Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

April 19, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Practical Advice for Family Devotions – “So, do it, keep it simple, at least initially. You can add later, but keep it simple initially and just keep doing it for 18 or 20 years and see the Lord work through the preaching of His Word and through prayer.”

Technology and Our Relationship with God – a wealth of resources from David Murray.

Intervening in Crisis Marriages – counsel from Ernie Baker

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April 18, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Smelling Salts for Weary Pastors

Yesterday, I was blessed to attend a pastor’s appreciation event hosted by the Salem Radio Network, and two of their local Cleveland stations (1220AM and 95.5FM). The keynote speaker was Philip DeCourcy, pastor of Kindred Community Church and preacher on the Know the Truth radio program.

The Scripture passage for his message of encouragement was 2 Timothy 2:8-13.

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

11 This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

Take some time to meditate upon these words of encouragement from the apostle to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus. Philip encouraged us to think upon four realities which feed our inner resolve to persevere in the ministries to which God has called us. Here are four smelling salts, truths to awaken our senses to the presence and promises of God.

  1. A Glorious Win (v. 8) – Think upon the resurrection of Christ, not only as a past event, but as a present reality.
  2. A Glorious Word (vv. 8b-9) – Think upon the unstoppable power of the gospel, which cannot be bound in chains or any human limitation.
  3. A Glorious Work (v. 10) – Think upon the guaranteed success of God’s role in evangelism. The doctrine of election does not sever the nerve of aggressive evangelism. We preach, and God saves.
  4. A Glorious Welcome (vv. 11-13) – Think upon the promise of eternal reward for faithful servants, and God’s final benediction.

Remember, the only comparison God wants us to make is to compare this temporary present world to the eternal glory that is yet to come. Any other comparison will lead to discouragement. Every servant of God will find great encouragement by having his mind and spirit awakened to the empowering realities of these truths.

If you found this helpful, you will be blessed by Philip’s newest book, which is a collection of brief, encouraging devotionals Emergency Rations: Surviving the Struggles of Life

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April 17, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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A “Ten Commandments” Prayer

Lord, please counsel us by revealing the subtle deceptions of our heart. We pray:

  1. . . . that we will have no other gods before You. That we will not dishonor Your uniqueness. That we will not put anything or anyone in Your place, nor fall prey to the schemes of the devil by replacing the ultimate priority (You) with worldly pleasures, possessions, power, or pursuits (1 Jn 2:15–17). That the use of our time and energy will reflect the Lordship of Christ and that our souls will pant and thirst for You, O God, (Ps 42:1, 2).
  2. . . . that we will not provoke Your jealousy by worshiping You through things seen, felt, or touched. That we will not dishonor Your nature as a Spirit being. That we will not get caught up in the elements of worship at the expense of the Person being worshipped. That we will worship You in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and “see” You as exalted and, therefore, get caught up in “worth-ship.” That we will not place our faith in human reason or things seen, but instead walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
  3. . . . that we will not use Your holy Name carelessly. That we will not dishonor Your character. That we will not misrepresent You by using Your Name falsely (Ps 24:3, 4), hypocritically (Titus 1:16), blasphemously (James 2:7), rashly (Eccl 5:2, 3), or irreverently (James 3:8–11), or speak of holy things flippantly. That our talk will not be dominated by meaningless, empty or idle words (Matt 12:36), but always by reverence and prudence.
  4. . . . that we will follow your creation principle of rest. That we will honor Your wisdom. That we will not allow the American “rat race” to rob us of stopping to look at the sunset (Ps 24:1). That You will help us to be diligent and faithful workers, but at the same time guard us from becoming slaves to our earthly employments (Col 3:22–24). That we will not allow busyness and worldly pleasures to destroy the immense worth and uniqueness of the Lord’s Day. That corporate worship will be more important than hunting, fishing, or football. That we will realize the most valuable family time is not spent in front of the TV, but in Your house learning Your Word (Acts 20:7).
  5. . . . that we will show reverence and respect for our earthly parents. That we will honor Your authority structures. That we will not be like the world—disobedient to parents (2 Tim 3:2), but instead will teach our children to cheerfully obey, with respect. That we will not forget our elderly parents and grandparents, but will gladly accept the role-reversal of becoming their caregivers (1 Tim 5:3, 4). That we will recognize earthly parents as gifts to be honored and treasured, but not more than Christ (Matt 10:37). That we will learn to be submissive and respectful toward the authorities You have ordained (Rom 13:1–7), while at the same time faithfully praying for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1–4).
  6. . . . that we will not hate or kill. That we will not dishonor Your gift of life or Your love. That we will not allow the sun to go down on our anger so that it becomes deep-seated hatred, resentment, or bitterness (Eph 4:26), or hate our brother or sister in the Lord and, therefore, be liars that dwell in darkness (1 Jn 2:9, 11; 3:15; 4:20). That we will love our neighbors as ourselves and be lights in a dark world by cherishing the sanctity of human life, young and old and disabled. That we will show the world that children are valuable blessings, not inconveniences or burdens, and plead with You to change the hearts of women who selfishly seek abortions, men who fearfully force them, and doctors who gladly assist them.
  7. . . . that we will not lust or commit adultery. That we will not dishonor Your gift of sexuality. That husbands will rejoice in their wives and wives rejoice in their husbands (Prov 5:18), holding the marriage covenant in the highest regard and the marriage bed undefiled (Heb 13:4). That those of us who are unmarried will find our fullest satisfaction in You by fleeing youthful lusts and pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2 Tim 2:22). That all of us would maintain purity of mind by avoiding TV programs, videos, magazines, or Internet sites that stimulate and feed the flesh (Phil 4:8). That we will pray for the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is self-control.
  8. . . . that we will not steal from You or from others. That we will not dishonor Your provision. That we will not steal from You by withholding Your tithe from our church because of unbelief or self-centered spending habits (Mal 3:8), but give motivated by grace (2 Cor 8:1-9). That we will not steal from others by taking advantage of them or being habitually late for appointments. That we will flee laziness and pursue hard work (Prov 6:6–11), and avoid all financial dealings that call integrity into question. That we will not steal from government by cheating on our taxes (Rom 13:6), or steal from our family by wasting money on foolish habits (1 Tim 5:8), or buy a lottery ticket or enter a casino (Prov 28:22). That we will learn to be good stewards of the money You have entrusted to our care, faithfully giving our first-fruits to You and wisely managing the rest (Prov 3:9-10).
  9. . . . that we will not lie against one another. That we will not dishonor Your truth. That we will not practice perjury (Prov 24:28), bribery (Prov 17:23), slander (Prov 10:18), gossip (Prov 11:13), or flattery (Psalm 12:2, 3). That we will not make false claims about ourselves or wear masks to impress or deceive others, speaking only the truth in love (Eph 4:15), and building our relationships on trustworthiness. That we will tell the whole truth and not reveal only the facts that make us look good. That we will be true friends by honoring confidences (Prov 17:9). That we will not lie in church by singing songs of worship to You from our lips and not from our hearts (Matt 15:8). That we will honor Your truth at all times by pursuing authentic Christian living.
  10. . . . that we will not crave earthly belongings. That we will not dishonor Your gifts. That we will not desire what is not rightfully ours and endeavor to acquire it, but instead treat other people’s property with respect. That our hearts will not be captivated by affection for money or this world’s goods (1 Tim 6:8–10). That we will resist the temptation to put trust in credit cards and learn to say “no” to impulse buying. That we will replace envy with gratitude and conscious thanksgiving (1 Pet 2:1), praise instead of complaint, and prayer instead of worry (Phil 4:6, 7). That we will learn to be content in any and every circumstance (Phil 4:11).

Heavenly Father, we pray this for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ. May You grant all of us the grace to be Your obedient servants! In Jesus Name, Amen.

[This article was originally posted January 4, 2012, and is excerpted from Delight in the Word: Spiritual Food for Hungry Hearts]

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April 17, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Is God Mad at Me? – “Do your kids think that God is only pleased with them if they obey? Do your kids think that the gospel means that they must be good so God will love them? Do your kids think that they must be good for you to like them, for you to love and delight in them?”

Practical Tips to Prepare for the End of Life – “As we’re coming to the end of life, it’s very important to have a time where we say, “Okay, I am dying. How should I best do that?”

The Heart of Leading Worship – a Piper sound bite

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April 16, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Who is the Factious Man of Titus 3:10?

Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned (Titus 3:10-11).

If believers, specifically church leaders (as was Titus, the original recipient), are to obey this Scripture we must understand what is meant by the word “factious.” Due to the King James Version’s rendering as “heretick,” many believers have understood this verse to apply merely to those who teach strange doctrines in the church. However, its meaning is not limited to false teaching, but includes much more.

What does hairetikos mean?

Hairetikos, from which we get the word “heretic,” is used in Titus 3:10 and refers to a self-chosen party or sect, causing division, not necessarily heretical in the sense of holding false doctrine. It refers to one who is involved in “drawing disciples after him[self]” (Linquistic Key to the Greek New Testament). Strong’s Concordance renders it “schismatic.”

Another New Testament word exposes the prideful heart behind the thoughts and actions of the schismatic. Erithia (1 Cor. 11:19; 2 Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:20; Phil. 1:17; James 3:14, 16; 2 Peter 2:21) “denotes ‘ambition, self-seeking rivalry,’ self-will being an underlying idea in the word; hence it denotes ‘party-making.’ It is derived, not from eris, “strife,” but from erithos, ‘a hireling;’ hence the meaning of ‘seeking to win followers’…the order ‘strife, jealousy, wrath, faction,’ is the same in 2 Corinthians 12:20 and Galatians 5:20. ‘Faction’ is the fruit of jealousy” (Vine’s Dictionary) and strife is often ignited by an angry person (Prov. 10:12; 15:18; 29:22; 30:33).

Therefore, though a theological heretic certainly causes division in a church, the focus of the apostle’s warning is directed at the self-willed man whose self-serving agenda causes people to choose sides. Often it’s an existing leader or a leader-wanna-be who, after entering into the life of a church, seeks to win followers, or the church bully (you can read about the first church boss in 3 John 9-11). However, note that “not self-willed” (Titus 1:7) is a qualification for spiritual leaders in the local church. Self-willed (authadns) refers to one who is obstinate in his own opinion, filled with arrogance, and refuses to listen to others. He is stubbornly resistant to correction. Elders are to shepherd the flock of God…according to the will of God not their own will (1 Peter 5:2). A spiritual overseer, therefore, must be committed to pursuing God’s will above his own agenda. A factious man is unwilling to do what the Word of God requires in order to resolve conflicts he is involved in and, therefore, deepens divisions (factions) in the church.

The biblical response to the factious man is clearly stated.

Titus 3:10-11 is strongly stated. “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.” As is Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” Because of potential harm to the sheep, church shepherds must take swift and firm action with factious men (who are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing), thus escalating action beyond the slower, more methodical process outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 for other sins. Not surprisingly, no one in the church is more likely to shout “Foul!” while accusing leaders of violating Matthew 18 than the factious man whose power of influence lingers on while church leaders are intimidated and their rightful action stalled.

God hates divisive people.

It is important we not simply recognize that God hates divisions among His people. Although that is certainly true; it does not go far enough. Included in the list of abominations to God is the “one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:19). Clearly, God not only hates division among His people, but He hates the divisive person. God despises the man (or woman) who disturbs the peace in a local church and destroys it. That’s pretty strong! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:17).

Therefore, let us each diligently seek to guard and “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

[This post was originally published September 7, 2011.]

Recommended mini-book: HELP! I’m In a Conflict.]

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April 16, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep – “Details aside, one thing’s for sure: When you don’t sleep, your body revolts.”

The Power of Our Criticism – “When we criticize our brothers and sisters in Christ under the guise of insight, we pollute the Church.”

Facial recognition tech picks a suspect out of a crowd of 50,000 in China – The Person of Interest TV series was not science fiction.

How to Turn Weeping into Witnessing – The stages of grief, as seen in Psalm 130.

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April 13, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on After an Affair: Rebuilding Trust

After an Affair: Rebuilding Trust

After an Affair is a new book about rebuilding trust, then rebuilding and maintaining a marriage devastated by adultery. Cheating on a spouse and lying to cover it up naturally breeds distrust and suspicion. A couple can, however, rebuild trust. The speed and degree of recovery are greatly affected by the actions of the spouse who cheated. Practical strategies rooted in biblical theology will help those who have cheated and who are serious about rebuilding trust and healing their marital relationships. Rebuilding begins with repentance and forgiveness and the rapidity of recovery is proportional to the thoroughness of each.

This little book is written by Dr. Howard Eyrich, whose pastoral and counseling ministry has spanned more than sixty years.

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April 13, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

The Heartbeat of My Social Media Addiction – “I sat down for my morning devotions with the Lord, opened my Bible, and immediately heard a ding on my phone alerting me that I had received an email. My mind began the well-rehearsed inner dialogue that goes on whenever my prayers or Bible reading is interrupted by social media.”

Nine Traits of Church Bullies – “Church bullying is epidemic in many of our congregations. They must be stopped.”

 

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April 12, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Joel Beeke: Take Hold of Yourself and God in Prayer

Joel Beeke: Take Hold of Yourself and God in Prayer

Yesterday, I was blessed and convicted by a message Joel Beeke preached at the Desiring God 2011 Conference for Pastors. As Beeke reflected upon the prayer lives of the Puritans, he expounded on seven principles for private prayer.

TAKE HOLD OF YOURSELF

  • Remember the Value of Prayer.
  • Maintain the Priority of Prayer.
  • Prayer With Sincerity.
  • Cultivate a Continual Spirit of Prayer.
  • Work Toward Organization in Intercessory Prayer.
  • Read the Bible for Prayer. 
  • Keep Biblical Balance in Your Prayers. 

Beeke then wraps up his message by expounding on three principles for taking hold of God in prayer.

TAKE HOLD OF GOD

  • Plead God’s Promises in Prayer
  • Cling to this Glorious Trinity in Prayer
  • Believe that God answers prayer.

I encourage you to listen to this message.

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April 11, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 3 Disastrous Dating Mistakes: Learning from Samson’s Bad Example

3 Disastrous Dating Mistakes: Learning from Samson’s Bad Example

One way of learning how to do something is by watching someone else do it poorly. When I swam in triathlons, I had a friend who worked out in the same pool. In his freestyle stroke, he had a habit of putting his hand in the water too far toward the centerline of his body, turning his body slightly sideways. Therefore, instead of gliding through the water, he snow-plowed the water in front of him. I learned a lot by watching him: I learned how not to swim. His mistake helped me correct a similar error in my own stroke.

Perhaps we can use that same approach as we consider how Samson went about finding a wife. I once heard a dating talk entitled “the dos and don’ts of Dating.” Unfortunately, in chapters 14–16 of the book of Judges, we find only the don’ts of dating. There are no dos in Samson’s story. He did everything wrongly.

…then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. so he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” (Judges 14:1–2)

3 DON’Ts OF DATING

Samson had seen girls before, but this one was a real knockout. So much so, he immediately decided he wanted to marry her. What’s wrong with that? Boy meets girl. Boy flips his lid. Boy asks girl to marry him. Love at first sight … how romantic! What was wrong with Samson’s approach to dating? Everything. Specifically, he made three disastrous mistakes.

  • Don’t #1 – Samson was visiting Timnah and saw “one of the daughters of the Philistines.” What was the problem with that? Just this: Israel had been commanded by God not to marry the daughters of the idolatrous, demon-worshipping peoples around them (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). It was a wise command. God didn’t want his people being led astray by the idol worship and occult practices of the Canaanites, the Philistines, and others. In other words, Samson had no business going to Timnah with a roving eye. Every girl there was off-limits. Unfortunately, Samson never learned his lesson. If it wasn’t a sweetheart in Timnah, it was a prostitute in Gaza (Judges 16:1), and when he grew tired of her, he pursued yet another Philistine lover, the delectable Delilah (16:4). The land of the Philistines was the home of a wicked and immoral people, and every time Samson went there, his lust pulled him into another disastrous relationship.
  • Don’t #2 – Besides looking for love in all the wrong places, Samson had another major problem in his approach to dating. How did Samson determine that a girl would be a good partner? “I saw a woman in Timnah” (Judges 14:2, emphasis added). Samson’s measure of a woman was her profile. Always the human hormone, Samson thought only of sex appeal when he searched for a wife. Her faith and her character were inconsequential. If the curve of her face and the cut of her hair were right, then it was full steam ahead.
  • Don’t #3Scripture continues…then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me” (Judges 14:3). Proverbs says, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). Certainly that was true of Samson. His parents tried to warn him. They strongly encouraged him to reconsider his course of action. Samson’s response? “Dad, Mom, you’re idiots. I know better than you do.” Blinded by infatuation, Samson rejected his parents’ counsel. In so doing, he steamrolled right over one of god’s most important lines of defense protecting us against foolish decisions.

PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION

You probably know the rest of the story. Before the wedding feast was over, Samson’s beautiful bride had manipulated and betrayed him. She nagged and whined out of him the answer to the riddle he had invented to stump her wedding guests (Judges 14:16–17). Samson left the wedding in a fury and stormed out of town. Eventually, after several bouts of revenge and counter-revenge between Samson and his wife’s friends, Judges 15:8 tells us that Samson ended up living in a cave like an outlaw.

His self-styled approach to dating didn’t bring him the happiness and pleasure he thought it would. It brought only manipulation, distrust, faithlessness, in-law squabbles, anger, vengeance, and loneliness. Samson was forever putting himself in situations where he could become emotionally and physically involved with an unbeliever. And, inevitably, he did. He also measured a prospective companion only by her physical attractiveness rather than by her love for God. And when his parents tried to shine the light of wisdom on his bad decision, he turned a blind eye to their counsel. Those are three classic blunders, and Samson made them all.

[This blog post is excerpted from HELP! I’m Confused about Dating a mini-book by Joel James, a pastor in South Africa.]

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