This post is an adaptation from my yet-to-be-published book, Misfits on a Journey with Jesus: a 60-Day Exploration. You can find more information about my book on my website.

What's your next life-changing event? Graduation? Marriage? A new baby? Whatever it might be, you're drowning in the sea of preparation. These joyful occasions require careful planning. Even God saw the need for preparing for His world-changing event: Jesus.

God sent a special messenger to prepare the world for Jesus' miraculous ministry. John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, preached a radical message: confess sin, repent of sin, and be baptized.

I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am; so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11, NLT)

While John's baptism symbolized an outward commitment to repent and obey God, Jesus' baptism empowers His followers with the presence of God.

What is the Holy Spirit?

Many books have been written about what the Bible teaches regarding the Holy Spirit. Consider my blog post the Cliff Notes version.

The Old Testament describes the Holy Spirit as a pouring out of God's spirit.

I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. (Joel 2:28, NLT)

When I was living my sinful life without Jesus, I didn't sense God's Spirit upon my life, which leads me to believe that "all people" doesn't include those who refuse to repent? The New Testament tells us plainly how to receive this gift.

Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, NLT, emphasis added)

There's that word again: repent. Do you get the idea that repentance is a big deal to God? Therefore, it should be a big deal to us.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to live in a way that shows the world we follow Jesus.

Repentance: Is it a One and Done?

Is repentance only required at the onset of our new life in Christ? Or is repentance needed throughout our Christian walk?

What Does the Bible Say?

In First Corinthians, Paul scolded the Christians in Corinth for returning to the immoral ways of their culture. As a result, some repented of their sin and returned to following Jesus. In his second letter, Paul "rejoices . . . because [some] were grieved into repenting" (2 Corinthians 7:9, emphasis added).

In Revelation, John records Jesus' message to Christians.

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. (Revelation 2:5a)

Clearly, repentance remains an important aspect of the Christian life because we still mess up. We still sin!

Le met be clear about what I'm NOT saying! Jesus does not require us to continually beg Him for salvation every time we mess up. The Bible teaches that once we place our faith in Jesus, we're saved from the penalty of sin. PERIOD!

If you confess . . . the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10, NKJV)

My Story

Recently the Holy Spirit poked my conscience concerning my own sin. I'll skip the details, but I confess that it involved my God-given role as a wife. Disclaimer: Adultery is NOT part of my story!

I asked God to transform my behavior and thinking regarding the issue in my marriage. In prayer, the Holy Spirit revealed that for transformation to happen, I needed to repent of sin. It seems repentance had fallen off my spiritual radar; I considered it a one and done so many years ago when I became a Christian.

Although I regularly confess sin (I mess up a lot), I was unintentional about my need for repentance.

Once I let the Holy Spirit's message sink in, repentance renewed my desire to obey Christ. I haven't achieved perfect wife status, but I'm becoming more like the wife that God wants for Dick Ewald.

What's Your Story?

Have you taken the first step of faith by repenting of your sins and turning to God (Acts 2:38)? Or have you walked the faith road for a while and find that it's time to "repent and do the things you did at first" (Revelation 2:5a)? Remember, we don't go it alone. John spoke the truth when he proclaimed that Jesus will "baptize with the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11).

Do you have questions about the Christian life? Do you need prayer? I'd love to hear from you. Post your comment below or reach out to me through the Contact Page.

#repent #prepare #planning #baptize #HolySpirit #gift #followJesus

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Have you bought the box of chocolates for your Valentine yet? Or maybe you're anticipating a dazzling gift from that special someone in celebration of this annual romantic holiday.

On the other hand, maybe you're wishing that all the hearts and commercialism will just go away because there is no one special in your life.

While Valentine's Day celebrations tend to focus on romantic love, it's a good time to celebrate love for our children, parents, and friends. And God. Join me in this year's celebration to discover the difference between real love and broken love.

God's Love Letter

The Bible is God's love letter to us. There are hundreds of verses to support this statement, however, that is material for a book, not a blog. Paul shows the difference between broken love and real love in 1 Corinthians 13; aka the love chapter.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only . . . a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV)

The context of this passage reveals that Paul is criticizing the Christians in Corinth for desiring spiritual gifts while ignoring loving one another. Their desires where good, but without love there good works were meaningless.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (13:4-6)

My Broken Love

I recently ran across a previous journal entry of this scripture in my journal Bible. The entry showed that I ran a love test to see if I was loving in a manner that honors God and blesses others.

To walk in the way of love:

  • I must be patient and kind.

  • I must not envy or boast.

  • I must not be rude or arrogant.

  • I must not be irritable or resentful. Bingo!

No, I didn't pass the test; my love was broken. I'm guilty of all the above to some degree, but irritability is my blatant crime against real love. My devoted hubby receives the brunt of this one. It was confession time.

Lord, I confess that I've been irritable. Help me to repent and walk in Your joy.

How would a love test impact your relationships? Your world? What would happen if we continually examined our words and actions to ensure that our love is not broken? I confess that I have not kept up on examining my heart, so let's do it together.

  1. Is our love tainted by impatience and unkindness?

  2. Are we envious of others? Do we overwhelm conversations bragging about our accomplishments, without showing interest in what's going on in the lives of others.

  3. Are we rude and arrogant?

  4. Are we irritable? Do we resent demands on our time, attention and/or energy? Ouch!

Perfect Love

None of us will love perfectly in this life because we're flawed humans. But God shows us what real love is because He is love (1 John 4:8). If you're looking for proof of God's outrageous love, look no further than His Son, Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son; that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, emphasis added)

We're staring at the gospel truth here: Jesus gave His life so that we can be set free from the penalty of our sin. Then God's Son defeated sin and death through His resurrection. But the Good News doesn't stop there! We accept God's sacrificial gift by believing in Jesus; faith in Him opens the door to life that is both abundant and eternal.

That's not just real love, that's supernatural love. No other gift comes close to matching God's love.

Friends, we don't have to live with brokenness when we accept God's gift. May we focus on God's real love every day of the year.

Let's have a conversation. Post your comments below or through the contact page.

What is your favorite Valentine gift to receive: candy, flowers, jewelry, etc.?

How do you show real love to your family and friends? Maybe to a stranger?

How has this article challenged your thinking about love?

How can I pray for you?

#love #valentinesday #reallove #brokenlove #broken #Godslove

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Special note: Look for my monthly blogs adapted from my yet-to-be-published book, Misfits on a Journey With Jesus (h ttps://, a devotional book for teens. No matter your age or spiritual path, I pray the Lord will bless you through my humble attempts of communicating His truth.

Do you ever think about Jesus' family life when He lived on earth? It looked much like most families. Maybe you've heard of His parents, Mary and Joseph. He also had brothers and sisters. And cousins. The Gospels introduce us to Cousin John, also known as John the Baptist (not because he was a member of First Baptist). God sent him to prepare people for Jesus' earthly ministry.

Similar to Jesus' birth, John's entry into the world was miraculous. You can read about it in Luke 1. His parents didn't have any children and were past child-bearing age. Yet God chose them to parent His special messenger. When John became an adult, he preached a life-changing message.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching . . ., "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 3:1-2, NIV, emphasis added)

Repent is an action verb meaning to turn away from sin and turn to Jesus.

There was a time that I let sin rule my life. The sad consequences of drugs, teen pregnancy and divorce made me understand that the things I chased after to make me happy, eventually hurt me. Finally, I stopped looking for happiness in the wrong places, repented of my sin, and followed Jesus. Now I experience true joy because He is in my life and I am a citizen of His kingdom. I'm not perfect but I follow the Perfect One.

Confession and Baptism

People went out to [John] from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:5-6, NIV, emphasis added)

People responded to John's message by confessing their sins. What does it mean to confess our sins? Think about a thief who confesses to the police that he stole jewelry from a store. He's agreeing with the system that he broke a law, stealing. Spiritually speaking, confession means that we agree with God that our sin is against His purpose and plan for our lives. But I have great news: First John 1:9 tells us that when we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. Notice that it doesn't say "maybe" or "possibly"; He will forgive us! This is an awesome truth: the great God of the universe hears us when we confess our sins.

Evil Recognized

One group of people who came to see John angered him: the religious leaders known as Pharisees and Sadducees.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?" (Matthew 3:7, NIV)

John insulted the religious leaders by calling them snakes. Yikes! John was angry at these men because he saw through their fake interest in his message. They were curious about this strange man, but they had no desire to turn away from their greed and pride.

A Choice to Make

Maybe your behavior is squeaky clean and unlike me, you have not chased after all the wrong things to make you happy. Or unlike the religious leaders, maybe you don't have a problem with greed. However, the Bible says that we have all sinned.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23, NIV)

We all have a choice to make; no one can make it for us. What are the choices?

  • Repent and follow Jesus.

  • Reject Jesus by doing nothing. No confession. No repentance. No following the One who came to save us from the grip of sin.

Maybe you've already made that choice to follow Jesus. Praise God! Thank Him for the awesome truth that Jesus made it possible for you to have a forever home with Him.

However, if you have not yet made that choice, will you choose Jesus today? Just come to Him with a simple prayer; something like this: Dear Jesus, I confess that I have sinned. Please help me to repent and follow You. Thank You for loving me so much that You made a way for me to have joy and peace in this life, and a forever home with You when I pass from this life. Amen.

There is no magic in these words. The miracle is in what happens when we humbly confess that we have sinned; made a conscious decision to repent; and now follow Jesus.

Friends, if you just made this decision to follow Jesus, I'd love to hear from you. Even if you didn't and have questions or just want to chat, contact me through my website:

This blog post is adapted from my book, Misfits on a Journey With Jesus: a 30-Day Exploration. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for release updates.

#gospelofmatthew #goodnews #repent #choicetomake #miracle

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