Invite Me to be Close to You - Jesus
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Intimate, and still loved !

"Jesus is the one who knows the truth about who we really are. And he loves us anyway. And that quenches our thirst to be fully known and still fully loved. In this conversation Jesus talks about living water; the kind you only need to drink once. This woman says "Give me some of this water so that I don`t have to come to this well again". ''Maybe so that she doesn`t have to relive her shame every day by coming there alone.'' She says, "Give me some of this water." And then Jesus says this odd thing. He says, "Go call your husband." It is kind of an awkward transition, don`t you think? Give me some of this water. Go call your husband. It is a non sequitur. The answer does not follow from the question. Now as a former English teacher this bothers me a little bit. I have to admit if this was an essay I`d probably circle this in red and say something like, "Jesus your essay, though spiritually provacative, is marred by a series of awkward non sequiturs, B . That shows you what I know. In this non sequitur is all the truth of this passage. Because in turning the conversation to the six husbands Jesus turns her attention to that thing that she is most ashamed of; that thing she is trying to hide the most. And He is saying, "Do you want living water?" Living water means you have to tell the truth about who you are so that God can tell you the truth about his forgiveness. "

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Invite Me to be Close to You - Jesus
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Inviting Jesus into your work life

Sometime tomorrow, you`re going to get some work done. ... Many of us will do work, and we`ll look at a computer. Maybe you work in an office; maybe you go to school; maybe you work at home; maybe you`re paid for it; maybe you`re a volunteer. It doesn`t matter. All of us create value. That`s all that work is. From a Biblical perspective, that`s all that work is. It`s the creation of value, and all of us do that. So what would it look like if you were to work with Jesus?

First, work becomes something that you do together, because you were not meant to work on our own. That`s why it becomes so burdensome for us when we try to do it all by ourselves. Wherever you work tomorrow, take a moment before you start, when you sit down at your desk; invite Jesus to partner with you. Say, Jesus, I`d like You to work with me. Take a moment to ask Him to do that. When you have a tough problem, ask for His help!

When you have to make a decision and you`re not sure of what to do, ask for His wisdom. Then pause for a moment and assume that He really will speak to you. Put a symbol on your desk to remind you that you and Jesus are working together. It doesn`t have to be a religious looking symbol. One of the things that I do is that I have stones with words on them on my desk. One says "Joy." When I look at it, I say, "Oh yes."

Every few hours, when you are working, just pause. Look out the window, if you have one, or at something that brings beauty to you, and remember that God is at work in the whole world. Thank Him for His help and ask Him for energy. Work with Jesus¨you have to work anyhow¨when you get to the end of the day, rather than feeling defeated or inadequate or like "I didn`t get enough done, " or "I wasted too much time." In the Bible, when God is at work during the first week of Creation, there`s a kind of rhythm. It says that God speaks ''that`s how God works'' and it is so ''what God says happens'', and God sees what He has done and God sees that it is good.

So tomorrow, when you are finished working, whatever things didn`t get done,whatever you feel like you didn`t do the absolute best that could have been done,take a moment and look at what you have done together with God and say, "That`s good." Don`t walk away defeated. Say, Thanks, God. You gave me a mind and a body and energy and a will, and I was able to create value. I was able to do some things today. That`s good.

By: John Ortberg
Category: Invite Me to be Close to You - Jesus
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Jesus Invites Us All to be with Him

"-- Jesus doesn`t avoid the outsider, he goes out of his way to find them and invite them in. That is why religious folk of his day didn`t like Jesus. He ate with rich people who extorted money from their fellow Jews, he hung out with prostitutes, and worst of all he talked with non-religious people. Religious people hate it when you do that. That`s why they were always trying to kill him. Jesus turned all the social conventions inside out. The outsiders, like lepers and prostitutes, were brought in, and the insiders, the pious, religious folk were left out - not because Jesus didn`t love them, but because they didn`t like who he hung out with.

And that`s what Jesus invites us to do - turn our world and our church inside out. We do that in two ways:

1) Jesus calls us to invite the outsiders in. Jesus` church is meant to be open to everybody. Unfortunately it doesn`t seem that way to a lot of people who don`t go to church. If you were here last Monday during the Martin Luther King celebration, you will remember that our alarm went off in the middle of worship. Here we had all these guests from Mt. Calvary, we were talking about racial reconciliation and being together, and then the alarm goes off. And it`s a talking alarm - I didn`t know we had a talking alarm - and it said: "You have entered a secure area, please leave immediately." I thought, okay, as a metaphor, this isn`t good. "Get out of our church. Go. Get out!" Now, it was an accident, nobody`s to blame. In fact, I was grateful for it. I was thinking: "This is a perfect sermon illustration, thank you Jesus." And fair or unfair, true or not, for a lot of people that is the perception they have of the church -- if you`re not one of us, please leave immediately.

-- Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, and I kill the conversation by answering truthfully ''I mean really " I`m going to start saying I`m a lawyer - I think it would be better received'' invariably someone will say, "Church, if I came to church I`d get hit by lightning." I`ve even had people say, "I don`t have the right clothes to go to church." To which I can say, "at least you don`t have toothpaste on your shirt." Those answers break my heart. That image that the church is for moral insiders, people whose lives are spotless and put together and completely perfect, you know, just like yours are. That`s not the church. The church is not a museum to display the victorious life-style; it is a rehab ward for recovering sinners. And the church is not a country club for the socially connected; it is a community that is open to everybody. And the church is not a secret society complete with secret handshakes and secret rituals. Although again, if you have never been to church it might feel that way. Remember, most people in King County don`t go to church. I know a lot of people who have never been to church in their entire life, not once. When I taught college, I had a lot of students who didn`t know what Easter was. That`s how unfamiliar what we do is to some people. So you can imagine how strange it would be for someone to walk off the street into one of our four services. They would have lots of questions: "Why do these people stand and sing together?" That never happens in our culture, except at a baseball game. "Is this the seventh inning stretch? What`s going on?" And "Why does the pastor talk so much?" And "Why do they listen, or seem to?" "And after the sermon, `Why do they pass a basket around and charge money for this experience - it wasn`t that great." Now, none of those things are bad to do, they are just unfamiliar to some people and can make them feel like outsiders. That`s why Jesus wants us to be an inviting community that welcomes people with open arms, and you guys are so good at this. You guys do this better than I have ever seen it done before.

2) The real way we invite the outside in is if we, the insiders, go out. Most people have all kinds of stereotypes about who Jesus is: He`s mean, nasty, judgmental, boring, irrelevant. The only way those people are going to know him is if we hand deliver the invitation ourselves. The insiders have to go out and show who Jesus really is. That`s what Jesus is doing in this story. In the text it says that he had to pass through Samaria. Geographically speaking, that`s not true; there was another route around - and a pious Jew would have taken it to avoid contacting Samaritans. The real reason Jesus had to go through Samaria was to get to this woman - just like he had to come from Heaven to earth to get to you and me. Jesus went outside his comfort zone, outside the temple, outside his race and class, and outside his religion, to reach out to this woman who feels excluded from God`s community. And I believe that this woman was converted the minute Jesus said to her "give me a drink." Ostracized as a prostitute, six desperate tries to feel valued resulting only in a ruined reputation and a wrecked self-esteem, but finally somebody reaches out to her and treats her with dignity. And that changed everything for her. That is what Jesus calls us to do. We who are inside the church are called to go outside and show people who Jesus really is.

-- Jesus wants to turn us inside out. The outsiders need to be invited in. The best way to do that is if the insiders go out and serve. That`s how God got to us, right? He came to us in the person of Jesus. God Himself, the creator of all that is, the second person of the Trinity, how much more inside can you get? The trinity - that`s an inside club! He went outside of that, outside of the comforts of heaven, became the ultimate outsider for our sake, became poor and oppressed, to pul us inside God`s community.

-- That`s what the church is meant to do. This is the amazing vision that Jesus has for us. This gets me up in the morning. Jesus didn`t call the world to go to church; he called the church to go to the world and invite everybody in, and to show them that his church is not a museum to display the victorious lifestyle, it`s not a country club for the socially connected, and it`s not a secret society. His church is a home where everybody is welcome; a place where we are not all caught up with who`s in and who`s out, who`s good and who`s bad; a place where we are not posing and pretending and constantly highlighting our achievements; a place where we are not bound by our past or our brokenness or sins; a place where we treat each other as Jesus treats us: broken, yes; sinners, to be sure; but filled with potential. And we see what God saw when he sent his son to die for us, and we affirm that, and we give people hope, that in spite of our track records, in spite of what we`ve accomplished or haven`t, in spite of how muddy our shoes are from life`s journey, we are always welcome here.

By: Scott Dudley
Category: Invite Me to be Close to You - Jesus
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"Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me." ( Revelation 3:20)

"If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." ( John 7:37-38)

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." ( Matthew 11:28-30)

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him." ( John 14:21)

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