The Disciple Making Lifestyle

Jesus lived to make disciples.

Matthew 4:19  “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”

Matthew 28:19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

There are a lot of distractions in the world but for the Christ follower that wants to be obedient, the number one focus should be on making disciples, it’s what Jesus spent his time doing everyday. He started his ministry with the call to the first disciples and he ended his ministry by telling his disciples to go make some more disciples.

Jesus told his potential disciples up front what we was going to do with them but I don’t think that they really understood and I am pretty sure that they didn’t realize the process as it was going on. Jesus subtly brought them along one tiny step at a time, just the same as he has done with me, he knew that there would be a process and that I wouldn’t suddenly become a mature, faithful follower right away.

Jesus spent three years in close daily contact with this group of men, showing them the new way of life and the new way of thinking, he did so through his teaching but most important he did it through his lifestyle. Disciples don’t get made by themselves so I need to use my talents and abilities that the Lord has given to me to help encourage and strengthen somebody elses spiritual growth. I need to be intentional and make it a part of my lifestyle, I need to be about building relationships that will give me opportunities to share about my faith.

Help me Lord to step out and intentionally work at making disciples, I want to live so that my walk is consistent with my talk, so that you will get the glory.

Finding, Being Who We Need to Be

For as hard and as frightening as it may be at times for us to remember, there are times when we have to look at life and consider not just who we are but who we are meant to be, who we want to be and need to be, so we can be more and do more. For as challenging and as difficult as it might end up being, there are times when we have to remember that just because something didn’t work out the way that we had wanted it to, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story or the end of a dream, it’s the start of a new chapter and a new beginning for us. Sometimes, it’s a matter of considering where we are and where we need to be, finding the path we need to be on so we can be more and do more with ourselves.

There’s a lesson from our blessed Savior hat I often think of when I think about this. Having told the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant (Luke 12:35-40) Jesus would end the story by saying, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” As Peter would press Him a little further He’d dig a little deeper before finally saying “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)

You see, none of us know when the end is coming, none of us know when our time will come. When Christ speaks here He is talking about the end of days that will be ushered in by His inevitable and triumphant return, a time that will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Yet, the truth is even without looking and waiting for the end, our time our short and precious, measured in minutes and days, weeks and months, years and decades that can be over in the blink of an eye, that can be over before we have even had the chance to really live. Just as none know the day and time of those final moments except God, (Matthew 24:35) so the same can be said of our lives and our time.

This is what makes the gift of life that much more precious, and why our use of our talents and our abilities, given as a gift from God, are that much more important. It’s why Christ Himself uses the language that He uses in telling us that much is demanded from us, that much will be asked from us. It’s so that we can understand that in our lives, we need to make the best use of our time, we need to make the best use of our gifts to be who God intends for us to be, understanding that there are going to be challenges and difficulties, that there are going to be moments when things don’t work out the way we want them to be, but that in all of these things we are meant to be honed and strengthened to do more and be more.

God, in His promises, and Christ, in lesson, do not guarantee that everything is going to work out the way that you hope. Sometimes it works out the exact opposite, giving you something that you hadn’t been expecting. Maybe when it does, it hurts or it creates a sense of hardship within you as you struggle to find the purpose and the meaning of it all. Perhaps it might even leave you wondering why you even bothered trying in the first place, looking around and thinking to yourself it wasn’t supposed to be this way. What God does offer, and what He does tell us is that, with time, He will let it make sense if we have faith, abiding in hope and trust. (James 1:5-6) What He does promise is that He has a plan for us, even when we can’t necessarily see it, so long as we use our gifts and our abilities accordingly to become the people we are intended to be and need to be.

With that He wants us to know that, in life, we are to use our gifts, our talents and our abilities to take chances, and to take risks, to push ourselves past our comfort zone to become more than we are, and show all that we are capable of. Remember the Parable of the Talents, (Matthew 25:14-30) and how the two servants took what the Master gave them, and invested it. Any time we invest, there is a risk that we are going to perhaps lose, there is a risk that what we have put in may not offer a return or, even worse, give nothing back, not even our original investment. Yet it is better than burying our gifts away, hiding them from the world in a sense of fear and doubt, never willing to do anything with them, because we are too scared. Even if everything is ventured and it seems as nothing is gained we are taught something more about who we are and what we are capable of for the future.

Be strong, and challenge yourself to do more and to be more, to seek out who you want to be and need to be, putting fear and doubt behind you. Know that God has given you what you need to become who you should be. Though the road may be long and wrought with challenges you will get there if you put yourself out there, and you give of yourself, showing that you are willing to make the most of the time that our Heavenly Father has given you.

Let your life be that perpetual challenge to use all that you have been given and everything that you are to show that you will face the world head on. When you do, you will see clearer and your fear and inhibition will melt away, leaving nothing but the strength and the hope, the love and the courage of the Lord giving you the ability to move forward in ways you never thought possible before.

Need To Recharge Your Batteries?

God is on your side.

Zephaniah 3:17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Life is tough! Ever feel like God is a million miles away, the world is coming at you from every angle, your family is driving you crazy and your quiet time is so quiet that you can’t even hear God. If you feel like your running on empty then take a look at Zephaniah 3:17.

The child of God should remember that even when it doesn’t feel like it, God is close by, he is living among us. What a joy it is to know that we have a personal God that wants to have interaction with us, he didn’t create us on day six and then leave us alone without relating to us, he is living with us and he cares about our lives.

Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

God cares so much that he sent you a Savior to take care of your sin debt, he cares so much that he delights in you, both of those thoughts are so huge. It makes no sense to us that God would pay our sin debt and even though we rebel so much he still sees something in us that causes him a lot of joy.

Micah 7:18 You will not stay angry with Your people forever, because You delight in showing unfailing love.

God will take care of you, he will calm your fears and he will rejoice in singing over you, what a refreshing thought! May your spirits be lifted as you take pleasure at the thought of your creator being so crazy in love with you.

It’s Not What I Expected


Don’t you hate it when, let’s face it, it seems like you’ve done everything right, everything that should have been expected of you, yet nothing seems to be the way it should be, or it just seems to make things harder than it should be? It’s hard when you find yourself in those times when you think to yourself “It should be like this” or “how did this happen?” when you know it should be something different. After all, you put yourself out there, you took the steps and you did everything you could, you did the most your potential allowed you to do, doing the best you could do and still, it wasn’t enough.

You expect something different, you wanted something different, that there would be at least something given for that faith and that hope that you had. All you end up finding though is that you’re tired and restless, wishing it could have somehow found a way to be what you wanted it to be, knowing that it’s anything but. It just makes you so weary that a part of you is reluctant to try again, to just give it your all again. Why would you? After all, if you did everything that could have been done, why do you just feel like you’ve failed? Why didn’t it work out the way it should have?

The truth is you’re not the first person to feel this way, watching it seem to all be different than the way it should have been. Atop Mount Carmel Elijah did as was expected of him. He stood in the shadow of the prophets of Baal and Judah’s King, Ahab, and he gave testimony to the power and the glory of the living God of Israel. (1 Kings 18:20-39) Yet, as the word reached Jezebel her answer was fierce and merciless, the prophets of her god laid slain, and she demanded blood, sending her messenger to the Elijah that he might know that his life was now held cheap and without value. (1 Kings 19:1 and 2) It would send him into hiding, fleeing into the hills, even as he cried out to the Lord, “Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors”, (1 Kings 19:3-5) a deep sense of failure overtaking him even when he did everything that was asked of him, that was expected of him, knowing it wasn’t as it should have been.

More than likely our own stories, they aren’t as dramatic as the story of Elijah, but they have the same sort of effect on us. We wonder to ourselves what’s the point of trying when trying mean these feelings, when it means these troubles, when it just causes a whole different set of struggles. We ask ourselves what’s the point of putting it all out there if putting it all out there means that we have to face challenges like this, finding that the peace we wanted, it just hasn’t come and our hope is fleeting.

The truth is not everything in life is going to work out the way that we want it to. We can do everything the way it’s supposed to be done and, honestly, the results may surprise us and not in the best ways. It could be that, for as much as we put into it, the only thing that comes out of it is hardship and even some pain. Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the story. God still has a plan for your life. In His glorious hope He still has a grand and a great design for it, (Jeremiah 29:11) even as He makes us more than conquerors in the wondrous grace of our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, letting nothing separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-37)

Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting our preconceived notions behind us, and giving ourselves up to the idea that life isn’t going to be the way that we planned it to be and yet it can be more than we planned. It’s a matter of letting what has happened be just that and looking towards a new day as a new chance to run the race in front of us. (Philippians 3:13-14) Not everything has to be the way we expected it to be, even when we did everything we could to make it that way, for it to teach us something of value, and something of worth. According to God’s timing, the deeper lessons that it has to offer will be revealed to us even if we can’t see what they are at the time. It’s a matter of living your life knowing that there is more to it than any one set of circumstances or any one situation that you may face, and that, though it may not be all you wanted it to be, there is a chance for tomorrow to be different if you never stop believing in the wonders God’s hope and love for you and your life.

Be strong and live in faith, today is but one day in your life and it could just be that it is a lesson there to teach you what you are capable of, and the way you are able to put your own inhibitions and fears aside so you can do more and be more. Find peace in that and peace will come to you even as tomorrow brings the hope of a new opportunity for you in the wonders of God’s design and plan for your life. Let not your heart be troubled, for God is there to lead you, through Christ, in grace, love and mercy, healing the wounds of your past, and giving you the strength to meet your future in all He has equipped you and is equipping you to do.

Romans: Those in the flesh cannot please God

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 Where is your allegiance?  What team are you on?  You might say that you’re on God’s side, but would He say the same?  Are you living as someone who is fully committed to one master?  Or are you, like so many others, fooling yourself by saying you’re following Christ while in reality following every whim of your fleshly desires?

The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard.  It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world.  There are struggles and battles to be faced.  When those times come it’s often the test of where your real allegiances lie.  When you have the choice to be comfortable in your flesh or be uncomfortable for the Lord, which do you choose?  It’s so easy to pick the easy path, thinking that later on we’ll settle some sort of deal with God.  But the reality is that it’s impossible to please Him if we’re living only for ourselves.

Even Jesus was tempted in this regard.  The Word says He was tempted just as we are so He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), but He never gave in.  We’re much weaker than Him, so it’s easier for us to cave.  It’s much harder to choose the ways of God than it is the cushy ways of man.  But in the end it’s always worth it.

If you’re having a hard time in this area, don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own.  It’s not about what you do for God, it’s about giving your life over to Him in submission.  Stop trying to please Him by doing things and give Him what He really wants – you.  Jesus paid the price so that you can have a relationship with the Father.  You just have to trust Him instead of yourself.

Rebel Or Rely

Your wisdom or God’s, the choice is yours.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21,25 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Who in the world wouldn’t want to be wise? I would definitely like to have more wisdom since I have been so unwise at so many different times in my life. We probably all have those kinds of moments in our past and would agree that an extra dose of wisdom would have been helpful.

The wisdom of man is nothing compared to the wisdom of God, take the example that Paul gives us, by man’s wisdom the cross looks like a strange way to save the world. Who would ever think that the maker of heaven and earth would come down to our world in such a lowly, humble way, to be a part of such a plan?

How could intelligent men be so wrong about Jesus that they put him to such a torturous death? The problem is that “There is a path before each person that seems right,” everybody that was a part of the crucifixion story thought that they were doing the right thing. Nobody planned on being that wrong about Jesus, they just didn’t have God’s wisdom. (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)

Psalm 111:10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

This passage of scripture in Psalm 11:10 tells us that if we give honor or reverence to God then we have a good foundation for real, Godly wisdom. It seems to me that if decide to use our own wisdom then we are actually in rebellion against God.

I have a choice: I can rebel or I can rely, I can depend on him for guidance or I can do what I think is good and rebel, I need to constantly be reminded that God’s ways are higher than my ways and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

Romans: Submission to God

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

 When we live for our own desires, we won’t let anything get in the way of what we want when we want it.  That includes God.  It’s impossible to choose worldly pleasure as a way of life and also submit to God.

The truth is, if life is lived for self, then God is an enemy because He calls us to lose ourselves for His sake.  We can’t hold on to everything we desire and still seek to please Him.  Let’s visit that thought again with a new emphasis.  We CAN’T hold onto the selfish desires of our heart and still follow God.  It’s not possible!

Yet, so many people try to do this.  So many Christians who have truly been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ still try to live according to their own wants and perceived needs.  The very thought of putting aside those desires to seek out what God wants is offensive.  Do you see how this makes one hostile toward God?  When you think God is trying to take your stuff away, you fight Him.  That’s not the way of the Christ follower.

Submission to God means seeking first what He wants.  The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.  The things we hold onto are nothing compared to what He has for us if we obey and let Him lead.  If you’re holding on, give this a try:  let go and ask what God wants for you.

Romans: Flesh is Death

Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

To be caught up in worldly things is to be ineffective as a follower of Jesus Christ.  We can’t serve two masters, though many have tried.  The simple truth is that our allegiances can’t be split between the flesh and the Spirit.  To live life as a Christian, we have to walk with the Spirit.

If anyone knew about worldly pleasures, it was Paul’s audience in Rome.  A church of relatively new believers (Christianity hadn’t been around long!), they were essentially in the capitol of the world.  Rome had so many things to offer to distract the Christians from their calling as disciples.  They had to choose whether they wanted to live like the Romans (When in Rome…) or life the lives God had in mind for them.

We all have that choice to make.  Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives.  We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us.  We have to choose to read His Word so we know more about His nature and His will.  We have to take the time to pray so that we can hear from Him and speak to Him.  We have to have intentional relationships with others and we have to put aside some of our own desires for the sake of reaching people.  All of these choices require us to deny the other things calling out to us.

Change, Nobody Likes It, Everybody Needs It

God is in the business of changing people.

Mark 2:1-5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

Everybody should have friends like this man, some very determined men decide that they are going to take their friend to Jesus so that he can be healed from his paralysis, they have a great idea that will change the mans life forever.

Too bad that life gets in the way when we are making plans. We make our plans but a lot of the time God has a different idea about what is going to happen. What they want to do for their friend will not be as easy as they think it will be. They are going to have to make some changes but they are not the only ones.

Change your attitude

Think about the man that has been paralyzed, I have to wonder if he is feeling sorry for himself because of his difficult situation, maybe he is living in fear, or pity. He might be too proud and unwilling to ask for help. We don’t know what his attitude was but it needed to be one of humility and submission.

Is there an area in your life that has you paralyzed? Will you reach out for help?

Change your method

These men were awesome friends that couldn’t be stopped. They were on a mission, they had a plan, but when they got to the house where Jesus was at they realized that they had to move on to plan b. They would have to be open to using a different method to get the results that they had wanted their friend to experience.

Who do you know that needs to get to Jesus? What will you do to get around the road blocks?

Change your plans

The guy that owns this house is probably feeling pretty good that Jesus came into his home, that is until he saw how many people were going to mob the place, now he has to ask himself if the invite was worth it. First he has the mob stomping around his house and now there are people tearing up the roof. He probably thought that asking Jesus over wasn’t going to be a big ordeal but now he has a lot of time and money invested in this.

Have you ever been inconvenienced because God wanted you to invest in someone that has a need? Was it worth your time and money to help?

Change your focus

How about this crowd of people, I wonder how they felt about this man that skipped to the front of the line to get his miracle, they could easily be upset with him if they don’t get their turn. They could be selfish and shout out to Jesus that it wasn’t fair. They needed a miracle and they could have gotten jealous that this guy was healed if they returned home in the same condition that they were in before they went to see Jesus.

Do you need to take your eyes off of your own situation and think of others? Do you think that God has treated somebody else better than he treated you?

God is in the business of changing people from the moment that we give into him and agree that we need a Savior until the day that we die. Nobody likes change but sometimes it is exactly what we need to bring us closer to God and his glorious plan for our lives.

Romans: Live According to the Spirit

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Is your mind set on things of the Spirit?  It’s pretty easy in today’s culture so saturated with entertainment and technology to fail to think about the right things.  Without even realizing it, we sometimes ignore God’s voice.

We live in a time when there is literally no excuse to ever be bored.  If you don’t like what you’re watching on TV, you likely have 500 other channels to choose from.  If that isn’t working for you, there are thousands of websites, many that claim to be “social” to keep you  occupied.  Magazines, smart phone apps and games, online gaming, the list is endless.  If we’re not careful we can be consumed by the things of the world.

But as Christians we’re not called to be consumed by this world.  We’re called to be set apart from it.  In the world but not of it, if you will.  The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do.  That doesn’t mean we never have fun or never set aside time for pure entertainment.  It just means we have a different worldview from which we operate.  We set our mind on the things of God and when we do that, the other stuff out there pales in comparison.