Tag Archives: commitment

Discipleship is Kingdom Building

There are several common misnomers among those who seek to grow the church. The first is that church growth is all about numbers. The second is is that God wants the church to grow. In regards to the first, do not hear what I am not saying… I am not saying that new people coming into a saving relationship with Jesus is not important. It is, has been and always will be vital.
However, in the great commission Jesus does not tell us to go out and increase our numbers. He tells us to go make disciples. Most church growth interests are about closing the deal, people in the pews, numbers going up and to the right. This is not a bad thing. It’s more like a half completed wall mural. It leaves many wondering what else was supposed to be there. When we ruthlessly focus on discipleship, the numbers work themselves out.

In regards to the second, God is not interested in growing the church [in terms of numbers]. He is however very much interested in building His kingdom. God’s kingdom is where the many care more about the needs of the lost sheep than their personal needs.

To that end I want to share with you what it is that I do.
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The groups that I lead are filled with courageous men.  They may not feel comfortable with this imposed descriptor, but the bottom line is-they are.  They have done what few others have done, and have embarked on a journey to grow in the likeness of Jesus.  They want to be covered in the Dust of their Rabbi, Jesus.  But this journey is not like any other they have traveled, for they have given themselves to the others who are also following Jesus.  We constantly work at transparency, vulnerability and openness to others. We practice speaking into each other’s lives as we keep their eyes on Jesus.  Just as the Spirit of Truth testifies about Jesus (John 15:26), so these men choose daily to listen to the Spirit’s testimony while striving to follow.

Do they do it perfectly?  Does anyone follow Jesus perfectly?  Obviously no.  We do however, choose to surrender our will for God’s.  Each group of men I challenge to pray.  We utilize lots of spiritual prayer practices.  One prayer that I challenge them to pray each day has this line, “I commit myself to the role you have invited me to play, as you are building the likeness of your Son, Jesus, in me….”

Two important points:
First, it is our choice to ignore the call of our Savior or to commit to it.  When Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James and John from their fishing boats in Matthew 4:18-22, they have a choice to make, but the commitment is all or nothing.  They either get out of the boat and follow, or they stay in the fish business.  
But this isn’t the only time they have to decide to be “all in.”  In John 6:66-69, the crowds are leaving Jesus because His teaching is too difficult, too demanding.  Jesus asks the disciples if they are going to leave or stay.  It is Peter who answers that they aren’t going anywhere, they are “all in.” There are many other scriptural references where the disciples need to re-up their commitment to follow.

My point is simply this; committing to the call to follow and to become more like Jesus today than we were yesterday, is a daily choice. 

Second, it is Jesus who calls us to be like Him, and in that calling, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is building His likeness, His Kingdom in us.  This Kingdom is where the power of God is lived out by those who follow the King.  When we choose to forgive, to repent, to show compassion, to speak the truth, to live a servant attitude, we imitate how our Rabbi, Jesus lived and taught. As we make these obedient choices, the Kingdom is more realized in our simple act of obedience and faithfulness.  

One of the guys in our group recently shared that he was in a conversation at work and found himself tempted to lie. He said he was convicted by the Holy Spirit that there was no reason to lie and to be faithful to Jesus. The beauty in this model is that, not only was he striving to listen, willing to obey, but also to share his experience with a group of brothers in the journey. It is the role we have been given, to commit fully, continually.

“It is the role of every Disciple, to commit fully, continually.”

God is building His Kingdom in us, one relationship at a time. I am honored to be in the journey with these men. I know I am closer to Jesus because of the work of the Holy Spirit and them. In John 5:17 Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”  

Thus the question of discipleship is twofold: Are we fully committed; are we all in? And are we continually renewing our commitment to be like Jesus, by obedience, trust and in community?

Join with me on the journey. There is always room!

Discipleship and the Planet Pluto

There has been a lot in the news lately about the historic NASA mission of the New Horizon’s spacecraft to visit the planet Pluto. This grand piano sized satellite traveled faster than any other earth space craft at a speed of 30,800 miles per hour. At that fastest speed of any known space craft it still took New horizons 9.5 years to cover the 9 billion miles to the dwarf planet. The radio signal from New Horizons to earth to let us know that it had arrived and was functioning took 4 hours and 25 minutes to make the trip of 9 billion miles, and that signal was traveling at the speed of light.

Why all the statistics? Well, besides being a Jesus follower, I also am a nerd [and I mean that with all affection and positiveness.] It’s fascinating to me the amount of time, energy, money, and hard work that it took to achieve this historic achievement.

Something like this doesn’t happen over night. It takes serious commitment and time. To travel through space, endure extreme cold, and radiation, takes careful planning and resoluteness.

Nine and a half years, think about that. What are you committed to for nine and half years? Once New Horizons was launched and began it’s journey there was no turning back. There were all kinds of obstacles and deterrents, but the commitment to go was one way.

This mission to Pluto has brought to the surface, once again the discussion about colonizing the planet Mars. With our best technology and planning and commitment, it is said that if it can happen, those that go, are going with the knowledge that it is a one way trip. If they reach Mars, if they are able to build a sustainable living on Mars, there is no coming back. The technology simply doesn’t exist to get them back to earth. It is a lifetime commitment. Once they lift off, the world behind them, there is no turning back. It will be a one way trip into the unknown.

This led me to reflect on our discipleship journey. Following Jesus is all about commitment. Yet it seems that many in the post modern church have made commitment a dirty word. Why do we think that following Jesus is any less of a commitment than what it takes to build a space craft to travel nine billion miles? Why do we think that discipleship is a journey, in which we have all kinds of options, that our opinion is important, that we chose if it is convenient, and give attention to if we have nothing better to do?
Where do we see Jesus invite his disciples to focus on him for one hour a week and then spend the rest of the week critiquing whether they felt entertained, energized, equipped, and enabled to go about doing what they want to do the rest of the week?
In fact we see the exact opposite:
Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Luke 14:33 “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our Jesus is looking for people who are all in.

Our Jesus is looking for people who are all in. Our Jesus is calling people to give their all. Our Jesus expects 100% of us 100% of the time. Our Jesus is presuming commitment.
In a conversation that I with a disciple this week, we were sharing our ideas about trusting in Jesus rather than fighting for control in our lives. We ended our time by encouraging one another and reminding one another that there is a reason that most of the time the commitment to journey with Jesus is called the “practice of discipleship.” The mistakes, not withstanding, do not weaken our commitment on the journey to be more like Jesus today than we were yesterday.

Hillsong produced a song back in 2013 entitled “Christ is Enough” that uses the lyrics from an old hymn. “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back.” Video for Christ Is Enough by Hill Song

We all need to be encouraged/challenged in our discipleship. I have decided to follow Jesus. The world behind us, the cross [dying to self] before us. No turning back, no turning back!

Suggested Dusty Discipleship practices…

1. Do a spiritual inventory, how is your commitment level to Jesus? Is there anything you are not doing that you should be doing?
2. Click the link above and listen to the song, Christ Is Enough, and talk with Jesus, reaffirm to Him that he is your reward and all that you will ever need.
3. Challenge “convenience” thinking in your life. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life that commands your commitment and obedience.

As always, I look forward to journeying with you, as we are covered in the dust of our Rabbi, Jesus!