Confession is Good for the Soul

I am often reminded of my own sinfulness. I live with it everyday. I wake up and immediately begin to think about me and how life needs to revolve around me. My feelings are important. What I think is more important than what anyone else thinks. My views on things are the best views because I see them, I know them, I study to bring myself to them, and frankly, I’m right.

I hate it that these thoughts are often my default. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where Christ once had those thoughts–even for a single moment.

Here’s the good news. By Christ’s propitiating death, I am no longer bound to those thoughts. Those thoughts no longer have rule in my life. Paul says in Romans 6:18 “and, having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness!” What joy that brings to my heart. What hope that brings to my soul. What peace that brings to my mind! This sends my heart then to confession.

Confession is not just “good” for the soul–it is vital! It is vital for life–real abundant life that only Christ gives!

Confession is to say the same thing that God says about my sin. I can freely do this, now that I am set free. I can freely bathe myself in the showers of slavery to Christ’s righteousness. What a cleansing this is. How absolutely refreshing this is to the deepest parts of the soul! Here and only here is where the fountain of His mighty grace shows itself flowing rivers of living water.

I love the prayers from Valley of Vision. I resort to them often when I am so overwhelmed and I need words to speak to my Lord.

This one is called “Continual Repentance.” Here are some parts of it that really spoke to me this morning:

I need to repent of my repentance;

I need my tears to be washed;

I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,

no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,

for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

Every morning let me wear it,

every evening return in it,

go out to the day’s work in it,

enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

the exceeding sinfulness of my sin,

the exceeding righteouness of salvation,

the exceeding glory of Christ,

the exceeding beauty of holiness,

the exceeding wonder of grace!

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

“Surely, God doesn’t expect us to bear others’ burdens…does He? I mean, aren’t my own burdens enough?”
Maybe this crossed you mind–or at least it trickled across the bottom of the screen of your mind like the sports ticker on your TV. Being a member of God’s family, the church, is not for spectators. Nowhere in Scripture do you find genuine believers on the sidelines as it were. There’s too much at stake. The name and glory of our risen Christ is constantly being displayed accurately when we actually be a church rather than do church.
Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1-5 are gripping. Paul gives two scenarios where people are burdened and then he challenges each of us with how we look our own burdens.
1. Bear the burdens of the broken. People are broken and it’s always because of sin and yes, they are caught–trapped! Every time people squirm under the bondage of sin they do further damage to their lives and those around them. Spiritual people rescue. Spiritual people bring relief. Relief comes through loving and grace-filled confrontation coupled with perceptive strategy to live out their freedom in Christ.

2. Bear the burdens of the burdened. Sin weighs on every life it touches. The writer of Hebrews talks about “sin and weight” (Heb 12:1). People carry needless weights. Look around you. Do you see any one who is not carrying one of these two burdens?

Paul’s exhortation to all of us today is examine yourself in two critical areas:

Think correctly of yourself. Wow, that’s bold, Paul. “Do you imply we often don’t think correctly of ourselves?” I think he does think that. I think he thought that about himself. He claimed to be chiefest of sinners, after all! Most of the time we live unaware of others’ sin and weights it is because we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We are too involved in our world. We are busy hiding, ducking, repairing the walls we have erected, or we are recoiling from our own hurts. This is paralyzing and blinds us severely to the needs of others.

Read your environment. The “load” in V5 speaks of a small backpack type of load. Here, Paul is urging discernment in just how we handle peoples’ burdens. A soldier needs his backpack and it is given by his commander. We don’t want to remove that. God is at work in peoples’ lives and if we are marked with the “Messiah Complex” where we are the solution to everyone’s burden, then we are not really doing God’s work.

Bear one anothers’ burdens this week. Give yourself away. Christ did!

Is Your Church a Healthy Church?

This time of year everyone is thinking about getting in shape, losing weight, and getting a handle on several areas of discipline in life. But what about the church? A healthy church should at times examine themselves as well. Paul told the people of Corinth individually to examine themselves right before the partaking of communion. It is also a good thing for the church to examine themselves as to their health as a body of believers. Here are some things to think about.
1.   Is there healthy worship?  Worship is a buzz word today, but it shouldn’t scare you. Healthy worship is important. Is worship thought through by the leadership? Is there understanding of all that should be included in a “service of worship?” Is there follow-up discussion after the service with a healthy examination if the goals were reached?

2.   Is there healthy view of Scripture? Are the elders spending sufficient time in prayer and the Word? Is there exegetical accuracy? Is there homelitical clarity? Is there passion and energy in the delivery? Is there sufficient illustration? Is there discussion after the message by the leadership that includes careful critique of both exegesis and delivery?  What are the common mistakes that are made and is there a plan in place to fix them?  Often, a high view of Scripture means you can’t ever question the pastor.  A humble pastor will desire feedback and constantly look for ways to communicate Scripture because he has a high view of Scripture and a low view of himself.

3.   Is there a healthy view of membership? Membership is vital for many reasons but none more vital than simple good health.  Membership is often looked at as an option and only for those who are pious. Scripture gives a different story. When the early church began people who were born again were “added” to the church daily (Acts 2:47). This opened the door to careful accountability and shepherding (see Acts 5).  A membership class that effectively teaches the philosophy and direction of the church plays a vital role in this process.

4.   Is healthy discipleship taught and modeled? Discipleship is the task of every believer. It is also one of the most difficult tasks of every believer. It takes time and is often very messy. Caring for someone spiritually is demanding and very often inconvenient.  Discipleship needs to be taught and modeled.  It must come from the top down in a church. If a pastor is not visibly passionate about making disciples, the people will follow.  Discipling is multifaceted and can take on many forms but the result has to be that a person becomes more like Christ and less like themselves in areas of living.  A healthy church reproduces.

5.    Is there a healthy prayer emphasis? Prayer is another very difficult discipline. Prayer speaks to our dependence upon Christ and ultimately displays our genuine faith in Him. Healthy praying is not horizontal but vertical. We don’t merely pray for manward things but pray heavenward.  Read the apostle Paul’s prayers for patterns (Col 1 and Eph 1) as well as Christ prayer he taught His disciples and then compare those prayers to our normal prayers (Matt 6).

Health is vital. There are certainly more points than this and we will look at more later.