Monday, March 28, 2011

Authenticity - Discipleship 131

A disciple of Jesus is someone who pursues authenticity. 

In John, one of the gospels from the New Testament, Jesus is famous for uttering the "I am" statements. These claims are foundational to understanding who Jesus is and what He believed about Himself. Here is a list of these statements to refresh your memory.

  1. I AM the bread of life.
    • John 6:35: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
    • John 6:48: I am the bread of life.
  2. I AM the light of the world.
    • John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
    • John 9:5: While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
  3. I AM the door.
    • John 10:7: Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep."
  4. I AM the good shepherd.
    • John 10:11-14: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...."
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life.
    • John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."
  6. I AM the way, the truth and the life.
    • John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
  7. I AM the true vine.
    • John 15:1, 5: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
These statements provide us with a window of authenticity into the life of Jesus. It is out of this worldview that Jesus engaged the community around Him. As disciples, each of us has the opportunity to create our own window of authenticity by what we do and by what we say. What I find fascinating about these sayings from the life of Jesus is that they are statements of being, not statements of comparison. Often times I find myself falling into the trap of self-promotion. I feel compelled to justify who I am and what I do to others in order to be granted their approval. I am driven by performance instead of being driven by simply being who I am.

Think about this for one minute. How would you describe yourself to someone else? What descriptors would you use? Are the statements you would make about yourself statements of comparison where you are measuring yourself against a known or unknown standard? Or are you simply making a statements of being?

Here is an example:

I am a father.
I am a better father than most dads.

The first statement is one of being, the second is one of comparison. Statements of comparison are subjective and shallow. Statements of being are not only authentic, but are also transparent and real. One set of statements breeds authenticity, while the other breeds contempt. 

Jesus understood the importance of making statements of being, but also of follow through on the statements that He made. A disciple is someone who not only speaks about authenticity, but one who strives to live authentically in each decision made every day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Compassion in Action - Discipleship 130

What do you do when you feel burdened by the needs you see around you? Is it enough to recognize the needs and not act on what you see? Listen to this story about escaping poverty and remember Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Simplicity Re-visited - Discipleship 129

Earlier this week I had the chance to sit in on an emergency first aid course. One of the things that held my attention were the statistics about heart attacks in males compared to females. Roughly 10 years ago, men who had heart attacks accounted for nearly 70% of all documented cases. Since then, there has been a gradual shift where this trend has begun to even out over time.

What's startling to me about this trend is that one of the major contributing factors to heart attacks is stress. I've blogged about this topic before, but I believe that the root issue behind health trends such as stress-related illnesses can be directly attributed to our lack of simplicity in life.

Listen to Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

These few verses imply several truths. I could write about this subject all day, but I'm only going to touch on a couple of things in this post. Jesus invites us to learn from Him, implying that His way of life is one that is not only full (John 10:10), but also one that is restful. Seems like an oxymoron doesn't it? Often times our goal in life here in North America is to live life fast and loud. Don't believe me? Take a drive (or walk) through your many fast initiatives do you see? We have speed limits to try and slow us down (do they work??), we have fast-food, express lube, made to order, 30 minutes or less guarantee type stuff all over the place...and I haven't even talked about church yet. In the church, our goal is sometimes to "look busy" or "create activity" because idle hands lead to sinful behaviors...right?

What if the greater miscue in life isn't that we have time on our hands, but that we don't have time or room to let God be God in our lives? If Jesus says to us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, do we not trust that what He says is actually true?

Let's dream for a minute. What if we did life differently? What if we took the time to hit the pause button, what slow down and let the pursuit of simplicity (which is a Christ-like virtue in my opinion) dictate how we live? How much more time would we find in our day? How much more rest would there be for our souls? How much greater understanding would there be of the concept of Sabbath?

If you can't slow down your life, are you really living? Life void of simplicity is one lived in the fast lane; but how much life did you miss along the way while going fast? Slow down, find rest for your souls...learn from Jesus cause He's the only one who lived life the way it was intended to be lived.

The Passion-filled Life - Discipleship 128

Each of us is searching for meaning, purpose and significance in life. What does it mean to live a passion-filled life? This video touches on the subject in a unique way. May it inspire you to live passionately for Jesus Christ in your context or life's setting.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rethinking Compassion - Discipleship 127

Compassion is a buzz word for the church world. Some people say it sounds too feminine, others do not understand the full meaning of this term. I stumbled across this video and wanted to share it with others. Do you think it's key for us to rethink, reshape or redefine compassion in our own lives?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Success of Team - Discipleship 126

One of my life's passions is creating and building teams. In my younger days, I was an avid gamer...addicted to sports games on playstation consoles where I could craft my team and play the role of general manager, coach & player all at once. I was also fascinated with teams offline. I would observe, examine and experience the successes and failures of teams while playing sports, learning in school, volunteer and leading a variety of ministry initiatives of the course of 15 years.

Now, 17 years later from my initial fascination with the concept of a team, I'm still passionate about this subject and I'm still learning about what makes teams tick. When we think of the process of discipleship, it requires a team approach...many people working together, partnering with God's Spirit to see another person reach his or her potential in Jesus Christ.

There are four things that currently occupy my brain space at the moment. I believe these four concepts are key to a healthy functioning team that is growing together.

TRUST - releasing responsibility to one another
EXPECTATION - holding each other accountable to achieve the goal or vision
APPRECIATION - encouragement, support and care
MOBILITY - flexibility, transferability (holding onto things with an open hand instead of a tight fist)

If we have the courage to work together, and are willing to be lead by the power of God's Spirit, I believe that the vision of seeing this generation of youth revive the church and change the world is not only viable, but absolutely critical for the long-term sustainability of spiritual transformation in the name of Jesus Christ.

How does your team (your family, your staff team, your friends, etc.) function? Where are your growth areas?