Rhythms of Repentance

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Well, we are officially into this new year – into 2018. Our Christmas trees are down and long forgotten (Can you believe it was only a month ago that we were celebrating Christmas!?); we are making reservations for Valentines dates and Spring Break vacations. Woohoo! We have enjoyed snow and now we are over snow and we are ready for skirts and sandals and sun sun sun.

If you’ve been following along, we’ve written our obituary and we’ve written our resolutions. This month hopefully you and me were able to establish a few rhythms into our daily life to accomplish our big resolutions and to live like we only have this one life. The thing is, throughout the last thirty days, we have either subjected ourselves to the “pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment”*… depending on if we chose to stick to what we wrote down in the first place.

I hope that you resolved this year to practice repentance, and then included it into the rhythm of your day. I hope this because repentance is the sort of thing that matters a lot and the sort of action that we really need to begin with.

I shared with you that one of my resolutions this year is to read well, and that I am reading through the Bible in a year.

With thoughts of repentance and the desire to live into the the life Christ has given me in new ways this year, I was reading Matthew 4 and this is what the Word says :

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – verse 17*

This is Jesus’ message, the first thing He says as He begins His early ministry – He commands all who can hear Him to repent. Turn from yourself and your sin and make the full turn to Jesus. Why? He says “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (or, here).” The Kingdom of Heaven! is the reason and motivation that Jesus gives. The Kingdom of Heaven is to stir our heart’s affections, to cause our eyes to glance His way, to seek His Kingdom, to fix our eyes on Jesus. To live this way – to live seeking and seeing the Kingdom – we have got to repent.

The Kingdom of heaven is life and love and inclusion and satisfaction and being with our Creator and Savior forever. It’s all of our heart’s desires met in one place, in The One, and it’s for all who believe in Him. Heaven is for all who repent.

When we begin to practice repentance we get to enjoy foretastes of His Kingdom – of love and peace and rest and delight and life, abundant life.

So, how? How do we turn?

Well. for me –

When I realize I don’t remember His words, I repent.

When I notice I am forging through, shouldering my way to success with my own methods and ideas and what-should-works; When I notice I am not relying on Him, I repent.

When I drop the ball, drop responsibility, I repent.

When I damage relationship, I repent.

When I destroy an hour with waste and wanton, I repent and beg that He redeem the time.

When I get set in my own ways, I ask for a re-set.

When I feel like I’ve returned to my old ways, I repent. He renews.

When I am un-reason-able, I ask He make me able to reason.

Have you thought about the fact that every time you try to save face you are tripping over Grace? Did you know when we turn back from our sin and we turn to Him, He’s already right there? We run right into Him, right into His arms, right into His love, and He rights us. He’s come for us with His Cross and His resurrection and at the very moment you turn, He’s there time and time and time again. For you, and for me, and for all who believe. He gives us Grace and He saves our face, our very lives.*

When we forget, God remembers. He comes and re-members us.*

When we remove ourselves from Him, He comes and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.*

When we’ve freaking lost it, He radically comes and finds us.*

This is the. good. news. A new year and a new set of resolutions is Not. But, the message that Jesus came and Jesus preached “Repent!” because the Kingdom of God is here Is. The reality that the Kingdom of God can be experienced just a little bit on this side of the sun is the good news for our souls. The fact that one day when this whole thing is over, and we are on the other side of the sun, those who believe are gonna live in His Home with Him forever; this is the good news for you and me. And girl — get this. To get it, to come in, to live in this real-new, all you have to do is repent.

This is good news. This is your new life.

*Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life / Matthew 4:17, ESV / There is a children’s book entitled Because I Love You by Max Lucado that tells a story about a Maker who builds a wall to protect his children, but includes a hole to provide His children the choice to love him. When one of his children climbs through the hole, past His presence, He immediately begins the rescue. This is God our Maker and Jesus our Savior and we are that child who has climbed out of His protection, and He comes to save us. / Psalm 103:12 / Matthew 18:12-14

a resolution to read

Reading is one of the three R’s of new year’s resolutions and I have noticed there are quite a few people who are committed to reading a few books this year – everyone is sharing their lists! I notice because I love to see a good book list, and because I am a reader myself.

Ever since I was a little girl, if  I wasn’t outside playing, I was inside, on my bed, with a good book in hand. Nancy Drew and Babysitter’s Club gave way to Max Lucado and then Elisabeth Elliot.

College was full of books that still fill our book shelves and my list on amazon “to read” is quite. long.

I tell people that I read like some people run. I have conditioned myself to read a lot of books over a short period of time. I like to read capital G “good” books and that often means non-fiction Christian. I do love good literature but right now in this learning+growing season of life I just cut to the chase with the books that present flat out propositional truths. Capital T “truth.”

I don’t typically start the year with a year-long list, that seems crazy to me… but as friends recommend books, as I come across one book in another, I add the title to the “to read” list, and ask the Lord what I should read next. and with whom. Often times I am reading “this book with her” and “that book with these girls” and these couple on my own.

However, I did start this year with a pile in mind, one I thought connected the themes of life that were filling my thoughts – on growing, living brave, and getting to the good work the Lord has prepared for me. 

Before I share my January book list with you and how I go about reading through the pile, I want to list a few considerations concerning reading.

I said I’ve noticed people sharing their book lists. and I am gonna join in on the fun and share mine, too. But here’s the thing – reading is not the thing. books are not IT. With that made clear here are some consideration…

  1. If you’re gonna read any book, read The Book of books. Read the Bible. If you read a bunch of others but neglect this one, the others don’t matter. THIS is the book that matters. These Words are truth and life. This is the book you can build your life on; you can completely recommend to anyone and everyone. This is THE book. Read it.
  2. If you’re gonna read some other books – before you begin, answer these “why’s” and repent when you realize that “yep, I’m reading for all of the wrong reasons
  3. Funny enough even something as wholesome as reading can be messed up by sin. One way is you reading for all the wrong reasons. The other way is by a bad book. Don’t read bad books. Now, if you read point one and you think – well the Bible is full of awful stories with terrible characters, what of that!? Remember this – the protagonist in scripture is Jesus and right and wrong are correctly understood; the antagonist is actually bad, and the story is True and points you to Truth. Plus, scripture is well written. It’s high literature. Think through this sort of lens when you are determining if a book is good or bad. And then with a repentant, righted heart, read good books.
  4. Once you’ve gotten yourself into the practice of reading the Bible, once you’ve repented and now you’re on the way to reading 📖 well and good books, – which by the way, I’m writing this in list form, but of course the experience of it all sort of may swirl around – repenting and reading and righting all mingling together – I would love to share with you the books on my January list
  5. I would also love to know A. what you’re reading and B. If you’ve read any/all of the books on my list, what you think about them. I mean maybe you have another suggestion or perhaps a helpful critique of one of them (my list isn’t “ultimate” you know 😉
  6. Here’s my January Book List
  • bible with a year long bible reading plan
  • Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
  • Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
  • Falling Free by Shannan Martin
  • Unseen by Sara Hagerty
  • The Peace Maker by Kevin Sande

Have you read any of these? Thoughts? Which one do you want to add to your book list? And, what books do you currently have on your list? I want to hear from you 💙💙💙💙

Like I said, I read like some other people run. I read a lot. I read at a steady pace and lap through each book. I am going to leave the running analogy now because – I don’t run. I chose these books because most of them were sitting on my shelf already, not-yet-read, and that in and of itself is enough motivation for me.

To get through the books this month, with the exception of the bible which will take the entire year, I simply read one page at a time. Often. I started with Capital Gaines because I thought it would be a quick, easy, non-life.changing but still encouraging read, and I was wrong for the most part (it was a quick read.)

*Full disclosure – I read Capital Gaines before the month of January began, but didn’t plan to, and had it on my January list, which is where it stayed. So, feel some relief, if you need to.

Then I moved on to the book Unseen because even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, I was gifted it, my sister said she loved it, then another good friend pulled it out of her bag and asked me if I had read this book… and I felt like maybe I just should! So I did. It was so good. I know it took her so much more time to write this book than for me to read it, … which is like any book,… and part of me wants to go back through it slowly so that Sara can know how much I truly appreciate the work she put in and the heart she poured out. I am still sifting through the message of the book and hope to share a cup of coffee with the friend who gave me the book in the first place.

Now I am in the middle – literally – of Falling Free, a book I purchased as my sister was still lauding it, but it took me a few months to start. I am so glad I did now and I am sad I didn’t sooner. It is a hilarious, hard to hear, hurts real good book. You should read it. I told another friend it’s sort of like a girl’s Radical by David Platt. See what you think 😉

My sisters and I are reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. Let me tell you, when I first saw the title of this book. I was IMMEDIATELY completely PUT OFF by the title. I still feel a lingering tinge of “ew” towards it. But one I realized Sally was in her sixties and hopefully not too affected by our culture’s god-of-this-air named Productivity I felt a little bit better. Then, so many friends recommended it, I thought… ok. I can at least skim it. Plus, with my sisters whatever is always better. I wanted to FLY through this book, but my sisters want to sit in it, so I have paused around chapter four.

I have yet to start The Peacemaker, but plan to by the beginning of next week.

If I don’t finish the January list, the books roll on over to February, where my list is shorter. March doesn’t have a list yet, and would like one, so your suggestions are welcome!

(links for the books : BibleCapital Gaines / Unseen / Falling Free / The Peacemaker / Own Your Life) PS when I was inserting the links to purchase these books from amazon, I noticed that each one of them are considerably less money than I remember them being a couple of weeks ago. So, seize the day! and buy the book!