Category Archives: confession

from whence this fear and unbelief?

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From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

If thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

Turn then, my soul, unto thy rest!
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty;
Trust in his efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.

Augustus Toplady

when your sin stares you in the face

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“Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound!” Romans 5:20

Heavenly Father,
Deepen in us this day, contrition for our vileness, as miserable sinners in Your sight. How often without resistance, have we floated down the stream of evil! We do not cloak our wretchedness. Our lips are ready to confess—but our hearts are slow to feel, and our feet are reluctant to amend our ways. We bring our hard hearts unto You. Break them by Your Spirit—and then bind them up by Your grace. Wound them to the core—and then pour in the Gospel-balm!

Such is the blindness of our fallen nature, that we cannot see sin’s deformity—except as You are pleased to unmask it. Such is our deadness, that we cannot hate sin—except as You shall graciously implant abhorrence. Such is our infirmity, that we cannot flee sin—except as Your strength enables. Conscious of our total inability—we come to You for light, for help, for strength, for blessing.

Our sins without number stare us in the face! They are piled as mountain upon mountain. Their height reaches unto the heavens! But their full extent is open only to Your omniscient eye. The burden of our known transgressions weighs us to the dust. But the burden is light, compared to the mass which the scales of Your justice hold. We see but little, because our light is partial and our sight is dim. How must we appear, as seen by You, before whom the very heavens are not clean! You charge Your holy angels with folly. What must be Your estimate of our polluted souls! Humbled for what we see and feel; fearful for what is known only unto You—we meekly cry, “Pardon all our sins—for Jesus’ sake!”

We smite upon our breasts, as utterly unworthy of the least of Your gracious and unfathomable mercies. Hear now our cry, and work in us by the omnipotence of Your Holy Spirit, more profound and abiding repentance. Give us more and more of that godly grief, which ever fears and trembles, and yet ever trusts and loves—which is ever watchful and prayerful, and yet is ever confident and hopeful. May the remembrance of the sad past—quicken us to walk in entire newness of life. Grant that through the tears of penitence, we may see more clearly—the brightness and the glories of the saving Cross!

Oh! blessed Jesus – we flee to You!  We cling to You. Our countless iniquities condemn us—but You will wash them all away!  Our tears of penitence cannot remove one blot—but Your blood has all cleansing merit. Our prayers can earn no pardon—but Your mercy says, “Your sins which are many—are all forgiven!” The more we loathe ourselves—the more we love You! Our vile demerits—commend Your glorious worth!

Henry Law

grace… and your deepest darkest secret…

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so last night at care group i was freshly reminded of grace… God’s grace to me, an undeserving sinner.

During worship, it seemed each song was a reminder of how faithful God is in the midst of our failures.  I had talked with my care group leader, Matt, a while ago about sharing a specific area of my life where God had been at work.  But its an area that has been well hidden.  its an area that is combined with much shame and fear on my part.  Yet, somehow, its an area of my life that God is working to redeem.  And though my own sinful desires would rather not share it, I knew last night that God was calling me to.  He was calling me to open up and share things I didn’t know how it would be received.  And He was calling me to do this and trust in Him to deliver me of fear and shame.

I’m honestly not sure what all I said.  What I remember is that after I shared, one of my friends asked if they could pray for me.  So, everyone gathered around and prayed that God would work as a result.  I was so encouraged, I can’t even begin to put it into words.  I am so grateful for the gift that God has given me through my friends at my church.  I pray that God would be at work in our group, in allowing us to grow together on a deep level, so that we know no matter what, that God is our hope.

After care group, I can’t tell you the number of people that came and thanked me.  So, God is already at work.  Somehow through my sin and lack of trust and failure over and over again, HE is receiving much glory.  And comforting my heart too.

I was reminded of an amazing passage yesterday… Psalm 78.  It talks about the Children of Israel, and just how many times they turned away.  But the focus isn’t just there…According to verses 1-7, the story is meant to be told so that people would set their hope in God, not forget His works and so that they would keep His commandments.  Its not a story of the Israelite’s failure as much as its a story of God’s faithfulness.

“They forgot His works and the wonders that he has shown them… He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.  He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.  Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.  They tested God in their hearts by demanding food they craved.  They spoke against God saying “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?  He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed.  Can He also give bread or provide meat for His people?”  Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath… because they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.  Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven… he sent them food in abundance…and they ate and were well filled… but while the food was still in their mouths…despite the wonders, they did not believe…

their heart was not steadfast toward him, they were not faithful to his covenant.  YET HE, being compassionate atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.  He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert.  They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.  They did not remember his power or the day when He redeemed them from the foe…but He led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.  He led them in safety so that they were not afraid…Yet they tested and rebelled against the most High God and did not keep his testimonies…but He chose the tribe of Judah… which He loves.  He chose David his servant and took Him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people… With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with His skillful hand.”

I’m so glad my God is faithful.  I’m so glad my growth to become more like Him is not dependent on my effort alone. I fail every day. But I’m so glad that my God leads and guides me gently, provides for me in my need and comforts me in my weakness and despair.

not much to say…

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i haven’t written anything lately because to be honest with you its i don’t really have much to say.  life has been tough.  i’ve struggled and failed countless times to trust God.  even saying  “i believe, help my unbelief” seems to take more faith than I have most days.  i am very aware of my weakness and inability to change my circumstances or overcome my sin.  to praise my God has been a sacrifice that most days I have not been willing to give.

yet through this… through my self focus and ravaging sin, God is somehow still caring for me.  it seems harsh and distant and cold, but He has promised never to leave.  He has promised that He is a God who cherishes His own and leads for His weak sheep.  yup, you guessed it … that’s me.   

its really easy to get stuck in what’s wrong… left to myself, i would live there.  i’m thankful though for friends and pastors that care lovingly through that.  i’ve had some hard conversations lately and have shared some tough stuff with a few friends and with my pastor and his wife.  and to see their care and concern and help through it all… its almost enough to build my faith to be able to say “i believe, help my unbelief!” 

i can’t deny my God.  i have tried many times in the past few months.  there have been so many days that apart from God’s grace, I would have walked away from Him never to look back.   but I haven’t.  and i can say with full assurance, that is not as a result of my amazing faith… its a gift from a God that cares.  He has promised to keep me secure.  So, for now I’m clinging to that… and to the promise that He is also the God who gives lavishly… He gives peace and joy and steadfastness through trials.  So though it doesn’t feel that way, He is good and I know He won’t quit on me.

what part?

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over at the New Attitude website, they have posted a portion of my testimony.  In that testimony, I mentioned a spontaneous song sung by Bob Kauflin… here is a link where you can listen to the version I heard that day.

 

Lyrics:

What part of your sin did I not cover?
What part of your guilt did I not take?
You have broken my commandments again and again
But I suffered in your place.

What part of your guilt have I not removed?
And what part of your soul did I not make clean?
Through my once and for all sacrifice
I wholly reconciled you to me.

And don’t let the temporary pleasures of sin
Keep you from what I created you for.
Neverending joy and lasting treasure
In the presence of your Lord.

And I’m the One you were created for.
I made you for myself.
My plans are perfect, my timing’s perfect
I know just where you should be and go
So why would you give yourself to anything else?

For my blood has set you free
Free to worship me
Free to resist the power of sin
That seeks to own your life

My blood has set you free
For you were made for Me.
So live in the good of all that I paid for
Live in the good of what you were made for
Live in the good of the blood shed for you.

Confessions

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O Lord, I am Thy servant: I am Thy servant and the son of Thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds. I will sacrifice to Thee the sacrifice of praise. Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee, and let all my bones say, O Lord who is like to Thee? Let them say and do Thou answer me and say to my soul: I am thy salvation. Who am I an what kind of man am I? What evil has there not been in my deeds, or if not in my deeds, in my words, or if not in my words, then in my will? But You, Lord, are good and merciful, and Your right hand had regard to the profundity of my death and drew out the abyss of corruption that was in the bottom of my heart. By Your giftI had come totally not to will what I willed but to will what You willed. But where in all that long time was my free will, and from what deep sunken hiding-place was it suddently summoned forth in the moment in which I bowed my neck to Your easy yoke and my shoulders to Your light burden, Christ Jesus, my Helper and my Redeemer? How lovely I suddenly found it to be free from the loveliness of those vanitites, so that now it was a joy to renounce what I had been so afraid to lose. For You cast them out of me, O true and supreme Loveliness, You cast them out of me and took their place in me, You who are sweeter than all pleasure, yet not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, yet deeper within than any secret; loftier than all honour, but not to those who are lofty to themselves. Now my mind was free from the cares that had gnawed it, from aspiring and getting and weltering in filth and rubbing the scab of lust. And I talked with You as friends talk, my glory and my riches and my salvation, my Lord God.

Augustine Confessions: Book Nine, Chapter One: The Joy of Conversion.

the God of Narnia

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I started reading a new book today. Its a book I’ve had for a few months and have read snippets of, but today, I actually started on page one (a very good place to start…).

Since Na, I have been struggling with fear. Fear to approach God. Fear because I know He’s not safe, though I do believe Him to be good. Fear of submitting. Fear of sacrifice.
I long for the day when my sin does not cause me to want to hide, but instead when seeing that makes me run unhindered to the cross. Yet, still I desire to hide. And still, my Father, is calling to me. My Jesus is not saying “get away” rather “get back in line.”
I can feel the cords drawing me back to the cross. I can hear the voice of my Savior saying “come home.. ye who are weary come home.” Softly and tenderly, not harsh and angrily, He is calling. “Emily, your heart is longing. What you don’t realize right now (or what you in your anger are not wanting to admit), is that what your heart is longing for is me.”

Like Jill in the Silver Chair, I am thirsty. Thirsty, yet full of fear and so aware of my pride and sin (the following is an excerpt from The Heart of the Chronicles of Narnia: Knowing God here by finding Him there by Thomas Williams)

In the Silver Chair, the schoolgirl Jill finds herself alone and terribly thirsty in an unknown woods. She comes upon a stream, but between her and the water sits the great Lion. Though her thirst is overpowering, she stops in her tracks, too fearful to advance or to run.

“If you’re thirsty, you may drink,” says the Lion.

The terrified Jill wants assurance that she will not be eaten. “Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” she asks.

“I make no promise” the Lion answers.

“I daren’t come and drink,” Jill replies.

“Then you will die of thirst,” the Lion tells her. When Jill says she will go and look for another stream the Lion responds, “There is no other stream.”

In the end, Jill musters up the courage to step forward and drink, though it is the hardest thing she has ever done. The God of Narnia cannot be manipulated by human wants. The Lion knows that Jill needs water, and he wants her to have it. But she wants it on her own terms, which means avoiding him and getting a guarantee of safety.

Aslan knows that Jill’s terms for happiness will not achieve her ultimate goal. She wants fulfillment without encountering God, and her fulfillment on those terms is possible. Aslan ignores her desire for comfort and safety, insisting that she take the necessary risk of encountering God as the ultimate satisfaction of all needs and desires.

I was created to find my happiness in Him alone. God, please grant grace to turn away from my fear and self-gratifying desires and idolatry. Help me to see You as the joy for which I was created. Grant me the gift of humility and repentance to run to You as the Source of my only strength. I can’t do this on my own. I am weak, needy and distracted. But I am grateful I have a God that is strength in my weakness, that is sufficient to meet my need and that can focus my distracted heart on Him alone.

Trust or Apathy?

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*warning* *you are about to enter a rambling journal entry from a slightly warped mind* :)

I don’t know what’s going on right now in my head (and I’m not talking about the bacterial infection lovingly known as “Mike” – he’s still there but is withering, praise God!) What I’m referring to is this – I’m not worrying. I’m not concerned about tomorrow. I’m simply enjoying today. I’m taking things one at a time and that’s it. I sat on my bedroom floor last night, completely relaxed just sitting there simply being happy doing nothing. I enjoyed an evening of roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with the kids and had no concern for my pile of dirty laundry. I went to bed early and woke up refreshed (albeit with a wicked headache that was crying for more sleep).

Honestly I don’t know if this is what trusting God is (and feels) like. I don’t know if I’m resting there or if I’m becoming apathetic. Sometimes I wonder if they can feel the same. Let me explain…

When I’m worrying, I am focused on each detail. I am concerned about every step, wondering what the answer is. I wonder if God has forgotten me and is deaf to my requests. But on the other hand, when I’m trusting, I have the freedom to simply rest in today, trust God as the One in control and find a sweet freedom there as I continue being faithful to each step He’s called me to.

The only problem with that is my heart is deceitful. My heart is SO prone to wander. Apathy can also look like “resting in today and having no concern for tomorrow.” It can look like “let go and let God.” It can look like a desire for too much leisure and no desire to take up my sword and go to battle.

The issue with that is that God has called me to battle. Sure, he’s called me to rest in Him, but there is still a warfare going on for the conquest of my soul, my thoughts, my desires, and my will. The battle for my soul was won on the cross when Christ compelled me by the love in the three words “it is finished,” but the battle for my will continues daily through this process called sanctification – the process that is transforming selfish, sin-filled me into a daughter of God which miraculously reflects the image of my beautiful Jesus.

I fear I may be neglecting that battle. I wonder if I am beginning to use my physical pain as an excuse to neglect God. My overall devotion to God is there, and by His grace, is growing. But my devotion to the “small” things in life (give 100% in all things, take care of my body as a temple, die to selfishness and pride, yearn for the life-giving Word – thirst for that more than anything, etc) – the devotion is not there like I know it should be.

Now this is the point when I need to remind myself that in spite of ALL my failures, God is faithful. He who began a great work in me WILL complete it. By His grace and through His work, I WILL hear “welcome home, my good and faithful servant” – for when God looks at me, He sees the righteousness of the only Good and Faithful Servant.

But I need more grace. I am needy of the sustaining grace to continue the fight. I don’t want to be content with my current status. I want to keep growing. I want God’s work to continue transforming me. I need His reviving grace. I need His persevering grace.

Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” —Isaiah 40:31

“The righteous shall hold on his way.” —Job 17:9

“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” —John 14:18

Even so, Lord Jesus, COME! Come to this heart that daily turns away. Continue to pursue. Continue to work. Be faithful to what You’ve promised. Continue what you’ve begun, for without that continual grace, I am without hope. I am so weak, and even my desire for growth is inhibited by my lack of ability to create the growth that only by your grace I desire. But praise God, my lack of ability is met by an all-sufficient Savior. How I need that all-sufficiency to once again pour its grace into my life. How needy I am each step of the way.

Do not let my heart become apathetic to your grace. Keep me within the distance of the cries of Calvary. Let my hope be in the words you cried that day – “it is finished…” “you will be with Me in Paradise…” “I thirst…” “my God, why have You forsaken Me?…” Sweet Jesus, you thirsted so that I could be filled. You were forsaken, so that I would be a part of the marvelous Family. You gave so that I might receive. Grant me once again, the grace to realize each step is by your grace alone.

Each promise uttered that day on the Cross was because of Your righteousness. Let that provide the hope to my apathetic soul. Let that compel my trust in You. Keep me close to that grace. Provide it, in your mercy, ever-abundantly to this needy soul.

Sweet Surrender

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I sacrifice with praise, oh Lord
My hopes and dreams and fears.
I surrender all, my Love
Take my sorrow; wipe my tears.

For you oh Lord are Power
Your strength is never ending
Through your mighty and amazing cross
This broken heart, you’re mending.

Take my cravings, take my guilt
Wash my sinful hands through the blood you’ve spilt.
Grant me peace and hope in you alone
Let humility in my heart grow.

You are not pleased in sacrifices
Or else, dear Lord I’d give it.
What you really want from my life is
That I trust in you and humbly live it.

A life of full dependence –
Oh that is sweet surrender.
When my conscience still condemns me
Lord, You are my strong Defender.

So, I surrender all to you
You’re the Master of my ways.
I gladly give You my desires
For You’ve planned out all my days

Yes, its sweet to trust in You, Lord
To surrender every part.
I believe and hope in Jesus
The One Physician to heal this heart.

I’m weary God, and you are strong.
My sin-filled heart finds mercy.
Its sweet to know no matter what
You hear the one who’s hurting.

You draw me near and promise that
As I draw closer so do You
My trials won’t consume me Lord
For I’m consumed with You.

Refocusing

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I changed the title of my blog today from “Emily’s blog: random musings into the character of God and its implications in my life…” to “A Sacrifice of Praise.”

This change is for several reasons.

The first is because over the last month or so, God has been lovingly stripping me of “Emily’s thoughts” which are often based in feelings and transferring those with truths found in His unchanging Word. This past month of pain and trials has shown me an inexpressable comfort and sweetness found in Him and His Words. My focus must dwell there more.

As I was reading today in Hebrews 13, I came across the following verses:
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Because of the cross, I have been drawn near to Christ. He’s commanded, as His follower, that I die to my desires and hopes that are tied to this world and follow Him, looking to the hope that is to come. With that in mind… in light of the cross… in light of eternity, how can I not praise? How can my words not be filled with gratitude? How can I not acknowlege that Jesus is truly the sweetest name I know?

So, the second reason for the change is because I want my life to be this sacrifice of praise. I want to be so enamoured by the cross that everything else pales in comparison. I want my words to reflect gratefulness for the mercy He’s given to me. Having those words at the beginning of my blog each time I log in, will physically help me to remember to praise, not complain… to rejoice, not lament… to look up, not look around or down.

I want to sing. Whether in a dark prison at midnight or in fields of happy sunshine. My response should be a sacrifice of praise because my situation does not determine my feelings. Truth does.

This is a sacrifice because I must surrender all. I must die to my idolatrous desires, as I submit to the will of my Father. I must make a choice to say “no” when my heart screams otherwise. That is a sacrifice worth giving. In view of what He sacrificed, this can scarecely even be called sacrifice. It is minimal compared to His cross.

This is a joyful sacrifice filled with praise, for He has washed my sins away. He has promised to lead the blind. He has promised to guide and comfort no matter what the trial may be. I can praise because God will never forsake. He will always lead. He will always guide me in ways that to me are unfamiliar.

That’s why I praise. That’s what changes everything. Joy is found in death. The death of my Savior brings sweet hope. And the death to my desires brings sweet comfort as Jesus faithfully proves Himself to be more than sufficient. He IS indeed more than sufficient. He IS all. I have no need He does not address. I have no sin He did not remove. I have no cry He does not hear. There is no trial He does not walk through with me. He is indeed great.

In my weakness, I see more clearly His all-sufficiency. I can rest there with joy and peace.