Monday, January 25, 2010

Passing On The Torch

For the last few months, the Olympic torch has been travelling across Canada as it makes its way to British Columbia for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Torch bearers all across the country have carried the torch for a certain distance, and when they reach the end, they pass the torch on to the next person to continue carrying on the task.

It's like that for Christians as well, only we call it discipleship.  A disciple is a follower of a person, and in Christianity, that person is Jesus Christ.  It follows then, that Jesus was a disciple maker.  Each of the 12 He handpicked, in turn, also became disciple makers.  In order to become a disciple maker, we need to first be a disciple.  We can see this in other ways in our lives as well: parent/children relationships, coach/players relationships, teacher/students relationships, and the list goes on.  These disciple makers teach their disciples how to do what they need to do to fulfill certain roles.  The disciple maker role in the previous examples would be the parent, coach, and teacher; the "disciples" would be children, players, and students. 

In my small group/Bible study this week, we finished discussing 1 Kings 19.  The verses we looked at were from 15 to 21, which talked about Elijah passing on the torch (so to speak) to Elisha.  Elijah, the disciple maker, anointed Elisha, the disciple, to follow in his footsteps.  Elisha would be anointed as prophet to carry on in Elijah's place (vs. 16).

Normally, when the Bible is talking about anointing, oil would be used; however, in this case, Elijah used his mantle, or cloak, as a means to anoint Elisha (vs. 19).  By anointing, Elijah is giving authority to his successor.  This does not mean that Elijah lost his authority, though.  He was just elevated to another level.

By becoming Elijah's disciple, Elisha would be spending time with him, helping Elijah, or maybe doing things for the man (maybe he prepared Elijah's meals, for example).  We don't know at this point exactly what Elisha was doing, but we do know that he followed Elijah and became his disciple. He would, afterall, replace Elijah as prophet.

The thing about being a disciple, is that it doesn't always look as though we are learning.  A disciple spends time with his/her teacher, regardless of what is being done.  In other words, it doesn't matter what you are doing.  Remember the movie, The Karate Kid?  There is a scene from it where the teacher has the student waxing his car (the "wax on, wax off" line is famous).  The student thinks he is only waxing the car and doesn't understand that what the teacher is doing is preparing him.

When we are being discipled, it might not look like we are learning anything, but we are actually learning to be a disciple maker ourselves.  We see this in the New Testament with Jesus and his 12 disciples.  They spent time with their Disciple Maker, and by being with Him and doing what He asked, these men learned how to be disciple makers.  Jesus commissioned them to go into the world and make disciples.  However, if these men hadn't spent time with Jesus to learn how to make disciples, they probably wouldn't have succeeded in their commission.

It is like that with us today.  We might be a Sunday school teacher, an elder or deacon, a mentor to a youth - there are any number of leadership roles in the church.  In order for us to pass on the torch, we need to have our own disciples to teach so there will be someone to carry on the role, someone who knows what to do and how to do it.

Pastor J left us with two "questions with regard to being disciple makers, and I pose them to you as well.  Let me know in the comments section.

1. Who are you learning from? If you are not learning from someone currently, who do you seek to be with (someone you don't need to make an appointment to see)?

2.  Who are you going to "throw your cloak" over and let them be with you?  In other words, who are you going to disciple?

If you are unsure of the answers to the above, be sure to pray and ask God to reveal people for you to disciple, or to learn from.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Twenty One Days In - It's All About Him

I've been meaning to update this blog since my last post on January 1st.  However, it seemed like every time I sat down to write something somewhat meaningful, I couldn't find the words.  The other day, I even began a post about something inspiring I had read; but the words just didn't want to flow.  Hopefully, today's post will come without difficulty, and sound somewhat decent.

Monday nights I have Bible study.  I joined this group a couple of months ago, and I must say that I do enjoy going; the people in attendance are awesome.  At some point in December, we began a study on Elijah but had to stop after a couple of weeks due to the Christmas season.  This past Monday was our second meeting since we started back up after Christmas/New Years, so we continued discussing Elijah.

We focused on 1 Kings 19 this week.  Pastor J is in my Bible study group, and is leading this discussion.  He began by asking us to recall what James 5:16 said (...The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.), and then asked someone to read verse 17: "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months."

The focus (in our study that is) of James 5:17 was placed on the first part: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.  It seems difficult to imagine Elijah being like us!  Afterall, in 1 Kings 18 we read that Elijah called down fire from heaven during the competition with the prophets of Baal.  Have we ever done an act such as this?  More than likely, not.  So, how then was Elijah like us?

In 1 Kings 19, we read that Jezebel sent an oath to Elijah stating that she was giving him one day and then she was going to kill him, just as he had killed her prophets.  Elijah became afraid and fled quite a distance away, and came to rest under a Juniper tree (some versions say a broom tree) where an angel visited him and gave him food and water, and told him to rest.  From there Elijah journied up Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) were God visited him and asked him what he was doing there.

Elijah told God that he had been zealous for Him, and after all he (Elijah) had done, his life was in danger - that he was going to be killed.  God then told him to go and stand on the mountain while He passed by.  There was a great and strong wind, strong enough to cause the rocks to break off; there was an earthquake, and then a fire.  The Lord was in none of these.  After the fire, there was a gentle blowing.  It was when Elijah heard the gentle blowing that he covered his face and went to the entrance of the cave he had been in.

God asked Elijah a second time what he was doing there.  Elijah repeated what he had said to God the first time.  It was then that God gave a set of instructions for Elijah, which he then set out to follow.

Pastor J asked us why God had asked Elijah the same question twice.  One of the ladies replied that Elijah got the answer wrong the first time (and ultimately the second as well since it was the same answer).  Pastor J agreed with this and said that far too often, we tend to put the focus on us (I did this or that for the Lord, God bless me, Lord give me that, etc.) and we don't put our focus on what God might have in store for us. 

So, back to the statement of Elijah being just like us...there are times when we take our eyes off the Lord, there are times we put the focus on ourselves, we get afraid, and we run and hide like Elijah did.  When Elijah got the message that Jezebel was going to kill him, Elijah took his eyes off the Lord and focused on himself.  His reply to God's question of "What are you doing here?" was to answer with a selfish reply, making the answer about him (Elijah).  However, Pastor J stated that when we make the answer about us, God reminds us that it's not - it's about Him.  And that's what God was doing with Elijah - reminding him that it's not all about him (Elijah).

In my own walk, I find I am doing this very same thing a great deal lately.  I am putting the focus on me, worrying about my job (not getting much work), my personal life, my dreams and desires.  I'm not making it about God, but about me.  I need to listen for the gentle blowing, for God's voice, and find out what He wants.  Afterall, it is all about Him.

How do you make it about God and not about yourself?  What are some things you do or don't do to put the focus on God and take it off yourself?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

A brand new year is upon us.  It's hard to believe that it's 2010 already!  Where has the time gone?

Over the past few days, I've been thinking about resolutions.  You know, the promises we make at the beginning of a new year of the things we want to change or accomplish?  Well, I'm not overly keen on making new years resolutions.  The reason is because I never stick with them.  Yup, I'm one of those people.  To be fair, I do work at things for awhile and then for whatever reason (usually lack of motivation or forgetfulness), I stop.

I do have some goals that I want to accomplish this coming year, though.  So, I guess in a way, I will be setting some resolutions - no matter how I look at it.  Here is a list of what I hope to accomplish this year:

1.  Lose weight.  This is something I've been meaning to do for awhile now, but I want to lose a lot of weight by the summer.  I haven't set a goal of how many pounds yet, but that will be soon.  I want to feel and look healthy this year.

2.  Exercise.  That dreaded eight letter word that so many people dislike, including me.  However, since I want to become healthier (and lose weight), exercise is a key factor in accomplishing this.  I don't want to overdo things, so I will start of slowly.  I have an eliptical machine and will use that for the bulk of my winter exercise regime.  I also have a couple of yoga DVDs (one is for weight loss and the other is for people who are unflexible - basically to help get you more capable of doing yoga, lol) which I plan to use as well.  Once the weather gets better, and the days aren't too cold, I will add walking to the plan.

3.  Jogging.  I hear so many stories of how people ruin their knees from jogging, but I want to be able to jog long distances without fear of collapsing after 30 seconds.  I think the longest I can jog for is about a minute, and then I need to stop and walk.  That's not long, I know, but my goal is to increase that.  However, because I'm not fond of running/jogging/walking on ice and falling and breaking a leg (or worse), this will probably only start in the spring after the ice and snow have melted enough.

4.  Eat healthier.  Again, this ties in with the first goal.  I want to eat better foods - less of the fast food/junk food.  Included with this, would be to decrease my portion sizes. 

5.  Drink water.  I don't get nearly enough water consumption.  I drink lots of pop, and I know that's not good.  So, included in this goal is to wean out the pop so that I drink very little of it, and increase the amount of water I drink per day.

6.  Write a novel.  This is something I've been working at on and off for several years.  This year I want to focus on getting it written.  I will be tracking the progress for this over on my writing blog, Ink Scrawls.

7.  Grow in my walk with the Lord.  I want to get closer to God, to have a great relationship with Him and just do more for Him.

So, there you have it.  Some of my goals for the upcoming year.  I have a lot of changes for myself in store, and I need to keep motivated to accomplish things.  I also need accountability so I'll be working at that as well.  I've done these things before, in the past, and I know I can do them again.  But, it's going to take time and I need to remember that it's a long, slow process and none of these things will be accomplished overnight.

What are your goals/new year's resolutions for 2010?  Let me know in the comment section.