Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 25) - The Transforming Power of Prayer


"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way." (1 Samuel 12:23)


When I consider the monumental task of helping a person become like Jesus, I quickly realize I have no power in myself (Phil 2.13). Sure, I can get people to do religious stuff but I can train a parrot to quote Scripture. Although we participate with God in the restoration process, we must never fool ourselves into believing it is our efforts that really change the human heart.


This is why prayer is so important. First, it is a declaration of our dependence on God to do a work in the individual’s heart. It is an act of humility that pleases the Father. We properly align our hearts and minds with God’s as we pray for another to do the same.


Secondly, prayer enlists God’s power to change a person at the depth of their soul. Without supernatural intervention, all change is superficial and temporary. We are not trying to help people just know and act like Jesus, we want them to be like Jesus (Lk 6.40).


It’s not difficult to learn to pray for others. We do it all the time and it’s a significant part of church life. But if you listen carefully, you almost never hear people praying for another’s spiritual wellbeing. It is normally a physical ailment or a particular trial a person is enduring. These are important, but they pale in light of spiritual needs. We need to pray for their spiritual growth and health as well. (Phil 1.9, Col 1.9, 2 Th 3.1, Phm 1.6, Heb 13.18, Jm 5.16)


Obviously, I’m familiar enough with their lives to pray through specific needs. But another way that I pray for others is to look through my quiet times and pray significant passages for them. I want to ask God to work the living Word into their lives (Heb 4.12). I pray for their future and of course, I ask them what they would like me to pray for them.


As disciplers, praying for others is not a luxury. It is the underpinning of all our labors.


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 29, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 24) - An Evangelistic Obstacle to Following Jesus

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21)

One of the greatest dangers facing Christendom today is the theology that teaches a formulaic solution to man’s condition rather than the actual person of Christ. For example, I hear things like: pray this prayer and you will be saved, come forward and receive the grace of God, you need to be baptized, etc… Doing these things are an important part of following Jesus, but they are often presented as the quick ticket on the train out of Hell with only a cursory mention of Jesus as the conductor. These formulas can be taught in complete isolation from knowing Christ and thereby negating the power of salvation through a misplaced faith and loyalty. We begin to put our faith in the formula rather than the person of Jesus Christ. Then we start hearing statements of faith like, “I know I’m saved because I went to catechism, or I was baptized, or I prayed the prayer.” Rather than, “I know I’m saved because I am a follower of Jesus and He is transforming me into His image.”


As witnesses and disciplers, we need to help potential followers of Jesus understand that these religious acts are empty in themselves. We need to help them see true spirituality is directly centered on the person of Christ (2 Cor 13.5, 1 Jn 5.11-13). And, although I believe conversion is instantaneous, I also believe assurance does not come from a single religious act but rather from an active lifestyle of following Jesus. We need to spend the time required to introduce people to Jesus so they can make an informed decision. Witnessing is helping people discover Jesus not religion.

The incredible side effect of sharing Christ rather than the formula is that we actually get to know Him better and become like Him.


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Generational Ministry Bible Study

Generational Ministry Bible Study - Biblical study on how the Life of Christ transforms people from one generation to the next. (These verses were compiled through a survey of Navigator staff and associates on generational ministry. Thanks for your participation!)


1 Cor 11:1
1 Cor. 3:6-11
1 Kings 2.2-4
1 Kings 8.25
1 Thes 1:6-9
2 Tim 2.2
Acts 5:36-37
Col 1:28,29
Dan 4:3
Deut 11:18-24
Deut 18:15,18
Deut 30:16
Deut 4:9-10
Deut 6:4-9
Eph 3.21
Ezek 22:30
Gal 3:16
Gal 3:26-29
Gal 4:1-7
Gal 4:19
Gal 4:28
Gen 1:28
Gen 12:1-3
Gen 15:1
Gen 15:1-6
Gen 17:1-2
Gen 22:18
Gen 8:15-17
Gen 9:1
Is 42:6,7
Is 43:3-7
Is 49:1-6
Is 51:1-2
Is 51:8
Is 54:2-3
Is 58:10-12
Is 59:21
Is 6:8
Is 60:21-22
Jer 5:1
John 1:12
John 10:27
John 13.15
John 15
John 15:16
John 17
John 17:18-21
John 20.21
Joel 1:3
Judg 10:2
Lam 5:19
Lk 1.50
Lk 9:27
Mark 10:45
Mark 3:14
Mark 5:19, 20
Mt 28.18-20
Mt 3:8
Mt 4:19
Phil 1:6
Ps 102:18
Ps 145.4
Ps 33.11
Ps 60.22
Ps 71:18
Ps 78:1-7
Ps 89.4
Titus 2.3-5

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Illustration - The Discipleship Pipeline

I use this illustration to help guys gage the different growth phases men may pass through. It also gives them a definite vision for how God can use their lives as a laborer in the Kingdom.




For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Testimony 9: Seeing the Light

Chapter 9

But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)


As the orange sunrise filled the room, Truth filled my soul. I had been living a lie. And I had lied to so many. I was lying to my Platoon Sergeant who had come to trust and respect me for my skills and leadership toward the younger guys. He didn’t know what was going on out at “The House.” I’m sure if he had, I would have been thrown out of the Army. I was a lie to my parents. Both were very successful officers. At the time Dad was a Major and Mom was a Captain. They were so proud of me because I was in one of the most elite units in the world. If they had known the real me, it would have broken their hearts. And lastly, I was a lie to myself. I thought, “as long as it didn’t affect my job, I could do anything I wanted. It wasn’t the Army’s business what I did off duty, right?” But I knew it was affecting my duties and more importantly, it was affecting my whole life. That morning it suddenly dawned on me: I couldn’t lie to God. He sees everything just as it is. In all its rawness, God saw my life as the train wreck it really was. He knew the truth.

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 26, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 23) - Interaction with Others: Restoration begins with Explanation

Restoring the Image (Part 23) – Interaction with Others: Restoration begins with Explanation

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" (Romans 10:14-15)

We previously discussed the role of the Holy Trinity in a man’s conversion. However, Scriptures are filled with admonitions for human involvement in liberation of a man’s soul. We are not only image-bearers but the message-bearers.

In God’s great kindness, He allows us to participate in building His Kingdom. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’m sure God could choose a more efficient method to proclaim the gospel. He could rearrange the stars to spell “John 3:16” or have a big angel show up on your 16th birthday to give you the message. Instead, He allows mere men to work by His side and participate in the “Family Business.” He chooses us. What a tremendous privilege.

On the other hand, reproduction goes beyond privilege. The Father commands us to help fish become fishers of men, sheep become shepherds, and people become priests (Mt 4.19, 28.18-20, Ac 1.8). The reproductive nature of God is part of our original design. To be like God is to reproduce like God. This is not merely reproducing in the physical realm, but it must also be spiritual. The people of Noah’s day had reproduced physically, but had failed to reproduce spiritually and the wrath of God was poured out on all mankind (Gen 6.5-8).

So, we are both privileged and commanded to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others to reproduce ourselves. This has intrinsic value to our own spiritual growth. More importantly, we glorify God by imitating His reproductive nature (Jn 15.8).

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 22) - Interaction with Others: An Invitation to Restoration

He *said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. (John 1:39)

One of the most powerful ways to help someone is through a simple invitation. It is amazing to see what happens when believers intentionally ask the people around them to come to church or Bible study. We have from 2 to 5 regularly attending non-Christians in every one of our Bible studies because we encourage those who attend to invite their family members, friends, co-workers, and strangers.

I start by teaching a young disciple how to invite a person to the restoration process by sitting in the back of chapel with them and looking for the new visitors. I point visitors out and ask my disciple to watch as I invite them to a newcomer’s lunch. Once at lunch, after getting to know the person, I invite them to Bible study. The whole time my apprentice is observing how simple and relational the invitation is. This is the most effective way to teach another person to reach out. Folks usually come to church looking for ways to get connected (and you would be shocked at how many non-Christians come to church on a regular basis). After they have seen me model the invitation for a couple of Sundays, I have them take the lead and I observe.
Once he is comfortable with inviting folks from church to lunch and Bible study, it’s time to invite people to church. I have them watch me invite people in natural settings like standing in line at the burger joint or working out at the gym. I usually keep a few business cards with the time and place of the church service so people don’t have to remember. It’s really very easy. I was asking a guy about his car one day and added to the conversation, “Hey, you ought to check out this great chapel I go to” and handed him a card. The young disciple saw how natural it was to invite even a perfect stranger.

Obviously, you don’t want to come off as a salesperson. But if you genuinely care about people and invite them one at a time, they will see your heart and most will appreciate your efforts. Can you imagine what would happen to your church’s attendance if everyone in the congregation made it a goal to invite 2-3 people a week? Just a simple way to get people started down the road to restoring their image.
For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 22, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 21) - Interaction with Others: Intentional Co-Restoration

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Part of our responsibility as ones being restored to the original image is to help others do the same. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to "consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (Heb 10.24). We are to assist one another in becoming more like God in the areas of love and doing good. This aid comes from premeditated planning (consider how). This is a command from the Scriptures to think beforehand as to how to help someone become more like Christ. I call this intentionality in ministry.

Intentionality has taken a bum rap in recent years because some say smacks of an agenda or program. People don't enjoy feeling like a project. Being intentional is not the problem. The problem is in the way we go about being intentional. If all I'm concerned about is getting a person to jump through my hoops, then insincerity will be sniffed out and the efforts of restoration become stilted. On the other hand, if a person is spurred on in a manner that communicates love and the best interest of the individual, then that person is more likely to stay engaged in the process. Fellowship treats others like a person not a project. Ministry is not just a task, it's a relationship.

Modern American Christianity does not primarily suffer from these programmatic symptoms. It has gone to the other extreme. It has degenerated into talking about the weather or the latest sports scores for fear of seeming "preachy." Kiononia (Greek word for fellowship: sharing in common) has become mostly what we have in common with the world rather than the Word or with leisure rather than the Lord.

Our commitment should be to help each other become all that God meant us to be. We are to sharpen one another (Prov 27.17), encourage one another (1 Th 5.11), and yes, even correct one another in a loving manner (2 Tim 4.2). This is our role in the restoration process.

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Restoring the Image: Table of Contents

(Part 1) - The Glory of His Image
(Part 2) – Too Much of a Good Thing
(Part 3) – We Need a Savior
(Part 4) – The Restoration Process: The Father
(Part 5) – The Restoration Process: The Son
(Part 6) – The Restoration Process: Discipleship
(Part 7) – The Restoration Process: Discipleship Continued
(Part 8) – The Restoration Process: One-on-One Discipleship
(Part 9) – The Restoration Process: Tools and Techniques
(Part 10) – The Restoration Process: Dangers
(Part 11) - The Holy Spirit: The Breath of Life
(Part 12) - The Holy Spirit: Indwelling
(Part 13) - The Holy Spirit:His Work
(Part 14) - The Word of God: Essential
(Part 15) - The Word of God: Essential but Neglected
(Part 16) - The Word of God: Setting the Heart
(Part 17) - The Word of God: Intake
(Part 18) - The Word of God: Application
(Part 19) - The Word of God: Passing it On
(Part 20) - Interaction with Others: The Image is not and Island
(Part 21) - Interaction with Others: Intentional Co-Restoration

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Testimony: Table of Contents

Testimony 1: In the Beginning

Testimony 2: Jesus is Watching You

Testimony 3: Paratrooper Religion

Testimony 4: Afraid of being Left Behind

Testimony 5: The Geographical Solution

Testimony 6: The Geographical Solution Fails

Testimony 7: The Seed is Planted

Testimony 8: Spiritual Melee

Testimony 9: Seeing the Light

Testimony 10: Receiving God's Plan for My Life

Testimony 11: A New Creature

Testimony 12: What about You?

Testimony 13: A Little Miracle

Testimony 14: An Apostle to the Soldier

Testimony 15: First Steps toward Growth

Testimony 16: Being Discipled

Testimony 17: Life Time Mentor


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

© 2008 Following Jesus by Chuck Wood All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 20) - Interaction with Others: The Image is not an Island


But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; (Jm 3.8-9)

If you were to ask the average Christian on the street, "Why should you love people?" you probably wouldn't get the answer, "Because my love for people is a confirmation of my love for God." Yet, this is the primary reason to love our fellow man. People are created in His image and the way we treat them is a direct reflection of our devotion to God.
Throughout the Bible, God clearly expresses His expectation that we should treat one another with dignity based on our likeness to God. In Genesis, God requires the penalty of death for murder. He says, "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. (Gen 9.6). It is interesting to note God's sentiments for His image-bearers remain even after their rebellion. Man's worth is not based on his actions but on his likeness to God.

Jesus also refers to the importance loving our fellow image-bearers. He reminds people of the Great Commandment to love God and then says "The second is like it." (Mt 22.37-39), meaning the commandment to love people is related to loving God. In Jesus' description of the final judgment, He says men will be judged based on their treatment of others because it is a direct corollary to how they would treat Him (Mt 25:34-45).

Other New Testament writers express the same theme. James describes the disparity of blessing God and cursing man with the same tongue. His reasoning for the incongruence is man is made in the image of God. The Apostle John says, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 Jn 4.20). Our interaction with our fellow man is directly related to our fellowship with the Creator because man is made in the image of God.

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Illustration - The Tree

An illustration for basic growth.


You can copy or print this by right clicking and following menu instructions.


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 19) - The Word of God: Passing it On

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)

Ezra set his heart, studied, and applied the Word of God in His own life. It would seem sufficient for man to handle the Scriptures this way. You would think he would be completely content that he and God had connected. But that was not the case for Ezra. He was a priest and a scribe (Ezra 7.12). He was not only responsible for his personal relationship with the LORD but for the people’s connection as well. He was under obligation to teach the Word. But I have never found obligation to be a lasting motivator for doing what is right. I think Ezra was motivated by his love for God and people.

Now before we relegate the forth component of the restorative power of the Word to the clergy, let me remind us that we are all priests in the New Covenant (1 Pet 2.5,9). And our supreme motivation should also be to love God and people (Mt 22.37-39). But this goes well beyond duty. If we were to take a close look at the affects of teaching on the teacher himself, we would find that he is by far the greater beneficiary of the act of teaching. I have always said “if you really want to learn something, teach it.”

When I say teaching, you may conjure up images of standing in front of a classroom and droning on in a monotone while your poor students stare at you like a deer in the headlights. That may be reserved for the chosen few (thank goodness). I’m simply talking about passing on the information (the Word of God) to another person. I’ve watched young men share one on one with a younger disciple and the transformation in the one teaching is amazing. As they take responsibility in bringing their brother up to speed, they are actually comprehending more, developing deeper convictions, and best of all, growing closer to Jesus themselves. This is one of the greatest secrets to spiritual growth, teach others and reap the greatest benefit.


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chuck's Favorite Books

Top Ten Books

1 Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret - Howard Taylor, Geraldine Taylor
2 Master Plan of Evangelism – Robert Coleman
3 131 Christians Everyone Should Know – Mark Galli
4 My Utmost for His Highest - Oswald Chambers
5 The Training of the Twelve – A.B. Bruce
6 More than a Carpenter - Josh McDowell
7 Secrets of the Vine - Bruce Wilkinson
8 My Heart Christ’s Home - Robert Boyd Munger
9 Spiritual Leadership - J. Oswald Sanders
10 Lost Art of Disciplemaking – Leroy Eims


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Testimony 8: Spiritual Melee

Chapter 8

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12)

For six months, a war was being waged for my soul. The parties never ended and now I wasn’t just one of the boys, I was leading them. I had become one of those party animals the younger guys look up to. But I knew I was heading down the road of destruction. I also had a continuous sense that God was trying to reach out to me. I would even talk about spiritual things in my drunken and drug induced stupors. I was plagued with mixed emotions in my schizophrenic spirituality, overwhelming feelings of both guilt and mercy.
In December of 1979, we were the Ranger Ready Force while the 1st Ranger Battalion took Christmas leave. We were angry because we wouldn’t be going home for the holidays. But we were determined to have a “good time” anyway. On the night of the 22nd, we had a huge party at the “The House.” It was a sleepless night and much of my time was spent in a lonely corner thinking about Satan and God, Hell and Heaven. I was in a spiritual melee and the winner would own my soul. I remember as the sun was coming up the next morning, I was exhausted from the spiritual fight. Resolve and surrender were dawning in my heart. I could no longer live a life of lies.
For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 18) - The Word of God: Application


For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
(Ezra 7:10)

So now a person has set their heart and has taken the Word in through hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing. It still makes little difference in our lives until it is applied. Our first obstacle is actually getting into the Bible; the second is actually doing what is says (Jam 1.22). Here's some tips on how to develop successful applications from the Scriptures:


First, I need to meditate. A good technique is looking over what is read and asking the question, "What should I do about what God has shown me?" Underlining or highlighting passages that stand out is helpful in this process.

After I have one idea that is relevant to life change, I begin to mold it into an application. I develop and action plan that is attainable, measurable, and accountable.


Attainable simply means that I will actually be able to accomplish my application. If I've read something about prayer and my application is to pray for three hours and I've never prayed longer than 15 minutes, the chances are slim that I will accomplish this. But if I say, "I'm going to pray for at least 10 minutes every day for a week," that seems doable.


Notice the application above is not only attainable but it is measurable as well. If I would have said, "I need to pray more." Well, how much more? Will I pray for one minute or three days? I need to be specific. This helps me know when I have accomplished what I have set out to do.


Lastly, I need to enlist someone's help to see how I'm progressing in my application. By asking a friend to help with the application I have a 95% probability I will do what I feel God is calling me to do. All this may seem mechanical but it's better than the alternative of building my house on the sand (Mt 7.26-27).


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 17) - The Word of God: Intake

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
(Ezra 7:10)


As a person sets their heart, they are moved to action and begin to absorb the Word of God. New believers often drink the Scriptures down like milk, devouring chapters and even books on a daily basis (1 Pet 2.2). But, normally the appetite starts to subside. This is a critical time for coaching. At this point there are three important ingredients for successful long term intake of the Word: Strategy, Consistency, and Accountability.

My Strategy is to start small and increase as they gain strength in the Word. I usually start them in the Gospel of Mark (reading about Jesus), one chapter daily. Mark is only 16 chapters long and they can finish it in just over two weeks. As they gain steam, I add portions of the Old and New Testament but encourage them to continue to cycle through the Gospels and keep reading Jesus. In about six months, they can be reading up to four chapters daily (reading through the Bible in a year). Eventually, Bible study and Scripture memory round out their steady diet of the Word and they are being saturated (Deut 6.6-9).

Consistency is more important than quantity over the long haul. Even if they only read a short section of the Bible every day, it is more effective than a "hit or miss" approach (Ac 17.11). Generally, a person will gain enough steam to add more content as they continue on a daily basis.

Finally, I have found Accountability to be the number one encouragement for them to consistently read the Scriptures. I start by enthusiastically sharing my findings in the Word during Bible study or Man to Man time. Then, I begin to ask what God is revealing to them from the Bible. This develops a pattern of mutual sharing and encouragement around biblical concepts and applications (Heb 10.24-25).

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Illustration - Living Up to Our God Given Potential

I use this illustration to help a person figure out their God given potential and stop comparing themselves to others. It’s also very useful in helping disciplers avoid over or under challenging the men they are working with.




You can copy or print this illustration by right clicking it and following the menu instructions.







For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 16) - The Word of God: Setting the Heart

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
(Ezra 7:10)

As we have already established, the Word of God is an essential part of restoring one to the original image. It is the instruction manual, the blueprints for being all God intends us to be. One Old Testament hero, Ezra understood this and shaped his life around the Scriptures. The first thing Ezra did was to set his heart.

I recently heard someone say, "I need to get my head back in the game." I appreciate what they meant but I'm always a little suspect of that saying. It sounds like obligation, duty, or being under compulsion. I believe a person's head is where their heart is. The objective is not to change just my mind but to change my inner most desires as well. I want my heart in the game.


Jesus gives us good instructions on how to perform this spiritual heart surgery. He says, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt 6.21). The key to changing my heart is to change my treasure. What are the things most valuable to me? Is it my relationship with God? Is it His Kingdom? Is it bringing glory to God as I was originally designed to do? If these things are my treasure, my heart (and my mind) will quickly follow.


But eternal things are sometimes an acquired taste. I remember the first time I wanted to drink coffee. I had been working outside all night and it was cold, rainy, and miserable. Coffee was the only warmth available. I had tried it before and was not impressed. But now in my circumstances, I appreciated it so much more. When I reflect on my sinful state and how absolutely broken I really am and how His Word can change my life, my circumstances drive me to the Book of Restoration. It is no longer a chore to read the Scriptures, it is my great desire.


For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A letter from a Pastor in California on Modeling

Chuck,

It was good to talk with you last week. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with Saul. I know that it helped him with thinking about where he is headed and challenging him to listen to the Lord. I mentioned it last week but I had been reading in John chapter 5 and came across verse 19-24 and it really connected the dots for me with discipleship in regards to what you were teaching us last year from Matthew chapter 8-10. In verse 19 Jesus says that he can do nothing unless it is something he “sees” the Father do. Verse 20 the Father shows the son all He is doing.

It made me think that Jesus showed his disciples what to do before telling them to do it, because that is the example of teaching disciples that the Father had with the Son. I instantly thought of the illustration you taught us about drawing the shapes (The house) and then actually showing the person what to draw. It reminded me to make sure I am functioning in that way with the men I have following me. It also reminded me of some recent things, in which I actually had to show a couple of guys something 2 and 3 times before they got it down. As I read through the gospels, I see how Jesus taught and retaught his disciples in how he ministered to the crowds.

This showed me again that discipleship is a lot of work and that we should not give up on someone who has not quite “got it” yet. I am preparing to preach out of the book of Micah at the end of the month for the church services. Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justice to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” The picture of “Walking humbly with God” hit me as someone on a steady pace. Not running, not wandering around, but step after step in a strait path. A steady pace. Jesus led his disciples step by step as they followed him. We must follow Christ step by step and lead others to do likewise.

Paul Taylor
College and Young Adults Pastor
First Baptist Church of Downey, California

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Testimony 7: The Seed is Planted

Chapter 7

"Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow" (Mark 4:3)

I’m sure I was in a very unusual company. If any of the other companies in the Battalion were so depraved, I was unaware of it. We use to call the guys in Alpha Company, Alphabots and guys in Bravo, Bravotrons because of their discipline and strict adherence to the creed, orders, and superior officers. And what did they call Charlie Company? Ragbag Charlie. We would refer to ourselves more as “free spirited” and “inventive.” Don't get me wrong; there were many good Rangers in the company. But many of us were living on the "Dark Side." I often wonder why God would have allowed me to fall in with such a crew, especially when I was trying to do the right thing. Perhaps it was because in the other companies I would have pursued becoming a great Ranger and distracking from my great need for Christ. But in C Company, life was one big party. “Work hard, play REAL hard,” we use to say. I quickly found myself right back where I started. Rapped up in the same things I was trying to escape at Ft. Bragg. Tormented by the good that I knew I should do and yet trying desperately to fit in with men I worshiped as warriors, I was drawn in like a moth to a flame. Within three months I finished RIP and the Pre-Ranger course and was on my way to Ranger School. It was an opportunity to dry out and more importantly think about the bad decisions I was making. For the first time I had a desire to read the Bible. I remember very clearly, like yesterday, sitting on a silver propane tank, reading a little green Gideon’s New Testament in the Mountain Phase of Ranger School. I was searching now and I finally had the desire to change. Graduating, I quickly left Ft. Benning, Ranger School, and any thought of changing my life. I met my buddies at SETAC Airport and immediately went to celebrate my success with a big party. But the seed of the Word was beginning to grow.


Chapter 1: The Beginning
Chapter 2: Jesus is Watching You
Chapter 3: Paratrooper Religion
Chapter 4: Afraid of being Left Behind
Chapter 5: The Geographical Solution
Chapter 6: The Geographical Solution Fails
Chapter 7: The Seed is Planted
Chapter 8: Spiritual Melee




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Monday, December 08, 2008

Illustration - Phases for becoming a Man of the Word

This is how to become a man or woman of the Word of God. Notice the last two phases are just as important as the first two when comes to being a disciple of Jesus.


To copy or print this illustration, right click and choose from the menu.


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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 15) - The Word of God: Essential but Neglected

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
(Acts 17:11)

Except for a new believer, who among us has not heard that it is essential for us to read our Bibles? How many sermons, Sunday school lessons, workshops, and books have we been exposed to that exhorts us to get into the Word of God? And yet according to the Barna Research Group 90% of Americans own a Bible, but less than 20% will ever read it in its entirety. Our problem is not that we haven’t heard, it’s we really don’t believe what we’ve heard. If we truly thought the Word of God was essential to our lives, we would read it. Our problem is not with knowledge, our problem is with our values. We do not value the same things God values.

So how does one change their values? I think that there are three basic problems in this arena;

1. I have not experienced the Bible as being valuable in my personal life (Mk 4.15)

2. I have never been taught how to translate biblical truth into practical day-to-day living (Mk 4.16-17)

3. I have been taught and have experienced this but I choose not to allow the Word of God to influence my life (Mk 4.18-19)

The third problem is a war between values. Other things press in and distract the would be follower of Christ from devotion to His Word. The second is a matter of poor discipleship. How many Christians have started in Genesis and stopped reading at Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy? We need to do a better job of helping people navigate the scriptures. For some, a little direction and encouragement would be very helpful. And the first is a result of not reading or reading for intellect’s sake only. I believe that teaching a person to look for personal application is key to personal experience.

But there is also the intangible part of disciplemaking. When a follower of Jesus seeks Him in the scriptures, Christ reveals Himself to them. Suddenly the Bible comes alive and now has practical advantage for living (Heb 4.12, 2 Tim 3.16).
If you are seeking Christ in the scriptures daily, press on. Your reward is in the process. But to those who are not, you are robbing yourselves of true spiritual transformation and a deep abiding life with Jesus. Find someone to walk with you daily through the Bible until you gain the strength to read on your own.




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Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Parable of a US Army Aviator

One of the great things about my job with the Navigators is to travel to different posts and encourage folks in different ministries. This week I visited Fort Rucker, Home of Army Aviation. WO-1 Siggy Santos shared an excellent devotional at their Thursday Night Bible Study. He drew parallels between flying a helicopter and living a fruitful Christian life. Great devo.















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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 14) - The Word of God: Essential


But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"
(Matthew 4:4)


As we looked at the role of each person of the Trinity, I compare them to the mechanics in the repair shop. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each have specific roles in the restoration process. And just as a mechanic would use tools to restore a wrecked vehicle, so the persons of the Trinity use tools to restore individuals to the original image of God.


The first tool that comes to my mind is the Word of God. Jesus taught the Word of God was more important to Him than His very food (Mt 4.4). He uses God's Word to sanctify his disciples and change their lives (Jn 17.6,8,17). He saw the Word of God as such a critical factor in the restoration process that He didn't speak his own words but only the words the Father (Jn 12.49).


When it comes to original design, the Word of God facilitates transformation at the deepest levels. His Word can reveal our deepest motives and intentions (Heb 4.12). It guides and leads us on the path of God's desire for our lives (Ps 119.105).The Father designed us to do good works (Eph 2.10). The word of God repairs us in such a way we are able to perform good works (2 Tim 3.16-17).


The word of God is the mind of God. In order for us to fully understand who God is and become like Him, we must be saturated with His Word (Deut 6.5-9). And it is not enough to simply know the Word of God. We must be actively applying it in our day-to-day lives (Jm 1.22). The Bible is far from just ink and paper. Aside from the Trinity itself, the Word of God is our best hope to achieving complete restoration.


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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Illustration - My Plan, His Plan, God's Plan

The Key to successful discipleship is lining up the three plans;

To save the illustration to your own computer or to print, right click on the illustration...


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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Testimony 6: The Geographical Solution Fails

Chapter 6

Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, But a man of understanding walks straight.
(Proverbs 15:21)

I reported to the 2nd Ranger Battalion as a young Specialist. As I entered the orderly room, I got my first look at Ranger life. Two Platoon Sergeants were wrestling on the floor and the First Sergeant was sitting on the desk as the referee in the fight. Of course when I enter the room, I drew a lot of attention because I wasn’t wearing camouflaged ripstop fatigues (at that time only special operations units wore them as their duty uniform). My solid OD green appearance created a new scuffle between the two men on the floor. Which platoon sergeant would get the newbie? I was quickly escorted to my new room and told I would be starting the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) in the morning. No sooner had I dropped my bags then my new Team Leader entered the room. “Do you smoke pot?” he asked abruptly. Of course what other answer would be appropriate in my new unit. And what a strange way to greet the new “wantabe.” NO, Sergeant” I replied standing at a rigid position of parade rest. He looked in to my eyes with the most serious look I have ever seen on a man’s face. In a low growl he said, “Well, if you nark on us, we’ll kill you.” And he walked out of the room. I was right back where I started. My geographical solution didn’t work.

Chapter 1: The Beginning
Chapter 2: Jesus is Watching You
Chapter 3: Paratrooper Religion
Chapter 4: Afraid of being Left Behind
Chapter 5: The Geographical Solution
Chapter 6: The Geographical Solution Fails
Chapter 7: The Seed is Planted

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 13) - The Holy Spirit:His Work


"He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you."
(John 16:14)


First and foremost, the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the Son of God and bring glory to Him (Jn 15.26, Jn 16.7-8,14). This makes perfect sense when we keep the restoration process in mind. Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, is the model for mankind to be restored to the image of God. The Holy Spirit is the Parakletos (Gk), “One who comes alongside” to help the disciple become like Jesus. Yet, I have seen individuals and ministries make the Holy Spirit the center piece of their teaching and practice. I believe this is a subtle error that distracts from God’s full intent. Notice that even the Father puts the focus on the Son for our sake (Mk 1.11, Mt 17.5, 28.18). It is not my goal to pit the members of the Trinity one against the other, but for the purpose of restoration, the focus must be on Christ (Jn 14.6). This emphasis on the Son by the other two members of the Godhead is not an issue of rank but one of clarity. Jesus is our clearest example of what God intended for mankind in the original image (Gen 1.26-27).


The Holy Spirit also guides us into truth and teaches us (Jn 14.16-17,26, 16.13) by illuminating the Scriptures and assisting us in prayer (Rom 8.26). As He helps us in the process of becoming like Jesus and the image is being restored, we begin to exhibit the fruit of the original image: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5.22-23). The Holy Spirit also distributes spiritual gifts to the Body for mutual edification and the advancement of God’s Kingdom (1 Co 12). As a result we begin to function as the community that God originally intended.

And the Holy Spirit gives us power to be Jesus’ witnesses (Ac 1.8). This is the reproductive aspect of the image of God and we will discuss this at a later point.


As I stated previously, the Holy Spirit’s role should never be minimized. Without His influence and power, discipleship is not possible. We do well to submit to Him and allow Him to abide in us without resistance or restraint (1 Sam 16.13, Eph 4.30, 5.18, Gal 5.16, 1 Thes 5.19).


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Illustration - The Components of Suffering

One of the things I find young disciples need is a good theology of suffering. And they need it before they start suffering because it's a whole lot easier to form logical convictions before you are in pain. We know that it’s not a matter of if a person will suffer; it’s a matter of when.








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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 12) - The Holy Spirit: Indwelling


Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16)


As we continue in our discussion about the Holy Spirit’s role in the restoration process, we must acknowledge there is much confusion in Christendom today. Our personal convictions on this doctrine affect how we disciple young believers.


I believe every true born-again follower of Jesus is indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8.9). I believe upon conversion, a disciple is baptized with the Holy Spirit (Ac 2.38, 10.47, 11.16-17, Rom 8.9). I also believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit can be two separate events (Ac 2.4, Ac 13.52 NASB). But in these beliefs, I choose not to wrangle with my Pentecostal or Fundamental brethren. We all agree the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit is essential to every believer's transformation in pursuing the image of God (1 Cor 3.18, 12.13, Rom 8.9).


However, there are two grave errors in Christianity today regarding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. One is to focus on the Holy Spirit and his supporting role as primarily an emotional event rather than a life-changing agent. I find many who are so “filled with the Holy Ghost” on Sunday bear no evidence of the Holy Spirit's transforming power during the rest of the week (1 Cor 3.11-17, 14.7-11,26, 2 Cor 3.18).


The second error is just as dangerous. Some fundamental Christians, in reaction to the abuses of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, have completely discounted any role or function of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life. Jesus give a very stern warning against such an abuse (Mk 3.28-29).


The Holy Spirit abides in every authentic believer and is the true power for real transformation (2 Cor 3.18, Gal 5.22-23).


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 11) - The Holy Spirit: The Breath of Life


I've been talking a lot about the role that Jesus Christ plays in restoring us to the original image of God. To summarize, first, He is the only perfect example of both morality and ministry. Second, there are many methods in both group sizes and tools that we use to help people follow His example. And last, we are responsible for using the techniques that are effective in helping others become like Him. The bottom line is that He is the only adequate model we have in order to rebuild the original image (Col 1.15, Heb 1.3). The restoration process requires us to continuously examine Christ’s life and conform ours lives to His. This is true discipleship.


So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Cor 3.18 NLT)


We discussed two persons of the Trinity: the Father and the Son; now I'd like to talk about the Holy Spirit's role in the restoration process. First, we need to recognize the parallel between God breathing into his nostrils of Adam (Gen 2.7) and the Holy Spirit being our spiritual breath of life. The powerful residence of the Holy Spirit is promised with Jesus’ arrival by John the Baptist (Mt 3.11, 1 Cor 3.16). Jesus alludes to the Holy Spirit’s coming in the future (Jn 7.37-39). Then in John chapter 20, He breathes on them and they receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20.22). As the breath of God filled Adam's lungs so the breath of Jesus filled the spiritual lungs of the apostles with the Holy Spirit. The regeneration of the Spirit is the only means for the beginnings of real spiritual transformation (Titus 3.5). The Holy Spirit is the power for every believer to live life in the original image of God (2 Cor 3.18).

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chuck's Bio

Chuck was born in San Francisco, California in 1959

He started following Jesus Christ in December 1979 as a young soldier in the US Army.

He served 29 years as an Infantryman and Chaplain in the US Army. 

Chuck is married to Deb and has two sons, Chuck and Wes

Chuck and Deb have been making disciples in Christ for over 30 years and continue to minister to men and women across the nation by helping them start their own Disciple-Making Communities (DMCs).

All to the glory of Christ Jesus his Savior and Lord

To read Chuck's Testimony click on the link below:

You can contact Chuck at: Charleswood1@gmail.com




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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Testimony 5: The Geographical Solution

Chapter 5

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. (PSALM 139:7-10)


But things did change. They changed for the worse. I was feeling pretty good about myself as a soldier but my activities with my friends were beginning to impact my life in a negative way. We were doing things that the Army frowned on. (Not a lot of detail because I don't want to give my sons any bright ideas.) You know the kind of stuff privates do and normally get themselves booted out of the Army. Well, I was having fun but I knew I was eventually going to wind up in big trouble. So I had a better idea. I thought "If I get away from these characters, it will solve my problems." Ah, yes. The geographical solution. Don't change your behavior, run away. Change your location. So I pushed to be assigned to a Special Operations Unit (like I had asked my recruiter in the first place!) and I figured that the hard core, Hooah ranger guys would never think about doing the things my buds and I were doing. After much paperwork, a Ranger recruiting team, and the promise of the XVIII Airborne Corps Commander ( I was too young to realize that when a General says to a young Recondo school graduate, "If there's anything I can do for you, boy, let me know," he was just making conversation.) I found myself at the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Ft. Lewis, WA.

Chapter 1: The Beginning
Chapter 2: Jesus is Watching You
Chapter 3: Paratrooper Religion
Chapter 4: Afraid of being Left Behind
Chapter 5: The Geographical Solution
Chapter 6: The Geographical Solution Fails



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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 10) – The Restoration Process: Dangers


Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?
(Mark 12:24)


At this point many of you may be becoming uncomfortable. And probably rightfully so. Or some of you may be asking, “why are you belaboring this point.” The fact of the matter is that there are two extremes in the discipleship camp.


On one extreme, discipleship has become so compartmentalized that only one technique is acceptable and they are in grave danger of becoming like the Pharisees (Mt 15.3, Col 2.16-23). Now there is no room for creativity, the gifts of the body, or even God himself to do His work. The other extreme is so loosey-goosey that it lacks any form of intentionality and those being discipled lack for spiritual nutrition. These are in grave danger of becoming mystics without substance (Eph 4.14, Col 2.8, 1 Tim 4.7-8)


I believe the Scriptures and Jesus’ ministry provide plenty of room for difference and yet provide the intentionality required to see real transformation in people's lives. Let me give you an example. There are those who rely heavily on illustrations (drawings used to explain biblical principles) and those who do not like to use them at all in their ministries. I would say that this is a personal preference and probably has something to do with their gifting and the reception of the disciples that they are presently ministering to. But to say illustrations are wrong would completely fly in the face Jesus’ ministry. His parables were spoken illustrations in order to communicate spiritual concepts. Illustrations are simply a technique, they are an amoral method. But for one to say that illustrations are the only way to disciple men and women would put limits on God's work, individual gifting, and different learning styles.


However , we must acknowledge that some techniques work better than others with certain people and settings. To fail to acknowledge this lacks integrity. I'm not saying that we are to do whatever works, but if it falls in the realm of biblical truth or example, then by all means, we ought to use a technique that is effective. But it's really not about the technique at all. It's about the effect. Are the techniques and methods we are using actually helping people to transform their lives into the image of Christ? Are they returning to the original image of God that he designed?


The task of discipleship is to help people become like Jesus. There are many techniques we can use in order to accomplish this task but the techniques should never drive the task. The task always drives the techniques. Therefore, we need to use methods that are effective in helping people become like Jesus.


Normally, it's a combination of many methods that help people grow in their relationship of Christ. The two dangers that I see are one, people zeroing in on a technique and then dogmatically defining that technique as discipleship. Or two, using methods of “discipleship” that do not actually help a person follow Christ and then blindly practicing them without ever asking the question; “is this working?”
Consider this one of “Chuck’s Soap Boxes”


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Monday, November 24, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 9) – The Restoration Process: Tools and Techniques


According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-11)



We have been talking about techniques that have to do with the number of people that are being discipled at any given time. Let's press on to the various tools that may be used in order to help a person become like Jesus.


One of the most common tools used is a curriculum that focuses on the basic disciplines of the Christian life. This is a great tool but it does not cover all the venues that help a person follow Christ. Let me challenge your thinking. When a person listens to a sermon and he is moved into his heart and his thinking to become more like Jesus, is he not being discipled? The answer is obviously yes. So a sermon is an acceptable tool for discipling people.


Can a person be discipled by someone who's dead? This sounds a little squarely, but think about all the authors that have written tremendous books about following Jesus. Many of us have been mentored by people like DL Moody, Hudson Taylor, Dawson Trotman, and Bill Bright. Are they not part of the disciplemaking process? We could even include the writers of Scripture as some of our primary disciplers.


And what about music? Does it inspire us to follow Christ more closely, to become like Him? In the Middle Ages music and art were the primarily tools used to disciple people who were mostly illiterate.


I would submit to you, that anything that helps us follow Jesus and become like him, is an acceptable tool or method for discipleship. But remember the tool or technique must have its effect. If my methods are not helping people to follow Christ more effectively, then I need to change my methods.


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 8) – The Restoration Process: One-on-One Discipleship


Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
(John 3:1-2)


We were discussing the fact that Jesus discipled people in many group sizes from one-on-one to the masses. So why am I so big on one-on-one discipleship? It has everything to do with effect. My goal is to help someone become like Jesus. Eloquent speakers may be able to help people know what they ought to do but I find a sermon will usually fall short of application. Modern American Christianity is filled with Christians who know a lot. But that is not the objective in becoming a follower of Christ, knowledge is not enough. Jesus expresses this in his Parable of the Foundation (Lk 6.46-49). The man who builds his house on the rock is like a man who hears the word and applies it. James, the brother of Jesus, expresses the same principle. He says that we should “not be merely hearers who were but doers of the word” (Jm 1.22). Jesus, in His Great Commission, instructs His apostles to teach in such a way that the would be disciple will apply, obey, observe, all that He has commanded (Mt 28.18-20). Teaching about Jesus is not enough. We must help people become like Jesus by doing the things He did.

In the diagram you see four levels of ministry; congregational, sub congregational, small groups, one-on-one. The top part of the triangle represents the number of people that you can teach at each level. Although at the congregational level has the highest attendance and is most expedient, it generally produces the least amount of application. But as we move down the triangle to small groups and one-on-one, the likelihood of application increases significantly. I believe there is greater application at the bottom for several different reasons. One is accountability. It's hard to hide when you are nose to nose, looking someone in the eyes and ask an application question. But in the congregation setting, for a pastor to point someone out and ask “Hey Bob! How are you doing with that lust problem?” is totally inappropriate. Another reason why one-on-one is so effective, is because it's highly relational and the curriculum can be adapted to the individual's needs. As I enter into a one-on-one relationship one of my first questions is “How can I help you?” In the congregational and sub congregational settings I have to make assumptions on what’s most helpful to the people that I'm addressing. Finally, I practice one-on-one discipleship because almost anyone can do it and it is highly reproducible. I do not need to be a gifted speaker or preacher. I simply need to be relational and know enough of the Scriptures to encourage another to follow Jesus.

So my preference for a discipleship method is one-on-one but this does not mean that people cannot be discipled at the other levels of ministry. Jesus discipled people at all four levels. I have personally experienced discipleship at all four levels. But after seeing the results of any particular technique, it would stand to reason that a person would use the method that would cause the most effect. And unless a person is called to a particular ministry, it would seem both biblical and logical to use the methods that are most effective. At times the techniques are dictated by gifting or individual preference, but I think we ought to take our cues from Jesus ministry. When you evaluate Jesus ministry, you also see a greater effect in the 12 apostles and the one-on-one encounters that He has. This argument is not to make the case that one-on-one discipleship is the only way to disciple men and women. That is exactly what I am trying to avoid. I believe we greatly benefit from all four levels of ministry. But if you're not seeing the results of people following Jesus zealously in your own personal ministry, I would consider changing your technique. The goal is not the method, the goal is to help people become like Jesus and restore the original image.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 7) – The Restoration Process: Discipleship Continued

And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles…Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, (Luke 6:13,17)

Yesterday I talked about the definitions of discipleship as a process of following Jesus and becoming like Him. I also tried to illuminate from the gospel of John how evangelism is part of discipleship. Today I want to talk about the methods of discipleship (or the methods of becoming like Jesus).
For the last 80 years of modern American Christianity, much has been said and written about discipleship. Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigator's, was instrumental in developing tools and techniques for discipleship. Various para-church and local church organizations have adopted and adapted many of these methods for their ministers. And although these tools and methods are very helpful they are not the centerpiece of the discipleship process. The centerpiece of discipleship is becoming like Jesus and therefore any tool or technique that helps me to do so is fair game.

Let me illustrate. Navigators have put a premium on one-on-one discipleship. Is this the only technique for discipling men and women? As we look to Jesus’ ministry the obvious answer is no. Men and women were becoming Jesus’ disciples in various sizes and group settings. In Luke 6.12-17, we see three distinct people groups; the 12 apostles, a large crowd of disciples, and a great throng of people. The group that I'm most concerned with for this discussion is the middle group, the large crowd of disciples. The question must be asked; how did this large crowd of disciples become disciples? The answer is primarily through Jesus’ teaching in a large group setting.

But he also chose the 12 because he wanted to spend significant time with them in order to train them as apostles. He formed a small group in order to be more effective. Later in John chapter 21, when Jesus is exhorting Peter, Jesus speaks to him man-to-man. Jesus wanted to make sure that Peter got the message so he speaks to him one-on-one. Jesus uses this technique for effect.

So we can observe from Jesus’ ministry that He had different levels of discipleship. I separate these levels into four distinct groups; congregation, sub congregation, small groups, and one-on-one. It should not escape our notice that the effects of becoming like Jesus increase as groups get smaller. But this does not negate the fact that Jesus was able to help people follow him and become disciples in large groups.






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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Restoring the Image (Part 6) – The Restoration Process: Discipleship


And He *said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
(Matthew 4:19)


Yesterday we discussed the importance of why we need to follow Jesus and become like Him. Today, I will make the case that the act of following Jesus and becoming like Him can be summed up with one word; discipleship. When Jesus calls men and women to follow Him they become his disciples and the process of becoming a disciple is called discipleship. But this is not necessarily our contemporary understanding of discipleship. Modern Christianity has boiled discipleship down to a program. We have books, Wednesday night programs, and even people trained to do discipleship.


Discipleship cannot be relegated to an hour a week or pressed into the pages of a book. We have become so indoctrinated in this way of thinking that our definitions of discipleship have actually limited our understanding of what it means to be Christ’s disciple. Our definitions are mostly derived by our methods or techniques rather than the person we are trying to become like. We need to go back to the gospels for our definition. It is a lifestyle of becoming like Jesus and anything that facilitates that process can be called discipleship. If discipleship is following Jesus then anything that helps me to follow Jesus is discipleship.


Let me develop this argument around evangelism. Can a person be a disciple of Jesus and not be a convert? Yes. Let me rephrase the question: can a person follow Jesus and not be a Christian? Many did and were called disciples. We have clear examples of this in John chapter 6 where we see people following Jesus prior to their conversion. They were called disciples. When Jesus makes the statement, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. (John 6:53) the gospel writer notes that “many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” (John 6.66)

Later in the chapter Jesus points out that even Judas was a disciples who did not experience conversion. But the fact remains that these people were actively following Jesus and defined as disciples by the apostle John. They were disciples in the sense that they were investigating who Jesus was. I call this pre-conversion discipleship (in other words pre-salvation followers of Jesus).


A person's conversion does not normally come in a nice neat package. Usually conversion happens when a person is introduced to Jesus and considers who He is and surrenders their lives to him as both Savior and Lord. This process takes time. Certainly, an individual can become a true Christian in 15 minutes but that is not usually the case. Under normal circumstances, it takes an individual days, months, or even years to understand the redemptive work of Jesus and make an intelligent decision to make Him Lord of their lives. I believe that this pre-conversion process is just as much discipleship as what happens after a person becomes a Christian. So this would make evangelism (the act of informing and persuading a person to become a follower of Christ) a part of discipleship.


This has a huge impact on the way we do evangelism. Now, instead of trying to get a person to pray a prayer, we are simply introducing them to Jesus. We are not trying to get them to make a statement of faith; we are trying to help them follow Jesus. And this was how Jesus practiced evangelism. He simply asked people to follow him and as they followed him, they became convinced that he was the Messiah. Or, in instances of disbelief they stopped following Him and were not converted.


Still not convinced? Let me phrase it this way; what part of conversion is not a part of following Christ? No part. On the other hand, what part of following Christ is not a component of conversion? Many parts (Lordship, giving, practice of spiritual gifts, etc.). It is important for us to gain a biblical understanding of discipleship in order to keep from compartmentalizing the process of following Jesus.


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