Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Practice of Confession

Tim Challies has an excellent article titled The Practice of Confession. Here's an excerpt, but I would highly recommend clicking through to read the full article.

Some time ago I was reading the site of a Roman Catholic apologist and read a statement that showed a misunderstanding of Protestant theology. And there may be good reason for this error. The author said simply, “Protestants do not believe in confession.” The statement is correct only insofar as Protestants do not practice auricular confession (confessing ones’ sins to a priest in order to receive forgiveness). That statement along with others I have heard and read shows that there is a misunderstanding about the Protestant view of confession. That God calls us to confess our sin is clearly supported by Scripture. The Bible offers us clear teaching on this subject. Yet this is not an aspect of Christian living to which Christians tend to give a great deal of attention. Today I want to look just briefly to the practice of confession.


Most Christians have, at one time or another, learned the acronym A.C.T.S. as a model for prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication is a good and a logical way of ordering prayer. There is logic in this model. Giving God the adoration due his name will inevitably prepare us for confession. Focusing on God’s attributes will help us see where we have fallen short of his standards. A part of our adoration is focusing on the attributes of God that we shared with him before our fall into sin. For example, we may give God glory for being perfect in holiness. As we do this it opens our eyes to the fact that this perfection is God’s standard for us. He demands and expects no less from us. Once we have established who God is and what he has done we cannot help but see how our lives and character fall short of the perfection he demands. The reaction of a contrite and broken heart can be nothing other than confessing our sinfulness before him as we begin to pour out our requests before him.
I am reminded of Steve Green's song "I Repent"

I regret the hours I have wasted
And the pleasures I have tasted
That you were never in.
And I confess that though your love is in me,
It doesn't always win me
When competing with my sin

And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent, no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees and I repent

I lament the idols I've accepted,
The commandments I've rejected
To pursue my selfish end.
And I confess I need you to revive me,
Put selfishness behind me
And take up my cross again.

And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent, no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees
And I return to fall in love with Jesus
I bow down on my knees and I repent

I Repent - Steve Green

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(I wrote this sitting at a basketball practice, but forgot about it until now.)

I have the utmost respect for little league coaches, basketball in particular. Right now, I’m sitting on a basketball court watching Carlos and his team practice. Ever tried to herd cats? Piece of cake compared to teaching little league sports. Here’s a play-by-play report of Carlos’ practice time:

Everybody is standing around the middle circle learning about the tip-off. The two guys in the center are listening attentively. Everybody else? One little guy is dancing around the circle. There’s another one picking his nose looking at some kids over the corner. Two others are having some kind of arm wrestling match in the air. So of course, the coaches have to get everyone’s attention (again) and repeat what they just said. Repeat this for every. single. different. activity. (and sometimes multiple times for the same one).

“No, hey, Nick, when the other team has the ball, you have to come down this end of the court!”

“Hey guys, you need to listen. Hold the ball, please. No, hold it, don’t pass it around and dribble it.”

“Donny, if you have your hands in your pockets, you can’t catch the ball.”

“Guys, stay in your positions. If everyone is in the same place, you can’t help each other out.”

“Donny, we’re playing basketball, not tag”

“Brian, you’re on the other team!”

“Carlos, where’s your man? Stay with your man.”

“Donny! Donny! Donny!!”

Respect. These coaches have mine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Lest You Forget"

In honor of Memorial Day, reflect on this poem by Pvt. Andre P. Fallwell, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, 1944. (You can read more about the poem and Pvt. Fallwell here.)

Lest you forget --
We piled into assault boats bobbing high,
And charged the beach amid the thundering roar,
Meanwhile the winds and dismal rain whipped by
To watch us die
On Europe's battered, bleeding shore!
We fought our way to land;
We left there in the sand
Our native blood. Although the sea
Will drench it clean, we claim our hand
Released the forces soon to free
Old Europe's battered bleeding shore!

On, comrades, on! We stay behind --
The peace is yours to win.
The fight claims us, but you will find
Us here for all eternity;
As though we hadn't been
The price for our posterity --
Do you remember when?

Lest you forget --
Our fight is over now, and it is won;
But we are not alive to share the goal
Of glory, Only see that all your sons
Recall our guns --
Before the drums have ceased to roll!

Our standards lie amuck
Where last we falling stuck
Them waving proud. Although the next
Will take it up, we claim our pluck
Has written freedom's newest text --
Before the drums have ceased to roll!

On, comrades, on! We stay behind --
The peace is yours to win
The fight claims us, but you will find
Us here for all eternity;
As though we hadn't been
The price for your posterity --
Do you remember when?
And after war deserts our kind,
Will you remember when?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music Monday - Mighty to Save

One more from Laura Story - here is "Mighty to Save"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trees and Forests

Tonight, Sarah and I decided to take Carlos and Jeremiah to see the new movie Earth. It was a very good movie showcasing God’s wonderful and beautiful creations on this planet. Shortly after the movie started, Jeremiah was still feeling a little traumatized from a movie preview (Ice Age 3, to be exact) and was sitting in my lap. We watched as thousands of birds took flight in a breathtaking array wings and feathers. About this time, I wanted to make sure Jeremiah could see the screen since he was sitting kind of scrunched down on my lap. I asked, “Jeremiah, can you see?” He answered rather indignantly, “No! All the birds are in the way!”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Music Monday - Grace

Here is a beautiful song by Laura Story about our relationship with God and his wonderful, unending grace.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pro-Life Pastor Chooses Jail

...over a plea bargain and finds an unexpected ministry outlet.

For 19 days in March and April, Walter Hoye was locked in a cell with 29 other prisoners at the Santa Rita jail near Oakland, Calif. There were times when he wished he could have stayed longer.

When the metal door first clanged shut behind him on March 20, Hoye, 52, decided the space was really more of a cage than a cell. A metal grid penning in prisoners. Fifteen bunks lining two walls. Two toilets and a urinal for all 30 men, and a shower that inmates had gradually transformed into a pornographic shrine.

As Hoye made his way to an empty bunk, a few prisoners, mostly black and Latino, dogged his path. "You smuggle in any drugs, man?" one of them asked.

"No," Hoye said quietly.

Then the veteran inmates left him alone, he told me, except for "one of the brothers who was kind enough to help me make up my bed."

A few minutes later, another man walked over to Hoye's bunk and jabbed his finger at a newspaper he was holding. "This you?" he said, eyeing Hoye skeptically.

Hoye peered at the Oakland Tribune headline: "Anti-abortion pastor chooses jail."

"Yeah, that's me," he said.

In the next moment, the inmate was striding up and down the length of the cell, announcing, "Hey, he don't have to be here! He turned down probation! He doing straight time for what he believed in!"

It was true: On Feb. 19, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing sentenced Walter Hoye, a Missionary Baptist minister, to 30 days in jail after Hoye refused a plea deal that included three years' probation, a small fine, and an order that he stay at least 100 yards away from Family Planning Specialists, an Oakland abortion clinic.

Passionate about the sky-high abortion rate among African-Americans, Hoye began offering men and women assistance at the clinic in 2006. About one in three Oakland residents is black, compared with a statewide African-American population of 6 percent. And though blacks make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for one-third of all abortions performed in the United States. More than three in 10 black women abort their unborn children.

According to the 2006 census, deaths now exceed live births among African-Americans. "We're no longer replacing ourselves," Hoye said. "So we're not using terms like holocaust and genocide just to elicit a response. It's the truth."

In response, once a week Hoye stood quietly outside Family Planning Specialists with a sign that said, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help." When people approached the clinic, Hoye would ask their permission to speak with them about abortion alternatives; he also offered them pamphlets describing available help.

In 2007, pro-abortion clinic "escorts" began to show up in groups, surrounding Hoye and impeding his movement. They blocked his sign with sheets of blank cardboard and shouted down his low-key offers of help. When that didn't scare Hoye off, clinic managers lobbied the Oakland city council and in December 2007, the council instituted a "bubble-zone" ordinance applicable within a 100-foot radius of any Oakland abortion clinic. The law made it a crime to "approach within eight feet of any person seeking to enter" a "reproductive health care facility" in order to offer literature, display a sign, or engage in "oral protest, education, or counseling."

"This law is horribly unconstitutional," Hoye said. "It allows abortion clinics to decide which U.S. citizens are allowed to retain their constitutional right to free speech."

Represented by Life Legal Defense Fund (LLDF), Hoye challenged the ordinance in court. The case is still pending, but in May 2008, Oakland public attorneys acting in cooperation with clinic managers charged Hoye with "unlawful approaches" to women, and "force, threat of force, or physical obstruction."

What prosecutors did not know was that LLDF attorneys possessed four hours of uncut videotape documenting Hoye's activities outside the clinic on the dates in question. At trial in January 2009, the tapes impeached the testimony of clinic director Jackie Barbic, who claimed that Hoye repeatedly broke the 8-foot rule and that she and a patient had to put up their hands to fend him off. Instead, the tapes showed Hoye standing still as Barbic approached him; then they showed Hoye walking away. No incident shown on the tape matched Barbic's testimony, and even clinic escorts testified that Hoye was always cordial and never obstructed anyone's path or used threats or force.

Inexplicably, the jury still found Hoye guilty. At sentencing, the prosecutor recommended the probation and the clinic stay-away order—or two years in jail. When Hoye refused the stay-away order, Judge Hing appeared "surprised," Hoye said. "The judge was essentially asking me to stop trying to help men and women outside an abortion clinic, and I just would not voluntarily give up my First Amendment rights."

In February, Hing levied a sentence of 30 days and Hoye reported to the Santa Rita jail a month later. After the newspaper-reading inmate touted the Tribune article to the other prisoners—many of them inner-city drug dealers whose highest aspiration was to stay out of prison, they clamored to know why a man would choose jail over freedom. From that moment on, Hoye found himself in constant demand.

"I would be holding court with about 30 guys, explaining why I did what I did," he said. "I explained what an abortion actually does, that it takes an innocent human life. We held prayer vigils, we had Bible studies. I must have counseled and mentored guys all day and all night. It got to the point where we started talking seriously about Christ."

Most of the men in the cage at first mouthed pro-choice slogans, Hoye said. "But when I forced them to complete the sentence, 'I believe that a woman has a right to choose to kill an innocent life,' they couldn't do it."

One morning at about 2:30 a.m., a good-looking young man named Terrell approached Hoye's bunk and asked what actually goes on during an abortion. Using his fingers to simulate a woman's legs spreading, Hoye showed Terrell how the abortionist inserts a vacuum aspirator and sucks out the developing child.

Terrell, 18, told Hoye he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and that she had aborted. "She made the decision," he said. "It was her choice."

"Yes, I know that, but what did you do?" Hoye replied. "Did you offer to marry her?"

Terrell shook his head. "No, I didn't."

"Did you offer to help her raise the child?"

"No, I didn't."

"Did you tell her that you love her and that you were going to go the distance with her as a man should, even if she decided to give the child up for adoption?"

"No, no, I didn't," Terrell said, his eyes filling with tears. "I never knew. No one ever told me what an abortion is. No one ever made it plain."

When Terrell understood that he had, "perhaps because of his own lack of participation, been complicit in the murder of his own child, it really broke him," Hoye said.

Before Terrell went back to his own bunk that night, Hoye prayed with him. "I told him God could forgive him, that what he'd done wasn't an unforgivable sin."

But the conversation didn't end then. Terrell continued to visit with Hoye. "He began to understand that men have a responsibility to women, and vowed that, for him, an abortion would never happen again. He came to me a young man in jail for dealing drugs, trying to make some money and live the large life. I began to see him grow up."

Released from jail on April 7, Hoye rejoined his wife, Lori, in their Oakland home. Today, he is not sorry for his choice. "I've been a jail chaplain in jail before, and even had the privilege of being a guest preacher at San Quentin. Being an inmate is completely different. I was actually one of them and it gave me a different kind of credibility. I'm sure my adversary meant my incarceration for evil, but God used it for good."

HT: Challies

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Audiobook for May

From ChristianAudio:

During the 16th and 17th centuries, many families owned two books: the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. This classic book arose during the Protestant Reformation and profoundly influenced many in the English Church. Beginning with Stephen and the earliest church martyrs and continuing through the French Revolution, Foxes details the sufferings of those who would courageously stand for Christ. Nadia May does a wonderful job narrating and her empathetic tone helps with the difficult subject matter.

"When one recollects that until the appearance of the the common people had almost no other reading matter except the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, we can understand the deep impression that this book produced." - James Miller Dodds

Beginning with the story of Stephen from the book of Acts, considered the first Christian martyr, the drama builds to the passion of the early Church's persecution under the Roman Empire. The hardy and radical faith of those first believers spawned medieval missionary movements that spread the gospel across Europe and into England, Scotland, and Ireland. As the story continues, it places a significant emphasis on the sufferings of the early Protestants during the Reformation.