Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

March 30, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Why “Happy Wife, Happy Life” Will Make You and Your Wife Miserable

Why “Happy Wife, Happy Life” Will Make You and Your Wife Miserable

Comedian Jeff Allen has recently capitalized on a humorous and catchy little modern proverb: “Happy wife, happy life.” His comedy is compelling, and his style engaging, but, like many catchphrases in Christian pop culture, his seemingly harmless comedy actually communicates falsehood. The truth is, the idea of “Happy wife, happy life” is not found in the Scriptures, and pursuing this advice will make both you and your wife miserable. Here are three biblical reasons.

  1. Neither you nor your wife knows what will make you happy. The assumption behind, “Happy wife, happy life” is that your wife knows what she wants, and your life would be happier if you would just give her what she says she wants. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches us that no one knows their own heart and, if there is one thing we do know, it is that the heart can easily be deceived. Eve got what she eventually wanted in the Garden of Eden, presumably while Adam was not far away. Adam was the original poster boy for “Happy wife, happy life,” and when Eve got what she eventually came to believe would make her happy, no one was laughing.
  1. Even if you give your wife what she says she wants, you cannot make her happy. We all come to realize that a new job, a new truck, a remodeled house or 2.4 healthy kids cannot make us happy. James teaches us that we do not even realize that we often ask wrongly for things that we intend to spend “on our own passions” (James 4:3). There is no more miserable person than one who receives the thing they set out to get only to find that cannot satisfy the longings of their heart. Conversely, the one who is pursuing Christ with all her heart can be content and satisfied even while enduring the most difficult of circumstances. Marriage cannot make one happy and, therefore, a spouse cannot make the other happy, either.
  1. You were not designed to make her happy. The Scriptures do not instruct a man to make his wife happy. Every person is made in the image of God and, therefore, a wife finds her ultimate meaning, worth and, yes, happiness, in him alone. Your wife was made to be complete in God. She will be most happy when she counts everything a loss compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8). When a husband gets in-between his wife and God he can easily become an idol. She may appeal to you, require of you, and even manipulate you. But life will eventually deliver circumstances which you cannot control or overcome. You will learn that God is God, and that husbands make lousy gods. She will find that her soul will be satisfied (made happy!) with nothing less than God himself.

So, what’s a husband to do?  Here are three actions for husbands who love Jesus:

  • Take initiative. Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife. Husbands, this means that you have been given an important role; and that, for God’s own reasons, he is holding you responsible, not for your wife’s happiness, but for the way you minister godliness in your home. Oh how our Christian homes will be impacted when the men step into the role that God has designed them for: not primarily to respond to the needs of our wife, but to set the pace in following closely after Christ!
  • Know the Word of God. Eve could’ve really received benefit from this. When you know the Word of God and are seeking to apply it first to your own heart, you have the credibility, boldness and wisdom to show your wife what the Word says by first doing it. Isn’t that what Paul is teaching us in Ephesians 5:26 when he speaks about a washing and sanctification that comes “with the word”? The church is in need of men who are actively pursuing God by actively pursuing his Word.
  • Understand the uniqueness your wife and then aim at the goal of giving her sacrificial love each and every day (1 Peter 3:7). But this does not equate to living each day to try to make her happy. Understanding your wife does not mean, “Try to keep her comfortable.” It means that we understand where our wife is weak, and we bring service, prayer, humility and love to cover that weakness. Does your wife struggle with body image? Was she abused? Is she an addict? Does her insecurity breed social anxiety? Does she avoid people who have hurt her? Is she pre-occupied with politics? My Christian friend, making her “happy” in these areas will not yield a “happy life.” Not for her or for you. So take initiative. Step into your role and bring a humble spirit as you pursue God with her.

Setting out to make your wife happy will not make your life happy. If this becomes your goal, you will experience failure, frustration and a string of fights. But if you will faithfully pursue Christ Jesus with all your heart and mind, you will begin to deliver to your wife what she really longs for, a godly husband.

[Today’s guest post is written by Jon MacDonald, Pastor of Family Life/Discipleship at Sheboygan Evangelical Free Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.]

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March 29, 2017
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.

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March 29, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS (March 29)

Publishing Is Scary – I totally agree. For me, being a published author is both a blessing and a curse.

5 Marks of a Servant Leader – “No earthly Christian leader is the perfect incarnation of these five fundamental marks of servanthood. Jesus alone bears that distinction.”

A Review of “How Sanctification Works” – David Dunham reviews David Powlison’s latest book.

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March 28, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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The Urgency of Ministry

Jesus is coming again. Though we do not know the exact time, and trying to figure that out is warned against in the Scriptures, we know He is coming, and his coming is imminent. We believe this. We also believe that knowing this should lead us to live differently. Our church’s Statement of Faith affirms the immanency of the return of Christ, and that this blessed hope has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. Jesus urged His disciples to live with the ever-present reality that He is coming again: Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).

First Peter 4:7 begins the final section of the apostle’s first letter with these words: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore.” Peter’s urgent call to ministry was based upon the fact that our time on earth is limited. We’ve all had enough time already to live for the flesh, but now that we know Christ we are to live for Him (see 4:1-2). The day is drawing near. Time is short. On the day Jesus returns, many will be ashamed because of laziness and procrastination. But let us each strive to live in such a way that we will not be ashamed when Jesus returns. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming (1 John 2:28).

In 1 Peter 4:7, the apostle calls us to be self-controlled (to have a cool head, balanced mind, and live in moderation) and sober-minded (calm, collected, and serious). Together, these words speak of having a disciplined mind, a mind focused on Christ. All of this, again, speaks of the priority of Christ-centered living. Christ-centered living begins with having a Christ-centered mind (see Colossians 3:1-4). Since the end of all things is at hand, we ought to be urgent about being active in ministry in the body of Christ.

The Activities of Urgent Ministry (v. 7-10)

If we really believe that Jesus is coming again it will impact how we approach serving His church. Peter draws out attention to 4 activities.

  • Pray earnestly (v. 7b). We should be disciplined in our mind “for the sake of” prayer. Effective prayer requires a disciplined mind (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is labor. It is spiritual work. It is not for the faint-hearted (Col. 4:12; Rom. 15:30).  Prayer is the God-ordained means through which we call down the power of God to act upon people and situations in our lives. Prayerlessness is a subtle sin (1 Sam. 12:23). The reasons we fail to pray are many: pride, laziness, stubbornness, anger, self-sufficiency, lack of conviction, lack of God-dependency.
  • Pursue love (v. 8). Keep loving; that is be “fervent” (NAS) in love. This speaks of intense love, love that is stretched out like a muscle. The words “above all” call attention to love as the supreme Christian virtue since love makes all the other virtues what they ought to be (1 Cor. 13:1-3; Col. 3:14). And Peter says we must keep loving because “love covers a multitude of sins.” A true Christian who truly loves others as God loves will be willing to forgive over and over again. One commentator writes, “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound – to Satan’s perverse delight.”
  • Practice hospitality (v. 9). To be hospitable is literally to be “friendly to strangers; a lover of strangers.” It means your home is open to anyone, not just family and friends. When was the last time you had a stranger over for a meal? In Peter’s day, there were many travelling Christians who had been cut off from their families because of their faith in Christ. They desperately needed the hospitality of other believers. We must practice hospitality without murmuring or grumbling. To grumble about your hospitality is to lose your blessing. Every believer is called to practice biblical hospitality, even to be eager about it (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:1-2). Hospitality is a powerful means to evangelism. A contemporary illustration of this is the conversion of Rosaria Butterfield, a prominent university professor in the fields of feminist and lesbian theory. Listen to her interview, Hospitality on Mission, with Desiring God ministries. How about you? Do you practice hospitality? Look at your calendar for the past year or two. Did you open your home to anyone? If so, who did you have over? Did you have any strangers over? Did you have over anyone who you are not related to by blood or marriage? Or who is not in your inner circle? The time is at hand. Therefore, let us practice love toward strangers!
  • Perform service (v. 10-11a). Peter makes it clear that “each one,” every believer has been given at least one spiritual gift to be employed in the service of the church. We must be “good stewards” of these gifts of grace by using them to edify the body (1 Cor. 12:1; 4:7). If we fail to use our gifts, the body of Christ suffers, and others must pick up our slack. “But,” you say, “I don’t know what my spiritual gift is.” Fine. Then get to work and see what it is. Are you eager to serve? Do you have initiative? Or must people beg and plead with you to serve? Jesus is coming again. Therefore, we must be active in serving the Lord and His church.

The Ambition of Urgent Ministry (v. 11b)

What should be the goal of our service? The proper motive for ministry and the use of spiritual gifts: the glory of God. Spiritual gifts are never given for the glory of the individual. If you have speaking gifts then be sure to speak the “oracles of God,” i.e. Scripture, the writings of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Teachers will be judged by a stricter standard. Therefore, do not depart from what is written (Titus 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3). If you have a serving gift then serve in “the strength of God,” not the strength of your own flesh. God is glorified by the growth of the body as believers use the gifts He has given to them.

What does it mean to live with “constant expectancy”?

Jesus is coming again. In light of this, we must be urgent about ministry. People are dying and going to Hell. We must rescue them. Christians are stuck in immaturity. We must help them to grow. Serving Christ this way means we must live with constant expectancy. What does constant expectancy mean? Here’s the answer I gave in my EFCA ordination paper, last year.

Constant expectancy for the believer implies a call to live in holiness and hope, longing for His return, being excited that He could return at any moment (Luke 12:40; Phil. 3:20; 1 John 2:28). We are called to be patient, and stand firm because His return is near (James 5:8). Constant expectancy also means we are to live with a sense of evangelistic urgency. He will come like a thief in the night and, therefore, we must be ready (1 Thess. 5:2). There is no prophesied event that must occur beforehand and, therefore, we must live with constant expectancy; we should want to be found “waiting,” but not passive (Jude 21). We are commanded to be “looking” for His appearing (Titus 2:13). The prayer of our heart should be “Even so, come. Lord Jesus, come” (Rev. 22:20).

[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]

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March 24, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Key to Spiritual Fruitfulness

The Key to Spiritual Fruitfulness

When God saves our soul he doesn’t intend for us to just coast to Glory. Jesus didn’t go to the cross to simply purchase our ticket to Paradise. For the rest of our days, God calls us to bear spiritual fruit. And not just a little; we’re to bear much fruit. When we bear much fruit, God is glorified.

What’s the key to much fruit-bearing?

Jesus gives us the answer in John 15:1-11.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

For hundreds of years, Israel was God’s vine and vineyard. They were the focus of God’s electing love and attention. Now, the true vine is Jesus. “I am the true vine,” he says in verse 1. Jesus is the source of spiritual life and energy and growth in the Christian life. Eternal life, spiritual growth, and fruitfulness come through Jesus. The vine isn’t alone, but has branches. Life-giving nourishment flows from the vine to the branches, which then bear fruit.

In this passage, we also see the vinedresser who is identified as the Father. The vinedresser cuts off the branches that don’t bear fruit, and prunes the branches that are bearing fruit, so they’ll bear more fruit. God prunes the true branches by removing anything from the branch that would drain their spiritual energy and prevent them from bearing fruit. In this whole picture, God’s concern is for the fruitfulness of his branches. His goal is not just fruit, but much fruit (vv. 5, 8)! Abundant fruitfulness should mark every believer in Christ.

What is spiritual fruit?

It seems clear from the context that fruit has to do with the kinds of results and effects that come from being vitally connected to and nourished by Jesus, the vine. It’s what comes along with being a growing disciple of Christ (v. 8). In the context of this passage we see several examples:

  • The result of effective prayer in Jesus’ name (v. 7)
  • Heartfelt obedience to Jesus’ commandments (v. 10)
  • Biblical, Christ-like love for one another in all its forms (v. 12)

We could name other kinds of fruit as well:

  • Conversions – seeing true disciples made (vv. 26-27)
  • Fruit of the Spirit – Spirit-wrought character qualities ( 5:22-23)
  • Spiritual growth, growth in Christ-like character, life-transformation
  • Conviction of sin and repentance
  • Praise and honor and glory to God
  • Sacrificial love that meets the needs of others, and so on.

But Jesus said we can’t do anything of eternal value, we can’t bear any fruit at all, apart from Him. Apart from Jesus, all our effort is fleshly and mixed with dross. “…As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…apart from me you can do nothing (vv. 4-5).

If we’re simply going through the motions, “playing church,” our ministry and our Christian life will be driven by fleshly effort, mechanics, and duty. We can’t expect blessing from God and spiritual fruit in those circumstances. We need to abide in Christ.

What does it mean to abide in the vine – to abide in Jesus?

First, believers are by definition abiding in the vine because of our conversion. Christ has given us life. We were grafted into the vine, given eternal life – spiritual life – where before, we were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-5).

But there’s also a volitional aspect – a lifestyle of closeness to Christ. Abide in him. Live in him. Put on Christ (Rom. 13:14). Let his words abide in you (vs. 7). Let the Word of God transform your thinking, your heart and your actions. Let it sink deep into your heart and then walk in it.

You and I need to stay plugged into the vine. We stay warm by staying close to the fire. Don’t neglect the basic spiritual disciplines that nurture your walk with Christ and keep you spiritually warm and close to the Lord. Be careful of trying to do the Christian life and lead your ministry apart from complete reliance on the Spirit of God and fervent prayer. That will lead to the bearing of fruit in a couple more ways.

  • It’ll maximize your joy!
    These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11).
  • And God will be glorified.
    By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (v. 8).

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? The deepest desire of our heart is that God would be glorified and his Kingdom would be advanced. Stay connected you will be fruitful.

[Today’s guest post is from Ed Fedor, associate pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]

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March 24, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS (March 24)

Marriage: God’s Good Idea? – Many who think about marriage and family wonder if the idea came from the jungle story, “Me Tarzan, you Jane; come with me to live in my tree house.”

Are Homeschool Families More Likely to Experience Divorce? – A challenge from Dannah Gresh: “As with most research projects, we can usually learn where our weaknesses are if we are able to swallow our pride as we revel in our strengths.”

The Common (Yet Neglected) Problem of Burnout – I am really looking forward to reading David Murray’s new book and being corrected and helped by it.

NEW BOOK FROM MATTHIAS MEDIA: The Path of Purity: Navigating sex and dating as a teenager

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March 22, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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6 Truths about Forgiveness

“Over and over again in the New Testament, Christians are reminded that God has forgiven all their sins through Christ’s death. And time and again, too, Christians are commanded to forgive.” So writes Julia Marsden, author of the little 10 of Those book entitled Forgiveness. As Julia begins her book, she clears up some misunderstandings about forgiveness and then draws five truths from Jesus’ parable at the end of Matthew 18, and then a sixth truth from the overall teaching of the New Testament.

  1. Forgiveness means it’s over. The debt which is owed is cancelled. “Forgiveness means that you let go of the file of that person’s sin. You stop holding on to it. You stop holding it against them. It’s over.” The book’s cover image of a chalkboard that has been erased beautifully portrays this truth.
  2. Forgiveness is pure grace. It is totally undeserved. “Forgiveness is pure grace. The person doesn’t deserve it. That is the point. And because of this, there are no limits to forgiveness. You never reach a point where you can say, ‘That’s too much, now.’”
  3. Forgiveness is a two-sided transaction. It take two to complete it. “Forgiveness is like giving someone a gift, or giving someone the hand of friendship. I can offer it. I can put out my hand to you. But if you don’t receive it, if you don’t put out your hand to accept mind, there is a sense in which forgiveness remains only half done.”
  4. Forgiveness is a decision of the will. You choose to do it. “I think we tend to think of forgiveness as an emotion. But the Bible talks about forgiveness as a decision of the will….Emotional change may follow, but forgiveness itself is a decision.”
  5. Forgiveness is like a key to a door. Its aim is to open the way to a restored relationship. “The context of Jesus’ story in Matthew 18 is reconciliation within the church family. Forgiveness is never an end in itself….Christ dies to end the divide and restore the relationship. Our forgiveness of others should have the same aim.”
  6. Forgiveness is possible because sin is fully and finally paid for. “When God forgives me, when He forgives you, He does so because our sin is paid for. Jesus paid for it as He died on the cross. He was paying the price for our sin, bearing the punishment our sin deserved.”

Pass the file to God…

The author wraps up her little book with this admonition:

When God calls on me to forgive, He is not calling on me to rip up the file of that person’s sin. He is asking me to let go of it and give it to Him to deal with. He is saying, “Pass it to Me. Leave it with Me. You can trust Me to deal with it.” You can trust Me to deal with it.” We find it hard to do that. But actually God is inviting us to walk in a pathway of great blessing. He is inviting us to give up carrying around the burden of that file, which pulls us down towards bitterness.”

We must take the matter of an unforgiving spirit seriously, for “refusing to forgive someone is spiritual suicide.”

“Forgiveness” is available from 10 of Those, and is also in Kindle format.

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March 22, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS (March 21)

Have the Difficult Conversation – Concerning confronting someone you love, Heidi Jo Fulk asks, “What might have happened if during that progression someone had confronted a friend about a change of mind or action they noticed?”

5 Things Infertile Couples Want Others to Know – “Childless couples want some help and support, but they are often silent about their struggle. Churches know the issue exists, but often don’t quite know what to do about it. What we’re left with is the proverbial elephant in the room.”

Marry Wisely, Marry Well – A new discipleship guide to prepare young men and women for marriage.

From the Archives: Suffering and Singing

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March 21, 2017
by Paul Tautges
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Making the Wisest Use of Our Time

Every week, each of us has 168 hours. If we were to try to account for those hours, we may allocate about 56 hours to sleep and 40-60 hours for employment, including commutes. That leaves 50-70 hours/week for shopping, education, family, church, and household responsibilities. Once all of that is factored into the equation, the Wall Street Journal recently concluded the average American still has 5 hours and 13 minutes a day for leisure activities. That should lead us to ask ourselves a few questions.

  • What do we usually do with those hours?
  • What did we do with them this past week?
  • How much time did we spend intentionally heeding the command of Scripture to live the Christ-centered life? If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:1-2).

If you and I are honest, we must admit that nothing is so easy to do as waste time, nothing is easier than simply coasting through the Christian life without the intentional pursuit of Christ. And yet, as new creatures in Christ, living for Him is our calling. As 2 Corinthians 5:15 states, Jesus died so that “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

We find the same message in the book of Ephesians. After spending three chapters lifting up the glory of God our Savior, the apostle calls us to walk in manner worthy of our calling in Christ (Eph. 4:1). Ephesians 4 then provides numerous examples of what attitudes and behaviors should characterize this new walk. Then, in the fifth chapter, we are called to walk in love, walk in holiness, walk in light, and walk in wisdom.

But what does it mean to walk in wisdom? In part, it means to use our time wisely (but we’ll get to that in a minute). To walk in wisdom means we must continually walk two ways.

Walk with care (vv. 15-16).

The apostle commands us to look carefully how we walk. The KJV says, “circumspectly.” The word means to walk by a strict standard. Kenneth Wuest, in his Greek Studies in the New Testament, illustrates the word this way: “It is like a motorist accurately following on the right side of the center line dividing traffic.” Walking carefully means heeding 1 Thessalonians 5:22, to abstain from every form of evil. Our walk is the conduct of our lives, which should not be unwise like Nabal in the Old Testament, who was known for being a foolish man, or the five foolish virgins who did not prepare for the future, especially eternity.

Instead, we are to walk with wisdom, which refers to applying the knowledge we have acquired. A wise man is one who lives by a strict standard, a standard that is established by his study and understanding of God’s Word. This is what it means to walk carefully. An anonymous author described the circumspect life in his or her poem entitled Be Careful.

Be careful of your thoughts
For your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words
For your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions
For your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits
For your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character
For your character becomes your destiny.

Walking with care means making the best use of the time. This phrase means to buy up at the market place; i.e. seize the opportunity. Why? Because the days are evil. We live in a day when evil is more than passive, it is active evil; evil in active opposition to good; moral corruption. The world is evil and needs the Lord. We must seize the day, using our time wisely for the advancement of the gospel (Col. 4:5). Our days are limited. We must use them for the sake of Christ.

Walk with understanding (v. 17).

The apostle continues his call to walk in wisdom by saying we should not be foolish; i.e. without understanding, senseless. The word refers to imprudence, folly in action, stupidity. In other words, the apostle is telling us it is senseless to live our lives without conscious thought of the will of God. Instead we are to understand the will of the Lord. This spiritual understanding is something we gain from the Word of God, but also through prayer (see Colossians 1:9-10).

Spiritual understanding begins with a posture of reverence toward God and His Word. Psalm 111:10 says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.  Understanding the will of God comes when we offer our life to him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2).

Life is short. It is too short to waste in the pursuit of our own will. Therefore, how will we use the hours and years the Lord gives to us? Will we use them carefully and wisely?  Or will we spend them foolishly? This poem and prayer by A. B. Simpson has always convicted my own heart. Consider its message.

God has his best things for the few
That dare to stand the test.
He has his second choice for those
Who will not have his best.

It is not always open ill
That risks the promised rest.
The better often is the foe
That keeps us from the best.

Give me, O Lord, thy highest choice;
Let others take the rest.
Their good things have no charm for me
For I have got the best.

[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon.]

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March 20, 2017
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 10 Ways to Strengthen the Partnership between Home and Church

10 Ways to Strengthen the Partnership between Home and Church

A strong partnership between the home and the church is essential in helping develop young disciples.  Children’s Ministry in general, and especially Sunday School, is one format of discipleship that offers a unique opportunity to bring the joy of the gospel to the younger generation.  A strong partnership of parents (and grandparents) and Sunday School staff is essential to the spiritual growth of our children.

If you’re a parent, here are a few practical ways for you to take advantage of the partnership with the church in helping your child grow spiritually:

  • Before coming to Sunday School, pray together for their time in Sunday School. Taking time to pray builds a bond between your child, their teachers, and other children in their classroom. It helps prepare their heart to receive biblical instruction. And these prayers will also help strengthen their faith in God as they see God answer their prayers.
  • Pray for the Children’s Ministry, and specifically your child’s Sunday School teachers.  Perhaps you could even ask the teacher if there are specific ways you can pray for him/her and for the class.  Make this a part of your family prayer time or your own personal prayer time.  Pray for the teachers as they prepare during the week and for their teaching on Sunday morning. Pray that the children’s hearts will be soft, will respond at a young age to the gospel, and will grow and wisdom and Christ-likeness.
  • Get to know your child’s teachers and help them get to know your child.  Share with them about your child (e.g. their spiritual condition, their struggles, what helps them focus, any disabilities, medication, allergies).  It can also be helpful to share any pertinent family information such as a death in the family, chronic illnesses, or other difficult trials. These bits of information will help the teachers not only minister most effectively to your child, but will also help them know how to pray for your child.
  • Bring your child to class on time. Sunday School starts at the same time as the worship service.  Arriving late means everyone loses out on an important part of the morning and to some extent disrupts others.  Before dropping off your child be sure to take them to the restroom.
  • During the week review the GIFT Workbook (Growing in Faith Together workbook that your child brought home in September).  These pages (which correspond with the lesson taught the previous Sunday) will help you partner with the church in teaching your child sound doctrine and Scripture.  Going over these pages together will help your child put into practice the truths they learned in Sunday School.
  • During the week learn and review the church-wide Scripture Memory Verse with your child.  Memorizing can be done through repetition, games, competition, or activities.  Make sure to include ample discussion and application regarding the verse.
  • Offer to help. Ask the Children’s Ministry Director if there are ways you can help the Children’s Ministry. This might include teaching or helping in a classroom, providing snacks, decorating the rooms, preparing materials, or planning events.  Children love to see parents involved in their activities.
  • Let your child’s Sunday School teacher know you’re grateful for their ministry and sacrifice.  Teachers spend hours of their own time preparing the curriculum and sacrifice their own time in the worship service to teach each month.  Encourage your child to also express their gratitude to their teachers.
  • Reinforce with your child what kind of behavior will honor God and their teachers.  Teaching a room full of children can be a challenge on many levels.  Dealing with disrespectful or uncooperative children disrupts the entire class. Talk to your child about their behavior and participation in the Sunday School classroom.  For young children it will be helpful to remind them of this each week before they go to class.  If the teacher shares a concern about your child’s behavior, take time to understand the situation, talk with your child in a loving, but firm way, and let the teacher know you want to help make their job easier.  It might be helpful to talk to your child along with the teacher so that the child cannot make excuses and knows that both sets of adults are on the same page.
  • Make Sunday worship and Sunday School a priority.  Many things today compete for our time and attention.  Missing church not only means missing important teaching, worship and fellowship, it also conveys to children what is or isn’t most important in life.  Keep the Lord’s Day the Lord’s Day!

God has given us a wonderful plan for partnership between parents and the church by which we can implant the Word of God into children’s heart. What a unique blessing for children to grow up with their parents and their church working together to show them Jesus!

[Today’s guest post is written by Bobette Hatteberg, Children’s Ministry Director at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]

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