Was it Worth it? (NPL – Part 10)

I’ve been describing the struggles of our transition as we pioneered in a new ministry. Many others were going through this transition and we joined them in the “move out west.” But before we go any further I want to answer the question; “Was it worth it?”  Although the trail looked nothing like we imagined I would say it was more than worth it! Jesus has done some incredible things along the way and by no means have we reached the final destination. 

God was calling us to San Antonio, Texas with a big vision; 2020 by 2020 – 2020 disciple-making groups and/or churches by 2020. When we got to Texas we started a ministry on Fort Sam Houston and it looked very similar to what we had always done. Our Bible study went from five soldiers to thirty-five in the first four months we were here. But through the chaplain’s sermon, unbeknownst to her, I heard the Holy Spirit asking; “Do you want this post or do you want the city?” I said, “The City!” So we moved off post. We started partnering with some folks who wanted to see the city reached for Christ and planted a church with Brett and Abigail Wilson, John and Janelle Williams, Nacho and Sara Pecina, Bud and Denise Abbott, Jason Ross, and Ben Hanna. We called it the “Timothy Church.” It was twelve people strong. In our first two years we trained over 50 local pastors and saw 111 groups and churches using the disciple-making and church planting principles we were learning. As we grew in confidence and competence most of the Timothy Church members started training others in different countries.  (Some were already training in other countries) We were making disciples and planting churches all over the world. Not all those groups and churches lasted. Not all the people we trained stuck with it. Not all the “converts” continued in discipleship. But now, six years later, the leaders in that church are still working hard to reach the city and beyond. 

Deb and I began to assist the Sundells around the US and overseas. We trained in Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, France, Ecuador, and Japan. The Abbotts joined us in our adventures. We were coaching and advising disciples of Jesus who had a heart to reach their own people with the gospel. During one of the trainings in Athens, Greece we were challenging the practitioners to pray and ask God for some big goals to reach their people. I was sitting in the back, kind of day dreaming and I had checked out because I was a trainer, and I didn’t need to pray and set any goals, right? Yeah, right! Of course, I snapped out of it and started praying. Once again, the Holy Spirit was speaking; “Do you want San Antonio or do you want the world?” That sounds crazy doesn’t it!? But that’s the deeper waters Jesus was calling us to. I said, “The World!”

We started seeing the online influence take off through Facebook, YouTube, and Video Conferencing. There would be online meetings where we would have 4-5 continents represented in so many time zones that one participant shows up at 1 AM. Thousands of people are sharing the gospel and making disciples. Many leaders are taking the training we put on video and running with it in their own cities and countries. Deb and I were influencing people for Jesus’ kingdom on six of the seven continents (and if the penguins would have listened, we would have Antartica too). We spent one hour with a couple from the Ukraine casting vision on the importance of church identity and they went back and planted 4000 churches. Let’s pull a “Addison” and cut the number in half because people tend to exaggerate. Ok, that’s 2000 churches! We’ve heard of 30,000 baptisms in Africa, training in 6 Balkan nations, 2000 Irainians reached for Christ, or even one Japanese person coming to Christ every week in some of the hardest soil in the world. Again, cut the numbers in half and it’s still amazing and that’s the tip of the iceberg. And Deb and I can’t take a bit of credit for any of it because we did it as a team and we just pointed people to Jesus and threw gas on their fire.

But I have saved the best part for last. Through all of this my relationship with Jesus as grown sweeter than it’s ever been. My prayer time is the best part of my day. I’ve seen things in the Word that has absolutely blown my mind. I saw things in my life that needed to change and He was giving me the grace to transform. You know it is not perfect but I’ve seen some of the “disciplines of the Christian life” turn into the “delights of the Christian life.” Walking with Jesus is the best part of this whole deal and if I had to do it again, I would, every bit of it.

This sounds like a big “Bragamony” and it is. I’m bragging on Jesus. He is the one Who has done every bit of this. As Dallas Willard used to say, “I was burning through grace like a 747 airliner burns through jet fuel.” Was it worth it? Oh yeah! And remember, it all started by saying “Yes” to Jesus and pushing through the challenges. Amazing grace, how can it be, that Thou my God should use a wretch like me. Thank You Jesus!

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15.1-5)

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29.11-13)

Do you believe that Jesus wants to use your life for His glory and to advance His kingdom? Are you willing to be pruned by the Master in order to see more fruit? Will you stay the course even during the tough stuff? Are you willing to give the credit to Jesus as the Vine and you are just one of the branches?

From a Wife’s Perspective – Interview with Deb (NPL – Part 9)

CHUCK: So we are going back to the beginning when we first started movement stuff, and what it looked like to you as a wife and a teammate. Let’s talk about Steve Addison’s book, Movements that Change the World, and how that impacted you.

DEB: I think Steve’s book was one of the first non-fiction books I had read in a long time. Actually, that’s not completely true. I had read a couple of books on discipleship. You were pretty fired up about movements but I don’t think I really knew anything about movements. I mean maybe I did, but I didn’t really like know, know. 

CHUCK: When I started talking about these things and doing a little bit of experimenting what were you thinking?

DEB: Well, I think the biggest change for me was when you started sharing the gospel all the time. You were pretty bold talking to strangers before but actually sharing your faith was different. Now you weren’t just talking to strangers in random conversations. You were inserting the gospel. That made me a little uncomfortable, I mean we had been sharing the gospel when we would go to chapel and then invite people to lunch and share. But now you were sharing the gospel “out in the wild” so to speak. 

CHUCK: There was actually a point where I started dropping you and our son off at chapel and I would go and share the gospel. What was going through your head in that season?

DEB: I’m not a big “change” person. I always went to church on Sunday mornings. Even when we were on vacation we would do a family church service together on Sunday mornings. So just to throw that out the window didn’t feel super great to me.

CHUCK: How did I treat you during that period of time?

DEB: Oh, you were fine with whatever I wanted to do. You’ve always been very patient and not pushy. Even when we knew we were moving to San Antonio and you’d say, “Yeah, we’re going to go plant churches in San Antonio” my response was, “Don’t say that so loud, it sounds weird.” Because I was afraid that people in their minds were thinking that we were going to plant traditional churches. That wasn’t our intention but nobody had the framework for anything other than that so it just sounded weird. It sounds crazy.

CHUCK: So we started experimenting with storytelling and sharing the gospel up front with people. When did you start “liking” what we were doing?

DEB: I really liked the storytelling part, especially when we were going through head, heart, and hands. When we incorporated the heart, the emotions, it was a big big shift for us because most of our focus was always on the intellectual, logical, and knowledge. But when we started connecting to the heart it really changed things. We would ask the question, “How do you think Zacchaeus felt?” or “How do you think Jesus felt?” It was like, “Whoa, I’ve never thought about that before!” And “How does this story make you feel?” No one had ever asked me how a story in the Bible made me feel! I remember telling a gal the story of Zacchaeus and she was getting emotional about it. She teared up. So, it was like wow, talking to people about God’s Word and seeing that bring out emotions a lot of times.

CHUCK: There was a little bit of push back on talking about heart stuff. 

DEB: {Laugh} Yeah, that’s kind. There was a lot of push back from some believers and no push back from non-believers. 

CHUCK: How did we deal with that?

DEB: I think that was surprising to me. I remember we had a group and we were telling the story and were going through head, heart, and hands. And the guy that was leading the discussion was a believer. When it got to the part about heart and the emotions he literally lay down on the couch like he was in a psychotherapy session making fun of the fact that we were going to be talking about emotions. The ironic part of it was everyone else in the group were females. He just communicated to a room full of girls that it’s not cool to talk about your emotions. And number two, he obviously didn’t like this method. I remember thinking, “Why do we have to be that way? Even as believers. Why do we need to pushback when it’s not your thing. Why do we need to be so passive aggressive? We’re on the same team.”

CHUCK: You found yourself in an interesting tension at that time because people were scrutinizing me but you weren’t fully convinced yourself. How did you deal with that tension? 

DEB: I was uncomfortable with what you were doing but I wasn’t going to throw the baby out with the bath water. 

CHUCK: Did our experimentation ever cost you a friendship?

DEB: There was a time where I went to dinner with a friend. We had been friends for a long time. As we were wrapping up our conversation we got on the topic of church. She asked, “Why do you feel like you have to call what you’re doing church?” And all a sudden, I said to myself, “This is the end of this relationship. This is going to divide us.” My response was “I don’t know. I don’t even understand, myself. I just know the Bible calls it church so we’re just going to call it church and see what happens.” I was not defensive and I was almost empathetic to what she was saying. But to this day that person has never reengaged with me. I felt sad because she was a good friend.

CHUCK: Were you prepared for any of the experiences of those first days?

DEB: Jesus did tell you this was going to cost us. It was shocking and it was very very puzzling but because of the warning, because Jesus had given us a heads up, I understood, “Oh, this is what God was talking about.” 

CHUCK: So we’ve been doing “Crazy Church” for about ten years now. I think the thing I’ve liked the most is being able to hit the reset button and start over again with just the Scriptures. How about you, how are you feeling now?

DEB: Yeah, I feel a real sense of freedom. I mean like it was a lot of tradition that I felt bound to. Now we are free just to do what the Bible says and do it without the weight of culture and tradition. I love our church. It’s small but super simple. We even have the kids leading sometimes because it’s simple enough that they can do it. I really like the fact that we are majoring on actually trying to do what the Bible says rather than just talk about what it says. And I like the fact that everyone in our church is sharing the gospel.

CHUCK: What would you say to wives where their husband is kind of off the chain in this movement thing and they’re kind of going a little bit crazy?

DEB: Well you’re a team and you are the perfect helpmate for your husband. If your husband tends to be a little more apostolic, you’ve probably come to expect a little craziness from time to time. There are going to be some shifts and some of them may be major. And instead of getting a huge bucket of ice water and throwing it all over your husband and his ideas, listen and wait. Even if I thought it was a bad idea, I just had to watch and see what would happen. Pray and ask God about what He is doing. If it’s something that’s kind of weird, wait and see. Wisdom is vindicated by her children. And if it’s not something that God wants you to do, don’t start nagging your husband. I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is a better nag than I will ever be. He’s the one that needs to change our hearts. If it is something we need to do as a team, than He needs to change my heart.  

CHUCK: What would you tell husbands?

DEB: Well definitely being patient and going slow, not being a bull in the china cabinet. Bring your wife along when you’re doing things. When we see families doing this together the wives really buy in, so to speak. We had some friends who recently did a training in their city and one of participants, a wife of a husband who was all fired up, came to the training but was very reluctant. She did not want to be there at all. But the first hours of the training each day was an hour of prayer and then they got into the Word. After a couple of days of that, she started to understand and became enthusiastic about what she was hearing. Even other people that knew her, were like, “Who are you and what have you done with our friend.” She had totally changed her mind and took on the identity of the Priesthood of the Believer. I feel like a lot of wives, especially if their husbands are crazy experimenters, feel left out or maybe left behind a lot. So when you show them in the Word that everybody is commanded to do these things, everybody can make disciples, everybody can baptize, everybody can be the priest, whatever the “priesthood” elements are, everyone can be engaged in all of this. That just allows so much freedom. I think because our Christian culture doesn’t allow women to practice the “Priesthood of the Believer”, they feel left out. In some ways, when you empower them, women get excited and get on board a lot faster. 

CHUCK: Let’s flip it around. What if the wife is the movement go-getter and a husband feels left out?

DEB: That one’s hard because I’ve seen it happen where the wife is the ministry person and the husband is more in the background. In most of those cases the husband is supporting and enabling the partnership. But if they’re against what you’re doing it’s a little more tricky. Now you have to trust God with changing his heart. That’s the biggest deal in my mind. And that could be the bigger miracle, watching God change his heart. Just do as much as God and he allows you to do under the circumstances and pray. When we see it as a partnership, regardless, husband and wife are doing this together, it makes a huge difference in the amount of multiplication that happens. In the same way, when the whole family is in it together. When you have your kids drawing their relational maps with their buddies at school and everybody’s thinking the same way, that creates a whole different dynamic than if just one person in the family is doing it. 

CHUCK: Hon, thanks for going on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” with me. Thanks for being a woman of faith and a great teammate! I thank Jesus for you.

Drinking the Cup (NPL – Part 8)

It was 6:30 AM on the 31st of March, 2011 and I was minding my own business and spending time with Jesus at my desk. I was crying out to Him in both the agony of our present reality and the exhilarating possibilities of what could be. I was sitting smack dab in the middle of the Divine Tension. I wanted to see a movement of the gospel but I was certain it wouldn’t happen without a miracle from God. So I was praying. And then the Still Small Voice spoke with unmistakable clarity. “Are you willing to follow Me down this road?” I immediately said “YES!” But the next part of the message was a warning. “It will cost you everything. Your reputation, your position, your ministry, your finances, even some of your closest friends and family. Are you willing to follow Me down this road?” And I said “YES.” 

Now before you start putting me on the pedestal of spiritual heroism, think about two other knuckleheads that said “Yes” to Jesus.

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. (Mark 10.38-39)

Jesus told them they didn’t have a clue and neither did I. I’m pretty sure, like the disciples, I had visions of grandeur, leading a movement of God to conquer the earth. “Oh yeah, let’s get this party started!” 

I thought I was in a storm before, please. I was in the kiddie pool getting a little water splashed in my face and crying to my mommy (well, my Daddy). And now here I was signing up for a small boat in a Class 5 Hurricane. And it happened. I had to stop talking about aggressive evangelism, multiplying disciples faster, and planting churches with folks I had been in ministry with for 30 years because it was so divisive. I was rocking the boat so much I resigned and completely left our legacy organization (which cut our finances by one third). We started receiving “friendly fire” from all directions, even from many people I didn’t know (and didn’t know me). I was trying things in ministry that were kind of working but certainly not of the “movement clip” I longed to see. I was being confronted with truths from the Scriptures that I had missed and feeling ashamed and repentant. I started losing the function of my legs and hands and I was misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which would later be diagnosed as a slow form Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). I could go on but it will start sounding like an organ recital: “Oh my lungs, Oh my kidneys, Oh my heart, etc…” It was by far the most painful time of my life (and I’ve been through some pretty tough stuff). But Jesus was with me the whole time. Some times I felt like He was taking a nap in the back of the boat but He was always there with me in the middle of the storm.

One of the stupidest things I think the disciples ever said (and sometimes we think) was; “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4.38) What!? They were in a storm to be sure but no need to accuse God of not caring! Oh, He cares! And that my friends, is my Anchor and yours in the tough stuff of life we will certainly face when we follow Him. And especially when He calls us to the deep end of the pool.

Change Happens When Enough is Enough (NPL – Part 7)

Caution: You may have been a part of the history I’m about to describe. My intention is not to open old wounds but to explain how I was feeling and how to avoid some of the negative outcomes as people navigate their way between Legacy and 0-1 forms of ministry. Deb and I spent a lot of time last year connecting with those whom we thought we offended and apologized for anything we did that hurt or created disunity. We don’t want to undo any of that reconciliation so please do not take any of this personally. And for the reader who was not part of the history, please do not hear me pitting Legacy against 0-1. Both are the Bride of Christ and both have merit (and weakness). I am a pioneer so this is written from a pioneer’s perspective. But I believe in a “Both/And” mentality.

I was seeing enough, reading enough, and feeling enough that I had “Had Enough!” I wanted to see the kind of ministry that would multiply disciples as quickly as I was reading about in other countries and I was going to change no matter what the cost. I went on a six-month reading binge. Every author that was talking about reaching lost people, I devoured. Then I stopped and read nothing but the Bible for six months to validate what I was reading in these other books. I especially paid close attention to how well what I was hearing from others was matching up with the Master. Jesus was (and always will be) my gold standard. Then I went on another reading binge for six months and then another fast from other books and read only my Bible for six more months. 

But don’t picture in your mind that I had become some Poindexter with my glasses halfway down my nose with a milky white complexion stuck back in the recesses of some moldy library. Oh no! I was putting these principles into action. I enlisted the help of one of my friends, Jim McKnight and my wife Deb, and we started experimenting. In fact, we called it the Great Commission Experiment. As people who had known me for years watched at a safe distance, I was blowing things up. I was like their weird old Uncle Chuck mixing chemicals in the basement and they didn’t know whether I was cooking up cocaine or a cure for cancer. We ticked a bunch of people off, hurt some feeling, and looked like heretics. We were trying the principles piecemeal and it was a huge failure. 

This is a crucial lesson on working in a Legacy Church or Organization. When you’re experimenting, it’s like putting on your big coat in a very crowded room. You’re bumping and poking, slapping people in the face with your coat and saying “excuse me” every two seconds. It’s not very fun for you or the people in the room. So I had to leave the room and get some space. I had to start over from scratch. Perhaps I could have done both by starting a “Skunk Work” on the side but to be honest, I didn’t have the capacity to do both. I decided to go Zero to One (0-1) and to start all over again. We shut down the website, the Facebook group, and balled it all up and threw it in the trash can and I resigned from my position as a leader in that organization. And if I had to do it all again, I would, but I would do several things differently.

  • I would apologize upfront and tell folks they need to stay at a safe distance
  • I would assess whether or not it was feasible to do a “Skunk Work” on the side
  • I would explain my convictions to the leadership and that I needed space and freedom to experiment
  • I would not leverage my leadership to go on a massive recruiting campaign
  • If it was not feasible to do a “Skunk Work” in the Legacy Church and/or Organization I would ask to be sent out as soon as possible
  • I would resign as soon as I saw my presence was causing division for the greater flock
  • I would start from scratch (or almost scratch)

But remember there are two sides to this story. I’m sure from other’s perspectives it was just as frustrating for them. So I’m not going to claim I was squeaky clean through the whole process and had some kind of moral high ground. I did some things and said some things (and certainly thought some things) that I regret today.  But as painful as all that was, we learned some great lessons from the experiment that would determine our trajectory for the next decade. I kept going because I really felt Jesus was calling me to a new work. I also believe more than anything else He was testing my loyalty. It doesn’t mean people that didn’t agree with me weren’t loyal to Jesus. No, it was about my loyalty. I had to choose.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9.23-26)

Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21.20-22)

More about the choice in the next post…

The Book that Changed My World (Again) (NPL – Part 6)

Back to that meeting where the Holy Spirit had me pinned and Jesus counting to ten. As I was sitting there, once again convicted to the core, this guy who had asked the question that started this whole brew-ha-ha was waving a book in the air called “Movements that Change the World” by Steve Addison. He gave the book to one of our leaders sitting next to him and then we went on break. I followed my colleague into the restroom with full intentions of mugging him and stealing the book. But it didn’t have to come to that because when I politely asked him if he was going to read it, he simply gave it to me. I was resolved to do three things; 1) Repent 2) Read the book and 3) Start sharing the gospel more! I set a goal; “I will share the gospel every day for seven days.” I would go down to the street corner in Highland Falls, New York and share the gospel with the druggies, prostitutes, and pimps. I became known as the “Old Crippled Religious Guy” and I really became friends with those folks. I loved them and they loved me. Seven days turned into two weeks, turned into months, turn into six months, turned into a year, which turned into a lifestyle. And you know, I didn’t personally see many people come to Christ but I did see one major conversion. It was me! I was radically transformed by the gospel. I’m not saying I wasn’t a true disciple of Jesus before but I had gone through an incredible transformation personally. Often we view sharing the gospel as an exercise that will benefit the hearer and most certainly that is our great desire. But we should never underestimate the benefit to the proclaimer as well. And Steve’s book was just pouring gas on the fire. I was starting to see things through a different lens and my eyes were being opened to kingdom principles I hadn’t unlocked before.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5.37-38)

And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13.52)

I had become a new wineskin again. I was open, pliable, flexible, teachable to new things. All of a sudden I was sucking down milk like a newborn and I couldn’t get enough. And it wasn’t like the things I had learned before were all wrong. Nope! It was a 30-year foundation in THE BOOK, reading and studying every day that connected some dots for me that I had never seen before. The book that changed my world wasn’t Steve’s book, it was the Bible. But Steve’s book was certainly challenging my thinking and motivating me to go back to the “Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Act 17.11)  Are you reading the Scriptures daily to align your thinking with the Father’s? Are you exposing yourself to new ideas that challenge you and force you to go back to the Word of God? Are you still pliable, flexible, and teachable? If you are not reading the Bible daily, DO NOT read other books until you have developed that crucial discipline. If you are reading your Bible daily, I would recommend the following books by Steve Addison;

Movements that Change the World

What Jesus Started

Movement Pioneers

The Rise and Fall of Movements

It was a Set-Up (NPL – Part 5)

So my boat was being violently tossed about by these questions and circumstances and I was very ready for Jesus to calm the storm. The crescendo of this intense turmoil in my life came at a leadership meeting. I was sitting there feeling like a caged lion. I had risen to a level of incompetence (The Peter Principle) and was completely out of my league. I was way outside my gifting and thinking “How did I get myself into this mess?” And then in the middle of my brooding, our guest speaker asks a question; “When is the last time you shared Jesus with someone?” Feeling very proud of myself and kind of beating my chest internally, I thought, “On the airplane on the way out to this meeting.” And then the Holy Spirit rolled up His sleeves and went to work. “And when was the last time before that?” Now my pride turned into anger. I thought to myself, “How dare this guy judge me! I’m an important leader. I have important things to do. I can’t just be sharing the gospel all the time.” “Really? So this guy’s wrong and you’re doing what I called you to do?” Now my anger turned into embarrassment. Have you ever had this happen where you are sitting there quietly having this wonderful argument with the other person in your mind without even saying a word and then the Holy Spirit “rudely” interrupts your mental melee and puts you in your place? Oh yeah, I tapped out! I knew I was wrong and this whole thing was a setup. Jesus had me exactly where He wanted me. I recently memorized these two verses and they not only explain a lot but bring me great comfort.

Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. (Ps 139.16)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Ps 32.8)

Do you believe that the Father is the great disciple-maker and that He is shaping and molding you into the image of His Son Jesus through the circumstances of your life? (Rom 8.28-29) Do you believe that nothing touches you without first passing through the buffer of His eternal love? (2 Cor 4.16-18, Jam 1.2-4, Job 1.8, 2.3) Do you believe that Jesus is just as interested in developing you as His disciple as He is your ministry? And finally, if all you got from this movement thing was a deeper relationship with the King, would it be enough? Maybe it’s all a setup. Maybe everything that is happening to us and through us is just meant to bring us and others closer to Him.

The Most Important Question (NPL – Part 4)

I want to drop back a few years and address a question that my mentor asked that really rocked my world and should yours. I was dropping some big theological thing on Cecil Bean, my mentor, and he asked; “Chuck, what does that have to do with Jesus?” I WAS TICKED! I thought to myself, “Of course it has something to do with Jesus! Connect the dots man!” But as I cooled down and meditated on the question for a few days, I thought, “Yeah, what does that have to do with Jesus? In fact, what did most of what I talked about have to do with Jesus?” I was doing an inventory of my “discipleship” and I was coming up with a very disturbing realization; Jesus was conspicuously absent from most of my ministry. I was wrecked! I would later find this passage perfectly fitting for my situation;

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (John 5.39)

The only thing I had missed was the boat! I took drastic measures to correct this very glaring error. For the next year, I read four chapters in the gospels daily and nothing but the gospels to get reacquainted with my King. I developed a strategy to include Jesus in my discipleship;

  • I will mention Jesus every time I talk to another disciple
  • When asked a question, I will answer with a saying or example of Jesus first
  • When reading other books of the Bible besides the gospels, I will look for Jesus
  • When confronted with a dilemma, “I will ask what would Jesus do?” and do it!
  • I will not talk about Jesus as if He isn’t in the room
  • When talking about God, I will address Him as the Father, Jesus His Son, and/or the Holy Spirit 
  • When engaged in discussions I will let people know that I am a follower of Jesus upfront
  • I will read some of the gospels daily as I read the rest of the Bible 
  • I don’t have disciples. I make disciples of Jesus
  • My goal in life is to master the Master

Does this seem extreme to you? I have an exercise for you whether it seems extreme or not. Read Colossians chapter 1 out loud and time yourself. Now count the number of times Paul refers to Jesus (Christ, He, Him, Whom, etc…) If I mentioned your name that many times in that short time frame, what would you think of me? You would think I was obsessed! And based on His love for me and Who He is in the Chain of Command, shouldn’t I be? Is Jesus the center of our life, our ministry, our everything? How often does the name of Jesus cross our lips? Do we have any other Bible characters that rate higher on the “Hero List” than Jesus?