping over problems, struggling to assert power or superiority and fighting dirty to win a point is detrimental to any couple.  And it can be especially hard on the two-paycheck couple who are trying to achieve a partnership of equals.

    Most of us, however, are untrained in alternatives.  We don’t know how to fight fair or negotiate our way through a crisis.  Instead, we treat our loved ones as adversaries and go for the jugular if that’s what it takes to win an argument.  The trouble is that when winning becomes more gratifying than finding mutually satisfying solutions, then everyone loses.

    If you have been a “mud fighter,” you can become a fair negotiator by paying attention to the following guidelines.  Though it will take some time and commitment to adjust to a new way of coping with conflict, giving up your old, automatic responses and subduing the two-fisted fighter inside you can bring remarkable rewards.

    TIMING IS EVERYTHING

    You wouldn’t dream of barging into your boss’ office and demanding a raise while he or she is on the phone.  You’d probably wait for an advantageous moment, one during which you had his full attention and felt his mood to be receptive.

    Yet, we often “attack” our mates with problems or complaints during periods of high stress or limited time, just when we are most likely to provoke the most defensive, grudging response.

    If you really want to diminish your partner’s resistance, let him or her know that you want to discuss an important matter, and that you’d like to set aside some special time to do so. Depending upon the seriousness or complexity of the issue, you’ll need to decide whether an hour or two after dinner, or the better part of the day should be set aside.  What matters most, however, is that you begin your negotiation with one point already in agreement: the time and place of the discussion.

    ADMIT YOUR NEEDS

    As much as we hate to admit it, all of us are “needy.”  We need love, nurturing, attention, excitement, … the list is endless.

    Our needs may be elaborately disguised, but they are always there.  Camouflaged within the context of every dispute are individual needs that are not being satisfied or are in opposition to our loved one.  Once this is understood, negotiating becomes much easier.  It is primarily a process of articulating the needs that give rise to the immediate problem – then being caring enough to seek alternatives that can satisfy both of you.

    Since conflicts are rooted in need, it makes sense to begin negotiating with your partner by stating your needs, not be blaming, accusing, complaining, or demanding.  To illustrate how important that is, let’s look at the situation in which Will and Rochelle Bucky recently found themselves.

    Rochelle had received a promotion at work, one that led to longer hours on the job and weekends interrupted by paper work.  At first her husband appeared supportive and proud of her accomplishment, even though it meant she could devote less time and attention to him.  But as the months wore on, Will became more disgruntled.  He missed his wife and felt increasingly unimportant to her.

    In confronting the problem, Will had two choices.  He could angrily reprimand his wife for “uncaring” behavior, accuse her of putting her work first, and, in short, treat her as an adversary who had to be controlled.  Or, he could tell the truth.  He could say, “Rochelle, I know your job means a lot to you, but I really miss having more time with you.   I need it, and I think it’s important that we talk about it.  I don’t want to lose what has always been so special between us.”  Which approach do you think would elicit a more receptive response?

    ASK FOR INFORMATION

    Don’t try to read your partner’s mind.  Don’t make assumptions or presume to know what he or she needs or thinks or feels.  Instead, ask information-gathering questions.  Find out for sure.

    You can’t negotiate without the honest input that only your mate can provide.  And vice versa.

    EMOTIONAL TRIGGER POINTS

    Some of those deeply entrenched, overwhelming feelings that you know make little sense can interfere with good communication.

    Sometimes negotiations break down because we need concessions from our mate that are not only unreasonable, but are emotionally loaded because of earlier experiences.  We are usually aware when such a trigger point has been pressed because our own sense of logic begins to conflict with our most pervasive feelings.  In other words, our arguments with ourselves become as significant as the disagreement we are having with our mate.

    If you are trying to fight fairly or negotiate an important issue, this is an appropriate point to break off and take some time out.  Problems don’t always need to be solved right away, and “trigger points” are best left alone when they become sore.  If allowing a little time to pass does not help clarify the issues, you might want to briefly enlist the help of a therapist or marriage counselor.

    EMPHASIZE AREAS OF AGREEMENT

    After you’ve expressed your needs and come to understand your partner’s, focus on the compatibility between you.  Take careful note of what you really do agree upon before you approach your differences.

    In most instances, you’ll discover there is less to the dispute than you feared.  You may even want to list the elements of the discussion that you already agree on, since seeing them written in black and white often provides and added sense of security.

    In the Buckys’ case, for example, both Will and Rochelle were able to agree that spending more time together was a desirable goal.  They also agreed that Rochelle’s need to pursue her career and perform well had validity.  They reached these agreements readily because Will Bucky originally approached his wife in a positive solution-oriented manner.  Rochelle was not prompted to become defensive or to feel guilty.  She understood his needs and could admit to sharing them.  In that frame of mind, the Buckys were free to move on to the next step.

    SEEK IMAGINATIVE SOLUTIONS

    Remember that negotiating is just the process of finding satisfactory solutions to problems created by dual needs.  The more rigid you are, the more difficult is the act of negotiating.  If you are the kind of individual who believes in only one “right” way to resolve a problem, you limit the possibility of your own fulfillment.  If, on the other hand, you are willing to explore many alternatives with your partner, you increase the probability of generating a “win-win” outcome.

    In order for a new idea to work, both partners must feel that by giving it a try they are gaining something, not giving something up.  And both partners must really, truly care about the sense of satisfaction that the other derives.  With that in mind, if one bright, hopeful solution fails, you will be able to regard it as the death of an idea instead of the end of the relationship.  There is nothing wrong going back to the bargaining table and approaching the same problem in another manner.  Renegotiating is always a valuable “next step” that carries with it the hard-won wisdom of your own personal experiences.

    [Editor's note: The author of this article is unknown to me. I have had this in my files for a number of years and have used it in counseling with couples who have constant arguments. If someone can furnish me with the name of the author, we would be most grateful. df]

    ©Christian-Family.net

    Email: dan@christian-family.net


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