Training for Godliness: Stewardship

Whitney begins chapter eight with these paragraphs,

“Think for a moment. What events have produced the greatest stress in your life today? This past week? Haven’t they involved some feeling of being overloaded with responsibilities at home, work, school, church, or all of the above? Paying bills? Running late for an appointment? Balancing your checkbook? Waiting in a traffic jam on the highway or runway? Facing unexpected car repair or medical expenses? Going with too little rest? Running short of cash before payday?

Each of these anxiety-producers has to do with either time or money. Think of how many day-to-day issues involve the use of one of these two. The clock and the dollar are such substantial factors in so many parts of life that their role must be considered in any serious discussion of Godly living.”[1]

As we consider Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7, NET). There are many expressions of godliness, many of which we have examined thus far. Now we come to an important aspect of godliness that requires discipline (i.e., training), that is stewardship.

Stewardship as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is “The responsible use of resources, esp. money, time, and talents, in the service of God; spec. the organized pledging of specific amounts of money etc. to be given regularly to the Church.”[2]

In Whitney’s work, which has provided our outline and substantial amount of help, discusses two primary areas in which we should demonstrate stewardship: time and money.

Stewardship with Time

I want you to imagine life about one hundred years ago. There were no appliances to help with chores around the house. Dishes and clothes would require handwashing. All meals had to be prepared by hand, including their production (unless money/goods were bartered). With no electricity, capitalizing on the light was vital. There was little time for leisure. The people that lived during this period (and before) had to be master stewards of their time just to live.

Today, we enjoy many privileges and helps with these tasks. Just this morning I placed a load of laundry (a daily chore with a family of six) into a washer shortly after awakening. Then, after breakfast, I transferred that load into the dryer. Within two hours, that one load of laundry was washed and dried. Imagine the difference in time as compared to those who lived one hundred years ago! The question is, What I am doing with that time? Am I investing in in growing in my Christlikeness? Or, am I squandering it by glancing through various social media websites, watching TV, or keeping up with the latest election update (it is Friday 13 November as I type this).

Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Therefore consider carefully how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16, NET). Are we taking advantage of every opportunity to discipline ourselves to godliness? We marvel as saints of yesteryear, at their depth of the knowledge of God’s Word, and at their intimacy with our God. Yet, we fail to consider how different we live than they once did. We have access to many advantages of our society. We do not spend hours preparing our meals. We do not have to grow food in our backyards in order to survive. Yet, they in the midst of those things (and many others), advanced in their godliness. Why? I am convinced it is because they took advantage of every opportunity they had. Jonathan Edwards, a man who I consider to be a spiritual hero, constantly read while riding to various places.[3] He was taking advantage of those opportunities!

How can we take advantage of our time? There are so many way! While waiting in an office, we can read or memorize Scripture. While checking out at the grocery store, we can share the gospel. While taking a break from the busyness of the day, we can spend a few moments in prayer. These and an abundance of examples are all worthy of our consideration.

Stewardship with Money

Whitney writes, “The disciplined use of money requires that we manage it in such a way that our needs and those of our family are met.”[4] It requires discipline to manage our money.

We must handle our financial resources in a way that honors God and reflects a generous spirit.[5] Considering the amount of debt that the majority of US citizens have, it is important that believers reflect a different value system. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s helpful work, Financial Peace Revisited.[6] Though I do not agree with everything he writes, he provides a helpful framework for the disciplined to be godly in our financial responsibilities.

Are you disciplining yourself for godliness with your stewardship? One thing that is implied, but we have not discussed, is that idea behind stewardship. It implies that someone else owns the material (or, time, as the case may be), and we simply oversee it. This is biblical truth. God holds our breath in His hand (see Daniel 5:23). He is the Creator and owner of all (Rom. 1:19-20, 28-32). As such, everything we have been given, including time and money, are to be used wisely for His glory and our good.

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 131.

[2] “stewardship, n.”. OED Online. September 2020. Oxford University Press. (accessed November 13, 2020).

[3] Incidentally, Edwards preached a helpful sermon on time. See: Jonathan Edwards, rev. and ed. by Edward Hickman, The Works of Jonathan Edwards Volume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 233-236.

[4] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 139.

[5] Ibid., 144-145.

[6] Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace Revisited (New York, NY: Viking, 2003).

Depression: What is It?

“I am depressed.”

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Maybe you have heard someone make this claim. Perhaps you have made it yourself. Or, you may be wondering if you have depression.

What is depression? Some have described it as a deep hole in which no light shines. Others style it as a heavy blanket draped over them. Whatever it is, it is certainly not simple. As Brian Borgman writes, “Depression is complex. The medical and physiological issues are complex. The emotional and spiritual issues are complex.”[1]

Considering the complexities of depression, there is no way to cover what it entails in a single blog post. With that in mind, we can, at the very least, begin a discussion of depression as we seek to bring all our thoughts (including depression) into the captivity and rule of Christ.[2]

Depression, as complex as it is, can be brought about by almost anything. As Jay Adams writes, “Almost anything can be at the root of the counselee’s depression: a recent illness in which he gets behind in his work, hormonal changes, a reversal of his fortunes, the consequences of simple negligence, guilt over a particular sin, self-pity arising from jealousy or a disadvantageous turn of events, bad feeling resulting from resentment, worry, etc.”[3] Additionally, a lack of sleep, poor diet, and other physical causes can contribute to depression.[4]

Thus, the causes for depression are many, and often are not tied to one single issue. The question that comes to the biblical counselor is, “Does the Bible speak about depression? Do the Scriptures offer hope for a depressed individual?” To which the biblical counselor would offer this confident answer, “Yes, the Scriptures contain all that is necessary for life and godliness, including how to address depression.”[5]

In future posts, we will examine the contributing factors toward depression. We will also see how our responses to the various challenges of life in a fallen world also contribute to and intensify our depression. Then, we will examine how the Scriptures equip us to take those depressive thoughts captive to experience hope and the God of hope (see Rom. 15:4, 13).

*If you are experiencing depression, I would encourage you to reach out to a biblical counselor in your area. Here are a few options for you:

[1] Brian S. Borgman, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 133.

[2] Paul writes about this in 2 Corinthians 10:1-6, specifically verse 5.

[3] Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 375. While I appreciate Adams’ work, I think he makes a mistake in always tying depression with sin. We, as complex beings of both spiritual and physical compositions, living in a fallen world, are subject to the unfortunate results of sin in our physical and mental capacities. While he does not deny this, ultimately, he points back to the counselee’s sin (see page 378).

[4] Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Sleep and Mental Health: Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Mental Health,” Harvard Health Publishing, July 2009,, accessed 11 November 2020; Monique Tello, “Diet and Depression,” Harvard Health Publishing, 22 February 2018,, accessed 11 November 2020.

[5] See 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (ESV)

Training for Godliness: Serving

Training for Godliness: Serving

Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7, NIV). We have discussed several examples of this training in previous posts. Today, we are picking our gloves and dusting the equipment off in order to resume our training.

Like an athlete, we work hard to grow in our likeness to Christ. One of the ways in which we can train ourselves for godliness is to serve. Donald Whitney writes this about serving,

“The ministry of serving may be as public as preaching or teaching, but more often it will be as sequestered as nursery duty. It may be as visible as singing a solo, but usually it will be as unnoticed as operating the sound equipment to amplify the solo. Serving may be as appreciated as a good testimony in a worship service, but typically it’s as thankless as washing dishes after a church social. Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it.”[1]

I do not know about you, but when I read that paragraph, I could immediately recognize the deep truth of what Whitney is saying. In fact, I would argue that most service in the church is the kind that most do not observe and for which most will receive little earthly recognition. But this is precisely why it requires discipline.

We enjoy being in the spotlight. We love being recognized for our hard work, our contribution, our giving, or our talents. Too often we mimic the Pharisees more than we do our Savior. It is of these types of people that Jesus speaks, “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven….When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward!” (Matthew 6:1, 5, NET) Jesus warned us against such showy service. Instead, we should follow His example. Consider the Son of God, the Creator of everything, Who donned a towel and washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Jesus tells His disciples, “For I have given you an example—you should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:15, NET). This is the example, or the pattern, that we should serve in humility as He has done.

“Train yourself to be godly,” wrote Paul to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:7, NIV). The question is, How do we train through service? Whitney provides two points worthy of our consideration. First, he writes “EVERY CHRISTIAN IS EXPECTED TO SERVE.”[2] Whitney then offers several “motivations” for which the Christian should be encouraged to serve.[3] The truth is, Scripture commands believers to serve. It is not always glamorous, and in many cases is less. However, this does not excuse the Christian from giving his or her time in service to God. This discipline mimics our Lord and Savior.

The second aspect of service involves spiritual gifts. In passages such as Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 and chapter 14, as well as 1 Peter 4:11, we read about the various equipping of Christians by the Holy Spirit for His service. Our gifts are to be used in the life and health of the Church. Paul writes to the church of Ephesus, “As each one does its part, the body builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16, NET). Did you catch that? Builds itself up in love, but that only occurs when “each one does its part.” The question is, Are you training yourself for godliness through service?

Far too often Christians attend church for what they can get out of it. This ought not to be so, my brothers and sisters! We should attend church to be feed by the nourishment of the Word, no doubt. But we should attend church equally to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I end this post with the challenging words of Whitney, “The Lord Jesus was always the servant, the servant of all, the servant of servants, the Servant…If we are to be like Christ, we must discipline ourselves to serve as Jesus served.”[4]

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 116.

[2] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 117, emphasis original.

[3] Ibid., 118-123.

[4] Ibid., 129.

Biblical Counseling and Political Disagreements

“In your anger do not sin,” the apostle Paul commanded the Ephesian believers, and by extension all Christians. (Eph. 4:26, NIV) The events that have transpired in the United States over the past few weeks have offered many opportunities for anger. There are some who are angry that the current President of the United States is calling this election fraud. There are others who are angry that apparently fraud has occurred and has affected the presidential election. In between these polar extremes lie many others. What binds these polls and all in between could be represented in anger.

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I have posted some helpful resources for counseling individuals from the Scriptures who are experiencing anger. This post is aimed at helping individuals overcome anger as a result of political disagreements. I will be the first to admit that this has been a trying season. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have taken a completely different approach and view of the political landscape. That is not as challenging as some people’s responses. Here are a few representatives from Twitter.

“I love seeing Trump supporters CRY, it’s my daily medicine, my weekly energy, my monthly inspiration and my yearly motivation. Their loss is the only reason i’m still alive, i was born to love and enjoy the failure that they have achieved.”

“That’s it! An absolutely disgraceful performance! In all my years as a citizen of this country I’ve never seen a country so lazy and pathetic! I’m becoming a Canadian citizen where they have a real government! Goodbye!”

One need only peruse social media to see much, much worse. I am sure that you, like me, have family members posting similar or worse things. But what about our brothers and sisters in Christ? How do we respond and work through these trying times?

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One thing we must understand at the beginning is anger itself. Anger is “at its core…very simple. It expresses ‘I’m against that.’ It is an active stance you take to oppose something that you assess as both important and wrong.”[1] One can easily see how the present political disagreements can create such hostile feelings. Abortion, equal rights, various views on taxes, and government mandates are just a few examples of those issues that we can oppose. So, how do we maintain anger without sin, while also not compromising our love for one another in Christ?[2]

Attack the Problem, Not the Person

One way that we can avoid sinning in anger is to follow Jay Adams words. He writes, “Here the tensions of anger are released primarily toward the problem rather than toward others or towards oneself. That is to say that the energies of the emotion of anger are used constructively in solving the problem—attacking it rather than people.”[3] The problem may be in election fraud, a failure to conceit, or a policy issue (such as marriage rights or abortion). People disagree on these, strongly, and rightly so. They are important issues. But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must never sin in our stances of opposition. The first way we can avoid sinning is to attack the problem, not the person. Adams goes on to write, “Turning anger toward the problem, however, almost always involves confronting another in anger. Yet, the way in which they are confronted makes the difference. They must be confronted to the extent that they are involved responsibly in the solution to the problem. They are confronted not in order to embarrass or hurt them, but to help them to move in the proper directions.”[4] We must identify the problem and attack it, not our fellow believer. When it is needful to confront, we must also remember to that “They are confronted not in order to embarrass or hurt them…”[5] This is pure sin. It demeans the name of our God and destroys our witness to the lost and dying world around us.[6]

Always Practice Biblical Love

A second way that we can avoid sinning while angry, even in the midst of political disagreements, is to practice biblical love. While discussing spiritual gifts and their abuses (1 Corinthians 12 and 14), Paul encourages believers to engage in biblical (i.e., Christlike) love. He writes,

Love is patient, love is kind. 
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There are several practical points that can help us navigate political disagreement. I will only provide a bullet-point listing:

  • Be patient in your discussions. Seek to understand what they mean, not what you infer.
  • Be kind in your speech, postings, and interactions.
  • Do not be envious of their victories, their abilities to articulate their positions, nor of their support.
  • Do not boast about your candidate’s victory, the acceptance of your political views, or of the inherent worthiness of your view.
  • Do not be prideful in your political views but walk humbly before your God.[7]
  • Never dishonor an individual over a political view.
  • Search your heart for the motivation for your political view.
  • Do not allow yourself to be “easily angered.”
  • Work to forgive and forget any offences against you.
  • While not compromising your own political views, seek to celebrate the virtue in those opposing views.[8]
  • Never, ever rejoice over evil, regardless of your political views.
  • Always rejoice in truth, regardless of your political views.
  • In every interaction and exchange, seek to protect, trust, hope, and endure all for your brother or sister in Christ.

Remember that God reigns

This seems odd in a post about anger, particularly in relation to the political situation in the United States. But the truth of Scripture is that God reigns. Though there are presidents, dictators, queens, governors, etc., they are all God’s pawns. He sits, as it were, above the chess board, moving the pieces as He sits fit to accomplish His plan. This is why Paul, under Roman oppression, could write, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves.” (Rom. 13:1-2, NIV)

Did your candidate win? God still reigns. Did your candidate lose? God still reigns. He sits, as the psalmist reminds us, “in heaven, he does whatever pleases him.” (Psa. 115:3, NIV) How does this help us deal with sinful anger? Because God reigns, we do not have to become sinfully angry that an individual is not in the office. Because God reigns, we do not have to become sinfully angry that a brother or sister in Christ is joyous over their candidate’s victory. Surely, we can maintain biblical anger in the face of clear violations of Scripture.[9]

“In your anger do not sin,” is not addressed to the present political discussion per se. It is, however, pertinent. Brothers and sisters, in our anger, let us not sin. Let us love one another, even in our political disagreements. May these disagreements serve to spread the name of Jesus Christ to all who observe our loving disagreements.

[1] David Powlison, Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2016), 39.

[2] This post focuses exclusively on Christian relationships. By that I mean men and women who have confessed their sins, repented from them, and turned to Christ as their only hope for redemption. For more about the Gospel, please visit

[3] Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), 353.

[4] Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 354.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV)

[7] “Your” is meant to be plural, as in yours and their God.

[8] I understand that this discussion is highly complex. One example of a view that a Christian cannot accept is abortion. However, different policies outside of abortion can be celebrated (i.e., care for young mothers in need of assistance).

[9] Again, abortion provides a clear example of something every believer should be angry about. Every human being that values life should actively oppose abortion. However, though a candidate is elected who supports abortion is something to be angry about, we must, as believers, remember that God still reigns.

Here are some additional resources that will prove helpful, not only during this time of political upheaval, but also for the remainder of our time on earth.

Training for Godliness: Evangelism

“How can evangelism help me grow in godliness?” may be the first question you ask upon reading the title of this post. It is an understandable question, too, in light of the present health (or, lack thereof) of the Church.

First, we need to have a basic idea of what evangelism is. Some view it as the ability to argue for God and His truth. Others view evangelism as street preaching. Still others may view evangelism as a worship service that is more like a rock concert than a church service. Mack Stiles provides an excellent definition of evangelism, writing “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.”[1]

Stiles’ definition is helpful because it focuses on the key aspects of evangelism. Our question remains, though, “How can evangelism help me grow in godliness?” Evangelism is one aspect of the Christian life. Don Whitney writes, “The main idea I want to communicate about it here is that Godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the practice of evangelism.”[2] It is commanded of every believer in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15.

Following Whitney’s outline, we notice first that “Evangelism is expected.”[3] He goes on the say, “All Christians are not expected to use the same methods of evangelism, but all Christians are expected to evangelize.”[4] This presents evangelism as a matter of obedience, and obedience is a key part of following Jesus Christ. For one instance, Saul was told that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”[5] While God desired and commanded Israelites to sacrifice animals, obedience to His revealed Word was the important point. God has commanded His children to spread the Gospel, it is not option. Therefore, obedience in evangelism is a mark of spiritual growth.

Whitney also reminds us, and in an encouraging way, that “Evangelism is empowered.”[6] That is, we are not alone in communicating the gospel to other people. Whitney comments, “We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism.”[7] Successful evangelism is empowered, but by what? Or, more properly, by whom? Whitney answers, “The power of evangelism is the Holy Spirit.”[8] This is a comforting truth! Jesus promised to be with the disciples, and us by extension, in the communication of the gospel.[9] We do not need to be the most articulate speaker, the most renowned scholar, or the bottomless pit of biblical information in order to evangelize other people. We have the Spirit of God and the Word of God and the promise that it will accomplish what God intends.[10]

Whitney’s final encouragement is that “Evangelism is a discipline.”[11] It takes work. Perhaps this is why so many Christians fail to engage in evangelism. We need to discipline ourselves to study the gospel in a variety of ways in order to communicate it with the broadest means possible. We need to discipline ourselves to communicate to people. We need to discipline ourselves to know about different methods of evangelism. It takes discipline.

In his small book (only 114 pages), Mack Stiles walks through each part of his definition of evangelism. He discusses those parts in more detail, providing anecdotes as well as encouragements for engaging in evangelism. I would encourage you to discipline yourself, purchase the book, study the book, and then implement the book.[12]

Evangelism for godliness!

[1] J. Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 27. He offers a broader definition, “Evangelism is teaching (heralding, proclaiming, preaching) the gospel (the message from God that leads us to salvation) with the aim (hope, desire, goal) to persuade (convince, convert).”

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 99.

[3] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 100.

[4] Ibid., emphasis original.

[5] 1 Samuel 15:22, NASB.

[6] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 101.

[7] Ibid., emphasis original.

[8] Ibid., 103.

[9] See also Acts 1:8.

[10] See Isaiah 55:10-11.

[11] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 106.

[12] This is covered in chapter 1, “Of Altar Calls and Laser Lights,” chapter 3, “Connecting Church and a Culture of Evangelism,” and chapter 5, “Actually Sharing Our Faith.” Stiles, Evangelism, 21-40, 63-78, and 99-114.

Biblical Counseling Helps: Anger

Be angry and do not sin.”

The Apostle Paul, citing Psalm 4:4 in Ephesians 4:26

We all struggle with anger at one point in our lives. David Powlison, in his book Good & Angry, discusses the various expressions of anger. While we all express sinful anger, we do not always express it in the same ways.

The biblical counselor’s goal is to use the Scriptures to help the believer overcome sin and change more into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29; Eph. 4:11-16; 4:22-24). One of the many sins which believers must overcome is sinful anger. I add that adjective sinful because some anger, as Powlison points out, is completely justified (you will have to get his book if you want to know how).

Here are some helpful resources for you, biblical counselor, as you help the believer kill sin and grow in holiness. They are also helpful to you, believer, as you mortify the deeds of your flesh during your journey to Christlikeness.

The Association of Biblical Counselors, of which I am a member, by the way, offers several excellent resources.

First is this article from February 2, 2014 titled, “Understanding and Redeeming Anger.” In the article, the safe at ABC offer summarizing thoughts of a series written by Powlison for the Journal of Biblical Counseling. “Understanding and Redeeming Anger” presents the key concepts of sinful anger as well as the godly aspects of righteous anger. This would be an excellent resource prior to counseling an angry individual.

A second article published on May 20, 2013 offers a paradoxical look at anger. The article begins, “It doesn’t take long to figure out that we live in an angry world. Read the headlines on any given day and you see anger on display in politics, movies, TV shows, and sports. Spend any amount of time in any family and you’ll see anger expressed almost daily.” “The Anger Paradox: Overcoming Sinful Anger Through Surrender” discusses the various expressions of anger and the biblical response: surrendering to God. One of the most helpful contributions of this article to the arsenal against anger is the list of what anger is. It is “a life-dominating sin,” “an expression of false worship,” and “often just a fruit,” to present a few examples. As biblical counselors, we want to get to the root of the issue, and these expressions of what anger is helps to discern the root of the matter.

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors offers a wider array of materials concerning anger.

Tim Keeter, leader of the Music and Counseling ministries at Grace Community Church in Huntsville, AL, presents a lecture on “Addressing Sinful Anger,” on May 6, 2020. He provides a PDF with his lecture notes. In this lecture, Keeter spends considerable time developing the concept that the way to identify sinful anger is to understand righteous anger. He discusses various individuals in Scripture, including Jesus and Paul, who displayed righteous anger. This, in turn, is contrasted with the sinful anger often expressed by fallen human beings. In addition to the wealth of information, Keeter provides several graphics (though not original to him) that give a physical representation of the operations of anger.

The ACBC podcast, Truth in Love, presents a discussion on “Is Anger Always Sinful?” by Heath Lambert. As we counsel individuals with sinful anger, one of the goals is to increase their understanding and application of righteous anger. Lambert discusses this in wonderful detail.

ACBC also offers several lectures (for a price) that would be well-worth your investment. I will simply link them below:

The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation offers numerous resources for addressing anger as well. First, CCEF’s Podcast gives listeners discussions on anger. Each one can be found in the links below.

There are also a few posts that present some helpful insight. In “Anger Met With Tears” by Ed Welch, he presents an episode of dealing with his grandson and the message correction can communicate.

In another post by Ed Welch, he discusses “Six Things to Know About Anger.” It is a shorter post, but in it Welch provides a few helpful (and convicting) insights to anger.

A final post that I would like to recommend does not directly address anger. In fact, it is on patience. In “Is Patience Dangerous?” Ed Welch presents several ways that patience (typically understood as the opposite of anger) can be dangerous.

I realize this is just a few recommendations, but perhaps they will be just the tools you need to fine-tune your counseling of sinful anger. As we counsel people from the Scriptures to overcome their sinful anger, let these words from Powlison encourage you:

“When God’s larger purposes are in control, the poisonous evil of anger is neutralized. Anger becomes a servant of goodness. The anger becomes just, and the purposes become merciful to all who will turn and trust and become conformed to his image. He changes our motives.

David Powlison, ‘Good & Angry,’ 59

Training for Godliness: Worship

Training for Godliness: Worship

Worship is a common word in churches, but it is one of those words that every seems to know but cannot define. When we consider the importance of worship, it is vital that we understand and practice it. Unfortunately, we often confuse worship with an experience. We attend a great service of music and we think that was worship. Or, we think lights and smoke and flashy shows provides a worship experience. But is this worship?

As Ken Boa defines it, “To worship is to be fully occupied with the attributes of God—the majesty, beauty, and goodness of his person, powers, and perfections.”[1]

To worship, then, is to focus on God in all His glory. Worship is not defined by a particular style of music or a place. Worship is a response of the heart to the wonders of the Triune God.

As we consider Training for Godliness, we cannot leave our worship. We were made to worship. However, due to the Fall, our focus of worship has shifted from God to many other things, including ourselves. We need to train ourselves to worship rightly. We must be aware of the dangers of worshipping God in vain.[2]

In his book, Whitney provides several helpful ways that we can train ourselves for godliness in worship. First, Whitney writes, “Worship is…focusing on and responding to God.”[3] Our focus must never be on ourselves, our comforts, our thoughts, or fame. When we worship God, individually or corporately, He must be our focus. When we sing in church, we sing for His glory. When we give, we give to His glory. When we listen to His Word preached, we receive it gladly. Our focus must always be on Him. Whitney discusses the glory of God by stating, “If you could see God at this moment, you would so utterly understand how worthy He is of worship that you would instinctively fall on your face and worship Him.”[4]

Another way that we train ourselves for godliness through worship is, as Whitney remarks, to “Worship…in spirit and truth.”[5] That is how Jesus instructs the Samaritan woman to worship God in John 4:24. This is missing in our churches today. “To worship God in spirit is to worship from the inside out. It means to be sincere in our acts of worship. No matter how spiritual the song you are singing, no matter how poetic the prayer you are praying, if it isn’t sincere then it isn’t worship, it’s hypocrisy,” Don Whitney bitingly quips.[6] When we engage in worship, do we do so sincerely? Or, are our thoughts on other things, such as lunch, the game, the grocery list, etc.? If we are to progress in Christlikeness, we must worship in spirit and truth. While we worship sincerely, we must also worship in truth. That means that our worship should find its place squarely in God’s written Word, the Bible. Therefore, while there is great freedom of expression, worship should reflect the same fundamental principles found in the Scriptures.

We also must worship because, as Whitney reminds us, “Worship is…expected both publicly and privately.”[7] In our highly individualized society, we often thing worship as personal. It is mine. While that is not untrue, it is only half true. God created humanity as a community, first through Adam and Eve and then the rest of humanity. In the context of worship, the author of Hebrews encourages us with these words,

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”[8]

We are to worship both individually and corporately. We gather together to worship Him. We see a glimpse into the future in Revelation 21-22, where all the chosen people of God will worship Him for eternity. We are to mirror that in the here and now. This, in turn, produces growth in godliness.

Whitney ends with these words, “Worship is…a discipline to be cultivated.”[9] As with the other spiritual disciplines, it takes time and practice (not that worship can be something we practice in the sense of practicing for football, but something in which we habitually engage). Whitney demonstrates this by writing, “Focusing on the world more than on the Lord makes us more worldly than Godly. But if we would be Godly, we must focus on God. Godliness requires disciplined worship.”[10]

Remember Paul’s words to the young Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness.”[11]

[1] Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 86.

[2] See Matthew 15:8-9.

[3] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 86.

[4] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 87.

[5] Ibid., 89.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 92.

[8] Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV.

[9] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 94.

[10] Ibid., 95.

[11] 1 Timothy 4:7, ESV.

Worship is essential in growing in godliness!

Check out these other posts

Biblical Counseling and Political Disagreements

“In your anger do not sin,” the apostle Paul commanded the Ephesian believers, and by extension all Christians. (Eph. 4:26, NIV) The events that have transpired in the United States over the past few weeks have offered many opportunities for anger. There are some who are angry that the current President of the United States…

Biblical Counseling Helps: Anger

“Be angry and do not sin.” The Apostle Paul, citing Psalm 4:4 in Ephesians 4:26 We all struggle with anger at one point in our lives. David Powlison, in his book Good & Angry, discusses the various expressions of anger. While we all express sinful anger, we do not always express it in the same…

The Sufficiency of Scripture in Biblical Counseling

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“I am having trouble lusting after other women.”

“I cannot seem to control my spending habits.”

“I hate her!”

“I have problems trusting him now.”

“How can I parent that child?”

These and other questions routinely enter the office of the biblical counselor. What does he or she say? How does he or she respond to these, and more frequently, tougher questions?

As we think about biblical counseling, we have already noted a rough outline. In that post, I presented the key concepts of biblical counseling. I also contrasted those concepts with modern (or, secular) psychology.

In this post my aim is to present the basic understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture for Biblical Counseling. What is sufficiency of Scripture? Heath Lambert offers this brief definition, “the sufficiency of Scripture, means that the Bible contains all that we need to know God’s will and live a life pleasing to him.”[1] Narrowing it down further, Joel James presents this definition, “…the Bible is completely sufficient to address people’s deepest spiritual and emotional problems.”[2]

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These two definitions give us two key insights into what biblical counselors mean when they utilize the phrase sufficiency of Scripture. First, its focus is on the Bible. Biblical counselors are biblical because they live and breathe and have their being in the Word of God. Secondly, its scope is everything that involves the spiritual and emotional makeup of man. As beings created in the image of God, human beings have physical and spiritual aspects. Within these are our emotions. This does not mean that it does not address the physical side of a human being. In fact, one of the most practical benefits involving the physical makeup of a human being is the weekly observance of Sabbath.[3] One need not look long before finding that research demonstrates the hazards to a human being’s physical wellbeing with the neglect of proper rest.[4]

Our first insight is that the Scriptures contain all that we need to thrive as image bearers of God, for His glory and for our good. A few passages of Scripture should help demonstrate this point.

Isaiah 29:13-14 provides a glimpse into the horrific results of neglecting God and His Word. Isaiah presents this prophecy, “Therefore, I will again confound these people with wonder after wonder. The wisdom of their wise will vanish, and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden.” (Isa. 29:14, CSB) Because they neglected God, God would turn them over to their inefficient counsel and understanding. It is not unlike, in my opinion, those who forsake the Word of God for the views of modern psychology.[5] Since God meets His people’s needs (primarily through the Scripture), biblical counselors utilize the Word for the counseling of His people.

Another important passage of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In this passage, Paul reveals how God gave humans His Word (via inspiration), its purpose, and its goal.[6] The goal is “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17, CSB) That is, whatever the child of God needs to be “complete” is found in “the Scripture” that “is inspired by God.”

A final passage that one must not miss when discussing the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Peter 1:3-4. Here is the CSB’s rendering of this,

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.

There are several important implications that demand our attention, particularly in light of biblical counseling and the role of the Scriptures in the process. First, we note that God has exclusively provided “everything required for life and godliness.” There is nothing the child of God will lack for life or godliness that God Himself has not provided. Secondly, note the source of this exclusive provision: “through the knowledge of Him.” That is an interesting phrase, and yet, if you were like me, you may wonder where the reference to God’s Word is. It is there, although it is not as direct. That phrase, “the knowledge of Him,” is fascinating. “What does that mean?” Or, to put the question in a format pertinent to this post, “Where do we receive this knowledge?” The answer, as Peter would reveal, is the Word of God. He refers to it in verse four as “very great and precious promises.” Through God’s glory and goodness, He has provided us with His Word. And, when the Word is utilized in a God-ordained and Spirit-empowered way (as Peter phrases it, “through them”), we will be like Christ and avoid sin (“you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire”).

These three references provide a brief depiction of the sufficiency of Scripture.[7] Beeke and Smalley, discussing that sufficiency, write,

“The fact that the Bible is the written Word of God, supremely authoritative and self-authenticating, clear in its doctrines, necessary for the church’s salvation and life, unified in is testimony to Christ, efficacious by the Spirit’s work, and unfailingly rue in all that it declares implies that the Bible is uniquely sufficient as God’s special revelation for us today.”[8] I would extend their thoughts to include the concept of biblical counseling. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is sufficient and alone capable of helping humanity in any true and full sense of the word.

While each question at the beginning of this post, and all unasked questions, need a more substantial and developed answer than “the Bible tells me so,” we need not look anywhere else for that answer than to the sufficient, life-giving Word of God.

[1] Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 37, emphasis original.

[2] Joel James, Counsel with Confidence: A Quick Reference Guide for Biblical Counselors and Disciplers (Wapwallopen, WA: Shepherd Press, 2018), 27.

[3] I highly recommend Richard C. Barcellos, Getting the Garden Right: Adam’s Work and God’s Rest In Light of Christ (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2017). In this book, Barcellos develops and articulates a biblical theological view of the Sabbath.

[4] For one example, see Kathleen Doheny, “Working Yourself to Death: Long Hours Bring Risk,” WebMD, 16 July 2018,, accessed 27 October 2020.

[5] For an excellent discussion of the different approaches, see: Eric L. Johnson, ed. Psychology and Christianity: Five Views 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).

[6] For inspiration, see Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology Volume I: Revelation and God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 325-332.

[7] For a fuller treatment, see Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling, 37-59; Beeke and Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, 395-406.

[8] Beeke and Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, 396.

Training for Godliness: Prayer

Training for Godliness: Prayer

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Believers are meant to grow. Like flowers in the field, believers require certain items to help them grow. Flowers need water, sunlight, and rich soil in order to develop and grow. We have already examined one of the means by which believers grow (or, train for godliness), and that is the Word of God. The Word provides the soil, if you will, for the believer’s nutrients.

God, in His goodness, provides an additional means for growth through the form of prayer. The London Baptist Confession of Faith states, “Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one part of natural worship, is by God required of all men.”[1] Prayer, while required, is also a wonderful tool in the box of our spiritual growth.

Don Whitney cites two verses of Scripture that demonstrate this: Colossians 4:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Pray without ceasing.

When we consider our purpose, to grow in godliness, we must remember how insufficient we are to the task. We are desperate for God’s help. As Whitney remarks, “When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer.”[2] Perhaps the reason we fail to engage in this wonderful privilege is because we are too self-sufficient.

Unfortunately, we are like a child who thinks they can do a certain task on their own, but our Heavenly Father knows how utterly incapable we truly are. He reminds us how necessary He is, through the various trials and difficulties we face, through our shortcomings, and through our defeats. Each circumstance will be a reminder, though painful at times, that we are children that need our Father’s help. Our purpose is not to berate one another. Our purpose, as Paul describes it, is to “train [our]selves for godliness.”[3] The question is, “How do we train ourselves in prayer?”

Thankfully, our gracious Father has provided many tools that help us grow. First, we learn to pray through the Scriptures. They are perhaps one of the most amazing tools offered to us by our Father. Continuing their statement on prayer, the writers of the London Confession state, “But that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, according to His will; with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and when with others, in a known tongue.”[4] As proof, the authors of the Confession provide several references to Scripture (John 14:13-14, Romans 8:26, 1 John 5:14, and 1 Corinthians 14:16 and 17. God’s Word informed their Confession on prayer, and it should ours as well. Jesus tells his disciples to pray like this, and then offers the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.[5]

This offers us a tremendous prayer. We could also add to the prayer more specific requests. For our daily bread, we could request energy to continue to work, a place at work, and even the blessings of using our earnings wisely. This prayer is tremendous, and we need to train ourselves for godliness through prayer.

Don Whiney offers several suggestions on how to learn to pray: “by praying,” “by meditating on Scripture,” “by praying with others,” and “by reading about prayer.”[6] This provides a good routine (see previous post) for us to engage in prayer for the purpose of godliness.

It would be wise of us to heed the words of John R. Rice,

“Prayerlessness is a horrible sin. For the lost sinner it is a part of his wicked rejection of Christ. For the child of God it is identical with backsliding. Prayerlessness is another name for unbelief.”[7]

[1] LBCF 21:3.

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 69.

[3] 1 Timothy 4:7, ESV.

[4] LBCF 21:3.

[5] Matthew 6:9-13, ESV.

[6] Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 70-77.

[7] John R. Rice, Prayer: Asking and Receiving (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970), 267.

Biblical Counseling Helps

In this post, I want to share some of the recent contributions to biblical counseling. I hope that you find these resources pertinent to your own life and ministry.

Julie Lowe from CCEF wrote two posts that I think are helpful for parents and counselors of parents. As ministers (whether a biblical counselor, pastor, or volunteer), we forget that young people are different than adults. Whereas we may set up a weekly meeting and work through a book with an adult, children and adolescents are different. Their growth and mental capacities change, almost daily, and their ability to think and interact are vastly different. In this post, Julie encourages us to look at things differently.

In another post, Julie discusses four principles to discuss sex with one’s children. As one nearing that time for “the talk,” I appreciated Julie’s approach. She writes, “Whatever the reason, avoiding the topic communicates that you are unable or unwilling (or both) to discuss it, and your children will look elsewhere with their questions.” This startled me, and rightly so. I hope it startles you too, parent, as we have been assigned by our sovereign God for this purpose. We need to discuss sex with our children appropriately, and Julie has provided several principles to guide us.

John Henderson of the Association of Biblical Counselors provided a healthy perspective for the biblical counselor’s worldview. This is an essential aspect of counseling from the Scriptures, and yet it is lacking in many our of textbooks. Henderson writes, There are particular truths and distinctions that make a biblical counseling worldview unique from all the other systems of counseling in the world.” These truths and distinctions are necessary for the work of biblical counseling. Check out his work below.

Gabe Powell of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors offers a wonderful discussion on death. We all, without the direct intervention of God, will die. Gabe reminds us, “In order to live like Christ, we must die like Christ.” As biblical counselors, we deal with death on a regular basis. This resource will help us develop a more biblical view of death, and will enable us to help people better.