On Marriage, Faith, & Discipleship

Photo Credit: justindc via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: justindc via Compfight cc

If you are on social media at all, you have witnessed the explosion of posts that followed the SCOTUS ruling on Same-Sex marriage. Many words, both loving and hateful, have been posted, shared, and tweeted about what people think about marriage. When I read the posts from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I think that often they saying more about their faith and view of discipleship than their view of marriage.

Faith

In Seminary, the primary focus of my thesis was Faith and the work of James Fowler. Fowler created a faith development theory and at the heart of that theory is a very helpful way of understanding faith. Faith is ultimately about trust and whatever you find at the center of that trust becomes the foundation of your worldview. If God is at the center of your faith, then God is the foundation on which you build your worldview. If you, money, power, sex, or anything else is at the center of your faith, then that is what your world is built around. To have faith means to order your world and life around that person. Continue reading

There aren’t Life Hacks for following Jesus

This is actually a useful "lifehack."  Photo Credit: drbakker via Compfight cc
A helpful “lifehack”
Photo Credit: drbakker via Compfight cc

I grew up in the 90’s so whenever I hear the terms hack, hacker, or hacking, I immediately think of someone typing really fast on a computer trying to break through some sort of firewall. The term “hacking” however has evolved over the past decade and now share their latest “life hack” on Facebook. If you’re not familiar with the term “Life hacking” it “refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” [1] There’s even a website called Lifehacker.com. Now to be honest, there are a lot of neat tips and tricks out there for making life easier, but when it comes to following Jesus there aren’t any life hacks. Continue reading

Asking the Right Question about Mission

Matthew 28:19 [fullscreen]

Last week, I talked about asking the right question about discipleship. This week I want to talk about mission. There are a lot of things that we ask about getting involved at church and getting involved in our communities and I’m not sure we’re always asking the best questions. If we’re trying to get involved we are usually asking good questions, but I want all of us to ask the best questions possible so that we can get involved in the best way possible.

One of the phrases that I hear a lot is “plugged in,” as in “How can I get plugged in at church?” Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing to say, but is it the best question to ask? It’s good to get connected to the church and it’s ministries, but getting plugged in only half the question. If we are concerned with finding the mission that God has for us. Continue reading

Asking The Right Question About Discipleship

Asking questions is key to learning. When we don’t ask questions, sometimes we miss out on important pieces of information that we should know. On the other hand, when we do ask questions, if we don’t ask the right questions we also miss out on the answers that we really need to know. So the question is, are we asking the right questions when it comes to our discipleship?

Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRulerAs followers of Jesus, we all have questions. There are things about our faith and our life that we really want to know. When we think specifically about following Jesus, I’m sure many of our questions would fall within the realm of what does Jesus want me to do. It was in this line of thinking that a “rich young ruler” asked his question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Continue reading

Do you need to be Re-Evangelized?

What does it mean to be an evangelical?

I’m guessing that you’ve answered this question by identifying a certain set of political views. If you did, Lance Ford would argue that you’re defining the term incorrectly. Instead of defining Evangelical by politics, Ford writes, “An authentic Evangelical should be a ‘good news’ person. And not just any old good news. This is about the good news of the Kingdom of heaven—the good news that Jesus brought, lived, and taught.” This is the basis of Lance Ford’s new book Revangelical. At the message at the heart of his book is that Evangelicals need to be re-evangelized.

Like many of us, Ford grew up in the politically conservative evangelical world. The problem that he discovered, however, is that this definition of Evangelical doesn’t always line up with the good news of Jesus Christ. He writes, “Many of our positions on issues such as immigration, the poor, and justifications for war have been formed more from a desire for economic stability, self-preservation, and national interest than from the perspective and edicts of God’s Kingdom and the teaching of Jesus.“ Instead of basing what we believe on the Gospel, life, and message of Jesus, we choose to believe based on political parties and radio or television personalities.

Now, evangelicals need to become Revangelicals. Ford is calling us to reorient our lives to Jesus. By the very definition of word, an evangelical (which comes from the Greek word for Gospel) should be someone who lives by the Gospel and as Ford writes, “take the words of Jesus seriously.” We need to re-evangelize ourselves and recommit to making Jesus central to our lives.

While the culture I grew up in wasn’t nearly as over-the-top conservative as Ford’s upbringing in Texas, I was raised in a politically conservative environment. I understand where he is coming from and agree with his premise that large number of people in the American Church has valued conservative politics over the words of Jesus. This is because many have allowed their politics to inform their view of Jesus instead of Jesus informing their view of politics.

To that end, this book doesn’t hold back and calls out a culture that has put the words of Jesus in second place at best. I think a lot of people need to read this book and really take the challenge to heart. Honestly, all of us need to ask the question of whether or not we value the words of Jesus first and foremost. Because, to be fair, there are politically liberal Christians who have done the same things as conservatives. The point of this book, however, is not to defame a specific political party and raise up another as being better, it is to help us recognize that as Christians we are to follow Jesus first.

Ultimately this book calls into question our discipleship. Are you a follower of Jesus first, or have you let certain political and social views reign supreme in your life? Whether you are conservative, liberal, or moderate, if you are a Christian, we all need to be careful to follow Christ first, and Revangelical is a good reminder to choose Jesus.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TyndaleHouse Publishers through netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Feed Me

Photo Credit: Still_life88_second via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Still_life88_second via Compfight cc

I have a confession to make. I’m not very proud of this, and in fact I laugh a little at myself for thinking it, especially for when I had the thought. When I was in high school, I thought that I was not being fed spiritually. I was convinced that I had achieved a level of spiritual maturity beyond that of what was being given to me. The problem, however, was that I didn’t understand what maturity in Christ meant. I had grown up in the church, went to Christian school, and participated in Bible Bowl. In other words, I (thought) I knew the Bible really well. I had large chunks memorized and at times could identify the chapter of the story or quotation. I was equating knowledge with maturity. On top of that, I was a good kid. Obviously I was doing something right. Continue reading

The Importance of Being Connected

 Photo Credit: rorowe8 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rorowe8 via Compfight cc

Legos by themselves are good for one thing and one thing only: causing massive amounts of pain when you step on one barefoot. As we heard last weekend at Westbrook (listen to the Sermon), Legos are made to be connected and by themselves they can’t fulfill their purpose. This is a great example for the Christian life, because we need to be connected to the body to really function.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 that the body is not made up of one part, but many and further emphasizes the need for a variety of gifts to do all the work of the body of Christ. We do not all have the same gift, but need each other to function. In terms of spiritual formation, we also need each other to grow and mature. Paul in various places writes that we should love one another, honor one another, live in harmony with one another, instruct one another, encourage one another, serve one another, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgive one another, teach and admonish one another, and spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Continue reading

A Disciple’s Task

MakeMatureMultiply
ebook Amazon

Recently I’ve written about a Disciple’s schedule, work, and home. It seems appropriate to add this book review to the discussion of what a disciple looks like. Make, Mature, Multiply is a new book from Gospel Centered Discipleship. If you’re not familiar with GCD you should definitely spend some time on their sight and check out some of the books they have published, this is a great resource for anyone who wants to stay focused on the Gospel and focus on making disciples.

When Jesus left he gave his disciples a task. He told them to go and make disciples. At the heart of this book is that call and what it means to live it out. From the title of the book, you know the three focuses of the book. We are to make, mature, and multiply disciples. Continue reading

Overcoming the Obstacle of Extraordinary

When it comes to following God and living out his mission for our lives, there are obstacles that we have to overcome in order to live out this mission. Sometimes we create these obstacles ourselves, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and other times there are obstacles that we run up against. Whatever the case may be, we all have to overcome them in order to live out the mission that God has called us all to which is to be ambassadors of his message of reconciliation. We are to to be disciples of Jesus and participate in the making of disciples of Jesus.

One of the main obstacles that can be seen in our culture is that of ordinary vs. extraordinary. Our culture praises the extraordinary. We lift up heroes and celebrities to great heights because they have done big things. Because of this, we want to do big things as well. We want to new ministry effort to reach hundreds and thousands of people. In order to do this, we shoot for the moon and try to do great and extravagant things right out of the gate. Most people, however, fail to reach hundreds and thousands of people. There are a few people who are in the right time and the right place to make a huge impact, but that usually comes with an attitude of being an ordinary person. Continue reading

A Disciple’s Home

Recently, I’ve been writing about the different parts of being a disciple. We’ve talked about what a disciple’s schedule and work look like. It’s also important to talk about what a disciple’s home looks like. Much like our schedule, it can be really easy to relegate spiritual activity to a specific time or a specific place. Many people see a place of worship as the place where they are spiritual. Some may even include a weekly Bible Study or small group, which may or may not happen in their home, as a time and place where spiritual formation happens. Just like our schedule, however, living as a disciple encompass everyplace that we are. Continue reading