A Long Overdue Update
10/15/2013 | Author: RCW
Hey Readers,

I have had some email messages from folks encouraging me to get back into the swing of writing on here.  Here's the deal:

1) My current job seems much more important and its demands have made the thought of writing seem like a joke of a priority...especially considering a few other things:

2) That so few people comment on blogs. Seriously.  Think about this.  Even the best blogs in cyberspace can struggle to muster comments.  The number of people who read a blog post seems to far outweigh the number of comments.  For someone on the fence about making time to write; a lack of comments really isn't a good motivator.  Just sayin'.  I read a lot of blogs and articles and I can count on one hand how many times I've actually commented.

3) That the blogosphere seems to have changed as I see it.  The best bloggers have gotten better.  They either do it full time for income, share the writing load with multiple people, or utilize ghost writers.  Let's face it...for those of us in the ministry world who haven't delegated EVERYTHING away to someone else, there's a ton of work to be done constantly.  I marvel sometimes at the proficiency with which certain people can be pastoring or serving in a significant ministry role (or four) and yet are doing 12 other things with excellence.  It's fairly obvious and known that many individuals within the Christian world are fine letting other people do their work for them and then taking the credit. Secretaries, interns, students, underlings, and ghost-writers make certain folks look very busy.  Some prominent pastors have people write their sermons for them, convert their sermons to books or bible studies, check their emails, answer their phone calls, wipe their...er, nevermind.  But unless I could bring myself to do some of those things ethically, and if I felt good about manipulating people, or if I thought it appropriate to use my administrative assistant to help me do stuff not directly related to my role and the church, maybe I'd write more.  Know what I mean?  That ain't me.  I'm still a purist in this regard.

4) I have found several ways to personally disciple multiple individuals from a long distance away.  Being that one of the major reasons I started this blog was to assist with the discipleship of several people who happened to live far from me, I have found an increasing number of exciting and robust resources with lots of dedicated workers sustaining them that can accomplish the same purpose.

5) And finally, I just really find Twitter a lot more effective.  Twitter is micro-blogging.  A while back, I was doing some thinking.  I thought, "Man....Does anyone actually blog anymore?  Ever since I started using Twitter, blogging seems so ancient.  Let's face it...With increasingly limited time, I don't care to read a blog nearly as much as I would a Tweet.  That said, I've been on Twitter for the last year and a half or so and have found it to be quicker for me and for readers.  I can say what I need to say and get to the point so much faster.  People don't have to comment or reply, they can just favorite or retweet with one click.

So...what I am saying is that for right now, I am utilizing Twitter RATHER than this blog.  For now anyway.  Something could change, but that's the way it stands right now.   

You can Follow Me on Twitter here: @RC_Wilkins.
As a minister of discipleship within a local church, I can relate many stories of people finding a Bible Study within our church, plugging in, and beginning to grow deep roots in God's word and in their relationship with Christ.

For others, finding the right Bible study can be a challenge.  Here are some things to keep in mind about that.

Ask yourself: Whose job is it to see that I grow spiritually?

Here are the most common answers to such a question.

1. It is my pastor's job

Yes and no on this one.  Your pastor is entrusted with shepherding and  spiritual caring for the "flock" that God has placed under his stewardship.  However, if all you do is come to church, sing some songs, and listen to a sermon once a week, you might or might not actually ever begin to grow spiritually.  Most every pastor (and virtually every pastor worth listening to) would agree that if you really want to start growing spiritually, you'll need to be involving yourself with other believers in Bible study and prayer.  Do you know what statistics are showing to be the number one proven way for churchgoers to begin growing spiritually is? It is simply this: Prayerfully study the Bible when you are not at church!  Your pastor can't force you to do that, but he can certainly influence and encourage you to do so.

2. It is my church's job (or my discipleship pastor's job)

Yes and no on this one. Your church (and your discipleship pastor if you have one) are like your pastor in that they are entrusted with overseeing and facilitating the spiritual development of those God has placed under their stewardship.  However, as much as they labor to assist in people's spiritual growth and make it easy for them, sometimes it doesn't seem to happen.  I occasionally receive complaints from people that they are not growing spiritually...some of whom are deeply involved in a Bible study.  I know...it is a head scratcher.  But even though your church and your ministers strive hard to help you grow spiritually, the job is partly your responsibility as well.  Do you show up to church ready to listen and learn?  Do you attend a Bible study at your church expecting to hear God speak to you through the scripture?  Or are you waiting for just the right Bible study to come along with just the right people with just the right teacher?  You might be waiting a long time. 

3. It is MY job

This might be getting close to the right answer.  It's almost there.  As we said before, you should absolutely take responsibilty for your own spiritual growth.  Don't let obstacles deter you from it.  Your pastor will try to influence and the church should provide avenues for spiritual growth, but nothing is stopping you from picking the Bible up or praying.  Every day, spend time in prayer and Bible study.  Don't let your spiritual growth rise or fall on a Bible study teacher or whether you can manage to squeeze in time for a small group during the week on top of serving and worshipping.  Take ownership of your spiritual development.  Make it your priority.  Rearrange your schedule and priorities if you must.  See if you can let God have your heart every single moment of every single day whether you are at church or not, whether you are reading the Bible or doing anything under the sun!  And yet, the responsibility doesn't rest on you alone...


4. It is God's job

Here's a very important truth.  God desires that you grow spiritually.  And He is orchestrating it behind the scenes in countless ways - through the experiences He allows you, through the relationships you have, through the sermons you hear, prayers you pray, conversations you have, etc.  Even when you think you are not growing spiritually, God might strongly disagree.  Watch and pray for eyes to see how He is growing you and stretching your faith even in ways you might not see at first glance.  Write them down if you need to.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  (Philippians 2:12-13)
Notice that there are two things at "work".  We are continuing to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The idea is that we strive to live in obedience to God and live for Him.  But the second "work" is God's work.  And it is a different tense.  This is a completed work that is already finished.  Someone once said, "We are in the process of becoming who God already sees us as."  Christ saved us.  We are in the process of living like it and in the process of being saved. (The big word for the process is sanctification...we are in the process of being sanctified or made holy or set apart.)  We do our everything to grow spiritually, knowing that it is ultimately God alone who brings it about in our lives, in His own ways and in His own timing and He who started the work in us will be faithful to complete it...and this is so certain that He already HAS completed it! 

Whose job is spiritual growth anyway?  YES...your pastor and your church play a part.  YES...you are accountable for your own spiritual growth.  YES and most emphatically...God grants it, He does it, He gets the job done in His people's lives.     

I've lost some weight recently.  And it has caused me to want to ask the question: What does your before and after picture look like?

No, I am not talking about an actual photo or your physical appearance.  What I am really asking is this:

What has changed about you since the day Jesus Christ came into your life?

Don't rush to keep reading.  Look back at the question. 

Make a list.  Here's how:

Make two columns on a sheet of paper.  Label the left column "BC" and label the right column "AC".  ("Before Christ" and "After Christ", silly!)

In the left colum, answer the question: Who were you long before you knew Jesus Christ or invited Him into your life?  Write down a description or some descriptive words that come to mind.  If some characteristics were more dominant than others, bold them or underline them.

Now, when you embraced Jesus as your Lord and Savior, what changed?  In the left column, cross off the things that no longer described you.  If something didn't go away, but has diminished considerably, draw an arrow next to it pointing either up or down (up could mean that you've given that area to God; down could simply mean that it has decreased).

Now, what are you like today?  Write down some things that describe you in the right column.

When you complete that little exercise, what did you find?  For some, it is a drastic difference to see the two columns.  It is a humbling and liberating exercise to see it on paper.  You feel stirred to worship and thank God for the work He has done.  I hope that is you. 

But not everyone has that story.  Many confessing Christians today would go through that exercise and struggle.  They might not be able to recall who they were before Christ.  They might feel strange that the column on the left was not riddled with "bad stuff."  They might feel guilt that the right side and left side are actually fairly similar.
Many confessing Christians today would have
trouble describing how Christ has changed them.

What does that mean?

There are a ton of potential reasons.   It may be a mixture of several reasons or be entirely too complicated to put into words.  But let me encourage you...

  1. Sometimes God changes us gradually and not all at once.  Be patient as He continues to work in your life.  Trust His hand even when you cannot see it or feel it.
  2. Don't get discouraged if you don't have a terrible pre-Christian past.  Thank God for it!  Not all Christians went from "terrible person" to "perfect person" by the world's standards; but spiritually speaking, any person who gives their life to Christ goes from "dead" to "alive", from "wicked and condemned" to "forgiven"...even those that were "good people."
  3. Finally, some may need to sober up to the reality that part of the reason that your "chart" might not look right might be the result of a lack of discipleship.  Your spiritual growth stopped the day it was supposed to start.  There are tons of people who make decisions to trust Christ who fail to mature or grow in their relationship with God.  Sometimes this is the fault of a minstry, sometimes it is the fault of the individual, and sometimes there is no real blame upon anyone.  Whatever the case, there is ALWAYS today and tomorrow.  Ask yourself: What am I doing to grow in my walk with Christ?  Have I cheated myself out of a deeper relationship with God?  How can I give more of me to Jesus? Commit to giving Him even more influence, even more control, even more of you.   Give God fertile soil to work with in your life so that you can be firmly rooted and ready to grow.

You make your choices and your choices make you.  Why miss out on what God desires for you?  Make sure that Jesus Christ is driving behind the wheel of your life...your drive will be difficult but beautiful.  It will be a rush of joy not to mention an unfathomably awesome final destination!  The best is always yet to come for the Christian.

The Main Thing...is to Keep Christ Central and Foremost.  All else is folly.