A Kingdom Paradox {one of many}

A quick thought from my personal worship time with Christ this morning…thoughts?

It seems that we have pursued (Been taught to pursue) personal fulfillment, comfort, “self-help”, & our own happiness in our religious pursuits. Because of this we do not know how to actually hear God’s voice and be obedient. Even if we learn to hear/know God’s voice (based upon scripture, prayer & other disciplines) we don’t seem to have the capacity/faith to obey it because it usually is not what is easy/comfortable. (Most of what we have been taught in our Christian pursuit is how to manage our personal relationship with God, avoid sin, and be “happy” as a Christian) Everything we’ve pursued in our Christian life was in pursuit of comfort and an “easier” life. If something “hard” does come along we write it off as “persecution”, and the enemy trying to attack us.

“Lord, continue to teach me how to hear your voice, and obey even if it goes completely against what seems logical at the moment. Grow my faith to trust what you’re up to. I can say it all day, but I want you to give me opportunities to act out those tough decisions in real life. Thank you that there is grace for it all.”

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”.

Beloved…

Not trying to be lame, and post other people’s stuff; Derek Webb is just so legit. I’ve listened to him for years, but the words to his songs are coming alive more and more as I listen lately. This song is called “Beloved”, and is another one of Derek’s “letters to the church”… (He is NOT writing this to a form, model, or institution. He is directing this at the people of God who make up His Church-keep that in mind as you read or listen)

“Beloved” – By Derek Webb

beloved these are dangerous times
because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine
and the wind has blown you all over town
because there is nothing holding you to the ground

so now you would rather be
a slave again than free from the law

(chorus)
beloved listen to me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need
but ME

beloved these are perilous days
when your culture is so set in it’s ways
that you will listen to salesmen and thieves
preaching other than the truth you’ve received

because they are telling lies
for they cannot circumcise your hearts

(chorus)

beloved listen to me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need
but ME

beloved there is nothing more
no more blessings and no more rewards
than the treasure of my body and blood
given freely to all daughters and sons

Again, Derek is speaking of unecessary things added, and ways we have been decieved. What do you think? What truths do you see here?

Just Give Me “A New Law”…

20061017-dwebb-coverI want to share the lyrics to this song with you all. They speak very powerfully for themselves, but I want to preface for you why I feel that these words are important for us as believers. This song was written in 2005 by one of my favorite songwriters, Derek Webb. I believe his music to be Prophetic words for the church in many parts of the world, but particularly in the West. This song speaks loudly to us as “leaders” in how we are to (Or NOT to) “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body”. The thing that sticks out to me the most, which Derek points out is how we typically do what is easiest and most convenient at the time in terms of how we lead others. I’ll shut up now, and let you read the song.

mockingbird

“A New Law” – by Derek Webb – 2005
(vs. 1)
don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

(pre-chorus)
i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

(chorus)
i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

(vs. 2)
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

don’t teach me about loving my enemies

don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law

(pre-chorus)
i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

(chorus)
i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

(bridge)
what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

It is easier for me to tell my kids not to say curse words (give them a new law), than it is for me to teach them over time how to have love in their hearts instead of anger. It is easier for me to tell every young person I meet not to drink, and that it’s a sin than it is for me to teach them the truth about moderation & drunkenness. You get the point…what are some more examples you can think of?

I encourage you to click the link above to listen to the song. Derek has many more songs that are truly challenging for how we live our lives as believers. They often peirce my heart, and bring conviction. However, they always push me to pursue change, and seek the Spirit for how to be more effective for the kingdom as a follower of Christ.

Too Long For Twitter…

I wanted to post this wonderful quote by Neil Cole as a Twitter update, but it’s over the maximum 140 characters allowed by Twitter. I just couldn’t pass up sharing this short, but powerful sentence. It’s from a blog that Neil posted today in a series of blogs he’s posting called “False Ideas“.

“…The way we try and remove ourselves from the “secular” world for fear of losing our spiritual power demonstrates that we actually believe more in the power of the darkness than we do in the light of Jesus Christ. Ouch!”   -Neil Cole-

I would encourage you to go read the entire post. I believe it is hitting the root of why Christianity is on a decline in the West.