“Sometimes Love Does Not ‘Feel’ Good”

Jesus has been teaching me a lot lately about abiding in the Truth of His promises no matter what the circumstances. A lot of what He was revealing to me seemed very elementary and cliche’, but powerful nonetheless. These revelations also came in handy in some relationships I have. I hope it blesses you…

“…He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him…”

Last week was very dry for me. I was getting a bit “down” and frustrated wondering “why” I couldn’t “feel” Him, etc. I kept asking “why would He not want me to feel His love all the time!?” It was in those frustrations that He just reminded me how small my understanding of His love is. He wants to know me and me to know Him in such a deep and intimate way – a way that I simply do not understand at this point, but that He wants to teach me. He spoke to me that He was developing FAITHFULNESS and maturity in me during this “dry” season. He wanted to know that I wasn’t just around for the “good ol’ mushy feelings”, but ALSO the “tough/dry” times (which, by the way, are ALSO His love! haha! He totally blew the lid of the box I had put His love in) You see, He spoke to me that a love that is merely a feeling is a shallow and immature love. Sometimes, love doesn’t “feel” good at all. I liken it to this…

When Morgan and I got engaged we were all bubbly, gushy, and FULL of PURE BUTTERFLY “FEELINGS” toward one another. It was great. It was definitely love. However, it was a very limited/surface picture of the love that Jesus wanted to develop in us over time. We didn’t really KNOW each other in such a way that would even allow us to truly LOVE each other. Jesus wants to KNOW us in the ways that allow us to LOVE Him more deeply – yep, that means that there will be times we don’t feel Him at all. Now, Morgan and I still have butterflies for each other =) hehehe. However, our love has matured into something much deeper and more beautiful than it was when we got engaged. It doesn’t “feel”, on the surface” as “good” at times, but we both know it is a special and DEEP kind of love that allows us to know and pursue one another in ways that we NEVER could/would have when we “felt” all gushy during engagement. Make sense? I know you all know this. I just thought I’d share something fresh on my heart Jesus has been teaching me. He blew me up last week with His desire to produce maturity and faithfulness in me that goes so much further and deeper than emotional feelings. He wants us to cling so tightly to His promises, and believe in them so much that nothing can phase us – nothing can touch us – and no situation can steal our affections toward Him.

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“Acts Of Sharing”

I want to introduce you all to a friend of mine here in Austin named Brian Boitmann. He is the founder and “chief sharer” of “Acts of Sharing“, an online sharing tool to help you and your friends reduce waste and save money! (There’s a LOT more to it than that, so I encourage you to visit www.actsofsharing.com to learn more !) Brian lives here in Austin, and is a UT graduate with big dreams for the Kingdom. We sat at a coffee shop while he shared the vision for AOS with me. He has dreams of seeing people all over the country and world collaborating to share their possessions with one another in an effort to model Biblical principles – after all “there’s enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed”! Basically, you create a profile at AOS, build a collection of the things you own, begin lending them to friends you trust/those in your “circles”/community, and borrowing things you may also need. This might be DVD’s or books that sit on your shelf, a lawnmower that your neighbor needs while he waits for his to get fixed, or for all of us parents out there – BABY stuff that sits in your attic because your kids have gotten older! Something like AOS would work perfectly among faith communities, missional communities, and simple churches! One of my favorite functions of the site is that it shows how much $$$ you have saved yourself, as well as money your friends have saved by borrowing things instead of going out to purchase them. After all, why should the same book be on the shelf of you, and several/all of your friends!?

A great example of this is when we lived in Las Vegas. Morgan and I were getting ready to go backpacking with some friends to the beautiful Havasupai Indian Village. We started buying gear from REI when we realized that a neighbor already owned several items we needed. So, he let us borrow his sleeping bags and pads. A little while later he was going backpacking and was able to use some of the gear we had purchased! It saved each of us hundreds of dollars! I just wish we had AOS when we lived in Vegas! Who knows how much $$$ we would have saved ourselves and others!?

AOS was launched in Austin, as well as DFW, and possibly some others. Contact Brian today if you think something like this would benefit you and your city!

“Just Look At The Math”

This is a post written by my buddy Aaron Saufley. You can frequent his blog by CLICKING HERE. He and I share a lot in common, so when I read this post I couldn’t help but ask him if I could “steal it” to post here on “a holy discontent”. I’m a sucker for a good analogy about the church…

From “The Road Less Traveled” on September 9th, 2010:

I’m always looking for ways to help other churched people understand why I’m a simple/organic/house church guy, because I get asked about it quite often.  I often have used construction terms–the structure of the traditional church needs a lot of metaphorical scaffolding (programs, finances, staff, etc.) to hold it up, where as a simple church doesn’t need any of those things.

I may have found a new one.  And it involves my least favorite subject ever.

Math.

I always hated geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus (which, thank God, I avoided taking).  I just don’t get the idea of adding letters.  And I want to get to a final solution, not a final balanced equation.

So here’s the idea when it comes to church and why I’m not a traditionally structured church guy anymore:

2 + 2 = 4

13x – 21y(7z – 43) = 4

These two equations are essentially the same, because they both equal four.  The difference, however, is obvious.  One is much simpler than the other.

When it comes to the church, I truly believe most Christians want the same solution–more people following Jesus.  The problem, however, is that we build an equation that is way too complicated.  We’re convinced that with enough finances, staff, and programs, we can figure out that solution.  The only wrench in the gears are the variables (for those of us who’ve forgotten how to do math without a calculator, the variables in the above equation are x, y, and z).  If we can just figure out the variables, then we’ll have the magic formula–a new program, a great idea from the latest how-to-grow-a-large-trendy-rocker-church book, another staff member, a new location, a viral marketing campaign, etc.

When the equation is too complicated, we focus on the variables and forget about the real solution:  Jesus.

The church isn’t a bunch of programs, resources, staff, events, and cool marketing.  Plain and simple, the church is about Jesus.  The church is the people of God doing life together on mission with Jesus.  The church is the people of God letting Jesus live His life through them, whatever their circumstance.  The church is about helping people to become better followers of Jesus.

That’s it.  Pure and simple.  And that’s what organic/simple church is all about.

I’m convinced a great majority of churches need to take a hard look at themselves and simplify.  Big time.  There are many programs that are dead that need to be cut loose.  There are many programs and events that are causing too much sideways movement (they’re meant to do the same thing).  The church needs to drop a lot of weight and get back into “fighting shape.”  In order to do that, ego and agenda must be put to death, and this question must be asked and acted upon:  What is the simplest (notice I didn’t say easiest) way to help people become followers of Jesus?

The time is long past for churches to stop adding, adding, adding.  It’s past time for some major subtraction to begin so that the multiplication of disciples can commence.

Never Thought THIS Would Happen…!

As many of you already know we have been in Austin about 9 months. A LOT of exciting things are happening. We’ve sensed that Austin just might be more of a “home base” (for now=) Perhaps we will be here a tad longer than Vegas…hmmm….who knows! Throughout the last couple of months we have been in the process of purchasing a little house on the northeast side of Austin (St. John’s). This is something we NEVER thought we would do, or thought we could afford. All of the pieces have fallen together divinely, and God has confirmed this decision every step of the way. There is a lot more to this decision than simply purchasing a place to “live”…

A friend who lives in St. Johns told us about the house, and after much prayer we sensed TONS of peace (As our friends Bob & Ann have always said, “Go where the peace is”). There are several sets of friends living in this neighborhood already, as well as a House Church that was started by some friends of ours a couple years ago. There’s built in community, as well as tons of potential for growth & new disciples/churches. This is a lower income neighborhood (the reason we’re able to afford the house on our modest income) with quite the “personality”. However, several young married couples have moved in in the past few years with a vision to see the hood transformed. In that time they have seen drug dealers “prayed OUT”, single mom’s served, kids Baptized, etc. We get to join them in a redemptive plan to keep bringing Jesus to this neighborhood. Also, The guys community house that our intern, Bear, lived in over the summer is two streets over from this house. (This is the same community house that my older brother Isaac might be moving into in the next few days! He’s staying with us at our apartment in Austin right now making some pretty amazing life changes and decision! =)

The exciting news is obviously that we are buying our first home…and we are CLOSING TODAY! =) We are so pumped about this, and wanted to share this news with you all. It’s quaint, and small. Morgan and I both feel the Lord is moving us into a new season of “simplifying” our lives EVEN MORE as we take this step. Check it out…

“Dallas Dope Monkey”

“The purple tinted evening of the Dallas horizon is all I have when I am dope sick. In the midst of opiate withdrawals I can never seem to reach God, but all that I need is a grain of hope. I am thru with that shit, again, for the hundreth time! As I start to reach the last limb of the withdrawal train, my God given sense of purpose slowly derives from this clarity in measured time, and when I say , “measured time,” it really means I have to acquire the virtue of patience…”     –Dallas Dope Monkey

Some of you who know me well know I have an older brother named Isaac who has led quite the “colorful” life. It’s been nothing short of “blockbuster movie” material, and I’m not even kidding. He has always been a talented writer, and we have encouraged him for years to start putting his life stories on paper…

After his most recent heroin relapse he grew more desperate for Jesus than I’ve ever known him to be. It’s nothing short of the miracle we have all been praying for him for over a decade now. He doesn’t know all the “Christian lingo”, and “appropriate” ways to act around other “believers”. He’s raw, gritty, real….and REDEEMED. After all, that is what Jesus is in the business of doing right…? I mean, I wonder if Jesus gets bored with all of us “pretenders” who walk around acting like we have it all together with the way we “talk” and “act” around each other – only to have a whirlwind of chaos going on inside of us. In our lies we refuse to LET Jesus’ work on the cross cleanse and redeem us daily.

Isaac’s whirlwind is on the outside, and it’s incredibly beautiful. He would make the average Christian uncomfortable with some of his “crass” comments and frequent cigarette breaks. However, one must not dig too deep to see the desperate hunger for God found in few of His claimed followers…

You see, as Christians we have, for far too long “measured” people’s “level of Christianity” (How “Christian” they are) by their outward works, gifts, and ability to “not screw up”. Now, is it my hope, and God’s hope that we all gradually come to a place where we’re so engulfed in who HE is and what HE did for us that we are far less prone to “screw up”? Of course. But, what would happen if we started recognizing people’s commitment to Jesus by the level of confession, repentance of sin, and desperation for God they walk in…? Woah.

When I start seeing THAT in someone I start viewing them more through the eyes of Jesus. I start to see them not for the sin they are prone to, but the Jesus that they know saves them. When Isaac tells me he desperately wants to know God, and raise his son to follow Jesus days before a fluke heroin relapse I get to see his heart – not the needle scars on his arms. When he is in tears communicating his desperation for being who God created to be I get to look past the “relapse” and speak life into him.

I do hope to see more and more fruit in my brother’s life, just as I hope to see more and more fruit in mine and my wife’s life. The fruit I want to see is the Fruit of the Spirit, which has and is becoming more evident by the hour. Oh, confession, repentance, and desperation make for a pretty good fertilizer in the “Fruit of the Spirit garden”.

I hope you’ll check out Isaac’s writings. Be careful, they will suck you in and leave you questioning how truly “fictional” these stories are. I can assure you they are far from imagination, but actual happenings from the life of Isaac Snow. I do need to throw out a “warning” as these stories are raw, gritty, and real. They creep up to the “Rated-R” line often. I encouraged Isaac to be real in his writings, and hold nothing back in order for the redemptive nature of Jesus’ work on the cross to shine through all the more. May these stories not only be redeemed as Isaac sprints after Jesus, but also as others read them and see the power of God displayed.

Movement “Nuggets”…

There’s a lot of talk about “movements” these days. Whether it’s  “Church Planting Movements“, or a youtube video that goes “viral”, there’s no question there are some “Kingdom principles” to glean from current happenings. There are many faith based organizations pursuing and contending for a “Gospel movement” that surpasses anything we can make happen through our own man-made efforts. These movement characteristics often cannot be explained outside of being described as “miraculous moves of the Holy Spirit”. Many missional strategists have gotten together years AFTER a movement has begun to study the various steps that were taken leading up to the movement.

I have been fascinated by these studies for several years now, and have made it a personal/organization goal to pursue practices that have “movement principles” within their DNA. I certainly do not have anything “figured out”, and there is definitely NOT a formula one might “plug in” to produce a “movement”. However, I can’t help but think that some of the things we are beginning to see happen here in the states as a result of our various organizational practices contain some powerful movement “nuggets”. Lots of people are labeling what they are doing a “movement”…I can’t say that we are “there” yet, or ever will be. (Or, for that matter, that we would ever be a self-described movement, but rather allow outsiders who look in to describe what they see as “that”) What I do feel confident about is that these things we are seeing happen are heading in the right direction, and are rooted in the multiplication of individual disciples in the context of new Spiritual Families being birthed. What you will see in the below video is something we have the pleasure of seeing take place on a regular basis all over the country…Praise Jesus.

Cameron is a student who went through SCPx in Austin this past summer. He lives in DFW and is back there living out the training he received at SCPx. Cameron is one of MANY students who are being equipped and RELEASED to live out their faith in “movement” ways.