“Confession Is Good For the Soul”

Good morning. Today is Thursday, March 7, 2013. I woke up to the news that Alvin Lee, of Ten Years After, has died at the age of 68. Not a happy way to start the day.

Today is National Crown Roast of Pork Day. I’ve never heard of this, but it looks pretty good.stuffed-crown-roast-of-pork It’s not likely that we will be preparing one of these today.

Yesterday was a pretty typical day around here. Work, then home, then gym. Not much else to report. I had allergies pretty bad all day yesterday, after waking up sneezing at around 4am. It’s better this morning. I don’t know if the pollen is lower, or if my defenses have adapted, or it was the fake Nyquil I took last night (I have finally figured out that the difference between brand names and generics, when it comes to OTC medicines, is the difficulty in opening the package). Either way, I’m feeling much better this morning, so that’s good.

Today, I stop by and weigh in for the Biggest Loser contest. I’ve lost approximately 2 pounds since the last weigh-in. I guess I should be happy with that, but it’s not quite what I had hoped for. Any loss is a good loss, though, and my goal gets that much closer with each pound lost.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in AD 161, Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus Pius as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. He was just a few weeks short of turning 40 when he became Emperor. His first act was to have the Senate make his “younger adoptive brother Verus co-Emperor.” He is, perhaps, most remembered for his Meditations, “a series of fragmentary musings jotted down over his years as Emperor.” Marcus was the last of the “five good emperors,” an era that came to an end when he died and his 18 year old son Commodus “(the villain of the film Gladiator)” took his place.

Today’s birthday is Maurice Ravel, born on this date in 1875. Ravel is most known for his one-movement orchestral piece, Bolero. Oddly enough, legend has it that the piece was originally called “Fandango.” The idea was to have a single line melody repeated over and over, with no development, simply increasing the orchestra each time around. It is, some might argue, quite maddening. Here is a very nice performance of the piece.

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

My Father, I pray that you show me something this morning, as I read and meditate on your Word, that will inspire me to live this day looking to your grace.

Today, I am reading Isaiah 30:19-26.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures,
24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.
25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Isaiah speaks of a time of great blessing for the people of God, a time when he is readily available to all who seek him, even though there may be adversity and affliction present. His guidance will be constantly present, as his people walk with him. Idols will be destroyed and scattered. There will be great blessing of crops and livestock. It will be a time of great healing for his people.

Today, in A Year With God, I begin a new segment on the discipline of Confession. Yesterday was the last reading on the discipline of study. Confession is defined as, “Sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.” When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all of our sins. All we must do is confess and ask his forgiveness, and this requires complete honesty. Sometimes, we attempt to hide our sins, out of shame, as did Adam and Eve. Sometimes, we are even unwilling to forsake our sin, so we even attempt to hide it from ourselves. We must have the courage to shine God’s healing light on our sin, else it can do much damage in our lives (as well as the lives of those around us).

Confession can be simply between the individual and God, or it can also involve another human, one who is trusted implicitly. There are three distinct parts to confession (as described in this book). First is the examination of the conscience, second is sorrow, and third is the determination to avoid future sin. I’m not sure I see the third as an actual part of the confession process, however, without that which is called “repentance,” confession does not accomplish much. We must seek the Lord’s strength, guidance, and courage to avoid further sin; we must love and desire his ways, and hate anything that keeps us from following his truth.

1 John 1:9, a rather famous memory verse, says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Today’s reading is simply called “Confessing Our Sins.” The scripture reading includes the above verse, found in 1 John 1:8-2:1.

1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Right off the bat, a challenge is issued, as is customary on the first day of a new segment. For this discipline, I am challenged, over the next ten days, to make time for confession during my daily prayer time. If this is already part of the prayer time, then I am encouraged to pay extra attention to that particular portion each day. It is suggested to go through the three steps listed above.

It might be necessary to ask God to “reach into the deepest recesses of our soul and show us our sin more clearly.” Believe me, this is a painful request, but God will most certainly honor it. There are other times when we are already burdened by sin, and the act of confession releases a weight from our shoulders that makes us feel as though we are walking on air, afterwards. In extreme cases, where a sin is particularly difficult to release, confession to another might be necessary. Great caution is called for in such cases. Great trust is needed in whoever is chosen to be the confessor. Richard Foster says, “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin.” It also helps to be part of a church body that does not pass judgment on people for particular sins. My wife and I are blessed to be part of such a fellowship. We are both a fellowship of saints and sinners!

Father, over the next ten days, I pray that you would show me my sin as you see it! Reach down into the depths of my soul and show me where I have failed you (on some days, that reach will not need to be very far). Make me aware of sin, the moment I engage in it, that I might confess immediately. Make me sorrowful over my sin. One of the beatitudes tells us that those who mourn are blessed. I take that to mean mourning over sin. That is why I pray every day that you cause me to be mournful, both over the sin of our people, and my own sin. And then grant me repentance, as even the act of repenting must be a gift from you, lest I should boast that I have done anything of value in my own strength. My God, everything that I possess I have gotten from you. Even repentance for my sin, and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. Teach me your ways, O Father, that I may truly walk in your truth.

As this day comes our way, I pray for strength to meet it head on. I pray for Christi, that, as she works today, she might have relief from pain (it does seem to be getting gradually better). I pray that she might have healing in her bones and joints. I pray that her work day will progress seamlessly, without issue or drama. I pray the same for my own work day. I also pray that my company may receive some good news either today or tomorrow. And I pray that Stephanie may be drawn closer to your heart today. Show her the path that you have for her to walk.

I lift up special prayers for two on this day, who have lost their mothers. One named Dawn, a close friend of a lifehouse member, whose mother passed early this morning, and another, Mr. Reynolds, our favorite of Stephanie’s teachers, who lost his mother sometime yesterday. Give these comfort over their loss, and help them find solace in your grace and mercy.

“Confession is good for the soul,” seems to be an old Scottish proverb. Turns out, is also seems to be true.

Grace and peace, friends.

Am I A Fraud?

Good morning. Today is Thursday, November 22, 2012. Today is Thanksgiving Day. I wish everyone who reads this a very happy Thanksgiving. I pray that you all have at least one thing to be thankful for today. I recently read a quote by Max Lucado that made me ponder my thankfulness (or lack thereof). He said, “What if you woke up this morning and had only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Obviously, if we took the time to thank God for everything in our lives every day, we would never get anything else done. But it is still something to think about, that attitude of thankfulness. This is something that I’m working on each day. I watched a lot of people begin their yearly daily thanksgiving posts, beginning on November 1. While I won’t deny that it’s a good thing to be thankful, I can’t help but wonder where those posts are the rest of the year. What’s so magical about November, that we can only publicly proclaim our thanks during this one month? For this reason, I purposefully did not start such a list. I want to be thankful every day, and every day, I try to remember to give thanks to God for something in my life, if nothing more than for something as basic as the fact that I am breathing this morning. Yesterday, I remember thanking God for the colors in a tree on my street as I started my journey to work. Today, I am most thankful that my family is together. Rachel and Justin are here, and in a few hours, the five of us will all be in Mineral Wells, having our Thanksgiving meal with my parents.

On a lighter note, today is also, apparently, designated as “National Start Your Own Country Day.” Hmmm…”Bickleyvania.” I kind of like the sound of that…

On this date in 1718, British pirate Edward Teach (aka “Blackbeard”) was killed in a battle of the coast of North Carolina.
On this date in 1869, the clipper Cutty Sark was launched. It was one of the last clippers ever built and survives to this day.
On this date in 1916, Jack London died of kidney disease, at the age of 40.
Ravel’s Bolero premiered on this date in 1928, in Paris. If he had only known…
The U.S. Humane Society was founded on this date in 1954.
On this date in 1963, in Dallas, Texas…(caution…not for the squeamish)

On this date in 1995, Toy Story was released. It was the first feature-length film completely made by CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

Today’s birthdays include Robert Cavelier de La Salle (French Explorer), 1643, George Eliot (author), 1819, Charles de Gaulle, 1890, Hoagy Carmichael, 1899, Benjamin Britten (British composer), 1913, Rodney Dangerfield, 1921, Geraldine Page (actress), 1924, Gunther Schuller (composer), 1925, Lew Burdette (baseball player), 1926, Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), 1932, Terry Gilliam (the only American member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus), 1940, Jesse Colin Young (musician), 1941, Billie Jean King, 1943, Steven Van Zandt (musician), 1950, Jamie Lee Curtis, 1958, Mariel Hemingway, 1961, Mark Ruffalo and Boris Becker, 1967, Joe Nathan (baseball player), 1974, Karen O (lead singer of the “Yeah Yeah Yeahs”), 1978, Scarlett Johansson, 1984.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning, my rock, my refuge, my shield, and my salvation.

I was moved by a reading from In Touch magazine yesterday. Beginning with Psalm 105:1-5, the writer proceeded to expound on some of the benefits of gratitude.
1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.

Gratitude, the act of giving thanks can
Refocus our attention… Our lives are filled with distractions. Perhaps if we began our day with gratitude, we would not get up with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Relieve anxiety… Most of us know Philippians 4:6-7. … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thanksgiving shoves aside anxiety and replaces it with peace, not just any peace, but the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding!”
Refresh our relationship… When I’m showing gratitude, it keeps me from thinking that it’s all about me and my needs. I’m focused on God instead of me. That one’s a little tricky, because I’m giving thanks for things that are important to me. Still, I’m giving glory to God for those things.
Reinforce our faith… Remembering God’s past faithfulness boosts confidence in his present and future grace.
Rejoice our spirit… “Thanksgiving is the best way to dig ourselves out of the doldrums of discouragement.”

I thought this was a good list and decided to share it today. It’s not always easy to give thanks. Six years ago today, my best friend from high school and his family buried his niece, who was killed by a drunk driver. They haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving together since. It doesn’t mean that they can’t find something to be thankful for. But sometimes it’s very, very tough.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 2:6-11.
6 For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.
7 Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.
9 So man is humbled, and each one is brought low— do not forgive them!
10 Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty.
11 The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

What a terrible passage for Thanksgiving, right? Not so fast…maybe not. Perhaps it can make us stop and think about what we allow into our lives. God had rejected his people because they had allowed the idolatrous practices of other lands to permeate their culture. They became attached to their gold, silver, and other treasures. If we are honest, I think we have to admit that, when we get attached to and dependent upon our treasures, we cease being thankful to God for things, because we don’t recognize his provision in our lives. This is a basic definition of idolatry, allowing things to replace God. Eventually, “the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” “That day?” What day? That is described in the next passage, which I will read tomorrow.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Shallow and Profound.” I like that title, it grabs my interest. The scripture reference is 1 Corinthians 10:31. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Haha…that’s an appropriate verse for today, don’t you think?

“Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow concerns of life are not ordained of God; they are as much of God as the profound.” We like to fancy ourselves as not ever being shallow. This is nothing more than an effort to impress people with the fact that we are what Chambers calls a “spiritual prig.” We run the risk of becoming a “walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow” than we are. Chambers says, “Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby.” BAM! Listen, I’ve caught myself falling into this trap before. God has slapped me up side the head, too, when I begin to develop this attitude of pride, thinking that I’m more profound than others. Lately, he’s been keeping me humble, and I’m cool with that.

The appearance of shallowness does not mean that one is wicked, neither does it mean that there is no depth. Remember, “the ocean has a shore,” and is quite shallow for a good distance. All of these so-called “shallow” things, these amenities of life, “eating and drinking, walking and talking, area ll ordained by God.” Jesus participated in these things and did everything to the glory of his Father.

“Our safeguard is in the shallow things.” It is in these things that we anchor ourselves in God. It is in these things where we live. When those deeper things come, they will be given to us “apart from the shallow concerns.” We get so serious…”so desperately interested in our own characters,” that we forget to act like Christians in the shallow areas.

“Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.”


Father, I give you thanks this morning, and pray that you will remind me to give you thanks every morning, and all day, every day. I thank you for my family, and that we are together this morning. I thank you for providing the jobs that we have that enable us to have the meal that is being prepared while I type these words. I thank you for the transportation that we have that enables us to travel to my parents’ house to share this meal with them. I am thankful for godly parents, who taught me to love you and follow you at an early age. I am thankful that you kept me on that path that they showed me, and that it stretches out before me from her to the end of my days and even beyond. You are good, Lord. You are good. May we eat and drink to your glory today.

I thank you that, somewhere down the line, you taught me not to take myself so seriously. I thank you that you showed me the value of being “shallow,” of living in the common-place areas of life with the life that Christ lives in me. I cannot rise above your life. I will not pose as one who is more profound than he really is. Oh, sure, I want to think of myself is intelligent and a “deep thinker.” In reality, I’m just a man who occasionally has a thought. 🙂 I pray that you would inspire me by your Spirit, daily, to lift up those shallow moments to you, walking in them as Jesus did, in the character of Jesus, as he lives in me. Let me glorify you in the mundane, Father, and you will lift me to the divine, sometimes. I pray that I am not, nor ever will be, a fraud.

I pray for this day. May the rest of the preparations go smoothly, and grant us safe travel to Mineral Wells in a little while. I pray for a good time of family fellowship this afternoon, and, most of all, I pray for peace.

“All praises to the one who made it all, who made it all;
All praises to the one who made it all, and finds it beautiful!”

Grace and peace, friends.