Confessions of This Preacher

Confession is good for the soul- someone once said.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed,” James once said (James 5:16).

Then there is this. “Confession is like really, really healthy vomit. It may smell and get all over the front of your shirt, but you feel better– you feel cleansed– when you’re done,” Rob Bell says (in his latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God).

Thus motivated by divine and not-so-divine inspiration, this blogpost is about the random confessions of this preacher. I am looking for cleansing. :)

  • I confess that quite often I feel inadequate to my calling and profession. I live with me and know my failings. Like Paul I frequently think that I am the “chief of sinners” and wonder why anyone would want to hear a word from the Lord from me. I confess to still being amazed when someone is nudged closer to God by something I said. (All I can say is there is indeed power in the gospel.) 
  • I confess that frequently I feel inadequate to be a father to my girls at home (age 11 and 7). I feel for them because they have an “older dad” (Not long ago, when I picked Jordan up from school her classmate saw me and yelled to Jordan, “your grandfather is here.” Yep. lol). This weighs on my heart and mind.
  • I confess to not trusting in God fully when it comes to finances. Being in ministry does not equate necessarily to financial security. When I was younger I had more faith here. Now, I worry about the next ten or fifteen years. What will happen in my so-called retirement years? Will we be able to send our girls to college? I do believe in God’s providential care. I just keep praying for God to help my unbelief.
  • I confess that I am not the easiest guy to approach. That is not what is in my heart, but it must be somehow on my countenance- so I have been told. I have tried working on this– making happier faces in the mirror :) , but I think folks still are sometimes hesitant to approach me.
  • I confess to being impatient (just ask my girls) on occasion. I try diligently to “be angry and sin not.” Sometimes I manage to do it. And I do pray for God to temper me more and more with his Spirit.
  • I confess to zealously guarding the unity of God’s church. I confess to not understanding why anyone would want to tamper with it. This has occasionally tested my patience.
  • I confess that I love my wife passionately, but do not let her know frequently enough. She sacrifices so much for me and the girls.
  • I confess that even after all of these years of ministry with all of the layers of experience it brings, it still hurts when I see the church not growing. If I undersand God’s will correctly, we are not called to maintain status quo, but to work to expand the kingdom. It kicks me in the gut when the church is content to remain static.
  • I confess to struggling with ego. At times- secretly of course- I have coveted, wanting to be the keynote speaker at all the big stuff; the famous Christian author (of course it would help if I wrote a book!) and preacher in demand. Yea, I know- wrong motivation. Sometimes the flesh is weak. This is not the problem it once was, however.
  • I confess to not always having treated people gently and with respect- especially those who have a different worldview than mine. I confess to occasionally being too judgmental and prejudicial towards others- acting out of fear rather than faith; looking for ways to avoid instead of engage.
  • I confess to having been occasionally hurt by comments like, “As a preacher, you only have to work two or three hours a week.” Or, “If you had a real job….” Or, “you should have known our old preacher- boy, he was really good.” Now, I realize most of this is said in jest, but even after hearing it all over the years, I confess to still being stung a little on occasion.  For most of us preachers, our work is not only a profession- it is who we are and there is no amount of compartmentalizing that can change that. This is not a complaint. We would not have it any other way. But to think we just sit around and do nothing except for a couple hours a week….
  • Having said that, I confess that I love my “job” and have been blessed beyond measure through it and through all of God’s people who have graciously encouraged and supported me over the years.
  • And finally, I confess to not having all the answers. Once upon a time, I thought I did. Things were so much simpler then.

So there you have it. I do feel better. :)  Thanks for indulging me.

One Response to Confessions of This Preacher

  1. TYRON ZANE WHEELER says:

    Great confession Danny! Confession I have found has two great benefites to the confessor, one is it gives me a source of encouragement from those I confess to and two it also helps to know that I have a level of accountability to them. This has been most beneficial to me when I confess!

    Secondly, I am just wondering why you would ever want to read anything from a guy who doesn’t even believe in God’s Word.

    Rob Bell: a Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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    If Christopher Hitchens or Deepak Chopra penned a book that scoffed at the biblical teaching on hell, we would not be surprised. So why would anyone be shocked or confused when Rob Bell writes Love Wins? Has Bell shown any more commitment to gospel truth, or any more devotion to the principle of biblical authority than Hitchens or Chopra?

    Is Rob Bell truly a Christian, or is he one of those dangerous deceivers Scripture warns us about repeatedly (Acts 20:29; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 2:1; etc.)?

    It’s a fair—and necessary—question. Christ’s famous warning about wolves in sheep’s clothing is given to us as an imperative: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Our Lord clearly expects His true disciples to be able to spot spiritual imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing—especially those who are purveyors of deadly false doctrines.

    Rob Bell certainly fits that category. He relentlessly casts doubt on the authority and reliability of Scripture. He denies the Bible’s perspicuity, disavows its hard truths, and ridicules some of the most important features of the gospel.

    Granted, Bell (who was raised in the evangelical movement and is an alumnus of Wheaton College) still insists on calling himself “evangelical.” He reiterated that claim recently in a March 14 interview with Lisa Miller, where he stated, “Do I think that I’m evangelical and orthodox to the bone? Yes.”

    A careful examination of Bell’s teaching suggests, however, that his profession of faith is not credible. His claim that he is “evangelical and orthodox to the bone” is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Bell’s teaching gives no evidence of any real evangelical conviction. If “each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44), we cannot blithely embrace Rob Bell as a “brother” just because he says he wants to be accepted as an evangelical.

    If, as Jesus said, His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27), then we ought to look with the utmost suspicion on anyone who doubts and denies as much of Jesus’ teaching as Rob Bell does, and yet claims to be a follower of Christ.

    Scripture is crystal-clear about this: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4).

    Historic evangelicalism has always affirmed the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture, while declaring (as Jesus and the apostles did) that the only way of salvation for fallen humanity is through the atoning work of Christ, and the only instrument of justification is faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the gospel.

    Rob Bell believes none of those things. His skepticism about so many key biblical truths, his penchant for sowing doubt in his hearers, and his obvious contempt for the principles of divine justice as taught in Scripture all give evidence that he is precisely the kind of unbelieving false teacher Scripture warns us about.

    Bell is an inveterate syncretist who loves to blend “progressive” and politically correct dogmas with eastern mysticism, humanistic jargon, and Christian terminology. His teaching is full of barren ideas borrowed directly from old liberalism, sometimes rephrased in postmodern jargon but still reeking of stale Socinianism.

    What Bell is peddling is nothing like New Testament Christianity. It is a man-centered religion totally devoid of both clarity and biblical authority.

    Given those facts, you might think any true evangelical would reject Bell and his teaching outright. But evidently many in the American evangelical movement think they are obliged simply to accept at face value Bell’s claim of orthodoxy. No less than Mart DeHaan, voice of Radio Bible Class, decried Bell’s critics, portraying them as the divisive ones for pointing out the unsoundness of Bell’s teaching. DeHaan wrote,

    I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy? [emphasis added]

    The biblical answer to DeHaan’s question is clear and fairly simple: The best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy is to “[hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching . . . to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers . . . who must be silenced” (Titus 1:9-11).

    We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies. It won’t do to sit by idly while someone who denies the danger of hell mass-produces sons of hell (cf. Matthew 23:15).

    In a series of posts this week, we will demonstrate from Rob Bell’s own published works that he has long been hostile to virtually every vital gospel truth; we will consider some of the questions he has raised about what the Bible has to say about hell; and we will compare and contrast what Bell is saying about hell with what Jesus said about it.

    Buckle in and get ready to be challenged. These are admittedly some of the hardest truths in the New Testament, but there’s no reason anyone holding authentic evangelical convictions should find the subject confusing or controversial.

    John MacArthur
    Pastor-Teacher

    Related Resources:
    • Rob Bell: “Evangelical and orthodox to the bone?” Hardly. (blog)
    • Rob Bell’s Unbelief in His own Words (blog)
    • Bell’s Inferno (blog)

    PS-With your influence for the Kingdom being what it is maybe you should confess that reading anything by Rob Bell is not in our best interest. Love You Brother, Tyron

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