for a peaceful revolution in Christian discipleship, with millions of
“ordinary” believers awakening to God’s presence and power in the midst
of daily life. It is possible to enjoy God, become more whole, have
healthy relationships, live with purpose, and do today’s tasks as
worship. We have more resources than ever before for growth, but often
see believers living emaciated lives. We need a fresh vision of “normal”
that can inspire hope and propel institutional and personal
transformation. Thank God for all our fine pastors and good resources.
But there is an “Aha!” moment that must capture our imaginations for
is the revolutionary key: reconceiving the Christian life in terms of
dimensions and outcomes instead of categories and classes is the key to
fruitfulness. Sermons and Sunday schools, Bible studies and small
groups, online and print programs: all of these are the means to a
desired end, not the end in themselves! Check out this special
Assessment for further understanding: www.discipleshipdynamics.com.
is dimensional and integrated, not just a “to do list” of boxes to be
checked (yes, it is good to order our day’s activities!). The challenge
for each person is understanding what “there” looks like. In other
words, what are we aiming for, in principled and practical terms?
Hebrews 13:7 offers this advice: “Consider the outcome of their
(spiritual leaders) way of life and imitate their faith (both belief and
action).” The next verse says, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday,
today, and forever.”
a follower of Christ means imitation Jesus’ attitudes and actions,
dispositions and disciplines, with a desire to love God, love our
neighbor and make more disciples from every culture. What does this look
like in real life? There are five dimensions to our lives that are all
part of God’s plan and therefore they are all “spiritual” there is no
sacred/secular divide, no separation of Sunday ecstasies and Monday’s
ethics. Here are the five dimensions:
God with all our being: enjoying and growing in intimacy with the
Trinity. This is true spiritual formation and includes all the classical
disciples of prayer and Bible study, church attendance and
wholeness is an organic fruit of true intimacy with God. We lean to
overcome our painful history with hope, manage our negative emotions,
see ourselves as loved by God, forgive others and discover inner peace.
relationships are the implication of “loving our neighbor as
ourselves.” This include healthy boundaries, sexual purity, good
friendships and much more…think of all the great “one another” texts of
clarity is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10: we are designed for a
purpose and we are always more than our current job. Knowing our natural
and spiritual gifts, the dignity of our labor and serving with humility
should inform our lives daily.
of these dimensions are worked out as we live in a world of economics
and work each day! Whether paid or unpaid, labor or leadership, private
or public, almost everyone spends their waking hours actively doing
something. This is not our secular life nor are our activities merely a
means to an end…our work matters to God.
millions of God-fearing friends awakening to the fullness of God’s
intentions and offering all daily activity as worship to God. Imagine
seamless integration of evangelism and compassion, for-profit and
non-profit efforts, and prayer and the pursuit of justice. A peaceful
and powerful revolution indeed.
American and European public squares are replete with extremism,
polarizing language, and moral cowardice. Yes, that is correct: moral
cowardice. Political correctness and an unwillingness to confront facts
are deceiving millions into buying into false historical narratives and
feeling paralyzed about making any absolute statements. Here are some
paradoxical realities that deserve critical thinking and deep
reflection, not platitudes and soundbites.
jihadists do not believe in fostering a pluralistic society, with
liberty of conscience/religion, free speech and diverse worldviews
learning civility and common good unity. While the vast majority of
Muslims live peaceably with neighbors of all faiths or none, the
agitators are proposing either a gradual or abrupt takeover of the West
(and the rest) in the name of their faith. Extremists defend the
subjugation and even extermination of all opponents of Islam and in
chilling Orwellian fashion, declare that true “freedom” is only found in
submission to their version of Islam.
makes the above particularly nefarious is the cozy relationship between
the pagan-secular Left and radical Islam. The political Left will
persecute artists and bakers for refusing to endorse same sex weddings
but turn a blind eye to the jihadist’s oppression of women,
anti-Semitism, and blatant denunciations of gender and sexual liberty!
This is moral cowardice where hatred of Jewish and Christian morality
triumphs over history and reason.
kills babies. While a tragic necessity in rare cases of the mother’s
survival or baby’s unviability, “pro-choice” advocates are now
celebrating the termination of life at all stages, from early gestation
to infanticide. And anyone who disagrees is depriving women of
reproductive rights. The missing part of this “pro-choice” extremism is
the choices men and women make that lead to conception and the
irresponsibility of fathers in particular to care for the fruit of their
intimacy. While incest and rape may be presented as exceptions, the
vast majority (97%+) of abortions are elective due to economic or
emotional issues. This is moral cowardice.
refusal of many conservative Christians to face the realities of
emotional and sexual abuse, racism, and sexism within their histories
and current structures is also moral cowardice. In a convoluted desire
not to bring shame to the church or the gospel, leaders that cover
serious transgressions or make excuses for a lack of justice actually do
greater harm to Christian witness. Regardless of ecclesial traditions,
no person should feel disempowered or marginalized by any church.
Becoming intentional about lamenting our tragic history of racism and
sexism can lead to new friendships and true reconciliation. Victims of
abuse must be heard and helped, and perpetrators brought to justice.
cowardice can be overcome with humility and love, intentional
repentance and resolution, and fostering new friendships across the
barriers we create, and Jesus died to destroy and transform.
week after Groundhog’s Day and in remembrance of the Bill Murray comedy
of reliving the same day over and over again, it is right to reflect on
some enduring challenges:
We have miles to go in our pursuit of justice for women and men of all classes and cultures.
We can celebrate Christian contributions to social progress, and we must deeply lament historic ecclesial complicity with oppression.
We can criticize Israeli policies, but most of the responsibility for lasting peace rests with Arab leaders acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is not a western colonial imposition, but the historic home of an ancient people. The new plan presented by President Trump (and quietly endorsed by some Sunni Arab states in the region) is an opportunity that the current Palestinian Leadership is willfully ignoring.
Billions have been lifted out of poverty in my lifetime due to global trade, with access to new markets. We still have too many food, banking, and job deserts in our own American cities.
Our national debt and deficit spending reveal cowardice and a lack of concern for generations yet unborn. Both parties are guilty, and it will take both parties cooperation to find solutions.
UN officials admit that their proposals for climate change amelioration are of little practical use, except for the transfer of trillions in wealth. Unless China, India, and Russia sign on, little progress can be made. Every proponent of free trade and/or climate change skeptic must also care more deeply for the ecological life of our planet. Good environmental stewardship means a good economy for our grandchildren.
Let’s find a new way to fund education of all kinds without a lifetime of debt on graduates and ever-increasing tuition prices.
A rebirth of civility begins with an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person we meet. We must end caricature, insults, and stereotyping of those different from us.