Repent or Regret

Few things in life are more difficult than admitting you are wrong, saying you are sorry, and asking for forgiveness. When is the last time you have done that?

Perhaps you can remember situations where, if you had not apologized and admitted you were wrong, a relationship could not have been repaired. Likely, you remember expecting such actions from someone else, too. Regardless, we have all experienced the necessity of repentance and forgiveness, whether we realize it or not.

If you are clearly in the wrong in a situation, selfish, foolish pride can still prevent you from admitting your guilt. Thus, humility is an essential part of reconciliation and restoration.

How much more so is this the case when it comes to our relationship with God? The brokenness that exists between God and us is completely our fault, and the only way to fix that brokenness is through repentance and faith. Jesus Christ took our shame, guilt, and disgrace upon himself when he died on the cross for our sins. He took our place and took the punishment we deserve. When he rose from the dead, he defeated sin and eternal death, so that everyone who truly trusts in His sacrifice can be restored into a right relationship with God forever. In order for this to be a reality for you and me, though, we must repent of our sins and trust in Him alone to deliver us from sin and death.

Repentance is essential for our lives now and for our lives eternally. Repent or regret. There are no other options.

To repent is to change your mind and change your direction. Repentance is a decision to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Mark 1:1-8 on how “Preparation Is Repentance.” We cannot be prepared for meeting Jesus Christ unless we repent of our sins, so we must understand biblical repentance.

Of course, this act of repentance is something that happens when God’s Spirit changes our hearts and draws us to Himself the moment we surrender our lives to Him for salvation. Also, though, repentance must be a consistent, ongoing attitude and action that defines our lives.

Repent or regret.

Are you walking in daily repentance and faith?

If you are not convinced that you have truly surrendered your life to Jesus Christ through repentance and faith, would you turn to Him now? Learn more by watching and/or reading The Story.

Humiliation to Honor

Humiliation and honor really do not go together. In fact, if you receive one, you are usually experiencing the opposite of the other. If you are humiliated, you certainly do not feel honored. When you are honored, humiliation is not part of the process.

The Bible paints a different picture, though. In Matthew 26-27, for example, Jesus Christ experiences the epitome of humiliation. Yet, in and through that humiliation, honor occurs in two important ways.

1. GOD IS HONORED

First and foremost, God the Father is honored through the obedience of God the Son submitting Himself to shame, humiliation, and death. Yes, Jesus did all of this for the sake of our salvation, but He did so, above all, for the glory of God.

Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).

Because the Father and the Son are One (John 10:30), of course, Jesus is also honored in and through His humiliation. Humiliation – the humiliation of Jesus Christ – honors God.

2. WE ARE HONORED

As sinful people who have rebelled against our perfect Creator, we do not deserve honor. In fact, what we deserve is the shame, humiliation, and death that Jesus experienced. We deserve hell. Yet, Jesus took on Himself the humiliation that we deserve so that we could receive the honor and inheritance that only He can offer. In Christ, we can receive the honor of adoption into God’s family, resulting in eternal life. Because of Jesus’ humiliation, we are honored – honored to be called children of God.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will preach from Matthew 27:1-31 on “The Humiliation of Jesus,” sharing three aspects of Jesus’ humiliation that His followers should expect, too. That sermon should be available HERE on Sunday afternoon.

The humiliation of Jesus ought to humble us in our response to Him and in our service to others. We ought to have a different perspective on our world and circumstances than we otherwise would if we had not experienced God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. Praise God that because of His love for us, we have the promise of life and honor that only He can give.

Please realize, though, this honor cannot be earned. This honor is not deserved. This honor is not our right but rather a consequence of Jesus’ humiliation. Honor and eternal life are only for those who turn from their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We must know Him to receive the honor that is eternal.

Do you know and follow Jesus? Are you humbled by the reality that “to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)?

If you want to know and follow Jesus Christ, check out THE STORY.

Grumbling and Humbling

From where does your joy come? What makes you dance with excitement and childlike jubilation? Our son Silas loves to make other people laugh, which is why he danced (above) for us on video a few weeks ago.

Consider what makes you want to dance, though. Then, what if that was suddenly gone? What if that circumstance that gives you great joy was changed, bringing about humiliation rather than jubilation?

Naturally, our first response in situations like that is to grumble, right? We are quick to complain when things do not go our way. If we do not feel like dancing (whether outwardly or inwardly), then we feel like complaining.

“I should not have to do this! Why me?”

…or…

“I cannot believe that this happened to me!”

Imagine, though, if we could respond to adversity and uncertainty with patience and humility, rather than self-entitlement and complaining. Impossible, right? Not if we look to the Lord for our joy and contentment.

Consider David in 1 Samuel 16-17. He had just been chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the next king over Israel. Yet, he continued to honor his father by shepherding the family’s sheep and did seemingly unworthy tasks like running errands. Those are not jobs fit for a king!

Yet, it does not appear that David grumbled or made his case for why he should have been treated differently. He did what he was told to do, no matter how humiliating it was. How? Well, the answer to that question surely must be seen in 1 Samuel 16:13, which says, “…and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David from that day forward.”

How can you respond to difficulty with humility and contentment and not with complaining and self-entitlement? Only by God’s grace. Only by the help of His Holy Spirit working in your heart.

Two verses we teach our kids to memorize at a young age are Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”

Lord willing, I will be preaching on “Serving in Humility” (1 Samuel 16:14 – 17:19) Sunday morning, and I hope to challenge my hearers to not grumble but rather be humble when facing times of difficulty and/or uncertainty. We can learn a lot from King David, as his life points us to the ultimate King – King Jesus.

Know and follow Jesus, and seek His help to serve in humility no matter your circumstances. Jump for joy not because of who you are or because of what you can do, but rather because of who Jesus is and because of what Jesus has done and will eternally do.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When we lost 46-0… (losing lessons)

lessons from losingI’m coaching my two oldest sons’ youth  basketball team this year. Last week we lost our first game 14-10. Last night we lost 46-0. Yes, you read that correctly. We scored 0 points and gave up 46…to 3rd and 4th graders. I can’t recall ever being so humiliated in the sports arena in my entire life. No, I’ve never been a superstar as a player or as a coach, but 46-0?! It was tough. It is tough.
 
Lots of things were racing through my mind after that game last night. I hate losing and hated this embarrassment for the sake of my team and for my own pride. Still, I believe there are several lessons from losing that were clearer to me after such a humiliating loss.

     

  1. Losing fosters humility.
    “When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Now, don’t get me wrong. Our team did not have a great deal of pride that needed chipping away. We know we’re not very good. Only a couple of our 10 players have ever even played organized basketball before this year. Still, the great humiliation that comes from a thumping can be good for us, and it can build character. It certainly protects us from feeling a sense of pride and thinking we’re something special.
     
    Losing reminds us of something we too often forget – it’s not all about us. When you lose, no one is celebrating you. In fact, for the record, I am adamantly opposed to trophies for participation. Let’s not reward losing. Let’s encourage winning and encourage losers to get better but stay humble because anyone can lose.
     
    I told my two oldest sons last night that sometimes getting crushed like this can be good for us. Losses, especially big and embarrassing losses, remind us that this life has a lot of loss. Things are not always going to go our way. We are going to be disappointed. We are going to be hurt. We are going to lose. Losing fosters humility.
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  3. Losing helps learning.
    One of the things I refuse to do with 3rd and 4th graders is to play zone defense. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to zone defense, as it can often be the best and most effective option when played well and used in the right situations with the right players. Children who are learning how to play basketball, though, need to learn how to play hard man-to-man defense. There is no question we would do better in a 2-3 zone because very few 3rd and 4th graders can shoot from the perimeter. Zone defense would help us cover up the weaknesses of our less experienced players and better use the strengths of the few who actually know what they are doing on the court.
     
    Last night, playing zone would not have changed the outcome of the game, except that we probably would have lost by 30+ points and grabbed a few more rebounds, rather than losing by 46 points and getting crushed on the boards.
     
    Last week, though, could have been different. The team we were playing came out in the second half playing a 2-3 zone. Since our players aren’t strong enough to shoot outside the lane, and since we don’t have any ball handlers, we only scored two points in the second half (after leading 8-0 at halftime). Their zone worked on us, and my unwillingness to play zone hurt us. Both last week and last night, we gave up several layups because we always have players on the court who just don’t quite understand yet what it is to play defense.
     
    But, I desperately want our kids to learn how important hard-working, pressure defense is. Maybe I’m being ridiculous, but I believe learning has to trump not losing at this age. For that reason, I think losing can help in the learning process because it exploits our weaknesses. If we play a 2-3 zone, we will do better, but some of our players will never learn to play defense. Losing shouts loudly what we need to do differently. Losing helps learning.
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  5. Losing emphasizes effort.
    When we were getting destroyed last night, some of the kids were (understandably so) dejected. They became lethargic and stopped putting forth much effort. Some of the others, though, were sprinting down the court and diving for loose balls like it was a close game that really mattered.
     
    It’s much easier to be motivated and put forth effort when we have a chance to win, especially to win a game of importance and excitement. By the time our team was down 10-0 before the end of the first quarter last night, though, we realized how much we were outmatched in this lopsided game. Still, some of the kids never gave up. They kept playing hard. They hustled down the court. They listened to me coach and tried to do better. I noticed, and I made sure they knew. I hope others noticed. I hope their effort only increases and that it is rewarded with future success and strong character.
     
    When someone keeps getting knocked down but keeps getting back up for more, he is noticed. There’s a reason the crowd cheered for Rocky against Apollo Creed and that even the Russians cheered for Rocky by the end of his fight against Ivan Drago. Of course, Rocky ended up winning that last fight, but he was definitely losing when the cheering started. Losing emphasizes effort.
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  7. Losing still stinks.
    Even with all the things I learn, I do not endorse losing. I hate losing. I don’t even like losing a board game to my preschoolers. I am, when not careful and/or not held accountable, sinfully competitive. Hopefully, I’m not a poor loser and a poor sport, but I find it very difficult to find contentment after a loss, especially a loss in something I care about and something at which I work hard to win.
     
    Losing stinks because I don’t believe we were created to be losers. Losing is against our nature. We can learn to accept and deal with losing, but I think there is a problem if we settle for losing without striving for more.

    Last night was another one of those moments when I found myself missing my dad like crazy. My dad was a competitor and a winner. He also hated losing. He worked hard at everything he did. He didn’t give up. He didn’t settle for mediocrity. He taught me to work hard and sacrifice my own goals for the sake of the team…the success of the team.
     
    My dad was a great coach, too. Even though he was a high school basketball coach, my dad worked with young children every weekend for years to help them learn the fundamentals of basketball and develop of a love and passion for the sport. He had a gift of making it fun but giving kids a hunger to do well and to win. When my dad died a couple years ago at the young age of 57, I remember thinking how much I would miss him when it was time for my kids to learn the fundamentals of the game.
     
    Last night, the memory was as strong as it has ever been. I’m not a gifted coach like my dad was. The patience that he had in teaching basic fundamentals is missing in me. His ability to make it fun and make it last was special. Losing last night was tough for many reasons, but the toughest for me was the realization that I won’t get to ask my dad for advice. He won’t get to teach my kids how to play basketball the right way. Losing still stinks.

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  9. Losing is temporary.
    I can’t make this promise to my team for this season. We’re not very good. We might not win a game. The season could be a long one, a difficult one and a discouraging one. Still, losing is temporary.Do you ever wonder if sports would have existed if sin hadn’t entered the world? I have to imagine they would have because, after all, sports are a blast. Some of my best memories have come on the basketball court, the football field and the baseball diamond. How different would sports be, though, without sin? I mean, sports aren’t really sports if someone doesn’t lose. Losing is never fun, but would it have been “fun” if we were perfectly humble and completely satisfied in God? Would we be completely satisfied with losing if we were completely surrendered to Christ?
     
    Losing is temporary because we can have eternal victory in the gospel of Jesus Christ. To make that possible, though, He had to lose. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). His loss…His sacrifice for our victory is because of His steadfast love for us. This is a love we do not deserve but a love we freely receive only in Him. “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).
     
    Please realize, though, that His loss is only your gain if you believe in Him. Losing stinks because losing hurts. You cannot fathom, though, the loss that will come if you don’t trust in the One who died for you.
     
    Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done.” -Matthew 16:24-27
     
    We can rejoice even in losing because we know that losing (whether losing a game or losing something much greater) is temporary. It’s temporary because we can put our faith in the King of kings and Lord of lords, and His victory is everlasting.