I Love Fridays!

We made it to Friday and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. =)

Check out this video that will segway into today’s topic. Matrix clips with TobyMac song “New World”.

Last night, I was able to complete the book – So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.

Wow and wow! I compare this novel to the film – The Matrix – where Morpheus gives Neo options of two pills: red or blue.

The blue pill will cause him to “wake up in [his] bed and believe whatever [he] want[s] to believe.” He is told that if he takes the red pill, however, he will “stay in Wonderland” and Morpheus will “show [him] how deep the rabbit hole goes,” an allusion to Alice in Wonderland. [Source]

This illustration has been used in many ways but what a more fitting time to use it for this topical series on the biggest conspiracy known to man – RELIGION.

Wot! Let me back track a bit with this disclaimer before you read any further.

This blog site (F.A.A.C.T) is just me sharing my journey with Jesus as I put all the pieces together and take from it instruction and application to live and love radically for Him. Please view the mission statement for more details. My desire is to use this online resource to promote an “organic” and “real” relationship with our Creator that we get to call Abba-Father.

I believe God gives us specific people groups to integrate with. Whether it’s an age or ethnic group, or people that like dogs or motorcyles. God is going to bless us with things like kindred affection, insight and resources to reach them with the Gospel. He has given me a deep burden to reach the Filipino-Asian people for such a time as this and in the process I’ve found a deep appreciation for how my parents raised me and my sister, as well a deep longing to one day visit the PH.

I realize in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile and we’re all made from the same DNA and corruptible material. But it doesn’t discount that culture is a large mountain to climb that requires proper training and experience. This I’ve tasted first hand when on a mission’s trip to Colombia. If you ever go there, don’t flush the toilet paper =) And be mindful that being a mugger or kidnapper is a career so don’t wander off from your group and be extra stealthy ninja-like when exchanging those US bills.

Now that you’ve read that disclaimer and explanation, I have my favorite part of the book to share from Chapter 12, especially what is highlighted:

“So it really is a day-to-day walk of letting Jesus sort out his way in us.” Bryce said.

“Yes it is, Bryce, and when you learn to live that way you’ll never want to go back. Jesus is really good at showing you how to do it, especially when your desire to please him is not competing with doing what you think is best or easiest.”

“Like putting my financial security above my spiritual passion.” Bryce mumbled more to himself than the rest of it.

“That’s probably the hardest one. They don’t call it the Puritan work ethic for nothing.” John smiled.

“I have so much invested here, John. I don’t know if I could walk away if I knew that’s what he was asking.”

“You’re right, you don’t know. You’ll be surprised what you’ll do when the way is clear. Some day you might just have more valuable things to do than what you’re doing here.”

“So what am I supposed to do about all of this in the meantime?”

“Keep following your hunger. Be honest about it with yourself. Do each day what he puts in your heart to do.”

“What if that creates some real conflict?”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know. I’m already starting to hear some rumblings because I’m not hyping the offering enough or pushing people into helping with children’s church. When I encourage people to rely on God, my associate thinks I’m just trying to neglect my job.”

“Believe me, I know,” John answered with a measure of sorrow in his voice. “But you need to follow him, even when it creates conflict. Always be gentle and gracious to everyone, but never compromise what is in your heart just to get along. I have no idea how this will all play out for you, but it always does in ways we can’t imagine.”

“But I could get killed this way.”

“Yes, you could. But if you’re going to follow him, what choice do you have? Follow the hunger, Bryce. It will continue to shape you and give you courage for whatever lies ahead.”

“If I end up leaving, should I tell others to leave too?”

“Why would you do that?”

“To save them from all of this and point them to something more real.”

“Pointing them to Jesus is always helpful. Telling people to leave rarely is. What if Jake had told you to do that five years ago?”

“I would have thought him a divisive rebel and wouldn’t have had anything to do with him.”

“How would that have helped you? It would have only made you more resistant to what God has done in you in the five years since.” Bryce was deep in thought now. “You see, Bryce, truth has its time. If you tell someone the truth before they’re ready to hear it, you can push them further away no matter how well intentioned you might be.”

“How do I know they aren’t ready?”

“Do you really think hundreds of people will be ready, on the same day, some Sunday morning?” John was smiling and Bryce soon joined him.

“I get that, but what about individuals?”

“You have to let Jesus show you. He can help you sense when people are ready and when you need to hold back. Make sure you really have their best interests in mind, and not using them to validate your own choice by pushing them to agree. That never works. Also listen to the questions people are asking and it will help you know if they’re hungry for more. Even with Jake I’ve put nuggets out there and watched to see what he did with them. If he listened, struggled and asked more, I took him further. If he didn’t, I let it go! I was trying to serve him; I didn’t need to validate myself.”

I was surprised at his answer, and I couldn’t help but wonder what I had missed because I hadn’t caught where he was going. It made me wonder if this is why Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors. To help hungry people see without unnecessarily hardening those who were not ready. I’d have to explore that more.

“I guess the bottom line is that if I want to find an expression of church life that fulfills what the Scriptures talk about. I either have to change this organization or leave it.”

“Or stop looking for it.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“No institutional arrangement will ever contain all that the church is. Don’t look for it institutionally; look for it relationally. Certainly the New Testament talks about the priorities of that church—Jesus as its sole head and focus, daily encouragement among believers, plural and lateral leadership, open participation, and an environment of freedom so people can grow in him.”

“Like what I have with Jake?”

“And there will be others God will give you as you simply follow him,” John added. “Some for a time will help you on your journey, others you will help on theirs but mostly you will find yourself mutually sharing his life together. ”

“But if we structured around that passion…,“ Bryce’s voice faded away as he tried to figure out how to finish that question. Finally his head cocked to one side, “Are structure and passion polar opposites?”

“No, they’re not. Not all structure is wrong. Simple structures that facilitate sharing his life together can be incredibly positive. The problem comes when structures take on a life of their own and provide a substitute for our dependence upon Jesus.”

“So I don’t need to look for the perfect church, or try to put one together?”

“How you mean that, I’d say, no. But Jesus is putting together a church without spot or wrinkle. It includes everyone in this community and around the world who lives in a growing relationship with him. It’s okay for you to look at how that church expresses itself every day in the people and events around you. Just don’t try to corral it into something you control. It just won’t work. Jesus saw the church as a reality, not an assignment for his followers to construct. She is growing, all around you. You just can’t see it now because your focal point is far short of her beauty and immensity.”

“How can I change that?”

“There’s only one way—stay focused on him. Where Jesus is given first place the church simply emerges in wonderful ways. He will place you in the body exactly as he desires. And as those relationships grow, you may find yourself surrounded by a group of people who want to walk in more intentional community together. That’s an amazing thing when it happens, but still you have to keep your focus on him. Even groups that start out centered on him are easily and quickly tempted to organize themselves to death very quickly. When Jesus ceases to be the object of our pursuit, our touch with his body will fade into emptiness.”

“I don’t know what to say.” The struggle was evident on Bryce’s face. “This goes against everything I’ve been taught. I’ve been trained to do this, to stay in control. I feel so powerless to live the way you’re talking.”

“That’s how the system controls us,” John shook his head, empathizing with Bryce’s struggle. “It’s a system we think we can work through our own initiative and effort, but that is also why it cannot produce the life you hunger for. That’s only found in him.” [Source]

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The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes

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Switchfoot – Dark Horses

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Switchfoot – Restless

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