I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last month of what God has done in my life and where he continues to lead me. As I’ve written previously, this is a year of stepping back and seeking deeper intimacy with God and cultivating a real interactive relationship with him. At the same time, I look with eager anticipation of what may be coming next. I’ve learned however, that I cannot rush whatever God may be doing and one of the most beautiful things he does is take time. Am I willing to trust that time? That remains the question.
My pastor and friend, Tim, shared a sermon a couple of weeks back as we began a real push toward discipleship. So many times we have people that say they surrender to Christ and maybe even take the step of Baptism, but then what happens. From my short experience, with the exception of a few, many fall away. This leads to the Great Omission from the Great Commission, “Teaching then to observe everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Dallas Willard stated that…
“The Great Omission from The Great Commission is the idea that we can be “Christians” forever and never become disciples. Christians generally don’t have a plan for doing everything that Jesus commanded. We don’t as a rule even have a plan for learning this ourselves, and perhaps assume it is simply impossible. And that explains the yawning abyss today between being Christian and being a disciple.”
One of the things I have realized is that this is a journey that only a few will often take. But is there something we can do about that? Granted, you cannot drag someone by the hair to make them observe and follow Christ. They have to reach that point in their life where they can truly let go and begin to follow authentically. I look at Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler, where Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow him, but this guy just could not bring himself to. He could not let go of what he thought was his and the things he found worth and value in. So many men and women have this same struggle. They can’t let go. They say the trust God, but then don’t. Even say, “I trust God, but…..” You can’t say you trust God and in the same breath say “but.” That revokes that trust right away.
So during Tim’s sermon, he pushed our vision as a Church as a discipleship culture. Bringing people in and then teaching them and equipping them to go out and do the same, creating disciples and teaching and equipping them. It’s we are all called to do. Tim shared a piece of my own story. The week before the sermon, January 31, marked 3 years (2015) since the day I surrendered to Christ and told God that I would follow and trust him. That journey started the 4 years prior to when he and I first met, through baseball.
3 Years!!!! He used the term, “Lost to Leader.” I half jokingly thought and shared with him that, “hmmmm, sounds like a nice book title.” Anyway, 3 years. In that short amount of time, God has done some absolutely amazing things in me and through me. When I stood up and began to lead as a husband and father, the effects began to take root. One year to the day, I Baptize my wife and children as they began to come alive and wow, that continues to happen to this day. God put a call on my life that I could not ignore and counseling and then men’s ministry came about.
I know I’m talking about 2 different things here, but they are all related. I realize that so often, people get all the good feelings, “surrender” or pray a prayer and then that’s it. Whether it’s a fear of freedom or like the rich young ruler not able to let go of the false-self and where they found value and worth before.
So first, my message to these people, is it is soooo worth it, to truly let go of the old, of the less wild lovers, and begin to learn to live a life that follow Christ. It is doable. Look at me. 3 years!!! It has not always been easy. I’ve struggled with Spiritual Warfare, I’ve doubted myself, and even questioned many times, especially early on if I was out of my mind or if this all real and worth it. John 16:33, “In this life you will have many trials and struggles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” This has become my life verse. Remembering that the battles will continue, but you will be equipped overtime to handle them in a better way. He has done this with me, for sure. If God can use this ragamuffin, he will use you too. You have to choose to truly repent and truly follow.
To those of us that follow Christ now and call ourselves Christian, what are we doing to truly create disciples and equip them. I think we have failed in our responsibility in many ways, because we get excited at the surrender and at the Baptism, but then what. I said earlier that I was in men’s ministry, but actually, I feel what God has called me into is mens’ discipleship. That’s why we started these Anvil Boot Camps modeled after Ransomed Heart’s ministry with their Boot Camp weekends.
Discipleship includes equipping the saints and training them up to stand as the sons and daughters they are meant to be. We have to do a better job. Share the Gospel and share our stories of what Jesus has done in our lives, and then don’t stop there. It takes work, but if we remain relentless, then we begin to do what we were commanded to do.
For those that are so uncertain and just unwilling to step into deep end, I challenge you to let go. Stand as the real man or real woman that you are, not what the world thinks you are. John Eldredge sums it up so well in Wild at Heart…
“The world of posers is shaken by a real man. They do whatever it takes to get you back in line – threaten you, bribe you, seduce you, undermine you. They crucified Jesus. But it didn’t work, did it? You must let your strength show up. Remember Christ in the Garden, the sheer force of his presence (John 18:6)? Many of us have actually been afraid to let our strength show up because the world doesn’t have a place for it. Fine. The world’s screwed up. Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.“
There is so much truth here. Again, my challenge to all of you who are just teetering on the edge, let go, for real. It is doable. Look at what God has done and continues to do in my life. There is so much more beyond what I’ve written here. I was lost, but then I was found. I was lost and because a leader within 3 years, and I’m still growing. It’s nowhere near done, but I’ve made the commitment to truly trust in God and follow him into the unknown. Step up and stand in the gap. I promise you there are brothers or sisters that want to stand and walk with you. You don’t have to do it alone.
What are you going to do?
“Discipleship is being with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become like that what that person is. An “apprentice” of Jesus is learning from him how to lead their life as he would lead their life if he were they.” – Dallas Willard