Saturday, August 27, 2005

Transformation at the Timberline of the Himalayas

Wrapping up Celebration of Discipline with the discipline of celebration adds a flavorful twist of wit to our study and underscores the proposition that the aim of the individual and corporate Disciplines, comprehensively, is transformation by God. A transformation rooted in His power and grace as we place ourselves reverently before Him via “the path of disciplined grace” that we’ve studied these past 13 weeks.

“In The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes it clear that grace is free, but it is not cheap. The grace of God is unearned and unearnable, but if we expect to grow in grace, we must pay the price of a consciously chosen course of action…” Thus, closing the trek of our study together with the imagery of a people now standing – backpacks lightened in weight and upheld by the grace and work of God - at the timberline of the Himalayas of the Spirit with Christ our guide ready to lead us onward in our journey of continued spiritual growth is an excellent point of departure at the conclusion our voluntary endeavor.

If we put the outdoor analogy in the context of the natural realm, the contrast of scenery, as we make our way beyond the timberline, can be awe-inspiring – even breathtaking. When we pause – often feeling quite small amidst the grandeur and in awe of the snowy peaks before us – somehow, God confronts our spirit with a natural revelation of Himself and our inner man starts to dance at the recognition that we are not alone. Moreover, we, seeing ourselves as one amongst the created and not as the Creator, begin to garner a glimpse of being a part of a divine handiwork that precedes and succeeds our generation and participation in God’s creation.

We begin to take note that there is a tapestry on the loom of history in which we are linked to those who have come before us and to those who will come after us. This is an awesome thought and, in some ways, our now ending study of Celebration of Discipline can play the part of a reminder that we – the church today- are a part of the all encompassing church begun by God long before our time of existence.

Like saints of old, we can practice and apply the Disciplines towards practical spiritual growth. We, now, like they, then, can see " how meditation heightens our spiritual sensitivity which, in turn, leads us into prayer. Very soon we discover prayer involves fasting as an accompanying means. Informed by these three Disciplines, we can effectively move into study which gives us discernment about ourselves and the world in which we live. Through simplicity we live with others in integrity. Solitude allows us to be genuinely present to people when we are with them. Through submission we live with others without manipulation, and through service we are a blessing to them. Confession frees us from ourselves and releases us to worship. Worship opens the door to guidance. All the Disciplines freely exercised bring forth the doxology of celebration.” Therefore, by God’s grace, we have a part in redeeming others and growing the church towards what is can be today and will be in eternity.

To see the Disciplines in the context of antiquity and the present provides a context for interpreting the process of spiritual growth and reminds me that my bit in the warp and woof of the fabric of God’s making matters. Likewise, “our” part together, as His people, matters, too – and even more so than it can alone. Recognizing this, may we be motivated to pursue Him and take an active and deliberate part in God’s will and plan for His kingdom and for man.

I am happy to hear Richard Foster’s exhortation towards celebration and pray that we may be a winsome and authentic people. For, “it is an occupational hazard of devout folk to become stuffy bores”. “This should not be.” We who know the good news of Jesus should live accordingly. There is therefore now no room for self-righteous boasting, self-importance, arrogance, or a judgmental spirit. We should be a pleasing aroma to God and others. Granted, obedience to Christ will place us at odds with many. We will endure persecution and rejection; however, we need not “ stink to the high heavens” with arrogance as we go about the process of living. If we do, we misrepresent the grace of God and the beckoning of Christ to a full and meaningful life to others. We truly can obey the example and commands of our Lord. We truly can be humble and courageous and a gracious aroma of the living God to a dying world. May we leave the stench making to others and get about (Luke 4) proclaiming good news to the poor, release to the captives, and the recovery of sight to the blind whilst proclaiming the favorable year of our Lord.

Finally, we should not leave the discussion of the Disciplines without squaring off with the fact that all is for naught if we falter and do not obey. Certainly, “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Yet, “Joy is found in obedience. When the power that is in Jesus reaches into our work and play and redeems them, there will be joy where once there was mourning.” We cannot underscore the importance of obedience to joyful Christian living enough to shrink from saying it over and over again. “To elicit genuine celebration, obedience must work itself into the ordinary fabric of our daily lives. Without that our celebrating carries a hollow sound.” For, “ celebration comes when the common ventures of life are redeemed”. May it be so.

In closing, the Celebration of Discipline study has been a tool of God’s making for transformation. At the outset, I could never have imagined that this study – an on line book study no less- could have fueled such an experience as this effort has proven to be for me- a sojourner who knows his desperate need for God. I began as one who took a skeptical posture towards a popular book – but unread by me- on spiritual disciplines and circled the wagons around my otherwise tender heart towards God whilst casting a cautious and ready stare towards the writer. Nonetheless, I pushed boat from shore mostly motivated by the opportunity to take part in a book study with a handful of believers from Canada, the States, England, Malaysia, China, Korea, Australia, and so on.

Without question, it was the community aspect of the venture that moved me to participate – and I am very glad I did. Thank you guys for an incredible run. The body of Christ is amazing to view in both its scattered and gathered expressions. Thank you for your part within the gracious provision of God to me - a brother in Christ. The wagons are no longer circled and I am a richer man – in the things that matter- for having taken part in the study. I pray it is the same for you.

God bless you all and may we do this again very soon.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Kemosabe (Faithful Friend)

OK you ask – how can a long-running radio and television show about a masked cowboy and his Native American friend have anything to do with this week’s subject on Guidance? Well, the answer may be that it relates more than you know.

The call of Christ to every woman and man is a call to life by grace through faith and a call to community. we are to be partakers in the fellowship of the saints. In effect, we belong to Christ and to each other. We are called together into a “believing community”. To quote Richard foster from an earlier chapter, “As human life is unthinkable without head, arms, and legs, so it is unthinkable for those Christians to live in isolation from one another”. Yet, this element of togetherness is often elusive.

The subject of togetherness is too large of a subject to weave into a discussion on the corporate discipline of guidance. Yet, I will say this – to my observation- there is too much loneliness and often too little friendliness in the body of Christ. I recognize church is a family and a fellowship; likewise, I know that what we often call “church” – an organization, a Sunday gathering, or, worse yet, a building with a steeple- is a mere veneer in contrast to the body life that God has intended for His people.

Recently, I came across a summary of a Sunday visit to a local congregation by a
mystery worshipper. Apparently, this outfit “has an intrepid team of Mystery Worshippers traveling incognito in the British aisles and beyond, reporting on the comfort of the pews, the warmth of the welcome and the length of the sermon. The only clue they have been there at all is the Mystery Worshipper calling card, dropped discreetly into the collection plate”. Whilst I’m not certain that each point of evaluation merits measurement, the comments on friendliness during the corporate gathering are telling.

Here is one 3-question excerpt that is worth noting:

Did anyone welcome you personally? Coffee and bacon sandwiches were being served before the service. I stood alone and unwelcomed in the middle of the bustling coffee area till the time for worship.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what? There was a deep sense of the presence of God during the worship, which was led by the music group. The offering was collected by the congregation going up to the front. Then there were notices, lollies (see below), sharing, and the sermon.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost? Having had a lonely bacon sandwich and coffee before the service, I had a lonely donut and coffee after the service. I had a chance to talk with my neighbours during the giving out of the lollies, but they went straight out at the end of the service.

For clarity, I can say that I know some of the believers that comprise this fellowship that gathers near London and can attest that the write up, if written today, would be altogether different and much more complimentary; nonetheless, the observations of the writer are worth noting for there is an element of similarity in this report that transcends many congregations, traditions, and experience. So, let me propose a thought:

The Sunday morning gathering of any fellowship is, at best, only a snapshot of what a church is really like. The real substance is in the small groups, ongoing friendships, lives being transformed, and the together-life of the body. However, we, as a fellowship, should be aware. If God is calling people to us and us to people, then we must be certain that we are not a closed group of believers who are comfortable amongst themselves and unaware of those searching for God and seeking the context of body life that God has ordained for all of His beloved.

For years, I have held the idea of being a “Lone Ranger” as a point of contrast to healthy Christian interdependence. We must remember that we’re not alone in our endeavor to grow in Christ. Also, even as we grow in our independence, it is important to remember that God has provided the context of family, friends, and the body of Christ to add a richness to life that is exponentially greater than going solo.

Certainly, we all need to be at ease with solitude. This is good; however, the real mark of maturity is not being strongly independent but healthily interdependent with a confidence and self worth that is deeply rooted in the knowledge that God has made us in His image and loves us so much that " He gave His only begotten Son" to accomplish our forgiveness and make us new.

Was the “Lone Ranger” really a loner? I may have been mistaken? Kemosabe means faithful friend. (Can you believe it? Kemosabe is a real word. Its origin is from the Potowatomie Indians that lived in and around Michigan. The creator of the radio series took the word from real life and his experience in Michigan. So, when Tonto would say, “You, Kemosabe.” He was saying, “You are a faithful friend.”) Until now, I was unfamiliar with the story of how the Lone Ranger came to be alone. It’s interesting to learn and broadens my understanding of the character. Moreover, he and Tonto were quite the team and, as the adage goes, there is no I in team. So, maybe my idea of the Lone Ranger being a solo act breaks down when seen in context; nonetheless, TV and radio character aside, it is clear that God never intended for us to go it alone.

In keeping with the idea of “not going it alone”, Foster’s handling of guidance as a corporate discipline was really eye opening. I knew the admonition of the Proverbs 20:18 (“ Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.”) but have not heard the idea expressed as “corporate guidance” until reading this chapter. Clearly, there is a “communal side” to the discipline that goes beyond “private guidance”. In our day, do we ever allow that “individual guidance must yield to corporate guidance” in the context of our life together as the church of God?

“Perhaps the preoccupation with private guidance in Western cultures is the product of their emphasis upon individualism." However, it has not always been so. “God led the children of Israel out of bondage as a people. Everyone saw the saw the cloud and fiery pillar. They were not a gathering of individuals who happened to be going in the same direction; they were a people under the theocratic rule of God.” Are not we today to be the same? If so, the idea of guidance as a corporate discipline makes perfect sense.

The examples of the early churches ought to peak our interest in this week’s study. Likewise, the subject underscores the importance of life together as the body of Christ. So, even if the Lone Ranger really was a loner, we are not meant to be. Rather, our “kemosabe” (faithful friend) has placed us in a family and intends that we sort this matter out together. May we follow His lead and do so. It is time for the body of Christ to stop “going to church” and start being the church. And, if we are to do so, we must cherish His guidance corporately, as well as, alone.

Let me close with two quotes:

"We should not ask, "What is wrong with the world?" for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, "What has happened to the salt and light?" John R. W. Stott

"The Christian life is not just our own private affair. If we have been born again into God's family, not only has he become our Father but every other Christian believer in the world, whatever his nation or denomination, has become our brother or sister in Christ. But it is no good supposing that membership of the universal Church of Christ is enough; we must belong to some local branch of it. Every Christian's place is in a local church, sharing in its worship, its fellowship, and its witness." John R. W. Stott

God Bless.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rite of Passage and My Three Sons

Rites of passage come in various forms. For my eldest son, my wife, and me our trek to his university yesterday began an initiation that we all knew was coming but which I could not fully embrace until it happened. As a dad, I probably feel it more so than the younger Thomas; however, there is a tinge of sadness in the transition. Yet, as it should be, there is much excitement, too.

I count it a privilege to have a part in raising my three sons. And, to this end, I have always made it my aim to raise men – not boys. They must know their God, hear His voice, follow His lead, and do so because of His life within them and their choosing to yield to His love and will. This is how it should be; thus, part of the process is encouraging them to stand and lead. So, yesterday, sad as it is that I will not enjoy the daily presence of my son, I took delight in watching him push the boat from shore and set sail towards this next phase of life.

Moreover, I take delight in knowing he has demonstrated a habit of walking with God and in His wisdom. One of the Proverbs of Solomon kept wafting through my heart as we wrapped up our time together on his new campus.

My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. (Proverbs 23: 15-16)

My son, you have indeed gladdened the heart of this humbled yet very proud dad. Cheers and all the best on your new endeavor.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Opiate and an Ancient Creed

This matter of worship should be near to the heart for each of us in the body of Christ. The truth is that we are called to a life of worship. (Romans 12) No amount of singing, praise, preaching or dancing can substitute for a heart that fully yields to God and a will that chooses to obey. Yet today, it seems that many have turned "worship" into a market niche more so than a ministry of leading God’s people from the “outer courts to the inner courts" and into the "holy of holies" – the presence of God.

“Say it ain’t so..” a young boy cries to his hero “Shoeless Joe” Jackson on the heels of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. (Those unfamiliar with baseball might find the story of the 1919 World Series scandal to be an interesting read.) Whilst the baseball analogy may breakdown in translation outside of the States, it may in fact be true that chronic casual (with little cost or consequence) Christianity may indeed be mostly an American phenomena.

In contrast, are you familiar with the Nicene Creed? It grew out of a gathering called by the Emperor Constantine. Its aim was a clear statement of orthodox Christian doctrine. The gathering took place in 325 A.D. The creed reads like this:

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy catholic (universal or comprehensive) and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Why would I point us to an ancient creed? It is because we Christians today - in American culture- often have it pretty easy. Yet, whilst I do not believe it will stay this way, we – for the moment- live in a society which, at present, requires very little of us if we profess Christ.

Recently in Dallas, TX, a “Madison Avenue-esque” billboard for a “Christian” event at a large coliseum struck me. (Atlanta or a number of other cities could just as easily be the example. I just happened to be working in Dallas when I saw the advertisement.) It really made an impression and it wasn’t the impression the owners intended. The sign was near the exit for Texas Stadium. You could see it along interstate. Big, glossy letters of religious jargon appealing to a niche market of religious consumers that could fork over the cash to hear the latest chart topping “Christian” artists and crowd drawing speakers. However, in many places today, as well as in the history of the church, such freedom has not often been the norm.

It is said of many that took part in the Council of Nicea were Christians leaders from the across the land. Many were “missing limbs or eyes, or bore scars from wounds they had suffered during the persecution under pagan emperors”. As the Emperor Constantine entered the church where they had assembled, he was overcome with awe and compassion upon seeing these confessors of Christ. Approaching them, he bent over and kissed the empty sockets of the eyes many had lost whilst being tortured by the persecutors. Out of veneration for these men of God, the mighty emperor remained standing until the Church Fathers beckoned him to sit. Such a scene is quite the contrast to American Christianity today.

The billboards of our history and the persecuted church of today are not made with “big, glossy letters of religious jargon”. Rather, they are constructed of missing limbs, lost loved ones, jail time, wounds and scars. And, from such a condition, a worshiping church springs forth.

Maybe today, we do use worship as an "opiate"? (To quote Foster) Frankly, to be lost in the presence of God does cause, as the hymn says, “things of earth” to “grow strangely dim.” It should be so. However, may we not forsake the God who is the object of our worship and may we not stop at the emotion but continue on to obedience.

Let me wrap up with a few quotes from others:

John Calvin - "Lawful worship consists in obedience alone."

Geoff Bullock - "We've made worship self-centred instead of God-centred. We lobby for what we want: 'I don't like the songs', 'I don't like the volume'. It's as if we're worshipping worship instead of worshipping God."

"Worship is not a result of how good the music is or whether my favourite songs are sung. It is not a consequence of whether I stand or sit, lift my hands or kneel. My worship must be an expression of my relationship with God - in song, in shouts and whispers, sitting, walking, or driving the car. Worship is my response to God.

A.P. Gibbs - "The term, "worship," like many other great words, such as "grace" and "love," defies adequate definition. The meaning of these words, like the exquisite perfume of a rose, or the delightful flavor of honey, is more easily experienced than described.

Some definitions of value:

"Worship is the overflow of a grateful heart, under the sense of Divine favor." Here the writer has emphasized the fact that worship is a spontaneous thing. It is not something which has to be laboriously pumped up, but that which springs up, and overflows from a heart filled with a sense of the greatness and goodness of God. . . .

"Worship is the outpouring of the soul at rest in the presence of God." Here the accent is on the spiritual condition of the one who worships. The believer is at rest. . . .

"Worship is the occupation of the heart, not with it's needs, or even with it's blessings, but with God Himself." Here the distinction is between prayer, praise, and worship. . .

Charles Swindoll - "We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play and play at our worship."

A.W. Tozer - "We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God."

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On The Journey Toward Right Use of Power

My schedule has been absolutely slammed recently. (Mostly due to my work and related travel) However, I continue to wrestle with the example of Christ and integrating His word and His life within into everyday life as an everday man.

He has called us to serve - especially the least. May this post stir up us to consider "questions not fully answered and dynamics not fully understood" and be used by God to sift our motivations and desires.

It is an article written by MADELINE BURGHART as part of the weekly reflection newsletter from Henri Nouwen and is certainly worth the read.

On The Journey Toward Right Use of Power

"Please, you must come inside," she begged. I refused, for the third time. Some people had gathered to watch. It was becoming uncomfortable. I turned away and joined the line of people waiting for their servings of food from the huge, communal pots.

I was attending a local man's ordination into the priesthood at an outdoor Mass in a township of Bulawayo, the city in Zimbabwe where I lived and worked for three years. The woman had invited me to join the young man's close friends and family, as well as local dignitaries, inside the Parish Hall. There they were enjoying (relatively) rich food and the use of tables, chairs, and cutlery. Outside, people took their food in bowls, used fingers to eat, and sat in clusters on the ground.

When I lived in Zimbabwe, I often found myself in situations like this, where my status as a well-educated white woman from a wealthy nation was all too evident. Why should I be invited inside? I did not know the man. I had attended this celebration only because a friend thought all Catholics in the city should be part of this great day. I turned away from the invitation knowing that my decision was hurtful, yet it was the one that resonated most deeply in my heart. I, a stranger, could not join this man's closest circle while others who knew him better remained outside.

While I felt certain of my response, my reflections on it since have not been without questions. This journey towards the right use of power, I now realize, is often marked by a sense of incompleteness, of questions not fully answered and dynamics not fully understood. Were the questions to stop, I would begin to be concerned. And while all our decisions must be informed by the truth that we are all created equally as God's children, it would be naïve to assume that the politics of power are not at play, even in our most basic everyday encounters.

I think of this often, many years later, as I raise my three young boys. Although my life certainly seems simpler now, the journey towards the right use of power carries on. As I try, sometimes ungracefully, to work out with my sons the best way to live this day, I search for the resonance of power used well.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Into the Light

Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and his own heart will find there is no sin that can be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified even by the rankest sins of a brother.” Dietrich Bonhoefffer, Life Together

This week’s chapter on Confession was thought provoking and helpful. The idea of opening ourselves to the “gaze of God” through private (individual) and corporate confession underscores a discipline and grace that is crucial to our intimacy and growth with God. Yes, salvation is an event and a process. And it is in the process (sanctification) that we find the discipline of confession helps us grow into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”(Eph. 4:13) But the corporate aspect of the discipline – to me – is quite tricky.

Scriptures solidly and without wavering teach the “universal priesthood of all believers”. Therefore, can I have no qualms over I John 1:9 or Psalm 51. In fact, the private bit of confession ‘ist kein problem”. It’s the corporate bit that unsettles my tranquility.

How do I make peace with the exhortation to a more public confession? To whom do I confess? Are there qualifications to consider? How do I put into practice the exhortation of James 5, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”? Foster does a good job speaking to the matters. He even points out a hazard or two along the path of this corporate discipline of grace.

Confession begins in sorrow, but ends in joy,” says Foster. Yet, the sorrow of confession should be a sorrow over our sin and not the sorrow of a trust betrayed. Certainly, every believer – by virtue of the work of Christ and the Word of God – is capable of receiving our confession. Yet, in practice, this is not true. “Though it is unfortunate, it is a fact of life that some people seem unable to keep a confidence.” (Foster) In today’s terminology, some people are "safe" and others are not.

There is a dichotomy in Christianity that we must make peace with if we are to transact life together successfully. The dichotomy is this. God has called us out as a holy people and set us aside for His glory. Positionally in Christ, we are holy indeed; yet, practically this holy people with a noble calling live – very often- in unholy and ignoble ways. Therefore, not all brothers or sisters in Christ are “safe people” and we are naïve if we discount this reality. Moreover, we are wise to exercise a bit of caution as we draw near to others in the body of Christ.

I admit that we will be closer to a smaller number – generally very few- than to the body at large; nonetheless, even amongst the few, we must seek the grace of God to discern who is “safe” and who is not. As we are developing a new friendship, it may be prudent to place a few smaller tests in play that can confirm that my friend is amongst those who are generally able to keep a confidence. As time passes and trust is maintained, I may then become convinced that this new friend is amongst the few with whom he and I – together- can delve deeper into areas of our hearts as we seek to grow in Christ and practical godly living.

The” iron sharpening iron” bit of scripture is important to remember. Solomon put it this way.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4)

Yet, how do I become confident regarding the place for more public confession in my walk with Christ and within His church?

I know that Christianity consists of a call to Christ and a call community. And yes, there are disciplines that we partake in corporately as part of our life together. Nonetheless, the disciplines play (only) a part in placing us “before God so that He can transform us” and “have value only as a means of setting us before God so that He can give us the liberation that we seek”. “They (the disciplines) are not the answer; they only lead us to the Answer.” These thoughts from earlier in Celebration of Discipline remain true and apply to the discipline of confession, as well. However, there is clearly a place for corporate confession.

The more anonymous “stylized form” of the Confessional (a.k.a. the sacrament of penance or reconciliation) may be a starting point; yet, somehow I think the “confess your sins one to another” goes deeper – and is even more risky- than the image I have of entering a confessional and confessing my sins to a priest. Yet, if I were to do this, at least my sin is “out in the open” – albeit in a very limited way – and this may have some merit.

I do agree, as Bonhoeffer writes, “A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has been brought into the light”. So, am I willing to wrestle with the matter?

I may not understand God’s exhortation to confess “one to another”; yet, this is true of many other truths in the Christian life. Frankly, I think much of the value of the disciplines is in the humility required for submitting and the faith that I exercise to obey. Certainly, there are many things I would like to know better and chief amongst them all is a desire to live closely with my Creator, worship my Saviour, and know Him well.

Granted, there are limits to many of the disciplines. For example, the limit of the discipline of submission (Ch 8) is the point at which submission becomes destructive. (If you are unfamiliar with this statement, Ch 8 Submission is really worth the read.) Likewise, there are limits for public confession. Not everyone in the body of Christ is safe. Not everyone is mature. Not everyone is practically qualified to receive our confession. So, be aware, act wisely, exercise discernment and pray. For, there is a limit to the discipline of confession.

Nonetheless, the discipline of confession remains important to living in the light of the Cross – even against the backdrop of the dichotomy of the church and out life together. Yes, we are a “fellowship of sinners” and – at the same time - a “fellowship of saints”. Both conditions are true for the community (the communion) of Christ-followers who, by the grace of God, are being changed into the “likeness” of His Son. Therefore, God does not exhort us to harm when He exhorts us towards confession because included with His exhortation is the instruction to pursue prudence, wisdom,and discernment, too.

His exhortation towards confession is good. It is for our well-being and His glory. “The Discipline of confession brings and end to pretense. God is calling into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change.”

May God grant us the grace sort this issue out - even if it is with “fear and trembling”- and “once again to recover the Discipline of confession”.

God Bless.

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