Tag Archives: confession

A New Grace-Based Resource For Growing in Sexual Integrity

An excerpt:

Among clergy, a 2009 study conducted by Texas Tech University of 460 male ministers revealed over 20 percent accessed pornography at least twice monthly. Older statistics on Christian clergy showed anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of ministers consider pornography a personal struggle, whether currently or in the past.

As Christian leaders these stats don’t really tells us anything we don’t already know. Porn is a significant issue for both Christian men and Christian leaders alike. And that’s just about pornography. This says nothing about our sexual integrity struggles with prostitution on business trips, strip clubs, affairs, masturbation, unbridled fantasy and checking out the sexy jogger in the rearview mirror.

At some level sexual integrity is challenging for all of us…. (13)

In Unburdened: The Christian Leader’s Path to Sexual Integrity, Michael Todd Wilson begins to address these challenges and provides guidance for those who happen to be Christian leaders and are seeking greater sexual integrity. Rather than asking “Do you struggle with sexual integrity?” he asks “How do you struggle with sexual integrity.” He takes an approach which recognizes that sexuality is an inherent part of our humanity and that at least some part of our sexuality has been marred by the fall. However this book doesn’t just say “change!” This book encourages Christian leaders to find growth in light of God’s grace.

Wilson encourages Christian men to take small but intentional steps toward integrity. He encourages men in leadership to take the risk of forming relationships with safe men who can encourage them toward greater sexual integrity. He encourages the reader to learn from others who have experienced victory in this area. He also encourages honesty and confession.

Ultimately what I like the most about this book is that he encourages the reader towards a grace-based approach rather than a duty/works based approach to growing in integrity. He argues that doing the right thing simply because its what we ought to do or because we feel guilty won’t sustain lasting change. He says that we need to be motivated by grace and not law. We need to be fired up by a passion for what’s right rather than merely the call of duty. His Grace-based approach is what makes this book stand out above other books about sexual purity.

I highly recommend this book for any Christian leader who wants to grow in their sexual integrity (there is always room for growth). But the group I would most highly recommend this book to is small group leaders (especially of men’s groups). I can see this resource being used to great effect in men’s small groups or as a resource being used to equip small group leaders who are constantly faced with the sexual integrity issues in their small group.

Note: I received this book courtesy of IVP in exchange for an impartial review.
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Book Review – Uncovered by Rod Tucker

Let’s be honest for a minute – on a scale of 1 to 10 – how honest and open do you think you are? How honest are you with yourself? Your own sins, your own baggage, your own issues, etc. How honest are you with others? Do you feel like you can share your mistakes, your shortcomings, and your junk with people at church? How does our lack of being honest with ourselves and our fear of being honest with other people hurt our relationships? These are all the sorts of the questions Rod Tucker addresses in Uncovered.

The Positive

Let me be honest with you – I loved this book. I loved Rod Tucker’s desire to see the church become more honest. I loved his desire to see the church become a haven of grace. I loved the fact that he points out that the gospel frees us up to be open. I love the fact that he challenges us to be more honest with ourselves and with our Uncoveredchurch community. I especially loved how he tied honesty in with maintaining our image and focusing on the American dream; it’s a lack of authenticity and honesty that leads us to consumerism in order to cover up our shortcomings.

There are some great chapters in this book, let me just highlight a few of those for you:
➢ Chapter 2: Self Protection – Rod shares about how we use dishonesty to protect our self-image.
➢ Chapter 3: Sewing, Hiding, Blaming – We resort to these three tactics (just like Adam and Eve) to cover up the things we are ashamed of.
➢ Chapter 15: Being a Safe Place – “We need to treat people exactly how God, because of Jesus, treats us.” The keyword is grace!
➢ Chapter 16: Why Honesty Matters – We can use excess and stuff as a way of hiding. This hinders our relationships.
➢ Chapter 18: Mirrors – A brilliant short story about a girl who all of a sudden discovers her reflection.
➢ Chapter 20: Reconciliation – God is in the business of bringing people back to himself. If we want to be a part of that, we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that we were once in a position of need, just like all the lost people out there.

I could see myself using this book as fodder for sermons but I could really see myself handing this book over to some church small group leaders, telling them to open it up and read certain chapters as a form of training. In other words this is a much needed resource for the church. We need to listen to a lot of what Rod Tucker is saying in this book.

The Negative

Again I will be honest with you – I loved this book – but there were some parts I didn’t like or agree with. 1)The chapter on homosexuality – while there was nothing in this chapter that I necessarily disagree with or reject, it seems as disjointed from the rest of the book. The chapter doesn’t really “fit,” so I am not sure why he included it. More importantly though… 2)His idea that “honesty is the point.” He says “honesty is not something to move past.” He argues against people who want to move past “simply being honest and figure out how to quit sinning” (56). Although I would agree with him, that “quitting sinning” is not the goal of our faith, simply being honest isn’t the goal either. Our goal is to be Christ-like, yes that includes honesty but when it comes to spiritual growth, honesty is a major tool for bringing the sin to the light and allowing Christ to transform us. What is a bit disappointing about this book is that he builds it off the premise that “honesty is the point.” It almost seems that for Rod Tucker, honesty is the silver bullet that will solve most if not all of the Church’s current problems. However honesty in and of itself certainly will not solve any of our problems, only Jesus can do that, thankfully Jesus has given us the grace to be honest, and that will definitely help the church grow into becoming Christlike.

Overall
This book was a short read. It was both provocative and challenging. As I read I felt the desire to grow in honesty with people in my life around me. Rod’s goal was to show us how to cultivate honesty within the church, having finished the book I can say that this book will certainly help in doing that.

As a bonus to you, the reader, I want to give you a free copy of this book. So Today only (April 7th) you can download the book on Amazon by clicking the link below. After that it will be on sale through amazon for only $2.99.

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(Note: I received this book from Kregel in exchange for an impartial review.)

These are My Confessions

Here is another confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness that I took and revised/contextualized for Soma:

Confession of Sin
Leader: Loving Father our lives fall short of your glory. We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed;
People: We have not loved you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
Leader: Our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to ignore.
People: Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear.
Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, and the good we have left undone.
Leader:  Lord, We privately confess to you the sins of our hearts.
Individuals: [Privately Confess Your Sin to the Lord.]
All: Lord, you are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy; Forgive us!
Leader: Restore to us the joy of your salvation;
People: Speak to each of us, and let your truth live with us!
Leader: Strengthen us to walk in the Spirit and to depend on the Spirit,
People: Strengthen us to abide in Christ, and to be conformed to Christ.
All: Give us an experience of your grace that makes us bold for others, that we might joyfully tell our friends and neighbors of your beautiful mercy.

Assurance of Forgiveness
Leader: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and forgiving our sins. He has taken away our sins as far as the east is from the west!
Leader: What has washed away our sins?
All: Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Leader: What can make us whole again?
All: Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Leader: Be assured, The Lord has forgiven our sins and made us clean. He has given us his righteousness! He has taken away our shame!
People: Thanks be to God!