Gaining a Clear Conscience

At our third Bright Lights meeting (Feb. 16), we covered the very important topic of “Gaining a Clear Conscience.” Not only is it an important lesson, it’s perhaps one of the most difficult to put into practice.

First of all we talked about what our conscience is. We described it as a God-given sense of knowing right from wrong—it is God’s law written on our hearts. Romans 2:14-15 says: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”

From our skit: Sisters Alice and Mary couldn’t get along

We all make mistakes and sin against the Lord and others. Sins that we never make right, whether little or big, will effect us for the rest of our lives. When we do something wrong, we need to back and make it right.  If we try to ignore our conscience, things will only get worse.  God’s Word emphasizes having a clear conscience.  Why is this?  1.) Because we have to stand before God (Acts 24:15-16);  2.) to avoid failure (1 Timothy 1:19); and 3.) to maintain a good reputation (1 Peter 3:15-16).

We learned that there are 3 types of consciences:  A good conscience, which is one that is sensitive to evil and free from guilt; a guilty conscience, which is one that is bothered by guilt and unresolved sin; and a dead conscience–the very worst–which is one that is hardened against evil.  We each need to desire to have a clear conscience.

There are many sad consequences of a guilty conscience and hiding sin in our lives.  One of these is living in fear of being found out (Numbers 32:23b).  Secondly, a guilty conscience hinders relationships with those we have wronged, and more tragically, it hinders our with the Lord (Psalm 66:18—“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”)  Thirdly, when we are hiding sin in our lives, it is easy to continue in it because no one else knows and it able to help us with our struggles.  A guilty conscience also effects one’s testimony and ministry.

From our skit: Alice battling her conscience

So how do we obtain a clear conscience?  An important first step is to desire to have a clear conscience.  Next, list offenses that you have committed against God and others, and then confess your sin to the Lord.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Now, purpose to ask forgiveness from those you have offended or wronged.  Determine when you will ask forgiveness and do it—don’t put it off!!!

When you ask for forgiveness, show sincerity and humility (James 4:6—“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”)  Explain that you were wrong and make no mention of the what they did.    It is important to understand that we need to fix the problems in our lives, which are often big, before we try to fix the small problems in someone else’s life (Matt. 7:3-5).

From our skit: Be sure your sin will find you out!

There are many benefits of having a clear conscience that far outweigh the difficulty of going back and asking for forgiveness.  Some of these many blessings are that you will be able to resolve conflicts, you will experience great freedom and joy (no more guilt!), you will have more strength to overcome future temptations, and you will have a good testimony to others.

My sister Abigail and I each shared about a time when we had to clear our conscience.  Both of us agree that while confessing what we have done and asking for forgiveness is hard, the rewards of obeying the Lord in this matter are great and totally worth the difficulty.  There is great joy and wonderful freedom that comes when we gain a clear conscience.

As an illustration of the struggle within of gaining a clear conscience, we presented a skit about Alice who after a fight with her sister Mary, buried her sister’s doll in the garden to get back at her.  Alice’s conscience told her that she needed to confess what she had done and make things right, while the “Bad Conscience” convinced Alice that it was just too hard to confess, after all no one would ever know if she didn’t tell.  Alice decided to cover up what she had done and lived in fear of being found out—which happened one day.  Mary’s doll was filled with corn kernels, and one day Mom found some corn growing (in the shape of a doll!) in the garden. Alice learned the hard way that “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Playing “Bright Lights Pictionary” during our activity time

We were very grateful for the 17 girls that came out to the meeting. Our snacks were provided by Lily and Betty. Betty made some beautiful cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls, which was a treat for us all.  Happy birthday, Joy!

The beautiful cupcakes

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting on March 1st!

Developing a Close Relationship With Your Parents

We had our second Bright Lights meeting on January 26.  The Lord brought 16 girls to this meeting about “Developing a Close Relationship With Your Parents.”  We remembered to take pictures for the blog post this time!

During our lesson time we talked about how God is the Author of the universe and therefore He has all authority over it.  He delegates authority to human beings, such as our parents, to accomplish His purposes.  Instead of being like the teenagers of our day who think that authority is a bad and undesirable thing, it is important to recognize that authority is a good thing and honor those that the Lord has put in authority over us… especially the authority of our parents.

I used a picture of an umbrella to illustrate our parents’ authority.  Just like an umbrella protects us from the rain, staying under our parents’ authority protects us from the dangers of this world… as long as we stay under their authority.  When we choose to obey our parents, we are choosing to be under the protection that God has set in place.  When we disobey and resist authority, we move out from under the “umbrella” of protection and open ourselves up to the dangers of the enemy.  Our parents’ authority not only offers us protection, but also the blessings of provision, training, and correction.

The lesson time

We learned that our parents want to have a good relationship with us (“My son, give me thine heart…” Prov. 23:26) and came up with a list of different ways that we can work toward building a good relationship with them.  Some of the things on our list were to:

  • Express thankfulness
  • Share your life with them
  • Do not keep secrets from them/ trust them
  • Maintain a clear conscience with them
  • Look for ways to serve them
  • Avoid doing things that dishonor them
  • Encourage them

We also talked about the difference between obedience (refers to our action) and submission (refers to our attitude).  We can outwardly be doing what our parents have asked us to do, yet if we have a bad attitude we are not truly being submissive.  True submission is the key to having a close relationship with our parents.

As we seek to be strong for the Lord and use the years of our youth for Him, we need to choose to honor the authority of our parents and seek to develop a close relationship with them.  When we obey  and honor our parents, we are obeying and honoring God.  How we respond to the authority of our parents now is how we will respond to other authorities in our lives and ultimately to God.  We should ask the Lord to give us a submissive attitude and to provide opportunities to build our relationship with our parents.  As we honor our parents, others will notice and we will be a shining testimony to them… a bright light for Jesus!

Our activity was to make cards in which to write notes of gratefulness to our parents to thank them for their love, provision, training, correction, and protection. We used tissue paper squares to make flowers and designs on the card.  Everyone was very creative in making her own unique card!

Making cards for our parents

We closed with a lovely time of fellowship over tea and snacks.  Thanks to the Mindy, Lily, and Mrs. M. for providing our snacks this week!  We enjoyed mini eclairs, shortbread squares, and double chocolate cookies along with our mint and raspberry teas!

Strong for the Lord in Your Youth

“Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example among the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
I Timothy 4:12

Thursday, January 12, was our very first Bright Lights meeting.  Nineteen girls came and Lord really blessed our time together.  Unfortunately, we didn’t take very many pictures, so you’ll have to mostly just read about our meeting!

We began our time together with singing praises to the Lord.  Deborah played the piano as we sang from the Bright Lights songbook.  It was lovely to hear the girls voices singing hymns such as “Be Thou My Vision” and “Follow On”.

Around 7:00 we began the lesson.  Just then, we had two very late and rather interesting visitors who interrupted the lesson.  Miss Bright Clothes (Abby) and Miss Light Bulbs (Deborah) tried to dress up as bright lights and were confused as to what our meeting was really about.  Then after I explained to them that Bright Lights is about learning to shine brightly for Jesus in this dark world, and not about wearing bright clothes or Christmas lights, they left to invite all their friends and I was able to finish the lesson undisturbed.

After the skit, we talked about how today’s teenagers are often full of rebellion and trouble, and how most people simply expect the teenage years to difficult.   Then I shared with the girls how valuable the years of their youth are and how much potential they have for the Lord during this time.  As young people, we don’t have the cares and responsibilities that adults have, and we often have much more time and energy for seeking and serving the Lord during these precious years.  We don’t have to be like the teenagers of our day who are wasting the years of their youth.  We can choose to be strong for the Lord and use these years for Him.

To illustrate the importance of being strong for the Lord, I had two volunteers, Louisa and Emma, help me make a “concoction”.  It smelled and looked awful, one girl suggesting that it looked like mud.  I told them that this represented the sin and filth of this dark world.  Then I held up a beautiful rose to represent the years of our youth and the beautiful potential that we have for the Lord.   I dipped the rose in the disgusting concoction to show how we can ruin and waste the years of our youth when we are not strong for the Lord.   I closed by asking the girls if they wanted to be like the once beautiful rose that was ruined by the things of this world of darkness, or like the pure beautiful rose by being strong for the Lord in their youth.   (Note: I found this excellent illustration on the O’Fallon Bright Lights blog).

Following the lesson, we played a game to help the girls get antiquated with each other.  Half of the girls stood in a circle facing outward, while the other half stood around them in a circle facing inward.  I gave them a topic such as “your family” or “your favorite meal” and then gave them 30 seconds to a minute to discuss this topic with the girl facing them.  After the time was up, the girls in the outer circle would rotate to stand in front of a different girl and discuss a another topic.  This helped the girls get to know each other a bit better and feel more comfortable.

Getting to know each other during our activity time

We ended our meeting with a time of tea, snacks, and fellowship.  Special thanks to Abby and Lily for providing our yummy snacks… Apple Bars and English Tea Cookies.

Praise the Lord for a wonderful first Bright Lights meeting!  I look forward to seeing you girls again on January 26th.