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.
Finished my first Brene Brown book this weekend.
Walking away with so much. I’ll share my two favorite things in a few posts. Here’s the first one:
Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love.
This quote came from a section entitled How To Practice Self-Compassion. She shares this definition of self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin: “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.” Brown translated that definition to her simple mandate.
I’m guilty. Chances are the vast majority of us are. Sharing high criticism like, “John, that was stupid,” or, “You are such an idiot.” I’ve even said recently, before I read this section, that that is how God talks to me because he speaks my language. So, I’m going to go ahead and call myself out. “John, that’s a lie. When you come to him with honest repentance, God doesn’t respond like that. Stop putting God in your shoes. Try stepping into his shoes filled with love for you.”
If you share my tendency, I issue you this 7-day challenge:
For the next week, listen to your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying something that doesn’t sound like God would say to you, hit the pause button. Restate the sentence how you believe he’d say it. And, just in case you can’t figure it out, ask him. This could be a classic “you have not because you ask not.” Go ahead. Call yourself out for some self-compassion.
Today is another big day in the life of Tom Brady. Just so happens, I came across an interview of him from last June on demand this afternoon. Seemed appropriate to check it out.
Regarding the outcomes of championships, he was asked two interesting questions: how high are the highs and how low are the lows. About the highs, he didn’t make any distinction from his different experiences of highs; they last the same. However, he answered differently about the lows. For example, when they lost the Super Bowl in 2007 he said his low lasted about a month. But when they lost last year to the Eagles, it was half the time, about two weeks. His explanation-stage of life. Last year he had his children to pay attention to, to help them understand what failure is and how to deal with it. Eleven years of personal development had shortened his low time (my paraphrase).
Trying to avoid the lows is like trying to avoid raindrops. Impossible. Failure happens. Disappointments come, some expected, some not. The opportunity we have is to choose how we respond to them.
I’ve noticed this myself. My lows have gotten shorter. The low in my 30s was almost twice as long as a low in my 40s. After that one, I determined to be more proactive in addressing my lows. I leaned into the verse about the sun not going down on your wrath (Ephesians 4:26) and looked at how that could apply to my lows. Interestingly, the lows continue to be shortened.
So what changed? What did I stop doing? What did I start doing? Here are a few things:
- I stopped being too concerned about what people wanted from me or could do for me..I started being more concerned about what God wanted for me and what I could do for people.
- I stopped allowing the decisions of others to determine my steps…I started listening more to the Holy Spirit to determine my steps.
- I stopped giving self talk free reign…I started admonishing myself based on what truth God had for me.
And my lows continue to shorten.
Want to shorten yours? Take some time and answer these two questions: 1)What do you need to stop? 2)What do you need to start?
What is IOS? No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Apple. However, you can see people battling it as often as you see Apple products. IOS is a syndrome you have dealt with sometime in your life. People suffer with it on social media, tv shows, in the board room, and at the family reunion. It would be nice if there were a pill or shot for it, but so far, no.
We’ve all dealt with it, particularly in our formative years. When you gave that first book report in 3rd grade, when you got your first job, when you picked your date up for prom-it was heavy. Some people overcome it quickly; others struggle with it all their lives. Overcoming IOS may be a process or could be a defining moment. I had a defining moment my junior year in college and another a few years later that seemed to loosen the grip of IOS. Regardless of its hold on someone, the reality of it being loosened is real and is possible.
This syndrome is Impressing Others Syndrome. Recognize it? Have you overcome it? If not, your self talk could be a solution. Most likely, your self talk is fear-based, maybe even lies you’ve been deceived to believe.
So how do we counter those lies, that fear? Overcoming IOS will take addressing it at its roots. Those roots of lies and fears should be countered by our identity and truth as God sees us. The challenge is very personal, testing what we believe and just how true our convictions are. Our self talk should be based on truths that strengthen us to defeat IOS. These three are a great start.
- “God loves Me.” He created me and made me who I am. Who I am includes my looks, my abilities, my personality. He knows my history. No one else knows me like he does. His love is unconditional, and my performance and choices do not change it.
- “The best motives are eternity-focused.” Checking our motives should be a constant priority. Satan loves to tempt us to be temporally motivated and thereby tell ourselves to focus on things that have little or no eternal worth. When you check this root of IOS, you may discover the main self talk to change.
- “I’m a work in progress.” This reality can be personally humbling and also critically diffusing. This also creates in us a teachable spirit which allows us to not live for approval as much as growth. That’s a big difference.
What are you telling yourself? Lies or truths? Fears or convictions? IOS’s grip can be loosened. Ask God for your best self-talking points and be free.