In Matthew 28:20, Jesus finishes the Great Commission with this challenge –
“teaching them everything I have commanded you.”Jesus, Matthew 28:20
Did you catch it? Do you see what’s missing? Left out of this quote is that we are to teach them “to obey” or “to observe” everything.
19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20
If you did catch it, does your church and your ministry obey this command? Are we teaching them “to obey everything” or are we teaching them everything we know in 30-45 minutes blocks and hope they learn or eventually know enough to become disciples who make disciples? Didn’t work for the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Doesn’t seem to be working today. Knowledge doesn’t always lead to maturity or multiplicative disciple making.
How do you teach to obey?
Jesus modeled this for us by teaching PLUS answering questions and responding to concerns PLUS modeling PLUS sending PLUS debriefing. There cannot be teaching to obey without –
- Q and A for understanding,
- opportunities to practice what’s been taught,
- ongoing coaching and debriefing,
- accountability to keep practicing.
How does your church make room for teaching to obey? Where are the opportunities to understand, ask questions, process concerns? Do you give opportunities to practice what’s been taught? Is there ongoing debriefing and coaching? How do you hold others accountable to obey Jesus?
Yes, Jesus taught crowds in rows. But more frequently he was on the go, demonstrating what he taught; or around a table, teaching them to obey with Q and A and responding to concerns in the context of relationships. More than just teach the crowds everything we know. Let’s teach them obey in discipling relationships.
A few Good Reads from February. Connect with me over at Goodreads.com and let’s share our reading adventures.
Spent Matches: Igniting the Signal Fire for the Spiritually Dissatisfied by Roy Moran
Turning an existing church into a Disciple Making Movement. Details what a disciple making movement strategy looks like and then tells the story of Shoals Creek Community Church’s adaptation of the strategy.
Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race–And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us by Benjamin Watson
Powerful testimony, encouragement, and direction from a man of wisdom and faith. Solid answers for how to think about racial issues in the aftermath of events that divide our country.
Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory by Linda Barnickel
A civil war battle in Northeast Louisiana that demonstrated the ability of black soldiers to fight victoriously over the Confederate army. Also, interesting details about life in Northeast Louisiana during the 19th century and aftermath of the Civil War. I’m looking forward to visiting the Milliken’s Bend and Grant’s Canal memorials next time I’m driving across I-20.
In the Way: Church As We Know It Can Be a Discipleship Movement (Again) by Damian Gerke
Another good book on how Disciple Making Movement practices can and should be adapted in the West. I’m going back through this one again very slowly. Much to chew on in this book.
The Story of Joseph Willis by Randy Willis
In the early 1800’s, Joseph Willis started the first evangelical churches West of the Mississippi River. Born a slave in the Carolina’s, Joseph Willis answered God’s call to go west. He endured much to deliver the Gospel to harsh Louisiana. Great story of perseverance. Churches planted and pastored by Joseph Willis are still in existence across south Louisiana today.
They Turned the World Upside Down: A Storyteller’s Journey with Those Who Dared to Follow Jesus by Charles Martin
Fiction writer paraphrases and stories his way through the early church. Always good to hear some new and creative perspectives on the Bible.
Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou by Shane K. Bernard
The Teche Bayou runs from Port Barre to Patterson. 125 miles and a lot of history along the banks. Includes the story of an ancient people groups, plantation life, civil war ironclad battles, and the changing nature of transportation and commerce in the south. Good book for anyone who loves south Louisiana.
Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel by Steve Addison
5 Universal Keys to Spreading the Gospel and Starting a Movement:
- white-hot faith
- commitment to the cause
- contagious relationships
- rapid mobilization
- adaptive methods
Love Steve Addison’s books, and all his resources at movements.net.
Great tool to track your gospel sharing. Tracks people at different types of responses to the gospel, forms prayer list, and groups. Coming in 2.0 is the ability to form a church and every time the gospel is shared by someone in your church your phone will vibrate. Ha! Loving this app. Check it out. What apps help you with evangelism, gospel sharing, and disciple making?
Completed a few good books in January. Hoping to get back above 50 books this year after a down year in 2020. Check out these five when you get a chance.
The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories… by Jim Cymbala
Always great to be reminded of the power of the Gospel to transform. Jim Cymbala shares seven great testimonies of God’s power to save.
The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi by Richard Grant
I’ve always loved Natchez. This book goes deep into some of the stories, scars, and scabs of the last 200 years. Didn’t know that Natchez voted against succession from the union. Didn’t know that there was an African warrior prince enslaved in Natchez for 40 years. Get to know the bitter and sweet story of a favorite southern town.
Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win by John M. Perkins
Compelling book on reconciliation and racial justice. Refreshing to hear the gospel driven worldview on racism and its solution from a true man of God who spent his life in the trenches of the civil rights movement.
Problems of Christian Leadership by John R.W. Stott
From a series of lectures John Stott gave to ministerial students. Stott shared from personal experience of the every day challenges of a life in ministry. Short book. Worth reading every year.
Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Glenn S. Sunshine
Great summary of worldviews through time from a Christian perspective. Became acquainted with Sunshine after reading The Kingdom Unleashed. This book is academic in nature. But accessible.
What are you reading?
A few years ago, Barna and the Seed Company released a study that found that 51% of professed Christians did not know about the Great Commission. Only 17% recognized it and could espouse its meaning for the life of the believer. File this under “Issues of our Decline.” If a declining number of a declining number (professed Christians and church attenders) even know one of the primary purpose statements for every believer and every church from the author and founder of our faith, could this be a key indicator of sure decline.
In the Great Commission Jesus lays out the plan for world evangelization.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded” Matthew 28:19-20.
- Go – as you spread out across the world
- Make Disciples – tell and recruit others to follow Jesus
- of all nations – don’t discriminate. The message about Jesus was and is for all races and people groups
- Baptizing them – lead them to commit their lives to Jesus
- Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded – teach them to observe and live by the words of Jesus
The Great Commission gave the early church their marching orders, and its likely that if you are a born again Christian today, it’s only because someone took seriously and observed the Great Commission.
As we establish churches that are more organized, more theologically astute, better with technology, multi-whatever, kid friendly, etc., etc.; let’s not forget the command that launched the movement – The Great Commission. We can’t assume they know. We must return again and again to the basics of our mission espoused by Jesus in the Great Commission.
- Am I living in obedience to the Great Commission by making disciples where I live and work?
- Am I impressing the Great Commission on those I influence and lead?
- How is my church passing on the Great Commission to those in our congregation?
- Does your church have a plan to make disciples? Is it working? (Robby Gallaty)
- How can we make the Great Commission known in our churches and groups?
In the midst of a lot of brain fog moments, I did manage to get a little writing and research done in 2020. 55 articles worth. More than I expected. Here are the top 10 most read, shared, etc. from these contributions. Thank you for following, reading, sharing, and encouraging me on my journey as a disciple this year. I’ve got a few drafts ready for 2021. Hope we can all bear fruit that remains in this new year.
- Dealing With Rejection in Ministry – LINK – “There is too much at stake to allow the rejection of a few to keep you from pursuing the high call of God to reach the world. Break free from the fear and the pain of rejection.”
- Covid-19 as an Acts 8:1 Moment for the Church – LINK – “God always wanted the message and the people dispersed and scattered. Persecution was the scattering agent that led to exponential growth. Could Covid-19 serve as a 21st century scattering agent?”
- Lost in Louisiana – LINK – “a compilation of Parish by Parish data that shows how many are potentially lost, how many evangelicals there are, and how many attend southern baptist churches across Louisiana.”
- Would Jesus Wear a Mask? – LINK – “What does it say about my heart if wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is of greater concern and riles more passion in me than the lostness and brokenness of people in the world?”
- Giving When the Church Can’t Gather – LINK – “There are at least five ways for people to be regular, sacrificial, and cheerful givers to your church, no matter what.”
- Lost in Louisiana’s Metros – LINK – “Louisiana has nine Metropolitan Statistical areas, which includes all of our major cities and 34 of our 64 parishes. 82% of the population of Louisiana lives in one of these Metro areas. So how are we doing at reaching Louisiana’s Metros?”
- Mobilizing Prayer with a Prayer Calendar – LINK – “If we want to make disciples, we must do what Jesus did, and he prayed regularly and consistently. Go beyond encouraging prayer. Mobilize prayer and expand the kingdom as Jesus did.”
- It’s Time to Think Outward about Kids Ministry – LINK – “93% of kids do not go to anyone’s church. How can we get the gospel to them?“
- If it’s Safe – LINK – “How tied is your faith to safety? Have you said no to an opportunity or a side of town because of the idol and illusion of safety? Is your faith in God lived out only in safe, comfortable environments where you’re never challenged, never have to sacrifice, never have to stress over the needs of others?”
- The Father’s Heart for the Lost – LINK – “Who’s the one that I’m going after right now? Do I celebrate one sinner’s repentance or only the crowds faithful participation?”
In the beauty of the Christmas season, don’t forget the messy reason that it came about. The reason for the season and the savior was to deal with the sinfulness of humanity.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
- 1 John 3:5 – “Jesus came to take away our sins…”
- Luke 7:34 – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
- Luke 19:10 – “the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
- Matthew 20:28 – “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
These purpose statements of Jesus remind us of the messiness of our lives that can only be cleaned up through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- He took out the trash of our lives. Jesus is our Savior and Sacrifice who took away our sin (1 John 3:5).
- He sits down at our messy table. Jesus is a friend of sinners, with a love that looks past our sinfulness to make relationship with God possible (Luke 7:34)
- He paid the price to get me out of the mess I was in. Jesus’ life served as a ransom for my sin enslaved soul (Matthew 20:28).
- He rescued me from the edge of the cliff. Jesus is a shepherd who finds the lost sheep and joyfully takes us into his arms (Luke 19:10)
These purpose statements also should remind us of the mission that Jesus now has us on. Our mission is not about safety, personal achievement, or self-actualization. Our mission is about sin and its impact on humanity. We join Jesus by:
- Sharing the story of his love and sacrifice that overcomes sin.
- Befriending, not separating from sinners in order to share Jesus with them.
- Living sacrificially to serve others and show them the work of Christ in our lives.
- Taking risk and going after the lost one until he or she is found.
This Christmas, let’s celebrate the reality that God, through Christ, was willing to enter the world to take on the messiness of our sin that we might know Him and join Him on this messy mission for lost souls.
This verse is repeated six times in the Old Testament and is great to memorize and meditate on during the month of November.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his faithful love endures forever.”
(Also found at Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1).
So you can memorize one and say you memorized six! Lol!
Thanksgiving Memory Verses
Join me in memorizing 30 Thanksgiving verses on the Bible Memory App this month: LINK.
I’ve used the Bible Memory App daily for almost three years now. It’s been a great devotional tool. Helps me hide the word in my heart. And, only 100% better than scrolling Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/TikTock, or whatever. Start a new habit with the Bible Memory App.
“And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.”
2 Corinthians 5:15
One of the reasons Jesus gave his life, was to rescue us from the dead end of living for ourselves. We’re made and saved for so much more than self-love. And it’s in trusting in and living for Christ and for others that we discover more peace and power than selfishness and looking within can offer. Lord, save us from the dead end of selfishness.
“we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.” 2 Corinthians 1:12
Godly sincerity and purity can also mean simplicity, singleness of mind, purity of motives, graciousness. Insincerity, duplicity, selfish motives, entitlement prevents us from seeing others as Christ would. What insincerities reside in my heart? Do I use people or love people? Am I as gracious toward others weaknesses and faults as I am toward my own? Am I singleminded in my desire for people? Lord, test our motives. Make us pure, sincere, and gracious.