Breaking the Cycle of Non-Discipleship

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I’m so excited to be in Tampa this weekend for the To Train Up A Woman conference with my mentor Susie Walther and the crew from The Well Bible Study Ministry! This is a two-day conference that explores the critical need for discipleship in women’s ministry: what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and what it entails in a woman’s life. The weekend includes keynote addresses and workshops. It is a spiritual boot camp designed to equip and recalibrate women toward a biblical model of discipleship.

Summer and Escaping the Prowling Lion

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Summer is here and our Bible study group is on vacation!  Now, this is a good thing because everyone, including ministries, needs a “sabbath” in order to stay refreshed, focused and energized. Additionally, we need time to plan and prepare for the new session, which starts in September.

But hear this word from my friend Susie Walther —

The bad thing about summer is that too many women choose to fall off their spiritual wagons during the breaks.. Le me ask you this:

Do you know what happens to the gazelle who separates lion-and-antefrom the pack on the African plain? She gets eaten by the lions! Satan is described in the Bible as a prowling lion. Don’t ever forget that. When we stay linked and connected to each other, we can protect, encourage, and spur each other on, but if we begin separating from the “pack” and isolating from Christians who are running hard after Christ, we become easy pickings for the hungry lions.

I want to encourage you to fight hard for a few things during the break. Fight hard for your time with Jesus – reading His Word, journaling your God-thoughts, memorizing some Scripture, and talking to God in prayer. Fight hard to stay with the “pack” by going to coffee or lunch with other women. Some of us go to the same church, so why not sit and worship together and then invite women to join you for the next session of your Bible study group? Stay connected through your ministry’s Facebook page.  Then look around and see if you see any stragglers. If you do – grab them before they become the Devil’s chow! Don’t slow down and for Jesus’ sake, don’t stop or quit!

Why become a spiritual carcass when you could have been spiritually alive and well instead? 

The Point of Holy Week

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crossThis week is Holy Week. That means a lot to some and absolutely nothing to others, unfortunately. This is the week leading up to the holiest day in all Christendom – the day Jesus Christ defeated sin, hell and the grave through one miraculous act of resurrection, making it possible for death to work backwards in our lives.

Now, what should be clear beyond a shadow of any doubt is that Jesus didn’t come to earth on Christmas Day, die a brutal death on Good Friday and raise from the dead on Easter Sunday so we could go to church once a week to sing songs and listen to a message.

What should be equally clear is that He didn’t teach for 3 years in a teeny country in the Middle East so we could sit around and read books and do Bible studies on the things He taught.

YET you’d almost think from the way we live and approach the Word of God that Christ’s life, death and resurrection were so we could go to church and join a small group. But it’s just got to sink in that neither of those is the point. Church and Bible study are good and they can be a means to the point, but they are not the point itself.

The point really is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ life, which is meant to define our character and ministry to others. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ death, which is meant to define our expectations and sacrifice here. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ resurrection, which defines our existence as new creations. As new creations, we are the light of this world. The ministers of Christ. The ambassadors of Christ. The witnesses of Christ. The martyrs of Christ. Our lives are not our own. They belong to the One who lived and died and rose again and told us to go into the world and make disciples of it.

So, go to church, friend. Go to Bible study. Join a small group. But if that’s mostly all you do, then I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.  

Yours, Susie Walther

Your Attendance Is Not The Point

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“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.”   

I Have Grandkids!

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I know – at 43 I am kind of young to have grandkids – but have a close look at this picture.  It is a picture of spiritual generations – a snapshot of true discipleship where the learner goes on to teach others and the multiplying process repeats itself.

GrandkidsOn the far right is Susie Walther.  She spent time teaching and training me more than 10 years ago.  Next to me is Patriece Johnson, whom I had the privilege of mentoring back before she was married with kids.  Next to Patriece are Vanessa and Alana, women whom Patriece is investing her life in…  (my spiritual grandkids!)

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

Do you see?  Discipleship is more than just teaching and transformation… It is reproducing – that’s the Jesus Model.

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

How grateful I am, how lucky we are, to have had women who invested in us.  Women who were worthy of imitating!

Charleston Road Trip!

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Fifteen years ago I moved to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and landed in a Navigators women’s Bible study. The teacher, Susie Walther, asked me out for coffee. Then she asked about my quiet times and my spiritual life. I thought she was weird at first – no one had ever asked me about my relationship with God like that! I was intrigued, and hungry for growth. She pursued a discipleship relationship with me and invested two years of her life in establishing my faith and equipping me to serve.  All around me women were doing the same – meeting one-on-one and investing in the spiritual growth of other women. Today some ridiculously high percentage (maybe 80 percent?) of women from that group are in full time ministry, making disciples across the country.

This weekend we are gathering in Charleston, SC at the “To Train Up A Woman” Southeastern Navigators Women’s Conference. Several of us are speaking about our experiences with discipleship…  I’m really looking forward to the learning and encouragement that come when women who share a vision and a commitment to laboring in the Kingdom get together!

Negotiating and Compromise

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Ray Comfort tells a story in one of his books that goes like this:
A man leaned over to a woman seated next to him and asked, ‘Would you go to bed with me for a million dollars?’ The woman answered, ‘I would think about it.’ He then asked, ‘Would you go to bed with me for one dollar?’ She widened her eyes and said indignantly, ‘What kind of woman do you think I am!’ He replied, ‘We’ve already established that. Now we’re just negotiating the price.

Ladies, every day of our lives Satan is trying to “negotiate the price” of our moral and spiritual compromise, and he’s banking on succeeding with his negotiations.

Why? Because he already knows our flesh is weak. He already knows what lines and excuses work on us. He already knows we’re not inclined to “count the cost” when pain, loss, financial challenges or adverse circumstances enter the sphere of our lives. Satan already knows we’re inclined to worldliness because he knows we find cultivating holiness boring, tedious or just downright unenjoyable. He already knows we’d rather watch some titillating TV show, catch up on everyone’s FB posts, read a juicy new novel on our Kindle or play Candy Crush – anything – rather than reading our Bible, praying for people, doing Bible study or memorizing God’s Word. He already knows going the “extra mile” is hard for us because we’re not naturally disposed to sacrificially serving people, forgiving offenses, giving our money away, or renouncing our “fun” bad habits and immoral behavior.

So, never forget that Satan is always trying to wicker a deal to negotiate your price.

Unless, of course, you decide from the get-go that you cannot be bought.

*Guest blog by Susie Walther, http://www.thewellbiblestudy.com