Married To Jesus…

I am currently reading through the book of Romans with my “LTG partner”. I came across a neat little piece of insight this morning in Romans 7:2-4 that I thought I’d share with you all…

2For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”

Wow. I am daily humbled by the fact that we, as The Church, are the Bride of Christ. He is the Bridegroom, and is making His Bride ready for His return. It says that we have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that we may be married to another-Jesus! Just as the woman above is released from the law of marriage to her husband upon his death, we are released from our marriage to sin because of the law through the death/resurrection of Christ. Just as she is released to marry another, WE are released to marry another-Him who was raised from the dead.

We are released from our marriage to sin, and set free in our marriage to Christ because He has died, and is risen for the redemption of our sin. He is our Bridegroom, and we are daily being sanctified/made pure/holy for His return. My favorite part of this passage is at the very end…

“…that we should bear fruit to God.”

We are released from our marriage to sin because of the law, and set free to marry Christ…SO THAT WE MAY BEAR FRUIT TO GOD! I love it. May we walk in this freedom today, realizing our freedom from sin, and marriage to Christ for the purpose of His Kingdom!

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Freedom & Release.

During Student CPx we focus very heavily on the Great Commission, and the importance of EVERY BELIEVER realizing those last words of Jesus before he went to heaven are for them, TOO. Part of the GC teaches every believer to Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We teach that these Baptisms can be fuel for the movement of the Gospel, but it’s very important to ask a few questions about Baptism:

1) Who is DOING the Baptizing?

2) When is the Baptizing taking place after a decision is made?

3) Where is the Baptizing taking place?

We always teach that the DISCIPLER should, if possible, also BE THE BAPTIZER. It should, if possible, be done as soon as possible after someone makes a public profession of faith. We hope and pray that unbelievers would be present to watch the Baptism, & do our best to be strategic about where/when in order to make that possible. We have found that it will almost never occur in a traditional Baptismal, but a fountain, pool, stream, creek, lake, bathtub, or whatever happens to be available.

After teaching through this section at SCPx we watched as students began to realize that they had been believers for a long time, but never Baptized anyone. They weren’t upset, though. They became excited to see it begin to happen in their lives. One of the students began to weep as she shared about her Baptism experience, which occurred at a young age. She described a very impersonal, mundane Baptism by a guy she never knew. Sound familiar? We encouraged her that her Baptism was completely “legitimate”, & that the Lord was pleased with her heart. She knew that, and was not doubting her faith/salvation. She communicated that she had a desire to be Baptized in a very powerful, and celebratory way among a spiritual family whom she had grown to trust and love. Another girl spoke up and said she had a similar experience…

The students started discussing things like, “are we allowed to be Baptized twice?”, and “If we do it this time does that mean the first time didn’t count?”, etc. – (please know that this did not result in anyone doubting their salvation in Christ & eternity in heaven with Him)

I shared with the students that I would hope we would all “pray the prayer” EVERY SINGLE day, committing our lives to Christ, repenting of our sins, claiming Jesus as Lord, etc. I also posed the question: What would be wrong with “BEING BAPTIZED” every single day!? (Declaring the death of ourselves, and new life we have in Christ, that we are washed clean of our sin, etc.) Someone yelled, “we could just Baptize ourselves in the shower every day!” I am not submitting that we should or must all get Baptized everyday, or Baptize ourselves every day. I am simply saying that someone who has been Baptized at a young age in a very impersonal way should be free to declare that new life in a celebratory way to those they are walking in Spiritual Family with. I cannot think of a reason why it would be a bad thing to declare that symbolic, life transformational act on a regular basis…

We walked down to the creek that runs through the middle of UT’s campus. It was dark, and the water was about knee deep. Two girls waded through the water, and were Baptized by two other girls. It was powerful, and all four girls were deeply impacted for life. A group of UT students with head lamps on came our way wading through the creek-they were hunting water snakes in the creek for a class assignment. They said studies showed that there were an average of 1 snake every 8 meters in this creek. Snakes! Mixed with Baptisms! What incredible symbolism. The two doing the Baptizing felt the freedom to start doing this new act, which they had never done before, many more times. The two who got Baptized were released to go and do the same. It was a powerful experience for everyone involved.

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Courtney Baptizing Jessie (on left) Sarah Baptizing Sabrina (on right)

“bASS Ackwards”

In continuation of previous post: “Compound Interest”

Our problem is that we are impatient. We want “get rich quick” schemes, and don’t typically like to work hard for things. We want things NOW, and we want them easy. We are this way with our money, and we are this way in our discipleship methods. Last week I posted “Where’s The Value?” suggesting that we do not value the things that Christ valued based upon how we refuse to disciple others in the way that Christ modeled for us to do so. (By pouring ourselves into just a few people at a time for a few years at a time in such a way that they can & will go and do likewise)

Not only do we want things fast, once we get them we quickly grow discontent with those things we so badly wanted. It intrigues me that we can have such a strong/pure desire to see someone come to know Christ (Neighbor, friend, co-worker, classmate, etc.) that we will pursue/invite them into a relationship with Christ, and think we’re “all done” once they have made a verbal profession of faith, and been Baptized. But, this is only the beginning! When someone commits their life to Christ they have simply committed to beginning a process of discipleship that will go on for the rest of their lives! How have we been tricked into thinking this is the END goal!? This is merely the FIRST step! For the disciples the first step was that they left everything the follow Christ. What if Christ had said, “sweet, I got you to leave everything to follow me, but now you can go ahead back to your life. I just wanted to see if you’d do it”!? Is that not what we do as Christians? We desire someone to “accept Christ”, and when they do we act as if we’re DONE! Picture it: A person has been shadowing us, and watching us. They have allowed us to introduce them to their future Savior. They’ve been wrestling for months with this BIG life decision. They’re finally ready, and we are excited. We lead them through what a decision for Christ means, and maybe Baptize them. Then, we act as if the “job is done” when all along the person thought they were just entering into the beautiful beginning by making that decision!

I know too many stories of people who were led to Christ, and then left high and dry. This is sad to me; I’ve done it before as well. At best we pawn them off to our church “leaders”, or a nearby church to do OUR job, as disciples of Christ, for us. It’s time we step up and take the call to live out the Great Commission seriously. It’s time we actually BE disciples of Christ, and not just call ourselves disciples. We must stop kidding ourselves. We must stop pretending.

So do we truly find value in “making disciples”, or just getting people converted? I would submit that the conversion is the beginning of a discipleship journey that is accompanied by life transformation. We must continue that process with a process of discipleship. May we all search our current lives to see who we are in the process of “leading to Christ”, and who we are discipling.

“Thoughts From The Desert”

Yep, I spent the night in the desert last night. I’m sitting out here at Red Rock at my campsite. Of course, this makes me more of a man, right? Haha! I mean, come on, I haven’t washed my hands since I got here, and I’ve cooked all my meals with the same dirty dishes. (I’ve got my pup here with me; she’s my “dishwasher”-no lie) I’m sitting here in my camping chair with my laptop out-haha, again. I’m been thinking about how this may be one of the last times that I camp alone, or with my wife alone. The next time we camp we will most likely have a little girl with us, our little girl. I am still humbled that the Lord would count me worthy to have such a life as this. I am reminded as I sit here of His grace and healing power in my life. I beg the Lord to continue to heal my brokenness even as I sit here.

“Lord heal and sanctify me that I might be the husband and father that you desire me to be. Teach me how to point my wife and little girl to YOU as their TRUE Father.”

Being in the “wilderness” with Jesus has definitely brought me closer to “being a man”. For example, I didn’t get any sleep last night because I laid in my tent on the hard, rocky ground. Halfway through the night by toes were numb, and I was literally freezing my ass off. How, you ask, does this make me more of a man? Well, it doesn’t other than the fact that I have shown my stubbornness and stupidity like most men do. Silly little things like this remind me of my need for Jesus’ activity in my life. One of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, is known for his yearly trips to a random cave where he goes to be alone with the Father. I am kicking myself for not taking more opportunities to do this before I become a daddy. However, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper gently that it will be “ok”. If all goes as it should I will do my best to be a responsible parent, but the life of my little girl lies completely in the hands of her creator, and hope-to-be Savior. All I can do is model for her the deep need we all have for a Savior, and trust the Spirit to draw her to Himself.

In about 48 hours I’ll get on a plane for Texas, where I’ll reconnect with my wife, who’s belly will have probably doubled in size since the last time I saw her. In that belly is the second girl (Morgan being the first) on either side of our immediate family. I have only one girl cousin on either side of my parent’s family as well. This excites me, however, it may excite our future baby’s grandparents even more! From Dallas we’ll head to Austin to reconnect with some friends, and do a short training with some college-aged world changers. After that I’ll fly into St. Louis, load up a truck, and drive to Orlando with one of my mentors to help facilitate the “missional track” of the annual “exponential church planter’s conference” I nearly wet myself when I think about sitting in front of pastors from all over the country, and share about how our lives have been changed through more organic expressions of the ecclesia. I am humbled to even think about this opportunity. I am sent to my knees in desperate pursuit of Jesus, and the leading of the Holy Spirit for guidance. I beg for the ability to exalt Christ above anyone/anything else. I question my ability to pursue such a task in my broken state. I praise you Christ for using such broken, jacked up people to usher in your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Lord Jesus have your way.

(In the midst of NOT sleeping well all night I did get to see the sunrise coming up from behind the mountains this morning-it was beautiful, and worth a lack of sleep=)

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…

Unity…Whut?

Previous Blog written on April 11th, 2008…

I believe that people all over the world are beginning to realize the need for Unity. For years we thought we could do it on our own. We thought ministry and the growth of the kingdom was some sort of a competition. We thought that the Lord gave US a vision, and that we were to move forward like a fright train pummeling anything in front of us in order to accomplish that vision.

Of course, we rarely see that in scripture. Instead, I see Jesus stooping down to wash the feet of his disciples. I see Him commanding us to put the interests of others before our own, and humbly serve everyone around…yes everyone…(Philippians 2) “you mean even the church planter down the road!? But what if our members go to HIS church and not mine!?” (How a thought like that can even enter any of our minds blows me away)

I have come to the conclusion that a main reason we haven’t seen Biblical unity among the body here in the states is because if it happened God would get the Glory. We don’t like that. We want the glory, and we rob God of the glory He deserves because our flesh wants recognition, and approval. We SAY we want God to get glory, but our actions prove otherwise. We say we want to grow the kingdom no matter what, but it usually translates into growing OUR kingdom. When true unity begins to happen is when pastors, leaders, planters, missionaries, etc. begin to humbly serve those around them EVEN if it does not directly benefit THEIR thing, but the others.

Unity happens when we count the interests of others as equally important as our own. Once again, this will be difficult because for this to happen ONLY God can take credit, and receive glory for it. I beg, and pray that we would desire His glory more than our own. “Father, set us free from our fleshly desires…our desires that rob you of the glory you deserve.”