Is it OK to Keep an Offensive Shot Chart?

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matt 18:21-23

Oops! Here it is again. Forgiveness. Or the real and potential lack of it: Unforgiveness. As I read for probably the “umpteenth time” Peter’s self-proclamation of spiritual excellence by aspiration to forgive up to seven times it occurred to me that if we are keeping a shot chart we are probably in failure mode anyway. I mean really? If I am looking at the bean jar and see that this clown only has one bean left, then he had best toe the line, for after that I am licensed to cultivate bitterness in my heart by harboring unforgiveness for repeat offenses. Now that really makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I trust my sarcasm is apparent.

2016-08-28 (2)

Jesus moves beyond the ordinary sized “bean jar” and makes us calculate not by addition and subtraction of beans, but by multiplication: 7 x 70 = 490, and that means I am assured to lose count and will have likely forgotten the original offense anyway, so let’s just forget the whole blooming thing! Maybe that’s the point?

CS Lewis talks a lot of this in his life struggles and in his works: Mastery of forgiveness of the offense and of the offender is a given when once it is done, on that initial occasion that grace is discovered, but when it is convenient to dredge it up again to utilize the offense for manipulative purposes in the present, that original offense reoccurs in the mind just as real and readily as before. Lewis then accurately identifies the quality of “re-forgiveness required to be just as real as the original forgiveness because just as much grace is demanded to satisfy our sinful hearts as before. You did not think your flesh had improved in the last few weeks did you? Not hardly. Lewis was especially helpful to me to be watchful for the “replaying” of previous offenses whenever I find myself idle or it seems convenient such as when I encounter an occasional friend who challenges my grace of love and forgiveness. The tendency is to immediately run back in my mind and say to Self, “Do you remember when!?” And we justify our coolness of response for his previous offensive word, deed or attitude. There are real life struggles here for offenses are experienced every day. They are in my world anyway.

Thoughts & Recs:

  1. Burn the Shot Charts and Accounting Ledgers… They are only good if you desire to feed bitterness and to ensure YOU fall into painful heartache. In fact I would say that if we are holding onto an account of offenses we are not truly forgiving by turning over the offender to the Almighty to be the one who recompenses: we are desirous to reserve the right of retribution if and when required and convenient. Remember: “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” Biblical forgiveness liberates us from having to fix the wayward wanderer. Our forgiveness may very well mean in a real and painful sense that we hand the scope and rifle to God and say, “Here, you take the shot.” “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful…”
  2. Remember the standard: “Be kind toward one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
  3. We are all debtors to grace. If we believe we are better than the caught sinner we lie to ourselves and have a “Pharisee-complex”.
  4. The presumption in Peter’s hypothetical is that “brothers sin” against one another. Don’t be shocked, but good men have bad fights. It happens. Remember Forrest Gump as he ran? “It happens.” Yep. Got several Tees and some folks we do well to simply stay away from, even brethren. Let’s pray for them and love them from a distance. I have no doubt that Paul loved Barnabas and Barnabas loved Paul, but their ministry philosophy seemed to be at an impasse. That happens. That doesn’t mean these guys are against one another. God simply has them in different fields.
  5. Now. How about a time-out? “Take 5” and quietly sit alone without phone or distraction and truly ask God to reveal all those you are embittered against. “Making a list, and checking it twice.” Then deal with it however He leads.
  6. Review the “one another” commands in the New Testament, and figure out how the heck to practically implement them. Positive action of “faith working through love” has a way of removing offenses and squelching future occasions for sin. It’s hard to hate on someone you are serving with.

I noted with interest in my “one another” search that the first “one another” in the epistles deals with love and preference to one another, and the final reference speaks of the judgment of God upon unrepentant man as we devour “one another”. There could be a subliminal message there? Just kidding… or maybe not? Some segments of society are excelling at the latter scriptural observation, yet we as believers are guilty too of lagging in diligent love toward one another. Our goal ought be to out do one another in love to His glory by His grace. Then “the world will know we are His disciples when we have live one for the other.”

May the Lord help us to heed His holy, sufficient and relevant word today, and speedily at that. Don’t you sense time is short? I do.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…” Rom 12:10-11

“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” Rev 6:4

As We Wait for the Burning Bush

It is so very easy to perversely assume God’s indebtedness to us today. You know, that He is obligated today to do the enormous because of such and such, and because of all we do and have done for Him. (Pride and faulty logic really foul up a man’s theology, and ultimately trip one up and into the path of destruction.)

We forget the prep time of Dungeon Joseph and of Desert Moses. Always too, bear in mind that John the Baptist apparently was reared in the desert “before the day of his public appearing,” and our Lord Himself hung out for 30 years in a carpenter shop before adorning the Gospel in public ministry. I naturally think as Eddie Rabbit, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. (Well maybe Mr. Rabbit had other issues he sang about as I listened to him years ago in The KEG in Lafayette.)

Our duty in the meanwhile is to stay spiritually sensitive, mentally keen, and physically engaged in the kingdom calling before us today, regardless of the size or significance of our ministry. We don’t do this by moping or by sitting around telling old stories as we polish shield and sword, and as we care for the battle gear we were given some years back. To be faithful in that which is least means we are practicing grace where we are today. Now! (Athlete, Soldier, Farmer… remember? Marathon runner?) Get off the couch, Mr. Potato Head! Quit licking past wounds and mourning old offenses that you cannot make right. The Kingdom languishes and the King is at the door!

You know, it may be today we look and see and are called to turn aside to a burning bush that is not consumed. We might have an encounter with God as never before as He opens the sealed orders’ envelope marked by our name, and then He may commission us to regions beyond in glorious endeavors that we have prayed over for years. Likely though for most of us we will still walk a similar path as before… just as we did yesterday and last week and last year. There are glorious exceptions, and there is glory wherever and whatever path of obedience we walk.

And if those secret sealed orders are never unsealed and that burning bush is never revealed and if that still quiet voice never becomes a thunderous heavenly overture to “Go ye therefore,” any further than our resident prayer closet, His call to daily faithfulness is ever before us and we establish His glory and kingdom in like manner according to apportioned grace in our particular corner of the universe by simple, faithful, consistent obedience. And we learn how to walk and please Creator God unto His glory in the simplicity of the life He gives today.

May we ever be diligent to be doers of the Word wherever we are found today, bush or no bush. Excel still more. Never lose heart in well doing. Live in expectation that God is and that God rewards even seekers.

We please God! We please God when we become linked to the golden chain of Romans 8, and whatever His particular eternal calling and purpose may be for us as individuals, we know conformity to the holy perfect Son is a non-negotiable as glorification is off the table too.

Now you were saying, you have problems and concerns?

God has your back and solutions to your most difficult plight and tragedy as He wisely intervenes according to the counsel of His will.

O how I love the Lord! He is our light and our salvation! There is instruction somewhere about waiting for the early and late rains, for the coming harvest. Let’s do that in a manner that never imitates inactivity, but rather manifests diligence in duty.

It occurs to me that in all of the Bible there is only one Burning Bush experience and only one Moses. And it also occurs to me that we have “match point” on Moses: We have the Spirit of God who seals us for the Day of Redemption in the secret place behind the Veil of the Tabernacle which is the Body of our Risen Lord.



We don’t need no burning bush.”


The Corked & Bottled Universe That Sits Upon God’s Mantle in Which We Live

“But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.”

Jesus makes this alarming statement to 1st century Jews in Palestine and since their world in its quintessential perfection revolved around the Temple and Temple Worship, this contrary claim of His personal superiority would have elicited horrified gasps and raised skeptical eyebrows. None was greater than the One represented by the Temple. None. None that is unless that One who stood before them disguised as a peasant carpenter turned rabbi was in fact incognito “the Word made flesh which dwelt among them…” Emmanuel has come. Don’t miss that. Perhaps today by comparison it would be similar to someone randomly and emphatically stating to us….

“Hey guys, this rock we live upon which rotates at 1000 mph and hurtles around the sun and through space at 67,000 mph in concentric circles, surrounded by eons and infinity of expanding occupied and unoccupied space, stars, planets and other unimaginable formations and creations… Hey guys, all of this seen and unseen, known and unknown universe is actually totally contained within one of those itty-bitty, tiny corked glass bottles, and it sits upon God’s mantle, you know, similar to one of those ships in a bottle we might have on our mantle.”

My God is large.
My God is awesome.


Isaiah 40:21-31 (NASB)

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.


Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB)
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

We fundamentally must always be ready to answer that most pertinent question and give account for the hope within us by credible evidence:

“Do I acknowledge and worship the One in whose presence I live and move and breath… who is greater, and who calls me to Himself?”

Something greater than the trappings of the day has come. We must never overlook what has happened. God has visited us incognito. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” That’s ok. His Kingdom comes, His will be done. In my life. In Your life. In this moment this day.

By the Way. If my analogy is close to true, this means that God Himself entered into the corked bottle and became one of us to rescue us from wrath.

It occurs to me that when Jesus identifies Himself as greater than the temple, the right response would simply be, “Yes Lord, I see. I believe. I worship the Christ in spirit and truth.”

A Plethora of Some Relevant Questions for a Pastor by a Visitor Interested in Bilateral Committed Church Membership

Some Modifications I felt relevant. Still likely not a final and a work in progress.

Lamptofeet Blog

Questions…if I might, and if you please?


  1. How did you come to know Christ?
  2. What have you discovered to be essential to maintain your walk with God? Contrarily what trips you up most readily?
  3. What is your besetting sin and do you find grace sufficient to overcome?
  4. Do you distinguish between personal devotion and sermon preparation? What is the difference? How do you practically guard your personal time alone with God so as to not to allow sermon prep to intrude into heart prep of your walk before God?
  5. What role does personal holiness play in your public ministry? What makes a man holy?
  6. When you preach do you preach from your head or your heart? What is the difference?
  7. Do you consider yourself a man of prayer? What role does prayer play in your ministry and what practical evidence do you point to that demonstrates its essential centrality…

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A Plethora of Some Relevant Questions for a Pastor by a Visitor Interested in Bilateral Committed Church Membership

Questions…if I might, & if you please?


  1. How did you come to know Christ?
  2. What have you discovered to be essential to maintain your walk with God? Contrarily what trips you up most readily?
  3. What is your besetting sin and do you find grace sufficient to overcome?
  4. Do you distinguish between personal devotion and sermon preparation? What is the difference? How do you practically guard your personal time alone with God so as to not to allow sermon prep or ministry challenges to intrude into your heart preparation of your walk before God?
  5. What role does personal holiness play in your public ministry? What makes a man holy?
  6. When you preach do you preach from your head or your heart? What is the difference?
  7. Do you consider yourself a man of prayer? What role does prayer play in your ministry, and what practical evidence do you point to that demonstrates its essential centrality to your ministry?
  8. How do you show the love of Christ to your wife and your kids? Does she generally validate your calling and affirm your witness? Would you eagerly call her as your first witness to testify of your secret life before God or cringe to think of what she might say?
  9. Do you delight to pray with your wife? How do you overcome hindered prayers?
  10. Who are your favorite authors? What books are you reading now? How many and what types of books do you read every month? What authors have most influenced your life, your marriage, your ministry and your personal walk with God? These are likely different authors.
  11. If you were marooned on an island with your Bible and one other book, which book would it be?
  12. If you picked one book besides the Bible to give to your children which book would it be?
  13. What do you think of the 9 Marks Ministry and their accountable approach to Body life and ministry?
  14. Do you believe church discipline to be a relevant Biblical doctrine for the church today? Have you ever excommunicated or participated in the excommunication of an unrepentant believer? What is at stake when the church tolerates known, public, willful, blatant, unrepentant sin?
  15. What steps would you take today to implement the recovery of a wayward saint? Do you believe Biblical discipline correctly implemented is an act of love and hopeful restoration? 
  16. What do you think of Pink and the Sovereignty of God? Of Martyn Lloyd-Jones? Of John Piper, Of Alistair Begg? Of RC Sproul? Of Walt Chantry? Of Albert N. Martin? Of John MacArthur? Calvin? Edwards? Of Spurgeon? Of Wesley and Whitfield?
  17. Do you read CSLewis, and what is your favorite book of his and why?
  18. Who is your favorite contemporary pastor and why?
  19. Who is your favorite pastor of the past and why?
  20. What are essential components of a successful sermon? What are the essential components of a successful pastor?
  21. What is your view of Confessional Christianity? Do you hold to any particular confession? Why or why not?
  22. Do you see the need or have the desire to move toward Confessional Christianity for both historical and theological stability, and for accuracy and the general safety of the body of truth?
  23. Do you catechize your children and your converts? Do you see this as helpful?
  24. Many believe in the profit of the systematic reading of the Psalms as a fundamental part of the call to worship. Do you have thoughts?
  25. If you see and believe in and value a historical Christianity why do you rarely reference the old writers such as the Puritans, and very rarely have the great hymns of the faith been sung? I speak of Wesley, Cowper, Watts, and others. (I refer primarily but not exclusively to hymns of the 1600’s through the 1800’s, not the modern “hymns” of the 1900s which generally lack depth of theology as they generally became more man-centered and needs-oriented.)
  26. Do you actively and normally participate in the weekly selection of appropriate hymnology material with thematic elements to validate and coincide with your sermon topic? Should you participate for sake of order and decency?
  27. What system do you enact to ensure that you fulfill the divine mandate to “keep watch over the souls of those entrusted to you as one who will give an account”?
  28. Do you envision ever having a loving type of shepherding oversight of members at large so that you and other staff may actually ensure how it goes with the souls of the brethren entrusted to your care? Do you see yourself as being accountable for implementation of this principle of watchful accountability?
  29. How do you define a successful ministry and how is that to be measured practically and biblically?
  30. Are you responsible to establish and maintain relationships with the membership at large or is it permissible to stay aloof from more intimate relationships with the general population? When and how do you intend to implement a closer, more aggressive relational pursuit of others?
  31. Why are you in the ministry and can you satisfy your calling by occupation of the pulpit alone or must you pour out your life into others to fulfill your calling?
  32. Have you ever preached a good sermon that gave you total satisfaction? When have you fully discharged your gospel duty? If the glory of God is the end of preaching, what part does man’s response have in the successful preaching of Christ?
  33. What role does prayer have in your life? In your ministry? In the church? When does this church pray corporately? Are we meeting a minimum or acceptable Biblical standard of prayer today?
  34. What are the central components of corporate worship?
  35. What are the ordinances of the church?
  36. When was the last Communion service at SGBC? Why are they so infrequent and is something lost in their absence? What has taken the place of Communion?
  37. How would you distinguish your calling to the ministry from another’s job? What are the inherent dangers of seeing yourself as an employee on the clock? Why is it important for you and staff to be visible at most services? With the new schedule do you intend to exercise a sort of liberty of absence?
  38. Who do you work for and how do you answer to them? Why should your intended absence be previously announced to the church at large beforehand and not to a select few?
  39. What happens when you don’t get your way or when things don’t go your way? Do you see yourself as a man under authority?
  40. When was the last time you were told “NO!” (I am not referencing a NO by your wife.) Perhaps by staff? How did you respond? What was the last occasion that you publicly confessed sin to your fellow staff members in the ministry? 
  41. What is the process whereby decisions are made in the church and how is the church body involved? Are we elder ruled, deacon ruled, elder/pastor ruled by congregational consent, or does the preaching pastor generally get what he wishes? I really don’t know and I would like to know how the practical functioning of government and decisions are fleshed out.( I have witnessed abuse by an authoritarian style of ministry in the past.)
  42. How can three separate worship services promote unity of one Body with one mind, in one voice and in one accord? Is that wise or even possible and will it not possibly result in the essential formation of three separate churches rather than one Body?
  43. What in your opinion is the greatest need of the church today? What is the greatest threat to the church? What is the greatest danger to your ministry personally? (Please don’t say these questions or one who asks them.)
  44. What steps are you taking to avoid a simplistic event-oriented Christianity that emphasizes an aesthetic or entertainment value over an encounter-participatory worship experience that actually encourages communion with and transformation by the living God? One is spectator-oriented and the other is participatory that sees God.
  45. Which of the calling requirements (Timothy/Titus) to ministry as elder/pastor causes you the most angst and why? How do you, and who honestly assists you in your ongoing evaluation of continued personal fitness for the ministry? How often do you open yourself up to scrutiny by others? The real question here is, who pastors you and your family? Do you believe a pastor needs a pastor?
  46. Statistics indicate many pastors struggle with pornography and we know it is ubiquitous. (They have solitude, access and opportunity.) How do you guard your heart/eyes, and who holds you accountable?
  47. Do you take criticism well? Would you like some constructive criticism? Do these questions anger you? That is not my intent.
  48. What part of man was affected by the Fall and to what extent? What are the implications of this corruption and curse?
  49. What role do we have in salvation by grace? How do you communicate man’s responsibility but hold to God’s sovereignty?
  50. How does a dead man of Ephesians 2 come to Christ? What are the conditions of salvation? Does the new birth precede repentance and faith, or do repentance and faith move God to grant the new birth? (This is really not the proverbial chicken/egg question and is actually very crucial in your practical methodology applied to men in the Gospel call.)
  51. How do you explain Philippians 2:12-13 to a new convert? To yourself? To me?
  52. Why do you believe and why do you preach? What will you do if all you hold dear is taken from you? Would you be content with God alone? “ He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God and nothing.” (GKC) Is this true?
  53. Do you struggle with options or with the temptation to implement an apparent viable Plan B in a secular world to find more temporal happiness or security?
  54. Describe worship in spirit and truth, and what are its signs that we have arrived or are at least that we have begun the journey off the mount or out of Jerusalem back to the Father?
  55. What is the multifaceted goal or ultimate end of your ministry at SGBC in particular?
  56. Finally: Have you read, and if not, would you and your staff purpose to read and interact over…
    Preaching and Preachers by Lloyd Jones
    Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
    Lectures to My Students by Spurgeon
    Preaching by Keller
    Brothers, We are Not Professionals by Piper
    The Reformed Pastor by Baxter
    Power Through Prayer by EM Bounds

A Poor, Mourning, Gentle, Hungry, Thirsty Pilgrim

Matthew 5:3-6 (NASB)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Poverty is not a virtue. Poverty of spirit indicates an awakened conscience to the richness of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, “…who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich.” Our poverty is highlighted by our bankruptcy of inability to effect change or appease the Holy. Poverty is seen by the open Treasure of Light that we newly see by the chest filled with the treasure of the King and His presence. “In His light we see light.”

To mourn is not divine nor do tears of a broken heart ensure comfort that ends in a predestined resolve of happy hope. (“And they lived happily ever after.” Really? Yes! If we mourn rightly!) Crying does not ensure joy. Yet the glory here is that we who biblically mourn have eyes no longer transfixed inwardly upon our personal failures or guilt as serial lawbreakers nor upon our aggravated bitterness born of another’s lawlessness which relentlessly assaults our expectations with repetitious disappointments. Mourners are biblically comforted by being born again and from above by the Holy Spirit according to the imperishable word implanted within our hearts to birth a living, abiding hope, by which we now through tears say, “All my springs of joy are in you.”

Gentleness is not a passivity that woos others to give us an earthly inheritance as they marvel at our indifference to abuse received as our nonresponse to violence impresses them with super human tolerance or ignorance. Yes. It is not a candy-man, nor anti-man “hit me with your best shot…” A gentle man is a warrior-prince who knows his masculine options as well as His rights of inheritance, and he is bold as a lion as the wicked flee his presence as the Lord equips him with sword and shield. Moses is the preeminent type as Christ is the fulfillment. Don’t overlook the whip nor the sword welded by by the Lion-Lamb of the Tribe of Judah who for cause of truth and justice had to humble Himself to the point of death for a season that our redemption might be made complete. Our inheritance is a matter of adoption into the King’s family. We are in the King’s family by invitation. His gentleness makes us good and His goodness gives His delight in sharing the treasure of His presence with His own. Do we bear marks of being make gentled by the Good Shepherd who is the model quintessential One who is “gentle and humble of heart”?

Just because I hunger and thirst for spiritual stuff is no insurance that I will partake of the true bounty that is ever before me. Has my taste changed to long for and pursue that heavenly manna and that holy drink that truly satisfies my soul’s need for the water that springs up into eternal life and the Bread of heaven that gives life to the world? There are copy food cakes and fraudulent fad foods that promise the best in this life and the life to come. They always seem to taste so temporally sweet and earthy, yet they never touch the splendor of the King nor satisfy the deepest longing of our heart and soul. Yes, oh yes! Their delectable, attractive passing pleasure is ecstatic in temporal satisfaction but soon the soul is hungry, and a truly burning heart hungers for true food spoken of by He who came down from Heaven as the Bread of life to give His life for the world. I will only be satisfied as I “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” My journey can only end where it first began: in the Light of the One who called me by grace. He is the One who bids us to come drink freely of the waters of life that mysteriously become a well of water springing up within us into an ever-flowing well of water for the healing of the nations much as the water became wine to satisfy the celebrants at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.

God’s call to me is to discern the counterfeits of today by a heart evaluation of myself in light of the instruction which the Lord Jesus gives me today. Am I real and do I pursue Him by establishing a life long obedience in the same direction that is characterized by construction of my house upon the Rock, so that when the storms come, He will ensure my standing when once again the sun shines on the New Day which He promises?