March 2010


John Piper, Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and prolific writer announced this weekend that he is taking an 8 month leave of absence from preaching and writing.  The reason he gives for his time away is to address sins of pride in his life that are affecting his marriage and ministry.  I am thankful that John Piper as a pastor leads with the gospel, admitting his need for Christ and the cross, instead of leading by knowledge or position.  I pray that God would raise up a new generation of pastors who are willing to admit their brokenness and the courage to lead well in walking in repentance.

You can read the full post here.

Everyone of us is broken.  We are sinful and incomplete.  In Christ we are justified and begin a journey of sanctification or the process of becoming more like Christ.  Part of our sanctification is recognizing the tremendous blessing of God in giving us the church.  We do not have to walk alone.  Paul calls the church in Galatia to walk in such a way that they help to address one another’s sin.

Galatians 6:1-2  “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Paul urges the church to restore one another when they are walking in sin. First you have to be walking closely with one another to see transgression and sin in each others lives. Being human we resist walking with others, being transparent, and letting them see our struggles.  Our natural tendencies are to keep things to ourselves and to fight and fix it ourselves. The problem is that the gospel tells us that we cannot fix ourselves and the church is a group of broken people who desperately need the cross of Christ. 

We cannot just stop at walking with one another and looking into each others lives.  We have to speak.  We have to confront.  Now you probably bristled when you read that.  You may have memories of people naming your sin in a way that was destructive.  That is not godly confrontation.  Instead we speak truth to one another in love and make sure we speak with gentleness. 

Before we confront anyone about sin in their life we have to evaluate our heart and make sure we are confronting in love.  Is there any selfishness or self-love motivating us to speak to them?  And before we confront we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to walk with them through their struggles when we address them?  We also need to make sure as we confront in love that it is delivered in a gentle way to which they can be receptive. 

Right now you might be thinking about every reason in the world why confrontation is difficult.  It could ruin our friendship, what if they fire back with my sins, can’t God just reveal it to them, I’m not good with words.  I would say that true friends out of a desire to see someone more like Christ will be willing to point out those things which are sin.  In Romans Paul tells us sin leads to death.  Applying that idea to this situation if we are more willing to leave our friends in their sin than risk hurt feelings or awkward conversation, then it is the same as wishing death upon them.  Just as it would not be loving to offer them medical help for a disease or sickness, it is not loving to leave them to their own efforts to deal with sin.  What if they fire back with my sins?  Well it will be hard if it’s in a retaliatory spirit.  But then again our hope is that people will also be willing to address us in our sins.  If we are not willing to take a risk and address things in their life, then they will probably not be willing to address things with us.  Can’t God just reveal it to them?  Yes, and he is probably wanting to use the body of Christ to do it.  That’s you.  What if you are not good with words?  Well Christ has given us Scripture as a source of truth and the Spirit to empower us.  Trust God’s provision for the body of Christ in giving us each other. 

Another admonition from these verses is to keep watch over yourself. Paul does not mean to imply that there are some that can watch themselves. His point is that if we are addressing others sins our flesh will have a desire towards being prideful. If we are walking with others through their struggles and we don’t have that struggle we could potentially think of ourselves more highly than you ought. 

Lastly I think we can help this process by inviting people into our lives and giving them permission to call out sin when they see it.  Don’t give free reign to everyone.  I think guys need a couple of guys and girls need a couple of girls that can be honest with them.  Giving permission establishes a level of honesty in your friendship and it will provide them freedom to point out those things you cannot see.  This week give people permission to speak truth to you and if you don’t have people you can trust, pray that God would provide them.

In Ephesians 4:29 Paul writes “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We can speak to those around us in such a way that is destructive to them and to the kingdom of God.  So when is our talk corrupting? Corrupting talk would be anything that is not grace filled or does not serve to build the body of Christ.

At the heart of corrupting talk is an agenda to build a kingdom other than that Christ. It may be the kingdom of self. It may be the kingdom of your spouse or kids. Most of the time I speak with corrupting talk out of self-love or a desperate desire for the preservation of self.

Corrupting talk can come in many forms.  We may take the Lord’s name in vain.  We may use curse words.  Corrupting talk can be using wit or sarcasm to injure others or assert self.  It could be harsh communication that is meant to belittle, criticize, or embarrass. If we use the Ephesians 4 definition corrupting talk becomes more broad than saying bad words when we stub our toe. Our words are corrupt if they are advancing any kingdom other than Christ’s.

Take some time today to think about what kingdom your words are building.  Think about the last time corrupting talk spewed from your mouth and you wished you could take it back.  What do those words reveal about what you are trying to build?

Yes this is a post for us singles. Well its really a link to a post by Kevin DeYoung. There is a short interview of him on the blog at a website called Marry Well. Before the link a couple of items – I have read his book called Just Do Something and would highly recommend it to anyone with questions about how to discern God’s will. The second thing is that the website Marry Well is a new christian relationship service. I don’t really know anything about it good or bad. The link here is more about the will of God than online dating.  So if you have a question about the will of God in who you are supposed to marry go here.

Lies have a disastrous and deadly effect on the body of Christ.  Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  And the Bible does not instruct us to say nothing at all, instead we speak the truth to one another to build the body.

Remember God is truth and He speaks truth.  We can trust God because he does not lie.  That trust brings about freedom within us to love and enjoy God.  If we are in Christ then we should strive to speak truth to one another.  We are His ambassadors. 

There are many reasons humans lie.  It may be to win the approval of other people.  It may be to create a better version of us than we feel we are.  We may lie to not hurt people’s feelings.  In the end we lie because we don’t like the truth.

Some of us deal with outright lying.  Others tell half-truths.  We control the amount of information.  We control how much people know about us.  Do we need to tell everyone everything?  No, we don’t.  But think about this, when you misrepresent who you are by building yourself up with lies then you are preaching the anti-gospel.  When you portray yourself as perfect or without flaws then you preach a sermon with your life that says you do not need Jesus. 

How does the truth build the body?  Well first of all we can’t preach the gospel to one another if we are lying to one another.  The body is built when it mutually shares in the goodness of the gospel.  In the body we are members of one another.  Everything we do affects other parts of the body.

Let’s get honest.  Is it easy to tell the truth?  Is it easy to admit when we have failed?  Is it easy to admit that we are broken and fallen?  No.  But we are all in the same place.  All have sinned and fallen short.  The gospel neutralizes any attempt at boasting, it levels the playing field.  We all are sinners in need of a savior.  Therefore we have no reason to lie.  Speak the truth this week.  Speak about how while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you.

In the second chapter of Ruth we get to know the character of Ruth and Boaz.  Ruth and Naomi are now in Bethlehem and need food to eat.  So Ruth sets out to collect grain that has been left behind as the reapers are gathering the harvest.  Scripture tells us that Ruth just happens upon the field that belongs to Boaz revealing God’s sovereign hand in the story.  Boaz asks his men about the woman gathering.  Ruth shows that she has initiative and is not afraid to work hard.  She does not sit at home hoping God will drop food in her lap. 

Boaz speaks to Ruth and tells her that she should only gather in his field.  He has grace upon her.  He tells her the grace is from God.  Ruth is shocked because she has nothing to offer and is a foreigner.  Boaz does not take advantage of her destitute state.  Instead he sees it as an opportunity to be a man of God.  God had blessed him greatly, so he decided to use those blessings for God’s glory.

Ruth chapter 2 shows us two people who have placed their faith in God and are living according to his commands.  Their lives intersect, they both exhibit biblical character, and Boaz is able to meet the needs of Ruth out of his abundance.  God is always moving.  How does God want to display his grace through you this week?