The Love of God in Biblical Counseling
By Fred Comella
Much of what I’ve struggled with since accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior has to do with understanding my own motives and Biblical questions as well as those of other Christians. In essence, where does this love, understanding, and embracing of the one true and forgiving God come from? I mean, I know that ultimately it comes from Him directly as He made us in His image and of free will. But the how and why, and the where do we find the answers to our Christian queries are the questions for me right now. Frankly, they’re questions with answers that, when we really think about them, are truly mind-boggling. This type of soul searching is what squashes any lingering human inhibitions I may have on any given day regarding my faith. The very notion of divine love, and the power contained within it, is awesome beyond measure. I know, I’ve felt it. Contemplating and trying to decipher it however, and the way it plays into how we all navigate this first life as Christ followers, can sometimes leave one more confused (but still in awe) than when one started out. “Our God is an awesome God” to be sure, and He reminds us of that every day.
So as we set about our daily tasks, complete with all of the struggles and trials of home, family, friends, work, etc.etc., and overwhelmed with the backdrop of a world and nation foundering in moral and societal crisis like at no time we can remember, wouldn’t it serve us well to embrace His divine love as it’s represented and nurtured inside the beating heart He placed deep in our chests? Doesn’t it then make sense that by what the body and blood of Jesus Christ means to us, we might recognize and seek to use the uniquely powerful faith tools provided us by a loving God genuinely concerned for our spiritual well-being? Shouldn’t we as Christians seek the very counsel he intended through Scripture and deed for us to utilize in times when our compasses may need a bit of calibrating? And if all this is true, shouldn’t that counsel be rooted in the love of God first, and have at its foundation be a Biblical viewpoint presented to us in such a way as to promote the spiritual healing we seek?
For my part, I’ve asked a lot of these questions of my own pastor and I’m now receiving the Biblical direction/answers I seek. A sort of counsel if you will, so that when I’m stopped in my tracks by the secularisms of this life, I can find His way through them. So when my editor pointed me toward Pastor (Dr.) Luciano Cozzi, author of the new book, The Love of God in Biblical Counseling, I thought to myself, this should be very interesting. As I mentioned at the top of this article, I’m not sure the need for the type of Biblical Counseling Dr. Cozzi espouses in his book will ever be truly filled. But so long as Christians and those who wish to minister to them seek to broaden their understanding of the most powerful and loving connection in the known universe, this very necessary conversation will continue.
Pastor Cozzi, married father of two grown children, and a proud grandfather, is the senior pastor of Grace Family Church of Rhode Island, located in the Artic section of West Warwick. As a gifted speaker, lecturer and counselor, Dr. Cozzi has dedicated his ministry to helping Christians resolve their life problems and come to a deeper and more personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
A native of Italy, since his youth he has nurtured a profound interest in biblical and counseling issues, as well as a heartfelt desire to help others. After earning a degree in theology in the US in the early 1980s, he was assigned to return to Italy to serve in the pastoral ministry there. While in Italy, he served as Bible lecturer and main speaker in evangelistic campaigns in all major cities of Italy and Malta. He also served as a church planter, pastor and counselor. After a decade of service in Europe, together with his wife Suzanne and children Daniel and Elisabeth, he returned to the US, where for several years he dedicated himself to biblical counseling, preaching and lecturing in various churches throughout Western New York.
Dr. Cozzi holds a B.A. in theology (with distinction), a M.A. in biblical counseling (with high distinction), and a Ph.D. in biblical counseling (with high distinction). He has received extensive training in Christian, family, transformative and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mediation has been awarded a golden membership in the National Omicron-Psi Honor Society as well as an honorary Doctor of Divinity. He is also a mentor and a training center director for the International Association of Biblical Counselors, a certified credit counselor, and as I was delighted to learn as it relates to my field of work, a certified counselor in Critical Incident Stress Management, and has field experience in disaster response.
I caught up with this very busy Pastor at his counseling center this past week, and stole a few moments of his time by phone while he was planning several large events for his church. He was kind enough to elaborate about his book and what he feels it means to the Christian (and minister) seeking a higher understanding of the Lord’s love and how it can effect change in the lives of believers.
As many of you know, my journey is on-going and I take a piece of learning from every Christian doer I speak with or interview. Dr. Cozzi was no exception and then some. I wanted to know the pastor’s thoughts on some of the aforementioned questions, and from the beginning of our conversation, I was intrigued by this learned man’s outlook and philosophy regarding the answers. He spoke immediately of how we must stop asking ourselves what “we” should be doing as Christians, but rather ask, what is God already doing in our lives? By doing this he explained, we learn to put aside the self-centered aspects of our prayer as we become more aware of how God is constantly working in our lives every minute of every day. Praying to be part of that process is the objective, as “God pours out His love to us, we may then pour His love out to others”.
Pastor Cozzi also spoke of understanding the immensity of God’s love for us and how we as Christians often gloss over this in our daily lives because it seems such an awesome proposition. I could already feel his words transcending into my own life, and could envision how God was and is constantly working on me. However, I wanted to back up just a bit to understand how a man of Cozzi’s substantial education and ministry came to formulate his thoughts on Biblical counseling for both the believer and the teacher.
We talked about Jay Adams and the many other books on Biblical Counseling, and how Pastor Cozzi felt that while men like Adams certainly started the conversation, his methodology was just that, a start. And that any substantive discussion on the topic, needed to include much more in terms of the specifics necessary to be both aware of God’s love and able to ask ourselves the appropriate questions, thus allowing for accurate and spiritually beneficial answers.
We talked of starting with the most basic of questions, like who is God, and even, what is a human being? Surprisingly, as Pastor Cozzi tells me, many folks make only assumptions about the Biblical answers to those questions, and frankly revert almost instantly to a secular answer they learned along the way. He expanded to explain that, “Biblical Counseling” dates back thousands of years in the human context, where the more “academic” counseling philosophy if you will, is likely only 100 or a few more years old. Sounds like I’d like to go with the more experienced company, if you know what I mean, especially when it comes to questions concerning my Savior. To be clear, how can one expect a Biblical perspective from researchers and so-called scholars who don’t even believe in God? Doesn’t make a lot of sense, now does it.
Throughout our conversation, I kept coming up with questions and Pastor Cozzi kept coming up with answers, answers you simply could never find in a secular query on faith and the Christian God. The interview made me think even more about how I pray, and worship. Pastor Cozzi explained, “There is no magic pill that makes you the person God intended you to be”. It is His work and for you to only embrace. 1 Corinthians 8:6 – yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we exist.
As we talked more about his philosophy of knowing God’s love for us, and what that means to us in our daily lives, Pastor Cozzi equated his thoughts to, “It’s like, I’ll pedal my bicycle with all of my might and strength, but I willingly leave the steering to God”. Wow! So faith and trust in His immense love for us is central to our understanding of what God intends for us in our lives. And asking the right questions at the outset is the way to open the door to those answers we seek.
Well, I actually tried it when I hung up after speaking with the good pastor, and it worked. (It’s not what (am or must) I do, but what is He already doing that I’m missing?) At that point I became instantly aware of things that were happening in my own life which reconciled how God was clearly at the wheel. I thought to myself, what if we could only stop for one minute and let Him drive… How much better off would this world be??? To the issue of expressing that profound love our Maker has for us, Pastor Cozzi said only that we may all express His love when we come to know it.
As we closed, Dr. Cozzi told me that his hope and dream for his book, was that it promotes an awareness of God’s love for all of us, and an understanding that His love is paramount to receiving Biblical answers to our questions. And that Biblical “counseling” is only instrumental when we have acknowledged He is alive in us and working in us every second. Know this and you will find the answers you seek. From my perspective, the secular world today has no answers for me. So a more foundational and spiritual understanding of what Jesus Christ desires for my life, as well as the confidence of knowing that He seeks my spiritual success and not failure, is the only way forward. Thank you Pastor Cozzi. I get it…
You may here the Pastor at Grace Family Church in West Warwick Rhode Island, or call the Counseling Center at 401-479-1324. Oh, and I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Cozzi’s book. I know I’m going to…
The Love of God in Biblical Counseling is available through Amazon, Barns & Noble and on-line book stores today.