Monday, May 21, 2018

7 Marks of a Good Apology by Brad Hambrick

Brad Hambrick is the Pastor of Counseling at the Summit Church in NC. His website is filled with biblical counseling wisdom and resources.

In the message yesterday on Psalm 51, I summarized part of his helpful post entitled, “7 Marks of a Good Apology Vs 8 Marks of Bad Apology” I'd encourage you to go read the whole thing, but here's the summary I quoted yesterday: 

Repentance is when we quit trying to make our dysfunction “work” and embrace the life-giving alternative to our sin that God offers.
7 Marks of a Good Apology
1. Address Everyone Involved.
When you fail to seek forgiveness you leave that person believing you think your actions were acceptable to God
2. Avoid If, But, and Maybe.
Our first tendency in repentance is to soften what we admit. Words like if, but, and maybe have no place in repentance. “If” calls into question whether what you did was really wrong. “But” transforms repentance into accusation. “Maybe” indicates you are not convinced your actions were wrong and invites a conversation (or debate) that is likely to go badly and, regardless, is not repentance.
3. Admit Specifically.
Generic confession is often a sign of insincerity. “We all know what happened,” is no excuse for brevity. Hearing that you can be specific without falling into blame-shifting or self-pity is an important indicator that you are a “safe” person and that restoration is wise.
4. Apologize (Acknowledge the Hurt).
Sin has consequences; both intentional and unintentional. Repentance expresses empathy and often takes responsibility for the dominoes that fall as a result of our sin. This is not groveling or penance (both of which are emotionally manipulative). It is an exercise in other-mindedness. 
5. Accept the Consequence.
Repentance is not a plea-bargain or negotiation. Repentance is not a time when we establish the “acceptable terms” for our sin. …we are not presenting a contract or deal, but that we are seeking to be restored to a person.
6. Alter Your Behavior.
The repentant conversation is not the culmination of the journey.
…repentance, …is rooted in the Gospel paradigm of dying to self to find life.
7. Ask for Forgiveness & Allow Time.
…forgiveness is commanded by God, but Scripture never calls on the confessing party to be the one who reminds others of this command or to insist that it be obeyed. As a general rule to promote humility and patience, allow at least as much time for forgiveness as it took you to come to repentance. It is hypocritical to expect someone else to process suffering (your sin against them) faster than you changed your sin.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Unequally Yoked" is Unwise

We just finished our study through the book of 2 Corinthians this past Sunday. When we looked at Paul's instruction to "not be unequally yoked with unbelievers" (2 Cor 6:14), I quoted from an article by Kathy Keller on why a Christian should never marry an unbeliever.

Here's part of what I quoted (emphasis added), but I'd encourage you go and read the whole thing:
Over the course of our ministry, the most common pastoral issue that Tim and I have confronted is probably marriages—either actual or proposed—between Christians and non-Christians. I have often thought how much simpler it would be if I could remove myself from the conversation and invite those already married to unbelievers do the talking to singles who are desperately trying to find a loophole that would allow them to marry someone who does not share their faith. 
Despite the fact that the Bible is clear on the matter (e.g. 1 Cor 7:39 and 2 Cor 6:14), 
…variants of the serpent's question to Eve—“Did God really say?” are floated, as if somehow this case might be eligible for an exemption, considering how much they love each other, how the unbeliever supports and understands the Christian's faith, how they are soul-mates despite the absence of a shared soul-faith. …
There are only three ways an unequal marriage can turn out … :
  1. In order to be more in sync with your spouse, the Christian will have to push Christ to the margins of his or her life. This may not involve actually repudiating the faith, but in matters such as devotional life, hospitality to believers (small group meetings, emergency hosting of people in need), missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers—those things will have to be minimized or avoided in order to preserve peace in the home.
  2. Alternatively, if the believer in the marriage holds on to a robust Christian life and practice, the non-believing PARTNER will have to be marginalized. If he or she can't understand the point of Bible study and prayer, or missions trips, or hospitality, then he or she can't or won't participate alongside the believing spouse in those activities. The deep unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person's most important commitments.
  3. So either the marriage experiences stress and breaks up; or it experiences stress and stays together, achieving some kind of truce that involves one spouse or the other capitulating in some areas, but which leaves both parties feeling lonely and unhappy.
Does this sound like the kind of marriage you want? One that strangles your growth in Christ or strangles your growth as a couple, or does both? Think back to that off-cited passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being “unequally yoked.” Most of us no longer live in an agrarian culture, but try to visualize what would happen if a farmer yoked together, say, an ox and a donkey. The heavy wooden yoke, designed to harness the strength of the team, would be askew, as the animals are of different heights, weights, walk at different speeds and with different gaits. The yoke, instead of harnessing the power of the team to complete the task, would rub and chafe BOTH animals, since the load would be distributed unequally. An unequal marriage is not just unwise for the Christian, it is also unfair to the non-Christian, and will end up being a trial for them both. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Circumstantial Joy? Help for a Hypocritical Parent

I've been thinking and praying lately of how to shepherd one of my kids. And I've felt the need to tell this child that their mood, their happiness, seems always to be tied to their circumstances. If things are going well, it's likely that this child will be happy (though not guaranteed!). If things are not going their way, we will all know it.

I'm hoping this revelation is an eye-opener. I want to challenge this child to fight for Joy -- the grace-born kind that can be present despite circumstantial troubles and disappointments.

I was pondering and praying about this as I walked this morning. And then I saw the finger pointing back at me.

And even more ironically, I saw how I have often allowed the mood of said child to steal my joy! It seems my joy is all-too-often tied to my circumstances. And I know I've often made my family feel it.

So, I had some repenting to do. And I have some grace to pursue. Blood-bought, Spirit-delivered grace that can bear the fruit of joy no matter the circumstances. And then, my children just might believe me when I tell them of this Joy. And they might even follow me in pursuing it, no matter how bad the day.