Healthy Discipleship Requires Raising Up Disciplers

We need to raise up disciple-makers… This is not simply the task of your pastor… we are ALL called to be disciple-makers, because disciples of Jesus Christ cannot be mass produced. 

Programs do not make disciples, people make disciples.

Good blog post.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/february/healthy-discipleship-requires-raising-up-disciplers.html

Christmas Can Be Hard

Truth about Christmas from Glennon Melton on http://www.momastery.com.  She writes,

“…we use all the sugar and booze to stuff down our discomfort  because our unease and sadness and fear aren’t supposed to show up on Christmas, right? If they do, if these feelings arise- we must be doing something wrong, right? Because everyone else is HAPPY today, right? Because everything’s supposed to be shiny and perfect and happy and bright, right?

Ha! That is hilarious! No. No, NO! None of that is true. God never suggests that holy days will be easy and shiny and bright. Commercials tell us that.  The folks who sell the shiny and bright stuff tell us that. If the original Christmas story taught us anything, it’s that holy days can be brutal indeed, complete with rude innkeepers and tired donkeys and nothing to put your baby in but rags. In fact and forever and ever amen – Holydays have been marked not by SHINY but  by HARD.

Fear not, said the angel to Mary, We Can Do Hard Things. For Nothing Is Impossible With God.

Listen- when you feel tired and sad and small because you’re perhaps being sucked  into old family dynamics today — because the ICK is arising — find a quiet place in your home to remember. Did you know that the two most repeated phrases in the Bible are Fear Not, and Remember? In order to FEAR NOT, we have to remember. So take a moment to remember that you’ve made it this far. Remember that it’s OKAY to be human. It’s okay to have all the feelings today. It’s okay if your people SEE your real, true feelings. It’s okay to be a little human and uncomfortable and icky.  As a matter of fact — that’s what Christmas is ABOUT. INCARNATION. It’s about GOD deciding to become fully human. If God decided that being human was okay —  certainly you can decide the same. Don’t stuff it down. Let it come and go. It’ll go, if you let it come. Feeling uncomfortable is not a problem — it’s the numbing and the running and the rejecting of the discomfort that starts all the trouble. Let it come. Make like Mary when she responded to that angel – raise your arms in the air and say to all the feelings: “HERE AM I! LET IT BE!” Holy stuff happens after that level of surrender.

When I feel scared and uncomfortable in my skin during the holidays, when I find myself frantically inhaling my fourth brownie like it’s air that will help me survive (which I did last night) I invite myself to sit on my special pillow and close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I check back in with God. I ask God to remind me how wildly and completely loved I am, in all my beautiful, messy humanness. Is it a little weird? Yeah, maybe. Tish (my daughter) asked me what I was doing there recently and I said “I’m just here remembering how much God loves me.” She looked surprised and said, “Mom! How could you FORGET that?” And I smiled and said, “Well, sister – my prayer for you is that you never, ever forget that- not even for a second. But if you ever do, you can use my pillow, okay?” The next day, after a fight with her brother, I found Tish on my corner pillow, closing her eyes and smiling.

Nobody’s life or family is perfect. Every family is brutiful. And so what we are celebrating today is not how things should be — but how they ARE. Messy and beautiful and human. If messy and human and poor and a little broken and totally unconventional and even scandalous is good enough for GOD’s little family — it’s good enough for yours, too. Let yourself and your people be messy and beautiful and human today. Don’t try to fix them, just love them. Don’t try to fix yourself, just love yourself. Let it all be…”

TRUTH.  Lovely, freeing truth.  Thanks Glennon.

– Read the whole post at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/12/23/d-day/

Christians Do Face Judgment

Judgment is not a Christmas-season topic… but it has come up in my conversations four times in the last two weeks, so let’s clear up this misunderstanding (or false teaching).

Salvation is by grace, but Christians still face judgment for how they have lived their lives.  Keep reading.

“Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead…” 2 Timothy 4:1

“Both believers and unbelievers will be included among the living and the dead. The judgment of unbelievers will involve a determination of eternal destiny. The judgment of believers will not determine eternal destiny, but will concern itself with an evaluation of works for the purpose of recognition or reward.” – The New American Commentary

  • Salvation is by grace alone. The believer’s sins are atoned for by Christ’s death.
  • The works of every believer are judged at the “Great White Throne” judgment in Revelation 20 and result in reward or loss. This does not affect salvation, only reward or loss in eternity.

Revelation 20:11-15. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

  • Note the “book of life” that records the names of those who are saved and determines their destiny.
  • Note the “other books” that record “what they had done” and determine if there is reward or loss.

2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

  • Paul, writing to believers, indicating that we will face judgment of our works and will receive something (or not).

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

1 Corinthians 3:10-16. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because The Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

  • Paul, writing again to believers, whose works are going to be tested by fire on Judgment Day and he will receive a reward – or suffers loss, but will still be saved. I will say that we still don’t really know what the reward or loss will be, only that it exists.  We do know that there are at least five crowns mentioned in scripture that believers can be rewarded in eternity.  What we do with the crowns – lay them at the feet of Jesus, wear them, who knows?  You can use www.blueletterbible.org and search for “reward” or “crown”… interesting!

So just remember, you’re saved by grace – but then you are RESPONSIBLE for being a good STEWARD of all that God has given you.   Your choices are significant.

Your Attendance Is Not The Point

“If all you do is show up each week at Bible study and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.” writes Susie Walther (my mentor) regarding her philosophy on women’s Bible study ministries.
       She goes on to say:
      “It usually takes being at The Well (the ministry she leads in Tampa) a year before it really dawns on you that we’re a little different from a lot of women’s ministries. Often, women aren’t even 100% sure what it is that makes us different. Some may think it’s the hugs they get when they come through the doors. Others feel it’s because we are “more friendly” or less “cliquish” than other women’s groups.
     For some, the difference is our weekly devotions, especially when they realize we intentionally pass the microphone to the women sitting in the room who maybe are not polished public speakers or mature Christians yet. Still others believe the magic is in the way we approach our Bible studies, making them discussion oriented and not video driven, causing you to think, do your homework, and be able to articulate what you are learning.
      Indeed, all those and even other elements make The Well all that it is.  However, you need to know that what really makes us different is this – we’re not willing to be satisfied that you decided to come through the door and grace us with your presence.  We’re not overjoyed because you might decide to volunteer to bring a snack, give a devotional, or greet ladies at the door.
     So many women’s ministries and Bible studies would deem themselves successful if “x” number of women “attend” their group or volunteer to keep their program going. BUT NOT US.
      You know why? Because The Well isn’t about building The Well. The Well is about being a conduit or vehicle for building and advancing God’s Kingdom in the lives of women. Matter of fact, if all you do is show up each week and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.
      Your attendance is not the point – your discipleship is.
     Ministry and Kingdom success equals you experiencing God in such a way through Jesus Christ and the transformative power of His Word, prayer, fellowship and His Spirit that you leave out those doors each week and live like a Jesus-following, God-honoring, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled child of God who knows how to engage people and do ministry in your home, in your church and in the world without a church program or leader directing you.
      You learn to live like that and it’ll be a win-win-win-win: for Jesus, for the Kingdom of God, for you, and even for The Well.”   

“A Cruel Kindergarchy”

I’ve been thinking about this lately – from the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.

Diagnosis #4: You Need To Stop Freaking Out About Your Kids

He writes, “We live in an age when the future happiness and success of our children trumps all other concerns.”  Thus the term Kindergarchy – rule by children.

“Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be.  It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives… Now, it’s much more involved.  There are so many rules and expectations.  Parenting may be the last bastion of legalism, not just in the church but in our culture.”

“As nanny parents living in a nanny state, we think of our children as amazingly fragile and entirely moldable.  Both assumptions are mistaken.  It’s harder to ruin our kids than we think, and harder to stamp them for success that we’d like.  Christian parents in particular often operate with an implicit determinism.  We fear that a few wrong moves will ruin our children forever, and at the same time assume that the right combination of protection and instruction will invariably produce godly children.”

“One of the best things we can do for our kids is to find a way to stop being so frantic and frazzled… We must make parental sanity a higher priority.”

Right.  No more parental craziness.  The end of the cruel kindergarchy – no more rule by the children.  Relax.  Now, how do we do that?!

These Are Our Stumbling Blocks

Life is full of challenges.  In class this week we talked about the four things most Christians stumble over.  They are somewhat sequential in our walk to spiritual maturity, but not entirely.

The first thing we stumble over, our first hurdle, is SALVATION itself.  We struggle at the very beginning of the path with the idea that we are sinners, that we cannot save ourselves, that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus gave His life on our behalf, and so on.  It’s just not so easy to embrace the whole idea.

The next thing we stumble over is THE WORD.  Learning to read the Bible regularly, to study it, to actually understand it, and to make it a central part of our lives can be so darn hard.  We may not understand how critical the Word is to our lives.  And even if we know it’s important, we still tend to neglect it.  It takes commitment, discipline, practice, and maybe some outside help to become a consistent consumer of the Word.

Then there is the LORDSHIP struggle – the idea that God is to be the most important, all-consuming person in our lives.  There cannot be anything or anyone more important than Him.  He doesn’t want to just be at the top of our priority list, He wants to own our whole life!  Surrendering ourselves, our ideas, and our “idols” is an ongoing, life-long process.  We continue to stumble over this for much of our lives.  We may surrender one part of ourselves, only to discover a few months later that some new idol has cropped up.

And finally, we stumble over PEOPLE.  People can be so hard to love – because we are sinners, they are sinners, and that can make for a fine mess.  Yet Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 22:37-39 that the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord and to love people!  We are not only to love people, we are to make disciples of them and help teach them how to follow Jesus – that was the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

So where are you at in your journey?  What are you wrestling with?  Salvation?  The Word?  Lordship?  People?

I challenge you to think it over and discuss it with a friend.  Then decide what you’re going to do about it.  Don’t miss the whole point of your life on earth after you come to know Christ… He has called us to love and to labor.  Let’s do it!

devotional 10/28/2014