We began the Soul Revolution series at Gateway Church in Austin. Lead pastor of Gateway and author of the book Soul Revolution John Burke shared at the McNeil campus, and I spoke at the South Campus. Here are some of the ideas we shared:
“If you read the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, it’s clear that you and I were created to do life with God.
- In 2000 B.C., Abraham and Sarah are called friends of God because they trusted Him.
- In 1500 BC Moses declares the greatest command is “to love God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
- In 1000 BC. David writes psalm after psalm declaring how loving and good God is-so trust Him.
- Around 500 B.C. God says through the prophet Jeremiah, “I wanted spiritual children who would love and trust me and call me Father and not keep running away from me.”
- In 30 A.D., Jesus shows up teaching that God loves you and me so much, He entered our world to reveal Himself in a form we could relate to, and He demonstrated the extent of His love by giving everything he had to give so we would see and trust his love.
- In the last chapter of the last book of the Bible is a picture of eternity. God likens that day to His wedding—when those pledged to Him in love are finally united fully face to face-together with Him forever.
The Scriptures are also very clear that God doesn’t want us to wait for eternity to learn to do life with Him. We can start now! But how do you do life with a God you can’t see, hear, or touch? That’s what we’re going to discover over the next 60 days.
One time Jesus and probably 20 of his closest followers were at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Martha was busy trying to serve all these people. She was doing a good thing, but she was getting all frustrated, stressed and bitter because she was comparing herself to her sister. So she told Jesus, “Make Mary help! Fix her, change her!” Jesus said to Martha, [which He might say to most of us]: Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary. Luke 10:41-42
Only One Thing is Necessary? That would simplify life, wouldn’t it? Jesus could say this to most of us “You get worried and bothered and stressed out about so many things, stressed about finances, bothered by coworkers, upset and anxious about your boss, frustrated and impatient with our spouse or kids…so many things that worry and bother you…but only One Thing is necessary.” What was that One Thing that Martha’s sister was doing? She was listening—Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening…. Luke 10:39
See, the way we love God is by listening. To listen, we must Pay attention, Hear and Respond.
Jesus’ last words to us are important. He says:“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:9-12
The goal is a healthy relationship with God and others. All human problems are relational, so the solution is relational. Loving God means paying attention and remaining connected to His love, so he can lead us to love one another as we hear and respond. This re-orients our little self-consumed worlds and starts to flow a source of Life and joy from the inside out.
You were created for a relationship with God, but Jesus knew this very simple thing is precisely humanity’s problem. We don’t naturally do this so He gives a very concrete visual illustration of what’s central. On the way to Gethsemane, he picks up a branch, “look, A branch doesn’t work real hard to produce fruit, all it has to do is stay connected to the vine and fruit grows naturally. I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
You might say to yourself: “Now wait. I can do lots of things – build a business, humanitarian good, be a good father or mother. What Jesus is saying is that you can keep yourself incredibly busy “do-gooding” and miss the whole point of your existence – to live life moment by moment in relationship with God listening and responding to the One who Created you for Himself. He wants to guide you to truly love others according to His will and ways.
Instead of staying connected and letting Him bear fruit through us, we start tying apples on our branches to prove we’re good branches. We prove we’re good by trying harder, but there’s no life flowing to those apples. They’re going to rot! This is what produces judgmental, hypocritical, anxious, uptight, life-less, love-less Christians.
So what’s the answer? Stop trying to produce fruit and just focus on the One Thing Jesus said was necessary. Stay Connected, Fruit Happens. This is so freeing! We don’t have to jump through religious hoops or try harder to do this or stop doing that, we just focus on One Thing—Loving God by Staying Connected to the Source of Life and Love and Everything Good. When we do that, He produces the fruit naturally through us more and more.
Look how Paul explains it in Galatians: So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control…Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:16, 22-23
Who wouldn’t want that kind of life? That’s our soul’s deepest desire. It’s why we worry and stress and fret and strive. We keep thinking we have to work hard to one day feel loved, valued, purposeful, secure, at peace, and happy—yet these things never come from the outside in, they only come from the inside out. And only as we stay connected to the Source of Life.
Our problem is that we inherit a “sin nature”. We grow up in a world that naturally goes away from God and His will and ways. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 God doesn’t force His will on this earth—we must choose, but our habit is to go through the day thinking about how to get “My will be done, on earth and in Heaven—and if not, I’m gonna shake my little fist at God.” That’s what was happening to me, so I started doing what addicts have to do. I realized I have an addiction to self. I want life to go way (and I want everyone to cooperate, even God). In other words, I want to be God, but that’s not just my problem. It is our problem.
God’s given us all little kingdoms to rule (our bodies, our possessions, our areas of influence, or relationships), but they only work together in love when His Kingdom rules over all our little kingdoms. When my will is first submitted to His will. God doesn’t force His will on us. He lets us show our love for Him by being willing to do His will. As we stay connected, listening for his will, willing to respond, He starts to grow up within us the life our souls crave.[From John]: I started waking up each morning saying, “Okay God. You’re God, I’m not. Today I want to let go of that need, and instead I want to pay attention to what You’re doing. I want Your will done through me.” Then the one thing I focused on all day was trying to stay connected, in ongoing conversation, remembering His love and being willing to listen and respond each moment of the day. What I found was, I needed lots of reminders cause I’d get busy, worried, stressed and forget to even ask God what His will might be in that situation. Over that next year, I got better at it, and I was amazed at what started to happen in me. I developed an ability to experience the moments of life with my kids and wife, enjoying them and being present with them. I lost a lot of worry about what people think of me, cause I was experiencing being loved by God, and I’d have this joy—an unexplainable joy come out of nowhere. I begn asking God one day, How can I help our church experience this? I had the idea of the 60:60. 60 days to form a new habit—a habit of staying connected instead of ignoring God most of the day.
What’s great about the book Soul Revolution is that it helps us really see how this works, it’s not just praying every 60 minutes, it’s a perspective shift. The end of each chapter will guide you to make this shift. You’ll need a watch or cell phone that will beep every 60 minutes. Here’s the point, the beep interrupts our habit of ignoring God, the Source of Life. We’re learning how to stay connected to the One who Loves us most and wants to Do Life With Us.
The goal is not perfection, the goal is progress—to get better and better at moment by moment connection to God’s Spirit. Hear this if you hear nothing else—I’ve been practicing this for over a decade, and I still fail more than I get it right, which is exactly why Jesus came. “There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
God created you, knows you, loves you, is for you not against you, knows more about you than you know about yourself, knows what he created you for, how you’re deepest longings will be met, and reality is–He’s sustaining your very life—your every heartbeat. As Paul explained to the Athenians who mistakenly worshipped idols, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.” Acts 17:27-28
LOVE GOD = Paying Attention. Some of us are reluctant to try this because we don’t trust God.
Notice what Jesus revealed the Real God to be like, and then go read John 13-17 for yourself, ask “If God’s really like this—why wouldn’t I want to devote 60 days to learning to Do Life with Him?:
- The Creator is a lover (13:1, 16:26). There’s no one in the Universe who loves you more.
- He has authority over everything (13:3)
- The Creator is humble (13:5).
- The Creator is a servant (13:5)
- The Creator is a Comforter, a Helper, a Counselor who will never leave us (14:16-17)
- God teaches us what’s true and good (14:26) God gives peace of mind and takes away our troubles and our fears (14:27)
- God produces His Joy in us. (15:9-11)
- The Creator wants to be your friend (15:15)
- Even in our trials and sorrows, He is with us and will overcome it (16:33)
Why wouldn’t you want to do life with a God like that? Even if you’re not sure what you believe. For 60 days, commit as much of yourself as you understand to as much of God as you understand, and see what He does.”
To watch or listen to the entire message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.