Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

February 19, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Jesus Got Angry At Death

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35)

God is not put off by your grief. The shortest verse in the Bible is proof. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). If it was alright for the Son of God to weep over the death of his friend, Lazarus, surely it’s alright for you to cry too.

But what we typically miss here is that Jesus’ grief was mixed with anger. He was “greatly troubled.” This is important to understand, since it reminds us that death is unnatural. It disturbs us, and it should. But, as Christians, it should also deepen our appreciation of the victory Jesus secured on our behalf through his own death, burial, and resurrection.

In his classic essay The Emotional Life of Our Lord, B.B. Warfield, renowned theologian at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921, provides explanation. When Jesus observed Mary weeping (wailing) he groaned in his spirit and groaned in himself. Warfield writes, the “natural suggestion of the word ‘groan’ is…pain or sorrow, not [disapproval]; and this rendering…is misleading….What John tells us, in point of fact, is that Jesus approached the grave of Lazarus, in a state, not of uncontrollable grief, but of irrepressible anger. He did respond…with quiet, sympathetic tears: ‘Jesus wept’ (verse 36). But the emotion which tore his breast and clamored for utterance was just rage.” This was not “just rage,” meaning only rage. It was “just rage,” meaning his anger was intense and just. “Jesus raged within himself.” This “inwardly restrained fury produced a profound agitation of his whole being, one of the manifestations of which was tears.”

But what, and who, was this controlled anger directed at? Death and the devil. “Why did the sight of the wailing of Mary and her companions enrage Jesus?” Warfield asks, and then answers his own question: “The spectacle of the distress of Mary and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness…and “burns with rage against the oppressor of men….It is death that is the object of his wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death and whom he has come into the world to destroy….What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as he wins for us our salvation.”

The Bible assures us that when the appointed time came, God sent forth His Son, Jesus, the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Galatians 4:4; Genesis 3:15) He did this on the cross, while the unrestrained fury of God was unleashed upon sin, the first cause of death, and the devil. Jesus died in your place so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Worthy is the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 5:12) and who, three days after being slain, arose victorious to defeat the devil, and purchase redemption for sinners!

Be careful. Jesus was angry at death, but he never sinned. Sadly, because of your sin nature, it will be infinitely more difficult for you to mix anger with your grief, and yet not sin.

So guard your heart.

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February 18, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Differentiating Between Two Kinds of Shame

Shame may follow sinful actions, or it may arise from accepting blame or failure. Whether guilt is real or imagined, shame holds a person hostage with the condemning declaration, “You are bad!” Shame generally takes two forms. “I am bad because of what I have done.” In this case, personal sin produces guilt, and out of guilt may come feelings that we will call sin-shame. “I am bad because of what other people have done.” The sins of other people hurt you in ways that may cause feelings that we will call provoked-shame.

We need to distinguish between these two kinds of shame.

Sin-Shame

Sin-shame is the consequence of your actual guilt. When you offend God, the shame that results is true and right. If you have been mercilessly victimized, this may be hard news to hear….As hard as it is to hear this, sin-shame tells you the truth: “I am bad because of what I have done.” Your guilt is real and irreversible. It needs to be addressed, but you are helpless to address it because you can’t undo it. Therefore, you need God to forgive your sins, exchange your guilt for his righteousness (putting you into a right standing with God, based on the merits of Christ—2 Corinthians 5:21), and provide new life and identity that powerfully fight shame (Ephesians 1:3–6). Sin-shame is actually merciful because it was designed to drive you to God for his free pardon in Jesus Christ. When you respond by repenting, sin-shame is no longer necessary, so God removes it.

Provoked-Shame

From a young age Shannon experienced provoked shame: “I am bad because of what others have done.” Shannon’s uncle and mother sinned in ways that hurt Shannon and fostered her sense of self-condemnation and disgrace. Even today she feels betrayed, exposed, embarrassed, and confused. Ashamed. As with sin-shame, provoked-shame condemns Shannon as a bad person. But unlike sin-shame, provoked-shame is a lie. No matter how she may feel, the sins of other people do not condemn Shannon in God’s sight (Ezekiel 18:20). Provoked shame condemns no one before God. But, if believed, its lies can do terrible damage. Provoked-shame seems hopeless because the sufferer cannot prevent or fix the sins of others. As with sin-shame, someone outside the situation must intervene. Jesus Christ is that someone.

Mistaken Tendencies

We have seen that sin-shame tells the truth: “I am bad because of what I have done.” Sin-shame warns you of the condemnation of sin. When you heed the warning, sin-shame drives you to God. Therefore, sin-shame should be believed. But provoked-shame lies to you—“I am bad because of what others have done”—and cruelly condemns you for something you can’t control. Provoked-shame should be rejected.

[Written by Sue Nicewander, and excerpted from her mini-book HELP! I Feel Ashamed.]

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February 16, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

I Am the Lover of My Home (for husbands) – Ron Allchin: ” The lover role comes before the leadership role! Husbands are to set the atmosphere for LOVE in their own home.”

Life As a Wife (for wives) – Sherry Allchin: “God always has a plan, and everything He does has a purpose. Even the order of Creation indicates God’s design that Adam was to relate vertically to God first before he had a counterpart with horizontal relations.”

Four Words that Describe Today’s Pre-Teen Girls – Dannah Gresh: “What if I told you that instead of being insecure, anxious, confused, and deceptive that your daughter could grow up to be confident, peaceful, and truthful?”

The Particular Temptations of Young Men – Tim Challies: “I love to spend time with young men, to counsel them, and to assure them that this time in their lives has great significance. As we speak, I find a number of common temptations they face while passing through their teens and twenties.”

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February 15, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Another Helper

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

You are never alone. Never. Ever. If you are a Christian, then God is always with you. More than that, he is in you through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised this to his disciples immediately following an important announcement. He would be leaving them soon, in order to build and furnish their heavenly home, but they would remain here (John 14:1–15). So he assured them “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). Jesus would never think of abandoning them. Instead, he promised to give them “another Helper.” This word refers to one who comes alongside to exhort or encourage. But Jesus says this time the Spirit would be sent differently than before. In other words, Jesus assures them the Holy Spirit would not only be with them, but in them. This means they would not only be able count on the Spirit’s presence at certain times, or for certain purposes, but always in every place forever. How is this possible?

The Spirit would indwell them. He would actually take up residence within their physical bodies. What a comforting promise this must have been for them, and is for you!

Scripture teaches that every true believer has been united to Christ by the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s presence, there are no haves and have-nots among Christians. By his grace–and because of the promise of Jesus–the Spirit is now every believer’s helper.

What should also encourage you today is this: The Spirit’s helping ministry includes healing your heart. Hence the reason Helper is sometimes translated Comforter or Counselor. However, it is vital for you to comprehend the chief means by which the Spirit brings his comfort, encouragement, and healing help to you. As the one who inspired the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), the Spirit carries out his ministry primarily through and alongside the Word of God. He who “comprehends the thoughts of God” has revealed them in words (1 Corinthians 2:11-13). He is the Spirit of truth; that is, he will comfort you by means of applying the Scriptures to your heart (John 16:13).

As the heaven-sent Helper, the Spirit’s never-ending presence brings you comfort through God’s healing words.

Are you reading your Bible daily?

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February 14, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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37 Ways to Love One Another

A local church is not built by one man, or even a few men, but by every believer being actively involved in ministry through evangelizing the lost people in their lives and serving their fellow Christians. A quick glance at the practice of the New Testament church reveals that they thought very little about programs and very much about relationships.

Consider the disciple-making that would naturally take place in the life of a local church if every believer would practice the loving, one-another ministry that the early churches first read about in the instructions they received from the apostles:

  1. Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10).
  2. Give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10).
  3. Be of the same mind toward one another (Rom. 12:16).
  4. Accept one another by withholding judgment (Rom. 14:1).
  5. Accept one another by showing deference (Rom. 14:1–5; 15:7).
  6. Esteem [highly regard] one another in love (Rom. 14:5; Phil. 2:3).
  7. Build up one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes. 5:11).
  8. Counsel one another (Rom. 15:14).
  9. Serve one another by showing deference in matters of liberty (Gal. 5:13).
  10. Bear one another’s sin burdens (Gal. 6:2).
  11. Be gentle with one another (Eph. 4:2).
  12. Be kind to one another so as to preserve unity (Eph. 4:32).
  13. Speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:25; Col 3:9).
  14. Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).
  15. Show compassion to one another (Col. 3:12).
  16. Bear with the inherent sinfulness of one another (Col. 3:13).
  17. Forgive one another (Col. 3:13).
  18. Use Spirit-filled, Word-saturated music to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19).
  19. Comfort one another with the hope of Christ’s return (1 Thes. 4:18).
  20. Encourage one another (1 Thes. 5:11).
  21. Live in peace with one another (1 Thes. 5:13).
  22. Seek good for one another (1 Thes. 5:15).
  23. Encourage one another to forsake unbelief and hardness of heart (Heb. 3:13).
  24. Stimulate one another to spiritual growth (Heb. 10:24).
  25. Encourage one another by faithful participation in your local church (Heb. 10:25).
  26. Confess sins to one another (James 5:16).
  27. Pray for one another’s spiritual and physical healing (James 5:16).
  28. Be long-suffering and patient toward one another (1 Peter 4:8; Eph. 4:2).
  29. Be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9).
  30. Serve one another (1 Peter 4:10; Gal. 5:13).
  31. Act in humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5).
  32. Show holy affection to one another (1 Peter 5:14).
  33. Participate in the holy walk with one another (1 John 1:7).
  34. Refuse to become resentful toward one another (1 John 3:11–12).
  35. Give sacrificially to meet one another’s needs (1 John 3:16–17).
  36. Fight fear together by growing in love (1 John 4:18).
  37. Walk in truth together (1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:5).

The Christian life is all about relationships. It’s God’s design for our personal growth, which then translates into church growth—the real kind. Loving one another is a powerful evangelistic tool, as Jesus says: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

[The above list makes a great personal Bible study or the basis for small group discussion.]

Recommended Resource: Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-Personal Discipleship

**This article was originally posted August, 17, 2011.

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February 13, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Day by Day

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

God sings. He will sing over you. And when he does, “he will quiet you with his love.”

This informs us of a wonderful reality. That is, one of the ways the Spirit ministers hope and grace to us is through songs that are rich with biblical truth and imagery. This, of course, does not require that every lyric be a direct quotation from Scripture. But many times the songs which become a grace to us are rich with poetic reflections of divine truth. As we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we will teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, by “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

One of my personal favorites (and of many Christians) is the Scandinavian hymn, Day by Day. One reason this hymn brings grace in times of sorrow is that loss is the context in which it was born. Its words were penned in the birth pangs of suffering. It was written by a young Swedish woman who learned the all-important lesson of living each day with the conscious presence and strength of her Lord. Karolina Sandell, the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden,” was known for her many contributions to gospel hymnody. “Though frail in body, she had a strong spirit.” [Then Sings My Soul, p. 155] From her pen flowed approximately 650 hymns that strongly influenced waves of revival, which swept the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

At the age of twenty-six, Lina had an experience that changed her life. She was accompanying her father aboard a ship to Gothenburg, Sweden, across Lake Vattern. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father, a Lutheran minister, fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. “Returning home alone,” Robert Morgan explains, “Lina began processing her grief through the Scriptures and expressing her faith in poetry.” Although Lina had written many hymn texts prior to this tragic experience, now, more than ever, poetic lines expressing childlike trust in God flowed freely from her broken heart. Later, she wrote these comforting words:

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Day by day the Lord is faithful. Day by day the Lord is near. Day by day he gives grace for every trial. Day by day he is working all things together for your good. Day by day you can trust him. He sings over you. Let him quiet you with his love.


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February 12, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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6 Ways to Love Others in Everyday Life

“To have love as the guiding principle of our lives means that our continual mindset in all we do should be “What will serve the other person?” So writes Matt Perman in his excellent book, What’s Best Next. “It is not ‘What will serve me?’ but ‘What will serve them?’ The guiding mindset of our lives is to be: how can I do good for others? How can I benefit my neighbor?” Here are six practical pieces of counsel:

  1. Have real goodwill toward the other person. “Motives count. The essence of love is having real goodwill toward others–that is, truly wanting the best for them and delighting in it.” (Phil. 1:15-16.
  2. Put the other person first. “This means finding out what others need and making those needs your priority, not your own….Putting the interest of others first involves finding out what matter to them. It is not loving to impose our own grid onto others!” (Matt. 20:26-28; Rom. 15:1-3).
  3. Be eager in meeting the needs of others, not begrudging and reluctant. “If love is genuine concern for others, then we see that things done from love are done joyfully and eagerly, not backwardly and reluctantly.” (Titus 2:14)
  4. Be proactive, not reactive, in doing good. “Don’t simply wait for needs to come your way. The Christian ethic is to be on the lookout to identify needs proactively and then take action to meet those needs.” (Mark 12:31)
  5. Avoid a self-protective mindset and take pains to do good for others. “We are to do good even it if requires a sacrifice on our part. Radical generosity, not self-protection, is the Christian ethic (Matt. 5:42; see also the parallel in Luke 6:32-36).”
  6. Be creative and competent in doing good, not lazy and shoddy. “If we are about serving others, then we need to be competent in serving them because incompetence does not serve people. For example, if you are helping a friend remodel his kitchen, and you cut corners, will that serve him? You are making things easier for yourself at his expense; instead of going through the trouble to do it right, you are making something that will work less effectively for him down the road, transferring the burden from yourself to him (which is the opposite of Gal. 6:2).

If you like to read about work, productivity, and life mission, then I recommend you consider reading What’s Best Next. It is uniquely and thoroughly God-centered.

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February 11, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Make Charitable Judgments

If you love someone, you discipline your mind to assume the best about that person’s words or actions until you have the facts to prove otherwise. While such mental discipline may not seem to fit modern sentimental concepts of love, according to the Bible, love means sacrificing one’s own wants to meet the needs of another (John 15:12-14). The real opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness. Instead of selfishly assuming that you know everything about the thoughts and motivations behind the other person’s words or actions, in love you should selflessly assume the best interpretation of what the other person has said or done. This idea flows from Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Because you are called by God to love your fellow Christians, family members, neighbors, and even your enemies, you should assume the best of everyone.

In times of conflict, the participants’ presuppositions will become evident, for good or bad, leading to better or worse outcomes. When one person in the conversation looks at the other through sunglasses, everything will be tinted darker. Ken Sande observes, “If people sense that you have jumped to conclusions about them and enjoy finding fault with them, they are likely to resist correction. If, on the other hand, they sense that you are trying to believe the best about them, they will be more inclined to listen to your concerns.”

[Excerpted from Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love, by John Crotts.]

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February 9, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Helping Students Fail Well – “A biblical worldview proposes hardships and failures as designed instruction by which we learn about our God, ourselves, and the world in which we live.”

Economic Consequences of New York State’s Reproductive Health Act – Abortion is evil, since it destroys a divine image-bearer. But it also has dire consequences on a nation.

5 Reasons Why I Enjoy Reading Biographies – Jason K. Allen: “In the spirit of Hebrews 11, reading good biographies summons forth a veritable chorus of cheers, encouraging us to lay aside every encumbrance and sin that so easily entangles us and to run with endurance the race set before us.”

Two Lies Moms of Girls Should Stop Believing – “Your daughter does not need self-esteem. She needs God-esteem. If she understands who God is, she will understand her own value but not make too much of it.”

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February 8, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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When God’s Provision Seems Impossible

When anxiety overtakes us, we become bound up in the small stuff of life, the passing, transitory things, when we should be focused on the eternal. [In Matthew 6] Jesus is saying, “Look, God has taken care of the birds and the lilies. He has taken care of the tiny transitory parts of creation. But you’re much more valuable. You take care of his business, and don’t worry about your own.” As mentioned previously, I don’t mean that in some reckless way. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do what you need to do to take care of your family, or that you don’t need to pray, plan, or work. It just means we need to keep our priorities straight.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Hold on a minute, guys. You’ve got mixed-up priorities. You’re worried about what you’re going to eat, drink, and wear? Look, just keep following me. Let’s spread the gospel. Let’s be concerned about lost souls. Let’s expand the borders of the kingdom.” Of course there’ll be a future, earthly kingdom when Jesus returns, but in the present, he rules a spiritual kingdom in the hearts that are being changed by the gospel of God’s grace. If you give yourself to God’s business, he will meet your every need along the way. The other things “shall be added to you.” But if the lesser things become little gods, the true God is displaced, and life becomes a mess. That’s the thought here. When we hold nothing back from God, God will hold back nothing that is necessary to accomplish his will and do his work.

We see an illustration of this principle and promised provision in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. Following the Lord’s faithful care of his prophet Elijah by ravens, which daily delivered bread and meat, God directed him to go to a town named Zarephath, where he would again be fed, this time by a poor widow. When Elijah arrived, he found the widow gathering sticks at the city gate and asked her for bread and water.

So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” (1 Kings 17:12–14

The widow did as God’s prophet had directed her. She gave her last meal to him. What happened next? Her flour never ran out, and her oil flask never ran dry again. God provided for her needs. As she trusted the Lord by submitting to his messenger’s message, she experienced what would later be promised in Matthew 6:33 by Jesus. She sought first the kingdom of God, and all her needs were added unto her. So it will be for us. When you and I give God and his work the proper place in our lives, everything else will fall into its proper place.

[This post is written by Philip De Courcy, and excerpted from his new mini-book HELP! I’m Anxious]

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