Often times in counseling, I use the idea of a balloon. Like a balloon we are squeezed by our circumstances in life: jobs, family, politics, houses, et cetera. These are things that James 1 would describe as a trial (v. 15). But there are also those pressures that come from inside, like the over-inflation of a balloon, they encourage us to ‘pop’. This is the idea of James 1:13 when James refers to those inner solicitations to sin—those enticements come from within. (more…)
The air that we breath is an air that assumes the importance of efficiency. “Work smarter not harder” could be our mantra: we want the results of two hours in the gym in 10 minutes; we want our food order to be placed, to be fresh, and to be on our table in five minutes. Businessmen balk at ‘wasting time’ and a grocery store brouhaha will take place if there is a long line and one cashier! Kevin DeYoung noted, “We have more opportunity than ever before. The ability to cheaply go anywhere is a recent development. The ability to get information from anywhere is, too. … The result, then, is simple but true: because we can do so much, we do do so much” Why? Because we love efficiency! Most would admit that everything in us chides with wasting time or the ultimate ‘no-no’ of inefficiency. If I were to tell you the long route to go somewhere when I knew a shorter route, you would probably Darth-Vader choke me in your mind! Now think of the way that affects our relationships. (more…)
For the next 90 days (May 1 – Aug. 1), I am conducting research on a profoundly important topic—habits. I propose that habits both shape what we see and how we see, much like glasses. A person’s pair of glasses not only shape what they can see, for instance, glasses can render a person functionally blind. Likewise a person’s glasses influences how they see, like leaning back to bring something in focus, or moving close to bring something into the focus of the glasses. These both illustrate the effects of habits on a person. Habits have a way of forming what we love and also capacitating us towards greater love. This means that what I (we) do, shapes what we love.
Louis Berkhof makes an interesting comment. He says, “None of the attributes of God are incommunicable in the sense that there is no trace of them found in man.” There is a fine line between saying that we want to be God and we want to be like God: one is the biblical impetus for everything we do and the other was the inducement to the original sin. Yet, we want to be like God in every aspect; we want to be like Him in every capacity that we can because there is no better pattern for imitation.
Paul strikes a cord in Ephesians 5:1 that is implicit throughout the remainder of Scripture and it is this, we are to imitate God and godly people. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 and 11:1 we see that Paul uses similar—yet different—language. He there states to follow him as He follows Christ. There is a call to imitation. “Imitate me, while I imitate Christ.” Likewise, in Hebrews 6:12 and 13:2 we see an encouragement to imitate others who are imitating God. Imitation is right and normative and is the only genuine means a transformation. (more…)
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
In 1961, Albert Bandura conducted a social experiment with seventy-two, 3-6 year-olds. The experiment is famously known as the, “Bobo Doll” experiment in which Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1977) was evaluated. The experiment took seventy-two children and placed them in a room for observation for twenty minutes each. (more…)
Counseling as a pastor is part of the fabric of what you do. Everything from your response to, “What do you think I should do?” to the couple asking if they can “meet with you.” Counseling is part-and-parcel for pastoral ministry. And this is one of the highlights of fruitful pastoring for most pastors. Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju have fashioned a quick resource to help busy pastors be more effective in their counseling. The Pastor and Counseling is a great resource for new-to-counseling pastors who are looking to sharpen and hone their counseling skills.
Some of the most invigorating times of my life have all been connected to preparation for vocational ministry. And some of the most difficult have been ministry. Perhaps you can relate? God leads some of us into a full-time, vocational ministry and for the first few years that call can be very challenging to pursue. Vocational ministry is a challenge, especially to start, because best-case scenario (i.e., school) meets the real-world of ministry. Yet, among the difficulties we have a merciful God who is working His plans. Let’s sketch why the first few years are difficult for some of us and then reorient what God may be doing in those difficulties.
One of my counselees recently asked me an excellent question: “What do we do when our ‘want to’ is broken?” He was asking this in reference to honoring God but it is a question that is embedded in every one of us. What do we do when we don’t want to do? I appreciate his candor in expressing what most of us have felt. To say it another way, “I don’t want to change the diaper. I don’t want to help them move. I don’t want to be kind when they are snippety.” So what do we do when we don’t want to do what honors God? (more…)
“But if we walk light, as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another.”
1 John 1:7
John introduces a very profound idea in 1 John 1:3, which has very profound implications—fellowship with God. After the devastation of the Fall of mankind, it has profound significance that we, as sinful people, can have access to this God. Moreover, that we can be restored to Him to the point of fellowshipping with Him is grace-upon-grace.
But this fellowship with Him also has profound implications for those walking in darkness. John shows that God is light. John uses this idea of God being light and Christ being the light many times, but has now transitioned to a new way of applying the idea of God as light. In doing so, he describes an attribute of God, namely His holiness. In the context of 1 John 1, we see that John is making reference to the moral and ethical purity of God (vv. 5-7). “That the concomitant of walking in the light is being purified from every sin suggests that walking in the darkness might best be interpreted here, not simply as walking in ignorance, but as walking in sin.” Consequently, those who are not walking in moral purity cannot know God or fellowship with Him (cf. Heb. 12:14; “without which no one will see the Lord”).
So let’s connect the dot of God’s moral purity to the dot of a fallen brother (or sister) in sin. One of the first places that I take a person who has fallen into sin and they are seeking restoration is 1 John 1. I want them to see the moral purity of God—to grapple with His holiness. Their sin is so problematic because it is not consistent with God’s nature (James 1:17) first-and-foremost. However, the story doesn’t end there: if they want restoration, they need to walk in light. 1 John 1:7 says, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” Before you move too quickly through this, note that John shows moral purity as restorative for our relationships.
When we walk in light, we are simply reflecting the character of God. And when we do that, we are restoring human relationships around us. One of the implications for those who have fallen into sin (i.e., walked in darkness) is to live their life in utter transparency. Paul said that we are to “expose the deeds of darkness” (Eph. 5:11). What an interesting thought: living in the light suggests a total exposure. How do I know someone is authentically repentant? They are willing to have total exposure in their lives.
Practically, I take counselees to the hidden or dark areas of their life. Where have they been hiding? What do only they know about themselves? What device do they only have access to (i.e., phone, computer, etc.)? What is their dark secret? What do they fear others knowing? Biblically speaking, if they are ever to grow in their integrity they must grow in holiness. And that holiness is cultivated by a sense of coming to the light and walking in it. “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:21). They must live a life of ‘light-walking’ if they are to be restored. They must be humble enough to be exposed, and when they are, lasting change is probable.
When a brother has fallen into sin, we point them to a holy God who offers a remedy to their sin (1 John 1:9) and call them to the light. To the adulterer: come to the light. To the wayward child: come to the light. To the crook: come to the light. To the immoral: come to the light. Why? Is it to embarrass them or humiliate them? No, it is to restore them. Come walk in the light, as He is in the light so that you can be right in your relationships—with God and man (v. 7). Be totally exposed and transparent so that you can be totally restored.
 Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 65.
The posture from which you view the Scripture shapes every doctrine you believe. Harold Lindsell said our view of Scripture “is like the Continental Divide in the United States. … Inexorably and inevitably the waters find their way to their ultimate destiny, just as one’s view of the Bible determines ultimately what his theology will be” (25). Therefore, a book like The Scripture Cannot Be Broken comes with the understanding that what you believe about the Scripture affects what you believe about the world. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the book and then make some observations that would be helpful to the reader. (more…)