Tag Archives: confession

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

Innocence and Purity

 

My diagram for a "System" of Purity

 

Our freedom allows us to make choices that determine our purity and our innocence. So, freedom always includes responsibility, and purity can be regained. It is innocence that is untried.

In the cases were guilt may plague us, we may seek healing in the spiritual discipline of life confession, and then find it our acceptance of love and forgiveness. This happens best in Community, with the support of siblings in Christ.

This is also an act of worship.

Please share you thoughts on this, or a related theme.

Or you may tackle one of the following. Thanks.

• What have been your influencers with regards to purity?

• How has the media impacted your view of purity?

• What is the biggest struggle regarding your faith and your purity?

Resource used: Pages 126-8. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun -IVP Books ©2005)
For further reading: “Real Sex” -Lauren Winner

Like A Virgin Soap (No Shame)

OKAY-It’s possible something was lost in translation on this cosmetic.

Perhaps white or pure was translated as “virginity”. Maybe the English word “virginal” threw off the dictionary. You might have a better guess than me.

This so-called “skin-whitening” soap is supposed to make the skin inviting to touch, so it actually, um. maybe it could end virginity.

But I wonder if the idea of purity, cleansing, and ridding us of our shame is so wrapped up together, that longing for a kind of “virginity soap” isn’t all that big of a stretch.

On some level, doesn’t everyone want a second chance?

Doesn’t everyone want their sin to be “washed away”?

Do you have a memory you wish you didn’t have, or a past sin that plagues you?

Christianity has promised this same thing with “Jesus Soap” for quite a while now. But is it that simple? And, do we co-opt with the renewing power of the Holy Spirit enough to live in a “washed clean” kind of way?

The spiritual discipline of confession works a bit like “virginity soap”. It is an imperative to confess and turn away from sins. And we are told to confess to each other. It gives us a real life engagement with grace, via the willing and trusting ear of another.

Do you have a confessor to whom you can confess your shame? If not, why? Do you think it would help you?

Thanks for you thoughts on this.

Jennifer Knapp: Let the Judgment Begin!

Jennifer Knapp

After over a 7 year break from music, Jennifer Knapp announces the release of her new album, and reveals her same sex relationship of 7 years in an interview with Christianity Today. (full article)

What will her fans do? How will she be treated in the Christian community?

Here’s my proposal:

Let the Judgment Begin!

(on ourselves)

Ask yourself a few important things:
What in your life should you look at more deeply?

If you like to come up with decisions about people, is it to make you feel better? And what other ways could work better?

What is your hidden payoff for taking the focus off your growth to focus on someone else’s shortcomings?

Are you hospitable?

Are you welcoming?

Are you loving?

Are you gracious with the same amount of grace you’ve been given?

Could these areas improve?

Let’s get serious, and List a few ways how we could work toward our own improvement, through God’s grace.

What does speaking any ill of Jennifer Knapp do for our practice of hospitality?

Or, for our Christ-likness?

Or, for our growing in the Love of Christ?

Do Christians HAVE TO be the best at shooting our own wounded ones?

Please, I beg you, no.

Let us enter into a concerted time of Spirit-led introspection, discovery, confession (to both God and each other), repentance, accountability, and ongoing, loving discipleship–in unity.

Sometimes these types of personal revelations seem interesting or fascinating–along the lines of scandal, intrigue, and excitement. Yet, it’s dangerous to fixate with our idle curiosity on public figures, like Knapp, or the ordinary people we know. It’s distracting. It misses the lesson. It skirts the point of the Kingdom.

The truth is, men and women like Knapp are in pews, or they are afraid to be, and they are on the fringes. They feel like they have to choose between being secretive, or being pushed out of the church community. If we had Christ-like hospitality, we would know about them. We would walk *with* them, not just talk *about* them.

But more importantly, if we weren’t so concerned about Knapp, in a judgmental way, we could do the deeper, and far harder work of looking within, and allowing God to work his sanctifying agency.

I pray no one vilifies Jennifer, rejects her, or condemns her. But, I think it will happen. The temptation is just so irresistible.  Laying waste to those anything like Knapp is so common, that it hardly seems wrong to our conscience, in general. We have this corny idea of righteous indignation, to give us motivation. But guess what? It’s more irresistible to gossip under the cover of righteous indignation, and far more common than same gender attraction! If we only had righteous indignation for our own problems, first, or ever! Imagine the spiritual growth then.

I don’t think we should applaud her, or marginalize her, but rather know that her journey is neither  yours, or mine, directly. When I think of her, I think of the words Jesus said.

Matt.9:11-12When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

BUT-Here’s the distinction. I know this verse is about me. If you don’t realize you need God, and you need help, well, you won’t get any.

Besides that, It saddened me to read that in the article with CT, Jennifer said she was not involved in a church family now. We all need community, to be our best. What could be more beneficial to her than to be surrounded and supported by brothers and sisters in the faith? She dearly loves God. She continues to sing to him, and seek him, unabashedly. Now is not the time to focus on her particular statements, though. We have greater work to do. It’s the kind where personal change is truly possible–the kind within ourselves.

Let us love one another, for everyone who does not love, does not know God.

My ugly Confession.

I have a confession to make.

ambition while missing the point

 

In about 2 weeks, this blog site will be a year old. In the last 5-6 months, I’ve been trying pretty hard to write interesting, helpful, or entertaining stuff for this place, almost every single day. I’ve made fantastic contacts, great new friends, and I’ve had a good time doing it.

This is hard to admit, but, I have to confess, that I’ve been blogging mostly to build a larger reading audience. A little while ago my agent told me that I stood a good chance to have my material published, but the biggest obstacle was “lack of platform.” Lack of platform sort of means, not too many care who you are, or what you do. A successful blog can change that, and help a writer build this much-needed platform. I know there’s nothing shameful about writing a blog and hoping others read it, but my remorse at this moment is that I realize I have made it my means to an end. I’ve been holding so tight to this idea that I can generate a solid readership base to, as Pedro says, “make all my wildest dreams come true,” that I didn’t realize I was putting it before the whole point, which is to share myself and my God with others. In a real sense, I’ve thought of this blog as a vehicle to “get me somewhere,” and I’ve made it an idol. Sometimes I have said to myself, “Well, it’s really both, a vehicle and my ministry.” This may be true, and I hope things work out like this, but if my priorities or motivations shift weight, things get off balance. And they have been.

I stopped long enough for God to speak to my heart, and in my spirit, it seems “he” said, “Let it go.” I got a little panicky at first. “Completely? What? Huh? What ‘chu talkin’ ’bout Willis…er, Father in Heaven?”

Then it seemed like God nudged me, and “said,” “Don’t be such an extremist.” This threw in off a little. So, I sort of looked around sheepishly for a little, almost looking for an exit, but without trying to be obvious about it. It seems like God “said,” “You’re clutching. Stop it. Just write and stop thinking about the rest. It’s none of your business.”

This bothered me. I felt out of control. Of course, it was a false assumption that I really have control like I was thinking I had. But, then I thought about what that might feel like…to hand things over… and I tried to “put that skin on.” Even just putting it on halfway felt SO nice. Relaxing. Like the pressure was off, and leaving the room, like a smog lifting. So, I stopped that exercise midway, I took a deep breath and I yielded. I took my sweaty feet off the pedals and coasted. I waited. And nothing happened. Nothing, for better or for worse, but I felt much better.

I wanted to tell you about it, because I know I haven’t been thinking the right way. I know that has to change, and I’m turning my heart the other way. I may post less often, but maybe there will be more true joy and inspiration when I do.

I do hope many are blessed by this blog, and resources, but I’m not going to transpose the priorities anymore, if I can help it, (with God’s grace). This will happen on a heart level, and it might not even be apparent to you, but I hope that my honesty will not only encourage you to look carefully at your own priorities, and goals, but also be a way to ensure that I stay congruent to my core convictions and values, in the way and nature of my God.

It’s hard to make confessions because, sometimes, it makes you feel really weak, stupid, or like some kind of a scum bag. It’s risky. The temptation to keep on a mask, and act like things are all pulled together, can be a strong influencer. Even though it feels embarrassing, it’s still the only way to move forward, and toward shalom (well-being/peace). I’m trying to be brave.

Thoughts… comments?

Confession-fridays

I blogged at lisadelay.blogspot.com about the British Secretary getting smacked with custard pie. Maybe he’s the one who has something to confess. (?)

Each friday I’m opening up a “confession booth” – It’s good for the soul.

There is something deeply freeing about casting your secrets or your burdens away through the act of confession. It is a practice sometimes scorned, perhaps because it has been misunderstood, made trite, or undervalued. But, with the right reflection, it may be a powerful way to gain perspective, and renewal, or just blow off some steam.

Feel free to be anonymous, (or reveal yourself) and leave a confession of any sort.

I’ll start: Today, I purposefully listened to my van stereo (close to) full blast for quite a while. It was enough to frighten people.

Confession Booth- (fridays)

There is something about confessing  that renews us. It purges us. We really are suppose to do it. It’s not just because authorities or the Bible say so. I think it’s because (also) as a part of human nature we want and need to be rid of things that hurt us, and begin a process of recreation.

A new service allows for secret confessions. SecretTweet This may help people free their consciences a bit, and some leave very odd things. The trouble though with secret confessions is that there isn’t too much hope for healing and restoration in the support of community. We aren’t meant to go it alone.

If there’s anything you’d like to confess. I invite you to do it here. It can be ANYTHING. From the serious, to the silly. Feel free. And you can make up a name, if you’d like.

I’ll start.

I bawled my eyes out yesterday in spiritual direction (which was done in “real play” in front of classmates, yes awkward and nerve-wracking at times, and other times comforting). It was because I realized I felt that God had “hurt my feelings” and I was angry with “him”. It ended in the embrace of God. Strangely enough…In a visualization, (prayer with a visual imagination) he came and sat with me, and played jacks with me, of all things. It was so unexpected and kind. I told him my hurts, and he sweetly stroked my hair. I wanted to hug him, so I did, and he hugged me back. It was warm and big. And my hurts melted. He took out the ugly ball of hurt from my heart and tossed it over his shoulder, so it would not ruin me any more. It was a powerful experience, which I haven’t had before. I felt vulnerable, even silly, at times. But, in the end, I was glad I confessed these feelings, even as I am now doing now.

For a silly (non serious) confession-I worn my hair in pigtails today, in the privacy of my home.