The Equation of Discipleship

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

John 3:30, NLT

Before our Lord appeared, John the Baptist had incredible popularity.  Thousands and thousands came to him as he preached in the wilderness of Judea.  However, when Jesus initiated His own ministry, people left in droves to follow Him.  Imagine having a wildly successful thing going, and the next day having it fizzle.

I have discovered that it is one thing to be the center of attention, and quite another to be a minor player.  John the Baptist was the MVP, but overnight he was sent to the farm team (baseball metaphor).  Men and women reach for center stage, to be in the limelight.  But very few can move in the other direction gracefully.

A conductor was asked what the hardest instrument to play.  The interviewer expected that it would be a saxophone or trombone or some other.  The conductor just smiled,  and said, “The hardest is the second violin”.

How great victory was that which Jonathan must have gained over himself, when he rejoiced to see David raised above him! He discerned the mind of God in David, and had so learned to delight in God, that he did not see in David one who was to outshine him, but another faithful man raised up for God and Israel.”   

 
–Robert C. Chapman
 
Jonathan understood who David really was.  He had a sense of who was to be the new king. He had a conviction that understood David’s destiny and giftings.  Jonathan turned his back decisively on being made king.  Ambition was not in his vocabulary.  He could rejoice with David. Knowing this, Jonathan became a free man.

We must not aspire to being a leader as much as learning to become a true follower.

The need at the moment isn’t so much better leaders, but stronger followers. Often we struggle with this, somehow we believe, we’ll become “second class” disciples if we submit to another’s vision or giftings. The way of true servanthood is difficult for many. But to be a real follower will often mean not to strive or assert, but to surrender. That’s the way of Jesus.
 
Thomas a Kempis counseled,

“Be desirous, my son, to do the will of another rather than thine own.”

  
That is an interesting place to find yourself.  But that is the need of the moment.  He must increase, become greater, and I must decrease, become lesser.  There can be no room for personal aggrandizement. 

We need people who know how to play second fiddle.

 
 

The Lamb’s Victory

Jesus will rule over every puny king and president.

He rules. He doesn’t bow, salute or kneel before any inconsequential king or constitution. They serve Him. He is eternal and supreme, and amazingly enough, He is a friend to every believer (that astonishes me!) He is an intimate King who is patiently waiting for us to hear Him.

As ‘broken believers’ we have to grasp this. It should totally revolutionize and adjusts the way we live. Our depression, disability or present pain will end soon. And we will step out of these things and step into an eternal light. My weaknesses will end, perhaps soon, and we will see the true King.

We will understand completely then. These things that have ‘crippled’ us will be seen through the eyes that now love and adore. Our ‘pain’ has finally ended, and we will be made whole. I will meet Him, face-to-face. You better believe I will rejoice! We will sing!

“He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.”
(Isaiah 25:8)

And He makes us rejoice! The difficulties I face now are temporary, and just a few short years (thank God!) Someday, quite soon, I’ll shed these hard, hard issues–just like a ‘snake’ sheds its skin! I will be brand-new, and I will rejoice in this Kingdom of my Father.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Hang in there dear one! I know it’s hard, and we can get confused and lost as we ‘meander’ through this world. Things are difficult and perhaps quite painful. Brokenbelievers has two administrators now, (Linda and myself.) Each of us has experienced ‘pain’ up close. Both of us hurt, and we both carry scars from every battle we had to face. The Holy Spirit hears our cries, and has come to our aid.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

Honestly now. We stand because He makes us stand. We still face formidable issues, and there is a savage enemy who has dedicated to destroy each person that cries out to God. He hurts us. He wants to destroy us. There is not an ounce of kindness or mercy in Him. He exists only to destroy. And he is very effective.

“As I looked, thrones were placed,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
    its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
    and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.
(Daniel 7:8-10.)

The Lamb does triumph. He will rule forever. Of that I have no doubt. Yet in the thick of things–these things that debilitate and destroy, we struggle. Our flaws and disabilities seem insurmountable. It’s awfully hard to make it through each day. We hang on, but often just barely. Our tears are real, and we wonder if we will make it through these things. And then there is tomorrow, and often that doesn’t look so good either.

But the Lamb wins! Those who surrender to Him (like you and I) share in this incredible Kingdom. He wipes away each ugly sin by His bloody sacrifice. He redeems every awful circumstance (things we have done, or have been done to us) and elevates us to sit over each enemy. We will finally understand, and we will really see. Most likely we will be shocked! We will see each other through the lens of eternity.

I don’t know your issues, your pain or your obstacles–and you don’t know mine really. But Jesus knows, and somehow He has carries us. The Lamb does triumph. We will share in His victory. And it will be for ever and ever and ever!

Your “waiting” brother,

Bryan

Contact Linda or myself at commentsbb@yahoo.com

The Kingdom is a Family on Their Way to a Party

Jesus prefers to use the ‘family’ as His methodology to help us grow in Him, Only family can capture the moment. God loves His children.

Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

 Mark 3:35

There is a hidden ‘process’ just lying in wait for us in this verse.  The fact that it is there at all borders on our sense of reason. To be a brother, or a sister to Jesus is almost absurd.  (And to be a mother is really pushing the envelope.)  This verse is a true wonder! Too good to be true for a rascal like me.

But it’s not how we see ourselves, it is how Jesus Christ sees us.  He sees us promoted and “and raised us up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6). Ideally, family– as it’s designed to be– is in a level of intimacy exceeding all others.  I have two younger brothers and in spite of not communicating for months we just ‘tune-in” to each other.  When we do meet, it is on the same wavelength.

I’m going to shift gears on you now.  I devoutly believe that the Kingdom of God, which includes the Church, “flows” through relationships between people.  Some believe it flows through a denomination, or other structure.  But it doesn’t.

The Kingdom connects and grows when believers have personal contact with each other.  The Church is not chiefly an organization– but it is an “organism.” I value my relationships, because they have life in them!  Are you trying hard to do God’s will in an area?  Try moving towards personal contact with another.  (I find that is often the way God leads me.)

Back to Mark 3:35.  “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”  This verse is not for everyone.  One doesn’t relate to Jesus on this illustrious level automatically.  The promise can only be triggered through obedience.  What we do is the evidence of what we believe.  (I told you it was too good to be true! :-) )  We ascend into family when we do God’s will.  There are no short-cuts to intimacy like this.

But there is no other way to a closer and intimate relation to Him.  I think this is true: He has no favorites among His children, only intimates.

aabryscript

Jesus is Our Centerpiece

The Gospel of John describes a wonderful image of the vineyard— branches and vine. This illustrates our relationship with Jesus.  We must abide and remain in him to be fruitful.  He is the vine, and we, we are merely the branches. He is the sole source of everything.

Notice the clear implications of John 15. (Come to Me, remain in Me, stay connected to Me.)  He didn’t advise or suggest we attend a seminar, go to Bible school, or attend a prayer meeting.

He said,Come to ME.”  He, and He alone is the one we are to center on. He insists that He is to be our total focus. There is no other (Matthew 11:28.)

This is either an egotistical religious fanatic intoxicated with His power and self-importance, or He really is reality.  C.S. Lewis comments,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.
He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

Jesus insists that we worship Him.  That much is clear.  I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.  I am the only way to the Father.”  And of course, “He who believes in Me has eternal life, and he who doesn’t is condemned” (John 14:6.) We just breeze through these verses and never truly grasp the ramifications. A mere man could not say these things (at least not with straight face) and be considered sane.

He either was what He said He was, or a liar or lunatic.  And we must decide who He really is. 

As believers we need to realize Jesus’ His rightful position.  The One who sits on the throne is the center.  All things derive their life, meaning and essence from Him.  We must not forget that He is the Risen Lord.  We need to realize that He has asked us to worship Him.  Point blank.

Many of our struggles come when we try to reduce Jesus to something less than what is real. If He really is the only way to the Father, we had better pay attention.

“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

–D.L. Moody

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