Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

I once had a coin that was dated back to the 1300’s. I was going to keep it so it would grow in value-I ended up losing it. Was it valuable? I will never know.

Some valuable relationships are often lost, while some have value to God but not necessarily to us. Genesis 21:8-21 reveals a story Abraham would not want to defend in a court of law. There were two sons, two moms, and one dad in this story. One mom and her son were sent into the desert and would have probably died except for God’s perspective of value.

Ishmael = God hears. And God did hear because Hagar and Ishmael were very valuable to God. Not so much to Abe, and for sure not at all to Sarah. But God is always attentive to our pain, confusion and irritations. He’s for us; we are valuable.

Check out Psalm 34:18 in the Message “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; If you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” (Sweet action on God’s part!)

WHAT THIS MEANS: Think about an instance in which you wondered where God was as you dealt with pain, confusion…Did you get through it with JOY and CONFIDENCE of God’s provision and love? Or, is there some residue of anger, whining or complaints you have? Can you be vulnerable with someone about it?

DISCIPLESHIP THOUGHT: Growing as a disciple only happens when we are vulnerable with others. Look at 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Most people like to be involved in discussion things with others. Some discussions connect to reality while others live in space somewhere. Somewhere we began to believe that to know and understand truth was the end game. We relish hearing teachers who parse Greek and Hebrew and bring to light things we never knew existed. Some of this is definitely valuable in understand the original intent of the Biblical writers. But the religious types were those

Application Vac

Application Vac (Photo credit: NeilsPhotography)

who Jesus had some of his most difficult words for. The religious gang knew the stuff but stopped there.

However, these religious types were wrong because they really did not know what God was getting at. Check Matthew 22:29. Jesus wasn’t showing off but trying to get them to see where they were missing the point. You and I can easily fall into this trap and not realize that God intends for us to use what we learn. It must affect our character and lifestyle or it really is useless.

Think about how many times you have listened to a message in either a formal Sunday setting or informally in someone’s home. It was spanking challenging but you left wondering what to do about it. There was no emphasis on how to apply it to your life and since no one really asked what to do about it, you thought that this must be what the Christian life is like.

But you just know there’s got to be more to it, and there is. In John 13:17 Jesus not only taught what being a servant was, he demonstrated how his men could do it and pass it on to others. James, later emphasized in James 1:22-25 that application is a must. Just knowing the manual on sky diving doesn’t get us to jump out of the plane.

Often we need someone in our life who will walk with us through the dark alley of application and together both begin to see the change in lifestyle, attitude and character. Do you have someone like this who will walk with you?

Things Have Got to Change

Things Have Got to Change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first glance an ad that said “free…but don’t forget the cost” would probably be viewed for about one second. Jesus is always up front with us. We don’t have to ask “what’s the catch?” when Jesus offers us life that is more exciting, rewarding and fulfilling in ways we could never imagine. He does tell us we don’t have to jump through several religious hoops to get it nor do we have to perform various tricks to keep it.

But as Jesus begins to unpack what it means to follow him in becoming his disciple, we quickly realize there is a cost to say he is the boss. We begin to realize we are going to have to alter our life in ways that both excite and scare the spank out of us. We could never dream of the freedom that comes with doing exactly what Jesus tells us. He says along with other things, “Anyone who comes with me has to let me lead; No procrastination and no backward looks, you can’t put off God’s kingdom till tomorrow.” And the kicker “if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people and kiss it good bye, you can’t be my disciple.” Not convinced it is free yet expensive? Take a look at Luke 9:23. 57-62 and 14:33.

Do you want the phone number so you can contact the ad Jesus runs in every newspaper and on every web site every day? Or are you going to press the delete key? One is much easier to do but miss the party.

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.

The Authority

The Authority (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never get into watching this kind of show partly because I can’t relate and I would rather watch some travel show that highlights intriguing places to go to. But, I wanted to see why so many were hooked on this one. So I watched several episodes including the final one of “The Voice.” I mean really, how do you pick one out of all of these amazing talents?

Just like those contestants bidding for our vote, we have many choices as to what we listen to when making decisions about how to do life. But out of the myriad “authorities” that clamor for attention and claim to have it right, comes one who challenges everything in us. To believe this voice alters everything, reveals our insecurities, quickly humbles us but also gets to the core issues we so desperately want dealt with. Jesus never wasted words and if you heard or hear him talk you are left with few alternatives as what  to do with what he just said.

When Jesus walked around and started talking, people quickly realized and said “this guy’s different.” They never heard this before and they also saw that he was living everything he said. Check out Matthew 7:28 and 29. But John 6:66 reveals the heart of many of us. The more Jesus defined discipleship, the fewer were interested in hanging with him.

So, what gives Jesus the right to silence every other voice that claims to be right? In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says “God’s given me absolute first and last word in heaven and down here on earth.” Word on the Street version. He has absolute authority.

What part of Jesus’definition of discipleship do you have trouble with? Why?

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)

Not everyone likes Starbucks coffee. Those who object say it is too bitter but those who disagree say it is bold and strong. But for sure it is not watered down and at every Starbucks coffee shop, it is almost guaranteed to be the same.

Our experience of Christianity can be as God intended or it can be compromised in some way that causes us to nap throughout our life and deceive us into thinking we are ok. And when our friends agree with the compromised version, our nap is extended indefinitely. Thoughts like Jesus being in the driver’s seat every day (deny yourself), or to not allow any relationship to have priority over Jesus, or to give up every right I have or give up ownership of everything can be quickly dismissed as good stuff Jesus said, but it must be translated into our culture today and for sure it will not carry those harsh implications. Before you water this down, check out Luke 9:23 and 14:25-34.

Jesus meant exactly what he said and even though compromise begins in small ways, it always ends up robbing us of the freedom and life we never dreamed possible by following Jesus. Look at John 10:10.

Think through how you may have begun to compromise what Jesus said and take back the life stolen from you by the enemy. “…don’t get blown off the road. Go for it 100%-you’re working for the Boss and you know it’s worth breaking sweat for. It’s not a waste of time. Hang in there.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 The Word on the Street

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being us...

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being used as a secondary logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

real people

real people (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Haven’t you ever asked someone

a question about something and realized somewhere during their response you just wanted to get in a fast car and leave as quickly as you could? You just wanted to know about their weekend but instead you got the history of how their parents neglected them and the 15 things that were wrong with their kids.

And what if you asked someone in your community group what they really thought about how you handled an embarrassing question someone asked you during the group? And if they said that you were way too defensive and didn’t seem to want to let them into your life, what would you think about that?

If we are teachable and want to make a difference in someone’s life, we will not set boundaries on what questions are legal and others that are way across the line. We will also give honest input to others about our life or theirs. But who makes these kinds of commitments? Anyone determined to follow Jesus without reservation enters into meaningful accountable relationships with others. Of course some issues need to be discussed in private, but if we are serious about discipleship we put it all on the table.

Jesus did not hesitate to explain the hypocrisy of some religious guys in Matthew 23:27; and there’s Paul’s explanation of a confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul also explained how he loved these people so much that he not only had a Bible study with them about the gospel, but he shared his life with them.

I remember a very painful time in my life in which I shared with several people what was going on and because of that, one person got with me the next week and told me that because I was honest with the group, he now felt he could tell me something about himself he had not told anyone else. What if I had a boundary that only allowed people so far into my life?

Do you have any boundaries that need to be erased?

Las Vegas is a destination where people with high expectations of winning enough at the tables allows them to pay for the trip, the room and buy whatever while there. Losing is no option anyone wants to think about.

Jesus shows up and creates excitement everywhere, he feeds and heals people, tells riveting stories and challenges the religious types regularly. Who wouldn’t want to follow him? But as he gets closer to the finish line, he begins to define exactly what’s involved in trekking with him. There’s John 6 in which after he defines discipleship his way, most take off rather quickly. Some hang on till near the end when he talks about some cannibalistic stuff of exchanging your life for his and they bolt. Only a handful are left and he asks them a tough question-“You guys leaving too?”

Peter is right on it with “where would we go, we know you are the real deal.” At another time Peter made an impacting statement in Matthew 19:27 “We have left everything to follow you…” Peter, speaking for the rest of the gang had come to a place where they had nothing left to lose. This is when you know you are a revolutionary. 

But this is where we scratch our heads and wonder how this is possible today. Surrounded by many who claim to be Christians while holding on to houses, furnishings, right neighborhoods, quiet surroundings, multitudes of tech stuff (that you just can;t live without), or maybe a way of thinking that is contrary to Jesus’s expectations for discipleship, we could easily conclude that Jesus must not have been thinking about this generation. Matthew 16:25 must be quickly rationalized and explained for today’s culture because only revolutionaries  would live like this.

This is exactly what Jesus has in mind for those who would follow him today. Nothing has changed with Jesus but rather with us. Let him define what this looks like for you…if following Jesus is at the top of your priority list.