Discipleship & Running (2)

Wow! The smell was rank! It may have been just me or both of us, but the aroma in the car was almost roadkill worthy. But, what do you expect with all that sweat!

You say, “what does that have to do with discipleship?” Well, you may or may not have heard it said, but “discipleship is messy.”

Think of all Jesus dealt with in reference to his disciples. Here He is leading this band of twelve knowing one would betray Him, one would deny Him and they would forsake Him at the cross.

At various times Jesus had to deal with their insecurities, their misunderstandings, their pride, their selfishness, their unbelief, their hasty decisions, their inopportune sleepiness, their parents, their confusion, their rejection of children, their hindering statements, their temptations, their prejudice, their low commitment, their fears, their bad spirit, their doubts, etc. Leading these men was messy.

We and those we disciple are messy, too. As you do life with others, as you get to know one another, weaknesses, sins, and frailties are exposed. We can easily relate to the list in the previous paragraph. Many times, the stories of those we disciple are complicated by sin and its consequences. It’s a mess! And, we too, have paragraphs and chapters in our life that we wish had never been written.

If we stopped right here, it would end like a cheap television talk show. All the gory details, the mess, the sin, the raw display of our humanness, but no solution, no spiritual transformation.

Discipleship is simply helping someone take the next step toward Christ for God’s glory. As you do life together, pray together, read the Word together, serve together, work in the yard together, play ball together, share together, laugh together, eat together, talk together, etc., you will work up some holy sweat as you together exercise unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

The smell of a messy life can be transformed by the grace of God (Romans 5:19-21) into a sweet-smelling aroma for Christ and unto God (2 Corinthians 2:15-16; Ephesians 5:12).

As someone has said, “Let your mess be transformed into a message;” a message of the Christlife being formed in you and lived out of you (Romans 6-8; Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18). That’s a pleasing aroma!

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Discipleship & Running

One of the joys of my life is running on the nearby Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City / Elizabethton, TN. The views of the mountains, the trees lining the trail, the fresh air, the quiet, the deer and squirrels, and the bridges are all way cool!

Another joy is running with my son-in-law. He’s a great encourager as he runs alongside me asking every now and then, “You doing ok?” I’m sure he would run a fastest pace than me since he’s 35 years younger, but he stays right there with me until the last mile. That’s when he moves on ahead to our normal finish line of 4.3 miles.

He and I have run many times on the Tweetsie as well as in other timed races. His question “You doing ok”? is standard fare and reminds me of discipleship in another believer’s life.

You see, we are not okay if we think we can go solo in this walk with Christ. Besides the residency of the Trinity within us (John 14:15-24), we must have one another outside of us asking, “You doing okay?”

When you consider all the “one another” passages in Scripture as well as Matthew 28:18-20 and Titus 2:1-8, it is very evident we need our family in Christ to go beyond the shallow, surface relationships of what has sadly become normal Christianity. We need to seek it out and also offer ourselves in genuine love and transparency to encourage and edify one another in our participation with Christ in this life.

There have been times when Andrew asks, “Are you doing ok?” that I have had to declare, “I’m struggling today!” Or, “You go ahead, I’ve got to slow down. I’ll catch up with you.” Or, “Doing great!” There have also been times that I have done the same for him. We are definitely transparent with each other.

You see, running together makes this question mean something. We are both running for the finish life; we are on the same trail; we are pushing each other; we care for one another; we are involved in each other’s lives; we are sweating together; we know this is good for us! Discipleship is the life of Christ! This is what we are, disciple-makers. This is the core of life!

Who are you running with in discipleship? Who are you honestly asking “You doing okay?”?

(More on this in future posts.)

21 Days of Prayer (Day #19)

Our teen ministry at BCBC is based around this mission, “To produce adults who in their independence live their lives for God (Col. 3:1-4).” This mission makes the decisions for what we do and what we study. Colossians 3:1-4 says, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We want the teens as they gain independence into adulthood to be convinced that living for God is better than living for anything else. We try to accomplish this through Five Core Values:

  1. Treasuring God (Matt. 6:21)
  2. Build Strong Faith (1 Peter 3:15)
  3. Oneness in the Body (Eph. 4:12)
  4. Discipleship (Matt. 28:18-20)
  5. Christ-Compelled Service (Mark 10:45)

What should we pray for the teen ministry at BCBC? Pray that our teens would be poured into in such a way that they would be convinced that living for God is superior to living for this world. Pray that each core value would be something that is established in each teen.

I often tell the teens what I hope to see in their life one day. I tell them that I want to come to their weddings someday and see them marrying a godly person. I hope to meet their children who are being taught that living for God is better than this world. I hope to find out that they are being discipled and discipling someone in their church. I hope they are an intricate part of a body of believers. Please, join me in prayer for our teens!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4)

Pastor Andrew Isbell

21 Days of Prayer (Day #18)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“This is the Great Commission—the making of disciples. The touchstone of a thriving church is that it is making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 152)

“The essence of ‘vine work’ (people ministry as opposed to “trellis” ministry which includes the upkeep of the building and running programs) is the prayerful, Spirit-backed speaking of the message of the Bible by one person to another (or more than one). . . . The goal of all Christian ministry, in all its forms, is disciple-making.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 153)

The past two days I have asked us to pray for the children and the senior saints. Today, I am asking us to pray again for our children and senior saints and all in between . . . to be involved in the continuation of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.

When we make the mission of the church simply reaching the lost or growing church attendance or teaching biblical information—or anything other than making full-fledged disciples of Jesus—we form shallow churches, leave people stuck in immature, un-Christlike patterns of living, and fail to be a city set on a hill.

Our mission is disciple making. And making disciples includes two components: evangelism (implied by the reference to baptism in Matthew 28:19) and teaching people to do everything Jesus commanded.

It’s all aimed at helping people become disciples and live as disciples, which means they have to rearrange their life to become like Jesus.

So, here’s a subtle shift in thinking that makes a massive impact on our ministries: Disciple making isn’t something we do; it’s everything we do.

The purpose of every meeting, every program, and every activity of the church is to either help people become disciples or to help them live as disciples.

If we’re making lots of converts who aren’t learning how to do everything Jesus commanded (i.e., live as disciples of Jesus), we’re failing to carry out the mission Jesus gave us.

If we have lots of active, involved church members who are attending, serving, and giving but not becoming like Jesus in character and life mission, then we’re making church members not disciples. And that means we’re failing in the mission Jesus gave us.

We have one mission: make disciples.

Every pastor is a disciple making pastor.

Every volunteer leader needs to see their role as a disciple maker and understand how they can help the people in their charge live as disciples of Jesus.

For every activity we should ask: How does this help people either become disciples or live as disciples?

As Curtis Erskine demonstrated in his substantive blog entitled “Conversion, Theology, and Discipleship,” discipleship is the key criterion by which everything is evaluated.

And this isn’t just true for the church corporately. This is true for each individual disciple as well—we are to live as disciples and seek to make disciples.

Raising kids? One of the greatest discipleship opportunities for our own discipleship and for helping our kids become—and live as—disciples. Martin Luther called family life the “school for character.”

Career? An incredible training ground for becoming like Jesus, and one of the best places to display and impart the way of Jesus to others.

Friends? They are key relationships for spurring one another on to love and good deeds.

Discipleship to Jesus should shape every facet of our life as individuals and every activity in our churches.

It’s everything we do, and it’s the greatest opportunity any human being could ever have because Jesus is the true source of life. (Disciple Making Is Everything the Church Does; John Whitaker)

Would you join with Pastor Andrew and myself in submitting to the Christ within every one of us as believers in Christ by following His mission to make disciples?

  • Pray that BCBC would become more and more a disciple making ministry. (Titus 2)
  • Pray for a greater understanding of what it looks like to be a disciple for Christ. (The four gospels; the life of Christ)
  • Pray for courage, conviction, and concern for people. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Pray that we will be growing daily in Christ through prayer, scripture, and fellowship with other believers. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • Pray that we will encourage one another, carry each other’s burdens, and work together in order to make known the Gospel of Jesus to the children and families who cross ours paths. (I Thessalonians 5:14)
  • Pray for our discipleship small groups to grow in such a way that it produces more disciple-makers whose desire would be to spend intentional time in conversation with others in the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Let’s pray expectantly with surrendered hearts! Who’s all in with me?

Pastor C

21 Days of Prayer (Day #15)

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

This third week of our 21 Days of Prayer, we will focus on various aspects of the ministry and people at Boones Creek Bible Church.

Today, on this last Sunday of March, Palm Sunday, let us make supplication for all the saints. In other words, let’s pray specifically for the local body of Christ, the saints, the believers known as the BCBC family.

Let’s pray for the saints, as well as yourself, to . . .

  • Live passionately today for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • Die to self so Christ can live His life out of us; to live by His terms, not ours. (Galatians 2:20)
  • Be devoted to the teaching of God’s Word and the fellowship of one another. (Acts 2:42)
  • Be thoroughly given to prayer as Christ is. (Acts 1:14; 2:42; Colossians 4:2)
  • Share, connect, minister and make disciples like Jesus did. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Be people of genuine praise and thanksgiving. (Hebrews 13:15; Ephesians 5:20)
  • Be daily repenters changing the way we think so God can change the way we live. (Romans 2:4; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 2:5)
  • Worship today in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
  • Be soul-conscious, ready to share Jesus with the unsaved without fear. (Luke 19:10; 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Be burden-bearers. (Galatians 6:2)

And, let us pray that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Let’s finish this week strong, “on our knees,” as we head toward Resurrection Sunday!!

21 Days of Prayer (Day #6)

God’s Sovereign Compassion in the Midst of Man’s Decisions. (Pastor Andrew)

The book of Jonah is quite an interesting book because there are so many interesting literary uses by the author. For instance God’s prophet, Jonah, twice is willing to be killed but the pagan sailors and the people of the sinful city are found worshipping God after they are spared from death. The pagan sailors and the people of Nineveh worship Jonah’s God. Jonah prays in the whale and most likely repents. However, his actions do not back up his repentance in the chapters following his prayer. He gets angry about the plant dying that covered him, but he cared less about the sailors, people of Nineveh and animals dying. 

Several times the phrase “go down” is used.  He went down into the ship, down to Joppa, down into the fish. Several uses of personification are used as well. In verse 4 the original reflects that the ship was thinking or considering breaking up. It is a very interesting book that uses several literary devices in order to help the reader have certain characteristics of the story emphasized in certain ways

We need to see this theme in Jonah:  God’s sovereign compassion in the midst of man’s decisions.

Think about all the moves Jonah made and then the moves God makes sovereignly:

  • God’s prophet runs.
  • God brings pagan sailors to himself because of Jonah running.

  • Jonah runs.
  • God creates a storm and prepares a fish to be on call to swallow Jonah.

  • Jonah delivers an 8 word message.
  • God uses that 8 word message to bring an entire pagan city to repentance toward God.

  • Jonah sat outside the city to watch the explosion of the city (popcorn and soda in hand).
  • God builds a plant then destroys it with a worm.

God’s Compassion to the sailors. Those poor sailors they have to throw out all the cargo. How are they shown compassion? It could have been worse they could have died even though they were pagan. Pagan sailors acknowledged Gods sovereignty and they feared him with a great fear and offered him sacrifice and gave vowels. They may have really truly come to God.

God’s Compassion to Nineveh. Nineveh is described as a great city that has great wickedness, but God doesn’t destroy them.

God’s Compassion toward Jonah. He spares his life. He also gives Jonah shade. More than anything He shows great mercy even though Jonah is opposing God’s will for his life.

Here is the application for us. God uses wicked and sinful people to accomplish his purposes, like us. He is God and we are not. Often we seek our own wills rather than the will of God. We believe our decisions surpass God’s, so we sin.  However, even when we seek our own will God is continuously compassionate and merciful to us.  He sovereignly overcomes our bad decisions and works good through us. We can be condemning, critical, selfish, and uncompassionate to people around us. Consider the key verses of the book of Jonah which are 4:10-11, And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Asked another way, Isn’t God a better decision maker than you because His character is better than yours? Who is the god of your life, you or Him?

Prayer Questions

  • Are there any Christians I will not forgive?
  • Are there any unbelievers I refuse to love?
  • Is there anything in my life that I am choosing my sovereignty over God’s?
  • Are there any current events that I am struggling to entrust to God over what I think should happen?
  • Who do I need to pray for asking God to bring them to salvation?
  • Talk to God about how you have seen his sovereignty in your decisions recently or in the past.
  • Praise the Lord for his specific acts of compassion and rulership to you over the past years.
  • Specially praise God for the Gospel where He has shown His Lordship and compassion in your life!

21 Days of Prayer (Day #5)

Thursday (3/18/21)

Prayer that is Oriented to Others (Hunter Addison)

Acts 20:28 tells us that the church of God is those “which he obtained with his own blood.” The church is the blood-bought people of God. A people who you and I are a part of. We see the love of God demonstrated toward us on the cross (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10). But we also see Christ’s love for us demonstrated through his prayers for us and for those who will embrace him as Savior. Consider the words of Jesus in John 17:9, 20-21.

John 17:9 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. . .”

Furthermore, as a believer we understand that the hope of our salvation is directly connected to the ongoing intercession of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:25). Consider what Paul says in Romans 8:34

Romans 8:34 “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

It is easy to see the way in which Jesus’s life is oriented toward us on the cross, but have you considered the way our Savior is oriented toward us in his prayers? Jesus was committed to accomplishing our redemption on the cross in perfect obedience to His Father. We could say Jesus prioritized not Himself but you and me (Philippians 2:5-11). And His prayer life is a direct reflection of that priority. Jesus prays for our unity, our faith, and is currently interceding for us at this moment as our high priestly advocate, and He does all of this on the basis of his perfect sacrifice for us. We can conclude from this that whatever you prioritize will shape and drive your prayer life. As you consider this amazing truth consider how your priorities are shaping your prayers. Jesus loves you with such a love that he died for you and continually lives to make intercession for you as your advocate. What brother of sister in Christ do you love with this same Christ-like love? Furthermore, who are living to make intercession for in your prayers? Our priorities shape our prayers and Jesus transforms our priorities.

Below is a list of Paul’s prayers. Read through these in one sitting, if possible, and ask yourself what Paul prioritized and how did those priorities shape his prayers. You will not regret praying with Paul.

• Rom. 1:8-10
• Rom 10:1
• Rom 12:12
• Rom 15:5-6
• Rom 15:13
• Rom 15:30-33
• 1 Cor 1:4-9
• 1 Cor 16:23
• 2 Cor. 1:3-7
• 2 Cor 2:14-16
• 2 Cor 9:12-15
• 2 Cor 12:7-9a
• 2 Cor 13:7-9
• Gal 6:18
• Eph 1:3
• Eph 1:15-23
• Eph 3:14-21
• Eph 6:19-20
• Phil 1:3-6
• Phil 1:9-11
• Phil 4:6-7
• Phil 4:23
• Col 1:3-14
• 1 Thess 1:2-3
• Col 4:2-4
• 1 Thess 2:13-16
• 1 Thess 3:9-13
• 1 Thess 5:23-24
• 1 Thess 5:28
• 2 Thess 1:3
• 2 Thess 1:11-12
• 2 Thess 2:16-17
• 2 Thess 3:2-5
• 2 Thess 3:16
• 1 Tim 1:12
• 1 Tim 2:1
• 2 Tim 1:3-7
• 2 Tim 1:16-18
• 2 Tim 4:22
• Titus 3:15
• Philem 4-7
• Philem 25

21 Days of Prayer (Day #4)

(3/17/2021)

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

What? How is it possible to be brought up in the shadow of the mighty works of God, to have lived around men like godly men such as Joshua and Caleb, and then for it to be said, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel? How is that possible?

How is it possible that we have a young generation (Gen Z: Born 1999-2015) right now in our churches, including BCBC, that have grown up under the teaching of the Word of God on Sundays, perhaps educated in a Christian school or home-schooled, attended weekly children’s ministries and they do not have a heart for God nor for the things of God? How is that possible?

How is it possible that this generation has never seen a lost sinner genuinely transformed by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in salvation (Titus 3:4-7; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10)? Perhaps all they have heard are the old stories of salvation and transformation but nothing recent, fresh and grace-born!

Today, I want to call us to pray for GOD’S INCREASE in the hearts of our Gen Z young people!! In this time of prayer, let’s go boldly to the Throne of Grace on behalf of our young folks from ages 4-21.

  • Pray that our young people will truly be transformed, regenerated believers.
  • Pray that our young people will come to know the heart of God (Psalm 42:1) and have a passion for Christ over happiness in worldly, temporal things/goals.
  • Pray that our young people’s eyes will be “opened to the fact that sin isn’t a Christianese catch phrase; it’s a reality that shows up in our daily lives” and that they will know through the Word how to conqueror sin (Psalm 119:9-11; Ephesians 6:10-18).
  • Pray that our young people will have first person accounts in their lives of the work of God.
  • Pray that our young people will be like the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times but desired also to know what Israel ought to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). Point being, that our young folks would desire more to know what God would have them do than what is happening on social media or the culture is offering.
  • Pray that the parents of our young people will be more about knowing, loving, and obeying God (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18) than chasing and fulfilling worldly desires.
  • Pray that the Word of God will have the most preeminent and prominent place in the discussion and discipleship of our homes; even as parents confront the difficult subjects of our culture and world (Psalm 119)
  • Pray that our young people will see and experience a real walk with Christ on a daily basis as opposed to seeing Christianity as “Sunday only.” Pray that they will see radical transformed, obedient adults!

May For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21) be said by our young people rather than the words of Judges 2:10.

21 Days of Prayer (Day #3)

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:1-10

If you read the Bible with a sensitive heart, you will often be overwhelmed with the great difficulty of many of its commands: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33). “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). The list could go on and on. How can we possibly obey these seemingly impossible commands of Scripture?
The disciples felt overwhelmed by Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:1-4. He told them to be on guard so that they would not cause any young believers in Him to stumble. And He said that if their brother sinned, they were to rebuke him and if he repented they were to forgive him, no matter how often the cycle was repeated. The disciples instantly realized that these were tough demands. To walk uprightly so as not to cause a new believer to stumble and to forgive someone who has wronged us are not automatic behaviors! Forgiveness especially is tough because our feelings are involved. So the disciples respond by asking the Lord to increase their faith (17:5). It was an honest request stemming from the right motives. They saw that if they wanted to fulfill these demands, they would have to have God’s strength and enabling to do it.
But Jesus’ answer (17:6) indicates that more faith is not really the issue. Faith is not measured by its quantity, but simply by its presence. A mustard seed sized faith will accomplish impossible things. The real need, Jesus says (17:7-10), is for more obedience and humility. We should view ourselves as God’s slaves who owe Him simple and unquestioning obedience. And, when we have done what He requires, we should not get puffed up with pride in our great obedience, but should simply say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.” Thus …
When we encounter the difficult commands of Scripture, we should not focus on more faith, but on more obedience and humility. (Steven Cole)

In prayer today, let us focus on “Lord, increase my obedience as I humbly submit to You, Your authority and Your great love for me.”

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the commands of Scripture you are not obeying?
  • In addition, read again through the commands given in the first paragraph of this devotional.
  • Confess your disobedience (1 John 1:9).
  • Cast all your fears, excuses, doubts, laziness, whatever you are choosing as stumbling blocks of disobedience at the feet of Jesus (1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Submit to the Word and “step into the water” (Joshua 3:8).
  • Bottom line, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15). Make the connection here with abiding love from our 1 John 4:7-21 study.

“Lord, increase our obedience!”

21 Days of Prayer (Day #2)

Yesterday, you spent time in awe of God’s greatness as you meditated on Psalm 145. Oh, how I trust your time in His loving, holy presence was rich and full of grace and glory!!

Psalm 100:4 exhorts us to enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! As you launch into prayer each day on this journey, be sure to spend time praising God for His holiness, goodness, patience, and other attributes. Then, thank God for His blessings and be specific . This morning, use Psalms 100 and 103 to begin your week with praise and thanksgiving.

Here’s an example using Psalm 100

  • Sing a hymn of praise to the Lord (100:1-2).
  • Praise the LORD for His attributes, naming them and sharing why from your heart they are meaningful to you right now (100:3).
  • Praise the LORD for how He will shepherd you this week (100:3).
  • Thank Him for at least ten specific things He has done in the past 24 hours (100:4)
  • Talk to the LORD out of your love relationship with Him as you rejoice in His goodness, His steadfast love, and His faithfulness (100:5).

Now share your requests with the Lord, and before you do, let me ask, “How will your fresh encounter of praise and thanksgiving effect your time of supplication?”

May your prayer life be one of INCREASE today because you have chosen the best part (Luke 10:42).