Saturday, June 27, 2009

Alcorn on Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality

With the Governor of SC admitting to a bizarre extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina this past week, scandal is once again in the headlines. It seems the deceitfulness of sin is very powerful. Can we battle it?

Yes we can, says Randy Alcorn. He has a great post on "Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality."
About twenty-five years ago, while pastors at Good Shepherd Community Church, my friend Alan Hlavka and I both developed lists of all the specific consequences we could think of that would result from our immorality as pastors. The lists were devastating, and to us they spoke more powerfully than any sermon or article on the subject.

Periodically, especially when travelling or when in a time of temptation or weakness, we read through our list. In a personal and tangible way it brings home God's inviolate law of choice and consequence. It cuts through the fog of rationalization and fills our hearts with the healthy, motivating fear of God. We find that when we begin to think unclearly, reviewing this list yanks us back to the reality of the law of the harvest and the need both to fear God and the consequences of sin.

An edited version of our combined lists follows. I've included the actual names of my wife and daughters to emphasize the personal nature of this exercise. Where it involves my own lists of specific people's names, I've simply stated "list names" so you can insert the appropriate ones in your own life.
Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality

* Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.

* Dragging into the mud Christ's sacred reputation.

* Loss of reward and commendation from God.

* Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.

* Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder. List of these names:

* Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).

* Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.

* Loss of Nanci's respect and trust.

* Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. ("Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")

* If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.

* Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)

* Shame to my church family.

* Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders. List of names:

* Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled. List of names:

* Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?

* Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.

* Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.

* Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.

* Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.

* Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community "this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?"

* Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).

* Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.

* Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.

* Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)

* Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.

* Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.

Let the wise to wise counsel to heart. I hope it's helpful to you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Andrew is thinking about Michael

Andrew Sullivan is Thinking About Michael...
There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

missional thinking focuses on doing missions in every geographical location

Interesting post from the Crossway Blog
As the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting continues, check out this excerpt from Ed Stetzer’s chapter entitled Toward a Missional Convention in Southern Baptist Identity:
Many churches will go to great lengths and tremendous expense to involve members in “missional” activities far from home, yet fail to fully engage their own neighborhood. Perhaps one of the contributing factors to this seeming inconsistency is the ability for us to behave “missionally” for a short period of time in a “far country” where co-workers and neighbors can’t see us. In these short-term/long-distance mission events, we are able to experience the passion of missional living without really becoming incarnational to our own context.

This approach to missional work is perhaps the unfortunate outcome of a separation between missions and evangelism in popular thinking among Southern Baptists and other evangelicals. To many, missions is something done “elsewhere” by “someone.” Thus, some churches that are “far-thinking” and “far-reaching” in terms of international missions are failing to reach the people in the shadows of their steeples. North America is not viewed as a mission field. In fact, many believe it to be a “reached” field only in need of an evangelism strategy, not a true missional engagement.

What is needed is not merely an understanding of missiological thinking, but a commitment to missional thinking. While missiology concerns itself with study about missions and its methodologies, missional thinking focuses on doing missions in every geographical location. Such thinking is needed if the SBC is to remain faithful in its calling to serve churches by equipping them to impact their surrounding communities.
Southern Baptist Identity, pp. 186

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pray for Iran

CNN: Iran's Ruling System is Going to the Slaughterhouse

Malkin: They Killed Neda, But Not Her Voice [Warning: Graphic]

FoxNews: Iran-The Uprisings On & There's No Turning Back

Twitter: Iran Elections

And don't forget to pray for the persecuted Christians in Iran who have suffered under the same Muslim clerics who are now slaughtering Iranians protesting the vote.

Voice of the Martyers: Iran

Pray that the entire region, and indeed the whole world, will come to know the Prince of Peace, King Jesus.

Sermon Jam: Treasuring Christ

Have you heard of 'sermon jams'? Here's one using Piper's preaching on Treasuring Christ.