Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

We tend to view 2Chronicles 7:14 (If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear…) as a call to prayer, when it’s actually a call to repentance.

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A Prayer of Repentance

Gracious Heavenly Father

In Your mercy, Come!

Come and rescue Your people once again


Forgive us Lord for our complacency and arrogance

For believing that our technology would somehow keep us safe

And for being partakers of our own selfish nature rather than Your divine nature

For believing that we were the exception to the lessons of all human history

And for imagining that we could build a Utopian society without You


Forgive us Lord for seeking Your hand instead of Your face


For believing that we could change men’s hearts with our words instead of Yours

And for assuming we could contrive an authentic form of justice without Your involvement

For choosing our own “righteous indignation” over Your righteousness

And for being more concerned with making our point than with representing Your heart


Forgive us Lord for investing our identities in things other than being Your children


For having more faith in the power of our minds than in the power of Your Spirit

And for using our pain as an excuse to hurt others

For being more concerned with our prosperity than with Your Kingdom

And for loving our opinions more than our neighbors


God help us, as You are gracious to do

You are our only hope

Apart from You, we can do nothing


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Jesus did not publicly shame, threaten, or otherwise coerce people to come to repentance, which is why our efforts to do so “in Jesus name” only serve to drive them away from Him.  The good news of the gospel is not the judgement to come, it is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and that this amazing grace is still available today.

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On this side of eternity, there is a battle that goes on every day of our lives, and if we do not discern it, we can quietly live an existence of turmoil and defeat.  It begins with our first thought of the day, which sets the tone for everything that follows it.  And while the objective of this war is ultimately the fidelity of our hearts, the battle itself is most commonly waged upon the fertile ground of our minds.  Even if the enemy never successfully wrestles away our allegiance, succumbing to this daily struggle can drastically impact the fruit produced by our lives.  When Jesus spoke of the greatest commandment, He not only told us to love God with all of our heart and soul, He instructed us to love Him with “all” of our mind.  But what does that really look like?


First and foremost, our journey with God must begin with a change of mind, which is commonly referred to within the scripture as “repentance”.  The book of Proverbs says that as a man thinks, so is he (23:7); therefore, when we surrender our lives to the Lord, our ways of thinking must also be placed on the altar.  We can no longer be conformed to the patterns of this world, and we need to allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2).  It is not simply resisting “evil” thoughts, and having “good” ones.  The Apostle Paul warns that those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. He adds that the mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom 8:5).  Similarly, the book of James (1:8) warns us that we cannot have it both ways, as a double-minded man is unstable in everything he does.


While those words are clearly ripe with implication, how to apply them may not always be obvious.  Thankfully, the scripture gets very practical on this matter.  It tells us that we shouldn’t allow our minds to be consumed with earthly things (Phil 3:19, Col 3:2), or to let our hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:27), or even to worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:34).  It says that because “seen” things (i.e. natural) are perishing, we need to stay focused on “unseen” things (i.e. spiritual), which are eternal (2Cor. 4:18); and that we need to fix our attention on the person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:2).  In a more general way, it tells us to look for those things which are noble, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, and praiseworthy; and to set our minds on them (Phil 4:8).


The Bible acknowledges that all of this won’t come easy.  While it concedes that we will have to take “every thought captive”, it also assures us that through the power of God’s Spirit, we can demolish every argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of who He is (2 Cor. 10:5), and that by carrying our concerns to Him in prayer, we can experience a peace that will further guard our hearts and minds (Phil 4:6-7).


This picture stands in stark contrast to the paradigm of our culture, which encourages us to open our minds (including our imaginations) to every possibility, and to lend equal weight to every viewpoint.  The scripture warns us to “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition, and the elemental spiritual forces of this world, rather than on Christ (Col. 2:8)”.  But that guidance is challenging, especially in an age when our senses are relentlessly bombarded with images, ideas, opinions agendas…  Readily drinking these things into our soul is akin to swallowing untreated water from the river; it is bound to make our hearts and minds sick.


I would suggest that upon hearing news of break-ins around our neighborhood, most of us would consider taking additional steps toward keeping our home secure.  And so it should be with our minds.  If we consistently battle anxious thoughts, or find ourselves mired in the hurts of the past, or are consumed with fear about what the future holds, or recognize that our outlook has become overwhelmingly negative, or are filled with animosity toward other people, or catch ourselves wondering whether God & His promises are even real, maybe it’s time to call on the Holy Spirit and to invite Him to become the new filtration system for what flows in and out of our minds.

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Genuine repentance needs to be more than simply deciding to take an alternate path; it ultimately needs to be like a military coup.  It should result in a radical overthrow of the existing authority in our lives and the formation of a new government* going forward. Without such a change in command, our new road is likely to bring us back to the same destination.


* This is my articulation of a concept introduced to me by my dear friend and mentor, Don Atkin.

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