Faith, Love & Health

Archive for the category “Making Disciples”

Wake Up & SHINE!

This past Sunday Mark did a fabulous job talking about being Light!  If you get a chance you need yo listen to the whole message.  I’d like to take a minute and highlight on a segment of the message.  It comes from this passage in Ephesians:

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  – Ephesians 5:8-14

Basically the above says that we all were darkness, but now we are Light in the Lord.  This Light that is being talked about exposes sin through being Light and brings visibility to those who are looking for a way out of darkness.  Then the final call is to “Wake Up, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  If we are going to be light we must “awake” so that Christ can shine on us!

So this leads us to the place of being intentional about awakening our spirituality.  Mark referenced this to waking someone up from a deep sleep!  They could be awaken either by a very alarming sound or by a gentle  touch.  It could be a gentle word or a strong challenge in life that are the ways that awaken us.  In this passage the quote, “Wake Up, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” was probably referring to a common song that was sung in Paul’s day.  This is one reason why we sing songs today – it helps awaken us!  Daily we awaken ourselves by scripture reading, prayer, singing songs that honor God, journaling, sharing our faith, or anything that forces us to live out our faith.

The final thought is, are you positioning yourself to wake up or have you been in a deep sleep not willing to be wake up your spirit to the Light of Christ?  Whatever your answer, I hope you take the right steps in your life to allow Christ to Shine on you!


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Tabitha (Dorcus)

Most of us have heard about Mother Teresa.  She has helped the needy and has sought to help those who have been outcast, sick and neglected in India.  Before there was a Mother Teresa in our century, there was a woman with the same compassion in the day of the Apostle Peter.  Her name was Tabitha or some of us know her by Dorcus.  

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.  About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.  Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”  Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.   Acts 9:36-42

This morning I was flipping through the channnels and stumbled upon Pat Robertson’s show.  I watched as Pat Robertson presented the great need for the children to be fed in Africa.  I know we have seen sences like this on televison before and some of us pass by the channel and others are enriched with compassion for those who are suffering.  I am kinda in the middle, my heart is saddened by the sickness and hunger, but I don’t have a strong compassion that motivates me to reach out to the needy like this. (Maybe the business of ministry in my world clouds out or numbs our universal need to help those who are need.) 

I am truely amazed by the compassion that God places in the hearts of some of his people.  Tabitha was one of those individuals that was motivated by compassion to help the poor.  Scripture states that she was “always doing good and helping the poor.”  Tabitha was more than a person who saw a need and gave toward the need.  She devoted her life to make a difference in the lives of those who were in great need.  She gave of her resources, time, and energy to make sure that the people who were created in the image of God had there needs met.  These are more than foreign people in need, they are our extended family who are in great need.  Who of us wouldn’t do everything possible to help those who were in need in our own families. 

The best question I think we could ask ourselves is how can we develop a heart of a Tabitha – which is really the heart of God.  Here are some things that run across my mind as I ask myslef this question:

#1.  Be an extention of God’s love to those you come in contact with on a daily basis.  It may be a your neighbor, someone you have come across as you go to the grocery store.  It could be someone you meet on a business trip.  What ever the case be open and willing to be an extention of God’s love monetarily, emotionly, and spiritually. 

#2.  Ask God to begin to give us a heart of compassion.  Remember compassion means to suffer.  You literally feel the pain others are going through in their life.  As this is developed in us, so will our motivation to help the needy. 

Tabitha used her abilities, and resources as extentions to communicate God’s love and grace to the poor and the needy.  Those who walk in compassion will always be remembered and be a source of inspiriation to all us to never forget what God has extended to us.  May we never forget, if it was not for Christ, we too could be the needy of this world. 

Onesimus

As we read through the Epistles we see that Paul’s ministry went far beyond a Sunday morning service.  He took personal interest in his followers.  One of his followers that is newly converted he calls his son.  Being a son goes beyond taking personal interest in a person, it says you are part of my family.  It communicates to us that Paul was willing to give part of his life to invest in his son and even help provide for his needs.  Some might read this and think it to be an exaggeration, but scripture reveals that Paul did give this kind of care to his new son, Onesimus

Onesimus was a fugitive slave that ran away from his master Philemon, who lived in Colosse.   He probably stole things from his master to use for trade for his well being as he fled to Rome.  When he arrives in Rome he came in contact with the apostle Paul and became a convert of Jesus Christ.  Paul then sent Onesimus back to his master Philemon with a letter…this is a must read: 

yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—  I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.  I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you.  I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.  Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.  So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.  I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.  Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.  – Philemon 1:9-21

Colossians 4:8-10

As we read the letter to Philemon we read the heart of a father to a son. Paul shares that Onesimus is dear to his heart and that he is sending him back not as a slave but as a brother to Philemon.  Paul doesn’t stop by just sending Onesimus back to Philemon, Paul says, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”  This mentality really is hard for many of us to picture.  As many of us have never experience an individual that has placed such a high value on us. To welcome us with open arms and to walk us through such a difficult situation. 

I see two things in this snapshot of Onesimus’ life.  The first thing that I recognize is the importance for all of us to give personal attention to those who are serving with us in our ministries.  Ministry is more than a Sunday service or a Bible lesson, it is giving our lives away to fellow believers, supporting and encouraging the body of Christ to be the church.  It is also a beautiful picture of God’s love for us as His children, to cancel our debt and mark us as sons and daughters. 

Demas

no Turning Back

One of the hardest parts of ministry for me is investing into a person’s life for a season and a couple years down the road they make a choice not to follow Christ.  They begin connecting with wrong relationships that lead them astray or they just choose that the pleasures of this world is more valuable then following Christ.  So today let’s look at Demas who was one of Paul’s followers who abandoned him after ministering with him for 2 years. 

 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Colossians 4:14

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.   Philemon 1:23-24

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.  2 Timothy 4:9

Many of us have heard Bible stories of the rich young ruler who had to chose to follow Christ and he didn’t, but I found a guy named Demas who was a co-labourer with Paul.  Demas went through many difficult situations with Paul, we know this because Paul held Demas in high regards, and was even imprisoned with Paul for the sake of the Gospel.  What is so hard to comprehend is when a person has been exposed to the miraculous, has sat under personal teachings of Paul and even stood up for his faith; he chose to deny Christ and follow after his own fleshly desires.  I’m sure Paul was sadden as he shared the news of his once companion in the good fight of faith and now has been deserted. 

The thing we must always remember is that Demas didn’t deny Paul, he denied Christ and made a personal choice to follow the world.  We in our ministries must not take the choices of those serving with us personal, it is spiritual.  The enemy would like nothing better than to make those who are serving in our ministries to stumble and follow after their fleshly desire, we must never stop believing in prayer that God would keep our people strong and do our best to equip each one of them. 

Who’s Your Timothy

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I was reading Philippians this morning and thought I would share it with you.

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.  -Philippians 2:19-22

 

Do you have someone in your ministry that takes interest in others more than themselves?  This type of person is very unique, and has a very special relationship with the leader that  he or she serves with.  I believe the terminology that Paul used is, his son Timothy.  Timothy wasn’t really Paul’s biological son, but he did have a spiritual father / son relationship with Timothy.  Just like a biological son looks, acts and many times takes on the same interest as the father they are raised by, so it is with a spiritual father son relationship.

 

Is there someone in your ministry that you are fathering to work in the trenches of ministry with you?  This individual is someone that we give extra time to and help develop this person’s potential in ministry.  Now this relationship isn’t a church cultivated relationship, but someone that is brought in and is part of your life.  In today’s terminology we call it, mentoring, but I believe this type of relationship is more than guiding and developing, it is reproducing who you are as a minister of the gospel into another person’s life.  It is sharing your life, ambitions and having this special son or daughter in your life to share in the ministry that God has given you.

 

I can’t say that I really have this type of relationship with anyone right now, but today I am asking God to show me who this person might be so I can begin taking steps to cultivate this relationship. 

Discipleship In Motion

constructing the church

 

I was reading Emerging Worship the other day and one of the paradigms that Dan Kimball was presenting is how the church is being built.  The traditional church is being built by focusing on weekend services as its foundation.  On top of the foundation is the staff and ministry team to support the weekend service, then additional ministries, values- philosophy-cultural theology, and finally the mission.  Dan goes on to say this is why we have so many consumers within our church today.  Believers are focused more on the Sunday service than the mission of who the church is and who the church should be. 

 

To change the mentality of the church and begin being the church that we see in Acts we must shift our focus to the mission that Christ has called the church to fulfill.  That is “go into all the world and make disciples of all men.” (Matthew 28:19)  The foundation of the church needs to be the mission and not the Sunday service.  If you have read any of my leadership concepts you will know we lead this way by putting a high focus on what is valuable and in this case it is the mission.  That means 80% of our week’s focus will be directed to reach the mission and not the Sunday service.  The emerging paradigm’s foundation is the mission – making disciples, and built on this the mission is the cultural philosophy – theology – values, Leadership support team, building community, and last is the weekend gatherings.  Many read this and agree, but the process in how we make disciples is what I want to focus on. 

 

The disciple making process is a high value, but I don’t believe it is a person in a classroom setting or even in a small group setting.  It could be, but my idea of the Biblical discipleship training is doing ministry together. (Discipleship in Motion) It is a community of believers coming together and individually presenting the gospel, being active in the community by having a voice in our community.  It is believers learning who they are – their gifting as being part of the body of Christ and operating according to God’s design – the way God has designed each of us.  We see in the gospels that Jesus and even John’s disciples did ministry as they were instructed by Biblical concepts of Jesus’ teachings.   It was discipleship in motion, not in an institutionalized structure.  Yes, we all need good teaching, but disciples act out his /her beliefs through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  They don’t consume church services – looking for ministries that suit them and meet all of their family needs.  Instead, they live out their faith as is directed by Christ. “To GO and MAKE disciples” – this is a motion (act) not a lecture!   

 

This leads us to begin thinking how are we as leaders using our time in our ministries?  Are we focusing most of our time on Sunday services or making disciples?  I’m not saying don’t have a great Sunday worship gathering, but we will never be the church until we begin acting like the church. 

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