Archive for July, 2009

28
Jul
09

repentance

repent-cleanseWhat does it mean to repent? The dictionary defines the word this way: 1. to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life; 2 a. to feel regret or contrition; b. to change one’s mind. (merriam-webster.com) The Greek word for repent literally means “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.”

Here’s the problem; that means I have to admit that I was wrong. I love doing that, don’t you? (Can you hear the sarcasm dripping from that question?)

But, if the definitions above are accurate, repentance goes deeper than just admitting that I am wrong about something, it means “chang(ing my) mind.” That is as fundamental as it gets. When you start fooling around with the foundational presumptions about life it gets very personal, with lots of emotion, very quickly. After all, we have invested a lot of tradition, experience, and effort into forming our opinions and philosophies of life. Then something, or someone, comes along and challenges those basic assumptions and we are ready to fight to the death, figuratively speaking, rather than consider for one moment the possibility that we might be wrong and need to change direction.

Could that be why Paul said, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2) The underlying premise is that in order to truly repent we have to submit to a process of education – or maybe re-education.

(I can hear the groans from here.) “You mean you want me to think? Does that mean I have to read a book? Attend a Bible study? Develop a deliberate plan of personal Bible study and application?” Yes! If the definitions given above are accurate, then repentance is more than feelings of regret or remorse. It is deliberately changing your behaviors. The only way that is going to happen is to change the way that you think which will result in a reorientation of your priorities and core values which will, in turn, manifest itself in the way that you act.

Advertisements
21
Jul
09

when i was a child

Dec.14-26-06 139 Do you remember what it was like to be a child on Christmas morning? Do you remember the excitement you felt when you came into the family room and saw all of the presents under the tree? What about the sheer joy of finally holding that new doll or fire truck?

Do you remember ever stopping to consider how much all this was costing? (The sound of screeching brakes seems to be appropriate here.) Do you remember thinking, “This is going to take Mom and Dad until April to pay off, just as long as the washing machine can limp along until then.”

Whether we like it or not, things change. There comes a point when we all realize that everything has a cost.

I’m not trying to be a kill joy. I still look for opportunities to be thrilled. I still want to experience those moments of wide-eyed wonderment that seem to become more and more elusive.

Does that mean I want to go back and be a child again? That depends on what you mean. If you are asking if I want to rid myself of the cynicism that tries to invade so many areas of adult life, then absolutely! I think that is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

However, if you are asking me if I want to abdicate the freedom that I have as an adult and the responsibility that goes along with it, then absolutely not! The joys of personal development, meaningful relationships, and creative productivity cannot be experienced without failure, conflict, and hard work. What that means is we must accept the responsibility for our own lives. That’s what being an adult is all about. We cannot legitimately exercise free will without accepting the responsibility of our choices. As the proverb goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it to.” Being an adult means accepting the responsibility for our spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual development which, impacts every part of our life: relationships, finances, productivity… everything. Paul reminds us of this responsibility when he said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

14
Jul
09

The B-I-B-L-E

hand-old-bible-web-744575Charles Spurgeon once said, “The Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to the person who’s life is not.”

A lot of us grew up singing, “The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me.” But it seems as if many of us never got past the basic Bible stories and a few memory verses.

Let me explain what I mean this way. I am really bad at reading instruction manuals. I love it when a new gadget comes with one of those quick reference guides that tell me the “Ten Things I Need To Get Started.” I figure those ten things are all I’ll need and if there is anything else I want to know I can always pull the reference guide out later when I have more time. Yeah, right! I never seem to have more time, do you? And then I’ll meet up with someone who has the same gizmo that I have and they’ll do something really cool with it that saves time or simplifies a process that I have to perform all the time. I end up looking ignorant because I had all this technology that could make my life simpler and I never knew it because I didn’t take the time to read the owner’s manual. What a waste!

And yet many of us do the same thing with the Bible. Along the way we have picked up a few highlights here and there, but we never have allowed the living Word of God to speak to the whole of our lives. And as a result, we continue to struggle with the same issues. We continue to fall into the same destructive behaviors. We make the same bad decisions repeatedly. And we can never figure out why there are people around us who are so “lucky” because they are being more successful than we are in some area of life. All the while we have access to the “owner’s manual” for life -the Bible- and we never take the time to go beyond those basic stories and memory verses that I mentioned earlier. What a bigger waste!

Make the time. Read your Bible. Get involved in a regular Bible Study. Read a commentary. Interact with people who are doing these things and watch your life be transformed!

08
Jul
09

rebel just because

rebelcauseI have found myself in the midst of real inner turmoil in the last few years as I have sought to pursue the things of God more purposefully. It came up again last week while I was away for a few days. I was standing in a gift shop looking at tee shirts and one stood out. I reached to pick it up, but something stopped me. The slogan on the shirt had the word “rebel” in it.

Don’t misunderstand, the word describes me perfectly. I am a rebel through and through. I like doing things my own way. I don’t like being told what to do. I live to stand out from the crowd. And I don’t like conforming to any herd mentality.

So what’s the problem with a tee shirt? Romans 13:2 says, “So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” It all started back in the Garden-Adam was the first rebel without a cause-and it has been going on ever sense. We all are subject to the condition in lessor or greater ways. But if our goal is to identify with Jesus Christ, to truly be like him, then we must fight the nature within us and bring our will under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must resist the desire to “have it our way” and constantly pursue the will of God in our lives. That’s why, in teaching the disciples to pray, Jesus told them to make this request of the Father, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.