At the time – yes. It connected me with something bigger. It connected me with something eternal. It connected me with …
“It” – you use the word “it”. Is that all this is?
Is that all I am – “it”?
At the time no – but since … yes.”
What is a disciple?
I was taught that once I was saved I could be many things one of which was to be a disciple.
I was taught that I was a follower, a replicator, an evangelist (in the true sense of the word), someone in touch with their unique spiritual gifts … an apprentice mini-me Jesus. Never to attain the perfection of the real thing – but on a lifelong journey to come as close as I could. It all sounded so terribly complicated, so much like work, so much like a group activity – a community of disciples all …
And now you are you and I am me – and I Am describes it all – and Love IS the greatest of all – and this is all so simple – if I allow.
I am no different. Just free to be me without all the self-imposed fitting-in-constraints of both culture AND religion.
And what of the future and getting to heaven?
What of it?”
And now I find it less about community and more about one day at a time – one moment at a time – one now merging with forever – merging this world with something bigger – merging me with all – about (perhaps) heaven … right now … right here … no complication required … no work required …
“And what about life after being saved?
No different than anything else. Being saved becomes another it.
This wonderful community – this Church Set Free blogging community – this online church community I belong to has given me a sense of true fellowship. A few of us Skype every other week to stay in touch, to share our weeks, to talk about our relationship with our Lord, and to look into each others’ eyes. We laugh, we learn, and simply through seeing the facing there, we encourage each other, uplift each other for the next several days.
Two members of our community have extended an invitation – quoted directly below – and I earnestly hope you will accept. Please reply to either Paul or Don, as they have extended the invitation. I have already accepted. I hope to see you there!
Blogging brought me a bunch of wonderful people. Blogging also extended my comfort zones hugely! Blogging has changed me. Because God makes no distinction, that I can see, where we gather in His name.
Church is still often “the building”, and “the services”, and “the congregation”, and the turning up and signing-in. Nothing wrong with that…
Where does “God and you” transport to other relationships, other communities, other formats and settings?
Blogging, for me, became community became Skype fellowship. First one other blogger, then another, then a local minister, then some more bloggers. The odd thing I have found in all cases is this:
When I have known someone first through their blog (and they mine) – I know I can trust them – I know I feel safe with them. I know we have something really important in common – something that will transcend appearance, tone of voice, accent, way of speaking – all that “stuff”
What do you get? A lot of love with others from across the world. In a group where denomination doesn’t even register. Where personal preferences only get in the way if you let them (and that is true wherever and however you share with others). But where the “payback” is truly massive! Where the focus is on God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and relationship – real relationship – safe relationship.
In his great post of earlier today, paulfg (Just Me Being Curious) commented on something I posted recently here on The Life Project, an idea that I’ve been kicking around to increase the level of community among Christian bloggers.
In the original post, I mentioned putting together a group of bloggers via Skype as a fellowship or accountability group or a small group study… or all of the above. Before I ended the post, I threw out an idea that came to me as I wrote: Anybody interests in a small study of Mark? And Susan Irene Fox spoke up with a “Yes” reply.
In Paul’s post today, two others quickly said yes to being in a group conversation, and after seeing that, I thought it was time to send out a little invitation:
Hey everyone, do any of you Skype?
Would any of you be interested in becoming part of a small group on Skype, periodically for fellowship, conversation, Bible study, or…? (Suggestions very welcome).
Please consider yourself invited!
Let me know, by leaving a comment and please let me know your time zone.
By the way, if you have never used Skype before, it is free, it is easy and all you need is a computer, internet connection, and an inexpensive web cam and microphone (mine together cost about $25 total.) I really hope to hear from you!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
For the very first time, you feel an immense relief. Your burden is lifted. You feel embraced by the love of the Father. You feel the total acceptance of Jesus. You are ready to let down those old barriers and give yourself completely to The One who invited you into His family. You think you can hear the Holy Spirit leading you in truth and love…but then you begin to hear other voices.
If you feel like you are surrounded by a forest of conditions and laws and rules and you need a machete to clear the way to the Father’s heart,
If you seem to hear noisy, clanging cymbals that don’t sound like love but sound like accusations – you know, accusations like:
If you don’t go to church you’re not a Christian;
If you vote that way, you’re not a Christian;
If you do yoga you’re in partnership with the devil;
You’re just a new believer so you don’t know how we do things;
Please recognize we’re all trying to do our best. And sometimes we make big mistakes.
Sometimes we treat you as a number, a filled seat in our church.
Sometimes we consider you converted and assume you believe the way we do because you attend our church.
Sometimes we attempt to indoctrinate you into our convictions because we’ve been raised into a theology or worldview from birth, certain it’s the correct and only one and passionately want to save you from incorrect beliefs.
Sometimes, we’re so busy proclaiming our own views, we alienate the very people Jesus wants us to save.
We forget to introduce you to the heart of God, to teach you to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit so you are able to hear the unique way He speaks to you.
It is a huge responsibility, to share His love, to invite and train in discipleship – a huge distinction from making converts. I think we sometimes shirk the great responsibility Jesus left to us by doing the latter, which requires no relationship, no grace, no pouring out of God’s love.
The former is a commitment, coming from the power of the Spirit; it produces fruit which lasts and reproduces itself out of His love and grace. It forms relationship and brings someone into the family of the Jesus. It’s a joining of hands and heart in the Father’s embrace.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) This word, make disciples, mathēteusate, means to teach or to be trained as a disciple.
God’s love is radical. His grace is provocative and socially unacceptable. It is not for the faint of heart, but for those courageous enough to pick up this cross and follow Jesus.
Your Relationship with God is Sacred
What matters is your relationship with the Father, your conversation with the Holy Spirit, your willingness to receive and give away the love and grace of Jesus.
What matters is you refining your unique journey with God because He speaks to each of us the way He created us to listen. And rest assured you responded to His invitation at the exact right time for you. He alone knew when you were ready to take His hand and walk with Him. Continue to trust His love, His guidance and His embrace.
What to Read
Before you read any theological books or current books that profess to sway you one way or another; before you read a version of the Bible someone recommends but you can’t understand, get yourself an easy-to-read study Bible. One that has lots of commentary notes and a good index (concordance).
Instead of attempting to follow a 365-day Bible reading program, read the apostle John’s Gospel and in particular the words of Jesus. Highlight them if your chosen Bible doesn’t print them in red. Also read John’s first letter (1 John), his sermon on the Gospel of love. Read it slowly, like dessert.
After that, read the other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke)along with their introductions, again paying particular attention to the words of Jesus. They write about many of the same events but from their own perspective.
Don’t be afraid to make notes in the margins or underline certain passage. Write question marks, and begin to look at the Scripture references in the inside margins. They refer to other places in your Bible where the same things are being said.
When you’ve finished, you should have a pretty clear idea of what Jesus considered important.
After that, take a look at this list ofresources, then ask trusted friends for one or two books to read.
Above all, don’t lose hope. Don’t lose your own connection to God.
Talk with Him every day. And be sure to take time to listen.