Book Review: Putting Your Past in It’s Place by Stephen Viars

“Putting Your Past in It’s Place” is a great tool for understanding how to deal with your past or for use as a tool to help another person who is struggling with his/her past.  Everyone carries a certain amount of baggage; it just depends on how people use it for God’s glory or their own foolishness. God always works our situations together for good, if we will trust Him and realize that His will is perfect and He never wastes opportunities to conform us into His image. Continue reading

Counsel: How to make observations in Bible Study

Counsel: How to make observations in Bible Study 

Recently, I have given some tools for doing Bible study using the “Bible Study and Application Format” worksheet.1It’s a simple exercise using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a pattern for looking at Scripture. To sum up, you take a passage of Scripture and do four things with it. First, record what the passage is teaching. Secondly, examine self to see how you might be failing to live according to the standard of it. Thirdly, identify the correction you need to make in order to get back on track with Scripture. And fourthly, outline a plan of action to put the correction into real living.   

To help you in doing the Bible Study and Application Format worksheet, here are several principles for doing basic Bible study.  Studying the Bible is often done in three steps: Observation, Interpretation and Application (OIA).  “Observation” is looking at a text and making observations about what is in the passage.  “Interpretation” is taking the observations and drawing out the meaning of the passage based on the context and what the original intent of the author was as he wrote to the original audience. The “Application” is the timeless truth that was true in the day it was written, but also how it applies specifically today in our culture and circumstances. 

 I often add one additional step called “Implementation,” because some people take application as merely “how does the passage ‘apply’ to me as an individual.”  What we need to do, in order to follow the model found in 2 Timothy 3:16,17, is to take the meaning of the passage and “implement” it into life.  What are the changes I need to make in my life? How should I implement the application to life?

This article focuses on observation. Here is a simple list of questions that will help you take a passage of Scripture and assist you in making observations. It really just follows the investigative reporter style. 

THE “5 W AND H” QUESTIONS 

Who is speaking?

Who is this about?

Who are the main characters?

To who is this written?

What is the subject or event covered in the chapter?

What instructions are given?

What does this tell us about the people or event?

Where was it said?

Why is this mentioned?

Why did it happen?

Why now?

Why this person?

How will it happen?

How is it to be done?

How is it illustrated?

As you make the effort to personal Bible study, you will gain richly and be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Now, when you do Bible study, consider the fourth step and add implementation (OIAI).

Psalm 119:27
Make me understand the way of They precepts So I will meditate on Thy wonders.  

Every problem I face
can be traced to an
inaccurate view of God
~ Bill Bright ~
discovergod.com
 

1The Bible Study and Application Format was posted April 14 and a recent application exercise using the acrostic SPEAK was posted April 19.

Counsel: Finding Meaning in Scripture – SPEAK

Counsel: Finding Meaning in Scripture – SPEAK

Recently, I gave a great tool for personal Bible study using the “Bible Study and Application Format” worksheet. It’s a simple exercise using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a pattern for looking at Scripture.  To sum up, you take a passage of Scripture and do four things with it.  First, record what the passage is teaching.  Secondly, examine self to see how you might be failing to live according to the standard of it.  Thirdly, identify the correction in which you need to get back on track with Scripture.  And fourthly, outline a plan of action to put the correction into real living. 
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to determine what the principles are.  This tool is designed to help you.  It’s an acrostic – SPEAK.  Each of the letters represents a word that will help you determine what the principles are from the passage.
S – Sin to confess or avoid
P – Promise to claim
E – Error to avoid/example to follow
A – Action to take/attitude to change
K – Knowledge of God to apply or praise
            By using each of the letters, you can more easily identify principles from the Word.  As you can see, the acrostic also is great for identifying the “reproof” and the “correction” aspect of the Bible Study and Application Format worksheet.
            Use this on several passages and you’ll gain tremendous confidence in making observations and applications from God’s Word.  AND you’ll be doing your own personal study, which will stick with you a much greater time than if someone just spoon-fed you.  Happy studying!

Just in case you needed the questions from the four columns of the Bible Study and Application Format Worksheet, they are below:
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Teaching– What is the commandment or principle?
Reproof– How have I failed to live by it?
Correction– What do I need to do?
Training in Righteousness-What is my specific plan- how will I do it?

 

           

 

Counsel: Think and Do List

Counsel: Think and Do List
God gave us the plan by which we can spiritually grow in this life – it is by renewing the mind. Paul records for us,
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
He also records,
                  22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt
             according to the deceitful lusts,
             23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22-24)
The best way is to focus on godly things is as Paul writes,
                  8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are
             just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good
             report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things.
 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)
As you focus on Scripture, God begins His spiritual work in your heart,
13 …for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

This “Think and Do List” exercise establishes biblical thinking, especially during times of temptation and circumstances where life-dominating sins can grab hold. It is great for planning ahead with upcoming events of surgery and other health or family issues.  It is an outstanding tool for developing a blameless thought life.  Who doesn’t have trouble with the thought life at times?  How many times have you been dissed (disrespected), and it got under your skin.  You maintained civility, but you were pretty ticked off.  You wanted to either let the person have it…or just avoid them.  You thought about it and couldn’t get your thinking off the person or the subject.  
Fortunately, you realized you weren’t going anywhere just mulling it over and over.  So how do you get your mind on something else?  This “Think and Do List” is an easy tool that anyone can develop to reorient his thinking.

Think and Do List
 
My temptations and sinful thoughts
What I should be thinking in
this situation?
 
What should I be doing in this situation?
 
 
 
 
 
 

             In the left column, list times of the day or circumstances when you know you struggle.  Remember that whether it is 5 seconds or 5 hours of sinful thoughts, it’s still sin (Jam. 4:17).  The center column is based on Philippians 4:8 and the specific thoughts that you ought to have in your times of temptation.  This includes specific truths from Scripture that apply and what God says that is true about the circumstance (Ps. 119:9, 105; 1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 4:8-9; James 1:2-4).  The right column is your plan of action to deal with the situation.  It is not your responsibility to change others or the situation, but to complete your responsibilities (Col. 3:17, 23, 24) and bless others (Rom. 12:9-21; 1 Pet. 3:8-12).
            Our words and actions happen, because they exist in the heart (Matt. 15:18-19).  Renew your thoughts and you’ll renew your words and actions. 
            For additional information, see “Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship” Supplement 9-10, pages 460-465.

 

Counsel: Bible Study and Application Format

Counsel: Bible Study and Application Format

How many times have you led someone to Jesus Christ and been asked the question “Okay, now what?”  You have been a Christian for a while, but their question sends you to the inner resources of your mind and you come out with a brilliant blank!  Or maybe you wanted to get started yourself and you don’t know where to begin studying in Scripture and you think, “If only I had a book that could tell me how to study or what to study in the Bible.”
            We often get the notion that we need another resource or person to dig into the Bible.  Certainly, everyone should begin their spiritual journey with a disciple-maker.  That’s the model that Jesus provided (Matt. 28:19-20).  Yet, you can gain a great deal of wisdom by doing your own personal study. The exercise below is a simple and easy tool to help you gain spiritual strength to dig into Scripture.
            This simple tool is called the “Bible Study and Application Format.”  It is based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  It’s likely easiest to understand in a chart form.

Bible Study and Application Format: (Biblical Reference)
 
Teaching- What is the
commandment or principle?
 
Reproof- How have I failed to live by it?
 
Correction- What do I need to do?
 
Training in Righteousness-
What is my specific plan- how will I do it?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Let me explain how simple it is and how you can gain immediate growth. First, choose a passage of Scripture.  I’d encourage you to choose a passage from the book of James, because it is so practical.  You could also choose a passage from the first eight chapters of Romans, or a passage from Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, or even 1 John.  James is a very practical book and has great applications.  You could choose James 1:22-25; or James 2:1-5; or James 3:1-12; or James 4:6-10; or another passage.  Then follow the four steps with the four-column chart right above this paragraph.
First, what does the passage teach? There will often be a command or a principle that the passage is teaching.  You can record one or several principles.
Secondly, examine yourself and ask God to reveal how you may not be living according to the standard communicated in the passage.  This is called reproof from the Word.  It’s easy to examine yourself and by means of the Holy Spirit.  After recording the teaching from the passage, ask God to help you see how you may or may not be living according to the passage.  The Holy Spirit will reveal to you conviction about how you have failed to live according to the passage.  Fortunately, because God gives us the standard in His Word, He also gives hope that He will help us overcome the reproof.  The beginning of that process is in the third step.
Thirdly, in the third column, how am I corrected?  What should I be doing according to the Scripture? This step helps me get back on track to walk in a manner worthy of His calling.  I need a plan, however, because all step three is awareness.
So, finally in the fourth column, what does this passage communicate about how I should live.  This is the training in righteousness.  What is my plan to put the principles from the passage into action?  How do I implement the principles into life?  This is a good time to consider how I should engage my thoughts, my words and my actions that would help me live according to the passage.
Why is doing this exercise so important? Most people like to sit and listen to other people teach the Scriptures or to just read books.  Both of those options are great.  However, what is even better is doing the work yourself.  When we are beginning spiritually, we need to be spoon fed the truth or drinking on the milk of the Word.  However, we need to get to the point where we are  able to stick a fork into the Word and use a knife to cut off a portion to chew on it ourselves.  That’s when we are feeding ourselves.  The writer to the Hebrews explains,
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)
It may not seem like you get very much yourself, compared to what other teachers may be able to communicate.  But if you are patient with yourself, God will lead you to be able to dig out treasures and nuggets of truth just like other teachers.
For additional information, please see the “Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship” Supplement 3, pages 437-439.

 

Words: Overcomers use SPAM®

Words: Overcomers use SPAM® 

John declares that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ is an overcomer from the world.  He writes, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4) By making that simple decision of faith, a person overcomes the pull of the world and is an overcomer.  There is an additional aspect of overcoming, which is “overcoming in life.” 

John addresses “overcoming in life” in the next verse, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)  Literally, John writes, “Who is he who keeps overcoming the world, but he who keeps believing that Jesus is the Son of God.”  Both verbs, “overcoming” and “believing” are present participles, which emphasizes ongoing action.  It is not a one time decision, but a moment by moment trust in Jesus’ ability to work and rule through the believer.

 In fact, Paul addresses that in Romans 8:37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)  As we confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9) and walk in dependency on the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), we will overcome the distractions of the world, the pull of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16), which comes through the rulership of Jesus in our lives (Phil. 4:13).

In order to continue to overcome, you need an “Overcoming Plan.” Use this plan when you determine which life dominating sin you want to have victory over. Remember the acrostic: SPAM®.  Each of those letters stand for an important concept.

S=Specific
P=Personal
A=Applicable
M=Measurable
®=Repeatable 

SPECIFIC

Does it address specific sins not generalities?
Is your plan directed at a specific heart issue?
Are there “baby steps”?
 
PERSONAL

Is this plan for you, not for your neighbor?
Do you think it will work for you? 

APPLICABLE

Have you found Scripture related to your problem?
Does it address TWA (thoughts, words & actions)?
Are your put offs related to put ons? (see the article on put offs and put ons) 

MEASURABLE

How will you know you’ve done it?
What questions could a friend ask to know if you’re making progress? 

REPEATABLE

Can you repeat this plan as needed?

 

            Every one who fails to plan really plans to fail.  These steps will give you guidance for developing a plan to have victory and overcome sin in life.  Remember these steps must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to have Spirit-controlled fruit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22-23).

 

 

Counsel: Victory Over Failure Worksheet

 

Counsel: Victory Over Failure Worksheet

based on Eph 4 & Col 3

Many people struggle with the tentacles of sin. Sin is deceitful (Heb. 3:13); it puts people into slavery (John 8: 34); it has only passing pleasures (Heb. 11:25); and it entangles people hindering their walk with the Lord (Heb. 12:1). Humanly, the only solution to sin is confession of sin to God and the empowerment of God the Holy Spirit to overcome its power and presence in life (Eph. 5:15-18).  That will happen only under the ruling power of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:18-19).  Our part is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in total dependence on His Lordship for every situation of life. 

One of the most wonderful principles we teach in the “Discipling the Heart” course is the Victory Over Failure Worsheet (VOFW).  The purpose is to help you examine yourself biblically (Ps. 139:23-24; Matt. 7:1,5). This process helps you recognize specific biblical put offs and put ons for transformation of the heart to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:22-32; Col. 3:15-17).  It helps you develop and implement specific plans for biblical change (Jam. 1:22-25). As you make changes, you will see the victory over the great enemy of sin and life-dominating sins in your life.

There are several steps to this Worksheet.  First, commit yourself to God’s sovereign rule in your life (2 Cor. 5:9).  Determine specific ways you have sinned against God (Rev. 2:5) and confess them to Him (1 John 1:9).  Ask God for wisdom to know what changes need to be made (Jam. 1:5) and forgive anyone who has sinned against you (Mark 11:25-26).  Continue diligent study of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15) and pray in every circumstance with dependency upon Him (Luke 18:1; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Thes. 5:17).  Then do what God says to do (Jam. 1:22-25).

Here’s an example of the Worksheet and the four aspects in each of the four columns.
 

Victory Over Failures Worksheet
 
Specific unbiblical thought, word, or action  (Matt. 7:1-5)
“Put off” and biblical references (Eph. 4:22)
“Put on” and biblical references
(Eph. 4:23-24)
My plan not to repeat this sin and to respond biblically instead (Titus 2:11-14)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

This material is explained in more detail in the “Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship” Supplement 7-8, pages 448-459. It was developed by author John C. Broger.

            The more effort you put into a thorough Worksheet, the more that you’ll gain in spiritual growth.  Two suggestions: 1) when you determine the Put on, from the put off, focus on the put on and the plan to overcome; and 2) make sure your plan includes specific things you can do in the three areas of the thought, spoken word and overt actions.

 

 

Counsel: Check your heart (2)

Counsel: Check your heart (2)
On the last “Counsel” article, I addressed how it is easy to “assume” a person might wrongly assess a situation or person’s actions.  Hence, that person might fall into the trap of wrongly judging and wrongly correcting.  We looked at Jeremiah 17:9-10, which addressed the deceitfulness of our wicked hearts and Matthew 7:1-5, which warns us to deal with our own sin before we judge another and finally Galatians 6:1, which gives the spiritual, mechanical issues to be considered as you approach someone.  I concluded with the question, “Why is carefrontation (confronting in a godly way) a fearful step?”  Let me address that.

            First, we are in a spiritual battle.  Paul describes how we are really not fighting against the person we might be having trouble with, but we are fighting with spiritual forces,

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:10-13)

Why does Paul tell the saints in Ephesus to “be strong”?  Paul says, “be strong” because the spiritual battle is strong and raging.  The conflicts are going on.  It’s not a matter of if they will happen, but when they will happen.  Paul makes that clear in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood, but against principalities…”  That is, the real battles are not against human flesh and blood, even though there are conflicts with flesh and blood (people).  The real battles are in the spiritual realm.  Satan’s demonic forces are doing everything they can to divide Christians, harm relationships and distort the world’s perspective of God’s goodness and God’s word.  Because we are in a spiritual battle, it is a fearful thing to carefront others.  How do you know if you are a part of assisting the conflict or bringing godly resolve to the conflict?

            Secondly, we focus on our own hurts more than the other’s.  We know we may hurt someone else, but we cannot understand the heart of another or the damage we may cause, especially when we don’t even understand our own heart (Jer. 17:9-10).  We too easily become self-righteous in our thinking and assume too much.  Paul says it well in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. We think we have others figured out, as well as ourselves, but it’s often just pride.

            The other problem is if we have pain from a relationship, it distorts our view of others.  We have filters and we don’t know how those filters affect our perspective and judgment in thinking.  Paul makes it clear that we tend to think too highly of ourselves.

            Thirdly, we become bitter, because we’re trying to do the right thing.  Paul writes,

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do… 18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. (Col. 3:12-13,18-19)

Why does Paul exhort those attitudes and actions in Colossians 3:12-13?  He exhorts because they are often missing in relationships, even in the body of Christ.  He exhorts because those are the attitudes and actions needed to maintain unity and harmony in the body of Christ, so the world will see love for one another.  He exhorts because we who want to be tender, kind, humble and patient often aren’t, so we must forgive and depend on the power of the Holy Spirit rather than our own power.

            Then Paul gets down to the attitudes and actions of wives and husbands.  I find it very interesting that Paul summarizes into one verse what he says in three verses in Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as if fitting in the Lord.”  He doesn’t say what is “fitting,” but he does all through the epistle.  Every encouragement and exhortation directed toward relationships in the body are to be manifested in marriage.  Marriage is often the hardest place to see it fulfilled, so he assumes the wives will 1) be submissive and 2) do what is fitting in the Lord, that is, “just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5:24)  Fitting”means what is “set aside” or what is holy to the Lord.  In other words, everything, except what would be sin.  Wives, die to your own desires and be holy set aside in submission to your husband.  That is why wives need the Holy Spirit. That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another.

            Then Paul addresses the husbands and mentions “do not be bitter toward them.”Most people would say that men aren’t as bitter as women.  After all, women have to submit to the authority of or the final decisions of their husbands.  There are plenty of reasons for a wife to be bitter.  Yet Paul tells the husband not to be bitter.  Why?  Paul exhorts the husband to not be bitter, because when he is trying to love his wife, when he is dying to himself and trying to lead her spiritually, when he is working to provide, seeking to lead in devotions and on the look out to protect his wife and she doesn’t respond, then the husband is prone to become bitter.  Husbands, die to yourself and do not be bitter.  Instead, be patient.  Husbands put off your bitterness and consider how often you rejected the Lord’s provision, spiritual leading in your life and protection of your soul.  Confess your sins of bitterness and depend on the mercy and power of the Holy Spirit.  Put on kindness, tender mercies and forgiveness and you’ll not be bitter.  That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another.

            Fourthly, we don’t approach love God’s way.  Most people have heard the “love” chapter (1 Corinthians 13) so many times at weddings and other occasions that they become numb to what it’s really saying.  Paul writes,

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

What does it mean to you that “love suffers long”?  First ask yourself, what is the Great Commandment? “

37 Jesus said to him, “`You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment. 39 “And the second is like it:`You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37-39)

Who is your closest neighbor?  Your spouse!  So God commands us to love our spouse and if I don’t, what is that called?  If I know what I’m supposed to do and I don’t do it, what is that called?  James writes, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (Jam. 4:17)  So, if I don’t love my spouse (or my neighbor) it’s sin.  If I don’t do what love does, it is sin for me.  In other words, if as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, I am not patient, I have sinned.  If I am not kind in my actions, it is sin.  If I am envious of others, it is sin.  If I parade myself or act arrogant, it is sin.  If I am rude to my neighbor (or my spouse) it is sin. 

            Too often we think “everyone does those things” and we find them acceptable.  God does not! They reveal that we are not dependent on the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit does not do those things. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot do those things.  They are not the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  If we sin, then we must follow God’s guideline, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  When we confess our sins and humbly depend on the Holy Spirit, then God the Holy Spirit will bear his fruit through us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…  That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another; we might not do it from God’s love.

            Friends, check your heart.  Scripture says 1) our hearts are deceitful; 2) we are easily prone to judging others; and 3) we often correct in an ungodly way.  When we correct another, or point out their wrongs in an ungodly way, we often don’t realize how fearful a step we are taking. Consequently, we need 1) to recognize we are in a spiritual battle; 2) to focus on the hurt of others more than our own and 3) to not become bitter when we are doing the right thing and 4) to approach love God’s way.  If you do these things, you’ll be blessed. (John 13:17)  If you do these things, you’ll have good relationships.  Go in His peace.

Counsel: Check your heart (1)

Counsel: Check your heart (1)

            Scripture always has the answers.  However, we are quick to ignore what it says and assume we know best what we should think, say and do.  It’s easy to assume we have a clear picture on what we hear and see and can make the right analysis, assessment and judgment. It’s easy especially, when we think we know the other person well as in a family or friend. However, what does Scripture say?
            Our hearts are deceitful.  That may sound pretty harsh, but what does Scripture say?  Jeremiah 17:9-10 says,
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?  10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:9-10)

Scripture says “the heart,” which refers to each heart in mankind.  It is not referring only to the wicked people, the people on death row, or even the enemies of our country.  It refers to the heart of all people, even good people.  The heart is “deceitful above all things.”  That means it will deceive others, but more importantly, our own hearts will deceive us.  Paul alludes to that from Romans 7.  He says,

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (Rom 7:15-17)

Paul is telling us he doesn’t do what he wants to do and does what he doesn’t want to do.  Why?  There is a sin nature inside of every person and it is deceitful.   The writer to the Hebrews warns about the deceitfulness of sin, “…exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)  The deceitfulness comes from the inner being and Jeremiah refers to that inner being as the heart.  If my heart is deceitful, then I need to be aware of what comes out of my heart.  Scripture also says we often judge.

            We are easily prone to judging others.  If we think we are right in our analysis, assessment and judgment, but don’t realize we have a deceitful heart, then we are prone to judge others.  Jesus warned about this,

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  2 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  3“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  4“Or how can you say to your brother,`Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)

When we are not a part of the solution (not in a discipleship or counseling team or parent or person in authority) we are not to judge others.  However, there are times when God will direct that we help another person, but we must first deal with our own sin issue (plank from your own eye), and then be able to help another person.  If you do not deal with your own sin issues, you will only compound the problem trying to help another person.  You will likely be very self-righteous, judgmental, critical, impatient, unkind and hence ungodly.  No Christian ever intends to do that.  Fortunately there is hope.  God gives us hope and a solution of how to address the problem. 

            Scripture says we often correct in an ungodly way. When you are ready to carefront (confront in a godly caring way) follow Paul’s exhortation.  He writes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1)  Paul is talking to believers, because he calls them “brethren.”   The reality is, we will find ourselves in situations where people “cross the line of obvious sin (trespass).”  We are to judge ourselves to ensure there is no sin (Matt. 7:1,5) and then carefront them in a specific way.

            Paul exhorts that we carefront in a “spirit of gentleness.”  The word means “power under control.”  It is used of a war horse well-trained to understand the very light and sensitive movements of the rider with the bridle and pressures from his knees and heels to direct the horse on the battlefield.  For the Christian, it is the Holy Spirit who directs the Christian in His power, rather than the Christian’s power.  It is God’s power under the control of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, the carefrontation is for the purpose of godly restoration, not just pointing out sin.

            Then Paul exhorts to “consider yourself lest you also be tempted.”  It is so easy to carefront someone and do it in a prideful way.  Pointing out another’s sin is a fearful thing.  Only God knows all the details.  Only God knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Only God knows best how to convict of sin.  So for a person to put himself in that position is a fearful step, although it must be done.  Therefore, Paul says to carefront under the power of the Holy Spirit and keep examining self, lest you be tempted to act independently of the Lord and be in sin.

            Why is carefrontation a fearful step?  I’ll explain in tomorrow’s post.

PTSD: Tools to disciple another

I’m indebted to Chaplain Ramsey Coutta for serving his country as a Chaplain in the Army National Guard and for taking his experiences to write about them in his good book: “The Veteran’s Toolkit for PTSD.”  If you use a summary of the notes, please give him credit.

Tools for PTSD1

(Use this only with God’s Word)

1)      Learn about PTSD symptoms

a)       Re-experiencing symptoms: the situation seems very real.

i)         Frequently having upsetting thoughts, memories or dreams about a traumatic event.

ii)       Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a “flashback.”

iii)      Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event.

iv)     Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, to reminders of the traumatic event.

b)       Avoidance symptoms

i)         Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event

ii)       Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event

iii)      Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event.

iv)     A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities.

v)       Feeling distant from others or feeling as though your life may be cut short.

vi)     Experiencing difficulties of having positive feelings, such as happiness or love.

c)       Hyperarousal symptoms

i)         Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.

ii)       Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger.

iii)      Having difficulty concentrating or being jumpy or easily startled.

iv)     Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner.

 

2)      Manage flashbacks to control your thoughts and emotions

a)      Know what causes you to “remember” or become aware of them.  Accept how the body reacts.

b)      Identify early warning signs for flashbacks.

c)      Journal your emotions when you remember situations to understand trends, events, so you can reread what you have gone through, are going through and can be prepared for what could happen in the future. Just start writing and don’t be concerned about where you start, but write down anything that comes to mind. Once finished, reread and reflect on it for personal understanding.

d)      Consider the five senses to regain focus on reality; the event is in the past.

e)      Enlist the support of others to help through challenging moments Pro 24:6

f)       Identify the thoughts that bring things back to the control of Jesus  2 Cor. 10:4-5 Accept the thoughts are part of the past and press to the future.

g)      Help your mind by proactively accepting the reality of the past Phil. 3:1-13

 

3)      Address guilt that you survived and your friend did not

a)      You did survive.  Everything comes under the sovereignty of God.

b)      Meditate on truth and consider what the guilt is coming from and what the 2ndand 3rd order effects are. Allow yourself to mourn and accept what your feelings might be.  They may be different than anyone else Ecc. 3:4

c)      Accept what cannot be changed Matt 5:4

 

4)      Build resiliency

a)      Develop problem solving skills – do the previous so that you can calm approach future events.

b)      Trust that you can change and learn to control the emotions by 2 Cor. 10:4-5

c)      Seek help from the Lord in wise friends Matt. 6:33; Jer. 17:5;

d)      Be connected with friends and family Pro 18:24

e)      Disclose to friends and family what you can share.  Be a survivor rather than a victim.

 

5)      Stop avoiding  the problem – it leaves the problem hidden and prowling to engulf

a)      Face the reality of the past and share with trusted friends as necessary Pro. 18:24; cf. Jam 5:16

b)      Think on what is true and honorable Phil. 4:8


Practical Suggestions

 

1)      Renew Relationships

a)      Spend time with family and friends who are supportive

b)      Increase your contact with other veterans who can guide you to God’s Word.

c)      Join a home group from church

 

2)      Become more active

a)      Overcome the feeling of apathy and laziness

b)      Engage in a variety of activities – work, hobby, house, family outings.

c)      Set goals of what makes sense, but stretches you from where you are.

d)      Track your progress.  Keep your goals reasonable.

 

3)      Acceptance

a)      Account for past experiences

b)      Accept that they happened and the events that cannot change.

c)      End the war with the past events.

d)      Commit yourself to future progress.

 

4)      Develop a daily activity plan

a)      Build a calendar for good stewardship of time Eph. 5:15-17

b)      Develop goals for the calendar

 

5)      See things for how they really are

a)      Discuss with another your thoughts and let them give you feedback for objectivity

b)      Make a page for situation/thoughts/put off/ put on/ new plan

 

6)      Train yourself to relax

a)      Learn to relax from hyperactivity (workouts, movies, etc.)

b)      Get a comfortable chair and think through muscles relaxing

c)      Release the tension

 

7)      Prepare to sleep better

a)      Do workouts early in the day

b)      Eat big meals at least four hours before rest.

c)      Stick to a regular sleep schedule

d)      Avoid naps after 2pm

e)      Lower lighting and noise an hour before sleeping.

 

8)      Take a break from anger

a)      Read booklets on dealing with anger.

b)      Take a break to gain calm.

c)      Restore relationships that have been injured from personal actions.

d)      Find enjoyable activities like reading, movies, challenging games.

e)      Exercise

f)       Prayer

 

1Adapted fromThe Veteran’s Toolkit for PTSD by Chaplain (LTC) Ramsey Coutta