Trinitarian Counseling

“What 2-3 books would you recommend to someone wanting to embark on in-depth study of the Trinity, and, importantly, its application in living the Christian life?”

That was one of the questions posed to the Q&A panel at last week’s PRTS conference. A few of the speakers mentioned Bob Letham’s book on the Trinity, but there was a clear sense that the book combining in-depth study of the Trinity PLUS practical application is still awaiting an author. And it’s especially practical application of the Trinity to the Christian life that’s extremely rare.

Counseling and the Fatherhood of God
Let me give an example of how this might work in the area of counseling. Although my focus will be on the Fatherhood of God, similar pieces could also be written about “Counseling and the Son” or “Counseling and the Holy Spirit.”

Today we’ll look at the the impact of God’s Fatherhood upon the counselor; tomorrow we’ll consider the impact upon the counselee; and the next day we’ll illustrate how how God’s fatherliness helps us address specific counseling problems.

God’s Fatherhood reminds the counselor to carry two truths into every counseling session: (1) I am my Father’s child, and (2) I am my Father’s representative.

(1) I am my Father’s child
God is my Father in two ways, by creation and by grace.

In common with the whole human race, I am a child of God by creation. Although we deny the universal Fatherhood of God as taught by liberal scholars such as Adolf Von Harnack, the fact that God is the creator of everyone means that, in a limited sense, God is the Father of every human being (Acts 17:28)

In counseling, this reminds me of the fundamental unity and equality of the whole human race, and gives me a fellow-feeling and a sympathy with my counselees, including those who are unbelievers.

Just as the Father makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45), so, in imitation of my Father, I am to seek the physical and spiritual good of my fellow-creatures.

This truth also reminds me that counselor and counselee are dependent upon the same Father for life, health, strength and all other physical resources (Acts 17:28).

However, as a Christian I must go further, I must go beyond the universal Fatherhood of God by creation, because, as a believer in Christ, I am also now a child of God by grace.

This is especially important to remember when I am counseling fellow-believers, fellow sons and daughters of God the Father. That changes my relationship with them from professional to family. I’m not going into the interview as a stranger giving professional help to another stranger. I am a brother in the same family as my counselee.

That also helps me to see myself and the counselee as being simultaneously trained by the same Father. God has brought two of His children together to train both of us, to move both of us from weakness to maturity, from ignorance to knowledge.

And, of course, as I walk towards the meeting I am depending upon my Father for all spiritual resources, for me and for the success of my counseling.

(2) I am my Father’s representative
Just as the preacher is an ambassador for God in the pulpit, so is the counselor in the counseling session. That challenges me to ask:

  • What am I communicating about God, especially His Fatherhood?
  • Am I re-presenting God accurately to this person?
  • What does this person think about God when he sees and hears me?
  • Do I welcome counselees as God the Father would?
  • Do I communicate warm empathy or cold indifference?
  • Is my body language and appearance “fatherly” or “kingly?”
  • Are my words and the Spirit I speak them in fair reflections of the Father.
  • Am I getting in the way of the Father or am I helping brothers and sisters towards the Father?

Summary: Remembering the Fatherhood of God should make counselors more loving, more sympathetic, more dependent, and more God-like.

Check out

Why exercising makes us happier
Having seen triathlon athletes crawling, yes crawling, along our road yesterday, I’m thankful we have science to help our unbelief.

Student loan debt and the future of Seminaries
Russel Moore in the Wall Street Journal on how churches can strengthen their recruitment of ministers

Four responses to the challenge of same-sex unions
I’d add a fifth: How does the church help families dealing with the social complications that result from same-sex relationships?

The power of unplugging
Ryan Lee with a testimony to the refreshing power of unplugging for ten days. Along similar lines, here’s Vacating the Internet from Tim Challies, with his usual helpful and down-to-earth practical takeaways.

Five reasons why we should still read the book of Leviticus today
The first is: “It’s the enemy’s favorite book to tear apart.”

The Entrepreneur’s Ferrari brain…with bicycle breaks
This might help you to understand someone in your life.

Tweets of the Day

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

Leading and reading

In an appeal for deeper and wider reading among leaders, John Coleman highlights the importance of reading in the lives of Steve Jobs, Sir Winston Churchill, and General David Petraeus. He then persuades us with three benefits:

1. Reading improves intelligence and leads to innovation and insight: it increases vocabulary, world knowledge, abstract reasoning skills, and creativity (especially for those reading in many fields)

2. Reading makes you more effective in leading others: it enhances verbal intelligence, deepens empathy, and ramps up productivity, often leading to pay rises and promotions.

3. Reading relaxes and improves health: reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, and may even fend off Alzheimer’s!

As, despite these attractions, people are reading less widely and less deeply, Coleman closes with five ways to help us improve personal literacy and, therefore, leadership skills. Read the whole article here.

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The missing ingredient in many sermons
“Like cooking, preaching can become bland. It can fail to have that freshness worthy of the gospel table. There are many reasons why. One could identify a lack of preparation, lack of understanding, poor delivery, and shallowness. We would not disagree that under-cooking the homiletical meal is a problem. But there is something else that can make preaching bland: the deadly reality of not being personally wowed by the subject.”

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Trillia Newbell shares a little of her personal journey to a biblical view of womanhood.

Depression: Helpful things to say and do
Nine “Do’s.”

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Sam Crabtree: “Capturing and holding attention is simultaneously an art and a science. To the degree that attention-grabbing is a science, is learnable, is transferrable—here are 24 suggestions that come to mind.”

Being a pastor and speaking out in today’s culture
Michael Milton offers four guidelines. And Sam Logan offers four more for Christians who want to speak about President Obama or any other politician for that matter.

The Bachelor Pastor: Premarital reflections on singleness, ministry, and purity
This is a great blog post: “I have waited 44 years to write this. It is my last sermon as a single man. This coming Saturday I will marry the love of my life, Miss Jennifer Terrell.”