Category Archives: Converge – Discipleship

One Simple Way To Make a Lasting Difference

One thing

I desperately want to make a difference in the life of my children. I want them to flourish and live life to the fullest. I want them to know the truth so that they can be free and full in Christ. I want the same for all the people I love, including myself.

With so many competing voices in the world, I have come to firmly believe that one of the best ways we can make a difference is by having a statement (or a few) that we really believe, and say it over and over again.

As I reflect on my childhood, the statements that were said over and over are the ones that have stuck. Not all of those statements that have persisted have also impacted my life in profound ways, but they remain nonetheless. For instance, my dad would say often to my siblings and I: “You all are a three-ring circus at the world’s fair.” Though the meaning escaped me for a long time, it became a part of me. It’s ingrained in my brain.

One statement that I say every morning to my children as I drop them off at school is this: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!” (Ps. 118:24) I also try to frequently say this in times of mistakes and discipline: “There is nothing you do to turn me away.” Here is one more example: “We have to do what we need to to, to do what we want to do.”

So ponder the long-term implications of saying the same statements over and over. What if for the next ten years I declare daily to my children: “This is God’s day! He made it. Therefore, we can have joy in it because we know He is present and this day is no accident. Make the most of this day for His glory and your joy!” Then when my day of departure arrives and I go to be with the Lord, what will my family and friends say about me when they gather to celebrate the life God has granted? What will they remember?

I hope something like this: “Remember that dad always used to say to us Psalm 118:24. He did that because He wanted us to know that each day was worth living to the fullest because He believed that God had made it, and it was a gift to be used for His glory in Christ.”

If that is what they say when I go to be with Christ, then I will rejoice for all eternity that God has used me because I consistently proclaimed one glorious truth about God and how we should respond.

What is the one truth you say to yourself and to those you love everyday?


Our Philosophy of University Ministry

five group smith

Why doesn’t Eagle Heights have a designated university student gathering during the week? Why don’t you all do more free food? Doesn’t requiring membership keep people from serving? Why do you do what you do? Why are there some things that you don’t do?

Let me begin with a bit of personal background. I value being a part of a local church in a small town with a major university. I have been working with university students for almost twenty years either in a parachurch capacity (BCM – Baptist Collegiate Ministry), or as a local church pastor. It is hard for me to imagine being in a place where university students are not a regular part of making disciples.

But Stillwater has its challenges when it comes to pastoring a local church in a small town with a major university. For instance, there are a lot of parachurch ministries that are targeting university students, which means we have to figure out how to work with them –  or around them. With this in mind, here is what we do and why we do it.

  • We desire to partner with parachurch ministries, not compete with them. There are many (15+) Christian Parachurch Ministries on the campus of OSU that spend most of their time and resources specifically targeting university students. As a local church we support some of these ministries in various ways, including financially. Additonally, many of the staff and students who are committed to parachurch ministries also regularly attend our church. So instead of competing with them, we would rather partner with them to make disciples.
  • We want to be a biblical local church for university students, not duplicate the specialized efforts of parachurch ministries. Some of these parachurch ministries have mid-week worship gatherings and most all of them have a weekly Bible study. If we are supporting some of these university groups financially or otherwise, then why would we duplicate or compete with what they are already doing with our support?
  • We have something unique to offer university students while they are in Stillwater. I spent almost ten years doing campus parachurch ministry. I value groups like BCM, Student Mobilization, etc. The Lord used BCM to change my life. But groups like these are not local churches. Some of them act like local churches, but most of them don’t recognize biblically qualified leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-7), or practice membership and church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20), or acknowledge the biblical authority of the local church in the administration of the biblical ordinances. Parachurch is a designation that describes ministries that are coming alongside local churches to accomplish specific disciple-making tasks with specific groups of people. Besides what was mentioned above, one of the realities that often differentiates local churches from parachurch ministries is diversity. For example, the diversity of age that should exist in local churches is a strength when rightly understood. Young people need to know and learn from more mature people with life experience, and people who are more advanced in years need to know and learn from younger people who are often still full of passion and zeal. We intentionally try to be multi-generational in our approach to disciple-making strategies. We organize the way we do ministry to get people from different generations to build each other up. In other words, we don’t think our local church needs to be another affinity-based, age-specific parachurch ministry, when there are a lot of those already existing on campus. We want to begin to integrate university-aged people into the life of the church so they can know how to build up the body of Christ when they move on to the next phase of life.
  • We want university students to see and be committed to a healthy local church. To do this we emphasize church membership. Church membership simply means a person is making it publicly known that they are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, and therefore, they are committed to His people in a local body through regular attendance and serving,  and they are under the biblical authority of biblical leadership that is affirmed by a local congregation. Unsurprisingly, some people balk at the idea of church commitment because they are convinced it keeps people from the local church. But we believe church membership is a biblical means of discipleship, and that to lessen the level of commitment to “reach” more is doing a biblical disservice to those who claim to be disciples of Jesus. We also try to organize multi-generational groups that read the Bible together so that they can learn to value the benefits of generational diversity, while also learning how to make disciples in a local church context. We call these 5Groups. For most students, the local church is the next step for disciple-making community. Parachurch ministries need the local church for this reason.

Though our university ministry is very decentralized, we do have a Sunday Morning University Bible Study, a monthly university lunch, and a university spring break trip. By the way, almost all of these still have a multi-generational dimension to them. But primarily we are trying to help university students be a committed part of a healthy local church. One of our goals is that in participating in a healthy local church, university students would then go and be a part of what they have experienced with us. If that happens, then we would consider that a biblical win, and that is why we have chosen to do university ministry the way that we do it. It’s also the reason we have chosen to refrain from activities that are commonly associated with university ministry.


5Groups – Questions and Answers

This past Sunday we continued to discuss the application of our purpose and vision for Eagle Heights. We discussed the importance and priority of:

  1. The Large Group Gathering. This is the time that our local church gathers to proclaim the gracious truth of God’s word, and also to honor God’s word by hearing it explained and proclaimed for exhortation. We honor God by prioritizing gathering, singing, praying, fellowship, hearing God’s word preached and then going to the world to follow Christ in all of life. This glorifies God and we should not forsake this time (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  2. Core Groups or Small Groups. These are smaller meetings in which people can know and be known; love and be loved. These groups allow people to care for others and be cared for. Yes, there will be content and accountability to God’s word and each other, but this is the place for people to build relationships to share life. So if someone has a spiritual or physical need, this is the gathering within the larger gathering that should know of it first.
  3. 5Groups. These groups are called 5Groups because they will be five to six people in size and have five essential components. First, we expect all of these groups to have Bible-reading discipleship. God’s Spirit uses God’s word to shape God’s people for God’s mission in all of life, and so the Bible must be central. We want groups to read through books or sections of the Bible. Second, we expect each group to be multi-generational. We need the life experience of others. Third, we expect that there will be honest gender-specific sharing. Men and women are both created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), but God also created men and women unique and with that uniqueness comes strengths and weaknesses. We want men and women to be able share honestly about their specific struggles so that we can help each other follow Christ. Fourth, we expect committed attendance for a defined time. It’s easier to commit to something when you know the length of the commitment. Fifth. These groups are designed to be simple and reproducible. This is also why we want each group to have a defined length of time for meeting. We want to multiply courageous, Bible-reading followers of Christ in all of life. We want to raise up disciple-makers. Each group will be asked to plant new groups at the end of their time.

In response to the introduction of 5Groups this past Sunday, we received some questions and also realized there may have been some things we were not able to address. Here are some questions that were asked and some questions that may have been wondered but not expressed.

  • Why do we need these groups? Aren’t we already doing these things in Core Groups? Yes, in some ways we are doing similar things. However, the uniqueness of 5Groups is that they champion a multi-generational, gender specific approach to discipleship, which makes them different than our larger Core Groups. These groups are absorbing and streamlining much of what the men’s and women’s ministry have done in the past. Also, we think the smallness of the groups (5-6) will allow more men and women to participate because they can meet at times that are convenient for those who join a group. Additionally, we believe this is the best way to multiply Bible-reading disciples who can help others do the same. Multiplication is something that is not natural or easy for most people. We like to be comfortable and hold on to what we have. These groups are designed to multiply, whereas Core Groups often stay together longer for the sake of continuity. Core Groups are gender-mixed. 5Groups are gender-specific. All 5Groups read the Bible systematically. Core Groups do a variety of materials. 5Groups are for a defined time for multiplication. Core Groups are ongoing. Core Groups are harder to replicate because the leader likely has to be gifted at teaching. 5Groups are more discussion oriented with some direction from the facilitator. 5Groups are capped at about 6 people. Core Groups are larger and may not be as intimate and may not give other people a chance to participate. So as you can see, both groups have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they both are designed to emphasize different outcomes.
  • Aren’t we just attempting to program discipleship? Isn’t this just another thing to do? Yes. But what is a program? Isn’t it just a plan to do something? Unfortunately many programs become the end instead of the means. Or the program becomes a distraction to what is important because the organization is focused on running and staffing the program instead of thinking about what its purpose is. So yes, this is a program, but it is a life-on-life effort to get people to read God’s word, hear God’s word and honor Jesus by obeying all He commands. It’s also important to remember that this wasn’t born out of meetings, but out of life experience and doing it with people. We have tested these groups for over a year and believe them to be ready for full implementation.
  • What about all the other things we do? How do they fit? Everything we do should be done to make disciples for God’s glory. A disciple is someone who is surrendered to Christ in all of life and helps others to do the same. Whether it is Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, UPWARD, Celebrate Recovery, missions, community outreach or whatever we do; the goal is discipleship for God’s glory. This is how we love people because knowing and following Jesus is the only way to experience eternal fullness of joy. Ministries like Children’s Ministry and Celebrate Recovery are specialized ministries that help people to be disciples in unique seasons of life.
  • What about evangelism? Where does it fit? We will continue to do occasional events like UPWARD, Trunk-or-Treat, Experience Easter, etc. But the ongoing evangelism ministry of the church is for people to gather and be shaped by the gospel and then go into the world, making disciples of all men. “Wait”, someone might say, “I asked about evangelism!” Yes, evangelism is a part of the discipleship path. You can’t be a true disciple without being a real Christian. So we want people to be bold for Jesus in their neighborhood, at work, at Wal-Mart, etc. As a matter of fact, you could use One-to-One Bible reading that is modeled in 5Groups to share the gospel. These groups were not designed specifically for evangelism, but as a part of discipleship they can be used to do evangelism. As a matter of fact, they have been used by some to share the gospel in a non-threatening, exploratory way. Pray for relationships to go and speak of Jesus, wherever you are.
  • Can youth participate? We think it is great if youth want to participate in one of these groups, provided they are mature enough to have serious gender-specific conversations.
  • How do I start or get in a group? There are Connection Point events coming up in the next few weeks that will help connect you to a group. The Ladies’ Fall Fellowship on Sept. 11th, the With the Church Conference for university students Sept. 18-19, and Relationship Sunday Sept. 20th. If you are unable to make it to one of those events where they will be discussing 5 Groups, come to the Connection Center or mark your Connection Card to indicate your interest. If you want to lead a group, we ask that you first participate in a group before you lead one. We want you to be in a group and see it before you lead one. We ask this because we want to make sure that every group understands and emphasizes the 5 essential components. Here’s the rub though: these are new so we don’t yet have a lot of these groups, and on the women’s side of things, they are having to start from the ground up.
  • Please be patient. Because we are starting these from the group up, it will take time to have enough groups for everyone to participate. It may take years to get going full speed. But we are committed to a certain methodology to make sure the groups are fulfilling the purpose we created them for. So if you have to wait to get in a group, pray for patience and participate actively in the worship gathering and a Core Group and serve in the many other specialty ministries and occasional ministries we have going. Change and growth take time.

This is a work in progress and we will need to make adjustments, but we are committed to Glorifying God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all He commands. We will do this by: Trusting God’s Word. Loving God’s People. Living God’s Mission. Will you join us?

Replication is Probably Happening

This morning at our weekly men’s gathering we used an article by Michael Hyatt called, Leadership and the Law of Replication, as a spring board for some very challenging discussion. In summary, he argues that those we lead will be like us for better and for worse – even if we don’t recognize that it is happening.

And that’s why it is important to have some self-awareness and other-awareness. We have to know something of our own strengths and weaknesses and we also have to be willing to see them in others and recognize that it is probably a reflection of our leadership. This is especially true in parenting. Why do your children act the way they do? When you observe them, you are probably looking at a living mirror. And as one man pointed out this morning, that’s scary, and even cringe-worthy.

But how does replication take place? One of the most helpful moments of the morning was when we identified three ways replication happens. These observations primarily came from the opening story in the article that is posted above. Replication happens:

  1. By what comes naturally. What is it that we do that we don’t even know we are doing it because it is so much a part of us that we are like fish in water? What comes natural to us tends to happen over and over again. The question becomes this: “Is natural helpful or hurtful?” This is why self-awareness is so important; you are passing on something to those you influence and/or lead.
  2. By what is done consistently. What is done over and over again sticks. This is why repetition is a necessary component of teaching.
  3. By what is distinctly noticeable. Replication happens because something is visibly modeled that does not fit with what is normal. What do we do that sticks out to others? Whatever it is, it probably is being replicated – whether good or bad.

The potential trouble with all three of these means to replication is that they may not produce a desirable and virtuous outcome. So I offer four guardrails to protect us from ignorant and accidental error:

  1. Begin by asking what you hope to accomplish. What is your goal? What is the result you hope to see? What is success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need not proceed. Imagine deciding to build something without knowing what you want to build. That’s a recipe for frustration. 
  2. Have intentional processes. Plan to take actions that are noticeable and consistent for others to see. You may also have to eliminate some things that come naturally that don’t accomplish the intended end. For instance, if you desire responsive and disciplined children, don’t watch TV while eating potato chips for four hours a day.
  3. Seek to be self-aware. It’s a frightening thought that you could be passing on to your children or followers something that you are completely blind to. Ask introspective questions about yourself often.
  4. Embrace community and shared leadership.  The shortcoming of number three is that we really like ourselves and are therefore often blind to weaknesses that are obvious to others. We should invite trustworthy and wise people to critique our lives. When was the last time you asked your spouse what you could do better? What about a fellow leader? Also, by placing ourselves  in a committed community of people and by sharing leadership, our weaknesses can be minimized because the people who follow us see a diversity of strengths that no one person alone possesses. My sons, for instance, need to see other males who are acting like men so that they don’t conclude: “That’s just the way us Prentice men do it.”

If we hold any kind of influence with people then there will be replication. So consider this question: If people imitated me in everything I did, would I be glad?

Reasons People Quit Learning

God is infinite. People are finite. Conclusion: We will be learners forevermore – even when we get to heaven.

But it must be especially true that we are to be learners while on earth.

Why then do people seem to quit learning? Why do they seem to actively avoid learning instead of putting themselves in the path of it?

Here’s is an attempt to identify a few reasons that people quit intentionally learning.

  1. They have arrived. In their own mind there is nothing else to learn.
  2. They know enough. They realize that haven’t arrived but they have enough to survive or get by. Also, what is there to know since they have been to high school and college and they have gone to church all their lives. What else could they possibly be missing?
  3. They are ignorant. Given a topic or discipline, they don’t know there is more to learn. They think all there is to math is addition and subtraction. Life is more complicated than first thought but no one informed them.
  4. They are comfortable. In this sense they have arrived and there is nothing else to want except to not be inconvenienced by something going wrong. But of course it will and when it does they probably aren’t prepared.
  5. They are easily satisfied. Another way to say what has already been said.
  6. They are self-centered and they don’t know it. Ouch! They don’t know that when they quit learning they are not only blaspheming the infinite God who wants to be known but they are also hurting others with their passivity. Few people live on their own island. Learning is not just about us, it’s about how to interact and serve others. We may think a given topic doesn’t apply to our situation, but I am confident we know someone for whom it does apply. Am I able to encourage them or have I chosen not to because of missed opportunities?
  7. They are too lax. Life is urgent and we need all the tools we can get. If a person was going to war would they go with the bare essentials or would they take as many supplies as possible to meet the challenge of whatever may come? Eternity is a long time to regret a wasted life and I’m afraid many people will look back and say, “Why didn’t I learn more so I could do more?” There are no mulligans so live with a sense of urgency that every moment matters.
  8. They are ashamed and discouraged by present realities based on missed opportunities. I think this maybe one of the biggest in the life of the Christian. For example, if they were to  go to a marriage, financial or parenting class/weekend they might think they will only be discouraged when they find out they aren’t where they ought to be and maybe even want to be. They might be discouraged to find out all the things they should have been doing. They might be overwhelmed and feel as though they can’t change. And the tragedy of any of these is they are further paralyzed and things get worse because they are ashamed to face reality so they avoid any kind of enrichment and correction all together which further perpetuates the problem. These people are very hard to help and they need it the most.
  9. They despise correction. Who likes it? Apparently the wise man:  “Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.” Prov. 19:8b-9
  10. They need help. I feel helpless sometimes trying to help the unteachable, but they need help the most and we can’t give up – at least if we are going to live for Jesus and love others instead of being unteachable ourselves.
  11. They need the gospel. Jesus did not die for us sinners to leave us the way we are. Settling in sin is to make a mockery of the price of redemption. Jesus died so that we might live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24) and be controlled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We must always look to Christ and see what He has done for us so that we do not soak in shame or let others do the same. We must fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and never give up in our pursuit of learning and knowing the LORD God through Christ.

Have you quit learning? Don’t give up. God will make it known by death when you can quit learning on planet earth. Do you know someone who has quit learning? Pray for them. Gently poke and prod them with invitations and heart-felt concern. But don’t let them give up and don’t give up on them.

Life is too short and too important to quit learning and living for Christ.

Timothy Had Enough – Do We Need More?

“The Holy Spirit of God, in and through the word of God, establishes and strengthens the people of God.” David Helm

“God’s Spirit uses God’s word!” Mark Dever

What does a person need to advance in Christ-likeness; to move forward as a disciple?

We in the United States have so many resources and opportunities to facilitate gospel growth, and yet what do we have to show for it? In some cases there is much fruit to behold.

But we have many Bibles in many translations – do we need more when some have no Bible in their language? We have more books than anyone can read – except maybe Albert Mohler. We have instant access to the most gifted and successful pastors, leaders and speakers via the Internet. We have the best conferences and the ability to attend them. We have freedom to gather, fellowship, edify, teach and worship.

But are we any better off than the First Century Christians like Timothy?

Here’s a verse that jumped out at me as we have been methodically preaching through the book of Acts.

“Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, name Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman (2 Tim. 1:5) who was a believer, but his father was Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium (20 miles a part).”

What’s here that’s worth a blog?

Consider this: Paul, on the First Missionary Journey, came through Lystra around 47 A.D.  and preached the gospel. Timothy and his mother came to faith in Christ either during Paul’s mission through Lystra or shortly thereafter.  Paul then returned to Antioch and spent “a long time with the disciples.” (Acts 14:28) He then made a trip to Jerusalem (331 miles) to solve a dispute with those who said the gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Custom of Moses to be saved (Acts 15:1). After an undisclosed amount of time he came back to Antioch with Barnabas, Silas and Judas and stayed in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord (Acts 15:35). Around 49 A.D. Paul then decides to take Silas with him and go back to see the churches he planted on the First Missionary Journey.

Let’s suppose then that Paul returns to Lystra around 49 to 50 A.D. That means it has been anywhere from two to three years since Timothy has come to faith in Christ, and Timothy has not only come to faith in Christ but he has matured to the point that he is “well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.” Remember Paul was run out of Iconium by Jews and stoned in Lystra because of the Jews. It seems likely that Timothy and other believers would have faced some opposition for their faith (2 Tim. 3:12). But not only does he possess gospel-character, but Paul sees potential in Timothy and wants to take him as a disciple and partner for the gospel. Consider for a moment that Paul refused to take another young guy (John Mark) with him on the Acts 16 journey.

Paul hasn’t been to Lystra in over two years and Timothy has gone from a newborn Christian to a maturing disciple. What did Timothy have that would cause him to grow in this potentially hostile environment?

  • Timothy had the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). Timothy was indwelt by and empowered by the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11).
  • Timothy had enough Spirit-inspired scripture. By this time, Timothy might have had access to Paul’s letter to the Galatian Churches, which would have been written around 48 A.D. at Antioch (Acts 14:27-28). Additionally, he also had some of Paul’s apostolic teaching since it was Paul that planted these churches and strengthened them on his way back to Antioch. And finally, Timothy no doubt had at least some of the Law and the Prophets.
  • Timothy had the local church. On the way back through  the cities  of the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders (Acts 14:23). That is worth stopping and thinking about because it means Paul won some disciples on the way through and then on the return trip had enough time to disciple them to be able to meet the standard of 1 Timothy 3:1-7. But the main point is that Timothy had a prescriptive biblical leadership that is an authenticator of a true New Testament Church.

What else did he have? I don’t know. But I am certain he had these three basic things and my guess is that this is about all that he had and needed.

We have programs, curricula, facilities, conferences, podcasts, elaborate strategies, marketing and every other 21st Century Advantage you can imagine. We have redeemed much of the culture to engage the culture and yet I wonder if we are any better off. I wonder whether we aren’t distracted by many of things that are not essential. It may be true that a lot of our disciple-making endeavors are culturally missional and it may be true that they are not bad things and they may be even helpful things, but they are no good to us if we abandon the essential components of God’s plan.

Whatever we do in the Christian life to make disciples, we cannot forget that God gave us the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit in Christ. He gave us the scriptures and the apostolic teaching. He gave us the local church with gifted leaders.

It was that simple and it is that simple, and it seems to have been enough for Timothy.

I’m not against all the things we do today. As a matter of fact, I like a lot of it and have benefited from it. I just think we need to think long and hard about whether we are distracted from necessary biblical things by lesser things. God gave Timothy enough, do we need more?

Raising Men with 5 Fingers

Using a hand for memory, this is an illustration of the five values we are teaching our boys to help them become men.

  “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Cor. 16:13-14

John Wooden has inspired me to  impart to my sons memorable values and virtues. Wooden tells of the influence his dad, Joshua Wooden, had on his life by the way his dad lived but also by short lists that his dad consistently referenced in teachable moments.

For instance, Wooden’s dad had simple rules to live by which were organized into what he called “Two Sets of Three.” The first set was about honesty:

  1. Never lie.
  2. Never cheat.
  3. Never steal.

The second set was about adversity:

  1. Don’t wine.
  2. Don’t complain.
  3. Don’t make excuses.

Another example is the occasion of John’s graduation from elementary school when Joshua gave his son a two dollar bill and a list of “Seven things to do.”

The fact that John Wooden would remember and write about these things decades later, affirms how important they were for the formation of the person he became.

So here is our attempt (Lacey and I) to pass on to our sons values in a way that they will remember every time they look at their hands. We tell our boys that if they do these five things, they are then on their way to becoming men. I think in the future we will add another five (We’ll get some of these in later), but for now we have a good beginning plan that we can consistently use.

My encouragement to anyone who has small children, whether boys or girls, is to  start now and think of  memorable ways to impart truth to your children by repetition and association. Pray, think through the lens of the Bible, and begin to think about what it is you want your children to remember and apply. Don’t try to impart too much because when you try to say everything, you run the risk of saying nothing. Once you know what it is that you want your children to remember for the rest of their lives, say it and show it consistently.

Chronic inconsistency has to be one of the greatest barriers to the transmission of life-shaping truth. We must know the truth, but we must press the truth to our children with diligent repetition. We do this with the things we deem important. For example: “Look both ways before you cross the road.”

My hope is that this will help people to think of ways that they can impart Christ-like character to  their children for the glory of God. If you can use  our hand idea, go for it.

I Want to Know God in His Word; Where Do I Begin?

Yet again yesterday during the sermon I had to jettison some of the application to finish. We were thinking on the necessity of acknowledging and coming under the authority of God’s inspired and special word to us about who He is and what He wants for us. I had planned to share some directives or next steps for the person who might respond, “Alright, I know I need to come under the authority of God by reading and obeying the Bible, but where do I begin?” I have a strong conviction that with the help of the Spirit and some personal discipline, any person can read and understand the Bible in a way that helps them become like Christ Jesus. These steps will help a person wade into the Bible so that one day they might swim in the depths of the wisdom of God.

Eagle Heights Value: Biblical “The Bible is our authority for all we say and do.”

Doctrinal Foundation. The Spirit inspired the Bible (Acts 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16) so that we might be saved through faith in Christ (2 Tim. 3:15). So that we might not do the will of Satan (2 Tim. 2:26). So that we may be adequately equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17). The Spirit of God will use the word He inspired to accomplish these things in us.

Some Sobering Stats. However, A Lifeway Research Study Found that though the number one predictor of a person’s spiritual maturity is whether they read the Bible daily:

  • Only 16% of church goers read the Bible daily.
  • Only 32% of church goers read the Bible at least one time a week.
  • 25% of church goers never read the Bible.

“Satan’s program is to undermine the authority of the Bible in any way possible.”

 Someone might say: “I want to come under the authority of the Bible by reading it daily, but I don’t know where to start or what to do.”

Next Steps:

1.       Makes sure you have surrendered to Christ by faith. After all, the ultimate meaning of all of scripture is Jesus (Eph. 1:10). It would the tragedy of all tragedies to know, but not apply the answer.  Those who are saved are indwelt and empowered by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13). Those who are not saved cannot understand the Bible because they are not taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

2.       Determine to Read. Growing in godliness doesn’t happen by accident but rather by intention and effort.

  • Choose a book of the Bible. John is a good place to start.
  •  Start with a manageable goal. Determine to read for 10 minutes or to read one chapter per day.

3.       Read and ask the right questions.

  • Ask God for help. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” Ps. 119:18
  • Ask: “What did the Spirit inspire the author to mean?”
  • Ask: “What should I do about what I now understand?”

4.       Check yourself.

  • Purchase a reliable study Bible. I recommend the ESV Study Bible. Once you have asked God for help and read the Bible, the study notes will help you to check your conclusions.
  • Meet with someone to talk about how God is changing you through His word.

 “Biblical humility is not about uncertainty; it’s about submitting yourself to the word of God.” Justin Taylor

Converge – Week 4; The Disciple at Work

For our eight week summer study on Wednesday Night we are drilling down on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. After all, He commanded that we make disciples (Matt. 28:19). And who was He talking to at that moment? The disciples. So disciples should make disciples. But what does that mean? How do we do it? How do we apply discipleship to every situation of the lives we live? These are the questions we are looking at together. In week 4 we looked at being a disciple at work. Whether you work at home as a stay-at-home mom or whether you work 40 hours a week, we are called to be a disciple for our Lord (Colossians 3:23). How do we do that? These are summary statements for an outline, but if you missed the discussion and what more description and instruction, you can get all the content on our podcast at

Notes and discussion were provided by Elder Russ Ingram.

  • A working definition of discipleship: “A person who is truly saved by faith, wanting and learning to obey/follow Christ with all of their life, for the rest of their life, and teaching others to do the same.”

The workplace defined – Office, in the field, home office, stay at home mom, student, retired.

Who are you discipling (at work)?

  • Peers, subordinates, supervisors.
  • Children, family members.
  • Fellow retirees.
  • Fellow students.
  • Fellow church members.

How are you discipling (at work)?

  • Actively
  • Passively
  • Intentionally
  • All the above?
  • Romans 1:16

One of several ways to consider and/or evaluate how you are discipling: Some thoughts on your annual appraisal (if you have one).

How are you perceived and graded by others? Both formally and informally?

  1. Accountability – Colossians 3:23-24.
  2. Collaboration and Teamwork – Lev. 19:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 5:5-6; James 4:11
  3. Communication Skills – Acts 24:16
  4. Customer Focus – Matthew 5:16 – let you light shine before men.
  5. Decision Making – Romans 12:1-5
  6. Flexibility – John 13:34-35 – our heart must be right, Proverbs 3:5-6, our hearts must be in the right place.
  7. Job Knowledge – Philippians 4:13 – God will show you what you need to know, or who to ask and/or task with specific work.
  8. Leadership Skills – Humility, not pride (Deuteronomy 8:17-18; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:3-4), lead by example (Ephesians 4:29).
  9. Management Skills – Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 Cor. 15:58 – be steadfast in your witness.

Prayer –

  • Our example, Jesus: Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16.
  • What specific prayer do you lift up related to your workplace? Management, Team, Safety, Peers, Success.

Examples of how you disciple people in the workplace:

  • When you have succeeded, who gets the credit? God or Man?
  • When you fail, how do you react? Do you blame others or take responsibility?
  • Prayer – specific, verbalized prayer when someone is in need. (Note: follow up with those whom you’ve told you are gong to be praying for!)
  • Take someone to lunch – discover their background, religious upbringing, share what you believe in a non-threatening way.
  • Strive to know the spiritual condition of those who you work closely with (my team). Prayer at team lunches.

What do you do at work to make disciples?

Converge – Week 3; The Disciplines of a Disciple

For our eight week summer study on Wednesday Night we are drilling down on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. After all, He commanded that we make disciples (Matt. 28:19). And who was He talking to at that moment? The disciples. So disciples should make disciples. But what does that mean? How do we do it? How do we apply discipleship to every situation of the lives we live? These are the questions we are looking at together. In week 3 we asked what are the habits (disciplines) that a disciple does that helps them follow Jesus? These are summary statements for an outline, but if you missed the discussion and what more description and instruction, you can get all the content on our podcast at

Notes and discussion were provided by Steve Presswood.

Greek-to-English, (Grk. – Mathetes) = disciple. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary, mathetes (disciple) literally means “a learner,” indicating thought accompanied by endeavor. It denotes “one who follows one’s teaching.” A disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.

Some of Jesus’ most succinct teachings about what it means to be a disciple are found in the following passages. What do these passages teach about a disciple’s attitudes, aims and actions?

Luke 14:25-33

  • We are to love Jesus preeminently.
  • Jesus is the most important person in our life.
  • By comparison, every other relationship should be secondary to hearing and following Jesus.

John 8:31

  • The word of Jesus is central to being a disciple.
  • A disciple is not one who makes a decision but lives in response to God’s word.
  • This is a hard and lifelong work.

The mandate of Christ was that we follow Him. One of the common admonitions of the NT outside of the gospels was that those in Christ do what He did. It’s expressed in many ways. Among them is that walk worthy, that we live consistent with who we are in Christ, that we press on to maturity (Christ-likeness), that we suffer in the flesh in order to live for the will of God, that we walk in the same way Jesus walked-in obedience.

What a tall order! Is it doable? Certainly not perfectly but it is possible. The expectation is that we follow Christ to the point of maturity, to fruitfulness (see John 15:8).

What’s the process for growing to maturity? Jesus gave it in its simplest from in John 8:31. The process is to continue in His word, to practice what I call being an HBO Christian, meaning to continually…

  • Hearing.
  • Believing.
  • Obeying. – What? The word of Jesus.

Navigator Illustrations:

Discipline, or self-control or training, is required for spiritual growth and development as with any type of growth and development. Paul tells Timothy, his true child in the faith, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” (1 Tim. 4:7)

Disciplines are tools for training, resources for success and fruitfulness, helps for growing in Christ. Some of the tools used by those who hare growing in their walk with Christ:

  • Reading the Bible daily.
  • Praying regularly with a list.
  • Memorizing the Bible.

Don Whitney in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life recommends these as additional spiritual disciplines:

  • Worship.
  • Evangelism.
  • Serving.
  • Stewardship (Giving).
  • Fasting.
  • Silence and Solitude.
  • Journaling.
  • Learning.

For additional resources go to Discipleship Library.