Thursday, November 12, 2015

Seminary Update: November Happenings and Reading List

Hello, and happy November! I’m counting down to 2 weeks till Thanksgiving break! We’ve had a lovely fall here (I think in New England they did as well), the end of October/very beginning of November were quite warm! It was nice to have a little longer fall! I did get a cold two weeks ago, and am still getting over the leftovers from it, but otherwise I’ve been doing good. I had 2 midterms which went pretty well. Now just a few more papers for the semester (I think 3 more bigger ones) and then finals!

Books I’ve been reading: Various books for classes, some on Christian history, Old Testament theology, and some counseling information reading. I’ve read Augustine’s Confessions, Calvin’s Institutes (just part of it), Jonathan Edwards (a collection of various writings), The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til (great book on apologetics – heavy reading though!), and also The Battle Belongs to the Lord by Scott Oliphint (my apologetics professor), Darkness is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight (really great book on bipolar disorder from a Christian perspective), and I’ll be starting Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen soon.

In addition (!) to school reading I also recently read this book: How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. The author is not a Christian, but this is a fascinating account of the fall of the Roman Empire into ruin and illiteracy and how the Irish actually brought back learning, books and also Christianity to the European continent. Without St. Patrick’s mission work in Ireland we would not have the vast amount of Latin literature we have today. If you like history, this is a great one to pick up!

I went downtown Philly last Saturday for just a few hours, so that was fun. A few pictures below....

Til next time, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Time to Speak (part 2: 10 ways to Confront in Love)

This post is based on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “10 Ways to Confront in Love” and was presented by Alistair Groves. For more information please visit
In the last post we talked about the foundation we need to build before confronting someone. If you have not read that most please do so first! It’s important to have that groundwork covered before you move forward. But as you do here are 10 ways we can confront in love. (These I learned from Alistair Groves at the conference mentioned above so are not original to me.) They are not in any particular order, but the first 5 should be pursued first before proceeding to the others.

1. Ask questions. Ah how many hurt feelings could be avoided if we learned this art! At the risk of sounding repetitive, please go over the cautions again in the previous post. Do NOT assume that you know what the person meant or that you know what’s wrong. Ask honest, curious-type questions and really listen to them. And how you ask these questions is important to, watch your attitude. It’s easy to ask questions in a critical manner. That will likely result in the other person being defensive and that will only make things more difficult. Do not be critical or make judgments about their motives, feelings, etc. Rather, with gentleness seek to know what is really going on.

“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” - Prov 18:17

2. Encourage. Did you know that your encouragement can actually be a way of confronting someone? You do this by naming and encouraging the good that you see. Indirectly this lets them know that the opposite is not OK. They may need to see the contradiction, and encouraging the good things helps them to see more clearly. 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” - 1 Thes 5:11

3. Remind. Simply remind them of what God wants for their life and what the Holy Spirit is seeking to produce in them. We easily forget that God’s goal for our life is holiness and gently reminding them of that will help to re-orient them to right thinking. Do this without criticizing or telling them what they’re doing wrong. 

“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.”  - 2 Peter 1:12

4. Exhort. This is basically holding up before them what is good and encouraging them to pursue it. Give them a good goal to press towards and show them ways that they could grow. Again, do this with gentleness and without being judgmental. 

“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.”  - 1 Thes 4:1

5. Acknowledge the difficulty of temptation. Be sensitive to the fact that they may be struggling and that the struggle with temptation is HARD! Saying something like “wow, if that were me I would be tempted to _____, how are you dealing with that?” is a way of helping them realize the fact that they are being tempted and need to be fighting it. 

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” - Prov 13:14

Now these latter 5 begin to feel more like actual “confrontation”. Again, these should be exercised only after the former 5 have been put into practice. Also these steps should only be pursued if you are convinced there is actual sin involved.

6. Express concern. Tell them that you’re concerned, but do NOT give advice. Giving advice or counsel at this point still may mean you are presuming upon their motives and it’s important to wait to see how they respond to this step. Ask more questions to get to their heart. While here you are pressing a little harder still proceed with gentleness, you’re expressing concern not attacking them!

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” - Prov 20:5 

7. Admonish/Warn. This is more like actual correction. It’s saying something like “I don’t think you should be doing that because….” You believe they are doing something that could be sinful so you should have pretty clear Scriptural principles backing you up at this point, and you should be showing it to them. This is also where you would also warn them of implications/consequences. 

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” - 1 Cor 4:14

8. Plead/Urge. This takes it a step further. You are urging them to stop and think about what they are doing (or not doing perhaps). Seek to show them how much you care about them and earnestly ask them to reconsider/repent. 

“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus… that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing.” - 1 Tim 6:13-14 

9. Rebuke. One step further that basically says “What you are doing is wrong and you need to stop/repent”. Sin can be very clearly identified, and they are showing resistance to the truth.

“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” - 1 Tim 5:20

10. Hand over/Cut off. If they are unrepentant, this is where something like church discipline would commence (Matthew 18). If it’s not someone in your church, than you still may need to distance yourself or even cut off your relationship with them but you do so purposefully, clearly telling them that unless they repent you cannot treat them as a fellow Christian. 

"Put away from yourselves the evil person." – 1 Cor 5:13

A few comments on what to do if you’ve done this all wrong… 
-Humbly confess to God where you’ve been wrong and then be willing to go to the person you’ve (most likely) offended with your wrong attitude/approach.
-If the situation was never resolved, now is not the time to try and do it right. You need to simply ask for forgiveness and work to restore the relationship. Sorry to say, you lost the right to speak into their life so don’t presume that you can just pick up where you left off. They may not trust you very much. There may be a time in the future where you can talk to them about the issue and begin to confront them correctly but again, proceed with much caution and prayer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Time to Speak (part 1: How to Confront in Love)

This post is based (in part) on a session given at the 2015 CCEF National Conference. This particular session was titled “10 Ways to Confront in Love” and was presented by Alistair Groves. For more information please visit

Believe it or not, confronting can be done in love, AND it can be done without feeling like “confrontation”! We are told to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) but most of the time we end up being heavy-handed on one or the other.  Most of the time we either avoid confrontation in the name of “love” (usually because we don’t want to get involved or we are fearful of the person’s reaction), or we confront too strongly in the name of “truth”. We need to learn to be balanced and be grounded in a right understanding of truth with humility and love. Your goal in confrontation is not to win your viewpoint; rather it is to win your brother/sister. Your goal is to grow closer to the person, not push them further away. Unfortunately often in confronting someone we end up doing the latter.

 “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”      - Prov 18:19

How can we avoid this? First of all it’s important to consider the situation from another perspective, not just your own; sometimes we can be blindsided by our own point of view. Perhaps we were offended because we took it too personally. Take a step back from the situation and consider whether or not you are being overly sensitive. Is it really that big of a deal? Also, remember that the vast majority of the time what we need to do is cover the offense. If it’s not a sin issue or something that is really affecting the relationship than for the sake of love, we need to put it aside. We need to learn to cover well and love others despite disagreements.

 “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”    - Prov 19:11

However, there are times when there is something that we believe is sinful or something that is hindering the relationship. As we consider the idea of confronting the other person we first need to deal with our own hearts. Oh our hearts are so deceitful. We think we know so much. Let me give you a few cautions:

-beware of your assumptions! We very quickly assume we know what the other person meant, how they are feeling, what exactly they’re thinking….. hmm yeah, we don’t! “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov 18:13)

-beware of your pride. Humility is so, SO crucial! If you think you’re humble enough, wait awhile longer, you’re probably not. “By pride comes nothing but strife…” (Prov 13:10)

-beware of your feelings. Many times we confront because we were personally offended. But this cannot be about you! We cannot be motivated out of personal feelings, offense or resentment. “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Prov 29:11) & “A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” (Prov 18:2)

-beware of your attitude. Gentleness is another crucial characteristic that we need to exercise in this process. Gentleness means that we use the least amount of force necessary. It is caution and quietness.“By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.” (Prov 25:15)

In summary, spend time in prayer about the situation. Prayer is important as it helps to orient you correctly to God, and the reality that you need His help! In prayer you ask the Lord to guide you and to work growth and change in you, not just in the other person. Ask the Lord to humble you, to reveal anything in you that needs to change. The ultimate goal is to glorify God and then to win your brother/sister to greater growth in Christ.

In a follow-up post I will give 10 ways Alistair Groves gave on how to confront in love.