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the continuing saga

I've been out of the blogging saddle for a couple of weeks now. The transition to Austin has been going well, although Kimberly and I both have experienced a real sense of spiritual oppression as we've made this transition. I've been in a lot of countries where there is a real sense of the darkness of idolatry and the depravity of man, but I have never sensed oppression like this before. I feel like we've been walking targets. I've been getting up crazy early, not because I'm pious, but because I'm desperate... desperate for God in this oppression... desperate for God to reign in my life and move in ways that can only be attributed to Him.

God has still been confirming the transition, though. We've had a couple of meetings with the guys on staff at the church where we've really wrestled through what true discipleship looks like and why the American church, on the whole, has done a terrible job of producing committed, radical, missional, prayer-besotted, passionate disciples of Jesus Christ. The first part to solution is naming the problem. We're all "rich, young rulers" who have no need of the King of Glory because we're too easily satisfied by the metal and plastic toys of our age.

Because of this and other things, I've really been wrestling about the direction of the ministry I've been encharged to lead. I'm just not satisfied with current Western paradigms of doing minsitry. Come and see, invest and invite, bring 'em to an event... that just doesn't rev my strategic engine anymore. Why do we think that events are what change people's lives?

I'm enamored with what God is doing around the world, though. A church planting movement in a province in India which was once called the "graveyard of missions" is now exploding with people coming to Christ - 1.5 million over the last 10 years to be exact. 30,000 church plants later and they have a real, live revival on their hands. Here's the crazy thing - there's no secrets to their strategy.

Guess what they do? They pray like crazy. They share Christ with anything that moves. They cling to God's Word as completely and universally authoritative. They reproduce themselves in others - immediately and rapidly. They don't have buildings, outside money, or staff. They don't have slick events. They teach everyone, and I mean everyone, to plant churches. And they are some of the most committed and passionate people you will ever meet on the face of the planet. They understand the they have one shot at life, that life is short and unpredictable, that some of their friends will proabably die for their faith, that they will definitely incur persecution, that they have been left on planet earth to do some damage for the Kingdom, and that they will go down swinging.

Now, contrast this with your typical Western Christian. We pray when we feel like it, or only if we get into some sort of crisis. We read God's word like it's a newspaper. It might take us 10 years to ever feel "good enough" to sit down and mentor someone. We have plenty of buildings, tons of cash and great big staffs. We love slick events. We think church planting is for the few, the proud, the professional. And we get upset if, God forbid, someone challenges to do something other than pray, pay and get out of the way. We believe that we will all live to be approximately 85 years of age, that life is long and predictable (if you can make enough money), that dying for your faith is something that happened 1900 years ago - but not today, that persecution means having Nancy Pelosi as a national leader, that we have been left on the planet to accumulate as much wealth and stuff as possible, and that we will go down swinging - on the front porch of our assisted living home while sipping lemonade and singing Gaither hymns.

Maybe it will take the church of the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America) to shame us into waking up to the reality that our King will return and He won't look like the "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" that we all talk about. He will come in triumph. He will come with a sword. He's going to kick some @$*. And in the meantime we are to have the same mentality, taking nothing for granted, provoking our minds to action, and living as if the "reality" and stuff we see each day in the West is really going to be nothing more in the end than Kingsford charcoal brickettes and lighter fluid.

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