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: 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.



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

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


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) 


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


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.



Stop Complaining, Press Ahead

I love hearing stories of people who have risen out of the ash heaps of life.  They suffered terribly and through true grit, and/or miracles of God, they took on great opportunities to serve the Lord.  I often get weary of people complaining about how difficult life is.  Life is difficult!  Normally, it’s from those of us who live in America.  I get it.  I know even in America where air conditioning is not an option, cell phones are standard equipment that comes with newborns (it seems), and it’s not a question of whether there is a chicken in every pot, but how many televisions every household has.  We have stores that are loaded with food and merchandise.  We have a medical system that surpasses everywhere on earth.  Yet, we grow weary of life.  It reminds me of the great passage in Jeremiah.

If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5)

Jeremiah was facing tough times.  The nation of Judah was turning away from God and Jeremiah was weary preaching to a people who continued to reject God’s message and to disrespect him at every turn.  Yet God was not going to console Jeremiah to sit in tears and give up.  To the point where Jeremiah was, he was only battling the footmen.  Jeremiah prophesied from 626 – 586 B.C.  This was likely early in his career. 

God’s point was this: if the footmen – the small problems you face now – weary you, what are you going to do when the horses – the big problems of his later ministry – contend with you?  If you grow weary in a time of relative peace, what will you do when you are running from trouble – the floodplain of the Jordan?  Jeremiah, will you keep your eyes on me and not lose heart?

It’s possible to lose heart.  It’s always when we take our eyes off the Lord.  When our eyes are on the Lord, we may suffer, lose everything, or even be shut down, but the Lord is always sufficient.  Paul said it best.

  7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor. 12:7-10)