Lessons from Tiger Woods

C.J. Mahaney has some thoughts about what we can all learn from Tiger Woods and his troubles this last week.  Excellent stuff. Go read it all.

Hunted by Sin

But Tiger is being hunted by something more menacing than journalists. Tiger’s real enemy is his sin, and that’s an enemy much more difficult to discern and one that can’t be managed in our own strength. It’s an enemy that never sleeps.

Let me explain.

…..

And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals?

And this should leave us more amazed by grace because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

HT to Vitamin Z.

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the cost of sexual immorality

Governor Mark Sanford’s sin of sexual immorality that has been recently publicly unmasked has had devastating consequences for his family, his staff of employees, his state, and for people who admired him from a distance as a straight shooting morally upright conservative politician.

It is yet another example of the truth of something my preacher repeated many times from that Harold McWhorter song: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay and Sin will make you pay a price far higher than you ever intended to pay.”

Twenty-five years ago, Randy Alcorn and a pastor friend listed the consequences in their own lives if they gave in to lust. He has a post with the list up.

I vividly remember meeting with a man who had been a leader in a Christian organization until he committed immorality. I asked him, “What could have been done to prevent this?” He paused only for a moment, then said with haunting pain and precision, “If only I had really known, really thought through and weighed what it would cost me and my family and my Lord, I honestly believe I would never have done it.”

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.

Go read the list. Maybe make it a starting point for creating your own version of it. Maybe sit down with your spouse and work on the list together so there is no doubt about the havoc you would be wreaking.

Randy is right that there is something clarifying about facing the actual real life consequences of an action instead of allowing yourself to proceed in the fog of rationalization. The time to take positive action to prevent a problem is right now before there is even a cloud on the horizon suggesting a storm is coming. Use the clear weather to get your boat ready for the storms that will inevitably hit.

HT to Challies.

truth in love

Paul reminded the Ephesian church that only with truth would there be mature Christian unity and only if truth was spoken in love.

Truth cannot be ducked or minimized in any way, but it must be softened with compassion. It is not compassionate to downplay or minimize or disregard truth.

Dr. Mohler wrote about this the other day in the context of homosexuality.

first the truth:

The homosexual rights movement understands that the evangelical church is one of the last resistance movements committed to a biblical morality. Because of this, the movement has adopted a strategy of isolating Christian opposition, and forcing change by political action and cultural pressure. Can we count on evangelicals to remain steadfastly biblical on this issue?

Not hardly. Scientific surveys and informal observation reveal that we have experienced a significant loss of conviction among youth and young adults. No moral revolution can succeed without shaping and changing the minds of young people and children. Inevitably, the schools have become crucial battlegrounds for the culture war. The Christian worldview has been undermined by pervasive curricula that teach moral relativism, reduce moral commandments to personal values, and promote homosexuality as a legitimate and attractive lifestyle option.

Our churches must teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships. Young people must be told the truth about homosexuality–and taught to esteem marriage as God’s intention for human sexual relatedness.

The times demand Christian courage. These days, courage means that preachers and Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality. We must talk about what the Bible teaches about gender–what it means to be a man or a woman. We must talk about God’s gift of sex and the covenant of marriage. And we must talk honestly about what homosexuality is, and why God has condemned this sin as an abomination in His sight.

but with compassion:

And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well–compassion. The tragic fact is that every congregation is almost certain to include persons struggling with homosexual desire or even involved in homosexual acts. Outside the walls of the church, homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say, after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.

Liberal churches have redefined compassion to mean that the church changes its message to meet modern demands. They argue that to tell a homosexual he is a sinner is uncompassionate and intolerant. This is like arguing that a physician is intolerant because he tells a patient she has cancer. But, in the culture of political correctness, this argument holds a powerful attraction.

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truth, and refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love–and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

Go read the rest. Great stuff.

tyranny?

why use such a strong word when judges make up law and choose to favor one group over another rather than allow democratic processes to work?

Keith Pavlischek at First Things quotes Nathan Diament who calls this struggle over competing legal rights between gay rights and people of faith “the mega-cultural issue of the decade.”

Pavlischek points to this Washington Post article recognizing the tension as well as the fact that people of faith are losing.

Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.
….
— A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney’s costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.

— A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.

— Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.

— A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional marriage.

Tyranny doesn’t seem like too strong a word for this sort of thing. Now what is the proper christian response? To fight like crazy? to become another aggrieved interest group marching on Washington and/or various state capitols?

Or is it to recognize that Jesus sent us out as sheep amongst wolves and to therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? Is it perhaps to love our neighbors as ourselves? What does such love look like in the face of the tyranny described above? how do we continue to be marked by love instead of judgment while remaining true to God’s word regarding sin?

these are very difficult questions to answer. I am afraid that very soon we will all have to find answers to them.

Spectacular Sins

I am just finishing the book Spectacular Sins by John Piper.

As you might expect from Piper, his purpose is to demonstrate from scripture the sovereignty of God in every situation including several specific spectacularly sinful occasions.

He deals with the fall of Satan, Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, The pride of Babel, the sale of Joseph into slavery by his brothers, Israel demanding to be ruled by a king like other nations, and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. He shows in each circumstance how God permitted “wisely” the sin to occur and that the sin was a preexisting part of God’s plan to achieve maximum glory for His name.

The book is very easy to read. The book is very short. I highly recommend it as a handy dandy reference book for anyone who struggles with the concept of God allowing evil to occur in His creation.

I bring it up because of this bit that I read last night on pages 84-85:

The most magnificent thing about the Lion of the tribe of Judah in his fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy is that he lays claim on the obedience of all the peoples of the world not by exploiting our guilt and crushing us into submission, but by bearing our guilt and freeing us to love him and obey him with joy forever. The Lion of Judah is the Lamb who was slain. He wins our obedience by forgiving our sins and making his own obedience–his own perfection as the righteous one–the basis of our acceptance with God. And in this position of immeasurable safety and joy–all of it owing to his suffering and righteousness and death and resurrection–he wins our free and happy obedience.

The story of Joseph is the story of a righteous one who is sinned against and suffers so that the tribe of Judah would be preserved and a Lion would come forth and prove to be a Lamb-like Lion and by his suffering and death purchase and empower glad obedience from all the nations–even from those who put him to death.

Does he have yours?

emphasis added

Porn-Again Christian

Mark Driscoll has uploaded chapter two to his book Porn-Again Christian here.

Mark also posted a video introduction to the book. In his words the book is “brutal” taking a “brick to the back of your head” and deal with this sin honestly. “if you don’t like it, you get what you pay for and this one’s free.”

speaking of sin

what should we do with sin?