Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

September 13, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Nuggets of Wisdom [9/13/16]

Nuggets of Wisdom [9/13/16]

Here’s a few links that I found helpful…

Lion or Lamb: Which Do You Need? – “Have you ever considered reading the book of Revelation when you needed some encouragement?”

Pastoral Ministry and the Struggle to Sleep – “We need to look at the regular shape of our week and ensure there’s ample time for sleep. God may or may not give us good sleep—that’s his sovereign choice—but if we don’t allow time for sleep, he can’t give us the restorative slumber we so need.”

Keys to a Multi-Generational Worship Ministry – Since I’ve always believed multi-generational worship is the pattern we see in Scripture, a powerful unifying factor, a demonstration of love, and a key element in cross-generational discipleship, this 23-minute podcast topic caught my attention.

Five Reasons It Is So Painful for a Pastor to Lose a Church Member – “’I don’t want you take this personally, pastor, but we are leaving the church.’ Yeah. Right. The church member might as well have stabbed the pastor with a knife while noting it was not personal.”

UPCOMING CONFERENCE: 1-Day Marriage & Family Conference in Cleveland, Ohio

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September 8, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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1-Day Marriage & Family Conference in Cleveland, Ohio

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Now, of course, we know that’s not true. The Bible warns us that our words have power. They can either destroy or nourish. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18). Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

Polls and surveys consistently reveal that the number one issue that weakens and damages marriage and family relationships is poor communication and unresolved conflict. Many couples and families struggle in some way with the inability to communicate properly and resolve conflict. However, proper communication is essential to a Christ-centered home because it is the means by which a husband-wife relationship and parent-child relationship is established, grows, and is maintained.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about a one-day conference, Life-Building Communication in the Home, being hosted November 5th by Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, OH. Together, we’ll discover what is at the heart of our communication problems, learn biblical ways to improve our communication, minimize conflicts, and much more.

General Sessions

  • Life-Building Communication in the Home – Part I
  • Life-Building Communication in the Home – Part II
  • Being Eager to Maintain Unity

Breakout Sessions (Pick 2)

  • Enhancing Communication with Your Husband
  • Enhancing Communication with Your Wife
  • Effectively Communicating with Your Teenager
  • Reproving Children Biblicaly
  • Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution in the Home
  • Parenting from Proverbs

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

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September 8, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Proverbs 12:25, Anxiety and Depression, and Healing Speech

Recently, while preparing to teach a master’s in biblical counseling course in Ukraine later this month, I’ve been thinking about the body/soul connection; i.e. the fact that we are embodied spirits—each part affects the other. In particular, my thoughts have been on Proverbs 12:25, its remarkable simplicity and, yet, its depth of wisdom. It reads, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Not only does the wise counselor Solomon teach that the spirit affects the body, 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?

While studying this verse, one of the commentaries I consulted is one of my top 5 picks: Proverbs, A Mentor Commentary. I found 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).”

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.

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September 7, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Beauty Out of Ashes

Yesterday, as I was reviewing notes from a workshop I’ve taught on trials and suffering, I was again counseled by these words from Jerry Bridges:

“As we watch tragic events unfolding, or more particularly as we experience adversity ourselves, we often are prone to ask God, ‘Why?’ The reason we ask is because we do not see any possible good to us or glory to God that can come from the particular adverse circumstances that have come upon us or our loved ones. But is not the wisdom of God—thus the glory of God—more eminently displayed in bringing good out of calamity than out of blessing?

The wisdom of the chess player is displayed more in winning over a capable opponent than over a novice. The wisdom of the general is displayed more in defeating a superior army than in subduing an inferior one. Even more so, the wisdom of God is displayed when He brings good to us and glory to Himself out of confusion and calamity rather than out of pleasant times.

There is no question that God’s people live in a hostile world. We have an enemy, the Devil, [who] ‘prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to sift us like wheat as he did Peter (Luke 22:31), or make us curse God as he tried to get Job to do. God does not spare us from the ravages of disease, heartache, and disappointment of this sin-cursed world. But God is able to take all of these elements—the bad as well as the good—and make full use of every one.

As someone years ago said, ‘A lesser wisdom than the divine would feel impelled to forbid, to circumvent or to resist the outworking of these hellish plans. It is a fact that often God’s people try to do this themselves, or cry unceasingly to the Lord that He may do it. So it is that prayers often seem to lie unanswered. For we are being handled by a wisdom which is perfect, a wisdom which can achieve what it [intends] by taking hold of things and people which are meant for evil and making them work together for good.’ashes

God’s infinite wisdom then is displayed in bringing good out of evil, beauty out of ashes. It is displayed in turning all the forces of evil that rage against His children into good for them. But the good that He brings about is often different than the good we envision.”

[From Chapter 8, “The Wisdom of God” in Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even when Life Hurts.]

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September 6, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Training Conference with Stuart Scott and Martha Peace

MainConferencebanner-2016I’m pleased to let you know of a valuable conference taking place in late-October at the The Biblical Counseling Training Center of Arizona. The theme for their 11th annual conference is “Discerning God’s Will – How to Make Biblically Informed Decisions?” Stuart Scott is the keynote speaker. As in previous years, there will also be a Women’s Day conference with Martha Peace.

Get all the details and register here.

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September 6, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Fifteen Reasons I Believe in Pastoral Visits

Fifteen Reasons I Believe in Pastoral Visits

Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway Christian Resources, is a servant of the Lord for whom I am thankful. Though I recognize we have some differences in philosophy of ministry and church growth, I have benefited from many of his blog posts and appreciate the energy he puts into helping leaders evaluate themselves and their churches. In the past year, I have shared several of his articles with our church staff. Therefore, it is not easy for me to express my deep disappointment with his recent article Fifteen Reasons Why Your Pastor Should Not Visit Much. Frankly, I was startled by it.

Let me make it clear right away that I do not believe the lead pastor should do all the visitation in a church even if he is able to do so. In many cases it would be a hindrance to the overall health of the church and the growth of every-member-ministry if the pastor made all the visits, especially if he made them in the traditional, solo way. A plurality of elders is the biblical pattern of shepherding for a good reason; there are more soul care needs than there are men to meet them. This will always be the case for any church of any size; therefore, I am a strong advocate of training a team of men and women to regularly carry on visitation ministry (I have written on this in the past). In my church, I am blessed to already have multiple staff as well as members who are gifted and faithful in this important demonstration of one-another love.

To be fair to Thom, I should point out that the word “much” in his title surely indicates he does not believe the pastor should not do any visiting at all. Nevertheless, I remain very concerned about the overall message his article sends and find most of his reasons unfounded and unconvincing. In short, I do not believe this is the counsel today’s churches and pastors need. With that said, here are 15 reasons I believe in pastoral visitation.

  1. Because it is biblical. Some of God’s harshest rebukes were for shepherds who did not “attend” to their flock (Jer. 23:1-4) or “strengthen” the weak sheep (Ezek. 34:4). As a pastor, I don’t ever want to be on the receiving end of such a rebuke.
  1. Because it edifies members of the body so that they are better equipped for their one-another ministry in the church. The personal contact of pastors with their church members encourages their growth in Christ, which leads to the building up of the whole body (Eph. 4:12-15). For this reason, whenever possible, I bring another member along on visits.
  1. Because it gets the pastor out of his office/study. Pastors who are committed to the faithful study and exposition of the Scriptures may be tempted to spend too much time in the church office. Visitation gets him out of the church building and into the lives of his people, which helps him understand their world and makes him more approachable. Sheep need the care of a shepherd. As one of a plurality of elders who is called to shepherd the flock of God the pastor needs to do his part in caring for the sheep (1 Pet. 5:2).
  1. Because it keeps pastors from becoming inward in their ministry focus. Avoiding visitation may keep pastors aloof from their flock and, as a result, they will miss out on key moments to be ministers of God’s grace and truth. Rather than being aloof, pastors and elders are to remain among the flock (1 Pet. 5:2).
  1. Because it enhances sermon preparation. Visitation helps the pastor keep a finger on the spiritual pulse of his congregation. God called the shepherds of Israel to feed His people both knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:15). This understanding strengthens the public ministry of preaching.
  1. Because it provides an example to the flock. Visiting the flock provides opportunities for the pastor to lead others in becoming compassionate caregivers. He does this by skillfully leading suffering believers to the God of all comfort who gives them the comfort they need, which they will in turn be able to bring to others in the church (1 Pet. 5:3; 2 Cor. 1:3-5).
  1. Because pastoral ministry requires both the personal and public ministry of the Word. The apostles admonished believers both publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20). Some soul care can only be carried out through the personal ministry of the Word, which is an indispensable part of admonishing believers toward being completely mature in Christ (Col. 1:28). Visitation easily and naturally facilitates this personal ministry.
  1. Because church members are so appreciative. In my 24 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve never had a church member respond to a visit with anything less than gratitude. Rather than breeding feelings of entitlement, my observation has been that visits leave members feeling humbled, affirmed, and valued—especially if they are among the “less honorable” (1 Cor. 12:23).
  1. Because a pastor is a shepherd, not a CEO. The Greek word translated “pastor” is poimen (Eph. 4:11), which emphasizes the attention to spiritual care that pastors provide to God’s sheep along with the other elders. Visits are priceless opportunities to nurture, admonish, and pray with the sheep.
  1. Because it helps balance out task-driven pastors. Some pastors more easily gravitate toward setting goals and finishing tasks, rather than intentionally being with people. One reason I’m thankful the Lord put me into the ministry is that I am challenged daily to love outside of my comfortable, naturally introverted self; and place others above myself (Phil. 2:3-4).
  1. Because it often gives church members the timely encouragement they need. A word of grace spoken at just the right time by a caring shepherd can make all the difference in the world by bringing hope to a person who desperately needs it (Prov. 25:11; Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6).
  1. Because it keeps a face on the Great Commission work that is needed in our city (Acts 1:8). Last year, while visiting a member in the hospital, I was starkly reminded of the false doctrine many people believe. Her hospital roommate was sucked in by every prosperity preacher on TV who promised divine healing if she would just have enough faith (and send them money). So deceived was this poor woman that she refused to sign the paperwork required for the medical treatment which would remedy her situation and send her home to a bunch of little kids who needed a functional mother. This visit led me to pray not only for our church member’s healing, but also for her personal gospel witness to her gullible roommate.
  1. Because it helps pastors to learn the names of church members. This strengthens the assurance of love and follows the example of the Good Shepherd (John 10:3). I have found that the personal ministry of the Word and prayer makes pastor/sheep connections more memorable to both.
  1. Because it strengthens the church’s confidence in pastoral leadership. The Gospel of John indicates that sheep will not follow the voice of a stranger, but they will follow the shepherd whose voice they recognize (John 10:5). Though this is clearly about Jesus, the Good Shepherd, pastors are undershepherds of Christ and, therefore, should take their cues from Him.
  1. Because it helps to keep preaching pastoral in nature and delivery. Delivering seminary lectures from a pulpit without pastoral tone and care flowing from the heart of a shepherd is not biblical preaching. As believers are strengthened by the loving care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who knows our names, so pastoral love brings security and assurance of the love of God to His children (John 10:1-4).

One of the surest signs of the blessing of God upon His people is the gift of spiritual shepherds who faithfully care for His flock (Jer. 3:15). If local churches need anything in this present age of pragmatism it is a new generation of pastors who will minister the Word through faithful preaching and personal soul care. Of course, they cannot and should not do this alone, but they need to lead the way. May the Lord raise up this new generation for His glory!

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My top recommended resources

Also, Kevin Carson and I co-authored a chapter on the unbreakable bond between the personal and public ministry of the Word in Counseling and the Church: God’s Care through God’s People.

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September 4, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Apprehended by God

Apprehended by God

This past week, as I was preparing my sermon from Philippians 3:12-16, I discovered these beautifully-crafted words from an old Baptist pastor from the early 1900s. Commenting on the apostle’s expressed desire to fully apprehend Christ because it was Christ who first apprehended him, F. B. Meyer writes,

Paul realized that his conversion had been his apprehension by God. To hear some men speak you would suppose that the initiative in their religious life had come from themselves, that the first approaches toward God emanated from their own hearts, that they were independent of Him until they voluntarily put themselves within the range of His care and help. Nothing could be further from the truth. As well might the flower speak of discovering the sunshine and turning its face [thereabouts]. The initiative of the religious life does not come from man but from God. The first steps in reconciliation are not on our side but on His. If we seek God it is only because He has been seeking us from early childhood, and has contrived the span of our life and the location of our home with special reference to our feeling after Him and finding Him (Acts 17: 26-27).

When a man turns to God, the first thing he realizes is that throughout the wild wanderings of his youth, and amid all the fret and war of his manhood, even when he has been most stubborn and rebellious, God’s love has never ceased to seek him….We love because we were first loved; we seek because we were sought; we leave our far country, not only because hunger impels, but because frequent missives from our Father’s house tell us that He cannot be at rest until we are again seated at His table.

(F. B. Meyer, Devotional Commentary on Philippians)

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September 2, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Flashback Friday – 23 Reasons for Joy (from Philippians)

Flashback Friday – 23 Reasons for Joy (from Philippians)

Since I’ve been preaching through Philippians since February, the themes of joy and rejoicing are reoccurring. Here’s a rerun post from 2012, the fruit of spending time there during my daily devotions.

The book of Philippians has been my food for the past month, or so, in response to the encouragement of a faithful brother of mine. Having struggled my whole life with negative thought patterns, which come so easily—without any conscious effort—I am asking the Lord to train me in a pattern of joy. Perhaps this is an area where Christlike growth is needed in your heart and life too? Toward the goal of re-training our hearts, consider the following reasons to be joyful. Let this list be a starting point for you to meditate on the Word of God.

  1. You have grace and peace from God (1:2)
  2. God will finish the good work of transformation into the image of Christ that He began through the gospel (1:6)
  3. Fellow believers are a gift from God, partakers with you of grace (1:7)
  4. In Christ, you are filled with the fruit of righteousness (1:11)
  5. God works your circumstances to His glory (1:12)
  6. Christ is proclaimed, whether or not the preacher’s motives are always pure (1:18)
  7. Christ will be exalted in your body, whether by your life or by your death (1:20)
  8. Your death will be gain (1:21)
  9. True, likeminded believers who live in love and unity (2:2)
  10. Setting your mind on the humility of Christ (2:5-11)
  11. The privilege of serving in gospel work (2:17-18)
  12. One loyal friend and co-worker (2:20)
  13. The mercy of God in the sorrows of life (2:28-30)
  14. The Lord himself is reason to rejoice (3:1; 4:4)
  15. The surpassing value of knowing Christ (3:7-8)
  16. Pressing toward the goal of Christ (3:13-16)
  17. Your true citizenship is in heaven (3:20)
  18. True brothers and sisters who are loved by God and who love you (4:1)
  19. God hears your thankful prayers and gives you peace (4:6-7)
  20. Developing godly thought patterns is possible in Christ (4:8)
  21. You are loved by other believers (4:11)
  22. Contentment is yours in Christ (4:12)
  23. God faithfully meets your needs and the needs of your fellow believers in Christ (4:17-19)

Finally, my brothers and sisters, let us rejoice.

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September 1, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Sin of Talking Too Much

The Sin of Talking Too Much

Is it a sin to talk too much? Well, that depends. Years ago, my men’s small group discussed the discipline of the tongue. After reading a chapter in Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes, and verses from Proverbs that address the issue, some of us were tempted to stop talking all together! However, we quickly realized this was not the answer. That would be too easy. The right response is the hard road of self-discipline. The hard road is the application of wisdom in the restraint of the most powerful muscle in our body. That got me thinking about the dangers of talking too much. There are many and include the following:

  • Excessive talk opens the door to sin.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (21:23). “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (13:3). These verses seem to be saying the more you talk, the more you will sin. The reason for this is found in the sobering truth of James 3:8: “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” We must discipline ourselves to refrain from speaking when it is not necessary. This is one mark of wisdom and maturity. “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (17:27, 28).

  • Excessive talk fuels gossip.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a gossip as, “a person who chatters or repeats idle talk and rumors.” So, idle talk and rumors usually define the content of gossip. However, it’s important to realize that the accuracy of the information being chattered about is not the only issue. It could be true or false. The issue is there are some things that simply don’t need to be, and should not be, repeated because the negative effects of gossip are numerous. It destroys friendships: “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9). It causes strife: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” (Proverbs 26:20). It leads to the betrayal of confidences: “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19 NASB). It hurts others deeply: “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (Proverbs 18:8). The Puritan, Thomas Watson, said: “The scorpion carries its poison in its tail, the slanderer in his tongue. His words pierce deep like the quills of the porcupine.”

  • Excessive talk is the enemy of listening.

We have all been guilty at one time or another of not listening because we were rapidly forming a response in our mind while the other person was still talking. Proverbs identifies this as foolishness: “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (18:13). “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (29:20). This is also supported by the words of James in the New Testament: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James. 1:19). Notice the relationship between quick listening and slow speaking. It seems the discipline of quick listening strengthens the discipline of slow speaking, and vice versa. So, if I make a conscious decision to listen intently, I will not be so hasty to speak. And if I use more care in speaking, I will become a more skillful listener.

  • Excessive talk often feeds boasting.

To boast is to glory in having or doing. Boasters are different from gossips in that they talk excessively about themselves rather than others. Proverbs warns against this: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (27:2). “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (20:6) “Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain” (25:14). Boasting is grievous to God because it is fueled by pride. We need to carefully heed James’ warning:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13–16)

  • Excessive talk may lead to flattery.

It would be foolish to try to improve on Kent Hughes’ definition of flattery: “Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face. Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.” The Bible always attributes corrupt motives to flattery. “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet” (Proverbs 29:5). The harlot seduces her prey by means of flattery (Proverbs 2:16–18, 6:24, 7:21). In the past when I have encountered a flatterer, I have wanted to ask, “Just what is it you want?” Beware of those who give excessive, untrue, or insincere praise.

  • Excessive talk is often idle talk.

If we fail to restrain the use of our tongue we may find ourselves involved in a lot of useless talk. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.” In other words, all talk and no action eventually leads to want. Jesus’ warning against idle talk should have a sobering effect: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The accounting we shall give at the Judgment Seat of Christ is a powerful deterrent to careless speech if we are mindful of it.

  • Excessive talk may give birth to profanity.

Profanity, or what most of us grew up calling “swearing,” is inconsistent in the life of a child of God. “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing” (James 3:9, 10a nasb). If we sing praise to God on Sunday and curse men on Monday, “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:10 nasb). “It is inconsistent for a fountain to send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water, or a fig tree to produce olives” (James 3:11, 12). Therefore, our new–creature–status in Christ should be reflected by the abandonment of profane talk (2 Corinthians 5:17).

  • Excessive talk usually destroys.

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5, 6). The National Interagency Fire Center reports that in the year 2000 fires destroyed 8,422,237 acres of wildland, costing federal agencies (us) over 1.3 billion dollars to suppress. We can measure the destruction of trees and wildlife, but the devastation caused by an uncontrolled tongue cannot be estimated. Just one spark is all it takes!

Taming our tongue is extremely difficult, but not impossible. As we practice love and exercise discipline in the restraint of our tongue, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:23). As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we will become more and more like the perfect (complete, mature) man who does not stumble in word (James 3:2). Let us pray we become more like that man.

[Excerpted from Delight in the Word: Spiritual Food for Hungry Hearts.]

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August 31, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Engaging the Mind, Heart, and Life through Word-centered Homework

Engaging the Mind, Heart, and Life through Word-centered Homework

Recently, a man who had attended a conference in 2010 emailed to request the homework examples I had given in the workshop I taught on the need for personal discipline in sanctification. It took a bit of digging to find them, but yesterday I stumbled upon them. Thought they may be of benefit to you, as well, in your personal ministry of the Word to one another.bible marked

EXAMPLE 1

Read and meditate on Matthew 5-7 three times this week. In your journal/notebook list:

  • What does Jesus teach me about my heart? What are its characteristics?
  • What does Jesus teach me about the fruits of my heart?
  • What changes does Jesus call me to make? What sins must I repent of?
  • What warnings does Jesus give to me?
  • What promises does Jesus give to me?
  • Are there any spiritual disciplines that Jesus presents for my spiritual health?

EXAMPLE 2

Read and meditate on James 4:1-10 three times this week. In your notebook, answer the following questions.

  • In your present conflict, what is your heart craving? What “pleasures” (v. 1) are you seeking?
  • How do we commit “murder of the heart” in our conflicts with others?
  • Explain the meaning of the phrase: “You have not because you ask not” (v. 2).
  • If your desire is a legitimate need? If so, can you trust God enough to see that it is met by Him?
  • How have you been trying to get your own desires fulfilled?
  • What might be some of the “wrong motives” that are the “functional gods” of your heart?
  • Why does James call his readers “adulteresses” (v. 4)?
  • Why is God jealous for the Spirit’s rule in our hearts (v. 5)?
  • How are you manifesting pride in your present relationship conflict?
  • In what specific ways does God want you to humble yourself before Him or others (v. 7)?
  • Are there any specific sins that you need to confess to God or others (vv. 8-10)?

The longer I am involved in the personal ministry of the Word, the more often I see greater transformation take place when we lead those we are counseling to spend substantial time in the Bible. There are many, many excellent counseling resources available for our use (more than ever before!), but none of them hold a candle to the power of the pure Scriptures. Let these two examples serve as stimulus to you to generate many more Bible study projects that are geared toward renewal of the mind and life application.

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