Why repentance is the ultimate ‘New Year’s resolution’
Hello and happy new year, friends! You’ve probably noticed a few new things on these pages already.
First, we’ve got a new logo! We’re also using a different set of typefaces throughout the magazine. We started looking at the logo and fonts last year in order to keep our look fresh, and of course what better time to debut it all than in our January edition!*
We’ll also be premiering a newly redesigned MSChristianLiving.com this month, which will serve much the same purpose — and also has given us the chance to streamline our online navigation.**
On a personal note, I adopted a new kitten a few weeks ago. I named him Dallas “Dally” Winston after a troubled character, one I’d love to save, in S.E. Hinton’s classic young adult novel “The Outsiders.” Thanks to a loving home, feline Dally is sure to turn out better than fictional Dally!
I’m sure many of you are working on New Year’s resolutions. They might be cosmetic, like our new logo. They might involve a new friendship (cross-species or otherwise). Personally, I should probably eat better and save more money.
My prayer, for you and for me, is that we’d consider how the pursuit of our goals will (or will not) bring us closer to Christ.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with many of our resolutions. But if we focus on any objective at the expense of our fellowship with God, then either our motivation or our goal itself is off base.
So as I pursue certain goals this year, I hope I’ll remember above all to delight myself in Christ (Psalm 37:4). I often forget that Jesus is delightful. He’s the best Person to spend time with, and growing my relationship with Him is more rewarding than anything. Also, it’s amazing how much discernment I often lack simply because I haven’t read scripture or spent time in prayer on a particular day.
To that end — delighting ourselves in the Lord and pursuing His path for us — we could use some repentance in 2021. Repentance is like the best kind of New Year’s resolution: Instead of resolving to do the same kind of things we’re already doing, but better, we turn away from our sin and toward the Lord who loves us.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Forget goals and resolutions for a minute — our country needs healing today, not just from COVID-19 but from the ways we’ve shoved Jesus out of our lives in order to pursue our own ends, individually and collectively.
I believe God uses all of our life’s events to draw us closer to Him (see Romans 8:28). Sometimes, when we don’t listen during the good times or when we ignore His commands, He speaks louder — through crisis, if needed. For America, I believe this can apply to everything from 9/11 to the Great Recession and the current pandemic. (Check out “The Harbinger” and “The Harbinger II,” two books by pastor Jonathan Cahn, for specific details that parallel biblical prophecy.)
Note that in 2 Chronicles 7:14, God calls His people to humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways. We can’t just piously “pray for” unbelievers, or politicians and voters from across the aisle, as though we aren’t also culpable. Unless we can say we’re without sin (nope! see 1 John 1:8), we’re all culpable.
Please know, this doesn’t mean we should freak out in terror or wallow in guilt. Repentance means we get before God in humility, agree with Him that we’ve sinned, receive His pardon freely given through Jesus’ death on the cross, and then turn from our sin and seek Him with all we’ve got. He’s not just a judge — He’s the lover of our souls — and the pleasure of His presence far outweighs the “discomfort” of repentance.
That, I believe, is the path to the best year possible.
3 ‘must-reads’ in this issue
● Our cover story on Broadmoor Baptist Church Lead Pastor Josh Braddy and his family.
● Neddie Winters’ column about Mission Mississippi’s exhortations for believers in the new year.
● Brenna Weaver’s column about how to stay hopeful in 2021.
*Thanks to Noble Motive design studio in Hattiesburg!
**Thanks to AgoraEversole Marketing Agency in Jackson!