Missing the Point of Discipleship

“As you go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20

We know the great commission well but we don’t know discipleship. It struck me this week in a class setting when a few people showed disdain for material that was presenting face-to-face application of the gospel in the lives of friends. For them it was too prescriptive. And being generous I can see the point. But more so I think we wrestle with something like a script for telling people about Jesus over a meal because we never do it. We don’t know discipleship.

We think what Jesus means in his commission is to raise money so someone can go to far off lands or invite people to programs at the church so they can be discipled. Yet my experience is that very few people in the church actually disciple anyone. So at least anecodotaly we have missed the point.

Look at Jesus’ example first for a picture of discipleship. Giving others access to his life and teaching them along the way. To be a disciple of Jesus was to watch his life and ministry then talk about it. Eventually disciples would be sent to do the same things always coming back to Jesus to nurture the relationship.

In line with the parable of the talents, which is certainly about money but also so much more than that, we are not investing our time in multiplying the people around us we are called to steward when Jesus says “make disciples.” And friend you must know, your twitter followers are not disciples. Face-to-face, life-on-life discipleship is what we were meant for.

This is among the key transformations that must happen in the church if we are to experience revival in our day and on the local, my church, level it a key goal for the year in my mind. Beginning with the elders and other leaders in the church, honestly assessing if we are discipling people and prayerfully expecting that example to stir others to the same.

When the grace of Jesus wrecks you and frees you to life, we can’t help but share it and walk out this truth with others.

Shall we be about it?

A Hawkish Shepherding Metaphor

This morning I was reflecting on what a good time of prayer and Bible reading I had. It shaped my mood and freed me to love my kids well as we prepared for the day.

Then, as I made lunches for the little ones, a hawk lands on our patio outside the kitchen window with a Eurasian Ringed Dove in its talons.

You expect our hawks to be after vermin, the mice and rats going from the fields to the fruit trees. But here a hawk decided on a heartier meal for the morning. Perhaps the dove was hunted because it was sick and already weak, already vulnerable to attack.

I made eye contact with the hawk (its a thing) as I yelled through the window for it go away, essentially saying “not today hawk! Not it my yard!” Quickly then I ran outside and came upon not only the hawk but two crows vying for the dove. They fled at my presence and the dove shook off the attack and flew ten feet to our fence. There he rested but we noticed that blood was dripping on the fence and ground. He was wounded and losing a lot of blood for a small bird.

Now I know this won’t land me any invites to hunting trips but you have to know that I prayed for the bird, very specifically that Jesus would stop the bleeding. I attempted my best Dr. Doolittle voice and told the dove he was welcome to stay and rest as long as he needed.

He stayed on that fence for well over thirty minutes… as the hawk stayed in a nearby tree waiting… hoping for another chance at the prize. Our family left for school out of the front door as to not disturb the dove and we prayed and hoped for the best.

When I returned from walking to school the dove was gone from the fence but the evidence of the ordeal remained. I think he was on the power line across the street, hopefully gaining strength. He will still die, someday. But not in my yard, under my “care.”

Thinking of this wild experience I can’t help but think of shepherding in the church. The call to protect one another and specifically how the elders of the church are to keep watch for the hawks and protect the doves. Or wolves and sheep if you prefer.

The key is that we don’t befriend the hawks but get in their way. We stay close enough to the doves that we can proclaim truth where lies fester. Where we can minister with our presence and time. Where we can pray for healing and care for them. Blood may be drawn but we are stubborn to say that no one will die in our yard.

Of course our strength for this work, for the call of shepherding comes from outside of us. Because the good shepherd witnessed the hawk of darkness with talons deep in his prey. But instead of shooing him away to wait for another kill, our shepherd, Jesus gave himself in the place of the doves, in our place. The hawk drove his talons deep, blood was drawn and poured out to death. But that death is a victory. Because the hawk is forever defeated. His talons no longer have power over the flock of Christ.

So on we go, looking out, protecting, restoring and caring for those we are called to in the name and power of Jesus.

Find yourself these kind of shepherds. Join this kind of flock.

Politics in Exile

Today I am giving a little talk on politics in exile, how Christians engage in such a way that our witness is unhindered. It is not a complete survey of our posture and it won’t make anyone too uncomfortable or gleeful! You can read it here.

Otherwise I thought I would share a few things that have been helpful in forming my thinking that you might find helpful as well.


I point to it a lot but This Cultural Moment is a podcast with valuable, rich content on the underlying realities in our Western culture. Mark Sayers, and Australian pastor and author, has brilliant insights. John Mark Comer interviews him in most of the episodes and each will help you think through how our worldviews are being formed and lived from. Check it out here.


A book that I found extremely helpful recently in shaping the way we engage is from Scott Sauls. Jesus Outside the Line: a way forward for those tired of taking sides. This is centering for Christians and guides us rightly. Check it out.


Justin Taylor highlighted the work of Georgetown professor Paul D. Miller, specifically his white paper for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Council. Faith and Healthy Democracy gives some great clues for civility in public discourse and political engagement. Where I gave three steps in my talk Miller gives individuals a number and churches six key ways to participate without losing our ability to share the gospel. Read it here.


Lastly, I have to go way back to a time I read The Courage of a Conservative by James Watt and The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Wellstone one after the other and thought through them asking what Jesus would have to say.

I choose Watt’s book over the famous Conscience of a Conservative by Goldwater because Watt represented values voters.

The books are very old now and my reading of them was close to 20 years ago. But I think they give some great insight to safer times to be part of the American political landscape and might draw us toward something similar today.


Go forth and be Christian in how you engage!

Exhausted on Purpose

I don’t think I have interacted recently with anyone that expresses that they are rested up. Everyone, friends, family, neighbors, all talk of how tired they are, how exhausting life is.

Right? This is our experience, everyone we know and we ourselves are beat down. Now it might be a huge indication that something is off. We are taking in too much or stress has our system wrecked. Children are demanding too much energy, there is never enough juice to match the hours we have to be “on.”

We think diet might help, exercise will do something, or maybe a binge of Netflix and a bottle of wine. But usually we end up in the same place. Exhausted. It certainly might be an indicator of needed change in our lifestyle or circumstance and I think we should pursue that.

But what if you are a Christian? What is exhaustion doing in us, those that claim faith in Christ?

I submit that exhaustion is positioning us to be desperate for something beyond physical energy or a new routine. Exhaustion is leading us to recognize our need for the very presence and power of God himself.

In Christ there is the promise and provision of power that is meant to deal a deathblow to our exhaustion – seriously. Think of Jesus’ words before ascending to heaven after the resurrection. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Energy for the mission of life, all of life. Witnessing of Jesus.

Then Paul gives us a picture of our lives, and not just the churchy mission type life but all of it in Christ, Paul said he toiled preaching Christ, “struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29) That is not just for an apostle long ago, that’s for you.

Believer, your exhaustion is bringing you to the need for the Spirit to work in you, to free you, to empower you, to enliven you. Run to him, ask, cry out for strength. For the presence of God in your life. That you would work with all of his energy powerfully working in you.

May it be so.