How to Counsel From the Bible – with Elyse Fitzpatrick

Last weekend I attended the “Revive Our Hearts – Women Helping Women Conference” in Schaumburg, Illinois.  On Saturday morning I was refreshed and inspired by Elyse Fitzpatrick in her workshop: How to Counsel From the Bible.  This is my first time to hear Elyse in person.  I own a few of her books, have heard her highly recommended, and I was greatly impacted by her Bible teaching at the conference.

Here is a brief introduction: Elyse has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling, is a retreat and conference speaker, and has authored sixteen books.  You can find out much more about her at her website: www.elysefitzpatrick.com.

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Here is what stood out to me from what she said:

1.) We need to get away from the professional model (meet with me for 45 minutes and I’ll solve all your problems).  We do not have all the answers.  We do life together – as God brings situations into our lives, with God’s grace and help we help each other.

2.) Do you believe God’s Word is inerrant?  Sufficient?  God’s Word is both!  We tend to think we need the Bible plus something else.

3.) The Bible is imminently practical because it is what God wants us to know and portrays people as they really are (examples like Sarah and David teach us that God will use us in spite of our weaknesses in ways we can’t even imagine).  The Bible was written for very broken people being trained to help very broken people.

4.) WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) – Don’t tell me what Jesus would do until I have faith in what He has already done (death & resurrection).  “Every conversation where Jesus Christ is not mentioned is pointless.” – Calvin  … Be intentional in mentioning His name, in the context of what He has accomplished for us at Calvary and His triumph over sin and death.

5.) Unbelief is at the core of every sin: you feel that you are robbed of what you think you deserve, or He’s unable or uncaring (in our “you deserve a break today” society, this is a constant barrage of anti-God propaganda.  “If God really loved me I would have _______.”

6.) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  She needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is only through God’s Word that her faith will be built.  Only God can give her faith to believe!

7.) When you counsel from Scripture, it’s not all on you – this is God speaking, God convicting, God changing her.  Bring the truth to her and pray for God to work.

8.) Make your own chain reference in your Bible.  Do topical studies on anger, sadness, depression, strongholds, spiritual battle, the tongue … and write by the first verse a connection to the second and so on, to help you when you are counseling people.

9.) It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will prayerfully research and get back to you in 3-4 days.”

10.) Pray and ask God to lead you.

 

Specific Struggles

Anger

  • God transforms angry sinners.  Example: Paul …

“And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” Acts 26:11

“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” I Thessalonians 2:7

  • We all want to be God – we want our way in our timing.  The problems come in when we want _______ more than holiness, more than Christ.
  • Why do people fight?  Because they want _______ right now.  It’s not because Mom and Dad didn’t lead the family in devotions every night when you were a kid.
  • You will never be at rest until you find rest in God.
  • Also, see this key chapter addressing anger: James 4.

Fear/Worry

  • God transforms those who are fearful:  Example, Timothy …

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.” I Corinthians 16:10

  • Also, see Hebrews 13.
  • Heart of the issue: a lack of awareness of God’s love …

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” I John 4:18

  • Do you know you are loved by God, deep in your heart?  REALLY loved?  You are welcomed by God!  And everything that comes to me, comes to me through the nail scarred hands, for my good and His glory.  Not punitive.  Suffering is always meant redemptively.  God says, this is good for your soul.
  • He is imminent – at hand.  Philippians 4:5-6 – preach the truth to yourself!  Pray in confidence because He’s right here.  If you had Jesus in your car, would you be worried about an accident?  Seriously?

 

Overindulgence

  • God transforms the overindulgent.  Example, the Corinthians …

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  I Corinthians 6:9-11

  • How would your life change if you KNEW you were loved?  righteous?  Because of Christ I am righteous right now.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

  • We need not fear the future – we are being guarded, as is our inheritance through Christ.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:5

  • How do I know I will be cared for?  Look at the cross of Jesus Christ.

 

Resources

I’ve not had the time to personally looked through every resource listed below.  Because these were recommended by Elyse, and she entirely emphasizes God’s Word in counseling (nouthetic counseling, as described in detail here), I have confidence in sharing these as potential resources.  As always, the Bible is our standard. Books

  • Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling: Changing Lives with God’s Changeless Truth by James MacDonald, Bob Kellemen and Stephen Viars
  • Counsel From the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christby Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson
  • Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People In Need of Change, Helping People In Need of Change by Paul David Tripp
  • Resources for Changing Lives – 27 booklets, about $1 each – addressing common issues biblically.  You can find them
  • Tim Lane books …
  • Women Counseling Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Women Helping Women: a Biblical Guide to the Major Issues Women Face by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish

Websites

Thank you for reading this article!  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.  Praying that God will use something here to help you as you walk with God in your mission for Him.  Love, Sara

 

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