On being a Disciple

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the term “Christian.” As I’m sure you have noticed, if you’re reading this, I chose to use the word “Disciple” in my blog title, not “Christian.” My reasoning is quite simple – I don’t beleive that the term “Christian,” in todays culture, truly identifies who I am nor who I should try to be.

Dan Kimball, speaking recently at the National Pastors Convention, played a video consisting of a number of interviews with people about their thoughts on “Christians.” Overwhelmingly, the respondends in the interviews spoke negatively about Christians and attributed to them descriptors such as judgemental, hateful, homo-phobic, unloving and evil. Ironically, these same respondends spoke highly of Jesus and attributed descriptors such as loving, caring and great to Him. Although I’m proud to be a Christian based upon my understanding of that term, I don’t want to be known as one based upon these impressions.

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to follow Jesus’ teachings and reach more people for Him. When I think of outreach, going out and winning more souls to Jesus, I think of a quote I heard recently that went something like this “Why would I want to be a Christian if it meant being a jerk like you.” I don’t know who to attibute that quote to, nor who it was said to. I do beleive that it is an all to accurate opinion though of many non-believers when they look at Christians. As such, I believe that I personally need to move away from the descriptor of “Christian” and towards the descriptor of “Disciple.”

I realize this is largely semantics – yet I believe it’s also important that we use terms in todays culture that accurately reflect who we are based upon the filters and lenses that those in the culture will see us through. Therefore I strive to be a disciple. This morning, while reading my Bible, God led me to this verse as encouragement for my thoughts on this:

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31b-32 (NIV)

So, I guess I need to ask. Are you a “Christian” or a “Disciple?”

Jesus Painter

I’m back . . .

I’ve been gone for a bit . . . deciding what to do with this blog.  Originally my intent was to use this blog for personal use as a repository for bits and pieces of Christian thought from around the web.  That worked for me, although I don’t think that was understood by all as some may have thought I was simply copying other bloggers and posting here.  That’s simply not the case.

Regardless, the focus of this blog is going to change and I’m going to try to post to it a few times a week – regarding my own personal meanderings and whims related to my Disciples Journey.  While you’re waiting for that first post – feel free to take a look at my NPC 2007 blog and read about my recent experience at the 2007 National Pastors Convention.

I’ll be back soon . . .

Simple and Effective

I was just listening to a Podcast from Ergun Caner.  If you haven’t listened to him I recommend it.  Passion flows from his voice and although he may be controversial, in what I’ve listened to he is spot on.  On his web site I found this phrase which spoke to me this morning:

EVERYONE PREACHES…
EVERYONE IS CALLED

Simple and effective. [period]

It’s the Churches Responsibility, not the Government – Think about this . . .

Whose Work Is Grace?

A friend of ours confided last night that she and her husband can’t pay their bills this month.  Any of them.  They’re making changes, like moving across the country, to get better footing, but until then, for the next couple months at least, they have nothing coming in but bills.

We were honored that they trusted enough to share all this.  We promised to help.  We’ve done a little but we can’t do it all.

So, once again, I called my church.  This time things were different.  I was told there’s a new fund, at least it has a new name, that provides for members in these kinds of situations.  And our church gives money to an organization called Graceworks as well, that helps those outside our church with groceries, health care and rent assistance.  My kids and I have volunteered in their food pantry before and from what I’ve seen it’s a great relief organization for our county.

Because the minister in charge of this new benevolence fund is out of the office, I’ll have to wait until Monday to ask for help on behalf of our friends.  In the meantime we’re telling them about Graceworks in hopes that they can get some help a little sooner.

This has me thinking about how I define “Church.” I often say this or that is the Church’s job and not the government’s. I capitalize “Church” because it reminds me that all Christians worldwide are what the bible calls God’s ambassadors, His living letter, His ikon, one “bride.” We are conduits of deity in this sense.  All of us, whether meeting in the same building on the same day under the same denominational banner or not, are the Church.

So, if that’s true, then parachurch organizations like Graceworks – funded and supported by the local churches – are the Church too.  If they are extensions of the Church then they unify the local churches and allow us to do what the local congregation on it’s own isn’t doing or, for whatever reason, is unable to do.  So, every time Graceworks feeds a family my church is feeding that family, and I, as a giver to my church, am feeding that family and the Church is feeding that family.

Does all this take the local church and me off the hook so to speak for personally and more directly extending mercy to those in need though?

When I called Graceworks I was asked, “What have you been able to do to assist this family before contacting us?” Great question.  It implies that in Graceworks’ mind mercy is not just my church’s job, or a parachurch ministry’s job, but mine as well.

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Chasing Lions – Points from Mark Batterson’s Latest Book

  • “Taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.”
  • “Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what’s wrong. We’re called to chase lions–look for opportunities in our problems and obstacles, and take risks to reach for God’s best.”
  • Lion chasers “thrive in the toughest circumstances because they know that impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles. That is how God reveals his glory–and how He blesses you in ways you never could have imagined.”
  • “At some point in your life you have to make a choice between fear and boredom. Lion chasers choose fear.”
  • “Maybe prayer is less about changing our circumstances than it is changing our perspective.”
  • “You have to do something counterintuitive if you want to reach your God-given potential and fulfill your God-given destiny.”
  • “Maybe faith has less to do with gaining knowledge and more to do with causing wonder. Maybe a relationship with God doesn’t simplify your lives. Maybe it complicates our lives in ways that they should be complicated.
  • “Most God-ordained dreams die because we aren’t willing to do something that seems illogical.”
  • “Most of us regret sins of commission in the short-term. But it’s the sins of omission, the missed opportunities, that haunt us the rest of our lives.”
  • “We need to stop criticizing culture and start creating it.”
  • “If you wait for perfect conditions before you seize an opportunity, you’ll be waiting till the day you die.”

tony morgan | one of the simply strategic guys

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Count it all joy . . .

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.€”
James 1:2-4, ESV

I have spent quite a bit of time pondering the words of Jesus’ brother James in recent weeks. He says that in the midst of trials we are given an opportunity to have joy if we trust that God is using our circumstances to make us increasingly mature. To be honest, there are days when I wish there was a route to maturity other than trials. Nonetheless, James seems to be teaching that when trials do come, we must receive them as gifts of God for His glory and our joy if we hope to benefit from them. The past few weeks have provided an opportunity for me to learn this truth, though I confess I have not mastered it.

Mark Driscoll’s blog | TheResurgence

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2006 In Summary – I simply could not agree more . . .

I have a growing appreciation for the sovereignty of God. Nothing is too big. Nothing is too small. In a nutshell: my sense of destiny grows stronger!

The Batterson Blog – Thoughts on Life and Leadership

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