Freshwind Christian Fellowship

Following Jesus Together

Archive for the category “Fresh Wind Discussions”

Musing on Money

I have been thinking a lot about what to do with my tithe money now that Freshwind is shutting down our bank account. Maria said she was considering tithing to Abbotsford Community Services, and that set off all the gears in my brain. Community Services is doing Jesus stuff, whether they recognize it as that or not. What if we all started supporting groups doing Jesus stuff, regardless of whether or not there is a fish on their bumper? What would change in our town?

Then I started looking at all the church buildings in town and the huge sums of money they represent. What if Christians in general stopped investing in buildings and started putting that money in to affordable housing, clean water, poverty reduction, mental health care, drug and alcohol rehab, youth care workers, opportunities for women… How many huge world problems could we solve?

And what if we stopped worrying if God got the credit or not? What if we considered clean water funded by our taxes as just as good as clean water funded by a Christian charity? How would our view of God change? What if we stopped worrying if we got the credit or not and just gave generously, with or without tax receipts or recognition? What would change in us?

So I encourage you to make this a listening prayer exercise. Jesus, where would you have me send the money I used to give to Freshwind? Let’s see where this goes!

Cooperative Reconstruction

I found this in a meditation by Richard Rohr this morning and I think it beautifully captures what we are asking God to do, and what we are saying we are willing to participate in as we tackle our hot button topics.

When the scriptures are used maturely, and they become a precursor to meeting the Christ, the proceed in this order:

  1. They confront us with a bigger picture than we are used to, “God’s kingdom” that has the potential to “deconstruct” our false world views.
  2. They then have the power to convert us to an alternative worldview by proclamation, grace and the sheer attraction of the good, the true and the beautiful (not by shame, guilt or fear which are low-level motivations).
  3. They then console us and bring deep healing as they “reconstruct” us in a new place with a new mind and heart.
Rohr, Richard Preparing for Christmas, Franciscan Media, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2008. p85, emphasis in original

This Sunday is Soup Sunday. Please come prepared to share what you did this week to begin this refining process, and how it went. Some suggestions were:

  • Sit down with Jesus and work through any blocks he brought up, talk about the gifts he has for you in this, or work through any fear this triggers.
  • Choose something that pushes your buttons and learn more about it.
  • Practice asking someone what they think about something where you know you disagree and listening without arguing. (“How do you like your coffee?” is legit)

I am excited to be growing together. See you Sunday,

Nicole

Crayon Love

Listening Prayer 101

by Nicole Giesbrecht

When many of us were taught to pray, myself included, it was kind of like leaving a message on God’s answering machine. We dialed up God, told him our list of requests, and said “amen” to hang up. It wasn’t overly satisfying, but it didn’t seem that there was another option.

In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd. We can get caught up in the imagery of shepherd and sheep and miss some very revolutionary statements Jesus made there.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” – John 10:3-5 NIV, emphasis added

Jesus has a voice! And we can hear it! Not only that, but we can recognize the difference between Jesus’ voice and other voices that might try to speak to us. This is really good news!

When we realize that we can listen to Jesus in prayer instead of just talking and hanging up, that opens the door to conversations and a growing relationship with our God. This is what we call listening prayer.

So how do we hear God? Recognizing God’s voice takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it you will hear God everywhere. You probably already hear God in some of the following ways:

  • A song played at just the right time
  • A trusted friend who says something you needed to hear
  • An inspiring sight in nature
  • A Bible passage that jumps out at you
  • A teacher you hear or read that addresses exactly where you are at

There are many others and these are all legitimate. But to take us further, God gave us a very special gift: our imagination.

Our imagination is like a screen that pictures can be projected on. We can put pictures there, things we watch and listen to can show up there, and the devil can try to project things. But the best use of an imagination is as a meeting place with Jesus.

Try this: think of a place where you would like to meet with Jesus. Now ask Jesus where he would like to meet with you. Go with the first thought that comes after you ask because that is usually Jesus slipping something in before our brains have time to dismiss it. Did the picture change from one to the other?

Then start asking questions and paying attention to the first though that comes to your mind or the first change in the picture. Here are some useful questions to get you going:

  • Why did you pick this meeting place, Jesus?
  • If you had a gift for me today, what would it be? Why?
  • What game would you like to play with me today? Why?
  • What do you see when you look at me?
  • What do you like about me?
  • What is on your heart today, Jesus?

Often the answers Jesus gives prompt new questions from us. Follow that! Now you’re having a conversation!

Sometimes people are afraid that they will be deceived by the devil talking to them and pretending to be Jesus. Remember that Jesus said that his sheep recognize his voice and will not follow a stranger’s voice. Here are some ways to be sure that the voice you are hearing actually belongs to Jesus:

  • Does the message match with the character of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels? Think fruit of the spirit here. If what you are hearing has love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, it’s a good bet that it’s Jesus. On the other hand, Satan has none of those fruit. Someone who has no love or patience is not going to be able to pretend to be loving or patient for very long. Condemnation, guilt, shame, anger and hatred are good hints that this is not Jesus.
  • Does your gut tell you it’s Jesus? We have the Holy Spirit in us and we know Jesus’ voice. Your feelings will often tell you if this is Jesus or if something is off.
  • Do other Christians agree with the message? Other people who hear God can help you check what you are hearing.
  • When in doubt, ask. Jesus is not going to let another voice speak when you are asking him to and not say anything about it. I sometimes say something like “Jesus, real Jesus, Son of God who died and rose again on the third day, is the only one allowed to speak right now”.

The more you practice, the easier it gets to hear Jesus and the deeper your relationship can go. At the risk of going all Christianese, hallelujah! this is amazing!

If you want to read more about this, I recommend the book “Can You Hear Me?” by Brad Jersak, available at bradjersak.com

Please share your questions or your experiences with listening prayer in the comments. Cheers to chatting with the God of the Universe!

 

In or out, of or not?

by Nicole Giesbrecht

I have been thinking lately about Jesus’ direction to be in the world but not of it.

I think in or out is referring to whether or not we are connected to what is going on around us and invested in the good of our world. Whether or not we are of the world, I think, is talking about what we do to achieve our goals.

This leads to four possible combinations.

We can be in the world and of it, meaning that we are connected to the world around us and willing to do whatever it takes to get what we want. This includes hoarding money and power, using violence and convincing through fear. The goals of a person here may be awful or they may be good, but the means they use to achieve them will end up hurting people.

We can be neither in the world, nor of it. This is a tempting place to go as a Christian. We can mistake the church for the kingdom and become very focused on achieving church goals, leaving us disconnected and irrelevant to the people around us. Our techniques can be very good: love, joy, patience, forgiveness and so on, but we will not make much of a difference to anyone outside the church.

We can be of the world but not in it. I think this is the scariest possibility, and another one that is tempting for Christians. Disconnected from our world and confusing the church and the kingdom, we try to achieve church goals using world techniques. Evangelism through fear is a very common example. This leads to spiritual abuse in many different directions.

And then there is the option Jesus pointed to: be in the world but not of it. Be connected to your world and work for its good, but only use Jesus techniques. That’s hard, but that is how God changes the world.

The bad news is that none of us quite make it. The great news is that in and out, of or not are not on/off switches. They are endpoints on a continuum, axes on a graph, and the four combinations are just the corners. That leaves lots of room in the middle, which pretty quickly kills categorizing other people or ourselves. Seeing where you are at is important, but not nearly as important as knowing which direction you are heading.CaptureListening Questions:

Jesus, what is your heart for my world? How would you like to connect me more to my world? What Jesus technique would you like to grow in me?

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