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July 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’m about to knock your socks off.

(I know this because my socks were literally knocked off when I heard our pastor say this on Sunday)

Get ready.

Being a follower of Jesus does NOT equal going to church.

Yes a pastor said this.

(cue the amen!)

Go pick up your socks and consider what being a follower of Christ really does mean. Here’s what our pastor said & I agree.

Being a follower of Jesus means you & I are SENT!

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Before we get to the juicy ‘sent’ part, I want to talk about church. For some odd ball reason last week the Lord gave me this message that took about 10 minutes to write. I knew it was from the Lord because, well, usually a blog post takes me anywhere from three hours to three years, give or take.

It struck a chord with people. Spiritual abuse, often in a church setting, is not something that a good Christian girl wants to talk about. You know, it might hurt people. It might ruffle some feathers. It might have backlash. Or the worst, I might come across as a bitter, cynical, church-hater. I mean, it would seem a post like 5 Really Good Reasons To Leave a Church begging people to ‘run like hell’ (I re-read the post and I literally didn’t know I’d written those words!) from church would only draw people to Jesus, right?

But in actuality, all I did was beg people to see that it is okay to use common sense, and not sit under the leadership of someone who is using the name of Jesus in such a perverse way as to inflict emotional & spiritual pain, by manipulatively drawing people to themselves rather than letting God be God in their lives.

So I’m good with it. Even if there’s backlash from the very ones who inspired the post. God may just be using that simple post to set people free from bondage they are finding in places that should provide respite from pain & bondage. word.

Back to being sent.

Follower of Jesus = Being Sent as He was sent.

Love the Message version of John 3:17 (which happens to be our key verse while teaching in Swaziland, Africa very soon) “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” 

As I learned this weekend, the words sent/send appear almost 300 times in the New Testament! I think God is trying to get His point across.

His Point? Go where I am going!

Where is Jesus going?

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is found with the people. Friend of Sinners. Oh sure, he respects the Sabbath, but not to the point of shunning people in desperate need of comfort, help & healing.

He’s found with the people. Like, real people, people. The rich. The poor. The adulterer. The beggar. The possessed. The hurting. The sick. The deformed. The thief. The fornicator. The fisherman. The unpredictable, clingy children. The drunkard. The liar. Even the tax collector!

If we call ourselves Christians, we are to be following Christ TO the people.

Are you with the people? Mike & I have had to ask ourselves that hard question… hard because being with people, opening our door & our lives is often uncomfortable & challenging. Hospitality is not my gift. 🙂

For the Christian whose spiritual life has been centered around the Sunday-morning-Gospel, its way easier to invite somebody to church than it is to invite them into our everyday lives! It’s easier to clock-in your Sunday morning duties (show up, sing, sit, shake hands, stay awake, etc.) and go home. But easier isn’t life-giving is it? We ALL know that feeling of ‘Dear God, there HAS TO BE MORE than this!!!’, right? Coming out of church feeling drained & beaten up, rather than healed up & revived… this ought not be so!

The kind of Gospel Jesus preached & lived is one that is people-centered, not church-centered.

When we start living this people-centered Gospel we can NO longer blame our lack of zeal, lack of faith, lack of God’s presence on the church or the pastor. The people-centered Gospel beckons us to seek God for how we can live our everyday lives to spread His love & bring Him glory.

This is not a works-Gospel either. It is simply a new way to see the people in your every day life, in your town, in your world as relatable. When our posture (not from The Church of the High & Mighty down the street) is that of building relationships, the ‘works’ of helping & being there for them come naturally. Its a very holy word called FRIENDSHIP!

We overcomplicate it. As I see it, essentially Christ’s message is to show love wherever, however, and to WHOMever He sends us! Hugh Halters, a pastoral renegade of sorts, says we can really only reach people we’re connected to.

For too long, the Pharisaical church has put up walls, both figurative and literal walls. Don’t touch. Be quiet. Keep your distance. Look clean. Pay your dues. And by all means, don’t ask questions.

But what did Jesus exemplify?

His life (& death) screamed, “I AM ONE OF YOU!”

He refused to put up walls. He welcomed people, welcomed touch, welcomed interruptions, and was more than comfortable around people who were far from God.

I don’t know about you, but this is a whole new paradigm shift in the way I view the Gospel. Even more than that, it just makes me in awe of God, and makes Him seem more approachable and accepting of me (beyond the sin that He & I both know are there).

Keep going to church, people. Don’t get your spiritual panties in a wad. But perhaps ask the Lord this week to open your eyes to opportunities that are all around you to share His love & live a sent life.

Shine On!


ps. Eleven of us are being sent (nice segway, huh?) to Swaziland, Africa in 10ish days. We covet your prayers. Pray that we go with the posture of visiting a good friend’s house: that we not take over, but honor their home, culture & ways of life. Pray that we speak from God’s heart, not our own good intentions. Pray for the children’s hearts & lives – may we really see them and serve them as Jesus would.

Pss. Thanks Pastor Carl for not needing fame, not needing numbers, not needing a pat on the back. For that reason, here’s a pat on the back. Keep loving Jesus. It’s contagious, dude.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 10.26.18 AMFollow Me.

Jesus said those words multiple times. To fishermen. To tax collectors. To average men. Even to a rich young ruler.

And He’s still saying them today. To me. To you.

Follow Me.

Who is a follower of Jesus? Simply, it’s one walks with Jesus, listens to His leading, and does what He asks… no matter the personal costs. It makes no difference who you were or what you were doing when He said those words: He wants you close to Him. All of you. Your talents. Your mess. Your time. Your crazy. Your heart.

Whoever sold the lie that we’ve gotta have our junk together before Jesus will want us has deceived many, many people. It’s simply not true. I think He wants us to throw off the facades of Christianity and be real. Don’t you?

What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means a lot of things, but ultimately for my journey it has meant yielding when I don’t understand. I often say, “I trust You, Jesus.” What I’m thinking when I say this is, “I have no CLUE what is going on right now, but I know You’ve got this, You’ve got me. I’m clinging to that for my dear life, Jesus.”

Jesus is not a slave driver – He’s not asking us to be miserable. He’s just asking us to surrender, because He really does know what’s best for us. And He knows our greatest joy is found in His presence & kingdom. Think about that, He wants us to experience JOY, to be free from the weights of this temporal life, to live with purpose, looking ahead to the eternal glory set before us!

I heard a great message on Sunday that set me free in this area of following Jesus. The pastor said,

“I want to follow Him. I want to be His disciple.

What does that look like FOR ME?!?!”

FOR ME?!?!

There is a journey that God has called me to walk daily. And it may not look like your journey.  Sure, there will be some fundamental things that are the same. However, this statement brought it down to me & Jesus. It’s like I got permission from God Himself to be ME, to walk with Him on this unique path, to be free to follow Him with joy – even if it doesn’t look remotely the way we’ve come to think being a ‘good Christian girl’ should look like. word.

For me, Following Him encompasses these 4 areas: (of course there’s more, but 4 is enough to share for now}

1. Getting over the fact that I’m not June Cleaver. Heck, I’m not sure I’m even Peg Bundy. My house & my kids can be unruly… and I’m totally okay with it most days. My worth as a human being & mother is no longer defined by how (un)clean my house is or how well behaved my kids are in public. My oldest, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has taught me so much about acceptance & a deep love that goes beyond the outer shell of socially acceptable behavior.

2. Not losing hope whenever life throws a curve ball… or ten. Thus, finding purpose in the peaks & the valleys.

3. Celebrating & being grateful for the small ways He pours His love on me & those I love.

4. Cultivating my God-given desire to see children, (the forgotten, the lonely, the hurting) experience the tangible love of God’s kingdom – if they are across the street or if they are 10,000 miles from me. God is in the business of changing lives and He puts no borders on those dreams. He’s instructed me, ‘Follow me to Africa; bring awareness to their need for love & hope with the gifts I’ve given you. Inspire others to see both the need & the joy that comes from giving. Be the advocate I’ve called you to be. I’ll instruct you along the way. You were made for this.’ 

I enjoy life so much more when I’m not caught up in what our culture, organized religion, or my demons say I should be. So I encourage you to let all those things go – you don’t have to measure up to anyone else’s complicated standards. Live moment by moment with Him, ask Him to guide you, to show you how to be His disciple, to give you boldness to be uniquely you.

What does following Jesus look like for you?

Be free to follow Him down YOUR path. The world needs what you have. Jesus will show you how to get there.

Shine On!