On My Mind and Heart: Discipleship 101

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The past couple of weeks the terms “disciple” and “discipleship” keep showing up in my life – in conversations, sermons and my Bible reading.  And, one of the common themes of discussion is usually about “how to disciple” someone.  Over the years, that’s a question that I’ve learned is both hard and easy to answer.  It’s hard, not because the process is really that difficult, but because to “disciple” someone well means we have to sacrifice.  And, if we are honest, that can be hard for all of us sometimes.   But, since “making disciples” is THE COMMISSION given to us in scripture, I think we should all be more prepared to accomplish this Kingdom task.

So, here is an easy 3 step guide to Discipleship 101 to help get you started:

Discipleship takes time.

I said discipleship means that we have to sacrifice and there is often no thing more difficult for us to sacrifice than our time.  We are busy people with lots to do.  But, it is impossible to be a “teacher” to someone else (which is what discipling largely is) without spending time with them.  To disciple well you have to spend regular time with another person talking, studying, telling stories, and praying.  There is no substitute for being together.

Discipleship means knowing your limits.

Several years ago I was in a small group pastors’ training session with Pastor Andy Stanley when I learned something that’s continued to stick with me when I disciple someone.  Speaking of the limits of discipleship responsibility, Andy said, “It’s not your responsibility to fill someone else’s cup. But it is your responsibility to empty your cup into the person whom you are discipling.”  That makes so much sense!  I can never be everything that someone else needs to grow spiritually, as a leader, as a man or as a person.  And that burden is not mine to bear.  However, I can be open, honest and willing to empty myself, my experiences, my prayers and my heart to another so that he may grow from my experiences and encouragement.

Discipleship requires knowing the Truth.

It’s not enough to just spend time with someone and give them a bunch of advice.  True discipleship means helping to train someone in their spiritual growth as a Christian.  And that means knowing the Truth of the Gospel and speaking the Truth of the Gospel.  Jesus Christ is the guide and the model to whom we are aspiring (not the latest leadership or self-help guru or life coach).  That means reading and studying the Bible – together.  That means relying on the Word of God instead of your own “feelings” or “instinct” to guide thoughts, actions and decisions.  Discipling well requires that we use the Truth as our standard, nothing else and nothing less.

A Message about Fatherhood to Dads, Moms and Children of all ages and stages

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A request was made to write a post about Fatherhood.  It’s an important topic – for dads, moms and children – of all ages and stages of life.  I hope you enjoy it …

This was a special message for fathers, children and mothers for Father’s Day 2013. Here are my sermon notes from the message on June 16, 2013.

3 THINGS CHILDREN SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FATHER

(note: Remember, we are all children, so this applies to all of us).

Honor Your Father

This is a command (the 5th) and is also mentioned several other times in the Bible (including by Jesus).

Ephesians 6:2-3 – Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.

What does it mean to “honor” your father? We go through stages, that overlap. First, we honor our father by being obedient when we are younger and under their authority/household. Strive for “first time obedience” which is especially honoring of him. Second, we honor our father by showing respect, involving him in our lives, allowing him to participate with us and on behalf of us in our lives. (illust. – Sadie and Willie returning dress on Duck Dynasty). Third, as they (and we) grow older, we honor our father by caring for him.

Learn from Your Father

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

note: this passage, written to a son from his father, encourages an active seeking of help and advice from the father. From our fathers we learn about life as well as about how to do things. We can also learn from our father’s mistakes. In any event, I believe that dads want “better” for their kids and desire for their children to learn from them – both the good and the bad.

Forgive Your Father

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” – Matthew 6:12

Fathers make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Forgiving them for those may be the best father’s day present you can give him. Forgiveness is about leaving the past in the past and focusing on the future.

3 THINGS MOTHERS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR CHILD’S FATHER

This section is for mothers — all mothers. Even if you are not with your child’s dad any longer, you have one of the largest influences over the nature of your child’s relationship with his/her dad.

Encourage (don’t nag) Dad

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – encourage one another and build one another up, …

Try not to impose what you think is right upon the dad/child situation. This often leads to a situation where whatever dad does it’s not “good enough.” Be encouraging. Tell dad “thank you”. Compliment him.

Praise Dad in Front of Your Children

I read a blog post recently titled “Is Dad a Hero or a Bum – the Answer often Depends on what Mom Thinks.” — That is so true. Praising dad in front of your child strengthens the relationship more than you can imagine. You can do it — at one time in your life you thought at least something about this guy was pretty awesome.

Be a Partner

Don’t setup a situation where it is “mom and the kids v. dad”. Don’t hide things from dad. Don’t complain about him with the kids. Instead, do all you can to be a partner with the dad — unified in parenting the children as a team.

3 THINGS FATHER’S SHOULD DO FOR THEIR CHILDREN

Be a Godly Example

Like it or not, good or bad, you ARE an example. But are you a Godly example?

John 13:15 – For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Being a Godly example involves being an example in these areas:

Character – this is what you are all of the time, no matter where you are or who is around. Your kids are watching you. Are you a man of honesty, integrity, consistency?

Discipleship – this is showing your kids what it looks like to follow the Lord Jesus and grow in your faith. Do they see you going to church, studying the Word, etc.

Service – your kids need to learn from you that life is not about them (or you) but about other people. They learn this from your example in serving others who need help, serving your church, and serving your community.

Demonstrate Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the theme of the Bible — God loves us not because of anything that we can do and in spite of anything that we have done. Your kids (especially your daughters) will come to believe that God loves them the way that you love them. Love them unconditionally, which means:

Love them for who they are, not what they do

Love them in spite of their mistakes and bad choices

Remember: love is an action not a feeling

Leave the Right Legacy

You will leave a legacy of some form. But, God has given us the power and the freedom to choose what our legacy will be. Will you leave a legacy where your children and your children’s children seek to know the Lord personally? Or will it be a legacy of absence, abuse, excuses or mediocrity?