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Jesus got my attention-to pay attention to Jesus and his teachings primarily. I came to the realization that I didn't really know Jesus as personally as I would like. I knew a lot about him from his birth to his death. I had written about him, built a Church around him, developed self-help principles from his teachings and I pretty well thought I knew when the widespread and popular 2nd coming of Jesus might take place.
I came to the decision that I was just tired of running a Church, going to a Church, and talking, talking, talking about it. I had this deep desire to practice the church-to be the church and to find out experientially for myself if this Church thing-this Jesus lifestyle I'd articulated for so long, could be lived. More than that, I wanted to know for sure that I could live this lifestyle-really live it out.
I knew that this meant moving away from my frantic speaking, writing and counseling schedule. Somehow all of that needed to be set aside to provide enough space to learn what it means to trust Jesus with my life-moment by moment. This was something I only talked about and rarely experienced. This meant facing several lifestyle adjustments. Fortunately, Diana was willing to make this shift in our lifestyle, too.
We gathered a few friends to ask them if they would walk with us as we followed our new found aspirations. We gathered three couples, spent the day with them and shared our thoughts and feelings. When we asked them if they would be willing to walk with us through this journey to get to know Jesus and live out the Jesus lifestyle, they unanimously agreed to walk with us and we all became enthusiastic about what we might discover about Jesus and ourselves together.
We began with a 45 day prayer covenant that we would agree to pray together. We prayed for wisdom on how to walk with Jesus, for those who are hurting-the abused, addicted, and damaged-to come to us. We prayed that we might learn together how to mentor others to follow this Jesus with us, yet we were determined we would not promote what we were doing. We committed to one another to wait on Jesus to bring people to us with ears to hear and eyes to see. And that's exactly what Jesus did! You know the drill. You pray for God to come through and show Himself in tangible ways, then when He does, you are shocked!
Together we drew up a covenant that held us to our agreements together. As we listed our agreements, they fell into place into what we've come to know as the EMBERS COVENANT. There were six agreements: 1. Embrace the teachings of Jesus as a lifestyle. 2. Mentor others to do the same. 3. Believe God for raising up leaders. 4. Empower the youth. 5. Restore the broken-the addicted, abused and the poor. 6. Serve everyone who is brought our way. This covenant took on the form of a question: What can I do to help?
People were definitely brought our way and we gathered with them to meet Jesus as he showed up among us. What a ride! What a thrill! And it's still continuing today!
This is when I determined to speak on what we were learning-to share with others what we were seeing and experiencing. So, I began with "The Jesus Factor" that turned into a 6 part series of messages. Five additional series emerged with 6 messages each-we call it the "Jesus Journey" and that early articulation was rough, but powerfully effective to help those who were interested to get to know Jesus.
At the end of this 42 week series of messages, it was clear to me that in order to really experience what it means to walk with Jesus, walk with others and wait for Jesus to lead out, something drastic had to happen. So, we decided that we must dismantle our organized Church and begin meeting in homes. This was a tough move, because long-time traditions are hard to break. In fact, I think it's more difficult to dismantle a Church than to start one!
This is when I felt it necessary to discipline myself to write something on Jesus on a daily basis. We first called it 'ACTS 29 Daily', then it emerged into the 'JESUS PLUS NOTHING Daily.' Now, this daily study has been going for nearly seven years.
The Daily podcast/blog subscriber list has continued to grow and many forward it on to family, friends and colleagues, when they deem it appropriate to pass it on. Of all of the studies, the most popular was a series of 32 myths. I called it "Mything Out On Jesus and His Teachings" and published it in a booklet format, straight from the blogs. A steady flow of these booklets are acquired through Amazon.com and several small groups are using this tool as a text for study.
Whereas "Mything Out On Jesus and His Teachings", was sort of an in your face challenge to all those who still wear traditional blinders about Jesus, JESUS PLUS NOTHING is different. JESUS PLUS NOTHING is a gentler, kinder, inductive telling of my personal journey with Jesus, then sharing a more full teaching of the pre-eminence of Jesus, the presence of the Kingdom and the power of the few. JESUS PLUS NOTHING is an invitation to come and see Jesus for yourself. It's also a challenge to not just be a believer in Jesus, but learn to be a follower of him. Begin your Jesus journey today!
Tomorrow, we'll begin revisiting the 32 myths.