Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Art of Discipleship.

"Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him" (2 Kings 12:2, NIV).

Can you imagine be offered a job by someone who knew you didn't have the experience, the training, nor the aquired skill, and given the expectation to perform like an expert? Of course not. For the most part, it would be that someone saw potential in you, and knew that with the proper training, mentoring, and guidance, that they would be able to convert that potential into performance.

So it was with Joash. Joash had become king at the age of seven after being hidden in secret for most of his early years after a violent and hostile takeover from his grandmother. When he had become king, he had had no godly example, or any example, for how to be king. There was no prior training. However, "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord ALL THE YEARS JEHOIADA THE PRIEST INSTRUCTED HIM." Joehoida knew that Joash posessed the potential to be a good king that would turn the heart of the nation back to God. He knew that he could not and would never be able to accomplish this on his own. Therefore, he commited to walking along side the king with a heart and mind to mentor and disciple him in the matters of Lord. And all the while Jehoiada did this, Joash was successful in the eyes of the Lord. 

Do you ever feel as though you the idea of serving God is like running a marathon that you realize a few hundred yards in that you were ill-trained to finish? You begin with all the excitement in the world only to find that excitement alone is not enough to endure in the "long run." So it is in life and in relationship with Jesus. God has called you to be discipled, but also for the purpose of discipling others. You can't expect to do well what you've never done unless one who been there and done that walks beside you. In the same way, you can't expect others to do well in their walk with Jesus, unless you, you have clocked some miles on the journey, choose to walk along side them as well.

What does it mean to be discipled? Get around someone who's been there, who's on the journey, who is closer to the goal that you are trying to reach. Ask them to show you how they've gotten where they are. Don't wait for them to seek you out. See what it is that you want and go for it. Be willing to be teachable, challenged, stretched uncomfortably to the limits. Be willing to develop consistent habits that will not always fit into "your schedule." 

What does it mean to disciple? Though one should never wait to be sought out, choose to seek out those you know could benefit in their walk with God through the art of discpleship. Choose to spend time. Be willing to share what you've learned, what God has shown you, and how He's kept you on the journey. Be open and transparent and willing to share how imperfect you are, but are continuing to seek Jesus in becoming more like Him. Be ready to challenge someone and hold them accountable in the disciplines and the truth of God. 

Remember, mentorship and discipleship is a two-way street. Everyone needs one and everyone should be one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Purpose in the Forgotten Places.

"I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings" (Psalm 61:4, NIV).

In a time where all he seem to be an expert on was 'flocks' and 'fighting,' David understood from where true strength and rest existed. It was during the days of being overlooked in his father's fields tending the sheep that he began to discover who he really was. Overlooked and underestimated by his family, he had been targeted and apointed by God for a greatness he could have never imagined. It was during the alone times in the field that he connected with God, his maker, his creator, and the lover of his soul in an intimacy that could never be matched by any of the accolades he would ever achieve. 

David's relationship with God was anchored in an authenticity of desire, never to be diluted by a fatiguing sense of duty. David knew that his greatest strength and rest would be found in the presence of God and in the shadow of His wings. 

There are undoubtedly times when you have felt completely disregarded, lonely, overlooked, and considered "put out to pasture" by those you had been certain were on your side. Choose not to give into fear. The One who created you is the One who has called you. He sees all that is within you, because it was His masterful hands that formed your purpose, and it was His lungs that breathed that purpose into your being. See the "alone times" as "your time" to connect with God on a level that is not diluted by duty, but is ingnited by a desire to know that One that has always known you. 

In Him you will find the strength and the rest for the journey ahead. It's in Him you will discover a "new song" when hope seems deferred. It's in Him that you will be discovered by those who once forgot you existed. The purpose God has placed in you will be revealed through you. Take the time to connect with Him. See Him as your strength and your rest. Pursue His presence and find shelter in the shadow of all He is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Are You Defensive?

"Deliver me from enemies , O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me" (Psalm 59:1, NIV).

Let's face it. There are times when you are faced with a situation and you are challenged by someone who speaks as though they know everything, but it becomes obvious that they know nothing about the situation in which they speak. When that situation involves your integrity or your intentions, and the challenge comes harshly, it can be very easy to become and want to respond defensively. 

David was no stranger to similar situations. He was hunted down on more than one occasion as though he was prized game by an insecure king who was set on David's elimination. David, like any one of us, certainly struggled with the feelings of wanting to defend himself. In fact, we know, at least on one occasion when in cave and Saul was sleeping, that David strategically inched closer to Saul and cut off a section of his cloak, showing how he could have killed him, but proving and defending his own innocence. He immediately felt remorse for touching the anointed of God. David had to see GOD has his defender. Becoming defensive and focusing on proving his own innocence would have meant taking his eyes off of the One who had breathed purpose into his life. Rather than focusing on the one who sought to destroy him, David chose to focus on the one who would deliver him.

There are those who will come against you. There will be those who speak quickly and challenge you. At times, your intentions, integrity, and motivation will not only be challenged, but falsley assumed as less than you know to be true. Becoming defensive will only had fuel to the fire. Know that those who are quick to accuse are generally those who are in a fight with their own insecurities. They thrive on having the upper hand and putting others on the defensive. Don't fall into the trap. Trust that God has your back. Seek Him. Worship Him. Keep your eyes on the One who delivers you, not those that can destroy you. Be secure in who God is and in who you are because of Him. Choosing to become defensive is choosing to trust in yourself more than trusting in God. Lean on the ONE who is your defense.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Compassion without Compromise

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. Grace be with you all (1 Timothy 6:20‭-‬21, NIV).

Have you noticed the growing divide that has become more apparent between the culture and the Church? Like a tug of war to the death, the two pull and tug, fighting for dominance on the playing field of "truth." The trends of culture are changing at a rate of speed that is nearly impossible to keep up with. Truth is under the scrutiny of popular opinion and pop culture in a way that it never has been before. With the loud eruption of social media, unlimited access to news & "psuedo-news," the debate has been waged in ways that have never been seen since the days of Adam & Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden. What is the answer? How does a Church that is to be the "Body of Christ" maintain relevance to a culture without become irreverant to the Truth of God? Where is the balance between compassion and compromise? Is it still possible to hold to the unchanging truth of God in regards to sin without compromising the truth of God in "loving our neighbor?"

In a world where scriptural truths were once held sacred, there has been a great sacrifice on the altar of cultural acceptance. We have been called to the following:

GUARD. "...guard what has been entrusted to your care." What God has started in you will inevitably come under attack. Satan has been attacking the truth of God since the days of the Garden of God. When truth becomes infected with even the smallest amount of compromise or contradiction, it ceases to be truth. Truth is ABSOLUTE. It has to be. God IS truth and God never changes, therefore truth can never change. Guard the truth of God. Continue to seek Him for clarity, for confidence, and for true understanding. Stick to what the Bible says is true. In everything you do, do it with love and honor unto God. Don't compromise the guarding of truth by turning to judgment and condemnation. Guard God's truth, and He will undoubtedly guard you.

GET AWAY. "Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge." When those who know or have known the truth of God begin to espouse that which opposes the unchanging and unfallable truth of God, it's time to go. In a world of exremes, there seems to be a struggle to find balance. Where the Church has been to legalistic, the pendulum has swung to the side of liberalism. Both extremes are wrong and compromise the truth of God. Neither one stick to the true spirit nor the letter of what has been divinely inspired. Don't engage in fruitless arguments. Stand up for truth, but know when to go. Do it in love. Never let arrogance, pride, or defensiveness be the guiding force for what you do, even in the "name of Jesus," for by that, Jesus is never honored. Love always, but in guarding truth, sometimes you just have to go. Going allows you to pray and God to work. Sometimes YOU have to get out of the way so that HOLY SPIRIT can really speak.

GRACE. "Grace be with you all." Christians have been notoriously labeled at those who have become experts in the art & skill of judgment and condemnation. Let that label be made FALSE in your life. Let everything you think, say, and do be seasoned with the Grace of God that was modeled in and through the life of Jesus. Jesus NEVER compromised the truth of God, NOR did He ever compromise the love of God. He lived to defend both. It was the GRACE of God that enabled Him to live in compassion without it turning to compromise. Grace is showing love to those with whom you disagree or who disagree with you. It's living out the love of Jesus without judgment or condemnation. It's standing up for the truth, but without allowing pride or arrogance to get top billing. It's accepting people for who they, yet never changing who God is, and allowing HIM to be the author & perfector of all transformation that comes through faith.