Geri and I were in Alexandria, Virginia a couple of years ago when I walked past the memorial statue below that read: “Erected to the Memory of the Confederate Dead of Alexandria, VA by their surviving comrades. May 24, 1889.” All I could think of was how bad leadership, going back decades, led to a Civil War (1861-1865) that killed 529,000 men in a country of 32 million. Bad leadership continues to kill people today. Bad leadership kills individuals. When sheep enter our churches, they come with a variety of motivations. They need mature shepherds to offer clear direction on how to connect with Jesus and reach their God-given potential in Christ. What happens when they don’t? Many shipwreck, and a few even die, in the difficult journey we call life. Bad leadership kills singles and marrieds. Offering discipleship in churches for our singles and marrieds is difficult. It is time-consuming and messy. The. Read more.
Human beings have always been in a hurry. God has never been in a hurry. God waited a very, very, very long time, after Adam and Eve, before He called Abraham. God waited almost two thousand more years before entering human history in the person of Jesus. God (in the person of Jesus) waited almost 30 years before beginning his public ministry. God waited to gather and disciple the Twelve. God waited through his arrest and crucifixion rather than call on the legions of angels at his disposal. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, we discover stories of God teaching his people patience. Abraham had to wait 25 years. Joseph waited between 15 and 25 years. Moses waited until he was 80 years old to begin his ministry. Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness. It was Tertullian (204 AD from North Africa) who wrote that, when the Holy Spirit descends, patience. Read more.
I received a phone call to turn on the news as a story was breaking about a local supermarket burning to the ground. Images of fire trucks, destruction, and towering flames filled my computer screen. A New Life Fellowship Church member had invested 25 years of his life to build that business. His life work was now in ashes. We met over dinner a few weeks after the tragedy, and Geri and I listened to the story. What surprised me most was not his response but mine. His grief and disorientation were so great that my first thought was that he speak with a good Christian counselor. It was only when Geri and I were in the car returning home that I realized how I had failed to ask a far more important question – that of discernment. Where was God in the fire? This is what I failed to remember: Death and resurrection. Read more.
The word “listen” or “hear” is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. The problem is that it is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO God. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is: “God, how are you coming to me, what might you want to say?” The question then needs to be applied specifically to different areas of our lives. Let me provide you with a few examples of what that looks like in my life: Time with God. “God, how are you coming to me in Scripture and silence today?” At times he leads me to linger over a passage, a phrase, or a text for days – even weeks. At times he leads me to read whole books of Scripture in one sitting. While I practice 20 minutes of silence and stillness each morning, I am also listening to. Read more.
One of the great questions confronting the church today in the face of our growing secular culture is: Can you be a believer and not a disciple? In this podcast, I talk with Rich Villodas about this question and the challenges facing leaders today. How do we make disciples when people are already over-committed and busy? What can we do to address the many under-developed, stunted, nominal Christians filling our churches? Click below to listen and wrestle with us on what it will take to make disciples who are deeply transformed so we can change the world for Christ. LISTEN HERE Save Save Save Save Save
A few years ago, a Christian publisher strongly recommended we reduce EHS discipleship into four, one-hour sessions because that was all that most American Christians can handle. “Let’s keep it simple,” many pastors and leaders argue. “If your people attend weekend services, participate in a small group and serve, that is all you can expect.” People are not experiencing deep transformation in our churches. Large numbers of people live off other people’s spirituality (e.g. worship teams, sermons, Christian radio and podcasts) and do not intentionally cultivate their own personal relationship with Jesus. We now have tens of thousands of believers in Jesus who are not necessarily disciples. And we continue to work day and night to add to this number. This raises a number of questions: Can a person be a Christian without being a disciple who makes daily, intentional choices to follow Jesus and remain/abide with Him? Can a nominal Christian who has. Read more.