Monday, April 21, 2014

Are you a Christian or a Disciple?

WARNING: God's Word has been known to be offensive to those living outside of God's perfect Will.  Read to your own edification!

QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS

Do you call yourself a Christian?

Why?

Does Jesus tell you anywhere in Scripture to "Go out and become a Christian"?

Did you know that the word "Christian" can be found only 3 times in the whole Bible...?

And 2 of those times, it's used in a discussion surrounding suffering or death!

Yet many of you will use that "title" alone in order to describe yourself.  Something that you either deem as a badge of honor, inferring your rebelliousness to the world at large or simply just to show people how "good" or "righteous" you are...

But I'm here to tell you today, that Jesus Himself was more concerned about DISCIPLESHIP than He ever was about you attending church, joining a religion or making up or following your own ways and practices, thanks to what the United States calls "Religious Freedom".

John 8:31 - Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed."

John 13:35 - "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:8 - "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

Jesus wants more than anything, for you to desire to be His Disciple.  He won't make you, force you or coerce you into doing so.  God says that once you accept the fact that only the Blood of Jesus can wash away your sins and make you perfect in the eyes of God, that He will give you a NEW HEART!

Ezekiel 36:26 - I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you...

Psalms 51:9-13 - Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.

But what does Jesus instruct us to do with that New Heart?

Matthew 28:19 - "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."

The verse above is referred to as "The Great Commission".  It's the single biggest thing that Jesus called for His Elect to do.  He didn't tell us to "go into all the world and make Christians", He didn't tell us to "go into all the world and extort money from people, by way of tithing, in order to open up a new church" either.  He also didn't call us to "Stay home, watch TV, go to movies and wait for His impending arrival... someday".

Jesus says that if you TRULY HAVE a changed heart, that you will place all of your faith and trust in Him alone and in doing so, that you will love and respect Him more and more each day, with that love FOR HIM continuing to grow within you DAILY!

How do I know this?

I know this, because Jesus made it crystal clear for us...

Allow me to help clarify it here for you...

Luke 14:25-34 - Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it --- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish'?

Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.

So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Before you can "make disciples of all nations", you yourself need to be HIS DISCIPLE FIRST!  But Jesus, who knows our pride and foolishness wanted to help us to understand WHO His disciples really are.

In those verses from Luke 14, Jesus says that in comparison to how much you love your family, friends and your own life, it should be as if you hated them in comparison to how much you love Him.  He says that if you don't love Him more than them, then you CAN NOT BE His Disciple.

He then goes on to tell you that as His disciple, you too will have your own cross to bear!  You may not be nailed to a cross, but going into all the world, in order to make disciples of all nations will probably get you into a lot of trouble.  The two analogies that Jesus next gives you, are to help you recognize that you had better count the cost BEFORE you decide to follow Him.  He says that if you can't (or are not willing to) bear that cross, then you CAN NOT BE His Disciple.

Finally Jesus wraps up with His last warning.  He says that if you are not willing to leave your old life behind, then you CAN NOT BE His Disciple.

So I would ask you this follow up question...

You don't call yourself a Disciple of Jesus Christ, do you?

Why not?

SilverWorks Ministries can help...
Please visit us on the web @ http://www.ButIsItBiblical.com

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pastoral Self Importance - STOP IT!

As a Discipleship Minister, I'm often placed in a position where I need to reach out to local churches, in order to help create a smooth transition from my care as a Shepherd, over to a long-term Shepherd.  At any given time, I have between 5 and 25 people from around the world who seek out my guidance on discipleship.  Once I get people to a certain point, I encourage them to find a local church to get additional fellowship.

To date, I've had ZERO PERCENT SUCCESS at accomplishing what should be a ridiculously simple task...

WHY?
Good question!

I blame the Pastors for this problem.  All Pastors?  Probably not, but out of all the Pastors that I've encountered, I've been unsuccessful at EVER getting past their secretaries!  And let me be clear....  Most of the churches I've contacted are SMALL...  Every now and then I contact a larger one too, but so far the situation has been pretty much the same...

Oh Pastor Keith, our Pastor X would love to speak with each and every member of our church, but it's just not possible.  What-with outreach and sermon prep and hospital visits and baby dedications and funerals and bingo to prepare for, there's just no time!  He does make himself available after every Sunday service in order to shake everybody's hands though!  Isn't he the greatest?!

REALLY?

Let me get this straight...  The secretary is tasked with telling SHEEP (and other Shepherds) that the Shepherd is TOO BUSY FOR THEM?  How on earth is the Shepherd too busy for the SHEEP?  Is this some kind of sick joke? IS THAT THE MODEL CHRIST GAVE US TO FOLLOW?!

Is there Biblical support for this insanity?  Something in the "book of Pomposity" that states, "Hire thyself a secretary in order to prevent the sheep from contacting you.  Only then shall thou be able to fleece thy flock!"?

I'm raving mad about this... RAVING!

I told another Minister (who's a friend of mine) to SMACK ME if I EVER make myself unavailable!
AND I MEANT IT!

I told him that God forbid that I should ever make myself so self important, that he should smack me as hard as he could in order to snap me out of it.  God forbid I say, God forbid...

Proverbs 30:32-33 - If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, Or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth. For as the churning of milk produces butter, And wringing the nose produces blood, So the forcing of wrath produces strife.