Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Application of Truth and Grace

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Key Passages for Family and Marriage

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Balance for the Family and Lordship

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith Illustration

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? (The Deity of Jesus Christ)

Read Jn 5.17-47

But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
(John 5:17-18)

An assumed violation of the Sabbath led the people to question Jesus. His response led to another infraction; making oneself equal with God. The first was a breach, not of the Law but of man’s tradition. The second was the not a crime because it was the truth. He is God.

When Jesus is confronted about working on the Sabbath, He makes a very bold statement. He was so bold that the people wanted to kill Him. He made Himself out to be one with God the Father. Instead of stepping back and letting things settle, He stirs the waters even more. Jesus does not deny their claims, He confirms them. He makes it abundantly clear that it was no slip of the tongue but that He really believed He and the Father where one. He makes His case for being Deity:

· One in duration of work vs17
· One in work vs19
· One in love vs20
· One in life vs21, 26
· One in authority vs22, 27
· One in honor vs23
· One in Word vs24
· One in intent vs30

Now what does the Deity of Jesus Christ have to do with discipleship? Everything! Would you want to follow a man who made himself out to be an equal with God if He was not? Besides, Jesus flat out makes the case that belief in this oneness with the Father is directly connected to our salvation (Jn 5.21, 24). As Disciplemakers it is imperative that we help people follow the real Jesus. This identity crisis of Jesus in our modern world is as dangerous as it was in days leading up to the cross. People have manufactured their own “jesus” and think that this poor facsimile will somehow save them. This is why it’s so important to get a young disciple in the Gospels on a consistent basis (I recommend daily). To worship anyone less than the Jesus of the scriptures is idolatry. FJ64

I will be out of internet contact for the next week so I’ve pre-loaded some illustrations for your perusal. They’ll be posted each day. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Whistle Blower

Read Jn 5.1-16

But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus *found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.
(John 5:13-16)

After the man had been healed by Jesus from a 38 year illness he is confronted by the religious people. He was carrying his mat on the Sabbath (which Jesus had told him to do vs 8) and after being questioned about the “violation” he pins the infraction on Jesus.

Why did this man rat out Jesus? Wasn’t he grateful for what Jesus had done? Perhaps the man wasn’t ratting Him out. Maybe he thought he was doing a good thing by telling the religious people what they wanted to know. After all, Jesus did tell the man not to sin any more or something worse would happen. Unfortunately, we are left to speculate why the man felt compelled to go back to the religious people and inform them that it was Jesus. But regardless of the man’s motives, the result is clear; they began persecuting Jesus.

This is one of the cold hard facts of ministry; Not everyone you help or train will be appreciative, responsive, or enduring. Actually, some people may even become your enemies. But why should we be surprised? It happened to Jesus all the time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it was one of the 12 that betrayed Him. But Jesus never stopped helping people. He never gave up on the 12 when they let Him down or did something stupid. As Disciplemakers we must become accustomed to failure (including our own). It is part of ministering in a lost world. One of my favorite Proverbs is “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4). In farming there is Ox poo and with people there is people poo. Whether the offences are intentional or not, ministry is messy. And by the way, unlike Jesus, we are not perfect Disciplemakers. So sometimes we are the poo. But the benefits far outweigh the problems. Disciplemaking is a life of forbearance, forgiveness, understanding, and endurance. Keep Pluggin’.

Tips for Messes in Ministry:

· Failure is often a great teacher
· Confess your sins to the people you are discipling
· Do not put yourself or anyone else on a pedestal
· Take the moral high ground when offended
· Be quick to forgive
· Make a clear distinction in your own mind between helping and training
· You can help many but train few


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Process

Read John 5.1-9

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus *said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk."
(John 5:6-8)

Jesus comes upon a man by a miraculous pool waiting to be healed when an angel stirs it. He asks the man if he wants to be well and then heals him.

Doesn’t it seem a little cruel that God would send an angel just at a certain season to stir the waters and then only heal the first person in the pool? Just one person! It’s kind of like a spiritual lotto!? But these circumstances produce desperateness for the man. It creates greater need. He had been in his condition for 38 long years. And to put a cherry on top of this hot miserable sundae, Jesus asks this question, “Do you wish to get well?” Can you feel the tension in the air? Do you hear these circumstances coming to a crescendo? God has a plan. The plan often takes time for the situations to develop to create the perfect environment for God to receive all the glory. Our job is to be patient and persistent in the process. Both require unwavering faith. The answer is often found in the process not the results. As I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I realize that first; God did not spare me from this disease. Second; He did not heal me immediately when I prayed for it. And third; My MS is a process that will ultimately bring Him glory. My job is to trust Him and respond appropriately.

I believe that part of our job as Disciplemakers is to help followers of Jesus develop a good theology of suffering. No one avoids the trials and tribulations of this life. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” And how we respond to suffering will determine how we relate to the Father and others. Here’s an illustration I developed in order to communicate our response to suffering. FJ62

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Read Mt 9.14-17, Mk 2.18-22, Lk 5.33-39

And He was also telling them a parable: "No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. "But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. "And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.'" (Luke 5:36-39)

After being questioned, Jesus describes the Pharisees’ root problem; they were stuck in the old ways and could not embrace the new. They were unteachable.

A disciple is a learner. Teachability is a primary characteristic that Jesus is looking for in His followers. The disciple must remain pliable and alert to the new lessons the Father brings into his life. One of the common mistakes for young disciples is that they often reinforce new found knowledge with rebar and concrete only to dig up many of these “convictions” later. Ultimately, the Word of God is their authority not a Disciplemaker. They must always stand ready to change based on the new information they get from the Word of God (Act 17.11).

This principle applies to Disciplemakers as well. We should be setting the pace for younger disciples by increasing in knowledge, wisdom, and application. We model the art of teachability by becoming lifelong learners, eager to seek Jesus on new levels and different angles. As Howard Hendricks says, “The disciple who has stopped learning has stopped living.”

Teachability is also a primary consideration for me in determining whom I will engage in a mentoring relationship. My resources are limited. I can only mentor so many people. If a person is unwilling to learn and apply the principles I am teaching, it is a waste of God given resources (Notice I said mentoring not helping. Jesus helped many, He mentored few). I am looking for hungry people. I feed based on appetite. Jamming food down someone’s throat usually just makes a mess. I have another saying, “You can’t push a rope.” The disciple must be willing to learn.

Tips for Teachability:
· Set the example of being a lifelong learner
· Challenge learning but don’t force learning
· Let people simmer if they need to
· Always have the radar up for the teachable moment
· Help disciples learn from different people and sources
· Ask a lot of questions
· Leave room for self discovery
· Recognize there are different techniques (you may learn something!)


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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Disciplines and Motives

Read Mt 9.14-17, Mk 2.18-22, Lk 5.33-39

Mat 9.14 Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" 15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

The Disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees want to know why Jesus’ disciples are not practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting. They considered fasting a key element to spirituality.

Jesus can always turn ritual into reality, religion into relationship. John’s disciples and the Pharisees had fallen into the trap of dead religion. They were practicing spiritual disciplines for the sake of the disciplines themselves rather than developing their relationship with God. They were, quite frankly, checking the blocks. Jesus draws the distinction between practicing a good spiritual discipline in the wrong way. Fasting, according to Jesus, is inappropriate when the one you desire to relate to is physically with you. It is a time of celebration and joy. As one would not put on sack cloth and ashes for a wedding, neither should one be fasting in the very presence of the Jesus. But there would come a time where fasting would be very appropriate, when the Bridegroom (Jesus) is taken away.

The principle for disciplemaking is quite clear. Jesus acknowledges that the disciplines are important but how and why they are practiced, are just as important. As we instruct young disciples on the practices of being in the Word, prayer, fellowship, sharing the faith, worship, and yes, even fasting, we need to add instruction on the importance of the objective of the discipline. To have a Quiet Time for the sake of just having one or to be able to share some finding with another is not the intended affect (although this may be where a person begins). Ultimately, all spiritual disciplines should lead us to loving God and loving people. Anything less is to completely miss the purpose of the disciplines and to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees.

This is a very tricky area for the disciplemaker. We are venturing into the very murky waters of motives. Some would completely throw the disciplines out because they are being practiced for the wrong reasons. This is like never going outside because you got sunburned once. In my opinion this is as dangerous as practicing the disciplines with bad motives. The young disciple may now be completely cut off from the very source that is able to transform their motives (example - Heb 4.12). On the other hand, if a disciple is not called into accountability as to why they are practicing the disciplines (which Jesus did all the time), then they are practicing all for not (example - Jn 5.39). This is why disciplemaking is a process of helping people become like Jesus and not a six week program. It is a growth process of transformation into Christ’s likeness and not just practicing spiritual disciplines. FJ60

Tips for helping people practice the disciplines for the right reason:
· Pray for them
· Share not only the How but the Why
· Don’t keep count (verses memorized, minutes in prayer, times read the Bible)
· Ask the person why they practice the disciplines
· Watch for spiritual pride and confront it
· Set the example
· Share your own short comings in the area
· Recognize that the disciple is in process (Motives mature as well)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

To End the Comparison Game

Read Mat 9.9-13, Mk 2.13-17, Lk 5.27-32

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me." And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
(Luke 5:27-28)

Jesus calls Matthew the Tax Collector to be part of His evangelistic team.

Can you imagine what enlisting Matthew did to the team dynamics? We know how this addition of a social pariah affected the religious leaders, the Pharisees. They didn’t even try to conceal their distain of such an association. But what impact would this have on His closest disciples? No doubt the Fishermen had paid their taxes to Matthew at some point in time as he was taxing commerce along the road near the Sea of Galilee. And yet Jesus takes this huge risk. Why? It is obvious that this was not only meant for Matthew’s personal relationship with Jesus but also to send a clear message. He would accept anyone who would follow Him in repentance and sincerity (Act 10.34-35, Rom 2.11). This underscored the striking contrast between those who need Jesus and those who think they don’t. The difference is not found in occupation, status, or even morality. The only place the real disparity exists is in their attitude. When Jesus said it is the “sick that need a physician,” He was not implying the Pharisees were not sick. They were sinners of the same caliber but just did not acknowledge it. Matthew had no trouble acknowledging He needed the physician.

As Disciplemakers, we need to help people understand that there is no such thing as an “exciting testimony.” No one’s sins got them any closer to the flames of Hell than another’s, whether it be homosexuality or white lies (Rom 3.23). And no one has received any more grace than that which was poured out by Jesus on the cross (1 Pet 3.18). In the economy of sin and grace we all stand on a level playing field. It is our attitude toward the Judge of sin and the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, which will ultimately determine our relationship with Him. Put an end to the comparison game. FJ59

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Read Mat 9.1-8, Mk 2.1-12, Lk 5.17-26

And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
(Mark 2:5)

The four men aggressively brought the paralyzed man to Jesus for a physical healing and Jesus forgives the man’s sins.

Can you imagine what a shocker this must have been?! The total bewilderment at Jesus’ words after this amazing act of boldness, audacity and faith (not to mention the destruction of private property by digging a hole in someone’s roof). Think of how awkward this moment in time must have been. The Pharisees are thrown immediately into a theological conundrum. I can imagine the disciples going into the usual “protective mode” by whispering to Jesus behind a cupped hand, “Uh…Jesus…the man’s paralyzed.” The crowd in the room, “What did he just say?” And then there’s the demolition squad and their immobile buddy looking at each other as if to say, “You’re kidding, right?” What an absolute lack of situational awareness…on every body’s part…except Jesus.

Jesus heals the man’s spiritual infirmity before He heals his physical brokenness. He very clearly spells out the priority. He came to heal man’s cancerous sin first and foremost. His primary objective was spiritual, then physical. How often do we miss this personally and as disciplemakers. God is frying bigger fish in our lives. He is trying to get to the core issues and most of the time the physical is simply a vehicle. We must learn to look behind the veil of the physical and ask, “What is the Holy Spirit really after in these circumstances?” If we want to be like Jesus, we need to think spiritually in the midst of a very material world.

How to think spiritual before physical
· What are the eternal implications vs the temporal
· No suffering catches God off guard
· Providing physical needs is a means to the spiritual needs
· Sin is not a trifle to Jesus, it’s fatal
· Forgiving others is priority over my comfort
· I spend time with the Father before I eat (Mt 4.4, Job 23.12)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Prayer Hand

This is a simple illustration to begin discussing the different ways to pray. I usually use it as a jumping off point to talk about how to develop a personal prayer life.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Corrections - Jesus, Man of Prayer

It was pointed out by a faithful brother that the references for the illustration were wrong. Here's the corrections

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Team Discipleship

Read Mat 9.1-8, Mk 2.1-12, Lk 5.17-26

And they *came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.
(Mark 2:3-4)

Four men are so committed to their paralyzed friend that they bring him to Jesus on a stretcher. They bypass the crowd by climbing on the roof and digging a hole to lower the man down in front of the Great Physician.

To what extremes would we go to help someone? These four men loved their buddy so much that they punched a huge hole in a person’s roof! And it was a team effort, not only in carrying their paralyzed friend to the Savior but in their faith that Jesus could heal him. Three key ingredients are seen in this instance that led to healing and salvation; faith, commitment, and team work. As disciplemakers, do we corporately believe that Jesus can change lives? Do our heads, hearts, and hands work together with confidence in the Messiah’s ability to heal people? Are we mutually committed to people and the process beyond expedience and comfort? Do we press through the many obstacles that litter the battle field of following Jesus for another person’s sake? Are we part of a disciplemaking team that is dedicated to restoring someone to spiritual health? Do we leverage the synergy of TEAM for the sake of an individual or are we a “lone ranger disciplemaker?”

Tips for developing a disciplemaking team;
· Avoid the “my man” syndrome
· Enlist others to pray for the man or woman you are discipling
· Enlist others to meet with the man or woman you are helping
· Mix it up and occasionally meet two on one
· Practice the advantages of “a discipleship community”

One summer while Jamie Fisher was helping in our ministry, he noticed we did not have “exclusive rights” on the person we were discipling. Instead, he saw the power of several people meeting one on one with a single person. He coined a new phrase which we now use to describe our team approach to helping a person follow Jesus; “Discipleship by the Village.” FJ57

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Staying in the Lines for Other’s Sake

Read Mt 8.2-4, Mk 1.40-45, Lk 5.12-16

And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
(Luke 5:13-14)

When Jesus heals the Leper He sends him to the priests. This is in keeping with the Mosaic Law (Lev 14.2-32). The priests were not so much physicians as they were to authenticate its existence or it’s healing. As the priest made his determination there were appropriate actions to be taken to insure this very contagious disease did not spread to the rest of the community and that there was the proper celebration for a real healing. Jesus commanded the man to subject himself to this part of the Law.

When Jesus healed the man’s leprosy, I’m sure He did not doubt the man was completely cured. So there was no need for this healing to be authenticated by a priest, unless Jesus was trying to send a message. I think Jesus was more concerned about communicating a greater truth rather than having a priest confirm His healing. Jesus stays within the Letter of the Law in order to help them see His identity. He uses these circumstances more as a “testimony” to them. It was meant to authenticate who Jesus was rather than a physical healing.
There are times when, for the sake of our testimony, we should "stay in the lines." We may sacrifice our personal rights and freedoms by following rules we know are not required by the Father in order to gain a hearing. The Apostle Paul expresses the same principle when he talks about eating meat scarified to idols (1 Cor 10.23-31). Rules like not drinking, smoking, wearing certain clothing, etc... are all cultural regulations rather than spiritual principles. And although we have the freedom to disregard such rules, we may stay within the “lines” in order to express a testimony to those that follow them. As a disciplemaker, are you willing to forfeit your rights to spiritual freedom in order rescue others in spiritual bondage? Jesus did. FJ56

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jesus, a Man of Prayer

This is a short devotional I use to emphasize following Jesus in prayer. As we teach the basic disciplines to young disciples (and old), it’s much more powerful to use Jesus as the example. A person who is convinced that Jesus knew how to relate to the Father will practice the same disciplines He modeled. Now prayer is a means to develop a relationship with God rather than a dry obligation to earn acceptance. If discipleship is becoming like Jesus then we need to pray like Jesus.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Risky Business

Read Mt 8.2-4, Mk 1.40-45, Lk 5.12-16

While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.
(Luke 5:12-13)

The Leper came to Jesus with an attitude of humility and faith, “if you as willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus response to him with confidence and compassion; touching the leper and saying “I am willing be cleansed.”

I am amazed at how an attitude of humility and faith will move the Son of God to respond confidently and compassionately every time. It’s almost as though these are the two irresistible traits Jesus is compelled to honor in any person. And when He does act in compassion, it seems so personal. He touched the Leper. You’re not supposed to do that. You can end up with the disease yourself. Meeting people’s needs is the risky business of the disciplemaking. What if all this guy wants is physical healing? Maybe he will become co-dependent. Perhaps he will drag me down with some hidden agenda. All these things and more can happen. But isn’t helping a person become whole in Jesus Christ worth the risk? And if we are doing ministry like Jesus we too should look for an attitude of humility and faith. These two character traits usually mitigate the risks associated with helping a people. Is there some risky person in your life who believes you can help them? Reach out and touch them.

Other questions for your meditation:

· How many people could Jesus help at one time? How many did He? Why?
· What limitations did Jesus have in helping people?
· Did Jesus ever force His help on others?
· Did Jesus challenge those who thought they didn’t need help?
· Was training the 12 Apostles a risky propitiation?


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quiet Time Illustration

As I help men and women start their devotional life I use the first three verses in the illustration as the motivation for having a Quiet Time. I emphases that the main goal is to know and become like Jesus in a personal relationship.

Secondly, I explain the mechanics of a QT as a Prayer Sandwich; Pray, Read, Pray. Initially, pray that God would give understanding and open my spiritual eyes and ears. Then I read in the scriptures looking for what the Father may speak to me personally. And then lastly, pray about what God has just showed me in the scriptures and for other concerns.

I generally do not tell them how to have a QT but show them. I actually pray, read the first chapter of Mark, have them put their finger on something that jumped out of the Word at them. Then we pray about that one thing got from the scriptures and a few family members and friends. It's takes between 8 to 10 minutes.

I have found this to be the number one spiritual discipline in every godly man or woman's life. It has certainly been the chief method for my personal transformation into Christ-likeness.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Don’t be a Ministry Hog

Read Lk 5.1-11

And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
(Luke 5:3)

To avoid being pressed by the crowd, Jesus asks Peter if He could borrow His boat. Peter complies by assisting the Master. Jesus can now teach the crowds at a comfortable distance and Peter was able to participate in His ministry.

It can go unnoticed with a cursory reading but my friend Jim Cameron picked this up in a Quiet Time recently. It’s a Discipler’s simple act of great significance, ask for help. Jesus asked to use Peter’s boat. He provided Peter with an opportunity to participate in a very important event, the Rabbi’s teaching. This may seem trivial to the untrained eye but it has huge ramifications in relationship and ministry. I think most people want to be helpful, Christian or non. Asking for assistance can actually lead to a deeper level of relationship and trust. Peter didn’t seem to hesitate with the Rabbi’s request to use his boat. In fact, this was Peter’s first opportunity to demonstrate his allegiance to the Messiah. Often times we think, as Disciplemakers, we should be doing all the work and never asking for assistance. This would be a big mistake. Not even the Messiah had the “Messiah Complex.” If we don’t ask for help, we rob people of their chance to serve and more importantly miss a key opportunity to integrate them into ministry. This is also a way to prevent the “Hired Gun” syndrome where the clergy do all the ministry because they have been to cemetery…ah, I mean seminary. You’ve probably seen guys in sports who always want the ball. We call them “ball hogs.” If we aren’t careful we could do the same thing in ministry.
Tips for integrating people into ministry;
· When asked if they can help, say yes
· Start with small requests
· Delegate components of ministry
· Don’t do anything by yourself
· Affirm others as you speak and teach
· Get out of the way, let someone else do something
· Give feed back
· Always thank the person (publically, if you can)

Can you think of other ways to integrate people into ministry? Email me with your ideas. FJ54

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Avoiding the Extremes

Read Mt 4.23-24, Mk 1.35-39, Lk 4.42-44

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.
(Matthew 4:23-24)

The main of objective of Jesus’ job description was to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. His method was healing and exercising people as He went. It was not His preaching that attracted most people, it was the secondary purpose of helping people that brought them out. He did not hesitate in healing their physical infirmities but He was mostly concerned for their spiritual brokenness. So the Kingdom message was always coupled with His service. Mark and Luke pick up on the Kingdom focus in their respective accounts.

Satan is the great mover of the pendulum to its extremes. I’ve seen people cross the oceans to help needy people who are unwilling to serve in their community. I’ve seen “Christian” deeds being done where not one spiritual word is said, not even the name of Jesus for fear that it will offend. I’ve witnessed the “be warm, be filled” that James talks about (Jam 2.16), and people with legitimate needs are turned away. I’ve watched the gospel be used as a weapon to repel the undesirable. How have I been so close to such spiritual atrocities? I am the one who committed them! Satan has a way of taking good and turning it into bad and I am often his vehicle. Watching Jesus share the Kingdom of God with others while serving them is the antidote to the extremes. Following His example keeps me from neglecting a person’s real needs while being able to address the main need, knowing Christ.

Tips for a balanced approach to sharing the Gospel

· Be an aggressive servant
· Keep your eyes open to people in need
· Don’t cross the ocean until you cross the street
· Have both first aid kits ready (Physical and Spiritual)
· Do not dress people in tuxedos to send them to Hell
· Give the reason for your kindness, Jesus
· Use the Word of God to salt your conversation
· Save some for tomorrow
· Use heart, brain, feet, hands, and mouth for the Kingdom

“The lifestyle without the Word is a mystery; the Word without the lifestyle is hypocrisy.” Chuck Swindoll

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Monday, September 08, 2008

All in a Day’s Work

Read Mat 8.14-17, Mk 1.29-34, Lk 4.38-41

Jesus begins His day by teaching in the synagogue and casting out a demon. (Mark 1.21-26) After church, which apparently lasted into the afternoon, He heals a Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8.5-13) and Peter’s mother-in-law. (Mark 1.29-31) By sundown the whole city is at the door waiting to see Dr. Jesus. (Mark 1.32-34) He heals many so it probably went late into the night. Before the crack of dawn, He was out of the house getting some time alone with the Father. (Mark 1.35) And probably about sun up His disciples find Him and inform Him the town’s people are looking for Him for another day at the clinic. He presses on to the next town and starts the whole process over again.

Our Lord sets an amazing example in work ethic. I’ve tried to keep this kind of pace in disciplemaking but couldn’t! He exhibited an incredible capacity and endurance in His day to day work of serving. Although we would probably fall short if we tried to keep up, I think there is a lesson for us here. Work hard in the Kingdom. Sometime I think we treat our relationship with God or our ministry like a hobby, strictly entertainment. We would certainly stay late if the boss asked us to or work up a good sweat playing basketball with the guys. Why not put a little sweat on the brow working in the Father’s vineyard? Consider the following questions:

· Ever miss a meal for the sake of disciplemaking?
· Up early or to bed late in order to help someone?
· Change your plans with family to talk to someone in need?
· Are interruptions an opportunity for ministry or an inconvenience?

If these are happening on a regular basis, welcome to the Kingdom work. You are becoming like more Jesus.
(Don’t worry we’ll talk about rest too)

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Temple Illustration

A fellowship illustration showing levels of influence others should have in your life.

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com

Knowledge is not Enough

Read Mk 1.21-28, Lk 4.31b-37

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!"
(Luke 4:33-34)

The demons acknowledge Jesus on every level. They recognize Him as Lord having the power to command them and punish them. They call Him by His personal name, Jesus of Nazareth, acknowledging both His humanity and His fulfillment of scripture. (Mt 2.23) Finally, they say that they “know” He is the Holy One of God, the coming Messiah (the Christ) acknowledging His deity.

The demons knew Jesus better than most Christians. But the Disciples of Jesus possess more than knowledge, they have embraced Him as their way of life. They are adherents in faith and practice. Jesus has changed not only their intellect, but their actions. A disciple is being transformed by the same knowledge that the demons had. The demons, on the other hand, are doomed not because of their lack of knowledge but because of their rebellion against the King of kings. (Jam 2.19) As Disciplemakers we must discern that knowledge without action falls far short of Jesus’ intent for our lives. (Lk 6.46-49) Everything we encourage a young disciple to know about Jesus should have its ultimate end in a changed life. Being and doing can never be separated from truly knowing Him. (2 Cor 13.5) FJ51

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Authority: Confidence in the Father

Read Mk 1.21-28, Lk 4.31b-37

They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
(Mark 1:22)
They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
(Mark 1:27)

A new teacher had come on the scene. He was one who commanded the crowds with a message that went beyond the power of words. His confidence in speech and actions drew a distinct contrast between Him and all other teachers of the day. This Teacher taught with authority. And from this authority alone they should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah.

I believe Jesus’ authority came from His confidence in three areas; Confidence in the Father, Confidence in the Word of God, and Confidence in the Work of God.

He was confident in the Father and His relationship with Him. (Jn 10.15) Every part of Jesus’ life was governed by His relationship with the Father. Ultimately, everything Jesus says or does springs out of His supreme loyalty to the Father and His assurance in who the Father is. Because he was confident in the Father’s identity, He was certain of His own identity. (Jn 8.14-16)

Jesus placed extraordinary confidence in the Word of God. (Mt 4.4) It was God’s Word that sent Him, motivated Him and ultimately put Him on a cross. Jesus never uttered one word that did not first pass the scrutiny of the Father. His words were the Father’s words. He had authority because He was confident He was speaking the very Word of God. (Jn 12.49-50)

And lastly, Jesus had complete confidence in the Work of God. (Mt 26.39) Jesus was in perfect synchronization with the will and work of the Father. The Father’s work was His work. (Jn 5.36)

Do you want to have authority in your ministry? Would you like to have the influence to change people’s lives into exactly what the Father desires? There is no authority but God’s authority. If we are to minister deeply in people’s lives we must be completely confident in our relationship with the Father, the Father’s words and the Father’s work. As we align our lives with the life of Jesus, we align our lives with the Father. That is the way to make disciples with authority. FJ50

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com

Friday, September 05, 2008

Seeing Jesus Clearly

Read Mt 4.18-22, Mk 1.16-20, Lk 5.1-11

But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;
(Luke 5:8-9)

When Peter was confronted with Jesus’ miraculous powers, he not only discovers the Messiah but his own identity is revealed as well. “I am a sinful man!" Peter’s immediate response is that of a man who understands he is standing in the presence of absolute holiness. He responds like Isaiah when he is brought into the presence of God and is overwhelmed at His holiness. (Isa 6.1-5)

When a man looks at the Sun he may initially take it for granted and go about his life totally ignorant of its significance. But when the same man is educated on its enormity, energy potential and its role in his existence, the man comes to grips with his minuscule place in the solar system. The more he learns, the more he is awe struck by every aspect of the Sun. That’s our objective in helping people see Christ. When we are correctly introduced to Jesus, the disparity between our depravity and His absolute holiness is painfully obvious. Most men are very aware of their short-comings. The challenge is getting them to see Jesus for who He really is and to repent in light of His character. I see three distinct tools in our kit bag as disciplers in order to help others see Him for who He really is. First is prayer and enlisting the Holy Spirit’s help in opening spiritual eyes and ears. (Eph 3.14-19) Secondly, the Word of God will display Jesus Christ in the most vivid and complete manner. (Heb 4.12) And lastly, our example of loving like Him is a compelling representation His love for them. (Jn 13.34-35) FJ49

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Bottles Illustration

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Immediate Adherence

Read Mt 4.18-22, Mk 1.16-20, Lk 5.1-11

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
(Matthew 4:20)
Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
(Mark 1:18)
When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
(Luke 5:11)

All three synoptic gospels describe the disciples’ response to His call to follow as immediate and complete. We know from the first chapter of John that Jesus had met them prior to this event and had some relationship with them. But on this day, there was a line of debarkation that Jesus asked these men to cross and they did without hesitation. He had apparently proven Himself worthy and the men saw following Him as their greatest priority.

This is the exact process we are trying to help men and women experience. We introduce them to Jesus, revealing Him through the scripture and our love. Our objective is to help them see Jesus as clearly as possible in order to give them sufficient data and experience to see that He is worthy of following. Sometimes I can do this in one sitting. With others, it may take years. But there comes a point in time where Jesus asks them to make a commitment beyond just investigation. He bids them to leave everything (in principle) and follow Him. A true disciple’s response at this point is unconditional and immediate adherence. The “come and see” phase is over and the “come and follow” has begun. Part of our task in making disciples is to be sensitive to these stages and addressing each with appropriate grace and truth. Sometimes men need more time to consider. Other times they need to be challenged. This takes skill in the disciplemaking process and is usually learned through experience. So be a good studier of people. Be patient and intentional. Help them make the transitions to deeper levels of intimacy and commitment to Christ. FJ48

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com
The Benning Crew at the Fall Conference at Ft Bluff, TN