Isaiah::36

November 21, 2017

"I'm so excited to purchase my first home!"
 ---- "Did you check for asbestos?"

"We're engaged!"
---- "Blood diamond?"

"Who wants a cupcake?"
---- "Who wants obesity?"

We all know and have heard similar voices in our life. Sometimes they come from other people and sometime they come from inside of our own head. These voices exist to rob our joy and force a fear-based view on our world. The saddest thing is that many of us feel like these voices are right. 

We shouldn't trust that good things in our life are truly good, because there's probably another shoe that will drop and expose that joy as a mirage. The only thing that we can trust is hardship and misery. 

Have you ever considered the safety that the worst case scenario provides? When you live in a place of doubting really good things, then you feel the security of the floor beneath your feet. You can't be surprised by disappointment, because that's what you've been preparing for. 

For people exploring faith, this is a message about the taunting voices in our head in our lives. How has God created us to live and navigate the world we're in!

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Isaiah::28-33

November 14, 2017

Harriet Congdon's message on delusions, crisis and the peace that passes all understanding. 

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Isaiah::27

November 7, 2017

I have had two dogs for over 13 years. 

Frank and Beanie are geriatric wiener dogs. My wife and I have seen them move through various phases over the last decade. They've been energetic puppies, the king and queen of our house and grey-muzzled-all-day-sleepers. The one thing our dogs have always been is entirely in the moment and seemingly not consumed with self-doubt. 

I'm obviously projecting on my dogs quite a bit, but let me present a situation I've never seen before that brings me to this conclusion. 

I've never walked into the living room in the morning to find Frank with his stubby little legs kicked up on our ottoman looking pensively out our window thinking;
"Who am I to bark at the neighbor dog?"
"When I develop an authoritative enough bark, I plan on using it."
"I wonder if my owners would love me more if I ate less of my own feces?"

There's such a freedom in watching a creature be so uninhibited. While my dogs have many faults, I appreciate that it's all right on the surface. My dogs are many things, but they're never false. 

This past week we talked about sitting with our inadequacies and not being afraid of them. This isn't so that we become more comfortable with wallowing in shame, but so that we can become free of it. The kind of freedom that I experience my dog having. 

This week we're going to continue that theme through the book of Isaiah in seeing how God was calling the Israelite nation to see themselves differently and experience a freedom they were created for. It's a lesson that we can learn from our pets. It's a lesson God is inviting us into so that we can live into who we were created to be. 

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Isaiah::16-21

October 30, 2017

Here's our discussion of repentance, prophets, rebuke and how we respond. 

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Isaiah::16

October 24, 2017

A number of years ago I heard this great story about a guy who felt invincible in his job. 

He wasn't known for putting forth maximum effort. Often times he would take long breaks during the middle of the day or use the ATV he operated for work to do some off-roading.  He had a catch phrase he would offer up when he was doing something that he knew was against protocol. 

"What are they going to do, fire me?"

He felt that because of his knowledge of the system and how long his parents had been associated with the organization that he was untouchable. He was a master of doing just enough to not be the biggest issues his employers dealt with, but was always a close second. This continued for several months and you're probably going to be shocked to hear what happened next. 

He was fired. 

For many of the people that worked with him it was justice when he finally lost his job. They were holding to their bosses expectations for a long time and worked alongside someone who didn't. All throughout that time they received the same paycheck, but they had to do their own jobs as well as pick up the slack from his marginal work ethic. 

Balance has a way of finding us all. Injustices can exist for excruciatingly long periods of time. Lifetimes can come and go with no relief to the clear violations that we see and experience, but no form of injustice can last forever. So, the question becomes: Are active participants in the return of justice or are bystanders to the whole process?

This exists on a corporate, community and national level, but also in deeply personal and intimate ways. 

Are there injustices going on inside of you? Is there an imbalance in your work/ play, mental activity/ physical activity or your output/input of energy? 

I ask because balance is coming and we either get to participate in the return of justice or we become of victim of its undoing. It's powerful to start this conversation personally and internally and then start seeing the larger societal ways this is playing out. 

God created us with justice in mind. We weren't made for injustices and it will never be able to stand forever. How can we join God in the mission of justice on a personal and on a corporate level? How are we experiencing greater levels of freedom when we acknowledge and address the imbalances of justice around us? 

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Isaiah::6-11

October 16, 2017

A number of years ago I went and participated in a Jazzercise class. 

Are you unfamiliar with this blend of jazz and exercise? It's dance exercise where a person from the front shouts our encouragement while modeling and describing the moves you need to perform as well. 

Making exercise more enticing for me by pairing it with dance is like trying to make dental work more appealing by pairing it with doing your taxes. No and thank you. 

I remember walking into the space with the expectation of humiliation. It wasn't a matter of wondering if I would be embarrassed by much more when

Instead what I experienced was incredible grace and a lot of fun. I was welcomed and encouraged not to worry about keeping up or getting it all right. The woman leading the class called out my name a number of times with affirmations that I was doing great. By the end of the class I felt included and safe in that space. 

Now, this is a bit of a spoiler, but there isn't even a single bit of jazzercise in the book of Isaiah. But what it does include is the description of being in a space where you're certain you don't belong. It's something that many of us have experienced and some of us experience with alarming frequency. 

What's so amazing about the story that we look at in this message is that this space is the presence of God and the word delivered is that you do actually belong. 

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Isaiah::2-4

October 9, 2017

The other day I overheard some men working on a house talking. I didn't hear much of it, but there was one line I heard very clearly. 

"Surrounded by beautiful women all day. Now THAT would be the life."

THE life. It would be THE LIFE. The pinnacle of all existences would be to have a subjective measure of beauty assigned to a gender and then you get to have these individuals in your general presence for 12ish hours a day (he didn't say all night). 

While I heard some authority in his voice when he spoke, I'm not sold. 

Now, to take this man's sexist and objectifying words literally would be a mistake, right? He was just making an off-hand remark. It was a joke. Nothing to be taken too seriously.

But isn't this how the worst lies we've created as a culture stay in circulation? We make comments here and there about what a great life would be and we don't examine them or dispute them because they aren't meant to be taken seriously. 

"There's nothing I wouldn't do for 1 million dollars."
"When I win the lottery I'm just going to sit back and let everyone else work for me."
"Have you seen her? She's way out of his league."
"I need a caramel frappucinno."

None of this would really be a problem if we didn't structure our lives and time around the pursuit of these lies. Our schedules and mental energy can be built around being in relationship with the right kind of people, making the right amounts of money and holding the right kinds of positions. We go to sleep under the blanket of these expectations that are kept alive by jokes and little comments. 

So, what happens when these expectations build up from individuals to whole societies? What happens when we build a world of lies about what we exist for and what the best life looks like? Things can get really dark in violent and overwhelming ways and we can see a bunch of beautiful and culturally successful people gripped by anxiety and depression. 

The book of Isaiah isn't calling out people for having too much fun and not being religious enough. It's about addressing the lies that have so gripped people that they chase the parts of life that have proven time and time again to create bondage and suffering. God's created us for something so much greater than we claim in our jokes and off-handed remarks. How do we hear that call again, repent and seek after what God created us for? 

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Isaiah::Context & Background

October 2, 2017

If you walked through a mall in the 90's or 00's you know all about Abercrombie & Fitch. They were the clothing store that were absolutely everywhere and some shirtless teenage boy was probably outside ready to spray you with cologne. The inside of the stores had massive posters of scantily clad models and the lighting theme featured the equivalent of one 20 watt bulb somewhere in the store.

You would probably bet that this clothing store started in the early to mid 1990's, but you'd be off by a full century. 

Abercrombie and Fitch was actually a premiere outdoor clothing retailer started in 1892. Some of their most famous customers were Ernest Hemingway and Teddy Roosevelt up until they declared bankruptcy in 1977. 

What the whole store started as with David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch became something very, very different  as time went on. Now, change is the result of time and nothing stays the same forever, but can you imagine Teddy Roosevelt walking into an Abercrombie & Fitch today? 

Sometimes people, organizations or whole nations drift from their origins to become something very different. 

That's exactly what the book of Isaiah is all about! We're going to start a new series that takes a look at this book and the theme of being called back to your true identity. I encourage you to join us if you feel like you've drifted away from yourself. If you started a journey going in one direction and today you're in a much different (and not better) place. It will be good to be reminded of who we are and the call to become ourselves again. 

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Core Values:: Advocacy

September 27, 2017

This week Insil Kang brings a message about how we can partner with those treated insignificantly by systems, individuals or indifference. 

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Core Values:: Prayer

September 22, 2017

 

One of my favorite games is the zoom in and zoom out game. 

The fun of the game is always found in how foreign everyday items look when you zoom in so far you lose all context and perspective. What you are looking at isn't something obscure or hard to identify, but a shift in your vantage point changes everything. Something you should know on sight becomes totally alien. 

I think this is a good metaphor for the spiritual journey. There's a kind of living and engaging with this world that can encounter the power of a loving God who created and remains in all we see and know. The coffee shop I sit in while I type this doesn't change in substance one bit, but my perspective on what's going on with the people swirling around me sure can. 

We all have things that will fill up the rest of today. Those who are interested in how the story of Jesus impacts the events and people of our day don't have different days, but how we engage those days should change. It's not a change in substance, it's a change of perspective. 

There are certain things that we can do that help us maintain a larger or zoomed out perspective on people and events. Prayer is one that I think needs greater levels of engagement and practice. Taking our frustrations, hopes, dreams, joys and sadness to an eternal place resets all the finite events that make up our days. I think this can change everything because we are powerless to control the circumstances of our day, but in prayer we are empowered to engage well with these uncontrolled circumstances. 

If you're frustrated, confused or uninterested in prayer I invite you to come join us this Sunday. I think there's something powerful for you in the act of prayer you may not have experienced previously. 

 
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