Our Need for Real Repentance

 

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If you are like me, and you’ve experienced some degree of spiritual abuse in your life, the word repentance might be triggering. Images of authoritarian control. Waves of guilt and shame. Memories of confessing every possible sin you might have committed.

I want to tell you a story that will hopefully redefine the way you think about repentance.

Both of my children are strong-willed, but my son is particularly stubborn. He will get something in his head and no amount of reasoning, or pushing, or arguing will change his mind. The other day, he was in a mood. I don’t even know what he was upset about, but I do remember that he told me to shut up. We don’t talk like that in our family.

I was working on a puzzle (because, coronavirus) and he was standing there next to me looking miserable, chin jutted out, hands clenched, angry at the world. I calmly reminded him that those kinds of words hurt people and that we don’t talk like that. I acknowledged that he was angry and told him it was okay to feel that way, but that it was not okay to tell his mother to shut up. He glared at me.

My son is really good at being stubborn, but he’s also excellent at repentance.

A few quiet minutes went by while I worked away on my puzzle and he stood there glaring. Then he broke down. There were tears, and hugs, and “I’m sorry, Mama” was whispered in my ear. We snuggled. Our relationship was restored.

True repentance isn’t a power trip by an abusive authority. It isn’t a formula where we confess sins so that bad things will stop. It’s a change of heart. It’s a humble acknowledgement of sin. It’s restoration. 

I’ve been reading the book of Joel the last few days for my morning Jesus Time. It starts with a plague of locusts and a call to repentance. A plague and repentance. It struck me that something has been drastically missing from our social media feeds during this pandemic.

I’ve witnessed anger, frustration, dismay, and fear…

I’ve seen a plethora of conspiracy theories (and even Christian conspiracy theories to debunk the initial theories)…

I’ve read far too many political rants…

But I haven’t observed much repentance.

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If anything, this COVID19 pandemic has reinforced my beliefs in the cores of Christianity. As human beings, we are totally corrupted by sin. This world of ours is definitely broken. And we absolutely need a Savior. There is no shame in admitting these facts, but it does take humility. And that’s where true repentance starts…broken humility.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of my own brokenness over the past two months. I need forgiveness; I need restoration; I need Jesus.

I would like to lead us in a prayer of repentance.

“God, I come to you with empty hands.

I stretch them out before You and admit my lack.

I agree with You that I am broken, helpless, and in need of a Savior.

I repent.

I have forgotten or ignored Your reality,

that You are Who You Are whether or not I acknowledge it,

and instead I have created an image of You that suits my purposes.

Sometimes I don’t want You to be REAL real.

I repent.

I want to believe that I am in control.

I don’t like feeling helpless and afraid.

I don’t want to admit that I am needy.

My pride is strong and I push You away.

I repent.

There is a part of my heart that can only be filled by You,

but I have tried to fill it myself.

You know the things I have used to attempt satisfaction.

None of them work.

I repent.

You say that this world is not my home, but I want to be comfortable.

You say that I will face trouble, but I want peace.

I work so hard to grasp things that will not last

while ignoring things that are eternal.

I repent.

More than control, more than answers, more than peace,

more than comfort, and financial security, and physical health,

I need You.

I open my hands in surrender and I let go.

Show me Who You Are in all Your reality.

All I want is You.

Amen.”

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Friends, first we need personal repentance and then we can move to corporate repentance. There is much that the church needs to repent of and abandon. Stay tuned.

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A Virus and a Savior

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Many of us used to think that the modern human being was advanced, intelligent, and sufficient. We had impressive technology, evolved thinking, and a vast array of resources. Any problem that anyone threw at us would be solvable. But a tiny little virus destroyed all of those beliefs in a matter of days.

Rather than being sufficient, we have discovered that we are helpless with no cure or proven treatment. Instead of evolved intelligence, our smartest scientists struggle to explain the hows and whys. There are more questions than answers. Despite all of our technology and resources, we are left facing a very real fear of death.

It is a scary time, filled with uncertainty and disruption. But it is a gift. Because we have to realize that we are lost before we can be found!

We elevated our advanced intelligence, but now we are left helpless. We declared humanity to be “basically good,” but rampant selfishness has been on display all around us. It’s hard to deny that humanity’s goodness has been corrupted. We decided we were sufficient not needing the crutch of religion, and yet we find ourselves terrified of death.

We need a Savior.

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Do you think it is a coincidence that our fight with this virus overlapped with Easter? Hardly. The Real God knows exactly what will make us stop and think, and consider and turn. He has been after His people since He created Adam and Eve. We were made by God for a relationship with God. And since the beginning, despite the fact that people always run away, God has done everything necessary to make that relationship possible.

The Real God became a man and lived on this world with us for three decades. Jesus blew the religious leaders’ minds by refusing to follow their rules because it has always been about hearts and not actions. He chose the rejects, loved the broken, and forgave the sinners. And then at just the right time, Jesus allowed corrupt people to torture and kill Him thus becoming the Ultimate Sacrifice for the sins of the world.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)

This precious truth is at the core of any version of Historical Christianity. God Himself died to forgive our sins, was buried, and rose again, and those who put their faith in Him will be restored to eternal life.

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son” John 3:14-18.

We were helpless, but God Himself stepped in to be our Helper. He did not leave us alone, but came to live among us so that we would know who He was!

We were corrupted, but God took our sin upon Himself and offers us His righteousness in exchange if we will trust in Him.

We feared death, but God offered us eternal life through a Savior, Jesus Christ.

It’s a crazy story. Crazy and unique. Every other religion includes human effort and sacrifice in an attempt to appease the god or gods. No other religion has a God who became a man, took the punishment on Himself, and offers free forgiveness and life to anyone who believes in Him. 

It’s an insane story that has transformed lives for the last two thousand years. It’s transformed mine. Not just the story, but the Person behind the story. Because Jesus is alive and I am foolish enough to believe that I’ve encountered Him personally. I’ve met Jesus. I’ve experienced the forgiveness and life that He offers, and I won’t ever be the same. He’s waiting to meet you too.

Happy Easter!!

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