Tag Archives: absolution

Confession or separation and from whom

Unconfessed sin isn’t fooling anyone. God certainly knows, and come on those around you? They know. Unconfessed sin also separates us, from each other and from God. God knows, but since you have chosen to suppress, conceal, downplay, dismiss, your sin separates you from a perfect, holy God. Hasn’t a child, spouse, someone close tried to ignore unconfessed sin with you? Can’t you sense a very real separation from that person until you come to grips with that person and their sin. As a fellow sinful being we can kind of understand that, and God certainly understands and forgives, but can’t you still sense the distance, separation, even barrier it has created?

Mark Buchanan points out in Peter love covers a multitude of sins. Sure we get it, you are forgiven, Jesus died for that sin. Pastor Buchanan points out “Love can’t cover over what pride or shame covers up.’ He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.’ (Proverbs 28:13) (Your God is too Safe p 170) Last I checked pride is sin, aren’t we compounding the original sin or subsequent sin? Sin does create separation and barriers: “If anyone is going to love you and if you are going to love anyone the way Scripture exhorts and commands, you’re going to have to show someone the real you. The real you will have to stand up. You’ll need to confess.” (Ibid)

I really like how Pastor Buchanan expands on what this separation and barrier of unconfessed sin creates. Are we Christians, loving not just each other, but those who may even actively oppose us? And not this phoney, shmaltzy, cheesey love. Love is genuine put it on the line, up to the point of sacrificing your life for the best and betterment of someone who truly needs you to stand up for them? How can we truly be the Body of Christ, to trust our lives, to truly be a part of the integrated Body of Christ, if we let sin, pride separate us. We still need to use discretion, as I pointed out in my last blog, there is someone who you should trust with high confidence. Your Pastor. At least as a Lutheran, your pastor has a high level of training, is under the seal of the confessional, which is still recognized under secular and canonical law, who cannot discuss anything with anyone else that you discuss with him. As you grow in relationship with other Christians, sure you should be much more open with them. But remember your pastor has a lot to offer, including: “as a called and ordained servant of Jesus Christ I tell you, for Him, that you are forgiven.” You want an authority figure on the matter, who is better suited than your pastor?

But Buchanan presents the perspective of a regular practice of unconfessed sin: “The first is that Christian fellowship becomes a masquerade – a game of hide-and-seek, of pretense and jargon, with no real life and no real depth. We end up investing so much in the appearance of holiness that we miss the substance of it. We end up so preoccupied with saving face that we fail to live in God’s saving grace. We walk around with insecurity and fear: If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me. The Only reason you like me is you don’t really know me.” (Ibid)

In other words, a phoney Christian life. I have gone into churches where there’s a lot of phoniness, there’s no real Christian confession, just as Buchanan points out; “pretense and jargon” and that is just not a healthy place to be. You can almost cut the subterfuge with a knife. It’s almost suffocating. In a congregation where  confession, trust, openness, smacks you right in the face like a crisp, winter seabreeze, it’s bracing and challenging, and it’s also refreshing and just makes you want to push right in and get more.

“But confession and true fellowship are deeply joined. John in his first letter makes that explicit. He writes, ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1: 8-9).”  He goes on to note that: “…When we walk in the truth and in the light, we have real fellowship … not among perfect people, but honest ones, people willing to deal with their imperfections. Otherwise we have a country club, not a church.”

“That’s one consequence of a people without the holy habit of confession: Our fellowship becomes a shallow, gaudy, fickle thing, a nonfellowship, an exercise in faking it.” (Ibid pp 170-171) And isn’t that sin? Aren’t we called to fellowship? Aren’t we called to be genuine? It’s not easy and I doubt I will ever be “good” at it. But that’s not an excuse for me to avoid striving for it either.

Let’s do everyone a big favor, start to truly live that Christian life in confession. Let’s start trusting those clergy that God has give to us in order for us to grow closer to God, instead of all the pretense and baloney that we substitute instead. Let’s do our best to grow in our relationship with fellow Christians. Yes, we have to maintain some discretion and common sense. But at least keep pushing the boundaries. Can you get burned? Yup, but it won’t be on you, you will be living the life in Christ, it will be for that person who failed in your trust. Pray for them and for all Christians who can’t step up in maturity and move on as a faithful Christian disciple.

Church is important Douglas Morton of Institute of Lutheran Theology

This is a big issue to me, I hear so much nonsense, to the effect “I’m too smart for church”. Yet when someone needs it, they expect the church, the people, the worship etc, to be AJ perfect, even though they haven’t done anything to contribute to it. It is important to be a part of the Christian community and that culminates every Sunday morning in worship. For too many people in our society today, it’s the only time when (at least Lutheran worship), it’s about God and not about them.

There  is so much to be done, and there is nothing more important than witnessing to the love, strength, comfort, power of Jesus Christ and the eternal life of the resurrection that He promises. But to be in communion with Christ, you have to be in communion with His Body which is the church. We are His for eternity beginning with being part of His Body in worship and service. The following is from Douglas Morton, take some time to consider what it is to be part of the Body of Christ in worship, service and the prelude to life and life eternal and abundant in Jesus.

Institute of Lutheran Theology, Douglas Morton
Yesterday at 11:06am ·
“You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian?”
True. Nor do you have to breathe to be human. However, we know what happens when we don’t breathe.
The Gospel is the message of sins freely forgiven in Christ. This Gospel gives us life. It’s also what we are to find and breathe in when we “go to church.” Below are four ways this Gospel comes (or should come) to us with its fresh air in the church service.
First, in “church” we come in contact with the word of God. If this doesn’t happen in your congregation, then find another. I’m not saying the church service is the only place we come in contact with God’s word. What I am saying is that the church service is the important place for this to happen. Here we listen to the Scriptures. God’s word often permeates the hymns. The pastor proclaims this word to us in the sermon. We hear both law and Gospel; the law to show us our sins and the Gospel to show us our Savior, who freely takes away our sins. We can get the law in many places. God has even written it on our hearts. However, the Gospel is foreign to us. It must come to us from the outside, in a word from God. Thus, “church” is a great place to hear this Gospel.
Second, in “church” we come in contact with two visible ways (often called “the visible word”) God proclaims his forgiveness for us. In Baptism, we meet the God who puts his name on us – “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” – and marks us as his own. In the Lord’s Supper, we meet the whole Christ in his body and blood broken and shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
Third, in “church” we hear God’s audible word of pardon for our sins. This voice comes not in an “immediate voice from heaven,” but in the voice of another, our pastor. Certainly we can hear this absolution elsewhere, from other people. However, many church services begin with a confession of sins. Here we admit before God that we have sinned and need his forgiveness. Then comes absolution, where God speaks his word of pardon to us through the voice of our pastor.

Finally, in “church” we gather with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We share with each other God’s love and forgiveness in the Savior. This sharing is called the “mutual conversation and consolation of brethren.” There is something wonderful and refreshing about being around others who share with each other the Gospel of sins forgiven in Christ.
The Gospel word is the only word that gives us breath, and thus spiritual life. We live in a world that often suffocates our faith in Christ. In “church” we gather around the fresh air of the life-giving Gospel. The Holy Spirit uses this Gospel to create and sustain our spiritual breathing, thus sustaining our spiritual life.
By the way, “I’d much rather use the words “Worship Service,” or better yet, “Divine Service,” than “church” or “church service.” The “Church” is God’s people. These people come together in the service. Here God serves each with the Gospel that creates and sustains faith. And in faith, we respond with thanksgiving and a life of service.
The Gospel of sins freely and totally forgiven in Christ is the most important air we will ever breathe. Find a Christian congregation that proclaims this Gospel in all of its wonders. Gather regularly with others to breathe in this life-giving word of forgiveness in Christ. You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot of fresh air to inhale.
Douglas V. Morton, the writer of the above article, is the Director of Certificate Programs and Director of Communications at the Institute of Lutheran Theology, an Independent Lutheran Seminary, in Brookings, South Dakota (http://www.ilt.org). He is also Senior Editor of the school’s magazine, The Word at Work and on the Faculty in the Certificate Programs. He is coauthor of From “Vesper Chimes” to ‘The Way International” and The Integrity and Accuracy of The Way Word. He has also written for the Journal of Pastoral Practice, The Quarterly Journal of Personal Freedom Outreach, and for The Word at Work. You may contact him at dmorton@ilt.org.

Discipling means to confront and challenge, not to shrug you shoulders and say “whatever”.

On a personal note, I reached 5,000 views. I know that to many of you that’s kind of chump change, but I jumped that hurdle and want to mark it in this blog.

Now that I’m over that, I really want to do this blog, but I need to do a disclaimer, this is almost verbatim from a podcast (Insight for Living Feb 11, 2015), but it’s so good, and frankly something I’ve been wrestling with and that we really need to apply in all our lives. So you should buy Swindoll books, listen to the broadcasts, but in the meantime, I’m going to put it out there and I pray that you take it to heart.

“…there is  no where in the Bible that says “live and let live'” [or let die for that matter] or “whatever” or “you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone”. Jesus never promoted that message. No one ever loved like His love, he never just shrugged his shoulders when one of His disciples was moving in the wrong direction. He confronted it. Why would he confront it? Why would confrontation be that essential? It proves that we love someone. Because we love someone we care for them, about them. We care about their welfare. Because we care there are times when we must say how much we care and occasionally it’s a confrontation.”

[Samuel confronts David about Bathsheba. A lot of people were affected by this, so please don’t give me that lame “victimless crimes, or actions”, that’s the biggest copout ever. There is just no such thing. There are always other people who suffer as the result of sexual misconduct, drug abuse, divorce, and just because it’s not a crime, does not mean that misconduct doesn’t hurt/affect others. In David’s case his children and wives were profoundly affected, at the time and later. The baby conceived by David and Bathsheba died. Certainly Uriah was affected. There were many people, David’s subjects, who were directly affected by the events of just this one occurrence of sexual misconduct and were caught up in the consequences – mine]

“Good physicians confront their patients when they’re involved in unhealthy habits, we expect them to. Good coaches confront sloppiness, laziness. Parents confront misbehaving kids [well they should-mine]. Bad attitudes need to be confronted.

Our best friends, in the best way, confronting us over our bad ways.

It’s not about control or trying to be smarter, it’s about seeing someone you care about harming themselves and, usually, causing harm to others. Confrontation ought to be with tears, never with pride, never with joy. Your heart is broken and because it’s broken you have to say something, especially because you care about that individual. Confrontation is love in action, caring about another’s welfare, helping someone realize they’re headed for trouble or danger if nothing changes and the proof of your love is that you will not look the other way. It’s not for control.”

[I have no interest in controlling, or unless necessary, knowing. I really don’t. That is just not what I’m about or most pastors are. We are about the Gospel and helping people to move on from their issues. We all have issues. But a big part of the job and expectations of others is that we have to help people confront and overcome. Like it or not, it will be through the power of the Holy Spirit, but there are times that are just so profoundly difficult that we need help to overcome them in order to refocus on Jesus. That’s what pastors are for. As a Lutheran pastor, anything you discuss with me is under the “seal of the confessional”, I cannot even discuss that I talked to you. Whatever anyone tells me, they have full confidence that it will not be discussed in any other context. Once that discussion is over, I do not treat you or act any differently to you. This is confrontation also, you are bringing me your issues and trusting me that I’m there to confide in, to confess and repent and to be absolved. I don’t really want to get into it, but I do want to serve you and help you to deal with it. But wow, what would the world look like if we were all trying to reach our greatest potential in Jesus, instead of “gimme, gimme, I want”? Let’s deal with the issue of confronting and not just sitting back and letting others suffer in sin or as a consequence of sin. And we can certainly tell when someone is confronting us in love versus when they’re trying to control us- mine]

“The difference in confronting someone because they need to hear it and trying to control someone to become like you, should be a gentle experience, not shameful. Some day you might fall to the same sin. Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” The Hebrew says faithful are the bruises. Proverbs 20:30 “Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.'” 

“…God loves too much to let them get away with doing such things [or how about the one who says “heck with you”, goes off does what they want, gets in trouble and come back expecting you to help. Not asking or looking for forgiveness.Their attitude usually being that somehow it was your fault, I might have gone out and done something stupid, but you have to fix it. But we do need to remember that our goal for them and us, is that we become more like Christ, not to squeeze them into our mold. But yes there will be consequences, and maybe I don’t want to suffer actual or vicarious consequences with you? -mine]

“What is necessary is lots of prayer, waiting for the right time and speaking the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15: “ Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.'”

If you can do it without tears then you probably ought not to do it. If it’s painful for you realizing the wrong that’s going on and others are being or will soon be harmed. Sometimes a pastor who needs to be confronted, whose conduct would damage the Body of Christ. Love must often do the unpleasant. Remember a moment of confrontation, how painful it was. The goal of confrontation is restoration, not condemnation [as is ex-communication, the keys Jesus gave the church.-mine] It is help to get the person back on track so their lives will count for Christ.”

“We don’t go into confrontation to ‘set somebody straight”. You go in with fear and trembling and you’re going to use God’s words on a delicate, but sinful issue. King David as the example; leader, warrior, poet, musician, [He wrote most of the Psalms]. He had a way of winning your heart. But he also understood that he had to be confronted over his sin.