Counseling One Another

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

Counseling One Another

February 7, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on HELP! I’m in a Painful Marriage – Biblical Encouragement for Christian Wives

HELP! I’m in a Painful Marriage – Biblical Encouragement for Christian Wives

“Sister, you are not alone,” writes Carrie Foldberg. “As a biblical counselor, I am contacted time and time again by hurting wives who are desperate for help with how to respond to their husbands’ past, or ongoing, sin. I’m also familiar with this pain as a wife. I went through a difficult season in my own marriage before my husband became a believer in Christ, and even for a short time afterward as he struggled with the effects of combat trauma. I felt there was something terribly wrong with me as a Christian wife, or wrong with us as a family. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was embarrassed by my own failings and did not want to disparage my husband.”

Perhaps you feel the same.

If so, you will be helped and encouraged by a new LifeLine mini-book. Here you will find faithful counsel from the Scriptures.

Foldberg continues, “It was a great encouragement and comfort to me to learn that it is common for a wife to experience emotional and relational pain as a result of her husband’s sin struggles. But this Scripture is true: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful . . . (1 Corinthians 10:13a, emphasis added). God faithfully led me through those painful years. It is now my great joy and privilege to serve alongside my husband—truly the love of my life— sharing hope and help in Christ with those whose lives have been impacted by combat trauma.

Learn how the Lord helped Carrie, and can help you too, in HELP! I’m In a Painful Marriage.

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February 5, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on By His Wounds We Are Healed

By His Wounds We Are Healed

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV)

Jesus was tragically wounded, but not every injury was visible. He was bruised because of our sins, but not all of his hurts could be seen. Often that is the way it is with grief. Loss is frequently an invisible wound.

When the Bible speaks of the sufferings of Jesus, it is, of course, referring to physical abuse. He was whipped and spat upon. But it’s talking about more than this. It also records the verbal assaults the Savior endured. And, most painful of all, Jesus was separated from the fellowship of his Father on that first Good Friday when, for three hours, “there was darkness over the whole land” (Mark 15:33).

 When we think about the crucifixion of Jesus, it’s usually the scourging, the crown of thorns, or the insulting soldier we remember. But what about what happened to Jesus in the darkness? What about when the Father turned his back on his only Son, because God is too pure to look at sin? (Habakkuk 1:13). That past darkness proves that our sin, which Jesus carried, could only be forgiven one way—by God meeting his own standard.

The “chastisement for our peace;” that is, the penalty that had to be paid in order for us to have peace with God, was laid “upon him.” The Prince of Peace voluntarily submitted to divine punishment so that you and I could be reconciled to God. Indeed, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

This is the basis of your healing. By his “stripes [Jesus’ suffering] you “are healed.” The healing of the breach between sinful man, and holy God, is what Jesus accomplished for you. But in accomplishing this spiritual healing, the road was paved for the healing of all your hurts when, one day, you see your Savior face to face. Until then, you “groan inwardly as you wait eagerly for adoption as sons” (Romans 8:23).

In the Son of God you have a man who is more than qualified to comfort you, since he is well acquainted with grief. Though he suffered unimaginable loss, he triumphed in the end. Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven, you can have confident hope that all your hurts will one day be healed in heaven.

Think about the day when God “will wipe away every tear” from your eyes (Revelation 21:4).

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February 4, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Worry May Indicate You Need to Reassess Your Values

Worry May Indicate You Need to Reassess Your Values

In Jesus’ teaching on worry, Philip De Courcy writes, “Jesus prescribes a reassessment. He asks, ‘Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?’ (Matthew 6:25). And then he directs them to “Look at the birds of the air.” Why? He explains, “Your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (v. 26). Then he adds,

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow . . . and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (vv. 28–30)

His argument is simple: worry arises when we put high price tags on the wrong things. In essence, Jesus corrects his listeners for overvaluing the temporal and undervaluing the eternal. They were worried about food and clothing instead of about their life and walk with God. So they needed to reassess their values. They needed a fresh understanding of what God treasures, and they needed to be convinced of their own value to God. If they really grasped these, they would cease their fussing and fretting. To this end, Jesus applied logic.

From the Greater to the Lesser

In the tradition of a Jewish rabbi, Jesus employs the standard “how much more” argument. He argues from the greater to the lesser in regard to life and food, then he turns that argument on its head and argues from the lesser to the greater in relationship to man and the surrounding creation. He wants his listeners to see that some things are more important than others and to believe that they themselves are most important to God. Why should they worry when they are valuable to God, when their heavenly Father has promised to take care of his children? If God gave us life, will he not give us the things necessary for life (v. 25)? Why would he give us life, but not give us food to sustain it? Why would he give us a body, but not provide clothes? If he does the greater thing, will he not do the lesser thing? Of course he will! This principle became clear to me many years ago in a jewelry store in Belfast, when I purchased my wife’s engagement ring. After I shelled out the money, I asked the lady behind the counter, “Do I get a box with it?” After first looking at me as if I was the village idiot, she then smiled and said, “Yes, sir. Of course! You’re buying a ring. We’ll give you a box.” It was as if she was saying, “Since you’re spending this amount of money, we’ll pay the five bucks for the pretty little box to put it in, for you to give to your sweetheart.” The one included the other. What jeweler wouldn’t give you a cheap box if you bought an expensive ring? It’s the same argument that Jesus makes here. If God gives us life, will he not also give us what is necessary to live that life for his glory?

From the Lesser to the Greater

Then Jesus reverses the argument, moving from the lesser to the greater. He draws from the surrounding creation and says, in effect, “Hold on a minute, guys. Here you are worrying about what you’re going to eat, but look at the birds of the air. They’re not worried about what they’re going to eat; your heavenly Father feeds them. And you guys are worried about what you’re going to wear? If you’d just look at the meadows and consider the beauty of the lilies, you’d recognize how God has graced his creation with a splash of color. The beauty and the appeal of these far outweigh Solomon and all his splendor! The flowers don’t worry, yet God clothes the field. Even to the grass he gives color—grass which is going to be cut down tomorrow and used to fire up the ovens so the women can cook. So tell me this: What is more important? The birds or you? The lilies of the field or you? Look at the created order and stop worrying!”

And even though mankind rebelled against God’s rule, thus turning the good into bad, God did not abandon them. Even at the point of departure God made the promise of redemption (Genesis 3:15). Even now, God is redeeming sinners through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, and sealing believers with the Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). The redeemed community of believers are the apple of his eye, his treasure, his particular people. He says, “Don’t you get it, guys? The God who takes care of the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field: are you not worth much more to him than they are? Are you not much more valuable than one of them? Yes, you are! You need to reassess your value system.”

If God takes care of the lesser creatures, will he not take care of the greater? Man is the crown of God’s creation (Psalm 8). At the end of the sixth day, God made man in his own image to have fellowship with him and to reflect God’s glory: Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

[This post is excerpted from Philip De Courcy’s new mini-book, HELP! I’m Anxious, which includes personal Bible study application projects.]

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February 4, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS

NUGGETS

Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche: What’s the Best Method to Pay Off My Debt? – “There are two main approaches to paying off debt – the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods. These methods are similar and reliable to help you get out of debt faster and with less interest. But is one better than the other? We will look at the pros and cons of each.”

Adults and Our Relationship to Jesus – This brief video answers this question: “What are some patterns of adulthood that frustrate our relationship with Jesus?”

Looking Into Mirrors – Joni Eareckson Tada encourages us to look into the mirror of the Word.

Failure Is Not Final – Philip De Courcy: “The God of the Bible is the God of the second chance, a God who prefers to mend rather than discard.”

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February 1, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Under His Wings

Under His Wings

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4)

God is attentive to the needs of his children. And he is aware of your fears. Like a mother bird hides her young under the protective covering of her wings, so God shields you with his faithfulness. It is here “you will find refuge.”

When David hid from Saul in a cave, he drew comfort from the truth this same image conveys:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by. (Psalm 57:1)

Of course, we know that God does not have arms like a man or wings like a bird. These figures of speech are employed to remind us how much our God loves, cares, and holds us up in times of trial. He covers us with His wings to protect us from the storms of life, which are usually unpredictable.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent. (Psalm 91:10)

The unpredictability is usually at least part of the reason fear accompanies loss. Sometimes it precedes it. “I see what’s coming, and I’m afraid.” Other times, it follows. “What now?!” Most often, it’s all three. Before, during, and after the finality of the loss, fear creeps in. But when you are fearful you can hide in him.

Run to God, not away from him. His strong, loving protection will surround you, as Moses testifies, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). The expressive words “everlasting arms” illustrate the Creator’s strong protection and tender care.

This is the careful attention you can count on from the Lord. He knows your sorrows. He knows your fears. He knows you are tired and weary. And he has promised to keep you safe. The Lord is your hiding place.

Are you hiding safely in him? Are you resting under his wings?

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January 31, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on 5 Ways Listening Helps You Become More Gracious

5 Ways Listening Helps You Become More Gracious

For the past few months, I’ve mentioned a couple times (here and here) the profit that our church staff is receiving from reading a book together, Graciousness: Tempering Truth with Love, by John Crotts.

In Chapter 7, “Cultivating a Gracious Mindset Toward Others,” one section in particular recently stimulated our discussion. This section encourages us to become better listeners which, in turn, will help us grow in graciousness. In this section, Crotts explains five ways listening helps us.

  • Listening well shows respect for the other person in the conversation. The brother for whom Christ died or the sinner in need of the grace Christians have received deserves a respectful ear. Listening itself shows respect, but it also puts the listener in a mind-set of respect.
  • Listening helps us understand people better. Knowing the backgrounds, concerns, and questions behind a question or comment helps you temper your tone.
  • Listening provides time to pause and consider the conversation. Another way to cultivate graciousness is to stop and think before speaking. Listening well helps the hearer slow down to consider questions like, What is this person really saying? How should I best respond to his point? What would God have me to say? Is this the best time to respond? How would God want me to say it?
  • Listening allows you to be more gracious by helping you to express the other person’s point of view. It is a good goal to understand the other person so well that you can give his perspective in such a way that he will be pleased with the presentation.
  • Listening well helps you achieve effective communication, and it shows love to the other person. Proverbs 18:2 reminds us that fools never listen well because they don’t love others. Instead, fools spout their own ideas and assumptions, because they are obsessed with themselves.

Obviously, there’s much more we could learn about the loving discipline of listening. But these five benefits give us a good place to start.

If you want to grow in love by understanding how grace and truth work together, I commend this book to you. If you are a ministry leader consider ordering a copy for each person on your team, and then read it together and discuss.

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January 29, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Why I Wrote “Discipling the Flock”

Why I Wrote “Discipling the Flock”

Having been in local church ministry for close to 30 years, I’m more and more convinced of how much God’s people need comprehensive soul care, which is provided through both public and personal ministry. So, related to that conviction, here are three reasons I was compelled to write Discipling the Flock: A Call to Faithful Shepherding.

1) There is an unbiblical dichotomy in many churches.

Today, there exists an unfortunate separation of the personal ministry of the Word of God from its public preaching. So what I’m calling for in this book is for shepherds to embrace the importance of both preaching and counseling. God wants His men to be both tenacious and tender: tenacious in their study and preaching of the whole counsel of God and tender in their application of its promises and demands to the lives of God’s sheep through personal, pastoral ministry. This conviction also includes actively equipping the members of the body to counsel one another. This theology of inter-personal discipleship is thoroughly defended in a companion book, Counseling One Another, which presents the role every believer has in the work of making disciples. However, the focus of this smaller book is on the key part that pastors and elders have in the discipleship process.

For the other two reasons, continue reading here.

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January 28, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on DISABILITY SUNDAY: Live Together in Gracious Community

DISABILITY SUNDAY: Live Together in Gracious Community

Yesterday was Disability Sunday at Cornerstone Community Church. We opened our hearts and minds to 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 to see what the Lord has to say about living together in gracious community.

The church is not merely like a body, but it is a body. It is a living organism made up of many parts—all of which are indispensable to the purposes of God. The apostle lifts up the human body as a visual of the sometimes-hidden working of God in the church.

My aim in this sermon is to get you to see how beautifully God designed His body to work, so that it draws attention to the grace of the gospel. And even more specifically, I want to help you see how God uses disability to glorify Himself, and help to complete the church.

To accomplish this aim, God wants you to respond to His message in three specific ways.

  1. Appreciate the Oneness of God’s Design (vv. 14-16).
  2. Avoid the Two Sides of Self-Focus (vv. 17-25)
  3. Adopt the Attitude of Living Together in Community (v. 26).

You can watch the service, listen to, or download the audio sermon here.

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January 28, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on NUGGETS

NUGGETS

God’s Purposes for Suffering in Ministry, Part 1 – Pat Quinn draws five purposes of God for ministry suffering from 2 Corinthians.

Brokenness – Julie Lowe asks, “Does brokenness threaten to discourage or undo you? Does it cause you to question God’s goodness or distrust him? Our inclination is to allow the brokenness of our circumstances to shape our view of God, to believe suffering means he is absent or indifferent.”

Paying Off Christmas Debt – Chuck Bentley gives sound counsel from Crown Financial Minstries.

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January 25, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on God Speaks Life Into Your Loss

God Speaks Life Into Your Loss

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. (Psalm 119:150)

Scripture heals. It ministers grace to your deepest hurts, since it is the voice of the one who created and redeemed you.

In the beginning, the voice of God brought the universe into existence—brought life out of nothing. “God said” and it was so (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). Now the voice of God revives your soul. The writer of Psalm 119 experienced this inner rejuvenation. In the midst of his “affliction,” the warmest comfort came from the words of God which give “life.” Earlier in the psalm, he affirmed the same:

“Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:24-25)

Loss brings sadness. In turn, sadness sometimes stalls and cracks open the door to depression. Sometimes suddenly. Most often it’s gradual, even unnoticed. Either way, you need help from God. In the middle of your thick fog you need the piercing light of divine truth to break through and speak words of grace and comfort to your hurting soul. So, you can pray something like this:

“Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” (Psalm 119:77)

Or this:

“Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.” (Psalm 119:143)

When the trials of life drain every ounce of spiritual, physical, and emotional energy from you, God’s Word will be your strength. It ministers to your deepest agonies, and helps you gain eternal perspective.

You can receive strength by appreciating the testimony of others, like Paul: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” is a healing balm (Romans 8:18). Or, again, David: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” is a testimony of persevering grace (Psalm 119:92).

Scripture heals because God has spoken. But Scripture still speaks. It is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). In Scripture, the living Word of God—Jesus, the Man of Sorrows—speaks. As you meditate on the Bible, the Spirit speaks life-giving words into that part of you that feels like it died along with your loss.

How about opening your Bible, and inviting the Lord to speak healing truth?

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