Day 20 – Service & Humility

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It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant

Matthew 20:26

 

Do you want to know what’s in your heart, for real? Do you want to see if you are cultivating others into disciples of Christ?

The secret is to server others.

In humility.

Call those you are helping with their Spiritual Transformation, to serve other people – specially people that are not like them – and to serve them in a humble way.

Put yourself in a situation to serve others. I’m not necessarily talking about the people you are already serving; you may already be way to comfortable  with them. You also need to be challenge to serve people form other cultures, always with humility.

When the human heart humbly serves others, it clearly exposes its priorities. Service also helps to expose the hope that is withing that heart, and its source of joy.

Wouldn’t you want to know?

Wouldn’t you like to take a look at what is inside your own heart, and inside the hearts of those you are cultivating into humble followers of Jesus Christ?

Then, step out of your own culture in service, for God’s glory and for the benefit of others,

 

For you to consider.

What is the biggest obstacle for this kind of service?

 

 

Day 19 – Not us

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But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

 

There are many things that go into making disciples. There is a lot of planing, resourcing, scheduling. And so many times all these layers of ministry could be a real distraction, a way to forget about what we are dealing with.

This is the work of our God. We are only the servants.

All the impossibilities presented in this chapter are resolved with one single statement : For God, there is no impossibles.

Of course, this is not an invitation to through our arms up in the air, declaring Lo Que Sera, Sera! On the contrary, this is an invitation to trust in God, and to be in expectation – even when everything else is telling us that He will not show up – to see Him in action.

Yes, all the planning and preparation and scheduling are important, and they do have their part in discipleship. But do not forget that what we are trying to accomplish, i.e. the restoration of our heart, and the hearts of those around us, back to God, is pretty much an impossible task.

An impossible task for us.

Not for God.

 

For you to consider.

What outcome from the discipleship process you are involved with, would clearly show you that it was God, and not you, who made it happen?

 

 

Day 18 – Smokescreens

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Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:21,22

 

It happens in the best of discipleship approaches. And it’s not particular to one stage of Spiritual Transformation or another.

We all do it.

Excuses to justify our incapability to measure up to God’s standards, with the sincere intention to make us look as good as possible and, at the same time, deflect as much guilt as we could.

Smokescreens.

In this chapter the Lord reminds us of the solution. We shows us how to remove those smokescreens, refocusing not on the performance we would like to emphasizes, but in the real condition of the human heart.

He focused back to His truth.

It’s all about His standard.

It’s all about His grace.

It’s about how much we really need him. For everything.

If we are real recipients of His grace, we wouldn’t be concern about trying to impress Him with our performance.

 

For you to consider.

How could you help others, when they make try to set up their own standards, replacing God’s? How have you been helped when doing that yourself?

 

 

Day 17 – Limited intimacy

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And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Matthew 17:1

We all want real, meaningful community; it’s the way our God has designed us.

We not only want it, we really need it. To have a close relationship with other human beings is a great sources of encouragement and support. It also provides reason and opportunities to practice what we believe.

Those kind of relationships come with a cost, however. Most of the time that cost translates into time; time to invest in listening, sharing, and building up. A direct result of this reality is the limited number of this kind relationships that can, truly, be developed. It’s not that I’m against having a whole lot of people in either your Target Group – those who you are serving – or in your Support Team – believers serving along side with you. What I’m saying is that you must be strategic / intentional developing certain relationships, with the idea of going even deeper in the path of Spiritual Transformation, in your own heart, and in the heart of those few.

Even if you are very social, thriving in a context where you have many opportunities to interact with others, it would be wise to consider how to develop closer, more personal connections with a specific, smaller number of individuals.

Limited intimacy is not a bad thing, and in the long haul maybe the best way to invest in the expansion of His kingdom.

 

For you to consider.

The busyness of ministry can prevent you from developing deeper relationship with some of the very people you are serving. How can you prevent that from happening?

 

 

Diversity, even in opinions

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A culturally diverse setting can manifest itself in many different ways; it’s not limited to nationality or ethnicity. Even if you are making disciples among Hispanic Americans who came to the US from the same country, you still can have a diverse setting. How? Just ask their opinion.

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Day 16 – Going Deep

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Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”… Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:13,24

 

Discipleship is more than a transfer of knowledge. So many times it requires asking pointy questions, questions that help to expose what really lies beneath the surface.

Following our Lord’s example in this passage, those questions should direct, precise. And, being very honest, sometimes they will be painful.

But these kind of questions have other benefits, also. Among them is the fact that they work as good indicators of how deep the relationship between you, and those you are serving really is.

It’s not easy to ask these questions if you and those around you do not enjoy a deep relationship; a relationship based on trust, and mutual respect.

What you do with the information exposed by the answers will affect the way you all related to one another. So, point them to Christ! Point them to the hope of the glory that is to come.

It will hep you to go deeper with them.

 

For you to consider.

  • Is there any obstacle for you to ask these kind of questions?
  • How could you be sure you are asking the right things, for the right reasons?
  • Do you know what to do after your questions are answered?

 

 

 

The organic side of making disciples

Opportunities to disciple can happen at any time, and we must be ready to take advantage of them. It is specially important to be sensitive to such opportunities when they take place outside of our formal time, outside of the scheduled meetings when we know we are going to be cultivating people’s heart.

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Pursuing your passion, even when you don’t want to

Well, I wasn’t planning on continuing with any classes for the kids, this Spring, but a conversation with the chief of police changed my mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love teaching those kids. It was that this time I wanted to do something a little bit more mainstream, something more culturally accepted, specially among Hispanic Americans.

Honestly, teaching topics like chess, computer programming, robotics, and model rocketry are not always regarded as traditional Hispanic themes… Not even by Hispanics!

The chief of police would like to come, play some chess with our students, and use the event as a way to connect with their parents. The need for this kind of forum, where city officials and our people can sit and talk, is real. Our congregation is blessed to be a resource to both parties, in their desire for a better understanding of each other.

So, here we go again; we are now planning the next season for our C3 Academy.

Yes, the pursue of your passion is fundamental for disciple-making among Hispanics, but being sensitive to the guidance of God the Holy Spirit is even more important. Don’t forget, in all this your own heart is also being cultivated to humbly respond to God’s guidance.

 

For you to consider

  • Normally, what is your response when God calls you to serve in a way you have not planned?
  • What does that say about your own Spiritual Transformation?

 

 

Never at expense of the truth

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I was about to teach a class on the particular theological tenets our denomination embraces. As always, one of my goals was to provide an environment where cultural diversity could be expressed. This, of course, came with the risk of different opinions – fueled by cultural differences – getting out of hand. My fear was beyond just having a hard time controlling the discussion; I was afraid of loosing some of my students because of their rejection to the truths I was planning on presenting.

See my dilemma?

Should I wait until my students were ready for the heavy theological concepts included in our standards, giving diversity a higher priority? Should I be, to some extend, inflexible and march  on without deviation from my study plan?

The good news is that it is possible to do both. Empowered with God’s grace, you can preserve a discipleship environment where cultural diversity is welcomed and celebrated and, at the same time, the truth can be clearly presented without excuses.

We want a culturally diverse environment – which will come with many different opinions, and ways to offend one another. Such an environment should never be more important than the truth presented with grace.

In this kind of discipleship environment, people will appreciate your love for them, because of the opportunities you are providing for them to express what they really believe. At the same time, they will also be able to recognize your commitment to the truth.

A culturally diverse environment, fueled with God’s grace, can really be that powerful.

I personally experienced it first hand : no one left after I taught that class.

 

Call to action

Consider these questions:

  • When making disciples, What is your biggest fear?
  • When making disciples, How easy is it for you to present the truth and, at the same time, show God’s grace for others?

 

When community brings pain

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Here I am, waiting for the worship service to start, going over a final review of my notes for the sermon I’m about to preach.

But I’m not at peace. I know a family that is not coming to worship, today. I know of a family that is in pain, and instead of getting closer to His church, they have decided that the best course of action is put some distance between them and His body.

It never gets easier. As we get closer to our Lord, and to one another, this kind of events become more and more painful.

Maybe is my age; I may be getting old and sentimental.

But it may also be that life in community is supposed to be be like this. The process we follow to make disciples among Hispanics, calls for a constant development of closeness. We are constantly cultivating humble followers of Jesus Christ. This means that w areas fee also growing closer to one another, making us more sensitive to common joy, and to share pain.

I’ll miss them today, at worship. But I’m hopeful, because I know that if they are in my mind, they are also in God’s hands.

He will not forget about them.

And when they return to be among His people, the real sense of community we have developed will provide the grounds for a joint rejoicing celebration.