Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

The Mystic Madame Guyon

This is the day that … Jeanne Marie Bourvier de la Motte Guyon died, at the age of 69, in 1717.

As a young girl, born to an aristocratic French family, she was raised in various convents. At the age of 16 she was married to a high-ranking nobleman more than twice her age. Widowed at the age of 28 Madame Guyon found herself “with incredible wealth and vast estates to manage.”

Although she belonged to the Roman Catholic faith, yet she “saw more clearly the sublimest truths of our most holy Christianity” (Introduction to Autobiography, published by Moody Press, page 6).

“I henceforth take Jesus Christ to be mine …” she wrote, “and I give myself to Him, unworthy though I am, to be His spouse.”

In an age of debauchery when King Louis XIV considered himself God’s appointed ruler whom all must obey, Madame Guyon refused consent for her daughter’s marriage to the person of the king’s choosing. She was imprisoned for nine months, only to find favour in the eyes of Madame de Maintenon, the king’s favourite mistress, who secured her release.

Madame Guyon now found herself conducting “prayer meetings and counselling sessions for the young ladies of the king’s court!” “Palace or prison made no difference to Madame Guyon,” writes one biographer, “so absorbed was she in the love of Christ.”

Eventually her writings brought her into conflict with the Roman church, she was tried for heresy and sentenced to imprisonment in the Bastille. (At the same time as ‘the man in the iron mask’ was also held prisoner there). Four years later she was released (in 1702), was banished, and died some 15 years later.

During her remarkable life she wrote a 20-volume commentary on the Bible, and 40 devotional works. Madame Guyon was a mystic, and her ‘visions and revelations’ led John Wesley to be critical of some of her writings as lacking a Scriptural base.

Likewise, some of her “bizarre stories of self-inflicted pain … putting stones in her shoes and rolling in stinging nettles…” cause many evangelicals to regard her with a quizzical eye.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Catholic Church’s New Sins

The Vatican has now defined an extended list of sins – updating a tradition that is 1500 years old. And, may I say, it signals a crumbling of the Catholic Church.

That’s a dramatic suggestion and it’s not intended to be anything but an observation. Consider what is happening here and make your own assessment.

A recent Milan Catholic University survey of Italian Catholics, arguably as devout a constituency as could be found on the planet, showed a serious change in attitude toward perennial Catholic practice. Attendance at confession is no longer practiced by 60% of Italian Catholics.

The Catholic University showed that 30 percent of Italian Catholics believed that there was no need for a priest to be God’s intermediary and 20 percent felt uncomfortable talking about their sins to another person.

These findings prompted Pope Benedict XVI to express concern over rising secularization. He told a seminar group that hedonism and consumerism had even invaded “the bosom of the Church itself, deeply undermining the Christian faith from within, and undermining the lifestyle and daily behaviour of believers”.

In apparent response to this trend Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti of the Vatican Apostolic Penitentiary told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that priests must take account of “new sins which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation”.

“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos,” he said.

Now the Vatican says it is time to modernize the list of sins to fit a global world.

Commendable as it may be to draw attention to all forms of wrong, including those that have previously been sidelined, the TREND of what is happening is more significant than the detail.

Here we have one of the most powerful forces in Christendom acting as a handmaiden to social pressures beyond its control. In previous generations this would never be so. In centuries past the Catholic Church set the trend. Indeed Christianity has imposed itself on cultures, nations, families and individuals with profound impact again and again since it was born 2,000 years ago. Christianity has never had to be a handmaiden to society, but rather called society to accept its truths, receive its grace, comprehend its worldview and cooperate with its agenda.

So, I find this latest invention alarming. It signals that the Catholic Church has somehow embraced a position of powerlessness. It almost ascribes the greatest social prominence to the “forces of globalism”, probably including such corporations as McDonalds and Microsoft.

At the same time however, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is still as powerful as ever. The truth of Christianity owes nothing to global forces, but stands in their face and in their way, not needing to step aside to accommodate human culture. The Spirit of God does not need a new sales-pitch or a new message. The old rugged cross, that amazing grace and the church triumphant proceed full-force in this new millennium without apology and without need to re-invent themselves. Praise God for a Saviour who does not change, for grace that is always sufficient and for a hope that is eternal.

The Catholic Church may be signaling by this significant step that it has lost confidence in the gospel which spawned it. It will be interesting to observe, over the next decade or so, if similar expressions of accommodation emerge from the papal corridors.

Believers the world over, be they in traditional churches or underground gatherings, in cathedrals or jungle huts, need not be tempted to uncertainly or doubts about the relevance of their long-held faith. The rock cut out of the mountain is still growing into a mountain that fills the earth – and that is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sources: Reuters – Vatican lists “new sins,” including pollution / Times Online – Seven new deadly sins: are you guilty? / CNN – Vatican Updates Sins. March 10, 2008