Do you feel old?

A friend was looking at pictures of my children and commenting on how quickly they are growing up. Then asked, “Do you feel old?”

I didn’t have to think about this one. “No. Because I live young.” Knowing this to be true, he replied, “No kidding. Mountain biking, back country skiing, rock climbing.”

Actually, my kids make me feel young. One of the major reasons I stay in shape and play hard is so I can grow up with them. I look forward to these and many other adventures with my children. And the adventures have already begun. How many dad’s bring their son(s) on single track in a bike trailer that is in tow behind their mountain bike? Later this year, I hope to be top roping with my oldest daughter and perhaps in the winter start skiing together. We’ll see. Either way, the adventure has begun.

Yes. My children make me feel young and teach me what it means to be a child.

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:2,3).

Big Dreams

Perry Noble hit it home on his blog the other day! This quote from his blog made my journal:

“people who have big dreams will always be attacked by others with small minds”

If this quote captures your heart the way it does mine, consider reading it in context. To do so, click here.

Anticipating Jesus

Jesus instructs His disciples to anticipate His return (Mark 13). Why? Because He may be coming back today. But do we really believe this? Or, have 2000 years minimized our interpretation of Jesus’ instruction and numbed our anticipation?

Have you ever anticipated an event (a vacation, a meeting, a wedding, a move of homes, a new job, etc.)? How did your anticipation cause you to prepare for the event? Did your preparations change the activities of your daily schedule? How?

If we choose to believe Jesus and live in anticipation of His return, then our anticipation should change our daily disposition. In Mark 13, Jesus instructs us to anticipation and what to do with it (consider reading Mark 13 before continuing):

  1. Watch out that no one deceives you (Mark 13:5)
  2. Be on your guard (Mark 13:9, 33)
  3. Do not worry (Mark 13:11)
  4. Stand firm (Mark 13:13)
  5. Pray (Mark 13:18)
  6. Be alert (Mark 13:33)
  7. Do not be found sleeping (Mark 13:36)
  8. Keep watch – Watch! (Mark 13:35, 37)

To live these dispositions, we must take our focus off our world and live in anticipation of Jesus’ return and the full establishment of His Kingdom.

Conversation on Spiritual Mentoring

Are small groups really the best environment for making disciples who make disciples? It doesn’t seem that way.

Here are the thoughts of another pastor and I as we discussed this and other questions on the topic of spiritual mentoring. (Please note that the phrases “making disciples” and “spiritual mentoring” are used interchangably):

Small groups are…

  • like a doctors office – a great place to “get fixed”
  • a great support ministry
  • discussion oriented – not action oriented
  • a place where people meet for spiritual mentoring to happen naturally in life

Spiritual Mentoring…

  • is like a health club with personal trainers – a great place to “grow healthier”
  • is conversational and action oriented
  • is a safe relationship where people can grow in spiritual health
  • multiplies disciples as each mentoree begins spiritually mentoring others

What does it take to be a spiritual mentor?

  • “Locking OUT time, to lock IN people”
  • intentionality
  • affinity
  • follow-through
  • commitment
  • consistency
  • answering the question, who am I going to pursue (or spiritually mentor)?

Spiritual mentoring should be wholistic – touching on three realms:

  • skill mentoring (parenting, teaching, leading, shepherding, multi-media, etc.)
  • social mentoring (family, marketplace, neighborhood, etc.)
  • spirit mentoring (application of God’s truth and mimicking of Jesus in all of life)

How does spiritual mentoring happen best?

  • informally – NOT formally

What prevents most churches from being centers of great spiritual mentoring (disciple making)?

  • church leaders (pastoral staff, elders, etc.) fail to model spiritual mentoring – they fail to make disciples who make disciples by staying overly busy with church politics and business (or what might better be called “busyness”)

Great Pastors Delegate (almost everything)

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the details bombarding your ministry, gifts, and passions? Then take a few moments to reflect on these verses:

2 Timothy 4:5
“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (Italics added)

Ephesians 4:11
“…Apostles…prophets…evangelists…pastors and teachers, (are) to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up….” (Italics added)

Consider what these verses mean – if someone else can do what needs to be done, LET THEM!!! Give others the power, authority, and support necessary to serve the body and build the church. The church needs leaders who know their role, live their role, and discharge tasks beyond their role to other capable leaders who will accomplish the duties of the ministry. Reserve yourself to equip Christ’s body. Reserve yourself to be a shepherd. Reserve yourself to serve according to your spiritual gifts and passions. To do this, you must know your greatest gifts and passions, be confident enough to delegate, and possess the discipline to remain focused on your role in the church.

This raises a question that personifies the internal tug of war that most ministry leaders face: how can I discharge all the duties of my ministry and prepare God’s people for works of service when there are so many little details to accomplish and e-mails to delete?

In Acts chapter six, the apostles are confronted with the first recorded complaint in church history – a particular group of widows were not receiving a daily distribution of food. This complaint had the potential of derailing the apostles from their primary responsibilities and role in the church. With incredible wisdom, they take time to determine what matters most for their position in the church and communicate back to the disciples, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” This was a gutsy statement that many ministry leaders would be criticized for making today. But the apostles didn’t drop the issue here, they responded to the urgency of the complaint by creating a service opportunity for other capable leaders – “…choose seven men…who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them…”. Once the disciples selected the appropriate leaders, the apostles delegated responsibility and empowered these new leaders to meet the growing ministry needs.

Like the apostles, when faced with urgent ministry matters, we must determine what matters most for our role in the church based upon our gifts and passions, utilize urgent ministry matters to create service opportunities for other gifted leaders, delegate responsibility, and empower new leaders to meet growing ministry needs.

Endnote: This blog was originally posted in 2002.

Coolest Experience

carTonight Stefani and I drove our all-terrain minivan down 12 miles of beach at the North End of the OBX. Most people rent a jeep for this experience. Not us. What a beautiful and awe inspiring adventure. The waves slapping the beach with my wheels sliding through the sand. It is much like driving in two feet of snow.  What a romantic experience as we saw wild horses, watched the sun set, and drove back to the main road through the incoming fog.

I have discovered that the greatest beauty and adventure in life happens off the beaten path. This is true in our physical and spiritual lives.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13,14 – NIV).

I feel sorry for those who play it safe. Those who avoid beauty and adventure for what is safe. Life is found where few have gone.

horses

Disciples speak God’s words

John 14:10,24

“The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (NIV)

Not only are Jesus’ big ideas from the Father, each-and-every-individual word is from the Father. Are my words, always the words of the Father? No, but I wish they where. So how do I speak the very words of God? How do I live in a place where I hear the words of God and speak them to others with authority?

Jesus finds His words from “the Father, living in Him”. The Father abides in Jesus, directing His words. The Spirit of God also abides in me. But in His abiding, do I choose to dwell with Him? Dwelling in quiet, solitude, listening to the voice of God? Listening to His words and repeating them in the authority given me from Jesus?

Being a disciple of Jesus is to mimic all of His life, including His words as derived from the Father.