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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Rediscovering Jesus – In the Garden

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We were made to be magnificent.

Human beings were the culmination of His creation. God lovingly, personally fashioned us from dust. Intentionally sculpted and gave us life. Beautiful…powerful…creative…intelligent…capable…we were built in the very image of God. We were especially designed for relationships: able to intimately know others, and able to walk with God.

Until it all fell apart.

Christy, you said you were going to do a series on rediscovering Jesus. What are you doing in the Garden of Eden?

This is where Jesus starts, friends. This is where the gospel begins!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” John 1:1-4.

Eden is where we first discover the nature of God and the nature of ourselves. It’s where we first experience grace. I’d go so far as to say that without the Garden, there is no Gospel. (And yes, I’m one of those foolish people who believe that Genesis 1-3 is a poetic retelling of actual events.)

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden? You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” Genesis 3:1, 4-5.

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The problem wasn’t just that Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate the fruit. It’s never just about our outward actions. No. They doubted God’s character. Wondered if He was really good…if He was holding out on them. They believed the Enemy’s lie and chose to do it their own way.

The knowledge of good and evil consumed Adam and Eve. They realized they were naked. Tried to fix the problem with fig leaves. And ultimately hid from their Creator and Friend.

Does this sound familiar? We humans have been living like this ever since.

We still believe lies about God all the time. We still doubt His character. We still choose to go our own way. We continue to try and fix the brokenness ourselves. And we often hide ourselves from the Presence of God.

I hear people talk about how our “true self” is a wretched sinner. That brokenness is our real identity. I also hear other people violently react to that teaching.

I believe that our “true self” is the magnificent creation we were made to be. Remnants of our magnificence remain even now, but it is mangled and perverted because of the sin that is also a part of us. This is the nature of our humanity. We glimpse the potential, and we come face to face with the perversion every day.

But God…

If He was really the God of anger and punishment that some people make Him out to be, God would have killed Adam and Eve and started over. He had every right to do so. They broke the rule and destroyed His perfect creation. He had promised death if they chose to disobey.

Instead, God sought them. He called to them. He drew them out of hiding and to Himself.

“But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9.

God reached out to His broken, magnificent creations with questions He already knew the answer to. In gentleness and love He gave consequences for their disobedience. There had to be consequences. But amid the curse, there was also a promise. A man who would someday destroy the power of the serpent. And instead of guaranteed death falling on Adam and Eve, it fell on the animals God used to make clothing for them. A picture of a Savior who would one day substitute His life for ours.

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So here is the question…who is this God in the Garden? A God who has feet to walk with the people He created and footsteps that they can hear? A God who seeks the broken? Does He sound familiar to you?

 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19:10.

Think on this for a minute. Let it soak in. What does this mean for you?

It makes me love Jesus even more…through tears. 🙂 What an amazing, powerful, loving God we have the privilege to know!

Letting Go of Perfect (Blogging at PastorsWives.com)

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Hope you enjoy my monthly contribution to PastorsWives.com. 🙂

After a crazy summer, I was looking forward to our perfect vacation. We’d rented a three room suite at a resort by Lake Superior. I was anticipating lazy beach days, exploring, and snuggly family time. Things didn’t go as planned.

Our suite had plumbing problems, so the owners “upgraded” us to their home. It was beautiful but also awkward and nerve wracking with two small children. Our four-year-old decided this was a great time to express how the summer’s lack of consistency had affected him. He turned into a raging, defiant, fit-throwing monster every time things didn’t go his way. It rained. A lot.

So much for perfect.

Our ideals rarely come true. Perfect vacations. Perfect marriages. Perfect children. Perfect churches or ministry situations. It’s pretty obvious that we live in a world broken by sin.

We can drive ourselves crazy striving for perfection. Continue reading here!

An Identity Crisis Pt.2 (What Does God Think of Me?)

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What does God think about us? Does He like us better when we behave? Is He disappointed when we screw up? I think the real answer might surprise you.

Contrary to how we may have been raised, or to what we may have been taught in church, God’s love for us is not conditional. It is definitely NOT based on how we perform.

God’s love is passionate and ridiculous, intense and crazy! And it’s ALL about Him!

Do you believe that God loves you because of who you are? And I’m not talking about the good parts. God loves you because of who you are including your messes… What do you think about that?

God knows that we have no goodness on our own. He sees the absolute depths of our sin. And right there is where He loves us with such an intense, passionate, gut-level love that our hearts cannot even handle a portion of it.

I know this because God tells us about His love all through the Bible, but I KNOW it because I’ve tasted it. If you struggle to believe in God’s love for you, ask Him to fill you with His love for someone else. I’ll bet He picks someone you would never image and that won’t make any sense. (Warning: you will probably turn into a blubbering mess unable to handle God’s passion without tears.)

 

He was a wreck. Didn’t even make it through the first day of camp without getting sent home. Into every possible negative thing you can imagine, attitude and mouth the size of Mt. Everest, just trouble. TROUBLE. But we’ve been friends for the past two years, so he liked to hang around my health office and sit on my golf cart. I didn’t mind, but I told him that if we were hanging out then we were talking about Jesus.

We had a lot of interesting conversations in those few hours…chatting about God’s love and what God really wants from him, talking about what Jesus did for him, reminding him that the Holy Spirit was there to give him power beyond imagination. He was sitting on my golf cart when the director came to send him home. They drove off to the office and as I watched them leave, my heart was suddenly filled with  love beyond comprehension. I quickly escaped to a quiet hill where the tears started.

“He’s so beautiful, Jesus! Such a beautiful mess…” I just sat and let myself feel and cry. Then Jesus reminded me again, like He has many times before…

“That’s how I feel about you! I love you SO MUCH!!”

I soaked in Jesus’ crazy, unreasonable, insane, too-big-to-handle love, smiling, laughing, and crying until my eyes were red and puffy and my nose was a runny mess.

 

Does God feel emotion? You’d better believe it! Remember, we were made in HIS image.

Do you believe that God loves you this much? Or do you feel like He just puts up with you or loves you because He has to? He doesn’t put up with you. He doesn’t think you are a failure. You are a prized treasure, adored with a love you cannot fathom…not because of your “goodness” but because of His.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

I don’t know about you, but that kind of love changes me. It brings me peace and confidence. It makes me love Jesus back. Suddenly I am willing to let go of control. I find myself wanting to follow Him and be like Him.

I think that is the point.

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