I seem to have this handle on being a psychologist, although the only tool that I really use in my own practice with people is the Bible. I don’t have any other goal; I don’t have any other need really to turn to for help. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve found that the scriptures have been quite adequate for me in helping other people. I hope I can find some time to give you a chance to interact with me on this subject, but let me read to you a few scripture verses very familiar to you, but it may be necessary to remind us that these verses are there.
The first one is in Hebrews 4:12. “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword.” And this has been my experience. You use this Word, you use it as a mirror, you use it to mirror what other people are saying to you, and things happen fast.
Now, some of you have had, as I look around I can see lots of folks here that I’ve talked to, and I find that if someone is really interested in some help, and really interested in seeing themselves as they are, that it can happen quick, it can happen fast, and the older I get and the longer that I work with people, the more I realize that I’m spinning my wheels in dealing with people who only want to talk about their problems, but don’t really want a solution. I have been able to cut through very quickly, in a matter of a few hours, through the deepest, most confusing problems that people have come to me.
I’ve had folks come from Europe to see me, and in a matter of a few hours, we have put our finger on their problem. “The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharp; sharper than any two-edged sword.” Now that’s sharp.
Now, when you stop to ask yourself, “How can I make an encounter, a counseling encounter with an individual, pleasant?” My answer is, “I have no idea.” I believe that you make a great mistake by aspiring to make a counseling interview pleasant. You want to make it to the point; you want to get to the bottom of the problem. This is a great big world with many needs, and we can’t be going around and around and around this same question over and over and over again. This is a very deep, fervent, workable conviction of mine, and workable plan, that if you will sincerely put your faith in this word of God, and really honestly seek to listen to this individual who is talking to you, with the backdrop of your knowledge of the scripture behind you, then you can move pretty fast in helping people. I guess that’s my reputation, and it’s just amazing.
I mentioned in my morning talk that I was at a conference a couple months ago and two couples separately came to see me. Very troubled people, barely holding together. And in a matter of a few hours I was able to make this lady realize what an angry, hostile woman she was. If anybody was any madder than her, it was probably her husband. Two angry, viciously angry, people.
Now the question is: Will you repent, or do you want to keep on being mad?
Now, if you’re going to keep on being mad, then there’s nothing I can do so we might as well terminate the interview right now. That’s your privilege; I wouldn’t want to talk you out of your hostility, that’s your privilege.
Now the other question is: Do you want to get rid of it? Do you or not? If so, let’s talk about how you get rid of it. Now, how do you get rid of it? First of all, you quit blaming your husband. Well, first of all you quit blaming your wife. Your hostility is your own carnality, and that’s a matter between you and the Lord. And the question is: Are you going to use your partner as an excuse for your own miserable, sour self, or are going to find the source of the problem? Now I’m saying you can move pretty fast. You can move fast if you’ve got somebody who is looking for an answer.
Now if you’ve got someone who’s not really looking for an answer to their problem, then I would much prefer that they talk to you rather than me, when you're willing to listen for hours and hours and hours and hours while people just talk on and on and on about their problems.
Now, if you really want to help people, then you realize that you have an instrument here, the Word of God which is quick, and I think that means it works quick and powerfully, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and it is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
You can very quickly help an individual discern where his thoughts and intents are, what they ought to be, or if they are what they ought not to be. Very quickly you can do this.
Now people may go away shocked, but it’s like when I go to a dentist. He gets to the bottom of my problem very quickly. He burrows right to the bottom of it, and Ill leave with a big jaw. You know a frozen jaw; my lip hanging down maybe. but he doesn’t monkey around, he finds out what’s wrong. He tells me, “Open your mouth.” And he shoves some x-rays in my jaw and develops them and says, “You’ve got three cavities,” and starts drilling. That's how he does it.
Well, that’s how I do it in counseling. Now mind you, I’m suggesting this, I’m fervently suggesting this to you that you become known as an individual who helps people, and helps people fast. If you don’t want any help, don’t go to him. I mean, you don’t just go to a dentist and say, “Doc, I just thought I would drop in and see how you’re doing this afternoon. I have an odd half hour.” I mean you just don’t do that.
Now here’s another scripture verse, 2 Timothy 3:16. I believe it is important for you to realize what this tool is like that you’re using. All scripture. You heard Dr. Smith bring up this verse, and let me bring it up from my angle. “All scripture is given my inspiration of God.” I believe that with all my heart. And this is a profitable book to use for what? For doctrine, for teaching people. These are the truths we believe in. These are our doctrines. This here we stand on, this is what we believe. If you violate a commandment of God, you’ll reap the results. Here’s a commandment of God, you’re not living by it. You know that doesn’t take long to figure out. This book is profitable for orienting an individual as to where they are in relation to the commandments of God.
Now implied here is that you know enough about the scriptures so that you know what some of these commandments of God are. You see, you can’t have a blank mind. Here it isn’t enough when you’re counseling using the Word of God for you to have a bunch of scripture verses in your notebook because they don’t come to your mind. This is why it’s so crucial when the Psalmist says, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” “Your word is a lamp unto my feet.” You see you have to master this Word; it has to be in your head.
It’s like the basketball player. He’s running as hard as he can go down that floor, and in an instant, he has to do the legal thing, the right thing. He can’t just skip to a halt as the ball is coming and dig out his rulebook and say, “What do I do now?” Can he? He has to master that rulebook; it has to be in his head.
Now if you're going to be really effective in talking to people, you have to have enough of the scriptures in your head so that as you listen to the man’s story, you can start sorting out what he’s telling you according to your knowledge of the scriptures. Not according to your knowledge of what that psychologist said, or that sociologist said, or what the anthropologist said, but what does the Word say? Now can you do that? In other words, I’m saying if you're going be an effective counselor using the Bible, it’s not just owning a Bible, but using it, and becoming familiar enough with it so that you have it in your head.
Did you ever look at the booklet that the state gives you that tells you about the rules for driving? There’s a lot of them. Now it isn’t going to do you much good when you're driving seventy miles an hour down the street to be pulling out your rulebook and finding out what’s legal. You see, you need to instantly have that, and a lot of us, we’re familiar enough with the laws of the state of California, so that we can do seventy miles an hour without interrupting our conversation. Do the proper thing, or know when we weren’t doing it.
Now you need to know that much about the scriptures. What I’m pleading for here is that you’ll not really be an effective person, and be a shallow Bible student. Not when it comes to really getting to the bottom of people’s problems. You need to be saturated in the scriptures. The scriptures are profitable for doctrine.
Now some of us say, and I’ve heard this in many seminars, that the thing that bores me about going to church is they’re always preaching doctrine. And I’m saying that shouldn’t bore you, you need it.
I didn’t get excited about memorizing the basketball rulebook either. I don’t get very excited about memorizing the rules for driving a car, but I had better know them. So there are a lot of things that we need to do that are not necessarily exciting around here. You know, we like to talk about getting excited. Well I don’t get very excited about a doctrinal sermon, but I need it, and you need it. That is you’ve got to burrow into the depths of things if you really want to be effective in helping people. So we can kind of glibly write off the preacher who preaches these dry sermons on Sunday morning, but if I were you, I would take a second look at those sermons, and they aren’t necessarily geared to the baby who hasn’t gone beyond the four spiritual laws.
That’s not the purpose of a church. And I think we need to be careful about the kind of attitude that we communicate to these people that we contact on the campuses who don’t know anything about a church. And I think it’s important what kind of an attitude you communicate to these people about what you think of church.
So, you want to be careful about mumbling over a pastor who is teaching some stuff that might not be that thrilling and that exciting, but it’s necessary in order to build a foundation under you, and then you’ll be able to function, enabling you to help this fellow who lost the way. You know, every once in a while I’m walking along and somebody pulls up and says, “Where is 8th Avenue,” and I feel useless and helpless because I don’t know where 8th Avenue is. You know you have to be a native of this place, and you have to be around a while and take the trouble to know how this city is laid out, and I often just feel kind of disappointed that I have to say to this individual, “I’m sorry, I don’t know, I can’t help you.”
Now why? For a lack of knowledge, I can’t help him. That’s true with you many times when you might have drawn somebody to Christ, and you can’t help him any further because you haven’t taken the trouble to be prepared. Now the Word of God is profitable for doctrine, and I think some of us need to be willing to subject ourselves to some pretty dry stuff, but it’s never the less important. This book is profitable for reproof, and I find that this is very basic and important many times in dealing with people. They are wrong and somebody needs to tell them so. They need to be reproved.
Now on what basis do you reprove a man? On the basis of your knowledge of the scripture. After all, my opinion verses your opinion doesn’t mean anything. People don’t come to me for help in order to know my opinion. They want to know, ”What does the Word of God have to say about me?” And obviously an individual who needs help and he’s lost the way, somewhere he’s made a wrong turn. You can assume that someone that comes to you for counseling is wrong and the basic question that you need to find out is, ”What is wrong?”
A lot of us, we’ve spent so much time telling people what is commendable, which they already know. That’s not what they need to know. They need to know what’s wrong. Now how are you going to determine what’s wrong? It’s another way of saying these people need to be reproved. On what basis are you going to reprove them? According to your knowledge of the scripture, as you compare what you're hearing with what the Bible says. This book is profitable for correction. Not only reproof, “You’re wrong,” but this is the right way to go.
Now you are in an atmosphere in your colleges where right and wrong is not how you go about it. Here's a cafeteria counter of options. You can do this, this, this, this and this, and I’m such an objective person that I wouldn’t suggest to you which one of those to take. I mean that’s the atmosphere you live in isn’t it? Right and wrong is a relative kind of a thing. “It depends … “. I talked to a fellow yesterday, he was talking about the authoritarian approach we take around here and he said, “After all, you can’t approach people like they suggest around here. It depends on his maturity, it depends on his education, it depends on his background, it depends on the circumstances that he has, and you need to tailor make a plan of this fellow.” You see, that’s a page right out of the classroom, isn’t it?
That ain’t the way we do it around here. There are some universals. What are they? You think if you went at it this way that I’d never have anything to do, wouldn’t you? I want to reassure you that that’s not my problem. There are more of you that want to see me than I can get to. Now what is there about me that would cause you to come to me? You know what it is? You think that I believe something. You think that I will tell you the truth on the basis of the Word. Not that’s the reputation I want anyway, and lest you misunderstand, that’s all I’m interested in is listening to your story using the Word of God as a mirror. The Word of God that I’ve got hidden in my heart. The Word of God that I’ve got in my mind and you’ve got to have it there.
Like you master the basketball rulebook, and then you can do the right thing at the right time. I often marvel as I watch ice hockey. I just love ice hockey. I like speed, and I just marvel at how lighting speed that these fellows can skate down the ice and do the legal thing while they’re doing it. That’s because they’ve got the rules mastered.
Now every once in a while, they do an illegal thing. It’s no secret, everybody knows it. Now what makes it right or wrong? It’s the rule that makes it right or wrong.
Now our job then is to reprove people and to correct them. This is where you’re wrong and this is what you do to correct it. Try it, and I give you this plan out of the Word. Now this Word is also profitable for instruction in righteousness. You see, this is a little different than everybody doing his own thing, and everybody studying his own thing, and everybody making his own plan. This is the way I use the Word of God. It’s sharp and quick and powerful. It is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. It is profitable for doctrine and for reproof and for correction and instruction.
Now you can answer this for me: How serious are you in mastering the commandments? You know one of the favorite verses we have around here is that, “He that hath my commandments, he knows what they are.” One of the marks of whether you love Jesus is that you hunger and thirst after those commandments. Studying commandments is one of the dullest activities I can think of. And some of us in our atmosphere, one of the things that we say about ourselves is that the absence of commandments is what we’re after, the absence of commandments. We are so broad-minded we embrace everybody. Yes, I can like you, I can embrace you, but I also need to know where you are wrong, and where you are right, and those words shouldn’t scare you. That’s the criteria for being useful and helpful to people.
I want to run through a bunch of scripture verses. You can write these references down. I’m just going to throw them at you. I believe that one of the most important things that you need to know if you’re going to be effective as a Biblical counselor ... I keep trying to say I’m a Biblical counselor and people want to always make something else out of me. Well I keep saying it anyway. So you call me what you want, I call me a Biblical counselor.
Now one of the important things that you need to know, and one of the things I just love to do is to diagnose sin. Now you say, “Well isn’t that sadistic?” You need to get comfortable with this word sin.
Why do I say that? Because the simplest thing in the world to deal with is sin. Now to say that’s the last thing I won’t get involved in? No, no, no, I’m saying that’s the first thing you want to get involved in. If you can diagnose sin, then you’ve got the best message anybody ever heard, because Jesus Christ died for your sins and He died to wash them away. That’s the simplest thing I know of to deal with is sin, and so I want to eliminate the possibility of any sin.
Now don’t take the notion, “Look, I realize you’re a Christian, obviously you haven’t sinned. Let me reassure you that I don’t think you are sinful.”
I take the other tact, let’s try and find out if you're sinful. Why? ‘Cause that’s the quickest thing to deal with. That anybody can deal with. That’s our message, that’s why Jesus came. He came to die for our sins, didn’t He? You need to know what that word means. Now I’m not going to let some psychologist define that word for me, I’m going to define that word for him.
Now this morning I want that word to mean what I want it to mean, and let me give you some scripture verses to spell out what I’m talking about. I John 3:4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresses the law for sin is transgression of the law.” You say, “I didn’t mean to.” Granted, that may be. You say, “I didn’t know the law.” Granted that may be, but sin is still transgression of it.
I remember an officer stopping me one time. He indicated that I was going too fast and I said, “Oh golly, I’m just a tourist. I didn’t even notice the speed limit.”
“You didn’t notice the speed limit? You mean you don’t watch the signs?”
“Honest officer, I’m innocent, I didn’t do it on purpose.”
And he granted me all of that. And he said, “What’s your name, what’s your address.”
He was perfectly willing to grant me that I was innocent and I didn’t know that I was breaking the law, but he said I had, and he had the evidence to prove it. Now that’s the way it is. You may not know the law, but you may be breaking it.
Sin is transgression of the law, so we really ought to get interested in that law, shouldn’t we? One John 5:17: “All unrighteousness is sin.”
Every once in a while somebody wants to debate with me. “Who are you to tell me what righteousness is?”
I say to them, “Look, why don’t you tell me what righteousness is and I’ll guarantee you won't live up to it.”
You set your own laws. There’s a built-in tendency in all of us that we’ll transgress even our own laws.
“You calling me a transgressor?”
No sir, I’m not calling you a transgressor. Pay attention and see whether you are one.
Who am I to tell you that you’re a transgressor? You determine whether you are. Let’s find out whether you are. You don’t want to do that? Fine with me. See you again. I wouldn’t want to drag anybody into a circumstance where we’re going to diagnose whether he is sinful or not. The only time I would consider that is if someone invited me into their life and that’s your move not mine.
When you come, I need to be ready; and when they come to you, you need to be ready.
James 2:9: “If you have respect of persons, you commit sin.” How about that? You like somebody better than somebody else.
James 4:17: “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Proverbs 24:9: “The thought of foolishness is sin.”
Proverbs 14:21: “He that despises his neighbor, sins.”
I Samuel 15:23: “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful, a desperately wicked, who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart and I try the reins.” You can know it, He’s given you a standard where by you can know you're own heart.
Isaiah 57:21: “The wicked are like a troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up dirt and mire. There is no peace, saith my Lord, to the wicked.”
So somebody comes to me and says, “I lost my peace.”
And I say, “What are you doing that’s wicked?” Isn’t that what it says?
There is no peace to whom? The wicked.
“Wicked? Me, wicked?”
Yes, you wicked.
“How can you say that?”
You said you lost your peace.
Now is that right or wrong? Now what is wickedness? Well I guess a kid that swipes a penny out of his mother’s purse is wicked isn’t he? Now obviously that isn’t as bad as the fellow that robs a bank, but they’re both wicked.
You take the kid that says, “Mom I’m going to the library,” and instead he sneaks off and goes off with his girlfriend. That’s not right, that’s wicked.
That isn’t as wicked as a man who says to his wife, “I’m going to the office,” and he sneaks off with another woman. But both are wicked. They’re both cut from the same cloth. Now I’d say one is very much worse than the other, but they’re both wicked. Now I don’t know if you're practicing a little bit of wickedness or a lot of wickedness, but I know if you're practicing some of it, you're going to lose your peace. How do I say that? The Bible said it.
So you lose your peace? Just look around for your wickedness. Doesn’t have to be drastic. All you need to suffer excruciating pain is to get a speck in your eye. Doesn’t take much. Isaiah 59:1-2.
You know, people come to me and say, “Doc I cry out to God. He doesn’t hear me. Evidently He isn’t out there. The heavens are brass.”
Okay, you said it, that’s your relationship; now let me tell you why. “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save and neither is His ear heavy that it cannot hear.” Then what’s the trouble? “Your iniquities …” not my iniquities, your iniquities … “have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you.” Now let’s find out what your iniquities are, and your sins, and then you’ll be able to hear God again. Isn’t that clear? Just as clear as it can be.
Now, how will you approach people this way? You will if you believe it.
I’ve said to many a man, look him right in the eye and said, “Listen, tell me what you know about yourself that’s wrong.”
He’ll say, “How do you know?”
Because you said you couldn't get through to God, that’s how I know. The Bible tells me so. Proverbs 28:13.
You have people come to you and say, “I felt like a flop this year.” You know why? I’ll tell you why. “He that covereth his sins will not prosper.” So when you feel like you aren’t successful then tell me what you know about yourself that’s wrong. Isn’t this a wonderful book?
Now listen, you need to know this book and hold it up as a mirror. Now if you don’t know these things, you see, and you listen to a man’s story, and it just passes you by. “He that covereth his sins will not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.”
Sometimes people come to me and say, “I just find myself popping off lately.”
I say, I can tell you why. Psalm 38:8: “I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.” Now what do you know about yourself that’s disturbing you? You would be amazed at how devastating these verses are after you listen to a man tell you how miserable he is , and then you just hold up this mirror.
Now let’s get talking about what you know about yourself. Why do you have a disturbed heart? Tell me. Well it’s got to be some unconscious, subconscious thing. Now let me see what was it my mother did to me? I don’t waste my time on that kind of stuff. All I want to know is what do you know, what are you aware of that you are doing wrong? That's all I want to know. I sometimes have people come to me and say, “You know I just feel like people are looking at me.” I says, I’ll tell you why. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold like a lion.” Isn’t that great?
Now let me ask you, do you believe this? If you do, then you’ll conduct your interaction with people accordingly. That’s Proverbs 28:1 and Psalm 55:21.
Sometimes I talk to some charmers; happy go lucky people, everybody thinks they're so victorious. And they look around and say, “Doc, I wonder if I can see you sometime. Promise you won’t tell anybody because I wouldn’t want them to see me with you because it might hurt my testimony.”
“The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but there was war in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” How about that? You see, the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
Proverbs 14:12-13: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man …”
And sometimes you see these miserable people. And they come, and their hearts are heavy, yet they’re dedicated, and they work so hard, and they sacrifice so much. And they come in and say, “Doc, I don’t understand what’s the matter with me, but I have a heavy heart.” These dedicated, hard working people.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. The backslider of heart is filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with himself. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”
Well, I’ve got about ten minutes left. Maybe I’ve stimulated some questions, but I sure trust I’ve whetted your appetite for you to become really hungry to be hiding the word of God in your heart. Anybody have a question?
Well, if you're asking me what I’m thinking, I obviously think that marijuana is wrong. But I’m sure though that somebody wants to debate that question with me. Nobody is going to get me off on a debate like that. And I would say to an individual, like if you even want to go into something like this, then tell me what problem are you trying to solve with marijuana.
Now if you want to talk about your reasons for going into it and what are you looking for, that I’ll talk to you about, but to debate whether or not you should use marijuana or whether you should smoke, or whether you should drink or dance, you're not going to get me off on those kind of subjects. I refuse to discuss them.
Now let’s get behind them. But you know as well as I know you can get as many answers to that question as you talk to people. Anybody that reads the newspaper even will tell you whether or not marijuana is wise to use. That’s a foolish question, right? Well then, don’t make a big intellectual one out of it.
Yes, sir? I’ll read you one; it’s in the third chapter of James starting with the fourteenth verse ending with the eighteenth. “If you have bitter envying and strife in your heart, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, it is earthly and sensual and devilish. Where envy and strife is there is confusion.” That’s James 3:14-16. “There is confusion and every evil work.”
Now when someone says to me, “Doc, I’m all confused as to what spot on the globe the Lord wants me at,” I say, “Buddy, you’ve got a lot of company, I have no idea either, but I know this, I can tell you what He expects of you once you choose that spot on the globe.” I’m not going to waste a whole lot of time with people who say, “Should I live in Michigan or Oregon?” I want to know why it is you can’t make up your mind. That's what I want to get at. Okay?
Yes sir? Well the question is, ”What do you do about people who will not accept a second law or who will not accept the authority of the scripture?” And I think it is important when someone tells me that they don’t accept the authority of the scripture that they hear Doc Brandt say that he has nothing else to offer. Then we just have no basis for discussion. You know, a lot of times you’ll leave people standing there with their mouths open. They’re all ready for an hour, get in there, and there’s nobody to argue with.
Madame, back there? How important is it to have knowledge of psychological principles? Well, I would say it’s relatively unimportant. It’s your knowledge of the scriptures that you need, and I can stand here and speak with a good deal of authority when I say that.
What would I do if I had it to do over again? Well, I’m a perpetual student. I’m interested in what my competition says, and so I subscribe to about three dozen journals, and I scan those journals, and most of them are only worth scanning, but I keep scanning them. And I’m interested in the business world, and I want to know what the business world is saying. I want to know what the anthropologist is saying. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m a very biased reader, and so I read what I read with the scriptures as my guide, and I’ll accept what fits the scriptures, and reject the rest. If you have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of ability, and a limited amount of absorption power, then I would say if you have to make a choice of a limited opportunity for acquiring knowledge, then by all means, acquire Biblical knowledge. This other stuff is strictly sideline. That’s my view.
Now I have a Ph.D., my son has a Ph.D., my son-in-law is within a semester of a Ph.D., and my daughter went to college. The smartest one in our family was my wife though, and she went through high school. So, I’m not against education, I say get all the education that you can get. But in the getting of it, remember what the Bible says, that the making of many books is wiliness of the flesh.
Yes? That’s a fifty-dollar question. When do you determine whether an individual needs professional help? Let me put it this way, if a man can reason, he can carry on a rational conversation with you, and if a man can absorb information, those are two prerequisites. I don’t care how disturbed he is or how upset he is, or how worn out he is, if he can reason and if he can absorb information, then I will talk to him and take it as far as I can take it. Now when I find that I’m puzzled, I can’t get through to this individual, then I’ll toss in the towel and try and refer them to somebody else.
I would say I would engage in an effort to help anybody because I have this tremendous, powerful tool called the Word of God that anybody that can reason, and anybody that can absorb information is an individual that I’m going to attempt to help as much as possible.