by Dwight Oswald

Occasionally, people call me on the phone and ask me this question: “Do you do counseling?” What they really mean is: “Do you follow the professional, worldly model where you help people psychologically analyze themselves in a prescribed way, in prescribed time increments, for a set fee?” Often, they are really looking for a professional mingling of psychology and Bible whereby I might make them “feel” better. At this point, I often have a few questions of my own.

Are you looking for “Problem-Centered Counseling” or “Christ-Centered Counseling”?

Often people very selfishly want to talk about themselves and their problems ad nauseam. Of course, it is necessary to address problems, but to perpetually have an inward focus is spiritually unhealthy. Instead, the Bible emphasizes focusing on Christ. He is the solution to our problems. We cast all our cares upon Him (cf. 1 Pt. 5:7). We look to Him for grace in time of temptation (cf. Heb. 4:16). We run the race of endurance by continually looking to Jesus (cf. Heb. 12:2). We need to forget the past and reach forward “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14). My question then is: “Do you really want to focus on Christ and find the answers in Him?” If so, I can help.

Is this an issue of salvation or sanctification?

Many people want peace, but they don’t want the Prince of Peace on His terms (cf. Isa. 9:6, 48:22). They want a band aid of emotional balm, instead of the radical surgery of repentance (cf. Mt. 5:3-4). They want the fruit of the Spirit, but don’t want to walk in step with the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16-23). They want the blessings of a disciplined walk, but not the discipline involved (cf. Phil. 4:9). And then they wonder why they have problems. Often people refuse to trust God with the problems of life (cf. Jer. 17:5-10). If people have a “medical” problem, they should see a medical doctor. Of course, many seek “medical” treatment for that which is really a spiritual root problem. Right relationship with God has much to do with good “mental health” (cf. Phil. 4:7).

Do you have a high or a low view of Scripture?

Many claiming to be Christian virtually live as “practical atheists.” They don’t really believe the Bible is all sufficient to fully equip us for living (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17, 2 Pet. 1:3-4). They have a form of godliness, but deny its power (cf. 2 Tim. 3:5). They are not looking for DIVINE guidance from the Word of God, but for professional help generated by the wisdom of man. For them, the Bible alone is inadequate (cf. Col. 2:3).

Where is the place of body life and gift use?

Certainly, the spiritual leaders have their place (cf. Gal. 6:1, Ja. 5:14), but God has sovereignly gifted the whole body for the building up of itself in love (cf. 1 Cor. 12-14, Eph. 4). The reality is that bearing one another’s burdens is the responsibility of the whole body (cf. Gal. 6:2). All of us are to MINISTER to one another as good stewards of the grace of God (cf. 1 Pet. 4:10). This turns the professional model on its head. The Bible exhorts assembling and ministering to one another and so much more as we see the Day approaching (cf. Heb. 10:24-25). The N.T. is replete with “one another” exhortations – a forgotten reality in most counseling models!

Do you realize that “coping” is a lifestyle?

Paul defines this life as a battle or a “fight” (cf. 1 Tim. 6:12, 2 Tim. 4:7). It is a battle to the pearly gates. We constantly wrestle against the forces of darkness (cf. Eph. 6:12, 1 Pt. 5:9). We struggle with the world and the flesh (cf. Rom. 7). This is an ongoing reality for all God’s children. There is no “silver bullet” of counseling insight that is going to settle it once and for all. We all struggle. We all stumble (cf. Ja. 3:2). Mature believers come to realize that the answers to life’s problems are found in Christ; are found in a consistent walk; are found in the promises of God; and are found in the resources He has provided in the body of Christ (cf. Eph. 6:10-20).

Thot: Of course, WE do “counseling”, but it is constantly directed to the written and living WORD! The real issue is: Are you open to this counsel?

PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, May-June 2015, Vol. 23, No. 3)