Moses – Murderer, Fugitive…Prophet?

“Will all the world’s oceans wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, instead my hands
Will stain the seas scarlet,
Turning the green waters red.”
— Macbeth, Act 2 scene 2

William Shakespeare had a remarkable gift for translating mere concepts into emotional realities.  In the above scene, Macbeth is suffering from the guilt of killing his king in order to take over the throne.  We all understand the intellectual concept of guilt; these words of Macbeth help bring the experience to life. 

Sometimes we forget that before he became a hero and the greatest prophet and priest of ancient Israel, Moses himself personally experienced this kind of guilt (Exodus 2:11-15). He had committed murder.  He had hidden the evidence.  He was on the run from the king.  We can only imagine his thoughts and feelings as he ran from the luxury of his adoptive royal family and off into the desert.  What will he do now?  Will he ever see his friends and family again? What must God think of him — the same God who had rescued him as a baby — now that he is a man?  Moses’ guilt and shame cannot be underestimated.  

In that moment, Moses could have never foreseen what God had in store for him. He knew he was a murderer and fugitive, but he could not have known he would one day be God’s prophet and lead the Hebrews to freedom. He could not have known just how true it is that God reveals redemption through broken people.

One of the fundamental revelations in the Bible about God is that God shows mercy to sinners. God is so often remembered only for the portrayals as wrathful, but anyone familiar with the Bible will remember that God has mercy even on the world’s first murderer, Cain, by offering him protection. God has mercy on Abraham, who is lauded for his faith but still made many mistakes. God will have mercy on Moses, though he cannot see how. And in the 21st century we sometimes take for granted God’s supreme act of mercy, when he destroyed sin and death on Jesus’ cross.

But God’s mercy does not spare us the hard lessons, as God shapes us through our failures. Surely Moses had been shaped by God’s mercy toward him when he asks God to extend the same mercy to the impatient Hebrews. And of course we don’t always enjoy that shaping. Jesus referred to it with the metaphor of a plant being pruned so that we will bear more fruit. Ouch. But we know that failure is one of life’s best teachers, so it stands to reason that God would utilize our failures to help us mature.

In those painful moments, it’s crucial to remember that God’s plans for us are far greater than we can imagine. Sitting by that well in Midian, looking down at his guilty, murderous hands, being chosen by God to lead the Hebrews to freedom was probably as far from Moses’ mind as the east is from the west. But this is also the distance from which God is willing to remove our sins from us (Ps. 103:12). So putting our faith into action as we work through our guilt and shame can sometimes be as simple (though not easy) as gritting our teeth and remembering what God has done for us in the past, including the distant past through people like Moses.

For reflection:
1) Can you recall a time when guilt was weighing you down? Did you work through it? How?
2) Guilt for wrong actions can often transform into a sense of shame, which says, “There is something wrong with me.” Are you wrestling with self-messages of shame? Are any of those messages undeserved?
3) God never appears in today’s passage, just as God doesn’t appear in 2:1-10. Does it encourage you to know that sometimes God may not be obviously present, and nevertheless working behind the scenes?
4) We often feel paralyzed by our own guilt — has it ever occurred to you that God’s will is in no way disabled by our guilt?
5) Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians believe that sin itself has been put to death (2 Cor. 5:21). While we still live repentant lives, how does this once-for-all act of Jesus change how we think about guilt?

Many blessings,

Moses: Faith in Action

Have you ever played the game “Would You Rather?” Just in case you haven’t, it’s basically a conversation starter where a person is presented two options and has to choose which one they’d “rather” do (or eat, or take part in, etc.) The options are usually good fodder for middle school campfires, especially if they’re silly or disgusting. But the idea is elemental — what would you do in the face of a dilemma? Before Moses was even born, two Hebrew midwives were presented with a great dilemma: Would you rather disobey God or the most powerful person in the world?

Shiphrah and Puah (noteworthy that they are remembered by name) are credited with perhaps the first ever recorded moment of civil disobedience. The king of Egypt commanded that they kill newborn boys, forcing them to either disobey him or God, who is the only creator and destroyer of life, and who had created a covenant with their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They chose the latter, of course, and ultimately saved newborn Moses’s life.

One can only wonder what it would have felt like for Shiphrah and Puah in the moment. How much thought did they put into their decision? Did they fully grasp the potential consequences? Whatever their process, the fact is that they chose the hard right instead of the easy wrong. The question is: what would each of us do in their situation?

A popular assumption about God is that God sits far off observing human beings and occasionally “intervenes.” It’s a pervasive assumption which even our prayers often reflect. And to be sure, there are plenty of stories in scripture when God imposes supernatural power into the natural world to enact God’s will. But we should be careful not to let those stories eclipse the more frequent narratives in which God’s will is fulfilled through the obedient actions of ordinary people. During the earliest months of Moses’ life, four ordinary women acted in faith, and through them God set the stage for freedom for his covenant people.

For reflection:
1) Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma? What was it like? What did you choose to do, and why?
2) When we face an ethical dilemma, what are the intrinsic fears that drive our ultimate decision? What can we do to overcome our fears and choose based on truth and wisdom?
3) The midwives were rewarded by God for their obedience. Do you believe God rewards obedience today? Do God’s rewards need to fit our criteria of “reward?”
4) How is God calling you to “faith in action”?

Many blessings,

Moses: Fear of the Hyksos

Heroes sometimes come from unlikely places. Spider-Man is an otherwise ordinary teenager. Bilbo Baggins is a simple hobbit from the shire. In the non-fiction world, Malala Yousafzai was just a girl who wanted to learn, and now she is a Nobel laureate. Terry Fox was a kid from British Columbia whose legacy still inspires millions every year.

Moses was an orphan and then a prince; a murderer and then a fugitive; a shepherd and then a prophet. Eventually, the book of Deuteronomy would remind us that Moses was even one who saw God face to face.

The reason Moses’ infant life was endangered in the first place was because he was hyksos, that is, a foreigner in the land of Egypt. And when the Hebrews multiplied in number, though they had done nothing wrong, the Egyptian pharaoh feared that the hyksos would try to rebel and claim power over the region (Exodus 1:5-14). Pharaoh ordered systematic infanticide to control the Hebrew population. Had it not been for the courage of several women, we may never have known about Moses or even about the Jewish people at all. Pharaoh’s decree was one of the earliest attempts at ethnic cleansing in what would become a repeated phenomenon in history.

Xenophobia literally means “stranger fear.” A phobia is an irrational fear, which of course leads to irrational behavior. So when this kind of fear dominates one’s mind, as it dominated pharaoh’s mind, great destruction can be the result.

So, centuries later when Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph, word of his birth made its way to the Judean king, Herod. Herod let his fear dominate his mind in the same way pharaoh had, which led him to the same decision: a eerily similar decree to murder the firstborn boys of the region in order to maintain his power.

Can you imagine the kind of destruction that can occur when it’s not a single monarch who succumbs to such powerful fear? When it’s a group, or even the majority of a population? Unfortunately, history has recorded plenty of those examples, too. So as we move into the second week of our deep dive into this study of Moses, let’s reflect on our own “stranger fears,” and ask God to challenge us and empower us not to give in to fear of the hyksos and instead reflect Jesus’ gracious love: “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

For reflection:
– In what ways do you struggle with fear of those who are different from you? (It’s okay, we all do in one way or another.)
– Can you identify the source or foundation of your fears?
– Which of your fears are probably irrational?
– How have you let fear lead you to act contrary to how Jesus calls us to act?
– What is one step you can take this week to overcome your fear and by led by love instead?


Moses: By Faith

Our Lent series on repentance led us to Easter, where Jesus’ resurrection promises the forgiveness of sins, but also the believer’s entry into an entirely new world. So it’s fitting now to begin a new teaching series on Moses, who is perhaps most famous for his role in leading the Hebrews to a new land.

The New Testament book called “Hebrews” helps Christians understand our faith in the much, much broader context of the stories of “the ancients” — our predecessors in faith. In particular, Hebrews 11:23-29 recounts some of the most memorable moments of Moses’ life of faith. But many of us have not taken much time to consider what the ancients have to teach us. Rather, the modern mindset is often reversed, beholden to the assumption that what is younger and newer has more to offer than what is older and time-tested. This reversal of logic is fed by the ubiquitous consumerism in which we live, which preaches that it’s our right to have our unique needs met, and it’s our right to have whatever is new and updated.

Still, we know what it means to recognize the impact of those who have gone before us — those who had to live by faith in a future they would never see. Consider the experience of looking through an old family photo album. These aren’t just people in weird clothes or with odd hairstyles. You’re looking into the eyes of our mothers and fathers, our recent ancestors who were then experiencing as much uncertainty (or more) as we are now. Reading stories of the ancients is like looking at the family photo album of our faith. And Moses is in a lot of the photos.

Moses’ faith was so influential that he is one of only two people who lived during the Old Testament period and then also appear in the New Testament, when Jesus meets with him and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration. Moses’ faith was so influential that Jewish people to this day retell the story of the exodus from Egypt, which Moses led under God, during Passover. Moses’ faith was so influential that it helped him persevere being hotly pursued by the most powerful army in the world. Moses’ faith was so influential that thousands were saved from bondage, thousands would come to know themselves as God’s people, and eventually through Christ countless billions through the centuries would become adopted daughters and sons of the most high God and be set free from the bondage of sin and death.

And ironically, Moses didn’t even physically make it to the land God promised his people.

For the next 17 weeks, we’re going to journey with Moses. We’re going to see what his story can tell us about our own stories, how his faith sets the stage for our faith, and how his life became the archetype for Jesus, who is the “pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

For reflection:
– Can you think of something an ancestor of yours did that you still benefit from? (Example: a great-grandparent that immigrated to the U.S.)
– Can you think of something you are doing now that is setting the stage for a future you may never see?
– When you think of Moses, what are the first things that come to mind?
– When you think of Moses, does anything distasteful or unpleasant come to mind?
– What does it mean to you, to “live by faith?”

Many blessings,

Re:Lent – Recreate

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that there is truth about the world that we simply cannot yet see.

This week, Pastor Aaron recounted a (hilarious) story of a rigorous backpacking trip with his family and some friends. The 9-mile hike to the lake was grueling and Aaron honestly told us that several miles in, he was ready to quit! Of course, the group persevered and discovered, when the tree line parted in front of them, the grand beauty of the mountain lake. And they were able to enjoy a couple of days of heaven-on-earth.

“The worst thing is not the last thing.” –Frederick Buechner
Jesus’ disciples had just endured the worst thing they could have imagined — not an uphill mountain hike, but an uphill death march to Jesus’ crucifixion. For centuries, Christ’s followers have tried to imagine what it would have felt like to see the one they called Teacher, Master, and Friend betrayed, shamed, and executed. No wonder, then, that they all had to process Jesus’ resurrection in their own way. The gospel of John spends ample time on a disciple named Thomas, and the way he responded to the news: “So the other disciples told [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe'” (John 20:25).

The question is: what did Thomas really need? Was he doubting the news the way we typically think of doubt? Or was Thomas a pragmatist, unable to simply take his friends at their word (and a seemingly outrageous word at that!), and instead wanting to experience this news first-hand? In any case, Thomas’s realistic view of his world is one that most moderns like ourselves can certainly empathize with. We live in a post-Enlightenment, “scientific” age that claims everything we can know and need to know is attainable by way of empirical evidence and sensory experience. Many of us are like Thomas. So we can learn, as he had to learn, that there are truths (even facts, gasp!) about the world we inhabit that we have not nor cannot apprehend without God’s gracious revelation.

This is why Thomas utters such a profoundly repentant statement when Jesus does give him the gift of first-hand experience. Having touched Jesus’ wounds with his own hand, Thomas said: “My Lord and my God!” Is there any more profound way of turning away from trying to occupy a place of omniscience and turning toward the freedom of faith?

This Easter, and really every day of the year, God invites us to new experience of the resurrection life Jesus began, and therefore to a much larger vision of the paths that each of us are walking along. Jesus even gave a blessing to you and me, and countless people that would follow him in the years to come: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). What is that blessing? It is to have our vision widened from the small and temporary kingdoms of this world, to the large, eternal, and life-giving reign of God as we await the completion of the new creation begun in Jesus’ resurrection.

For reflection:
– In what ways are you like Thomas today, facing obstacles to your belief in Jesus’ resurrection?
– Beyond intellectual “faith,” what obstacles might be standing in your way of letting go of your vision for your life and beginning to learn about God’s vision for your life?
– Is there a relationship in your life that needs to be reconciled?
– Is there a disappointment in your life that you need to confront God about?
– Is there a wrongdoing you’ve committed that you need to confess and be free of?

May you know new life this Easter!
Pastor Mike

Re:Lent – Resist

I was thinking this week about the early-2000s TV show, “Supernanny.” Jo Frost visited parents struggling with extremely resistant children, even kids who got violent and screamed “I hate you!” Psychologist Dr. Deborah MacNamara writes that childhood resistance “stems from a human instinct called counterwill…when [we feel] coerced or controlled by others…Kids are only supposed to follow and obey the people they are attached to.  The only thing that trumps the counterwill is that of the attachment instinct.”

Mark 14:1-9 records a story about those who resisted Jesus and one woman who was truly attached to him. As this week brings us toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we’re going to look back to its very beginning, when he was subjected to three temptations in the wilderness, to see that Jesus resisted and overcame, because of the strength of his attachment to his heavenly Father.   

Jesus’ first temptation was for instant gratification. In today’s passage, the disciples were tempted to try and make Jesus their expectations of a messiah. The disciples needed to learn that as satisfying as it would have been to have Jesus gallop in on a stallion and retake Jerusalem by force, it would be a short-term reward, challenged sooner or later by whichever worldly king was next in line with bigger horses and  sharper swords. Immediate gratification is alluring.  But Jesus faced another temptation, too: the temptation of worldly success.

Jesus’ second temptation was for success. For Jesus, it was the temptation to prove his legitimacy as the Son of God by offering a mighty show of power.  For the disciples, it was the temptation to prove their legitimacy, by offering a mighty show of their own goodness. They had good intentions to feed the poor, I’m sure. Nevertheless, while the woman is devoted to Jesus himself, the disciples show that they are putting their work before their Lord.

Finally, Jesus was tempted with honor. Satan offered to let him be Lord of “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” Now, I don’t think the disciples faced quite that same kind of temptation!  But if Jesus was who they thought he was — the king who would liberate them from Rome — then they would have seen honor coming in the near future.  James and John even made this audacious request of Jesus: ““Teacher…Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”  They wanted to be honored right alongside Jesus.  

In all three of the temptations we’ve looked at here, there is a stark contrast between the ways of God and the ways of the world.  These temptations may seem familiar, as we all face them at some point, in some form.  That’s why Jesus gives us the opportunity to have repentant hearts, and live repentant lives.  To resist the temptation to settle for anything less than the abundant life God wants us to experience.

For reflection:
1) When you think of “resisting temptation” was typically comes to mind?
2) Some things that tempt us are petty, while others are more important. Can you think of examples in each category?
3) Paul writes that our struggle is not against things of this world — what do you think we are we struggling against spiritually?

Many blessings,

Re:Lent — Rethink

There is a sentiment in our culture that I find pretty fascinating, and it’s wrapped up in a brief little expression: “You do you.” (Or maybe, “Just do you.”) On one hand, I get it. We want to give people the space they need to live the way they need to live. And that personal freedom is a hallmark of American life. But “You do you” seems too general, too all-inclusive. It doesn’t leave room for wise discernment. And the irony is that most people who advocate for a “You do you” society can actually have some pretty strong opinions about just what “you do.”
Take a look at this recent Diet Coke ad for an example of “Just do you.”

I’m not the only person who thinks that there needs to be room for wise discernment. This parody of the Diet Coke ad suggests that there probably should be limits on our personal freedoms:

Both the ad and its parody are trying to navigate the question of when we should or shouldn’t care about or comment on other people’s lives. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus addresses this balance with one of his best metaphors: the ol’ plank-in-the-eye. People love to quote the first three words of this passage: “Do not judge.” And they’re right to quote it. There are times when it is simply wrong to pass judgment on someone. And it is probably always wrong to presume to pass ultimate judgment on someone. But did Jesus mean “Just do you, whatever that is”?

Whenever I’ve heard people cite Jesus’ command, “Do not judge,” I have never heard them follow up with his command at the end of the passage, in verse 5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s [or sister’s] eye.” The truth is that while we are forbidden to do what only God can do and “judge” someone, we are also forbidden to notice a speck in someone’s eye and ignore it like it doesn’t matter. To be hyper-aware of others’ sins or to ignore them are both off track. Jesus is calling us to repent of these easy paths and instead exercise “sound judgment” (Prov. 3:21). There are times when it is more loving to address the smudge on someone’s face. But the point is in how we should do it.

If we want to do good for someone, to “remove their speck,” we will be more Christ-like when we begin with the grateful attitude of a recipient of mercy. That is, when we remember that the source of our goodness is God. And because of God’s goodness in Christ, we are given mercy, sinners though we are. To identify ourselves this way is not “negative” or “shaming.” It’s just true. Acknowledging it can enable us to humbly “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) and earn a hearing with our sisters or brothers, because they know that while they may have a speck, we have had a plank in ours. So there’s no “judgment.” But there is help. And hope.

For reflection:
– Can you think of ways a “just do you” sentiment could be bad for a person, or even for a community?
– Can you think of any examples from world news in which someone is casting judgment without dealing with the plank in their eye? What is the “speck” they seem to be noticing? What is the “plank” they’re ignoring?
– Why do you think Jesus uses the comparison of “speck” and “plank?”
– Take a look at all of Matthew chapters 5 through 7 — in what other practices does Jesus accuse people of hypocrisy?
– Do you have a plank in your eye that you have been ignoring? What can you do to address it?

Many blessings,

Re:Lent – Rebuke

“What is your name?” From the very beginning of creation, we have been given the ability to name things, including ourselves. Conversely, we have the opportunity to be known by name as well. Jesus was known by name. Known even by the demons.

In a memorable story from the book of Luke, Jesus traveled to a region called the Garasenes, a place where no respectable rabbi would ever go. And once there, he was accosted by a man Luke describes as demon-possessed. The man was naked and had lived outside for a long time, among the dead. Imagine that scene for a moment. What kinds of reactions or feelings would this scene arouse in you, were you in Jesus’ place?

Add one more element — this man knew Jesus by name. “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” Before Jesus answers, he insists on an admission of true identity.
“What is your name?”
And the demon’s response: “Legion.” (That always gives me the heebie-jeebies.)

How we define our identities matters much more than perhaps we think it does, and if we define ourselves based on untruths, we are bound to suffer. But when we are tempted to believe those lies, we can respond as Jesus did. And this kind of repentance is called “rebuke.” In contemporary culture, we rarely use that word (“Yeah, the boss totally rebuked me today.”) But it is the word that describes what Jesus does to Legion here. It is how Jesus responds to the lie that Legion was living out — and forcing one of God’s beloved people to live out too.

A few weeks ago we talked about the first miracle that Jesus did in the area of repentance — he called people to drop their nets. Nets for these fishermen were a symbol of identity. And long before they knew anything or had any reason to trust Jesus, they had to drop what and who they thought they were and let Jesus begin to re–create their identity based on the Truth.

One lie that makes it hard to “drop our nets” is that God is untrustworthy. Another lie is that God will make you do something awful, or make you sacrifice everything you love. And finally, another is that God cannot actually save you, so it’s a waste of time to give Christ your life. These are, of course, the same kinds of lies Jesus is tempted by in the wilderness.

And just as Jesus rebuked Satan in the wilderness, and just as Jesus rebuked Legion in the Garasenes, we too can rebuke the lies of God’s enemy. When we don’t, those lies can grow around us, slowly and invasively, like ivy climbing the trunk of an otherwise strong tree and sapping it of its life.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can rebuke the enemy and all his lies, and experience freedom to be the adopted daughters and sons of God through Jesus Christ that God calls us to be. We can live the truth that God redeems us to live.

For reflection:
1) Who are you? How do you define your identity? Whose influence over your identity do you allow into your life?
2) Legion tries to negotiate the terms of the exorcism — in what ways do we, even when rebuked in our own lies, still try to grasp at control?
3) Describe the man after the demon is gone. How would you describe his identity? How would you describe his experience in terms of “repentance” and “salvation”?

Many blessings,

Re:Lent — Release

Last week we looked at one of the common myths we tend to believe: “I am in control.” And of course, the way to answer or repent from that myth is to surrender. Today we’re jumping off from that point as we look at another step in the process of living a life of repentance: RELEASE. Repentance is best understood as a change of disposition, particularly toward God. When our disposition is to fight God, or perhaps flee from God, we’re beckoned to change that disposition and return to God, who is ready to celebrate our return.

One man who was with Jesus, both in person and disposition, was Peter. Jesus even tells Peter, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18). Can you imagine how that would make Peter feel? So affirmed, right? But in the very next passage, as Jesus explains his perplexing death and even more surprising resurrection, Peter can’t conceive of it. Unable to release his own perception of God’s Kingdom, Peter refuses to believe it and Jesus rebukes him with one of the most memorably stunning lines in scripture: “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me” (Mt. 16:23).

From cornerstone to stumbling block. Not just a play on words, but all too true of any follower of Jesus sometimes. While Jesus calls us to enact God’s Kingdom, we are often in the way. Why? For the same reason as Peter — we can’t release our control.

It’s not that Peter’s objection to God’s plan for Jesus was unreasonable. We could imagine how ready Peter and the rest of his people were to have the oppressive Roman empire dealt with once and for all. Surely they were ready for that David-like king to usher in a new era of independence and peace. But God’s sights were set much higher — rather than defeating Rome, God would set us free from sin. Rather than worldly blessing, God would usher in eternal life. But no servant is greater than his or her master, so we find ourselves perplexed by God’s plan for victory when we can’t release our worldly measures of victory.

And so we’re called to repent. In this case, to repent of our need to control. If we can’t release ultimate control to God, then our religious exercises become caricatures. We cannot accept God’s gifts when our fists are grasping the controls. To receive what God is doing, we have to release.

For reflection:
1) We are meant to be wise with the lives God gave us, so what kind of “control” do you think we have to release to God?
2) Can you think of examples from history or current events when people’s need to be in control has been destructive or painful?
3) Can you think of examples from history or current events when religious people’s need to be in control has been destructive or painful?
4) When we let God control what we cannot, what might be the result? In what way might the world become better?

Many blessings,

Re:Lent — Repent

Wednesday March 6, 2019 was known as “Ash Wednesday.” It is the official beginning of the season of Lent (from the word meaning “spring”) which is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (not counting Sundays). Lent is a season during which Jesus’ people recognize their mortality, their need for God’s grace and mercy, and prepare themselves to fully embrace Jesus’ gift — his own life for our sake (1 Peter 2:21-24). Since that time, Christians have been able to look back in the assuring knowledge that the cross would not have the final say, but sin and death themselves were defeated, and Christ’s victory was sealed in Jesus’ resurrection, which inaugurates God’s new creation and the inbreaking Kingdom of God.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This Lent, UPPC will engage in a teaching series called “Re:Lent,” a chance to contemplate the process and meaning of repentance. The word “repent” essentially means a change of disposition. Some might say a “change of heart” or “change of mind,” but more holistically it means both…and more.

When Jesus first called his disciples, they were in the middle of working their trade — fishing. This was likely a trade they had been handed down not only for generations, but even for centuries. But when Jesus called them to follow him, they “left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:9-20).

What a powerful image for us to recall today, when Jesus calls us to follow him. It is a call, in essence, to change. And hey, everybody loves change, right? Wrong. Change is hard, everyone knows that. But change is what it takes to experience abundant life in Christ. What needs to change?

There are three myths that we tend to believe, and ways we can “repent” or “change our dispositions” toward them.
Myth 1) “You are in control of your life.” Yeeeah, no. Sure, you might get to choose what kind of breakfast cereal to buy. But look a little deeper. All it takes in the Seattle area is a dusting of snow for the whole Puget Sound to panic, realizing how little control we really have over, well, anything.
Repent with Surrender. When the Israelites had to survive only on God’s daily gift of manna, they learned how to surrender control and trust God completely. While we are called to be responsible and wise, when it comes to ultimate control, give it to the only One who has it.
Myth 2) “Your life is all about you.” This one is sneaky. Who else is my life about?! But anyone who has felt the joy of blessing someone else knows there’s a lot more to life than living it for oneself.
Repent with Service. Jesus said it, and it proves to be true generation after generation: anyone who loses their life for Jesus’ sake will save it (Luke 9:24).
Myth 3) You’ll live forever. Okay, no one really believes that, but we often live like we do, right? But while no one likes to dwell on it, the truth is that mortal death will come to us all.
Repent with Resurrection. Actively remember Jesus’ resurrection and promise that one day all who have given him their lives will live eternally in God’s new creation. And live like you believe it, that is, turn away from all that leads to death and turn toward God, who alone gives life. Repent.

For reflection:
1) When you think of the word “repent,” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
2) Which of the three “myths” is the trickiest for you?
3) Jesus is calling you to follow him — what “nets” do you need to leave behind?