Biblical Studies Carnival 177

The month of November, though filled with celebrations of Thanksgiving and combatting the COVID-19 virus, witnessed an incredible amount of production for biblical studies. Jim West of Zwinglius Redivivus, hosted Biblical Studies Carnival 176 last month. If you missed it, you need to go back and learn about the Puppies! Next month’s host will be Phil.

I am sure I missed quite a bit. If you know of someone who contributes to the various fields involved with biblical studies, please contact me through my contact page.

If you are interested in hosting a biblical studies carnival, or if you know of someone who might be interested, please reach out to Phil! Now, to the Carnival!

New Testament studies

Phil Long has been working his way through the Gospel according to Matthew. These studies cover a variety of topics that develop in the ninth chapter of the Gospel.

The Amateur Exegete posted “Israel’s Davidic gospel–Scribes of the Kingdom.”

Hebrew studies

Bob MacDonald of Dust has been working on an enormous project that provides greater ease with his published concordance. He explains the project in greater detail here. A few examples of his work are the studies of the Hebrew roots גם-גת with accompanying biblical references. Another post covers the Hebrew roots שם. Be sure to keep up with his work as he progresses. Another post that you need to check out is “The revelations of a musical concordance.” This is a fascinating post in which Bob provides an example of words/prepositions and helps in interpreting. In that post he writes, “Here is a method of finding inconsistencies in my division in the semantic domains.” I believe his work will yield profitable results for Hebrew studies.

Kim Phillips posts many discussions of Hebraic issues and important dialogues covering biblical and Talmudic Hebrew.

Michell Knight, cohost of the Foreword podcast, discusses a variety of issues involved with the Hebrew Scriptures. These discussions focus on reading books like Judges and Joshua, as well as issues of judgment.

Textual criticism

The blog Exegetical Textual Criticism has many helpful articles ranging from the “infinitesimal points” to interviews. There are numerous posts this month that, if you are involved/interested in textual criticism, you will want to examine.

REformational studies

Jim West has produced an enormous amount of materials for Reformational Studies. These range from quotes, to excerpts of a variety of leaders, to images.

Book reviews

As usual, Phil Long of Reading Acts, produced several helpful book reviews. Personally, his review of Dual Citizens: Politics and American Evangelicalism piqued my interest. His review has landed this title on my “to get” list. Phil also reviewed Navigating Tough Texts by Murray Harris. The title reveals the nature of the work, and for those involved with regular preaching/teaching, it should be on your list to get. Another review is offered for Rebels and Exiles: A Biblical Theology of Sin and Restoration. In addition to these three reviews, Phil also reviewed the following:

Though not always a review, Ayuda Ministeral/Resources for Ministry provides a wide range of books for biblical studies. Check it out here.

Brent Niedergall reviewed The Curse in the Colophon. After providing some biographical information on the author, Edgar Godspeed, Brent briefly reviews the book. Brent also reviews Linguistics and New Testament Greek by David Alan Black and Benjamin L. Merkle. His final review covers J. V. Fesko’s The Need for Creeds Today.

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.

Book Review: NIV Beautiful Word Bible (Updated Edition)

The NIV Beautiful Word Bible, Updated Edition is a leathersoft over board, red letter, comfort print edition. It is a work of art, designed for note-taking and Bible journaling. Here are some pictures of the Bible. Here is another shot of the Bible. Several items deserve attention. First, the Bible utilizes “comfort print” which is…

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!

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