Archives For Discipleship

BibleOur church is one of over 4,500 that are participating in the 40 Days in the Word campaign. One reason I believe this campaign to spend 40 days focused on God’s word is both timely and needed is because America has a Biblical illiteracy problem.

In the land of the Gideon’s, people aren’t getting the Good Book, but it’s not lack of Bibles that has caused the problem. It could be that there is just too much saturation.

The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year. 

-Daniel Radosh

25 million bibles are sold annually in the US or if that number sounds too obscure think about it like this: 6 bibles are sold for every 1 baby born in the US each year. 91% of American households own at least 1 Bible and the average number of bibles per household is 4. It has been estimated that we spend over half a billion dollars every year on Bibles in the US alone. Perhaps the Bible has simply become too common. Yet all…

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WorryWhat’s going to happen to me? How will I make it? What will I do about this?

Why do we worry? It seems to come so natural. We worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow or even next month. We worry about what others think. It seems that there is always something to worry about.

Yet worry accomplishes nothing.

But we still do it! Even Christians do it, and we clearly should not.

How do you stop worrying? Here’s the key: When you start to worry,  you need to take steps to stop. Here are 10 ways to help you kill worry before it gets a life:

1. Jesus said not to worry. If we are truly Christians, then we obey Jesus. Consider it like your father giving you direction to do something. You simply obey.

2. Focus on solutions. Instead of worrying about something, take action. Of course some things that you might worry about are completely out of your control, but if you can take positive steps to alleviate you worry, do so. For example, are you worried about a job interview? Then prepare more. Research the company and do practice interviews.

3. Pray. This might seem too…

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Luke Harper is a eighteen-year-old student who just graduated from high school as a published author. Luke authored Josiah Road with his dad as a part of an effort to call students to stand, influence, and lead. The study was inspired by principles gleaned from the biblical account of King Josiah (2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 34). All the royalties from the sale of the Josiah Road resources will go into a student leadership scholarship fund, which will be used to equip and train students in the area of leadership.

I know Luke (and his dad as well), and I was excited to be able to interview him for the blog. I always like the opportunity to introduce new and young leaders. Josiah Road releases today, and is a great resource for students.

Ed Stetzer: How did the idea for the project get started?

Luke Harper: Throughout the years, my dad and I have been studying different characters in the Bible. When we started studying the life of Josiah, I realized it is a story many students have never read. I believe it’s a story that every student needs…

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WorldYou will find suggestions for praying around the globe listed below.  There’s a short list for each day of the week.  Pour a mug of your favorite java and let’s start praying.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunday: Your Church

  • Invite the Holy Spirit to meet with our church
  • Trust God to speak to you and to bless you through your pastor
  • Praise the Lord for all those who labor to reach the lost and to empower the saints

Monday: Your Family and Sphere of Influence

  • Intercede for your family members’ needs and concerns
  • Claim salvation for those who don’t know Christ yet
  • Pray for three people with in your sphere of influence
  • Thank the Lord for working in your family

Tuesday: Unity in the Body of Christ

  • Pray through John 17 for the churches in our community
  • Ask God to bring healing to relationships and between the races in our churches
  • Glorify Jesus for bringing unity

Wednesday: Regional Evangelism

  • Pray for the intercultural ministries and church planters in our nation
  • Ask God…

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The F WordLast year J.R. Briggs and a team of others launched the Epic Fail Pastor’s Conference.  Realizing the need to deal with our failings and woundings in ministry in a healthy, non-perfect environment the conference allowed pastors (and recovering pastors) the opportunity to be honest, vulnerable, and hopeful with one another, themselves, and the Holy Spirit.  I asked J.R. to share a little of the story behind the conference with us.  Read through to the end to see how you can go for free.

I’m convinced God seems to do his best stuff in the midst of the messes.

As pastors, we’ve probably preached on this, encouraged others in this and seen it happen in the lives of people in our churches. But have we ever actually acknowledged our own messes and had the courage to work through that head-on?

A few years ago, I had an epiphany – or, so I thought. The epiphany was this: I fear failure. But the more I sat with that – and processed this further with a counselor – the more I realized I was wrong. What I feared was rejection. But…

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Palpable, conquerable fear

By Ben Reed

Fearless

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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Wineskins

“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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