Is confession really good for the soul?

Pr. 28:13:  “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

I witnessed a beautiful example of this a few months ago.  Someone that I know was caught in an act of sin.  Ashamed and determined to regain trust, this person then decided that immediate confession was imperative.  I was present as they confessed their sin to their spouse.

I watched the range of emotions that came with that confession.  Satan tries to convince us that sin only affects us, and that everything is fine, but sin hurts, and no one is immune.

Had this person covered their sin, it would have eaten away at their soul, and caused their sin to grow and lead to other sinful habits.  Not only that, but their loved one may have found out so late and after so many lies, that trust could not have been rebuilt.

Fortunately, God’s Word is true.  Even with the pain that this confession brought, the fact that the truth was told gave their spouse a chance to choose to offer forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  I heard this person’s spouse say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Ro. 3:23.

We all sin.  None of us want to admit it, but the fact remains.  I was very much in awe of this person who chose to confess and be held accountable.  What an admirable example for us all.

And what an amazing example I saw in their spouse as well.  If a broken, sinful spouse can forgive and offer mercy, how much more does our Father in Heaven offer to us.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life one’s friends.  God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Eph. 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

We may not all receive mercy from others while on this earth, but Christ died to offer us mercy ahead of time.  He has already paid the price for our sins, and His mercy and forgiveness are available to us all.  That is worth a confession.

Inspired,

jamie

Scripture references John 15:13, Ro. 3:23, Ro. 5:8

It’s about the war…not the battle

Pr. 20:3:  “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.”

It’s interesting how many things can become the focus of a quarrel within the church.  Is it best if the communion flowers are red (like the color of blood) or white (the color of purity)?  Should the music be contemporary or traditional?  Is it appropriate for a Pastor to lock himself away with God for an entire day or should he be the one visiting all the sick?

Most of us have heard the phrase, “Pick your battles.”  This holds true even within the church.

Is it the most important thing that the color of the carpet is exactly right or that the name of Jesus is being spoken from the pulpit?  Is it more important that the order of service not be disrupted than that a hurting brother or sister is being ministered to?  Are the political, attire, or translation choices more of an issue than the fact that the saving Word of God is being shared with the lost?

It’s amazing how quickly we can become distracted.  Things that have no eternal value become the focus of our lives and can cause quarrels and divisions.

Solomon reminds us that anyone can start a quarrel, but being the one who drops out of or doesn’t join the fight is honorable.  Pride can sometimes cause us to not want to give up or give in, but honor seems a much better thing to earn than the “win” of a meaningless battle.

Let’s stop striving about things that won’t matter in the end, and start focusing on the job at hand.  There are people dying around us while we’re busy arguing about carpet and musical choices.  Why would anyone want to serve a God that cares more about the carpet than He does about them?

We were called to preach the gospel and to baptize.  Demonstrating the love, peace, and honor that comes from serving the Great I AM is the way to start.

Let’s fight for things that matter…the souls of those around us!  And leave the rest to the fools.

Loving you,

jamie

A fine line

Pr. 19:23:  “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.”

Attempting to guide my children in the truths of the Bible isn’t always easy.  Lately I’ve been unsure if I’m handling things right.

While trying to teach them about sin, I am very nervous that I might leave out the beauty of grace.  Then, while I’m busy teaching grace, I have an ever-present fear that I’m leaving no room for accountability and repentance.

This morning I bumped into this Proverb about ‘the fear of the Lord,’ and I realize that the only answer for me as a parent is to walk this fine line with a foundation of prayer and trust in the Lord.

In my own strength, I will never be able to teach them exactly right.  The beauty of God’s word is that it does not return to Him void.  It accomplishes what God pleases, and will prosper in the purpose for which it was sent.  (Is. 55:11)  Therefore, I must conclude that speaking the Word into my children’s lives is my job.  Accomplishing what God pleases is His.

Also, I must keep in mind that I was not created as The Holy Spirit.  While it is my job to guide and teach my children, it is the Holy Spirit who will bring to their remembrance the things they’ve learned about God as they walk through their lives.  (Jn. 14:26)

Fear of the Lord is something I can demonstrate in my own life and in the way I teach and train my children.  The more we learn about God, the more our own values and character will be fashioned after His.

I must also demonstrate what it means to grow in Christ.  While speaking to my daughter about self-control a few weeks ago, I realized that I’m not bearing that same fruit in certain areas in my own life.  So, I had to make some adjustments.  Allowing her to see those weaknesses in me and to see how I choose to confront them will testify my beliefs to her more than any words I could ever speak.

So, do I know exactly how to walk this thin line of teaching sin and grace at the same time.  Definitely not.  But I know the One who does and I am reminded that not only is His strength is made perfect in my weakness, but that He loves and cares for my children even more than I ever could.  He will guide and water them as His own. I just need to plant the seeds.

I’m thinking the best way to teach them is for me to continue to stay grounded in Him.  Thank you, Lord, for this reminder.  I trust in You.

Learning,

jamie

What are you preaching?

Pr. 21:29:  “A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way.”

Yesterday we talked about our beautiful feet, and how our lives, that point to Jesus, preach.  (You have beautiful feet)  Notice the catch there?  When our lives point to Jesus, we preach His gospel.  When our lives do not, well…

Sometimes I preach fear.  Didn’t God say He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind?  Sometimes I’m so tired that it would almost seem like my strength doesn’t come from the Lord.  Sometimes I worry so much that I appear to have no Provider that faithfully supplies all my needs.

When we our willingly living in sin, we point others to satan.  When we allow bondage and temptation to drive our actions, we are preaching something other than the freedoms that come from Christ.  When we talk only about things gone wrong in our lives or our world, we preach that praise is not our weapon.  When we don’t open our Bibles to seek or our mouths to pray, we preach that we have no need of a Savior.

If our actions preach, then we need to be very aware of which actions we are choosing.  We must not harden our hearts or faces.  Ro. 12:1 begs that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; reminding us that this is our reasonable service.

When we establish our way, our actions will reflect that choice.  We must not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove (preach) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God will renew our minds daily when we spend time with Him.  His mercies are new each morning.  He is the portion we need every day, and when we have established our way in Him we can have the strong assurance in the hope we have in Him.  With that, our lives will preach the gospel of peace…the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Established,

jamie

You have beautiful feet

Pr. 20:12:  “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.”

This Proverb reminds us that the Lord made every part of us, and each part is to be used for His service.  He made ears to hear the gospel.  He made eyes to see His glory in creation, and to see those around us who are hurting and need our help.

There are ears that still need to hear the Word of God.  There are ears that need to know they have a Savior who cares so much for them that He would willingly lay down His life for their own.  There are ears that need to know they are worthy of such a Savior.

Romans 10:14 asks, “How shall they hear without a preacher?”  We are the preachers.  We are the voices those ears need to hear.  The Lord made those ears to hear of Him.  It’s up to us to make sure the message reaches them.

We don’t need a pulpit in order to preach.  We preach when we pray for someone who has a need.  We preach when we give our time, in the name of Jesus, for someone who feels they’re unworthy of it.  We preach when we share a scripture to encourage the one who is being oppressed by the enemy.  We preach when we tell someone about Jesus.  We preach when we give praise to God for the blessings in our lives.  We preach when we sing songs about the Lord to our children.  We preach when we tell the truth, no matter the consequences.  We preach when we turn the other cheek, or when we avert our eyes from temptation.

Our lives preach to the seeing eyes and the hearing ears that the Lord made.  When everything about our lives point to Jesus, His gospel is being shared.

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!  Ro. 10:15

Whether it’s a pair of sweat pants, a suit, or a uniform, let’s get our preaching clothes on today, get our beautiful feet moving, and speak up.  Those eyes and ears are waiting.

Warming up my voice,

jamie

Keeping calm because you understand

Pr. 17:27:  “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

Sometimes it’s what we don’t say that makes all the difference.

Although we aren’t “rebel-rousers,” getting into all kinds of mischief, Donnie and I upset someone on our vacation last week.  We apparently broke a rule, and boy did the person in charge get upset.

At first we thought he was just letting us know, since it was clear that we were unaware.  By the time he got done talking at us, he was so upset that he called the police.  Donnie’s version of this story is different than mine…apparently there were lots of words that Donnie spared when we were confronted by this man.  I was kind of in shock at the level of anger he was displaying.

We both remained calm and simply told the man that he should do what he thought was best.  30 minutes later, the police pulled up and spoke to us.  We admitted to breaking the rule and apologized that it was because of our actions that he had to drive out to where we were.  The police officer was very nice and understanding of the circumstance, simply insisting that we no longer break the rules.

I know how many other ways that situation could have gone.  There could have been yelling, fighting, etc. between us and the man or even us and the police officer.  Someone certainly could have been arrested.  We could have been rude and gotten a ticket.  We could have even pushed our side and maybe ‘put the man in his place’, but certainly not offered mercy.

I am thankful for role knowledge and understanding took in our lives in that moment.  After the man spoke to us, our kids, who were with us, were upset.  They were worried that we would be arrested, or that even they would.  We were able to use that as a teaching moment.

Had we gotten upset, said every word that crossed our minds, or argued and fought, we would not have been able to calmly and unquestionably show and tell our kids that God takes care of us.  No matter what happens, we told them, God takes care of us; and we showed that by behaving as though we really believed it.  And God, indeed took care of us.

Our kids were able to see an example of how choosing to be calm and spare your words can truly work best.  That’s especially good at their age, when they think that almost anything is worth arguing about.  ha!  No matter how things turn out, choosing to trust God is never the wrong decision.

It’s clear that all this wisdom and understanding we’re gaining from God’s Word is truly worth more than gold or silver.  Keeping a situation from blazing out of control is priceless.

Calmly preparing to enter my day,

jamie

 

Happy Birthday to a light of God

Pr. 1:8:  “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.”

When I was a young teenager I got nose bleeds pretty regularly.  I remember my nose bleeding during a hiking trip with my mom.  Because we were outdoors, with no tissues available, my mom took the sock right off her foot and gave it to me to use to help with the bleeding.  She walked the mile back in a tennis shoe with no sock.

While as imperfect as any of the rest of us, my mother taught me that 2 wrongs do not make a right, that if I’m too sick to do what is expected of me then I’m too sick to do what is fun, and that if you say you are going to do something then you need to do it.  More than teaching me, though, she showed me those things by the way she lived her own life.

Still more important than any of that; however, she pointed me to Jesus.  My mother has taught my Sunday school class several times.  (Thanks for the sardines during the story of the Feeding of the 5,000)  I have been her assistant in the nursery at church, during VBS, and been by her side doing mission work, as well.  I have sung side by side with her, in trios, and in the choir.

My dad tried to help me with Algebra in high school.  He took me fishing and even “let” me dig up the worms.  He taught me to drive a 5-speed, and made me get back in a car to drive the day after I totaled my first car so I wouldn’t live in fear.  He worked swing shifts for 2 decades to give me a roof over my head and food on the table.

More important that any of that; however, he pointed me to Jesus.  I have bowed my head countless times as my father prayed in church.  I’ve sat under his leadership as an elder in our church.  I’ve sat on the pews in church buildings he has helped build.  I remember him spending his days off work mowing the church lawn and making repairs.  He showed me, through his actions, that church was important hearing the Word of God was a priority for our family.

Both my mother and father showed me what work ethic means and that there is nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it.  More important than any of that; however, they pointed me to Jesus.

Today is my mom’s birthday.  I am thankful for a mother who has demonstrated for me, in countless ways, wisdom, a servant’s heart, and a sacrificial life.  I am thankful for a father who demonstrated respect for the Lord and His house, humility in leadership, and responsibility in caring for the things God has entrusted to you.

I wish I could go back to all the times when I did not heed my dad’s instructions, or I did forsake the law of my mom.  I am thankful; however, that their lives were examples of what they truly believed.  Truly their actions pointed me to the One who matters and my life, as a result, has led me straight to His arms.

Thank you mom and dad.

I love you dearly,

jamie