“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.

Spiritual Family…

This is a phrase that is becoming more popular among evangelicals in America. It is something that we, as individuals, and as an organization have been fascinated with and explored for a couple of years now. How do we promote the DNA of healthy disciple-making/church planting movements while fostering a sense of strong spiritual family? For the first couple of years we fell to an extreme side that neglected seeing healthy “spiritual families” fostered while attempting to see new churches multiplied – this is simply not possible. We are now moving into a season where our language is changing, and taking on more of a “familial” feel & practice…

Anymore, we try to focus much more on the well-being of the individual disciple, & health of the “spiritual family” that disciple is a part of (or has birthed) than we do “how many new churches have been planted”/how “sustainable” this or that “church” is. Families are made up of both genders, and reproduce quite naturally. It has been in God’s plan from day one in the garden. We now view “churches” more like families in our own lives, and in how we equip & release lay-people to live out their faith. It is only natural for an existing family to send out it’s kids to start new families. If a new family is birthed and remains healthy it will contain a culture that empowers and releases the “family members” to birth new families. They are sent out to start new communities of faith! Of course, the relationships with the extended family are still there, and have frequent “family reunions”! The key is that the new family is no longer dependent upon their “parents” anymore. This is a good thing. This SHOULD happen. Any “spiritual family” (church) that is not birthing new “families” (churches) must examine itself to see what has grown unhealthy in their DNA.

We have learned a lot about Spiritual Family from our friends, The Orme’s, in San Diego. Brian, and his family are who we partnered with this past summer to host Student CPx in SD. They equip students at UCSD to make disciples and start new simple churches on campus. At the same time, they place a HUGE value on healthy “Spiritual Family”. Check out the below video they recently posted about how they view this type of family in San Diego…

What are you learning about “Spiritual Family” in your current context? How important do you feel it is? Is it necessary to foster this sense of family in the context of Church Planting and “movements”?

Reaching Campus Dot Com

I was recently asked to write an article for a new website launched by Campus Renewal Ministries. The purpose of the blog is to stimulate dialogue around the topics of unity, prayer, and missional communities on college campuses. Of course, I was excited at the opportunity to share what God has been doing around the country through students who are stepping out to make disciples and start new local church communities in their context. I shared a quick story, specifically about some things taking place currently here in Austin, and then a brief note about what it would look like if we started fostering “new discipleship environments” in our lives. CHECK IT OUT, and leave some input in the reaching campus comments section…

Student CPx San Diego = Legit.

2 down, 3 to go. Student CPx in San Diego was incredible. Not sure if you followed the twitter/facebook feeds that were going out all throughout SCPx, but they were nothing short of supernatural! The way God is building spiritual family, and releasing ordinary followers to step into their destiny is like nothing I have ever experienced. Students are being set free to begin living out the works of scriptures that they once thought they were “not allowed” to pursue. Praise Jesus!

There are too many stories to tell. You can CLICK HERE & HERE to view some pics from the week.

There was a LOT of personal inner healing that took place as students were taken through SOZO sessions. Once they worked through some past baggage & junk they began stepping into their identity as ADOPTED CHILDREN of the LIVING GOD! It is unbelievable how many of us operate out of an “orphan spirit” throughout our lives as “Christ followers”. Once we step into our identity as sons & daughters of the King we are confident in who we are in Him, and who He is in us. We now know the authority we carry as His kids! We have the keys to His Kingdom! He gave them to us to unlock & usher in the Kingdom ON EARTH as it is in heaven!

Once our students begin understanding & walking in their supernatural identity we start equipping them in disciple-making & kingdom lifestyle formation. This is concluded by a time of commissioning students back out to their campuses & individual contexts to make disciples, Baptize new believers, & start new churches among those new believers!

Here’s a video of Tiffany, who stepped into her identity as a daughter of the King during Student CPx & got Baptized in the fountain on the UCSD campus!

On Friday night (Aug. 6th) we will kick-off Student CPx here in Austin, Tx. This will be the second Student CPx here in Austin. We are excited, & trusting that God will do even more this summer than He did last summer. As many of you already know we have seen several beautiful new student led house churches birthed here in Austin since SCPx last summer along with several new believers & Baptisms! Join with us in prayer for SCPx in Austin, as well as Phoenix & Kansas City!

“A Lifestyle of Repentance” Part 2

“Some judged them (mostly Christians), but many were blown away by this real life testimony of the Gospel.”

A few days ago I posted “A Lifestyle Of Repentance” Part 1. Today will conclude the post with a practical, everyday story of two individuals who I have had the pleasure of watching live out this type of lifestyle over the past 9 months. They are ordinary people, but their love for Jesus is nothing short of radical. I was blessed to perform their wedding a few months ago. I introduce to you Ty & Emily Richards…

Ty and Emily are passionate followers of Jesus, though Emily had only recently experienced the reality of Jesus in her life. Ty and Emily met, and were instantly drawn to one another. One thing led to another and they ended up falling into sin by sleeping together. They became deeply convicted of this poor decision, repented to one-another, and people they trusted. They began walking in purity. Ty began thinking about marriage, decided to start looking for a ring, and propose to Emily very soon. After some time had passed they discovered some surprising news that Emily had become pregnant during their previous stumble into sin. They were shocked, but new they only had one choice in this matter, to continue to walk in repentance. They were very open with everyone about the situation, and were confident in the grace of Jesus they had been living in since they first repented. At every turn they gave glory to Jesus, confessed their sin openly to EVERYONE, and walked in repentance in every relationship they had. Both families were informed quickly, along with many friends and loved ones. Some judged them (mostly Christians), but many were blown away by this real life testimony of the Gospel. They got married shortly afterward (Because they were in love, not because they were pregnant). They have continued to walk in repentance to this day, and Jesus has blessed their pursuit of Him, and acceptance of His grace. The enemy used their sin to make life very difficult by them getting pregnant when they were not ready, and not married. Before repentance this baby was a “consequence” of sin. As a result of God’s grace, and their repentance this baby has now been redeemed for God’s glory! The true message of the Gospel and God’s grace has shined through in a difficult situation-the truth that He takes what we have done in our sin and makes it beautiful as a result of our repentance. What the enemy had stolen for his purposes were brought back into alignment with God’s kingdom through the repentance of His children. Beautiful.

Ty and Emily could have been secretive about this situation, and tried to hide it. They could have made excuses, and questioned why this happened when they already repented (initially), and were walking in purity. This choice would hinder Jesus from taking what was broken in their sin, and redeeming it for His good. They chose differently by asking for forgiveness, and repenting of that sin through word and behavior. This opened up the flood-gates for the truth of the Gospel to begin reconstructing those broken pieces of glass in the hearts Ty and Emily.

We have all heard Romans 8:28. “For God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” We have all recited this verse to ourselves, or quoted it to a friend or loved one when something “bad” happened. However, could there be more to this passage when we read it through the lens of a lifestyle of repentance? Perhaps this scripture is speaking to what happens when we enter into a repentant relationship with Jesus, and invite Him to begin taking back what the enemy has stolen in order to further His kingdom. Maybe Paul was saying that in our sin, and brokenness God can take a willing/repentant heart and make it right again. It is as if the repentant posture of our heart allows the Spirit to come in and not only assist in preventing that particular sin from happening again, but to go back and redeem what was. The Spirit of God in Ty and Emily did not just desire for them to stop engaging in sexual immorality, but that through grace and love the sin that was used for darkness would now shed light on why Jesus did what He did!

Ty and Emily both gave permission for their story to shared on “A Holy Discontent” as well as in an article in the online e-magazine at http://www.shapevine.com

A Lifestyle Of Repentance…Part 1

“The scary thing about this reality is that grace is only present when we are wrong. If we refuse to admit when we are wrong, and repent we cut-off the supply of grace that seeks to cleanse us.”

How tragic it is when such powerful words become diluted, or “cliché”. Does the power in a word fade away when it is used too much, or when the word is only spoken with the mouth and not practiced with the heart? Perhaps the word repent rubs many the wrong way, or holds no power because we do not know how to…do it. After all, it is much easier to merely say certain things, and leave it at that. Words begin to lose their power when the user stops at speaking the word, yet does nothing to pursue its depth through action.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

Many of us fail to experience the true freedom that is present within the beauty of the Gospel because we miss out on one of its most basic, core verbs. Repent. Or, for those of us who thought it was a “one-time” to-do when we “accepted Christ”, repentance may be the more necessary word. This is not something we do once, but something we are to stay in constant pursuit of. It is quite interesting that the main message brought by John the Baptist, Jesus, & His disciples was to “repent”. They then go on to say “be Baptized”. Repent. Perhaps we should press into this powerful command a bit more as we pursue Jesus.

Repentance means so much more than “turning from our sin”. The picture painted in ones mind is that of sin being a thing that is turned from once when we give our lives to Jesus, and no longer necessary throughout our journey. This leaves one to wonder, though, what it means to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”? This is no one-time decision, but a lifestyle in which the believer must become a master. How might one become a “master-repenter”?

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:4-5

First, we must learn to practice “The Art of Being Wrong”. (See previous article) We cannot repent of things in which we do not believe we are wrong. We cannot conclude we are wrong if our pride is always certain of how right we are. The scary thing about this reality is that grace is only present when we are wrong. (Romans 5:20) So, if our pride screams that we are never wrong then we are hindering ourselves from receiving the grace that desires to cleanse us. In our refusal to admit we are wrong, repent, and receive grace we blaspheme God, and Jesus’ work on the cross. We cease to grow in a deeper understanding of His work of grace in our lives. This is central to the message of the Gospel so many of us claim to live by. It is time we reprogrammed our default from defending ourselves/decisions as a pursuit of being right to a humble reflection of how we could have been more like Jesus in a particular situation. At this point we can begin to walk in a lifestyle of repentance…

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Once we begin to experience the freedom, and redemption that follows a lifestyle of repentance we not only welcome being “called out” by others for potential sin in our lives, we begin to crave it. The Holy Spirit begins to replace in us the insecurity of having to be right all the time with a deep desire to be more like Jesus that only comes through this lifestyle of repentance.

When we fall into sin the enemy gains a small victory. He steals something away from us. When we get seduced by the things of this world we add to it’s sickness, as well as our own brokenness. The beauty of the Gospel is that we are forgiven and cleansed from that sin – IF we recognize it, and repent. We must walk in a constant spirit of repentance in order for the sanctifying truths of the Gospel to be at work in our lives. This is when things get exciting. You see, the things the enemy stole are taken back – they are redeemed as a result of our repentance. When we repent we invite the Spirit of God to enter into the situation and fix it, to make it right. Yes, there are consequences in this world for the sin we commit. However, a Gospel truth is that Jesus, in His goodness and through our repentance, will piece back together that which is broken…He redeems it for our good, and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

Stay Tuned for an incredible, real-life story of two people who have learned to walk in the “lifestyle of repentance”…

My Daughter Is One…

It has been an incredible ride so far. Eliza has quickly become one of my best friends. She brings MUCH joy to mine and Morgan’s life. We had a little birthday shindig at gigi and g-daddy’s house yesterday to celebrate her life. We have been so blessed by Jesus to have such incredible people be a part of our/her life over the past year. Many of them haven’t gotten to see her much in the past year, but got to come spend some time with her yesterday. It was a blast. I put together a little photo slide show of her first year. Enjoy…

Student Church Planting Manual…

This is an incredible resource for anyone who has a desire to make disciples, and allow for new churches to birth from the harvest on their campus. It’s also great for those who have a desire to mobilize others, lead, and resource them to do so in their context. We use much of this stuff in our Student CPx Training (Of course, nothing beats the real-deal experiences from actually being a part of one of these hands on trainings) and know of others all over the world who have gotten a hold of it, applied many of the principles, and seen some incredible things happen for the kingdom.

It is a bit long, but feel free to download, save, print, copy, distribute, etc. as much as you like. Our heart is to see this information get into the hands of anyone and everyone who has a heart to see ordinary followers of Christ released to live out the teachings of the Scriptures. Enjoy!

Click Below to download, or go to the box.net widget to the right to download from there…

StudentChurchPlanterKit

Student CPx in San Diego…

We are ultra excited about Student CPx on the West Coast. We are working with our close friend Brian Orme to host SCPx in San Diego in a few weeks! If you are on the West Coast, know anyone in that area, or just cannot make it to one of the other SCPx locations this summer then make sure you GET REGISTERED for SCPx in San Diego by July 9th! Check out a quick promo video for San Diego…

Summer Is Here!

…And you know what that means…things start to get a little crazy around here for us, and our partnering organizations as we come together to put on Student CPx trainings in 4 cities! That’s right, we have SCPx opportunities this summer in San Diego, CA. Austin, Tx. Phoenix, AZ. & Pittsburgh, PA. Intentional Gatherings is responsible for hosting two of these four (San Diego, and Austin). If you, or anyone you know is interested in some incredible cross cultural disciple making/church planting training then SCPx is a MUST!

“Student CPx will be a potent force on the university campus. This endeavor merits our prayers and support!”

– George Patterson, PhD, author of Church Multiplication Guide

“The hottest mission field in the Western world right now is the college campus. If this is an indication of what is to come, we will see another Great Awakening. Everyone should be praying for this emerging movement to spill over into all the domains of society. Come join the party.”

– Neil Cole, Church starter, author of Organic Church

To find out more information about a particular city, click the city’s link above. To register for Student CPx Click Here!