Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 37

Moses called out to the Israelites from Mount Sinai to tell them that they were no longer slaves. . . . They were now a free people, under the sovereignty of an unequaled God. They needed to stop subsisting like slaves—driven by immediate circumstances, indulging themselves in little vices and petty disputes, hoarding whatever power and privilege they could scrape together, looking out for number one under the assumption that nobody else was going to—and start enjoying the privileges and embracing the responsibilities of life in the kingdom of God.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 36

The sprawl and the smog of Me-Ville effectively shrouds God’s sovereignty over his creation, and so we don’t start to pick up on it until we get outside the city limits. And the full disclosure of God’s reign is still off in the horizon. Between here and there—between now, when we live aware of God’s kingdom and learn to reconcile ourselves to it, and that day when we will find that we’ve been here all along, encircled by God’s grace, transformed by his goodness—by faith we walk, and walk, and walk.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 35

ESCAPE FROM SUPERBIA

Consider your existing relationships and think of who is most likely to hang with you even when you’re being unlikeable, even when you’re disclosing the darkest parts of yourself. What would it take to consecrate that relationship so that you can help one another interpret your stories, expose your self-delusions, recalibrate your universe so that Christ is still in the center?

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day of Rest

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
--Zechariah 9:9-10

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 34

The prophet Isaiah, the apostle Paul, the reformer Martin Luther, and countless other followers of Jesus down through the ages have hit that crisis point, questioning our ethical impulses, only to be reassured yet again that we are loved by God regardless of our patterns and quirks, that in Jesus Christ, God is pro-me—and in the words of Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 33

[The apostle] John recognized the danger of invidious comparison, the threat to our spiritual well-being that comes when we shove Jesus out of the center in order to get a better look at our friends, relatives, and, above all, rivals—to size them up, to ascertain what they have that we don’t and what we have that they don’t. To thus shove Jesus from his rightful place in relation to us is to dis-integrate what God has brought together; the logical conclusion of this kind of dis-integration is a more deeply entrenched sense of superbia than we earlier escaped.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 32

We’re not ordered to create a community of God, we’re rather invited into one. As such, we’re not responsible to come up with a way of working together, although we are responsible to one another. . . .

We learn how this new community operates, not by trial and error, but by observation and emulation; we allow Jesus to stand between us, interpreting our behaviors and identifying our motivations for each other.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 31

The desire for security in the face of a sudden insecurity is overwhelming sometimes, causing us to disregard even the commands of God or the rule of common sense in order to grasp onto something concrete, something immediate, some surrogate for what we suddenly lack.

The church, carrying as it does the title “Body of Christ,” very logically provides that surrogacy for a lot of people . . . right?

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 30

I, an individual, am chosen by God as part of a people, ordained by God as part of a royal priesthood, consecrated by God as part of a nation. This is a marked contrast to the kingdom we’ve left, where every home is some person’s castle, walled off from one another. In Me-Ville we could hardly be called a people, but outside its walls, en route to the kingdom of God, we find ourselves collected into the people of God.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 29

We realize soon enough upon our departure from Me-Ville that more than one set of footprints track through the sand; Jesus is not plucking us individually out of trouble but gathering together a people for himself, establishing a kingdom that will reign forever and teaching us how to inhabit that kingdom as a community of faith.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day of Rest

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
--1 John 3:1

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 28

ESCAPE FROM SUPERBIA

Before you leave for church—whether a worship service or a bake sale or a committee meeting or, if your church is a group of people who all live together, your living room—ask Jesus to stand between you and everybody else. Observe the event not as a generic visitor or as a semiconscious attendee or even as a worshiper in the throes of spiritual passion; observe the event through the eyes of Jesus, who died for this church but holds authority over it as its Lord.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 27

Religion is . . . a pretty tempting crutch when you’ve been untethered from the props of superbia. Outside observers of Christian faith—people whose primary residence is still in Me-Ville—are not surprisingly unconscious of the various institutions and practices that serve as crutches for them. But upon leaving Me-Ville you no longer have ready access to such props. Meanwhile, you’ve entered into a culture within the larger culture, and you’re tempted to use that culture in the way all manufactured cultures get used: to support the self, to prop up your ego, to indulge your self-regard.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 26

God knows that what we are at any given moment is only at best a foreshadowing of what we’re becoming. He knows that we’re always vulnerable to a sense of superbia that allows us to think that wherever we’ve come to rest our head at any given moment simply must be where we were meant forever to be. In those moments we need to be rescued from ourselves, delivered from our self-constructed prisons.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 25

Christianity is like everything else in that over time its scripts have been written and memorized without our even being conscious of it. We’re conscious instead of one another, and because we’ve inherited not only the scripts of our religion but also the scripts of our culture we look for ways of distinguishing ourselves from one another, of being “holier than thou” or “more relevant than thee”—whatever we’re more capable of pulling off.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 24

Taken at their most simple, the Beatitudes are a progression: a point of realization that leads us to relinquishment that turns us toward God and refashions our understanding of the world around us, to the point where the world around us is threatened by our simply being our new selves. These are not status-seeking disciplines so much as they are the outward impact of a very personal, intimate reckoning with God. God isn’t establishing us as some special category of super-Christian here; he’s simply leading us out of Me-Ville, and the world is alternately enticed and threatened simply by watching us go.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 23

Jesus reveals to us over time, that our devotional life is a matter between us and him, not us and us or even me and myself. So profound a spiritual giant as the monk Thomas Merton puts our devotional life in its proper place in a single sentence: “It is not important to live for contemplation, but for God.” So whether we’re judging ourselves against the practices of others or judging others by how we operate, we are displacing Jesus from the center and replacing him with someone or something that can’t bear the weight and hasn’t earned the spot.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 22

We’ll continue to feel insecure while we abide in a world that has not entirely escaped its superbia. We’ll continue to feel insecure when we’re tempted to manufacture or shore up a reputation for ourselves, or to adhere to some social standard being imposed on us. We’ll continue to feel insecure for as long as we’ve taken steps out of Me-Ville but still have it in our sights.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 21

We’re safe here on the road [leading out of Me-Ville], we just don’t realize it yet. That’s because we’ve become used to operating as we’ve been taught by the world. We need to be brought, in some cases dragged, into a new understanding of who we are and how we were meant to operate.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 20

ESCAPE FROM SUPERBIA

Pick a psalm, one that’s familiar but not too familiar, and pray your way through it. Pay attention to your spirit as you go: note which lines are particularly resonant with you, and which lines seem curiously irrelevant or downright troubling. I suggest beginning with Psalm 40. . . .

Read through the psalm, considering the possibility that by doing so you’re reading through someone else’s prayer journal. Consider the intimacy of the relationship between the psalmist and the God he writes to; reflect on a similar moment of intimacy between you and God.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 19

In the psalms we find people lashing out against God, people praying for their own death, people calling down violence against children. In the psalms we find people bragging and whining and arguing and bargaining with God. We find all kinds of people being all kinds of people, and we find God in the center of their thoughts.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 18

Between the law and its fulfillment, between us and God, between us and each other, between our fear of God as Judge and our trust in God as Deliverer, even ultimately between who we think we are and who we were born to become—Jesus steps into that gulf because he is for us enough to bear the weight that we can’t bear ourselves. In so doing he displaces us to become the center of everything about us, which is his rightful place.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 17

While we’re comforted by the fact that the invisible God has become present to us—we’re assured that he’s there—we’re also subjected to his judgment. He looks at the things we’ve amassed for ourselves, the empire of relationships, achievements, and status we’ve built for ourselves, and asks us what good it all is. We feel ourselves judged by Jesus because we ourselves are learning to judge ourselves. It’s a re-creation of the initial act of creation—Jesus honors us by helping us to name what we observe, calling it good or, more often perhaps, not good.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day of Rest

In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
--Exodus 15:13

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 16

I can check Wikipedia to get a rough idea of when and how to change the oil in my car, and from there I can, according to the spirit of the times, “fake it till I make it.” But there are all kinds of life experiences and life choices for which a culture of self-sufficiency becomes not a privilege but a prison.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 15

Displacement isn’t a bad thing; it’s a necessary element of any journey. If we want to get anywhere we aren’t, we can count on being displaced. The key is to plan for it. We can do some planning on our own—we can google our destination and download driving directions; we can flip through our address book and figure out if anyone we know lives anywhere near where we’re going. But the best plan for displacement is to trust ourselves to a trustworthy guide.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 14

ESCAPE FROM SUPERBIA

Take a prayer drive through your community. What cultural messages do you observe as you go? In what ways are the billboards, stores, and status symbols of your community reinforcing the notion of entitlement? How do they promote self-absorption? What does your community need to be delivered from? What tables in your community would Jesus upend? What pharaohs would he confront with the message “Let my people go”? Which of these would your community have the most trouble leaving behind?

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 13

Ultimately, when we strip away all the airs that we’ve put on, our true friends are those we are for and who are for us. When we understand that God is for us, when we realize that Jesus is pro-me, a knock at the door doesn’t lose the sting of potential judgment and likely change, but it does lose the sting of an attack from the unfamiliar. We lead through the rooms of our refuge not an awkward stranger but the lover of our souls, who was present when we were formed in secret. We learn from Jesus where our public persona doesn’t measure up with what he (and we) know to be true of ourselves. And he offers us a way into a life that is freer, truer.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 12

Jesus is fully God, but by his incarnation he is also fully human—the image of that effectively invisible God. He has become in flesh what we’ve read of God in the pages of the Bible: a friend of sinners, a deliverer from all kinds of evil, and a teacher thoroughly invested in our well-being. Jesus is in fact so pro-me that he in effect becomes me.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Lenten Readings from Me-Ville: Day 11

In the movie Office Space, one of hundreds of anonymous workers is singled out as management material after being inadvertently hypnotized to not care about anyone or anything but his own sense of inner peace. The movie has proven successful because the concept is so familiar: When we figure out how to work the system, and all the people in it, we are rewarded with more substantial titles and more office space. A happy side effect of the turn inward is that the annals of power are reduced in our minds to an abstraction, some far-off other watching us only from a distance, which we consequently don’t have to deal with.

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Copyright 2008 Cook Communications Ministries. Deliver Us From Me-Ville by Dave Zimmerman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.