Monday, June 29, 2015

Walk the Discipleship Circle

Walking the Discipleship Circle

The gathered delegates, pastors and attenders of the North Central Conference Annual Conference 2015 made a radical commitment. 

We all committed to weekly and intentionally “Walk the Discipleship Circle” with at least one other person. The Discipleship Circle is a simple way of living out daily devotion to Jesus and grow as His followers. 

We will encourage each other to daily BE with God, in His holy and loving presence through intentional prayer and searching the Scriptures.  Consequently, we have faith that as we spend more time with our Lord we will SEE more clearly his will for our lives – how to treat others, how to bless our communities, how to treat ourselves, how to bless the church, how to honor God. We believe that in so being with Christ and seeing the Spirit’s direction, with community encouragement and spiritual empowerment, we can actually do what God desires. Jesus said, “Those who love me, obey me” (John 14:23, 24, & Ps.119:167, 1Peter.1:22, 1John.2:5, etc.). 

As a conference, we have identified together a startling definition of “disciple.” 

A disciple is a radical follower of Jesus living out self-sacrificial love for God and others, and helping others do the same.

Radical means at the root, an event or change that affects the fundamental nature of something, thorough and comprehensive. The concept of being a radical follower of Jesus flows directly from a principle distinctive of the Free Methodist Movement – entire sanctification. Entire sanctification is simply the hope, possibility and reality that God can and does answer the scriptural prayer (1Thessalonians 5:23) “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” and that as a gift of the Holy Spirit, nurtured through our being, seeing and doing, we really can “Love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

It’s radical – not complicated. With whom are you going to walk the discipleship circle?    

Call to PRAY

The clarion call from the Spirit to the superintendent over the past few years has been PRAY.  We seek to fulfill the Great Commission and be a Great Commandment people.  We develop plans regularly to win souls and build projects and impact our communities.  And sometimes we pray.  Usually we pray.  But rarely without ceasing, and often not as a first order priority.  The primal spiritual act is communion with God, conversation with our maker, even as in the garden Adam is not seen writing laws or laying out strategic gardening plans, but rather conversing with God.  The act of willful transgression against the Creator warped the relationship so that clear conversational communion no longer defined the human-divine interaction.  But that is brokenness, not optimal existence. Christ came to reverse the curse and through the Spirit with us, above us and in us, we have amazing open access to our Abba once again. 

In my annual dialogues with pastors I have found that almost half of us do not pray daily in much more than a perfunctory fashion.  Seasons of fasting and seeking after God’s face for our souls, the souls of others and the spirit-led direction of our churches is the exception, not the rule. We are, many say, too busy to pray. Fasting, say others, is just not “my thing.”  Yet God has called us into a synergistic relationship with Him so that we can accomplish more together than alone. God, in Divine wisdom has chosen to accomplish His work on earth through the spirit-led hands and feet of human beings called into relationship with Him.  There is no other way revealed in Scripture. 

We must pray. Pray first. Pray together. Pray daily. Praise God for abundant and manifold blessings – even those which arise through suffering.  Repent of lackadaisical attitudes, outright sins of commission, silence toward injustices in our midst and sometimes perpetuated by our own attitudes.  Ask in order to receive – spiritual power, provision for ministry, clarity of direction, miracles of healing and empowered gifting from on high.  Yield to the promptings of the Spirit either made clear in Scripture, through the counsel of Spirit-led partners and even (WE PRAY!) through the direct witness of the Spirit to our innermost selves.

We will reverse no bad trend and build on sinking sand if we are not a praying people.  As a praying people, there is no obstacle too large for God and fruitful power shall descend upon us.