Monthly Archives

April 2016

Day 10: Don’t Add! Multiply!

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I did not get my assignment done yesterday….I could have fit it in but I didn’t. Work was super busy as we planted trees and educated local students at schools.   Almost  immediately after I got home we started the Secret Church Simulcast with David Platt for 6 hours.  Over 25 people showed up and we Got to listen David bring the word for 6 hours.  It was awesome!  I could try squeeze 2 of these in today but I am going to allow myself a mulligan.  I am going to try do this well.  As part of the challenge I did ask a younger employee of mine to do the discipleship challenge with me and he agreed to.  Also my wife and some of her friends are looking at starting it…..I really should have asked her to do this with me from the start.  In the last couple of years I have felt challenged to do more of the same studies and things with my wife so we can get a common vision.  It is too easy for her to do Beth Moore and me to do my guys study and for us to get excited but not be on the same mission together.
I loved the video and a few years back I read a book called “The Making of a Disciple” by Dr. Keith Phillips.  He made a similar point on how if he made one true disciple who discipled another after 30 years it would be around 6 billion people!  We need to think more about things like this.  Too many times I want a quick fix or a big show but God has layed on my heart that I need to stay the course with discipleship.  I love the challenge Curtis layed down that:   “The only way to do this was to focus on making disciples that multiplied and making churches that multiplied.”  We need to start getting rid jof some of the “good” things and focus on discipleship that multiplies.  Jesus model worked pretty well as he discipled 12 well and those 12 changed the world!

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 22

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Day 22: Self-Feeding…And The Word of God.  Today we got introduced to the idea of three thirds groups (DBSs) and accountability partner groups and we were challenged to begin praying over who we would invite to those groups.  I have to admit that the idea of adding two more group meetings to my week on top of what I already have going on seems a tiny bit daunting.  Then to think about reading 25-30 chapters a week…wow.  I am generally doing well if I get through 1-2 chapters a day (equaling 7-14 chapters a week).  I completely understand with God as my top priority, I should jump all over adding this time with Him, but it is so hard when there is only so much time in the day and that time seems to already be spent up.  I am going to have to pray about this a lot to see how I can make this work, because I do see the importance in these things.  When I was discussing these ideas and my feelings/worry about time restrictions with my husband, he suggested that I “wake up earlier and drink more coffee.”  I suppose that is a good suggestion (especially the getting up earlier part).  Some other ideas that I have already are:

-cutting less important things

-possibly meeting with my accountability partner over the phone or through video chatting (maybe at least every other week, or something like that.)

I think that it is possible to implement these principles even if you work full time and have two babies and a husband at home.  I think it is possible to implement these principles even if you have a child with health difficulties and developmental delays resulting in multiple appointments each week.  You simply have to figure out how you can work these in.  Sometimes that may mean subtracting something from your schedule that is less important (e.g., TV, facebook, committees/meetings, etc.) and other times that might mean getting creative with your implementation sometimes.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 21

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Day 21: Self-Feeding Disciples.  Today was not the most productive day when it comes to meeting this challenge.  Yesterday, I mentioned wanting to complete the SOAPS study in the morning, so my plan was to start that today, but I forgot that I had to be at work an hour early for a meeting.  Which when you have kiddos who need to get ready and go to daycare means quite the early morning, so it didn’t get finished.  I thought I would just complete it tonight.  I went to work where I participated in 6 IEP meetings (which may not mean a lot to everyone, but it is ALOT for one day).  Then right after work I met a friend to go to a sisterhood event that was put on by her church.  The event started at 7:00, so I thought I would have plenty of time after that.  Well, it is 11:20 and I literally just walked in my door, sat down, and began writing.  I did listen to the video as I drove home tonight so that I could be up to date on the self-feeding section that we are going to begin.  Tonight, I was thankful for 4G…

I am glad that there is a section on self-feeding in this training.  I feel that though I know the concepts of self-feeding, I still sometimes struggle to completely devote myself to it.  Many times I get busy and it seems like there are too many things competing for my attention to devote the time and energy into self feeding that I should.  However, I know there is great importance to that because as the video presented, Sunday morning shouldn’t be the place that you’re expecting to get fed.  Even if that was the purpose of Sunday morning worship, it wouldn’t be enough spiritual food to grow you and sustain you.  We must be in the word daily, worshiping daily, and spending time in prayer with our Creator.  That is how we maintain a close relationship with him.

Day 9: Urgency

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Today myself and group of friends of mine did a chapel at a local high school.  We presented about God’s heart for the nations.  We shared about the 10/40 window and how 70% of the people groups in the 10/40 window are unreached.  Many of the people in these people groups will be born, live, and die all without hearing the gospel.  And like in Curtis’ video the reality is that people are dieing without Christ every second.  Does that affect or pain us?  It should.  We shared how God’s heart from Genesis through Revelations was “Enjoy my grace.  Extend my Glory.”

I am trying to reorient my life and say no to many good things.  The world offers us many good things and tries to get us to believe the lie that we need more “down” time or “thoughtless” time.  But I have realized that I receive more life from picking up the pace and focusing on ways to engage and inspire others to follow Jesus.  Tomorrow night we are having a wide group of people over to do a secret church simulcast with David Platt.  This simulcast video is 6 hours of David Platt plowing through scripture.  The pace of us taking in this much scripture is awesome.   To some this sounds boring and not fun but to myself this is life giving and purposeful, way better than 6 hours of Netflix.    We did this with 9 people last year and this year it looks like we are going to have around 20 this year.  I have been challenged to live life with more urgency for the gospel.  We lack urgency in what we do and we think we are invincible.  We are willing to waste time on trivial things and put off the lost.  I need to look at my list of 25 daily and pray who God wants me to talk to.  I have some buddhist friends that God is working on.  I need to keep praying and keep being intentional about interacting with them.  If they died tomorrow where would they go?  I know the answer and that should cause me to live at a faster pace with more urgency.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 20

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Day 20: SOAPS.  I am writing this just before bed and I just finished my SOAPS bible study on Luke 6.  I like this way of devotion because it provides a structure to think about what you are reading.  Sometimes when I read the bible I find myself reading the words on the page but they maybe don’t stick with me, or quite frankly, there have been times when I will be reading the words but thinking of something else and then I have to go back and re-read what I was reading when I was distracted.  Providing this kind of structure to my study of the bible would help me to be intentional about what I am reading and how I plan to apply that knowledge.  The main thing that I want to start doing different is the time of day that I study.  I usually study at night, but I like the idea of doing it in the morning (at least attempting to…I treasure my sleep :)).  If I would spend time doing a SOAPS study in the morning that would give me the opportunity to think throughout the day about how to apply it and share it with others.  I could say that I will study at night and then implement the next day, but I know how life gets busy and I get forgetful.  I think it would be good to have that morning reminder.

In other news, since you are my captive audience right now, let me tell you about this incredible event that I went to at our church tonight!  Each quarter a team from our church puts together a night to learn about, pray for, and support our missionaries.  We call it Global Outreach Night and tonight was the North Africa Edition.  The workers that we support who are working in northern Africa were actually there and spoke about what God is doing where they work.  The focus of their work is starting a disciple making movement, which is exactly what we are learning to do through this 30 day training.  It was AMAZING to hear about the work that God is doing through them and the team they work with.  They spoke of making disciples through a lot of the things we are being challenged to do and how those disciples are now making disciples.  Please take a moment to pray for these workers in Africa and the discipleship groups that they are beginning.

Webinar Notes – “My Friend Just Asked, ‘What About God?’ – Now What?”

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March 16, 2017 Webinar Notes

“My Friend Just Asked, “What About God? – Now What?” featuring  David Watson, DMM Trainer with CityTeam and author of “Contagious Disciple Making”

Click here for printable pdf – March 16 Webinar Notes – David Watson

 

  • Today’s Webinar
    • What might 24/7 prayer (and a 24/7 prayer room) do for your outreach?
    • How do we go from “Hi” to a Discovery Bible Study (DBS)?
    • How might God use a DBS to lead your friend to Christ?
  • David – 30 years, church plants in 168 countries
  • Why is Disciple Making Movements (DMM’s) important to future and growth of the local church?
    • Resistant communities were resistant to Christianity as religion but not towards the Gospel
      • How do we present the Gospel without transmitting religious culture with it and have them take it into their culture?
      • Experimented for awhile and the Discovery Bible study (DBS) came out of that process
      • Listen to God without listening to me as a religious person
    • What is a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) and what does a typical one look like?
      • A DBS is used in a Discovery group
      • DBS – Simple 3 column inductive Bible Study
        • 3 parts
          • Write down the scripture
            • Engages different part of brain for learning
          • Tell someone else about this scripture in their own words
            • Demonstrates understanding and engages other part of brain
          • If this is from God, what are you going to do about it? How will you obey?
            • Gets people engaged in listening to God from his Word
          • DBS Group – Uses this study as a platform to grow a group process that leads to church
            • Group is responsible for establishing DNA of new church
              • What are you thankful for?
                • Leads to worship and prayer later as they become believers
              • What challenges/struggles do you have in your life?
                • Leads to intercession and ministry in community itself
              • Are there other people in the community that are going through the same thing and how can we help them?
                • Leads to prayer and ministry outside the body of Christ
              • What does this teach us about God?
              • What does this teach us about man?
              • If this is from God, what are we as a group going to do about it?
              • Who are you going to tell it to?
                • Leads to evangelism in community
              • Last week, how did it go with your sharing?
                • Leads to accountability in the process.
              • How long do they last?
                • 45 mins but for every person you add, it adds time.
                • 5 people – can be hour and half vs 20 several hours
                • Keep group in 5-8 people until believers
                • Then combine those that become believers into larger group meeting which later becomes a “church”
              • Example
                • First was worst as learning
                • Step 1 Enter community to become acceptable outsider
                  • Access of some kind (i.e. business or ministry meeting needs/ disaster)
                • Step 2 Find people God prepared to go to and hear the Gospel from a person of a different source
                  • Person of Peace
                  • To find them, I have to be a conspicuous spiritual person
                    • Person of prayer
                    • Cares
                    • Intimate with God
                    • Spiritual
                  • They must be looking for spiritual answers
                  • Hard to find them. You need to be a beacon of light and draw them to you by living and working in community very conspicuously spiritual
                  • Everywhere we have lived, our home as become known as a house of prayer or healing. People would show up and asking for prayer/healing.
                • Step 3 Begin having spiritual conversations
                  • Mini DBS – Informal, raising spiritual questions, asking them to discuss with family/friends
                    • “I was reading this morning that God knows everything. What do you think about that?
                    • “Why don’t you go back to your community and see what they think about it.”
                  • Not a person of peace unless they can go back to community and able to discuss spiritual matters
                  • In fact, Satan may send them to distract you from finding the person of peace, if they are not willing to share
                  • You can still fellowship with them but don’t spiritually invest
                  • People that bring back questions and comments from family and friends and then help them understand and look for themselves and ask what they think.
                  • Learning takes place in dialogue not monologue
                • Step 4 Move toward formalizing it by negotiating with them
                  • “We’ve been having a lot of spiritual conversations and coming from the Holy Book I read. Can we sit down and read together and walk through process together with family and friends? You can see it directly instead of my opinion.”
                  • This leads to DBS group
                • Step 5 Immediately identify spiritual leader in group (this may or may not be the person of peace)
                  • Coach them to lead the group (not me)
                    • If I lead a group, Im the expert and nobody will talk or come up with ideas
                    • If I coach a person from their own group that’s “lost” to just ask the questions to the group, their discussion is much more animated.
                    • Questions may come back to me through person I’m coaching
                    • Realizes doesn’t take an expert, it just takes them, Word of God and studying to come to a place of giving their life to Christ
                    • Give them written/printed verses and questions each week (or oral recording)
                  • House of Prayer – How does your house begin to look like that among a people group?
                    • Prayer Walking – Walk around own community and pray. People will engage you and ask questions.
                      • “I’m a person of prayer and I would love to pray for you and any problems you may have and giving thanks to God for things that are happening in your life.”
                      • Never had the lost turn down prayer. Pastors and Christians have…but not the lost.
                      • Even in hindu, muslim, Buddhist, animist – they want someone spiritual to be talking about
                      • Most common request is health and second is financial (poverty/provision for food/school)
                    • Engage them in prayer in community
                    • Keep prayers conversational
                      • “Who are you talking to?”
                      • “I’m talking to God. He calls me His friend so I talk to Him like a friend.”
                    • Word gets out that you’re a person of prayer and people come to your house
                    • Prayer alter in foyer. First thing people see.
                      • Globe, Bible, 3 element light (trinity), Cross and prayer list (book we open that people can sign into it)
                    • God begins to answer prayers in peoples lives. When there’s something done outside of what I could do, they start to pay attention and want to know more about this God because we haven’t been seeing this from our god.
                    • People start talking about prayer and a community around those spiritual issues begins to form and they want to know more.
                    • 24/7 Prayer Room – Paul Rogers, Elder from Church in Indiana. Prayer team has created 24/7 prayer room. Watch this video: https://vimeo.com/159434859
                  • Going from “Hi” or prayer to a DBS
                    • Movement starter – My role isn’t to win a soul to Christ or to start a church. I start a movement, which is churches starting churches
                    • Think about the multiplication from the beginning.
                      • Don’t see an individual in need of God. See a doorway to a community that is in need of God.
                      • It’s a group process…not typically done as an individual.
                      • I coach the leader and avoid stepping into the group. If I do, it usually will not replicate.
                      • Relationship – still engage and fellowship in community with them but not in group
                    • Those groups begin to multiply and can even start more groups before they are believers. Very common
                    • Alot of cultures you work with have a teacher/guru mentality, one central spiritual authority that tells you what to think, believe and do.
                    • Move to John 6:43-45 Jesus says the Father is going to be your teacher. Everyone who listens and learns from God will come to Christ.
                    • How can I get people to listen to God and not from me or my church? We will see at some point, these groups will multiply.
                    • Only about 20% of groups you start will continue. That means you aren’t wasting your time.
                    • Those that do go through completion of receiving Christ, living as a Christian, character issues, learning how to be a church, learning how to be leaders and equipping them through the same DBS process. Everything points back to His Word.
                    • Question: Process sounds fuzzy. Groups grow 5-8. What does it look like when it splits?
                      • Never hiving or splitting. That will destroy them.
                      • Start new groups with new people. Everyone in group has relationships. Instead of bringing them in and catching them up, let’s start another group with them. They start the same process from beginning. Now coaching 2 facilitators, etc.
                      • Focus on groups that continue, not ones that quit.
                      • This can take up to a half year where they love or hate God but still believe in Jesus. But 25-30 come to Christ. Establish relationship with God not me.
                      • Believers start having group meetings which develop into churches.
                    • Describe how DBS started in an example
                      • Largest is still going. Started in 1994 and it’s up to over 200,000 churches with avg church size of 60. No limitations because in country densely populated.
                      • Over 36,000 churches in last 10 years in Muslim environment in Africa.
                      • Jeff Sandall in North Carolina is over 1,000 groups in US
                      • Some start in US and jump to other countries and grow more quickly
                      • Potential is always astounding. Not unusual at year 3 to see 500-600 new churches (not groups) (especially in Africa)
                      • Size varies on community.
                        • Muslim cap around 30
                        • Nonmuslim caps around 65
                          • Leadership issues – Take a lot of training for larger size
                        • Government Restrictions on meeting size
                          • China – only allows families or groups of 8 to meet
                        • Insider can take a spiritual conversation much deeper than an outsider
                        • Ideas move or fail very quickly so you aren’t wasting time
                        • Lots of time meeting, praying, coaching, mentoring church leaders.
                        • Starts slowly. Stay with it 3-4 years.
                        • Spend 2-4 years with leadership and church but during that time they may start 20-25 more churches. I focus on growing leaders and they take over evangelism side.
                        • Encourage them and challenging them to expand.
                        • If church doesn’t reproduce by 2 years, they wont. Don’t give them my time.
                        • Focus on leaders that are doing something, facing extreme problems but still moving.
                        • Harder cross cultural issue isn’t race but religion
                      • Questions
                        • What difference does the context make when you see these work? For example, working on approach like this in the West versus doing in place never heard the Gospel? Not used to prayer answered in miraculous way.
                          • Easiest place to do this is no contact or adversity against Christianity at all. No preconceived ideas. Don’t even use “Christian” or “church”.
                          • Muslims taught that we are corrupt. Start with moral sections. “Does this sound corrupt to you?” Then broaden reading so they realize it is historical dialogue.
                          • Hardest is Western and highly Christianized area like South Korea.
                            • Expectations of what a church is becomes a filter for everything they hear. When you help them deconstruct this, they will start to listen to the Word again.
                            • Maybe left church in anger
                            • Did business with a Christian and cheated me. Christians sleep around.
                          • I want to learn to be a friend of God. (John 15 No longer slave but friend)
                            • Most cultures friend means something
                            • Ask “What do you think it means to be a friend of God?”
                          • Worst thing you can do is mix people that don’t know God with people that think they know God as Christians. Those groups rarely succeed.
                        • How do you adapt the group to the US context if you have to when in Western society? What questions are helpful? Does it look exactly the same?
                          • We don’t change anything. Same everywhere we go.
                        • As the groups begin to start 2nd & 3rd generation groups, do you find people are members of more than one group? How does that work?
                          • Don’t encourage them to be member of two groups. Be member of primary group and then coaching the facilitator in other group. (1 hr/wk)
                        • If a person is a FT missionary, they have plenty of time. If person has FT job. What’s typical number of hours per week? What can a wife/mother can do?
                          • Any gender can engage in this with their circle of influence
                          • Spent most of my life as FT worker and missionary
                          • 8-10 hours/week to ministry, you can start groups that replicate. Maybe a little slower because coaching time. This alone can be 25-30 hrs/week.
                        • What scriptures can a person can/should include? After you get through discovering God set, and discovering obedience set, what’s next? Where do you start?
                          • moredisciples.com – Scripture sets will be posted
                          • Primary beginning is understanding His 8 primary characteristics and we choose verses that teach that
                            • Righteous, all powerful, everywhere, knows everything, source of grace, hates sin, keeps promises, provides for our salvation
                          • Then present God incarnate.
                          • Many quickly become believers if they make it to this point.
                          • Then once they believe, they go back go back to first set as believers.
                          • One Another passages – 77
                          • What are the functions of the church? Do through primary leader of group to coach their church
                          • Discovery leadership
                          • Discovery church planting to places you don’t know anyone
                        • What do you call them? DBS groups?
                          • I don’t call them anything in the group. Not a group or church but the people will call it a Bible Reading Group. I avoid naming things because that is cultural.
                          • Name may be negative to their culture or portray something not true
                          • If it gets named, it gets named by the local people
                        • In US, people often changing jobs and moving to new community. If someone moves, do you coach them to start new group.
                          • Always coach anyone that moves if we can maintain the relationship and get them to start one where they live.
                        • Resources – Need more information
                        • What will you do to obey?
                          • Not just knowing but obeying
                          • Relationship of obedience
                          • We start all workers in great commandments and great commission
                            • Love God
                            • Love people
                            • Going
                              • Making disciples
                              • Establish Churches
                              • Teaching them to obey everything God has commanded
                            • If you don’t Go, nothing happens.
                            • If you go but don’t make disciples, nothing happens
                            • If you go and make disciples but don’t establish churches, lasts less than a gen
                            • If you go and make disciples, baptize but don’t teach obedience, then it’s a cultural church that doesn’t reach out to community in loving God and people
                            • All 4 are reproducing model as one depends on the others.

 

 

Webinar Notes – The Magic of Multiplication: How my church can make it happen

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April 27th Webinar Notes – “The Magic of Multiplication: How my church can make it happen” featuring Dr. George Patterson

Click here for printable pdf:   Webinar Notes – Dr. George Patterson

Dr. George Patterson – “Insightful, pastoral and lively”, 83 years old, Sebring, FL

  • Today’s Webinar
    • We will explore the possibilities of growing your church, both internally and externally, through the magic of multiplication
    • Since 1970’s, Dr. Patterson trained pastors and planted churches in Central America, then continued training church planters at Western Seminary (1989-2007)
  • Why obedience? Booklet written in 70’s “Obedience-Oriented Education and Evangelism by Extension” (Later changed to “Theological Education and Evangelism by Extension”)
    • I went to teach in traditional Bible institute with classroom training with theory that would multiply churches but it didn’t work. Had hundreds of villages to reach.
    • Shifted to extension in villages to teach elder types, win them to Christ, train them in homes.
    • God blessed & church started to multiply
    • Snag
      • Older pastors/students opposed it because they weren’t ordained by their standards
      • Baptisms & Lords supper “not valid”
    • Obedience to Jesus comes before man-made rules
    • Curtis Sergeant – orthodoxy vs orthopraxy = knowledge vs obedience
    • How did it play out?
      • Went to one village and his disciple went to others
      • 15 yrs almost 100 churches started. Nothing compared to today but great for “the day”
      • Home churches unheard of
      • Did everything “wrong” but basic principles from New Testament (NT)
    • Same or Different from DMM?
      • Similar, attuned to NT, power of Holy Spirit, glorify Christ above all and keep things simple to multiply rapidly
      • Curtis has clarified NT principles and easy to follow
      • George uses NT as filter. If church policy/practice not required in NT…it’s out. Keep to what Christ and apostles have commanded. All healthy movements use this filter.
      • Audience Question: Patterson’s book “Come Quickly Dawn” – written in Spanish to train pastors in Honduras, novel story, traditional church works their way through problems and hundreds of home churches. Based on true events. People learn better from illustration instead of abstract lecture.
    • Movements Surprising?
      • The most productive decade in history. Surprise or expectation? Not surprise because NT teaches multiplication & reproduction. Christ’s parables show this and multiplication is God’s norm but vastly neglected. But surprised by extent that multiplication carried. What they saw in Central America doesn’t compare. Thrilled me to see Holy Spirit work.
    • Recommendations for DMMs?
      • Movements started by missionaries with traditional background. Have principles but not experience. I beg you not to try to work the principles mechanically. Doesn’t work. Have a passionate love for Christ that motivates them. If you love Me obey my commands…this produces the movement.
      • Biggest errors – come from Western background with separate programs. Need to integrate, combine spiritual gifts, blend pastoral training with church planting, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4, Rom 12, Do all to the glory of Christ. Less book reading/ abstraction and jump in and obey Jesus out of passionate love.
      • Tough to teach passion – more caught than taught. Can’t teach. Take an apprentice on a trip to see the churches multiply. A day or two observing will do far more than months of lecture/books. Model as Jesus and Paul. Let them make mistakes. Learn much faster and accurately.
      • Model in Honduras – take a principle, teach it, hold them accountable to 65 topics to emphasize.
        • Kept track to what his disciple would agree to do. Next time, had him report for accountability in presence of other trainees, peer pressure
        • I must share fully responsibility for them doing it effectively in Holy Spirit as they are.
        • Bible college about regurgitation of words, phrases & beliefs but you held them accountable to commands of Christ and other NT commands. God holding them accountable and holding themselves accountable.
        • Taught academic, accountable to obedience & then multiply 2 Tim 2:2
      • Married to Booklets? – some being trained were poor readers, and they couldn’t afford books. So made tiny booklets that got right to the point. Made it easy to read and do.
        • Paul-Timothy.net – Galen Currah’s site – George Patterson’s legacy 117 free study booklets – walk person through practice and then obedience in a simplified way. 60 languages around the world. Needed them for home churches in India.
      • This idea of accountability & obedience built into DBS (Discovery Bible Studies), 3/3rds. How could you imagine these practices integrated with local church in USA today. Preachers speaks, people return every week but how do we know they are leaving and applying. How can we integrate these NT principles?
        • It is happening now – traditional churches starting to send workers from their church to start home churches for people that will not attend traditional church
        • Key – don’t ever require whole congregation to change. Every church has a few members that are eager to do more for Christ and serve. Ministry positions filled so sit frustrated. Free them and turn them loose to start home churches. Require what Christ and apostles required and nothing else. Can retain mother church doctrine and denomination but not held to man-made rules but amazing to what can happen through the Holy Spirit.
        • Church needs to simplify programming so people can focus on multiplication? Overly busy and lose sight of the core things?
          • Jesus was the great simplifier. Took Torah and reduced them to one sentence. To simplify you must know core issues of Christ’s/apostles commands and apostolic practices
          • For Westerners, greatest difficulty in simplifying, way too slow in obeying Jesus
            • Ethiopian asked to be baptized immediately
            • Don’t delay in obeying Jesus, delay is decay
            • Rapid obedience
          • What if not pastor yet…attending meetings…how do we hold them accountable? May not even be believer. Word “pastor” was used once in NT for humans besides Jesus (Eph 4). Concept of Sr Pastor I respect but not in NT. Shepherding always done by elders. Not hung up on it. Don’t hold to manmade rules to who can baptize. Phillip did and was not an ordained pastor.
            • We have formalized roles more than what was done in NT and placed unrealistic conditions that slow movement down.
            • Person not believer but interested – prepare them for next meeting for them to tell a story about Jesus and will convert themselves.
            • One of greatest enemies of free flow of God’s grace in America is we are all striving for excellence, let’s lower the bar/standards until they are just Biblical.
            • moredisciples.com – 30 multiplication principles, bite sized, emailed daily
          • What will it take to change course here in U.S.? (lack of growth)
            • God already bringing change about and letting older denominations decline
              • House churches growing without high-tech and high academic programs with no place in scripture. Impossible model to imitate. Must be able to imitate for multiplication.
              • Americans are “satisfied” “wealthy”. Multiplication will happen among younger, post moderns, poorer. Not in older denominations that traditions are so heavy that they are impossible to reproduce rapidly.
              • Rabbit vs Elephant – Elephant = longer gestation and one baby.
              • Stop making idol of “bigness”- easier to win people to Christ in their own home or friend’s, own people, clothes
            • Mentor and Multiply Website – passion to see 1,000 come to Christ and must be done through thinking small and house churches. Larger congregation, the less members are involved in evangelism per member. Christian Schwartz proved this through research, greatest hindrance is size.
            • Any changes you would make?
              • More skill modeling – less lecture/books/classroom. Train like Christ and Paul.
              • More careful about holiness in my own life. I would get careless. Lost temper on field, not very loving. Be more gentle & patient except about obeying Jesus and expecting people to grow.
            • Advice you would give to a beginner to maximize impact?
              • Obey Jesus above all – 7 basic commands and base ministry on general commands
              • Go with someone who is actually planting, go to learn, keep mouth shut, observe, learn, take notes, ask questions…not to bless the poor. Short time doing that is worth more than studying about it.
              • One thing taught with most feedback — out of love for Jesus, obey Him above and before all else. Memorize His basic commands: repent, believe, be baptized, Lords supper, love, pray, make disciples Lord blesses that if done in love & obedience
            • Resources
            • What’s next for you?
              • Beginning to write curriculum, Bible school in Cincinnati to reignite John Wesley’s home church movement of “class meetings”. Writing on all levels.
              • Curriculum geared to rapid multiplication for Christ and break loose from heavy that holds back

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 19

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Day 19: God’s Story.  I have written my story and practiced my story before.  People always talk about sharing your testimony, but I have never been asked to write God’s story in a way that I would tell it to others.  It was sort of difficult to decide what to include and what not to.  I feel when you look at God’s story from a snapshot in this way, you miss so much of the depth of the story.  However, I completely understand why you can’t just start reading the whole bible to someone.

For me, I felt that it was important to establish God’s sovereignty, to talk about man’s fall, then to talk about how God gave Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin.  Then it is important to include Jesus’ resurrection and how he will return.  I like how the video included a call to action.  I think it is important to include how people can react to this story.  If you didn’t check out the blog titled “Getting God’s Story Right” you should.  The video by Chris Sergeant in that blog gives you an easy way to include the different parts of God’s story.  It even gives symbols that you could draw to help you tell the story and possibly give to the person you’re talking with to serve as a visual reminder for them.  I wrote my version before watching that video, and what I wrote was pretty close to what he suggests, but there were a few key things that I simply didn’t think to include.  It was nice to have that structured outline to guide what I had written against.

Why would a non-believer attend a DBS?

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Ironically, a lot of unbelievers come to the Lord if they get into a 3/3 group.  With a group of unbelievers you only have to make very small adjustments to the format.  They discover that the Bible is relevant and begin to learn about the character and nature of God, etc.  Of course, the accountability time looks a little bit different than with believers, but it is still similar.  In some ways it functions the way the Law does in relation to the Gospel.  The Law shows people their need for grace.  If people are unable to follow through on their commitments, it can function in the same way at times.  Even if that doesn’t happen, people are often drawn to the Bible and to the Lord through the process.  It provides a good opportunity to discover spiritual truth in community with others whom they know.  They also begin to learn about multiplication, hermeneutics, community, etc.

Curtis Sergeant

Day 8: Love is honest

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I have enjoyed having a prayer partner this last week.  I even got a funny email from him today:

“I will keep praying for you until the 30 days are up but that’s where I draw the line.  Kidding.”

It is good to have someone praying for you as you battle because the evil one does not want you to succeed.  I have really become more aware this week of how much I am not praying and I need to make that more of a focus.  I am limiting my facebook and ESPN but it is still hard to pray.  My thoughts wander, I want to be mindless, I am tired.  But when I pray I feel rejuvenated.  I believe Satan tricks us into believing that prayer is hard and not fun and I have bought into that over the years.  He also tells us it doesn’t matter and you can do more efficient things with your time.  A few of the guys in my discipleship group are getting up at 5 everyday and starting their day off in the word and in prayer and they LOVE IT!  I am slowly trying to get there.  Their stories inspire me to start the day off just like Jesus did as we have seen throughout the book of Luke.

In the video in talked a lot about coaching and having people in your life who truly love you and are honest with you.  This day and age love is a weak do whatever you want verb.  Love has no backbone and doesn’t stand for truth.  But when we look at the full picture of what love is in the bible it is totally different from the world.  It is loving people as you would love yourself.  I don’t want to waste my life.  I want to be as fruitful for Christ as I can be so I want others to point things out in my life that are hindering my witness.  I want my relationships to be a two way street where we do this for each other.  That is what true love is.  True love is wanting the best for the other, no matter what.  Speaking the truth in love is one of the hardest things to do in life.  I stink at it because I hate conflict, but in the past year God has opened my eyes to how this avoidance of conflict has kept me from truly loving people.  Many times I let things fester and don’t speak up right away and when they do come out there is so much frustration and anger in them that there is no room for love.

Day 7: Stories are Powerful

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I love stories!  Stories of others inspire me and changed life stories of how God got a hold of someone really inspire me.  Something we don’t do enough is share our stories.  We have been practicing in our discipleship group being able to tell our stories in under 3 minutes.  It has been a fun game.  Well, tonight I listened to the video and read what to do quickly as I was running 100 mph today.  At 8:30 I was supposed to go to discipleship group but my 7 year old daughter would not let me leave as the babysitter came.  So I ended up staying home helping my 4 & 7 year old girls go to bed until my wife got back at 9:30 with my teenage boys from their track meet.  I left in a rush and showed up at discipleship group.  As I sat down they guys said “Your turn.  We just got done telling our stories and critiquing them and it is your turn.”  I chuckled, but they were serious.  So I gave my testimony leaving out some details they had heard before and changing my story line back and forth.  I didn’t come prepared(shame on me!)  When I got done a few of the guys were honest and graceful with me on how I could make it better.  They stated that maybe you should work on 3 testimonies with 3 story lines and you should write them all out.  This was great advice as I sometimes don’t finish things well or think through things well enough.  I am going to work on that and get them done this week….stay tuned.  The stories I connect with most are well thought out and have purpose.  One of the guys suggested that next time we split into pairs and share our story but whoever you are sharing your story with gets to tell you about the person you would be sharing with.  You could choose someone who has been hurt by the church, someone going through a death, a teenager, etc.  I thought this was a great idea!  It is good to practice and be ready for different situations.

Why do we not take evangelism seriously?  We think planning makes us feel rehearsed and not real but I feel like God gives us tools to use.  I listened to a local pastor recently share about evangelism.  He asked the group “In farming who grows the crops?”  Everyone responded well duh “God does.”  He then said “So, do you just throw the seed out and have it grow?”  They stated “No, of course not.”  He then went on to explain that you use the tools God has given you such as tractors and GPS and other technology to do it well.  He then challenged us that God has given us tools for evangelism and we don’t prepare at all.  He then stated that he asked most people in his church if a non-Christian came to your door and asked why you lived the way you do what would you say?  A majority of his church could not give a response.  He then challenged everyone and said we should all be able to do share our testimony, that is like someone setting the ball on the tee ready for you to hit it out of the park.

As I have worked on my testimony in the last couple of years I have had many opportunities to share it.  I have got to share it with truck drivers at work, with sales people, with customers, with my son’s 6th grade basketball team I coached, and many other times.  If I would have not prepared I would have not been ready.

Another more seasoned gentleman in our group awhile made the emphasis that Jesus needs to be the hero and the main one in our story.  It is about what Jesus did in our life and not about what we did!

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 18

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Day 18.  Practice Telling Your Story.  Whew!  I joked today with the student intern that is with me right now that she came just at the right time to observe lots of IEP meetings, because it is meeting season! There are 3 1/2 weeks of school left (can I get a woot! woot!) and we are up to our eyeballs in paperwork and meetings that need to be done, on top of regular speech therapy sessions.  Today I got to work early to prepare for a meeting before work, completed a meeting during my lunch, and then rushed home to meet with our foster boys’ caseworker after work.  When my husband asked what was for dinner I joked “chips and ice cream!”  Luckily, he is amazing and made dinner for us 🙂

I did take time this morning, however, to sort through my list of 25 people.  I have decided on 4 that I would like to practice my testimony with.  I wanted some “safe” practices (insert people who have been a part of bible studies with me in the past) and at least 1 to be someone who doesn’t follow Jesus.  I did get 2 meetings scheduled, though one is with my sister during a skype date we already set, so I’m not sure whether that counts.  I am planning to spend more time tomorrow delving into who my last person could be and getting appointments set up with the other people.  I do really appreciate this challenge though, because it forces you to go out of your comfort zone and share your story.

Day 6: Its 11:15 at night!

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It is late at night and my challenge today did not go well.  It is spring and I manage a garden center.  We had 7 trucks of plants arrive today and we got most of them unloaded, tagged, and put away.  I am looking at my activity tracker right now and it says I have put on 8.29 miles today.  That is just from work mainly.  I guess I don’t need to go to the gym today:)  I loved the duckling video and how we just need to be one step ahead of the person behind us.  I equate that to what I have read on customer service and what I tell my employees “The best salesperson is one line ahead of the customer on the sign.”  You don’t need to be an expert to sell something and you don’t need to be an expert to be a disciplemaker.  You just need to be teachable and willing.

In my head I started going through the list of 25 people.  Starting with people I interact with regularly at work.   Then I moved to places I visit frequently and who is there and then I just thought about people I know who are hurting and struggling.  I did not get to the Matthew passage as we have been dealing with some tough stuff in some marriages of people that are near and dear to us.  I also am trying to get through the whole book of Luke by tomorrow because that is the challenge for our discipleship group this week.  There is only so much time in the day and today was full!  In a good way.  A priest at the native american reservation told me once not to use the word “busy” but to replace the word busy with “many opportunities.”  Instead of doing Matthew I did devotions and went through Luke for a half an hour with my two boys who are 13 and 14.  We have been using the SOAP acronym when we do devotions together and after reading this I am going to have to add the “S” to the end and challenge them to share it with others.  Looking forward to the next day and what that brings!

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 17

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Day 17: The Basis for Disciple-Making.  So, this video that we watched today…it is so interesting! He makes a lot of good points.  He seems to understand the urgency that we should feel better than a lot of Christians.  He said a lot of things that really hit home for me.  One of them was “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”  Wow! I know there have been times where I have avoided that pointed conversation with someone because I didn’t want to offend them or lose them as a friend, but when you put it like that…wow, how did I not share!?  Another thing he said that I thought was really interesting was at the end of the video.  He says, “Now, I know there’s no God, and one polite person living his life right doesn’t change that…”  When he made that statement, I couldn’t help but think: would it change his stance on God’s existence if he met 5 polite people living their lives right? What about 10?  What if every Christian he met welcomed him with the love of Christ and showed him that kind of care and grace?  It is amazing how every interaction matters.  You never know who is going to be open to the gospel until you try.  Don’t miss someone because of false assumptions.

I had a friend in college who had different beliefs than I did.  In fact, he was someone who I tried to avoid that pointed conversation with because I liked to hang out with him and we worked well together.  There came a time though that I just couldn’t avoid it any longer.  I felt a sense of urgency that he know how much God loves him and wants him to be in a relationship with Him.  So, we had coffee together and chatted about what was on my heart.  His response was not what I expected.  He told me that in his hometown there were many “Christians” who were not kind to him and wanted nothing to do with him because of his lifestyle and beliefs.  He said “And then I met you.  You were a Christian who was actually really nice to me and I couldn’t figure out why.”  That story, like the video that we watched, breaks my heart.  As Christians we should be living lives that show Christ to other people, at all times.  We should live with an urgency, because the reality is that we know the One who can give salvation, and we need to tell others about it, because the consequences of them not having the opportunity to know Christ are more costly than we should be willing to pay.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 16

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Day 16: Person of Peace.  Today was busy.  We had camp kickoff at our church this morning so I helped with that during all 3 services.  We did a few things at home to get ready for this evening and then I lead my high school life group this evening.  It was our last group together so naturally it went extra long.

All of this didn’t leave much time to really consider this idea of a person of peace.  It is a new idea to me.  I mean, I had read that terminology in scripture in the passages assigned to us, but I had never really considered what that might mean to apply it to my life and my ministry today.  I am glad that part of the challenge today was to schedule a prayer walk and look for a person of peace, because I do want to be intentional about spending more time delving into this concept.  I am planning to complete a prayer walk on Saturday morning.  I am excited to see what comes of this intentional time of prayer and seeking.

PS: Don’t forget to be contacting the person on your prayer calendar.  This is something that I have sort of struggled to remember.  Another blogger wrote that he is putting his people into the calendar on his phone to help him remember, so I am planning to do that.

Day 5: Don’t judge walk, prayer walk

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Today was the prayer walk day.  Well I didn’t get to prayer walking as we had people over to our house for lunch and had to spend much of my day preparing for a chapel we are doing at a local high school about God’s heart for the nations.  So I had a little time before our congregational meeting at night so I decided to prayer drive, partly because it was raining, partly because I was running out of time.  I started driving around town and ended up driving around the college campus praying for the discipleship groups going on, praying for the spiritual well being of the campus, praying that as my good friend takes the job as spiritual director that lives will be changed, praying what my part will be in all of this.  

I did something similar to this earlier in the year.  The challenge was to pray for everyone you come into contact with…..So I started doing that.  At first it was a big adjustment because I so used to having thoughts of judgement toward others.  When I did this my whole attitude changed as did my posture toward people.  Instead of getting frustrated I prayed for what might be causing. them to be grumpy.  I filled my head with prayers instead of wandering thoughts.  I caught my thoughts and turned them into prayers and it was glorious.  But at the end of the day my mind was tired.  It just taught me how much I don’t train my mind.

As I finished my prayer driver I did see people biking and running and prayed for them.  On my way home I prayed over each home and the people I knew who lived in them.  I am going to work on praying at work tomorrow as well for people again.  It made my days much more enjoyable and I was way more compassionate.

Day 4: Bless a Friend Each Day

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When I got this assignment I thought to myself “How am I going to think of 30 people to pray for?”  When I made my list I ended up with close to 60!  So I had to narrow.  I didn’t want to narrow, but knew I needed to.  I started with the guys in my discipleship group, I then chose those who had impacted my life and were impacting others, I then went through family members, people at work, and other close friends of mine.  I started making my list a week back when I was checking the 30 day challenge to see if it would work with my discipleship group.  I numbered everybody 1 to 30 and began to see who was on the day I chose.  So I emailed a prayer to my friend that day.  I thought it would be easiest and most “efficient” to pray this way.  The next day my Dad was on my list.  Just after lunch he walked right into my office and I totally chickened out.  A couple of days later we had discipleship group and I shared my experience with the group about not praying for my dad.  One of my good friends Chris piped up and said “I challenge you to pray for your dad tomorrow.”  The next day came and it was 8pm at night and knew I had to take this challenge on.  I called my dad and asked him how I could pray for him.  He was very thankful and gave me his few requests.  I got to pray with him and just thanked God for how I have seen God work in his life and how well he has loved and served people.  I thanked him for modeling what it looks like to share the blessings God gives.  I almost started crying many times praying how he modeled what a Godly man should be.  When I got done he thanked me.  Then it hit me, I had never prayed for my dad before!  Not in my 34 years of life!  How crazy is that.

 

It truly blessed my dad but it blessed me even more!  

 

We as a discipleship group of 9 guys decided to go through this together.  So today is the first day of the challenge this time and I have been mulling around in my head how I was going to do this.  Texting would be easiest but I feel like we should be praying out loud for each other more.  So I am going to call whoever is on my list on that day and ask them “how can I pray for you?” and then pray for them immediately.  Let’s stop telling people we are going to pray for them!  Let’s pray for them on the spot.  Outloud!  I have been doing this lately with my two boys who are in 6th and 7th grade as I bring them to school as well.  The other morning I prayed they would be filled with the spirit and you know what…it worked.  I want to make this a habit with all kinds of people.  Today I used voxer to ask a good friend of mine who is training people to go to unreached people groups what to pray for.  He responded back a few hours later and I prayed for him. Voxer is the way we communicate because we are both busy and we are rarely available at the same time.  It has worked great for us!  My list of 30 is done now and am going to put each person in my google calendar and have it repeat every 30 days so it becomes automatic.  By the way I am still having a hard time whittling my list of 60 to 30 so I am going to keep a spreadsheet of the other 30 so I can pray for them as well.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 15

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Day 15: What is a Disciple? Well, friends, we are half way through the 30 day challenge! I feel as if this online training has really changed the way I look at my relationships within the church.  I love to encourage people, to teach people, and to have deep conversations, but this has really made me think about that multiplication part of disciple making.

Today was a rarity in that I spent the whole day at home.  It was such a nice day with my family.  I went on a walk with a friend and her boys and my husband’s parents came over for dinner.  Then tonight I was able to have a conversation with my husband about what a disciple is and what making disciples really looks like.  My husband works for our church as a youth ministry assistant so I really wanted to have a conversation with him after watching the video that was posted on today’s challenge.  That video made me really stop and think about how when you really strip Christianity down, it really is simple: love God, love people, make disciples.  However, I think this all gets very mucky sometimes when you mix in our American culture and what that looks like.  I feel that in some ways people are drawn to the church because of events or programs and that those things are a good way to get them in the doors and making relationships with other Christians to start that discipleship process.  But many times we get bogged down by all of the things we “have” to do that we forget about our primary purpose as Christians.  I do believe that the devil can use busyness as a distraction from what is really important and that we can become so intrinsic in the way that we do “church” that we forget what we are called to do.  It is a good reminder that our primary job is to GO and be a light to the world.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 14

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Day 14: Investing in a Few.  I have lead a high school girls life group for the last 5 years (they’re graduating in a few short weeks…tissues please!!).  Leading this group has been one of my favorite things that I have ever done! They are an amazing group of young women who have grown to really love and follow Christ.  It has been amazing to watch them grow and mature and ask hard questions and hold each other accountable.  This last year our youth minister challenged us to read a book with tips on leading a high school life group, 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders by Joshua Griffin with Doug Fields.  Truthfully, I only made it through the first 1/3 of the book or so (for some reason, that seems to happen with a lot of books I read…) but one of the points it made was to “Care for all, Pour into a Few, and Duplicate Yourself in One.”  That is what this challenge reminded me of.  “Pour into a Few.” And after watching the video of this challenge, I would add “Teach a Few to Do the Same.”

Since leading this group for the last 5 years, this is something that has never been a priority of mine, in fact, it just never really occurred to me.  I wanted to invest time in their lives, teaching them to be obedient to Christ, and building their faith and understanding of God, but actually challenging them to be teaching other people (students they go to school with, kids in their youth group, even their parents) never really occurred to me.  I am only on Day 14 of this challenge, but since starting it I have realized the importance of not only investing in other people but teaching them to invest in other people as well.  It’s that idea of multiplication, and that is what makes this approach unique and is a great strategy to reach so many more people than you could on your own.  The way I was doing it before, I had touched 13 girls over the last 5 years (some stayed the entire 5 years, some were only a part of the group for 1 year); but with the DMM model, each of those 13 girls could also be reaching 2-5 people (ish), who also could reach people, etc. making my total impact so much more.

 

Day 3: Am I worth Reproducing?

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I loved the questions from Wesley today.  It is not your typical “church” questions but questions that have to do with the heart.  “Did the bible live in me?”  What a great question!  It’s not asking “if I crossed of the check of reading the bible” but did I live out what learned? I love out of the ordinary questions that cause me not to think religiously, but out of the heart.  Most questions we usually get in studies are more Pharisaical.  Today was super busy for me as it is spring season and I manage a Garden Center.  I printed it off and it sat on my desk until the end of the day and I just quick glanced at it.  At night I gave a more thorough glance and wish I would have done that to start my day.
It was also really challenging to think about if I was worth reproducing.  I love how Paul said to follow his example and do as I do.  Abraham is also a guy who really followed after God and was willing to trust him to the point of killing his own son promised by God.  Also God said to Abraham “The reason I am blessing you is to bless others.”  This challenge I learned in a Perspectives Course that rocked me and made me rethink a lot of my beliefs.   Am I worth reproducing?  I want to constantly be asking those around me who will speak the truth in love to me on this.  I need others around me to challenge me.  A few years back I read somewhere that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with today 5 years from now.  I looked back and saw who I was with 5 years ago and who I have become today.  Those men believed in me and discipled me and were worth reproducing.  4 of those 5 have moved away in the last 3 years.  This made me realize  I needed to deliberately surround myself with people who were going to challenge me to be someone worth reproducing.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 13

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Day 13: Love Means Obedience.  Today’s challenge lent itself very nicely to an elongated quiet time with God.  Delving into this idea that love means obedience was such a good reminder.  We see this theme over and over in scripture, not only through the passages in today’s challenge but through stories such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.  We see person after person follow God even if they don’t know what exactly that will mean for them or how He will provide.

The verse that spoke to me the most tonight is one that God has actually placed on my heart many times in the last few months.  John 15: 9-10:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Over and over, God has been telling me “remain in me.”  I have seen Him whisper those words to me through various studies, sermons, and just my quiet prayer time with Him.  And how do I learn to remain in Him? By obeying His commands.  Love means obedience.  I think this statement is largely born out of the nature of trust.  If you love someone, you generally trust them.  In the same way, if we love God we will trust God.  It takes a lot of trust sometimes to follow God’s commands and to seek out His will for your life; and sometimes this is a daily thing.  In Luke 9, Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me.” (emphasis mine).  We have to choose every single day if we are going to be obedient to our creator or not.

Day 2: Why add when you can multiply?

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Discipleship has been on my heart for the last 3 years.  I believe God woke me up to this through a lot of the books I had been reading.  One of the books talked about Multiplication of disciples and if we trained 2 disciples who discipled others each year it would be around 6 billion in 30 years.  I thought that would be a really cool legacy to have since I was 33 at the time to shoot for.   Over the last couple of years that has been my focus but it is hard to stay focused on the simplicity of that.  It seems like not enough, it seems like their should be a better way.  But what if we just simplified discipleship to this.  It would mean we would  have to get rid of many “Good” church things, and things in general, and really focus.  

I read through the first 4 of these before I started the challenge and decided to have our discipleship group go through this..  For the last year we have been doing “Discipleship Groups” based off the book by Bob McNabb “Spiritual Multiplication in the Real World.”  It has been challenging and encouraging.  I really truly believe so many people in the church want more but they are not sure what that more is.  So ask some people to try this with you and see if this leads to that more.  Try not to just ask the people you think are spiritual but ask those who you think are hungry to learn.  Believe me, it might surprise you and also encourage someone as you ask them to live this out with you.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 12

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Day 12: Practice Your Testimony.  Today was full of doctor appointments, feeding therapy, and work.  Then after work we headed north for 3 hours to get to where our foster son will see a specialist tomorrow morning.  Luckily, this challenge was very easy to do on the road.  I practiced giving my testimony with my husband…and I had plenty of time for feedback since we had 3 hours!

I have shared my story with many people; sometimes in parts, sometimes in whole.  However, I do think there is value in practicing.  I think that what you share with people will change depending on the situation and what that person needs to hear at the time.  So, I chose to practice as if someone asked me what God had done for me or how I came to follow Christ.  That doesn’t encompass all the details of my story, but it does allow me to sift through what is really important for someone to know, and what maybe isn’t as important.  I think the video for today offers a good outline of what to include in the testimony of how Christ has worked in your life.  I love the example they give because it somewhat mirrors my own.  I was in 5th grade when I accepted Christ as my Savior, but I feel that learning to follow Him and be obedient to Him has been something that I have continually had to learn throughout the years.  So, while my decision to follow Christ and be baptized is important for my story, so are other times when I really learned to trust God or be obedient to Him because those moments really changed something about my existence whether it was my purpose in life or what I was chasing trying to find contentment, for example.

Day 1: Prayer? I don’t have time for that, I’m far too busy

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Many times I start making a plan to do great things for God and end up using prayer as a last resort.  This is a good challenge to start with prayer.  I love it that the first day focuses on not only prayer, but prayer with someone else.  Too many times we as men(but also everyone in general) try to go about things by ourselves.  We need others to spur us on toward love and good deeds.  Many people around me, myself included, often say we don’t have time for prayer.  You see I thought the same thing 8 years back and that lead to a question my wife and I asked “How do we hear God’s voice better?”  That leads us to getting rid of TV and diving in the word and prayer like never before.  You know what happened?  God lead us on a crazy adventure. God wanted to speak to us, and we needed to create the space to hear Him.  Prayer should not just be a good thing we do, it should be, along with scripture, the fuel for our fire.  

In figuring out who my prayer partner would be I had a hard time deciding, a little indecisive I am, but I got an email from someone in my discipleship group.  It said

 

I started the 30 day challenge and I am recruiting a prayer partner (1st day assignment).  I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine.”  

 

I was excited because I know that this person WILL pray for me daily!  So pick someone you know WILL pray for you daily.  Pick someone who WILL pray bold prayers for you and will uplift you daily!  But don’t stop there.  Be the person who WILL be that same type of person.  I am going to email, text, and call this person a few times a week to pray and want to try get together as well to pray together.

 

So as I start this 30 day challenge I found myself a prayer partner but I am also realizing I have to say no to some things.  Months back I used a time tracking app called Toggl.  I tracked every 15 minutes of my week and at the end of the week I looked at my time report.  Wow! It really showed my priorities and I realized I had the time, I just needed to be more disciplined.  So as you start this look at how you spend your time.  Figure out the one thing or habit that is keeping you from experiencing God better and try to not do it, or limit it for these 30 days.  My time sucker can be Facebook and ESPN so I am going to limit them to a 30 minute window at night.  Here we go.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 11

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Day 11: Intentional Prayer and Spiritual Conversations.  I wish I could say that today was an off day, but unfortunately, days like today seem to come our way more often than I would like.  I started off the day well.  I got up and read the challenge for today.  I texted the person on my prayer calendar and began praying for them.  I made a plan to connect with a friend after work to try to instill the vision of disciple multiplication movements.  I even sort of accomplished today’s challenge by talking with a co-worker about some things happening in her family.  But then this afternoon I got a call from my husband who had just left the doctor’s office with our 15 month old foster son.  And just like that we are packing bags tonight because we leave for another city tomorrow to meet with a pediatric surgeon for a consult for a surgery that the pediatrician thinks our foster son needs.  Just like that everything that I had planned gets flipped upside down.

I didn’t end up connecting with my friend after work because I spent that time connecting with family, calling in a substitute to cover work for me, and calling our caseworker.  Though I had a more-spiritual-than-most conversation with my co-worker this morning, I didn’t have an incredibly planned out, intentional conversation like I had hoped.  But, today was not a “failure” even if I didn’t completely accomplish the challenge for today.  I have seen God work in the past through these unplanned situations and I am sure that I will have time around other people in the days to come to have intentional, spirit-filled conversations.  I think that sometimes God works best out of situations that we view as chaos.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 10

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Day 10: Multiplication.  Tonight I write this way past my bedtime.  It has been a long, full day.  I did accomplish the challenge of telling friends about Disciple Making Movements and challenging them to begin making disciples and sign up for the 30 day challenge.  I haven’t had anyone officially accept yet, but I had a couple people tell me that they would check out the website and see what it is all about.

I also had the opportunity to catch up with my prayer partner.  It was great to get to debrief with her and tell her of all the things that I have seen God doing through this challenge.  I will be praying tonight for the people who I extended the invitation to join me.  I pray that they will catch the vision and begin to make disciples themselves.  It is amazing to think about the way that God could use this movement.  As I was thinking through who I could talk to today, I thought of a lot of different people, and what was especially amazing to me was that they weren’t even all from my church or even my town.  Essentially, God could use a movement like this and spread it through all kinds of connections.  And when you look at the rippling effect of a movement like that, each of those people would then be reaching people from other areas, and essentially your obedience to God could be helping reach people that you don’t know, and may not ever know.  It’s kind of amazing that God could work in that way.  He is so much bigger and more powerful than we could ever imagine.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 9

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Day 9: A Sense of Urgency.  Today’s challenge was to watch two videos about upping the pace of discipleship.  Can we all just say “wow.”  I mean, talk about challenging.  To think of how many people die each day without knowing Christ.  It’s an incredibly important job that we have!  And to also think about how little urgency we as a church approach discipleship and evangelism with, it is just mind boggling.

As I thought through all of this tonight I began to look at my own life.  I will admit that sometimes I feel a sense of urgency, but many times I don’t approach evangelism or my faith with a sense of urgency.  I fall into the trap of being too busy or feeling tired or like something can wait until tomorrow.  I began to think through what is taking up my time:  Work.  Kids.  Housework.  Church.  Social Media.  Netflix.  I mean, some of those things are simply needed.  Some of those things are glorifying God.  However, some of those things simply aren’t.  I mean, how much time each day do you spend scrolling through Facebook or Instagram?  How much time each day do you spend wasting while watching TV? I know, for me, the answer is too much.

As far as work goes…I find it hard to focus on evangelism while I am writing Individualized Education Plans or planning therapy, however, work gives me a great opportunity to develop relationships with people I might not know otherwise.  It gives me an opportunity to show Christ to others and to talk with them.  I admit, I can get so busy at work that I hole up in my office and never come out, but on days when I actually take the time to intentionally talk with my co-workers I can find out a lot about their lives and spend time encouraging them.  I can take something that seems mundane and make it glorify God.  Also, when I work, I make money.  Money which can be spent on useless things, OR that can be given to missionaries who are spreading the Kingdom around the world.

We need to develop a sense of urgency in our walk with Christ and in our evangelistic lives, because the reality is that we are letting an awful lot of people slip through the gates of Hell without even having the chance to know Christ or to feel loved by one of His followers.  I know that I can spend my time better.  I’m sure you can too.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 8

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Day 8: Get Coaching.  Today’s challenge is to contact your prayer partner.  It was ironic that this was the challenge for today, because my prayer partner actually contacted me yesterday just to check in and see how things were going.  But, I went ahead and attempted to contact her today as well to talk more about my experiences.  However, my prayer partner works long hours as a nurse, so I am still waiting on her call after her shift.  Since it is getting late and I am close to getting ready to go to bed, I may have to catch up with her on a deeper level another day.  I have learned so much from this experience.  One of the greatest tools I feel it has given me is the prayer calendar that we made earlier this week.  Each day when I contact the person I am praying for that day, I have been responded to with “Well, the timing of this is quite ironic…here is what I am currently dealing with…”  I have loved being able to connect with people in this way.  It’s amazing how we get so busy and miss out on things happening in other peoples’ lives…even some of our closest friends.  I have loved being able to let them know that I care about them and that they matter to me and to God.

Again, if you didn’t watch the video for today, please go back and do so.  I loved the points he made about accountability.  Accountability is something that is so needed in our walk with God, and it is something that is so often left out of our walk with God.  I think most people have good intentions.  I know that I have had good intentions to stop doing something I know I shouldn’t do or start doing something that I should, but after a few days or weeks it is easy to fall into old habits.  I will admit that if I didn’t have the accountability of my prayer partner and the person that I recruited (and writing this blog, haha!!) I might not be doing as well with this challenge.  There have been days where I have been tired and it would have been much easier to say, “whew, I am tired.  I think I will just go to bed a little earlier tonight instead of taking the time to be intentional in my relationships with people and my relationship with God.”  And we’re only on day 8!

Another thing I did today was take the time to check in with the person that I recruited.  I know it’s not part of the challenge for today, but I felt that it was a good time to check in and make sure that she was doing okay with the challenge too and let her know that I am praying for her.  It is so refreshing to be surrounded by so many people working towards one goal.  You are truly not alone in this journey to make disciples!

Discipleship When Life is Busy: Day 7

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Day 7:  Write your Story.  When I was in high school, I remember being challenged to write my testimony and I had no clue where to start.  I had grown up in a Christian home, and while my parents were divorced, my mother had made it a point that I have the opportunity to know Christ.  I remember looking back at my life and wishing that something bad had happened to me so that I would have something to share with other people.  I just didn’t feel like I had a story worth sharing.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved to talk with people and I have always been sort of an open book, I just didn’t really feel that I had anything that really showed the power of Christ in my life.  So, I never really shared what I felt like was a “testimony.”  What I did do though, was talk to people.  I loved getting to know other people and getting to know their stories.  As I would talk with them, we could usually find something that we related with each other on.  And then I could tell them some of my experiences.  It was just natural.  But I wasn’t sharing a “testimony,” I was just talking to them.  It took me a long time to realize that what I was doing was sharing my testimony.  I didn’t recognize it because I thought it had to be some big, thought out speech that I made that ended with “and you should know Christ too. What are you doing Sunday because I know a pool of water that is just calling your name to be baptized in.”  I thought that unless I had some big thing to share like being healed from cancer or turning around a life devoted to the use of drugs that I didn’t have anything worth sharing.  But the reality is that people relate to all sorts of different experiences.

Writing my story tonight, I realized just how much God has done in my life.  He has changed the way I view the world and how I view myself.  Because of Him I no longer feel empty, envious, and like I have no purpose (at least not most of the time.  This is not to say that I am perfect and that the devil doesn’t sometimes pull me down).  Because of Him I now feel fulfilled, that I can make a difference, and that there is a purpose for my life.

God has given me a story and He wants me to use it to reach people.  God has also given YOU a story that He wants to use.  We all have stories and they are all different.  God can use them to reach different people in different stages of life.  Our experiences help us to relate to other people.  It helps us to feel compassion and to long for their salvation.  Our stories connect us.  They help us make relationships, and out of relationships, discipleship is born.  Sharing your testimony doesn’t have to mean standing up in front of your church and spilling your guts about every single thing that has happened in your life.  It can mean chatting with a student in the youth group who’s parents are going through a divorce and you can relate to that.  You can share about how God helped you get through that time and how you learned to lean on Him and learned how to forgive through that experience.  The important thing is that you take opportunities to share your story (or parts of it) and use it to point other people to Christ.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 6

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Day 6: Intercession and Our Spiritual Core.  Today’s challenge was to create a list of 25 people that you interact with regularly and to pray for them.  Then to read through Matthew 5-7 and complete a SOAPS study on this passage.

I have to admit that today I am exhausted.  I don’t know whether it’s the weather, or my kiddos waking up at night, or my participation in a Steps challenge at work (who knew that walking 10,000 steps a day was so hard!? Apparently, I need to add working out to my to-do list as well), but I am tired tonight.  I started my list of 25 people earlier in the day and then finished it this evening.  At first, I had a hard time thinking of 25 people because I was trying to list only people I interact with on a daily basis.  Then I realized that I interact with many people I don’t see every single day, such as family, friends, etc.  So, I started with people at work, then moved to friends and family that I love to interact with but maybe don’t see every single day.  I spent time this evening praying for the people on that list.  There are a few people who are already believers on the list, but I tried to think of people who maybe aren’t believers, or who I am unsure of where they stand with God.

Then I spent time working through Matthew.  I will admit, this is the first time I didn’t completely finish something.  I was so tired reading through Matthew tonight that I kept falling asleep.  I did complete the study through Matthew 5 though, and I am committing to starting this task earlier (and maybe attempting to get more sleep..haha) so that I am not quite as tired and can complete this every day.  The verses I chose to focus on tonight were:

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5: 14-16

I felt that these verses spoke very plainly to what we were tasked with today.  We should be a light to the people we interact with on a regular basis.

Oh, I almost forgot…If you didn’t watch the video connected with today, please take 2 minutes and watch it.  It helped me to think about discipleship in a way that I really had never thought about before.  I think sometimes we think that we have to have all of the answers and know everything about God and not have any questions ourselves in order to lead people to Christ, and that is completely false.  We just have to be “one step ahead” to share what we know and believe with other people.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 5

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Day 5: Prayer Walking.  This morning I read the challenge for today, and I’m gonna be honest, it made me a little nervous.  Not the prayer walking part of it, but the challenge to talk to someone about prayer along the way.  This is the first time in the challenge that we are asked to speak to someone who may or may not be a follower of Christ.  I thought through the logistics of how I would make prayer walking a part of my day today.  My husband works on Wednesday nights, so I am single momming it tonight.  I could have chosen to take both kiddos out in the stroller, but it was a tad bit chilly for that today.  Finally, I decided, what a better way to pray for my workplace?  After work, I spent time walking the halls of the school I work in praying for the teachers/staff that work there and the students who attend there.  I can’t believe I had never thought to do this before! Before I knew it, I had been walking the halls and lifting up needs of the school for 45 minutes!

As for the “ask someone what you can pray for them about” part of today’s challenge, I was approached by the custodian of our building as I was walking.  This is a woman who I have a conversation with every day I work in that school, however, it rarely gets deeper than: “How are you today?”  This afternoon, I decided to change that.  After I answered her question, I told her that I was walking the halls and praying for our teachers and students.  I asked if there was anything specifically that I could be praying for her about.  Surprise! She was not mean at all and she certainly wasn’t offended that I took up her time to ask her this question.  She smiled and told me her prayer request.  She then asked where I went to church and told me that she attended one up the street.  This is a lady who I have conversations with all the time and I honestly had no idea as to whether she was a believer or not.  It was sort of eye opening to me to realize how many times I interact with people who I honestly never have a conversation that is deeper than the work at hand.  I thought I was pretty good at looking for opportunities, but I guess not.  I definitely plan to be more intentional from here on out.

Oh, and don’t forget as you go through the rest of this challenge that yesterday we made a prayer calendar! I almost forgot about it, like I had checked it off as a completed challenge from yesterday.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 4

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Day 4: Make a List of 30 People for Whom You’ll Pray.  I chose today to complete this challenge over my lunch break at work.  It was relatively easy for me to come up with 30 Christian friends to pray for: family, small group, girls from work, girls from my high school life group.  I just started with one category and went on to the next when it was exhausted.  I really like this idea of systematic prayer for people in my church.  The second part of the challenge, of course, is to contact the person for today.  Today is April 12 and when I looked at number 12, who would have guessed it was the name of the person that I recruited for the challenge on Day 2! I promise, this wasn’t planned in the least! Apparently, God has some big things in store for her 🙂

So, I contacted Kelly and asked what I could be praying about specifically for her today.  Once she replied, I texted her back an actual prayer so that she could read the exact words that I was lifting up on her behalf.  I think this part is really important.  So often we say “I’ll pray for you” and then quickly forget to do so.  If we pray with someone right then and there, we don’t forget, plus that person is able to feel encouraged by the words that you are praying to the Father for them.  We see this in scripture, particularly in Paul’s letters.  For example, read the words he says to the Ephesians:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3: 14-21

Equipping for the Task

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Can you relate to any of these common experiences?

  • Discovering a great-sounding recipe only to find that it calls for some obscure (but deal breaking!) ingredient that you don’t have?
  • Planning to build something only to realize that there’s a necessary tool or piece of hardware you haven’t got on hand? (Though this can be a welcome reason to buy a newly discovered “essential” tool)
  • Being told, “Go make disciples” or, “Lead people to Jesus,” but sensing that you either haven’t seen that process done, or aren’t equipped to do it yourself, or maybe both.

Few things are more exhilarating than being used by God to draw people into His kingdom. Yet few things can be more disheartening than the sense of defeat that results from being recruited or assigned to a task you see yourself as completely unqualified or unequipped for.

My wife has reflected on the fact that so often, the big challenging things we look at and say, “Wow, that’s amazing; I could never do that!” are actually the cumulative result of a series of simple steps.

She does leatherworking and sews handbags, and I appreciated the connection here when she shared that it all starts with a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter. Then she begins by cutting some simple squares. That’s not so hard, right? All the exciting and complicated stuff seen in the final product comes from the simplest and humblest of origins. Then incremental development leads to a stunning final creation.

Sort of like just saying, “yes.”

Yes.
I’ll sign up for a 30-day Discipleship Challenge.

Yes.
I’ll invest some of my energy to make a list of 30 people to pray for and with.

Yes.
I’ll brainstorm a list of 25 people who are distant from the kingdom, and pray for them too.

Yes.
I’ll carve out a block of time in my day to connect with God and absorb His Word.

Yes.
I’ll engage in something a little uncommon and uncomfortable and go with a friend or two on regular prayer-walks.

Yes.
I’ll cut out the simple, basic squares, and ask the Lord to stitch them together into a stunning final creation.

What I love (and think you will too) about the 30-Day Discipleship Challenge, is that it arms you with incremental growth steps, steps that become cumulative. They add up! Not sure what it would even look like to “Go make disciples”? Don’t worry, it’s simply but thoroughly sketched. Not sure what tools or ingredients are required? Don’t worry, they’re sprinkled throughout, with Scriptures, videos, and insights.

These simple “cut squares,” become springboards for lives lived more ready for and responsive to our call to make disciples. And rather than a sense of defeat at being asked to do something you feel unequipped for, you may find yourself instead with a growing sense of confidence and expectancy:

Just what might God do today through my simple, consistent act of obedience?

Sign up here to start the 30-Day Disciple Challenge yourself:
http://moredisciples.com/signup/

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 3

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Day 3: Becoming a Disciple Worth Multiplying.  Today was crazy.  Our youngest foster baby woke up with a fever, so my husband stayed home from work to be with him.  When I picked up the 1 year old from daycare they said “He has been really fussy all afternoon and is tugging on that left ear.”  Needless to say, our evening looked a lot like two screaming babies and two adults about to pull their hair out.  I did finally get a little bit of time once we put our oldest foster son down to bed to look at the quiz by Wesley and to take some time to read through Matthew and do some soul searching prayer time with God.

I thought that the quiz from Wesley was really interesting and gave a different look at my walk with God.  I think sometimes we just think that if we don’t steal or cheat or curse that we are doing alright in our walk with Christ, but reading something like this quiz can really make you look at the “smaller” things that we tend to overlook.  Questions like, “Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?” “Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?” or “How do I spend my spare time?” really make you look at your life from a different perspective.  The Bible says that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  That means that we ALL have places that we need to grow in our walk with God.  The verses from Matthew that I decided to write out and meditate on tonight were:

(5:6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (7:7-8) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 2

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Day 2: Recruit Another.  After I read the challenge for today I began praying over who God wanted me to ask to join this challenge with me.  He gave me the name of a friend from my small group: Kelly.  I planned to ask her at church, but I looked for her before and after both services that I attended and never saw her.  So, I knew that she lead a junior high life group at the church on Sunday nights and I was going to the church anyway so I thought I would stop by and ask her then.  Well, of course, she wasn’t there tonight.  Finally, I just called her up on the phone.

Kelly is someone like me who is busy.  Her kids play all kinds of sports and are involved in many things in school, plus she and her husband serve on several ministries with our church.  I knew that, like me, it would feel like she didn’t have time, but I felt confident that God had placed her name on my heart for me to ask.  I told her all about the 30 day challenge and how she could find more information about it.  After laughing a little bit about my invitation, she said “You know, it’s funny that you would ask because I had just been praying yesterday and today that God would show me what He wanted me to do next.  I just didn’t think His answer would come tonight.”  She got off the phone and looked over the website.  Soon after, she texted me saying that she would accept the challenge! I am excited to have Kelly on board and can’t wait to see the things that God does through her discipleship!

I feel very encouraged tonight after seeing that God had been speaking to my friend at the same time He was speaking to me.  It is amazing to see the way God works.  The thing is: It is not about what I can do, but what GOD can do through me.  This is His discipleship challenge to do with what He desires.  Maybe some of the things we will do in the next 30 days aren’t things that I would just naturally do.  Maybe they are things that will require me to go a tad bit out of my comfort zone, but I think that is where God shines brightest.  In 1 Corinthians 1 it says:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

(1 Cor. 1: 26-31)

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 1

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Last weekend, at a prayer retreat, the president of Team Expansion approached me to ask if I would consider taking on a 30 day Disciple Making challenge and blogging about my experience.  I smiled and politely told him that I would consider it, but really in my head I was thinking: “You want me to do what!? Do you know how much is already on my plate? Like I need another thing…”  You see, my husband and I are foster parents and currently have a 1 year old and a 4 month old living in our home.  We both work full time and are heavily involved in our church.  On top of all of that (I know, there’s more…), our 1 year old foster son has medical and developmental delays that require weekly OT, weekly PT, and weekly speech therapy.  We see some sort of doctor as little as every other week and as much as 3 times a week, and our youngest foster son has weekly visits with his biological parent.  That doesn’t include the monthly foster support team meetings, every other month court hearings, monthly case worker visits, quarterly licensing worker visits, etc.

Well, I really did consider his invitation.  I looked through the website and prayed about it a lot.  I really felt that it was something that God would be able to use.  I am so excited to begin this journey (busy as I may be) and to see what the Holy Spirit is able to do through the situations put in front of me.

So, that brings us to Day 1: Finding a prayer partner.  I have to admit that I feel as if I sort of cheated on the “challenge” part of this day.  You see, when I was considering the invitation to complete this challenge I looked through a few days just to see what it involved.  So, I already knew what the challenge for Day 1 was.  I had already been praying about who God wanted me to ask as my prayer partner.  God showed me a wonderful lady from my church, Olivia.  If I hadn’t considered who God wanted me to ask, Olivia might not have been my first choice.  You see, Olivia and I are in different small groups, we sometimes attend the same service (but not always), so really there isn’t a lot of reason for our paths to cross much so I might not have thought of her immediately.  But Olivia IS someone who I know to be a prayer warrior.  She is also someone who has a heart for the nations and for discipleship.  I am excited to have her fighting spiritual warfare with me through this journey and encouraging me along the way!