Archive | December 2012

Discipleship

If you have slinked around my blog pages at all, you’ll know that one of the ministries I am involved in is a discipleship program that I co-founded at the start of last summer. It’s called Immerse.

We’re about to start a new round, training up more disciples of Jesus, so I made a video to tell people a bit about it. This is the first time I’ve ever done a video like this before! I enjoyed it and am pretty happy with how it turned out. (plus the fact that it was free since I did it myself). Check it out. If you’re a film person (I know a few of my friends are) please give me grace!

So, in an attempt to keep you updated on what sort of ministry Michelle and I are doing, here’s a quick look at one of our ministries:

What are your thoughts about discipleship? What should it look like? How do we do it? Leave a comment below.

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Failure

failCan failure be worshipful? I think God told me once that it can, and that makes sense to me. I sure hope that that’s true. Twice now in the last year Michelle and I have stepped out in faith and generosity and completely failed at what we were attempting. (Click here to read about a failure that was not worshipful)

Last spring, Michelle was taking a class a local community college as she was trying to knock out a few electives to finish up her Bachelors in Psychology (Which, she just finished! Way to go baby!). One of her class mates was in need of a computer and didn’t have the money to buy one. Michelle decided that we should offer one of our two laptops so that he would have something to finish school with. One computer would be plenty for her and me. He was very grateful when she told him and we were all convinced that God was using Michelle and me to extend the love of God in a very tangible way.

Then, as a responsible computer owner, I wanted to wipe the hard drive before handing it off. I had heard that this was the safest way to ever sell or give a used computer. I’m not very talented with the computer skills, so after fumbling around for about two days I called a buddy for help. He was able to wipe the computer, but then Windows wouldn’t reload. Today, neither Michelle’s classmate nor Michelle and I have that computer. It is still waiting for some miraculous OS download from heaven. Fail.

The toughest part about that one is that if we hadn’t tried to be generous, we would still have a second computer. I wonder how much spiritual warfare plays into stuff like that? Maybe it’s just a result of bad engineering. Then again, that was the same computer that miraculously healed itself of a nasty virus after I prayed over it a year or two prior! No joke, it was broken, got prayed over, and then it was better. Let’s be honest, miracles do happen. God does respond to prayers, and God is really good with computers! Why didn’t he fix it when we wanted to give it away then? I definitely prayed then too. I don’t know. But, I’m convinced that He’s good.

Then there was tonight’s adventure. Michelle and I realized that we had no family plans for Christmas day itself. We easily could have just enjoyed the time alone, relaxed in front of the fireplace, read a book, or taken a bath, but Michelle thought it would be awesome if we invited someone over to enjoy Christmas dinner with us. Someone who didn’t have anywhere else to go and needed someone to show them that they matter. God knows there are plenty of those people out there!

So, off I went to find our person. Michelle stayed home and finished the final preparations for the meal and I went out. We were both very nervous and concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find anyone who needed a place to hang out for the evening. We spent some time in prayer and asked God to lead us to this person that He had targeted. We had felt that God had told us that He already had someone picked out. After driving around for 45 minutes and only approaching one person who seemed like a good candidate, I called Michelle and we decided that I should head home. The food was getting cold and it was getting past everyone’s dinner time. Fail.

Man, can’t a guy offer a free dinner to someone! I would have loved to have heard their story and listened to their struggles and victories. I would have loved to have started a relationship with that person. But, it didn’t happen. I wonder how much spiritual warfare plays into this sort of thing? Maybe it was just bad planning and lack of perseverance on our part. I don’t know.

As Michelle and I struggled to process this all as we ate our amazing feast alone, I realized something. Disappointment sucks. It’s almost painful. It gets you doubting and questioning and wondering and pondering. It’s difficult. But, I’m convinced that it’s not as difficult as waking up one day, realizing you’re 75 years old wishing that you had taken more risks, walked more in faith, given more generously, dared more boldly, and thereby lived more abundantly.

Today I was reminded that I can deal with failure. What I can’t deal with is living a pointless, boring life.

CT

I’m not qualified to speak about political solutions for or evaluations of what happened at Sandy Hook. I think it would be inappropriate to try to simplify the situation and try to control it with nice sounding words and statements of hope that apply to a situation far beyond my emotional comprehension.

I would like to share my struggle and my personal reaction. It was eye opening for me to realize what was going on inside of me when I started to hear about what had happened.

It is the weirdest thing to realize that something horrible happened today, just an hour or two ago. There was no “disturbance in the force” – Star Wars lied to me. There was no feeling of dread or horror for me in my North Minneapolis home. Life was normal. Just another day.

Then I looked on Facebook and started quickly to realize that something bad had happened. A shooting. A school. Kids. I turned over to a news site and started reading and viewing. Emotions started to kick in. Even as I write this, days later, my eyes are tearing up. I’m about to have my first child enter this world. This is the world my kid is coming into. That messes with me.

To be honest, something inside of me was breaking as I started to hear the stories. I have a hard time not imagining what it must have been like. I was starting to hurt inside. I was starting to get angry. The giant looming, “Why!?” was surfacing again after many years of lying dormant.

Then, it happened. It was strange and foreign. I remember reacting to violence and death and tragedy before, but this was new. I remember watching the towers fall and thinking that this couldn’t be happening now. Surely this was something that happened twenty, thirty, forty years ago, right? Then I remember processing these different events. What do we do now? How do we keep this from happening again? This isn’t okay. This needs to be stopped. Something needs to change. Something has to be done.

I don’t know what has changed in me since those other events, but this was my honest, authentic reaction and it took me off guard:

The world needs Jesus.

I don’t think I’ve ever reacted that way, authentically, before. Forced? Sure. Conjured? You bet. But, to have those thoughts spring up within me in the face of shear terror was, well, weird.

Why do I think that the world needs Jesus in light of this event? Why does the horrific death of little children stir something in me that makes me spontaneously desire for everyone to know Jesus?

The strangest part was that my thoughts were not, “I want everyone to know Jesus so that they will go to heaven when they die.” No, I was more concerned about the here and now. I was experiencing a deep-founded belief that the person who took up those guns could have been changed by the blood of Jesus, preventing all of this from happening in the first place.

Honestly, that sounds idealistic, cliche, and corny. But, it is my deep and true belief.

I have actively been doing prayer counseling for about a year and a half. I have been doing discipleship for just over 6 months. I have seen broken people. I have worked with rape victims, non-functional anxiety-ridden men, the disturbed, the rage-full, and even the demonized. I have seen God heal. I am speaking from experience, not simply theology.

Today, I hear two primary answers to the tragedy:

  1. Take away the guns.
  2. Give more people more guns.

There has to be another way. There has to be more. Regulations will never change people (see Col. 2:23) and more guns will, at best, use violence to curb violence. Violence + violence = ?

There is a third way. Jesus established an entire kingdom based on this other way. It has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with the use of force. Jesus had authority over everything and displayed to those who would follow his way what we should do with authority and power.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13

As a follower of Jesus, this is my answer to all the violence, death, hatred, evil, murder, genocide, homicide, rape, sex trafficking, slavery, abuse, and even the Christian hypocrisy so prevalent in the church:

Serve, with self-sacrificial love, those who are about to turn you over to be killed.

Somehow, this releases a mystical force upon the earth. A force not to change horrible situations like the one in Sandy Hook, but to change people. Maybe if enough people are filled with God we will stop shooting ourselves. I have seen people change. This is my hope. This is the hope I cling to as I prepare to welcome my child into this world.

A part of me is scared for my child to enter into a world full of evil. Another part of me is excited to see my child become an evil-hunter, removing the evil in men by expressing self-sacrificial, foot-washing love to them. Young one, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. See the original blueprint of the “bad guy’s” value and worth. Remove all evil that is covering who they were created to be and work the ministry of reconciliation, not counting their sins against them.

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