Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Quest: Confession (and humility)

Whenever I post my blog on FB, I try to intro it with something clever that will make people want to read it.  Or I use a few compelling lines from the actual blog.  Again, something that will draw interest.  These are good rhetorical strategies.

Yesterday, I took a few lines out of the blog that I thought would get people to click on the link.  Here's what I posted:  
I think I use television the way some people use drugs.  It helps me check out from reality when my real world gets busy.  And now that I'm fasting television, I'm not checking out, and I'm tired.  And I know this is why God prompted me to fast television.  
I panicked almost immediately after shutting down the laptop and going into my next meeting.  What will people think?  Will they think I'm like a drug addict?  Will they judge me for watching too much TV?  Will they think me presumptuous because I claimed God prompted me to fast television?  Will they think I should have fasted more sacrificial like, say, food?

I wanted to delete the link or repost it, but say something else that sounded less confessional.  I know the exact line is in the blog, but in context it doesn't sound quite as bad.  I think.  

At any rate, I spent the afternoon in meetings and the link stayed on FB.  By the time I got home, I decided too much time had passed and whoever was going to see my open confession probably already had.  

As I drove home, though, I thought about confession.  It's hard.  I don't actually like people to know where my life isn't quite right.  Hey, I don't like even acknowledging that my life isn't nearly perfect.  I'm great at rationalization.  I like watching TV.  I like the shows I choose.  I like getting caught up in the stories I see on the screen.  And is it a problem to check out every now and then?  

Maybe TV is sin.  Maybe it isn't.  
I do know that it occupies an unhealthy place in my life, and that's sin.  I don't even think I want to change it.  And that's sin.  

Whatever, I know that my TV habit does not glorify God.  

And most times when I have something in my life that's not glorifying God and I choose not to change it, he makes it very clear.  Sometimes the clarification process isn't pleasant.  

But back to confession.  Years and years ago, when I was probably about ten, I memorized 1 John 1:9:  
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  
And so, every night before I went to bed, I would pray, forgive me for my sins.  Yeah.  That's about as deep as I would go with confession.  

Sometimes I would think of something specific.  Like, I lost my temper with Duane.  Forgive me again.  But mostly I justified my anger.  It was sin, but it wasn't REALLY bad.  I'll try to respond better next time.  

Confession, true confession, involves self-examination and discovery.  It also involves repentance or a desire to change, which to be authentic, incorporates humility and deep sadness that my actions, words, or attitudes have not honored God and may have hurt someone else.  Acknowledging that I can't fix myself.  Acknowledging that I need God.  I need his power.  I need his presence in my life, and I give myself over to him.  I no longer control myself.  

And because I am human, I will seize control again, I will judge someone or talk about someone or hurt someone or snap at someone, and I will need to confess my sin again.  

Last Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday, a day of confession, humility, and mourning over our sin, Mark Batterson wrote this post on his blog
Did you know that Martin Luther used to spend up to six hours in confession?  When I first read that I remember thinking that either he had lots of sin to confess or I don't know the first thing about confession.  I think it's the latter.  I think shallow confessions result in a shallow appreciation of God's grace.  Most of us have never spent more than six minutes in confession. 
Six minutes?  Try three.  

Batterson goes on to explain that when we take time to sit before God and examine ourselves, our lives, and our actions, it gives God time to speak to us about our motivations and allows us to surrender those as well.  

On Sunday, Pastor Mike looked at 2 Chronicles 7:14.  I want to examine the verse that comes before that too.  The people of Judah are celebrating the dedication of the temple that Solomon has built.  And then the Lord appears to Solomon at night.  The Lord says:
At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops or send plagues among you.  And then, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  
Sometimes we will experience hardship in our lives.  Hardship that God has allowed.  Hopefully no drought, massive insect invasions, or plagues. But the land is destroyed.  We can't fix it, and we turn to God for help.  

Pastor Mike asked, What is the land you want restored?  
Is it family?  Marriage?  Children?  
If it finances and career?  
Is it your relationship with God?  
Where are you broken?  What has been destroyed? 

This is God's promise.  If we humble ourselves and pray, if we confess our sin, if we seek God and repent, truly repent, truly surrender the way we live, God will hear us and restore the land.  

Maybe the devastated land is not so personal.  Certainly, God is speaking to Solomon about the people of Judah.  

So maybe that devastated land is your neighborhood.  After the fires, we spent a lot of time begging God to move.  Or maybe you desire God to move in your community.  I desire to see God move in Santee, not just in Newbreak but all around Santee.  (I want that in all our Newbreak communities.)  How bad do I want that?  How badly do we as a community want that?  

Do we want it enough to humble ourselves and pray?  Do we want it enough to examine our lives and eliminate anything that keeps us from honoring and glorifying God? That's really what fasting is all about.  

Are we willing to let God speak to us and show us what to change?  Because his promise is that if we do that, he will heal the land.  

I know.  It's hard.  

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