Let’s face it. If discipleship was simply finding and following a program, the discipleship dilemma would have been solved long ago. Programs we have. Effective disciplemaking? Not so much.
I appreciate the role of programs in discipleship. They provide needed resources and helpful direction. They can point us down the right path and keep us from theological ditches. But discipleship takes more than a program. Authentic, life changing discipleship needs relationships.
Jesus spent time with people. In particular, he spent time with the 12 disciples. He taught them. He modeled proper behavior for them. He challenged them. Jesus even rebuked them where necessary. His discipleship course was the course of his life lived together with these men.
Perhaps we should see discipleship more like this. It is best done through relationships with other followers of our Lord. Stronger Christ followers helping other Christ followers live the life of Christ could become our model. We could begin to see discipleship as being done best through relationships rather than programs. Programs can be a tool, but relationships are the means.
Here are three reasons to see relationships as more important than programs in discipleship.
1. We need examples. Information Continue reading →
Perhaps you have noticed that your local church isn’t perfect. If you haven’t, many people will be happy to point that out to you. The lost world, disgruntled former members and even much of contemporary Christian culture delights in pointing out the many flaws and warts of the church. And, let’s face it, the church has earned portions of her criticism.
Some local churches have accepted or condoned aberrant theology, ungodly behavior and unbiblical practices. I would never ask you to connect with churches that willingly disobey God and his word. But what about the church that is trying but failing? What about that local church that wants to follow God fully but never fully succeeds?
Why in the world should Christians join local churches that are messed up and lacking? Why give, serve and worship in places that are so obviously flawed? Here are some reasons for you to connect with imperfect local churches. Continue reading →
Few practices have blessed my life and ministry as greatly as my long time practice of reading the entire bible at least once each year. Of course, as a vocational pastor, I have some obvious advantages in doing so. If I am reading the bible at church, people say, “Don’t bother Pastor Doug!” If you are in bivocational ministry (God bless you and may your tribe increase!) or your ministry is not part of your vocation (How thankful I am for your willingness to serve faithfully as a volunteer!), you probably won’t have that advantage.
One other caveat. If you haven’t read through the New Testament (NT) fully, start there. Read it all the way through several times before going to the more daunting assignment of reading the entire Old Testament. I have sometimes used a reading plan to read the NT in one month (You can find 30 day plans online). After several times through the NT you are ready to read the entire 66 books of the bible.
Here are some reasons I read through the entire bible each year. Continue reading →
Posted in bible, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible reading, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Prayer
The essence of discipleship is found in Jesus’ words, “Follow me.” Can’t you just picture him calling out to Peter and Andrew and James and John, “Follow me!” He didn’t tell them where they would go or what they would see. He just called them to stay close to him, to walk with him and to be with him.
Discipleship is, of course, more than attending church services. It is more than keeping the rules. At its heart, discipleship is following the Lord. It is staying close to Jesus.
Following Jesus means we live like Continue reading →
We need heroes. Of course, the true hero of our story should always be the Lord Jesus. No earthly hero can do what he did or give what he gave. But there is something to be said for the example of a fellow sinner who has followed the Lord in a way we can emulate.
Paul said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” I Cor. 11:1 He served the church of Corinth as an example of a sinner following the Savior. He was a model, an example- a hero if you will- for other Christians to follow. He reminded them to follow him only as he followed Jesus. But he showed them how it was done in the real world by a real sinner who was following a real Savior.
Career missionaries serve as models for Christians back home. They might not like the tag “hero” but Continue reading →
The president of the International Mission Board (IMB) is, I believe, the most important post in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). With news that David Platt is stepping down, the SBC will be looking for the next person to fill that critical role. More than anything we need to pray for wisdom and to find God’s man for this time. With that said, here are my thoughts on the kind of person we need to lead us.
We need a unifier. Perhaps no agency has the potential to unite the SBC as does the IMB. The mission of reaching the world for Christ requires and ignites unity. We can unite around this mission whether young or old, traditionalist or Calvinist, Alabama or Illinois fan. (There are only 10 of us Illinois fans in the SBC but I just like to put our name in there with Bama!)
The mission is not all that unites us. We are also united by Continue reading →
Posted in baptist, Christianity, International Mission Board, missionaries, missions, sbc, southern baptist convention, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, International Mission Board, missions, southern baptist convention
Harvard University does not single out many Baptist preachers for honorary degrees. But in 1852, they did such for a Baptist preacher and missionary named John Mason Peck. Let me tell you a little of the story of this fascinating man in the hopes that his life will inspire you to leave a similar legacy and impact.
John Mason Peck (1789-1858) lived in Connecticut and New York state in his early years. He heard the message of the gospel and was saved while young. Personal study of the bible led him to leave the Congregationalist church over the issue of infant baptism and become a Baptist– despite the arguments of his pastor, Lyman Beecher.
Peck grew deeply in his faith and felt a call to preach. Time spent with Luther Rice led him to a deep interest in missionary work “out west”. So Peck loaded Continue reading →
Posted in baptism, baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, faith, John Mason Peck, history, racial unity, Uncategorized
Tagged baptist history, Christianity, Church planting, faith, history, John Mason Peck, misions, pastors
I’ve practiced daily devotions for many years now. I spend some time each day (mornings usually work best for me) reading my bible and praying. I read a certain number of chapters of the bible underlining as I go. I spend time praying by praising and thanking God, confessing sin, asking for my needs and praying for the needs of others.
I will tell you that sometimes I don’t feel much like doing that. But feelings are terribly fickle. I rarely feel like exercising or eating healthy or all kinds of things that need to be done. I like the phrase “spiritual disciplines”. I am to discipline myself in my devotional life.
But I will also tell you that feelings often follow discipline. I am glad I exercise and eat right when I do. And I feel especially glad that I regularly spend time in the word and in prayer. The longer I’ve practiced daily devotionals the more I’ve recognized their benefits.
Here are some reasons to value the practice of a devotional life. Continue reading →
Posted in bible, bible study, Christianity, discipleship, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christianity, devotionals, discipleship, faith, life, Prayer, truth
A disappointing conversation reminded me that some problems never fully go away.
I recently spoke to an older pastor. Now I love older pastors. They have some experience and wisdom from which I can benefit. And, they can make me feel young– a sensation that doesn’t happen as often as it once did!
But this conversation was not so edifying. It served more as a warning. In the course of our conversation he said that not all of the bible is God’s word. Some of it is, but some of it isn’t. Some of it, he felt, was just some cultural baggage Continue reading →
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
So much of behavior begins with attitude. If you have a wrong attitude it will likely result in wrong behavior. And, conversely, if your attitude is right you are likely to get to the right actions.
I’ve tried to teach this lesson to my children and now to my grandchildren. I am working to help my church see this. And, I’m especially trying to get myself to see this truth. Attitude matters.
Here are two important lessons I want to teach myself and others about attitudes. Both come from this beautiful verse found in Philippians 2:5, “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.”
1.Your attitude is a decision. Attitudes, like actions, come out of your own choices. The bible tells us to “adopt” the attitude that Jesus has. I love the word “adoption”. Our family is in the process of adopting even now. Adopting a child means that a child who was once not part of your family now is part of your family. You choose to adopt a child and the status changes. Continue reading →
Posted in attitude, Christianity, encouragement, faith, humility, Uncategorized
Tagged attitude, Christianity, faith, family, life, ministry