In Colossians 2.18-23 Paul speaks of false teachers who delight in false humility. They go into great detail about what they have seen, and their unspiritual mind puffs them up with idle notions. Quite the contrast to what is said about Moses in Numbers 12.1-9, When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. Prophets who dream dreams and see visions, certainly would have something to boast about in the flesh. But, note what the Lord says about Moses, Moses is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.
Moses had more reason to boast than any of the false teachers. Yet, in verse 3 we read, Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. Self-righteousness is a terrible fruit of pride and the last person to know it exists is the one who demonstrates it. Some things that we see and experience are best to ponder and be left untold lest we become pharisaical and unknowingly bear the fruit of pride.
I just returned from the country of Haiti where I co-taught a graduate class in the Emmaus Biblical Seminary in Cape Haitian. The course had a unique title, Humility and Holiness in the Ministry. Preparations for the course helped me better understand the relationship between the two: humility and holiness. I’d like to share some thoughts on that topic in this and some future blogs.
Humility is most beautifully demonstrated in the example of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet; including those of Peter and Judas. He already knew of a coming denial and betrayal, yet did not hesitate to wash their feet. The recording of that act of humility in John 13.1-17 ends with the Master’s exhortation, I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Whatever we perceive as our ministry, it should include washing feet. Not only is the unselfish things to do, it guarantees His blessing. Washing another’s feet may be challenging but allowing someone else wash yours is most humbling. Try it soon! What a different world we would live in if every follower of the Christ would perfect this simple art.
In the summer of 2014, in the city of Greenwood, IN, complaints about not singing the hymns of the church seem to multiply. Numerous believers missed the hymns in their churches and the deep theology they communicate.
As a result, a retired pastor, a former minister of music and a musically-gifted layman set out to address the complaints. The result, a community hymn sing was born. A strong positive response lead to the sing being repeated twice annually, in the spring and in the fall.
For the spring of 2016, a COMMUNITY HYMN SING will be held on Sunday evening, May 1st at 6:30 pm at the Mt. Pleasant Christian Church whose leadership has graciously made their facility available for the event from the beginning.
Those receiving notice of the event share excitement and anticipation as the date approaches. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if such an event existed in all communities where people from many different churches came together to sing…Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee, along with many other favorites loved by so many?
If you happen to live in the area, why not try to attend. Your walk with God will be greatly enriched. It’s guaranteed. If not, why not explore the possibility of starting one in your community. The response you get may surprise you.
“Ignoring the giant in the room” is not an unfamiliar phrase in today’s vocabulary. It speaks of an existing major issue that no one want to acknowledge or address. In the life of many Christians there is a giant in their life that is believed best by some to be ignored and not acknowledged.
Following our conversion to Christ, there remains in us an inherent core of selfishness and pride which wars within our members corrupting our intentions and achievements. It manifests itself in various ways:
- in our jealousy of others accomplishments and achievements
- in the vanity we enjoy when we have accomplished something we deem worthy
- in our allowing our love to be cheapen into lust
- in the sinfulness of our speaking evil of others around us
- in putting ourselves before others
- in our enjoyment of flattery and our resentment of blame
- in our espousing lofty values that we fail to demonstrate in our daily life.
Theories abound as to how to best deal with removing the “elephant” but Paul gives a rather obvious answer to the issue. He dealt with the “elephant” by understanding what it means to be crucified with Christ. The word crucified appears three times in his letter to the Galatians. Look them up and see if they give you any clue that might be helpful to you in dealing with the “elephant” in your life.
If the ultimate goal of discipleship is to become Christlike, it’s essential that we experience a crucified life and teach others how to experience it too.
The proverbial question Which comes first the chicken or the egg? has never acquired an authoratative answer. Guess it’s how you look at it. The same is true with discipleship and evangelism. Evangelism does not, however, insure discipleship but a growing disciple should be trained and involved in discipleship.
Our discipleship program, launched in Haiti to disciple literacy-challenged believers has garnered results we never anticipated. Recently some seminary students, enthused to reach unreached areas began spending time in a small village in the mountain area of their country. They used the first four modules of our program to evangelize. Who is God? How do you get to know Him? What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? What is the meaning of baptism? Topics that speak to unbelievers.
The response speaks for itself. Today there is a congregation averaging over sixty each Sunday. New believers are being discipled with the continuing modules of the program and other non-believers are being evangelized by new converts. The people of the village have given land and a donor from the U. S. has provided the money to build their first place of worship. Discipling pays huge dividends.
Most believers are aware of Peter’s words of challenge, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (I Peter 3.15). An aim of discipleship is to equip followers of Christ to do so. Many questions asked of believers are tough ones and unbelievers don’t expect easy answers.
A good friend, Dr. Raymond C. Hundley, has provided two great texts for helping us answer those difficult questions. I highly recommend them. Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions and More Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions are available from him at $12. each. If interested, address your order to him at 926 Ell Way; Sarasota, FL 34243.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their decitful scheming (Eph. 4.14). Such is a worthy goal of discipleship.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every believer considered himself a discipler? The question deserves some explanation. Discipling can be considered on different levels. Some discipling is more intentional and structured. Some is unintentional and informal.
Every contact that a believer has with a non-believer should have as its ultimate goal evangelism, praying that someday that person would become a Christ-follower. Every contact with another believer should have as its goal discipleship, edification. One could ask, “Is my contact with my fellow believer one which provokes to love and good works. Will my brother or sister in Christ be motived, by contact with me, to desire a deeper relationship with Him?
There have been people in my life who have inspired me to want to be more than I am. Their very presence exudes the spirit of Christ. Their conversation is always seasoned with salt. I want to be a person like that.
Whether formal or informal, structured or unstructured, discipling should be on the agenda of every believer.
While reading Praying by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, I was captured by the following statement, It should not surprise us that God’s promises to and purposes for us have more to do with our spiritual development than our physical comfort. The paragraph concludes, But what He primarily has in view for us is a destiny of Christlikeness and where Christlikeness is not being sought He may well withhold some of the benefits to which His promises refer…(p. 167).
An awesome truth to ponder. Failing to keep in mind our destiny in Christ may cause us to miss some withheld benefits to which His promises refer. Many may have heard the story of the believer who was being given a tour of heaven when confronted with a hugh warehouse simply marked Unclaimed Blessings. Upon asking what the building was all about, the response was simply, The building houses all the blessings of God which were never claimed because believers failed to ask. Think on these things and don’t forget God’s destiny intended for all of us who follow His Son.
While teaching at a seminary in Cape Haitian,Haiti, I asked the young seminarians, What will it take to change Haiti? The youngest member of the class responded, When those who profess to be Christian, live like one.
His answer is relevant to all cultures. The goal of discipleship is Christ-likeness. When we DWJWD, do what Jesus would do, the chances are strong that others will see in us something they wish to possess for themselves.
Discipleship is the key to Christlikeness and Christlikeness is the ultimate goal of discipleship. An intentional, systematic approach to discipleship training pays tremendous dividends. The likelihood of changing the world is greatly increased when believers are intentionally discipled.
I recently received an email from a dear brother who, as a participant in our discipling ministry years ago, grew exponentially in his relationship with Christ. He wrote,
“For nearly 13 years, I taught DT classes…and enjoyed every minute of it. Those classes changed my life. I continue to follow Growth Ministries but I find that many of the churches today no longer have any type of discipleship training (other than small groups) to encourage the spiritual growth of their members.”
Let me comment of his comment about “small groups”. Small groups are one of the most essential tools in discipling believers and some churches used them very effectively. However, many of them lack intentionality and systematic content. Groups are often left to study what they please. The goal is more for fellowship and mutual sharing than for instruction. Fellowship and mutual sharing are, likewise, essential to the discipling process but so is exposure to the whole counsel of the Word of God? (Acts 20.27)
Hebrews, alone, re-enforces the reality that discipleship begins with the elementary teachings (6.1) and moves on to the deeper truths of God’s Word; from milk to meat. Intentional discipleship will be systematic teaching both basic disciplines of growth as well as Christian values that greatly affect one’s maturing in Christ.
We’ll continue this discussion in our next post.