Passion Church – SoCal

If you step foot onto the UCLA campus it won’t be long before you will encounter a zealous student who loves Jesus, and is a part of a simple church within a network called “Passion Church”. Passion Church Network was started by Jaeson Ma, author of “The Blueprint”, under the mentorship of Neil Cole, author of “Organic Church”. There are many student led simple churches spread out on several campuses in Southern California that make up the Passion Church Network. Last weekend 45 students who are heavily involved with PC headed for the mountains in Yucaipa, California for a PC leadership retreat. Morgan and I, along with several others were asked to come speak to the students.


The weekend was amazing, and we met true world changers. We learned as much from them as they learned from us. Every one of them is passionately pursuing Jesus, and the spread of the Gospel through simple church planting. Morgan and I were, and are always extremely encouraged when we spend time with Jaeson, Erik, Neil, CCN guys, or anyone else who is passionate about the multiplication of missional communities.

We all came to a beautiful understanding this weekend in mountains of California. Erik felt a deep need to release the students from a performance mentality that many of us tend to slip into. We feel the need to seek the approval of man, or worse, seek the approval of God by our many works. As prideful man we have a hard time accepting the fact that the beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus did for us we could not do, please God.
By Sunday morning we all had a fresh dose of grace, and reminder of why we made the decision to allow Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. As I got up to share with the students the Lord gave me a fresh word for the students. There seemed to be some curiosity, and confusion about our part in the kingdom…since we are set free from “doing” for God, right? I can still see the look on the faces in front of me as I shared this simple statement with the students:

“We do not perform for God to earn His approval, we obey because we ALREADY have His approval.”


This simple statement set many of us in the room free. We were, not only released from a performance mentality, but moved to obedience upon the realization of the approval we have from God, because of Christ in us. It is as if we have had things out of order this entire time…


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I.G. Vegas = Eight Months Old…

It has been eight months since Intentional Gathering’s first permanent presence in Las Vegas. It has been quite the ride. We have seen the Lord do some amazing things. He has taught us much. He has begun forming some beautiful Gospel Centered Biblical Communities here in the city, and used I.G. Vegas to influence to birth of new “missional communities” in other parts of the country. Over the past eight months we have been continuously reminded of some of the core principles we learned at the birth of our journey of that began two years ago in Texas…

1) If we EVER think we have “it” figured out then we have fallen victim to pride, & self-righteousness. We will soon lose all ability to hear from the Holy Spirit, and the ability make proper changes in order to stay effective in our pursuit of seeing the Gospel spread to the ends of the earth.

2) Every “missional community” IS, and MUST BE different. There is NO formula. Gospel Centered Community centered around mission MUST happen naturally, and cannot be forced.

3) We must not spend precious time, energy, and efforts trying to rally believers around our “cause”, “model”, or “way of doing things”. We MUST pursue making disciples, and adding NEW believers to the Body of Christ in order to grow the Kingdom of God. As we pursue making NEW disciples Christ will grow His Church. Amen.

Here’s a quick video of some things that have happened over the past eight months in Vegas, and some upcoming opportunities we have as an organization…

“Tension Wood”

Tension Wood“, replied my friend when I asked him what the technical term was for what had happened to the below pine tree…

Let’s talk “missional” – Morgan and I became close friends with our neighbors across the street a few months ago. They are not a project. They are not a charity case. We are not their saviors, and have no desire in our own power, or by our own efforts to try & “save them”. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, working through His followers, will gain standing in the lives of those we are in relationship with. We do not do the saving, but allow the Holy Spirit of Christ in us to work through us to capture the hearts of those who do not know Jesus intimately. We also don’t have a “covert operation” going on to convert them. We have grown to love them, and they have grown to love us. They have become some of our best friends in the city. Do we long for them to be captured by the Grace of Jesus more and more each day? Of course. Just like we long to be captured more by the Grace of Christ more and more each day.

As Christians we have fallen trap to an US vs. THEM mentality. This can hinder us from modeling the life of Christ to those we come in contact with. We are not in a competition with the lost. Jesus was not competing with those He served, healed, forgave, and saved. He desired for them to know Him, and He loved them into a relationship with Him. As Christians, in our insecurity, we feel the need to “one-up” the lost, or think we are better than them. We sometimes even let them know how right we are, and how wrong they are. This becomes dangerous when we communicate these things as if we have done anything in our own power, or by our own efforts to be right. It would be contrary to the Gospel, and we’d be boasting as if WE did something to achieve our status on the “winning team”. (Sounds like those guys in the Bible that Jesus spoke very strongly to about their self-righteous attitudes…the Scribes and Pharisees)

Again, this is not a competition we are in against other children of God, whom He does not wish to perish. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) I believe that darkness manifests itself in the form of self-righteous pride like a disease among people who claim to follow Christ sometimes more than poor, broken, adulterous women drawing water from a well.

Over the past few months we have spent five of the seven nights in a week on the front porch with our new friends. We’ve had amazing opportunities to serve them, and BE SERVED by them. We’ve been there for them, & loved on them. They’ve been there for us, & loved on us. The Gospel has been LIVED out, as well as SHARED. Scripture has been read. Prayers have been prayed. (Initiated by our new friends at times) Nothing has been forced. Our hope is that our neighbors have truly encountered Christ in us. They might not know it, but we have seen glimpses of Christ in them. Real life has been lived. The activity of the Spirit in the lives of friends right in front of our eyes is an absolutely incredible sight to see. Now, on a lighter note…

People in Vegas tend to head about 45 minutes north to Mt. Charleston to escape the heat. We went out there with them this past Sunday for a picnic lunch. This is what happens when a few guys find a limp pine tree in the woods….

Desperation Blog…Part 2

A couple months back I posted an entry titled, “The Godless: A Desperate Generation”. Though it is not entirely necessary to read before this entry, it may help you to see what sparked the thoughts below…

In the past few months I have been almost convinced that it is impossible to be desperate for God in America because of our lack of need for Him in regards to basic provision. My mind has shifted gears in the past few weeks, though I still strongly believe that it is MUCH more difficult to grasp a desperation for God without needing, and relying on Him for the provision of our basic needs.

I have realized that anyone, in any country, who takes the scriptures seriously, lives them out, and denies themselves daily, can begin to understand what it means to be desperate for God in a physical and Spiritual sense. If I truly live the scriptures, and take them seriously then I will be without some sort of fleshly need, or desire. I will have need for God’s provision in my life. Because desperation for God has not been modeled for many of us in our lives we will have to pursue it more intentionally, and with everything in our being. As we deny ourselves of fleshly desires we will quickly be made desperate for God, His presence, and provision in our lives.

If you are married, and truly seeking the scriptures/living them out in your marriage then you certainly know, or are learning to be desperate for God. If you are not married, that’s okay, you should still keep reading. At the core of the Gospel we see this idea of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following after Jesus. (Matthew 16:24) This is a daily denial of self, which goes completely against everything in our being. This poses a question: if we are not desperate for God, are we truly denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus as the scriptures call us to? A second core principle of the Gospel is the idea of putting the interests of others before ours, having the attitude of Jesus. (Philippians 2:4-5) Second question: if I am not desperate for God on a daily basis I am basically saying that I have this “flesh”, “denial of self”, and “other’s interests before mine” thing figured out. That thought breeds self-righteousness, and arrogance. Scary.

I know many people who seem to have it all together. They have the right answers for everything. They have the best, most eloquent responses to all of life’s situations. They read all the right books, and spend large amounts of time studying scripture. This intrigues me, especially when very little of it is translated into life practice. It seems to be mere head knowledge. Ironically, many of these same people think very often about themselves, and very little about others. At the core there seems to be a lack of desperation for God. Maybe an even deeper root is the absence of the realization that NEED to be desperate for God should exist!? In our sin nature we have been deceived into thinking that a “good Christian” is someone who has it all together instead of someone who is daily crying out in need for God to save them from themselves.

I have learned lately that I am an extremely selfish person. I will probably be learning this more and more as I get older, lasting until the day I die. This has manifested itself in the relationships I have with friends, as well as my marriage. The Lord is making me desperate for Him to choke out my fleshly, selfish desires, and put my wife’s/others interests before mine. That is, after all, what I’m called to as a husband, and believer.

Some other questions that have crossed my mind in reference to this subject of being desperate for God:

Is my lack of desperation for Him, which we have seen can be translated to a lack of denying myself, and putting the interests of others before me, be hindering me from involvement in the growth of the kingdom? Ouch.

How many kingdom opportunities am I missing out on as a result of my lack of desperation for God, and my focus on self?

As Christians, when will we stop thinking it’s all about us, our walk with God, our time with God, our community, our church, our faith, our righteousness, our accountability, our sin, our forgiveness, etc. and start focusing on how those things can empower us to bring light/life to dark/dead places? (Take the focus off of ourselves, and our interests in order to redirect that energy to the focus on the interests of others)

Thanks for reading. I would enjoy, and greatly benefit from any insight you all have on these thoughts.