The Basics

If you haven’t noticed and read the tab at the top of my blog titled The Basics, then I would like to encourage you to read it. In fact, I’ll make it easy for you and include the contents here …

One of the best things I learned early in my Christian life was an illustration that shows the basics and essentials of living the Christian life. It has become my conviction over the years that if a Christian will get established in these areas, they will be able to learn whatever else is needed in their particular walk with God and face any challenge.

The illustration is called The Wheel and was developed by Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators. I encourage you to check it out, memorize it, and practice it.

I will be posting in more detail about the topics covered in the wheel. As I post these, I will try to remember to update The Basics page with links to each post.

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Leaders Put Good Intentions into Action

A blog that I follow and that often inspires me is one that is about leadership in general, but the writer often writes from an obvious Christian perspective. While his blog post today, Leaders Put Good Intentions into Action, isn’t written with that obvious perspective, it does have obvious application to Christians. It is a good challenge to us all.

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My Expectations of a Disciple-Maker: FAITH

Yep, another acronym: FAITH

I shared this one last Saturday morning with two men from our church who wanted to be discipled and to disciple someone else. In addition to sharing with them what I expect of someone I’m discipling, I shared with these men what I expect of someone I’m training to be a disciple-maker.

As implied in the title, I’m looking for a man of FAITH. As I was trained in this area by The Navigators, the FAT part of it was the same as what we look for in a disciple (Faithful, Available, Teachable), but I felt like I wanted to change that since I would obviously still be looking for those qualities in a disciple-maker. So here’s my take on being a man (or woman) of FAITH:

Follower: they have a follower … someone to disciple (or a least they’re looking for and are ready for one); it’s best to have someone to share what you’re learning with immediately rather than waiting until the end of a lengthy training process when you will have forgotten a lot of what you were taught.

Able to Teach: without the ability to pass on what you have learned to someone else, you really won’t be successful at discipling; this takes very simple communication skills, not public-speaking; if properly trained, the information will be easily transferrable.

Initiative: they don’t have to constantly be reminded or encouraged to do something; the ‘Well Done’ expressed in Jesus’ parable was not for obedience, but for initiative.

Transparent: openness to share their lives, including weaknesses, struggles, and sins

Heart for God & Men: Great Commandment … love God with heart, soul, and mind and neighbor as self; passion to serve God and to minister to others

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My Expectations of a Disciple: FAT

Sunday morning I met with the people at our church who had signed up a few weeks ago to be discipled (in response to my challenge during my message). The primary purpose of the meeting was to get things kicked off in the discipleship process by discussing expectations, both theirs and mine.

I had them share their expectations as they introduced themselves to the group. Their expectations were pretty non-specific and along the lines of what I anticipated. We talked a little bit about the difference between discipling and mentoring, at least from my perspective. I shared that I usually think of discipling in the context of a more mature Christian teaching a young Christian spiritual disciplines to help them to grow, whereas mentoring is often more of a peer-to-peer relationship of encouraging and guiding in developing a ministry skill. I did stress in regards to their expectations that I was not going to be teaching a class … that this was about one-to-one discipling and that I would be helping to connect them with a discipler, in most cases someone I was training to disciple them.

Most of our time was spent sharing my expectations of someone I would disciple (and naturally, what I had told those I am training to expect). I explained that a good part of my discipleship training came from The Navigators who often train by using easy-to-remember illustrations and acronyms. Thus, I was looking for FAT people to disciple:

Faithful: you can be counted on to do what you say … if given an assignment to do/read something by our next meeting and you agree to it, you are expected to have it done

Available: you can’t disciple someone who is not available … it’s best to engage face-to-face, preferable weekly, but not always possible; evaluate the effectiveness of email / phone / internet chat interaction

Teachable: while disagreeing with what you’re being taught is not forbidden (or even necessarily discouraged), constantly rejecting direction given and not even trying what is suggested prevents progress

While it is not necessary to communicate these expectations to someone you wish to disciple, it is helpful for you to keep them in mind as you evaluate whether it is an effective use of your time to continue to seek to disciple them.

I also pointed out to the group that it is also very possible to disciple someone without them knowing that you were doing so. This would be common with someone that you lead to Christ. It should naturally progress from that point to continue to meet with them and share with them how to get established as a Christian … teaching them to pray, to read the Bible, to have a quiet time, etc. All of this could be done without ever asking them if you can disciple them or telling them that you are doing so. Much like a parent with a newborn baby … you don’t tell them what you’re going to do or get their permission, you just love them and teach them what they need to learn to survive and grow.

The adventure begins!

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Beginning With Christ

Beginning With Christ image

Beginning With Christ booklet by The Navigators

A great resource for helping new believers to get on and stay on the right path spiritually is a booklet by The Navigators titled ‘Beginning With Christ’. The Navigators have specialized in personal disciple-making since 1933 and have consistently seen the value of the spiritual discipline of scripture memory.

Many people trained by a Navigator, to include myself, testify that scripture memory has been THE MOST BENEFICIAL spiritual discipline they have ever learned. Satan will do everything he can to keep you from doing it and will give you all kinds of reasons that you can’t or shouldn’t because he knows how handy it is for God to use His Word hidden in your heart, either in your life or in the lives of those with whom you share it.

This booklet is designed to help the new believer get started by memorizing five scripture verses to help give them scriptural assurance in five key areas: salvation, answered prayer, forgiveness, victory over sin, and guidance. It also helps them to understand the value of scripture memory and explains each scripture and the assurance it gives.

Click on the image to go to NavPress where the booklet can be purchased (in packages of 10) or click here for a PDF sample of the booklet.

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My Heart – Christ’s Home

An excellent booklet to have a new believer read and discuss with you is My Heart – Christ’s Home (click on link here to see PDF version). Robert Boyd Munger does a wonderful comparison of various rooms of a house with particular aspects of the Christian life. He does so in an engaging way that makes the reader think seriously about his life and application of spiritual principles. Copies in booklet form can be found at Amazon.com.

 

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Message Audio 2

Click on Second Message Audio to download the message.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 9

Having a one-to-one relationship with a discipler or spiritual mentor is probably one of the most missed blessings in the Christian life. The problem is two-fold … the lack of growing Christians with a heart and vision to be that for a younger believer and, at least here in the United States, a rather cavalier attitude that prevents many from seeking or even accepting spiritual guidance. Our culture has developed in us an unhealthy attitude of rugged individualism that drives us to try to go it alone. We might be fairly ready to get involved in a small group and learn some things there, but resist getting personal time with someone and really allowing them to see into our lives and ask tough questions about how we’re applying what we’re learning.

How about you? Are you willing to accept some personal help and spiritual guidance? Are you willing to take it a step further and seek help? If so, I’m going to ask you to indicate that on your offering envelope … just write ‘I want to be discipled’ and we will seek to identify someone to meet with you. I’ve already done that. I recognized when I made this resolution that I have been operating for several years now with having a relationship with someone committed to discipling and mentoring me. So I took the initiative and, after praying about the possibilities, asked Pastor Chuck if he would be willing to do that. He is willing and we have begun meeting.

Considering having a one-to-one relationship with someone to disciple them or to just seek an opportunity to share the gospel with them can be a very daunting prospect. Many considering this possibility would rightly say, “But I don’t know how. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do … where to start”. Sadly, most will do nothing about it and will remain comfortable in their ignorance. Let me challenge you to join that first group seeking a discipler so that you can learn how so that you too can join the ranks of those who can, and do, respond to Paul’s admonition to ‘entrust these things to faithful men’. If you do believe you have what it takes and want to join me in this part of my new years resolution, then let me ask you to indicate that also on the offering envelope … just write ‘I want to disciple someone’ and we’ll see if we can’t help you get connected with someone that wants to be discipled.

I started off this message last week talking about the situation that we are in currently at Crossroads, being without a senior pastor. I challenged you with the thought that this is a season to thrive as a church and not merely survive. This is the way that we can do it … by committing ourselves to zeroing in on one-to-one with Jesus, with a discipler, and with a disciple. It will absolutely revolutionize us, both personally and as a church. Failure to do so will doom us to the huddles of the ‘also-rans’.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 8

Paul talks about this personal fruitfulness in 2 Timothy 2:2 … would someone read this for us. We see here that Paul had a vision not just for reaching people individually for Christ, but for them to be trained to do the same. In fact, Paul speaks of four generations here … himself, Timothy, faithful men, and others. We see through Paul’s ministry and writings that he was committed to discipling men both in a small group context and one-to-one. Which brings me to my new years resolution for 2-0-1-1, to zero in on one-to-one, with Jesus, with a discipler or mentor, and with a disciple.

The one-to-one with Jesus is the most crucial. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this, beginning with John 15: 4, 5. You may remember that we talked last week about the fact that the way we glorify God is by bearing much fruit from John 15: 8. Jesus builds up to that statement with this introduction about how we bear fruit. Since I didn’t select these passages until after I had submitted my bulletin insert, I have asked some people to be ready to read them for us … so who has John 15? So here Jesus identifies himself as the vine and us as the branches and declares that we must remain or abide in Him to bear fruit, for apart from Him we can do nothing. What does it mean to abide in Christ? A couple of other scriptures will help us to understand the concept more clearly. Who has Psalm 1: 1-3?

Jeremiah 17: 7,8 draws a similar analogy. Who has that? Both of these passages use the analogy of a tree and talk about the tree bearing fruit, much like we talked about with the apple tree last week. Both also use the imagery of the tree being by a stream. The streams are the source of nourishment for the trees and there are some important lessons to be learned from how the trees use the water supplied by the streams. If it is a dry season and the tree gets just a little water, all of that water goes to keeping the tree alive, just sustaining its life. If it is able to get more water than what is needed to sustain life, then it uses the additional water to grow and develop. When it is able to get water in abundance, it can direct that extra water to producing fruit.

The same is true spiritually. As we abide in Christ and have our roots fed by the waters He provides, we can ultimately bear much fruit. If we get just a little water, we will just be able to maintain spiritually. If we get some extra, then we can grow. If we get even more, then we will bear fruit. What is that water. It involves several things, but the key ingredient is defined most clearly in Psalms 1: 2 … but his delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law he meditates day and night. The other key element is prayer. We must spend much time abiding in Christ in the Word and in prayer if we are going to bear much fruit.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 7

A group that we often think of when we talk about investing in the souls of men are evangelists. Here are some pictures of some evangelists, in fact this group of evangelists have something interesting in common. Does anyone recognize any of these men.

The two men on the left are Dwight L. Moody and Billy Sunday. They both are estimated to have won about 1 million people to Christ. The two men on the right are Wilbur Chapman and Mordecai Ham. They are estimated to have won about a half million people to Christ each. All of them of course did this through large evangelistic crusades. The interesting story and connection is that Wilbur Chapman attended a Moody Crusade and received personal counseling from Moody that gave him assurance of his salvation and set the stage for him to become an evangelist. Billy Sunday was a professional baseball player who began assisting at the Chapman crusades. He heard Chapman’s sermons so often that he had them memorized and asked to fill in for Chapman once when he was sick. His sermon was so effective, that the crusade was extended and people started asking him to hold crusades.

One of those who went to his crusades was Mordecai Ham. Mr. Ham was already a Christian, but he was struggling with assurance of his salvation. He was able to meet with Billy Sunday and received personal counseling from him after the crusade meeting, resulting in him gaining that assurance and going on to become an evangelist himself, winning a half million to Christ in his crusades.

One evening in 1934 when Mordecai Ham was holding a crusade in Charlotte, NC, two young men, recently graduated from high school came forward to accept Christ … Grady Wilson and Billy Graham. They teamed up together in response to God’s call to hold evangelistic crusades and ultimately led over 5 million people to Christ. So together these 5 evangelists have led over 8 million people to Christ. So what am I telling you? Am I telling you that God wants each of us to become evangelists holding crusades around the world? No, I’m not … let me tell you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

Dwight L. Moody did not come to Christ through a crusade. He had moved to Boston as a teen where he lived with his uncle and worked for him in his shoe store. He started attending a local church and became part of a Sunday school class there. How many people here are Sunday school teachers or lead a small group? This Sunday school’s teacher was named Edward Kimball. Mr Kimball made it a practice to get to know each of his pupils personally and to visit them to be able to share the gospel with them personally. He visited Moody one Saturday in the shoe store and Moody responded to his invitation to accept Christ. Over 8 million souls who have come to Christ because one Sunday school teacher obeyed the call of God to share the gospel.

I believe that this is what God is calling each of us to … to be ready and willing to share the gospel with those around you. I’m not talking about being obnoxious and feeling like you have to pounce on everyone you meet. I’m simply talking about being prepared, knowing how to share the gospel, and looking for opportunities to share, recognizing where God is working and there are open doors. And not only that, but investing in other Christ-followers by helping them to learn how to replicate the process.

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