discipleship

I was talking to one of my students recently about the temptations of youthful spirituality, how when you are young you get addicted to the buzz of the worship high and then go searching for a more intense fix. You become a worship junkie. From your high school youth group on being close to God is being ON FIRE! Because God is AWESOME! That’s the temptation for youth, being trained to associate God with adrenaline and the Spirit with excitement.

What I told my student was this. What no one ever shares with you when you’re young is that Christianity is boring. No one tells you that. That Christianity, for the most part, is boring. No one tells you that Christianity is a 70 to 80 year grind in becoming more kind, more gentle, more giving, more joyful, more patient, more loving.

You learn that God isn’t in the rocking praise band or the amped up worship experience. What you learn after college is that Holy Ground is standing patiently in a line. You learn that Holy Ground is learning to listen well to your child, wife or co-worker. Holy Ground is being a reliable and unselfish friend or family member and being a good nurse when someone is sick. Holy Ground is awkward and unlikely friendships. Holy Ground is often just showing up.

Being more and more like Jesus is a million boring little things. No one ever tells you that when you’re young.
The whole problem of our life was neatly expressed by John the Baptist when he said (John 3:30) ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This you have realised. But you are expecting it to happen suddenly: and also expecting that you should be clearly aware when it does. But neither of these is usual. We are doing well enough if the slow process of being more in Christ and less in ourselves has made a decent beginning in a long life (it will be completed only in the next world).
—  C.S. Lewis
My Friend Wants To Leave Behind Faith: What Do I Do?

afoolofhope asked:

How would you suggest one to go about discussing faith with someone who said they were raised in a strong Christian home, and growing up wanted to believe in God and all the things that go with that, but they had to “test the waters” for themselves? It seems like the conclusion they came to was along the lines of “this is good for some people, but since I can’t believe it, it’s not for me.” I want to help point them to Christ, but I’m not sure how to do so/talk with them about it.

 

My dear friend, I first want to applaud you for truly caring about your friend. It’s already a difficult task to talk about faith, and the fact that you want to talk faith with someone who doesn’t is a huge testament to your loving heart.

Here’s the hard part.

If your friend wants to leave behind their faith, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

Of course, you can continue to ask questions. Stay involved. Reach out. Invite them to church activities. Challenge their assumptions. Keep asking, “How’s life?” Be around and be near.

But in the end, each person must choose their own way. If you bring up matters of faith as a way to bring them back to “the fold,” they’ll see right through you, and suddenly they’ll feel like a project or a charity case. No one wants that. It’s hurtful. No one wants to be part of someone’s agenda for a triumphant church-victory.

More than that though, if we coerce someone with the external apparatus of persuasion, then they’re not really going to think for themselves. They might turn back to faith because you won an argument, but not because they were fully convinced in and of themselves that Jesus was the one for them.

I know this whole thing feels very urgent, because sometimes the church will pressure you into clawing back the prodigal. You might have heard, “What if they die tomorrow?” And I suppose that could be true.

Yet it’s even worse to make someone want something if they don’t want it. You can only present Christianity the best you can through the overflow of your life, and perhaps one day, they’ll come back. And if they don’t, keep loving them, and you cannot blame yourself.

 

Here’s what I’ve seen. Your friend might eventually exhaust themselves on the world and get to the end of their options. I’ve been there and I’ve seen friends get there. They’ve tried everything: gyrating strangers in the club, every cliched chemical, the vicious cycle of getting back with a bad ex. They will exhaust themselves. 

At that point, who will they turn to?

I can tell you who I did not turn to. I didn’t turn to the guilt-tripping, Bible-verse slamming, theologically correct friends who were waiting to use my comeback story. They were cool and all, but I couldn’t trust them to accept me as an individual; I was only a trophy, a sort of prop in their savior narrative. 

Instead, I turned to the ones who wouldn’t judge me. Who were always there for me. Who invited me all the time to things, even when they knew I would say no. Who had left me countless voicemails and even mailed me handwritten letters. Who didn’t drop Bible-verse bombs. Who were nice to my mother. They didn’t treat me like I was “behind” and they were “ahead.” They didn’t use Christianese phrases to trap me. They heard my venting about church. And they were there for me after I spent myself dry on the world and when I wanted something more.

They never compromised on theology. Yet I never felt uncomfortable around them. They were Jesus for me. And I hope you can be Jesus for your friend.

– J.S.

6 Excuses Given When Saying No To Discipleship

I’ve been dwelling on excuses that people give lately (me included.) There’s a lot of them, especially when it comes to living righteously with obedience to everything God calls them to. 

Excuses:

 - I don’t want to be legalistic/religious. 

 - God’s standard is too high for anyone to meet.

 - I’m not called to be a missionary or full-time ministry.

 - Doesn’t feel right to say you aren’t supposed to do that.

 - I see great spiritual leaders doing those types of things all the time.

 - I haven’t had the same opportunities as that other person.

Reality:

 - Avoiding legalism should never be an excuse for a poor devotion life. If you’re worried that it will turn into “going through the motions" don’t get rid of the motions, put some fire behind them! The devil would love to label every act of righteousness as religious legalism so that Christians never reach their spiritual potential.

 - God’s righteous standard is too high. Get over it. It’s not an excuse to sin. It’s a call to live more righteously than what we’re living now. The Psalmist asked God, "Search my heart, see if there be any wicked way in me.” He was constantly in self evaluation mode, or more accurately, holy-spirit evaluation mode.

 - There is no second call for those who are supposed to live a “normal life.” God’s call for everyone, preacher, youth pastor, missionary, mechanic, plumber, teacher or waiter is to pray constantly, memorize and live out scripture, and worship God with abandon.

 - There’s a way that seems right to a man and the end thereof is death. Don’t trust your feelings. Trust every word in the Bible. I’m sure the pharisees in the Bible had a feeling that the messiah would come in thunder and lightning and save them from their Roman oppressors. The messiah that actually came came went against every nerve in their bodies and that’s why they got rid of Him.

 - Jesus says that there will be people who get to the judgement who have done great miracles such as healing people and casting out demons, and still won’t make it into heaven. Don’t get caught up in following people who have spiritual gifts. Follow people who are exhibiting fruit that was grown in the secret place of private devotion.

 - In the Parable of the Talents, the Lord gave three men sums of money. To one He gave 10, another 5, and a third He gave 1. They each didn’t have a separate standard by which they were judged, they were all called to fervent stewardship with what they were given. To simply give God back the things He’s given you will not be enough come judgement day. You have to have ardent devotion to multiply what he’s given. Don’t be standing in front of the returning master of the house with a handful of seeds, get out there and grow some fruit!

Our Lord’s making of a disciple is supernatural. He does not build on any natural capacity at all. God does not ask us to do the things that are easy to us naturally; He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace, and the cross will come along that line always.
—  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: September 25
This Temptation

This temptation doesn’t mean I’ve sinned yet. Jesus was tempted too.

This temptation is lying to me about myself, about God and about what is good.

This temptation is not going to last forever.

This temptation does not guarantee a given result. I don’t have to do this thing.

This temptation is going to get loudest right before it’s over and I make it through.

This temptation is stronger than I am, but not as strong as God in me is.

This temptation doesn’t define me. I am first and foremost a child of God.

This temptation doesn’t want me to pray, but can’t stop me from praying.

This temptation doesn’t want me to call my friends for help, but can’t stop me.

This temptation will absolutely buckle if I am courageous right now.

This temptation knows that if I really believe any of these true things, it’s done.