Counseling and Discipleship

11 posts

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Dealing with False Professions

Some parents of prodigals have walked the hard road of a false profession of faith by their son or daughter—only to be heartbroken, realizing it was a manipulative effort to gain some advantage. Having grown up in a Christian home, prodigals are well versed in what to say and do to give their parents hope that their profession may be real. Not wanting to thwart the work of the Spirit, and excited to think that their prayers have been answered, parents may take the profession at face value and welcome their prodigal home. Soon, the reality brings disappointment and the deep pain of betrayal. We should regard with realism any profession of faith. Proverbs 14:15 points out that “[t]he simple […]

Loving Messy People: Serving in Love

Somehow, somewhere along the way, personal ministry became primarily a “talking” ministry. When we think about ministering to others, we usually picture two people sitting in an office or over coffee talking about life, issues, Scripture, God, and the gospel. And, while gospel care must involve listening and talking, it must also involve more. In his first letter, Peter describes the ministries of service and of speaking as two sides of the same coin: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies— in order that in everything God […]

Loving Messy People: Knowing In Love

Gospel care is essentially a ministry of love. And love, if it truly seeks the best for the other person, is not applied arbitrarily but wisely and carefully. As David Powlison wrote, “Wise counseling [or any form of gospel care] is essentially a way of loving another person well. It is a way of speaking what is true and constructive into this person’s life right now. Good [personal ministry] is essentially wise love in action.” (David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, 5-6). I love that phrase “wise love in action.” I’m not sure there’s a more concise or accurate description of gospel care. And as we see from these proverbs, wise love is love that seeks and acquires knowledge. […]

Loving Messy People: The Goal and the Gospel

Almost every system to deal with people’s messes caters to self-defined goals. Whether you want to be happier, calmer, more productive, more disciplined, or less stressed, there are countless self-help resources and professionals with the express purpose of helping you change in the exact ways you desire. We define our own messes, and so we also define our own goals of change. However, if we are going to follow God’s call to speak the truth in love to one another, we must first clarify what the goal of that love-filled truth is. More specifically, we must make sure that our goal is in line with God’s goal. Thankfully, God has communicated his goal for our ministry clearly and repeatedly in […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking the Truth in Love

My entire life I have been surrounded by messy people with messy lives. The only reason it doesn’t bother me is because I’m messy, too. But it should be familiar to be around messy people. That’s what the church is. I assume that’s been your experience, too. Some people can trick you for a season, but I promise, they’re just as messy as the rest of us. All Christians are. Eventually the depression, anxiety, chronic health issues, addictions, doubts, insecurities, pride, abuse, prejudice, or poverty will come to the surface. To know a person is to know their mess. Whatever the cause of the mess, God has a plan to help each one of us grow. And at the center […]

Do Good to One Another at Christmas

There is an amazing gift that you can give this Christmas that is literally priceless. In the book 31 Ways to be a One Another Christian the authors remind us of the gift of doing good to one another. It is a gift so easily ignored, but there are few things in life that can match the power of the gift of goodness.  The book explains it is this way: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:15, Paul uses the present tense to show that seeking after good for one another person should not be a temporary or sporadic action, but rather […]

God is Never on Coffee Break

There is only one thing about tomorrow that you can know with certainty. God will be faithful to you. You can plan for tomorrow, and that is a good thing. But tomorrow may not go according to your plan. World events may radically change your life. Your car may not start. Your kids could get sick. Your financial situation could change. Your pet could go missing. The uncertainty of tomorrow is the constant reality of your life. The way you anticipate tomorrow will impact the way you do life today. Worry about tomorrow comes from the lie that humans are in control of your life. This gives us reasons to do something other than to seek treasures of God’s kingdom […]

Specks & Planks

Jesus was the most extraordinary communicator in all of human history. He was the ultimate guide for bringing truth to everyday life.  So it is not surprising that his craft as a carpenter provided rich illustrations for his teaching.  Specks of sawdust were part of his life. He used words with the skill and grace of the ultimate master woodworker. His crafted vivid word pictures that connected his hearers to everyday life. Thus, in Luke’s gospel, he uses the common elements of his carpenter’s life to connect to my life and yours. Here is what Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own […]

The Process: From Complaining to Slavery

Fourteen-year-old Louis is moody. He constantly complains any time he is not absorbed in his screens. His parents fear for the things he might be viewing when no one is watching. It seems like it has been weeks since anyone has seen him smile. How did this happen? What needs to happen? The immediate, expected response is to demand his screens from him and require him to stop being so grumpy and moody. This plan may attain some temporary relief. But it will not address the real reason for his sin and unhappiness. If the  focus is only on his wrong and unhelpful actions, it will miss reaching his heart and actually encourage him towards  even deeper struggles and sins […]

Treasure in the Ashes cover closeup

Why We Wrote “Treasure in the Ashes”

We are heartbroken by the number of women and men in our churches who suffer silently. For so many of us, the silence is deafening. Our hearts’ desire is that Treasure in the Ashes will be a voice of hope for those who suffer (whom we call learning friends) and a means of equipping those who want to help (whom we call leading friends). Our workbook is an instrument for local churches and Christian friendships to discover places of refuge and healing as we learn to bear one another’s burdens, not just emotionally, but purposefully. Treasure in the Ashes was designed with the one another relationships of the Bible in mind, because we believe that lasting hope and healing are […]