Tag Archives: luke 14:25-35

What does it really mean to follow Jesus? Luke 14:25-35

4 Jan

Just as the military recruiter had a wonderful offer for me, to be a chaplain, Jesus has an offer for you: Are you interested in being his disciple?  And just as I had to consider how becoming a military chaplain would affect my family and my church, Jesus says that before becoming his disciple, we need to consider what it will involve.

He tells some parables in Luke 14:25-35 to explain what you need to do. They are pretty simple:

First, in verses 28-30, he says you need to be like the builder who thoroughly plans out his building. You don’t take the building preparation lightly. If you do, and you get halfway into building and you realize you screwed up the plans, and you have to stop…it will be awful. Not only will you have wasted a lot of time and money, but you’ll have a half-building and be the ridicule of the town.

Second, in verses 31-32, you need to be like a king who plans out a battle carefully. Otherwise you might have to seek a treaty rather than get the win.

And why does he tell these stories? He wants to sum up the principle of counting the cost of discipleship. You have a choice to be his disciple or not to be. If you want to be his disciple, then he says in verse 33, like the builder and the king you have to plan it out and know ahead of time that there is only one way to be disciple, and that is to give up everything for him.

There is no half building and half battle. Likewise there is no half disciple.   There is no “I’ll just believe in him so I can go to heaven when I die…and I’ll leave the hard disciple stuff up to others.” Jesus is saying that won’t work. As his brother James would later go on to write in James chapter 2, even the demons believe.   But there is a wrong belief and a right belief. The wrong belief is what the demons have. They know Jesus is the truth, they know he is the savior. But their belief doesn’t lead to a life change. So they have the wrong kind of belief.

We need to have right belief. Belief that leads to discipleship. There is no halfway. Instead we need to go all the way, give up everything, and believe in him and then completely follow him.

That’s why he says in verses 34-35 that halfway believers are like salt that has gone stale. Thrown out.

So again I ask, will you be his disciple?

What will it look like for you to be his disciple?

Start where he wants you to start. Come to him, with everything. Follow him. Give up all for him. There is no other way.

Or maybe there is another way? Thinking back to the military recruiter who had an offer for me, when you join the military, would it be fair to say that you give up your life? And you have to do things the military way? Does the military have a lower tier where you can still be in the military but not have to give up your life? Is it possible to just go to a meeting once per week, read the manual, and still get paid? Of course not.

When you follow Jesus, it’s all or nothing, he is saying. But this is where it can get confusing.

You do not have to become a missionary or a pastor to give up all to follow him. If you are gifted to do those things, of course you should consider them a viable option.  But most should still be an employee at your job, a stay-at-home mom, a student at school, a neighbor, a dad, a grandparent. And in all of those important areas of life, you allow Jesus to have complete control over you.

As we have seen Jesus teach, and as we have seen him confront the legalists, giving Jesus complete control is not about following man-made religious rules. Instead it is saying “Jesus I want to give up all to you, I want to learn what it means to follow you way every minute, every hour, every day of my life.”

Make 2016 the year where you make forward steps in following Jesus.

If you know you are struggling to follow him in some way, then I encourage you to get that out in the open. To not only tell Jesus about it, and not only to ask him to help you follow him better and help you change, but also tell it to someone else.   Get input and help from someone that is farther along in following Jesus, and ask them to disciple you to help you better follow Jesus.

That time a military recruiter called me with an amazing proposal

31 Dec

A couple years ago, I got one of those out-of-the blue calls that sounded legit, but also made me very suspicious.  It was from a military recruiter, the Army Reserves to be precise.

At the time I was 39 years old.  Not quite the age anymore to be considered for military service.  He explained that he was recruiting for the military chaplaincy, and at 39 I had a couple more years before I would be too old to start a career in the military.  He told me I didn’t need to worry…I wouldn’t have to go through basic training!

I would, however, have to go through a chaplaincy training program, but the Army Reserves realizes that its chaplains are usually already in full-time ministry, so they try to fit the training around a pastor’s schedule.

As a chaplain in the reserves, after my training was complete, my responsibilities would be just like any other Reservist, spending one weekend per month on base, and two weeks each summer.  Of course, if my unit got called up to active duty, I would go with them.  The recruiter assured me that many of their chaplains are full-time pastors, and their churches work around their Reserves schedule.

Additionally, and this piqued my interest, I would be qualified for a military pension if I served 20 years, and because I already had my master’s degree, I would start my military career as an officer!

I couldn’t believe it.  I had not sought this out.  I had not had a conversation with the chaplains in my denomination.  It came completely as a surprise.  How did he find out about me?

Maybe he just looked on my denomination’s website?  I don’t know.  And it doesn’t really matter how he found out.  What mattered was that this was a serious offer, and I needed to evaluate it.

I have to admit that there was an inkling of interest deep within me.  I liked the idea of a military pension.  I liked the idea of being an officer is the US Army.  And I’ve heard from my military chaplain colleagues how many wonderful ministry opportunities there are for chaplains.  I like all of that, and it excited me.

So Michelle and I needed to talk about it.  We needed to pray about it.  If I became a military chaplain, it could deeply impact my family.  Would my wife and kids be okay with having me gone so much?  And what if my unit got called up, and I went to serve in a war zone?

I also needed to talk with my church, or at least the group of leaders in my church that could give me honest feedback about this decision.  It was an opportunity that could also deeply impact our church.  My church already graciously and wisely allows me one Sunday off preaching every month.  It doesn’t always happen, but I’m very thankful for it.  This chaplaincy opportunity would go well beyond the once/month off though.  Would the church be okay with me being gone so much?  And what would happen to this full-time ministry that I committed to before the Lord and before the church if my unit did get called up and I would be gone for months?

Simply put, for an opportunity like this, I would have to count the cost.  And I would have to get others to join the evaluation process with me.  It was an amazing opportunity.  Very enticing.  But it came with a cost.

This coming Sunday at Faith Church we will study Luke 14:25-35, a passage about counting the cost.  Check it out before worship on Sunday.  Like that recruiter, God is offering you an amazing opportunity, as we’ll see in this teaching by Jesus, but we need to count the cost.

So we invite you to join us to learn more.