Repentance and Pride

You will never be done with repentance.

Did that quote get your attention? It did mine. It’s the first sentence of chapter 30 of Joe Thorn’s Note to Self, his book of 48 notes to preach to yourself.


It may be the best devotional I’ve read about repentance. Here’s more to explain why:

Repentance is both an attitude and an action. It will be helpful to think of repentance in three parts: revulsion, resolution, and repetition.

Revulsion is finding something offensive or distasteful. Revulsion will come only when you see the holy, just, and good character of God in contrast to yourself.

Resolution is purposing to walk in righteousness, delighting in God’s law, laying off the old self, and walking in newness of life.

Repetition is the ongoing nature of this work. Without repetition, it is all for nothing; for as long as you continue to sin, you need to repent.

Helpful, right? And because of the truth of that note, Note #34 entitled “You are Proud” demands sharing. Why? Because we all are prone to it and thus need to practice repentance of it. Thorn suggests that we struggle with pride because of comparing ourselves to others and because we disregard the work God is doing in our lives.

Pride is why you rage, lust, covet, steal, and lie. You do these things because you believe you deserve what you don’t have. This kind of pride denies God and others the place they should have in your life.

You must see yourself as you really are-creature, not Creator; sinful, not righteous; undeserving, not deserving; dependent, not independent; made for his glory, not for your own. And you must know God as holy, just, good, gracious, and merciful, who saves all who trust in him, and not in themselves. This is the theology that erodes pride, builds humility, and produces joy.

These two notes on repentance and pride have great content for self-preaching. I encourage you to get the book to hear the other 46.

Invitation’s Power

Recently someone shared how being included in an invite to a Bible reading plan on YouVersion had impacted them.

I grew a lot from being part of those groups.  Because I haven’t been able to attend church since October since I started working Sundays, being asked to be a part of a group reading plan meant a lot to me and gave me a way to grow and to stay connected.

Hearing that was great. But it also convicted me. Here’s why.

I’ve gotten so used to inviting folks to things that when I heard my friend say this I realized that I had lost appreciation of a simple invitation’s impact. Invitations carry power.

  • The Power of Worth – “I believe you belong.”
  • The Power of Inclusion – “I want to include you.”
  • The Power of Remembrance – “I thought about you.”
  • The Power of Value – “I think you have something to contribute.”
  • The Power of Connection – “I would like to stay in contact with you.”
  • The Power of Observation – “I realize this might be something you‘d like.”

We’ve all been on the receiving end of an invitation. We can relate to its power as a receiver. What if we balanced the power by extending invitations?

  • Want to go to lunch?
  • Want to go to a movie?
  • Want to join my _______ group?
  • Want to bring your family over?
  • Want to discuss what’s on your mind?
  • Will you be my guest?

These days we may feel powerless. I’m guessing this is a simple way to exercise personal power that we still own.

What invitation power could you share before the end of this day?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Kate Macate

He’s Not the Dry Cleaner

I picked up my dry cleaning yesterday. It was actually two separate tickets, so that says something about the lack of urgency of my dry cleaning routine. When they say, “It’ll be ready tomorrow by five,” I courteously reply with thanks. If I wanted to reply in kind I’d say, “No rush. See you in a few weeks.”

There is the rare occasion when I realize I need something that quick. A wedding or funeral demands a quicker pickup. So I’m more in the “I’ll see you then” mode.  I’m in need, and I’m expecting them to deliver.

If we aren’t paying attention, we can treat God like the dry cleaner. We pull up in the drive-thru lane, drop off our needs, say thanks, and go about our day without much urgency.  No big deal. Unless it’s that rare occasion. Then we might actually be more demanding of him than we are the dry cleaner.

To be clear, He isn’t the dry cleaner.

He doesn’t say, “You tell me when you need it, and I’ll get right on that.” He’s not a business owner needing your business in order to keep the doors open. He’s not in the business of keeping you satisfied.

But here’s a question: What about those desperate times when you are truly in need of support, or connection, or at least an acknowledgment that He’s there? We understand in that moment He isn’t going to completely solve our issue, but can He at least let us know He’s on the job.  We aren’t an irate customer; more like a hurting son or daughter.

Recently I found myself torn between treating him like the dry cleaner, fully knowing He isn’t, and like my heavenly Father.  I won’t share all the dialogue, but suffice it to say it was more than a short conversation in the drive-thru.

And what He did was what He promises to do. He heard my cry.  He didn’t totally solve my issue, but He gave me what I needed to get back on the road.  His answer to my question, “What are you doing?” was, “Whatever it is, I’ll give you the strength for it.”

And that was enough-especially when I stopped acting like His customer and more like His child.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Waldemar Brandt

“Self,…”

Fear is exhausting. Well, at least misplaced fear can be. Proper fear can actually provide joy and comfort.

Several people have commented how that in spite of being slowed down since March they still feel tired, maybe even more so. Perhaps fear is to blame.

I started a new book this afternoon, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn. His book contains 48 devotionals written as notes to “Self,” reminders of what you know based on Scripture. Note #3, entitled “Fear,” includes these thoughts:

Worldly fear will lead you to toe party lines, compel you to try to live a safe life, and lead you to so prize the good gifts of God that they mutate into idols.

Your possessions can go up in flames, but you have treasure in heaven and stand to inherit the kingdom. Your reputation may be sullied, but you are justified in Jesus. You may be rejected by those who you admire, but you are accepted by God. You may be hated, but your Father in heaven loves you with an undying love.

The fear you need to maintain and cultivate is a fear of God, for in it you will discover wisdom and develop strength that enables you to persevere in faith to the end.

Somewhere in those reminders may you find rest from fear, whether you’re fighting your own or burdened by other’s.

What if you wrote your own note to self? What reminders would it include?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Melanie Wasser

3 Things That Matter

In this read of Ravi Zacharias’s The Grand Weaver, three things stood out to me. They, like all eight chapters in the book, discuss what matters.


Your disappointments matter

In chapter two, he wrote this about the end of life:

One of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender.

He looks at the lives of David, Job, and Habakkuk to illustrate the importance of communion with God to carry us through pain, to make us “tender by that which makes the heart of God tender.” God’s presence is more essential than answers.

Your calling matters

In chapter three, these three statements can breathe life into any searcher:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

God often reinforces our faith after we trust him, not before.

No follower of Christ does secular work.  We all have a sacred calling.

Your worship matters

Chapter eight may be the best chapter you’ll ever read about worship. In it, he discusses the five main components of worship taken from the book of Acts: the Lord’s Supper, teaching, prayer, praise, and giving. This line speaks deeply to why worship matters:

When worship and praise lose their focus and purpose, the finite finds the Infinite boring and the creature finds the Creator insufficient.

Tenderness matters.  Trust matters.  Worship matters.

“Have Some Tortellini!”

Yesterday morning a group of our church leaders shared what we’ve learned from the last 13 weeks since we were forced to respond to COVID-19. It was helpful for us to share with one another. In the spirit of sharing, here’s something I learned, maybe was reminded about last week while in the grocery store.

A while back I came across this brand of chicken salad in the deli that I now consider a staple. It’s an every-other-trip-to-the-store item. So as I headed to the shelf where my tub waited for me, another staple-finder beat me. He stopped right in front of my chicken salad. No big deal. What’s a few seconds to wait?

Well, he needed more than a few seconds. So you know, I rarely need more than a few seconds on any aisle in the store. I was getting a little irked waiting, but keeping my cool and my distance. I told myself, “Take a look around right where you are. If nothing else, distract yourself. Maybe there’s something here worth trying.”

One of my favorite pastas is tortellini. You can stuff them with just about anything, and I’ll pass you my bowl. Oddly though, I don’t buy it to make at home. It’s not a staple, more of a restaurant-only choice.

So…guess what I discovered after listening to myself. Yep, deli tortellini that I’ve walked by dozens of times…clueless and unfulfilled. (Yes, that’s over dramatic.) I had stopped right in front of it, but only because I was forced to.

What did I learn in the deli? Waiting has benefits.

  • Respecting others
  • Looking and learning
  • Seeing what you’ve missed
  • Discovering a new routine or staple
  • God may smile on you with a surprise…”Good job, waiting! Have some tortellini!”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Izzy Boscawen

Your Summary

Chapter three in Ravi Zacharias’s book The Grand Weaver is entitled “Your Calling Matters.” Here’s how he defines God’s calling:

A calling is simply God’s shaping of your burden and beckoning you to your service to him in the place and pursuit of his choosing.

When I think of Ravi Zacharias, I believe he knew his calling. Who comes to mind of people you believe knew their calling? Whomever it is, see if they exemplify this next sentence that ends the same paragraph including that definition:

When your will becomes aligned with God’s will, his calling upon you has found its home.

The challenge is maintaining that alignment. If the tapestry God desires to design through one’s life is to be completed, staying pliable and surrendered in the Grand Weaver’s hand is required.

When he summarized leaders in the Bible, God pronounced their pursuit of their call with one of two statements: “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” or “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

This Matters. 

Your Calling Matters. 

Your Summary Matters.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jamie Street

Words

I decided a few weeks ago this is a time to read through Proverbs. Many messages from many directions demands wisdom be supreme.

Written and spoken words are crucial. They can help or hurt, confuse or assist, push away or bring forward…

As reminders, here are some lines from Proverbs 15:

  • A gentle answer turns away anger
  • The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive
  • The tongue that heals is a tree of life
  • Pleasant words are pure
  • The mind of the righteous person thinks before answering

Words have power. May we use them well.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Brett Jordan

The Power of Christian Contentment (book review)

Releasing this book last year, there’s no way Andrew Davis knew how helpful this book could be this year.

I agree with a life coach that said this about COVID-19: “It’s not creating fear. It’s exposing the fears we already had.” The same could also be said about our contentment.

Each of the twelve chapters are rich. The most helpful ones are entitled The Mysterious Mindset of Contentment (5), The Excellence of Christian Contentment (7), The Evils and Excuses of a Complaining Heart (8), and Contentment in Suffering (9). Here are quotes from the entire book to help you tap into the power of contentment:

  • Christian contentment is finding delight in God’s wise plan for my life and humbly allowing him to direct me in it.
  • It is no stretch to say that the Lord may orchestrate amazingly challenging circumstances for you and your family for the primary purpose of giving your supernatural hope and Christian contentment a platform.
  • Abiding, supernatural contentment is a “secret” to be learned, not part of the original equipment of conversion.
  • Cosmologists estimate the total number of stars in the universe to be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Each of those stars is named and sustained moment by moment by God.
  • The combination of complete satisfaction in the world and complete dissatisfaction with the world is a mystery of contentment.
  • There is an inherent humility in Christian contentment and a basic arrogance in discontentment.
  • Tempting a content man is like shooting flaming arrows at an iron wall.
  • Christian contentment enables us to worship God excellently, in a way far purer and more glorious than any other form, better than hearing a sermon or attending corporate worship without contentment.
  • Esteem contentment highly; hate complaining passionately.
  • Old wicked habits die through starvation, and new godly habits grow through obedience.
  • American evangelicals of the 21st century are the wealthiest Christians in the history of the church. According to one study, evangelicals worldwide collectively made $7 trillion in income for that year. The Christian income in America represents nearly half of the world’s total Christian income. That is a massively weighty responsibility for American Christians.
  • The tapestry of our life’s history is made up of Todays.
  • God sees everything in super slow motion, and every microsecond of history is calculated and part of God’s providential plan. Don’t let Satan speed things up. Slow down! Breathe!
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how your electronic devices, especially your smartphones, are making you discontent.

You Have Cookies?

Dialogue at the end of my drive-through order at Wendy’s earlier today:

Wendy’s: Would you like any sauce?

Me: No, thank you.

Wendy’s: Would you like to add a cookie to your order for only $.99?

Me: You have cookies? 

Wendy’s: Yes, we do.

Me: Wow! I didn’t know that. Yeah, I’ll have a cookie (with a no-brainer tone).

Later I enjoyed my Wendy’s double chocolate chip cookie.

Why do you need to know this?

  • Future orders
  • The power of offering
  • The blessing of knowledge
  • Runners eat cookies, too. Well, this one does.
  • Imagine that cookie with your Frosty!

Post credit: G2