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Discipleship Key Article Lessons Ministry

Context

When Jesus reaches out, everything changes

Context shapes and even controls what happens; Jesus was a master with the powerful and loving use of context. No surprise, really. But we do have much to learn from him about what he did with context.

This is a very common and too often an unrecognized issue. So much so, that when you are having repeated difficulty with an issue, it’s a good idea to examine the context. Context seems to control or limit what is likely to happen in that context.

Jesus frequently told his disciples to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God. And in that context, to heal the sick and free the bound. Preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God (that is near or at hand) is a context that makes healing and freeing the bound much more easy. When people agree to be ministered to or healed, or to accept other kinds of ministry, a Learning Contract has been established.

Jesus always created what amounts to being a special kind of context for healing or for other ministry: a Learning Contract. An agreement to learn or do something that everyone agrees to implicitly or explicitly. Which creates a powerful context for successful ministry.

When Jesus came into a place, he changed the context. The atmosphere changed: he carried the Anointing and great compassion. Everyone noticed him. Such a context makes healing people and freeing the bound much easier.

You can learn to do this because you carry Jesus in you, and you are in Jesus Christ.

So practice being more and more aware of context, and good timing – which is part of a good context. Minister with greater ease and effectiveness, and celebrate the Life Jesus brings more often and even more joyously.

This is a great way to live!

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Discipleship Faith Friendship Getting Help Pain Purpose

Improve & Transform Terrible Memories

Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist - in pictures
Father and son observing Comet Pan-Starrs in Massachusetts

There is a straightforward way to transform terrible memories, which I just recently discovered and noticed through a Facebook friend, Henry Kanu, who lives in Sierra Leone.

This works so well for me because I already have experience with and belief in a particular promise of God: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good”, Romans 8:28a., ESV.

Henry Kanu and I were discussing and exploring this promise, when Holy Spirit prompted me to test this out and prove it to myself – even further.

So I thought of two memories that I considered terrible memories of things I had experienced. (My wife’s unexpected death and a painful childhood time.) Then I applied God’s promise to those two memories.

Remarkably, they no longer seemed like terrible memories; there were just precursors – things that happened first, before God tuned those experiences into good things – which I can now easily notice and appreciate. I am grateful for what has happened.

Applying God’s promise literally transformed the memories from being of things I felt were bad – into memories of how God made good out of those things. I literally remember and experience the blessings that God gave as a result of these experiences.

They no longer were terrible memories for me.

If you have enough experience &/or enough trust in this promise from Romans 8:28a, I believe this transformation can easily happen for you, too.

And if you need more experience with this promise, I recommend you do two things. First, meditate on God’s promise. Second, remember some specific things that are terrible memories, and notice how God turned these experiences into something good for you.

After doing this for a while, see how the promise may help you transform a memory of something that felt bad, and that you thought of as a terrible memory.

I believe you will notice as I have, a memory of something you thought of as being bad and that felt bad – can be transformed by applying God’s promise of Romanss 8:28a.

Oh – and it’s an excellent idea to give thanks for the improvement and transformation to Jesus. And to praise him for this. Which will have the side effect of nailing down the transformative experience of a bad memory into being the start of something good that God has done for you.

Thank you, Henry Kanu. And most of all, thank you, Jesus Christ!

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Conversation with God Discipleship Hearing God Joy

I am Learning to Hear God Better

I am learning to hear God better. Isn’t that a wonder – how such a thing can happen?

This can happen during all of our life, if we ask and if we pay attention. Ask. Pause. Listen. Look. Feel. Notice what appears in our minds, etc.

I also feel I am getting to know God better. You can, too! I expect that learning about God more deeply and better is something that goes on for eternity.

Our creator has made us with a capacity for learning. Which can lead to a lifetime and – an eternity of continuing progress through various lessons.

Just the idea of this fills me with wonder. How about you?

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Discipleship Getting Help Jesus's Communication Joy Kingdom of God Prayer

Weary? A Slightly Surprising Answer

Rest in Christ

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+11&version=NRSV

When you are weary, rest and relief is available. It may be a little different than expected, though; Jesus is often surprising.

I’ll get right to it, no fooling around and being careful and slow. Here it is: he will give us rest. Especially as we add to ourselves some of his qualities. Such as being gentle and humble of heart.

When we are learning from Jesus and allowing him to take our (heavy) yoke, not only is he stronger than we, he is also being gentle and humble of heart.

Which means we are not being proud, when we ask him like this. Not being proud, when we are being gentle and humble of heart.

I don’t know about you, but when I am weary and find rest, by hindsight is is easy for me to be clear: while I was weary I had been being proud. Carrying a heavy burden and being proud about it.

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Conversation with God Discipleship Hearing God Holy Spirit Joy Learning Ministry Miracles

Rest and Dream

Rest and dream. Be inspired. Like Jesus.

Artwork by Greg Olson

Pause. Just rest and watch the sky.

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Discipleship Getting Help Leadership Learning Ministry Prayer

Discipling like Jesus

Jesus had a pattern for making disciples. We can see some of it in Scriptures, and we can make educated guesses to fill in some details. How he taught was common to Hebrew teachers, rabbi’s, in those days.

I’ve spoken with seasoned disciple makers and missionaries who’ve done this, and they helped me get an even better practical picture.

First, as with everything, get guidance. Then pray. Pray with clear prayer targets – such as successful disciple making of disciples who make yet more disciples.

The basic pattern is simple: show, tell, and do. Probably even explain, show, discuss. Repeat until they are ready to do.

When you care, being a disciple is easy. (Good Friday by Anita Brown.)

The pattern is not classroom instruction, reading about or learning about things. It’s being shown, discussion before and after. It’s learning to do what you do. With an explanation. It is not learning about things. Theory isn’t nearly enough.

It might have worked something along these lines:

  • First, discuss what you will do, what they will see, especially so they know what to look for, what is significant.
  • Demonstrate in front of them, so they can see.
  • Third, discuss how it went. How it was as you’d hoped and expected, things that were different. Issues and complications, if any; and especially how it went well.
  • Let them ask questions as part of this discussion. Answer.
  • Maybe show them several times. Is often a good idea, especially with something new.
  • Send them out to go do as you did.
  • Have them report back to you. Let them ask questions. Make comments so they learn even more. (If they rejoice that even demons do as they command, give them the perspective that yes, this is good, and that it is even more important that their names are written in heaven – for instance.)
  • Send them out again.
  • Repeat this cycle until all are satisfied that good learning has taken place.

Disciple making is demonstration with explanation. Then they demonstrate, and ask questions, and you give additional perspective as is useful.

Disciple making is not a classroom activity. It is not talking about things. It’s being shown and then doing as shown. With explanations as is useful.

Additional notes:

  • Train disciples in how to make disciples. They will demonstrate. Disciples multiply by themselves, making disciples.
  • Disciples normally go out and minister in pairs. Ministry is normally in pairs. Always minister in pairs when you can. The more senior is making a disciple of the less experienced person. The less senior person assists and helps the more senior. This gives them something useful to do and provides practical help.
  • When ministering, when one talks, the other prays for the one ministering. Results are much better this way.
  • Grab someone out of a crowd who is watching, if you have no one else. Let them assist you and pray for you while you minister. Help them learn and discuss what happened. Not just ministering, always teaching.
  • A prayer support group is even more helpful. Set one up. If nothing else, find local people who are sympathetic and ask for their prayer support.
  • Prayer support is primarily for the minister, so they are more inspired and do well. They will do better. The people praying will pay more attention as they are invested, and they will learn more. Prayer is not primarily for the person being ministered to, as tempting as this may be. It could be helpful, but not nearly as helpful as praying for the person ministering.

Go, and make disciples. Make mistakes. Admit them and discuss them, so everyone can learn from them: we learn a lot through mistakes. Share the learning, and do not hold back such a wonderful opportunity. And of course celebrate what goes well!

This is the pattern that Jesus used. Go, and do the same.

And, there is a next step….

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Church Life Conversation with God Discipleship Joy Learning

The Discovery Cycle

Why does joy come so easily in the morning? Because it’s a fresh day, a fresh start. New discoveries are waiting to be made.

In Christian gatherings, new discoveries are made from time to time. New to the people who are present. Then the discoveries are explored.

This is a time of increasing attendance, with more people eager to learn what’s next. To explore and practice what is being learned about.

The Jesus Movement, re-discovery of Holy Spirit, practicing Spiritual Gifts, growing in the use and application of Spiritual Gifts. Prophecy that encourages and edifies and speaks with the passion of a full heart holding back nothing. There have been many more, and thee will be yet more, I promise.

Each individual can go through such cycles. Entire groups can experience such cycles together.

After a while, what was new to you becomes taken for granted – in a healthy way, it’s becoming a part of your life, now.

You may even become a bit bored. Try not to get stuck or bitter because learning is going so well and freshness is waning.

Not to worry. God has you covered. New discoveries are coming again.

The cycle is always refreshing itself, the cycle of discovery and learning goes on…for eternity!

You get to know who God is more and better. You get to learn your own identity more deeply and in new ways. You get to exercise and learn new gifts, grow more familiar gifts into greater maturity and skill.

Learning and discovery cycles go on…they come, and the newness seems to go. Another one is coming soon. I wonder what this one will be like?

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Blessings Multiply Church Life Discipleship Ministry Prayer

After Disciplemaking – What?

So now they (disciples) have transformed your Christian life through your learning to and the practice of making of disciples. So much changes when we do this. It’s exhilarating, joyous, fun and very, very encouraging. You learn a lot! You grow tremendously. This is a major step on your Christian journey, and this changes your life for the better. You are more rich for the rest of your life when you are making disciples.

What’s next?

  • Continuing to grow in applying Spiritual Gifts?
  • Continuing to grow in faith and applying faith?
  • Continuing to learn to get to know our Lord more?
  • Continuing growth in learning who you are in him?

Yes! All these are not only good, they interact with each other. There is synergistic growth – growth that multiplies and often grows exponentially. These are not only all good, they each provide what can be a wonderful pathway for a lifetime of growth on earth and into eternity.

And yes, there are other steps after Proclaiming the Good News that Jesus Taught. There is following the progression of things that Jesus taught and showed us so often and so wonderfully well, such as healing the sick & freeing the bound, (cleansing lepers and raising the dead), and the making of disciples of all people groups – all kinds of people. (See The Great Commission at Matthew 28.)

He showed this next step with the 12 and the 70, and more…and Paul showed step this every time he planted a local church.

What is this next step? Community and the expansion of Community. Why? Because it roots all Christian Community into the Trinity Community of Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Or at least resonates with these Persons. And we all crave community and grow best in community – even us introverts!

Without this next step, churches stagnate and grow smaller. Too many are closing. The lack of this is the major reason evangelization is too often too hard these days, and yields so little fruit with too much work.

Ecclesias! Ecclesias enforce the standards and method of the Kingdom of God and results in the rapid and healthy spread of Christian Community.

Ecclesias made of disciples who encourage, support and edify one another. Who socialize, share Communion, and who serve one another.

Ecclesias are the major driving element that results in New Testament speeds of making new Christians and planting new local churches.

What’s their first gigantic step in serving each other and in serving others, resulting in so much marketplace ministry that the Ecclesias reach so many and transform the people they touch through Jesus and born again into the Kingdom of God?

Prayer. Massive amounts of loving and faith filled prayer. Prayer for one another. Prayer for others they know about. Prayer for community people they network with and can so easily touch. People who need help and have needs. Oh, yes! People with needs who are thus prayer and ministry targets.

What are prayer and ministry targets? Prayer for and ministry to people and situations where you can see the wanted results as the Kingdom of God spreads.

Massive prayer precedes and results in people being sent. Sent to share the Gospel, to minister, to make new Christians, disciples, form Ecclesias that result in the planting of local churches.

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Discipleship Getting Help Intercession Prayer

Prayer & Ministry Targets

joshua-earle-9idqIGrLuTE-unsplash

What are prayer and ministry targets? Prayer for and ministry to people and situations where you can see the wanted results as the Kingdom of God spreads.

Answers to prayer with targets that you can see for yourself. Fruit of ministry that can you can see and and appreciate.

Too few people know this. It’s a sort of secret. More people should know: most prayer gets results, and quickly. With wonderful speed. Most ministry yields good fruit – with very good and rapid results.

Why do not more people know? Why are we ourselves so slow to recognize and see this? Well, for me, it’s anxiousness for wanted results. We focus so much on results we want and do not see that we focus less on our Lord. We focus on so much we do not notice how rapid the results usually are, because we’ve moved on to the next thing we do not have or do not see. And we focus on and remember our pain and disappointments more than on our joy and successes.

It’s sort of amazing that we have enough faith to get so much done. But we look at results so little because we focus on the next thing we do not yet experience or have.

In your Prayer Journal or elsewhere (I used index cards) note what you pray for and what you minister for – and note the results and date each of these. You will be as astounded as I was to discover that most prayer yields excellent results and most ministry bears good fruit. And you will delight at the speed. And you will wonder why this sometimes doesn’t happen – you will investigate and learn.

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Discipleship Jesus's Communication Learning

We Miss What Jesus Didn’t Say

In our culture, we notice things thing spoken. This is especially true of the more left-brained among us, the more verbally oriented.

We too often miss things that Jesus shows us but does not put into words.

We need what he speaks about, and we need what he shows us: we need both!

He tells people, not infrequently, that it was their faith that made them whole (healed them). Yet it was their faith touching his Anointing that resulted in the miracle; that’s when miracles often happen.

He shows us exorcism, but does not tell us it’s the same underlying process used in healing!

He tells us to heal when preaching The Good News of the Kingdom. He shows, but does not tell us it’s the same underlying process.

He tells us to free the bound, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and make disciples of all people groups. He shows, but does not tell us it’s the same underlying process.

I believe if the dead were unwilling to be raised, they would not be: it needs agreement.

Miracles involving people being healed or freed seem to require some agreement; it takes some decision.

Miracles involving things such as calming a storm – he commands. Yet we hear not of water being turned into wine – was it implicit? (He told his mother what to do – was that enough? The rest implicit? I wonder….)

He commanded a storm, commands material things & demons – neither of which have their own authority and are under his authority. Now our authority, too. I do not recall him explaining such differences. He showed us differences.

I can’t claim to know every example and that I can even explain every example. What I can tell you is this: watch what Jesus shows us and listen to what he tells us with words. You may learn something new and even something wonderful.