Posted tagged ‘confession’

Praying From the Past To the Future

May 1, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         May 1, 2018

                        

“Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge!” (Matthew 6:13, The Message)

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One!” (Matthew 6:13, NIV)

When I pray I have a habit of praying about the “not yet” right away!

“Lord, give me strength to get through a day of teaching sixth grade language arts!”

“Lord, help me to deal with that person when I have to see him next week!”

My prayer life has been dominated by situations and events that are in my future path. I noticed, however, when Jesus taught his followers how to pray and gave them a modeling prayer to help them understand he talked about the past and the present before he got to the future.

He suggests that we pray about our present needs and our past failures. The present is about the simple and uncomplicated…”bread!”…the essential for now!

The past is about the moments that haunt us, the ill spoken words, and the inaction in those situations where a response was needed. As a Baptist I don’t enter a confessional booth and reveal my transgressions to a priest, and yet that may be a missing element of my faith journey. It becomes too easy to race blindly into the future! When we don’t deal with our past it clouds the clarity of the future.

There are wounds in our memories that haven’t received the treatment of grace and forgiveness. The peripheral vision of our faith walk is lacking because of the blurring of our past. I think Jesus is leading us to get a grip on our past in preparation for our future. Many of us “avoid” the past as if it never happened. My understanding of how God will lead me from here, however, is influenced by the trail of my steps behind me.

This is true for churches, also! If a congregation hasn’t dealt with its past- how it mistreated a staff member, how judgmental it was towards a family dealing with a relational failure, or demeaning it he’d been towards women- it will most assuredly mis-step into its future.

And so Jesus advises us to deal with our history as we pave the path in front of us.

Getting Hungry Again

May 21, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         May 20, 2016

                                      

Excuse me for being blunt, but stomach viruses suck! They are a nauseating form of “unloading.” I’ve been the “Baptist priest” a few times over the years for people going through 12-step programs, and the fifth step is a time of confession. It’s the unloading of all the “stuff” that they’ve done.

Stomach viruses are the unloading of all the stuff that has accumulated. Unfortunately for me I had a large dinner just a few hours before the virus raised its ugly head. It will be a while before I can look at stuffed baked potatoes again!

I won’t go into details about my kneeling positions for a day, but let’s just say the refrigerator was safe from me invading it for a whole day. I got a lot lighter in a short amount of time. It was not pretty! I was not pretty!

Yesterday afternoon I started getting hungry again. Last night was my first meal in two days: wood plank salmon cooked on the grill, with asparagus and white rice.

Today I’m reflecting on the experience…not the porcelain throne kneeling moments, but rather the similarities between unloading all the stuff in our life and coming back to a point of being spiritually hungry.

We have that tendency, that habit, of filling our lives with “the stuff” of the world…the craving for more money, the lust for more power and prestige, for things that aren’t beneficial, for moments of escape from reality that distort our view of that reality. And then we have, what I call a “Come To Jesus Moment”, where sometimes by our own choice, but, more often than not, because of someone else’s pressure, we come clean. It’s an excruciating experience that we feel ashamed about as we throw up all the deception and garbage that we’ve been hiding.

And yet it is a freeing experience as well! Confession is good for the soul, and yet we rarely come to it of our own volition. It’s like a colonoscopy that we dread like crazy, but after having it experience a peace of mind that everything is okay. (My wife has one next week, so I thought I would just thrown that example in there.)

And then…there is the point where we reach “hunger” again. The grace of God and forgiveness of God wrapped in the love of the saints brings us to that point in the journey where we seek to stay on the path…to go deeper…to experience a drawing close to the Holy. It’s a special time, unobstructed by what I’ve allowed to block the way. Words from the Word take on special meaning. Prayer becomes a time of listening and less of talking. Worship becomes more intimate, less noisy, and not defined by a church bulletin.

It’s a place we want to stay at, and yet we know we won’t. In the midst of the hunger we know that there will be some of those other urges that gradually creep in. Hopefully we will learn from what we have just been through and be wiser because of it. Hopefully the hunger for spiritual nourishment will guide our coming days, that the kneeling we will be doing will be more about surrendered worship and less about remorse.

And so we journey freer…for now…comforted by the fact that the grace of God goes with us, and his peace is upon us.

Stomach viruses still suck, but at least it made me think!

Dirty Windshields

January 18, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      JANUARY 18, 2013

I was following an oversized SUV down the road the other day. A red light brought a halt to our drive for a few moments, and I noticed the back windshield was displaying the accumulated results of our recent period of cold, snow, and ice. It was caked over…like a double-layer kind of cake! In fact, it was so plastered with mud, slush, and ice that there was no way the driver could see anything behind him if he looked straight back.

Been there. Done that. I’m more conscientious of the outward appearance of my car than I am of the clothes I’m wearing. I don’t pretend to understand it. It must go back to my Kentucky roots with the old Ford truck my grandfather drove. Perhaps there was less dirt back in the 50’s, but it never seemed to be soiled at all. The only evidence of use was some bits of hay in the bed let over from taking a bale to the cattle.

But the back windshield of this SUV also had two words written into the grime.

“Clean me!”

When someone can see the words in the dirt you know the car wash is needed. Call it “automotive confession!” There needs to be a cleansing.

The amazing thing is that the build-up of debris usually takes a good amount of time, but a run through the car wash returns the shine in just a few moments.

Yesterday the first part of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired. He admitted to doping during his cycling career, which included seven consecutive Tour de France victories between 1999 and 2005. Back in those days we all cheered for Lance to win. He had come through testicular cancer. He had battled back. It was a story made for the movies, a “feel good” moment! We didn’t want to believe it when there were accusations about him. Most of us shook it off as poor European losers jealous of the American.

There was a film forming on the back windshield of the story, but we mistook it for cloudy conditions or the glare of the sun in our eyes.

I obviously don’t know Lance Armstrong, but I wonder about carrying the sin around for so many years. How did he cope? How was he able to continually deny any wrongdoing? Did it become easier to live the lie? Did layer get caked upon layer to where it just became easier not to notice?

My hope is that the confession, the cleansing, will allow him to begin a new life. I’m sure he will be the butt of many jokes, ridicule, and cruel remarks. Denial of wrongdoing for so long has that as a one of it’s repercussions, but perhaps he will no longer be afraid to look out of his back windshield.

We live in a culture that, if you will, is eager to see the dirt on someone in front of us while, at the same time, pretending to be blind to what it sticking to our backs.

The amazing thing about the Gospel is grace. Grace asks “can I help you clean up the mess?” Grace knows that none of us are dirt-resistant. Grace is not okay with sin, and yet knows that each one of us has to deal with sin.

I grieve for Lance Armstrong, but I grieve even more for those who can’t see their own back windshields.