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Numbers for our ministry in July only!

July 31, 2008 Leave a comment

We just completed the fourth month of ministry and here are our numbers for 8 full-time days of ministry in July 2008 only:

Serving in 2 church locations (with several more very likely in near future)

Training 20 people at one church location to do the work of discipleship through biblical counseling

71 people counseled this month

22 NEW counselees – most referred by their Pastor OR by a Friend (who heard about our ministry)

We utilized 2 new biblical counselor volunteers – total of 43 biblical counselors showed up on the 8 days that we counsel – to do the work of ministry this month alone!

75 hours of counseling in just 8 days!

Remember that in those 75 hours we use 2 counselors for every one session! It’s a unique team approach.

48 of 58 available counseling slots were utilized (some not used due to No Shows and Late Cancellations)

Most people we serve are in the 18-40 years of age range.

Exciting stats for just 8 full days of ministry in the infancy of Truth in Love! Praise the Lord that His Hands are upon us. He alone is blessing us for His own glory!

-Mark (looking forward to a bright future at TIL as God leads this ministry to where He desires it to be)

Please Respond: Sloppy Agape OR Lazy Legalism? To which side of the “ditch” do you tend to fall into?

July 31, 2008 7 comments

To which side do you err upon: sloppy agape OR lazy legalism? I guess to answer the question, you need to know what I mean by these terms! My former pastor used these phrases when teaching and they have stuck with me.

Sloppy Agape = the idea that grace abounds by God so one can allow anything and everything – even sin -to continue without rules, order, or consequences

Lazy Legalism = the idea that more stringent rules than biblical commands which are invented by mankind must restrict anything and everything (even non-sinful issues) produces godliness

Sloppy Agape is often characterized by taking away from God’s Word while Lazy Legalism is adding to God’s Word. Both are entirely wrong (Rev. 22:18-19).

What does the Bible say about Sloppy Agape in Romans 6:1-4: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

What did Jesus say about Lazy Legalism in Matt. 15:8-9: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain, do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Later in verse 14 of that same chapter, Jesus says that the blind will lead the blind into the “ditch” of Lazy Legalism.

So which side of the ditch do you typically fall into and why?

I’d really like to read your responses to this question! I admittedly fall into the sloppy agape side of the ditch too often (but have fallen into lazy legalism sometimes, too).

-Mark (praying that the Holy Spirit will keep us balanced when speaking His truth in love through our biblical counselors at TIL)

(All verses taken from the The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (electronic ed.) . Good News Publishers: Wheaton.)

Hearing from God FIRST in corporate worship often leads to…

July 28, 2008 Leave a comment

…more responsive singing by our congregation! Four weeks ago at our church, we changed the order of service slightly. Here’s what we did: we simply adjusted the order of worship to have the preaching of the Word EARLIER in the service (10-15 minutes into it).

What was our reasoning? Plain and simple: We HEAR from the Holy Spirit FIRST through the preaching of the Word and then RESPOND with joy and gladness in our singing praises to our sovereign King and sweet Savior Jesus! So far, it has been a resounding success. Our members have responded to God with joyful singing to worship Him!

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

Again, the logic is very simple and really based upon our salvation experience: God speaks to us and then we respond.

Prayer is talking to God and is important yet personally, I always desire to HEAR from Him first; therefore, I try to read HIs Word BEFORE I pray in the mornings. What about you? Do you want to hear from Him before you speak to Him or does it matter to you?

-Mark (learning to listen to Him first before I begin talking to Him)

Is there an UNbeliever in your midst?

July 28, 2008 Leave a comment

With all of my posts about unbelievers recently, do you know any unbelievers? If so, are they in your family, close friends, acquaintances at work, school, or church?

How do you know if they are unbelievers? How can you tell? Do you have a plan to share the Gospel with them…soon?

-Mark (asking questions, blogging briefly)

Primary Diagnosis: Unbeliever (part 6)

July 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Psalm 32:1-5: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

 

Sinful thinking and actions produce “out of control” emotions to bring the person to their knees in repentance. Sadly, if all that is addressed are the symptoms of emotions by a secularist, then the person will remain undiagnosed as an “unbeliever” and fail to repent resulting in NO forgiveness of sins. 

 

I John 1:8-10 states: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 

 

My point with all of these blog entries is that often we misdiagnose sin OR even worse, we fail to diagnose it all. A key first step in biblical counseling is diagnosing sin accurately so we can deal with the heart. Is the person a Christian or not? Then, we desire to lead the counselee to the cross of Christ for forgiveness and the remission of sins. Next, we teach how practically the Bible speaks to overcoming the problem through the power of Christ. 

 

If the counselee is a believer already, he/she will most often want to repent.

 

If the counselee is an unbeliever, then he/she will only want to repent if the Holy Spirit works in his/her heart to bring conviction.

 

It is up to the biblical counselor to be a “fruit inspector” to judge the fruit produced (or lack thereof) in the life of the counselee (not the HEART) and to honestly assess what is being said and done by the counselee that is sinful according to biblical standards and not personal standards.

 

If the counselee repents of his/her sin, then all rejoice. If not, then the counselee leaves unchanged and if an unbeliever, bound for an eternal destination of destruction. Often, the biblical counselor is heart-broken that the counselee failed to repent and may end up more sad than the counselee, believe it or not!

 

Our desire is to see people come face-to-face with Christ, to repent for sins, and to receive the AWESOME gift of forgiveness. They will then be able to learn how to replace sinful thoughts, words, and actions with godly thoughts, words, and actions that are pleasing to Christ.

 

-Mark (wanting all we serve at TIL to come to the knowledge of the Gospel to receive the gift of forgiveness)

 

all verses excerpted from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (electronic ed.). Good News Publishers: Wheaton.

 

 

 

 

 

Primary Diagnosis: Unbeliever (part 5)

July 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Psalm 32:1-5: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

 

Most secular counselors deal with EMOTIONS first rather than deal with the sinful thoughts and actions that led to these emotions. Had that happened to King David when Nathan the Prophet “biblically counseled” him, David would not have repented and would not have received the forgiveness of sins.

 

Here’s the process: thinking leads to actions which leads to emotions. Sometimes, thinking leads to emotions before leading to actions; regardless, the whole process begins with one’s THINKING as the primary CAUSE.

 

Emotions may appear to be overpowering the person ruled by his/her emotions, but the Bible frequently refers to self-controlled thinking overruling emotions like fear, anger, and sadness (Prov. 14:29, 15:1, 15:18, 16:32, 19:11, 29:25 to name a few).

 

The Bible holds us all responsible for how we think (Matt 5:27-30) and act REGARDLESS of our emotions. Our primary example of this is Jesus Christ Who overcame exceedingly sorrowful feelings to be obedient to the will of the Father in Matt. 26:38-39: “Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” We all know the rest of the story that Jesus obediently gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins!!!

 

Jesus did NOT allow His feelings to dictate His righteous choices. Instead, He made a conscious, responsible act according to the Father’s Will and not his will as a man.

Likewise, all of us must follow His righteous example, renew our thinking to be in line with the Bible, and then to make conscious, obedient choices as an act of our WILL to do what the Lord has called us to do for His glory – regardless of our seemingly “out of control,” powerful emotions!

 

-Mark (learning to not be led by my emotions but to do the will of the Father Who has called me to a life of ministry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary Diagnosis: Unbeliever (part 4)

July 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Psalm 32:1-5: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

 

Why does repentance not occur for those like King David today? One reason is that a person who is “out of control” emotionally prefers to believe a psychological description and label of the outward symptoms of behavior rather than to deal with the real, sinful heart issues producing the emotions and subsequent behaviors.

 

In situations that I have dealt with in the past, often the family members, too, preferred to explain away the behavior as “mental illness” rather than believe the truth that the behaviors & emotions occurred due to sinful choices and thinking. In these cases, the family members did not want to believe that their loved one could be an unbeliever and would prefer to believe that they have a “mental disability.”

 

They mistakenly wanted a physiological reason to blame the outbursts of uncontrolled emotions. King David had physiological problems according to psalm 32 (his “bones wasted away”) yet the physiological problems were not the CAUSE but were the EFFECT of his sinful choices!

 

How often do secular counselors get the CAUSE and EFFECT backwards? Unfortunately, the answer is “a lot” I’m sad to say. Secular counselors often wrongly START with emotions rather than the sinful thinking/actions that produced those out of control emotions. Any good biblical counselor will start with thinking and actions when working with an emotionally “out of control” counselee to allow the Holy Spirit to work to bring conviction of sins and renewal of the mind!

 

-Mark (dealing with those having unbiblical thoughts that must be cast down and replaced with godly thoughts in accordance with the Scriptures)