Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Call to Repentance: WEEK ONE January 13, 2008

Pictures aboves are last three days of President's trip...
January 14 - On Monday, President Bush will travel to Dubai, where he will be greeted by the ruler of Dubai. President Bush will then travel to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with King Abdullah.

January 15 - On Tuesday, President Bush will be in Riyadh for meetings.

January 16 - On Wednesday, President Bush will travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he will meet with President Mubarak. The President will depart Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday January 16 in the afternoon en route to Andrews Air Force Base.

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
(Luke 5:32)


Dear Friends,

REPENTANCE is a difficult topic . . . one that causes us to wriggle and squirm and suddenly find something else to do.

But REPENTANCE is the trumpet call of the hour: it is time to get right with God, to clean house, and to stand in the gap asking Him to purify the church and the nation.

We are receiving messages now daily, as saints are hearing the same word from the Lord, seeking Him in earnest, heartfelt repentance for our sins. Just today, for example, one friend wrote: "I believe the Lord is confirming the emphasis on Repentance as we humble ourselves under His Mighty Hand and seek purity in our personal lives, in the Body of Christ and in our nation." And another leader in the Body of Christ has written these words: "We have many issues before the throne that need correcting so let us concentrate on purifying ourselves as Nation. Stand in the gap for the Nation of our birth, and pray for the Lord to bless her and turn her to Himself in the fear of God and holiness."

And just this morning, my own pastor preached a powerful message on this very topic: it is time to stop doing things our own way, to listen to Him, and to do things His way. Amen.

This week, Capitol Hill Prayer Partners will introduce a plan to cover 40 Weeks in Fasting and Prayer, asking God to grant us the grace to purify our hearts, to cleanse our nation through repentance, and to bring healing to our land. We wish to thank Dr. Lalith Mendis an apostle in Sri Lanka, for inspiring us to move into this cleansing prayer when he also called his own people to 40 WEEKS of prayer three years ago, as they, too, faced a national election of historic proportions.

Two years ago, CHPP quietly followed the example of Dr. Mendis, and we developed a website to list our prayer topics week by week. That site is still availabe at Suggestions are posted at the site, to help each of us set aside a sanctified period, for this extended time, to honor a fast before our Lord. We also call your attention to an excellent article, found online, called "What is Repentance and How Do I Do It?" This article addresses topics such as: What is Repentance?; Do We Have Help Repenting?; and "Practical Considerations."

We begin tonight by sharing the first of a two-part teaching on Preparing Our Hearts to Enter In. And for the next 40 weeks, by the Grace of God, we will continue to release A Call to Repentance.

May God give us each His grace to pursue this agenda; and may He help us now, as we "enter in."

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." (Psalms 50:15)

In His Amazing Grace and Love,

Sara Ballenger
Capitol Hill Prayer Partners


Part One

WEEK ONE: January 13 - 19, 2008

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
(Psalm 51:10-13)

This week, as we prepare to enter into 40 WEEKS OF PRAYER AND FASTING, we need to take the entire week to carefully examine ten steps of repentance, redirection and renewal in Christ, thus laying the foundation for the work that lies ahead. Today's teaching is drawn from a book by E. Stanley Jones, The Way, published in 1956 by Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York, pp. 72,73. In it, Dr. Jones presents the first two steps: consider our ways and change our direction.



As we consider our ways, we must ask our Lord to shine His searchlight upon our hearts to reveal the sin that so easily entangles us. As we do so, we may be tempted to shortchange the full blessing of this step in three ways:

a) You will be tempted to defend yourself. Emotional attachments gather around the old ways. Had they not done so, you would not have been able to remain in them so long. These emotional attachments gather reasons around themselves to justify themselves, as a magnet gathers iron filings. We think with our emotions in very large measure. We rationalize our wrongs, give excuses for the inexcusable, try to bolster up impossible positions by propping them up with props gathered from anywhere. ONLY THE TRUTH CAN MAKE YOU FREE.

b) You will be tempted to justify yourself. You will do so by looking at the actions of others -- "Everybody does it." You are not going to dodge into that road with a dead end; you are out for reality. The conduct of others cannot be your criterion. Christ is. You are going to be a person and not a thing.

c) You will be tempted to fasten upon marginal sins. You will try to confess only those "small" items, but leave the central ones alone. You will probably try to keep the self intact, central, and controlling, while you confess to sins of anger and impatience. You may be selfish in your business relationship and confess personal sins.

-- These three attitudes may keep you from a frank, honest-to-goodness appraisal. The first step to release is complete honesty.

"O Christ, Thou of the honest eyes and the honest attitude, help me have honest eyes and honest attitudes, for I would be free. Amen."


There is no use going on in a wrong attitude, for going father in a wrong direction simply means that you have farther to come back to get to reality. Every step you take away from the Way of Christ wastes three steps -- the one in going away, the one in coming back, and the one you might have taken on the Way.

You will probably be tempted to make the "change" indecisive by one of three things:

a) You may be prepared to change in some things but not in all things. Ananias and Sapphira gave up everything to be Christian except one thing: they "kept back part of the price." That one part kept back was their undoing. . . You don't have to have all the known diseases to die; one will kill you.

b) You may be prepared to change everything, but only partially. You may cut down a habit instead of cutting it out. You may end up indecisively, leaving yourself neither here nor there. That will get you nowhere. All compromise will end in confusion.

c) You may be hindered from a clear-cut change by putting off the time of it. Augustine's prayer, before he was converted, was, "O God, make me pure, but not now." He wanted to be pure, but wasn't willing to bring it into the "now" -- which meant that he really didn't want it. For you do not want a thing unless you want it now.

"O Christ, I do not want to shirk, to dodge, to slur over, or to put things off. Help me now, to change completely my direction. For I cannot keep going -- away from Thee. Amen."


You will need His grace and power, and you need to have life centered in Him. You might give up sinse and still fail to be a Christian. For the giving up of sins is not an end in itself; it is in order to get in saving touch with Christ. The way of God is not negative. You are not a Christian because you don't do this, that, and the other. You are a Christian when life is centered in Christ and not in yourself. You are emptying your hands to grasp a whole Christ.

Here you may miss your step by one of these things:

a) You may change but change toward the wrong ones. Judas changed; he "repented himself," went to the high priests . . . Judas repented in the wrong direction. Had he gone to Jesus, thrown down the money, and said, "I have sinned," we would have seen the most remarkable reconciliation and restoration in history. Some turn toward their sins and mourn in useless regret. No release comes from that.

b) You may connect with an institution and fail to get through to Christ. The Church is wonderful as a place of worship and spiritual cultivation, provided you go beyond it to Christ. If your relationship to it makes you stop in self-satisfaction this side of a personal, saving knowledge of Him, it is a stumbling block. It leaves you at a halfway house this side of the way of God.

c) You may stop at principles and miss the Person. You may say, "I'll live by Christian principles," and yet not get into a warm, living relationship with Him. Your spiritual life will be a tense striving to live principles instead of a trustful fellowship with a Person, issuing in relaxed spontaneity.

Go beyond your sins, beyond the institution, beyond the principles to the Person. Then religion will be to you a long falling in love.

"O Christ, I see that I must not stop this side of Thee, for if I do, I stop this side of Life. Help me, then, to take the steps that lead to Thee. I come, with all my being, I come. In Thy Name, Amen."


Christ is Lord, not you. This is the crucial step. If you slur this over, then nothing will come out right. And the step is simple. Everyone goes into the shrine of the heart and bends the knee to something; something has the place of supreme allegiance. Some bow the knee to what others will say. they look around before they act. They don't act; they only react. Their god is public opinion. Others bend the knee to themselves. Self-interest is supreme. Their first reaction is: How will that affect me? Their god is self. We could name others: money, sex, ambition, fear -- any one of these may be the center of allegiance.

Everybody bends the knee to something. If so, I choose -- I choose Christ. I am not God; He is! I whisper the inner consent, the consent of abdication. He commands; I obey. From this moment I do not belong to myself. I let go the one thing I own -- myself. I am free from self-domination; I choose Christ- domination. I let go at the center.

A rich woman said, "I was afraid to surrender to God, for I was afraid He would drive my last cow out of the pasture." But when she surrendered, she found God's will was not only perfect love but perfect reasonableness. The cows were all there, only she and God were partners in raising them, and partners in their disposal. Life was a partnership, with God as senior Partner. She was released and free and effective. She was relieved that she was no longer God.

"O God, I lay down the burden of trying to be God. For I am not God. Thou art. So I yield to Thee the throne. I abdicate, now and forever. And am I relieved and released? I am. I'm grateful that I am now no longer centered in myself -- I'm centered in Thee. Amen."


Don't try to do this yourself; let Him do it. After having consented to surrender, you will be tempted to struggle and try instead of relax and trust and receive. "When I gave all trying over, simply trusting was blest." There is a profound truth in this simple statement. For as long as you are trying, you are on the basis of yourself; but the moment you begin to trust, you are on the basis of Christ. He becomes the center, not you.

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born not of blood [you do not receive this new life through being born of Christian parents], nor of the will of the flesh [you do not receive it by whipping up your will, by trying], nor of the will of man [no man can bestow it on you through rite or ceremony or institution], but of God." (John 1:12,13)

It is quite clear. This new birth which leads to a new life is a gift accepted by faith, by those who "believe on His name." But that belief is not mere intellectual assent; it is believing with your life, self-committal to Another. It means letting down the barriers of your inmost being and letting Him come in and take over, take over as the Sole Owner.

The two laws of life are receptivity and response. But first receptivity. Many reverse this and try to respond, respond, to try, to do. No, first receive -- receive by a quiet appropriating faith. Then you will respond, naturally and out of the resources which receptivity brings. But if you try to respond before you receive, you will be responding out of emptiness. Your religious life will be strain, hence drain. A theological student was tense and trying, striving hard to be good. His jaw was set, his nerves tense; he would be good at any cost. When I showed him the possibility of accepting the Gift, he seemed incredulous. But he relaxed and received, and rejoiced! He kept saying over and over, "Why it's too good to be true! All my life I've been fighting; now I'm receiving!" He was free, released, and happy -- overflowingly so. Faith is pure receptivity.

"O Christ, I come. In my hands no price I bring. I come claiming no worthiness. I have no right to anything, except grace. I have no right to that, except that Thou dost offer it to me. I take -- humbly, joyously take. Now. Amen."

"Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, let your needs be made known to the Father. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall guard your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6,7 NAS)