Toward one Holy Obsession

29 08 2008

I’ve discovered that one reason I’ve struggled in my walk with God was the habit I’ve had of putting it in the wrong category.  I’ve learned that just as the “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” but not the end (the end is love and fear is merely a part of the foundation) so the discipline of spending time with God is the beginning of a walk with him but not the end.  The end is not discipline but the development of a holy obsession – worship.  Discipline is merely the foundation.  Let me make this practical.

Someone in your community became a Christian and confessed Lordship last night.  So tonight you’re training him on how to walk with God.  The first thing you teach him is that he must order his entire life around the discipline of spending time with the Father.  He cannot treat this as a side thing but he must truly believe that it is the most important part of his day.  Once he has re-architected his daily rhythm to reflect this top priority and is consistently spending time with the Father as a discipline you immediately build on that foundation and move from discipline to connection.

Spending time with the Father should never be a checklist of disciplined activities.  It has to quickly become a relational connection.  Interaction between a father and son.  So you ask questions like – do you feel deeply connected to your Father through the time you spent with him today?  Did the two of you interact?  Is a close bond developing through your time with Him?  Is He teaching you?  Is He comforting you?  Is He extorting you?  What activities would you do if you were merely trying to connect and interact?  Is that what you’re doing with your time with the Father?  I’ve found that the category of discipline for my time with the Father is a good foundation but its a horrible place to stop.  It’s like the discipline of dating your spouse.  Yah, its good to have that disciplined one night per week set aside to spend time with her but if it feels like a discipline when you actually go out on that date and you are both satisfied with zero connection, zero bonding, zero interaction because you can check off that you fulfilled your discipline, what kind of relationship is that?  But that’s the way I treated my time with God for YEARS and no one was able to explain to me that it shouldn’t remain a discipline but it must move to connection and interaction, that it must become a Father/son relationship.  But once you are deeply and regularly connecting with God you build on this second foundation a third thing.

Our daily connection with the Father must become our chief obsession.  The essence of the 1st commandment (you shall have no other gods before me) is that God himself is the one holy obsession of our lives.  We were made to worship and be obsessed and every human being will either worship an idol, medicate their lack of worship through addictions, or worship God.  Worship is the reflection that we’re imbalanced and obsessed.  And we were made to worship.  But how many Christians have made other things their ultimate things – work, hobbies, even ministry, and then show up once a week to “worship God” as a discipline.  How strange is that?  We can’t be satisfied with that.  When we gather to worship it must be as a group of people who have been God-entranced all week, through our discipline that led to a deep connection, that leads to continual worship and adoration.  That is how you walk with God.

So as we train others (and ourselves) we need to help people understand how these categories work.  We move from:

  • Apathy to Discipline
  • Discipline to Connection
  • Connection to Obsession

And as our obsession grows and takes over more and more of our thoughts, feelings, time and focus our walk with God deepens until the most natural thing in the world is for us to go home and be with our Father saying with Paul, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

A Typical Night at the Story-Formed Life

11 05 2008

The 10 nights we do the Story-Formed Life need to have a certain tone or vibe.  Here I describe what that is intended to be and how we try and create it.

Church Planting vs. Training Disciples

11 04 2008

There is an evident move of God in our day toward the launching of new works that has resulted in great interest in the planting of new churches . This fervor is correctly drawing from our understanding that new churches are far more effective at reaching emerging cultures than existing churches. But I want to ask a series of simple questions. Does Jesus ever tell us to go plant churches? Is this command anywhere in the New Testament? And maybe on a more controversial note – do we ever even see the practice of church planting in the New Testament?

The disciples of Jesus were given an extremely clear and narrow commission to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations…” Why didn’t Jesus tell us to go into all the world and plant churches? Have you ever considered the difference? Until one year ago I was living as if the Great Commission said to go and plant churches, until a man from China literally showed up, out of nowhere, and practically stuffed my face in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). This began a journey for me of discovering how my strategies, thoughts and activities stem almost entirely from modern-day church practice (or emerging church practice) and not Scripture.

“OK, but what about Paul? Surely he was a church planter first?” It’s been interesting to note Paul’s recorded activities. We only see him actually doing two things – proclaiming the Gospel and training disciples. “But what about the churches that started in those cities?” They were the gathering of the disciples into bodies that occurs naturally among trained disciples. There is no need to corral the Sons and Daughters of God into gatherings and serve them. This is the strange anomaly of our day and merely serves to conceal our utter failure to make disciples.

Paul did launch city-wide discipleship training everywhere he went which naturally birthed house churches by the thousands but his focus was on the city expression of church which was more like a discipleship training center (such as the School of Tyrannus in Ephesus) and not the planting of individual bodies (churches).

If you intentionally make disciples you will plant many churches but if you plant many churches you will not necessarily make disciples. Which did Jesus command us to do?