Discipleship. A word flippantly tossed around our churches and congregations but rarely understood. Incredibly simple at its core, it befuddles us entirely with its application. We, the Church, have numerous programs, methods, and ideas about discipleship. We love the idea of it, but I believe we love only a partial idea of it. We aren’t willing to sacrifice our time, talents, money, or influence to truly disciple others. Discipleship does not happen within the confines of sterile hierarchy or appointed mentors. Discipleship happens in the dirty, messy, deep issues of life–when we take off the outer layers of appearance and begin to open our hearts to another person. With soul bared, we ask them to speak into our lives–to give us hope, to call something out of us that we can’t see. Discipleship is twofold. One, it replicates the spirit of Christ within another person. Two, it awakens things within them they didn’t know were there. In essence, it helps them become who they are supposed to be.


Jesus’ mandate was to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold,  I am with you always,  to the end of the age.”1 Therefore, our disciple making must including replicating the teachings of Jesus. This seems easy enough, but Jesus’ teachings were always deeper than simple outward obedience. He examined their hearts. Jesus wasn’t concerned about someone’s behavior. He was concerned with the state of their heart, because he knew that all behaviors will flow from their heart. Our futile attempts at changing people through external emphasis will work temporarily, but won’t sustain long term change or growth. We too must work to change hearts.

This is where things get messy, because our lives are filled with tremendous pains, tragedies, and offenses. Slowly, as time marches on, we begin to be defined by those experiences–whether directly through our own vows (“I will never be like my mother!”) or indirectly through what others about us (“You deserve this abuse, because you’re such a bad person.”). In discipleship, we must learn to speak life over the wounds of our brothers and sisters. We must open our lives and allow others to help heal us of our pain. Christ did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, but rather showed her mercy and love. If we are to replicate Christ in others, we must first deal with our own pain and learn our true identity, so that we too may show mercy and love. Jesus was confident in his identity and understood his purpose. Once people have been shown love and mercy, we can begin to help them become more like Christ and more like their true selves.


“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,”2 God sets life and death before us. Just as in the garden, he has given us a choice–either to live in active, trusting relationship with him or a non-relational, legalistic code of right and wrong. Jesus spoke life over his disciples. He chose life with them through an active, living relationship not simply rules and laws. He chose them and called them out of their normal jobs. He saw something in them–something no one else had seen. He then helped them learn and grow. He both led and pushed them into new realms where their true selves could emerge. We must include this in our discipleship. Bonhoeffer states it in the context of community, but I believe it applies here also:

“But God has put his Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”3

Our discipleship must be so intimate and personal that we are able to speak truth and life into our brothers and sisters even when they can’t see it themselves. Jesus called things to life in his disciples that may have lain dead otherwise. Are you calling things to life in those around you? Do you tell them how much potential they have? Are you surrounded by others who do this for you? We must cultivate these environments in our homes and churches, so that we begin to live the lives and destinies God desires for us. Speak life!

  1. Matthew 28:19-20, ESV (emphasis mine)
  2. Deuteronomy 30:19, ESV
  3. Life Together. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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It’s Christmas time again, so that means many Christians are up in arms about XMas and Happy Holidays. I’ve recorded a video to sum up my thoughts on the subject. I decided to record it after reading through a debate on Facebook last week.

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His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 1

Sola fide. Faith Alone, one of the great cries of Luther’s reformation. He championed an unparalleled change in Church history that we still enjoy the benefits of today. However, often we simply accept what has been handed to us by our forefathers without questioning it. We hold onto these past truths so tightly that we miss out on other benefits and revelations God wants to bestow on our lives today. I believe this is the case when it comes to faith. We often hold so tightly to “faith alone” that we miss other aspects of the Christian life that also build, encourage, and strengthen us. Take the above passage from 2nd Peter. He says to supplement our faith, and not only our faith but to supplement our supplements until we reach agape love. We so often parrot faith alone that we ignore other aspects of our life; aspects that Peter says “pertain to life and godliness”. We stunt our own growth by ignoring other basic premises of a godly life.
Now, I am not saying we don’t need faith or that it isn’t important. Faith is absolutely important, because it is only by grace through faith that we are saved.2 Hallelujah!  However, as I’ve said before, there is more to our life than simply salvation. Salvation begins our journey into kingdom life. Salvation begins the identity change from sinner to saint, from child of the devil to a child of God, from a pauper to a prince of the kingdom of heaven. However, if, as Peter says, “his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” why would we ever stop short of achieving the life God has set before us. Why would we ever refuse these gifts? Why would we ever proclaim “faith alone”, and ignore these other aspects? Christianity, as I’ve said before, is full of mystery and paradox. We need to learn to be people who live in the mystery and accept the wholeness of our faith. Is it faith alone for salvation? Absolutely. Is it faith alone for the Christian life? Absolutely not. We need to supplement our faith with the gifts of the spirit and the character Peter describes here in order to live in the fullness of life.

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.3

  1. 2nd Peter 1:3-9, ESV
  2. Ephesians 2:8
  3. 2nd Peter 1:3-9, The Message
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