What Matters More?

Those of you who frequent this blog know that I am a fan of singer/songwriter Derek Webb. On his latest album there is a song called “What Matters More”, and it is INCREDIBLE. Take a few minutes to watch the video while reading the lyrics. Some of you may feel that Derek has a wonderful way of putting words to feelings you have had…

What Matters More – by Derek Webb

You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
‘Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

‘Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn’t silently consent when the liars speak
Denyin’ all the dyin’ of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it’s about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin’ the wind while the pendulum swings

‘Cause we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin’ today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

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“Injustice Lens”

This is a poem written by a student church planter at UCLA. It’s about Injustice, Christmas, consumerism, etc. I know this is probably a discussion you have already had this Christmas season, and have most likely come to your own conclusions. (appropriate for your own situations, etc.) My reason for posting this is not to convince you that giving/receiving presents is bad or wrong. All I am doing is passing along a well-written perspective that we, as believers in America, must keep in mind throughout the entire year.

“Injustice Lens” – by Myles Hamby

Righteous anger is running through my vein,
Gonna tell you a story ’bout the pain,
That other people go through in their life,
World stands ignorant, neglecting their strife.

Ugandan Rebels took kids from their bed,
Now forced to fight or they’re shot in the head,
Forced to kill their mom and also their dad,
While we’re here searching for the latest fad.

Cambodian girl was raped, ’til she blead,
Brothel owner could care less, if she’s dead,
Pimp video-taped, to sell it online,
World downloads it, pretends ev’rything’s fine.

Chinese child slave, bought ’cause he was cheap,
Working long hours, little or no sleep,
Sews a shirt wrong, beaten for the mistake,
You wear the fixed shirt, while his poor hands ache.

Learn to live in this reality.
Against injustice make a loud decree.
Give love and money so abundantly.
And finally set all these people free.

Never thought this through, though facts I did know,
Heard ’bout poverty, but went with the flow,
Only filled my mind, when shown on the news,
Didn’t affect me, that was my excuse.

But in recent years, I went through a shift,
Some say it’s a curse, but I say a gift,
Thought ’bout it more, stories stuck in my head,
Think ’bout injustice, while lying in bed.

I look at young boys, playing with their cars,
Instantly start to think, about the scars,
On body and heart, of a child soldier,
Once innocent minded, as these boys are.

When people waste money, on what they don’t need,
I think about the mouths, that they could feed,
The rich get more rich, the poor get more poor,
Yet we stand in line, wastin’ at the store.

In department stores, most just see a dress,
But I see a girl, whose life’s in distress,
Look at the tag, not made in the U.S.,
‘Cause kids are exploited, for the sake of progress.

Humans trafficked, for the sake of profit,
This is the planet’s, third largest market,
Twenty seven million slaves today,
More than the slave trade, back in the day.

Learn to live in this reality.
Against injustice make a loud decree.
Give love and money so abundantly.
And finally set all these people free.

When you see injustice, throughout your day,
You’re lookin’ through a lens, seein’ a new way,
This injustice lens, is removable,
Some wear it more, if their minds are able.

I wore this lens so much, absorbed into my eye,
Became a part of me ’til the day that I die,
This lens and my eye are now one in the same,
So ingrained in my life, it’s part of my name.

Look into my eyes, through this lens you’ll see,
Not just a world clothed in poverty,
But you’ll see my eyes, attached to my heart,
‘Cause to show them love, from the heart I must start.

To be moved to action, from within it must come,
For too many people, their heart’s become numb,
Awaken your heart, allow love to stir you,
To help the world, and expose what is true.

Learn to live in this reality.
Against injustice make a loud decree.
Give love and money so abundantly.
And finally set all these people free.

This is how my heart’s wired, I’m fine with that,
‘Cause this is the truth, don’t want to turn back,
But knowledge without action has no gain,
Listen to me now, don’t let me rhyme in vain.

My first request: put yourself in their shoes,
Imagine being raped, used and abused,
Or a slave workin’ for a dime a day
Or a child soldier, killed dad today.

Second request: give love, money and time,
‘Cause more are dying as I write this rhyme,
We can’t sit silent, no more nonchalance,
I’m making the call, what is your response?

Learn to live in this reality.
Against injustice make a loud decree.
Give love and money so abundantly.
And finally set all these people free.

And finally set all these people free.
God, please set all these people free.

-Myles Hamby-

(thanks buddy)

Las Vegas iPhoto Library…

After looking back through my iPhoto library I couldn’t help but throw together a little slide show of pics from our two year journey in Las Vegas. To those of you who came to our going away party this past Friday, thanks!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Going Away Party… on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

What Are We Aiming For…?

“We must stop being so worried about the “sustainability” of churches, and focus on the quality of the disciple due to their time in that community…”

A few days ago I mentioned I was going to continue with what I felt was one of the most important lessons we learned during our time in Las Vegas. To get caught up, Click Here to read the previous post…the following is among many of the things we have learned in the past two years, but something I have been thinking a lot about lately. It will shape & mold how we do things from here on out, and have a tremendous impact on how we will pursue “things” once we arrive in Austin…

Overall, I have determined that Christ is TRULY concerned with the individual Disciples who make up His body (the Church). He is concerned with the growth of those “parts”, knowing that if they are healthy then the body as a whole will be healthy. Many of us fall into the trap of caring/worrying/pursuing more about the “sustainability” of the new “church” or “community” that the health of the individual disciple can be overlooked. The fact is if the disciple is not healthy the church is not healthy. The truth is while most simple/organic churches will not (in many cases SHOULD NOT) be in existence for more than a couple of years, the quality of the disciple will live on forever no matter where they are geographically. (This has been our experience thus far)

As many of you know, at Intentional Gatherings we do like to see new faith communities birthed as a result of discipleship. However, we must constantly fight, and remind ourselves that these new faith communities are a means to an end; they are not an end in themselves. The hope is that they would produce and foster healthy, mature, and reproducible disciples. As disciples are reproduced the Body of Christ (Church) grows and is made more pure for His return. This is a beautiful thing.

I know what some of you are SCREAMING right now: “Aaron, are you saying you aren’t concerned with the actual church that is made up of those individual disciples, and are you saying Christ is not concerned with each individual church!?” I am saying that I feel Christ is extremely concerned with each individual disciple, and their obedience to whatever particular community of faith they are a part of for that time in their lives. We must remember that while there are individuals inside of different communities of faith there are also communities of faith that make up THE CHURCH. We must start with the health of the disciple. From there we will ALWAYS get a healthy community of faith (Healthy does not always mean it will “live” forever=), and thus a healthy body as a whole. If we skip the disciple and try to have a “proper” or “sustainable” faith community then we “chop the legs” out from under the Body as a Whole.

I’d rather have a church of 10-15 made up of extremely healthy kingdom-minded Jesus followers that lasts for 2-3 years than one of ANY number that lasts for decades. You see, I know that wherever those 10-15 go throughout the  rest of their lives they will continue to be that disciple, or potentially start a new church of their own.

“We must stop being so worried about the “sustainability” of churches, and focus on the quality of the disciple due to their time in that community.”

May we all begin, and continue to focus on the disciple more than we do the “entity” (whether big, small, mega, or house) in which we call, “church”. As we pursue individuals gaining a deeper understanding of the Gospel, and fall more in love with their Savior, Jesus, may HE do the rest…”build HIS Church”.

“Goodbye Las Vegas, Hello Austin”

Most of you already know that we will be moving to Austin, Tx. in the next few weeks to extend the work of Intentional Gatherings in a new city. Leaving Las Vegas will be such a bittersweet experience for us – just as it was when we left Ft. Worth two years ago. We left our physical & spiritual families behind shortly after getting married to move across the country. It was quite the adventure. While God has wired, and called us to go to new cities every couple of years to start new communities of faith & see new disciples made it is still difficult to leave behind the close relationships that are built in each city. We are sad to part ways with so many close friends, but extremely excited to step out in obedience by “starting over” in a new city…

Many people look at us cross-eyed when we explain how God has called us to move to new places to start new works every few years. It is not the norm for Christians in America to pack up and leave behind friends and family regularly & voluntarily. We appreciate all of you who have loved and supported us throughout the difficult transitions. We could not do this without you. It is taxing to build Spiritual family for two years, and then leave that family to go start a new one. We just have to trust that Christ is building His Church & doing His thing, simply desiring our obedience. It is encouraging to know that we will have Spiritual Family spread out all over the country down the road…

To our spiritual family within the “university crest church” community: we love you guys so much. God has taught us a lot through doing life with you guys over the past two years. I pray that each of you have been sharpened & discipled to a deeper love and understanding of the kingdom, and your role in it. May each of you go on to make more disciples in Jesus’ name wherever life takes you. Do know that just because we are moving does not mean we are exiting each others lives.

To our spiritual family within the “hudgin’s, robbin’s, & snow’s church” community: I have never experienced anything quite like what we have walked through over the past 6 months with you guys…it was like “organic/simple church” on speed. We all sensed God pushing us to pursue Him & one another. We knew we only had 6 months to do it. There was no time to waste. God did some miraculous things in the past half a year as we walked in obedience together. He worked sin out of our lives, healed brokenness in our marriages, taught us patience & grace, and most importantly that pursuing Biblical community with other believers is and is supposed to be “simple” – not easy – but simple. While I wish we had pursued this much earlier on in our two years of knowing you guys I feel the timing of everything has been perfect, and God ordained; He knew what He was doing. My prayer for each of you is that you will pursue the types of relationships we have experienced with one another over the past 6 months for the rest of your lives, wherever you go. I know we will.

(From left: The Hudgin’s, The Snow’s, The Robbin’s)

I will continue in a couple of days with what I feel is one of the most important lessons we’ve learned as an organization during our time in Las Vegas…

Simple Obedience.

God has been teaching us SO much over the past couple years. One of the main things has been what He truly desires of us as followers of Him…simple obedience. Our hope is that the realization of His “free” grace would fuel that obedience, and not performance/obedience in order to earn grace. In the midst of that we have discovered our tendency to do the “flashy” things that draw attention, & make the headlines in an attempt to “satisfy man’s expectations”…

I was VERY encouraged this morning when I read a blog that our friend Chelsea posted. We’ve known Chelsea, & her husband Dustin for two years now. About 5 months ago, along with the Hudgin’s, we decided to take our relationships to a new level. We embarked on a journey to “be the church” together in a very raw, deep, and relational way. We started a new church together. It was simple obedience. It wasn’t flashy, forced, or energy draining. It was life giving. It’s what we know God desired of us. The key however, was that we had to remove the clutter we had put on our “plates” attempting to “please God”, “be a good Christian”, or seek to satisfy man’s expectations, and press into that simple obedience. I’ll stop now, and let you read Chelsea’s beautiful words describing all of our family’s journey together…

CLICK HERE TO READ CHELSEA’S BLOG.

(The first bit is about our dinner outing this past weekend as we celebrated our adventure together over the past 6 months, and enjoyed one another one last time before the move(s).