Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

May 22, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Suffering In 3-D

As Christians, we are not to walk alone in our suffering, or inadvertently force others to deal with personal suffering on their own. The church, as a spiritual hospital, the family of God, and a discipleship culture, is to be one-minded and spiritually passionate about its charge to connect to those who suffer in the midst. It is called to properly deal with the many obstacles to right grace-based relationships with all those who suffer—and ultimately, not just tolerating or enduring sufferers in its midst, but welcoming, pursuing, and embracing them as full members of the body of Christ.

Suffering in 3-D is a book to guide and encourage ordinary believers to get practically involved in meaningful relational ministry to all who are suffering. As you work through this book, you will be guided and inspired to engage in a holistic and practical ministry to those who suffer with disease, disability, and disorder.

Here’s My Endorsement: John Kwasny offers “a rare blend of compassionate care and biblical wisdom rooted in the gospel, and lived out in the Christlike community of the local church.”

Get this new resource from Shepherd Press.

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May 16, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Health Update from David Powlison – Our dear brother and friend has been greatly used by the Lord to further the convictions of biblical counseling as the compassionate, Christ-centered ministry of the Word. Please read this recent update on his battle with cancer. Please pray for him and his wife, Nan.

Should I Use My Retirement Funds to Bail Out My Adult Children? – More financial wisdom from Chuck Bentley.

It’s Not Our Job to Finish the Missionary Task – “The Great Commission tells us that the irreducible task of missions is making disciple-making disciples who are baptized into church-planting churches who go throughout the whole world teaching obedience to all that Jesus commanded. This may not make for a quippy motto, but we shouldn’t be alarmed that our role in God’s purposes can’t fit in a tweet or on a bumper sticker.”

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May 13, 2019
by Paul Tautges
1 Comment

10 Distinctives of Biblical Counseling

People often ask me how biblical counseling differs from other approaches to soul care. Here’s a summary I’ve been teaching for almost two decades, which I hope will help you grow in understanding sanctification. This week, look up the Scriptures listed and meditate on God’s abundant provision through the Spirit and the Word. See how each piece fits together. This study will be a healthy meal for your soul.

Biblical counseling believes:

1. The Bible is the all-sufficient source of Truth.

  • Scripture is pure truth (Ps. 119:140, 160).
  • Scripture is sufficient to identify the deepest needs of our soul, and meet them (Ps. 19:7-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
  • Scripture is the instrumental means the Spirit uses to transform us from the inside out, even sanctifying our motivations (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 4:12).
  • Scripture is the judge of all man-made philosophy and theory, as to whether or not it is accurate, corrupts the gospel, or diminishes Christ (1 Cor. 2:11-16; Col. 2:8-10; 2 Cor. 10-4-6).

2. Man is totally depraved, accountable to God, and responsible for his thoughts and actions.

  • Man’s heart is wicked and deceitful (Jer. 17:9).
  • Man’s heart is motivated by love for self, and is addicted to sin (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 6:13).
  • Man will give an account of himself to God (Rom. 14:12; 1 Pet. 4:4-5).
  • Man is responsible for his own temptation and sin (James 1:13-16).
  • But man can be rescued and redeemed by Jesus Christ—becoming a new creature in Him (2 Cor. 5:17).

3. God’s goal for every believer is to be like Jesus Christ.

  • The Christian life begins with regeneration, being born-again by the Spirit through the Word of truth, the gospel (John 3:1-8; 1 Pet. 1:3).
  • God has predestined believers to become conformed to the image of His Son, thus this is God’s goal (Rom. 8:29).
  • God is renewing the believer’s self into the image of Christ, as we put off the old and put on the new (Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:17-32).

4. The Holy Spirit is the agent of heart change, which produces change of behavior.

  • The Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ as we behold Him in the Word (2 Cor. 3:18).
  • The Holy Spirit progressively trains us in godliness and develops new attitudes and lifestyle as we walk in the Word (Gal. 5:22-25).

5. Every Christian is fully equipped in Christ for godliness, but submission to God’s training is required.

  • God’s power is sufficient to live a life that is pleasing to Him, having already been accepted in Christ (2 Pet. 1:2-7; Eph. 1:6).
  • God will finish the sanctifying work which He began at conversion, but not without the personal discipline of the believer (Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13).
  • Suffering is one of the chief means the heavenly Father employs to train us in godliness and discipline (Heb. 12:4-11).

6. Sanctification is a process requiring ongoing repentance and personal discipline toward godliness.

  • Discipline the thoughts of the mind (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • Discipline the desires of the heart (James 4:1-3).
  • Discipline the habits of life (Eph. 4:22-32).

7. Biblical love and compassion motivate believers to restore one another.

  • Love restores sinning brethren to the fellowship of obedience and the church (Gal. 6:1-5).
  • Compassion implores people to follow God’s ways (1 Thess. 2:10-12).

8. God’s wisdom is necessary to minister to a variety of people experiencing a variety of problems and needs.

  • Some are unruly and need to be rebuked (1 Thess. 5:14).
  • Some are fainthearted and need to be encouraged (1 Thess. 5:14).
  • Some are weak and need to be helped (1 Thess. 5:14).
  • We must learn humility and be patient with all (1 Thess. 5:14).

9. God created us both body and soul, which impact each other.

  • Distress, grief, weariness of body, loss of strength, and deterioration may result from physical suffering and painful circumstances (Job 3:26; Ps. 102:3-5; 31:9-10; 2 Cor. 1:8-11).
  • An unrepentant heart may cause physical and emotional struggles (Ps. 38:1-8; 32:3-4).
  • Anxiety may cause mental, emotional, and physical struggles (Prov. 12:25).

10. The local family of God is the ideal place for this one-another ministry of love.

  • Pastors and elders must minister the Word to the flock, shepherd the sheep, and equip believers to build up one another (Eph. 4:12).
  • Biblical ministry leads others toward maturity in Christ (Col. 1:28-29, 3:16).
  • All believers are expected to lovingly stimulate one another toward faithfulness to Christ by speaking the truth in love (Heb. 10:24-25; Rom. 15:14; Eph. 4:15).

As you can see, the above bulleted list is simply a summary. These concepts are more fully developed in Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-personal Discipleship.

[This updated article was originally published on this blog on July 1, 2001.]

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May 10, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Why We Grumble—and How to Fight Back – “Grumbling is the hum of the fallen human heart, and often a hallmark of Christians’ indwelling sin.”

Overcoming a Critical Spirit – “A critical spirit creates blind spots in a person’s heart and mind causing them to believe they are being constructive. In reality, it is characterized as the ungodly.”

Re-thinking Mother’s Day – “Thanks for being a great mom! Thanks for doing the heavy lifting required to teach your kids about Jesus and for parenting according to God’s plan, even when it’s countercultural.”

Divine Order in a Chaotic Age: On Women Preaching – “If we take the Bible at its word, then we recognize that there is no way for a woman to instruct the gathered church, whether in an authoritative or ‘non-authoritative’ way.”

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May 8, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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How Does a Biblical Understanding of “the Heart” Help Our Relationships?

In the Bible, the “heart” means your inner immaterial person that is made up of your thought life, your emotions, and your will. This means that your thought life reveals your heart. Your decisions (your will) reveal your heart. And your emotions tell you about your heart. This becomes even more important if we take seriously Proverbs 4:23:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

It is clear that the heart influences all we do—and that includes how we handle conflict. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that our hearts have “thoughts and intentions.” This verse underlines the “thought life” and “will” aspects of our definition. If it is true that your heart is your mind, emotions, and will, you ought prayerfully to see if you can discern patterns in your thinking, decision-making, and emotions during conflict that reveal what is truly going on in your heart. In other words, your thought life tells you where your heart really is during conflict; your decisions reveal the true focus of your heart (for example, do you decide to avoid people you are upset with?); and your emotions are a vivid picture of what’s happening on the inside (for example, are you afraid of what the other person might say if you raise your concerns?).

Since my “heart” also signifies my “intentions,” my “will,” it makes sense to say that there are things my heart is wanting. I think about the things I want, I make decisions related to the things I want, and my emotions are especially strong when I don’t get the things I want. Another word for “wants” is “desires.” We are wanting, desiring beings.

It’s All about Worship

The word “worship” comes from an Old English word that literally means “worth-ship.” It would be accurate to say, then, that what I ascribe worth to is what I worship. What am I serving? What do I love? What do I talk about? What am I willing to sacrifice for?

Jesus used the word “treasure” in conjunction with the word “heart” in Matthew 12. My inner person is described as my “heart” but also as my “treasure.” How can you tell when someone is treasuring something? Wouldn’t the list of questions to ask be the same as those listed in the previous paragraph?

This is all tied to the idea of worship and the heart. The Lord wants to be Lord over my mind, will, and emotions; because of the gospel, he is transforming my mind, will, and emotions to be like his. This Lordship starts in my heart (mind, will, emotions), and the heart is the place of my treasures. So what do your thinking, decision making, and emotions reveal about who or what is truly lord of your life? What are you treasuring?

Our lives are to be lived as one continuous act of worship; whatever we do, we are to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Lord is to be the One we primarily desire to serve, are devoted to, bow down to, show love toward, talk about, and sacrifice for. He is to be our greatest Treasure.

[Today’s post is written by Ernie Baker, and excerpted from his new mini-book HELP! Disability Pressures Our Marriage.]

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May 7, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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HELP! My Grandchild Has a Disability

The day your first grandchild was born you were not invited to consider grandparenting; suddenly you were a grandparent. That’s because grandparenting is a calling. Callings are not freely chosen. In the truest sense, callings are imposed on us. They are not sought, found, or discovered; they are answered. At first, this arrangement may not sound inviting. In fact, you may feel trapped. But just as God gives us our mission in life, so he also resources and trains us to do the work well. He can even give us an unexpected desire to love and care for a child that emboldens our hearts. But calling has another characteristic which may surprise us: we will never retire from our calling. In his book The Call, Os Guinness writes,

God calls men and women who will be committed to their life tasks with no reservations, no retreats, no regrets.

This is true for all Christians, but is especially important to remember when disability enters our families. More on this later. The needs of grandchildren and their parents help define the grandparent’s role. Grandchildren are royal blessings. Proverbs 17:6 tells us, Children’s children are a crown to the aged.

But what if your crown is not what you expected? What if your grandchild has a disability? This mini-book offers grandparents their honored place as kings and queens in their families. If the Lord has blessed you with a grandchild who has a disability, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to polish that precious and beautiful crown! Parenting a child with a disability can be a blessing. Grandparenting a child with a disability can be a delight! As the parent of a thirty-year old young lady who is blessed by two sets of godly grandparents, I have discovered that grandparents can make a crucial difference. Let me explain what I have learned from Scripture and from how my daughter’s grandparents illustrate its principles.

And that’s exactly what Dave Deuel does in HELP! My Grandchild Has a Disability, from Shepherd Press, in partnership with Joni & Friends. Here’s the Table of Contents.

  1. What Is a Biblical Grandparent?
  2. What Should Biblical Grandparents Do?
  3. What Should Biblical Grandparents Not Do?
  4. How Can Biblical Grandparents Prepare for the Future?

Dave Deuel, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow – Policy and Publications, the Christian Institute at Joni and Friends, and Academic Dean Emeritus, the Master’s Academy International. In addition to serving in seminary and pastoral ministry he also serves in advisory and policy roles for disability organizations including the State Council on Disability for California.

[This post is excerpted from Dave’s mini-book.]

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May 7, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

How to Love Your Muslim Neighbor – How is the Lord inviting you to share His heart for the Muslim world?

Personality Traits – A Truth in Love podcast with Jeremy Pierre.

Porn Is Not Ultimately About Sex – “The first and primary way the church must respond to the problem of pornography is to admit that she herself has this problem. It is not simply a sin out there committed by “those people.”

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May 6, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Together Forever

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

Together…with God…forever. Just imagine!

There, in the city of God, all believers will dwell with the one who is worthy of eternal worship because he was slain, and by his blood he “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Life with God, which began in the Garden of Eden, will be restored in another garden. This time a heavenly one.

The curse reversed. Glory restored.

This is the Bible’s big story—the story of God’s redemption of helpless and unworthy sinners, at great cost, to recover his glory, and share it with us once again. Blissful joy and peace will return, for “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man…and God himself will be with them.”

What glory!

Yet our future glory is not merely the restoration of the original state, as glorious as that would be. It is even better, since every person there will know the reality of saving grace. Worship will pour forth from an untold number of rescued sinners who know that they don’t deserve to be there. Unreserved praise will be unending. Together we will sing:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! (Revelation 5:12)

Better than living with him is God dwelling with us…as our God. As it’s been from the beginning, so it will forever be: God initiates fellowship with us.

What grace!

In the company of the Savior there is no more sorrow. No more loss. His presence makes all the difference. Now rescued from the penalty and power of sin, one day you will be delivered from the very presence of sin. One day your groaning will end. One day your adoption will be complete (Romans 8:23).

God himself will dwell with you…forever.

Never again will you feel alone.

Every one of your losses will find its eternal resting place in his joyful presence. For God himself “will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Jesus himself “testifies to these things [and] says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

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May 3, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Honorable Memories of Warren Wiersbe

Yesterday, a faithful servant of God, Warren W. Wiersbe, entered the presence of his precious Savior. In the early 1980s, I was a spiritual infant when I first heard Dr. Wiersbe’s voice on the Back to the Bible radio program (my mother-in-law listened to him every day while she sewed draperies and slip-covers). A couple years later, while in Bible college in Kansas City, I found myself listening to him most every day, while driving to my job at UPS, or working in a wood shop the school let me use for side jobs. Then there’s so much I could say about his influence through books…. But where to begin?!

Join me in thanking God for this faithful servant.

Here are three better-written tributes you should read: one from a grandson, one from a theologian/writer, and one from a fellow pastor.

Be Remembered: My Grandpa, the Bridge Builder – Here’s a tender tribute from his grandson.

Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) – Justin Taylor offers a concise summary of Dr. Wiersbe’s life of gospel ministry.

A Faithful Servant – Pastor John Kitchen: “I found Dr. Warren Wiersbe to be a gracious, kind man. He was a man of great conviction and strength. He was a ravenous student of the Scriptures and he lived out a lifetime of faithful ministry for the Lord.”

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May 3, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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The Liberating Truth of Romans 6

Many Christians live defeated spiritual lives. They may not want to live this way, but they have not been able to overcome issues in their lives that impede their spiritual growth. Many are crippled by fears, consumed with worries, quick to become angry, and given to lustful thoughts. Some are enslaved to alcohol, drugs, or pornography. Others have struggling marriages because they have not been able to overcome a bad temper, a biting tongue, or an unforgiving spirit. Consequently, they are trapped into thinking that it is impossible to change sinful habits, thoughts, and tendencies they have been characterized by for years and, as a result, adopt a defeatist attitude.

So writes Armand Tiffe in his new booklet The Liberating Truth of Romans 6. He is convinced, and rightly so, that too many believers do not know who they are in Christ, or how to apply the truths concerning their new position in Christ. To illustrate, he shares a powerful story.

In 1972, an incredible thing happened on the Island of Guam. A World War Two Japanese soldier came out of the jungle he had been hiding in for 27 years. Why was he hiding in the jungle for all those years? Because in 1945, when it was reported that the war had ended, he refused to believe it. He refused to believe that Japan had surrendered, so he remained in that jungle for 27 years hiding in underground caves. Now, here is a question to ponder. During those 27 years, was he free to return to his homeland? Technically, officially speaking, at any time between 1945 and 1972, he was free to come out of that jungle and return to his homeland, just as many other Japanese soldiers did. However, because he did not want to believe the war was over, he lived in a self-imposed bondage in that jungle for 27 years. Was he free? Technically, yes, but not in reality because he chose to live in bondage. In the same way, many Christians are living in the jungle of sin, even though Jesus Christ has defeated the power of sin in their lives. They have been set free from sins domain, but refuse to believe it, so they go on living in a self-imposed bondage to sinful habits, thoughts, and tendencies.

Understanding who you are in Christ (dead to sin, and alive to God) is not only an essential piece of the “sanctification puzzle,” so to speak, but a rich truth that should lead to humility toward God, and grace toward others.

If you’re struggling to overcome personal sin, want to enrich your spiritual walk in Christ, or better equip yourself to come alongside others in grace and truth, understanding and applying Romans 6 is essential. Check out this new booklet.

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