The Sacred Relationship Between Confession and Trust

Have you ever pondered the intimate relationship between confession and trust?

Most of us don’t naturally associate these two words together. Not until our personal confessions are betrayed by another do we recognize the sacred relationship shared between confession and trust.

The Greek word for confess (verb) means to agree, profess, and acknowledge. To confess our sins to God means we agree with God about our sin. The word trust (verb) means to put our faith and confidence in, and to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Herein lies the sacred relationship. If we do not trust God, that is, put our faith and confidence in Him, or believe in His reliability, truth, ability, and strength, then we will not be drawn toward the confession of that which is not of Him. In other words, if we won’t trust God, then we won’t acknowledge the sin that separates us from Him.

Our distrust of Him has already separated us from Him. Sin then becomes just an everyday walk of life.

However, dear friends, if we WILL trust God, that is put our faith and confidence in Him, or believe in His reliability, truth, ability, and strength, then we WILL be drawn into the most intimate relationship of all. Confession will become our everyday walk as we live in acknowledgement and agreement with God each step of the way.

Trusting God requires an intricate braiding of faith, hope, and a decision of our will that helps us see ourselves as we really are. Both human and divine. Sinner and saint. Work in progress and Masterpiece. Dead in our transgressions and alive in Christ.

We can trust God because He’s given us a Trustee in the person of Jesus Christ who claims us as His own for our own good and for the glory of the Kingdom of God. 

“Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.” Psalms‬ ‭106:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In Christ, we’ve been given the inheritance of a child of God. The Trustee entrusted His life to the will of the Father, so that we could share in His Kingdom for His name’s sake.

You can not only trust Him with your confessions, you can trust Him with your life.

Connecting the Dots

Do you ever have trouble “connecting the dots” in Scripture? For example, how does a New Testament verse reflect truth or prophesy from an Old Testament verse? How are they related and what picture is forming as you connect the dots?

Truth always validates truth, but finding these connections through 66 books and 5,000+ years of history can be challenging. Until of course the connection practically jumps off the page through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Try connecting these dots.

‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭(ESV) says Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Propitiation means “final atonement”, meaning the shedding of the Perfect Lamb’s blood fully satisfied God’s Law as echoed in Hebrews 9:22 “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

In Leviticus 17:11, God states through Moses, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” The shed blood of Christ is our final atonement. God’s law is ultimately fulfilled through Jesus. The Old is woven into the New as we discover that the New has been there all along.

Ok, so we connected these dots, but wait there’s more!

We know today, unlike those in biblical times, that blood cells are created within bone, specifically in the marrow. Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients, white blood cells support our immune system and help fight disease, and platelets help blood clot.

We also know from Genesis 2 that God took a rib from Adam in order to create Eve. God created Eve and gave her life through a rib bone. The very bone He created in man to provide life-giving and life-sustaining blood, He used to create woman. Life is in the blood.

God’s mind is mind blowing!

What image do these dots form to you when connected? What comes to mind?

I would love to hear from you. Describe your vision. Please share in the comments.

Generation D

The history of naming or labeling different generations is interesting to say the least. Whether you consider yourself Golden, a Baby Boomer, Generation Xer, Millennial (Gen Y), or part of Generation Z, we can all agree that birth year plays a crucial rule in your personal experience of family, society, education, the work force, and even religion.

“Generations in the United States are defined as social groups of people born around the same time who share similar cultural traits, values, and preferences.” (Matt Rosenberg)

That being said, naming generations is not an exact science. There are many different references and time frames floating around the air waves.

Therefore, I would like to propose a new name for another generation. Except this generation encompasses perhaps four or five generations all of whom own a hand held device which offers endless access to the “four corners” of the earth. This perhaps all-encompassing, and easily all-consumed, generation will be called Generation D.

*Generation Distracted*

We are one ginormous gener-NATION of distracted social groups who have all bought into what the iGeneration (whoever that is) is selling.

As believers in this broad social group, we have made it so easy for the devil. Scripture says the devil comes like a prowling lion, looking to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s the ultimate deceiver, destroyer, and deluder, and yet we’ve fallen prey to his most passive scheme, distraction.

I confess to be one of his victims as I sit in Bible study, thinking about writing this blog!

The dictionary defines distraction as a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else or, worse yet, extreme agitation of the mind or emotions. Can I get a witness?!

When is the last time you gave someone or something, besides your device, your full attention? How many times a day do your mind and/or emotions get agitated?

If the current body of Christ wants to be a generation of believers who share similar cultural traits, values, and preferences that embody Christ, we must not only be set apart from sin and evil, we must have significant periods of time when we set ourselves apart from our devices and every form of distraction.

Remember to look people in the eye. Remember to make physical contact with those in your home at least once a day. Remember you can pray anywhere, anytime, spoken or silent. Remember to look for God throughout the day. Remember to tell yourself and someone else how much God loves us. Remember most of social media is a false teacher and a false reality. Remember the Bible is your greatest weapon against distraction, deception, and self-destruction. Remember to tell the younger generation.

Let’s not be known by our children’s children as Generation Distracted. Let’s be known as Generation Declare His Mighty Name!

Let’s become a gener-Nation for Jesus.

Writing Your Story

We are all writing a story with our lives. Some journaling with pen and paper, while others tend to record life with memories inscribed on their hearts.

My advice is to stay on the page of today. Try not to bookmark a painful experience or a poor decision from past pages, only to open up your book to the very same hurtful memory every day. Likewise, resist the temptation to flip forward and narrate the blank pages of tomorrow.

Live the story you are writing today.

Begin today’s chapter with the anticipation of God showing up to develop your character, breathe life into your work, and watch in adoration as you play. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, spoken sentiments, and shared smiles. Journal these on your page as they tend to enrich and enliven any story.

Know that He who began a good work in you is bringing it to completion through each page, each chapter, each section and season. He’s written on every page of your story, even when He remained nameless and unrecognized. His mercies have offered a fresh clean page every morning. Every page is a gift.

While your life becomes the gift of your story, may your story become your gift on the alter of Mercy and Grace. 

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1 MSG‬‬

Sacrifice your story to the Name above all names, and He will help you become a storyteller for His glory. While you are the writer, let God be the Author of your story.

We are all writing a story with our lives. And our stories are written in order to be sacrificed, then shared.

Ponder and Treasure – Part Six

Have you ever considered Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a widow and a single mother? I never had until I pondered her role in God’s story at the wedding in Cana.

“Mary’s actions and words in John 2 indicate that this was the day she knew that Jesus could do anything in accordance to the will of God. Despite her difficult circumstances as a widow and a single mother, thus carrying the torch of faith for her family, Mary demonstrated 1 Timothy‬ 1:5‬ (MSG): “Simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.”

-Excerpt From When Only Faith Remains

It’s important to note in John 2 that Mary was invited, along with Jesus and his first disciples, to a celebration of faith, hope, and love. She was invited. As a woman with no husband and a family with no father, they were included.

Invited and included.

Words that brought Mary to such a time and place as this to freely express her faith. “Do whatever He tells you”, she says. Words that later defined her Son’s ministry of leading lost ones to faith. “Nothing is impossible with God”, scripture says. In Christ, you are invited and included.

A mother’s belief that her son could move mountains allowed room for God’s glory to be revealed. All by faith. Mary believed in her child, God’s child, before she witnessed the miracle. Single mothers know this well. 

Who do you know that is without? Without a spouse, without a parent, without hope, without Christ. Invite them in.

Are you inviting and including others in your faith? Do you include your relationship with Jesus in your other relationships with loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers?

We are all spiritual widows without our Maker and spiritual orphans without our Father. We all long to be invited and included to discover our authentic selves, to share in an uncontaminated faith, to minister and be ministered to at the soul level.

“Uncontaminated faith sets us free to hope in the eternal and experience God’s love in the now. While Mary’s journey of faith hadn’t been easy, God demonstrated His love, faithfulness, and merciful provision and brought her to a place of complete trust and surrender to His plan. Perhaps this was the day Mary set aside her own plans and desires and set her Son free to fulfill God’s plan, minister to the world, and save lost souls, despite the cost to Him and to her.‬ ‬‬‬”

-Excerpt From When Only Faith Remains

Invite and include others in your faith. Like Mary, simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.

Ponder and Treasure – Part Five

While their story is only found in the Gospel of Matthew, the wisemen, or Magi, fascinate me. Well actually, it’s God who amazes me through these pagan men turned worshiping gift-bearers. Who but God would use a power hungry king to initiate a search party of pagan mystics to find The Light of the World?

“Perhaps when these men entered the house and met Jesus face to face, they were changed. As they stood face to face with the Word made flesh, their knees suddenly weak, their natural curiosity about a star was transformed into a supernatural desire to worship the Light of the World. Most likely God’s grace trumped “wise”dom during this unexpected visit. God, in His preeminent wisdom, condescended to use pagan Magi superstitions about a star to draw them to Jesus, the Light of the World.”

-Excerpt From When Only Faith Remains

Who are we seeking? To whom or what are we directing our worship? Similar to the wisemen, are we genuinely seeking to worship Jesus or just our idea of Him?

For example, did you ever create “the list” regarding your future spouse? Did you ever dream of who you would marry and what attributes they would possess? And then did you set out to find a spouse or a list of a spouse?

Perhaps this illustration holds true in our relationship with Jesus. Before we enter into a relationship with Jesus, don’t we naturally form an idea or concept of Him? Hearing about Jesus is much different than experiencing Him through a personal relationship. Yet, once we “meet” Jesus, confess and believe Him as Savior and Lord, and enter into a lifestyle of worshiping Him, we must ask ourselves; Are we worshiping Jesus or just our idea of Him?

Likewise, are we loving and accepting our spouses or are we frustrated with the idea and expectations we had of them?

Jesus can’t be defined or even identified by a list. The wisemen were following directions when they came upon the One who would ultimately change the direction of their lives.

Similarly, when we encounter Jesus in a personal, face-to-face kind of way, we must crumble up the mental list we made about Him. We must worship, love and accept Him as a Sovereign Being, Who hung the stars, and casts light into the darkness of our souls.

Have you, like the wise men, found the Light of the World? He will use anything in order to become your everything. Even astrology. But especially your pain, heartache, broken dreams, grief and sorrow.

John Stonestreet (Breakpoint) says, “Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have victims.” Do you need to surrender your idea of Jesus in order to surrender to Him? Just ask the wisemen, He will change the direction of your entire life!

Time Out!

I’ve tried all week to write my next blog. The blog that comes next in the order of Ponder and Treasure. But try as I may, the words don’t come, the thoughts don’t flow, and the creative energy feels absent.

Then it hit me. The reason why I’m at a loss; a loss for words, a loss of meaningful thought, a loss of creative energy. The reason is grief. I’m grieving the loss of a friend, and there are no words.

Last week I learned that my friend Cynthia was killed by her husband who then turned the gun on himself. A homicide/murder in our little town. This doesn’t happen. And yet it did, to my friend.

I saw her almost every day as she blazed a trail past my office door into her own office with a calling to help bring others to a place of healing and wholeness. She had a larger than life personality, never met a stranger, and had unforgettable locks of curly red hair.

The week before she died, I watched her ride through the parking lot on her beach cruiser bike, hair flowing in the wind, grinning ear to ear, happy to be alive on her way to help another patient. This is how I will remember her.

This is grief. I know it well. There are no words. Only feelings and visions and a flood of memories and questions and often scarce answers. Grief forces you to take a time out. To ponder and treasure in reverse.

So this week I grieve the loss of my friend. I’ll miss the breath of fresh air she always brought in the room. Although our encounters were brief, they were plenty. I’ve replayed all our conversations in my mind, but the answers are scarce.

I don’t understand why, but I do understand where she is today. She is rejoicing in heaven with Jesus. She is free from pain and sorrow and sickness. She is healed by the Eternal Healer. She is everything she longed for her patients to be, at peace and made whole.

I love you and will miss you Cynthia. You are unforgettable!

Photo by Cynthia Dannar

Ponder and Treasure – Part Four

(If this blog entry had a subtitle, it would be called Marriage and The Doggie Bag.)

We started our last small group study off with the question, “What marriage advice would you give to yourself?” After reading the chapters about Joseph’s decision to love Mary sacrificially and the baby Who changes everything, marriage surfaced as a natural and deserving topic of conversation.

Words like compromise, communication, and intentionality were shared within the circle quite candidly. There was advice given we all wished we could have received in the early years of marriage, and advice the Spirit voiced to convict our hearts in our present stages of marriage.

I shared with the group my ongoing conviction not to give my family, specifically my husband, just my leftovers. And I wasn’t talking about food. Unfortunately, in our busy, multi-responsibility, technology-driven, hectic lives, we tend to serve the ones we love the most with what’s leftover, our scraps. Our I’m-exhausted, what-do-you-need-now, can’t-you-see-that-I’m-tired, here’s-your-doggie-bag scraps.

So as my stream of consciousness goes, I looked up the origin of the doggie bag. . .

Turns out the Romans thought if it first, however, Jesse Rhodes writes in Smithsonian Magazine, “The modern doggie bag came about in the 1940s. With the United States engaged in World War II, food shortages were a fact of daily life on the home front—and for the sake of economy, pet owners were encouraged to feed table scraps to their pets.”

While the doggie bag concept was born out of an economic and food shortage crisis, many of our modern day marriage problems are born out of a shortage of communication and a me-centered culture crisis. Family time shortages are a fact of daily life on the home front in our current war with technology, social media, and seemingly every form of entertainment at our fingertips.

Take it from someone who has experienced this first hand. I don’t recommend feeding your marriage your leftovers or serving your spouse the table scraps of your day.

Marriage was created by God for the purpose of providing one another a helpmate, for establishing the domestic church, modeled after the relationship shared by the Trinity. Just as we are set apart in Christ, we are called to set our spouses apart from any other earthly relationship.

Your spouse can’t live off scraps, and neither can you. Marriage and the family unit are God’s most powerful tools for His Kingdom. That’s why Satan attacks marriage in some of the most subtle ways, like convincing you it’s ok to give your spouse your leftovers.

Don’t be deceived. The doggie bag was invented for pets, not human consumption. In fact, it once was offensive to a restaurant for someone to ask for their leftover food to be boxed up for later.

Be intentional about giving your spouse the best of you, communicate often, comprise as needed, eat dinner together as you peer into each other’s hearts and minds, and skip the doggie bag. Table food isn’t good for your dog anyway!

Ponder and Treasure – Part Three

I began my last small group meeting by asking the question, “Who is your ‘Elizabeth’”? Knowing this is a loaded question, I wanted the attendees to either land quickly on a person with whom they can bear their soul, or be reminded that their souls still long for this kind of connection with another godly woman.

In Luke 1, Mary runs to Elizabeth following her encounter with Gabriel and the divine filling of her womb. Mary is seeking a soul-bearing moment. Elizabeth is able to peer into Mary’s soul through the look in her eyes. Two souls connect and the Spirit moves. Faith transcends fear and, consequently, Mary is set free to worship.

We all need this kind of friend. We need a conduit for confession of fear, doubt, and sin to flow heavenward toward the river of life and forgiveness. We need an Elizabeth-like one who will ride the waves with us all the while pointing us to the One who washes us clean.

In When Only Faith Remains I write, “Living with a secret eating disorder made it harder for me to form attachments with people.” Living with fear, insecurities, and hidden sin makes it hard to form meaningful attachments because you are always holding back a piece of yourself from those you love. Yet, we all suffer from sin and the fear of being “found out”.

Although we are hard-wired for relationship, why do we often struggle with friendships and beyond surface level connections?

In Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God, Francis Frangipane writes, “Sin wears a cloak of deception. Therefore, the first stage … involves the exposure of our hearts to truth and the cleansing of our hearts from lies … once the Spirit breaks the power of deception in our lives, He can break the power of sin.”

We are deceived by sin and out of that deception we fear the exposure of our hearts to truth. This is exactly why Mary runs to Elizabeth. This is exactly why we need an “Elizabeth”. 

Buried underneath the deception of sin, we crave soul-bearing moments. We need friends who are able to peer into our soul through the look in our eyes, because when two souls connect, the Spirit moves. Faith will transcend fear and we will be set free to worship.

Do you have an “Elizabeth“? If not, start praying. God wants you to have a soul-bearing sister or brother in Christ. He wants to answer this prayer.

Then ask Him, what does it take to be an “Elizabeth” to another woman?

Ponder and Treasure – Part Two

“Although her dream of an ideal union with Joseph was temporarily blemished, she no doubt contemplated what this all would mean to her life, her family, and her dreams. Perhaps in her heart she said yes to her God but in her mind was afraid of the consequences of obedience. In the moment when she encountered the love of God through the voice of an angel, it was her faith that said yes, despite the consequences. In a moment when her feelings of love and hope for Joseph seemed threatened, it was her faith in God that remained. In these moments when only faith remains, we, too, are forced to ask the confusing questions.”

After Gabriel presents the calling of a lifetime, with a bit of clarification on the miracle it would require, Mary responds in Luke 1:38, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Amazing, right?! Pure obedience.

Yet, in that life-altering, most unanticipated and unexpected moment, did Mary respond from a place of fear or a place of faith? Perhaps a little bit of both.

Maybe you can relate. Do you tend to react or respond to events in life from a place of fear or a place of faith? If we aren’t careful, we can become obedient to fear and still call it obedience. Especially when we experience adverse events that by nature evoke the fear of the unknown, or the fear of losing control.

Most likely Mary felt both kinds of fear. Yet in the most important moment in her life, she says “yes” to God’s plan and ultimately “yes” to Jesus in faith, despite her feelings. She took a leap in the long walk of obedience.

Ponder your own obedience to God. In what areas is obedience easy? In what areas is obedience difficult?

Are you more obedient to fear, or do you respond to people, and events, and circumstances in life from a foundation of faith?

When we trust God, because we believe He is who He says He is, then we can respond in faith despite the consequences of obedience. Had Mary known the journey she would take to the cross, she might have reacted differently and missed God’s merciful preparation along the way. Instead she responded in faith, despite the unknown costs.

The consequences of obedience in faith is God’s best for your life in the context of eternity. The consequences of obedience to fear is isolation and separation from God in the context of the temporal. One obedience both humbles and exalts, while the other only humiliates and exacerbates.

I invite you to ponder your obedience as you treasure His truth. Yes, obedience, even in faith, has consequences, but they are rooted in the promises of God and in time, will bear much fruit.

Prayer

“Dear Lord, help us arrive at the place of faith where we too, like Mary, can say, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” May Jesus be our life-changing yes. In His sweet name. Amen.”

Excerpts From When Only Faith Remains – Amy O’Reilly