Immersion Devotion: Week of 11.27.06

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Angels and archangels who are the King’s great officials, are gazing steadfastly upon you at the time of your prayer to see what petition you will make of their Master; and they are astonished and exultant whenever they behold one who is made of earth forsake his dunghill and ask for what is heavenly.” St. Isaac of Nineveh (St. Isaac the Syrian), 7th century.

That’s a good one, isn’t it? To be heavenly-minded, always asking GOD what He is wanting, what He is doing, what He’s thinking – this is the goal.

Heaven does truly gasp at the selflessness that comes from sinful humanity when we forsake our petty desires, selfishness, and hard-heartedness and ask GOD what He would have for us.

What if we truly did this? Spent an hour or day or week or month asking GOD continually, “What is Your Majesty’s desire?” I have a feeling our lives would change in ways we cannot even imagine. For it’s God speaking through His word when He says that, “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived what God was for those who love Him.” By asking GOD what He wants is the ultimate act of love – it is laying down your life for the sake of your Friend, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.

So let’s spend a little less time this week telling God what we want and little more time asking Him what His desire for our lives and the lives of those around us is!

Prayer for the week: God of all time, teach us to number our days so that we may live in a way that completely pleases You! Teach us to be heavenly-minded, to have the “mind of Christ,” whatever that looks like. We confess that way too often our minds get filled with worthless worries, time-consuming tantrums, and me-centered mumblings – we want what You want, no matter the cost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Immersion Staff UPDATE: New Creation

Hey, everyone! Have you recovered from Thanksgiving?

I feasted with family on Thursday AND Saturday and now my stomach is grumbling. Ever notice how hungry we feel for a few days after Thanksgiving. It's like our stomachs are asking, "Hey, where's the love?"

So, Justin (and his beautiful wife) and I (and my hunky husband and adorable children) are headed to Colorado Springs on Thursday. We're combining a ministry trip with a fun trip.

On the ministry side, we'll be visiting New Life Church's version of Immersion called, The Mill. The Mill is a ministry to college-aged and 20-something adults. They draw nearly 1000 worshippers weekly and offer small groups, mentoring and internships. The staff at Immersion likes what we see happening at The Mill, so we decided to meet with their staff and visit their weekly service. Should be great to see how God is moving in the hearts of other radical young adults and how He is raising up an abandoned generation for Him.

The fun side of the trip includes hanging for 20-24 hours in the car with the Wises - we'll either love or hate each other when it's done. It also includes seeing the places and the friends I loved when I lived in Colorado Springs. I haven't been back to Co Springs since the summer of 2002, so many of my friends have never met either of our kids. How wonderful it will be to see everyone again.

But, it's gotten me do we return to our old stompin' grounds as new creations? How do we re-engage with old relationships when, by God's grace, we're no longer the same people.

I think it's hard. Maybe some of you experienced that last week as you returned home for Thanksgiving. How easily we jump right back into old patterns of behavior with family and hometown friends. And the whole time, we're thinking to ourselves, "Why are you acting like this?....this isn't even who you are anymore."

I find myself worrying about what my old friends will think of me now. Will they like my husband and kids? Will they think I'm a good wife and mother? Will they think I'm still young and hip and beautiful? Will they see how much God has healed and changed me? Will they see His passionate love flowing through me?

In second Corinthians, Paul writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." The caterpillar has turned into a butterfly.

I'm banking on this truth. I'm counting on the new creation within me coming forth. Certainly not perfect - but renewed. Made to be whom He intended from the beginning. And I'm asking God to keep me in "His perfect peace" as I rest in Him.

We'll keep you updated on how the trip goes. In the meantime, can anyone else relate?

Blessings - Christine

Immersion Devotion: Week of 11.20.06

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Being thankful. Do you ever just sit and think of all you have to be thankful for? For starters, how about the fact we're alive and we've been chosen by our Creator to live eternal life, not to mention His unconditional love and grace to cover our imperfection.
Or what about the warm bed you woke up in this morning, the food you have to eat, the clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, the job you have to go to that provides a paycheck to purchase those things and the car you have that takes you there.

And how about your friends and family that surround you, the laughter, love and joy that comes from being in relationship with them – the changing seasons, sunrise and sunset, the freedom we have in this country, our health, talents, abilities, passions...the list is endless.
Let's make it a point this Thanksgiving week to thank God for His countless blessings and thank the people in our lives for being who they are and for everything they do for us.

Prayer for the week: God, you are good! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your grace and mercy, your kindness, peace, joy, compassion, provision and unconditional love. Keep reminding us daily of all we have to be thankful for. Bless the body of Immersion this week as we felllowship with family and friends. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Immersion Devotion: Week of 11.13.06

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The average listener in the evangelical church is not excited about the truth, he’s embalmed by it.” Howard Hendricks

Is this statement true of your attitude toward church? Take a minute to examine your heart. When you come to Immersion what is your motive? Do you come to sit and listen to the message and accept everything that is presented to you or do you actually engage with the topics that are presented and ask questions? I think as Christians, we are sometimes afraid to question what the church says, so we passively sit back, waiting for all the answers to be spoon-fed to us. The Bible challenges us to actively taking part in our faith and one way of doing that is by questioning answers and starting discussions within our Christian community. Immersion offers you a community of believers who welcome your questions. Take advantage of this and don’t be afraid to ask your question, whatever it may be.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, I pray that you would give us at Immersion to have discerning hearts and minds to the questions and answers we will hear this week. We want to know you more and understand your word and your plan for our lives, and not take your truth for granted. Thank you that you challenge us to dig deeper and that you make yourself known to us in ways that we can understand. Amen

Have 2 Give 1

…so I’ve been thinking.
I’ve been reading a lot of books, talking with a bunch of people, and even gone to a conference. And everywhere I go God just keeps messing with my head.

It’s all about heaven. Like many of you I was raised to believe that heaven was this place that dead people went to (at least dead Christians). True enough. When I die the Bible tells me that the next thing I see is Jesus—face to face. And most likely I’ll totally lose it. I won’t know what to do. I’ll act like a total idiot (nothing new) and he’ll have to calm me down and tell me it’s ok. I’m in heaven.

But I think there’s much more to it. When Jesus was on this earth, what he told everybody was to turn around and take a look: heaven was right in front of them. You didn’t have to wait for it. In fact, to make the point, he gathered a little band of followers and showed them how to act as if they were really in heaven—because they were. They were in the presence of the God who made everything and loved everything. What could be better than that? That’s heaven.

And, yes, he also told them that heaven was this kingdom that would last forever. But he always reminded them that it was right in front of them, because he was right in front of them.

And there’s where it really messes me up.

Because most of the time I don’t act like I’m in heaven (so where do I think I am?). I guess that means that most of the time I’m not sure if Jesus is really right in front of me. And all that’s really in front of me is whatever’s coming at me. Time for the bullet-proof vest. Time to hide.

But there’s this promise of Jesus that keeps running through my head, that he’d be with me forever. That he wasn’t going anywhere no matter what happened or what I did. And then he dares me to act as if that’s really true. To act like he taught he followers to act. To do what he did.

What if all this stuff is true?

In the last blog I wrote about this little band of Jesus-followers in San Francisco that did this thing called “Have 2 Give 1.” That’s where they followed Jesus teaching that if you have two coats to give one to someone who has none. They also did that with their CD’s bikes, shoes, appliances, whatever they had too much of. And they didn’t just give their throwaways either.

You see, this wasn’t just about “doing the right thing.” These people in San Francisco were really trying to act as if all this Jesus-stuff is really true. That life does go better (and is way more fun) if you do what Jesus did.

This “Have 2 Give 1” thing—we’re going to try this at Immersion in a few weeks. I’ll talk about how this will all work on Thanksgiving Eve and the next week following we’ll all give stuff away. More details to come.

Blessings on the Way!

Pastor Richard

Immersion Devotion: 11.07.06 - GO VOTE!

NOTE: Before we get rockin' and rollin' with today's devotion, we want you to go and vote! This is a civic liberty, neigh, duty that we're called to as citizens of this nation. If you don't like any of the candidates, aren't informed, etc., ask God who He would have you vote for (and that doesn't necessarily mean Republican or Democrat only!). He's full of wisdom, even when you aren't - so He can let you know who to vote for!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Wherever you find yourself, do not easily leave." Abba Anthony, contemplative and desert father.

This piece of advice was part of a response to the question, “what must one do to please God?” Surprising, huh?

I don't know about you, but I know for me it's easy to fall into the mindset that when things get hard, it must be time to move on. When my job is frustrating and nothing seems to be going right, then maybe it's time to switch jobs or to move away. When my closest friendships get hard, maybe we don't have as much in common as I thought. When I'm not feeling connected in community, this probably isn't where God wants me. Giving up and moving on seems like a much better solution than facing the battles.

God sees it much differently though. He blesses those who persevere, especially through trials (James 1:12). Growth comes when we seek to remain faithful in situations and relationships that we don't understand and might not like. We begin to realize through difficult circumstances that we are not alone...that the Lord is with us always and more than likely right where we are is right where we ought to be.
Prayer for the week: Lord, would You reveal to us this week the areas in our lives where we find it easier to give up than to keep going? Show us how You might be challenging us to grow in these areas and give us the strength to persevere knowing the reward is so worth it. Thank you Father, we love you. Amen.