We’re in for some pain… a lot of pain. It seems like that’s what God is telling us.
Dave Gibbons told Francis Chan: The highest form of love is when you can love someone who you feel betrayed you, left you, or abandoned you. Let these people beat you up and love them still. God is working on you, God is pruning you.
1 Pet 4:12 – trials should not be viewed as a surprise or a strange event
At the end of the day, it’s all about the Holy Spirit and what He’s called you to do. It may look different from this guy or this guy – are you willing to do that? I have to go after whatever God calls us to – even if none go with me.
Matt 10 – Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.
Mark 8:34 – Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
John 15 – the world hated Jesus before it hated you
Acts 5 – disciples joy for being made worthy to suffer
Romans 8 – provided we suffer with Him in order that we may be glorified with Him
If you’re not suffering, you shouldn’t be at peace. Some of us need to suffer just to know if we’re for real. Fellowship of His suffering, intimacy – Paul wanted that level of intimacy with Jesus… the fellowship of His suffering.
If it brings you more honor that I die, I die – if it brings you more glory that I live, I live. The Korean missionaries who wer captured by the Taliban desired to be back there because they were so close to Jesus in that moment. The fellowship of His suffering brings an intimacy that cannot be duplicated through any other means.
Why do you need a comforter if you’re comfortable? If we are serious about really wanting Christ, then we can rejoice in sufferings and we can rejoice in being rejected. This is not something edgy, cool, or a new thing. It’s a biblical conviction that’s been killing us. I’d rather be in a pit guarded by Taliban with Jesus than in comfort without Him. It’s the Holy Spirit’s leading. My guess is what He’s calling you to do is different than what He’s calling me to do – but it will be painful for both of us.
Hugh Halter – The Power of Our Posture
The attitude of our body, the inflection of your voice – our non-verbals. Non-verbals are the most important part of our communication. Missional is the sending impulse. Incarnational is the posture and is more important. Missional without incarnational is ineffective. Our posture is disorienting for the unbeliever – our rhetoric does not meet their reality.
Woman caught in adultery – incarnational story. Incarnation is to be an advocate for lost people – to consider them disoriented. Being their advocate can win their heart. We should not be concerned about condoning behavior but winning the heart of the world. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He was our advocate.
John Burke – Gateway Community Church
If your unchurched friends are not finding faith and becoming the church, you are not missional. The Pharisees were doctrinally pure and moral and missional – but their hearts had no love and no patience.
Am I serving the spiritual and physical needs of my neighbors? Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. If we call ourselves missional leaders and do not fill the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbors then we are not being missional like Jesus was. Do we really believe God can change people? If people know you are for them and not against them, they’ll start to believe your God is for them and not against them.
Do you see and point out God’s work in them? Do we simply listen and point out where God is already at work? If you ask them what they’re longing for and listen, you’ll see the God put that desire in there.
Are my unchurched neighbors now leading in the church? If not, your church is dying. Are we preparing to enfold people who come to faith to train them to lead others? If you are on mission with Him, eventually your friends will find faith and in a short amount of time they will start leading others to find faith as well.
Worship leading is to do anything in any way that leads to Jesus being worshiped and praised. Train your people to know their biblical story and redemptive plan of God. Train them to know the stories of the people they’re sent into. In order to do that well, you have to be people who listen well. We are not very good at listening to God nor are we good at listening to people. We are called to engage in the celebrations of the people and we bring the better wine. We ought to party like crazy – be known for partying as we have the greatest thing to celebrate.
When you eat, it reminds you that you need something outside of you to fill a deep need within you that can’t be filled within you. Open your table – open your table. Our common union with unbelievers is that we’re all hungry and our hunger is fulfilled in Christ. Christian artists should be the most creative people on the planet because they don’t have to create art for approval, because they’re already accepted in Christ – they’re free to create. We should be the most creative and most refreshed people in the city. In our job, our work is worship to God because we’re already approved by Christ. We’re asking people to live normal life with Gospel intentionality.
Story-Formed – LISTEN – Celebrations – Bless – EAT – RECREATE
Equip your people in the everyday – not the spectacular.
What are the most important characteristics of a leader. We use nomenclature that kinda fascinated people. If we really break it down, the mission is very clear. Love God and love your neighbor. How? Love. Who? Your neighbor. The problem is how we define our neighbor. It’s someone you would hate – someone unforgivable to you. How do we go about that love?
Embracing the theology of flow and blessing. Your called to be like Jesus. He only did what He saw His Father doing. It’s not your job to initiate and make it happen, you listen and look to see what God is doing. When you’re walking through a large crowd, make sure you walk slowly and see the anointing of God, the blessing on them.
What’s in your hand? God’s given you something. He’s given you a story. He’s given you some unique things. How much do you leverage the power of the Holy Spirit? If prayer isn’t a central part of your life, your not dependent on the Holy Spirit – your dependent upon your own power.
What is your pain?
Can anything good come from Nazareth? Who are the fringe – the fringe are the ones who lead movements.
There should be no foster children in any city in America. Eastern societies look at how we treat our elderly and consider us barbaric. It’s not easy, but the road called us to is to love. It’s not about our passion, it’s about our obedience.
Unedited notes from an AMAZING evening session – good stuff in here
Disciple making is in every movement. We’re being discipled every day through media. The task of advertising is to create desire. Consumerism is being defined by what we consume. Consumerism is the alternative religion of our day. Without doubt it is the secular religion of our day. Jesus advice can be taken quite literally… DIE.
The best kept secret among evangelicals – far easier to win people to Christ, plant churches, multiply cell groups – do evangelism and make disciples like the apostles did. Stop describing Jesus through facts – they need to experience the living risen Jesus. The main point, the punch line is his resurrection. They must experience the risen Christ.
They mobilized everyone to witness. Ordinary Christians doing 95% of the evangelism while being mentored by the gifted evangelists. Who did they go to? Stop trying to shove the camel through the eye of the needle. Average American church spends almost all of its time on camels. Almost all Americans are camels (the rich people) in comparison to the world. Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor. He didn’t start His public ministry among the rich and the powerful. He started with fisherman, people with callouses on their hands, or people who were despised like tax collectors.
They used every method. Don’t get hung up on method. Use a method that works. Only one approach that’s been consistent – do it the way the apostles did. It doesn’t need a lot of money. It doesn’t require a Phd.
American Evangelism tends to see people as isolated individuals, how does God see him? Part of a community.
Bring the seekers into a group of their own peers and work in the circle – don’t pull them out of the circle.
The busier you get, the less compassionate you become. Compassion from the bowels – deep compassion. We don’t see the lost the way Jesus did. We need to see them through the eyes of Jesus. It will change the way we behave. Jesus created sheep to be cared for by a shepherd. Don’t even call it multiplying until you get to the fourth generation. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. Look for the drowning victim.
God is doing something among the nations… meaning ethnic groups. Church planting movements.
Communists – God loves to show what He can do. Cuba. He brought the Gospel up within Cuba. “We went to seminary on our knees in prison. When we left, we were no longer afraid.” They’re on track by the year 2010 to see 100,000 churches in Cuba and over 1,000,000 baptized believers.
Muslims. We went to Libya. I’ve learned more ways not to win a Muslim. In 2002, we moved to Bangalore, India. They can cut my body into 1,000 pieces and every piece will cry out, “Jesus is Lord.”
Pray for the people of Iran – the Christians will be the fodder for any attack. We believe 25,000 are being baptized every day. Chinese official says – that’s a lie – we’ve been monitoring you – it’s been 30,000 every day.
We want to see a disciple making movement that changes everything. We might have to change the way we do mission so that we can empower people to use their gifts. Disciples don’t just know – they do. That people might live how Jesus really intended us to live – it should be the norm, not the surprise.
Obedience based discipleship will lead to mission shaped disciples.
All have gifts. We tend to teach people to be passive spectators. If we disciple through knowledge and not action, we’ve trained people to be puffed up gnostics – people believing they have special knowledge but no power of transformation. Knowledgeable people who don’t live on mission and criticize those who are. They need to get off their blessed assurance and do something to server Jesus. God has placed people in your church and gifted them to produce something for the common good. Anything that disempowers and demotivates the people of God is unhelpful and perhaps sinful. Why? It destroys the common good. Scarcity brings clarity. When we do for people what God has called them to do, everybody gets hurt and the mission of God gets hindered.
God intends all to use. We’ve made it acceptable to sit Sunday after Sunday in church and do nothing and still call ourselves a follower of Jesus.
All people are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We have to stop letting God’s people off the hook. We have to trust the Holy Spirit within them. We have to stop enabling. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God should be normal in the Kingdom.
To Bring God Glory. I don’t care about the label – I care about the lifestyle.
Disciples see what Jesus is doing and they join Him in it. Is your church doing this? What am I going to make different about my message so they’ll join Jesus on His mission?
Unedited notes from the afternoon session.
(I missed a chunk of this session)
A big part of this is establishing apostolic culture.
We need to put aside the structure of our church and connect to the structures we live in. Some populations will require us to not be at the church on Sunday mornings. Our strategy has to be defined by the structures we’re trying to reach. Could you take a job in a sweat shop to work with sweat shop workers in order to reach them? They cannot be reached through the standard means. Somebody had to give up a good paying job and take a bad paying job in order to reach that group.
Do you know the structures in your community? Do you have any concept of what it will take to penetrate that structure? We have to be able to talk to people in those structures and find out what their needs are so that we can become friends with the right to share the Gospel rather than interlopers who interject the Gospel?
Unedited notes from the morning session.
Has to do with the organizational structure of movements. A starfish has a structure where any segment has the possibility to reproduce the entire structure. There’s a movement in every one of us. Begin with the end in mind – plant a movement, don’t just plant a church.
Three parables about the Kingdom that are organic in nature.
Sower sows seeds that lands in four different kinds of soil. The Gospel is not just a “Get out of Hell free card.” The Gospel is “The King has come.” The message of the Kingdom is Jesus. I’ve stopped telling people to plant churches. I tell them to plant Jesus. He’s the core of everything else. You can plant a church and not make disciples. We need to learn to trust in the seed. Church is the fruit, the outgrowth of the message of the Kingdom. The way to do this is to plant Jesus first. The world is more interested in Jesus than they are the church.
The man doesn’t know how the seed grows, but he knows it does and knows to harvest when it’s ready. This is the spontaneous growth of the kingdom – the seed sprouts and grows all by itself. When is this man busy? Sowing and Reaping, he’s not busy during the time of growth. When are we most busy… during growth – look at any Christian bookstore. We commit so much time, energy, and resource trying to make things grow that we don’t plant the seed. We need to see the church more like a farmer and not a CEO. We need to realize that we need to plant the seed. Curriculum is not the solution to changing lives. Books don’t change lives. The Bible does. We can’t just read the bible asking “What do the people need to hear.” We need to read it to hear God speak directly to us through His word. We make disciples by planting the seed, not a seed substitute. You can’t make something grow any more than tugging on a plant will make it grow. The growth comes from within. We need to trust that Jesus will bring the growth. Let’s bring the message of Jesus right into the darkness of our lives… take the Gospel to your drug dealer. If we trust in our methods and message more than the Seed itself, we fail.
Have you ever caused someone to die?
I will not do this until You show me from Your Word how to start churches. After six months, the how started to emerge. Let people discover God on their own from His word. Show them the scriptures, ask them what it says to them, ask them what they’re going to do about it?
I still cause people to die, but instead of dying for a system of religion, they’re dying for a savior. The power of forgiveness has been given to us. In order to withhold forgiveness, we must simply do nothing. By doing nothing, we’re saying, “You’re not forgiven.” This isn’t easy because this isn’t about religion.
What are the paradoxical differences? You have to go slow in order to go fast. You have to start with the right people… sometimes the right one person. Each effort has 2-4 years of mentoring leadership. Focus on the one in order to win the many. Jesus told His disciples to find the one person and stay there.
Jeff Vanderstelt – Soma Communities
Eph 1 – a people who exist for the praise of His glorious grace.
There is no other Senior Pastor except Jesus Christ. Jesus building a church in and through us. Most people think of the church as a building people go to. People give money to fund the activities. These serve almost like containers to hold people in. It’s almost like we’re extracting people from the world…
You are not going out to be Jesus to people, you’re going out with Jesus for Him to fill people with Himself. We’ve been saved by grace and saved for God’s work. The five-fold ministries are to equip and train the people to minister. Every member of the church is a full-time paid minister for Jesus Christ. The saints need to be doing the ministry and the pastors should not be doing the ministering for the church. “The mercenary mentality of the church.” We have to call the church to be the church.
It’s not the pastor’s job to feed the saints. It’s the job of the saints to feed others. If volunteering at the service is your highest view… it’s event volunteering.
Have we structured things so that everyone is a declarer of the Gospel and that they see all of life as the ministry they’re called to? The best place for equipping is in life. MC is a family of believers living life together – all of it. It’s the whole deal. How do you know someone is faithful to what you taught them? By seeing them live it out. The only way to disciple is life on life in the midst of everyday life. Let’s not put on programs that extract people from life but we equip them for life.
We have to help people know what their mission is. Who are they called to? Can you imagine if you were sent to another part of the world – what would you do? We ask them to realign their whole life to make disciples of a specific people group. Let’s launch and commission people. You don’t plant a church – a church emerges. Our elder track is not sitting in a classroom, but we train our elders by having be the elder of small group of people. You’d be surprised what the church can do if you believe Jesus is in them.
Jesus sneezed. Viral movements. Viruses can teach us many things. Pretty resistant, marvelous creatures. Really good ideas always spread like viruses. The more complex you make it, the harder it is to pass it along. Simple is reproducible.
Pay it forward. If we simply stayed with that methodology, in 11 iterations of pay it forward, we would reach every American. I’m going to disciple three people into the kingdom. Discipling them all the way through. In 11 iterations with all the people in this room, we’d reach the entirety of America. Expand this to a church – each church plants three churches. We’d saturate America with churches.
Two elements to an exponential movements. Apostolic Mission – traditional – won’t be enough. Mission of the People of God – every person and every domain has their role to play. It takes both to create an exponential movement. [over-k-dover]
Whatever you do has to have the capacity to reproduce itself. If it can’t be – you have to call that into question. If your idea of church is so complex – that is not easy to reproduce. Paul planted a church in 9 days. Your baptism is your commission – it shouldn’t take 7 years to train someone to be a leader. It’s a people movement.
Unedited Notes from the morning breakout.
What does it take to really build a multiplicative infrastructure that moves throughout the world? The secret is “you.” It’s within you – within every follower of Christ. They key is the presence of Christ in us. We all have the secret, but we just cover it up with all sorts of other stuff.
Pay it Forward trailer.
We want multiplication, but we usually perform addition, but we’re really good at subtraction and division.
What would you do if 100 people came to Christ in a day? What about 1,000 in a week? About 10,000 in a month? What about 1,000,000 in a year? No longer can you do church the way you’re used to. You’d be left thinking that church as we know it must change. Additive growth grows to a ceiling. Multiplicative growth has no ceiling. If our vision isn’t to see 100,000,000 come to Christ – we are stuck in an additive process.
What church multiplication is not.
Church planting without multigenerational reproduction is not multiplication. Church has daughter church, granddaughter church, great-granddaughter church, and great-great-granddaughter church. Fourth generation multiplication. A good leader can easily create three generations – great leader attracts other leaders who has followers. To get to the fourth generation requires you to give it away. Multiplication takes time – we want to take our finger off the X and put it on the + because that moves more quickly and it’s easier.
Gathering and assimilating other Christians from other churches to form new ones. This is NOT multiplication, it’s actually subtraction. Megachurches are expanding, the church itself is actually shrinking in America.
A centralized leadership development institution that sends out man church planters. Not multiplication – it can never be. If you require an institution to produce your leaders it means the churches aren’t doing it.
What it is…
The church must be self-perpetuating: she is healthy, enduring and will continue to live without needing any outside props of infusion of resources.
The church must be self-propagating: she reproduces and will naturally start other churches.
Formation of Networks: A Chain vs. A Hub
Advantages of decentralization (organic church is not a model – not saying house church – living connected growth – can be done in any model) – rapid reproduction, global impact much faster, less cost of maintenance, God is more obviously the author, more resistant to persecution, and resistant to heresy. The solution to heresy is not better trained pulpits, but better trained pews.
Advantages of centralization – better communication, faster regional impact, pooled resources, more visible presence, greater longevity of the church
The Kingdom of God begins like a mustard seed. It always begins at the smallest level – at the micro and not the macro.
Disciples, Leaders, Churches, Movements. We need to grow disciples to grow leaders who grow churches that grow movements. Your church is only as good as your disciples. God is the Bible Answer Man – not you. Trust the Holy Spirit to teach.
We usually see leadership like the Addidas “Impossible is Nothing” commercial. Chain reaction movement – impetus carried by each member. If one of use steps out of the way, the momentum stops.
The gravity of social groupings. Church is not a one-size-fits-all mentality.
2-3: Most essential size for life change
12-15: Best size for a spiritual family – not a good leadership group size
25-75: Best size for training
120-150: “Dunbar number” – 151 people stops connections. Ideal for feeling a part of a larger entity… an extended family.
300-500: Good number for casting vision and communicating an idea.
Unlimited multitudes beyond that.
How did we implement these sizes?
2-3: LTG – closest friends (Life Transformation Groups)
12-15: Simple Church family
25-75 = Regional leadership equipping
120-160 – Simple church network
300-500 – SPecial gathering conference
Infinity and Beyond
What size should leadership be? It’s outside this growth pattern and feeds all parts. It should be 5-7. Jesus didn’t violate these numbers.
Solution to institutionalization: Luke 9:23-24. The greatest sin of the evangelical church is self-preservation.
Verge was inspired by Alan Hirsch’s Book – The Forgotten Ways.
In the opening video, Alan Hirsch talks about the central theme: Jesus is Lord – he calls it a worldview in three words – it’s the centerpiece and all other aspects of a missional movement revolve around this. Tonight there were two speakers discussing the topic: Jesus is Lord. What follows is a lightly edited version of my raw notes (I basically fill in gaps as I recall them – otherwise they’re as I typed them during the message… so, the grammar will likely be off).
Matt Carter – Austin Stone
He drew his text from Revelation 2:1-7
Missional community has incredible potential to be what this generation of believers is remembered for – it could define this generation historically. (He knows this is debatable.) It’s possible when they’re writing about us as believers, they will speak of Missional Community.
Matt believes Missional Community is the long-awaited structure that the American Church has desperately needed to unleash everyday believers on mission in everyday life. To most churches the story has been “Come to us” rather than “Go” – Come to us and we will make you comfortable and help you serve the body of Christ. Too often, that is where it ends.
“When does the Holy Spirit of God get to manifest through me?” Many people are now asking this. Missional Community is the long awaited structure needed to awaken the sleeping giant of the American Church. It’s long past time for the American Church to wake up from its materialistic and narcissistic slumber and get into the fight. Unleashed into the neighborhoods and the classrooms of this country with the life-altering message of Jesus Christ.
He is also concerned that Missional Community is all we’re remembered for – nothing more. We can love our mission more than we love our Savior. If this is true, your Savior will have no part of your mission.
Nicolatians had bent so far to the culture that they were no longer salt and light to the culture. Ephesus was doing well, but they had left their first love.
Jesus says, “If I’m not the single most important person in your church, I’m coming to you and I’m no longer going to walk in your midst any longer.” He will remove His manifest presence and blessing if you love your mission more than you love Your Savior.
Jesus must be central – we need to stop and say, “Jesus, we place you first.”
Here’s how you know if Jesus is on the front of your heart and if you love Your Savior more than your mission. If Jesus took everything away from you and all you were left with was Jesus… would that be enough?
Francis Chan was next, but his excellent message was so all over the map, I’m going to need to work on editing those notes a little more so they’re coherent. I’ll post them once I get them edited.
He mentions Exodus 33:15 – the rest of these notes are written as I heard him… so there’s a lot of “I” in the following paragraphs, but that is Francis talking… good stuff.
If He’s not in this thing – I don’t wanna be a part of it. Verge – on the outer edge… just about to cross. We’re on the verge of seeing something happen – what God is already doing. Timing – everything these guys are talking about is what God has already been putting on my heart.
I liked American Church – I like hiding in the back. To his wife “of all the people on the earth, you bug me the least”
There is a unity and a love in the scriptures that we really don’t see in the church as we’ve been doing it. Maybe we’re regurgant – whatever we see in scripture is just what comes out.
We have to make sure this is driven theologically though. I’ve had other ideas: try this, try that. This is different. One of my elders said, “God doesn’t get mad at the people, He gets mad at the leaders.” Looking at scripture, we have to change… I don’t know how. This is theologically driven – it’s scripture – we can’t quit.
Be biblically corageous. Be as biblical as you can. Erase everything else. Open up the bible and do what it says. Would you ever have come up with this just reading scripture? My first thought wouldn’t be, “let’s have a gathering.” Make disciples – go out and make disciples. That’s what I would think. Staying on mission requires others – you can’t do it alone. Gathering would happen naturally in the disciple-making process. We domesticate.
In the church, when Jesus says it, we don’t have to do it, we just have to memorize it (compared to Simon says). If I tell my daughter to clean my room – she could just memorize it and say it in Greek and have a study group about what it would look like if she did that.
When I meet a brother, I have to treat that person like family. Acts 2 & Acts 4:32. It’s radical what they did, but it makes sense. If you saw someone rise from the grave, you would tell everyone you know. The way we love one another is how others see Jesus. When others come to our gatherings they still don’t see that.
Do you think that way? Do we think about what Jesus wants. What does He desire? He wants to see us living like family. Like an extension of one another.
Why do people say this is cultural? Why would they write it down if it was just cultural? Why can’t this happen to us? What’s mine is truly yours if you ever need it. We are each other’s life insurance. Let’s be interdependent with one another. It’s so rare. It’s those times that feel like the Bible.
Are you sure you’ve experienced the Holy Spirit this last year? We’re not in here starting and strategizing a movement. This has got to be a Jesus thing. The disciples didn’t plan out Pentecost. It was the Holy Spirit working in a bunch of different individuals to create one unified result. You don’t go out to a calm ocean to try and make a wave so you can surf – this is the same thing. The waves are created by Jesus and we’re along for the ride. If we start a movement, there’s no power to it.
Do we pray for our neighbors and neighborhoods? Are we just trying too hard?
Like the Big Red Tractor – are we just pushing and pulling it along? Finding the most talented people and do enough to make us happy? That’s not enough. It’s not what we see in scripture.
Let’s pray – let’s pray that our churches are family. We don’t look like family anymore. We’re as individualistic as the rest of the world. If we pray for this to change, we know we’re praying in Jesus name because these are things clearly in scripture that God wants – help us to love one another so much so that people would see Christ in how we love one another. I’m asking that we really make Jesus Lord. Let’s not just memorize, study, and talk. Nothing was going to stop the church in teh book of Acts – it was an unstoppable force.
I’ve been using Twitter for a year or so now. When I first joined up, it was in the middle of the throes of people who “got it” by using it primarily as a push mechanism and those who were n00bs because they were still using it to tell people where they were instead of providing “useful” information. Being as I was a person who rarely had any add’l useful information to add to the “conversation” I rarely tweeted.
Then I joined Soma. Twitter is being used for a very different and, in my opinion, a much better purpose. It’s a communication medium, but also a communal one. It’s like facebook (almost every Soman on Twitter is also on FB), except it’s not facebook. The conversations on Twitter are really more like conversations – could this happen on FB? Probably, but not as easily… FB has way more noise (due to games, events, apps, gads of friends, etc.) The conversation on Twitter can be immediate, delayed, or a hybrid of the two – but somehow far easier to follow and, interestingly enough, more encouraging to watch.
Active community is a primary goal at Soma and Twitter is evidence that a communal environment is growing. People “check-in” at various locales to let others know where they’re at and there’s a pretty solid understanding that if you’re nearby, please drop by and say hi or even join in (depending on what’s happening). In the one week since I’ve been following the Soma peeps on Twitter, I’ve seen the typical social media stuff like meetups announced and in-jokes and shout outs and cool links posted… but I’ve also seen confessions regarding struggles, concerns voiced, strong solidarity evidenced through group encouragement, church-wide mobilization to bring aid to Haiti, and prayers and praises offered… what’s amazing about this is that Twitter, unlike FB, is a fully public forum. Anybody can look into this, follow one of the soma lists and see what we’re talking about and how we’re interacting without “friending” anyone in the church.
Whether intentional or not, this public view is evidence of a growing gospel community: transparency, confession, prayer, encouragement, and social conscience on public display. A stream of thought display of people showing their love for Christ by clearly declaring His name and evidencing that love through our love for one another and our love of our neighbors. It’s beautiful to watch and by God’s grace, it will become more and more prevalent and then Austin really will know Soma belongs to Jesus because of our love for one another.
I’m a fairly apolitical person. I know the necessity of government and the importance of personal involvement in the political process. The difficulty I encounter is multi-faceted:
So, I continue to work and to fight and to pray that God would grow within me a passion for the people of this city that mirrors His own. Nobody loves more than He does. Nobody can outdo Him for His willingness to fight for the disenfranchised and the hurting. My King, Jesus Christ, lived His passion among us by spending time with and loving the criminal, the poor, the beggars, and the disenfranchised without ignoring the rest. He eschewed comfort so that He could more effectively live among those who needed Him the most. Yes, the culture is different and, no, Jesus did not advocate an ascetic or Franciscan existence – but He did call me to love as He loves while preaching the Good News: Jesus came to take those who are dead in their sin and make them alive in Him by revealing the Truth – that we were made for God’s glory and our greatest joy is knowing and serving Him, but we desperately need to be reconciled by Christ before that is even possible. One beautiful part of serving God is that we also have the great privilege of being useful here on earth by sharing His love with others and serving Him by serving all with passion and humility.
I haven’t the foggiest idea how to do this, but I know that I must… so forward I strive, trusting in His grace and power to pave and light the way. May I be a blessing to all those who know me – not for my fame, but for His.
*This can freak some people out as it sounds like I’m listening to some disembodied imaginary friend who could lead me to perform some act of violence for the sake of “god” – well, I can only say to those folk… you obviously don’t know me and you most certainly don’t know of the God of Whom I speak. He doesn’t need my help to exercise wrath; and, in fact, He calls me to be an instrument of His grace, not His sword.
Hopefully, you see in these writings a man who is staying The Course and pursuing The Path amidst the pitfalls and selfish ways of being a son of Adam. I pray earnestly that my writing would encourage some of you by showing you that this journey - though arduous and sometimes tragic - is a journey of great satisfaction. A satisfaction greater than our greatest imaginings. The trials and refining fire of tribulation are to be recognized as a small shadow of the suffering of our Savior so that we can rejoice, as Peter and the disciples did, to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Name.