“… the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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
- Biblical Counseling Coalition
- Faith Biblical Counseling – Lafeyette
- Restoring Christ to Counseling and Counseling to the Church
- The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship – at this website you can find 20 hours of free online Biblical counseling training
- To find a Biblical counselor go to the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
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
Just God and Me
On Saturday I listened to an inspiring Christian woman speaking about godly priorities while cleaning my room. Later that same day, while I was folding underwear and sorting socks, I heard another famous woman interviewed on a highly revered Christian website. As her voice streamed through my laptop, my hopes for a meaty message quickly faded. I was left feeling parched. Yes, she mentioned God, spoke about prayer as well as other true and good things, but never communicated God’s own words. Most of her words were about her.
More than any other time in human history, we have countless opportunities to hear and learn from God’s Word: radio, television, internet, books, church, CDs, Sunday school, small groups, conferences, magazines, DVDs, blogs, YouTube, email, Facebook, etc. Certainly there are messages and interviews worth hearing that point us to God. It takes some work, but we can wade through fluff and find solid biblical teaching.
My concern, as I get to know myself better and listen to others around me, is that we too easily depend on the testimonies of other humans. Before realizing it, my own quality time with God slips away. Unless the words of others springboard me toward further personal study in my Bible, munching from the crumbs of other people’s spiritual meals soon leaves me depleted, hungry.
If I allow this spiritual malnutrition to continue, my starved self turns to my husband and children, friends and pastor, to feed me, to fill me. I open my refrigerator, go shopping, listen to music. My emptiness echoes in my soul, and when women come to me for counsel I give them my helpful opinions and good ideas instead of God’s. At times my family feels the brunt of my ugliness. I’ve allowed the potential fruit of the Spirit to wilt and rot. Then finally, after the damage has been done, I end up where I should’ve been in the beginning: on my knees and in His Word.
Do you have a daily quiet time with God alone? I understand, it can feel nearly impossible at times with the busyness of life. Do you enjoy listening to Christian radio but sometimes let that take place of your quiet time? What about church – do you tank up on the sermon and small group lesson, hoping it will carry you through your stressful week?
Dear sister, we need “just God and me” time. If it means getting up earlier, staying up later, shutting down the computer, getting away from the house for awhile, turning on a good video for our kids, declining an invitation from a friend, hiring a baby sitter . . . we will only be PEACEFUL and USEFUL when we spend time with God. Alone.
Stay tuned for ideas to help you develop a quality daily meeting with God.
Special thanks to The Narrow Gate for the picture above.
Good Soil Evangelism Overview
Last weekend I was privileged to take part in a Good Soil Evangelism training seminar. Having grown up in a Christian home, Bible teaching churches, a Christian school, and two Bible colleges, I have heard much about evangelism. So, I was happily surprised to be challenged in my thinking. The training I received made me stop and reconsider my audience and how better to communicate with them.
Here are a few points that stood out to me:
1. Most of us are familiar with the Romans Road. Where does it usually begin? Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What is that presuming? That my audience understands “sin” and “falling short,” as well as their belief in God’s existance. Three chapters precede chapter three verse twenty-three, building a foundation to prepare the hearer to learn he is a sinner in need. So, why do we usually start with Romans 3:23? It may be perfect for someone with a Bible background, but this is becoming less and less common.
2. What about the question, “If you were to die today and stand before God, why should He let you into heaven?” This presumes people believe in God, heaven and hell. Again, to the typical adult, confusing.
3. Sin. Most people don’t know what it is. We laughingly discussed “sinfully delicious desserts” as sadly the most common use of the word “sin” in our society. Or they may think of Bible beaters – people who condemn others with prideful self-absorbtion, yelling and pulpit pounding.
4. They presented a useful overview to help us understand where people are spiritually and where to being helping them in their relationship with God. Evangelism-Discipleship Scale
5. We studied John 1 (where I have normally suggested people begin reading their Bible) from the eyes of someone with no knowledge of the Old Testament. Shocking.
6. We watched the following video about the Mauk Tribe of Papua New Guinea. They had never heard of Jesus; they didn’t even know where they were in the world. A missionary couple, who was discouraged by most because of their age, family size, and health problems, felt called to to PNG to share the truth. I learned a lot from how they presented the Bible to this people which had no background in God’s Word. All of us sat their and wept, realizing how blessed we are to know God’s Word!
Get out of the way!
Twelve years ago I was privileged to be a preschool teacher in Poulsbo, Washington. I loved my students! I remember one day when a new fellow joined our class. The poor little man had major first day jitters and insecurities. Not even music and story time could cheer him up. He continued in distress until . . . I got up and moved. Behind me on the wall was a picture of Jesus (similar to the image above). After Kevin saw the picture of Jesus, his entire demeanor changed! As I watched him smile, I could picture a party going on inside his brain – “This is a Jesus place! I’m going to be okay!” From then on, he seemed to feel at home.
While studying John 3:27-33 (*context below) today, I was challenged to remember that I am privileged to point people to Jesus. Like John the Baptist, I have the opportunity to tell others, “It’s all about Him!”
This passage of Scripture reminds me:
1. I have nothing except for what has been given to me by God (27). No room to brag!
2. I am not God (28). It seems obvious, but I find myself idiotically trying to play God in my life.
3. I have been sent by God (28). On His mission, not mine. He uses the weak things of this world! (I Corinthians 1:27)
4. I am His bride (29). Do I act like a bride in love, preparing for our day? Do I glow and tell everyone about the One I love (Who first loved me – I John 4:19)?
5. The sound of his voice gives great joy – in Him my joy is fulfilled (29). So, why do I go elsewhere for my joy? Rejoice in the joy Giver! And find my fulfillment in Him alone. Not in my accomplishments! Not in my list of souls won! Not in my one-upping a sister with whom I feel a pull of competition in church leadership. No!!!
Jesus IS the greatest – this verse is saying that He must take center stage and be given complete dominion in our lives. Why? Because (again, taken from John 3) . . .
1. He is the Giver (27). All gifts are from God! Isn’t His signature verse John 3:16? And, don’t forget Romans 8:32! With His strength, I can appreciate His gifts and become a selfless giver.
2. He is the Sender (28). Matthew 28:18-20. I am on a mission! I should be grateful – I get to serve the King of Kings!
3. He is the Christ (28). Anointed One, appointed by God. Jesus is God in the flesh, no matter what other people say.
4. Jesus and I have extremely different roles. He is transforming me into His image while I am but a speck in the shadow of the Almighty. That means I must continue to reverence and obey Him. Humble myself.
5. He is the bridegroom (29). He loves me. He chose me. I am His precious bride. He is worthy of my adoration!
6. He is above all (27-28, 29-31). So, doesn’t He deserve my complete allegiance?! I cannot even imagine the ridiculous spectacle of a termite bragging about his strength next to a tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur. God and me? The difference is even greater!
HE is above all!
He IS above all!
He is ABOVE all!
He is above ALL!
7. Jesus is evidence that God, and what He says in the Bible, is true (33). Divine and sent by God, Jesus gives a living, breathing view of God.
8. He has something to say that is worth hearing (32). Am I listening?
We have the privilege of pointing people to Jesus. Let’s get out of the way so people can see the source of hope and true joy!
Practically Speaking: How To Point Others to Jesus
- Above all, your family needs for you to be godly. When you are right with God, God is able to shine through you!
- Talk about God to your children, every day of the week.
- Begin the day with a verse and prayer.
- In a moment of frustration, let them hear you pray to God for help and strength.
- Put a little love note on their pillow that includes a Bible verse telling about Jesus’ love for them.
- If unsaved family mock or accuse you, be like Jesus to them, keeping silent and taking it graciously.
- Let them hear you pray for them out loud.
- Be excited about God!
- Teach them about good manners – the purpose of which is not to make people think they great, but it is an opportunity to show people the love of Jesus.
- Talk about how great God is and show your children how you can together enjoy praising God in song and service.
- Praise them for their accomplishments, then add, “God is so good to have given you such a special talent to use for His glory!”
- Take baked goodies to them, just because. Put a little note on the treat, including a simple Bible verse, that says you are thankful God allowed you to be neighbors.
- Be the first one to take a meal to a new mom, a newcomer to the neighborhood, or a grieving family. Include a winsome tract telling about God’s love and hope.
- Don’t flaunt your beliefs – have an attitude of kindness and humility.
- Don’t be afraid to show them you can have fun.
- Take care of your yard. This one is hard to keep up with (we know)! But it is important to respect our neighborhood by taking responsibility – this will help people to view Christ in a positive light. Think of your house as God’s embassy in your neighborhood!
- If you borrow something, return it as soon as possible.
- Don’t keep a perfect home – let people see that you are real – someone they can relate to. People feel more comfortable in a home that isn’t spotless.
- How you dress matters. Incorporating Biblical principles of modesty, be approachable in the way you dress – neither slovenly, goody-two-shoes, nor Hollywoodish. They are more apt to listen if your appearance doesn’t distract from your message.
- Don’t gossip.
- Don’t control the conversation, but try to guide it toward godly ideas.
- Offer to pray for and with your friend.
- Share what God is teaching you and ask her what God is teaching her.
- Ask how you can help her in her Christian walk.
- Ask for accountability – when she is holding you accountable, she will more likely seek to be right with God herself.
- Give gifts that will remind her of God: perpetual calendar with verses in it, a Bible verse magnet or picture, a favorite music or speaker on CD.
- After she sings or plays the piano, don’t say, “You’re awesome!” Instead say something like, “Your song blessed my heart today. I am so thankful you are using your talents for God’s glory!”
- Send an e-mail saying you are praying for her today.
- Share what God is doing in your life on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to admit your struggles, but try not to complain. Verbalizing what is true, even online, can help you and your friends focus on the One Who holds all the answers.
- Smile and say hello.
- When waiting in line or while your kids are playing together at the park, try to find common ground by asking about their interests.
- Pray for an opportunity to share Christ, but be sensitive to His leading. Being too bold can give people a negative stereotypical view of your Christianity.
- Invite them over for a play date or for supper.
- Always carry a quality tract with you to give them some reading material later on. Have your e-mail address or phone number on the back in case they have questions.
I Can’t Believe It’s Over!
We have one day left with our daughter Ama. She leaves us on Tuesday . . . I can’t believe the year is over!
Ama isn’t a blood relative, but she has has lived with us for over ten months. She’s seen us at our best and our worst! Awhile back, when Josh asked if she was ever a baby in my tummy, I replied, “No, she is the daughter of my heart.” Both she and Amira, who lived with us last school year, are so dear to me. I am blessed to be their American mom!
[Ama, my fellow woman on God’s mission just came into the kitchen looking for her camera. “The writing juices are flowing,” she observed, as she breezed past me. After she explained her mission and we both said a prayer, she left to continue searching in her room. I’m really going to miss praying with her.]
There were moments this past year when Ama and I felt like giving up. But, God didn’t let us. He faithfully gave us the strength we needed to grow through the challenges, produce fruit for His glory, and to end the year well. He has given us the victory!
Ama will adjust quickly to her culture, but she will always be part of our family. And I know that if I ever have the opportunity to visit Ghana (and I’m fully planning to go, if God and Tim will allow me!), I will find that I have a home and family there as well.
As we finish this two year journey of hosting exchange students, I am filled to overflowing with …
- memories, LOTS of memories
- humble thankfulness for the lessons I’ve learned
- gratitude to God for His faithfulness
- joy when I remember the consistent encouragement, love, and prayers of friends and family
- the fruit and growth God has cultivated in my life through amazing experiences
- the gift of love I’ve received from two beautiful young women who are now permanently part of my heart and life
After the dust settles, I will tell you more about hosting exchange students; I feel like I could write a book! For now, please reflect with me with thanksgiving to God for all that He has done! Ama and I pray that God will continue to work in and through us as we part ways. Ama, my precious sister in Christ, has already enthusiastically agreed to be the Representative and Coordinator for the African Branch of Women On God’s Mission! 🙂
Father’s Day Reflections
Tonight my breath caught in my throat as I noticed a bright rainbow just out my back door. It was positively glowing! I’ve never seen the violet ribbon so brilliant. As it expanded into a double rainbow, I could hear my children ooo-ing and ahh-ing from their bedroom window, talking back and forth with their Daddy about what a rainbow means. Hearkening back to our father in the faith Noah, God our Father keeps His promises, of course.
|This spring my Dad designed a little
house for his grandsons.
Tim and our boys enjoyed helping out!
This Father’s Day weekend I am eternally grateful to God for a Dad who loves Him and loves his family. Some of my favorite memories with my Dad include: when we went camping, going to church, walking the mall and him stopping occasionally to buy me a rope of licorice, bike riding, eating mulberries, him teaching me how to drive a tractor on the farm, horseback riding, chuckwagons in Colorado, and the countless times he listened to me practice the piano, clapping after every song!
And now I am blessed to be married to a man who is a good husband and a great father. I am unspeakably thankful that my husband is someone I can respect and trust with my children. He loves playing with them, listening to them, chasing and tickling, singing with them . . . my cup overflows.
|I love this old picture of Tim
and the boys!
Maybe you feel that while others enjoy rainbow memories and relationships, yours have been or are stormy. Perhaps your dad wasn’t the loving kind. Instead he wounded you and wrecked your childhood. What pain and agony! Perhaps you are single and longing for someone to build a family with, but God hasn’t brought him along, yet. I remember the ache. Or, you may have seen your prince charming fall off his horse and land in the kingdom of another princess. There is no one to love you or the children you had together, and your weary heart is broken.
While human beings fall short in sympathy, God understands what we think and feel. When His children are hurting, He hurts, too. And He is closer to us than breathing. Just like the rainbow I saw tonight which followed scary lightening and ominous clouds, God will help us through the storms of life – He is the safe place of eternal love and forever rainbows.
The following verses are familiar to many of us, but let’s take a few moments to soak in them once again. Just like sinking our toes into a plush carpet, munching on a warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie, coming home and smelling freshly baked bread . . . let’s come home to our Father and bask in His love today.
“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:11-14
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
“… your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8b
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-8,11
“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:36
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ …” Ephesians 1:3
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” I John 3:1
“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” I John 4:14