Dear Onething Attenders
I love you. No, really. I really love you. I was there last year with my 18-year-old, my nine-year-old, and my seven-year-old. This year my 19-year-old is with you by herself, spreading her wings a little bit. So to say that I love you is not a stretch at all.
In fact, I was you. Believer it or not, this old looking guy was at the very first Onething conference in 2001 as a 20-year-old and I was part of every one since until 2006 when my wife and I were having our first baby. I remember the days of traveling to Kansas City, the close relationships that would forge over hours in the car together, the anticipation of what God would do, the early mornings trying to get good seats and the long days meeting God during worship and preaching. I remember all of it.
Several years into going to Onething, I made the transition of moving to KC and joining what is now called IHOPU. I transitioned from going to the conference to living the lifestyle. I loved it. I remember when the realization hit me during my second or third year there that the Onething gathering is probably the closest thing to an apostolic gathering that I had ever been part of. And even though I’m not in KC anymore, it’s kept me coming back. Truth be told, if circumstances allowed, I’d be there again this year.
So with that said, as an old guy to some young folks, let me tell you some things I’ve learned over the years that will help this short window be as meaningful as possible.
I mean this in the best way possible. Be all in. Be there for what this conference is. Nothing ever made me sadder during my times there when I would see other young people my age hanging out, goofing off, flirting, and just trying to have a good time outside of the conference. You came because something in your heart stirred when you heard about people living radically for God. Don’t miss a minute of your short chance to see that played out.
So you’re there in the midst of this huge conference and you’re hearing about a God who loves you more than you ever thought, you’re hearing about what God wants to do in the Earth, and I’m sure you’ve heard how God wants to use you to impact your world. But you know you’re going to have to go back home and live a normal life. Will any of this still be real when you get back? Can I just say that the most important fight you will have over the next week is to embrace everything God has for you and believe that it will still be true? It will still be true when the bands have moved from the stage to the prayer room and you are on your way home. Believe that the things you hear this week are true that they will still be true a month from now when Mike Bickle isn’t declaring them over thousands of people. Build your life around these things. It’s important for the future.
Find Some Old Guys (or Ladies) and Ask How They Did It
You’ll hear this over and over again at this conference. Being radical is not showing up for these three days and worshiping really, really loudly. Being radical is taking the things that you learn here and living them out for the next 30 and 40 years, should the Lord tarry. If that’s true, you’re going to need to find some people who have been doing that longer than you have. Hopefully some of the people who brought you are in that category. But if not, determine not just to buy a t-shirt or a teaching series, but to find someone who has done this and ask them how they did it.
Also, make sure you pay attention when Mike Bickle and Allen Hood are speaking. There will probably be younger people that you can relate to better that will speak at this conference. You could be tempted to think they have nothing to teach you. I’ve seen Mike preach controversial messages and have hundreds of young adults walk out of the room But I’ve watched these guys continue to live the same lifestyle, day in and day out for years. They are steady and fiery. That makes them worth paying extra close attention to. Don’t miss their sessions if you can possibly help it.
Make Time for Jesus
I’m sure at this point you’re thinking, “Seriously? Doesn’t he realize I’m at Onething?” But the fact of the matter is you can get so caught up being in conference mode that you don’t pray or seek the Lord. If the Lord isn’t prompting you to be at a workshop, head to the prayer room. Pray about the things God is speaking to you. Talk to Him. He wants to speak to You. Some of my most powerful times last year were during the times I snuck away to be with Jesus. You won’t regret it.
Okay. I know you’re busy. I’ll leave it at that. I might write again next week to encourage you in what to do after you’re back home. But for now, enjoy what God is doing with you. Keep saying “yes” every time He asks. You will not regret it.
Onething Class of ’01
When I was in college, it was normal to stay up late. People stayed up late partying, studying, playing practical jokes, and all sorts of other things. So it was natural for me as I was following Jesus and reaching out to college kids for my nights to be late. Ministry happened at weird hours.
Then I moved to Kansas City. Remember that I moved to Kansas City to go to a Bible college that was part of a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week house of prayer that has been going non-stop since 1999. That means you could (and still can) walk in at 3 A.M. Christmas morning and there would be people there singing their hearts out or praying over the city.
The culture of a place like that changes you. You loose a little of your American preoccupation with holidays as you watch people you know faithfully interceeding for the end of abortion on Labor Day. When you commit to one thing being important above all else, even your American break in the calendar, you begin to see how much time you’ve truly built in for yourself in your calendar.
While we were in Kansas City we joined a house church network where the leader continually emphasized that the Kingdom of God is 24/7/365. And we tried our best to live that out. We led early morning prayer meetings for the house churches that forced us to get out of bed, trek to the agreed upon spot, and then pray for an hour or better. We connected relationaly all the time and any time. We agreed that if there were sacred times and spaces it was because every time was a sacred time and everywhere was sacred space. The type of community we were aiming for didn’t allow for closed off spaces in our calendar.
The same has been true for our house church network in Iowa. We certainly have borrowed from certain elements of these communities. Our house church has a prayer meeting that starts way before sane human beings should be up. I just finished with a meeting of some folks from each of the house churches and it ended at 11:30 P.M.
But I don’t say this to brag. I tell you all of this to say God’s Kingdom touches every area of our lives. Sometimes we like to think when God becomes King of our lives, He leaves alone certain areas of our lives like the schedule or the budget. But when God comes as King He wants everything. And because we are incredibly busy Americans, many times that will mean we need to make adjustments to our calendars so we can do the things He’s calling us to do.
There are verses that talk about using your time wisely. But instead of quoting those, I’ll leave you with this:
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
How we use our time is a reflection of whether our life is surrendered to the Lord or not. How we spend our minutes, hours, and days determines how we spend our years. We can use them for ourselves—”me time,” excessive entertainment, etc.—or we can lose our life by giving of our time for the things that are truly most important. This will include time for prayer and reading the word, but also meeting with others, discipling them, and serving them.
How are you using your time for the Lord?
“…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
I read a lot of blogs. I read them for multiple reasons: some I love, some I mostly agree with, some I don’t agree with frequently but read because it’s good to have an outside perspective. I read all of my blogs through Google’s Reader program. With Reader, you subscribe to blogs through an RSS Feed. Every time a new post is added to a blog, the post comes strait to my Reader. The problem is the number of subscriptions I have is beginning to drive me crazy. It’s become clear that it’s time to drop my subscription to a few of the blogs that I’m not very interested in.
All this talk of unsubscribing has gotten me thinking lately. If I were forced to unsubscribe to all my blogs except for five (I think I may be subscribed to 30 or 40), which blogs would I not want to unsubscribe from? Which blogs actually are so good that I would not want to give them up? Here’s my list of answers:
Synthesis is written by Shafeen Charania. This is a blog I only discovered fairly recently but I’ve come to look forward to a couple of well-written, thought provoking posts every week. Each post (or series) takes a look at an issue of national significance (i.e. bettering national education, creating “behaving corporations,” or changing how we use energy as a nation) that Shafeen explores with great skill and thought. I don’t always agree with everything he says, but if I was ever a presidential candidate (which, thankfully, I’m not) I would keep a close eye on his thoughts and borrow as many of them as possible. I wouldn’t unsubscribe form this blog because it’s full of “the simplicity on the other side of complexity” in a time when our nation needs that kind of simplicity.
This blog, like some of the others, thoroughly surprised me when it showed up on my list. This blog is (primarily) written by Bob Roberts Jr., pastor of a mega-church in Texas known as NorthWood Church. Bob is both an author and church planter, but it seems he gets the biggest kick out of building bridges between different nationalities and religions to maximize Kingdom impact. I’ve recently heard him say that the church will only be effective if it engages different nationalities and religions in the world where the rubber meets the road and not from within their four walls. I would not unsubscribe from this blog because I appreciate the candidness Bob has when he writes about what he is learning. We get to learn lessons from Bob’s life right as God is speaking them to him and it is a treat.
I was originally drawn to this blog because the title is exactly what I consider myself to be. However, the more I read Jonathan Dodson’s blog, the more I’m beginning to realize I’m more of a novice than he is. Here’s why I would not unsubscribe from Church Planting Novice: Jonathan has his hands in all sorts of different movements related to church planting. House Churches, the missional movement, and mega churches all get some “air time” here and the thoughts and ideas are a good blend of all three. Best of all, Jonathan is constantly posting on the relevance of the Gospel to society and the church. CPN is full of both practical nuts and bolt church planting practices and ideas for cultivating a missionary spirit in the churches we plant.
Stuff I Think is written by intercessory missionary Randy Bohlender. This may have been the first blog that I read consistently that belonged to someone besides me. I started reading because I had just moved back from Kansas City and wanted to follow the little tid-bits he dropped about what was going on at IHOP. But since then I’ve come to love Randy’s blog because of who Randy is. I don’t know of another blog where I see someone having so much fun just being himself. Not only is the blog drop-dead funny on many occasions, but it’s also filled with practical wisdom, provoking thoughts on the end-times, and a clear voice calling for the end of abortion. I’m provoked to become the sort of person Randy is becoming and that is why I would not unsubscribe from Stuff I Think.
This blog is easily my favorite blog of every blog I read. This blog is full of poetry and short writings that primarily focus on Jesus himself. I love this blog because Eireen, the writer, makes me want more of Jesus in the same way that watching someone enjoy some good ice cream makes me want to head to Dairy Queen. The blogosphere is full of people who want to tell you how to do life, ministry, or church better. But rare is the individual who pulls from their delight in God to share with the world. Rarer still is the individual who causes hunger to arise in your heart based on their delight in God. Regularly she causes my heart to say “Who is your Beloved that you would charge us to love Him as you do?,” (Song of Solomon 5:9). I would not unsubscribe from He is My Delight because by reading it I’m challenged to find my delight in Him myself.
So…these are the five blogs I would not unsubscribe from. What are yours? Leave a response in the comment section.