Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cracked Mirror

Christmas is almost here. Wow! The birthday celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He truly is (forgive the cliche') the REASON FOR THE SEASON.

I've been so blessed this Holiday Season. My job has provided a number of free tickets to incredible productions like, The Nutcracker, Narnia, and Big Little Things. My daughter and I have flitted from one play to the next, enjoying dancing, music, and drama, three things that delight and entertain us. I've never experienced such a wonderful taste of the arts in Portland. I am impressed. Big time.

One thing I noticed, always, while in the lovely restrooms at these events, was the amount of time women stood looking in the mirror. In fact, I remember reading somewhere (I wish I could remember where and when) that women look in the mirror, or windows, OR anything with a reflection, hundreds of times daily.

What are we looking for? Sure we check our lipstick, smooth down that out-of-place hair, and even wash the lunch crumbs away ... but, I think there just might be something more to our fascination with our own reflections.

Remember the evil queen in Snow White? She had a mirror that continually fed her a lie. For she was most certainly not the fairest in the land even before Ms. Snow White showed her pretty face on the scene. The Queen's mirror had a nasty fibbing streak, didn't it? Leading his wicked ruler to become disillusioned with her reality.

On another level, apart from movie magic, we all have a "mirror," something inside us that reflects back everything good, bad, and in between that has happened in our lifetime. Words spoken, actions taken, mistakes made by us and against us. If we stare into our mirror long enough, we can be certain to see something we don't like. For most of us, our mirrors are cracked. They don't reflect the truth about who we are and who we belong to.

We hear a lot about self-esteem and self-image these days. To often we spend untold amounts of money and time on improving our so-called image. We work hard to fix the outside when the blemishes we are really trying to cover are the ones on the inside. Focusing on our self-image can leave us empty or even shallow. I'm not saying we shouldn't be positive and work on improving ourselves. Not even close! But what I am suggesting is that we spend less time in the mirror and more time in The Word focusing on our God-image. That's right. We are made in God's image. In other words, parts of Him reside in us. If we'd take the time to know who He is and what He has to say about us, we'd feel less concerned about some old cracked mirror.

The funny thing is, when we embrace our God-image our self-image improves. Ladies, we are royalty, Princess Warriors, children of the most high God. We are worthy women of God. Listen to what He has to say about us:

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

Let's spend less time listening to lies and looking in the mirror, and more time looking to God for our worth. After all, our identity is found in Him.

God loves you. He treasures you. He has adopted you. You are created in His image to do great and marvelous things. Don't believe anything or anyone that tells you otherwise, even the mirror in your mind. Replace the the negative with God's truth and start reigning real right now!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Secret Sins Saturating Society

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. —Proverbs 28:13

The old cliche' "You're only as sick as your secrets," has more merit than you might believe.

You need only glance at the face of a child who is hiding something ... Scrunched features. Mumbling. No eye contact. Cocked head. Silly smile. They each have their own cues that inform us that they have a secret that needs sharing.

Just this evening, I was watching an evening television show with my daughter. It was absolutely fascinating. Ask me the name of the program and I won't be able to tell you. Sorry! Anyway, it was all about a group of seasoned law enforcement and military personnel whose jobs included using specialized interrogation techniques and getting a person to confess his or her crime.

They showcased taped interrogations and provided commentary while the conversations were taking place. For those who ended up confessing, their whole demeanor and body language shifted once the truth was out on the table. Suddenly, all their protective strategies were discarded and the tension left their bodies. They actually appeared to be relieved despite the fact that a life in prison, or, in one case, the death penalty were the rewards for their disclosures. Apparently, though, confessing their crimes provided relief from some of their guilt. I think we all know that pretending takes a lot of energy. It's stressful to keep a secret.

What led me to this challenging topic? The recent Internet stories about Tiger Woods and his alleged affairs. He has admitted to hurting his family with his actions. The truth is out now. Unfortunately, for his family, the whole world knows about his secrets.

The Bible explains in clear language that if we chose to conceal our transgressions we will not prosper. But, thankfully, for believers, we have something (Someone) the rest of the world doesn't -- complete forgiveness available through Christ Jesus.

We all fall short and sin. We all make mistakes. We've all kept secrets. God doesn't want us bound up by lies and secrecy. He wants us free to be all we can as His Princess Warriors. It's more than a little difficult to reign real when we're covering our faces in shame. Secrets cause shame. And I've discovered over the years, no matter how hard we try to keep something hidden it eventually gets found. After all, whatever goes on in the dark is eventually illuminated by the Light.

God is already well aware of our secret sins. We live in a society riddled with wounded women who are cowering away from confession, afraid to reveal their secret thoughts, actions, or words. I know when I was a young wild child, I used to get confused because I couldn't quite keep track of all my secrets. I considered myself a pretty adept liar. I know. Something to be proud of ... not even! Today, I've invited the Holy Spirit into my life and have asked that He shine the light of truth brightly on any secret sins I might be concealing. His conviction leads to confession, which leads to freedom.

Are you burdened by a secret sin? Is it time for you to turn to Jesus for forgiveness? I love the explanation of this process written by Dr. Robert Luginbill:

Cleansing from Sin: As believers, we have already been "washed" clean of our sins, that is, forgiven and pronounced holy by Christ's work when we accept that work by faith (Eph.2:5-9). But although we are clean and pure "in Christ" (1Cor.6:11), it is still possible for our feet to pick up a bit of dirt as we walk about in the devil's world. God has given us the status of "holy people", but we are still imperfect and still capable of sin.

We must therefore be alert to the fact that as long as we sojourn on this earth we shall always be vulnerable to personal sin, and we must be ready to confess it whenever we become entangled in the "sin which so easily besets us" (Heb.12:1). This is the point Jesus made when He washed the disciples' feet before the last supper (Jn.13:1-17).

Peter was unwilling to allow Jesus to wash his feet along with the other disciples. But when Jesus told him that without the washing of his feet, Peter could have "no share" in Him, Peter demanded that the Lord wash his body also. Jesus replied, "One who has had a bath needs only to have his feet washed, otherwise he is completely clean" (v.10). Our Lord was telling us that we are in need of only one release from the bondage of sin which has held all mankind under condemnation since Adam, and that this release or "redemption" was provided by His death in our place and appropriated by us through our faith in Him (Col.2:13-14).

This is the "bath" or cleansing from sin which has already been accomplished and need never be repeated. We do, however, continue to commit acts of personal sin as believers, and when we do, we are in need of "foot washing", that is, of the forgiveness and restoration which comes to us when we confess our sins to God. We need to be washed from sin only once. We need to cleansed of our sins as often as we commit them.

I hope this entry has prompted you to stay current on confession. God isn't here to interrogate us, but to love and forgive us. Why don't we let Him?