This morning I’m basking in a wonderful truth about God…the real God who is actually there.  Not the god who conveniently upholds all my desires & cravings, nor the god of rules who stands waiting before me with a whip…but the God who perfects both truth and love, who models the right path, and fills me with what is needed for me to follow Him this day.  He helps me to see behind the veil of appearances of the world I live in.  He helps me to recognize the depravities & errors in my own thoughts & feelings, and to choose His better way.  He fills me with courage and strength to take a step in that direction…one step at a time.

The verse that’s blessing my socks off this morning is Romans 2:4…that God’s kindness leads us to repentance.  Repentance is a wonderful thing, truly a gift from God.  He grants us the ability to see when our path is diverging from His, and to make course corrections at any time.  We’re never too far away from God that He can’t reach us in a second, never too dark that His light cannot reach us!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced countless “repentances” in my life that have put me back on the right track in my relationship with God and His plan for me.  I can’t tell you how thankful I am for His great, overarching love and faithfulness!

Repentance” comes from the Biblical Greek word “Metanoia,” which means “change of mind”…or, like in the military, doing an “about face.”  Jesus talked a lot about repentance…turning away from the broken promises of the world and following Him instead.  In a world that is chronically broken and in-crisis, we don’t make progress by trying to manage or eradicate darkness…but by focusing on God’s light.  I repented initially as a teenager many years ago, and He changed the course of my life forever.  But there are also smaller-scale course corrections in daily life, that are essential for keeping me in close connection to my Lord.  I used to believe that repentance was something we only needed to do once, but in a way it’s a daily thing…an opportunity for us to choose to follow Jesus again this morning, and tomorrow morning, and so on.

This morning I’m praying about what I need to repent of so that I can see & follow Jesus more clearly.  How about you?


The Sent Ones

John 20:19 – “On the evening of that first day of the week [after Jesus’ resurrection], when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

This is an amazing passage of scripture for many reasons.  Today I want to focus on just one of them…the connected words “sent” and “sending”.  This reveals one of the purposes of Jesus.  We have this way of putting Jesus’ work into our self-centered boxes, and I think most of us might say that His purpose in coming to our world in the flesh was for the cross…to pay for sin.  Of course, this is absolutely true – and praise God for that, right?!  But there were other reasons as well.  HE WAS SENT HERE TO SEND US.

The “sent-ness” of God’s people is certainly not limited to the professional religious people we’ve come to associate with God’s work: Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains, Reverends….there are lots of titles.  I’ve lived in that world vocationally, in various forms, for 22 years.  One of my greatest struggles during this time, a struggle that is shared by many of my “comrades of the cloth”, is the ongoing difficulty of trying to convince all the people of the church – aka “the laity” – that THEY are the Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains….and that the job of leaders is to equip them to be & do what God has called them to.  The modern system of “church” isn’t like this, it has a way of perpetuating the myth of the clergy as God’s true sent ones, and the rest of His people as their supporters.  Often we see the clergy reinforcing this type of thinking.

The ministry of Jesus was all about empowering those around Him to continue His work in their own circles of influence.  His work was about loving, healing, sacrificing, and helping people transform into citizens of a New Kingdom….to discover their true spiritual identities and devote themselves to His mission in their everyday lives so powerfully that it exploded like a good virus.  This was, has always been, and still is the way of His Kingdom…and it’s available to anyone who will answer that calling.  Notice that the scripture says “disciples” and not “apostles.”  His sending commission was given to the whole group of people there, not just “the leaders.”

It’s interesting that when we see the word “sent” in this context, we automatically think in terms of changing location to take the message of Jesus somewhere else.  Surely, this is true of people who are called to raise support, leave their homes and go “out to the mission field.”  But what about the rest of us?  When we have this limited view of “sent-ness,” it breeds the false idea that God’s work is happening somewhere else…and those of us who aren’t called to it, or can’t afford it, are stuck here in our own lives with little missional purpose.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What about the mission field outside your door?  What about your neighbor or co-worker or friend who desperately needs to know the Good News of hope that lives in you? Who’s going to serve & love that person if not you?  Who’s going to listen? Who’s he/she going to turn to in times of trouble if not you?  Every single follower of Jesus is sent to be His representative in the ebb & flow of daily life….with people we already know.

You don’t need to go to another country to be “on mission”…you just have to “live sent.”  Geography is irrelevant.  THAT is the mission that we are all sent into.  There’s nothing wrong with overseas missions, they’re a noble & God-given pursuit, but many of us want to jump over the familiar & mundane opportunities He’s already given us in order to shine His light somewhere else.  That’s part of the reason why short-term mission trips often produce a short-term depression after the experience….because temporary transformative experiences don’t replace the long-term relationships and circumstances that God has already sent us into.

Where is your mission field?  Where is God sending you?