Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. --Matthew 28.19-20

The above paragraph ends the book of Matthew and summarizes the work Jesus calls His disciples to do. These two verses are called the "Great Commission" because these are the final words of Jesus to His disciples before He ascends to heaven.

Since they are His last words they must be important. And they are. Here, Jesus commands His followers to make disciples. This is to be the life's work of those who claim the name of Christ. They are to spend their days making disciples of other people.

This involves sharing the Gospel, baptizing new believers into the faith, and teaching them from the Bible. Discipleship is at the heart of the teaching of New Testament and should be at the heart of every Christian.

Every believer should have disciple-making as his or her top priority. How are you doing at bringing others along in the faith? How are you at sharing the Gospel with those who haven't heard? How are you at talking about God's Word with those who need spiritual encouragement and influence from you?

This is what I want my life to be about. I want to make disciples. I want to see young men and young women know and follow and love Jesus. I want to make disciples. I want to build up and teach others to pursue Jesus and walk with Him more closely.

Here's the problem: I can't do it.

One of the biggest things I've learned over the last year is that I can't do it. I can't make disciples. I can't change people's hearts. I've tried. It doesn't work. I can't do it.

How could Jesus command us--in His final words no less--to do something that we can't do? Because of v. 20.

In v.20, Jesus assures His followers that He will be with them always. I can't change people's hearts. I can't make people love Jesus more. I can't make people more spiritually mature.

But Jesus can.

Believing that Jesus can change people is humbling. Believing that God alone changes hearts requires faith and trust. Believing that you can't do the work robs you of the glory and gives it to God.
What I need more of in my life is brokenness. I need to recognize that God, and God alone, does the work of changing people. It isn't so much about my gifts, my skills, my personality, my training, my experience, or my persuasion. Believing this will humble me and force me to rely on God and abide in Christ. Believing this will also stir my heart to greater diligence in making disciples because Christ is with me...always.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Top Ten: This is Next 2010

This post is about the trip Drew, Amy, Tim and I took to Baltimore for This is Next 2010.

10. Meeting (again) Kevin DeYoung--I have a choking problem. When I get around Kevin DeYoung, I can't speak. Met him, he said he remembered me and Drew, and Drew and he went on to have a nice conversation. I...couldn't...speak. My friend Miley wrote a poem about my interaction with him:

The last time I freaked out,
I just kept looking down,
I st-st-stuttered when you asked me
what I was thinkin about
Felt like I couldn't breathe,
you asked me what was wrong with me

The next time we hang out,
I will redeem myself
My heart it can't rest til then
ooh, whoa, whoa I can't wait to see you again

9. Keith Green--The theme song of this trip was Keith Green's song "The Sheep and the Goats." Convicting and Funny. Really funny.

8. Midnight Swim--The first night we camped in a state park in Ohio. They had a sweet lake, but swimming wasn't open until the next day. So, we waited until midnight, and jumped in for a really nice "swim".

7. Facing the Giants--Amy and I sat in the backseat for the trip and decided to watch the smash hit Christian film "Facing the Giants". So much unintentional comedy. I highly recommend this movie for its clean content and priceless cheesy moments.

6. Prank Calls--Last conference I was at, I was prank called in the middle of the night. This time I thought I'd turn the tables. So, Tim and I prank called Drew and Amy (in the next room). We thought it worked, but our school-girl-giggling was heard and we were found out.

5. The Contest--We made a little game out of the conference, coming up with ten questions and trying to guess the right answer. We guessed things like: what will Bob wear on the first night, to will Amy get asked out (by an over-eager male attender) to what our hotel room number would be. Amy won the contest with 6 out of 10 points.

4. Welcome to Baltimore--We pulled into the city and started the tedious search for cheap, close city parking. We pulled into a random lot that charged $15. We decided to check out other options and, on the way out of the lot, the parking attendant came up to Drew's window and warned, "Be careful out there!" Guess Baltimore has a crime problem...

3. Calling Bob Kauflin--Drew really, really appreciates Bob Kauflin's work, ministry, style of dress, mannerisms, taste in foods, and haircut. Bob led us in music during the weekend and led us well (see below). On the drive out, we planned on camping in eastern Ohio. Amy suggested that it would be sweet to camp out, not in Ohio, but in Bob Kauflin's front yard. After some internet searching, we found Bob's home address and number online! I called, leaving a message. He didn't call back. Several days later at the conference, Tim talked to Bob following a session. Tim mentioned he was from Wisconsin. Bob asked from where in Wisconsin. Tim said Racine. Bob asked, "Do you know a Dan Miller..." and went on to talk about the voicemail and said the next time we were in town, we should drop by!

2. Music--Worshipping God with other believers is unlike anything else in the world. There is nothing like hearing God's Word being preached, growing (by the Spirit) into a deeper understanding and love for God, and then praising Him with other believers. We were made for this. In fact, this is what eternity will be like.

1. Sermons--The sermons at this conference were outstanding. At most conferences that I have been to, some stand out, others are forgettable. Not at Next. All 7 were outstanding. The best one was by Kevin DeYoung on the subject of the church. He preached on loving the church and serving hard in the local church. One real quick application: There are several things that can discourage you about local church life. The church makes decisions you think are dumb, the "minors" of the church can get too much attention, and people don't grow as fast or as much or in the ways that we want. DeYoung reminded us that hopelessness is motivation and a reminder to pray. All of the disappointments (significant or not) should be signs that point us to pray.