At the end of Matthew, the resurrected Jesus commands His followers to make disciples, baptize, and teach others from all over the world everything He has taught them. Before ascending to heaven, He seals it with the promise that He will be with them every step of the way. If Jesus is always with us—through the presence of His Holy Spirit, who dwells within us—then why do we relegate sharing Him with others to the people holding microphones on Sunday?
If we’re the world-changing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians I expect we are, we still have a godly desire (and responsibility) to see heaven come to earth in a tangible way. We want our lives to count. The disconnect occurs when we can’t see how taking the time to recalibrate our hearts to a standard of rest and wholeness, as need arises, makes that happen. But having a healthy heart is a mark of sons and daughters, and all creation cries out for those.
Have you ever felt torn between meeting the needs of your heart and meeting the needs of others? As a disciple maker or ministry leader, have you ever felt the need to perform scrape against raw heart wounds or an exhausted spirit? Like you can’t rest or recover because there is so much work to be done?
You’re not alone.
I recently had the opportunity to connect with an amazing team of church planters. They were spending the day together praying, sharing stories and learning about how to multiply disciples as they planted new communities of faith. One of their leaders asked me to stop by and introduce myself. As we were talking about how important it is to cultivate a healthy, Jesus-centered culture from the very beginning of any new church plant, our conversation began to focus on how important it is to invest time into growing healthy leaders.
Making disciples is messy. Looking at the apostles’ letters to the churches, or Paul’s letters to his spiritual sons, we see the early church fathers grappling with a wide range of issues that would hold believers back from becoming more like Jesus—blatant sin, faulty doctrines, false teachers, lack of faith, and many more. At one point, in response to the unbelief and perversion in His own generation, Jesus even asked, “How much longer do I have to be with you before you get it?”
As a disciple maker living out the Great Commission, it can often feel discouraging to pour so much of your life into a person or group of people, so much time and energy and prayer, only to watch them get entangled in the same sin again, struggling with the same character issues, running into the same wall. Luckily for us, Jesus Christ didn’t come for perfect people.
Lisa (not her real name) is “missing”…AGAIN! Lisa has committed to follow Jesus. Lisa loves Jesus. Lisa also loves spice and is struggling with a lifelong addiction issue. Lisa was doing so well – Celebrate Recovery on Tuesday nights and worship on Saturday nights. New people, places and things (we thought). Clean and sober! Everything looked great! And then, a “fall”! 40 days in the “wilderness” a.k.a. our local jail. We had Starbucks last week when she was released and she was “back on track”. I am so proud of her! A job. A place to live. Back in the family fold. Then, without warning, Lisa is M.I.A., and my heart is broken. Our spiritual family is grieving. Her Mom’s heart is destroyed...again!
We are in the midst of a harvest; but, it is certainly a “messy” harvest.
My family and I recently took a trip with our friend, Cody. As we were driving down the road, we started talking about how to encourage friends who are struggling with doubts about their faith. After chatting about this for a few minutes, Cody asked me if I had any thoughts about what he could do to help his friend.
While I don’t have an easy answer for everyone who wrestles with doubt, I found myself answering Cody’s question with conviction. What if we lived in a way where we could always share fresh testimonies of the reality of God’s love and power? What if we lived in a way where we were always seeing the gospel work in and around our lives?
Coach told us that instead of teaching us from a textbook that he would be sharing things from his life. While the "sharing life" language sounds very natural to me now, looking back I recognize that it was actually revolutionary for me to hear this man that seemed like a legend before I even met him, give to us out of his life experience. As he shared from his life, he directed our focus on the essentials of walking with God and warned us not to become distracted by things that wouldn't really matter in life.
Donna Bishop was one of the first agents of change that I ever had a chance to know. We met when I was a junior in high school. She was a transfer student I had never seen before, but it didn’t take long to realize that she was different. I’d often run into this beautiful young woman alone somewhere on campus, just praying and worshipping Jesus. We shared a couple classes and became friends, but she never ceased to amaze me with how serious she was about following Jesus.
In order to submit to the process, you have to sacrifice the idol of your dreams—and it hurts. That’s the real problem with the carpenter shop. We can get so zealous about our prophetic destiny that when God speaks about something else or points us in a direction that we deem contrary to what we have seen in the spirit, we feel robbed. But God is no thief; we know that the real reason He brings us into the dark room is not to lock us away, but to better develop the full picture of who He has made us to be. So the real question we need to ask ourselves is: Why do I feel like God is robbing me?
What happens when we neglect the importance of our heart because of an unbalanced drive to "do something great" for God? In this video, Brad explores how Jesus was "busy about his Fathers business" even when he was hidden from the public eye as a carpenter. It is in "the carpenter shop" where we learn to become healthy sons and daughters of God.
destiny trap: the confusion, hurt, and betrayal that arises in the heart of a believer, usually one new to the faith, when they realize that though the progression of their individual success pre-Jesus seemed both incontrovertible and destined, the progression of their success in Christ is measured by an entirely different standard.
I shook my head as I wondered what I was about to learn. “A running homily is when you start with any scripture and spend the rest of your time pointing to Jesus.” As he talked about the importance of keeping the person of Jesus central in our preaching, I recognized that it was even more important to keep Jesus at the center of my life. All of my busy rushing around, trying to get qualified to do something great for God was actually leading me away from following after Jesus.
What does it look like to live inside the answer to someone else's prayer? It is understanding our place in the context of God's story that empowers us to surrender fully to His perfect leadership. In this video, Brad discusses the life of William Penn, and how understanding context frees us to trust God more deeply while running the race set before us.
Inside of every apple is the blueprint for the orchard. Often, it is the process of dying to ourselves that allows the dream God planted inside of us to come alive. If only we knew the power of the things that we conceive with God, we would know when to fight for our dreams and when to let go and trust Him with the outcome. In this video, Brad explains that it is the seed of Christ in us that brings true and lasting transformation.