For This, Lord, We Repent

A prayer for myself and fellow Christians.

In as much as we have allowed, expected and even required a select paid few to participate in spiritual duties and to share Your story, we have believed You do not allow equal access to Your throne. For this, Lord, we repent.

You also are like living stones, and God is using you to build a spiritual house. You are to serve God in this house as holy priests, offering him spiritual sacrifices that he will accept because of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 ERV

In as much as we have lived a life burdened by fear, guilt and obligation and called it “following You”, we have not believed Your message of freedom. For this, Lord, we repent.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30 MSG

In as much as we have required others to understand countless points of doctrine in the precise fashion that we do prior to allowing them to be baptized, we have believed You require spiritual growth absent of Your power. For this, Lord, we repent.

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.” They spoke the Lord’s word to him and everyone else in his house. Right then, in the middle of the night, the jailer welcomed them and washed their wounds. He and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. Acts 16:31-33 CEB

In as much as we seek to occupy the high places man has created and feel pride in knowing others who do, we have set aside the order of Your kingdom.  For this, Lord, we repent.

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:10 NET

The fear of people becomes a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high. Proverbs 29: 25 NET

In as much as we have closed our eyes to the boundary-crossing of those with prestige and tenure against the weak, preferring to allow some to suffer rather than risk offending the powerful, we have forsaken Your Spirit. For this, Lord, we repent.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8 ESV

In as much as we have excluded ourselves from mingling with others who believe differently than we do or are of a different socioeconomic status, we have been prideful and robbed others of the blessings You wished for us to share.  For this, Lord, we repent.

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV

In as much as we have believed we are a special people, morally superior to others, we have supposed You play favorites. For this, Lord, we repent.

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3: 23-25 ESV

In as much as we present Your grace as being available to the outsider, but remove it from the reach of those who have confessed Your name, we deny the reality of being human. For this, Lord, we repent.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  Romans 7: 18-20,  24, 25 ESV

In as much as we have used baptismal status or desires for such as a manipulative force to change behavior in others, we have twisted the gospel, placing the onus of sanctification on ourselves. For this, Lord, we repent.

God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.  Philippians 2:13 CEV

In as much as we have taught that You have a single plan for our lives which we must search for, find and accomplish in order to live a life acceptable to You, we have believed You to be a controlling micro-manager and inept at bringing good out of all circumstances. For this, Lord, we repent.

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 CEB

In as much as we have claimed that following You leads to a life void of troubles, we have caused doubt in the lives of those facing trials. For this, Lord, we repent.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

In as much as we have asserted to know the unspoken intentions or thought-processes of another and deemed the person righteous or evil, we have removed You from the throne of judgment. For this, Lord, we repent.

The Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does. He will show him greater works than these so that you will marvel.  As the Father raises the dead and gives life, so too does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. The Father doesn’t judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son so that everyone will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. “I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life. John 5: 20-24 CEB

In as much as we have believed we have no moral struggle or downfall in common with an alcoholic, prostitute or murderer, we have fed our self-delusions. For this, Lord, we repent.

So what are we saying? Are we better off? Not at all. We have already stated the charge: both Jews and Greeks are all under the power of sin. Romans 3:9 CEB

In as much as we have clung to our pride over authenticity, we have denied ourselves of the healing You want to provide. For this, Lord, we repent.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 ESV

In as much as we have mistook leadership for power rather than service, we have adopted an earthly world view. For this, Lord, we repent.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14,15 NIV

In as much as we have come to think that we can and absolutely must do it right, get it right, believe it right, understand it right in order to please You, we have imagined You to be exacting. For this, Lord, we repent.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalm 51:16,17 ESV

 

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In as much as we have followed You for what we want from You, we have devalued Your pursuit of our hearts. For this, Lord, we repent.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7 ESV

In as much as we have refused to open the painful places of our hearts and allow You to do the hard work of healing, we have chosen bondage over freedom. For this, Lord, we repent.

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1,2 CEB

In as much as we have closed the door to a progression in spiritual understanding, we have denied Your desire to further reveal Your character. For this, Lord, we repent.

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young will see visions.
    Your elders will dream dreams.  Acts 2:17 CEB

In as much as we have been unable to extend compassion toward others, we have not trusted Your compassion toward us. For this, Lord, we repent.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3: 22-24 MSG

In as much as we have responded to Your commands by saying “All that You have said, we will do”, we have trusted in our promises over Your promises. For this, Lord, we repent.

I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 CEB

In as much as we have belittled others in conversation or in our thoughts so that we could comparatively lift ourselves up, we have rejected the value You have already placed on us. For this, Lord, we repent.

As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”  Romans 9:25,26 ESV

In as much as we have accentuated the weight of guilt in another’s life, thinking we were doing the work of God, we have misunderstood Your mission. For this, Lord, we repent.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 ESV

In as much as we have tried to control others, we have considered You incapable of guiding them on their own journey. For this, Lord, we repent.

If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 CEB

In as much as we have felt obligated to give of our time, money or energy while holding resentment in our hearts for our sacrifice, we have been striving to impress You. For this, Lord, we repent.

Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. 2 Corinthians 9:7 ERV

In as much as we have doubted our own salvation, we have judged You impotent to save. For this, Lord, we repent.

So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Hebrews 7:25 NET

In as much as we have nurtured an atmosphere of fear in regards to the end of time, we have rejected Your message of peace and Your self-sacrificing love. For this, Lord, we repent.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. … I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10: 10, 11, 14, 15 NKJV

In as much as we have monitored and corrected the explicatives spoken by others while living a Christian life void of Your transformational power, we have taken Your name in vain. For this, Lord, we repent.

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. Galatians 5: 22, 23 ERV

In as much as we have thought You were more concerned with the form of our worship than the condition of our hearts, we have adopted paganism and set up our home in Babylon. For this, Lord, we repent.

“I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me. Hosea 6:6 TLB

In as much as we have made religion about behavior modification and doctrinal beliefs and not about knowing and trusting You, we have committed idolatry. For this, Lord, we repent.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39,40 ESV

In as much as we have sought after a leader worthy to follow rather than seeking after You, we have had other gods. For this, Lord, we repent.

Christ gave you a special gift. You still have this gift in you. So you don’t need anyone to teach you. The gift he gave you teaches you about everything. It is a true gift, not a false one. So continue to live in Christ, as his gift taught you. 1 John 2:27 ERV

In as much as I myself have believed and acted on these very things, I have strayed from Your way. For this, Lord, I repent.

 

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Perspective

Thursday morning I stepped out of my car into the sweltering heat. My glasses fogged as I walked into the office building where I work. Without effort, my thoughts headed down a well-worn path.  I rehearsed the why’s of my current location, the what’s of nature I’d rather be surrounded with, and the how’s of potential change. But the when is not now and the where isn’t settled, so I redirected myself to my work, grumbling a bit and enduring on.

Saturday afternoon I slid into the driver’s seat of my car – literally – slid – onto the seat as my legs were so sweaty the usual struggle of sticking was long past. My face was beat red from the couple of hours I’d spent walking on the concrete in the sun and heat surrounded by the buildings of downtown.

And what was that I felt?gratitude?

I was thankful for the option of turning on the air conditioner, blocking out the sun with a visor, and getting ice out of my freezer at home anytime I wanted to. It was hot, at least as hot as Thursday. But spending a couple of hours serving others who aren’t as fortunate as I am, made all the difference in my heart.  I’m sure the people we met appreciated the ice-cream sandwiches and cold water we shared. But interestingly, none of them were grumbling about the weather. And once again my heart told me it is true: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

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May you find the blessings in your own life as well no matter your situation.

 

Broken Dream

She was beautiful.  She was dressed in frilly white with turquoise trim.  Her hair was just so.  Her eyes shone and cheeks blushed.  The moment was magical as the gift was unwrapped. The girl was ecstatic.  Her new dolly was all she’d ever dreamed it would be.

The girl loved her dolly.  She cradled it carefully and spoke softly to her dolly.  She kept the dress white and the hair just right.  Then one day the girl shared her dolly with her friend thinking the friend would value her dolly as she had.  The friend did not care for the dolly or guard it and carelessly left the dolly in a dangerous place where the flood waters swept it away.

Now the dolly lay in the street.  Broken.  Covered in the filth of this world.  Lost.  The little girl cried.

Broken Dream

God says, “I love you, My hurting child.  Come to me.  Bring your broken dreams to Me.  Bring them covered in the filth of this world.  Let Me take them from you.  I’m not going to wipe them off and give them back. No, I’m going to give you what you’ve always wanted but didn’t know yet.  What I have planned for you is better than you ever imagined.  Just come to me with your broken dreams and I will give you rest.”

Big girls dream, too. And the invitation still stands.

Reflections on My Rock Garden

If you haven’t read the last blog “My Rock Garden”, take a minute to go back and read it.  I think there are many morals that could be drawn from the story.

How many times in our lives do we decide we’re going to do something despite words of wisdom being said all around us to the contrary?  Then when we “drop the rock” and we “smash our finger and howl” we turn around to our Heavenly Father and say, “God, why did You let this happen to me?”  Too often.

How many times does God want to save us from the pain of trying to do it ourselves, but loves us so much that He lets us make our own choice?  I believe every time.

How many times when we mess up does God patiently wait and then bring us the “ice bag” to comfort us?  Every time.

How many times would God work in our behalf if we’d just ask Him to take the “rock”?  Most certainly every time we asked.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

“Coming, Father…”

My Love Affair

“It’s me again, God.”

He smiled.  “Hi!  Glad you came.” 

“I’ve been bugging You all day, You know?”

“I know.  I’ve heard you and read all your emails and texts.  I like it when you bug Me.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“I guess I’m pretty needy, God.”

“I know.  That’s what I love most about you.”

“Really?”

“Yep!”

“You are SO COOL!!!”

I smiled and curled up safely in His hands with my head on my pillow.

“Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on the merits of the Saviour.  By prayer, by the study of His word, by faith in His abiding presence, the weakest of human beings may live in contact with the living Christ, and He will hold them by a hand that will never let go.”  MH 182

The Dance

“You formed my inward parts.  You wove me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

“We better throw an extra pinch of determination in this one.  I see what she has coming in life.  She’s going to need it.”

“Good idea, Father.  Long-suffering and endurance will be required for her to run this race and win.”

“Yes, Son.  But You know, the enemy may tempt her to take those traits and turn them against her.  She might begin to think she can do it herself.  She might become stubborn and self-reliant.”

“I know, Father.  It’s a risk.  But I love her so much.  I will give her what she needs.  It will be her choice how she uses it.”

“I love her, too, Son.  I crave the thought of spending eternity with her.  The praise she will give is different than anyone else’s We’ve ever heard.  Each one is special and unique to My ears.  I don’t want to miss out on hers.”

Silence fell on the courts of Heaven.  There was a unanimous deep sigh among the Trinity.

“Son, I know You’re thinking what I’m thinking but I’ll ask anyway.  If she becomes stubborn, independent and self-reliant, would You be willing to pay the price for her?  Would You die for her so that she can live if she chooses to accept Your payment?”

“You know I would, Father.  We’ll need the Spirit to remind her of her options.”

“Consider it done,” breathed the wind of the Spirit.

So she was made and God said it was good and time passed.

“Daddy, help me!” cried out the stubborn, independent, self-reliant one as she looked up from the place she had fallen.

The Creator smiled.  “I’ve been here anxiously hoping you would ask. Now let’s get back to long-suffering and endurance.”  And He spun her around as she held His finger… again.

His smile is just as big every time they dance.   Even though it might be the same tune they danced to the day before, He makes no mention of the repetition.   And each time her feet follow His just a little more closely.

Unfortunately, as I go through life I seem to continually find more “tunes” that require a spin.  Fortunately, God the Father, Son and Spirit have the same conversation about each one.  Before the foundation of the earth was laid, The Plan was made.  Rescue is assured for those who ask.  “Dear God, dance with me today!”

Dark as Night

 

Déjà vu.  I know this feeling.  I’ve been here before.  What am I doing back at this place, Lord?  Did I not learn it the first time?

It was dark.  Too dark to talk about.  No one could see it.  It was in my head.  I would hide it.  But it had a ravenous appetite.  It ate at my joy.  It ate at my peace.  It ate at my happiness and relationships.  So then I decided I had to be rid of it.  Thank goodness it was in my mind.  I had a strong mind.  I could handle my mind.  Or so I thought.   And tried.   And struggled.  For about 12 years.  I was determined, but, unsuccessful.  And it was still dark. 

Then, at just the right time- God.  He shows up not too early, but never late.  He shows up when He knows we’re ready to listen.  He started talking.  And I started listening.  And I decided I better start talking about my silent darkness.  Only to find, to my dismay, it appeared darker than it had looked inside.  It was worse than I had thought.  It looked as though the darkness would indeed consume me until a friend, at just the right time, led me to where I needed to go with my darkness.  And I fell flat on my face under the weight of it all at the foot of the cross.  And I felt God smile because He’d been calling and waiting for so long.  So patient.  And He took the darkness from me.  And I felt Him pick me up to live again as if for the very first time.  And I learned to trust and love Him like never before.   And I looked back and said it was worth it.  The sweetness of it all would not have been there without the struggle.

Then darkness arrived again.  Its name was cancer.  At times it was very dark.  But I had learned trust.  And the darkness, though very dark, never consumed me.  And I saw God leading and guiding and growing and touching all along the way.  I could see His hand despite the outcome as it appeared here in this life.  I could see eternal value in the way hearts were changing.  And it was dark- but oh so bright.

But now, God, where are You?  I’ve been calling to You.  What is the purpose of this pain?  Where is the glory that is coming to Your name by my going through this?  Why can’t we carry on, You and I?  Why must we be stuck in this place? Will it go on forever?  I don’t feel You now.   It’s dark here and I’m crying out.   Are You listening?

My soul knows the answers to those questions.  Because God has provided in my past, I can trust beyond the shadow of a doubt that He will provide in my future.  But I have learned through the school of hard knocks that my mind is, in reality, quite weak.  My head doesn’t always remember the answers and sometimes I require remedial courses in trust.  I learned it the first time.  I learned it as best I could at the time.  And now I’m learning it in a whole new way.  A broader and deeper way.  But yet, learning it again, just the same.  And I know I am actually moving forward, but due to the darkness I can not always perceive the motion.  And I know the next bright light I see will be brighter than the one before.  For after the night, comes the morning.