For me, it is amazing to behold the divine hand of God at work in humanity. We are so very fragile. In a season where the world is experiencing fear from the Ebola crisis, which now claims almost 5000 victims, it is difficult to stand firm on God’s promises. It would seem our need for God is clearly displayed daily, and at that, many times a day. When God speaks to us in His Word, God assures us and we know by faith that the promises are true and right. The problem for us occurs when we survey the landscape of humanity and all that seems turbulent in the world, and then attempt to live by faith in God and His Word and not by what we see around us. Most would confess that fear is something that strikes at our heart often. Isaiah 41:20 is one of many promises that God gives to extend peace and hope, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This is not the only place where our Father who loves us assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. There are hundreds of passages that speak to God’s love and presence with us and He guarantees it in the cross of Christ. No matter how hard we may try to build our own safe place, there is no place of isolation or withdrawal, made with human hands, that can keep us secure like God can as we place our life squarely in God’s hands. God is eternal, God is sovereign and God is provident over all creation. We use good common sense to do everything we can do to keep sickness at bay and from spreading. Closing borders, using protective gear, enforcing quarantines and the like are a good thing to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. But ultimately, there is only one place of eternal safety, in the arms of our loving God through a real relationship with Jesus Christ who has conquered all things. As we pray for all the hurting people who are effected by sickness and disease, let us also share with them the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is indeed our refuge and our strength!
Archives for October 2014
If we were playing word association and I were to shout out, “Contagious”, what would be your response? Something tells me that it would most likely not have a positive connotation. And that would be a shame because the power of a contagious love overcomes and that is a positive viral effect. It’s a good and healthy kind of viral spread in a world that fears viral spread.
Jesus gave his Disciples and us a very pointed command in John 15:17, This is my command: Love each other. Just seven words. As my friend Regi Stone would note, this is yet another version of the #7wordgospel. And this happens when you and I realize that there are really just two ways we can transmit the love that is the greatest of all.
We do so through sharing what we hear and what we see. Here are two examples from just earlier today. I walked down the hall that leads to my office and I heard a kind and caring soul praying over someone in need, “God, remind her of your unfailing love and provide her and her family with your grace and provision.” That is God at work in highly contagious ways through a young woman who is simply living out her call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. As I rounded the corner thinking, “Thank you Lord for the reminder that Christianity works,” I ran right into a line of elementary school students leaving the school lunchroom. As I waited for them to clear the most unexpected thing happened. One little girl just came up and hugged me…gave me a hug, never spoke a word, got back in line, and went on her little way. I became keenly aware of the value of a hug and also begin to wonder where she saw and learned that love could be communicated without words. Just as she had seen the love of Jesus in someone who had hugged her, she extended that precious gift to me.
Among all the things we have that strike fear, thank God for the contagious love we see and hear around us through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in overcoming the world. Be contagious God’s way and change the world as Christ has commanded through the power of God’s love.
The past few years, we have seen some amazing fruit in the lives of many Christians who have called this church home and yet been hamstrung by a lack of focus as they struggled living out God’s mission to be disciples of Jesus making disciples of Jesus effectively. In 2008, we began a journey of discovery with God praying that God would help us sharpen the focus and live in greater effectiveness in this role to God’s glory. God was indeed good to lead us to a place where we realized
that we had no clear target or definition of what we were inviting people to in their experience as a disciple of Jesus Christ. God gave us these 5 keys which have moved us beyond the philosophical to real focus and sharpened effectiveness in our role as disciples of Jesus Christ. We have since taught and shared these 5 keys all over the world and translated them into scores of different languages for our brothers and sisters who have found these to be the tipping point in their understanding of living our God’s call with excellence.
I am sharing these today for any and all who are impassioned about learning how to really answer God’s call as a disciple of Jesus Christ in maturity and fruition.
The 5 Keys of Discipleship
1 – Cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus.
Having a personal relationship with Jesus means a disciple
sees and knows Him as a living friend not just a historical
figure. The relationship is personal not institutional and it
is motivated by how the disciple can give glory to God in
all aspects of their life. By practicing the Spiritual Disciplines,
one will come to know Jesus as both Lord and Savior.
2 – Investing in a small-group for support and accountability.
Being held accountable in a small group gives others the right
to speak into your life as you progress in putting off the
old self. The 12 Disciples comprised the first Small Group
because Jesus knew that becoming an Intentional Authentic
Christian could not be accomplished in isolation.
3 – Serving others through acts of love and compassion to build God’s Kingdom
Serving others through acts of love and compassion is
reflected through our Spiritual Gifts as we seek to glorify
God. A disciple will answer the call to act for those in need.
Jesus came to serve and as a disciple, we are compelled
to follow His example as we build the kingdom. For some
it may be carpentry shown through building a Habitat
for Humanity house, teaching a Bible study, serving on
a mission team or praying for babies in the nursery.
4 – Living a life of intentional stewardship
Demonstrating a life of Stewardship means a disciple readily
acknowledges that God created the universe and owns it
all. Because God owns everything, we acknowledge that we
are simply stewards of the gifts of time, talent, resources, and
relationships. God gives us enough time to do everything He
wants us to do, the talent to serve the Church, the resources
to support ministries and to nurture relationships with grace.
5 – Sharing the Good News and reproducing disciples of Jesus.
Sharing the Gospel, modeling a Christ-centered life, and
nurturing other disciples is our fundamental calling from
Christ. We are called to share our own personal faith journey,
for the purpose of bringing others to Christ. We live our
lives reflecting authenticity and transparency to reflect His
Lordship. We invest our life in the lives of others to help engage,
equip and encourage disciples for Christ. The cycle of Christian
life is perpetuated when a disciple’s life is committed
to reproducing more Kingdom builders.
engage, equip and encourage disciples for Christ. The
cycle of Christian life is perpetuated when a disciple’s life
is committed to reproducing more Kingdom builders.
Easier said than done but you now have a real target that is Biblical, behavioral and Wesleyan.
Give ’em heaven!