Prayer of Confession


Prayer of Confession

Acts 27:13-38

The Storm at Sea

When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift.

Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.” After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

Confession is good for the soul. It lightens our load. But many times it is lightening our load during a storm – done not for convenience, but for survival. Confession is also the 5th step to recovery and the more thorough we are in taking it, the more healing and redemption we open ourselves to receive.

Paul knew, through his prayers for guidance and discernment, that it was unwise to set out to sea, but no one listened to him. I wonder, had he not been a prisoner of Rome at that time, if he would have stayed back and let the others perish at sea. This particular time, he was not given the choice.

How often do you find yourself facing the consequences of actions for which you had little choice? Sometimes it may seem unfair to go to God in confession for those sins. Paul led that time of confession for the crew of the whole ship! Many of us have a romanticized vision of Paul, but from the perspective of the soldiers and crew on this prison ship, Paul was a political dissident and a criminal. Perhaps his calm demeanor put them at ease. Or maybe, it made them even more suspicious.

In the middle of that storm, it didn’t matter. People will naturally follow the clearest, calmest soul in the midst of such chaos. It takes a clear soul to lead others in confession. Our own junk has a way of cluttering our vision and giving us wrong vision of how we to lead others around us. Sometimes it even hides itself in false modesty, convincing us that we do not want to lead ourselves, just give helpful advice. I heard Beth Moore speak on this topic once in reference to the scripture:

Matthew 10:27

What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

She spoke about the temptation to take what we hear from God and immediately share it with everyone around us before we find out how to actually apply it to our own lives. I have experienced this to be true in preaching especially. My best sermons are the ones that I learn to live before I preach them.

You have to pray your own prayers of confession before you can lead others in them. And sometimes we have to pray them in the storm, not just when it is convenient. Like Paul, God is not going to save us from all the consequences of our sin, but He will spare us from some of it and He will redeem the situation to show everyone around just how marvelous a God He is.

What do you have to confess?


Prayer for personal discernment


Prayer for personal discernment

John 8:31-38

True Disciples

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

The third prayer we pray is a prayer of personal discernment. As we listen to God’s guidance we begin to begin to compare our actions first, but eventually our very character with the truth that god speaks to us.

This prayer reaches from God, through our own spiritual ears, and into our hearts and leads us into what those following the 12 Steps refer to as a “moral inventory”. Jesus led His disciples in this practice routinely, often in debriefing moments after healing and teaching the crowds around Him. He tested them even as He led them to learn to test themselves.

Here in John’s gospel we are shown the important link between our disobedience and sin. We sin, not only out of rebellious choices, but perhaps even deeper, because we are slaves of sin. The popular song below reminds us that in Christ we have freedom from that slavery to sin and death, or more specifically as the song suggests, to fear. What does fear have to do with slavery to sin? Fear keeps us from looking at it.

From the bloody cinema classic, The Usual Suspects, we get the line: “The greatest trick the devil every pulled was convincing the works that he did not exist.” This article, from Heathwood Press examines the progression of such a notion, but ends up in a form of self-condemnation, tripping over the concept of the devil “myth”. Mythos does not mean make believe. It means does not describe the truth or falsity of a claim. It refers to the format it is communicated – specifically, as a story. (For example, any explanation of the creation of the works that begins “thousands of years ago, in a place far, far away” is told as myth whether it is followed by the story from Genisis, the Big Bang, or Star Wars. Scientific, verifiable evidence would be video footage of the actual event.) When we make an external evil non-existent, we lay the blame squarely on ourselves. While in one light, this provides motivation to change, it also begs the question: Why haven’t we learned to overcome evil as a society? if the answer to that is that we are unable, it logically determines something (or someone) holding a dominating power over our will. Hence, as Jesus says, if we win, we are slaves to it. Fear holds us back from confronting that fear – and our refusal to confront it leads to an inability to change.

One last example from the pagan works on the importance of naming the enslaving forces in our lives comes from Plato in his Allegory of a Cave. Truth that we cannot see has power over us. Truth that we will not see has just as much power, but it is more tragic. What Jesus gives US is the ability to see, little by little, that power that enslaves us, so that we, in turn, can return and ask Him for help.

What sin has enslaved you?

The Art and Science of God – Cracks in the Foundation


The Art and Science of God

Cracks in the Foundation

Isaiah 25:1-5

Praise for Deliverance from Oppression

O Lord, you are my God;

I will exalt you, I will praise your name;

for you have done wonderful things,

plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

For you have made the city a heap,

the fortified city a ruin;

the palace of aliens is a city no more,

it will never be rebuilt.

Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;

cities of ruthless nations will fear you.

For you have been a refuge to the poor,

a refuge to the needy in their distress,

a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.

When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm,

the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place,

you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds;

the song of the ruthless was stilled.

Probably the biggest criticism of Christian Theology is the problem of evil and suffering in the world. It is the “catch-22”) of humanity. We want to have freedom of choice and we want to have God be in charge of everything… except ourselves. We want God to control our neighbors but leave us alone. We want to have our cake and eat it too… and can you really blame us?

That’s our perspective. God however, has long been in the business of cleaning house. Sometimes our own dirt gets in the way and we get cleaned up ourselves. It is often a painful ordeal. Especially when we fight Him over it. It is not always easy to tell whether it is God cleaning us up or suffering coming down upon us from some other source. Saul – who would later be renamed Paul, the Apostle, had a famous conversation with a Jewish leader shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Saul spoke with Gamalial while he tried to figure out what to do about the growing number of disciples following Jesus, who was supposed to be dead. Gamalial cautioned him and the other Jewish leaders:

“Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”

Sometimes, instead of humanity trying to bend God to our will, we submit, surrender, and put God in charge. Yes, it doesn’t seem to happen often enough, but it does indeed happen. Most of the time, it takes very little human effort to encourage us to make those decisions, and more self-reflection upon the path we are headed down.

Jonah, for example, finally did go to Ninevah, and preached probably the shortest sermon in the history of the world. There was no worship band. There was absolutely nothing entertaining about it. He may have still smelled of fish guts out in the marketplace. Worst of all – he gave no instructions on what the people should do to get their lives right! He literally just told them their life was over and left them to deal with it all on their own. (This is one of the worst examples of preaching I have ever come across.)

However, in spite of this pitiful effort (or lack thereof) from Jonah, one of the world’s greatest revivals broke out here. The entire nation repented, fasted, and prayed. They even made their livestock fast. Can you imagine the backlash that would occur if our own country – supposedly founded upon Christian principles were forced to fast and pray to God. Even our own Christians would throw a fit. Americans don’t fast. But the pagan Ninevites did, and God won them over with the worst example of preaching and pastoral guidance.

Jonah 3

Conversion of Nineveh

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. “

Mark Batterson has a really good concept of this surrender and submission to God’s will. I have not read his books, but I have heard him speak about his idea of circle making. The short of it is that we draw a circle and pray for God to bring revival (think surrender and submission to God’s will) within that circle. More importantly, we do not start by drawing a circle around our neighbor’s house. We draw the circle around ourselves. Revival begins with ourselves.

Jonah didn’t get this. But Saul/Paul would. Peter would. John would. The wonder of this all is that even when people do not get it, and refuse to let God come and change their lives, God still works in, around, and sometimes through them to bring salvation to those all around them.

God is using us all as examples. That is His business and His way of keeping His all-powerful hand at the helm of creation. We have the freedom to choose whether we will be good examples or bad examples. I can’t help but think that when the people of Ninevah saw Jonah puked up out of a giant fish upon their shores, they gave a second thought to whether they should ignore the threat of destruction from a God who was not afraid to treat even His own prophets with such creative severity. If Jonah, who was one of God’s people, faced that kind of gross discipline from God, what hope would a nation of God’s enemies had. I think even Jonah’s disobedience added to the effect of God’s message to Ninevah. The cracks in the foundation of God’s power to work in this world only continue to show us that the world will not hold together without Him holding us together Himself.

If God brought revival into your life, even in a small circle around you today, what would you have to submit to and surrender to Him?

7 Godly Sins? – the Sloth of God


7 Godly Sins? – the Sloth of God

If God lets tragedies and disasters happen which He could have prevented, is it Sloth?

Joshua 3:1-17

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”

When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

There is a short comic strip that will ruin The Lord of the Rings for you with one glance. Whether you are a fan of the book or movies, it doesn’t matter. Despite Tolkien’s beautiful language and powerful imagination, some people have pointed out the major plot hole that the stories could have been 2 and ¾ books/movies shorter if they had just called the eagles to fly them over Mount Doom to begin with, instead of waiting until the very end. Here is a short video that explains why that would not work:

We can laugh and joke about ideas like this, but many have taken this same situation and applied it to God and His relationship to people in in our world. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just do all the work for us and save us from danger, toil, and snares. Wouldn’t he be considered slothful or lazy if He did not?

God wiped out the entire Egyptian army in one fell swoop. Why then did He make the Israelites carry His ark and fight their way into and through the Promised Land? These are valid questions…Good questions even. But they do not offer the complete picture. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves is it easier to give a man a fish and feed him for a day or to teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime? Most would say just feeding him is easier. Easier is not the same as better though, and the easier path often ends up being the path of sloth in the end.

It might be easier for parents to feed children through feeding tubes, keeping them locked in rooms, safe and secure from the world. Most would call that abuse though, not the kind of love that goes the extra mile. It is harder to let them go and grow, making their own decisions, and gradually allowing them to join in the work of the entire family. That is what I believe God is trying to do with us.

It means allowing us the freedom to try, even though God could always do better Himself. It is not because He desperately needs us to help Him. Rather I think it is that we desperately need to be a part of His work in this world to give our lives purpose. Even Jesus called the disciples to do things He could have easily done Himself. Here he asks them to go tell people about his resurrection, right before He planned on visiting them and showing them Himself. There is no logical necessity of the act from the perspective of just spreading the news about the resurrection. Jesus Himself was much more credible. But I think it was important for the growth and development of the disciples themselves.

Matthew 28:1-101

The Resurrection of Jesus

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Pointing our finger at the laziness of God regarding tragedy and disasters is a bit of a cop out if we are unable or unwilling to do anything to prevent or bring healing to them ourselves, and looking for sloth in God usually only exposes it in ourselves.

What is one thing you wish God would do for you today?

What have you done about that situation yourself?

What is one thing that God wishes you would do today?

  1. (Mk 16:1–8; Lk 24:1–12; Jn 20:1–10)

7 Godly Sins? – the Envy of God


7 Godly Sins? – the Envy of God

If God punishes people for believing in a different God, is it Envy?

Exodus 15:1-181

The Song of Moses

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;

horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and my might,

and he has become my salvation;

this is my God, and I will praise him,

my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a warrior;

the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea;

his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea.

The floods covered them;

they went down into the depths like a stone.

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power—

your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries;

you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble.

At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,

the floods stood up in a heap;

the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,

I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.

I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’

You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;

they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?

Who is like you, majestic in holiness,

awesome in splendor, doing wonders?

You stretched out your right hand,

the earth swallowed them.

“In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;

you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

The peoples heard, they trembled;

pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;

trembling seized the leaders of Moab;

all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.

Terror and dread fell upon them;

by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone

until your people, O Lord, passed by,

until the people whom you acquired passed by.

You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession,

the place, O Lord, that you made your abode,

the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.

The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

Like many sins, love is often misconstrued as sin, and vice versa. Envy is one of those sins which is particularly susceptible to this misperception.

Looking at words or even watching actions from afar is often not enough to tell whether love is true or not. I can understand how someone could take a look at the 10 commandments and see envy present in God. After all, the first two commandments are about worshipping Him and Him alone. How could that not be envious?

Furthermore, the whole account of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt is like one giant example of God punishing people for not following Him, both from the Egyptians as well as among the Hebrew people themselves. Moses sings about this in his song that retells their experience escaping Egypt.

What exactly does it mean to belong to a God?

According to the Baal worship in Canaan, which was actually a collection of regional gods worshipped in similar ways, sacrifices were made in worship ceremonies. Most of these sacrifices were of grain or livestock. This was not unlike the sacrifices the Hebrews would offer YHWH. These sacrifices show that the Baal’s favor must be bought with regular offerings.

After the sacrifices the community would engage in sexual acts as a depiction of this God, and sometimes goddess of fertility. While I’m sure there were some that enjoyed this part of the service, I’m also sure that not everyone was their of their own choice. Young boys and girls were likely initiated into this practice against their will, the same way the are trafficked all over the world today.

In some cases, it was even worse. Gods like Dagon and Molech often demanded child sacrifices, burned along with their food offerings. Over time it would be understood by the people that everything they had, their bodies, and even their lives belonged to that God. They were slaves of a hungry, envious God.

YHWH was different though. He did not ask to have his favor earned ever. He asked only for gratitude for what He had already done. He forbade all human sacrifices and community sexual exploits. God’s laws were set up not so He would possess us, but so that His people would choose him each day.

Let’s look at those first two commandments from another perspective.

If a parent tells their children not to get into cars with strangers, we all understand that as a desire to keep the children safe, not to prevent them from possibly going home and being adopted by someone richer and/or more loving. We applaud that act and call it good parenting. Does that make them jealous of the affection of their children. Not necessarily. Or if a person sees children caught in an abusive situation or being neglected and wants to help them out by getting custody of them, does that make them envious? Not necessarily. In some cases it might be envy that is motivating the would-be caregivers, but often it is compassion instead.

I expect it is the term “caregiver” that makes the difference between envy and love. Is your God providing care or just asking for your devotion. Is your God demanding payment for services rendered, or merely looking for gratitude. This is what set God apart from all others in the Old Testament and it is what set Jesus apart from all the false teachers and messiahs in the New Testament as well.

What does your God ask of you?

What does your God provide for you?

  1. (Ex 14:13–14; Ps 78:12–14)

Gruesome and Glorious


Gruesome and Glorious

Romans 7:13–25 (NRSV)

Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

I have been a part of conversations, often held in hospital rooms, where doctors do their best to convince people that they will live longer and better without their legs, arms, or other body parts that have become so infected that they are poisoning everything near them. We often see death as an end in itself, but the scriptures testify that death is not an end – it is a sickness of the spirit that eats away at our flesh because of sin. Death takes hold like gangrene in our lives and destroys us piece by piece. Shame tells us that we need to hide it away from the light of day. Wisdom however, tells us that we need to cut ourselves free of it. ]

That important shift in perspective can make all the difference. When I claim that sickness as our own, I feel like I am losing a significant part of me in the separation. But if I can come to an understanding that this tumor (though it be in me) is not of me. While it may share space and experiences with me, it is not who I am. I am right handed… but if I were to lose my right hand, I would not cease to be Tony. There would be plenty that would change, but I am not valued for what I do or for specific parts of me. I am valued because God made me.

Augustine struggled with this idea that we are creatures of earthly desires that pull us downward, but are given a gift from God that draws us heavenward. He writes:

“My weight is my love; by it am I borne whithersoever I am borne. By Thy Gift we are inflamed, and are borne upwards; we wax hot inwardly, and go forwards. We ascend Thy ways that be in our heart,5 and sing a song of degrees; we glow inwardly with Thy fire, with Thy good fire, and we go, because we go upwards to the peace of Jerusalem; for glad was I when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” There hath Thy good pleasure placed us, that we may desire no other thing than to dwell there for ever.”1

King David wrote that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Gruesome and Gloriously caught in the tension between Heaven and Earth, Life and Death, Sickness and Redemption. Christ lifts us up and we can soar if only we are willing to let go of the weight that holds us down.

Where are you today? Flying or Falling?

What do you need to let go of in order to fly closer to God?

  1. Augustine of Hippo. (1886). The Confessions of St. Augustin. In P. Schaff (Ed.), J. G. Pilkington (Trans.), The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin with a Sketch of His Life and Work (Vol. 1, p. 193). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company. 

Airing out


Airing out

Psalm 32

The Joy of Forgiveness

Of David. A Maskil.

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

-The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 32). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

One of my favorite stories I heard about my dad was the time he bought vinyl shoes. Apparently they were very comfortable, and he was so excited about them. By the end of the day though, his feet felt like they were on fire because the shoes did not allow his feet to breathe.

That is how our souls can get if we cover ourselves up with too much shiny, plastic faith. It looks good on the outside, but inside, we are burning up and suffocating. This is also how David described his life when he was covering up his sin.

Dad went home, got a pocket knife, and began to cut holes in those shoes. It didn’t look so good anymore, and they did not last long – but at least his feet could breathe again. David also found relief in acknowledging his sin to God. In those days, acknowledging sin meant more than just going off into a dark, quiet room, and whispering to God that you were sorry. It meant repenting of that sin and seeking to restore or heal whatever damage had been done. Then, you had to bring a sacrifice to the Temple in public. While everyone may not know what sin you specifically committed, they would know you had done something wrong. Like going up to the altar for prayer during a church service – everyone saw you.

Confession brought David relief. Instead of worrying about what people were saying about him, he celebrated God’s love and vowed to share this love and way of life with others.

What do you need to air out today?

Is it time to cut some breathing holes or is it time to get some new shoes?