It's really strange when something that you take for granted completely poops out on you. This is essentially what happened to my computer earlier this week. My modem gave up the ghost, and I spent 4 days feeling cut off from the world. The truth is that it was probably a good thing to be cut off from the internet. It forced me to do some thinking that wasn't connected to a DSL cable.
So this past Friday I drove up to Lake Itasca in north-central Minnesota and walked across the Mississippi River. (You can do that there, because where the Mississippi begins is only about 6 ft. wide) It gave me a chance to see some nature and just clear my head. I seem to feel closer to God when I am surrounded by his creation. (Go figure) On the way up I re-listened to a bunch of podcasts on the Sermon on the Mount.
I realized on the way up something rather interesting. It was almost exactly a year ago that I first even bothered to download any podcasts of any kind Being a guy who isn't satisfied unless something is controversial, the first podcasts I subscribed to were from Mars Hill in Michigan, where one of my favorite heretics, Rob Bell, preaches. One of the first sermons I listened to was the beginning of their series on the Sermon on the Mount, and it was "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit." I can truly & honestly say that that sermon changed my life for ever. It made me cry my eyes out. I had never had anyone explain that verse like that to me before, and it absolutely blew me away.
If you are interested in their podcasts, click this link. http://marshill.org/teaching/podcast-info/
Then, earlier this past Spring, Imago Dei Community out in Portland began to teach through the Gospel of Matthew. Right now, they are piggy-backing on the Sermon on the Mount. So it's great to hear different perspectives on the same subject matter. Most of the teachings are pretty similar, but it is fun to listen to the different speaking styles and to the different bits & pieces that different speakers pick up on. (Plus, the fact of the matter is that Rick McKinley, the pastor at Imago, is just one very cool dude.)
If you are interested in Imago podcasts, click here. http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/imago-dei-community-sermons/id81910746?i=58153271
I have been itching to get back into teaching in almost any way, shape or form. This morning at Living Waters, one of the elders came up to ask me if I was still planning on teaching class. I have been talking about doing one on Matthew now for over a month. So now it would appear that I have no excuse other than to get off my sorry but and put it together.
The reason I picked Matthew is because of these podcasts I have been listening to for all of this past year. Jeez Louise, I could probably do half a years worth of sermons from all of the information these podcasts have pumped into me...and I think I would only put a third of the listeners to sleep, too.
But it struck me this morning how nervous I am abut doing any of this. I have no formal outline, per say. Nor do I have worksheets of any sort. My idea of a class is more of a discussion group. I have a big sketch book that I am filling up with notes and doodles. (Seriously folks. That IS how my brain processes info.) I would just like people to read and re-read an assigned passage or section everyday for a week, and put their thoughts down in a journal. Bring all of that to the Sunday School class, and lets just talk.
Needless to say, my teaching style is a little out of the box.
Anyway, I have noticed my nervousness increase through out the day. First off, I feel like a fraud. I mean, who am I to teach people anything, especially something this important? Also, what if I am dead wrong, or way off base? Worse then that, what if I am RIGHT, but their are some folks who think I am way off base?
Honestly, sometimes Christians have the most hostile & judgmental attitudes of anyone. That's what caused me to fall into rebellion all those many years ago. I love Jesus, but it still takes quite a bit of work for me to "Love" most people who call themselves Christians...at least in America. (Seriously, the American church is so messed up. You'll notice that pretty quick if you hang out with Believers in other countries.)
I know right now that their are folks at Living Waters that don't like a lot of the folks I listen to and read. What's going to happen the first time I quote Rob Bell or Shane Claiborne? Will they run to Pastor Scott and ask that I be burned at the stake? (Ummm, if you take a gander at church history, you will notice that people who call themselves Christians are pretty good at killing their fellow Believers in order to protect God...because God obviously needs as much help as he can get.) So, can I expect a bunch of flack like that?
Oddly enough, I kind of want there to be a bit of controversy. No fist fights. Just some honest, humble and serious minded searchers asking themselves and me, "Well, I never thought about it like that before. Have YOU ever thought about it like this?" Different perspectives are good. I think you get a richer and fuller picture that way. I also want Believers to understand it's OK to disagree as long as Jesus is kept in the center of it all. Without him, we have no common ground at all.
My main reason for wanting to teach on Matthew is because of the very importance that Jesus holds for all of humanity. I am more and more convinced every day that Jesus must be looked at fully. He is the ultimate revelation of God. Well heck, he IS God. Brennan Manning made the statement, "The question should no longer be asked, "Is Jesus god-like? But is God Jesus-like?"" And I agree 100% with that statement.
Jesus has been so warped in the minds of so many people. The Bible gets taken so out of context, and Jesus so distorted, that people walk away thinking that they know enough about him without actually studying that they might as well call themselves Hindus for all the good it does them.
The Sermon on the Mount is the center piece of what it is like to follow Jesus into his kingdom. I really want this class to wrestle with the painful, difficult, and amazingly hopeful words that Jesus speaks in this sermon. You could go for years just studying through that one sermon of his. It's incredibly confrontative, but it is also beautiful. I just don't want to muck it up.
Also, what if I try to teach this class and I just plain SUCK???
I don't know, I guess I'm just a lot more nervous then I thought I would be. Pray for me, please.
P.S. I found a couple of relatively new songs that I have been listening to at the gym recently. I figured I would put them up for any reader. As is par for the course, the videos are fairly lame. However, the tunes are great. Enjoy.