Archive for the ‘Disciple Making’ Category

Time

Time (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)

We have calendars on the wall, on our laptops and phones. They record where and when we are supposed to hang with Bill or Claire. Our concerts, football games, kid’s soccer games increasingly take our time. Our hobbies, personal recreation time and movies all garner a high priority. The August 7-13 Boise Weekly publicatiion had at least 75 happenings for the week. I stopped counting at 75. There is nothing wrong with any of these things unless…

A focus on developing a meaningful relationship with Jesus and helping others learn how to also walk with God and how to pass that on to others allows us to have the time to do what Jesus said life is all about. To not miss the trip God promises to be better than the “Dirty Deck Party Weekend”, we have to get our “life focus” right. It doesn’t mean we can’t dance with our buds but we’re gonna make time for God and others. The problem is we like play rather than war and believe me it is a battle to really make a difference in someone’s life.

2 Timothy 2:3 and 4 in the Word on the Street reminds us to “…use your gifts God’s given you since you connected with the Liberator, Jesus…Tough it out with us…Trained combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life. And verse 17 adds “keep on track with your training. You’re convinced, so carry on focused.” The truth is we don’t really believe there is a war that our enemy wages 24/7. And if we do, it is easy to believe it is for others to fight, not us because it might alter our lifestyle.

But if God always has our best interest in mind and loves us and Jesus always told the truth, to not enlist in this battle means we will miss the most significant trip of our life. We’ll have to live with knowing we poured our life down a rat hole if we don’t make time for what really matters.

Smorgasbord

Smorgasbord (Photo credit: toastforbrekkie)

We are not on the planet to focus our lives on whatever hobby, sporting event, music venue or shopping event massages our personal interest. But that is how most of us live. We have to work but just wait for the evening or weekend-it’s ours. But then, how do you think Jesus woke up every day? What was he thinking about? Oh, but that’s Jesus and he had a much larger agenda than we do.

When our diet consists of whatever we want , the result is often measureable, but is more likely very subtle. Physically  it shows up quite easily but internally it may take years to notice.

The cost to really follow Jesus is huge because it reaches into the way we think about the use of our time, how we spend our resources, where we live and more. But to settle for what we want to do, or how we want to spend our money or… means we are forfeiting everything God intended for us when he started the whole deal.

John 10:10 speaks about a thief who comes to kill and ruin everything. His focus is you and me. He tricks us with the facade of thinking we are a disciple when we show up at Christian events or by our cleaning up our language when we are there. He convinces us with “you can’t have pure thoughts all the time.” He trains our ears to hear the never ending message of a culture focused on the exact opposite of God’s never changing purpose for us.

“Debit or credit” the thief says. It doesn’t matter. It removes us from using our time and resources for what only matters.

It costs a church to make disciples but the cost not to raise up disciples who make disciples may look good from the size of the building or crowd but the culture yawns with complete disinterest.

Look at the rest of John 10:10, To do it Jesus’ way results in life better than we could ever imagine. But don’t forget Mark 8:36 and 10:17-31-a smorgasbord to remember.

Sometimes you just get tired of mowing the grass or eliminating weeds that seem to never find a home except in your front yard. And at other times, you know something must change because the grass is dying and the weeds have figured out the multiplication principle.

We currently live in an apartment complex that has won awards for their xeriscaping throughout the complex. It actually is as attractive as grass, conserves water and requires less maintenance than a “normal” yard.

Established thinking about how to do church or discipleship can be OK if it is accomplishing “…teaching them to practice everything I have commanded you.”-Jesus in Matthew 28:19 & 20. The emphasis is on practicing or obeying everything. But if this is not happening, just tweaking a few words in a mission statement or taking small steps in changing discipleship group material may be like pulling a few weeds out of the grass or flower bed knowing they will only return a few weeks later.

One thing that must change if real discipleship takes place is to “do life” with those being discipled. This was the genius of how Jesus developed perspective and skills in the early followers. Mark 3:14 shows that Jesus wanted the disciples to be “with” him in everyday life. They ate, traveled, slept, cast out demons…together with Jesus. This often requires new thinking. For example, having a discipleship class and sharing life together will accomplish more than just having a 2 hour class once a week for several weeks.

Matthew 9:16 and 17 in the Message translation says it well. “…no one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes, you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.”

How can you enter into the life of those you want to help follow Jesus? How can they enter into yours?

weeds

weeds (Photo credit: gusset)

Feeding Frenzy of Cormorants and Brown Pelican...

Feeding Frenzy of Cormorants and Brown Pelicans eddy_MdO_bluff_MG_1758-9 (Photo credit: mikebaird)

A freeway at 3 AM is usually not crowded but who commutes to work at that time? Travel down I 25 into Denver from the north later, and you will wish you set your alarm clock earlier. Our life so easily can resemble 8″O clock or 5 O’clock traffic-hectic, irritating, and stressful. Our focus at these times is on survival and not the refreshing time with Jesus in our quiet time. The hard truth is that our pace of life does not only diminish the quality of our time with God but usually eliminates it.

I once told a group of University of Wyoming football players I had an assignment harder than any they would get from their head coach. I asked them how many thought they could have a quiet time with God for 5 minutes every day for a week. The laughs were out of control as they all thought they could easily do that. The next week I asked them about it. Two did that for 2 days and a couple did it one day. No one did it every day. Why, when it was so easy? The enemy will always fight to keep us from the Word and a relationship with Jesus.

When it comes to discipling another person, we must get off the freeway and on to a back road or plan to leave earlier. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking we will develop a dynamic relationship with God or help someone else until we slow our rapid pace down.

Take some time this week to meditate on Psalm 23 and 46:10. What will you eliminate from your life to really get to know God and help others along the way?

It’s not a movie, a video game or some clever title of a mission that we could come up with. It is our worst nightmare, our war from the day we first struggled for life and our greatest opportunity to participate in something that is beyond any adventure we could ever imagine. Pick up the story in Matthew 3 where Jesus walks into the lives of various onlookers. The heat is turned on in chapter 4 as our enemy crafts three desperate plots to gain the upper hand. He knows who Jesus is. “If you are…” could be translated “Since you are…” The enemy knows what’s at stake.

Jesus begins to unmask the evil in the religious life of his day as well as the culture owned by the enemy. He equips a few with the “zero dark thirty” strategy that will weaken the strongholds the enemy has cleverly introduced into life over the years. He has completed the final act on an ordinary cross and those he has equipped are prepared and then he leaves them staring into space. Look at John 17:4 & 6 along with Acts 1:6-11. The enemy will continue to fight but his defeat is certain.

The real issue for us is the role we have in this ongoing drama. Some are not aware there is a war going on at all. Just drive through a neighborhood and admire the large houses, sweet cars in the driveways and steaks grilling on the deck. But then there was the high school kid who shot another kid, and the girl who overdosed and who could forget what happened after that party. Are we aware and are we participating with Jesus in unveiling the enemy and helping our friends understand the point of life? Remember we volunteered for this war.

2 Timothy 2:3 &  4 in the “Word on the Street” version says “…trained combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life. No, the only thing that counts is the nod of approval from their officer in charge.”

The Last Enemy (autobiography)

The Last Enemy (autobiography) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Look. I'm not going to discuss my privat...

“Look. I’m not going to discuss my private life with total strangers” (Photo credit: [Filhi][bahthi] photography ( with great hopes ))

You wake up during the night and wonder what that noise is you hear near the kitchen. You stumble down the stairs to find the entire floor covered in water that seems to be dripping from upstairs. You quickly realize there is a problem under the floor upstairs and water is leaking from somewhere. As soon as the sun is up, you call your physician and ask them to come take a look. Your spouse and kids look at you like-what the spank are you doing? “We’re floating in water, get the plumber out here” they say.

Sounds lame, but the way we carry out Jesus’ commands to make disciples and his vision, reveals we are using the wrong tools. We’re using the stethoscope rather than the wrench. How should we make disciples who make disciples in our generation?

A few thoughts-Mark 3:13, 14  We need to help people understand what it means to be with Jesus. He is not really interested in all the religious stuff we do , but is dying for us to just hang out with him. When was the last time you just spent time with Jesus without wanting him to do something for you? You just wanted to be with him.  We must help people develop a meaningful relationship with Jesus rather than getting them on the finance committee.

Acts 2:42-47  Our 2 hour event on Sunday morning and even the small group on Tuesday night are not coming close to what characterized the early church. They don’t demand anything, and certainly don’t reveal what we thought about last Friday night when we were alone. We must help people develop meaningful relationships with each other.

2 Timothy 3:10, 11  The only way Timothy could know these things about Paul was because he shared life with him. We must model what it means to share life together not just show up for events.

What does this have to say about how we do church?

Church Building

Church Building (Photo credit: joseph a)

A man and woman are checking on a new house to purchase. The wife rejects several houses in the $400000 category because she does not like the color of the counter tops or in some cases they are not granite, while the husband rejects others because there is no space for him to eat his ribs and watch the game alone or with his buddies in his man cave. There are some essentials the house must have while most are really optional.

What are the essentials and what is optional when it comes to church? Does the answer depend on if you live in the USA or somewhere outside of the USA where the majority of followers of Jesus live? One of the most significant times of doing church I participated in was in a stairwell in a dilapidated building in Albania. There were about 12 of us present, about half Christians and the rest not Christians who mostly spoke Albanian. We had no musical instrument and sat on the floor and stairs.

There are several essentials but I mention only one here-we are to make disciples who make disciples. We may have grand “church buildings” but we have dismissed one of Jesus’ most significant statements of why we are remaining on the planet if this essential is not happening. Check Matthew 28:18-20. We  must carefully define “disciples” or as GK Chesterton says “we continue to play children’s games.”

There are many optional aspects of doing church but one would be location. It may meet in a building with a church name on it, or in a rented school, or a city park or…

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

You’ve tried over and over to get it to work but it just isn’t adding up. You go over your problem again, but nothing seems to be getting through. “Maybe I should consider majoring in General Studies rather than Math” you think. What makes something not add up anyway? Could be not having all the right information, or maybe having limited information or maybe the formula is wrong. Maybe the guy who wrote this book woke up after being out with friends till 4 AM and then started working on it.

We hear many wrong solutions regarding making life work as God intended. They often come from people who really do care, but for whatever reason they just don’t connect with where we live most  of our lives. The information sounds good but really it’s quickly forgotten after the meeting is done. But you think “I will go back again and maybe next week it will make sense.” But you begin to conclude that Christianity sounds great but it just doesn’t work for you.

The emphasis in our meetings should be about learning rather than teaching. We need teaching but how do we learn? A friend somewhere in my life told me “telling isn’t teaching any more than listening is learning.” One way we can learn is to have what is taught modeled. Dawson Trotman (Navigator founder) said  “tell them why, show them how, get them started, keep them going and check up on them. This is a lost art of discipling and learning. It is the essence of love-caring enough about someone that we can help them learn. If all we do is teach, at the best we probably are pouring our life down a rat hole but at the worst, do we really love them?

Check out John 13:1-17 especially verse 17 and James 1:22-25

You sleepily pick up your phone and the recognizable voice says “get your stuff, we’re leaving in 15 minutes.” Stunned, you ask “where are we going?’ The reply does not give you the assurance you were hoping for. “Come and you will see.” Take a peek at John 1:35-39.

Disciple making can become routine to a point it begins to be boring and without the anticipation of adventure or excitement. If we follow the rules, do the assignments, don’t miss the meetings we surely become a follower of Jesus. Right? Jesus has an uncanny way of helping people unlearn the clutter that often makes traveling the discipleship road as tasteful as eating a dead rat. Without a sweet notebook, I Pad or  dynamite blogs, Jesus was able to equip followers with everything they would need to pass it on to other travelers. John 17:4,6,20.

In our helping people become real followers of Jesus, we often should take people somewhere where neither of us has been. Don’t think of a cool location to read the Bible with them but maybe a way of thinking that stretches them. It may be a short term mission trip in Argentina or in the older part of your city. But if we are following Jesus, our disciple making will definitely keep people awake.

Check out some of the ways Jesus got and kept the attention of the early disciples in the use of water and whips in John 2. What a teaching technique.

How are you really participating in Matthew 28:18-20? Is it an adventure or another trip to Walmart?

Wouldn’t it be sweet if you could study hard for 3 months and then take a 3 1/2 year trip around the world with your diploma under your arm? Not going to happen. If you want the degree, get ready for many long nights and many opportunities to bail on the whole deal. No one would think this is possible but then think about the whole idea of  discipleship or disciple making.

 Shortcuts to being a committed disciple and disciple maker would never sleep in the same bed. When Jesus told the original gang to teach others to practice everything he taught and modeled to them, that would include teaching others to do the same thing. Check Matthew  28:18-20. By the way, Jesus spent about 3 years with these guys.

Then Paul added in writing Timothy that Tim should entrust what he learned from Paul to those who would keep the whole deal moving forward to the 21st century and beyond. 2 Timothy 2:2. Not sure how much time Paul spent with Timothy but they travelled throughout Asia and who knows where else. 2 Timothy 3:10 & 11 detail some of their time together.

Does your life reveal that being and making disciples is an option to consider or are you involved in the life of someone helping them learn how to make a difference while they are on this planet? Who could help you get started?