Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

August 3, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

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

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

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

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

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

Description

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

Endorsements

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

Check out God’s Mercy in Our Suffering.

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August 1, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Four MORE Character Traits that Will Hold Any Marriage Together

Marriage is hard enough without the pressures that particular forms of suffering, such as disability, bring to it. But there are character qualities which flow from genuine saving faith and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that will keep even the most challenged marriage together.

In addition to the four character traits we thought about in yesterday’s post, Ernie Baker expounds on four more Christ-like demonstrations of true saving faith.

Patience

Next, Paul urges his readers to be long-suffering with each other. It should take a lot for them to get angry. Peter says that, “God’s patience waited” in the time of Noah (1 Peter 3:20). Being short-tempered, impatient, and irritable sets up a fear-filled atmosphere. If you are like that, it is not safe for others to talk to you. Often, they will withdraw through self-protection. It is impossible to have a healthy home that is withstanding the pressures of disability if those are the attitudes and actions being displayed. What can you do so that this changes?

Bearing with One Another

I am so thankful that the Lord puts up with me! He bears with us all in the midst of our weakness. The opposite attitude to this is seen in many of the things we have noted above. On what issue(s) do you need to show more tolerance to your family members, whether or not they have a disability, bearing in mind the struggles they are also experiencing?

Forgiveness

This forgiveness is unconditional, undeserved, abundant grace such as we have received from the Lord. Forgiveness should flow like a gushing river out of our relationship with Christ, given how much he has forgiven us. The opposite of an attitude of forgiveness is toxic for relationships. Being resentful, dwelling on the offenses of others, and wishing them harm destroys closeness. The command here is explicit. If you have any complaint, forgive, even though the person has not earned it. Just as you received undeserved favor, so grant it now to others. You may say, “But you don’t know the extent of the offense,” “I just can’t let it go and give forgiveness,” or, “That’s not fair.” When my soul whispers (or yells!) these things to me, I reflect on the following:

  • I remember how much I have sinned against God (see also Matthew 18:21–35). I have probably committed the same offense against the Lord of the universe. If he can forgive me in Christ, I can forgive others in Christ.
  • God keeps the record books and is a God of justice. He, the Judge of the universe, will make all things right. No one is going to get away with anything unless they repent. I must let the all-wise God handle the offense so my soul can be relieved of the burden.

How about making a decision right now, based upon how much you have been forgiven, to forgive your spouse for whatever way you believe you have been sinned against?

Above All, Love

Christian love for one another flows right out of relationship with Christ. It is a sacrificial love that seeks to put the needs of others first (see Philippians 2:3–5). In fact, Paul claims that this one character trait will hold everything together (Colossians 3:14). The opposite of this love is so destructive to relationships! Self-centeredness that is motivated by self-protection and putting your own needs first causes harm. Is there something you could do, related to the care of your child or spouse, that would demonstrate this type of love?

These eight character traits, from the right motives and from the right source (Christ), will hold any marriage together. Jesus can make a difference, but you must surrender your life, your situation, and your marriage to him!

[Excerpted from HELP! Disability Pressures Our Marriage by Ernie Baker.]

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July 31, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Four Character Traits that Will Hold Any Marriage Together

“When I engage in marriage counseling,” writes Ernie Baker, “I often say to the couple, ‘Good marriages do not just happen, they are made to happen.’ In other words, relationships require investment. What qualities should you invest in to make your relationship beautiful? We find the answer in Colossians 3:12–14:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Here the apostle exhorts us to put our faith into action by “putting on” eight Christlike character traits which should govern our relationship with one another, even when that relationship is under intense pressure. [We will consider the first four today and the next four tomorrow.]

Compassion

Paul tells us that we need to be tenderhearted toward one another, just as God has been toward us. Matthew uses this word “compassion” to describe Jesus’s response to the crowds: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus was deeply moved by the needs of the people in a distressing situation. Are you compassionate toward your spouse? Or is the opposite true? The opposite of compassion is hardness, maybe showing condemnation instead of mercy, or being aloof, uncaring, rather than merciful. Do you see what this might do to your relationship? The situation you find yourselves in is already hard enough; do not make it worse by withdrawing from your spouse and becoming hardened toward him or her. It often helps me to be tender toward others if I ask myself how I would like to be treated if I were in a similar situation (see Matthew 7:12).

Kindness

Next, Paul presents kindness, and this is how God relates to us in salvation. We deserved wrath for our sin, but he was kind instead. Paul elsewhere talks of “the immeasurable riches of [God’s] grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). The opposite of kindness is harshness, maybe even meanness. What would you say is the climate of your home—kindness or harshness? If it is harshness, what is your responsibility in changing it? On the other hand, what could you do to show kindness?

Humility

Our Lord was lowly of mind. Instead of standing up for his rights, he was willing to be humbled. This word “humility,” however, captures more than humble actions; it is a disposition of putting others first. In Philippians 2, Paul describes Jesus’s humility beautifully: Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant . . .(2:6–7)

In the verse directly before this, Paul instructs us to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (2:5). These characteristics define the spirit of a home. Will you be someone who stands up for his or her rights, or are you willing to put yourself second? If you are willing, because of your relationship with the Lord, to be a compassionate, kind, servant, your marriage will be more stable because of you. Consider this: it is hard to fight with this type of person! Is there a difficult task related to the care of your child or family member that you could carry out to show your desire to follow the Lord’s example of humble servanthood?

Gentleness

The original word in Greek that Paul uses here is sometimes translated “meekness” and is another characteristic of Jesus. The God of the universe was meek and gentle: what an amazing thought! Paul underlines this in 2 Corinthians 10:1 when he entreats his readers “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” The opposite of this beautiful character trait is an aggressive, domineering loudness that suppresses others, or unbridled strength. Are there ways this is coming out in your home? Consider this: When are you most tempted toward lack of gentleness? What could you do to respond differently?

Tomorrow, we will consider four more character traits.

[Excerpted from HELP! Disability Pressures Our Marriage by Ernie Baker.]

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July 26, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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5 Types of Gossiping People

“Every small bit of sinful gossip in daily life is an evil echo of what went wrong at the very beginning. In fact, gossip is the same ugly sin played out again and again. Gossip is believing the ancient lie that we can attempt to play God by destroying others with the power of our words. Gossip is not just breaking a rule; it is perversely living out Satan’s lies, which we would rather believe than the truth. And, therefore, we are attracted to the wrong stories.” As we return to our interaction with Matt Mitchell’s book, Resisting Gossip, these words summarize his answer to the question, “Why do we gossip?”

Part One of the book concludes with a chapter entitled, “A Gallery of Gossips.” Here the author defines the five different ways we gossip; that is, the types of gossiping people we may be or meet in daily life.

#1: The Spy – In Proverbs 11:13, the Hebrew word translated “gossip” means “‘a peddler (of secrets), a huckster/hawker, deceiver, or spy.’ The English Standard Version uses the phrase ‘whoever goes about slandering’….We might use the word ‘informer’….Spies know how to wheedle a story out of us.”

#2: The Grumbler – Another Hebrew word commonly translated “gossip” refers to a whisperer. The Hebrew dictionaries say that this “is one who is ‘murmuring about another person behind their back rather than openly complaining about their behavior.’”

#3: The Backstabber – “Backstabbing gossip overflows from a heart bent on revenge, retaliation and real malice. The backstabber actually desires the target of his gossip to experience pain. The backstabber usually begins by spreading lies, starting what we call a ‘smear campaign.’ Absalom was a backstabber.”

#4: The Chameleon – “A chameleon is a person who goes along with gossip to try to fit into the crowd….Fear, not anger, is the main motivation for a chameleon’s gossip. A chameleon is afraid of what her peers will think, say or do if she does not produce gossip on demand. She is usually afraid of being excluded.” The fear of man keeps her in this prison (Prov. 29:25).

#5: The Busybody – “The busybody is a person who is idle, not engaged in purposeful business and wants to be entertained. He gossips for titillation and for the purpose of living vicariously through the stories of others. A busybody enjoys meddling in other people’s business” (like the idle men described and rebuked in 2 Thess. 3:11).

Much fuller descriptions are given of these five kinds of gossips, heart diagnoses of what drives each, and biblical remedies. As we continue to work through Resisting Gossip, please consider reading and growing along with us.

[This article was originally posted May 27, 2017.]

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July 25, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

100 Questions to Fuel Mentoring Relationships – “If an older woman is to teach a younger woman, she must feel equipped for the task. If a younger woman is to learn from an older woman, she must know what to observe, remember, and implement in her daily life.” Here’s a great list of questions to stimulate conversation.

Questioning Faith After Purity Culture: In Conversation with Josh Harris – Last year, when Josh Harris revealed he was backing away from his legalistic, courtship-only formula for godliness, I was encouraged. But this further revelation saddens me so deeply. I cannot help but believe that 1 Timothy 3:6 was violated, and great harm took place when Harris was lifted up by the church as a relationship guru, while single and at the tender age of 21.

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July 20, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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How Grace Should Impact Life in the Local Church

The grace of God that is brought to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ transforms us from the inside out, making us like Christ. Though conversion is a one-time event, life transformation (or sanctification) is a process that continues for a lifetime. That is the apostle’s focus in this part of the book of Titus. We saw this last week in Titus 2:11-14.

However, we often mistakenly think of transforming grace as being for us as individual believers only. But the point Paul now makes in verses 2:15-3:7 is that grace is meant to also transform our local congregations. Therefore, we find three more expectations, which impact our life corporately, as a family, as the body of Christ in a particular local church.

Respond to God’s leadership arrangement (2:15). God has delegated authority to church shepherds to carry out their responsibility of leading God’s sheep in the path of obedience. This is the purpose of their authority. Church elders are not to lord over the sheep, but shepherd them with grace. This does not mean, of course, they are to let unruly sheep walk all over them, or fearfully back down from wolves, since that would run contrary to their calling as guardians of the flock.

Recognize evidences of grace (3:1-3). Paul identifies three ongoing evidences that the grace of God is at work in a person’s heart and life: submissiveness, kindness, and humility.

Remember God’s kindness to you (vv. 4-7). Remember how gracious God has been to you. This will train you to be gracious toward one another in the local church.

Have you been radically changed by the gospel of grace? If so, then let me ask you another question: Is your understanding of grace impacting the way you relate to others in the church? Is grace evident in the way you think of others, the way you speak to them or about them? When we are gripped by the grace of God, it will radically impact life in the church.

Watch, or listen to, the sermon.

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July 20, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

5 Encouragements for Pastors Intimidated by Biblical Counseling – When it comes to people who are really suffering, many pastors are tempted to feel overwhelmed and under-qualified. If that’s you, pastor, here five things to remember.

Real Men Obey Lawful Authority – Obedience to lawful authority is a basic foundation of a godly life. So, what are the lawful authorities in our lives? And what are the limits of our obedience to them? 

5 Ways to Protect Your Eldership from “Yes Men” – The two questions I wanted to answer were: 1) Are our elders “yes men?” and 2) If not, what is the culture that we have established to protect ourselves from this becoming the case?

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July 15, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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“Transformed Into His Image” Seminar in Cleveland, Ohio

Do you desire to become more like Jesus? Do you sometimes wonder if it’s possible to change your attitudes or actions to more consistently represent Him? Would you like to learn how to help other believers who are struggling in their walk with the Lord?

Then I’d like to inform you about a Saturday seminar being hosted by our church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

This free 3-hour seminar will provide a clear explanation from Scripture of how God has designed personal transformation to take place in our lives. You will learn the key to human behavior and personal change, to get to the heart of what needs to take place to cultivate genuine growth and lasting change.

Register for this free seminar here.

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July 13, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

New Car Before Baby? – Never buy a new car based on emotional reasons!

Don’t Play with Sin – What we once played with can now kill us.

20 Things to Know about the Construct of ADHD – ADHD points to a perceived problem with a child. The most vital determination is not the observed behavior, but the presupposition you will use to bring clarity and a solution to what you’re seeing in the individual.

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