God's really been frying my face lately. Or, as Tim Denner calls it, God's been "giving me a face-melter."
As we've been walking through this Malachi series, I've really been burdened with the fact that a lot of times, my life doesn't really look all that different from someone who doesn't follow Jesus. I want you to know something - the stuff we talk about from up front, we're not worth our salt if it doesn't, at one point or another, affect us in some way, shape, or Form. That'd be what we call "hypocrisy," and, frankly, there's been enough of that in the Body of Christ. I'm sick of blending in with the world when all I want to do is live a life that reflects Jesus in every way. Contrast that with the fact that I don't want to be so irrelevant to those around me that the love of Jesus gets lost in the simple fact that I'm... well... weird to everyone else. Simply put, I've divorced my "normal" life (i.e. 9-5 life) from my "Jesus" life. Those are two things that ought not be separated, and I want to let Jesus piece them back together again.
I was overwhelmed with how many of you felt like you had divorced things in your life that belonged together. Here is what some of you said last Thursday night:
"El trabajo, las relaciones con amigos y novios"
"Cutting others down either verbally or in my head"
"Trust... Trusting You... I don't trust You but want to..."
"I've divorced you from my ministry"
"I need to love you by my actions, not just my words"
"Living for what people expect of me and not You"
"Not loving those who need love"
"Given my heart to an unbeliever"
So, a lot of us are all in the same boat... Good to know, eh? So, where is this all hitting you? What has GOD been stirring in your life over this?
GOD's peace and protection to you up your journey....
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “To be a witness [of Jesus Christ] does not consist in engaging in propaganda nor even in stirring people up, but being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist.” Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard
This quote comes from a close and insightful friend who knows and loves God, but more importantly embodies what Cardinal Suhard is saying. To be a follower, a witness of Jesus Christ means to live differently than the rest of the world.
I think sometimes we in the Church have become content to go through the checklist of our “spiritual” duties and count that as our relationship with God. Bible reading? Check. Telling God what I want? Check. Go to church? Check. But there’s no mystery, no allure, no difference in our lives. Simply put, God’s transforming power doesn’t reside in our lives due to our live life in a way that wouldn’t make sense if God didn’t exist.
But there’s hope – with God there is always hope. He desires to lead us into new life by the power of His Spirit and by that power alone. To show us a life that is simple, absurd, and gets people to ask questions… Are you ready?
Prayer for the week: O God, may our lives continue to be a living mystery to those around us. May we live lives that look distinctly different from those around us – not in an arrogant way, or prideful way, or self-righteous way, but in a way that evidences the transforming power of Your Holy Spirit in our lives. We want to be changed from the inside out and show that renewed life to the world around us. Help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Earlier this week I attended a very cool gathering of young leaders from all over the country who are re-thinking what it means to be followers of Jesus. Many of these leaders are trying all kinds of new ways to live out in community what Jesus taught his first followers. One of these communities in San Francisco decided to call themselves a "dojo" instead of a church.
Why a dojo?
A dojo is literally "a place where one learns the way," usually of some kind of martial art. In this case, this dojo teaches the way of Jesus. And, similar to a martial arts dojo, this community teaches not just by lecturing, etc. but by actually practicing together the way of Jesus.
So here's how this dojo learned what it means to live in simplicity and rely on God instead of all our material stuff.
They decided on an experiment which they called "have 2, give 1." Jesus once his followers taught if you have two coats, give one away to someone who doesn't have any. So this dojo decided to bring together everything they had more than two of--coats, shirts, jeans, bikes, CD's, books, you name it--sell it at a gigantic garage sale, and then give the money to a local shelter.
Two things happened: first, the dojo discovered in a very practical way what it meant to rely on God and not on stuff; second, the neighborhood discovered that there was a group of Christians among them that actually cared about them.
Now this is important.
This dojo is located in the Mission District of San Francisco, home to artists, street people, musicians, addicts, alternatives, intellectuals, and anyone else you can imagine--people who have often experienced Christians as ridged, hostile, and judgmental--definitely not people who really care about them and the daily challenges they face.
But over time the actions of this unusual dojo began to cause many in this neighborhood to open up to the way of Jesus and the life he offers his followers. And the members of the dojo of began to discover that it is often important to act like Jesus before talking about Jesus. Saint Francis one said, “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words.” Credibility matters.
So what happen if Immersion would start thinking of itself as a dojo—a place where one learns the way of Jesus? What would happen if we started experimenting together with living life the way Jesus taught?
What would happen to us, our friends, and Des Moines? Probably pretty cool stuff.
Blessings on the Way!
(For more information on this extraordinary dojo go to http://www.reimagine.org/)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Who am I? I am one loved by Christ.” Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk.
Do you live everyday knowing you are loved by Christ? Not just when you are good, but in every moment of your life. As Christians, our identity is found in Christ and his love for us. All we have to do is accept it. God wants nothing more than to love you like the son or daughter he created you to be. You are his beloved. Stop and think about what that means. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, God will never leave you. He is always there, waiting to love you like his precious child. The only thing he’s waiting for is you.
Prayer for the week: God, Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for loving me, even when I have a hard time loving myself. Remind me of your love today in moments when it is easier to feel worthless or frustrated with who I am. Gently whisper to me that I am your beloved. Today I choose to acknowledge that and live in light of your grace and love. Amen.
Hey everybody out there. It's me, Justin. I'm not sure who all is reading these things, but we want you to feel like you have ownership of this ministry called Immersion. In doing so, the best way to do that is to keep you informed as to what's going on during the week when you're not here worshiping your guts out before the LORD. This is our attempt to do that - to keep you up-to-date on what we feel like GOD is doing in our midst at Immersion. So, without further ado, let's get into the update....
Website: Our website is in the middle of some changes right now - that's why you may not have seen a whole lot going on with it recently. We want it to be a place of connection for you - where you can see what's going on in the ministry, with each other, with this city, etc. Sit tight, we're on the verge of figuring out what direction to take it next. Got any ideas? Let us know. (PS - HUGE thanks to BJ Joseph for doing all the programming for our current site. For those of you who don't speak "techy," think of it as a car - BJ built everything under the hood from scratch. If you see him on Thursday, make sure you say "thanks.")
Announcements: This is something I'm really excited about - video announcements. We're working towards trying to use more multimedia elements in our worship service, the first on the list being video announcements. We have a team assembled and they're in the midst of doing "test-outs" - more to come. If you want to know what we're thinking of, check out theMill.
Next series: Next after Matthew is Malachi: In Your Face. Malachi is basically a book where GOD lays the smackdown on the Israelites saying, "you think that all the stuff that you do matters to me more than how you do it, more than your motive for doing those things! You're wrong!" This is a side of GOD that has challenged me - His wrathful side. For a look at what I'm talking about, check out this verse and then tell me that GOD doesn't get angry!
I think that's all for this week. One of us (Richard, Molly, Christine, Mark, or Justin) will try and do something like this every week, so check back often. We hope all is well with you, it's so much fun to worship with you all on Thursdays! Peace to you on this day...
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Sometimes I think we're more concerned about God's will for our lives than He is." Anonymous.
What is God's will for my life? Are the desires I'm having His or mine? Are my decisions in line with His will? These are all questions I think our generation of believers asks over and over...sometimes to the point that we become anxious, confused and distracted...right where the enemy wants us to be. Have you ever thought maybe the reason God puts decisions before us is because He longs so deeply to spend time with us? Would you believe His desire for us to just be still in His presence is greater than what it is we're actually doing? It's a lot simpler than we think. His word tells us His will for us. To be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances (1Thess 5:18). The truth is God is sovereign and His plans for us cannot be thwarted. Now that's a reason to rejoice and give thanks!
Prayer for the week: Holy Spirit, would you bring the body of Immersion rest? Show us how simple it is to live in Your will and remove the hindrances we put in the way. Allow us to trust in Your perfect plans for us and as we seek Your face, reveal them to us. Quiet our hearts this week Lord so that we may hear what You are whispering to us. Thank You for Your endless pursuit of our hearts – may we draw nearer to You and experience the depths of Your love and grace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.