86: What is Counseling?


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What You'll Discover in this Episode:


What is Counseling?


BIBLICAL COUNSELING IS FOR ALL OF US. It guides us, instructs us for what to do next. In, Psalm 32:8, God wants to instruct is in a way that we should go, that He will be with us in His guidance. He is the Counselor of our life. Biblical counseling is keeping the Lord in the rightful place and going with His Word. 


A lot of times when we hear the word "counseling", we think we're in therapy. We take the world's concept and that counseling is only for people who are in trouble.


In this episode, Pastor Jeff Christianson is joined by Jennie Christianson to discuss the deeper meaning of Biblical Counseling. Join in the discussion below and share us your thoughts about this topic.

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  • Katie says:

    I really enjoyed this podcast. I enjoyed the topic and it just really stood out to me what it means to live for Christ at the disregard of one’s own personal interests or living selfishly for the flesh but instead I just love the picture she painted of what it means to walk in the Spirit. I really enjoyed just the contrast of Biblical Counseling vs. Secular Counseling pursuing the heart of the matter by walking in a way of surrender and the disregard of oneself’s personal selfish desires but instead to choose to walk with Christ even if it means suffering with Him. This is a very heavy call to continue walking with Him regardless of what that means or what it will look like. To entrust oneself to the Creator’s hands and purposes can be a place of feeling like you’re on a roller coaster and yet also in the most peaceful place in the world. To continue denying oneself and picking up our cross for the cause of Christ can be excruciating and yet also the exact place we need to be to be refined~ being willing to be in it for the long haul no matter what the pain is definitely where I’m personally being stretched and yet just to hear the way she summed this up was so inspiring to just disregard one’s own interests. I really enjoyed the verse shared “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3

    • Luis Hernandez says:

      I agree she did a great job in explaining what it looks like to walk in the spirit. putting what we want aside to follow Christ is a difficult step but as we take the steps we will see His goodness and mercy in our life’s. He says if we follow Him and His word abide in us we can ask anything and we will receive it. to me knowing that there is nothing greater than to know God who want to bless me, is comforting to my heart. And His intention is that we pass on those same blessing to others.

    • harry e innerst says:

      Good word Katie. It is so interesting to me the way He describes these treasures as hidden. Yet as we dwell in Him as a branch does to the vine we find those treasures in plain sight just as He planned it.

      • Katie says:

        I really took note of this verse as well because it’s one I’ve never particularly meditated on. I like how Jon Courson often brings up “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2 I think that is so so interesting that the Lord has so much to offer that a person must desire to seek Him to learn more of His hidden wisdom and we will be infinitely be learning of Him and His ways.

    • Rachel Neglia says:

      Love your imagery Katie! Roller coaster yet peaceful, excruciating yet the exact place we should be. As Christians I think it’s so vital that we acknowledge the pain and suffering involved in death to self, and at the same time rejoice in the greater truth that in Him we have all we need for life and godliness, and He is our great Shepherd and Counselor in the midst of it all.

      • Katie says:

        I really love this point that although there is great pain there is also more joy. My Pastor just brought up the point that it is a great mystery that joy and sorrow can be present together. Thanks for sharing that verse that He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and He will never call us to something He hasn’t sufficiently prepared us for.

    • Tammy says:

      I would agree, it can mentally feel like a heavy call to continue to walk with Him regardless of what it looks like!  But as you mentioned, as we continue relying on God’s Word and consistently trusting and resting in His promises, we can have that peace & comfort that only God can give even when life feels like you are on a roller coaster.

  • Audra Downs says:

    Pastor Jeff and Jennie cut right to the heart of discipleship in this podcast. If the Lord Jesus is going to reign in our lives, we must first do what our flesh resists and that is deny self. At the heart of every sin is selfishness. This is the decision point where the Spirit who longs to be invited and abide in us and the flesh who wants his or her way meet. Making it personal, God wants my full attention. There are so many verses that come to mind… Exodus 20:5, God is a jealous God; Luke 16:13, we cannot serve both God and anything that is competing with his fullness in our lives.

    It amazes me how every week, the podcast hits on something going on in my life. Just this morning, I had a difficult conversation with my mom. I was wanting affirmation from her and as I listened to the podcast, I realized that I must deny myself in the situation. The Holy Spirit had already begun to do a work in my heart in that I was softened and resigning myself but God spoke so deeply to my heart about the need for self-denial that I know where God is leading me in the situation. I am grateful Jeff and Jennie and Thank you Lord for your faithfulness!

    • Luis Hernandez says:

      praise God! that’s how I feel God has been counseling me. blessing brother God is making you an expert of His people you will make a good spiritual counselor. God wants to renew our minds to know what His perfect will for our life’s. How great the feeling that we are doing what Gods has blessed us with.

    • harry e innerst says:

      Good thoughts Audra. God does not share His throne with anything or anyone else. If we are to help anyone else we must abide in Him alone. Peter said “where else would we go, only you have the words of eternal life”.

    • Angelica Lorenzo says:

      It’s such a blessing indeed to have our Pastor Jeff and his wife Jennie teach us about counseling! How fulfilling it must be, listening to them both enjoying working for the Lord. That’s how I want to be as well! Happily doing what you’re called to do effortlessly. I’m grateful to be taught by you both and looking forward to many more teaching podcast!

    • David Bowman says:

      Audra, I agree with the timeliness of these podcasts for my life. Just when I think I have it all “figured out”, I am brought back to the basics. The “self” must be crucified on the cross of Christ, but it must be apprehended first. When we continually allow the flesh to operate unhindered it makes killing it that much more difficult. I am attached and even defensive of my own opinions, thoughts, perspectives, etc. All of these things must submit to the knowledge of Christ and His Word. You are definitely correct that God wants our undivided attention, and He certainly deserves it. Lord, helps us all to identify and crucify the flesh which seeks to keep us from You!

    • Tammy says:

      Audra, this podcast did exemplify that at the heart of every sin is selfishness. No matter how you try to justify it, dissect it or even excuse it. This is one of the greatest things about counseling biblically, is that God’s Word will filter out all of our human reasoning and focus on bringing the person to a closer relationship with our creator, Jesus Christ.

      • Audra Downs says:

        Amen Tammy!
        I am grateful and humbled at how the truths shared in the podcast affected so many areas of my life this past week. God really used the podcast and our homework to hone in on some areas that need God’s refinement. You are right, at the heart of sin is selfishness. 🙂

  • Luis Hernandez says:

    Luke 9:23 will definitely be seen as a confrontation approach to many looking for counseling. But How crucial it is to the new way of thinking. I know, I have struggle with this area myself. However as I focus on this verse, I’m learning that there are still self wants in my life that i have not denied. I’m starting to see how God’s wisdom over laps all men’s knowledge to life complications. Like His response to witch is the greatest commandment, He said love your God, second love you neighbor. I am sure this response stunned most of their self righteous thinking. Much like Gods word it get straight to the root of the issue. I pray that I always live a Christ Centered life. So when people come to see me to edify their own ways of thinking. It will not be my own advise it will be Gods counsel. Admonishing those with prideful, lustful, selfish ways of thinking. And comforting those who have been confuse with Gods word. But first walking in the spirit to be faithful, love, and have self control.

  • harry e innerst says:

    Self denial is such a key principle for living the Christian life with the kind of success that is needed to reach and help others. As a young man I lived in a way that I could do anything if I just put my mind to it. I could be reckless and foolish and I could just out run the consequences if I just put my mind to it. Unfortunately as a believer it took me too many years to grow out of that thinking. Learning to deny myself and to wait on God is a much more satisfying way to live. I still struggle with self denial. It is such a easy default position to fall back on. The Holy Spirit longs to be part of our lives, but He won’t push His way in when we are bent on doing things our way. Thank you Jeff and Jennie for a great admonition to put self on the cross where it belongs and let it die. The plans that He has for us are so far superior to our own plans. Help us to be part of His plan for the ages, by dyeing to self and following His lead as we counsel other with our examples.

    • Angelica Lorenzo says:

      Thanks for your transparency Harry. Just like you, I, too, still have a lot of dying of self to learn, having been ‘stubborn’ and ‘strong-willed’ mostly growing up. All of us are not inherently submissive and surrendered to the Spirit right away. I believe it’s a journey we all go through as we press on in our new life in Christ.

    • Audra Downs says:

      Harry, I really enjoyed reading your comment. The crux of our spiritual life is indeed, putting our will down every day and saying, “Here I am Lord, use me for what YOU will.”

      I can relate to what you shared about being driven. God has had to refine me in this area also. I have to intentionally ask Him where He wants my focus so that I am not running headlong with my own agenda and self will.

      I appreciate your candid response.
      Audra

    • Ericka Tapia says:

      I recall being this same exact way too Harry. I was a self fulfilled person and feminist too. But not long ago the Lord led me to do a study on the hand of God on my life and purpose to “my” overcoming’s. Wow was that an eye opener for me. Each one of us deals with the issue of self denial daily, some of us more than others but never the less, Stronger is He who lives with in us!

  • Angelica Lorenzo says:

    Everyone can relate to the constant battle going on in us, as we’re confronted daily with choosing between God’s way or our way. Jesus Christ knew what we’ll need in life, having been both man and God when the Father sent Him to save us. The reason, He left us our Comforter, the Holy Spirit when He ascended to be with the Father. He led by example, demonstrated obedience, as He did only what the Father told Him to do and said only what the Father told to say, displayed literal self-denial, and gave His life as a sacrifice so that we may live. He truly is our Wonderful Counselor, in every aspect of having authority and credibility in what He counsels us. He lives what He teaches.

    • Ericka Tapia says:

      He truly is the role model to follow! Very frequently I have to stop myself in my thinking and gone back to the Red letters. What did Jesus say about this? What did He do about that? Following His examples, though not always easy, has definitely brought about the most favorable outcome, even if I can not see it at the moment, in time God will reveal that He worked all things for good!

    • Leslie says:

      Love this, Christ was the best example of self denial.

    • Margaret Deherrera says:

      I definitely can relate to the battle going on in us between doing things my way or doing things God’s way. I am so glad I have the Holy Spirit to guide me and show me truth. It brings comfort to know that we have someone who can sympathize with us, being He was man. There’s is nothing that I go through that I know Jesus can relate to. It’s good to know we have a Wonderful counselor who is all knowing

  • Ericka Tapia says:

    God is perfect in all His ways and in all He does. We often say “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good” but do we really believe it? If we believe God is good why do we intend to manipulate His doings? This comes to mind in the area in which Jennie speaks about people seeking counseling and really just wanting a “quick fix” or an affirmation of fleshly desires and thoughts. I was guilty of it myself and often face it still with my own kids! Death to self is really the only solution. By doing so, I have been able to see the work of the Spirit advancing me in the things that matter, in the things of the Kingdom of God. But wow do I still have so much more to work on in putting to death the things of self. An observation I have made is that so many people seeking counsel do so because they feel empty and incomplete, I can testify that I have been made whole in Christ. No self gratification, no self fulfillment, no self making can provide that completion, only Christ can, but only if self moves out of the way.

    I have a confession, this podcast came to me at a time that I completely messed up in the counseling I gave to my baby sister dealing with marital issues. I did not die to myself (emotions, opinions, desires, etc) and I did not encourage her to do so either. This podcast gave me great conviction and brought it all to light for me. I am grateful God guides, disciplines and corrects and that he is the God of second chances. Today He has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate myself and correct my mistakes.

    • David Bowman says:

      Ericka, our God is merciful and forgiving. Thank you for being willing to share your personal experience. Although we have been made alive by the Spirit, the old vestiges of the flesh are hard to kill. They are like those pesky Canaanites that refused to be defeated after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. I must be reminded daily that flesh cannot destroy flesh. If I refuse to walk, live, and rely on the Spirit of God then I will never be able to put my flesh to death. We are bombarded constantly with the basic principles of this world that seek to cheat us of the powerful and precious promises of God (Colossians 2:8), so let’s continue to receive His counsel and the strength to overcome ourselves.

    • Leslie says:

      Very true, sometimes God asks us to do things that aren’t our first choice, but it is ultimately for the best. Even his no’s are filled with goodness. And it requires faith some times to believe God is good all the time! But he is.

    • Audra Downs says:

      I really appreciate your candidness Erika! I had stumbled into an issue with my mom the same morning I listened to the podcast and felt the Holy Spirit stir my heart with correction.

      You are not alone. It is humbling yet, in the same breath of correction, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God corrects and disciplines those He loves. 🙂

      The daily death to self makes so much sense because daily we encounter issues with people where death to self honors God instead of sinning in the moment that we have a choice to make. Life (dying to self) or Death (self-gratification or self-protection).

    • Rachel Neglia says:

      Ericka thank you so much for sharing your own experience! Praise God for His grace and as you said, “second chances”. And how encouraging to remember that He is our great Counselor, so the burden of solving everything can be lifted from us. I’m sure He’ll continue using you in your sister’s life as He continues to teach and refine you (and us all!).

  • David Bowman says:

    Counseling does have a stigma that causes many within and without the church to consider it for “those people” and not themselves. Fortunately, our God, who is the Wonderful Counselor, clearly shows us in Scripture that we all need counsel from time to time and throughout our sanctification. Luke 9:23, is a foundational text in biblical counseling which illustrates our dire need for God’s counsel. How can we possibly hope to take up our cross and follow the perfect Savior without His counsel? Only the absolutely prideful would undertake such an endeavor in their own strength. We are in need of better resources; the resources that come from God and His Word are sufficient.

    Those sufficient resources will enable us to deny ourselves and carry the weight of our cross. Since our goal is Christ-likeness (holiness) and not happiness, it logically follows that our approach to counseling others will differ from those in the world. The human counselor, as well as the counselee, both stand in need of God’s counsel. This places the burden and fixes our eyes on God and not the human instrument to cause lasting change and transformation.

  • Leslie says:

    The secrets of the lord are with those who fear him is a perfect verse to hear today, once again God declares his desire to lead us and counsel us. But it’s with those who love Him and have a relationship with him. This podcast was encouraging especially during the busy holiday week, to deny ourselves! Our walk is a daily constant walk of self denial and is a necessary reminder for believers. All of our decisions should be made not for our comfort or satisfaction of the flesh, but to please God. I think these disciplines definitely belong to us first.

    • Margaret Deherrera says:

      I agree with you Leslie, our walk is not just a once thing, it’s a constant every day that we need to die to self. The more we practice it the easier it will be to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us to die to self daily, when we are struggling. We need to base our decisions on pleasing God and not satisfying the flesh. It’s something we also need to put into practice daily being God pleasing instead of self pleasing.

  • Margaret Deherrera says:

    Really enjoyed the podcast Pastor Jeff and Jennie discussed this week. In our Christian walk it is hard sometimes to believe God is good all the time, because of our circumstances, and feelings and emotion. Some tend to turn to temporary fixes instead of leaning on Christ even when things are not going to great. We tend to want to please self. Sometimes picking up our cross and carrying it isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. When we tend to look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and surrender everything to God, some times it helps in not giving into our fleshly desires as we focus our thoughts and comfort on God instead of ourselves. Dying to self isn’t just a one time thing it is something we must put into practice every day, because it is so easy to get lost in self mode if we take our eyes off of the one perfect person. Every podcast I’ve listened to never failed has been a topic I needed to hear to help me to get my focus back on truth.

    • Chander Letulle says:

      Margaret – I couldn’t agree more. I have found great value in each of Pastor Jeff’s podcast. I especially needed to hear this week’s podcast. Your post also reminds me of a scripture that was shared in the podcast.

      The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalms 32:8 NLT)

    • Caleb Franks says:

      I love your candidness Margaret. The Christian walk isn’t always a stroll through a garden; often it is a walk through treacherous terrain. The emotions, feelings, and fleshly desires are the parts of our being that we naturally most identify with; the very things that Jesus tells us to deny and crucify. It is far from easy, but finding victory in the Spirit is what we are called to do as believers.

  • Chander Letulle says:

    Jenny Christianson said Biblical Counseling is to help others grow in Christ and having a Christ-centered life ourselves and passing that on to others.

    Pastor Jeff added:
    1. Living a Godly Life
    2. Christ-Centered
    3. Passing that on to other people, and walking with them through it

    I really appreciate the clarity and simplicity of this and at the same time acknowledge the challenge that Living a Godly, Christ-centered life can be. It’s also one thing to pass along our experience it’s another thing to “walk with them through it”.

    • Caleb Franks says:

      I also really appreciated the simplicity and clarity of the podcast. The more I have lived, the more the these truths you listed stand out as absolutes that transcend all the rabble. How beautifully complex, yet simple is the Christ centered life. Loving Jesus and letting Him live through us, and helping others along the journey is true counseling.

  • Tammy says:

    Luke 9:23 “…if anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

    A disciple of Christ, a Christ-follower, a Christian is more than just being saved. Christ has called us to be more than a proclaimer of accepting Him into our heart for our salvation. Christ clearly describes, in Luke 9:23, what He desires from all who wish to follow Him and what to emulate.

    This description in Luke 9:23 is how we are to counsel ourselves as Christians, which in turn is given or expressed to those who we may give counsel to. My life should look like a denial of my self-interest and or a denial of my own self-fulfillment AND then my life becomes about living according to what Christ’s Word says His teachings. Every day I am called to have this perspective as a Christ-follower. Every day Christ asks that we are to seek His will, His purpose, His interest, His guidance as we live out our daily life. As we take up our cross, all the situations and scenarios that we get to be a part of, are all for God to be able to use me/us as His instrument to give instruction from His Word. A life lived out according to God’s Word is Biblical counseling.

  • Rachel Neglia says:

    I loved listening to Jeff and Jenny together on this podcast! Something Jeff mentioned really jumped out at me- that people used to come to pastors to be shaped and discipled, whereas now so often they come for affirmation of self. It’s certainly not popular to encourage death to self, and yet we need our self life to be crucified because that’s what stops us from following Jesus and ultimately walking in all the fullness of the Spirit that He has for us. For me, I see this from both sides: when I go to a friend for counsel, I certainly prefer (in my flesh) encouragement and affirmation as opposed to admonishment. And when I counsel, it’s much nicer to encourage and comfort than it is to confront. I think it all comes down to who I’m trying to please, God or man? Am I feeding self or Spirit? If my eyes are fixed on Jesus, my goal will be discipleship and death to self, no matter how uncomfortable that might be.

    • Chander Letulle says:

      Rachel – I can certainly relate to wanting encouragement and affirmation as opposed to admonishment. That is particularly surprising for me as I am usually very comfortable giving out admonishment so you would think I would be equally open to receiving it.

      Something Pastor Bob said in Chapter 10 really stood out to me, “In trials, our flesh is circumcised, while our faith is exercised.” The next time someone admonishes me and I struggle through the growth that brings I’ll try to remember this.

  • Caleb Franks says:

    Jennie was an awesome addition to the podcast. I was just talking to my wife about the nature of modern society. Humans are still the same, but there is just a huge influx of new challenges and complexities that are plaguing our world. Problems are surfacing and becoming more transparent to everyone. The truth is that everyone needs counsel. For the biblical counselor, these times demand that we live up to our proclamation that God is sufficient. The foundational aspects of biblical counseling that were mentioned in these podcasts are what I need to be holding onto. Like Jennie kept saying, God is bigger and better than all our problems. He knows all the answers and He is ready to disciple us and make us more like His son Jesus.

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