PAUL: I can strongly relate to what you say about the shape of this season with family and the pruned set of values and priorities that come from a journey through intentional community. I can see how both factors bring us to a place of fewer things being counted as important. Aaron, you asked before about the non-negotiables in my faith from a beliefs-perspective. What are your non-negotiables? Are they anything like mine?
AARON: Our non-negotiables are very much alike. I spent too much of my life debating with others on what I thought were non-negotiables when they truly were not. They were fruitless debates, and led to no real spiritual fruit in my life or the lives of those around me. My NG’s have been reduced more and more as I place more and more trust in the activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His followers. That’s real faith right there.
I was raised in a culture that placed little to no stock in the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of an individual. The default was to teach a believer to be moral, and manage their sin well. Unfortunately, the Gospel of Grace flies right out the window as that begins to happen. It’s nonsense. Now my non-negotiables are simple, and easy:
· I believe Jesus is God’s son, and Salvation comes through faith in Him alone, that He did for you what you could not do for yourself.
· I believe He left us His Holy Spirit when ascended into Heaven to be at work in our lives as we play an active role of bringing the Kingdom of heaven here to earth until Jesus comes back.
· I believe very much in the Scriptures themselves, while at the same time being very hesitant to jump on board with any one particular interpretation of a passage of scripture. God gave me His Spirit so I could hear him, and be spoken to by Him. As I learn to hear His voice more and more I will learn to hear His voice through the scriptures.
Having a few, simple non-negotiables is freeing. I no longer care to debate about whether or not the gifts of the Spirit ceased 100 years after the last apostle died, or you’re “once saved always saved”, or if this or that is a sin, etc etc. Now, I’m free to know God, be known by Him, and introduce others to Him.
PAUL: Since we started this public part of our dialogue in 2014 you have made some significant life-changes. Can you tell us what’s new in 2016?
AARON: Wow, a lot! We recently moved out to the country on a small piece of land and have a bit of a hobby farm. Goats, chickens, ducks, dogs and a cat so far. We felt like our kiddos needed to experience “country life” outside of the city….and…scoop poop the humble them a little bit.
PAUL: This is another parallel; the Wallises too! We don’t have quite us much land and scope for animals as you guys, but our kids are revelling in our rural move in 2016 – what we call a “tree change” – to the Yarra Valley in semi-rural Victoria. Also we are loving life as part of a Vineyard Fellowship – back to our spiritual roots in a very real sense. It puts us in a place where we feel free to major on the majors and simply seek to follow God’s leading in community.
It’s a change of lifestyle for our kids. For us it’s a totally new experience to get them come home from school and see them immediately run outside into the big green space of the backyard because the kids across the fence are shouting for them to come and play. It’s a new thing for us to really have the time to eat and drink with our neighbours on the street – much as we would have loved to where we were before. People were just too stretched. We’ve always had good neighbours but where we were before our kids didn’t have that experience of neighbours and community.
Something about the pace of life here has opened up a social life for the kids too through school. Play dates and movie nights for the kids and the connections with other parents that all that brings. It’s still early days here for us but what we’re seeing begin to shape up, well it now feels how it should be – for the kids and the grown ups. We don’t have any animals yet but they’re on our list!!
So we’re finding that, for us, this is a season where our local and regional focus is stronger than ever. We love living here and we want to bless the place where God has brought us to live. Our church, Yarra Valley Vineyard also puts us in fellowship with a wonderful multi-generational community – with heaps of older and younger friends – including other young families for us to share life with. And we’re finding that the friendlier pace of life in this part of the world is also enriching our social connections in the little town where our new home is. Neighbours, shopkeepers and tradespeople, and the people we are bumping into as we spend time in the neighbourhood – with all the potential that flows from that.
Keeping track with you guys on FB I have loved watching the growth of your and Morgan’s business. How is all that working for you?
AARON: Our salon business – Jackalope Beauty Lounge – is growing exponentially and we are bringing on new members of the team every quarter. This has become our new ministry outside of discipling our kiddos. The impact we are able to have on young stylists who go through our apprenticeship program and become stylists at the salon is direct, deep, relational, and real. We continue to live out the Kingdom in our every day lives and refuse to compartmentalize our faith into a once per week gathering, be it in a church building or living room. We have a rich community of other believers who we do life with throughout the week and we have “family church” each week with the kiddos.
PAUL: It’s funny that Ruth’s business is also in hair, mainly, making and selling AfroShe – which is all natural treatments for skin and natural Afro hair! Another connection! So does that mean that ministry within the wider Christian scene is off the agenda for you?
AARON: If an opportunity presents itself to bring some sort of influence to a larger audience than that I prayerfully consider whether or not it fits within the boundaries the Lord has spoken to me for that particular season. It’s much more peaceful, about bringing God glory (not myself), and seems to be more in line with the example Jesus gives us in the scriptures. It’s a precious time for us as a family to connect and intentionally pursue God’s voice and direction for our lives.
From time to time we each need to connect with a fellow pilgrim on a similar track for that sense of solidarity. I think of Mary needing to find Elizabeth – the only person in her world who could say “I know exactly what you’re talking about because, bizarrely, something similar has happened to me!” Their meeting reassured them both that God truly was in their surprising journeys!
Aaron, over the last nine years(!) our parallel explorations and transitions have been a bit like that for me! It’s been fun to share this part of our dialogue more publicly and I hope it has been a spur to others too. I love what you are doing and how you are sharing your journey. I look forward to comparing notes again further down the track! Aaron, love and blessings on your beautiful family, and on all that you’re doing, and thanks again!
AARON: Thanks Paul!