Tag Archives: disciples of jesus

How Jesus invites us to be like Olympic athletes

11 Feb

Are you excited for the Olympics in Rio this summer?   Already you have probably been hearing about athletes who are training for the summer Olympics in Rio. I am really looking forward to the Olympics, as I always enjoy watching the competition. It is awesome to see what these athletes can accomplish, and it is a blast cheering for them. To get to that high level of performance, Olympians train, and train and train. They have many practices, many habits they follow in order to perform athletic feats at a world-class level. Olympians have habits that regulate their eating, drinking, sleeping, free time, not to mention the cardio training, weight training, and training for specific athletic events.

If you want to get your body operating at premium athletic levels, you have to fine-tune it with a commitment to daily habits.

We’ve talked a lot lately about being disciples and making disciples. Disciples make more disciples. But whether you are thinking about yourself, how you can grow more as a disciple of Jesus, or whether you are thinking about how to help other people grow as disciples of Jesus, we need to ask “What should a disciple of Jesus do?” Just like Olympic athletes, are there habits or practices that we should be known for?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”  Jesus gave us habits, practices that he wanted us, his disciples to follow. Some of them we learn by just watching him. Then we do what he did. What did he do? In Luke we have seen him regularly get alone for times of prayer. We have seen him make disciples. So prayer and making disciples are two things he did, and thus they are two practices that we must do.  How are you doing in those areas?

But there are other important practices that we disciples of Jesus should learn.  He specifically teaches a number of them. As we continue our teaching series through the story of Jesus’ life in the book of Luke, we come to Luke chapter 17, verses 1-19.  In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples six practices that they should incorporate into their daily lives.

So what are these six practices?  Read ahead, and you are welcome to join us at Faith Church this coming Sunday to learn more!

How to change a foul mouth to a good one – Luke 6:43-45

13 May

foul-language-660x440Do you have a foul mouth?

Has it ever gotten you into trouble?

Have you wished you could change?

In our ongoing study of Luke, this past Sunday we looked at Luke 6:43-45 where Jesus mentions “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”.

All of us have times when we have allowed a lot of junk to come out of our mouths. We need to ask forgiveness for that. We also need to forgive ourselves. God has forgiven us. We need to move on.  Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut believing we’ll never change.  Or “that’s just the way I am”.  Jesus, however, says that if we put the good things of God in our lives something amazing can happen.

It is possible to change!  In Jesus’ teaching he says that we can transform from being bad trees with bad fruit to becoming good trees that bear good fruit.  In other words, we can change those dirty mouths into good ones.  To do that we need store good things in our lives, in our hearts.

If what we store in the heart is what comes out, then it is vital for us to be people who get God’s good things in our hearts! Two questions arise: What are God’s good things? And how do we get them in our hearts?

First, what are the good things? The Spirit of God and the word of God are the best good things, and as we talk about the next question, I think you’ll see why they are good things.

The next question is how do we get them in there?  There are many ways.  Here are just a few:

1. It starts with deciding to follow Jesus.  When we decide to become Jesus’ disciples, that begins a relationship with him.  It is a relationship that is based on seeing his ways as the best possible way to live.  Thus we actively seek to make his ways our ways.  He also promises to give us his Spirit to live with us.  Becoming a follower of Jesus, then, radically opens the possibility for our inner life to be transformed!  And when our inner lives change, the change in our outer life will follow.

2. Next practice humility and teachability to recognize the Climate and Culture we live in. We’re like fish in water. Fish are not aware of the water because it constantly surrounds them. Like the air we breathe, most of our life we have little idea about how our culture is affecting us. We are accustomed to it. But we need to be people who can accurately point out how, when, where and why our culture might be like that weed killer I talked about last week. Can you accurately evaluate culture? Are you able to watch a TV commercial or listen to a song (even if it has awesome music) and figure out if it is influencing you? Are you able to watch a TV show, read a book, or a video online and honestly say “yeah, that’s weed killer”? If you’re pouring weed killer into your life, stop!  Stop pouring the bad things into your life. I get that this is hard because it is such a huge part of our culture to consume all kinds of media. I personally struggle with where to draw the line as far as what is good for me and what is bad for me.  I would encourage you to use a resource like CPYU’s 3-D Guide to help you learn to make these kinds of decisions.

3. In addition to removing the negative influences in our lives, we need to get the good things into our lives. I encourage you to start with prayer. Maybe start your day with prayer. Or join us on Wednesdays at 7pm at Faith Church for prayer meeting. Another great idea is to practice the presence of God!

4. Add Meditation on Scripture. You might hear that word “meditation” and think of yoga or Buddhism, but there is a big difference between eastern meditation and biblical meditation. In eastern meditation, you are emptying your mind. In biblical meditation you fill your mind with God’s word. You read it, you think about it deeply. You pray about it, you ask God to help you to understand it and apply it to your life.  In your personal bible study, I urge you to go beyond the Daily Bread and start to meditate on Scripture.  If you aren’t sure how to do that, let me know, and I’d be glad to help you learn.  Maybe add Scripture memory. See Psalm 119:9-11 for how powerful scripture memory is. Get involved in study groups. At Faith Church we have Care Groups and Sunday classes we’d love to invite you to!

5. A another way to get God’s good things into your life is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Your body is the temple, and God’s Spirit lives in you”?  In Ephesians 5:17-21, Paul says we can be filled with the Spirit. Hearing that you might question if I already said that when we become followers of Christ that God’s Spirit already lives in us? Yes, but there is a difference between having the Spirit in your life and being filled with the Spirit.

Let me explain this way. In Acts 4:23-31 the disciples prayed for the filling of the Spirit. The Spirit had already come to them in Acts 2:1-4.   But they wanted more of the Spirit. We can be a follower of Jesus and have the Spirit in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we are completely filled with the Spirit. We can be blocking off parts of our lives, not allowing the Spirit to have access to those parts of our lives. You can be rejoicing in the Spirit on Sunday morning, but soaking up pornography Sunday night.

This is why Paul says in Galatians 5:16-25 that we should seek to walk in step with the Spirit (obey!) and his fruit will come out of your life.  If you’re filled with the Spirit, his fruit will come out of your life.  So perhaps you need to be filled with the Spirit.  Would you start by asking him to fill you?  Then follow through by obeying his wishes for your life.

6. Finally, allow God’s good things to enter your life in Worship.  I’m specifically thinking about musical worship.  Is there a kind of music that you find helps you worship the Lord?  Would you consider playing that music more often?  I have found that when I’m driving or washing the dishes that worship music really encourages me.  A few years when training for a half-marathon, I had to do a ten-mile run.  The skies were looking gloomy, so I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. Ten miles is a long time to be on a treadmill, so I listened to my Pandora worship station via my smartphone.  At one point a powerful song came on and I had a worship moment I’ll never forget…right there in the gym, pounding it out on the treadmill!

What will you start doing to deposit God’s good things into your life?  Take in his good things in and watch him transform your life!

How to grow as a disciple of Jesus in an already busy world – 1st Corinthians 15:58

15 Oct

WaldoJesusLast week I introduced Sunday’s sermon on 1st Corinthians 15:58 by asking what we do if we want to serve God more, but our lives are so busy.  Out of that question comes another one: isn’t okay to just believe in Jesus, or do we need to be radicals?

1st Corinthians 15:58 closes out a long discussion Paul is having about the resurrection.  Because the resurrection is true, he says, it is a world-changing event that begs us to give our lives in response. The problem is that we haven’t often heard what it means to be a disciple. Instead we have bought in to the idea of levels of commitment to God, as I mentioned before.

An article was published recently that describes in more detail how Christians in our country have looked at commitment to Jesus, and it is scary. The author, Ed Stetzer, says that Christians in our country can be divided nearly evenly into three groups, each making up about 25% of our nation’s population. As you hear me describe Stetzer’s three groups, I want you to think about which one you are in.

First, he says there are “Cultural Christians, [who] are simply those who, when asked, say they are a Christian rather than say they are an atheist or Jewish. They are “Christian” for no other reason than they are from America and don’t consider themselves something else.” Does that describe you? Not sure? Here’s the next group.

He calls them “Congregational Christian[s]. This person generally does not really have a deep commitment, but they will consider themselves as Christians because they have some loose connection to a church—through a family member, maybe an infant baptism, or some holiday attendance.” How about that group? Does describe you? Maybe you are in the…

The final group he calls “Convictional Christians, [and they] are those people who self-identify as Christian who orient their life around their faith in Christ. This includes a wide range of what Christian is—not just evangelicals, for example. It means someone says they are a Christian and it is meaningful to them.”

If we apply these three designations to what Paul has just taught us in 1st Corinthians, Paul is saying that we need to be last group, Convictional Christians.  Stetzer goes on to explain that the first two groups are what he calls nominal Christians, meaning they are Christians in name only. As we have been talking about for the last few weeks, people in those first two groups, the Cultural or Congregational Christians might have a semblance of belief in the content of the Gospel, but they do not have the commitment.

Stetzer predicts that “The nominals will increasingly become nones…They’re simply calling themselves Christians because that’s who they consider themselves to be, not because of any life change or ongoing commitment. Those types of Christians, about half of the population now, will become a minority in a few decades.”

So what we do about this? We do exactly what Paul says. If you feel you are in Group 1 or 2, Paul is saying that we need to be in Group 3, the group that stands firm, lets nothing move you, in your belief and commitment to the resurrection and mission of Jesus. He says that we should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.

So what will that look like this afternoon, tomorrow at work, in the cafeteria of your school, or as you rake your leaves or watch TV?

Here are some practical steps that another writer suggests.

In a busy, busy world, it is possible to “always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.”  So what does that mean for you?

Going deeper with Jesus, and other phrases that make you think “blah, blah, blah.”

9 Feb

“Going deeper with Christ.”

How many times have you heard that?  A billion?

“More passion for Christ!  More intimate relationship with Jesus!”

Blah, blah, blah.  We’ve heard it over and over…

Any of you hear that phrase “going deeper” and tune out because you’ve heard it so many times, and you’re just not sure what it means OR how to go deeper?  Maybe you’re not sure you want to try.

You ever hear someone call another person “deep.”?

What is a deep person?

What is a mature person?

What does it mean to grow up?

Here’s a video clip that, when it comes to going deeper with Jesus, or when it comes to your relationship with church, just might describe the situation precisely.

Is something wrong if you are not making disciples?

26 Jan

Have you ever made a disciple?  By “making disciples”, I don’t mean disciples of yourself, but instead I mean disciples of Jesus.  Have you ever helped a person grow closer to Jesus, be more committed to him?

Jesus said the he would make his disciples “fishers of men.”  Essentially, he was saying that he would help them do what he did.  That takes us to our sermon last Sunday.  Jesus did make those original disciples into fishers of men.  He concluded his time with them by saying to them, “make disciples.”  Once they had become his disciples, he wanted them to make more.  And more. And more.

So is something wrong if you and I are not making disciples?  What if you have been a part of a church for years, maybe even decades, but you’ve never made a disciple.  Is that okay?  Is it bad?  Is it possible, if you are not “fishers of men” that you are not a disciple yourself?

Check out these remarks by Ed Stetzer.  Ed is a guy who studies the church around the world, particularly from the viewpoint of reaching out and starting new churches.  Hear what he recently said about discipleship:

One of the compelling statements from [a recent conference] was in reference to who could be a disciple-maker. One of our speakers declared that the New Testament expectations for those who would hold an official office in the church were extremely high. However, he went on to say, the qualifications for those who would make disciples are much, much less intense. His point was merely that disciple-making should be a normal function of every Christ follower. In the more healthy and growing expressions the global church, this is an expectation.

Do you expect this of yourself?  Does your church expect it of you?  How so?  How do you show that “disciple-making is a normal function” of your life?