A short video sharing a framework for understanding suffering. This framework has helped me understand the role of suffering in the life of the disciple of Jesus. The sound quality isn't perfect, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. What would you add to this framework? How have you been developing a theology of suffering?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
In the 18th chapter of the book of Luke, Jesus encounters the rich young ruler. If you’ve been a follower of Christ for long, it is probably a familiar story. If not, stop and read it here.
A devout man approaches Jesus wondering what he must do to be saved. Jesus walks through the commandments - have you obeyed these? The man replies confidently that he has kept the commands all of his life. And then Jesus does a curious thing. He asks the man to do one more thing: sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
The story follows that, because the man was very wealthy he became very sad and presumably, walked away. Following Jesus is a tall order.
My friend Justin uses this story in trainings to highlight the reality that Jesus isn’t looking for lukewarm Christians. This isn’t the only time that Jesus’ words and teaching drive away potential followers. There’s that crazy scene in John 6 where “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Jesus is looking for committed disciples. He will build his kingdom not with crowds but with dedicated disciples. While the world yearns for numbers, Jesus is looking for committed men and women.
Justin lays out what this commitment might look like using the great commission. He draws out five commitments from the passage and they provide a helpful rubric through which I can reflect on my own heart. I think they will be helpful for you as well.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Five Commitments To Be A Disciple of Jesus
It starts with our willingness and commitment. If you are a leader, a good question to ask first is, "Am I willing?" but the next question has to be, "Are the people I am investing in willing?" Are they committed disciples or merely lukewarm attendees. You can fill the pews with the latter but Jesus wants to transform your community, your city, your state and nation - he will turn the world upside down with unschooled, ordinary men and women if they will commit themselves to living the surrendered life and being with Jesus.
As we answer this question we can begin working toward the next question as well: Are they able?
It is no mistake that Jesus bookends his commission with authority and presence. I can do much in my own power but Jesus reminds me that unless I live the surrendered life which I can only do if I abide in Him and experience His presence, little of what I do will have any eternal impact.
Justin leads a great ministry called Primary. He would love to come alongside you and coach you and your fellowship into the committed life of disciple making. Contact Justin
"What can I do?"
It's a question that Jesus' disciples all across the world are wrestling with during these unprecedented times. Covid-19 has locked us indoors and it seems the best way to love others is to stay away from them. These are indeed strange days.
For many, you've spent the last years investing in the lives of friends who do not yet follow Jesus. You love them dearly. You've served them tirelessly and now, you can't see them.
And so we ask, "Lord, what can I do?"
For many the last years have been spent doing things for God. We serve the church. We help with programs. We feed the poor. We go to this event and that activity. We lead Bible study. We do, do, do.
And so when the world comes to a halt, we ask, "Lord, what can I do?"
For myself, this has been a journey into a lesson the Holy Spirit has been trying to teach me for the last few years. I'm a slow learner! I am by nature, a doer. Perhaps we all are. But in this moment, when "doing" has been in many ways stripped away, I've found myself wandering, wondering, worrying.
Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things? And who am I?
The first week in particular was tough. I'd wander in and out of a sort of discombobulated haze, not knowing up from down, not knowing what I'd do with myself once I finished the next email I was writing or the call I was on. My "doer" was being battered and I didn't know what to . . . well, do.
In it all I could hear the whisper of God in the distance, an inviting calm that, as the days wore on and my chaos subsided, I began to listen to and to recognize.
Be my child.
Be my friend.
Be a member of my church.
Be a citizen of heaven.
Be my workmanship.
Be my new creation.
Be justified and righteous.
Be secure in my hand.
Be free from condemnation.
Be with Me. Be with Me. Be with Me.
How are you finding ways to simply be with Jesus this week?
It seems crazy to think that just two weeks ago life was relatively normal. Now, it seems that everything has changed.
There is a lot of uncertainty and if you’re like me, you’re still not entirely sure what is going on. There is a lot that we are all going through and a lot that we all need encouragement in right now, but with this letter I want to encourage you to do one thing: lead on Sunday morning in your home.
Covid-19 is and will continue to be disruptive and hard. But in every difficulty there is opportunity. God meant it when he had Paul pen the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The reality of “church at home” is probably going to be a reality for the foreseeable future. Our church leaders and pastors are doing a great job creating online content that can help us through this time.
And while it's good to sit down in front of the TV or computer screen and watch and listen as a family, there is an amazing opportunity to step up and lead your family in being the church, in actively doing church at home.
Jesus told us that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Gather your family in the name of Jesus. Lead them in prayer and worship and in fellowship. This is an opportunity to teach your children to seek the face of Jesus, to model for them prayer and worship and what it looks like to be a man of God who looks to actively apply the teachings of Jesus. Help them learn to actively apply the teaching of Jesus in their lives.
There is a simple format that can be followed that will help you lead your family. Divide your Sunday morning as a family into three thirds.
CARE: The first third of your time can be focused on caring for one another and worship. Start by praying for your time together and then ask two simple questions and allow everyone to share about how their week went.
After everyone has shared, invite your wife and kids to join you in praising God for the things that are going well and to pray for one another about the needs that were expressed.
WORSHIP: Lead your family into a time of worship. Some of us are musically gifted, but for the rest of us this may mean asking your kids what their favorite worship songs are and finding them on Youtube to listen to or sing along with. It may be an opportunity to read some of the Psalms together.
Regardless of what this looks like at your home, have fun worshiping the Lord together. If you have young kids, let them beat spoons on a pan or dance as they worship.
CAST VISION: Is there a verse that has been particularly meaningful to you this week? Is there an area you are hoping you and your family can grow in? Take a moment to cast some vision for the things that God is putting on your heart for your family. Share a verse from the Bible to encourage your family in the way you know they need to be encouraged.
The second third of your time together can be spent looking into the word of God together. Acts 2:42 paints a picture of the early church saying "that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." This is the time to learn from the word of God.
This would be a great time to tune into your church’s online service to listen together to your pastor’s message for the week.
You could also use the SWORD method to lead your family in discovery Bible study, helping teach your kids how to dig into God’s word for themselves. Together you will learn what Jesus has for each of you in a particular passage of scripture. [learn about discovery Bible study]
Regardless, this second third is a time to dedicate to studying the Bible.
The final third of your time together should be spent looking ahead to the week to come. It is a time to plan together how you can apply what you’ve learned and be a blessing to others in the coming week. A few simple questions for this time are:
After you have discussed these as a family, ask your kids to hold you accountable to actually do the things you’ve said you would do.
End your time together by praying for your family. Then enjoy a great meal together!
Covid-19 is going to be a life changing event for all of us. But as fathers we have an opportunity to step in and lead our families into a deeper place of faith and following.
Imagine if our kids look back at this time and remember most of all that their dad led them closer to Jesus!
May it be!
One of the really cool tools on your smartphone is the You Version Bible App. It's a great resource for reading the Bible but also offers some really helpful reading plans and devotional plans which you can use to grow. One really helpful aspect of many plans is the ability to read through them with others and to interact with one another and the content of the plan.
Come, Let's Go! Discipleship and Evangelism is a new plan that was recently created by the folks at Zume. This is a seven day reading plan. Each day has a short devotional reading which includes a short teaching video from Zume. Then there are a number of Bible passages to read. Finally, there is an opportunity to talk it over, answering the question,
"Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?"
(If you do not have the You Version Bible app you can get it at your app store on your phone or learn more here: www.youversion.com/the-bible-app)
Starting tomorrow, anyone who would like to join from the E2E community will begin reading through and interacting with this study. You can sign up now, but we'll start reading tomorrow, October 2nd.
Here's How It Will Work
At every E2E and gospel conversation training that we do, we always start with the Father's heart. If we can help the church dive into scripture to discover God's heart and desires for our world, we have a great place to begin training disciples who will make disciples.
We've turned that beginning session into a worksheet so that groups of Christ followers can discover together the Father's Heart and we want to share that today.
Gather a group of friends. Set aside an hour and work through this discovery study. And then begin to pray and dream into the final question.
You can work through the study below or download the worksheet HERE.
Assignment: Together with a group of friends, read each passage below and write a simple summary of what the passage reveals about God’s heart and desire for our world.
Finally, work through these two questions together.
I've been investing some time this summer working my way through the #NOPLACELEFT Strategy Coordinator Training that Steve Smith lead in 2016.
Trainers include Steve Smith, Stan Parks, Chuck and Deb Wood, Fred Campbell, and Ray and Sara Vaughn. It was held in Houston over seven very full days. There are four sections of teaching with forty three sessions.
This is a training that I wish I could attend in person, but for now I am blessed to learn from movement practitioners and to watch them model how to effectively train groups of people through videos.
I've learned so much and if you are asking the question, "What is it going to take to reach my entire city, region or people group?" then this training will be super beneficial.
You can begin going through the training videos for FREE HERE.
You can find future trainings that are similar HERE.
And you can watch Steve Smith's introductory session to the training below.
The E2E Community
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.