Saturday, 12 October 2019

Discipleship: Taking care of God’s Lambs

This past Sunday delegates from all district churches came together in Chatham for the Campmeeting Organizing Committee. Elders Randy Saunders and Clara Baptiste co-chaired the meeting.  As a devotional thought elder Baptiste reflected on Jesus’ commission to apostle Peter recorded in the gospel of John chapter 21:15-17, where Jesus invited Peter to “feed my lambs” first, and then repeats twice more ”feed my sheep” as an expected response to the question “Do you love me?”
I could not help but smile as just a couple of weeks ago I said that “if you call me “pastor” I must call you “sheep”!  Sheep Charles, sheep George, sheep Zak, sheep Randy, sheep Jonathan.  We don’t really do that, but we call leaders “pastors” still, as they are metaphorically are shepherds of the flock.  Many allusions come from this imagery – its sheep that birth lambs, and the flock should grow not by shepherds stealing sheep from other flocks, but by sheep producing new sheep.  Shepherds are responsible to fight wolves, to guide the flock to good pastures, to be good under-shepherds of the Owner of all flocks, Jesus Christ, the Good shepherd.  Jesus told his shepherds-in-training, used to be fishermen, that there is a “pretend shepherds” – hirelings, who flee when the danger comes, because they don’t really care to protect the flock from wolves (John 10:12-13), but the true shepherd will lay his life down for the sheep (John 10:15).
It was the word “lambs” that we focused on last Sunday. The very first appeal of Jesus was to feed the lambs (arnia in Greek), and only after comes tending sheep (probata in Greek).  Lambs are “baby-sheep,” those who are not probate yet, those who are yet to be confirmed and validated.
As delegates went around the table sharing their expectations from the campmeeting, an elder from the North London, Gwen, shared how their church implemented learning from “Growing Young” presentations – passing the keys to the next generation is their guiding value.
Friends, are we feeding our “lambs”?  What importance is placed in our budget for our youth and our children?  Are we investing sufficiently in discipling, mentoring, resoursing, supporting, feeding our lambs?  We call little pennies we give as donation to children ministry “lambs offering”.  The first Commission of Jesus to Peter, which is instructive to all the following generations was “feed my Lambs!”
Dear church family, whatever we do, let’s keep our youngest as our top priority, let’s make sense for our children and youth, let’s consider their questions and interest, and instead of demanding “seniors’ rights and privileges,”  lets spend more time with our youth.  You will grow younger in the process!  As the Nominating time is on the horizon, please consider how we invest in mentoring and feeding our “lambs.”

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Discipleship for last generation

There is a parable Jesus used to communicate how believers differ in waiting for His return.  A well known parable of ten bridesmaid from Matthew 25:1-13 illustrates also an important principle of the need for discipleship and growth in our congregation.  I am trying to get this message across in different ways that unless you are being disciple and are discipling others just calling oneself a Christian, or Adventist may not be enough.  Following paragraphs are not my commentary and are borrowed from Christ Object Lessons book by Ellen White, pages 408-411:
In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ’s second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ’s near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him,” many are unready. They have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit of God, a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan.
The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man’s heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form. “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness.” Ezekiel 33:31.The apostle Paul points out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ’s second coming. He says, “In the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves; … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Seek the power.  Be a disciple!  Go and make disciples for Christ!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Praying together – first Step of Discipleship

We continue talking about Discipleship.  The Board has been tasked to develop the Discipleship Plan. Last week I shared with you how different ethnic groups understand discipleship differently due to the language differences.  And it seems that the best way to approach Disciple-Shift is not with definitions but a description, and the best example of the discipleship process would be the life and work of Jesus, who disciple original twelve.  How do we disciple someone today?
This week Dr. Allan Martin posted on his FB a comment that I had to re-post “Until we’re fully committed to disciple our own kids through the entire lifespan, we don’t have any business evangelizing anyone.”  I wholeheartedly agree because our first disciples are our children, our first field of evangelism is our family!  When we disciple our children to follow Jesus, when we can tell our kids “imitate me as I imitate Christ” then we are ready to invite strangers, neighbours, outsiders into this process of discipleship we call Evangelism!
As we talk about Evangelising Windsor, have you evangelised your family?  Your kids, your grandchildren?  Don’t practice discipleship on others until you have practiced on your own J
And the very first step of discipleship is Prayer!  Pray FOR and WITH those you love, those you care for.  As you pray with your children they open to you with their concerns, questions, worries, and it creates teaching moments.  Prayer is Step 1 in our Discipleship Plan. 
As I read elders handbook, it impressed me that the new edition puts prayer first as a tool of nurturing the church for love and unity!  When we pray together we grow in love and unity together. As we PRAY we GROW!  This is discipleship!
Friends, as you wonder who to disciple, how to find people you can mentor and invest in, start praying with people. It will be the first step in establishing discipleship. Ellen White writes in Steps to Christ p.98 – “those who are really seeking communion with God will be seen in the Prayer meeting!”  Our Prayer meetings are Disicpleship Groups.
Press on!  Pray until Disicpleship happens!

Discipleship: Taking care of God’s Lambs

This past Sunday delegates from all district churches came together in Chatham for the Campmeeting Organizing Committee. ...