You probably already know this, but maybe you don’t want to admit it, but there are times, seasons, and valleys in life when the last thing we may feel like doing is “singing unto the Lord.”
Every person walks through the door of our Church bringing in the unseen proverbial “baggage” of stuff called “life.” There are broken hearts, broken bodies, broken homes. There are broken relationships, broken finances, and broken families.
You may feel like you’re just hanging by a thread and you put your best face on and hope that nobody asks you,” how are you doing?” This happens more often than we realize. As you slink into your chair, the warm and friendly worship leader greets you and the band begins to launch into their upbeat hand-clapping rendition of “Hosanna” and the last thing on your mind is “singing unto the Lord.”
If that’s you my brother or sister, may I put my arm around you and say, “That’s OK…Jesus knows what you are going through.” That is why He is called, “Emmanuel,” literally, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Church is not a place for the perfect person; there is no one who is perfect. It is a hospital where the wounded, weak, and weary come to gather, sing, eat of spiritual food, celebrate, and worship a God who lived, died, and rose again for them and their sins. It is a hospital where Dr. Jesus as the great Physician has the perfect prescription for the ailments of our hearts.
If you had a rough week, month, or life…if you are battling fears within and without…if you are fighting the black dog of discouragement, depression, or doubt, may I propose one medicine, one mercy, that may be the remedy and break through that you need as we gather together.
I dare you and I declare to you that what you need to do is SING!Read more ...
Have you ever built anything with your hands? Making things is intrinsically messy. Whether it’s your favorite meal in the kitchen or something you build in the garage, you always end up with a mess on your hands that you have to clean up. True discipleship is like making things—it’s making people for God—and it’s messy. When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” He definitely knew it was going to take time, and be messy. Jesus Himself had spent years investing into a small crew of guys—teaching them all He knew, and showing them the way to true life. It is a simple command that Jesus gave us, yet extremely difficult. True gospel-centered discipleship not only produces difficult personal transformation in the people we are discipling; it also produces difficult personal transformation in our own hearts. The primary purpose in life for every disciple of Jesus couldn’t be any clearer in the Bible—to disciple others.
We should all have people in our lives who are discipling us, and we should all embrace our chief purpose by eventually looking for other people we can disciple. This isn’t just a job for pastors. Lately there’s been a lot of talk about spiritual formation and discipleship, and rightfully so. I think we can all agree there’s a discipleship deficit in the Church. Perhaps the elephant in the room is that there isn’t a whole lot of discipling going on, even though that’s precisely what we, as Jesus’ followers, were commissioned to do.
What should we do? and How should we do it? How can we best make disciples right where we are? When we look to Scripture to find out what God says about discipleship, we can come up with these 4 broad principles:
Maturity is a goal for disciples.
God wants you and your church on a clear path toward spiritual growth.
God involves us in our own growth, as well as our church’s growth.
God calls you and your church to be spiritual leaders.
We need to recognize that maturity is the goal of discipleship. Keeping people spiritually immature is never a stated goal, but we seem to be achieving it. Part of the problem is in the way we sometimes see the maturing process. We should not treat depth and maturity as an enemy. Being deep in the faith is not about being full of obscure details. Being spiritually mature does not mean you have graduated out of the daily grind of faith, grace, and mercy in a fallen world. True spiritual depth is about understanding the Word of God and living out its truths. That should be the goal for all of us.
I’m sure there are some who are afraid of maturing too much, to a point where there’s a chasm between them and the lost. We always want to communicate at a level that is accessible to those outside the church, but that doesn’t mean we should remain immature or shallow for the sake of connectivity. If we have low expectations for discipleship, we will end up with churches that are an inch deep and a mile wide. Our task is to keep things simple without engaging in “relativism,” which is when we make something so simple it loses its essential value.
Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” This isn’t about what we know about the Bible; it is about becoming complete disciples. So our challenge is to keep the communication simple while not passing on a watered down approach to the gospel. It is a balancing act for sure—but more than a balancing act. It is only through depth and maturity that we will truly find better methods for communicating the gospel. A truly deep experience will not move us away from the ones we are trying to reach. It will move us toward them. We can’t be too deep in the faith, but we can be too shallow. God will not bless shallowness when a deeper walk is available. An elementary approach will not produce mature disciples.