“Will you disciple me?”
Whether you’ve asked the question or received it, rightly defining this concept is important. Is a mentor someone who sins less than the mentee? Is discipleship showing someone how to be a better Christian? A better person? Is it formal, like a tutor sitting across the table from a student? Is it casual, like an apprentice working alongside someone more experienced?
While there is value in discussing the nuts and bolts of formalized meetings versus life-on-life rhythms, what topics to study, and what goals to set, that is not the approach I will take here. Instead, I want to present you with three metaphors to describe the role of a mentor in discipleship.
To choose a knowledge of food over a knowledge of the Word of God is a catastrophic mistake. It is tempting in a world full of the threat of cancer and new diseases or ailments to look to right eating choices to sustain us, but the Bible is very clear that is not the answer. God alone gives and sustains life. Knowing and obeying His word is far better for our health than the most researched, healthy and natural diet plan.
Whole Foods, a high end grocery store, printed this on their brown paper bags: “Buy Goods, Not Bads.” A follow up design stated: “Feed your better nature.” Whole Foods isn’t the first company to jump on the concept of food morality, of good and bad foods. Plenty of people are seeking to eradicate the bad foods and produce more of the good. Here’s the question: is the food bad or are we bad? Does bad food corrupt our bodies, or has our sin corrupt the food?
There are a lot of opinions from a lot of people on what we should eat, why we struggle with food, and how to fix it. While observing the trends in food issues, I started to ask myself the question: what does the Bible have to say about food.
The answer I found: surprisingly a lot!
This post contains link to many other articles in this series.
Can you be thankful for your failures? Does it have any beneficial place in the life of the Christian?
My self-love was like a film over the eyes of my heart. I could see God, but the glimpses of Him were somewhat cloudy. Failure is the solution disolving the residue of pride. With each removal of pride comes a crisper view of the glory of God.
“Will you marry me?”
It’s the moment many are waiting for. But however romantic the day of engagement, the time between “I will” and “I do” is often difficult. It’s difficult because you know who you are going to marry, but you aren’t married yet. It’s a season of already and not yet. Very few people look back on engagement longing for it again. Being married is so much better than waiting to be married.
Similarly, Christians live in the already and not yet. We are the Bride of Christ. Our future is secure; our hope is certain. But it isn’t yet. We do not see Christ face to face; we do not experience a life free from the sin Christ defeated. But yet it is certain that one day we will. We are the betrothed Bride of Christ, waiting for our wedding day. We live by faith, not by sight. And in faith, we wait.
Though I never had an outwardly needy friendship, the weeds of codependency were still popping up in my life, just in a different form.
I needed her to be ok with me. I needed her approval and her acceptance. I needed her more than I loved her. This is the essence of codependency: driven by our own needs we become unable to truly love other people. My neediness was near impossible to see because it manifested by keeping her at arms-length. I perceived myself not to be needy, but to be perfectly content without her in my life.
As my life ebbs and flows, so does my definition of success.No longer trying to ace my college exam, I’m fighting to stay on top of laundry. No longer trying to be a good Christian (aware that I can’t be good on my own), success equals dependency. But still, I live and die for success.
But in the landscape of success and failure, Psalm 27 gives me a new frame of reference.
How can you know if you are using the Bible to avoid Jesus? When it becomes a self-help manual instead of a platform to showcase your Redeemer. When the Bible produces to-do lists and not worship. When your Bible reading is devoid of prayer. Proper Bible reading first exposes sin, then offers a Savior. The Bible is a witness to the need for a Savior and the presentation of Jesus as that Savior.
Faith is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. Rather it is a willful choice to believe in the reliability of God even when that belief is lacking in physical evidence.
It’s easy to believe the promise that God works things for my good when good things have come to fruition; it’s easy to believe that God is near when He feels near. But when my feelings and experiences tell a different story than the Word of God, faith isn’t so fun anymore.
The test of faith comes when my feelings veer off to the left and God’s Word goes to the right. Here I must make a willful choice to place my faith in what I deem most reliable—my feelings or God’s Word.
When I consider the last decade of my life, I see a series of deaths:
Death of my pride through living in the shadow of my husband’s giftedness. Death of my fear of conflict through divorces in my family and among friends. Death of my fear of confrontation through difficult friendships. Death of my desires through multiple miscarriages. Death of my fear of failure through situations where I could not win. Death of my hope in myself through seeing my exposed sin in high-definition focus.
Each season of dying has felt just like that—dying. The choking out of something I have loved, desired, and clung to for hope, peace, and safety. The choking out of things in me, writhing, gasping for breath and praying, “Does it have to be this way? Can’t I follow You and also keep this with me? Does it really need to die?”
In God’s kingdom, pruning is caring. Jesus is the true vine, His Father the vinedresser. Every branch in Jesus that bears fruit, the Father prunes that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1–2).
God’s answer to my question is yes. Yes, it does need to die. It must be pruned. Without pruning, my life will become something even I don’t want—an overgrown, thorny bush with no fruit to offer.
We are too often overly impressed with the “big” ministries of “famous” Christians and give too little weight to the “average, small and unseen” ministry of faithful saints. So in the wake of Toni’s death, I beg you to consider the humble faithfulness of one of your sisters in the faith. She did not set out the change the world, but rather to serve God with joy all the days of her life.
If you have been impacted at all by what I’ve written, then you should know she is partly responsible. Toni Peeler saw in me a small spark of passion for God’s Word, and she took the time to fan it into a flame.
Growing up as a church kid, repentance wasn’t a good thing. It was like flu medication. If you got the flu, of course, it was commendable to take the medication. But even better than that was not getting sick. Avoiding sin was better than needing to repent. Goody-two-shoes that I was, this was great news. I was pretty good at obedience, at following the rule book. But sometime during those church-going years, I got a glimpse of God in His Word: His character, His beauty, His holiness. Rule-following was no longer appealing. Knowing Him was.
I see in myself the need to flee not just from idle hands, but also an idle mind. As is true of many women, unless I’m sleeping, my mind is quite active. And if I do not give my mind a steady intake of good fuel to burn, I will often be burning whatever fuel I can find. The result? Lots of thoughts about aimless things.
Before the moving truck arrived at our house in Dallas, I had already been asking God to provide at least 1 friend who would want to study the Bible with me. I knew that thriving in a new city meant finding a community who would join me in exalting Jesus together in the Word.
Living in German-occupied Holland in 1944, Corrie ten Boom was leading an underground network protecting hundreds of Jews all over the country. This work earned her a ticket to Ravensbruck, a despicable Nazi concentration camp, where unspeakable suffering became the backdrop to a new ministry of prayer meetings in flea-infested barracks and ministering the Word of God to anyone in need.
Miscarriage is the membership card to a club you never asked to be in; a union of women sporting badges of infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, and even abortion. Women who share your emotions, questions, crisis of faith, and isolation, women whose desire to be a parent has been abruptly interrupted by suffering. This post is an effort to encourage those who are grieving and to help friends and family members trying to help.
Jesus is a kill-joy. That’s right, the “happy God” (1 Tim. 1:11 ) of our salvation, who gives life to the full, intends for you not to be happy. Not to be happy, that is, in anything less than the best things.
Jesus is shocking in the way He exposes counterfeit happiness. In fact, His whole ministry turns our understanding of joy, satisfaction, and success upside down. The inaugural words of His first sermon are startling: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3, emphasis added).
The beginning of the book of Exodus is hard not to enjoy. With the burning bush, the Nile turning to blood, the dramatic exit through the Red Sea, what’s not to love? With so many big events, it’s easy to miss the details. Details like the fact that most of the main characters in the first two chapters are women. Each one of them acts in the interest of children, even when their own safety is threatened. Without these five women, Israel’s story of redemption doesn’t happen. Without these five women, Moses doesn’t survive the infanticide occurring in Egypt, and there is no leader to be God’s instrument of deliverance.
At the first snow of manna in Exodus 16, God introduces His people to a Sabbath day. Two-and-a-half months after leaving their former slave drivers, God’s people hear an odd command from their new Master—rest.
Though we might not be slaves, our present culture prizes productivity so highly that taking a day off also sounds absurd. “Maybe God meant take a rest from my normal work and do a different kind of work. I can’t just waste time.”
To be honest, this is exactly how I think. If making to-do lists was a viable hobby, it would be mine. I treat productivity like a sport, seeing if I can beat my previous record of tasks completed in one day. Sad but true.