Friday, 16 August 2013

It Matters

James 5:16

It's not a Bible verse that's spoken of too much but it's important nonetheless. We live in a day where almost anything goes and in an age of increasing anonymity and lack of accountability. I can look at what I want to, when I want to. More and more we're encouraged to behave like mini chiefs in a fiefdom. We're told we can order our worlds without any real concern for a wider family or community; that you are number 1.

You are king
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.                                                                                          -- James 5:16 
It's important we take this verse seriously. Important not only because of a Christian's call to be part of a community, but important because of the nature of sin.

We like to think of ourselves as free to be and do whatever we please but Jesus tells us that 'whoever sins is a slave to sin.' John 8:34

Sin enslaves

My pride tells me that I can do what I like when I like and that this is freedom, that I'm a king; but Jesus tells me that sin's grip traps me and holds me prisoner, that I'm a slave.

James' command to the church matters. It matters because sin kept in the dark grows, like bacteria but confession kills it by bringing into the light. Striking a match and shielding it with my hands protects the flame and allows it to grow. Bringing it out into the open into the elements extinguishes it. Hidden sin grows and as it does its power to destroy and cause serious injury to ourselves and others increases with it. Sin's fire exposed by confession is extinguished.

When I used to watch BayWatch (for lifeguard researching purposes only you understand) and people were rescued from the sea, CPR was performed. However before air could be blown into someone's lungs the water first needed to be emptied from them. When the lungs are full of water, oxygen can't help. Confessing sin empties from our lives the things that threaten to drown us. Once empty we can then receive truth, prayer and spiritual oxygen back into our lungs.

James 5:16 matters. It stops the bacteria of sin, the fire of sin and the ocean of sin from drowning, burning and polluting us.

Confess your sin to one another and pray for one another and you 'll be healed.

How you do it and with whom is up to you but for goodness sake don't keep sin in the dark and don't put yourself above accountability and reproach.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

dm: initiative



Disciple making involves several 'i's. If we truly believe that our calling as Christians is to both be a disciple of Jesus and to make disciples of others then it ought to affect the way we do life and the way do church. I'm passionate about us doing the Christian life together in a new way (which is really the oldest way around).

Several 'i's of disciple making are: initiative, inconvenience and intentional. Let's have a brief look at each one in turn:

Initiative

No one can live the Christian life for you and being a disciple is not a passive activity. By its very nature it involves an ongoing process of following and learning. Jesus told his followers to 'go and make disciples' and indicated the ongoing nature of being a disciple when he told them to do this by 'teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.' Teaching them implies an ongoing learning and applying and living out.

ed=dm means that 'ed' (every disciple) is to take initiative and demonstrate self-leadership both in the way that we are students of Jesus and in the way that we make students out of others.

We're not all expected to be entrepreneurial disciple makers who are forever coming up with fresh and exciting ways to help others grow in God but we are all supposed to use our God-given gifts to influence and invest in others, as part of the community of a local church. Phil Moore puts it like this:
Christian maturity isn’t measured by our talk but by our willingness to serve the needs of others. Straight to the heart of John, p260
Disciple making involves activity and it involves each one of us saying 'I'm going to take this call seriously'. It involves a praying, sharing, giving, attending, inviting and doing of life with other people. It involves us getting our diaries out and booking some things in. It involves us making the first move to spend time with others. It doesn't have to mean that we become busier with more activity only that we do the same activities in a new way.

Disciple making involves initiative taking. It involves some of the same stuff that motivated Jonathan to take on a Philistine garrison single-handedly on only a whim:
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armour, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”  1 Samuel 14:3
Taking initiative as disciples of Jesus means saying something similar to Jonathan here. It involves us saying 'it may be that the Lord will work for us (or through us)'.

I grew in God and stopped living a 'stuck' Christian life when a someone in the church I attended said to himself 'perhaps God will use me, maybe I've got something to offer' and he began encouraging me, challenging me and praying with me. My life changed because he took his call to be a disciple maker seriously.

How can you take initiative today to make disciples of those around you whether they're currently following Jesus or not? What can you do to love, lead and point people to Jesus? Disciple making begins the moment we start using our initiative and stop waiting for permission and stop waiting for someone to 'go first'.

ed=dm

Jez