6. Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis

Carl is a pleasure to read. He is disarming and the antithesis of pedantic (not trying to be pedantic myself by using a big word, but I needed to use it for contrast). From my own experience, I agree that it is more important to talk about Jesus and not RELIGION! Jesus breaks down the walls of religion and is so worth talking about!
If you don't feel like you have to evangelize someone away from their team and onto yours, you can speak of Jesus much more freely, and thus, more effectively. (p. 103)
I split my gut in laughter over some of his examples and analogies (good thing I had a private room while I read it in the middle of the night at the pastor's prayer summit).

Carl's emphasis on open dialogue and RELATIONSHIP with ALL people, as opposed to an "us/them" mentality is refreshing. I love it. 

The Western church is attempting to legislate morality in order to maintain a society that is pure, safe, and peaceful. Which, in and of itself, is not a bad desire. 
But when injured, we change. Under fire from a hostile and misunderstanding world, we grow defensive, begin challenging and targeting different opposition groups, demolishing the characters and teachings of individuals through media outlets, pamphlets, and even sermons. 
It becomes difficult to "love the sinner, hate the sin" when we hole up in a defensive posture. I think it's a huge mistake to turn morality into a politically, legally enforced code, because doing so creates more division and defensive posturing.  (p.170-71)
There are a whole lot of great things here. His biggest suggestion is to get to know Jesus more intimately by reading the Gospels. Here is a challenge for 2014 from his blog:
. . . there’s one really great way to get to know Jesus. Read the four gospels though four times this year. And here’s how I’d suggest you do that: 
1. Read them through like you’d read a novel. Just read them. A chapter or five at a time. However much time you have in a sitting – just read till you can’t read any more. There are 89 chapters in the four books so if you average three chapters a day, you can read all four in a month. But let’s say you’re slow (like me) and you read all four books in two months. Don’t take notes. Read thoughtfully and prayerfully, but just read. 
2. Now…start over in Matthew 1. This time read them all the way through again, but look for all the times Jesus interacts with people. Make notes in a notebook or on your computer. Note how he interacted with outsiders (that would be women and children. Lepers. Demoniacs. Samaritans. Etc). Take note of each of his encounters and start drawing some conclusions. This might take you three or four months. 
3. Go back through them a third time and study all of his teaching sections. It’s helpful to have a red lettered bible for this – just makes it easier. Notice his big chunks of teaching like the Sermon on the Mount and the times towards the end of Matthew and the end of John. Read them carefully and reflect on them. Then notice the parables. About 42 of them. Learn them. Memorize them. They are the means by which God chose to communicate with the world. Must be important! 
4. Finally, start to make comparisons with yourself and Jesus. Do you believe what Jesus believed? What DID he believe? Do you talk like him? Do you not answer questions the way he didn’t answer them? Do you tell a good story? Do you think and react like him? Do you spend time with a few the way he did? Be honest. Involve some friends in this quest. 
The point is – for 2014 – do you have a plan to become more like Jesus? And if not…this one might do for a start. 
- See more at: http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/2014/01/my-new-year-resolution-for-you/#sthash.aS8e2PC0.dpuf

My Kingdom community is already reading through Matthew twice, and Luke and John once between now and March 9th. After that, we are focusing more on specific stories Jesus told: two debtors, prodigal's son, Samaritan woman, love your enemies, healing of the paralytic, adulterous woman, tax collector, raising Lazarus, the Gerasene demoniac, the greatest commandment, and His "I am" statements!

Medearis is not knocking the rest of the Word of God, but he makes a distinction: 
All of the Bible is helpful, but it is a signpost to the ultimate Word of God -- Jesus the Christ. We do not follow the Bible. We don't worship the Bible. We love it because it directs us toward the One who is everything.
That is the only way to read/study the whole Bible: to see The Scarlet Thread of Redemption that points to Him. That is why I think it is important to also read and learn Old Testament stories that point to Jesus. They help us round out and understand the "whys" behind much of what Jesus did and said. That is why I host the Bible Book Club blog!

This is a great read. I heartily recommend it!
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