Tag Archives: forgiveness

Things you see at Christmas: Irony

How about some feedback?! 🙂


 

 

Yet, she's still smiling. Maybe this is an irony I can embrace.

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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.

TUESDAY 5 Minute Retreat. (2 of 5)

Thank you for coming here. Ed Cyzewski invited me to carrying on with his 5 minute Retreat series, “with my own spin”. This is day 2.

Let’s enjoy a time and space set aside for refreshment. (Please feel free to comment anytime. Sharing your experience is valuable for all of us.)

First,
prepare yourself to take a short rejuvenating break, by eliminating potential distractions. (Silence your phone, computer, shut your door, etc.)

Now, fold your hands. That’s right interlace your fingers as you clasp them together.

As you look at your hands, either your left or your right thumb will be on top. Many people hold their left thumb on the top. Which is it for you? (you can let us know in the comment section)

Now, re-clasp your fingers and thumbs so the opposite thumb is on the top.

It will feel unfamiliar, and perhaps “wrong” or slightly uncomfortable. (You can describe what it feels like to you in the comment section)

With your hands this unfamiliar way, take 3-5 deep inhales and exhales, slowly.

Think about the habits and routines in your life that you never really notice. Like… Tying your right shoe first, or sliding into your driver’s seat a certain way, preparing your coffee, brushing you teeth, or something more important, like checking your email first thing in the morning, or interacting with your kids.

Could this be a day where you can be extra aware of your daily habits? Today, could you survey all you do, and see if you want to change some things up?

Unfold your hands and fold them the uncomfortable way–again.

Pray about what make of the details in your life, that keep you from growing, or that keep you where you are, and not where you should be.

Do you need to forgive someone? Ask God to help you. Rely on his strength to forgive that person, through you, (with his strength) even if their are no warm feelings toward them, yet, or maybe ever.

Unforgiving habits are ruts we should overcome.

Try to fold and unfold your hands several times today to remind you of the habits you are in, and the ones that should change.

Stretch out your hands, arms, and body, and let out a big breath.

Take on the day!

Thanks for sharing this with me. May you be blessed.

 

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

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.

Resurrection, Easter, Rebirth, Forgiveness

Here is my Schuylkill-News column (Notes from the Footpath) for Easter and Spring.

The whole copy is available free at various places in Berks and Schuylkill counties, in PA, or on Facebook.

Peace with God (A Prayer)

 

Peace with God

(Prayer)

(Written for individuals, or use in hospice, end of life, or redemptive ministry.)

God,

I know you are my Creator, and I am not simply material that will return to the earth.

I desire peace with you, and to lay my burdens down.

(Here one may add specific concerns, guilt, offenses, or things that have made one’s heart heavy.)

I know you offer me relief, forgiveness, grace, and acceptance, freely–as a gift. I gratefully receive this from you.

You are the Highest, a Three-in-One God, who made me. Out of pure love, you redeemed me before time began, and during human history through the life, death, and resurrection of your Incarnation, The Christ, and you will comfort me with your Presence now. As I leave this world, receive me into your most loving Presence.

I am your child, coming to you.

Amen.

(Download your own copy for use, or distribution click here)