Compound Interest…

***I promise this post is not about finances & investments!***

“If you would just set aside $100.00 each month starting NOW then you would be a millionaire by age 65!”

My mother has told me this several times since I was about 18. Many of you have probably heard something similar to this scenario as well. It is very true, though I do not personally know anyone in real life who has ever done it. Apparently, some sort of a mathematical phenomenon takes place when you make a small investment each month into various types of mutual funds/investments, which accrue a compounding interest. Basically, you earn interest on the principle amount that you invest each month, but you also begin to earn a return on the interest as well. Somewhere down the line you see an explosion, but it takes time. You can’t argue with basic math. The small investment each month WILL multiply into a LARGE sum of money in the window of about 40 years.

What I am submitting now is that there is exponential value in this particular pursuit of discipleship; what I believe to be the “way Jesus did things”. Again, we just don’t like it because it might take longer; heck, we may never even get to see the fruit from it. We will not get glory for it, or should I say we will no longer be able to rob God of the glory HE deserves. However, we can be assured that if we take the challenge to pour into just a few people at a deep level we are doing exactly what Christ called us to do, and there will be an explosion somewhere down the line. We can be assured that the disciples we are making WILL make more disciples (Otherwise we can’t say we’ve effectively discipled them in the first place).

Here’s a quick video illustrating what this might “look like” if we did it. Many of you have already seen this video, but it’s worth a re-watch.

It seems so easy doesn’t it. So why don’t we do it? I assume it is the same reason that I have never met anyone who has actually become a millionaire by investing $100 a month into a mutual fund. However, if we dared to take the challenge might we wake up in forty years to see that the Holy Spirit has swept through our land to raise up a holy army of kingdom warriors? And this, all because we found value  pouring our everything into a few people for a few years against all outside pressure from the world around us. At every turn the “world around us” screams that we are wasting our time on small/insignificant things when we could be “allowing the Lord to do great things through us”. May we not be seduced by that lie any longer. Jesus save us from ourselves, and replace what we value with what YOU value.

“Airbags”

All-new Hyundai Accent, 3-door version - 6 standard airbags.From the beginning of “Intentional Gatherings” we have made it a point never to think that we have it all figured out. We believe that the second we start thinking we have it all figured out is the second we become closed off to allowing necessary change, and therefore, become ineffective. It would appear that many in America have lost touch with this idea of continuous improvement. It seems somewhat ignorant to believe that the way we do things RIGHT NOW will be the best way to do things in six months, right?

This all makes me think of the automobile industry. Years ago, people did not wear seat belts. Many people died. So, changes were made, and seat belts were required. At first, waist straps were implemented. This worked well, but was not completely effective. Automakers soon realized that they needed to implement a shoulder strap to provide further protection from collision. Seat belts save lives. Wear your seat belt! However, people continued to die in tragic accidents even while wearing their seat belt. So, necessary changes were made…

The airbag came onto the scene. What an amazing invention. The airbag was designed to save lives, which it did. However, there are two important things about airbags that we must remember: 1) Without its partner, the seat belt, airbags are not only ineffective, but dangerous, & 2) Airbags can kill children. Automobile manufacturers are pretty good about making changes, and fixing things that are unsafe. I wonder sometimes if “the church” in America is like the airbag. (I use this term “the church” in reference to our current form of church in American, and very loosely because it means so many different things to so many different people, few of which are correct. This probably includes myself; I beg the Lord daily to teach me what it truly means that as His follower I am, and you are, The Church.) The airbag is an amazing thing. It saves lives, and does great things. But through time those who implemented the airbag realized some things about it. If a small child was involved in an accident, and the airbags deployed it would kill them. The airbag was not effective at saving the lives of smaller children. Our current form of church in America (Institution) is an amazing thing. It saves souls, and it does great things. Period. Anyone who tries to argue that is disillusioned. The institution, just like the airbag, has the potential to spiritually kill if necessary changes are not made. Is the institution bad, wrong, or lost? No. However, it may have become ineffective in many ways by allowing stubborn pride to hinder it from making the appropriate changes.

Soon children under a certain age were prohibited from riding in the front seat, and some cars had the ability to turn off the airbag feature. But wait, the airbag is a great thing, right? Why would anyone want to turn it off? How devastating would it have been if auto manufacturers would have only focused on the saved lives resulting from the airbag while ignoring the child fatalities? I pray that we, as The Church, will celebrate the good, but welcome the opportunity for change and the constant pursuit of effectiveness. This type of change only comes through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Are we spiritually starving the next generation because we feel they are supposed to be “doing church” like we did growing up? Are we pushing the lost away because our arrogant, self-righteous pride has taken over the call on our lives to usher in the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven?

There are guys in the “emergent/organic/simple/house church” movement who are somewhat disenfranchised with the church as an institution. Many of them have taken up a new hobby of bad mouthing the church that doesn’t look like theirs, which happens to meet in a living room. This is a terrible approach. Not only does this cause even more division among the body of Christ, it is arrogant and prideful. Philippians chapter 2 speaks of a unification that occurs through humility. Thinking that I am right and everyone else is wrong is not humility, and cannot birth unity. The issue is not a debate between who is right and who is wrong. Too often in the church time is wasted arguing and discussing who’s right about this and that, who does church “right”, who’s doctrine is correct, etc. I wonder if the Lord isn’t thinking to Himself, “man, they just don’t get it…I thought I made it pretty clear in my word that their purpose is to glorify me, and become more like me.” On that note, I cannot help but think to myself what would happen if the church in America began taking the teachings of Jesus seriously. We’d see rich professionals giving everything they have to the poor and radically following Jesus. We’d see “neat Christians” decide that it’s “ok” for them to NOT be comfortable ALL the time and have perfect, secure, and happy little lives. Shane Claiborne says, “I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning, and when the rich meet the poor poverty will come to an end.” Nicely put.

The root issue seems to be pride. We do things a certain way, our way. We do them for a certain period of time, and it soon shifts from our way to the right way. We then presume to volunteer everyone around us to do things our way, convincing them that it’s The Way. What would it look like if the church stopped getting so set in its ways and tied up in tradition, but allowed the Holy Spirit to lead in a consistent way? Obviously, this would require much humility, and a raised awareness of allowing change.

“Father, as your followers would You burn into us a spirit of humility. May we never allow our prideful flesh to convince us that we figured it out. Show us where You are, and where You’re going so we may follow. Motivate us to action and cause us to embrace doing things differently. Prepare your Church, your Bride, for your return.”

Student Church Planting Movements

I have been in Lawrence, Kansas since early Monday morning. I was asked by my friend Erik Fish to come here and speak, along with several others, to a group of about 35 college students about starting “missional communities” on their college campuses. This training that Erik, and the “Campus Church Network” crew (Jaeson Ma, Sam Lee, Benson Lee) has organized is called “Student CPx“.

It has been such a blessing this week to share with students that they can be part of a CPM even…especially while in college! These guys & girls are pumped, passionate, and excited. There was no deconstruction process to go through for why “this & that” is wrong, broken, or ineffective. Praise Christ! I did not have to spend any time trying to convince them to simply hear me out on the topic of “missional community” multiplication. They were hungry for the story of “Intentional Gatherings” in Ft. Worth, and what we are up to in Las Vegas. They wanted to hear practical ways we seek to foster intimate community among believers for the purpose of accountability, discipleship, service, and reproduction. They asked all of the right questions; many of which I simply could not answer, but encouraged them to begin “writing their own story”.

As I’ve spent time with different students on an individual basis throughout the week it gives me such hope, and excitement to think that they are embarking on a journey that could result in the rapid spread of the Gospel throughout America. These students are from different college campuses all over the country. Five different countries are represented, as well as almost 15 different states. All 35 students will return back to their campuses and start simple churches, or “missional communities” that reproduce…if they have not already done so. This excites me.

I sat around the table for dinner tonight with, who I truly believe are some of the sharpest minds in the organic/simple church reproduction “world”. It was a true pleasure, and blessing from God to share in kingdom centered conversation with these guys. Jaeson Ma, with all of his energy and excitement shared dreams and visions the Lord has given him recently. Erik Fish shared a beautiful opportunity the Lord has placed in his lap between two amazing organizations. Neil Cole, in his humble wisdom breathed discerment into the entire conversation after sharing with us a key element that must be present in a CPM here in the states. We dreamed and brainstormed about some potentially huge things in terms of kingdom growth and CPM’s. I have certainly learned more here in Kansas than I have taught, and pray this is the case everywhere I go.

“Jesus, we pray for a student volunteer movement to sweep across this country throughout college campuses in the form of “missional communities” being started and multiplied. Use us, release us, and set us free.”

“Gospel Authority in the Upside Down Kingdom…”

I am currently in the middle of a series of posts titled, “All Mixed Up, Don’t Know What To Do”. However, the Lord has been teaching, and speaking to me through prayer, community, and one of my mentors about the authority of the Gospel in the upside down kingdom of Jesus. I will pick back up with the “All Mixed Up” series very shortly…

In the I.G. community here in our neighborhood we have committed to walking the streets every Friday morning at 7am to cover our neighbors in prayer. God has given us a desperate heart for this hood, and it’s sanctification. This is where we live, and we feel influenced to seek it’s welfare through deep relationships with those who live here as well. As we were walking the streets, and praying this past Friday the Lord gifted us with a beautiful realization about His authority, His Gospel, His Spirit that lives in us, and what that implies for those of us who call Jesus our Savior.

In man’s kingdom the word authority has a particular meaning. Many of us, myself included, are a bit rebellious by nature, and have had “issues with authority” throughout most of our lives. (The words of my amazing Dad!) Some of us relate the word to a husband & wife in the context of marriage, though often times not Biblical. We think of teachers, police officers, judges, managers, and bosses as having authority. Many of us are under the authority of someone, but also have authority over others. Regardless of which of the above examples we subscribe to the underlying theme is that of a power, or influence over others through control. The dictionary definition of authority is, “the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.” Whether accurate, or inaccurate this is the view many of us have in regard to the word authority. The thoughts we have on words like authority are the result of our upbringing, culture, technology, country, education, and so much more. Sadly, this default meaning for the word authority we have acquired has tainted our ability to understand the authority that Jesus speaks of in His upside down kingdom. This is something that we will forever be handicapped by as we seek to pursue ushering in the kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
When Jesus walked the earth He challenged all the norms, thus we have the phrase “upside down kingdom”. There are many examples of how Jesus did this throughout scripture, but we will focus on His view of authority. As we saw earlier, man’s idea of authority stems from influence by control. We can all agree that our bosses have some degree of authority over us. They control, or influence the way we do things in many ways. A police officer has the authority to pull us over, ticket us, or arrest us. Jesus submits a different idea of authority in His upside down kingdom.

What if authority was not through control, or causing someone to submit to us, but rather something that was naturally awarded us as a result of love and service? For example, I submit to Christ, and His authority in my life as a result of His love for me. Jesus extended grace to me, and served me on the cross. My response to His actions are a willing submission to Him, and His authority in my life. He does not have to twist my arm, control, persuade, bribe, or compensate me to gain my submission to Him, which is not the case for most relationships we are in where someone has authority over us. We submit to our boss’s authority because he will fire us if we do not. We submit to our teachers because they have the ability to fail us. We submit to the police officer because he has a gun, and to the judge because he can put us in prison. Jesus’ authority is not a result of control of, or power over our individual lives. His authority in our lives is a result of us responding to Him, who He is, and what He did for us.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Mark 10:45

This is how the triune God chose to gain authority “over” His children; by being under them. (Kneeling to wash the feel of His disciples & accepting a punishment for people who didn’t deserve it to gain them access to the creator of the universe.) He did not put His thumb on our heads, and push down. He came to serve us, and die for us to complete a task that we ourselves could not; He raised the bar, and set the standard for how we are to live. That is the authority He has in my life. My deep appreciation for His grace causes me to submit to his authority. He did not force authority, or control.

This is the authority that we are invited to have in the lives of our neighborhood if we emulate the actions of Jesus. The Jesus inside of us kneels down to serve, and “wash the feet of our neighbors”. We serve, love, and build a relationship with those who live around us. We, through humble service, earn a voice in the lives of those we have grown to love; those who have also grown to love us. We have now not only sought to share the Gospel in words, but with the actions of our lives. Hidden agendas are non-existent, and ulterior motives nowhere to be found. Through modeling the life of Jesus we have now, by accident, gained authority in the lives of our new friends. Actually, the Spirit of Jesus living in us has now gained authority by our obedience, and submission to Him.

These realizations are what led to our prayer for the neighborhood this past Friday morning. As we walked down Lorilyn Ave. I prayed that the Gospel, and love of Jesus would have authority in the lives of those who live in this neighborhood. I prayed that we, by the power of the Spirit of God living in us, would be made able to love and serve the people in this neighborhood in such a way that would cause them to respond appropriately. I prayed that the authority of Jesus, His Spirit, and His Gospel would reflect the upside down kingdom. We do not desire to have an oppressive, controlling, consequence fueled, and forced authority in this neighborhood. We begged the Lord to show us ways that we can come not to be served, but to serve our neighbors. We truly believe that as we move forward and reflect the upside down kingdom of Jesus that it would place a bent towards Jesus in the hearts of those who do not know Him as Savior.

Jesus, may Your Gospel have authority & power in this neighborhood not through control, but through your followers humbly living out that Gospel. As we live a Spirit led life, may it gain a supernatural authority, presence, and voice in the lives of those who do not know You as Savior. Amen.”