Wednesday, August 10, 2011

168. Apostolic Ministry and Discipleship Part One

We just moved into our new home at the center of town, and like most people who move, you discover things you forgot that you had.

Well, as we were emptying out the guest bedroom, we lift up the box spring from the bed frame and.... we discover our long lost work out machine.

In case you are wondering, this is not the official machine that Chuck Norris endorses and uses, but it is almost identical. Luckily, I did not pay any money for this. It was given to me by a lady I helped to move out of her house.

When I saw it, I had three thoughts go through my head:

1. Wow, I forgot all about that
2. Wow, I could have been using this all along
3. Wow, I am glad I did not pay for this form a infomercial, because then I would be one of "those people" who bought an exercise machine and never use it.

Well, this exercise machine is going in our garage now and as our YMCA membership fades into extinction this month,m we will be transitioning to the gym in our garage. yep, that's right, we will be going Chuck Norris all the way.

As I reflected in this discovery of a work out machine under our guest bed, it made me think of Paul's comments in I Corinthians 9 when he says "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

This of course applies to every disciple, but I think there is some unique application to apostles and apostolic ministry.  Apostles are entrepreneurial people who can be very driven in their personality. They are often task oriented and obsessed with pressing forward and getting the job done. This is great when it comes to moving forward, but it can pose a pretty big challenge to cultivating your relationship with God. To use an old cliche, apostles ar eoften prone towards DOING FOR God at the expense of BEING WITH God.

If there is anything associated with working out, it is discipline. It takes real perseverance and commitment to develop a weekly or daily rhythm of working out. I would say the same is true when it comes to the spiritual disciplines. I cant tell you how many times I have stopped after a fast, busy season of WORKING FOR GOD and had the epiphany "I cant remember the last time I bathed my plans in prayer or waited to listen for God."

It takes some real discipline to actually "work out" in the art of abiding (John 15). The older I get, the more I come to realize that without Jesus, I really can't bear fruit. I need to discipline my body and appetites to carve out time to "work out" and practice the presence of God. This is part of being a disciple, but it is especially applicable to apostles who are on the frontier and are easily lured into DOING at the expense of BEING. Neil Cole often says that God does not want to multiply churches, he wants to multiply changed lives. I think there is some real wisdom in this. If I am not being a disciple myself, and being disciplined about abiding in Christ, then how can I disciple other people into that? I can only lead people where I have been.

So a word of caution to all of you apostolic types out there. go to the spare bedroom, lift up the box spring, and stay in step with the Spirit and the disciplines that allow us to stay connected to the Vine.

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