All Things New
The older I get, the more New Year’s Day becomes one of my favorite holidays. The food and fellowship at Thanksgiving is fantastic. And the music, movies, desserts, and gift exchanges that characterize the Christmas season are pretty awesome, too. But there’s something about an opportunity to hit the reset button, wipe the slate clean, and be granted a fresh start; where all of your failures, shortcomings, mistakes, and bad habits can be left in the year they took place in. Where no matter how many times you tried and failed over the course of 365 days, on January 1, the playing field is leveled, the score is 0-0, and you and every entity that hindered previous success get to have a rematch.
The clean slate of the new year reminds me of what happens when we repent and give our lives to Christ:
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT
It is marvelous to have access to this kind of redemption, but although God forgives us, sometimes we struggle to forgive ourselves. When we recognize how wretched we’ve been, how many promises we’ve made and broken, and how many times we go back to the same sin we continue to ask for forgiveness for, it can be very difficult to conceptualize how God could STILL accept our apologies. Still love us. Still use us. Still forgive us of the SAME sin over and over again. Like, we would be fed up with us, so how can He not be fed up with us??
Last year, I authored a book about my pursuit of sexual purity and the challenges I've encountered along the way. Though I'm still able to say I've never had sexual intercourse, I was exposed to other activities that compromised my abstinence. Yet even in my sin, I had a repentant heart, and I desired to turn away from practices and habits that didn't please God. But whenever I would fall after a long stretch on the straight and narrow, I became so overwhelmed by shame that I would stop praying. I thought that God was mad at me and didn't want to hear from me, and I also felt like I didn't deserve for my prayers to be answered. The devil revels in these thoughts and feelings, because his ultimate goal is to separate us from God and the things of God. If he can get us to believe that we’ve fallen from grace to the point of no return—he will do just that, because he wants us to be exiled from The Father just like him. Satan wants you to be so ashamed of your sins that you hide from God and neglect prayer, that you stop believing God loves you, and that you stop believing He forgives you. And on top of all of that, he uses the spirit of defeat to deceive us into thinking that our sinful nature is something we’ll never be able to overcome. And it whispers in our ears, “You’ll never be able to stop. You know you’re going to do it again. You can’t keep repenting for the same thing. You don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
In Romans 8:38-39, Paul asserts that, "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." I believe that Satan is aware of this. And because he knows that God will never withdraw Himself from us, he uses shame and feelings of defeat to get us to withdraw ourselves from Him.
This January, I am making it my business to fight with you and for you against the shame
and guilt of what happened in 2018. The backsliding, the inconsistency, the repeated behaviors, the broken commitments—none of it has disqualified you from your new beginning in Christ Jesus. No matter how many times you went back to it, it’s never too late to turn around. As long as you have breath in your body, you can begin again.
From January 8th - February 8th, I will be facilitating “All Things New”, a new year’s accountability challenge. This challenge is geared toward women who desire to practice celibacy, but have struggled on the journey thus far. This struggling isn’t limited to having sexual intercourse here and there, but also oral sex, masturbating, watching porn, using sexual toys, dry humping, etc. If you fell over and over again in 2018, I’m here to hold your hand, cheer you on, and give you practical tools and spiritual guidance on how you can navigate your new beginning and make changes that STICK.
Here’s what you’ll need:
An accountability partner
Your accountability partner should be a woman who also desires to practice celibacy on her pursuit of righteousness, and she will complete this challenge alongside you. If you don’t know anyone personally that you can partner up with, reach out to me directly and I can pair you!
At the top of each week, I will send an outline of resources and instructions. These resources will include but are not limited to daily devotions, scriptures for your meditation, links to relevant e-sermons, and a customized playlist of songs that speak to restoration, redemption, and reconciliation to God.
New year, new beginning, new habits, new covenant—SIGN UP for the "All Things New" Accountability Challenge by clicking here!