Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Post-Event Crash

Have you ever had this experience?

You go to a Christian event. Maybe it's a Bible study, a big weekend conference, a church service. You get all pumped up, feel so encouraged spiritually, your heart is stirred to serve the Lord, you see all your favorite friends...

Then you get home. And you CRASH. 

You're tired, feeling spiritually dead, and tragically you turn to any number of idols to give you comfort: food, video games, anger, porn, or just dark discouragement. "Dang it!" you think. "All that great stuff I learned, and now look at me. Not applying one word of it! Pathetic..."

This experience is far too common among Christians to just be a fluke. It's almost a guarantee that after you have a big spiritual high you face the temptation of a big spiritual crash. It happened to Elijah after Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18... he was in utter despair and felt alone. It even happened to Jesus after his baptism... He faced 40 days in the wilderness tempted by Satan, in Luke 4.

Here are three practical suggestions for how to turn to the Lord and beat the post-event crash:

  1. Anticipate the Crash: Recognize and anticipate that you WILL crash after the event, so don't be surprised by it. Consider the story of Jesus in Luke 4, Satan attacked him at His weakest state. Expect it. Plan for the temptation. Text your friends for accountability. Set up safe-guards. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that we are not ignorant of Satan's schemes.
  2. Remember the Gospel: When you're crashing, you're coming off of a high that you couldn't sustain. You start to feel the distance between your actions and what you were just learning about. Normal life starts to set in. You have laundry. And those unfinished dishes you left. So what you had felt at the event (excitement, "yeah I can do this!") has now turned into discouragement ("I'll never be able to do this...") And just there, you've forgotten the gospel. See, here's the great news! It's not up to you. Yes you're a hypocrite, yes you're a failure, but Christ came into the world to save sinners, hypocrites, and failures. Come to Jesus, look to His forgiving wounds, cling to His cross, and receive the new life that He gives by GRACE. 
  3. Keep Fighting: As you remember the joy-filled gospel of God's grace, you will become motivated and hopeful. "God can change me!" So get some sleep, write down some of your applications from the event, and then get up tomorrow morning ready to fight for God's glory. Whatever God was stirring in your heart... DO IT.

May God strengthen you and be your comfort, in the darkest of times.
The Relentless Fight

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Don't Conceal... Confess and Forsake

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

So simple. Only 17 words in English. And yet here we have a weight of truth; here we have freedom held out. These words are priceless.

We tend to think that if nobody knows about our secret sins, then we can handle it. We can make it. Basically, we think we'll prosper. But what does Proverbs 28:13 say? We won't. When our hidden sins are covered up and hushed up we think we're getting away with it. But these sins are killing us inside. Imagine the distance relationally between you and a friend, when you're interrupted by her phone call during a binge. "Hey, just wanted to call to see how you're doing" and you choose to answer "oh fine...." You are hiding! You are in the darkness, because of the terror that you have of others discovering your sin. You can't let anyone know. It would ruin you...

But there is hope. The second half of this verse provides amazing promise for those who would believe it. This verse says don't conceal... but instead confess and forsake. Let's unpack those:

  • Confess: Admit that you are wrong! Agree with God's assessment: this is sin. Be honest with others about the reality and depth of your sin. Speak clearly, don't soften the language.
  • Forsake: Turn away from your beloved sin. Don't embrace it any longer, but cast it away as the poison that it is. Don't hold on to it. Run! Betray your idol!

And what is the result that Scripture promises if we would confess and forsake? We will obtain mercy. Mercy! Oh, all of our fears are blown away! We thought that if we would confess our sins that we would be shamed and hated. We thought that if we would forsake our sins that the LIFE they were giving us would be cut off and we would shrivel up. But no! We obtain mercy, acceptance, and new life. We prosper

How is this possible? How can we obtain mercy and life when justice would demand our punishment and death? The answer: The unjust death of Christ. 

At the cross, our sins (known and hidden) were placed on Him, and He bore the penalty for all of our transgression. Therefore, when we confess our sins, we are not fearful that God will punish us. We have confidence that He has ALREADY punished Christ! There is no wrath left, only LOVE. And that is what motivates us to confess and forsake our sins. We confess them to the God who has already forgiven, and we forsake them so that we might run to His loving arms. 

Confessing and forsaking,
The Relentless Fight