Remember when…

During the Holidays, I always turn a little nostalgic. One of my very first320857fcaa3e147d2dfd00f06f83d6d1
memories is being in Virginia for a brief time after Dad left the Navy.  I must have been 2, maybe a little more.  But I remember walking down the street with my Dad and Mom.  We had gone down town in Hampton to do a little shopping.  I was all bundled up in my winter clothes, and a light snow was coming down so slowly that you could reach out a catch a big snowflake for a second before it desolved.  All the stores had their Christmas lights on.  Obviously I can’t remember everything of that event, but in my mind it was like a Normal Rockwell painting.  That memory has brought me wonderful feelings about the holidays ever since.  It was one of those picture book memories that shapes my attitude and feelings about Christmas.
Maybe that is why I am obsessed, (Maybe a little too strong a word – depending on who you're talking to – if you talk to my family, it is spot on),  obsessed with capturing the past so that I will remember the wonderful events of days gone by.  I guess that is why I love decorating our Christmas tree to the music of the Messiah every year. As a youth, I would buy a big calendar to put on my wall beside my desk in my bedroom.  Each day I would write down what happened – just the high points & the things I did not want to forget.  Later in college I would graduate to a journal, at first hand writtpen-and-journal (2)en.  I have boxes of stuff out in the garage, keep sakes that take me back in time.  I have things that I have purchased from all of the world on my journeys, decorating my office at work and at home. Some things especially have deep meaning & I connect them to some important event that took place.  
My memory is so poor, & getting worse.  So these things help me keep in touch with my past.  Especially my photography – I can look at those old photos, and recapture the days gone by.  They help me to remember the blessings of God and the great joy that He has allowed me to have.
There is a flip side to this.  During a very dark period of my life, that came and went for about 10 years (mostly dark) – I kept a very detailed journal of the events, my failings and my feelings. It was much easier to do since I had joined the computer age.  So I wrote a lot.  I was struggling with depression during those years.  Finally I started to get well, thanks to therapy, my wife and some very loving people at Pathway. But I wouldn’t let go of that dark past.   I would occasionally go back and read about what I had gone through and how it had such a devastating effect on me.  The worst part was not so much what had happened, but what I thought about those situations and how they affected feelings and my self-image. For years I hung on to those writings – going back to visit occasionally.  It was like going back to a garbage dump.  It was smelly. It was awful.  And it would drag me back down into the darkness.  I couldn’t really break free.  God had forgiven. I had forgiven.  But there it was, always waiting for me to return & recapture the pain, the hurt and the evil darkness. Finally I did what Jan (my wife) had kept telling me to do. (Sometimes we men don’t always listen right away to those who love us.)  I deleted it all, and threw all of the hard copies into the shredder.  I would never be able to go back now. It hurt when I did it.  But now they were gone.   It was like cleaning a wound, hurtful and yet the only way for it to heal up.  Over time, those things began to leave my conscious memories.  Then I began to experience the real healing that I so desperately needed from God. There is a great spiritual lesson in all of this.  There are things in life that God wants us to remember.  He wants us to look back and count our blessings.  He wants us to remember just how good and faithful and loving and forgiving and wonderful He really is.  Hence, we need to remember His kindness for two basic reasons. The first, so that we know where our blessings come from & can praise Him. Second, so that we can heed his warnings, and not go “off-roading” from His plan.  He wants us to keep our lives in His circle of love. The good memories keep us on track. And then there is the matter of the brokenness of our lives, the results of the darkness.  He wants to forgive them.  We need to forgive others and ourselves.  And then we need to bury those events in the graveyard, never to go back.  Not even to lay flowers.  There will come a time, when you are so healed, that you can share them with others to help them in their despair. But this is always from the side of victory, not defeat.  As a result we praise God all the more. Worship Man In the coming “holidays” focus on the good memories and try to banish the hurt and pain of things forgiven.  God has forgiven them, and buried them. We need to do the same, and then move on in the Love, Joy and Peace, that comes when we remember all the great things God has done for us, in us and through us.
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In Christi Gloriam,
Pastor Mike


I Should Have Been a Cowboy…

I Should Have Been a Cowboy

At least that what Toby Keith sings. bf01f0378654694e73c42df259260c40

“I should've learned to rope and ride
Wearing my six-shooter riding my pony on a cattle drive
Stealing the young girl's hearts
Just like Gene and Roy
Singing those campfire songs
I should've been a cowboy

I might of had a side kick with a funny name
Running wild through the hills chasing Jesse James
Ending up on the brink of danger
Riding shotgun for the Texas Rangers
Go west young man, haven't you been told
Sleeping out all night beneath the desert stars
With a dream in my eye and a prayer in my heart”

That song takes me back to my boyhood days when we lived up in Eureka and the redwood forests were my playground.  We watched all of the movies with Roy Rogers, Rocky Lane, Bob Steele, Bill Cody, Gene Autry, Hoot Gibson, the Lone Ranger, Lash La Rou, Randolph Scott, Rex Allen, Tex Ritter, and of course the ultimate cowboy John Wayne. The list goes on and on.  Every Saturday we would walk to town and watch a double feature of the Western movies for 35 cents. We got our popcorn in cereal type boxes, and during the intermission, we would fold them up flat and throw them like Frisbees.  They were flying all over the theater like space ships fighting some crazed battle in the dark of the some cartoon interlude between features.  Needless to say, I was hooked.

Jan and I began serving in our first church up in the hills above Bakersfield.  It was a little old western town called Kernville, where people would retire out of the busy cities of LA.  It was certainly in vogue to wear hats and boots.  I wasted no time.  I loved it!  And it came with a lot of nostalgia for me.  Sometimes I feel like I should have been born back in the mid-19th century as a circuit riding preacher like the famous Peter Cartwright.

There is nothing that can match the dreams and imaginations of childhood.

We grow up having big romantic plans for our lives. Most of the time those childhood dreams morph into something more realistic.  After all, those heroic movies of the Texas rangers were fantasies.  It was really never that glorious, or heroic, or exciting as Hollywood made them.

But if you love the great outdoors, and can see yourself in mountains riding a horse down the canyon with beautiful stream bubbling beside, you just might have a bit of the western spirit in your heart.  Cowboys loved the idea of freedom and the opportunity to do whatever they wanted. “Don’t tie me down” with a lot of laws and regulations.  They liked making their own rules.

They had a fondness for excitement and danger.  They liked the open land and the beauty of nature. They loved their horses and a good saddle. They were attracted to the pristine wilderness and it became a favorite wandering place.  They didn’t like to be fenced in, just give them the freedom to roam.

If you can identify with these things, you just might be a cowboy at heart.

 

I believe that God loves those beautiful dreams of childhood. And I do believe that if we are following His pathway for our lives, sometimes, those dreams come into reality in one way or another.

 

Psalm 37 contains a great promise to those who choose God’s pathway for their lives.

3      Trust in the LORD and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4      Delight yourself in the LORD;

And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5      Commit your way to the LORD,

Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

6      He will bring forth your righteousness as the light

 

When we allow God to take over our lives, and we begin to live in His desired pathway for us, His love has a way of intertwining some of our own dreams into His Divine plan for us.  He delights in our joy and happiness.

Many people are afraid to turn the lives over to the control of God, for fear of what their life might be like if they have to follow His leading, and submit to His rules of the road.  I want to assure you from my own personal experience, that in following God, you will have some of the greatest adventures of your life.  Far beyond your wildest dreams of childhood.

Give it a try.  You just might discover the greatest Joy of your life.

Nothing can compete with or even begin to come close to God’s dream and vision for us.  You will be amazed.

 

Riding down the canyon, Pastor Mike



Pull the Trigger

Forgive-and-Forget-50865062_300

I once heard a pastor tell me, “I cannot forgive & will not forget.  I will take this to my grave.”

Although in the coming years, he seemed to have forgotten this promise, I have an inner feeling he was still holding on as he died, and I know that his wife never forgot.  How sad.  This whole idea of I can’t forgive or forget is a lie of the devil.

It is true that when bad things happen to us, it tends to stay front and center for some time, but by the grace of God it will fade away with time, never to be forgotten of course, but just not so debilitating.  It would be nice if we could just wipe our hard drive clean of the event, but our minds are not mechanical computers.  God made us living beings, not mechanical objects.

But there is another truth that far surpasses any wound that we might experience, regardless of how painful, even if it remains in our memory banks.  God has graciously given us a heart that has the ability to over-ride the mind and the hurts and pains that come to us through life.  The heart is the center of our affections, the true compass of our lives, our life navigator if you will.  We do not have to hold these hurts in our hearts.

No one has had his or her “heart” wronged more than God.  But when we reach out for His forgiveness, He puts these hurts behind Him, buries them in the deepest part of the sea and then posts a “no fishing” sign to warn us not to go there, He won’t. If God can put our sins behind Him, and we are made in His Image and filled with His Spirit, don’t you think that it might just be possible for us to put the hurts that people have caused us, behind us?  This is especially true where love comes into the equation.

Because of God’s infinite love, mercy and grace, He chooses in Christ, to regard the sins that have been forgiven, as having never existed at all.

That is just one of the glimpses of pure Heaven.  None of this pain will be remembered there.  That is the miracle of the forgiveness of God.  It sounds too good to be true.  But that is the essence of His love for us.  He allowed His son to bear our guilt & because of that sacrifice, He is willing to forgive, cleanse and prepare us for an eternity with Him, no guilt, no shame, no terrifying memories, no more hurt and no more emotional pain.

Because of our status with God (forgiven and Spirit filled) we can do this, if we have the will to do it.  We can regard the sins that we have committed and the sins committed against us as never having existed.  Failure at this point robs us of the joy & peace of God.  It also keeps us from being used by God as effectively as He would like to do.  Is it risky to do so?  Of course!  But life in a fallen world is full of risks.  This is one risk that we can’t afford not to take.

As followers of Jesus know, another world exists beyond this one.

We can, in part, live in that world now.  The Kingdom of God has come with the 1st coming of the Messiah, Jesus.  We often forget that we can live in His Kingdom in the here and now.  There are so many promises about this in His Word. (To start check out the Psalms.)  Promises that he intended for us to inherit.  Promises that we can experience in the present world.  The final fulfillment, will come with His Second Coming, where He will literally bring His Reign into this world.

While we live our lives in the great anticipation of His return, we can experience His heart, His peace, His forgiveness, His reconciliation, and even hearts that can let go of past hurts while living in the presence of His Glory.

The Bible makes a direct connection between our heart and our lives. For instance, if you have a problem with profanity, that’s not a problem with your mouth. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to be critical and say sarcastic things, that’s not a problem in your mind. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to exaggerate things and shade the truth, that’s not a problem with your thought process. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to say things that you think people want you to say rather than what you really need to say, that’s not a problem with your fear, that’s a problem in your heart.  If you choose to live in the pain of the past, that is not a problem in your memories.  That is a problem in your heart. What you say, what you do, and what you feel has a direct connection to your heart.

Whatever your heart is filled with is going to win the day as long as you live. If you’re filled with anger, anger is going to come out of your life.

If your heart is filled with depression, it’s going to come out in your life.

If your heart is filled with joy & peace, that’s going to radiate in your life.

The Bible says in Mark 12:30, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (NLT). Another way to say this is, love God with all your talk, all your feelings, all your thinking, and all of your emotions and with all that you have.

God’s warning is that what we say and hear is not enough!

We also have to act. Proverbs 14:23 says,

“Hard work is worthwhile, but empty talk will make you poor” (CEV).

That means we’ve got to move ahead with our lives, not remain stuck in the past. We have to learn to trust others again and to love again. I know it doesn’t feel safe. Some people never get past the “thinking about this” stage. What are you doing with your life? How long have you been ruminating over it?

When are you going to stop thinking about it and just do it?

When are you going to stop aiming at living the full Christian life,  and simply pull the trigger?

 

Mike-e1342678172131-150x150Veritas pro Christo et ecclesia,
Pastor Mike


“Regrets? I’ve had a few”

You might recognize those words from one of Frank Sinatra’s hits,
“I did it my way”. I’ve always disliked that song. I thought it was egotistical, an affront to the Face of God, and just plain arrogant.

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

If you are like me, you have had some regrets in your life. I have had more than a few, and more than I care to admit. There are a couple of things that I have learned about regrets in life:
First of all, you cannot go back in time and fix it. It is far too late for that. The decisions that you made back then, that felt so good and right at the time, turn out to be something that you will never fully recover from. You can seek forgiveness, and that will help with the healing. But some choices we make, we are bound to live with and that can remain a very hurtful part of your life, for the rest of your days on this earth. It is true in relationships, careers, moral choices, and the list can go on and on.
Secondly, I have discovered that the biggest hurts of all come from the ones you love the most. I have counseled many people in the course of my career, and it is unbelievable how much pain we cause for the ones that mean the most to us. Why is this so true? Why do we hurt the ones we love so deeply? The answer to those questions vary from hurt to hurt. Most of the time it comes from our childish immaturity. We want it our way. And we are willing to do just about anything to have it our way.
As I look at my life, the end is very near. Every day now, I hear of people dying of this or that, who are far younger than I am. And as I perform my duties as a pastor, laying them to rest, I can’t help but contemplate my own life. Because of my great insecurity, I always turn to the things that I messed up. The things I could have done differently or at the very least, better. You see, unlike the song, my regrets are “far too numerous to mention”. I could write a book about my own failures and lack of accomplishment. Too often, I see myself before God, feeling ashamed, trying to hide my face from the One who sees everything.

It is much more difficult to see my successes. They seem so small, so few, and so far in-between. That is what happens to us when we just have to do it our way. It is the oldest trick in God’s book, having it our way. It comes from the pride of the serpent, feeding Eve the great lie of life, “You can have it all, your way.” You get to be God.

It reminds me of a story I once heard:
A young, enterprising store clerk convinced his boss that a ten-cent sale would be a great way to reduce the overflowing inventory. The boss agreed, and the sale was a tremendous success.
This gave the young man an idea: He would open his own store stocking nickel and dime merchandise! So the young man approached his boss and asked him to invest in his idea for a portion of the profits.
The boss said no. He thought the idea was ridiculous, and told the young man, "Honestly, where would you find enough merchandise to sell for a mere nickel or dime?"
The determined young clerk went ahead with his plans anyway.
And eventually, F.W. Woolworth had stores all over the country!
Later, his former boss said with regret, "As far as I can figure out, every word I used to turn Woolworth down cost me about a million dollars."

Do you have some things in your past that you regret? Perhaps it's losing contact with someone you love or holding a grudge. Or losing a relationship that meant all the world to you. Or being unforgiving. The good news of Jesus Christ is that every day is a new day for His followers! His blood has cleansed us from all of our sins and Jesus gives us the amazing opportunity to start anew every day! That's the power of His Amazing Grace!

Thank God for the cleansing power of the cross to erase all your sins.
And then you ask Him to help you with any past regrets you might have.
By His grace you can start anew one day at a time It won’t feel that way at first, but if you are persistent, it can happen. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” --2 Corinthians 5:17 Perdonare Per Diem  - Pastor Mike



I Can’t Wait!

rushing-where
 
 
 
 

A long, long, time ago, Alabama sang a song that 'fit me to a tee':

 

"I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why.
Don't know why I have to drive so fast
My car has nothing to prove,
It's not new But it'll do 0 to 60 in 5.2
Can't be late, I leave plenty of time
Shaking hands with the clock,
I can't stop I'm on a roll
and I'm ready to rock
I hear a voice That say's I'm running behind
I better pick up my pace, It's a race
And there ain't no room For someone in second place."

 

I remember my mother laughing at me when I was 5 years old and just starting kindergarten (a traumatic life style change for me). My question was very simple. “How long do I have to keep going to school?” After falling apart in laughter, she gently broke the news to me that it would be, at the very least, another 12 years.

 

In my mind, the starter’s gun shot out, & my “race with time” had just begun.

I couldn’t wait to finish kindergarten.

I couldn’t wait to finish grade school and then high school.

I couldn’t wait to finish college. I stumbled out of the starter’s gate & it took me 5 years, but I finally did finish.

By then, I was a follower of Jesus and had my call to full time ministry.

I couldn’t wait to get married and have our own children.

I couldn’t wait to finish Seminary & come back home to California.

I couldn’t wait to get my first church in Kernville.

I couldn’t wait to become an associate up in Yuba City. But after 3 years,

I couldn’t wait to leave.

I couldn’t wait to finish my doctoral studies, but no one seemed to notice.

I couldn’t wait to grow a large church in Orangevale, but it all fell apart right before my very eyes. I wasn’t completely broken, but I was badly bent.

I couldn’t wait to get well, to get my mind right. It is still a battle at times.

I couldn’t wait to get on the “mission field”. After several short term trips,   I couldn’t wait to get into the 10/40 window and reach those yet unreached.

 

I know what you must be thinking. “Now there is a “Type A” Driven man."

And I have no defense for that accusation. As you can clearly see, I have been impatient for most of my life.

The good news is that God has a lot of patience.

2 Peter 3:8-9 NASB

8     But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

9     The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

 

For people like me, that is incredible. He could have squashed me like a bug, years ago. But His love for me, my soul, my eternity, is so very important. He was (& is) waiting for me to accomplish the task that was assigned to me when I became a follower of Jesus.

 

For me, I just keep prodding and kicking, like a rice farmer in Myanmar, trying to get that beast of burden to move a little faster. Some might say that I am too persistent. There is a big difference between being impatient and being persistent. Impatient people like me worry so much. We are fearful that we might run out of time & thereby miss out on the opportunity. I can see it all now. They are closing the door to the plane that I should have been on. As I race to the terminal gate, I am too late. I missed my connection. And so I worry. Always thinking about what might have been.

Matthew 6:25-34 NASB

25     “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink;

nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

33     “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,  and all these things will be added to you.

34     “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Life becomes so much sweeter when we allow God to do the leading and directing. He has His own timetable.

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Tempus fugit – Pastor Mike

 



RE-Pent Notes to complete July 19th Sermon

Isaiah 1:18-20
18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.  Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
 
1. What is the Deepest Need of Your Life/Nation Right Now?Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT Christ or Judgment?
a. Honesty b. Faith c. Surrender
Soul Searching
Step 4: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
 
2. What is repentance?
The Greek metanoia is simply the changing of one’s mind.
The Hebrew word shub (pronounced “shoov”) is more picturesque.
It means turning, as in turning around. the about-face. “Transgression” (pesa) is an act of rebellion or disloyalty.
It is like trespassing where a “No Trespassing” sign is posted.
“Iniquity” (avon) is a crooked or perverse act,
an intentional twisting of legal or moral intent.
“Sin” (hatach) is missing the mark. Here the idea is that even though we want to do God’s will, and even try to do it, we fail—
All sin is against God.
 
3. What does repentance involve? Conditions for Repentance
How should a Christian practice repentance?
Luke 13:1-5 NLT A Call to Repentance
 
4, Understand that repentance is a Work of God’s Spirit
John 16:7-8 NLT “when he comes, he will convict the world of sin…”
We need the Spirit; As we have seen, repentance is a work of grace.
a. the Spirit must teach us the Word of God
Unless the Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the truth of God’s Law, we’ll never be able to appreciate the standards of holiness and justice God.
b. the Spirit having shown us the Law of God, convicts us
of any situations, sentiments, thoughts, or practices in our lives that are contrary to the holiness of the Law of God
c. Spirit takes up another work in us; He begins to make us willing to do what God wants, to live as He desires, to make ourselves
Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT
d. Finally, Spirit of God enables us to declare our repentance to God. Identify sin: Confess sin: Changed mind about sin:
(I believe this is where I finished on Sunday)
 
5. In order to Understand repentance we must first understand the Mercy of God Romans 4:13-16 NLT
13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham
and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law,
but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith.
14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law,
then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless.
15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it.
(The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)
16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift.
And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according
to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s.
For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
We cannot repent until we receive the mercy of God,
shown to us in the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the phrase “polyphony of life” as a metaphor for the various melodies of life that captivate or consume our affections.  The invitation of Christ, he observed, does not come in such a way as to injure or weaken other loves, but always to provide a kind of cantus firmus to other melodies lest they run us adrift or out of tune.  The cantus firmus, which means “fixed song,” is a pre-existing melody that forms the basis of a polyphonic composition. I hear it all the time in my i-tunes collection, some of my favorite old songs, being redone electronically or to a different style of music, swing, jazz, whatever. Though the song introduces twists in pitch and style, counterpoint and refrain, the cantus firmus is the enduring melody not always in the forefront, but always playing somewhere within the composition.

Love of God was the cantus firmus for Bonhoeffer, the soul of the concerto and the clarifying essence for a life of various sounds and directions. “Where the cantus firmus is clear and plain, the counterpoint can be developed to its limits… Life isn’t pushed back into a single dimension, but is kept multi-dimensional and ployphonous as Bonhoeffer would say. (from Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.)

So it should be in our lives, if repentance is real then the mercy of God should resonate in our lives in all that we do. It may take many forms depending on our personality, gifts, and graces. But in the music of our life, the refrain of God’s mercy must be heard in all that we say and do.

It is both brave and essential to listen to the various melodies that hold our lives and shape our affections, and to ask what is the guiding principle (song) behind it all. The invitation of Christ is one that will engage all of life. The fully human Incarnate Son could make no lesser request.
His invitation is that of fullness of life, a diversity of loves and desires shaped and flourishing around a firm cantus firmus . In this love, all things their find their coherence; the broken fragments of lesser songs are remade, re-tuned, and restored. So it is when Jesus is at the heart of our lives, the cantus firmus of His love for us becomes the music or our lives. We begin to see not only our lives, but all of life through the eyes of God’s mercy.

6. Real repentance seeks another path to walk,
One that follows Christ, walks in “all the ways of His commandments.”  We will not repent of our sins until all these conditions are met.  And, as often as they are met, we will repent, and thus discover again the starting-point of saving faith.

Repentance does not earn salvation; (Works)
but no salvation without works that follow our new walk with Christ as Head.

Westminster Confession
“As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.”  Repentance is thus an avenue for great hope, relief, and joy, and a new beginning each day for knowing the salvation of the Lord.
The Confession continues,
“Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his “particular sins” the ones that have captivated his life, the ones whose cantus firmus is of the world. When we begin to practice repentance like this, then the salvation we have in Jesus Christ will begin to flourish.

Repentance unto life!
Without Repentance there is no saving faith, no growth, and none of the good works that characterize true repentance.
Without these we may not expect to see the Lord, to know the righteousness, peace, and joy of His Kingdom, or to be a blessing to others as God intends.

Repentance is a work of grace, a work of God’s Spirit.
We must labor to understand repentance, put ourselves in the conditions where repentance can occur, and seek the Spirit of God to work within us that conviction, grief, willingness, and resolve that lead us through repentance into the fuller enjoyment of our walk with Jesus Christ.

Repentance is the starting-point for faith – for faith that issues in salvation, and for faith that grows in salvation day by day.
Seek the Spirit, and plead with Him to bring the grace of repentance more consistently and more powerfully into your life.  Philippians 2:12-18 NLT Shine Brightly for Christ

7. How does forgiveness happen?
Scraping off the Barnacles
When I was young, from age 3 to 13, we lived in Eureka, California. My mom’s folks lived there and my grandfather was a commercial Fisherman.  His boat was the “Johnson 7” (I never did find out what happened to the first six ) Every once in a while she had to be loaded up on the dry docks for maintenance and prayer. Then you could see the bottom of the boat and all the damage that time and the sea had done. Barnacles were everywhere and had to be scraped off.

How did Job do it? Job 2:7-8
7 Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
8 And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.
The barnacles of a rough time on the seas of life begin to collect and have their effect on us. Unlike Job, we cannot just scrape them off with broken pieces of pottery. But all of that scraping did nothing for the heart of Job who really felt like God had failed him. Faith in trusting God, without knowing the answers to “Why me?” is the only thing that can heal the hurts.
Job scraped the barnacles off. It was painful! The scars would remain but his life was put back together. Strong belief in God was the medicine.  His wife and his friends could not do it--only God could!  Job said, "I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be with holden from Thee." Job 42:2.

It takes an instant to decide to repent.
2 Samuel 12:13-14 NLT David Confesses His Guilt

But repentance is also a process that takes a lifetime.
Recovery is a process, not an event…we take it one day at a time  Romans 4:17-25

One sinner’s repentance benefits many sinners.
Your Life becomes a witness and a testimony to many – even those who don’t know you, they see you, they hear you, they sense your emotions.  One of the more striking things to confront in each of the four gospel accounts, besides the human Jesus himself, is the reactions people had to Him. When in his presence, some like Mary and the man with leprosy fell instantaneously at his feet, others like the young rich ruler or the people of Nazareth turned away. In his presence some cried for mercy and choices were made, theories adjusted, realities were challenged, affections transformed. For some it took years for them to come around to Christ.

Ironically, those deemed unrighteous and dishonorable by the social standards of the day were often the most responsive to the demands of Jesus. I have often wondered if this was because they were the ones most willing to see themselves without pretense. They are most willing to respond to their own inconsistencies with fear and trembling.
In the presence of Christ, the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda came to see the contradictions he lived with, his broken refrain, and his need for a new song.
The Samaritan woman at the well saw not only that Jesus was speaking truth, but that he was truth, and that his way of life was full of life, while her own had been forced to the sidelines.
Called into the presence of Christ, Zacchaeus saw his ravenous, isolating ways and the great hunger of his life for a different sort of communion.

Veritas vos Liberabit! Pastor Mike