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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.

As human beings created in the image of God, we are psychosomatic; that is, we are soul and body, together, and always will be. Though they will be completely glorified—made new—even our resurrected bodies will forever be connected to our spirit. Therefore, it is spiritual business to care for our physical bodies. Both our body and spirit “require attention in living in a way that is pleasing to God.” That’s the main gist of a new book by pastor and physical education enthusiast John Lehman. The book’s content measures up to its title: Fit for the Master: Glorifying God in a Healthy Body.

Now in my 50’s, I increasingly see the importance of the proper care of my body. The extra 20 pounds my frame has been carrying around the past decade are not only affecting my physical energy level, but the lack of a consistent exercise regime also hinders my spirit. I touched on this just a bit a couple days ago. For this reason, I read Fit for the Master; I was seeking basic counsel for the average person who wants to get and stay in shape in order to serve God most effectively and efficiently while on this earth. I’ll summarize the book’s value in five points.

Qualified to Write – In the Foreword, a physical education professor at the University of West Georgia says of the author: “John demonstrates the epitome of health, physical activity, and continuous energy, while remaining actively involved in so many different pursuits. As a fitness fanatic myself, I have participated with John in many athletic endeavors, including cycling, swimming, basketball, tennis, racquetball, softball, weight training, and, most notably, hundreds of hours pounding the pavement and trails. John has a true passion for physical fitness, and effectively uses his similar interests with others as opportunities to grow, mentor, and share the gospel.”

Our Fallen Bodies Require Attention – “Most people grow and mature to full strength by about the time they are twenty-five years old. It is documented that peak physical condition is achieved at this stage. If life consists, as Scripture calls it, of three score and ten years—that is, seventy years (see Psalm 90)—that means that the body from age twenty-five on does not continue to improve but actually begins to deteriorate. As in anything, when something is left to itself, it will begin the process of atrophy. That is not to say that a person who is committed to keeping fit is guaranteed a long and healthy life, but it does mean that not exercising is beginning a process where the body is no longer as fit for God’s use as it would be if exercise were routinely undertaken.”

A Balanced Book and Accessible BookFit for the Master consistently pleads for living a well-balanced life; this is a life that gives attention to food intake, physical exercise, and rest patterns. The care of one’s material being has some affect upon our  sense of joy and peace. “While the Bible nowhere explains how or why endorphins are released in response to physical exertion, the fact of the matter is this: people engaging in physical activity typically enjoy heightened euphoric feelings, and therefore a significant sense of wellbeing. Exercise (keep in mind that exercise involves exertion) releases these endorphins. So, people who pursue endorphin-releasing activities have this sense of joy and peace.” The chapter on rest (often missing from physical fitness books) is very valuable as it honors God's original design in creation.

A Practical BookFit for the Master is immensely practical. What I mean is that it does not merely convict you with principles and leave you guilty for being out of shape. Instead, the books provides simple guidance for immediate application. By the time I got to the final chapter, I already knew how many ounces of water my body needs per day, and how many minutes of regular exercise per week are needed for me to maintain a healthy weight. The book also contains exercise diagrams and charts.

Not Body Worship – Finally, because the book’s focus is on the care of our body, it properly maintains that physical exercise is limited in its value. Love remains the greatest of all. Foremost in our minds must be the development of our godliness. “Exercise enhances the body, so if that body is to be used for God’s glory—which was His intention from the beginning—then the focus of the exercise is to help us be more fit for God’s use. To desire to have a fit body just for its own sake (not considering our responsibility and duty to serve God) is to put the cart before the horse. Bodily exercise is profitable, for it does bring one into a state of greater fitness, but it is not merely fitness in itself that is going to ultimately bring God glory. God is glorified when we find contentment in whatever state He has placed us. This involves our loving Him first and foremost and loving others also—see Matthew 22:38.”

Fit for the Master is an easy read. Now for the hard pain, no gain. The book is available from: Cheaper in Dozens (FREE SHIPPING), CBD, and Amazon.

[This post was originally published at the Counseling One Another blog.]

“The Bible uses one single, uncomplicated word to tell you how to respond when the enemy attacks: resist. When you do, the promised result is astonishing: the devil will flee from you. He will flee!”

That confident---and biblical---paragraph is from Good News about Satan, by Bob Bevington. In the previous post, I shared some thoughts with you from Chapter 2 about how the devil delights in taking advantage of our natural desires, which our flesh uses to generate temptation within us. Today, I want to pass along some thoughts from Chapter 7, on how we as believers resist the devil. The author focuses on two ways (in much more detail than I mention, below).

Remember Your Identity in Christ

If you are united to Christ by authentic faith you already are everything you need to be in order to resist the enemy. But it is easy to lose sight of this when you are in the heat of the battle. So it’s vital to maintain your focus by continually recalling:

  • Who you are: In Christ you are a new creation with a new identity.
  • Whose you are: You have died to sin and the law, and belong to Christ.
  • Who are you with: You are alive and raised up with Christ.

Put on the Armor

Ephesians 6:10-18 provides the most detailed how-to on spiritual warfare in the entire Bible. Here Paul tells the Ephesians at length how to face off against nonmaterial demonic beings with whom they struggled. Yet he never even hints at rebuking, binding, loosing, calling down, or casting out these evil spirits. Instead, he reveals the core strategy for spiritual warfare by repeatedly emphasizing a single, uncomplicated word: stand. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil….Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:11-14). The chapter then goes on to describe each piece of armor in detail.

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward look at spiritual warfare from a thoroughly biblical perspective, get yourself a copy of Good News about Satan.

[This post was originally published at the Counseling One Another blog.]

A critical part of the sanctification process is putting off the old self and putting on the new, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). However, this transformation requires first being “renewed in the spirit of [the] mind” (Eph. 4:23). The Apostle Paul taught this same pattern in the book of Romans: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1–2).

According to this passage, worldliness is primarily a mental disorder; that is, a misuse of the Christian mind. Instead of slothfully conforming our minds to think like the rest of the world, we as disciples of Christ must discipline ourselves to think God’s thoughts according to His Word.

The passage above from Romans begins with an urgent request in light of the mercy of God in bringing the redemption of Jesus Christ to sinners who are worthy of the wrath of God. Paul pleads, “present your bodies.” This passionate plea calls for the offering of the believer’s body to God for the service of holiness. This request is logical, because God owns us. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). This bodily sacrifice, unlike the offerings of the Old Testament, is living. However, in order for this sacrifice to be pleasing to God, it must meet His holy standard, which is both negative and positive.

God’s standard for His disciples is negative in that we must not be “conformed.” The word “conform” comes from a verb which, in this context, means “to form or mold after something.” This word is traditionally translated in the passive voice in Romans 12:2: “be conformed.” This passivity has been popularized by some translations, such as that of J. B. Phillips. However, the Greek form also allows for the middle voice, which would read, “do not conform yourselves.” The middle voice places the responsibility for personal godliness where it belongs—on the shoulders of the disciples who are called to be holy. Consequently, this verse is not only telling us to beware of the world conforming us into its mold, but it also discourages us from patterning ourselves after the world by adopting its values, priorities, and attitudes. Since Jesus died to deliver us from the world, to follow its standards is not an acceptable response to God’s call to holiness. According to Galatians 1:4, Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

God’s standard for disciples is also positive: “be transformed.” The Greek word translated “transformed’ comes from the word from which we get “metamorphosis.” John Stott notes that this word

is the verb used by Matthew and Mark of the transfiguration of Jesus. And although the evangelists vary in saying that it was his skin, his face and his clothing which shone, Mark is clear that he himself “was transfigured before them.” A complete change came over him. His whole body became translucent, whose significance the disciples would not be able to understand, Jesus implied, until after his resurrection. As for the change which takes place in the people of God, which is envisaged in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (the only other verses in which the word occurs), it is a fundamental transformation of character and conduct, away from the standards of the world and into the image of Christ himself.

This complete transformation into the image of Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). However, this work of the Spirit requires personal discipline on the part of the disciple, which begins with renewing the mind, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.”

The word translated “renewing” means to cause something “to be new and better.” That is, renewing the mind means washing out the worldly ways of thinking which inhabit the Adamic nature by filling it with a new, fresh supply of God’s way of thinking as found in the Scriptures. The “mirror” in which we behold the Lord Jesus is the Word of God (see James 1:23). Ephesians 5:26 says that Christ sanctifies His church by means of “the washing of water with the word.” It is the disciple’s personal responsibility to meditate on the Word of God day and night (Ps. 1) and take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) so that what does not glorify Christ may be rejected. Philippians 4:8 provides a great litmus test for all our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell [think, meditate] on these things.” Biblical counselors will want to use this verse as a test in order to help their counselees learn to discern their thought patterns. For example, counselors may want to have those who are struggling with impure thoughts print the text of Philippians 4:8 in large letters, frame it, and set it on top of their televisions or computers so that God’s standard becomes the guide for what is viewed. This is merely one example of the use of Scripture to confront existing thought patterns. This discipline of renewing the mind will lead to the promised reward—the full approval of the will of God, that which is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

[Excerpted from the book, Counseling One Another]

[This post was originally published at the Counseling One Another blog.]