Dare to Be a Disciple

By Karen Polich

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Pastor Kevin’s final sermon in the Making Disciples, sermon series looked at supervision and reproduction. Listen to the complete series via podcast here.

Supervision. Jesus kept watch over His followers. He taught the disciples the importance of rest. He led them into maturity as believers and He was always showing them His way and His provision. (Luke 10:18- 23, John 3:16)

“When was the last time you felt satisfied with God’s provision?” – Kevin Linthicum

We should take our role as disciples seriously and stop being satisfied with a low standard. Are we seeking and giving the best we have to offer?

Reproduction. The disciples needed to be able to produce more disciples. We should be in a place where we can produce more disciples. We should be interested in a person’s relationship with Christ. To look for a connection between going to church and salvation is wrong. It’s about knowing and choosing Jesus. Disciples produce fruit in their lives. (Matthew 28:19, Matthew 9:37)

“A person full of the spirit cannot help but to communicate the gospel to others. Your life is called for a purpose – to bring glory and honor to God.” – Kevin Linthicum

We should be seeking His will. Do we have what it takes to do what God has asked us to do? No, but HE DOES and He will equip each of us.

Every believer should be in the process of discipling or being discipled. The decision is yours.

God’s Will

By Elizabeth Thomas

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Are you someone who likes to plan? Or would you rather go with the flow? Are you someone who maps out your life, every decision or choice? Or are you someone who sees where the road takes you?

If you are like me, you would rather have a plan. I think human beings, in general, crave consistency and stability. We like to know we are in control of our future. The hard part comes when our plans fail, or get interrupted. As we all know, life doesn’t always go according to our plan.

In Kid’s Klub this past week, we focused on the Lord’s prayer and God’s will. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. First, He acknowledged God as His Holy Father, then He said, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) He taught His disciples that when we pray, we shouldn’t start by laying out our plans or focusing on our will. We should start by accepting God’s plan, and set our will aside. Jesus knew how to approach God with the right heart. Although it is extremely difficult, God wants us to let Him guide us, not the other way around. It is so easy to come to God with your plans and desires and ask that He fulfill them. It is much harder to come to God and ask Him to lead you.

God is still teaching me to let Him lead me.

I have often laid some of the best plans (in my opinion) only for Him to change everything and send me in a completely new direction. Sometimes I feel lost and confused because I don’t know where He is leading me. But I know He is teaching me to trust Him. I am learning that until I submit to His plan, I will never know peace. If I continue to question His will, I will never be content.

Have you ever questioned God’s plan for your life? Have you ever been confused or wondered why He is allowing something bad to happen or why He is keeping you from something? I think at some point, all of us question the will of God. We have a plan set out for our life and when it doesn’t work out, we question God. Why would You let this happen to me? Why can’t You let this work out for me? Why are You doing this to me?

But He is not doing anything to us. He has done everything for us. He sent His Son to die for us. He made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. And He knows His plan is perfect. All He is asking is for us to trust Him.

I won’t say that I have learned this lesson completely. I still struggle to trust Him, especially when His plan doesn’t make sense to me. But I believe what it says in Jeremiah 29:11. I believe that God’s plan is to prosper me, not to harm me. I know that God’s plan for my life is perfect, even if I don’t understand it.

What about you? Are you still holding tightly to your earthly plan? Or are you ready to give up your will and trust Him?

Looking for a Great Gift? How About Discipleship?

By Tom Neal

I am truly a lucky man. For most of my adult life I have had all the things that people believe make a man feel happy and fulfilled: a great wife of twenty-five years, two awesome kids, a stable job, a handful of good friends, and enough stuff.  However, I was never consistently happy or content and always knew there was something missing in my life. In the back of my mind I knew that it was the lack of a connection with God. I would identify myself as a Christian, but I did not know Christ. I was lost.

This changed for me when I met Pastor Kevin Linthicum while working on the old First Baptist Church building in downtown Albuquerque. We were having a casual conversation waiting for some folks to show up for a tour of the building.  Kevin told me about his mission work in Malawi which fascinated me. Here was a man living his faith and traveling 10,000 miles away to share that faith. Our conversation eventually led to Kevin sharing the Gospel with me and asking me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior.

This is probably where the story of discipleship should begin. Unfortunately, I told Kevin that I was not ready to accept Christ.

Kevin had touched a nerve and I could not get our conversation out of my mind.  He continued to reach out to me; I continued to resist. After many months, my heart changed and I began attending Sunday service and a small group. Kevin’s continued guidance led me to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior in October 2015 followed by my baptism in March 2016.  The transformation from lost to saved is the most powerful feeling that I have experienced in my entire life. The Holy Spirit working in me has created a deep desire for a closer relationship with Christ.

As a new follower of Christ, I was hungry for more and wasn’t quite sure what to do. I contacted Kevin and he told me that he would teach me as much as I wanted. This is the point that our discipleship relationship truly began. For the past eighteen-months we have been meeting every Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. with a few other men. The focus of our sessions is always the Bible. Over time it has evolved from deep dives into various books of the Old and New Testaments, to study related to the understanding the attributes and mind of Christ, to sharing the Gospel effectively with others.

Discipleship is a very personal process. It’s a journey. Having someone in your life that is committed and dedicated to your spiritual well-being is an amazing feeling. There are so many ways to stumble in this world and push God aside. For me, having a teacher has firmly planted me on a path moving towards Christ and obtaining the spiritual tools to resist those things which might cause me to stumble. Although I have a long road ahead, discipleship has moved me beyond those rocky first steps. I am now steadfast in my faith.

More importantly, I have been given this miraculous gift that I want to share with others so that they will also experience the joy and peace that comes with a life in Christ.

Discipleship is giving me tools and a deeper understanding of Scripture that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to spread the Good News of Christ, our Lord. I encourage everyone to embrace discipleship to grow spiritually and honor Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. I can’t think of a better gift.

Making Disciples – Demonstration and Delegation

By Karen Polich

“People are looking for a demonstration not an explanation.” – Kevin Linthicum

Is your life teaching others how to live? Jesus demonstrated what life as a follower should look like. He showed the disciples how to live. Jesus demonstrated compassion, taught the practice of prayer and laid a clear path of discipleship through action.

Jesus never forced the disciples to pray, instead He showed them the practice of prayer, praying until they asked Him how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 lays out the clear direction of prayer and the need for communication with God.

“This, then, is how you should pray:”
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”

A life lived following Jesus produces disciples who can teach others what it means to be genuine and authentic as a follower.

Jesus gave the disciples things to do. He delegated tasks that required action on the part of the follower. (Matthew 10) He was clear that we should produce fruit. We are called to disciple and be discipled.

Afraid to share the Gospel? Matthew 10:20 says, “for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Our focus should be on obedience, giving our trust to the One who has called us.

Are you willing to invest years, full of determination to see things through when it comes to discipleship?

Listen to Pastor Kevin Linthicum’s sermon series, Making Disciples, via podcast here.

The Power of Names

By Elizabeth Thomas

When I first became a teacher, I considered what I wanted my students to call me. At the time, I worked with several teachers that let their students call them by their first name. It seemed refreshing and trendy to let my students call me “Miss Elizabeth” instead of the very formal “Ms. Thomas”. I thought using my first name might keep my classroom relaxed and comfortable. But my mentor teacher taught me the importance of my last name. It’s a sign of respect to use your last name. Your relationship with your students needs to be formal at times.  You are the leader in your classroom, and they should follow you.

I have been thinking a lot about the power of names this week. Last Sunday in Kid’s Klub, we began a new series focusing on the Lord’s Prayer. Most of us have heard it before, Jesus’ guidelines for how to talk to God. He starts His prayer by saying “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). It’s interesting because Jesus uses the word “Father” here, when the most commonly used name for God at that time was Jehovah. Jesus starts many of His prayers in the Bible by acknowledging His relationship with God, by calling Him “Father”. Jesus taught us that although God is our creator, He is also our Heavenly Father, and we can speak to Him directly whenever we like.

He is someone we can maintain a relationship with, someone we can go to with our troubles, someone we can rely on in difficult times.

Jesus goes on to say that God’s name is “hallowed” or holy. This is extremely important, because Jesus is teaching us how to approach God with the right heart. He doesn’t start His prayer by addressing His own needs. He doesn’t start His prayer by asking for something. He shows reverence to God by acknowledging His Holiness first. How often we forget that God is not a magic genie in a bottle, ready to grant wishes. He is righteous and worthy and deserves all of our respect. When we pray, our first step should be to acknowledge Him for everything He is and does.

When I think about the many names of God, I am reminded that He chose to be called Father. He chose me as His child.

Even in my sin, even in my rebellion, even in my brokenness, He calls me daughter. I have an open line of communication with the Maker of the universe, because He wanted a relationship with me. He sent His son to die for me, so I could spend eternity with Him. His mercy and love is something I could never earn, but He gives it to me anyway. The holy, perfect, all-powerful God chose me.

He chose you, too. He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to let Him guide your life. When you pray this week, don’t forget who you pray to. Acknowledge His name and His holiness. Delight in the fact that you get to call Him Father.

Making Disciples – Consecration and Impartation

By Karen Polich

Pastor Kevin Linthicum continued his sermon series, Making Disciples, with the next two steps in true discipleship. Listen to the sermon series via podcast here. Consecration and impartation were added to selection and association.

Consecration. Jesus required obedience. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Those who chose to follow him, trusted him and believed in him. They went the way of the cross.

“Is Jesus satisfying you right now?” – Kevin Linthicum

There is a price to discipleship. It costs something to be all in. We must let go of worldly pursuits and acknowledge Jesus above all things. Few choose to pay the price. We need to recognize and embrace the truth that spiritual apathy is at an all-time high. We shouldn’t be satisfied with where we are, but should be answering the call of the great commission. Are we willing to pay the price?

“You don’t find Jesus by running after those who have run away.” – Kevin Linthicum

Impartation. Jesus was the perfect example of what it means to be a servant. He gave Himself away. A follower of Christ who is a disciple will be a fruit producer. Disciples are compelled to share the gospel. When we are yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit, we will see the people around us who need to hear that message.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

You can’t give something away you’ve never had. God will overcome the world with or without you. Will you choose to be a disciple?

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Discipleship

By Kristi Sullins

“Go therefore and make disciples”. It is a straight forward command Christ gave to the new church in Matthew 28:19. He did not give the followers a five-point plan or a “how-to” list. It was a straight forward command of action.

For most Christ followers that statement is translated as go and lead people to a saving faith in Christ. There is a clear call to evangelize in that statement, but it does not stop with belief. Christ called the church to do more than accumulate converts. He wanted those whom He had invested in to pass on the investment by making learning, lifetime believers. Believers who grew deep enough to disciple others.

What does this discipleship look like? The book of Acts gives us a beautiful picture of how the early church obeyed Christ’s command. They shared their lives.

It was that simple. Those who had seen and heard from Christ shared that knowledge. They ate together, learned together, shared their struggles and victories and the realities of their lives. Acts 2:42 gives us a picture of those first disciples.

Could you do that?  Do you have struggles, victories and failures you would be willing to share?    Would you open your table to someone who wants to spend time with you?  Would you be willing to learn alongside someone who also wants to know more about the life God has called us to live? Do you have room in your life for a brother or sister in Christ?  Would you love to know that there is someone praying for you and someone who trusts you to pray for them?  Then you should be discipling.

If your answer was no then there are bigger issues. For EVERYONE who says they are a follower of Christ then you do not have the right to refuse to disciple. It was a mandate given by Christ to all those who would choose to follow Him. He was not speaking to those who would be church leaders or missionaries. It was to the church, period. He was calling those who make up the church to remain in Him, obey and bear fruit. Discipling others is a fruit-bearing step of obedience we do not have the right to reject.

Neil Cole, author of the Organic Church, goes a step further when he compares the success of a church to the success of discipling. He says, “Ultimately each church will be evaluated by one thing, its disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, reaching, programs or property are. If your disciples are passive, needy, consumerist, not moving in the direction of obedience, your church in not good.”

Are you ready to step out in obedience and disciple?  The first thing to do is pray that God would show you who He would have you journey with. Then start actively looking. You don’t get to just sit and pray about it. Then make the commitment to find the time. The reality is that we all have the same amount of time, and we find time for what we consider important. When you accept that discipling others was a mandate to all believers you will find time for it. Surprisingly, when you make that commitment you will find that time of your week to be your very favorite, and most fulfilling.

That is a truth I can testify to. I am a working mother of three teenagers with a husband who has gone back to school. Time is something precious, but more precious to me is the time I spend each week with a young woman that God blessed me by putting in my life. Those couple of hours of sharing, studying, and praying are priceless to me. Sometimes we are deep in the Word and other times our weeks have been so rough that we are talking through life lessons. There has been much laughter, frequent tears, deep discussions, and learning on both sides. She is my family, my friend, and my constant reminder that no matter the ups and downs of my journey in this life, God can use it.

Discipling, living life together with the goal of becoming more like Christ. It is time for you to start.

 

 

V

Silver Linings

By Elizabeth Thomas

We’ve all heard the expression, every cloud has a silver lining. It’s a poetic phrase that reminds us to look for the good in the midst of the bad. It helps us remember that even in dark times, there is light coming. It’s a the thing people say that provides a glimmer of hope in troubling times.

In Kid’s Klub this past weekend, we remembered Jesus’ troubling times. We showed the kids a crown of thorns like He wore. They felt a piece of rough wood, like the wood from the Cross. They saw what the nails might have looked like and drank vinegar like He drank. I prayed they would understand what happened. I prayed their hearts would be ready to grasp the significance of what He did. Sometimes I find it difficult to teach about the crucifixion, because it can be hard to explain that what happened was horrific, but God still deemed it necessary. What happened was terrible, but Jesus did it on purpose. It’s hard to show this black, ugly cloud had a silver lining.

I know it was hard for the people who loved Jesus. The disciples, Mary and Martha, all those who followed Him – they couldn’t see the hope in what He did. The Bible says the ones who knew Him watched Him die (Matthew 27:55-56). Those who weren’t there at the crucifixion went into hiding (John 20:19). Their hope was gone. The One who performed miracles, the One who brought the dead to life, the One who spoke of hope and salvation, was dead. The religious leaders had won and those who loved Jesus were heartbroken. It was really over. Can you imagine what those three days felt like, the days Jesus lay in the tomb? I can’t even comprehend the anguish they felt. What a hopeless, terrible time.

But we know, the story isn’t over. Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose three days later, and appeared to many different people. He shared His message of hope and salvation; He encouraged others to do the same. He completed His journey and fulfilled prophecy. His resurrection was the silver lining. His completion of salvation is our silver lining.

I won’t say that I’ve gone through times as troubling as Jesus, but I have had my share of hardships. I have had moments where I feel like all hope is lost. We all have. We have all had moments where we lose our faith. Dark clouds settle in our skies and we can’t see the light. For some, those clouds last for years. For others, it seems that there will never be a silver lining.

I don’t know what you are going through. I don’t know what dark clouds are in your skies. I don’t know if you feel hopeless. But I know that our Savior knows exactly how you feel. He has been where you are. He has experienced trauma, hardship and suffering. He knows the feeling of hopelessness. He knows because He was here. He walked on this Earth, He was tempted and tried. He was beaten and executed. For you.

Easter may be over, but don’t forget Jesus’ sacrifice. When your clouds get dark and gloomy, don’t forget the light. Don’t forget our silver lining, our hope, our salvation. Our Father sent His Son to die for us. When things get hard, don’t lose your faith. He is waiting for you to trust in Him.

Remember

By Kristi Sullins

Where were you when?  This question was part of a recent Ladies Bible Study class, and it immediately stirred up great conversation. Many of the answers were the same. The Challenger explosion and 911 were events that had left their marks on us as children, youth and young adults. A true blessing to our group is the diversity of ages represented, and the best of our group happened to be sitting right next to me that morning. Ms. Lucy Stevens held us all speechless as she shared her memories of the radio announcement after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and hearing about the dropping of the first nuclear bomb while she was in her kitchen ironing. These were memories seared in her brain. Memories of events that changed everything. Even years after each of us had experienced those life-changing moments we were able to sit and remember.

I must imagine that same question would have been asked years after that Friday, that Friday that changed eternity. The young and old, rich and poor, Gentile and Jew would have had a story to tell about Friday when Christ was crucified.

Maybe they were in the courts when Christ was falsely accused and charged with crimes as He stood in silence. They may have seen Pilate try to find fault in Him, and ultimately wash his hands of the whole matter. Did they hear about the beatings from the Roman soldiers or witness His destroyed body first hand?  Maybe they had strong enough stomachs to stand on the hill of Golgotha as the man who claimed He was Messiah was nailed to a cross and hung between 2 thieves. They would have heard His cries for mercy to God for those abusing Him, and His cries when the God of the world had to turn His back because of the sin resting on Christ. Those serving in the temple would have shared hearing the temple curtain rip from top to bottom with no explanation. All would have remembered the sky, black as night, and the earthquake that shook the ground after Jesus spoke “It is finished”. Everyone would have had a story to remember about that Good Friday.

It is time for us to remember too. The Easter season is always a time of fun and fellowship. We dress in our best for church, ready for a time of celebration. That is good, but we cannot skip Friday. Sunday is the day we celebrate the empty tomb and our risen Savior. But Sunday’s celebration could have never come without Friday’s sacrifice.

Take time to remember what Christ withstood on that Good Friday. Read the different accounts given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Talk with your children about that day. Remember His sacrifice driven by love. Remember His suffering driven by evil. Remember grace shown to the thief at His side. Remember the prophecy promises Christ kept to the letter. Remember the king of the world being laid in a borrowed tomb. Remember.

Do not over think the act of remembering. For my daughter and I, we remembered over the kitchen sink, peeling potatoes for dinner. Back and forth we shared the details we knew about that Good Friday. We talked about feelings, sights and sounds. I told her the part of the story I hate the most (God turning His back on Christ) and she told me her favorite part (heaven and earth reacting to His death). There was no fancy setting or preplanned speech. It was just the two of us, sisters in Christ, remembering.

It is your turn now. Do not reject the hard part of this Holy week. Sink deep in the story. Shed tears as you remember. Your Father’s love is so great that He sent His Son to die. Our Messiah’s love is so great that He willingly walked into hell on earth for all mankind. Let the story remind you of the impossible grace of our God, and the eternal hope we have because of that Good Friday. Remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to the Cross Part Two

By Elizabeth Thomas

As a leader in Kid’s Klub, I am often surprised at how the lessons I teach the kids affect my life too. I find that although the material is written for them, it also speaks to directly to me. This week, I was faced with a difficult lesson – following God’s plan instead of my own.

Last Sunday, we taught the kids about Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a fun story to teach! Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, while people laid their coats and palm branches down. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) and everyone seemed excited that He had arrived! It’s the hopeful, joyful part of Jesus’ journey to the cross. But as we all know, the excitement didn’t last long.

The people were hopeful because Jesus had said He came to save them (Luke 19:10). But they wanted Him to save them from Roman rule.  Even those closest to Him thought He was going to establish His Kingdom here on Earth. But that wasn’t His plan. Instead of challenging the Roman government, He challenged the Pharisees and religious leaders. Instead of setting up His political throne, He cleansed the temple. He didn’t free them from Rome like they wanted. So, the people began to doubt Jesus. Was He really going to do what He said? The Pharisees took advantage of this dissention and started acting out their plan to kill Him. The opposition among the people grew when they realized Jesus wasn’t following through with “their plans”. Eventually, they turned on Him and pleaded for His crucifixion. When He didn’t fit their plan, they lost their faith.

Isn’t this just like us? When our plans unravel, so does our faith?

I have often wondered how the people who saw Jesus perform miracles could have turned on Him so quickly. How could they have crucified the Man who came to save them? To be in the presence of God, to see His power firsthand, only to abandon Him and turn away. But then, I remember how many times I have turned away from God. How many times have I seen His power in my life and then lost my faith in Him when things don’t go my way? How many times have I forgotten to trust Him when things are difficult? How many times have I questioned His plan, without remembering His sacrifice for me?

The great news is, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. His plan was to redeem us eternally, and He did so on the cross. Aren’t you glad that He is up in Heaven now, preparing his Heavenly kingdom for all those who chose to follow Him? During this week of remembrance, don’t forget that God still has a plan. It didn’t end with Christ’s sacrifice. He has a bigger plan for your life. He is calling you to something greater. The question is, will you follow His plan or your own?