Some thoughts on “Renegade”, by Vince Antonucci, Founder of Verve, Las Vegas & A True Renegade

“All holy desires grow by delay; and if they diminish by the delay, then they were never holy desires.”  Saint Gregory *

Vince Antonucci, fonder of Verve a church on the Strip in Las Vegas, has some challenging things to say to all of us who claim to be following Jesus, about living the “sold out” life…

One of the most important things he says is that God is speaking to all of us. The reason most of us do not hear Him is that He is telling us to do things that we do not want to do…

Some would like us to believe that God no longer, actually, speaks to us. But the Scripture tells us that,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages to come. ” (Hebrews 13:8, DARBY)

God speaks as He has from the beginning. You are not specially blessed when He speaks to you. He is speaking to all of us and for the most part we do not hear… But this is our problem… He is still talking! But we do not like what He is saying.

For my part as I walk with Jesus,

God has not once told me to do something I want to do.

He has not once told me to do something that I know how to do.

He has not once told me to do something comfortable.

He has not once told me to do something that would bring me any credit.

And He has not once told me to do a thing that would make me friends…

I agree with Vince, this is the problem… Who among us seeks out to be stoned and left for dead, or ship wrecked, or whipped, or imprisoned? Paul did. Not is his power but in the power of God Almighty,

The God who speaks.

The Only God,

The God who began it all with a word, “LET THERE BE LIGHT…”

Remember that the Scripture tells us,

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

(Romans 8:16–17, NASB95)

“… if indeed we suffer with Him…”

We cannot decide for ourselves what is good and go do it. We must by the very nature of God’s work in our lives, hear from Him and do only that which He TELLS us to do. (John 5:19 & following, Romans Chapter 7, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6.)

Another thing Antonucci says is that if you start doing what God tells you to do you had better be prepared to wait. This is also a truth. It is in the fire of waiting that God builds us into His instrument for His work... I am waiting…

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:1–3, NASB95)

Let yourself go and cast yourself adrift into the arms of your Heavenly Father… He will catch you!

“Renegade” is a challenging read. Dare you try? Dare you not!

*quoted from “Renegade” by Vince Antonucci

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The Gift – A New/Old Way of Living…

In his book “Linchpin” Seth Godin makes this statement,
“I must have been absent that day at Stanford business school. They don’t spend a lot of time teaching you about the power of unreciprocated gifts, about the long (fifty thousand years) tradition of tribal economies being built around the idea of mutual support and generosity. In fact, I don’t think the concept is even mentioned once. We’ve been so brainwashed, it doesn’t even occur to us that there might be an alternative to “How much should I charge, how much can I make?”*

The gift, living your life committed in the mutual support of your neighbors, is the heart of successful community. If you haven’t already discovered this you will discover a new freedom to live to the full when you wake up every day unconcerned with the need to be secure and instead find yourself most absorbed with what you can do for another!

Jesus came to show us how to live this way. He did it, so that we could see it can be done and what happens when we decide to follow Him. We need to see that this abundant life of giving and service was His incredible Gift to us. He came to save the world and to teach us how to live in the world but not of it.

To have more than a social club that we call church we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we are no longer conformed to the systems of the world. We must make of our lives a living sacrifice expecting nothing in return. We must consider the needs of others first and learn to live serving our neighbors…

Wow. Is this even possible?

*Godin, Seth (2010-01-19). Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (p. 150). Penguin Group.

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This is a great article from Tom Harper @ Chruch Central on the nature of vision.

Got me thinking – so here are some of my thoughts on Vision, Leadership, and Community;

Real vision is not about showing those around you an engaging view of the future to attract a following – real vision is about helping those around you to see through the distortions of bias and opinion into a kind of thoughtful clarity that sees and experiences the world as it really is.

Vision is not comfortable – it always produces pain, both in the visionary leader and in those who resonate with the vision. Vision does not necessarily produce crowds of followers, crowds are just crowds, the least common denominator will gather a mass of people. Mediocrity is the best crowd maker of all. Crowds like comfort. Crowds don’t care for it when the bar of excellence is set too high or even talked about. Jesus told us about crowds,

““Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:28, NASB95)

and Jeremiah reported God’s thoughts about crowds,

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Don’t listen to the sermons of the prophets. It’s all hot air. Lies, lies, and more lies. They make it all up. Not a word they speak comes from me. They preach their ‘Everything Will Turn Out Fine’ sermon to congregations with no taste for God, Their ‘Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen to You’ sermon to people who are set in their own ways.” (Jeremiah 23:16–17, The Message)

Vision is not at all comfortable. Vision carries us through the valley of despair and aloneness before it brings us to still waters and green pastures. Real vision carries us headlong into the Valley of Death.
Real vision produces commitment, produces a plurality of strong leaders and results in strong team commitment. Real vision produces people of character by purifying hearts in the fire of cataclysmic change. Real vision produces a people who work together and care deeply for one another. Real vision produces enduring, supportive, distinctively different kinds of community. It casts out the status quo and forges ahead into uncharted waters where the mettle of pure hearts is forged. And after all of the superficiality of human endeavor is burnt away in the fire of struggle all that is left is abiding, overwhelming love.

I pray for us all that we accept nothing less than a real vision for our lives. You can only find this as you, YOU, yourself come to that place where you stand in the full gaze of God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe. No preacher, guru, parent, pastor or teacher can do this for you. You must take the journey yourself. Jesus has made the way – He has opened the door to Life Abundant – You must walk through it yourself. Nothing less will do. When we have finally come to the end of ourselves, only then will we see the LORD, high and lifted up. Oh loving Father in Heaven, I beseech You, bring us to the end of ourselves that we indeed might see You and LIVE! I pray we all hear Him as He says,

“…Come up here and I will show you what must take place after these things!” (Revelation 4:1)

Have a wonder filled day!

Robert Curtis, member of The Icthusgeneration, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

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The “Traditional” Church

No one has seen the “traditional” Church since before Constantine. Constantine merged Roman religious practice with Government, then incorporated Christ into what became the State Religion. (this, of course, is the short course)

Since all of the Scripture was written prior to 100 we can see what the Church looked like there. The Bride of Christ is a community of completely committed followers of Christ bound together in LOVE and demonstrating LOVE to all those around them. They daily and at all times carry out the ministry of the Gospel which is the ministry of LOVE. The Bride of Christ looks like Acts 2. The Bride of Christ looks like Romans 12.

The Bride of Christ is counter cultural, bold in LOVE, lives as God tells them to, says the things that God tells them to, is deep into the culture without being of the culture, is an attractive people and God is adding daily to the number of those being saved.

The Bride of Christ is lead by the Spirit and when the flesh man interferes The Bride of Christ responds with The Grace of God, Gentle but Firm in Him, constantly pointing each other to Jesus the Savior of the World and the Author and Perfecter of Life.

How Can This Be?

The disciples of Jesus were told to wait in Jerusalem until they had received power from on high. Then and only then they would be Jesus’ witnesses.

We must wait in “our” Spiritual Jerusalem, until we have each received power from on high before we can begin. WE must find our “upper room” in which we can wait together in prayer. We must do this together for as we can see in Scripture this is a together thing.

The whole of the Gospel is a together thing. The power both they then, and we now receive is the power to witness and witness too the great things of God. Recall that is what those gathered were doing after they received the promised power from the Spirit. They were proclaiming the Great Things Of God in all the tongues of men.

So we must find our “upper room” and pray and wait until He Himself reveals to us what He would have us do.

Then as together we do what He tells us and say the words He gives us to say we become the Body of Christ, which is the Bride of Christ, which we can then and only then call the Church –  this is the Church we read of in the New Testament beginning in Matthew 16:18. Jesus says ” I will build MY Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” Anything else is an institution made up by, and administered by man, and not of God.

Of Jesus’ “My Church” we read in Revelation Chapter 3, Jesus speaking, ““…He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:7–13, NASB95)

This is the Church. It is engaged in the world, not of the world, with the ministry of the Gospel, which is the LOVE of God. Remember Philadelphia means “City of Brotherly Love.”

Jesus is alive and indwells the Saints who are His Body, His Bride, His Church. We just have to enter into His Rest and receive this great inheritance. All we are, all the Church is, is in Him, is done in Him and by Him. He is the Church and we, each and every one of us,  are in Him. All Praise Be Unto His Mighty and Glorious Name.

Remember Jesus Said, “They will know you are my disciples by the Love you have one for another.”

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Should We Live By The Book?

This morning Larry Shallenberger (@LShallenberger on Twitter) Tweeted this post “Do We Annoy God By Using the Bible to Solve All Our Problems?” He introduces his post this way,

“Is it okay for a pastor to wonder if the way we handle the Bible dosen’t make God grind his teeth a bit?” 

His question and the post in general got me thinking about the question. Actually I am always thinking about the question. It occurs to me that after the question about God we have all faced, that the question about what the Scripture means to us, and for us, is THE question. The question we must answer.

In the first chapter of his book “Living by The Book” Dr. Howard G. Hendricks makes a remarkable statement,

“The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of Biblical facts but to transform your life.”

This statement resonates with me. For I see in the Scripture the certainty that, “We are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB) From this and all the rest of the Scripture it seems that this is our Father in Heaven’s primary goal toward human kind, that we should be conformed into the likeness of Jesus, His Only Begotten Son.

So first, if you desire to live out of God’s plan for your life you will want to live the life you live by the “Book.” There are so many reasons for this but for our purposes here I am going to share what Dr. Hendricks says on the matter.

“Bible Study Is Essential To Growth.” “As newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)

“Bible Study Is Essential To Spiritual Maturity.” “Concerning (Christ) we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for some one to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For every one who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)

“Bible Study Is Essential To Spiritual Effectiveness” “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Dr. Hendricks’ three Essentials show us the necessity of Scripture “Self-Study.”

Then as we look at the Scripture further we see in Romans chapter 8 verses 12 through 17 we read the following;

“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  

We can see here that while we may still find ourselves living according to the flesh it is unprofitable for us to do so. To gain the life God intends for us, His adopted children, we need live by the Spirit. And I say to you and to myself (everyday) He Himself makes this possible for us to do.

For us, who live in an age where the Scripture is readily available to us we have “The Book” to give us ready access to the life transforming truth which is Jesus. We see that we will profit as we receive in ourselves this gift of God for our Spiritual development. While it is possible to receive the saving work of Jesus and His Father on our behalf without access to the Scripture, we who have access have been blessed beyond measure.

The Bible is valuable treasure for us as we labor to “solve” our spiritual “problems.” As we dive deeply into the Scripture’s substance we are changed, day-by-day from glory-to-glory!

How do the Scriptures stack up as a resource for “solving” the other “problems” we face as we live in the world? Well I am going to save most of my thoughts on this subject for another day. However Dr. Hendricks and Jesus both have something to say on the matter.

First, Prof Hendricks, “…you are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold.”

Now our Lord, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB95)

If we live and “solve” our problems and face our trials with the methods of the world we will get the results of the world.

If on the other hand we rely on the Scripture and trust in Jesus, living our lives in Him we will see God’s solutions for the “problems” we face.

This latter is not our natural way to live. But thanks be to God WE HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN IN CHRIST JESUS. We have been “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13  And He is our ever present help in time of need. We no longer live in the natural, but, “ is Christ who lives in us.” Galatians 2:20

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not smite you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will protect you from all evil;

He will keep your soul.

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forever.  Psalm 121:1-8

Have a beautiful day in the Lord.

Robert Curtis – Activist, The Icthusgeneration – Santa Rosa Beach Florida 

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Bear Each Other’s Burdens

   “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.” (Galatians 6:2–4, NASB95)

Yesterday (Tuesday the 24th of January 2012) was a nuZoe morning group meeting. I missed last week so was really looking forward to what God would do among us. I knew that last week the guys had talked about the first part of Matthew Chapter 7. This is the place where Jesus talks about not judging others while you have a “beam” in your eye. The place where Jesus says, “…first remove the log out of your own eye, then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus ends this section with a statement about pearls & pigs that the group had not yet discussed so I figured we would begin there yesterday and move on in to Matthew 7:7 where Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock…

Well, that is not what happened. We had a new comer among us for the second time. And he asked that we all share our testimony so that he would have a better idea of who each of us is. There were 8 of us at the table and I figured we would take about 30 minutes with this and get into our discussion of what Jesus said in the rest of Matthew 7.

Was I wrong!

Two hours later we were still listening to each other as men shared their souls. There were two guys at that table that I thought would get impatient with what was happening. They are pretty ‘in” to the bible study part of our gatherings – but they didn’t. They shared right along with the others. We had done all of this before. In fact we do it every time someone new shows up, just so we can all have an idea who everybody is.

This time the sharing was different. There was struggle on the table along with deep joy. There was pain on the table along with times of healing. There were unanswered prayers on the table along with those timeS when prayer had been answered. Each of us really opened up to each other. And I saw the wonder of God at work among us as I knew we were truly beginning to love each other as God intends.

We have been gathering for 15 weeks now and all along I have believed that God was calling each of the individuals to come and be part of what He was doing among us. In great hope I have believed Him that He is creating among us a community that brings Glory and Honor, and Praise to Him. But I have to tell you now that I am seeing Him do this right before my eyes.

He is doing it – it is not the fantastic teaching.

He is doing it – it is not our organizational ability.

He is doing it – it is not our depth of spiritual purity.

He is doing it – it is not our prayer lives.

He is doing it – it is not our Scripture knowledge.

He is doing it – it is not at all that any of us have any idea how to do it ourselves.

I come to you with a positive conclusion about what is happening among our little Tuesday morning gathering. God is working in and among us simply because He loves us beyond measure and He wants us to know Him and through knowing Him love each other as He loves us. Wow! and I say again Wow?

Remember I was planing on getting into Matthew 7:7 yesterday before God interrupted,

““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7–11, NASB95)

Do you see it? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”  Our Father in heaven was, during the course of the sharing and unburdening that was happening between us, giving us a living parable . He was opening a door into each of our souls and showing each of us that He had been through all the doors of all our hearts first.

He literally gave us of His good from His treasure in the time we spent with each other yesterday. As He did so we all caught a look at what He sees when He looks at us. Amazing! And He did it for us not because of anything we have done but instead because of whom He is.

Glory be to God!

“For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:13–14, NASB95)

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Read The Scripture Through in the 1st Quarter of 2012

Saddleback Church is beginning 40 Days in The Word at the end of January. If you are able to participate in this I highly recommend you do. In any case your Scripture reading plan is important. I have a suggestion – try this.

Start at the beginning (Genesis.) Read to the end (Revelation.)

Read one-half hour per day and you will complete your work in 160 days. Then you should begin again. Or if you are able, take a two week vacation and finish in 80 hours. If this is your first time through, just read. Do not take notes or puzzle too much over the meanings of words. Do not allow yourself to get side tracked. Bathe your work in prayer. This is the most important work you have. Out of this fundamental effort will come everything else. As we read the Scripture we see Jesus. Jesus is LIFE! YOUR LIFE and mine.

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