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May 6, 2003

Lead, Keep, Speak

Proverbs 6:20-22
20 My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.
21 Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck.
22 When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you.

What a great picture of the active role of God's law in our lives. Not the leagalistic practices of religion, but that which has been written in the hearts of men (Heb. 8:10). These commandments, this law, is the expression if a living, dynamic, active relationship that God has with His people. Jesus simplified these guidelines down to loving God and loving others (Mt. 22:36-40). The Holy Spirit enables us to live this way. These things I know. But I don't often reflect on how profoundly my life is shaped by these directives.

This Proverb says that this value system has benefit in every area of my life. As I am active on the journey of being a follower of Jesus, I have the direction and guidence that I need. Even as I sleep, just as my mind and body is being renewed, the Word refreshes my spirit and renews my mind. When I am awake I find the Holy Spirit speaking to me, that in the circumstances of my life I have these coversations with God - about what He's doing, the affirmation He gives to me as His child, the assignements He's giving me for the day. It's like I'm a stereo tuned into a station whose broadcast is recieved loud and clear. Whether I am wandering (or "wondering"), as I sleep or while I am awake, God's Word is shaping my life.

May 20, 2003

Willing To Give My Life

John 11:16
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

I am continually intrigued by what it must have been like to be one of the 12 disciples. I wish I understood more about the culture of "rabbi" and "disciples." I do know enough to have an understanding about the life context for Jesus and the 12. Still, my childhood image of these fishermen packing up and leaving homes, jobs, and families, never to return for three solid years remains part of my filter when I am reading the gospels. Which makes this statement by Thomas (known to us as "doubting") so impactful.

I read about Peter's well-intentioned but ultimately empty commitment to stand with Jesus until death (John 13:37). His words often sound like mine. But Thomas' here are different. He has made a determination about what he stands for and it comitted to it, no matter the cost. See, at this time Jesus and the guys were about to head to Bethany because Lazarus was sick. The disciples warned Jesus that they shouldn't go because there were those who wanted to kill Jesus for his "blasphemy." Jesus told the 12 why He and they would be going - "that you may believe." Once again we see that Jesus is using circumstances to reveal himself, and this miracle served a larger purpose as a sign of the Kingdom that had come. But Thomas didn't know that at the time. Before him was a serious decision - go into Judea and be killed with Jesus or not.

Jesus had told the disciples that "whoever is willing to lose his life for My sake will find it" (Mt. 16:25). Thomas, who wasn't one of the three inner circle, who wasn't in on some of the big stuff (Transfiguraton, etc), was willing to really lose his life. Yet there was something else going on that Thomas didn't understand until after the Resurrection. Somtimes I'm like Thomas. I'm confronting the big issue, what I am comitted to, what my life is going to be about, but I miss the big picture. Jesus allows me to go with Him and experience life with Him, so that I will believe.

I'm learning that my life is not primarily about what I am willing to sacrifice, but what I am willing to believe.

June 2, 2003

What about me? What about him?

John 21:19
And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

One of the tools used in a movie to carry a story along is the "flashback" - a cene that recalls a preious scene that answers a question or prepares the character for future action. This whole scen in John 21 is a flashback to the disciples' orginal call to follow Jesus. Here, Jesus uses the exact same words He originally did to remind Peter of His choice of him.

Jayme and I have been in kind of a flashbck to our call to Irvine in the last 6 weeks. Many events and memeories hve flooded our hearts during this challenging season to remind us of the sovreign way the LORD brought us here. Still, I find myself responding in my circumstances as Peter did. Instead of feeling affirmed or impassioned by the reminder of my call, I choose to compare - "what about him? (v. 21). The last words of Jesus recorded by John eacho back in my own empty search for validation, "what is that to you?" (v. 22) I had mademany assmuption about what this whole thing would look like. When it didn't turn out how I thought, the only place my pride could find fuel was to compare myself to others - why they seemed to be blessed with more than me? It's really saying, "I'm not getting my share out of this. I deserve better. What about me?"

Jesus responds again -"You follow me." That's where all the self-pity has to end. It leaves no room for comparision with others. Lord, I will follow You.

June 6, 2003

Looking For Afirmation

Psalms 123:1-2
Unto You, I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He has mercy on us.

Yesterday was my son's last baseball game for this season. It was amazing to see how far the kids have come this year. They were making plays, throwing people out, hitting the ball - it was neat. After every play, these 7 year olds would look at the coaches for a look of affirmation, asking with thier look, "Did I do the right thing?" Whether they made the right decision or not (cause with runners on base there are a lot of options which becomes a lot to process in the split second after the ball is hit) our coaches decided we would instruct and affirm.Throughout the season as the kids began to understand the game we had the opportunity to affirm a lot. So much that after the game as I was telling the kids that I hoped they enjoyed the season and would play again next year, one of the boys who began the season very tentatively said, "Oh yeah, I'm playing next year."

I want to be like these children as I continue to grow in my understanding of God's purpose for my life. As obdience becomes more intuative, there is no greater thing than to have the sence of His affirmation. With mercies that are new every day, I look to the heaven not with shame, but with anticipation of my assignments for the day. I want to know how to respond to the subtle language of the Father, watching Him and learning the nuances of my master to anticipate His requests. To watch for His hand and to join Hm in what He is doing. I desire to please Him. So I look for His pleasure and live in His favor.

August 26, 2003

He Knows The Way

Job 23:8-10
Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; 9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
10 But He knows the way that I take...

There are plenty of times in one's life when it is difficult to discern what God is doing. I don't think that this occurs only in seasons of hardship. Sometimes it's hard to know what God is doing in the good times too - it's just that we don't ever stop to ask. We just ride that wave for as long as we can. In either circumstance, the question of "why" is rarely answered to my satisfaction. So we must cling to what we know: His plans for us are to bless and not harm us (Jer. 29:1); In all things God is working for my good (Rom. 8:28); His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Ps. 119:105); etc. So my obedience is not based on my ability to "see" Him, only to have heard Him. For He knows the way I take..."

Lord, let me come through this season tested and purified like gold.

March 18, 2004

What shall I do?

Luke 3:9,10 (and 11-14)
9 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance...
10 So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"
11 He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?" So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."

"What shall we do?" That is the manta of most Christians. Somehow we've boinled the Chrisitian life down to a "to do" list. Most of us are more comfortable with requirements than we are taking responsibility for our own lives. Often we willingly seek people who will tell us what to do (as long as we like what they tell us). For example, in my own life...

I want someone to tell me what to do to build a church - follow these steps and "ta-da"! Instead, I'm responsible to be a pastor who bears the fruit of growth and transformation in my own life.

In this passage, John the Baptist is trying to help people understand how the choice they made should impact thier lives. These are ideas to help start the process, not the "job description" of one who has "repented." There's more to do to bear the fruit of repentance, whether I'm a tax collector or a soldier, or just a regular guy with an extra coat. It's time people stop asking each other what we should be ding and start allowing the H.S. to keep shaping our lives and reponding to Him.

Lord, let my works be the fruit of a changed life, not the proof of it.

November 14, 2006

Popular Opinion

Acts: 14:18-19 (NKJV)
18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

People are funny. One minute you're loved, and the next they're ready to kill you. What is it about human nature that makes us so fickle? In this passage, the Lord uses Paul to heal a crippled man. The "multitude" is amazed and want to "worship" Paul and Barnabus. Because of the reference to "the Jews" who came to Lystra from Antioch and Iconium, I'm going to assume that the crowd here included Jews and Gentiles. If that's correct, my question would be why are Jews involved in pagan worship pracices? (see v. 11-13)

This is probably one of the things that the orthodox Jews from these other cities used to turn the "multitude" in Lystra against Paul. Could they have been convinced that the message of hope that Paul and Barnabus presented was another deviation from Judiasm, the only true religion?

The immediate question still remains...how does one go from being sacrificed to, to being sacrificed? I think it has to do with mankinds inheirant need to be in the majority,with the ruling class. Instead of thinking for ourselves and making a stand, we give into the covictions of others, just so we don't have to be different.

Following Jesus calls us to be seperate. Following Jesus requires us to know what we believe and why we believe it. We need to guard against allowing the culture or popular opinion to influence who, what, or how we worship.

December 17, 2008

Life at 75 MPH

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (Contemporary English Version)
2 Then the LORD told me:
"I will give you my message
in the form of a vision.
Write it clearly enough
to be read at a glance.
3 At the time I have decided,
my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting--
it will happen!

I don't know why I don't spend more time in Habakkuk. It's a rich, little book. Very readable for a minor prophet and so many foundational concepts contained in it. I also wonder if every December 18 I so a life journal entry on these same verses? (I should check my archives).

As a pastor the holidays are a time of reflection and preparation for the start of a new year. In this season, I've not yet had the time to really get away to hear God abut what he has for the church I serve in 2009, but I'm geting tastes of it. What I need to do is to take the time to capture all these thoughts, allow them to become clear through prayer and prepare to lead our church on the journey He has for us. I've already spent time getting ready for this; reading some books that stir my heart, meeting with friends & leaders who challenge me. Snce August I really feel that this year at New Life is all about "making disciples." There's a lot of Christians, but not many actual "Christ-followers" (see Jesus: "You're my disciples if you do what I command you...," etc.)

Now it's one thing to say it, but it's another to communicate it; to really help people understand where we're going and how we're going to get there. That's why the CEV spoke to me in it's translation today, "Write it clearly enough to be read at a glance." People's lives are rush by so fast, like traffic on the freeway. So this vision for our church has to be "caught on the fly." Like a billboard, the vision has to have a simple and clear message. Like a road sign, the vision has to point people in a specific direction. Like the sound of an alarm, people have to understand what the sound means and how to respond. This is my challenge over the remaining weeks in 2008. And if I do my part of writing it down, the Lord says I can trust Him with the future outcome.

Lord, help me hear, help me focus, help me communicate what, where, and how You're leading our church into our future.

February 4, 2011

Hand-Me-Downs

Exodus 29:29 (NKJV)
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them.

OBSERVATION
God dedicated the Aaronic line to be ministers before him. All of Aaron's descendants will now be priests. In fact, Aaron and his sons were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 29:20). But Aaron's "uniform," the symbol of his position and responsibility, was to be passed down to his sons who come after him.

APPLICATION
This week in Men's Fraternity we defined authentic Godly manhood as "rejecting passivity, taking responsibility, leading courageously, and expect the greater reward." In the mentioned passage I see that the legacy that God was entrusting to Aaron required authentic manhood. It requires that he "hands down" to his sons something more than just his name.

Aaron and his sons (and the generations that followed) were dedicated for service to God. But there came a time when Aaron passed on his assignment to his sons. Aaron job wasn't only to minister before God as a priest, but to train his sons in what being a priest means, what it requires. For one day, they would wear the uniform and with it the responsibility for God's people and the generation that would follow them. There would come a day that Aaron's sons would be recognized by the community ("anointed") and charged with the full responsibility ("consecrated"). This means that the time of training and the time when they lived for themselves was over, and now gave themselves to a lifetime of service. And also took on the added responsibility of preparing the generation that would follow them.

I wonder what my son will feel when he puts on the uniform of "manhood." Will he know what it looks like? Will he know how to put it on? Will he understand what comes with the job? He was dedicated to God's service as an infant, but when the time comes to be anointed and consecrated into the ministry that God has for him, will he be ready? Will he know what to do. Doing my job with him is every bit as important as doing my job for others. When that day comes and he puts on the uniform; cap & gown (graduation) / tuxedo (wedding) / burp rag (fatherhood) - I want him to stand proud knowing he's ready and willing to embrace the ministry God has for him.

PRAYER
Father, I wear the uniform you've given to me with pride. Let me care for it in such a way that what is passed down to my son is not a mess of filthy rags, torn and worn out because I didn't care for it. Let me take pride in the manhood/ministry you've anointed and consecrated me to, so that I pass down to my lineage something of worth that is cherished and taken pride in...so that it can be passed down again.

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