Group Counseling

Having been exposed a great deal recently to psychiatric wards, waiting rooms and mental health counselors (Clarification: Not for myself), I have been amazed at the number of people seeking counseling. The wards and waiting rooms are full. Prescription drug sales for depression are at all-time highs. The patients speak of their psychiatrists and counselors with awe and reverence.

So you can understand why as a preacher I was both amused and encouraged by a recent quote by Jay Adams about preaching:

“Preaching is nothing but group counseling…(and there is) no difference between counseling and preaching except that the latter is louder.”

Few view preaching this way, as large group counseling. Few pastors would think this as they take their place behind the pulpit. Yet preachers are to proclaim the word of God to the congregation as counsel from the Lord. Every time the congregation comes and sits under the preached word they are to be, according to II Timothy 4:2, “reproved, rebuked, exhorted, with great patience and instruction.” Sounds like counseling to me! The preacher is to see himself as a pastor or shepherd (the Greek word translated pastor means “shepherd”) being used by the Lord to guide the entire flock to […]


Two Blogs for the Price of One

Perhaps you have noticed I have not blogged for over a month. Yet today I’m offering two blogs (see below). What’s the deal? Two brief explanations.

First has been that the trial with my mom has taken time away for extras. The past two months have been filled with multiple moves, hospital admittances and visitations, appointments for legal, financial and medical counsel, etc. Recently Mom has been showing some signs of stabilizing, though we continue to be greatly concerned for her spiritual state. Last night we moved her into a studio apartment at the assisted living place. Though she still has a long road to go for true recovery, we hope this place will be long-term for her and the dealing with emergency-like situations will cease. In the midst of the struggle and pain, it helps to keep a sense of humor. Celia asked last night, “Why did we put Nanny into a little compartment?” Unlike what this suggests, she has very comfortable surroundings, Christian care, and many people showing her God’s love. Please pray she could receive it.

Another reason I’m writing today is that I’m changing somewhat the nature of […]


Amongst the Lambs

My wife and I decided to teach the primary class in our Sabbath School program at the church this fall quarter. As the pastor, I must confess I have thought on more than one occasion that “I am too busy with more important things” at the church than to teach 3-7 year-olds. Yet in the few weeks we’ve been in there, I have been reminded how important time with the lambs can be.

For consider some of the lessons the Lord is teaching not them but me:

Explain the Scriptures simply – Our church is memorizing Psalm 40 this quarter, and I have been singing it (poor kids!) and then having the children fill in words when I pause. As the psalmist speaks of God bringing him out of the pit, one line says the Lord brought me “out of the dungeon mire.” When I asked what “mire” was, one girl said, “That’s the store where Mommy shops.” We laugh at these things, but I have had adults who have had no Scripture training make similar comments. Pastors and teachers need to work hard to explain the Scriptures simply. When I asked them if they would like to be down in a […]


The Thoughts of God

“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” -I Corinthians 2:11

Lately I have been going through a trial like I have never experienced with my mother. Having remarried following my father’s death, these last few years have seen the marriage turn bitter, Mom fall into deep depression to the point she no longer wants to live, and divorce papers served. I will avoid speaking of the myriad of details and struggles we have gone through this summer trying to minister to her, but to give you an idea of how deep the waters have become: Just this week I had to seek court-appointed guardianship over my mom as she has quit eating and drinking. The doctors are contemplating inserting a feeding tube so that she will not take her life through self-starvation. Since mom would resist this, I needed the authority to keep her from committing what I’m calling “passive suicide.”

My next blogs were going to be on doctrinal matters, but I felt the need to write about this real life issue this time. […]


Why I’m a Freewill Presbyterian

I know only Baptists and a cute boy in a politically correct movie are supposed to be the “free willy” types. Far be it from a Presbyterian to be labelled such. But I have become utterly convinced that the Will is free and not corrupted by sin, perfectly capable of making choices that will affect all eternity. The Will makes decisions, and because of the freedom of the Will some go to heaven and some go to hell.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the particular Will that I am speaking of is the Will of God? I’m a “God’s Will is Free” Presbyterian.

Please forgive me if I’m being too “in-your-face” with this pronouncement. But if churches can put their love for man’s freewill on their signs and in the names of their associations, then do I not have the same right to proclaim my love for the free will of God?

Freewill teaching, the belief that fallen man has the freedom of will to believe upon Christ or not, is historically known as Arminianism. This doctrine is named after the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius who died in the seventeenth century. Arminians believe that though man has been affected by […]


An Unapologetic Apologetic

Among all the threats and attacks on the gospel currently in the world, is there any more formidable than that posed by Islam? Whole nations lay under Islam’s sway. Christians in lands such as Indonesia and Sudan are regularly persecuted and driven from their homes, while Muslims freely migrate and populate Western nations. Given that the birthrate among Muslim women tends to be double and triple that of those in the Western nations where Christianity has historically been strong, one wonders how these nations will look in the next few decades? Since the London bombings, Muslim clerics have become further emboldened to declare that the fault for these crimes lies not at the feet of the ones setting off the bombs or those who inspired their hatred, but the British government for supporting the war in Iraq. They are predicting more acts of this nature. If you are in the U.S. or Britain, you should feel a sense of a looming crisis coming our way.

George Grant believes the conflict of Islam is the greatest of the church’s battles. The author of the book Blood of the Moon (Understanding The Historic Struggle Between Islam And Western Civilization), Grant posted this on […]


The Night Dad Died

Note: Recently I drove past the hospital where my father had died. I realized that the day was the seventeenth anniversary of his death. My mother, who has yet to recover from the loss of my father, was in the car with me. Thoughts such as these whirled through my mind.

The night Dad was to die,He was hundreds of miles from me away,And so did my childhood then seem.With memories already fading like a dream,We jumped in the car and drove all day,Reaching the night Dad was to die.

The night Dad was dying,I arrived as he was taking life’s last breaths,The one who had seen me take my first.Each of us seeing in the other the pain of the curse,That life is just a gasp, and then comes death,Grieving the night Dad was dying.

The night Dad lay dying,His earthen hand in mine began to yield,When, with sudden grasp, concern for my infant son arose.Later, with tiny hand ’round my finger wrapped, “How,” I pose,“Quickly death follows on birth’s heels,”Pondering the night Dad lay dying.

The night death came to Dad,He struggled to speak his love for me,A body broken the key to a long-closed heart.How his words tore me apart,Bringing forth […]


Children Worshiping God

A Position Paper of the Session of Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 19:14

An increasingly common practice found in the evangelical church is that either prior to the worship service or at some point during it, the children of those assembled are removed to another part of the building to participate in activities separate from the ones in which their parents are engaged. Often deemed “Children’s Church,” “Young People’s Worship,” or simply “Youth Activities,” the children of the congregation are offered fare that is supposed to be “more on their level.” Youth leaders use a wide array of activities, games, visual stimuli and dramatic portrayals to hold the young people’s attention and seek to instruct them in the faith. Often the explanation for this practice is that the children cannot comprehend what is taking place in the worship service, and that the adults need time to be undistracted by children’s needs so they can concentrate on the service. Yet in response to this movement we would raise the following questions: “What is the will of the Lord for the children of the […]


Pornolatry

Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?

Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography. With the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, the pornography industry, put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980’s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material, has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts:

Estimates are that as many as 200,000 Americans exhibit addictive behavior to pornography, much like a drug user.
The Justice Department estimates that nine of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have been exposed to pornography online.
Two-thirds of the divorce lawyers attending a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said excessive interest in online porn contributed to more than half of the divorces they handled that year.
The pornography industry in the United States alone is a $10-14 billion enterprise.
One of every seven calls received at Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Line regards internet pornography. One survey showed that forty percent of pastors had viewed internet obscenity in the last month.

That pornography is a major problem even in the church cannot be denied. What the church must […]


On Depression

On the Today show recently, actor Tom Cruise, speaking out of the convictions of his Scientology worldview, made headlines for attacking those who use medications such as antidepressants. One of the people he mentioned was actress Brooke Shields, who used the antidepressant Paxil following the birth of her child. Ms. Shields, who has written of her experience in a book I have not read called Down Came the Rain : My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, quickly responded with an editorial in the New York Times defending her use of the medication.

This “Star” Wars interchange cited above of “Cruise” missiles being fired against the “Shields” defense system caught my attention. I have watched a close family member struggle with bouts of severe depression for many years now who has chosen to treat it primarily with drugs and psychiatry. Unlike the way these two have portrayed themselves, I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject. But being a student of God’s Word and also of people, I would just like to offer the following observations about the topic of depression, in the hope it could help you or someone you love.

Depression is a God-given emotion indicating something is drastically […]