Category: Discipleship


Too often we get so wrapped up in our own importance we forget that we are not the solution. My knowledge, my strength, my culture, or my will power is not enough for myself let alone anyone else. “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 2:16-17) Christ lived among the sick, he walked beside them, reaching out to them at their level. We can learn a lot from his approach and how he loved his neighbors.

Too often we in the church think we are the solution and forget that Christ is the solution. He is the reason why we do the things we do. We serve not because it earns merit or favor but because he served us first when we didn’t deserve it, when we were sick. We serve not to be cured but because we are cured. God has been reminding me of this over and over again the last few months, from the video above, a buddies sermon, friends, my kids, and through the people I have the privilege of serving at work. Christ came, died, was resurrected, and will return, not for the righteous but for those who are sick. Stop trying to be the cure and start offering the one true cure.

around the hospital Nov 3

Will you offer the one real cure to those around you who are sick?

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It has been a while since my last post but I have not forgotten about it. Life has been far more busy lately and to be honest I have felt little desire to write. Sad day, thankful that desire is starting to return.

Working in the social service field is rewarding, you see lives changed because someone reached out. It is easy to become comfortable in thinking that one is on the right track because we are helping people. Feeding the poor, helping the widows, befriending the friendless. WWJD right?

It is easy to mix ones views of social justice with ones views of soteriology. Social justice is important however it is not what saves. As disciples we are called to follow and imitate Christ which is where social justice comes in, however, the work of Christ that saves us involves him dying for our sins and that is not something we can replicate but only lead people to. The delicate balance is that we are called to do both together. We cannot forget those who are suffering even if they do not accept the work Jesus did for all, just as we cannot forget that we are called to preach the Gospel.

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Sound doctrine is not enough, because, according to scripture, the fundamental qualification for pastoral ministry is godly character. Neither skill, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, nor reputation, nor personality, nor apparent fruitfulness of public ministry will suffice. Scan 1 timothy 3 and Titus 1, and you will encounter a profile of personal piety.
~ CJ Mahaney, preaching the cross, pg. 121
 

AND: DOCTRINE AND LIFE – article from The Resurgence

We must not lean on doctrine to reach the lost or solely lean on being an example. It is a balance of both and both are needed. “In our zeal for sound doctrine, we must not become heady and abstract”(AND: DOCTRINE AND LIFE, PART 2). Paul tells us “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4.16)

Erwin McManus is a name I recognize as an influential speaker in the Evangelical church, however until this last week I have not really read or heard any of his work. It started with the sermon he gave at Centre Street Church (watch here) and then I watched his documentary Crave Calgary. After listening and watching I was left with a few questions and a little disappointed. I don’t want to assume that what I heard and saw was intentionally selling the Gospel short nor do I believe that McManus intended for it to be sold short. Too often today we take sound bits of people out of context and say they believe something that they don’t actually believe. I would love to sit down with a venti 1/2 sweet stirred white mocha, ask him to clear up some points and thank him for others.

Where is scripture? At some point you must cross over into Christian language. Scripture is the Word of God and as a believer or someone looking into why not go to the source instead of someone else’s paraphrase of scripture.  Present a scripture without the reference you would be amazed at how people agree with it even if they are resistant or hostile to anything God related.

The video does not seem to offer answers to the misconceptions and ideas that go against scripture. I will give it the assumption that the documentary has been designed to open the discussion however the website questions don’t go much deeper. In the book’s introduction he says “Jesus once said the kingdom of God is within us. Yet most of us even bother to explore the possibility that this might be true. It seems that what he is implying that it is that we have a better chance finding God in the universe within us than the one that surrounds us.” He was referencing Luke 17.21 which feels horribly out of context and the reference is not given. Matthew Henry describes “that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom,and not temporal and external”(1) . The Reformation Study Bible also points to this idea saying “the kingdom of God is within you. That is, the kingdom is present as an inner reality, something hidden in people’s hearts (cf. Rom. 14:17). Translating “in your midst” (text note) would point to the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus” (2). McManus’ line of thinking seems to open a door to thinking that I have the power with in me to overcome my issues. How would he defend from this?

~
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “ Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [Or within you].”
~
The documentary is also very me-centered instead of Christ-centered. The views shown are grounded in what the culture is seeking around us and even though it points towards God it falls short in delivering the Gospel truth that it is more about God’s glory than us. It leaves the Gospel on the ground and runs the risk of being idolatry as “it is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself” (3). This seems to undermine who God is and merely looks toward what he can offer me. This is the negative side of the seeker sensitive movement. Again I would like to ask about when do you go deeper than what God can offer? Is that even a good place to start since that encourages the consumer mentality we already have?

With the concerns explained I would move on to something I truly appreciate and think too often we get caught up in. The video can be viewed for  free online with the option to buy physical copies of the documentary (the books and study must be purchased as well). Gospel for Asia does the same thing but with all their material including books. That is something that I have come to have great respect for. If you claim to have insight about God it is because he revealed it to you and is for everyone not just for you to make money off of. I think this falls into the category of failing to love your brother (1 John 4.20) or as Paul says “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel…I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9.18 &23). Videos today tend to be primers or marketing tools for something else like a book or a study. However they also open doors to reach out to people who typically would not have the desire to engage in these types of conversations. I am thankful that there are people like McManus willing to push our typical ideas of church and culture to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Finally I would follow-up on the first question. He may not go as deep into the scripture as I feel is appropriate, but something that McManus does do is open dialogue about the idea that we need to learn to connect the language within the church with the language of the culture around us. He affirms the need for special language in his April 29, 2012 sermon at Centre Street Church but says we need to do a better job being able to bridge the language of everyday and with in the church. This is something so simple yet we fail so badly at it. Fields of science have their own terms, Religions have their own terms, kids have their own terms. When someone enters one of these new areas they need to learn all the special terms. Acronyms must be explained, concepts broken down into their simplest form. When we do this we become less accurate with their meaning however over time the knowledge to understand them more accurately grows. With that I would finish my white mocha, thank him for taking the time to have coffee with me, and go our separate ways.

In all reality if I had a chance to have this conversation I probably wouldn’t be able to ask any of these things and more likely would just sit and listen.

Footnotes

1) Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Lk 17:20). Peabody: Hendrickson.

2) Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version. Includes index. (Lk 17:21). Nashville: T. Nelson.

3) Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, page40

4) Picture of DA Carson quote from The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The reality is that our sin puts danger before us, no matter where we land philosophically or methodologically. No one is immune from going down a slippery slope. But we should not discount truth because of the existence of abused. If such a leap is warranted, we might as well join Ghandi in rejecting Christian truth because of the hypocrisy of Christians.

Matt Chandler – The Explicit Gospel page 201

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.

2 Timothy 2:14-17 ESV

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Best thing to do on a plus 30 something day!

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Swan River museum

As I started out on this discipleship journey of posts I thought it would be quick. God had a different idea and led me down a path that took a little more time. I have had the chance to listen to several great podcasts, read a couple of books on discipleship, and spent time with seasoned friends learning more about the importance of being a disciple. Several of my posts over the last few months touched on this topic, but this post is a continuation of True Discipleship – Part 1 .

How do we get from a church full of infants to having a church filled with people digging deep into the Word and discovering who Christ is and who they are? How do we become true disciples, someone becoming more like Christ? What does true discipleship even look like?

Three Options for Discipleship

In Larry Olson’s book Sticky Church he states that there are 3 kinds of discipleship models. There is a mentoring model, an education model, and an apprenticeship model. Mentoring is one on one and relational. It is best over time and is not effective in a fast paced changing environment. Education is long-term and requires a large commitment. It works best with linear goal-orientated personalities and is highly structured. Apprenticeship lets people do a task and be the leader is there to help them pick up the pieces. The nature and dynamics of life demands that we really need to use a combination of the three as they all have strong advantages but fall short in other areas. For example, I love going to school and loved learning about the history, traditions, and methods of the church. Yet when I started applying the things I learned they always needed tweaking to fit the ministry of where I was at. At this point the apprenticeship model kicked in and a seasoned leader was able to help guide me through the issues in a way that stayed true to biblical principles and was able to respond to the human factor of the situation. The mentoring model is also part of my life and it keeps me in check with my motives and my own issues. These three discipleship models when in sync with each other can propel us to grow deep and stretch us in growing wide.

Building a Church Culture of Discipleship

Discipleship requires commitment from both the disciple and from the mentor. This means we must be intentional and open about how we disciple. The C&MA has put together a few examples of different discipleship plans by its member churches called Discipleship Pathways. If we want to get out of the pastor-do culture that is prevalent in the North American church today we must present and implement an alternative culture. A culture that raises Christian adults, mature followers of Christ, true disciples. As Paul says in Hebrews 5.14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” If we desire to grow deep we must allow ourselves to be held accountable and learn the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

Held Accountable

My wife and I love giving our kids gifts, but we also love watching them grow as they become caring, compassionate, and God centered. This is not developed by simple showering them with gifts, but also, when needed, to give correction and discipline. Too often in the church today we resist giving and receiving discipline. The Father loves giving good gifts (Matthew 7), but He also disciplines out of love so that we can grow and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12). In a blog post by Jared Wilson, he says “In discipling relationships, we are always disciplining one another, not chiefly or only in the fight against sin but largely in our encouragement of each other, edifying one another, teaching one another, and sharing one another’s burdens. In short, disciples know each other. And so Matthew 18:15 might be happening all the time, perhaps weekly within loving relationships where there is no imminent danger of somebody being kicked out of the church but rather a constant iron sharpening of iron” (5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird). To be discipled we must allow others to call us on our sin so we are held accountable for what we do, otherwise we will stay as infants and our paths will remain crooked and broken.

Why?

Discipleship gives us the tools and skills to take the Gospel out into the world. As we go we will be able to share His great name. Faith in Christ is not meant to be kept to ourselves, but shared with fellow believers and shared with non-believers as a testimony of God’s glory. Why do we attend church? Why do we go to small groups? Why do we serve the poor? Evangelism and discipleship are not the same thing however they do work intertwined with each other. “If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.” (Chip Ingram- High Impact Church Law 8).

Are you being discipled?

Here are a few resources I found:

 How to Build a High Impact Church – Chip Ingram

 & the post 5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird

 C&MA Discipleship Pathways & Southview Alliance’s Aspen Strategy

If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.

Chip Ingram – Law 8 – The Law of Focus

 

Download the series for free from Walk Through The Bible

 

Inside & Outside

Artist: Perugino
Year: c. 1481-1482
Type: Fresco
Dimensions: 330 cm × 550 cm (130 in × 220 in)
Location: Sistine Chapel, Rome

The Law of Liberation – Growing churches train their members to discover and deploy their spiritual gifts and passions both within and outside the church.

Chip Ingram – Law 4 in How To Grow A High Impact Church

In my attempt to write part 2 of my True Discipleship post I have started to come across some pretty great articles, books, & podcasts about what discipleship is and is not. One being the How To Grow A High Impact Church series by Chip Ingram.  We have been liberated from sins grasp so that we can fulfill our purpose to glorify God (Isaiah 60.21, Romans 11.36). “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10.31). The role of the church is not to do the work, but to empower and release the workers within and outside, as they are driven by the grace that Christ has shown them.

Stay tuned part 2 will be posted soon.

What does Jesus say? Make disciples not make decisions. Disciples, what you can say is, here is a follower his life used to like this and this is what it is like now, his marriage used to be like this and this is what it is like now. Well how does that happen? You need to know your purpose is to make disciples. You need to have a plan of evangelism. Lost people come to Christ. Then a plan of discipleship, you assimilate that person now that they are a believer and are baptized not just with water but into the life of the body of the church where they are loved and cared for. And then we teach them all that he has taught us so that their lifestyle actually demonstrates the life of Christ.

Chip Ingram from How to Build a High Impact Church Session 1

Free download on the High Impact Network site

Check out his podcasts

The gospel is so much more than something that saves us from God’s judgement. Christ’s death pays the penalty for our sin, justifying us before God but it is also the starting point for our journey towards being fully restored to what was lost at the fall. Once saved do we continue on the same path? By no means, we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9.23). That is what it means to be a disciple.

Here is an article I came across on the Gospel Coalition blog that introduces the idea well:

Breadth from Depth

By Kevin DeYoung

William Still was a gifted pastor in the United Kingdom. He has impacted the lives of great preachers in our day like Sinclair Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, and Phil Ryken. This is a quote from his book The Work of the Pastor. In our churches we need to labor for both breadth and depth. But as he asserts, the breadth, often and necessarily flows from the depth:

Some of the hardest nuts to crack in the Christian world are those who have been so busy evangelizing that they have never allowed the Word to be turned upon them, and who therefore regard the Bible as a mere book of Gospel texts to hurl at others, or at least to bait them with. The sad decline in the quality of Christian life and witness in our country (United Kingdom) is largely due to the fact that the evangelical church has for several generations been a huge nursery, not only of infant babes but, much worse, grown-up babes…If our use and direction of the power and gifts of the Spirit tend in practice towards a short-sighted tactic rather than to long-term strategy, then we shall precipitate a problem that we may not have the means to solve. As a result the whole school of Christ will become one vast kindergarten, overflowing the classrooms. Nor will there be any teachers for them, because all the should-be teachers are out driving more and more infants to school. And when the teacher is away, the children play! Here then we have a school overrun, almost infested with infants, and all the monitors, guardians and teachers are out looking for more!…It is doubtless, a fine thing to be evangelistic: who is not, who deals faithfully with the Word? But it is one thing to gain converts, another to produce evangelists, missionaries, ministers—not to speak of powerful witnesses for Christ in innumerable lay fields. The church’s task is not only to gain converts, but so to build them up that they are ‘thrustable out.’

Conversion is only the start of being recreated for what we were meant to be. I am looking forward to reading the book The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler when it comes out, as it seems like it will revolve around this idea. Check out the 2 minute video below:

Read This Is Discipleship… – True Dischiplehsip Part 2

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