Thursday, November 30, 2006

Microsoft Vista: Who Needs a New Operating System?

Today Microsoft, located here in my hometown of Redmond, is making a lot of noise over the release of their new and long awaited operating system, Vista. To highlight the release CEO Steve Ballmer rang the bell this morning at the New York Stock Exchange.

Many of you are no doubt reading this post on a computer that is using the Microsoft XP operating system. Will you upgrade to Vista? Why should you? That is the question that is worth millions of dollars to Microsoft.

One analyst commented, “[Microsoft’s] biggest competition is getting customers to upgrade, when many of them are comfortable with what they have.”

Microsoft is counting on turning heads with splashy graphics, such as 3-D icons and folders with transparent “glass effects”. The other enhanced features being touted are ease of use and security. With today’s mobility and the increased use of laptops companies are needing dependable encryption so that industry secrets remain secret, and they need powerful deterrents to worms, viruses, spam and phishing.

Microsoft’s challenge to get current XP users to upgrade to Vista is similar to the challenge many churches face. One of the greatest hindrances to seekers or believers more completely connecting their lives to God is a general satisfaction with where their life is now.

In America we have so much who needs more of God? Got stress? Take a pill. Got questions? Hire a consultant. Got problems? Find a counselor. In the thinking of many God is a nice option if you want religion.

No, God is not a nice option nor is He something that you can add on to your life to enhance it. God IS the operating system! You install God into your life by placing your faith in Jesus Christ and it changes how all of your life works. Yes you’ll experience God as grace for trouble and guidance when you need direction and comfort when you experience loss. But these “functions” of God are not God.

The Bible compares God to a hidden treasure that a man finds in a field. The man is so taken with the treasure that he hides it back where he found it, and then he goes and liquidates all of his assets so that he can purchase the field where the buried treasure lies. Until you begin to get a glimpse of God’s greatness and magnificence, you’ll be satisfied with occasionally going to church on Sundays or saying a prayer in time of need. There will be no motivation to “upgrade” to a deeper, more penetrating and profound relationship with the Almighty Creator of the universe and Lover of your soul.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yoko Ono Proposes Forgiveness Day

Yoko Ono, widow of the late John Lennon, is declaring December 8, the anniversary of Lennon’s death, as a global day of forgiveness. “Every year let’s make December 8 the day to ask forgiveness from those who suffered the unsufferable,” wrote Ono in a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times. Ono asked for forgiveness from “people who lost loved ones without cause” and from “soldiers of all countries.”

Ono also wrote that she didn’t know if she could forgive Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon.

Truly forgiveness is one of the most powerful things that people can do. I’m an advocate for forgiving those who have wronged us and I recommend that we seek forgiveness of those we have wronged. Withholding forgiveness is one of the worst things that people can do. “Unforgiveness” is a prison. We are the only people hurt when we choose not to forgive others. Giving forgiveness is liberating.

However well intentioned Yoko Ono is I don’t think that her call for forgiveness will be very far reaching. I am a fan of the Beatles and I was deeply saddened when Lennon was killed. But John Lennon’s death is not the inspiration that can bring widespread forgiveness. Lennon’s death can’t even inspire his widow to forgive her husband’s killer.

There is a Person and there is a power that can inspire forgiveness and that is the life and death of Jesus Christ. In fact, one of the ways that you know that someone really is a Christian is that they have received power from Christ in order to forgive others.

Jesus told His followers, “I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” (Matthew 5:44,46, NLT)

I know Christians who have received grace from Christ to forgive those who have raped them, betrayed and stole from them or killed their loved one. This is not excusing some annoyance but gut wrenching forgiveness for deeply painful losses and wounds.
Receiving the power to forgive others is reason enough to follow Jesus Christ. The act of forgiveness is enough to change your life. The Good News is that there is infinitely more blessing in knowing and living with Christ.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Brett Favre: A Picture of Following Christ

Brett Favre is the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Being a NFL starting quarterback is pretty rare. Out of all the athletes in the world there are only 32 men this week that can make that claim. What’s even more rare is that Favre has been a starting NFL quarterback since September 27, 1992. He has started a record 231 games across 14 years. He has to be THE most durable NFL player ever!

Don’t forget, every time he puts on a helmet and begins a game, 300 pound men on the other team make their living by hitting, tackling and burying Favre. They take their work very seriously and they are very good at what they do.

Favre was hit so hard in a game in 1992 that he suffered a separated shoulder. Yet he came back the next week and threw two touchdowns and won the game. In 1995 he sprained his ankle so badly that he was on crutches for a week. However, when the game started on Sunday he not only suited up but he passed for five touchdowns! In 1999 Favre’s right hand was so swollen he kept holding a football while on the sidelines of a game so that he wouldn’t lose the capacity to hold and throw the football when the offense took the field.

Last Sunday Favre was knocked out of a game against New England when his right elbow was hit while being tackled. He would have played through the pain but he didn’t have any. He didn’t have any feeling at all. His hand and fingers went so numb he couldn’t hold the ball.

This Monday the Packers are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks. Officially Favre is listed as “questionable” as to whether he will start or play in the game. Seahawk coach Mike Holmgren, who used to coach Favre in Green Bay, is betting that Favre will be on the field competing.

I don’t know if Brett Favre is a Christian or not so don’t misunderstand me when I say he is a picture of following Christ. I’m not speaking about his faith or even his behavior. I’m referring to his capacity to persevere.

Maybe the words “perseverance” and “Christian” seem odd to you. After all many who claim to be Christian don’t seem to have much staying power when it comes to loving “hard to love” people or forgiving those who hurt them or sacrificially giving to meet the needs of others. Many that I know can’t even make themselves get out of bed on Sunday morning to worship who they say they believe to be the Ruler of the Universe!

But don’t let those examples fool you. The most dedicated, tenacious, gutsy people I’ve ever known are Christians. They follow Christ through life’s hardest scenarios and count it a privilege to suffer pain or losses if it honors Christ and helps others. Many around the world have endured horrific treatment and torture and some have witnessed loved ones killed before their eyes, as their tormentors demanded that they renounce their faith in Christ or else.

Jesus said, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne…” (Revelation 3:21, NIV).

Brett Favre can claim credit for persevering in football. However, Christians can’t claim credit for their perseverance. The only way they do persevere is because of God’s power and grace at work in their lives. In fact, perseverance is a sign that they in fact do have a saving faith.

If you think that you’ve never seen the kind of “faith-full”, courageous and generous Christ follower that I’m describing then it just may be that you live in America. They are becoming a bit more rare in the United States. Still, I know and do life with hundreds of them.
Before you make a final decision on whether you would give your one and only life in following Christ, I would encourage you to get to know an authentic, persevering Christian. Their lives will inspire you, but what’s more, their lives will give you a powerful reflection of the Person of Christ.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AWOL & the Condition of the Heart

Tuesday's edition of the Wall Street Journal published a story about AWOL (alcohol without liquid). A company has developed the technology to vaporize liquor, allowing it to be inhaled rather than drunk.

One web site advertised the product this way, “Get drunk—but without actually drinking! And you don’t even have to worry about a hangover in the morning…You can take in ridiculous amounts of alcohol and still be able to bound out of bed the next day…With only a few milliliters you can create enough vapor to get yourself properly hammered.”

The company spent a good bit of money on the research and development and didn’t really have any money for marketing their product. It probably would have gone away because of a lack of awareness by the public and therefore no market.

However, a Kentucky legislator’s effort to ban the device used to inhale AWOL broke into the media. Suddenly, newspapers around the country carried warnings that the device might induce extraordinary mind-altering effects. NBC’s “Today Show” broadcast a segment on AWOL and more publicity was created by the news than could ever been purchased by the fledgling company.

Very quickly over 1,000 units were sold at about $299 each!

Why? Why would media stories about the dangers of AWOL and a legislator’s efforts to prevent broken lives, broken homes and broken communities have a reverse effect and create a market that didn’t exist? Because, our hearts are desperately depraved.

Psalm 51:5 informs us, “I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.” (Today’s English Version)

What this means it that every person that has been born into this world has a nature inclined toward broken ways. That precious baby that looks so innocent has a nature that will someday lie or cheat or hurt someone without being taught to do so. Thus, when reporters, legislators, government or religious leaders say, “We shouldn’t” about anything, that very thing can become enticing to us. It is the “forbidden fruit” syndrome.

Reflect with me for a moment about why God would ever say to humanity, “Thou shall not.” Is God a control freak? Is God anxious when humans won’t obey and follow orders? Is God some kind of fatigued parent that is being annoyed by our behavior so that He creates rules to get us “out of His hair?”

God is the perfect embodiment of peace and serenity. If God commands us not to be drunk or promiscuous or greedy or jealous, it is because He loves us and wants to protect us from the pain that comes from wounding ourselves with foolish behaviors.

Let’s give thanks to God that He cares about us more than we care about ourselves. Thank God that in His wisdom He guides us into ways that bless, enhance and enrich our life experience.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Power of Making Amends

In 1984 William Beebe was a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia. On October 6 he attended a Grateful Dead concert and then returned to his fraternity house where a party was winding down. There had been a lot of drinking in the frat house and a 17-year-old freshman, Liz Schimpf, drank some of the spiked green punch and passed out. Beebe discovered Schimpf passed out and had sex with her.

Twenty-two years later Beebe is a real estate agent in Las Vegas and an alcoholic. He entered Alcoholics Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program with the hope of living a sober and free life. The 9th step in the program calls for a person to make amends for their past deeds that have hurt and wounded others. Beebe recalled the night in question at his frat house and decided to contact Schimpf to seek her forgiveness.

Schimpf is now Liz Seccuro, a wife and mother who lives in Connecticut. Liz had reported the rape in 1984 both to the Charlottesville police and to school officials. At the time Beebe claimed it was consensual sex and both authorities said that nothing could be done. After several email exchanges in recent months between Seccuro and Beebe, Liz contacted the Charlottesville police to see if anything could be done now that she had Beebe’s confession in writing. There is no statute of limitations in Virginia and a warrant for Beebe’s arrest was issued.

As the case has had further investigation it seems that more than one man assaulted Seccuro on the night in question. Tuesday Beebe pleaded guilty to sexual assault and offered his assistance in prosecuting others that were involved.

The casual reader of this story may conclude, “Wow, it doesn’t pay to confess your sins and try to make things right.” One may be tempted to think it is better to live a life of secrecy and pretense. After all, the world now knows what Beebe did and he’s likely to go to jail for it even though it was 22 years ago and he was trying to make it right.

I don’t know if William Beebe is a Christian and I don’t know how he feels about how his effort to make amends has turned out. I do know that he was right to make amends.

The 12 Steps of AA are actually based on biblical principles. Making amends is something that Christ calls for all of His followers to do. Several years ago I was having a time of prayer and I sensed that God was calling me to make amends. In high school I had done some shoplifting, stealing to be more accurate. And in my prayers I was sensing God leading me to make amends, including making restitution for everything I had stolen.

In my prayer I asked God how to go about this. Over the next few minutes God brought to my memory everything I had ever stolen, how much it cost and from what store it had been taken. I literally wrote it all down. I spent most of an entire week going to each retailer, confessing my sin (which had been a few years prior), detailing what I took and how much it was, and offering to do whatever they wanted in order to make it right.

I didn’t know how that was going to turn out. I didn’t know if some would want to arrest and prosecute me. The short of the story is that I didn’t have any legal ramifications but I did pay most of them some amount of money.

There have been many powerful benefits to my making amends. I’ll just mention two:
1. I’m a free man. When I seek to be in God’s presence I am never tyrannized by the accusations of the evil one or of my own conscience. I’ve been forgiven and freed.
2. I’m a clean man. Because I am committed to make right any wrong I commit, there are a lot of wrongs I never commit because I don’t want to go through the pain of making them right. Amends is a great deterrent to wrong behaviors.

Finally, back to Liz Seccuro, she has established a non-profit organization called Stars Survivors to offer assistance to other women who have suffered from sexual assault and rape. I pray God’s blessings on both Seccuro (her healing and wholeness) and Beebe (his freedom from alcohol and his past) as they live promising lives for the future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Elton John: Religion Encourages Hatred

Elton John recently said, “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people. Religion promotes hatred toward gay people.”

John, a music superstar for decades is openly gay and has been for years. He continued, “From my point of view I would ban religion completely. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.” John also criticized religious leaders for failing to do anything about conflicts around the world.

As a Christian who is committed to doing all within my power to follow all the teachings of Christ, Elton John’s words sting and they grieve my heart.

First, John uses a broad brush when condemning religion for hatred. Yes, there is a verbal and demonstrative segment of Christianity that is very harsh about homosexuality and is fairly characterized as hateful. However, there are also significant numbers of Christians that have led the way in embracing gays, declaring their value and worth as human beings, standing for justice and many times on the front lines serving those who have suffered from STD’s and AIDS that have resulted from a gay lifestyle.

Let me be clear, I believe the Bible when it says that homosexuality is sin. I do not condone homosexuality as a legitimate alternate lifestyle. But I do care about gay men and women and I’m committed to love and serve homosexuals (and every other kind of person) in such a way that they also might know God’s love.

Second, John continues to use the broad brush in declaring that religious leaders don’t do anything about conflicts around the world. There is some truth in his claim and it also ignores courageous and sacrificial Christians through the centuries who have poured out their lives for the oppressed. Recent weeks have carried remarkable stories about Christian efforts in Rwanda and the Sudan for example.

Third, any failure among Christians to love and to be active in fighting for the welfare of others is TOO much. However, the answer is not to “ban religion completely”.

I’ll remind Mr. John with a broad brush of my own that music is not the answer to change broken or wicked hearts. Government can’t change our hearts so that we’re more accepting and act more justly. The business community and capitalism isn’t the answer either.
I contend that unless we invite God individually and collectively to change our hearts and transform our lives to be like Christ, we are without hope.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day & Life Change

Today is Veteran’s Day and I join the chorus of American voices that say a heart felt “thank you” to those who have served our country, risked and/or lost life, in order to protect our freedom.

A fascinating story by Lisa Hoffman appeared this past week that focused on the remaining veterans of WWI. There appears to be only about a dozen surviving veterans with an average age of 108!

Hoffman invites us to reflect. Many of these vets were born under an American flag with only 45 stars and have witnessed three centuries. They have seen 19 presidents and 7 wars. Their lives began before airplanes, radio, talking movies and antibiotics. Animals were a more common mode of transportation than tin lizzies.

One person commented, “They’re the only generation that has gone from outhouses to outer space.”

Again, I honor and admire the sacrifice and commitment of these “Doughboys” and all the vets that have fought for our country.

I don’t want to take anything away from a Veteran’s Day focus. However, I would like to take it a step farther. Hoffman’s observation of all the lifestyle change WWI vets have seen made my mind spin.

I have also been privileged to see a tremendous amount of life change. Not because I’m so old (grin) but because I’m involved in a dynamic Christian church. Through the years I’ve seen people walk into the community of faith with brokenness, confusion, fear and despair. I’ve seen them touched by God and embraced by people, inspired by scripture and forgiven of many sins. I’ve seen healing, wholeness, hope, direction and purpose flood and fill lives so that they look as different today as 2006 looks different from 1906.
Yes, I know that there are broken churches that have hurt people and caused far-reaching problems. If you or someone you love has suffered from a dysfunctional church I sincerely apologize. At the same time, the best churches are still filled with sinful people and there is no perfect church. That being said, just as America, with all of our problems, is worth defending, the church, with all of her problems, is worth giving a second or third chance. I’m praying for you, my blog reading friend, to meaningfully engage God in His church.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's the Evidence of Being a Christian?

This past Sunday, 48-year-old Linda Long of London, Kentucky died at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. The cause of death was snakebite. Apparently Mrs. Long belonged to a Pentecostal Holiness church that practices snake handling as a part of their worship experience, or as they call it “serpent handling”. This past Easter a pastor, Dwayne Long, likewise died from handling poisonous snakes and is believed to have been the husband of Linda Long. Reporters were still trying to confirm their relationship at this writing.

Through the years you may have heard a reference from time to time about Christians who hold and handle poisonous snakes as a part of their worship. If you wondered if that were true or an exaggeration, it’s true. It primarily takes place in rural areas around the Appalachian states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.

Apparently this practice originated in the first decade of the 20th century as a Pentecostal minister named George Went Hensley was preaching in eastern Tennessee when some men dumped a box of rattlesnakes in front of him as he was in the midst of his sermon. Hensley is said to have picked up the snakes while continuing his preaching and thus the practice began. Hensley died in 1955 from snakebite.

In the Bible there is a verse that says, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my [Jesus] name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16:17-18, NIV)

The context of the verse is Jesus instructing His followers to go into the entire world and share the good news about salvation and forgiveness of sins. The point of the text is that while going for Christ, extraordinary things may happen that will encourage others to believe. Each of the things mentioned have happened from time to time. But nowhere is it suggested that “serpent handling” would validate or prove that one is a Christian.

This is a case of taking one verse and creating a far-reaching practice that can’t really be substantiated but is very effective in giving ammunition to skeptics as to why they should stay away from “those crazy church people.”

What you will find the Bible stating is the evidence that someone is a Christ follower is that they effectively and consistently “love one another”. There are dozens of these verses throughout the scripture.

Loving one another doesn’t have the drama of “serpent handling”. It is hard work, risky, opens one up to being treated unfairly and can literally cost you your life in some circumstances.

If you’re a seeker or even a skeptic examining the Christian faith, let me encourage you to reflect on whether the Christians you’re watching love others well. If you’re a believer reading this post, by all means “love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my [Jesus] disciples” (John 13:35).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Learning Forgiveness From Gayle Haggard

I posted on Saturday about the allegations raised against Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Sunday a letter of confession and resignation was read to the congregation of 14,000 in which Pastor Haggard admitted that most of the allegations were true and that he was guilty of immorality.

How does someone who claims to have the power of God in his life fall to such heinous sin? I tried to address that question in my post.

Today I’m reflecting on the published response of Ted’s wife Gayle. As a leading voice in the women’s ministry at New Life Gayle felt that she needed to say something to the hundreds of women that she had taught about how to have a godly marriage.

Remarkably Gayle said, “I’m so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hearts are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.

“What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death ‘do us part’. We started this journey together, and with the grace of God we will finish together.”

How can a woman that has been betrayed by a husband who has apparently been caught up in drugs and gay sex for 3 years, continue to love that man? How can she forgive him so that she remains committed to be married to him for the rest of her life?

I suggest to you that is the power of God. Forgiveness is a choice. Commitment is a choice. Even love is a choice. Though feelings are powerful forces in our lives, the power to choose is greater. Gayle has chosen to forgive, remain committed and love. Her testimony is that it is God’s steadfast work in her that gives her the power to make those choices.

Will she be able to persevere, especially if additional sordid details and stories come out? I don’t know. If she continues to effectively lean on God she will. Gayle Haggard is drawing from the very same power that Jesus did while hanging upon the cross and praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dead Sea Scrolls & a Living Bible

For several weeks the Dead Sea Scrolls are on exhibit in Seattle. This remarkable archeological find is perhaps the most significant ever if not in the past 100 years. Several of my friends have already checked it out. I’m going soon.

The Bible was written over 1500 years by over 40 different authors with radically different backgrounds and culture, yet there is a remarkable thread of continuity. It is the most published book in history. It is the most translated book in history appearing in over 1200 languages. It has survived bans, burnings, ridicule, criticism, and political eradication. It is THE single-best documented piece of ancient literature that exists. Scholars are excited if an ancient manuscript of any type had 10 or more copies. The Bible has over 26,000 ancient copies!

However, the Bible is also read by too few and understood by even less. It is THE most important book (or collection of books) ever. One of the reasons it is under-used today is because many of us don’t have a good chronological sense or context for the Bible.

Today at the church I attend, Meadowbrook Church in Redmond, we made a big deal about the little book called the Bible. We were challenged to engage in a reading plan that basically covers most of the more important or significant events and teachings in chronological order. And, the reading happens a little bit every day and can be completed in 61 days. The reading plan is online at Bible Gateway.

If we begin reading today we would have gained a tremendous awareness and familiarity of the Bible by the first week of January. What a great way to begin the New Year.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ted Haggard & Dealing With Sin

Ted Haggard is the senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and he is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims membership by dozens of denominations and millions of Christians. Haggard has had regular meetings with President Bush and was named by TIME magazine as one of the 25 most influential religious leaders in America.

November 2, Mike Jones, a male escort in Denver, claims that Haggard had been paying for sex with him for the past three years. Jones also says that that Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten the experience.

Ted Haggard is on suspension from New Life Church pending investigation and he has resigned his position with the NAE. Haggard’s initial response to the allegations was a complete denial of gay sex and drug use. At this writing Haggard has now admitted that he received a massage from Jones and bought meth but never used it and threw it away.

More of the story and the truth will come out. I will not draw final conclusions about Haggard until the investigation is over.

Because Haggard was such a man of influence and had taken strong public stands against a number of moral issues including gay marriage which is on the Colorado ballot for November 7, many are jumping on the story for whatever political gains can be had as well as to take shots at the hypocrisy that is found in religion, especially Christianity.

I concede that Christianity and the church have much hypocrisy and sin. For a variety of reasons there have been a percentage of believers through the years that have felt it important to portray themselves as “having it together” and not living “in bondage to sin”. Therefore, when it becomes known that said life that is “together” and free of “bondage” is in fact broken and sinful, watching skeptics take it as one more reason not to come close to God and faith.

To my skeptic friend, Christianity does work in the lives of believers to bring integration and to free from destructive behaviors. It works in my life. But, I’m still a broken and sinful person and so is every other Christian. I’m more healed, more whole and more free from destructive ways than I’ve ever been. But, I’m not above ever failing and falling again. That’s why we must live with humility about our state and extend much grace to others.

To my believing friend, take Haggard’s story as an occasion to re-examine your own frailty. Refresh your relationship with Christ and continue receiving His grace to become all that God has designed your life to be.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry & God's Grace

This past Monday former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry, addressed a group of college students and said that if they studied hard and made “an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Five days away from mid-term elections Republicans are scrambling to spin this story in ways that lessen their sure-to-come losses and Democrats are scrambling to spin this story to shore up their anticipated gains. It’s all resulting in way too much noise for me.

Like you I’ve seen video replays of the comments more than I want to. I do think that Kerry’s intent was to take a shot at President Bush and not the troops. I don’t know whether Kerry’s comments were a true reflection of some level of disdain he holds for the military (like a “Freudian slip”) or if it was a “botched” joke.

Here’s what I do know. What comes out of the mouth is a reflection of what is in the heart. What’s in the heart affects the way we think and speak. Jesus said, “What people say with their mouths comes from the way they think; out of the mind come evil thoughts…” (Matthew 15:18,19, NCV)

Politics and damage control aside, if John Kerry wanted to experience God in light of his comments and the national backlash he’s incurred, Kerry would want to pray a prayer similar to King David: “God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NCV)

If I’m critical, harsh, unkind, sarcastic, or wounding in any way with my conversation, that is an indicator of the state of my heart. If I want to have a rich experience with God I must have a clean heart. So, I pay attention to my conversation (and a lot of other things) to help monitor the state of my heart/thinking.

At the point that I see pride, condescension, lack of kindness or love, that’s God’s invitation to receive His grace to repent (have my thinking changed). Then, my confession to others about my conversation is not an attempt to spin or lessen some consequence, but to reveal the changing work of God in me.