So, I was Christmas shopping last Saturday, which is something I must admit I had really tried to avoid. Being at the mall on a Saturday in December, that is. And the following explains why: I had survived the traffic and made it into the Kohl's parking lot, but an empty space was nowhere to be found. Eventually, I found a car with it's engine running and it's owner brushing the snow off in preparation for departure. I waited for what seemed like an eternity as I watched this woman brush every single snowflake from her vehicle. The impatience in me was quickly changing to actual anger. "How dare she take her time? Can't she see that this place is a zoo? Why doesn't she just want to get out of here ASAP?" I'm confessing to you my thoughts a.k.a road/parking lot rage toward a complete stranger. I am not proud of it. This is not the way I want to think or act during Advent, or any time of the year really. And maybe it's not that big of a deal, a little impatience doesn't necessarily hurt anyone. But what does it say about the state of my heart? About my self-centered perspective on the world? After spending some time asking these questions (believe me, I had time to think!), I chalked it up as a good learning experience and some Holy Spirit conviction. I don't really need more presents this Christmas. But I do need more of His presence. I need more of his transformation in my life. I'm a work in progress. I want to continue to ponder this as well as the truth that God is so very very patient with me.
Greetings to you all this Monday morning... Hope all is well with you!
We've been mulling over this notion of a "Miracle Night" here at Immersion. Wild, I know.
I've been thinking about how the real spiritual gifts of God have been turned into this concept that is so completely bizarre to our modern sensibilities. The notion of God breaking in to our here-and-now, natural world has been turned into something that's only for televangelists and, let's just say it, "weird-o" Christians who handle snakes and drink poison.
I think God wants to change that. I think God wants to use Immersion to change that. Can you imagine Immersion being a place where you can be chatting with a friend over a good cup of coffee one minute and then watching a person rise from the dead the next? Not only that, but the fact that the person rose from the dead is almost an expected reality rather than remain an object of lore.
Let's be honest, most people do not need to hear another sermon. I've said that to some of our leaders here at Immersion, but it's true. I take what I do very seriously - it's a huge responsibility to preach and teach the word of God. But young adults don't want to hear more dead words falling from the mouth of a dead pastor. We, as Christians, are meant to live in power and might. It's supposed to be the norm, not the exception.
So, be ready for some new things I think God wants to try. As staff, we will navigate those avenues faithfully and to the best of our abilities. The rest is up to the Spirit. Are you ready to come along? Will you come expecting miracles? Will you come expecting the unexpected? Will you leave the stoic, dusty pews of religion and enter into the lush and vibrant Promised Land that God has for the people who love and cherish him?
Did you happen to read this? I'm pretty proud of our little city. Granted, most media outlets are forced to be here for the caucuses, but nevertheless, our city is "movin' on up" in the world. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.
What's your favorite place to hang out in DSM? To eat? To catch a cup of coffee? What do you do with your time when you're not here on Thursday nights?
It's been awhile. I know. Moving on...
Do you see this?
This is a proposed "communication life expectancy" graph put out in a projections study. You may or may not be familiar with some of the communication mediums listed, but I want to draw your attention to "Blogs" and "F2F" a.k.a. "face to face". In case you're "graphically challenged," the study is showing that blogs will have a greater audience and lifespan expectancy than face-to-face interaction.
This is both alarming and indicative of where our culture is (allegedly) heading: more technology. This graph shows that people would rather read about other people's lives, news, current events, etc., over a computer screen than sitting in front of them having a discussion. Does this surprise you? Scare you? Encourage you?
What implications does this have for the Church? For Immersion? Better yet, take a look at the following video and ask the same questions... What do you think Immersion, what's the best way to integrate (or disintegrate) from our culture? How do we respond to these new forms of technological communication? (Marshall McLuhan would be proud...)
Man, updating this thing is really hard sometimes. Any of you other people with blogs know what I'm talking about? Honestly...
Well what to tell you all about the inner-workings of Immersion? Didn't Sarah do a great job last week? I told her afterwards that I wanted to run home and immediately get into the Secret Place with the LORD, do some fasting and praying and getting in the Word. Awesome job, we're so blessed to have her on board here at Immersion.
Speaking of fasting, Sarah mentioned that she hated doing it and also mentioned I did as well. Misery loves company, and it's true - I absolutely hate fasting... physically, anyway. There's nothing worse than an empty stomach, except maybe belching with an empty stomach - and belching with an empty stomach that only has a multivitamin in it... Gross. I remember once when I was in high school and we were doing two-a-days for football. I took a Centrum before the AM practice and didn't have time to grab breakfast. I get to practice and start to sweat my brains out, thirstier than all get out. Then I belched. First of all, I was dangerously thirsty. Secondly, the aftertaste of a vitamin and bile-laced belch was almost enough to make me throw up on the spot. Thankfully I didn't and saved myself further embarrassment than that which was already due to me for trying to play football.
At any rate, we're excited for the final week of Immersion's mission statement. Make sure you check it out in person or on the web, beimmersed.com. We'll be talking about how to speak and live and act out the Message of Christ in a culturally relevant way.
Peace to you on this day...
This week. This week. Man, this week. This week is going to be a great one. I'm excited to be preaching on "The Foreigner"... the culmination of the series we've been in for the past three weeks. You don't want to miss it. We went and met a charming young man, Abdo, yesterday at LSI's Refugee Cooperative Services. You'll get to meet him tomorrow night - can't wait...
I've been wondering what Immersion needs to hear about... Do you have any ideas? I want to be the type of ministry that is not afraid to speak to the things that the 20s and 30s of DSM are encountering... What do you think? Any ideas? Post them in the comments below.
We're getting new leaders popping up all over the place! Welcome to Phillip Kreis and Kari Swenson, the new Men's and Women's Community Coordinators of Immersion. They're going to be around as contacts for all of you Immersionites who want to get connected in significant ways. Also, welcome to Dawn Elliott, as she just came on board as the Immersion Operations Director! Basically, anything that happens on a regular week-to-week basis, Dawn will be making sure those leaders in charge of those areas are feeling supported and cared for, and also to make sure those things get done! She's a great addition to the team and will serve Immersion and Immersionites well...
join us on Facebook! We have a group of about 90 people on Facebook! I know there's been a few people who haven't been able to join (my wife included!), so we're still trying to figure that out. But just run a search for "Immersion" and you'll find us... The familiar black and blue....
The Blitz starts in a few weeks. If you're wanting to get connected at Immersion, this is the place to go... Connections galore... Like Tinkertoys. Look for info at the Info Table and during the announcements...
Alright crew, wrapping it up in the office - hope to see you all tomorrow night. Peace to you...
Alright - so many of you have been contacting us on how you can get involved with "Invisible Children" - especially after the movie we watched last night. I would encourage you to go here:
Invisible Children FAQ's
Keep the faith, church! Remember - you are the church, not a building or a set of ideals or a political belief system. The Church will change the world, nothing else.
I had a thought today, can you believe that we're coming down to the last few months of 2007? Wow, time goes fast.
Well, it's that time at Immersion - the college kids are heading back to school. This is always a bittersweet time for Immersion: the college students who call Des Moines "home" are going back to their "school home," while the students who call someplace else "home" are heading back to their "school home" of Des Moines. The flux is always interesting to watch - new faces coming, old faces going...
We're in the middle of a series right now entitled "The Widow, The Orphan, The Foreigner." It's been a challenging series to plan and prepare for. God, it seems, takes this stuff pretty seriously - taking care of the underprivileged and forgotten of society. It seems that he wants us to take this stuff pretty seriously as well. It's been a challenge to see the areas where I fall dreadfully short in not only "talking the talk" but "walking the walk." Gracefully, slowly, redemptfluly; I'm getting there.
Sorry for such a long lapse in these postings. We've been working like mad around here to try and get our leadership structure in place and running. Exodus 18 - the dialog between Jethro and Moses absolutely blows my mind - and it's what we're basing leadership on here at Immersion!
I think you'll really be pleased at what we have ready for you all tomorrow night. We'll be watching an abridged version of "Invisible Children" with a little bit of teaching as well. It's a powerful film made by a bunch of goofballs - the reality of the film will stare you in the face afterwards, though. Be prepared.
That's it, gang. On a sidenote, my whole day has been made as I've introduced the word "crunk" to the office ladies up front. Pure hilarity. Anyways - see you tomorrow night.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Way beyond religion…” Jason Upton, singer/songwriter.
I think we’re coming to a place in human history where, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t going to quite cut it any longer.
If you pay attention to the statistics, people (specifically young adults) aren’t coming to church anymore. They cite boredom and irrelevancy to their everyday lives as reasons for not coming. “The way we’ve always done it” is not working any longer, and I could not be more pleased. You see, we are in a time when God is doing something fresh and new – something that looks very different from “the way things have always been done.” God will no longer allow political or denominational lines to form a box around his beauty and majesty. Those lines, that box – the “box” of religion – is beginning to be dismantled by the gracious hand of God.
What are we, as Immersion, going to do with that? God is such that he does not reside only in a temple “built by human hands.” What are we going to do with this knowledge? How are we going to respond to a God who “desires mercy, not sacrifice?” Meaning – God desires a “repentant and contrite heart” over you coming to church on Thursdays or Sundays. What are we going to do when the walls of religion come tumbling down in the church of America? Will we be ready…?
Prayer for the week: Father of Lights, the Fragrant One, break us out of the boxes that we spend so much of our time in. The boxes of religion, of “the way things have always been done,” these boxes of fear and apathy, of doing things by rote and uncreatively. You are the one who is constant but always changing. Teach us to be constant in our devotion and love to you but open to change everywhere else. In Yeshua’s Name, Amen.
So my charcoal grill finally bit the dust after 5 years of faithful service... I am a diehard charcoal guy but my wife convinced me to get into the now and go acquire a gas grill. We were having a HUGE Mother's day gathering and the grillmaster needed an appropriate weapon at his disposal. And so the quest began...
I started with the Sunday ads in an attempt to find the cheapest/best option out there. I poured over every major retailer and found the one I wanted... I ventured out at 10:00am only to experience my first roadblock- the store did not open until 11:00am. So after twiddling my thumbs and getting a cup of coffee, young Noah Brandt and I finally stood before the future Brandt family grilling machine. The price was right and we called over the friendly neighborhood grill expert to complete the sale. This grill also came with the most beautiful words my eyes had ever seen while grill shopping, "free assembly included!" However, my next roadblock came with my next obvious question... "so where is the tank?" After tacking an additional $50 onto the sticker price, the entire package, tank and all made it safely home to my deck... Ah the fine print we so often miss...
Do you ever wonder what life would be like if we had the whole picture going into things? Have you ever thought about how much simpler it would be in our feeble attempt to understand God if we knew everything about Him? Adam and Eve tried that approach... Moses asked to see God's face only to catch a glimpse of his backside which was so intense, Moses glowed all the way down the mountain... Job found out the hard way that God is and he wasn't... and on and on in scripture. The bigness of God, even the mystery of God is what drew His people to Him and can draw us yet today! You can read the same passage of scripture many times and have God speak to you in many different ways! It is impossible to know God fully this side of heaven. And yet we are fully known by Him! I find peace in that... but I am a simple guy that doesn't always concern himself with the fine print...
Some of you have been asking about the music we were playing last night during the service. For your listening pleasure, here is a sampling of the songs that were played, available for purchase through iTunes. Enjoy...
At the Thursday practice for Easter at Wells Fargo Arena, a guy walked in and sat along the boards... I could tell he was a hockey player because it looked like he had climbed over the boards a time or two in his life. The fact that there was a game there the next night also helped. He sat silently through most of the rehearsal and Pastor Mike's sermon run through. I thought to myself... hey, a chance to invite someone. His name was J.J. Hunter. He was from Manitoba eh... A true Canadian hockey player... He asked if there was a service that night and i said that it was just a run through for Easter. But I mentioned that we had a service back at Hope that night for young adults, gave him my card, offered to give him a ride if needed and left it at that.
The fact that he called was cool! I get to hang with a hockey player! Now you need to know that I don't skate, and the boards for me are the only thing keeping me from falling down even more, but I am a fan! So we talked a bit of hockey and I told him a bit about Immersion. Then he started to drop some BIG questions, with BIG words... My whole world shattered and he went from being a hockey player to a scholar in matter of mere seconds. Now I am no slouch, but I know when I am outgunned... This was a job for a real superhero... Pastor Richard!
I introduced the two and they sat for hours after Immersion going back and forth like I always imagined C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien might have in the good old days. it was on that level. Richard was in his element, J.J was soaking it up and I felt like a spectator at a tennis match! It was unreal!
When God looks at us, what do you suppose he sees? Hockey player? Pastor? Guitar player? Claims adjuster? College Student? Those are merely the feeble attempt at identity that we place on ourselves. God sees us as HIS! I saw a Hockey player... and I almost missed a child of God... Praise God for that late night in the Chapel. Look him up sometime. He is with the Manitoba Moose...
It's been a "heart week" for me. Do you ever have those? A week when it seems like each day there's something which pierces your heart, burdens your heart, lifts your heart or, simply, grips your heart?
Back in 1990, my dad had open-heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve. Now it appears his aortic artery has a weakened area which requires surgery to repair it before it ruptures.
Yes yes. Happy Easter everyone. Jesus got up. Hallelujah.
Haven't talked to you all in quite some time, sorry for that. Immersion is going through an amazing and fun and exciting bunch of changes. I'm excited to reveal these to you all in the weeks ahead (7:37.) What do you think? Are you in the mood for some changes? We are... (7:37)
We start a new sermon series this week - The Office. It's based off of the TV show on NBC with the same name and it will be a look into the Christian's life in the workplace. I' m a little nervous about it, as this is the first series that I've planned entirely on my own. We'll use biblical truths merged with clips from the show to, hopefully, give us a better understanding of how we bring our relationship with God into the workplace... Wherever that may be.
Anyhow... Good to connect with you. Hope to see you Thursday for the big night (7:37)
How many of you have at least been asked to enter a pool for this year's NCAA tourney? You don't even need a 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon formula for this one I bet... Thus begins the annual office chat of, "who you got?" Let me describe to you a few of the "characters" that tend to surface this time of year and then I promise you, we will arrive at our desired destination of discovering God in all of this...
"Mr./Ms. Offer it up"- They walk by and offer you their picks whether you care or not... And often, you don't...
"Mr./Ms. I could care less"- They find this time of year utterly pointless and think basketball is boring anyway... or else they are hockey fans.
"Mr./Ms. How many you got"- they come around finding out how many you got right in an attempt to not be the one that got the least right... "I got 12 in the first day...!"
"Mr./Ms. If only"- You know them... they are constantly living in second-guess land... If only I had chosen Arizona! If only gets you nowhere but on the bench my friends.
"Mr./Ms. My Bracket is Done"- These are the fatalists who give up the first time that one of their final four teams loses... And they will keep reminding you round, after round, after round...
And finally- "Mr./Ms. I just picked them because they had cool names and I win every year..." No matter how much analysis you do, inevitably it is the person who knows the least about college bball or their son/daughter/nephew who picked for them, that wins.
The funny thing is, we often find ourselves in conversations with people that we don't know or know only marginally this time of year. Why? Because we have a common thread... I think the challenge is for us Christians to have that kind of boldness at the office to share a greater message, pool or no pool... Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes..." So have fun with your pools, but remember that there is a better office conversation that brings more life to be had... And what better in-road than, "How you doing in your pool...?"
Mr. I never win anyway Mark Brandt
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If you have a heart, you can be saved.” Abba Pambo, desert father.
This strikes a cord with me for so many different reasons.
I know there have been times when I’ve made Christianity – a relationship with Jesus – more like an application process for getting into a country club than a saving bond between God and humankind. I, like the Pharisees, in the words of Jesus, “shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Harsh.
But Jesus doesn’t speak harshly to the Pharisees just because he’s having a bad day – it’s not because he’s cranky. The Pharisees actually had a lot of things right, believe it or not – we actually could stand to learn a lot from their dedication to God, their reverence and fear of the LORD. Their motives, however, easily got shifted from “get to” to “have to.” As in, “I have to worship like this,” or “I have to say this type of prayer,” or “everyone must do things like I do or they’re wrong.” This, as Jesus points out, misses the point.
If you have a heart, you can be saved. If your pulse is strong, your heart can be transformed by the living Christ. You are not out of his reach. God is willing that everyone should be saved – from everything, for that matter, not just eternal separation from God – that none should perish. Where are you “perishing?” If you have a heart, you can be saved.
Prayer for the week: God, save us from the places we are perishing. Breathe your life into us. Amen.
Did anyone else have an attic growing up? We did… and one of the great adventures was when my brother and I would go into the attic and forage for something to play with. Granted I was very young, but this was as close as we could get to being archaeologists. (thanks be to Indiana Jones for that one) It was mostly junk; things my family had stored away and forgotten about, and in most cases, should have thrown out. But to me, it was exploring! We found old photos in frames that we were sure were antique and worth a FORTUNE. We found old clothes that became instant dress up material, (yes even dresses!) Hats, games, furniture, sewing machines etc. We could make a story out of ANYTHING!
Then what happened… We grew up. Most houses don’t even have classic attics anymore. Adventure changed and became more planned. Spontaneity was a thing of the past or even worse, how we responded to things rather than what we looked for. And God became less adventurous too. We had to figure everything out rather than just trust that He was… God became normal rather than extraordinary. Then we spend the better part of our formative years trying to put a box and bow around the indescribable and uncontainable; not at all the way to approach our mighty God. God IS exciting and adventurous and too BIG for words, and yet we want to know him? What would happen if we found our bible in the attic, or better yet, treated the bible as the adventure that it is again? Just food for thought…
“I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full” Jesus says (John 10:10). Some people combine this verse with a few others in Scripture and conclude that, if we’re “faithful enough” or “religious enough,” God’s purpose for our lives will include riches, fame, and mountains of material blessings. Does God want to bless us materially at times so that we can be a blessing to others? Absolutely. But I am convinced that the “fullness” God has for us has nothing to do with “full” as this world sees it and everything to do with “life.”
The band “Fuller Still” is going to be at Immersion this week. They’ll be leading worship and then offering a mini-concert immediately following Immersion. Their name reminds us that, though this world can “fill” us with its material blessings, with the empty promises of wholeness that come from achievement, status, relationships, sex, and empty religious striving, only God offers us something that is “fuller still.”
See, God offers us not only forgiveness and heaven, which are definitely fuller than the world’s promises, but also an immediate life that every day can be “fuller still” than the day before.
Before seminary, I toured in the U.S. and East Africa with a band/ministry-team with two of the members of Fuller Still, Josh and Justin, so I’m personally excited to welcome this group to Immersion. Their hearts are for Jesus and for you to know Him more through their ministry and music. Invite your friends and we’ll see you at Immersion. May each day this week be “fuller still” with God’s life abundant.
P.S. Thanks to those of you who submitted sermon-topic ideas for this week in the “You Pick the Sermon Topic” contest. We’ll finish up the “Sunday School” series with a good one. And to those of you who stuffed the box with urgent requests for me to preach on Deuteronomy 25:11, sorry, we’re PG-rated at Immersion so that one may be tricky.
"Where have all the cowboys gone?"
This question has been resonating in my mind for the last couple of weeks. It came after I woke up with the song with same title in my mind one morning. That happens every now and again - God speaks to me through random little tunes showing up in my mind in the morning. At any rate, a few weeks ago, it happened to be a Paula Cole song, where the chorus states over and over, "where have all the cowboys gone?"
Some lyrics from the song:
Kick back and watch the TV
And I'll fix a little something to eat
Oh I know your back hurts from working on the tractor
How do you take your coffee my sweet
I will raise the children if you pay all the bills
Where is my John Wayne
Where is my Prairie Son
Where is my happy ending
Where have all the cowboys gone
This post, in no way, shape, or form, is meant to demean or ostracize or criticize the male gender. Being male myself, I'm finding more and more that we, as men, don't know how to be "cowboys" - and by cowboys, I mean the men that God designed us to be for the women in our life. Not supermen, but a real and strong presence in the lives of our women.
At any rate, the more and more I talk to you, the women of Immersion, and the more I talk to my wife who is neck-deep in relationships with some of you, I see your desire for godly, strong and faithful "cowboys" in your life and how it seems that "cowboy" is never going to come. I want to affirm you that God is preparing a generation of men here at Immersion who will be able to lead you and provide for you in the way that you desire to be.
The question remains, though, "where have all the cowboys gone?" We are a generation that is afraid of commitment. Afraid that the "next best thing" lurks just around the corner and to commit to something now may mean losing out on what's around the proverbial corner, regardless of how unrealistic or unattainable the "next best thing" is.
We desire to be strong, but are afraid that we'll never be strong enough. We desire to be everything that you want us to be, but are afraid we'll fall pitifully short. We are selfish, because society has told us that this is "Okay" and is our right as men.
So, women of Immersion, keep holding out for your cowboy. I'm glad my wife did for me - she reminds me of how far I've come and how big my heart is and how I'm not as big of a failure as a husband as I think I am... Which is always a nice thing :) God will bless this desire in your heart. Rest in that.
Peace to you...
(Note: Due to technical difficulties, i.e. Al Gore's internet, we're posting the entire beimmersed.com e-mail to the blog this week to make sure everyone can read it. If you aren't getting this weekly update, go to beimmersed.com and sign up already! -End note-)
You are invited to Immersion: Thursday 8:30 p.m. @ Lutheran Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines.
THIS WEEK AT IMMERSION:
TOPIC: Sunday School – The Rest of the Story: Jonah and the Whale
SPEAKER: Pastor Richard Webb
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I am dark but lovely.” Shulamite Bride, Song of Solomon 1:5.
Many sincere believers in the church today struggle with how God views them in their sin and weaknesses. We think of God as being constantly disappointed with us and in His growing frustrations he is almost on the verge of squashing us! We agree with the statement “I am dark” but struggle to say, “I am lovely” when we come before him. Today more than ever, we the Bride of Christ need to understand our loveliness before the Lord and His passionate fiery affections for us. How we feel before the Lord will dictate how we live before the Lord.
We must remember that God is gentle with us in our weakness and completely enjoys us in our weaknesses and sins. God loves everyone, but he enjoys his Church with a ravished heart. He is gentle and tender with us in our spiritual immaturity. Is God angry with rebellion? Definitely. But guess what? In his eyes, you are not rebellious anymore...that was your old life...you are now a sincere lover of God who just happens to struggle with sin (instead of vice versa), so He is tender, slow to anger, and full of compassion towards you. We must grasp this if we are to walk in purity and righteousness because those who feel dirty before the Lord will live dirty before the Lord.
It seems odd, but that's because we don't understand how much He loves us. Jesus is a passionate lover. He is filled with fiery affections for you. He is jealous and zealous because love is not passive. In his fiery zeal for your heart he will remove all that hinders the free flow of his love. He will not just have a portion of your heart, He wants it all. He will continue to pursue every aspect of your life until you are fully His. Out of his zealous love comes his judgments, which destroy all that opposes love and all that injures His Church.
Love is a greater motivator than fear. If you feel shameful before the Lord, you will live shameful before the Lord. It seems backwards, but that's because of our humanness and our small understanding. He designed his Kingdom to operate this way!
Prayer for the week: Teach us how to wait, O God, on the wings of Your Spirit! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
COMING SOON! XCLAMATE/UNDERGROUND VALENTINE’S DINNER:
The men of Immersion will be putting on an all-out, no-stops, barn burner of a Valentine’s Day dinner for the women of Immersion on February 16th at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. Social hour starts at 6:15pm, followed by dinner and a program. Any men interested in serving should contact Mike Jackson at email@example.com. Any women interested in attending, keep an eye out at Immersion for sign-ups or contact Christine Meggison at firstname.lastname@example.org!
THIS WEEK! IMMERSION WINTER BLITZ:
It’s not too late to join the Blitz. This week Justin Wise will be taking us through 1 John 2. You don’t want to miss this and neither do your friends – so bring them because it’s not too late to sign-up! We start at 6:15 pm with dinner (free will offering) followed by study and discussion groups in Room 101. Questions? Contact Justin Wise at email@example.com or 222.1520 x111.
UPDATED! IMMERSION BLOG:
Miss us through the week? Then make sure you check out the Immersion blog at beimmersed.blogspot.com. We’ll post the weekly devotion as well as updates from the Immersion staff—so make sure you log on and keep up to date with all the goings on at Immersion.
HELP NEEDED! COMMUNION SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES!
Communion support for Immersion needs your help! Four groups of 1, 2, or 3 people are needed to wash up after the service—10-15 minutes total. Grab your friends and sign up as a team that serves one Thursday a month plus one 5th Thursday a year. To help, contact Sheri Hersom and firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get rolling!
FUSION MISSIONS TRIP TO MEXICO CITY:
Immersion alum Jonathan Mikes is heading a mission’s trip to Mexico City for Immersion young adults March 17–24. It’ll be fun—we’ll go teach children English, play soccer, and reach out in a relevant way to a cultural that is not our own! If you are interested in this or would like more information, check out www.fusionmexico.org or get a hold of Brad Krehlik, missions director at Lutheran Church of Hope @ email@example.com. Of course, you could always check out Jonathan’s blog at www.jmikes.blogspot.com and keep in touch with him that way!
WEBSITE PRAYER REQUESTS:
Did you know you have people that would love to pray for you, your family, your friends, your coworkers, acquaintances and so on?? ....no matter how big or small...praise or burden....and that it is confidential...and it's easy to submit too!
Go to the Immersion website www.beimmersed.com to submit as many prayer requests as you like. In the main menu there is a link “prayer requests” that will take you directly there. Enter in your request and click on “submit prayer request.” There are people who have a desire to pray for you in this way. Prayer is POWERFUL.
SERVE ON THE PRAYER TEAM:
The Immersion prayer team follows Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-14 we are available to assist in the continuous transformation of old and new believers as the Body steps into a deeper, stronger, more fruit-bearing relationship with Christ. Prayer Teams focus on 4 areas: corporate, healing, opening and website prayer.
If you're still getting comfortable with prayer or if you've been praying since you gasped for your first breath, there is a place for YOU on this team! Take a leap of faith and contact Jenn Hohrmann, firstname.lastname@example.org or Deborah Douglas, Deborah.email@example.com to get involved!
FIND YOUR PLACE AT IMMERSION:
Are you coming to Immersion and looking for more community or wanting to join a small group? If so, contact:
For prayer requests during the week, please submit your request online at www.beimmersed.com.
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So, it's been awhile since I've touched base with a lot of you, so here goes...
We have this blog to kind of act as a link between "us" (the staff) and "them" (the people of Immersion, namely you.) Like I said last week at the service, we're all going through this together, so that eliminates the "us" and "them" language and replaces it with "we" language. We are GOD's masterpiece. We are GOD's children. We all exist to live in relationship with GOD and with each other. We.
Speaking of "we," I touched on something in the Adam and Eve messages a few weeks ago that really seems to ruffle some feathers - the "I don't need anything but God" fallacy that pervades Christians sometimes. I know where people's hearts are when they say that, but it actually isn't true. It's actually the complete opposite to what God Himself says in Genesis at the creation of Adam, "It is not good for man (Adam, Eve, you, me) to be alone!" I know that language, the "don't need no one but God" language, sounds good and sounds holy and sounds valiant, and has even eked its way into our theology and worship songs, but it's simply not true - it's false. Do you believe that? It's false to believe that God is all we need as if we can hole up in a cave somewhere with a Bible and a loaf of bread and expect to mature and grow into the person God has intended for us to be!
I think this rings so true for me because I've seen what happens when people falsely believe that "God is all they need." They become angry, shriveled-up, crotchety old misers who are bitter and self-righteous because, after all, God is all they need and, seemingly, God is all they have.
I want Immersion to be a community that's okay with saying, "I need GOD to take my next breath, to have my next heartbeat in my chest, but I also need people too." We think that sounds non-Christian or unholy and almost feel guilty for saying it, "I need God and I need the people He's placed in my life too!" That's okay to say. In fact, it's the Biblical thing to say!
So let's start needing each other. Especially in Immersion. Let's start depending on one another. Let's be agents of change in each other's lives. Let's let God work through us to touch our brothers and sisters in ways that they could never be affected alone. This is God's heart, this is His desire - so it must be our desire. No more "Lone Rangers." No more "cliques." No more factions or divisions. Immersion will be a place where people who aren't Christian can come and "know we are Christians by our love" for one another!
So that's that. It's good to see you all every week - it's better to hear from you. Let us know what your thoughts are...
Peace to you....
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Life is an adventure. It's not the destination we reach that's most rewarding, it's the journey along the way." Barbara Morina.
Have you ever gone on a road trip? If you have, I'm willing to bet the best memories you have aren't necessarily what you did when you got there but instead what you experienced in getting there. The conversations, laughs and detours you had to take all drew you closer to the people you were with whether you realized it at the time or not.
This is much like our walk with God. He gives us desires and dreams to pursue and while reaching them is great, what we learn and experience as we get to know Him better during the journey is most rewarding. We should cherish all of the challenges, joys and breakthroughs we encounter in our walk, knowing they are what makes getting to the final destination so sweet.
Prayer for the week: Holy Spirit, remind us this week to savor every moment of the journey we are on. Allow us to see everything we face, the good and the bad, through your eyes knowing it all draws us nearer to you. Thank you for making life an adventure that is meant to be lived. We love you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
How often do we try to find happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction in things of this world when all we need to be complete is Christ? What would your life be like if you let God be in control? It sounds simple, but if we let God be God of our lives and do His job radical things will happen. He really is all we need, and only when we truly believe that will we start to see what He can do with our lives.
Prayer for the week: God, Thank you for being a big God, a mighty God, a God who sees the big picture but still cares about the little details of each of our lives. Help us surrender our will and our desires to you and let you take control of our lives, trusting that you have only good and loving things in store for us.
I'm realizing that resolutions tend to self-improvement. WE want to "lose weight, read more books for fun, spend time with family, travel, exercise more, be on time, be generous, etc." WE decide we're going to do these things and set out boldly on Jan. 1st only to give up, fail or fall over from exhaustion after two weeks.
I'm wondering if our whole perspective on resolutions needs a shift.
What if we let God decide what to "change" in us? What if we let Him do the work?
It seems that a God-change would be more tailored to our personality (how can a person lacking attention to detail suddenly become hyper-organized?) and tailored to our season of life (how can we vow to spend more time with family if they all live more than 500 miles away?).
It also seems that a God-change would be more sustaining. I know I can set off to exercise every day and eat right and do that for awhile. But I, in my own strength, can't endure. I need Christ to give me strength (Phil. 4:13). He needs to motivate me and give me cravings for fruits and vegetables. If it were left up to me, I'd eat pizza every day.
So you might ask, "Christine, I have to do SOMETHING! What's my part?"
I believe, as in all things, God doesn't look for ability. He wants availability. All He asks is for us to open ourselves up to His change. It sounds simple enough, but it can be a tough decision when His changes start to bump up against what WE want to do or what WE want to eat or what WE want to keep holding on to. That's when OUR part kicks in - surrender.
And this might need to happen every day. Or every hour. Or minute.
But, I'm guessing that God-changes will be the kind that last. They'll be the ones that make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. And, they'll probably be the ones that happen without our noticing. We look back at the end of 2007 and realize some of the cool things God has done in us.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make the glory of God that is within us. It's not in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Marianne Williamson, author (Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marianne_Williamson).
This quote pretty much speaks for itself. Most of us have no idea of the power of God that lies within us as believers. God longs to display that power through us but first we have to realize our worth to Him. He created us so he can manifest himself through us. If that's not a high calling I don't know what is! He gave us each unique talents, skills, passions and dreams to discover so that in the journey of discovery he could make himself known.
As we begin a new year, ask yourself where the hidden places are within that he is calling you to let your light shine.
Prayer for the week: Holy Spirit, reveal to us the immense power we behold as believers. Strip our fears and the lies of the world that entangle us so we'd be free to walk in the light as children of God. Show us how you want to make that power known to others through us so they'd be set free on their own journey of discovery. We seek to make your glory within us shine in this new year. We love you and praise you! In Jesus' name, Amen.