There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for good counsel

looking for a soul-mate?

“you had me at ‘hello.'”

“you complete me”

Jerry Maguire articulated perhaps what more people, than would care to admit, think.  The notion of a soul-mate–a seemingly perfectly fitted and compatible human being for marriage.  Legitimate aspiration or pipe-dream?


Gary Thomas, author of, among other things, Sacred Marriage, has a few things to say about the notion.

resolutions to die trying to live by

Death, it’s been said, is our last enemy. Though it befalls all men, it ought not ever been regarded as a purely natural event. We do not ever, as a professor I had once said, “make friends” with death. We may come to terms with it, acknowledge its reality and inevitability, learn to adjust to its demands–but never are we to smile at death, to welcome it as a benign, fortuitous thing, except in terms of what follows that death. The relief from suffering that death culminates in is a grace, but death, per se, is no cordial bedfellow. Why else would Jesus have been not merely sorrowful at Lazarus’ death, but, as the text says, indignant at its continued reality? Read the rest of this entry »

counsel of a different sort

This has been making the rounds in recent weeks. Perhaps you’ve seen it. It’s a MadTV skit featuring the side-splitting dead-pan, Bob Newhart, as a counselor. In light of our previous series on biblical change and counsel, it’s an opportunity to laugh but also to consider a feature of conventional wisdom when it comes to change–albeit in a satirical, straw-man-argument fashion.

Justin Taylor even ran this little skit by none other than David Powlison, a colleague of Paul Tripp’s (the author of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand). Here’s Powlison’s musings on what’s portrayed.

one last thing before we transition

For the next two Sundays we’ll set up the retreat by dwelling on the notion of Calling. Before we do, there’s at least onesiimage002.jpg loose end from our series on Tripp’s book I have to tie up here in these pages.

We’ve discussed for a couple months now about what’s within our realm of responsibility for pursuing change and for involving ourselves in one another’s pursuit of change. One thing I’ve intended to include each week but didn’t leave myself time for is how one moves into a community in such a way that 1) you come to benefit from the kind of loving involvement that leads to change and 2) that you come to contribute to that pursuit of change in others thusly involved. In other words, if we were to write a story of how someone came to benefit from (1) and contribute to (2) this community of change and maturity, the basic plot line, roughly outlined, might go something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

bringing the close of the book, perhaps, close to home

Do you feel like the church has elevated marriage over singleness? Insinuating, if not articulating, that life begins when youbrokenring2.jpg betroth yourself to another?

Or has the meteoric rise of divorce–even within the allegedly marriage-fortifying context of the church–sullied an earlier, more positive, view of marriage? Does the incidence of divorce and the precarious state of marriage insinuate that life might, in a sense, end when you say “I do”?

I’d like to wrap up our discussion of Tripp’s book on change and counsel by having you help us create a realistic-as-possible profile of someone in the church whose desire to be married has caused them to be so preoccupied with finding a mate, that one of two moods has emerged: either so despondent at the slight prospects of a marriage in the near-term, or so reckless in their pursuit of a mate. Specifically, I’d like you to envision how someone with either outlook would manifest that outlook in their day to day living. Read the rest of this entry »

becoming the counselor you were called to be…

Even an extended series on one book about offering biblical counsel deserves as much supplemental comment from other credible sources. Here’s one summary of what counsel in view of God’s glory entails.

beware of always outsourcing what is in your “job-description”

newt1vt5tuesap.jpgin moments like the tragedy we’re all hearing more and more about in Blacksburg, VA, it usually becomes the province of pastors and counselors to help people, if not to “make sense” of this, keep from entering into destructive patterns of bitterness, cynicism, fury, or isolation. But, while such types have had more training in helping people “cope,” I reject the notion that those not in those roles are any less responsible for helping people grieve, process, or come to terms with what’s happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

on death and dying…..and hope

When’s the last time you’ve been around someone who is dying? And what would you have said (and how would you have said it) if called upon to offer them hope? And while we’re at it, why do you think this question isn’t relevant until you’re older?
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the community you keep

We’re very late in having seen Million Dollar Baby. Surely it will test your convictions. Instead of stepping into the fierce and complicated discussion on euthanasia though, I’d like to propose a question to all of you concerning a larger theme in the background of the movie. How does the community you keep shape your view of the world, of self, and of the point to life? If she had been in a different kind of community might her outlook have been different? Or should our view of present circumstances be the final arbiter, as she allowed them to be? Discuss.