Watch Me

Photo by Jenny Erickson

In his latest (short) book, From The Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days, D.A. Carson shares a story from his youth on the necessity of one-to-one discipleship. I heard Dr. Carson share this story back in April and it’s stuck with me, so much so that I wanted to share it with you (which seems appropriate in light of yesterday’s post):

As a chemistry undergraduate at McGill University, with another chap I started a Bible study for unbelievers. That fellow was godly but very quiet and a bit withdrawn.

I had the mouth, I fear, so by default it fell on me to lead the study. The two of us did not want to be outnumbered, so initially we invited only three people, hoping that not more than two would come. Unfortunately, the first night all three showed up, so we were outnumbered from the beginning.

By week five we had sixteen people attending, and still only the initial two of us were Christians. I soon found myself out of my depth in trying to work through John’s Gospel with this nest of students. On many occasions the participants asked questions I had no idea how to answer.

But in the grace of God there was a graduate student on campus called Dave Ward. He had been converted quite spectacularly as a young man. He was, I suppose, what you might call a rough jewel. He was slapdash, in your face, with no tact and little polish, but he was aggressively evangelistic, powerful in his apologetics, and winningly bold. He allowed people like me to bring people to him every once in a while so that he could answer their questions. Get them there and Dave would sort them out!

So it was that one night I brought two from my Bible study down to Dave. He bulldozed his way around the room, as he always did. He gave us instant coffee then, turning to the first student, asked, ‘Why have you come?’ The student replied, ‘Well, you know, I think that university is a great time for finding out about different points of view, including different religions. So I’ve been reading some material on Buddhism, I’ve got a Hindu friend I want to question, and I should also study some Islam. When this Bible study started I thought I’d get to know a little more about Christianity—that’s why I’ve come.’

Dave looked at him for a few moments and then said, ‘Sorry, but I don’t have time for you.’ [Read more…]

Who Influences You?

Matt Chandler shares some of the story of his conversion and discusses some of the men who have shaped him:

There are certain people who have been a powerful influence on us, particularly in how we live out our faith.

I’ve spoken of some of them here before. My friends Adam & John have been major influences, particularly as we’ve been wrestling with theology together. Chris, a godly man who took me and a few other guys under his wing at a moment in my life when I desperately needed guidance and counsel. My Friday morning men’s group is increasingly becoming influential in my life as we try to work out .  

But what about you?

Who influences you?

Who has been an influence in the past and who continues to be to this day?

When Finishing Well isn't Finished Well

Photo by Jonathan Ruchti

 

A discussion that’s come up recently with some friends has been the idea of “finishing well.” 

When someone says, “I want to finish well,” I wonder how often they mean “I want to build a monument to my accomplishments”? This is probably because I’m naturally a bit pessimistic. 

I guess the question that’s been coming to mind is—is that really what we’re called to do? 

Do we want to “finish well” and try to protect our idea of what our legacy should be—and in the process see it crumble all around us? 

Do we hold so tightly to our ideas of what we think our place in history should be that we fail to see it slipping through our fingers? 

Do we spend so much time thinking of the perfect exit strategy that we don’t consider how we can prepare those coming after us? 

Is that what we want our legacy to be? 

Paul knew what it meant to finish well. He wrote to Timothy, 

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. . . . [A]lways be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim 4:1-2,5-8) 

Undeniably Paul speaks here of finishing well. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” he writes. He persevered until the end. 

But how do we know that he’s done all this? [Read more…]

How Can You Encourage Your Mentor?

I really appreciated Piper’s response to the question posed in this video.

As someone who’s greatly been blessed by the ministry of a much wiser man, I’ve found that some of the most fruitful times of ministry are when we’re able to invest in each other, which is really the heart of mentoring, isn’t it? Not simply give or take, but a mutual exchange.

Anyway, take a couple minutes, watch the video or read the transcript and give some thought to these question:  

Do you have a mentor? If so, how can you encourage him or her today?

The edited transcript follows.


As a young Christian I am often encouraged by an older mentor. I find it difficult to know how to encourage him, because I feel like the student. What are some ways I can encourage him in return?

The sin in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of him by saying good things about his mentoring. The righteousness in a mentor’s heart wants you to make much of God and Christ because of what the mentor has pointed you toward or modeled for you.

This second one will, in fact, encourage him that he has done something right, and that’s not a bad feeling. But it needs to be right for God’s sake and right for Christ’s sake, not just, “I really need complements here, I really need affirmation.”

So I would tell the person who is being mentored to describe in significant ways the Christ-exalting good that has been done in your life. Describe what you’re seeing about Christ. Describe experiences that you’re having in ministry and in life that show the spillover and the fruit from the mentoring relationship.

Don’t think you have to think of a list of good things about that mentor. What he’s living for—if he’s a godly man—is your change and God’s glory in your life. So talk about that! Talk about God and talk about ministry. That would be the main.

Secondly, I would say to pray for him, and ask him how you can pray. Mentors are not above the need for prayer.

And thirdly, be a really good thinker and listener. In other words, if he is pointing you to something—showing you something, explaining something to you—be there! Be there emotionally and be there with your mind. An attentive, eager student communicates, “I’m expecting something valuable here,” and that honors the mentor.

By John Piper. © Desiring God.

A Faith Worth Imitating

faith-imitating

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

 

Seven times—in 1 Cor. 4:16 & 11:1, Phil. 3:17, 2 Thess. 3:7, 1 Tim. 4:12, Titus 2:7 and 1 Pet. 5:3—we’re told to follow the example of others who are following Christ’s (imperfect as they may be).

It seems that the Holy Spirit was pretty emphatic on this point when inspiring the Scriptures.

The example of others is a critical part of our growth as Christians.

Of course, this also means that as we follow the example of others, we must be an example worth following.

I guess, then, the question for me becomes:

How am I doing with that?

Is my faith worth imitating? Am I an example that should be followed? [Read more…]

Book Review: Fight Clubs

fightclubscover1

All Christians everywhere are commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20), but some of us aren’t all that great at it. Some of us are great at sharing our faith, but no so good at sharing our lives. We have community groups and accountability partners—but sometimes our idea of accountability is little more than a check list of things to not do, or a mutual pity party where everyone confesses worldly sorrow, but fails to repent.

But we’re called to something much greater than that. We are called to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) as we go forth and make disciples. And Jonathan Dodson, in Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship, wants to remind us of that.

In this short work, Dodson states that it’s by focusing on the person of Jesus that true discipleship happens. “We become what we behold. If we behold the beauty of Christ, we become beautiful like Christ” (p. 15). This is one of the most profound statements in the book, because truly, we do become what we worship. And when we take our eyes off of Christ, we become something ugly. We are not disciples worth imitating, because we are imitating the wrong things.

In focusing on Christ, inevitably our attention is  fixed on what we’re called to—the Gospel, the Church and Mission. We are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, into community with fellow believers, on mission to make disciples of all the nations. We do not exist in a vacuum. We are, as Steve Timmis says, “not individuals, but individuals-in-community.”

So what do we need? We need Fight Clubs, says Dodson.

“Fight Clubs are small, simple groups of 2-3 who meet regularly to help one another beat the flesh and believe in the promises of God. Men meet with men and women meet with women in order effectively address gender specific issues head-on” (p. 44).

There are three simple rules for Fight Clubs (and no, one is not “Do not talk about Fight Club”). They are:

  1. Know Your Sin
  2. Fight Your Sin
  3. Trust Your Savior

In order to fight our sin, we have to know what our sin is: Is it vanity, lust, pride, anger? Once we’ve identified our sin, we then need to know why we’re prone to it. We need to “get to the sin beneath the sin” (p. 46). Once we know where to strike, we can begin to put our sin to death so that our joy may be complete in Christ. And by trusting in Christ, we can be assured of both the promise of eternal life and the strength of the Holy Spirit to fight and put our sin to death (cf. Rom. 8:13).

Fight Clubs offers a powerful appeal. Biblical community on mission to glorify Christ. This is something that many of us sorely lack in our lives, and the concept is one that I want to implement into my discipling relationships. It’s honestly too easy to slip into a routine of “just hanging out” and not talking about Jesus or getting into some sort of bizarre checklist/sin management type thing that really kills the spirit of the relationship. I would highly encourage you to download the e-book or purchase a hardcopy from Lulu.com, and be inspired to continue to fight the good fight.

Sunday Shorts (08/02)

Get Religion Saves—Free!

Mark @ Here I Blog is giving away a free copy of Mark Driscoll’s Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions.

To enter, all you need to do is comment and tell him why you’d like to win the book (and saying you like free books doesn’t count).

The drawing is August 8th, so enter today.

Free E-Book—Fight Clubs: Gospel Centered Discipleship

Jonathan Dodson‘s Fight Clubs: Gospel Centered Discipleship is now available as a free e-book from The Resurgence. Download a copy in PDF format or purchase a copy through Lulu.com.

UPDATE (08/04): Read my review of this book here.

Free Audiobook: The Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy is this month’s free audiobook of the month at ChristianAudio.com. Use the coupon code AUG2009 to get this book free.

Out of the Archives: Just Do Something

just do something“I feel like God wants me to be alone for a while.”

“I’m waiting for God to open a door to the right job.”

“If I choose this school, will I be going against God’s will for my life?”

We’ve all statements like these before. Whether it’s dating and marriage, the quest for the perfect job, what college to go to or where to buy a house, many Christians get hung up on the question of God’s will: Is it God’s will that I do XYZ? What is God’s will for my life and how can I know what it is? While it’s good to be concerned about living a life that glorifies God, sometimes we spend too much time navel-gazing when we really ought to just do something!

That, in a nutshell, is the point of Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something... Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Everyday Theology: “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words” Why our approach to evangelism needs to be more than good works.

Some Doubted If people stood before the resurrected Christ and still doubted, we need more than a good argument or a nice experience: We need the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

“Free Pass” Theology Some early thoughts on a difficult subject: Do babies and young children automatically get into Heaven?