I live in an inner city neighborhood. In the back of my house is a fairly good-sized garage for the neighborhood I live in. Two or three nights ago, I walked past one of my motion sensitive lights and it turned on to reveal a giant spider web that stretched from the roof of my garage all the way down to the driveway. It was simply the largest spider web I had ever seen.
The spider that had built the web was large, but not large in comparison to the size of web he had created. He had just built a really large web! Being a perpetual 13-year-old boy, I found a wad of paper and intentionally stuck it in the web just to see if the spider would wrap the piece of paper and try and suck its “blood” or if it would recognize the paper. The spider quickly noticed the paper, determined that it was not prey, and quickly removed the paper from the web.
We went inside. I didn’t think about that spider for a few days. In my mind that spider was going to be a problem to deal with. It wasn’t until this morning when I was leaving the house before the sun rose that I realized the spider web, without my help, was completely gone. It was like it had never existed.
This was strange for me. That spider web was impressive. I can imagine in spider hours it took quite awhile to build. I thought about all the effort that spider had put into that web only to have it disappear and start completely from scratch. I put myself in the spider’s “shoes” and thought if I had pulled something off like that spider, I would get really frustrated that my great accomplishment was just torn down.
It was at that moment that I felt the Lord speaking to me in a way I can only describe as a “knowing.” I didn’t hear a voice. I saw no vision. I just had this sense that I felt like was from the Lord. It was in this moment of clarity that I realized that the spider didn’t mind that his web was torn down and that he would have to build a new one. He was a spider. He built webs to catch food. He didn’t need the web for his ego. He didn’t need the web to supply more than food. He just needed it to catch enough food to survive. Now that the web had been torn down, he would build another one, somewhere else and catch some more food.
It was also in this moment of clarity that I realized I have a lot to learn from that spider. And the ants. And the birds. And the flowers of the field.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ around the country,
Recently a friend of mine from my time in Kansas City suffered a terrible tragedy. Jason Johns, an inner city leader of a church in Kansas City, was in a terrible car accident with his three children. All four were injured, but his daughters Hope and Elise need miraculous intervention. You can read more updates on their GoFundMe page. Please pray for Jason, his wife, their family and extended family with me and believe for God’s best for this young family.
…you can’t always see what is happening beneath the surface.
The call for many of us who are planting and participating in house churches is a call to the underground. In China, this is by necessity. They have to hide their fellowships, their worship, and to some degree their walk with Christ in order to survive. Here in the West, we participate in the underground by choice. House churches are one way we participate, foregoing some of the flash to focus on the essentials which happen under the surface. Regardless of whether it is by choice or by necessity, we are part of an underground movement.
The price you pay to go underground is to be misunderstood. It can seem like you’re not growing. It seems many times like things are at a stand-still. Often it seems like you are being lazy and not producing very much. In reality, deep below the surface of the Earth, where no one is watching and no one sees, there is a life being formed that will sustain and produce fruit.
It’s just that no one sees it. No one notices. Sometimes you aren’t even aware of the deep work that is going on inside of you. You just know you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would see. Jesus compared this process to death: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the Earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” (John 12:24). Every individual must go through this process, but each house church must go through this process as well.
It’s in this season that the foundation for life and fruitfulness is being laid. Everything depends on this season happening the way God designed it. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t see fruit as fast as you’d like. Don’t think that God isn’t working just because you don’t see results as quickly as others. If God has called you to His underground, He’s called you to grow deep so you can be fruitful in season and out of season.
I started to write this out yesterday and in the midst of writing it, a dear friend sent me a prophetic note that he had sent me about a year ago. In it, he describes the Lord showing him how apostolic works need to have shoots and roots. In the vision, the shoots could only go as far as the roots. The level of fruitfulness was determined by our level of rootedness.
Friends, don’t be discouraged by a rooting season. Give yourself to it. Grow your roots as deep as you can. God has a fruitful season for you, but your ability to sustain it will be determined by the depth of your roots.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ around the country,
Recently a brother in Christ who is dear to many of us hear in Iowa suffered a massive heart attack. Rick Lumbard is the Director of Wind and Fire Ministries, a man of prayer, and a servant of the Lord that has been used in a number of peoples’ lives throughout our city and the state. He currently is unconscious and in a hospital in Des Moines. Would you join us in prayer for Rick as we believe for healing for him? He has a wife and several children that would be thankful for the prayer support.
I have this theory that different types of Christians like different sets of parables. Truly evangelical believers love the parables of Matthew 13. End time-focused believers love the parables of Matthew 24 and 25. The list can go on. I suppose you should expect this because each segment of Christians you meet are called by God to manifest a different aspect of Christ.
I have this other theory that a parable in Luke 14 is one of the forgotten parables of Jesus.
It’s sad to me though, because this parable gives one of the most practical instructions on how to manage yourself with humility in a gathering you’ve been invited to. (I think it’s important to note that I believe Jesus would teach something very different if He were teaching you how to host a gathering. Don’t apply Jesus’ lesson on being a guest to the idea of leading or hosting.) Over and over I see believers not put this wisdom into practice.
Below you’ll find the parable in it’s entirety. It’s better if you read it and apply it to your own life. But this time, read the parable as if Jesus meant you to apply this idea in any event you’ve been invited into. How would it change how you act?
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them,
When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him,
and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.
But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Now that you’ve read the parable, where does it apply to your life? Are there other places (i.e. like when you’re hosting or leading) where this wisdom won’t work?
There once was a good King who ruled a kingdom with love and justice. Even though this King was beyond equal, he was not understood by many of his subjects. In time a rebellion was launched throughout much of the kingdom and those subjects who were ruled well by the King began to resist his laws and laugh at his decrees. Conflict began to erupt as those who threw off the King’s rule clashed with those still subject to His reign.
Now the King had one son, as just and good as his father. He was the apple of his father’s eye and more than anyone else represented the good that could come from being subject to the King. The son loved the Kingdom as much as the King and it caused them both great pain to see the rebellion sweep through the Kingdom. The King’s son asked for permission to lead the Kingdom’s army in restoring order to the Kingdom and the King. Seeing the love that his son had for the Kingdom, the King sent the son to the furthest reaches of the Kingdom to restore the reign of love and justice.
For a long season the King’s son fought on behalf of the Kingdom. He did not just battle the forces of the rebellion. He helped them. He was determined to demonstrate to the rebellion that the King’s reign was not just rules, but a good way of life that benefited all. His army would restore buildings destroyed by the battle, even while the rebellion looked on and mocked the King’s authority. He would personally take in the orphans of battle, especially if the orphans’ parents were part of the rebellion.
One day, the son came across a faction of rebels that was like most they had encountered. One rebel in particular thought he would prove a point and he shot the king’s son with an arrow through the arm. This incited others from the rebellion to fire at the king’s son, something no one had ever dared to do previously. And that day, the King’s son died, watching the people that he loved rejoice over the victory they had achieved in killing him.
The news reached the King back at his palace and those of the army that escaped reported to the king the names of the villagers that were involved. The King rose from his throne, rallied an army and fought through the rebellion until he found the very group of men who had killed His son. He captured those men, brought them back to His kingdom and showed them his kindness. He treated them with the same love that he treated his only son that they had killed. He treated with special kindness the one who shot the first arrow. It was his intention to love this man more than the rest, because he knew that the deepest rebellion was in him.
In time, the prisoners of the King learned of his goodness and justice. The man who had killed the King’s son especially became convinced of the King’s love for his people. Though he had cost the King the most, he experienced the King’s acceptance and favor unlike any other in the kingdom. He who was the King’s sworn enemy became his friend and they shared a special bond because of the love the King had for not only this prisoner, but also the son he lost. And that prisoner, who fought the King, rebelled against his ways, and tormented his son was named Travis. And he spent the rest of his life gratefully accepting something he could never have earned.
Photo Credit: Sant Pere de Rodes by Rienante El Pintor de Fuego
Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny. These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site. Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.
This week finds me pretty much snowed in my house, with the news predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow. There are a lot worse things that could happen. I got to play with some of the most fun kids I know. There’s nothing quite like spontaneous, fun, free time with the family. If only I didn’t have to shovel first. And now, on to the links:
One of the traps we fall into frequently is letting the things of Jesus distract us from actually knowing and following Him. Quincy at Christ the Center takes a look at Paul’s instruction to the Colossians and how we can reclaim the wonder of simply knowing Christ.
One of the downfalls of making the transition into an organic church setting is that we can lose focus on our Master in the process. That’s why I love this post by Mercy and Wolfgang Simson at While We Slept. Being some of the original house church thinkers, they’re still finding themselves longing to know Jesus. I think you’ll enjoy this post.
This post by JD at Missiologically Thinking focuses on taking time to reflect on everything that you’re doing to increase Kingdom fruit. Getting this sort of macro-level thinking to happen frequently is important as we move forward in the days ahead.
Keith at Subversive1 shares about his journey into loving the poor more effectively. This is one area I think house churches are particularly well suited for.
One of the errors I see many rushing into is the tendency to think that just by planting a church, the lost will automatically get saved and discipled. Dave writes at the Resurgence about the need to be a missionary while planting a church, and not getting sucked into pastoring a group of only saved individuals.
I’m always trying to pass along new content. This week I’d like to introduce Karen’s Parables. Karen is a long time friend of Christy and myself who has always been a voice of wisdom in our lives. As long as I’ve known Karen, the Lord has spoken to her in unique way about growing in love and trust with Him. Recently, Karen began publishing her work here.
Stop on over and check it out!