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  • Tabitha Caplinger

Living Chosen with Joshua Brown

For twenty years--give or take--my husband and I were youth pastors. Watching our former students grow into their purpose has been a joy of our lives. I get to introduce you to one such student today; Joshua Brown. I hope you'll be encouraged by his words as he tackles some questions about living chosen.


Joshua, what does living chosen mean to you?


For years, I worked my fingers to the bone trying to attain the approval of God. Typically, we called this, "living holy" or "living set apart." It wasn't until a few years ago that the Lord reworded and realigned how I viewed the gospel. If Christ died for us, "while we were still sinners" and the gospel is a gospel of grace "apart from works," my life's purpose is not to attain holiness or pious perfection, it is to live out the truth and reality that I am holy and I am approved of as seen in its fullness in the Incarnation (Word became flesh). Therefore, living chosen is not living to become a chosen one, it is living out my chosenness. In truth, it's being comfortable in who God made me to be without the need to conform to another ideology of who anyone else thinks I should be. It's believing in my worth because Christ proved it to us. It's approaching God boldly because nothing stands between us. This is, in my opinion, the most evangelistic thing we can do. Become for ourselves what we used to try and tell others to become. Our witness would be a greater gravitational pull than our words. Image and likeness (of God) is in every human being. When we step more fully into our image and likeness capacity, that same capacity within others begins to be unveiled. "Deep cries out to deep." (Psalm 42:7)


Share how you discovered your God-given gifts and passions.


When I was a boy, I knew I was "different." I really related to the movie Hercules and never knew why until I was at Disney World, back in March, and watched the fireworks show at EPCOT that included the song, "Go the Distance" from Hercules. It hit me that I always had a burning in me for something other than what I saw around me—a feeling that I belonged somewhere else (maybe we would say the kingdom of God). I'm not the best speaker or leader or church planter, by any means, maybe closer to the worst if you're judging by the current entrepreneur model of success. I don't know how to grow a ministry to thousands in 5 years. But, I do know what it means to live with an imagination for another way. Eugene Peterson once said that he believed the cure for a pastor's anxiety is to go out into the wilderness and do nothing for an extended period of time. My greatest passion is trust. My greatest gift is grace because grace begins when we stop trying. Now, that doesn't mean I do nothing. In fact, I do a lot. It simply means "that stuff" doesn't define me anymore. What defines me is simply Presence.


How do you use your gifts and passions to make God known?


Related to my last answer, I use my gifts and passions to simply spark curiosity in people. So many people, especially in the Church, are boxed in and bored. They think that 2+2=4 and that's that. In other words, this story means this and that story means that, and those, together, equal the Bible. But that's just not the case. I always say, "The gospel is better than we were ever told, yet exactly what we always hoped it would be." Curiosity would cure so much division and harshness in the Church. The problem is, leaders are afraid to be truly curious because congregants want the boxed-in religion. Congregants are afraid to be truly curious because they don't know how (they don't have enough knowledge of the Bible to be curious). So we get stuck in a cycle of "that's just how it is and how it's always been." So I feel my calling, as a Pastor, in my context is to break the cycle and spark a question in those that I lead. Something like, "Is that really what that story is saying?" or, "Why do you believe that?" or "Could things look like this?" Learning to live in a space of wonder, awe, flexibility, curiosity, and imagination is where the Church will start to become what it's always been.


What does it mean to you to put Jesus at the center of what you do?


I don't want to put Jesus at the center of what I do, I want to put my life at the center of what Jesus is doing. I don't want God to bless my goals and dreams as much as I want God to place me in the middle of His goals and dreams for me. The old song we used to sing had the lyrics, "Jesus at the center of it all." While the heart behind it is great, I would certainly rewrite/rethink it by saying, "It is all at the center of Jesus.”

 

Joshua Brown is the founding and lead pastor of Dream Church. He is also the author of three books, including the newest release, The Magic of Christmas (now available here), and the number 1 new release in 2021 The Generosity of God. Joshua is currently finishing his Master's Degree in Biblical Studies (with an emphasis on Church History, Old Testament Hebrew, and New Testament Greek), from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. He resides in the Columbia area with his wife Jordyn and his daughter Vada.


Joshua has always been a pioneer and when needed, has gone against the cultural norm. In 2017, Joshua and his wife Jordyn started Dream Church out of a season where Joshua wrestled with the chasm between the early Church and the current Western expression of the Church. He felt as if there was no more curiosity of thought, no encounter of the Presence of God in an authentic way, and a "going through the motions," apathetic spirit over much of the Church, particularly in the South.


The purpose of Dream Church was to create an environment where anyone who is burned out on religion can come and find rest. A church where you can bring your questions, inquiries, hurts, past experiences, and hunger, to find the ancient path. A church that isn't focused on quantitative growth but on qualitative growth. A church that has big people rather than big buildings. A church that was willing to tear down modern ideas of God in order to build up the ancient, orthodox, ideas of God.


And that Dream has become. When you come to Dream you'll immediately feel a sense that you can breathe deep and know that He is good. You'll experience authentic worship and thought-provoking teaching, all of which have been freed from the bondage of time and schedule. You'll find a family ready to embrace you just as you are and take the journey with you to rediscover who you have always been, from the foundation of the earth.


You can connect with Joshua here.







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