E38 – Being among the lost like yeast

“Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.”
C.T. Studd

Yeast is does no good sitting inside a yeast package.  It has to mix with the flour before it serves a purpose.

Book mentioned:

Concentric Circles of Concern: The Seven Stages for Making Disciples

 

E37 – Answering questions like Jesus

How did Jesus answer questions? Have you ever thought about that?  Have you ever wished you could have Jesus pinch hit for you when you were asked a hard question.  Today we are going to look at how Jesus answered questions, and we are using the background of a recent controversy a certain Christian singer found herself in after answering a tough question.  Let’s see what we can learn about how to answer questions in our lives the way Jesus would.

Here is the link where you can listen to a section of the original interview on YouTube.

E36 – Discipleship Multiplier – The Math of Disciple Making

Download the Discipleship Multiplier now.

When I finally “got” disciple making it really changed my world.  It changed the way I followed Jesus, and it changed the way I viewed successful ministry.

One day I was reading an example of how the math of disciple-making worked.  Unfortunately, their math was wrong, or at least it didn’t make sense to me.  So, in order to flesh out the idea a little more, I built an excel spreadsheet that would model the effect focusing on disciple-making could have. Today, I’m making it available for you to use as well.

Just click on this link and fill in your first name and email to get a free download link to the Discipleship Multiplier.

Here is how the Discipleship Multiplier spreadsheet works. In the spreadsheet, you can currently change three different variables.  The first variable you can adjust is your age.  Now, you can’t really adjust your age, but you can set up the spreadsheet to model your life as it is right now.  How ever old you are, that is what you are.  Many times I have wished I understood this earlier, but that isn’t something I can go back and change.  What you and I can do, though, is to make sure our remaining years count, how ever many they may be.

Second, you can change the variable of how long, on average, you think it will take you to disciple someone to maturity in Christ.  Maturity in Christ can be a bit nebulous, so for this my definition is they are mature in Christ when they can disciple someone else to the point of maturity basically without your help. In thinking about this number I’ll give you a couple of thoughts.  One, Jesus used 3 years with His disciples, so don’t underestimate how long it will take. Two, while you may not be Jesus, remember that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are very actively involved in turning this person into a mature disciple of Jesus, so also don’t overestimate.  I would suggest that it would normally be between 3 and 8 years.  Obviously, your children will take longer than that, and if you already have someone who is mature and faithful it will be shorter just to teach them the disciple making portion.  Anyway, one of the beauties of Excel is you can play with the numbers and see how they change.

The last varaible you can change is how many people you can disciple at one time.  Again, lets look to Jesus. Jesus had lots of people he preached to, healed, taught, etc.  However, He specifically limited His inner circle to 12 men, and some would argue there was another even closer circle of 3.  So I would suggest limiting yourself to no more than 12 at one time.  Also, I would suggest that we can pretty well always disciple at least 1.  So, keep your numbers in between those areas.

As you adjust those numbers to fit what you believe to be your reality,

take a look at what happens below.  You’ll find 4 output columns for you to consider.

The first, is how many years have passed since you started focusing on disciple making.  This is a function of how many years you think it will take to disciple someone to maturity.

The second column is the total number of disciple makers.  This column increases exponentionally as the people we disciple now begin joining us in making disciples.

I added a feature that will highlight certain numbers, or population points.  When you see a light red background, that number indicates the total number of disciples makers has now exceeded the population of the United States.  When you see a light yellow background, the total number of disciple makers has now exceeded the population of the highest populated country in the world, China.  When the background turns gray, the current population of the world has been exceeded.

Think about that.  That is crazy.  How could something you do affect the entire population of the world? It’s too big isn’t it?  You are too small and weak, aren’t you? This is why the 3rd column is how many people you personally disciple in the course of your life.  When you look at that number you will find it is amazingly small in comparison.  If I asked you if you thought you could disciple the whole world, or even just America, the answer would clearly be no.  However, when you look at the total number of people you personally disciple it doesn’t need to be big to reach the world.

Lastly, there is your age.  I designed it to stop when your age reaches 100.  Obviously, many will die before that. The greater danger though, is not that you will die earlier, it is that you will either never get started or you will kick back and “retire” when you get older and waste those precious years.

Take a little time and explore how changing those numbers works.  What I think you will find surprising and encouraging is how few people you really have to disciple well to make a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.  And, remember you aren’t doing it by yourself.  Jesus, and others in His church, are working along side you.

Caveats:

Yes, I know the model isn’t perfect.  Mathematically it is, but real life rarely follows pure math. Still, take a look at the number of disciple makers when you die and ask yourself, “Even if the number was only half of that would I still be satisfied?”  I think you would.  While it isn’t perfect, I hope it will inspire you to focus your life on obeying the command to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20)

Second caveat, we also don’t make our disciples wait until they are fully mature before they start discipling someone.  They should be beginning to do it with us very early in their own being discipled experience.

(If you have suggestions for how the model could be improved leave a comment below, or email us at podcast @ Lukefive.com)

E35 – The Power of a God-led Act of Kindness

How much power is in a God-led act of kindness?  We’ll never know if we don’t give it a shot.  There is a lot of power when we open our eyes, ears, and hands to participate in what God brings our way.

Resources mentioned:
Alex and Hannah Absalom on stopping to listen to God.

 

E34 – How to Disciple Someone to Study the Bible on Their Own

We all know disciples of Jesus need to be able to study the Bible on their own, but how do we teach them? Do we spoon feed them for years with the hopes they will eventually be able to read and apply God’s word to their lives, or do we do something more intentional?  We would argue the latter.

Today on this episode, we are going to talk about teaching something called the Cross Bible Study to the people we disciple.  I hope you find it helpful.  I know I did when it was first taught to me by Jim Millard.

Below you’ll see a picture of a sample Cross Bible Study.  You don’t have to do it exactly as I do, but it will at least give you an idea.

I like to write out the passage reference and the date, followed by drawing the cross and numbering it to remind me to follow each step with Jesus.

Next, I’ll go to step 1 and pray.  Then I will make a conscious effort to read with Jesus.

After I read the passage once, I will put a number 2) on my paper followed by a letter A).  I will prayerfully write out 3-5 questions (lettering them A-E) while asking Jesus to help me with the questions.  Then I will consider the questions with Jesus.

After I have answered all the questions, I will write 3) JESUS – “James,     ”

I will pause and listen to Jesus.  Sometimes I hear easily and sometimes I do not. On my best days, I listen quietly. If I do not feel like I am hearing anything from Jesus, then I will go to phase 2 of listening. I will imagine Jesus is sitting across the table from me, and I will imagine what He would say to me out of the passage. To me, this is a way of building up my listening muscle or perhaps is another way of listening. Whatever I hear I will write as accurately as I can.

Lastly, I will write a 4) and respond with how I will obey, or respond to God in some other way depending on what I heard.

I hope you find this helpful.  Let me know.

For story framework the website I mention on the podcast is Historycloth.com.

 

 

E33 – The Methods of Jesus (Part Matthew)

“You can’t take the teachings of Jesus and separate them from the methods of Jesus and get the results of Jesus.” – Jim Putman

Let’s take an aerial overview from Matthew and see what we can discover about the methods Jesus used. How did Jesus use His time?  Who was He with? What did He do?

We are trying something a little new on this episode. Let us know how you like it.

In faithfulness You have afflicted me

The other day I was reading a portion of Ps 119 and verse 75 stood out to me.  In the old NIV it says,

“I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”

That last portion really caught my attention.  “in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had a number of friends afflicted as they were removed from the work they had poured their life into.  I’m not talking about a business they started, or a job they devoted themselves to.  No, they poured their lives into God’s work, and in faithfulness He afflicted them.

My friends left under stress and pressure with no time to close up relationships.  Some lost many of their belongings that they didn’t have time or room to take with them. Others just lost their ability to communicate with brothers and sisters in Christ that they had poured their lives into.  Gone.

As I look at the situation, it appears there will be a lot of tough times ahead for many of my friends who are still in the country.  I fear many of them will feel the afflictions of Christ in ways much harder than I ever have.

Why does the Psalmist under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit write, “In faithfulness you have afflicted me?”

I cannot give a clear answer, but I know it is true. In my own life, I have seen that I grow closer to God when I am afflicted.  I know God better through my afflictions.   Later another author under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would write “I want to know Christ, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings…” (Phil 3:10)

Perhaps, just as I “afflict” my children with consequences in order to shape their hearts and minds, God in His love and faithfulness afflicts me to shape and mold me into His character. God, as a good father, knows that at times nothing else will accomplish His will except affliction.  In our sinful condition, it is necessary.

I do not enjoy affliction, but I have come to appreciate it. Affliction drives me to prayer more than anything else. Affliction shapes me in ways prosperity and blessing cannot.

Its not a topic we as American consider offen, but suffering and affliction are all through the Bible, and they are not necessarily spoken of as bad.

Hebrews 12:6 – The Lord disciplines those He loves
James 1:2 – Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds

So, the next time you feel afflicted, remember it is in faithfulness He has afflicted you.

Don’t judge your future based on mistakes in your past

I just read a great blog post about dealing with dissappointment in disciple making , and Craig brought up something really cool about Mark.

Think about this. Mark was such a poor disciple that he left Paul and Barnabus on his first missionary journey with them. Barnabus’ desire to take Mark with them again caused Paul and Barnabus to split up their work. Things aren’t looking so great for Mark right now.

Yet, God changes Mark and later not only will Paul say,”bring Mark because He is useful to me,”(2 Tim 4:10-14) but God will also use Mark to write one of the four Gospels of Jesus… the book of Mark.

You may be looking back on your life right now and find yourself unsatisfied with how you have lived for Jesus and with the fruit you have born.  Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  Surrender yourself fully to God and you will be amazed at the fruit He can bring in your life.

If you (and me) have failed in our walk we are in good company. Consider these names mentioned in the Bible: David, Peter, and Paul.  Just a quick glance will show you all of these men had some major failing points in their lives, but that isn’t what we remember them for.  We remember them for what God did through them in their lives.  Warts and all, God still uses them and He will use you, too.

E32 – Only Fit to be Slaves?

“Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” -C.S. Lewis

Those parts of your life you do not surrender to your owner are the parts most vulnerable to attack from the enemy.