Sermons

Dale Johnson ~ An Intro. to Biblical Counseling

Image courtesy of ACBC.

This past Sunday at church, we had a guest speaker during the Sunday School hour. Since we’ll be hosting ACBC training soon, Dale Johnson, Executive Director of ACBC (the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) presented to us a very helpful, encouraging, and biblical introduction to the concept of biblical counseling and soul care.

If you’re not familiar with biblical counseling, the term might sound like it’s just another name for “Christian counseling” or a regular therapist who happens also to be a Christian. But both of those tend to use traditional secular psychological methods. Biblical counseling is a whole ‘nother animal. It’s more like what some have described as “deep dive discipleship,” or correctly applying the authoritative, sufficient Word of God to your problematic situation. You can learn more, find a certified biblical counselor near you, and find out about becoming a certified biblical counselor at the Biblical Counseling Resources tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

If you’re in, or can get to, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area this spring, and you’d like to attend the ACBC training sessions, click here. Other upcoming training sessions are being held soon in Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and California. If none of those are close enough to you, contact ACBC for more information on training. We all counsel others every day. Why not make sure the counsel we give them is biblical?

Click here to listen to Soul Care by Dale Johnson

Guest Posts

Guest Post: How to Do Biblical Self-Counseling

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

How to do Biblical Self-Counseling
by Lara d’Entremont

I can be far too dependent upon others for growth and change. When a problem, question, decision, or sin becomes apparent in my life, my first step is to run to the comfort of others and seek their help. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; believers within the body of Christ are meant to support and build one another up. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (NASB).

However, the book of Galatians doesn’t end there. If we keep reading, we find an interesting exhortation: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.” (vv. 3-6).

So while fellow believers are to help, support, exhort, and encourage us, there comes a time when we must bear our own load and deal with our own sins. While your fellow sisters in the faith may be able to point sin out to you, give you advice to overcome it, keep you accountable, and pray for you, there comes a point where you need to step up and actually do something. We cannot rely on other people to change us and fix our issues. We need to do biblical self-counseling.

This is what Paul called, “Working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). In other words, this is our side of sanctification. In realizing all this, I was intimidated. If you are feeling that same overwhelm, don’t panic; I have a few steps to help you.

Step One | Choose an Issue to Work On

It may be tempting to become distressed by all the sins in your life and feel hopeless (at least that’s what I often experience). But we can’t allow that to discourage us. Instead, simply choose ONE issue to attack.

Once you choose your sin or issue, find a journal and write out this problem in detail, explaining what it is, when it shows up, what causes it, and why you should stop it. I would also suggest doing some biblical research and finding a few Bible verses to support your decision and writing them down to memorize in the future.

At this point, you should also be confessing to those who have been effected by this problem, especially God. He’s the one our sin is truly against, and we must own up to it. Remember, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 NASB).

Step Two | Create a Thought Journal

You will want to create a thought journal in which you track when the problem shows up. Here is a list of things you could include in your thought journal:

  • The temptation/sin/emotional issue
  • The circumstance:
    • What happened?
    • Who was involved? What did they do and/or say?
    • How did you respond? (To the people and/or situation)
  • The unbiblical thought & response
    • What did you want in that situation?
    • What did you get that you didn’t want in that situation?
    • What were your sinful thoughts in this situation?
    • What was sinful about how you responded? (provide Scripture)
  • The biblical thought & reaction: (provide Scripture for each answer)
    • How could you have reacted biblically?
    • How could you have changed your thinking to be biblical?

Answering questions like these will help you to see if there are any common denominators in your problem and help you root out the true root sin. For example, you may realize that your anxiety comes up whenever there’s a financial issue, which then leads you to realize that you love money too much. Knowing that, you can now better attack the sin; rather than managing your anxiety symptoms, you can work on loving money less.

If you would like a journal for your specific issue, you can find a few like that here.

I suggest keeping this journal during the entire process so you can see how you are improving on the issue as you go.

Step Three | Develop a Plan of Action

Now that we have a sin to attack and are learning what the root cause may be, we need to determine a biblical plan of action.

Start with choosing a few Bible verses to memorize. People sometimes undervalue the power of memorizing Scripture, but it is a great tool for overcoming sin. The Psalmist knew this: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11 NASB).

Important Side Note: Please make sure you don’t take a random verse and rip it out of context. Instead, study the passage and make sure it means what you have interpreted it to mean. This will also be helpful in both your memorization and conquering your issue.

Along with the Bible verses, find some biblical material to read on the subject. When I was working at my anxiety, I read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, which taught me why I did not need to fear but instead trust God wholly. I suggest looking for resources on ACBC’s approved reading list.

Through doing those steps, you should be able to create a put off (sins to stop) and put on (righteous actions to start) list. If you were struggling with anger, your list may look like this:

Put Off:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Impatience
  • Listening to angry music
  • Hitting things
  • Unkind words

Put On:

  • Kindness & patience
  • Trusting God with how people react
  • Praying in moments of anger

Finally, find at least two or three accountability partners to keep you on track. This doesn’t mean confessing to two people who will never bring this up again. Find people who will be intentional and love you enough to ask, “Did you sin today? Did you remember to put on patience?” Find people who will remember you in prayer and are mature in their faith to provide biblical guidance.

Step Four | Rely On God

At this point you’re probably feeling one of two things:

  1. Easy enough! I’ll be on my way to overcoming this sin on my own in no time.
  2. It’s too much! I’ll never be able to do all this on my own.

Neither of these feelings are biblical or helpful to the self-counseling process. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:12-13 NASB).

To the person who thinks this is easy and will be finished before the end of the week, remember that you are a depraved sinner incapable of change on your own. You are utterly dependent on God in this. That means it’s in His timing and His power. So put off your pride and conquer your sin with reverent “fear and trembling” knowing that it is “God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

To the discouraged person, you are right that you cannot do it on your own! Congrats on humbly recognizing your own inability. Now, find courage and confidence, because you have the Holy Spirit working in you. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Find your boast in your weakness, realizing that your ability to conquer sin is found in the power of God.


Lara d’Entremont is a child of God, a wife, and Biblical Counselor in training. Having been made new by God and completely transformed by Him, her desire is to point others back to that same gracious Saviour. Find more of Lara’s writing at her blog, Renewed in Truth.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Mailbag

The Mailbag: What are some biblical ways of addressing my child’s mental illness?

 

My adolescent son has been engaging in recurring sinful behavior that I believe might have led to a mental illness. He recently attempted suicide and his doctor believes medication is the best treatment option. I don’t know what to do. I just know I want my child to be safe. I know you aren’t a doctor, but I was wondering if you had any advice about other things we could try instead.

I know this is a really difficult situation, and I deeply wish I could be of more help. However, as you rightly pointed out, I’m not a doctor and don’t know your son’s situation, so I wouldn’t dream of suggesting changing or stopping any particular treatment.¹

In addition to working closely with your son’s doctors, I would recommend a few things:

1. Continue to pray for his salvation and repentance. Share the gospel with him and point him to Christ whenever you have the opportunity to do so, but use wisdom and be sure you’re not pushing him past what he can deal with at the moment. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the work on your son’s heart that only He can do.

2. Set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling- for you, your husband, and any other children still living at home. If your son would be willing to see your pastor for counseling – in addition to any other treatment he’s receiving, not instead of – that would probably be beneficial as well. Your pastor should have received training in counseling in seminary and can help guide your family through this situation.

3. If your pastor is unable or unwilling to counsel you (or in addition to your pastor’s counseling), you might want to seek out a Certified Biblical Counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. This is not secular counseling with a Christianish tilt to it, but counselors who have received extensive training in Scripture, theology, and counseling to help you apply the Bible to your situation as you walk through it, and help your son understand his sin and the gospel. They are very helpful, and I highly recommend them.

As I said, I wish I could do more to help. I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you. I’m taking a moment to pray for you now, and ask everyone reading this to pray for this family as well.


¹A brief note to my readers- I know many of you strongly disagree with psychological and psychiatric treatment. There are many aspects of these disciplines which I disagree with as well. However, it would be dangerous, unethical, unwise, and ungodly for me to recommend for or against any specific type of treatment in this forum. Any comments suggesting this parent should discontinue any type of mental health treatment her child is currently receiving will not be published.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.