Posted by: pamrichardswatts | October 12, 2015

Test of Friendship

Test of Friendship

Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. I Peter 4:8 (The Voice)

Living with teenagers is a lot like living in a Friends episode. Lots of plot twists, plenty of drama . . . and some comedies of error that aren’t always so funny.

Report cards came home last week, and I am very proud of my children’s academic successes. After all, the middle school course load is heavy one.

However, I’m just as interested in tests that won’t be reflected on the transcript. Growing up—and the life lessons that come with it—makes for some challenging curriculum.

Of all the things kids must learn about in junior high, relationships may be the toughest subject of all. Friendship in particular poses some hard questions: “How do I cope with disappointment, failure and hurt? How do I get back up after a friend has let me down?”

This fall our family syllabus has been full of such moments:

She didn’t show. He didn’t apologize. The friend who always had my back left me exposed to evil and evil-doers.

Nothing hurts a school kid worse than having a friend throw you under the bus. Nothing hurts a parent worse than watching it happen.

And nothing is more challenging than finding the best solution. Inevitably my children’s trials mean a pop quiz for me. What is the right answer? Do I:

  1. Ignore it;
  2. Try to fix it; or
  3. Disciple my children through it.

I can do nothing . . .  I can try to do everything . . . or I can make the most of a teachable moment. And that is when we all learn something new. Goodness knows I could always use some continuing ed. on the subject.

The upside of failure is that it sends us back to the classroom for Divine instruction. Wouldn’t you know, God’s textbook has a lot to say about friendship. Like how to exhibit forgiveness, grace and mercy. How to reconcile with a broken world . . . and how to be reconcilers in it.

The fact is, sooner or later, we’re all going to bomb the friendship test. We forget to call. Fail to apologize. Say the wrong thing for the right reason. Because any equation that starts with two imperfect people is bound to contain some errors. And even the best of friends can face the worst of times.

Lucky for us, we can get remedial help any time we need it. As disciples of Christ, we are lovingly schooled in the art of relationship. Jesus came to teach friendship . . . by becoming our best friend.

My commandment to you is this: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don’t call you servants any longer . . . I call you friends. John 15: 12-15 (The Voice)

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 30, 2015

Pray Without Pressure


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Some call it “pressure of speech.”

My family calls it “verbal diarrhea.” An inelegant but accurate description. When time is short and words are many, communication can get messy.

The TV comedy Last Man Standing pokes fun at this affliction at the expense of one of its principals. Mandy Baxter, amateur clothing designer and devout fashion groupie, is beside herself with anticipation at the arrival of celebrity style guru Kim Kardashian.

Mandy has waited all day for an audience with her idol. She makes certain she is first in line. After all, there are things she has to say, one designer to another. Things Ms. Kardashian needs to hear. And she only has a few privileged moments to share them.

By the time Kim arrives, Mandy can no longer control her excitement. The result is the verbal equivalent of a newborn baby diaper blow-out— unbelievable, uncontrollable mess.

Poor Mandy gets carried away by her own hysteria . . . and event security. The scene ends with Mandy declaring her love and devotion even as she is dragged from the room.

But I can only laugh with Mandy, not at her. I’ve had a few blow-outs of my own.

It’s the moment I’ve been hoping for—an audience with someone I admire. I have much to say and very little time to say it. Better make it good.

But sometimes the pressure to speak is just too much. My heart cramps, my brain spasms, I can’t hold back any longer and then . . . blech. Right at the feet of my favorite. I leave feeling sheepish and sick to my stomach. What I wouldn’t give for a chance to go back and clean up the mess.

For a words girl, there is nothing worse than sounding like a babbling idiot.

That’s my problem with unceasing prayer. As much as I want constant communication with God, I can’t stomach the thought of coming across like a “fool with many words.”

Still, I believe in the power of prayer. And I’ve spent weeks years fretting about many things. Perhaps unceasing prayer could be the antidote for chronic anxiety. So when a specific worry came to mind recently, I recognized my moment—a prime opportunity to turn a problem into a prayer request.

I stopped in my tracks, turned my focus heavenward, and blurted the first words I could think of. Afterwards, I felt . . . foolish. What was I thinking, taking up God’s time with something so trivial? Surely there were much more important subjects for us to cover. Back of the line, Pam . . . you blew it.

The problem though, was not with timing or delivery, but perception. I was treating God like a celebrity . . . and myself like a groupie with a onetime backstage pass. I felt pressured to get it right.

But prayer—particularly the “unceasing kind”—is meant to be a blessing, not a burden. Charles Spurgeon explains that the very words “without ceasing” convey privilege. “There is no time when we may not pray.” Children of the king have unlimited access to the king. Spurgeon contrasts such contact to the days when only a lucky few were permitted audience with the ruling monarch.

Like many celebrities today, kings only held court on certain appointed days. No one could approach the king unless he sent for them. And failure to produce the right credentials was punishable by death. Anyone attempting to pull a “Mandy Baxter” at the throne of King Xerxes would have been carried away alright . . . in a body bag.

Spurgeon explains, “Among the Persians there were some few of the nobility who had the peculiar and special right of an audience with the king at any time they chose. Now, that which was the peculiar right of a very few and of the very great is the privilege of every child of God. He may come in unto the King at all times.

Spurgeon concludes with these thoughts: “’Pray without ceasing,’” is, if I read it aright, a most sweet and precious permit to the believer to pour out his heart at all times before the Lord.”

We can say anything—anytime, anywhere, any way. No pressure. Just prayer.

Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. Hebrews 19:20 (GW)

So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need. Hebrews 4:16 (TLB)

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Pray Without Ceasing, a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 25, 2015

Calling Out God’s Character

names of God

It was completely out of character.

Surely my husband would never talk to me that way. Or treat me like that. Stunned and devastated, I couldn’t even recognize the man beside me, let alone communicate with him.

It was a tearful, emotional night, but eventually we managed to work through it.

However, I could seem to not get past it. Months went by as I struggled to “forgive and forget,” still smarting from a wound that refused to heal. At last I figured out I could not release the hurt until I revealed it. Clearly I was going to have to say something. Otherwise that same injury could potentially cripple my marriage.

After plenty of deep conversation with God and my counselor, I found both the words and the courage to tell a wonderful man he had behaved very badly. My therapist offered this sound advice: “Wrap the negative in a positive. Acknowledge the best in him before you point out the worst.”

It made all the difference.

Before I said anything else, I declared what I knew to be true: my husband was an honorable man. Brent had made a point to treat me with respect from the moment we met. (It’s one of the reasons I began dating him in the first place!) He has remained a man of honor and integrity ever since. One careless act could not change who he is.

A profoundly intimate exchange takes place when we “call out the character” of those we love.  When we feel distant and divided from others, perhaps it’s because we are too focused on what they do—and have forgotten who they are. However, we can deepen our understanding and our appreciation once we declare the truth of their nature.

The same is true of our relationship with God.

If we seek meaningful connection with Him, we begin by calling out his character. When Jesus instructs “this then is how you should pray” (Matthew 6:9), Step One is a thorough identification of God. “Father. In heaven. Your name is holy.” The ACTS prayer model (Adoration-Confession-Thanksgiving-Supplication) follows this same order. Before we tell God what we’ve done and what we need, we first proclaim who He is.

The best part is . . . God never acts out of character.

God cannot be false to himself because he is truth (John 17:3).

God can never go back on his word because he is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9).

God will never change because he is unchanging (Psalm 100:5, Malachi 3:6a).

Something profound happens when we call out the character of the God we love. We achieve greater intimacy with God as we affirm the nature of God. As we declare all that is true about him, we recognize there is nothing we cannot say—nothing we cannot ask—nothing we cannot believe.

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)


Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 22, 2015

Why I Hate Prayer Requests (But Love Prayer)

The Trouble with

It never failed. Every Bible study or women’s ministry gathering would reach “that time.” A moment I looked forward to with a peculiar mixture of longing and dread.

“Does anyone have any prayer requests?”

“Prayer request time” usually went something like this: one by one we’d go around the circle, recounting specific challenges we needed covered in prayer. Most requests evolved into full-blown reports, detailing the particulars of each problem.

As the minutes flew by, I stopped listening to people and started watching the clock. The sister beside me was openly sharing her needs while inwardly I was crunching the numbers:

Five minutes per woman x six women = we are going to run out of time.

It didn’t help my sense of urgency if we were on the Triple Golden Overtime of free childcare—that sacred space of uninterrupted Christian fellowship for harried moms. We had to wrap up on the hour; else the nursery workers were sure to have some pretty urgent requests of their own.

Inevitably, each prayer session ended the same way. With just a few minutes left, the group leader would bring things to a close. “We’re almost out of time, so let’s pray real quick.”

Real quick?

Hello! Wasn’t prayer the point? What would happen if we spent less time talking about our concerns and more time praying about them?

It wasn’t until I joined a focused prayer ministry that I got an answer.

I had accepted an invitation from a group of ladies to pray for our students and schools. (With four children on three public school campuses, I was certain to have plenty of prayer requests!) Once a week I gathered with my fellow prayer partners to devote sixty minutes to prayer.

One hour. No requests. Just prayer.

Once I tapped into the power of such anointed conversation, I began to see answers to prayer like never before. Each single hour accomplished what countless prayer request sessions had somehow failed to do. When our time was up, we rose and went forward with the peace, comfort and resolution we needed. No need to count the minutes once you start counting on God’s provision.

Something miraculous happens “when two or more are gathered in His name.” Not only do we speak to GodHe speaks through us. We don’t have to provide a twenty-minute rundown on Jimmy’s troubles at school or dear husband’s career struggles or our most recent parental failure. No need to guarantee through our “many words” that we are heard and understood. All that is required are hearts open before God, ready to confess our weakness and claim his truth.

Don’t get me wrong—I still exchange prayer requests. And I depend on the wisdom and encouragement I get from heartfelt gab-sessions with my dearest friends.

But corporate prayer remains the single most important conversation of my week—and certainly the most time-efficient. Together, my prayer partners and I can cover more ground in five minutes of focused prayer than in five hours of girl talk.

Because that’s what happens when God moderates the discussion. And he uses his time well.

Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants. Romans 8:26-27 (NCV)

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 18, 2015

Casting My (List of) Burdens on the Lord

Psalm 55.22

It was one of those weeks. Weighed down with worry, I was so tired and discouraged I could hardly move. It was all I could do to drag myself from one day to the next. Finally I decided to list all my concerns on paper. I hoped if I wrote them down, perhaps I could put them down.

I almost ran out of paper.

My “list of burdens” covered everything from the significant to the superficial. I worried about my friend battling cancer; I fretted over bad hair days. And in between was everything else: health, family, money, schedules.

My heavy load lightened the minute I put down the pen.

But soon enough, that list just grew right back. Theme with variations. “Should I call the doctor about Elizabeth’s swollen eyelid? Is Katherine enjoying her history trip? How many more miles can I expect from my ten-year-old car?” And the annual summer-is-almost-upon-us question: “What will I do with my kids for three months?”

Every day brought fresh troubles of its own; instinctively I shouldered each new burden. Before long I was right back where I started—tired, discouraged and hardly able to move.

If I really want to get rid of my burdens, I can’t just list them.

I must cast them.

And that takes a lot more effort than just a pen-and-paper exercise.

The psalmist instructs us to “cast [our] burdens on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22), in much the same way fishermen cast their nets into the water (Matthew 4:18). The Old Testament word comes from the Hebrew shalak, which means “to throw out, hurl or fling.”  Matthew uses a similar term when describing the actions of fishermen and future disciples Simon and Andrew: the Greek word ballō, meaning “to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls.”

Picture these fishermen throwing their nets into the water, all day, every day. The nets would have been water-soaked and heavy. Sometimes they came back empty. It must have been tiring, even discouraging. But still they “threw without care.” Without worry.

These guys are my heroes.

After all, fishermen trusted their livelihood to something with no guarantees other than a lot of hard work.  It took tremendous strength and faith to keep going. Perseverance through uncertainty is an important trait for fishermen.

It is also essential for followers of Christ.

These days, it seems our nets are never empty. Every day they fill up with more questions, challenges, hurts and disappointments. The weight can wear us out. They become so big and bulky we don’t have the energy to lift them, much less fling them.

But disciples of Christ can be heroes, too.

We can take that last ounce of strength and faith and cast our burdens, trusting that God will take care of them. As Matthew Henry explains, “to cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good. If we do so . . . he will sustain us, both support and supply us, will himself carry us in the arms of his power.”[i]

I don’t want to document my worries, but destroy them. Instead of filing them my way, I’ll fling them God’s way. I, too, will “throw without care,” assured I will draw back his promises and power.

I’m ready for a netful of blessings. How about you?

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22 (Amplified Bible)

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Bible, emphasis added mine)

[i] Henry, Matthew, Commentary on Psalms 55. Blue Letter Bible, 2009.

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 15, 2015

Why Two (or More) Are Better Than One

praying hands

When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. Matthew 18:20 (The Message)

part·ner \ˈpärt-nər
1. One who shares an activity
2. One who takes part in a joint undertaking with shared risks and profits
3. Someone with whom one shares an intimate relationship

When you think of a “prayer partner,” what comes to mind?

friendsI picture seven remarkable women, friends who have been my lifelines through life’s storms. We are bound together by our faith in Jesus Christ, our love for each other—and our confidence in the power of prayer. I don’t think twice before punching in their names at the top of every prayer request text or email. When I head to the throne, these are the first people I ask to come with me.

These women are my prayer partners in every sense of the word. We pray consistently for and with each other. We have endured what seems like “every season and purpose under heaven”—and we have done so on our knees. Prayer continually defines and deepens our commitment to each other.

Something remarkable happens when we pray in partnership. Shared prayer brings us closer to God and to each other. The Bible assures us that praying together:

• Builds trust, honesty and more meaningful relationships (I Thesssalonians 5:11);
• Lightens burdens (James 5:16);
• Dispels doubt (Matthew 18:19);
• Gives us courage to ask for more (Hebrews 4:16); and
• Positions us for victory (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

If we are to undertake the Christian life successfully, we must have prayer partners to share the risks and celebrate the dividends.

Life without friends would be miserable.
But life without prayer partners . . . would be unimaginable.

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a [woman] falls when [she] is alone, [she’s] in trouble . . . one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (TLB)

Coming soon: Creating Prayer Partnerships

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | September 4, 2015

ABCs of Volunteer Networking

networkIt’s a sad but common cry in the volunteer world: “I put my name down to help—but no one ever called me.”

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? All you want to do is serve at your child’s school—and the next thing you know you’re back in junior high, parked against the wall, waiting in the hope someone will ask you to dance. Meanwhile everyone else is having a great time as they whirl around the room.

Volunteer organizations would seem to be the last great clique for grownups. The same people are tapped for responsibility over and over again, while newcomers are passed over for service.

The reality is community volunteerism relies on social networking—and networking is crucial for volunteers.  It is always easier to ask for help from people we knowand the best-known people are those who help. And so the cycle continues:

I know you—I invite you to help—you show up to help—more people get to know you—you are asked to help again.

While this works beautifully for some, such efficiency looks like exclusivity to those outside the system.

Jeff Goins, viral blogger and author of The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Really Succeed, voices his frustration with this “closed loop” network:

For years, I heard people talk about their influential friendships and subsequent success. And I silently seethed with envy. It just seemed unfair. Of course those people were successful. They knew the right people. They were in the right place at the right time. They got lucky.

Goins then offers this encouragement: every newcomer can find a seat at the table and network their way to success, provided they are willing to work for it. After all, you can’t be a wallflower if you refuse to hug the wall.

If you can answer these questions, it won’t be long before your volunteer dance card is full:

WHO? First, you need to identify your gatekeepers, those whom Goins describes as holding “the keys to the kingdom.”  In volunteer organizations, these are usually officers (e.g., the PTA President), committee chairs or paid staff such as the school secretary. They can tell you what—and who—you need to know to get connected. Goins advises being “strategic in reaching out and tenacious in staying in touch.”

WHAT do you want to do? It’s been said “our call lies at the intersection of our passion and the world’s need.” What are you passionate about? There is nothing more rewarding than serving a cause we believe in. I’ve discovered I will work far above my pay grade and outside my comfort zone (and increase my networking opportunities) for issues that really matter to me.

WHERE can you make a difference? Your best bet is to join the efforts of programs already in progress. Your gatekeeper can help you find that crossroad of your interest and organization needs.

No doubt, you have some wonderful ideas about things you’d like to see improved. However, to create opportunity you must earn credibility—something you achieve by first helping others in their work.

WHEN? Familiarize yourself with the organization’s calendar of meetings and events. The accountability of most nonprofits (such as school boards and PTAs) requires that at least some meetings are open to the public. You don’t need an engraved invitation to attend—you just need to know where and when to be there.

Finally, HOW do you build a successful network? Help as many people in the network as possible.

Goins advocates, “Serve your way into relationships. This is crucial. It’s not just who you know, it’s who you help. People remember what you do for them more than [anything else].”

In order to serve effectively, you must be willing to:

  1. SHOW UP. It may easier than ever to network through the ‘net—but real connection happens in the real world. Sooner or later, we need to get out from behind our computers and go where the people are.
  2. STEP UP. Make yourself useful. If there’s no other task at hand, grab a broom. (Sometimes the most humble services are also the most memorable.) And at least once, be brave enough to tackle that tough job nobody wants. (Without a doubt, the most significant connections I ever made came about because I was willing to do something no one else would.)
  3. SPEAK UP. Make an effort to let others get to know you. Share your interests, passions and strengths. When others find you willing and able, they will ask you to participate more often.

Goins concludes with this challenge:

Will you embrace the power of networks and put yourself in the right place with the right people? Or will you keep thinking those people are just lucky? The fact is luck comes to us all. But those who prepare to leverage it are the ones who succeed.

I believe every story of success is a story of community. And the way you’re going to find your path is by walking alongside others on theirs. So what are you waiting for?

Are you ready? Let’s get our dancing shoes on!

Related resource: What to Do When You Feel Left Out, Unlucky, or Just Plain Ignored

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | August 19, 2015

A Little Social Media on the Prairie


Long before Laura Ingalls Wilder’s words made her famous, they almost got her in a lot of trouble.

As a schoolgirl, Laura wrote a limerick so she and her besties could enjoy a laugh at the teacher’s expense. It was meant to stay just between friends—until a classmate snatched up her chalkboard and passed it around a crowd of loud-mouthed boys.

Laura could wipe the slate clean—literally—but she couldn’t stop her catchy phrases from spreading all over town. What began as a harmless prank backfired and blew up in her face. Laura was called into account both at school and at home—which tends to happen when one’s father is also on the school board.

As for the schoolteacher, so much bad press sent her packing in defeat, and that is the last we hear of her . . . until Laura marries her younger brother. (That must have made for some interesting family reunions, don’t you think?)

Meanwhile, Laura learned a powerful lesson about the power of the written word. It made such an impression she posted the entire story in one of her Little House books. As one who experienced “words gone viral,” I wonder what Laura would make of social media today. I suspect she would share the same advice her mother gave her:

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: To whom you speak, of whom you speak, And how and when and where.”

Personally, I love social media. Facebook is my version of the general store—the place to hear the news and hang out with friends.

Social media also allows me to speak whenever and wherever I please. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, my soapbox is as close as my phone. I can free my mind as fast as I can type. And a ready audience is just a click away.

So much accessibility does nothing to curb my impulsivity, though. When it comes to tweeting, posting and texting, I am not as careful as I should be. Sure, I try to avoid the big blunders—like choosing the wrong contact name or hitting “reply all” when I meant “reply.” But am I “observing with care” the things that lead to wisdom?

That’s why I’ve decided to take a closer look at biblical principles for good communication.  In upcoming posts, we will seek God’s wisdom as it applies to who, what, when, where and how we speak.  Let’s take care that all our words—on and offline—“communicate grace to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).

Guard my mouth, O Eternal One; control what I say. Keep a careful watch on every word I speak. Psalm 141:3 (The Voice)

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | August 7, 2015

Confession: God Wants All of Me

Just as I am

Are you familiar with the A.C.T.S. prayer?

“A.C.T.S.” is an easy way to remember key elements of prayer. It is simply prayer in four parts:

  • Adoration: praise and glorify God for his nature and character.
  • Confession: admit to God where we have fallen short.
  • Thanksgiving: express gratitude for what God is going in our lives.
  • Supplication: make our requests known to God.

I love the A.C.T.S. prayer. In it I find a beautiful call and response that celebrates all that God is and all that God does, in contrast with all that we are and all that we need.

I’m a big believer in the power of prayer—but I admit I’ve struggled with confession. For years I used my “time of confession” to tick off the fault-of-the-day:

I’m sorry I snapped at my kids.

I’m sorry I envied my friend her luxury vacation when we had to stay home.

I’m sorry I forgot to call my parents. Again.

But I have to “confess”—this habit really didn’t do much for me.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the past six years involved in a weekly prayer ministry that follows the A.C.T.S. model. This practice has not only grown my prayer life, but deepened my understanding of confession. Over time I have come to recognize that confession in not just a recitation of daily blunders, but an acknowledgement of chronic brokenness:

When I am quick-tempered, often it’s because I am worried about something and don’t know how to handle it.

I confess my fears and anxieties. I confess the pride that stubbornly insists on fixing it my way.

If I’m jealous because someone else has something I want, I need to address my doubt and discontent. Envy is a sure sign that I am disregarding what God has done in the past—and what He promises to do in the future.

I confess my ingratitude and mistrust.

If I forget to call my parents, it’s (usually) because I’m distracted by my own priorities and have neglected to “look to the interests of others as well as my own.”

I confess my self-centeredness and insensitivity.

In other words, it is during confession that I bring to God not just all that I do—but all that I am.

It is through confession I find not just forgiveness, but understanding and acceptance.

It is from confession that I move ahead with complete assurance that my God loves me, warts and all.

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. I John 1:8-9 (The Message)

I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent. Luke 5:32 (NLT)

Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me. John 6:37 (GW)

Posted by: pamrichardswatts | August 3, 2015

The Cost of Credit Card Confession


“You can pay now or you can pay later—but later is more expensive.”

I am an expert at putting off things I hate to do. Topping that list these days? Trips to the county tax assessor’s office. Every new-to-us car means the same thing: a long drive to wait in long lines only to learn I’ve messed up my paperwork—and have to come back and do it all over again.

Earlier this year we made an unexpected car purchase—and ran into an unanticipated paperwork snafu. We kept finding new errors. Embarrassed and fearful, I tried to postpone the inevitable. Meanwhile, my dread only increased as the weeks went by.

Finally–only because I didn’t want to pay for a ticket for an unregistered vehicle—I resolved to take care of it. I presented myself before the county clerk and confessed, “I’m sorry this took me so long. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did. Now I’m here to make it right.”

And so I did—to the tune of $150 in additional fines and penalties.

Confession is just as easy to put off. After all, admitting we failed is scary and embarrassing. It’s tempting to make excuses like, “I’m waiting for the right time.” Meanwhile, the cost of unconfessed sin keeps accruing. Then the “day of reckoning” arrives—and sends us into sticker shock.

But we were not created for debt. Thankfully, God has a plan for credit recovery:

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them. Romans 4:7-8 (The Voice)

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