Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

August 22, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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20 Quotes from Ed Welch’s “A SMALL BOOK ABOUT A BIG PROBLEM” [Anger]

Last night, I was drawn back into Ed Welch’s excellent (and convicting) little book, which I had read when it first came out. Paging through A Small Book about a Big Problem, I reviewed all of the sentences that I had underlined. Doing so was like inviting a seasoned counselor into my living room for a chat. And retyping some of those sentences here served to be a good self-counseling exercise for my heart. I think these will help you, too:

  1. “Everyone has both been destroyed by someone’s anger and done some destroying. We are sitting on a bomb and, when it goes off, bad things happen.”
  2. “[A]nger specializes in indicting others but is unskilled at both self-indictment and love.”
  3. When we are angry, we “want something—peace, money, respect—and we aren’t getting it. The only difference is in our choice of weapons. Some use guns, others use words.”
  4. “Gossip is the judge who publicizes his or her verdict and tries to convince others to pronounce the same verdict.”
  5. “Anger looks down from the judge’s perch; wisdom comes down from those heights and looks up from below. Humility captures it.”
  6. “If we are servants of Jesus, we take less offense when people wrong us. We think instead, How can I represent my Master now?
  7. “Love is the opposite of anger. Anger is disdain, hatred, and contempt.”
  8. “Anger is not something that comes upon us when an offense is committed. Anger is already in us. In its embryonic form we call it desire.”
  9. “The path toward foolishness is easy. All you have to do is follow your desires. But anger is on that path. It has short-term perks—we feel as though we have power and control—but that is a mirage. In the end, you will be miserable, overpowered by your own anger, and your relationships will be in tatters.”
  10. “In our anger, we think we see clearly—much clearer than most people. We are certain that we are right and just. All we see is our righteousness and someone else’s injustices done against us.”
  11. “Anger is against God because he is the one who directs the details of our lives. In fact, in our anger and outrage, we have decided that we want to be God rather than submit to him.”
  12. “When rejection comes our way, and it will come, the humble are certainly hurt, but they stay the course.”
  13. “If you are casual about anger and unprepared, you will lose and so will those around you.”
  14. “Anger shows contempt. You are better than they. You are smarter, more righteous—you are above and they are below. Anger tears down. It kills relationships.”
  15. “Anger looks like Satan…and it summons him. So anger is not just about our desires that have gotten out of control. Anger is also a partnership with Satan, who is a murderer (John 8:44).”
  16. “Control and power are heady matters, and anger is the drug that seems to give access to them. Who would want to give it up?”
  17. “What makes us so important that life must go according to our plans? We cannot script the events in our lives. When life throws us unexpected trouble, an arrogant person gets angry because his or her ‘kingly rights’ have been violated. A servant who realizes his insignificance, however, responds ‘If the Lord wills.’”
  18. “Some families, and even some ethnic groups, boast about how they can be fighting fiercely one minute and hugging the next, as if that is a good thing. It is not.”
  19. “Anger takes everything personally, as if everything is an intentional act to make your life miserable.”
  20. “When you are fully confident that your Father is just, you know that injustice will not prosper. You will not become angry when offenses are committed against you because you will leave it in his hands.”

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:31-32)

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August 19, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Be Ready for the Lord’s Return

Since the time that Jesus ascended into heaven, there have been people who have predicted the month, year, or even the day that He will return. But no knows when Jesus will come again. Jesus himself said,

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:32-27)

Because of this, we use the word imminent to describe the return of Christ. Imminent means it is close at hand, near, it could happen at any moment. This immanency is taught using the imagery of a thief who breaks into a house at night. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thess. 5:2)

Though not one of us knows when the Lord will return, we do know that He will come again. This should produce within us a certain amount of anticipation, a longing for Jesus to come again. But it should also produce decisive actions that become part of our lifestyle. Take a moment to read Revelation chapter 22.

The promised return of Jesus is imminent and should, therefore, compel you to be prepared. To do so, you need to act out your faith in four ways.

  1. Refocus on the eternal presence and glory of God (Rev. 22:1-5).
  2. Resolve to trust and keep the Word of God (Rev. 22:6-10).
  3. Rest in Christ alone as your righteousness (Rev. 22:11-15).
  4. Respond to God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ (Rev. 22:16-21).

The Lord’s promised return feeds hope into our hearts. It encourages us to continue to fight hard at putting sin to death, as we do not want to be ashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28), and long for the day I will be like Him, pure as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3). It helps us to persevere in our suffering, both bodily suffering and spiritual suffering at the hands of God’s enemies. Our present suffering is not worthy to be compared to the glory that is coming (Rom. 8:18). One day soon, Revelation 21:3 will be our living reality: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

WATCH OR LISTEN TO THE SERMON “Are You Ready?”

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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August 14, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS: Medications

I’ve linked to three articles that are really important for you to read. I’m thankful for the kindness, balance, biblical wisdom, and experience displayed by the authors.

A Biblical Understanding of Psychotropic Medication – “We should be well-informed medically. But as Christians, we also need a biblically-based philosophy to guide the use or non-use of psychoactive medications.”

When Medication is Helpful in the Life of a Counselee – “… taking medication for a psychological/psychiatric diagnosis is a Romans 14 Christian liberty issue.”

The Six Counselees Who Should Say “No” to Psychotropic Medication – “As a biblical counselor in private practice, many clients ask me if they should go on psychotropic medications. Some desperately want me to say yes. But I often say no. Here are six counselees whom I typically discourage from starting psychotropic meds.”

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August 13, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Counselor’s Toolbox

I’ve been reminded recently of a unique and fairly new continued-learning guide built by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The Counselor’s Toolbox is a box of resources shipped directly to your door 4x/year. Inside every box you will find a book recommended by ACBC, along with an exclusive Companion Guide to lead you through the resource. You will also receive a personal update from behind the scenes of ACBC. With each new edition, Counselor’s Toolbox will impact your knowledge of biblical counseling and strengthen your personal ministry.

Check out the Counselor’s Toolbox.

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August 13, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Together at Last

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Rev. 21:1)

There is much to think about…so much that is packed in that little word “then.” Most immediately, the apostle John is transitioning from multiple chapters describing God’s end-time judgment on the unbelieving world. Plagues and fire, hail and famine, bowls of God’s wrath poured out upon the world that has rejected His salvation. So the word then moves John’s readers from the horrors of the final Judgment Day to the glories of eternal life in heaven with God.

But the little word “then” also takes us back much further in time…to the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” the Bible begins. There, in that garden of matchless beauty, God lived with man. He walked with them in the Garden of Eden. He was their joy because He was their God.

But something awful happened.

Under the influence of Satan, the great deceiver, Adam and Eve chose their own way instead of God’s way. They chose to worship their own desires instead of worshipping God with all their heart, mind, and soul. Before Satan intruded into the garden, man and woman enjoyed harmony with God. But it didn’t last long. The great deceiver moved in closer to trick Adam and Eve into questioning God’s integrity and goodness. It worked. They fell for it. Man and woman betrayed God, and their relationship with God changed forever. It went from peace and joy to separation and sorrow.

But God . . . !

But God made a sacrifice which took care of their sin. He restored them. He then gave a promise, hidden within the curse he pronounced against Satan. One day, the promised Child would come to defeat the devil (Genesis 3:14–15; Revelation 12:9). Knowing this, the devil worked overtime to destroy the genetic line of Messiah. The unfolding of the story of redemption is then the main subject of the Bible. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 21, God progressively reveals the glory of the Savior while Satan does everything in his power to prevent the inevitable victory that was planned by God.

Throughout the Old Testament, God works in and through His chosen people. Through their faith, as well as their unfaithfulness and rebellion, God remains faithful to His promise. The patriarchs embraced the promise of God, and they walked by faith. Though they repeatedly failed and sinned, God’s grace triumphed over their sin. God kept His promise. The prophets were God’s messengers, at times bringing God’s rebuke to His people, warning them to repent. But through it all, they also continually reminded the people of God that the final victory of eternal redemption would be accomplished. And, so, everything that occurred between Genesis 3:1 and Revelation 20:15 is packed into the little word that opens Revelation 21, “then.” The apostle John continues…

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:2-5)

God will make all things new. This is seen in three promises we may draw from these verses.

  1. God will remake the heavens and the earth (vv. 1-2).
  2. God will reside with believers forever (v. 3)
  3. God will replace all grief with the joy of His presence (vv. 4-5).

These are promises that you may hold tightly if you know Jesus Christ (see Revelation 21:22-27).

There are multitude ways that the truth of this chapter could be applied to your life. But let me simply draw your attention to one that I believe will minister deeply to your heart and soul.

In your suffering, look to the surpassing glory that awaits you in the presence of our Savior. There we will live together . . . with God . . . forever, just imagine! There, in the city of God, all believers will dwell with the Lamb who is worthy of eternal worship because he was slain. By his blood he “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Life with God, which began in the garden of Eden, will be restored in another garden. This time it will be a heavenly one. The curse will be reversed! Glory will be restored.

[Watch or listen to the sermon here.]

This is the Bible’s big story—the story of God’s redemption of helpless and unworthy sinners, at great cost, to more fully display his glory, and to share it with us once again. Blissful joy and peace will return, for “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man . . . and God himself will be with them.” What glory that will be!

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August 10, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

How Not to Fall Away – This is a humble warning to all of us concerning apostasy, in light of Joshua Harris’s renouncing of Christ.

The Gospel According to Essential Oils – “I don’t need Jesus + oils. I need the resurrected Christ, from now until I return to the dust that the plants grow in.”

Pleasant Words, Healing Words – “Parents who are overflowing with God’s love and grace for their children, who consider their children a blessing rather than a curse bring hope and encouragement to their families.”

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August 8, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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How Come No One Is Talking About 1 Timothy 3:6?

News articles and blog posts about Joshua Harris’s departure from the Christian faith abound, but I’m concerned about a distinct omission. I’m certain I’ve not had time to read every article, but so far something pretty important seems to be missing.

Why is no one talking about the Church’s part in all of this?

Surely Joshua is completely responsible for his own heart of unbelief and the sinful behavior which flows from it. But isn’t the Church at least partially to blame for scenarios like this? Aren’t Christian publishers who elevate a single, 21-year old man to be his generation’s relationship guru at least partially to blame? Aren’t the organizers of mega-conferences who present this same man as a model pastor to tens of thousands of men (twice or three times his age) at least partially responsible for clouding his understanding of his own depravity and, thus, his own need for genuine conversion? Why is no one talking about the failure to follow the apostolic mandate found in 1 Timothy 3:6?

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Clearly, a spiritual novice is not biblically qualified to be a spiritual leader in the church. The descriptor “recent convert” is from neophutos, which is translated “novice” in the KJV and means: “newly planted.” It is used of young, newly planted trees that need time and nurture for proper establishment of their root system, and growth. It seems to me that, in the Church, where maturity should be affirmed more highly than in any other enterprise (Eph. 4:13), a newly planted tree should not be treated as if it were a well-established red oak.

First Timothy 5:22 repeats the warning: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” The purpose for this command is to protect the leader himself so that he does not become “conceited” (tuphow). The word means to wrap in smoke, to puff up, to be clouded. In other words, to be blinded by pride. For the same reason, deacons, too, should “be tested first” (1 Tim. 3:10). When we raise a man up before the proper time we share responsibility for his sins.

Pride is “the condemnation of the devil.” In other words, pride is what motivated Lucifer’s rebellion, and which led to his condemnation. He was the most spectacular of all of God’s angelic creatures “until unrighteousness was found in [him]” (Ezek 28:15). That unrighteousness was pride. Five times he said, “I will…” (Isa 14:13-14), only to find himself later condemned. Pride was also the root sin of Sodom: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance” (Ezek 16:49). It was pride that led to all of her other sins.

Pride always leads to destruction. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18), because “everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord” (16:5). John Stott writes, “Pride is without doubt the chief occupational hazard of the preacher. It has ruined many, and deprived their ministry of power.”[1] By putting a spiritual novice into spiritual leadership the church sets him up for a fall and the judgment that follows…and many people are harmed.

So, as we grieve the falling away of yet another young celebrity pastor, let us be careful. As some become angry at their fallen hero for failing them, let us be sure to also point a finger at ourselves, and ask, “How did we, the Church, fail?” “How did we sin against Joshua Harris, and how did we fail the Church?” “How will we guard our own hearts from apostasy?”

What will we, the Church, learn from this most recent example?


[1] John R.W. Stott, Between Two Worlds (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), p.320.

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August 5, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Stand Up for the Faith

False prophets who call themselves servants of God for their own personal gain are nothing new. Religious teachers who tweak the Bible’s message in order to build their own kingdoms have always been around. Throughout the Bible there are accounts of God’s truth being distorted for personal gain.

One prime illustration is found in the book of Jeremiah. God had had enough of His people’s idolatry, so He decided to have wicked Babylon take them away to judgment if they would not repent. His warning and call to repentance was to be given through Jeremiah.  But Jeremiah wasn’t the only prophet in Judah. There were false prophets, too. These false messengers opposed Jeremiah’s negative preaching about the coming judgment, and instead preached only positive sermons.

God said they did this out of the greed of their hearts, for personal gain. In Jeremiah 6, God describes them:

For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.

So God warned His people not to believe everything they hear, but to listen only to the Word of the Lord.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16)

Sadly, the people listened to the false prophets who only preached a positive message, and threw Jeremiah into a cistern of mud.

This pattern is repeated throughout the Old Testament. The greedy liars are believed by the masses, and the faithful preachers of truth are silenced and sometimes even put to death. So much so that Jesus said in His day: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Sadly, even after the fullness of God’s redemptive plan arrived in Jesus—and He was crucified, died, and rose again—Satan continued to empower his deceitful messengers. They continue to do this through deception that is rooted in self-interest and personal gain. The apostle Paul said of the false apostles who had infiltrated the church at Corinth:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

Warnings like these are found in many places in the New Testament, but none is stronger and more pointed than the book of Jude. As you read the little letter, you see that Jude holds nothing back. He is so burdened to protect true believers that he writes the longest and strongest warning found in the New Testament concerning apostasy. William MacDonald says: “Jude does not mince words! He pulls out all the stops, as it were, to unmask these notorious heretics.”

Intending to write an encouraging letter about the wonders of God’s salvation, Jude was instead directed by the Holy Spirit to write a different type of letter. Not only is this a warning, but it is a call to believers to defend the true gospel, to contend for sound doctrine, and stand up for the faith that was once for all delivered to Christians. In this sobering letter, Jude, a younger half-brother of Jesus, calls us to stand up for the faith.  This humble servant of God compels us to not only listen, but to take action.

Here we see four ongoing disciplines that are necessary to standing up for the faith.

  • Rest in God’s Punishment (vv. 3-13).
  • Remember God’s Prophecies (vv. 14-19).
  • Return to God’s Priorities (vv. 20-23).
  • Rely on God’s Power (vv. 24-25).

Brothers and sisters, we are living in the last days. Paul’s description to Timothy sounds like something we might read in today’s news.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:1-7).

WATCH OR LISTEN TO THIS SERMON.

Let us heed the warning of Jesus himself: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15)

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August 3, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

9 Steps to Transform Your Finances – “It’s been said that if you don’t discipline your finances, they’ll discipline you. But, I’ll add that undisciplined spending punishes you.”

Parenting Is about Faith – “Parental instruction focuses on the commands of God, not with the behavior of children.”

God Created Family to Carry Out His Will – “As God created humanity, he assigned a huge two-part mission: one, be fruitful and multiply; and two, subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. Both of these commands rely upon family.”

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August 2, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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A Guide through Lamentations for Pastors and Counselors

I’m exceedingly thankful to the Lord for the renewed interest in biblical lament, as evidenced by the popularity of some recent books. If you are a pastor or counselor, or going through a deep valley of suffering yourself, studying the book of Lamentations is indispensable. When I preached through Lamentations in my former church, over a decade ago, it was life-changing. One of the fruits from that preaching series is a book that I co-authored in 2010.

Description

This book is a verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Lamentations, as well as a biblical counselor’s guide to using Lamentations in counseling situations.

Endorsements

  • “Paul Tautges and Eric Kress have given to us a wonderful exposition of the often neglected book of Lamentations. Not only have they brought the full meaning of the text to the surface, but they have filled the commentary with practical suggestions of ways in which this much needed teaching on how to act in the midst of deep suffering can be carried out to the glory of God and the personal enrichment of each individual believer. I heartily recommend this book for those who are in times of deep distress and for the body of Christ that needs to be prepared for every possible form of suffering that may come our way, or that may come in the lives of those we need to reach out to for the glory of God.” — Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. President Emeritus Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • “Books by Bible teachers that combine solid exposition, theological depth, and pastoral wisdom are very rare. They might include one of these strengths, seldom two, but almost never all three. This book on Lamentations, however, is just such a book! It is a tremendous accomplishment. It is at one and the same time a verse-by-verse commentary, a rich devotional treasury, and a very capable biblical counselor’s guide. I cannot say enough good things about it. Seasoned shepherds, Eric Kress and Paul Tautges are uniquely qualified to write on this somewhat unfamiliar Old Testament book. They combine the skill of preachers, the acumen of theologians, and the sensitivity of counselors. For both pastors and laymen alike, this book fills a great need. I am grateful for this addition to the Kress Biblical Resources line of volumes. It will surely do its part to edify the church of Jesus Christ.” — Lance Quinn, Pastor-Teacher, Bethany Church, ACBC board member
  • “Rarely is a divinely inspired work, especially when endowed with such beauty fully crafted poetry, so routinely ignored by Christians. Yet that is the lot of this work by Jeremiah. Employing a combination of acrostics and unusual meter, this ‘weeping prophet’ intricately intersperses his despair and lament with astonishing songs of solace and thanksgiving. Fortunately, authors Kress and Tautges have brought this small prophecy to life for us, pulling it out of the shadows of neglect and drawing us irresistibly to its timeless lessons. Plumbing the depths of the prophets is not always simple, yet these authors, with their distinctively pastoral style, make it easy to access the truths of this prophecy and apply its eternal principles. And in doing so, they have remarkably captured both depth and breadth. Whether for Bible student, pastor, or counselor, the authors have unlocked the treasures of Lamentations to preaching and teaching the text of this extraordinary prophet. Multiple outlines, study guides, and insights for counseling provide unique entrées into understanding the text, making this a must-have tool for every library.—Irv Busenitz Vice President for Academic Administration Professor of Bible Exposition and Old Testament The Master’s Seminary

Check out The Discipline of Mercy.

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