Reality Check

We exist to share the Good News as a Spiritual Family for Holistic Transformation. 

We exist to change things. We call this Holistic Transformation: the transformation of all things from how they currently are into how God created them to be. 

This includes you and I and we call this journey of transformation... discipleship. 

But all transformation begins with something that is sometimes not so fun... a reality check. 

You've got issues. Me too. And your issues are not everyone else's fault or the result of your bad circumstances. For the most part and for better, or for worse, they're your problems. By facing the reality of your situation, the reality of your beliefs, your feeling, and your actions, you can then begin to change. 

The Good News cannot change us if we're not living in the reality of our present condition. We know we're not living in the reality of our present condition when we blame others, make excuses and pretend that brokenness (or what the Bible calls sin) isn't a big deal. 

The scary thing is that we can talk about transformation all the time, but if you can't see your issues or you blame them on your circumstances or on everyone else, you will not change.

And you'll drift from following Jesus because Jesus hangs out in the nitty, gritty honesty of reality.

If you want to take your next step following Jesus... come back to reality. When you begin to take responsibility for your stuff, don't get discouraged or stuck in shame. Instead, confess to others, repent to God, and receive his forgiveness, grace, and love.

In the words of the famous contemporary poet, "Snap back to reality."

Saturday: From Striving to Abiding

Each day of our 2017 fast has included a short reflection on each of the 7 Movements of Discipleship. The 7 Movements are the way we explain the transformations that come as we follow Jesus.

The fast ends this morning and it's the perfect time to consider the final movement in the 7 Movements: moving from Striving to Abiding.

In John chapter 15, Jesus says to you:

I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You are the branch and you are connected to the vine, which is Jesus. The life flows through the vine and into the branches. 

Jesus explains that if we 'remain' in him and he in us, we will bear fruit. Fruit are the good, positive things of the kingdom that come from our lives. Think of a place where the New Testament describes "fruit": 

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

And then Jesus goes further: "Apart from me you can do NOTHING."

Wow. Nothing? Jesus is welcoming us into Kingdom life--the life of radical dependence. Jesus describes himself the same way:

"Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19)

There is a way to live the Christian life that isn't like Jesus at all. This is the way of striving. When we are striving, we are making great efforts to achieve something. But, following Jesus isn't about achieving anything.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
— Matthew 18:3

The way you get into the Kingdom is the way you live in the Kingdom. The way you got in was by becoming like a child, giving up your own ideas, your own efforts, your good works and your sin. It was by dying to yourself and receiving Jesus' life in exchange.

The Christian life doesn't work for many of us because we're trying to make it work on our own. The life of following Jesus is all about abiding. In this case, abiding means to be joined to Jesus and receiving his life. Notice that? Your life is primarily about receiving something, not achieving something.

This abiding, resting with, joining to, staying with Jesus is the exceedingly simple, yet difficult, transformation we must make in our journey to become whole people reflecting God's image. Without this, there is no real experience of life, nor fruit, nor love.

Your life is not a performance--it's a gift. If you want your life to be fruitful, stop thinking so much about the fruit. Stop comparing yourself to others or judging. Instead, come close to Jesus. Invest in relationship with Him and that connection will grow the fruit. Fruit just grows when the plant's got what it needs, no? So, you can stop striving. When you're done and you have nothing left, you can begin receiving life from Jesus. Walk with Him, read His words, talk to him, listen to Him.

Who knows what might happen.

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Thank you for committing to this week of prayer and fasting. The 7 Movements are the way we explain the transformations that come as we follow Jesus. What Movement will you make?

Friday: From Scarcity to Abundance

Each day of our 2017 fast will include a short reflection on each of the 7 Movements of Discipleship. The 7 Movements are the way we explain the transformations that come as we follow Jesus.

The fast is soon coming to a close. We started Sunday evening at sundown and we're ending tomorrow morning at sunrise. As we've spent the week experiencing what it's like to go without and have God still fill us, let's briefly reflect on the movement from Scarcity to Abundance.

Moving from Scarcity to Abundance is a change of perspective and, eventually, a change in the way you come to experience reality.

When we are living from a perspective of scarcity we will do all we can to protect our life, our money, and our possession. This is because we believe that if we lose them, that will be it. In scarcity, losing something is always a loss. When we live from a perspective of scarcity, we live independently, trusting that we'll have to work and sweat for everything that we will get--money, recognition, relationships. This, naturally, makes it difficult to share, to give, and to lose generously.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.
— Luke 12:15

When we talk about an abundance mentality, we're not talking about what some people teach: that God desires to bless you with ever increasing amounts of wealth and possessions--you just gotta tap into it! No, that's not it. 

Our world is slowly coming to terms with the fact that ever increasing amounts of wealth and possessions do not increase happiness nor quality of life. 

God has known that for a long time.

When we talk about having an abundance mentality we are talking about living dependently on God, who is your Father, and who owns everything. 

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. (Psalm 24:1-2)

From the perspective of abundance, everything you have is a gift from God. You can share, give, or lose anything because your Father "knows what you need before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). 

When we give generously with an abundance mentality, what we give away will multiply.
— Henri Nouwen

When we live from a perspective of abundance, we don't look at our needs or other's needs and think hopeless thoughts. We look at every need as an opportunity for God to provide. God may choose to provide in a myriad of ways and He may choose to provide in a way that we would have rather him not. Either way, we live dependently on Him.

It's as if, when God fills out his metaphorical tax return every year, He lists you as his dependent.

Each of the 7 Movements are transformations we must experience as we follow Jesus. For example, I must die to the old me who lived in a world of scarcity, where only I took care of me and where there was never enough. Through Jesus, I am born again, like Him--living freely in a world of abundance where I can count on my Father to provide for me. As all of life is a gift, I become thankful for everything--seeing the miracle in the small and the big.

Do you live from a perspective of scarcity or abundance?

Not sure?

Do you find it easy to give money generously? Or is it like pulling teeth? Does it fill you with worry?

Do you find it easy to share your time, your possessions, your recognition? Or do you feel like you're only losing?

To move from scarcity to abundance, you must come to find your security and the assurance of your value and future in God. Without this, it will really just be your striving to change separated from the real condition of your heart (more on that tomorrow in the 7th Movement).

Following Jesus is a journey toward all the creative potential and possibilities that exist within God. In a relationship with God, there is no end. That's abundance. The God who made, owns and knows all... is your Father. He's given you eternal life. The never-ending life of God for you to experience, drink from and live within. Now and into the future.

Remember the 7 Movements are movements we take as we are transformed into the image of Jesus. Jesus depended on His Father for everything and, therefore, he lived life at rest.

How can you take your next step away from scarcity and into the beautiful world of an abundant God? 

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The fast is almost over! Join us this Saturday morning at 10am - 12:30pm to pray and break the fast! We will be at 680 rue Richmond. Please bring a dish to share.