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Jesus.


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Jesus.


Everybody has faith.

People often say they could never have faith, that it is just too hard or difficult to believe in God. A popular thought in our culture right now is that some people have faith, and others do not, but everybody has faith. Everyone is following somebody.

Here’s an example: Some believe we were made by a Creator who has plans and purposes for our lives, while others believe there is no greater meaning to life, that we exist not because of some divine desire but because of random chance. Both perspectives are faith perspectives.  Each is built on systems of belief. Someone who says we are here by chance and that there is no greater purpose to life has just as many beliefs as a person who says there is a Creator.  Everybody has faith, what they have faith in and who they follow might be different.

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Why We PURSUE Jesus.


Why We PURSUE Jesus.


Everybody follows somebody. Every day we all make decisions about what is important, like how we try to treat people and what to pursue in our life. All of these decisions come from what we believe. And all of us have gotten our beliefs from somewhere.  Everyone of us has been formed by the complicated mix of people, places, things and events of our story, things like parents, friends, teachers, music, news channels, Facebook, experiences, etc.  We are shaped by all of these things and we form, from these experiences, how we live and who we believe we are.

WE ARE ALL FOLLOWING SOMEBODY. WE ALL HAVE FAITH IN SOMETHING AND SOMEONE.

As Christians, we are simply trying to align our lives around living a specific kind of way, the kind of way Jesus teaches us is possible. Again, every one is following somebody, and we’ve chosen to pursue Jesus because we believe that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live.

We believe living generously and with giving hearts is a better way to live. We believe in forgiving people and not holding on to hate, anger & bitterness. We believe in sharing our life with others and journeying with them though joy or sorrow. We believe in having compassion towards others. We believe in pursuing peace in every circumstance. We believe in listening to the wisdom of other people. We believe being honest and real with people is a better way to live.  We believe in these things because Jesus taught us that to truly live, this is the kind of lifestyle to pursue.

Everybody follows somebody, and we are trying to follow Jesus.

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What He Taught


What He Taught


Jesus was and is, with his teaching and lifestyle, calling people to live in tune with reality.  At one point he said that if you had seen him, you had “seen the Father.”  In other words, seeing how Jesus treats people, the principles he called people to live by, is what God is like.  In Jesus’ love, compassion, peace, honesty, and generosity, he was showing us who God is, what God is like, and what He desires we model in our lifestyle choices.

So what did Jesus teach about and how does it speak to our life?  Well, here's a few samples taken from the book of Matthew.

Hatred & Murder

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
— Jesus (Matthew 5:21-22, MSG)

Lust

You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
— Jesus (Matthew 5:27-28, MSG)

Empty Promises

And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
— Jesus (Matthew 5:33-37, MSG)

Loving Our Enemies

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
— Jesus (Matthew 5:38-48, MSG)

Giving to the Needy

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
— Jesus (Matthew 6:1-4, MSG)

Prayer

And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.
— Jesus (Matthew 6:5-8, MSG)

Greed, Money, Possessions & Worry

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
— Jesus (Matthew 6:21-34, MSG)

Criticism 

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
— Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5, MSG)

AND SO MUCH MORE.

The first four books of the New Testament are full of great teachings by Jesus.  There is also so much more that was never written down.  John, a friend and follower of Jesus put it this way:

"If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books."
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The StoRY


WE FIND OURSELVES IN.

The StoRY


WE FIND OURSELVES IN.

The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth—all we see and all we don’t see (Genesis 1:1). In the beginning there was God and this God desired to create life from what the Bible says was formerly void and empty.  In other words, from nothingness.

Creation begins a drama that has life at the center of it.  In creating, God shares God’s life with all of His creation and sets the agenda for the entire story of God.  God’s story, or the Bible, is about life.  And this life is to be maintained and allowed to flourish over and against anything that might be set against it. Throughout the Jewish Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) there is a vision of what life with God looks like, summarized by the word, shalom.  

Shalom is an important Hebrew word in the Bible, and while it is most often translated as "peace" it's Hebrew meaning goes much further.

For most of us, we understand peace to be the end or absence of conflict. We talk about peace at home, with people, in our workplace or in the world. But the Hebraic understanding of shalom is far more than just the absence of conflict.  It is the presence of the goodness of God and the presence of wholeness and completeness.

In the beginning there was shalom, or wholeness, in all of God's creation.  We know this because God says after each day, all he created was "good".  There was harmony between mankind, between us and the earth, within ourselves, and with our Creator.  One doesn't have to look too far in our world to see that that story has changed.  Shalom, universally, doesn't exist in the world we currently live in.  We see it in the news, in the lives around us, in our homes and even in ourselves.  

The Bible tells us that early in the creation story, mankind broke shalom by choosing to live by their own ways and understanding, and not follow the God who created them.  In doing so, we have caused brokenness in the whole world. This is what the Bible means when it talks about SIN.  In looking at the teachings of Jesus, and other teachings in the Bible, we can see how we have, and often add, to the broken shalom in our world.  We can see it in how we treat others, the things we chase after in life, in how we treat the world we were given.  

Jesus tells us that in order to have our relationship with God restored, and in order for God to start working in our hearts to bring about restoration towards shalom,  we must believe in this story.  We must admit and own up to the ways that we have broken shalom with our actions.  And we must believe in who Jesus was and what he did in order to repair our relationship with God.

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What Jesus Did


 FOR YOU, US & THE WORLD.

What Jesus Did


 FOR YOU, US & THE WORLD.

For every crime, there is a punishment.

 Every society in the world and throughout history has had laws and consequences for when those laws are broken.  The Bible tells us that the penalty for the ways that we have broken shalom is death.  It's a capital offense.  Going back to some of the words that Jesus said about murder, "I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder."  In God's eyes, we are guilty of killing someone by the way we feel about them in our heart, or in the ways we have acted out against someone because of our anger.  This is because in the creation story we see that God created mankind in His own image.  And every person that is born bears that created mark and image of God.  Just as a father or mother cares for and defends their own children, God demands that we are held accountable for the way we treat what He's created.  Including others, ourselves and the world.  As it says in Romans 1, we have all chosen not to acknowledge our Creator or desire to live as He asks us to.

That's what makes the Jesus story so powerful.  God came down to His creation and lived among us.  That's what Jesus' name means, "God with us." God, as Jesus, shows us how to be human.  He shows us how to live and what reality is. But He did more then that.  He never SINNED.  And because the people He came to enlighten rejected Him due to their own pride and selfish interests, He was put to death as a criminal who claimed to be God. 

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He is risen.


He is risen.


I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die...
— Jesus (John 11:25, NIV)

Here's where the story takes an amazing twist.  Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, and just as He had claimed, was raised again to life displaying to us His power and authority over death.  For those who trust and believe in Jesus, who acknowledge they have been living without God or following His ways, and who choose to admit the ways that they have contributed to the brokenness of the world, we live agin.  The grave is not the end.

We have the promise of a renewed Earth, of a place similar to the Garden of Eden that was created in the beginning.  A place were shalom is restored and everything is the way it was intended to be.  A beautiful picture of this is given to us in Isaiah 6, where it states:

"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

But that's not all.  We are given a new life now.  Christians sometime refer to this as a "new birth" or to be spiritually "born again."  Through our faith in Jesus, God gives us His Spirit to guide us into restoration. The brokenness of our lives is being repaired bit by bit, piece by piece.  God starts working through us and in us to bring shalom back into the world, now.

And this is because for Jesus, being saved or reconciled to God is much bigger than just the saving of our physical body and soul, it involves every part of us.  God’s desire is for us to live in complete harmony with him, with others, the world He created, and with ourselves.  

 
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The Choice is Yours


EVERY ONE HAS FAITH.  WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE?

The Choice is Yours


EVERY ONE HAS FAITH.  WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE?

Everybody has faith. Everyone is following somebody.  We all choose what we believe and how we are going to live.  The real question is, what do you choose?  Who will you follow?  If you are interested in making a decision to follow Jesus, you don’t need to pray a special prayer or say any special words.  Remember the words Jesus said about prayer.

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.
— Jesus

Just be real.  Ask God to show you in what ways you have broken shalom with Him, and be willing to admit anything that is brought to mind.  You then need to decide if you believe the Story, that Jesus willingly took on the punishments we deserved for the  ways that we have abandoned God and broken wholeness with others; that He was raised from the dead to bring new life to you now and eternal life later.  

 

Below, we have provided links to a FREE Bible app for your phone, tablet or computer and a 31 day reading to get you started.  It's been said that it takes a month to develop a new habit.  Spending time reading and listening to God is a foundational habit for those who seek after Jesus.  For more helpful ways to develop your relationship with God, check out our RESOURCES page here.


If you choose to make a decision to follow Jesus and would like somebody to talk with, please fill out the form below.

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The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
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