Making Progress


People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

~Proverbs 28:13, NLT


You cannot learn from your mistakes if you deny them.


Proverbs 28 is laced with truth: I think I could blog every verse. Our SALVATION is three-fold–Past, present and future. Two-thirds of our salvation takes place here on earth but the greater part lies in the future. I have been saved {past tense}, that is I have been born again or regenerated. It happened the instant I believed in Christ. Presently, I am being saved from my sin and self. We call this aspect of salvation SANCTIFICATION and it does not happen in an instant–it is a life-long process. One of the keys to progressing in the matter of sanctification is to take ownership of our sin. Those who take responsibility for their sin confess and acknowledge their faults and turn from them. In other words, they grow spiritually, they progress toward the goal of being mature in Christ. Those who refuse to admit their sin remain in a carnal state. They are spiritually retarded and remain immature. Vance Havner use to say, “If we graded Baptist by their spirituality, the nursery department would be the largest group in the church.” Vance Havner was right, folks who have been professing Christians for years remain focused on themselves and their needs. It doesn’t take that long to get involved in MINISTRY if you have the heart to do it. There is no excuse for a professed believer of many years to be complaining about their needs being met; they should be involved in meeting the needs of others.

I don’t play much golf and for good reason. It is time consuming and I am not that good. My two older brothers never played sports; they were into hot rods and hot chicks but when they got into their 30’s, both took up golf and both were good. My brother John tried to mentor me and it almost got him killed. We were playing at Monrovia and he had gone into some bushes [off the fairway and about 25 feet from the tee box] looking for golf balls and I went ahead and teed off. I hit a horrible slice and it went into the bushes and bounced back out; the same bushes that he had entered. He didn’t come out for a couple of minutes and then he came out rubbing his head: my slice hit my own brother in the head. He always got behind me after that experience. My brother played by tournament rules. He never fudged. He told me, “I don’t normally play with preachers because they don’t count all their shots. You cannot improve if you don’t play by the rules.” My brother is right, until you take responsibility for your bad shots, you are not going to improve. If you start glossing over your mistakes, you are not going to make any progress. How hard is it to say, “I fouled up.”

Remember the story in John 8 of the woman caught in adultery. Do you remember what Jesus said to her? It was, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Do you think this woman became instantly perfect, that she never sinned again? I don’t; I think she sinned again but I am convinced that she never committed the sin of adultery again. Jesus showed her a love that was superior to any that a man can give and we must remember that having sex is not always an expression of love. The average man is a “taker” and Jesus was a “Giver.” Jesus gave her what she really needed–unconditionally love and forgiveness of sin. I promise you, after meeting Jesus, this woman saw men in a different light. One of my seminary professors told us that a church needs a new pastor every seven years: “If you are willing to change, you can be that new pastor, if you are not–they will find a new one.” I’ve made almost every mistake that a pastor can make but if we are willing to confess and repent we can make progress. If we deny our sins and gloss over our faults, people eventually lose confidence in us. This is not a rule for preachers only: I have no confidence in any man who does not own up to his sin. Just call it what it is and take ownership. 

I planted two rows of corn yesterday morning. We got the wind and rain last night about 10:30 just as they had predicted. I have not gone outside yet to see what got blown away. I am excited to see what the new carpet will look like at the Sanctuary. I helped take up the old on Monday. It needed to come up. Most of it had been there 27 years. I bet no one has any 27 year old carpet in their house. I think its going to look nice when we get it finished.

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