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God-Breathed: Letting Scripture Transform Our Lives

In our lives, we often find ourselves wrestling with inner conflicts that don't honor God or reflect His nature. We might think we’ve got it all under control, but there’s really worship going on in our hearts that doesn’t honor God. Pride, selfishness, and deceitful desires can become so ingrained in our lives that we barely notice their destructive influence. We might even convince ourselves that our problems stem from others’ actions or circumstances. However, true change begins when we stop looking outwardly and start examining our own hearts.

The Power and Authority of God's Word

God has given us His Word, the Bible, to guide and transform us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

This verse is straightforward, yet packed with power. Every word in the Bible comes from God Himself, carrying His authority, character, and intentions for our good and His glory. Just because it is written instead of spoken, doesn’t mean that it carries any less authority than if God had spoken it out loud directly to you. 

Think of personal will that represents someone's wishes after they're gone. Those written words carry the authority of the individual who has passed. In the same way, scripture carries God's authoritative message to us. It isn't just a collection of texts, and it’s certainly not in His absence. It's God’s voice, directing us toward a life that honors Him.

The Transformative Process of God's Word

These verses in 2 Timothy outline a clear process of transformation. Pay close attention to the order in which the scripture lists these actions. It is necessary and important for these four actions to be taken in sequence. 

  1. Teaching: Scripture educates us on God's expectations and standards.
  2. Rebuking: It reveals where our motives and actions fall short.
  3. Correcting: It helps us realign our thoughts and behaviors with God's truth.
  4. Training in Righteousness: It guides us in living out these truths consistently.

This process is similar to how we might approach an area of our lives where we seek expert advice. Take physical fitness, for example. We learn the best practices (teaching), recognize (rebuking) and correct (correcting) our bad habits, and develop routines (training) to maintain healthy living. Similarly, God's Word provides the foundation for spiritual health and growth.

Counseling through God’s Word

In applying scripture to our lives, we follow a three-step process known as the ABC’s of counseling. This process isn’t solely for Biblical counselors; it’s for any Christian who desires for his life to be transformed by God’s Word.

  • Awareness: Recognizing what God's Word says about our lives and behaviors.
  • Brokenness: Feeling convicted and seeking God's help to be made right.
  • Change: Implementing the lessons learned and living them out daily.

True transformation often happens during the brokenness stage, where repentance leads to genuine change. There are three primary contexts in which we apply God’s Word:

  • Suffering: Seeking comfort and understanding during times of pain or grief.
  • Wisdom: Seeking guidance in decision-making and life situations.
  • Change (Sin): Identifying and removing sin that hinders our relationship with God.

Teaching: Understanding God's Will

Teaching is reading and understanding truth from God’s Word. We cannot obey what we do not know. Understanding God's character and His Will is fundamental to applying Scripture. 

  • God is powerful. (1 Chronicles 29:11)
  • God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3)
  • God is gracious. (Psalm 116:5)
  • God is just. (Psalm 89:14)

Matthew 22:37-39 describes His ultimate agenda for us. 

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The most basic explanation of God’s Will for your life can be summarized in four simple words:  Love God. Love others.

Romans 3:10-18 reminds us that no one is righteous by nature. We are born with a tendency toward sin. No one has to teach a child how to be mean, selfish or disobedient. Instead, we have to learn kindness, selflessness, and obedience. God's Word helps us understand our sinful nature and our need for ongoing teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

It is more in the subtleties of our hearts that our hearts begin to crave selfish things instead of what God wants for us. These common desires aren’t bad all on their own, but they can take center stage instead of our desire for God’s Will for our lives. This is where we begin to sin against God and others to get what we want. We must change these desires in order to transform our lives to God’s Will. These might include:

  • Respect
  • Acceptance
  • Having our way or being right
  • Appreciation
  • Affection
  • Pleasure
  • Control
  • Safety
  • Happiness
  • Never hurting again

Our struggles often stem from internal desires conflicting with God's will. James 4:1-2 and Mark 7:20-23 highlight that our sinful actions originate from within. To transform our lives, we must realign our desires with God's will, focusing on spiritual growth rather than worldly satisfaction.

The Role of Rebuking

Once we know scripture and what God expects, we must now apply that knowledge. Since God clearly tells us in His Word what is right or wrong, we have a measuring stick by which we can look at our own lives and actions to determine if they are sinful. Acknowledging our sins through the lens of Scripture is the process of rebuking sin (Colossians 2:8, Ephesians 4:14). 

Correcting Biblically

Confessing the truth back to God (Romans 12:2, Matthew 7:3-5) is a crucial step in recognizing what is true or right. Matthew 7:3-5 says, 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

We must first examine ourselves to see where correction may be needed. We must come to understand and agree that we need correction from God. We then may soberly evaluate our own actions and sins. Then, and only then, may we begin to help ourselves and others with truth and grace. 

Training in Righteousness

Living righteously involves putting off old habits and adopting new, godly practices consistently into our lives (Ephesians 4:18-24, Romans 8:5-6). God's Word helps us control our thoughts and actions and focus on the desires of the Spirit rather than desires of the flesh. We submit ourselves to the Word of God in order for our best and God’s glory. This, in turn, transforms our minds and actions for His glory.

Conclusion

God's standard for us is never perfection; it is always faithfulness and growth in Christlikeness. As we let God's Word shape us, we can stand before Him, confident that we've loved Him and others as He commanded. We can confidently counsel ourselves and others in our lives with truth and grace. 

Will you allow the Word of God to transform and change you? At the end of your life, will you be able to say you did what He asked of you? As Christ-followers, we must commit to letting Scripture guide our hearts and lives, bringing us closer to God and His purposes.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Ministry

I’m incredibly excited to kick off a series of podcast episodes I’ve been working on for quite some time called “The Seven Deadly Sins of Ministry.” Several years ago, I began writing and collecting notes as I watched people struggle in ministry for different reasons and faced struggles of my own.

Sadly, over the years, we have all seen people in high-profile positions end up disqualified for various sins and struggles, and whenever a ministry dies, I think it’s important to do an autopsy. Not with a spirit of sinful criticism, but to look at what happened, look to God’s Word, and ask the question, “What happened?” We need to heed the wisdom and warnings we find because those of us who want to lead others to love Christ don’t want our lives, our ministries, or our influence to be derailed by sin that’s neglected.

That’s why I want you to join me over the next seven weeks for this series. I have become convinced that there are a handful of deadly sins that, if left unchecked, can bankrupt, derail, and disqualify a person from leading in ministry. And there is too much at stake when it comes to our churches, the body of Christ as a whole, and even those who have yet come to know Christ not to take what is going on within our own hearts and lives seriously.

Both the Introduction and Episode 1, where I talk with guest Dr. Jamie Dew about a sin that derails men and women in ministry all the time - subtle pride - are already available. You can listen to “Living Worthy with D.J. Horton” on your favorite podcast app or find it HERE.

Is it Sinful to Ask God Why?

We all face times when we don't understand what God is doing. Perhaps we lose a loved one, or we receive an unexpected and upsetting diagnosis. We struggle as we walk through painfully devastating circumstances. We don't see life making sense, and even more discouraging, we don't see God making sense. So, we look to heaven and ask Him, "Why?"

I often get asked if this question is sinful. Click here to continue reading...

Holy Week: A timeline of Jesus’s last week before the crucifixion

The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is often called "Holy Week." This is the last week of Jesus's ministry, which includes landmark events with the community, His disciples, local religious officials, and political authorities. Holy Week culminates with Jesus's arrest, crucifixion, death, and burial. Thankfully, the story didn't end there! Sunday brought an empty tomb and the eventual realization that HE IS RISEN! Take a look at the timeline below for a detailed look at Jesus's last week.

Seven Questions to Ask Before Dating

When a student asks if a dating relationship is a good idea, my answer is always the same: “It depends.” I’ve seen some high school relationships handled extremely well, and they have proven to be mutually encouraging and beneficial. I have seen other high school relationships (OK, most of them) that end in heartache, regret, and ruined friendships. Much of this pain and regret can be avoided by taking the time to wisely and honestly answer a few questions on the front end.

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” 

–Proverbs 22:3

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” 

–Proverbs 19:2
Here are seven questions to ask to determine if a relationship is a good idea.

1. AM I BEING LED BY THE LORD?

You may have talked to a best friend or sibling about it, but have you talked to God about it? James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

God also leads us through the power of his Word (Psalm 119:105), the prompting of his Spirit (John 14:26), and the counsel of wise mentors (Proverbs 19:20).

The best advice I ever heard on discerning the will of God was this: “Walk with God, and He will never lead you out of his will.” God wants the very best for you; allow Him to lead you to it!

2. ARE MY PARENTS SUPPORTIVE OF THIS?

I know, I know. Your parents know nothing of this dating thing. It’s a brand new concept that’s only been around a few years. And besides, they want you to be miserable, right?! While some students actually think this, there comes a time for virtually every student (typically a couple of years into college) when you will realize the wisdom and value of parents. I have seen many, many students determined to be in relationships against their parents’ wishes, only to have major regret later.

If you are in high school, here is the bottom line: while the Bible does not specifically call you to be in a dating relationship in high school, the Bible does clearly command you to honor your parents.

“Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

–Exodus 20:12

If it is God’s will for you to ultimately be with someone, it will still be His will when you graduate high school. Honor your parents. It is not worth ruining your life-long relationship with your parents for the less-than-2% chance you may end up marrying your high school crush.

3. DO I KNOW WHY I AM DATING?

Here are two questions that will help you clarify this:

  • What is the purpose of dating? Serious question.
  • Why do I want to date this person? This answer will reveal a lot.

Write your answers to these questions on paper. Seeing it can bring good perspective. (You may also want to bring these answers to the conversation with your parents about dating.)

4. AM I FULFILLED APART FROM THE RELATIONSHIP?

God did not create Eve to complete Adam...or the other way around. He created them to help each other (Genesis 2:18). While God certainly does use us in each other’s lives, God never intended for others to be the primary object of our fulfillment. No guy or girl will ever be able to save you from loneliness, depression, or insecurity. God didn’t create them to do that. God created you to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), and to be in a relationship with Him before you seek fulfillment in anyone else.

We can only experience fulfillment in a love relationship with Christ. In such a relationship, we begin to realize our true identity in Christ and can begin to embrace our unique design. As we do this, we can experience authentic relationships as a part of the body of Christ.

5. ARE WE GOING TO HELP EACH OTHER SEEK FULFILLMENT IN CHRIST?

Consider each aspect of this graphic. Is this person going to encourage you in these areas?

Here is some Scripture to consider:

2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Is this person a follower of Christ who is growing in their love relationship with Him?

1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” I’ve heard many students state that God could use them in a dating relationship to change someone. While God certainly can use us in the lives of others, this is a VERY unwise approach to dating.

2 Timothy 2:22 – “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” So much heartache could be avoided by rightly discerning the motives of the heart.

So, if you are convinced that the other person will encourage you in each of these areas, then will you honestly do the same?

6. AM I READY TO DATE?

You probably already know the answer to this. Based on your circumstances, maturity, season of life, spiritual condition, and other priorities, are you even ready to date? Many students feel pressure to date or date out of a fear of missing an opportunity. Don’t buy the lies. What is the wise thing to do?

7. IF THIS RELATIONSHIP DOES NOT LEAD TO MARRIAGE, HOW DO WE WANT IT TO END?

I can guarantee you that VERY FEW students ask this question before they get in relationships, but most wish they had after the relationship ends. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of high school relationships do not lead to marriage (over 98% is what I’ve read in a number of places). I know it sounds depressing to consider how a relationship would end before it even gets started, but such careful consideration could completely change how you view dating.

How many people do you know who were good friends before they started dating and then their friendship was completely ruined by how the relationship was handled? Yeah, me too.

Have a plan to avoid this as much as possible. Answer the tough questions. Here are four practical tips for dating: 

1. Build a great friendship before a serious relationship.

2. Seek wise counsel.

3. Set up clear boundaries and don’t ever cross those lines; you can never go back once you have. (And things can quickly go downhill from there.)

4. Keep Christ at the center of everything you do.

And always remember this:

“Trust in the Lord and do good…Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

–Psalm 37:3-4

God wants the best for you...don’t be afraid to wait for it!!!

Dementia: A Biblical Approach for Care

When you hear the word dementia, what first pops into your mind? Old age? Alzheimer’s? Nursing homes? The high cost of care? No one likes to talk about dementia. Nobody wants to have dementia. Still, biblical counselors need to know about it because chances are they will counsel a person with dementia or, more likely, family members who provide care.

In brief, dementia is a cognitive disorder. The affected person’s thinking ability gradually deteriorates. It interferes with judgment and memory and also can create confusion, fear, and irritation. There are several types of dementia. The best known is Alzheimer’s, which was experienced by former president, Ronald Reagan.

Dementia Statistics

In 1900, people aged 65 or older made up 4 percent of the U.S. population. In 1980, this number nearly tripled to11 percent of the population. Do you know the estimate for the year 2030? 22 percent – almost a quarter of the population![1] And the “geriatric” slice of pie keeps growing.

Obviously, not every person aged 65 and older develops dementia. In fact, researchers found that just over 1 percent of those from 65 to 74 have this cognitive disorder. The percentage jumps to nearly 4 percent for ages 75 to 84 and rises to about 10 percent of folks over 85. However, some researchers estimate that dementia of the Alzheimer’s type may affect nearly half of those at the older end of this spectrum.

Secular Understanding and Treatment of Dementia

The secular term for dementia in the DSM-5 is “neurocognitive disorder” that progressively worsens. It is specified by severity. A person with a “mild” case needs help with some activities of daily living, such as housework. A person with a “moderate” case needs help with basics like dressing and eating. A person with a “severe” case is fully dependent on others for almost everything.

Consider Hank. At age 66, he took a job as a greeter at a big box store. He was a retired accountant and a smart guy. When he started as a greeter, he memorized the locations of many of the items in the store so he could direct customers. But nearly a year into the job, his memory noticeably slipped. His solution? To write information in a small notebook to help him remember things. But then he began forgetting to shave and to get to work on time.

His daughter brought him to a doctor for an evaluation of his cognitive ability. Using the Medical Model, the doctor ordered tests including a blood workup and an MRI, and they ruled out illnesses and conditions other than what his daughter feared most: major neurocognitive disorder due to possible Alzheimer’s disease. In the Medical Model, a doctor might prescribe an antidepressant for his mild depression and recommend ongoing care in a nursing home.

A Biblical Approach for People with Dementia and Their Families

Like the secular Medical Model, the biblical approach has a standard definition of dementia: decreased mental capabilities such as memory loss, inability to think abstractly, impaired decision-making, and the inability to communicate normally. The biblical approach values the contributions of physicians and considers dementia a medical condition that should be managed by a physician.[2]

In addition, the biblical approach recognizes that people with dementia and their loved ones need counseling based on biblical truth. A biblical counselor is advised to take a personal interest in a counselee with dementia and visit frequently, be sensitive to spiritual needs, and encourage him or her from Scripture.

Many Christian families may choose to care for their loved one at home rather than send them to a nursing home, if possible. We see an application of this in 1 Timothy 2:3-16, a passage that focuses on the treatment of widows. The apostle Paul says that widows first need to provide for themselves or remarry. If this isn’t possible, then the family is to help. Finally, if the family is unable to help, then the church would provide for her needs including proper housing, clothing, and food.

In his book The Art of Aging, Dr. Howard Eyrich shares an account of how their family cared for his father in their home.[3] Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he developed a negative attitude and everything needed to be done for him – dressing, eating, and eventually toileting. Much of this care was done by his daughter-in-law, who was “on call” nearly all day every day except for those times they arranged for someone to come in.

Howard fondly remembers an encouraging incident before his father’s death. His father told him, “Kid, I’d be in an awful fix if it weren’t for you. Thank you.” Then a blank stare returned to his eyes.

The wise biblical counselor also pays attention to the caregiver(s), helping them choose to believe the Word of God and apply it to their lives, no matter how they feel in the trial of dementia. Part of this includes planning, preparation, and team meetings among the family members who are providing care. Where will the loved one with dementia live? Does someone need to quit employment to provide care? And so on.

Also, a biblical counselor would demonstrate love to the family by helping to ensure that the family’s church provides emotional support and also meets physical needs. One physical need that a family will have is time to take a break. Another need might be meals delivered to the home. Still, another is for someone to fill in for the caregiver so that he or she may attend church.

The caregiver(s) too need personal biblical counseling as they consider their own heart and responses to the trial of dementia. Emotions like anger, fear, and sadness are common. It’s important that the church’s response is organized and methodical. Otherwise, the family may be forgotten and neglected.

One last note: the biblical approach recognizes that just because a family is willing to care for a loved one with dementia, this doesn’t mean the family should. As a biblical counselor helps family members work through these crucial questions, they may choose a suitable alternative. These might include adult daycare, hiring in-home care, or even a nursing home – all of which are costly.

Caring for a loved one with dementia doesn’t have to be a negative experience, although there will be negative experiences along the way. The Lord will enhance growth in Christlikeness as His children glorify God in thought and deed.

This article was originally posted by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. To see the original post, click here.

[1] Howard Eyrich and Judy Dabler, The Art of Aging: A Christian Handbook (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2006), 112.

[2] Marshall Asher and Mary Asher, The Christian’s Guide to Psychological Terms, Second Edition (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, 2014), 57.

[3] Eyrich, The Art of Aging, 75.

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