Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

October 7, 2015
by Paul Tautges

Stuart Scott: 13 Foundational Realities of Change

Yesterday, during one of the plenary sessions at the ACBC conference, Dr. Stuart Scott taught on the process of change and the possibility of sexual purity (Titus 2:11-15). As he wrapped up his message, he summarized how inner change takes place in our hearts. Stuart drew our attention to 13 foundational realities of effective, lasting change.

  1. Change takes place by dealing with the heart (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:21ff).
  2. Change takes place by our new position and identity in Christ being understood and applied daily (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  3. Change takes place by a new, dependent pursuit of Christ as Lord. The imperatives of the gospel provide the framework of the outworking of salvation/faith toward Christ-likeness (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:1).
  4. Change takes place by making inside and outside change more personal (Proverbs 15:13; 18:13; 25:11).
  5. Change takes place through a personal, abiding and growing relationship with the Lord Jesus(2 Peter 3:18).
  6. Change takes place by a radical treatment of pervasive sin in response to the gospel Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 5; Romans 13:14).
  7. Change takes place through personal involvement in the local church, a gospel believing and practicing local church. This is the context of our sanctification (Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 12).
  8. Change takes place through an increase in thankfulness, as opposed to grumbling and self-pity (Ephesians 5:4-5).
  9. Change takes place by learning the biblical perspective of trials and suffering (James 1; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
  10. Change takes place through engagement in the spiritual battle with hope (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
  11. Change takes place through applying the personal sufficiency of God’s grace through humility, prayer, the Word, and a plan for obedience (Ephesians 6:18, 4:2; Hebrews 4:16).
  12. Change takes place by growing in real love for, and giving to, others; as opposed to a life of self-focus (1 Corinthians 13:1-5).
  13. Change takes place by means of a more prevailing hope—the promised hope of complete transformation at Christ’s return (1 Peter 1:13).

[Dr. Stuart Scott is a professor of biblical counseling at the Master’s College (Santa Clarita, CA), a visiting professor of biblical counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY), and the founder of One-Eighty Counseling and Education, a ministry that partners with local churches for biblical hope and change.]

Print this entry

October 6, 2015
by Paul Tautges

Completely Done

Driving to Louisville this past Monday for the annual ACBC conference, I switched back and forth listening to a Sovereign Grace CD and the audio book of Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students. The song “Completely Done” ministers deeply to my soul, compelling me to meditate on the truth that Christ will finish the work that He began in me at conversion over 31 years ago (Philippians 1:6). May the lyrics encourage you, too.

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

Print this entry

October 1, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Crazy Lazy

Crazy Lazy

Crazy Lazy is a miniature book (only 40 pages) by Alistair Begg, senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. I picked it up a few weeks ago when I spent a morning reading and studying in Parkside’s lovely bookstore/café. The book is a bite-sized warning against laziness, counsel drawn from the book of Proverbs. The second chapter describes the sluggard’s lifestyle, which Begg sums up in 5 characteristics.

Habitually procrastinating: As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed (Proverbs 26:14). “As he is always hinged to his bed, it is impossible to get this character to start things. He doesn’t like being directly approached….He never actually refuses to do anything. It is not that he comes right out and says, ‘I am not going to do that.’ He just puts it off bit by bit, moment by moment.”

Happy with his excuses: “In fact lazy people are usually masterful at making excuses. When his laziness is disturbed, he becomes incredibly ingenious….The person who doesn’t have a mind to work is never lacking in excuses to secure his idleness….The lazy person then begins to make up absurd excuses. For example, the sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming in the streets!’” (Proverbs 26:13).

Hopeless at completing things: “The third thing to notice about him is that this individual is hinged to his bed, utterly hopeless at completing things. He begins to chase the prey, but in the course of his attempt to run after it, laziness overtakes him and he says, ‘You know, I think I will lie down under this tree for just a moment or two.’” Proverbs 26:15 provides a graphic picture of this slacker: The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. Begg quips, “Picture a guy who puts his hand in a bowl of Cheerios and then says, ‘Cheerio!’”

Hungry for fulfilment: “The lazy individual will always be hungering for fulfilment, because, by virtue of his posture, he never experiences fulfilment. His desires are always there somewhere, but he never realizes them; they never materialize….In their fantasy world, individuals like this may succumb to invitations on the television to buy dumb stuff that apparently makes you skinny and fit, because they think that if they pay $19.95 for some plastic bucket and sit in it, they will get an abdominal frame to die for….The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing. This is not because he can’t, but because he won’t.” The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work (Proverbs 21:25).

Haughty in his opinion of himself: The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly (Proverbs 26:16). The lazy individual “is hearty in his self-appraisal” and somehow thinks work will get done “by osmosis.” He “is a comic, tragic figure—hinged to his bed, habitually procrastinating, happy with his excuses, hopeless at completing things, hungry for fulfillment, and haughty in his opinion of himself.”

Crazy Lazy is a simple, biblical challenge to each and every one of us. In the strength of the Lord, may we show forth diligence in all the works He has planned for us (Eph. 2:10)!

RELATED POST: Motivation for Lazy Christians

Print this entry

September 30, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on New Mini-Book Display Is Ideal for Churches

New Mini-Book Display Is Ideal for Churches

John MacArthur recently gave these words of praise for the LifeLine mini-books: “These little books are directly targeted to the issues that we all face and they hit the bulls-eye. They are faithful to Scripture and they demonstrate insight into its application. Churches need to make these available for their congregations.” As the consulting editor for this series, I’m pleased to inform you that Shepherd Press is making it easier than ever for churches and training centers to make these books more accessible, and just in time for the ACBC annual conference in Louisville, next week. This special offer includes a beautiful, free display unit filled with 64 of the LifeLine mini-books for only $199.00 (a savings of $56.00), as well as:LLMBdisplayRack3Dweb72

  • Generous discount package-offer with free shipping
  • Special deal enabling your church or ministry to get a significant discount and free shipping on replenishment orders
  • Extend the reach of your church’s ministry in a natural and informal way
  • Use high-traffic zones in your building to bring practical resources to people’s attention
  • Provide people with biblically sound answers to fallen-world issues
  • Make these mini-books available on a “take a free copy” basis so that people can receive help discreetly on sensitive issues
  • Use this sturdy and durable unit in your church lobby, counseling center, fellowship hall or resource center
  • Never miss out on new and forthcoming titles! You will automatically find out about upcoming mini-books and be able to get them at a special price

If you plan to be in Louisville next week, be sure to stop by the Shepherd Press table. If not, check out this offer here. Don’t waste time. Offer expires November 30th.

Print this entry

September 29, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on A New Song

A New Song

There is no higher duty or greater privilege than to worship the one true and living God. According to the prophet Isaiah, we were created for the purpose of bringing God glory (Isaiah 43:7). When the apostle John caught a preview of the worship taking place in heaven, he heard the following unceasing praise:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! (Revelation 4:8).

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. (Revelation 4:11).

God is to be worshipped because He is worthy. When we worship God we do as Psalm 96 directs:

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name (vv. 7-8).

To worship God is to actively, intentionally ascribe to Him the glory due his name. He is worthy of our worship simply because He is our Creator. But there is much more.

God is worthy of our worship and praise because He is our Redeemer; He has accomplished all that is necessary to rescue us from our sin and restore us to a right relationship with Him through the work of His Son. He has put a new song in our hearts.

That phrase, “A New Song,” is rich. When we look at the 9x it is used in the Scriptures we conclude that it refers to the song of the redeemed. It is the praise that flows from the mouths and hearts of those who have experienced God’s salvation. For example:

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. [Psalm 40:1-3]

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. [Psalm 96:1-2]

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. [Psalm 98:1-2]

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” [Revelation 5:9]

What is this new song? It is the song of the redeemed.

When the Holy Spirit changes your heart and you finally come to the end of your wandering, He puts a new song in your heart. And that is the song you want to sing.

  • You want to sing the song of the redeemed.
  • You want to sing the song of the blind man who said, “I once was blind, but now I see” (John 9:25).
  • You want to sing the song of the immoral woman who said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did” (John 4:29).
  • You want to sing the song of the broken, penniless, bleeding woman who said to herself, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (Mark 5:28).
  • You want to sing the song of the self-righteous, arrogant Pharisee who said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:7-8).

Redemption produces a longing in your heart to forever praise the surpassing worth of the One who redeemed you. This is what it means to bring worship and praise to our God.

Print this entry

September 28, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on BC Conference in Columbus, Ohio

BC Conference in Columbus, Ohio

Life is hard and if you sense an easy stretch presently, the road bends just ahead. And in the world of struggle and hurt, a maze of philosophies abound to help you deal with life. Unfortunately, most fall short of the finish line and at best, only help you limp along for a time. What do you say and how do you respond when a friend or neighbor or a coworker shares his or her crisis with you? What insight do you provide?

Instead of simply offering condolences or glib phrases, you can do something far more. The Bible asserts this amazing declaration: “His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). We have the sufficiency of God’s Word to help impact others for God’s glory. It alone has the eternal answers we need to not simply exist or get by, but to live victoriously.

Next month, Fellowship Baptist Church of Dublin, Ohio is hosting a conference with Dr. Bob Kellemen and Pastor Jim Stevanus. These brothers will assist you in helping hurting people, not to mention provide you with biblical tools to handle life in a God-pleasing way. Make the investment as you look to the Scriptures for answers to life’s problems. For more information, click here.

Print this entry

September 28, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Be Filled with the Spirit, Not Alcohol

Be Filled with the Spirit, Not Alcohol

The fundamental difference between a believer and an unbeliever is that the believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, and the unbeliever does not. The unbeliever remains under the control of the flesh and of the devil, having his understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). The believer, on the other hand, has the life of God within him because he is born again; he is reborn from above, that is, the Holy Spirit has made him a new creature through the gospel of Jesus Christ and now indwells him (1 Peter 1:3, 23). This means, then, that wherever a believer is the Holy Spirit is there with him. Let us consider, then, what it means for us as believers to obey the command found in Ephesians 5:18-20.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Be filled with the Spirit” is a continual command. It is one of three commands given to believers concerning our ongoing relationship to the Holy Spirit. The other two are “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). All other works of the Spirit are performed upon the believer at a moment in time, not repeated. For example, the Scriptures teach that we are baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment we become a Christian. We are never commanded to be baptized by the Spirit. Neither are we commanded to be indwelt by the Spirit, sealed by the Spirit, or gifted by the Spirit. These are all actions the Spirit performs at a moment in time, at conversion. But being filled with the Spirit is different; it is a command that is given to us to be obeyed continually.

But what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To help us understand, the apostle compares and contrasts being filled with the spirit and being intoxicated with alcohol. The exhortation, “do not get drunk with wine,” is a call to the believer to not allow his mind to be controlled by an external substance. Alcohol controls a person’s mind and, inevitably, his actions, which usually end up being sinful.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones pastored Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years and was affectionately called “The Doctor.” He was called this not only because he was a masterful physician of the soul, but because he was a medical doctor before he became a pastor. When the Holy Spirit called him to the ministry, he left a lucrative career as the physician to the royal family. In The Doctor’s exposition of Ephesians 5:18, he said this about the influence of alcohol upon the mind:

The Christian life is a controlled life, an ordered life; it is the very reverse of the condition of the drunkard who has lost control, and is being controlled by something else, as it were, and who is therefore in a state of utter disorder and disarray….Drink is not a stimulant, it is a depressant. It depresses first and foremost the highest centres of all in the brain. They are the very first to be influenced and affected by drink. They control everything that gives a man self-control, wisdom, understanding, discrimination, judgment, balance, the power to assess everything; in other words everything that makes a man behave at his very best and highest….What alcohol does is this; it knocks out those higher centres, and so the more primitive elements in the brain come up and take control; and a man feels better temporarily….What is really true of him is that he has become more of an animal; his control over himself is diminished.

This loss of self-control leads to many sinful actions. Intoxication leads to “debauchery,” which is excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures. Like the prodigal who ended up eating breakfast with a bunch of pigs, so drunkenness degrades the person who is intoxicated as well as others around him. But the believer in Christ does not need wine to escape from reality; he does not look to alcohol for his joy, but his joy is from the Holy Spirit and will exhibit the fruit of self-control.

The believer is not to be controlled by alcohol, but by the Holy Spirit. By means of the Word, the Spirit informs our minds with the truth, stirs our affections toward Christ, and moves our wills to submit to Christ and be transformed by His Word (2 Corinthians 3:18). These results are spiritual in contrast to fleshly. The apostle teaches that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit our hearts will be filled with praise to God, which is exactly the same result of being filled with the Word of God (Colossians 3:16). We will sing the Word to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; our hearts will overflow with thanksgiving to God. When this takes place the church is edified and the lost are evangelized.

Print this entry

September 24, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 2 New Counseling Resources from RBP

2 New Counseling Resources from RBP

One of the blessings of being a blogger is receiving review copies of new resources on discipleship, counseling, and Christian growth. Though I do not have time to read and review all of them, I like to inform you of new resources that may strengthen your personal walk with the Lord and your one-another ministry. Recently, I received these two new, noteworthy resources from Regular Baptist Press.

DependenceDependence in the Wilderness by Dr. Jeff Newman, DMin (Westminster Theological Seminary). This book is written both for counselors and for all believers who find themselves in the grip of suffering. With pastoral sensitivity and warmth, Jeff Newman directs readers’ attention to Psalm 63 and to the examples of David and Christ in the midst of their suffering. In the Foreword, Ed Welch says the author is “an excellent guide” through Psalm 63 an encourages the reader to walk slowly through this rich resource. Psalm 63 reveals David’s three pursuits in the wilderness. These were Christ’s pursuits as well. Study these three pursuits in depth, learning to apply them to your own life so that you, too, can experience hope and direction in the wilderness.

addictionAddiction: A Family Affair by Pamela Russell is a manual for use in counseling the families of substance abusers. While there is a great deal of material available on counseling substance abusers themselves, the needs of the abuser’s family is often overlooked. Even if the abuser will not seek counseling, this material will help loved ones respond biblically. The author formerly served as director of Almond Tree, a substance abuse ministry for believers and churches. Pam has two decades of experience in counseling and correctional settings; she is an Indiana Law Enforcement chaplain, an ACBC certified counselor, and the national director of Women’s Ministry for the Capital Commission.

Print this entry

September 24, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Engaging with God

Engaging with God

The past week, I’ve been paging through some of my books on worship and reading portions that I highlighted many years ago. One of the books I really enjoyed, and was challenged by, is Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship by David Peterson. Here’s a few quotes that resonated with me and stirred my heart.

Worship Is Engaging with God and Responding in Faith

“Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that he proposes and in the manner that he makes possible. It involves honouring, serving and respecting him, abandoning any loyalty or devotion that hinders an exclusive relationship with him. Although some of Scripture’s terms for worship may refer to specific gestures of homage, rituals or priestly ministrations, worship is more fundamentally faith expressing itself in obedience and adoration. Consequently, in both Testaments it is often shown to be a personal and moral fellowship with God relevant to every sphere of life.”

“Fundamentally, then, worship in the New Testament means believing the gospel and responding with one’s whole life and being to the person and work of God’s son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Worship and Evangelism

“God brings people to himself as they come to know his Son through the proclamation of the gospel and yield themselves to him through the work of his Spirit in their lives. Such exclusive claims inevitably provoke hostility and hostility brings with it the temptation to modify the message. But evangelism that falls short of sharing these truths and urging people to respond to them will be less than biblical in its content and aim. In a world characterized by relativism and religious pluralism, Christians need every encouragement to keep pointing to Jesus as the one in whom alone the nations can be united in worship.”

Christ-centered Preaching Is Worship

“Preaching about Christ must be at the heart of a Christian theology of worship. As in the Old Testament, the word of the Lord is central to a genuine encounter with God. Those who are concerned about God-honouring worship will be concerned about the proclamation of the gospel, in the world and in the church, in public teaching and private dialogue.”

“Teaching and preaching the apostolic word in the Christian congregation today may therefore be regarded as both a human and a divine activity. It is a ministry of encouragement and challenge which we can have to one another but it is also God’s way of confronting us. It is an essential aspect of what may be termed ‘congregational worship’ because it is itself an act of worship or service designed to glorify God. At the same time, its aim should be to provoke acceptable worship in the form of prayer, praise and obedience, in church and in the context of everyday life.”

“Once again, the centrality of gospel proclamation to the meeting of Christ’s people must be affirmed. Ministries of the word of God need to be exercised in the congregation to enable us to engage with God and serve him appropriately. If Christians are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, a gospel-based ministry of teaching and exhortation is essential.”

Edification of the Body Is Connected to Worship

“Edification and worship are different sides of the same coin.”

“Church meetings should not be regarded simply as a means to an end–a preparation for worship and witness in everyday life–but as ‘the focus-point of that whole wider worship which is the continually repeated self-surrender of the Christian in obedience of life.’ The church is at the centre of God’s redemptive purposes for the universe (cf. Eph. 3:10-11), the earthly and temporal anticipation of the fellowship of the new creation, where God will be served without compromise or hindrance (Rev. 7:15; 22:3). Ministry exercised in love amongst the people of God is a sign of the Spirit’s transforming power already at work in those who believe. Ministry exercised for the building up of the body of Christ is a significant way of worshipping and glorifying God.”

Since there is no higher duty or greater privilege than to worship the one true and living God, let us pursue Him with all our heart.

Print this entry

September 22, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Enable Us by Our Faith

Enable Us by Our Faith

This morning, during a time of prayer with a brother in Christ, my heart was blessed by this prayer from Matthew Henry:

Give us the grace to believe, for the faith that saves does not come from ourselves, but only as your gift. Lord, increase our faith. Perfect what is lacking in it, that we may be strong in faith, giving you the glory. [Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8; Luke 17:5; 1 Thess. 3:10; Rom. 4:20]

Let us be daily crucified with Christ, so that the life we live in the flesh will be by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself up to be crucified for us. As we continually bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, let his life also be manifested in us. [Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:10].

As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord by faith, let us walk in him with the same faith. Let us be rooted and built up in him, established in the faith as we have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving. Let every word of yours profit us as it is mixed with faith. By our faith let us receive the testimony of Jesus, and then offer our own testimony that you, our God, are always true. Work in us that faith which makes substance out of things hoped for, and provides confirmation for things not seen. Let us look beyond visible things that are temporal and focus on invisible things that are eternal. [Col. 2:6-7; Heb. 4:2; John 3:33; Heb. 11:1; 2 Cor. 4:18]

Enable us by our faith to always perceive you as being immediately in our presence. Let us have our eyes directed toward you, that in everything we may act as though we see you, the one who forever remains invisible to the human eye. Instead of focusing on the dangers of this life, let us set our attention on your reward for those who continue to trust in you. [Psa. 16:8; 25:15; Heb. 11:26-27]

[From Matthew Henry’s A Way to Pray]

Print this entry