Repentance, Sin and Me–Part 2
When I was about 15 years old I had earned a .22 rifle for working for my grandfather.
I was eager to use it and was given the green light to shoot as many squirrels as I could
at our church camp. For the first couple of days the hunting was successful. However,
as the number of squirrels declined and the ones left seemed to be more alert, the
hunting became a little boring. As I sat at the base of a tree I noticed this chipmunk
scurrying about. The chipmunk became my target of choice. I took aim, but unlike my
shots at the squirrels, the shot was not fatal. The chipmunk was severely wounded, was
able to move and tried to get to its hole. I moved in close, aimed and this time the shot
ended the life of the chipmunk.
In the last issue of the E-Central I entitled my article “Repentance, Sin and Me.” The
article referred to Earl Wilson and the impact his sin had. It not only profoundly
affected his own personal life but caused deep pain in the lives of all those who were in
his sphere of influence. Along with the devastating results of sin, he also brings to the
reader’s attention the issue of repentance.
Repentance is not a pleasant subject. In part because one has really to understand the
impact that one’s sin has on both God and those who are in our sphere of influence. Yet
it is part of the Gospel. When Jesus went public he declared, “Repent for the kingdom
of heaven is near.” Paul states, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his
kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward
our website at
When we begin to speak about repentance in the lives of those who are convicted of the
reality of sin they need to know that a process of radical transformation involves your
mind, will and emotions.
Here is where I want to connect back with my hunting story. On that fateful day of
hunting all the thrill of hitting the prey faded rather quickly. For some reason as I saw
the little chipmunk try to limp back to its home I was heartsick by what I had done. I
truly wished I had not taken aim at the chipmunk; I wished my aim had been better so
that I wouldn’t have had to seen the results of missing the mark. At that moment I
became a transformed hunter, in other words I repented. For from that moment I have a
different feeling (emotion) about shooting chipmunks. I also think (mind) differently
about hunting, and I am resolved (will) to no longer shoot chipmunks.
However, when it comes to the issue of sin and the ugly damage it inflicts, we tend to
simply want it to go away. Earl Wilson knew he had made a mess of things yet he still
hoped that he could go on with his life. He would readily admit his sin and promise not
do it again. However, those who came alongside to help him wanted him to be
confronted with the fact that his action came as a result of choices he made in his mind,
will and emotions. He needed to repent, to be transformed.
He writes about how painful it was for him, but as time passed he also realized that
unless he truly repented he would soon have been back doing the same things all over
again. Because he needed to think differently, will differently and feel differently.
As we noted earlier repentance is part of the gospel. As pastors we
are told to “feed the sheep.” As pastors we are also to be examples
to the sheep. The sheep need to see in us lives that have been and
are continuing to be transformed, in other words dealing with
attitudes so that our actions will reflect the image of Christ. As
they see that in us they need to be encouraged to also repent so that
as they walk into the market place of life the world will “see their
good works and glorify God.”
The Necessity of Networking
The last couple of months in my life have been rather unusual and anything but normal.
The details of the events and concerns I have had are not significant in this forum. What
is important is some of the issues I have been forced to work through, and the lessons I
have learned—or more accurately relearned.
The first one is that in-depth, secure relationships are essential to effectively coping
with unusual times. When the going gets tough, the tough may get going. However, like
the not-so-tough, they also become vulnerable. We all are vulnerable to the cumulative
effects of stress and tiredness and the depletion of our resources. Having people around
us who are supportive is very important. We need them to know what is going on for us
and INSIDE us. Their encouragement is vital—life giving—for us. So is their honest
observation and/or correction when stuff begins to move us in unhealthy and dangerous
These relationships cannot be manufactured instantly as needed. They are not a PRN
pill that we can shake out of a bottle once or twice and then put away. They take time
and consistency and commitment to develop and investment of time and energy to
retain. Unfortunately, many pastors are so driven by the need for demonstrable results
that we choose not to invest in parts of life which seem to have long-term and
occasional return value. Of course, these relationships have on-going value not related
to the exceptional needs of unusually stressful times.
Two additional issues I have rediscovered are interconnected. One is that we need to be
aware of the professional resources that are available to our congregations and us. I
have had to decide what to do when faced with a situation I am not trained or skilled to
deal with. When people seeking help don’t speak your language well, do you know who
to refer them to, someone who will share your values and beliefs? When someone
comes with an issue that you are not trained to understand and resolve, do you know
someone who shares your life-view to whom you can send them? We all need these
links so that when things come our way that are beyond us, we have resources to fall
back on that will be helpful and beneficial.
Incidentally, having those links might also make it easier for us to seek assistance when
our own personal stuff is beyond us. In a world where the demands to be successful and
competent in and about everything are increasing, acknowledging our own limitations
becomes increasingly difficult and important. We must remember that the only allsufficient
person is God, and He has not chosen either you or me to be the perfect
incarnation of Himself. The pressure to be perfect, in order to retain respect and perhaps
our ministry position often leads to the perception that we dare not seek help for
ourselves, although we regularly encourage others to do so.
Neither a body nor a building (biblical metaphors for Christ-followers) is composed of a
single item. Both are a compilation of parts assembled in such a way that they are
mutually complimentary and functional in accomplishing their purpose. There is not
one of those parts that is able to reach the goal alone. Build the networks into your life
that will enable and empower you to successfully come through unusually stress-filled
times in healthy, Christ-honoring, God-praising ways. Please, do it now—before the
Nicholas D. Bell, Interim Pastor
First Baptist Church
Power and More Power
Reading Church history I find the Church of Jesus Christ being
seduced by POWER–not of God’s power but manmade, the Power that
destroys and kills.
In Matthew 4:1 we see this “Then Jesus was LED up by the Spirit
into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” The GOD of all the
universe is LED to be tempted, the GOD who spoke the word and it was.
The GOD who by him all things exists was LED. But it’s the third
temptation I am most interested in. V. 8, 9 “Again, the devil took him to a
very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and
their glory. And he said to him. All these I will give you, if you fall down
and worship me. Then Jesus said to him. Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”.
In the past decade people have left the Church in our Country over
one word, the abused power of the Church leaders. Whose kingdom are we
building? One of the most comical titles the Bible uses is in Matthew 2:1.
Herod self appointed himself as king under the Roman Empire. This scene
is being repeated again and again in the Church.
Jesus EMPTIED Himself from the desert to the Cross. Church
History is full of self appointed Power grabbing in the name of Jesus at the
cost of the sheep.
We have substituted the word LOVE for POWER. Jesus asked His
disciples do you love me. Their interest was, “Can we sit on your left and
your right in your KINGDOM?”
Henri Nouwen says this, “It is easier to be GOD than to love GOD.
Or it is easier to CONTROL people than to LOVE people. Or it is easier to
own LIFE than to LOVE LIFE.
We are tempted often to choose Power over Love.
Control over Cross.
Leading over led.
Those who resist this temptation have a true intimacy with God and
others, and people who are personal Empire builders are people who are
unable to give and receive love.
P.S. God bless us as we walk in truth.
Bill Badal, Youth Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sycamore, IL
Brethen, PRAY FOR US!!
There is an old spiritual that starts like this, “If we ever needed the Lord before we
sure do need Him now!” Some of our chaplains are in that place of need, and we ask
you to remember them in prayer.
Gary and Lois Taylor pastor the CB church in Morrisville, PA, and Gary serves as a
chaplain in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Their son Jonathan, a student at
Cedarville College in Ohio recently collapsed after playing a soccer game. He suffered
a massive heart attack and is now in a persistent vegetative state. They are working on
moving him back to the Philadelphia area for treatment. Doctors say a miracle is needed
for him to pull through. Pray for Gary, Lois and their family as they go through this
trying time in their lives.
Michael Nace is a prison chaplain in New York State and has had a wonderful
ministry leading men to Christ. Recently his ministry had encountered great opposition
in the prison and he has experienced personal verbal abuse from administrators and
vandalism to his car. Pray for Michael and Sylvie that God will continue to bless their
ministry and protect Michael as he shares the love of Jesus with those incarcerated.
The State of Washington recently removed all supervisory chaplain positions in their
prison system. Chaplain Dave Sherman‘s job went away. He has been able to find work
in the social services arena but would like to get back into chaplaincy again. Pray for a
position to open up for Dave in chaplaincy work.
Let me throw in an item of praise to balance this off. Chaplain Terry Sutfin ministers
in a Veterans Hospital in New York State. Terry called to let me know that ministry has
never been better and there is a wide open door to share the gospel. Many residents in
the hospital are asking questions about God and the Bible. The fighting in Israel,
Lebanon and Iraq is causing them to ask, “Is this WW3?” I also talked with the son of
one of our Navy chaplains serving in Djibouti, and he said his dad, Dan Stephens, had
just led a man to Christ.
Thanks for your prayers. We