Titus For You: Book Review & Summary

UnknownTheological debates occur within Christianity; sadly, some miss the main point biblical authors were really communicating. For example, the book of Titus is often remembered for the checklist of qualifications concerning elders, yet there is more to the book than this one topic. Author Tim Chester of Sheffield, England does a great job in Titus For You of summarizing Paul’s intent for the entire epistle. Basically, Chester believes Paul wrote this letter to Titus, his younger son in the Christian faith (1:4), by saying, “His goal was not converts, but disciples. For any ministry we are involved in…that should be our goal, too.”Chester explains his thesis by exegetically explaining this epistle verse-by-verse, which includes topics such as the Gospel, discipleship, character, God’s grace, and His glory.

The Gospel is the Cornerstone of Discipleship First, Chester’s summary of Titus may be discipleship. He realizes that Paul’s letter begins by emphasizing the Gospel (1:1-3). Only the Gospel can “bring those to whom God has chosen to saving faith” because one cannot rescue oneself, which feeds into holistic discipleship. In other words, the Gospel must be lived out in each believer’s life and not just received as a one-time moment of salvation. In chapter three in the book of Titus (3:4-7), Chester explains the difference between God’s grace and His glory. He starts by showing how Paul emphasized correct Gospel application in both belief and in culture. As a result, one lives a purposeful life because one’s motivation for living is founded in the Gospel’s redemptive application in not just their past, but also in their present and future. Continue reading “Titus For You: Book Review & Summary”

The Three-Fold Discipleship (Part 3), by Zach Kendrick

FINALLY I’m posting Zach Kendrick’s third post on discipleship. I originally began posting his three part piece on discipleship back in November. Granted my delays in between each edition of Zach’s series hasn’t been helpful, but I would strongly encourage you go back and read the first two editions. Part 1 and Part 2 help set up this third and final post of Zach’s on discipleship, which I believe is needed now more than ever. So I hope you enjoy Zach’s posts, check out his website, which you can click on in my blog roll, and let’s make disciples so we can baptize even more disciples.

In my last two posts I have discussed the need for being a three-fold disciple. First I discussed the need for a person to be a disciple with their head, because there are facts about the gospel we must know in order to be a disciple. Next I discussed the need for a person to be a disciple with their heart. The facts of the gospel must transfer from our head to our heart and change what we believe. The last step of the three-fold disciple is the hands. What we know and believe effects what we do; simple as that. James puts it this way, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17, ESV). He goes on to say, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even then demons believe and shudder” (2:19)! Belief in God alone is not enough, we must allow what we know and believe about the gospel to transform how we live. If a person merely does good deeds, they are not living the gospel they are following religion. These people are trying to work their way to a relationship with God and may not truly know Jesus.

For this reason it is crucial in discipleship to first know the facts of the gospel, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, ESV). A disciple must come to the realization that God is sovereign and created the world perfect, but man rebelled and sinned against God. Yet, God in his mercy and grace has made a way of salvation for wicked sinners. When a person responds to this gospel in faith he is justified (made right before God) and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1). The intellectual knowledge of the gospel must transfer to the heart and change what we believe. We are no longer sinners before a holy God, but adopted sons and daughters through the blood of Jesus Christ. This belief in the gospel then changes how we live. We now live as ambassadors in the world, doing good deeds, not to earn God’s love, but because he already loves us.

This changes everything! A disciple must learn the gospel (Head), believe the gospel (Heart), and experience/live the gospel (Hands).

(This post is by my friend Zach Kendrick. He is a church planter in Helena, AL just outside of Birmingham. Each week he and I will be sharing various posts on another’s blog. Please pray for he and his wife Courtney as they start a new church for God’s Kingdom.
You can also follow him at this link right HERE.)

The Three-Fold Disciple (Part 2), by Zach Kendrick

Some time ago my friend proposed the idea of the three-fold disciple: Head, Heart, and Hands. Many times today we define discipleship by intellectual facts that have been learned (The Convergent Church). As he touched on in a previous post, it is important that there be an intellectual aspect of discipleship. By definition a disciple is a learner. Yet, it is important as well, that the information we learn about being a disciple transfers from our head to our heart. Here is the remainder of his original part-two post.

Continue reading “The Three-Fold Disciple (Part 2), by Zach Kendrick”

The Three-Fold Disciple (Part 1), by Zach Kendrick

I read a quote the other day from a book I am reading The Convergent Church by Mark Liederbach and Alvin Reid. The quote said, “too often discipleship models are regulated to classroom teachings in Sunday school settings and seminary classrooms with knowledge based curricula instead of life-on-life, obedience based discipleship.” They go on to say, “The emphasis on orthodoxy (right teaching) has led to the unfortunate neglect of orthopraxy (right living).” Liederbach and Reid are on to something in this book. They are pointing to the lack of discipleship in the American Church. I know that they, nor I am the first to point this out. Many books, blogs, and sermons will be written about how to fix the problem. Yet, one chord they hit on is the fact that for so long we have equated discipleship with classroom learning. We have taught that if a person can acquire more knowledge about God then that makes him a true disciple. This could not be further from the truth.

EVERYTHING Does NOT Rise and Fall On Leadership.

John Maxwell originated the phrase, “Everything rises and falls on leadership” in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Often when I go to ministry conferences and I hear leaders speak, this becomes their favorite quote. It appears as a sort of speech pause for them if they forget anything to say. I do not blame them because it is a powerful quote. However, I contend that those who use it should consider the rest of leadership because they often misapply the quote. Allow me to explain.

The fact is there are some people who are stubborn and refuse to follow. This should be to no fault of the leader and too many times leaders bear unjust punishment because no one was willing to follow. They have great leadership abilities, but either the situation is a mismatch or because of stubborn followers the leaders are unfairly blamed. Therefore, by saying that, “EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership” fails to mention the other half of the leadership equation, which is followership.

In his book, Leading, Teaching, and Making Disciples, Michael Mitchell writes, “There is no leadership without someone following.” His intention is not to callout poor leadership, but to reform negative followers. This is why he further says, “Followership is a commitment to change, a willingness to be transformed into the image, style, and behavior of the leader…a leader must learn to be a follower.” This is Mitchell’s view, but it was also the view of Christ.

In Mark 1:17 Jesus calls Peter and Andrew with the following phrase, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Christ’s first words to His first disciples were to “follow.” He implied that there was a responsibility on them that if they did follow Christ He would transform them. They would no longer be fishermen, but “become fishers of men.” Christ as the leader made the call to them for leadership, but they had to submit and follow. It was a two-part equation that resulted in great success because Peter helped found the early Christian church.

So, the next time you reflect on the phrase, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” remember that it does not. It does mean that leaders do share the bulk of the burden in leadership. However, it also means that you as an individual have a duty to follow your leaders because their success and yours depends on it. Should you find yourself unable to follow a particular leader than for the productivity of the organization and yourself, you should consider leaving. You could be the catalyst for change, which would be a benefit to you, the organization, and even the leader. No matter what you decide let me encourage you to do so prayerfully.

In the meantime, remember, “Most things rise and fall on leadership, not everything. The rest is dependent on how you follow.”

7 & Ways to End Isolation and Loneliness: Part 2

Connection

Today I want to close the post I began on Wednesday on how to end isolation and loneliness. If you did not get the chance to read the first part of this two-part blog post then feel free to read the post before reading the tips below. In my earlier post I mentioned that I believe connecting with others is important. This is because when we know how to connect with others we can also share Christ with those we love and meet. Learning how to connect with others also helps us diminish our loneliness and isolation, which can result in great sadness. Therefore, with these outcomes possible I want to give you my last tips.

5. Continue to Ask Questions

In my last post, I mentioned an interpersonal relationship skill I learned from my Father-in-law. Another tactic I believe he uses is that he asks questions about the others. For years, I have noticed that he attempts to connect with people by showing a genuine interest in them. As a result, when people know he cares they open up and have long conversations with him. They even love answering questions about themselves and when they do my Father-in-law is able to connect with them in multiple ways because he knows more about them. The more he knows the better he is able to connect with them because he is continually learning about them. Over time, he impresses me with how many people love to approach him simply because he connected with them by showing interest in them.

6. You Will Not Always Connect

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Batman Begins when Thomas Wayne tells his son Bruce Wayne, “Why do we learn to fall? So that we can pick ourselves back up.” Face it, you and I are going to fail and its alright. No one is perfect in anything and connecting with people is no different. So, go ahead and admit that you will fail at times, but rejoice when you do succeed. In fact, the only way you are going to get better at connecting with others for the future, is to practice in the present. Remember when we fail its a great opportunity to learn from out mistakes so we can better succeed in the future. You are going to fail and it is all right.

7. Connecting Improves Our Faith

Practically, my advice is to help you reduce any loneliness you may face. Spiritually, this post can also help you become a better evangelist. Often Christians will tell me they don’t know whom they can share Christ with and my response is “THE WORLD!” Christ tells us in Matthew 28:19 that each person who claims Him as Lord and Savior is to

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”

His command is not optional, but I believe Christians often fail to share Christ with anyone because we do not know how to connect with strangers, or even loved ones. Connecting with people is not difficult and I think we make it tougher than needed. Therefore, let me urge you to use these tips to improve your social skills and any loneliness you may feel. Also, use these tips to connect with people so that you can share Christ with anyone you meet. Should you not know how to share your faith then inform your pastor that you want to know how to share Christ and I am sure they will train you.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, loneliness is a real issue, but we do not have to remain isolated from the world. We can remedy our loneliness and isolation by applying some simple tips in our lives. The tips may seem scary at first, even if you are an introvert, but over time they will become easier. You will become more successful. Let me urge you to start applying just one tip and grow from there. Remember, the goal is to become connected and sometimes people are waiting on you just as much as you are waiting on them. This is because connection with others has spiritual connections as we share Christ with people. As you share your faith you will feel like you have made a difference in another’s life by making a difference in your own life. Therefore let us embrace these tips so we can feel connected, so we can share our faith, and bless others.

 

THE ABCD’s OF EVANGELISM & DISCIPLESHIP

ABCDTHE ABCD’s OF EVANGELISM & DISCIPLESHIP

Evangelism is a key part of the Christian life. I believe this so much that I pursued a degree teaching me how to motivate others to be better at evangelism. As a part of this degree I learned a variety of evangelistic techniques. One of these techniques was the ABC’s of evangelism.  This evangelistic model is used In VBS and in a lot of churches because it’s a very simplistic and effective means to communicate the Gospel of Christ.   Specifically the ABC’s of Evangelism that stand for:

A = Admit (Admit that you are a sinner, based on Romans 3:23)

B = Believe (Believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins, based on John 1:12)

C = Confess (Confess that Christ is the Lord of your life, based on Romans 10:9-10)

Many Christians have used this evangelistic tool to lead others to eternal security in Jesus Christ. However, no matter how effective of a tool it is, I contend that the ABC’s of Evangelism is missing a step.

Earlier I mentioned I pursued a degree in evangelism. My degree in evangelism taught me how to equip others to be better at evangelism. The degree also taught me how discipleship fit into a healthy church evangelistic model. They believe, as I do now, that if one is discipled effectively then they become better at evangelism. For example, when one knows how to share their faith they are more likely to practice evangelism. Hence, a church increases their evangelistic reach from their discipleship investment into others. So, what does all of this have to do with the ABC’s of Evangelism?  Again, I believe the ABCs of evangelism does not go far enough.

Please know that I believe the three steps are very effective in leading one to Christ, and that does NOT need to change.  Rather, we must never forget that after one is converted by embracing a new life in Christ through faith, that this is when discipleship begins. Thus I suggest the ABC’s of Evangelism become the ABCD’s of Evangelism & Discipleship, which looks like this.

A = Admit (Admit that you are a sinner)

B = Believe (Believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins)

C = Confess (Confess that Christ is Lord)

D = Discipleship (Make Disciples of All Nations & Follow Him)

This model does not diminish the current evangelistic model; instead it adds to the current model to include discipleship. Therefore, evangelism and discipleship are included and neither is left out. This addition allows for an intentional emphasis to be placed on discipleship, just as there has been on evangelism. Therefore, I believe the discipleship component of the ABCD’s of Evangelism & Discipleship should strive to do two things.

1. To train Christians to be able to lead others to faith in Jesus Christ and then disciple new converts to replicate the same for others.

2. To train Christians to become life-long learners of the Christian faith in order to faithfully follow Christ as The Lord if their life.

Lifelong

In closing, Jesus said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men” in Matthew 4:19  not just to call on the name of The Lord to be saved. He said to “make disciples” in Matthew 28:18-20 not just pray this prayer. We need evangelism, but we also need life-long discipleship. I’m not advocating that one is better than the other; instead I’m stating that one with out the other is incomplete. In our efforts to see one eternally secure, lets teach them how in this life to endure.

See you at the next post!