Introduction

Sunday, November 7th, 2010 | Art of Breathing

For those who want to know more about what is inside the book, here is the introduction:

While following Jesus and abiding in Him go together, they are not the same thing. Following focuses on action, like obedience and service. Abiding emphasizes resting, remaining, living within. As we grow in Christ, we begin by following Him, just like His disciples. When Jesus called the Twelve, He bid them to follow Him. But as His ministry on earth began to draw to an end, He asked them to abide in Him like a branch abides in a vine. He asks us to do the same. We follow Him, but then we must grow to a place of abiding. The way we train children in the lessons of right and wrong, following Christ teaches us the basics of how we function in our Christian walk. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” and we focus on obedience to His word. But at some point we must move from milk to meat. We must allow obedience to flow from something rather than depend on it to get us to something.

I have never met anyone who feels they have too much joy or peace.

Does fruit come from striving or abiding? Does a branch strive to produce fruit or does it come from a healthy connection to the vine? Can we really have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control by trying harder? If so, wouldn’t we have already tried by now?

So what about the church-attending evangelical who just can’t seem to find the abundance part of the abundant life? What about the man in Sunday school class whose marriage is falling apart, who tithes and takes communion, but believes the Bible does not work for him they way it seems to be working for others? Or the Christian who can’t forgive herself for the past and is trying desperately to find the right “formula” to win God’s favor. In her head, of course, she knows this is not the truth. But her heart’s experience won’t allow her to live according to what her head knows. She feels trapped and, therefore, she goes through the motions of church and faith but her heart still feels broken. It is God’s desire to reach them with the depth of the Gospel and see their hearts transformed, even if their circumstances never change.

Life on this side of Eden is not what we hoped for. It is not what we were made for. Something is missing. As we abide in Christ, we offer Him our hearts. He, in turn, offers His heart. We point to Him. He points to us. We give Him our pain. He heals and restores us to wholeness. We give our sin. He gives His forgiveness. We give our lives. He gives His life. We breathe out ourselves and inhale His presence, a fluid motion of abiding. This is the abundant life. This is the art of breathing.

  This book is divided into four sections: Naming, Owning, Surrendering, and Living. This project began as a fairytale that I have included as the preface. Questions at the end of each chapter are there to help you go deeper and can be used as a guide for journaling or for small group discussion.

As you engage in this journey, I pray you will encounter the depth of the Good News and the abundance of life that has been offered to you. God speed on your journey.

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