Newsletter: The Advocate July 2014

The following is the newsletter article from the July 2014 Grace and Truth.

Isn’t the summer warmth a huge contrast to the long winter this year? Personally, I enjoy each season, because there are blessings and disadvantages to enjoy and overcome in each. What do you enjoy the most about summer? Continue reading

Book Review: Counseling the Sexual Addict, A Biblical Guide Steve Gallagher

A Biblical Guide to Counseling the Sexual Addict is an excellent read for pastors, counselors and those who love God and love people. Pornography is destroying America because it treats women as objects, because it hinders intimacy in marriage, because it makes men passive cats and because it takes away God’s role of men in the world – to mirror who He is. Gallagher also authored the excellent book “At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry.” 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. 


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 ~

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.


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.