What does real repentance look like?

Jesus cried out, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

A couple of years ago I posted on Facebook a question about the Greek word translated “repentance.” (It’s metanoia and its variants.) Yes, I admit, it took me a long time to get back to all the links and ideas people sent me, but here I am again, studying repentance.

It’s because three things happened at about the same time. First, I was praying for pastors and other Christian leaders (the ones who have treated and counseled sexual abuse survivors as if they were pariahs) to repent about their wrongdoing. Second, I’ve been praying for revival for a long time, and in the context of that, having a discussion with a Christian leader about whether or not repentance is necessary for salvation. Third, I’ve been studying II Corinthians, where Paul talks about repentance in chapter 7.

I always used to hear repentance being taught as a change of mind. That very sterile, academic definition vaguely dissatisfied me. It seemed to accompany the academic, intellectual acceptance of Christ embodied in the “sinner’s prayer.” Continue reading “What does real repentance look like?”

How can I give grace?

I can’t.

I don’t mean I’m incapable unless God helps me. I mean, giving grace is a prerogative of God alone. I have no part in it.

It’s popular now to talk about how we need to give grace to others, but the way people are using the word—meaning forgiveness and kindness and love—diminishes the meaning of the remarkable word “grace” until it loses the vital meaning it should have.

grace

Continue reading “How can I give grace?”

It’s HARD Living by the List

The book of Romans . . . I printed it out so that I could highlight sections and color code words and draw arrows and fill the margins with question marks and write cross references and draw pictures of stick figures . . . When I was studying through it, then—asking the Lord to make the book fresh to me, to strip away preconceived notions of what everything “had to mean,” and show me what it really meant-—it was then that many important Christian Life truths throughout the book began to crystallize. And I began to understand that Paul was refuting the concept of Living by the List. And he was describing three . . . no, it was four . . . reactions to it. This was immensely important to me, because I grew up Living by the List. Continue reading “It’s HARD Living by the List”

“If you died tonight, what would you say to God to get Him to let you into His heaven?”

I had opened the front door to find two women standing there. I think they may have introduced themselves, and possibly told what church they represented. But then one of them said this line. This memorized line.

My first thought? What a confrontational thing to say!

My second thought? This is what it feels like to be on the other side of the door. Continue reading ““If you died tonight, what would you say to God to get Him to let you into His heaven?””

On holiness and human waste

Do you think your verbal expressions are justified? You rather enjoy the inadvertent blush of some less-trendy peers or the blanch of the older generation? And of course you have strong feelings, so you need strong expressions to express them.

And this is part of our freedom in Christ, isn’t it? And after all, these are only words.

They’re only words. That’s what I was told by my eighth-grade teacher when I spoke to her about the profanities being uttered all around me. Only words. Continue reading “On holiness and human waste”

The trump card of Romans 7

It happens all the time. It happened to my daughter not long ago. She was in a group of young people having a devotional Bible study, she mentioned a Scripture about how Christians can live in victory, probably referencing something along the lines of Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”), and the response she received came back as “Well, yes, BUT . . .”

Romans 7. Continue reading “The trump card of Romans 7”