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…)
We were in the woods near Columbus, GA where I was doing training with the Army and at one of the locations we stayed, there were showers! Hallelujah! When you have sweat for the past few days, a shower is worth its weight in gold. However, there was one catch—the water was cold … really cold. The only way you could take a shower was to acclimate to the coldness and attempt to rinse off the soap and shampoo. But before long, the cold water was not as shocking. We could hop right in, get clean, and continue on with life. After a while, the extremely cold water became normal. And sin has a way of taking something extremely shocking and making it normal. (more…)
Enjoy our free resource, Growing As A Mother this Mother’s Day or as a gift for someone you know! Select Mother’s Day Booklet to download your own personal copy!
Happy Mother’s Day!
The liberty of having no debt is a privilege that few experience. Debt can be the noose that ends the financial future of some or the well-placed foundation that builds a business for others. In America, debt has created a pandemic of types that has enabled the poor to make unwise purchases that have further contributed to their status. Credit card debt is almost natural and to have an automobile loan seems logical. After all, I need leather seats with DVD players for the kids and four-wheel drive in case of inclement weather, right? (more…)
If you could have plastic surgery and money was not a limit, what would you get done? Perhaps you want a different nose? Teeth? Cheeks? Facelift? Hair removal? What would you get “fixed” if anything? Or, to say it another way: what do you not like about your appearance? What are insecure about? What do you wear certain types of clothing to hide? And what would embarrass you if others saw it? (more…)
Martin Luther King, Jr., in quoting Gandhi, said, “That old law about an ‘Eye for and Eye’ leaves everybody blind.” Jesus quotes this Old Testament law in Matthew 5:38 saying, “You have heard it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, (cf. Deut. 19:20-21; Exod. 21:22). However, the original intent of the law was not a mandate to retaliate. It was not a command to get even but a regulation of the punishment of a crime. In other words, the severity of the punishment should fit the severity of the crime committed. Therefore, this law was used as a means of upholding justice. It would be unjust to face a punishment that is disproportionate to the crime. (more…)