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Equipping Your Reimagine Journey

Excerpts from "Discipline of the Disciple" by John Hoelzel on Amazon.com

How did Jesus do it?

It’s always good to learn from Jesus for several reasons.  He pleased God the Father so completely that God the Father affirmed Him several times, like Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”  Jesus also provides us a sinless pattern to follow in His steps.  He said that John 12:47 "If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn't take it seriously, I don't reject him. I didn't come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I'm saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I'm not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That's all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you."  Jesus modeled obedience to the Father and disciple-making, along with the eventual benefits of persistence.

So here are 5 things Jesus did with His disciples looking on.  He spent some time with crowds and equipping His disciples to reach many, but His main work was discipling the 12 and the 3 – every day, without fail.  The secret to successful discipling is spending time together, modeling, living spiritual experiences together; i.e. learning by doing together, like Jesus & the 3!

  1. Told Everyone the Good News (Gospel)
  1. Taught Many (5,000 and the 4,000)
  1. Trained Some (Seventy sent out 2 x 2)
  2. Equipped a Few (the 3 and the 12)
  3. Modeled a Relationship with the Father

Another way to contrast this is to say that as great as Jesus’ mountain-top teaching was (e.g. His ‘Sermon on the Mount’) when the disciples had to live on their own when Jesus was gone, they mainly remembered their 1:1 time with Him.  For more on this profound comparison, refer to Reference [2].

Discussion: In your opinion, which is generally more effective in lasting kingdom work, a great preacher or evangelist, or someone who spends 1:1 time discipling others?  Why?

Private Time with God

You can’t give away (or sell) what you don’t have.  To elaborate on what we said in the section title Past, you have to reach out and take Jesus and His payment for your sin, by faith, or it really is not in your spiritual bank account for you to spend.  My daughter used to go with me to downtown Dallas Union Gospel Mission.  She would ask to stop, go in and buy a candy bar.  At the mission she would approach street men on the front row, extend the candy bar to each one in turn and ask them to take it.  Some were not sure they should, but finally one would take it.  “It’s yours to enjoy” she would respond.  “You must reach out by faith and take Christ personally as your savior before you can KNOW you have eternal life based on His payment for all on the cross.”  Similarly you must spend daily private time with God and His Word to let Him disclose His love letters to you, and to spend intimate time with “your daddy.”  Reference [3] outlines many ways to do this, since people are different.  I prefer praying; reading a few verses, writing in a notebook a paraphrase of them in my own words, praying, and then writing a personal application for those verses (often a prayer).  I must do this first when I get up, or most often something will interrupt and distract me. 

Discussion: How has your Quiet Time worked or not worked for you? 

Prayer

Private prayer is essential as mentioned in our Quiet Time above.  Actually as we grow we learn to pray without ceasing throughout our day, both listening and speaking in our communication with God.  He hears the prayer of our heart, independent of moving lips.  As we sharpen our conscience through experiencing the 9 fruit of the Spirit, learning obedience and sensitivity to the Spirit, and confession of sin, our communication with God improves.  Prayer is the root of all successful spiritual work, including discipleship.

Reference [4 ] is an excellent book on prayer to help us grow in the 6 aspects of prayer below that are taken from that book.

Prayer Aspect

Nature of the Prayer

God’s Aspect

Benefits

Confession

Responding to …

God’s Holiness

Restores our fellowship & enables other areas of prayer effectiveness

Worship

Responding to …

God’s Glory

Gives God His due and helps us stand in awe of Him

Praise

Responding to …

God’s Attributes

Ignites our joy and strength

Thanksgiving

Responding to …

God’s Riches

Keeps us from taking God for granted

Petition

Asking that is led by …

My Heavenly Father

Humbles me and keeps me honestly in touch with my needs

Intercession

Asking that is led by …

My Master

Prepares me to serve and help others & takes my focus off myself

Another excellent prayer motivator is the DVD and study booklet [5] from Brooklyn Tabernacle that graphically shows personal transformations and church growth through prayer.  And yet another prayer motivator is the slides [6] I present to churches and groups to help individuals grow, mature, and enjoy God’s special prayer provisions for us.

Discussion: Spend a few minutes comparing the two columns in the House of Prayer table below [8].  Circle on each row the number in the left or right column that seems most like your church.  Use this information to place a 1/2/3 in the left of the 3 rows where it appears your church could improve most.

"My House shall be called a House of Prayer " Matthew 21:13

PRAYER MINISTRY

HOUSE OF PRAYER

 

 

  1. Limited number of people involved.
  2. Entire congregation involved.
  3. Prayer is done by a select few and the responsibility is always put on them to pray.
  4. Entire congregation takes ownership for doing their “prayer share.” 
  5. Little or no regular emphasis from the pulpit.
  6. Teaching from the pulpit and priority is placed on prayer by the pastor.
  7. Very little training offered in prayer.
  8. Classes and special opportunities on a regular basis offered on prayer.
  9. Vision for church growth in prayer is limited.  Contented with only a few praying. 2nd 9 go to Right column!
  10. Concept of “prayer band” has grown to larger vision of “prayer army.”
  11. Only a few leaders attend prayer meetings with no regular commitment.  A few carry the burden to pray.
  12. All leaders, staff and lay persons have a burden for prayer.
  13. Church groups open meetings with prayer as a main agenda item.
  14. Groups spend time praying together and set times of prayer in addition to regular meetings.
  15. Something lacking in church atmosphere because prayer is feeble.
  16. There is a fresh flowing atmosphere of the Holy Spirit due to whole church praying.
  17. Prayer opportunities limited for members to have the freedom to pray.
  18. There is a natural flow of prayer going on throughout the church.
  19. Prayer ministry staff is not recognized as viable part of church staff.
  20. Paid/or volunteer prayer minister and staff in place.

 

Staying in love with Jesus

Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) wrote a book [8] on staying in love with Jesus.  If you think your initial love has lessened, please consider reading this and letting it rekindle the flame.  For me there are 3 main elements to keep the flame burning bright: (1) Daily Quiet Time, (2) Daily learning to pray without ceasing, and (3) daily reporting for duty with a “get to” attitude to receive assignments and God working in and through me to show me His will and empower me to do it!

Recently I traveled to visit an 86 year old lady that had fallen and cracked her hip a second time.  I took lunch for her and her grown son.  Not long after we started talking and reminiscing she asked out the blue, “how is your love life?”  I immediately replied that I find I am more in love with Jesus every day.  My wife died a year and a half ago, but God has kept me busy as His way of helping fill that void.  Obviously time spent together daily, and good and honest communication are key ingredients to fan the flame of His love initiative and our passionate response.

Here are a couple of ideas to fan the flame of your love for Jesus.  Praying according to the dimensions listed above like worship, praise, thanksgiving, and intercession can rekindle our joy in the Lord that can quickly progress to increased love for Him.  Also our obedience to Him in serving others can similarly blaze a path of increased love for Him.  Personal revival can be simply defined as our experience of an increased love for Jesus.

Discussion: As honestly as possible, please discuss or pray privately about the progression of your love life with Jesus.

What does discipleship mean to you?

As we continue to sharpen our focus on discipleship we need to personally focus on what that means to each one of us.  We know that Jesus prayed and invited 12 disciples to “come follow me and I will turn you into fishers of men.”  Amazingly to me these unlearned men immediately (without excuses or equivocation) left the fishing nets, lucrative tax collecting, homes and comfort zones to “follow the Master” and learn from Him as His disciple.  They spent time (24x7x3 years) with Him.  His leadership style was to show and tell, but much differently than most of us would do. 

He showed (demonstrated) things like prayer with such recognizable results, that after awhile, they asked Him, “teach us to pray.”  He then succinctly verbalized a model prayer as a template example to guide their prayers.  In contrast to the way Jesus did it, most of us would likely have called a meeting to discuss prayer or have started a class or lecture series on prayer.

He told them truth mostly as it came up during their travels and discussions.  Often such teaching came when He needed to correct their thinking, speaking, or action, i.e. offering opportunity for them to make personal changes to get back on track.  He was willing to patiently repeat such teaching and give examples and stories (simple parables taken from everyday life) that you could only miss if you were set in your own ways (and motives) in opposition to God.

Many of us would agree that a disciple follows his mentor or master to learn from him in order to become more like him, including becoming more able to achieve results similar to his teacher.  Jesus’ disciples at first had major difficulty understanding His goals and objectives since they often got hung up on their own earthly purposes that obscured what He was teaching about spiritual things.  Especially in the Gospel of John, Jesus promises that disciple and disciple-making fruit comes as a result of disciples “abiding in Him and His love” and He and His word “abiding in us.”  This is similar to the Hebrews 4 instructions about resting (ceasing from our own works), believing or trusting in Jesus and His word, and lastly partnering wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and energetically with Him as we “strive to enter into His rest” of seeing and doing His will.

So at this point let’s stop and discuss: how we became interested in being a disciple of Jesus; have we received any “calling” to follow Him; what intensity do we feel about this (e.g. where does discipleship fit in our list of personal priorities); and what are one or two main objectives we are focused on in our discipleship?

Discussion: This is your opportunity to discuss the above questions and to firm up what you want to achieve through discipleship, as well as what you think God has in mind for you.  For you to have participated so far in this discussion you must have some ideas about discipleship purposes.  For example who has so far helped you most to become more like Jesus?  Is that a major goal of yours?  This can give you clues about who to look to as you future mentor.  This is also a major chance to ask questions to sharpen your goals and focus as a disciple of Christ, and to discuss current or future fruit by which you can measure progress with the help of others.

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