God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him….We have this hope in Christ as an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure….Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Acts 10:38; Hebrews 6:19, 13:8)
Note: This was originally written for prayer partners and supporters.
Many individuals in Greater Houston are unreached, untaught, and/or uncared for by churches. Sadly, many professing Christians are unconnected to Christ-following churches, claiming to love Jesus, but not His church. They trust and obey Jesus in some ways, but have lost faith in the church as an organization. That’s now a widespread problem in America. Sometimes churches neglect or abuse people, failing to care for Christ’s sheep.
We aim to assist, not compete with, Christ’s churches, serving and imitating Jesus the Chief, Good, and Great Shepherd. He calls each of His believers by name and knows all about us personally.1 Psalm 23 begins, “The Lord is my shepherd,” telling us that Christ provides personal care for each of His believers.2 Paul names thirty-three people in Romans chapter 16 because he has a personal bond with them and loves them deeply. Jesus willingly chases after individual believers who stray.3 Christ is the unique God-man, Lord, Savior, Mediator, and Paraclete and we need Him so much!
As your missionary here in Houston, I aim to follow Jesus’ model of ministry. I aim to bring Christ to people and them to Christ for an ongoing relationship of discipleship. Thank you for helping me reach out to unsaved, unchurched, uncommitted, untaught, unwanted, and unloved people who fall through the cracks and need Bible-based pastoral counseling.
I’m An Imperfect Counselor
God brought me to faith in Jesus in 1976 and to pastoral work while in seminary in 1980. After years of walking with Christ as His disciple and servant, I am still only a sinner saved by God’s grace, seeking to follow and serve Jesus my Master, stumbling along the way. I confess with the Apostle Paul, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”4 I still have far to go, but I am grateful that the Holy Spirit is still growing me in the Christ-like qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As I minister to and with others, I never pretend to have arrived, but say with C. S. Lewis, “Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted earlier, can give some advice.” By showing love, concern, openness, transparency, concrete acts of kindness, interest, and involvement, as well as being a “self-revealer” (sharing my own struggles and victories, joys and sorrows, fears and failures), I seek to understand each person and tailor ministry to their needs.
Despite the increasing number of therapists in Houston, many Christian and non-Christian people lack access to counseling. Many still turn to pastors for help with personal, marital, and family matters, as well as faith issues. Many need free counseling and I am happy to provide this.
What I call “Pastoral Counseling” is really shorthand for four overlapping areas of ministry:
- Pastoral Care
- Biblical Counseling
- Spiritual Formation
The best counseling depends on God the Holy Spirit and is based on His Scriptures. It involves leading people to the Lord for salvation and tending to their welfare by watching over, nurturing, and guiding them. The goal is to promote the spiritual growth and maturity of individuals and families. After assessing people’s condition, we do whatever is needful to help them to greater spritual health and Christ-likeness, one step at a time, one issue at a time. This ranges from home and hospital visitation to more formal counseling. Often I deal with individuals while teaching in churches, prisons, schools, and other places. Pastoral care includes: accepting and loving; acts and deeds of mercy; bearing burdens and befriending; evangelizing, comforting, and encouraging; listening, mentoring, and praying; serving, supporting and showing hospitality; and truth-telling.
Pastoral care looks after the whole personal and social well-being of people, teaching them to live by faith in Christ and helping them in this process.
Think about and put into practice whatever is true, noble, right, pure,
lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
The best counseling imitates Jesus the Chief Shepherd and is a loving way of caring for people, not controlling or intimidating them. This involves protecting, feeding with Bible-based spiritual nourishment, shielding, refreshing, restoring, guiding, and leading by example to help people pursue Christ-like holiness. Scripture says: “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.”5 This is how the Lord did and still does minister to people from His throne in heaven and by His Spirit here on earth.
The hymn by Frances J. “Fanny” Crosby (1820-1915) reminds us to:
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep over the erring ones, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, mighty to save.
Christ is the Wonderful Counselor
No human counselor can fix people’s problems, only the Lord can. And with Him all things are possible. We can help people to know and follow God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) so that they don’t have to face their problems alone and can receive His salvation and help. We are here to help people see that they are loved by God and important to Him. Whatever they have or lack, wherever they are, they can make it through anything through Christ who strengthens us. Jesus gives us Himself to trust and follow. He our only hope!
To be continued
Notes (various Bible translations): 1 1 Peter 5:4; John 10:14; Heb 13:20; John 10:3,27. 2 See also Acts 20:28. 3 Luke 15:4. 4 1 Tim 1:15. 5 1 Thes 5:14.