only by Grace,
P.S. You know, one of the reasons I "see" the Truth in God is that I've lived the lies in my earlier life. I have been "touched" by abortion, substance abuse, lust, materialism and more. I have sinned in a variety of ways and suffered the consequences (thank God), only to be brought into a fuller understanding of His Grace, Forgiveness and Love for me . . . a sinner extraordinaire! This Hope and JOY I now experience every moment is the driving force behind my desire to share with others.
P.P.S. It is increasingly difficult to be this anomaly . . . a Christian Democrat. :-) (JK)
Every Sunday my church lists prayer requests for people in the bulletin. The list includes leadership at the church, and then all those who need prayers for physical illness/injuries. And when we reach a time of "prayers of the people" we often mention tragedies and catastrophes around the country and globe. Sadly, we never seem to touch on sin. I know this isn't just a fault in my own church, but most others as well. We can readily pray for physical maladies and tragedies in other countries, but it's "taboo" to mention our own sins specifically.
It took a 17 year old young man to teach us all a lesson recently about confession and prayer. How many people "die" every day in sin, and continue to experience that death with each succeeding day that the sin continues?! Yet, we are afraid to "name it and claim it" openly in those places of worship where it should happen. Instead in the interest of remaining "politically correct" (something Christians and our churches should never be) we ignore sin, sweeping it under the carpet where it rots our floors and foundations. We watch and comment in dismay as marriages are destroyed, young lives are corrupted, and more by all kinds of sin.
The challenge . . . people expressing and confessing their sins openly, seeking forgiveness from Brothers and Sisters in Christ and healing . . . a resurrection of the soul and heart. I know without a doubt if I stood up in worship and asked those who haven't experienced sin themselves, or in those close to them, to raise their hands, there would be no hands raised if we were all truthful. Sexual sin; lust, pornography, adultery, etc. are rampant and touch almost all of us at some point or in some way. Sins of greed, power and materialism are just as prevalent; money, toys, cars, homes, prestigious positions/jobs, image!
Yet, our churches seem to be "enablers" in our sinful lives, never requiring accountability and too often promoting materialistic lifestyles so contrary to what Jesus lived and taught. "Get real" has been a comment often uttered when we see shallow behavior or language in others. Well, we should be yelling at our churches (and ourselves) to "GET REAL!" with this Christian life. One has only to read the Old Testament to see how bad things can get when we condone and promote sinful lives . . . read Jeremiah lately?
Sadly, Jeremiah (and others today) are seen as crackpots to be ignored or cast out (even killed), rather heed the messages that God is delivering through him (them.) In Young Life we do something called "real prayer". It is a time of conversation with each other (and coincidentally God) about real things, including sin in our lives. Many of the kids we minister to come from terribly sinful lives (their own and that of their families.) Confession, forgiveness and healing are a huge part of Young Life. All the most successful "recovery" ministries share this important focus as well.
Our churches are "ill", sick with sin within, it's past time to "get real" and quit pretending that things are fine. I thank God for that young man who had the courage (and trust in His Heavenly Father) to "name it and claim it" . . . his actions were "freeing" for all of us, and I know He is receiving healing and has pleased his Father.
only by Grace, pat