Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

March 22, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Your Church and the Hood of a Sports Car

Reflecting on Jesus’s commendation and rebuke of the loveless church at Ephesus, in Revelation 2:1-7, John Crotts gently admonishes all of us in his little book, Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love.

Churches are the Lord’s lights shining out in the dark world. Jesus is saying it would be better to have no church in the massive, thriving city of Ephesus than to have an unloving church, even if it preaches the truth and opposes people who oppose the truth. Being gracious in the way we speak truth to others forms a vital part of what Jesus requires from His people. We might think Jesus would be accommodating to a church committed to so many right things. He is not. He says that He is going to personally come and snuff out their candle. Their church would be eliminated; it would not shine out in Ephesus any longer. Speaking God’s truth in a loving and gracious way is that important.

A beautiful new sports car parked in front of a crowded restaurant grabs the attention of many people who eat there or walk anywhere close to it. Silent admiration and longings bubble up into all kinds of excited exclamations. Many spectators would be tempted to compare the beautiful machine before them to their adequate but less impressive vehicle. But what if the hood of the sports car suddenly opened up to reveal an empty shell? The engine and everything else are completely absent. After the initial surprise wears off, spectators might make a different comparison between the sports car that cannot move without a tow truck and their own vehicles, but this time with completely different results. Without the guts of the sports car, it cannot even be called a car. In the same way, a church may look like a church on the surface, even being passionately committed to God’s truth, but if it has no love for people, it cannot rightly be called a church. The Lord Jesus said love is such a vital part of a church that He would eliminate such loveless churches from existence if they do not repent.

These are sobering thoughts for each of us to ponder. Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  • Is my love for others in balanced proportion to my passion for biblical truth?
  • Is the exterior of my Christian life in order, while my life “under the hood” is empty and powerless?
  • Is my local church family growing in love because I am part of it?
  • Is my heart humble and willing to grow in love, while at the same time not compromise true doctrine?
  • If Jesus were to visit my church, would He rebuke me and others for lovelessness?
  • Or would Jesus commend us for having the kind of love that shows the power and hope of the gospel, and is a witness of God’s grace?

Remember what Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

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March 21, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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The Power of Counting It All Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Joy is a state of mind, not a feeling. Joy is peaceful confidence in knowing God’s good and perfect will is being carried out as the result of your suffering. This can be hard to accept, I know from experience. But listen to what James, the half-brother of Jesus teaches.

Trials produce steadfastness (endurance), which, in turn, produces spiritual strength and growth. God’s desire for his children is that they become “perfect and complete,” words which refer to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. For this reason, you can experience joy in the midst of trials, even alongside your grief, when you count these promises to be true as you walk through your valley of suffering.

Now, to “count it all joy” does not refer to being happy about the trial itself. Nor does it withdraw your permission to grieve. James is not saying, “No matter how painful your loss is, you need to just put on a happy face. Pretend, if you have to. Don’t let anyone see how much you are hurting.” No. True joy is not a spiritual facade. What, then, does James mean?

“Count it all joy” is a divine command which calls for a certain attitude of mind. In other words, it is a Christian duty to pursue joy “when you meet trials of various kinds.” Everyone understands having joy when a trial is over, but that’s not what is on James’s mind. It is while you suffer that you must choose the path of joy.

James is not encouraging you to deny the reality of your sorrow. Trials are hard. Loss hurts. Life is sometimes very painful. But the “testing of your faith” is designed for your growth, not for your failure, in order to produce endurance. Steadfastness is a compound word meaning to stay, abide, or remain. It pictures someone carrying a heavy load for a long time. But endurance (as virtuous as it is) is not even God’s ultimate goal. His bigger purpose is that this steadfastness will have “its full effect” by moving you toward completion, maturity in Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

When, by God’s grace, you joyfully consider his larger purpose to conform you to be more like Jesus, the Holy Spirit develops the inner strength of your faith. On the other side of your pain, then, you will be able to say with humble confidence, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10).

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March 21, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

How Not to Help a Sufferer – “The problem with Job’s comforters isn’t that they’re heretics. Much of what they say is true. The problem is the moralistic worldview that governs their engagement with Job, and compels them to reason backward from suffering to sin.”

Untangling Emotions – I’m looking forward to reading this new book from Alisdair Groves.

Legal Issues and Abuse – An important Truth in Love podcast with Attorney Deborah Dewart.

Too Much Skin, Girl–Too Much Skin – “Dear Christians, I urge you to give biblical reflection on how you dress. Whether male or female, it is our Christian duty to point others to Christ, not to ourselves.”

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March 20, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Speak Healing Words to those Who Are Depressed

Proverbs 12:25 is remarkable in its simplicity and, yet, its depth of wisdom. It reads, Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Not only does the wise counselor, Solomon, teach body/soul connection, but he makes an extraordinary observation about the power of good words to minister healing grace to the burdened heart. How often do our sad friends need words of encouragement? How often could words of grace be part of God’s remedy, a necessary ingredient in the restoration of another person’s joy?

John Kitchen’s explanation of this verse so helpful, encouraging to my own heart, and challenging to my personal growth as one who longs to be more faithful in speaking both grace and truth at the same time. Kitchen writes,

The proverb gives remarkable insight into the psychology of depression. The word translated ‘weighs it down’ probably carries the idea of being depressed (cf. NKJV). That which produces the depression is anxiety. The anxiety spoken of is worry mingled with fear. For example, the word is used to describe the fear of the tribes of Israel which settled on the east of Jordan. They feared that, when cut off from the tabernacle and its sacrifices, their children would forget the Lord. For this reason, out of their anxiety, they set up an alternative altar (Josh. 22:24); cf. Jer. 49:23; Ezek. 4:16; 12:18-19). Under the weight of some anticipated calamity, the heart can begin to be bowed down, the thoughts can be consumed, and perspective can be lost. ‘A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken’ (Prov. 15:13). ‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones’ (Prov. 17:22).

The remedy is ‘a good word’ from a supportive friend. The word is ‘good’ in that it is timely, measured according to the need of the moment and confers grace (Eph. 4:29). Such a word brings ‘hope.’ The anticipated tragedy is not perceived to be as likely. The character of God comes again into view and, with it, other more pleasant possibilities. ‘A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!’ (Prov. 15:23)…‘the tongue of the wise brings healing’ (Prov. 12:18b).[1]

As we fill our minds with the hope-empowering truth of Scripture, our mouths will be more readily used by God to bring words of healing hope to those whose spirit is broken.

[This article was originally posted September 8, 2016 as “Proverbs 12:25, Anxiety and Depression, and Healing Speech.”]

[1] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (Fearn: Christian Focus Publications, 2006), 276.

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March 20, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

How to Recover from Financial Infidelity – A poll found that 2 in 5 Americans admit to lying about or withholding money information from their partner. Another reports that 15 million people have admitted to hiding financial information from their spouse, and 9 million used to but don’t anymore.

Pastor, Be What You Want to See – Jared Wilson gives pastors a gentle challenge.

How Parents Are Robbing Their Kids of Adulthood – Snowplow parents have it backward, Ms. Lythcott-Haims said: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.”

Real Men Hear God’s Call – I’ve been enjoying David Murray’s series of short videos for the Christian Man Academy. Here’s the latest.

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March 19, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Grieve and Worship

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21)

Grief can lead to worship. At least it should. If grief provokes our sinful flesh to focus exclusively on our loss, we might be tempted to try to go it alone—even without help from God. But when grief is embraced by faith it results in the humility of worship.

Worship can and should coexist alongside grief. In fact, grief that does not worship will eventually become self-destructive.

From a human perspective, it might seem that the man named Job had every right to be angry at God. After all, he and his wife had lost every earthly belonging and all ten of their children. The inner pain must have been indescribable. Surely there are no words to adequately describe how much he and his wife hurt. At one point Job wondered if it would have been better to never have been born, carried “from the womb to the grave” (Job 10:19). Yet, instead of turning away from God in anger, Job turned toward God in brokenness and humble worship. You need to do the same.

If your loss is raw, and your wound has not yet scabbed over, worship might be very simple and emotional. Job’s worship was both. He “tore his robe” (a sign of deep, inner pain), “shaved his head” (an outward mark of grief), and “fell on the ground” in worship. We don’t know for sure if Job spoke immediately. Perhaps he wept in silence…at first…not knowing what to say.

But when his grief found its voice it humbly acknowledged the lordship of God over every personal loss. In his heart, Job knew that it was the Lord who had originally given him his real estate, wealth, and children. Lord is from the Hebrew “Adonai,” the name which speaks of God’s ownership, rule, and authority over every part of his creation. Job bowed his heart and head before Adonai. This is significant.

Job’s faith rested in the One who gave, but also possessed authority to take away. Therefore, when all was said and done, there was only one thing left for Job to say: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Can you do the same? From your heart?

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March 18, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Overcoming Depression – WORKBOOK

The response to the eBook, Overcoming Depression: Help for Christians Who Struggle was so encouraging, I decided to create an expanded version designed to be used as a workbook for counseling as well as personal/small group study.

In 2015, around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15-44. Globally, it is estimated that 300 million struggle with depression.

When depression comes where can you turn?

It may surprise you to know that spiritual men and women have wrestled with depression throughout the history of the world. One such person is David, the king of Israel, the man who wrote the greatest poem exalting the beauty and value of Scripture. In Psalm 119, we read an autobiographical snippet of his battle with depression, and how he worked through it with God’s help.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1. Depression Defined
Chapter 2. Working through Depression
Chapter 3. Seven Ways to Fight Depression
Appendix A: 40 Questions About Depression
Appendix B: When Christians Despair
Appendix C: More Scriptures to Study

Get the paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

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March 15, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Five Indicators of a Healthy and Transforming Soul Care Ministry – “No church is perfect, and this is a long road. A healthy soul care ministry takes time and energy. It is okay to have a lot of room to grow, but take time to assess if your church is on the path to a biblical and thriving counseling ministry.”

690 Biblical Counseling Resources for Your Life and Ministry – Bob Kellemen has just released his annual collection of resources. At $5, this is a steal.

The Danger of YouTube Kids – A warning from WORLD Radio.

Don’t Waste Your Worship – “After preaching through the book of Exodus over the last 3 years, it has become evident to me that God cares about worship.”

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March 14, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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How the Gospel Transforms Disability: 1-Day Conference in Torrance, CA

So many of us know all too well the challenging realities of disability, but God desires that we also know the incredible hope that he promises in the midst of disability. Over the course of this 1-day conference, we’ll explore the beauty of God’s plan within disability and the incredible ways the Gospel transforms it.

I am privileged to be one of five speakers at this event hosted by Lighthouse Community Church in Torrance, CA. The theme is Indispensable—How the Gospel Transforms Disability.

Whether you are directly affected by disability, have a heart for those with disability, work with disability professionally, or just want to learn how to better love those affected by disability, we think this conference will be a blessing to you!

WHEN? – May 18, 2019 from 9:00AM – 3:00PM

COST? – $20 regular registration

To learn more, and to register, click here.

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March 14, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Overcoming Depression: Help for Christians who Struggle

Overcoming Depression: Help for Christians who Struggle

Depression can be debilitating. Chances are very good that you already know this, personally, or know someone who struggles. Serious depression is a crippling state which may leave you unable to function normally and, sometimes, not even caring that it is so. You may feel sad. You may feel angry. You may not feel at all. You may simply be numb.

When this happens, where can you turn?

It may surprise you to know that spiritual men and women have wrestled with depression throughout the history of the world. One such person is David, the king of Israel, the man who wrote the greatest poem exalting the beauty and value of Scripture. In Psalm 119, we read an autobiographical snippet of his battle with depression, and how he worked through it with God’s help.

This study guide is also a workbook, thus making it profitable for personal use, small group study, and as counseling homework.

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