Posts Tagged ‘Friday Five’

Mar
09
2012

Friday Five: Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges is a renowned pastor and biblical counselor. He has served Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as pastor-teacher since 1992. His preaching and teaching ministry often takes him overseas for the equipping of national pastors for the work of church-based ministry. He is also the author of several excellent books on counseling and pastoral ministry, including Counseling One Another and Counsel Your Flock. Paul is a biblical counselor certified with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) and the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC). Counseling One Another, is a highly recommended source for Scriptural insights on the ministry of counseling and pastoral leadership.

Paul was kind enough answer a few questions for today’s Friday Five:

How did you discern your call to the ministry? Was it something that happened immediately after your conversion? 

Within a couple months after my conversion in the spring of 1984, I sensed a desire building within me for vocational ministry in some form, though I had no idea what that would look like. About two years later, I married and moved to another state to attend Bible college for the purpose of being equipped theologically and practically for ministry. It was in my second year there that the Holy Spirit narrowed down my call through involvement in my local church. The more teaching opportunities the Lord brought along, beginning very small and then leading to occasional preaching in a country pulpit, the more the people of God confirmed my internal call by their encouraging comments. As I saw the Lord working in people’s lives through my teaching of His Word He gave me an insatiable desire to preach full-time and care for one of His flocks. Twenty years ago, He led me to return to Sheboygan, Wisconsin where I’ve been pastoring Immanuel Bible Church ever since.

Your pastoral role has a special emphasis on counseling and you write extensively about it in your books and on your blog. Why is biblical counseling so important in the life of the Christian? 

Making disciples of Jesus Christ is the Great Command given to the church (Matt 28:18-20). Obedience to Christ is the very heart of the content of our marching orders. Obedient describes the product we are called to reproduce, obedient followers of the Word of God. A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is committed to a lifelong process of growing in obedience to his Master’s commands and, by doing so, becomes like Him (Rom 8:29). Therefore, we must consciously use the terms counseling and discipleship interchangeably, or even together (discipleship counseling), in order to communicate that counseling is not the specialized ministry of a few professionals, but rather an intensely focused, personal aspect of the discipleship process for all believers. That is, it is disciple-making targeted at specific areas of a person’s life where biblical change is needed for that follower of Christ to move forward toward the goal of being fully remade into His likeness.

Many pastors, especially young guys, might feel as if they are ill-equipped to counsel some of the big issues their people face. What advice would you give them? 

Every pastor, especially the young and inexperienced, needs to maintain a teachable spirit and prayerful dependence upon the Lord. He should always be studying the Word with the intention of applying it first to his own life then to those he teaches (Ezra 7:10). He should also be steadily reading solid theological, pastoral, and biblical counseling books and journal articles, thus learning from his peers and men who have gone before him. Alongside these published mentors (authors) he should ask his church leadership to provide funding for him to attend at least one ministry conference per year, which could include the kind that emphasizes the personal ministry of the Word we call “counseling.” Additionally, if his heart desires further help and training then he should look into more counseling-specific training. A good place to start is the website of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Would you say that not every pastor has the skill set and gift mix to effectively counsel in all issues? And if so would you recommend he refer people to qualified, biblical counselors outside his church? 

Since “counseling” is the personal ministry of the Word to believers’ lives every pastor must counsel at some level. He is a shepherd; counseling is not an option. For a pastor to fulfill the biblical model of personal ministry laid out in Colossians 1:28, he must remain attached to people. This demands that pastors be involved in others’ lives far beyond preaching to them each Sunday, and it discourages us from keeping a distance from our people, especially from those we may consider to be “special-needs” disciples who require a large investment of time and energy. This is not to say a pastor must be an expert on every issue. The church is rich with untapped resources and he should involve others in the discipleship process. However, if these people resources do not exist in his own local church then he must be sure any outside counselors to whom he refers his members will minister to them in a way consistent with biblical beliefs. At the same time, he should also be training and equipping others in his own church to come alongside for this important ministry. It is the pastors and elders who are accountable to God to keep watch over the souls of the sheep (Heb 13:17).

Your ministry also emphasizes “counseling one another”? This is really part of discipleship isn’t it? 

Yes, everything the local church does should ultimately fall under the command to make Christ-loving, obedient disciples (Matt 28:18-20). Counseling that is truly biblical is merely an intensely focused and personal aspect of the discipleship process, whereby believers come alongside one another for three main purposes: first, to help one another to consistently apply Scriptural theology to life in order to experience victory over sin through obedience to Christ; second, by warning one another, in love, of the consequences of sinful actions; and third, by guiding one another to make consistent progress in the ongoing process of biblical change in order to become spiritually reproductive disciple-makers. Biblical counseling is helping one another, within the body of Christ, to grow to maturity in Him.

Mar
02
2012

Friday Five: Amy Black


Dr. Amy Black is Associate Professor of Political Science and chair of the department of Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College (IL). Amy is a specialist in American Government, her research interests include religion and politics and Congress. Her latest books include Beyond Left and Right: Helping Christians Make Sense of American Politics and her forthcoming release: Honoring God in Red and Blue, Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason

In Beyond Left and Right, you sought to transcend the back and forth partisanship we experience in our political system. But critics might say that partisanship is an essential part of American democracy. Is it?

American government would be possible without political parties; indeed, the framers thought they had created a party-less system.  But I do think political parties enhance American democracy in very important ways.  Parties serve many constructive purposes such as helping unify like-minded individuals, helping organize and simplify elections, and helping structure governing institutions.

Partisanship, on the other hand, refers to strong devotion to party, even to the point of bias. Almost all elected officials identify with one party or the other, and many voters do as well.  But connection to or identification with a party can become an end in and of itself.  I find this type of extreme partisanship problematic, especially for followers of Christ.  Our devotion belongs to Christ and Christ alone.

Some such as James Davidson Hunter advocate a “time out” on politics, so perhaps the church and reset itself. What is your opinion of this approach?

I don’t support this approach as a one-size-fits-all answer, but I do think that some people and organizations might benefit from following Hunter’s advice.  We have seen ministries and groups get so engrossed in trying to “change the world” through political advocacy that they have lost focus and grounding on their true purpose in serving the gospel.  Hunter’s proposal that we stop trying so hard to change the world and focus our efforts on serving as a faithful presence is a useful corrective.

But many will find that they are called to political engagement as a means of loving God and neighbor, and I see this as a worthy and important calling.  I believe our political system would benefit greatly if more Christians invested in it.

Your recent article in Christianity Today and your forthcoming book, Honoring God in Red and Blue, Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason urges Christians not to disengage, but to watch the tone in which they engage. Why is this so important?

Much contemporary political debate is nasty, scornful, and arrogant. Distortion is commonplace. Many people are turned off from political engagement because it seems so ugly, and who can blame them?  Politics need not be about derision or scoring points at someone else’s expense, but it usually is.

The way in which we engage in politics is a reflection of our character. We are called to exhibit the fruits of the spirit in all our interactions, in politics as in every other area of life.

Given the tone of contemporary politics, imagine the witness we could have for Christ if we as Christians made deliberate decisions to pattern another way of political engagement. What a way to show forth the light!

Seems politics is the one arena where Christians are so quick to check their Christianity at the door, especially when it comes to gossip, slander, and demonizing. Why do you think this is?

I do see many examples of Christians who seem to forget (or ignore) their witness as soon as they start talking about politics. Paul contrasts the fruits of the spirit with the acts of the flesh. The list Paul exhorts us to avoid includes “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.” Those terms are apt descriptors of much of what we see in everyday politics.

Some people apply the logic that the ends justify the means. That is, they will argue that they are pursuing godly ends and that it is necessary to play by the rules of the game to succeed in politics. The problem, from my perspective, is that we cannot and should not separate ends and means. We are not called to success; we are called to faithfulness.

Others appear to get caught up in the drama and excitement and mirror the behaviors that they see around them. This is a common temptation in politics as in so many other areas of our life.

Do you think the millennial generation approaches politics differently than their parents and if so, how?

Analysis of survey data suggests a few ways in which millennials approach politics differently than their parents.  For one, members of the younger generation are more likely to be concerned about a broader range of issues than their parents. They also have a very different relationship with technology. As you would expect, millennials are much more likely to follow politics and current events through social media and less likely to read newspapers than their parents. This differential in use of media sources may also lead to differences in their understanding of and interaction with political issues.

Feb
10
2012

Friday Five: Calvin Miller

Calvin Miller is a best-selling author with nearly four million books in print. He is one of the most poetic and gifted writers in the evangelical world. He is also a long-time pastor. Miller speaks all over the world and is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. His latest books include Letters to a Young Pastor and Letters to Heaven

He was kind enough to answer questions for today’s Friday Five:

In your recent book, Letters to a Young Pastor you wrote a series of candid letters to young pastors. You really attacked the cult of celebrity that you feel pervades the 

evangelical movement. Why do you feel this is such a big issue?

I hope I didn’t come across as “really attacking” anyone. But as a teacher of young ministers for more than twenty years now, I just donʼt feel the sensitivity in many successful, “large church” Pastors that I want to feel. It is terrifying for many young ministers to try and find a place to begin their ministry and the large church staffs are so busy and self concerned with their “own programs they often let the young pastors die unemployed without feeling the burden to help them find a place to begin “serving.

You really advocate pastors concern themselves more with the trench work of local pastoring. Is this harder to do today?

I think it has gotten increasingly harder in the last two to three decades. Statistics (on those who are going into the ministry) now reflect that. only about 20% of seminary students feel that pastoral ministry is their calling. This is sad indeed. And, as I say in the book, those who do feel called into the ministry, only about 20% remain in the ministry after graduation. This is terrible and I pray daily that churches will mend their ways on how they treat their young pastors, because pastoral abuse is the number one reason young pastors drop out of the ministry.

Your latest book is Letters to Heaven. It’s a unique look at some of the influences who have shaped your life who have passed on to Heaven. Who had the most significant impact on your life? “

Chapter one is about “Mamaʼs God!” in this chapter I credit Jesus and Mama as both being of vast importance in my call. Of course, Mama would say that Jesus was most important in my call and preparation. On the other hand, I think Jesus might say,

“Calvin, my son, Donʼt sell your Mama short. She mattered a great deal!”

You’re influences are diverse, from Johnny Cash to Todd Beamer to personal friends who are known only to you. We really are a product of the people who have shaped us, aren’t we?

We are indeed. Iʼve always believed in the old adage, “I takes a village to raise a child!” There are many in my village. All of them were important. You’ve been a writer and a preacher for several decades now. What would you attribute to your longevity? Well without sounding to Bob Schullerish, I have always believed that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And if that too “Bumper-Stickerish” I also believe, that the task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.

Jan
27
2012

Friday Five: Laurie Alice Eakes

Today I’m honored to feature the talented novelist, Laurie Alice Eakes. She is a fellow client of my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray and an award-winning author. Her books have won numerous awards, including The National Readers Choice Award. She was also a Carol Award finalist. In the past three years, she has sold six books to Baker/Revell, five of which are set during the Regency time period, four books to Barbour Publishing, as well as two novellas to Barbour Publishing and one to Baker/Revell. Six of her books have been picked up by Thorndike Press for large print publication, and Lady in the Mist, her first book with Revell, was chosen for hardcover publication with Crossings Bookclub. She also teaches on-line writing courses and enjoys a speaking ministry that has taken her from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. She blogs regularly here. Here latest book is  A Heart’s Safe Passage

Today Laurie was kind to take time out of her writing day to chat with me about the writing life: 

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Jan
20
2012

Friday Five: Ed Welch

Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has counseled for over twenty-five years and is the best-selling author of some of the best, gospel-centric counceling books, including When People Are Big and God Is SmallAddictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety.

His latest book is What Do You Think of Me and Why Do I Care?, Today, Ed was kind enough to stop by and chat for today’s Friday Five.

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Jan
13
2012

Friday Five: Matthew Lee Anderson

 

Matthew Lee Anderson is the founder of the popular blog Mere Orthodoxy as well as the author of  Earthen Vessels, Why Our Body Matters to Our Faith   He was featured in Christianity Today’s Who’s Next column in December of 2009.  Matthew sits on the editorial board of The City, and has been quoted on FoxNews.com, in the Wall Street Journal, and by the Associated Press.  He is a frequent contributor to publications such as First Things, Christianity Today, and The Gospel Coalition. He is a Perpetual Member of the Torrey Honors Institute and a graduate from Biola University (2004).

You’re part of a wave of young evangelical intellectuals. Scholars like Mark Noll have lamented the lack of evangelical scholarship in the past, but do you sense a new renaissance in evangelical intellectual pursuits? 

I hope so, but it’s very difficult to tell these sorts of things with anything approaching accuracy.  I know we have made incredible advances in a number of disciplines, particularly philosophy, psychology and sociology.  And I keep running into really intelligent Ph.D. candidates in political philosophy, which gives me hope for the future.  But if we are experiencing a renaissance, it will only be because of the work of Noll and others in the generation previous.  They were the true trailblazers, and my generation is simply lucky to stand on their shoulders.

In your famous paper, “The New Evangelical Scandal“, published in The City, you cautioned young evangelicals who tend to dismiss everything they learned from their parent’s generation. Why is this tendency so dangerous? 

“Famous” is probably overstating it, but it was a fun piece to write!  I think when the default mode of cultural engagement is that our parents were wrong and we’re out to fix it, we risk inoculating ourselves against any form of self-criticism.  Myopia breeds only more myopia:  if we don’t have the vision to see both the good and the bad of what we’ve inherited, we’ll never learn to truly see both the good and the bad of what we’re contributing.  Chesterton once wrote something to the effect that love is blind–it’s bound, and because it’s bound, it sees more clearly than anything else.  I think the same sort of thing is true of our cultural engagement: if we recognize the ways in which our lives our bound up in our parents, for both good and ill, we’ll see ourselves and the world more clearly and act more effectively in it.

Earthen Vessels is a thorough treatment of the intersection of the human body and faith. What inspired you to write this book? 

A moment of insanity!  Seriously, I have been ruminating on issues related to the body for a decade.  I first realized that there were depths when I listened to a lecture on Plato by John Mark Reynolds.  I also happened to be binging on the Apostle Paul and reading Dallas Willard’s Spirit of the Disciplines  The result was the realization that the Incarnation changes everything, and that the problem that Christianity solved in the ancient world (which is pretty close to the problem it solves today) is the problem of the body.

Why do evangelicals need a more robust theology of the body? 

For lots of reasons, not least of which is that it will help chasten the tacit secularism that many evangelicals have unwittingly adopted.  Secularism isn’t always and everywhere bad, but it’s impossible to sift properly without pre-existing theological categories that will filter things out.  Seeing how the Gospel shapes (and doesn’t shape) bodies is imperative for living in a world that has reduced the body to a question, and evangelicals are currently woefully equipped to do that.  Developing a more robust theology of the body will help us know what shape our practices should take, see how those practices will affect our bodies, and help us resist and affirm the counter-practices of the world with greater wisdom and discernment.  If it’s not my book, it has to be someone else.  And I’ll sell their book as much (if not moreso) than I’ve tried to sell mine.

Lastly, I appreciate the lack of straw men in your writing. You really aim to present both sides of an argument fairly in a way I don’t often see even in people whose arguments I agre with. Has this always been a feature of your writing? 

Well, that’s very kind of you to say.  I don’t know if it’s always been a feature of my writing, but I’ve always tried to make it one.  It’s a practice I take very seriously.  My motivation has two sides to it.  On the one hand, I want to be charitable to people, to represent them at their best because that’s what I want for my own work.  But on the other hand, if we’re going to ultimately disagree on something, I want to really disagree–fairly, honestly, out in the open, and preferably over a good meal that you’re buying.  It’s no fun having arguments when one side has been misrepresented:  it’s a lot more fun when the disagreement’s over the substance of things, and that’s always the level to which I’m trying to reach.

Dec
16
2011

Friday Five: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Christmas is the time when a lot of folks take some time off to rest and catch up on their favorite novels. Today I have the privilege of featuring bestselling novelist, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Kim’s books have received numerous fiction awards, including: ACFW Carol Award
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Inspirational Readers Choice Award, Heartsong Presents Contemporary Story of the Year (2006), and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Her latest books are A Whisper of Peace and Katy’s Decision

Today, Kim was kind enough to stop by and chat about fiction and the writing life:

How did you get your start as a writer?

I actually entered publishing through a rather unusual route. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but a series of rejections in the mid-1990s discouraged me and I threw myself into teaching. But midway through my teaching career, my health plummeted to the point that I couldn’t teach full-time. About the same time, my dad chose to self-publish one of my books so I could see my publishing dream come true. The reader feedback from that novel gave me the confidence to purse publishing again, and the part-time teaching schedule gave me the time to write. Between March and November of 2005, I signed contracts for ten books with three different publishing lines. I’ve been writing full-time ever since.

What is the most valuable part of your background that has helped you in writing such great stories?

I think being an avid reader and being painfully shy helped me a great deal as a writer. I always told my students, the best readers are the best writers because they’re exposed to vocabulary, grammar, and story elements. You rarely found me without a book in one hand and a notebook in the other when I was growing up. Being shy, I stood on the fringes and became a keen observer of people. That contributed greatly toward character development. As a child, I often lost myself in story worlds–writing tales with strong, confident heroines very unlike myself and now as an adult I have the opportunity to bring story-worlds to life…but not to lose myself. Now, my goal is to point readers toward a deeper relationship with God.

Bestselling author Janette Oke has endorsed your work. Tell us about what how her endorsement came to be, and/or how she influenced your work. 

When my novel, which I called Summer’s Joy, landed on an editor’s desk at Bethany House, she shared it with Carol Johnson, who had originally signed Janette Oke. Carol felt my writing style gave her the same feeling as a Janette Oke novel–a peaceful, uplifting feeling. So she shared it with Janette, who offered to endorse it. I was unaware of all of this until after Janette committed to endorsing it, which is probably good. Had I known JANETTE OKE was reading MY story, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. LOL I truly feel blessed to have been kindly received by the woman I consider the “queen” of Christian fiction. I hope my stories are as full of warmth and Spirit as hers.

You are extremely productive and keep up a high quality of work. Can you offer tips for new writers on how to accomplish this?

I hope I maintain a high quality of work! That’s important to me. With the arrival of contracts came the realization that stories had to be completed by a certain date (i.e.–deadline). To meet the obligation, I began treating my writing as my “job”–a rather awkward transition for all of us after all the years of writing for fun–but I had to set aside a certain number of hours each day for WRITING. I enter my home writing studio at the same time I used to enter my classroom. I start with Bible-study and prayer to get my thoughts centered, and then I write. I am in my office a minimum of six hours a day. I encourage writers trying to break into publishing to establish a habit of consistent writing now, because when the contracts come, they’ll be ready to meet the challenge.

You talk a lot about your grandchildren. Tell us about them:

I have a quiverful of grandkiddos–six Sweeties, two Bugaboos, and one little Wugmump. They range in age from third grade to four months old, and when they’re all here at the same time it is happy chaos! I can’t wait for Christmas. Please feel free to visit my Facebook page.

 

Dec
09
2011

Friday Five: Charles Powell

Earlier this week I posted a review of Kathi Macias’ explosive new novel that puts a human face on human trafficking here in America. It’s a book I encouraged every believer to read.

Today, I continue the discussion about human trafficking with an interview of Charles Powell, coauthor with Dillon Burroughs of Not in My Town (also published by New Hope).

Charles is a justice activist, film producer, conference speaker, and founder of Mercy Movement, a grassroots movement to abolish human trafficking and slavery. Over the past three decades Charles has been trained in counterterrorism and police investigation, worked as a bodyguard for royalty, and lived undercover during the war on drugs. He now uses his unique background to investigate and stop modern slavery in the US and beyond. Powell lives in Northeast Georgia.

Not in My Town not only exposes the scourge of human trafficking in our midst, it also gives practical ways to fight it. Charles was kind enough to stop by for today’s Friday Five:

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