It is no ordinary question. It is a question about the future. A state of mind. A curiosity. An impatience. The restless pursuit of what can be. A promise to always push beyond what is. To challenge convention. To question everything. To constantly remind ourselves of those far from God. Join us starting June 4 as we answer the question Now What?
We all want successful relationships with our spouse, kids, parents, co-workers, and friends. So why does it feel like the odds are stacked against us? Don't be a statistic. Find out how to beat the odds in this series beginning April 23.
In the days and weeks preceding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, three groups of characters found their way into the story. Each had problems, but mostly around his unwillingness to surrender control to the Savior of the world. Initially, it might be easy to dismiss them as fools. However, there is a little bit of them in all of us. Join us in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday to learn how we can avoid the mistakes they made.
A huge potential problem for churches & Christians throughout history is that we would fail to follow the example of the father in the story of the Prodigal Son.
That we would become content with who is here and lose concern for those who are absent, have wandered away or perhaps have never been introduced to a Father who loves them.
This is a familiar story, but we hope it’s a story that would re-align our hearts with the heart of:
- a Father who was willing to leave the 99 to find the 1.
- a Father who refuses to stop searching until what is lost is restored.
- a Father who throws a party for a son who has done nothing to deserve it.
- a Father who always has His Eyes on the Road.
Does prayer really work?
Many, if not all of us, have asked this question at some point, in spite of our religious background. We have almost all prayed either because we acknowledged we needed help, we prayed for a sick loved one, we were lonely, or maybe we were just pondering the meaning and source of life. Because we have all prayed, we have also asked questions like:
- Why does it seem like some people's prayers "work" more ofter or "better" than others?
- What does a prayer "working" even mean?
- Is anyone even listening?
- What is the purpose anyhow?
In Matthew 6:5-13, Jesus is teaching those around Him how to pray. What is very interesting is the structure, order, and purpose of His prayers, and how these areas contrast with how we pray. He also gives us some helpful tips on how not to pray.
The structure we are going to use is:
- Declare God's greatness (verse 9) - This part of praying that we normally quickly go through, Jesus emphasizes that when we pray we should pause to think about who we're talking to. We should think about the INTIMATE connection God wants us to have, how BIG God is, and that God is DIFFERENT than us.
- Surrender your will (verse 10) - This is the part that most of us skip over completely because we all have our will & kingdom - finances, relationships, health, family, career, goals. But before we get to our kingdoms & wills, Jesus wants us to STOP & understand that we are more committed to God's will & kingdom than our own. We are not coming to God to convince Him to bend in our direction, rather we are coming to God to make sure we are bent in His direction. It has been said that the length of your prayers will be determined by how long it takes you to surrender to "God's will be done".
- Acknowledge your dependence (verse 11-13) - This involves acknowledging, usually rather than requesting, all we have comes from God providing for us. It is also acknowledging that God has pardoned us, therefore we are to pardon others who wrong us. It also includes acknowledging we need God's protection from temptation and the desire to do evil.
Even if your requests don't get answered the way you want, this kind of prayer works everytime because the purpose of prayer is to surrender our will, not impose it.
Most of us would say we know how to pray at least a little. It's just talking to God...right? Maybe prayer is more than us just talking to God. Maybe it is more than us convincing God to give us what we want. Maybe it is more than just changing the people & circumstances around us. Maybe its greatest power is the change that happens inside of us. Join us starting February 26 as we look to Jesus' prayers for guidance on how we should pray and what prayer is really all about.
While the Jesus Model is less complicated than all the Temple approaches to God. The Jesus Model is more demanding. Because of things Jesus said like John 13:34-35 (NLT)
Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Jesus also redefined 4 terms that are very important to our understanding of this Brand New movement.
#1 Structure: The church is a body, not an earthly Kingdom. While Jesus and Paul both referenced God's Kingdom coming, it is not of this world. Paul talked directly about the church being a Body. While each of us has been gifted to play a specific part. However, if we aren't engaged, something is missing. And if we aren't engaged we are missing something. While the Temple Model is about consuming, the Jesus Model is about engaging. We could stay home and worship God alone, but why would we want to do that when we can engage with the rest of the Body and change our community and change our world? Why would we cheat ourselves & the Body?
#2 Authority: Exercised for the benefit of the followers, not the leaders. Jesus completely turned the leadership paradigm upside down. In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus explains to his disciples that authority is about leveraging our power to serve those under our authority. Then Jesus said in John 13:15-16, the more authority we gain, the more feet we need to wash.
#3 Marriage: A caring partnership not ownership or domination. Jesus elevated the status of women in a world where they were property, their voices didn't count, and they were treated as 2nd rate. Jesus replaced the idea of marriage as ownership with marriage as a partnership. Then in Ephesians 5:21, Paul came along and re-emphasized that marriage should be a level playing field.
#4 Holiness: Being "a part of" rather than setting one's self "apart from". Jesus coming to Earth showed that holiness was no longer about withdrawing from, but rather engaging with. Holiness wasn't about disengaging from the world. It wasn't about the Christians huddling up together. It wasn't just about making a "Christian" everything. In John 1:14, we see that the perfect, holy God would choose to come down to our dirty planet and not just become a human, but also make his home among other humans. Then Jesus, the Messiah, would go around touching, healing & interacting with unclean, unholy people. He redefined holiness to being "a part of" rather than setting one's self "apart from".
- Do you define these 4 terms the same way Jesus did?
- What if we all individually engaged as a part of the Body?
- What if every Christian in authority decided to use authority for the sake of the people under them?
- What if every husband & wife laid down their rights & reasons and learned to treat each other the way that God through Christ has treated them?
- What if we looked for ways to engage our community rather than retreat and huddling together?
What if we began to ask at every point when selfishness rises up or those moments when we want our way...What does love require of me?
That brand of Christianity changed the world once. That brand of Christianity can change the world again. That brand of Christianity will be almost irresistible.