Choose wisely for what you want most in life may not always be what you want most in the moment.
This past week, my wife and I spent our time in Orlando, FL at the Global Church Advancement conference (go #GCA2014). I plan to publish my thoughts on the conference as a whole later, but for now, I wanted to share what I thought was one of the highlights.
I went down a day early for the opening workshop on Discipleship led by Randy Pope of Perimeter Church in Atlanta, GA. I’ve met Randy years ago through my involvement with Campus Outreach. I had a sense of what to expect with this workshop having that background and some familiarity with Randy’s ministry at Perimeter.
But I wasn’t quite prepared for this statement he made. At some point in the Q&A time, he said, “If I had to go back in my ministry, and only pick between Preaching to the masses, or Discipling the few in life-on-life missional discipleship, I would pick life on life every time.”
I know this. Or rather, I should say, I knew this.
If you look at the impact over a longer time one could have by investing into a few who then do the same with others, the outcomes are astounding. Plus, it seems to be Jesus’ preferred way of doing ministry.
He wasn’t as concerned with speaking venues, podcasting sermons, marketing and promoting teaching series’. Sure he spoke to the masses, and taught as One with authority. Sure he even went to the mountaintops where his voice could project and carry.
He did these things, but they don’t seem to be the focus.
Instead, He lived life with a few, who would later turn the world upside down.
This isn’t sexy. This doesn’t make headlines. This doesn’t get your name or brand out there.
But it is highly impactful to the world for spreading the gospel and seeing the change of heart/lives that come with it.
I needed that. My soul needed that. As I prepare to go into a season of planting a church, I know my tendency is going to be to focus on the good things, at the expense of the best thing – giving my life away to a few, in a life on life, relationally intentional, purposeful discipleship way.
For those who are interested in delving more deeply into this (and who couldn’t be at the #GCA2014 conference), let me encourage you to pick up two resources along these lines.
Discovered this post this morning about the faith of Peyton Manning. Loved his perspective on maintaining his priorities, keeping his faith in Christ in first position, and wanting his actions – not his rhetoric or rituals – to speak for themselves.
I also appreciate the way that he can (appropriately in my opinion) focus on playing good football, working on his craft, and pursuing excellence as an extension of his faith, not merely as a platform for persuasion or a means to a supposedly “greater” end. This is the heart of living out the mission of God as His creature and child, in every sphere of life.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I am doing what everyone else is doing – posting a thoughtful and provocative quote from the man who has inspired many not only in his day and generation, but for many yet to come. I wish to offer a brief comment to the quote as well.
“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
What made Martin Luther King, Jr. so profound is that he was truly counter-cultural. In his day when the typical response was either acceptance (of my view, my way, my culture, my policies, etc) or elimination (by segregation, intimidation, marginalization or even assassination), he advocated and championed a more profound position – creative extremism. He saw that the most profound and world-changing act of persuasion was neither legislative or brute force.
It was love.
The kind of radical love that actively sought the best interests of another, and took them on as their own, regardless of the reception.
Martin Luther King, Jr. lived out this love, because he was a man who recognized that he had been loved in that extremely creative and radical way by another.
This love has come to us all in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and it is only as we receive that love by the most creative extremist ever can we then turn and share that love with others.
Other-wordly, radical, creative-extremist type love is really the only way anything different can ever happen in this world.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Forby grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:1-10, ESV)
Some people are like Fireworks: a great display if you’re far away, but up close they just wreak havoc & cause trauma.
“For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”― Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
During this Christmas season, I love to be reminded that we are “outlandish creatures” who are all longing for home. The reality though can only be found in the One in whom we’ve been made, and in whom we also “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Home, in other words, is found in Jesus Christ alone. That is the meaning of Christmas – God making His home with us, so we can find our way back home again with Him.
This is a reposting of a previous entry as this resource is back on the Kindle Cheap list for $1.99. It is well worth it if you don’t already have it (Links below to Amazon product pages).
People ask me often, “What is a good book to read to better understand the Bible as a whole?”
My answer has been for the past five years, “The best single book to better understand the Bible as a whole is Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Story Book Bible.”
And you can Order it for Kindle for only $1.99 by clicking the link below (this is a steal, trust me).
Hardcover edition at $10.99 (click here)
“Of all the customs surrounding Christmas, it occurs to me the most singular, the most distinctive, is the custom of giving one another gifts. You realize how unique that is. There are other special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Father’s Days, Mother’s Days, and so on, in which somebody is given gifts. You bring your gifts to somebody, but the real question is … How many holidays do we have in which all of us give gifts to all of us? The answer is only one, and it’s right that we do it at Christmas because it highlights, it makes real, the central event, in some ways, the central truth of Christmas…Jesus Christ came at Christmas, but he didn’t just come. He was given. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given …’
Jesus didn’t just come. He was a gift. That’s the central event of Christmas, and all the gift giving, in a sense, makes that real. Jesus was given. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …’ Jesus did not just come. He was a gift.
There’s one place in which Paul is so overwhelmed by the thought of it that he breaks into praise, and he says, ‘Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift,’ an unspeakable gift, an inexpressible gift. It’s beyond description. It’s beyond comprehension. Whenever Paul thinks about it, even for a while, his imagination and his heart explode.”
- Tim Keller, December 23, 1990
sermon, “His Name Shall Be Called”
“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”—William Gurnall
“And in the Incarnation the whole human race recovers the dignity of the image of God.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer