Monday, January 21, 2008

A Call to Repentance: WEEK TWO January 20, 2008

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


CONSIDER YOUR WAYS -- Part I Hi Everyone,

This was sent to me from Capitol Hill Prayer Partners. I have been working very closely with their leadership over the past fourteen months. I believe it is something we can benefit from spiritually as individuals, a total leadership team and congregation. God bless us all as we actively seek His heart in the affairs of His congregation - Arcade. ~ Joe Walsh

Capitol Hill Prayer Partners

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.

"What is Repentance and How Do I Do It?"



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)

Part Two

WEEK TWO: January 20 - 26, 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)

Last week, we invited you to join us in beginning 40 WEEKS OF PRAYER AND FASTING -- clearly a new depth of intercession and repentance in this New Year. Borrowing from a book by E. Stanley Jones, The Way, and modeled upon an initiative birthed in Sri Lanka through the ministry of Dr. Lalith Mendis, we began by preparing our own hearts to enter in. We studied the first five steps of Mr. Jones' ten-step program of repentance, as:






We now examine five remaining steps of repentance, redirection and renewal in Christ, thus laying the foundation for the work that lies ahead.

In coming weeks, we will then offer prayers of repentance for the sin in the church; the sin in our land; and the blessing of Israel.

Again our source book for today's teaching is The Way, by E. Stanley Jones, published in 1956 by Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York, pp. 74,75.

We wish to thank Gary Bergel, President of Intercessors for America, for pointing us towards this precious book, several years ago. Praise God.


A man who has become a world leader was defeated and discouraged and about to give up his work in India. He was sick in soul and in body. Then the verse spoke to him: "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:3,14 NKJV)) He saw that this well of water within was a gift, began to drink by faith, and from that moment was completely changed. "I haven't had a discouraged or a blue hour in thirty years," he humbly and joyously testifies.

A dean of girls, inwardly tied up with fears and inhibitions and frustrations, sat reading these words: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36 KJV)) She quietly let their significance sink in -- freedom was a gift which she could take. She did! "I felt like shouting it to the world!" she triumphantly said.

Faith is pure receptivity, alert receptivity, aggressive receptivity.

"O Christ, I come to Thee believing that Thou are completely trustable. I cannot trust myself. I am not trusting my faith, but my faith is trusting Thee. I rest my case, and myself, with Thee. Amen."

"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:17 NIV)


Make restitution where it is necessary or possible. I say make it where "necessary or possible" because sometimes it is not possible. There are things beyond your recall. Do not sped time in useless worrying over a past you cannot change. He forgives; let that suffice. He wipes it from his "book of remembrance." Bury it all at the foot of the Cross, and put "No Resurrection" over it. The past is buried. Even those continuing effects He can help you counteract and cancel, by starting new redemptive influences. He restores the years which the caterpillar and the locusts have eaten.

Some things it is not necessary to bring up. If more harm than good comes from bringing things up, let them rest, especially if they involve others. Do not develop back-looking conscience, morbidly mourning over the past instead of bravely facing the present and the future in His name.

But some things may have to be straightened out before you can go on. . . You may be afraid of making an apology, of righting a wrong -- afraid of what people will think about you. But only small people are afraid to apologize. "I'd die before I would apologize," said a telephone operator. To which the superintendent of the hospital replied, "Oh, I do that a dozen times a day. It's the easiest thing I do." Result of these two attitudes? The telephone girl stayed a telephone girl; the other woman climbed to the top. The telephone girl got caught in herself; the superintendent was released from herself every time she made an apology.

"O Christ, Thou hast forgiven that past, and where Thy forgiveness is, there can be no infection. But show me if there is left anything for me to do in righting that past ere we go on together. For I want no open wounds, anywhere. Amen."


(Adapted from original text)

Take the spirit of the Way of God into your total life. You have now one more set of relationships to bring into line with His Way -- your present relationships. To be a Christian is to be in Christian relations. Of course, that must be qualified: Do it as far as it depends on you, for other wills are concerned, and you may not be able to establish Christian relations with them. "As much as it lieth in you, live peaceable with all men." (Rom. 12:18) This is important, but we are to do the Christian thing even though the other person doesn't respond. Here are four areas to consider:

a) The home: Where there are points of friction, talk over things objectively. Try to see the matter from the standpoint of the other person. Project yourself in imagination into the very self of the other person and see things from his or her position. That will take sympathetic imagination. Don't confess the other person's sins; confess your own. That will beget confession in the other person. Even if it doesn't, you have done something to yourself; your peace has returned to you. Next, go beyond talking over points of friction and come together each day in a spiritual quest -- a prayer time together. In that prayer time you will be melted into common purpose and a common mind. In God you will become one.

b) Your daily occupation: That daily occupation can be the extension of your spiritual life, your spiritual life become incarnate in material things. Your Christian character can be registered in the work that you are doing.

c) Your relationships with the person next to you. Become a witness to the new life. Nothing is yours that is not shared. The simplest and most effective thing you can give away is just the thing you have received. Share it.

d) Your relationships with the Church. If you are not in the church, get in. If you are marginally in, get into the center.

"O Christ, I am beginning to extend Thy life and purposes into my contacts which are the extensions of me. Help me to create no longer in my image, but in Thy image. That will not be impossible if Thou are in me -- wholly. Come in, then -- wholly. Amen."


Cultivate your quiet time -- preferably in the morning. We have talked about Christianizing your relationships; we come now to the central relationship, with God. When that relationship is intact, then every other relationship is toned up. If that relationship gets loose, then every other relationship goes loose with it. For the Christian, there is one responsibility and only one responsibility -- to keep in union with God. When that union with God is intact, everything flows from it. I know of no one thing that cultivates union with God more surely and constantly than the regular practice of the Quiet Time. If I have a Quiet Time, I have a quiet heart; but if the Quiet Time goes, the quiet heart goes with it. I can take it or leave it, but this is one of life's inexorables.

Close your eyes, drop into the silence of the heart, and then listen to God. He tells you how much time you can spend in the Quiet Time. Take the figure that fixes itself in your mind with a sense of approval, and start it. Pray by the clock. If it starts being mechanical, it will soon become medicinal -- it will heal your heart.

"O Lord, help me to be obedient in putting first things first, one day at a time. Please grant me the grace to create that space for You, early in the day, upon which I might then build. Thank You, Lord. Amen."


The Way is an outgoing way. The first law of life is intake, and the second law of life is outflow. If you try to continue the intake without a corresponding outflow, it will all end in an impasse. The inflow will cease.

The outlets and activities do not need to be great and significant. They may be small and insignificant. But the fact that they represent an outgoing attitude and a sharing purpose makes them significant. For the law of sharing, which is the law of love, which in turn is the law of life, is in operation.

We now sum up the steps: Consider your ways, change your direction, connect with Christ, consent to surrender, cease from struggling, concentrate on acceptance, cleanse your past, Christianize your relationships, cultivate the Quiet Time, and create outlets and activities. Your feet are now on the Way!

"O Christ, how can I thank Thee enough that I am taking these ten steps to freedom. For I feel in my bones that this Way is the way to freedom. For my bonds are breaking, my heart is being released. I know that I am in the process of redemption. I am on the Way. Amen."


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