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Discipleship Quote 4

“I can find in my undergraduate classes, bright students who do not know that the stars rise and set at night, or even that the Sun is a star.” -The late Carl Sagan, astronomer

For a Christian to not understand the Kingdom of God is on the same embarrassing level as Carl Sagan’s undergraduate student who doesn’t know that the stars rise and set at night, or that the Sun is a star.  (Lesson 1, Page 13)

 

Bumper Sticker Discipleship

“In an age when facilities for rapid communication of the Gospel are available to the Church as never before, we are actually accomplishing less in winning the world for God than before the invention of the horseless carriage.” – Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism

Coleman’s observation is right on point and speaks eloquently to the contemporary Church’s fascination with social media. A fascination, I might add, that has yet to prove it’s effectiveness in furthering the Church’s mission of making disciples. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it is effective. We live in an age of bumper stickers, and I’m not referring to the ones on cars or “flower power” vans. Too “old school”! Today’s bumper stickers are digital. They’re on your computer in the form of pins and tweets and posts and a variety of other social media I won’t even pretend to understand (O.K., I admit I tried Google Calendar and gave up. I use an ol’ fashion Day Planner! Hey, when the internet goes down I’ll still know where I’m supposed to be next Tuesday!). The goal of these electronic bumper stickers is to say something pithy that will go “viral.” Significance and fame in a hashtag. Eternal truth and a following in 140 characters. From what I can see, the net effect of all this “viral” activity is that the average American under the age of 50 now has the attention span of a gnat with ADHD. I’ll be lucky if those gnats were even able to read this far. If so, congratulations. You’re either over the age of 50, not an American or have exercised the willpower to avoid becoming a gnat. And, yes, in case you missed it, digital bumper stickers have infected the Church, too. Welcome to bumper sticker discipleship in an age of Christian gnats with ADHD.
          What caught my attention and resulted in this article was a blog post which I came across several months back. Entitled “40 Lessons In Discipleship,” I was intrigued to read more. But more quickly became less. Having read the post, I went from being intrigued to being somewhat dismayed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very open and interested in people’s thoughts on discipleship. But it quickly became clear that what I was reading was not 40 lessons on discipleship. It was more like 40 personal observations on the technique and process of discipleship. And as if to make my “bumper sticker” point, and all but two of the forty observations contained a character-count made for Twitter! And therein lies the issue which bothers me.
         The American Church (and those we influence around the world) demonstrates a tendency to focus on style, technique, and process, as opposed to substance. As I have noted several times in my own writings, in the Kingdom of God, spiritual maturity is the result of spiritual truth experienced over time. The process of fostering and developing that kind of spiritual maturity is what Scripture calls “discipleship.” Biblical discipleship embodies our life-long commitment to grow spiritually and to authentically live out what we claim to believe about Jesus and the Kingdom. 
          If the author of this post had named it “40 Personal Observations On The Process Of Making Disciples” I probably would have looked at it differently. We all have thoughts and observations on topics which are important to us (my writing this article is a case-in-point). We live in a time when the Church is suffering from an appalling degree of biblical illiteracy. We know the Bible verses we were told to look up in the workbook, but not the Scriptures in their proper context. The result is a profound lack of biblical obedience. That’s what happens when we focus on technique and process, rather than on biblical substance when it comes to making disciples.
          When it comes to the issue of discipleship, the contemporary Church appears stuck between two extremes. On the one extreme, it is focused on style, technique, and process. On the other hand, the Church is focused on “knowledge,” the most common expression of this being the “discipleship in a workbook” phenomenon (see my article on “Raising The Bar Of Discipleship” for my thoughts on this phenomenon, and Pastor Derwin Gray’s article entitled “Do We Have Discipleship Wrong?”). As an organic Church called to “make disciples,” we need to do better. We need to get back to making disciples the way Jesus did.

Writing On Discipleship

Writing on discipleship in the Kingdom this AM, final edits on Volume 2. Today’s thought: “Simply stated, the Kingdom of God is not about any religious externals (or any political, economic or social externals, we should add). The Kingdom of God exists wherever individuals have been “justified by faith,” that is, they have been embraced by the righteousness of God-in-Christ, resulting in peace with God, and filling them with the joy of the Holy Spirit. To be embraced by the righteousness of God as credited to us by faith in the death of Jesus is like being wrapped up in a warm blanket on a bitterly cold night of perpetual spiritual homelessness. It represents the end of our self-effort in the futile task of trying to please God and to earn His love through external efforts, regardless of how religious and noble those efforts might be. It embodies our total and complete submission to His reign in our lives, the fulfillment of all His righteous demands, and the beginning of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Writing On Discipleship

Working on “final” edit for our second volume on discipleship. Editing thoughts on the parable of the Rich Fool from Luke 12: 13-34. “Using this parable, Jesus illustrates a profound truth. While greed may be good at business, it is poor at life. Greed tells the heart that the solution to the problem of an abundant harvest and overflowing barns is to build bigger barns. The values of the Kingdom tell the heart that the solution to the problem of an abundant harvest and overflowing barns is generosity and compassion toward those in need. It is the difference between self-satisfaction and self-sacrifice.”

Writing On Discipleship

It’s 20 degrees outside with snow on the ground. Enjoying coffee and writing on discipleship this AM from John 11. This morning’s thought: “When Jesus declares to Martha, ‘Your brother will rise again,’ Martha thinks Jesus is referring to the resurrection of the dead on the day of judgment. Martha’s faith is intact and her “theology” is sound, but both need to grow beyond anything she has ever known. Jesus responds by challenging Martha to see the resurrection in terms of a person and a relationship, rather than as a future event. With the possible exception of the great “I AM” declaration of John 8:58, what follows next is perhaps the most profound declaration of spiritual truth in the New Testament: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Jesus IS the resurrection. In the Kingdom of God, to have a relationship with Jesus is to experience resurrection life and to never die.”

The Jesus Virus

Welcome to the Discipleship Minute. I’m Maurice Smith. Many discipleship truths cannot be taught. They have to be caught. They have to be personally experienced before they can be fully understood. In the Kingdom of God, spiritual growth and maturity are the result of truth experienced over time. Too much discipleship in our Evangelical churches comes from books and classrooms, rather than “journeys of necessity” with Jesus through the Samarias of our world. Truths have been taught, but not caught. In Samaria disciples of the Kingdom get permanently infected with the Jesus virus and are transformed until they look, think and sound like Jesus. Have you caught the Jesus virus? Learn more in our book, And They Dreamt Of A Kingdom: Biblical Studies In Discipleship And The Kingdom of God. You’ll find it on our website at risingrivermedia.org; that’s risingrivermedia.org.(From And They Dreamt Of A Kingdom, Volume 1, page 76)
© Copyright Rising River Media
Audio Production by Vexing Media
Available as a subscription on iTunes

Sowing The Kingdom

Welcome to the Discipleship Minute. I’m Maurice Smith. In John Chapter 4 Jesus took a journey of necessity through Samaria to demonstrate a spiritual principle He would later teach. Faith grows where the Kingdom is sown. If you sow the seed of the Kingdom, you’ll reap the fruit of the Kingdom. By the time the disciples heard Jesus teach the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, they had watched Him practice this principle of “Kingdom seed sowing” for at least a full year. Some discipleship lessons must be demonstrated before they can be taught. Sowing seed wasn’t a “lesson” for Jesus, it was how He “did ministry.” And it’s how He expects us to do ministry, too. Learn more about sowing seed in our book, And They Dreamt Of A Kingdom: Biblical Studies In Discipleship And The Kingdom of God. You’ll find it on our website at risingrivermedia.org; that’s risingrivermedia.org.(From And They Dreamt Of A Kingdom, Volume 1, page 76)
© Copyright Rising River Media
Audio Production by Vexing Media
Available as a subscription on iTunes