The night before my wedding as I was drifting to sleep, I decided to ask God for a small favor.
When I was in my 20s, I was obsessed with the fear that I was not actually saved — that my so-called “faith” was nothing but an elaborate web of self-deception that would end in eternal damnation.
I didn’t expect an article from GQ magazine about a megachurch to get me choked up, but recently, it did.
Last week, I wrote an op-ed for Fox News Opinion called, “How to Know the Moment When You Really Got Saved.” I have never written something that provoked so many comments, personal emails, or Facebook messages. Fortunately, most of the responses were filled with awe at how completely God saved us through the blood of His Son, Jesus. And one of those messages, in particular, touched me.
I know I’m supposed to like the whole Bible – especially anything Jesus said. But there are a few parts that get under my skin. One in particular is this passage from Luke 17:3-4: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Although I hate ironing, I went on a wild ironing spree this past Sunday afternoon.
When I was in college, I lived with the perpetual fear that somehow I had missed the salvation boat, that although I had placed my trust in Jesus, in the end, I would come before God’s throne, and He would shake His head and say, “I’m sorry, but you just thought you were saved.”
When I was in my 20s, I intensely struggled with a sense of unworthiness before God; yet at the same time, I felt like I was just good enough to deserve His love because I was so well-behaved. It was a stressful way to live, and eventually, it took its toll.
I feel kind of lame when I say this, but I do not enjoy the spiritual discipline of fasting, because it usually just leaves me feeling annoyed and inconvenienced. Even so, I’m finally coming to a place where I appreciate it a lot more than I used to.
If you’re anything like me, just the thought of a new year’s resolution provokes a sense of dreaded guilt – the feeling that you’re only doing it because you’ve already failed in the previous year, and you’re going to end up failing in the next one anyway. I’m thinking this is not one of those things Jesus was talking about when he was talking about coming to give us abundant lives (John 10:10).
Recently, I was headed down Connecticut Avenue in the morning while it was still dark. There are several pedestrian crosswalks on that street that nobody uses at 5:20 a.m., so I was understandably surprised when I saw an old man standing in the middle of the street waving at me and yelling.
Let’s play a game. I’ll describe someone, and you tell me who I’m talking about. 1. He’s an old man with a long, white beard. 2. He sees everything you do. 3. He keeps a list of your deeds, good and bad. 4. He lives in a far-off, magical kingdom you couldn’t find if you tried. 5. He never allows himself to be seen; and 6. All the movies about him are fairly lame.
I’ve had close friendships with countless Christians in my lifetime, and if there’s one thing we’ve all got in common, it’s that we’ve all got some bad habit, some addictive sin, some hangup that we just can’t seem to overcome. People struggle with all kinds of things — rage, overeating, jealousy, passive-aggressive behavior, and porn addiction, to name a few.
I used to spend a great deal of my time digging in my soul for spiritual brokenness. I was on a manhunt for sinful motives, ungodly habits, and character flaws – for badness, brokenness, ugliness – all the things I thought kept me from God.
I’ve spent three years of my legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job that usually has one goal when it comes to wrongdoers: conviction. Once the defendant has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty by a jury, it’s all over. He has been convicted, and the only thing left to do is sentence him.