Posts Tagged With: discipleship

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.

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

Secret Is not Safe

There is a scene in the early part of the first Lord of the Rings movie where Gandalf is cautioning Frodo regarding the ring that Bilbo has left to him.  Gandalf suspects that this ring is the “One Ring” that belonged to Sauron and therefore holds great danger to him.  He tells him to “keep it secret; keep it safe.”  This sounds like totally prudent advice.  For a time, the “keep it secret; keep it safe” plan might work, but eventually the ring has to be destroyed in order to break its evil power once and for all.

I know that many have used the symbolism of the Lord of the Rings to make spiritual points before.  I have no doubt that someone else has already drawn out the same conclusion I am going to make here.  The way that Gandalf initially tries to handle the ring is very similar to how most of us seek to handle sin in our lives.  We would prefer to keep it secret and hope that this will somehow keep us safe.  Secret sin however is far from safe, it is a time-bomb that is waiting to go off and destroy the one who holds it quietly in hiding.

The news came down Sunday that a fellow blogger and one who interacts frequently over at another blog I read at was caught in sin.  That which was thought to be secret and hidden had come out of the dark and into the light.  In one sense, this is not a new story.  It is a sad truth that has been repeated and will be seen again.  We cannot hide sin.  Trying to keep it secret will consume us and will leave us far from safe.  At times like this, my mind often recalls a song from one of my favorite artists.  A stark reminder that none of us are immune from the potential catastrophe of sin.

Do not seek to keep sin hidden thinking that it will be safe as long as it is unseen.  Jesus cautioned His disciples that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.  Just as Frodo had to take the ring out of hiding so that it could be destroyed, we too must bring sin into the light for its power to be broken.  This is God’s promise.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:9-10

From what I have gathered thus far, the person mentioned above is now beginning the road to restoration that follows confession, but real consequences still remain.  They always do when we don’t destroy what was secret in the hopes that it will be safer that way.  Please pray for this man and for those affected.

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, devotional, Discipleship, Grace, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Problem of All or Nothing

God is holy and perfect and commands us to be “perfect as He is perfect.”  Perfection: it is a standard that we all know we cannot keep.  Those who spend a great deal of time thinking about it are in real danger of driving themselves crazy.  It is this insistence of perfections that drives the “wretched urgency” that Michael Spencer, AKA the Internet Monk, used to opine about back in the day.

But we humans have a hard time with not taking this the other direction entirely.  Since we know we can’t be perfect, we have developed whole theological systems that essentially say, “why bother.”  Jesus paid it all, you can do nothing; so just fall on Him and do nothing.  What’s wrong with this?  You are saved by grace and that not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).  Right?!?  So just sit back and relax and quit.  Be still and know that I am God, if you will.

It is the problem of all or nothing.  If all isn’t enough, then why bother.  If nothing will get me there, then why not.

I saw an interesting quote from Dallas Willard posted by a friend of mine.

“In most churches we’re not only saved by grace, we’re paralyzed by it. We’re afraid to do anything that might be a “work.” The funny thing is we will preach to people for an hour that they can’t do anything to be saved, and then sing to them for a half an hour trying to get them to do something. This is confusing. People need to see that action is a receptacle for grace, not a substitute for it. Grace is God acting in our lives to do things we can’t do on our own. Grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning.” -Dallas Willard

This is the problem of all or nothing boiled down into a couple of sentences.  That same Bible that tells you that there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, still calls you to a life of service and obedience once you have been saved.  Keep reading from that quote I earlier pulled from Ephesians:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  – Ephesians 2:8-10

The problem is that if you don’t take all of Scripture to place a single verse in good context, you may find that nothing you say makes good sense.

We don’t handle this dilemma well.  Might I suggest a solution with a little humor in it.

“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” – G.K. Chesterton

Stop making it all or nothing.  God takes care of it all, but not so that you can do nothing until eternity.  Rest period doesn’t start until then.  In the meantime, do all that you can, badly if you must.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Fun, Grace, Humor, Love, Salvation, theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Radical Together by David Platt – A Review

I received my copy of Radical Together yesterday, and I am already finished reading it.  This was a book that was hard to put down.  It is challenging and engaging at the same time.  I confess that I haven’t yet read David’s first book, Radical, but I plan to do so in the near future thanks to this book.

I am encouraged to see that so many are choosing to engage in a life of faith that goes beyond the culture we are accustomed to here in the western world.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a call to comfort or ease or wealth or prosperity; it is a call to sacrifice, suffering and possible loss in the midst of joy in the journey.  David captures the mind and the spirit and is careful to point his readers back to Scripture itself; directing his readers to see for themselves the basis for his assertions.

This isn’t a comfortable book.  If you elect to read this, prepare to be challenged and possibly changed.  Your view of God and His work and plan in the world may get turned upside down.  This book will challenge you to look beyond the good things to grasp the great things of God, as David uses a technique from our Master’s toolkit and works with phrases that seem almost contradictory at first glance but prove to be true in practical terms.

You can get a taste of this by checking out the first chapter online, in which David asserts that “one of the worst enemies of Christians is good things in the church.”  The other chapter statements offer similarly “backwards” concepts that have to be chewed on which you can see on the title page at the link above, but I have to say something about the final chapter.

The statement for the final chapter is, “we are selfless followers of a self-centered God.”  This one stood out to me the moment I hit the table of contents, but I resisted the urge to read the last chapter first and I recommend you do as well.  I won’t give it all away here, but it has to do with the fact that God doesn’t need you or I to accomplish His plan, yet He includes us in His plan because He loves us.

This isn’t an exercise in theory either.  David and his congregation are living the same journey he is inviting others to discover.  I highly encourage you to read Radical Together, it is a fantastic view of the work of God in His people.

One final thing, in order to be faithfully transparent, I must also mention that  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

If you have found this review helpful, visit WaterBrook Multnomah and rank my review at their site. Thanks.
http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/reviews/ranking/5256

Categories: Book Reviews, Christianity, church, Culture, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Giving, Gospel, Grace, Growth, Kingdom, Love, Messiah, ministry, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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