The field of counselling suffers from an acute lack of locally-written material, so when asked to review Kirby Chua’s book The Bible’s Secrets to Counselling, I jumped at the chance.
Kirby’s book makes an interesting read. Well-informed in various counselling models and theories, he discusses the practice of counselling not only as a clinician and teacher, but also brings a biblical perspective to it. He also provides comments on how clients’ problems play out in an Asian setting.
In very readable fashion, Kirby presents the five major challenges confronting his clients – dealing with Anger, Insecurities, Fear, Vanity and Negativity. At the risk of oversimplifying his ideas, he also presents a biblical response (or as he puts it, a “Bible secret”) for addressing each problem. In an effort to combine both a biblical and a psychological response, he adds further depth to his ideas by presenting five different counselling models to address each counselling challenge.
It would appear that the Bible’s secrets to a life free of these five challenges are not so far from our awareness. Some of them may even be said to be self-evident. Why then, one might wonder, do people grapple with some very crippling insecurities and destructive behaviours for so long? Is it simply that these “Bible secrets” are unknown or hidden from them? If so, why does God keep sufferers in the dark?
Kirby’s final gem for his readers is the idea that the real barrier to a balanced and happy life is not ignorance but arrogance. Arrogance is when we limit the full measure of God’s mercy and compassion, using ourselves as the plumb line. In our rebellious human nature, we want to have things our own way and on our own terms.
When people treat us poorly, we wonder: Why does God not deal with them in the manner we think they deserve? It is as if we want to sit in the seat of judgment over those who hurt us when God chooses to extend His mercy to them. If this is so, are we ourselves ready to face God’s full judgment and wrath, or do we think we are righteous enough?
If we have sinned or done wrong and have to face the consequences, we ask: Why does God not rescue us? And when some of us are crushed by the weight of guilt, instead of asking God to forgive us and thus be freed, we continue to punish ourselves by not laying this burden down at His feet.
In Georgia Harkness’ classic The Dark Night of the Soul, the first important step to set oneself free from spiritual depression is being willing to receive help – and may I add, to receive the appropriate help. If the form that such help takes is that we must humble ourselves and receive counsel from others, so be it. If it means making amends with others, then attend to it. If it is to be more disciplined about our desires and behaviour, this needs doing.
The unstated but underlying message in The Bible’s Secrets to Counselling is that God’s wish is for us to enjoy fulfilled and abundant lives. Not lives full of woe but lives filled with peace and joy.
Benny Bong –
has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award in 2011 and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
Find out more about topics from this book at www.facebook.com/BibleSecretstoCounselling
The Bible’s Secrets to Counselling
by Kirby Chua
Published by Genesis Books, an imprint of Armour Publishing, 248 pages
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Book cover graphic courtesy of Armour Publishing