Yesterday I referred to Frank Viola quoting Billy Graham. Here is a second quote from that article,
This is Billy Graham’s prediction about the future Christian landscape. He made it in 1965 and it’s come to pass in our day:
“Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point where they may reject the institution that we call the church. They are beginning to turn to more simplified forms of worship. They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ. They want a heartwarming personal faith. Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message, we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians going outside the institutional church to find spiritual food.”
In our lives as disciples there is no substitute for the presence of God. We must long for it, crave it and earnestly seek it. God promises as we do this, he wil move towards us, James 4: 7,8
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
It is not easy to be too clever for God. We have often divorced ourselves from the methods practised and taught by Jesus in favour of a more “realistic” approach that seems geared to 21st century living. We basically don’t “do discipleship” unless it can be seen as going to college, attending a class or teaching series, attending a programme.
Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifestyle not an activity.
Reading on Frank Viola’s blog it appears Billy Graham realised the wisdom of the discipleship making methods of Jesus. Here Viola quotes Graham on one aspect of what he would have done were he not a travelling evangelist,
“I think one of the first things I would do would be to get a small group of eight or ten or twelve men around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price. It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laymen who in turn could take eight or ten or twelve more and teach them. I know one or two churches that are doing that, and it is revolutionizing the church. Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in his personal interview and in the time he spent with the twelve.”
Time to think
1. What activity are you involved in that is following the pattern of Jesus in making disciples? Are you making disciples or attending church?
2. Who do you meet with in order to progress your walk as a disciple, are you in a directly accountable relationship with anyone?
This quote comes from Jon Walker’s Breakfast with Bonhoeffer which I recently read. In context Walker is talking about compartmentalising life and relationships although I was most impacted by the idea of definition coming into my life only through Jesus.
How often is my life out of focus, how often am I unreal in what I believe about life, family, relationships, job, politics, society (I could go on) simply because the world is not framed by Jesus, because my life is being viewed through the wrong lens.
“You cant say “Jesus is part of my life, or, Jesus is important in my life. You can [only] now say, Jesus defines my life””
In my reading I have been thinking of Jesus and his relationship with the disciples. To me it appears that the most radical thing he says is in John 15:15,
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
As someone who has few close friends I consider it a special honour to be named a friend of Jesus.
I came across this quote from John MacArthur on the meaning of John 15:15,
At the court of the Roman Emperor and at the courts of Eastern Kings, there was a very select group of men. These men were kind of like what we would call the ‘kitchen cabinet’ in America, except that they were intimate men. They were not just advisors who were schooled politically; they were dear friends of the King or the Emperor. They were his protectors as well as his advisors. They were the ones who were caring for his life, and at all times, they had immediate access to the King. They could enter into his bed chamber anytime they wanted. They could be with him whenever they needed to be with him. They had to gain no entrance from anybody because they were called the friends of the King. He talked with them before he talked with his generals. He talked with them before he talked with any other rulers of other nations or any other statesman. The friends of the King were those who had the closest possible relationship with the ruler. They had an intimate connection with him, and they had the right to enter his presence at any time.
And that’s exactly what Jesus is saying to us. You don’t need any particular authority. You don’t have to pass any particular formality. You have immediate and instant access into my presence at all time‑‑because you’re my friends. [My emphasis added.]
We’re not like slaves who have no right to enter the presence of the master. We’re not like subjects who crowd the sides of the street and watch the King pass by and hope, once in a while, we catch a glimpse of his robe flapping in the breeze. We have a complete and total intimacy with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That’s what it means to be a friend of Jesus.
Usually reading anything by Andrew Murray produces a sense of conviction in my life. A few days ago I started reading The Deeper Christian Life and got to page 1,
“The first and chief need of our Christian life is fellowship with God.
The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As I need every moment afresh the air to breathe, as the sun every moment afresh sends down its light, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong.”
No further comment is required.
As with all of Murray’s works The Deeper Christian Life is not to be read casually or glibly. This has to be meditated upon, thought through and brought into obedient action.
Time to think
1. When did I last “feel” the presence of God?
2. Do I long for God’s presence – is it “the air I breathe”?
3. Am I dependant upon God?
The full text of the book is available for free using this link
. In fact ccel.org
have a number of books by Murray (as well as others) which are available for download by following this link
I stand amazed at the dedication and determination of many people in this world who will subject their body to great stress and discipline in order to achieve a goal. Look at the video below and you will see their determination.
Christians, Christ followers, disciples, are called to the same level of discipline every day. Consider this section from Luke 9:20, 23-25
20 Then he [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”…23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
The way of the cross is the way of Jesus. Being a disciple we have to walk it not once but ever single day. Christ paid the price on the cross to enable you to do it. Walk with him.
I read this AW Tozer quote on the Eternal Perspective Ministries website,
So I’ve got to tell you that if you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on….
We come into God’s house and say, “The Lord is in His holy temple, let us all kneel before Him.” Very nice. I think it’s nice to start a service that way once in a while. But when any of you men enter your office Monday morning at 9 o’clock, if you can’t walk into that office and say, “The Lord is in my office, let all the world be silent before Him,” then you are not worshiping the Lord on Sunday. If you can’t worship Him on Monday you didn’t worship Him on Sunday. If you don’t worship Him on Saturday you are not in very good shape to worship Him on Sunday. (Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, 9, 24)