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What you will find in this post is the third part of an answer to a question raised by a reader about how to develop a stronger faith and overcome consuming lust. The third essential factor for developing a stronger faith and overcoming lust takes us back to the basics again. Before i mention this third factor, I want to encourage you not to refuse to think seriously about it because in your judgment it is so basic. Remember the exhortation of Vince Lombardi on another front that we mentioned in the last blog: victories are won by paying attention to the basics and failure occurs because we fail to learn and practice the basics with abandonment. So here’s basic factor number three for developing a stronger faith and overcoming lust: to develop and sustain a stronger faith and a more robust fear of God you must consistently and submissively study God’s Word.
Sometime ago I wrote a book called The Twin Pillars of the Christian Life. One of these pillars was the pillar of fervent prayer that we mentioned in the previous post. The other factor that my book addresses is the pillar of Bible Study. These are the pillars of the Christian life on which a vibrant spiritual life must be built. Though very basic, we must understand that here can be no substitute for either these pillars. Mark it down, don’t overlook it: if you want to develop a strong faith that will overcome sinful patterns and a robust fear of God that is necessary for progress in the Christian life, you will never develop and sustain these essential qualities apart from fervent prayer and the faithful study of His Word. Again as mentioned in the former post, the battles of the Christian life are won or lost because people either faithfully practice or don’t practice these two disciplines.
The crucial importance of faithful and submissive Bible study is suggested by numerous verses in which the fear of God is mentioned. I will quote a few of these verses and, as I do, I will emphasize (underline) certain words that will help us to get an answer to the ‘yes, but how’ question.
1. Deut. 4:10 – “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My Words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days they live on the earth…” (Deuteronomy 4:10);
2. Deut. 6:1,2 – “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you … so that you and your son, and your grandson might fear the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 6:1,2);3. Deut. 8:6 – “Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God to walk in His ways and to fear Him” (Deuteronomy 8:6);4. Deut. 13:4 – “You shall … fear Him, and …listen to His voice…” (Deuteronomy 13:45. Deut. 14:23 “… in order that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23); 6. Deut. 17:19 – “… and he shall read it (God’s Word) all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God” (Deuteronomy 17:19);7. Deut. 31:12 “…and all
Israel shall hear and fear.” (Deuteronomy 21:21);“Assemble the people … in order that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 31:12);
8. Psalm 34:11 – “Come you children, listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11);
From these verses we may draw several conclusions about how to develop and sustain the fear of God in our lives.
Several times we notice in these verses that hearing and listening are associated with developing the fear of God. Romans 10:17 informs us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” In other words, if we want to have a strong faith we must put ourselves in a place where we will hear God’s Word being faithfully preached. Faith doesn’t float around in the air and mysteriously grab us. God uses His preached Word to strengthen our faith. People who want to develop and sustain a robust fear of God must faithfully,diligently and attentively hear God’s Word being preached. This is one of theprimary instruments God uses in building this quality into our lives.
Still further these verses teach us that people who want to develop a stronger fear of God must make this a priority in their lives and they must do it regularly.
And, they must make sure that the preaching they are listening to is really an expository ministry. It is not some man’s ideas, it is not the theories of psychologists or philosophers or sociologists that promote the fear of God. It is the faithful proclamation of God’s Word. There can be no neglect, nor substitute for this.
The second conclusion we may draw from these verses we just read is set of verses that the fear of God is that developing and sustaining the fear of God will involve the use of the mind. To become God-fearing people we must be students, we must put forth an effort to learn. Being a student obviously involves studying. If you don’t study, you have no right to think of yourself or present yourself as a student. Sitting around watching television or even sitting in a church auditorium or classroom doesn’t necessarily mean you are a student or that you are learning anything.
You may just be sitting there occupying space. You may not be learning or retaining or processing anything that is being said. No one can be considered a learner unless they retain, process and benefit from what is being said. And, again please note that growing in the fear of God is associated with being taught, studying and learning the Word of God.
In our book, The Fear Factor, we define the fear of God in this way (and what we said about the fear of God can also be said about true faith): the fear of God is a reflex attitudinal and emotional reaction to an accurate understanding of who and what God is.
1. The word “reflex”indicates that our attitudes and emotions automatically respond to something. When our hand touches an extremely hot surface, we don’t have to tell our hand, nor make our hand move away from that surface. Because of the nerve endings in our hand, our hand just automatically jerks away from the hot surface.
When I use the word “reflex” in association with the development of the fear of God or a stronger faith, I mean that when a certain thing happens we will naturally, automatically respond with the fear of God and have a stronger faith.
2. The word “reaction” in our definition conveys a similar idea. What we’re saying is that the fear of God (or a stronger faith) is more of a “reaction” than it is an action. It is something that happens rather than something we directly make happen. Only in an indirect way do we make the fear of God and a stronger faith happen. The fear of God happens because something else has happened. And unless that something else happens we will never develop and sustain the fear of God.
The question then is: what is it that causes the fear of God or a stronger faith to develop? What must happen for the fear of God to happen? The rest of our definition answers these questions.
1. The fear of God happens as we gain and maintain an accurate understanding of who and what the God of the Bible is. In other words, it happens as we hear and listen to God and His Word; it happens as we continue to study and learn, as we continue to accurately think about and meditate on God and His Word.
2. This is the method God uses to make our fear of God quotient stronger. You simply can’t expect to have a strong fear of God quotient if you are unwilling to be a perpetual student of God’s Word.
Interestingly, Psalm 19:9 makes this connection between the diligent study of God’s Word and the development of the fear of God unmistakably clear by calling the Bible “the fear of the Lord”. Obviously, the Bible is called “the fear of the Lord” because it is a primary means by which God develops and sustains this quality in our lives.
In his book on the fear of God, John Bunyan writes, “The fear of God flows from … a sound impression that the Word of God makes on our souls; for without an impress of the Word, there is no fear of God. Hence it is said that God gave Israel good laws, statutes and judgments that they might learn them, and in learning them, learn to fear the Lord their God …For as to the extent that a man drinks good doctrine into his soul, so to that extent he fears God; if he drinks in much, he fears Him greatly; if he drinks in but little, He fears Him but little; if he drinks not at all, He fears Him not at all.” (John Bunyan, ibid, p. 424)
So to develop a robust and influential fear of God or a stronger faith you must make the study of God’s Word a regular and diligent discipline in your life.. Scripture makes it clear that faith in God and the fear of God are His gifts to His people (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Galatians 5:22, 23; Jeremiah 32:39, 40). And along with that, Scripture, as noted in the earlier part of this blog, makes it clear that God bestows these gifts on people who fervently and faithfully study His Word.
This, then, is the third factor in answering the questions: how can I develop a strong, robust fear of God? How can I overcome unbelief and doubts? How can I overcome consuming lust? If you are serious about overcoming unbelief and doubts and lust you must make sure that you are fervently practicing the privilege of diligent and submissive Bible study..
John Bunyan was absolutely convinced that a diligent study of God’s Word played a crucial role in the development and maintenance of the fear of God in our souls. He could hardly have made that point more clearly. According to Bunyan, drink much of the Word of God and you will have much of the fear of God, drink little and you will have little, drink not at all and you will have none is his conviction. And, according to the Scripture, he was right! This, again I say, is only one of many factors, but it is a foundational factor
(God willing, we will move on to another extremely important factor in the near future. I have just been dismissed from the hospital after a minor hart problem. So it may be a little while before I actually post the next factor, but Lord willing it will come. )
In this post, I’m continuing to respond to one of the questions a person who reads our blogs raised in the comment section to one of our blogs. One of the questions he asked was “how do you overcome unbelief and doubt” and the answer I’m giving this series is really related to the question how do you develop a more robust fear of God? But what I’m writing about in terms of how to develop a robust fear of God is the same answer I would give to the question “how do I develop a stronger faith and overcome unbelief”? (And as I previously mentioned, the answer I’ll give in this series of blogs is also the answer to another question raised by a responder about how to overcome consuming lust.) Now here’s an absolutely essential second factor for developing and sustaining a robust fear of God or developing and maintaining a strong faith: to develop and sustain the fear of god you must be devoted to fervent and persistent prayer. “You have not because you ask not” or because you ask for purely selfish reasons is the word of God that explains why the faith of many of us is weak (James 4:2, 3).
Several years ago when Vince Lombardi was a well known coach of one of the best and winningest American professional football teams he stood one day at the beginning of the season before his seasoned, very experienced football players and brought a stirring message to them. He was attempting to motivate them to become a strong, dedicated, skilled and winning football team. There they sat before him as a group of massive human beings eagerly waiting for instructions from their experienced and knowledgeable coach; there they sat wondering what pearls of wisdom about how to be a winning team would come from his lips. And what did he say? He said something similar to what he had often said and would often say in the future. It’s reported that he said something like this, “Gentlemen, if you want to be a good, strong, winning football team you must concentrate on the basics. The game of football is not really that complicated. When you boil it all down, the game of football consists of blocking, tackling, running, passing and catching and doing all these basics with abandonment. Let’s get back to the basics. That’s how you win football games by learning and doing the basics well. Teams lose football games because they neglect the basics.”
Well, the message that Vince Lombardi brought to his football team is the message I’d like to bring to Christians who want to build a strong faith in God and a robust fear of God. My message is, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for us to get back to the basics. It’s time for us to learn and practice and do the basics of Christianity well and with abandonment. Instead of looking for new techniques and gimmicks for developing super duper Christian lives, for building a strong faith and increasing in the fear of God, let’s get back to learning and practicing Christianity 101. That’s how to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And failure to practice the basics well is why many Christians are losing the battles in their spiritual lives.”
In Psalm 86:11 the Psalmist is an example for all of us who want to be more God-fearing in our approach to life. Here we find him praying, “Unite my heart to fear Thy name.” David who wrote this Psalm teaches us several things about becoming a more God-fearing or a person with a strong faith. One, he makes it clear that you have to begin with the heart. The fear of God (or strong faith) is developed in the heart before it is ever experienced anywhere else. If we have a powerful fear of God it will emerge from the heart. If we lack the fear of God, something is wrong in our hearts. Two, David realized that for a person to have a robust fear of God his heart had to be united. David knew that his heart was the mission control center of his life; he realized that if his heart was not united nothing else would come out right in his life. He was aware that a double hearted or triple hearted or quadruple hearted person is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). He knew that his heart was the reservoir from which all of the issues of life flowed (Proverbs 4:23). He realized that frequently our hearts are divided in terms of their focus. He knew that sometimes our hearts begin to drift or become distracted from what is really important.
Sometimes we lose our focus, and like Martha, we become focused on many things rather than the one thing that is needful (Luke 10:38-42). Sometimes our hearts get out of control and run off in many different directions. Sometimes we forget that the fear of God should be a priority issue with us. David knew that he couldn’t control his heart on His own. He knew this was too big a task for Him. He knew that if his heart was to be united, God had to give him strength to do it. This petition was both an expression of his desire and also an expression of weakness. He realized he desperately needed the help of God if he were to have a united heart controlled by the fear of God.
In essence, David has learned the lesson about prayer that Jesus was teaching in the model prayer He gives us in Matthew 6:9-13. In this prayer Jesus used different words than the ones David did, but the meaning is the same. He said that when we pray we should begin by praying that God’s name (which represents who and what He is) would be hallowed. And what is it to hallow God’s name? It is to set it apart as holy, unique, worthy of reverence and holy respect. By indicating that this is the first petition we should pray, Jesus was teaching us that reverence for God should be a primary focus of our lives and prayers. And, the fact that he taught us to pray that God’s name would be hallowed indicates that we can’t do this without the help of God.
Developing and sustaining a healthy, robust fear of God should be a primary emphasis in our prayer lives. We will never be able to give God the respect and reverence that is His due apart from His help. You show me a person who isn’t praying the way David prayed in Psalm 86:11 and the way Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9 and I’ll show you a person in whose life the fear of God or his faith in God is very small or non-existent.
So to develop a robust and influential fear of God or a stronger faith you must make the acquisition of such a matter of fervent and persevering prayer. Scripture makes it clear that faith in God and the fear of God are His gifts to His people (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Galatians 5:22, 23; Jeremiah 32:39, 40). And along with that, Scripture makes it clear that God bestows these gifts on people who fervently and faithfully ask Him for these gifts (James 4:2; 5:17; Matthew 7:7 – 11; Luke 11:13).
This, then, is the second factor in answering the questions: how can I develop a strong, robust fear of God? How can I overcome unbelief and doubts? How can I overcome consuming lust? If you are serious about overcoming unbelief and doubts and lust you must make sure that you are fervently practicing the privilege of devoted prayer. This, again I say, is only one of many factors, but it is a foundational factor. I close this blog with a paraphrase of a statement made by John Piper. He wrote, “Much prayer, much power; little prayer, little power and no prayer, no power.” Well, I say, “Much of the right kind of prayer, much faith; little prayer, little faith and no prayer, no faith.” (God willing, we will move on to other factors in the near future.)
In this post, I’m kind of responding to one of the questions Scott raised in the comment section to one of our blogs. I say “kind of responding” because one of the questions he asked was “how do you overcome unbelief and doubt” and the answer I’m going to give in the next few blogs is really related to the question how do you develop a more robust fear of God?
At first glance, what I’m going to say about how to develop a robust fear of God may not appear to relate his question, but, in my judgment, my answer does very much relate. It is my conviction that the answer to the question “how do I develop a robust fear of God” is the same as the answer to the question “how do I get rid of my doubts and develop a strong faith”?
(Actually, the answer I’ll give in this series of blogs is also the answer to another question raised by a responder about how to overcome consuming lust.)
If Scott or anyone else is saying, “I really do want to develop or increase and sustain a more healthy, wholesome, robust fear of God (i.e., a strong faith in God). I really do want to be a truly God fearing person, i.e., a strong believer. Will you please tell me how I can become and remain that kind of person? I want it, I need it, but how do I get it?” my next few blogs should be very helpful. In these posts I want to point Scott and all of us who claim to be Christians to some biblical directives for doing the very thing the previous quote from Scott indicates he desires to have happen. If the fear of God (or a strong faith) is as important for us as Christians as the Bible clearly indicates it is, we might expect that God would give us information about how to develop it. And, indeed He has! In these posts we’re going to see that God has much to say about this aspect of developing, increasing and sustaining the fear of God in our lives.
I begin in this post with factor number 1 which is: to develop and sustain the fear of God you must have a change of heart. (Hang with me: this is only the first installment. There is more to come, but we must begin with factor number 1 because it is foundational to all the other factors.)
To understand how to develop and sustain a healthy, robust fear of God it’s important for us to note that we don’t just naturally fear God. With all that the Bible says about the majesty and glory of God we might be tempted to think that men would automatically fear God or have a strong faith in God.
Understanding who God is, what He has done and still does and the benefits that come to people who fear Him, we may be inclined to ask the same questions that Jeremiah and the people in Revelation asked: “Who would not fear Thee, O King of the Nations?” (Jeremiah 10:7); “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?” (Revelation 15:4) It seems irrational, absurd, unbelievable that people would not automatically fear and reverence someone who is as great and majestic as God is, someone who has the power and ability that God has, someone who has done and still does what God has done and continues to do.
In reality, when you consider the greatness of God, there is nothing more reasonable than the fear of God. To not fear Him is the height of absurdity. Yet the Scripture declares and our experience illustrates the fact that men don’t naturally fear God. In God’s description of what characterizes the whole of the human race (Romans 3:9 – both Jews and Greeks are under sin) since the time of Adam, He says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). In this verse Paul is probably quoting an Old Testament text that says essentially the same thing: “There is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1). “There is no fear of God in this place” was the way that Abraham described the society in which he lived. The situation has not changed. The society in which we live in the twenty first century is still devoid of the fear of God. Unregenerate, unredeemed men don’t by nature fear God. Instead of fearing God, men automatically fear man (Proverbs 29:25; Romans 1:23, 25). By nature, men are more concerned with the approval of men rather than the approval of God (John 12:43).
If that is true, the question that naturally arises is: what must happen for men who don’t naturally fear or trust God to begin to do this? Thankfully, the Scriptures give a very clear answer to this question. God provides an answer through the inspired prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32. In that message, God says this about the people whom He says He will make His people and for whom He will become their God (Jeremiah 32:38), “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me always … I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me” (Jeremiah 32:39, 40). For people to fear God, God has to supernaturally put that fear in their hearts. Earlier in Jeremiah, God has described the hearts of men before He gives them a new heart as being deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Before God gives to men a new heart they oppose the God of the Bible, they resist and rebel against this God (Romans 1:18-25; 8:5-8; Mark 7:21-23; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Isaiah 1:5; Genesis 6:5). Sometimes this heart resistance and rebellion is covert and sometimes overt, sometimes violent (easily recognized) and sometimes more subtle and even disguised.
Nonetheless, the hearts (a word that is used metaphorically to describe our inner man, our soul, the non-physical part of us as human beings, the core of our being, the mission control center of our lives) of all men resist God and don’t fear God in the way described in the last message of this book.
For a person to truly fear God, some important internal changes must take place, changes that only God can make. This change is variously described in Scripture. Jeremiah indicates that for this change from a lack of fear of God to a fear of God to occur, God must perform heart surgery. He must give that person a new heart. He must change that person on the inside, at the very core of his being. In the book of Ezekiel, God describes this same indispensable operation in two passages: First, He does it in Ezekiel 11: 19, 20: “I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes and keep my ordinances to do them.” Then He does it again in message 26:25-27: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes”. In both of these Ezekiel passages, God makes it clear that the problem with people in terms of their attitude toward and relationship with Him is a heart problem. They have a heart of stone and need a heart of flesh. What they need is a new heart, a new spirit; a heart of flesh. Their heart of stone (a heart that was impervious to God and His Word, a heart that was uncaring about God, a heart that was committed to an antiGod focus in life, a heart that was insensitive and inflexible, a heart that lacked the fear of God) needed to be replaced with a heart of flesh (a heart that was soft and impressionable and responsive, a heart that was sensitive, a heart that was tender and compliant to God and His Word). Ezekiel 26 refers to filthiness and idolatry. Where was the primary location of that filthiness and idolatry? The references to needing a new heart and a new spirit indicate that the change and cleansing that was needed was internal. Ezekiel message 14 mentions that the problem with people is heart idolatry (Ezekiel 14:1-9) and message 11:21 mentions that their hearts are going after detestable things and abominations (i.e., that which is an abomination to the Lord). The problem of man, then and now, is a heart problem. So the cleansing that Ezekiel 26 says men need is a cleansing that is not merely external, but primarily internal.
As with all of us, these people needed to be cleaned up on the inside; because that’s where the real problem was. For them to become God centered, God fearing, they needed to be cleaned up on the inside, they needed to receive a new heart, a new disposition, a new spirit, a new internal control center. No one fears God in the Biblical way until this has occurred. In his comments on this passage Matthew Henry has rightly said, “We cannot sanctify God’s name unless he sanctify our hearts, nor live to His glory, but by grace alone.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Volume IV, Revell, New York, 962) Turning to the New Testament, we find the same truth about our need for an inner change before we can be rightly related to God and become God fearing people emphasized in many places. I Corinthians 6:9-10 describes what the Corinthians were like before they became Christians. They lived lives of debauchery and immorality, there was no fear of God before their eyes – they lived for themselves, they lived to please people, they did what they wanted to do, they had no regard for the God of the Bible, they had the hearts of stone of which Ezekiel was speaking. But Paul says something happened to them that changed them; he says, “Such were some of you” indicating that they were no longer living that way. What had happened to change their orientation to life? Verse 11 explains what made the change – they had been washed (cleaned up on the inside), they had been justified (declared righteous) through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ on their behalf. And more than that, the change had occurred because they had been set apart by the Holy Spirit. They heard the Word of God and, as they did, the Spirit of God convicted them of their sin, brought them to repentance over their sin and to faith in Christ. Through the work of the Holy Spirit using God’s Word and through the atoning work of Jesus Christ they had been cleansed on the inside and the inside cleansing then manifested itself in their changed attitude toward themselves, toward sin, toward life and especially toward God. In the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, God gave them a new heart, a new spirit, a new disposition that enabled them to do what they could not have done previously. He replaced their old inner control center which was under the control of sin with a new inner control center under the control of God. Or in the words of Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians, Christ had come to them through the Gospel and by the Spirit and had made them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). As a result, they could bring glory to God and live a God fearing life (I Corinthians 6:19, 20; 10:31).
How can we develop the fear of God or a stronger faith in God? How can we overcome unbelief and doubt? The first requirement for developing and sustaining a God – fearing manner of life is being cleaned up on the inside, receiving forgiveness through the sacrificial death of Christ (I John 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21); being declared righteous by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ (Romans 3:24, 25) by faith in Christ alone. When that happens, a person becomes a new creature in Christ, receives a new heart and spirit which God provides for all who come to Him through Christ and becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who enables Him to live a God centered and God honoring life (Romans 8:9-13; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 3:17-19). As Peter puts it in I Peter 1, because a person is redeemed by Christ he should and can live his entire life on this earth as a God fearing person. Experiencing redemption from the penalty and power of our sin sets us free to live our lives in the fear of the Lord. (I Peter 1:17-19). This kind of a life is only possible for those who have been redeemed, but it is possible for all who are redeemed. John Bunyan explains, “This fear flows from a new heart. This fear is not in man by nature; the fear of devils they may have, as also an ungodly fear of God, but this fear is not in any, but where there dwelleth a new heart, another fruit and effect of this everlasting covenant, and of this distinguishing love of God. …So then, until a man receive a heart from God, a heart from heaven, a new heart, he has not this fear of God in him. … This fear of God must not be, cannot be found in old hearts; old hearts are not bottles out of which this fear proceeds, but it is from an honest and good heart, from a new one, from such an one that is also the effect of the everlasting covenant, and the love of God to men. He therefore that has not received at the hands of God a new heart, cannot fear the Lord.” (John Bunyan, The Complete Works of John Bunyan, Volume II, The National Foundation for Christian Education, Marshallton, Delaware, p.423.) This, then, is the first factor in answering the questions: how can I develop a strong, robust fear of God? How can I overcome unbelief and doubts? If you are serious about overcoming unbelief and doubts you must examine yourself to make sure you really have had a supernatural change of heart.
This is only one of many factors, but since it is a foundational factor to everything else I will say in future blogs I wanted to begin here in that here is where God starts. (God willing, we will move on to other factors in the near future.)
THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT CHURCH LEADERSHIP
In Acts 14:23, we read that “they” appointed elders in every church. Who were the “they” who appointed elders? Well, the “they” of verse 23 must be interpreted in the light of the “they” of verses 21 and 22. Clearly the “they” of verses 21 and 22 refers to the missionary team of Paul.
I Timothy 3:1 along with many other passages indicate that elders are overseer. What does it mean to be an overseer? Are elders to be underseers who wait for the congregation to make the decisions and then follows through with their orders? Are they to check everything out with the congregation? Where does the checking out begin and where does it stop? How much and how little do the elders have the congregation vote on? On what issues should they do this and on what issues should they not do this?
In I Timothy 3:4, 5 the Bible says that elders are responsible to manage the church of God? What does managing involve? Does this mean that the elders should put everything up for a vote and then simply orchestrate what the congregation has decided? Where does managing start and where does it stop?
Later in I Timothy 5:17 Scripture talks about the elders ruling? What does that mean? Again, should they put everything up for a vote and let the congregation decide how they and the church should function on issues not clearly spelled out in Scripture?
Chapter 5:18 – 25 gives instructions about how elders should be selected, taken care of, treated and even disciplines. Well, to whom were these instructions primarily given? Who was responsible to do these things? I think I Timothy 1:1, 2 makes it very clear that Timothy as a prototype elder/pastor was responsible to carry out these instructions. Certainly every elder will want to seek the counsel of, gather the opinion and affirmation of godly people. It would be foolish and prideful as well as unbiblical for elders not to do this.
Moving on – what did Paul mean when he said that it was the responsibility of Titus who was functioning as an elder/pastor at the church in Crete to set in order what remains and to appoint elders in every city (1:5). Was he telling Titus who again was a prototype of all elders and pastors to put these issues up to a vote? And when he told him in 1:10, 11 to silence the “rebellious, empty talkers’ was he suggesting that it was necessary for Titus to call a congregational meeting and ask the congregation for their approval before he did this?
And what did Paul mean when he wrote to the Thessalonians and told them that the elders had charge over them in the Lord? What does it mean to have charge? What was the nature of their authority? Certainly it involved faithfully preaching God’s Word and commanding people to obey it? But did their authority extend to other congregational issues such as scheduling the time of the services, choosing what hymns should be sung, choosing the days on which special services were to be held, selecting elders, selecting Bible Study materials, etc.? Did they first have to bring these items up to the congregation in terms of the decisions that were made? Having “charge” must mean something.
Why have elders at all? Why not just have congregational meetings? Why should it be necessary for the elders to be prudent and hold fast to the faithful word if what they do must first be submitted to the congregation for a vote? What is the point to having elders and calling them overseers if they are primarily followers when it comes to important issues of congregational life?
Scripture calls elders Shepherds (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1, 2). What does it mean to be a Shepherd? Does a shepherd have any responsibility to lead – to set the pace or should the sheep be doing the leading?
And what about Hebrews 13:7? What does verse 7 mean when it says that Christians in the congregation should imitate the faith or faithfulness of their leaders? What does Scripture mean when it speaks of the fact that the leaders are to lead Christians. What does it mean to lead? Certainly elders are to lead by teaching the Word of God, but is that all the Bible means by leading. What about issues where there is not a clear thus saith the Lord? What about issues where we can’t turn to the Word for specific direction? As mentioned previously, certainly in keeping with Proverbs 15:22 and 11:14 any godly elder will be interested in the perspectives of the people even as any godly husband who is charged with the responsibility to manage and lead his wife and family will seek the counsel of his wife. And unless he has some very good, in most cases biblical reason for not following her counsel he won’t do something which she strongly opposes. In similar fashion godly elders will avoid being authoritarian. Certainly they will consult with the people over whom they have God given leadership responsibilities when making important decisions. Certainly, as godly husbands will listen to their wives, godly elders will listen to their people and be slow to do anything with which the people in their church disagree unless it is specifically commanded by Scripture.
And what does Hebrews 13:17 mean when it says that the people of the church are to obey their leaders and submit to them? Certainly this doesn’t mean that church members are to obey and submit to their elders on issues that are contrary to Scripture? Nor, does it mean that Christians are obligated to obey and submit to their elders on issues to which the Scripture does not speak or even give guiding principles. But when it comes to matters related to the elders fulfilling their God given responsibilities such leading the church, feeding and teaching the church, caring for the church, protecting the church, motivating the church, watching over the souls of the people in the church, guiding and overseeing the church, disciplining wayward church members and rescuing people who have gone astray, the members are responsible to obey and submit to them and do their best to make their ministry a joy and a delight (I Thessalonians 5:12,13; Hebrews 13:17).
And incidentally, if you want to read more about the biblical concept of leadership in the church and what it means for Christians to obey and submit to their elders, you will find more exposition of these issues in a book that David Swavely and I wrote called Life in the Father’s House. You may order a copy of this from www.mackministries.org or http://www.audubonpress.com.
My son, the other blogger on this site asked me to answer the question: How have you normally dealt with a person who just won’t stop talking? A conversation dominator in counseling? So here goes!
One answer to that question is the one I observed Bob Newhart giving on his television program when counseling a woman who said she was panic struck by the thought of being buried in a box. When this woman told him her problem he asked her if she was ready for the answer. She said she was and then asked if she should write his answer down. Newhart said that he didn’t think she’d need to do that because his answer would be only two words and he thought that most people could remember the two words without writing them down. Then he said, “Here are the two words: Stop it.” When she tried to bring up other problems he would either say, “We don’t go there” or “Stop it.”So my advice to the counselor who has a person who won’t stop talking is that he/she should say and keep saying, “Stop it” or “We don’t go there.”
Actually I’m just joking in what I just wrote. In reality, Newhart’s solution is only a part (the last part) of what I would do. There is much that I would do prior to using the Newhart technique. Before I lovingly and yet forthrightly told this person to “stop it” I would want to investigate this persons reason for wanting to dominate the conversation. Proverbs 18:13 warns us about answering a matter before we have really investigated what is going on. There may be many reasons why a person dominates the conversation in counseling and you can be fairly sure that if that person dominates the conversation in the counseling session they are also doing that outside the counseling session. This person’s behavior in counseling then becomes a counseling issue with which the counselor must deal.
Here are some of the most common reasons why a person may dominate conversations in or out of the counseling session:
1). Pride – Romans 12:3; 3 John 9, 10; Prov. 18:2;
2). Selfishness – lack of love for God and others – 2 Tim. 3:2;
3). Fear of silence, not wanting to appear dumb – Prov. 29:25;
5). Past training – parental influence, example, neglect;
6). Poor listening habits on the part of other people or on the part of the speaker;
7). Desire to control what is discussed thereby avoid talking about unpleasant issues – avoidance technique;
8). Desire to force other person into submission, convince, overpower;
9). Ignorance of the harm it does – Prov. 17:9;
10). Frustration, anger, desire to punish the other person;
11). Most important reason why some people overtalk = impure heart – Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45.
That brings us to the issue of how to help a person overcome the problem of talking too much or, in biblical terms, the problem of being a “babbling fool” (Proverbs 10:8, 19 in or out of the counseling session. Here are several suggestions:
1). Identify that the person has a problem in this area – mention your observation and give reasons for your observation.
2). Then ask them whether or not they recognize that they are doing this.
3). Then ask them to answer the question why they think they are doing this? Help them to identify the reason for their overtalk – why do you think you practice overtalk?
4). Have them read chapter 7 in Your Family God’s Way and take the inventory about the forms of overtalk at the end of the chapter and also have them complete the inventory about the reasons for overtalk at the end of the chapter.
5). Have them study and reflect on the Scriptures that deal with overtalk such as Proverbs 10:8,19; 17:9; 15:28; Ephesians 5:3,4.
6). Have them memorize such verses as Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 10:19; 12:23; 17:27, 28 and review these verses regularly.
7). For a period of time have them keep a daily journal in which at the end of the day they evaluate their communication efforts in terms of times they dominated and why they did it.
8). Remind them that overtalk that violates biblical principles is sin. .
9). Tell them that if they practice overtalk that violates biblical principles and if their reasons for overtalk are sinful, they must confess their sin to God, ask Him for forgiveness and help.
10). Instruct them to make themselves accountable to someone else who will remind them when you are guilty of overtalk.
11). Give them an assignment to memorize and regularly pray the prayer of the Psalmist – Psalm 19:14; Psalm 141:3
12). Have them memorize and regularly pray the prayer of Elizabeth Eliot.
“Lord, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it. Give me wisdom to keep silent when silence is wise. Remind me that not everything needs to be said and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.”
13). Explain and apply the truth of Matthew 12:34, 36, 37 and Proverbs 4:23; 27:19 to them.
“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart…Every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Ask them what they think these texts mean and how they apply to them. Make sure you tell them that these texts mean that our words are important; that they mean God listens to our speech and remembers what we say; they means if they are violating God’s will in this area by dominating conversations of life they should want to change. These texts mean that if we are violating His will to our attention we will be concerned about it and that if we are guilty of overtalk in any of the ways we’ve mentioned and for any of the reasons we’ve mentioned we’ll want to change because this kind of behavior is displeasing to God and because it will hinder our relationships with and our godly impact on other people.
These texts mean that if our behavior violates God’s Word the ultimate problem is not with our behavior; it is with our hearts. They mean that change must begin in the heart through recognizing the problem, confession, repentance, faith, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, getting their heart cleansed from sinful motives and filling their hearts with godly thoughts and desires and disciplining themselves to put off this unbiblical behavior and put on godly speech patterns through practice – Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 4:23; James 4:8; I Timothy 4:7.
Then after working though all of these issues in counseling if they still continue the practice of dominating the conversation in counseling you may use the Newhart technique and say with emphasis, “Stop it” and “We don’t go there” because it is displeasing to God and will hinder your effectiveness and fruitfulness for Him in this world.
BIOPSYCHIATRY Psychiatry is back or is it? That’s the question I responded to in a letter to a friend who has been influenced by relatively recent ideas about why behave badly.
I’m writing this letter to share a few of my thoughts and concerns about understanding the causes of and solutions to what the Bible would call ungodly, sinful behavior. In a recent class which you attended I made a strong point about the importance for Christian counselors put ting biblical labels on the problems of people. I warned against the danger of being reductionistic. I wanted students to know that the broad spectrum of what the world may call schizophrenia or other so called serious psychological problems may have many causes with one of them being something physiological or organic.
In my own counseling experience over the last thirty or more years, I have encountered in counseling a number of people who have been labeled schizophrenic who have never had any serious physical tests to determine the presence of physiological factors. These people were labeled that way because the physician or psychologist saw the symptoms mentioned in the DSM 4r and concluded without any physiological evidence that the person was suffering fro m a disease called schizophrenia. My point in saying what I said to my students was that they should not let the bizarre stuff frighten them. I encouraged my students to send counselees with bizarre behavior to get a thorough check up but I also wanted them to look for garden variety biblically identified problems. In my judgment, doing otherwise destroys hope in the counselee and the person who may be trying to help. It is my conviction based on clear biblical teaching that wrong, unbiblical thinking and behavior messes people up in many ways and sometimes results in weird and bizarre conduct. I believe that if we buy into the world’s definition of the nature and causes of all schizophrenic behavior we have locked a person into hopelessness. And I simply will not do that.
I agree with you that some (? much) bizarre behavior may be manipulative or learned patterns of response and behavior and other bizarre behavior may be connected to something with an organic basis. But since I’m not omniscient and since I can’t quickly distinguish between the non-organic and the organic when I encounter in counseling a person with bizarre behavior I begin to counsel the person looking for the things the Bible indicates may be connected to strange behavior and then go on to present the biblical solution.
To this point in history there have been at least three periods of history where the pendulum has swung to biopsychiatry for diagnosis and solution to human problems. One followed the Civil war where the rage was “neurasthenia”; a second was during the 1940’s and 1950’s where the solution to serious problems was electro shock therapy or having a lobotomy and now since the early 1990’s the emphasis is has been on genetic structures and brain chemistry. In biopsychiatry, the solution for problems that involve clearly unbiblical behavior and ways of living is directed toward localizing brain function, greasing the neuroelectrical system and buoying up our chemistry.
I simply have problems believing that the solution to what the Bible would identify as sin is found in any of these things. I have a theological presuppositional problem as well as a historical problem with that kind of approach. I do not believe because of my biblical anthropology and hamartiology that the main cause of or solution to severe or less severe problems with anger, fear, pride, selfishness, sexual promiscuity of any kind or violence can be relegated to the realm of the organic or genetic. I do not believe that in reference to behavior that the Bible calls sinful behavior (I John 3:4; James 4:17) that we are helpless pawns of our physiology.
And one more thing, as I’ve stated previously, it’s true because we are sinners that some bizarre behavior may be manipulative behavior and, in some cases, it’s probably true that some organic difficulties may make it difficult for a person to concentrate or think constructively or process information, but how do I know which it is? How can I distinguish between a problem involving an physical inability to think and a problem involving a person that is practicing manipulative behavior or that is trying to avoid responsibility or that just doesn’t want to hear what is being said (biblically the old stick your fingers in your ears trick – Acts 7:57)?
In counseling a real person, when I see bizarre behavior, do I assume that the person with bizarre behavior has an organic difficulty or do I realize that the person may have developed a pattern of tuning out, of running away in his mind and that that person may have become very skillful at spacing out? How do I distinguish between someone who has through practice of unbiblical thinking and ways of handling life withdrawn more and more from reality and the person who is manifesting psychotic symptoms related to genetic issues?
Another question – did the genetic difference suddenly appear or was it there all the time? If so, why wasn’t the person behaving weirdly previously? If it was there previously, can the person’s bizarre behavior be totally connected to the genetic issue or is there more involved? It seems to me that to prove that any one genetic difference is the cause of what is called schizophrenia or any other so called psychological problem you would have to prove that no one who is not schizophrenic had that genetic difference. What is the proof that a genetic malfunction is the cause of schizophrenia? Could that genetic difference be true of a person, but not necessarily the cause – perhaps it is one of many things.
I find it very interesting that research seems to indicate that often the time of life when the weird stuff seems to manifest itself is when a young person leaves home (one family systems therapist observed this and wrote a book which I think was called Leaving Home; others have observed the same phenomena). Research also seems to indicate that the person who manifests this bizarre behavior often comes from a seriously disturbed family. Then too, another time when bizarre behavior often manifests itself is when a person is old and seems to be experiencing senility or Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have seemed to indicate that there are times when schizophrenic behavior in older people is also related to a lack of meaning and purpose in life. They have nothing to live for, nothing really to occupy their minds. Giving them something to live for and helping them to understand that they can make important contributions has helped some of them to get rid of their bizarre behavior and begin to live meaningfully and in touch with reality lives again. I saw that very thing happening very recently in a counseling case with an 85 year old person in the last few weeks. I’m not suggesting that all bizarre behavior with older people is related to a lack of meaning and purpose for life, but I do believe that it is sometimes the case. I fully believe that if we don’t fill our minds and lives with the right stuff all kinds of weird stuff can happen.
Anyway, these are some of the things I’ve been thinking and struggling with recently. I pass them on to you for your consideration. Thanks for listening or reading.
I talked to someone recently who was willing to change.
It was refreshing. He had an opinion, a strong one, but he was willing to talk about it. And you know what, he was willing to at least examine whether or not he might be wrong.
I almost had a hard time believing it. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. I don’t think I was surprised as much that he was willing to change, as I was that he was willing to change.
Now I need to be sure I’m clear here.
I’m not talking about him specifically.
He’s a humble man and I should have known better. He’s always proved himself willing to listen.
I’m actually talking more about the male gender. I don’t know if this is true in every church, but one of the things I’ve seen church planting is that a new church often attracts men, especially middle aged men, who are just flat out arrogant.
From my perspective, the arrogance of younger men is a little different. It’s more cocky, but if you love them at least they’ll usually listen. And older men, at least the older men I know that are still coming to church, they have been refreshingly willing to listen.
But there is a certain kind of middle age man, (emphasis on certain kind, I’ve got a number of really godly middle aged men at my church)there is a certain kind of middle age man who typically is just not.
I call him the middle age drifter.
I don’t call them drifters because they have left one church for another. I call them drifters because they hardly ever stay at any one church for long. Typically we’re talking, months.
From the way they tell it, it is because there just aren’t any good churches out there.
I used to believe them.
It definitely made me feel good about what we were doing. But now, when someone says that to me, especially a middle aged drifter, I’m a little more doubtful.
I know there probably aren’t that many good churches out there. I know that there are alot of churches with problems out there. I know there are really good reasons to leave a church. I know that some places in America it is really hard to find a good church, but still where I’m at, this isn’t like Turkey or Uzbekistan or any place like that.
There are churches out there where you can hear the Word.
The tricky thing with most of the drifters I’ve met is that they usually know the Word. A little.
Spend some time with them though and you find out they think they know it alot. And they really want you to know that they think they know it alot. They’ll quote a reference and ask if you know it. Or they’ll thank you for the message because it reminded them of some truths they already learned along time ago.
It’s not just that they think they know alot, though. Some of them actually might. It’s not like that in is a sin. The real problem is an unwillingness to learn any more.
I think this is one of the things I love most about my dad, he’s been studying the Scripture for years and years, but when he comes to church and he listens to someone, he’s still taking notes. I can’t count how many times he’s come home from a church service excited about an insight.
I guess I’m rambling but I’m mostly writing this down as a note to self. I’m on my way to middle age and when I get there, I want to remember there is hardly anything uglier than a proud Christian middle age man. I mean, proud non-Christians aren’t that pretty either but at least they aren’t using the Scripture to justify their pride!
So Josh, remember no matter how much you might think you know you still don’t know that much. And what you do know, you usually forget. And what you do remember, you need to be challenged to apply. You haven’t arrived and you won’t until you get to heaven. You have nothing to prove.
Just sit down and listen. Oh yeah, and learn!
The following is a version of a letter I sent to a good friend who was thinking about leaving a good church and beginining to attend another church for less than biblical reasons. I decided to incude this letter on our blogsite because this practice of church hopping and shopping is so common among professing Christians and because it is harmful to the individual Christian and the work of Christ in this world.
I received some disappointing news that you are thinking about leaving the church. Carol and I love you and your family and are sorry that you are even thinking about moving churches. We are sorry for a number of reasons. One is for your sake and the sake of your children. When a person joins a church there are commitments that are made that should not be easily broken. It is legitimate to leave a church if the church has become apostate and no longer is faithful to the Word.
Church is not just an organization where you go to get; it is an organism where you go to give as well as get, to minister as well as be ministered to. I would encourage you to read my book To Be Or Not to Be A Church Member: That Is the Question. That books lays out the basis for church membership and also discusses the responsibilities of church members. Consider what you are teaching your children about commitment and service.
It may also be legitimate to move to another church if the church to which you presently belong is teaching erroneous doctrine or practicing a philosophy of minstry that is seriously in contradiction to what God’s Word teaches or majoring on what may be considerered as minor, secondary issues. In keeping with and included in what I have just mentioned would be a church where either the leaders or congregation are allowed to live ungodly lives without appropriate church discipline being administered.
Unless I misunderstand your reasons for considering a move, none of the things I’ve mentioned apply in your situation. I’m not getting the impression you think your present church has become apostate; nor from what I understand are you saying your present church is majoring on certain issues to the neglect of other important issues. Nor do I hear you saying that they are overlooking obvious and flagrant ungodliness on the part of the leaders or congregation.
It may also be legitimate to change church membership because you are being called to fulfill a ministry there that no one else is fulfilling and that you could not fullfiill at your present church. In reference to your situation, I know the area pretty well and I am convinced that there is not another church in the area that more faithfully and practically and relevantly and accurately preaches the Word and ministers to people. Does your present church need to improve? Absolutely, as is true with the best of churches.
I know of some men who, after much thought, research and counsel with godly, humble, seasoned and mature men (especially involving the elders/shepherds of present church to which they belonged) decided to accept the call to to another area of ministry because there was no one else that was doing or was even equipped to do what they were being asked to do. When they made the decision to move to another ministry they did it after discussing the move with other elders of their present church and they made the decision because they fully expected that gifted, committed, devoted men like you would step up and make sure their present church would continue and expand its ministry in the area where they were located and through their present church to the ends of the earth after they had gone. If it were just a matter of personal preference I guarantee that these men and their families would not have even considered leaving their churches. Their going had nothing to do with what they would personally preferred. It was all about Him – For these men to live is Christ (Philippians 1:20 – 23; Matthew 6:33). It would have been easier and much more comfortable for them to live out the rest of their days at their present church and in their familiar circumstances, but they decided to deny themselves the easy path and move for the sake of unique ministry opportunities and needs. Have you considered these issues and have you consulted carefully with and listened to the elders/ shepherds under whose care you have placed yourself? (Hebrews 13:17; I Thessalonians 5:12,13)
Another reason why the news that you are thinking about moving to another church is disappointing to us is related to the impact that this will have on the people of your present church. My friend, have you considered the impact that leaving may have on the work of Christ at your present church? You and others like you are needed where you are. This is the time for devoted, unselfish, committed, energetic, zealous men to step up to the plate and be a part of expanding the ministry of your present church rather than hindering that work by leaving. Please I beg you to think carefully about the impact on the other people and on the total ministry of the church. And remember, my friend, the truth of a the statement that someone passed on to me. The statement was that if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it’s probably because it’s artificial turf. I encourage you, therefore, to stay and make your present church more fruitful and useful to the Kingdom than it ever has been.
Please also consider what kind of an impact this will have on your unsaved relatives (parents for example) and friends. What kind of a message will you be sending about Christ and about the church to them and to others who know about your participation in your present church? You must realize that as a Christian whatever you do will be either positive or negative in its apologetic and evangelistic value. Is it any wonder that unsaved people have a low opinion of the importance of the church and commitment to the church when many Christians have a very low view of the church and commitment to it?
And when you think about apologetics and evangelism to an unsaved world, consider these words from Ravi Zacharias. Ravi Zacharias is quoted as saying, “If the church of Jesus Christ rises to the challenge of HIV/AIDS it will be the greatest apologetic the world has ever seen.” Jesus tells us that one of the ways we are to seek His fame is by doing good works. “Let your shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” We believe that we as Christians have a unique opportunity to do just that by demonstrating the grace of God through sacrificial love for HIV/AIDS affected orphans.
I agree with Ravi. I know that your present church is very concerned about meeting the needs of the hurting and helpless and disadvantaged people of the world. They demonstrate that through their giving and praying for missionaries who minister to perople like that. They also demonstrate their concern and compassion through what they do for each other and hurting people in the area where the church is located. Well, I believe that being part of a church like this that is concerned about meeting the needs of the hurting and helpless and disadvantaged people has more apologetic and evangelistic value than all the words in the world.
Many today think very lightly of church membership. In fact, there are many who seem to be involved in the rolling stone or should I say switching churches phenomena. There are, as I have noted, legitimate reasons for moving your church membership, but the reasons that impell most people to move from one church to another are usually quite different from the ones I have mentioned. And, to me, this is serious.
And just how serious is it? Well, listen to what John Calvin said in his widely read and treasured work The Institutes of Christian Religion. Calvin wrote,”The Lord esteems the communion of his Church so highly that he counts as traitor and apostate from Christianity anyone who arrogantly leaves any Christian society, provided it cherishes the true ministry of the Word and sacraments.” ((page 1024) Could Calvin have stated the seriousness of church hopping more strongly than he did in this statement? If he could, I don’t know how. And while, I may think that the words he used were a bit over the top and perthaps stated too strongly, I do agree with his conviction that switching churches for less than biblical reasons is a serious matter.
So my friend, I ask you to please think on these things. Don’t leap before you look. Remember Romans 14:23, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” meaning, of course, that if we do anything without a conviction that it is supported by God’s Word we are sinning. The point being that I am encouraging you to make sure that what you are doing is according to God’s law and testimony (Isaiah 8:19, 20). I’m not saying that it is always wrong to change churches, but what I am saying is that if we do, we need to make sure we’re doing it with the approval of our God.
Be assured that we love you and will always do so regardless of what you decide. Carol joins with me in extending our warmest regards.
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Romans 14:7, 8
People have asked for a listing of items for prayer: So here is that list.
Please pray for the items on Joshua’s previous blog about him and his move to RSA with all that has to be done prior to that.
Praise for God’s continuing faithfulness and goodness.
Praise for the opportunities to serve Him and for the kindness of fellow Christians.
Praise for people who love His Word and are being changed through the teaching of His Word.
Praise for the way the Lord is beginning the process of Josh and Marda’s move to RSA.
Praise to God for Werner and Thomas and Hanrais IN South Africa who are looking after our house in Pretoria while we are away.
Praise to God for the dear brothers and sisters in RSA who love Christ and love us and are praying for us.
Praise to God for His mercy and grace and willingness to put up with us and even use us in spite of our weakness and frailty.
Praise to God for the students who are continuing to enroll at Grace School of Ministry for courses this October.
Praise for the publishing of my books Out of the Blues and Sweethearts for a Lifetime.
Praise to God for the dedicated pastors and people of The Bible Church of Little Rock who take care of us and provide for us while in the USA.
Praise to God for the way He is blessing and expanding the ministry of The Bible Church of Little Rock and other churches in the USA.
Praise to God for the 49 years of marriage that Carol and I have been privileged to have with each other.
Praise to God for 49 years of privileged service for Christ that Carol and I have had together in various parts of the USA, other parts of the world and now in RSA.
Praise to God for all the people who have loved us, encouraged us, challenged us, comforted us, been loyal to us, ministered to us, put up with us and been willing to allow us to minister to them for the last 49 years.
Pray for our continuing courses we’re teaching here in Little Rock (3 times a week) and then on to Mexico for a conference at the beginning of September.
Pray for healing for Carol’s hand.
Pray for the stabilization of my blood sugar level.
Pray for all the things that need to fall into place before Josh and family move to RSA.
Pray for strength to do all we must do prior to our return to RSA.
Pray for more eager students for Grace School of Ministry courses in October. We already have a sizable enrollment, but would still ike to have more.
Pray for more godliness and improved likeness to Christ on our part.
Pray for Ryan, Ian, Joel and others in RSA who are working on GSM and Tschofleo orphanage details in RSA.
Pray for all of the details related to the development of Tshofelo orphanage in Pretoria, for Hanrais, for the board, for all the necessary government details to be expedited, for the raising of funds for constructing the buildings.
Pray that God might cause people to give so that the funds necessary for the operation of GSM and Tshofelo orphanages and training schools might be raised.
Pray for a movement of the Spirit in bringing people to Christ and building them up in Christ in RSA and the USA and all over the world.
Pray for our families that all of them might be increasingly devoted to Christ and serve Him with all their hearts. Pray for them and us as we are separated from one another.
Pray for the Christians in America that they might realize that since God has blessed us with material blessings they might recognize their stewardship and more diligently use what they have for His glory.
Pray for the ministry in which our daughter, Beth, is involved in the Joburg area – Lambano orphanage homes and Grace Christian Church and Mercy Christian Church.
Pray for Pastors Lance Quinn, James Henrich and Todd Murray as they leave soon to speak at a Reformation conference in Zambia sponsored by the church where Conrad Mbewe is the pastor. They are expecting pastors and people from many parts of Africa. They will also be making contact with Christian leaders in South Africa to see how they can partner with the churches in RSA in ministry.
I could go on, but that’s probably as much as you can handle for the present. Thanks you for your support.
http://www.themacks.wordpress.comYours because we’re His,
Wayne and Carol Mack
Psalm 115:1; Romans 14:7, 8
Missionaries to South Africa
Professor of Biblical Counseling at Grace School of Ministry in South Africa
Adjunct Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College (July)
The title of this post is also the title of a new book I’ve written and recently had published by Focus Publishing. In the book I attempt to deal with what has been called the common cold of mental ailments from a distinctly biblical perspective.
The back cover puts it this way: if you are not facing the problem now, you know someone who is or one day you will personally face it. Moreover since this is true, it is my conviction that it is important for all of us to know how to deal with depression as God intended. It is my conviction that each of us needs to know how to define and describe depression accurately ahd biblically; we need to know how and why depression develops and we need to know a biblical procedure for defeating or preventing depression for our own sakes and for the sake of helping others.
The question is: do you know how to do these things? You can and you should. So get to work studying Scripture on the subject and after you’ve done that you may want to do more research by reading the book Out of the Blues.