Dependent.

I have been thinking a lot lately about things that we are dependent upon as Christians in America & in the church in America. Sadly, my thoughts have not brought me to the person of Jesus Christ, and the leading power of His Holy Spirit. It would seem as if HE IS NOT ENOUGH.

I have had many conversations with many of you over the past few months about things that we are dependent on. These are things that, if they were taken away from us, we would not know what to do/how to function. We MIGHT survive, but you can forget a flourishing walk with Christ that usher’s in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

It is very odd to me that most arguments or discussions I hear regarding “church” and what it means to follow Christ are rarely about an individual’s complete denial of self, and pursuit of the Great Commission. Instead, they are about things other than that…things that are seemingly irrelevant compared to the above. We will talk about “how to do church”, “church structure”, doctrine, staff, gatherings, elders, pastors, programs, worship, sermons, podcasts, etc. etc. etc.

I began to think…in my thinking I began to discuss these thoughts with some individuals. I began to introduce scenarios that lacked the above elements (“church”, structure, institution, pastoral staff, programs, worship services, sermons, teaching, childcare, youth groups, small groups, Bible Studies, etc.) and those I spoke with started getting VERY uncomfortable. They began to speak back at me as if I had just denied Christ and the Cross. It was as if it were THOSE things that mattered, as if THOSE were the things that held the most value in the kingdom. It was as if THOSE were the things they were dependent upon, and if they were taken away there would be no way to function as a follower of Christ.

My mind began to wonder to other countries where the believers there have NONE of the things in either of the above lists. They have Christ. They are LUCKY if they have a few pages of the Bible, and enough food to eat on a daily basis. Chances are they do have a thriving community of other believers who are in the same boat as them, completely & utterly dependent upon Christ. You see, Christ is enough for them. They have nothing BUT Christ, and it’s enough. They don’t “need to be fed”, or tickled by some fancy guitar riff in the middle of a Hillsong….song. They don’t need to be entertained by funny sermons or podcasts, and they certainly don’t need a group of professionals planning out their monthly service project or weekly program. (Not all of these things are BAD, however, when we become dependent upon them, and cannot fathom life without them it is DANGEROUS)

It would appear as if we, as Christians in America, are dependent upon a lot of things; Christ does not seem to be one of them. We seem to be too wrapped up in idolatry to notice our need for a risen Savior. Yes, I said IDOLATRY because that’s what we do. We don’t worship Christ. We worship the things in the lists above. We worship & idolize & are dependent upon them because if they were taken away from us our “faith” would fall to pieces. We would be left in shambles.

“Christ, forgive us for our idolatrous hearts. Turn us back to you. Do whatever it is that you must do to cause us to place you above any other gods. We need you.”

What are some other things that you can think of that the church in America may be dependent upon? (Things that an average Christian might not know what to do without if it were taken from them)

Desperation Blog…Part 2

A couple months back I posted an entry titled, “The Godless: A Desperate Generation”. Though it is not entirely necessary to read before this entry, it may help you to see what sparked the thoughts below…

In the past few months I have been almost convinced that it is impossible to be desperate for God in America because of our lack of need for Him in regards to basic provision. My mind has shifted gears in the past few weeks, though I still strongly believe that it is MUCH more difficult to grasp a desperation for God without needing, and relying on Him for the provision of our basic needs.

I have realized that anyone, in any country, who takes the scriptures seriously, lives them out, and denies themselves daily, can begin to understand what it means to be desperate for God in a physical and Spiritual sense. If I truly live the scriptures, and take them seriously then I will be without some sort of fleshly need, or desire. I will have need for God’s provision in my life. Because desperation for God has not been modeled for many of us in our lives we will have to pursue it more intentionally, and with everything in our being. As we deny ourselves of fleshly desires we will quickly be made desperate for God, His presence, and provision in our lives.

If you are married, and truly seeking the scriptures/living them out in your marriage then you certainly know, or are learning to be desperate for God. If you are not married, that’s okay, you should still keep reading. At the core of the Gospel we see this idea of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following after Jesus. (Matthew 16:24) This is a daily denial of self, which goes completely against everything in our being. This poses a question: if we are not desperate for God, are we truly denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus as the scriptures call us to? A second core principle of the Gospel is the idea of putting the interests of others before ours, having the attitude of Jesus. (Philippians 2:4-5) Second question: if I am not desperate for God on a daily basis I am basically saying that I have this “flesh”, “denial of self”, and “other’s interests before mine” thing figured out. That thought breeds self-righteousness, and arrogance. Scary.

I know many people who seem to have it all together. They have the right answers for everything. They have the best, most eloquent responses to all of life’s situations. They read all the right books, and spend large amounts of time studying scripture. This intrigues me, especially when very little of it is translated into life practice. It seems to be mere head knowledge. Ironically, many of these same people think very often about themselves, and very little about others. At the core there seems to be a lack of desperation for God. Maybe an even deeper root is the absence of the realization that NEED to be desperate for God should exist!? In our sin nature we have been deceived into thinking that a “good Christian” is someone who has it all together instead of someone who is daily crying out in need for God to save them from themselves.

I have learned lately that I am an extremely selfish person. I will probably be learning this more and more as I get older, lasting until the day I die. This has manifested itself in the relationships I have with friends, as well as my marriage. The Lord is making me desperate for Him to choke out my fleshly, selfish desires, and put my wife’s/others interests before mine. That is, after all, what I’m called to as a husband, and believer.

Some other questions that have crossed my mind in reference to this subject of being desperate for God:

Is my lack of desperation for Him, which we have seen can be translated to a lack of denying myself, and putting the interests of others before me, be hindering me from involvement in the growth of the kingdom? Ouch.

How many kingdom opportunities am I missing out on as a result of my lack of desperation for God, and my focus on self?

As Christians, when will we stop thinking it’s all about us, our walk with God, our time with God, our community, our church, our faith, our righteousness, our accountability, our sin, our forgiveness, etc. and start focusing on how those things can empower us to bring light/life to dark/dead places? (Take the focus off of ourselves, and our interests in order to redirect that energy to the focus on the interests of others)

Thanks for reading. I would enjoy, and greatly benefit from any insight you all have on these thoughts.

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.”