Tag Archives: Discipleship

Rediscovering Discipleship – A review

rediscovering-discipleship

Rediscovering Discipleship is by far the best one I have read on discipleship, ever. This book, as the subtitle says is really all about “making Jesus’ final words our first work” (front cover). Unfortunately, in many churches, discipleship is more a program or something left for the “professional ministers” instead of something pursued and engaged in by every follower of Christ. One could make the claim this has done more harm to God’s church than any sin. Ed Stetzer, in the foreword, makes this statement: “The Bible tells us that we should be conscious of ourselves and of our teaching…In other words, it matters how you are growing and how you’re leading your people to grow” (p. 11).

Here is how Robby defines discipleship:

Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. (p. 155)

Discipleship should not simply be a committee in a church, or even a program, it should be the life of the church. Discipleship should describe how a church grows, how it lives and breathes. Discipleship should be at the root of everything done in the church. If the ultimate goal and purpose of a program or event is not discipleship, what is it? For many, it simply stops after evangelism. After an individual is “hooked” they are left to themselves. There is nobody there to help them take the next steps in their walk with the Lord. This is extremely detrimental to the life of any church because many churches stop there. After someone makes a profession of faith they are left to figure things out on their own. But that is not how it should be, once someone has made a profession of faith, the work of discipleship begins.

The author quotes Heather Zempel, the leader of the discipleship ministry at National Community Church in Washington, DC:

The first model of discipleship that we see in history is the Relational model, which was the dominant approach to spiritual growth during the first few centuries of the church. It is built upon the premise that discipleship will occur naturally when Christians live in community with one another. Relational discipleship was vitally important during the early church because there was no New Testament and there were very few copies of Old Testament writings available to the common people. Spiritual truths were conveyed through the stories of the apostles and their letters to the churches. (p. 92)

Robby then follows that with this statement perfectly showing what happened to this movement, or the church:

Unfortunately, what began as a grass roots, relational movement eventually turned into a structured hierarchy that quenched efforts at discipling those not pursuing professional ministry roles. The common understanding of the church changed from being a people to a place, from a body to a building. The ministry was seen as something done exclusively by the clergy, while the laity sat idle and took on a more passive role. Institutionalized ministry replaced individualized ministry. (p. 92)

Perfect way to describe what has actually happened in the church throughout history. Discipleship is how the church reproduces itself and remains alive and growing. Discipleship is how God molds His children into the image of His Son. When discipleship is simply reduced to another program offered by the church, we suffer and the church suffers. God desires fully devoted followers of Him, not partially committed followers who only come to Him when life gets hard or when they need something. God is molding and shaping us into the image of His Son and discipleship is how God does this.

From the time Jesus called His first disciples to His crucifixion, Jesus was involved in discipleship. He was training them, preparing them for/ life after He ascended into heaven. This was God’s plan A from the very beginning and there is no plan B. God does not see discipleship as optional like many churches do. He sees it as foundational.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because it really helps paint the picture of what discipleship should be all about. It is not a difficult read but is encouraging and refreshing in that it explains what discipleship is all about and should be all about, and then goes into application by helping the reader understand how they can actually disciple someone. The last part will serve to be extremely beneficial for the Christian who has wanted to disciple but just does not know how.

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

Train yourself and your people not to be impressed with success in the church that does not accomplish the goal set forth by Christ: making disciples. (p. 23)

Discipleship has an end goal: to be conformed into the image of Christ – to talk the way He talked, walk the way He walked, and respond the way He responded. (p. 79)

Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church…shouldn’t it be ours as well? (p. 85)

Just remember, you cannot microwave disciples. It’s a crock-pot recipe. And it takes time for maturity to take root. The wait is long, but the results are worth it. (p. 138)

Fortunately, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, did not prescribe for us a single model of how to disciple. Instead, He gave us a mandate: Make disciples! He didn’t give us a single process; he left us with several principles and showed us by His own examples. (p. 154)

A church member once said to me, “your talk talks and your walk walks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” The way you live speaks volumes about the degree of disciple-making taking place in your church.

Rediscovering Discipleship is all about what the title says, rediscovering discipleship. If you are involved in church leadership, a volunteer, or someone who has just begun their faith journey, this book is for you. It will help you understand how intentional and purposeful God is with His children. He does not simply want people to place their faith in Him and then live life how they want to. Choosing to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him is just the beginning. After responding to the call is when the work really begins, and does not end until our lives end. Get this book, read it and apply it. You will be glad you did. I just think, if every Christian in the world were to take what this book says to heart, apply it and make disciples, there would be no more unreached people in the world today. Besides, what more motivation do we need to make disciples than the fact we are commanded to by Jesus?

 In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Media LLC in exchange for this review.

Advertisements

Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax

Counterfeit Gospels

Do you know the true Gospel? Do you know it well enough to tell it apart from a counterfeit? 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven in Acts 1, men have done just what these verses describe. What about you? Have you turned towards people who just “tickle your ears?” Have you turned away from the truth, maybe even without knowing it? This is what Counterfeit Gospels is all about: helping you come to a clearer understanding of what the true gospel is as well as identifying a number of counterfeits.

Trevin Wax does an amazing job spelling out how counterfeit gospels differ with the true gospel. Where does the need for a book such as this come from? Trevin calls it a threefold crisis within the church: 1- Lack of Gospel confidence, 2- Lack of Gospel clarity, and 3- Lack of gospel community (p. 14-15). So how do we understand the true gospel? He then describes the gospel as a “three-legged stool” with the legs being: the gospel story, the gospel announcement, and the gospel community (p. 16). “Cut off one of these legs, and the whole thing tips over” (p. 17).

The counterfeit gospels in the church today resemble the biblical gospel in some ways, and yet fail to incorporate and integrate all that the Bible says about the good news. Each counterfeit is like a colony of termites, eating away at one of the legs of the stool and therefore toppling the stool and damaging the other components as well. (p. 17)

Each leg is necessary and as the author explains each counterfeit, you are able to see and understand how they miss one of the legs necessary. Many of these counterfeits have infiltrated the church and many self-professing Christians would not know the difference. This is dangerous to the church because there are many who label themselves “Christian” and yet they have no idea how to explain the gospel to someone. As a youth pastor, it is easy to see why this is a problem: many people who call themselves “Christians” have put their faith and trust in a false gospel that is leading them straight to hell, even though they believe they are saved. If you cannot see the peril in this, maybe you too have fallen for one of the counterfeits.

I have said this about a number of books I have reviewed and this book is no different. Counterfeit Gospels would be beneficial for any pastor, ministry leader or volunteer to read through. Or, if you want to just read it to get a more firm grip on what the gospel is, then this book is definitely for you. I will use it as a reference for a long time. Even though it is already 3 years old, published in 2011, the truth within the pages is spot on. Pick up a copy and use it to help you grow in your knowledge of the gospel and then share it with others so the Kingdom of God is grown.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this review. 


Review: The Global War on Christians

Exposing-the-Global-War-on-Christians

For this review, I am simply going to get right to the point. With The Global War on Christians, there really is no beating around the bush. Mr. Allen gets right to the point and that is, around the world, there is a war going on in regards to people who profess to be Christians. Some of you might be surprised by this while others of you have known about this for years. In many ways, we are living in an era where more Christians are dying for their faith than any other time in the history of the world.

So why is it important for us to know this? If we do not face this in our lives, why do we need to spend our time reading about what others around the world are facing? If I simply pray for them, will that not be enough? Praying for them is a good start but it is far from being what God has called us to. Hebrews 13:3 issues this challenge: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Simply thinking about them and praying for them every once in a while is not enough. Suppose a member of your family were to start being mistreated simply for being a part of your family, you would fight for them wouldn’t you? You would go to great measures to make sure people knew of your plight. You would want everyone to know what was going on so they could help in some way or another. That is what this book is good for. Global War helps us as Christians hear and know what is facing our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. We should want to know this so we can inform other believers. We are a family in Christ and our hearts should hurt for those around the world who are not allowed to practice what they believe without fearing for their lives.

As of now, the severe persecution Christians are facing around the world has not made its way to the United States to the same extent as it is other places. However, the way things are going, it will eventually happen and we should not be surprised. John Allen wants people to know what is going on around the world and he has put time into this book through research and traveling to different parts of the world to help educate us as followers of Christ as to what is going on around the world. The worst thing we can do is remain ignorant.

Personally, before reading this book, I knew Christians were persecuted and their lives were taken because of what they believed, but I had no idea of the extent. While reading Global War, I was constantly thinking how strong is my faith? Is my relationship with the Lord strong enough to face severe persecution? If not, then something is missing and I need to get on my knees and ask God to strengthen my faith. I have heard it said many times that if we as Christians are not facing any opposition in our lives from the world with choices we are making day to day then we need to see if we are really living for the Lord. This statement is not made to say we should be troublemakers, always trying to raise problems with how we believe, but we should be living our lives in such a way that people can notice we are different. This book also helped me continue to see the importance of taking the Gospel to the world and God’s call to make disciples of all nations. It will not be easy but God never promised our mission would be easy, He did promise to be there with us through it all.

Simply put, you should read this book to educate yourself as to what the body of Christ is facing around the world. It is not for the weak of heart though as Mr. Allen does not hold back in what he writes. There are Christians who have faced brutal deaths and persecution over their faith in God and he wants us to know about it. So go ahead and pick up a copy of The Global War on Christians, it will be worth your time.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.


Weekly Scoop 10/19

The government is back in business, the baseball playoffs are getting closer to the World Series and the NBA season will be starting soon. Liberty University’s homecoming was today and a big college football game is about to happen this evening between Clemson and Florida State; Death Valley will be quite alive tonight. With that said, I am going to go ahead with this week’s Weekly Scoop. The following links are ones I believe will be worth your time to check out:

Simply stated, this guy’s story is one that you should check out. This is a true example of how the church should be: http://blog.vyrso.com/2013/10/14/chasing-god-one-mans-journey-into-americas-slums/.

Ann Voskamp shares a letter one of her friend’s wrote on her blog. I decided I would share it as well. It is a letter to the church from Anita Renfroe. This is my prayer for the church as well: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/10/dear-church-why-its-okay-to-really-need-each-other/.

Another great story I saw making its way around social media this week was this story about a 15 year old orphan not just attending a church, but standing up during the service to ask if anyone wanted to adopt him: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2463498/Orphan-Davion-Only-goes-church-asks-adopt-him.html.

Phil Cooke shares a story ESPN put out that shares a pro-life perspective. Not many channels are willing to put something like this on TV, especially a sports channel. I applaud ESPN for sharing this story and I pray more like them make the news: http://philcooke.com/espns-unexpected-pro-life-video/.

If you like posts that cause you to be amazed at how beautiful this planet is and how awesome God is, check out this link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/10368294/Surreal-landscapes-around-the-world.html.

Last, I want to share an article by Ed Stetzer on discipleship. There is a movement happening in the church centered on discipleship. This is a great movement and important simply because the church is to be making disciples. Check out what ed Stetzer has to say about it: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/august/better-discipleship.html.

Thanks again for joining me for this week’s weekly scoop. If you see something that you feel is worthy of sharing, please contact me and let me know so I could include it in the future.


Weekly Scoop

Well, I have decided to call this new category the “Weekly Scoop.” This post will contain links to other pages, sites, news stories that I have read throughout the week that stood out to me and I believe to be worth your time. So, with that said, here is the second set of links you should check out:

The first link I want to share goes out to us fathers. This is a story about a girl who desperately wanted to be loved by her father, but she never received it. Listen to her share her story about all she went through and let it challenge us fathers to love our children: http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/annie-lobert/.

Here is John Wesley’s secret to making disciples. By now, it is no longer a secret as many people have seen this post, but it is still worth your time, especially if you work or volunteer in a church or ministry:  http://www.transformativechurch.org/2013/01/23/john-wesleys-secret-to-making-disciples/.

This is a story I stumbled upon about a mother helping her daughter get an abortion has me shaking my head in disbelief. It also hurts my heart. I love the conclusion the writer makes but I am not going to ruin it for you, check out the link: http://liveactionnews.org/pro-abortion-mom-year-dont-regret-helping-15-year-old-daughter-get-abortion/.

Another post on work, but this one by John Piper. I love his thoughts and you should take time to read them as it might help change your mindset if you view your position as one you are just trying to survive: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/work-is-a-glorious-thing

Scotty Smith of the Gospel Coalition writes a great prayer about relishing God and loving difficult people: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2013/09/18/a-prayer-for-relishing-gods-favor-and-loving-difficult-people/

Last, but not least, here is a website for all you athletes. Axiom United, started by Tyler and Nicki McClure, has led Tyler and Nicki to England to run Axiom UK. Their target date to move is January so check out the site and consider helping them out as well. They are truly about making disciples and using sports as the means to reach people of all ages for Christ: http://www.axiomunited.com/

Thanks for taking the time to check out these links. I pray they will challenge, encourage, or open your eyes to the needs of the world around us.


Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham Jr.


I chose to review this book for a couple reasons. First, I heard a message by Voddie Baucham speaking at Passion One Day from the 90’s that was inspiring and so when I saw he had written a book, I knew I wanted to read it. Second, a couple of my friends, Matt and Carolina Price, mentioned another book of his which caused me to look for other books by him. Thus, when I came across Family Shepherds, I knew I wanted to read it. I am extremely satisfied and happy that I did in fact get this book. It was both challenging and inspiring as I strive to be the leader, husband and father that God has called me to be.

The back has this to say about the book:

“It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the family and that of father’s in particular. We’ve heard it said, ‘As the family goes, so goes the nation.’ But it can also be said that ‘as the father goes, so goes the family.’”

As a youth pastor, I could not agree more with this statement. As I view families in public, it is extremely easy to notice families that have disconnected fathers and those who have non-existent fathers as well. We question why the country is going the way that it is but all we need to do is look at how men are beginning to act. You see it from celebrity fathers all the way down to “regular” fathers. Men are not taking responsibility to raise their own children; and then they wonder why their kids eventually take a turn for the worse at some point in their lives.

God has given men the position of leadership and it is in our nature to lead in one way or another. The sad thing is that most men are leading in a negative manner. Multiple studies have been done by both Christian and secular groups and they are finding overwhelming evidence of the impact that fathers have on their children. Voddie does not just present the evidence but goes in depth with ways that will challenge men to lead well and become a true man of God.

Family Shepherds is divided into 5 parts: 1. The need to equip family shepherds, 2. Family discipleship and evangelism, 3. Marriage enrichment, 4. The training and discipline of children, 5. Lifestyle evaluation.

Each section is filled with Scripture to back up his points and written extremely well to inspire any professing Christian man to step up because the church and the world need us to. However, one of the most challenging parts of this book was how Voddie constantly challenged men with knowing what they believe. No man can truly lead his family in a God honoring manner without being a student of the Word; it is not possible. For us to be Godly men and leaders, we have to be men of God’s Word, who study, read, and love it. Apart from God’s Word, it is impossible to be a Godly leader. Yes some men might become good fathers and husbands and men, but only God can lead men to become great fathers, husbands and men. We need to be able to pick out false teachings on raising children and being men. The world is constantly coming out with self-help books and “instruction manuals” that have some pretty good advice, and even when put next to God’s Word, it is hard to pick out the lies from the truth. That is why we need to be men of the Word if we are to lead our families to become disciples of Christ, so we can pick out the stuff that misses the mark of the inerrant Word of God.

This book greatly challenged me in how I am going about leading my family? How am I leading my wife and daughter into a closer walk with the Lord? Or am I going about my life just hoping they grow closer to the Lord? As men we are to lead. If we are not leading as we should, there is not much of a hopeful future. I sincerely challenge any man, whether you are a husband and father yet does not matter, to get this book. You will come away challenged and inspired to be, first off, a devoted follower of Christ and second, the leader God intended us men to be.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review.