11/30/2008 | Author: RCW
Not sure how you celebrate Thanksgiving. We generally eat way too much, watch some football, and sleep a lot. Mixed in there is some good quality time with family.

Trying to relate thanksgiving to this site is no challenge. That's because it's hardly any work to think about the close relationship that exists between discipleship and thanksgiving. I'll simply give you a few Biblical passages:

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders {his} way {aright} I shall show the salvation of God." - Psalm 50:23

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." - Philippians 4:6

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving..." - Colossians 4:2

If you want some more examples, click here.

In short, the relationship might be best stated: Thanksgiving should be a natural demeanor that characterizes the life of a devoted follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ. As we fall more in love with God and become more transformed into Christ's image (discipleship), thanksgiving should be as natural as breathing, incorporated into our core.

It may sound awful during times of pain, but the reality is that we are never without reason to give thanks to God!
Discipleship and Actions - Part 2
11/24/2008 | Author: RCW
Back in November, I wrote a few blogs about Discipleship (They were titled: Discipleship and Learning; Discipleship and Feelings; Relational Discipleship; and Discipleship and Actions).

I spoke of the inter-relatedness of three mind, heart, and will of a disciple of Jesus Christ (and of humans in general). It just dawned on me that I had another little tidbit sitting in my blog compositions ready to be published. This was a 2nd part to the Discipleship and Actions post.

Part of the reason that the "actions" aspect of discipleship becomes so important is because of the unique inter-relationship our actions share with the previous two aspects (the mind and heart). Our deeds, behavior or actions are unique because they are linked DIRECTLY with the first two - our head and our heart. There is a dependency upon our head and our heart that will most often determine our actions. In other words, we all tend to act BASED UPON how we think or how we feel. Hence, this "action" component is frequently the first to be forgotten when many people think of discipleship. As a result comes one of the most wonderful (if we are following Christ) and yet most scary things (if we are not following Him) is that our actions are so inextricably linked to our mind and heart that it is nearly impossible to allow the two to be in opposition for very long. For instance, if my belief in Christ suddenly changes (for better or worse), soon my desire or effectiveness to DO THINGS for Christ or in a Christ-like manner will change as well (for better or worse CORRESPONDING to the belief and emotions). Many would even say that the feelings are dependent on our thinking (thereby placing the mind into the foremost place of importance. Likewise, if our behavior changes for the better or the worse, soon our thinking and our emotions are changing along with it. In short, God designed our entire self to be one whole complete indivisible person...mind, body, will, emotions, soul, spirit. If one part of our self changes (for better or for worse), then we can rightly expect the other parts of our self to follow suit with time.

Prayer: Oh, God, help me to be someone that honors you with my whole being. Let me worship you with my entire mind, intellect, thinking, heart, emotions, loving, will, actions, relationships, soul, spirit, personality, expressions, language, eyes, ears, hands, and feet. May I be wholly yours.


For extra credit, listen to David Crowder's song entitled "Wholly Yours."
Discipleship and Actions
11/20/2008 | Author: RCW
Some of you may have seen this coming.

I did a blog entry on Discipleship and Learning. I then published one on Discipleship and Feelings. Now of course, I am writing one on Discipleship and Actions. This is for some people the "holy trinity" of discipleship....God's word penetrating and transforming the human mind, human heart, and human hands or will. I am not sure that I want to limit discipleship to JUST those 3, but it makes a handy-dandy and memorable formula.

I think I am going to keep this entry as short as I can and simply state that discipleship MUST have a volitional component. In other words, if we begin to describe discipleship, there is always a definite piece of it that involves our own will.

Think of it...

  • We already spoke of the potential flaw in giving God our mind, but not our heart and emotions. (We run the risk of becoming dry and lifeless! Discipleship is more than JUST learning!)

  • We also spoke of the danger of giving God our heart without our mind.
    (We risk having zeal without knowledge, or passion without content, passionate devotion without a proper understanding!)

NOW what we are talking about involves the surrender or non-surrender of our ACTIONS or WILL.

  • What happens when God has our mind but not our will?
    (We are with those who call Him Lord, but will ultimately perish! We become the ones who hear and know the Word, but don't act on bad as the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Read Lk. 7:43-49!)

  • What good is it if God has our heart surrendered to Him, but not our behavior?
    (We run the risk of being hypocrites...forgetting that love is an action, not feelings!)

  • What good will it be to God if we ACT like Him, but don't surrender our mind to Him as well?
    (We are just do-gooders...having a type of godliness but not acknowledging its source.)

  • Or what good will it be to God if we give Him our actions, but not our heart?
    (Our service is passionless and will be nothing more than mere the Israelites who confessed God and observed rituals, but whose hearts were far from Him!)

In the end, we could find scripture after scripture (many from the mouth of Jesus Himself) that condemns and rebukes these various conflicts of allegiance.
The bedrock bottom line reality is: Real discipleship involves submitting our head, heart, and hands (and whatever other parts of ourselves that we might speak of -- soul, spirit, body, speech, passions, relationships, priorities, calling, vocation, time, etc.) wholly and completely unto God.

Any non-surrendering on our part amounts to a violation of the first and greatest commandment: To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, might, and strength.

Relational Discipleship
11/19/2008 | Author: RCW
I am a big believer in one on one discipleship ("life-on-life discipleship" as some call it). I have had many mentors and "spiritual influencers" who have invested in me over the years. The following message was given by a professor from one of my own alma maters, Wheaton College. Dr. Jerry Root is his name. He is a delightful person. I think his message could really make an impact on you. Listen by clicking the link below:


(You will need to have Real Player installed to hear it, but if you don't have it, you can download it for free here.)

As for Dr. Root, I never had Dr. Root for one of my professors, but I knew him well from being on campus with him and running his transactions at the Chase bank there in Wheaton. Here is a picture and brief bio of him. We'd talk about Christ and discipleship at times over the teller window. :) Same with Leland Ryken, Mark Noll, and Kent Hughes. Dr. Root would always greet everyone around campus (whether he knew them or not) by saying, "Shalom!" which of course is a Hebrew greeting which if translated into English would mean something like "God's Peace to You" or "May God give you Completeness" or "Be whole in God". He was in the habit of mentoring and inviting several undergraduate students to his home once a week just to "hang out"...he really modeled life-on-life discipleship.

If you enjoy the chapel message, you might be curious to know that Wheaton's chapel messages are archived on their website. There are some great ones! There are messages from scholars, writers, professors, and pastors such as Howard Hendricks, Alistair Begg, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, J.I. Packer, John Stott, John Piper, Dallas Willard, Lyle Dorsett, Stephen Arterburn, Henry Cloud, Arthur Holmes, John and Nancy Ortberg, as well as singer/songwriters like Phil Keaggy, Jars of Clay, Bebo Norman, Fernando Ortega, and many others. Don't feel bad if you don't recognize some of the names. If you listen to them or read one of their books, you'll be likely to remember them.

Feel free to enjoy them!

Discipleship and Feelings
11/17/2008 | Author: RCW
After rereading my last blog, I realized that I may need to bring some clarification. Notice the title was "Discipleship AND Learning". This is worth noting since it means the two are separate things. They should not be equated as though one IS the other or that they are interchangeable somehow. Rather, there is a very unique relationship between the two that deserved mentioning.

Everyone should know that discipleship is more than just "learning." If someone is a "learner" of Christ, or a "learner" of "The Way" as Luke liked to call it, there is certainly more to it than simply an academic acquiring of knowledge. (Although I will readily admit that I am one who many times emphasizes the importance of reading and using one's mind for God's glory than may be normal... If so, it is simply because I am trying to bring change to an area within the church where I see room for improvement. :) There are a few outstanding books on this topic...Fit Bodies Fat Minds by Os Guinness; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll; and Your Mind Matters by John Stott. The latter is the shortest if you find yourself particularly deficient in this area. :) There are actually several others, but these are just some very good ones that I have read.)

No, discipleship is more than getting knowledge or acquiring facts. Discipleship also involves the emotions, feelings, and affections. In my own estimation however, the role of emotions can never surpass the role of the intellect in our walk with Christ. That is, we can't and shouldn't get ourselves emotionally excited or pious over unintelligible gibberish, but rather the truth and facts within God's word. After all, Christ desires that we worship in spirit AND in truth, having a zeal or passion for God THAT ACCORDS WITH knowledge. What might be helpful to remember is that our emotions tend to simply follow after our thoughts in the end. We can (for the most part) rarely feel something that we cannot ultimately understand or rationalize, explain, comprehend, or find a general reason for the feeling.

What I would say very briefly about our emotions and their role in the discipleship process is that they can trick us. They can go up or down in a matter of moments. We need keep them grounded in God's word. The human heart is deceitful according to scripture and is in need of Christ to renew it. Discipleship actually involves us laying down our selfish emotions and affections and allowing God to reshape both our mind and heart. In the end, our prayer should be that God would cause our hearts to think and feel in ways that please Him... to love the things that He loves, to hate the things that He hates, to laugh at the things he would laugh at, to be angry at the things He would be angry about, etc.

In essence, being a disciple or "learner" involves not just acquiring knowledge and reading or studying the Bible, but also applying it in our core so that it penetrates both our thinking as well as our feeling. As "learners" of Christ, we do more than learn new facts about Him by reading our Bibles. We also adopt His demeanor, conform to His likeness, live by His standards, value the things He values, love what He loves, and bring our own sentiments into line with His own.


Prayer: God, help me to give you my heart as well as my mind. Create in me a clean heart, Oh God - one that beats in tune with yours. Give me a heart that is married to a mind centered and concretely focused upon your truth. Make me love what I ought, hate what I should, and feel what you feel towards everything in between. I ask you to reshape my thinking and my feeling. I commit my emotions and affections to you now this day. Amen.

P.S. Have you read or heard someone explain this before in a similar or more convincing way? How or when did you personally first come to understand and practice this aspect of discipleship? Let me know about it! I am always looking for new resources and ready to hear about other believers' experiences!
Discipleship and Learning
11/11/2008 | Author: RCW
It's been a few days since I have written. My apologies. Here is a thought that I'll only briefly mention...

Have you ever thought about the fact that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, there should be a natural desire for "learning"? After all, the very meaning of the word "disciple" in the New Testament means "learner." with that fact, there should arise a certain sort of self-examination: Does that characterize your life? Would you call yourself a "learner"? Do you have a deep and urgent, pressing desire to know more about Christ, about God, about His world, about His word, about yourself, about your spouse, etc.? It is this connection - the link between discipleship and between education, between faith and learning, believing and questioning, between knowing the truth and continuously searching for more of Him - that has become a consuming passion of mine. I hope that it is the same for you as well. Come with me on the journey... a journey of discovery. It is a journey that Augustine called "Faith Seeking Understanding." We will never fully arrive in this earthly life, but we won't ever be the same after we begin! I could write for miles about this topic, but I won't. More to come....

Saw a cool article about Christianity and voting, government, etc. I am not endorsing the source or the religious affiliation of the associated institution, but overall it was readable, informative, rational, and helpful for someone who might wonder about the curious relationship/tension between Christianity and politics especially in America. This is not the article to end all articles (I could no doubt search and find a better and more exhaustive one, but brevity is nice). Here is the link in case you want to read it. The Romans 13 passage is a recommended read for a Biblical voice.