Chapter Seven

Please forgive me for sinning against you

Okay, I wrapped up chapter six about talking with others about emotional, even spiritual pain in the past. Now this is a bit different.

To start with, I have done this very thing—asking someone I harmed in the past to forgive me, and to be honest I am experiencing some unpleasant emotions right now. I recall a time or two when I was glad I made the confession and asked for forgiveness, but then I did not adequately calculate the repercussions and caused further harm. It is very unpleasant to even recall those instances.

To engage someone whom I have damaged in some way or another in the the process of confession and requesting forgiveness requires careful consideration. For one thing, we must be sure we are doing this for the other persons sake and not our own. It is not enough just to get things off one’s chest, so to speak. Our concern is for the other person who has been sinned against.

Some examples first: A person who has been cheated financially, taken sexual advantage of, been defamed due to rumors or lies, ignored or rejected under difficult circumstances, promises ignored with loss following, and many more, are some of the conditions when asking for forgiveness is acceptable. However, asking for forgiveness might just open up the wounds again. Sometimes ignored and forgotten is best.

But, and this is a big but, asking forgiveness can go a long way to healing relationships gone awry.

My Years as a Tongues Speaker

Chapter 8

Prior to 2 a.m. on a winter night late in 1968 at Soul Inn (the story of which is yet to come), I had consigned anything to do with Pentecostalism to the nether regions, meaning that I thought such was error or even outright demonic. After that night, I was a tongues speaker until 1975. When I ceased speaking in tongues, I continued to hold to its validity, as well as the validity of all the other charismatic gifts. It is simply that I stopped speaking in tongues, a ceasing I cannot explain.

I am not a “cessationist,” defined as someone who believes that the charismatic gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12—at least the “power gifts” like speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miracles—are no longer operative and are also unnecessary after the publication of the Bible. I never bought that idea, because I did not clearly see it in Scripture. I was tempted to advocate it, however, when distortions of the charismatic gifts, especially prophecy, became all too flagrant.

On the other hand, neither am I a “continuationist.” I am better described, at the present time, as a “semi-cessationist” and a “semi-continuationist” and all at once, but I reserve the right to change my mind. What I mean is that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are operative, but mostly in awakenings, and during “normal” times they recede. My position is based on two things. One, this was my experience with the JPM, and I am not the only piece of evidence; rather, I have found that my tongue speaking, and the definite beginning and ending thereof, is characteristic of many. Two, I have found in my research into awakenings in America and elsewhere that the same may be observed in some of them.

Early on in the Jesus Movement (a designation originating from where, I do not know), we called ourselves “Street Christians.” Our fields of labor were the streets of the big cities. For me it was San Francisco, specifically the Haight-Ashbury District, where the young and restless were looking to expand their minds and explore esoteric spiritualities, and where sex and dope could be found in abundance. Sex and dope went hand in hand and likely became motivators for the majority, but there were definitely those who wanted to find God and assumed He was not to be found in the American churches. The causes for this are beyond the scope of this piece, but to identify with a “church” was not the thing to do then.

I was a Baptist, but I mentioned this to very few people. For a while, I avoided the term “Christian” as well. “A follower of Jesus” is how I described myself. Eastern religions were big, Buddhism more than Hinduism, but there was the Hare Krishna thing, and the Beatles made TM (Transcendental Meditation) popular for a time (One day I ran into George Harrison of the Beatles. He was wearing glasses with thick red heart shaped lenses. I said hello and noticing the glasses wondered how he could even see through them. I learned later that day that he had visited the devotees at the Hare Krishna Temple.) There were many “isms” vying for attention, and all of them were foreign and new to me. During 1967, I received so many rejections, beatings, and threats, that I felt like giving up and concentrating my efforts in Byron, but I remained sure that God had called me; I did not discourage easily.

Sometime in 1968 news coverage circulated of what was going on. Some reporter used the phrase “Jesus Freak,” a tag I did not appreciate and rejected in favor of “Street Christian.” A more friendly term, “Jesus People,” was coined along the way, and I more gladly adopted that one. Later on, the whole awakening thing going on across the country was termed the ‘Jesus People Movement’ or JPM. This worked for almost everyone.

It is not clear to me when I realized that what I had been involved in was unusual. During my seminary years the great revivals of religion were taught, but I had no idea that the JPM was actually one of those. It was only in looking back at it that I realized that the JPM was an awakening like the great awakenings America had previously experienced, and this realization came primarily through reading the
books of David Martin Lloyd-Jones and, above all, Iain Murray.

In my book, Awakenings in America and the Jesus People Movement, I attempt to demonstrate that the JPM meets the requirements for inclusion in America’s great awakenings (see

“Jesus freak” was not a term of derision, as it turned out. Everyone who sought after more than could be found on main street USA was a freak of some sort, even if it did not involve sex, dope, or far out religion. Artist, poet, musician, writer, occultist, astrologer, psychic, Satanist, monk, wanderer—these and more were considered part of the freakiness that seemed to offer more. I was not really one of these, as I had already found what I had not even been looking for. The fact is that I was a babe in the woods when it came to the hip lifestyle. I was too old to be a “teeny bopper” and felt out of place at times. I was closer to a would-be beatnik, but I soon learned how the hippie life worked.

Shipwreck, chapter Six

What ministry or outreach might be open to you now?

Though I have hinted at possibilities before, let’s take it a little further.

            There has been a time or two when people acquainted with my failures/struggles have shown up at the church I pastor to see if there may not be hope for them also. They feel secure with the thought they will not be rejected or ignored. In the most recent event of this nature the person did not announce himself, describe his situation, whine, blame, or complain but simply got involved a little at a time. In time we talked, and I found out all I needed to know.

            That last sentence is somewhat important. I do not need to know the details, and I do not ask for them. If the details emerge, all right, but it is not necessary. I find it helpful to avoid my natural curiosity or prurient interest in how or “who done it.” Yes, I am concerned to protect the congregation from anything of a predatory nature, and if information is revealed in the person’s past history, then I want to discuss this, but in a manner that is not a deal breaker for the person’s recovery.

            Let me simply say that I have likely heard it all, or close to it. A reader might suppose I am looking for sexual stuff, affairs, homosexuality, child molestation, rape, and so on. And these are indeed serious and must be dealt with at some point before any kind of ministry opens up. I heard someone say decades ago, “Truth is communicated across a bridge of love.” This form of love, this agape love, is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13. It, as the old Jesus People chorus has it, is to “save each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.”

            Dignity can be so thoroughly trashed that chronic depression sets in and never or nearly ever goes away. Dignity is that sense of ourselves that we are loved by God and, though erring, are yet in the Family of God and cherished. Pride, not the selfish sort of thing where we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but that sense of ourselves as worthy in Christ and not in ourselves, is where we can go. Dignity and pride: these are both worth preserving and building upon, as they are crucial elements in recovery from serious failure.

            Now then, some thoughts on how to go about taking the risk of serving the Lord once again in an active and public manner despite failure. First of all, this is approached a little at a time, taking baby steps, rebuilding confidence slowly over a period of time.

            In the context of an actual congregation, I find that the choir is great for this, maybe a praise band, or something akin. Ushering, perhaps clean-up, set-up, take-down, practical things that are relatively safe to do. By safe I mean that there are fewer chances for criticism due to inconsistency, absence, or getting things confused. With support and instruction, a former preacher/teacher can be re-introduced to these, but here the possibility for a failure grows exponentially. When one stands before the congregation as a worship leader, Scripture reader, Bible teacher, or Gospel preacher, much more is expected even demanded. Here now is when the mentor, even if considerably younger than the mentee, plays a large role but one I cannot spell out here.

            Outside a congregational setting the possibilities are many and varied. There is blogging, podcasting, and various social media platforms to utilize, but these do not provide the person-to-person contact that many hope for. That aside, it may be a place to start. In the community there are hospitals, hospices, retirement communities, and a myriad of other volunteer opportunities. There are para-church ministries, rescue missions, evangelistic outreaches, prison ministries, and the list goes on. Google searches can open up a world unknown.

            Let me re-emphasize; before we start anew, we must be careful to be sure we have recovered sufficiently to trust ourselves and not betray the trust of others. Here we must be honest with ourselves. And there should obviously be at least one other person who knows who we are and to whom we can be accountable.

The Crucifixion

Luke 23:26–43

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         Early Friday morning, Jesus is being taken to be crucified, and being weakened by being beaten, cannot carry the crossbeam, and a man named Simon is made to carry that part of the T shaped cross.

2.         A large crowd is following the procession and Jesus speaks to them. And it is a ‘lament,’        as Jesus speaks of a great time of sadness and devastation to come. This would be some 40 years in the future, the destruction of Jerusalem and the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

3.         Two other convicts were to be crucified alongside Jesus at the Skull or Cranium in Greek. The first of seven words Jesus speaks while on the cross, is a request to the Father to forgive those who are responsible for crucifying Him.

4.         The soldiers rolled dice to see who would get Jesus clothes, exactly as prophesied in Isaiah. And all the while the ruler and soldiers mocked Him.

5.         Luke tells us of the inscription on a piece of wood that would be attached above Jesus’ head on the cross that stated the reason for the execution, which was common practice.

6.         One of the two criminals railed at Jesus while the other did just the opposite; he knew Jesus had done nothing wrong and said so. This man acknowledged who Jesus was and asked Him to remember him when He came in His kingdom.

Is it Okay

Chapter Six

Is it all right to talk with friends and family about past troubling events?

This is a difficult question indeed. Yes and No would have to be the answer. Yes when it would be safe, and No when it may not be.

When would it not be safe? Perhaps this would be when a person was not emotionally and spiritually strong enough to hear of what might be unpleasant. There has been a time or two, when I was much younger, that it hurt me to hear of events that involved close family members. I needed to know these things, I guess, but it impacted me negatively. I would say that there are some things that need go unreported.

There have been times in my life when I had to shut up about stuff I knew about family members. Just sitting here in front of my computer a couple, of instances rolled through my mind. Sometimes it might be better just to let things ride. Yes, it might be of some relief to get things out, but damage to others could be the result. I am suggesting that there be time spent in prayer, and careful consideration taken before making decisions.

So the “no” part is complicated. Actually it is all complicated. This is a “weak” chapter because I am uncertain of what I should write here.

Concluding this brief piece, let me say that one needs to be careful about revealing that which might best be forgotten and hidden. Based on my own counselling years both as a therapist and a pastor, revelations of a serious nature might well do more harm than good.

I would quite easily state however, that if someone has a need to talk about past events, it would be time to go to a professional or to someone who is not connected to the events. Over the years, as a pastor, some 52 years plus now, I have heard many an unhappy story, which needed to be gotten out into the light of day but must not go any further.

We may well have to sit on tales that yet cause pain, and I think this is what maturity is about, the strength to know the horrors of past events and turn the pain over to our Lord who is always ready to listen. Yes, He is the great counsellor.

The Green Suitcase

Chapter 7

Few knew it, and many do not know it now, but I am essentially shy, triggered by an event when I was a kid of fifteen and heard my dear Aunt Cleo say (she didn’t know I was in ear shot), “Well, Kent, he is kind of homely.”

My family hails from the Sand Hills of northwestern Nebraska, and “homely” was a word I heard from time to time. Since I really was just a skinny little kid with big ears, I internalized the idea that I was funny looking, so I avoided ever dating a girl or going to a dance while I was in high school. Although an average student and a fairly good athlete, I nevertheless acquired a kind of shyness. It is with me to this day.

So, there I was on Haight Street in the winter of 1967, and it scared me. Here were all these hipster types looking and acting weirdly in their multi-colored, strange clothing and long scraggly hair, and I didn’t know how to approach them. I wanted to, and inside of me was a desire to tell them about Jesus, but I could not bring myself to do it. What to do? I had nothing, no Gospel tracts or New Testaments to hand out yet, so I walked up and down the sidewalks of several streets trying to get up courage to talk with someone.

Walking toward Masonic Street on Haight one day probably in March, I spied a scruffy kid sitting on the curb, and beside him was a battered green suitcase. I noticed a number of similar kids with sleeping bags and old suitcases (back packs came later) around the district, and I knew they were new arrivals.

This happened before the days of my journal writing, so I don’t know the kid’s name or too much more about him, but what I do remember is that I worked up enough courage to sit down next to him on the curb, which was a big deal at that point.

I said “hi” and waited. I told him my name. Nothing. I asked, “How you doing?” He started to cry. With the dam now broken, he told me his story—how he had read about “it” all in the papers and wanted to give it a try. He didn’t want to go into the Army either, so he headed out west. His parents didn’t know where he was.

This kid thought he was a Christian; yes, I did start to tell him about Jesus. He listened politely, did not get upset, and told me he had gotten saved as a little kid. I asked him if he was sure. He said no. I asked him if he wanted to make sure. He said yes. We prayed the traditional sinner’s prayer.

The rest of the story is pretty simple. I called his parents, they talked to their boy, and in about an hour he was on his way home on a Greyhound Bus.

Wow, I thought, that was easy. So, I kept this up for the next three-plus years. That battered green suitcase often came to mind while sending yet another young boy or girl homeward bound on the bus. It was wonderful. If I had had any sense of the future, I would have taken pictures, but it simply did not seem like a big deal to me to send prodigals back home. I hope it meant something to many parents who graciously received them back.

Chapter 5, Rebuilding and Restoring

Now first of all, the wrecked ship needs restoring and repairing. The damaged hulk will have to be dragged off the rocks and hauled to a safe place for rebuilding and restoring. No such place may be available, which is not unusual. There are generally few resources to cover the costs of the time and money involved. There is often absolutely no help at all.

Christian leaders may actually want to be out from underneath the pressures that go with ministry. They may create a crisis, even on an subconscious level, which effectively forces an end to a ministry. This, in fact, describes many leadership failures. In such circumstances, the minister may eventually, after rebuilding, long to be back in action—somehow, somewhere.

Most people do not realize the pressures weighing on a minister, especially the pastor of a congregation. The pastor/teacher is carrying a load that few are aware of. Pastors rarely feel as though they are succeeding and are mostly aware of what is not getting done. They are painfully acquainted with people who are hurting and whom they do not seem to be able to help and encourage. Other care giving professionals rely on creating distance from those they serve, but this does not work in Christian ministry. The load is upon the shoulders, and it never lets up. How many pastors actually commit suicide is unknown, but from what I have gathered, it is a small but quantifiable percentage, nevertheless. It is then obvious the size of the rebuilding job that may be necessary.

There are many ways to serve our Lord Jesus other than pastoring a church. Though the church is a vital venue for service, it is not the only one. It may be publishing, writing, evangelism, serving abroad in difficult places; it may be as simple as handing bulletins to worshipers on Sunday morning. Over the years, I have found a number of those who were drummed out of the professional ministry, and some of them for good reason, who created businesses of one kind or another and therein found ways to count and witness. Whatever it may be, there will be a place to work for the Kingdom. The manager of the vineyard will find work for any who want it, even for those who show up late.

Our concern here now is rebuilding and restoration. I have learned that healing from a catastrophic collapse is not simply accomplished. Perhaps it will be a lonely and private struggle, as some Christian communities practice effective shunning techniques. Or, due to circumstances, there may be no time or money for such.

Ministers who must suddenly leave their place of employment are often without resources. What then? Here is where the internet might be helpful. If drugs or alcohol are involved, there are Twelve Step programs, which can be wonderful. These folks know what it is to stumble and to do so badly. They will be welcoming and affirming. Within the broad range of groups within the Twelve Step family are also groups that involve issues other than substance abuse. And there are men’s groups of all sorts. Some of these can be discovered on

There are Christian congregations that have mature believers who can be counted on, even among churches that are Christ-centered and biblically faithful. Christianity is far from a cookie-cutter phenomenon. It takes searching, asking, phoning, whatever it takes—but the point is, no one can do it alone. Even those who take up a monkish lifestyle and head for the desert or a mountain to pray, meditate, reflect, repent, and go back to basics—this is only a beginning. The Church, the blood-bought community of faith, that gathering where Jesus walks in its midst, is the place of ultimate healing.

After a crisis some Christian leaders fall apart and apparently, seemingly, depart from the faith. I have seen plenty of this. I had also seen that some of these “fallen” often make a comeback at some point. This is more often the case than one of no return. Once born again from above and one is a son or daughter of God, this does not change. Parents know that whatever happens, their kids are still their kids. Is it not so with the Father—does He not continue to love His erring and damaged children? Will He not lead them out of sin and its consequences and into green pastures? You know the answer, at least in your head if not in your heart.

Let us examine, briefly, some helpful passages of Scripture that speak to our issue.

James 5:19–20 reads:

[19] My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, [20] let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (ESV)

James, half-brother of Jesus, who many think was the first pastor of the first Christian congregation in Jerusalem, whose letter is likely the very first inspired document to emerge from the Christian Church, speaks to the issue of shipwreck very directly. The “if” in the first sentence is a conditional clause of the third class and is predicting the high probability of an event where someone wanders from the truth. To wander or stray from the truth is certainly a shipwreck scenario. Pastor James was concerned about such brother and sisters and encourages members of the flock to bring them back, the result of which is of the highest good.

James does not consider these wandering sheep as hopelessly lost at all. Perhaps echoing the teaching of the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine and goes out searching for the single lost lamb, he actually concludes his general pastoral letter with this beautiful, sensitive, and realistic admonition.

In 1 Timothy 3:1–13, we find Paul’s qualifications for overseers and deacons. The lists are formidable indeed: above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, a good manager of his household, have submissive children, not a recent convert, well thought of by non-Christians, dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy, having a thorough understanding of the Faith, tested beforehand so as to prove themselves blameless, and with wives who are dignified, not slanderers, sober-minded, and faithful in all things.

It might also be helpful to look at 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12 as well.

My thinking is that if anyone of us in Christian leadership was to sober-mindedly examine these qualifications, we would have to resign immediately. The calling is extraordinarily high, and this is in addition to loving the Lord our God with all we are and our neighbor as ourselves!

As I write this section, I cannot help but say to myself, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5) Then the angel of God assured Isaiah, to whom the words were directed, that by the grace and mercy of God he was forgiven and by that grace he would fulfill his calling.

By my own strength I can only fail. Though appearing outwardly like I am faithful and obedient, I would know, and I do know, that I do not measure up. Though I may often be briefly commendable, to be honest, I do not qualify. The issue is that no one does, and those who do not know this about themselves are like a mine in the minefield. Am I too harsh in my judgment after fifty-two years in pastoral ministry? I think not.

Pilate Delivers Jesus to be Crucified

Luke 23:13–25

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         Again the chief priests and the rulers, and now including “the people,” are before Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea.

2.         Pilate declares, that after examining Jesus, he finds no fault in Him, and this for the second time. And Pilate says that in addition, Herod had found no fault either.

3.         Pilate hopes to assuage the Jesus’ accusers by punishing Him, and Matthew, Mark, and John say this is a scourging, which often resulted in the death of the one badly beaten.

4.         The opposers say no to this, they want Him crucified, which is the meaning of “away with this man.”

Instead they want a man named Barabbas, a name that means “son of a father” or could also mean “Rabbi” to be set free instead.

5.         Barabbas had led an insurrection against Rome, many others had done the same, and he would have been crucified had not the tradition of releasing a person sentenced to death on the Feast of Passover been fulfilled by releasing him.

6.         Pilate then for a third time tried to release Jesus, saying again that he could find no fault in Him. But His opponents screamed to have Him crucified.

7.         Pilate gave in, had Barabbas freed, and then gave Jesus over to His enemies. This took place about 8am on Friday morning.

In Invitation

Hello Everyone,

Almost 15 years ago I started to write an essay titled “Why I Decided Not to Kill Myself.” It was a time, after my second divorce, that I began to be haunted with thoughts about committing suicide. After setting out my experiences on paper, it occurred to me that others might be going through the same thing I was.  

Therefore, I sent out, via email, an invitation to others to send me a short piece about their struggles. And some came in. 

Now, taking up where I left off those years ago, my wife Katie and I have pretty much finished what we call a booklet with that very title. And then we thought we would send out an invitation to others to send us a short description of their struggles with thoughts of ending their lives.

This booklet is Christian oriented because it was my relationship with Jesus that kept me alive. 

If you would like to send in a short account of your own struggles, we welcome it, and you would not have to include your name. Send it to Kent and Katie Philpott

An Invitation

Hello Everyone,

Almost 15 years ago I started to write an essay titled “Why I Decided Not to Kill Myself.” It was a time, after my second divorce, that I began to be haunted with thoughts about committing suicide. After setting out my experiences on paper, it occurred to me that others might be going through the same thing I was.  

Therefore, I sent out, via email, an invitation to others to send me a short piece about their struggles. And some came in. 

Now, taking up where I left off those years ago, my wife Katie and I have pretty much finished what we call a booklet with that very title. And then we thought we would send out an invitation to others to send us a short description of their struggles with thoughts of ending their lives.

This booklet is Christian oriented because it was my relationship with Jesus that kept me alive. 

If you would like to send in a short account of your own struggles, we welcome it, and you would not have to include your name. Kent and Katie Philpott