Tag Archives: disciple

The Long Walk with Jesus

“I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 CEB


Not many of us think about what a decision we make today will look like in 20 years. And that may be a good thing. Some decisions just don’t warrant it. On the other hand, some do. When I gave my life to Jesus as a 14 year old punk kid, I had no idea what I was signing up for, except that any way was better than the way I was going. Jesus intersected my life and put me on a path that led me to where I am and who I am today.


Reading this passage from Philippians reminded me that being a Christian is a lifelong experience. And here, Paul reiterates Jesus’ parting words, “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:20)  I concluded last week’s post by saying, “We are not alone.” This week, I want to make the point that our Christian experience is a long walk with Jesus. The scenery will change. The climate will change. Our traveling companions will change. But, Jesus, he will remain. Let’s remain with him. Let’s go where he goes. Let’s be companions with those who come with him. We can find strength in his faithfulness as he continues his good work in us. 


I didn’t write this post out of resignation to the prospect of a lifelong commitment, but rather out of the joy of a renewed commitment based on the assurance of Jesus abiding presence in my life. I pray you catch my drift.


Grace and peace,



Being a Disciple, Part 4: Learning to Love, Jesus’ Way

This week I’ve been reflecting on the Greatest Commandments (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:27), which are commonly abbreviated to “love God and love others.” I will spare you the back story, but I found myself looking at it in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is what Jesus quotes as the first of the two Greatest Commandments, but in the verses that follow I noticed that this commandment is a living document. It is to be foremost in the hearts and minds of God’s people. In verse 8 it reads, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Orthodox Jewish people have taken this literally by tying leather boxes with small scrolls of scripture in them on their wrists and foreheads. I’m not speaking against that practice, but I see it in a metaphorical way. The way in which we see and interact with the world around us should be bound to the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. This I believe is wrapped up in Jesus second statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 


If our heart is to be disciples of Jesus, then this is the lesson that is always before us. When we are with him, he will teach us to love like this. It is the paradigm of our life. Jesus didn’t promise it would be easy, but he did promise he would be with us as we walk through it. He also gave us one another. We are not alone.


I pray you experience God’s grace as he leads you to love, Jesus’ way.


Grace and peace,



Being a Disciple, Part 3: The Pathway of Repentance

I know this is not the first, nor will it be the last time I mention repentance. It is integral in becoming and being a Christian. Likewise, it is essential in entering, abiding in, and advancing the kingdom of God. This week my view of repentance was redirected. Basically, I repented concerning my view of repentance.


I was listening to a sermon by Steve Schell, a Foursquare pastor in the Seattle area, and a friend and mentor or mine. In the midst of his talk, he mentioned repentance almost as an aside to the point he was making, but it stopped me in my tracks. He said, “Real repentance isn’t about the past. It’s about the future.” As he continued in his comments, he explained that forgiveness is not at issue with repentance, but a changed heart and mind pointed in Jesus’ direction, following him by the leading of the Spirit. 


If being a disciple is being a learner, then repentance is crucial to the learning process. Those who are “always right” seldom learn anything new. If we believe that our sin is atoned for by the cross of Christ and his resurrection, then forgiveness is already ours. We need to align ourselves with that truth and understand that repentance sets our future course in Jesus and his kingdom. With this in mind, I recall a passage we read in Philippians this week.


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT


May we be open to the redirecting of the Spirit and eager to learn at the feet of Jesus, so that as disciples of Jesus, we might glorify our Father in heaven.


Grace and peace,


Being a Disciple, Part 2: The Call and the Covenant

About seven years ago, I had an “Aha!” moment. My eyes were opened to the individualism that defines the American experience. I was taking a sociology class and one of the texts placed major countries or regions of the world on a scale of individualism. Not surprising, the United States was on the top of the list as the most individualistic nation in the world. With individualism comes independence. As Americans, we believe it’s all about me.


This got me thinking about how the gospel is communicated in the USA. It is a highly individualistic gospel. The gospel is about me, my salvation, and the benefits afforded me by being a Christian. Ever since that time, I’ve been on a pursuit to understand the gospel according to Jesus and the first apostles.


From my reading in Mark lately, I’ve seen a pattern. When Jesus preached the gospel he said, “the kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe this good news.” When he called his disciples he simply said, “Follow me.” When he called the apostles, Mark writes that they were to be with him, to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. What stands out to me with Jesus’ interaction with his followers is that they were to be focused on him, not themselves. This is part of what it means to be a disciple. A disciples life is not his/her own. As I wrote last week, “Disciple means learner. Jesus taught his disciples along the way of life. To be a disciple of Jesus meant to be in relationship with him and be in community with him and the other disciples. The disciple learned from the master, Jesus, and from the other disciples.” If we receive Jesus’ calling to be his disciple, we enter into a covenant with him and the community of disciples he as called. Like the apostles, we are to be with him, live a life of faithful testimony, and to make a difference in the world around us. When we ask, “What’s in it for me?” we begin to question our role as a disciple. This happened to Peter in Mark 10:28-30.


Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, ” I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life-houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment) -and in the coming age, eternal life.


In our following Jesus, may we find complete satisfaction in his care for us and embrace our responsibility to love him by loving one another.


Grace and peace,



Being a Disciple: The End of the Bridge and the Beginning of Life

This week, I would like to get back to square one with all this talk about bridges and such. Eight weeks ago, I sensed that this year would be a year of building bridges for the kingdom of God. With last week’s article, we talked about how Jesus and his cross are the only way into the kingdom. What, then, is the next step for those who have come across the bridge and are stepping off on the other side? Being a disciple. This is a role that never goes away for the Christian, but if it is not identified early on, the reason for being a Christian gets distorted or diffused the longer one is at it. (I believe that there are many “Christians” who are not disciples.) This is also true for those who have forgotten that this is what it means to be a Christian. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus sent the disciples out to make disciples.


I am purposefully not using the word “discipleship.” That term carries a lot of baggage that I don’t feel is helpful to this discussion. Disciple means learner. Jesus taught his disciples along the way of life. To be a disciple of Jesus meant to be in relationship with him and be in community with him and the other disciples. The disciple learned from the master, Jesus, and from the other disciples. In essence, this has not changed for over 2000 years. We still have one master, Jesus, and we have a community of disciples. The integral part in all of this is that disciples stay disciples. 


Here at VLC I think it is plain to see that Pastor Stuart and the other leaders try to keep the organizational structure pretty flat. Those who are identified as leaders (whether they recognize it or not) are simply disciples with experience and who are willing to encourage other disciples along the way. A leading disciple is always still a learner of the master, Jesus. 


My prayer is that we would discover or rediscover our role as disciples of Jesus, and that as we help others across the bridge into the kingdom they too would understand that role for themselves.


Grace and peace,