Purposes and goals of pastoral counseling. Before stating the purpose or goal of pastoral counseling it is important to define what pastoral counseling is. The easiest way to approach a definition is to narrow the field by identifying what pastoral counseling is not since many activities aid Soul Care, or spiritual growth toward Christian sanctification. At its broadest levels, Christian Friendship can be provided by friends and family to encourage deep growth and healing (Benner, 17). Pastoral ministry includes “anything that brings people into contact with God nurtures the growth of their spirits and heals their souls” (Benner, 18), but is often stunted to maintain all pastoral roles.
We are the “Pharisees of Today.”
The 7 Woes of Christ contextualized for a modern audience.
“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14).
As in Luke 14:11, Jesus illustrates again illustrates the concept of the “upside-down Kingdom.” For justification cannot come by works, by religion, or any other man made attempt to reach God. Christ is clear that it is only through recognizing our helplessness and repenting of our failure that we shall be found, just as He explained repeatedly that “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33). Even in the Old Testament, again and again, disaster is promised to be averted if only God's people will humble themselves and repent of their ways (2 Chronicles 7:14, 33:23, 36:12, Ezra 8:21)! It's a paradoxical principle of humiliation before exaltation, which is seen best in Christ's ministry on earth.
And [Jesus] he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
How Jesus might have told a modern crowd this parable:
“The company of certain rich businessman produced large profits. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I've made it to the top.'
Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will sell my firm and retire, and there I will build a house 'spare-no-expense' and join a country club. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of money invested for many years. Take life easy; eat at 5-star restaurants, drink imported wine and enjoy all that life has to offer.'
Bud God said to Him, 'You fool! This very night you will have a stroke and die. Then who will inherit your stocks, annuities, and properties?'”
The Reforms of Kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah
Francesco Hayez, Destruction of the Temple
Entropy was one consequence of the fall, dooming all creation to a slow decay into chaos. Even the loyalty and gratitude of the people the Lord called out of the fray and into his kingdom are not exempt from the effects of entropy. This decay is seen as their faith drifts from God's core tenants through worldly desires of control, convenience, and compromise. To reverse the drift, The Lord periodically raises up radicals who call for reform, to end unorthodox practices and return to a pure relationship of faith. This inevitable cycle is a consistent theme within the history of the church, with clear biblical foundations as seen throughout the Kings of Judah.
During the divided monarchy of Israel, the drift that began gradually during the golden age of King Solomon jumped drastically with the northern kingdom of Israel's political split sanctioning blatant compromise in the name of convenience to retain control of the people. While the southern kingdom of Judah retained the core faith, it suffered severe entropy during the reigns of twelve apostate kings influenced by surrounding nations. Of all twenty kings of Judah, eight are remembered for their obedience to God, and of these only four enacted reforms.
Through the four reigns of kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, we can learn what influenced their actions, how they initiated reforms, and what foolish errors they made to interpret the effectiveness of their efforts. By studying their lives we can avoid repeating their mistakes in the cyclical battle against entropy while we fulfill the great commission today.
God's ministry may not be “successful.” Jeremiah was from a priestly family, but God called him to prophecy against his own people (Jeremiah 1:1). He denounced the “Big Lie” of Judah's popular ritualistic worship and their confidence in man-made temples and palaces instead of God (7-10:25). Jeremiah warns Judah that God will respond if they don't restore the covenant, but he was beaten, thrown in the stocks (20:1) and later jailed (37). Like Noah (Genesis 6), his preaching had no impact, even though he reached the people, the priests and rulers of Judah (26). God still calls some of his people to unpopular ministries. However, God's definition of success is rarely measured in numbers. The call may be to question the “Big Lies” of our day: is worship ritualistic instead of a heartfelt communion with God? Are we exempt from judgment because we're a “Christian Nation?” Jesus was clear that we are to preach the gospel (Matt 28:18), even the unpopular parts (25:32), to all nations, even those where it won't be popular. God expects simple obedience, so successful ministry in God's eyes may not make man's history books.
In Feudal Japan, samurai warriors committed a form of ritualistic suicide known as seppuku or harakiri for a long list of reasons. However, the original (overriding) purposes was to "to follow one's master in death" or "maintain full command over one's own destiny to the very last" (1).
For the Christian, the literal practice of seppuku is unthinkable, but the spiritual practice is paramount...(click "Read More" for entire article)
When they arrived, he [Paul] said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents." (Acts 20:18-19, emphasis added)
Leading from the Penthouse vs. Leading from the Outhouse
Lead with a towel
When he [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
During the Upper Room Discourse (the Last Supper), Jesus gave his disciples final teachings to to prepare them for leadership in his physical* absence. Here Jesus delivers one of the most memorable lessons on humility and leadership. God incarnate took the position of a servant/slave and washed the gritty sandaled feet of 12 sweaty men who'd been walking all day.
In Luke's account of the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38) he tells that once again the 12 disciples began to dispute who among them was to be considered the greatest (v24). Jesus then spells out the upside down kingdom again (just as in Matthew 18:1-9) by revealing that the one who rules is the one who serves, just as Christ served them.
Greek Matthew 6:9-13
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
Mindlessly reciting these words as a rote prayer or mantra is not what Jesus has in mind when he taught the disciples how to pray.