From Decision to Disciple!

Follow-JesusAll of us at some point make a decision but don’t always see that decision through. The decisions we make are significant because they shape our lives but there are some decisions that define our lives more than others.

One of those defining decisions is answering the call to follow Jesus as one of his disciples. It should be life defining and yet I’m observing a trend in the church that has been consistent throughout the ages. People put their hand up to make a decision but don’t necessarily follow through to actually becoming a disciple. Jesus didn’t call us to make converts but disciples.

You can make a momentary decision to follow Jesus but never actually discover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Many shall come in that day and say Lord, Lord, did we not preach in your name and cast out demons in your name and I will say depart from me, I never knew you.’

In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus gave three examples of people who seemingly made a decision to follow Jesus but didn’t actually follow through to becoming a disciple. When the cost of discipleship presents itself, some people simply cannot pay the price and follow through.

There are stages of spiritual maturity that we must navigate if we are going to move from decision to disciple.

  • Comfort – When we decide to follow Christ we grow quickly and we are excited about everything in God’s kingdom that we come across. There is an element of initial comfort attached to the new discoveries we are making about God.
  • Connection – We start to connect with other like-minded people in Christian community and lifestyle changes are starting to take shape.
  • Cause – We become aware of the cause of Jesus and respond in 1 of 2 ways: Either we commit to the cause or we retreat to comfort and connection. Our revelation of the cause is a line in the sand that defines whether we move from decision to disciple. Unfortunately, some church attenders go backwards and forwards between  the first 3 stages of spiritual maturity.
  • Commitment – If we respond to the cause with commitment we become aware of our gifts and call and we’re moved to action. We start to serve in the life of the church as a priority.
  • Crisis – Once committed to the cause life will always present us with a crisis. This crisis can range from disappointment, loss of a loved one, broken relationship or financial pressure to name a few. In this stage we start to question our theology and we have a choice to make, do we respond Godward or man-ward?
  • Conviction – If we respond positively to the crisis we form internal convictions that shape our ideas, beliefs and actions in line with God and his Word.
  • Consistency – If we get to this final stage, we mature to a pattern of consistent testimony. A life driven by convictions results in a lifestyle of consistency. Consistency is measured by your stickability to what God has purposed in your heart and what you’ve learnt along the journey.

I exercise and train my physical body early each morning. I run, bike, swim, lift weights and  stretch. Some days I move my body quickly and efficiently and other days more like a turtle, very slowly. But the one thing that makes a difference in my fitness is not the initial decision to get up in the morning and train but the consistent showing up, day in and day out and actually doing the training.

Consistency demonstrates maturity and ultimately victory. What about you? Do you tend to make decisions but don’t follow through. Break the pattern today. Move from a decision to a disciple and watch what happens in your world.

The Oracle!

Jesus is Coming Back!

feature-easter paradox_520Now here is a prophetic statement I don’t hear much these days and yet it is one of the most provocative truths the bible gives to us. In prayer the other day, the Spirit of God declared firmly, ‘I’m coming back soon!’

Over 2,000 years ago, the chief role of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the coming of the messiah. In the same way, in every generation, God has raised his prophetic voices up to wake his people up to the fact that Jesus is coming back to planet earth very soon.

No person knows the day, nor the hour but this should compel us even more to be sober, alert and ready to do whatever it is God asks of us to do. I love the church but in some quarters, it appears sleepy and distracted by the lights, camera and action around us. God’s called the church to be in the world but not of it. We are not to conform to the pattern of this world but be kingdom oriented in our thinking and living.

There has never been a greater hour to be about kingdom business and prepare for Jesus’ return. Jesus said, ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’ It’s a question intended to stir us to faithfulness while he tarries. I pray and believe he will as we stand together pursuing the Great Commission and being faithful to God’s call on our lives.

Jesus said, ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached throughout the world and then the end will come.’ Are you playing your part in sharing the gospel of the kingdom or are you distracted and enamoured by the things of this world?

I pray a Holy Ghost urgency will come into our hearts and ignite us into purposeful activity and passionate intimacy with God as we anticipate the return of Jesus.

The Oracle!

I was always on my mind!

If we only live with ourselves in mind, we will miss what God has in mind for us!

Too many of us are caught up with ourselves always on our mind. When you are pre-occupied with yourself, you have no room to be interested in others. The bible exhorts us to, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). When you are always on your mind, you only ever see life from your limited perspective. Your world becomes bigger when you start to seek first to understand rather than trying to always be understood. God has plans for you that are about your well-being and success (Jer 29:11) but as long as you are always on your mind, you will never understand or embrace the plans that he longs to reveal and outwork in your life.

If we want to follow Christ we must deny ourselves – Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If you want to come after me, you must deny yourself…” This is a hard saying because it is difficult in our day and age to swim upstream and not be on about your agenda. Everything we are taught at school, in the media and in the culture around us promotes the idea that we are the centre of the universe. But Jesus calls us to live with the spirit of the kingdom of God in our minds and hearts, not the spirit of the world = self! You’ve got to leave yourself behind.

Leaving yourself behind looks like Sacrificing yourself for the Call – Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” You can’t follow Jesus and follow yourself at the same time. You have to choose. No one can serve 2 masters, you either follow one or follow the other. When Jesus took up his cross he sacrificed himself for others. Jesus said, “No servant is greater than his master.” If Jesus is our master and he is our ultimate example, then who are we to think we can follow Jesus and excuse ourselves out of the cost of discipleship. Everyday we have a choice – live for ourselves or live for Christ. Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours be done” and he has been exalted to the right hand of the Father. Satan said, “I will be like God” and the bible says, “He fell like lightning from heaven.” Who you sacrifice for will determine your ultimate destiny.

The Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom – The spirit of the world says, “Live for yourself and you will have true life.” but Jesus says, “Die to yourself and you will have true life.” We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds to think like Jesus thinks and order our lives after the pattern of the kingdom of God. One of the reasons why the world looks at the church and thinks that we’re weird is because we operate by a different law. The law of the Spirit of God is now in effect and what people perceive as normal, God perceives as weird and what the world perceives as weird, God perceives as normal. Living for God and others will be seen as weird but go ahead and live with others on your mind anyway.

It’s dangerous to live for yourself and achieve your goal – Jesus said, “What will it profit you, if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?” The answer = nothing. You could live completely for yourself and even achieve your goal but be completely miserable because you are the only in your small little world. A Day is coming called the Day of Judgment when your work will be tested by fire and if it survives the test, you will be rewarded but if it is burned up, you will suffer loss (1 Cor 3:13-14). What profit are living for – Temporary or Eternal?

Insight!