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Try or Train

basketball practice

Last Sunday we looked at Luke 6:39-49.

Before this section Jesus had been teaching on the opposite nature of the kingdom of God. You are blessed if you are poor, you should love your enemies, you should forgive and not condemn people. This kingdom is the opposite of the world and of our natural inclinations. So, how do we participate in this kingdom?

March Madness just ended. My Iowa State Cyclones were in it, but bowed out by losing their second game. I asked the assembled folks on Sunday, “What do you think Roy Williams or any good basketball coach would say if one of his young players came to him before the next season and said, ‘I’m going to really try and play better this year.'” We thought about it and decided he would say, “Show me everyday in practice. Don’t try, train.”

There is a lot of trying in my following of Jesus. I get an inclination of something he wants me to do or to change in my life and I think, I’m going to try and do that better. I think this is why Jesus overwhelms us with his description of the kingdom. You can’t try to be this radically different. It’s like trying to run a marathon. I can try really hard, but if I am not training, I am in trouble when it comes to race day.

Jesus says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Come to me, says Jesus, and let me train you. Then he follows this with three quick lessons on training:
– the plank in your eye. practice healthy self inspection and repentance
– the heart’s storehouse. store up good things in your heart and you will have good things to bring into your relationships
– the house built on the rock. listen to me and do what I tell you and you will build a life which will withstand storms

I can do this! Today I can spend time in self inspection. Today I can bring into my heart the truths of scripture. Today I can listen and do my best to follow his leading.

And the amazing thing is that, over time, as the days of training go by, I become more like the teacher.

This Sunday we continue in Luke as we look at the authority of Jesus in Luke 7:1-17.

Then, the next Sunday, April 16, is Easter! Who are you bringing with you for our special Easter worship and lunch?

Crossing Over

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

Last Sunday at Journey3 we talked about Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees. He was trying to help his closest theological tribe to cross over and relate to another wealthy, powerful tribe in Israel, the tax collectors.

He was not in this case talking about associating with poor people in order to help them.The Pharisees would be in agreement with him about that. Instead he was attending a “great banquet” with a “large crowd of tax collectors and others”, and this infuriated the Pharisees. Didn’t Jesus see how destructive and self-centered these tax collectors were? Jesus was associating with “those people”, the ones we despise, the ones who are ruining our country, the ones from the Red/Blue states. Jesus crosses over to make contact and to build relationships.

Sunday we watched a few minutes from a TED talk by Megan Phelps-Roper. Fred Phelps, pastor of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, is her grandfather. She grew up on the picket line and was passionately involved in her family’s church. But, gradually, as she debated with people on Twitter, some of them took the time to reach out to her and engage her in a unique way which ultimately built a bridge. She speaks about this sort of engagement in her talk.

I am so prone to getting this wrong. I start thinking I am called by God to get my life and my thinking right. I think I am supposed to shine for Jesus by being correct in my theology, my politics, and my character. What I hear Jesus saying is “Let me be the doctor.” He wants me to be free to be wrong, free to be a sinner. Then I am free to honestly build relationships with those who need someone to cross over.

In her talk, Phelps-Roper says that she realizes that some people don’t have the “time, the energy, and the patience for extensive engagements” which are necessary to crossing over. For those of us who have decided to follow Jesus, this sort of time, energy and patience are mandatory if we are going to be used by God to make a difference in others’ lives. This is what it means to love. And this is our calling.WP_20130606_010

Good News to the Poor

poor mother (2)

Why was Jesus born in a backwater village to an oppressed people in a damp, musty stable? Jesus announces his purpose by quoting the Jewish scriptures, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

This Christmas season at Journey3 we will focus on the coming of Jesus and what this means for the poor and the outcast. We meet Sundays, 11 am, at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard St.

The Journey

The Journey, Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting their bad
advice—though the whole house began to tremble and
you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations –
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little, as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized
as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper
and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do –
determined to save the only life you could save.

Tomorrow, 11 am, at Journey3, we discuss the wholeheartedness that is available to each of us. Join us! Journey3 meets at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard St.wholeheartedness, DeGroat

The Intuitive Mind

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a world that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein
Tomorrow at our Journey3 gathering we will think about the value of the intuitive mind. Come and join the discussion at 11 am. We meet at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard St.wholeheartedness, DeGroat

The Inner Critic

“The inner critic conspires to protect us from feeling shame, insecurity, and inadequacy. In fact, much of our busyness can be traced back to the constant frenetic energy we anxiously expend to keep ourselves from feeling shame.” Wholeheartedness, Chuck DeGroat
Tomorrow, October 2nd, at 11 am, we will be discussing the inner critic and how it hampers our search for wholeheartedness.
Journey3 meets at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard St.wholeheartedness, DeGroat (2)

Sunday, Sept. 18, 11 am, The Power of Vulnerability (a video event)


Brene’ Brown studies human connection—our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Viewing and discussion of Brene’ Brown’s influential video TED talk.                                               Journey3 is hosting this community event to be held at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard St, Portland, Sunday, September 18, 11 am. We will watch the 20 minute talk, The Power of Vulnerability, then discuss it over a light lunch.

Brené Brown Ph.D. is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brené is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Journey3: changing the world through friendship or find us on Facebook

Death and Taxes?


I think it was Benjamin Franklin who first said that the biggest certainties in life are death and taxes.  I would add to this list a third certainty, shame. Brene’ Brown, in her book, defines shame as the pervasive belief that we are not worthy of love and belonging. At the moment that Jesus died, two incredible things happened, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and many tombs around Jerusalem broke open and dead people came back to life. (Matthew 27:51-53) The curtain was the separation between us and God. It held us in our shame and prevented us from experiencing love and belonging. Jesus died so that death and shame would be forever broken. This Easter is the celebration of life, love and belonging! Please join us at 11 am as we celebrate the risen Lord.

(I’m still not sure what to do about taxes.)

Leading with Peace


In our Sunday gatherings we have been working through The Journey, the sending of the 72 by Jesus found in Luke 10:1-20. Last Sunday we came to verse 5, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.'” We learned that Jesus took this familiar greeting and filled it with power and mission. In John 20, on the evening of the first Easter Sunday, Jesus came into a locked, anxiety filled house and said, “Peace be with you!”. Then after showing them his crucifixion wounds he said it again, “Peace be with you!”

There is much to say about this greeting, but to be brief let’s simply see that Jesus makes this greeting actual. He brings peace to turmoil and anxiety. This is what you and I, as followers of Jesus, are commissioned to do. We are to lead with peace. I admit that often I choose to lead with other things. I lead with defensiveness, with the need to be right, with a good argument.

I am serving as a member of the board for AllOne Community Services. As part of my board role I am the coach and supervisor for Linda Jo who is the program director for the Community of Hope. COH is a ministry of the church of North Portland to serve homeless moms and their kids. We house them in Hope House which is a transitional residence. I have watched Linda Jo over the last several weeks as she walks into Hope House, which often is a house filled with drama and anxiety. Linda Jo leads with peace. I am amazed at her ability to meet complaint and shouting with a direct conversation, a lowered voice and a calm demeanor. She helps me to understand what Jesus means by leading with peace.

You and I are not rescued by God in order to live separately from the drama. We are called to enter houses (families, work places, neighborhoods, coffee shops) which need to experience God’s peace. Jesus says, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.'” How will God show me how I am to do this, this week?

This Sunday at 11 am, we continue in The Journey. We meet to bring peace to each other and to prepare to spread peace in our community.

Thursday Evening Meal for the Hungry
As always you are welcome to come and serve at this meal at Rivergate. We are blessed to be able to provide this meal in partnership with our dear friends at Rivergate Community Church. We do this every Thursday at 5:00. If you can help, please come early and we will let you in since the doors don’t open until 5:00.

This song is about the love of God which overwhelms any guilt or shame.

We love to talk about God’s love at Journey3! Please join us this Sunday at 11 am. We meet at Rivergate Church, 4737 N Lombard, in North Portland.