A Word About Life

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For those of us who follow Jesus…

– who long for a more authentic expression of life

– who reach for something more than religion

– who want our faith to be more than a belief system

– who submit to a God we have never seen

– who have experienced a change that is undeniable

– who recklessly follow the way of love…

For you, I want to remind you, encourage you and challenge you with a life altering word.

READY?

Here goes…

“It’s not about you!”

I know, this may startle you. It may sound harsh or cold or insensitive. It may bring up all kinds of arguments or theological rebuttals and if it does, that’s OK. But it’s true none-the-less.

Question: Have you ever paused long enough to move beyond dealing with what you were saved from in order to ask, “What was I saved for?”

Really, what’s the point of our freedom from brokenness, struggle, guilt, conflict and death? To move into healing, freedom, confidence, peace and life – right? But life for what?

Deep down, we know that this authentic expression of life is much deeper than what we find our dreams, our failures, our desires and our successes. When we have moments of clarity, we know that true life can be found in the midst of all of this. It obviously involves us but somehow, it’s not limited to our external experiences.

So what’s it really about? What’s this new life for? As we question, listen to the following simple truth from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

You see, the further we follow Jesus, the clearer the view becomes. We begin to see life as it was intended, not as it has been twisted. As we encounter this truer life more and more, we see the one for whom life was made and for whom life was given. We see Jesus – the very heart of the Creator.

When our eyes are fixed clearly on him, we realize that he is the center of the story. It is about him. His love. His gifts. His dreams. His forgiveness. His hope for a new and better life – a life remade by him and a life defined by relationship with him.

We are brought from death to life so that he might wholly and completely know us and love us. This is his heart, his nature, his overwhelming passion – that he might be express himself fully to us, the object of his desire. That he might once again be free to shower his love on us.

It is in the midst of this love that everything changes for us. Our hearts are healed, our dreams are rebuilt, our pursuits are altered, our relationships are mended and our successes are redefined. And somewhere, throughout this transformation, it hits us. The truth of Jesus comes flooding our hearts demanding us to die so his life may fully take hold and the Spirit reminds us with the words of Christ himself, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”

It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about what we want or what we would choose. It’s about him and us being brought closer to him. Period. This is all that really matters.

Once we get this, the story changes. Our selfish pursuits become selfless offerings and instantly we are moved into partnership with our God. Moved into the front of his battle against what threatens to destroy his children. Moved to become extensions of the love of God. It is here that our gift of life finds full meaning.

What are we saved for? We are “Redeemed to Redeem!”

Take a look at the words of a new song we are singing at Journey, that was produced by Austin Stone Music:

Redeemed to Redeem 

We have come too far, beloved

Than to sway this path we tread

We have nothing else to boast

Than the cross where Jesus bled

CHORUS:

We’ve been redeemed to redeem the world around us

We have been loved to love one another

We’ve been pursued to pursue Your kingdom

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem

VERSE 2:

Yes we know what is to come

A home where men no longer thirst


For our souls were made to love
 oh nothing of this passing earth,

Oh nothing of this passing earth

BRIDGE:

To You our lives, we surrender now

Our hearts are Yours, we surrender now

All for Your name, we surrender now

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem

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Journey of Faith Series

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Have you ever been loved more than you deserve?

Have you ever been given more than you gave? Forgiven when you wouldn’t have forgiven if the tables were turned? Pursued when you would have run away?

If so, I’d love to hear your story. I’d love to share a cup of coffee with you and marvel at the wonder of this gift. I’d love to hear where you found yourself and who it was who offered the unimaginable. And I’d love to meet that person. To look deep in her eyes as I celebrate the heart of God I see in them.

You know that’s where this reckless love comes from, right?

It’s what we were created for. To love and be loved. To be naked and vulnerable and completely known, yet accepted and cherished and honored. It’s the way things should be – and will be again one day. In the time between now and then, life is rediscovered in the pursuit of this love.

If you’re like me, you’ve chased this kind of experience in countless ways. I’ve looked for it in romance, friendship, professional partnerships, sensuality, athletic acclaim, public approval, and on and on the list could go. All of these offer glimpses of the approval and connection we long for but in the end, they are all empty and lacking.

No one and no thing can fill that void in our lives. It doesn’t matter what we chase, it all ends up twisted, bent and out-of-place. Nothing that has been created can give this to us. It’s all idolatry – false gods!

Realizing this can set us up for a transformed life. It’s not the created but the Creator who can satisfy our hunger for love and significance. And what of the pursuit?

So often, we focus on our pursuit. But have you ever considered the idea that you and I aren’t the centerpiece of the story? We aren’t the main character. But we aren’t insignificant to it! No, we are essential to the story. We are the supporting cast – so much so that the story can’t be told without us. You see, we are the love interest of the main character.

Our’s is a story of God’s love affair and we are his lover! He is the primary pursuer, chasing us with a relentless passion that is completely beyond our understanding. It’s so much less about our pursuit of him and so much more about his pursuit of us. He is coming after us and he will never stop. The question is, will you give in to his love? Will you submit to his advances? Will you allow your heart to be caught and overcome?

If you do, it will change everything! It will fill your heart with what you were intended to have from the beginning and you will find yourself naturally extending this kind of reckless love freely. His heart will begin to just come out of you.

How about you?

Reckless Pursuit

I have never enjoyed running, although I have done it in some form for most of my life. It is sort of required to play the sports I love. But I have never really understood running for the sake of running. My thought is, “Why go through the trouble if there is no greater reward waiting at the end?”

A year and a half ago, I led Journey Christian Community in Waco, TX through a teaching series entitled, “Yahweh’s Story.” It is an amazing story full of unbelievable love and indescribable heartache. It is the story that we all find ourselves in — but it is not our story. It’s the Father’s!

Since the very beginning of this story, our Father has been after us. He has been pursuing us with reckless abandon. And we run. We follow the pattern of so many who have come before us and we run. We run because we are afraid. We run because we are ashamed. We run because we believe that something out there will ease our hearts.

If only we would slow down long enough to take a look at the one chasing after us. We would see the face of a Father whose heart is breaking. We would hear the tenderness of his voice, pleading, “It’s OK! Come, let me hold you. You are my precious one.” You see, the Father is not in pursuit to accuse and destroy. In fact, quite the opposite! He pursues because he loves you radically and he will continue in his chase until the last chapter of his story is written.

I, like most of us, am a runner. But I have been caught by the Father and have been overcome by his love for me. I still run but most days it is toward him.

This blog and its posts are dedicated to discovering the Father’s pursuit of our hearts and the incredible life given to us as we live recklessly in his love.

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Reckless Pursuit: Part 1 – How It Could Have Been

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Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love is in its final stages of production and will be made available early this Fall. As we move toward announcing its arrival, I will be posting regular teasers straight from the content of the book. Today’s snapshot look at Reckless Pursuit comes from Part 1: How It Could Have Been.

                The phone rang. Without hesitation, I ran to pick it up, hoping I was quick enough to keep it from waking our baby boy. “Hello,” I answered in a hushed tone. On the other end was a voice I recognized. It was a mom of one of the girls in our ministry and there was a noticeable sense of desperation in her voice.

                  “Landon! I’m sorry to be calling you so late but I need your help. It’s Candice…she’s really struggling and I don’t know what to do. I hate to ask this but can you come over and talk with her right now?”

                  I glanced at Kristen and she gave me that understanding look. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the clock; it was a quarter past ten. I turned back to the phone, told the mom I’d be right there and hung up.

                  In the five minutes it took me to get to their house, my mind went a thousand different directions. The past year or so was a tremendously difficult time for our community. Our town had been hit over and over by teenage suicide and I had watched our people move from shock to despair to anger and finally to a strange and uncomfortable apathy. I came back to focus on Candice and the questions kept flying. “What could be going on with her? Why didn’t I ask more questions? Does it have anything to do with the suicides? Is she struggling herself or is she hurting for someone else? Will I have a clue what to do?” And again, “Why didn’t I ask more questions?” I found myself in the all too familiar place of the unknown and the out of control. In response, I did the only thing I knew to do…I prayed.

                  When I arrived at the house, Candice’s mom met me on the sidewalk, thanked me for coming and began to fill me in on the situation. “Landon, I just don’t know what to do. Nothing I say seems to matter. I can’t get through to her.”

                  “What’s the problem?” I replied. “What is she struggling with so much?”

                  As she was forming the answer, I could see tears begin to surface in her eyes. “Candice doesn’t know if she believes there is a God!”

Does this sound familiar? Is this how life is supposed to be? Does faith have to be so hard? Do our experiences have to be defined in struggle? Keep checking back for more from Reckless Pursuit.

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