It's been over a month since I've made time to pour out my heart before God via my blog. Don't get me wrong, I pour out my heart to God all the time. Just me and God. However many times being able to share what I've learned along the way with others and get it down on paper (or my blog for that matter) is what truly seals the deal. I can no longer make excuses for continuing to act in a destructive way or have the same old patterns of thinking once it is out in the open.
I recently started reading a book my father-in-law gave my husband titled Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. In it, the author speaks of some of the "spiritual disciplines" Christians follow such as praying, fasting, studying, and worshiping. Some of these so called spiritual disciplines are oftentimes overlooked while others are done almost with a subtle legalism. Nonetheless the spiritual disciplines when practiced serve to enrich our relationship with our other believers and more importantly, our heavenly father.
At this point in time, I find that I could certainly make use of one of the disciplines Foster emphasizes in his book, the discipline of confession. You see I've always been pretty bad at this. Then again, I'm not such a bad person. I don't steal, lie, or cheat. I love my husband, I serve at my church, I share Christ's love with everyone I met (or at least I try to). Yet in the depths of my heart can be found some pretty nasty sin. Although it may not be as blatant as murder or adultery, God can see it and He does not want me to continue to cling to it.
I'm not quite ready to share with the entire blogosphere (or Facebook for that matter since my posts are linked to my FB profile) what it is that God has been showing me but I will say that it is an ugly beast that rears its head more often than I'd care to admit. Richard Foster puts it this way, "If we only had a tinge of the sense of revulsion that God feels toward sin, we would be moved to holier living." I believe that I'm at that point where I am so disgusted by it that I genuinely want to rid myself of it and be free.
I will share some of the practical steps that Foster records in this chapter on confession. First he says that as we confess our sins, we must confess concrete sins. Those are not only the sins that others can see but are definite and include the sins of the heart such as anger, pride, envy, etc. After we confess our sin, sorrow must follow. He describes sorrow as not only an emotion but "an abhorrence at having committed the sin, a deep regret at having offended the heart of the Father." Lastly, there must be a determination in us to avoid the sin altogether. At this point we can ask God to give us a desire to live in a holy manner and hate unholy living. In addition, once we confess although we will experience sorrow in the beginning, at the end we should feel joy. "Confession begins in sorrow, but it ends in joy." This is because once we acknowledge our sin, we receive God's forgiveness and are free to change.
Of course, confession is not something that can be done with anyone. We should seek to find wise and Godly people to confess to. One way to find the right person is to ask God in prayer to lead you to that person. Also be sure to observe the person for evidence of having a genuine and intimate relationship with Jesus themselves. According to Foster he believes people who possess the following characteristics would be ideal persons one could confess to: spiritual maturity, wisdom, compassion, good common sense, the ability to keep a confidence and a wholesome sense of humor.
I have said this in the past and I will say it again, "This book has changed my life". It's not the profound truths I have read on the pages of this book but more so how God has worked in my heart to help me to overcome my sense of complacency with my comfortable Christianity and strive to become a woman wholeheartedly committed to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord. I pray that I would never feel comfortable with my level of Christianity but that I would continually be challenged to grow in my pursuit of my Savior.