Saturday, April 29, 2006
Yesterday afternoon I received in the mail this glossy card from a local church advertising their upcoming services. It was professionally done and very slick- but very sad.
The picture above shows the front cover of the card with its obvious allusion to the “Desperate Housewives” show. The reverse side advertised the church’s upcoming sermon series entitled “Desperate Households,” which will run the next four weeks. The first sermon is titled, “Wife Swap”! Of course the sermon will not encourage the practice of wife-swapping. The point is to use this language for its shock value. The sermon on Mothers’ Day is entitled, “Desperate Housewives”!
This is really sad. I can see an unbelieving detractor of the church saying, “What a pitiful lot Christians are since their message is so weak that they must pimp and prostitute it so in order to gain a hearing.”
The draw for the church is not slick advertising and shameless accommodation to culture, but the power of the preached word and the credibility of the lives of her members.
Pastor Steve's Note: A very sad commentary on our society when this is what it takes to draw a crowd. But you know what "they" say, "if it works then it must be OK!"
Friday, April 28, 2006
While this pamphlet doesn't deal with everything about forgiveness, it does provide a quick summary of the Biblical teaching.
Forgiveness of others is to be modeled on one's own forgiveness by Christ: “...forgiving one another just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).Forgiveness must be extended to all who say they repent — even if the offense has been repeated (cf. Luke 17:3). But it is only to be granted to those who confess wrong doing, claim to be repentant, and ask forgiveness (Proverbs 28:13). In Mark 11:25, Jesus tells you to forgive those who wronged you when you pray, thereby avoiding bitterness and resentment (Ephesians 4:32). But, that is different from granting the wrongdoer forgiveness. You do that only when he repents. Forgiveness of others must reflect God's forgiveness; He forgave you when you repented!
Some unthinking Christians advise forgiving another whether or not he confesses sin. But they misunderstand forgiveness. They urge this to benefit the one who forgives. Yet, it was for your benefit that God forgave you. Their self-centered concept of forgiveness is unbiblical. God did not forgive you until you repented, admitted you were a sinner, and believed. Indeed, even now, when God dispenses parental forgiveness, He says, “...if you don't forgive men, then your Father won't forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:15).
Some think when Christ prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” He forgave apart from repentance. But Jesus granted no one forgiveness by those words. He was asking God to forgive. Did God answer? Yes. On the day of Pentecost, thousands of those same people were converted, and their sins were forgiven. But, that did not happen apart from means. Peter called on them to repent and believe in order to receive forgiveness (cf. Acts 2:38). Because in forgiving one promises not to bring up the offender's sin, to him, to others, or to himself, it is not right to forgive before repentance. Jesus required you to confront an offender (Matthew 18:15ff) in order to bring about reconciliation. If he refuses to listen to you, instead of forgiving him, you must tell one or two others. If he won't hear them, then you must tell the church. Indeed, apart from repentance, the matter must be brought up to an increasingly larger number of persons. Why? Through their aid to win the offender. In love, true forgiveness seeks not to relieve the forgiver, but to deliver the offender from his burden of guilt. Out of concern for the other person, the offended party pursues the offender until the matter is settled before God and men. Any bitterness on his part, Jesus said, must be dealt with in prayer. Because forgiveness is a promise not to refer to negatively to the offender's sin any more, it would be utterly inconsistent to forgive an unrepentant person before Church discipline has been successfully used. People who try to be kinder than God, end up becoming cruel to others. The kind thing is not to focus on relief for one's self, by forgiving others whether they repent or not, but by every Biblical means to win offenders. It may seem unkind to bring matters up again and again when an offender refuses to be reconciled, but you must do so, not to irritate, but to help relieve him of the burden of his sin. To ignore him and focus on one's self, saying “I sure feel better since I forgave Bob, even though he didn't seek forgiveness,” is the epitome of the modern, self-centered psychological heresy.
Seeking forgiveness is not apologizing. There is nothing in the Bible about apologizing — the World's substitute for forgiveness that doesn't get the job done. You apologize, and say “I'm sorry,” but have not admitted your sin. The offended party feels awkward, not knowing how to respond. You are still holding the ball. You asked him to do nothing. But, confess your sin to him saying “I have asked God to forgive me, and now I'm asking you,” and you pass the ball to the other person. You ask him to bury the matter for good. Jesus commands him to say “yes,” thereby making the promise that God does: “Your sins and your iniquities will I remember against you no more.” That brings the matter to a conclusion. Apologizing does not.
Is there someone to whom you should go and seek forgiveness? Has someone sought it from you to whom you said “Once, yes; twice, maybe; three times, no!?” Perhaps there is someone whom you have never confronted about a matter that has brought about an unreconciled condition between you. Are any of these problems outstanding? Then you have business to attend to. Why not settle the matter today?
You don't have to feel like it to forgive. Forgiveness is a promise that you can make and keep, whether you feel like it or not. And, it is easier to forgive another — even when he sins against you seven times a day — then you remember Christ's great sacrifice for your sins by which He forgave you. And, then too, remember how many times a day He forgives you ever since you have become a believer. One other fact may help. If you have truly forgiven, it isn't the fifth, or the third; it's not even the second time. If you have truly buried the matter, truly forgiven...it's always the first!
While the name is new, the sort of counseling done by nouthetic counselors is not. From Biblical times onward, God's people have counseled nouthetically. The word itself is Biblical. It comes from the Greek noun nouthesia (verb: noutheteo). The word, used in the New Testament primarily by the apostle Paul, is translated "admonish, correct or instruct." This term, which probably best describes Biblical counseling, occurs in such passages as Romans 15:14: "I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and competent to counsel one another." In that passage, the apostle was encouraging members of the Roman church to do informal, mutual counseling, something that all Christians today should learn, as well. On the other hand, the leaders of a congregation are to counsel nouthetically in a formal manner as a part of their ministry: "Now we ask you, brothers, to recognize those who labor among you, and manage you in the Lord, and counsel you."
Nouthetic Counseling Embraces Three Ideas
Because the New Testament term is larger than the English word "counsel," and because it doesn't carry any of the "freight" that is attached to the latter term, we have simply imported the Biblical term into English. In that way, the full force of the Biblical concept of counseling may be set forth while avoiding the many contradictory connotations surrounding the English one. The three ideas found in the word nouthesia are confrontation, concern, and change. To put it simply, nouthetic counseling consists of lovingly confronting people out of deep concern in order to help them make those changes that God requires.
By confrontation we mean that one Christian personally gives counsel to another from the Scriptures. He does not confront him with his own ideas or the ideas of others. He limits his counsel strictly to that which may be found in the Bible, believing that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and useful for teaching, for conviction, for correction and for disciplined training in righteousness in order to fit and fully equip the man from God for every good task." (2 Timothy 3:16,17) The nouthetic counselor believes that all that is needed to help another person love God and his neighbor as he should, as the verse above indicates, may be found in the Bible.
By concern we mean that counseling is always done for the benefit of the counselee. His welfare is always in view in Biblical counseling. The apostle Paul put it this way: "I am not writing these things to shame you, but to counsel you as my dear children." (1 Corinthians 4:14) Plainly, the familial nature of the word noutheteo appears in this verse. There is always a warm, family note to biblical counseling which is done among the saints of God who seek to help one another become more like Christ. Christians consider their counseling to be a part of the sanctification process whereby one Christian helps another get through some difficulty that is hindering him from moving forward in his spiritual growth.
By change we mean that counseling is done because there is something in another Christian's life that fails to meet the biblical requirements and that, therefore, keeps him from honoring God. All counseling -- Biblical or otherwise-- attempts change. Only Biblical counselors know what a counselee should become as the result of counseling: he should look more like Christ. He is the Standard. Biblical counseling is done by Christians who are convinced that God is able to make the changes that are necessary as His Word is ministered in the power of the Spirit. It is their hope to help every interested church develop a nouthetic counseling program that will be a blessing to all of the members of that congregation. The importance of such counseling in churches is underscored by the words of Paul as he described his ministry in Ephesus: "Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years, night and day, I didn't stop counseling each one of you with tears." (Acts 20:31) The regularity and intense nature of Paul's counsel during his three-year ministry at Ephesus is emphasized by these words. If Paul found it necessary to counsel nouthetically for that entire period, as he said, surely our churches need it, too.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
It has been a long time since I have taken the time to post any new stuff to my blog and trust me that has been a great deal going on! I am sorry about the long hiatus, but sometime you just have to prioritize.
Anyway, here is all the news that is news…
About Talents for Christ (TFC), both Philip and Susan participated and did very well. Philip took 4th place in the Senior High writing area. Susan received a 2 rating in the Junior High Woodwinds division. We are very proud of them and they are already looking forward to next year.
Maybe some of you have already heard about Amy’s bout with allergies. Just after the first of the year she showed signs of some kind of allergic reaction and we thought very little of it just treating it with otc allergy meds. She seemed to get better so we thought very little of it. Then she began to get some pretty substantial welts and general felling very bad. The itching became very annoying! After a couple of doctors’ visits we were sent to an allergist in Ames, where Amy tested positive for allergies to mold and feathers. Amy has had a down winter coat for over a year with NO problems and for the mold … She will just have to get used to Philip! She is working on a combination of med that will give her some relief. Amy is feeling MUCH better!!!!
That is it for now, in my next post I’ll tell you about out the IARBC meetings and my great God Hunt experience!
That’s the way I see it,