Tag Archives: Kingdom

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 Trust = Submitting My Rights

The Kingdom of Jesus is the exact opposite of the way our world operates today.

In addition to the traditional pro-life, pro-choice battle, increasingly polarized opinions keep popping up. Homosexual vs. Straight. Left vs. Right. Pro Gun vs. Anti Gun. Black vs. Hispanic vs. White vs. Asian vs. fill-in-the-blank., Pro-smoking vs. Anti-smoking, Pro Law enforcement vs. Anti Law enforcement. We have been fed a steady diet of polarizing views to entertain and sell advertising dollars and garner viewers. Each side presents their case/cause as the only correct way and paints a portrait of the opposing view as the depiction of evil.

This is not new. The voices are just louder through the voice of the media, internet, Facebook, Instagram and even blogs. At the heart of all of this is the idea that I must assert my opinion over your opinion, because I, necessarily know what is right/best for me. My assumption, of my rightness, does not stop here. Because I assume it is right for me, it should be right for you, and you should see that. We have come a long way or digressed, from the pluralism that ruled the thinking of the 60’s-90’s.

This me-first attitude goes all the way back to the garden of Eden, with Satan’s temptation of Eve that God was holding out on her and Adam, and did not want them to know what God knew. [See Genesis 3:4-5]

Who do we trust more? Ourselves or our Creator?

At that point in time Adam and Eve made a decision that all humanity would struggle with for the rest of existence. Who do we trust more? Ourselves or our Creator?

So look at Matthew 5:39-42, where Jesus says, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Here is the trust factor. Our Jesus said it. Are we willing to trust Him enough to do it? Every message we see from the world encourages us to strike back, seek revenge, hire a lawyer, sue, hold on to what we have tightly, and do the bare minimum that we are required to do, because those requiring us do not have our best interests in mind.

In the Kingdom of Jesus, the only excuse for holding tightly is holding on to Jesus, trusting in Him and obeying Him. People act like God’s sovereignty is up for debate. God will accomplish His kingdom. We have been invited to play a part in that kingdom. Our part is to concenter* the power of God in a display of our obedience. When we give up our right so that what Jesus said we should do, gets done the world sits up and takes notice. Labels are strewn around; crazy, lunatic, ineffective. From the mind that thinks like the rest of the world, they would be right. From the heart of the Gospel, we are only doing what we ought to have done. [See Luke 17:10]

God is not looking for mindless automatons that blindly follow. Rather, God sent His Son, so that we would have a relationship. In the context of that relationship, I would willingly submit what I want for doing what Jesus wants, in spite of what the world tells me is in my best interest.

That is a synopsis of my life’s calling – to journey with others as we grow dusty in this life-giving, life-transforming power of a relationship with Jesus characterized by submitting my will for Jesus Kingdom.

*Concenter definition – the act of bringing together something around a common center, place or concept.