“The Art Of Being Wrong”

As I prepare to ramp up and start writing here at “A Holy Discontent” again I thought I’d do a few throw backs to some of my favorite posts from “the early days”. When driving to work this morning I had this peaceful feeling when thinking about how I don’t always have to be right, and how good it feels to just say to someone, “ya know what, you are right. I was way off, and thank you so much for pointing that out – I’m going to work on letting Jesus fix that in me.” Then, I remembered that I had written this post back in January of 2010! Whether you’re a long-time “A Holy Discontent” reader, or new around these parts I hope you enjoy…

“When we are wrong Jesus is right – it’s redemption in action.”

“You see, if we are never wrong about anything then that means Jesus isn’t having to make us right in any areas of our lives…we hinder His redemptive work in us.”

American culture (and human nature) screams that we must never, ever, ever, under any circumstances admit that we are wrong…about ANYTHING, ever. Whether it be a petty decision we made, statement that slipped out, or a huge life decision that did not go as planned, we seem to have an inability to recognize that we just might have been…WRONG. Is it really so bad…to be…WRONG?

I have determined that we, as humans, need to learn, practice, and perfect the art of being wrong; not when we are not wrong, of course. = ) Perhaps our default should not always be that we ARE right, and could not possibly be wrong. Maybe we could re-program our default to be that we quite possibly could have made a better decision.

“When we are wrong Jesus is right – it’s redemption in action.”

“You see, if we are never wrong about anything then that means Jesus isn’t having to make us right in any areas of our lives…we hinder His redemptive work in us.”

We allow our upbringing, traditions, and personal preferences to get in the way of being wrong all the time. These things cripple us from growing into the people we need to be; the people God desires to build us into. Over the past two years it has become increasingly freeing to let go of things I have done to realize they may be wrong, and could be better in. It hurts at first, but the end result is a more perfect you.

In marriage, our spouses have been placed into our lives to sanctify us by the Holy Spirit that lives within them. When we refuse to ever be wrong we disregard that truth, and hinder our own personal cleansing. In our lives as believers we are so certain we are right that we miss out on things God is trying to teach us.

This also plays into how we “do ministry”, church, etc. My friend Neil Cole directs an organization called CMA. In their organization they have what they call a “wall of shame”. On these shelves resides years worth curriculum, strategies, and plans that they had to retire due to their ineffectiveness. They were willing to accept that those things were…wrong. They put them on the shelf, and began striving for better. Of course, it was painful to retire the resources that took so much time, energy, and money to create. However, the end result was so much more beautiful than the tragedy that would have followed had they insisted on being right.

We could go on and on with examples of how this plays into our lives, and negatively affects us. I am not suggesting that we be ok with being wrong all the time, or become insecure in everything we do because we “might be wrong”. I am simply suggesting that we have a much looser grip on our pride that insists we are incapable of making a bad decision…otherwise known as…SIN. If I never realize, and accept the sin in my life because of pride or not wanting to be wrong I refuse to allow anything in my life to be redeemed.

“Jesus, continually reveal to us where we are wrong. Allow Your Spirit in us to more quickly recognize these wrongs so we may invite Your Spirit in to bring us back into alignment with Your Kingdom. If we neglect this longer we continue to shout with our actions that Your work on the cross was unnecessary, and that we do not need it. Set us free Jesus, and remind us of the permission you gave us to be wrong when you died for the fact that we are sinful.”

I leave you with two definitions…

Redeem: Compensate for faults, or bad aspects.

Redemption: The action of saving, or being saved from sin, error, evil.

Never Thought THIS Would Happen…!

As many of you already know we have been in Austin about 9 months. A LOT of exciting things are happening. We’ve sensed that Austin just might be more of a “home base” (for now=) Perhaps we will be here a tad longer than Vegas…hmmm….who knows! Throughout the last couple of months we have been in the process of purchasing a little house on the northeast side of Austin (St. John’s). This is something we NEVER thought we would do, or thought we could afford. All of the pieces have fallen together divinely, and God has confirmed this decision every step of the way. There is a lot more to this decision than simply purchasing a place to “live”…

A friend who lives in St. Johns told us about the house, and after much prayer we sensed TONS of peace (As our friends Bob & Ann have always said, “Go where the peace is”). There are several sets of friends living in this neighborhood already, as well as a House Church that was started by some friends of ours a couple years ago. There’s built in community, as well as tons of potential for growth & new disciples/churches. This is a lower income neighborhood (the reason we’re able to afford the house on our modest income) with quite the “personality”. However, several young married couples have moved in in the past few years with a vision to see the hood transformed. In that time they have seen drug dealers “prayed OUT”, single mom’s served, kids Baptized, etc. We get to join them in a redemptive plan to keep bringing Jesus to this neighborhood. Also, The guys community house that our intern, Bear, lived in over the summer is two streets over from this house. (This is the same community house that my older brother Isaac might be moving into in the next few days! He’s staying with us at our apartment in Austin right now making some pretty amazing life changes and decision! =)

The exciting news is obviously that we are buying our first home…and we are CLOSING TODAY! =) We are so pumped about this, and wanted to share this news with you all. It’s quaint, and small. Morgan and I both feel the Lord is moving us into a new season of “simplifying” our lives EVEN MORE as we take this step. Check it out…

“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.

“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”…

“The Art of Being Wrong”

“When we are wrong Jesus is right – it’s redemption in action.”

“You see, if we are never wrong about anything then that means Jesus isn’t having to make us right in any areas of our lives…we hinder His redemptive work in us.”

American culture (and human nature) screams that we must never, ever, ever, under any circumstances admit that we are wrong…about ANYTHING, ever. Whether it be a petty decision we made, statement that slipped out, or a huge life decision that did not go as planned, we seem to have an inability to recognize that we just might have been…WRONG. Is it really so bad…to be…WRONG?

I have determined that we, as humans, need to learn, practice, and perfect the art of being wrong; not when we are not wrong, of course. = ) Perhaps our default should not always be that we ARE right, and could not possibly be wrong. Maybe we could re-program our default to be that we quite possibly could have made a better decision.

“When we are wrong Jesus is right – it’s redemption in action.”

“You see, if we are never wrong about anything then that means Jesus isn’t having to make us right in any areas of our lives…we hinder His redemptive work in us.”

We allow our upbringing, traditions, and personal preferences to get in the way of being wrong all the time. These things cripple us from growing into the people we need to be; the people God desires to build us into. Over the past two years it has become increasingly freeing to let go of things I have done to realize they may be wrong, and could be better in. It hurts at first, but the end result is a more perfect you.

In marriage, our spouses have been placed into our lives to sanctify us by the Holy Spirit that lives within them. When we refuse to ever be wrong we disregard that truth, and hinder our own personal cleansing. In our lives as believers we are so certain we are right that we miss out on things God is trying to teach us.

This also plays into how we “do ministry”, church, etc. My friend Neil Cole directs an organization called CMA. In their organization they have what they call a “wall of shame”. On these shelves resides years worth curriculum, strategies, and plans that they had to retire due to their ineffectiveness. They were willing to accept that those things were…wrong. They put them on the shelf, and began striving for better. Of course, it was painful to retire the resources that took so much time, energy, and money to create. However, the end result was so much more beautiful than the tragedy that would have followed had they insisted on being right.

We could go on and on with examples of how this plays into our lives, and negatively affects us. I am not suggesting that we be ok with being wrong all the time, or become insecure in everything we do because we “might be wrong”. I am simply suggesting that we have a much looser grip on our pride that insists we are incapable of making a bad decision…otherwise known as…SIN. If I never realize, and accept the sin in my life because of pride or not wanting to be wrong I refuse to allow anything in my life to be redeemed.

“Jesus, continually reveal to us where we are wrong. Allow Your Spirit in us to more quickly recognize these wrongs so we may invite Your Spirit in to bring us back into alignment with Your Kingdom. If we neglect this longer we continue to shout with our actions that Your work on the cross was unnecessary, and that we do not need it. Set us free Jesus, and remind us of the permission you gave us to be wrong when you died for the fact that we are sinful.”

I leave you with two definitions…

Redeem: Compensate for faults, or bad aspects.

Redemption: The action of saving, or being saved from sin, error, evil.