“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Any women interested in attending, keep an eye out at Immersion for sign-ups or contact Christine Meggison at email@example.com!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, email@example.com or Deborah Douglas, Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
If you would like to get this weekly email please go to www.beimmersed.com to sign up. All talks are available on the website to download.
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.