Tag Archives: theology

Disciples On Mission

Were you ever involved in door to door outreach? I know for a lot of us that happened to grow up in the church during the 80’s and 90’s, it was customary to go knock on doors to get the bible thumpin’ notch on your good person church belt. And if you weren’t involved in the church during that time, you probably remember at least having your door knocked and hiding as quietly as possible so they would feel compelled to finally stop knocking. Unfortunately, that particular method was not that effective, and even though many did it with sincerity, they probably weren’t successful in building bridges with the people they were hoping to reach. We as the church can no longer rely on methods or mere trends to draw the numbers; we must rely on the power of the Gospel, the transformation of the Holy Spirit’s work, and to join our King Jesus on mission.

Mission

There are often barriers between those who are being pursued and the party pursuing. And it is critical that find those barriers and pray for breakthroughs in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are so many methods and systems that really do work in penetrating a people group and/or person with the message of Jesus Christ in ways they can understand, but we are not here to talk on method, but on principle of how we can be on mission together, both with God and with each other.

We see a pattern in scripture of the things that are important to God. We see that His glory, His people, and His creation are all important to Him and His story (See Table)1 . As I mentioned earlier in the ‘Giving Jesus Everything‘ post, we mentioned this concept of the kabod doxa of God, and following Him is costly just as it says in Matthew 16:24, and even though sin has obscured things (1 Cor. 13:12), His glory is to be observed, honored, and worshiped (1 Cor. 2:7-14). Sin has alienated His people, yet through the power of the cross He has reconciled us to Himself, and is calling us His people to live in peace and unity, as displayed well in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-9. And lastly, His creation is important to Him, humans, animals and everything He made including trees, lakes, and oceans. In Job 38 we see creation as a display of His wisdom and power. Even His creation felt the earthquake of sin for we see in Romans 8:19-22, Paul speaks of creation under the curse of sin. We are here to be ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and co-regents for God. Whatever that looks like, and whoever it reaches, God’s glory must be known and seen, and we need to be excited to be involved in work of God on this planet. It is clear in Matthew 25:31-46 that we are to take this mission seriously. “To be on mission with God is to respond to the high calling to participate with Him on His mission in His story”.2

And if you notice, there is an organic nature to this understanding of image, worship community and mission. You see, we must be an image-bearing community of worshipers on mission!

Memorize This Scripture

Psalms 96:1-3 (ESV)

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!”

Group Discussion Starters

  • As leaders, do we notice if we are being ambassadors of reconciliation in our local city community?
  • How do all aspects of a disciple work together?
  • Take about 15 minutes to study. Pick one passage below and give insights relating to mission.
    • 2 Kings 17:25-28
    • Jonah 3:1-10
    • Luke 10:1-24
    • Luke 24:44-49
    • Acts 1:1-11

Things to Do on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • This discipline will be multifaceted; it will include scripture reading, prayer and solitude.
    • Go to a high place in your city, or a location that you can be in a quiet space yet see a lot of buildings far-off that represent your city.
    • Read Isaiah 6:1-8 very slowly
    • Pray that you are able to have a heart like Christ to see the lost saved
    • After praying, wait, stay silent for at least 15 minutes, and rest in His presence.

Personal Study

  • Read Acts Chapter 9
    • What does this passage teach you?
    • How does this passage display a Trinitarian theology?
    • How does this passage reveal Jesus’ heart for His church?

Action Points

  • Choose a location in your city that you know well, this can be bar, game center, recreation center, gym etc. Get to know people, build relationship, and bring someone along that loves Jesus so you can make this place your new mission field. Take mental note of trends, laughter and influential people, and find ways to image God to this new mission field.

Table

Disciple on Mission

What’s Important to God?

Sin’s Distortion

God’s Mission

God’s Glory

Obscured

Observed

God’s People

Alienated

Reconciled

God’s Creation

Fruitless

Stewarded

FOOTNOTES


  1. Disciple, Clem, p.153-168 

  2. Disciple, Clem, p.168 

Giving Jesus Everything

A few years ago, there was a documentary on TV about a group of medical volunteers helping the citizens with cataracts problems, as well as taking cameras into the country of North Korea to examine the country and its declining social climate.1 Toward the end of the documentary it revealed some interesting insights into the human response to ideas, situations, people, and things when it comes to worship and adoration. Surprisingly, the medical team that came to help many North Korean citizens were not the ones receiving gratitude from the individuals being able to see again. Watching in amazement you see hundreds of people praising, crying, raising hands, jumping, kneeling, screaming in gratitude to a person they don’t know, but only have a picture of, their dictator Kim Jong-Il. These beautiful people seemed to have a glimpse of what it looks like to give something or someone everything they have.

The fact is, is that we offer the same worship, if not more, to ideas, situations, people and things. We consume our life with things that don’t bring honor and glory to God. Think about how many people would throw their own bodies out of a building because they lost all their savings and retirement, or the person who may feel worthless because the person they have been idolizing doesn’t want to be their friend anymore. We have repackaged all of our idols in so many ways, and what is required is this,2

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Worshipers

We must deconstruct a bit of what we think worship actually is. Most of us think of worship as merely a time on a Sunday morning with music and a little bit of preaching and everything has been checked off and no more ‘work’ is required of us. The very idea of ‘work’ must first have its proverbial ‘legs’ broken for us to get to the heart of worship. We worship because He is God, and the ‘work’ has already been done on the cross (Rom. 4:1-10), and there is nothing more we can add to what has already been for us.

We were born to worship, you can see every human response, we desire to give praise to something. Just as I mentioned in the previous section, the people of North Korea celebrated their joy and ‘had’ to give their adoration to something for their healing, they had a distorted response, much like we give distorted responses because our hearts are prone to wander. In Jeremiah 19 it says,3

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

We need guidance, and the Word of God is light against the darkness of our hearts. God requires that we worship in both spirit and truth as proclaimed by Jesus (Jn. 4:19-24). Spirit essentially means that we worship with everything we have, our whole being. This includes our affection, posture of our heart, and love in giving God what we have to offer, ourselves. Truth means that we give God our minds (Col. 3:2) in acknowledging that He, the God of Abraham Isaac, Jacob, Paul and Peter is the only One worthy of worship both in distant past and coming future. “The minute you try to manage God, juggling him with anything else as a priority, you have ceased to recognize his weightiness (kabod) and His excellence (doxa)”.4 When you put spirit and truth together, you really begin to understand the humility in worshiping our king with your head (truth) and with your heart (spirit).

Idols

We are all idolaters. That simple statement may offend you, if it does, you’re probably an idolater. There are many things around us, especially our flesh, which will increase this propensity toward idol worship. The root of this problem which is in the heart of evil men, is pride. Pride is what threw the devil out of the place where God was (Isa. 14:12–21). This story should incline us to understand that God is a jealous God (Exod. 20:5), and that anything, including ourselves, should not be idolized and worshiped. There are three major gateways to pride5 and can be known as the three P’s: pleasure, power, and people. When it comes to pleasure, “The bombardment of such subtle messages of self-centeredness takes a toll, and we start to believe that our pleasure is not an indulgence, but an entitlement”.6

We can’t try and re-shape God into our image, He is who He is. We think we’re powerful when we try to control everything, and think that we are to think for our own accomplishments. This sort of thinking can often be associated with the American dream. You can hear the mantra as you read this, “I worked hard, so I deserve this”. The fear of people and their approval can truly handicap your life and what God wants to accomplish for you. We see a clear example of this in the gospel of Mark 13:27-33. The Pharisees had such an appetite for approval of the people that they couldn’t even answer Jesus’ simple question about who they thought Jesus was.

A quick survey you can take of your life to find your idols can be as simple as asking, “what makes me angry?” or “what frightens me?”7 This will give a good clue as to what may be more important in your life than God. Everything in our lives must be in submission to Jesus.

Memorize This Scripture

Matthew 22:37-38 (ESV)

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Personal Reflections

  • What parts of our lives can be masked as not being idolatrous?
    • Children?
    • Spouse?
    • ________________ ?
  • What makes you angry?
    • Take 5 minutes to journal and come back to the group to discuss your idols you are comfortable speaking about publicly.
  • What scares and frightens you?
    • Take 5 minutes to journal and come back to the group to discuss your idols you are comfortable speaking about publicly.

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • Use this time to journal as a prayer medium, it can be a beneficial way to communicate with as it can temper our conversations with God. Use your journal time as a means of praise and worship as well, it will fill your heart with joy to worship God in this way.

Personal Study

  • Read Jeremiah Chapter 2
    • What were Israel’s sins toward God?
    • Are there things mentioned in this passage that are being paralleled in your own life?

Action Points

  • Ask a Christian spouse or a Christian best friend if there are blind-spots in your life that are idolatrous that you don’t notice. Be humble, listen, and repent. Consider what they have to say, they are people that love God and love you.

Footnotes


  1. National Geographic – Inside North Korea (National Geographic Video, 2007) 

  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Mt 22:37–38). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Je 17:9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  4. Clem, Disciple, 103. 

  5. Ibid., 109. 

  6. Ibid., 110. 

  7. Ibid., 116. 

All For God and His Story

If you look at the picture attached to this post, you can see my family is pretty amazing. Everyday I look at my talented and gorgeous wife (I don’t even know how I snagged her), every moment of my 3 child’s lives, I do my best to capture somehow that exact moment in time so I can never forget it. As a family, we haven’t been able to avoid life’s difficulties either. Over the last few years God has really shaped me and helped me understand more of who He is and how He changes the way we react to life’s challenges.

The situations in our life are sometimes so hard to understand; death, divorce, miscarriage, abuse, slavery, greed. I can’t answer some of those questions as I have asked them myself. The way we feel can also be very a very valid emotion. So, why does He allow hardship to happen so often? A lot of questions can stem out of a confusion of who God is, why He has put us here, and then, what we’re supposed to do while we’re here. It’s really all about Him. Oh I know, that seems to be the mantra of everything you here when going to a religious conference or even within the fellowship that you are in. Well, I’m going to say the same thing, it’s all about Him, we just get to play a part in His story. We have an important role too, we are made is His image, that’s a big deal. This idea that we made in His image should cause us to see every human being with immeasurable value.

We might ask, ‘OK, what is the story then?’, well let’s dive in and look at some parallels between history past and the future to come to help give us a wider perspective of time itself rather than only our particular piece in history.

Story Summary

The story begins with God creating the Earth and being beautiful and good (Gen. 1). He creates Adam and Adam sins (Gen. 3), so sin enters the world, and is the place in history where death enters the picture. Abraham is promised a nation (Gen. 12). Moses is called by God to be involved in His story where people are liberated, and is given The Law (Exod. 3, 12, 20) . David reigns as king over Israel (2 Sam. 2). Prophets speak of a coming messiah (Isa. 53:4-6), and then 400 years of silence. King Jesus arrives and everything changes, and He makes all things right. Jesus is as the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45–49) and defeats sin by His death. Jesus is the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). Jesus fulfills the law (Matt. 5:17) given to Moses. Jesus is the King (Matt.1:1) and infinitely greater than David and at the cross defeats the reign of death (2 Tim. 1:10). Who is the hero of the story? Jesus.1

So what’s the big take-away? The story of God has never been at risk, because Jesus is the hero of every scene along the way. A humbling part of it all is that we can be included as He places us right in there as part of the action, even if we get to play just a tiny part. The real question is not whether we’re in the story or not, it’s whether we’re going to be ready to acknowledge for ourselves that Jesus is the hero of the story, and whatever role we get to play we are content because it is for His glory!

Every week there will be memory verses to memorize to etch on your heart, discussion starters for the group, spiritual disciplines to practice, as well as homework for your leader to take note of your comprehension of these biblical concepts of discipleship. Remember, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you insights that you do not understand. The goal is for you to be transformed by God, not merely informed.

Memorize This Scripture

Hebrews 12:2

“. . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. “

Personal Reflections

* What part are you playing in a church within God’s story?

* Share with your group (any group of close friends) what part of your journey of where you are at. Share nuggets of information you assume most people know like when you came to know God for real and what role your faith plays in everyday life.

* What part of Jesus being the hero of the story inspires you the most?

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

* During your prayer time, try setting aside 10 minutes reading Hebrews 12:2 over and over again. While reading, paint a picture in your mind and visualize God rescuing humanity with wisdom and strength.

Personal Study

* Look at the table below called “God’s Unshakable Design”2 after the lesson and journal about how it impacts your view of God’s sovereign plan for His story and glory. Read Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, as well as Revelation 21. Journal about your exploration of creation and new creation.

Action Points

* This week, ask a close friend or family member that you really respect as a Christian, to share with you how their journey has played a role in the bigger story of God and how Jesus has been their hero. Journal about your findings.

God's Unshakable Design
GENESIS 1 REVELATION 21
Original Creation New Creation
God is Creator / Designer God is Creator / Designer
Humans are image bearers Humans are sons of God (image bearers)
We are designed to love We are called the bride of God
We are designed to worship We declare the glory of God
We are designed for life There will be no more death

Footnotes


  1. Bill Clem, Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus (Crossway, 2011). 

  2. Ibid.