Tara’s Blog

What could one person possibly do to help in the midst of this terrible church conflict?


Great wisdom from Cap’n Dave over at RedeemingChurchConflicts.com today:

Q: I don’t understand what one person could possibly do to help in the midst of this terrible church conflict!

A. You can be God’s instrument in redeeming your church’s conflicts by humbly depending on the Holy Spirit and following the biblical principles revealed in Scripture.

Every church conflict can be redeemed because every church conflict can be used for genuine spiritual growth, both individually and corporately within the body of Christ. Christ can use you to redeem your church’s conflict—regardless of how other people respond, even if you are only one lay member out of hundreds or even thousands, even if you are only one leader out of many. You can be God’s instrument in redeeming your church’s conflicts by following the biblical principles revealed in Holy Scripture—in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Church conflict is complex. The various causes of church conflict, the personalities involved, the church’s polity, and the level of spiritual maturity among leaders and members will raise questions that no one book or biblical model could possibly address with specificity. Therefore, be carefuland pray as you seek counsel from church leaders and members about the application of this book and various Scriptural passages to your church’s specific situation. By seeking counsel from wise and spiritually mature Christians, all of us will hopefully avoid using any part of this book as a weapon to hurt others or fulfill any sinful demands we might have. Plenty of biblical peacemaking principles have been taken out of context and forced on others in loveless and selfish ways. We pray that will never be the case with this Acts 15 model. Instead, we pray that our efforts in this book will encourage and guide Christians and their churches in redemptive responses to conflicts—responses that are based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Theologian Dr. Dennis Johnson hits the nail on the head when he writes:

 In Scripture the starting point of instruction on right behavior is not a list of our duties, but a declaration of God’s saving achievement, bringing us into a relationship of favor with him.

(c) Tara Barthel & David Edling, “Redeeming Church Conflicts” (first edition, Baker Books, 2012; second edition, Hendrickson Publishers, 2016) www.RedeemingChurchConflicts.com

Trauma, Anxiety, and Hope

If we don’t interact in real life or on Facebook, you may be slightly concerned about me, since I am currently not blogging on a regular basis.

Please don’t worry about me! 🙂

I am doing very well, but just busy writing for publication, preparing for my busy fall speaking season, and living real life.

If you are in search of a few things to read, I highly recommend these two articles. The first one has stuck a particularly strong note with my Facebook followers—and, yes, with me. (As always, I am only recommending things that helped me. A lot.)

Blessings and joy,
Tara B.

I also have a personal post over at the PCA Women’s Blog, enCourage:

Loving Sincerely Because We Have Been Sincerely Loved


LiveBlog of The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference – General Session 7: John Piper – A Shepherd and A Lion

Live Blog The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference: Session 7 – John Piper: A Shepherd and a Lion

LiveBlog of The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference – General Session 5: Don Carson – Sharing Christ’s Sufferings, Showing His Glory

Live Blog The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference: Don Carson – Sharing Christ’s Sufferings …

LiveBlog of The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference – General Session 4: Mary Willson – Following Jesus Far From Home

Live Blog The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference: Mary Willson – Following Jesus Far From Home

LiveBlog of The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference – General Session 2: Jen Wilkin – Living A Resurrection Life

Live Blog The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference: Jen Wilkin – Living a Resurrection Life

LiveBlog of The 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference – General Session 1: Kathleen Nielson – Born Again to a Living Hope

Live Blog The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference: Kathleen Nielson – Born Again to a Living Hope

“Brothers and sisters, let us pray!” — My Review and Endorsement of Megan Hill’s “Praying Together”

Praying Together

I love beautiful prose and apt illustrations. When I book teaches me a new word (or two or three!), I know I am in for a treat. But my favorite thing of all about excellent Christian writing is when I forget the author and stop even noticing the beauty and wisdom of the words, because my heart is actively being drawn to meditate on the Triune God as revealed in Holy Scripture. And thus it is with Megan Hill’s, “Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches.”

This is an excellent book on prayer that I endorse and recommend without hesitation.

Unlike some of my other favorite books on prayer—some are richly theological, but a little weak in the practical application; others are phenomenal in diagnosing our real-life struggles regarding prayer and offering “solutions,” but present only the pale veneer of a shell of robust practical theology—Megan strikes a beautiful balance of Scriptural exegesis with relevant illustrations and instructions. She is also extremely encouraging!

Megan organizes Praying Together into three parts: 1) The Foundations of Praying Together (Relationship, Duty, Promise); 2) The Fruits of Praying Together (Love, Discipleship, Revival); and 3) The Practice of Praying Together (Praying with the Church, Partners and Groups, Family and Guests).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Praying Together:

  • Our relationship with the God who is three-in-one assures us that all three will involve themselves in our praying—making the prayers of a Christian part of a grand, heavenly conversation.
  • A company of praying people is a company of people equally dependent on God. But we also come to prayer with equally good help. The most eloquent giant and the most timid new believer can pray boldly together because Jesus prays for them both.
  • In prayer together, we love one another … Our common experiences are an opportunity for mutual love, and hearing the prayers of sympathetic friends gives us comfort. We take this same comfort from Christ as he prays for us.
  • Praying together is a loving act of Christian discipleship.
  • Thanking God together is an effective guard against ingratitude.
  • Whether I feel like it or not, I pray.
  • The Christian never prays alone. And the Christian never leads others in prayer by himself but always has the promised and sufficient help of the three: the listening Father, the meditating and interceding Son, and the helping Spirit. With this confidence, you can take steps (I’ll suggest three) to better lead others in prayer …
  • If it is good for us to pray in all our human relationships, it is especially sweet to pray regularly with our closest friends.
  • Praying together ought to be an element of the hospitality that God repeatedly commands us to offer … our prayers together refresh the hearts of saints and stand as a testimony to the unconverted.
  • Brothers and sisters, let us pray.

Amen and amen! And thank you, Megan, for this gift to the Body.

With much gratitude,
Tara Barthel, Author of Living the Gospel in Relationships and Co-author of Peacemaking Women and Redeeming Church Conflicts

Megan also includes wonderful study questions and a detailed bibliography, so this is a book that could (and should) definitely be used in group settings.

Surrounded by People yet Desperately Alone

surrounded by people yet desperately alone

What a joy it is to be included on the PCA Women’s blog, enCourage!  I hope that you will check out my inaugural post there:

Surrounded by People Yet Desperately Alone

(And all of the other posts by wonderful writers such as Susan Hunt, Karen Hodge, Ellen Dykas, Courtney Doctor, Christina Fox, Melissa Kruger … and more!)

Teach Your Kids from Your Weaknesses! (Romans 12: Duty, Depravity, and Destiny …)

This morning, I told my girls THE Romans 12 story. Some of you have heard it. You know. That time when I was SO MAD that I ripped my Bible — WHILE sitting in my Director’s chair at The Institute for Christian Conciliation / Peacemaker Ministries.

Beloved and brilliant Judy Dabler patiently and lovingly counseled me right into repentance and faith, basically by making me read Romans 12 out loud to her over the telephone. Yup. Not my best moment. But it sure has been LIFE CHANGING for me re: how God’s mercy calls me to respond when people treat me poorly.

(Oh. And my kids LOVED this story. MAN! Do they pay attention when we teach from our failures and weaknesses and point to God’s goodness and strength.)


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