Tag Archives: repentance

Sounds Kind of Gross

Story of the Day for Saturday March 3, 2012

Sounds Kind of Gross

                            As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

                               Proverbs 26:11

 On October 26, 1991, the passengers in the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 jetliner stumbled in the inky darkness to the emergency exits. But their real troubles didn’t begin until they exited the plane. As they jumped down the emergency slides, 28 people were injured.

The jetliner didn’t crash but was sitting quietly in a darkened airport hangar in Long Beach, California. The FAA requires all new aircraft to satisfy government safety requirements — including the requirement that they must be able to evacuate all passengers within 90 seconds. McDonnell Douglas failed the test — taking 132 seconds.

As the sound of the ambulances rushing victims to the hospital died away, the airline engineers and FAA officials had time to assess the debacle.

Back to the drawing board, right? Experts would need time to determine what went wrong and find a way to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Instead, hours later, they conducted the identical test a second time. Not surprisingly, they failed the evacuation time requirement again, but far more tragically, scores of people were again injured as they tried to bail out of the jet. One woman was permanently paralyzed from the neck down.

None of the participants in the second test were allegedly told that 28 people were injured during the first test. At the end of the day, around 50 people were injured.

 

Ever since we are toddlers we are warned against doing harmful things. We’re taught to look both ways before crossing the street and not to touch a hot burner.

God does the same thing. He tells us not to cross certain lines — not because he hates to see people having a good time — but because he knows that certain behaviors are harmful and can cripple joy.

One way to avoid unnecessary pain in our lives is to listen to what God says. A second way to avoid unnecessary pain in our lives is to ignore what God says, and learn from bitter experience that sin really isn’t worth the effort.

But the greatest tragedy is when we fail to learn from either God’s wisdom or bitter experience.

I’m just guessing here, but it seems that guilt leads us to repeat sinful behavior — even though we recognize the misery it causes. Guilt makes us feel we deserve to hurt.

But God has a better way. He doesn’t want us to live in guilt. Instead, he forgives and cleanses. And even more, the Bible says that God’s kindness empowers us to change our ways.

 

In Proverbs it says that deliberately returning to the sin that was so repugnant is like a dog that eats something really rotten, throws up, and then later goes back to eat its vomit.

Sounds kind of gross, but I think that’s the point.

                                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Walking Out of the Manure

Story of the Day for Monday December 5, 2011

Walking Out of the Manure

                    In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, ”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”     

                                                                    Matthew 3:1-2

When I was in kindergarten, the circus came to town.  They promoted the circus by sending “frontrunners” to Gosling’s store.  They let you wrap a boa constrictor over your shoulders.  But the thing I remember most is that they let you pet a porcupine.

Did I just say they let you pet a porcupine?  Wouldn’t you get quills in your hand?  Actually, you don’t.  The circus people told us to pet the porcupine in a smooth motion, but you must move from head to tail.

Now, what if some kid didn’t want anyone telling him what to do or how to do it?  What if he defied instruction and petting the porcupine from the tail to the head?  Could he do that?  Of course.  But it would be unpleasant.

God instructs us in the best way to live.  Whenever we defy God, it is like petting a porcupine from tail to head.  We end up with a handful of needle-sharp quills.

 

The first words recorded of John the Baptist are, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  He called the people of Israel to change their minds about how they lived, to confess their ways as wrong, and to find the forgiveness of sin as they were baptized in the Jordan River.

 

Whenever I hear the word, “repent,” it sounds severe and threatening.  I don’t like it.  I have learned to associate the word, “repent,” with God sternly threatening that I better shape up or He’s going to scorch me in His wrath.

Actually, repentance is a gracious word from God.  The Lord is telling us we’re walking in the wrong direction and he’s saying, “Hey! I’m over here. Turn around.”  God uses repentance to make our life better.

 

When I was an adolescent, our family stopped at a farm in Ohio so my dad could visit with his old buddy from the war.  One of the farmer’s sons was my age so we went to do fun stuff.  We climbed to the top of the silo, rode boar hogs, and built a fort in the hay mow.   But our crowning adventure was trying to ride cows.  I say trying to ride cows because I didn’t do so well.  I fell off in the barnyard and splatted into several inches of watery manure.

Did I mention that we were going to a funeral later that day and I was wearing dress clothes?

Repentance began when I admitted that riding cows in dress clothes was not a good idea.  But only when I was willing to walk out of the barnyard and go to the house could I get a bath, and have my clothes thrown in the washer before we left for the funeral.

God can cleanse no one who refuses to walk out of the manure. We repent when we leave the stench of our ways and let Him wash us clean.

We smell so much better.

                                      (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Repentance Leads Us to Good Places

Story of the Day for Saturday November 19, 2011

Repentance Leads Us to Good Places

                                                     Look what this godly sorrow has worked in you. . . 

                                                                                               2 Corinthians 7:11

 Craig Brian Larson tells the stories I would like to pass on today.

New York’s Citicorp skyscraper was completed in 1977.   Structural engineers hailed the work of architect, William LeMessurier, as they praised this seventh tallest building in the world.

But a year after the building opened, LeMessurier noticed a frightening error.  Certain joints in the superstructure had been bolted.  Nothing wrong with that, except that LeMessurier had neglected to calculate the extra force of a non-perpendicular wind.  He learned that, once every 16 years, a wind comes along which would be strong enough to collapse the joint on the 13th floor.

No one knew about his mistake. If LeMessurier admitted the error, he could face lawsuits, bankruptcy, and disgrace.  LeMessurier took a deep breath and informed city officials.  Welding, costing several million dollars, began immediately and in three months the structure was pronounced one of the safest structures ever built.

And LeMessurier?  Rather than seeing his career in ruins, his reputation soared.  One engineer praised LeMessurier for having the courage to say, “I got a problem. I made the problem.  Let’s fix the problem.”

 

When we recognize and admit our sin, we usually experience a time of sadness.  We feel a genuine sorrow for how we have failed God and how we have hurt others.

But repentance lifts us out of the pit of sorrow.  Jesus has come to inspect the sorry mess we have created, and to forgive us.  How do you describe the utter relief that comes from being released from your sins?

 

When a child wanders from the path his parents tell him to take and winds up falling into a deep pit, it is comforting to know his parents will come looking for him.  It is more comforting to know that they are more concerned than angry.  But the greatest relief is in knowing that they will do anything to help us climb out of the pit.

The final step, however, is the determination to stay on the trail and avoid the pit.

In 1989, University of Michigan basketball player, Rumeal Robinson stepped to the foul line late in the game.  Down by one point, his two shots could put them back in the lead.  He missed them both and Wisconsin won an upset victory.

Robinson felt bad that his two missed shots cost his team the game.  But he didn’t leave it at that.  He “repented.”  He determined that he would work to become better at shooting free throws and began shooting 100 extra foul shots after each practice.

The University of Michigan made it to the national championship game.  With three seconds left, Rumeal was fouled and went to the free throw line with two shots.  First shot, swish.  Second shot, swish, and the Michigan Wolverines were national champions.

Repentance leads us to good places.

                                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Two Wagon Loads

Story of the Day for Tuesday September 13, 2011

Two Wagon Loads

                    For you became saddened as God intended. . . Godly sorrow works repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. . .   

                                                                  2 Corinthians 7:9-10

 Have you ever been driving in an unfamiliar area and slowly realized you were going the wrong direction?  You may not be happy about it, but the fastest way to get to where you want to go is to turn around and go backwards.

If you refused to turn around, even though you know it is the shortest way to your destination, and stubbornly bulled your way in the wrong direction, do you know what you are?  You’re an idiot, that’s what.

When we repent, we admit we’re presently moving in the wrong direction, and that the shortest way is to turn around and go backward in order to go forward.  (You might want to pause here for a minute if you need some time to think about that last statement.)

 

Maybe repentance is not a joyful word to me because I think of the disappointment when I realize I’m going the wrong way in life.  But maybe it will help if we think of the sadness as preceding the repentance.

The whole process looks like this: First, we discover that we are going the wrong way.  We’re not living the way God wants us to.   Now, we are sad about our failure to please God.  We’re sad because we have hurt other people by our sin.  And we’re sad because we have wasted our time going the wrong way and now we will have to turn around and start over.

The sadness over our sin comes first.  But then the repentance is the act of turning around.  Repentance is turning around to find that God forgives us and is encouraging us.  This is the order the apostle Paul is teaching us.  First, the believers at Corinth were saddened by the realization of their sin.  Their “godly sorrow” then led them to repent.  Their repentance now opened up to them the life of God’s “salvation,” – and now they have no regrets about the direction God is taking them.

 

We need to be careful here.  Many people get the notion that repentance means we got caught sinning and now we just say we’re sorry.  But we’re not sorry about our sin; we’re only sorry we got caught.  But, after we say we’re sorry. . . nothing changes.

Did you ever hear the story about the farmer who goes to his priest for confession?  He confesses that he stole two wagon loads of his neighbor’s hay.  The priest is surprised, and simply remarks, “Two wagon loads!”  The farmer then clarifies himself, “Well, I’ve only stole one wagon load so far.  I plan to steal the second load tomorrow.”

Telling God we’re sorry is not a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” card that gets God off our back so we’re free to continue botching up our life.  True repentance always leads to the desire to change our ways and live as God wants us to.  We may continue to flub up a million times, but each time we repent, it must be with the intent to find the right direction and go there.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

He Might Be Talking To Me

Story of the Day for Friday September 9, 2011

He Might Be Talking To Me

                     It is time for judgment to begin with the house of God.

                                                                 1 Peter 4:17     

            I don’t repent when I listen to sermons on repentance. In fact, they usually put me in a sorrier spiritual state.

            When preachers rail against the wickedness in the world, it makes me wish everyone else would repent. After hearing all the lurid and revolting examples of evil, I feel as if I’m not so bad, by comparison.

            In other words, sermons on repentance tend to make me unbearably self-righteous – which is the worst sin of all.

 

            In his memoirs, An American Life, Ronald Reagan recalled a state dinner at the White House. French premiere, Francois Mitterrand and his wife were the guests of honor. After Reagan, Mitterrand, and their wives finished greeting the other guests in the East Room, they all went to the State Dining Room. The proper protocol was for everyone to stand until Nancy Reagan led Francois to her table and President Reagan led Mrs. Mitterrand to his.

            Nancy and Mr. Mitterrand headed for their table, but Mrs. Mitterrand stood still – even after the butler motioned for her to be seated. She whispered something to President Reagan in French, which he didn’t understand. The guests remained standing.             President Reagan quietly told her, “We’re supposed to go over there to the other side.” Mrs. Mitterrand whispered something back, but he didn’t understand what she was saying.

            An interpreter then approached Reagan and said, “She’s telling you that you’re standing on her gown.”

 

            I’m pretty good at spotting sin, and what I mean by that is I’m pretty good at spotting your sin. I’m not so good at realizing when I’m the one stepping on the gown.

 

            In 2003, in the small town of Forest, Ohio, travelling evangelist, Don Hardman held a revival service at the First Baptist Church, and, in Mr. Hardman’s words, “We had a right good crowd of folks.”

            He was preaching on repentance.

            Shortly after he stared preaching, a storm rolled in. As the thunder began to rumble, Hardman told the congregation that, in the Bible, God’s voice sometimes sounded like thunder, and that God was speaking to them tonight. Hardman looked heavenward and said, “That’s right, God! We hear you!”

            And then a bolt of lightning struck the church. Hardman, who was wearing a cordless mike, had sparks of electricity go from his belt buckle up to his microphone.  There was a blue aura in the building as the lights flickered on and off and the sound system exploded. Heavy clay tiles from the steeple feel off and damaged a car in the parking lot.  

            No one was hurt, and Mr. Hardman continued to preach on repentance until a church trustee came in and said the steeple was on fire.

 

            When God tells the world to repent, it’s so hard to realize he might be talking to me.

                                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

The Dog Ate My Lug Wrench

Story of the Day for Thursday June 30, 2011

The Dog Ate My Lug Wrench

                                              . . . he sent his servant to tell those invited, “Come, because everything is prepared.”’ But one by one, they began to make excuses.” 

                                                                                     Luke 14:17-18

If I would teach my dog to fetch, and then throw a pipe wrench into my garage, he wouldn’t come out until November. I have no excuse for not cleaning it up. But I’m not worried. I have all afternoon to think up a good reason for waiting until tomorrow.

Excuses are so handy. They free us from doing unpleasant tasks or acting responsibly. Not only that, making excuses exercises our creativity – and, although I’m not an expert, I think the process of inventing excuses keeps brain cells from dying.

I have a friend who doesn’t like to make excuses. When his garage gets messy he just cleans it up. He worries me because I have no idea what his lack of excuse-making may be doing to his brain cells.

As beneficial as making excuses can be, there is a serious drawback. Once we get into the habit of making excuses, we begin to lose credibility. Let me ask you: can you recognize a person who habitually makes excuses? Of course you can.  But do you see what that means? Other people can see through your excuses as well. It doesn’t take many excuses before others become skeptical and we lose believability.

Making excuses is really a desperate attempt to avoid repentance. When we repent, we acknowledge our failures and own up to them. But when we make an excuse, we are claiming we are not responsible for our present state of affairs.

So, what do you do? When you’re late for an appointment do you apologize or make excuses?  I find I can fool myself by sounding like I am apologizing when really I’m making an excuse: “I’m sorry I’m late, but I had a flat tire and the dog ate my lug wrench.” The crucial word is “but.” If you apologize, and then use the word, “but,” you didn’t really apologize – you made an excuse.

Want to know what repentance sounds like? “I’m sorry I’m late,” (followed by total silence). You are confessing your fault to the person and asking him to forgive you.

Do you see why this is such a big deal? If we get into the comfortable habit of making excuses to ourselves and others, then why not try it out on God? You can say that’s ridiculous – God knows our heart and mind – you can’t buffalo the Lord. That may be true, but you have no idea how clueless we can be at times. We try it anyway.  Once we become addicted to making excuses, we can’t help ourselves.

We need to repent of not repenting. (I hope I didn’t just say something theologically dopey, but there you are.) I admit, I still like my excuses (and don’t forget about those brain cells), but repentance is so much better.  Jesus wants to forgive, and that feels good. Growing in integrity feels good. And when we take responsibility for our faults, we become more than we were – which is what we were created for.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Let’s Fix the Problem

Story of the Day for Friday June 3, 2011

Let’s Fix the Problem

 

                  Look what this godly sorrow has worked in you. . . 

                                                                               2 Corinthians 7:11

 

Craig Brian Larson tells the stories I would like to pass on today.

New York’s Citicorp skyscraper was completed in 1977.   Structural engineers hailed the work of architect, William LeMessurier, as they praised this seventh tallest building in the world.

But a year after the building opened, LeMessurier noticed a frightening error.  Certain joints in the superstructure had been bolted.  Nothing wrong with that, except that LeMessurier had neglected to calculate the extra force of a non-perpendicular wind.  He learned that, once every 16 years, a wind comes along which would be strong enough to collapse the joint on the 13th floor.

No one knew about his mistake. If LeMessurier admitted the error, he could face lawsuits, bankruptcy, and disgrace.  LeMessurier took a deep breath and informed city officials.  Welding, costing several million dollars, began immediately and in three months the structure was pronounced one of the safest structures ever built.

And LeMessurier?  Rather than seeing his career in ruins, his reputation soared.  One engineer praised LeMessurier for having the courage to say, “I got a problem. I made the problem.  Let’s fix the problem.”

 

When we recognize and admit our sin, we usually experience a time of sadness.  We feel a genuine sorrow for how we have failed God and how we have hurt others.

But repentance lifts us out of the pit of sorrow.  Jesus has come to inspect the sorry mess we have created, and to forgive us.  How do you describe the utter relief that comes from being released from your sins?

 

When a child wanders from the path his parents tell him to take and winds up falling into a deep pit, it is comforting to know his parents will come looking for him.  It is more comforting to know that they are more concerned than angry.  But the greatest relief is in knowing that they will do anything to help us climb out of the pit.

The final step, however, is the determination to stay on the trail and avoid the pit.

In 1989, University of Michigan basketball player, Rumeal Robinson stepped to the foul line late in the game.  Down by one point, his two shots could put them back in the lead.  He missed them both and Wisconsin won an upset victory.

Robinson felt bad that his two missed shots cost his team the game.  But he didn’t leave it at that.  He “repented.”  He determined that he would work to become better at shooting free throws and began shooting 100 extra foul shots after each practice.

The University of Michigan made it to the national championship game.  With three seconds left, Rumeal was fouled and went to the free throw line with two shots.  First shot, swish.  Second shot, swish, and the Michigan Wolverines were national champions.

Repentance leads us to good places.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)