Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Mother's Challenge

I loved this post by Justin Buzzard I can't say that I had a similar experience with my son at that tender age -

but I can share a great highlight for any mom, when my son gave the following testimony a few years ago:

Discipline comes to all of us in life. Usually we cringe at the thought. As children when we do something wrong and our parents find out, fear comes to us, knowing discipline is coming. Church discipline seems even worse then, doesn't it? When you think of the wonderful worship and fellowship you have with your brothers and sisters in the church, you don't usually include church discipline but I believe it should be a part of each church's foundation.

In my life discipline has been key to the man I am now. As a youth I was taught the principles of the Bible. Without a father around I had to learn a lot of things for myself. I was very blessed to have men in my church who would include me in different activities and who became father figures to me. Being around these godly men strengthened me in my drive to grow in my faith. When I was 13 I became a communicant member of our church, not knowing what a blessing this is.

As a teenager I began to stray from the church. Around the time I was 16 I began to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Pretty soon it took hold of my life and my faith became nonexistent. Right away the elders of the church noticed a change and began to meet with me. I thought they were telling me how to live my life and judging me when in reality they were expressing their concern and providing wise counsel. After that I got a job where I could work on Sundays so I wouldn't have to go to church. I was controlled by my drug and alcohol abuse and it became an idol. I cut off almost all contact with everyone in the church but my own family. Eventually there was a meeting where the church decided to review my membership. I was invited to speak on my behalf as to why I should not be removed. I saw this as a way out and ignored it. In 2000 I received a letter from the church telling me I was removed from membership.

For the next couple of years my lifestyle continued until I had a run-in with the police. I was arrested for DUI. I completely ignored the consequences. I never paid the fines or went through the treatment. On Christmas night of 2001, I was arrested again. The police looked at my record and noticed there was a warrant for my arrest and that ended up equaling a month and a half in the county jail. During that month and a half, I began to think clearly for the first time in years.

Without the influence of drugs and alcohol on me, I began to think where my life was headed. I met with my mother and asked here if I could move back in with her and she told me there needed to be a change first. It wasn't just about quitting my abuse but more about attending church and seeing where my relationship with God was. I began to read from a bible that was in my cell. I was convicted by Psalm 30:9 and I realized how I had been wasting me life.

The first Sunday after I was released from jail I went to church for the first time in more than five years. It was the total opposite of how I had thought the church was viewing me. Instead of their judgment I felt a wonderful welcome from many of the families I had known so well. In the following weeks and months, I even began to enjoy being in a church. Each week I met with our pastor and we discussed things I was thinking and any questions I had.

I knew I needed to share my story with the whole church. When I started to write out my confession my pastor gave me a Peacemaker Brochure and suggested I frame my story around the Seven A's of Confession. On June 9, 2002 I was set to give my confession. The funny thing about that Sunday is that we had an intern who was giving his first sermon the same day. I got to the church early and there he was, pacing nervously. I felt a little more at ease that I wasn't the only one who was nervous. I stood up at the pulpit and confessed my sins to the congregation, trying to hold back tears.

The reaction was nothing I expected. I heard "Amen" after "Amen" and the whole congregation applauded. As I stood there I saw how God's forgiveness is expressed through his people and church. The tears were just waiting to get out. I remember the first person that came up to me after the service - he shook me hand, gave me a big hug and said, "Welcome home, Kirk." For the first time in years I cried. These weren't tears of sadness but of joy.

With everything I have experienced, I believe discipline is a vital part in each church. Discipline is usually seen as a bad thing, but I consider it a blessing. The fact that members of my church loved me enough to discipline me and show me that the life I was leading was disobeying God made me eventually see a need for repentance. Without repentance there can be no reconciliation, and through discipline a person sees the need for repentance. If I ever stray away again, I am thankful I have a church that loves me enough to correct me.
Kirk Thornburg Billings, MT

Kirk with his nephew, Trask, at a church softball game - Summer, 2007

1 comment:

Jeromy said...

Great story Sharon. I'll be using it in my jail bible studies...