Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘confession’

The 1st Word of Life

In Chrisian Life on August 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm

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One Summer we lived just up the hill from the Kentucky River.  Right behind our house was a deep creek that was fed from the river and was great for fishing!  Nearly every day I would grab my pole and go down.  My mom had one of those triangle bells that she would ring when it was time for me to come home.  One particular day I had gotten pretty muddy.  My view of the situation was much like the picture above.  So when I arrived at the house and was not allowed in I was confused.  While I did not think it was all that bad, my mom sure did.

MudChild

She was not about to let me in the house until I had washed off.  I stood there and she began to wash me off with the hose.  Once I was clean I could enjoy the benefits of the house, lunch, and the couch!

This is often the case with confession.  I recently read a poem from an unknown source that begins with the “6 most important words”:  I admit I made a mistake.  We run through our days, weeks, and years and do not give much credence to our need to be clean.  We, like me, think it is just our hands that are dirty and we wash them like Pontious Pilate disregarding any further need.  However, from God’s perspective we need a complete shower!

When we are not staying clean through confessing our sins to God we are like that kid at camp who doesn’t shower.  It affects more than just one person.  Sin might be fun in the moment but we will lose our grip on joy and our relationship with Jesus will suffer.  Shame and guilt come into play and then we are just a mess.  Confess what you know and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what you have forgotten.  Whatever is getting in the way of your relationship with God needs cleansing.

Now would be a good time…

Sitting in Ashes May Save Your Life

In Gospel Living, Life and Culture on February 18, 2015 at 7:11 am

ashwednesday

The annual service on Ash Wednesday usually concludes with one receiving an ash cross on the forehead or hand, depending on the faith tradition you follow.  Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible, but the use of ashes is common.  In Biblical times people would sit in ashes as a sign of humility, sorrow, and repentance of sin.  The act of doing this did not remove their sin, but it was an outward symbol of the contrition of their heart and desire to receive God’s mercy.  While you see this in a national sense, such as Nineveh, you also see it personally in the life of Job.  In His rebuke of a few towns, Jesus mentions that others towns in history would have responded with sackcloth and ashes instead of disrespect.

Ash Wednesday is 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter.  The number 40 has a long history in scripture.

40 days of the flood
40 days spying the Promised Land
40 years in wilderness for lack of faith
40 days of temptation for Jesus

What do we do on Ash Wednesday?  Isn’t this just some Catholic thing?  I have been asked that on several occasions.  Actually many denominations that follow a litany will have an Ash Wednesday service.  So why would anyone else?  Let’s look at the process of this type of service and how it can benefit our lives.  During the service you would hear from scripture, such as Psalm 106 to remind us of our sin and need to confess and be purified by God.  This particular Psalm recounts the mighty acts of God and the forgetfulness of humanity about those mighty acts.  After recounting Israel’s history, the Psalm closes like this:

47 Save us, Yahweh our God,
and gather us from the nations,
so that we may give thanks to Your holy name
and rejoice in Your praise.

48 May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Hallelujah!

Psalm 106

Now, what if we were to recount our personal history of how God provided and protected?  What if we were to annually remember the mightiness of God and the forgetfulness of ourselves?  In those moments, we would confess to God how we have sinned, repent of that sin, and turn back to God.  As a reminder, we would be encouraged to “give up” something until Easter as a sign of sincerity.  This sign would also serve as a reminder to us of our decision to repent and walk with God.  Obviously we are not to proclaim publicly what our decision would be.  Jesus clearly teaches on this as Matthew 6 records for us.

Ash Wednesday can be very helpful in our relationship with God because it encourages a spiritual catharsis.  Whatever we continue to harbor in our lives raises the spiritual toxin level.  Empty yourself before God and allow His Spirit to fill you.

Why Should I Own Up To It?

In Decisions, Life and Culture on January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

responsibility

There is an epidemic in our country that seems to have infected everybody.  No, it’s not Flu A.  It’s not Flu B.  It is not a new parasite, though it does have similar effects.  This ethic-wrenching, moral-decaying sickness is the inability to own up for your decisions.

We’re all susceptible.  We’ve all been infected at one time or another.  We give a reason for a choice that’s not really the reason.  Instead of just owning up to the fact you don’t want to do something, you come up with another reason that feels and sounds plausible but is not.  The old saying is that “You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time.”

  • We use tragedy. Who has used the “My grandma died” routine?  One guy had several grandmas die in the same month.  He did not have a job the next.  We play on the emotion of those in leadership to do what we want rather than what we are supposed to do.
  • We use circumstances. The car broke down.  The road is too slick.  The air is too heavy.  The planets are in the wrong alignment.  The dog ate my homework.  We don’t feel like we can argue the point.
  • We use sickness. We put the thermometer on the light bulb.  We sniff and cough when we call in “sick”.  We do the Ferris Bueller.
  • We use family. The baby is sick.  The babysitter didn’t show.  We opt out because we would rather be fishing, at the ballpark, or snuggled up with your honey.

Instead of owning our decisions and the consequences, we try to get around the rules.  We know our decision is bogus but we have been fed a huge portion of humanism.  In other words, what we believe right for us at that moment supersedes law, order, and social/moral/ethical/personal responsibility.  We have been infected with the understanding that owning up to decisions is ridiculous.  We blame others for our issues.  We lie in order to do what we want.  We divert attention away in order to claim innocence.

Adam said it was the woman.  Eve said it was the snake.  Ultimately they both were blaming God!  They did not want to face the consequences and shifted focus.  Cain wanted the short cut.  Abram lied about Sarai. David killed Uriah.  The story goes on.  Each time, God wanted them to just own their decision.  Obviously, He wants us to make better choices, but when we do make a poor one just own it.

  • Own up to your choices because it keeps us honest.  One lie leads to another.  A worker was sent off on a small delivery that would not take long.  He returned 3 hours later.  He complained about the traffic and the van.  It was the ice cream stain gave it away, though.
  • Own up to your choices because they were YOUR choices.  (This would really turn humanism on its head if we actually just owned up and took responsibility.)
  • Own up to your choices because it is a sign of maturity.
  • Own up to your choices because every one of them caused one man to die – Jesus.

Take back your life.  Own it.

Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.  – Jesus

Matthew 5:38

Home Inspections and the Holy Spirit

In Chrisian Life on September 9, 2014 at 8:21 am

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Before the purchase of a new home, nearly everyone will tell you to get a home inspection.  The inspector will come by the house and do a thorough walk through and around citing everything that is a problem, issue, hazard, and need for the home.  One such inspection I viewed was 43 pages!  I do not think 1 square inch of the house was overlooked.  Without it, the new owner might be getting into a situation that becomes a money pit.  Or worse, the house could go up in smoke because of faulty wiring or some other issue.  Neither party involved wants to be made so completely aware, but it does need to happen.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

In the case of buying and selling homes, full disclosure is important.  If the seller does not disclose, the inspector will probably find it anyway.  Further, the inspection will reveal deeper and more detailed items also.  Once the inspection is done it is up to the buyer and seller to negotiate  what is fixed and by whom.

Inspection

The Holy Spirit will comb through the areas of thought, heart, motivation, behavior, and more to uncover the needs in order for us to live a holy life.  Like an inspector, he does not force His way into your life.  He waits for an invitation.  The report He provides is exact.  Have you called for one lately?

Negotiation

Once the wrong has been revealed, there is a series of negotiations to determine the next steps.  There are some wrongs in your life that only God can fix.  As the Creator, he has the power to fix them.  He desires to see us living a whole life filled with joy!  There are some things though, that can be fixed through God’s assistance.  Finally, others that you just need to handle.  Paul had a thorn in the flesh and was told God’s grace was sufficient.  In other words, God does expect us to work at it too.

Repair

Confession and repentance bring healing to your mind, body, heart, and soul.  If we let our lives spiral down into disrepair we will face complications.  Anxiety, stress, and chaos will wreak havoc.

My suggestion is to call in the inspector as often as possible.  It may not be fun at first, but as you become aware of what to be doing on your own then it will have lasting effects that will create new joy in your heart.

What Coffee Teaches Me About Christianity

In Chrisian Life, Cleansing on August 21, 2014 at 8:03 am

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Coffee is a beautiful thing!

A few years ago, while on a church trip, I was given a coffee mug.  I have used it nearly every day since.  The wide bottom makes it so it doesn’t tip over very easy.  As you can see I have worn off much of the label!  This past Summer I got a new coffee cup and, in the excitement of something new, began using that one as of late.  Today I forgot the cup and I remembered that I still had this older, well-used one.

The problem was that it had not been used for a while and it had some coffee left in it.  I didn’t just want to add more coffee.  I needed to get rid of the old and put in the new.

  1. The cup couldn’t wash itself. As much as I would like, dishes still do not wash themselves.  We might have technology that speeds the process up and reduces the labor of the individual, but dishes do not wash themselves.
  1. There was no point in just wiping off the outside. I could have set it down in the sink with water but the problem was not the outside, it was the inside.  It needed to be clean from the inside out.  Simply washing off the outside would not have affected that which was floating in the cup!
  1. Fill it up! Now that the cup was clean I could have what I wanted – COFFEE!

Our lives are often like this cup.  By our own choosing we do not put ourselves in the Master’s hands every day.  As a result, we become stagnant and bad things begin to grow inside of us: hate, malice, envy, lust, pride, and more.  These will take what was good, but now unused, and degrade it to the point that it is sickening.  Like the cup, we cannot wash ourselves.  We must allow God to wash us from the inside out.  Though we may try to attend church more, be better people, and do the right thing.  Adding fresh coffee to that mug would have tainted the whole cup.  We must be emptied of all the nasty by God’s power through our faith and confession.  Then the Spirit will fill us up once again.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17

Show Ready

In Chrisian Life, Cleansing on July 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

cartoon-lady-closet

“Is your room clean?”

“Uh….yes?” My son replied with that upward tone at the end that made me pause and ask again.

“Are you sure? “

“Yes.”

“How clean is it?”

 

Levels of Clean

Now, you might think that last question is some joke.  It is not.  We have several levels of clean in our home: kid clean, parent clean, party ready, show ready.  Our kids have learned the difference between these, but are slow on the actual cleaning part.  We recently added that last one because we are trying to sell our home.  We can tell our kids to clean their room, but that does not mean I can tell a difference!  The routine cleaning and straightening is the low end of the cleaning.  Yet, there is still a difference between their version and my version.  I tend to ask, “If you looked with my eyes would it be clean?”  We make them step it up a bit for parties and gatherings in our home.  As we have tried to sell our home there is the added category of “show ready”.  This is absolute clean.

 

Levels of Conquer

But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live.

The people were told that it is imperative they drive out the inhabitants of the land.  If they did not completely conquer the land it would hurt them later.  As you read Joshua you find out what happened.  The people decided to just “shove it all under the bed” and call it clean.  The people had one idea and God had another.  Because they did not completely conquer the land and people, they became distracted and started worshipping other gods.  It became a bigger mess and more work than if they had just handled it from the beginning.

Levels of Confession

Life has a way of getting us dirty.  At times I cannot understand how my child’s room can get messy so quick.  Isn’t life the same?  How can we get so deep so quick?  How did we get here?  Why did we make that choice?  As we come before God and to confess and repent there are certainly times when we just do a spot check and quick clean.  We must make time for the deeper cleaning, too.

As my daughter finished her room and it was show ready she was giddy with excitement.  In all the days of cleaning it had never been this clean before!  She loved it!  Even “party ready” days were mostly about organizing and shifting things around.  Now her room was absolutely clean.  She wants to keep it that way from now on (her words, not my sentiment).  When we take the time to come clean, show ready clean, before God you will feel unbelievable joy and freedom.

Giving the once over of “forgive my sins” is nothing more than organizing and shifting things around.  No real cleaning has happened.  When we begin to name them one at a time, confess the action and motivation, apologize for the harm done, and seek guidance on not repeating the action you are becoming “show ready”.  Now all who look at your life can marvel at the beauty they find because Jesus is shining through!

Are you show ready today?

The Night the Wipers Died

In Life and Culture on November 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

wipersquit

 

A few days ago I noticed my wipers quit.  I tried everything and checked the fuses but they would not work.  I don’t drive this vehicle all that often so I did not worry too much about it.  Yesterday I got in the truck and it was drizzling a little.  Instinctively I turned on the wipers and they worked.  I praised the Lord all the way to town!  After the meeting I was in town for, I got back in the truck and started home.  As they rain increased heavily, I turned on the wipers.

No wipers.

I was on a dark highway in heavy rain with no wipers that worked.  I slowed way down and could make out the side of the road a little.  Two cars were coming from the other direction and this only complicated matters.  At this speed, I thought about someone coming up from behind so I turned on the hazard blinkers.  I eventually made it to the turn onto my rock road when I paused to take this picture.  As you can see, or not see, everything was blurry.

When we quit confession before God and repentance before man our lives become blurry.  Confession and repentance act like wipers for our souls.  Look at what the Psalmist penned,

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the  Lord  counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the  Lord ,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;    as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Just like the windshield became blurry and the road them difficult to navigate, so do our lives when we quit confession and repentance.

When we quit obedience before God our lives become blurry.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the  Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night.

There is great blessing for the obedient like a clean and clear windshield when driving.  When we become rebellious our lives become difficult.  Fear will rise.  Anxiety will rise.  You will not be able to see where you are going.  You cannot anticipate because you cannot see that far ahead.

I need to get my wipers fixed on my truck.  I also need to make sure my spiritual wipers work too.  Do yours?

 

Going Public

In Faithfulness, Family, Jesus, Journey, Leadership, Missional, Missions on November 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Have you ever done something and then became scared of getting caught?

I am sure the statute of limitations has been exhausted, so I will tell you a story.  It was in the Fall of the year 1979.  The leaves were changing.  The day was beautiful. I asked to be excused from class to go to the bathroom.  While in there, I felt the urge to tp the place.  What started out to just be one stall wound up being the whole facility.  I must say that it was magnificent, but that is beside the point.  I went back to class and continued with the multiplication tables.  Later in the afternoon, the principal came into our class asking if anyone knew about the bathroom that was messed up.There was, in my mind, no choice in this situation.  I did not flinch, sweat, our stammer.  No one knew and they moved on to the next class.  I definately had two problems the rest of the day: need for confession and knottd up stomach.  I did not see the need to put myself in trouble. Why go public?

I grew a conscious through High School.  I sat in geometry behind a girl who had troubles with her boyfriend.  She asked for counsel and advice and I told her to respect herself and that she might need to move on from this guy. I promise, I had no interest in the girl.  She followed the advice and he was not happy. Later, he came around during lunch and began to ask who she had talked to that day.  There was, in my mind, no choice in this situation.  I stood up and told him I had talked with her.  He expressed his discontent and the rest of the story in insignificant for now.  I went public.

Jesus was walking through one day with a crowd pressing him hard.  She had been sick for so many years.  All she wanted was to get better, but had run out of money with the doctors.  She had heard of Him.  Could she believe all she had heard?  After much thought, she concluded that she would believe all she had heard, but what hope was there? The need, determination, and faith overshadowed her fear.  She left the house and found the crowd.  She crawled the masses and timed it just right.  As he passed by, she reached out and touched the robe of Jesus.  Instantly, power passed from Himself to her body.  The energy pierced through her sickness and healed her completely.  While she marvelled at how she felt, Jesus stopped and began asking questions.  At first, she did not hear being so overwhelmed by joy.  Then, she did.  Jesus wanted to know who touched Him.  He had felt power leave Him.  He repeated the question.  Scared out of her mind, the woman spoke up.  She went public.  Jesus praised her for her faith and moved on.

This story reminds me that we should not diminish the impact going public has on a person.  We call for decisions.  We, however, often know of decisions during the week.  I still encourage a person to walk the aisle and tell the church.  This is not vogue anymore.  So many these days just want to be happy with the decision.  We certainly don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable!  We don’t want to cause them any discomfort or embarrassment because that is not seeker sensitive.  The reality is that this is just one story of many where Jesus calls someone out to go public.  He later goes on to say that if we do not go public our spiritual lives will face much difficulty.

Go public.  Call for decisions.  Tell your decisions. Go public and receive the praise of Jesus!

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