Do You Really Want Wise Counsel?

Do You Really Want Wise Counsel?

The phone rings and it’s a number that I recognize, it’s a young family in our church, so I pick it up and a conversation ensues. “Pastor, we need to speak to you, it’s important. Can we meet face to face?”

I respond, “sure, what’s going on? Are you OK?” He replies back, “yes, we are fine we just need wise counsel. Since you’re our pastor we want to do exactly that, get wise counsel.”

A few days later we meet in my office and after a bit of small talk the husband starts the conversation as his wife looks on, “Pastor, we love you, we really do. We value your opinion and want to make sure we bring you in on this very important life decision.”

Both the man and his wife began to share what was on their hearts. After listening for about fifteen minutes it became obvious to me this life decision to which my wise counsel was needed, was no longer needed. You see, the decision had already been made. 

You may be wondering why one would ask for wise counsel only to have already made the final decision. Well, after years of seeing this movie repeat I can certainly share my opinion on the matter.

Here are 5 of the most common reasons:

  1. It’s not that your wise counsel does not matter; however, the idea was so good they figured you would think it was a great idea as well. This is more about keeping you in the loop.
  2. It is more about getting your blessing, not your counsel.
  3. Accountability is not high on the priority list.
  4. There is a pattern of making quick decisions.
  5. Friends and family have said it sounds great. So, it must be great!

A good friend of mine said to be me once “your enemies will stab you in the back; however, a friend will stab you from the front.” When we ask for something we need to have the courage to actually listen to the wise counsel BEFORE a life decision is made. The Bible says in Proverbs 12:15 (ESV) “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Before selecting a person to give you wise counsel consider the following three things: (adapted from Stephen Davey)

  1. Does the wise counsel you are seeking violate your conscience?
  2. Does the counsel contradict scripture?
  3. Does the counsel hinder your commitment?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, the counsel should not be heeded.

Each of us needs a multitude of counselors. We must never be hasty in making decisions. Make it a point to surround yourself with God fearing men and women who will challenge you, speak the truth to you in love and point you to the word of God.

Until next time,

Charlie Moulton  

 

Embracing the Role of the Church

Embracing the Role of the Church

Hard to believe. But it’s true. I can’t sing. I remember first learning I couldn’t hold a tune. Charlie and I were in our early years of marriage when the sad truth was revealed to me. While at the end of a church service one Sunday, the announcement came for auditions for the worship team. I don’t know if he saw me lean forward with excitement or a smile came across my face, either way, I felt his hand on my shoulder when he leaned over and whispered, “Hun, you can’t sing.” Shock and disappointment went through my body.

What? How did I not know this? In my own mind and in my own wisdom, I could sing.

Much like my own blindness to singing, we as Christians can become spiritually blind to sin in our life. But God has lovingly provided a means for our protection against this danger and it comes in His design for the local church. The Christian life was never meant to be done alone but rather in the context and company of other believers. Ephesians 4:11-16

Left to ourselves, we can rationalize, justify, minimize and eventually become desensitized to sin. 1 John 1:8 sends a dire warning about self-deception, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This same passage teaches us that a believer’s life is one characterized by ongoing fellowship with other believers, confession of sins and obedience to God.

We are naturally prone to see the good highlights of our lives and completely miss the areas that are self-focused and self-seeking. The Bible shows this pattern of blindness and self-deception: David needed Nathan to expose his sin (2 Sam. 12:7), Peter needed Paul to confront his sin of fear and exclusion (Gal. 2:11-12), and Euodia and Syntyche needed Paul to charge them to lay aside their differences and get back to work of the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3). We all need other Christians to help us to see ourselves clearly and to stay on mission.

The bible is written with an expectation that we, as Christians, will live in close community with one another. There are over 50 “one another” directives in the New Testament.

“…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

“…Serve one another …” (Galatians 5:13)

“…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)

“…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

“…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

“Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)

“…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

Bottomline, we need one another to mature. This is God’s plan. A community gives us an environment in which to see the blind spots we otherwise wouldn’t see. It serves as a safeguard from self-deception and sin which can easily pull us away from the Lord.

Have you embraced God’s design and role of the local church in your life as a believer?
Settle in your heart that it’s God’s “protecting and growing” plan for you as a Christian. Then prayerfully seek out a discipleship or bible study group that will provide the community you need as a believer.

Let us endeavor to live out the gospel together and stay on mission for His glory.

Until the whole world hears,
Louise Moulton

Why I’m a Dodger Fan- Louise Moulton

Why I’m a Dodger Fan- Louise Moulton

In past years, I have found myself at ball games more for the social aspect of it than for the game itself.  Something about hot dogs, popcorn and sweets mixed with the company of friends and family has always been a fun combination for me, not so much the teams that were actually playing.

But lately my perspective on sports has changed because of my marriage.  The desire for an even closer friendship with my husband has been stirred up by the word of God through our recent Genesis study.   Seeing first hand in scripture that woman was made for man and that she was created to be his helper and a godly influence- has inspired me again (God’s word has a way of doing that!) to look for ways that I can be a better wife and friend to him.   After 26 years of marriage, I have learned that a close thriving relationship doesn’t happen without work and intention.

A few years ago, we redecorated our entire downstairs, changing colors, decor, etc.  The prior style wasn’t bad and it was fitting for that time of our life but as the season changed it was time for some redecorating to take place.  That’s a perfect picture of what I feel like God is doing with my role as a wife in my marriage right now.  Changes to how I approach my marriage and deepening our friendship is being redone.  My interest in sports and the desire to learn about the Dodgers is for the blessing of having another area of communication and connection with my husband.  Looking for new ways to connect and grow together in friendship allows me as a wife to cultivate a closer stronger partnership with my husband.

We have influence as wives to deepen our friendships with our husbands by entering their world.  What area might you become a better friend and broaden your area of communication? (This will be different for every marriage)

My prayer is that we would be wives who continually seek new opportunities to cultivate an even stronger, closer friendship with our spouses, so that God may be glorified in our marriages.

Louise

Genesis 2:18 
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a helper fit for him.”


Louise is the Women’s Ministry Director at Lakeshore City Church, 
wife to Charlie, mama to four and Nana to Haven and Kaiden. 

Are You Running to God, or Away from God?

Are You Running to God, or Away from God?

 

As a pastor, it has been my practice to take our church through entire books of the Bible in what is called expository Bible teaching. That’s just a fancy way of saying the point of the text is the point of the sermon. For six weeks, I went through the book of Jonah verse by verse, and quickly realized that our entire church was connecting at an elevated level with the prophet Jonah.

The book of Jonah is often misunderstood. For example, some have made Jonah a story about a whale. Jonah has become the favorite theme for Vacation Bible Schools across the country. Yet, the narrative of Jonah is not about a whale, it’s about God. A powerful God, a patient God, and a sovereign God.

If you have read this brief, four-chapter book, you may have noticed there is a lot of running going on. It has been suggested that:

  • in chapter one Jonah runs from God.
  • in chapter two Jonah runs to God.
  • in chapter three Jonah runs with God
  • and in chapter four Jonah tries to outrun God.

What chapter of life are you in? Are you running to God, or away from God? Jonah has become the blunt of our jokes as he is often referred to as the angry little prophet that needed a time out in the belly of a whale.

He has been likened to what not to do rather than what to do. But could it be that Jonah is simply being transparent? That his story is not about him, but about the character of God?

What do we see in the book of Jonah? We see a patient, loving, gracious, kind, and merciful God. We see a God who allows Jonah to run. We see a God who allows Jonah to return. We see a God who teaches, who explains, who disciplines, and who offers grace beyond what Jonah deserved.

Jonah had some bad days, bad weeks, bad months. His running took him to far away places. Yet God was always close. Jonah is a reminder to all of us that no matter how far we run, no matter what we have done, God, through this amazing book and ultimately through his son, Jesus, wants all of us to know that you cannot outrun his grace. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Jonah did not get what he deserved. And today, all of us can come to God through His son, Jesus, and be reconciled back to Him.

Today ask yourself, are you running to God, or away from God? And remember no matter how far we have traveled, God will meet you right where you are. Come to Him in your brokenness. Come to Him just as you are.

-Blessings,

Charlie

Frank Sinatra and the Garden of Eden

Frank Sinatra and the Garden of Eden

Did you know that one of the most requested songs to be played at the funeral on a non-believer is “I did it My Way” by Frank Sinatra? If there was ever an anthem for what we are without Christ, old blue-eyes sums it up with that song.  

“Doing it my way” started back in the garden of Eden when Adam & Eve became discontented with God and his rules. Remember the rules? Everything is yours, all of it except for the one tree. Enjoy paradise kids!

If you know the Genesis narrative, we quickly find that Eve was deceived by a talking snake and Adam was as lost as a ball in the Alabama weeds. All that to say, they did the one thing God told them not to do, they ate the fruit! Have mercy!

The choice to eat of the fruit was, and is, the starting place for all the trouble in the entire universe.  When Eve took that bite, sin entered into all of us. It has been said that sin makes us stupid. Sin seems to push us away from God, and it certainly did in the case of Adam and Eve. Genesis chapter 3:8-10 we find Adam & Eve on the run. Funny how sin does that. We sin, then we run. We run away from the very being we should be running to, God.

 

There were three things that Eve did that contributed to what we call “The Fall” and put Adam and Eve on the run from God:

  1. Listened to the Lie
  2. Believed the Lie
  3. Acted on the Lie

What lies are you believing today?

-I can hide from God

-No one cares about me

-This feels right to me therefore I will continue in this ungodly relationship

-God is angry at me and I have passed the point of no return

-My marriage will never rebound from this

 

All lies! Right from the pit of Hell. We really need to stop talking to snakes!  Remember, who you spend time with can be a blessing or a curse. Choose wisely! Take inventory of not only the who’s in your life, also ask what is in your life. What has come in that needs to go? Another way to say that is, “What is in my life that is not helping my life, as it pertains to my personal holiness?”

Ultimately, we need to connect with God. He changes our lives; makes dead things live! His grace is sufficient. Grace is beautiful, it’s getting what you don’t deserve. Grace says, you don’t need to run away from God, you can run to God.  Take it, take the grace, we need it! We are so dead without grace, yet so alive with it!

Here are three things to help you live a life that moves away from doing it your way to His way:

 

  • Counter the lies of the enemy with truth.

 

Read your word, pray over the word, memorize the word.

  1. Identify the areas in your life that you are in bondage to.

Confess those to the Lord and confess to a mature believer and ask for accountability.

 

  • Get yourself into community

 

Don’t be isolated. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Plug into a group at church. Find someone to disciple you. Remember isolation drives you away from the cross!

 

My friend Ron Galla-Rini has been kind to remind me in times of frustration the following words, “You have more power than you think you do.” Indeed, that is true. Thank you, Lord for the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit not only convicts us of our sin, it also helps us to overcome doing things our way, which leads to sin, and gets us doing things God’s way, which leads to life!

 

To Life in Christ!

Charlie Moulton