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Archive for the ‘discipleship’ Category

I briefly met someone recently who was supervising a group of youth who were attending the ‘Get Smart’ conference in Auckland, NZ.  He asked if I had been attending the conference.  When I said no, he replied, “Oh man, it’s great.  We were just there and when we left things were still going.  Carnage, man.  Just carnage.”

I was genuinely confused.

“Carnage?” I said.

“Yeah man,” he replied, “Carnage.  Kids everywhere.  All over the floor.”

I — having realised now that I had (unfortunately) learned a new piece of spiritual mumbo-jumbo jargon — bit my tongue.

I’ll keep this post short and to the point.

I see no reason whatsoever to believe that people rolling around on the floor in ecstatic states of consciousness is anything close to the kind of human behaviour that moves the heart of God.  I have no reason whatsoever to endorse or support such behaviour, much less encourage it.

(Sigh…)

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If only people in general –and Christians in particular– could grasp just a few key things that makes Jesus who He is… then I’m convinced not only that Christianity would have a better reputation, but –even further– those who aren’t Christians might be far less against the growth of Christianity…

People are scared about the growth of Christianity because they (often) think (and not without reason to) that this could eventually lead to a Christian state. All those voting Christians, voting in all those ‘religious’ laws, taking away our freedom, taking away our shopping on Sunday, etc. Many Christians are not at all hesitant to affirm that this is, in fact, precisely what they are working toward…

Now, this post is not directly about how Christians should relate to politics, but it does relate. I am convinced that the Christian faith is to be lived out in the public world, and not simply in private. However, the question is: “What does this look like?”

(more…)

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One of the most bizarre notions in the entire universe is also one of the most important doctrines of Christianity. It’s the idea of a new identity.

The over-abundance of self-help books, ‘inspirational’ seminars and ‘inner-peace’ tapes/CD’s only begin to show our human obsession with life change. We want it. We crave it. We need it. We know something is wrong inside of us, and we will try anything to make it better.

Unlike the comforting, feel-good, wholeness, positive message of these mediums, the message of the Cross is offensive. The Cross doesn’t hide our weakness, but painfully exposes it. The Cross doesn’t try to fix our broken lives, but ends them! In the book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey rightly points out that we don’t get our lives changed, but get them ex-changed!

At times we forget that the Empty Tomb and the wonderful promises of newness of life come only after the Cross and it’s shame. Humanity would love to have the power of the Empty Tomb, but is too proud to humble itself to bow to the Cross. Take a fresh look at the following verses:

Jesus in Luke 14:27, “The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple.” – (Phillips)

Jesus in Mark 8:35, “Whoever wants to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” – (New American Standard)

The Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me; and the life which I now live in the body I live through faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up to death on my behalf” – (Weymouth)

Paul in 2 Timothy 2:11, “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” – (New King James)

This dying is not a once in a lifetime occurance, either! For God’s life and power to flow through us, we must take Jesus’ advice in this last verse:

Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – (King James Version)

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Note: I’ve shamelessly ‘borrowed’ some (all?) of these concepts. You can find them yourself if you research Judaism. Also, Rob Bell covers them quite well in his book, “Velvet Elvis” and his Nooma DVD entitled “Dust.”

Studying the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament, or the books of Moses) is an integral part of Jewish life. In Jesus’ day, Jewish boys would begin Torah study around the age of six (bet sefer), and would memorize it entirely! Around age ten, while the majority of the boys would begin learning their fathers’ trade, the best of these Torah students went on to study other Jewish writings and memorize the rest of the Old Testament (bet talmud)! That’s right, even Psalms and Proverbs! Finally, in their early teens, the best of the best of these would apply to a rabbi’s disciple (bet midrash). They didn’t just want to know what the rabbi knew, they wanted to DO what the rabbi DID. If a rabbi thought the student could ‘do what he did’ (known as a ‘yoke’), he would ‘call’ the student to be his disciple by saying, “Come and follow me.” The student would then leave family, friends and his whole life to follow the Rabbi and take his ‘yoke.’ Each Rabbi’s ‘yoke’ was shaped and influenced by the interpretations of the Scriptures that the Rabbi had, so some ‘yokes’ were more strict or ‘heavy’ than others. Following the Rabbi wherever he went inspired the Jewish blessing, “May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.”

Jesus was a radical rabbi…

When other rabbi’s looked for the cream of the crop, Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors! That’s right, He called those who didn’t even make it past learning the Torah! He also said that His yoke was easy, and His burden was light!

These radical actions and words of Jesus highlight His turning away from burdensome, strict, ordered processes of learning and teaching. Jesus’ emphasis was on relationships. He must have believed that if His disciples loved Him, then they would be like Him!

Perhaps this sheds new light on the Great Commandment to love the Lord your God, and the Great Commission of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. He wants us to share a way of life with each other and the world that He said was easy and light. He wants that way of life to flow from a relationship with Him.

Are you involved in a discipleship relationship?

May you see the importance of your relationship with Christ above all others.
May you realize the calling of Christ to disciple-making.
May you understand that this means disciple-being as well.
May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.

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“Love someone.  Anyone.  Any way you choose to.  But you need to do it at the right time, with the right flowers and at the right restaurant.”

Stop and think. What is wrong with this command? Read it again carefully if you need to.

It tells me when to love, with what to love and even where to love, but what other details might you need? How about who and how? Do the what, where and when really matter if you have the who and how figured out? I don’t think they matter one bit.

Isn’t it refreshing that God’s New Covenant commandments to us don’t even bother with the what, where and when? Let’s look at the Two Commandments of Jesus Christ.

1. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do you see anything in these that have to do with what it looks like to do this, or where or when to do this? Of course not. It appears that God isn’t as concerned with what, where or when we love Him, but instead is concerned that we indeed are loving Him and how we love Him.

Another example about this from Jesus is His discussion with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria about the differences between Jews and Samaritans. She reminded Jesus that Jews believed that the Temple in Jerusalem was the TRUE place for worship, but that the Samaritans were actually the right ones, because the real TRUE place for worship was the mountain in Samaria. The reply of Jesus is paramount. He told her that the time was coming and had already come when she would not worship God on the Samaritan mountain or in Jerusalem. (What!?!) He then tells her that True worship is not where, but in Spirit and in Truth (how).

Who do we love? The LORD first, and then our neighbor.
How do we love them? With everything that we have. Every affection, moment, possession, thought, feeling and effort.
Where and when do we do this? What do we do with with? It just does NOT matter.

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not attending the latest, hippest Christian conference.
Don’t let anyone pressure you attend an event.
Don’t listen to those that tell you you MUST read this book or do this bible study.
Don’t believe the idea that certain rituals of prayer, bible-study or worship are any better than others.
Don’t let anyone control you but God.

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In the Christian life, one mistake we can make would be to think that we have no further need to grow. How ridiculous is that? Thankfully, I don’t know many people who think that. However, a much easier mistake to make is to fail to recognise how growth happens or fail to allow growth to happen in my life.

If we don’t understand how growth happens, we are likely to either falsely perceive growth that isn’t really there, or falsely believe that it can’t or won’t happen. Still yet, even if we do understand how growth happens, we are likely to resist the process.

We want growth to happen, sure enough, but we can’t get past the biggest obstacle: our desire for comfort.

Growth requires discomfort. That fact is unavoidable. It’s as true as the reality that water flows downhill.

If we are ever going to grow as Christians, it means that we are going to have to give up level upon level of comfort in our lives. Read this next sentence carefully.

If you want to be more loving, you will HAVE to learn to put up with un-lovable people.

(Might wanna read that one again.)

Truth triumphs over feelings. We can’t rely on feelings. Frankly, I don’t FEEL like loving people that aren’t like I want them to be. But when my mind is renewed with the TRUTH that I am no better than they are, I am enabled to love them, whether I FEEL like it or not.

May we recklessly love one another in a true, self-less, Christlike way.

Grace and Love,
Dale

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tough going

Alright,

Let me share what I’m learning about how God shapes us.

People approach the Christian life with different mindsets. Some literally think that God’s sole purpose for their existence is that they can be happy, fulfilled, financially independent, popular, etc.

True; the Christian life comes complete with times of happiness and fulfillment. And yes, God will allow many Christians to live quite public and comfortable lives. He even sometimes uses that for His glory. But none of these are His sole purpose. He wants us to KNOW Him.

Our relationship with Him is a relationship that is not just initiated by faith but also grown and/or shaped by faith. And yes, I think the whole idea of faith has been prostituted in the church. Faith is dragged through the mud as some kind of force that you grab a hold of and harness and if you can manipulate it, you can have huge blessings. That idea is a gross mis-interpretation of biblical faith. Perhaps the best synonym I can think of for faith is the word trust. We don’t manipulate God to do something for us, but we trust that even if we don’t get all of our greeds, He will still provide our needs.

So how are we shaped by faith? God allows really frustrating things to happen to us. Yep. If God wants you to be more loving, He doesn’t create the most likely environment for love, but instead will allow the most frustrating person you’ve ever met to cross your path. To build patience, He’ll allow you to switch from lane to lane on the motorway only to find that each lane you force yourself into becomes the slow lane! He’s not
interested in our comfort, but our character!

“Hey church! When you fall into different trials, see the joy in it, and know that God is testing your faith and wants to build patience!” James 1:2-3 (Dale’s loose paraphrase)

In His Grace,

Dale

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