Repentance is More Than Just Saying “I’m Sorry”, It’s a Commitment to Change

Saying “I’m Sorry” is a Lot Easier Than Actually Living It Out

Changing is not an easy thing to do. It’s a lot easier to say the words than it is to really change. Words come out of our mouths and roll off our tongues like warm butter on a hot biscuit. Then we move on to the next thing we’re going to need to say “I’m sorry” for.

When we get caught doing something wrong, it’s natural to feel embarrassed and even truly sorry. However, we can get stuck in a rut of saying “I’m sorry” but not actually change anything. The Bible tells us, “If we confess our sins to God, he can be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” (1 John 1:9)

So according to the Bible, we must say that we’re sorry, but it doesn’t stop there. “Turn back to God! The kingdom of heaven will soon be here.” (Matthew 3:2)

Saying I’m sorry is not enough.

The children’s message given by sisters Lesa and Jodi illustrated this very well.

Banana Smashing Skit
Jodi: Ooh…I love bananas. I see you have some tasty bananas there.
Lesa: Yep! I do! Would you like one?
Jodi: Oh yes! I would!
Lesa: Okay, I’ll get you one. (Places a banana on the table away from the bunch and smashes it.)
Jodi: Hey! You said you were going to give me a banana, not smash it. How can I eat a smashed banana?
Lesa: Oh dear! I am so sorry. Truly sorry. Let me get you one right now. (Gets another banana and smashes it.)
Jodi: Have you gone bonkers? That was my banana. You said you were giving me that. Now there are two smashed bananas. I don’t think you are really sorry.
Lesa: (Puts down the mallet.) Yes, I am truly sorry. Look, I am putting down my hammer. Would you like a banana?
Jodi: Well, yes, I would but no more smashing.
Lesa: No problem. Now close your eyes.
Jodi: No way. You might smash a banana on me.
Lesa: Never. I am sorry, really.
Jodi: Okay. (The volunteer closes his eyes.)
Lesa: (Picks up a banana, peels it, and takes a bite.) Yum!
Jodi: (Opens her eyes.) Hey!!!!

Well, what do you think? Was she really sorry? I don’t think so. How could we tell? Because she didn’t change her behavior.

To repent is to regret so deeply as to change the mind or conduct and develop new mental or spiritual habits.

Last week Pastor Buffum asked us to read through the first 3 chapters of Luke. This week she went through them pointing out the connections of cousins John and Jesus. Their similarities and their differences.

In Luke 3:3-18, John is telling people to turn back to God and their sins will be forgiven. He told us to get ready and stop just saying we’re sorry and to do something to show that we’re really giving up our sins.

John said that just because we say that we’re Christians doesn’t mean that we are. God can turn stones in to Christians if He wants to.

God has an axe ready to cut down any tree that’s not producing good fruit and throw it in the fire.

I don’t know about you…but I don’t want to be thrown in the fire.

The crowds asked John, “What should we do?” He said to share your food and clothes with those who don’t have any. To stop charging people more than they owe and not to scare people into paying you to keep them safe.

Repentance requires more than just words. It is being aware of the need for change and doing something about it.

Repentance is a commitment to change and do better.

Having a Plan for Building Something isn’t Any Good if You Don’t Use it

The Bible is a Blueprint for Building Our Best Life

We live in a world of idea bombardment, and it’s hard to sort through it all to know what is real. We see things on the news, social media, the internet, and TV programs. We hear things from our family, friends, neighbors, and community. So many different opinions.

The world thrives on conflict.

How can we determine what is real and what’s not, what’s right and what’s wrong? This is a subjective question that can be hard to answer. Who do you believe and why?

Just like building a structure can be done in a variety of different ways…so can your life. Ultimately some things work, and some things don’t. A house without a roof is going to get wet inside when it rains. A house without a foundation is not going to stay standing when the ground erodes.

A house built on a solid foundation will weather the storm.

Back to the question of how can we know how to build our best lives? Just like building a good building, we need a plan…a blueprint. Just like how a building project doesn’t go well when the blueprint is ignored, so it is with our lives and ignoring the Bible.

The Bible is our blueprint for building our best life.

Using a blueprint requires some work. Just because you have a blueprint in your office doesn’t mean it’s going to help you if you don’t get it out and use it. This doesn’t mean that unrolling it and flipping through the pages is enough…it’s not. You need to study it, learn it, and implement it or the building will not turn out well.

The same is true for life. If we don’t get the Bible off the shelf and study it, learn it, and implement it, our lives won’t turn out well.

A good builder doesn’t just look at the blueprint once and then put it away. There are questions and problems that come up constantly throughout the project. He uses it every day until the project is finished. The more he studies it, the more he knows about what is expected.

We should use the Bible in the same way. We should study it daily so that we know what is expected.

Another problem that can happen with blueprints is when a builder doesn’t fully understand or misinterprets the blueprint. Just looking at the foundation plan doesn’t tell us about the roof. Just looking at one page of the print will lead to mistakes in the construction as well as subcontractors being led to do the wrong things. This is why it’s important to ask questions and discuss it with the architect and other builders.

This happens with the Bible as well. We can’t just pick and choose a verse here or there and not know the whole plan.

You need to take the whole Bible into account so that you don’t make a mistake when building or lead others to.

Blueprints let us see what the architect expects from the builder. He shares all the different aspects of a building and how they should fit together. A builder who has built buildings before can begin to think he knows how to build and doesn’t need a blueprint. Inevitably this is when mistakes happen and can be very costly.

God is the architect of our lives and when we begin to think we know more than Him problems are sure to happen.

A builder must decide if he’s going to trust the architect’s plans or not. He can ignore them and build the building however he wants. The problem is…the building doesn’t belong to him, and if it’s built wrong, he won’t get paid.

The same is true for us. We have free will, and we can live our lives however we want.

The problem is, in the end, the payment we receive will be what we earned.

Use the Bible as your life blueprint. Get it off the shelf, study it, learn it, ask questions, and build your best life.

This past Sunday, Jim Miller shared the message to “Just Tell Them the Truth”. Here is a list of Scriptures that he used throughout his message.

  • Matthew 6:33
  • 2 Corinthians 11:2-3
  • Ephesians 4: 14-15
  • Colossians 2:8
  • 2 Timothy 4:1-4
  • Hebrews 2:1
  • Revelation 2:4-5
  • Revelation 3:3
  • Romans 3:23
  • Romans 6:23
  • Romans 5:8
  • Romans 10:13
  • Romans 10:9
  • Romans 12:1-2

Change is Going to Happen, Whether We Embrace it or Not

Memories From the Past, Looking to the Future, Living in the Present

This past Sunday was Pastor Lee’s last Sunday serving as our pastor. After more than eight years of him being a part of our lives, it was an emotional day. You don’t spend this amount of time with someone without there being a significant impact made.

Change is inevitable and we need to embrace it.

We need to remember that if we get stuck, we will become stagnant. Think about how fresh and clear a running stream is. Then compare that to a stinky, muddy, moss ridden pond.

A large portion of Sunday’s service was spent sharing what he means to us and what we have meant to him.

He shared that over the years we have learned a lot from each other. He knows us, who we are, what we like, and how we act. We learned the same about him and his family. Three things that he said he learned were…

  • People are searching for God, knowingly or unknowingly
  • The Bible is still as relevant today as it was when it was written
  • The Church is necessary

Embracing these truths rather than pushing them away makes for a better community and world.

Embracing is hugging, taking up readily and gladly. There was a lot of embracing (hugging) done Sunday.

As a church we’ve been going through a lot of change in the past year and Pastor Lee’s leaving is just one part of that change. This is why it’s important to be “flexibly rigid”. (link to post)

We need to be true to who God has called us to be without getting distracted by things that are fleeting.

A good example of this is one of the stories that was shared. It was about a milk cow that was bought. It was kicker. It kicked over the milk bucket. It kicked over the milking stool. Milking this cow was not going as planned.

At the same time there was a cow in the pasture that was not feeding its newborn calf. After giving this situation some thought, it was decided to see if the kicking cow would feed the calf…it did.

So, the pasture cow became the milk cow and the milk cow became the pasture cow. This is being flexibly rigid. They got a milk cow and the calf got fed. This was not their plan, but it worked out.

This is embracing change.

Let’s embrace the past and what we’ve learned from it.

Let’s embrace the future and the possibilities it holds

Let’s embrace the present and not forget to live every day in the here and now.

Thank you, Pastor Lee, for your leadership, friendship and making us better people!

Laughing With Sheep is Good, Just Be Careful Who the Shepherd Is

Seek the Balance of Humor and Seriousness

This past Sunday we were privileged to have Keith Anglemyer give us the message. Keith grew up in Tisdale UMC and now is the minister at Beloit 1st UMC. It’s exciting to see fruit that came from planting seeds.

He started by sharing his testimony and how his experiences in this church helped to shape him into who he is today. He told us the importance of attending church every week that his parents instilled. How his love for music grew out of the church, leading him to be a music teacher before God lead him to becoming a minister.

Keith’s message was titled “Laughing with the Sheep”. He told us how as a kid in the church we were expected to sit still, be quiet, and behave. Then he shared a story of a youth trip where Melvin drove down the highway for miles with his turn signal on and the laughter that was had. These two seemingly opposing positions lead to a bit of a struggle.

Are we supposed to laugh in church?

This is a struggle that has been going on forever. There is “high church” that emphasizes formality and resistance to a modern contemporary worship style. On the opposite side there is “low church” that focuses less on rituals and liturgical contexts. These differing worship practices often times lead to confusion, misunderstanding and sometimes churches splitting.

You’ve probably heard it said of sheep, that, “Get one to go and they will all go”. Let me tell you, this is very true. I used to have sheep and there were multiple times when I watched one sheep jump over something that wasn’t there and every following sheep jumped in the same spot.

Because of this follow the leader behavior, sheep have been called stupid. This isn’t the case. They act the way they do as a way of protection. Their moving together collectively is a survival instinct.

The Bible is full of examples comparing us to sheep and the importance for us to follow the Good Shepherd. We are easily persuaded to follow crowds and do the things that others are doing. Whether this is worshiping in the way that we always have or something else.

The key to this is to know the Shepherd and follow Him…not other sheep.

I think Satan knows that we tend to act like sheep and he uses this to get us to follow along, often going the wrong way. Don’t blindly follow other sheep.

Get to know the Good Shepherd by reading about Him who He is and how to worship.

Remember, even though we act like it, we aren’t really sheep.

It’s Okay to Embrace the Busy, it’s Part of God’s Plan

“Work” Isn’t a Bad Word, and it Shouldn’t be Used That Way

Last week I wrote about the topic of being busy and it’s current prevalence in conversations. This frequency was confirmed in a recent Ray Edwards podcast, “5 Reasons Why You Need to Take More Time Off”. My intent is not to throw Ray under the bus, on the contrary, he starts off by saying, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Having grown up on a farm, I can totally identify with this.

Growing up on the farm explains a lot about my work philosophy.

I think the issue of being busy, working too much, or taking time off, comes down to a couple of things. First is a societal push to have life goals of long weekends, vacations and retirement. Second is the meaning of words and how we use them.

It seems the subject of working less is being pushed more and more. I’ve heard Michael Hyatt speak of taking long sabbaticals. The internet, books and social media are full of ideas for working less and less, some say the goal should be 4 hours per day.

I don’t know but this just seems crazy to me.

I think the key to this issue is in understanding ourselves and finding the balance in what we do. This will be different for everyone. Balance doesn’t mean resting the same amount of time that working. It means resting proportionately to working.

I base my work/rest balance on God’s 6-1 ratio. He worked six days and then rested one. He completed His work and then rested. His focus wasn’t on resting, it was on accomplishing His goals. When that was done then He rested. And He loved what He was doing.

We definitely need rest…the question is what is rest and how much is needed?

I remember when people would say they were bored, I never understood that. How can someone be bored when there is so much important work to do. I think boredom is rooted in not having found a purpose. That or they were just lazy.

God’s Word makes it very clear that we are instructed to work hard and put our best effort forward. The Bible, especially in the wisdom-filled book of Proverbs, speaks often of the cause and effect relationship of hard work and rewards as well as laziness and ruin. Bible Study Tools, Bible verses about laziness, Knowing Jesus, Open Bible.

Part of the problem is in the misuse of words.

Like the word “work” for example. People use this word as if it were a punishment. It’s as if they’ve been bad so now, they have to go to “work” rather than being able to play. The definition of work is activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

Sign me up…this sounds like something I would like to do.

Work becomes a problem when it causes us to become so focused on one thing that we lose sight of other things in life. (Take it from a recovering workaholic.) Work hard on all the different areas that make up a well-balanced life not just a job.

  • Build my relationship with God (Spiritual)
  • Build a family legacy (Family)
  • Help people build their dreams (Vocation)
  • Build wealth (Financial)
  • Build the best me (Personal Well-being)
  • Help others build a better them (Ministry)
  • Help build a better world (Social and Community)

The key is to find the work that you love and do it. This is where the real problem lies. Most people have settled for a mondain existence rather than finding their God given purpose.

Get clear on what God wants you to do and get BUSY, WORKING on that!

It Is the Bible in A Nutshell

John 3:16 is the Summation of the Whole Thing

John 3:16 may be the shortest Cliffs Notes ever. This verse is the whole Bible in one sentence. God loved us so much that he gave His Son to pay for our mistakes with his life. In return, our love for God is believing this to be true. Everything in the book points to this one thing and this one thing covers every other thing.

Real love is simple but hard.

Love is treating others the way God would treat them. We don’t do this very well. He’s had millions of reasons to condemn the world, but He hasn’t. The number of times we have given Him reasons to erase this whole thing and start over from scratch are too many to count.

“God is love. Those who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:7-21 Love comes from God. We are given opportunities to exhibit this love, but it doesn’t work if we don’t “do” it. We must choose to be different, to do different.

Rene Denfeld experienced a difficult childhood. She lived on the streets to stay clear of her registered sex offender stepfather and the long line of pedophiles that came in and out of her life. She grew to become a Chief Investigator for the public defender’s office, an author and an adoptive parent of three children from foster care.

She wrote about her kids in a New York Times essay “Four Castaway’s Make a Family”. “I had come to believe that the most important therapy is permanence. Children can sense when they are in a temporary home. All my children grew rapidly once settled, going from below the fifth percentile in height and weight to close to average. More important, they grew emotionally.”

“It is love that feeds the soul, allows us all to flourish.”

Love is serving. God loved us first and His never ends. We have been given talents and abilities that are specific to us. If we love God and love others, we’ll use them to make other’s lives better. In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that if we use these “without love, we are nothing”.

Our human nature is to be selfish. Loving others is about placing their needs above our wants.

John R. Fox sacrificed his life in World War II when he called for an artillery strike on the very position where he and his men were located. Fox was behind enemy lines and was surrounded by German soldiers. When he called for a strike right where he was, the soldier who got the message knew it. Fox was informed and he said, “Fire it.” After some further questions by the artillery operator Fox confirmed his coordinates and stated, “There’s more of them than there is of us.” His actions led to a halt in the German offensive.

The instructions given to us in John 3:16 are simple. We’ve heard this scripture used so much, we often take it for granted and don’t give it the significance it’s due. Most of the time we try to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Don’t over complicate this simple thing.

God loves you; I love you; go out and share that love.

The Internal Battle Between Right and Wrong

Are You Conscious of Your Conscience?

Each of us has an ongoing internal battle of right and wrong. To make this internal conflict even more difficult, we’re bombarded by external forces pulling us in different directions.

How do we determine who’s going to win this battle?

What makes one thing right and another wrong? How do we know which is which? Ultimately, it comes down to what you use to measure right and wrong.

This battle is difficult, but no one said it was going to be easy.

As a Christian, I use the Scripture, the whole Scripture, for this. If I’m going to base my rights and wrongs in the Bible, I need to be careful to not pick and choose only small pieces but use the whole thing.

Just like a blueprint for building, if I don’t use the whole plan the building won’t be what it was designed to be.

The Bible is the blueprint for building my life.

We also have a built in right and wrong meter called a conscience. This meter is a sense of moral goodness for one’s own conduct, intentions or character together with a feeling of right or good. We can choose to listen to it or not.

Someone was asked if they knew the difference between conscience and conscious. They answered, CONSCIENCE is being aware of what’s right and wrong, CONSCIOUS is wishing you didn’t.

The battle of right and wrong doesn’t begin where we think it does…IT BEGINS WHERE WE THINK.

If decisions are choices…and our thinking determines our decisions, then we do what we do because of our thinking. It’s up to us to make the choices wisely. I would recommend following the blueprint.