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The Essential Nature of Repentance

The peace of repentance told by Festo Kivengere (former Anglican Archbishop of Kigezi, Uganda: 
He says, "My uncle, the chief, was sitting in court one day with his courtiers around him when a man came and bowed in the African way. He was rich in cattle and was well known as a man who sought God through the spirits of dead relatives. He had come with eight cows which he left some twenty yards away.  I have e come for a purpose, sir,' the man said.
'What are those cows for?' asked the chief.
'Sir, they are yours.'
'What do you mean they are mine?'
'They are yours. When I was looking after your cattle, I stole four and now they are eight, and I am bringing them.'
'Who arrested you?'
'Jesus arrested me, sir, and here are your cows.'
There was no laughter, only a shocked silence. My uncle could see this man was at peace with himself and rejoicing.
'You can put me in prison or beat me up,' the man said, 'but I am liberated. Jesus came my way and I am a free human being.'
"'Well, if God has done that for you, who am I to put you in prison? You go home.'
A few days later, having heard the news, I went to see my uncle. I said to him, 'Uncle, I hear you got eight free cows!'
'Yes, it's true,' he said
'You must be happy.'
'Forget it!  Since that man came, I can't sleep. If I want the peace he has, I would have to return a hundred cows!'"  Kivengere says that later this chief did come to Jesus Christ. Repentance is not some form of self-punishment we undergo to get God to be kindly disposed to us.   The Bible teaches us that the  kindness of God leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). 
The word "repent" " occur 56 times NT similar meaning word "convert"/ "turn".  

Repentance was the main theme preaching John Baptist, who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.

Jesus Christ first words of His earthly ministry were,  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Mt 4:17).  Jesus declared purpose coming ministry was to call "sinners to repentance" (luke 5:32).When Jesus sent disciples preach, "they went out and preached that people should repent" (Mark 6: 12).

After the  Resurrection, Jesus declared "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations" (Luke 24:47). 

Jesus called people to faith, but He also declared that unless people repented they would perish, and in order to enforce the essential nature of this message, Jesus repeated it  (Luke 13:3,5).  In each of Peter's 2 recorded sermons after the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given, he told people to repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19).In Paul's recorded sermon to the Athenians he said that God "commands all people  everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). He said that the message he declared to both Jews and Greeks was that "they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus"(Acts 20:21).) Peter declares that God is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).It is obvious from the above references that if Jesus and those he trained knew what they  were talking about, none of us will find a meaningful relationship with God unless we do what the Bible calls "repent”.  
The strongest Christian is the one who is hair trigger ready to repent.   The more mature you are, the more often you will actually repent.  Next to sinlessness, repentant people are the happiest people in the world!

Friendship and Ministry

One of the gifts God has given us at Covenant is the Lord has led us to make some really great friends.

A great joy of mine is to introduce friends to you, the Covenant congregation.  We like to partner in friendship.  This was a trait of the church at Philippi.  They were known for befriending leaders like Paul, and they enjoyed a deep level of friendship, fellowship, and partnership by participation in ministry. 

Six years ago, we began the friendship with Rob Chifokoyo and Peter Kanetsa, shaping our ministry in Zimbabwe, but also shaping our staff here.   But it began with no agenda on our part other than befriending and encouraging dedicated people who were doing God’s work.   And that friendship began through a friendship I had with Bud and Mandy Jackson.  You quickly joined in that friendship, sending them into a new field of ministry application with the resource of heart level support.

Pastor Evan Mawarire experienced your friendship, remarkable hospitality from his hosts, and a kind of deep empathy, interest, and solidarity that was a powerful blessing.

Before that, it was a friendship with Doug Logan that helped launch our attention into Camden.   It was only on the strings of a new friendship that this played out into something grand.  Friendship allowed us to serve in a game changing way for how that bold core of dedicated disciples went into that city with the hope of the gospel.  From basketball courts to book bags, we had the privilege of coming alongside these leaders.    But it always felt like coming alongside friends.

Read the New Testament and it breathes the atmosphere of friendship.   Friendship takes on a new level of depth when friends accomplish mission together.  A shared cause is often the soil where friendship thrives. 

The Son of God is on a mission to befriend us.  He wants to bring us to that place of trust in Him where He can call us friends and not just servants.   He wants us to know Him and what He is doing and to live out of intimacy with Him.

I celebrate that much of our ministry has grown in the context and contours of friendship.  And I look forward to how the Lord will continue that dynamic and build upon it. 

"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others." 

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