But wait there’s more

Have you ever heard the saying your attitude determines your altitude? It’s an OK saying, and when things are going ok and sometimes when it is a matter of focus it is helpful. In truth, our attitude does determine a lot of things and when we have the wrong attitude or cannot get our focus right, we generally keep sinking. I think having the right attitude is very important but sometimes life is too heavy for just the right attitude. Sometimes the weight and heaviness of life are crushing, and we cannot think ourselves into a better situation. Thankfully we don’t have to.

In Ephesians 1:20-21 Paul talks about Jesus and says that God raised Christ from the dead and now Christ is seated in heaven above every power, ruler, and authority that was, is, and will be. Jesus is above everything. There is nothing that is higher than our risen Messiah. No political party, no recession, no fear, no doubt, nothing is higher than Christ. He is supremely above everything. Bad things still happen on earth. Loved ones still die. Wars still occur. The church still fails at times. But in all of it, Christ is still above all these things. No matter what is happening here on earth Jesus is above everything.

That is awesome and so helpful to remember. To know that in our situations, when things are so bad we can hardly stand, we still have a Lord who is above everything. To remember that the love that has been poured out on us was poured by the one who is above and sustains all things can give us peace in the midst of the storms. It can remind us to look to Christ and not our own ability. It can give us the courage to keep pressing on. I would say there is nothing better than that, except Paul says there is something better.

Paul tells us this and it is supposed to give us peace. It is supposed to get us excited about how great Jesus is. It is supposed to elicit a specific response of amazement because then Ephesians 2:4-6 says that we are now with Him! That’s right we start with this feeling of awe and sense of the greatness of Christ being above all things and then Paul hits us with the fact that our place is in Him in heaven. Now obviously we are still here on earth but our position, where we belong, is in Christ above it all.

I remember when I quit a bad job one time. I thoroughly disliked that job. Most of my days were spent very annoyed and aggravated with the company, co-workers, and the tasks themselves. I was given an opportunity to take a new job, so I did. I remember when I gave my notice it was the best feeling. For the next two weeks, I still worked that bad job, with the bad co-workers, and the dysfunctional management but it did not bother me as much because I knew my proper position. I was still there but I had a different place I belong to. I understood that the time I had was short and then I would be where I really belonged.

In the same way, but much more, we belong in Christ and that is where we are headed. Our placement is set. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The notice has been given and now we go about whatever it is we are doing with an understanding that eventually we will be where we belong. Stuff still happens. Life still gets hard. Things still break. Shoulders are still sore but praise God Hallelujah this is not our final stop. Wow, am I glad.

Are we irrelevant?

I was thinking about relevancy last night and the question popped in my head “is the church irrelevant?” I think the answer is yes, I mean no, I mean maybe, I suppose it could be.

The message of the gospel is in no way irrelevant. A lot of people are still in their sin and still need a Saviour. God still loves them and has a way for them. Christ still came to seek and save the lost so yes the gospel is still very relevant. But the question is not “Is the Gospel Irrelevant?” the question is “are we irrelevant?” Yes the first sentence said the church and now I say we but they are the same thing after all you and I are the church.

Let me break it down this way. If I were to go into a foreign land to be a missionary and brought all my western ideals, clothes, food, and music then I would be irrelevant to that culture. Relevant is defined as “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.” So if I do not take the time to learn about those I am going to minister to then I am irrelevant pretty simple huh.

The same goes with those around us. If we do not take the time to learn about them, their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, the sports teams they like, the movies they enjoy or anything else then I am irrelevant to them. I have nothing in common with them as far as they are concerned and I am not connected to the matter at hand.

Don’t get me wrong we should not be part of the world but nonetheless it is those in the world we are to minister to. When Jesus came to minister He became a man. He got hungry, tired, maybe even had a pimple (I am not being funny for humor sake) but He actually experienced life like you and I have but never sinned.

Paul says that he has become all things to all men so that some might be saved. That does not mean he took part in their sin but there is so much more to life than sin. There is music, and movies, and food, and mountain climbing, and rooting for the Cowboys. There are things that we can find commonality on. Paul used their own poets to prove points.

Jesus says in John 17:18 that we are being sent into the world. Once we we accept Christ we belong to a new world (the kingdom of God) and then Jesus sends us back into the world we came from to be His ambassadors. Read Romans 12:2 and John 17 to get the full picture.

So to answer the question of are we irrelevant I would have to say I don’t know are you?

Just a thought,


A Little Twisted (Caramel Onions)

So it is a little twisted but I have a great game to play with a group of people (I am sure the youth are willing). I call it bad apple trivia.

The rules are simple 6 Caramel Apples & 6 Caramel Onions. You get 5 questions and for everyone you get right an onion is removed. For everyone you get wrong an apple is removed. Once the 5 questions are completed the remaining Caramel “items” are placed on a spinning tray and spun and you choose. The game has begun and is over when you eat.

Twisted yes, however immensely enjoyable for those watching.

Why do I bring up this twisted little game? Simple because everyday in life we are presented with options and choices. It also does not matter how many times you get the answer right there is always the possibility of there being a negative outcome. We can make every right decision and and ever correct choice but it still happens. You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it but it happened.

We live in a fallen world and because of that sometimes you get handed a bad apple (or a good onion). That does not mean God has forgotten you, or He is punishing you. It just means it happened. We have to move forward we have to look to God and remember that He is our rock and strong tower. We can and should pray for things to be different but if it does not happen we have to move forward into what God has for us.

Six years ago this week was the last time I saw my grandfather and it still stings a little that I was not around more, but I have to remember to look to the memories we had not the nasty onion taste in my mouth about the absence.

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Just a thought,


I am patient, and other lies.

I am a byproduct of the microwave, drive through, TV dinner generation.  We are not generally defined as patient, and while I am not sure that is true it is a stereotype for a reason.  The interesting thing is my wife and I are not both members of this generation because this generation is not characterized (like most) by age but rearing.

Growing up my family used drive thrus, microwaves, and TV dinners often while my wife was raised making most things from scratch.  Add in the fact that my personality is one of go go go on top of it and I expect things done quickly and correctly.  Alas God and I are often on very different time tables.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about God being Omnipresent (check it out) and this applies at all times not just when when I want to talk about theology and Him orchestrating the coming of His Son.  Even on a Wednesday afternoon God is Omnipresent.  The general idea is that He is always current and present.  But what does that have to do with me being impatient?  Good question.

There are 16 references to waiting on the Lord in the Psalms and most of them very similar almost like the Psalmist used cut and paste just saying “I wait on the Lord.”  My least favorite is Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul silently waits for God.”  Uck I mean maybe I could wait but silently come on.

The fact remains that even when it is quite God can and is still working.  I need to learn to take some time to rest in Him and not try (like I could) to rush His process even when I am waiting on Him for things for Him (more on that in a minute).  I have to be able to wait on God when I do not know what to do and when I do know.  Both cases require waiting just in different ways.

When I do not know what to do I have to wait for direction and that is hard.  It is hard to just sit and be still.  To just wait on Him to speak, to just spend time with Him even if He does not say something.  Harder still is waiting when I know what to do and it is for Him (or by Him).

My wife and I are currently trying to take a chance believing that it is a leading from God.  We are as sure as we can be that He is saying to do this thing so we are trying.  The problem is I have microwave patience and God (as well as others) do not.  So instead of making a mistake and getting into trouble I need to wait on Him to act.  That is hard and I do not like being there, but it is the right place to be.

Closing thought – Psalm 40:1&3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined me, and heard my cry…He has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear and I will trust in the LORD.

This new thing we are trying is so scary that I know there will be pushback from people because it will disrupt their comfort zones.  I need to remember to be patient with them, and trust in Him.

Just a thought,


That Blows my mind

So I have never technically been late to pick my daughter up from the bus but there have been times when it was pretty close.  I mean look down and go OH CRAP!  I have been late for work once or twice but not often.  I usually miss the right time to say something nice to someone.  I also have a slight tendency to dominate a conversation.  That last one has nothing to do with this article but I thought it best to admit that.

I have these issues and others because I am a little self centered, and a whole lot human.  God however does not have these issues.  He has this amazing ability to be right on time and right on track all the time.  I want to drop three basic theology words on you.

  • Omnipresent
  • Omniscient
  • Omnipotent

Let’s break these words down.  Omni means all.  Present means relating to now or current.  Scient refers to knowing (think science), or aware.  Potent means strength or effective.  When you add it all you get the following statements about God.

  • God is Always Present (or Always Current and that will preach).
  • God is All Knowing (or Always Aware and that will preach).
  • God is All Powerful (or All Effective and that will preach).

I am reading through the Gospel of Matthew right now and I noticed in the first chapter there are 4 fulfilled prophecies regarding the Christ.  It’s like watching a movie huge explosion or when it starts with the main character dying.  You’re like WOW where can it go from here.  That is chapter one in Matthew.  I mean there are like 300-400 prophecies pertaining to Jesus and you get 4 in chapter one of Matthew.  Then there are another 4 in chapter two.  It’s like woe hold on let me get back in my seat first please.

God can do that because He knows everything, is everywhere, and can do everything.  Try and think about not having time.  Go ahead I’ll wait.  Ok done?  I bet you couldn’t.  I know I can’t.  We were created in time so we have that limit.  Try and remember what it was like to be born.  Go ahead I’ll wait again.  Done?  Did you?  No you couldn’t because you have a limited memory and limited knowledge.  Try and pick up the house.  You can’t do that either.

Now I want you to try and think about this.  God exists outside of time.  To Him there is no yesterday or tomorrow, but instead everything is current.  He sees your birth and death at the same time.  I mean it boggles the mind to try and comprehend but He our yesterday and tomorrow are His now.  WOW!  That blows my mind.  What blows my mind even more is God sees me failing and falling short 10 years from now.  He sees it as if it is happening right now, and yet He loves me the same anyway.  That is just amazing.

Now think about this; If the same God who sees everything, and was able to prove the coming of Christ ahead of time can then make it happen can’t He also take care of you.  One of the most amazing things I read in Scripture is when Jesus talks about the sparrows and hairs on your head in Matthew chapter 10.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

What Jesus is saying here is actually very profound.  He is saying that the all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God knows you personally so don’t worry.  Again I say WOW!  How can I possibly worry about tomorrow when I know that God says it is in His hands.  My fear is just that I will lose the false sense of control and power I think I have.  I think that tomorrow is in my hands but it is not.  I have no more control over tomorrow then I do control over yesterday.  I mean sure there are things I can and need to do but ultimately it is not in my hands.

We have a saying in my family when life gets all jacked up; Who’s hands?  It is about trusting that God is in control and when He is in control we can relax.  Our job is just to walk out His will.

Right now I am struggling with direction (par for the course).  There is something I want to do but see no way to do it.  I am torn as to if it is my will or His.  If it is His I should and will trust that He knows what He is doing.  If it is me then well lets not go there.  So what do I do?  I trust that the one who knows everything, is everywhere, and can do all things loves me and knows my name.  I trust that if I ask Him then He will tell me when the time is right.

Just a thought,


Thy word is a head light unto my tires, and a light unto the road

When you were a kid did your parents ever tell you to go tell someone something?  I have four younger brothers so I was always telling them what mom said.  But I was smart enough to only go as far as what mom said.  I do not think it ever occurred to me to go beyond that and add a little extra (I easily could have though).  I could have added a little something for myself like “mom said clean your room and make Mike a sandwich.” or even just a little more for emphasis like “mom said clean your room or you are grounded.”  That sounds like something my mom would say but I knew that if mom said tell your brother to clean his room then I needed to only tell him to clean his room.

It is the same thing with God.  Sometimes God tells us something very specific and we are only to go as far as what He says, and not a little extra for ourselves or for emphasis.  Sometimes the word is an actual word like “tell Tom I love him” or “tell Gina she is precious to me.” But sometimes (and more often than not) it is a directional word like give the church $10,000 and say nothing of it, or drop off groceries to the neighbor, but it could be a million different things.  Whatever it may be we are to do it faithfully and only to the extent of the direction given.

There is a story in Mark chapter 11 that helps us with this.  It is known as the Triumphal Entry and before Jesus enters He tells two of His disciples to go into town and get a young colt and tells them that if anyone asks just say “The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”  They had direction and words.  What I find interesting and great is that they followed the direction and spoke the words with no more or no less than what was given.  They could have thought that they needed to add a little more to it, maybe a little payment or something to grease the wheels.  But they did not do that.  No instead they did as Jesus said to do.

It echos another story John 2 where Jesus’s mother tells the servants to “do whatever He tells you.”  Again there is this theme building where Jesus gives commands or direction and we are to follow it to the letter.  There is a lot that can and has been said about that right there but I want to just focus on only going as far as the direction.  If God says take 2 steps then take two normal standard steps.  Do not take small or large steps but just take two standard steps.  We can easily want to and think we need to do a little more or add a little something to it when God speaks but His words are true and accurate.  Some of the biggest trouble I have ever gotten myself in is because I have done a little more or a little less than I was directed to.

Psalms 119:105 is a great verses to memorize.  I have it memorized in the King James for some odd reason “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  No we do not walk around with lamps or even flashlights often but most of us drive so we could think of it like this “Thy word is a head light unto my tires, and a light unto the road.”

When you drive your car you only drive as far as the headlights will let you.  Yes they are always present before but you cannot out drive them.  If they stop working you stop driving because you cannot see.  You also drive a little slower in unfamiliar territory because you have to only rely on your lights.  You have not been there so you cannot go too fast.  You need the lights to illuminate the road you do not know.  Even on roads you do know you need the headlights to make sure you are staying in your lane.

That is the Word of God and a word from God.  You should only go as far as directed.  Not faster than needed and not slower than needed just two standard steps.  This is also why daily Bible reading, prayer, and worship is not only healthy but necessary.  It is light shining on our path that we walk every day.

My wife and I are working with a church plant right now and there are so many paths and directions we can take.  So many ideas and thoughts but the ones that are important are the ones God wants us to take.  We need to wait for a word from Him and then take that step just as He directs.  Not a little more and not a little less but just two standard steps.

Just a thought,


The who and how of discipleship.

Who can be a disciple of Jesus?

We have looked at what a disciple was and why we should be calling disciples.  We have seen that the call to disciple is not an option but a mandate, and looked at some examples of what happens when it is not done.  We have I hope scratched the surface of what it means to be a disciple.  We have discussed that we should be raising Gods children so that when they are old they will not depart.  I hope we covered that we should be teaching them to eat solid food and how to walk out their salvation.

Today I want to pick from where we left off with that discussion and see who can be a disciple and how to reach and disciple them.

The who is really an easy question but one I always enjoy answering.  I enjoy answering it because I think the Bible enjoys answering it.  Some verses to name a few Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13, Romans 11:17, John 1:12, John 10:16, and others.  These verses all echo the statement from Jesus in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me all you, who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

If you want to come to Jesus then you come.  If you want forgiveness then you come, if you want to trade your sorrow for His joy then you come, if you want healing then you come.  Come and not only receive Jesus come and be His disciple.

If we look back through Biblical history we see this constant reverberating message from God saying I am calling people who are not a people to be my people.  Look at the longsuffering of God with the Canaanites, the forgiveness He offered to the people of Nineveh.  Matthew starts his Gospel account with a genealogy and he is sure to include Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth all gentiles.  Bathsheba may have been a Hittite but at bare minimum she is known for what?  Cheating on her husband.  God says over and over again, I want you.

If we look at the disciples Jesus called we can see from the start of His ministry on earth that is calling all people unto Himself.  Here is Jesus’s starting lineup.

Peter, fisherman, Andrew fisherman, James the Elder, fisherman, John fisherman, Philip fisherman, Bartholomew (Nathanael) probably had some money and did not work, James the Lesser or Youner, Jude, Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, also known as Jude the troublemaker, Matthew (Levi), he was a publican or tax collector, Simon, the Zealot another troublemaker, Thomas Didymus aka the doubter, Judas Iscariot, the traitor.

Jesus choosing His team chose 5 fisherman, a socs, two troublemakers, a tax collector, a nobody, a doubter, and a traitor.  I think it is safe for us to assume He will take anyone.  On the cross He tells one of the two men that will be with Him in paradise.  So I say again If you want to come to Jesus then you come.

It is not always easy to call disciples.

A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, “I’m not going!” “Why not?” asked his mother. “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.” His mother replied, “I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 47 years old. Two, you’re the pastor!”

There are many different ways to go about fulfilling the Great Commision.  There are different tactics (schools, feeding the poor, clothing, etc) we can take, differing opinions on the best way to fulfil it.  Groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Gospel for Asia, Compassion International, and New Tribes just to name a few all these groups have different focuses and different methods but they all share a similar trait namely seeking, saving, and maturing Christians.

Because it is hard I sometimes wish it was called the minor commission, or the the little job, or even perhaps the if you get around to it commission, but instead God chose to place a major emphasis on us reaching and maturing people.

I often looked at the calling of the disciples as a single event almost like gym class.  Jesus lined up everyone against a wall and said you, you, and you.  However once again the Bible corrects my thinking and I see something different.  When I look at the Biblical narrative I see something unexpected.  I see something challenging.

I see five different types of disciples.  Now at different times in peoples lives they can move from one stage or another and some actually cross over into different groups, but by and large you have five. With there being different groups different tactics need to be used to reach and teach them.

The first is a group I have called the Saved Seekers.  John 1:35-39

I place John and Andrew in this category. These are typically your Christians who are saved and trying to grow.  They are serving, ministering, and always on the hunt to do and learn more.  They typically do not need a lot of guidance, but instead they need opportunity to use their gifts.  They need someone to point them in the right direction someone to hold them accountable, someone to minister to them when they reach out for it, but for the most part they are ready to go batteries included born again men and women of God.  These are those who seek out ways to grow.  They are by far the easiest group of people and often the smallest and rarest to find.  If you do happen to find one it is actually more likely they found you.

The next group I have dubbed Multistage Mullers

Peter is in this group all by his lonesome.  Peter is usually in his own group if you notice.  There is a lot that can be said about Peter, but for this lets just focus on what it took for Peter to become a disciple of Jesus.  If you think Peter was just called and responded correctly then you have not paid attention to Peter’s life.  Peter denied Christ, was rebuked by Jesus, fell asleep in the garden, and got scared and sank.  Peter was not a model of active obedience at first.  To see what it took to call Peter you need to look at John 1:40-42, Matthew 4:18-22 (Mark 1:16-20), and then Luke 5:1-11.  If we read them we see that there was time in between these different events.  Some people take time.  For some you need to really get in there and work them like old clay.  For some reason life has made them a little harder, a little rougher, a little more off. You need to add some water here and there and mix gently.  You need to be easy and rough.  You really have to work at with these people.

It starts in John 1:40-42 where Jesus just introduces Himself.  The next event is Matthew 4:18-22/Mark 1:16-20 where Jesus tells Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him and He will make them fishers of men.  Then we have Luke 5:1-11 which occurs after Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and after Jesus teaches the fisherman to fish and Peter says to Jesus “Depart from me for I am a sinful man O Lord.”  Peter finally got it.  It was a good day.

Sometimes it takes time.  Some people need a lot of coaching and encouragement.  You need to be diligent with these people.  They are not just jump in people, they are watch and see what happens people.  They are not the entrepreneurial type.  No they want to make sure it is the real deal before signing on.  You need to be honest with them, they do not work well with flakey.  But if you look at Peters life after the resurrection there was no doubt he was in.  Peter died upside down on a cross.  That is commitment and an understanding of what it means to follow Christ.

The next group I want to look at is the Willing Waiters.

This is the group I place Philip and Nathanael in. Specifically Philip but Nathanael is always there if Philip is.  I think about the kid in the Incredibles who is always hanging out just waiting for something amazing.  When it happens he is all excited and says “that was totally wicked.”  Now I spend most of my time growing up in New England and I can tell you that few things are totally wicked.  Jesus however is.  Philip hanging out somewhere then Jesus comes along and says follow me, he does, and then tells his friend Nathanael about Jesus.  Willing Waiters are no less devoted, no less connected, no less involved they just don’t jump at everything.  They are careful about where they invest themselves.  But when they’re in they are in.  The most popular account has Philip being crucified upside down and still preaching.  Make no mistake these folks are in to win it.  We must realize that there are countless people sitting around waiting to follow the right thing, and there are countless “groups” and “causes” trying to get these people on board.  We should be looking for these people because they are waiting for us.

The fourth group is called the Desperate Destitutes.

Matthew is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  To call Matthew Jesus looked him in the eyes and said “Follow Me” as told Luke 5:27. Matthew did not need much convincing because he had no preconceived notion of self righteousness.  Matthew knew how bad he was, and he was ripe for the picking.  Matthew to me represents all the hurting people.  All those that feel they need to get cleaned up to get right with God.  Those who are very aware of their faults and failures.  I was a Matthew.  I knew how bad I was.  Not proud of it but not unaware either.  Matthew just needed an invitation.  Some people just need an invitation.  Then when they get it they are sold.  They are dedicated.  Think about Luke 7:47:

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

The thing about Matthews is they need to know they are accepted.  They just need to know they are wanted.  They need to be told and understand that they are part of the whomsoever that Jesus died for.  They need to know that they can come to the cross just as they are.  They then can become some of the most dedicated disciples you have ever seen. They will quickly become Saved Seekers.

I think it important to look at Luke 18:9-14.  Remember that Matthew was a tax collector and tax collectors were hated by everyone.  No one liked them.  I think but cannot prove that Jesus told this parable for Matthew.  To encourage him. Because the Desperate Destitute need a lot of encouraging in the beginning.  You know what else I notice?  That Matthew the author of a Gospel account does give us a retelling of this parable.  That tells me he got it.  I would imagine that when Jesus told this He looked right at Matthew and Matthew knew he was ok now.

Lastly I want to look at Apollos or the Faulty Fervent.

These people are a lot like Apollos in Acts 18:24-28 who understand portions of the Scriptures and are very passionate but miss certain aspects of the truth.  These people are on fire for God and ready to run.  The Bible literally uses the word hot (zeo) which is used to describe boiling water.  These people love Jesus with all their heart and will drop the Gospel wherever they are but often times they are missing some important things.  They need some Godly people like Aquila, and Priscilla to explain the way of God more accurately to them.  You have to be very careful with these people to not put their fire out but to have it burning the right fuel.  An important thing to note about some of these people is the thing they are usually missing is a little word called tact.  Now I am not trying to say Apollos was missing that but that is something that is usually missing from these fine folks.  They lack the ability to use tact and rightly divide the Word.

Some think that it might actually have been Apollos who wrote the book of Hebrews.  Now whether or not that is true does not mean as much as the fact that he is thought of as the one who wrote it.  He went from needing to be taught to being one who is assumed wrote an extremely important book.  That should tell you what you need to know about these people.

We can see then that there are many types of people who can be discipled and that they can cross groups but the important thing is that we disciple them.  That we spend time with them teaching them more accurately the things of God.  We do this by spending time with them and inviting them into our lives.

We need to keep something in focus here.  We need to remember that the purpose of this thing called Discipleship has only one purpose.  It is not to grow a church, or to lay some shallow claim that we have built something special.  No the purpose of this thing called discipleship is to see lives changed.  It is to see hearts, lives, and minds changed by the power of Jesus.  If that is not the point, if Jesus is not the point then all we are left with is building filled with empty vessels.  We have to remember why we are doing it because it can be a thankless job.  The cost to call them is high and the cost to be a disciple is high.

In the middle of the 19th century a Welsh missionary was working in India where he came across a village and was able by the grace of God to bring one of these men to Christ.  That however is where the story turns.  The villager was brought before the chief and told to renounce his new found faith.  His response was was “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  They pushed him further and threatened his family his response was “Though no one joins me still I will follow.”  His wife was killed and as they executed him he sang “the cross before me the world behind me.”  It is said that his faith led to the conversion of the chief and other villagers.

I close with this thought.  He was only a disciple for a short time but changed the village and countless others because of his testimony.  What can we do with no such threat hanging over our heads and the freedom to preach His name?

Just a thought,


What is Discipleship and why do I care?

The Gospel of John was written about AD 85, while Luke, Mark, and Matthew were all around 50-75.  That puts the New Testament at somewhere around 1990 years old.  Think about how kids today will not understand what the sound of a modem is.  They do not know the joy and anger that is Space Invaders.  They do not understand why we get nostalgic about seeing a Pac Man tabletop game.  They do not know the tragedy of the Challenger space ship. A large portion do not understand the significance of 9/11.  These are not things they are familiar with.  They can hear about these things, they can see them in their history books, or see them on TV but unless we use something they can relate to they will not know the importance of these things. Not understanding the importance the reference is lost on them.

We can read through certain sections of Scripture and come away with an understanding, but if we read the Scriptures as a whole and look at the context in some of the meanings we can come away with a larger and fuller understanding.

A preacher went to visit an elderly woman from his church who had just had an operation. As he was sitting there talking with her, he noticed a bowl of peanuts on the stand next to the bed. He began to eat them, and soon it was time for him to leave. When he got up he noticed he had eaten all of her peanuts.

“Sister Jones,”he said” I’m sorry I ate all of your peanuts.”

She replied “That’s okay pastor, I already sucked all of the chocolate off of them.”


In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says:

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  

We see then that discipleship is not something that a church, or group should do, but it is a command from Christ Himself to make Disciples.  It is an ordnance from the Messiah to reproduce.  Think back to Adam and Noah (Gen 1:28 & 9:7).  When God does something good he wants it reproduced.  We are to be fruitful and multiply.  We are to make more disciples.  We have this amazing love in us and we should want to share it.  It is my opinion that God takes the command to multiply very seriously.  If we look at the Tower of Babel, and the Apostles in Jerusalem as an example we see that if we do not choose to go out and reproduce then God will push us out.  The same way a baby is comfortable in the womb and then evicted we as Christians can be quite comfortable in our cozy churches and groups but God will push us out of our manufactured and prefab wombs in order to complete the task set before us.

Today I want to just scratch the surface of discipleship.  I want to look at what it meant to be a disciple in antiquity, and see what it can mean in our time.  Moreover and to the point I want us to see the what and why of disciple making.


A disciple is a student.  Specifically in Christian terms a disciple is one who follows and studies Christ, His finished work, and how they are to live out the meaning of that.

The Greek word for Disciple is mathetes, and it simply means learner or student.  Similarly there is a Hebrew word lamad which just again means to learn.  We are called disciples, and those we call are disciples.  We can have disciples of our own but truly they are disciples of Jesus. Those who taught us would would be our teachers but we understand that we are still students of the Teacher.

Firstly, a disciple was called to follow the teacher and make everything second to the teacher.  Jesus talks about this a few times and we struggle with it.  Property is always a good sign of importance.  The second tractates on the Talmud (Bava Metzia) helps us understand this.  It says regarding property that would belong to a teacher

“If his lost object and his father’s lost object [are to be attended to], his lost object takes precedence; his own lost object and his teacher’s lost object, his own takes precedence; his father’s lost object and his teacher’s lost object, his teacher’s takes precedence, because his father brought him into this world, but his teacher, who taught him wisdom, brings him to live [in] the world to come; if his father is a sage, [the object] of his father takes precedence. If his father and his teacher were carrying a burden, he should relieve his teacher, and afterward relieve his father. If his father and his teacher were in prison, he should redeem his teacher and afterward he should redeem his father; if his father was a sage, he should redeem his father and afterward he should redeem his teacher.”

We can see from this that a disciple was to be solely devoted to his teacher.  This is what Jesus is talking about in Luke 14:26.

If anyone comes after me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Jesus was not talking about hate like I hate brussel sprouts or broccoli.  No the hate here is in to be understood in light of the Bava Metzia that those things and people need to be in second place to the Teacher.  It is OK to hate and detest brussel sprouts or broccoli.

A disciple understood they were devoting themselves to a teacher.  The teacher taught them everything.  How to pray, how to search the Scriptures.  Everything.  You wanted to be like your teacher.  This is why the 12 ask Jesus to teach them to pray.  That is why they say like John taught his disciples to pray.  The teacher taught you.

Also a disciple was someone who was typically planning or trying to be a disciple of a teacher.  They would study the Torah and Talmud in hopes of being picked up by a teacher.  They would set their lives up to be noticed by a specific Rabbi.  Rabbis did not typically just call anyone.  They looked for those who had promise to be called and associated with them as the teacher.

The same way now someone goes to school to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Pastor, Nurse, or Businessman.  They were intending to pursue discipleship in order to become a teacher.  But also to say and have the notoriety that they studied under teacher so and so.  It was understood and still is today that if you are going to be a ____ then you need a teacher, and if you are going to have a teacher you should have the best.

If we look through the Old Testament we find many examples of disciples.  Abraham was a disciple of God.  God was teaching Abraham directly as there was no one else around to teach.  Moses was also taught by God.  Notice though that they both then taught someone else.  Abraham taught Isaac, and Moses had Joshua (and all of Israel).  Elijah taught Elisha.  The concept of student and teacher has a long history.  Teachers understood and should understand the awesome responsibility they have to teach.  James (3:1) in the New Testament says:


Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”


The role of disciple is so important that the role of teacher must be carefully taken.  Teachers would have understood in old times that that they were on the line.  This is why the relationship between teacher and student was so important and why teachers were to be held in such high regards by their students. Disciples followed the teacher everywhere and did everything they were asked of.  It was not just a relationship of fellowship but more like dependence.


So what should a modern disciple look like?  If we are to follow Jesus’s teaching and command to make disciples what should that look like?  Are we to have people following us around everywhere?  Are we to have a following that clings to every word we make lives with us?  Is it supposed to be a constant as the connection between a Rabbi and Disciple?  Are we to set-up a bunk in our house?

Modern disciples – What does a modern disciple look like?  What does it mean to be a disciple in the 21st century?  I mean is this a term that is even still relevant in our culture today?  I think it is relevant and I think it is still a command from Jesus.  A modern disciple is not a consumer though.

Alan Hirsch says it like this:

“You can’t make disciples out of consumers. You can’t consume your way into the Kingdom. It doesn’t work like that. Jesus says die…You come to the cross. Now who said you can take that out of the equation and expect the results that Jesus points to later on in the piece. If Jesus says it’s good enough to go through the cross upfront, in the beginning, who are we to make it different.”

It is to be about more.

I think in part we are afraid to take discipleship to seriously because it can be viewed as “culty”.  It has a bad view because of the brainwashing cults out there that are serious about discipleship like the Heaven’s Gate group or the Branch Davidians (aka Wako in Waco).  These people took discipleship really serious but they were also crazy as an old lady with 100 cats.

So lets look at the discipleship you are already doing.  Every parent is already discipling someone these people just happen to be your children.  That is what you are doing when you teach them to cook, clean, read, fold laundry, etc.  You are discipling them.  Hopefully you are also teaching them the ways of God.  You should also be teaching them what it means to be a Christian.  Joe and I went on a hike the other day and he mentioned something very important.  Does it really matter if their room is clean?  No, but the lesson they are learning from a dirty room is what is important.  So as mature adults we understand this and we teach them to clean their room.  We teach them mercy, grace, and judgement.  Because while Christ forgives the cop who pulled you over might not.

We follow what Proverbs 22:6 says:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart.

Well new Christians are children.  They are as 1 Peter 2:2 says newborns.  That means that we should be training them in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart.  We should be not only interested in their eternal salvation and closing the deal, but also in helping them learn what it means to walk this out.  We should be spending time helping them navigate the hard things in life.

I don’t want to touch too much on the how because that is half of next week’s focus.  But it very much ties into what it means to be a modern disciple.  A modern disciple is someone who is studying under a teacher.  Someone who has a person they can call on to help understand how to navigate this new walk.  Someone with whom they meet regularly to talk and learn.  It is just like fellowship but with the purpose of education.

Calling disciples is not an option.  It is not a thing the Church should be doing but the thing the church was tasked with.  It is not the job of the missionary, the pastor, the preacher, the evangelist, or the church staff, but it is to be the work of all Christians to make disciples.

Why Disciple? We are supposed to train followers of Christ to eat solid food, and teach them the ways they should go.  In short we are to teach them how to walk out their faith.

Hebrews 6:1-3 says:

Therefore leaving the discussions of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance, from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptism, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgement.  And this we will do if God permits.

The writer of Hebrews just called out most of the people having nonsense arguments in our churches today.  Everyone wants to hang their hat on an understanding or special understanding on one of the above but the writer says lets move on.  These things are basic and you are sitting around talking about them and not growing.  Are they important?  YES, and again I say yes, but they are to be taught to the children and then built on.  We are not supposed to have to revisit them every day or week.  How many times do I have to teach you that two plus two equals four?  You should know that by now so you can build on that and learn more.

What are the things you should be learning now?  Is it some new secret revelation?  No it is just what to do with that.  It is just how you walk that life of faith out.  The writer is saying; now that you understand these things here is what you do with it.  It is about growth and maturity.  Again just like Proverbs 22:6 applies to your children it applies to Gods children.

We disciple because we love.  Jesus says in John 15:17 “These things I command you; that you love one another.”  And John says in 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  Discipleship making is not just about making new Christians.  It is about maturing the Christians we have.  When someone comes to Christ they are referred to as a babe in Christ because they have been born again.  Like a baby they know nothing, and it is our job as the body to educate them.  To train them up right and when they are old they will not depart. We have a job to do church so lets do it.  There are spiritually hungry Christians out there and so many of them are being fed by false teachers.  The internet has become a breeding ground for bad doctrine.  We have immature Christians feeding immature Christians.  Christians giving advice to just get a divorce because times are hard.  People living their lives based on feelings because no one is holding them accountable and teaching them how to search the Scriptures, or how to pray.  How to hear from God, and what to do when they do.

It is our job to teach, instruct and protect.

I want to share a quote from Rabbi Zalman in talking about a candle:

When you use something physical, it is diminished. The more money you spend, the less you have; the more gasoline you use, the more empty your tank becomes; the more food you eat, the more you need to restock your pantry. But spiritual things increase with use. If I use my wisdom to teach, the student learns, and I come out wiser for it; if I share my love with another, I become more loving, not less. When you give a spiritual gift, the recipient gains, and you lose nothing.

This is the spiritual property that candles share. When you use one candle to light another, the original candle remains bright. Its light is not diminished by being shared; on the contrary, the two candles together enhance each other’s brightness and increase light.

We sometimes worry that we may stretch ourselves too thin. In matters of spirit, this is never the case. The more goodness we spread, the more goodness we have. By making a new friend, you become a better friend to your old friends. By having another child, you open a new corridor of love in your heart that your other children benefit from, too. By teaching more students, you become wiser.


By taking on a disciple you will not diminish the things God has put in you and given to you, you will only add to it.  By taking some time to teach others you gain much more than you would if you had kept it to yourself.  Jesus says in Luke 6:38:

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

We use this verse when talking about money but I think we should also look at it when it comes to teaching and giving of ourselves to others.  The more we give of ourselves to others the more we gain.

If what we want individually to grow closer to God, and receive more of Him then we must disciple.  It is part of the equation for results.

Just a long thought,


What’s the point or SuperDuperGrace

I have decided I am done reading the for and against on the newest fad to creep into the Christian community.  Namely this so called Hypergrace and inclusionary theology.  That is by the way the only time I will use that word (HG) because it is a stupid nonsense word.  We are talking about the grace of God (unmerited favor) here it can not be more than it is.  It is hyper.  Calling it Hypergrace is like calling it superduper.  SuperDuperGrace???

Anyway, here is why I am done.  Arrogance, and uselessness.  That’s right I said it.  I find that many of the authors I have read on the topic have the same issue namely arrogance.  It seems to seep out of everything they say on the topic (online at least where everyone can battle superman).  they have defined the entire thing and God in a nice neat box.  Anything they cannot fit in their box is deemed either an illustration by Paul because only what Paul says counts, or my favorite a lack of revelation from God (can you say gnositism?).  Everything I have read so far just seems to be so mean, and snooty.

But that is not my point.  I am not here to name call.  I will also point out the insanity of saying you have to work to keep your salvation or that God saves you but now you better do right or He’ll kick your butt aka mixed-grace.  Because that is stupid too.

My main concern with this movement is what is it doing to and for those who do not have a relationship with Christ?  I am going to assume that we can all agree that there are those who do have and those who do not have a relationship with Jesus. SO what about them?

Is this message reaching them?  IS it creating a hunger to go and find the drug addict, prostitute, abuse victim, cutter, suicide contemplator, murder, pedophiler, drunkard, or terrorist?  IS it creating a deep longing to go feed the homeless, visit those in prison, minister to the abuse victim, or visit terminally ill patients?

If the answer is no then what are you doing?  If all it is causing you to do is sit around talking about how good God is then you do not know Him at all.  I searched to try and find some examples of evangelist or examples of outreach activities and I am having a hard time.  That is not to say it is not happening but it does not seem to be a cornerstone of the movement, and for that main reason I could care less about it.

What I hear and what I see are two different things.  I hear about how God loves everyone and God saved everyone (but he didn’t at the same time I don’t understand that), but what I see is a bunch of people sitting around talking about stuff and leaving a lot of hurting people to suffer alone.  I see a bunch of people turning into communal monks leaving a world in pain to fend for itself all the while yelling from a distance “Jesus Loves you”.  A bunch of people who seem to spend more time defending their beliefs rather than act them out.  In short a bunch of hypocrites, and Jesus said something about that in Matthew 23.

Listen I am not saying that is everyone either, but from my understanding and reading it is a lot about me (general sense of the word) and little else.  God loves you yes, and He created good works for you to walk in.  How about instead of telling me about your faith you show it to me.

Just a thought,


Reconciliation and other fancy words

Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do. – Mark Twain

I like that quote because it reminds me as I study new things to not to use the words to sound fancy.  However these words exist for a reason, and there are places and times for them.  There seems to be a general consensus that we need to dumb down everything in order to be easy on those that do not know.  To which I reply somethings are inherently difficult to comprehend and refusal to express them to appease those that refuse to learn is ludicrous.

Now that I have given a rant on to the topic.

I love the reconciliation.  I love reconciling my checkbook, and most importantly I love being reconciled to God.  I have been reading a book by an author I will not name and I must say that while I have gleaned a few things from it mostly I am frustrated with every word I read and page I turn.  Why am I doing this to myself you ask?  Am I glutton for punishment?  Do I enjoy wanting to throw a book?  No, it is because I want to better understand his (in general the larger movement) point of view.  I find that the most frustrating thing is not the ideals that are being espoused but the manner in which they are communicated. I have also noticed that the manner in which these particular ideas are communicated is indicative of the movement as a whole.  Chiefly it is arrogant, condescending, and overstating of their opponents views.   I will not name the movement because the very nature of how they label themselves is absurd to me, and I will not name the author because it would start an argument I do not wish to have.  I will however talk about reconciliation.

Again this is a bigger word than I typically like to use but it is very important.

The movement I am referring to likes this word and the 5 verses that contain it very much.  I agree, however as Inigo Montoya said “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So what is reconciliation?  Reconciliation is the element of salvation that refers to the results of the atonement.  John calvin describes it as the peace between humanity & God that results from expiation of religious sin.  D.M. Loyd Jones says of reconciliation God & man are no longer at war.  Two great verses on reconciliation are 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (below)

namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

From the verses about I will draw out a few important items.

God has reconciled us to Himself – God is done with the issue on His part.  He was the offended party and has said I forgive you, lets move on.  That is a done deal no questions asked (on my part).  The verses above and others (Rom 5:10-11, Eph 2:14-17, Col 1:19-22) are very clear that God has reconciled the world to Himself and placed all things in Christ.  That is not something I can or wish to argue.  The wall of separation has been removed, and now we can access the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.  No arguments here.

Reconciliation is not relationship – This one is very important as well and cannot be missed.  As we read above, God is reconciled to us but that does not mean we have a relationship with Him.  Some of of the writings I have read will not say this but imply it.  That should not be.  God is no longer counting our sins against us but that does not mean that we have fellowship with Him.  Instead we can have a relationship with Him because He has reconciled the world to Himself.  How about an example.  I have a brother I have never met.  I know he exist, and he knows I exist.  Yet I have never spoken to him, and do not have a relationship with him.  We are reconciled as in there is no hostility there.  If he were to reach out to me (I do not have contact info for him) then I would welcome him with open arms.  One leads to the other but it does not equal the other.  Reconciliation does not equal righteousness (or relationship) as Romans 5:19 points out.

Reconciliation is not sanctification – This is one that gets hot but again they are not synonyms.  They are not the same thing.  Sanctification is both a one time event and an ongoing process.  Quick definition time; Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.  It is being set apart.  We are at the moment of accepting the finished work of Jesus Christ sanctified (set apart, and looked at a holy) in the beloved.  But we must also continue to sanctify our lives as we grow more like our Saviour.  This is what I believe Philippians 2:12 means.  I have seen in my own life how it has become and how I have become different because I have continued to sanctify my life to the Lord.  It has been a process of continual growth and maturity one which I am confident will not stop (Phil 1:6).  Think Romans 12:2.

Reconciliation is not removal of rules – This is the one that might cause the most outrage among my friends.  Some will shout “He’s a legalist!” or “Pharisee!” or possibly (and quite likely) “I am under Grace not Law!”.  Well calm down already, I am not promoting legalism, or some sort of mixed grace message.  What I am saying however is there are certain shoulds and oughts you are supposed to adhere to.  Not for earning or keeping salvation but because you are saved.  For example, love the Lord, love your neighbor.  Thinks these don’t apply?  Jesus disagrees.  He said “If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:16.  What does that mean?  Well He leaves that up to you to for the most part.  But generally speaking don’t be a jerk, help people when you can, treat God with the respect He deserves.  You get the general idea.  Two last points on this one.

First I have been told this analogy a few times.  You do not do things for your spouse (and children) because you have to, you do it because you love them.  I see the logic in that and believed it for a minute or two.  The problem is that it is wrong.  You do things for your spouse (and children) because you love them and are obligated to.  For your spouse, you took a vow to love, honor… sickness, health.. you get the idea.  It is because you love them you keep the vow to love and serve.  Your children come with an implied and legal obligation.  You do it out of love, but you must do it all the same.  It is still something I should and ought to do.

Secondly some claim there is no law that applies to them but yet they confess they still sin (at least on rare occasion).  This I do not understand.  1 John 3:4 defines sin as the breaking of law.  If there is no law there is no sin, therefore you do not sin, therefore cheating on your wife is OK, being a drunk is OK, murder is OK, and so on.  You cannot have one and not the other (as I understand it).  If you sin you break the law, if you break the law there is law.

The question is not is there law, and it is not how do I keep this law, and it is not should I keep this law.  The question is even though I break it what is left for me.  The answer is Jesus.  Jesus came in Grace and Truth.  He is bigger than my ability to fail, and by His working in me I find a removal of desire to sin.  I live by the faith of the Son of God, not I but Christ in me.

Reconciliation is part of the bigger picture.  When I look at a motorcycle, I see many parts working together to create a thing of beauty.  The wheels, the motor, the handlebars, and so forth.  They all work together to make it a motorcycle.  Reconciliation is part of a bigger picture called Salvation.  Lets not put God in a little box and say this is who God is instead lets unwrap His presents and enjoy each of them.

Just a thought,