Repentance

repentance

“The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” – Jesus (Mark 1:15)

“Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education, and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And, it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts.”

“Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.”

– Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

In this quote, Peterson really gets at what repentance truly is, and what it looks like: It looks like making a decision to live differently.

Repentance is to exchange the ways of the world, for the ways of Christ; to say that following the path of guilt, shame, judgment, power, and fighting for meaning isn’t the path you are called to walk. Instead, you are called to walk a path of peace, life, grace, holiness, and love. 

Repentance is making a decision to live differently, not just feel differently.

So, with all that, ask yourself, “Are there any decisions you need to make today?

Because, you can choose to live differently, starting today.

Changing Directions During Lent

changing direction blog.pngI’ve recently been convicted of something in my life by God and it’s this: I’m often tempted to use God for godly outcomes. And, here is what I mean by that…

I have noticed a consistent temptation, and even posture, of me using my relationship with God to ensure godly or good outcomes. And, that last part is important. I’m not seeking to use God for bad outcomes – sinful things – but rather for good and holy things – Kingdom things. And, here is what that might look like in the practical, tangible ways I’ve noticed in my life…

1. I spend time in prayer to ensure my preaching is good, but not to connect with God.

2. I serve to see God’s Kingdom grow, but not to find God in the serving.

3. I fast, but do it to ensure that a new project goes well, rather than as a way to sacrifice and focus on God.

4. I rely on God when I need Him, but rely on my gifting and skill at other times.

Do you see how subtle the shift is in practical, but real life ways? And, do you also see how dangerous it can be? Because prayer, serving and reliance can quietly shift from God to the ourselves or the good things God calls us to do. But, the truth is, as soon as the focus shifts from God to ourselves, we’ve lost the point.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way, “Along the way, the primacy of God and His work gives way ever so slightly to the primacy of our work in God’s Kingdom. We begin to think of ways to use God in what we’re doing. The shift is barely perceptible… We continue to believe the identical truth. We continue pursuing good goals. It usually takes a long time for the significance of the shift to show up. But, when it does, it turns out that we have not so much been worshipping God as enlisting Him as our trusted and valuable assistant.”

That last sentence is what stopped me in my tracks and caused me to really reflect on my motives, not just my actions.

And so, I write all this because this is the season of Lent – a season when we are to take a hard and reflective look at our lives, and reveal any subtle shifts that have happened. Because, they can happen and they can be hard to notice, but they need to be revealed and repented of. And, I use that word in the proper way – repentance is not about feeling bad, but about changing direction. We need to repent of our tendency to use God, and move toward worshipping, loving and appreciating Him.

So, I write this because, my bet is, I’m not alone in this temptation. But, becoming aware of it is the first step to changing it. And, it’s something worth changing. It’s subtle. It’s a small shift. But, it can change everything.

3 Strands of DNA ~ Metanoia and the Next Step

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On Sunday we had a great day. We were able to baptize some people, which is always amazing and I got to share on Metanoia. Metanoia is a word that is all about changing direction, and taking a new step. Which is exactly what we saw when people were baptized.

The trouble is that metanoia is translated as “repent”. This isn’t wrong it’s just that in our world today “repenting” is tied more to feeling emotionally bad about your sin, than changing direction.

So on Sunday I unpacked what metanoia really means. That it is about transformation, and not just feeling bad about sin but embracing the life that God has for you. Metanoia is all about making changes, embracing the path God has for you, and making some course corrections. It is not about feeling guilty and shame, it’s about embracing the Kingdom and life before you.

So when Jesus says in Mark 1:15, “”The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” What he wants isn’t for you to feel bad, but to live differently. The focus is on the change and transformation you can experience in your life because of Jesus and his kingdom.

And I shared all of this because I believe that in our church, we are built on Metanoia. We are built on seeing change, we are built on pursuing transformation. Part of our DNA is believing that Jesus can change your life, and you can partner with him in changing others. This is what Metanoia truly means, not feeling bad, but embracing the way of Jesus.

Rowan Williams puts it this way, “When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective”.

And that’s what matters to us here: gaining a new perspective on life because of Jesus Christ. So our main point was pretty simple: we care deeply about transformation here. And we must never let this go, because this is not only part of our DNA but God’s DNA. God cares about transformation, new direction, and new hope. And we get to be part of it.

So I closed with a simple challenge. If God is about transformation, what might he want to change in your life? What might you be called to leave behind, or to embrace? What changes is he looking to lead you into? What might courageously following him look like? What might be just one next step?
Because, metanoia is all about changing direction, and taking the next step. So what might that look like in your life?

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaWe care deeply about transformation.

Teaching Points:

  • If we don’t know who we are we can drift from whom God has made us.
  • We are a grace-first church.
  • Church isn’t someplace you go, it’s a people you belong to.
  • Metanoia means a change of mind that results in a change of direction.
  • One of our core values here is transformation.
  • When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective. Rowan Williams
  • We celebrate people making life change.
  • We should practice some metanoia.
  • Metanoia involves embracing what God has for you, the kingdom in front of you.
  • Metanoia is more than feeling bad it’s about living differently.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? When have you ever been lost? When you think of “repent” what jumps to mind? How have you seen transformation valued here? What is God calling you to embrace or leave behind? What next step can you take? Who can help you?

Challenge for the Week: Take a next step towards Jesus’ path for you.

 

 

 

Welcome to Lent

Well this Sunday we are launching a new series for Lent. Lent has started and it’s an absolutely necessary Christian practice. And come Sunday we will be exploring what Lent is, why it’s needed, and also how it can change your life. Lent isn’t an easy time, but it is a necessary time.

So throughout Lent we are going to be looking at the “7 Woes of Jesus”. This is where Jesus condemns the religious, moral, and spiritual elite of his day and shares with them how they are missing the point. The point for us is that if the religious, moral, and spiritual elite can miss the point – so can we as Christians. So we want to explore how we might be missing the point in our lives, and getting them back on track.

Lent is a time of reflections, repentance, and rededication and we want to do that through asking the Spirit to speak to us, challenge us, and convict us. So I know it’s not a fun time, but a necessary time.

Oh and since its Valentines Day, we’ll talk a little bit about love too 🙂 I know a bit disjointed but we’ll work it all together. Mostly because my lovely wife said “You need to talk about love on Valentines day” and since I love her, that’s what we’ll do too 🙂

7 Woes