Tag Archives: discipleship
Don’t Do This, This Year…
Every one of us has experienced setting a goal or making a New Year’s Resolution at least once in our lives, yes? Some of us have become so jaded by the experience of failing at the “eat better, read the Bible more, get in shape” routine that we don’t even bother anymore. Others are amazing goal-setters and have a complete Life Blueprint binder sitting on your desk at arm’s reach.
“Watch my weight”, “watch my mouth”, “watch less TV”… Resolutions often have the “watch” word in them. While were at it, who doesn’t like to watch a good episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or “Restaurant Impossible” or “What Not To Wear”? Chances are, you’ve been sucked into one of these shows by the whole “before” and “after” theme that makes grown adults scream like children “Move… That… Bus!!!” and then cry like babies when they see the finished result. We love to watch the reaction of the people whose lives have now been changed forever…
We’d all love to be one of those people, wouldn’t we? What if we already are?
Lost in Translation…
Recently as I was reading Romans 12:2 I saw something I hadn’t noticed as vividly as before. We’ve talked before about the word “suschematidzo” – to conform. It’s a word that’s used only twice in the NT and both times as an “avoid doing this”. Don’t be conformed any longer… You’re free – be free. Sounds like a good resolution, right?
Unfortunately, the NIV – one of the most popular translations – renders another word rather weakly and causes us to lose significant impact from this verse. The word “metamorphosis” comes from the word rendered “transformed”. A better translation of that word alone could really give this verse some deep-sinking teeth, no? But, the word that really jumped off the page for me is the word turned into “renewed”. Wimpy word. The Greek for this word is “renovation”.
I understand. Before you tune out all disappointed, let’s compare the two words at the checkout counter at Home Depot. Cool?
You walk into Home Depot and Frank greets you at the door. “Finding everything you need?”
You: “I’ve got to renew a room in my house. What have you got?”
Frank: “Paint counter’s right over there.”
You: “Thanks, Frank.”
Total Cost: $22.45 and a couple hours taping, cutting, and painting. Room renewed.
You see where we’re going here, right? There’s a huge difference between “renew” and “renovate”. How radically different would your conversation with Frank be if you told him you needed to renovate a room?
Four Things About Renovation… and then Three Keys
Having done hundreds of home theater jobs, flat panel TV and surround sound installations, and been around contractors and home owners for over a thousand hours, I can tell you four things about virtually every renovation I’ve ever seen:
- They always take longer than planned.
- They cost more than planned.
- Create a bigger mess than you ever dreamed.
- You appreciate the finished product far more than any other human being ever can.
So, why “renew” when you can “renovate”? Why renew, when you’ve been commanded to renovate “so that you may be able to test and approve God’s good pleasing and perfect will”? Why would you settle for less than the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God… if it’s there for the asking? Most of the time it’s because the mess of the demolition, the cost of the job, and the ever expanding time line give you a pit in the stomach.
Scripture tells us to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self”, “renovate”. This means demolishing a lot of old patterns, old ways, familiar habits, and developing a Spirit-led habit of saying “no” to the flesh.
- Fast & pray – Fasting is telling the flesh “no” for a prolonged period of time so that we may “sow to the spirit”. Each year, our home church does a 21-day Daniel Fast. For great resources to help you on your way, go to “http://danielfast.wordpress.com/”. Or, contact us and we’d love to share stories and help you plan for your first 3 day, 7 day, or even 21 day fast.
- Renovate, not renew – Your mindset going into the fast is as simple as this: are you asking God to inform your conscience of the things He desires to do in and through you from this point forward or are you begging Him to lock arms with you as you seek to put to death the flesh and renovate your mind/life/past? Resolve to renovate. It will cost more, take more time, but in the end be worth it.
- Be accountable – Left to ourselves, we can justify anything. My blood pressure spiked a few weeks ago and I immediately sent out an email to 5 guys in my life that will hold my feet to the fire about diet, exercise, and workflow management. Today, I’m down 9 points on both sides of the “/”. If you’re not in close accountability with a group or individual, you’re prone to drift off course or quit altogether.
“I pray that He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Don’t settle for slapping a new coat of paint on your life. Renovate. He commanded you.
Doing Two Things at Once… Have you ever been on the phone with someone while you were driving to work, get to work and think “Wow, how did I get here?”
There’s great brain science out there that explains this phenomenon. Without getting hyper-biological, let’s just say that God designed our brains to do really great things. One of those things our brain yearns to do is to embed familiar routines into the “auto-pilot” section of our brain. We’ve subconsciously trained ourselves how to get to work by storing “directions to work” in the routine-function section of our minds (also called the basal ganglia). When we shifted our “full” attention to the phone conversation, auto-pilot is what helped us arrive at work instead of Peru.
Much of what you and I have learned as children has been broken down into easily recalled “chunks” (how to go to the bathroom, how to lift a glass, what to say when someone gives you a toy, how to respond to someone who yells at you, etc.) and stored it in autopilot. This saves us from wasting time and energy rethinking the routine each time we have to do it.
The Old Testament teaching from Proverbs 22:6 is echoed in Jesus’ teaching “…but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)” Which, begs the question:
We’ve All Been Discipled by Someone
Many of my teachers growing up were contrary or marginally average examples of godly behavior. It took time in the Word and the Holy Spirit to expose to me the places where I’d learned wicked examples of auto pilot. Today, I was interviewing a mental health professional and he reminded me that when men and women are under great pressure they tend heavily to fall into default modes of thinking learned from their childhood/family of origin. The brain science I’m reading right now fully confirms this assertion: while we may have new ways of thinking and be a “new creation” in Christ, we don’t always let go of our old programming. Could this perhaps explain why some of the following passages appear in scripture:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12.2a)”
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)”
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)”
All Things New?
When we come to faith in Christ, we do, indeed, become new creations, but this does not mean our most basic programming is completely erased. How much good would we be to God’s kingdom if our mind were erased, personality wiped clean, and we had to learn reading, writing, even potty training all over? We have been “trained up (Prov. 22:6)” for a reason. But, submission to God in all we do, abiding in Christ and walking by the Spirit, demands that we are constantly renewed in our minds. We have much to relearn and the Holy Spirit who is our teacher, but we must dedicate time and mental bandwidth to the process.
- Take an inventory of “pretension that set up against the knowledge of God” and pray – multiple times daily – that the Holy Spirit will renew those old, bad, faulty thought patterns, giving you a “new” auto pilot. But, make sure to do this on paper – soon, I’ll be posting on how your brain isn’t designed to hold too many important things in the forefront – there’s great practical value in getting things out of our heads and onto paper.
- Think on these things – don’t just say “I’m going to not do x.” There’s great truth to “garbage in, garbage out”. Ask God to fill you with new desires and that’s likely what you’ll get. We’re in charge of our minds and what we consciously let in. Memorize the fruits of the Spirit – (Gal 5.22-23) and Philippians 4:8 and actively pray that God leans you toward these new ways. Life in Christ is not about good behavior, rather a changed heart that puts out godly behavior. But, let’s at least have a Holy Spirit Wish List.
- Say “no” to self-condemnation when you “fall off the wagon”. Looking in any mirror can show any of us far more faults than we’d care to think about tackling. But, at least now, we’ve got a more exhaustive list of what to pray for. Remember that while you are imperfect, God is leading you to perfection that will only be complete in His Kingdom reign.While you will make mistakes, Christ already paid the price for them – no sense beating yourself up when Christ has already been beaten for you.
This January, I’ll be running a half day workshop called “Getting Things Done God’s Way: Restoring Order to Your Mind, Your Work, and Your Life”, where we’ll be covering how this stuff is just as related to getting your inbox to “empty” as it is to sharing the gospel at work and loving your enemy while you’re under attack.
God wouldn’t have put this stuff in the Bible if He didn’t intend to help us on the journey.
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23.4)”
Windy, Bendy Roads
If you’re not a mom, stick with me for a moment. We’re driving down a road that’s required us to make 50 course corrections an hour and you’ll appreciate it about halfway through this post.
My wife is in the middle of an amazing transition where God is forging in her heart a fresh desire to lead and train up our youngest three children for a season. They’re 2-1/2, 2-1/2, and 4 (next week). It’s amazing to watch her grapple with scripture in her very Berean way – searching the Word to see if what the Spirit has told her is true: “You’re called to care for and train these kids.” Amid her research in this lifestyle shift, she often encounters blogs, columns, and talks where weary and harried mothers of multiple toddlers and school age kids vent their frustration over how their kids are a “drain”, an “inconvenience”, etc. They’re frazzled: emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, with no immediate hope of relief.
Cristine responds: “I can relate to them. But, I’m choosing joy.” We discussed what this meant and I’ll share my synopsis of it below. But, right now, you’re wondering:
You and I share something very simple in common. Even with my ADD tendencies, I can’t stand interruptions. As Cristine shares some of the “frazzled Mom” comments with me from her research, I can’t help but notice a common thread that all of the moms share: they see their kids as an “interruption”.
But, if I were focusing on my kids all day long (which I occasionally do), how can the point of my focus interrupt me from the point of my focus? Exactly. What we’ve observed with so many moms (and how this relates to you, even if you’re not a mom) is that most of them have been focused on themselves all day long, hoping their kids would give them a break. So, when their kids make noise, screams, damage, diapers, etc., those things weren’t their focus, therefore they’re interrupted.
My phone is often the worst. Texts, tweets, updates, reminders, and [God forbid] actual phone calls, come with no warning. Unless the point of my focus is “watch your phone all day for signs of life”, these things are, by nature, an interruption. It’s really a matter of my agenda being interrupted. I planned to do my stuff in my time in my order the way I like to get things done and anything that gets in the way becomes an enemy to my agenda.
Here’s the tough part. I think you might be expecting me to give you some simple solution for stress free living. And, I might. But, it might be at a much higher cost than you had planned. As I’m reading the gospels, Jesus tells me in three of them that I’m ignoring the cost of discipleship: a bad mindset.
“Peter, I love you, but Satan has fooled you into believing your agenda is more important than mine. Bad mindset, my friend. You’re an interruption to God’s agenda.”
Bottom line: God is sovereign over phone calls, text messages, messy diapers, sibling arguments, senior management initiatives, conference calls, emergency meetings, etc. When I have my mind set on God’s interests, not man’s [read: mine], God is the point of my focus and His “interruptions” aren’t really interruptions… rather, they’re the point of my focus.
As we take a day off of labor for Labor Day, let’s keep ourselves aligned with His mindset, die daily to ourselves, and carry our crosses. This is the true cost of discipleship, the cost of following the Master, the basic blocking and tackling of the Christian life – abide.
Where Did THAT Go?
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The Uprising, click here.
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Changing Traffic Light:
Last week, Cristine and I watched a movie called “Divided”. As we watched, God made very clear it was a flashing road sign we needed to obey, immediately. Written by Philip Leclerc, it shines painfully bright light on the fact that the body of Christ has made a tragic departure from the biblical model of family discipleship, leaning toward an outsourced model in a surprising place with terrible results – 80%+ teenagers are abandoning their faith by college.
The family has abdicated its most crucial role in God’s plan. A growing movement in discipleship training can turn this around.
The information in this documentary was so compelling and convicting to us, we immediately agreed that not only was something to be done about it, but that we are uniquely called to join the movement God has already initiated in turning the tide. In the coming months, I believe you’ll begin to hear stories on our blog (and Facebook) of men and women who are intentionally discipling their children and strategies for discipling your co-workers, children, and others around you.
By the way, make sure you’re friends with us on our Facebook fan page.
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This will require a commitment, accountability, and will be highly opposed by many local churches who have bought into a carnal, worldly model of discipleship. There. You’ve been warned. Rocky road and traffic ahead.
For the Road Ahead –
This summer, we’ve experienced many great one-on-one, group, and couples discipleship moments, our own personal losses, a move to North Forsyth, and both some wild financial ups and sobering downs. The way forward will demand much of me as a husband, father, and discipler of men as well as an increased need for financial support from those who appreciate our calling and this ministry. Wild terrain will demand great tires…
Until a glitch in Apple’s iWeb can be circumvented, our website will remain time frozen in June or July. So, in this post I’m including links that will help those who are called to support Seasons of Life.
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Don’t you just love the red letters? I mean, think about it – if you’re a theist or a deist, you don’t believe in a personal god who is active and involved in the life of His creation. But, if you’re a disciple of Christ, you have pages and pages of ancient manuscripts that have been preserved and protected over centuries that contain the words of the God who not only invented the universe, but also came to earth as one of us to teach, reach, and die for us.
I’m off topic. My bad.
The point of today is to further look into what happens today and how it effects eternity. Jesus is on a roll with His teaching ministry in Matthew 6 and sets the record straight on prayer and piety:
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven… I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Mt. 6.2,5b)”
Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. But, eternal rewards are a different story. Works we do here effect our eternal reward. God promises to reward us for everything we do while here “in the body” (2 Cor 5:10), but here gives us exception clauses as a warning. For the deists & theists out there, this flies in the face of your theology, big time: a personal God is watching you, recording your every move, with a great desire to reward you in eternity for the good you have done. How is that “uninvolved”? Further, and to the point, He also promises to deny us reward for actions done with a selfish motive, i.e. public kudos.
For those of us in public, vocational ministry, especially the small, Mom-and-Pop type like Seasons of Life, this presents an interesting challenge: how does one report appropriately to “update” the public without sacrificing eternal rewards for bragging about ones’ works like the Pharisees did? Prayerfully and only to the glory of God. Et tu? How do you share your story, your testimony, the things God is using you for without sacrificing eternal rewards?
Check your heart.
What I really wanted to blog about this morning is the previous chapter – in Matthew 5:8, Jesus tells the crowds that when our hearts are clean and uncontaminated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, (roll over to see also Luke 8:14 and Jas 1:27), we have a clear, unobstructed view of who God really is and what He is up to in the world. So, how’s your heart? Is it contaminated by worries over the things of this world? Mine isn’t. I’ve got to sit down right after I hit “publish” and “get to confessin”: I’m laden down this morning with what’s ahead in my day, some things I’m waiting to hear back on, some fundraising stuff that “might” go through, etc., etc., etc.
We’re never more than one prayer away from access to the full resources of Heaven. We’re never more than one prayer away from true repentance and a fully clean heart: it just takes honesty before God that we’re being controlled, run, “stained” [as James says] by motives other than pleasing God. Do you seek public accolades? Do you seek the desires of your heart independent of a “delight in the Lord” (Ps 37:4)?
Dump your heart. Repent of the sin of worry. Receive right motives. And, step forward in grace, empowered by the Spirit. It ain’t complicated. Hard, sometimes – I’ll give you that – but simple. Momentum.
|Want one of these in your 401K?|
Context is King.
But, Jesus is the King of Kings and He offers not only salvation for those who believe, but also some desperately needed context for our worldview.
Trials and troubles and annoyances and tragedies exist. No getting around that in a Genesis 3 world. So, Jesus gave us a heads-up – “In this life, you will have troubles.” But, what is the context in which we are to interpret these troubles? In chapter 15 of John’s gospel, Jesus has just spent a bunch of time telling his disciples some bad news: the world is going to hate them “for no reason (John 15:25)”. Then He moves forward into the “you will have trouble” part of the speech. As if the “they’re going to hate you” part wasn’t bad enough, He explains two things:
- “I’m telling you this so you won’t get freaked out when it happens. I’m giving you a heads-up now that I’m on my way out.” (John 16:1 – paraphrased)
- “It’s going to be so bad, people are going to try to kill you because of me, thinking by killing you they’re serving Me.” (John 16:2-4 – paraphrased) “So, what do you guys want for dessert?”
Can we skip to the end of the story? For some context?
The End That Satisfies the Means
Here’s why “the end of a matter is better than its beginning… (Ecc 7:8)”: At the “end of the story” – Revelation 2 & 3, where God dictates seven letters for John to address to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Jesus reminds them who He is. “I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (v. 23)… To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (v. 26)” At the Bema seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5.10), believers in Christ will receive their eternal rewards, including many crowns promised throughout scripture.
Bottom line – in a world where trouble is the everyday landscape of our walk, everything you and I do [within God’s will for us and that’s not done with selfish motive (Mt. 6:2, Mt. 6:5, Mt. 6:16)] will be repaid with eternal reward.
So, here’s the compensation structure when it comes to persevering under trial:
- Get paid now – “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary)
- Get paid in eternity – “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” or
- Both – “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)”
We’ve been warned. We’ve been told it won’t be easy, but given the Holy Spirit to guide, empower, and protect us. We’ve been given the context of our trials, persecution, and our eternal rewards. We can take the recognition from men now or we can take a rain check in our eternal 401K. What would you prefer, a compliment that lasts a little while or a portfolio that lasts forever?
If you’re a man within 30 minutes of California Dreaming in Duluth, GA – do whatever you have to do to get there tomorrow morning (Friday, 05.11.2012) at 6:30 for Men Step Up. There, we’ll be thinking out loud about the lies of the enemy and the truth that sets men free, specifically this stuff. Hope to see you there!