Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

July 24, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on God’s Way to Success

God’s Way to Success

The Bible is an intimidating book. Let’s not deny it. But it’s also a simple book—a book we receive by faith, and act upon in obedience. In his book entitled The Good Book, Deron Spoo says it this way,

The Bible is like the ocean…[it] is so deep in places that no person, however capable a swimmer, could survive its extremities. But at the same time, when the ocean touches the land, the water is so shallow and the ways lapping the beach are so gentle that even a toddler can safely play there. Anyone who has visited the beach has seen firsthand that the ocean is both intimidating and approachable.

The same is true of the Bible. Like the ocean, its depths can never be fathomed. Even after a lifetime of study, the most brilliant theologians admit they’ve only begun to plumb its depths. Centuries of Christian scholarship haven’t been able to chart its vast expanse. The Bible can be intimidating and yet approachable at the same time. Anyone can pick up a Bible and encounter simple truths that are nothing short of life changing. (The Good Book, pp. 16-17)

FOUR ACTION STEPS

God wants you to experience spiritual victory, but you must act upon biblical truth. Therefore, from last Sunday’s sermon, here are four action steps that you must take if you are going to victoriously walk by faith.

  1. Remember God’s promises and presence (vv. 1-5).
  2. Resolve to treasure God’s Word and obey it (vv. 6-9).
  3. Respond in faith toward God and humility toward leaders (vv. 10-18).
  4. Recognize you are part of the bigger story of redemption (24:1-13).

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are a spiritual child of Abraham. Therefore, you need to recognize that you are part of A BIGGER STORY. When God set His plan of redemption in motion, when He told Abraham to look at the stars and try to count the number of his spiritual children, God had you in mind. If you know Christ, then not only is your own redemption part of His plan, but God wants to use you to help carry out His plan to redeem some from every nation, tribe, and tongue.

JEHOVAH IS THE SAVIOR

Joshua’s name means Jehovah is the Savior. The New Testament equivalent of the name Joshua is Jesus. How fitting is that? It’s interesting to note that the book of Joshua opens and closes the same way—with a funeral. The death of Moses at the beginning, and the death of Joshua at the end. This reminds us that the sting of death is sin. But God has a redemptive plan. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death, and brings us victory. And one day, when He comes again, death will be abolished forever. Let us look to Jesus.

[You may listen to the sermon here.]

Print this entry

July 20, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Heart of a Truly Effective Leader

The Heart of a Truly Effective Leader

The past couple weeks, our pastoral staff read through Jerry Wragg’s book on leadership with our two interns. Having previously read through Jerry’s book when it first came out in 2010, this was my second read-through. It remains among my Top 5 books on spiritual leadership. In the Introduction, the author calls us to a heart of faithfulness.

Godly, faithful leaders are men of strong conviction and noble character, virtues intensely pursued and steadily cultivated. They are men who understand that spiritual influence ultimately comes from God alone, and that nothing of eternal value can be accomplished without his favor. They understand that business trends and pop-cultural opinions come and go, but the heart of a truly effective leader is uncompromising and unwavering in his spiritual life. We desperately need exemplary leaders who won’t flinch when tempted by the lure of power and praise. We need men who refuse to capitulate to every fad and fashionable leadership technique our culture offers up. Fathers must train their sons, pastors must train their flocks, and leaders must pass the baton to faithful disciples ‘who will be able to teach others also’ (2 Tim. 2:2). Where such essentials are grossly neglected, families and churches spiral downward, leaving future generations starving for the truth without hope….I’m convinced that at the heart of an ability to influence others is a compelling life of fearless conviction and a transcendent, divine message. A man who lives in the fear of God and boldly speaks the truth to the world is the kind of leader God promises to bless (Isa. 66:2).

[I’m thrilled to inform you that Jerry’s book is back in print. The revised and expanded edition, which includes a study guide, is now published by Kress Biblical Resources.]

Print this entry

July 19, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on God’s Backhoe

God’s Backhoe

“Delaying the fulfillment of our dreams seems to be part of refining and rescuing ambition,” writes Dave Harvey in Rescuing Ambition, which I finished reading while on vacation last week. It’s a really helpful book about the lost virtue of godly ambition and its contrast with sinful self-ambition. In one chapter, Harvey talks about how God uses times of waiting to refine our ambitions for His glory. He writes,

Wait isn’t a popular word. We like it about as much as a toddler does. But waiting is a tool God often uses. Scripture is full of waiting—we’re taught to wait for God to act (Ps. 25:3; 27:14; 37:7; 130:5; Isa. 49:23; Hos. 12:6), to wait for our adoptions as sons (Rom. 8:23), to wait for the return of the Lord and his righteousness (1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Titus 2:13).” He then concludes, “Waiting is God’s backhoe in the excavation of our ambitions. Waiting unearths and brings to the surface what we really want.”

3 WAYS WAITING SERVES US

Waiting purifies our ambitions. “Reach your hand into the river and grab a handful of rocks. You can tell the ones that have been recently deposited and those that have been there for a long time, waiting. The new arrivals are rough with edges and sharp points. The other rocks are smooth; time and water have worn away their rough exterior, revealing a polished, beautiful stone. For us, waiting has the same effect. God purifies our ambitions by delaying their fulfillment. An ambition with a waiting sign is an ambition being smoothed in a riverbed of God’s activity.”

Waiting cultivates patience. “Impatience deletes God’s schedule and replaces it with our own. It perverts ambition into demands. But God has a rescue plan for us. It’s called waiting.”

Waiting redefines our definition of productivity. “We live in a world where time is money, so speed is essential. We define our success by how ‘productive’ we are, and productivity is wrapped up in activity….God defines productivity differently. For God, productivity is wrapped up in transformation, in who we’re becoming, not in what we’re accomplishing.”

Dave Harvey’s Rescuing Ambition is a unique book, as it addresses a neglected topic and does so in a well-balanced manner. I recommend it.

Print this entry

July 18, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Are You Thriving or Diving?

Are You Thriving or Diving?

We all go through times of trial. We are all tossed here and there by the storms of life. But how do we ride through the storms without sinking or drowning? Psalm 46 directs us to shift our focus from our troubles to the faithful care of God.

Last Sunday, our associate pastor Ed Fedor preached an encouraging sermon from this famous psalm. His main point was this: Where you fix your gaze in times of trouble determines whether you will thrive or dive.

Looking DOWN Results in…

  • Vulnerability (v. 1)
  • Weakness (v. 1)
  • Fear (v. 2)
  • Anxiety (vv. 4, 10)
  • Instability (v. 5)

Looking UP Results in…

  • Security in God’s arms (v. 1)
  • Strength in God’s grace (v. 1)
  • Peace in God’s help (v. 2)
  • Joy in God’s providence (v. 4)
  • Steadiness in God’s presence (vv. 5-7)
  • Wonder at God’s power (v. 8)
  • Confidence in God’s sovereignty (v. 10)

BIG PICTURE Thoughts about Trials

  • God does not promise to spare believers from all hardships (Jn. 16:33; 2 Cor. 11:23-29).
  • God does promise to help believers in our hardships (2 Cor. 4:7-12).
  • God want you to know Him intimately (Ps. 46:10).
  • God wants to deepen your faith (2 Cor. 4:16-18; Rom. 5:3-5).
  • God wants to minister through you (2 Cor. 1:3-7).

If you are going through a time of trial, be sure to listen to this encouraging sermon.

Print this entry

July 17, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on A 3-Sentence Definition of Biblical Counseling

A 3-Sentence Definition of Biblical Counseling

In a nutshell, biblical counseling is the one-another ministry of discipleship whereby believers wisely speak scriptural truth into each other’s lives while bringing the refreshing hope of Christ (Rom. 15:14; 1 Thess. 5:14). This ministry of the Word is essential for our sanctification in Christ, since it is by the instrument of Scripture that the Spirit renews our mind, confronts our sin, and transforms us into the likeness of our Savior (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10). By demonstrating the relevance and sufficiency of God’s Word for every soul-related need we may experience (Ps. 19:7-11; 119:140, 160), this inter-personal ministry fulfills the biblical mandate to speak the truth in love so that we may each grow to maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:15).

Print this entry

July 17, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS (for women)

NUGGETS (for women)

As I collated helpful articles I’ve read the past week, I noticed most of them were written by, and directed toward, women.

5 Things I’d Tell My Newlywed Self – “God is for marriage and He wants us to make it.”

Handling Conflict Well in a Friendship – When a friendship goes south, how do you respond?

Surrender Your Kids’ Faith to God – Five controlling tactics to stop using. For dads too.

Print this entry

July 10, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS

NUGGETS

Being a Friend to those with Mental Struggles/Illness – It’s all pretty heavy stuff to deal with but do you know the single best thing you can do to help someone.

Do We Need a Still Small Voice Before We Obey? – “His Word is all we need for our obedience in a life of godliness.”

Perfect Timing – An encouraging devotion from Philip DeCourcy on the perfection of God’s providence in our lives.

Print this entry

July 9, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Six Admonitions from Deuteronomy

Six Admonitions from Deuteronomy

Picture this. You are among the 40 years old and younger in Israel. You have watched your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all die in the wilderness because of their unbelief. You don’t wish to repeat their lack of faith or take numerous laps around Mt. Sinai until you learn your lesson. So, while encamped on the plains of Moab, you listen intently to Moses’ last three sermons. This is the book of Deuteronomy.

The name Deuteronomy means “Second Law.” It’s best understood as “Repetition of Law” not “Second Law.” It was not a second law, but rather Moses’ three sermons explaining the Law written down in a book and given to the priests (31:9). Words you would hear over and over include “hear” (50x), “do, keep, observe” (177x), and “remember” (14x). So, in a nutshell, Moses’ sermons are calls to hear the Word of the Lord, obey it, and always remember from where God has brought them.

In my reading through Deuteronomy last week, I noticed many admonitions which are reinforced by New Testament teaching and, therefore, need to be applied by us today. I will only mention six of them.

Here’s a Bible study idea for you to do this week. You may also listen to the sermon online and follow along with this outline.

1. Always remember the basis of God’s electing grace is His love for you, not your love for Him (7:6-9).

Reinforced in the New Testament by Jesus: Read John 15:16

Reinforced and applied to believers by the apostle Peter: Read 1 Peter 2:9

2. Always remember the blessing of God is connected to the obedience of your faith (7:9-13; 8:1).

Reinforced in the New Testament by Jesus: Read John 14:21

3. Always remember your spiritual life cannot thrive without regular feeding on the written Word of God (8:2-3).

Reinforced in the New Testament by Jesus: Read Matthew 4:4, John 17:17. Take note that Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy when doing battle against Satan. When the devil tempted Jesus to defy the Word of God, Jesus fought it off with Scripture.

4. Never forget everything you possess and achieve is from the Lord (8:7-18).

Reinforced in the NT by Jesus: John 15:5

Reinforced by Paul, too: 1 Corinthians 15:10

5. Never forget apostasy and idolatry provoke God’s anger, and the price of sin is always high (8:19-20; 9:7-8).

Reinforced in the NT by Jesus: Matthew 5:30

Reinforced by Paul and Peter, too: Galatians 6:7; 2 Peter 2:21

6. Always remember Jesus is the greater prophet of whom Moses spoke and, therefore, must be your highest priority and final authority (18:15-18).

Reinforced in the NT by Jesus: Matthew 7:15; John 5:46

Reminders, reminders, reminders. We all need them. So, let me leave with another reminder—with the promise of blessing to those who obey, and the warning of discipline to those who do not. In Matthew 7, Jesus said this:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

It is the man, woman, or child who not only hears the words of Jesus, but also obeys them, who will build their life on the stability of the Lord.

[Adapted from yesterday’s sermon, Always Remember and Never Forget.]

On a personal note: I’m heading out on a family vacation so things will be quiet on the blog this week.

Print this entry

July 6, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS

NUGGETS

Mark Dever on the Problem of Unhitching the Old Testament from Our Theology – This is a key reason behind my current sermon series, From Garden to Garden.

Social Media and Churches/Are You Addicted to your Cell Phone? – Thoughts and challenges from Tim Challies.

The 2 Marks of a Truly Wicked Person – “Two words summarize these wicked oppressors: arrogant and aggressive. Their pride and violence spell disaster for anyone who stands in their way.”

The Doctrines of Graciousness – “Giving mental assent to the Bible’s teachings about our depravity and God’s election, atonement, and grace is quicker and easier than learning to live out the kind of virtues God pairs with such precious truths.”

The Average Debt Per U.S. Household Continues to Rise – A startling and sobering read.

Print this entry

July 3, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Though We Are Faithless, God Remains Faithful

Though We Are Faithless, God Remains Faithful

When I got saved in the early months of 1984, I met my wife a few months later. That fall we sang in a group called Lightshine. It was the musical outreach of a local Youth for Christ kind of ministry. Before I joined the group, they sang a song that I still hear her sing. As I understand, it was popular on Christian radio in the late 1970’s. The song was called Take another Lap around Mt. Sinai. The chorus went like this:

Go on and take another lap around Mt. Sinai
Til you learn your lesson
Till you stop your whining and you quit your rebellin’
Till you learn to stand in your day of testin’
By trustin’ and obeyin’ the Lord

That chorus pretty much sums up the book of Numbers—Israel taking laps around Mt. Sinai, waiting for 40 years of God’s judgment to take its course. On the positive side, Numbers is about the longsuffering and faithfulness of God to fulfill His covenant promise in spite of the people’s unbelief.

Out of 36 chapters in the book of Numbers, I selected chapter 14 to be part of our current sermon series because it illustrates a key contrast repeatedly found in the book: the contrast between living by fear and living by faith. When the twelve spies returned from checking out the land, the congregation had a choice to make. Who would they follow? Would they follow the two men with big faith in a big God, or the ten with little faith and a little God?

4 Biblical Truths

In the first half of the chapter, we find four truths illustrating the contrast between faith and unbelief. Take time to read and meditate on this passage of Scripture.

  1. Unbelief leads to rebellion (vv. 1-4).
  2. Faith believes God is bigger than obstacles (vv. 5-9).
  3. Unbelief rejects God’s promise (v. 10a).
  4. Faith banks upon God’s faithfulness (vv. 13-19).

In the rest of the chapter we see God’s response to the intercession of Moses. The Lord would continue to move forward with the fulfillment of His promise, but He would also hold personally responsible those who acted in unbelief. The generation that acted in unbelief would die in the wilderness, while the ten negative spies would immediately be executed because they failed to take hold of the promise of God.

Think about it. As spies, they were peeking into the very place where God would fulfill the promise of redemption. The place where Abraham’s God would fulfill His promise. The place where the seed of the woman would be born—and would die—to crush the Serpent’s head. This was the land of Messiah! When the congregation followed the pessimistic faith of the ten spies, they failed to fully embrace the redemptive promise of God.

A Personal Takeaway

When we act in unbelief, God’s plan moves forward without us, and without His blessing. Don’t get me wrong. God’s work is not stopped, but it may be delayed from an earthly standpoint. If we are unwilling to live by faith then He will raise up others who are willing to do so and receive the blessings. Faithlessness is not without a price. The price is the loss of divine blessing.

The book of Deuteronomy contains three sermons Moses preached to the people as they wrapped up their 40 years of wandering, and were camped across the Jordan, ready to enter the land of promise. Through Moses, God placed a choice before them.

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.” (Deut. 11:26-28)

After their time in the wilderness, the surviving generation stood before another obstacle—the raging Jordan River. They had a choice to make. Would they embrace God’s promise by faith, or cower in fear of the unknown?

Today, a choice stands before you and me. We stand at a fork in the road. How will we live in light of the Word of God? Will we live by fear or faith?

[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon, which is available on our church website. You may follow the series on Sermon Audio.]

Print this entry