Tag Archives: Discipleship

Lost to Leader: God’s Call Is Real

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

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A Reflection of Goodness

Another lap around the sun and 2016 comes to a close as we prepare for the start of a whole new again.  Before I begin, I pray that you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

I’ve been reflecting this morning on the goings on of 2016.  There have been many good times and difficult times.  Times of joy and times of trial and testing.  Overall, I reflect on 2016 and what I see as the pure goodness of God reflected throughout everything.  I can hardly believe the movement He has made just in my life and that of my family.  Even on days where it feels like I’ve been removed, He has been there every step of the way.  Unfailing love and faithfulness.  Continued goodness in everything.

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Amber’s Baptism

I’ll just start with January 31.  I stood in front of our church family and Baptized my wife and our 3 children, exactly one year to the day that I nailed the stake in the ground and surrendered my life to Christ in the mountains of Colorado.  I mean, wow!  That’s nothing but a God thing right there.  To see the movement that had taken place in that year prior, was so amazing and now to see the journey of growth in each of them has been nothing short of amazing and good.

 

 

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Shawn Baptism

 

We’ve times of trials and joy with our children this year, from the baseball field with our middle child, to our oldest graduating high school and starting college.  Through all of these things we see God present.  Seeing our children begin to desire a deeper relationship with God and to build relationship with peers in our church family has been huge.  They take after Amber and me as very quiet and to themselves.  Natural introverts and Move Aways in their styles of relating.  I’ve seen God working in their hearts this year more and more and them being more respective to it.  It’s been so good to see.

 

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Brandon Baptism

I see my bride and the movement in her own life.  I pray daily for her to move on a parallel journey with me as a woman and bride in our desires to seek God and grow as disciples.  To see her eagerness day after day to spend time with God and know him and them to talk with me almost like a kid in a candy store with such joy and excitement from all God is revealing to her as she walks with him each day.  And now to see her desire to build relationships with other women continue to grow.  Just immense.

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Ashley Baptism

I look on what God has done in my life as well and just stand in amazement.  He took me out to Colorado for a 2nd time in May to unplug and spend time at the feet of older men seeking counsel over my story and setting up the coming decade to work toward becoming an integrated whole and holy man.  That journey has set the stage for what is going on now.  In September we launched our counseling ministry and I have been blessed with the chance to speak life into different individuals and couples.  On top of that, I began to lead along with another brother and friend, a mens’ discipleship group.  That’s been huge for me to finally build a band of brothers of peers to get to know, to lead, and to do life-on-life with.  Thankful for these men and for the mentors and sages that also speak into my life now.

I can definitely say that I’m not the same as yesterday.  I know there’s so much more ahead and can barely believe that I’m here now. 3-5 years ago, I never would have thought to have a year like this and to have a life moving the way it is.  God’s hand is moving in every aspect of my life.  It’s truly amazing.

I reflect on 2016 with great joy and I look to 2017 with eyes on the narrow road continuing to follow where God leads.  I can already see things He is setting before me through the counseling ministry, mens’ ministry, and in my family and relationships.  I move into the new year a man of hope.  A dangerous hope for good.  Dangerous for good.

Following Jesus Comes With A Cost

I’ve been doing a great deal of contemplating over the past week as I dove into deeper study of our latest series at church on following Jesus.  It’s easy to say that we are going to follow Jesus.  That we will turn to Him in our lives.  How many of us, however, ever stop and think about the cost of following Jesus.  For some time, I certainly didn’t think about this.  However, to really turn to Jesus and to really become a sold out follower of Christ comes with a heavy cost.  It’s life changing.  The moment you decide that you are all in, your life is completely changed forever.

To truly follow Jesus requires us to leave where we were and never look back.  In Luke 9, starting at verse 57, it states:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”59And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”61Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

For the first man, Jesus is giving him a warning, almost.  That he has no place to sleep.  No home.  It’s not going to be an easy road.  The next man wants to first go bury his father and the third man wants to say good-bye to family and friends.

At first it is easy to think.  What’s wrong with going to bury your father first or to go back to tell people good-bye.  The point is this.  Once you make the decision that you will follow Jesus, you cannot go back.  You cannot look back.  First, why would you even want to.  Jesus is out to teach us what has been told to us from the very beginning.  To have no other gods before our God.  He is to come first above all things.  He is out to dethrone all those things in our lives that we are so easy to elevate to a position ahead of God.  This includes our own families and our friends.  Jesus + Nothing = Everything.  His desire is that we return to Him and that we make Him first in our hearts.

This is not easy for us to do.  There are always things in this life that are competing for our hearts and desires.  It could be the keeping up with the Jones to give your family the best of everything, that next job promotion, that new car, that boat, that lady you saw at the gym, that porn site, that next drink, that next fix.  It could be anything.  That’s just the surface.  No matter where we are in our faith, we are always going to be tempted by the enemy as those things in this world, those thorns in our flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), continue to compete for our hearts and try to come in ahead of Jesus in our lives.  To true follow Jesus, we need to leave those things behind.  Shed the old man and put on our new nature (Ephesians 4:24)

This past Sunday, our student ministry pastor talked about being a fan or a follower of Jesus.  Being someone that just wants to admire him or someone that is all into following where He leads.  Many are just fans.  Jesus knew this as it shows in Luke 14:26.  He put tested their willingness to follow him by telling the crowd that, If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

That sounds hard doesn’t.  I must hate my family, including my wife and children?  No, not hate them, but as the NLT says, we must hate everyone by comparison to loving Jesus and following Him.  He must not be diminished below anyone or anything in order to follow Him as a true disciple of Jesus.  This is the challenge that we all must make to ourselves as we evaluate our lives and our faith.  What in our lives do we elevate above Jesus.  What are those idols that have taken precedence over following Jesus.

I have had to reassess all of this in my life.  How I lived as a lone ranger, where I put my priorities in life, and overall how I lived.  I allowed Jesus to do a complete work-over of my heart to where I know now that He has to come first over everything.  I have made the decision to follow Him unconditionally – NO MATTER THE COST!  Even it costs my life or costs me friendships and relationships, I will follow Him.  That invitation is open to everyone willing.  Follow Jesus!

God over everything!

“To be converted to faith in Jesus Christ is to return to the worship of the true God, and to dethrone all rivals to his authority.” – Graham Kendrick

Putting Christ Above All Else

The Great Commission calls on us to go and make disciples.  What do you think about when you think discipleship?  For many it can be about going about and witnessing to others, sharing the Gospel, walking in fellowship with others, sharing ones testimony to the faith.  These are all critical aspects of discipleship.  It is partnering with others in a way that allows them to learn to grow in their own faith and walk in close relationship with Jesus.

In Luke 14:26-27, Jesus tells us something very profound about discipleship.  He says, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers’ and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  This gave me something really profound to meditate on and think about when reading these versus.  What is real discipleship and what is is that Christ desires in us in becoming His disciples?

A definition of discipleship is “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.”  So discipleship is following another to learn from them and grow through the process.  This is what Jesus is talking about about and this is the most critical aspect of discipleship.  Learning to walk with God in closeness.  Putting Him above all else and desiring an intimacy with Him that will allow you to grow even more on a spiritual level.  This is so critical to all of us.  Learning to walk with God, desiring that closeness with Jesus that allows us to grow from His life and allow His life to shine through our own.

I know I’m repeating myself, but of the 4 Streams, this is the foundation of it all.  Discipleship.  Walking in close intimacy with Jesus.  This is what He had with his boys.  He chose guys that were a wreck, but through their choosing to put Christ first and to follow Him, they learned from Him.  They learned to walk in closer fellowship and to draw nearer to God, eventually at Pentecost, being filled with the Holy Spirit to take the Good News across the world so others could also learn about Jesus and desire that same intimacy and discipleship in Walking with God.  This is critical.

As I mentioned from Luke 14, Jesus desires that we love Him first, above all else.  We cannot love things of this world more and still be His disciple and walking with Him.  It doesn’t work that way.  He came to free us from the bondage of this world, so that we may be able to see the Father and be given free access to the Father through Him.  The Father’s desire is to walk with all of us, but we must choose Him first.  We must choose God first.

Mark 1:17, Jesus says to Simon and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  That’s the key to it all.  If we choose to follow Jesus, if we choose Him first and to walk with Him, He will use us for the Glory of the Father.  Walked with these guys for about 3 years.  Now, we have accounts of many things Jesus did during this time with them, but just think of the level of wisdom and teaching He bestowed about on the disciples.  In other words, choosing to follow God and walk with Him, does not make you the ultimate in wisdom in witnessing and teaching right off the bat.  It starts small.  How many times during those 3 years, did Jesus have to correct these guys.  Like I said, they were a wreck.

The choice, however, must be to be willing to put Him first.  To want a level of discipleship with God that allows you to learn through Him.  He will teach you and will use others to teach you along the way.  That’s the world He began in me this year.  It’s not an overnight thing, but choosing to put Him above all else has now put me in a position to where I can learn through discipleship with Him and those that He places in my life to help guide me in His name and glory.  God has placed to some awesome men in my life and the walk that is going to take place for His sake and His alone is going to be tremendous.  He is equipping me according to His purpose and He wants to do the same for everyone of you, if you are willing to turn to Him and place Him above all else in your life.

“Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy desire,–that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.” –Thomas à Kempis

Diving Deeper – Walking With God

Over the last couple of years since the first version of this blog, the writing and the overall goal and direction have continually shifted.  What started as a site writing about finding freedom in life and work and looking for overall purpose and direction began to really shift.  I have learned a lot these past couple of years about life and about my God and the restoration that is offered to us through Jesus.  If you look at Isaiah 61, this is the Scripture that Jesus uses to proclaim his purpose.  To comfort and heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free.  This offer and purpose to restore each and everyone of us.  We were all captives and all have been the brokenhearted in some way.  From this I began to really shift focus in my writing.

What started as 4 Pillars has now evolved into 4 Streams.  The streams that Jesus walked in to offer our restoration.  Discipleship, Counseling, Healing, and Warfare.  I adapted to this teaching after reading the book Waking the Dead by John Eldredge.  I believe this teaching is a central part of restoring our hearts and in drawing closer to God in our lives.  It enables us to come alive.  Since coming into the 4 Streams, I have learned a great deal.  The issue now is putting that all into practice in my life.  I believe this is critical teaching and as I walk in the 4 Streams, I want to share that with you to help you apply it further in your own lives.  So what I am going to share now is deeper dive into each of the streams.  This first post will be on Discipleship, or more specifically, Walking with God.  I want to provide teaching that I’ve learned from John and others, confirmed in Scripture, and from my own experiences walking with God and building that intimate relationship.

So, what do you think of when you think of discipleship?  Many things that come to mind are around our christian growth.  Learning to be more responsible, connecting with people in fellowship, connecting with our church families, and much more.  There’s one key aspect that is often overlooked in discipleship and that is walking with God.  Conversing with him and seeking him in our lives for counsel.  Making him an intimate part of your life.  Not just knowing about him, but allowing him into  your heart on a deeper level and really hearing him and getting to know more about him.  This goes beyond just reading Scripture too, as I’ve come to find out, and includes our prayer time and learning to hear him in our hearts and discerning what is really God, the enemy, or our own selves.

John points to Mark chapter 1 and when Jesus encounters the first disciples.  His invitation to this rag tag bunch is to hang and to walk with him.  “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people” (vs 17 ).  Follow me, walk with me.  That’s quite an invitation.  ‘I will show you how to fish for people.’  That tells me that if we follow Jesus, he will lead.  Walk with God and he will lead us in our lives and on a deep and intimate level.

Again, what does Jesus offer.  He offers restoration and life.  Our hearts our made new through Jesus.  The path to life can be a rocky path, however.  We encounter so much warfare and attempts by the enemy to take us out.  Happens all the time.  Has happened to me.  Walking with God in discipleship can be key in traversing this path.  “You will make known to me the path of life” (Psalm 16:11).  If we walk with God he will reveal the path he wants to lead us on.  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).  So we have a path to life and restoration in Jesus.  It is narrow path, but God offers to show us the way.  He knows each and everyone and desires for us to lean and trust in him to lead us.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

So in walking with God a key aspect is being able to hear him.  Being able to decipher his voice when he speaks to you in your heart.  Not around you, but down deep.  You need to be able to decipher his voice from the clutter of the world and the enemy and your thoughts.  Learn to figure out what’s really from God.  This is something that definitely takes practice and I am working at it everyday.  Still don’t have it down and God still continues to amaze me in they way he speaks and leads me.  We need to be able to turn to him for counsel and ask him into everything in life.  John Eldredge used many examples in his audio session talking about seeking God with even the smallest things and the big things.  It’s important and we need to be more reliant on him and not ourselves.

In seeking his counsel though, we have to be able to accept it even when he tells us, NO.  If we don’t listen we he says no, then we are still trying to be self-reliant.  We are still trying to trust ourselves, “lean on our own understanding.”  You can’t be self-reliant and walk intimately with God.

God will definitely start to stir us in the way he encounters us in trying to restore our hearts.   What does God do to begin restoring us?  He reawakens desire.  He disrupts and stirs our lives and hearts and he intrigues, all to stir us to walk with him.  God has worked this heavily in my own life.  This started over two years ago when I began to write on the first version of this site.  Something stirred in my heart.  Didn’t know what it was at the time.  I just knew I was being called to something more than what I had been in.  I began to write, but still spent much of my time very self reliant and not opening my heart to hear God in any of it.

What happens this year? As you all know, God sent me to Colorado to the Wild at Heart Bootcamp.  He intrigued me in what would be there and disrupted my world completely unplugging me from my regular life and allowing me to completely plug into him.  Allowed him to dive deep into my heart and to hear God speak to me like I have never heard before.  He began to Father me and he was inviting me to walk with him.  Since then, he has lead me on a whole knew adventure these last few months.  I believe God is leading me to take the stories and experiences of my brokenness and restoration to counsel and help others through my own testimony and through this teaching.  It all begins with being able and willing to let go and walk with God.  Hearing God and talking with Jesus is a fundamental right of every christian.  Something that no other religion or cult in this world can ever offer you.  They just can’t.

I hope this was helpful.  I will also be dive deeper into the other streams next.  To help give you all a deeper understanding of where I am going with my writing and teaching.  I have links on the front page of this site and my About me page to will lead to some resources at Ransomed Heart that dive deeper.  I will be diving in and learning more myself as we go along.  I hope you join me on this journey.

“The dullness that overshadows a passive person is increased by the mounting number of times one doesn’t respond to the promptings of God.” –Greg Manalli