buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Discipling others”

Broken Walls

Hand me the hammer, please. It’s time to break down the walls. Walls need to be broken down that keep us from others. I am the world’s worst about keeping to myself; I don’t really like to let people in because then they would know the real me. I was convicted over the weekend that it’s time to be real. I do feel that time is moving quickly to that point – whether Jesus comes back or something else huge that will occur – that will change everything. I don’t know what God has in store, but something major is brewing. God is giving us warnings that are escalating beyond a normal pattern. God frequently works in cycles, and I believe we are coming to another major end of a cycle. With conviction, I realized that the book that God called me to write needs to be done very soon. In it, I share my testimony. As I was writing it over the last few years, I had to come to grips with many issues that had been hidden from my view. I had some blind spots that needed to be revealed. In sharing my testimony, I am letting others see things as they are (or were).

Walls do nothing but keep others out and ourselves in. There is no communication between walls. As I have observed the Body of Christ, as we gather during our worship times, we have isolated ourselves from those who really need to see Jesus. We have built walls that show the world a different picture than what the Bible has given to us as an example. The first believers were living life together as a family – day in and day out. Like most families, they saw each others mess. Yet, they loved one another no matter the mess. They showed love to those around them. Outsiders took notice that the Jesus followers were different. They were overpowering non-believers with love and that love grew the church body. Jesus followers were giving all they had to take care of others. They were on mission to be a disciple who made other disciples.

Paul had to call out one church that wasn’t living as they should as followers of Jesus. Paul wrote to the Body in Corinth about a problem. The people of God in that area were not acting in love, and it was an issue that needed to be addressed (1 Corinthians 6:8-11). We all have sins of our past. Some of those sins keep us in a place of shame. However, when we have been forgiven, those sins are no longer remembered – they are forgotten by a gracious God. We cannot hold the past against anyone. We all have fallen short of living a life of righteousness. We as the Body have an obligation to break down the walls that separate us from the outside world. We are told to go out in the world, but don’t become like the world. We are supposed to be different; we would rather be like everyone else. We are told to love one another so that we can show the world the difference in our “family.”

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live in the time of great revivals; where record numbers were coming to Christ. I wondered what it was like for those early disciples who were so eager to share the story of how Jesus died, but then three days later, he arose from the grave! People saw Him and touched Him. They were eyewitnesses to the greatest event in history. I wonder now, what this next event that God has in mind. We may be in for a time of another great revival. Maybe God wants to use us to lead the way. But it’s going to take a hammer to break down those walls that keep us from reaching out. It’s time to be more like the first century church – taking care of one another and showing love to those outside the family. It’s time to meet the needs of those around us and tell others what Jesus has done for us. It’s time to be real and authentic. We will need to be the light to those who are still experiencing the darkness. When the walls are broken down, the light can finally be seen!

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)

The Suggestion

The great commission challenges us to go and make disciples. Last year, my church started a school to teach us how to be the solution to meeting the needs of the community and put the great commission into practice. We were learning how to disciple others; how to teach the Word. The school was teaching us to get outside our four walls and have relationships with others. I was all about learning these principles, but I was having a hard time putting it into practice. Forming relationships is tough business in this crazy world we live in today. It’s much easier to have community on-line. But I don’t think this is what we’re really supposed to do. It’s a good start, but nothing takes the place of one on one relationships.

If I look at the Bible for examples, Jesus and His followers did life together. They ate meals together and walked around together. They were all up in each others business. There was no “private” space. Much of the world around us (except in western culture) live in this way as well. In other cultures, neighbors are expected to come and go. There really isn’t much “personal” space. Single people don’t have privacy; they don’t live alone. Families live with other families. They all do life together. This is just not the case in western culture. We like our privacy. We like the fact that we have two thousand square feet of living space – not just for one family, but maybe for just one person alone! If we had to share our stuff we someone else, we might actually freak out.

I was listening to a forum on discipleship which brought out the fact that in order to disciple others we have to be in community; we have to have relationships. One of the speakers talked about a young man coming to live with him and his family. The young man was a new believer. He lived with the speaker for a year. Then the young man got engaged then married. When they married, they moved in with the speaker and his family to learn how to live as a couple – how to fight, how to ask for forgiveness, how to live as a married couple. This just sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the biblical way? I am reminded that we are not to do life alone. We are not meant to isolate ourselves. We are meant to have community that exists in the everyday life. Daily life is where we need the influence of one who has walked the road we’re on. Daily life is where the real life happens.

Jesus set the tone for us. He is our mentor on how to mentor others. It’s more than a one-on-one time with someone else; it’s many mentors speaking the truth into a person’s life in the community. The forum emphasized relationship building as the way to disciple others – the same emphasis that the school attempted to convey and multiplying the efforts – disciples disciple others. And the movement continues. It’s all good in theory! Relationship building is HARD. It takes time and effort. It will cost me something. Am I willing to pay the price? Are you? Is it time for the western church body to change its way of “doing church?”

Do we sit in church every week and absorb what the preacher is saying, but never apply what is heard? Do put he Bible down on the table when we get home and only pick it up to take the next Sunday? Is this really what Jesus had in mind when He said to go and disciple others in what is now known as the great suggestion? I feel like we have it all wrong. We are no longer seeing growing spiritually mature believers. We are in dangerous times spiritually speaking. One day we’re going to be in front of Jesus, and He will send those away who He doesn’t know. Someone will say, “I was in church every Sunday morning.” He will end up saying “I never knew you.” It’s sad to contemplate that thousands upon thousands will be turned away from an everlasting life with Jesus. They knew about Jesus, but they never surrendered to His Lordship. It’s all about the relationship! He can fix the mess!

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:2-3

The Marketing Plan

I am taking a class on learning how to disciple others. It’s been interesting learning about it, but it is very difficult to put things into practice. One of the things we were challenged with was to write our story in 100 words or less. This is considered an “elevator pitch.” I have heard of this concept before when I was learning how to market my health coaching practice. We should be able to give a pitch of whatever information we are trying to get across in the time it takes to take a ride in an elevator. There’s only so much time allowed before a person will tune us out; usually three minutes or less. I had never considered this in relation to giving my testimony. The teaching pastor asked us to write for five minutes then tell the story in a minute or less. I did fine in that regard, but one hundred words it was not. I can write a lot of information in five minutes and actually read it pretty quickly.

When I was in Honduras this summer, I was perplexed to see the vast amount of marketing that Coke and Pepsi have put into that country. Yes, they do it here too; but it really stands out down there. While I was there; I remember thinking, if we could only market God’s message as the two soft drink companies do their product. What a concept that would be. What would the marketing campaign be? Jesus is better than any soft drink; He gives Living Water. The ones who drink His water never thirst again (John 4:13-14)! Jesus is the Light of the World; whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness (John 8:12). Jesus is the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Him will never be hungry (John 6:35). Jesus is the gate; whoever enters through Him will be saved (John 10:7-9). Jesus is the good Shepherd; His sheep know His voice; He lays His life down for His sheep (John 10:11-18). Jesus is the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Jesus will live, even though he dies (John 11:25-26). Jesus is the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6-7). Jesus is the true vine; no branch can bear fruit by itself; it has to be connected to the vine (John 15:1-8).

Jesus is so much better than any product on the market; yet we (or I should say “I”) can’t seem to share His important message. His love is far greater than we could ever imagine. My story isn’t much; but my story is one that Jesus called me from the darkness into the light. I am not to stay in the light though; I am called to go back into the darkness to share the light. So why when we are filled with the light do we want to stay with others who are filled with light? Darkness is the absence of light. Our light does not glow brightest until we are surrounded by darkness. Jesus calls us to be light (Matthew 5:13-15). There’s a message to share. It only takes a few minutes to share the True Light. Jesus gave us a marketing plan a couple thousand years ago. It’s the greatest plan ever!

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible (Ephesians 5:8-13).

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