Over the last couple of weeks I have had some people come to me and point out sins in my life. I am deeply grateful for this. I am grateful to the elders who sat down with me and the few others in the congregation that have been kind enough to speak the truth in love to me.
I consider it a blessing that I have friends in the Lord who love me enough to rebuke and admonish me when I need it.
But I wanted to share these with you. I wanted to publicly confess these sins because, for one, I’d like your prayers for my sanctification. But I also recognize that, these sins are, to a great degree, public in nature. They are sins that might be perpetrated against you. Or, at the very least, they are sins that are done before you. And I want to make sure that you do not my mistakes or think that these transgressions are permissible in God’s eyes.
One of the sins that was pointed out was my lack of empathy. This is not something that was new to me. I have always known that this was a flaw in my character. For instance, when I was young I once asked my mother what she thought of me. I wanted her honest opinion of who I was. She said that I was aloof. And she explained to me that I have a tendency to be a little distant and that I don’t connect with people on an emotional level very well.
Later on, when I was in high school, I took one of those personality tests that were popular. It also revealed that one of my weaknesses was in the area of compassion. My mentor went over it with me and he said that when I got into ministry I needed to be sure to surround myself with people who demonstrate these gifts to help compensate for my lack.
Thankfully the Lord has provided good compensation. I think Mark and Jim do provide good compliments in that regard. Moreover the Lord has given me a wife who is oozing with empathy (and perhaps that’s why she can put up with me).
That still does not justify my lack of sympathy though. And I want to confess that this before you and acknowledge it for the sin that it is.
The other sin that was addressed was my levity. Those of you who know me know that I like to have a good time and be a little zany. I was told that this can be taken too far at times. I was told that there can be some undue levity that can detract from the gravity of God’s word. It sometimes make me out to be someone who people can’t take seriously. Or perhaps even cross the line into profaneness and blasphemy.
I will admit that this kind of took me by surprise. But I want you to know that I’ve taken these admonitions to heart. I do not want any undue levity becoming a barrier to my ministry or, worse yet, becoming a means to your own stumbling.
Prayer of Repentance
We bow before you in order to confess our besetting sins. A of us have sins that are personal and particular to our given personality. We all have weaknesses in our character wherein we fall short. And we also have strengths which can be abused and not put to the proper use.
Just as you created each one of us as a unique individual, we each have our own besetting sins which are unique to us. And we look to you now for pardon and ask that you would overlook the multitude of them for the sake of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.
Father, I especially acknowledge to you my own flaws and confess my iniquity before you. Forgive me for not being like unto the Lord Jesus whose is filled with compassion and continually sympathizes with his people. Pardon me for the times I have not connected with those who were hurting or have been deemed to be emotionally detached.
Lord I pray that you would fill me with love and make me to love more genuinely. I pray that you would help me to be gentle with my own children, tender towards my wife, and attuned to the needs of this congregation.
I also beseech you for your grace in regards to any undue levity I have displayed. Please forgive me for allowing any profaneness to intrude upon your worship or mar your honor.
Moreover, I pray that this congregation might be purged of any and all evil that might be the result of my doing. Let not my stains be their undoing and let not my iniquity penetrate into their lives.
We thank you God for your abundant mercies and for the promise of full salvation in the cross of your precious Son. And we pray that through the gospel we might have reason to rejoice and pursue new life with greater zeal.
For this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Assurance of Pardon: 1 Timothy 1:15
This is a trustworthy saying and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
I've been reading The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglass Bond.
Knox has always been a favorite of mine. The more I read of him, the more I find him to be a kindred spirit.
While reading, I found this quote particularly stimulating:
"We smile and shake our heads; maybe Knox was a bit too fanatical. "Think how much more good he could have done if he had been more relational, if he had been more like us," we say. But meanwhile, what idols remain untoppled in our world today? Perhaps they remain comfortably on their pedestals because, unlike Knox, many ministers prefer delivering sophisticated and erudite lectures on the one hand and non-confrontative chats about community and culture on the other."
This next week I get to speak about one of my favorite subjects: my kids and our experience in adoption.
Mark Hamilton, one of our elders at Providence Church, teaches a course on ethics at the university as part of his philosophy core. In it he has one section designated to the issue of abortion. He asked me to come and talk about the flip side of it (i.e. adoption).
If you are interested, the synopsis of my talk is listed here.
I was asked to participate in today's Election Day Prayer event that is being held downtown. It is put on by Southview Church and the Coalition, a conservative political group here in town. My segment of prayer is to focus on the topic of families. Here is what I plan to say...
As we bow our faces before you we acknowledge that a renewal in our country requires a renewal in our marriages and families. We know that we cannot have the former without first having repentance and reformation in the latter.
We confess that our nation is broken because our homes are broken. We suffer oppression from Pharaohs and Caesars because we have not first had godly mothers and fathers.
So we pray that you would grant us renewal at the grassroots level. May there be a reformation in our land, where we take to heart what it means to be united in the covenant of holy matrimony. May we begin to see that there is nothing more patriotic than the fidelity of a husband and his wife. May you grant us fathers and mothers who, instead of slaying their children, will instead love them and cherish them all their days. May these parents then take up their responsibility to train their children them in the fear of you and not further the decay of our country by handing them over to schools where atheism and relativism are the rule.
As we stand here today, we pray “God save the home.”
But yet, we know that as the king goes, so goes the nation. And for this reason we pray not just for a grassroots revival, but we also pray for our leaders and the policies that they make.
Lord, we ask that you would grant that those who would win out these elections would be restrained from instituting policies that further the destruction of marriage and family in our land. Instead, may they be made to do what is just and promote what is in accord with rule of King Jesus.
We pray that policies that strike against godliness would be revoked. You know how our nation permits (and even encourages) things like divorce, sodomy, and abortion. Moreover, our leaders continue to wrap the chains of debt around us. They oppress our families with heavy taxation. They rip apart families with their welfare programs. All this leads only to death at every level.
So we pray, like our forefather’s before us “God save the king.”
Finally, We pray “God save the church.” Where is the light to be found for our families? It is not in the pure preaching of your word and in the revelation of Biblical Truth. Father, we know that families will only rise out of the ashes when you unleash the gospel and unveil the fullness of its saving power. So we pray that you would raise up godly men to preach your word and send them throughout our nation as heralds of Your eternal kingdom.
All this we pray in the strong name of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I'm a proud daddy. This is what my daughter wrote for one of her assignments.
As humans, we cannot see our destiny. That is one thing that God has not allowed us to do. If we could, we would probably live in fear of what would happen the next day.
Some people claim to know what the future holds. They lie. Nobody can really see into the future. If we try, then we are disobeying the rules that God set out for us, and attempting to do the impossible. Think of a baby. A newborn baby; only a day old. What can that baby do? Nothing. What do you think would happen if that newborn started talking and walking around? That would be against the rules of human nature; just as trying to do what only God can is against the rules of Christian nature.
I’m sure that if God wanted us to see our destiny, then we would be able to. But I also think that God doesn’t let us for our own good! If we could see into the future, just think of how miserable we would be! The only thing that I can safely say about my destiny is that I know that someday Jesus will come again, and save me from my sins.
If I ever was asked what tips I would give regarding preaching, topping the list would be sex. Sex helps a man in so many ways. In particular, it gives him clarity of mind. Sexual satisfaction provides a man with a much needed release that allows him greater focus. It may sound like some new age cult when I say this, but it puts a man back in "balance."
Over the years, my wife and I have found that, as a result, sex makes preaching and sermon preparation much easier and... (pun not intended)... stimulating. And I would assume that this applies to the productivity of any man in any line of work.
All this is to say that women need to be aware of how much men need regular sexual fulfilment.
I've written before about Keeping the Marriage Bed Hot (not to mention the sermons I've preached on the topic). I've even dedicated a whole church newsletter to the topic.
But recently my wife forwarded me a couple articles she found on her blog reading list which have to do with the wife's duty to her husband sexually. Specifically, they deal with stirring up the desire even though she is fatigued after a day of wifing and mothering. My wife said they should be kept on hand for marriage counseling purposes. But I link them here for your reading (pun intended...) pleasure:
I just had some JW's come to my door. I have to say I enjoy the Mormons much more. The JW ladies lied to me, insulted me, and were not in the least bit interested in a back and forth interaction. They accused me of being "divisive" and unChrist like because I 1) called them out on their deception and 2) took them to Scriptures in their own Bibles that proved what they said was wrong.
If anyone should have thrown insults it should have been me. I pointed out various times how they lied to me and tried to use deceptive language about Christ in order to trick me. For instance, they first said that Jesus was god (making it sound like he is equal to the Father). Then they said that Jesus was just a god. Then they said that Jesus was not god (making it sound like he had no divinity at all). Then they said that Jesus was merely the Son of God.
Well, which is it ladies? I'll tell you which it is: It is all a lie and you are intentionally trying to deceive. People who have truth need no use of cunning schemes and double talk.
The truth is powerful enough and speaks for itself.
Someone asked me the 10 books that have most influenced me the most in life. Besides the Bible, that list would include...
1. Hank Handegraph's Counterfeit Revival
2. Jonathan Edward's Religious Affections (I had a little Pentecostal bent in my early years)
3. The Biographies of George Whitfield by Dallimore & Ryle
4. RJ Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law
5. The Westminster Confession and the Larger & Shorter Catechisms (with Vos',Ridgely's Williamson's commentaries).
6. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament by Sydney Greidanus
7. Christ Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapel
8. What is Reformed Theology? by RC Sproul
9. The Trinity Hymnal
10. The PCA book of Church Order. (Yes. It was that life changing.)
Other important books include...
The biography of John Knox entitled Trumpeter of God.
Berkhof's Systematic Theology
Matthew Henry's Commentary
Charles Bridge's Commentary on the Book of Proverbs
Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now (just kidding. Wanted to see if you were paying attention)
The sermons of Alistair Begg, George Robertson, and Adrian Rogers (not a book, but very much formative)
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.