What I’ve Learned in Organic Church Part 3: Desperation for the Lord

•January 25, 2012 • 22 Comments

*** This article is part of a blog series by some of us meeting together in an organic expression of the church.  The introduction to the series is here.  Other contributors are listed at the bottom of this article.  This series is not based in theory or rhetoric and is not an attempt to “teach”.  Our hope is simply to point to Christ as All in All and to share real life experiences of those who are living together in this way. ***

“Lord Jesus, I need you.”

I have learned this simple and profound prayer is essential to living.  It has become/is becoming that which I pray continually throughout every day.

At first, it seems elementary and almost too basic to bother with. The first several times I was encouraged to make this prayer my breath, my immediate response was, “I know I need the Lord. This is all I have ever heard in the church.”  So I ignored it. If you are having/have had this same reaction, it is completely understandable.

The need for Jesus is always taught about. We need His salvation. We need Him to forgive our sins. We need His grace to make it through the day. We need His power to conquer something. We need Him to give us patience.  We need His teachings to live a life of love. The list goes on from there. . .

We know we need Christ.  

However, once we accept Him as Lord, we are often taught that we “need” to do other things as well to grow and remain in Christ: attend services, read the Bible every day, feed the homeless, find our spiritual gifts, pursue a holy life, etc.  Even in doing these good things, the pursuit of living a moral, Christian life subverts seeking the Lord only and He eventually becomes the Magnificent Assumption by which we live our daily lives.

When this happens, He no longer is the full source of our life but only an under-lying idea to us practicing a moral life according to the Bible and what we are told we “need” to do. We turn to Him only during our morning devotions or when we are really struggling or when someone/thing is really frustrating us or if we give thanks for something good which happens to us. In short, He becomes the Backbone of the Church, in whom we find support for ourselves to live the Christian life.

However, there is a huge issue with this. The Lord is not simply the Backbone but the Head and the whole Body, which is the ekklesia. He is the Head from whom the whole life of the ekklesia comes, not just the Head in the sense of authority. In Colossians 2:19, Paul, speaking against a person seeking to corrupt the Colossian ekklesia, wrote that that person was “not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (ESV) The life of the whole body come from Christ and holding fast to Him alone.

So the prayer “Lord Jesus, I need You” reflects our recognition of our desperation for the Lord and clinging fast to the Him alone.

Not for a practice or one aspect of Him so that we may be strengthened in trying to live the Christian life, but for the Lord Himself.  He is the reality of all that we are now.  We are in Christ and Christ is in us.  We do not have to do anything to gain more of Him.  We possess Him fully and this will fully be realized at the Great Wedding of the Bridegroom and Bride.  Paul describes to the Colossians their reality in 3:3-4,

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (NASB)

This is what I have really learned in organic church life.

Since we are in Christ, the only thing we must do is desperately seek Him: not because we are lacking Him (since we are in Him and possess all that He is) but clinging fast to Him so that we learn to depend on His life alone and not our own. For, in Him, we lack nothing. Christ is our rest (Matthew 11:28), when we may be tired. Christ is our peace (John 14:27), when all is in turmoil about and in us. Christ is the true vine (John 15:1-8) and we find all life and sustenance as we abide in Him. Christ is the living water (John 4:14) and we no longer thirst for anything else. Christ is the bread of life (John 6:48) and we need no other food.  Christ is our light (John 8:12), by whom we see all in an eternal light.  Christ is before all, in all, and through all and, by Him, all things were made and are held together (Colossians 1:15-20).  Christ is all in all and all we will ever need.

As I have shared in the indwelling life of Christ with my brothers and sisters in organic church, I have learned the reality that is at the beating heart of the ekklesia: “Lord Jesus, I/we need You.”

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Further Resources:

A good definition of organic church.

Living by the indwelling life of Christ.  Also here.  And here.

Other Bloggers in this Series (And Post Dates):

R.C. Babione (2/29/12)

Brigette Babione (2/8/12)

Nathan Burgman

Jackie Dukes (2/1/12)

Marc Hardy (1/25/12)

Mark Lake (1/18/12)

Seth Roach (2/15/12)

Tobias Valdez

Carrie Walters (2/22/12)

Michael Young (1/11/12)


A New Year in Organic Church Life

•January 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It seems appropriate to post a short blog about a few things going on with me.

First, a quick announcement.  I am going to be participating in a multi-part, multi-blog project with several of the saints here in Gainesville.  My post is going to be going live on January 25 but all of the posts in this series are going to be absolutely incredible.  Every person who is participating is a beautiful portion of the Lord and I consider myself fortunate to share in the Lord with them each week.

Here is the introduction for the whole series, which includes links to all of the blogs involved, and here is the first post, both of which are by a dear brother who is always passionate about the Lord.

As for the general stuff going on in life, I have a quite a bit going on.  I am still working for Starbucks which, as always, the Lord has used to bring incredible revelations of Himself into my life.  The most significant of these has been simply Himself and small encouragements to turn to Him throughout the day to continually learn to depend on His life and not my own.

On a somewhat work related note, I am seriously pursuing going back to school this next summer.  I am going to begin taking classes to fulfill the requirements to eventually enter medical school in a few years. This seems really strange considering that I just got out of school, and seminary at that, but I’ve always had a good head for science and want to be involved in a career where I can be fully available to the Lord to move anywhere, if necessary, and so I will be able to provide for the body as much as possible.

The most significant reason for writing this post is: I have officially been sharing in organic church life for one year now.

Even though I spent six-and-a-half years in college and seminary, continually learning more about God, which should supposedly have been an incredible time.  However, this past year has been the richest and most incredible year of my life.  I have experienced the Lord in amazing ways: what He has done in and through the body but also in my life.  I have come to understand my life,  including my past, in a whole new light: the reality of being in Christ and Christ in me.  It has released me from a guilt I never knew I was even carrying and the Lord teaching me to embrace the reality of the cross in order to continually learn to live by His life and not my own.

I know this is just a short update, in lieu of how long my blogging absence has been, but I thought it would good to post a little something for those interested as well as the people who may be reading my blog for the first time.

I would encourage you to check back on the 25th for my next blog, which has been one of the biggest things I have learned in organic church life.

A Time of Beholding

•June 27, 2011 • 4 Comments

It has been some time since I have felt that I should write another blog post.  It is not because I have not had anything to say about what I am experiencing in organic church life.  On the contrary, I had had an abundance of things to write on, if I had felt so inclined.  I had a series of potential posts concerning how I have seen and experienced “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing” by Soren Kierkegaard lived out in organic church life as I have been reading through it.

The church has gone through significant periods that certainly would be good for others to hear about.  The most incredible of these periods was when a sister in the church was incredibly sick and we witnessed Christ acting not only through her complete healing over a period of a couple of month, but Christ working in all of the church, bringing us into a deeper love for Him and for each other as we all served the sick sister and her family.

Even though there was so much I could have blogged about, I never felt a release to by the Lord.  I have recently come to understand that He has desired for me to be entirely focused on Him, beholding Him, and learning, growing, and living in His indwelling life in the midst of organic church life.  He has drawn my focus to His life here in the present, in the midst of organic church life, and nothing really outside of all that is happening here.

This time of focusing on Him alone has led to many things not being as important as they used to be, although in time I’m sure they will become important again.  The first of which may shock you but I have actually stopped reading my Bible every night.  Before you label me as a heretic, I wish to show why this was so important.  Every person is generally told that you are not a Christian if you don’t ready your Bible.  I have read it cover to cover at least four times but, ever since college and seminary, my reading of Scripture has been nearly lifeless and almost strictly intellectual.  I was not seeking to grow in Christ’s life or have Him continually life more in me through what I read.

In the same way, I have not been able to read anything theological or philosophical in content, not even the books and articles related to organic church.  I have been trying to finish Kierkegaard’s “Purity of Heart”, which I started in November, but have been unable to.  With all I have said so far, I do not at all intend to be anti-intellectual or against reason.  Both are very important but all that many of us in seminaries, colleges, and even churches are taught to use.  Both are important but only if they originate from the life of Christ indwelling within.  Reason and intellect has been the primary lens that I have viewed life for the last six-and-a-half years, while, even though I was a part of a church each Sunday, I never actually learned to grow and live in the vastness of the life  in, of, and through Christ.  I have lived with reason as my defining way of thinking that it seems the Lord has brought in me into a time where I am learning to live and think through His life, and not my own wisdom.

This brings us the final thing that the Lord has removed for this time of focusing: blogging.  What I have meant to with my blog since I moved to Florida is to give people a tiny insight into my life here within organic church life.  However, every once in a while, my blogging has drifted towards sharing this life with you so that I might be noticed.  The only purpose of my blogging should only be conveying Christ to all that should read what I write.  So I’m not sure how much I’ll write after this post but, when I come to a point where

This period of focusing that the Lord has brought me to a place where only the Lord, as well as He through His bride, has been teaching me to live, and so that nothing, not even my own “life” or wisdom could be relied upon. This has led me into a continually deeper revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ that will only continue to grow, which has brought me to a deeper knowledge about myself and my faults.  These have ranged from simply personal habits as far as relationships with others and ultimately the Lord.  Many of these that I have consciously and unconsciously been affected by, the Lord has already begun to heal me of since I have been here.  Through this healing process, every day the Lord becomes dearer than before as He grows in me and I grow in Him and I continue to learn to love my brothers and sisters, as well as others, in new ways.  Every day I continually am learning to say anew, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”

So, I do not know when my next post will be.  I hope this post has been edifying and informative about my blogging silence. Until this period of complete focus on the life with the Lord that I am in and in the midst of begins to look different from the present time, I wish grace to you all and peace, through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lent and Organic Church

•March 25, 2011 • 2 Comments

This year has be a significant change in my life.  Instead of being in school, as I have been for the past twenty-three-and-a-half years of my life, or potentially fulfilling a pastoral role of some sort in a church, I am a simple barista at a local Starbucks in Gainesville, FL, and a participant in an organic church, which is the reason I moved to Gainesville in the first place.  This is where the Lord has led me and called me to be.

One thing that is really different, on top of that other stuff, is the lack of a celebration of the Lenten season.  Lent has been a part of my experience since I was at least in junior or senior high, when we had our foreheads marked with a cross of ash.  Ever since than, every year since whenever that was, this time of year has come around when people would begin considering what they felt God was calling them to give up for Lent.  I have to confess, most years, I could not think of something to give up so I simply would not participate.  Still, it often felt like there was a continual pressure to participate in Lent, even if one did not feel that something in particular needed to be surrendered for forty days.

However, my only connection to Lent this year is with the status updates of my friends on Facebook related to Lent, as well Ash Wednesday when I was surprised by customers coming in with ash crosses which made me realize what day it was.  This reason for lack of a celebration of Lent is my being a part of and participating in organic church life.  The season of Lent simply does not have a significant place in organic church life.  However, I can say confidently that the significance of Lent is continuously embodied in organic church life.  I have discovered that I can say in the same breath that Lent is both not important and incredibly important in organic church life.

Let me explain how I can say this.  The active participation in the Lenten season just simply does not really fall into the seasons of organic church life.  This is not to say that if one person in the church felt the need to celebrate the Lenten season in its proper time in the Christian calendar, that he or she would be ostracized or excluded in any way for doing so.  On the contrary, his or her practice of Lent would be gladly welcomed and others might feel the need to participate as well.  So the practice of Lent is very welcome but is not really practiced within the usual Christian calendar.

However, while Lent does not visibly manifest itself between Ash Wednesday and Easter in organic church life, it fills the very life and practices of organic church.  Nothing other than the Father, Son, and Spirit fill our very beings as we seek that that nothing other than Jesus Christ, the visible manifestation and fullness of the Godhead, be embodied by His bride, His Church, His people.  Since our pursuit is Christ alone, Christ in all and through all, the very practice of Lent, giving up whatever feel the Lord calls us to so that we make seek Him more fully, is our very life.  If the Lord brings something to our attention that is hindering our fellowship with Him, we are called to lay it down.  Sometimes He even simply makes things in our life less important as we go about living without us even realizing it, in order that we might see Him more clearly and seek Him more fully.

It has been interesting seeing Lent from this perspective, instead of the focus on it that I have usually seen during this part of the year.  Even though I am not actually participating in the Lenten season, as many of you, my friends, are, I pray that your Lenten season will be richly blessed and that what is at the heart of Lent will resonate in all your hearts throughout the year, continually unveiling the vastness, riches, and beauty of Christ.

God is Our Shepherd

•March 21, 2011 • 11 Comments

Hello friends.  I apologize for the lack of updates on life.  It is difficult to find time to blog in the midst of all that is going on.  I have had numerous ideas bouncing around in my head that I have considered writing on, including one almost finished blog that I should have up soon.  However, the church meeting that took place on Saturday has eclipsed all other blog possibilities at the moment.

The organic church meetings that I have been to up to this point have all been amazing, revealing the ways that God is moving in His bride.  So, as I highlight this meeting, do not think I have not enjoyed the meetings but that this one was even more incredible than the others that I have been a part of.

First, I must explain how a typical Saturday functions, if I haven’t already.  The only direction of the meetings that we participate in are through the direction of the Holy Spirit.  This includes the songs that are sung and what is shared, although what is shared is usually the outgrowth of how the Lord has been working in us all throughout the week.  Sometimes there  are defined singing and sharing sections, though they often intermingle in other meetings.  Although the meetings flow this way, we still meet on the first Saturday of each month to decide, through the guidance of the Spirit, what each meeting will focus on.  This week’s meeting was a “Bring a Treasure” meeting, which basically means we can bring anything that we have seen Christ in recently.

As soon as we started singing, it was beyond amazing to see how Christ directed the whole evening.  The songs that people asked to sing all flowed together, each conveying the overwhelming vastness of Christ, Who is continually revealing Himself to us more and more in each moment of each day, yet we will never reach the end of His vastness.  The joy among the saints as we were singing was simply electric.  Even the Scripture passages that people shared, flowed perfectly with what we were expressing with our singing.

Not only was the singing directed by the Lord, but as we began sharing, it was evident that He was directing what would be shared and when.  As people began sharing, it was evident that the Lord had been reminding us that He is Comfort, Peace, our sustenance, and our Shepherd, not dependent on what life is like, but always.  This was continually brought up in different ways, even poetry, by numerous people, including myself.

I had prepared to play a song on my guitar to the community this week.  There has been a song continually on my mind for the past months, which has continually been reminding me of the Peace  that can only be found in God alone, even in the midst of the craziness of work.  It is the song “House of God Forever” by Jon Foreman.

When I felt it was time to get up and get my guitar ready, I moved to the back corner to get ready.  In the mean time, a sister began sharing how she had been thinking of the nature of God’s rod and staff, which directs us and pulls us out of danger, as well as comforts us.  So, completely independent of each other, we both had brought something on the same Scripture passage.  I played my song  and even after that, others brought even more on Psalm 23 that they had discovered this week.  The evening continued to flow around this topic, from many different angles, and it was simply beautiful and it will be a meeting I will not forget.

It is difficult to fully describe how this evening played out but it was fully the movement of Christ through His people in an undeniable way.  I hope this has given you a glimpse of what one evening looks like and I would encourage anyone who may be curious about organic church to not hesitate to ask me.

One Monthish Later…

•February 15, 2011 • 12 Comments

So I thought I would be update my blog more often but it has not quite been able to work out that easily yet.  Between simply getting settled here, getting used to working at a new Starbucks store, and getting used to life in organic church, I have yet to really find a rhythm to life.  Hopefully, that will change in the coming weeks and/or months but we will have to see, I guess.

I am still working for Starbucks here in Gainesville, which is going incredibly well.  I enjoy my co-workers a lot and, after only being here a month, my manager has made me one of two barista trainers at our store.  So I’ll be one of the ones responsible for training any new hires who will be working morning or afternoon shifts.  I’m looking forward to this a lot and I”m just amazed that I am being given this possibility.

As for life in organic church, it is difficult to even begin to describe what it is like living in it.  It is nothing like anything I have ever been a part of or experienced before.  Life is no longer about what must be done but learning what it means to be and live in Christ as a community.  Each day is about continuing to discover the vastness of Christ, both individually and with others.  The meeting on Saturday night of each week is the culmination of our experiences with Christ during the week, which are shared with others so that they may experience the ways others have experienced the Lord.  We are the blind people in the Indian parable who are seeing the elephant from different perspectives, perceiving it is something else.  We are perceiving Christ from different perspectives, none of them the same, but with one difference: we all know Who we are experiencing but that other perspectives are needed.  He is beyond what any one of us might experience so we must rely on others to bear witness to what they have seen so that we come to even slightly know Jesus Christ more.

As to what the average month looks like in our community, we begin each month planning what the next month will look like, as well as any issue that the church needs to come to a consensus on how to deal with it.  We plan what each month will look like in terms of  activities and what we will prepare for each week.  We also always try and look at some long term plans such as retreats and sharing the Lord’s Supper as a whole community.  What we do each week  can be very different.  We could look at a them within Scripture or do some fun activity in which we demonstrate Christ to each other.  Each week also includes getting together with others often to support them or to just watch a movie.

All I can say above all is that, even though I love my biological family, I am truly a part of a a family here, where every person is deeply loved.  This is a really exciting time for me and I’m so happy to be here for it.  It is amazing to see God at work in my family here and to see Christ in them.  I look forward to continue to seek God alone with these people, as we share in this journey together.

A New Life in Organic Church

•January 2, 2011 • 6 Comments

It’s been far too long since I posted anything on here but I guess that’s can be expected when I had about 300 pages of reading each week, along with tons of papers, the majority of them being between ten-fifteen pages, over the past semester.  Anyways, I have completely finished school and, as far as I know, I have gotten my Master of Arts in Theological Studies after two and a half years.  Before I had even finished, everyone had been asking me what I was going to do next.

Well, here it is.  I have moved to Gainesville, FL, to be a part of an organic church community.  It’s a community whose whole existence and life is defined solely by the Triune God at work within it.  There is no organized structure like you might expect in a church community but any structure that emerges is as the Spirit is at work among the people of the community.

Before I continue, I’ll preemptively answer some questions that I’m sure are emerging in your minds.  No, it’s not a cult.  And, no, we don’t live in a commune.

What it is, though, is a community that understands it’s nature and purpose as a church grounded solely in Christ.  The life that exists within the community flows as Christ continues to work in the lives of all involved and as they participate together in Christ.  This even included the times when the whole community gathers together.  The entire evening is an outpouring of praise for how members of the community have witnessed Christ at work in themselves and in others throughout the week.  It’s a time for the community to collectively affirm how Christ has been shaping and is continuing to shape the community.

The life of Christ seen throughout the week is demonstrated by the ways that community members intentionally interact with each other throughout the week.  If any community has a chance of arguing for embodying the phrase, “All the believers were together and had everything in common”, it would be this kind of community.  The love that everyone has for each other is continually poured out though small things, like inviting several people over for a meal or offering to babysit for a couple, or bigger things like helping out someone in the community who is in need.

So that’s what my life after grad school consists of now.  I transfered to a Starbucks down here in Gainesville and will continue to work for the Bux for the foreseen future.

I know many of you might be curious about this, so feel free to ask me any questions you like.  For those of you who might somehow be concerned about my being a part of this, let just say I have not taken move down here lightly.  I am only continuing in seeking God above all things, that He might be the only ground on which I have to stand (as I have no ground of my own to stand upon or anything good that I can claim as my own).  Only in God can we find anything that is good.  Our love, faithfulness, and hope are not inherently ours but only find their existence in God.  It is only because of His faithfulness that we can live faithfully to the gospel of Christ we have been called.  It is only because of His self-sacrificing overwhelming love that He has exhibited that we can self-sacrificially love God and others.  It is only in the certain hope that He has given us in and through Christ, that we have a certain hope beyond our own existence.

In light of this, I moved to Gainesville because this is where God has led me to be and I cannot rightly do anything else.  The only thing that one can seek is the purity of heart of will one thing, in the words of Kierkegaard.  That “one thing” is God alone, no matter what or whatever place of life.  So the whole of our existence can, and must only be, seeking God above all things  and continually praying that we might echo Paul in Philippians 3:

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through [the faithfulness of] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith[fulness]. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

This is what my life consists of as I am starting life after seminary in Gainesville.  Since I do not have homework or classes to focus on now, I am planning on setting up scheduled days to blog so that those of you who care to know, can follow what I will be experiencing while I participate in this organic church community and as I continue to seek Christ above all things.