Friday, February 29, 2008

For a counseling paper I wrote on the "fool" in the book of Proverbs and how we as biblical counselors can adequately help them from God's Word. Here is part of my conclusion (and plea!):

It behooves the biblical counselor to take this issue to heart and call the foolish man to turn from his simplicity and folly. Let it never be forgotten that “this ‘turning’ is a turning from loving ‘simple ways’ (1:22), that is, a life apart from Yahweh, to the ‘fear of the LORD’ (2:5) and his discipline (3:11-12). The ultimate motivation is spiritual. To love the Lord for His sake is the core of wise counsel (1:7; 2:5; 3:9-12).”[1] The Scriptures really do contain all the information necessary to “life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3).[2]

May the practical and sobering words of Louis Goldberg be etched on our minds as we remember the centrality of the Word of God in all our counseling sessions:
Folly, however, does not even begin to satisfy the heart hunger of man, and
offers nothing to slake the thirst of the soul. There is nothing at her table to
help the morally inexperienced progress in discernment, understanding, and
spiritual maturity. All folly has to offer are some stale crumbs and scummy

And he concludes by warning,
For guests feeding on what folly has to offer, life becomes a dismal experience
and death a time of horror. Eternity will yawn open to snatch its foolish
victims, and they will be separated from the Lord forever and ever. How can
anyone be so blind as to choose the consequences of such a revolting invitation
to partake of folly’s cursed crumbs?[4]
[1] George M. Schwab, “Proverbs and the Art of Persuasion,” Journal of Biblical Counseling 14, no, 1 (Fall 1995): 12.

[2] Wayne Mack explicates by noting, “An in-depth study of its contents [2 Pet 1:3] is rewarded with insights into even the most complicated human experiences. What happens all too often in counseling, however, is that the counselor assumes that the Scripture does not speak to the particular problem of a counselee, and therefore, the counselor abandons the Word prematurely and seeks input from the ideas of men” (“Providing Instruction through Biblical Counseling,” In Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically [Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005], 163).

[3] Louis Goldberg, Practical Wisdom of Proverbs (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications,
1990), 110-11.

[4] Ibid., 111.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I had a great class discussion yesterday on the Christian's response and counseling methods in relating to demon possession. Here are a few points as to the church's mode in dealing with demon possession:

1. This is the Lord's work, not ours.

Believers do not have the right to take authority in Jesus’ name over the forces of evil (Jude 9, 2 Pet 2:10-11)

3. Only unbelievers can be possessed by demons (Col. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:54-57).

The gospel is the critical tool in dealing with demons (Rom. 1:16).

5. Believers are not immune from the clever satanic temptation and opposition (Job 1:6-2:10; Matt. 16:22-23; Lk. 22:31; 32; 2 Cor. 12:7).

6. Sometimes
God uses Satan as an instrument of judgment or chastisement (1 Sam. 16:14-15; Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:27; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:18-20).

7. Believers are are instructed not to rebuke Satan and demons, but to resist them (1 Pet. 5:9; Jas. 4:7; Eph. 6:13).

8. In sum, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

I think this is a significant issue because so often, in today's modern evangelicalism, people attribute nearly every sin issue to a "demon;" "That's the demon of L.A.," or "That's the demon in my refrigerator," or "The devil made me do it."

Listen to how Jay Adams speaks to the issue at hand:
“Demon possession or oppression affords a ready –made cop-out from personal responsibility . . . wallowing for any length of time in the morasses of self-absorption can virtually lead one to convince himself of the truth of what may have begun merely as a suspicion, a fear, a misrepresentation, or as a convenient excuse. In a short while, it can become a dominant theme around which the counselee builds his life . . . Thus, the equipment that God has given to the counselor is adequate both for evangelism (to take captives from Satan’s forces) and for edification (to punish all disobedience among such captives). There is nothing lacking. The enemy is powerful, but the mighty Counselor, under whom the Christian counselor serves, has subdued him” (The Christian's Counselor Manuel, 129-30).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hey CCC Youth!!!!!

This is for you! In case you weren't at youth group last night, we have a 6 flags magic mountain trip planned and we want YOU to come. Here are the details:

Date: THIS Saturday, March 1, 2008
Time: Meet at CCC Parking lot at 9am
How much: $25 (you won't find tickets cheaper anywhere...guaranteed!)
Return time: Back to CCC at 7pm
Lunch info:
We will go to our apartment and have lunch there to save $$!

Please call or email me today if you want to go!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of the things that always intrigues me when I read the gospels is the compassionate nature of Jesus. Not only is this instructive and thought-provoking, but it is also convicting. In Matthew 9, we have another such occasion where Jesus demonstrates his compassion:

Matthew 9:36-38 36 And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

The three principles I glean from this text are as follows:
I. We must have compassion for lost people.
I notice as I read Matthew's gospel that Jesus had compassion (9:36; 14:14; 20:34) on people who were in bondage to illness, distress, and, most of all, sin. It says in v.36 that Jesus saw the peopel and he felt compassion for them.

How often do we see people living in distress, caught in the grasp of their sin, struggling to live life without the gospel of Christ and yet we neglect to show compassion on these people who are in desperate need for the saving gospel of Jesus Christ?

The second principle I see from the text is:
II. We must shepherd the confused people.
How often we forget this -- even as "professional shepherds" by vocation. People that are in distress and dispirited are those whom Jesus had compassion on. How quick we are (speaking from personal experience here, sad to say) to neglect a helping hand, a gospel-driven conversation, a sacrificial gift to those who are in confusion.

Jesus recognized that he was the true and ultimate shepherd for the people. Shouldn't we do the same? Shouldn't we model the actions of our Master Shepherd and have compassion and pity on those in distress rather than a self-righteous and prideful arrogance refusing to associate with such sinners?

And finally:
III. We must be willing for God to send us into His harvest.
How quick we are to say "Amen" to the first few principles, but how many of us are really willing to go into the Lord's harvest? The harvest does not have to mean "overseas missions," though it can. It does not have to mean "Bible translation work," though it may. But what it means is that in your day-to-day life, you are going about in the Lord's earth showing this kind of compassion and shepherding by pointing (and warning!) people to the True Shepherd and His work done on Calvary for sins.

One thing I've been convinced at my time in seminary is this: I want to plan to go abroad and do missions but be willing to stay. It seems that oftentimes we have this reversed: I must plan to stay in America (comfy Christian lifestyle!) while willing to go abroad. I am convinced that the former is what us seminary guys ought to be convinced of.

May we look at our Savior and learn from our Master as to how we ought to have compassion for the lost, shepherd the confused and, finally, be willing for God tos end us into his harvest - anywhere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

One of the worst things a preacher can hear after a sermon is a mere "that was the best message you've ever preached" because after a few weeks of saying that same familiar line, the preacher doesn't believe you anymore. On the other hand, one of the best compliments a preacher can receive is one where the person comes up and says, "I now understand God's Word clearer now because you have told me what the text means."

This happened to me last night. I went to a local rehabilitation center where I often go to preach (yes, only to preach, not to enroll for rehabilitation!) and preached last night on Mark 15:42-16:8. This was the same text I preached from Sunday night at church. I told them I had the joy of preaching through the whole book of Mark and wanted to give them the climactic event of the life of Christ.

At any rate, at the end of the hour-long sermon, one guy raced up to me and, after introducing himself, said "I have never heard the Bible taught that way before." I responded by saying, "What do you mean?" He replied, "You taught the Bible and made it very clear and understandable to me. You took each section and broke it down so I understand why God had that text there and what He requires of me as a result of that." I thought to myself, "that is the best comment I could ever receive."

How cool it is when we as preachers give God's Word in such a way that His Holy Spirit takes our frail words and makes them understandable to the listeners. Isn't that the duty of the preacher after all? It was a great reminder to me so that next time I hear a good sermon and am tempted to simply tell the preacher in passing, "Great sermon," that I would tell him that God's Word has been made clear to me and my responsibility to act upon what God requires of me is clearly imprinted upon my heart and mind. That is a memorable compliment for a preacher.

Nehemiah 8:8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

“Keep to the gospel, then, more and more. Give the people Christ and nothing but Christ….We have only one remedy for them; preach Jesus Christ, and let us do it more and more. By the roadside, in the little room, in the theatre, anywhere, everywhere, let us preach Christ. Write books if you like and do anything else within your power; but whatever else you cannot do, preach Christ.”

~Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tonight I saw this clip and thought it was hilarious. This is what not to do at an ice hockey game if they ask you to sing the national anthem! :=) Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2008

This Sunday I have a precious opportunity. I have the privilege of finishing up the Gospel of Mark at church this Sunday evening. What a joy it has been for me to preach through this magnificent gospel. How many glorious truths are revealed in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It truly is mindboggling when we consider the humanity and the deity of Jesus side by side. These truths are found in this gospel (and in the whole Bible, for that matter). It has been a delight to delve deep into the glorious riches of the person and character of Christ.

There have been hard passages to preach - total commitment to Christ, denying self, the crucifixion of our Lord, the literal and physical resurrection of our Savior and the myriads of miracles that He performed. Yet I am more convinced of the truth of this statement now more than ever before:

It is better to drive people away with the truth than to keep them
comfortable in their sin ... It is better to have them leave because they can’t
handle the heat when under conviction from the Holy Spirit than have
them sit in the pew living in rebellion being comfortable week after week year
after year only to end up in the unquenching heat of the flames of hell.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today in my advanced biblical counseling course we discussed the all-too-common problem in today's culture of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; or known as ADD). In discussing the problem, I was surprised at the symptoms that can cause a teacher, a parent, an administrator or whoever to put a child on this medication - from making a careless mistake in homework, to having difficulty maintaining attention in something, to difficulty in organizing, or forgetfulness, or a child who often runs or climbs. Most of these sound like normal childhood situations to me. The issue is not which drug to prescribe to the child but rather how parents should deal with these situations.

One quote from my professor stuck out to me. He said this (in the context of the parents properly disciplining their children to teach them): Make every disciplinary event an opportunity for the Gospel!

Oh how true this is. May we be true to this calling.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How hard it is for the preacher to apply everything he studies. Moreover, how hard it is for the preacher to apply to his own life that which he expects his people to practice.

This weekend I spoke on Godly living from 1 Peter 3. One point of application I really attempted to drive home is the idea of being harmonious with one another; not retaliating; not paying back insult for insult. Listen to how Peter says it:

1 Peter 3:8-9 To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

It was my goal this weekend to try and live this application out. I knew I would boldly proclaim it to the youth group at our retreat, but I wanted to practice what I preach. If there is one season in life - I believe - in which people need a godly example, it is none other than Junior and Senior high. It is such a crucial time in life. Friends, culture, acceptance, reputation, family, school and looks are among a myriad of "issues" that these young people come face to face with daily.

This weekend I was reminded, yet again, that it is absolutely crucial for me - as their youth pastor - to practice what I preach. It is a simple concept. Yet I struggle with it. Praise God that He has given us the ultimate example to follow in His Son, Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'd covet any prayers from those who read this blog. I leave this afternoon to take my youth group on our annual winter retreat. We're going skiing at Big Bear Resort this weekend. It should be a fun time. But most of all, pray for me because I'm teaching four times on what it means to be a light for Christ amidst this dark godless culture in which we live. I am teaching from Matthew 5:13-16 tomorrow, a Jet tour of Jeremiah on Saturday morning, 1 Peter 3 Saturday night and 2 Corinthians 2-3 on Sunday morning.

Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Before I begin, this picture just made me laugh so I had to post it here. It in no way reflects my theology or is in support for what I'm going to say on this post. But I thought it was humerous.

The more I go to seminary, the more humbled I am. More often than not, I wonder as I'm driving to class, "Am I crazy?" I say that to myself because I am investing many hours of study, hard work, class time, and sacrificing brutally on sleep to be reminded each day of how much I do not know. Now I don't say that in a negative way. Just the opposite is true. I am humbled each day that I go to class that God has entrusted to me a monstrous stewardship. And I think that is the correct word for seminary - stewardship. I say this for a number of reasons:

1) I go to many classes to be reminded of how much I don't know in that specific field of study. For example, today I was in Exegesis of Psalms with a brilliant professor and was reminded of how much theology, grammatical and syntactical nuances, wordplays and literary devices are employed in the short six verses.

However, let me be quick to add at this point...

2) I go to seminary classes because I have an insatiable hunger for God's Word and for Divine truth. I don't go to seminary to be puffed up (haha -- far from it, I'm humbled nearly all of the time!). I don't go to seminary simply to learn Greek or Hebrew; to read mounds of books; to memorize lots of theology; to have more letters attached to my name to look nice on a resume. No. That's not why I go to seminary. I have this burning desire in my heart to know God (cf. Phil 3:10).

Here is my heart as I pray before school in the mornings:

Psalm 119:97 O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Psalm 119:113 I hate those who are double-minded, But I love Thy law (cf. 119:163).

Psalm 119:127 Therefore I love Thy commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold.

Psalm 119:167 My soul keeps Thy testimonies, And I love them exceedingly.

This is seminary life. Is it hard? Extremely. Is it draining. Every day. Is it mentally challenging? Every time I step foot in a classroom this is made evident to me. Is it exciting? More than words can say. Is it worth the cost of sacrificing beauty sleep? Without a doubt.

What is the greatest part of seminary? Here's my answer in brief: The greatest part of seminary is being immersed in God's Word every day and having my life be constantly consumed with areas and issues that pertain to the Bible. Am I still crazy every time I drive to seminary and sit in a class under such godly and knowledgeable men? Absolutely. But praise God that this is a humbling and sobering time in my life while, at the same time, teaching me more about God and giving me the merciful opportunity to fall more in love with my Savior as each day passes.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

According to some missional churches and pastors, he's approaching quickly. What is the issue? According to some emerging and missional guys, he is using a Dell computer from the podium while teaching. Hahaha.

"You're kidding!" you exclaim.

"Not at all!" I respond.

Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey church in St. Louis said this: "Yeah, I knew he used a Dell, but I never thought he would in public. It has really devastated many of our church planters."

Haha. It's just interesting that the guys are making jokes saying that the pastor is not cool or hip because he's using a Dell.

Brothers, beware.
We had a speaker in chapel who is the founder and president of Slavic Gospel Association, Dr. Bob Provost. He shared his heart regarding the need for men to be biblically trained to teach and preach because there is an insatiable hunger in Russia for Bible-teaching pastors and churches!

He mentioned some of the stark differences between the American church and the Russian Church with some applications that we can glean from them. Here they are:

1) We must develop a stronger appetite for fellowship.
What an amazing concept! Scripture says:

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

It is a relality, as sad as it may be, that when the preacher gives the benediction, the church literally empties in no more than five minutes. In Russia, it's not this way. In fact, in Russia, the average church meets three times per week for five hours each time. In each of those five hour worship services, they may hear 3-4 sermons, sing hymns, pray and fellowship.

And, during the prayer time, it is not the pastor who is waiting in an awkward silence to see if anyone is going to pray before he closes, rather, it is the pastor who is trying to gain control of the prayer time because so many people are zealous to pray!

2) We must teach children to sing properly and have children's choirs.
Some may think this is not as important as it seems, but to train children to sing and how to sing is very important. This will go with them for the rest of their lives. This, in turn, will allow the children as they grow up to be leaders in the music time in church. They will sing to the Lord "with all their strength." Not merely fold their hands, close their mouth, and stare at the guy playing piano as he leads in worship.

3) We must work with young men to find out who is gifted to preach and teach. Here's what they do. The Russians take every boy when he turns 15 years old and allows them to preach and teach in order to see if they are gifted in this area or not. For how else would you know if he is gifted to preach or teach? Notice here it is the church and the elders who are calling and affirming the giftings and talents of these young men into the ministry.

4) We must work in establihsing the practice of lovingly confronting sin.
It is a reality that in Russia, much of the need for biblical counseling is minimized simply because church discipline is enacted so regularly and biblically. Think about it. If church discipline, loving confrontation, is done often and aggressively, then this would severely decrease the need for counseling.

5) Slow down the pace of rushing men to leadership and ordination.
The Russian church is not quick to ordain men to the ministry straight out of high school. They give them plenty of time to show themselves approved and evidence the godly and "above-reproach" kind of life.

6) We must stop letting Bible Colleges, Seminaries and Organizations determine who is to be in full-time ministry.
This is the job of the church, the leaders, the elders and the body. This is not the missions organization to determine this. Yes the missions organization can approve and can affirm the calling. But it is the local church who is to call the men to ministry.

7) We must work on emphasizing the precious nature of the body of Christ and strive for unity.
The church is not a social gathering. It is not to be cool-like-culture. It is not to share opinions. It is not to give people a little dose of pep-talk encouragement that makes them feel good yet at the same time damns their soul. Rather, the church is to be a place where the Word of God is taught accurately, boldly and persuasively while the people are enjoying solid and encouraging fellowship together - not only in church but, most of all, outside the church building as they go through their week. We have lost a sense of the precious nature of the body of Christ and the unity and joy and fellowship that this ought to bring.

Let us learn and strive to be more biblical where we are lacking. To God be the glory.
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