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“Do you love me?”

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A QUESTION: Simple and pure

“Simon, son of John [Peter], do you love me?”

This question in John 21 is straightforward. Simple. Pure. But honestly, this question haunts me.

Jesus asks Peter this question three times. Without doubt taking Peter back to the last time he was around a charcoal fire, slowly but surely denying association with Jesus.

Three chances to answer the question. Coinciding with, and redeeming, his three betrayals from before.

I’m amazed at how Jesus does not use guilt. He doesn’t rehash those moments, dragging Peter through the mud. He doesn’t drive home how hurtful the denials were. He doesn’t assume future behavior based on past mistakes.

I often assume that God wants me to feel the guilt and weight of my shame before I understand forgiveness. To reap the consequences of my actions. In other words, the pain of regret should at least equal, and precede, the joy of reconciliation.

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How do we follow Jesus?

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What does it look like to follow Jesus today? Right now.

The original gang: Rugged and unruly fisherman. Zealots, longing for Jewish redemption. A lowly tax-collector. A self-seeking treasurer and others.

Twelve are highlighted, and many more joined. They all responded to a simple call: “Follow me.”

But following Jesus was not a one-time decision. It was a daily exercise of listening, observing, and learning. With more profound moments of deciding if they were going to continue (John 6:60-70).

The disciples had the seemingly overwhelming advantage of tangibly hearing Jesus’ voice, while watching him back it up with actions. He didn’t give them a textbook, ask them to study it, and then figure out how best to follow Him. He guided them with profound teaching, loving instruction, and the occasional rebuke.

Would you rather…Holy Spirit or Jesus?
And then we come across this crazy passage:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

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Fear of Misunderstanding

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“Too long.” “Too thorough.” “Sleep-inducing.”

At least I can rely on consistent feedback.

With every writing endeavor, my first draft is double the ideal length. I spend the bulk of my time getting rid of extraneous verbiage. And that opportunity is a gift I do not receive when I inadvertently take over a conversation with one of my detailed stories.

My goal is to finish a story, paper, email, presentation, or answer to collective smiles and nods. No clarifying questions asked. All bases were covered in a way that nobody would ever desire.

The reason for my exhaustive explanations? I have a fear of being misunderstood.

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Another Yellow Light?

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We all have our path of most resistance when we are running late.

For some, it is an eight-lane freeway, longing for eight more, funneling thousands of spiraling people towards the same exit ramp. For others, it’s the spacious 25 mph section, the speed “hills” within a parking lot, or the annoyingly relaxed pedestrian strolling across the street at the worst possible time. Or maybe it is jumping onto a train as the doors are closing, preparing for a track-star sprint upon arrival at the final destination.

My route is littered with traffic lights every half mile, perfectly mistimed to create a direct path towards insanity. I often daydream of sitting down with the south Denver traffic department to present my brilliant plan of traffic light sensors, seemingly utilized in every city except ours.

I often convince myself that the traffic lights are the problem behind my frantic, swearing-under-my-breath, daily race to my destination. But ironically, the maddening traffic lights are incredibly consistent and predictable. Almost as if I could plan accordingly.

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What was that?!

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You hear it. You feel it. You hear and feel it.

The vibration in your pocket, the ding in your purse, the rattling on the counter…. your phone erupts and your mind is gone.

It may just be for a second, but often that second commandeers more.

You start to wonder why your phone spit out a notification alert. It’s most likely unimportant, but what if a family member is calling from a burning building? Or your pet dog is being held for ransom? Or someone just posted an opinion on social media that has a slightly different twist than the other 73 articles you read?

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I had no clue

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I had no clue.

When I joined Theodyssey two years ago, and the curtain was pulled back, I was hit with a mixture of awe and bewilderment, respect and doubt.

The funding plan was puzzling. An approach built upon values we dream about, but rarely apply. I doubt any business, communications, or development consultant would put their name on it. Would I?

It would take time.

My “smile and nod” approach (with some hidden eye-rolls) slowly turned into a belief that we might be onto something. Something that looked and felt like Kingdom. Read More

Do you read the Bible?

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The Bible can elicit a wide range of emotions, from joy to anger to boredom. It leaves an impression.

If this book is inspired by God, it matters! Just the possibility of inspiration often creates desire for exploration. To pick it up and start reading. Yet the idea of “reading the Bible” can mean something different for each person.

There are various approaches and unique seasons. I have navigated most of them in my journey, noticing the value in each step. If you are tired of reading the Bible, is it possible your approach does not match the season?

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Three Glimpses

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“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

-A.W. Tozer

Almost all of our Nine-Month groups have wrapped up for the year, and we are celebrating the stories of transformation. Each individual has a different journey with unique breakthroughs. Yet one of the common themes through most stories is their view of God.

One of our groups had each member draw two pictures representing their relationship with God. They drew the first one at the beginning of the journey, without knowing the exercise would be repeated. The second picture came at the very end of the group. Here are three examples of how our view of God can shift throughout the Theodyssey experience!

Journey #1

His journey with God felt like stumbling in the darkness. God provided him with a flashlight, giving him just enough light to see the next step. Not a lot of hope or intimacy involved in the journey, but a God who provided just the minimum to survive.

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Fighting for the Middle

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Most people agree that we find ourselves in a unique time. There is anxiety and fear, loud thoughts and views, and pressure to pick a “side”. How do we anchor ourselves in tumultuous times?

I have been spending some time in a passage that feels too familiar. I memorized Phil. 4:4-8 in college, and go back to it often. But sometimes, familiarity causes the impact to diminish. The power and beauty of the passage becomes normalized.

I have been using the lexicon on Biblehub (a tool more simple than most realize) to bring out the fullness and complexity of the original language.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Read More

Fruit does not always taste good

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The Nine-Month Journey has been the heart of Theodyssey for over a decade. Thousands of people have sacrificially created space in their lives for the hope of experiencing more of Jesus. The process takes incredible courage. Similar to the Israelites longing for the “known” of slavery in Egypt as they ventured towards the promised land, we often miss the comfort of “what has always been.” A deep desire for more is the only catalyst that can push us through, allowing us to cling to what is on the other side.

We always have a retreat midway through the Nine-Month journey. It is a time to get away from the demands of our lives for a weekend, dedicating time to examine and explore within community. For many, it is when things get real.

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