Wednesday, February 21, 2007

free sample

Pastor “M” said he doesn’t give "biblical counseling" when helping unbelievers. What?! How could he not give biblical advice?!

Before I go on, I have every confidence that ALL of the counseling he gives is Bible-based. But it’s one thing to tell someone “try doing this,” versus “read here and tell me what God says you should do.” Just because he doesn’t quote chapter and verse does not mean it’s contrary to biblical principles.

I’ll try to faithfully explain his reasoning.

If a nonchristian takes a look at what the Bible says about something like resolving conflict and tries to live according to those principles, they might find success… for a while. Without the Holy Spirit’s power, they cannot have the strength to persevere in the Christian way of life. Eventually, they will lapse.

Christian living is not difficult. It’s impossible!

And then, when they are back in the ditch, and someone tries to tell them something about Jesus or the Bible, they have a negative response, and maybe react bitterly. Why? Because they think they have already “tried Jesus.” And “it didn’t work.”

God doesn’t offer samplers. It’s all or nothing.

On a totally unrelated matter, someone at church made the mistake of saying "We are but dust…" And it was torturous to keep my eyes from looking up at someone and start laughing. I pretended I did not hear anyone say butt dust. (snicker)


L.L. Barkat said...

Uh oh, I think somebody else needs a sabbatical too. [pretending not to mean you]

So, quick question, what does it mean that God offers, "taste and see that the Lord is good?" Is that possibly an invitation to sample?

Craver Vii said...

That’s a good question, LL. In Psalm 34, was David giving instruction for admonishing the unbeliever or singing worship to God in a poetic manner?

Llama Momma said...

"And it was torturous to keep my eyes from looking up at someone and start laughing. I pretended I did not hear anyone say butt dust. (snicker)"

Oh, Craver, you would get along so well with my noisy boys! Just yesterday, Twin A asked his brother:

What would happen if your eyeballs were on your butt and your butt were on your eyeballs?

I'll spare everyone Twin B's response. ;-)

Anonymous said...

OK so what are we supposed to talk about here? Pastor M's sermon or your butt dust?

L.L. Barkat said...

Whhhhh oooo whhooo wh oo, who ca-an talk aa-aat a time like th-this?

[peals of laughter]

Really, Llama, another cliff hanger (there's one over on Mark G's blog too)... I don't think I can stand it. You must reveal Twin B's response!

Llama Momma said...

Okay, okay. And then twin B said (while laughing hysterically): "You would have to lay down on your face to go poop!" (Can I say that here?)

Craver Vii said...

You just did... Hilarious!!!! God bless 'em!
So THAT'S what those are for. If that were the case, you'd have to say, "I wouldn't kick a guy with glasses."

Craver Vii said...

Oops. That was supposed to be a link that said, "giant glasses."

L.L. Barkat said...

And, with that, I think it's time for us to move to different grasses.

Llama Momma said...

LL -- Hey, you asked!

And now back to a discussion of Craver's deep and meaningful blog post...

Lara said...

Okay, back to deep & meaningful: don't you think God gives people "samples" of His power in their lives? Does He only answer the prayers of the faithful, or will He answer someone who is just "checking it out"?

I agree the regenerative and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit can't be "sampled". To get that gift it is and all or nothing deal.

And I do see what you're saying about things only "working" for so long for a non-believer. Then again, I see that same thing at work in the lives of believers who stray into living in their own strength.

Hope this helps bring a close to the discussion of glasses, grasses and...
butts. : )

L.L. Barkat said...

Sorry, Llama. Somehow, after I finished commenting, I was thinking you might say that! Yes, I asked. Thank you for risking all and answering. Reading your response, I laughed so hard at the very little-boy way of seeing the world. (Oh, wait a minute, didn't a big boy start this whole thing?)

Craver Vii said...

No, no. Someone else brought it up, and I exercised pious restraint, even as now I resist the urge to share slapstick anatomical humor. Nice, huh?

Anyhoo, Common grace, is God’s goodness as it benefits all the earth, regardless of their position in Christ. For instance, it rains for the atheist and Christian farmers alike. In contrast, we cannot sample “being in Christ,” like we can sample other aspects of God’s goodness. The counseling issue has to do with allowing or not allowing people to believe that they have “tried Jesus,” when in truth, they have never let Him in.

Llama Momma said...

Craver -- Yes. And I think sometimes common grace allows nonbelievers to "taste and see" that the Lord is good.

Consider a non-christian person struggling with addiction. They can use biblical principles to overcome addiction. (I'm thinking of AA and other twelve-step programs.)

But for the believer who is struggling with addiction, who is receiving biblical counseling in the midst of that struggle, a real inward change becomes possible.

Going back to the original post, "The christian life isn't difficult, it's impossible." Without the holy spirit living in us, we're hosed.

Every Square Inch said...


I think I understand what you mean. It's possible that I don't. If you mean by biblical counsel..."the bible says you shouldn't do X and you should do Y instead"...then it's not good biblical counsel, it's counsel based on moralism, coated in biblical language.

Biblical counsel is founded on the gospel (which I know you love). It reinforces our helplessness apart from God and our need for God.

I'm not sure that the problem is sampling - (thanks, LL for reminding us of the taste & see...)

The problem is more akin to giving a starving man a piece of shoe leather and telling him it's sirloin he's gnawing on. (although I've had sirloin that tasted like shoe leather but I digress...) Not only does he continue to be hungry, it also leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

thanks for the post...and I enjoyed the humorous comments as well.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Craver. Common grace would have been something more like what David understood pre-Christ, right? Though David's prophetic mind seemed to understand Christ before the incarnation.

If my theology is messed up, then I'd say, "Dude, it's poetry. Don't take it so literal." But then someone might question whether I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Sigh.

Why do we take something as wonderful as the Holy Spirit and analyze it to death?

Craver Vii said...

Andre, I once tried a tea that tasted like shoe leather. I wish I could remember what it was called. It was in a wicker basket at church, and although I prefer coffee, I wanted something I could sip through the whole lesson time, because my voice gets quite a workout when recanting Old Testament history to 4th and 5th graders. (I do character voices and everything!)

Mark, I don’t know whether to prescribe chocolate or coffee. Do you realize you called the Holy Spirit, “it” and not “Him?” And how can He die? Go back to bed, and ask Mrs. Goodyear to come in after a while with chocolate and coffee.

You know what? I think I will do that, too. But I’m already at work, so off I go to compose an inter-office memo requesting my supervisor to wake me up when she thinks I'm well rested…

Pete Juvinall said...

I'm still trying to wrestle with butt dust.

Shammickite said...

Amazing how you can all deviate from the original deep meanings of the original post and degenerate into bathroom humour!! But that's what makes the world go round I suppose.... well, not bathroom humour... but the companionship and sharing of a giggle or two. BTW Craver, yes, where IS the cat?

Every Square Inch said...


Are you sure that was tea in the church wicker basket?

Anonymous said...

I think biblical counsel and biblical advice are two very different things.

God is always reaching out to us sinners, believing and non believing, so I think in a sense He does offer "samples".

Halfmom said...

Butt dust, pious and restraint – and all in the same post – only you could manage that!

The definition of “to advise” is “to give counsel”, so I can’t see why there would be any difference between biblical counsel and biblical advice.

I think rather, based on his example of whitewashed sepulchers, PM was indicating that teaching non-believers to live by biblical principles just cleans up their external appearance without addressing the heart issues. That’s a disservice to anyone, but especially to a non-believer because the consequences are eternally significant.

Sometimes I think we forget that suffering the consequences of our own actions, even if they’re really bad consequences, is a merciful and gracious gift from God even if it is a “severe mercy”. I think it is something He frequently allows for both believers and non-believers because it strips away our pretense of self-sufficiency and reveals the fact that our “insides” reek no matter how shiny our outsides may be. If we help non-believers, or even each other for that matter, avoid the natural consequences of sin, we’re not only doing them a disservice, we’re actually usurping the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives – and that’s a dangerous place to tread.

You’re exactly right Craver – the best advice to give a non-believer will be biblical because their greatest need is the core of the Bible, Christ Himself. May we all get out and stay out of the Holy Spirit’s way as He draws us to Himself.

Anonymous said...

Usually with counsel *you* do the seeking, and advice is just given. So if *you are seeking* the counsel I can understand why Pastor M would not give counsel to an unbeliever. I do believe he would give biblical advice on a matter. When you finally get to the point of seeking counsel it means you have tried everything else, so now I will try Jesus. Which as we all know trying Jesus won't work.

Craver Vii said...

And that is the main thing I wanted to bring attention to: trying Jesus. It bugs me to no end to hear that a person "tried" Jesus and "it didn't work"

Anonymous said...

If I may put in two-cents worth -- Sometimes "trying Jesus" can be a very risky thing. The Holy Spirit may just come in and take over. This may not be a common experience but who's to say it never happens that way. We don't truly and totally understand God and how and why He does things. This may be just one of those things.

Jen2 said...

"The gospel is NOT a self-help program. It is a rescue operation"

- Pastor John Piper

I have to completely agree with Pastor Piper, and also with Ray Comfort's comment that if someone comes to Jesus so that their marriage will get better or to solve their low self esteem issues, they will not come with right motives, and may think themselves forgiven and as a child of God - and live like the devil the rest of their days to be shocked that their attending church on Sundays was not what God required. And sure, God can and "Does all that He pleases in heaven and among all the inhabitants of the earth"
But should we look at the gospel as a trivial 'try this fix to cure this or that' - without calling them to repent?? - If we do we fail to obey the command to "call everyone everywhere to repent - because God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness."

If we REALLY believe that Christ may come back tomorrow - the gospel we share needs to have more potentcy than as if Jesus was one of the many samples of ways to get what you want out of this life and or get to get to heaven.

Sugar coating truth is the exact opposite of being a loving Christian.
Usually it is somewhat of a powder keg.

When it comes to the gospel....our faithfulness to Christ's message is critical. Paul made known to us the seriousness of getting it right.
Gal 1:8-9
"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."

Jen2 said...

ie...the prosperity gospel.
I fear for them.

Craver Vii said...

Hrrrummmph !!!

Jennwith2ns said...

The tea was probably Lapsang Souchong. At least, that's what that tea tastes like to me.

And, because I am overwhelmed by this discussion (worthy though it is), and because I feel that I don't have anything to add to it, may I just point out that Starbucks frowns (big, ominous thundercloud frowns) on photos being taken in their stores (if it isn't somehow outright illegal)? What were those baristas thinking, to let you get away with that?

Craver Vii said...

Thanks Jenn! Lapsang Souchong... I think you're right!

I didn't know that about Starbucks. I think this was in a grocery store. There's a popcorn place I've been to called Garrett's that won't even allow cellular phone usage in their stores on account of picture taking.

But I didn't shoot this photo. Most of my pictures are from I usually crop them or manipulate the color, but rarely use my own photos. Thanks for the info, and for visiting, as well!

Craver Vii said...

Halfmom wrote:
I can't make the email link on your blog work - so here is your email.

See hyperlink below, comment from "Ragamuffin" - your previous entry is linked on the post. I think you'll find what he has written very interesting. You can also reach his blogspot by going to my blogspot and clicking on "Andrew"

It's always fun reading what you write!

Craver's response:
Thanks for the comment, Halfmom! (When I created this page, I chose not to include my email, because that would have revealed my name.)

I read your post. Thanks for spreading the dialogue. I appreciate Ragamuffin’s remarks.

In this, our so-called Christian nation (it’s not, really), where easy-believism is so prevalent, it would be wise, I think, to inform non-Christian counselees that sampling Christian precepts is not the same as “trying Jesus.” Jesus is God, not a concept. You may skim over a book, but there is no equivalent to skimming, when it comes to entering into a right relationship with the Lord.

Can God still use that to draw someone to Himself? You betcha! That’s why I encourage new believers to begin telling their story immediately. But that does not give us license to be dispensers of anything less than the full truth. We will be held accountable for what we do with what we know.

Jennwith2ns said...

I'll let you off the hook this time . . . ;)

Actually, I visit your site often, and have tried to post comments numerous times, but they never seem to appear.

Craver Vii said...

Jenn the Merciful, thanks for persevering. I have no clue as to why leaving comments doesn't always work. I appreciate your contribution to the dialogue.

May I give some helpful advice? For Now... does hair. She may be able to help you get those wavy locks under control. :-)

Jennwith2ns said...

Can she do that remotely? You know--once I get my hair wet, it's just out-of-control . . .