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Posts Tagged ‘denial’

The man had been taken captive to sin.  It would seem that the man tightly grasped Jesus’ robe of righteousness and let it be his cover.  But, he did not seek help when his marriage and family suffered.  He did not confess sin’s hold on him.  Was there no one to whom he was accountable?

He brought a variety of movies into his home, but was there a reason he avoided “The Passion?”  Many times, I asked his help in equipping us  for spiritual battle.  He didn’t.  Maybe he couldn’t.

Publicly caught in his sin, he did confess — to one time of foolishness. To his wife, he confessed to more.  The public showered mercy and forgiveness upon him.  His wife found herself homeless.  Some tried to hold him to the higher standard of a man who had taken a vow before God, but he maintained that his private life didn’t affect others.

One day, the man told me that his grandson didn’t know how to respond to him.  So, as a grandfather and role-model, the man wrote his beloved grandson a letter of encouragement:  “I understand that you don’t know what to say to me.  Let me offer three suggestions.  You can say, ‘I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf!'”  After sharing this with me, I feared for the man.  Could this be the summation of his theology?

There was no way I could speak to this man except by using the Word of God.  What follows is part of my letter to him:

My dear friend . . . Moses spoke to the Israelites about the covenant made by God with His people.  No other people had ever received such a promise.  But, in Deuteronomy 29:19, Moses was inspired by the spirit to caution,

Beware  lest there be among you . . . one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’

A commentary on this passage of Deuteonomy reads: “To continue willfully to sin while claiming eternal security in Christ is a dangerous, perhaps even fatal, presumption.”  (One can read the continuing verses 20-29.)

My friend, you have always said that God’s Word changes lives.  For this reason, I proclaim with King David that I love the Word.  It gives me confidence.  It provides instruction.  It leads me to a future of hope.  But, like King David, our bones will waste away and our strength drain away like in the heat of summer if we do not acknowledge, confess, and turn away from our sins (Psalm 32).  You have confessed… in part.  Sadly, I believe you have covered so much repetitive sin with: “I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf.”

I am as much a sinner as you.  I have my confessed and unconfessed sins.  But, I am called by the Father God to repent and, after I have repented, stop repeating the sin.  I need to be held accountable.  I need others to hold me accountable.  I have and will continue to fail in being righteous.  Thankfully, the forgiveness of God in Christ has been poured out for you and me.  We are washed white as snow for eternity.  But, as one called to be holy, I cannot — must not — cheapen the priceless gift of Jesus Christ by asking for forgiveness and then boldly returning to bad habits, old ways, and repetitive sin.  Such actions carry powerful consequences that reach children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

That being sad, God’s mercy is to thousands of generations of those who love Him.

There is opportunity in this moment.  God has allowed some of your sin to be exposed.  You have expressed sorrow and remorse.  But, confess it all.  Don’t persist in the theology of: “Forgive me.  Love me.  Let’s play golf.”  Confront the pain and grief that years of a repeated sin have caused.  Mourn the loss of the wife that, while sinful herself, remained loyal to your high calling as a Christian leader.  Grieve the loss of damaged relationships with your children.  Confront the reality of your choices.  Be heartsick.  Be sorry.  Be shamed.  Then, turn from your sin… and sin no more.

Watching you these past years, I fear that your bones have been wasting away and your strength drained as in the heat of summer.  Has God’s hand been pressing down on you?   I want this to stop.  Don’t you?

Stop with the “Forgive.  Love.  Let’s play golf.”  Start  new by proclaiming: “Yes, I am forgiven.  yes, Jesus loves me eternally.  Now I must not only face but live with the consequences of my sins.  With the Spirit’s help, I can change my ways.  I beg for mercy and discernment to properly handle the Word of Truth.  I put on the armor of God for continual battle against evil and remind others to do the same.”

This is part of a letter I wrote to my fallen friend.  “Two are better than one . . . for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up . . .” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).  This letter is also a reminder to me.  My doubt of God’s Word and the sins that follow bear consequences, too.

It’s a mucky and twisted road we travel.  Danger lurks at every turn.  False security leaves us more vulnerable and places others at risk.  Therefore,

Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed . .  .

(Hebrews 12:12-17; 1 John 1:5-10)

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Sorting through a box of photos, I came upon a few that I thought someone close to me might appreciate.   One was a photo of her dad in uniform.  He and I have spoken of the high price paid for freedom in this country.  He has expressed his disappointment that our nation seems to have forgotten that price of freedom.  Before sealing up the envelope with photos, I inserted a brief note to this daughter of an American hero.  My note read something like: I am sad that after all your dad endured for his country, he now sees this nation slipping.

Within a few days, she wrote back.  I was delighted with the quick response… then stunned by her words.  Her note to me read:

In response to your comment about my dad having fought for a nation that is now “slipping,” I find that we have very different political views.  My thoughts, beliefs and convictions are strong, as I know yours are for you.  For that reason, I am asking that we not engage in any kind of political discussion and refrain from making comments to each other so as not to create discord in our family.

In what way is the word “slipping” divisive?  In what way is it “political”?  Forget politics.  We are morally and ethically “slipping.”

I see it personally — every day.  In my vocation of “helper,” I work with people — young and old — who are suffering the consequences of choices that set them on a destructive and painful course.   A long time ago I became aware of something so wrong that it could never be called right.  52 million babies — human lives created and redeemed by God — have been aborted in the U.S. alone since the practice was legalized in 1973.  How could a nation that kills its own children not slip into a deep abyss?

My conscience would not rest.  I was compelled by God’s Word to become involved in Lutherans For Life.  I traveled the country, speaking in schools, congregations, and communities.   Never intending to do so, I became an advocate for those caught in the muck and mire of a “slipping” society: boys and girls stripped of their innocence, mothers grieving aborted children, and fathers regretful of their passivity or angry because they were unable to lead out of harm’s way.   People in other parts of the country weren’t the only ones “slipping.”  People here at home were “slipping,” too.  For this reason, two other moms and I founded the local caring pregnancy center in our community so that we might help warn against danger, equip for healthy choices, and encourage on the difficult journey of life.

I long for a soul-to-soul visit with this special person in my life who was offended by the word “slipping.”   Why?  Because dozens of men and women have shared with me their painful stories of “slipping” away from God into unhealthy relationships, false love, and grief.  At last count, 24 of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances have told me about their abortions.  Most of these women have asked me to “speak up” and to warn others not to “slip” away from God’s good plan into the quicksand of doubt.  I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit used those women to nudge me in a direction never before imagined (by me, anyway).  In 2002, I started a little mentoring ministry called Titus 2 for Life.

So, I would like very much to explain to this dear person in my life what the word “slipping” means to me.  I drafted three letters to her, but my husband cautioned me against sending them.  Although I long for a “soul-to-soul” visit with this woman, I hear the wisdom of my husband’s advice.  For now, this blog will have to suffice.

Reality tells me that this special person in my life represents so many others — in families and congregations — who don’t want to talk or “engage in any kind of . . . discussion” that would cause “discord.”  Oh my!  While people are “slipping” away from all that God desires for them, am I to chat about weather and fashions?

Yes, I am stunned.  But, not so much that I can’t recognize a teachable moment.  God’s Word is divisive.  It divides loved ones and strangers.  His Word divides because it opposes our sinful nature.  His Word opposes worldly opinion.  But, faith in God’s Word compels me to use It in every relationship and all circumstances.  It’s the only thing I can trust because while I am “slipping,” It cannot.

God came to this troubled earth as the Man, Jesus Christ, because we are all “slipping.”  My ancestors, Adam and Eve, chose poorly and, ever since, all human beings have been conceived right onto a slippery slope of sin.  The institutions of marriage, church, and state — designed for our protection — are all “slipping” into chaos.  The God of order does not want us to live in chaos.  And so He offers His Word to us today just as He has to every generation before us.  A divisive Word, yes.  But, also a healing and hope-filled Word.

I pray that this special person in my life and I will one day speak of these things.  But, even if that day never comes, I cannot be stunned into paralysis.   On every day that passes until Jesus comes again, people will be “slipping.”  This isn’t my opinion.  It’s not my politics.  It is, rather, a cold, hard fact.

In the face of this cold, hard fact stands a warm and welcoming Savior.   He’s the One who stretches out His arms to prevent us from slipping and, when we go ahead and slip, He encircles His arms around us to bring us back onto our feet.  He’s the one I really want to talk about with my loved one.   He’s the One she and I — and all of us — need in this battle for hearts and minds and souls.

So please, dear God.  Protect the heart and mind and soul of this special one in my life.  I may be stunned by her words, but she still matters to me.  More importantly, she matters to You.

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