Hoping for a Dude’s Guide Trilogy: Restoration

Meteorite, Impact, Comet, Destruction, Mass Destruction

Just last week, I saw yet another “well known” pastor, have to step down. When I say “well known,” I don’t just mean that he’s “well known” (Joel Osteen and Steven Furtick are well known), but yet another Reformed guy that I read. I used to read Mark Driscoll, but stopped when he turned a bit too “trumpy.” But there are others like Tullian Tchvidjian, whom I’ve quoted in sermons, who have actually “fallen” due to sexual sins. Another pastor I really enjoyed learning from, Reformed but not Presbyterian, is Darrin Patrick of the Journey Church. He wrote Church Planter, which I didn’t find all that special, but he also wrote Dude’s Guide To Manhood. We used that book for our men’s bible study and I enjoyed the heck out of it. He has since written Dude’s Guide to Marriage.

Darrin didn’t fall like Tullian. Apparently it was a prolonged period of issues in several areas of life including “manipulating, domineering, and lack of biblical community”

When our “heroes” or at least people we look up to, fall into some sin and either have to take a leave of absence as John Piper (whom I also respect), step away from ministry forever or a season, we’re left with a bunch of questions. My first one is always, “What exactly did that joker do?” But particularly if he has written books, spoken at conferences, filled up our podcasts with sermons, we have one major question:  “Should I throw away his books?” Or put it this way, what if someone you really respected fell into sin, and actually walked away not just from the pulpit, but from the faith in general? Should you throw out all that he/she taught you, seeing as now they don’t believe it or at least believe it as much as you thought they did? Here are a few thoughts to help guide us in such situations.

1.) Pastors, mentors, leaders will always at some level (or multiple levels) let you down. I don’t promise much as a pastor, but one thing I do promise-and I did with our core group-I will let you down. And Harbor will too. And you’ll let me me down. None of us are Jesus, and we will prove it sooner or later. You are always learning from folks who may be more (or less) spiritually mature in some areas, but are always in need of spiritual growth at the same time. Sometimes it shows more clearly than others! Grace has to be shown and received on a regular basis. Sadness, and even righteous anger are appropriate, but whenever there is repentance, we must not forget to extend grace.

2.) While the character of the evangelist/leader/pastor does make a difference in both evangelism and discipleship (I Thess 2:8), it does not have the final say. The gospel message is true regardless if the person who preached it fails to believe or apply that message in his/her own life. Paul reminds the Galatians

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

The gospel is still the gospel, even if your former mentor/discipler/pastor doesn’t believe it anymore. That’s hard to take, but we must heed Paul’s warning.

3.) Remember that God inspired Solomon to write Proverbs, and there is no indication that Solomon continued in the faith of which he started. So if a pastor falls, or departs from the faith, you don’t need to throw away his books. We can still learn from those who will later fall down or walk away. You can still read Proverbs, even though Solomon’s life didn’t often espouse the wisdom he penned.

4.) More fame, more temptation. I used to want to be famous. I really did. Then I could write books. But the more I see famous pastors get fired because of their junk, the more I’m happy serving and reaching the people God has in front of me.

5.) If a fly on the wall could talk, we’d all be in a lot of trouble. We who are prone to point fingers probably don’t realize the depth of our own depravity. Whenever you see someone else sin, whether it be small or big, make sure to take that as your cue to repent from your struggle areas as well.

I’m pulling for Darrin Patrick.  I still follow him on twitter, and have recommended Dude’s Guide to numbers of folks. I’ll continue to do so. The gospel is an announcement that doesn’t depend upon those who herald it, but upon Him who died and rose again for their shortcomings.

Because of that, I have hope for DP. Here’s what appears to be the heart (of which only Jesus knows for sure) of a man who respects the process of church discipline and its restorative, as opposed to punitive, purpose.

“In short, I am a completely devastated man, utterly broken by my sin and in need of deep healing,” said Patrick in an apology to his 3,000-person congregation. “The way that the Journey elders have demonstrated their desire to see me restored to Jesus, as well as their love for me, Amie, and our family is nothing short of miraculous and beyond gracious.”

I’m hoping for a new work to come out of this: Dude’s Guide to Restoration. That’s a book I’d read for sure.

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David Price and Schizophrenic apologies

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On Saturday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays took on the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division play-offs. So far they have completely under-performed against a well rested-but certainly not rusted-baseball team in the Sox. And of course the Sox deserve all the credit in the world.

After the game, Rays pitcher David Price took to twitter to express his frustrations after the game. I happen to follow Price on twitter, but didn’t see all that he had posted.

Part of his “beef” was with “Big Papi” David Ortiz, as he admired the 2nd of his two home runs as it curved over and around the pesky Pensky pole. I found it a bit busch-league of Ortiz to simply stand and watch. It’s the kind of thing that the Red Sox pitchers would hit a batter for doing (if it weren’t the play-offs).

But the Rays don’t play baseball like that, preferring instead to take the high road and get “pay-back” by winning. The problem with this sense of delayed justice, if you don’t buy in, is that you find some way to find some semblance of satisfying your sense of justice: using words to inflict harm.

Big stars words can hurt others, even other big stars.

Whatever Price had to say, and how he framed his criticism of Ortiz’s home run ball admiration, he and Ortiz have since talked. Whether they actually “face-talked,” (you know, where two people actually converse using words and look at each other) or tweeted or texted, the two have since “cleared the air.” No word on whether Ortiz thought what he did was actually busch-league.

In addition, Price also blasted the Dirk Hayhurst, aka the Garfoose and Keith Oberman. He tweeted, “SAVE IT NERDS.”

As usual with such statements comes the concomitant twitter apology which Oberman declared a “non-apology apology.” Something like Ryan Braun’s steroid apology, which ranks up there with the top 10 of non-apology apologies.

“if I offended you I am very sorry for doing so..#thatsnotme”

I don’t claim to be a twitter apologizer, nor a twitter apologist. But let me offer a critique of this twitter non-apology apology that might be helpful should you rant and need to recant. Or simply if you should need to apologize, since you probably will some time today or tomorrow. Likewise with myself.

If you end an apology with “that wasn’t me,” then who are you exactly  apologizing for, an alter-ego? David Price isn’t schizophrenic, but his apology sure seems so. It wasn’t him. It was him after a frustrating loss.

But that really is him. And that would be me too. It really is us, the us who are calm all day until something happens when we lose our temper. That is us. It’s not the situation, it is us. It is in us all the time (James 4:1-6).

And again, I’m really not blasting Price. I like the guy. We’ve all apologized like that. That wasn’t me, that was “tired me,” “stressed me,” “frustrated me,” “medicated me,” “drunk me.” You get the point.

In Romans, Paul describes his struggle with sin as doing exactly what he doesn’t want to do (Romans 7). It’s his battle against his own sinful flesh. When he wants to do good he can’t. At least not all the time. But he probably wouldn’t have tweeted

#thatsnotmethatwasPaulsfleshtalking.

The first part of repentance is to recognize that it was you. As George from Seinfeld’s famous break up line reminds us, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

When we apologize, let it be an apology, not a schizophrenic apology where we are actually apologizing for someone else not named us.

If you believe the gospel, you can admit that yes, you are that bad. But Jesus forgave you that much, and even more so.

In the odd chance that you, David Price are reading this, I want you to know that I’m still a big fan of yours. And I’ve made a zillion apologies like this. I want to stop, so hopefully, you’ll have played a part.

Go Rays.

Walter White’s Worldly Sorrow

Breaking Bad season 5, the final season, is soon to be over. I’ve said before that I’ve never appreciated a show as much as this one, and the final season hasn’t disappointed. If you’re playing catch-up, there is no spoiler alert here, just a common theme: Walt’s worldly sorrow. 

Throughout the show, despite the continual hardening of his heart toward anything “good,” he never stops displaying emotion. He’s not a sociopath. He does have feelings. Yes at times he does things unthinkable, but there are other episodes where we see real tears running down his face. Even in this last season, despite his malfeasance and machinations, he still cries. 

While Paul wouldn’t deny there are different types of tears, he classifies two major types of “sad tears.”

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (II Cor 7:9-10)

We see Walt shed many a tear over what he has done: lives he’s either altered for worse or destroyed. But not long after those tears, we see him get right back after it. Nothing changes. There is sadness for a time, and perhaps even for a season, but this sorrow only leads to death: the ultimate separation from God. But we see glimpses of this descent into death through alienation with his family, extended family, his conscience, and his partner-in-crime Jesse. In the book of Jonah, every step he takes away from God’s commands is a step toward the place of death and separation, known as “Sheol.” Every step away from God is a step away from life. This is “worldly sorrow.”

When you see Walt’s tears, you think you see a glimmer of hope. And then you remember the name of the show is Breaking Bad. Just about everyone gets worse. People left to themselves will often show some signs of remorse, but will only display worldly sorrow. And we are reminded in this scripture passage, this type of sorrow only leads to death. 

If you are a Christian, you are not a Walt. You have definitively passed from death to life and that life starts now. While sanctification is definitive, it is also progressive (please don’t think Flo). The life you enter into is never devoid of struggle with the old Walt in us (or Adam to be theologically correct) who will inevitably seek to selfishly cry as a form of show, penance, or shallow regret. 

What’s the difference? If death is alienation from God, salvation is relationship with God first, His people next, and then what He’s doing in the world today. When Paul speaks of “salvation without regret,” he is speaking in terms of reconciliation. People have shown a sorrow that leads to repenting instead of running from God and His people. They have repented from their sins against God and Paul, and are now “back on good terms” with the latter. This type of godly sorrow moves you to deeper relationship with God and His people.

Repentance always has a destination, and that first stop is God. Then His people. Then becoming involved with how God in Christ (gospel preached through the gathered/scattered church) is undoing what the first Walt, or rather Adam, did.

Watching Walt’s worldly sorrow should lead me to a examine my sorrow to make sure it is truly leading me to repentance, which ultimately points me to the deepest experience of life.