Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thinking about discipleship

When I first began my walk with Christ I was fortunate to have a man offer to disciple me. I admired Ken for many reasons at the time (and more today) and he has been there for the major milestones in my walk with God. I can still pick up the phone any day or time and he's there. But there has been some distance (geographical) in the past several years and that has taken a toll on our ability to interact as frequently as I would like.

I was talking to our highschool student pastor (Brian) the other day about discipling and being discipled. Over the past several weeks or even months I've really been desiring for God to build another mentor relationship in my life. There have been several times lately that I'll meet with someone older (both in the faith and in years) for fellowship...I think part of me hoped that each of these "meetings" might be the beginning of a new opportunity to receive some good discipling. But to my surprise, it's been me challenging them.

Now I don't say that to build up my (or anyone else's) image of me. I say that to voice the frustration that I'm feeling. I know, I's a blessing to be able to challenge someone else and see them start to ask questions and dig for themselves. And I'm not trying to discount the value and blessing in that. As I write these thoughts out I wonder if I'm just being selfish. Anyway, during my visit with Brian I got the number for a man named Mark at our church who helps in connecting mentor/mentee relationships. Here's the funny thing. I honestly expected to contact Mark, give him my name and vitals and have him introduce me to someone that I would click he's running some kinda' spiritual EHarmony ministry or something.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) Mark said what I knew to be true from trying to coordinate this in our last church. You simply cannot manufacture true, Spirit ordained mentor relationships. Anticlimactic huh? But he's right and I new that before I ever spoke to him. I'm not really sure what's next. I know all the standard answers, pray, fast, go to church functions and build relationships...I wasn't looking for my friendship with Ken when it began, God just did it.

So I'm not really sure there's a point to this post, other than the fact that I've been thinking about discipleship.


So it's not a new direction

I was just re-reading my posts and got to the first one about a new I'm not sure why I deleted the old blog. I still have many of the same questions and issues to think and write through. My faith is the core of who I am and this is just one part of the process of growing and maturing. I suppose this is a disclaimer of sorts. Not that I plan on becoming overly harsh or slanderous...I just plan to be very candid about who I am and where I am in my walk with The Lord and His call on my life to serve Him. Whatever that means.

I'm posting this today because I've come to the realization that I still have issues. If you know me this is no big surprise! I can hear my sis-in-law laughing out, "No kidding!?".

So I guess this is sort of a do over on the idea of a new direction. I'll finish the old direction and then move on from there. Hopefully!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Truth in relationship

Alan over at Assembling of the Church posted an excellent article entitled, Running from God.

I didn't grow up in church, but several years in ministry have taught me many of the same lessons about church that the young man in Alan's blog learned.

I particularly identify with this thought-"He was taught that questioning his leaders was the same as questioning God, and disagreeing with his leaders was the same as rebelling against God."

On Wednesday I spoke to a lady from the church we (Heather and I) helped start a few years ago. She was sharing with me about some struggles she's been having in her personal life and her relationship with a family member. During the course of our conversation, she said that she would never question God regarding her life circumstances. Yet, she was okay with telling me how she really felt. As we talked I began to see that for her, to ask God "why" would be unthinkable, as if questioning Him would invoke His wrath against her.

Where does this concept come from? To some degree I believe the church is to blame. During my time in this particular church I had many people come to me asking tough questions about leadership and the direction of the church. But none of these folks ever approached the pastor. I thought that was silly...until I started asking him questions. I wasn't badgering him, just asking the same basic questions the people had been asking me because I really didn't have any good explanations for their concerns. Apparently I was rather naive in my willingness to ask the questions because that's when the honeymoon ended.

I'm not looking to go into every aspect of that though. My point is this. If the leadership of your church isn't open to being questioned or simply asked why we do X,Y or Z. My question is, why?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sacrifice for what's real

Matthew 11:2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?"

I remember when I first sensed a call to ministry. One of the first times I prayed about it I remember distinctly telling God that IF He was calling me to ministry, I wanted it to be radical ministry…the last thing the world needs is “just another church”. I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was asking for. But I think my desire was to be a part of something real, something honest, something true to God’s word, and something that is life changing…a place where real live testimonies of God’s grace and miraculous power worship Him in Spirit and in truth. A church that would be a lighthouse to the community in which God placed it…not because of the steeple, the marquee out front, the facility or the programs, but because the lives of people in that community were impacted and changed by God through His Church.

I would sacrifice much for a church like that. I think John is saying the same thing…”Hey, I’m about to lay it all out here…You are the real One right?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 6 "And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."

It’s interesting that Jesus answers with scripture but He also tells the disciples to tell John what they themselves have seen and heard. I want to be a part of a church that is firmly grounded in the word of God with a knowledge of the scriptures and discipleship at its core. But that alone is not adequate. I’m not interested in a simply cognitive faith, and that alone will not sell to the next generation or radically change lives either. While it’s vital that we be grounded by the word of God, we must live out His word experientially day by day. Otherwise the bible is just a history book of what God did...not what He does. I would sacrifice much for a church like that, but I’m not interested in just another church…been there, done that.