“I Ain’t Confessin’ Nuthin’”

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Nowadays, we talk about transparency. But for centuries, it was called confession. It’s the idea of telling another Jesus-follower your failures and misdeeds. Confessing sin to one another was a huge part of the early church and perhaps a big part of its profound power and influence. Over the years, public confession was replaced by private confession . . . usually to a priest. He was ‘safe’ . . . faceless and anonymous.  It’s usually easier to confess to a professional than to a regular person, especially a friend . . . someone you’ll see often ­­and you fear may judge you for your failures. But Christian community was (and is) the best place for bringing our darkest ‘stuff’ into the light. Here’s a piece from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together . . .

In confession there takes place a breakthrough to community. Sin wants to be alone with people. It takes them away from the community. The more lonely people become, the more destructive the power of sin over them. The more deeply they become entangled in it, the more unholy is their loneliness. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of what is left unsaid sin poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and closed isolation of the heart. Sin must be brought into the light. What is unspoken is said openly and confessed. All that is secret and hidden comes to light. It is a hard struggle until the sin crosses one’s lips in confession. But God breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron (Ps. 107:16) Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of another Christian, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders, giving up all evil, giving the sinner’s heart to God and finding the forgiveness of all one’s sin in the community of Jesus Christ and other Christians. Sin that has been spoken and confessed has lost all of its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear apart the community.

Confessing to God in private or to an anonymous person might make us feel better, but it doesn’t always help us do better. To quote John Lynch in The Cure . . .

What if there was a place so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would not be loved less, but more in the telling of it?

It’s counterintuitive but public confession . . . confession among Jesus-followers, yields respect, not shame. We connect with each other’s humanity but, more importantly, we connect in a common gratitude for His pervasive forgiveness and amazing grace.

If you don’t have a friend or a group who knows your dark corners . . . where you can confess that last 10% nobody knows about you and your heart, start asking God to connect you. Don’t stop looking until you find that ‘safe place’ . . . where trust is total and nothing is hidden.

Scripture: I am sending you to them, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17b-18)

We Wait

Reposted from Spark from afar

“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14, NLT

Some of us are good in waiting. We can wait patiently… years and years even… but then sometimes, we misread the verse. We change it to “wait patiently for your dreams to come true” or “wait patiently for the answers to your prayers” or we change it to any phrase that suits our own satisfaction. The verse clearly said, “wait patiently for the LORD” and it was even repeated twice in case we didn’t get it,Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

Yes, for the LORD. I think disappointments come when we are waiting for the wrong things. Don’t get me wrong, waiting for the fulfillment of our dreams is fantastic but if we are just so locked-in to our this-is-how-it-should-be attitude then where’s the room for GOD to work? Oh it’s not easy. It’s a battle day in and day out and that’s why in between the verse it said, “be brave and courageous”. Be brave for things may not go as we prayed for. Be courageous as we might have to wait longer than we planned for.

Wait patiently for the LORD. I think it’s like, “Ok GOD, these are my desires. These are how I hope things would be… but do as You please. May I see how You see things and may I always grow in the process. Let me wait and listen on what You are telling me, see what You are showing  me… and be brave to heed Your voice and be courageous to do as You will. Let my heart always stay aligned to Yours.”

I think the verse itself said it, waiting is part of the process… We all know that but what or who we are waiting for should always be part of the equation. We (patiently) wait for the LORD.

Listen to my voice in the morning, LordEach morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3, NLT

Handling Regrets

Reposted from The River Walk

I wouldn’t go around calling myself old just yet. Granted, I’m no spring chicken. One of my second graders the other day said to me, “Teacher BJ. Your chin. It is white.” I gave her a look of mock horror and said, “Get it out!” She giggled, plucked a white hair out of my chin. That would have been bad enough, but she then started counting out how many other white hairs she saw. It was not encouraging how easily she spotted them and how high she could have counted if I had not stopped her. She might have gone beyond her English ability and switched into Turkish if I had let it go on. Sigh.

So I might not be old, but I do have enough years behind me to have accumulated quite a few memories. Some of those memories are great. Others, well, not so much. I’ve said a few things I regret. I’ve done a few things I regret. I was fired more than once in my past and there is no question in hindsight that it was my fault. I was young and stupid once. Now I am not quite as young and hopefully a little wiser, but I am still prone to make dumb mistakes.

Fortunately, none of my mistakes involve adultery. I haven’t yet killed anyone to cover up my indiscretions. So obviously, I am a much godlier man than King David, right? No?

One of the things that always gets me is how David is continuously looked at in the future annals of the kings of Israel and Judah. When a king was good, they would record, “He served the Lord wholeheartedly as David did.” When they were just ok, “They served the Lord, but not as wholeheartedly as David.” And this wasn’t just something said in the distant future where the past can be easily glossed over. When the prophet confront’s David’s son Solomon, he says, “You have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted.”

Seriously? Always? Is he talking about the same guy we are reading of here? This David had horrible parenting skills. For years he made a living going into towns, robbing them blind, and then killing them to a man so that no witnesses to his crime could give him away. He nearly wiped out an entire household for a slight. He was a polygamist. He was an adulterer. He was a murderer. In spite of all this God says David was a man after His own heart. Why?

Probably the best lesson we can learn from David is how to handle our regrets. I am one to try and hide them. I don’t ever want anyone to find out about what I did and I am even dumb enough to try and hide it from God. That said, I also tend to dwell on those failures far too much in my own mind and I have this insane notion that my past regrets disqualify me from future obedience. It was four and a half years after being fired from one church before I was working in another. While I was serving God during that time in other ways, I had mistakenly convinced myself that I had closed off that opportunity for the future. I had disqualified myself.

How many of us continue to do the same thing today? How slowly do we repent when we fail? Do we even repent? Then, once we have laid our guilt at the cross how much longer do we continue to drag around our shame? What great adventures is God calling us onward to but we won’t listen because the noise of our own regrets drowns out His voice? David was a man after God’s own heart. This isn’t because he was perfect. He messed up. He messed up big and often. But when he did, he repented quick and moved forward in obedience. God, help us to do the same.