“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.

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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.

Child Sex Trafficking…

It breaks my heart that such a thing even exists on this earth…

If you are in Vegas then GO REGISTER for the “Stop Child Trafficking Now” Walk on Saturday, September 26th! The information is posted below. A close friend of ours who is a part of our Simple Church is heading up this initiative in Las Vegas. There are many ways you can be involved.

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Click Here to join the group of FaceBook. Click Here to RSVP to the EVENT on FaceBook.

Please read below, and add any thoughts/comments…

Many of us are broken over these issues, but feel very helpless when it comes to doing anything about it. It seems so far away, and too difficult a problem to solve. Let me crush that mentality by first saying that it is NOT far away. Human trafficking is taking place all over OUR Country-yes, the UNITED STATES, on a daily basis. This is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Second, it is NOT too difficult a problem to solve-especially if you claim Christ as King. Each of us carries the keys to the kingdom of God if His Holy Spirit dwells inside of you. Our role as kingdom ambassadors is to USHER in the “kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven”. We do that by walking in confidence in the authority Christ has given us-things that do not match up with His Kingdom do not belong on this earth. Our job is to BRING that authority to the broken places of this earth that don’t align with the Kigdom-in Jesus’ name.

We MUST, as the Church of Jesus Christ, stand up against this injustice. There are many organizations you can partner with to make a difference. One of those is the above organization called “Stop Child Trafficking Now”. They host benefit “walks” in cities all over the country to raise awareness and funds to fight against this injustice. They work with governments and hire trained professionals to go into these brothels and rescue children out of sex slavery. You CAN play a part in ending child trafficking on this earth…

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?!”

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.

“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.”