Monday, March 26, 2012

"Discipling is this..."

                Pastor Rod Murphy spent time with us on Tuesday sharing his experience with discipleship.   Different people have different methods when it comes to the application of discipleship.   However, one thing remains the same…its intent.  You can try every curriculum or method known to man on the topic of discipleship, but if it fails to do what is intended to do then it won’t be effective.  He said “Discipleship is this…helping people get one step closer to God.”

                Bottom line this statement sums up all of what discipleship is meant to accomplish.   I believe strongly in influence.  I believe everyone has the ability to influence others.  The only problem is that influence can be led in two directions.  If you are a follower of Christ, your influence with other people should work to bring them closer to God.  Unfortunately, there are times when this is not the case.  None the less it is our responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ.   
                Jesus’ desire was to live life alongside his disciples.  His mission was to teach them the ways of righteousness.  As a friend, he daily lived out and example of what it meant to love God and to serve Him with everything He had.  He discipled them by helping them gain a better understanding of who God is.  Helping them to get one step closer to God.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview With a Pastor

      Over the the next two weeks I will be interviewing a pastor and one other lay leader within the church to ask them and to gain inOvsight on their experience with disciplining.  It’s a topic that I find essential within the Kingdom of God.  I believe strongly that we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ ourselves, i.e. a follower, an apprentice, a student, etc.  However, according to Matthew 28:18-20, it explains how we are also instructed to make other disciples for Jesus Christ.  Essentially, we are to be disciples who make disciples. Through this first interview you will see how one pastor pursues this calling.
       I chose to interview a close family friend who is currently taking on the incredible task of planting churches within one of the most unchurched parts of the world; Western Europe.  I asked Pastor Nick Klinkenberg four general questions about discipling.  I found that these questions brought about a couple more questions to ask that would take it a bit deeper.  Here is the interview.

1.           What is your process for making disciples?

    “First I make sure to spend time with them and to make sure there is a commitment from them to spend time with me.  Without this connection and devotion we can only go so far.”

   What qualifies someone to be a disciple?

    “There has to be an absolute urgency to learn and follow Jesus Christ.  They must recognize their need and dependence for Him in their life.”

   What does a typical "getting together" look like?

     “Mostly one on one.  Sometimes we’ll get together with others and pray.”

    “I’ve found that it’s important to give them tasks to do before you give them a role; to see if they are sincere and reliable. I'm hearing them pray, speak, get them to read books…etc”

“Most importantly to understand is that it’s not a program; it’s a relational connection that I am leading.  

    How long will you stay with someone if no results are seen?

    At that point I move into the pastoral role.  I'll love them and pastor them.  I'll do what I can for them, but if they aren’t showing signs of effort and commitment, then I have to realize that my time is better used with someone who will put forth the effort"

2.       What is the biggest challenge you face in making disciples?

   People are happy to talk about the word, pray and discuss, but to get them involved with what the church is doing can be a challenge. 

3.       What are some ways you equip people for ministry?

  “I give them books to read, I challenge them to put the Word into action. Give them tasks to do.  Ask them specifically, What are you praying, how are you praying, what are you praying? What are you reading, how much, what are you reading.  Are you journaling? The objective is to build them up by leading them.”   

4.       How do you measure your effectiveness?

   “I ask myself who is on the team? Is this person onboard with the direction of the church and getting involved somehow in the church.”

“I look for who they are regularly connecting with, whether it is people of positive influence in their life or not.”
“I look for their personal growth, to see whether or not they are moving forward with what we've talked about, improving in situations, making an effort to be more like Christ.”

What are the rewards for you?

   “The Bible is made for transformation.  When I see people take the advice and guidance that I’ve learned from the Word and see them using it and putting it into action.  It makes it all worth it.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Portrait of a Disciple (James the Great)

                I had the privilege of knowing Jesus of Nazareth better than most during his time here on earth.  I was able to spend three intimate years alongside this incredible man.  It’s was crazy, he just stopped by one day and said “follow me”.   Why would this man specifically choose me and my brother John to leave everything behind, our job, our future; basically all the security in our lives just to follow him?  There was something so different yet astonishing about him that we didn’t think twice.  So we dropped everything and followed him.   We had no idea what we were about to encounter.

                One time I remember taking a walk with him up the mountainside when all of a sudden he was transformed before our eyes.  What we saw didn’t seem real, but there was no other explanation for it.  His face began to shine like the sun, his clothes became dazzling white and then out of nowhere appeared Moses and Elijah.  They began to talk to Jesus.  Peter, John and myself were terrified.  Could this really be happening?  Before we knew it, a cloud enveloped us and a voice that could only be the voice of Father God himself said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”  Needless to say, after an experience like that; I not only listened to every word he said, but I made every effort to apply what he said to my life.  

                I could no longer retain the zeal that was within me for this man.  He truly was the Son of God.  I witnessed it with me own eyes. Although, at times it may have come across to strong.  Once I may have asked permission from Jesus to send fire upon a Samaritan village.  They treated us terribly and at first I thought they deserved it, looking back I realize they hadn’t met this man Jesus before, they didn’t know the way they were treating others was wrong.  Almost as if they were blind to their actions, having never been shown what is true and noble.

                Why would he choose me to share with and experience the most important part of his life on earth?  Why did this perfection of a man want me, a shameful person by comparison to be one of his closest friends?  At times I must have embarrassed him with my selfishness and lack of compassion for others.  Yet, he never scolded me, never once condemned my actions.  Instead, he lovingly showed me how be a better person.  Looking back, I see now that it was his desire to help change me and teach me how to honor God in everything I do.  I see now that the zeal I once had for him caused damage, yet he helped mold that zeal into a useful tool for his Fathers kingdom.  

                History tends to identify me as “James the Great”.  The truth is I am nobody great.  Make no mistake; it was Jesus who was great.  Therefore, anything attributed as “great” in my name, I owe it all to Jesus.  Without him I was nothing.  It was only until I walked with him, talked with him and learned from him that I was able to be of any value in this world.   It was his friendship and love that transformed me into something to be greatly used for his purposes.

                However, the question still remains within me.  Why?  Why did he choose me?  What did he see in me that was of any use to him?  I don’t believe I’ll ever know for sure, but none-the-less, I considered it an honor and a privilege to live life alongside of the man who came to save the world.  

 - James son of Zebedee

Monday, March 5, 2012

Who Is This Man?

    The other day I watched a video entitled “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey.  The premise was to attempt and identify the personality of Jesus.  It was interesting and comical how the video brought to attention a number of movies with different interpretations of Jesus Christ. 

    What kind of man do you think Jesus was?  How did he carry himself?  What tone did he use in different circumstances? After thinking about it, this is the type of man I think Jesus was as he lived on earth as a human being.
-          One of the Guys. 
        I see him hanging out with his disciples (his closest friends) playing jokes on each other and enjoying the time they spent together acting like men do.

-          A Man of Joy.
        I see him as someone who could laugh and make people feel comfortable. 

-          Firm in What He Knew
        He knew what the truth was.  He was able to speak boldly and persuasively about the kingdom of heaven.

-          A Skilled Worker. 
        A man who knew how to work with tools and had a gift of craftsmanship.

-          An Explorer
        All the traveling he did over his lifetime and the respect he had for his Fathers creation.  How could he not enjoy discovering new places he had never stepped foot on.

-          A Spiritual Doctor
        A doctor specializing in the soul.  Knowing what people needed and how much of it they needed.  He would listen to the symptoms of people and give the remedies to it all.

These are just a few.  What kind of man was he to you?