Self-care. Me time. Mindfulness.
Principles and practices, certainly in Western culture, that are elevated high above our fast-paced blur right now. And at its core, self-care is obviously good. Clearly the scriptures call us to look after ourselves, to carve out rest, to run our own race. Yet, like many of these principles they can become diluted and then largely hedonistic when the world takes them on. I would argue that self-care is currently wearing worldly (ill-fitting) pants.
So how do we negotiate this space? I think a semantic shift can be aligning for us as disciples.
In recent times I have shifted to thinking of self-care as soul-care. The state of my soul – that is, my being, my essence, the beautiful combination of my emotions and spirit – this is the landscape that requires care, attention and focus.
And yet this process is not cookie-cutter nor scientific. Our soul is at home in art, and art lives in expression, emotion, risk, colour and creativity. Art breathes in paradox and nuance. Art shimmies up beside vulnerability and makes friends with it. Art is messy and beautiful.
So caring for our soul means a willingness to roll up our beige sleeves and get down to a gritty but creative business.
1. Engagement, not escapism.
Shouted from the worldly rooftops is the claim that self-care requires a moving away, an escaping to an island, a café, a bathtub, a cave of Netflix, a vortex of social media. That, to truly regroup, we must escape.
The art of soul-care, however, modelled time and again with our Jesus and superbly encapsulated by David in Psalms 23, is a that our soul is best cared for, nurtured and restored when we are engaged with the Good Shepherd.
2. Slow, sacred Sabbath.
I have been on a glorious journey of redefining the Sabbath in my life. Father God models this to us in Genesis 1-2. After six days of strategic, deliberate, purposeful, masterful creation he takes a day off – surely he wasn’t tired, right? And yet he took a definable time to exhale, to delight in his creation, to not work.
What is especially profound about this is the Sabbath here is described as holy (Genesis 2:3) – the only aspect of creative activity that is. Carving out a weekly designated space is essential for the care of our soul – a day where we are slower; a day where we feast and play and dream and rest and delight. To Sabbath is a truly sacred, and in fact holy, practise.
3. Regular rhythms.
The life of discipleship was never a call to balance, but a call to rhythm. The Message version of Matthew 11:28 remains one of my soul-care favourites – here Jesus says “walk with me, work with me, learn how I do it; learn the unforced rhythms of grace”.
Grace has a rhythm; discipleship has a rhythm; soul-care has a rhythm. That is, it ebbs and flows; it has valleys and peaks; light and shade, fullness and quietness; grace and grit. Jesus lived in rhythms and modelled these to his disciples, and then calls us to the same story.
4. Energy tanks.
Our time is static, but our energy isn’t. We can create and replenish our energy tanks by being deliberate and experimental in terms of understanding what fills and depletes our four internal reservoirs – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. We may even find one activity that replenishes all four tanks simultaneously and this is like a targeted soul downpour from a heavenly rain cloud.
Like most of the human experience, soul care requires a good dose of art and dust and beauty, yet a great measure of strategy and form and structure.
Let’s continue to spend our days watching and learning from the master Jesus at work (and rest) guided by the soul-filling, soul-anchoring, soul-aligning Holy Spirit.
I hope you have heard the message, ‘Return of the Shepherd,’ by the articulate Leanne Matthesius. The title has a Tolkien resonance to it, does it not?
Leanne has superb insight into, amongst other things, the value and glory of the task of caring for God’s flock, which, if we want to get Pauline about it, is largely what we are asked to do. “Pay careful attention … to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28. The precious possession of the Lord’s church demands the care of attentive shepherds.
This got me thinking about the role of a shepherd and how vastly different it is from the other ascension gifts enumerated in Ephesians 4. We aren’t completely sure if Paul was referring to four or five roles/gifts. It would seem to be four as the pastor is also, necessarily, the feeder – the teacher. It is difficult to be or do one without the other.
But it wasn’t this that piqued my attention.
I spoke at an Evangelists gathering – yes, you heard right – and addressed the topic of the pastor and the evangelist, how they relate and how they can co-operate. As an aside to the conversation it struck me that, apart from the pastor, the ascension gifts by and large (and remember when reading this, you have to exaggerate differences sometimes to see the difference) are reasonably straight forward, almost black and white.
The apostle is a ground breaker, requiring resilience and focus. They normally don’t deal with the tangle of lives.
The prophet is a proclaimer, a revealer, and they are often black and white – in the sense that a picture, a word, is relatively clear and always a simplification.
The evangelist is a bringer of good news. The cross, forgiveness, faith are straightforward enough. Of all these the evangelist is probably the most black and white – they need to be.
The teacher speaks of truth, application to lifestyle, and is often systematic in presentation.
But the pastor, ohh yes the pastor, deals with the inconvenience of nuance, the complication of lives, the tangle of relationships, of humanity – messy, complex and sheep like. To pastor you have to reconcile yourself to nuance. Things are always less straight forward in the sheep pen.
I suggest pastoring may be the most difficult, the most awkward of the ministries, because nothing is so complex as people.
The other equally important gifts can avoid the tangle a little more easily, especially if they travel.
For the pastor the nuance of situations, that never seem to quite conform to biblical verities, has to be constantly navigated. Almost every situation requires a different approach. The sermon on Sunday has to be massaged into mess, bad decisions and self-orientation.
If you are a pastor, you necessarily will have to trade in nuance. If you can’t you are in the wrong job.
Go the pastors – you are the real heroes.
Balance… that silly little word we throw around in ministry and in life, yet we never really achieve it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that “all things are possible with God,” yet I don’t know if He ever asks us to live a “balanced” life? Thou shalt live a balanced life (insert sarcastic religious voice), is not the 11th commandment. Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly and He wants us to prosper in all things, in every area of our lives!
Balance by sheer definition would make us believe we need to give equal parts of ourselves to every part of our lives in order to be steady and successful. Yet I’m not convinced every part of our lives needs to have an even distribution of our time and energy in order to be full of life, to be prospering, and to be healthy.
I think we need to throw the notion of “balance” out the window, as well as the guilt that comes along with it!
I believe the right question is, is my marriage healthy? Is my family healthy? Is my ministry healthy? Because healthy things grow, healthy things flourish, healthy things prosper and that is what our Heavenly Father wants for us. And, if one of those areas is not flourishing, then could it be that we have neglected an area that needs to be nurtured?
In life, in ministry, in marriage and family, there will be constant ebbs and flows. In one season, ministry may be demanding the majority of your time, and that’s ok! And in another season, your children may require the majority of your time, and that’s ok too!
However, I think we need to be able to recognize when one area of our life has taken priority over the others and then intentionally create a season where the neglected areas can be nurtured again.
I know my husband Jon and I have had to be very intentional when it comes to the health of our marriage, our family and our ministry. Knowing the ins and outs of our ministry lives, our family nights and family vacations are absolutely non-negotiable. So are vacations for just Jon and I (because we all know family trips are amazing, but not necessarily a “vacation”… and all the parents said amen!)
Jon and I look at our calendar every year and anticipate busy seasons in ministry, and we purposefully plan our getaways or days off after those busy seasons so that we can reconnect, refresh, and nurture our relationships with our children and with each other. This has created such strength and health in our marriage and with our kids, not to mention amazing memories! And a beautiful bi-product is that we are happier, healthier leaders and pastors to those who God has entrusted to us!
I believe it’s so important as leaders and pastors to model what hard work and commitment looks like, but equally as important to model what it looks like to rest, to be refreshed, and to keep a sabbath.
Because, people who aren’t rested tend to make silly decisions, and people who only rest don’t accomplish anything. So let’s be smart. Let’s be healthy. Let’s give it our all whether we are resting or working. And, let’s remember to continually re-evaluate our season of life and nurture those things which may have been neglected, back into a place of strength and health. Amen!
There aren’t an incredibly long list of kings ruling today, and if they are a king (or queen), they are mainly figureheads with constitutional power, but not absolute power. Belgium, Kuwait, Spain, Thailand, Tonga, are just a few nations with modern-day kings. The only three I could find with absolute power rule in Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Oman.
Kings in the older systems (and today as well) were there to take care of the people. They were there to make sure that there was a system in place that could provide for and protect their people in good times and bad. Bad times were often times of famine and war, and those kinds of bad times could topple a king, as he was seen as ineffective.
There were definitely good kings throughout history – kings who had absolute power and made life better for their people:
- Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire.
- James I of England.
- John III of Poland-Lithuania.
- Meiji of Japan.
- Gustav II Adolf of Sweden.
- Augustus of Rome.
- Cyrus II of Persia.
- Frederick II of Prussia.
But if you’re like me, it can seem like so many kings had a bad rep.
If you look at the Old Testament there were 33 kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord, and only 5 good kings. That should tell us something:
Absolute power has the power to corrupt absolutely.
David is considered the best king Israel ever had, a man after God’s own heart. But he was an incredibly flawed person, and even he did something profoundly corrupt by essentially having Bathsheba’s first husband, Uriah, murdered.
So, let’s take a look at several of Israel’s kings.
God’s People Request A King
It is believed that the Israelites came out of Egypt in the 13th century BCE. The Israelite’s were unique compared with other peoples at the time. They followed God as their leader, not a king. But after living for several centuries with judges and priests to rule over them, they wanted a king.
But this was not what God wanted for them. God had led the people through Moses and Aaron, and then through priests and judges raised up to govern the people.
Their request for a king was a rejection of God’s way of leadership over them.
The priest Samuel was a leading light for them, and they trusted him. But they didn’t have a lot of love for his children who they said did not follow his ways. In Samuel’s time, the people began to worry about who the next leader would be.
The Israelites wanted a king in order to be like all the other nations, but God had created Israel as a unique people. He was their leader.
When the Israelites wanted a king like other nations had, they were rejecting their unique, set-apart position as God’s people.
Israel, whose God was to be the only God, was envious of the nations who followed false gods. But they insisted. So, they chose Saul.
Saul’s Strong Start
Saul was born circa 1076 BCE in the land of Benjamin in Israel. He became the first King of Israel circa 1046 BCE where he united tribes and defeated enemies such as the Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, and Amalekites.
While some people didn’t love the choice at first, he won a decisive battle against the Ammonites as one of his first kingly moves, and his first act was to forbid retribution against those who had previously contested his kingship. A very kingly move indeed.
Fast forward to the battle with the Philistines and Goliath, the giant. The mighty king is confounded by his enemy until a young shepherd boy comes along, using his wit – and God’s great plan – to bring down a giant and set himself up to be king of the land.
David. Of all the kings of Israel, David is the one after God’s own heart. What does that mean? Let’s look at the Psalms*:
- Humble – Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Psalm 62:9
- Reverent – I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:3
- Respectful – Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. Psalm 31:9
- Trusting – The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
- Loving – I love you, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1
- Devoted – You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7
- Recognition – I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1
- Faithful – Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6
- Obedient – Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:34
- Repentant – For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11
*Ten Reasons David is Called “A Man After God’s Own Heart” – Ron Edmondson
He was repentant, but he was flawed. His rein ended in a mess, with his own son coming against him.
The Rise And Fall Of Solomon
Solomon, the son of David’s infidelity, asked for wisdom. Although he received it (Proverbs is an exceptional book), he ended up bringing the whole country into idolatry through his many foreign wives.
Even the best king in the Bible wasn’t a truly good king. He wanted to be one, but you could say: “He was only human.”
The Messiah: The Promised Deliverer
No, we had to wait one thousand years until a small boy was born in a humble stable, in very unusual circumstances, in the backwater of the Roman empire – Judea.
This man would become king. But not in the way one might expect. And that was unfortunate for those who had been waiting. Because, sadly, some of them missed it. Missed Him.
All through its long, troubled history, the people of Israel, stubborn as they were, had been waiting for someone to come and save them. You got to give them credit, they toughed it out, year-on-year. Waiting and believing. Hanging together, holding to their beliefs and traditions while mightier kingdoms fell around them into dust and forgetfulness. A sturdy people, believing that the God of the universe would save them one day. He would come and rescue them from all the meanness of life, the cruelty and savagery.
And then along comes Jesus, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the one who holds all the universe together… and he blows all their stereotypes to bits.
He eats with sinners, he breaks the sabbath, he chats with the ladies, he washes his friend’s feet. He was the opposite of a religious person. He wasn’t doing it to thumb his nose at religion or authority – he came with all authority. He was showing us a better way. The way of love.
If most earthly kings lead from a place of brokenness, allowing their fears and insecurities to drive them, Jesus leads from a place of supreme authority and love. He came to save, not to destroy.
He came to SERVE and his currency – his power – is love.
This is the true good king. And this is the One we serve, the One in whom we have placed all our hope. God always wanted to be our King, and in Jesus his Kingship was re-established.
What king do you want?
So, in light of the frailty of men and women – which one of us can say we are above the sin that lies at the heart of man? Sure, most of us are pretty nice people, but we are all given to sin.
So what king do you want? A king that might be able to provide a good quality of life? Or, a king that can save your life – forever. One, that if you choose Him as king of your life will never leave you or forsake you. A king that came to serve, not lord it over you and crush you.
This is the King I serve, and this is the King I want. Jesus is King of my life. And I would submit that He is the best King we could ever hope for.
Colossians 1: 15-22 says:
“He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the firstborn heir of all creation. For in him was created the universe of things, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that s unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it all exists through him and for his purpose! He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him. He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ. And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again! Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored.”
I love my kids, and of all the things that my wife Katie and I hope for them, I want them to know Jesus personally and to live out the Bible in their daily lives. However, I know the uncertainty or even insecurities that can rise up when we think about discipling our kids.
A few years ago I released a book called Following Jesus. So far, it has been translated into a few languages and used in churches to disciple adults and teenagers, but now I’m in the process of writing the kids version and I’m getting so excited about the potential impact. So, I wanted to talk out some of these concepts as I go.
Often our biggest fear in discipleship is not having all the answers. But at first, discipling your child is more about living it than saying it. You learn how to bring your relationship with Jesus into every part of your lives.
Look how Moses describes this process in Deuteronomy.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Yes, there are some specific ways that we can be intentional with teaching our children God’s word, but initially we can focus more on bringing Jesus into our daily lives like we see in the verses above.
Showing and teaching our children about Jesus is more natural than you realize. You don’t have to have all the answers to your kids’ wild questions! Primarily focus on sharing with them what you do know and why you follow Jesus.
Here are 7 Key Biblical Principles To Teach Your Kids:
1. Their Father in Heaven perfectly created them, loves them and wants to talk with them!
- Genesis 1 – The Creation Story.
- Psalm 139:13-18 – God’s hand created each of us.
2. God gave us to free will to choose to follow him, or go our own way and sin.
- That sin caused us to be separated from God.
- Romans 6:23 – The cost of sin was death.
- The price for our sin had to be paid to rescue us back from the enemy.
- 1 Peter 1:18-21 – We are redeemed by the perfect Lamb (Jesus).
3. Jesus came to earth to bring us close to God again through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
- John 3:16 – God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to rescue us.
- Ephesians 2:12-14 – We were brought close to God by the blood of Jesus.
4. Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit to empower all those who Follow Jesus!
- Acts 1:4,5,8 – Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit.
5. God also gave us the Bible, which is the Word of God. The Bible teaches, corrects us and guides us.
- Psalm 119:105 – The Bible guides our lives.
6. God has a good purpose and plan for us while we’re on earth.
- Matthew 6:33 – Seek God’s purpose first.
- Much of our purpose is found as we connect with the community of other believers called ‘The Church.’ Jesus has given the church the mission to tell the whole world about Jesus.
- Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and make disciples!
7. After this life, those who follow Jesus will spend eternity in heaven with God.
- John 14:1-6 – Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for us.
Think about these key themes in the Bible, what they mean to you, and then begin to bring them up and remind your kids of these truths. These key themes and many more will help your child build an unshakable foundation to build their life on!
Over the years I have allowed some men and women in the Bible to be my mentor. They have inspired and challenged my life in terms of my character, calling and leadership. In recent years Mordecai has captured my heart and I believe he is the unsung hero of the book of Esther. I particularly appreciate how the book concludes with an epilogue headed;
“The Greatness of Mordecai”.
I remember when this title first grabbed my attention and provoked me to consider why Mordecai was described as great. There’s a book in the business world, “From Good to Great”, which James Collins wrote to help good companies transition to being great companies. I like to think we can all learn from Mordecai and how to transition from being good leaders to great leaders. Here are three things that I aspire to be and to learn from Mordecai:
- The Virtue of Greatness
Greatness starts as a private virtue before it is expressed in the public arena.
Greatness is about outstanding influence and importance however it always begins with greatness of character. YOU DO GREAT things because YOU ARE great.
Greatness of deed always begins with greatness of heart.
Mordecai was influential and important because he had greatness on the inside. He was a principled man who had strength of calling, character and convictions. Mordecai’s principles led him to make uncompromising decisions which paved the way for both his promotions and his adversities. In all that he did, Mordecai embodied the scripture: But the noble man devises noble plans; And by noble plans he stands. Isaiah 32:8
- Greatness is found in Serving Another
The book of Esther describes Mordecai as the Jew who was second in rank to King Xerxes (10:2). The fact that a Jew was placed in such a prominent position in the courts of a Persian king when the Israelite people were in exile was a divine act of God. At the moment when King Xerxes took his signet ring off and placed it on Mordecai’s finger (8:2), Mordecai was given the responsibility to rule and to lead.
Whether we serve in ministry or in the marketplace we are often called to support another leader, and this by no means minimises our ability to be great.
In the role that my husband and I have as Executive Pastors we posture ourselves to wisely and respectfully steward the responsibility that Ps Phil and Chris have given us. Our desire is to successfully lead as we serve the vision of another.
- Greatness is Working for the Good of the People
Mordecai was great; “because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews” (10:3). I am so moved by this statement. Mordecai was great because he was kind! I always want to be a kind leader. Someone who looks out for the welfare of others – for our team, our location pastors, our staff and of course the people in our church.
First and foremost, leaders need to work for the good of the people.
Often leaders can be vision, goal or project focused and people can be the resource to make this happen. My sense is that Mordecai was not like that. He spoke up and fought for the welfare of his people. As a leader I want to be like Mordecai, so I try my best to always encourage, to show care and to be kind.
The mark of greatness is found in loving others.
Leanne Matthesius, Senior Pastor C3 San Diego
In Luke 18, Jesus is found having a conversation with the crowds and His disciples, and He asks them this question: “When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?” This story tells me that Faith is something that Jesus prizes most highly, and Faith is something that He will be looking for on His return!
Jesus consistently spoke a Faith narrative. “What is impossible with man shall be POSSIBLE with God.” “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but only BELIEVES, it will be done for them.” “Did I not tell you that if you only BELIEVE you will see the glory of God revealed.” “Go your way, your FAITH has made you whole.” The whole Gospel is built around Faith, and Faith was THE script Jesus never deviated from.
If Jesus were to come to our churches and our homes today, would He find Faith?
In Mark 9, Jesus has an encounter with a desperate father whose son is severely demon possessed. His child is being physically abused and tormented by an evil spirit. The Bible tells us that the demon, “often threw the young boy into fire or water to kill him.” How traumatizing this must have been. It is interesting to note that earlier in the chapter, the Bible tells us that His disciples were unable to cast the demon out. Jesus is clearly ticked upon hearing this and calls His disciples out!
“Oh FAITHLESS and perverse generation, how long must I be with you? How long must I bear with you? Bring the child to me.”
The father of the demonized child comes to Jesus in desperation. “Teacher, IF YOU can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus’ response is epic: “What do you mean, ‘IF I CAN’? Anything is possible if a person believes.”
As men and women of God, it is our job to do everything we can to remove the “IF” from people’s expectations around what God can do.
Some churches, especially in the Western world, are backing up from preaching “Faith” and instead teaching around how to “live with certain conditions.” They are replacing miracle nights with seminars on how to cope with issues, as opposed to imparting Faith to see people set free from them. While we are called to be compassionate and understanding around people’s unique situations, the Church of Jesus Christ was always meant to be a house of Faith! A place where the impossible becomes possible!
People are struggling with unbelief partly because they are constantly bombarded by stories of defeat. Bad news sells, and thanks to our modern 24-hour news cycle, the messages of defeat and despair are hard to escape from.
In order to start seeing Faith rise in the hearts of the people, we must be faithful to “rehearse the right kind of stories.”
For example, in the book of Judges, Chapter 4, the nation of Israel was suffocating under the grip of a very powerful enemy. But everything shifted when, “Deborah arose as a mother in Israel,” and through her leadership, the Israelites were able to end 20 years of enemy occupation.
What was the reason Deborah was able to secure victory for her people in a time of great oppression? How did she break a 20-year cycle of defeat? I believe the answer is revealed in the Song of Deborah in Judges 5:11: “They recount the righteous victories of the Lord, and the victories of His villagers in Israel.”
THIS IS KEY to us seeing Faith levels rise in our hearts and our churches. What stories are we telling? Are we adding our Amen to the promises of God and recounting testimonies of victory? Or are we settling at empathy alone?
The temptation will be to back off from sharing victory stories, because we do not want to offend the people who haven’t had them. While we must always approach our congregations with sensitivity, this DOES NOT and MUST NOT negate our responsibility as leaders to put Faith in the hearts of the people. We CANNOT allow unbelief to creep into our pulpits and our conversations. Unbelief is a thief, and its desire is to do the bidding of the devil himself, which is to “steal, kill and destroy.”
Of all the things we are to fight for and preserve, it is Faith!
God’s house is a place where weary men and women should find FAITH for their families and their futures. A place where broken lives are restored, the sick are healed, the oppressed are set free and people are inspired to “have faith in God” even in the midst of life’s fiercest battles.
Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will accompany those who BELIEVE: In My name, they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Jesus was very clear about His expectations of His followers. And there is no doubt about that!
To find out more about C3 San Diego, visit c3sandiego.com.
Lars Halvorsen, Senior Pastor C3 Church Darwin
One thing I know is that I’m called to make disciples. And it’s not only because it’s the Great Commission, the final charge of Jesus for His people to obey.
For some reason, since my teenage years the echo of those two words “Make Disciples” lingers with me every time I read Matthew 28:18-20 or hear it preached.
In Christian bookstores I have sought out books on discipleship for no particular reason other than I felt drawn to them more so than any other topic. Further cementing this call in my soul were the years I spent teaching ‘Discipleship’ at C3 College in Sydney.
In the Book of Acts we see that when disciples are made, the church multiplies with growth. This is great news because most of us want to see our churches grow and multiply. But I have found I need to be careful because it’s easy to become enamoured with “growth”.
Growth is exciting and growth gets us noticed but if we’re not aware of the danger, discipleship (which is a long process in today’s microwave society) can get pushed to the side to make way for things that produce more immediate results.
This is where leaders get burned out, people live under sustained pressure and volunteers can feel like chattel. Things can, will and do only get worse from there.
Discipleship will always bring growth. But it doesn’t happen overnight.
It is a classic case of the exponential curve. For a long time it seems like nothing much is happening. You are investing yourself into a small group of people, teaching them what it really means to follow Jesus. Then, after a couple of years they start doing the same thing with another small group of people. When you have produced disciple-making disciples, it starts to really take off. The cool part is that this is how Jesus did it. He invested Himself in a small group of people who then went and reproduced other disciples and by Acts 17:6 they had practically “turned the world upside down”.
If we will make discipleship the goal we will set in motion a community transforming kind of growth in our churches that has the added benefits of being healthy, sustainable and virtually unstoppable. And, we will be fulfilling the Great Commission.
For more information about C3 Church Darwin, visit c3darwin.com.
Erika Croxford, Senior Pastor C3 People
Worship is the recognition that we were made to love Him, and that He has given us breath.
So what we do with that breath is our response, our worship, and our praise. Everything that breathes, shines, beats, sways, yields, grows, glistens, and spins was created to praise the Lord.
Psalm 100:4 (TPT)
‘You can pass through His OPEN gates with the password of praise. Come right into His presence with Thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to Him and affectionately bless His beautiful name! For the Lord is good and ALWAYS ready to receive you. He is so loving that it will amaze you –
so kind that it will astound you!’
Praise moves us through His gates to be with Him in His presence. It is so exciting to hear that His gates are not closed but open – thank you Jesus! Sometimes though, there is a great chasm in our lives. I would like to write about the in-between, the dichotomy of the now and the not-yet that a lot of us sit with.
I have learned (Lord, I hope so!) to praise while I wait. As people who love Jesus, we praise in the waiting, we choose to bless Him when we don’t fully understand it all.
When we praise, suddenly we move from a place of impossibility to an infinite amount of possibility.
You may have places of pain and pressure (my hand is up in relating to that), you may have things you’re waiting on; you have been waiting on that promise for a miracle and you’re right in the middle of it all.
When you are plagued by the quiet of disappointment, it takes discipline to make a sound of praise.
When there is silence around you, its very hard to open your mouth and praise, but you must because breaking the silence will silence the accuser like nothing else.
I have found that this kind of sound is untouchable. No dark power, demon or person can bring it down! Every time I imagine what untouchable praise would look like, I literally cannot help myself, a true hallelujah bubbles within me and I let it fly.
Praise, high praise, is bringing everything – all of it! Hiding nothing and not holding back. It is honest, not sad lamenting but authentic and true. You have to mean it to offer Him the sound of praise, you’ve got to really talk to Him. In these moments we can’t hide. Don’t hide. Do not hide. (I mean, we can but everyone will know it because even if it sounds right to the hearers’ ears, it will carry no authority.) Take it all; take everything to Jesus. It is in the hiding that we can find little parts of our heart left unchecked. It is in the pretending that we can allow the little foxes of rebellion to take residence there.
Oh man! It has become so clear to me that it’s my heart that He’s after, always and always, with a fierce love.
It’s a sacrifice. It’s an honest evaluation of where things are at, and laying down your human perspective. To trust will, at times, be a sacrifice for you and I. Sometimes what we offer up on that altar of obedience will be our will.
Today, in a moment where I chose to lay me down through tears and grit, I wrote this piece –
here I am
in the ashes
I lift my eyes
not part, but all the way to the high places where the air is clear and my
eagle eyes can see for miles to
the other side.
I slip off heavy clothing
and burn on the altar of praise
I am the bride of the mountain.
my fire heart
loving freedom and life more than anything
Thats it – when we praise, we find ourselves in His presence. Then we see more of Jesus in His beauty and His glory and we are changed, transformed to be more like Him, and that my friends, is true freedom.
I believe that there is a sound coming to us all. It is the sound of praise! There will be a rumbling in the people, and a yearning will grow within us for something solid and real, something honest and authentic. We, His people, will rise in a hallelujah, and it will be a war cry that silences the voice of shame and anxiety. The time of languishing is over; now is the time to sing.
To find out more about Ps Erika or C3 People, visit c3people.org.