Tag Archives: redeemed by Jesus.

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.

Does it honor God to abuse our bodies with overwork?

It’s gotten to be almost trite, cliche in the world, “can’t burn the midnight oil, the candle at both ends”. Did God make us to work 50 plus hours, to some people that would be a short week, constantly on call, always in touch via computers, cell phones. Sure, once in awhile you have to stretch. Finished graduate school 4 years ago, oh yeah many a time when that paper had to be finished and it needed to be finished that night it was an all-nighter. 29 years in the Coast Guard Reserve. In the Coast Guard reserve you were expected to augment a unit where your training was applicable to. I was trained on boats doing search and rescue and law enforcement. Especially after I was activated, but even doing reserve duty, there were many times where you could be working all day and be out all night, getting bounced around in lousy weather, having to be alert to save lives and property or enforce laws. Often this would be miles off shore in frigid weather for most if not all the night. Even in my corporate life trips would start early in the morning, end late at night and require late hours to do what was necessary in order to resolve issues with the customer.

Things haven’t gotten easier, technology means we’re on call at all hours, text messages, e-mail can be worked on and even responded to until all hours. Downsizing is across the board, few sectors of the economy haven’t seen a reduction of people which requires the remaining souls to pick up the slack.

Pastors are certainly not immune to emergencies at all hours and each one requiring asap attention. In addition to the needs of my congregation I am a chaplain for the York Police. I’ve responded to, mostly deaths, late at night, also the parent of a sexual assault victim. Our jobs have worthy reasons  to put in long hours, but what happens when it becomes routine instead of the exception.

An article in Inc Magazine by Jennifer Alsever (Feb 2014 p 54) cites the following research:

“Research shows that making your staff wok marathon hours does more ill than good…

67% increase risk of developing heart disease for workers who put in 11 hours a day vs eight.

3X increased likelihood that those who work 50-plus hours a week will develop an alcohol abuse problem. [I think I’m the exception, no interest whatsoever, but you can certainly see how it would happen – Jim]

50% of employees are less productive as a result of stress

20 hours without sleep is equal to a 0.1 blood alcohol level, which is the equivalent of five or six dirnks (for people 160 to 180 hours).”

As a pastor I would hasten to add the loss of family time (ya, just ask my wife), you betchum that causes some stress. I hasten to add that odd/long work hours keep people from worship, either because they’re working or recovering thereof. Not to mention the lack of participation in other church activities. In my experience this causes a separation from church and the nurturing of being in the presence of the Lord and with brothers and sisters in Jesus. I have definitely seen it result in further separation and eventually just completely dropping out. While many want that relationship, they feel awkward just showing up once in awhile. Heck imagine a relationship where you show up once in awhile, go through the motions and run out the door at the earliest opportunity. Too often it just becomes an excuse, work isn’t really that demanding, but they just don’t want to deal and it’s a great excuse to the pastor. I’m kind of amazed at the excuses, actual and created, I know people shouldn’t have to, I’d much rather they gave me the blunt truth, but wandering away is just easier.

I would hope that if people are in that situation that they let me know. Their physical, mental health is a vital consideration when work life overwhelms your time, but spiritual health is also going to take a serious hit. Separation from the church, from the Word, from the Sacraments, from the support and encouragement of fellow Christians is going to take away ones spiritual strength and just turn them into an asset, a working machine. Long amounts of time dedicated to work is dehumanizing and subtly separates us from the spiritual nourishment that is so necessary to His creation who are made in His image. God doesn’t need rest, but He took time to set an example for us who are in desperate need of rest, by requiring us to observe the Sabbath.

Talk to your pastor, help him to see that you’re in need and need his help to keep you spiritually strong. Help him to think out of the box for worship opportunities, maybe just a time of prayer for two or more of you. Time of study that you could share on line, but something that keeps you connected. Maybe the church could have prayer for those who are separated for various reasons. But simply fading out is not acceptable, it contributes to the deterioration of your fellowship and we are commanded to meet together in Christ’s church (Hebrews) and we are not doing ourselves any favor by missing the revival, restoration and refreshment of being in the presence of the Lord with Christian brothers and sisters.

So let’s discuss, Wednesday morning 10am at the Green Bean Coffee Shop the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in downtown York. Park right behind the church and walk east about 4 doors.