“Preaching” vs. “Good Teaching”

A close friend of mine who I love and respect asked me this question over text message a couple weeks ago:

“What role does preaching play in simple/house churches? Strengths, weaknesses, ways it could grow, ways it could teach the church.”

This friend of mine has been a part of many types of churches. We have also had the pleasure of starting a house church with his family and some others. He is sharp, loves Jesus, and wants the best for The Church. We have an incredible relationship, and sharpen one another in the areas we may disagree. The mutual respect is refreshing in a day in time where it seems all anyone wants to do is argue their viewpoint. My friend places a high value on “good teaching” (primarily in the form of sermon style preaching) I do not yet have the answer to this “issue” in terms of a house church setting. Below are the initial thoughts I sent back to him via email regarding this topic based upon our observations and past several years pursuing Jesus in the context of simple/organic/house church settings: (Would love to hear your thoughts on either/both ends of the spectrum. Us “house churchers” definitely have a lot to learn about how to champion “good teaching” & placing a high value on the Word of God in our various settings)

“Hey buddy,

The role of “preaching” in simple/house/organic churches is relatively non-existent in my experience. However, in some older generations of house churches their gatherings look much like a typical church service in a living room. The only difference is the type of structure they meet in…(even chairs in rows, and a podium, etc.-haha!=) In our experience (much different from the above described older generation HC’s) we have moved from a desire for good “preaching” to the pursuit of healthy’good “teaching”. (These are not synonymous in my mind, and the minds of many we have observed/practiced with) You see, many of us spent most of our lives listening to sermons. While they are not completely absent from the lives of those pursuing “house church”, it typically does NOT happen in a house church gathering for various reasons, and on purpose. (many may continue to find good sermons online and enjoy listening to them for various reasons) Our reasons for not involving “sermon style teaching” are numerous, but the most basic are below:

1) Practically speaking it has been proven that humans retain about 20% of what they hear. The percentage goes up drastically as you factor in SEEING (visual), WRITING, DOING, etc. So, I look at it (preaching) as a very use of time/energy based upon those findings. I know that growing up I was lucky to remember more than 1-2 “good points” I heard from a sermon. I might remember a bit more if I took notes-rarely would those notes be referenced in the future.

2) In a HC setting there is a high value for EVERYONE participating. If one person is PREACHING this becomes difficult, and we fall right back into spectators coming to hear a sermon. We place a high value on the Holy Spirit speaking to every believer, and know that Spirit speaks to everyone for the mutual edification of the body.

3) So, we seek for what we feel to be more effective ways to “teach”/equip the body. Of course, we are far from figuring this out, and it constantly changes as we pursue being more effective. Here are some examples of things we’ve done in the past:
-Inductive studies: these involve little to no “prep work” on the part of anyone, but make it easy for a believer of any age (including a brand new believer) to be empowered to play an active role. Sometimes ONE person WILL do some before hand research or read commentaries, etc. in order to guide the group as tough questions come up. This usually involves helping the group to understanding the historical context of the scripture, who is writing, who they are writing to, etc.
-Breaking up into groups to discuss portions of scripture. Coming back together to share findings/revelations/etc.
-Sharing at random what the Lord has been speaking to individuals throughout the week during their own personal time, etc.
-Reading through a section of scripture together and then discussing it as a church family. This is so fun because everyone involved has different backgrounds, knowledge, perspective, etc. Everyone benefits, and walks away sharpened, more equipped, and knowledgeable of the scriptures.

These are just some off the top of my head thoughts/responses to your question. I do think that “GOOD TEACHING” could improve in HC’s, and a higher value placed on studying/knowing scripture. However, I’m not convinced that this will be in the form of sermon style preaching. Again, preaching and teaching are much different to me. I also cannot ignore the sermon style preaching that is found in scripture. I wonder, though, if these types of “preaching moments” took place more in the form of evangelistic pursuits rather than the day to day equipping of disciples who make up the Church…this plays into my strong feelings about church services not being for the purpose of evangelism. Most sermons or churches try to accomplish both discipleship and evangelism in a once/week sermon. This is impossible to do, and BOTH get watered down/suffer.”

Again, I’d love to hear any thoughts/additions from you guys from your experience/convictions regarding this topic. Have fun, and keep it civil! =)

 

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“Permission” – Part Two…

(Part one of “Permission” can be found HERE)

In His grace, Jesus has allowed us to be a part of these incredible people’s lives. The King Street House Church family was birthed after a group of these young people went through Student CPx in Austin two summers ago, and then helped me run SCPx Austin this past summer. In the last few months I have had the pleasure of watching this house church community flourish & grow into a healthy spiritual family. There are some things about what is happening with this group of radical young people that I think are worth taking a look at. Below are some things that come to my mind when I think about these close friends. (You read in “Permission” Part 1 about the team of 7 this house church is sending out to S. Asia over Winter break to train University students there to plant house churches)

What is unique about this community?

1) It is completely lay-led (There is no paid staff) – There is something powerful about a group of people who are pursuing the Kingdom in radical ways when there is no paychecks or any kind of financial gain attached…They birthed, lead, and pursue the healthy growth of this family out of the pure love for Jesus in their hearts.

2) It was birthed by women in their early 20’s – I almost did not mention this because it seems so normal and natural to me – like, “so, what’s the big deal?” However, after thinking through it I realized how unique and POWERFUL this really is because of the negative view that MANY have towards women in “leadership” or “ministry” in the American Church. Anyone who sees what God is doing in this community would have a tough time arguing their opposing view-point about women not being able to be in positions of leadership/authority in the Kingdom of God.

3) It is healthy, producing NEW disciples, and releasing people to walk in their gifts (Men are being raised up to lead) – This has not been easy, and without much pain, mistakes, failures, etc. I’ve seen and been a part of communities with “strategies for multiplication”, and others who are complacent; both are dangerous. The strategic ones bring death to relationship for the sake of sticking to a formula, and the others never see the beautiful power of the Gospel working in the lives of new people. This community seems to walk out a decent “balance”. They are quick to recognize when things are “off” and fix it. They hear God’s voice, and have faith to obey what He says. It’s hard to be a spectator in this community.

4) They have a deep desire to see new house churches planted all over the place, and have already seen a few planted since August! I have been in many different streams of church planting all over the world in the past few years. Nowhere have I seen twenty year-old’s who have BIRTHED and are leading new churches where new believers are being Baptized as a part of the natural DNA of how they “function and grow”. Not only that, but they are sending others out in two’s to start new “spiritual families”. They don’t have it all figured out, & are not perfect, but what God has done with them in the past year puts most “church planting strategies” I’ve seen in my life to shame. God seems to be showing off through the lives of some humble/passionate young people.

5) The power of God is present. I have also been in various environments in the past few years that seem “spiritually dead”, as well as others that are freakin’ CRAZY, which seem far from the nature and character of God. AKA: very conservative & highly charismatic. This community can be placed in neither of those camps. However, the power of God through the work of His Holy Spirit displayed through the obedience of these radical followers of Jesus is not arguable. They are seeing supernatural physical, spiritual, and emotional healing take place. They are seeing the fruit of the Spirit displayed in people’s lives (Gal. 5:22-23) as well as the power of the gifts of the Spirit on a regular basis. They are not afraid.

6) They walk in a humility & refusal to pursue personal gain/attention that is like nothing I have experienced in most of my life.

I suppose I could go on and on. I want to make it clear that I am not bragging on anything other than the miraculous work of Jesus in the lives of these people. We like to call out the Christ-like qualities of Jesus we see in people as a way to edify them, and bring glory to Jesus. We are not “puffing them up”, but recognizing the redeeming work of Jesus in their lives. Obviously, I care about these people a lot. I am so proud of the Jesus I see in them, and wanted to share them with you a bit. I hope it has encouraged your Spirit.

The Shack – Don’t Hate.

I love this book, and have read it several times. It has had a bad rap in evangelical circles because a few well-known, and influential pastors have spoken out against it for various reasons. That bugs me a bit, because at least one of those pastors has admitted to not reading the book himself in a blog post about why the book is heretical. Interesting…seems to me that reviewing a book without having read it is a bit more dangerous than a novel about the a man who loses his daughter, and then has a supernatural encounter with the Triune God. I have had several friends “call me out” (Jokingly, of course) for reading the book as well. When I asked them if they’ve read it they replied, “no, but (fill in the blank of well-known pastor’s name here) said in a sermon I listened to online that it was heretical.” Wow. What a lovely culture we have created. People now think it’s ok critique (JUDGE) something based upon what someone else has said who has also judged that same thing based upon what they heard from someone ELSE. Scary.

That being said, I would encourage everyone to read this book for yourself. Yes, even if your pastor said you shouldn’t. It’s a wonderful book for many reasons. Whether you are just looking for a leisurely story, or to glean from the author’s deep insight of the Kingdom and God’s purpose for His Church you will gain much from this story.

Last night while reading I came across a section from one of my favorite chapters (ch. 12) of the book that I wanted to share with you…you will quickly see why I enjoy this book so much, and maybe these little snippets will coax you to read the entire story…

The main character, Mack, is having a conversation with Jesus about life, the Church, the Kingdom, etc.

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Mack, just asked Jesus about heaven…

“Mack, our final destiny is not the picture of Heaven that you have stuck in your head-you know, the image of pearly gates and streets of gold. Instead it’s a new cleansing of this universe , so it will indeed look a lot like here.”

“Then what’s with the pearly gates and gold stuff?”

“That stuff, my brother, is a picture of me and the woman I’m in love with.”

Mack looked down at Him to see if He was joking, but He obviously wasn’t.

“It is a picture of my bride, the Church; individuals who together form a spiritual city with a living river flowing through the middle, and on both shores trees of growing with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nations. And this city is always open, and each gate into it is made of a single pearl…” He opened one eye and looked at Mack.

“That would be me!” He saw Mack’s question, and explained, “Pearls, Mack. The only precious stone made by pain, suffering and-finally-death.”

“I get it. You are the way in, but-” Mack paused, searching for the right words. “You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m pretty sure I haven’t met her.” He turned away slightly. “She’s not the place I go on Sundays,” Mack said more to himself, unsure if that was safe to say out loud.

“Mack, that’s because you’re only seeing the institution, a man-made system. That’s not what I came to build. What I see are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs.”

Mack was a bit taken back to hear Jesus talking about “church” this way, but then again, it didn’t really surprise him. It was a relief. “So how do I become part of that church?” he asked. “This woman you seem to be so gaga over.”

“It’s simple, Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing right now-just doing this-and being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it”, Jesus said with a chuckle.

For Mack these words were like a breath of fresh air! Simple. Not a bunch of exhausting work and long lists of demands, and not the sitting in endless meetings staring at the backs of people’s heads, people he really didn’t even know. Just sharing life. “Bit, wait-“Mack had a jumble of questions starting to surface. Maybe he had misunderstood. This seemed TOO simple. Again he caught himself. Perhaps it was because humans are so utterly lost and independent that we take what is simple and make it complex? So he thought twice about messing with what he was beginning to understand. To begin asking his jumbled mess of questions at this moment felt like throwing a dirt clod into a little pool of clear water.

“Never mind,” was all he said.

“Mack, you don’t need to have it all figured out. Just be with me….”

“…I really do want to understand. I mean, I find the way you are so different from all the well-intentioned religious stuff I’m familiar with.”

“As well-intentioned as it might be, you know that religious machinery can chew up people!” Jesus said with a bite of His own. “An awful lot of what is done in my name has nothing to do with me and is often, even if unintentional , very contrary to my purposes.”

“You’re not too fond of religion and institutions?” Mack said, not sure if he was asking a question or making an observation.

“I don’t create institutions-never have, never will.”

“What about the institution of marriage?”

“Marriage is not an institution. It’s a relationship.” Jesus paused, his voice steady and patient. “Like I said, I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God. So no, I’m not too big on religion,” Jesus said a little sarcastically, “and not very fond of politics or economics either.” Jesus’ visage darkened noticeably. “And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three? Put simply, these terrors are tools that many use to prop up their illusions of security and control. People are afraid of uncertainty, afraid of the future. These institutions, these structures and ideologies, are all a vain effort to create some sense of certainty and security where there isn’t any. It’s all false! Systems cannot provide you security, only I can.”

“Woah!” was all Mack could think. The landscape of how he, and just about everyone he knew, had sought to manage and navigate their lives was being reduced to little more than rubble…

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It’s just keeps getting better and better. Not sure if you noticed it or not, but there was a section in there that I can see why it would “threaten” the power and control some have over others through the institutions they have started and are in charge of. What the book is suggesting threatens to “reduce that to rubble”. I can see why the book is “warned against” inside the walls of institutions….

I hope you will get the book and enjoy the heck out of it. It truly is a touching story, one that will bring tears to your eyes, and new life to your heart. If you have any comments regarding the book, or this post please refrain from sharing them if you have not read the book (in FULL). If you have, and feel the need to share then please do. I am sure the book is not “theologically perfect”, but what is. We have the Holy Spirit in us to discern truth and untruth. There is a lot of TRUTH in this book. There is also some things that may need to be read with a “grain of salt”, as in any book you read that is not the Bible. Enjoy!

Humbled.

What would it take for me as a believer to walk in the truth of your Spirit’s leading every moment of every day as if I were a missionary to another country? I bet if I lived overseas in as missionaries everything would be an opportunity for the Gospel to be proclaimed or demonstrated. Everything would be worthy of prayer, and seeking you. Leaving the house would require a “sent off” prayer, and time of asking for the Spirit’s leading. Why don’t I do that here? It’s as if my life is too busy with the things of this world that I still have two separate lives. One of them is my passionate pursuit of you, and the other is the life/world that I’ve created for myself just to “get by” on this earth until I go to heaven. What it be like if I lived each moment as if it were an opportunity to usher in the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?

Lord, I want that. I earnestly desire that. Do I desire it enough to wake up early in the mornings to pray and seek you earnestly? Hmmmm….Do I desire it enough to step out in faith hundreds of times each day to pray over someone, share the Gospel, or speak a word of truth/knowledge into someone else’s life? I can hardly step out to follow through with simple things you’ve given me to do like pray over my wife/baby/family…much less random strangers. Lord, do a work in me today, please, that pushes me (by the power of your Spirit) to begin a more disciplined, pro-active, and diligent pursuit of living a constant kingdom lifestyle. Continue to show me how that can grow and blossom more each day. Protect me from the busyness of this life, and from my own self-created “responsibilities”. May you begin to show me what YOU desire, and may that begin to be bigger/more important than my own desires. I trust that it doesn’t take a “special trip” overseas, or a weekend away with you, but a simple availability to the power of your Holy Spirit’s activity in my life. Challenge me and humble me more and more each day. Give me a humility that allows others to speak into my life and challenge the ruts I allow myself to slip into. At the same time give me a discernment that knows what is from you, and what is from the enemy. Remind me daily of the promises you’ve made in your word, and through revelation. Blow me away by the power of your Spirit in my life and the lives of those around me. Do this today Jesus. I make my self completely available to you right now, in this moment. May this moment last for the rest of my life. When the moment slips away countless times throughout the day place in me an awareness of you that hinders the absence of the moment from lasting a blink. This is my prayer this morning…

“One things I ask, one thing I desire, is to know you, and be known by you. Single minded, whole-hearted, one thing I ask…is to be single minded…whole-hearted.”

May this pursuit take place within the reality that you have already accomplished this in my life. What YOU have already done for me means that I already have victory in these areas of life. May this pursuit be partnered only with the weightlessness of the cross that you bore. May it carry with it the truth that “your burden is easy and your yoke is light”. The moment I chose you began this journey that begins and ends in victory.

Proclamation & Demonstration…

Before I start I will warn you that this post will be bent towards the Gospel being “Demonstrated”. Obviously, both are necessary & Biblical. However, because we have seemingly focused more on one side (proclaiming) for so long we may need an extreme kick in the butt to move us back towards a healthy balance of both. So, I don’t want any comments about how there must be “both” – let that be a known theme throughout the post. =)

gospel-fight

Many of us who are professed Christians have been raised with a wonderful set of beliefs, doctrinal statements, moral code, and can, if put on the spot, share that set of beliefs with just about anyone. Those who accepted Christ later in life probably became indoctrinated very quickly. We have been taught about the importance of “sharing our faith” (The Gospel) with others. There are TONS of resources on effective ways to “communicate the Gospel”, or proclaim it to others. Many of them are wonderful-a lot of them are not. From handing out Gospel tracks to learning practical ways to share “our story” (Testimony) there seems to be a very strong push in America towards a Proclaimed Gospel….

Over the years we Christians have become very good conversationalists, debaters, authors, persuaders, & defenders of our set of beliefs. There have been thousands of books/blogs written not only on sharing the Gospel (with words), but also defending the Gospel. The Gospel message is powerful in and of itself. But, why has the Gospel (“good news”) been reduced to mere words shared from one person to another? Why have we settled for a proclaimed Gospel masterfully crafted with the right words in order that we may wrap our minds around it? We have become brilliant “wordsmiths” in our pursuit of trying to convince unbelievers they should agree with us, and accept Jesus like we have. Was the Gospel meant to only be “proclaimed”, or did God have something else in mind?

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

Wow. These few verses are littered with the Gospel’s transforming power in the lives of the Thessalonians. It also depicts how the Gospel was proclaimed “with words” AND demonstrated “in power”. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of only trying to convince unbelievers they should “think like I think”, or “believe what I believe”. Oh, and the whole “let’s SHOW them the Gospel with our actions”/”social Gospel” thing is not what I’m talking about either. (Not that those are bad things-just NOT what I’m getting at) In my struggle with this I went to check out what Jesus did…

Throughout the Gospels it would appear as if Jesus’ favorite thing to do was physically heal those in need. In fact, over half the stories of Jesus doing anything in His life involved miracles, and supernatural events taking place. In fact, many times Jesus uses very little words when interacting with those who don’t yet “know Him”. Think about a few off the top of your head… “Your sins are forgiven, rise, take up your mat and walk”, “your faith has healed you”, “Come out of this man you evil spirit!” He then tells that same man, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Does anyone else find it interesting that Jesus did not feel the need to sit down with them for hours to “make sure they understood” what had just happened? It’s also funny that He didn’t enroll them in a “new members class” or discipleship study group. We could go on for hours. The point is that Jesus not only proclaimed His message and the “good news” through teaching, or sharing with words, but he also demonstrated it with POWER. That power was through His Holy Spirit. He gave that same Holy Spirit to US…

John 14:12 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

newsupdate071508bClick the picture to read about this boy being healed…

Yes, your Bible says it too. Go check. It says that we will do even greater things than those things we see in scripture-because He is going to the Father. Later in Acts we read about the Holy Spirit being left on the earth for The Church as Jesus went to heaven.

We don’t like to think about these things because we can’t wrap our minds around them. We are logical people. Supernatural things & miracles are illogical. We ignore things that we can’t explain with our cunning words, and hide from things we don’t understand. So, we go through our entire lives dismissing them, and convince ourselves that “the supernatural” doesn’t exist. The God I serve is a supernatural God-yes, still.

Frankly, I have no desire to “go to bat” with my life for anything less than a supernaturally powerful, Creator God. Many of us believe in Jesus with our minds. I’m not so sure that as many of us believe in Jesus with our hearts. “Jesus doesn’t live in our minds, He lives in our hearts”, is something my friend Brian Orme said one time that really rocked my boat. We must ask ourselves, “Am I Christian based upon a list of beliefs that I’ve subscribed to, or based upon the POWER of the Holy Spirit moving in my life like we see in 1 Thess. above?”

A quick word of warning for those of you who begin to step out in faith and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit: God is interested in your obedience to Him. HE will produce the fruit. Do not allow worry, fear, or a heavy weight to press down on you as you begin to step out in faith. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) I can promise you from personal experience that as you step out in obedience more the Lord, who sees your faith in little things will trust you with greater things. Walking in the faith and power of the Holy Spirit is not easy. It takes time and practice. It also takes discernment to listen to God’s voice and be LED by the Spirit.

This past week my family and I have spent time begging God for more. More of His Spirit, more power, & more faith. We ask Him to Baptize us with His Holy Spirit, and POUR His Spirit out on us to empower us for works of service. We have been intentionally looking for opportunities to step out in faith, and see the Gospel Demonstrated in Power. Will you join us…?

Another Point of View…

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From Lauren, the student in Austin who desired to see a SCPx take place:

“I must say Student CPx Austin far surpassed my expectations. I always
hear people say, “If you’re vision seems possible to accomplish, then
you’re not dreaming big enough.” Real visions should be so extreme, so
ridiculous, so unlikely, that only God could do it. What happened at
CPx was so extreme, so ridiculous, and so unlikely, that looking back
I know it was all God who did it. I’m like, God I couldn’t even dream
that up if I tried.

So this is how I measure fruit- not by how powerful the worship was,
not by a number count of how many people came to Christ, nor by how
many people came to the training…. real fruit = personal
transformation. And that’s exactly what we saw.

Short memories pass through my mind of moments that are hard to think
about without crying. The tears that came from a simple prayer
breaking off generational curses. The intense freedom and joy that
released God’s children into dancing as two students got baptized, not
as a ceremony like the first time, but as a celebration. Guys, yes
guys, weeping at the effects of the church coming together in genuine
care, relationship, and fellowship; the profound contrast between
being used in order to advance someone’s ministry… and being
loved… in order to be loved. I remember Jesus baptizing some
students in ways that we couldn’t… with the Holy Spirit and with
fire. And the grateful response to being healed… by the One who’s
favorite activity is to heal every type of sickness and disease.
Students leaving with new outlooks on life, with testimonies bound to
be repeated, with a vision that chills the flesh, and a hunger that
cannot be satisfied. Three teams forming, one that will shake and
transform Joplin, Missouri, one that will fill TCU with God’s glory,
and one that will usher in the long-due revival at UT. And we will
never forget that night of prayer when we lingered in the presence of
Jesus together till our bodies demanded sleep. “His presence is life.
His absence is death.” We heard it from Brian, but we learned it from
experience.

I can’t handle the history. I just freak out. Two students named
Joshua and Caleb begin to pray and preach, longing for a move of God
they never saw with their eyes… but something was shifting the
spiritual realm. Simultaneously Lee Myers begins to bring the kingdom
of God to earth, walking in faith and healing the sick… before
disease attacks back and takes his life. God marks the students. And
then He calls forth fathers and mothers. They all begin to see the
vision that was in His eyes… all at the same time… and by destiny
they find each other and start the first Student CPx. One year later,
there are three Student CPx’s. And two of those who attended were the
first fruits of the first CPx. The story continues. The weave of divine
appointments continues to tangle, and the tree that started as a tiny
seed continues to grow, until soon all the birds of the air will find
shelter there. Sam Lee said at the first CPx, “If we were to witness
the glory of God’s plan, we would die.”
Just a glance into a fragment
of it, and I’m feeling sick. All I can say is, prepare the way of the
Lord.

There is nobody who can do what our Jesus just did. I can hear Kirk
Franklin calling…”Can I get a witness in the house?!”

“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=)