True Confessions

true confessions  Would it be fair to say that you have something in your past that you wish you wouldn’t have done? Something you regret? Someone you hurt you wish you hadn’t? A dark moment that you’d do differently if you only could? If you’re like most of the human race, you probably have several such things lurking in your past. And from time to time, they problem tug on your conscience.

The past does have a way of creeping into our thoughts and affecting our future. Try as we might, we can’t always escape the consequences of our prior actions, and sometimes the residual effects of our past affect us in unpredictable ways. So what do we do when faced with our own history? Is there any escape from the regret we feel? Any way to truly put the past in the past?

Fortunately, the answer is yes! God has made provision for our forgiveness and our path forward. His mercy is actually part of his very character and when we turn to him and sincerely seek his forgiveness, he does not withhold it from us. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9) God actually wants to forgive us.

In twelve step recovery programs, dealing with the past is paramount to success. From the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 63-64: “We launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.”

Indeed, in AA, steps 4-9 all deal with setting the past right. Steps 4-7 primarily focusing on setting our relationship with God right and steps 8-9 solidifying that spiritual direction by pursuing reparation with those we have hurt. Few people realize that the twelve steps are based on Biblical principle, which certainly explains why they have been so successful for so many. Turning to God is the natural solution for our Creator longs to render us aid!

So when those darker things from your past creep into your today, turn to the one whose very character is defined by his love, grace, and mercy. Find a close friend, confidant, or spiritual leader and make your confession. You will feel an instant and tangible easing of your burden, like having a weight taken off your shoulders, and you will start to feel a new freedom and a new nearness to your Creator. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

God loves you. More than you will ever know or understand.

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Eventually, You Will Do This…

man-1394395_960_720  Connor had a dilemma on his hands. He took on a side job, helping someone with a building project. It wasn’t his normal line of work; he normally worked in a small company in shipping and receiving. But his dad was a building contractor and Connor had grown up in the business so he knew a thing or two about construction; and it wasn’t unusual for him to take on a few small side jobs; a little trim work here or there, perhaps. But this job was bigger, much bigger.

He wouldn’t have taken the job at all, but it was for a friend’s parents and it was originally going to be just a small addition. But one thing led to another and it turned into a much larger project. Nothing Connor couldn’t handle, though, and even working only evenings and weekends he managed to complete the work quickly enough to earn a bonus on top of his original quote. And just like that, Connor suddenly had a lot of cash in his bank account.

But when tax time came, Connor didn’t feel he should have to pay taxes on the money he earned from his side project. He had worked for cash, after all. And he had given up his nights and weekends for more than three straight months. Talking it over with Peter, his friend and coworker, Connor put it this way, “It’s my money. I earned it. I deserve to keep it. Besides, I spent most of it on that new truck of mine and the rest I put down on my house.”

“But it’s the government, Connor, they have ways of knowing these things,” Peter pointed out

“They sure do,” chimed in Sally, who couldn’t help but overhear the conversation.

And, indeed, the government did know about the extra money he had earned. They knew in two ways; the couple he had done the work for filed forms claiming tax deductions for the energy savings they would realize from the project; listing Connor as the contractor, of course. And financial records indicated that Connor could not afford his fifty-thousand-dollar new truck on his meager income as a shipping and receiving clerk.

So while Connor firmly and sincerely believed he should not have to pay taxes on this side project, the law said he did and the government soon sent him a letter stating just how much tax they calculated he owed, plus a small fine for paying late. But Connor ignored the letter, being so firm in his belief that he did not owe them a thing.

He eventually received another piece of correspondence from the government, this one a bit more emphatic than the last. The fine was bigger this time, too, raising the total he owed to a truly eye-opening amount. And again, despite the warnings of his coworkers and friends, Connor ignored the letter, sure that he did not owe them a thing.  And then something happened that Connor could not ignore. He went to buy groceries after work and his card was rejected. And when he went out to his shiny new truck, it was being hauled away on a flatbed.

Having called Peter for a ride, he arrived at home and found the notice on his door. The government had seized his home and all its contents. And as he sat down on the stoop in utter shock, the federal officers arrived with a warrant for his arrest. At least the jail would be someplace warm to spend the night. Turns out, tax evasion is a pretty serious offense, and though Connor didn’t believe it, he was now in the throes of some rather harsh consequences.

And so we see, despite Connor’s firmly held belief to the contrary, he was guilty of tax evasion and there was a penalty to be paid. In his case it was a severe one, and his disbelief didn’t in anyway change that reality. And so it is when it comes to Jesus, what we believe or don’t believe doesn’t change reality at all. Many people choose disbelief, ignoring the historical reality depicted in the Bible and rejecting the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This isn’t all that surprising, actually, for Jesus said, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

But the reality is that you will acknowledge Jesus is Lord, whether you choose to do it now, willingly, or later, posthumously. For God has told us that He “gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

We all inherently know we are not perfect, that we have done wrong. Our conscious convicts us of that fact, whether we will admit it to others or not. We are being disingenuous if we deny this. And there is a penalty to be paid for our wrongs, whether we want to admit it or not. But if we walk through the small gate and accept the redemptive work of Jesus, our penalty is paid in full. Are you ready to take the narrow road?

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