Tag Archives: Christianity

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

In September of 2009, I started an Immersion Discipleship Training (IDT) program. Now, a year later, I have much to reflect on.

This week, I started my second year of my IDT student internship at New Song Christian Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s safe to say that I’ve been effectively discipled in this last year. I am more proficient in the Word and Spirit. I walk in more power and authority. I also have a lot less free time on my hands.

Biblical discipleship is not that common of a thing. Few churches and Christian communities invest the time in the upcoming generations.

The current trend is quite opposite of what I’m experiencing at New Song. Most leaders today hoard their positions, grasping them with a greedy death grip. New Song’s leaders don’t do that.

Discipleship is expensive! But not necessarily in the monetary sense. Sure books and materials for Bible classes cost money. Yes, the cost of food to feed students is consequential. But the greatest cost of biblical discipleship is time.

Time, talent and treasure. God asks us to sow all of those things into His Kingdom. These triad T’s are being sown into me.

Time
Want to show somebody you love them and care about their future? Invest time in them. Give them the thing that cannot be repaid. Give them the ticking seconds on your life’s clock.

The staff at New Song Christian Fellowship believes in pouring into the next generation and they do it very well.

Talent
Each person is created by God with a unique set of gifts. These gifts are not meant to be exploited for personal gain. Rather, they are designed to be shared. We are created to bless and complement each other. We are meant to work together. We’re weak in some areas so others can be strong and help us with them. Too, we are strong in particular practices so we can practically provide for others. Daily I am strengthened in my weak areas because the staff at New Song share their talents with me and help me refine the talents God gave me.

Treasure
I admit it. Money is important. But money doesn’t make the world go ’round. The earth spins because Jesus holds all of the universe together. We can’t serve two masters, God and money. We have to instead master our money and use it for God’s Kingdom. Numerous people have sown financially into me. I live in a host home rent-free. I’ve received anonymous financial gifts. I’ve gotten gift cards to buy food. My high school mascot was a Pirate. As a Pirate, I really love treasure. 😀

My hope for every person reading this is that you have an opportunity to be discipled. Know Christ better. Grow in your knowledge of the Word. Know that the Bible is not this obscure, impossible to understand book. Realize Christ is alive. Life a life of dynamic power and movement.

If you’re not plugged into a dynamic community of believers, don’t despair. There’s hope for you.

The Lord has impressed it upon the hearts of the New Song leadership to create a resource called Disciple’s Handbook. This way anybody who wants to can be effectively discipled. The Great Commission is carried out through this resource. We’re currently in the process of writing the pilot edition of Disciple’s Handbook. It’s not perfect. There may be a typo or thirty. But we know that it’s God-inspired and Holy Spirit directed. The end result of Disciple’s Handbook will be three editions with 12 lessons. Right now we’re up to lesson seven in edition one. We’re working on writing lesson 11 right now. However, the rest of the book and editions haven’t even been written yet! That’s how fresh this is.

Go to New Song’s website to download the lessons for Disciple’s Handbook. Post a comment and let me know what you think of it!

Pastor Dale Evrist, Senior Pastor of New Song Nashville does a daily Old Testament podcast on iTunes. If you want to grow in understanding the Old Testament and how it applies to you today, listen to his free podcast. It’s full of great truth and life lessons. Download iTunes if you don’t already have it. Here’s a link to his Walking Through the Word Podcast on iTunes.

Consider yourself resourced! I am going to warn you, though. Laying down your life in obedience to Christ is costly. But it’s absolutely worth the investment!

The Audience Responds

Did I mention that I’m back from the Dominican Republic? Ha! Well, I am.

I do need to blog about that. I realize this. I will work on it eventually. It will be a lengthy, process and I do not have enough energy to devote to that particular activity at this time. In short, the trip was amazing! We moved in wonderful unity. God is great!

Forging ahead…

I don’t know if you are avid comment readers, but I received a few rousing comments on my post ‘Captive Audience.’ I do not know if the people who commented on that post will read any of my future posts–or even the comment I left them after their comments. Whether they do or don’t return to my blog again, I still want to respond. Plus, for any future readers, this may apply as well.

In the blog ‘Captive Audience,’ I talked about testifying to the truth. Some people find that offensive, binding, and annoyingly religious. I tell you honestly that it is not. I am not in a religion about God. I am in a relationship with Jesus. I realize that phrase may be considered over-used to some, but it’s true. I’m not in a hollow, repetitive activity that involves worshiping an unknown Being known as “The Man upstairs.” No, I’m in a dynamic, epic, deeply transforming relationship with a real, very much alive, redeeming man. His name is Jesus.

My relationship with God is not a set of strict rules and wrath. It’s a grace-filled, love-driven, tender, powerfully refining relationship. It’s not a freeloading, do-whatever-I-want-and-still-go-to-heaven sort of thing. God does instruct very specific things in the Bible. And I obey them. I follow Christ and obey God because I want to. Not because someone is forcing me into a relationless religion.

When I go to the Murfreesboro Writers’ Group, I testify to the truth in my life. That truth is Jesus. That truth is that I’m single and want to get married. That truth is that I am a song writer and am learning to play the piano.

When other people speak and read their work, they are also testifying to the truth in their lives. Their brother died. They are writing a novel. They are working on a short story. Everyone who ever says any opinion is just testifying to what they believe as truth.

I’m not a narrow-minded religious zealot. I am, however, a person who reads the Bible, conforms my mind to what it teaches and grows in my relationship with Jesus. I don’t see Christianity as a list of things that I cannot do. I am free in Christ. I walk in liberty and victory. I like it that I love Jesus.

I know that not every person in the world is going to agree with me, what I believe, or how I live my life. I also know that the name of Jesus offends people. I expect that. The Bible even says it will happen so I’m totally ok with it.

I don’t want to be irrelevant to this world. I don’t want my faith in God to cause people to instantly shut themselves off to me. But I will not compromise what I believe just to appease someone else.

I will write that DR blog sometime. I will. I will.

In Transmission

It’s nearly August and I am still unemployed. As of August 13, it will be exactly three months.

I am in transition. From working in Nashville to working in Murfreesboro. From what I thought was everything I wanted to what I know is everything I’ll need.

I’ve invested many hours in petitioning God and asking Him what I should do. Questions like: Where should I apply? What should I say in the cover letter? Where are You leading me?

Honestly, I haven’t received a clear word from Him on where to apply. He hasn’t said, “Lindsay, I want you to apply for the Claim Processor 1 position at State Farm.” He hasn’t said, “Direct your attention to the Daily News Journal and look for jobs there.”

During the entirety of this time He hasn’t called me to go on to the next job. Rather, He has asked me to stay. He reminded me of things He said months ago and is still saying now. Things that I ignored. Things I took too lightly. Things I thought were clever ideas and crafty suggestions. He asked me to linger in His presence, spend time and grow in intimacy with Him.

In the words of my pastor, “With every encounter comes a commission.” Whenever I spend time with God, I should come away with a conviction for the next task He’s called me to.

I’ve been thinking that God would give me directions on job stuff. I’m unemployed. Shouldn’t He be getting me out of this? Shouldn’t He be providing for me? Shouldn’t He do this? Shouldn’t He do that?

No.

Romans 9:20-22 (NIV) says: 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ “[a] 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Who am I to tell God what He should and should not say to me at certain times in my life? Who am I to direct Him to where He should lead me? Who am I to demand that He only speak to me about a pressing circumstance?

It is not my place to talk to God like that. By His character, God will provide for me. He is my provider. He just may not necessarily provide for me in the way that I expect Him to.

I cannot worry about my status of unemployment. It is not as if God is not aware that I am jobless. He knows this. He knew about it thousands of years ago. And just the same, He knows the exact moment when I will receive the next job. He’s not biting His fingernails and pacing around Heaven saying, “OMS (Oh My Self)! I am so worried about Lindsay. I don’t know what her next move should be. I’m not sure what she should do tomorrow. Oh. I’m so nervous about this.”

God is the potter. I am the clay. I am being molded, refined and perfected for my next venture. I can’t wonder why He made me into a pot of unemployment.

I researched what the word “command” means, and part of its biblical definition means, “transmitting a message.”

Although I haven’t received anything in my GodMail inbox regarding a job interview, I have received a few messages from Him regarding the ways I’ve disobeyed things He told me to do.

He told me to start taking prayer walks on the local college campus in December. I didn’t start those until May/June. He told me to write my mom a very important letter sometime in January. I didn’t do that until May. God called me to Murfreesboro in the winter of 2006. I didn’t get a local Murfreesboro number until a few days ago.

As you can read, God gave me concise directions. And I ignored them. I thought they were just ideas and suggestions. To that, God replied, “They are commands, not suggestions.”

Lots of people complain that God doesn’t speak to them. They don’t hear Him because they aren’t listening.

After months of disobedience, I realize that I am not only in transition. But I am in transmission. God is transmitting messages to me. God is commanding me. And as I receive each message and follow each command I know that they will eventually lead to a job.

I think God has asked me to stay here because I needed to comply with His previously ignored commands before I can move to the next thing.

I started taking prayer walks. I wrote my mom the letter. I have a new cell phone and a local number. I am looking for jobs in Murfreesboro instead of Nashville.

Just yesterday I asked God to tell me His next command. During the launching stage of New Song Murfreesboro (the church in my town) I missed a few sermons because of the transition. God told me to listen to all of the sermons since April. He originally told me this in April, but I didn’t do it then. However, He reminded me of this command so I began the process of listening to the old messages today.

After an honest assessment of myself, I think I’ve complied to all of God’s commands for me that I had previously ignored. While I hope that He commands me to apply for a specific job soon, I will still obey whatever command He tells me, whether it involves a job or not.

In Dependence Day

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

As the 4th of July draws near and thousands of Americans venture out to buy fireworks to shoot into the sky, independence is on my mind.

However, it’s not the kind of independence that the July holiday celebrates. Instead, I’ve been meditating on our days of dependence in Christ.

Recently, I’ve come to notice that many Christians are ashamed to be totally dependent on Christ. It’s interesting how ridiculously hard it is for people to come to the end of themselves. To get to that point of the utter famine of self-reliant resources. When they can no longer pretend they are ok in their own strength.

Why is it so hard for Christians to get to rock bottom?

I think it’s because people are born independent of God. Until the point of conversion to Christianity, a person has spent their entire life learning how to live for themselves.

When Jesus comes along He offers salvation through Himself, counsel through the Holy Spirit and a dependable, capable, loving Father.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t make it past the point of believing in God. They stumble at even really trusting God. And if they don’t trust God, then can’t don’t depend on Him for everything.

I was just reading in 2 Kings today about the Israelites. They knew God and worshiped God. However, they also worshiped idols and served other gods at the same time. They were the poster children (of God) for a lack of dependence. Instead of proceeding swiftly to their Promised Land, they paused and tarried for 40 years in the wilderness in defiant independence.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend 40 years of my life wandering. Nah, I’d rather get this dependence in Christ thing down now and be productive and fruitful.

In an attempt to tersify the point I’m making, too many Christians still live independent of God even though they are in a relationship with Him. It’s kind of like they turn to God and say, “I love You, kinda.”

Let me assure that it’s not a shame to be dependent on Christ. In truth, it is totally ok and biblical to rest and depend in Christ. I challenge you to the title of this blog: be dependent in Christ every day.

If Christians get to the point of depending on God, many do not make it past a few moments of dependence. And maybe minutes, hours or a few days of dependence. Sadly, however, after they make it through their current struggle/trouble/problem, they stop totally depending on God and go back to a life of self-dependence. Then, after the next problem causes their life to go into a downward spiral, they return back to God for more moments of dependence. It’s a cycle. And a non-biblical cycle, by the way.

“Wait,” you say to yourself, wondering. “You mean depending on God for a little while and then trying to do things on my own when I feel better isn’t ok?” Correct, thinking reader. Correct.

Jesus said in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” It doesn’t say, “Sometimes when you’re feeling extra super strong, you can do things.” It doesn’t say, “After you’ve depended on Me and rested with Me awhile you will have enough knowledge to be a success on your own.” No. It says we can do nothing apart from Him. So that means that we have to do all things with Him and in dependence on Him. And it also shows me that we can be desperate for God every day.

I think of it like this: It’s either nothingness without dependence in Christ or it’s fullness and abundance with dependence in Christ. I don’t want to have nothingness any day so I am desperate for God everyday. I am in dependence of God every day and I challenge you to do the same thing.

Make every day an in dependence day.

Seeds and Leads

I met Brooke Fraser last Thursday.  She is a wonderful woman of God.  She has a great voice too.  Brooke played a concert in Nashville and I was blessed enough to make her acquaintance.  I took tons of pictures but have not taken the time to put them on my computer yet.  Perhaps later…

The reason I got to meet her is because I wrote an article about her for CCMmagazine.com.   Because of that mass of words, I received free tickets to the show and an opportunity to meet her.  So, of course, I took it.

In case you aren’t familiar with her, please, read the article.  It’s got the basic gist of who she is and what she’s up to.  In short, Brooke Fraser is a solo artist with a massive career overseas who is trying to break into the U.S.  Additionally, she’s a member of Hillsong United, a music ministry movement of Hillsong Church in Australia.  She’s an amazing songwriter with an awesome voice and is definitely worth looking into!

Brooke has a song called “Seeds.”  It’s on her new CD “Albertine.”  That’s where the first half of this blog title came from.

The second half pertains to me and my ever-popular job search story.  I’ve got a few leads now through friends who work at particular companies.  I must say that it is way more encouraging to apply for jobs when I know that somebody already working there can help me out than it is to apply “cold” to jobs.

One of my leads is at my roommate’s aunt’s workplace.  She is supposed to talk to her friend in the HR department today.  At this point, I’m most excited about working there because of the earnings potential.  I’m not a money-monger, but I do have a godly desire to support my friends who are missionaries.  A few of them have contacted me recently asking me to support them and I’ve had to deny my assistance.  I didn’t enjoy doing that.  I also would love to try and bless my roommate financially.  She has helped me out so much since I moved here a year and a half ago.  From buying me lunch sometimes to paying a little extra on the grocery bill, she’s truly been a shining example of service to me.  I want to repay her for that…literally.   I am not sure if she’ll see this blog, but if she does, my thanks go to you, Shay.

I’ve started prayer walking on the local college campus.  I was sulking in my bed one day trying to sleep off my feelings when God spoke to me and said that I should go prayer walk on campus.  He’d planted that idea in me months ago but I had not yet done it.  However, last Saturday, I armed myself with scripture and went to pray.  Now, nearly a week later, I’ve gone there nearly every day praying scripture over the students, the faculty and the campus.

Let it be known that I didn’t receive any job leads until after I started prayer walking.  When God calls you to do something, it’s in your best interest to obey.  Because obedience brings rewards.

Listen, obey, receive.  It kind of reminds me of lather, rinse, repeat.  🙂

Idol Dreams

here i recline
listening to unreleased music
not acquired for media purposes
but from the cause of service

i sit without employment
of the job kind
but with the engagement
of God

a relationship highly regarded by many
and bitterly criticized by others
but i’m content with it

i deal with distractions
of addition and subtraction
to the core of what’s enough

faced with an epic battle of wits and will
i choose desire of Him
not an idol pursuit of an empty, self-formulated dream

Random Analogy

I thought of this analogy a few days ago.  It may not make sense or be fresh anymore, but I’m gonna type it out anyway.

The similarities of eggs, a relationship with God and life…

Sometimes life is hard
And our thoughts get a little scrambled
When we are deviled, we fall for things that are over easy
We occasionally get trapped in the poached snare of sin
Fortunately, God wraps us in an omelet of love
His yolk it is light on us
And we are never cracked beyond repair

Authentic Humility

I learned what humility is the other day.

Humility is properly placing your confidence in Christ.

So simple. But so illusive.

I grew up learning to humble myself. I prayed prayers asking God to humble me. Meanwhile, I stumbled, fell and got scraped up being falsely humble, prideful, self conscious and non-confident.

I tried so hard but I got it so wrong.

I thought being humble meant making myself lower than other people. So I thought myself worse than others. Anytime I felt a shred of self assurance, I chased it away because I thought I was being prideful. I thought true humility meant feeling bad about myself.

But that’s not it at all.

It just means properly placing my confidence in Christ. Not in me. Not in my friends. Not in my family. Not in my talents, time and treasures. But in Christ.

And, since I’m in Christ, I’m confident because I trust His provision, guidance and protection. I often don’t have much faith in myself, but I for certain have a ton of faith in God and what He can accomplish.

And, like a loving Father should, He reminds me that He accomplishes things through me so I should have faith in myself just because He’s involved in what’s going on in me and with me.

That, my readers, is excellent.

Curse the crisis

I believe that America has talked itself into a financial crisis.

If you watch or read any amount of news right now, it’s littered with opinions that we’re in a recession or we’re going into one.

I do not agree with those headlines.

I believe we’ve cursed ourselves into crisis. We keep talking about how bad the economy is and how bad things will get. We are speaking curses over our lives.

As a follower of Jesus, I’ve learned that God inhabits the praises of His people. I’ve also learned that we can prophesy things into our lives. We can speak in faith and expect God to work.

Satan is the thief of joy so he loves it when people speak negative things. Satan covets cursing.

People (except for a few) are not living by Kingdom principles. What are Kingdom principles? Well, living by Kingdom principles means living biblically. It means trusting God to be our provision. It means giving God 10% of the firstfruits our income. It means encouraging and uplifting each other. It means believing and living in faith and not failing and falling in fear.

I don’t walk around every day fearing that I’ll lose my job and end up homeless on the street. I do walk in confidence knowing that God is my provision, my shield, my refuge, my comfort, my strength.

Take a look around you. Most of what you’ll see is fear. God is not a God of fear. That means that an opposing force is at work. Satan flourishes in fear and prospers in panic.

I don’t believe we’re in a recession. We are, however, in an excession. A world in excess sin, idolatry, independence and negativity.

God loves to bless His people with prosperity…when they are obedient. Immediate obedience brings immediate rewards. As I walk in faith and obedience to Christ, I’m not afraid of all of these terrible things that the news proclaims. The world’s headlines are not my heartaches.

Care Actor Trait

I confess that many of my blogs grow from a clever idea for a title. Take this one for example. I was thinking about character traits one day. My mind moved on to the verses in the Bible that talk about being not only hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. It moved on further to reminding that I need to (and we need to) act in kindness and compassion to one another. Those actions need to define our lives.

All of this is taken from James 1:21-24.

21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (Emphasis mine.)

I’ll break it down.

Care: Several verses in the Bible talk about Jesus being overcome with compassion. The Messiah of the world cared a lot about those around Him. Think about it. He had to. He endured the worst suffering of all humanity. To me, that means He cares more than this mortal, limited mind understands. And because Jesus cares, I care. Why? Because the Bible instructs me to be Christ-like.

Care.

Actor: This word puts the movement into this whole concept. The verses above basically mean that we can’t just listen to the Word. We can’t just soak in biblical instruction because we’ll forget what we learned if we don’t act on it. We can’t just go to church and sit there half interested, cuz if we do we’ll live half lives. We can’t go through the motions in life, because if we do, life will be motionless. We need to be doers and be active. We must take what we hear and put it into practice.

Care Actor.

Trait: A distinguishing quality. Distinguished is an important word here. Biblically, we’re told not to conform to the patterns of this world. It’s easy to just do what the majority does and to follow the path that most have trudged to get where they got. Conformity is not distinguished. Not in the least. Conformity is actually boring, messy, disappointing and uninteresting. But distinguishment…that’s sophisticated. That’s endearing. That’s special. That’s unique. That is a term of identity. In this case, an identity in Christ. Nothin’ more distinguished than that.

Care Actor Trait.