Thursday, May 24, 2012

Discipleship Series – Start Walking

 As a special announcement commemorating this series, beginning today May 25th- 2 copies of this book is listed for Giveaway on Goodreads – join the fun and try to win a copy. Link at bottom of this page.

So far in this Discipleship series I've share some very fundamental information about a disciple/student; Definition of disciple, Choosing leadership, Deciding on a field of study; Seeking education, Following the leader, Listening to instructions to begin laying the groundwork for becoming a successful disciple/student.

This last article in this series will focus on using what you have learned. I hope you have enjoyed this series on discipleship and gained a new prospective on the life of a disciple.

There is little doubt that our generation is the most godly educated generation in the last several centuries. We not only have our weekly fellowships, Bible study groups, Devotional and prayer meetings, but we have more access to more information via the internet, radio and television programs. What a great time for the body of Christ!

The Kingdom of God has continued to advance, yet with all this access and teaching why does there seem to be less and less impact in the world? There are varying reasons why I believe this to be true, but what I see most in the body of Christ is lack of wisdom and courage. Courage is knowing who you are in Christ and Wisdom is the use of knowledge.

“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding” Proverbs 9:10

Excerpt from Footsteps of Jesus – Becoming a Disciple

Chapter 20 – Forsake Former Ways of Life

You never know when you set out on a journey where the road will lead. What things you may encounter, triumphs and tragedies; friends and foes; or how it will all play out. I think we step out on the road hoping for the best, but are willing to accept the worst. That is not the life that Jesus died to give us.
After the resurrection and the birth of the church. Peter took his boldness to a Holy level, standing up to proclaim Christ to the crowds who gathered outside his house. Peter held a leadership position in the new church in Jerusalem, and continued boldly serving Christ with the rest of his life; sharing the Good News with everyone, even those who would eventually take his life.
Peter wrote letters to the growing family declaring what he had seen and knew to be the truth of the One who he had lived with, saw die and raised to life again. He was not ashamed of the ignorance of his former behavior, but walked in the forgiveness that Jesus gave him. Peter, as well as the other apostles, encouraged others to realize their tremendous potential in Christ.
There was a time in the middle of my studies when I forgot why I was there. I had focused so much attention on studying, preparing for exams, writing papers and doing research that I didn't see any result of the hard work and effort I had put forth.
Sometimes it seemed all too much, I wanted to quit, throw my hands in the air and go play with my friends, but something inside me would not let me quit. Something kept giving me strength to move forward. I had to keep my eye on the goal, being closer to graduation than I was when I first began.
What I began to discover along my journey to becoming a disciple of Christ. It was not me who is living, but Jesus living in me (1 John 4:15, Romans 8:9).
No longer was my life about my goals and aspirations. Jesus showed me I had a purpose and my life has meaning. I had forsaken my former way of life and set my sights on a much higher calling, a Holy calling.
These are the very things the first Christians experienced during the early days of the church. Those who had placed their trust in Christ alone experienced real life, joy, peace and a reason they were here on earth. They walked away from their former way of life and grew in the new life in Christ.
To be Christ’s disciples we all must make that choice. Paul wrote, “If you were a thief, stop stealing. Set your hand to honest work” (Ephesians 4:28)
This is the attitude that a disciple must have, forsake your former way of thinking about life and focus on the kingdom. Being totally committed to Christ will cost something, but the benefits outweigh the investment.
This Holy calling is more than we can imagine. Sometimes we want the short route to the promises of God, but He is with us continually leading us on, showing us the way, encouraging our trust and building our endurance for His purposes. That’s how we are called to live. There is not one person alive who can claim perfect allegiance or obedience to Christ.
Through His forgiveness and our continued purpose in renewing of our minds, by reading and meditating on His Word, we can break free of that old life and walk in freedom, serving God and growing in His love.
# # #
In my book I contrasted the joint responsibility between the teacher and student. Once the teacher has completed their work of instruction, the student must use the instruction in order for it to be of benefit. If the student just sits on the knowledge and never puts it into action, the whole course was not only a waste of the teacher's time, but also the student's.

We've gathered enough knowledge about God and His ways, now it's time to use it. Step out in faith, believe what the Lord has instructed you to do – It's time! Pray for courage if you need it, but trust the instructions you have received. The truth is you have all the courage you'll ever need once you believe.

“My child never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart for they will give you a long and satisfying life” Proverbs 3:1

This book is available in paperback or ebook through Amazon

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Discipleship Series – Passing and Failing Tests

Today's post is part of May's Christian Writer's Blog Chain, the topic “Nurture” I hope you will follow the links on the right side bar to the other bloggers on our chain. Be blessed.

Life is full of choices. Every action we take is based on a decision we have made through the information and experience we have stored in our memory. We are trapped in this scenario until something changes, either positive or negative to the experience modification portion of our memory. Each experience changes our process in making a choice.

This experience modification begins at birth and continues throughout our entire lives. Infants cry because they want something. They have learned that crying brings results either, food, attention or removal of an uncomfortable situation. As infants, we've learned how to get what we want, but as we grow in experience, we've also learned how to modify the results aka the sin nature.

During the course of our lives, we've learned what we can do and what we can't. What things are socially acceptable and the things that are not. We develop a process of living, either choosing a moral standard or going against moral convention. All these choices are a result of our memories and how we use them. There is one important factor that comes into play, the God factor.

Although we make choices based on our experiences, God is always present. He has spoken into each of our lives at many important junctures. He was the one that placed another option in our path. He was the one who opened doors and gave us talents, we have to choose to follow or not. God loves us so completely, He never leaves us without an option. He wants our recognition and praise, but most of all, He wants us to nurture our relationship with Him.

Jesus nurtured His disciples with love, patience, acceptance and revealing to them the invisible Father. His disciples received what He gave, yet there was reciprocation, they needed choose to accept the experience modification by choosing to use the things He had taught them.

The following is an excerpt from Footsteps of Jesus – Becoming a Disciple

Chapter 19 – Forsake Former Goals

Meeting Jesus changed everything. In His presence, my broken moral compass was exposed. I had a perverted sense of right and wrong. With the help of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, my compass was corrected and I was set on a new path.
The conflict came not with my spirit but with my flesh. The old self and emotions still wanted control. My mind had not been renewed to the truth, which directed many of my actions of what I thought were best for me. This sinful thinking drove my moral compass off it's designed course, which made it difficult to trust anyone.
There were many years of broken relationships in my wake. Some of my doing and some that were done to me. When Jesus wanted my complete trust, my old mind said, “Well that was OK for salvation, but life choices, those were still mine— or so I thought.
When I had enrolled in college, I wasn’t completely on-board with some of the courses they told me I needed. One of the administrators explained that some life experiences or previous coursework could be transferred in toward graduation. I pursued all the credits I could get with the hopes of shortening the length of training.
Most of the previous experiences or coursework I submitted were rejected which upset me. Using the persuasive skills I had learned in the world, I tried my case.
Isn’t that the way we sometimes approach the Lord, explaining our service resume and things we’ve accomplished? We go about presenting our case to be spared from a difficult time or intensive training that may be painful. We begin praying (begging) unceasingly when we are presented with a challenge to our comfort or status.
# # #
The Lord never leaves us where we are, but always shows a better way. We must prepare to receive, accept what His Word says and nurture the seeds of His love and truth for the change modification to occur in our hearts. Nurturing a relationship includes trust and action.

Final post in the Discipleship Series – Start Walking

This book is available through Amazon in Paperback or eBook

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Discipleship Series: Choices of the Disciple

I hope you are enjoying this series, but more importantly understanding more about discipleship. In the last article, I pointed out the importance of taking notes and listening to the instructor. We become overwhelmed with too much information, that it is difficult to sort everything out. As we allow the Word of God to transform our thoughts we grow. Through His instruction we discover more hope and more strength to go through the difficult periods that will come.

I like to keep outlines from sermons in my Bible for months or even longer, especially if something really spoke to me, but taking notes is only the beginning. As a perpetual student, I find myself continually taking notes. Perhaps it's because of my perfectionist tendencies or because it's the way I learn. I've got a note pad or a scrap of paper near at all times to jot things down. If I don't review my notes of often, I will lose what inspired me in the first place. Unfortunately, many times, I just don't follow through.

John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit before birth. He was chosen for a spectacular mission- to announce the King of Glory was coming to his people. Living in the wilderness without creature comforts, he continued to listen to the Master for instructions. Not many people would agree, his ministry was spectacular, but Jesus said of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28) What an endorsement!

While in prison, John sent a few of his disciples to ask Jesus the most important question of his ministry. “Are you the one, or do we look for someone else?” He needed assurance that he had called it right. Keep in mind that John was the one who said “Look there is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John1:29). By that statement, John literally handed his ministry over to Jesus, which fulfilled his mission.

Although, John had a very successful ministry, when things weren’t going as he thought, he was troubled with confusion. Once John received conformation that Jesus was the One, he was content with his situation. He knew that Jesus must increase in influence, while he decreased. (John 3:29-30)

The following is an excerpt from “Footsteps of Jesus – Becoming a Disciple”

Chapter 6 Prepares for Tests

Jesus constantly engaged His disciples to use what they were learning. Scripture records He was perplexed by the disciple’s lack of response when they faced certain obstacles, such as feeding a huge group of people.
Instead of using what they had already saw Jesus doing, their response to the problem was to send the people away, but this was their mid-term exam.
Sending the crowd away was not the answer that Jesus was expecting. He told the disciples to feed the crowd. I am sure they stood there dumbfounded by His direction because they pondered the resources they physically had.
The conclusion was it was impossible They exclaimed,“it would take a small fortune to feed all these people”, but that wasn’t the issue. Jesus continued to refocus their attention on the resources they did have, who is the source.
I have found this same scenario in my life. The Lord will lead me to remember what resources I do have in order to do what He asks. He is not going to ask me to do something I am unequipped to do.
The Gospels didn’t mention their lack of faith in this instance, but Jesus did on other occasions. What do you think would have happened if they had recalled everything that they had experience with Jesus up to this point?
Where was outspoken Peter saying, “I’ve got it Lord?” I don't know, but perhaps fear, unbelief or intimidation of Jesus, held them back.
I believe if they had stepped out in faith and believed they could feed them, it would have been an amazing miracle and Jesus would have been very pleased.
Many more great miracles may have happened, but instead Jesus had to continually show them the power of God which was with them.
# # #
Those are are very areas we all struggle with when things appear impossible. Fear comes when we think we're alone and thinking it's up to us to make great strides for the Kingdom. That is way too much pressure. We tend to focus on our limited ability and not the unlimited resources we have in Christ. We must review our notes and believe nothing is too hard for God.

Next in this Discipleship series Passing and Failing Tests

This book is available through Amazon in Paperback and eBook

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Blessing

 "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her" (Proverbs 31:27-28 NIV) 

 Mothers are a special gift from God. They're there when we take our first breath, first step, and first words. They seem to know exactly what to do in all emergencies, like boo boo's, ouwies, and tummy aches. They instinctively know what their children need at all times. 

  Mother's give wise advice, even if we don't agree and always long for the best for their children. Mother's are our biggest cheerleaders! They are the first one to cheer our victories and mourn our defeats. They worry, pray and can't sleep until everyone is home, safe. Mother's never stop caring for their children, even long after they have left the nest. 

 I find it interesting that God patterned a women's heart after His own - because like a mother, His faithful love endures forever! We have been blessed with an awesome treasure - the heart of a mother!

Pass this blessing on to the Mother's in your life!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Discipleship Series – A Disciple Listens to Instructions

In this series I've mentioned the importance of choosing eduction and following godly leaders, taking good notes, but the final results lay solely in the hands of the student. Learning, growing and changing begins with listening and following instructions.

Trust is essential to growth, especially our spiritual growth. If we don't trust our instructor, the Holy Spirit, and don't follow his instructions, we begin to follow what we see is the right way, choosing our own understanding. We become wise in our own eyes.(Proverbs 26:5), but by following the instructions and obtaining successful results, the student is encouraged to continue.

This is an excerpt from “Footsteps of Jesus-Becoming a Disciple”

Chapter 4 Committed to Learn

In the untrained mind is where we live most of our daily lives. It is the place where decisions are made and actions are taken. It's the place where Satan can deceive us.
For us to have victory in this area, we need to learn what the Master wants us to know about His ways. He has given us a reliable source—His Word.
Although absorbing the Word of God is a massive undertaking and many principals are difficult for us to understand, He patiently teaches us at a level we can comprehend. Through careful study you'll discover on going themes in His Word, some of which I've highlighted in these chapters.
One of the commands of God was for the people to constantly keep His Word before them. They were to think about His laws upon rising and lying down. Talk about Him with children and foreigners among them. (Deuteronomy 11:19-21). His ways were to be always on their lips.
Whatever is important to us, we will keep it in focus. This is the Lord’s way of training – through meditation [thinking about] and by believing His instructions.
Recognizing He is the source of all that we have. His Word is the power that provides and protects us. If we do not value Him or focus on Him, our hearts are bound to wander in dangerous areas of unbelief, just like the Israelites.
# # #
Growth is marked by changes in attitude. The willingness to let go of non-beneficial ways of living, in pursuit of our individual mission – our Holy calling. With growth also come more challenges. We have been equipped with all we need for success, we just have to follow the instructions without doubt.

Next in the Discipleship series: Choices of the Disciple

This book is available at Amazon in paperback or ebook

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Discipleship Series – Taking Notes

So far in this Discipleship series I've share some very fundamental information about a disciple/student; Definition of a disciple; Choosing leadership; Deciding on a field of study and Seeking education. Laying the groundwork for becoming a successful student. In the next few articles I will focus on the student's actions.

At church, I love it when an outline is included for the teaching. Some people just like to listen to the sermon, following along in their Bibles. I hang on every word, not wanting to miss a single thing, I jot down every point that is made. The Lord will speak to our hearts through the teaching and scriptures. 

I just wonder of all those who just sit in the pews, listening to the message, actually retain the information or even remember what it was about, minutes after the last song?

I've discover many things about our human nature, especially when it comes to scriptures. When we hear a lesson taught from the Bible, sometimes we will categorize those things as happening to someone else and not personalize the events.

The story of humanity is an unending story of failure and success. As we follow the guidelines set out in scripture we find success. If we don't take it to heart, we find ourselves going through the same trials and obstacles that the people in ancient times encountered.

The following is an excerpt from my new book “Footsteps of Jesus – Becoming a Disciple

Chapter 3 – Developing Discipline

A good disciple is focused on what the master/instructor says is important. His thoughts become their thoughts. His actions become their actions. Their hearts begin to beat as one. Jesus said “The Father and I are one” (John 14:11), meaning their hearts beat as one heart. Their thoughts of us were exactly the same and the mission for our salvation was their highest priority.
It is hard establishing new habits, but it is important to our spiritual health (Ephesians 4:22-23, Romans 12:1-2). As we focus on the things that are important to our Master, our heart begins to beat the same as His. We take on His attitude and actions, making His priority our priority. We develop discipline in our thoughts and actions, which leads to more freedom and opportunities.
I’ve struggled with being patient. I’ve thought “Well I have been a Christian for so and so years, why am I still struggling?” Other times I’ve thought “OK, I’ve read the Bible, I know what is says, what more is there to learn?”
The hardest part of discipleship is implementing the Word of God in my life. I try to be a good, loving and faithful Christian, but it is tougher than I thought, because it seems life is always coming at me. How soon I forget things and need to be re-taught.
# # #
I find it interesting that the Lord told his people to write down what he said. To meditate, savor and learn from his instructions. So there is something to this note taking after all.

Next in the Discipleship series: A Disciple Listens to Instructions 

This book is available at Amazon in paperback and ebook