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I am currently speaking at a retreat this weekend for a college roomate’s College & 20-Somethings ministry called Avenue. Their theme for the weekend is “Pursuit.  I’ve been spending a lot of time dissecting the word pursuit, what scriptures says about it and what it looks like in our daily lives.

A fundamental belief I have added to my life is the simple fact that if we are not pursuing the things God pursues, then are we really seeking after Him to begin with?  We can talk about praying & worshipping & giving tithes all we want, but if those things don’t bring us to a place of action, then we’ve just gone through the motions like the people of Israel had done thousands of years ago.

The Apostles didn’t hang out in the upper room praying all day & worshipping all night, went home saying, “Man that was awesome! Can’t wait to do it again!” NO! They allowed their prayer & their worship to change who they were so that they could go out and impact the world they lived in.

Being on a church planting team I have been reminded again & again…it’s about the lost. It’s about investing in our communities & impacting our cultural surroundings (sounds like what Jesus did). But the simple fact remains, we care more about the plasma screen TV we just bought at Best Buy than we do about the saleperson that we spent 30 mins talking to about TVs that has real problems, real issues & a real life. More often than not we simply see people as tools to help us get what we want in life. Because no where in that 30 mins of discussion on televisions did God come up at all. And if we view people in this way…can we really say that we are pursuing God?

Knowing God changes us, or it should. So how can we say that we are actively seeking God when we don’t care about the things He cares about?  I have known people in my life who pursued God, encountered God, and are now sitting on the sidelines because they didn’t seem to care about the things God really cares about.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord & He will give you the desires of your heart.”  We often interpret that to mean, seek God & He’ll give you whatever you want!  The Hebrew word for “delight” means to be “soft & pliable.”  The word for “give” does not mean a gift of what we want, but it means to “place inside of.”  So this verse can be reworded to say, “Be soft & pliable in the Lord, and He will place inside of you the desires He wants there.”  Do you have your own desires that seem to be in conflict with what He desires?

Remember, as you pursue God, as you seek after Him, your pursuit must lead to action in the world, and that action must be put in your heart by God, and this can only be done when we are soft and pliable in His hands.

I spent some time the other morning meditating on the idea of “blessing.”  Take a moment and think about that word before you continue reading. Probably each one has their own opinion of what this concept means.  Probably, one of the initial thoughts you had went directly to money.

As Jaclyn & I experience Journey Church and what it takes to help build a church from the ground up, I have, again, begun to rethink many philosophical ideas the church has.  In our Western-American mindset, the first thing we think of in regard to blessing is, “more money.”  Often times when we think of “blessing” from God, we think of life being a bit easier.  But is that what it entails?  What if hard, difficult situations become a part of your life…are you blessed rather than cursed? Is a blessed life supposed to be an easy one?

Let’s be honest, we know that we can’t take material possessions with us after this life is over, but for some reason Christ-followers want nice material possessions as much as someone who isn’t a Christ-follower. Is it wrong to want nice things, no, I don’t believe that. But do we really need the things we say we want most?

People often think of more money, bigger houses, nicer cars, better toys, etc, etc, etc.  But…really?  Is that what it really means to be blessed?  In regard to material possessions, I’ve said & heard people say, “Well, I’ve been so blessed!”  But what if you don’t have those kinds of things?  What if you don’t have a nice car, a nice house, a fancy new electronic toy…what if you live in very poor conditions?  What if you have a car that barely makes it to work each day…but it still gets there?  Is that blessed? Can a poor farmer in Russia who barely feeds his family be considered “blessed” of God by “American” standards? I would say, unless we reshape our ideas of blessing, that man would not.

I’ve read in fiction & non-fiction books this same idea: “What human beings want the most usually will kill them or is what they need the least.”  Somehow we have equated success & nice-grandeur items with blessing.  I am reminded of a quote, that has become my life.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “I did not ask for success, I asked for wonder.”

I recall what James said, “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, b/c you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be maure and complete, not lacking anything.”  Perhaps a blessed life is not only a simple one, but one that we face trials in order to develop us to be who God wants us to be.  I believe that God cares more for our character, than for our possessions.

Take a moment to think about your life. Are you blessed…or are you “blessed?”

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