Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

May 15, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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What Is Conversion?

Authentic biblical discipleship stands in awe of the power of God’s gospel to convert thoroughly sinful men and women from thoroughly sinful thoughts, actions, motives, emotions, and desires to Spirit-generated new creations that reflect the beautiful love and holiness of Jesus Christ—the Lord we are now called to follow. God’s vision of discipleship, therefore, requires a theological understanding of the nature and effects of sin and of the work of His sovereign grace; not merely to reform sinners, but to regenerate, redeem, rescue, and thoroughly recreate them by reclaiming them for His own possession. Therefore, we must be convinced that, in order for a natural-born rebel who is against God’s divine sovereignty to come to the place of voluntarily submitting his or her will to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and, as a disciple, obeying His commands, a supernatural revolution must take place in the inner person. Nothing short of an extraordinary work of God via the wonder-working power of the gospel message is required—a work called conversion.

Conversion is the child produced by the marriage of faith and repentance. One theologian defines it this way:

Conversion is our willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation. The word conversion itself means “turning”—here it represents a spiritual turn, a turning from sin to Christ. The turning from sin is called repentance, and the turning to Christ is called faith. We can look at each of these elements of conversion, and in one sense it does not matter which one we discuss first, for neither one can occur without the other, and they must occur together when true conversion takes place. (Wayne Grudem)

Robert Duncan Culver, in Systematic Theology, writes, “When the contesting football teams change ends of the field and goalposts—a complete reversal of direction—it is called a conversion. This is strictly consonant with biblical and theological usage … The idea of a spiritual– moral reversal of direction—conversion—is endemic in the Bible from the Lord’s appeal to Cain (Gen. 4:7).” In other words, conversion is clearly evidenced throughout the Scriptures.

The numerous times when, in the Bible, sinners turned from sin to God demonstrate this. For example, “in their distress [Israel] turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him” (2 Chr. 15:4), and once the prophet Jonah finally decided to submit to God’s command to preach the message of repentance, the citizens of Nineveh “turned from their wicked way” (Jonah 3:10). In Paul’s testimony of his own conversion and call, he defends Jesus’ command to bring the gospel to the Gentiles “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). He also thanks God for the Thessalonian believers who had “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thes. 1:9). The word that Paul uses for “turned” is epistrepho, in the aorist tense, which indicates “an immediate and decisive change, consequent upon a deliberate choice; conversion is a voluntary act in response to the presentation of truth.” The apostle’s choice of this word emphasizes the active part the Thessalonians had in their conversion.

While hardly a more passionate defender of God’s sovereignty in salvation can be found, the Apostle Paul recognized that the outworking of God’s election of sinners to salvation does not result in passivity on the part of the individual. This human activity in no way steals any ray of glory from the God of salvation because His regenerating grace makes it possible. Culver defends the Scriptures’ recognition of both the human and divine aspects of conversion when he writes,

[Sinners] both convert and are converted. It seems best to think of the divine act (or work) as regeneration and the human acts of repentance and faith as conversion … Conversion is no works-righteousness, meritorious, synergism of God and man. They move together but God initiates it by regenerating the will or disposition … God can and does penetrate our spirits by His spirit without destroying any faculty of volition, rather by setting it free to make right choices.

In order to be saved, we must experience conversion. The depth of our sinfulness, and the nature of the human heart to live in rebellion against God’s authority require the new birth, which the Holy Spirit accomplishes through the Word.

[Excerpted from Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-Personal Discipleship]

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May 14, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 4 Traits of a Faithful Mother

4 Traits of a Faithful Mother

Clovis Chappel was one of the most effective preachers of the last century. He is especially known for his biographical sermons. In one sermon on Jochebed, the mother of Moses, he said, “When God wants to train a child for the achieving of the best and the highest in life, He sends him to school to a godly mother.” And Abraham Lincoln I known for saying, “No man is poor who has a Godly mother.”

Godliness is a priceless gift a mother can give to her children. But godliness and faith are most often developed through difficult trials. In the dark times, we rarely understand what God is doing behind the scenes; we don’t see how the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place as He works out His sovereign will for our life. It was that way for a woman in the Old Testament whose name was Hannah.

Read 1 Samuel 1-2:11.

Yesterday, I preached on the trials Hannah endured and the God-centered faith that led to the dedication of her son, Samuel, to the Lord. Here is what we learned.

In her response to both trial and blessing, Hannah provides an example of humble God-centered faith. Here every women may discover four traits, or life disciplines, for the cultivation of godly motherhood. 

  1. Rest in God when life hurts, and expectations are unmet (1:1-8)
  2. Run to God in prayer, surrendering your heart’s desires (1:9-18).
  3. Release your children to God, since they already belong to Him (1:19-28).
  4. Resolve to praise God, and trust in His sovereignty (2:1-11).

You may listen to the sermon here.

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May 11, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Six Good Lessons from Disability

“Why am I disabled” is a question many people must ask. For Dr. Christopher Ralston, Senior Editor of the Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, the question reflects his choice to view his life through a Godward lens. In the Beyond Suffering Bible, which I’ve mentioned several times, Dr. Ralston writes an essay entitled, “Why Am I Disabled? – Reflections on Life’s Questions and God’s Answers.” In this essay, he mentions some of the good lessons he has learned from living with a disability.

  1. Patience and endurance – “As a person with limited mobility, I’ve had to learn to live with the fact that it will take me longer to get from point A to point B, whether I like it or not. Simple tasks…take quite a bit longer than they do for most people. Fatigue and weariness are often familiar companions. These realities have borne significant spiritual fruit.
  2. Ministry of comfort – “My experiences with weakness and limitations make it possible for me to care for and comfort others with the comfort that I have received from Christ (2 Cor. 1:4). He has used my disability to develop character traits in me that, in turn, provide opportunities to minister to and serve others in their times of need.”
  3. Accepting limits – “Life with a physical disability has forced me to accept my limits. Truth be told, this is an ongoing struggle….I have not always been able to accomplish everything in life that I might have liked. Like many other single people with disabilities, I have yet to find a helpmate and must face the possibility that marriage is not in God’s sovereign plan for my life.”
  4. Passion to defend the helpless – My experience with disability has produced a “passion for defending the weakest, most vulnerable among us—the unborn, the elderly, people with disabilities, and others deemed ‘unproductive’ or ‘unworthy of life.”
  5. Shaped my career path – “Much as I might have liked to become a professional football player or a fighter jet pilot, these options simply weren’t in the cards for me…given the way God has wired me, it makes sense that I’ve gravitated toward academic and intellectual pursuits.”
  6. Humor is a mainstay – “Without the ability to laugh at myself and the sometimes ridiculous situations that life can throw my way, things could get depressing very quickly.”

Christopher then wraps up this portion of his essay with these words: “None of this, of course, is intended to sugarcoat the realities of life with a disability. Without a doubt, having a disability can pose many challenges. For me, it has at times been physically draining, financially costly, lonely, and isolating. But through it all, God has always been my strength (Hab. 3:19).”

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May 8, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Seven Words that Shed Light on the Ministry of the Word

Seven Words that Shed Light on the Ministry of the Word

Last evening, I was so blessed by a message from the first chapter of Jeremiah preached by Christopher Ash at this year’s Basics conference. Drawing from God’s call to Jeremiah to be His mouthpiece to Israel, Christopher drew attention to seven words that shed light on the ministry of the Word.

  1. Unpromising – On the face of it, the ministry of the Word is unlikely to succeed because of the power of evil.
  2. Paradoxical – The ministry of the Word is paradoxical because of the weakness of the strange instrument chosen to speak it.
  3. Intimate – The ministry of the Word requires Spirit-guided meditation on the Scriptures through which God intimately speaks to his servant.
  4. Destructive – Before it can be constructive, the Word must destroy faulty thinking and idols.
  5. Guaranteed – Success is eventually guaranteed—in the end—because the Lord watches over His Word to fulfill it.
  6. Sobering – The ministry of the Word is not light and slap-happy, but concerns serious realities.
  7. Dangerously safe – There is safety in the ministry of the Word, as God watches over His faithful servants.

If you are involved in the ministry of the Word at any level, and in any manner, you should listen to this message here.

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May 5, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Mother’s Day Gift Book Recommendations

Gospel Meditations for Mothers – A new 31-day devotional in my favorite series of devotional booklets from Church Works Media.

Devoted: Great Men and their Godly Moms – by Tim Challies

For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-outs – a new book from Sara Wallace at Gospel-Centered Mom

God’s High Calling for Women – a classic favorite from John MacArthur

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May 4, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

7 Ways to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage – “While the world has distorted the purpose of sex, the Bible, and specifically the Song of Solomon teaches us that sex serves a greater purpose. Sex is a way to increase intimacy that already exists in marriage, which means that without sex a marriage will grow stagnant and cold. Sex, then, is important to the vitality of the marriage relationship.”

Powerful Promises to Fight Temptation – “Yes, hardships happen. But you are not alone. God is faithful and he provides a “way out.” As you choose to believe these powerful promises, you’ll draw near to Jesus and continue to seek his answers.”

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May 2, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Bible Is Much More than an Owner’s Manual

The Bible Is Much More than an Owner’s Manual

“The Bible is our owner’s manual for life” is one of the most popular mantras within the biblical counseling world. “Since God created us and designed how we are to best function in His world,” it is argued, “He gave us an owner’s manual (His manual) to follow.” This mantra, and its corresponding reasoning, is true as far as it goes. But does it go far enough? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

The more I am involved in training men and women for the ministry of discipleship counseling, the more concerned I become with the affinity for this mantra, since it tends to lead to formulaic counseling…….continue reading

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May 1, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Top Security for the Anxious Heart

Top Security for the Anxious Heart

security

Psalm 18 is an example of the emotional honesty of the Scriptures, which is something the church needs. Over the 32 years that I’ve been a believer, I’ve noticed a pattern among most Evangelicals; that is, that the only emotional expression that is perfectly acceptable for a “good Christian” is happiness. If we don’t portray ourselves as happy, happy, happy all the time then something must be wrong with us. Right?

Wrong. On the contrary, we find in the Scriptures, especially Psalms, every emotion that is part of the experience of serious believers. Psalm 18 is just one example. As David’s heart is gripped with fear, he prays to the Lord and exalts him as his “top security” (Alec Motyer’s translation). Here is Psalm 18:1-2,

I love you, Yahweh, my strength.

Yahweh, my crag [cliff, secure hiding place] and my fortress and my rescuer; my transcendent God, my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my top security.

In the battle against anxiety, prayer is absolutely essential. Take note of verse 6: In the adversity I had I kept calling on Yahweh, and to my God I kept crying for help; from his temple he kept hearing my voice, and my cry before him for help kept coming into his ears.

Did you see the repetition of the word kept? Read the verse again. David’s battle against fear did not consist of zipping off a quick prayer to God once in a while, but it was a habit of his life. When anxious and under attack, David kept calling and kept crying for help; his cry kept coming before the ears of God. In response, God kept hearing. It was through the practice of prayer that God the Rock, fortress, and rescuer became—in David’s life experience—his top security.

Any battle plan for anxiety that does not keep constant prayer near the top of the list is inadequate and ultimately powerless against the fears that regularly rise up in our fleshly minds and hearts. Let us become people who truly pray without ceasing in order that the peace of God may secure our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

[This article was originally posted September 14, 2016.]

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May 1, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

God’s Grace in the Face of Lyme’s Disease – “Desperation changed my relationship with Christ. It was when it seemed like I had nothing that Jesus became everything.”

The Other Side of the Promises of God – “Believing the promises of God propels us to worship and to express thankfulness for His faithfulness to restore, redeem, and rescue us from bondage. But it also propels us to mission, because we know the faithfulness of God means that if sinners do not hear the gospel and repent, they will perish.”

 

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April 30, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

The Consequences of Gendercide in China and India – “Men in those countries, the most populous nations on earth, outnumber women by 70 million. That means 70 million men have no prospects for marriage, which is causing unforeseen social, psychological, and cultural problems.”

My Son’s Down Syndrome Showed Me the Real Imago Dei – “People with Down syndrome neither understand nor practice malice, greed, jealousy, or deception the way others do. They speak out of an unmasked honesty. They love without the pretentious and self-protective impairments that taint our relationships.”

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