Ash Wednesday

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds . . .

I need to call your attention to the last phrase of this passage, renewing of your minds. Accepting the call to discipleship is much more than an emotional response to Christ. Discipleship moves us beyond the emotional experience of conversion and on to an intentional decision to apprentice ourselves to Christ. As apprentices to Jesus we choose to get out of the boat of complacency and enter the arena of life in the concrete presence of Christ. Note, Paul declares, the renewing of your minds, not the affirmation of your emotions. Accepting Christ as Savior is the easy, first step; renewing one’s mind is the life-consuming march of obedience and devotion. Discipleship is an act of the will.

It is no accident that we are pursuing the Transformed campaign during the season of Lent. Lent is the forty-day period prior to Easter that is set aside to recall the temptation of the Lord in the wilderness, and to prepare our hearts and minds for the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which this year is March 1. The smear of ash on our foreheads reminds us of our need for penitence and God’s willingness to offer pardon and forgiveness. Penitence is the first step in the process of growing up into Christ. As we move into transformation you are challenged to begin your journey by participating in the Ash Wednesday service on March 1. Services will be conducted at 6:30 am, 12 noon, and 6:30 pm.

Let’s take discipleship seriously. Let’s be serious about committing our lives to Christ and the church. If you have absented yourself from the body of Christ, Lent is a wonderful time to renew your commitment to be present with your sisters and brothers in Christ. We need the church, we need one another.

Transformation is possible for us as individuals and consequently for the body of Christ. You are challenged to begin the process of renewing your mind; by humbling yourself before God, with a bit of ash on your forehead, and a willful choice to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You have a place in this family.

Ash Wednesday services: March 1, 2017, 6:30 am, 12 noon, and 6:30 pm.

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3 Responses to Ash Wednesday

  1. shai nyi says:

    Thank you Jim for this important message to be called to a new life. I found the description of “apprentice” particularly interesting. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,an apprentice is defined as “one who is learning by practical experience under skilled workers a trade, art or calling.” or ” an inexperienced person.” Other definitions include,”to serve another for a period of time to learn an art or trade.” Historically it could mean, “a person legally bound through indenture to a master craftsman to learn a trade.” How may of us can truly call ourselves apprentices of Jesus? Can we truly say that we are serving Him, rather than just going through the motions ? Are we learning a calling, or do we only come to Him when things go wrong and we need him to fix what’s broken in our lives? Are we actually learning His trade of service and love, or do we do things the way we want? Are we forever bound to Him, or are we bound to the things of this world? Being an apprentice involves on the job training to gain personal experience. Do we have that personal experience with Jesus? If we are truly to be his apprentice, we should committ our lives to him, in order to learn from him His trade of Service and Love.

  2. shai nyi says:

    To be a disciple is to be a follower of someone, thing, or idea . We can choose to follow anyone, but as Christians we have chosen to follow Jesus. But when we choose to follow Jesus, he also asks something from us. He asks us to obey him. He asks us to love him and love others. Sounds pretty simple, but it is the center of the Christian life. Discipleship means to follow in his steps. We follow not for what we can get, but simply because He asks. It means being focused only on Jesus as the center of our lives and giving up our self centerdness and self will to focus only on His will as the center of our being. But nothing can come between you and Jesus. He must always be first and foremost in your life as a disciple. We dont get to follow him under our own terms when we want, but must obey him only, completely. When we put conditions on following him, we aren’t really following him at all. Jesus calls. We obey. Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes. From “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Are you ready to be transformed into his disciple….

  3. Jim says:

    Thanks, Shai. Insightful and spot on with your description of what it means to be apprenticed to Jesus. As we apprentice ourselves we commit ourselves to the path of discipleship.

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