A devoted follower of Jesus must love His Church for her deepest universal and spiritual reality, her mission, and her true essence: the people. This doesn’t mean ignoring or not addressing a local church’s flaws; it means that a focus on the transcendent splendor of Christ and His bride will cause these flaws to be less central.
When something dawns on you for the first time, do you get that take-your-breath-away feeling? “Breathtaking” as an adjective is like “amazing.” It’s sort of like having a heart palpitation which catches your breath for a moment. New insights can be overwhelming!
The prospect of adversity tends to intimidate us into giving up the fight rather than challenging us to confidently soldier on through exhausting trials. But that’s one of the reasons God has given us leaders who help us when we can’t touch the bottom any longer.
Scripture tells the truth, and memorizing it can be a means for us to recall this truth amidst the lies we hear and tell ourselves.
The drip, drip of problems never stop despite wrenching the nut tighter. Yet followers of Jesus can be calm in their hearts because of the peace of God which He gives to those He is transforming day by day.
When I entrust information to my brain, not only do I risk forgetting things, but I also end up using mental energy that could go somewhere else. Instead, if I write things down, I can “clear the mental decks” and be free to think and respond to what’s in front of me.
During this time of the year, Thanksgiving is a popular topic in sermons, articles, social media posts, radio talks, and more. We who make disciples of Christ seek to be attuned to our cultural situation and to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).
As you read the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, work hard to understand it. At some point you’ll want to look for specific things in your life to practice or change, but before you do that, take some time simply to reflect on Jesus.
Those of you who have been around Grace for a while, or others who have read our posts and heard our sermons, may have wondered, “Why do they use the term disciple-making instead of discipleship?”
While it is true that there are critical events in a disciple’s life, most notably the moment at which he or she crosses from death to life, we as disciple-makers must adopt a long and broad view of disciple-making if we are to carry out the Great Commission.
It’s true that there are obvious differences between western culture (a broad term in itself) and cultures we find in Asia or Africa. Most notable may be the degree of individualism that we see in the west, which contrasts starkly with the more collectivist mindset of other parts of the globe.
Club sports have become a major feature of American culture, at least for families with school-age children. Though they have been around for a long time, club sports have become more intense recently, demanding more and more hours, and routinely usurping traditional sacred times of the week (most notably Sunday mornings). The American church’s response to this dynamic has been primarily negative.
If you hang around people with a passion for disciple-making long enough, you start to see certain characteristics emerge. Good disciple-makers tend to be fluid in the way they approach their days and avoid rigidity in the interest of responding to God’s Spirit. They are also consistent in their efforts to connect with people, and to connect people with one another. Most of them, furthermore, are good storytellers.
Learn a simple and transferable method of Bible study for individuals that is designed to help you not only hear what God is saying to you in the Scripture, but also to obey what He’s told you.
I just can’t get away from the connection between disciple-making and coaching. There are many similarities we could mention, but one significant similarity between the disciple-maker and the coach is that both impart training in skills and character to others.
Many have written about the challenge that busyness poses for disciple-making. Normally the warning goes like this: if you’re too busy with all sorts of activities, you won’t have any margin in your schedule for building relationships with people. At one level this warning is convicting and warranted.
Lately I’ve been convicted of my often critical attitude toward other people, particularly those who are kind of quirky or just have some personality element that grates against me—this coming from a guy who more or less refused to sit in a chair in his office for a couple weeks.
Did you realize that the term Gospel means “good news?” The etymology may confuse us today, but “Gospel” is simply the conflation of two Old English words: god (“good”) and spel (“news”). So, let me ask you a question today: how “good” is your good news?
Disciple-making is a noble task, and in the interest of helping you pursue it we’re willing to go to great lengths (if you doubt this, check out our somewhat nerdy posts on helping you navigate pronouns and track down King Tiglath-Pileser III). Today we want to provide a basic challenge: share pretty much everything God is teaching you through His Word.
In a post several weeks ago, we introduced you to the 90-Day Disciple Making Challenge by Contagious Disciple Making. One of their ideas (the one you encounter on the first day of the challenge, in fact) is so good that we wanted to pass it on to you in a separate post. We’ll call it the “Daily Prayer Partner Calendar.”
When a Christian finds out that he or she has a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7), it can be a perplexing pleasure. It is a pleasure because it’s nice to know that the Lord has given us a special gift to offer in service to the body of Christ. It’s perplexing because we may not know what that special gift is.
Canadians are funny. No, this is not some sort of half-friendly wisecrack about our neighbors to the north. My exposure to the entertainment world (think of such humorists as Dan Akroyd and Mike Myers), as well as personal encounters with a number of Canadians, confirms that there’s something going on here.
When we started posting our Training Resources, our intention was to provide you with lots of useful tools that would benefit you as you seek to make disciples. A quick glance at our page will show that we’ve covered quite a variety of resources. Today, though, we want to alert you to a resource you already have access to.
When we use the Sword Method on a passage of Scripture, the “outputs” are several insights about the nature of God and people, as well as some indications about how a person might live. These outputs are beneficial, but they’re often too general or abstract to be actionable. In order for our study process to be most effective, we have to go a step or two further.
Those who spend a significant amount of time investing in others eventually run into a practical question: “What should I cover when I meet with those I’m training?” Without some kind of plan, meeting times with trainees can easily dissolve into directionless conversation or teaching that never works itself out in real life.
Already in our Training Resources posts we’ve argued that reading is an important activity for leaders, but today we want to add a corollary: reading a lot and not processing what you read is something like eating a lot of food and not digesting it. This is true of reading the Bible as well as other resources. James told us not to be hearers of the Word only, but also doers of the Word (James 1:22). In an information-rich age, we particularly need to heed his warning.
In sphere-of-life ministry there seems to be an authority challenge as well as an accessibility challenge. On the one hand, we can build into someone’s life with our own insights, which are comfortable and easily accessible to us. The problem is that our own insights have no spiritual authority in themselves. Conversely, we gain authority as we speak the Word of God to others, but expressing the biblical text meaningfully seems inaccessible to some.
In our prior tip on child evangelism, we focused on things to avoid in witness to children. This week we turn to the other side of the equation: some great words and ideas to focus on when we share our faith with kids. As with last time, we present below three tips to make your witness to children more effective.
We all want to be more effective in sharing the Gospel with our own kids and with others God puts in our lives, but how can we grow in this respect? So often we first try to sharpen our tactics, but perhaps a better way to begin is to consider which of our current practices we should avoid.
How do you invest in someone? This question is of immense practical importance. It is one thing for a person to recognize that God has given him the privilege of serving others and being a part of the kingdom of priests that “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is quite another thing for that person to know how to carry out His priestly duties.
Many of you in our platoon of fellow warriors have occupations that put you face-to-face with injustice and interpersonal strife on a daily basis. This can be very grating, especially when those in authority over us misuse their authority and treat us unfairly.
Committing Scripture to memory is an important element of training for effective ministry to others in our spheres of life. We recently stumbled upon an app available for iOS and Android devices that might give you some assistance in making Scripture memory a part of your daily routine.
If someone in our church was asked to share the Gospel, they’d probably dive into specific ideas, outlines, illustrations, Bible verses, and other content. They might use a napkin to draw the “bridge” illustration, whip out their Bible to travel down the Romans road, or present their favorite Gospel tract.
When we think about being more effective evangelists in our various spheres of life the Lord has put us in, I think we need a dose of realism. I won’t forget Larry Moyer, a gifted evangelist who founded EvanTell, saying he gets nervous before every time he shares the Gospel. Spiritual interactions are the event horizon of a cosmic battle (Ephesians 6:10–20), so a degree of internal tension is appropriate.
Recently I had the unique privilege to travel to Central Asia and to see first-hand the challenges and joys that brothers and sisters in Christ face there. It seems almost silly to attempt to encapsulate my experiences because they were extremely rich and diverse. For our purposes today, though, I want to highlight something that smacked me in the face: life in general—and the Christian life in particular—is far less comfortable for these brothers and sisters than it is for us.
The Old Testament comprises about two-thirds of the Bible’s text, but since it is further removed from us than the New Testament—culturally and chronologically—it presents particular analytical challenges. The accompanying spreadsheet attempts to help you as you study the Old Testament by laying out a relatively comprehensive timeline of the ninth through sixth centuries B.C., an era during which much important Israelite history took place.
A popular axiom in leadership circles says, “Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.” As is the case with all axioms, this is a bit of an overstatement. Nonetheless, there’s no question that if you dig into the personal habits of a leader, generally you’ll find books.
Most Christians recognize the importance of sharing their faith but often feel, simultaneously, they don’t share their faith enough. Some feel ill-equipped to proclaim the Gospel, some feel nervous, and still others feel they aren’t living a lifestyle that validates their message. Fortunately there is a training strategy for evangelism in all our spheres of life that proves wonderfully versatile and addresses all our hangups.
Whether one is studying the Bible personally, encouraging a friend from the Scriptures, or leading a Grace Group, the ability to mine a biblical text for its meaning is extremely important. We naturally ask, however, “How do I get from words in a passage to applications and teaching points?” The answer begins with this simple phrase: “Cut at the joints.”
Recently I and several pastors from Grace Polaris returned from the Central Focus Retreat, a gathering of Grace Brethren pastors from several states in our region. As I discussed leadership development over dinner with my friend Dave Lawson, he shared a ministry concept with me that I’d like to pass on to you.
Having taught in evangelical circles for a while, I’ve come up against a subtle tension that believers face. On the one hand, our theology makes us very aware of the effects of sin on the human heart and on the world. However, we also see people who are not followers of Christ apparently living moral lives.
A common problem in the boardroom and in the Bible study is the—shall we say, “overly generous”—contribution of certain individuals. You can probably think right now of someone who speaks so much in group discussions that others can’t even squeeze a word out. This is awkward as a group member. For group leaders, it’s downright frustrating.
We all know what it’s like to be grinding things out in the middle of a stressful day, internally miserable but trying to hold it together. Unfortunately our internal state has a way of displaying itself through our body language, and that’s not particularly helpful for our witness or our professional effectiveness.
Lately we’ve been talking a lot about sphere-of-life ministry: the huge impact we can have for Jesus on those around us in everyday settings. The first step is to identify a few individuals with whom we come in contact in the normal course of our lives.
In modern times it is far less challenging to access information than to sift through it. This principle holds true with regard to biblical studies. Bible tools abound, but their ubiquity can overwhelm most Bible students. Here are 3 resources that’ll help you out.