Limitations in Secular Counseling Policy

Although it’s commendable that some Christian counselors gone through the academic and clinical requirements for state licensure, secular policies may limit spiritual and moral guidance.
For example, the ACA code of ethics states:
A.4.b.
Personal Values
Counselors are aware of—and avoid imposing—their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature. https://www.counseling.org/
This policy implies that values are neutral or are limited to the counselee’s perspective. Case in point: discouraging abortion could be considered inappropriate because abortion is legal.
But all types of counseling assume a set of values and a process of gaining and applying wisdom. But whose values? What kind of wisdom?
Biblical guidance is summarized in Psalm 119:105:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”
If a Christian depends on a counselor who is bound to not give biblical guidance, the warning of Jesus comes to mind: “…They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14).
James compares two kinds of wisdom: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual… For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).
Therefore the Pastoral/Biblical Counselor should be up front about his/her model and values so that the counselee can freely decide if they desire Christian Counseling. The use of an informed consent form is important to document this mutual understanding. Here is a sample: Informed Consent
Note: When the counselee desires and agrees to Biblical Counseling, this does not imply any pressure tactics on the part of the counselor. There is always unconditional acceptance in the confidential helping relationship and respect for the counselee’s responsibility to determine goals and to make scriptural faith choices.
J.B.W.

Online Courses

Grace Fellowship has launched a new online course platform. Now students can register and track their progress for personal enrichment and mentoring. There are six course in “GFI Study Hall” and each is free. These courses are useful for counselee homework and continuing education.

Just visit, bookmark the site, and create an account there. The course portal is gfi.thinkific.com

Motivational Gifts

The topic of spiritual gifts can be a beneficial aspect of Discipleship Counseling. The teaching context would include 1 Peter 4:10,11, Eph. 4:11-12; and 1 Cor. 12-14.
Personal discipling/mentoring/counseling could facilitate the disciple’s appreciation, recognition and deployment of his/her gift(s).
A model that I have found very helpful over the decades considers the seven gifts Romans 12:3-8 as “motivational gifts.” In other words, each of us as believers has one of these seven gifts as a primary motivational gift. With that motive/orientation you may have one or more “ministry gifts”… and the use of these abilities may sometimes show up in a “manifestation gift.”
Here are some resources that unpack this approach:
(click the link on each of the seven for more detail)
An online (and downloadable) survey is at:
Books using this model include:
And note Charles Stanley’s sermons on the seven (motivational) spiritual gifts :
If the Discipleship Counselor appreciates the importance of spiritual gifts in life and ministry, he/she may discover this topic to be more scriptural and beneficial than the popular four personality categories (as used in the DISC profile).
JBW

Appropriation

Classic Exchanged Life Counseling applies the cross-oriented deeper life message to strategic Discipleship Counseling. It deals primarily with the heart, so that behavior change and topical guidance are primarily addressed on the resurrection side of the cross (Gal. 2:20).

Handbook to Happiness and Handbook for Christ Centered Counseling by Dr. Charles Solomon have been foundational to this branch of Christian Counseling. Those familiar with Grace Fellowship’s edition of the “Wheel diagrams” recognize that the process boils down to the counselee reframing his/her journey from the self-life to the Christ Life (see F.B. Meyer’s book by this title).

This past year GFI has started to use a new diagram to assist people in understanding the process of how to appropriate Christ as Life (Col 3:1-4). Although our identification with Christ is a gift of God at the new birth (1 Cor. 1:30) our practical experience of this (in the soul and behavior) is conditional. How does one move from the defeat of Galatians 3:1-3 to the victory of Galatians 2:20;5:22-24?

Some (trying to avoid the mistake of self-effort in sanctification) say “there is no how to.” Others assume that the practical experience of victory is automatic if the exchanged life is interpreted in a psychologically comfortable way. Consider the following biblical, practical explanation.

The appropriation diagram has been helping counselees with a simple summary of the response God calls us to for the abundant life (John 10:10).

Notice the sample Scripture verses in the diagram that support the five “R”s:

  1. Repent (Admit errors of your natural way and align with God’s way.)
  2. Relinquish (Present yourself to God as a living sacrifice.)
  3. Recognize (Discern your co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Christ.)
  4. Reckon (Count on this revelation to be true personally.)
  5. Rest (Depend on Christ to live His Life through you.)

As the discipler cooperates with the Holy Spirit, he/she facilitates this process of appropriating Jesus Christ as Life. In this way the counselor serves like Joshua (Josh. 1-3), guiding the redeemed wanderer cross the Jordan River into Canaan.

Those who are involved in personal ministry are invited to study and share this appropriation diagram. We would appreciate your feedback about this appropriation tool.

The God-Centered Legacy of DeVern Fromke

An author that taught the message of union with Christ with a God-centered perspective was DeVern Fromke. Books such as The Ultimate Intention are on the required reading list for our network of Galatians 2:20 counseling ministries. I appreciated some personal calls and correspondence with him in his later years. Brother Fromke went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago. Author Frank Viola posted his respects for Devern Fromke’s ministry at Frank’s popular blog:

“One of my mentors has gone to be with the Lord. A treasured spiritual luminary has left this earth. DeVern Fromke is now with God. He was 93.

“I met DeVern in 1993 along with Stephen Kaung (disciple of Watchman Nee)… Fromke ministered in conferences with the man who has had the most influence on my life, T. Austin-Sparks–though Sparks left this realm before I ever heard his name. All of these men gave me my foundation in the Eternal Purpose of God. And I still marvel at the depth of revelation whenever I read Sparks…

“He, along with Kaung and Sparks, were pioneers of God’s Ultimate Purpose. I’m grateful for his life and legacy. Beyond everything else, he showed me how to carry the Lord’s highest message without being egotistical or high-minded. DeVern was a portrait of the humility of Christ in a gifted vessel.”

Posted by Frank Viola, October 29, 2016
https://frankviola.org/2013/02/22/devernfromke/

DeVern Fromke’s books for adults and children are still available at https://fromke.com/

My Dad in Heaven

“When children are little, they are happy to boast about their dads … how big they are … how strong they are … My Dad Is The Best Dad In The Universe is my best attempt to boast in the same way about my Heavenly Father.”

“Each line in this 12 minute video was inspired by a Bible passage … Over 150 in total!
This video can be downloaded for free along with the audio narration and text.”

When you visit AbbasKids.com, download the free video, Cartoon Gallery and PDF books by Barry Adams. They are full of visual grace-and-truth for children of all ages!

What is Eternal Life?

As Exchanged Life disciplers/counselors convey the message of the believer’s union with Christ, the nature of eternal life is addressed. Here is a brief biblical outline on this theme.

God is eternal…without beginning and without end.

“Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2

Eternal live is essentially God’s Life.

“[God]…who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” 1 Tim. 6:16

Eternal Life is not restricted or defined by chronological time.

“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” John 8:56-58

As God the Son, Christ is eternal
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2

Eternal life is received when a person is redeemed (born again).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47

Eternal Life is Christ’s Life.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” John 14:6

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” John 11:25,26

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” 1 John 5:11-13

God has made provision for Christ’s life to be the believer’s life source experientially.

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Col. 3:3,4

“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature,” 2 Peter 1:3,4

This spiritual union of the Christian life is symbolized in the Vine – branch relationship.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

– JBW (NKJV quotes)

This article in PDF: What is Eternal Life?