The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Confessing to each other [Readings for Sunday, October 1, 2006]

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Forest path Few Bible ideas have had as profound an effect on the community of which I am a pastor than James’ encouragement to “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can lice together whole and healed.” Seems like those who dare to get together with other followers of Christ and get honest about their failures become the strongest among us. Certainly they are the fastest growing.

And, paradoxically, they become the most trusted.

Perhaps it was fifteen years ago, on vacation, walking through the pine and birch forest on a Minnesota sand road, that it seemed like God was emphasizing this practice to me. “Yup,” I agreed, “it would be wonderful to be a part of a church where it was safe enough to do that. Mmm – mmm, I’d like for my church to be that way.”

And it seemed like God said, “Well, son, who do you think should lead the way?”

“Ah, God,” I thought later, “You surely don’t understand professional distance. You must not know how being a pastor is.” But I knew that God knew.

It took a few years, and I largely put it on the back burner. But eventually I got so very worn out that I really didn’t care much what people thought. So I told them (from the pulpit, I think) that I was having some trouble and seeing a professional counselor. I figured it was the end of my credibility, and that I would soon be gone.

Next week, people started showing up at my door. “When we thought you had it together, we didn’t dare tell you what was really happening in our lives. Can we talk?” I was astonished.

As usually happens in breakthrough moments, some began to heal and some got mad (which may be a quote of Jeff VanVonderen and Tom Johnson in Tired of Trying to Measure Up). But we entered into a period of healing unlike any we’d known.

It wasn’t until later that I realized, “Hey, wait – that is what God was talking to me about on that road in Minnesota.”

Ah, yes. God is good. He took me where I didn’t think I could go.

Want to get better?

James 5:13-20

Prayer to Be Reckoned With

13-15Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.


16-18Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.


19-20My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.


The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson



Mark 9:38-50


38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”


39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.


42″On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.


43-48″If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.


49-50″Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”


The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson



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Written by Monte

September 25, 2006 at 9:25 pm

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