"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Power of Confession

We’ve all received unique letters in the mail, but a recent letter sent to the Riphagen family takes the cake. Years ago, Margot Riphagen invited a few of her teenage friends over for a party when her parents were out of town. Like most teenage parties that convene at such locations, in such inopportune times, the number of attendees grew by leaps and bounds in a matter of minutes, even though these “attendees” were never invited. Bad news. When the party was over, the family noticed that many valuable items were missing, including four rings that were the family’s most prized possessions. The rings were never found, and Margot’s parents even turned her into the police thinking she had stolen them!

Years later, the Riphagens received an anonymous letter in the mail. It was composed of an apology note, the four rings, the confession of the crime, and this unusual signature: “A dumb kid who wants to right a wrong.” As you can imagine, the family was overjoyed to receive the rings, which house four priceless memories: Margot’s mother’s wedding band, a ring Margot’s father gave Margot’s mother when Margot’s sister was born, and the wedding bands of Margot’s grandparents.

Confession is one of the most powerful virtues of our faith. It breaks God’s heart when we rebelliously sin against His will, but it fills Him with joy when we humbly confess our shortcomings. That’s why James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

This was a “dumb kid who wanted to right a wrong.” We’re “sinful Christians who want to be forgiven.” Both are possible through the power of confession.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Conviction from Grad School

I spent last week at Harding for a one week intensive course for my Masters degree that I will receive in May. Since this graduate program is mostly online, it’s always a blessing to sit face to face with classmates and professors. This year, we had students from Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Florida, and even Suriname! This course is entitled, “Theological Foundations of Ministry”. Throughout the week, I heard many lectures that made my mind spin in a sea of “isms” and “ologies”, but our professor, Dr. Bill Richardson, began the course on Tuesday with a quote that has convicted me forever—“Theologians who don’t engage in ministry aren’t good Theologians, and Ministers who don’t study theology aren’t good Ministers.”

It’s powerful to ponder on the deepest thoughts of God, but if we never leave the fortress of the classroom or library, we miss the purpose of our study. Jesus, the greatest theologian to ever live, still said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) It’s also powerful to be involved in the lives of people and minister to their needs, but if we don’t academically build a foundation on the precepts of God, we simply form earthly friendships rather than eternal bonds. Jesus reached out to the poor, marginalized, and broken, but Jesus still said, “…Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

What is your vision for the Kingdom and its mission? If you only peek through the lens of theology, your vision is lacking. If you only gaze through the lens of ministry, your vision is blurry. Remember, “Theologians who don’t engage in ministry aren’t good Theologians, and Ministers who don’t study theology aren’t good Ministers.”

Study. Minister. Succeed.