Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Disciples First Priority!

Some words carry so much weight.  They deliver a huge punch when they are seen, read or heard.  Some words are so powerful, we are told to be careful when and how we use them in our marriages.  If we use these words too often, they can escalate a discussion into something much worse.  In a marital discussion, words like “never” can come up.  In a sentence it might come out like, “Well, you NEVER consider my needs.”  Or, “You NEVER liked my mother.”  That word “never” demands a lot of attention and will more than likely lead your “discussion” into a full blown argument.  The word “always” can do the same thing as well.

NOTE: the point of this post is not a marital counseling, but I would encourage those who are married to be cautious of these types of words.  I’m willing to bet communication in your marriage will improve.

The Shema

The Shema

Now onto my ultimate point.  There is one of these words used in Scripture that must be dealt with if followers of Christ are going to make the leap from Christian to Disciple.  It is a word that can slow even the most well intentioned of us down.  It is a word that is consumes everything and leaves no room for wheeling and dealing with God.  It is first found in the book of Deuteronomy in what is called, the Shema.  The Shema is one verse, but overarches multiple verses.  Deuteronomy 6:4 starts by saying, “Listen (Hear) O Israel!  The Lord our God, the Lord is One.”  But the section continues in verse 5 by saying, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

Did you catch it?  Did you catch the holistic word?  It was small.  Read that last verse again, in verse 5.

Did you find it that time?

It’s that little word “all.”  Disciples are to love the Lord our God with “all” our heart, soul and strength.  Jesus reiterated these words when confronted by the religious leaders in the New Testament.  Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.'”  This word is a holistic word which means it encompasses everything.  All of our life is supposed to be wrapped up in loving God above all else.

Sometimes, we might ask someone, “How’s your spiritual life?  How’s your walk?”  Did you know there isn’t even a word in the Bible for “spiritual life?”  The idea of having your spiritual life separate from your work, family, financial, recreation or sexual life would have been completely unheard of in biblical times.  There was no distinction.  Some have said, “all” things are spiritual.

The disciples first priority must then be to love God so much, with “all” they are, with “all” they think, with “all” they do, that they actually fail to compartmentalize their life.  In the process of becoming like Christ (discipleship) there is no room for giving only part of yourself to God.  Setting stuff aside for us to keep for ourselves and not surrendering it to God is not love at all.  If we keep one small area for ourselves, we fail in the most foundational of priorities for the disciple of Christ.

Nothing stays under the bed.

Nothing gets hidden in a small corner of the heart.

Everything is surrendered to God because of our love for Him.

Love the Lord your God with “all.”

Now that’s a lot of weight.

What do you think?  Do you struggle keeping certain parts of your life to yourself?  Do you compartmentalize your spiritual life and try to convince yourself that God isn’t interested in certain areas of who you are?

Be A Disciple First!

In my last post, Called To Make Disciples, I wrote about the idea of discipleship being more than just creating consumers in the church.  We are called to create something more than that.  The church has fallen short in this mandate.

We have made converts.

We have created productions.

We have built thinkers.

But we have often fallen short in the disciple making department.

Before I go any further, I want everyone reading this to know, that I am no expert.  I don’t claim to have all the answers.  I am simply speaking from my own experience.

My wife can create some beautiful things.  She is unbelievably talented in so many areas.  It is nearly impossible to select from her many abilities a proper example for this blog.  And without meaning any disrespect, I want to talk about a recent meal she created.  I came home to a most glorious smell.  My senses ran away with me as I enjoyed the fragrance in the air.  We sat to eat and on my plate was a fantastic dish.  There was a chicken stir fry over rice, with Dr. Pepper to drink of course.

Now, there is no way that I could tell anyone else how to produce that meal.  Why?  Because I have no idea how my wife created something so delicious.  The only way that specific meal will be passed along, is if my wife tells someone how she made it.

Or shares with them the ingredients.

Or invites someone to eat with us and walks them through how the meal is made.

You see, we can’t make disciples, if we aren’t disciples ourselves, first.  Making disciples must begin with disciples.

Making disciples requires that we come alongside people.

We give them the ingredients.

We walk through life with them.

We share in the mission of Christ along with them, not above them looking down.

This requires followers of Christ who are committed to first becoming like Christ.  Followers of Christ who are committed to His cause and mission.  Followers of Christ who will give their all (Mark 8:34), everything they are to become like Christ.  And this is no ordinary journey.  Discipleship is all about a continual process of becoming more like the One we claim to love and serve.  It’s about following Jesus into His mission, the mission of reaching people with a message of hope, grace & forgiveness.

We have been invited in to this mission.  And the only way the mission, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” can be accomplished, is if we take discipleship seriously.  We can’t make disciples, if we aren’t disciples ourselves, first.

So what do these disciples look like?  And why is it absolutely essential that you become one?

This and more in future posts.

What do you think about disciples (who they are, what they do)?

Called To Make Disciples!

Making disciples of Jesus Christ is an impressive and daunting call.  It’s impressive and daunting because it calls us to develop and equip someone to do something that we ourselves could probably do.  It’s the old, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself,” idea.  Don’t think discipleship is hard, give this a try.  Ask your three year old daughter to carry her plate of spaghetti to the sink after dinner some night.  I did.  Do you know what happened?  That’s right.  Spaghetti noodles all over the floor just in front of the sink, plate upside down and a fork slid under the counters.

You know, I could have carried that plate to the sink myself.  I could have done it and there wouldn’t have been an extra mess to clean up.  It would have been so much easier to just do it myself.  That’s why discipleship is hard.  We are called not only to bring others to Christ through a discipling process, but we’re also called to let go.  Discipleship is about us letting go of control because ultimately, we can’t do it all ourselves.

What I’m trying to ask is this…

How will my daughter ever learn to carry her plate to the sink if she isn’t allowed to make a few messes?

How will people ever learn to  if we are continually spoon feeding them the answers?

If the church isn’t in the process of making disciples, then what have we been making all these centuries?

We have been creating consumers.

We have been enabling spiritual immaturity.

Some view the clergy as the elite and the laity as those who “need” us.

So we spoon feed for too long.  Then something happens.  One day it all changes.  The sermon isn’t quite up to par.  The music is a little off.  Life group didn’t have the same “oomph” tonight.  And suddenly, the people aren’t being fed.  So what happens?  You begin to hear things like this;

I just don’t feel fed here anymore.

The pastor just isn’t reaching me.

I just don’t feel the Holy Spirit in this place like I used to.

I need deeper sermons to help me grow.

I need someone to carry my spaghetti to the sink for me.

We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Disciples look like people described by Jesus in Mark 8 when He says, “If you are serious about discipleship, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.”

And I can tell you with 100% certainty, carrying a cross is much more difficult than a plate of spaghetti.

So, what are you helping create?

Consumers or Cross-carriers?

More on discipleship to come.

Purpose And Cause!

The following is a post from one of my contributors, Brandon Foster.  He is a high school student in our Student Ministry at New Life.

Pupil: “You say everything happens for a reason.”

Teacher: “Yes; I hold it to be true, at least.”

Pupil: “Even when the initial cause of something doesn’t satisfy it’s intended purpose?”

Teacher: “Can you couple your question with an scenario?”


(characters are named from “the boy’s” perspective)

“Let’s assume a boy plans to hang out with two of his friends at a Lake after school, but during the last period of the day he finds out one of his friends will not be able to come. The boy decides to walk his friend (who can’t make it to the Lake) half way to his house and then head back to return to the Lake.

The bell rings, class is dismissed, and we find the boy and his friend outside of the school building searching for the boy’s other friend who was also invited to the Lake. To the boy’s disappointment, this other friend of his tells him that he won’t be able to make because of a a last minute event. The boy and the first friend continue walking on their way, but — to their surprise — they encounter two of their acquaintances from school whom they have previously noticed also like to frequent the Lake. However, the boy notices that one of the acquaintances isn’t heading for the Lake as she usually would but is heading to to her home, instead (which just so happens to be along the same path that the boy and his friend are taking).

The boy, his friend, and the two acquaintances converse among themselves and eventually arrive at a point where the road splits into three smaller roads. At the fork, one of the acquaintances takes a left, the boy’s friend continues on forward to rest of his way home, the other acquaintance begins to make for a right, and the boy heads back toward the school in order to make his way to the Lake (as he had previously planned). He does this even though his two friend who he had invited won’t be there, because he figures he might find some of his other schoolmates at the Lake anyway.

To the boy’s surprise, yet again, the acquaintance who started to make a right at the fork reconsiders her decision and decides to turn around and go back toward the Lake, in the same direction as the boy. As the boy and the acquaintance walk to the Lake, they have some small talk and learn a little more about each other. They arrive at the vacant Lake only to notice it’s been completely dry for 5 entire weeks. They walk and talk their way back to the fork where they once began their quaint journey to the Lake and depart to their respective homes.”

  • What if the boy and his friend stopped to get a drink of water for a couple minutes before they left the school building?
  • Teacher: “I see. So, neither the boy nor his friends got to hang out with each other as they planned.”

    Pupil: “It is sound to say that the cause of this event is when the boy and his friends planned to hang out.”

    Teacher: “Surely.”

    Pupil: “Therefore intended purpose of the cause was not yet fulfilled — correct?”

    Teacher: “That depends on how the boy sees it.”

    Pupil: “How so?”

    Teacher: “Well, did he enjoy the time with his acquaintance?”

    Pupil: “Without a doubt.”

    Teacher: “Now we need to look at the purpose of why the boy wanted to spend time with his friends at the Lake in the first place.”

    Pupil: “To have a good time, of course.”

    Teacher: “And to expand the relationships among themselves as friends, too, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Pupil: “I suppose so.”

    Teacher: “Isn’t this the same purpose as the cause in your given example?”

    Pupil: “But is it sound to say that the purpose of the boy and his acquaintance walking to the empty Lake was satisfied?”

    Teacher: “Then you’d have to ask what the acquaintance thought of it.”

    Questions for the Reader

  • What if the boy chose to go directly to the Lake and not walk his friend half way to his home?
  • What if the Lake wasn’t dry?
  • A Hidden Hypocrisy!

    It was a great day!  A couple of fantastic meetings.  A fun evening with the family at Chick-Fil-A.  They had a “Prince/Princess” night, and all the little princes and princesses got free ice cream.  We had a great time and even met the Chick-Fil-A cow.

    But something happened on the way home.  We stopped at Target to grab a few must-have items for the house.  My wife ran in and the kids and I hung out in the van.  This is when car rides can explode.  The kids get bored.  What’s the logical next step.  Hit each other in the heads with balloons.  Makes sense.

    My sons were really getting after it and I was trying to be patient.  I was allowing them to burn off some of that excess energy.  Then my oldest son, Grant, said something to Ashton.

    “Ashton, I’m not playing with you any more.  You always quit.”

    As he was quitting, he was chewing out his brother for quitting.

    I of course (at a time I should have waited anyway) jumped in at this point and told Grant that he couldn’t quit a game while chewing his brother out for quitting.  That didn’t make any sense.  Truthfully, that would be a hypocritical thing to do.  To say one thing, while living another, is hypocrisy.

    Then it hit me.  That’s exactly what I do as a dad.  I tell the kids what to do, but I so often fail to live by my own rules.

    “Kids, stop treating each other disrespectfully.”  Said while I yell or speak in a disrespectful tone.

    “Hey, pick up your stuff.  Stop leaving a mess.”  Said while my “garments” lie strewn all over my bedroom floor.

    “Hey, listen to your mother when she’s talking to you.”  Said while I assume I know better than my wife and fail to listen and respect her advice.

    You see, parenting brings out a hidden hypocrisy that is inside of us.  When we make laws (rules) as parents that we expect our kids to follow, but we ourselves abide by no rules.  We say one thing to them and they watch us live something entirely different.

    Is it any wonder, so many kids grow up disillusioned with the Christian faith?  Is it any wonder so many Christian kids grow up and give up on their faith by the time they leave college?  It’s not really any wonder, is it?

    Have you uncovered any hidden hypocrisies in your life as a parent?

    Am I crazy?

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