My laptop crashed while I was in Charlotte NC a couple of weeks ago and is in the hospital...literally. It's called the "Computer Hospital." All my research notes and previous study materials from which I draw information for writing posts are with it and not, I hope, lost. That reported, instead of the final post on the topic of the "Feminization of the Church, I've chosen to do a personal word. You'll see why in a moment.
Yesterday Wade, our oldest son and Pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid Oklahoma, preached a message from his series in Genesis and the failure of Abraham to speak the truth about his wife, calling her his sister, out of fear for his own life. His son later did the same thing. So Wade addressed "generational sins." [With a distinction between sins and curses.] It was a superb message and one every Christian should hear. You can... by going to the Emmanuel web-site. His Mom and I listened by web-cast in live time after attending the early service at our own fellowship.
In the course of the message Wade told the story, with my blessing, of MY failure as a father when anger was a besetting sin in my life. It was of an incident when I, while Pastor of a large Church in Texas, got out of the car on I-35 driving back to Texas from Oklahoma with Mary, my wife and Wade's mother, because she and I were arguing and I was not controlling my temper, as was the case much of the time in those days.
She drove off [wise decision and completely biblical since we are commanded to not keep company with an angry man] and I was left to hitch-hike home, and did. Not the stuff great biographies of godly men are made of, but the truth nonetheless.
It was at that time and because of that incident I got serious about God working in my life and started the painful process of facing, repenting [genuinely] and removing that particular besetting sin from my life. I'm grateful, as are all the Burlesons, including Wade and his three siblings, that God has worked. Wade told that story with correct details, a forgiving spirit, while taking responsibility for his own besetting sin and showing they CAN be generational unless one chooses to stop them with honesty, repentance,and removal. As I said, a superb and needed message by all.
Now, as Paul Harvey says, "for the rest of the story." Even Wade doesn't know what I'm about to reveal.
I was broken-hearted during that trip home hitch-hiking. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the sin and utter stupidity of what I had done and was doing. But it does take the Grace of God to genuinely grieve over it. I've come to see the presence of Grace in one's life is not evidenced by no longer failing/sinning but , rather, being broken over it. Much as Lot was "vexed in his righteous soul" by the deeds of those around him [and his own later. 2 peter 2] so will a Christian be "vexed." I was. So much so that when I got home later and found Mary gone doing errands I hid in the garage until she returned so the kids would not know we didn't come home together. [It wasn't godly repentance yet as you can see] It was sometime later I got honest and then even later that I related it to Wade as he told it correctly in his message. The cloak of secrecy still prevailed. Someone has said you are only as healthy as you are commited to keeping no secrets. I think they are right. I wasn't healthy quite yet.
Now for more of the Grace part. While hitch-hiking home that day, I was picked up by a business man. We started conversing and he realized I was not a bum hitch-hiking across country but was, in fact, educated and knowledgeable. [Though far more stupid than he knew.] I did not reveal I was a Pastor for obviously shameful and self-protecting reasons. We talked. One thing led to another. Before much time went by we were pulled over to the side of the road and, with my hand on his shoulder, he wept his way into repentance and faith gifted to him of God in that providential moment. he took me to my home and went on his way rejoicing.
I tell you this NOT to take away the sting of my own failure and sin. The Cross has done that. But to remind all of us, as I was reminded that day, that our God isn't waiting until we have it all together before He pours His Grace through us, but in fact, shows us that where sin abounds Grace DOES much more abound.
Some might think this being said might take away from the responsibility of wrong/sinful actions on my part. My thinking is that it only reminds us of "why" we can be honest, repentant, and broken over our sins. There IS no reason to fear His anger. That was poured out on Jesus. Grace is poured out on us. You can trust Him enough to be honest about yourself. In context, "she is my wife, not my sister, but I lied about it and am ashamed of that fact," can be shared with a son, daughter, spouse, friend, BECAUSE His love DOES cover a multitude of sins and those sons/daughters can hear one generation speak to another generation of their own failures/sins against the backdrop of His work on the Cross. "Freedom" is what that really amounts to. It's like coming out of the bushes [Adam] and saying the truth about whose fault it really was. [What if Adam had said 'mine'?] God works in that context Graciously. Thanks Wade for a great message and a great reminder for all of us.