Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

April 11, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Racism, Sin & Scripture: A Response to Thabiti Anyabwile – “Any teaching or encouragement to look on any human as less than an image-bearer of God who has dignity and is worthy of respect is guilty of bearing false witness and breaks the 9th Commandment. Anyone who subjects another person to unjustified violence on the basis of skin color is guilty of murder and breaks the 6th Commandment. Anyone who, simply on the basis of skin color, prevents access to opportunities or resources that belong lawfully to people is guilty of stealing and breaks the 8th Commandment.”

Cultivating Praise in Marriage – “Genuine praise and verbalized thankfulness are like marital fertilizer.”

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April 10, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 40 Questions to Help Discern Factors Contributing to Depression

40 Questions to Help Discern Factors Contributing to Depression

Last week, I was blessed to teach a two-hour seminar in our church’s discipleship counseling training center on the subject of depression. First, I shared my own personal experience with depression and anxiety, and then drew attention to the experiences of people in the Bible. Together, we noticed how they were tested, worked through their times of distress and despair, and how they reached out to the Lord for help. One student asked for a list of questions which might be helpful to ask the person who is struggling with depression. What a great question! Consequently, I reached out to our church’s team of counselors. Here’s what we came up with, but, as you will quickly realize, the questions are applicable to a multitude of struggles beyond depression.

  1. What do you mean when you say you are depressed?
  2. How long have you felt depressed?
  3. Have you ever felt like this before? If so, when?
  4. Why do you think you are depressed?
  5. Have you recently suffered loss in any form (E.g. death of a loved one, loss of employment, financial setback, decline in health)?
  6. Have you recently received bad news of some sort that you are having a hard time accepting?
  7. Is there a relationship with someone that is breaking down, disappointing you, or coming to an end? Are you under spiritual attack?
  8. What has changed in your life recently that might be making you feel depressed?
  9. When was the last time you had a complete physical check-up with your family physician?
  10. Are you currently receiving any form of treatment for depression?
  11. How often do you exercise? For how long?
  12. How do you think God fits into all of this?
  13. Has God been teaching you anything about yourself or your circumstances?
  14. What do you think God might want to teach you while you walk through this valley? How might He want to help your faith grow stronger?
  15. What have you done to try to deal with your depressed feelings?
  16. What have you done to try to deal with your difficult circumstances?
  17. What do you think would make things better?
  18. What are you thinking about when you awake first thing in the morning?
  19. Can you tell me anything that encouraged you recently from a sermon at church?
  20. What two words would you use to describe your prayer life?
  21. Is there any ongoing or unresolved conflict in your life? If so, have you done all that is in your power to resolve it?
  22. Sometimes depression is related to anger. Do you think you are perhaps angry at God for taking something or someone away from you?
  23. Often depression is a brother to anxiety. Is there anything in particular that you are worried about?
  24. Do you feel badly about something you did in the past, or something done to you?
  25. Is there anything you have done that is causing you to feel ashamed?
  26. What is one thing you really want to get out of life? Do you think you are currently getting this?
  27. Is there any person in your life whom you feel you will never be able to please?
  28. Is there anything or anyone you believe you could never live without?
  29. Are there habits you practice to make yourself feel better, but then realize later that it did not last? For example, do you eat in excess when you are depressed?
  30. What kind of music do you listen to? Does it encourage your soul? Does it direct your heart to hope in God?
  31. Are there unfinished tasks weighing on your mind? How do you spend your free time?
  32. Is there any area of your life where you are disobeying God? Is there sin you are cherishing or refusing to confess?
  33. Is your depression affecting you physically?
  34. How many hours a day do you sleep?
  35. Is there anything that keeps you awake at night?
  36. Do you have a trustworthy friend to talk openly with about the things that bother you?
  37. Do you read the Bible regularly? Is there a Bible verse that has recently encouraged you?
  38. Would you consider yourself a perfectionist? Is there a failed expectation you cannot accept?
  39. Are you over-committed? Have you over-extended yourself financially, at work, at church?
  40. Do you ever feel like a failure? Why? Is there a goal that you have failed to meet?

A foolish person jumps to conclusions before trying hard to understand a person’s situation. But Proverbs 20:5 teaches us the importance of seeking understanding: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Remember, an accusation often hardens the will leading to resistance, but a question often stirs the heart leading to understanding.

Additional Resources on Depression & Spiritual Discouragement

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April 10, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS

NUGGETS

Leaders Are Readers – reading is a pipeline for ideas

Strength for Today, Hope for Tomorrow – encouraging thoughts on holding on to God

You Were Born to Fight – “It is time to stop being surprised that you and the people you love are inclined to fight.”

Are There Degrees of Sin? – “The idea of gradation of sin and reward is based upon God’s justice.”

How Facebook Is Taking Away Your Freedom of Access – This article, along with last week’s from Tim Challies, led me to create a Feedly account…and I’m loving it.

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April 9, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Every Member Ministry

Every Member Ministry

One of the unique qualities of a biblical church is the understanding and application of what we may call every member ministry.

Let me briefly explain what I mean.

According to Scripture, every person is uniquely created by God, and every believer in Christ is spiritually gifted by the Holy Spirit to edify the church. This means that every person in the church—young and old alike—is an essential means to the proper functioning of the body of Christ.

This is made crystal clear in the book of Ephesians. For example, a key responsibility of church leaders is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). As leaders equip each person in the church to serve in his or her particular way(s), this proper functioning contributes to our growth toward spiritual maturity. This growth is partly measured by our attaining to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13). However, knowledge alone does not equal spiritual maturity. Therefore, the apostle goes on to say that our growth in Christ will also be marked by “each part working properly,” and it is the service of every person which “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16).

[First published on the Cornerstone Community Church blog.]

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April 7, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Does Your Heart Run on Hype? – “In corporate worship we find something far better than a typical rush of feeling.”

Jonathan Edwards and Why I’m a Cessasionist – “Scripture demands we test the spirits to discern if they originate with God (1 John 4:1).”

Be a Gospel Neighbor – “Being a good neighbor is a crucial component to being a faithful evangelist.”

Parenting a Disabled Child – Brief CCEF podcast.

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April 6, 2018
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Holy Spirit Is Praying for You

The Holy Spirit Is Praying for You

We need God’s grace in our times of weakness. But we also need the Spirit to pray for us because our knowledge is not complete—we are ignorant of some things. Matthew Henry writes, “We are not competent judges of our own condition … We are short-sighted, and very much biased in favour of the flesh, and apt to separate the end from the way … We are like foolish children, that are ready to cry for fruit before it is ripe and fit for them.” One of my young daughters loves to eat pears, but she does not know how to tell when they are ripe. As a result, she will often grab a hard, green pear off the kitchen counter, take one bite, and leave the rest behind, claiming “it is too hard.” We often do the same. We want the “fruit” that God is preparing for our future (we may even know what it is), but we want it now, before it is ripe and before we are ready. We are ignorant of what is best for us because we are not fully aware of our weakness, and may not be aware of the maturing process God is performing within us.

The Spirit’s “Wordless” Prayers

We don’t know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit is not ignorant—and he prays for us according to perfect knowledge. He prays with “groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). A better way to translate this is “wordlessly.” The Spirit pleads on our behalf in longings that are inexpressible in words. This is non-verbal prayer. The prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit—his groaning for us—is silent.

The Spirit’s Knowledge Is Perfect

The Holy Spirit prays for us because God’s knowledge is perfect (Rom. 8:27). The passage continues, “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is.” This speaks of the omniscience of God. When David charged his son Solomon to serve God he reminded him, “the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts” (1 Chr. 28:9). To the church at Thyatira, Jesus described himself as “He who searches the minds and hearts” (Rev. 2:23). God the Father already knows what the Spirit is thinking. That’s why there is no need for the Spirit’s groaning to be verbalized. He prays for us “according to the will of God.” What great confidence this brings! The Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God (1 Cor. 2:11), and the Father knows the thoughts of the Spirit. This means the two are always in full agreement. Since the thoughts of God are revealed by the Spirit in words (1 Cor. 2:13), his prayers never contradict God’s written Word, the Bible. This is crucial for us to understand since we can be guilty of fleshly prayer that is not always in sync with the will of God. R. C. Sproul writes,

Professing Christians often ask God to bless or sanction their sin. They are even capable of telling their friends they have prayed about a certain matter and God has given them peace despite what they prayed for was contrary to His will. Such prayers are thinly veiled acts of blasphemy, and we add insult to God when we dare to announce that His Spirit has sanctioned our sin by giving us peace in our souls. Such a peace is a carnal peace and has nothing to do with the peace that passes understanding, the peace that the Spirit is pleased to grant to those who love God and love His law.

Here is where the Spirit helps us immensely. In our ignorance, or even in our fleshly determination to see our own will be done, we often fail to pray according to God’s perfect will. We may pray with our mouths, “Thy will be done,” but mean in our hearts, “My will be done.” The Holy Spirit does not possess that same inconsistency. He always intercedes according to the will of God!

All Because of Christ, the Mediator

This intercession of the Spirit is only true for believers since the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit flows out of the ministry of Christ as our Mediator. Several verses later in Romans 8 we read, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:33–34). Hebrews 7:25 affirms, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

[Excerpted from the chapter entitled When the Holy Spirit Prays in Pray about Everything.]

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April 5, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Pondering the Horrors of Hell

“A lot of Christians today want to say, ‘Surely it is better to think of hell as a place where there will be some temporary punishments until eventually people simply lose all consciousness: annihilation.’ Others think that it is manipulative and cruel to think of hell at all: ‘Just talk about the love of God.’” These observations from D.A. Carson’s book, The God Who Is There, are then followed by four truths to ponder.

These are important for anyone who ministers the Word of God in any context.

  1. The person in the Bible who talks most of Hell is Jesus. “There are no friends in hell. Jesus speaks of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. So it is not surprising that he weeps over the city when people in it do not repent and believe.” Read Matthew 10:28.
  2. There Are Some Small Hints that this place of suffering goes on. “It is an illusory comfort to suppose that those who end up here will eventually be annihilated.” Read Revelation 20:9-10.
  3. Those in Hell can no longer repent. “Hell is full of people who do not want to bend the knee.” Read Revelation 22:11.
  4. Any Christian who teaches on these things without tears is betraying Jesus. “Christian faith and thought are not helped by angry preachers whose tone almost suggests that they take a kind of vicious glee from the tragic end of others.” Read Matthew 9:36, Acts 20:31, and Romans 9:3.

When was the last time you pondered the reality of hell, eternal condemnation under the wrath of God? Eight years ago, I preached a sermon entitled Hell: A Horrifying Reality. You may wish to listen here.

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April 5, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

3 Attributes of the Truly Victorious Christian Life – “Victory in Jesus is not equivalent to an exemption from trouble.”

If They Fell, So Can You – “Our sinful weaknesses need not lead us to despair. Instead, they can lead us to hope in the one who is greater than our sin.”

Hell: A Horrifying Reality – When you understand Jesus’ teaching on Hell, you will never be able to preach the gospel or plead with sinners without tears.

God’s Work in Your Depression – A helpful 10-minute audio response from John Piper.

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April 4, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World

Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World is a simple, 45-page book that gives parents immediate help. The author, Eliza Huie, is a parent and Christian counselor who takes us through, practically, how to walk with our teens in the midst of this hyper–sexualized world. This book is for parents who need help right now. It is for parents who are fearful they have waited too long or haven’t talked enough. It is for parents whose teens are making concerning choices. It is for parents who think their teens have escaped being challenged in the area of sexuality.

The book’s content consists of seven tips which come in the form of what not to do, yet does so without giving a sense of judgment or failure. Instead, this short book takes a look at the value of re-framing the mistakes both parents and teens may have already made and gives a hopeful picture of how our compassionate Father moves toward us in weakness.

Seven Tips

  1. Don’t overreact. “In situations like this it is very challenging for parents to know how to respond. As a parent your heart is breaking. You question yourself and your child all at the same time. Perhaps there is anger mixed with pain.”
  2. Don’t preach or lecture. “This doesn’t mean that you will not speaking into their lives. You will. It means that conversations look very different in the teen years. Talk less and listen more.”
  3. Don’t disconnect. “Stay connected to their relationships. Know their friends. Make their friends comfortable when they are in your home. No matter how messy, stinky, or loud they may be, welcome them.”
  4. Don’t think, “Not my kid.” “Adopting the mindset that your kids won’t struggle with sexual sin and temptation because of their Christian family, carefully guarded influences, or schooling choice is probably one of the most dangerous ideas to believe when it comes to raising teens.”
  5. Don’t avoid discussing the changes they are experiencing. “Walking with our teenagers in this can help them understand how to keep these natural changes in line with what God has laid out for their sexuality.”
  6. Don’t underestimate the role you play in your teen’s life. “Talking to your kids early about sex does not incite temptation; it causes them to see this is a subject that can be talked about with you.”
  7. Don’t send the wrong messages about sex. “If the only time you mention sex is in talking about how to avoid it, you may send them the message that sex is a bad thing and this could not be further from the truth.”

This little book from an experienced counselor gives hope-filled counsel to parents, guiding them to create an environment where failure is not final, but where every failure is part of their story that God is writing and redeeming.

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April 3, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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For the Love of Discipline

Sara Wallace, a mother of five, has written a new parenting book that I’m excited about. In For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs brings you a personal, frank account of her own journey with discipline—and introduces an entirely new way to look at it. Not as something we do to our children, but as something we do for them . . . not as a necessary evil, but as a beautiful privilege!

We can be glad when our children disobey while still in our care—they are showing us where they need to be strengthened and encouraged, giving us a chance to shape their hearts.

Would you like to feel equipped, and excited, to discipline? Here are practical tools, specific skills, a solid gospel foundation, and specific day-by-day things you can say and do to make disciplining your children intentional and consistent.

Here’s my endorsement…

“I don’t know the last time I read such a refreshing, biblically balanced parenting book. . . . Sara Wallace navigates through both plain and tricky areas of child discipline. . . . I highly recommend this little treasure.”

Pre-order this wonderful little book here.

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