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There Are No Add-ons!

This Sunday we will launch into our new conversation “Losing My Religion” with a message called “There Are No Add-ons”  In the Bible, the letter to the Hebrews is an incredible, powerful and creative offering helping us see there is a better way.  This weekend we will navigate through the first four verses. In many ways the these verses outline everything else that follows in the letter. So if you are ready to experience God and lose some religious baggage come and join me this Sunday at SVA @ 9 or 11!

here is an outline for Sunday:  conversation one: there-are-no-add-ons

You Become Like What You Pursue…

As I look around me I am overwhelmed by the variety of things we are pursuing.  Things like: The perfect house…the right career…the right guy or girl…escape from life’s realities through books, film, poetry…

We pursue justice…vacations…accumulating stuff and things…the American dream…passions…health goals…life goals… financial goals…pleasure…money…power and control…recognition…family and independence…

We are tired and weary from the elusive pursuit, yet every day we get up and the race begins all over again.

What are you chasing after…who are you becoming?

The reason this is an important question to ponder and ruminate upon is because we become like the thing we pursue. The things that get our time, energy and focus are what we slowly shape-shift into becoming. Generally, the things we pursue are not actually what we truly desire, there is something deeper, but we have invested so little time into our souls that we are deaf to her cry.  Out the soul’s deepest longings are desires that would bring about life, beauty and joy.

The soul is timid, powerful but timid. The energy-draining-crashing-around we exhibit as we pursue something generally causes the soul to stay in the shadows, waiting for a quieter moment…but the moment passes us by as the volume of life drowns out the soul’s whisper.

Psalm 34:14 in the Amplified translation notes:

“Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace                  and pursue (go after) it!”

Interesting…I wonder what our world would be like if instead of pursuing global-economic primacy nations instead pursued peace. I wonder what would happen in our neighborhoods if instead of one-upping the Jones’ we chose peace and received contentment. I wonder what our soul would sing if we chose to live a lifestyle that pursued peace and not all the stuff and things that we think will bring us peace.

King David was a man that longed for God’s peace yet lived a life where peace was as tangible as a steak at a Vegan seminar. Wars, subterfuge, marital conflict, adultery, betrayal and constant criticism nipped his heels daily. Yet his words seem to lock in on something beyond…something fascinating…something beautiful…something his soul was crying out for: Seek after…inquire for…and crave peace…then by all means make that your pursuit!

The greatest gift God has given me is an otherworldly saturation of peace in the midst of storms. A feeling so powerful and so real that I have wondered what it was, where it came from… and then, I pray it will never leave. It is more than peace though…it is God’s own Spirit unleashed in our soul causing her to sing in such a way that all those other pursuits fade on the sidelines of life.

To pursue peace is to become peace. Your presence will affect the people around you. Your countenance will be a calming reality and a contagious morsel. Your eyes will radiate a sense of God’s power and presence that is beyond the normal human pursuit.

You see, when we pursue peace and embrace it we are allowing God’s Spirit access to the control center of our life. As The Spirit slowly begins to lead us, there is something forming, growing, expanding and bringing even more peace with it and that is the very life of Christ Himself. The Spirit’s role is to form the living Christ in us by faith.

Jesus was called the prince of peace…the bringer of peace…so to pursue peace is to pursue the author and embodiment of peace, Jesus.

When we run around trying to experience a feeling we never quite get there because peace isn’t a feeling, it’s a person.

Let’s choose to pursue Peace at work; at home; in our communities of faith; in our storms; in our goals and in our soul.

Jesus said it this way:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus gives us peace by giving us Himself…no formula…no hoops to jump through…no major clean up in order to deserve it. No, He offers us His peace in and of Himself…to hold Him is to have peace…Isaiah said the the punishment that brought us peace was taken on by Jesus. (Isaiah 53:5).

May you be fascinated by Him this week, and may you experience peace as you pursue it in the face of the Messiah.

~Monty

Book Review: Speaking of Jesus

The subtitle to carl medearis’ book is “the art of not-evangelism”  immediately caught my eye. I wondered, “Is this another book on be like Jesus but don’t talk about him?” Or perhaps I mused, “Is this going to be a book that tries to help us enter into spiritual conversation without the use of bull-horns?”

In some ways it is, and in some ways it is not. What Carl does a great job of is refocusing us on the person of Christ rather than the religion of Christ. There are many books out today that take a big stick to the church for the way it evangelizes, while Carl would definitely love to see the church learn and unleash a radically different approach to the way we share Christ with people, the stick isn’t as big as I thought it might be.

Medearis tips his hat in the introduction story about two competing soccer teams. Both teams grinding it out for their truth and fighting to win with everything they have until the game is stalled because of a man walking through the field. The man’s name is Joshua, and he looks at you as you come to a halt in your game, and his eyes penetrate your soul. Which side is he on? Neither, he replies. If you’re not on either of these two sides, then what is your side? Joshua responds with his own name and the words “Follow Me.”

So, you follow Him, and then Medearis makes this observation:

“As you follow, you begin to learn that this soccer game you’ve been playing-that everyone’s been playing isn’t the way. Joshua is. And that winning doesn’t mean scoring more points than the other team. It’s Joshua. He’s the score. And the strategies your team was using, though well meaning, really missed the whole point. You soon realize that your life will never be the same following this Joshua guy.” p18-19

It seems to me that we have often replaced Jesus with a religiosity that robs us of all that God intends. While I am not all the way through this book yet, it seems to be raising some great question about whether or not our faith will be a bridge or a barrier.

At the heart of what I have read is a plea to get real, wrestle with evangelical formula’s we have bought into, and simply allow our not-evangelism to flow from our relationship with Jesus, rather than a packaged presentation of religion that misses relationship and the reality that Trinity dwells within us.

I’m going to keep reading, you might want to check this out too.

Monty