Friday, December 30, 2011

Introducing The 8 Keys of Discipleship

            Our desire is to produce unreasonable, unorganized, uncompromising, focused spiritual people who will carry out the desire of Christ to reach a lost and dying world. The 8 Keys of Discipleship represent 8 Key Truths which form a framework to help in this process as you learn to walk with God yourself in the freedom and power that is rightfully yours as His child and to help others do the same.
This book is a working textbook so you will have a clear plan on how to be a Kingdom disciple and how to make Kingdom disciples that truly function as disciples of the great commission. Each person who works through these teachings will know how to walk with the Lord in freedom and joy, see others come to Christ and know how to equip the new disciple to reproduce their lives to do the same.
We have written a short synopsis of each key followed by many Scriptures for you to explore on your own under Discovering Each Key.   Then go back and focus on those keys the Lord is speaking to you about. 
You can only disciple people to the level you are yourself. If you are not living free you will not be able to disciple others to be free.
The Scriptures are the most important part of this study. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  We believe God will speak to you as you read His Word; He will reveal His truth to you and teach you about His gospel. 
The first three keys are consecutive.  Keys 4-8 are one set.  All five are true for you now as a believer in Jesus Christ. So feel free to jump around and explore the keys.  Learn and grow, live free and disciple others to do the same.
We want to encourage you to sit with God, and read His Word to KNOW HIM, not just to finish a study.  Following the Scripture verses, we have a deeper study of each key called Going Deeper.  In this section, you will walk through the key, digging deeper into this particular part of the gospel.
You can only disciple people to the level you are yourself. If you are not living free you will not be able to disciple others to be free.  So it is critical that you dig into this study for yourself, to know your God and to love Him. As you walk with God, learning to listen to Him and move with Him, He will give you opportunities to disciple others, teaching them all He teaches you. 
Discipleship is a living process, not a system of lessons to teach. Discipleship is not just a Sunday school class or bible study.  Discipleship is not just memorizing Bible verses. Kingdom disciples follow the wisdom of God in a person, not personality, though sometimes personality initially attracts.  Wisdom is what the heart of a true disciple seeks.  They seek to know God and live for His glory alone.
  Knowing and loving God is foundational. We are not interested in just giving you more Bible knowledge or information about God. Many of you have had plenty of Bible knowledge. Has that knowledge alone given you peace and joy and an unshakeable security in your life?  We also are not interested in helping you just survive on this planet, to struggle through the Christian life.  We are interested in helping you to truly thrive, to be all you were created by God to be in Christ! Knowing God is the true Key. You will learn how to be a disciple of His. As
If you are tired of trying to change yourself, tired of trying to find joy and meaning, tired of not feeling good enough or worthy, or tired of trying to do enough for God, then come and find rest.
your love for Him grows, His passion will drive you right into the centre, into the very heart and activity of God.
            The 8 Keys of Discipleship express the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The first three keys — Realize, Admit, and Surrender — focus on who God is, on who we were before we knew Him, and what God did in Jesus Christ to bring us to Himself.
            The next five keys — Believe, Transform, Abide, Love, and Reign — are all true for believers, from the moment we surrendered our lives to God.
The first three keys are progressive.  You must realize who God is, know your condition and surrender to Jesus to enter the Kingdom of God.  The next five keys are not progressive. They express the reality of being a believer in Jesus Christ. They are the foundational reality of the Christian life. As you understand and believe that this reality, as expressed in God’s Word, is true for you, you will begin to experience the free and abundant life in Christ.
It is critical to understand how the gospel flows and works in the human heart.  You are a living system and the life of Christ is living in you also.  As you study the 8 Keys, we encourage you to sit with God and listen to Him. Come with no agenda but to know Him. He will reveal the mystery of the gospel to you. As you look at this book, pulling one key out too long and focusing on it without the connection to the others will move you to misunderstanding.  Each key is essential to the whole.  They cannot stand alone and express the full picture.  They are like pieces of a pie.  Each piece represents a part of the whole pie. Or you can think of it like this:  If you wanted to study the life of an animal and you remove its heart to look at it, it will die.  If you remove the lungs, it will die.  You must look at the animal in its completeness as it functions and works.
The gospel is not robotic, like a system that man can build.  It is God’s living system showing how He functions. The gospel shows God in His completeness.  If you want to examine God’s love and pull it out by itself but do not have an understanding of His Sovereignty, His wrath, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, His holiness, or His power, then soon your view of His love will become perverted and unhealthy. God is a living system. His attributes all describe Him in His wholeness.  He always loves even when wrathful.  He is always righteous, even in His mercy or judgement. He is life and must always be examined as a whole Being.  The gospel is the same.  We can look at the parts, and we do in this study to understand the gospel more fully, but the parts must be living in the whole.
Being a Kingdom disciple is being all you were created to be in Christ, not about trying to live the Christian life.  Jesus says, “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Christian life is not hard, but it is impossible without the Christ. There is incredible joy in this journey of learning to walk by faith in our God. We pray that God will speak deeply to you through this study and that you will come away with joy and peace and a solid assurance in the goodness and love of God in your life. So let me encourage you to come to the fountain of life and drink. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kingdom Disciples

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:16-20

     When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. What a challenging verse! They had seen Him die. Now He was alive! Jesus had risen from the dead and walked among them. He had entered their rooms without walking through the doors. He let some touch His nail-pierced hands. Some disciples had eaten food cooked by the Lord Himself. He was alive. Very alive! What more evidence did they need? Yet still… some doubted. Why?
     Then Jesus came and spoke to them and said the now-famous words we casually call the 'Great Commission, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth."Jesus is now in charge. He has been given supreme authority in heaven and earth. He defeated the power and principalities through His death and resurrection and now He had the Name which is above every name! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Everything is under His control and power. So, He commands us, "Go, therefore, and make disciples…"
     What is the connection between His authority and our ability to go? Making disciples is an impossible task. How does someone go 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 all things He commanded? Jesus closed the Great Commission with a revealing statement and promise. He said, ―And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.‖
     I am with you. Me, He said. Not a system or a method. Me. A Person. I am with you. You can go because I am with you. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Jesus was pretty clear. A disciple is created to bear fruit and he or she does this by abiding in Him. Bearing fruit does not mean producing fruit. Bearing fruit means displaying the fruit produced by the Lord as He works with you, in and through your life. Kingdom disciples know apart from Jesus, they can do nothing of eternal significance at all.
     A disciple is a student, a learner. As Kingdom disciples, Jesus is our teacher. A person who abides in Jesus must abide in His Word, or he is not truly a disciple. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32). As we abide in His Word, we will learn from Him. He will teach us truth and the truth will set us free to be who we truly are in Him, more fully expressing the resurrection life of a disciple of Christ.
     Jesus set the example, as the Son of Man, for us as One Who learns from Another. He was also a Disciple. He was fully God, yet He took the form of a man and submitted Himself to the Father God‘s leading, walking in perfect faith. Jesus said, "Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:28,29). 
     Jesus did nothing of Himself. What an amazing statement coming from our Lord. Jesus said only the things the Father taught Him to say. He did only the things the Father told Him to do. Always! Perfectly! Wow! He always did those things that pleased God, and what pleases God more than faith?? Nothing! Jesus perfectly walked by faith in the Father, obeying His every command. If Jesus did nothing of Himself, but said and did only what the Father said to say and do, how much more should we speak and do only what we are taught by God to speak?
     Without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus walked in perfect faith, learning obedience through what He suffered. He was taught by God and obeyed God. He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. What was the impact of one life completely surrendered to the will of God?? Unstoppable, uncontainable, indescribable impact of transformation that continues today.
     We are disciples who are being conformed into the image of Jesus, the King of our lives. He is teaching us to live by faith, completely abandoned and yielded to the reign of God within us. Jesus authored and He is perfecting our faith. He called us to Himself for the praise of His glory, as He draws men and women to Himself for His Name‘s sake. When we grasp and embrace who we really are in Christ, we discover we are on mission with our King, reigning with Him on the earth. We are His ambassadors, with one voice proclaiming His message to a lost and dying world. Our King is taking over the visible world, conquering all who stand against Him. And He is doing it through His people, His Kingdom disciples, His church.
     When we speak of Kingdom disciples we are talking about the reign of God in and through His people. He is bringing us back to Old Testament times when the invisible God was the King of Israel, but His people dethroned Him and set up a king they could see. The prophet Samuel warned the people not to do this ungodly act. As he cried out to God, God said, "They have not rejected you, they have rejected Me. Give them a physical king."
    But in Christ, God has reinstated Himself to the original plan as the invisible King of His people. He wants no person to be in this role physically. No pope or priest. No pastor or church. He is King and He reigns with His people in the spiritual realm, and all who call themselves Christians will openly admit Christ is their only true King.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Celebrating Life

Since we started Celebrating Life Ministries two years ago, we have seen many people come to Christ.  Now these same people are leaders and learning to disciple others who are coming to Christ and learning to walk with God.  What a beautiful work God is doing among us.  I am in awe of Him and so grateful to see the transforming power of His gospel.  He truly gives salvation to all who believe in His gospel. It is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

These past two years I have seen more solid transformation than I have in all my years as a Christian.  The power and simplicity of Christ... that's all... Christ.  Jesus sets people free and He transforms the core of a person, giving them a new spirit and a new heart that only beats for God.  He makes a new creation.  A being totally dependent upon God for everything and He lives in and through us.

I am so amazed, in awe, really, at the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Thank you God!

Tonight, person after person gave praise to God for dramatically transforming their lives. People whose lives were filled with pain and despair. People whose lives where filled with crime and death.  People who were lonely and without a friend in this world.  These very people were praising the God who saved them and giving Him glory.

He deserves all the praise and all the glory.  What a gracious and loving God we have.  He is good to us. He does not treat us as our sin deserves.  Instead, He took the full weight of our sin and died to set us free from its power. Now He calls us to be who He has made us to be, righteous and holy beings, set apart to Him alone.

Celebrating Life has been in existence little over 2 years. We have seen about 50 people come to Christ during this time.  Alabaster Jar opened in May 2011 and we have now seen 11 women baptized.  What a joy to be apart of God's activity on this earth.  He is setting people free through His gospel.  Simply by faith in Him.  No other program or method, but to know God and love Him with all we are.

Thank you God for Your graciousness to us. Thank you for saving us and setting us free to truly live!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Do You Tell Yourself?

Who do you say you are?  What do you say to yourself about you? What is the self-talk you have?

How we speak to ourselves about ourselves either empowers us to live or demotivates us to continue.   God gives us the framework in His Word to work within.  He gives us the thoughts we have as new creations in Christ.  Any other thought, any thought that is contrary to the Word of God, is not a thought of our new creation life.  Any thought of dysfunction. Any thought of not being able to do something. Any thought of having limits is a self-focused thought.

In Christ we can do all things.  Why? Because it doesn't depend upon us.  It depends upon Him.  Why can He have such confidence that we can do all things?  Because He knows He is doing it and not we ourselves.  In and of ourselves, we fall short of His glory.  When we died in Him and were reborn, He joined us with Himself and we became one with Him. We are one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who abides in and with us; and we abide within Him. Permanently. Forever.  God works out His will on earth from within us and He is working all around us.  He is working all things together for our good, for the good of the called according to His purpose.  God is actively working out His will in and through us. We cannot fail because it does not depend upon us. The work is His and the power is His.  Our work is to believe Him. Our walk is a walk of faith, not a walk of trying to do.

How do you speak to yourself about yourself?  Do you limit yourself? Do you listen to dysfunctional emotions and claim them as your own?  Who are you?  Who do you believe you are?  If you are in Christ, you are a new creation.  The old is gone.  This means that... the old is gone.  The old you is gone.  The sin is taken away, having been poured into Christ who became sin on your behalf.  You have been been sealed by God's Holy Spirit and nothing can separate you from Him. You have been set free from the power of sin and death.

You are seated in the heavenly realm and are a spirit being houses in a suit made for the planet.  You are not your body, but your body is yours to live in and take care of as you walk as an ambassador of Christ to proclaim His message in the world.  You are free, accepted, dearly loved. You are royalty, as a child of the King of Kings.  And you reign us the most powerful being in all the universe. He reigns in and through you as He sets  up His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and He is able to complete what He started in you and to glorify His Name through your life.  There is nothing that can stop you because God is on your side and you are connected forever to Him as He actively working out His righteousness in and through you.

What are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself the truth?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go and make disciples

What does it mean to make a disciple?  What is a disciple?  How do we know if we make a disciple?

A disciple is a learner, by definition.  A disciple listens and learns from his or her teacher.  A disciple of Christ listens and learns from Jesus and becomes like Him.  But what is a disciple?  A disciple is a spiritual being who has been brought from death to life by the power of God and who now lives in the reality of heaven on earth.  A disciple dwells in the spirit realm all the time.  Their spirit is seated in the heavenly realm in Christ all the time. They are in the world but they are not of the world. They have been born again, of an imperishable Seed, and they have entered into eternal life.

A disciples is the workmanship of God.  We are not who we were.  We are born from above and are children of God. We are beings who are righteous and holy and sealed by God's Holy Spirit. Nothing can separate us from God. We exist in Love all the time. We dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. We stand on the Rock that cannot be shaken.  We stand in grace alone.  We cannot be moved.  We abide in Christ and He abides in us.  He has made His home with us and He is our home.

Discipleship is teaching the reality of being a new creation in Christ.  Focusing on the Truth that sets us free and teaching others to focus in the same way, because it's true.  We are not trying to make it true.  The Truth is True because God has spoken it and He does not lie.  As we believe the truth of His word, we live within the freedom we have in Christ.  If we choose not to believe, we do not experience the reality of existence within Him.  It is according to our faith that we experience the fullness of what God has done in Christ.  We come to know God by faith, and we continue to walk by faith in Him all the time.  Moment by moment, day by day.

This is  discipleship.  Speaking the truth in love that we may grow up into the maturity of a child who walks by faith in his or her God.  We grow up into child-likeness of complete dependence upon the God who is our bread and our drink. The God who is our life.  He reigns in us, and we move with Him as He sets up His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  We get to walk with Him. We get to love Him. We get to experience Him and come to know Him more and more deeply.