Review – The Four Responsibilities of a Disciple

Life is a funny thing sometimes.  As I have journeyed down the path of discipleship, I have found many things along the way that helped my journey: people, books, audio messages and video messages and music that have inspired me at various times.  In the last couple of years, I have gotten to know a brother in the Lord who sprang from the same hometown as I did; but whom I didn’t know in person at that time, even though I knew his siblings (and even graduated with one of them).  I first started reading Darren’s work on his blog, Digging with Darren, which you will notice is linked in the sidebar here.  Over the last couple of years, we have exchanged the occasional message on Facebook or in the comments at either his blog or mine; but that was the extent of the interaction, until I noticed his posts and musings on discipleship.

Discipleship has been a strong point of emphasis for me as a believer for a long time.  I have long held that one of the reasons that our churches struggle as they do is because of a lack of intentional discipleship on our part.  We have done an excellent job of trying to get as many converts as we possibly can, but we have little idea what to do beyond that other than to tell people to “come to church” and participate in whatever their church has on offer.  This is why I was intrigued and excited to read some of Darren’s ideas regarding discipleship and I am glad to see them placed into written form that can be shared with others.  The Four Responsibilities of a Disciple is a work worth checking out if you are interested in discipleship and how to make disciples.

Darren has done a wonderful job of taking some of the more recent works about how we make disciples and blended these ideas with the “ancient paths” of discipleship that have in many cases been lost or ignored.  Essentially, this booklet has been structured around a simple process of forming disciples in four areas: Dedication, Memorization, Imitation, and Replication.  I will not expound on them here as the booklet does a good job highlighting what is needed in each of these areas.  Let me simply say that this booklet is a quick and challenging read that will give you a clearer vision and some concrete, practical tools for working to become a disciple of our Master, if you are not one already; or else it will give you a framework for working with others who wish to become disciples as well.  After all, you cannot make disciples for Jesus if you are not a disciple of Jesus yourself.  I highly recommend this work for all who wish to undertake the lifelong journey to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

Disclosure: Please note that I received a copy of this booklet as a thank you for my work in volunteering to help proof the text and format of the book.  I have included a link in the review to the site where the book is available for purchase at Emet HaTorah.

Categories: Book Reviews, Christianity, Discipleship, Messiah, ministry, Yeshua | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello Old Friends

Somehow the lyrics of this song seem appropriate to me.  I don’t really have anything new to say per se.  I found myself here at the blog thanks to a new comment on a three year old post that continues to see traffic even as I have failed to write anything new for over seven months.  I thought that since I was around, I would do a little blogkeeping and an update of sorts.

The past year has been interesting and busy.  Every so often, I have thought about sitting down and writing some more, but I seem to always find other things to do that are more pressing.  There was a time, way back when, that I had hoped to try and do three posts a day here.  I have long since become more realistic, although I might try and be so bold as to post something weekly in the coming year.  I had harbored hopes one day of gathering a host of readers who came to interact and contribute to interesting and funny discussions.  I have instead gotten to the point that I don’t even come by here every day myself.  I don’t check my stats to see how many people have been here.  Perhaps my OneWord for last year has sunk in just a little bit.  I don’t have a word for this year.  Maybe one will hit me, or maybe it won’t.  I am quite content either way and if something changes, you who are faithful readers will be among the first to know.

Since there isn’t much new to say, I suppose I will say saying any more for another post.  Until then, see ya around old friends.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Fallen Brother-in-Arms

Some of you may already know that I write a devotional on weekdays.  I normally leave it to its own blog, but this one is being brought over here with a few additional thoughts and some formatting changes.

I got word Tuesday morning that a dear friend of mine, a fellow brother in Christ and a warrior for the faith had fallen in battle.  No, not on the fields of physical warfare in some foreign land.  This was a spiritual battle that claimed the highest toll.  I spent much of the day alternating between tears and disbelief.  There are all the questions that come in times of grief and loss, especially a loss such as this.  As ministers, we are not immune to the stress of life and the pressures of ministry can often add a dimension that few are aware of unless they experience it firsthand.  Yet, there are still the promises of God and His Word.  I found this promise appropriate to where I am today:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  – Isaiah 25:6-9

Death will be done away with someday.  Jesus Christ has proved that this is true by His own resurrection from the dead.  The tears will be wiped away someday, just not today, at least not yet anyway.  But we wait for Him and the day we can rejoice with no tears to dim the celebration.  Please pray for my fallen brother-in-arms and for his family during this time of sorrow.

That was the basic content of the devotional post I wrote to post on Wednesday morning, but I felt the desire to expand further and so I carry on over here.  As I write this, it has been over 12 hours since I first got word of Bill’s death.  The shock and dismay and hurt and grief have been so raw at times that I have been able to do nothing but weep.  The Scripture about mourning with those who mourn has been in my head most of the day.  Bill was one of the first guys that I really got to know well after we moved to South Dakota almost 9 years ago now.  I spent many hours driving across the state with him and two other pastors just a month or so after we first arrived.  By the time we had spent a couple of days in Sioux Falls together, he felt comfortable letting me drive his Durango most of the way back to Rapid City (either that or it was due to the fact that I was the one who offered to drive through the wee hours of the night rather than sleep another night in the hotel).  It certainly might have been the fact that he needed to give his knees a rest after driving all the way there a couple of days earlier.  Either way, he showed a lot of trust in a 20-something kid he had only known for a couple of days.

I am not sure that I can think of anyone I know who was more giving and selflessly so than Bill.  It was my honor to spend so much time hanging out with one of his sons and mentoring him in youth ministry for a while(at least he says that he learned something from me, sometimes I had to wonder what I had to teach).  It might have been the only thing I could have done that could in any small way repay the ways that Bill had an impact on my life.  He was a big encouragement to me and his church was faithful to support us during our stint in the hills as MSC missionaries.  In my mind, I have replayed some of the many happy memories he has been a part of over these years.  I still remember him coming up to my kids at an annual meeting a couple of years ago and commending them for their good behavior before he handed them each a $2 bill.  His giving heart and kind spirit will be greatly missed on this side of eternity.  His funny impressions and cut-up nature will also be missed.  He touched many, many lives along the way in his ministry and his life.  I cannot adequately express with words all that I want to say.  All I know is that I have all the more reason to look forward to that day that Isaiah spoke of and the apostles affirmed was true because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, when death is swallowed up and the Lord wipes away our tears and takes away our reproach and gives us the full joy of our salvation.

Maranatha!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!


Categories: devotional, Faith, family, friends, ministry, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Not Okay

WARNING: The subject matter of this post may be considered offensive by any and all who read it.  I would be concerned if the subject didn’t bother you quite frankly.  You may not want to read this.  Proceed with full awareness that you have been warned.  Some of the links in the stories referenced and linked from this post may not be safe to click on if you are reading at work .  The subject at hand is porn.  By clicking on the more link to view this post, you are taking this on with full awareness. Continue reading

Categories: Christianity, Culture, Love, Marriage, Parenting, personal, Sex, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shrouded Thinking

I came across this news item last week regarding the Shroud of Turin.  As we were sitting in Sunday School class yesterday with the youth at our church, we talked about it for a few minutes.  Of course, I realized that they had no idea what the Shroud of Turin even is, but that was pretty easy to explain.

The debate is still going as to the authenticity of the Shroud.  I am not firmly in either camp.  If it is genuine, that is certainly interesting and amazing, but it won’t make my faith any more firm than it already is.  I am completely convinced that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the strength of evidence that has nothing to do with the Shroud.  If it is shown to be fake or fabricated long after the fact, it will have no effect on me for the same reason.  But I did see this cockamamie new theory from an academic who is convinced that the Shroud is genuine, but who has taken that conclusion to a bizarre place.

Art historian Thomas de Wesselow is convinced the Shroud is real and did touch Christ’s body.

But the Cambridge academic insists that the image on the cloth fooled the Apostles into believing Christ had come back to life, and the Resurrection was in fact an optical illusion.

Please note that we are talking about an “art historian” so I am left to conclude that his biblical knowledge and scholarship is likely to be lacking.  The idea that the early disciples would be so amazed by an image on a cloth that they would treat it as if the man they had walked with was “living in the image” or whatever he wants to call it, is insulting to the intelligence of first century believers for one thing and insulting to the testimony of Scripture for another.

His theory is based on the worst kind of Bible “scholarship” and I put it in quotes because it isn’t very scholarly at all.  He takes one verse (ONE) as proof for his theory and apparently ignores the rest of the story.  He tries to assert that Paul claimed that the resurrection is “not about flesh and blood” in 1 Corinthians 15(verse 50 according to the article).  I am not sure what translation he is working from but he draws completely the wrong conclusion about what Paul is saying.  At the beginning of that very chapter, Paul asserts that the risen Jesus was seen by Cephas (Peter) and then the rest of the disciples, and then at least 500 others, and then James and the rest of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:4-7).  These appearances are the parading of an image on a sheet.  These are appearances in person and in the flesh.  A different kind of flesh to be sure (he walked into locked and shut rooms), but flesh that ate and could be touched.  Read the Gospel accounts and picture a pair of disciples walking down the road when a giant bedsheet with a picture suddenly appears next to them and starts talking and you will see just how silly and ill read this “art historian” has to be.

Is the Shroud of Turin legitimate?  Maybe.  Is it possible that the disciples and the first century witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were all looking at it and thinking that this was Jesus raised from the dead?  Not a chance.  Just picture one of them trying to give a piece of fish to a cloth and being fooled into thinking the sheet ate it.


Categories: Apologetics, Bible Misunderstandings, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, False Teachers, History, Messiah, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pfunday Pmonday – Volume 3

At some point I suppose I will get back to more serious content on a regular basis.  I have certainly got some ideas for some serious posts in the works.  In the meantime, I still like to unload a few funny bits and pieces along the way.

So I was watching the Masters golf tourney yesterday, and I got a kick out of watching Phil Mickelson play a hole more like me than like a professional enroute to carding a triple bogey 6.  He made up for it by making sure the rest of his round looked nothing like the way I play, except for leaving putts short on a bunch of holes.  I am pretty good at that too.  But that wasn’t the story of the day for me.  I was actually watching from the beginning of CBS’s coverage and got to see Oosthuizen sink his once in a lifetime “albatross” at the second hole (video in the linked story for those who wish to see it or find out what in the world an albatross is in golfing lingo).  I can assure you that it isn’t anything like this.


But for the life of me, I couldn’t get this silly sketch out of my head from the moment he hit the shot until much later in the day.  Of course, here it is again to get stuck in your head.  Enjoy!  Of course, I won’t even comment about Bubba, other than to give him props for winning his first major.  Nothing quite like a guy named Bubba winning the ultimate Southern golfing event to bring a smile to the old face.

In stranger news, I ran across a story last week about a 10 story tree house, and all I could think was, “how cool would it be to live in that.”

Image courtesy of UK Daily Mail

It’s got its own little chapel, so we could even have church in there.  I love it.

And then I have the story that I have to include, not so much because it is funny but because I think it would be cool to see how long I could stand to be in absolute silence.  They say that no one has made it more than 45 minutes.  I think I could do it though.  I do know at least one person who would never make it that long.  My very talkative young daughter.  Silence is not golden for her, it really is unbearable.

Stay tuned.  I am working on a post about a recent story from academia regarding the Shroud of Turin.  It is kind of comical in that I don’t think these guys think through the implications of what they say, but I want to give it more than just an off the cuff laugh treatment.

Have a Pfun Pmonday.  (Brought to you by Price Pfister, the pfabulous pfaucet with the pfunny pname.

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Pfunday Pmonday – Week 2

Well, no one commented on whether they liked or didn’t like the silent P gag, so I am just going to run with it for now.  I figure the fun stuff belongs on Monday as a little extra pick me up for those who start the week off on a hard note for whatever reason.

If you have to laugh, I highly recommend this story out of Canada of a drunk man’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.  I didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was when I read about it.  I won’t embed the video here.  The news story has a charm all its own.  Videos like this should be mandatory viewing to put people off of drinking for good.  One of the reasons I have never consumed alcohol myself is the fine displays of a few of my HS friends who aptly displayed the foolishness that resulted.  But those are stories for another time.

I had so much fun with the baseball stories last week that I saved another one.  My favorite team, the World Champion St Louis Cardinals, had a funny moment on the TV broadcasts during spring training.  A top prospect in the organization was labeled on TV as “Minor League Guy” when he came in to pinch run during a recent game.  You can see a photo of the screen capture by viewing the link.  I am looking forward to seeing how the new team comes together this year.  While I am sad to see Pujols go, I am glad to see Mike Matheny getting his first shot at a managing position.  May the Redbirds have a great year and get 12 in ’12.

In the list of truly laughable, I saw news that the NYC school district has issued a list of “banned words” that could be taken for an April Fool’s joke if it weren’t a little early for such craziness.  We wouldn’t want kids to be offended when they are taking a test after all.

And speaking of things that should be April Fool’s jokes, I saw a story on Fox News about a new push to promote “healthy eating” at church.

“A couple of years ago I came up with the idea that churches were sending people to heaven early because of all the food they served at church functions, like bacon and sausage and ice cream and donuts,” Dr. Amen, who is a Christian and a graduate of Oral Roberts University Medical School told  “I have been going to church since I was a little boy and the food in churches is just outrageous.”

This could turn into a non-funny rant if I am not careful, so I will try and save the rant for another post.  Rather, let me poke fun at this with a little bit of sardonic humor.  If we are sending people to heaven early, that would be a good thing:

A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.  – Ecclesiastes 7:1

To borrow a few words from my favorite singer/songwriter:

Don’t you get sick of health freaks? I always want to say, look Bud, you’re gonna die anyway. You may as well go out eating something that you like. (applause) What is the point of living to be a hundred and fifty if all you get to eat is bean sprouts? (laughter) I’ll never understand people, I’ll tell you…   – Rich Mullins (concert transcript)

Lighten up and live a little.  Let your Pmonday be blessed with Plaughter and Pfun.  And if you didn’t get enough laughs from today’s post, check out the fare from yesterday’s April Fool’s Day fun at SBC Voices.   All posts from April 1 are gag posts, including one contributed by me about the new list of banned words.

And if you need one more, I saw my favorite gag from ThinkGeek last night as well.

Categories: America, baseball, blogging, Canada, Christianity, church, Culture, friends, Fun, Humor, ministry, SBC Blog Madness, Southern Baptist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pfunday Pmonday

I have decided that I am going to go ahead and try the silent P thing and see how it works for me.  Amazingly, I was able to hold a few more stories in reserve to bring out a few more chuckles for the beginning of your week.  I will get to the humor in a minute, but I wanted to thank you all for voting for me this year in the Blog Madness.  I checked the vote tallies earlier this evening with no expectation that I would be close, but you know what; I clearly overestimated my chances.  The winner in my region had more than double my vote total and had nearly double the total of any other region’s leading vote getter as well.  Even if I combined my vote total with the total number of votes of the winner of any of the other three regions, I would still come in second in mine.  Maybe I will get a better draw next year.  In the meantime, I know how several other basketball teams feel after this weekend.

On that note, let’s get in some fun stuff.  I found this story while reading at the end of last week and I can’t stop laughing at the video.  Someone should perhaps clue our esteemed president in on the fact that other nations can see him on TV even when he isn’t meeting with their leaders.  The Danish press certainly got a kick out of the fact that he has lost any pretense of originality in his compliments to other nations.  This video clip is on the site with the story, but I will embed it here as well.  Either way, you simply have to watch this video.  If he keeps this up I may repost my parody song from a year or so ago.

A couple of MLB stories hit the scene last week that made me laugh as well.  First, is a case of mistaken identity.  I suppose it can be confusing when two pro ballplayers have the same name to be sure, but can it be that hard to get the right checks to the right place when they aren’t even in the same organization?  My only real question is if one of those other Jeff Musgrave guys that are out there (one of them is even a pastor) could accidentally send a little extra cash my way.  I would be willing to return it (although a reward would be nice).  Other big league players are costing themselves money all the time in other ways.  Injury-prone Job Chamberlain managed to hurt himself again, this time jumping on a trampoline with his son.  If he has this on video, he could pull the daily double and maybe win of America’s Funniest Home Videos as well as one of those gruesome sports injury highlight shows.

Last but not least for the new Pmonday version of Pfun stuff, I know you probably don’t read all the terms and conditions on every single piece of software and website; but I am also sure you have never bothered to count how many words there are in the crazy things.  Now I am no Shakespeare, and I am certainly no lawyer; but I am not surprised to find out who is the more verbose between the two.  Unfortunately, lawyers use a lot more words to say nothing at all, as proved by some intrepid researchers.  Paypal spends more words than the entirety of Macbeth and iTunes outdoes Hamlet for word count.  There are all kinds of jokes available for this.  But the best one I can think of is my opinion of lawyers and these T and C’s in general.  They are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Categories: America, Culture, Fun, Humor, SBC Blog Madness | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red and Yellow, Black and White

Every so often, a story appears in the news and splashes even larger onto the national scene that cries out about the evils of racism and racial inequality.  The latest instance is the story of Trayvon Martin in Florida.  This is certainly a tragedy as a young man is dead.  But another problem is now growing out of this tragedy.  Scores of people are taking sides and starting a war over the races of those involved.  In an effort to make it a white/black scuffle, I even saw one media story refer to the man who shot Martin as a “white Hispanic.”  Seriously, this kind of thing is not helpful.  As more news trickles out, it becomes less and less believable that this is a blindly racist incident.

Frankly, racist gets tossed around so much in places where it doesn’t even apply that it will become like the boy that cried wolf at some point.  Does it exist? YES!  Is it under every rock and tree and responsible for every bad thing that happens to someone who happens to be in a minority group? NO!

I think we have proved as a human race that skin color is always going to be an issue for some, a source of contention for others and a focus of animosity for still others.  I wish it weren’t so.  In my own personal life, I have friends and loved ones of every skin tone I can think of.  Red and yellow, black and white, doesn’t matter in my sight.  I know that some people hate even using those color designations and I get it, I am more of a peach tone myself, but if you let that become your focus then you are missing the point already.  I know that ignoring skin tone isn’t the case for everyone, but I would hope that it might some day become so.  A friend over at SBC Voices did a piece on audacious prayers today and that would be one of my most audacious prayers of all time.  God please help us to see people for something beyond the tone of their skin.

Categories: America, Culture, Love, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Dose of Friday Fun

It’s that time again.  Maybe I should put these posts up on Mondays instead when people really need a good dose of humor.  The problem is that Monday doesn’t start with an F. Maybe I could it Pmonday Pfunday and utilize the old silent “P” trick.  What do you think?

Anyways, here is our collection for this week.  Starting out with the rather crazy news that file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is going to make their server system less susceptible to attack from authorities by putting the servers on flying drones.  No this isn’t a news story from the Onion.  This is apparently their intended strategy.  Of course, that isn’t the part that really caught my eye.  It was this:

One of the sites administrators, MrSpock, said with the advent of miniature computers such as the Raspberry Pi, a $35 micro computer the size of a thumb drive that includes a WiFi and SD card slot for storage, the site can take its servers far from any law enforcement.

Can you really get such a thing for $35?  Sign me up for a couple.

Next up is the incredibly funny mind of Mark Gungor.  I haven’t caught the show that this rant originally came from, but once again Gungor uses humor to drive home a more serious point.  I included it here, because this is laugh out loud funny.


In other news, I ran across a story that someone has listed a Tie-Fighter on craigslist for a mere $150.  I am so tempted to try and get the thing, but I think I know how it will turn out.  I will have to find working laser cannons for it and upgrade the engine and I will just keep sinking money into it until I can get it to do this.


This is my favorite of them all I think.  I have to laugh at this, because it is what I do.  I still can’t figure out why so many people are hung up on Apple.  They trap you in their little world and don’t allow you to do what they don’t want you to do (if they can help it).  Yet they manage to get people to stand in line for hours to get their latest gadget, just so those same people can basically become glorified beta testers for the some feature they forgot to figure out ahead of time.  It can’t connect to hotspots; so to make up for it, it is a hotspot.  And to add insult to injury, they monkeyed with their “smart covers” too.

Last but not least, after a strong start that saw me jump out to lead my region after day one, I am trailing by a whole lot of votes in the Sweet Sixteen round of SBC Blog Madness.  The leader in my region actually has more votes than the number of total votes that have been cast in one of the other regions, so he apparently has a lot more readers than the rest of us do.  I have almost no chance of advancing at this point, but I would still like to make the best showing that I can.  If you haven’t voted already, please go by and vote for this blog in the Golden Gate Regional.  And have a great weekend.

Categories: America, Culture, Fun, Humor, SBC Blog Madness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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