Teaching Them to Obey…

10 07 2016

 

With_His_Disciples027

 

 

Can we have eternal life and not know God? Can we have eternal life and not be known by God? Can we have eternal life and not be a part of the family of God? You are wondering where this is heading, I am sure. But actually that is a very relevant and common question in Christianity. I am just posing it in a provocative manner. In my second post on making disciples, I am going to deal with a point we stumble on in Western Christianity that keeps us from BEING disciples and making disciples. If you read my first post in the series you know that I state you cannot make a disciple, if you are not a disciple. Most of us that call ourselves Christians in the West, have never heeded the call to discipleship. Not being a disciple, of course, means we could never make a disciple. If you read my post on Facebook or on my blogs, you know that I have a common theme when addressing this topic. If you are not a disciple, then you are something Jesus never called men to be and never sent men out to make. You are something else. If you have not read my blog post titled, You Cannot Make a Disciple if you are Not a Disciple, you might start there, before reading this one, to really be on track with me. But, if not, this stands alone pretty well in it’s message.

Discipleship: Commands of the King
In my previous post on making disciples I emphasized that you cannot make a disciple unless you “are” a disciple. Again, I recommend you read that post on this blog. You must heed the call yourself to become a disciple before you can actually make a disciple. That sounds simple but the call to discipleship cost everything. Jesus gets to be the one to define discipleship. And in Luke 14, Matthew 10 and Luke 9 the call is total surrender. Clearly, we must lose our lives for His sake, to save it. Jesus said so.

Most of us, when talking about making disciples are doing so because of Matthew 28.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are all quick to notice in this day and time that He did not say, make converts, make believers, make reciters of sinners prayers and we are quick to point out that disciples is what Jesus wanted. And I, of course, agree. But we miss one important point. “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded YOU.” Hmmm, interesting. We are to teach men to obey everything that Jesus commanded the disciples to obey. Now Jesus commanded some pretty radical things. Turning the other cheek, laying up NO treasure on earth and caring for the least of these, come to mind immediately. They come to mind because we don’t do them. Let me say this. If you are a disciple then you obey King Jesus. If you are not obeying Him, then you are not His disciple. And again, you cannot make a disciple, if you are not a disciple. Now I will write about obeying and understanding the specific radical commands of Jesus later. But for now, I want you to understand something. Like me, you most likely have been taught that Jesus did not really mean what He said on any and all hard commands. If you have commentaries on your book shelf, then I urge you to stay away from them on this topic. Turns out that if you believe the theologians, you will follow absolutely none of Jesus’ hard teachings. They go so far as to say Jesus did not really mean any of the things He plainly taught. Modern Western Christianity has dismissed everything King Jesus commanded for the sake of fitting in with the world and for the specific intent of not paying the high cost Jesus called us to pay. Our easy believing gospel looks nothing like the teachings of Jesus. We run to proof text Paul, so that we can flee the yoke of the only Master worthy of our devotion. Jesus. Somehow, we proof text Paul to cancel Jesus. But as you will see, Paul would says such a person understands nothing.

Today, I want to look specifically at the importance of obeying Jesus commands. I do this, because, it is a core principle in the Great Commission. If the Great Commission is to be followed it must be followed as it is stated. Most “go” and tell people about Jesus. A few try to make “disciples”, but the Great Commission also instructs us to teach them to obey, the commands Jesus gave the Apostles. It is my contention that the teaching of the commands of Jesus is foundational to being and thus making disciples.

I am going to start in the most unlikely of places when talking of Jesus commands. What does Paul say about the teachings of Jesus?

1 Timothy 6:3-4
If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words.

Paul is clearly endorsing Jesus teachings and now let’s look at what Jesus and the other writers say.

What does Jesus say about obeying His commands?

John 12:46-50
I have come as light into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them I do not judge him; for did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings, has one who will judge him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. ….. I speak just as the Father has told me.

According to Jesus we see some startling things in this verse. The first that jumps out is that if we hear His sayings and do not keep them we will be judged. Then, we see that if we do not receive Jesus sayings then we are rejecting Him. Did you get that? Reject His sayings, and you reject Him. Finally, we will be judged by His sayings on the last day and these sayings, came straight from the Father. Bet you have never heard that in a sermon before.

People love to quote John 3:16 and say all you have to do is believe. But in the text above the question becomes, believe what? According to Jesus, if we reject His teachings, we reject Him. So many say they “believe” in Jesus but don’t do what He says. 1 John 2:3 says that if we say we know Him, but don’t obey Him, then we are a liar. Between John and Jesus we get a pretty clear message. Oh, but there is more. Read on down from our beloved John 3:16 all the way to John 3:36 and we find this…… he that believes has eternal life, he that does not obey, will not see life. We don’t hear that one quoted much. But now let me ask you a question.

Will we have eternal life if we don’t know Him? What if He does not know us? What if we are not in His family? Turns out Jesus has some interesting things to say about this. Let’s look at how Jesus, defines, His family, friends and those that truly love Him.

Jesus defines His family:

Matthew 12
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
49 Stretching out His hand toward His disciples He said, “Behold, My mother, My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus defines His friends:

John 15:14
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Jesus defines those that love Him:

John 14:15
If you love me you will keep my commandments.
John defines those that know Him:

1 John 2:3-4
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep Hs commandments. The one who says, I have come to know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar.

Jesus defines those that He knows:

Matt 7:21
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

So I ask a question. In eternity, will those that are not His family be there? How about those that don’t love Him? Perhaps He will bless those that don’t know Him. It seems that Jesus intends to acknowledge those that love Him and obey Him. There is no distinction. If you love Him, you obey Him. If you believe Him, you obey Him. If you are known by Him, you act on His words.

Hebrews 5:9, And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.

And He says that we are to make disciples teaching them to obey ALL that He commanded His disciples. So this is our second lesson in making disciples. It is another step in becoming a disciple yourself. You cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple. You are not related to God as He defines, family, friends, those that love Him or know Him unless you meet His standard. And His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Next lesson, we will actually look at the Kingdom and the actual commands. But for now this is my simple message in part two on making disciples.

You are not a disciple unless you obey Jesus commands and do the will of God. Belief and obedience are not divorced, as Western Christianity would like us to believe. Surely people preaching Jesus, casting out demons in Jesus’ name and performing miracles in Jesus name “believe” Him. But Jesus says He does not know them and then calls them lawless. Without law. What Law? The teachings and commands of Jesus are the laws of the Kingdom of God.

Let me close with this. I know you remember a verse in James. In James 2 we have the famous ” Faith without works is dead” quote. It is the bane of the reformers and hated by Luther. But read on. After making the point that there is a faith that is not saving faith, faith without works, James makes one of the most amazing claims in the bible and it concerns us and the devil.

He ask a question, “Do you believe in God? Good, even demons do”. Perhaps during James’ lifetime there were people that thought “only” believing was enough, just like in our lifetime. Seems like an out of place quote until you think about it. Let’s do that a minute. He, James, says, that faith without works is dead. He then ask if we believe and then notes, so do demons. Is he making a correlation? Hmmmm. Now demons follow Satan. I wondered, where do demons get their belief? Why, from the Devil, I assume. It occurred to me that the Devil knows that Jesus is the Son of God. Let’s be honest, the things we know, we also believe. He knows Jesus lived a sinless life, he believes and knows Jesus preformed miracles, the devil believes Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and was crucified and rose again. In fact the Devil not only believes those things, he knows them to be true. He believes all the facts of the atonement, all the orthodox beliefs of the Church. He believes everything that we say, is necessary to believe to be saved. He knows them and is certain they are true. But the bible tells us that the lake of fire is prepared for the devil and his angels and all that follow him. How can that be? He is a believer! Ah, but the devil has chosen to disobey, rebel and go his own way. What other point could James be making? And Jesus said on “that day” many will claim to have preached in His name, cast out demons in His name and done wonders. In His name. But Jesus will say, I never knew you. He says only those that DO the will of His Father are pleasing. And He says His commands came from the Father. Do you believe? So do demons.

Next up, what are the commands of Jesus and how does that relate the Kingdom of God a topic Jesus spoke of over 87 times and what are their implications.

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You Can’t Make a Disciple If You Are Not A Disciple

17 10 2015

With_His_Disciples027You cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple. If you are not a disciple, then you are something Jesus did not call men to become and something He never sent men out to make.  Jesus gets to set the criteria as to what  a disciple is.  We do not care what the dictionary or the lexicon says a disciple is.  We are addressing what Jesus says a disciple is.   Theologians don’t get to define discipleship, your pastor does not and neither do you and I. Jesus called men to become disciples repeatedly. Here is how He calls disciples and defines disciples.

Luke 14:

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Some translations render the closing statement, “whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Jesus not only came to make disciples but He also commanded disciples to go on and make more disciples. See the Great Commission. It is His method of expanding the Kingdom of God. But I really like the wording of the verse listed here.  “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has…”. Renounce. Not a word we hear in modern Christianity. To renounce something is to formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, a right or possession.  I have a question.  Have you formally renounced or abandoned your claim, your right to all but Christ.  Have you renounced your right to your own possessions, your own life and chosen Jesus and Him alone?

I am a disciple maker and that should excite you. It should excite you because, frankly, I am, really, just a regular guy.   I am a man of average intelligence, average education and like you, for most of my Christian life, no one ever trained me on how to make a disciple. I now understand, I could not make a disciple, because I was not even a disciple myself. I began to understand that I had not answered the call to be a disciple, because somewhere along the road after surrendering to the Lord Jesus, I was talked out of actually following Him. As a new believer, I read of giving up everything for Jesus.  But as I shared this understanding I was told by leaders and my peers that for various reasons, Jesus did not really mean all that “give up everything, and hate the world stuff”.  Seems He really just wanted me to be willing to be really committed, and not to actually live out that commitment.  Being a new believer, I assumed these experienced Christians knew what was best. I became like them.    About 6 years ago  I met  Marc Carrier, and  we began to discuss, the Kingdom of God, real discipleship and real disciple making. I read some books with a new perspective.  I came back to my original position of actually following Jesus.  I came to understand that I needed to “renounce” all else. For the first time it became clear that Jesus wanted my total allegiance. I had to abandon the rhetoric of Western Christianity and follow Jesus in order to heed the call to become a disciple and make disciples myself.  This was God’s Master Plan.

I am blessed to walk with  Marc as he disciples me,  because he is one of the only people I have ever met that is going to the lost, leading them into genuine repentance, faith and baptism and making disciples, that are making disciples.  Since that is the Great Commission, I am following his lead. I am sure there are many others making disciples. It would be awesome if you could find one and like me, learn from them. Trust me, you can’t do it Jesus’ way by using the internet.  You can’t do it from reading this post.  Sorry, I hope that was not your expectation.  Discipleship is  a personal interaction between a practitioner and an apprentice.

Most of us are not disciples ourselves.  We are  “just” believers. Some are bible teachers, pastors, construction workers, mothers and other professionals that think the transfer of information is making a disciple. We think the people we share with are disciples.  But neither them, nor most of us, have ever been given the call to become a disciple, nor chosen to pay the price of discipleship. Not formally anyway.  Of course, we do transfer information in making disciples, but that is only part of the process. You can go buy books on discipleship if you choose. But the books I have read are written by men that don’t actually “have” disciples.  Marc, actually has disciples that are making disciples. Now, after being discipled by Marc, I do too.  You can be and have disciples also, and I hope that is your intention. I assure you it is God’s intention for you.

First in Luke 14 we see how He defines a disciple or if you prefer we see the actual CALL to discipleship. He is not asking people to “get saved” believe in the price He will pay on Calvary, nor is He begging them to become a Christian. He does not even promise them heaven. No, He is calling them to give up EVERYTHING and come and follow Him.  He promises life now and it is called eternal life.

You and I were mostly taught one of two things. Either, everyone that is saved is a disciple or a person becomes a real disciple through study and prayer and a lifetime of slowly growing closer to Jesus.  Then in some super spiritual state,  some can somehow become so mature they are a disciple.   There are other fuzzy definitions and most don’t even think being a disciple is important. Jesus did. But our classroom, white board definitions, power point presentations and sermons are not the methods He used. Why don’t we look at what Jesus did? Why don’t we study the one that actually gave us the mission and made disciples that turned the world upside down, instead of some well meaning bible teacher that has never actually made a disciple, that has made a disciple.   Why don’t we look at Jesus first, before we do anything. I ask, why do we call Him Master and do not do what He commands or follow His methods? His first words after repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand, are these:  Follow Me. Why don’t WE answer the call to discipleship and call others to do the same?

I would like to ask you to make a very startling realization.  And that is that you have most likely never been told of the call to discipleship and thus have never heeded it. Like me, you need to come to a place to confess an obvious truth.  No one has ever called you to BE a disciple.  Thus you have never chosen to become one. You  think you want to be one.  You love Jesus.  You want to follow Him.  But you have been told you can’t or it is not important or that verses talking about grace and works somehow mystically erased everything the King of Kings commanded us to do.  I decided to become a disciple.  You may already be one.  But you must chose. Our calls to pray a prayer, believe the four spiritual laws, or a set of orthodox beliefs in order to go to heaven and be “saved” are seen no where in scripture, being practiced by  Jesus or the Apostles.  As a result, unlike Jesus, we can’t accomplish God’s plans using man’s methods. We use the culturally attractive, best practices of the latest fad to get the “unchurched” to come to our meetings, to occasionally listen in to a sermon while being entertained by lights, sound and a warm fuzzy message on how great we are or can be if we would  just “get saved”.  This was not Jesus way. Our warm and fuzzy call to the lost so they can go to heaven and have their “best life now”,  must be replaced with the call to surrender everything and take up your cross and follow Him. Jesus made a call and it was to come and die that you may live. No wonder people in the church will compromise on marriage, entertain pornography and fall sway to the whims of the world.  We call them to a nice easy and better life full of all the world has to offer with the added bonus of eternity at the end and some really cool people to hang with in church till then.  Contrast that to Jesus call to give up and renounce everything. For three centuries the church suffered in torture, refused to renounce their Lord and paid the ultimate price.  They were known for living holy lives, feeding the poor and their love for the least of these.  This is the fruit of a people called to discipleship.

Luke 14, and other text repeatedly make calls of total commitment. You must give up all and come and follow Him. It is hard to be confused when Jesus lays down the requirements and relates to us to hate or choose Him over every relationship in our life, take up an instrument of death and yes, give up everything, including ourselves and follow Him.

He does this  in Luke and again in Matthew 10:

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

And of course most of us never dropped our nets.  Andrew and Peter literally dropped their nets to follow Jesus.  Matthew got up from the tax collectors table and walked away. Zachias seems to remain  in his profession and reordered his priorities to the Kingdom of God.  But let’s be honest, many of us have fashioned our lives around our careers to such an extent they would need to be, almost literally,  blown up and started over again, to follow Jesus.  As a business owner I spent 80 hours a week working.  We spend the vast majority of our time, focusing on our careers and sleeping. Our spare time in the West is mostly spent entertaining ourselves or trying to replace purpose with “fun”.  God has a bigger plan.  And we are accountable to follow Him, not our self made plans.  I will tell you there is no joy like serving the King of Kings.  No adventure like obeying His will and commands.  One man stated once that we were made for the  Kingdom of God.  We were engineered to be happy, challenged and fulfilled walking the Kingdom way.

I spoke at a traditional church years ago.  I stepped down from the podium and pointed at a young man and ask him what he did.  What was his job?  A teacher, he replied.  I went around the room asking the question to others.  They answered,  doctor, salesman, administrator, student, intern, entrepreneur.  I then asked if they followed Jesus.  They all nodded.  I told them then, their job, their mandate, was to make disciples.  They only taught, studied, managed and ran their business to fund and provide for their true career. Making disciples.  I was not trying to make a point of semantics, but of a necessary priority change.  They needed to “drop their net” and follow Jesus.  For most in the building it would require a counting of the cost and a radical change in lifestyle. We glaze over verse after verse where Jesus calls for a radical lifestyle shift to follow Him and think, wow that is cool.  Jesus said some radical things, back in His day.  Then we act like they have nothing to do with us.  I have a new paradigm  for you.  Jesus meant them for you.  And I want to tell you that you need to renounce your current way of viewing the world, your career and yes that is your job I am talking about.  In the American culture sports, jobs, money and advancement are what we place the most time, energy and money on, in order to aquire the American Dream. Oh, we Christians put a Christian spin on it, but we don’t really renounce anything of the world, but somehow imagine it does not matter, even as Jesus says it does.

Jesus makes some profound calls to discipleship. Let’s look at some.  First, the rich young ruler. We all get all bothered that Jesus asked him to sell all he had and come and follow me and then make a million excuses and run to theologians who assure us that Jesus did not mean what He said. It was just said for that bad young rich guy. But Jesus repeated that call to his disciples, the church practiced it in the book of Acts and the history of the early church tells us that sacrifical giving and lifestyle choices to make room for serving God were the norm.

 

Here is a quote from Ignatius a personal disciple of John.

r] I write to you in the midst of life, yet lusting after death. My lust has been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only living water speaking in me, saying within me, Come to the Father. I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire no longer to live after the manner of men. Ignatius: to the Romans (A.D. 35-105) ch.7

Here is a section from The Shepherd of Hermas, some believe was written while the Apostles were still alive.  It is clear this was the understanding of the church, renouncing the worldly pursuits and following Jesus.

He said to me; “You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If then you know your city, in which you shall dwell, why do you here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous? He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city.

O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceive that all these things are foreign, and are under the power of another?” Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30

Where did they get such crazy ideas, these men that lived and walked among the disciples? Why, from the Apostles that were discipling them!  And they turned the world upside down.  Take the Apostle John for instance:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

Back to the concept of giving up everything for the Kingdom of God.  This time the instructions are not to the rich young ruler, but to men that were already following Jesus and NOT rich.

Luke 12:
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I was taught the rich young man had a big problem, but that this hard teaching was only in his case. Apparently I was misinformed. Jesus repeated it to His own key men.  I suspect it is recorded in these two instances, not because He only said it twice, but because it is something Jesus talked about to crowds often.  But let’s not get hung up on the money aspect just yet. The disciples must have been looked at as irresponsible, crazed fanatics by their friends and family. They abandoned a career in the family business.  Matthew had it made as a tax collector.  He was set for life.  Should you chose to become a disciple and thus a disciple maker you will have to reorder your life.  Jesus was not speaking platitudes.  He was not giving a three point sermon.  He was teaching us and telling us how to follow Him and be and make disciples. If your career has you consumed so much that you don’t have enough energy to read your bible for more than a few minutes and pray before bed, attend church a couple of times a week and visit your Facebook buddies and cheer each other’s “Christian” post while bemoaning the decent of mankind, then you have a life designed to be something other than an disciple.  Again, then you are something Jesus never called men to be and never sent men out to make.

One man Jesus called, said let me go bury my father. Jesus said let the dead bury the dead, but you go and preach the Kingdom of God.

Another said he would follow Jesus anywhere and Jesus pointed out the cost. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nest, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head.

Another says I will follow you but let me go home first and say goodbye to my family. Jesus said no one putting their hand to the plow who turns  back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.

Back to Luke 9.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

How about that for an “alter” call?  What was Jesus’ point in all these statements? They must have truly upset the very people that were wanting to follow Him.  I believe that is the point.  Jesus wants to “upset” your life.  He actually does want you to renounce your former goals and direction and take on Kingdom goals and His mission.

You are reading this because you have an interest in disciple making.  But again, you cannot make a disciple, until you are a disciple.  And the call to be a disciple is the call to renounce and give up everything and come and follow Jesus.  You cannot ask another to do this while not having done it yourself.  Mark 1 and Matthew 4 say that the disciples dropped their nets at once and went and followed Him. They walked away from their family businesses. They walked away from any normal life, possibly damaging their livelihoods and destroying their reputations.   Depending on your career situation you may merely need to reorder your time away from work. I ask, have you dropped your nets?  Only you can decide to be a disciple.  Only you must work out what it looks like, in YOUR life.

For me, after leaving a career of  being an entrepreneur, I purposefully determined to look for something to pay my bills and leave enough for me to help others while funding my work in the Kingdom.  I was working to disciple six men from  terrible backgrounds in the poorest two zip codes of America.  We met one week night, spent almost all Saturdays together actually serving others, sharing and doing life together.  Then we often worshipped together on Sunday’s and spoke all during the week about life issues.  We ate together and mowed each others lawns. We meet informally and did, life together and  shared with the lost. While I went to work each day, it was to fund my endeavors for the Kingdom.  Not to keep up with the Joneses, improve my life on this earth or make myself comfortable.

I have a brother in the states that has turned down promotions that would have consumed his time and limited his ability to reach out to the lost and make disciples.  Another, that has chosen to live in a very simple apartment and drive an older car so that he can maximize his resources for the Kingdom.  Only you know what you need to do to make disciples.  But you must drop the nets of this world to take on the yoke of your Master.  You can not serve God and mammon.  It is impossible.

In 1 Corinthians 9:8 Paul tells us that God is able to bless us abundantly  so that we can have all we NEED and have enough left over for “every good work”.  Jesus tells the crowd of listeners, surely containing the poor, tradesmen and the more  well to do, to not worry about food or clothing.  We thought these were pretty words and admired them as well written  beautiful prose.  Jesus was telling His disciples how to live this life of discipleship.

You expected a a simple “Ten Steps to Disciplemaking” article or book.  Sorry.  Jesus said it cost everything.  And when you change your allegiance from the values and priorities of the world and become a disciple it changes everything.  And for many of us that means our careers, finances and our place in society.

I did not write the verses and it is not my teaching.  It is the clear, consistent teaching of Jesus.  Mammon is not just money, but all that it brings.  You must choose God or mammon. The bible promises you will hate one and love the other.  I suggest this is not an emotional love and hate, but a love and hate that can be measured in time allocation, the expenditure of money and resources,  energy spent and passion applied.  Who or what do you love when you work 50 hours a week at a secular job, pouring in your heart and soul and then pray for 10 minutes a day, read your bible for 20 and attend church three hours a week? Again, who are you serving when almost all your time is dedicated to your career?  Or worse, your leisure. Where is your passion going.

Jesus tells a parable that is a fact of life.  The story of the soils. Seed falls on many different types of “hearts” in the lesson.  The seed falling among some ground refers to someone who hears the word, receives it with enthusiasm, but the worries of this life and the lure of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mt 13:22.  We imagine we are immune.  We are not.

Now, right now, you have a hundred things racing through your mind. “What is this nut, Glenn, asking me to do? Quit my job and go into full time ministry? I thought that I was going to learn how to make a disciple. You know, how to teach a discipleship class or something. Perhaps a three point lesson or a get a discipleship manual”. Perhaps “The Five Simple Secrets of Being a Disciple Maker!” Sorry, friends, only Jesus gets to set the standard. His call makes men drop their nets, blow up their lives, give up their dreams. Renounce our former direction and come and follow Him. It sounds a lot like true repentance.

Jesus is asking you to turn in and abandon the American Dream for the Kingdom Dream. He set the standard on being a disciple. Who gave us permission to lower that standard. (Quote from Marc Carrier). And dear brother you can’t make a disciple, till you are one.

So before I can give you any information on technique, teachings, or other information I have to make sure you understand YOUR cost. It not only cost everything to become a disciple, but again, you can never make true disciples until you are one. You will reproduce after your own kind. So if you don’t surrender all and become a disciple to His standards, then you will reproduce mutants. Half breeds and unfit agents for the Kingdom. If you reproduce at all.

Now, I was really ready to hear this message when it came to me. I was blessed as I began my journey to becoming a disciple by some books God provided.    The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down, by David Bercot, The Gospel according to Jesus by Marc Carrier and Radical by David Platt.  Read them. There is now another book I can reccomend by my mentor Marc Carrier that will give you a look into making disciples on the mission field at home and abroad, using bibical methods.  It is called, Pioneering the Kingdom.  Get it and read it.

Don’t forget, the rich young ruler walked away sad.  Because he had much.  I hope you don’t.  Will you drop your nets in this life and become fishers of men?  Don’t quit your job. But, it could come to that for some of you.  Seriously.  A career decision you made before you surrendered everything to Jesus, was likely a decision that relects a different set of loyalties than those required to be and make a disciple.  You can’t have two masters.

I was never commanded in the Word to be a publisher. I was commanded to make disciples. Before, I was many things. I was a publisher, a business owner and entrepreneur.    And before I became a disciple,  I started sharing my faith every Saturday at a ministry. I stopped tailgating and drinking at football games. I led 267 people to pray the sinner’s prayer in about 18 months. Later, I began to understand the vast majority never grew. The seed seldom took. There was little fruit. I began to seek God about making disciples. I read the books I mentioned and I met Marc Carrier. I was never the same. I realized that being a good entrepreneur or publisher meant squat to God. He called us all to make disciples who obeyed ALL that Jesus commanded.

And that is where I am going to take you next.

I am going to ask you to count the cost, but you can’t even count the cost if you don’t know what it is. When Jesus laid down Luke 9, 14 and Matthew 10, He did so to people that had heard the Gospel of the Kingdom. They heard that they should lay up NO treasure on the earth. Learned that how they treated the least of these would impact eternity.  They understood the radical cost of turning the other cheek and loving even their enemies. You can’t make a disciple unless you are one. And Jesus defines an important aspect of making disciples in the Great Commission and it will be in our next lesson. Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And my dear brother and sister, He commanded some radical things.

The early church obeyed Him and turned the world upside down. You cannot teach others to obey what you don’t even believe needs obeying. You cannot teach others to obey, if you don’t obey. Like I said, you cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple.
I hope you are not turning away, like the rich young ruler.  You can’t love this world and follow the Lord.  Read those books. Pray and question everything you thought you knew about being and making disciples. But soon we will ask if you want to come and follow Jesus.

God bless you and please pray for me.





Jogging With Glenn in Africa

21 02 2015

Slow getting up this morning as sinuses have made a rare appearance. I determined, however, to go on a morning run. After a bit of reading and prayer, I don my running shoes and head out the door starting my watch timer. I leave my little low rise building in Umoga Two and begin my run by walking out of my neighborhood to the nearest road with a shoulder I can run on. For about four minutes I have to stay in the dangerous streets in my area, or risk sliding into the black foul water and filth that runs in the open ditches on the sides of the road. Dangerous because of traffic not people. I am a part of this community and thus protected by my belonging. To harm or rob me would be very problematic here as local street justice can be brutal.

Upon reaching the corner I turn left and begin to run. Let me qualify that. Jog. I am always reminded as I start out in my limited gait of days long gone in my late 20’s when I bristled at anyone who called me a jogger. I was a runner. I accidently ran the first mile of a five mile run in Nashville one time well under a 4:45 minute mile pace. It is certain that a 4:20 to 4:30 mile was within my grasp. I ran a marathon at under a 6:50 pace and had ran over a hundred miles a week on multiple occasions preparing for a marathon. The memories go through my head and it makes me smile. Not because I was a good runner. I was only average. No, I smile because I am running now at about a 12 minute mile pace on this rocky shoulder at 6000 ft altitude in Kenya. The land of real runners. Olympians and world record holders. I am now that shuffling old guy I used to pass over and over on a dirt circuit in the woods of Brentwood, TN. My mind drifts to animism.

I am fascinated by the cultures I serve in. Animism and Islam dominate the non-Christian environments I work in. And even the Christians here are trying to serve Christ with their past influenced by Islam and Animism as their heritage. Just was we American Christians try to serve Christ from our biases and backgrounds. Every culture presents challenges to the Kingdom of God. But the ultimate culture to survive, the only one that is salient, is the Kingdom Culture of King Jesus. Or as I have just identified it, the Kingdom of God. But it is very helpful to understand what challenges the other cultures we are planting the Kingdom of God among and the strongholds and issues that each believer might struggle with as we share the Good News of the Kingdom of God in making disciples. For example if you are an America, you have been raise to value independence, self-sufficiency, venerate capitalism and have strong values molded by the heroes of your culture that values success as being the goal or purpose of life. Rock stars, movie stars and sports figures were idolized as the epitome of success in our cultures even as they model, greed, egoism and self-promotion. Even as a Christian, you may have put a Christian spin on the American Dream and think that this is God’s plan for you. If you follow me you know that I challenge Americans to turn in and actually forsake and betray the American Dream and take on a Kingdom Dream. But that is another story. This morning we are just jogging together in Africa.

In Animism spirits, ghost and different expressions of ancestral approval dominate traditions both within and outside the African church. One brother recently told me that African’s live for the dead. Magic and envy dictate many traditional practices as they strive not arouse the jealousy of another and thus bring an evil energy that could harm their good fortune and fate. I muse on the implications of these truths from the outside looking in. Westerners basically, dismiss these influences at their own peril and are blinded to their implications. Our discouragement of the African abandonment of all commitments when a funeral arises is just one of our many frustrations with our target peoples. It is best to understand these things to be able to more correctly deal with them in light of God’s will for His people. Africans do not share these things normally and have learned to speak of things in a way that Westerners cannot understand, veiling their customs and ways to our eyes to better get along with us and please us while not interrupting their traditions. I pray for wisdom and discernment. A man speaks to me in English, I reply that, today I am only speaking Swahili and greet him accordingly. It has been said that unless and until you speak to someone in their mother tongue you will never know a peoples heart or even their true thoughts. I am informed by what a tribal man said to me one time. He was so excited that I was speaking to him in my limited Swahili vernacular. He stated that if I bothered to learn his language then that means that I love him. I have decided to love these people. So I am going to become fluent in Swahili. It is so much easier to parrot the multitude of reasons to just stick with English. I know a hundred reasons not to learn Swahili. Frankly, it the mother tongue of few but the day to day language spoken by everyone in Tanzania and known and used frequently in all of East Africa. I work among 10 mother tongues that all share Swahili to do business and speak to one another. Maybe someday I will learn another language after Swahili. Perhaps Arabic or Somali. Some go so far as to say that a missionary that does not speak the native tongue is destined to fail. Or to at least flounder and waste much time and money and potential fruit due to the stubbornness of failing to learn the language. They even say we produce false converts to Christianity. Instead we produce a mere shadow of what God has in mind. While I will learn this language I disagree with that point. The bible tells us that the Gospel IS the power of God to save to all who believe. I believe it. Even if it is through a poor translator or a poor grasp of the language, it is not our expertise nor our clarity that will produce Kingdom Citizens, we call Christians. Paul says so in Romans 1:16. He even states that it is good even when it is preached with poor motives. So of all our shortcomings it is silence that will cause the failure of the mission of the Great Commission, not our methods.

Most people don’t know that 85% of all people that come to faith do so from a one on one witness. Not the millions of sermons from the pulpit or thousands of annual crusades. Only 10 % of Christians every share their faith with an unbeliever. And let’s face it. In a crusade almost no one even knows who made a profession of faith. Not so in one on one ministry. I am not against street preaching. I have done it both here and in America. Many times. But if the intention is to make disciples then we must connect with the new believers in their new faith. I greet again and again on my run. Children, adults and youth. At one time early in my time here I used to tire of everyone trying to greet the white guy. Many view me as a human ATM machine running down the street. I am nothing to them. Others are truly affected that I speak kindly and directly to them. Some yell, hello Johnny, thinking all whites are named John or Johnny or at least so many are that this attempt might be their lucky day. I smile and tell them my name and greet them warmly now. Almost all of them. It is no longer a burden. Like learning their language it is an act of love. It connects us in some very small way just to greet each other in their language. I know at the car wash down the road they can’t wait on my return from my run to all yell their greetings. I smile and greet them back. Once a young man ran up to me in an almost menacing way and asked me if I am lost. He looked desperate and perhaps even meant me harm. A foreigner far from home and perhaps lost could be easy pickings for a thief. I answer him in Swahili and tell him I live here. I am not lost. I am home. He looks disappointed. As I said a man connected to the culture is no man to mess with. I am connected.

imageI am sweating profusely in the 85 degree weather without a cloud in the sky. Unless a Kenyan is an athlete in training they would never run. At least not one my age. In Tanzania many would speak to me in a manner that implied they were actually distressed that I seem to be sweating and can’t imagine that I am enjoying myself. They shake their heads in disbelief when I share I love to run for exercise. People that survive from hard manual labor cannot conceive of such a thing. That’s okay. I finally near my building. Walking again I enter my little slum like court yard. Open ditches with who knows what flowing in them and children playing everywhere. Its Saturday they are off from school. They get excited. They all begin to yell different greetings. All at once. I stop and answer them over and over and over smiling as even they are astounded at the sheer volume of greetings they have just delivered. Then I raise my voice and say, hamjambo. A greeting one person can use to address a crowd. How are you? Plural of course. It actually and literally means, business? (pl), the implication is “how are things for all of you?”. They smile and they have learned in school the proper response is for them to reply in unison, hatujambo. Basically, no problems. Literally, no business. Business, problems, matters, they are all the same here. They laugh and giggle at our connection in this small matter. I see adults sticking their heads out of their many doorways in my little complex. No doubt amused and curious as to the Mzungu, (white man) living in their midst that obviously love kids. They approve, but I am aware that adults here pay little attention to children they don’t truly know. But that is ok. I have run. I have prayed. I have meditated and mulled over the daily dilemma’s I face in this culture. Someday soon I will be speaking to these people as less and less as that stranger. I will always be the Mzungu. But my dream is to be the Mzungu that they know loves them. Modeling the love my Father in Heaven has for them. Incarnational love. Jesus came for His culture in Heaven and lowered Himself to become a child in order to relate to us. He was God incarnate among men. I want to follow His example. That is what a missionary is. That is what all Christians that understand their role is life are. Incarnational agents of their King. Ambassadors of His Kingdom. His very agents for the Kingdom. Well we are done. We went 47 minutes today. Much to do. Let’s get on with it.





The Tale of Three Widows

23 07 2014

Many of you have seen me post about widows from time to time.  It seems it is near the heart of the Lord as well.  The first chapter of James tells us that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their time of distress.  And to help the least of these is to actually, help Jesus Himself.  You have told me to let you know about needs so here we go.  I have three opportunities.

 

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You may remember Miriam. I just baptized her and she came to the Lord from Islam. She was living on public land and we knew that some day she would have to move.  We have found her a great piece of land of over an acre for 250 dollars.  A great deal for farm land. She would be able to live near another brother and his wife and family. We will build her a mud home but need wood for window shutters and doors and frames for a tin roof.

zachariah

This is Zacharia. Her house literally burned down as I was sharing on the Kingdom of God , repentance and surrender to Jesus. I already knew she was in need as a sister told me she only had one dress. Now all her possessions are gone.  She is a Maasai and dearly loved among the Meru sisters. The amazing thing is that she never told me of any need nor mentioned her house burning down in our next meeting. The other sisters had to tell me. I don’t think she would ever ask for a thing. She dearly loves the Lord and told me that He was her everything. Her own mentally disturbed son burned down her house while he was in it.  We will build her a mud home, but need wood for frames, shutters and doors. Then we will put on a tin roof.

ditirosa

Ditirosa, is left with her five children after her husband, Naftali, pictured here died of HIV. She has been given some land and will build a mud home.  Like the others we need wood, tin and supplies. The children are living with others in the house church till we can get her house built.  We hope to have her family reunited soon. Yes we are concerned with her having AIDS as well.  We will address that right away.

Well you have the story of our three widows.  I hope you will join us in prayer, giving and support of the least of these.  You can make your tax free donation at kingdomdriven.org/glenn-roseberry .

Your brother,

Glenn

 

 





Why I Don’t Do Micro Loans

9 03 2014

widow

First, let me say that many dear brothers and sisters around the world make micro loans.  I am not writing nor posting this to be critical of the work of others, done in good faith, to benefit the poor in the name of Jesus.  But I am frequently asked to make micro loans by people that believe in this methodology of helping the poor.  Rather than answer this question over and over, I am just going to make this post on the topic so you know why I do what I do and if you like we can discuss it further. I don’t mean for this post to end communication nor dialog on this issue.  I am happy to consider and discuss the views of others on this point.  I am particularly happy to discuss it with those truly desiring to serve the least of these and are searching for ways to do so.  I applaud the motives and desire of those that disagree with me on this point.  We are together in our desire as brothers and sisters in our determination to help others.  If you disagree with me you are NOT my enemy, nor are you a heretic.

I would like to point out that I am asked every month to make these types of loans.  There is great need and believe it or not Westerners really believe in this method.  They will almost throw money at programs to help others learn to provide for themselves, particularly, since we in the West are the most prosperous people history has ever known and many of us believe this is due to capitalism.  So Westerners are enthusiastic about spreading capitalism all over the world to make the world a better place.  They are willing to risk their money to make this happen.  It is a noble and admirable motive.

But what does Jesus say about this process.  First let us look at the process we engage in to make a micro loan.  Some of the steps are very wise and prudent, regardless of your position on this topic. Many agencies and ministries require the applicant to submit a business plan, meaning, the borrower has to give thought and display responsible goals and planning to submit the request.  That is a very good idea.

Many loans, before being rewarded,  require borrowers to be trained in basic business practices and ethics.  Another excellent idea.  I am sure there are other great business applications and practices that are implemented by these organizations to help the borrower succeed.

Now on to Jesus. There are some scriptures that give me great pause when looking at micro loans.  The first one may surprise you.

33“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,… Matthew 5:33-34

Now this is a verse commonly explained away by theologians with the claim that there was a problem in Israel at the time of people deceiving each other through the use of vows and oaths.  While I have never read ANY primary source material from that era proving that point I am willing to entertain it.  The verse itself give credence to this theory.  However, does that mean that Jesus’ teaching on this matter is thus void for all of time due to it being a cultural problem?   But lets look at the verse a bit more closely.  First the verse quotes another verse from the OT. Verses like these below are being referenced in this statement by Jesus.

Leviticus 19:12
“‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

Numbers 30:2
When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

And Jesus says plainly not to make a false oath or vow.  So He does deal with people being dishonest in the practice.  But He continues,  and says “but I say to you make no oath or vow at ALL”.  Pretty clear isn’t it.  This is one of other verses where Jesus mentions an OT command saying “you have heard it said”, then  and then adds “but I say” .  Meaning the old is passed away and now something new is being commanded.  And what does He command?  “Make no oath at all”.

But when we make a micro loan we ask them to promise to pay the loan back.  In fact we not only make them promise, we typically ask them to sign a contract or agreement, taking their simple yes or no and turning it into an oath to repay.  We are asking them to disobey Jesus and to sign, “vow” to repay.  Clearly their yes or no is not enough for us.

Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples teaching them to obey all that He commanded.  I am making disciples and teaching them to obey Jesus.  But, when I make a micro loan and ask them to sign a contract or an agreement, I am asking them to disobey this command to make NO oath.  Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commands.  In fact He says His brothers, sisters, mothers and family, are in fact those that obey Him.  He says that those who hear only and do not obey, are building their house on the sand.  And, great will be their fall.

Not only that but Jesus has a great deal to say about lending itself.

 “If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” — Luke 6:34-35

Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.” —Luke 6:30

So those of us lending are in fact expecting to receive something back aren’t we? Now most micro loan people I know routinely forgive those who can’t repay.  But again, we are told that if we love Jesus we will obey His commands.  He is commanding us to loan expecting nothing back.  I know of no micro loan that does not want to be paid back and some also charge interest.  I won’t even deal with that here as even the OT forbid the charging of interest to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. 

Then we have Romans 13:8 Owe no man anything, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

So I am teaching obeying Jesus and I also teach we obey the scriptures in the rest of the New Testament as well.

So in the process of making a micro loan we are loaning money hoping to get something in return, asking our brothers and sisters for interest sometimes and asking for a vow to repay. I am trying to make disciples who OBEY Jesus.  But if I make micro loans I want them to make an exception. Why.  I will tell you why.

We are not trying to stumble, nor trying to make others stumble.  But we love and believe in capitalism.  Frequently when I talk about giving money to the poor to start a business I am flooded with arguments about the advantages of capitalism over communism.  I am always puzzled by this.  I never mentioned communism.  But somehow to disparage an application of capitalism I am cast into the position that the only alternative is the failed and ungodly practice of communism.  I find this troubling.  Was Jesus a communist?  Were the Apostles?  No, they were loyal Kingdom Citizens.  Loyal to King Jesus.  When the church grew in Jerusalem there were great needs and many brothers and sisters had property and goods.  Did they set up a Christian banking service?  No, there was no precedent for that in any of Jesus teachings.  Rather, they obeyed the King.  They gave to the poor.  They preferred others more than themselves.  They would not see their brother in need and say “be warmed and be filled”.  They knew that was in fact, NOT an expression of saving faith.  The Good Samaritan did not loan the wounded man money.  They required no oaths from those that they helped.  No, they sold what they had and shared among each other and there was no need among them.

Acts 4 records what they did.

   32And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

I am fully aware that many tout the great success of micro loan programs.  I must say I am very suspect of the claims of 95 to 100 percent repayments.  I know many who have engaged in micro loans and NO ONE has experienced these numbers.  Wall Street would die for those claims to be fulfilled in the business world of the West.  Even in the U.S. there are times when only one in seven new businesses make it the first two years.  Am I to believe that in the third world, that illiterate destitute people are outperforming Wall Street bankers and the American economy?  My brothers in Africa’s experience is quite different.

We are called to make disciples, but many of my brothers have seen their relationships changed more to resemble collection agents and loan officers.  Frequently, when a brother in the Lord fails in a business venture and cannot pay a loan back they are ashamed and literally hide from the lending brother.  We have actually had believers move from an area for the shame of failing a brother, never to be seen or heard from again. 

Does everyone that I make a grant to succeed? NO.  But I don’t lose brothers and sisters when they struggle.  They don’t owe me anything.  I give with the understanding  that should they be able to provide for themselves and have some left over to help others, they will do so.  An admonition in the bible.  I teach you don’t work you don’t eat, work as unto the Lord, share with those in need, sacrifice to serve and give to others.  I ask all believers I help to train three other people in the same trade.  That’s it.  Instead of hiding from me when they are behind on notes, they come to me when they are struggling and ask for advice.  Sometimes I have to help them with a hoe in my hand or picking corn.  We figure it out together.  Because they owe me nothing, they are free to engage me and be honest about the business condition and challenges.  There is no fear.  They cannot fail me.  

Well I hope you at least understand my position.  I am reminded of  statement from Jesus. 

You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.  And you do many things like that.” — Mark 7:9-13

This verse opens with an amazing statement. 

You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

To Westerners I would make a similar statement.

“You have a fine way of set aside the teachings of Jesus, whenever it conflicts with your beloved capitalism”.

American Christianity has become very interested in what “works”.  I remember the Baptist getting all involved in buses for bringing kids to church when I was young.  Later everyone added greeters in the parking lot to make people feel more welcome when they get out of their cars.  They added gymnasiums and kids programs to bring in young couples with children.  And yes, we have decided to use our successful capitalist model in the Kingdom as well.  I do not criticize the motives on any of these practices.  I would merely remind people of a few things.

It is obedience, not success that is my goal.  I don’t care what works, if what works is in conflict with the plain teachings of Jesus.  I don’t even embrace things that work, when they don’t conflict with Jesus plain teachings.  I want to walk in His steps.  I want to do things the Jesus way.  I can take scriptures from all over the bible and make any point I want to.  A man took me to task on that statement once and I said chose a topic.  He chose tattoos.  It took me about five minutes to prove that tattoos were awesome in God’s eyes using the bible.  You see the bible says that my name is written on God’s hand and over His heart. So if God has tattoos I want to be like God.  Forget that the Israelis were told not to mark their bodies.  That was just a historical cultural problem.  See what I mean? 

Sola scriptura can be insufficient.  Even Luther, despised parts of the New Testament even why crying “sola scriptura”.  I am into solo Christo.  It is He who will judge us on that day.  It is He who I will obey.  And yes I know all the verses in the OT about this subject. 

God bless you.  I am not your enemy, I am your brother.  I hope you can at least understand my position and I am happy to visit with you on this topic any time. 





Public Floggings, Stabbings, Baptisims and Saying Goodbye!

19 01 2014

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It is just a day in my life as a missionary. I woke had coffee and a milk yoghurt drink from the shop next door.  All packed up with bibles and some other books I set off to walk to this mornings scheduled baptisms in Kayole. I have recently moved to an African neighborhood that is very centrally located so I can travel cheap.  My rent is less than my transportation cost in the city used to be. On my way I see crowds running towards a fense.

Now when I see them running in East Leigh I run with them.  It means something has happend and you need to get away.  Last month a bus was blown up and another day there was some gun fire.  Folks ran my way, I turned and ran with them till they felt safe.  Just some gunfire.  No one ever new why. The police were there shortly and they could find nothing.  All is well.

In Kayole people were running to look at something.  I walked over and peaked around the long blue fense.  I was just in time to see some mean beating another with a rubber hose.  I saw the crowd smiling and knew what was going on.  I confirmed a theif had been run down and caught and locals were beating him with a rubber hose.  He started crying and they slowed and every now and then whacked him when he stopped crying just to please the crowd. They were also calling the police.  I was glad of that.  In Kenya in the villages a theif can be caught beaten and then burned to death by a mob depending on the value of the property or perhaps his repeated behavior of stealing.  With the police coming I knew he was safe from death.  I moved on.

I arrived and greeted my dear brother Fred and later brother Wilson showed up and we visited and fellowshipped.  My baptismal candidates were a mere  three hours late.  Yes three hours.  That is even late for Africans.  Honestly, I gave up on them and we had turned our waiting into productive time reviewing ministry fruit and challenges.  I learned long ago, rather than just get frustrated to use these times to study swahili, read the word, intercede, teach or even better, learn. We divided up some raw Uji I had just bought in a far away village.  A porridge made with 12 different grains, lengums and nuts it is extremly healthy but most locals consider it peasant food for the poor.  I love it.  Then my baptism people come in.

I am a bit dissappointed to learn that I am only baptising one as one of the two have sick children and the other seems to be vacillating.  She was baptised as a child but thought she was saved, but admitted that she did not really walk with God till she came to us.  That is something the brothers will deal with.  She is a precious sister and we need this resolved right away.  She is a widow with a humble spirit.  I honestly think she is terrified of the water.  But that is just something I sense, though brother Fred agrees.

We get to the baptismal pool.  What a place, a half finished hotel with two big swimming pools. Not something that is a nomal addition at a hotel in Africa for Africans.  To top it off it is owned by Muslims.  The last time I was hear we baptised several and the Muslims and Africans alike gathered to listen.  I preached the Gospel as I baptised and we lay hands of the new believers and pray for them concerning the Holy Spirit. The Muslims charge me 100 bob for this use and that is about a buck twenty.  I get to baptise and inadvertently share with about 50 Muslims sometimes.  What a deal.  The last time I was there the water was crystal clear.  Today bright green.  I had to change and since little girls were wandering in the mens area I had to get in a toilet stall to change.  Nudity here in this society under these situations is not the taboo it is in most of the world.  In the dry season  a quick  rain that yealds a pond or flowing river, even if it is right near town may soon populated with many women right on the road side bathing in full view.  Men might be in another pool just a hundred meters away.  People just politely divert their eyes and move on.  The toilet stall is horrific.  I do my best to stay out of the feces. On to the baptism.   David  has come to Jesus from alcoholism and great issues of anger.  He is a construction worker and a good provider.  We led  him to renounce drinking again and make a public profession of his faith and determination to obey Jesus.  He renounces sin, self, satan and the world and under he goes, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  We all rejoice loudly.

As we leave the building I walk with the new brother David. He takes my hand and we walk quite a ways holding hands.  This is done among close friends here and perfectly normal.  For them.  Not for me.  I do it regularly now but must say it is still something I am never comfortable with. But everyone views my participation in this practice, done only among close friends, as a sign I am with them. It does not mean I am one of them yet.  But it does mean we are together.  It matters. No body thinks you are gay. If they thought that you would be in grave danger in some parts. Let me just day that President Obamas speeches here seeking tolerance for homosexuality were not received.

I board a bus and head downtown.  A disciple from the Muslim community that has come to Jesus and walked with us the last year was granted asylum in Canada.  This is his last full day in Kenya. It is a happy and a sad day. I am writing this at 12 noon.  He left at 7 AM.  I no longer have to hide his identity nor change his story. It was hard for me and Abraham to say good bye to Kamaal. I was sad to see him go because there was so much I wanted to share.  Poor Abraham has lost his father figure \ friend\ Pastor, Imam, a couple of months ago, and now another friend from his own area in Ethiopia.  He is left with an old Mzungu and a handful of new friends.  Abraham tells me I am all he has left.  We all three hug.  I assure him that is not true, we have the Father and many new friends and brothers.  But I understand.  You see Kamal and me  in the picture at the top. This was a great day. I enrolled the young men in English school.  Kamal never got to start since the UN called soon after.

Here is another picture, not so happy.

image

Kamal was beaten and stabbed leaving a house church meeting. The sisters with him escaped with a few blows I was told, but Kamal got a broken nose a very painful bruising on arms and torso from being kicked and of course the stab wounds. This was taken in the hospital. It happened about 7 months ago. I prayed for Kamal standing on a street corner. Gave him some money to buy a cheap bag for his things, some food for the trip and got his email address and gave him my card. I will most likely never see him again.

Later at home, my neighbor Dennis and friend Davy came to the door. Hodi! Karibu! Hodi is the request to enter a place and karibu  means welcome and so much more. Dennis commented it was nice to meet an Mzungu that could speak some proper Swahili. Later in the conversation Dennis pointed out to me that I referred to myself and Africans as us, and Wazungus, white people,  as them.  He smiled. I did too. That is the way I see it here.  I live here. Now this is my home as is my little clay house in Tanzania. I dearly miss my people in America. My family is precious to me. But I am here. I am with the Africans in every way I can figure out to be.  I am not one of them, yet. Don’t know that I will be.  But I was adopted by the Wameru in Tanzania.  But I am with them, and they know it.  It is my prayer and my hope to stand on Judgement day surrounded by Africans and Americans, former Muslims and Animist, all together. As one, we will worship our King. Till then? Karibu, Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done.





Part two kingdom expansion

3 01 2014

So you decided to push on.  Remember, we are not making converts we are making disciples so Jesus did things different than we have done in the past. Lets see what He teaches us as we look at how He taught His own disciples.  You may hear me say this again, but I am truly excited about this next section.  Here we see the Master, Fisher of Men disciplining His own disciples.  He promised to make them fishers of men.  We are going to look at a process that Jesus taught His disciples in great detail on more than one occasion.  I believe it is one of the most detailed “how to” lessons in all of Jesus teachings.  And that is for a reason.  It is important.

On to passage number two: Luke 10:1-11
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

We find Jesus in this passage giving perhaps the most detailed explanation on a topic that is in the entire Gospel narrative. He sent them to where HE was coming to next. He also sent out the 12 in both Matthew 10 and Mark 6. That is just what is mentioned. Here we have the 70 going out.  Again, are witnessing Jesus own methodology being demonstrated by the ultimate, Fisher of Men. Like the sermons and teachings of Jesus, I suspect He may have sent out the two dozen, the 150 and perhaps the 300.  I believe this is recorded over and over with different numbers because He did it over and over with different people.

First He tells them He is sending them where He is about to go.  Jesus is always going to the lost.  Will you go with Him? We pray for Jesus participation in our mission as well.

Next, He tells them the harvest is plentiful. He tells them the workers are few.  That is because YOU are not out there.  It is not someone else job.  It is ours.  Listen to what I am telling you. The harvest IS plentiful.  This is not the only time Jesus says this.  He says it right after He met the woman at the well.  I suspect like other things we see repeated in different circumstances, this was a common thread of Jesus message. Satan wants you to think the soil is unfruitful and the harvest is hard.  It is a lie.  Jesus says it is.  I say it is.  Based on my own personal experience.   If you will remember my last post, you have to know where to look.  Jesus askewed the religious, upright and successful in the worlds eyes and went to the poor the sick and the disenfranchised.  Let’s follow His example.

Then what.  Jesus says an amazing thing.  He says ask the Father to send workers.  I always smile when I read this.  It means pray and it is a trap.  Yes, I said it is a trap. A glorious trap set by God.  I have had it pulled on me before.  My former Pastor Dr. Jeff Brawner talked to me about praying for the nations.  He modeled for our entire church for us to set aside certain days to pray for certain things.  The lost in the nations was one of those request.   Later, after he got me doing home bible studies, I was using the book Radical, by David Platt. He also recommended  buying a book by a group called Operation World and start praying using this specific information about the countries of the world.  I started and I could not stop.  This book put the countries in alphabetical order and gave detailed info on the demographics of the country,  the history of Christianity there and the specific prayer needs and request  I could not keep from reading and praying for multiple countries every day.  And as I did, God got my heart in a new way.  Like I said, it was a trap.  I went from a guy literally challenging Jeff and his passion for the lost in other lands going as far as informing him the word missionary is not even in the bible.  I remember his mouth flying open,  his looking at the ground and shaking his head.  I may have been what you call a problem disciple.  I may have given him some gray hairs.  But you see who convinced who.  I am sitting in a clay house in Tanzania writing to you on sharing with the lost and he is training other people to be better missionaries.

Then He says to GO!  Wait, Glenn, you already told us this in the last post.  Yes, isn’t Jesus consistent.  He never tells us to go and invite people to a crusade or a revival or a church meeting.  Now the method He teaches involved you getting out of your comfort zone and going.  What is awesome is He is going to tell you HOW to go. Read on.

Next,  Jesus  says something we overlook.  Don’t take a bunch of supplies and accoutrements.  Pay attention here. Here we are given instructions on how to go, that contains some specific details. He specifically sends them “unencumbered”. There are no props, minimal provisions, no weapons, and no equipment. They are positioned to move quick and often, unburdened by the normal supplies for traveling on a long trip. This sounds strange to a nation of planning, programming and preparing methodical people. But Jesus is liberating and releasing us to go without all the baggage and methods we so love to carry and apply. We are simply to focus on the task at hand. To major on the only thing that is important and be free of all that can slow us down. To tell of the Kingdom.

We have come to think we need big crusades, awesome sound systems, great worship bands and the Jesus film to go out into all the world. Jesus specifically tells us to go unencumbered. I particularly like this since I serve in Africa and late in life have  worked with the poor. Why does that matter? Because when we go in spending big money and have great technology to spread the Word we are modeling something that the poor cannot participate in. They will NOT be able to hold huge crusades and show the Jesus film and have a high tech worship band. So this model needs is doable for them.  It is reproducible.  NO money to proceed. That is great for you and me. And it is great for our future disciples.  I try not to  invest in something that the locals cannot duplicate without me and my Western technology.  I recommend that if you follow Jesus’ lead in using this in the West as well.   Think of how you can model this WITHOUT using money. If you go to the poor, they don’t have it. So don’t model something they can’t do without you. It is NOT Jesus’ way.
Greet no one on the way. Now, to being unencumbered, we add not being distracted. I live in Africa. Greeting people is a huge part of our culture here. It fosters respect and relationships. But trust me. A Tanzanian and a Kenyan will literally head out on a God given task and then spend 6 hours during the day visiting and talking to everyone in sight about nothing in particular. We in the West will begin a project and stop incessantly to read text, send an email chat on the phone or given more than a 10 minute wait begin surfing the web.  We set a definite time to start and stop, leaving little room for God to intervene.  That is what organized, productive people do.  We have things to do so lets schedule this thing for two hours and get with it so I can get home and see the ball game.  Go unencumbered and do not get distracted. You may think this does not matter but it does. Avoiding distractions and unnecessary activities are a must. They were important enough for Jesus to warn His disciples, so we are wise to heed the same warning.

Now, I skipped something.  Did you notice?  Jesus said when you enter a home you leave a blessing.  Peace to this house.  Now this tells me two things.  One they were going to peoples homes.  Now this is significant.  You see we all remember Paul and the others teaching the Jews in the synagogues, the gentiles in the forums and other public speaking venues.  At Pentecost Peter preaches outside and 3000 are added.  I am not against this.  It is awesome to preach publicly.  I don’t do it often in the market place, but I have done it many times.  Maybe 10 or 20.  I don’t count.  But we read in Acts after this public preaching that The Lord added to them daily. How?  Well we read that they met house to house breaking bread but not much else is said about it other than the other public sermons like Stephan and later Paul.  But we know Jesus had trained them in this method we are studying and we see in the next section they are looking for a certain type of person.

Man of Peace. We find and stay with a “man of peace”, or someone who promotes peace, depending on your translation. We may be introduced to this person as a leader when we arrive at a village. This is a person receptive to the gospel and with a heart for hospitality. In America, or the West,  you may experience this person as you go out door to door. They will take the time to talk. They will be hospitable. God has prepared them for you.  They are waiting on you.  Remember, you are praying before you are going, for workers.  This person of peace, is in fact a potential, worker, disciple.  You have been praying FOR HIM, when you prayed for a worker.

We may preach the Gospel in public and one of the new believers offer us a place to stay. They may just come up and ask a lot of questions and accept your invitation to come to their home and continue. The provision for this person is not specifically identified for us in this text. We just see that when we enter their house we leave a blessing.  I find this vague statement exciting. We just know and expect God to provide this person from these instructions. So we go out in prayer, expecting to identify this person, knowing that this is in God’s hands. We go looking for the “man of peace”. Not just people that we can “win” to Jesus. This is a person of influence and a person who could later become a gifted disciple.  Now influence might just mean, a lot of people respect him within a certain group of people.  He could be a down right terrible drunk, and God will open doors with him to other drinkers due to his amazing transformation.  He may be a local leader and open other kinds of doors. We just don’t know.  Again, I find this exciting.  This is a point of great importance and we must rely on the Lords leading and provision. We will always keep this person in mind for the next village, the next town and the next house church and yes the next house you walk up to.

Listen, this is important.  We don’t get worried if someone says they are not interested and slams the door.  Or is someone does not want to become a disciple.  That just means they are not a person of peace. But don’t worry about them. The person of peace will have many contacts, family members, co workers and friends that will accept his invitation to learn about his life changing decision for the Kingdom. The person that slams the door in your face, has a person in their life that they will welcome in. You just keep searching.

We carry a Blessing. This is an interesting aspect of Jesus commands for us in going out. We are carrying a blessing for the “man of peace” his village and his house. In this verse. He says we will have this blessing if the person of peace welcomes us or if he is unresponsive we can withdraw it. I speak this blessing when I enter. This seems inconsequential to those that do not understand the power of Jesus teachings. I claim no revelation in this area. But I strongly suspect that as we bless those who receive us and withdraw that blessing from those that don’t, there we be a real and apparent consequence. I believe that the Gospel will be furthered through this blessing and withholding, in ways we cannot foresee at this time. But I imagine the villages witnessing God’s favor on the blessed will be influenced for the Kingdom. Regardless we will obey.

Stay, We don’t move around from this person’s house, in a given area, as we serve and work. Now I don’t want to confuse you but now I want to tell you that after going out in Luke 10 evangelism going to house to house, that when you find this person of peace, STOP. Many get excited and quickly run to the next house eager to brag on all the conversions that day. But we are making disciples remember. Jesus spent three and a half years with 12 men. You will need to take time here. I won’t spend a ton of time on it as I will write on it later. But when you lead a person to repentance of their sins and acceptance of the Kingdom of God and Jesus the King, you are not done you are now beginning. Ask this person where their husband, wife, sister, mother and father live. Ask who their best friend is or their closest neighbor. Then invite them to come over. Confirm the new disciples commitment and spend time disciplining them that very day. Give them a bible if they don’t have one, but very soon, even the same day or the next hour have them get others to come and listen to you share. Right then! Use this new person, the person of peace you were looking for to connect to others in their circle of influence and extend the Kingdom through their contacts. That way they get the experience of spreading the Kingdom in their spiritual DNA right from the start. They watch you share and lead others in repentance over and over. And perhaps they begin to actually share or pray with you. Oh and by the way. They will sometimes offer to feed you and if you are traveling you might even stay there. This is very likely in Africa where I serve. If they are that person of peace and others come to surrender to Jesus also, you have just planted a house church.  I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but I highly recommend you don’t take them to church. I recommend you start a church there.  A house church.  It is what I do here and we have about 37 in the two countries.  And our house churches are going out doing Luke 10 evangelism, planting more house churches.  I have believers, not me, believers that have planted a third of our house churches.  The multiplication has begun.

Heal the Sick. For some of you, this is going to be a stretch. The ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the Good News, is always accompanied by God’s provision and power. God will be God as we go. He is the God of miracles. Marc Carrier, my mentor, has experienced closed doors from Muslims until they ask him to pray for a very sick father or mother. Someone is healed and then people begin to surrender to Christ. The funny thing is, sometimes other Muslims are very understanding of Muslim neighbors that leave Islam when their father is healed miraculously. What can they say. Frankly, Muslims frequently ask Christians to pray for their sick as Christians have a reputation here of having God answer their prayers. Neither of us are faith healers. But God heals in answer to prayer all the time. Especially in the third world. Or as I call it the Majority World. Sorry, that is another topic all together.

But let’s look at this a minute. We are told we carry a blessing, elsewhere in the bible if a person gives a prophet a glass of water they receive a prophets reward. Then we are also told that we can withhold a blessing and now we are commanded to heal the sick. So let me now say something bold. There was and, I believe, still is, an anointing that goes with us as we obey Jesus commands to extend the Kingdom following this mandate. I say that because I see it happen in Marc Carrier and my ministries. I’m not in the deliverance ministry.  But I went to pray for a sick lady and a demon manifested.  It was cast out while Muslims neighbors watched.  Two hours later they repented and turned to Jesus.
Tell them of the Kingdom of God. Again the Kingdom. Everywhere Jesus and His Apostles went they preached the Kingdom. That is the King (Jesus), His realm (His Kingdom, on earth as it is in Heaven) , His citizenship (How to enter and abide in His Kingdom) and His commands ( following His teachings) . Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven 87 times. The New Testament mentions Jesus as ransom twice, begin born again a couple of times, dying for our sins a handful of times, Church a couple of times and pastors once or twice. In Luke 4:43 He says He must preach the Kingdom because that is why He came. In the Lords prayer the first request is that we pray His Kingdom come. He taught it all through the Gospels. After He rose again, guess what He taught. For forty days He taught them about the Kingdom of God, Acts 1:3. The Apostles went out preaching it, Acts 8:12, including Paul, Acts 28:23 and Acts 28:30-31.  Revelations tells us in the end the whole world would be His Kingdom Rev. 11:15, but not before Matt. 24:14 is fulfilled. The Gospel of the Kingdom is preached in all the earth.

At this point I want you to note that there is a link down at the bottom of the page for my mentors website, Marc Carrier, at Kingdom Driven Ministries. You can check out his site and then download two things. One is the Kingdom Essentials series. It goes into sharing the Kingdom of God, making disciples, house church and teaching Jesus commands. The second document is a tract we use that Marc wrote called Two Kingdoms. In it we share the Gospel of the Kingdom of God modeled after the way Jesus did it. After you read the Kingdom essentials you will understand how to use it.

Using this method I move about and make disciples for only a few hundred dollars a month. My expenses are miniscule compared to traditional mission methods. I avoid the pitfalls of Americans being viewed as the rich elite and possible sources of money and gain, as I live poor, among the poor, with the poor, serving the poor, with the Gospel of the Kingdom. I travel with little and rely on God’s provision and mercy. We will carry enough funds for some food and to help the needy when the timing and opportunity is correct. I have bibles and literature, in Kiswahili . You should materials in the native language of your working culture. Don’t be critical of any and all that do things differently from a methodology standpoint. Just do what Jesus did. The fruit speaks for itself.
Well, I have written this in response to questions and interest of others. It is both too short and too long. I will be happy to visit with you and discuss this biblical model. I only ask that you download and read the Kingdom Essentials booklet by Marc first.  Check out his other books and writings.  Leave a donation for him for the free books.  Click the donate tab on his site and you can give to this ministry or one of the other awesome missionaries doing similar work.   I hope this answers some questions and raises some as well. I look forward to hearing from you.

http://kingdomdriven.org/purchase-resources