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    ThuThursdayAugAugust17th2017 The Whole Me
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Discipleship Life 0 comments Add comment

    What do you think of when I say the word “whole”? Maybe eating a whole pie comes to mind, or a whole carton of ice cream. Possibly, your thoughts go to money, such as a bill that is due: “I owe the whole amount!”

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that word. It hasn’t been in the context of food or money, but as it relates to all of me, the whole person.

    God made all of us, the whole us. And he is working through the whole that we would become more like Jesus in our entirety.

    Through a series of conversations, someone has brought to my awareness that there are actually eight areas that make up our lives.  You may add or take away from the list, but I present eight:

    • The physical
    • The emotional
    • The mental
    • The spiritual
    • The digital
    • The relational
    • The missional (work, what I do)
    • The cultural (community, its impact on me and my impact on it)

    That’s a long list. I had no idea. I thought I was much simpler than that. As I’ve thought more about it, though, I’ve observed interconnectedness between them all. Sadly, my neglect in one or more areas hinders the areas where I think I’m doing well and, ultimately, impairs the whole me.

    Case in point: You love hearing a particular pastor preach, admire his spiritual maturity, yet he is severely overweight. Something is off. God is transforming him into the image of Christ but he has kept one area off limits.

    Or, a friend of yours is the life of the party, always happy and making the most of everything. You wish you had her humor and optimism. Yet, her walk with God has waned over the last year and she changes the subject every time you bring up how she is doing spiritually. Her emotional formation is on track but she has made her spiritual formation off limits. Something is off.

    God made the whole person. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139.13-14). He is intimately involved in every detail. He cares about the continued formation of every part of us, all eight parts apparently.

    In a season of serious self-evaluation over the last couple of months, I see considerable neglect as it relates to the whole me. I overemphasize some areas while tossing others to the wayside. I devalue some as not important enough. Even if I haven’t said “off limits,” I might as well have since my neglect offers the same detriment.

    I want all of me to be on the table before God, offered completely as a sacrifice to him. I want all of me to be on a formation track, moving forward, onward, and upward as I give it needed attention. God is faithfully making me more like Christ as my years go on. It is something he does. I want him to form me and he is doing so. But I want the whole me to be in his working hands.

    What on the list stands out to you? Is there an area you view as strong in your formation efforts? Is there an area that is weak or neglected, even roped off as “off limits”? Maybe you devalue an area as “not spiritual enough” to give it needed attention. Give it the time. It’s worth it. The whole you is worth it.

    ThuThursdayOctOctober22nd2015 Growing Together in the Word

    I have the privilege of leading a Discipleship Group with a few guys. We meet once a week to encourage one another and discuss the Scriptures. I love it. It’s a highlight of my week, every week (even at the early dawn hours we tend to meet).

    One early morning, after entering Panera, I found my seat as usual and waited for the guys to arrive. One by one they came and sat down, all of us wiping the sleep away from our eyes. As I was about to take a bite from my Cobblestone (that really gooey clump of wonderful), I noticed two familiar faces, but of guys not in my D Group. You don’t expect to see any other human being at that hour, let alone someone you know. But, in walked Andy and Morgan. Come to find out, this was a regular event for them. They had been meeting weekly to read the Bible together and encourage one another. I know them both well. They have been a part of the Kossuth family for quite some time. Morgan has mentioned several times how much he enjoys that interaction over God’s Word.

    They’re not the only ones. This is what God’s people do. We are creatures of the Word, and the very fact that God calls us not to walk with him alone, but together, drives us toward engaging the Scriptures with family and friends.

    I recently reviewed a book called Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty. I recommend it on a number of levels. But at one point I was struck by the reminder that God’s Word is powerful enough to bring dead people back to life. “Two spiritual parents, as with human conception, must be present for spiritual birth to take place: the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Through prayer and Scripture reading, God may open the hearts and minds of lost people for repentance and faith” (190). It’s as James says, “Of his [God’s] own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18).

    This same Word, by which we are spiritually reborn, is also what helps us grow. Life comes from God’s Word as the Spirit uses it in our hearts. So why not bring it into the relationships you have? Those of you who already practice this already know the benefits.

    Let me paint a few pictures to give you some ideas of how to incorporate reading one-to-one in your life:

    1. Consider Andy and Morgan’s model of meeting weekly to read a chapter and discuss it. And that’s not all they do. They catch up on one another’s lives and challenge one another. But the Word takes center stage. You don’t need a seminary degree to do this. Nor do you have to have been a Christian for more than 30 seconds.
    2. Join a Care Group if you are not already in one. Our small group structure includes pairing up and reading one-to-one in between meetings.
    3. Consider teaming up with another family to participate in family devotions together. You could alternate over two occasions to engage the Scriptures together, but also to steal ideas from one another.
    4. There are so many new families here at Kossuth. Consider taking it upon yourself to invite someone to meet you for coffee and read together. That would be an incredible way to get to know someone on a deeper level.

    Regardless of how it looks, do it. Look at relationships you already have (with believers and non-believers) and bring the Word of God into them. 

    First, initiate. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. Take it upon yourself. That’s loving people. Send an email right now to one person you could read with.

    Second, set a date. Get it on the calendar pronto before the idea slips away.

    Third, enjoy. Start at Mark chapter one if you don’t know where to begin. Enjoy a deeper relationship, with God’s Word at the center.

    You won’t be disappointed.

    ThuThursdayAugAugust27th2015 Who Is Your Gospel Partner?

    Dan Dillon and I are out to change the world. History is full of partnerships of two people that changed the world. Don’t believe me?

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer, Inc. There’s a decent chance you’re reading this right now on a device created by their company.

    OK, so you want a more spiritual example? Anglican clergyman John Newton and his poet friend, William Cowper, published Olney Hymns in 1779. It contained a song, "Amazing Grace," that is still popular and impactful today.

    I guess we might not be the next Jobs and Woz. But there’s another partnership I’ve been thinking about because of my preparation with Dan to teach in the new Connections class through the Gospel of Mark.

    Mark is writing an account of the good news of Jesus. However, Mark was not an apostle. He did not live and travel with Jesus to directly witness this good news. Mark was an attendant and writer for Peter. Peter, of course, was an apostle. As we’ve seen from our sermon series through Acts, Peter traveled preaching and sharing the gospel. God saw fit to work through Mark to capture many of the gospel experiences of Peter to benefit those beyond the range of Peter’s voice.

    So while Dan and I might not be the next Peter and Mark, I think the pattern is clear. A couple of guys seeking to serve God and tell the world about Jesus will have a real impact. And two are better than one.

    Do you have a gospel partner? Part of being a member of Kossuth is that we’ve agreed to be gospel partners. Join Dan and myself in the Ministry Center at 9:15 am on Sunday, September 6 as we partner together to seek God through the work of a couple of other gospel partners.

    And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

    ThuThursdayJunJune4th2015 From Sinner to Saint

    “I’m tired of this sin in my life! Why can’t I beat this?”

    Have you ever said anything like that before? I have…plenty of times. As Christians, we believe the truths of the cross. We are saved. Our sins no longer stand against us. He has removed them as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103). We believe that and we rest in that.

    But when you look at normal, everyday experience, it often looks very different. For someone whose sins are removed so far from him, I sure do sin a lot still.

    What do you struggle with? Do you struggle with an impure thought life or viewing inappropriate material on the internet? Do you sin in anger against your spouse or children? Are you tired of stuffing your face again and again instead of going to God with your emotional roller coaster? Do you hate someone? Are you bitter? Do you lie?

    The list is long. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), whether as Christians or as non-Christians. But there is a huge difference between the experiences of the two. The non-Christian is trapped, enslaved to his sin and behavior. But—thanks be to God!—the Christian is free and released from being enslaved to sin.

    Celebrate, church! This is good news. This is great news.

    When it comes to this topic there are two crucial points on the road of Christian growth and fighting sin.

    First, we look at the gospel. Every day we look at the gospel. We never stop looking at the gospel. We run to Jesus. No matter how my list of sins will grow this day, I am to rest in Christ all the day and let him speak deep into my soul that he is bigger than my sin. He loves me. He cares for me. I am his son. So are you. No matter what. That’s a promise to hold on to.

    Second, we run into the battle against sin, using all of the resources he so graciously and generously provides. But we do so in a way that is still connected to our rest in Jesus. His Spirit reminds us of Christ and empowers us toward obedience as we saturate ourselves with his word, pray fervently, spend time with fellow Christians, and even join in Christ’s mission.

    These two go together and stick together like glue.

    This summer we want to tackle this topic during our Connection hour. Beginning June 14, all Connection Groups will join in the Ministry Center. The whole church will be studying From Sinner to Saint found on GoThereFor.com.

    This study walks us through what I’ve just described above. We will take a new and fresh look at the gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of that, we will renew our efforts in the battle against sin as we live as saints in this world. I look forward to new freedoms we will all experience as we journey together through this study.

    Please join us and get excited!

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary5th2015 Your Disciple-Making Tool Belt

    I remember the day as if it were yesterday. We were sitting out on the lawn of the campus of Illinois State University. We called it the Quad. It was spring and, as you know, spring always offers a feeling of new beginnings. As a young sophomore in college, God had given me a new beginning – a rebirth and a new heart. But I needed help. I needed a guide. And not just a guide, but a trail-blazer who knew where he was going.

    So there I was, sitting on the Quad with a man by the name of Jeremy. I’m not sure how I ended up on his radar. I knew I needed help in my newly given faith. And I think he knew it by the clueless look I always had on my face. 

    Jeremy began to invest in me, and he knew what he was doing. Scripture memory? He pointed me in the right direction. Evangelism? He went with me on my dorm floor and helped me reach out to fellow students. Lead a Bible study? He was right there, and he started us in John, which I assume was his typical starting point.

    Prior to knowing Jeremy, another man by the name of Jim had also invested in me. I called Jim one day because I had been hearing a mysterious term thrown around frequently. They called it a “quiet time.” I didn’t know exactly how to have one, but I knew I needed to start. So I called Jim (this was before the inundation of Facebook and email), and Jim was kind enough to actually come to my dorm room. He sat down with me and got me started on a devotional time. But he had a plan. He had a resource that he gave me (a little pamphlet that served as a simple prayer guide). He explained it. He did it with me.

    I am forever grateful for Jeremy and Jim and other men who have come alongside of me in my Christian walk. These men took an interest in my life and equipped me to be a faithful follower of Jesus. They knew not only what I needed, but they also had a resource that they walked me through and used as a starter.

    Let’s call it a disciple-making tool belt  a resource kit from which to pull when helping someone understand and live the gospel. Mine has changed over time. It always will be changing. Do you have a disciple-making tool belt? If someone asked you how to have a devotional time, would you know how to help them? If God opens a door to share the gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ, do you have a default plan of action? If not, why not get started today?

    The list is long of options to choose from, and so many of them are great. (But beware: not all are great, or even good for that matter. If you are ever unsure, be sure to run the resource by a respected Christian as a filter). But I want to introduce you to one particular new resource for our church family that you might consider adding to your tool belt. It is called gotherefor.com and it is managed by Matthias Media (you would know them from The Trellis and the Vine and Two Ways to Live). It is an online database of e-books, Bible studies, videos, and more, all with the bent toward equipping effective disciple-makers.

    Kossuth has purchased licensing for this database and you can gain access for free with a church code. Please email me (acremeens@ksbc.net) for access to the subscription code so you can begin checking it out. It is full of great resources you can use to grow your own soul and help others as well.

    Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be mentioned in a blog by someone you helped grow spiritually on a warm, spring day years prior.

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary16th2014 Happy New Year

    New.

    It is a word we appreciate because it suggests something that hasn’t yet been used, something that represents a beginning point—perhaps a fresh start after a false one. As we enter 2014, 2013 is left behind. It is a brand new year with all the opportunity that the Lord, by His grace, will allow with it. It is a fresh start. As you evaluate 2013 (and I hope you do that!) perhaps you see that the things you spent time on wouldn’t pass the Lord’s test of “eternal value.”  Or perhaps there are victories won in 2013 which can be carried forward and solidified in this new year.

    In perusing my books recently, I came across a book written by my favorite professor from seminary, Carl B. Hoch, Jr. (he is with the Lord now…with no need to renew or refresh anything!). The book is entitled All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Baker, 1995). Just the title of this book has stirred my interest in a theme that has great prominence in Scripture. Watch for it this year as you read God’s word. Consider with me these several brief examples I have noticed and pondered.

    In reading Romans 6 recently, I was significantly impacted by verse 4 which says: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Toward the end of the verse, the phrase “just as Christ was raised from the dead” caught my attention, because it is inseparably linked to the phrase “we too might walk in newness of life.” The significance of this is profound! The power that overcame the permanence of death gives the believer the power to live (walk) day by day in newness of life! How refreshing! Praise God!

    In Revelation 21, after telling about the vision of the new heaven and a new earth (v. 1) and the new Jerusalem (v. 2), in verse 5 John records these words: “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Because of theNew Covenant, the implications of this hopeful (and certain!) statement are thrilling. Whatever your situation, because of the victory won by our King Jesus in conquering sin, death, and hell, we have a true and trustworthy promise that He is making all things new. Praise God!

    As we begin a new year of ministry at Kossuth, what will be new for you? Here are several possible areas where your commitment could either begin or be refreshed. A new commitment to:

    • Growth in grace through participation in the study of His word with His people
    • Prayer (a subject we’ll be studying in our Connection Groups in 2014)
    • Serving (if you want to serve, connect with Drew Humphrey who is mobilizing volunteers)
    • Giving (of time, treasure, talent)
    • KSBC membership (there will be membership classes coming in 2014)
    • Telling others about the new birth through Jesus, the Savior that brings new life
    • Multiplying by patiently teaching others about the new life in Jesus Christ

    In the course of whatever circumstances the Lord has you in at the moment, standing on the precipice of this new year, you can be refreshed and renewed by the truth of who you are as a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Wishing you a New Year richly blessed of our Lord who gives us the foundation, the time, the open doors, and the strength to carry out the mission for which He saved us! Grace and peace be yours as we serve Him together at Kossuth in 2014!

    ThuThursdayDecDecember12th2013 Multiply


    Multiply. For the last several months we as a church family have been inundated with this verb. And significant steps have been taken to make that verb even more a part of our lifestyle.

    But why all the fuss? Because Jesus made a pretty big fuss about it. “Go, therefore, and make disciples…” This must be a rather important topic since it permeated Jesus’ ministry and was among his last commands he gave while on earth. And, truth be told, the only reason the Kossuth family exists today is due to that fine verb. From what we read in Acts way back in the AD 30s all the way to 2013, God has been multiplying his church and involving his people in the process (people like you and me!).

    Many of you have been impacted in various ways. I’ve heard numerous stories of how God has grown us in this topic by his grace.

    One college student, Amanda, was called out of darkness into the kingdom of Christ this semester. You’ll get to hear her story in the near future of how God used Charlotte, one of our Salt and Light student leaders, to influence her with the gospel.

    We watch eagerly to see how God will impact Mitch, another college student, as Sam Childs reads the Bible one-to-one with him. They just finished Ephesians. Mitch is honest that he doesn’t yet follow Jesus but is eager with questions. And Chad Cecil recently was involved in seeing a confession of faith from a friend he has been reading the Bible with. Praise God!

    I’ve personally received the joy of getting to know JW a whole lot more as we’ve met at Moe’s to read one-to-one over mighty large burritos. (Does it get any better than that…Bibles and burritos?!) JW and I have been in the same Care Group for quite a while. But now our interaction has gone to a whole new level.

    My wife, Kari, saw God open the door to read the Bible with two of our neighbors. It has really gone well and been enjoyable for her. We thank God for this opportunity.

    The men in one Care Group meet once a month and then split up into pairs to read the Bible together. As they do this, they also leave margin in their schedules to reach out and read the Bible one-to-one with those who don’t know Christ.

    I could give you several names from our church family who have begun to read the Bible one-to-one with coworkers.

    And all you do is have to bring up reading the Bible one-to-one with Kirk O’Dell to find yourself quickly energized that such an activity is worth your time.

    Some of you (fellow) introverts have taken significant, even heroic, steps in reaching out to invite nonbelievers to read the Bible one-to-one. I thank God with you as you’ve taken hard steps of obedience, even when it was uncomfortable.

    Not to mention all the invites that have gone out from you but were turned down. Don’t be discouraged. RSVPs are not our department. That belongs to God the Spirit. And who knows how God is using our invites in the process of drawing men and women from among our neighbors and the nations.

    Please don’t hear me saying that reading the Bible with others or outreach or multiplying is any new thing at Kossuth. It’s not, or else Kossuth wouldn’t exist right now. But I do invite you to join me in rejoicing at the significant pace God has brought us to as a disciple-making church. And we have so much more to look forward to!

    This past Sunday we wrapped up this series on multiplication. But we never wrap up the call on our lives to be disciples who make disciples (until we no longer abide on this earth). May God be glorified as we continue to multiply in generations to come!

    WedWednesdaySepSeptember18th2013 Rain in the Forecast
    byDon Whipple Tagged Discipleship Scripture 0 comments Add comment


    My lawn was brown. It rained. Now my lawn is green.

    As annoying as that is to a mowing-averse person, rain brought transformation. Isaiah the prophet thought that by understanding the impact of rain and snow (Isa. 55:8-13) to make the earth productive with life-sustaining plants, you could understand the power of the Bible to accomplish radical change in lives today. One of the dearest confidences that we hold to be true is that the Bible is active, effective, and powerful to bring a person from death to life. God works in powerful and transformative ways through the reading and understanding of his word, the Bible. If you are a saved-by-God person, blame it on the power of the Bible.      

    We may be on the verge of an outbreak of Bible reading here at KSBC. I sat in a meeting this week where our Connection and Care Group leaders told several stories of various responses to the One to One Bible Reading study we are doing in these adult discipleship venues. Like clouds gathering on the horizon, there seems to be a growing anticipation that God is doing a work among us to change lives through his word and redemptive relationships. The real time stories I am hearing indicate a growing awareness and confidence in the power of God’s words along with increasing effort to reach out to others to read the Bible together.

    As we prayerfully anticipate continued growth in reading the Bible with others, let me share a few ways that we can encourage each other and be receptive to what God is doing among us.

    Get the training. While the training is offered free online, the best way to learn is with others in a Connections Group on Sunday mornings at 10:45. If you have not been able to participate in a group or you have missed a Sunday, you can catch up online. There is a companion book that, in addition to including the training material, has an incredibly helpful section giving practical helps for reading the Bible yourself and with someone else. Let’s encourage each other to get exposed to this simple method of spreading the good news.

    Renew your own heart. It is too easy to develop bad habits regarding our personal Bible reading and study. God reveals himself and his transforming love to us as we engage with his word. Some who regularly read the Bible need to be humbled again to read carefully, patiently, and prayerfully. Some who struggle with reading the Bible have simply yielded to a laziness that says the Bible is impossible for the average Christian to understand. I pray that this elevated conversation about Bible reading will stimulate many of you to seek someone to read the Bible with you, if only for the purpose of retuning our hearts to hear and feed on God’s powerful words.

    Pray earnestly for God to bless our efforts and fulfill his promises. As his word rains down on our lives and those we read with, ask God to graciously produce new life and fruit for his glory. We live in the joyful expectation that God’s powerful word prevails as we receive it and obey it. Pray for deep life saturation and new life growth as KSBC reads the Bible together. 

    ThuThursdayJulJuly18th2013 Imagine the Fruit
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Discipleship Evangelism 0 comments Add comment

    [Guest post by Abraham Cremeens, Minister of Discipleship and Worship.]

    But many of those who had heard the word believed,
    and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)

    "The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make the man of God like the Son of God." That was a phrase I heard years ago during a conference teaching. Not only does it have a good rhythm, but it’s biblical.

    The Word of God is central to all spiritual growth. And God uses ordinary people like you and me in the proclamation of his Word.

    For four years Kari and I have slowly built a relationship with several of our neighbors. They are fun, normal, goofy people, just like us (although my “normalcy” might be debatable). Liam plays with their kids’ toys and they play with Liam’s—normal, everyday stuff.

    A couple of weeks ago Kari was talking with one of the women and simply invited her to begin reading the Bible together. Our neighbor was excited about the opportunity and soon after, one of our other neighbors welcomed the invite as well.

    Within the same week, one of the men came over to help unload our groceries. With no prompt, he began to describe a recent event as a “God-moment” and not just a coincidence. Seems like another opportunity to invite someone in to a reading one-to-one opportunity.

    Regardless of how we interact with our friends and family, the end-goal is the same: spend time in God’s Word with others. Simple. Powerful. Not rocket science. No degree needed.

    You have dear people in your life that you care about: friends, family, children, neighbors, co-workers. The people in these relationships are just waiting for you to open up the Bible with them. It's true, they are. Statistics show that many would answer “yes” if a friend were to invite them to read the Bible with them. But why lean on statistics when we have the sovereign hand of God at work around us? He has people set apart from before the beginning of time to receive salvation (2 Tim. 1.9). The harvest is plentiful. Are you willing to trust God in faith and reach out to a friend in this way? You won’t regret it.

    And we want to help. This fall we will be sailing some adventurous and exciting waters together. In an effort to further understand what discipleship is and how to conform to Jesus’ command to make disciples, we will further the “Multiply” series within our Connection Groups and Care Groups. As part of the teaching curriculum, connection groups will teach and lead discussions on topics related to discipleship and reading the Bible one-to-one. Further, Care Groups will take the same material and make it a part of their Care Group time and encourage application through Care Group relationships. Imagine the fruit that would come from the majority of our church family actively reading the Bible and praying together with one another and with non-Christian friends.

    You can even get a head start by visiting this website: reading121.org.

    WedWednesdayJunJune19th2013 Certain Particularity
    byDon Whipple Tagged Discipleship 0 comments Add comment


    Who or what deploys the most formative power in your life?

    When my wife occasionally says that our sons act or talk just like me, if what they did was really good then I believe in formative power. If what they said was bad, I simply wonder who in the world their father could possibly be.

    Granted, the question flies in the face of our individualism and programming that deceive us at times into thinking that we are not influenced by others or outside events. This is a significant issue to consider for many reasons, but consider it in the context of our current church-wide discussion of disciple-making. Remember the definition of the word “disciple” that we used a few weeks ago as we focused our attention on Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:16-20:

    Mathetes (the greek word translated “disciple”) always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the whole life of the disciple and which in its particularity leaves no doubt as to who is deploying the formative power.

    Our obedience to Christ then clearly involves pouring our lives out to multiply the number of people who have a personal attachment to Christ which shapes and forms their life in a public and powerful way. Leading others in a growing relationship with Christ is restricted by definition to those who have a growing relationship with Christ. Making disciples is restricted to those who are attached to Christ and who display the formative power of his particular way of living.

    For some this is a huge factor as it explains why the subject of disciple-making carries no appeal for you. It seems like another thing that God or the church expects you to do. The key to unlocking the door between you and obediently leveraging your life to deploy the formative power of Christ in others’ lives is strengthening your own weak connection to Christ.

    Most of us can or want to answer the opening question simply with “Jesus.” Bill Clem, in his book Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus, makes the point that one significant barrier to making disciples is an identity crisis among people like us that hinders and restricts the formative power we bring to bear on others around us. Consider these three examples he lists in chapter 4 of his book:

    1. I am what I do. Therefore if you do not like what I do or if I do not succeed at what I do, then I am a failure.
    2. I am what has been done to me. Therefore I cannot escape from the victimization of being sinned against or suffering, and I must protect myself.
    3. I am my relationships, roles and responsibilities. Therefore my life is restricted and defined by marriage, parenting, singleness, and loneliness.

    The point is that as a disciple of Jesus Christ it is easy to get stuck in these distortions and neglect the truth that our identity is in Christ. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the power of the gospel our lives have been transformed to be in Christ and bear his image. This certain particularity of the formative power of Christ is the key to you being an effective maker of disciples. Check this truth out by feeding on Galatians 2:20 (“it is no longer I that live”) and Colossians 3:1-4 (“for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”).

    Let’s seek God together in such a way that our hearts will be transformed toward the magnificence of Jesus so that he becomes our formative power and our certain particularity. Disciple-making depends on it.  

    MonMondayJulJuly2nd2012 Intentionality in discipleship

    [Guest post from pastoral intern Abraham Cremeens]
     
    God saved me early in my college career at Illinois State University. As a young college student with a newly given faith, I was young and green and clueless. I remember looking around me at more mature Christians and wanting the vibrant, fruitful relationship with Christ that they had. So I began to ask around.

    I called Jim. “Hey, Jim, what is this whole Scripture memory thing I keep hearing about?” And Jim came over and showed me how to memorize Scripture. I called Jim again. “Hey, Jim, what is this whole devotional time thing about?” And Jim came over again and showed me how he spends time with God.

    Soon after that I met Jeremy. He began to meet with me weekly and help me in my walk with God and also how to discuss my faith with friends on my dorm floor.

    After Jeremy moved away, I met Kent, after which I met Kevin…and you see the pattern. God has been so good to me in placing men in my life, even up to this present day, who have intentionally helped me grow spiritually. And God has given me numerous opportunities to help others with the same.

    The word “intentionality” is one we use a lot in SLCF. And yet it is a word that can often be found missing in the pursuit of discipleship. Most Christians agree that discipleship is part of any biblical church. Most Christians understand that we need one another for fruitful, God-glorifying spiritual growth. But in my experience intentionality often lacks in discipleship.

    Intentionality is the opportunity for you to ask how you can better help someone grow to be more like Christ to God’s glory. It is thinking ahead of time about spiritual needs and ways to help those around you that you care about. It may be your children as you disciple them. It may be a younger believer in your life. It may even be a spiritual peer, someone you meet with regularly who is similar in spiritual maturity as you.

    To help us be more intentional in discipleship, Kari (my wife) and I often ask three questions.*
    1. Where is he/she now (needs)?
    2. Where am I taking him/her?
    3. What is the next step?
    Let’s say small group leader Bob sees a pattern of criticism in small group member Justin. Bob sees his opportunity of helping Justin grow in this area of his life and wants to take a step forward in helping Justin become more like Christ. Bob sits down one evening and begins writing down some thoughts. 

    “Where is Justin now?” Justin is regularly critical toward others and other small group members are beginning to avoid him. “Where am I taking Justin?”  I’m going to walk with Justin out of criticism and into a lifestyle that builds others up. “What is my next step?” I will initiate a coffee with Justin in the next week.  During that time I will lovingly bring his pattern of criticism to Justin’s attention, using Eph 4:29 to make it clear what his end goal should be. If Justin is repentant, I will encourage him toward an arrangement where I regularly interact with him when I note either a critical comment (to further challenge him) or a comment that builds someone up (to encourage him as I see progress).

    That is at least one picture of what intentionality looks like in discipleship. Let’s grow in our love for one another as a church family by asking how we can specifically journey with others through spiritual growth to God’s glory.


    *These questions came out of Kari's time on staff with Campus Outreach Gulf Coast.
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