Archive for discipleship
There is a lot of great stuff coming out of the Verge Network right now. This video from Soma Community pastors Jeff Vanderstelt and Caesar Kalinowski is a great look at making disciples. I recommend you read the latter half of John 8 and then compare your understanding with what Caesar shares in the piece.
Last night my wife was helping a friend that has recently begun seeking to learn and live the ways of Christ. During their time together, my wife mentioned the Jewish people. In reply, our friend shared that she had heard the word Jew before, but had no idea what it meant. None.
This kind mother of four is, for several months now, seeking to teach her children to follow Christ. She is recently characterized by sharing the hope that she has because of Christ with others in her neighborhood. But she did not have a bit of knowledge about the Jewish people, the nation of Israel or any of their history either in Scripture or modern day.
Realizing this made me aware that I need to slow down and back up in my expectations of what others know. Seems like a good idea with her to now “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Also, our realization last night made me thankful that we are called to make disciples that obey everything Christ commanded, not disciples that are simply chock full of knowledge.
A recent conversation with my pre-teen daughter about the latest happenings in her world at her new school where she is seeking to live as salt and light led to some healthy thinking and great conversation. (I really love talking with this kid and am thankful that I get to be her daddy.) Anyway, the conversation is an important part of what it means to live on mission.
In the gospels we see numerous times where the religious leaders came to trap Jesus with their sophistry. Following these encounters, the questioners would be silenced, red-faced, apoplectic. On the other hand, we see genuine questioners coming to Christ that were deeply impacted and changed or struggled with the answers he gave. Each encounter makes clear that he was the wise one. He seems to be thinking, speaking and seeing things on a higher plane. So, if we are sent as he was sent then….
The same goes for peace-making. Jesus didn’t make a let’s pretend to be nice ignoring the elephant in the room peace, but more often a reconciliation of relationships that were completely severed with no hope of making things right. For example, there was no way that Mary and Martha were going to have another minute with Lazarus on this earth until Jesus went and changed all that. If that’s a bit too extreme then how about the prostitute at the well that Christ restored to a healthy standing in her community. So, if Jesus was a peacemaker and we are sent as he was sent then….
We have such a privilege and I believe it is fair to even say a huge advantage in interacting with others. We are sent as the wise ones, the peace-makers. We go out from our homes into our community, the places where we connect, our workplace and our schools with our eyes wide open. There is a purpose behind who we are, a mission that propels us forward. We meet and relate to our neighbors to bless them. When they are kind to us, we in turn honor them. If they curse us, we in turn bless them. If they hate us it is OK because we have enough love for both of us. When they want to speak only of mundane or immoral things, we have the privilege of elevating our interactions to things that matter and are lasting.
With tail wagging wildly, our new Christmas puppy has found her place in our home (though not exactly inside it) and our hearts. She goes from a flutter of spastic activities before hitting the wall and crashing for a time only to get a full recharge. We have laughed a lot over the past days and tossed a few things that Super Pup bested.
Our biggest concern with getting a dog in the first week was the whimpering and whining at night and the resulting displeasure of the neighbors. Just separated from her mama, the new love of my children’s lives proved true to nature and whimpered intermittently through the first several nights. A couple days into it though, with no complaints from neighbors, all seemed well. But actually it was better than that….
On New Year’s Eve night, my father-in-law and I visited my neighbor who washes his Jesus to share some food and wish him well. Gus was broken prior to our arrival and often incoherent due to some amount of alcohol and large amounts of emotional pain over the last year and anger through recent events with others. Through our time together, he shared that he had been awakened by a whimpering puppy the previous morning at 4:00 AM. Then, for the first time, he began to read his Bible. We finished our time together praying a prayer of blessing over a man who was at first scared to be holding a bottle of Bud Light while we began to talk to God. By prayer’s end, he was deeply moved and thankful.
The story continues…now with Super Pup in the cast of characters.
Here is Hirsch with some thoughts about the imperative and pervasiveness of discipleship. Thanks to the Verge Network for making this available.
Planning to start posting video Friday again. There has been some really good stuff put out lately. Will be linking to some of that in case some of you missed it and posting original video still from time to time.
First up is Francis Chan as he shares about how he is processing his call to be obedient and a challenge to us to figure out what is weird or normal in obedience in our generation. (Thanks to Rastis at Changefish for bringing it to my attention.)
Having just moved into the new place a couple of days ago, we are still settling, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, etc. But we took some time out this weekend to pray as a family in our home and out in our community. As we were walking along, something simple, yet beautiful happened.
My youngest daughter has been praying for a couple of years now thanking the Lord for such a wonderful day and usually praying that He would have a wonderful day as well. But as we walked along in our community praying for our neighbors, she began to pray that our neighbors would see Christ in us…that they would come to Him…that He would touch their lives.
It was a blessing for me to be walking along, holding her hand as we agreed in prayer for what God may do in our community. It was a blessing to see her self-focused prayers switch to be prayers about seeing God’s glory revealed so that those that are around us may come to Him. During this time she had learned something from me and I was learning something from her.
This week I had the privilege of participating in some interviews (behind the camera of course) offering me the opportunity to hear some good perspectives. One of these key interviews was with Ed Stetzer and Greg and Ruth Haslam of Westminster Chapel. Ed posted a piece with the video and helpful insight on “Involving all of God’s people on all of God’s mission.”
Here is some additional background information that may provide more scope and meaning for the video.
Westminster Chapel was planted in the early 1840’s. Some 25 years later, the church moved to its current location which had a large amount of poor people in the area. Some years after the church’s relocation, the word “slum” was introduced to the English language. This word was used for this area of London at that time. It had been for this very reason that the church had moved into this area according to the pastor’s wife, Ruth Haslam. Since that time the community has gone through a gentrification process.
There is a history of great preachers that led the church throughout its many years. These men include: Rev. Samuel Martin; Dr. G. Campbell Morgan; Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; and Dr. RT Kendall. In our modern day it is more difficult to encourage and observe obedience with only a preaching point as the means for discipleship. Though not captured on the above video, Pastor Greg shared that the transition he is leading to establish community groups is necessary as church participants need to be participatory in becoming more obedient to the Savior and His mission.
It is both good and comforting to know that someone is responsible to ensure that the church is open at set times, that everything will be prepared for every meeting, that the worship service or outreach program will run smoothly. It is seemingly ideal if the person that will tend to these tasks is also seminary trained so that they will be qualified and able to pass out food to the hungry on behalf of the congregation and answer the complex questions of a child that is seeking to walk with Christ so a parent will not get tripped up.
Seeing how effective and eloquent professional ministers can be may lead lesser disciples bring the lost to the expert so that he can explain the love of God without error. Surely this is good. Surely he knows how to communicate with your co-workers, friends, and neighbors better than you do. Perhaps the shared community and history are irrelevant when sharing a contextualized gospel message.
As the son of a carpenter, Jesus would have been taught in this trade throughout his formative years. From the tribe of Judah, Jesus should have left the priestly activities to the Levites. But He didn’t. Neither personally or in tasking others. Jesus took a ragamuffin group of men that were completely untrained and unqualified except for having spent time with Him out to declare that “the Kingdom of God is near you.” Multiple times. And the results? They were great. Really great. Upon hearing of what God the Father did through the lives of these very normal disciples, Jesus said: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure” (Luke 10:21).
In the early church, the use of regular, everyday people had great impact. Early in the book of Acts the religious leaders “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men. The author of Acts continued to say that the religious leaders “took note that [Peter and John] had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13) “Being with Jesus” was the requisite, transforming qualification for one to be able to impact the lives of others for His glory. That was the requirement to lead. That was what it took to function in the realm of the great. In this regard, not much has changed.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)
Key principle #8 for moving discipleship from great to good: Equate worship with song.
The music starts softly and builds throughout the verses as it crescendos to a grand, sustained chorus that celebrates the matchless glory of God. Beautiful. Fortissimo. It stirs the emotions causing some to stand, some to clap, others to raise their hands, and perhaps others to cry. It stirs the heart and provides an emotional release. It feels great. It is good.
Worship is beautiful in the realm of good. Trained musicians lead people through a set of songs that prepare people to hear from God. Creativity and talent abound. Churches providing a place to share a special worship song starts or advances the careers of many of the top names in today’s pop culture scene. These are the people who transition from worship to performance. As for worship, though, each set is prepared, rehearsed, and executed in the allocated time. It is a part of the church experience. It is part of a disciple’s life.
Jesus was both a practitioner and an advocate of worship. With 11 of his disciples, he sang after sharing a last meal with them. To the Samaritan woman, he spoke about the worshiper that God seeks–one that “worship[s] in spirit and in truth.” He worshiped the Father while in the midst of temptation in the wilderness. He worshiped as He proclaimed the gospel to individuals and groups; fed 5,000; sent the disciples out; told parables; healed people; and died on the cross. His was a life of worship. It was great.
Later Paul would write about the practical living out of our lives in light of how exalted God is. He writes: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” The idea was not new. The model of this lifestyle–Emmanuel–is there for us to examine and follow as we study the gospels. This is a worship worth passing to a disciple. A worship worth living. Worship that is great.
more and less
Worship includes music. It must. David, Asaph and others were fans in the Psalms. Miriam sang at length. John records a bunch of singing and praise occurring throughout heaven in Revelation. However, to share that the emphasis placed on song throughout the gospels and Acts is not a primary area of emphasis is actual if not an understatement. In the first five books of the New Testament, worship often takes the form of prayer as well as time together with both Christ followers and those that were not yet resolved to do so. Worship is recorded as personal sacrifice and even death. We see worship lived out in the life of the individual and in community.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)