5 Ways A Disciple-Making Attitude Changes Everyday Life

At New Life Church we highlight the fact that our main mission as followers of Jesus Christ is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Our mission is to make disciples who make disciples. What would it look like in everyday life if we were seeking to make disciples of Jesus Christ? How would it impact the way we live if we took the Great Commission seriously? Here are 5 ways a disciple making attitude changes everyday life. 

  1. When you attend Sunday morning worship (or other church events) you have your spiritual eyes open for how you can connect with other people relationally and help them grow in their faith. For example, as you gather with your church to worship you are not there just for your own spiritual good. You make it a habit to reach out to others and show them the love that Jesus Christ has shown to you. You begin going to retreats, socials, events so that you can be a blessing to others. It is more about others than it is about you. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3
  2. You no longer see the workplace as a secular environment, or something that is outside of your Christian calling. Jesus is Lord over everything and that includes where you work and go to school. It does not mean that you are walking around thumping people on the head with your Bible. Instead it means you are open to the idea that God wants to bring people into your life at work so that you can build a relationship with them and point them to Christ.
  3. You understand that God has called you to your neighborhood to be a disciple maker. The one thing your neighbor needs more than anything else is to know the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Do we think it is a mere coincidence that we live where we live? We are there (our home address) first and foremost as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
  4. You are less bored with everyday life in general because you realize that God is calling you to follow him in the middle of it. When everyday life becomes your mission field you realize that God is always at work and he is calling you to join him in the work that he is doing.
  5. You will have an friends who are not Christians. On another blog post I wrote this line, “I think the greatest weakness in the American church today is that we are not good at being a friend to sinners.” You can find that post HERE. It is so easy for us (I am including myself in this) to become isolated from those who are lost and need to know Christ. One way to measure how much we are motivated by the Great Commission is to think about how many friendships we have we people who do not yet know Christ.

If we took the Great Commission seriously it would have a powerful impact on the way we live everyday life. If you can think of other ways a disciple-making attitude would change a person’s life I would love to hear from you.

It’s A Wonderful Life

Our city’s newspaper, The Public Opinion, will publish the article below today (Dec 26, 2019). I thought I would go ahead and share it with you here on my blog. The newspaper has a limit, as you might imagine, regarding the length of the article. So, it’s a quick read!

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One of my favorite Christmas movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It might surprise you to know that it was put on the official list of the greatest movies of all-time. Chances are pretty good that most of you have seen the movie, but allow me to briefly summarize the story-line. George Bailey (played by James Stewart) lives in Bedford Falls, NY. On Christmas Eve George is considering suicide. George has lived a good and moral life. He has made many sacrifices for the well-being of his family and for the city that he lives in. But he can’t help but think that he is missing out on something. He longs to travel, see the world, and to go on an adventure. He feels deeply unhappy with his family, job, and his seemingly insignificant life. God intervenes and sends an angel by the name of Clarence. Clarence shows George what life would have been like if he had never lived. Through this process George realizes all that he has to be grateful for and he becomes a truly changed man. Let me be clear about this, I love this movie. I can’t watch the movie without something getting in my eye. OK, fine, the movie makes me cry. But, each time I watch the movie I realize that something really important is missing.

When George is given the vision of what life would be like if he had never lived he becomes grateful for all that he has. The problem is that his job, family, and even his life, are all things that can be lost. If George anchors his deepest sense of hope, contentment, and satisfaction in these temporal things he will find that his joy is like a mere vapor that easily dissipates when trials and suffering enters his life. Discovering that life does not meet our expectations can lead us into some dark places, just like it did for George Bailey. Our job, family, health are huge blessings from God and we should be grateful for them. But there is only one place to turn to if we want to find true, eternal joy, and his name is Jesus Christ.

If you and I were to slow down this Christmas season, we would find beneath all of our busyness and activity that we have a heart that is desperately searching for happiness. Maybe you, even among all the holiday festivities, are realizing that what you once thought would make you happy is not delivering as you had hoped. The sobering reality is that there is nothing on this earth that can fill the hole in our heart. St. Augustine wrote these words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” In John 14:26 Jesus says something really bold, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” My prayer for everyone who lives in Watertown, and everyone who is reading this article, is that you find the “life” that is only experienced and enjoyed by having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas! (END OF ARTICLE)

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Watching the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, reminds me of the city that I live in (Watertown, SD). I dearly love this city and the people who live in it. If you want to read a few books that gives you a greater appreciation for the small city I would like to recommend the following:

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (just got this for Christmas)

A Big Gospel for Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters by Stephen Witmer

 

Hosea: The Covenant Love of God (Part 1)

I began a six week sermon series on the book of Hosea this past Sunday. I will be sharing thoughts on the book of Hosea with six different blog posts. Here is Part 1: The Covenant Love of God.

Hosea 1:1-11

1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. 2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, j“Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People,2 for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And sin the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Historical background

  • Author: Hosea (perhaps had a scribe help him)
  • Date: Approximately 750 BC
  • State of affairs for Israel at the time of Hosea:
    • Hosea ministered about 200 years after the division of Israel. The divide tookdivided_kingdom_of_israel_and_judah1 place approximately 930 BC and it was a division between north and south Israel. The ten northern tribes made up Israel or sometimes called Ephraim. The two southern tribes were Judah and Benjamin and they formed the nation of Judah.
    • Hosea’s ministry took place when the northern kingdom of Israel was once again prospering and doing very well economically. The problem was that they were far from God. The people were focused on their money, their comforts, and they became very immoral. Does it sound like another country that you know of?
  • In order to understand the book of Hosea it is important to understand that Israel was in a covenant relationship with God. In Exodus 19:5 we read this, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.”

Main Points

We are in grave danger of forgetting that we are part of a divine love story

There is a danger that we face today. We can study and jump from bible study to bible study and actually forget that our Christian faith is all about a love story. God has gone to great lengths to be in a personal, intimate relationship with us. He wants much more than for us to be learning about him, he wants us to grow when it comes to experiencing and loving him.

Did God really tell Hosea, a prophet, to marry an immoral woman?

In verse 2 God makes it really clear, Hosea is to marry a whore to be his wife. It is meant to be shocking! It is meant to make us sit up and wonder ‘what in the world is going on?’ There is no doubt that Gomer was a sexually immoral woman before she married Hosea. She might have even served as a temple prostitute in a local cult religion. So the answer is, yes, God did command his prophet, Hosea, to marry an immoral woman.

What was the point of telling Hosea to marry Gomer?

Hosea 1:2 gives us the reason God tells Hosea to marry Gomer. “…for the land commits whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” God is using the marriage between Hosea and Gomer to reveal that Israel had committed spiritual adultery against him. God’s people were being unfaithful regarding their covenant relationship with God. What do we learn from this?

1- God is revealing that there are consequences for our sin. This is not a popular teaching in our enlightened, progressive culture today. Hosea and Gomer have three children and they are given very strange names (Jezreel=judgment, Lo-Ruhamah=no mercy and Lo-Ammi=not my people). What God is doing through the naming of these three children is telling the nation of Israel, telling you and me, that to continue in sin will bring pain and suffering. God was warning his people but they would not repent. 30 years after these three children were born God raised up the violent nation of Assyria to bring absolute devastation to the people of Israel.

2- Certainly we learn that God’s heart is absolutely broken over the fact that his people pursue other lovers. Think for a moment how you would feel if your spouse was continually unfaithful to you?

3- We also learn that God’s love knows no boundaries. Hosea in many ways reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in the gospels. The younger son has left his father and lives a blatantly rebellious, immoral life. Yet at the end of the story we find that the father is running towards his son because his great grace and love. This gives us sinners great hope to know that we are loved like this. Plus, it motivates us to love people like Gomer in our everyday life. We love the misfits and sinners in our culture because we too have received God’s amazing grace.

We are Gomer

We might be tempted to shake our head at Gomer and secretly wonder how she could be so immoral. If that is as far as we get when it comes to thinking about Gomer we have missed the point of the story. In this story Hosea represents Jesus and Gomer represents the church (you and me). Go ahead and say it, ‘I am Gomer’. I know it is true in my life. In a million different ways I pursue other priorities, passions, and make God second in my life. Spiritual adultery is something we are all guilty of. Spiritual adultery is not just something we do or an act that we commit. First and foremost spiritual adultery happens when we love something, or someone, more than we love Christ.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you talk about?
  • What do you think about the most?
  • What are you known for by the people that know you best?
  • What worries you or makes you anxious?

The answers to these questions may go a long way revealing false loves (idols) in our life.

A better love is available to us

This chapter ends with good news. In verse 11 we read this, “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered  together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”

Hosea is prophesying that there will be ‘one head’ in the future. This is a reference to the fact that Jesus Christ will one day, approximately 750 years later, arrive on earth. Jesus, our Messiah, was prophesied of old and one of his many names was Immanuel (God is with us). Jesus is the fulfillment of these two verses, and Jesus is the one to whom you and I can have a deep, intimate, loving relationship.

*The video and sermon outline came from Irving Bible Church. The sermon(s) I preach are mine!

My Testimony (Pleasure, Grace and My Parent’s Oldsmobile)

As I slowly crawled out of the car I realized that it was upside down, the top had been pushed dangerously close to my head, the windows had all been busted out and I was in serious trouble. I clearly needed to redirect my pursuit of pleasure.

michael1 (2)

Let’s go back in time for a moment. I was nine years old and was living in Needles, California. I believe it was a Sunday night and my dad was preaching a sermon and it included descriptive information about the realities of hell. We were Baptist after-all. Even at the age of nine I knew that spending eternity with God sounded like a much better deal than an eternity in hell. So, I gave my life to the Lord and was soon baptized. But, like many PKs, my spiritual life during the days of my youth were a bit of a roller-coaster. Things changed dramatically when I turned 18. I developed a friendship with a guy who owned a Camaro and who liked to drink…a lot. (I googled this old friend a few months ago and discovered that there is currently a warrant out for his arrest. Not kidding.)

What I quickly learned about myself is that I loved to party but with 3 times the energy and enthusiasm as everyone else. The picture above is an actual photo of what I did to my parent’s car after a night of “hanging out with friends”, which is code for having way too much to drink.

After leaving the party I vaguely recall driving on I-17 in Phoenix, I think I was falling asleep (passing out) and began to sense that I was about to run into the back of a car in front of me. I pulled the steering wheel sharply to the left, rolled the car off of the interstate and down an embankment. When I eventually stumbled out of the upside down car there were already several police officers waiting for me.

interstate-17

The whole thing leaves me with four thoughts…

The Oldsmobile is a vivid picture of what the evil one wants to do through our pursuit of pleasure.  The devil, I believe, wanted me dead. Isn’t this what sin always does? Kill? I think, we think, that the next drink, job, house, purchase, achievement, relationship, touchdown that our kid scores, vacation will satisfy us but it never does. Is there anything you are pursuing these days that, if you were honest, is slowly killing your soul and leaving you feeling less alive?

God’s grace is written all over my life. How did I get out of that wreck with one small scratch? Without wearing a seat belt? I can only attribute it to the grace and mercy of God. I frequently think back to the accident in the Oldsmobile and thank God for sparing my life. Whatever your struggle might be, God’s grace is always available to you.

I am still a pleasure junky but God is the only One who truly satisfies. Prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. I would like to say that because of the car accident I have safely concluded that this world and it’s temptations are dead to me. I would like to say it but it would be an enormous lie. All of us are hedonists who end up wasting precious time looking for happiness in the wrong places.

Finding true pleasure is a matter of life or death because the spiritual well-being of our soul is at stake. One sign that we are growing as Christians is that we are living and obeying God based more out of a sense of delight then duty. Which describes your reasons for obedience these days? Delight or duty? This battle of finding pleasure in Christ is going on in my soul every moment of every day. But this I do believe to be true, and this is what I cling to; Jesus is the only One who brings true, lasting pleasure that never disappoints.

Finding pleasure in the things of this world is not wrong in itself. In fact, God has made this world for us to enjoy.  “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” -1 Timothy 4:4. The problem is when we seek ultimate satisfaction from the world and fail to remember that God, and not his gifts, are to be worshipped.

You may wonder, why share any of this in the first place? I deeply wrestle with that question. Motives are always a murky thing to sort out. I guess this is my best explanation. I don’t think we help our family, church, friends, or the world when we pretend as if we are not sinners saved by the grace of God. I know for certain that everyone I encounter on a day-to-day basis is fighting a spiritual battle and instead of putting up a false image of “having it all together” one of the best things I can do is to say, “yep, me too.” Perhaps if I, if we all, take down the veneer of super-spirituality it will free others to do likewise. I believe God is honored when we openly admit our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30) and boast in His righteousness, grace and goodness.

Although the pursuit of pleasure is a daily, slug it out, spiritual battle I am glad to know that our God not only wants us to be good and moral but also to be as joyful as possible. A joy that is only possible as we go deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

You can read more HERE about what I am up to these days.

It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -CS Lewis

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! -Psalm 34:8

Reclaiming America For Christ

One of the primary arguments that I want to make in this brief article is that Christians in America have relied too much on politics to change the world when in fact our focus should be on the good news of Jesus Christ. How did we get to this point?

Brief history of the Moral Majority

falwell and ronald reaganThe Moral Majority was started in 1979 by Jerry Falwell, a Southern Baptist pastor, who worked to unite other conservative evangelicals to address what they saw as the problems in American society.

There were lots of things going on in American culture in the 70s and 80s that led to the formation of the Moral Majority. Abortion, gay rights, sexual immorality, humanism in the public schools, liberal Supreme Court rulings, etc.

But could there be more behind what really got the Moral Majority started in the first place?  You can go HERE to read some other theories as to what inspired the Moral Majority to move into action in the first place.

Getting involved in politics is a good thing

On a personal note, I want to say that I strongly believe that it is good for Christians to be very involved in the political world. One of my heroes is William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a British politician who worked zealously to end the slave trade that was prominent in his day. In order for Christians to live as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) they must engage the world they live in rather than retreat or withdraw.

So what was the problem with the Moral Majority?

Paul Michael Weyrich, co-founder of the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, wrote these words, “When political power is achieved, the moral majority will have the opportunity to re-create this great nation.” Re-create the nation? Really? Does anyone today really think that our nation has been “re-created”? Ed Dobson who co-authored the book, “Blinded By Might: Can The Religious Right Save America?” wrote these words as he pondered the impact his time working for the Moral Majority had in American culture:

Did the Moral Majority really make a difference? During the height of the Moral Majority, we were taking in millions of dollars a year. We published a magazine, organized state chapters, lobbied Congress, aired a radio program, and more. Did it work? Is the moral condition of America better because of our efforts? Even a casual observation of the current moral climate suggests that despite all the time, money and energy-despite the political power-we failed. Things have not gotten better; they have gotten worse.

What are the unintended consequences of making an idol of politics?

One of the unintended consequences for being so involved in the world of politics, and losing sight of the power of the gospel, is that Christians have become known more for their political ideology than they are for mercy, compassion and love. Thomas Kidd puts it like this, “In short, evangelicals have gone from being known as born again Christians, to being known as religious Republicans.”

But there are other consequences as well. By engaging in a culture war we have alienated the very people that need to hear the gospel story. Our angry rhetoric pushes people away from us because we have been treating them like our enemy and not the lost sheep that Jesus came to die for (Luke 15:1-7).

Is there a better way?

As Christians we should long to see the world changed and actively work towards that end. Of course what we should strive to do is evaluate the way we are living and contrast it with what we read in Scripture. What do we learn from observing the life of Jesus and the apostle Paul?

Jesus emphasized serving

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus’ disciples completely misunderstood that it meant to be a part of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 20 we see James and John come to Jesus seeking power and glory and Jesus has to redirect them and tell them that they way that the kingdom of God flourishes is when Christians seek to put others first and serve them.

Question: How are you, and your church, serving others in your neighborhood and city?

Jesus emphasized making disciples

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus spent the bulk of his ministry years making disciples who would go on and make disciples. This was Jesus’ plan for changing the world, spending time with people, helping them to become more like him, and then releasing them so that they could go and do likewise. What is our plan for changing the world? Does it look like the method that Jesus employed?

Question: Who are you discipling?

Jesus and Paul emphasized love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 13 that if there is anything that Christians should be known for it is love.

What does this love look like? Love is not winning an argument. Love is not an insulting meme that belittles our political rivals. Love has a heart filled with compassion that longs to see the lost sons and daughters of God come to know the grace of Jesus Christ.

Question: Are you known on social media, and in everyday life, for being a person of compassion and love?

The spirit of the moral majority lives on today

There is no doubt that some of the negative aspects of the Moral Majority, and the Religious Right, are alive and well today. The problem is that it is such a part of the air that we breath that we have a hard time seeing the error of our ways. The key will be for Christians today to refocus on the words, and the life, of Jesus Christ and how he worked to transform this fallen world.

Are you changing the world or fanning the flames?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you have a desire to make a difference in this world. The thing that is causing me great concern lately is that it would seem that far too many Christians are actually doing more harm than good when it comes to making the world a better place.

The best place to look when it comes to an example to follow is, of course, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this earth out of a desire to bring abundant life to a world that desperately needed it (John 10:10). So what we need to do is examine the way that Jesus spent his time. We need to carefully contemplate his methods for ushering in his kingdom and bringing lasting change.

So, how did Jesus do it? Yes, of course he lived a perfect life, died on a cross, and three days later he rose from the grave victoriously. Praise God, this is the heart of the gospel story! But Jesus has given you and I a specific mission, something that he personally modeled during his three years with his disciples.

Here it is, Jesus discipled 12 men. Yep, that was his grand plan. Jesus was super relational. He got to know people who were far from the Father and built deep, meaningful relationships with them. He prayed with them. He ate with them. He taught them the Scriptures. He loved them. He partnered with them in ministry. He taught them to go and do likewise.

Some where along the way the Great Commission has been hijacked by a culture war. Dictionary.com defines a culture war like this, “a conflict between groups with different ideals, beliefs, philosophies, etc.” Issues that we Americans are willing to fight about include abortion, climate change, claims about absolute truth, conservative vs. progressive,  LGBT rights, immigration, racism, global warming, standing or kneeling, the right to die, etc. Wikipedia points out that the phrase “culture wars” became a part of our everyday vocabulary when James Davison Hunter wrote his book in 1991 called, “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America.”

Is it possible that you are caught up in the culture war and are not even aware of it? Maybe you are not sure. What does it look like to be fighting a culture war?

  • You focus too much on winning arguments.
  • You have an unhealthy anger towards people on the other side of the political aisle and it is eating you alive.
  • You are known more for what you are against than what you are for.
  • You emphasize the passing of laws over the need for salvation.
  • You believe a post on social media is more effective than having a neighbor over for a meal.
  • You don’t pray as much as you use to.
  • You are anxious and worried instead of hopeful and optimistic.
  • You have never discipled anyone and have no plans to do so.
  • You have forgotten Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Maybe you are thinking that just a little cultural warfare can’t really be all that bad. 

So this begs a question. How in the world have we taken the command to make disciples and twisted it into fighting an angry culture war? I believe there are three primary reasons why so many Christians have gotten involved in a culture war.

hypnotized by TVFirst of all, let me say that I do not believe Christians have consciously decided that they want to minimize the Great Commission and engage in a culture war. I think it happens because it is the air that we breathe. The culture war is raging all the time on social media and in the news. Before we know it, we Christians are fighting the same way that the world fights. We are using their weapons and we are only fanning the flames of anger and outrage all around us. Tragically, we are making things worse, not better.

Second, we have lost sight of what the true solution is to our cultural problem(s). Jesus said “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (John 15:19) All of the bad behavior that we see in society today comes from the sin nature that is a part of each and everyone of us. The only thing powerful enough to change the human heart is the good news of Jesus Christ. So, when we are consumed with the culture war we are often times failing to address the main problem, the sinful heart of men and women.

Third, fighting a culture war is easy and our sin nature loves it. It is much easier to fire off an angry post on Facebook or Twitter than it is to get involved in a meaningful, personal relationship. Let’s be honest, you simply can’t follow Jesus and refuse to invest in the lives of other people. Jesus told us many times that to follow him would be costly and, quite honestly, many of us don’t want to pay the price (Luke 14:25-34).

I am not advocating for the unbiblical idea that Christians should retreat from the world and live in a holy huddle. It’s great for Christians to be involved in politics and to speak up about the issues of our day and time. Personally, I would love to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But we need to always remember that our hope is in God alone, not in the POTUS or the Supreme Court. 

Let me wrap this up by asking you what are some practical steps you can begin taking to build relationships with people in your neighborhood, workplace, school and city? It is in the context of relationships that the gospel is able to work it’s way into the deepest parts of our lives. Jesus’ plan for changing the world has not changed, disciples making disciples.

Let’s recommit to actually living the way that Jesus lived so that we can make this world a better place (instead of fanning the flames). Let’s be known for being the most relational, loving people in the world.

The Americanized Version of the Great Commission

“When the church becomes an end in itself, it ends. When Sunday school, as great as it is, becomes an end in itself, it ends. When small groups ministry becomes an end in itself, it ends. When the worship service becomes an end in itself, it ends. What we need is for discipleship to become the goal, and then the process never ends. The process is fluid. It is moving. It is active. It is a living thing. It must continue to go on. Every disciple must make disciples.”― Robby Gallaty

There is the Great Commission that we see clearly in Matthew 28:16-20 and demonstrated in the life of Jesus and his followers. Unfortunately, the American church has tried to modify the Great Commission so that it fits more comfortably into our every day life. Here are a few of the differences I see in the Great Commission in Jesus’s day and the way we try to live out the Great Commission today.

The Great Commission in Jesus’ Day

  • You know that the Great Commission is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
  • You know that deep relationships are critical to fulfilling the Great Commission.
  • You know that you must re-prioritize your life.
  • You are experiencing a sense of adventure because you are living on God’s mission.
  • You become deeply known and loved by others.
  • You are primarily thinking about meeting the needs of others.
  • You know that a disciple is someone who is making disciples.

“We reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries.”― Francis Chan

The Great Commission Today

  • You believe that the Great Commission is to attend worship services.
  • You tend to limit spiritual growth to something that happens to you personally. You fail to realize that genuine spiritual growth will be demonstrated by getting out of your comfort zone and investing in the life of others.
  • You tend to have to have too much dependence on programs (over personal relationships).
  • You don’t experience deep relationships, which means you are not deeply known by others.
  • You do not know the joy that comes from living on God’s mission because other priorities have become too important.
  • You are primarily thinking about getting your needs met.

Simply feeling bad or guilty about not making disciples is not very helpful! HERE is an excellent article that will give you some ideas about how you can begin making disciples. HERE you will find some books that talk about the Great Commission. Another way to move into a life of meaningful discipleship is to talk with someone you know personally who is living it out. Maybe it is your pastor, maybe it is a friend in the church. Ask them if they will come alongside you to help you grow as a disciple who makes disciples.

Main Takeaways From EFCA One 2019

  • We voted as a denomination to amend article 9 of our Statement of Faith. You can see below that we removed the word ‘premillennial’ from our Statement of faith and replaced it with the word ‘glorious’. The primary reason for removing the word is so that we, as a denomination, stay focused on the essentials of our Christian faith. We don’t want to exclude people from our denomination, and our churches, because they do not hold to a premillennial perspective regarding the end times.

We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial glorious return of our Lord
Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant
expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living,
sacrificial service and energetic mission.

  • I am excited about the future of the EFCA because there is a laser focus on the gospel, community and making disciples.
  • Paul’s relationship with Timothy is a powerful example of how important it is that every Christian is making disciples (1 Timothy 2:1-12).
  • Being a preacher is not enough. We must be making disciples who make disciples.
  • “Death? That’s so B.C.” Quote from Pastor Eric Rivera
  • “If the disciples we are making aren’t making disciples are we making disciples of Jesus?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “People can be sitting in our churches for 10 years and still not be making disciples. Why?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “If our programs are creating consumers and not disciple-makers, what do we do?” Quote from Disciplemaking Lab
  • “When it comes to discipleship there will come a time for our people where they will have to decide if they really want to embrace the ways of Jesus or go back to attending church, listening to sermons and enjoying worship music.” Quote from Discipleship Lab
    • This made me think of the Matrix when Morpheus asked Neo if he really wanted to see reality or just go back to living in a false reality. As Christians we are faced with a red pill, blue pill choice. What will we choose? Consumerism or discipleship?
  • “79% of people in our culture want to talk about spiritual things. Only 35% of the people in our churches are engaging in these kinds of conversations.” Quote from Lab on Missional Impact.
  • Do the people on the other side of the political side know that you love them and care about them? Or is your angry rhetoric causing a barrier to the gospel? This was a thought I took from the Lab on Missional Impact.
  • Ed Stetzer shared the inspirational story of Jane the Uber Driver. It shows how we can make disciples in everyday life! It is not as complicated as we make it out to be!
  • Also made a good connection with an EFCA pastor in Salem, ND that I believe will lead to us doing a better job of developing leaders in our church here in Watertown, SD.

Spiritual Awakening

I wrote this article and it can be found in Wednesday’s edition of the The Watertown Public Opinion. 06.12.19

“SPIRITUAL AWAKENING”

I love the city of Watertown. I have been in Watertown for a little over four years and my family and I have found the people here to be friendly, kind and welcoming. Because of my love for this city I have a growing desire to see God work in a new way in our community. My greatest prayer for my family, my church and this city is that we come to know and love Jesus Christ more than anything else on earth. In the book of Philippians 3:8 the apostle Paul clearly communicates what life is all about when he writes this, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

I would briefly like to mention a few barriers that keep individuals, churches and communities from experiencing a spiritual awakening. One obstacle is lifeless, dead religion. Due to the fact that I am a preacher’s kid I know what it is like to be very religious and yet at the same time to be far from God. Going to church, being baptized, and church membership simply do not mean that a person knows or loves Jesus Christ. So the first barrier we must overcome is simply going through the religious motions that give one the semblance of Christianity but fails to have the heart of Christ. Second, we must be aware of how short sighted it is to make pursuing pleasure and comfort our primary goals in life. We live in a great country and we have been blessed with so many material possessions. The problem is that we end up making our hobbies, jobs, sports, education, retirement, bank account what life is all about. Third, many people simply misunderstand what Christianity is about in the first place, so we end up disregarding it or thinking that it is irrelevant. Christianity is not first and foremost about rule keeping. Christianity is not keeping you from the good life. In fact, Christianity is the doorway to where the deepest joy and satisfaction that your heart could ever experience is found.

So, the question we should ask at this time is how do we experience a spiritual awakening in our life, churches, and in our city? I believe with all of my heart that the place it begins is when we seek after God in prayer. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read this, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Seeking after God in prayer will mean turning off the TV, putting down our iPhones, refusing to be distracted by a million trivialities, and asking God to do in a new work in our day and time.

A group of local Watertown pastors have begun what we are calling a “Community Evening of Worship and Prayer.” We have already met twice over the past few months and we have experienced a great time of singing, prayer and fellowship. This is a gathering that goes beyond denominational lines. We are, and should be, focusing on more than our own religious turf and thinking about the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). The next Community of Worship and Prayer will be at Midwest Bible Camp on Sunday, August 18th, 6-7 PM. If you want more details you can go to www.prayforwatertownsd.com. Whether you have been in the church for years, or you have never been to church, you are invited to join us as we seek after God and ask him to be at work in our community in a powerful new way. We hope you will join us!

Pastor Michael Wallenmeyer
New Life Church

What Christians Need To Know

One of the most destructive things to both Christians, and to churches, is the belief that the church exists to help Christians grow spiritually. I imagine that you are going to want to go back and read that first sentence a couple more times to make sure you got it right. Then, you are going to want to respond with a strong rebuttal to what seems like really poor logic. Or maybe you simply respond with a question like, “Isn’t it obviously a good thing to expect a church to help us grow in our faith?”

Let me explain. Yes, it is good for Christians to come to church and hope that their church helps them grow spiritually. Here is the problem. Far too often that is where things stop for many people. Too many Christians fail to understand that to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are actively helping others to grow in their faith too.

DISCIPLES OF JESUS MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS

Jesus said this in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus, in very plain language, is telling his disciples (which includes you and me) that it has always been his design that his disciples are not only thinking about their own spiritual growth. Jesus was helping his disciples to grow spiritually with THE EXPRESS PURPOSE that they would help others to grow spiritually. One of the primary objectives of a disciple of Jesus Christ is to make other disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20).

So here is a really critical question that we all need to ask and answer, “What are some ways that we can actively work to help others inside the church, and outside the church, grow in their faith?” HERE is a link that does a great job helping us answer that question. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and questions!