Jesus Sends Me… As He was Sent.

Are you ready and willing to be a living exhibition of what life with God is like? Jesus invites you to join him in this adventure. Connecting in our World is the contact of the eternal with the mundane—and it can be a transforming adventure that we unwrap everyday.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20 

The command here is to “make disciples.” The context expects us to be out in our world accomplishing this ultimate priority. While going, we are to multiply ourselves by making new disciples, baptizing them and guiding them until they are living out these truths in their own lives—making disciples themselves! Jesus demonstrated his own commitment to “going” by his birth and life among us. He identified with those he loved as he sought to make disciples. I wonder if instead of following Jesus’ example, we practice a “Great Omission” today—we post a sign or run an ad and wait for the lost to find their own way to us. As shepherds, let’s go meet the sheep where they are. 

Scriptures emphasize going. John 15 focuses on going and bearing fruit. In Mark 16 Christ says, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” In John 20:21, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Yet we often say, “Come, come, come. Come to our ___________ program. Come to our beautiful facility. Come to our activity.” We even have it turned around so that we find ourselves getting mad, disgusted and discouraged with our friends because they don’t come—yet Jesus told us to go. We have no right to expect others to draw close until we have been faithful in going. 

HUNGER FOR GOD

The Bible teaches that our lives are “letters” read by those people around us (2 Cor. 3:2). The disciplemaker must take time to cultivate the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, evangelism and spiritual breathing (confession of sin and complete yielding to the Spirit). We should be able to say, as Paul said to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Students can sense the intensity of my relationship with God when they spend time with me. My personal time with Christ spills over and affects people around me more than any other time investment I make—students know when my quiet time is going well, and they can tell when it isn’t. 

COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE

Jesus lived in a world of hurting and needy people. Matthew 8:14-15 describes an instance when Jesus was at Peter’s house, and he saw Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with fever. Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her. The teen years are hard. The challenges students face are only intensified by struggles with self-image, acceptance and meaning in life. We must compassionately understand the basic needs students have if we intend to minister to them. In Five Cries of Youth, Merton Strommen details these basic needs and how we as disciplemakers and even youth workers can deal with them.

Strommen surveyed more than seven thousand teenagers about their values, beliefs, opinions and concerns about themselves, their friends, their world, and their God. He writes, “If you listen, you can hear cries, rising out of the data with compelling insistence: sobs, angry shouts, hurrahs, protests and jeers.” Our love for hurting students should come from an overflow of our personal relationship with Christ.

Mark 1:40-45 refers to this principle: “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees… Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” 

Likewise, we need to let compassion come alive in us as we interact with students. 

Leaders must be prepared to confront the questions students are facing: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? In Leadership, Barry St. Clair describes a leader’s role in the lives of students:

Webster defines leadership as the ‘ability to show the way or guide the course of action of another by going before or going beside.’ As you examine that definition, one thing becomes apparent about being a leader. You can’t show someone else the way to go unless you have been there (or are going there) yourself. In other words, the quality of your life will determine the quantity of your influence. As you minister to students, you must catch hold of the concept that, ‘If I take care of the depth of my spiritual life, then God will take care of the breadth of my disciplemaking adventure.’ Simply stated, leadership is a life-style. God can use you to influence others, but your influence will be in proportion to the type of lifestyle that you lead. 

My connecting skills are only valuable when they are supported by a meaningful relationship with God. 

RELATIONAL ABILITIES OF A DISCIPLEMAKER 

Because of the significance of the connecting intentionality, we realize that disciplemakers need to develop several convictions: 

WILLINGNESS TO SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE (for example as Youth Workers with Students) 

Many students today lack significant relationships with adults due to the breakdown of the family, economic pressures requiring both parents and teens to work, and the development of a youth subculture that tends to breed mistrust and misunderstanding between generations. If people only see us on Sundays, and we are “phantom” Christians the rest of the week, they may easily conclude that we don’t really care about them as individuals. We must earn the right to be heard and show our concern for them by learning about their interests and becoming involved in their lives. 

SENSITIVITY TO PEOPLES’ DEVELOPING IDENTITIES (for example as Youth Workers with Students)

Like many of us, students are people in transition. As disciplemakers and youth leaders, we need to be aware of the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual makeup of our students (and our friends & neighbors) and their various stages of development. Be careful not to stereotype or categorize others—each deserves individual attention and care. This individual love means accepting students even with their imperfections. It’s common to know students, family and friends who are struggling to form their unique identity—and to see them undergo personality changes and try new fads. We must strive to accept each individual as God’s creation rather than condemn or judge their self-worth.

Our sensitivity should include speaking the truth in love when a student’s new individuality infringes upon the rights of others. Remember that discipleship and discipline are as closely related as they sound. 

A DOSE OF AGGRESSIVENESS 

Growing up, my mom and I used to go fishing. We never just sat in the boat waiting for fish to jump in. Of course not! We aggressively went after them, making an effort to find out where the fish were, and then caught them. “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.’” —Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus called us to join him in fishing for men, not waiting for fish to swim up to us. We must aggressively, but lovingly and tactfully, go after them. In John 4, Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes. Look into the fields. See that they are white unto harvest.” Often we are so busy planning our own programs and looking at our own problems that we fail to see how ripe the harvest is. That’s why Jesus urged us to look around and see how ready the harvest really is. Compassion should lead us to vigorously pursue Christ’s example and commission. 

WILLINGNESS TO IDENTIFY WITH THE ANOTHER’S WORLD

For example, Teenagers can easily develop a dichotomy in their minds—the church world, and the “real” world. What goes on in the church world is good and valuable; but it doesn’t relate, in their minds, to the real world. When we penetrate the real world that students live in by going on their turf, the dichotomy breaks down. Our teaching has new value as they realize that a daily walk with Christ does relate to them. A side benefit of entering the world of students is that we gain a better understanding of what life is like for them. Too often we teach from theory or old personal experiences rather than dealing with the real issues this generation is facing this month. 

CONSISTENCY IN CONNECTING

We must have the conviction that connecting is as important two years into our friendships and ministries as it is during the initial months of our friendships. We must guard against the “sigh of relief” syndrome that says, “I used to do that, but thankfully, I’m past that stage.” Connecting is a continual process that expresses the value we place on people. Threats to consistency: 

Connecting takes time and effort. Building relationships and penetrating circles of friends does not come naturally. If we fail to take the time or encourage other leaders and students to make intentional contacts, we soon will become an ingrown group without any non-Christian friends or fringe students close enough to impact. 

Connecting takes courage and boldness.

A problem that we face in maintaining a connecting intentionality is what Pat Hurley refers to as the stomach problem—visiting a high school campus, students’s homes, local hangouts, etc. all require a certain amount of guts. 

Perhaps this is what Paul was experiencing when he wrote to the Corinthians: “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). Fear is a natural response as we leave our own spiritual and peer comfort zone to “cross-culturally” contact teens. But if we are afraid to go to them, isn’t it easy to see why they would be terrified to come to a church or church-based group? Remember Christ’s promise: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). 

Results may come slowly. We must face the possibility that we will not see the impact of our connecting intentionality for a long time. I remember my first contacts well. Not only was I nervous, but I felt awkward and out of place; yet I was always praying and asking God to help me know what to say. I wanted students to know that I was truly interested in their lives and cared enough to spend time with them. Connecting is slow and often discouraging, but trust develops over time. 

Remember the wisdom of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

—by Dave & Rennie Garda, Cadre Missionaries, dave@cadremissionaries.com

 

Cadre’s Twelve Days of Christmas for Disciplemaker’s like YOU!

Celebrate Twelve Days with Cadre Missionaries.Day One: Christmas Day. Cadre Digital Living Guides from the iBookstore for iPads, Computers and iPhones for only .99 cents. NEW. These tools just hit the iBookstore in their enhanced made for iBooks formats. You’ll be able to carry with you on your phone, iPad or computer these effective Disciplemaker’s Tools: The Disciplemaker’s Living Guide and the One Another Living Guide.

Day Two: Free Digital PDF edition of Volunteer Dialogue 2. What’s the difference between Speaking, Teaching, Preach and Training?

Day Three: Save $6 on your digital iBookstore edition of Recruiting, Motivating and Retaining Volunteers. Grab your copy for only $6.99

Day Four: Fuel your prayerfulness while you save $1.50 plus get free shipping on your set of 10 Disciplemaker’s Prayer Cards for study plus 10 wallet sized cards.

Day Five: Save $4 and pick up your copy of Encourage Your Pastor for only .99 cents. This made for iBooks digital resource works with your iPhone, iPad or computer.

Day Six: Free Digital copy of Big God, small problems: A disciplemaker’s walk with Nehemiah. This made for iBooks digital resource works with your iPhone, iPad or computer and comes with bonus audio segments to prompt your havering.

Day Seven: Save $6 on your digital iBookstore edition of the Disciplemaker’s Guide to Grow, Minister & Lead (Helping Volunteers and Teams to Live & Support Disciplemaking). Grab your copy for only $6.99. This digital edition includes four bonus equipping audios with Bill Allison.

Day Eight: Save $13 and Getaway like Jesus for only $1.99. This digital PDF edition works with Kindle, iBooks, PDF screen readers.

Day Nine: Get your free copy of Volunteer Training Dialogue #1: Training Like-Jesus Makes all the Difference. This digital PDF edition works with Kindle, iBooks, PDF screen readers.

Day Ten: Free Email From Hell Episode: IDENTITY THEFT. Enjoy this dramatic audio and study sheet pdf to help you understand Satan’s strategy to steal your Spiritual Identity. Save $4.99.

Day Eleven: Free digital audio: How Personal Growth Can Move You from Ordinary to Extraordinary. Save $4.99.

Day Twelve: Free PDF training article from the Disciplemaker’s Guide Chapter 1: Why Volunteers Can Change the World. Save $1.99.

Be watching Cadre’s Facebook Page for daily updates and links.

Are you a victim of identity theft?

A well-dressed businessman was standing in line at the airport check-in counter. He, along with the others in line ahead of him, became quite concerned as they watched the door to the jetway close. When he realized what was happening and that the gate agent was going to have to rebook some of the people on a different flight, the businessman jumped out of line to take matters into his own hands. “Excuse me, Miss, but I need to get on this flight!” he said with more than a little urgency.

The woman replied, “Yes, sir, so do the rest of these people who are in line in front of you. Now kindly take your place back in line and we’ll help you when it’s your turn.”

Well, he didn’t like this at all, so he thought being a little more forceful might help his cause. He said, “You see, if I don’t get on that flight, I’m going to miss my meeting. And if I miss my meeting, I’m going to be very angry with you.”

The agent calmly replied, “Sir, we’ll help you when it’s your turn.”

The man, a prominent, wealthy and well-known businessman, had enough. He glared at the woman and growled, “Do you know who I am?!?”

Also having had enough, the agent picked up the microphone and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. This gentleman at the desk does not seem to know who he is. If anyone can identify him, we would all greatly appreciate your assistance.”

Mr. Highfalutin Businessman huffed and puffed his way to his place in the back of the line.

Do you know who you really are?

I constantly see evidence that the average Christian is a victim of spiritual identity theft. That is, the average Christian has no biblical and meaningful understanding of who they really are in Christ. As Cadre missionaries, we’re out much of the year training volunteers to love and serve God effectively. (It’s our Ephesians 4:11-12 obsession.) During our training, we’ll often ask a room full of volunteers, “How many of you are full-time ministers?” Usually one or two volunteers raise their hands. Think about it. The overwhelming majority of volunteers have embraced a very unbiblical view of themselves, and honestly see themselves as “just volunteers.”

Let me clarify: I understand that most of us will never make our living as full-time ministers, but don’t miss my point: According to the Bible, if you’re a Christian, you really are a full-time minister, regardless of where you work or what you do for a living.

This “full-time-minister” identity is true for ALL followers of Jesus Christ: stay-at-home moms, students, factory laborers, entrepreneurs, educators, administrators, CEOs, sanitation workers, retirees, etc. Yes, I’m talking to YOU. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, YOU are a full-time minister.

I know what you’re thinking. When you hear someone say that a “regular” person like you is a full-time minister, you immediately start listing all the objections why that can’t possibly be true. That’s precisely why I want to take the ax of God’s Word and chop as hard as I can at the most common objections that keep volunteers like you from stepping into their biblical identity as full-time ministers. After all, the Christian life is the process of becoming who God says we are already.

Why our identity matters

[This post is part of our Spiritual Caffeine collection, geared toward encouraging students to grow as disciplemakers.]

I used to be a janitor at a local high school. One night when I was emptying the feminine hygiene boxes in the girls’ bathroom, I came across the wrappings of someone’s lunch: orange juice, container of raspberries, foil wrapper from a sandwich. Seeing this, I stopped and prayed. I also found myself asking: “What would cause someone to hide in the restroom and eat a meal?”

Identity: A look back to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt

God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their descendants were now slaves in Egypt, and God was about to free them in a miraculous way. God speaks to Moses and gives him a message for His people:

“I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.” Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor. (Exodus 6:9)

A promise

Do you see the statement “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God”? God is promising his people that their identity will be anchored to his character—in his identity. Verse nine, however, tells us that they were so broken and with so little hope, they couldn’t even imagine their identity being attached to God himself. But he does it. God is faithful to his promise. He gives these Egyptian slaves a new identity. They are now the people of God.

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Forgetting who they are

Fast forward to the golden calf. It’s a bone-headed move. The Israelites have quickly forgotten the God who loves them and have run into the arms of something else. God has delivered his people, just like he had promised. He is even going to keep his promise of giving them the land of Canaan. But, he tells Moses, “I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.” (Ex. 33:3) Remember the promise… “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” This is too much for Moses to bear. The promise of God’s presence is more precious than anything else. Having an identity that is anchored in the character of God is too important.

“Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me – on me and on your people – if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. (Ex. 33:15-16)

Finding out who we really are

Just like it was for Moses and the Israelites in the desert of Sinai, God’s presence is what gives us our identity. Our identity is found in the immovable unchangeable character of Christ and the forgiveness he gives. That identity gives us hope when we find ourselves in broken in spirit.

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It is in the deliverance, freedom, and redemption of Christ that we find our identity—our hope. In the midst of pressure and pain, that hope—that identity will not disappoint. It is anchored in the love of God and sealed with is presence—the Holy Spirit.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:4-5)

That night standing in a bathroom stall, my prayer was for hope. I was asking God to help this young woman discover the hope of an identity anchored in the forgiveness of Christ.

My prayer today is for your identity too:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

God, help us to embrace the hope found in an identity anchored with you and then overflows with hope in all circumstances.