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 #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 #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!”

Ram & Rich Toward God

Dodge Ram Old blue - Drivn
Not the actual truck but close.

To him, it was his “pride & joy”! Yes sir, the body needing a paint job and perhaps calling for a bit of other repairs, and not set up with dual diesel exhausts to blow people off the road as he passed by; it didn’t matter; it was his truck! 1989 Dodge Ram truck!

He pulled up beside me in the parking lot, jumped out of his truck, turned the hood ornament around on his hood due to being pranked, and then proceeded to join in conversation as we headed down the hill to meet up with other men for lunch at a weekend retreat.

Earlier in the morning, he had struck a good chord in my heart when he came up after I had spoken to the men about being a discipling husband. “Pastor, you gave the married men instructions about their God & I Time that applied to them. How about me as an unmarried teen?” Wow! A 17 year old, polite, respectful, trucker-hat wearin’, all-American good ol’ boy, desiring to apply the Word to his life!!!

Laster on as we walked down the hill to lunch, I shared with him some biblical counsel about dating and marriage as a follow up to our morning sessions. He listened intently as did his buddy. He took it to heart and in a few days acted upon it. Wow! A young man listening to someone 45 years older and then responding to the Word in a God-glorifying way!

This young man reminds me of the opposite of what I read in Luke 12:13-21 this morning. In the parable of the rich fool, Jesus tells how the fool laid up treasure for himself, so much so that he was planning on tearing down his barns which were insufficient and building bigger ones that would aid his life of ease. Then comes these telling words in verses 20-21, But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” This 17 year old young man has much more to learn in his growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), but I will say for right now, he is becoming a man rich toward God (12:21).

He wasn’t driving an $85,000 new 2021 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel which would make him “look” rich, be a treasure for himself and impress his friends. He may desire one, but his greater desire that day, and I trust in the days to come was to be rich toward God. May his tribe increase!!

By the way, I liked his truck, too!

Let’s Have a Monday!

Sunrise in the country.

How sad that so many in the world look at the second day of the week, Monday, as a downer, a negative. How many times have you heard someone respond to a bad day or rough situation as “I’ve had a MONDAY!”?

For born again believers, Mondays should be a launching pad for a week of ministry, a week of walking with Christ! Having gathering on Sunday around the person of Jesus Christ by singing, by praying, by participating in corporate worship, by fellowship, by responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the preached Word, by confession of sin, and by being encouraged to see Christ live His life out through us each day should cause us to arise on Monday morning ready to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 34:1-3, and Ephesians 4:12-16, 5:19, Colossians 1:15-18.

In particular, today, on this Monday, when someone inquires about your weekend, what will you say?

Will you share what God taught you about Himself, about Christ, and/or about yourself? Will you talk about the song lyric the Holy Spirit used to cause you to rejoice? Will you honestly share how you repented and changed via the conviction of the Holy Spirit through hearing the proclamation of God’s Word? Will you share how blessed it was to pray with a hurting brother or sister in Christ? Will you make much of the greatness of your God, the blessing of walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the joy of the Holy Spirit?

Mondays are created by God. Mondays are as fresh and new as Christ is because we walk every day in newness of life in and through Christ (Romans 6:1-14). As my friend Evangelist Ron Lynch says, “Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you (Galatians 2:20).

So, today, let’s have a “MONDAY” in Christ!!

The Best Place to Go With Your Wife

Aierdi farmhouse in the Basque region of northern Spain.

My wife and I have been blessed to travel to many beautiful places in this world (Israel, Spain, Alaska, Maine, British Columbia, to name a few). Each location has afforded us some very special memories and excitement!

The best place that we have ever gone in our married lives, and we have gone there many, many, many times in our almost 40 years together as husband and wife is . . . The Throne of Grace (Hebrews. 4:16). The view from there is eternal, true, hope-filled, majestic, and absolutely transcendent.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Husband, Your Wife Needs You, sir, your wife is longing, perhaps crying out in prayer, for you to be her loving, servant leader, daily pointing her to Christ. Without reservation, I believe that joining with your wife in prayer is the best way to disciple her and sanctify her as her loving, serving Christlike leader (Ephesians 5:18-33).

Husbands, you should be the leader in prayer in both your marriage and your home, rather than your wife.
Luke 18:1 – Men ought always to pray and not to faint!
1 Timothy 2:8 – I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting
1 Peter 3:7 – Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
James 5:16 – Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Men, your wife will embrace the security she longs for when you take her by the hands, kneel before her or sit beside her on the couch and pray with her at the Throne of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, living, holy God!

  1. Ask God to help you pray with your spouse. Ask Him to give you the desire to pray with her, the place, the words and the wisdom.
    1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hear us: And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
  2. Set some goals & boundaries. a) Keep it short if praying with her is a challenge for you, or if this is new to you. b) Keep is simple. Just talk to the Lord about what is on her heart and yours. c) Keep it safe. Don’t air out your offenses against your wife in prayer. This is not a time to fight, but to surrender in humility. d) Keep it supportive. Show great care in prayer before your wife and the One Who invites you to cast all your care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
  3. Keep it fresh
    a) Pray Scripture. b) Pray before you leave for work. c) Change up meal prayers. d) Pray when a need arises; when she has a burden. e) Pray during a conflict; it’s hard to be mad when you are holding hands praying. f) Pray before you go to sleep at night. Make a call to pray with her even when out of town. g) Use prayer reminders (i.e. post it note on the fridge, mirror). h) Send your wife to a Ladies Prayer Advance i) Share your answers to prayer!!! j) Spend time in prayer just praising and thanking God. Make no requests. Try it and see how quickly you lapse into requests! k) Pray back-and-forth. Husband prays about something, then the wife, then the husband and then wife, etc. That’s really praying with one heart united in purpose. You see, prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Husbands, your wife needs you to pray with her and for her; to go with her to the Throne of Grace. After all, you are one flesh, right?

“Prayer makes a godly man, and puts within him the mind of Christ, the mind of humility, of self-surrender, of service, of pity, and of prayer. If we really pray, we will become more like God, or else we will quit praying.” – E.M. Bounds


Husband! Your Wife Needs You!

How does she need you? She is longing, perhaps crying out in prayer, for you to be her loving, servant leader daily pointing her to Christ.

How many times I have seen the wife leading the home because the husband will not take the lead. Sometimes the husband wants to lead but his wife won’t let him. Neither are submissive to God first so they can live out Ephesians 5:18-33.

Could it be, men, that you are making decisions all day at work, and you are just worn out and weary of that role when you get home? Maybe the home you grew up in did not manifest this kind of leadership. Perhaps you will be willing to say, “I need help before I can help lead my wife.” May I offer some suggestions?

The best way for a man to lead his wife is through a discipling model. What does that look like? Let’s consider one aspect of that today with more to come in future blogposts.

Disciple your wife in the Word of God.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body (Ephesians 5:25-30).

Understanding that what I am about to describe to you will not happen, the following scenario motives me to loving discipleship of my precious wife. Using the analogy from the Ephesians passage above, just as the Church will one day, indeed, be presented to Christ in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, I picture myself holding my wife in my arms (which I still can do, btw) and presenting her to Christ, a lady who has been nourished and cherished in discipleship by me, her husband. I long to “present” my wife, my bride, to the Lord having done all to point her to Christ; to have given her every opportunity to grow in Christ; to have encouraged her in every way to be like Christ.

Leading my wife to Christ is the most important part of being her husband. In eternity, all the temporal things given to her will not matter (Proverbs 31:30; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-4).

Husbands, consider the following suggestions:

  • As you read and study the Word, be sure to share with your wife what God has been teaching you.
  • You could read a devotional book together in the morning before you head off for work. If your departure time is before she gets up, then call her on your first break and read the devo on the phone or read a portion of God’s Word on the phone and discuss it.
  • Take your wife to church every Sunday so she can hear the Word preached.
  • Read a good book together; perhaps one on marriage, prayer, communication, conflict.
  • Make sure she attends a ladies’ conference periodically to be refreshed, revived, and encouraged in her walk with God.
  • Participate in a small group Bible study today. Even if your wife has been a believer longer than you have, she needs you to lead her spiritually.
  • Don’t leave Christ at home when you go on vacation. Make your vacation a time of revival and renewal in your walk with the Lord. Choosing a Bible preaching church on Sunday is more important than your choice of vacation spot, restaurants and recreation.
  • Bring your wife her coffee, etc. in the morning so she can be encouraged to be in the Word.
  • Perhaps you have your “man-cave,” but make sure she has her place where she meets with the Lord every day.

Husbands, your wife needs you! Begin by discipling her today, leading her to Christ.

(The lake picture is taken from a house where Denise and I have the blessed grace privilege of going periodically to meet with the Lord to pray, study and grow together.)

A Husband’s Discipling Leadership

Husband! Your wife needs you!!

How does she need you? She is crying out for you to be her loving, servant leader! And, if you have sons, they really need dad to lead in the home!

How many times I have seen the wife leading the home or the husband wanting to lead the home but the wife won’t let him or the husband refusing to “step up to the plate” and lead.

Could it be that you are making decisions all day at work, and you are weary of fulfilling that role when you get home? Perhaps you came from a home where loving, servant leadership was not on display. Maybe, you would admit that you really don’t know how to lead.

May I offer some suggestions, some help?

The best way for a man to lead his wife is through a discipling model. What does that look like?

  1. Lead your wife in prayer. More than being the leader in prayer for your meals, Pray with her in the morning before you leave for work. Pray with her at the moment she shares a burden with you. Pray with her over the phone when she is away visiting family, attending a ladies’ event or just from the office. Share your prayer burdens as well as your answers to prayer with her. Hold hands and pray with her every night before drifting off to sleep. The greatest place you could ever go with your wife is to the Throne of Grace together in prayer (Psalm 16:8; Hebrews 4:16).
  2. Lead your wife in the Word of God. As you read and study the Word, be sure to share with your wife what God has been teaching you. You could read a devotional book together in the morning before you head off for work. If your departure time is before she gets up, then call her on your first break and read the devo on the phone or read a portion of God’s Word on the phone and discuss it. Take your wife to church every Sunday so she can hear the Word preached. Read a good book together. Make sure she attends a ladies’ conference periodically to be refreshed, revived, and encouraged in her walk with God. Participate in a small group Bible study. Even if you wife has been a believer longer than you have, she needs you to lead her spiritually. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body (Ephesians 5:25-30).

Wives, may I say, let your husband lead. Encourage him. Build him up. Even if he doesn’t do it the way you think he should, be thankful for any advancement. Sometimes this is just rough territory for a man. Pray earnestly for him and love him! Trust a sovereign, omnipotent God to do His work in your husband’s heart. Remember, try as you may, you cannot change him. (If your husband does lead in your home, rejoice, encourage him, keep praying for him, follow him and be his biggest cheerleader!)

More on this discipling leadership in another post to come. In the meantime, may you both surrender to Christ working through you to accomplish His plan and purpose in your marriage. Because the tomb is empty, you have hope!

What an Evening!!

It happened again last night. Three couples gathered on our back porch and had a special evening of fellowship, exhortation, encouragement, edification, laughter, tears, and sharing.

What made it such an awesome evening? Was it the back porch setting? How about the beautiful sunset? Perhaps the delicious cake and coffee? Could it have been the stories that were told? Indeed, all of these things played an important role.

So, what was the ingredient that made the evening so rich? Simply this . . . three couples gathered around the Word of God.

It happens every week. We open our Bibles, read through a passage of Scripture, and then work our way through the verses letting the Holy Spirit teach us in context, observation, interpretation and application. Never do we share “what we think the passage says,” but as the Author intended for us to understand. As the leader, I simply ask questions, explain some words, and guide the discussion, but it is the Word does the work.

Our lives have been so enriched by the Word! We have come to relish our familial relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word! The honesty and transparency has risen each week because of the Word! Then our time of prayer is one of precious communion prepared by the Word!

Whether you are involved in a small group or it’s just you and your spouse or your family or with your co-worker at lunch or in the church building on Sunday, the best gathering is always around the Word of God!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Already looking forward to the next time we gather . . . around the Word!