What is a Faithful Disciple of Jesus Christ? Part 1

Almost 13 years ago, my church’s Vision Committee, after much prayer and discussion, decided that Southside’s Mission Statement would be:

Building the Family of God into Faithful Disciples of Jesus Christ.

But they also wanted to make sure that this wasn’t just another church with just another mission statement. They didn’t want to simply talk the talk…they wanted to walk the walk. And so, with that in mind, the church put together a search committee that would be tasked with the goal of finding a person whose ministry would focus on helping to build the family of God at Southside into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

In doing this they were showing how seriously they were taking the familiar words of Jesus at the end of Matthew’s Gospel –what we call the Great Commission. Jesus said…

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

By God’s grace…at least from my perspective…I was hired as Southside’s Minister of Discipleship. The idea and goal of discipleship is vital to the life of Christ’s Church. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank the Lord for putting the burden of discipleship on my heart and allowing me to do what I at Southside.

Can any church be faithfully living out its calling… its commission… if making disciples of Jesus Christ is not a priority? But that, of course, raises the question: What exactly is discipleship and what text would be helpful in giving us a deeper understanding of it? I mean, after all, you can be a disciple of anything or anyone? What makes a disciple of Jesus Christ a faithful disciple? Obviously this subject is not peripheral in Scripture. It’s front and center throughout God’s Word.

Having said that, as I pondered what text to preach, one stood out in my mind that I thought would help us in understanding what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Matthew 7:24-27.

Our text comes at the very end of what we call, “The Sermon on the Mount.” For three chapters Jesus taught what we might call, “The norms of the Kingdom.” Or, what I like to call Kingdom Discipleship. Our Lord is basically focusing on what our character and conduct should look like if we would be faithful citizens of his Kingdom. (By the way, this character and conduct are grounded in the Gospel that Christ preached in Matthew 4. This is no “self-improvement” program Jesus is running.)

Jesus begins these concluding remarks in verse 24 with these words…

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine…”

His very first word here is “therefore.” And remember my number one rule about the word, “therefore.” Whenever you see the word “therefore,” always ask what it’s there for. The reason why is because it usually means something like this: “Based on what I’ve just said…go and do such and such.” And that’s exactly what it means here.

Again, Jesus says in verse 24…

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine

In this verse, Jesus is telling us exactly what the “therefore” refers to – “these words of mine.” He’s referring to the words that he had just been preaching, which we call…”The Sermon on the Mount.” Of course, Jesus’ words can never be separated from who he is. You see, Jesus embodied everything he said. His person, works, and words are all part of the same package. They always point to his Father in heaven…and to him.

Next time we’ll take a look at what “these words of Jesus” are and what they mean… and why it matters.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

New Men’s Study: The Cross

Southside’s weekly small group men’s ministry will begin a new study, beginning on Monday, March 12, and Wednesday, March 14. Our study is entitled The Cross. This 13-lesson study is based on the classic book, The Cross of Christ, by John Stott. Here’s a description of this new study…

The cross transforms everything: our worship, our call to mission, our ability to love our enemies and to face the perplexities of suffering. No theology is genuinely Christian that does not arise from and focus on the cross—the center of the historic biblical faith. Drawing on John Stott’s classic book The Cross of Christ, the studies in this guide are designed to bring us to the heart of the cross with an understanding of what was accomplished there on our behalf.

After three introductory studies, we come to the heart of the cross, looking at forgiveness of sin and emphasizing a truly biblical understanding of the notions of satisfaction and substitution. Then we will move on the three great achievements of the cross: saving sinners, revealing God and conquering evil. The final four studies grapple with what it means for the Christian community to live under the cross.

As always, if you live in Jacksonville, we would love for you to come and join us for this new study. You don’t have to be a member of Southside to be part of our fellowship. We have many men who belong to various churches in our area.

For your convenience, we have two different meeting times:

  • We have a group of men that meet on Monday evenings, from 7-8:30, in our Family Life Center.
  • We also have several other groups that meet on Wednesday mornings from 6:30-7:30, also in our Family Life Center.

Please don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions (396-2676) or email me at DaleTedder@yahoo.com.

Blessings,
Dale

Calling All Mission-Minded Men at Southside

Brothers,

Below is some information about the mission trip to Guatemala that some of the men of our church will be going on this coming April. The info-meeting referred to has already happened, but the contact information is still good and it is definitely not too late to learn more and/or sign up, though space is limited. (Just to be clear: this mission trip is open to any and all men at Southside… though, as I said, space is limited.)

PS – One of the best and most inspiring messages I ever heard on missions was by John Piper. You can read or listen to the message by clicking here.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

Have you been looking for a way to put your faith in action?  Has God begun to give  you a heart to serve?  Do you desire to deepen your relationship with God by sharing His love with others?

Then we’ve got a trip for you!

The Baxter Boys men’s ministry here at Southside is sponsoring a mission trip to Guatemala on April 21-29 of 2012.  We will be involved in a construction project with the Mission2Guatemala team–the ministry our youth have worked with over the past few years–and will stay at their center in Chisek.  The cost of the trip will be $1500 per person which includes airfare, living expenses in Guatemala,  and construction materials for the project.  A deposit of $400 will be due by January 15, and we hope to offset the rest by fundraising.

We will have an exploratory meeting on Wednesday, December 14 at 5:45 PM in the Family Life Center main area.  We will discuss the trip, pass out the FAQ sheets from M2G and plan fund raising.  If you have any questions or are interested but cannot attend, contact David Preston at prestondinjax@aol.com or 616-6817.  You don’t have to be a “Baxter Boy,” just a man of God willing to rise up and go forth in His name.  See you on the 14th!

Every Man, God’s Man

Every Man, God’s Man
By Stephen Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Mike Yorkey

I just started this book, which is subtitled, Every Man’s Guide to Couragious and Daily Integrity. That’s such a key phrase, I think. I have often said that the hardest part about parenting is that it’s so daily. Well, that’s also true about being a godly man. Consistency seems so elusive. We have good days and not-so-good days. But seeking to be Christlike is always our goal. This book has been out since 2003, but the ideas are as fresh and relevant as anything written today. In fact, it has recently been republished. This link will take you to the good folks at ChristianBook.com’s listing of it so that you can order it.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is not a “book review.” Instead, I’m seeking to glean key ideas from the books I share (usually just focusing on a chapter at a time) so that I can share what I’m learning with you and the men I’m blessed to serve at Southside UMC. Enjoy, Dale

Introduction and Chapter One

From the Introduction

Men spend a lot of time playing to the wrong audience. “God Almighty is the only audience we need. …When we play for God, we become God’s man.”

The Three Rs of God’s Man

1.)    “Read – God’s man reads. A careful reader soaks up truth and lives it out in his life.”

2.)    “Recommit – Recommitment means relinquishing some of our rights and leading by serving. Recommitment means removing the sins that burden us down.”

3.)    “Relate – God’s man relates to God, his immediate family, and to other men.”

From Chapter One: Bogged Down in the Red Zone

The authors reference Dallas Willard, saying that before we seek to renovate our lives, we must first renovate our hearts. I couldn’t agree more with that. In fact, I’ve written on that very idea many, many times as well. The whole Bible, I believe, is predicated on the need for heart-work before life-transformation can truly take place.

This is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ does. It first puts a man into a right relationship with God through Christ (by grace through faith and repentance) and simultaneously makes that man a brand new creature with a brand new heart.

That new man of God then spends the rest of his life seeking to become (through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit and the means of grace God has provided) what God has already declared him to be – holy (or what we might call “Christlike”). This is an inside-out procedure. It involves a renovation of our character and not simply behavior modification. Our minds must also be renewed before we can really start living lives that please God and conform to the Christlikeness that God desires. “Right actions” which are not done for God’s glory and out of love for Christ are not properly motivated and thus not pleasing to God. Too many ministries today focus too much on changing behavior first. They’ve got it backwards. I believe this book seeks to straighten that out.

Kenny Luck talks about the great privilege it is to serve men by pouring himself into their lives. I couldn’t agree more. I thank God daily for calling me to such a ministry. It’s a blessing that I enjoy each day.

I once heard Tony Evans say something along the lines that if you connect with a man, his family will be blessed, then his church will, then his work, then his community, and eventually the world. Luck quotes a pastor friend of his who made this similar statement: “If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.” Amen to that!

Here are some of the things that the authors will be focusing on throughout the book (These topics look great. I can’t wait to really dig in and share what I learn with you.)

  • the personal benefits of having an undivided heart toward God
  • how to stop resolving to change and instead experience a revolution inside
  • how to move against fear and replace it with faith
  • how there is no such thing as a “double agent” believer because one agent is always compromised
  • how to deal with the “mole” within that bids you to indulge the dark side
  • how winning or losing a spiritual foothold changes the tide of war
  • how and why “80/20” thinking fails; that is, doing things 80 percent God’s way and 20 percent your way
  • the importance of “marinating” your mind
  • why having other men watch your back is nonnegotiable for God’s man
  • how confession releases God’s power and bloodies the Enemy’s nose
  • how to partner effectively and practically with the Guide – God’s Spirit
  • the source of real spiritual power and how to tap it
  • why perseverance is the mark of God’s man
  • the purpose of building and staying within well-marked boundaries
  • the need to jettison the baggage in your life
  • mastering your spiritual motivation once and for all

 If that list doesn’t motivate you to go out and buy the book, I don’t know what will. I look forward to reading this book and working my way through it with you.

Blessings,
Dale

New Men’s Study at Southside

In a couple of weeks our men’s weekly discipleship ministry will begin a new study entitled, Empowered By God: Insights into the Life of Moses by Gene Getz. Here’s an excerpt from the cover…

One of the most compelling of all biblical men, Moses was not unfamiliar with trying times of leadership or moments of intense self-doubt or sustained periods in the literal desert. As a man, he wrestled witht he assignment God had given him as he faithfully carried out his God-given charge. This study will teach you how to emerge from the smaller story to be a man truly empowered by God.

Here are the titles of the lessons…

  1. Paternal Action Required
  2. The Line in the Sand
  3. Ready…Fire…Aim
  4. Paralysis of Doubt
  5. Divine Confidence
  6. Image is Everything
  7. A Matter of Survival
  8. Love Hurts
  9. Life on the Edge
  10. From Desert to Glory
  11. Reality Bites
  12. Reality Bites Again
  13. The Human Part of the Equation

As always, this study is open to any man who would like to join other men each week to study God’s Word, pray and enjoy Christian fellowship.

If you have any questions about time, location, etc., please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 396-2676 or shoot me an email at DaleTedder@yahoo.com.

Blessings,
Dale

Join Our New Men’s Study

Our new men’s study starts next week. Here’s a description of it from the website

In this study you’ll look at some of the best Discipleship Journal articles on the topic of prayer, and examine Scripture passages that will help you develop and nurture a passionate prayer life. As you study and engage in the related practical exercises, you’ll learn:

  • The proper focus and attitude in prayer
  • The role of confession in developing intimacy with God
  • How to avoid distractions and persist in prayer
  • Common mistakes in how we approach God
  • How to handle the dilemma of unanswered prayer
  • The worldwide impact of prayer

Come and join us – either on Monday nights at 7pm or Wednesday mornings at 6:30. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 396-2676 or DaleTedder@yahoo.com.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

  • The role of listening in prayer, and more.