Tag Archives: Disciples

Little League Christianity

chick league

It’s Little League Baseball Season and my grandsons have our family right in the thick of it. It’s exciting stuff to watch the kids smack the ball and run the bases and it’s heart wrenching when they strike out or don’t play as well as they’d have liked to. Yes, I’m their “Noni” and I don’t view the game in quite the same manner as do the parents and coaches. For me it’s a cuteness factor, for them… it’s serious business.

Last night’s game had me thinking on the purpose of this stage in the game. They’re not pro ball players, although you’d never know it from a few of the parent’s reactions. You’d think there was a major league scout in the stands. If you’re one of them you’ll have to forgive me and this really isn’t about you, it’s about the church and Little League Christianity.

When I was saved in 1996 our church had one thing down to a fine art, and that was how to disciple young converts. We met as a group for breakfast at a local restaurant before I went to work. We met for lunch. It was an active time in the church, in that if we weren’t having a revival we’d find someone else who was and attend theirs. I couldn’t get enough of the word of God. This wasn’t a mandated thing for new Christians, it was our desire because we wanted what the old timers of the church had! Oh the Spirit of God is such an awesome thing when it’s on display in the saints of God. We were the little leaguers of the day. It was a training ground before we hit the big league of soul winning and serving on our own. We were not six and seven year olds, we were grown men and women from twenty to seventy who just happened to be in the growing years of faith. We were shown mercy when we made a mistake, and weren’t cast out of the game because we didn’t perform up to par.

This is where I see so many churches missing the mark for church growth. They leave the coaching to the Pastor who’s trying to keep up with a half dozen teams in the church, all at different stages in the game. If you’ve been a child of God for more than a year or two, and you’ve been serious about it, it’s your turn to step out and find you someone to disciple. It will not only encourage them it will encourage you.

John 10:10 (one of my favorite verses) says  

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Stolen Bases

They don’t steal bases in Little League, but I guess they still do in the older leagues. But the base stealer in the game of Christianity is Satan; he removes the base completely out of the game by getting our eyes off the intended purpose. The purpose of the game is to get home by running all the bases, but we get busy and want to skip a few. So Satan obliges by removing it from our site. If God’s only purpose was to get us home, when we got saved we’d just fall in the floor at the altar and our soul would go on to glory. But that’s not the case, the game is still being played out and God has a purpose for our lives.

First Base

Learning the game. It’s our time to sit under preaching and teaching and learn how to live and share the gospel.

Second Base

Take a new convert under your wing and begin teaching them what you’ve just been taught. It is then that you’ll know it deeper by having to prepare to share it with others.

Third Base

It’s at this stage in your Christian walk that you should be in full blown service for the Lord and reaping the abundant life! You should be helping to disciple new converts, serving in the local ministry and have a testimony in your community as a servant of God.

But what I see out of most people is that they’ve never left little league. If it were a real game we’d have sixty year old players. How ridiculous would that be? Almost as ridiculous as the child of God, who has never left the stands at all, yet expects a trophy at the end of season. There’s going to be some sad Christians at home plate.

Going off the Grid

off the grid

Some may or may not have noticed that my posts have been somewhat sporadic of late. Although family responsibilities have attributed to some of my time away, it has more often been an intentional time off the grid. I needed some time to reconnect with the creative side of me that social networking sometimes consumes. I’ve painted a little, gotten to know a girl named Miriam, worked on some book material, wrote a song, picked and grinned and just overall enjoyed the time…it was long overdue… and not yet finished.

In Matthew 14:22 it says “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.” Constrained meaning He had to force them to go.

Jesus had just lost His cousin and friend John the Baptist, He’d had compassion on the multitude and healed the sick, He’d fed 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes…. I’m exhausted just writing the words. He’d been through the wringer in His personal life and in the ministry and so had His friends. The day to day issues of our lives are much the same if you’re involved in ministering to people; there comes a time when you just have to get away. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have a mountain to steal away to, I have a kitchen table; so that has to do and it does. My grid’s not very big, so it doesn’t take me too long to go off the grid and get back.

Jesus’ grid must not have been very big either…

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Jesus wasn’t gone very long until His friends were facing contrary times again. That’s life, is it not? We’re coming out of one trial and going into the next. There’s an occasional reprieve but they’re rare; granted most are minuscule  in comparison to the trials of other people, but they’re ours and it daunting none the less. It takes its toll on you emotionally and physically and above all spiritually. So what’s a gal to do?

Go off the grid for a little while, and not just 15 minutes or an hour. Find yourself some serious time, get your bible and gather your gifts… and allow God to minister to your soul. Gifts? Mine was a paint brush and canvas, a guitar and a computer. All things that I already had… God’s generally already given you what you need. Just go. Take the phone off the hook, or at best check caller I.D. You know the calls you shouldn’t answer!

As I said… I didn’t have a mountain or a hotel to go to… although that would have been nice! All I had was a kitchen table and it was very nice. I really didn’t even go off the grid, just to the edge of it away from the hoopla of life. You can do it! Let me know how it goes.

Empty Bellied Sheep on the Road to Heaven

Matthew 9:37

King James Version (KJV)

 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

Our church over the past few months have taken on discipling like we’d not in a very long time. It was indeed discipling that made the difference in my life as a new convert by having two or three people who took an interest in my life and encouraged me daily in my walk with Christ. They walked along beside me encouraging me daily; not necessarily by saying or doing, but simply “being.”

Being available

Every day someone would swing by my office just to say hello, or call to find out how I liked the church or how life was going. I’m sure they had other things they could have been doing. But one thing was certain, I felt loved!  They made themselves a part of my life and in so doing I learned servitude.

Being approachable

If I’m not the queen of dumb questions, I’m at least the princess. Getting saved puts a burning desire down within to read the Word of God and with reading comes wondering. While the Holy Spirit certainly poured an understanding into me that I had never known, I still didn’t understand many of the cultural aspects and theological terms. It was wonderful having people that I could unashamedly ask the “dumb” questions and who were grounded in the Word enough to know the answers and in so doing I learned study.

Being abased

Much of the time an outspoken church has a reputation of being haughty or holier than thou. Their focus is on appearance rather than attitude and the result is those around them feeling less, or so it was with me. A perfectly dressed saint did not inspire me so much as a saint (who though he or she may have been dressed to the nines or in jeans and a flannel) would make me feel as though I had just had my feet washed by the King. I cannot count the times my new friends not only took care of my spiritual needs but my physical needs as well – and in so doing I learned humility.

Our primary responsibility is leading souls to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but that’s only the beginning; the actual work for the cause of Christ has just begun. If I had not had wonderful people encouraging me along my new found path, I’d have been back to the old path in no time flat. Our church had gotten away from that and was doing a great injustice to the service of the Lord. His sheep were walking around with empty bellies.

In John 21:15-17 the Lord asks Peter three time “Lovest thou me?” and Peter (to paraphrase) said – “You know I do Lord!” Christ answered once to feed the lambs, and twice to feed the sheep. The lambs (new converts, the sheep (those who are stable and unstable in church) ~ We all need fed, we all need encouragement. Some days the road to Heaven is long…

Call and encourage one of your peeps today!

You can’t get there from where you are

Joshua 3:4 ~  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

The children of Israel were departing the wilderness. A whole new generation of God’s chosen, their parents and grandparents had murmered against the leadership, questioned God’s design and ended up dying along the way. Now this generation was about to embark on a journey for which they had “not passed this way before.” There’s something both exciting and un-nerving about going to where we’ve never been. It’s like being the Captain of the Starship Enterprise (only without the strange aliens, although strange church members may make up for that). Israel had great leadership in Moses, and were left in the more than capable hands of Joshua. God’s presence was going before them about a ½ mile, possibly that far ahead as to be seen by all who followed and they were about to get what had only been a dream before. But, it was going to take someone stepping outside their comfort zone, and someone willing to follow. That’s what I believe it takes to have a thriving church.

It seems obvious that to get to where you’ve never been, you’d have to travel where you’ve never gone. And yet church folks don’t like to move out of their section of pews, so to ask them to move outside of the church into the community is really pushing buttons that will cause the breaks to squeal. But if we never move outside the church, how will they see Jesus? Jesus’ comfort zone wasn’t inside the building it was going the less traveled way.

He met the woman at the well in a location that Jews did not travel, in the heat of the day when it was not comfortable, and He didn’t take His ministry team along. When they finally arrived at the well, they marveled that Jesus spoke to the Samarian woman, but they dare not ask it aloud. When they asked Jesus if He wanted something to eat He replied in John 4:34 ~ “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”

The disciples still didn’t get it. So Jesus put it in garden terms Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

So I have to ask myself this question. Am I on Jesus’ ministry team? Would I have been at the well, or would I have been at the grocery store? Would I have been gathering fruit for the Kingdom, or grub for the King? My stomach just rolled over. I fear I’ve spent much of my ministry in the checkout aisle, while God was waiting for me in the community. God went out before the children of Israel into the Promised Land from the wilderness. Now He was taking them back into the wilderness, so to speak. Not asking them to be a part of it, but to go there to bring new children into the Promised Land.

What are we waiting for? We can’t get “there” from “where you are”. Go!

Crazy like that!

ministry begin

Mark 3:20-22 ~ And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.  And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

Let the ministry begin…

Jesus had just ordained the twelve disciples that He might send them forth to preach and the ministry explodes. The people had just seen Him heal the man with the withered hand, they’d heard the wisdom by which He spoke that even awed the religious leaders, although they’d have never said as much. And now they’ve gathered themselves in such great multitude around Him that they couldn’t even get a bite to eat. Crazy times!

And then I read that verse, and re-read that verse thinking surely it did not say what I thought it said. His friends thought He had lost His mind? I resorted to commentaries. They thought it said the same thing. Why on earth would His friend think that He was “beside Himself” in the midst of great things happening in the work of the Lord. What kind of friends of the faith do that? Many of them then and many of them now. Ministry growth scares people. It’s as if it’s a car plummeting down a steep grade without brakes. When God’s doing a great work people are excited, religious leaders lose control, crazy things are happening, people are getting healed, nasty people are getting nice, undesirables are hanging around to see if it’s true, and when  they discover the Lord they are still undesirable people to many. The religious leaders say that He’s of the devil. They’re totally freaked out by the whole thing. They just don’t “get” God.

But I go back to the friends… why would His friends think He was crazy? I guess it’s because crazy things are happening that made them uncomfortable. New people were pushing in as close as they could get to Him, there was a flurry of excitement around Him, people were getting healed, religious people were getting upset and Jesus, well, I guess He was enjoying it so much that He didn’t even care if He got a bite to eat. And His friends think, “He’s crazy.”

I want to get crazy like that! I want my church to be so exciting that it makes the religious uncomfortable, and those with a pre-conceived notion of how church people ought to behave to question it. I want our church to attract the undesirables, who are only undesirable to the religious, Jesus can’t wait until they get to church. I would rather have church in a house because Jesus shows up, than in a church where He’s not welcome. I want a radical reaction from people who hear the gospel, not “reverend religion” that makes Jesus nauseous. Maybe that is why He didn’t eat. I want to be crazy like that!

It’s Sunday morning, I have one hundred things that need done for church camp, but I’m excited about Sunday morning services. Are you crazy like that?  Let’s go to church today and wait for the radicals to show up, or better still let’s lead them in!

Mark 3:20-22 was the first day of official ministry for the disciples and it just got crazier from there. Hallelujah! Let the ministry begin…