Another Conclusion That Wasn’t

discipleship 101

No, I’m not planning to make a habit of this.

The member family meeting we called for after the service today caused me to trim some things.

As promised, here is the way I planned to land the plane had the runway been longer:

Let me close this message with these eight principles in mind with nine no-brainer steps of application:

One, get equipped to disciple. Get a copy of Trellis and the Vine and read it.

Two, use means. Grab some of the Randy Pope discipling plan packets and get busy. We’ve got a bunch of these for free at the office.

Three, become a member in your local church. Membership solidifies your commitment to be a discipler somewhere and gives you the ideal outlet for it.

Four, become a sanctified busybody. Determine to be the kind of believer that gets in somebody else’s face – IN LOVE! Someone paid our church the best compliment a while back. “I’ve never been in a church where the people are so involved in everybody else’s business.” And she didn’t mean gossip!

Five, take initiative. You have not because you ask not. Reach out to others; don’t wait for them to reach out to you.

Six, get help. Ask your elder or somebody to assist in matching you up with others. Don’t expect everyone to comply. Not everyone has the bandwidth for an ongoing relationship given their season in life.  Some folks don’t want this, even though they claim to be followers of Jesus.  Also, be a discipleship matchmaker without being asked. Look to connect people wherever you can.

Seven, keep on growing in your own walk by the Word and Spirit so you have something to offer to others.

Eight, train others you disciple to do the same things with others. Multiply yourself. Plan to attend one of the new Equipping Hour classes this fall starting September 7 WITH someone else.

And, nine, mediate daily on the gospel of grace that you might not live for yourself but for Him who died for you and therefore gladly spend and be spent for others (2 Cor. 5:14-15; 12:15).

The Conclusion That Wasn’t


This morning I reversed field rather abruptly at the close to my message about discipleship, defined by me this way: mutual investing by Word and Spirit for growth in Christ-likeness to the glory of God. You can listen to the audio of “A Restoration like Many Others (Part Three)” here.

Battling the clock, as always, I opted to omit a devotional piece by John Piper from Desiring God with which originally I intended to finish. As promised, here it is on the blog:

Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32)

What about the other ten apostles (not counting Judas)?

Satan was going to sift them too. Did Jesus pray for them?

Yes he did. But he did not ask the Father to guard their faith in the very same way he guarded Peter’s.

God broke the back of Peter’s pride and self-reliance that night in the agony of Satan’s sieve. But he did not let him go. He turned him around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter’s mission to strengthen the other ten.

Jesus provided for the ten by providing for Peter. The strengthened becomes the strengthener.

There is a great lesson here for us. Sometimes God will deal with you directly, strengthening your faith alone in the wee hours of the morning. But most of the time (we might say ten-elevenths of the time) God strengthens our faith through another person.

God sends us some Simon Peter who brings just the word of grace we need to keep on in the faith: some testimony about how “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Eternal security is a community project. Whenever God encourages your heart with the promise that in Satan’s sifting your faith will not fail, then take that encouragement and double your joy by using it to strengthen your brothers and sisters.

This pastor calls that discipleship – our priority obligation – if we love Jesus more than life itself.

Demythologizing Discipleship

To demythologize a subject is to reinterpret it so it is free of mythical or heroic elements.

This needs to happen with our concept of discipleship in the local church.

This occurred to me recently in a conversation with someone at OGC about his need for a discipler. Try as he might, he has failed to enlist the help of another believer in teaching him all that Christ has commanded – the essence of discipleship (Matt. 28:18-20).

I empathized with the disappointment. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. This applies to discipling as it does to evangelizing (though both concepts actually fall under the command to make disciples). Chronic shortages seem to apply on both fronts.

But after resonating with the frustration in this regard, I summoned the courage to ask a question. Whom are you discipling? I was working off a concept I read recently by Randy Alcorn in an article in the current edition of Eternal Perspectives. In dealing with the challenge of depression he writes:

Hurting Christians increasingly complain about the treatment they’ve received from other church people. If you’ve had a bad experience, write out a list of what you wish church people had done for you and what you wish they hadn’t done. Then follow your own counsel and use it as a guideline to reach out today and minister to others who need your wisdom and encouragement.

My brother immediately responded, “I can’t disciple anybody. I’m not spiritually mature enough. Discipleship means somebody further down the road spiritually taking someone less mature under their wing and helping them grow in the faith.”

That certainly can be the case. Consider yourself blessed if you’ve got someone like that in your life. But must we limit our definition of discipleship to such narrow parameters?

I think not. Jesus commands all His followers to make disciples, as referenced in the Great Commission passage mentioned above. A disciple (the Greek word is mathetes) means simply a learner. The moment I cast my allegiance with Jesus as Savior I instantly became a learner of all His teachings. I will never outgrow that definition until I go home to glory. He commands me to own the identity as discipler – helper of others in the learning process. John MacArthur puts it this way:

There are only disciplers and we are all disciplers. It’s only a question of the availability to God to be that wherever we may be. It’s irrelevant. It’s immaterial where it is. It’s only material and it’s only relevant that it is that we are disciplers. You’re not a discipler because you went to Bible school. You’re not a discipler because you went to seminary. You’re not a discipler because the church pays you to do it. You’re not a discipler because you joined a missionary organization. You are a discipler because you’re saved, because you’ve come to Christ.

I pressed in the conversation with my reluctant discipler friend with another question. If you had another Christian come to you confessing a struggle with worry, where would you take them in the Bible to help them with the problem? Now admittedly he felt put on the spot by a pastoral pop quiz. But he eventually got to Phil. 4:6-7. I tried to bring home the concept that discipleship isn’t a super-spiritual believer helping a not-so-spiritual one get with the program. It’s brothers and sisters in relationships bringing the Word of God to bear on one another’s lives in the power of the Spirit.

Are you looking for someone to disciple you? How about reaching out and discipling somebody you know? Friendship with a compass, our recent women’s retreat speaker called it. If the principle what you sow you will also reap (Gal. 6:7) is true, and I believe of course that it is, then you may get closer to having a discipler if you determine to live like one yourself.

Disciples Make Disciples

For my anniversary message a couple of weeks ago I preached from 2 Tim. 2:1-2 a sermon entitled A Call to Be Strong in Grace.

I articulated the big idea for the text this way:

The strong in grace transmit the treasures of grace to other trophies of grace.

I mentioned at the end of that sermon a resource called the Multiply Movement and promised that I would put that link on the blog.

Today I am finally getting around to that. It does no good to challenge folks to make disciples and then not give them resources to help them figure out how to do that.

Check it out. Be sure to watch the nine-minute video with these two guys warning not to be deceived on this matter.

Another New Beginning?

“The victorious Christian life,” said 19th century Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte, “is a series of new beginnings.” He got that right. We start over a lot in the gospel journey of faith. God in His grace always picks us up where we left off and continues His sanctifying work through various means.

This Sunday, as we gear up in our new facility, for the regular full agenda of Sunday ministry activities affords another opportunity for new beginnings. I am referring to the resumption of our adult equipping hour classes. Some of us may have fallen off in our participation after a strong start. Still others may never have joined one of the four offerings in the first place.

With the resumption of the Church History, Evangelism and Mercy Ministry, Parenting, and and Discover OGC classes in our new building, why not consider getting back into one of those offerings or joining in for the first time? Whatever one might have missed in previous sessions in no way diminishes what might be gained in the content yet to come. Furthermore, if you are new to Orlando Grace at this season, the Equipping Hour affords an opportunity to connect on a more personal level with folks in the church in ways the large group worship celebration does not.

Please consult the section in this week’s edition of the enews that describes each class and its location for more information. Maps for the various locations will be available this Sunday for your convenience.

Let’s make the opening of OGC’s new building an occasion for a new beginning in our spiritual lives.