Over the years I’ve often heard of the “Twelve Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). One day I decided to look them up and couldn’t help but see that the steps echo principles of biblical repentance such as turning from sin and ourselves to God in both heart and mind. For example, step 1 states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable” (see Romans 7:18, Romans 8:13). Step 2 is, “[We] came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (see John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Near the epic conclusion of Tolkien’s Return of the King, Frodo stands on the threshold of destroying the “One Ring of Power.” All he has to do is throw it into the consuming fires of Mount Doom. But the hobbit can’t do it. He holds on to the ring, powerless to let go despite the ring’s destructive power.
There’s a children’s song that goes, “Don’t you worry and don’t you fret, you know God has never failed you yet.” The same God who delivered the Israelites out of slavery can be trusted to go ahead of us—never failing or abandoning His children (Deuteronomy 31:6).
In his article “The Price of Public Shaming in the Internet Age,” Todd Leopold asks, “Do you believe in forgiveness? Do you believe in second chances? Of course you do. Everybody makes mistakes. To err is human, to forgive divine. Right? Not in the age of social media.”
I was thinking about some friends who are facing trials. Jake is about to lose his job because he won’t compromise his convictions. Sheryl has been unemployed and soon her government assistance will run out. Sam had surgery to fuse together two vertebrae in his spine, but now he’s feeling numbness on his right side.
When our washing machine malfunctioned, it spewed water through a heating vent and into our basement—drenching wallboard and carpeting. To prevent mold, we had to hire a company that set up special fans inside our house. The company’s motto read: “We will make it like new.”
Do you have a dark secret that you’ve kept from others? Maybe you did something you think is so bad that if people found out about it they would have nothing to do with you. Perhaps you’re hooked on watching porn or you struggle with substance abuse. Maybe you’re carrying deep hatred for someone who hurt you.
Yed Anikpo created an app called Heartpoints to help Christians track their spiritual progress. Users of the app can review their daily history to rejoice over victories and to repent of sins. According to Anikpo, “Heartpoints [can] help us capture [what] makes up our walk today so that we can examine it and use [it] to inform . . . our pilgrimage tomorrow.”
The film Noah’s Arc: The Noah Snyder Documentary tells the story of Noah Snyder and his unique journey from growing up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to establishing a professional surfing career. As my son and I watched it, we were moved by both the stellar surfing and the deep truths found in the story. It was inspiring to see Noah and several of his childhood friends mature from mere thrill-seekers to young men embracing purpose, responsibility, and a relationship with God.
While visiting a friend in Marseille, France, we stopped by an old church. I took in the cold stone floors, the magnificent ancient walls, and the smell of the musty wooden pews. Almost hidden from my view, built into a wall, was the confessional box. It contained enough for just one person on either side of a wooden slat. My friend quietly commented that the act of confessing our sins one to another seemed to have disappeared from many modern churches. This challenged me not only to confess my sin to God but also to others.
Q: I always try to run away from sin, and when I think I've gotten away, it comes back. After I commit the sin, I feel as if I should be punished for my sin. Other times, I feel so bad that I think that God is disappointed, and I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone of my sin, what do…
In the wake of numerous public confessions by fallen politicians, sports figures, and business executives, Paul Wilkes references Susan Wise Bauer’s helpful distinction: “An apology is an expression of regret: I am sorry. A confession is an admission of fault: I am sorry because I did wrong. I sinned.” Wilkes goes on: “Apology addresses an audience. Confession implies an inner change . . . that will be manifested in outward action.”
Historians weren’t sure if Reformer Huldrych Zwingli had been sexually promiscuous with the daughter of a prominent citizen. Misbehaving priests weren’t uncommon in the 16th century, yet such gossip seemed like something his Roman Catholic enemies might spread to discredit Zwingli.
“Our Father in heaven,” Jesus taught us to pray, “may Your name be kept holy” (Matthew 6:9). We affirm today that Your name, Yahweh, already is holy because it describes You—pure, perfect, far removed from evil, error, and corruption.