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Nicole Pounds

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 30

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Day 30: Next Steps.  Well, we made it! Day 30, the last day of the challenge, however, the challenge is only beginning.  We are called to make disciples and we have gained a lot of great tools through this training, but we have so much more to do from here.  Don’t let your journey stop here; make discipleship a lifestyle.

I have loved going through this training and having a resource to share with others who want to begin a life of discipleship as well.  I have had the opportunity to share it with many people from my church, friends who are preparing to move abroad to share the gospel with unreached people groups, students from our youth ministry, small group leaders, etc.  I can’t wait to see what God does through the people in my community once we begin to make disciples who make disciples.  Become a disciple who multiplies.

Discipleship Life Is Busy: Day 29

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Day 29: Unreached Peoples.  Where I live, I pretty much assume that everyone has had the opportunity to hear about Christ.  I am finding more and more that this is not necessarily the case, but there are definitely opportunities for most Americans to hear the gospel at least once.  It is insane to me that there continue to be whole people groups who have never even had the opportunity to hear about a God who loves them and wants a relationship with them.

There was once a time that my husband and I were planning to head overseas to spread the gospel of Christ with an unreached people group.  Then some unexpected things happened which have required us to stay here for at least a while.  It is sometimes hard to feel like you have a place in reaching unreached people groups when you can’t go be with them teaching them about the gospel and showing them the love of Christ, but there is SO much that we can do.  We can start with prayer.  Every great Christian movement was first covered in prayer.  I think sometimes we underestimate the power of prayer because we don’t have the faith that God will actually listen to us or come through for us, but prayer is SO powerful.  A great way to start this is through using an app that was recommended to me called JP Unreached.  It is the Joshua Project in app form.  It gives you an “unreached people group of the day” and a little bit of information about that people group so that you can somewhat more specifically pray for an unreached group of people in the world.  Another thing we can do is give.  There are many missionaries that you can support that are sharing the gospel to unreached people groups.  They need funding to be able to continue the work that they are doing.  We can also encourage.  I once had a friend spend a summer in Russia working with a local church there.  When she came home she talked about how hard it was to feel disconnected from people at home.  She said people wrote for the first few weeks, but then seemed to forget about her.  IF it is safe for you to send mail, an email, or connect with them on social media, take some time to write a missionary an encouraging note to let them know you are praying for the work they are doing.  Lastly, we can go.  We all have a place to be spreading the gospel.  For you, it might not mean an unreached people group, but it could mean an unreached person.  You might go to another country and share the love of Christ in a location not your own.  Or you might stay where you are; in many areas, especially around college campuses, there are members of unreached people groups right at your back door.  You just have to open your eyes to where the gospel isn’t.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 28

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Day 28: The Training Cycle.  Training others to make disciples is one of the most important things we can do.  It is how we are going to multiply instead of just add.  The idea expressed in this video is training others by slowly letting loose of the reigns and letting someone else lead.

I had the pleasure of seeing this exact thing play out in my life this year.  I have lead a life group of high school girls the last 5 years (okay, the first year they were 8th graders, but you get the point).  This year we decided to use the three-thirds (DBS) method in our group.  The church we attend uses this method often for our small groups, especially with our high school students.  The first semester I and my co-leader led each study and the girls participated.  It was awesome to see how they were interpreting the bible for themselves and encouraging each other each week.  And to reflect back on how groups used to be when they were in 8th grade (can you say, crickets!?), it was incredible to see the growth in their faith and willingness to be vulnerable.  So, in the Spring semester we challenged our senior girls to lead the group.  Each of our girls signed up to lead one group meeting.  We have two girls who are thinking of being missionaries overseas and all of our girls are going out into colleges (and then eventually jobs) where they will have the opportunity to start groups like this.  They did a great job and it was awesome to see them lead the group and be the one challenging the other girls!

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 27

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Day 27: Empowering Those Around Us.  Discipleship and community are so important.  That is something that we have seen time and time again throughout this challenge.  We need other believers for support, for encouragement, for accountability, and for other perspectives/ideas.  That’s what this challenge is all about.  At the church I attend, one of our core values is: Live in community with a spirit of unity.  I think that paints a beautiful picture of the church and ideally of these three-thirds study groups.

Last year, I actually started a three-thirds study group, well sort of.  I wanted to start a bible study at work (bear in mind, this was a new job where I really knew only one person).  I asked some of the girls that I had met and we began meeting together once a week before work.  I didn’t follow the three-thirds format completely (many times I left out the application part…it’s hard to do accountability with people you don’t know, but I wish I would have included it), but it was so nice to be able to meet together and pray for our work place and study the bible together.

Today I made a list of people who I would like to invite to a three-thirds study group, however, I decided not to set it up at this time because I know that my life/schedule is about to change drastically (as are the lives of many of the people on my list).  I work for the school district and school gets out in 2 weeks.  During the month of June I am planning to be out of town 3 of 4 weeks, so in the interest of starting a group that I will actually be able to attend, I am planning to contact them and set up a time to meet in July.  I have been yearning for a discipleship group of women that I can be a part of.  Our church has a women’s ministry that meets, but it is at a time I am unable to attend, so I feel that this would be a perfect opportunity to put together a group of women to do life together and study the bible together.  Just to make the commitment a little more real, I am putting a reminder in my phone to contact these people and get this three-thirds group set up.  I am really excited about starting this group and because I anticipated that this would be a part of the study, have been praying about the people I would ask for a while.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 26

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Day 26: You Will Be My Witnesses.  This hasn’t happened so smoothly every day of this challenge, but I actually read the challenge and watched the video this morning before work.  On my way to work, I took time to pray that God would put someone in my path that I could move into a meaningful conversation with.  I am so glad that I was able to do all of that this morning, because I hadn’t been at work 15 minutes and I was given the perfect opportunity.  A parent was late to a meeting we were holding so I was talking with one of my teachers about life and the end of school.  She has a TON on her plate right now with the school year ending, her family purchasing a new home, and her mom having some health issues.  I felt the Spirit nudge me that this was my opportunity, so before I left, I asked her if I could pray for her.  I am so glad that I took that opportunity because as much as I care about her and have had many meaningful conversations about work, life, kids, family, etc. I had never taken the opportunity to offer prayer for her.  I am continuing to pray for her privately as well that she would come to know Christ better and that she would know that her salvation comes from Him.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 25

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Day 25: Self Feeding in the Midst of Persecution and Suffering.  I finally took the time to complete this challenge and read through the verses on persecution this evening right before bed while snuggled up to our youngest foster kiddo.  I have to say that it sort of hit me over the head when I did.  Particularly, these verses spoke into my heart tonight:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6: 18-20

Our sermon series at church this month has been about persecution.  As that series pointed out, there are different levels of persecution.  American Christians do experience some levels of persecution, but there are many places in the world that experience all levels.  How often do I pray for the persecuted church?  Are my brothers and sisters who are losing their jobs, being kicked out of their homes, and possibly even killed for the cause of Christ on my mind “in all occasions”?  Isn’t it so easy to get distracted and, as Chris pointed out in the video, play into the devil’s game plan by being silent?  I know that I need to be much more intentional about praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing persecution.

I was also incredibly challenged by Chris’ thoughts in the video about training disciples to think about persecution and to be aware that it will come.  I have to admit that if I have a student at church come talk to me about wanting to be baptized, persecution isn’t usually something on the top of my list to make sure that they understand.  I had simply never really thought about it in that context.  His story about how he used to make missionaries going to hostile locations write a last letter really challenged me.  I had to think, what would I write in that letter? Would I be as willing to go if I knew that death was a possibility to the point that I was writing my last words?  Last Sunday, one of the missionaries supported by our church spoke during the sermon.  He said that one of the questions he’s asked most often is “Are you safe there?” and his response was “Is the goal of what we do to be safe?”  I thought those words perfectly explained how we should, as Christians, believe that the gospel is worth it enough to no longer worry about what is safe and make our first priority expanding the Kingdom.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 24

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Day 24: The Body.  I once had a conversation with a former boss where I intentionally brought up Jesus and the church I was attending.  She mentioned that she thinks its great for me to be in church, but that it just doesn’t work for her.  She felt that she was able to follow Christ and spend time learning about him without attending a church full of “hypocrites.”  At that time, all I knew to say was “Well, I really love being connected to other believers and learning from others and living in community.”  I love that now I feel equipped with some scripture also to back up the importance of not only being connected to God, but also to the body.

Being challenged and encouraged by other believers that are helping you learn new things, holding you accountable, giving you words of encouragement, supporting you through the hard things, etc. is so important.  It is not something that should be optional.  It is something that the scripture makes very clear should be a priority.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 23

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Day 23: Build Your Prayer Life.  Today’s challenge was to begin working towards spending an hour in prayer every day.  Today I spent 20 minutes in one chunk, plus other times throughout the day.  I would like to get to where I am praying for 15-30 minutes in the morning during a time set aside specifically for prayer, praying throughout my day while I am doing other things (working, snuggling babies, doing laundry, driving, etc.), and then spending 30-45 minutes at the end of the day in prayer during a time set aside specifically for that purpose.

I tend to spend a lot of time in prayer anyway.  I have always loved to pray and spend time with my God in this way.  I am a prayer journaler.  I love to write my prayers down because it keeps me focused.  Sometimes I will be too lazy to write and I try to simply pray just in my head, and I find myself getting very off track.  I become unfocused and day dreamy.  Also, I love to have the ability to read back through my prayers and see how God has answered them.  It is cool to see the way that God is working in my life and the lives of those I pray for.  I love to use a journal, but I also love to pray while I am doing other things such as driving, cooking, rocking my kids, etc.  I think that both are important, and they kind of touched on this in the video.  You need times of direct, specific, intentional prayer to spend a large amount of time praising and petitioning God.  But you also need the times where you are simply conversing with God throughout your day.  It is those little prayers that help us stay focused on the Lord during our whole day.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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

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!