Burke, founder of Gateway Church in Austin, Tex., and author of No Perfect People Allowed, asks powerful questions in his second book: "What drives us to strive so hard? What are we really after? What do we long for?" Burke believes our deepest longings are fulfilled through relationships with God and others, and he provides a way to create those relationships through a 60-day experiment in faith. He says that willingness is the key to staying connected to God at least once every 60 minutes for 60 days. His book offers a roadmap for the "60-60 Experiment" through loving God, loving people, building character and demonstrating God's love to the world. Burke uses Bible texts and real-life examples liberally, as well as action steps with each chapter to make principles personal. He encourages accountability, yet eschews traditional groups that encourage participants to "try harder" because "we can never become all that God intends just by trying harder." Connecting to God creates genuine change, he says. This is a thorough, well-written and challenging book. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Soul Revolution: How Imperfect People Become All God Intendedby John Burke
You’ve heard it all before. The promises for a better life get tiresome after awhile, because you know they don’t deliver. However, they do touch on a profound and inescapable truth. You were created to live your life out of a rewarding, richly textured relationship with God and others—and deep down, you long to experience that kind of life. But
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You’ve heard it all before. The promises for a better life get tiresome after awhile, because you know they don’t deliver. However, they do touch on a profound and inescapable truth. You were created to live your life out of a rewarding, richly textured relationship with God and others—and deep down, you long to experience that kind of life. But how? Are you willing to devote sixty days to finding out? Soul Revolution may be one of the most important books you’ll ever read. In it, author and pastor John Burke guides you on a journey of experiential discovery. Called the “60-60 Experiment,” it has already made a profound impact on thousands who have discovered what it means to actually “do life” with God.
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Soul Revolution How Imperfect People Become All God Intended
By John Burke
Copyright © 2008 John Burke
All right reserved.
Chapter One Shallow Strategies
It had been a perfect night out for John and Dalia. Dennis Quaid's annual benefit party had been a blast. A few drinks, great entertainment, lots of laughs. The kids were asleep, and John was in the mood as they undressed for bed.
"John, can I ask you something?" The tone in Dalia's voice revealed a deep hidden fear.
"Sure, honey, ... what is it?" John took Dalia in his arms and pulled her close so as not to lose the moment.
"Have you been unfaithful to me?"
Dalia's words penetrated John's soul like a dagger. She had asked him this two or three times before, but this time, somehow, the words struck more deeply.
Time seemed to stand still as John's mind raced back across the years. Once, while he was engaged to Dalia, he had gone to a work party one night without her. It had been a hard week; he deserved to unwind and have some fun, he'd told himself. The drinks f lowed, and when the cocaine came out, he was up for some heightened pleasure. The woman doing coke with him got flirty. John rationalized: soon he'd be married, no more chances for a thrill like this. Before the night ended, he had cheated on his fiancée.
John recalled another occasion early in their marriage when he'd spent a weekend away with some work associates, most of them single. John knew where a night out with them mightlead, but he'd told himself he could "read the menu without buying." Besides, he had thought, what's wrong with having a little fun if it's not hurting anybody? The booze, the drugs, and a willing woman took him on the same dead-end ride he'd traveled so many times since his junior year in high school when he started "having a little fun." Only this time-he felt something. It was his conscience.
The next morning, guilt and shame had covered him like a wet, smelly blanket. What have I done? ... Dalia! John's friends assured him that if he never told her, the feeling would go away.
"Oh, if only I hadn't lied when she first asked," John thought now. The remorse over his hidden life and the strained intimacy with the woman he loved tickertaped red across his mind. He always swore he'd change-he'd stop drinking and never have another affair. He told himself he wasn't "that bad." He was a Christian, after all. He believed Jesus died for his sins. And he confessed each adulterous affair to God-but then had another and another.
Each time, John would tell himself, "I'm a good person-a successful lawyer, a volunteer at church. I'm not really hurting anyone by having fun." But "fun" always led to too much drinking, drugs if they were available, flirting, and wherever things led from there.
"Have you been unfaithful to me?" The question reverberated in John's head.
God had been working in John's heart since they'd started going to Gateway Church. He knew that authenticity was important for those who followed Christ. He'd heard stories of others who had failed and fallen, yet had truly decided to follow God all out. There was something appealing, even life-inspiring about breaking out of this self-induced prison. But fear always kept him locked up: fear of losing his marriage; fear of facing past failures; fear of feeling like a failure; and, if he was honest, fear of not having any more "fun." Ultimately, it was the fear of losing the only life he'd ever known.
Some life this has turned out to be! The thought struck deep and twisted in his soul. The realization of all the pain he had caused welled up in a reservoir of emotion behind the dam of his past lies.
"John, have you?" Dalia persisted.
It happened in a moment. All of the memories, all the truth, all the lies-all collided into one horribly painful moment.
"Yes." John dropped his head as Dalia's tears streamed down her face. All her long-held suspicions were confirmed. John never intended this-to hurt the one he loved. All the "fun" that life had promised only brought death-the death of everything he really wanted, of everything he cherished. It was the most terrifying, honest, freeing word he'd ever spoken.
For the next six months, John faced the reality of losing everything he loved most-Dalia, his children, the friends he'd lied to, the church friends he'd deceived. The proverb said it well: "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25).
Almost three years later, Dalia recalled, "If John hadn't changed, I would have left him. But God really has changed his heart. He's a free man, and through rebuilding our marriage, I've come to realize how much I love him. It'll take years, perhaps a lifetime to regain all we lost, but we have a strength in our marriage that wasn't there before."
John said, "I had this work-hard-play-hard philosophy that drove me, going way back to high school. Even though I was a straight A student, a good athlete, and in student government, I wanted friends. When I changed schools, the group that reached out to me partied hard, so I partied hard to fit in. That began a life of drinking, drugs, and sex.
"I can't even imagine all the people I've hurt. I've prayed for forgiveness. I was just blind. All I desired was to belong and be loved, yet you get so turned in on yourself, so self-centered, that you can't see that the path you're on will destroy you and those you love. I had Jesus way up in the clouds, removed from my real life. I felt I could tap into God when I needed him, but there was no daily, regular connection-I didn't know how to relate to God. Honestly, I knew very little about him. I hadn't taken time to study the Scriptures to know his character. I hadn't honestly surrendered my will to follow Christ. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too-but that never works.
"Since then, I've developed the art of staying connected to God throughout the day, and God is producing something in me I always wanted-peace, faithfulness, love, self-control. Since I confessed, God has been gently pulling me out of this deep hole I've dug, but I find there's still something in me that wants to keep my foot in the hole, because deep down I feel I may want to crawl back in it. It's that 'sin nature' in me wanting to go back to the only life I've known. Yet I'm tasting something I've always wanted growing within-something full of life-peaceful, yet exciting at the same time."
God wants to meet our deepest needs, but early in life we get wired to meet our needs without God. It never works. We think our fulfillment strategies will bring life, but they usually destroy the life we desire. Our deepest longings are good. But just as thirst points us toward water, our deepest longings point us toward Someone who can actually satisfy our thirsty souls.
A Zen master once said, "A finger is excellent for pointing at the moon, but woe to him who mistakes the finger for the moon." I believe we must follow our deepest desires with spiritual eyesight so that we can see exactly where they are pointing.
This book is your guide for this journey. In preparation, let's explore the life your heart and soul craves, which you may just find is the life God intended for you all along. Begin with these questions:
What do I really desire?
How will I really get it?
WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY?
All of us have strategies-mostly shallow ones-for quenching our deepest thirsts. What's yours? Identifying your main strategy can be tricky, like trying to see your nose without a mirror. Often our plan to "find life" gets so woven into our psyche that it becomes invisible. Even when we do identify that strategy, it's terrifying to imagine life without it.
Are you willing to reconsider your strategy? It may not be bad, but it may also be far less than God intends for you. Ask yourself, are you open to growth-to change?
One way to begin to uncover your current strategy is to fill in these blanks:
"If only ________________________________, or if I just ____________________________, then I will have the life I've always wanted."
Write down some phrases in those blanks. Be honest. Don't edit your thoughts because you feel your desires are wrong-just be rigorously truthful. What are you hoping for? What are you counting on?
Let's probe some common strategies with spiritual eyes for a minute.
Some people bank on the strategy of finding Mr. or Miss Right, getting married, and having a loving family. That's all good, but a marriage license doesn't guarantee love, faithfulness, or security. Let's say you've found "the one," got married, have had the statistical average of 2.3 kids, but you don't have love, contentment, and security-would you be happy? I doubt it since your basic spiritual needs are still unmet. So how do you get spiritual qualities like love, contentment and security?
Maybe your strategy is: "If I can just reach a certain financial level, reach my career and lifestyle goals, then I'll have life!" Material success-not a bad thing in itself, but is it really enough? Is it all you want? (Maybe you're thinking, "All I want is a chance to prove that lots of money and success is not enough!")
Consider this: imagine you have all the money, status, and toys you ever dreamed of, but you aren't content, don't experience joy, and don't feel your life matters-is it enough? Or do you want real contentment, personal confidence, lasting purpose, and maybe even a generous heart too? Do these spiritual qualities really come from attaining more stuff? What are your heart's deepest desires?
Maybe you've been deeply wounded in the past. As a result, your strategy may center on becoming self-sufficient and independently strong. You don't need anyone. But can inner strength or lasting security be found in isolation? Where do you find the spiritual strength and security to displace all your fear despite living in a dangerous world?
For many in our generation, the strategy of choice is to live for the next extreme rush-instant-gratification purchases, quick-dry thrills to fill the cracks in your soul, endorphin-rushed romances and sexual highs, chemically dependent and uninhibited fun-all because it's the closest you come to feeling alive. But ultimately these strategies destroy the life you seek. Thrills get boring, highs leave you low, romance wilts as fast as it blooms, sex becomes a series of morning-afters. So where do you go to find lasting spiritual qualities, like excitement with peace, adventure with security, and lasting intimacy with sexual contentment?
As C. S. Lewis realized, the problem is usually not that we want too much; it's that we settle for too little. Deep down we deceive ourselves. We believe two things: "My strategy will work," and "God will get in the way of what I really want." But both are lies! Ultimately, God wants to meet our deepest desires.
SPRINGS OF LIVING WATER
As you read the Bible, it doesn't take long to encounter imperfect people. From Adam and Eve to the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, God's faithful made huge moral blunders. So there's hope for you and me! How can God possibly work with imperfect people? Because they are willing. In one of my favorite stories, Jesus encounters a very imperfect woman, and through their interaction, he shows us the way God will gently uncover our broken strategies in order to quench our deepest thirst.
While traveling with his disciples through Samaria, Jesus came to a well called Jacob's Well. After he sent his disciples into the city to buy food, a woman came to draw water from the well. Usually, the women of the town would draw their daily supply of water in the cool of the morning. Conversation around the well would be the equivalent of our office water-cooler conversations.
Significantly, when this woman came to the well alone, it was around noon, the hottest part of the day, no doubt because she was avoiding the water-cooler group. Her past had been anything but perfect. She'd been married and divorced five times-a track record that would earn her several laps around the gossip circle-but the fact that she was now unmarried and shacking up with a sixth man was scandalous.
Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink." ...
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"
Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water." (John 4:7-10 NLT)
Jesus said, "If you knew the gift God has for you ... If you knew who I am ... you would ask me for the water I can give you." What was he talking about? Jesus was parabolic and chose the parable over the pragmatic.
Like a mystery novelist, he longs to draw our whole being into his plot. Like a master songwriter, he's not just interested in getting his point across; he engages heart, mind, and soul with his song. And I find he does the same with you and me as he did with this woman. Patiently and in mysterious ways, he engages us at the level of our desires, prodding us to reconsider what our hearts really long for and how we will really get it.
This woman knew that the prophets had foretold of a Messiah who would come "and explain everything to us" about God. Jesus later revealed that he himself was the long-awaited Messiah of God. But because she didn't really know who God is, she didn't ask for what he had to give.
Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).
She didn't get it at first, and neither do we, most of the time. That's our main problem-we don't really know who God is, not just in name, but in character, so we don't make it a top priority to seek the living water he wants to give us to satisfy our thirsty souls. We keep trying to get our deep spiritual thirst quenched in shallow ways, which end up leaving us even thirstier.
IMAGES OF GOD
Many of us have an inadequate image of God. Our parents, other authority figures, our religious upbringing (or lack of it) can often paint an unappealing picture of God in our imaginations.
When Paula came to our church, she believed in a Higher Power, but to imagine God as "Father" was repugnant to her. She struggled with authority figures-a struggle rooted in deep pain, which drove her to drink excessively. After her drinking destroyed her marriage and contributed to her losing custody of her children, she found herself in recovery. While there, she came to terms with the abuse she had experienced as a child. Her father, a distinguished physics professor who traveled the world giving lectures, was an atheist and an alcoholic. Starting at age thirteen, Paula found favor with her dad by becoming his drinking buddy, but once he got her drunk, he would sometimes fondle her sexually. That became the primary image she had of a father's intimacy. No wonder "God as Father" made her gag.
Though Paula was initially freaked out by the Bible and any mention of Jesus, I showed her how the Higher Power she had come to trust experientially through recovery is the God Jesus revealed-a God who forgives wrongs and helps those who are willing to surrender their lives to follow his will. Paula recalls, "When I realized that Jesus revealed the Higher Power who had helped me, I gave my life to him and got baptized. Learning that Jesus said, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,' opened up for me a way to redefine what 'father' was supposed to be. As I've studied the way Jesus treated people, I found healing from the distorted view of the Father my earthly father gave me."
As a result of our distorted images of God, his character seems less than appealing, and the gift we think he wants to give us pales in comparison to the life we imagine for ourselves. But that's because we have not fully used our imaginations.
Imagine what God is really like. Unless we believe God is, above all, loving and good and for us, we won't be willing to seek him. The Bible says, "God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:8-10).
Excerpted from Soul Revolution by John Burke Copyright © 2008by John Burke.Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
John Burke and his wife, Kathy, founded Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 3,000 people, 70 percent of whom are in their twenties and thirties, and consists mostly of unchurched people who began actively following Christ at Gateway. Burke is also the author of No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church.
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The term ¿spiritual life¿ is often as misleading as it is mysterious. It is perhaps not a stretch to envision most Christians as unable to define (or exemplify!) a growing spiritual life. But there¿s no doubt the biblical example of a life lived in relationship with God is more than simply attending church. It is a life daily lived in deep, close, and intimate relationship with the Father.
John Burke¿s "Soul Revolution" goes a long way to educating a popular audience concerning the value and necessity of spiritual growth. The book¿s main emphasis is promoting what Burke calls the 60-60 Experiment: a challenge to think about God every 60 minutes for 60 days. This simple challenge is Burke¿s encouragement for the reader to connect every hour (and perhaps more often) with a God who desires a personal relationship with his people.
Burke takes his message further by encouraging logical steps in the process of spiritual growth including an ¿all-in¿ risk taking mentality in your journey, the necessity of conflict resolution, and the age-old practice of spiritual disciplines. Through these biblical and practical ideas, and the numerous firsthand accounts of growth, the reader can be encouraged in their walk with God.
Well written book, very challenging program to stay in conscious contact with God