Alistair James

On July 31, 2015 my son Alistair James passed away in the womb.  I never got to meet him in this life.  I often think of how old he would be and wonder how he would interact with his older brother and sister, or what milestones he would be reaching now; first step, first solid food, first word.  He was first in one respect: that, before me, he got to see Jesus face to face.

Here lies my son
My son who sleeps
Whose every secret heaven keeps
Whose smile is hidden from my view
Whose lungs first breath of glory drew

My son who walks,
On golden streets, with great saints talks
Whose mind man’s sin has never known
Who worships his true Father’s throne

My son who lives
In perfect peace and freely gives
Each thought and word to God’s great praise
Precedes myself in being raised

My son…
My son…
My son…
Oh my soul rejoice in you!
Yours whose eyes have a view
Of Savior sweet, and Spirit meet.
And Father good, and faithful, and true.


In the presence of God, because we are constantly in it, all my sins have been done.  Through our mediator Jesus Christ, we are ever before him, not separated by a veil or a cloud or a temple wall.  Thus our sin, each thoroughly conceived and executed by my own mind and body contrary to the Spirit of God within me, is done fully in his view and without any separation.  My mind, will and passions consort against the Spirit of God at all times, every part of me being infected by the root of sin.  That old man in my flesh who was crucified with Christ continually groans to pull himself down off the cross.  This exercise is to return him to it, to drive the nails again deeper into the palms and soles of my sin.

I have not loved God with my whole heart.  Indeed my passions have been divided.  I’ve worshipped my work, thinking that my own worth was tied up in that performance, thereby dishonoring God’s creation of me by attaching to it’s value merit.  I’ve worshipped wealth, not thinking first of God’s church with my spending and even wasting money on selfish gain.  I have accepted the praise of others for talents given to me by God, rather than correcting their praise towards God.

I have set up idols.  I have honored skilled musicians and wise individuals without giving God the glory for the gifts he’s given them.  I have pursued financial stability rather than church service.  Even good gifts, I have worshipped instead of the giver.

I have taken the Name of the Lord in vain.  His name is holy and I am known by it and I am not constantly concerned about how my reputation reflects him.  Every angry outburst, every harsh word, every lack of excellence in my work reflects the savior by which I am known.  Did he lack self-control? Was he unloving? Was he a shoddy carpenter? Never. But my reflection has been imperfect.  His name is written on my heart yet I – his temple – do not care for my own body as I ought.

I have not honored my parents. They will tell you!  I have not treated them with respect consistently.  There are many times when I ought to ask their advice, help and blessing but do not in my pride.  I assume that I have learned enough about life as an adult in the last 10 years that I could not possibly learn anything from their more than 40 years of experience.  I think I can be a good parent independent of their help, that I am responsible for how well I care for my children and not owing to the life-long example they’ve set.

I have not often kept the Sabbath. Too often have I worked through complete seven day weeks without pausing for even a few hours, let alone an entire day to consider the completeness of God’s work.  My working tirelessly without reflecting on the goodness of God does not bring him glory, it robs him of glory.  I have failed to recognize that he is the source of all blessing, not my work.  

I have not been guiltless of murder.  Though I’ve never taken a life, my heart has been angry towards brothers, sisters, wife, children, friends, parents, co-workers, the list goes on.  “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” Christ says (Matt 5:22).  If so then I was born a murderer and have murdered left and right since that day.  What a twisted man I am who becomes angry at his own family!

I have been guilty of lusts.  Gouge out an eye, cut off a hand, but how does a man carve images out of the mind and amputate thoughts?  I have had such thoughts!

I have stolen. Time from my wife and children to which they have a rightful claim.  Time from my employer when a moment of productivity is lost.  Time from my church when I fail to adequately prepare for Sunday worship.  Money from God when what ought to be my first fruits turn out to be leftovers when I mismanage the stewardship He has given me.  Love from my kids when I am impatient with them rather than understanding.  Love from my wife when a disagreement separates our fellowship for a moment.  Love from God at every breaking of his law for he is infinitely worthy of my obedience and the yoke he has placed on me is easy and light.  I owe him love not only because he first loved me, but in love, sought me; in seeking, found me in my sin; once found, he rescued me; and is carrying me back into his eternal fold forever and ever. Amen!

I have bourn false witness. I have not been a champion of the truth.  I have bent and misshaped the truth for my own gain.  Even this effort at personal confession falls scornfully short of the true nature of my inner man.  God is truth, and in Him the truth about me is that I never measure up to His standard; that I always fall short of His glory.  The truth of God is that I am as much a liar as that snake from the beginning and every sort of self-serving falsehood wells up within me.

I have desired other’s belongings. Disregarding both the fact that God alone judges between men and that God supplies all my needs according to His riches and glory, I have desired the blessings given to others.  All gifts from God are holy unto God, but I have treated them with contempt and as a measuring rod between men. How selfish and foolish am I?

At every turn I have broken this law of God for I am a sinner in need of a savior.