Sometimes when you have the best of intentions and begin to confess old sins, you bump into resistance and stall out. It’s like cleaning the garage that I mentioned in the last post. You may spend a couple of hours in there and start to make headway, but then you give up and tell yourself you’ll get to it later.
When it comes to putting things right with other people, we can find many reasons to put it off for another day. What is it that stalls us out?
1. Pride stalls us out. If we confess our sin to our friend, we tell ourselves, then they will look down on us. It will blow their image of us. What will they think of us?
2. Fear stalls us out. We might lose our job or our standing or our position. The consequences are just too great.
3. Laziness keeps us from confessing. It’s just too much trouble, and it will take too much time.
4. The cost is too great. If we confess our sin, we might owe a hefty amount of money that we don’t have. Continue reading ‘Resistance’
This post is in answer to a comment/question addressed to Bekah on her post called “A Little Moralizing.” Here’s the question: How do you take care of old (unconfessed) sins that go back several years?
I think it’s very helpful to sit down with a pen and paper and just write them all down. One at a time. Name them the way God does. It’s amazing how many other things might come to mind as you do this. But just keep writing until you can’t think of any others. Now remember, these are the sins you have not yet put right. I am NOT saying to write down all the sins you already took care of. What a drag that would be.
Next sort them out. For example, let’s say you listed about five different times you were unkind to your mom. Sort them into the mom pile. Do the same with everything. Many of these sins will require a phone call or an email or a letter of apology. Maybe all of them will. Don’t get discouraged or distracted by the size of the pile.
After sorting them out, you must seek God’s forgiveness for each offense. Something like this: “Lord, I was unkind to my mom last spring when I told her to quit calling me. I was disrespectful and I dishonored her, which I know you hate. Please forgive me.” Go through the list even if it takes a while. Then when you’re finished, ask God if there are any more. If more come to mind, add them. If nothing else comes to mind, then thank God for His mercy and forgiveness. Continue reading ‘Confessing Old Sins’
So here’s a little something that you didn’t actually want to know about. I stepped on a piece of glass the other week. Just a tiny little shard – I didn’t even notice it when it happened.
Yes, I know you’re gripped. Dying to find out the end of this story. “Did she get it out I wonder? Did she find the tweezers?”
Well no as a matter of fact. I kinda vaguely knew there was something in my foot but I only noticed it if I stepped on it in just the right way. I was busy. It’s Christmas. And finals week. And all that. I didn’t even have time to actually let this little glass shard bubble up into my conscious thoughts. I sort of figured I would leave it alone and it would work itself out. Plus it’s in one of those awkward corners of the foot which you can’t get a good look at, no matter how you contort yourself.
Don’t worry. I’m coming to a point. As dramatic as this all is, and as much as this is a worthy tale in its own right, I’m working up to a metaphor so bear with. Continue reading ‘Some Moralizing’
Since the heavens declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1), and the firmament showeth His handiwork, surely we creatures can declare the same thing. The heavens are pointing to God, saying, “Look!” and our lives can and should do the same thing.
But how does this work? What are the heavens doing that we can imitate? The heavens, as far as I can tell, are simply doing what God created them to do. They shine. They obey His commands. The winds quiet down when He tells them to. They blow where He sends them. The sun rises and sets day after day according to His plan and purpose, and this is declares God’s glory.
So it follows from this that we creatures glorify God when we do what He has created us to do. When we assume the position to which He has assigned us, and joyfully embrace our duties, we are pointing to Him and bringing Him glory.
I think we want it to be more complicated. We want to do something fancy to bring Him glory, and the mundane doesn’t seem important enough. But that is where we go wrong. When I was fresh out of college, I “told” God that I would go anywhere for Him. “Send me to India. I’ll go to the ends of the earth. Just get me out of Moscow.” It sounded very humble to offer to go somewhere far away. But it was actually very me-centered. I had a condition for God! And of course, I’ve been (happily) in Moscow ever since. I had to get at that un-surrendered territory in my heart and offer it to God as well. I thought that serving God would somehow be more significant or important or meaningful somewhere else, anywhere else. But He wanted me at my post right where I was.
Restlessness, dissatisfaction, and discontent can keep us from glorifying God right where we are. Are you unmarried? Newly married? A mother of one or a mother of many? Are you sick in bed? Do you have time on your hands? Do you have way too much to do? Look at your duties right where you are and don’t offer to go somewhere else. Do these things cheerfully with an eye to God’s glory. Shine. Blow where He tells you to blow. And quiet down when He says to hush up. This is what brings God glory.
A volunteer is someone who is under no obligation or requirement to perform a task, but freely and willingly steps forward and offers to do it. I imagine that many churches (if not all) could not get nearly as much done without the help of many volunteers. These folks often work behind the scenes, and so they do not get much recognition for their work. But they don’t do it for that reason anyway (we hope) but simply because they love to be useful, to chip in and donate their time and effort in countless ways.
Two kinds of volunteers come to mind: the first is someone who simply steps in to do things informally as they come up; the second is the one who signs up when the list is passed around or the email plea for help is sent out. Both provide valuable services to the church family or community in which they live.
So what am I getting at with all this prelude about volunteers? I am warming up to address a couple of troubles with volunteers. The first trouble is the undue pressure some feel to volunteer. They are motivated by guilt, so they say they will do something because they want to be known by others as a giving person. (Don’t we all?) But guilt is a crummy motivator, and Continue reading ‘Volunteers Who Don’t’
As tempting as it is to come up with ten New Year’s Resolutions, I thought better of it, and I decided to consider Psalm 90:12 instead. Maybe I can come up with ten things to learn from this short verse.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (KJV).
Or in the NKJV: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
1. Apparently we must be taught to number our days, because otherwise we naively think we have an unlimited supply. The calendars just keep whizzing by, year after year, and we think nothing of it. But God has put a lesson on the board, and we are to learn it.
2. It is also clear from this prayer that the psalmist assumes God is the only suitable teacher for this material. No one else is capable because no one else understands it. We just don’t get it. We need the Holy Spirit to do His work so we will learn this important, central, vital lesson. In other words, this is a big deal, not a minor detail.
3. The end of this teaching is wisdom. We don’t learn to count down how many days we have left on this earth so that we can party to the end. We are looking for wisdom here. Wisdom is what we want and obviously need, and it doesn’t just grow on trees. We must be taught. That means sitting down at our desk and licking our pencil. Continue reading ‘Counting our Days’