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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

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Paul Tautges

Crosswalk.com blogspot for pastor and counseling Paul Tautges of counselingoneanother.com

As we watch Russia’s war on Ukraine, it’s natural and common for our hearts to become anxious. Therefore, we need the Word of God to recenter our thoughts and emotions. Psalm 27, a military psalm, is an ideal place to turn for help in a time of war.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:1, 4

Escalating anxiety sometimes makes it seem impossible for us to respond in a righteous way. Pastor and author Brian Borgman explains, “Worry is a crippling emotion that paralyzes us. It bogs us down emotionally, making us virtually useless for anything else. In addition, it leads to other sins. ‘Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil’ (Ps. 37:8b). . . . Fear leads to lying, forgetting God, not trusting God, and not fearing God.”1 We don’t always recognize this tendency and, if we do, don’t always admit it. But anxiety can lead to other sins, as we saw in part 1 of this devotional.

That’s why there is much to learn from Psalm 27. Conflict induces some of the highest levels of anxiety you will ever experience. As King David’s enemies increased, so did his anxiety. Three times in the opening verses of this psalm he confesses to being afraid (see vv. 1–3). At least six times in the whole of the psalm he identifies the basis of his fear: evildoers, adversaries, armies at war, enemies, and false witnesses (see vv. 2, 3, 6, 12). Yet rather than responding with sin, David responds in a righteous manner, with a heart that is strengthened by God-centered faith. He turns to his only help and cries out to God (see v. 7). He fights fear with confidence in God as his defender.

How did he do this? What can we learn from his example?

Faith cripples the power of fear by reminding us of the right-now presence of the Lord (v. 1). David reminds himself that “the Lord is my light and my salvation” and that “the Lord is the stronghold of my life.” In fear’s grip, biblical faith doesn’t look only to promises of future deliverance but to assurances of present protection. While being persecuted by enemies, David says, “God is here with me. In him I will put my trust. He is my protection.”

Faith cripples the power of our fear when our focus and affection become singular in the Lord (v. 4). David deliberately turns the eyes of his heart away from real-life fears and toward his one, undying passion—to live in the real-time presence of the Lord. David seeks, “all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” As it was with David, so it can be with us. Gazing on the beauty of the Lord will rightly align our affections, enliven our faith, and alleviate our fears. Do you have that same singular longing—to seek after the Lord? Or does anxiety distract you from the Lord?

Faith is powerful, isn’t it? It helps us to fight our fears as we find our confidence in the Lord.

  • Reflect: Do you, like David, have confidence that God is on your side?
  • Reflect: In what ways do you experience the crippling effects of fear? Do you see any tendencies in yourself to allow anxiety to lead you to sin in other ways? If so, are you ever tempted to excuse this?
  • Act: The second half of Psalm 27 (vv. 8–14) is an anxious prayer that expresses David’s hope to see his longings of verses 1–7 come to final fruition as he sees “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 13). Can you pray this prayer and make it your own?

*This post is a one-day excerpt from Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace (31-Day Devotional for Life).

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Cor. 5:21

The greatest exchange the world has ever seen is this: Jesus traded our sin for his righteousness. This—and this alone—is the basis for our right standing before our holy God. God looks at the repentant sinner who trusts in Jesus through the lens of Jesus’s sinless character and sacrificial work, and instantly declares them righteous. This justification forever changes our spiritual status.

Justification is the legal act whereby God declares a sinner righteous based on empty-handed faith in the all-sufficient death and resurrection of his Son (Rom. 4:25; Phil. 3:9). Legal is an important word in this definition because it emphasizes the fact that justification is not experiential. Instead, it is an announcement in the “courtroom of heaven.” Justification is not the act whereby God makes us holy; that is sanctification, which is a lifelong process. In contrast, justification is a one-time event that forever changes the sinner’s standing before God based on imputed righteousness alone. Imputed righteousness is the perfect righteousness of Christ credited to our “spiritual account” as a gift of God’s grace received by faith at conversion.

The verse above is breathtaking in its display of God’s love for us. Indeed, the apostle says that God did this “for our sake.” Paul goes on, “he [God, the Father] “made him to be sin who knew no sin” [Jesus did not become a sinner, but the sinless sin offering] “so that” [God’s purpose] “in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Your union with Christ immediately and forever changes your status before God. No longer does God see you as Unrighteous Sinner, but Righteous Child. This alone was accomplished by the triune God.

God the Father imputed your sin to Christ while he hung on the cross. Then the Father judged Jesus in your place as if he were the guilty one. When you trust Jesus as the sin-bearing Savior, the Spirit applies the atoning work of Christ on your behalf—the perfect righteousness of God’s Son is imputed to you in place of your sin. God then declares you righteous, treating you as if you had perfectly obeyed his law just as Jesus did. This is the wondrous exchange! As a result, “those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). This is all of faith, not by works: “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20); “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28); “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Nevertheless, your justification is inseparably wed to a living faith that produces works which reflect the glory of God (John 15:8; Eph. 2:10; James 2:17).

Therefore, though justification itself is not experiential, but a judicial declaration of your new position before God, it results in experiencing the heart-transforming work of the Spirit, which is sanctification. Regardless of whether you feel righteous, the Word of God declares you are so in Christ. Bring your thoughts and feelings in line with Scripture.

[This article is written by Christine Chappell, but was first posted on my blog: Counseling One Another.]

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 1 in 4 American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.[1] As biblical counselors, it’s not uncommon for us to meet with men, women, and children who have sought out psychiatric care for the disruptive problems they’re experiencing. Personally, 80% of the women I’ve met with for counseling during the past year have been labeled with (and given prescriptions for) more than one disorder diagnosis. Unfortunately, this trend may not decrease anytime soon. A study recently conducted by a psychiatric research team in the UK[2] revealed that nearly one-third of the recovered COVID-19 patients they observed were diagnosed with a mental or neurological disorder within six months of their infection.

My First-Hand Experience

And yet, these heartbreaking realities aren’t the main reason I wrote Help! I’ve Been Diagnosed with a Mental Disorder. As is the approach of many of the LifeLine Mini-books[3], this resource is the fruit of my own lived experiences. I know first-hand what it’s like to be labeled with a mental disorder. I’ve been through the psychiatric hospitalization process on two different occasions—once as an unbeliever, and again as a disciple of Christ; once as a teenager, and again as an adult; once as a single woman, and again as a married woman; once as a child, and again as a mother of three.

In short, I wrote this mini-book for everyday people like myself—for Christians who have been given a label and wondered how the good news of Christ Jesus intersects with the apparent bad news delivered to them by a psychiatrist. More than that, I’ve also written this resource for people like Robbie[4], a vagabond whose path I briefly crossed during my latter hospital stay. One Sunday morning after a vaguely-religious service, he shuffled toward the on-call chaplain and asked, “Can you get me a Bible, a Quran, a Book of Mormon, and any Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets you’ve got in this place?”

Like so many who feel trapped by their respective afflictions and the stigmatizing labels that accompany them, Robbie was desperate for life change. Based on his question, we might surmise that he was searching for realistic hope and meaningful help but didn’t know where on earth (or in heaven) to find it.

Having battled against depression for more than 15 years at that point in time, I could relate to Robbie’s distress. I also felt desperate for change and yet powerless to bring it about. And while I do not know what ultimately came of Robbie’s search for hope and help, I do know that my God, in His steadfast love, did meet me in the hospital (Ps. 59:9-10). There, He turned the bitter diagnosis I received that week into a sweet catalyst for transformative spiritual growth. What I thought would be the end of me God used to bring new change in me. And praise the Lord, progress did happen—over time and by degrees as I repented of my “fix it” mentality and embraced God’s higher purposes for my life instead.

There Is Comfort in Christ

So how would you minister Christ’s comfort and counsel to someone who has recently been labeled with a mental disorder? What words of realistic hope and meaningful help do the Scriptures have to offer to someone who is plodding through a post-diagnosis journey? And when it seems like someone’s entire world is being redefined by a psychiatric label, which gospel truths serve to stabilize their heart amid confusion? In this mini-book, I recommend biblical answers to these questions by stewarding the comforts I received from God in the days and weeks immediately after my hospitalization (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

It ought to be said that I’m extremely grateful to God for the current conversations taking place surrounding this admittedly nuanced topic. I know the term “mental disorder” comes with a certain amount of social, cultural, and theological baggage. But to be clear, this mini-book doesn’t attempt to enter into the ongoing academic dialogs about terminology, diagnostic validity, or treatment efficacy (though those discussions are needed and important). Rather, it attempts to enter into the sufferer’s acute distress as he or she grapples with what a disorder diagnosis does—and doesn’t—mean for his or her life according to the great and many promises of God.

As we think about holistic post-diagnosis care in this mini-book, my ultimate goal is to invite readers to come to Christ’s counseling table. I do this because—in contrast with psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—the Bible is the only “reference book” that will tell us about our whole selves while offering the promise of wholeness at the very same time. My prayer is that the Lord would use this resource as a primer for future Christ-centered counseling conversations—ones that patiently help the reader connect the terrible truths of their lived experiences with the wonderful facts of gospel realities.

Although the problems suffered by those labeled with a mental disorder vary on an individual basis, the Scriptures offer a foundational perspective from which to process these kinds of challenges. By guiding readers to stabilizing biblical truths about their personhood, purpose in life, and potential for making progress post-diagnosis, I encourage them to consider what’s most true about their story and to embrace God’s redemptive perspective as their own. Realistic hope and meaningful help are always available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter where someone might land on the disorder spectrum. But what exactly is the nature of this hope, and what specifically are the methods of His help?

“Come,” says our Wonderful Counselor, “and you will see” (Isa. 9:6, John 1:39).

Note: Help! I’ve Been Diagnosed with a Mental Disorder by Christine Chappell can be purchased from Westminister Books, Shepherd Press, and Amazon.


*This post was first published by the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

[1] “Statistics Related to Mental Health Disorders,” Johns Hopkins Medicine, accessed April 10, 2020, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/mental-health-disorder-statistics.

[2] “1 in 3 COVID Survivors are Diagnosed with Mental Health Conditions” https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2021/04/07/covid-19-mental-health

[3] https://www.shepherdpress.com/store/lifeline/

[4] This man’s name has been changed for privacy purposes.

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