Friday, July 31, 2009

Hmmmm …

So I was in FedEx Kinko’s this morning picking something up, and had to wait for a rather relaxed employee to perform my request. I was looking through the books there and flipping through some of the interesting looking ones.

I came across an audio book entitled How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less.

The running time was 45 minutes.

I laughed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beer and Race

Apparently, serious, longstanding racial issues can be solved by beer.

Apparently, speaking without knowing the facts can also be solved by beer.

To be frank, I find this unsatisfactory.

I don’t know what happened in the now famous arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates. I am inclined to think that he was unruly, and said things he should not have said. I am inclined to think that perhaps the officer had a different route he could have taken toward resolution.

I am pretty young and I don’t have a PhD and a Harvard professorship, but I know better than to smart off to police officers. I know, I know … I am not black. I have never been pulled over for DWB. But copping an attitude does not seem to be a good way to change race relations. It does not seem to be a good way to convince the cops that you are not a bad guy.

Here’s what else I know: The president should have stopped with “I don’t know all the facts.” His comments that reflected poorly on law enforcement officers should not be washed away with a beer.

I am not sure what Professor Gates should do. I am not sure what Officer Crowley should do.

I am sure that the president should do more than “calibrate” his words differently (whatever that means). He should actually apologize for what he said.

Wouldn’t that be a change?

Thinking About the Gospel

False gospel: Become what you are not in order to be.

True gospel: Become what you are because you already are.

(Thought generated by Phillips Long in his lectures on OT history.)

Showing the Love of Jesus

Warning: Stick-in-the-mud alert.

Ed Stetzer has an interview with Geoff Surratt of Seacoast Church. Geoff talks about ministry and says,

At one of our Seacoast locations we go out into the very tough neighborhood once a month to be a blessing to people who have very little in life. We take them clothes, food, work in their yards, pick up their trash, anything that will show the love of Jesus in a tangible way. … we're all just trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

This should raise for us several questions about the nature of gospel ministry.

First, where does the Bible equate these kinds of things with showing the love of Jesus in a tangible way? It doesn’t. The tangible love of Jesus was shown by a  bleeding and broken body, not a bag of yard waste at the end of the driveway.

Second, how is this distinctively the love of Jesus? This kinds of acts go on everyday by people who have no intention of showing the love of Jesus.

Third, where did we get the idea that the “hands and feet of Jesus” came into this world to do things like pick up trash and do yard work? When Jesus came into the world, it wasn’t “once a month to do things in a needy community.” It was for three years to live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died.

Here’s my view: All of these are good things to do. They are things that Christians should do. They are things that might open up the door to a proclamation of the gospel to other people.

But they are not gospel ministry showing the love of Jesus. This is common grace activity that recognizes the value of the image of God in man.

I think we are too readily searching for feel-goodism that leads us to think that if we go once a month into a needy neighborhood to do kind things for people we have somehow shown the love of Jesus. We have confused the ministry of the proclamation of the gospel with things that have nothing to do with the gospel. And people think they are showing the love of Jesus even though no one was talked to about our Creator, our sin, the coming judgment, and the rescue in Christ alone.

If going there once a month is good, then just move there, start a church there, and show the love of Jesus by preaching the gospel of salvation from sin. Help them do yard work, give them clothes, and food. Sit on their porches and talk to them. Cry with them when they lose their job (or can’t find one). Weep when they have family trouble. But don’t mistake that for the gospel. And don’t lead people to believe that they have done gospel ministry by leaving their middle class neighborhood for a few hours one Saturday a month to help people in a poor community.

The gospel deserves more and so does the community.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the Diner

I am in the diner this morning thinking about men, women, marriage, knives, murder, and bars. Strange combination, eh?

On Monday night, a few blocks from my house and the church, a woman was stabbed to death, left in an office in a bar which was then set on fire. I heard the sirens that night and wondered what it was about, but was too tired to go find it. (On Tuesday, the Michigan State Police helicopter landed almost in my back yard during the investigation. My son loved it until it was time to take off and the noise was frightening to him.)

Reports are that the woman who was stabbed was in an abusive relationship with the man and he had threatened to kill her if she left.

It reminds me of just how bad people are at relationships. Men are not being taught to be men. Women are not being taught to be women. The basis of male/female relationships is so fundamentally misguided in our world that it can lead to things like this. Real men do not do this to women. Tough men are tough with themselves and tender with women.

What’s the cause? I think we lay this problem at the feet of dads who have not taught their sons the gospel, and have not lived the gospel with their own wives. Sons see it, and see the world around them, and learn how to be men. And it’s not pretty.

The reality is that most relationships will never rise (or sink) to this level. It is doubtful that your wife will be found in a burning bar, having been stabbed by you.

But our potential for abusive relationships is still there.

We are fundamentally self-centered people. Our aim in life is to be satisfied, and we will use people to achieve that. Too often our marriages are built on this principle—that she (or he) exists to satisfy me. And so we use and abuse, subtly to be sure, but use and abuse nonetheless.

We don’t stab with knives. We do it with words. And then with silence. We don’t take the life out of them all at once. We take it little by little, day by day, destroying their spirit through unkind words and actions, through selfish desires.

We aren’t found in Kentucky after a nationwide manhunt like this man was. We aren’t facing prison time (for the third, and hopefully last time).

We go on about our lives, slowly sucking the life of those that God has entrusted to us to love and to care for in his stead.

The only answer to this tragedy is the gospel—that Jesus, in an act of real love, gave his life for the sake of petty, abusive, selfish God-haters, to redeem them from the penalty and power of sin over their lives. He does not abuse those who are his. He gives us what we do not deserve, and loves us in the midst of our many failures.

So men, love carefully and sacrificially—just like Jesus did. Honor your wives as fellow heirs of the grace of life.

Watch for the warning signs of subtle abuse—the kind that will not get the police to show up at your house on suspicion of domestic abuse, but will have effects that are just as damaging.

Love her like Christ loved the church. Give yourself for her to make her holy by the washing of water with the Word. Prepare to present her to Jesus with her being more holy and more godly because you were in her life (Ephesians 4:25-27).

And dads, remember that little eyes are watching. For the sake of the gospel, and generation of women yet to be married, teach them—by what you say and by what you do—teach them the gospel for relationships.

Hansen on Why Fundamentalists Like Piper

There has been a lot of people question why young people like men like Piper. I think Collin Hansen hits the nail on the head:

Since I wrote Young, Restless, Reformed, several students have contacted me to say they have been expelled from fundamentalist schools for embracing Calvinism. I have met many other students training for academic and pastoral work who started at fundamentalist schools but migrated toward seminaries where prominent Calvinists teach. Their stories often bear striking resemblance to one another. While appreciating the godly legacy of their parents, these students have read Piper and experienced refreshing delight evoked by a vision of God’s glory as revealed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

That’s nothing that a fundamentalist couldn’t do. They simply too often don’t do it.

Just like most evangelicals don’t do it.

Fundamentalism vs. Calvinism?

Collin Hansen speaks of the recent message that created some furor among some. (if you don’t know, don’t worry about it and thank God for his mercy on you.) He says,

While intending to rally like-minded pastors against this threat, the message actually drew out the growing network of young adults who have abandoned fundamentalism for the Calvinist ranks.

But I have to wonder, when did one have to leave fundamentalism for Calvinism? The two have always been compatible. The fact that some fundamentalists were anti-Calvinists, or non-Calvinists, does not mean that one could not be both fundamentalist and Calvinist (or Calvinistic, if you prefer). Though there is a great complexity to this topic especially concerning the role of Calvinism and the gospel in culture and community, historically, there have been a great number of fundamentalists who were also Calvinists. I would think Hansen would know this. But perhaps not.

Hansen goes on to speak of Kevin Bauder’s response and says,

But Bauder’s defense also points toward the possibility that the growing Calvinist influence on evangelicals could help heal their decades-long dispute with fundamentalists.

Again, I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding (no pun intended). The issue between evangelicals and fundamentalists was not about Calvinism. After all, Billy Graham seems hardly a Calvinist, and Hansen rightly (though it sounds somewhat cynically) notes Graham’s role in the fundamentalist/evangelical divide. Evangelicals becoming Calvinist won’t solve the problem that caused evangelicals to separate from fundamentalists.

No, the issue was about obedience in the defense of the gospel. It was about how we apply the biblical commands of separation. Fundamentalists, both Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic, believe that Graham was clearly disobedient to clear commands of Scripture about alliances with unbelieving apostates. For that reason, fundamentalists separated from Graham. And remember that many fundamentalists were not quick to separate from Graham. The separation came after many years and many appeals to Graham to turn from his practices that lent credibility to apostasy.

There is no doubt that many fundamentalists are non-Calvinist. But not because they have to be.

There is no doubt that many fundamentalists have made inaccurate and unfair diatribes against men like Piper and Mahaney, and “several other leading Calvinists” (to quote Hansen). But not because they had to by virtue of their Calvinism. And let’s remember that not all critique is unfair or inaccurate.

If there is “healing” because fundamentalists and evangelicals, it is because many evangelicals seem to be recognizing their sins of the past fifty years, and because many fundamentalists are recognizing their sins of the past fifty years.

It is not because of Calvinism, per se.

Of course, there is no doubt that some fundamentalists are weakening on some issues as well. I think there is a fine line here, and I do not profess to know where it is exactly. But I fear that while there is some healthy interaction, there is also some dangerous capitulation.

So let us be cautious in both respects. Let us not unfairly or unwisely separate or attack evangelicals. Let us neither fail to take seriously the biblical commands about the defense of the gospel against those who would, either by word or action, compromise it.

There’s room to be a fundamentalist and a Calvinist.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sowell on Writing

If you are interested in writing, or if you just like to read someone else who is interested in writing, Thomas Sowell as an excellent (and at times very funny) article. It talks about writing, editing, publishing (and publishers), and reviewing.

Biggest takeaway from this article? Write only when you have something to say and write only to be understood.

Greatest line in this article? “…there is a big difference between Londonderry air and London derriere.”

Reminder for editors (and professors)? “Few of the rules contained in [the Chicago Manual of Style] are inviolable.”

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Idolatry

“Whenever men refuse God His rightful place in their lives, they inevitably replace Him with inferior gods of their own making” (D. Edmond Hiebert, 2 Peter and Jude, p. 272).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rick Thomas on Counselor Training

Rick Thomas has some good thoughts on counselor training that are worth reading.

This is right on target:

I would recommend a theological degree over a counseling degree because counseling is the application of theology (Practical Theology) and if a person is not trained in theology, they will have a difficult time applying (counseling) what they do not know.

A major weakness with many biblical counselors is their limited understanding of the Bible. If God’s Word gives us all we need for life and godliness (See 2 Peter 1:3) then you cannot skip this point and move into methodology (counselor training).

If I had to choose between a theology degree and a counseling degree, I would pursue the theology degree every time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Afternoon Outing with an F-18

Last Friday, the family went to the Detroit Riverwalk. I imagine it is the nicest place in Detroit (and perhaps the only one you can’t buy for a thousand bucks or so). It is a recently built riverfront park that eventually will run for several miles from south of the Joe Louis Arena north past Chene Park. It has some great water fountains that my son like to play in.

We took a pizza to eat and ran into some unexpected but excellent entertainment. An F-18 fighter jet was practicing approaches for landing. He would come from the northeast, dive down, fly low over the city, level out over the river, lower his landing gear and tail hook and fly north over Belle Isle. After a minute or two he would do the same thing again.

At times he would fly directly over our table, wings vertical to the ground in a tight turn. Other times he would fly further south over the city and appear from behind the Renaissance Center. The sound was deafening. The spectacle was amazing. The people on their lunch break stared helplessly.

I don’t care how old you are. You can’t not look at something like that.

I could watch planes all day long.

I got my pilot’s license twenty years ago, in the spring of 1989. I am a sucker for planes of all type and sizes. It even gets my attention when I am playing golf and the planes fly overhead on final approach for landing at Detroit Metro.

There is nothing so liberating and exhilarating as flying a plane. When it’s in your blood, you love it. I don’t think anyone flies a plane because they have nothing else to do. It’s not a fallback job.

Sometimes, you read an interview where the question is asked, “If you weren’t a pastor, what would you be?”

My answer is simple and easy: A pilot.

It’s in my blood.

Friday, July 10, 2009

False Teachers and Knowledge

Jude, in his expose of false teachers, speaks of those who “revile things which they do not understand” (Jude 10).

Schreiner comments:

The intruders believed they understood heavenly things, but they were far out of their depth. The one thing they did understand, however, was the power of physical appetites. Their physical desires urged them on daily, and like irrational animals they were driven by sexual instinct rather than reason. Jude’s language is highly ironic here, for presumably the intruders claimed a knowledge of heavenly matters, but their comprehension of truth did not exceed that of animals (NAC, p. 461).

I have been asked before, “Do false teachers know what they are doing?'” The answer, in most cases, seems to be, “No.” They genuinely think they are right. But their rejection of divine authority (cf. Jude 8) means that they have separated themselves from the only source of true knowledge. Their only option is to live by instinct, like animals, and by that they are destroyed.

As teachers, it should be a fearful and humbling task to stand and declare what God has said. It is not a task to be taken lightly.

Being sincere is no substitute for being right. Living by your instincts is no match for living by revelation. Thinking you are right will not make you right.

James reminds us, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

What To Do Now?

The furor over fundamentalism’s prophets is perhaps dying down, much to the dismay of some, who want to split the FBFI, and none too soon for others who want to pretend “it” never happened (or at least was never pointed out). The calls for the removal of a certain speaker from a meeting went wisely unheeded. The messages reported on were of the expected mixed bag as was the panel discussion. Some took the opportunity to preach on the gospel as an opportunity to preach on those who arrive at a different conclusion about some matters. That was unfortunate.

But here we are. The world hasn’t blown up. The gospel was preached this past Sunday in all kinds of churches, even by those dreaded Calvinists, as people were called to faith and repentance in Christ alone.

So, what do we do now?

How about we get on with the business of making disciples in our local churches? After all, that’s the mission, the mandate from the Chief Shepherd.

The people in our communities don’t care what happened in North Carolina or Schaumburg. Most of us (me included) wouldn’t even know if it wasn’t brought up. IMO, way too much was made over a relatively benign issue. The original comments were uninformed, perhaps hyperbolic, expected, but nonetheless distressing. It wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last time.

Next time, some people will get riled up about it again, and say some true things along with some unnecessary things, and probably call attention to something that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. And people in our congregations still won’t care.

So if you have influence over younger men (or older men), show them a different side, a better way. Show them that fundamentalists do not have to be cranky and territorial. Show them that it’s okay if someone loves God, preaches the gospel, and exegetes certain passages about the mechanics of salvation differently than you do. Show them that silly arguments have no place in discussions about serious matters.

Remind them that even men who did great things for God had sin in their lives in various ways, and that building big churches, schools, or ministries does not give them a free pass on their speech or their leadership tactics or their morality. And do it with grace and love.

Remind people that in order to learn from the past, we have to bring it up and point it out sometimes. And remind them that it doesn’t mean we hate or despise past leaders. And that it does not mean we have to spit on their graves. 

If you are a seminary president, a college president, or professor (what are you doing reading me anyway), then influence young men toward gracious, principled, bold stands for the faith and not for personalities. Speak the truth, even about dead people, and do it with grace. Be unafraid of those with a invitation to speak or an internet connection and way too much time on their hands. Be cautious of associations (groups of people, not friends) and the political machinery that inevitably follows.

And as much as possible, ignore the nonsense. There are some things we shouldn’t dignify with a response.

Which makes me wonder why I responded.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In the News

The Ann Arbor News is reporting that almost 300 tons of road salt was stolen from a Washtenaw County storage facility sometime between July 1 and Monday.

Three hundred tons. Stolen.


This is not like someone lifted a salt shaker from Ram’s Horn during the breakfast rush. (Does Ram’s Horn even have a breakfast rush?)

Three hundred tons of road salt. It was probably at least a hundred dump truck loads. Gone. Vanished. And no one noticed it apparently.

Those sneaky dump trucks must have been disguised well.

In a related story on the English language, a reporter on Detroit’s WJR said this morning, “Workers discovered the missing salt on Monday.”

Um … What? Isn’t the problem that they haven’t discovered the missing salt?

Of course when it is found, someone will say, “So-and-so discovered the missing salt.” But of course, when it is discovered, it won’t be missing.

Language is weird, isn’t it? And the thing is, we almost always understand it.

Except when we don’t.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I Am Giving It Up

I saw this, but have no idea where it came from.

The reasons why I'm giving up sports: football in the fall, baseball in the summer, basketball in the winter. I've had it all. I quit attending sports once and for all, and here are my 11 excuses:

  1. Every time I went, they asked for money.
  2. The people I sat next to didn't seem friendly.
  3. The seats were too hard and not comfortable at all.
  4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.
  5. The referees made decisions that I couldn't agree with.
  6. The game went into overtime and I was late getting home.
  7. The band played numbers I'd never heard before and it wasn't my style of music.
  8. It seems the games are always scheduled when I want to do other things.
  9. I suspect that I was sitting next to some hypocrites. They came to see their friends and they talked during the whole game.
  10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.
  11. I hate to wait in the traffic jam in the parking lot after the game.

On Publishing

Dr. Claude Mariottini has a recent blog post about publishing.

It seems that a fellow, one Philip Davis, from the Center for Research in Applied Phrenology submitted a paper to Bentham publishing, who publishes open access journals, where authors pay a fee to have an article published.

Well, Philip Davis passed the peer review, received a request for a payment of $800 with a promise to publish the article. You can read his story here.

Who wrote the paper? A computer program. Yes, that’s right. Davis says:

Using SCIgen, a software that generates grammatically correct, “context-free” (i.e. nonsensical) papers in computer science, I quickly created an article, complete with figures, tables, and references. It looks pretty professional until you read it.

What did the paper say? In part, it said:

In conclusion, in our research we explored TriflingThamyn, a method for virtual methodologies. To accomplish this ambition for unstable models, we constructed new metamorphic algorithms. Continuing with this rationale, our algorithm has set a precedent for suffix trees, and we expect that systems engineers will analyze TriflingThamyn for years to come. We expect to see many futurists move to studying TriflingThamyn in the very near future.

So what’s the point?

Just because something is published doesn’t mean it is worth your time. I marvel at the amount being published today. It is more than ever before. And now, with the advent of self-publishing, you don’t even have to impress an editor.

There is nothing inherently wrong with self-publishing, and there may be good reasons to do it.

But the reason may be because you are the only impressed with your writing.

There’s only so much time in this world, so be careful what you read.

And speaking of care, close this browser and do something useful with your life.

Monday, July 06, 2009

New Pastor at the FLABC

I had the privilege recently of participating in an installation service for my friend Kevin Casillas as the interim pastor of the First Latin American Baptist Church in southwest Detroit, a couple of miles from here.

It was a joy to see a number of churches represented as Kevin was  installed as the pastor there.

Ministry in urban areas is always difficult. While I have never been the pastor in any other kind of urban context, I would imagine that this southwest Detroit/upper downriver area is perhaps as difficult as any. It is racially mixed, dangerous, and drug and gang-infested. There are a lot of empty houses. There is a lot of unemployment and poverty. The upside that is not many people can use the excuse that they are working on Sundays.

Pray for Kevin and this little group of believers. It is a bilingual church so Kevin preaches in both languages (in essence, translating for himself). There are a number of issues that need to be addressed, so pray for wisdom and a teachable spirit about some important biblical issues.

And pray for the gospel in our cities. Poor, racially diverse, urban areas need Jesus too.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Cross and Suffering

In our time of deepest affliction, none of us find comfort by endlessly focusing on that suffering. There’s an element of mystery in all our suffering, and in this life we can’t fully understand it, yet we face a subtle temptation to relive and review our suffering. That’s an exercise that will never bring rest and release. What will bring rest and release is spending more time meditating on the cross and the God of the cross (C. J. Mahaney, Living the Cross-Centered Life, p. 98).

I disagree. Mahaney is wrong.

There is nothing subtle about the temptation to relive and review our suffering. It is an in-your-face temptation that screams loudly because it addresses you at your greatest point—the self-pity that drives you to focus on how your are unjustly suffering.

Other than that, Mahaney is dead on.

You will never relieve suffering by reliving suffering.

Reliving it brings some strange perverted sense of comfort. Why? I have no idea, other than the face that it allows us to focus on the most important thing in our lives—us. But I know that in the midst of suffering (spiritual, emotional, or physical), there is comfort in dwelling on it, reliving it, and talking about it.

But it doesn’t really help.

Focusing on the cross puts our suffering in perspective. Whatever you are suffering is nothing compared to what Jesus suffered on the cross. And whatever you are suffering will not separate you from the love of God. Furthermore, whatever you are suffering is part of God’s plan to mature you and prepare you for his service, both now and in eternity.

So in the midst of suffering, think about the cross. Remind yourself that God loves you and sent his Son for you, and having sent his Son, he will not now abandon you, neither to a life of ease or a life of suffering.

He who did not spare His own Son,
but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Romans 8:32

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Okay, One More on Sanford

But for a different reason.

An article in today’s The State (Columbia, SC’s newspaper) is entitled “Sanford’s mental state questioned.”

Some are suggesting a “deeper personality disorder,” a “chemical imbalance, narcissism, and impulsive behavior.” Some are saying he lost contact with reality and should get a psychiatric evaluation.

Yes to narcissism, impulsive behavior, and loss of contact with reality. He is definitely narcissistic and impulsive. He seems to, at least for a time, have lost contact with reality.

But that’s not a mental disorder. That’s life. A psychiatric evaluation won’t help that. It is a spiritual issue. Of course, secular psychologists have no category for that because they lack understanding of humanity. They are the ones out of contact with reality.

Reality is that humanity is helplessly narcissistic. Life is all about self. We are instinctively impulsive, because we do what it takes to satisfy our narcissism. We want it and so we go try to get it. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. 

The search for a mental disorder, even the very suggestion of it, is evidence of the “blame something else” mentality that infects the world. It can’t be because Sanford is a sinner (like the rest of us). There has to be something wrong with him.

The only true hope for mankind is reality—the reality that we are sinners in need of a Savior. When we come into believing contact with that reality (the only reality there is), the narcissism will fade, the impulses will start to come under control.

A culture of irresponsibility is being fostered by those who suggest mental disorders are why men seek out immoral relationships and power. It’s actually a culture of narcissism that is divorced from the reality of personal sinfulness.

We need a culture of grace. This culture says (to borrow from Tim Keller) I am far worse off than I ever dared to imagine. But through Jesus I am far more loved and accepted than I ever dared to hope.

Until we realize we are fallen creatures who can’t get up, we will continue to look for other things to blame. Only when I reach the depths of hopeless can I see the cross as the real solution.

It may not save my position in life (whether governor, pastor, or anything else). It may not save my marriage. But it will save my soul and give me eternal hope and a new paradigm for living in a broken down world.

Memo to Governor Sanford


We don’t need to know all this stuff. Just because people ask questions doesn’t mean you need to answer.

But Sanford demonstrates the lengths to which hurting, deceived, and confused people go. They will talk to anyone who will listen. And rarely do they listen to the people they should, and rarely talk only to the people they should.

No one needs an explanation of his “tragic love story.” No one needs to know he found his “soul mate” who is not his wife. The public doesn’t need to know he crossed boundaries with other women.

He is trying to defend the indefensible. He is the classic case of, “I did wrong, but …” Everything that comes after “but” cancels out everything that comes before. He is rationalizing why it was wrong, but it was really okay.

Governor, the news media is not interested in helping you restore your marriage, your spiritual life, or regain integrity. They are interested in one thing, and it’s not even the integrity of state government. They are interested in selling newspapers. They know if they can keep publishing stories about you, people will come back and read them.

You don’t need a news reporter.

You need a biblically grounded pastor who will lovingly get in your face and call you on the carpet. Who will use the word to confront you in your deception, self-absorption, lack of transparency, and immoral thinking. He needs to tell you your biggest problem wasn’t emails, or trips to NYC, or Argentina. Your biggest problem is far deeper. It is a love in your life that allowed you to think those things were okay.

You need to spend much time in the Word, in self-examination in light of Scripture. It will take honesty (something you have struggled with, it appears). It will take courage. But this is what repentant people do.

You also need accountability. This means you need a man who will travel with you everywhere you go and stay in the same room with you unless you are with your wife or your sons. You will have no phone conversations, emails, or other forms of communication that this person is not a part of. He will stand outside the bathroom door until you come out (and you will not take your cell phone with you in the bathroom since you have proven you cannot be trusted in this area). He must be strong enough to take the guff you will give him and strong enough not to give in your sensual, deceived mind. He must be vocal enough to say, “No, not on my watch. You’re not doing that.” There will come a time when the “body man” won’t be necessary anymore. But that time is not now, as you proved by going to NYC with your “spiritual advisor” and committing adultery anyway. If you had done what I am suggesting, he would have had to watch,and I bet things would have been different.

You need to begin to rebuild personal trust and integrity through the establishment of walls and boundaries. Walls won’t always work, and they won’t make you more godly, but they will help protect you until your spiritual strength is sufficient to hold you up. And they are necessary on the road to restoration to God and family.

So three kind of random-ish things:

First, in counseling and discipleship, make people stop before the “but.” Exploring reasons and thinking may be helpful, but not after the “but.” “I did wrong. Period.”

Second, only talk to people who matter and people who can help. One of the worst things you can do in pain is talk to everybody. You want a friendly ear, someone to sympathize. You want to explain. Once you have worn one ear out, you will go looking for another. Why? Because you are self-absorbed in your own pain, and you can’t understand that everyone else doesn’t feel the way you do. You think they want to talk about it as much as you do. Get over yourself. Stop talking about it all the time.

Third, in your life, develop relationships with one or two trusted people who know you well. When hard times come, talk to them and them alone. Make sure they are godly. Make sure they have a biblical understanding of sin and deception. Make sure they aren’t too chicken to say what needs to be said. Make sure they aren’t too calloused to love genuinely.