Monthly Archives: July 2008

Discipleship: Serving in ALL Times

I don’t know if you know him or not, but two days ago Randy Pausch died.  He was a professor at Carnegie Melon University.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2007.  He was told he had three to six months of life left.  He made a decision.  He decided to live life to the fullest possible.  At the University there was a yearly tradition.  They would choose a professor to give what they called, “The Last Lecture.”  It was a speech dedicated to a philosophy of life.  You can see his “Last Lecture” to understand how he coped with a very bad situation.  It’s very much worth the viewing.

His outlook on life to live it to the full can teach much about how to follow Jesus.  Discouragements come.  Hard times are always upon us in some shape, form, or fashion.  It’s what we do with these disappointments that can make or break us in our walk with Christ.

Here is James’ perspective on discipleship in the face of trials.  (James 1:2-5 NCV)  “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, {3} because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. {4} Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. {5} But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to all people, so he will give you wisdom.”

Looking to our Father in all times is the key to a focused walk with Him.


Security of the Christ-Follower

When I was a young man, I was somewhat pudgy (some would say chunky, still others said, “Fat!”). My appearance was something that was a constant source of grief for me. I was made fun of and even at times would lash out in anger at others.

I learned later in life that the pain I suffered at the hands of others because of my appearance made me tremendously insecure about a great many things in my life. I would take a simple look by someone as an insult. I was afraid to go certain places like the gym, the pool, and other places where I stood the chance to be laughed at or scorned. And any comment from anyone about me could be misconstrued to be an open slam directed straight at me.

As I have grown older, however, I am learning (and I’ve not yet arrived) and even improving on having a greater security about my life. I have learned that my self-worth is not about outward appearances. My worth is based in the one I follow and the one who has saved me. Forgiveness of sin and the grace of God has set me free.

One thing I’ve learned is that when I am offended by something someone else says or does, it is really my choice to do so. The old phrase, “You made me mad” is really a misnomer. The truth of that phrase should read, “I allowed you to make me mad.” Offense is always a choice!

That doesn’t mean we don’t get hurt or offended sometimes. It does mean that when those offenses come, as followers of Christ, we have security enough to have confidence in Jesus to take care of us. My choice to not allow my feelings to show in a negative way is not a strength I possess on my own. It is a gift of and one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

I claim no special measure of the Spirit, just the confidence in knowing that He is ever present with me and I do not have to choose the wrong things.

Characteristics of Disciples (Henceforth Called “followers”)

Read the following passage and give some one-word descriptions and an explanation of what following Christ involves. I’ll get the ball rolling.

(Luke 14:26-35 NCV) “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters–or even life–more than me, he cannot be my follower. {27} Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me cannot be my follower. {28} If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. {29} If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, {30} saying, ‘This person began to build but was not able to finish.’ {31} “If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. {32} If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace. {33} In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower. {34} “Salt is good, but if it loses its salty taste, you cannot make it salty again. {35} It is no good for the soil or for manure; it is thrown away. “You people who can hear me, listen.”

One word that catches my eye first is “COST.” Following Christ will involve a price. The price? Anything that gets in the way of following Him!

What do you see in the passage?

Are We Making Disciples?

Matthew 28:18-20 has been called by some, “Jesus’ Marching Orders.”  It is Matthew’s account of the great commission.  It is clear from this text that Jesus wants us to be “making disciples.”  Are we doing that?

This question has been prompted in my mind by an article I recently read in Wineskins Magazine. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read it.  You can click here to go directly to the article by Wade Hodges.  It is titled “Unintentional Nondiscipleship.” His basic argument is that the bad news is we are not making disciples (generally speaking) but the good news is we’re not really trying.  Be forewarned about this article and this BLOG.  Neither of us have the answers, just some thought provoking questions.

It has really made me think about our own situation at Creekside.  We are a very loving, open minded fellowship of Christ-followers.  We don’t focus on the issues that take our mind off of Jesus as the center.  We trying to reach out to the community in loving ways.  Our leadership is shepherding.  Our people are forgiving and willing to look at others through the eyes of Jesus.  We have developed as a theme, “Love God, Love Others, and Serve.”  Please don’t hear me saying we are the perfect church.  We have much to improve, but it really is a loving group of people and I feel very blessed being where I am.  I’m not even insinuating that we are not making disciples.  It’s just his article has brought the question to the front of my mind.

I think that part of this question in my mind stems from a lack of real understanding of what a disciple is.  We seem to answer the question, “Who is a disciple?” in very generic terms like  “Christian,” “follower of Christ,”  or “one who does what Jesus said to do.”  Those answers are all technically correct, but they seem to fall short of specifics.

If we are making disciples, then what are we making and how are they making a difference in this world? What is your church family doing to make disciples  in your communities?   Am I asking the wrong question?  Is this answerable?

See A Goal Met And Setting New Heights

Ellen and I are coming up on the first goal of our new lifestyle change. This Friday marks one month of consistent exercise. We’ve done some kind of cardio exercise for at least thirty minutes a day at least five days a week. It is awesome to see a goal set and actually made for a change. If nothing else, I’ve learned that it really is within me that I CAN do this. I just have to make up my mind.

The next step begins Monday. We add strength training twice a week to our weekly exercise and the really hard part–changing eating habits. According to our plan we have to give up whatever our main struggle with food is. We’ve both agreed that our main struggle is sugar and junk foods. They have to go.

What’s great about this is, I can now walk up my steps at home and not feel worn completely out.  I don’t see any results in the mirror yet, but it’s going to come.

Our commitment is one day at a time. We are trying to set monthly goals, but you can’t live tomorrow today and for today, we are doing great with this. Please keep praying for us.

Roller Coaster Day

Yesterday was Sunday and most Sundays start quite normally with my anticipation of a gathering with my church family at Creekside.  Our worship time is a highlight of my week.  Gathering to listen to what God has to say to us from His word in class is always interesting and a growth time for us.

Sunday I arrived at the usual early morning hour to get ready for praise team practice.  I get the microphones set and the computer ready for projection.  There’s always the last minute “straightening” of the chairs.  I’m just that way about aesthetics.

Yesterday about midway through the praise team practice, I received a phone call from Ellen.  She knows we practice during that time and a call from her is unusual.  As I suspected there was not so good news.  Danielle was having a cluster of seizures.  That’s where one “staring spell” after another happens to the point that she can’t function.  Ellen and Tabitha missed Bible class to take care of her, giving her medication and time to get over it.  They came to the worship hour and I was glad she was able to be there.  We had an awesome hour and a half of singing, praying, communion.  All ending with my lesson.

In the afternoon, we gathered to help one of our single sisters move her household.  We had a great crew and the job got done within a couple of hours.  That’s quick and we’re not even professionals.

The day continued as we gathered for a surprise birthday party for the twins.   They thought we were gathering for a teen night.  We really got them.  The kids opened gifts and sang karaoke songs.  It was a blast.  I especially enjoyed the boys’ rendition of Shania Twain’s “Man I Feel Like A Woman.”  Verrrrry funny.

So what started out as a very tough day turned out to be a very good day.  It reminds me of that saying, “You never know what a day will bring.”  James 4:13-15 says, “Some of you say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money.’  But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, ‘If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'” We must never take life for granted or that every moment off every day is going to go like we like.  We just must trust God.