Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dissing Discipleship

This article was written by a personal hero of mine in the faith. Jack Hayford is a man who has found incredible success and notoriety without losing his focus on what is important. I thought this was awesome and right on the money.

Dissing Discipleship
Jack Hayford

A contemporary “weigh in” on an ancient value.
First, knowing so many ministry-types serve Jesus' goals, I don't want to seem unduly critical of any in addressing a concern. If you're a dedicated servant-leader, I'm on your side! But I want to bluntly talk about the lessened "weight" being given today to Jesus' strategy for advancing His church. He said, "Go—make disciples!"—and this foundational call is increasingly being "dissed."
"Dissing"—the pop word for disrespect—is becoming normalized regarding discipleship. I don't think it's calculated, but it's occurring as "doing church" supplants "becoming the church." A dimming focus on plain, New Testament discipling is bringing us to the brink of evolving dumbed-down saints, a deceivable elect and a crippled Body emptied of ministry strength and unready to face persecution.
Without discipleship, we are at risk of garnering believers in Jesus while not growing stable, committed, empowered agents of Christ. Jesus spoke of people who "for joy" lay claim to faith, but who do not endure. They wither when trials or pressure comes (see Mark 4:5, 17)—and Christians are facing an increase of both in our world.
As leaders, we would well be warned of our common vulnerability to being distracted by the abundance of "enhancements" available to ministry today. "Make up" isn't evil, but it's no substitute for leading believers to "take up" the disciple's cross and be shaped as His true followers. We're within frightening reach of being able to grow bigger churches while failing to grow bigger people.
We are increasingly tooled and trained in technology and management techniques, better resourced with music and media effects, and better housed and staged for added consumer appeal. While not attacking these outsourced resources, I'm asking about our outcomes. Amid our heavyweight enterprises at refining style, we are growing weak in substance. In our version of the bride "trimming to be pretty," are we ending with lightweight believers?
Here are some oft-accepted habits that hint at our weakness. I'm damning none of them, but I'm asking, "What do they weigh?"
Special music and skills may assist our worshipping God, and real discipling indeed requires encountering Him. But if my guitarist is being given an 8-bar lick between verses, does the applause generated create an event rather than an encounter with God?
A 7-minute drama, carefully, cleverly prepared to reinforce the message of God's word can be heart-searching and hilarious. But if our skits become more for fun than for focus, are we simply "rolling in commercials" for an end product that isn't—or was never—in Jesus' mind?
Today's pastor-teacher lives in a world requiring more than a "speaker." It looks for "communicators." Has that mandate turned our focus away from our discipling task to our delivery style? In preaching, might I gain smiles with my cleverness while losing my grip on my sword, satisfying "itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3) while watering down "the apostle's doctrine" (Acts 2:42)?
What about my "charismatic" potential for breeding some people whose preoccupation with "prophetic words from the Lord" have drawn them away from a hunger to be fed the word of God? My "prophesying" may attract a following, but in the end, will they follow Jesus?
Let's focus on the real and lasting. This demanding hour calls for disciplers—leaders who won't be "diss-tanced" from the call.

Jack Hayford is the founder of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., chancellor of The King's College and Seminary and the president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. This orginally appeared in Ministry Today magazine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

True Friendship

Are you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good,
but never actually come close to reality?

Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of True Friendship.

You WON'T see cutesy little smiley faces
Just the stone cold truth of our
great friendship.

1. When you are sad,
I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!!!

2. When you are blue,I will try to dislodge
whatever is
choking you.

3. When you smile,
I will know you are
plotting something
that I must be
involved in.

4. When you're scared, we will high tail it out of here.

5. When you are worried,
I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse
it could be until you quit
whining, ya big baby!!!!
So suck it up and Deal with it!

6. When you are confused,
I will use
little words.

7. When you are sick,
Stay away from me
until you are
well again.
I don't want
whatever you have.

8. When you fall,
I'll pick you up and dust you
After I laugh
my butt off!!

9. This is my
I pledge it to the end.

'Why?' you may ask;
--because you are my FRIEND!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Points to ponder

A professor in a world-acclaimed medical school once posed this medical situation -- and ethical problem -- to his students: "Here's the family history: The father has syphilis. The mother has TB. They already have had four children. The first is blind. The second had died. The third is deaf. The fourth has TB. Now the mother is pregnant again, The parents come to you for advice. They are willing to have an abortion, if you decide they should. What do you say?"

The students gave various individual opinions, and then the professor asked them to break into small groups for "consultation." All of the groups came back to report that they would recommend abortion.

"Congratulations," the professor said, "You just took the life of Beethoven!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009