ON PURPOSE – Discipleship

Hebrews 12_2a

How well do you play Follow the Leader?   Do you watch carefully to mimic every movement, or do you get frustrated and jump to the front eager to blaze your own trail and display your fine leadership skills?  When Jesus called his disciples he said, “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4:19). And the job description for Disciple has not changed in the last 2,000 years.  The CHRISTian church is called to be disciples and to follow Christ, and not just on Sunday mornings.  God sent his son to offer us a way to salvation, to prepare us for a life in the kingdom, and to show us how to love and how to live.

The angels rejoice with each and every new Christian – but there are warnings against remaining an infant in Christ.  The goal is to be mature in Christ.  This comes from developing the discipline (habit) of spending time studying every movement, thought, teaching, and attitude of Christ in order to follow his lead. Discipleship will include other disciplines, but it must begin and continue to grow with a constant diet of God’s word. Jesus studied, knew, and used scriptures well, which built the foundation for him to follow his Father. So we should do the same!

Hebrews 12:1-3 says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Make time today to fix your gaze on Jesus so you will be able to mirror his moves. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) would be a great place to start. You could listen to it while driving, mowing, cleaning, eating… whatever your day has in store.

Be a follower!

Marcia

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On the Counter

Acts 4 13

Read Acts 4 (especially verses 13-22)

Grandma Wilma was the best cook. It was universally accepted by my family. She cooked everything from homemade chicken and dumplings, to the best lemon cake you have ever had. Even when she made bacon we all fought over the little bits that were leftover. It was all so delicious.

I was a curious child so I always wanted to help grandma cook. It was fascinating. I loved to see all the different ingredients for everything and it finally got to the point where I would sit on the counter next to the stove and constantly ask questions about how everything was cooked. Thus, my love for cooking began. Now I am no well-trained chef but I can cook anything because of the principles my Grandma Wilma taught me, and I am confident that I can learn more because of the time I spent with her.

In chapter 4 of Acts, we see that Peter and John are being ridiculed for healing the man in the previous chapter. They are also still speaking about the resurrection of Jesus in such a way that it is bothering the chief priests and scribes. Not only are they speaking about this they are recognizably untrained by a temple priest; however, they are recognized by having been with Jesus. (Now he was a pretty cool guy) Apparently, Jesus’ influence led Peter and John to understand certain things and have confidence in the message that Jesus had told them to speak about the kingdom and the resurrection.

After they spoke they were threatened to death if they kept talking about the resurrection, but having seen Jesus after His resurrection they knew they did not have to fear the ones who were threatening them.

Just like my Grandma was able to teach me how to cook when I sat next to her on the counter, Jesus was able to teach and show the disciples how to teach boldly, and have confidence in the message because they had been with Him. This is the definition of discipleship. They didn’t need a fancy education to understand what Jesus had done for them, or what he had started. All they needed was to be with Him.

Here is my take away, the more time you spend in Jesus’ teachings and discovering what He said, the more confident you will be in your ability to share those teachings. Some people might even recognize you as having been with Jesus.

Jesse Allen

 

How to Find Life

Matt 10 38

Matthew 10:37-39

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

After commissioning the twelve apostles, Jesus proceeds to teach them about what this commissioning entails. First, they will be persecuted (vv. 16-25), but they don’t need to be afraid because God will be with them and cares for them (vv. 26-31). Then comes a section that deals with the seriousness of the need to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, which can be a controversial subject (vv. 32-39). Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but a sword (v. 34). This proclamation is not Jesus’ war cry as though his intention is to bring violence, but rather, it reveals that Jesus recognizes and discloses that he will be a point of contention and disagreement for many people. In other words, the truth that Jesus came to bring (and which he represents) will inevitably cause disunity and conflict.

It is on the heels of this declaration by Jesus that we read of the even more severe nature of this conflict—it may happen even within one’s own family. Jesus assumes the natural love of one’s family as a premise and then moves to identify that as a lesser priority in life than love for him. When he says that a person who loves him less than their family is “not worthy” of me (v. 37), he is making a value claim upon himself as more important than them. To be “worthy of me” means to “be fit to be a disciple.” It is important to clarify that Jesus is not advocating that his disciples not love their families. Instead, he is simply stipulating that the value attachment of a person to their family must not exceed their value attachment to him. To be Jesus’ disciple is to prize him above even one’s own flesh and blood.

The implications of this statement are far reaching. Who would say that loving a brother, sister, child, or parent should be subservient to the love of another? But this is precisely the demand that Jesus is making of his disciples. It is a declaration of discipleship that calls for absolute devotion. This extreme requirement is extended as Jesus also says that those who would follow him must “take [up] their cross” (v. 38). This is an expression referring to being willing to self-identify and endure the shame and suffering of one who is crucified.

Jesus elaborates by uttering one of the most interesting paradoxes: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (v. 39). In essence, Jesus is saying that the life that matters is the life that is lived for the sake of Christ. To take the road of self-denial and live for something other than one’s self is to “find life.”

From these three criteria of discipleship, where do we find ourselves? Are we willing to follow Jesus no matter what? Does our love for him exceed our love for anything else? Are we willing to take up our cross? Are we will to die to self in order to find that which may truly be called “life”? Such a price is the price of being a disciple. Are we willing to pay that price? What might be stopping us from wholehearted devotion and service to the Master?

-Jerry Wierwille

 

A Lesson from Africa: Leadership

Missions Spotlight: Africa

africa church inside

400 CoG Churches spread across the plains and mountains of Malawi, Mozambique and Kenya.  This past year alone, there have been 23 new church plants in Mozambique and 7 in Malawi! This year, new Church headquarter buildings will be established in Mozambique and Kenya. God is moving in Africa! Pictured is a new church building in Kenya.

 

How did Jesus set up the church to work? Well I’m so glad you asked that question because that is the perfect question to help us lead into today’s topic which is leadership. Christ designed the church around a leadership, evangelism, and then discipleship model. This work begins when a leader who is strong in the faith and well educated on the gospel talks to people about it – a.k.a evangelism. So once this leader has effectively spread the gospel to someone and they decided that they want to become a follower of Christ they start down the path of discipleship. Discipleship is a Christianese word that means to train and grow someone in their faith. Once a person has spent a sufficient time studying the word and learning about Jesus they themselves become leaders and the cycle starts all over. This is how the early church went from 12 people to the official religion of Rome in 300 years! Jesus was our first leader who trained his 12 disciples and then they took it from there. Now that is a simplified version of the New Testament record but that is essentially what happened. The amazing thing is that this model of church has overcome persecution, death, plagues, famine, and time to reach us today. We can be proud that some 2,000 years later we are still carrying out Jesus’ great commission, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matt. 28:19-20.

 

A perfect example of this leadership are the pastors of Africa bringing the gospel to their people. About 25 years ago a missionary from our conference discipled a single individual and today there are over 400 churches in Malawi, Mozambique, and Kenya. That is amazing – from 1 person to 400 churches in 25 years! God must be blessing these pastors and no small part of their success is due to their understanding of Biblical leadership. Even though these pastors don’t have the resources we have here in the states they still get the job done. They walk miles on foot to spread gospel, they live morally righteous lives, and sacrifice of themselves to spread the good news. If that isn’t a perfect model of leadership, I don’t know what is.  When I saw them in Africa, I saw Christ in them. I saw them spreading the gospel, making disciples, and empowering believers to be leaders themselves. I saw their undying loyalty to the truth and devotion to live righteous lives despite famine, war, death of children, and poverty; they do not give up and they effectively spread the gospel.

 

Let’s learn from and be inspired by our African brothers who spread the gospel with no fear or hesitation. They are living proof to one of my favorite scriptures Acts 1:8, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The best part of talking about all of this evangelism and leadership is realizing that the mission field is just as big here, in the USA, as it is in Africa. We need leaders now and in the next generation to come and speak truth. We also need to support our leaders now to continue to carry the truth.

 

If you would like to support our brethren in Africa with new church buildings along with fertilizer and seed for crops, please follow this link.  Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain