“Go and make disciples.” – Jesus, in the Great Commission
“When I was a kid, I had a drug problem. My parents drug me to church every week.” –Pastors nationwide
Those of you who, like me, have been around Christian gatherings for a long time understand the existence of ‘church jokes’ (Those of you who don’t, please know that church is an amazing place and I only bring up this harmless idiosyncrasy to make an important point two paragraphs down). Corny one-liners that only exist in our little world because we’re too nice not to chuckle and therefore discourage the pastor from continuing to employ the same ones forever.
The most famous is probably: “Do you know what this word in the Bible (for example, ‘serve,’) means in the original Greek?” Audience waits patiently. “It means…SERVE!” Hilarious, I know. But what if we’ve actually been interpreting “Go and make disciples” all wrong?
For the first ten or so years of ministry, before my grace conversion, discipleship looked like I had always been taught: meet with a younger believer regularly under the pretext of “doing life together.” Which meant, small talk followed by imparting all my amazing wisdom on what Godly disciplines to do, and what sins to avoid. We always made sure to put a special emphasis on those sins they had trouble avoiding that weren’t currently a struggle for me.
Because of His aforementioned grace, there has been some long lasting fruit in the lives of those young men. Much less, however, than one would have thought or hoped. What had I been missing? If only there was some sort of book that contains an accurate account of the life of Jesus we could refer to for answers…
When you look at how He personally handled discipleship, things become much clearer. Jesus coached His people. Like the best coaches past and present, He shared stories, asked questions, and let the disciples think through things for themselves. It wasn’t “Listen Peter, I’m the Alpha and Omega, the Son of God, David, and Man simultaneously, hey, are you jotting all this down?” It was “Who do YOU say I am?”
For Jesus, doing life together didn’t stop at “Did you see the game?” Nothing wrong with relationship building – it’s great and necessary – but it is not in itself discipleship. For Peter and John, it took the form of “I’m about to be transfigured into some crazy glory on this mountain, and I’d like you to be with me. You’ll never be the same!”
While He taught servant leadership, it wasn’t about making His followers bring Him coffee to ‘build character.’ It was “YOU give them something to eat.” As in, “If you obey what I tell you, you’re about to be part of some mind-blowing Kingdom stuff going down.”
Yeah, we get it, discipleship by coaching. Good stuff, Pope Massé. But I clicked on this article because you promised to tell us the only foolproof way to make disciples, and apparently you missed my post “the only foolproof way to get to the point!”
Okay, here goes: Jesus, who was a way better pastor than me, said in John 16:7 (Free church joke: That’s my favorite verse in the whole Bible!) that it was way better if He would leave so the Holy Spirit could disciple His sons and daughters from the inside.
Whoomp, there it is. Instead of thinking, planning, and making sure I impart all my knowledge onto Johnny, now it’s getting before God and discerning how I can best coach Johnny into hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit for himself. This takes all the pressure off! It’s the only answer I’ve found to the self-directed question “What can I do tonight that this person can actually carry with them forever?” In the midst of coaching them to come up with their own answers, introduce them to the sweet experience of staying attuned to the One who has them all…and loves to share His wisdom in a still, small voice. Because 1, 5, 10, 30 years from now – when they don’t have access to Pastor Mike’s awesome messages – they will still have Him.
God, train us to hear Your inner voice, and lead us into opportunities to help people to do the same.
How many times have we as Christians made statements like “My boss is out to get me” or “Sarah at school turns everyone against me?” Too many to count.
The only problem is, guess who disagrees with these statements? The Holy Spirit.
Through Paul, in Romans 8:31, He asks a question that is really a declaration: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Implied answer: nobody.
In the context of the whole chapter, this promises that nothing anyone says or does can separate us from the love of God. We have often heard this taught as “No matter what Sarah says about me, it doesn’t change the fact that God loves me…and that is what’s really important.” But in the overall context of all Scripture, this goes beyond that and actually takes us into the reality of “No matter what my boss does, it doesn’t stop God’s love for him through me!”
It recently hit me when I listened to a Christian talk about his allies and enemies…within his very church!
What if the power of this verse lies in the truth that we only have one enemy, and it’s never another human? And that we have one Ally, and His grace is sufficient for us?
I’m not talking about merely agreeing with that verse in principle, but the place where we are overtaken by the reality that the love of Jesus has become our all in all! If I responded to that love with the only reasonable response - laying down my life to follow Him - then I have laid down the right to be offended by the behavior of any person or group. Honest answers only: has complaining to a friend/sibling/pastor/barista/Siri about someone’s toxic behavior ever changed that person’s heart toward you? It’s only when we, by His grace, never lose a step in being 100% loving toward that person (and in the process, cooperate with Phil. 2:14, “do everything without complaining or arguing") that the Gospel truly comes to life!
And though I don’t need to pretend it always happens immediately (there’s no fruit of the Spirit called short-suffering), we are starting to see real life change in people whose social habits toward others were toxic at best. But it has only happened when God’s people, who have been overtaken with the revelation that He is always for us, respond to attempted rejection with what the Word tells us leads to repentance: His kindness!
So no matter what they currently believe, nobody can ever truly be against us. Because “God is for me” is the captivating truth that overrides whatever they are saying or doing toward me. And our response of love (by the grace of God) towards anyone acting like an enemy actually takes what our one real enemy meant for harm – and uses it to accomplish eternal good.
As always, your thoughts are welcome!
“You were not created to be dominated, you were created to dominate over the circumstances in your life” –Daniel Park
“Winning!” –Charlie Sheen
One catalyst for this book was the hundreds of Christians I’ve met through the years—including myself for most of my life—who, when honest, express frustration that their lives do not seem to match the promises of the Bible. Experiential reality stood in stark contrast to the life of “victory to victory” that is ours, according to God’s Word. We lived with a sincere love for God and desire to be more like Him but still tasted defeat every day to sin and the tests and trials of life. That has begun to change.
There’s no “secret” to #iamholy. Yet one trait has started to stand out as common among everyone who does embrace a life of victory over circumstances: identity. The
most important thing God speaks to us regards who He really is. The finished work of Jesus is the foundation for everything written in this book.
The second most important thing? Who you really are.
Perspective is everything.
I learned a lot about the importance of identity during that seminal moment in a young man’s life: high school football. The three years before I got there were all losing seasons. They had talented players and coaches but couldn’t break the expectation of another 3–7 or 4–6 season. That’s just who they were.
But something happened that May that changed everything. The three guys that had been chosen as captains decided to adopt a new identity. When asked to rally the players at the end of spring practice, they explained the concept of FIDO. Forget It, Drive On. In essence, delete the past from our memories, and look forward with this understanding: We are undefeated.
Preseason practices carried a buzz that the veterans agreed had never before been present. Other students on-site to use the track or weight room would say stuff like, “Hey, you guys gonna do better than last year? That was pretty bad.” The response: stare through them and simply reply, “We’re undefeated.”
Traditionally, the week before classes (and the football season) officially started, players snuck to “the hill” off to the side of the school grounds at night and spray-painted their super-cool nicknames next to their jersey numbers. This year, it simply read “10–0.” (Prophesy much?)
We (that’s right, I’m saying “we” even though I was a freshman that got no varsity action that year. It was definitely my tireless sideline support that produced the team’s tipping point) refused to define ourselves by past performance and instead spoke, thought, and acted according to what we truly believed was our destiny. Every summer practice the captains reminded us we were to conduct ourselves on and off the field like the champions we had now morphed into. When the locker rooms opened up in September, you better believe “10–0” got plastered all over everything.
And guess what? As God is my witness, we went 10–0 that year. Each week looked different: some close games, some blowouts, even one where we had a crazy Hollywood-style comeback…but they all ended in a victory. It was inevitable! We already viewed ourselves as undefeated, so that’s what manifested through us on the field.
Not only that, it completely changed the culture of the program. Over the course of my four years (the last two of which I actually contributed on the field at the varsity level), we actually obtained the best four-year record in the history of that high school. Thirty-five wins to only five losses, if memory holds.
Now, if a group of three brazen young men can start running their mouths and convincing a group of generally unmotivated teenagers that they are undefeated before they have seen any physical evidence to confirm it, how much more when the very Word of God Himself says, “No weapon forged against me will prevail”?
It's time to stop defining ourselves by our past performance, starting asking Him to reveal how He sees us, and living from that place: as good sons and daughters. As "the head and not the tail." (Deut 28:13). As winners.
“(If we truly believe the Good News of Jesus), we don’t have the right to have a bad day!” -Todd White
If you had told me two years ago that you never had a bad day, I would have assigned you one of two
labels: fake or delusional.
To my mind, you were likely fake — lots of gritting your teeth, suppressing stress and frustration deep
inside, forcing phony smiles, and describing yourself as “blessed and highly favored!”
The other option is that you lived in a fantasy world of denial. “Every day is a good day…because I have forty billion dollars in the bank to buy Evander Holyfield’s mansion and install my own personal In-N-Out Burger!”
(Speaking of Evander, I think he should pen an autobiography called #iamholyfield. Who’s with me?)
Basically, I thought being happy all the time meant ignoring reality in one of those two forms — being fake, or being in denial. Honestly, as Christians that should not be the case. We must acknowledge the reality we see all around us.
The life-transforming realization is that through Christ in us, we live in a higher reality! I love the example in Romans 4. Abraham had been given a promise from God: that He had made him the father of many nations. Abe recognized that God “gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are.” It says he faced the fact (this world’s reality) that his body was as good as dead. He was neither fake nor delusional regarding the situation. Come on, he was 100 years old! He didn’t try to speak it into existence. He didn’t walk around saying “I’m thirty, I’m thirty.” Abraham acknowledged the current facts accurately at the same time he was fully persuaded that God’s higher reality superseded what everyone saw in the physical realm! He put his faith in truth louder than circumstances, refusing to waver through unbelief.
And guess what? One of the greatest legacies in history was birthed as a result. As this blog keeps rolling, we will go more in depth into how the everlasting joy that God promises can become an everyday reality.
But first, your thoughts. Is there really a place in this life where there is actually no such thing as a bad day?