EQUIP: Week 1- Purpose of Discipleship
“Following Jesus is about learning to know and love God, to be known and loved by God, and allowing that love to transform us and flow out of us.” – Pastor Mike
Week 1: Day 1 - Listening To That Other Voice
“The real problem with the Christian life comes the moment you wake up. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of shoving them back; in listening to that other voice, letting the other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” – C.S. Lewis [i]
Today is day one of our eight-week equipping experience, and this week we will be exploring the “why” behind the “what” of discipleship. As Bel Air Church, we believe a disciple is one who responds in faith and faithfulness to the gracious call to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone. We take this invitation seriously and believe something this serious is going to be a seriously beneficial, joy-filled, life-giving and transformative experience!
Let’s hold on to this thought as we enter into our daily rhythm:
Over these next eight weeks, we will follow a daily PRAY(er) rhythm to guide us through our reflections (P.R.A.Y.), ‘P’: PAUSING to be still. ‘R’: REFLECTING on Scripture or learnings. ‘A’: ASKING God to help us and others on the journey. ‘Y’: YIELDING to God’s transformative work in our lives, no matter the cost. [ii]
P. R. A. Y.
To begin, pray the following:
As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to recenter my scattered senses upon the presence of God.
Jesus, my Savior, and Teacher, as I listen to your invitation to follow you, I ask you would soften my heart, sharpen my mind, and give me the courage to follow you again, today.
Read & Reflect
C.S. Lewis stresses the point that following Christ is both hard and easy. Jesus Christ calls us to give ourselves completely to Him – an almost impossible thing to do. Lewis argues, however, that the alternative IS impossible. One cannot be led by our selfish desires or by anything else AND Christ: We are either led by Christ OR by something else, there is no AND – it’s one or the other! Every one of us has to make the choice to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone.
One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
“Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33 MSG)
Lewis paraphrases Jesus’ words saying,
“Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time, money, and work: I want you…No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree…Hand over the whole natural self…I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.” [iii]
Journal and/or self-reflect:
- What aspects of discipleship cause me pause or concern?
- What are the reasons for my concerns?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
Journal and/or self-reflect:
- In what ways have I experienced the heavy burden of trying to remain in control of my life?
- As I process God’s invitation for me to continue on my discipleship journey, I will take a moment to vulnerably share my excitement, concerns, and questions with Jesus.
The word ‘yield’ may not be a word we use every day. However, hopefully it’s something we practice on a daily basis (especially when driving on the freeway). Yield simply means to surrender. Every day we will be invited to pray a prayer of yielding or surrender. In reality, we might not be ready to yield to God in every way at this very moment. That is totally ok. Surrendering ourselves to God is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute practice. Let’s allow these prayers to shape our hearts and form in us a new practice of surrender.
Pause and Pray
As I return to the invitation to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone, Holy Spirit, open my heart to yield to your call in my life. I recognize I am not on this journey alone. You are with me. You’ve surrounded me with sisters and brothers who are on this journey as well. I invite you into the deepest places of my being. Jesus, I long to know you and be known by you. I yield my life to you once again. Today marks a new beginning in a lifelong journey of following you.
Over this next week, every day will end with an opportunity for us to memorize Luke 9:23-24 together. This passage will help frame the ongoing conversation throughout the week. To begin our practice, let’s write or text the following verses verbatim in a journal, notecard, on a post-it note, or make a note in your smart device:
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
Over the weeks that follow, we will also be exploring certain spiritual practices or habits that are essential to a life of following Jesus. Over the next five days we will develop our habit of ‘remembering.’
“Much of what the Bible demands can be comprised in one word, Remember.”– Rabi Abraham Joshua Hershel [iv]
Remembering our own personal story is a spiritual practice aimed to reinforce a biblical truth that “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our lives are continuously lived in God’s creative, loving presence. Our lives are a sacred journey in which God is constantly involved, always looking for ways to reveal the grace and love of Jesus. Take some time today and reflect on your faith journey. No need to write anything down or journal, just reflect and see what comes to mind. Take whatever surfaces to God in prayer.
We will explore the spiritual practice of remembering more in Day Two.
2021 Rev. Mike Morgan