February 21, 2018
- Wed Feb 21, 2018
If we confess our sis, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
It is true that all our sins were forgiven at the cross. Every sin past, present and future was hidden forever from the eyes of God. But this does not mean that confession has outlived its purpose. We are still sinners.
Change is impossible until a man is willing to confess his actions. Why does God have us confess? Simple, because confession puts an end to self-deception and replaces it with humility — the one quality required in order for us to continue our sanctification process. The original word for humility in the New Testament pictures something that is pliable or flexible. So when the Bible says that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6), it makes perfect sense: Humility shows a willingness to be guided by God, to be moldable, to be flexible enough to confess our failings in or to gain character transformation. The idea of character change and its linked to confession is vividly illustrated in the life of Jacob in the Old Testament. From the time Jacob was young, he had lived up to his name, which meant “deceiver” or “manipulator.” He schemed, connived, and took advantage of people before running from responsibility. I’m glad that our names today are not given because of our character flaws. If this were the case I would have been toast.
After God literally pinned Jacob and got him to confess his name (in other words, confess his character problem), the story reads: The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel…” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face,” (Genesis 32:28-30). God did not give up on Jacob; He changed his name to Israel which meant “Prince of God.” God saw Jacob’s potential and not his past. God saw a prince of God within a deceiver.
Father, You have provided a way of escaping my selfishness.
February 20, 2018
- Tue Feb 20, 2018
“Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, and I groaned all day long. Psalm 32:3
Have you ever wondered if your child moonlights as a criminal defense attorney? I sure have, especially after hearing my kids’ creative excuses over the years, even when I’ve caught one of them with a hand in the proverbial cookie jar. I’ve heard some amazing defenses.
“Ryan did you hit Cara?” His older sister is holding her reddened face and crying.
“She started it,” Ryan says as he crosses his arms in defense.
“Then why is she crying?”
“We were just playing.”
I go for the kill. “Is something you did the reason she is crying? Yes or No?
Finally with no wiggle room left, Ryan caves in with a muted yes.
I’m not interested in a conviction; I want Ryan to take responsibility. I want him to confess to the mistake and own up to it more quickly the next time around. That’s why a dose of fatherly admonishment makes the exchange an uncomfortable but necessary experience for him.
I’m sure my heavenly Father stifles a laugh when he watches me disciplining my son. Talk about the blind leading the blind! But I’ve learned that what ultimately assuages my pain is the sincere act of confessing my wrongdoing to Him.
Father, Confession is good for the soul and bad for the reputation, but not with You! Thanks for loving me, sins and all.
February 19, 2018
- Mon Feb 19, 2018
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Have you ever noticed that when God uses a crisis to get your attention, He doesn’t solve that crisis right away? I’ve witnessed many occasions at which He seems to let things roll on for a long time while waiting to see whether a man will continue to trust Him.
During my financial free fall, God waited until I hit bottom before I turned to Him and submitted to His character-carving process as well as the practical steps toward good financial stewardship. It took two long years of watching every penny before Chrissy and I mailed the last payment on the last credit card. I remember asking God to speed things up a little as we chipped away at that twenty-thousand dollar mountain of debt. Those prayers went lovingly unanswered, and a different message came back to me: Did you get into debt supernaturally? The Lord seemed to ask.
It isn’t until we understand that God is a God of love and that he loves His children perfectly, that we begin to understand the waiting times in our lives. God always works on a “Needs to Know” basis. He loves us so very much that he causes us to trust that love whatever way works best for His children.
My son Ryan wanted one of those Razor scooters. I decided to hold off on it, waiting for a lesson teaching event. Sure enough, a couple of weeks passed and my wife told me about how Ryan had given up something for a less fortunate friend that day. When Ryan came home from school I reminded him to go up and clean his room before he went out to play. He opened the door and there stood a brand new shiny Razor scooter.
Father, thank you for your perfectly timed love for me.
February 18, 2018
- Sun Feb 18, 2018
Instant Versus Progressive
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10
When I became a Christian in 1982, I found it relatively easy to put together the appearance of a committed follower of Christ. My days as an adolescent and my focus on appearances had taught me how to build a new image. In my high-school year book, there is a picture of me holding a beer mug, wearing a lampshade for a hat, and sporting a Groucho Marx nose-and-glasses disguise. The title under my picture read “Kenny Luck, life of the party.” The caption should have read “Best Actor”. I learned that if I could make people laugh they would like me.
I have since learned that all men are good at creating and building images of themselves to be accepted. We find it easy to utilize the necessary appearances, props, and equipment so that we can project our act to the viewing audience. Intuitive observation of how other Christians acted brought me the message that I needed to read the Bible when I became a believer in Christ, most importantly I had to be able to quote it. Besides reading a heavy concordance version of the Bible, I had to go to church a lot because that was where the action was and where “good Christians” needed to be. Speaking of action, Christian service also was critical to the whole package.
Well into my Christian fast track, however, certain character flaws and inner conflicts kept this question begging in my subconscious: Why aren’t you changing, for the better? I still had so many faults, habits, character flaws. I made the fatal mistake that countless Christians make. That is, figuring that my conversion fundamentally changed my character traits (who I was and how I would react under pressure) all at the same time that I accepted Christ into my life. I’m in a process of God teaching me on a “needs to know basis.”
Father, you are using every circumstance in my life to perfect me.
February 17, 2018
- Sat Feb 17, 2018
Character or Comfort
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
At a men’s retreat, my church surveyed 550 men with the following question: What causes you to disconnect from God on a continual, habitual, or fatal basis? More than 90 percent of the men indicated (anonymously) that lust, porn and sexual fantasy were their top reasons for spiritual disconnection. Many men took advantage of the survey’s anonymity to reveal their involvement in love affairs, their compulsive addition to pornography, and the inner struggles that plague their consciences and drain their spirits. Shockingly, more than fifty men at the retreat admitted that they were having — or have had — an extramarital affair. Equally shocking was the fact that the majority of the men were serving in key leadership positions throughout the church.
My point? You are not alone when you admit that you have something less than sexual integrity. At a staff Christmas party, Derek’s wife witnessed firsthand the bonds he had formed with several ladies a work. They acted as if she weren’t even there — by now they talked with him and even placed their hands on him. He hadn’t stepped over the physical line with them but his wife didn’t see this as acceptable behavior. Actually, it gave her the ammunition she needed to spring her own ambush and subsequent departure from the marriage.
Men, we are watchmen who must stand guard and diligently screen what we allow into our hearts for consumption. Otherwise, the full cycle of good intention, failure, and guilt repeats itself and will keep repeating itself until a final, painful event that leads to devastation. The big issues that impact our spiritual health and relationships require more than just abstaining from certain behaviors or words. It is an issue of the heart, mind, and soul.
Father, thank you for the strength given to protect my sexual integrity.