Tag Archives: repentance

Mathew 3

3 Feb

Continuing going through the book of Matthew one chapter a day with one thought for the day. Today is round two of Matthew chapter 3. For previous post see here, and for sermon at Ecclesia see here.

3:1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

In speaking on this topic subject it was actually one of the teachings at Ecclesia that I received a lot of positive input (and by positive I mean people feeling like God was working on their heart) in our 11 month history. It was interesting because the subject was repentance. Not really a wildly culturally popular subject but I think it resonated with people’s heart because we framed repentance within the first century meaning and not the associations that we make with that word today of someone with a bullhorn standing on a soapbox yelling at people.

Repentance is from the Hebrew word shuv or teshuva. It doesn’t mean to have a good cry but it means to come home. Repentance is a word of homecoming. It is a word that says that it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done…you can come home again. I know you don’t believe it but you can come home again. I know others have given you the impression that you could never belong to God after what you’ve done but you can come home again.

That’s a word that only makes sense from a platform of love not hate.

So what is keeping you from coming home?

As an excercise for your heart please read Luke 15 and the story of the prodigal son then read these words by Henry Nouwen from his book The Return of the Prodigal:

“Why should I leave the place where all I need to hear can be heard? The more I think about this question the more I realize that the true voice of love is a very soft and gentle voice speaking to me in the most hidden places of my being. It is not a boisterous voice forcing itself on me demanding my attention. It is the voice of a nearly blind father who has cried much and died many deaths. It is a voice that can be heard by those who allow themselves to be touched.”

PostSecrets

12 Dec

“Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.”—W.H. Auden

A song came out a few years ago called Dirty Little Secrets by All American Rejects. They got their idea for the song from a website called Post Secrets. This is a website in which people send in post cards with confessions of things that they have done but have not told anyone. Here are a few of the more tame ones:

postsecret1.jpgpostsecret2.jpgpostsecret3.jpgpostsecret4.jpg

There is a phrase used in the recovery movement: You are only as sick as your secrets

Your only as sick as your secrets.

Why? Is it simply because you have bottled this thing up that you don’t what anyone to know about? Is it just below the surface and you are constantly worried that someone will find out. Is it just physiological and the person who doesn’t hide things is healthier and therefore lives longer?

I’m sure it doesn’t hurt.

The Christian world view doesn’t necessarily split things into compartments. Jesus doesn’t stress to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind because it is possible to love God in one area and not another. These area’s in fact leak into each other. There was a guy named James who told us to confess our sins to each other.

Or as otherwise translated, “spiritually vomit upon one another.” Not to be too expressive but have you ever felt sick and vomited? Vomiting may not be pleasant but generally we feel a bit better after than we did before.

Prayer is confessing to God what he already knows.

And maybe when we begin to call something what it really is we can begin to do something about it.

I think of Adam and Eve and the creation story. There was a point when they knew who they were. Instead of confessing…they blamed. They hid behind a bush. They pointed fingers and some cases gave the finger. There became something deep within them that was wrong and they could do nothing about it. They were naked and ashamed. Wait, weren’t they already naked? There was no something wrong and their way of dealing with it was alienating themselves from God and from each other.

I think of how much we are like Adam and Eve. We are acutely aware that something has gone terribly wrong. Like the people who share the most intimate and devastating secrets with the whole world except for the very person they should go to and seek reconciliation with we take our guilt and shame often to anywhere and anything but God.

I read this passage last night in The Emotionally Healthy Church:

One of the struggles in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, pictures what it feels like to follow God in taking a deep, hard look inside. Eustace, a young boy, becomes a big, ugly dragon as a consequence of being selfish, stubborn, and unbelieving. Now he wants to change and go back to being a little boy, but he can’t do it himself. Eventually the great lion Aslan (representing Jesus) appears to him and leads him to a beautiful well to bathe. But since he is a dragon, he can’t enter the well.

Aslan tells him to undress. Eustace remembers that he can cast off his skin like a snake. He takes off a layer by himself, dropping it to the ground, feeling better. Then as he moves to the pool, he realizes there is yet another hard, rough, scaly layer still on him. Frustrated, in pain, and longing to get into that beautiful bath, he asks himself, “How many skins do I have to take off?”

After three layers, he gives up, realizing that he cannot do it. Aslan then says, “You will have to let me undress you.” To which Eustace replies:

I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft…Then he caught hold of me…and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again…After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me…with his paws…in these new clothes I’m wearing.

There isn’t a very proud way to approach God. I don’t think that we come to God as a groveling peasant either but we come back as someone who has recognized that we have wandered far from home.