A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25

Previously, we suggested there are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

The article seemed particularly challenging (I am only the pen); and more so for the shepherds of God’s people – pastors, preachers, teachers, etc. Being a member of this group, I was reminded: These two questions should be answerable by every Christian in every sphere of influence we have been given responsibility for as leaders.

A dear friend – and the man God has assigned to disciple me for the last 12-15 years – shared a perspective that may prove to be even more challenging. You may not like what you read. It may even offend some of you.

Generally, it’s best not to say such things at the beginning of an article. We are swimming against the current here simply because we do not want you surprised and distracted. This way, we can simply say it without a bunch of dancing around. I trust you will consider the truthfulness of it, and apply all that is worthwhile.

“Disciple Making Works”

That’s what my friend said, “Disciple making works.” He didn’t mean what I thought he meant. He went on to explain (this is the way I heard it), “Every leader is discipling everyone they lead into some understanding; and into the life that understanding prescribes. They are doing this whether they intend to, or not.

“We are either making disciples into some understanding about Christ and His Church, OR, we are making disciples to Jesus Christ Himself that He might make them as He is Himself. And it always works.” Read the rest of this entry »

Have you ever thought, “I don’t have time to manage my time?” You are not alone. It is ironic how little time people invest in making sure they are making good use of their time. Worst still, the busier we are, the less time we invest to make sure our busy-ness is worthwhile and profitable. I recognize this is not news; just consider it a reminder that time is the one thing we cannot get back, or produce.

That reminder suggests two opening words of encouragement. First, though He is timeless, God is the producer and owner of time. Secular self-help books and articles are not the place to turn for help with time management – particularly when you have access to the Author. Second, God will do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or think with the time we surrender to His good work.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

As a conscientious leader, you are already making plans for next year (if not, you should be). Regardless of your success in 2018, you may be thinking about taking things to the next level (it is the American way). Before you do that, consider some time management strategies that will help you focus 2019 on the One Who has given you that time:

  1. Establish your calendar before the chaos begins – daily, weekly, monthly, etc. If the Lord is your CEO, then lay your calendar out before Him (as an offering). Allow Him to manage your time in His supernatural ways.
  2. Put to-do items on your calendar. Treat them like meetings with important clients. Don’t allow interruptions. Stay focused. You have been given the gift of self-control. Use it.
  3. Don’t let your smart phone manage you. Set your attention towards God’s voice, rather than that of men. Return phone calls when you cannot do anything else (e.g., driving). If necessary, allocate 30 minutes in the middle and at the end of your day to return calls.

Remember, business and spiritual growth are processes. Be patient with yourself and those in your spheres of influence. Also, decisions are more important than actions. Setting aside time to make good decisions is one of the most profitable things you can do.

Finally, consider this: Read the rest of this entry »

There are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

If you cannot answer the first question, you are likely not being discipled. Unless you are in their inner circle, this is not your pastor nor your Sunday School teacher. Making disciples requires relationship.

It is impossible to underestimate the impact a disciple maker can have on a person’s life (mentor is the secular term). Much of God’s grace flows down the channels of authority He has assigned for every Christian. This is not limited to teaching, counseling, etc. The life of Christ is miraculously transmitted through the disciple making relationship (e.g., faith, courage, and peace).

The Great Commission is God’s prescription for our participation in the advancement of His kingdom. Finding those that He has designated for our spiritual apprenticeship is vital to our inclusion in His story. Furthermore, it is impossible to make disciples without first being made.

Regrettably, making disciples has fallen out of favor in the church that resides here in America. Consequently, you may have to ask someone to disciple you. Before you do, ask God to identify that person. He loves talking with His children about such things.

Failure regarding our second question is a strong sign of spiritual disobedience. This is a hard judgment. It is also fair, grounded in truth, and offered in love. Read the rest of this entry »

Is anything in life accomplished in an instant? From learning to speak, to winning a girl’s heart, to career advancement, all development is a progression of incremental steps – each one building on the previous.

One might ask, “What if the last step was wrong or injurious?” In that case the next step is toward restoration; and stepping all the more needful.

The point here is that life is not a collection of events, but of processes. Even our birth begins with two cells becoming one, then two, then four, and so on. All physically animate things move in a direction – birth, growing and dying.

Recognizing this, the wise man does his best to organize his steps in the most profitable manner (meaning, he puts more than a little thought into his choices). The laisse faire approach to life rarely ends well.

Knowing that the natural life operates in process, why then would Christians live as though the spiritual life is any different? Why wouldn’t we readily recognize our spiritual life as more than a disconnected collection of events?

I will tell you why; because our carnal mind is at enmity with the Spirit, and opposed to our spiritual development. It is active in distracting and deceiving us.

We are being moved in a spiritual direction – toward evil or good, death or life. We must fight against our carnal mind for the spiritual processes that have been given to us by God for our maturation. These include sanctification, transformation, and salvation.

Furthermore, obedience to every command of the Father and Son is a process (hear, obey, act). Walking in the Spirit is a process. Faith is the process of God whereby His word to us becomes His work – over and over again, faith to faith.

This brings to mind another spiritual truth: These processes are iterative; they repeat in God-prescribed patterns. This is one of the reasons why spiritual disciplines work. Again, this is not unlike our life in the physical realm – the workday being a good example. Repetition and patterns are common to both physical and spiritual development. Read the rest of this entry »

The following includes excerpts from an upcoming book, An Enemy Lies Within. To find out more visit our Facebook page.

Thinking comes naturally to most of us. We may think about different things. We may think at different speeds. Some of us think too much; and some, not enough. But, one thing is true about all of us:

We don’t have to think about thinking.

So, why should we?

Consider the baseball player who wants to be a great hitter. If he is the rare “natural”, he will step in the batter’s box with little forethought and hit most anything thrown to him. The vast majority of us are not so gifted.

At the most elementary level, a hitter must think about the way he is standing in the batter’s box. He must think about how to hold the bat, and to rotate his wrists when swinging. He must think about the strike zone and the field of play.

If he has a good batting instructor, the hitter will learn (in advance) and consider (in process) the repertoire of pitches he will be required to hit. He will come to recognize that the pitcher will try to deceive him with the change-up and slider.

At a deeper level, an accomplished hitter will start to think about the way he is thinking when he steps into the batter’s box. He will have a plan – particular to the pitcher and situation. He will have mentally rehearsed the plan. The best hitters “get into the head of the pitcher” – both discerning what the next pitch will be, and affecting the choice.

Pick anything you want to be good at – sales, parenting, writing, you name it. There are very few things that would not come off better with some thought about the way we think. Those that think before they do something are more successful at the task than those that don’t. Similarly, those that think about their thinking become better thinkers (and doers). Read the rest of this entry »

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” David Foster Wallace, This is Water (2005)

My aunt recently returned to her eternal home. Jane was just an ambassador here on this earth. She had been seeking those things which are above – where Christ dwells at the right hand of the Father – for most of her life.

About a year ago, Jane shared that her heart’s desire was to get back to church. God nurtured that desire by bringing the church to her home. Now, she is with that great cloud of witnesses, praising the LORD and cheering us on. God gives us the desires of our hearts when we surrender to Him.

As a side note, I imagine Jane has already had more than one conversation with the Lord about more than one of those she loves here on earth. We should expect some response – some opportunity.

Jane’s transition reminded me of a few things about life. Like fish in water, we often live without realizing what we are living in. Though we value life, we forget it is there. We lose sight of its full meaning.

So, let’s stop and consider some truths about life. Read the rest of this entry »

It seems a bit late in coming, but I finally understand why a song, sermon, act of service, etc. can be humbling to the singer, preacher, etc. It is because these acts of worship are God’s grace and, consequently, greater than the person being used to deliver them. These blest individuals experience God using them as His instruments. His presence and power help them recognize their lack of sufficiency in the good work He is doing.

Oh, if we could only humble ourselves to recognize this about everything we are used to do for God’s kingdom. It is humbling to be His pen. It should be humbling to share a kind word with someone else. I confess: there is too much of me in too much of my life’s work.

Thank God, humility begets humility. There is hope for all of us.

Humility before God is surrender to His reign and control. It is “not I, but Christ who lives in me”. It is denying myself, taking up my cross and following after Christ in sacrificial love.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The chief requirement for Matthew 5:16 is humility and surrender. Surrender is so much the starting point for every assignment. In most cases, we don’t know the assignment without first surrendering. Read the rest of this entry »

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1John 5:3

No command of God is burdensome. If it seems so, then something is wrong with our thinking. We can dismiss or avoid considering this reality – to our spiritual harm. If you are sensing that inclination rising up in your mind, beware; for that is exactly what our carnal mind would encourage us to do.

Beware, indeed; for our love of the LORD is at stake here – the first and greatest commandment. Like His Father, the Son encourages, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 15:14).” Our obedience should be motivated by love.

Loving the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul and strength is not a burdensome exercise. Quite the opposite, it should be accompanied by joy and thanksgiving.

Out of enmity with God, our carnal mind would have us disobey; or, failing that, obey grudgingly. If we are not careful, our love will turn to burdensome obligation.

Resistance is warranted. We must overcome our carnal mind!

What does it say about our Christian walk if our lives are burdensome? If we are living under His reign – only doing what He commands – should we be so burdened?

  • Perhaps we are doing more than He commands – introducing unnecessary burdens.
  • Perhaps our love for God is inhibited in some way – the burden we feel is due to disobedience.
  • Perhaps we are allowing our carnal mind, in vulnerable moments, to convince us that His commands are burdensome.
  • Perhaps we have not come to believe the reality of 1John 5:3.

Read the rest of this entry »

The time has come to say some hard things. That is not my determination to make. Indeed, I am a conflict avoider. The pen must write what it is used to write. I am confident that the source is a Father who out of love, chastens, rebukes, and scourges His children.

Pastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth. The Next Chapter After the Last; A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer recognized the beginnings of our compromise in the middle of the 20th Century (he died in 1963). Since then, many pastors and churches have succumbed to the temptation about which he spoke and wrote. The results have been catastrophic.

A recent Barna survey reported that 51% of church attenders (in America) did not recognize the phrase “the Great Commission”. Only 17% claimed to know the meaning of it!

Think about that for a minute. What does this say about the church in America? How does someone not know about the command that supposedly got them there? What has replaced the Great Commission?

For those of you that love and lead millennials, it is important to know that new church trends are not helping. Only 11% of church attending millennials understand the Great Commission of our Lord! What does this say about our approach to youth and young adult ministry? Are we going to keep doing what continues to fail our King’s commission?

If this single statistic does not knock off and stomp our rose-colored glasses to bits, I don’t imagine anything will. There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – more indicators like it. Tragically, the church in America has been overrun with deception. Read the rest of this entry »

In God’s economy, we have no right to a particular standard of living, nor to pursue one. Like Paul, we must learn to be content regardless of our standard of living (Philippians 4:11-12). Indeed, this mindset is prerequisite to our doing “all things through Christ, who strengthens me (v.13).”

We have what we have either because God has given it to us, or we have claimed and carved it out for, by, and to ourselves. For the vast majority of us, there is a mixture; and it is hard to determine what falls into each of these two categories. It may be time for an assessment of the situation.

It is also difficult and threatening to consider what needs to go. Some things we possess will never be anything but the weight and sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). Or, alternatively, God may consecrate an ill-gotten possession for His eternal use. Recognizing that presumption is an unsafe tactic, how do we know what God would have us do? Read the rest of this entry »

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