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READING LIST

The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Yearly Archives: 2016

Super Tuesday has just gone by, and with all the buzz about elections, I can’t help but think about how “faith” impacts our politics. After all, these are the two things you are not supposed to talk about at parties. They turn conversations into heavy discussions, and make at least some people sorry they came. These two topics share something in common: They confront and expose our beliefs about life, why we are here, and how we should treat one another. So there is a lot of religion in politics…

This has been true from the start. By today’s standards, there is something very religious about the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What kind of religion supports this view of people: “all… created equal”? Most religions spend volumes distinguishing the value on of one person from another based on his or her gender, race, history, abilities, piety, or performance – how well they “serve” God. I know of only one faith that could possibly support the statement that all are equal and “endowed… with certain unalienable rights”: That is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Only He has proved the value of all people (whether they believe in Him or not) by offering His life for theirs.

“For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16), not just one race – not just righteous people – not just the strong or the weak. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he appeals to them, “Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.”  He is telling them to consider the impact of their actions on others – Why? Because Christ has settled one thing: Each and every person is worth it.

I am really burdened with the direction this is taking today. Do we treat each other more like we are “worth it”, or less? Are we more or less willing to go through conflict and stay in relationships? Are we more or less willing to be inconvenienced by others…by a child?

Our Nation began with a religious statement. It wasn’t followed perfectly at first, and it still isn’t. But this starting point has guided many critical decisions along the way. It appeals for the honor of the exploited; it champions the efforts of each individual’s “pursuit of happiness”; and it has provided a foundation for the strength of a Nation like nothing else in history. That being said, is the change we seek this election season more hanging on which individual ends up in the White House, or which person ends up “presiding” in our hearts? For us, may it be the One who stubbornly insists that every one of us is “worth it”.

As a little child I remember being in a church building and my mother telling me, “God lives here”. My next question might have been obvious: “Is that God?” as I pointing to a man standing in the balcony. No, that was not God, and my Mom bravely tried to explain how God is here, but He’s invisible…

Later on, I noticed that God didn’t seem so invisible in the Bible stories I heard. Everyone knew He was there and doing things like talking to Adam and Eve, parting seas, sending plagues, and talking from a burning bush – not to mention creating the world.

He seemed very busy back then, but what’s going on with God lately – what is He doing now?  Is He on vacation? Then I read a story about Jesus in His home town of Nazareth. They all knew His family, and they were offended by the idea that He was “special”. So they didn’t see many miracles. They didn’t see God show up for them. So maybe the question isn’t “What is God doing?” but rather, “What are we seeing?”

Jesus had a message – still has a message. Matthew the tax collector wrote it down, and we labeled it “Matthew 4:17”. Most Bibles read: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. I am not sure who knows what that means, but the words that were translated that way are: “metanoeo”, which literally means to “go beyond your mind”; and, “basileia toon ourannon”, the “rule of Heaven”, which is a euphemism for God, whom Jesus says is “at hand”.  So I think it is fair to say that the message Jesus began to give was this:

“Get over yourselves; God is in the room”

This changes things for me. I notice that every time the disciples of Jesus ended up preaching it was right after God “showed up” – someone was healed, or freed from an evil spirit. Jesus told the Pharisees, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you!” (Luke 11:20)

So the problem in Nazareth was not that they didn’t have God with them. The problem was that they could not admit it. The way God was showing up was too “familiar”, and so they missed it. This message of Jesus is not so much about theology or forgiveness of sins, but about the fact that God is in the room, and the only reason we don’t notice is because we are not over ourselves.

Maybe that is what we are missing as we secretly wish God would come visit us and rescue our lives. Are the ways He is coming to us just too familiar? What would happen if we could just step aside and let God be known – right where we are? What kinds of things would we see God do? Who wants to find out?…