Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality

Have you ever considered the effects of your sexual immorality - especially if you're serving in any sort of ministry capacity in a church?

Author and teacher Randy Alcorn sat down and came up with a list of effects. When he was going through a time of temptation, or knew he would have to face it, he would take out the list:

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.

Alcorn's Blog entry

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Sense of Touch in Worship

The Sense of Touch in Worship
from Ligonier Ministries Blog

by R.C. Sproul

Years ago, I spoke at a service at a large church in California. After I finished preaching, the associate pastor invited everyone who would like to have prayer to come forward to the long kneeling bench across the front of the sanctuary, and seventy-five or eighty people responded. The minister then gave a closing prayer, but as he prayed he walked along the bench and touched each person on the head very gently. I thought, "This is remarkable. This is a recovery, in a sense, of the ancient tradition of having a physical touch that is a part of the worship service."

Jesus understood the importance of touching those to whom He ministered. Very often, when He healed people, He touched them. We see a beautiful example of this in Matthew 8, where a man with leprosy approached Jesus to ask for healing. Leprosy was extremely contagious and was incurable, so those who contracted it became social outcasts, forced to live apart from the rest of the community. But Jesus not only healed the leper, He touched the man. Jesus ministered to his physical need and also to his need for human contact.

People today need that touch. That's why an important moment in church on Sunday morning is when the pastor interacts with the worshipers as they depart. I tell my students in the seminary that there's an art to greeting people at the door after the church service. It's vitally important for the pastor to extend his hand and at least offer to shake hands with every person who comes by. Some will walk right by, but the vast majority of people want to stop and shake the pastor's hand. If that person is an elderly man or woman, and especially if it is an elderly widow, the pastor should never, ever shake with one hand. He must take that lady's hand in both of his hands. Why? It is because she needs that special touch, because she experiences loneliness. In giving her that tender, loving touch, the pastor is being Christ to the people, giving the Master's touch in His name to people who are afraid, or who are lonely, or who are hurting. People want to be touched, not in an evil sense, but in a tender and merciful sense, in a human sense.

Every Christian would love to kneel in Christ's presence, feel the touch of His hand, and hear Him say, "Your sins are forgiven" or "Be healed and go in peace." He doesn't do that now, but in His wisdom God has made provision for people to be ministered to through touch as we worship together.


From A Taste for Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity by R.C. Sproul.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayer Mirrors the Gospel

"Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks as the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.”

—Paul Miller, A Praying Life