Well this is my final full day at Camp-of-the-Woods. Erwin Lutzer has really been an enjoyment to listen to despite the fact that he is one of the more old school teachers of the Bible I have ever heard. I guess I have come to understand that old school teachers are not all so bad. Some of them are worth listening to and learning from.
Erwin’s last message for this week is, “Steps to Reconciliation.” This is an important message for sure. Oftentimes, the church does not know how to engage in taking care of ‘issues.’ I decided to listen hard for this message in hopes of finding some new thoughts or understanding from the Word regarding conflicts and resolutions. I was not mistaken.
He decided to go to the most familiar chapter in the Bible concerning conflict resolution (Matthew 18). He provided seven steps to reconciliation in which we are called to follow. The first step is to prepare your own heart. We are to go to this individual realizing that we are no better than this individual. We have the ability to wrong someone as we have been wronged. This is a true act of humility. The second step in reconciliation is to go. We are called to take an initiative to go in private and discuss the matter in which we believe we have been wronged. There are a few cases when going alone is not the best option though (i.e. A young child who has been molested by an uncle or someone that is known by the family, a woman who has been wronged by her husband in a physical way). I will also add that if someone has been abused in any fashion, the authorities must be contacted. Praise God we have laws that provide that kind of service. The third step is to evaluate the response of the individual. We need wisdom to know if someone has really repented or if they are not being honest. If they are repentant though, we must find a way to restore them. I am not suggesting that it is easy to do so but we are called to do it. If the individual is unrepentant though, we must continue to the next step of reconciliation. This step is the fourth step in the process. It is simply to enlist other people to come and encourage this individual to repent of their sin. This is crucial because it will provide other witnesses of this individual’s sin. Oftentimes, the steps of reconciliation end here. The purpose of the individuals is to clarify the issue of wrongdoing or sin, to confirm that an individual is unrepentant of their sin and to acknowledge the events that had previously taken place. It is only after this has been done (and I would suggest more then three – perhaps to the point of 8-10 people), we then move to the next step of reconciliation. The fifth step is to involve the church. When we have reached this point, it becomes very serious. The church is called on to intercede for this individual in hopes that they will repent of their sin. If the individual still is unrepentant of their sin, the sixth step must occur – they are to be excluded from the fellowship. It does not mean the person is unsaved (only God knows a person’s heart). It only means that as a body, we will not include them into the local body for fellowship. It might seem harsh but it is what we are called to do. The seventh and final step is probably the most important step. We continually hope and pray for reconciliation for that individual. We are still our brother’s keeper despite their unrepentant choice. Simply put, the steps of reconciliation look like this:
1. Prepare your own heart
2. Go to the individual in private
3. Evaluate the response
4. Enlist others
5. Involve the Church
6. Exclude them from the fellowship of the local body of Christ
7. Hope and pray for reconciliation
Following these steps ensures that we are living biblically and actively in the way that Jesus calls us to live.
Dr. Lutzer finished his sermon by stating three responses to reconciliation that we should be able to observe within the context of the local church. The first is full reconciliation. This is what we truly hope for when we confront an individual who has wronged us in some manner. This is true restoration. The second is partial reconciliation. They say that want forgiveness but they have made no life-change to show that they really mean what they say they want. There is also the response of no reconciliation. These people include though who refuse reconciliation. They actually feel as though they have been wronged in the process. Sometimes, these people desire to control you and not really work out their issues. It is truly a sad event when this occurs.
The statement Dr. Lutzer said today that truly affected my thought process was, “We need to take our bitterness and look at it like a pitcher of water and pour it out at the foot of the cross.” That is really powerful to me. I can honestly say in my own life, I have some water I need to pour out. I am sure I am not the only one either.
All in all, I was quite happy with the week conference and vacation. I was able to hang out with some family and friends while having the ability for some quite time and personal reflection. The teaching was also very good as well. The only downside to Camp-of-the-Woods is the price for me right now. My accommodations were not that expensive but because of my job being a server, I lost out on a lot of money. My bank account is getting low, low, low. I am not upset about it though. God has been truly faithful throughout this week. I know he will continue to bless me as I continue to serve Him.
In other news… There is a field mouse which I have named ‘Mickey’ that is running around the ‘social hall’ here at Camp-of-the-Woods. If my mother were here, she would be standing up on a chair freaking out. She is not though and Mickey is having a grand ole’ time I have to be honest and ask, “Where the heck is a mouse trap when you need one?” Mickey will be busy doing something else while I try and run out the door. For that, I can only pray for a miracle. Tomorrow I will be leaving Camp-of-the-Woods around 11:00 AM. It should take me about five or so hours to return home. Please pray for my journey home and my safety. I have to remember to tip out the maid service and the kitchen staff for all their help and service this week and I still have yet to pack what little stuff I have brought for the week. And yes… Breakfast is once again at 7:30 AM. Till next summer Camp-of-the-Woods, God bless