Sunday, April 13, 2008

Life Beyond Regret: Part 2

[Number twenty in a series]

I am continuing to look at Chapter 8 ("Life Beyond Regret: The Practice of Confession") of John Ortberg's The Life You've Always Wanted. The study questions are from the back of the book, and were written by Kevin G. Harney.

The book is about spiritual disciplines. The most important thing I have gotten from the book about spiritual disciplines in general is that we should not do them just so we can check them off a list. They are not a barometer of spirituality or a way to earn favor with God. They are a way to enable the transformation God wants to make in your life.

Group Prayer Direction


James 5:16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
Spend time offering prayers of confession. It is important that group members understand that all that is communicated in a small group (including in prayer) is confidential

Living the Life

Identify where you might need to confess sin in each of the following areas using the seven deadly sins as a guideline or tool to help you.

Area of Sin:Confession:

Personal Reflection

Read this story:
Clifton Fadiman tells a wonderful story about Charles Steinmetz, a genius of an electrical engineer for General Electric in the early part of the twentieth century. On one occasion after his retirement, when the other engineers around GE were baffled by the breakdown of a complex of machines, they finally asked Steinmetz to comeback to see if he could pinpoint the problem. Steinmetz spent several minutes walking around the machines, then took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and made a cross mark on one particular piece of one particular machine.

To their amazement, when the engineers disassembled that part of that machine, it turned out to be the precise location of the breakdown.

A few days later, the engineers received a bill from Steinmetz for $lO,OOO -- a staggering sum in those days. This seemed exorbitant, so rhey returned it to him with a request that he itemize it. After a few more days they received a second, itemized bill:
Making one cross mark: $1.00
Knowing where to put it: $9,999.00
Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to examine your life. Where does the Holy Spirit want to put an X on your life today to show where there needs to be confession and repentant action?

Additional Small-Group Questions

1. Why is it so critical for us to seek the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit as we grow in our understanding of confession?

2. What possible extremes might we face if we confess on our own without the leading of the Holy Spirit?

3. Read Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love!
Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts!
Wash away my wrongdoing!
Cleanse me of my sin!
For I am aware of my rebellious acts;
I am forever conscious of my sin.
Against you – you above all – I have sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
So you are just when you confront me;
you are right when you condemn me.
Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,
a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
Look, you desire integrity in the inner man;
you want me to possess wisdom.
Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones you crushed rejoice!
Hide your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!
Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a resolute spirit within me!
Do not reject me!
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me!
Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!
Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways,
and sinners will turn to you.
Rescue me from the guilt of murder, O God, the God who delivers me!
Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance.
O Lord, give me the words!
Then my mouth will praise you.
you do not want a sacrifice, or else I would offer it;
you do not desire a burnt sacrifice.
The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit –
O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.
Because you favor Zion, do what is good for her!
Fortify the walls of Jerusalem!
Then you will
accept the proper sacrifices, burnt sacrifices and whole offerings;
then bulls will be sacrificed on your altar.
What do you learn about the heart of true confession from David's prayer?

4. Restitution is the process of making things right with the person you have sinned against. If someone has stolen, they give back what they took. If someone has lied, they tell the truth . . . even if it hurts. Why is restitution essential for the confession and healing process to be complete?

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly