Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

August 15, 2018
by Paul Tautges

MMR School of Discipleship

Last week, my family was blessed to attend family camp at Miracle Mountain Ranch in Spring Creek, Pennsylvania. While there, we learned of another of their ministries called the School of Discipleship. This one-year program is a biblically-based Christian discipleship and leadership program designed for high-school graduates who are committed to developing Christ-like character and spiritual maturity. They aim to accomplish this through mentoring relationships and growth in godly disciplines toward the goal of becoming a person of influence for Jesus Christ. The School of Discipleship offers the opportunity for believers to focus on strengthening the biblical foundation of their faith through the four components of the program. They begin by establishing a deeper relationship with God, recognizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. They continue by equipping themselves through unique hands-on experiences and structured classes. Then they are involved in extending their field of influence through Christian leadership in the ministry and outreach of Miracle Mountain Ranch. As their skills in establishing, equipping, and extending increase, the discipleship students then have the responsibility for evangelizing, responding in obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples. Opportunities for effective Christian leadership results from the integrity and maturity they build throughout the year in the School of Discipleship.

If you know someone who may benefit from this one-year program (especially if they love horses and the outdoors) encourage them to check out the School of Discipleship.

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August 14, 2018
by Paul Tautges

An Interview About My Book “Discipling the Flock”

Today, Books At a Glance published a recent interview that I did with Fred Zaspel. In the interview, Fred asked about the goal and purpose of my book, Discipling the Flock, focusing most of his attention on the second chapter. He then wrapped up the interview by asking what I believe authentic church growth looks like.

Zaspel: Tell us first what your book is all about. What is the contribution you are hoping to make?

Tautges: The book is about the need to balance the public ministry of the Word to the gathered church, with the personal ministry of the word to individual sheep.

My hope is that God will use this little book to nudge pastors and elders back to the immeasurable privilege and indispensable task of shepherding the flock of God by means of teaching the Word of God and caring for the souls of men and women.

Zaspel: I’d like you to address the specifics of chapter 2 in a minute, but first, give us a broad overview of what “faithful shepherding” is. What is it you are after?

Tautges: According to 1 Peter 5:2, the main function of pastors and elders is to care for the flock of God: “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight.” Addressing the Ephesian elders, Paul says essentially the same thing when he exhorts them to be “on guard for yourselves and for all the flock.” Faithful shepherding consists of caring for the overall spiritual well-being of God’s sheep, which requires feeding them the Word of God, leading them by example, and protecting them from spiritual hazards.

A faithful shepherd is committed to leading God’s sheep toward maturity in Christ. This means we view our divine assignment under the umbrella of the Great Commission to make faithful disciples of Christ. This is a stewardship which requires intensive labor. This is modeled by the apostle in his words to the Colossians,

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me (Col. 1:28-29).

Read the whole interview here.

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August 9, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Redefining Addiction to Pornography

Christians are in a dangerous predicament today: we do not know where to look in God’s word for the solutions to our problems. So writes, Rachel Coyle in HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography. She continues, “this is often because we use non-biblical words to describe problems and struggles. It is not wrong or sinful to use words such as addiction, but it does pose some potential problems. When we do not use biblical terms to define our struggles, it is easy to think the Bible is not adequate to address all the problems of life. We find ourselves turning elsewhere for solutions to sin. Let’s get back to the Bible and develop the skill of biblically defining the problems with which we struggle. Identify the biblical terms that describe sexual addiction in the following passages:

For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness … (Romans 6:19b)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

… [B]y what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:19b)

God addresses sexual addiction in terms of slavery to sin and idolatry.

Addiction Redefined as Slavery to Sin

Every one of us is born as a slave to sin: “[W]hen you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Galatians 4:8). We are not inherently good. We are inherently sinful. We come into this world separated from god, being dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). Praise God that Jesus Christ can set us free from slavery to sin and make us servants of righteousness and children of God (Romans 6:16–18). But freedom from slavery to sin does not mean we will never sin again. Even believers in Christ continue to battle the flesh—indwelling sin. This is why the apostle Paul penned these words:

… [W]alk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16–17)

By nature, sin enslaves. Hebrews 12:1 says that it “easily entangles us.” By our choices and habits, we can even put ourselves in bondage to particular sins (“sins,” not “sin” in the general sense, as we are born in bondage to sin). Forming a habit of any sin—from complaining to lying or pornography—leads us into bondage to that sin. Remember 2 Peter 2:19b: “… by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” When you are overcome by a particular sin, you are enslaved to it. Pornography and masturbation both have the capacity to overcome your mind and body so that you find yourself thinking about it anytime, anywhere. You plan it, plot it, and pursue it. And this happens again … and again. You can almost feel the weight of steel chains around your mind and your body! This is slavery.

Addiction Redefined as Idolatry

What do you think of when you hear the word “idolatry”? Bowing before wooden objects or clay statues? Actually, idolatry is an issue for all of us. A key passage on this subject is Ezekiel 14:1–11. I encourage you to find a Bible and read through the whole passage. Notice from the following verses what God says about the residence, result, and his requirement concerning idolatry:

  • The residence of idolatry: the heart. “[T]hese men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity” (v. 3; see also v. 7).
  • The result of idolatry: separation from God. “[T]he hearts of the house of Israel … are estranged from Me through all their idols”; “… anyone … who separates himself from Me …”  (vv. 5, 7).
  • God’s requirement: repentance. “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (v. 6).

We all have the tendency to give other people or things God’s rightful place. We worship something other than God, thus committing idolatry that only he sees. Idols of the heart are formed when we do not heed the instruction in Hebrews 12:1 to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,” but put those stumbling blocks right in front of us instead. Addictions are good indicators that heart idolatry is going on. One definition of addicted is: “devoted or given up to a practice or habit …” (emphasis mine). That sounds like worship to me. Involvement with pornography is the fruit of an idolatrous heart. There is something you want more than pleasing the Lord Jesus and honoring Him, something you want more than being content with what God has (or has not) given to you.

[Today’s post, as well as yesterday’s, is excerpted from HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography.]

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August 8, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Pornography and Women

Too many pastors and counselors teach that lust is primarily a male problem. I hope they don’t really believe this, but sometimes it sure comes across that way. So where does that leave the women in our churches? How should they think about lust? And, for example, if lust has become a life-dominating sin struggle for a woman, and she is feeding and fulfilling her lust through pornography, is it safe for her to turn to a spiritually mature women in your church for help? Or has the way you teach left her feeling like she is alone in her struggle? If she does muster up the courage and humility to reach out for help, have you identified at least one wise, spiritual woman in the church who can counsel and disciple her?

Drawing from a mini-book written by biblical counselor, Rachel Coyle, let me get the conversation started with an excerpt from HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography.

Defining Pornography

“Most people assume that pornography consists of visual images—pictures or movies portraying some form of sensuality or sexual act. the truth is that it exists in many forms; we must not limit it to visual images. Consider Webster’s Dictionary definition of pornography: “obscene writings, drawings, photo- graphs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.” Merriam-Webster provides a more thorough definition: “1) the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writings) intended to cause sexual excitement … 3) the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.” These definitions force us out of the “box” we typically put pornography into. Pornography includes any representation of sensual or erotic behavior. This is how I define it: ‘Writings, literature, magazine articles, books, billboards, drawings, photographs, internet images, movies, television, and things like these that portray, describe, or visually show sensual material or sexual acts, often resulting in sexual arousal.’”

Pornography for Women

“As women, things that entertain our imaginations attract us. Soap operas, romance books, television, movies, and magazine articles appeal to women. They tantalize our minds, conjure up secret fantasies, and ultimately influence our emotions. Unlike men, a woman’s sexual arousal is primarily connected to our feelings and emotions rather than sight. To overcome bondage to pornography, a woman has to be wary of anything that influences her emotions in such a way that she becomes sexually aroused. (That influence is reserved for her husband alone.)”

According to TechAddiction, women are not far behind men in their addition to pornography. But what is addiction? Tomorrow, I will let Rachel define it for us.

Get HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography for $2.99 here.

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August 6, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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5 Tips for Parenting in a Screen-Saturated World

“Living in a screen-saturated world means our use of screens can either help us or hinder us in our call to love God and others.” So writes Eliza Huie in the Introduction to her latest book, Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World. She continues, “We must also consider how we use our freedoms with technology to serve one another. This book will assist you to walk better with your kids in this most crucial area of parenting. In writing these tips I don’t claim to have figured it all out. Far from that, I write as one who desires to maintain a balance in my own life and family. I write from my own experience in parenting and also from many conversations with wise parents trying to raise children in a world dominated by the magnetic pull of technology. With this in mind let’s begin to explore what it looks like to raise kids in a screen-saturated world.”

In five chapters, she gives five tips to help us parent in this screen-saturated world. Her advice is biblical, practical, and non-judgmental as she explores how we can use our access to technology to help ourselves and our kids grow in love for God and service to one another.

  • Tip 1   Model digital discipline and courtesy – In this chapter, parents are challenged about phubbing. Research reports that 89% of cellphone users used their phone during the most recent social gathering they attended and observed others doing the same.
  • Tip 2   When to give a device to your child – “Giving a young child a smartphone is not seen as a good idea for many reasons.”
  • Tip 3   Remember you are the parent – “Talk to your children early about the reality of just how public they are when they communicate online. Open their understanding to the false sense of privacy that the internet can create.”
  • Tip 4   Know your enemy – “Raising digital natives is even greater uncharted territory for parents who grew up before the world became so screen dominated. It is important how you handle mistakes, both yours and your children’s.”
  • Tip 5   Enjoying and engaging with screens – “After reading this far, you may be tempted to think that screens are something you need to cut out or eliminate significantly. While limits are important and helpful, life today is filled with screens.”

This is a quick, easy read for every parent. If screens have taken over your life, and the lives of your children, read and apply the counsel in this little book.

Here’s my endorsement: “Timely, discerning, and balanced. Eliza Huie provides parents with a reliable compass for navigating wisely in this digital age.”

**If your church has a bookstore, be sure to check out the ridiculously good bundle prices at the 10 of Those website.

My contribution to this parenting series is called Raising Kids in a ‘You Can Do It! World” and will be released in November.

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August 4, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World

Our lives are influenced by technology like never before. Screens and devices have become a part of our daily lives bringing many benefits, as well as challenges – not least to the area of parenting. Our kids are digital natives, never having known a world that wasn’t saturated with screens, their knowledge and experience rapidly outstrip that of even the most technologically literate parents. Raising them to make safe and godly choices in this area is difficult as many of us are still working out how to use technology wisely ourselves.

In her latest book, Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World, Eliza Huie gives 5 tips to help us parent in this screen-saturated world. Her advice is biblical, practical, and non-judgmental as she explores how we can use our access to technology to help ourselves and our kids grow in love for God and service to one another.

Here’s my endorsement: “Timely, discerning, and balanced. Eliza Huie provides parents with a reliable compass for navigating wisely in this digital age.”

**If your church has a bookstore, be sure to check out the ridiculously good bundle prices at the 10 of Those website.

My forthcoming book in this parenting series is called Raising Kids in a ‘You Can Do It! World” and will be released in November.

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August 1, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Basic Guidance for the First Counseling Session

Moving the eyes of your counselee’s heart away from you, as their helper, to God, the everlasting Helper, should be the primary goal of your first counseling session. How can you do this, practically speaking? Here’s some basic guidance.

Direct Them to the Ever-present Helper and God’s Throne of Grace

Begin by thanking the person for showing a desire to seek God’s help for their particular life struggle. Assure them you are not the fixer-upper man or woman, but that God is our Helper and He has given His infallible Word and Spirit to be our counselors (Ps. 119:105; John 14:26). Remind them that Jesus is the merciful and empathetic High Priest who has experienced every form of suffering we can imagine and more (Heb. 4:15). Read Psalm 46 together.  Continue reading my post here.

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July 31, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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To Keep Us from Seeking Complete Happiness on Earth

In the quietness of the morning, the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly reading A Little Book on the Christian Life. This particular passage ministered to me. It’s from the fourth chapter, Meditations on our Future Life.

“In order to resist this wickedness [our soul’s entanglement in the enticements of the flesh by seeking happiness on earth], the Lord teaches His people about the emptiness of this present life through constant lessons in suffering. Thus, so that His people don’t promise themselves lofty and untroubled peace in this life, He often permits them to be troubled and harassed by wars, uprisings, robberies, and other injuries. So that they don’t gawk with too much greediness at frail and tottering riches, or rest on those they already possess, He reduces them to poverty—or at least restricts them to very little wealth—through exile, barrenness of land, fire, or other means. So that they aren’t enticed too much by the advantages of married life, He lets them be frustrated by the offenses of their spouse, humbles them by the wickedness of their children, or afflicts them with the loss of a child. However, there are times when God deals more gently with His people. Yet even when He does, so that they don’t become puffed up with pride or inflated with self-confidence, He sets before their eyes disease and danger to teach them how unstable and fleeting are those good things that come to men, who are subject to death.

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Ps. 119:71

In the end, we rightly profit from the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, considered in itself, is troubled, turbulent, attended by many miseries, and never entirely happy, and that whatever things we consider good in this life are uncertain, passing, vain, and spoiled because they’re mixed with many evils.”

Let us ask the Lord to keep our eyes on eternal things, and the Spirit to enliven our hope in eternal reward instead of the temporal comforts of this life!

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July 30, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Biblical Counseling Training in Cleveland, Ohio

People are looking for hope that there are answers for their hurts, their difficulties, and the challenges they face. The Bible is inspired by God and is sufficient to instruct us in living a life that is pleasing to Him. It has God’s answers for our personal and relational problems.

Fundamentals of Biblical Counseling is a training course that will challenge you personally to grow in your spiritual walk, and it will equip you to minister God’s life-changing Word more effectively to those who are looking for answers. It will help any Christian to be more effective in discipling others in overcoming life’s problems. And, for those who are interested in pursuing certification in biblical counseling, it will also meet the Basic Training Course Requirement for Phase One in the certification process through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. It will lay the foundation of biblical counseling principles and practices, of marriage and family relationships, and problems frequently encountered in counseling cases.

Our church, Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, is again offering biblical counseling to anyone interested in growing in the personal ministry of the Word to others.

If you, or others you know, are interested, REGISTER HERE. I encourage you to pass this on to your church leaders too.

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July 28, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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9 Ways to Optimize Your Time Away – “If you are going to vacation, you might as well get the most out of it. Perhaps these nine ways will serve you as well as they have served me.”

How to Distinguish a True Christian from a Hypocrite – Wisdom from the Founder’s blog.

The Good Gift of Relational Conflict – “Relational conflict produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character. Not just any character, but the character and image of Christ.”

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