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."
Do you remember the article I wrote for the pastor's column about a wife's submission? Well, of course it caused a stir. How dare I quote passages from the Bible that deal with Biblical womanhood!
I simply wanted to make sure that the responses were properly noted.
I got a couple letters to the editor written about me. Here is one piece that was sent in by a local pastor. You'll notice that it talks about everything except what a woman's submission actually is. It talks about a man's role to lovingly lead (of which I fully agree with). It talks about our mutual submission to one another (of which I fully agree). However, it fails to deal with what was wrong with my article and do justice to the Biblical import of Colossians 3:18. In sum, it is basically slanderous and completely irresponsible exegesis.
The other response of note was from the Ashland County Ministerial Association. The president and executive committee got a little upset and chose to exert power they didn't have. They issued some "proclamations" at the next ministerial meeting, one of which was that you shouldn't publish anything controversial (See #5 on the link). I like how they restrict the ministry of the gospel to the ministry of those things which are in the Ministerial Handbook.
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