People of the Second Chance

A little while ago, I was reading the book, People of the Second Chance by Mike Foster. In it, he lists what he calls “The Five Condemnments”:

1. “I don’t deserve a second chance.”
2. “I am my shame. I am my secrets.”
3. “I will always feel and be this way.”
4. “I am defined by my worst moments.”
5. “My life, my dreams, my hopes no longer matter.”

As I interact with people, I see so many who live under these condemnments. That somehow a second chance is for others, not for them. That somehow what defines them most is their shame, failure and worst moments. They feel trapped in a cycle of no hope because yesterday was bad, so tomorrow will be bad, and they feel they deserve it. In essence, they start listening to the lies other people say about them, rather than what the Gospel says about them.

But, Jesus has a radically different promise and pronouncement for all of us. Here’s what He has to say about you:

1. “You do deserve a second chance, because I died to secure that for everyone.” (John 3:16)

2. “You aren’t your shame and secrets. You are forgiven and free.” (John 8:1-11, when Jesus encounters the woman caught in adultery).

3. “Your future isn’t full of darkness and repeats of defeat. If you believe in Me, you will have full and abundant life today.” (John 10:10)

4. “You are not defined by your worst moments, but rather by My calling on your life.” (John 21, when Jesus restores Peter after his worst moment).

5. “Your dreams do matter, because I, the Good Shepherd, know you and all that you need.” (John 10:14) – In fact, the first words of Jesus in the book of John are, “What do you want?” (John 1:38). So, your wants, dreams and desires do matter to God.

I write all this to remind you of something: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is freeing, transforming and totally life giving. The condemnments we so often live under aren’t part of living under God’s reign, love and grace.

So, today I want to remind you that if you feel like you don’t deserve a second chance – that shame owns you, that your past failures define you, that life can’t change, that your wants and desires don’t matter – than, well, Jesus begs to differ. Come and experience Him, and find that difference in your life.

8 comments on “People of the Second Chance

  1. Jatana on

    I like this one Andrew! For me I have lived with so much condemnation, shame and guilt from my past that it was debilitating. I am finally experiencing freedom from my past and God is working in me to continue to share to give others hope.

    Reply
    • Andrew Mills on

      Thanks so much Jatana. That’s beautiful about how God can free us, because as you said, shame and guilt can be so debilitating. Which is why God’s salvation is so good!!

      Reply
  2. Harry Huizer on

    Yes God shows abundant love to us but I would say it is not “reckless love” as the latest often played song states.
    The term reckless feels wrong to be used about the love of God. His love is not wild or out of control.
    I have heard a few concerns about this “reckless” term from the congregation and I thought it needs to be mentioned.
    Reckless is usually not used as something positive or good but maybe myself and others have got it wrong.

    Reply
    • Andrew Mills on

      Hi Harry – I can certainly understand your confusion about the word “reckless” as it has lots of different connotations. From what I understand the song has a different meaning of reckless, about God not be cautious, that its trying to convey. The first time it was sang the read the authors word in service about what the song meant. The author says:

      When I use the phrase, ‘the reckless love of God,’ I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He lo. ves, is in many regards, quite so. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, ‘They’ll reject me,’ He said, ‘I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line

      So hopefully that might help!

      Reply
  3. Harry Huizer on

    Ok how about overwhelming love instead of reckless love.
    God’s love is not out of control.
    A humble opinion.

    Reply
    • PhiLiP SchMidT on

      Hello Harry.

      A pleasure to make your acquaintance!
      If we haven’t met before, it’s probably because, although we attend Bethany, my wife Jackie & I live in London.

      When I read your beguiling observation about Divine “overwhelming love” versus “reckless love,” I immediately thought of the title of a book by Michael Yaconelli: “Dangerous Wonder”.
      Not “overwhelming,” not “reckless,” but “dangerous.”

      Here is how Yaconelli defines the concept in his book:

      “We have lost the gleam in our eye.
      Jesus no longer chases us in the ragged terrain of our souls.
      We have forgotten what it is like to stand speechless in the presence of Jesus, hearts beating
      wildly, staggered and stunned by what God is doing in our world.
      The obstacles are intimidating, but they need not dictate our lives.
      We can rediscover the childlike attribute of our faith called ‘dangerous wonder’.”

      I have to concur.
      Have we, in our efforts to NOT be stretched outside of our comfort zones, indeed settled for a ‘tame Jesus,’ forgetting that “He is NOT a tame lion”?

      Listen to how Yaconelli describes the Master, and, by extension, we followers of the Master:
      “Jesus was a dangerous man…..
      Dangerous to the power structure, dangerous to the church, dangerous to the crowds of people who followed Him.
      Shouldn’t the followers of Christ also be dangerous?
      Shouldn’t everyone be awed and dazzled by Christians?
      Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanours?”

      Well…..
      SHOULDN’T we?
      I look in the mirror, Harry, and see a man defined (not to mention bedeviled) by his bent-ness.
      I would much rather look in the mirror and see dangerous wonder reflected in the pair of eyes gazing back at me.
      I think you are bang-on, Harry, when you assert that God’s love is not “out of control.”
      But I daresay that His love does indeed have the capacity to be “wild”…..
      But only if we’re willing to leave the safety of the shore behind and venture out into unchartered waters.

      Allow me to conclude my response to your comment with this closing thought by Yaconelli:

      “Let’s find the world of dangerous wonder.
      It’s a real place, you know.
      It is the place where both children and grownups can find God, located just beyond where the sidewalk ends.”

      I think, Harry, that where the sidewalk ends is where the true Christian adventure begins.

      Contemplatively,
      PhiL {‘•_•’}

      Reply
  4. PhiLiP SchMidT on

    Dear Pastor Andrew:

    This entire post sent a shiver down my spine, but two lines in particular riveted my attention :
    “…..what defines them most is their shame, failure and worst moments. They feel trapped in a cycle of no hope…..and they feel they deserve it.”

    I immediately thought of Turin Turambar, the tragic hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion.’
    Turin Turambar was a deeply flawed man of Middle Earth whose less-than-stellar moral choices carried serious consequences.
    Yet this same man did great service to the Middle Earth kingdoms of Doriath and Nargothrond.
    In one of The Silmarillion’s hardest-hitting chapters, Turin Turambar comes face to face with Glaurung, the Father of Dragons.
    Turin prepares to do battle with Glaurung, who has wreaked incalculable havoc not only in his own life but in the lives of his family and friends.
    Allow me to quote Tolkien’s text directly:
    “Then Túrin sprang about, and strode against him, and fire was in his eyes, and the edges of Gurthang shone as with flame. But Glaurung withheld his blast, and opened wide his serpent-eyes and gazed upon Túrin. Without fear Túrin looked in those eyes as he raised up his sword; and straightaway he fell under the dreadful spell of the dragon, and was as one turned to stone. Thus long they stood unmoving, silent before the great Doors of Felagund. Then Glaurung spoke again, taunting Túrin. ‘Evil have been all your ways, son of Húrin,’ said he. ‘Thankless fosterling, outlaw, slayer of your friend, thief of love, usurper of Nargothrond, captain foolhardy, and deserter of your kin. As thralls your mother and your sister live in Dor-lómin, in misery and want. You are arrayed as a prince, but they go in rags. For you they yearn, but you care not for that. Glad may your father be to learn that he has such a son: as learn he shall.’ And Túrin being under the spell of Glaurung hearkened to his words, and he saw himself as in a mirror misshapen by malice, and he loathed what he saw.”
    —J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin, “The Fall of Nargothrond”

    Glaurung painted Túrin’s mirror black, didn’t he?
    He zeroed in on Túrin’s foibles and mistakes.
    He made no mention of the good he had accomplished.
    He cleverly inserted grains of truth into his half-lies and outright falsehoods…..
    Just enough to make his assertions sound plausible.
    And Túrin was undone…..

    Reply
  5. PhiLiP SchMidT on

    Just as so many times I have been undone, Pastor Andrew, by taking to heart the taunts of ‘Glaurung.’

    The enervating list that you cited –

    1. “I don’t deserve a second chance”
    2. “I am my shame. I am my secrets”
    3. “I will always feel and be this way”
    4. “I am defined by my worst moments”
    5. “My life, my dreams, my hopes no longer matter” –

    Reads like a play-by-play of the ‘misgivings’ that have greeted me day after day since as far back as I can remember…..
    Not just since I retired from Canada Post.
    And yes, I am acutely aware that this is no mere psychological phenomenon, but rather the taunts of the enemy of our souls.

    May I state emphatically that I do NOT enjoy being tyrannized by my own thoughts.
    That is why, Pastor Andrew, your blog ‘People Of The Second Chance’ conveys such great hope.
    As soon as I read your conclusion –
    “So if you feel like you don’t deserve a second chance…..
    That shame owns you, that your past failures define you, that life can’t change, that your wants and desires don’t matter…..
    Then, well, Jesus begs to differ” –
    I knew that you were right, although ultimately I’ve needed to ask repeatedly for Divine deliverance in turning down that static.

    Thank you, Pastor Andrew, for daring to venture into the darkened recesses of our hearts and minds.
    I daresay that deliverance will only dawn in our lives when these recesses are brought into the Light and the hobgoblins that they harbour within are exposed.
    Truly should we undertake to heed the counsel of the apostle Paul by “filling [our] minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8)

    Man.
    This is no trivial matter.
    To fall under the spell of Glaurung or NOT to fall under his spell…..
    It really is for all the marbles, isn’t it?

    Soberly,
    PhiL {‘•_•’}

    Reply

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