By Dayton Kitterman
Some decades ago there was a significant shift in the way we, as Americans, looked at the church and especially the Bible. Of course, we continued to acknowledge that the church was good for spiritual matters and the Bible could teach us the way to heaven but when it came to “real life” issues neither the church nor the Bible, we had come to believe, could provide the kind of help one really needed in the practical issues of life. This new perspective was quite different from what the church had previously taught.
When the Old Testament spoke of the coming Messiah it said clearly that the Messiah would be called the “wonderful counselor.” Are these descriptors of Jesus Christ to be taken as mere platitudes or are we to take them at face value and believe that the Savior of the World was also a master in understanding our human condition in all of its complexities and be capable of providing real help to real people with real problems? It is in Isaiah 9:6 where the words “wonderful counselor” are found. The word counselor refers to a Hebrew word meaning “to give advice, to give counsel, to tell someone what one should plan to do including some elements of warning if the advice is not heeded.” The promised Messiah would be one who could speak plainly into the lives of ordinary people with the common problems human beings face. His counsel was practical and effective. As Jesus was completing His earthly ministry, He encouraged His disciples with this promise, “I… will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor…” (John 14:16a – NIV84). When Jesus used the word “another” He was clarifying His role as “the Counselor” promised by the Father and that the Holy Spirit would continue in that same role after Jesus’ resurrection. There is a counselor in town. He knows you perfectly. He knows you completely. He will provide the practical and effective counsel you need to bring meaning and purpose to your life.
It is this kind of counseling to which the Apostle Paul make reference in Romans 15:14. Speaking to the followers of Jesus he says, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another,” (NIV). The phrase “competent to instruct” from this passage became the foundation for the seminal work by Dr. Jay Adams (“Competent to Counsel,” 1970 Zondervan) in which Dr. Adams clearly presents the concepts and responsibilities of the church to provide sound biblical counsel. The church is not only commissioned to provide biblical counsel, we are responsible to do so. God, through His Spirit and His Word provides the counsel we need for dealing with the multiplicity of real-life issues we regularly face. It is this kind of biblical counsel that was commonplace in the church.
I have been a part of the biblical counseling movement since 1989 and have seen the real-life benefit and the significant life change resulting from sound biblical counsel, the kind once found in the church but has recently been lost. Over these 30 years I have been privileged to earn a Ph.D. in biblical counseling and to be certified as a “Fellow” with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. I have enjoyed teaching these biblical principles in a variety of venues from workshops and seminars to lectures in various bible colleges in the U.S. and Europe.
About a year ago a group of like-minded church leaders were burdened by the need in our churches and decided to provide a non-denominational biblical counseling ministry to people and churches of our area. After many meetings, lots of prayer and long hours of planning the Board of Directors was formed and The Biblical Counseling Ministry was established. Today, biblical counseling is offered to anyone at “The Biblical Counseling Ministry,” located in Visalia. We are available to help churches or individuals deal with the everyday struggles and difficulties of life. Our counselors are certified and our counseling is confidential. More information can be found at our web site: bcmhelp.org or by email at email@example.com.
Dayton Kitterman is interim pastor at the Church of God of Exeter and a director for the Biblical Counseling Ministry in Visalia.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.