Our Neighbor’s Cries: They Keep on Passin’ Us By

silenceI walk into the dimly-lit Downtown Fresno restaurant and immediately sense the sorrow. The grieving. Another black man shot and killed at the hands of a police officer (R.I.P. #terencecrutcher).

I listen intently to the owners, two friendly and intelligent Black-businessmen, expressing their pain and anger towards a justice system that seemingly doesn’t care.

“They won’t even see a court room—watch. They’ll reward them with paid administrative leave” (note: Officer Betty Shelby has, at the time of writing, been placed on paid administrative leave).

The next day I drive ten miles North of Downtown Fresno, stopping at a local Starbucks in River Park, overhearing various conversations concerning everything from the latest iPhone 7 release, to how the landscaping company didn’t “get it right the first time.”

Scattered among those conversations were socio-political rhetoric concerning Kaepernick, and how the San Francisco 49ers franchise should be boycotted altogether. How, what Kaepernick was doing (read more here), was a slap in the face to American freedom, and those who fought and died for it (a statement which, in and of itself, is self-defeating to the very ideology of “freedom”).

As I’m leaving Starbucks, I find myself acutely aware that no one in the northernmost parts of Fresno seemed to know what was happening in Tulsa. Let alone care.

In fact, I hung out around white evangelicals all day, and not a word of the atrocity that happened in Tulsa was spoken.

Not a whisper.

While the cries of pain from our Black brothers and sisters grows louder, and clearer, the silence of our people grows quieter.

Not that we  are quiet. By no means. We’re just selective as to what we speak up about.

When it comes to battling against the legality of abortion, we speak up.

When it comes to denouncing same-sex marriages, we speak up.

When it comes to exposing and correcting false doctrine, we speak up.

When it comes to nationalistic fervor, and decrying the actions of Kaepernick, and others, we speak up.

But when it comes to the acts of injustices against men and women of color: we remain silent.

Hip-hop artist LeCrae Moore captures the essence of the issue when he boldly exclaims:

            Take a knee… people riot.

            Take a bullet… people quiet.

In Luke 10, Jesus answers the hostile questioning of a lawyer, who was attempting to trap Jesus into some sort of permissible loophole within the law of love that requires that you “love your neighbor as yourself.”

“And who is my neighbor,” the lawyer asks.

Jesus answers the lawyer’s question, despite the apparent insincerity of the man, by telling a parable.

A man gets robbed and left for dead along a road to Jericho.

Two men. A priest, and a Levite (helped police the Temple) see the man, bleeding and almost breathless, and they do not stop, and they do not ask if he is alright or in need of help.

What do they do, you ask?

They pass by.

And that’s the problem.

That’s the problem of the religious leaders that Jesus begins to address: they just pass by.

They’ll get in an uproar over a healing on the Sabbath, or they’ll uphold the letter of the Law over the spirit of the Law.

They’ll pay their tithes, and they’ll roll to the synagogue daily to “worship” God, while “[neglecting] justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42).

But true love requires more. It doesn’t just “pass by.”

True love is willing to heal on the Sabbath. True love is willing to risk being thought of as “unclean,” in order to serve the needs of someone else.

True love requires that we quit passing by the injustices of our day, and begin to stop and listen to the cries and the concerns of those around us. Our neighbors.

Love pushes us to go beyond what we perceive or presuppose, and empowers us to lay aside our preferences and our biases for the sake of others. Our neighbors.

And right now the black community is grieving. Right now, our neighbors are grieving.

Will we pass by, going about the busyness of our lives, while ignoring the burdens of others?

Or will we stop, listen, lend a hand, and learn to love beyond our own self-centeredness?

 

NOTE: I realize that there are some white evangelicals who are speaking to these issues, and who are leveraging their resources against the injustices of our day. However, as a white man, I’ve found, at least in the city of Fresno, that white-evangelicalism is still, by and large, very much silent.

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Hey, Christian: Ditch the Car and Take the Bus

maxresdefaultSince your reading this, I assume you were intrigued enough to find out what sort of rant I’m on now. “Surely he isn’t saying that Christians should get rid of their cars,” you say. Of course I’m not. But I am saying that you should ditch your car once in a while and discover the joys of public transportation.

We live in a happy-meal society that tends to want everything quick and easy. We’re always aiming for what’s more efficient.

So, you hop in your car and head for work in the morning, taking the freeway to avoid stopping at every red light that just seems to be waiting for you to show up. Then you punch-out from your 9-to-5, get back into your car, head home, eat dinner with the family, and then kick your feet up to watch the evening edition of SportsCenter.

Or maybe you’re the Christian who attends every church service, hosts a community group, and can always be found studying the Puritans at the local Christian-owned coffee shop.

So, what’s the problem, you ask? Nothing, if you enjoy existing in your own little homogenous community. But, if you wish to be faithful to tell the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make disciples, that’s going to require venturing to the other side of the tracks, where Cross-necklaces and fish-tattoos are virtually non-existent.

Recently, I decided that I was going to occasionally start taking the bus to work. In doing so, I have rediscovered my fondness for public transportation and am reminded of, at least, three reasons why taking the bus—especially for Christians, and anyone in some sort of ministerial role—is a must:

1. Able to Meet People Who Aren’t Like You

It’s true. If you ride your local city bus, you’re going to meet people who do not believe what you believe, think the way that you think, or look the way that you look. This can serve as an incredible opportunity to catch a glimpse of reality—outside of the realm of Christendom.

2. Raises Your Cultural Awareness

The more time you spend out of the world, the more removed you are from the world’s struggles, and the less compassionate you become. I find that as I enter in to conversations with people who are as screwed up—or worse—as I was, back in the day, the more I am reminded of God’s incredible grace in my own life. Such a thing compels me to want to learn more about others, in light of God’s own love for me.

It’s easy to say that the “problem is sin” (though it certainly is), yet have not a clue as to how or why any one particular sin manifests itself within a given context. We must learn to become “all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22 ESV). It’s not about compromise; it’s about concerning ourselves with God’s own concern for His glory, and the salvation of the world. And sometimes, that means laying aside our own preferences and presuppositions for the sake of others.

3. Creates Opportunity to Share the Gospel

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a guy in his twenties and somehow my occupation came up (I’m an IT professional). This led to me being able to share my life journey, including the way in which God saved me. He then opened up to me, telling me about how he had wasted his life on drugs (addicted to Oxycodone), and had now been clean for six months. I prayed with him, and for him, that God would make him alive, together with Christ, and we parted ways. Who knows, I may see him at church this Sunday!

The point is, how can we proclaim the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ if we do not position ourselves in a place to do so?

Let’s be intentional.

After all, God was intentional when He sent His Son to live among us, to teach us, and to die for us, despite His disdain and deep hatred for sin and evil. Imagine how He felt being around people like us, who spit in His face daily through the way that we live? (And yet we have the audacity to get undone in the presence of “sinners”).

Let us go, in love, like Christ, and do likewise. Don’t be afraid, just ride the bus!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m not saying that this is the only way to accomplish what I’ve laid out, I’m only merely pointing out what an incredible means the public transportation system can be to further the cause of Christ, and, if nothing else, enjoy some good conversation with people outside of your own comfort zone. 

It’s Not About Social Justice

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My wife and I are like any other married couple; we’ve got issues. Those issues, if not taken care of, hinder us from growing in our relationship with one another. When my wife confronts me about my anger or my pride, her motivation stems from a desire to grow closer to me, not necessarily just for the sake of me repenting so we can go about our own peaceful, separate ways.

She wants to be reconciled, but my behavior keeps reconciliation and growth from happening.

Similarly, God has also been motivated by His love and desire to reconcile us to Himself. After all, “for God so loved the world, that He sent His Son” to bear the burden of punishment for our sin against Him. Yes, God’s justice demanded that we (or Somebody) pay for such a cosmic rebellion; however, God’s love provided for us a way out of eternal damnation, and a way back to the Garden, and into the presence of God. Indeed, this was God’s motivation: to reconcile the world to Himself, so that He would be our God, and we would be His people, and he would dwell with us (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12 Jeremiah 30:22, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Revelation 21). He did so, because He loves us.

When God gave His covenant community Israel the Ten Commandments, as recorded in Deuteronomy 5:7-21, He began in verse 6 by declaring that “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” God establishes His relationship with His covenant people as a motivation for obedience. He did so because disobedience disrupts our relationship with God. Likewise, our disobedience and sinfulness towards one another disrupts our ability to reconcile, as called through the Gospel of Christ, and outlined in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation. God calls us to be motivated by His own example of love for us, despite our flaws and failings, to love others also, irrespective of any wrongdoings.

After all, God pursued each and every one of us, prior to our own acknowledgment of indwelling sinfulness, and even the recognition of our own need for reconciliation to God.

If our motivation for confronting the sins of others ends at others ceasing from sinning against us, then we’ve stopped short of what the Gospel is all about—that is, reconciliation.

With all of the talks addressing social injustices, I can’t help but wonder what our real motivation is. Do we desire to combat societal ills for the sake of maintaining our own peaceful little exclusive communities, or, do we, like God, desire to be reconciled to one another and view issues such as classism and racism as impediments to Gospel-centered reconciliation?

Are we seeking to raise our voices and stake our claims in the battle against injustice, as if we can some how earn our way into the Do-Gooders Hall of Fame?

It’s not about social justice. Social justice is merely a means towards reconciliation, similar to how our reconciliation with God would not have been possible, had not justice been satisfied through Christ becoming the propitiation for our sins. But justice is not the end-all. The motivating factor behind it all, at least between God and us, is love and a desire to be reconciled. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

 

When Gospel-centered reconciliation through love is not at the heart of our motivations, then we remain an irreconcilable people, filled with hatred and bitterness towards one another, masked in the form of “social justice.” Churches rise up against churches, cultures against cultures, overcome by pride and self-seeking agendas. Neither parties willing to set aside self for the sake of listening to one another, forgiving one another, and moving towards the beauty of inclusive community.

If reconciliation is not our end-goal, then we are not reflecting the image of our Maker (Col. 3:11-15).

If we, as the church, truly desire to see the end of social injustice, we must first, and foremost, understand that our eschatological hope must remain in Christ, without whom such an achievement would be impossible.

Secondly, we must be motivated by the same selfless, sacrificial, take-a-loogie-to-the-face sort of love that Christ loved us with—and died for us for.

Such a love will be willing to listen, to understand that it is not always about being understood, and that cultural intelligence and empathy needs to go both ways.

Sure, we want people to understand us, and what we are going through, but are we taking the time to understand them?

We must acknowledge the existence and sensitivity of issues such as systemic racism, and be willing to admit, like Andy Mineo, “my own people, owned people, but they won’t own that” (from the song Uncomfortable).

At the same time, we must also, from all sides of the spectrum, agree that the grace of God is greater than even the sin of racism, and therefore forgiveness for one another for the sake of reconciliation must not be out of range.

Recently, I was deeply convicted by my bitterness toward “conservative evangelicals.” Though somewhat theologically aligned, I constantly felt as if I did not fit in, and that they did not understand where I came from, nor even cared.

I was an “other.”

But it goes both ways, as I was just as guilty in judging them as I perceived them to be judging me.

It took a willingness on my part, and the love of Christ, to allow me to press in, and learn to humble myself through setting aside my cultural presuppositions in order to genuinely pursue relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, despite our differences.

I’m glad I did.

In doing so, not only have my relationships with believers and unbelievers alike, improved across the board, but also I’ve learned a lot about my own identity, and have found great security and solace in Christ.

My prayer, for us all, is that we would be compelled by the love of God to love others, and so much as it depends upon us, seek in every way possible to understand and be reconciled to one another.

In the end, love alleviates injustice.

 

Farewell Southern Seminary: A Bitter Departure Home, Sweet Home

maxresdefaultBitter sweet. As cliché as that may sound, it’s the only way I know how to describe what I am feeling.

One year ago, my family and I left everything, including those closest to us, in California, and headed for Louisville, Kentucky. Admittedly, I was as giddy as a Toys ‘R’ Us kid on a mega-shopping-spree. I was in theological heaven, and I was determined to learn from some of the greatest evangelical minds of our day.

But God…

During our time with Southern, I suddenly and progressively began experiencing a deeper awareness of my own spiritual stagnancy. As close as I felt to God in my mind, I was even further away from Him in my heart.

I began to notice how I had slid downward on a spiral of isolation and prayerlessness. It’s almost as if, for the last few years, I’ve had an Elijah experience on repeat:

“And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” – 1 Kings 19:4

The problem was, unlike Elijah, I had failed to allow the angels of God to minister to me, to nourish me and rejuvenate my soul.

Rather than face all of my past fears and failures, and take ownership of them, I suppressed them and avoided them, hoping to move on to a greater spiritual awakening. But only, I didn’t know how. I was stuck between the wall of my past, and the wall of my present.

I desired to be a better husband, a better father, and a better disciple, but avoided the relational intimacy that each of those roles require. Sure, I could play the extrovert, and have you believing that I was good at this whole “relationship” thing. But that could not be further from the truth.

The truth is, I suck at relationships. I tend to be whom you want me to be, in the moment, so as to advance my own agenda.

So, why did I go to Southern Seminary?

I do feel called to the pastorate. To preach and teach the Word of God and see others come alive, together with Christ. I knew that Southern Seminary provided top-notch theological education, and so that is where I was determined to go.

Amidst my short time here at Southern, however, I’ve learned far more than any classroom could provide. I look around and see brothers who are not only passionate about the Gospel, but brothers who are passionate about biblical manhood.

I look around and see the time and the sacrifices that they have made for their wives, and sons, and daughters—how they love them with the love of Christ—and can’t help but notice how it all points back to the love of our Father who is in Heaven. I sat through chapel services and heard some of the greatest preachers I’ve ever heard, humbly proclaim a crucified Christ, and God’s sacrificial love for us.

Conviction began to set in, and I couldn’t help but to feel as if I was not being the father I ought to be. What was I doing here, in Louisville, while my children were growing up without me, 2000 miles away?

Suppose I graduate with my Master of Divinity, and go on to plant a budding church, or step into a pastorate at some mega-church along the Bible Belt down South. What would I have gained if my children had grown up bitter towards Father God because their only connection to Him was through their own father, who had abandoned them for the sake of “ministry”?

My family is my first ministryHow can I evangelize and disciple my children if I am ever so absent from their lives?

It is not a matter of being in the wrong or being in the right, it is a matter of being in Christ, and becoming who God has created me to be. God has created me to be a husband, a father, and a son. How could I ever honor God through the pastorate, if I fail to honor God in my marriage and in my relationship with my children?

So, I received a job offer in Fresno, the city where my children reside. Sure the cost of living is higher. Sure I’d be leaving one of the greatest seminaries in the world.

But, it is one of the greatest seminaries in the world that God has used to bring me to this very conclusion: I need to love and lay down my life for my family and friends in the same way that God has done for me.

I need to meet my kids where they are at so that they will understand the God I serve, and His great love for us.

Though we will deeply miss the church that we have grown to love, the work—here at Southern—that I feel serves the greater cause of Christ, and the friends that we have come to know, God has used Southern Seminary to prepare us for such a time as this.

Farewell, friends, at Southern, and thank you for the light you shine. We are forever grateful for the work you do.

With that said, we’re going back to Cali.

I’d Bake Them a Cake, and Eat Some Too: Religious Freedom, Gay Rights, and the Man in the Middle

635635829040203317-2-ReligiousFreedomThere’s been a lot of fuss surrounding Indiana’s recent enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Following the legislation, liberals and progressives came out of the woodworks to go toe-to-toe with conservatives—especially conservative evangelicals. Rallying around the call for tolerance—which is a two-way street, by the way—liberals cite Christians as supporting such laws for the sole purpose of combating the LGBT community and same-sex marriage initiative. My first reaction was that of a man caught in the middle; compelled by love, but captive to the inspired and authoritative word of God.

To set the record straight, I am convinced that homosexuality is a sin, and separates us from God, much like any other sin, including that of pride, adultery, idolatry, and gossip. Sin is sin, and ultimately results in eternal separation from the God who created us to know Him and to be known by Him (Isa. 59:2, Rom. 5:12; 6:23). We are created in His image (Gen. 1:26-28), and marriage, according to His image, is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:23-25). Clearly, the language of God’s Word provides gender distinctiveness to highlight the very uniqueness of God’s image. Any relational union apart from God’s intended design is a deviation from His creative purposes and, ergo, a distorted and disorderly representation of God Himself (Rom. 1:22-23; 3:23). Furthermore, over 2,000 years of church history affirms our contemporary understanding that homosexuality is a sin that has never been acceptable among believers (and, more often than not, most cultures).

Since we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me go on to say that I believe that evangelicals do tend to place an unhealthy emphasis on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, without reiterating the detriment of other sinful behaviors as well. True, the reason that homosexuality is often pointed out is because it seems to be one of the only sins that has been popularized as “normal” and “okay,” while other sins are clearly condemned by believers and unbelievers alike. Even among gay couples, adultery and lying and murder are all considered to be wrong, while, homosexuality, is not. This is why Paul pinpoints homosexuality—commonly referred to as “unnatural”—as the supreme example of self-worship and godlessness (Rom. 1:18-32). Homosexuality represents the epitome of distorted and disorderly worship. Nevertheless, the more we impress upon others the weight of sin, without following up with the hope of Christ, we start to look more like the Pharisees and Sadducees whom Jesus condemned, rather than the Christ Himself who came in grace and truth. Sure, my evangelical friends are right in their assertions, but we must not allow ourselves to live by the letter of the law, while neglecting the spirit of the law—namely, the law of Christ.

This past Thanksgiving, my wife and I had an opportunity to make (courtesy of Kroger) and share a meal with our neighbors. The gay couple downstairs—who are well aware of our conservative beliefs—came over and we talked, and laughed, and got to know one another, over some good ‘ole Cajun-infused turkey. We seized the moment to love people, and have table fellowship (a very intimate occasion in biblical times) with those who are very different from us, but, then again, maybe not so different. Sure, they are living in sin—but so were we (and yet, even still, sin abounds).

One of the most beautiful conjunctions in the Bible is the word “but.” In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul names off a laundry list of sins, including homosexuality, following up with an emphatic “and such were some of you!” “But,” Paul says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This, my friends, ought to be the chief-motivation behind every Christian endeavor: that we were sinners, and Christ saved us! We did not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, no, but rather, Christ Himself snatched us from the grip of death and breathed life into our sinful souls, covering us with His everlasting love and mercy.

Therefore, we must make every effort to show the same grace, and speak the same truth, in love, to those who—though may look and believe different from us—suffer from the same sinful condition that we do.

So, though I would not preside over a gay wedding, much like I would not preside over an unbeliever’s wedding (without being honest, in love, of course), I would bake them a cake. In fact, not only would I bake them a cake, but I’d stop by and share a slice with them as well. That’s my religious liberty. After all, you never know when you may have, not only an opportunity to reflect the love of Christ, but to share the love of Christ as well. And how did Jesus share His love for sinners? He ate with them, He healed them, He protected them and gave to them—He gave Himself, for them and for us. But Jesus also left us sinners with a solemn warning that we must heed: “[Now that you know the truth,] go, and sin no more” (John 5:1-15, 8:3-11).

How’s Your Prayer Life?

child_prayingHow’s your prayer life? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it is not very good. After all, we are still sinners, who, at our very core, struggle forward in our relationship with God. We set our alarms to wake up an hour early, re-dedicating our lives to be devoted to prayer, and time with God.

But then we wake up and hit the snooze button.

Or maybe your prayers don’t lack consistency, but certainly lack substance. You pray the same rigid and repetitive prayers you’ve been praying for years, and have become quite shallow in your prayer life, which, ultimately, has affected your relationship with God.

Prayer is the means whereby we communicate with God, cast our cares upon God, confess ourselves before God, and exult in His glory.

Prayer should be done, even when we do not feel like it, because it is precisely when we don’t feel like it, that our relationship with God is open to compromise. Jesus tells His disciples, in the Gospel according to Matthew, to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41, emphasis mine).

Yes, do come to God with your petitions, and yes, do thank God for His healing power, or even for that new promotion at work. Thank God, through prayer, in all things. Come to God, in prayer, for all things. But come to God in prayer, nonetheless.

Christ, our Great High Priest, through the shedding of His blood, has secured for us unlimited access to the presence of God. Therefore, we may boldly go where no one before Christ has gone before (unless, of course, you were a Levite, chosen as the High Priest).

The book of Hebrews reminds us that “since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near [to God]” (Heb. 10:19,22).

Be confident that Christ has paved the way, for you, into the presence of God, and pray. Pray often. Pray when you do not feel like praying. After all, quality time in prayer really only comes through the quantity of time you spend praying.

Tim Keller, in his new book entitled Prayer (a must read!), writes the following:

Just prior to giving his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus offered some preliminary ideas, including this one : “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. . . . But when you pray , go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . in secret” (Matt 6: 5– 6). The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life. Many people will pray when they are required by cultural or social expectations , or perhaps by the anxiety caused by troubling circumstances. Those with a genuinely lived relationship with God as Father, however, will inwardly want to pray and therefore will pray even though nothing on the outside is pressing them to do so. They pursue it even during times of spiritual dryness, when there is no social or experiential payoff.[1]

Do you even want to pray? Keller is saying that if we do not desire to pray, then something is detrimentally wrong with our spiritual state. Our relationship with God depends upon the time we spend with God, in prayer. Prayer is essential to our spiritual being.

So then, what’s left to do but to pray?

[1] Keller, Timothy (2014-11-04). Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (p. 23). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Confession is NOT Repentance

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Confession is not repentance. But at the same time, the two are not mutually exclusive. A confession, in light of the biblical imperative, should always be coupled with repentance.

But that depends.

Why are you confessing to begin with?

Is it because you’ve been caught red-handed, and so you confess, in hopes of a lighter sentence? Or do you confess out of the grievous nature of your sin, a weight to which you can no longer bear?

That is the difference between, what Paul calls, worldly sorrow and godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is concerned for how they’ve sinned against God, and others, while worldly sorrow is just plain sorry they’ve been caught, with no regard for the way in which they’ve hurt others.

Worldly sorrow is self-centered and, ultimately, leads to death. Whereas godly sorrow is God-centered, and leads to life.

If the ladder is the motivation of our confession, than repentance should naturally follow. Repentance is a “turning away” from our sin; so that, we begin to hate the sin that we once loved, and love the God that we once hated. Repentance turns us from sin, causing us to flee from sin, and turns us towards God and His way and will for our lives. Repentance is motivated by a love for God, and a hatred for sin.

In the Gospel according to Luke, repentance is a fundamental theme (3:8; 5:31-32; 15:1-32; 18:9-14; 24:47). In Luke 13, verses 1-5, the crowd tells Jesus of the Galileans, in an attempt to compare varying degrees of sin. Jesus, in turn, responds by asking them if they thought, “these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans,” and answers his question to the crowd with an emphatic “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).

Throughout all of Scripture, we are called to not only confess our sin, trusting that God is faithful to forgive us of our trespasses, but also to repent of our sin, as an expression of our love for God, and our hatred for sin.

Even as a professing believer, I spent the first few years confessing, but never truly repenting. As a result, I constantly found myself down at the altar each Sunday, confessing my sin, while “rededicating” my life to God. Yet there was never any real repentance, never any turning away, or warring against my flesh, just a leaning upon the grace of God as if it were a license to sin.

Quite honestly, I never really understood the gravity of my sin, or the magnitude of His love for me, until more recently.

The Cross of Christ has become the impetus that drives me to my knees, in confession and repentance. Indeed, Christ’s death upon the Cross is not merely to absolve the punishment of my sin, but to free me from the power of that sin that has held me captive from my mother’s womb.

Therefore, beloved, remember the Cross of Christ, confess, and repent.