Archives For Discipleship

Palpable, conquerable fear

By Ben Reed


There are times in our lives where fear is as palpable as the key in the ignition of your car.

You sit there, wondering if you really have to start the engine. You wonder if it would be easier to plant, unencumbered by the stress that awaits you the next time the engine will go silent. When the engine returns to its resting state, you’ll be much closer to the fear you dread.

There are times in our lives where fear seems to grip our hearts so tightly it squeezes every the life out of each ounce of authentic, unconjured courage. Our past failures fuel the fire where fear slowly burns, the warm coals pulsing red-hot. Out of nowhere, a flame sparks upward and we’re reminded of the heat contained within. The gray coal we thought dormant shows life once again, and our past rears its head and cripples us again.

Fear seeks to destroy you, and the beautiful future laid out before you. It wants nothing less than to maim and leave you insecure. It takes the gifts God has given you and twists them so they appear weak and inert.

And you can…

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Favor of GodThe phrase “favor of God” seems to be growing in popularity, and I’m glad. It’s a biblical phrase – a good phrase. But it’s often misunderstood. I once heard a guy talk about finding a parking spot right up front on a busy shopping day because of the “favor of God.” I pictured in my mind the pregnant lady with triplets who had to park a football field away because of the favor of God upon this Pastor.

A recent story from LarkNews (satire, by the way – don’t start an email rumor mill – it’s fake) highlights our western view of God’s favor…

Christian family blessed through others’ misfortune

NEW CASTLE, Del. — Sam and Victoria Gutman have always been smart shoppers, but they have gone to another level during the recent recession, buying automobiles, computers and more from distressed owners.

“God continues to bless us,” says Sam. “All things really do work for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. We’re living proof.”

Last week they bought a Lexus coupe from a man who…

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PurityLet me start off by saying, no one is immune to sexual temptation.  It doesn’t matter what your job is, how old you are, or how much time you spend with Jesus each day.  We all have the potential to fall sexually.

Even ministers… and maybe, especially ministers.

Ministers have jobs that automatically put them in a pressure cooker.  It’s not unusual to have a stressful job, but there are five unique aspects of a ministry position that make him more vulnerable to opening the door to sexual temptation.

1.  A pastorate is a place of power – Whether the minister is using it or not, he has great influence over others.  The pastor is an authority, he is looked up to, he is on stage, and is usually highly regarded.  Broken people with damaged lives come regularly to talk with the minister, many of them desperate for a word or attention.  It is not hard for a minister to sway others with their words or personality.  The minister probably doesn’t realize the power he has over others.

2.  Ministers are often isolated and unaccountable for their actions Ministers spend large…

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I Have Had Enough!

By Tim Patrick

ElijahWhat thoughts do the words printed in the title stir in your mind? Some would imagine a poor soul who is discouraged and ready to quit. Others would envision a quitter who does not like to sweat or endure hardship. The less compassionate would envision a person who is soft. Some would picture a person who is beaten into submission. When I was a child we played a game of conquest in which the loser must cry “uncle.” That was the humiliating word spoken by a child who reached the breaking point. A common tactic (among boys) was to pin the arm of another playmate behind his back until he cried “uncle.” I know such games are belittling and unkind, but no one ever said children are kindhearted.

We can identify with the words in the title until we discover they come from the lips of “a man of God.” They were not spoken by ‘just’ any man of God, but by one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah. Elijah, this cannot be! He is the prophet who raised a dead child back to life (I Kings 17:17-24)….

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Fruitful DiscipleI discipled my daughter this morning. Not about Jesus; about oranges. In our household these days, we are trying to eat a little healthier. After finishing her cereal this morning, my 12 yr old Hannah said “I’m still hungry.” “You can have an orange,” I said. “OK…”( I could see the disappointment); “but I want to peel it,” she said. She tried. She couldn’t. I offered. She accepted.

However, here’s what I told my daughter: “Hannah, today I’ll show you how to peel it. Tomorrow, though, I want you to give it a try. you can give it a shot and I’ll watch; after that, you should be a professional orange peeler.” “OK,” she said. She smiled. I did, too. A “healthy” disciple is in process!

Every day, you and I are to be about making disciples. Not of oranges; of Jesus! Healthy disciples of Jesus! Fruit-bearing disciples! We are to be helping people know Jesus; look like Jesus; serve Him; and share Him. Spiritual leadership is healthy discipleship. Just like orange peeling, however, the healthiest discipleship looks like this:

TimeI know an hour seems like a long time to pray.

There are many patterns you could use to format your extended prayer time but here’s away to structure an hour in prayer with 12 Bible-based sections.  Spend about 5 minutes on each focus point and you will spend an hour in prayer before you know it.

  1. Praise God for His Traits — The Psalms are an excellent source for mining a list of the Lord’s attributes.
  2. Waiting in God’s Presence as He Loves You — Silently invite Jesus to help you experience his love for you.
  3. Confession — Ask the Holy Spirit to search your life for some attitude or action he wants to change.
  4. Read the Bible — Read a passage aloud.  The Bible’s message is meant  to be heard.
  5. Pray the Bible — Reword the verses you just read to make them a prayer.
  6. Pray for Others — Jesus in interceding for us in heaven.  Join him in this holy work.
  7. Pray for Your Needs — Present your requests to your loving Heavenly Father.
  8. Thank God — Recount all his…

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“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22 NIV)

Near my house is a gas station/convenience store that just underwent a makeover, changing their utilitarian look into a warm and inviting neighborhood haven, something like a coffee bar with gas pumps.

When I walked into the place, however, it appeared the employees missed the makeover memo. The kid behind the counter wore a new uniform that matched the new look, but he still wore the same sullen expression from before, perhaps a little bored and a bit put out that an actual customer had walked in to disturb him.

It made me think about how we try to put new wine into old wineskins. Jesus says we’re doomed to failure because “the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined” (Mark 2:22 NIV).

For you to become the person God wants you to be in 2012, you will have to abandon the old wineskins in your life so that God…

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How ironic that the season during which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus provides us the perfect excuse to overindulge.

Like the megalopolis that now stretches from Washington to Boston or from Dallas to Fort Worth, this eating holiday dominates our calendar from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Walk through any modern large-box store, and study the edibles they’re offering during this season. It’s not just turkey, dressing, yams and eggnog any longer. It’s chocolates like you would not believe, in every kind of assortment and combination. It’s cookies, cakes and pies coming out your ears.

Books pour off the shelves telling homemakers of new recipes for the latest taste sensations for these holidays. Restaurants offer special smorgasbords for the holidays with prices approaching $100 per person.

What position should the disciple of the Lord Jesus take regarding this little crime-against-one’s-body we call gluttony?

Here are 10 thoughts on this subject that the people in our pews have never heard a sermon about.

1. Jesus was called a glutton (Luke 7:33-35). So, maybe we overeaters have good company. However, I expect that the charge was as bogus as most of the attacks on…

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New Years ResolutionsFor I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? You remember that list you made with two scoops of optimistic enthusiasm, sprinkled with unrealistic expectations, and topped with the cherry of knowing the list isn’t serious anyway.

One of my friends started making New Year’s resolutions like:

  • I won’t lose ten pounds this year.
  • I commit to watching the Super Bowl this year.
  • I will listen to my iPod at least four days a week.

But there is one guy who I suspect played for keeps when he made New Year’s resolutions. You know, the zealot who could never do anything halfway, the let’s-get-real-about-our-faith apostle, Saul-Paul.

My thought is Paul only had one resolution on his New Year’s list: “This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone. What does this mean?

  • It’s not Christ plus your good behavior.
  • It’s not Christ plus the years you taught a Bible study.
  • It’s not Christ plus your tithe.
  • It’s not Christ plus the…

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Out with the Old In with the NewAs pastors we live with the constant tension between the ideal (our dream for our church) and the real (how things actually are). Here are 10 key points I want you to remember this coming year —

1. Ministry is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. It’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish the race. Sustainability counts more than speed. Don’t give up! Paul tells us to run the race for a “heavenly reward that never disappears” (1 Cor. 9:25). Live with your eyes on eternity.

2. Every church is large is God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a small or insignificant church. Jesus died for your church. That’s how much your ministry matters to God. It is the Body and Bride of Christ. The church is the only thing on earth that will last forever.

3. There is no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can big and flabby just as a church can be small and wimpy. Neither big nor small is better. Healthy is betterStrong is…

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Trust“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10a (NIV)

How you spend your money says a lot about how much you can be trusted spiritually. That’s what Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much.” This is the Principle of Trust, the third financial principle from this often misunderstood parable.

God will give us more and more trust based on how we use what God has put into our lives. Luke 16:11 says, “If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?” That’s God’s basic way of looking at this. Your checkbook is a barometer of your heart.

One biographer of the Duke of Wellington diligently went through a lot of research, reports, and stories about the Duke’s life. But in the end he wrote, “I finally found an old ledger account of how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he really thought was important than the reading of all of his letters or speeches.”…

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Christmas: God Loves Us

By Rick Warren

Immanuel: God With Us“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

God loves you so much that he sent Jesus on a mission of love with a message of love. Christmas is a yearly reminder that God loves you. The Bible says God is love. It doesn’t say God has love; it says God is love. Love is his nature; God is love.

God created the entire universe. He created this planet; he created the human race; then, he created you because he loves you.

It could be said the reason you’re alive is because God created you as an object of his love. God made you so he could love you and so that you could love him. God’s love for you is the reason your heart is beating right now; it’s the reason you’re breathing.

God’s good news is that he loves you on your good days as much as he loves you on your bad days. He loves you when you can feel his…

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