08 June 2011

Open Letter to Our Readers

by Frank Turk

Dear Readers,

Briefly today as my week is surfeit, I have a backlog of open letters to write. I owe Greg Damhorst & Cameron Nations a response to their open reply to me; I have an open letter to William and Katherine about their future as the Royal Family of England; I have some notes for President Obama; I have a retrospective to the man who baptized me and discipled me before I was even able to understand what exactly he was doing for me; and I am sure other items will come up.



Today I only have about 30 minutes to get something worth reading up, so I'll interject this for your edification: has anything happened in the last 6 months which has made you reconsider your own self-perception as a Christian? That is to say, do you live in such a way that there are moments when what you thought was the right-minded routine of your life, heading you in God's grace toward sanctification, turned out to be an idol -- something actually standing in the way of your sanctification?

My opinion is this: if we are living with a real appreciation of the Gospel, this will happen often. And the reason it will happen often is that we are sinful people. We don't want to die to the things we really want: we want to believe rather that what we really want is what God wants for us. So if we really want to be bloggers, for example, that must be what God wants for us. If we really want to be rich, God must want us to be rich. What if the Gospel is supposed to be breaking us down instead?

Now, that sounds rather cliched, and like one of those posts after which someone has a theological melt-down. I get that. You can follow Scotty Ward Smith on Twitter and get that sort of Biblical wisdom in 144 characters or less (without the meltdown) -- you don't need 3 pages from me to have a healthy dose of self-deflating Gospel to get that. But here's my point to you today: coming here to read my open letters each week ought to inspire you to (at least) a weekly gut check. Am I reading Frank's letters so that I can see Frank give yet another famous person the what-for? Am I reading them so I can yet again see what a sniveling ingrate Frank is, and thank God I am not a sinner like him? Or am I reading these letters, and seeing myself in them -- the bits and pieces of my own human flaws, my own human errors, my own mistakes, misgivings, misdemeanors for which I ought to be repentant -- and thereby find a little bit of grace and mercy toward my fellow human beings who are just like me, and need a savior just like me?

So my open letter today is to you. Check yourself. I'm checking myself today, and I'm writing an open letter to my own soul. You can do the same, and then take the rest up with our good and great savior.









32 comments:

Robert said...

Thanks, Frank. This is why I am thankful for this blog and others like it. It is easy to fall into self-righteousness if you have lots of great doctrine and such... but when I start to really look in the mirror and apply Scripture, it hurts a bit.

In Isaiah 53, Scripture says that every one of us has turned to his/her own way. Meanwhile, Jesus lived a perfect life of righteousness in the flesh and took on the wrath of man and God in our place. My attitude should always be such that I can say far be it from me to look down upon others when I have so much sin of my own to deal with. I am grateful for the truth of the Gospel, though, because (sadly) my attitude is not like that nearly enough.

So thank you for helping to keep my focus where it needs to be. Grace and peace to you.

donsands said...

I was thinking this morning, and praying, "How can you use me Lord?" I really am quite the loser. Yet, there's the truth that Jesus had spikes hammered through His healing loving hands for me, and His presious feet that brought only good and wonderful news for sinners like us.

I wonder if John remembered and reminisced about seeing his Lord on the Cross bleeding and dying, or on the beach as the risen Lord cooking up breakfast. I'd think both.

Thanks for all the open letters. You are an excellent writer, with very good and deep thoughts. Keep on my brother.

Reformed and Renewed said...

Hi Frank, i run the risk of dissecting and over analyzing, your blog brings me a nice balance even though I do not often comment.
My prayer is to more like Jesus. Yet in many ordinary days being anything but. So I take the advice of our pastor and "keep short accounts with God" sin confessed and sin forsaken is the best route.

stratagem said...

I read these open letters for all three reasons listed, I admit.
I said it and I'm glad.

Frank Turk said...

This is why I love to hate you, and hate to love you, Strat.

Frank Turk said...

And before you ask: I'm not even sure what that means. So stand down.

stratagem said...

Fair enough for me!

Frank Turk said...

I think I meant to say that this is why I love to love you, and hate to hate you, and hate to love you, and love to hate you.

I drew up a grid to make sure I got them all this time.

stratagem said...

I believe you may only be angry about feeling guilty, because you're ashamed of being afraid. ha ha

DJP said...

The vessel with pessel has the pellet with the poison...

jmb said...

...The chalice in the palace has the brew that is true.

Mike Westfall said...

Well Frank, you've preached the Law to me today. I feel convicted for harboring schadenfreude while reading your open letters.

I do hope I can get some Gospel somewhere to assuage and mollify my guilt over this... Perhaps I'll try a Joel Osteen sermon. Yeah.

Frank Turk said...

I think I got the Gospel in the last sentence - for believers anyway, and plainly: that's who this letter is addressed to.

Rhology said...

then take the rest up with our good and great savior.

Actually, I'd rather spend the next 4 hours ripping you to shreds for something you said 3 years ago, Frank. Hope that's OK.

Kevin Sorensen said...

To quote from "The Princess Bride" – "I'm not sure that word means what you think it means."

I enjoyed the post and was encouraged by it myself, actually. However, your first sentence was troublesome (I read books to review and I proofread ordination papers, so bear with me here). "Briefly ... as my week is surfeit..."

I looked this word up (since I'm not sure I had heard it before or at least used in this context). Here's what I found:

surfeit |ˈsərfət|
noun [usu. in sing. ]
an excessive amount of something : a surfeit of food and drink.
• archaic an illness caused or regarded as being caused by excessive eating or drinking : he died of a surfeit.
verb ( -feited , -feiting ) [ trans. ] (usu. be surfeited with)
cause (someone) to desire no more of something as a result of having consumed or done it to excess : I am surfeited with shopping.
• [ intrans. ] archaic consume too much of something : he never surfeited on rich wine.

So Frank; what are you trying to tell us?

Frank Turk said...

My week feels like your stomach after a particularly-large meal: too full. It (my week) might throw up.

It might feel better if it threw up.

That's what I'm trying to say.

stratagem said...

Mr. Frank is saying he read too much this week, and feels like he is ready to toss his bookies.

Cathy M. said...

I read your open letters because they say things that I wish I were smart, articulate, and gutsy enough to say. You often help me to organize my own thoughts on a matter through your careful analysis. Do I see myself in the bullseye? Probably not as often as I aught. I'll stew on that a while... until your next open letter.

Jugulum said...

@Frank: To distill that into a tweet--check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves?

Jugulum said...

Also, Frank: This is the kind of post that makes me love you foremost amongst the watchbloggers. #ILoveYaMan #TongueInCheek #Mostly #WhyDon'tMorePeopleUseHashtagsOutsideTwitter

Frank Turk said...

#touche #haterGottaHate

John N said...

You gotta admire the Lutherans, they’ll have a L-aw / G-ospel complaint even on an open letter like this.

You now know why they all buy LG products :)

Jugulum said...

And a straightforward comment for those who don't share a predilection for irony and roundabout satirical points:

If we all consistently performed and heeded the gut-check you're talking about, it could cure us of the bad manifestations of "discernment ministry". It might be that the kind of heart you're pointing toward is the major difference between being a watchblogger and being a faithful shepherd of God's people. (And even those of us who only read blogs need to guard against a watchblogger, controversy-hungry mentality in how we read--even when the writer was writing in the right spirit.)

Eddie Eddings said...

Love the comments referring to (originally) the movie The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye.

patriciazell said...

God wants us to cleave to Him because He is our life (Deuteronomy 30:20, KJV). If we seek God with all that we have, everything else will take care of itself.

Tyrone said...

Thanks Frank...

trogdor said...

These letters were a whole lot more fun when I could pretend they were about those other guys and not about me.

Cindy Stokes said...

I can appreciate your post. I am a beginning blogger, but think I'm going to lose readers before I even gain them because I (on the advice of one of the Pyro Blogs, can't remember which) am reading John Owen on the Mortification of the Flesh and I'm about as uplifting as Ezekiel at this point because my heart has become so heavy. Totally relate. I feel like there are Monty Python characters out there saying "Blogging is supposed by an 'appy occasion!"

Frank Turk said...

The trick, of course, is to see your sin as God sees it: serious, damning, intrinsic, and resolved by Christ.

Cindy Stokes said...

Exactly...

Robert said...

Cindy,

You'll find the same type of reaction among family and friends who don't have a right view of God's holiness and man's sinfulness. My wife told my sister over the weekend that she is depraved and my sister was shocked that she said that. On the way home my mom was exlpaining by saying that type of description is usually used to describe people in red light districts and such. I stopped the conversation there and said that what she was saying indicated the whole problem. We try to put other people's sin in a worse catagory than our own, but all sin is active rebellion against God. Jesus told the Pharisees that tax collectors and prostitutes would be eating at the table with Abraham while most of them would be in the outer darkness.

Self-righteousness is an evil trap and denies that God is the only One Who is holy...and it also denies the need for Jesus living a perfect life and dying on the cross, and taking God's wrath, in our place. This is the problem with what is taught in most seeker sensitive churches...they tell you God loves you for who you are. In reality, God loves us in spite of who we are.

Cindy Stokes said...

Robert, thank you for your encouragement. The first time I talked to my mother-in-law about how God was convicting me of my wretchedness, she just had this horrified stare like I'd just gone horribly apostate. When God turns the light on, it is hard to understand why everyone else doesn't suddenly see things the way you do.

I was just reading Isaiah this morning and realized that I have been taught the Sermon on the Mount my whole life as some new kind of way to teach the law, all the "hyperbole" (which is not hyperbole, but simply a description of what is seen plain as day by the God who sees our hearts!!) The prophets constantly spoke of idolatry as harlotry and the passage that took me back this morning was in Isaiah 9, where God sees Israel's infighting as cannibalism. I was weeping the other day reading Jeremiah's condemnation of the preachers who spoke "peace" (also could be translated "prosperity") where there is no peace, but woundedness from head to toe. This is what we are seeing in a MAJORITY of american churches. Ugh!! Must go blog now about that I think. :)