Monday, April 16, 2012

Week (weak) Nine

The discipline of confession

It seems like the more I sit and meditate on the goodness of God, the more I see Him as a good GOOD God. The more I observe His wonders and search out the depths of His mysteries, the more wondrous He becomes to me. Still I’m only scratching the surface of who He REALLY is…. And THAT, my friends, blows my little earthly mind. The crazy thing is that we actually have the capacity- in Christ and being led by the Holy Spirit- to tap into something so magnificent while still walking around on this beautiful planet we’ve been given. He gives us the keys to the kingdom, and because God is good and wonderful and mysterious and unfathomable… we can access this kingdom now.

It’s funny how we read those verses in the bible but then mistakenly believe its some far off fairy tale that is an unreachable destination until death. Or it’s just so inconceivable that the very thought of it’s endless capabilities frighten us. I guess the main point here is that salvation is not JUST a ticket to heaven. Oh no… there is so so SO MUCH more in store for those who are hungry. The more we feast on His divine self and open ourselves up for God’s rich nourishment, the more He exposes our “old self” as stinky flesh hungry for toxic things. He also beautifully reveals our “new self” or “spirit-man” in His promises as we begin to see the kingdom come to life!

What exactly does this have to do with Confession? Well… In a nutshell, God LOVES us nuts (haha)… but really REALLY hates sin. Easy enough, right? But for some reason we are still attaching ourselves to the sin, when Christ lived and died to detach us from it. God will go to great lengths to destroy sin in this world, but so desires to save His children from that very sin that entangles, enslaves, and destroys us. Now do you see why He loathes it so?

“At the heart of God is the desire to give and to forgive. Because of this, he set into motion the entire redemptive process that culminated in the cross and was confirmed in the resurrection…. Love, not anger, brought Jesus to the cross. Golgotha came as a result of God’s great desire to forgive, not his reluctance. Jesus knew that by his vicarious suffering he could actually absorb all the evil of humanity and so heal it, forgive it, redeem it. This redemptive process is a great mystery hidden in the heart of God, but I know that it is true. It is the ground upon which we can know that confession and forgiveness are realities that transform us. It involves an objective change in our relationship with God and a subjective change in us. It is a means of healing and transforming the inner spirit.”- Richard Foster

So if confession is so good for us, our relationship with the Lord and others… why is it such a dirty word in the church? Why don’t we jump at the chance to bring to light all of our hidden thoughts, terrible emotions, stupid mistakes, and secret addictions? I’ll tell ya why… cuz it’s down right terrifying!!! We’d much rather keep our lives private even at the destructive cost of allowing the darkness to slowly eat away at our soul. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But I’ve been there ok? Haha. I’ve seen small hidden seeds of “innocent fun” grow into giant weeds suffocating the very foundation of my faith in God!!! I tell ya, these weeds are deadly! They’ll wrap around your heart so fast you can hardly catch your breath and then rapidly find yourself in a state of dire emergency.

When these weeds are just tiny seeds they may be hard to catch unless you are truly “abiding” in the Lord and cleaning house daily. This even goes back to the “wholeness” thing I love to talk about. What are we allowing in? And just as important, what are we investing in? Do we read, see, eat, or take part in toxic things? Where are our time, energy, and resources going?

The wonderful and scary thing about God is that He searches and knows our hearts. Yes He very much cares about the core of who we are and who He’s destined us to be… but He also sees the contradiction when we simply see ourselves for who we think we are, the world says we are… or worse, accept the lies of the enemy. Confession is verbally recognizing and repenting for our approval of these lies, detaching ourselves from the darkness of hidden things…. And running into the light of God letting Him lovingly drench you with His grace, beauty, forgiveness, kindness, and love.

Once we begin to see His heart for us and what “confession” actually does, it becomes a pleasure to throw off the crap that enslaves us and walk as a son or daughter confident in their Dad who will do and has always done anything and everything to keep us from the sickness of sin. When we confess and repent… it’s done. There’s no need to keep asking, just walk. No more guilt or shame. Just walk… towards Him in the light where seeds are exposed and the enemy can’t hide.

No matter where you are today, or what you are going through… YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Not only have thousands if not millions before you gone through it, I’m sure I have as well (and I’m ALWAYS available to share my story and listen to yours!!!) This is yet another reason why it’s so great to have accountability partners in your life. It’s not just so you will never sin again (because you probably will)… but so you will have someone that you trust that you can talk to when there is some sort of sin in your life so will not stay hidden and grow but be challenged by the light therefore helping us see our inheritance once again. I pray there is at least one person in your life that you can trust WITH your life. If not, you start praying for them… they are out there, trust me. Also, look for ways to BE this person to others. We NEED each other, and we need each other to keep telling us that we are in desperate NEED of a Savior.

This also helps when you find yourself in a weak moment. You have a physical representation of someone who knows EVERYTHING about you (other than God) and is waiting for the weekly or daily report. A lot of times your accountability friend will know something's up, but most times it will help you avoid the situation knowing the conversation you could be having later. We don't become strong by trying harder... we become strong in the spirit by feeding the spirit. The temptations will always be there... but the justifications will be harder to conjure up when you've got truth on the brain and God's massive love in your heart. Allowing God to nourish all areas quickly weakens our flesh... He is so good.

“But if we know that the people of God are first a fellowship of sinners, we are freed to hear the unconditional call of God’s love and to confess our needs openly before our brothers and sisters. We know we are not alone in our sin. The fear and pride that cling to us like barnacles cling to others also. We are sinners together. In acts of mutual confession we release the power that heals. Our humanity is no longer denied, but transformed.” – Richard Foster

St. Alphonsus Liguori writes: “For a good confession three things are necessary: an examination of conscience, sorrow, and a determination to avoid sin.”

For many years I lived my life the way that felt good to me. I had good intentions on being the woman that God had called me to be… but my decisions along the way were very destructive. I had little seeds growing weeds all over the place, but on the outside I gave the impression that my life was truly a beautiful garden. I did a pretty good job at hiding things I knew loved ones would disapprove of, but for myself I had numbed or severed part of my conscience. I did what I wanted and it strangely stopped affecting me. Slowly but surely, as I continued down that path, I lost the heart of God for me. I also became too prideful for even guilt, shame or conviction to enter in. I surely don’t believe God wants us to live in those places at all… but they are also good indicators that we are on dangerous ground and need to move out quickly.

So even as a “believer” I had no conscience, no sorrow, and no determination to avoid the sin in my life… in fact, I sought it out. Perhaps some would say I wasn’t a Christian during this time if they had known my lifestyle… but I assure you that I loved Jesus. How can this be? A few wake up calls later… I finally began to see how HUGE God’s love was for His children and how far from His heart I had run. I also began to have a very healthy fear of the all-powerful, all-knowing God of the expanding universe and his hatred for sin.

“Today we take our offenses to the love of God far too lightly. If we had only a tinge of the sense of revulsion that God feels toward sin, we would be moved to holier living.”- Foster

Even if you don’t think you know of any sin in your life… I’d take a second look around to see if any toxic things have made a home inside of you. All that does is weigh us down and keep us from being free so that we can accept even more of God inside of us! We can not serve two masters…. Even down to every single cell of our body. A cell cannot be toxic and nourished at the same time, it’s one or the other. So in order for it to be nourished it has to be detoxed. Confession and repentance are hands-down the top of the line detox for our mind, spirit, soul and body!!! Isn’t that wonderful news??? God really does know what’s best and desires what’s best for every single one of us, so what are we waiting for???

“The discipline of confession brings an end to pretense. God is calling us into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. May God give grace to the Church once again to recover the Discipline of confession.”- Foster

training for the half-marathon

It’s been amazing to see how God has given me more endurance than I ever could have imagined and in such a short time. This is truly a miracle people. I’ve never run over a mile without stopping… IN MY LIFE. The most I’ve ever gone in one day was 10 miles in college, but I walked most of it… probably sipping on some soda or something (yuck).
The other day I decided to see if I could run 6 miles. I started very slow… but I ran 3, took a small break… and ran 3 more (with a little bit of walking)!!! I could not hardly believe it!

As I was running I was sharing with a friend my revelation about how God had asked me to be a long distance runner for Him. In that moment the light bulb came on and I realized what He was REALLY talking about. God definitely had a beautiful will in mind for my life, as He does us all… and although my intentions were on finishing the race well, I was definitely not running it well at all. If I was comparing my spiritual life to a real race it might look like: myself never training a day in my life, constantly trailing off the main course when anything shiny drew my attention, eating crappy foods along the way, running fast then needing cpr, falling and probably causing others to stumble.

But this is one thing I’ve learned: Running the race does not make me a runner, but living the lifestyle of the runner does. Man does this hit hard. Not only was I a “sprinter” for the Lord, but I was a terrible one at that. “Doing” what the bible said and “trying” to be a Christian was exhausting because I was really all talk and no walk. Once I heard his voice though and surrendered to the training of a “runner” the “race” was no longer a chore or a hindrance, but a joyful adventure!!! I realized that “running with endurance” wasn’t just something we wake up with… but it’s something we train for.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned thus far is that God has set a pace and desires for us to comply with it. I noticed in my training that the quicker my pace the faster my heart, lungs and other body parts would tire out. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, but it is very dangerous as well. However, when I slowed way down I was able to run for a lot longer and not be tired at all.

In the past few weeks we’ve talked a lot about stillness in Him. In that place of silence we hear His voice… “Be still and know that I am God.” The only way He can keep our heart in check and in perfect alignment with His is if we choose to go at His pace. It is here that we find much needed rest, freedom from anxiety and stress, beauty in observation, welcomed revelation, wholeness, health, endurance, and quality life. There is no more fear in failure or loss, no need to be someone else, little desire to stray off the beaten path seeking counterfeit to fulfill some empty place, less chance to be fooled by the enemies tricks and illusions, and no rat race, but instead- an AUTHENTIC hunger, need and desire for Jesus to not only finish the race… but to run it well.

The life of Thomas

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.4 From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

I absolutely love this dialogue for several reasons. But mostly in this space and time because we are talking about Thomas here. How many of you have ever heard the term “doubting Thomas”? Show of hands? Now how many of you have ever asked legitimate questions before?? Or have ever had a doubt in your mind? Seems a little harsh that one man would be tagged with such a name that would stick around until Jesus came back. I’d sure hate to be known by “doubting Lindsey”.

Yet what I LOVE about this passage is if He hadn’t had asked that question, would we had ever heard Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life… no one comes to the Father except through me”? I mean… that’s probably one of the most quoted verses in history!!! And it was all provoked by one man’s curiosity.

Another thing I love about this is when Jesus says, “FROM NOW ON… you DO know Him and have seen him.” No matter what humans say about Thomas, he is who God says He is. The world may still mock him… but Jesus redeemed and transformed Him. Now, think for a second about the many other things we could be called on earth because of what we’ve done.


HE calls you child, He calls you beloved, He calls you whole, He calls you trustworthy, He calls you free, He calls you healed, He calls you to LIFE. HE-CALLS-YOU by name.

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