Making Disciples

Acts 11:26 And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Interesting things happen when I am working in the yard digging in the dirt. I am able to settle my mind, and just talk to the Lord. I ask a lot of questions about things I’m seeing that I don’t understand. And since I understand so little, there are a LOT of questions.

Anyway, as I was moving one of those 80# blocks for the retainer wall–(did you know that 80# did not used to be so heavy?!? I don’t know what they put in those things, but they certainly weigh more than they did 40 years ago!)–I began laughing at how backward we have become in the church.

There is a major move on today to make disciples within the churches. This is a good thing, but not the best thing.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.

As the gospel has become more watered down to make it more appealing to more people, we have this interesting situation where pastors are calling their people to become disciples. It seems that we went into all the world and made Christians of all people–but few disciples.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his seminal work “The Cost of Discipleship,” made it clear that being a disciple is much more demanding than the greasy grace to which many have been called. It was so demanding for him in Nazi Germany that he lost his life as a result.

The term “Christian” was first used as a pejorative term, a slam against the disciples who so stood out from the rest of humanity that others mocked them. Their discipleship was so visible that a nickname had to be given.

So, the joke now is: “Where will the Christians first be called disciples?”

Words

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

I grew up believing that lie. Now as an adult, I still suffer the consequences of that deception.

Words can break the spirit. Words can wound. Words can kill.

Words can build up. Words can heal. Words can give life.

Pro 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

It is very important that we learn to think about and listen to what we are saying.

Gracie and I are in a tremendous battle to gain healing from a fight we had yesterday. Words were part of the cause for the pain we both experienced.

So, this morning, on the way to church, I had a good example of how important it is for me to guard my speech and to choose the right words.

I went out to the car ahead of her, and decided to let her drive. So, I got in on the passenger side. The car was running when she came down the stairs. Since she was in heels, she was carefully watching where she was going, walking with that beautiful grace she has. She was coming to the passenger side when I called out, “Wrong side.”

Then I got to thinking about that, and broached the subject with her as we were driving along. I asked if she had felt ‘corrected’ by my statement of “wrong side.” She said no. But, can you agree with me that “Other side” might have been more appropriate? “Wrong” is a negative, corrective term. And even though I had no intention of correcting anything, it could have been perceived that way. Fortunately for us, since we are both very tender right now, she did not receive it that way.

Is this being too picky? Do I have to be concerned about every single little word and nuance before I speak?

For me, the answer is YES.

Jesus said, “The words that I speak are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

Luk 6:40

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

It is my desire to be like the master to whom I am discipled.

Dark & Empty

Genesis 1:2  Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

This earth (me) seems to be without shape and very empty at this time. Darkness covers the deep waters of my soul. But, I am confident that the Spirit of God is moving in my life even though circumstances appear contradictory.

How do I know that? I continue to cause pain for those I love.

I’m trying to learn to love as Jesus loved, but it eludes me.

Maybe I am becoming a threat to the kingdom of darkness. Maybe that is why I am experiencing these things. Otherwise, I would not be concerned about it one way or the other. But, such is not the case.

I am concerned. I hurt deeply when I seem to be the cause of someone’s pain. In those times I am ready (once again–as many times in the past) to throw in the towel. To call it quits. I think will never be an example of a good follower of the Lord. Therefore, I try to assume that I am becoming a threat to the devil’s domain. However, that helps not at all.

Despair.

What a dark enemy of the soul.

Blogged Bible Study–Are You Loved?

Jn 13:1
having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Jn 13:23
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.
Jn 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (all from the NKJV)

Polycarp, one of the early Church fathers after the original apostles, was acquainted with John. Some say he was one of John’s disciples. Polycarp has left us a story concerning the beloved apostle:

After John returned from his exile on the Isle of Patmos (90-95AD), he was too weak to get around by himself. He had to be carried about on a stretcher. When he would go to church, as he was being carried up toward the front, he would lean up on one elbow and say, “Little children, love one another.” He would say this repeatedly as he was being moved up the aisle.

It has long been acknowledged that John is the apostle of love. All his writings are filled with the theme. And here, in this gospel we have an exquisite look into why this is so.

No other gospel writer has these words–only John. John is focused on the love that Jesus had for His disciples who were with Him. We see that plainly in verse one.

Jesus wants us to continue to show that special kind of love with each other, and He gives a command to that effect in verses 34-35. We are to love in the same manner that the Lord loved His disciples. We also know that it is the same love that He has toward us.

The pivotal verse, however, is not the commandment, but the picture that is painted for us in verse 23. Pay close attention to the words of that verse: …one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Just considering the plain English that is used here, it is possible to read “whom” as referring to “disciples.” That is, Jesus loved His disciples, which is consistent with the opening of the scene in verse 1.

However, most people have taken this to refer to the “one,” being John. He was leaning on Jesus’ chest, giving us a picture of intimacy. As a result, we have been taught that Jesus had a special love for John.

John was probably the youngest of the 12, possibly only 19 or 20 years of age at this particular event. That is sometimes held up as the reason for this special love.

There is, however, something lurking here beneath the surface that begs our attention.

John is loved.

John writes this as one who is very much aware of being loved by the Master.

Are you one who is very much aware of His love for you? Is your awareness so rich that others might think that you are ‘specially’ loved by Him? Are you loved?

NOTE: The invitation to write for the Blogged Bible Study is an honor. I trust that my thoughts and insights are as much a blessing to you as the other writers are to me.

Solid Foundation

1 Co 3:11-15
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.                                                                                                                                 KJV

This passage is usually taken to apply to our own life and what we do with it in the Lord. It is important that we pay attention to what we are doing with the gifts God has given us. But this passage does not directly address our individual walk with God.

Paul is writing about the work he has done among the Corinthians. He laid the foundation (v. 10). The foundation of all our endeavors is Jesus Christ. Any other foundation is built upon shifting sand and is destined to fail. Our hope is built on nothing less than the blood of Jesus. Make sure your foundation is solid.

Ps 11:3
 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?        KJV

Paul is addressing the work that we do with others. Each of us should be working with at least one other person, helping them to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(You are discipling someone, aren’t you?)

Make sure that you are building something that will last, that will stand the test of fire. Our denominational doctrines about the right way to be baptized, or to take communion, or to get raptured, or any of the other things we rely on to make us different from other Christians will not help us or our disciples stand in the day of adversity.

Here’s the SHOCKER: when that person falls because the work was not solid, you are held accountable!

In an age of “no-fault” religion, that is not welcome news. I didn’t say that. It’s in the Bible. Read the passage for yourself.

No. Build something solid. Build upon the Word of God. Build upon the promises of God. Build upon the commands of the Lord. Teach people how to overcome the problems in their life. Teach them how to get control fo their anger. Teach them how to handle their finances. Teach them how to be good parents. Teach them how to be a good spouse. Teach them how to handle their business in a godly manner. Teach them how to be godly in all that they say, think, or do.

Teach them all that the Lord commanded us (Matt. 28:20).

Don’t forget to teach yourself at the same time.