In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus makes some bold statements about following Him. In a sense, these verses provide a “101 Class” on discipleship.
“Disciple” is a word you’ll hear in church world a lot - and rightfully so. One of Jesus’ last commands is for the church to go and “make disciples” of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Making disciples who make disciples should be on the short list of priorities of every church.
The word disciple literally means “learner.” Don’t just think of a learner in some classroom environment, though. Think “apprentice.” Think “someone learning a skill or a lifestyle.” As followers of Jesus, we’re apprentices of Jesus. Or another way to look at it is that a disciple is someone who walks in the footsteps of someone else.
When I was in college, I went on a couple of backpacking trips in Colorado - one to fulfill some P.E. credit, and one as part of a team building experience for R.A.s. They were great: Get away from civilization, sleep in tents, see some awesome sights in the Rockies, and do a whole lot of hiking. And both times I went, the guide we were with reinforced the value of paying attention to the person in front of you. To watch where they stepped and to follow that same path. To literally walk in their footsteps as much as you could.
As disciples of Jesus, then, we walk in His footsteps. And if the path He went on involved suffering and self-denial (Jesus tells us this in Luke 9:22), we can’t go around that ourselves or skip that part of the trail as His followers. Which is exactly where Jesus takes His instruction to us in Luke 9:23-25:
Earlier this summer I took some time and worked through John S. Feinberg's helpful (and thorough - 799 pages!) Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture. Among so many other things I enjoyed about the book, I benefited from how we approached something called "the animation of Scripture" - the belief that Scripture has life-giving, life-changing power that no other book shares.
This life-giving, life changing power of the Bible is WHY the Brookside Institute champions biblical literacy and Bible engagement in all the ways it does. Not because Bible engagement is an end-in-itself, but because the Bible is the primary means by which God introduces Himself, a primary way the Spirit works to grow us, and the clearest presentation of the all-satisfying Person and work of Christ.
Toward the end of this chapter on the animating power of the Bible, Feinberg draws several practical implications from this belief. Let me quote one of the implications he highlights (from pp. 678-69), in hopes that this will encourage all of us to keep coming back to the Bible, that we might experience the life-changing, life-giving power it offers in all the ways it offers it:
God's word has power like no other words ever spoken. Thus, it should be the focus of our study and of our everyday living. Whatever we are called to do, and whatever challenges confront us, our first response should always be to ask what Scripture says about the subject and the deeds in question. Needless to say, that can't happen if we don't read and ponder Scripture. Sadly, even Christians committed to verbal plenary inspiration, the fully inerrancy of Scripture, and the power of God's word find little time in the course of a week to read even a little of it. Believers know the message of Psalm 1 as it compares the happy and blessed man with the man who is unhappy and heading for disaster. The key to both is what they do with Scripture. They happy man grounds his life in God's word. He does not merely take a 'small taste' of it for a half-hour each Sunday morning when his pastor preaches. He meditates on God's word both day and night. As a result, when the storms of life confront him, he survives and even flourishes. The unhappy man, whose life is grounded in pleasure, money-making, self-aggrandizement and / or any of the many philosophies that leave out God and his word, is not ready for life's challenges. At some time in his life there will likely be disaster and ruin, and even if not in this life, he is headed for a horrific eternity.
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Summer is upon us!
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books (in categories we should keep on our radar screens) you may want to consider. These are books that I've either read recently myself, or am hoping to dig into in the next couple of months.
I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is linked to their Amazon page where you can learn more), then choose whichever one or two jumps out at you most and dig in!
Every year my wife plants a big garden, and we look forward to all the fruit of that garden throughout the summer and into the Fall. She plants lettuce and tomatoes and peppers and whole lot of other things.
But we also know that if we’re going to eat the fruit of the garden, we need to actively be dealing with the weeds in the garden. Because weeds will steal light and nutrients from the plants we want to grow. Weeds crowd out space you want for the crops to flourish.
Dealing with weeds is a struggle. It’s work! But it’s worth it.
In Colossians 3:5-11, the Apostle Paul tells us to make sure we're dealing with the weeds in our garden. Listen to what he says:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
There are all sorts of ways to engage the Bible. We want to be reading it daily. We hear it preached. Both of these are good things. And, I would even say, they're the most common and frequent habits we want to encourage. But these two disciplines - hearing and reading - aren't the only "tools in the toolbox" for how we engage God's Word.
Here's where the time-tested "word hand" developed by the Navigators is a helpful overview of the various methods we want to use as we get into the Bible. The five methods outlined in this "word hand" are (1) Hear, (2) Read, (3) Study, (4) Memorize, and (5) Meditate. As we engage the Bible over a lifetime, we don't want to limit ourselves to only hearing and reading. We want to discover the benefits that EACH of these habits offers as we follow Jesus.
In this post, I want to briefly touch on the third method mentioned above, studying the Bible.
As the Brookside Institute champions the value of biblical literacy, we don't do this in some abstract or indifferent way. We want to value biblical literacy so that we're transformed by the Bible.
If that's the case, that means there's a whole lot riding on whether the Bible is a trustworthy book. Some version of "Can I trust the Bible?" is being asked in lots of ways today, and so responding to this question is important. Here's why: The greater our confidence IN the Bible, the more we'll base our lives ON the Bible. We'll never base our lives on something we don't have confidence in.
This last weekend, I spent about 30 minutes responding this question, "Can I trust the Bible?" Check out the video below to see what I said.
Interested in more on this? Check out the following posts:
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - January 2017 through June 2017. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
Summer is almost upon us!
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books you may want to consider. These are books that I've either read recently myself, or am hoping to dig into in the next couple of months.
I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is looked to their Amazon page where you can learn more) and jump in - the water's fine!
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - June 2016 through December 2016. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
One of the "drumbeats" of the Brookside Institute is biblical literacy - helping people engage, understand, and love the Bible as God's Word to us. As we keep coming back to this priority, we eventually need to consider how we're approaching the Bible. What's the attitude we come with - indifference or excitement, apathy or anticipation?
Since this is such a big part of what the Brookside Institute does, I figured I'd post the video of a sermon I recently did (November 27, 2016) at Brookside Church on Hebrews 4:12 - looking at our approach to God's Word and why we should "come hungry" to the Bible.
The video is below. First, here's a brief outline of what I say:
Outline: "come Hungry to the Bible" (Hebrews 4:12)
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Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.