Counseling and Discipleship

14 posts

Loving Messy People: Speaking Correction

Genuine love requires speaking words of correction. But I’m afraid that one of the main reasons we’re so apprehensive about offering correction is because we’ve so rarely seen it connected to genuine love. Correction without love is cold, harsh, judgmental, and often cruel. We’ve all experienced this kind of correction before, and it hurts. Correction without love comes from seeing ourselves as somehow different from those we’re correcting. We stand with God in judgment of the pitiful sinner standing in front of us… Our correct place is not next to God looking down in judgment on sinners. We belong standing side by side with our fellow sinners before a perfectly righteous and overwhelmingly gracious God. As we stand side by […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking Affirmation

Biblical affirmation isn’t what usually comes to mind when we think of speaking the truth in love. We tend to think of correction, teaching, exhortation, or rebuke. If someone is headed in the right direction, why would they need truth spoken to them? If they’re already on the right path, what is there to say? But Scripture models for us (and personal experience confirms) that affirmation is a powerful tool in helping others become more like Jesus. I believe one of the main reasons affirmation gets a bad rap is because our culture has come to affirm everything, whether it’s true or not. We tell every kid that they were great on the baseball field. We tell every employee that […]

Loving Messy People: Speaking Hope

In speaking the truth, where do we begin? While every person’s mess is unique and there are no two situations you will come across that are the same, there is one common temptation I find in every situation I’ve come across: hopelessness. Whether the mess comes in the form of addiction, depression, guilt, marital struggles, discrimination, abuse, or fear, the temptation to hopelessness is always a part of the cocktail. This is why giving hope must always be a part of gospel care. I’ve yet to find an exception. People who have been in a mess for a long time need hope, and people who have just entered into a mess need hope. People who are making big decisions need […]

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 […]