A New Opportunity

I am pleased to be able to announce a new venture by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary to help local churches equip men for the Gospel ministry. In partnership with three local assemblies, DBTS will be offering a seminary level course on Monday nights this fall in Concord, NH, Burlington, MA, and Atlanta, GA. This is a first step toward opening full remote campuses in these locations.

We are excited about this opportunity because it fits right in the center of our mission and burden. We exist to help local churches equip pastors, church planters, and missionaries. We believe the local church has been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the next generation. Our role is to serve the church in this task. Establishing extension campuses will increase our ability to help churches that are burdened to start and strengthen God-centered, Gospel-saturated churches in their region of the country.

These regional extension campuses will be fully interactive with the classroom here at DBTS so that we can maintain a healthy professor-student connection and the benefits of the classroom experience. We will be using an excellent system already being utilized by major universities (e.g., the University of Michigan–Go Blue!). Our goal is to mentor and equip, not just generate more revenue. Professor-student interaction plus the discipline and camaraderie of the classroom are very important to us. An education is not just about earning credits and getting a degree. It should shape and transform us.

Please pray for this new venture. I will be teaching the first course which begins on September 9, 2013. Registration information will be out soon!

Faith in Deliverance or Death

Since my son’s accident back in late March, I have been burdened to challenge believers about the real nature of faith and its relationship to the hard realities of life in a sin-cursed world. I say burdened because my chief concern centers on the place where the pastoral and theological intersect. I fear that much of contemporary Christianity embraces a soft prosperity theology that treats Jesus like the key to the American dream.

I think Hebrews 11:32-40 is a biblical antidote to this false teaching. I’ve been preaching a message on that text all over the place since Derek’s accident, but finally did so this past Sunday in our morning worship here at IC. I won’t re-preach it now, but here are four truths that lay a firm foundation upon which to stand when trouble comes:

1. Faith enables spiritual victories both great and small, vv. 32-35a.
2. Faith, though, does not always guarantee miraculous and divine deliverance, vv. 35b-38.
3. The different outcomes are not due to a lack of faith or some kind of failure to please God, vv. 33, 39.
4. Differing temporal outcomes in spite of faith is because the core of faith is not focused on temporal deliverance, but on God and His promise of redemption, vv. 39-40.

These are just the main points, so if you’d like a more full explanation of them, you can listen to the whole thing on SermonAudio. The Bible is clear that the path of following Jesus Christ is anything but bump-free. Genuine faith isn’t looking for streets of gold right now. It trusts God enough to follow Him whether the path in this life passes through deliverance or death. The kind of faith that only follows Christ as long as life is good isn’t biblical faith. Real faith is a persevering attachment to Jesus Christ that doesn’t turn from Him, but clings more tightly to Him in trouble.

Public Relations or History?

Steve Whigham has written a piece entitled “Could this Be the Beginning of the End of Christian Fundamentalism?” which got posted at SharperIron. Is this PR or a serious piece? The author acknowledges in his bio that he served in the admin of NIU, but he fails to inform his readers that he was a central player in the market re-positioning of NIU, something that really is pertinent given the point of view he expresses in the article.

My inclination is to think it is a PR piece because:
(1) It makes the incredible argument that the conflict at NIU possibly portends the end of Christian fundamentalism–this could only be the viewpoint of someone buried deeply within a very narrow segment of Christian fundamentalism with an agenda. I’ve argued this point before, so I’ll not do it here, but (a) there is no single fundamentalism at this point in the game and (b) the amount of people who fit Steve’s description is a very small portion of the pie. The fact is that Steve seems not to know much about fundamentalism apart from his experiences at BJU and NIU, and since this is huge thing in that orbit, it must be the end of the the whole solar system. It does not make me happy to say it, but the tempest over NIU has been inside a teapot.

(2) The history of fundamentalism is very carelessly laid out and clearly done so in order to substantiate the author’s point. Let me be less careful in saying that–he retells history conveniently in support of his point. The story of fundamentalism and evangelicalism has been very well-covered, so those who have read the history should be able to spot this quite easily. If you haven’t read any real histories of the movements, please don’t take this as one. This was advocate history.

(3) To paint the conflict over NIU as being about music is a tactical move which stigmatizes the critics while attempting to make this seem like only one issue is at play. But it distorts the truth to say that the whole debate hinges on music. Is it a part? Yes. Major part? Possibly. But even that answer is too simplistic. Is it the music itself or the alleged misrepresentations about what was happening musically? Is it the Big Daddy Weave concert or the alleged misrepresentations about the concert? (I’m using the word alleged here because I don’t care to litigate the point as much as acknowledge it.)

I’ll quickly concede that for some people music seems to be the only issue that matters, but that is only one segment of those who are not happy about the changes at NIU. I’ll also concede that there is a real tactical advantage gained by NIU’s defenders if they can make it seem like the sole reason people are unhappy with NIU is music. That’s what Steve is doing here. It works great for PR to use this tactic, but it is not accurate and it is very unproductive over the long-term.

I’ve tried hard to stay out of the fights about NIU because I’ve found them very unhelpful and quite frustrating. I have very strong views on it all, but, in large part, I think the ground has been polluted by attitudes and arguments which often seem like the opposing parties aren’t after truth, they are after defending their own point of view. Most of it has ranged from worthless to ugly. I guess the part I agree with Whigham on is that the future doesn’t look bright if we practice discernment, engage in debate, and make leadership decisions the way this whole NIU debacle has been handled.

And I mean that regarding both sides of it. Let’s not be blind to our own problems simply because we think we are on the right side of the debate.

Following is a stewardship too

I spent the last two weeks teaching a leadership class for our seminary’s summer school program. It was challenging and encouraging to spend four hours a day looking at this subject with men involved in and preparing for vocational ministry in the church. My last post came from notes I was preparing which addressed the topic of transparency and accountability in leadership. I would like to follow up on that, in part because I think more needs to be said and, from reading some of the responses to what I wrote, it seems that I need to be more clear!

Let me restate my main point: leaders are obligated to lead within the boundaries established by the organization itself. I suppose there might be a case where an organization’s only governing guideline is do whatever the guy in charge says, but I don’t know of any churches or parachurch entities which formally say that. All of the ones I know have some kind of governance arrangement. Integrity demands that the leaders honor those boundaries, not circumvent them.

I left room for differing interpretations about how to honor them. I left room for changing them with integrity. What I said did not in any way rule out change; it attempted to articulate what could not be changed by the leader apart from the will of the led. And those who are being led should be able to make free, informed choices, not coerced or uninformed choices.

One of the sad realities of congregational life in a sin-cursed world is that some people will misuse something like I’ve written to further their own agenda. Their interest in what I wrote has very little to do with the concept and a lot more to do with party politics. The Scriptures are absolutely clear that God’s plan for the church is to have godly and gifted men direct its affairs (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:17). To deny this is to deny what God has plainly said.

Nothing in my previous post contradicts the clear biblical teaching about pastoral leadership. Within a context of congregational church government, God’s plan is for elders to serve as overseers over God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). My post addressed the possible danger to the congregation when the properly appointed leaders do not lead transparently and with integrity. It was not against leadership; it was against bad leadership.

Biblically, texts like Hebrews 13:17 teach that following leaders is a stewardship responsibility too. Obey and submit are pretty strong words. Since the context is the spiritual care of God’s people, I believe it is proper to say that the kind of obedience and submission God’s people owe to their shepherds is: (1) spiritual in nature (“watch for your souls” and (2) biblically defined (cf. “spoke to you the Word of God” v. 7). When it comes to congregational life, it would seem that the disposition of the members should be toward following, not fighting with their leaders. If the leaders are violating God’s Word or breaking trust with the church’s governing documents, then God has told us how to handle it (1 Timothy 5:19-21). Sadly, my observation is that most church fights are not about disobeying God’s Word.

Just to be clear, let me illustrate the kind of problem I wrote about in the previous blog post so people don’t misapply it. An example for church life would be a pastor who knows he has enough money in the bank to survive chasing off the people who disagree with him, so he launches the church in a new direction in spite of the majority’s disapproval of it. An educational example would be an administrator hiring faculty and staff who do not agree with the doctrinal statements of the organization in spite of his obligation to work within that boundary.

Here is an example of what I wasn’t talking about. I was not talking about a pastor who leads the congregation properly through the process of making changes to its constitution. I was not talking about pastors exercising proper authority with regard to the spiritual care of the congregation (which includes its unity and oversight of its ministries).

God calls leaders to lead with integrity. He also calls members of the assembly to follow its properly appointed leaders. Both sides of the equation should do so knowing that the church is the Lord’s and to Him each will give an account.


Leadership Is A Stewardship

The leadership of an institution is a stewardship entrusted by both God and men. I followed a man who shepherded this congregation for forty years. The same man was the founding president of DBTS. I serve a congregation with a clear set of doctrines and by-laws which govern it, and they called me to serve because I affirmed my agreement with those. Yes, I think God directed my life to this place of service, but He did so by the means of human agency–a pastor, a pulpit committee, and a congregation.

I fully acknowledge that this is one of the great challenges of leadership in ministry contexts. The leaders are not free to pursue all of the paths available to him. They must work within the boundaries of their defining documents. They must work under the authority of whomever invested them with the stewardship of leadership. That means that beliefs of the leaders are not the de facto beliefs of the organization. If I changed, for example, my view of end times, it does not mean that Inter-City Baptist Church has changed its view. I don’t get to make that the call. The congregation does.

When the leader’s beliefs shift away from the organization’s stated beliefs, there are two options which involve integrity and one which does not. Integrity would lead the leader to either resign because he no longer can affirm his agreement or to put the question of changing the organization’s position before whomever has the authority to make the decision. For the leader, however, to take actions which are contrary to the organization’s beliefs and governing documents is a serious breach of integrity. Dress it up in whatever pious language you want, but it is deceptive and destructive.

For a pastor to chart a new course which effectively empties the church until the only ones remaining agree with him is unethical. For the leader of a service organization to pursue a new direction that leaves the organization vulnerable to collapse unless people go along with his choices is simply wrong. This is not servant leadership. Really it is not leadership at all; it is coercion. The congregation or organization is not allowed to make a free, informed choice about its new course or direction. The leader has imposed his will, not served.

I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood here. I’m not referring to interpretive calls about what fits within the church or organization’s governing documents. I’m talking about contradicting and circumventing them. It is the mindset that treats a leader as if he has some direct pipeline from God that gives him the right to ignore the boundaries properly held in place by the by-laws and articles of faith. It is the evidence that no matter how much lip-service we pay to being God-centered, too many of our churches and parachurch organizations are really built around men.

A genuine servant leader lives within the stewardship boundaries outlined for him in the governing documents of his church or ministry. If he finds himself in conflict with those, he either removes himself or calls for the church or ministry to reconsider its position. If he does the latter, he does that first, not after positioning things so that saying no will lead to catastrophic consequences. Leaving people no choice but to bend to your will is the antithesis of servant leadership.

Why the Silence?

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We live in a world where too often we hear about the unfruitful works of darkness–the nightly news seems to thrive on ghastly stories of murders, rapes, and violence. Frankly, it is why I don’t watch very much news. I’m not into ratings wars propelled by human suffering.

Yet, there is a place for the proper exposure of dark deeds so that the evil may be seen to be evil and our consciences and culture may be guarded against the numbness that comes along with moral decline. One would like to think that a news media which thrives on bringing to light every weird and wicked peccadillo would jump at the opportunity afforded them with the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of murdering babies who survived late-term abortions. The details are genuinely disgusting, but that’s not my concern in this post.

My concern is over the virtual media blackout. Thankfully, it may be breaking due in large part to an editorial by Kirsten Powers that closes with these words, “The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.” She is spot on with the main point of her statement–”The deafening silence…is a disgrace.” Tucked inside of her words, though, is a key which may explain the silence.

Viewing the media as a force for justice may be where the problem lies, since justice cannot be conceived of apart from moral values. There is no doubt that the media have been on the side of just causes in the past, but it seems equally clear that they have also been on the side of unjust causes. Like all people, those in media make their assessments of what is justice based on their own morals. In times where there has been a moral consensus about an issue, then the media has often been a vocal and important tool in pursuing justice (e.g. civil rights). It seems pretty clear that we don’t live in a time where there is a moral consensus about much, especially abortion.

If the predominant forces within the media world do not believe that abortion is a moral ill, then they face a genuine conflict in reporting the gruesome details of the Gosnell murders. They might find themselves stirring up opposition to a practice which they have defended. It is quite possible that their morals put them on the opposite side of justice in this case. Well, not as persons–I’m sure they are disgusted by the butchering and barbarism–but as advocates for social justice. Collectively, they might not want to give aid to their moral enemies in the abortion fight. Their “pursuit of justice” still pushes them to protect the “right” to kill babies.

This is the challenge of our day, a day where the culture is split on large, important moral issues. The media does view itself as a force for justice, but it often defines justice very differently from significant numbers of Americans, especially those who look to the Bible for ethical and moral instruction. The justice the media pursues, just like the rest of us, is one which is based on moral values. It appears that the media’s moral values in this case are being exposed.

What Gosnell has done is evil and the lack of media coverage, given its normal propensity to exploit and explore evil, is a disgrace. People whose moral values are offended by both the barbarity and the silence should raise their voices, not only to stop such barbaric acts, but to fight against having a culture shaped by the morals of the media. Our consciences and culture need to be stung by the moral tragedy that Gosnell’s murders represent.

Let us speak up, but do so graciously, pointing people to the real answer for the moral mess that comes when life is treated as disposable. Humans are made in God’s image, and Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we could have real, spiritual life. Let’s pray for another Great Awakening and let’s pursue it with a gospel focus that doesn’t reduce the Church to the level of a political action group. The ugliness of the Gosnell murders has exposed the ugliness in the human heart and there is only one remedy for that–the new birth. Let’s express our outrage, but let’s not get fooled into thinking that getting the media or legislators on our side is the real answer to our problems. We need an outpouring of God’s grace that produces a genuine revival among His people and awakening in our land. SDG.


Shielded by Grace

My family and I are very thankful for the encouraging reports of prayer being offered for my son and us from around the world. I think I have received notes from folks on almost every continent expressing their concern and assuring us of intercession being made for us. We have seen God’s hand in this and are grateful beyond words. Derek came home from the hospital this past Saturday, but still has a lot of healing up to do. An 80,000 pound truck doing 55 mph can do a lot of damage to your body, so it is quite amazing that he is doing as well as he is. There are still issues, but it looks like his body is healing up well.

Times like this, at least for me, lead to a lot of wrestling with how to communicate effectively what we know and believe as it is fleshed out in our experience. One phrase that I have used regularly is that “God graciously protected my son’s life.” I am not sure what others are thinking when they hear the word “graciously” in that statement. What I mean by it is that God did something for him and us that we don’t deserve. God showed him and us grace in how He protected him from far greater injury, and He especially showed grace to us in sparing his life.

It is gracious precisely because it came from God freely. He was not obligated to protect him in this way. Derek’s life is God’s, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, so He has the right to use Derek in whatever way He deems right. If He had permitted his life to end or to face far graver injury, there would be no wrong in God for allowing it. There is nothing in us that deserved some better outcome than others have experienced. It is foolishness, biblically and theologically, to think this outcome is tied in some way to some merit in my son or our family. Why does Peter walk out of jail, but James gets beheaded? Not because Peter deserved it and James didn’t. God simply had different plans for their lives. The Sovereign Lord wanted to magnify His own name through the martyrdom of one and the continued ministry of the other.

I have to admit that I flinch a little when I magnify God’s kindness to us in this circumstance precisely because I know godly people who have faced similar circumstances and their child didn’t survive or experienced more permanent damage. What caused the difference between the outcomes? The sovereign hand of God, not any worthiness or merit in my son or us. Just like with Peter and James, God has different plans for magnifying Himself for different individuals and families.

The fact is that God is in control of all things, so that means He could have prevented the truck from hitting my son altogether had He so chosen. He didn’t because He has something that He wants to accomplish in Derek’s life (and our family’s and among those around Derek’s life). But please don’t assign grandiose meaning to those words “He has something He wants to accomplish in Derek’s life”–I mean simply that this very trial Derek is experiencing is another opportunity for him (and those around him) to grow in grace and serve Christ.

Surviving this accident is not some heavenly sign of future greatness. He’s alive today because of God’s grace, but here’s the newsflash–so are you. That one person survives and another doesn’t means that God’s plan for the one’s life was complete and the other’s isn’t. The difference is in God’s will, not the value or merit of the people.

So, I live feeling the tension that we are to rejoice in God’s kindness and mercy that has been graciously provided, but we must do so in a way that recognizes that God has not in any way been unkind, merciless, or lacked grace toward those for whom He had different plans. Since the outcomes were not based in the merit of the recipient, but in the sovereign plan for the God who can be trusted, we bow the knee in worship regardless of outcome. He knows and does what is best for His own glory and the good of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. SDG.

The School of Hard Knocks

I have a sermon on James 1:2-4 entitled “The School of Hard Knocks” because of what that text teaches us about the value of trials in our lives. God’s goal for believers is to make them like His Son, and one of the ways by which the Father lovingly pursues our spiritual growth is the school of hard knocks. Although it sounds crazy in some ways, we are to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” because we know something about trials, namely that they produce endurance and endurance leads to spiritual maturity. It is not the trials themselves that are the joy, but the knowledge that they produce the good fruit of endurance and maturity.

My youngest son, Derek, is an 18 year old high school senior who literally entered the school of hard knocks last week. On his way home from a friend’s house he pulled off the road to help another motorist whose front tire had come completely off so that the car was shooting sparks all over the freeway. Derek approached the car on the passenger side, but when he could not get the driver’s attention to see if she was okay he came around to the driver’s side. As he tried to talk to an unresponsive driver a semi-truck hit him. Incredibly, he survived the hit. I am typing this as I sit at the end of his hospital bed, where he lies sleeping and I am filled periodically with praise and thanks to God.

Derek was pretty badly banged up–9 broken ribs, punctured lung, fractured skull, broken clavicle and scapula, a laceration in his liver, a handful of fractures in his neck and spine, as well as a couple of cuts that needed stitches and loads of abrasions head to toe from being knocked an estimated 115 feet down the freeway by the impact. Even as I type this I can’t believe that is all that he suffered. He got hammered by a semi going 55 miles an hour. God showed him and our family incredible mercy and we are exceedingly thankful.

Anybody who has received a phone call like I received last Tuesday night knows that it is hard to explain the feeling that floods through your body. It was not the first time I’ve gotten a bad phone call, but I literally felt like the wind got sucked out of me this time. My wife and I were in Florida and our son was being taken into emergency surgery because he was in critical condition in a hospital back in Detroit. As only God can do, though, He graciously gave peace and folded us into the comfort that comes from knowing He rules over all things.

As a pastor I have often found myself giving counsel to people who are getting hit with the hard realities of life in a sin-cursed world. One bit of counsel I’ve shared countless times is that the wrong thing to do is to start asking, “Why?” That question flows from the wrong place in our hearts and almost always leads into a destructive, downward cycle. The right question, I believe, is “What?” Specifically, “What do you want me to learn? What do you want me to do?” The reason I give this counsel is rooted in the truth of James 1:2-4–God’s plan for the spiritual growth of His children uses trials to produce endurance and maturity. And I know that this is God’s plan for my/His child. Derek knows Christ and has committed his life to serving Him, so I know that this is God’s will for his life right now. God is going to graciously grow him and us through this. Knowing that enables me to count even this as joy. SDG

When Silence is Consent

The tragic happenings associated with the arrest, guilty plea, and sentencing of Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond are a sad spectacle. Well before any of this blew up, I’d expressed my opposition to Schaap’s ministry and toward ministerial fellowship and cooperation with him. I’ll not rehash that here, but will note that the outcome, sadly, really isn’t shocking given the perverse way in which he handled God’s Word.

I recently read a letter from one Jack Hyles’s daughters that was painful, in many ways, to read. In it, she expresses regret for not speaking out against her father’s excesses, especially in light of the ultimate tragedy connected to her brother-in-law, Jack Schaap. You can read it for yourself here.

I don’t know Linda Murphrey, and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t agree with her on many things. What I do know, though, is that this is an incredible letter. And I know that there should be many men serving as pastors and leaders within the various Fundamentalist orbits that should be ashamed of themselves. The sins of Jack Hyles were not hidden, and I am not just referring to the ones brought forward by Robert Sumner and others. Hyles was a liar and people around him knew it. I figured it out when I was a college student because I made the mistake of believing and repeating one of his stories only to find out that it was completely false. I simply cannot believe that the people around him did not see these things. I also can’t believe that the leaders of other organizations and institutions didn’t see the problems.

Linda Murphrey’s regret about not speaking out sooner should be felt by those who didn’t speak up. And a new generation should be warned by this mess, leading to a fresh, firm resolve to not let it happen again. The “it” to which I refer is not that a pastor will fall or some abusive leader will emerge. The “it” is the silence of men who know better and should have acted. Nobody is above accountability to God’s Word. Nobody.

That men like Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap can keep their places of influence is the fault of their followers and those along side of them who refuse to do what God says. That certain segments, perhaps most, of the old Fundamentalist coalitions allowed such ungodliness to go unchallenged is one of its worst blemishes. I wish I were sure that those days are gone, but I’m not. They need to be, but they won’t unless there is a higher commitment to God and His Word than our “circles” and institutions.

God wrote Mene Mene Tekel Parsin on the walls of Jack’s office long before the piled up garbage spilled out. Braggadocios claims about numbers or pulpit bravado about being God’s man shouldn’t cause people to ignore biblical qualifications. It is well past time to put to death the false idea that apparent blessings serve as some kind of divine endorsement. It is also well past time to recognize that the ministries of men like the two Jacks have given God’s enemies cause to blaspheme, and that people who are genuinely concerned about the Faith once to the saints delivered will separate themselves from those who continue to promote and perpetuate their unbiblical beliefs and practices.

Specks and Beams

I had the privilege of preaching in seminary chapel yesterday. One of the great blessings of my current ministry is that I get to teach seminarians each week and preach in the chapel regularly. I often try to preach from texts of Scripture that I think will help shape the ministry mindset of future pastors and missionaries. Yesterday, I chose to preach from Matthew 7:1-5 and urge the men to guard themselves against the hypocritical mindset which the Lord confronts there.

The first part of verse 1 is perhaps one of the most often quoted and misused texts of Scripture. “Do not judge” is an oft-abused trump card in debates. It seems clear that Jesus is not against judgment, but against a certain kind of judgment. The context makes that clear–just a few verses later He tells them to watch out for false prophets and that they can know them by their fruits, something which obviously requires the exercise of judgment. John 7:24 is helpful in differentiating the two kinds of judgment, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Jesus is confronting a wrong kind of judging in Matthew 7:1-5, not all judgment.

Specifically, the reason that our Lord points out the hypocrisy of the judges in Matthew 7 is because they are not genuinely concerned about sin or about helping other people. If they were concerned about sin, they would deal with their own first. The fact that the person ignores the beam in his own eye while worrying about the speck in his brother’s eye shows that. If he really cared about sin, he wouldn’t ignore his own. If he really was concerned about the other person, he would take care of his own sin so that he could see clearly to help him. By ignoring his vision-impairing beam, he makes it clear that he really isn’t trying to help the speck-afflicted brother, but thinks himself better than him.

The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others. Phony, hypocritical concern about sin doesn’t deal with our own first, it focuses on the sins of others. My charge to the future pastors and missionaries was simply to not allow that phony spirit to invade their lives or ministries. If we, as leaders, are going to be genuinely serious about sin, then that starts by looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word.

It is much easier to point out where others are falling short than to admit and address our own errors. As leaders, though, refusing to acknowledge and act to correct our failures not only reveals a flaw in our character, it undermines the credibility of our claims to be concerned about wrong. How can anybody take the claim that we want to do what is right (by dealing with other people’s problems) when it is obvious that we don’t (by not dealing with our own)?

Few things, from my vantage point, undermine the leadership of parents, pastors, or ministries more than this kind of hypocrisy. The parent who quickly and strongly rebukes a child for wrong, while ignoring his or her own failures as a parent eventually loses the trust of the child. A pastor who confronts sin in the lives of church members, but fails to confront it in himself undermines his own spiritual leadership. A ministry or organization, for example, that exists chiefly to point out the disobedience of other people and ministries, but refuses to correct its own failures as aggressively loses its credibility by demonstrating that obedience isn’t really the controlling principle which governs it.

Jesus answer for judgmentalism is not to reject proper judgment, but to exercise it first with regard to ourselves. If we really care about sin, we’ll deal with the beams before we talk about specks. We’ll start in the mirror, not in somebody else’s eye.