Three Reminders for Anyone Who Disciples (Including Parents)

I recently finished 4 Chair Discipleship: What Jesus Calls Us to Do by Dann Spader (Moody Press, 2014). Spader writes about the way Jesus discipled and learns from his method. Spader spends time looking at each stage of discipleship from non-believer through the multiplier stage, what he calls the “disciple-making disciple.” And he explores how to move from one chair to the next.

Near the end of the book, Spader lists three reminders that those who seek to disciple others should keep in mind. These reminders are particularly important for parents as well as those who work with kids and students.

First, each person you disciple is at a different stage of the process. Next generation disciplers should always be encouraging the kids and students in their care to take next steps in their growth. As parents or children’s ministry workers we need to understand the difference between childish immaturity and perpetual immaturity. Understanding this well means having maturity ourselves. Spader writes, “Maturity means we understand the development process and work with people based on their stage of life and always give them plenty of grace for that stage” (128).

Secondly, at every stage of a person’s journey, we need the Holy Spirit. On this point Spader writes, “As spiritual parents we know better than anyone that ‘apart from Christ we can do nothing’ but ‘in Christ all things are possible’” (129). Only God’s Spirit can change and transform someone’s heart. It’s our job to be faithful with the message and let him do his work.

Finally, our goal in the journey is holiness. Here, Spader says, “We cannot be holy apart from His constant cleansing. And holiness is God’s agenda for each of us, for as we mature we move from grace to grace and become more like Him” (130). Striving for holiness means that we live our lives confessing every known sin to those we are seeking to disciple. We lead by example, modeling what repentance and forgiveness looks like in real life. And this is particularly true when we’ve sinned against them.

Overall, I really loved Spader’s book. It’s great for any believer who is seeking to be faithful as a disciple-maker. Pick it up to be challenged and encouraged in your own discipleship journey.

Family Friday Links 8.9.19


Here’s what we’ve been reading online this week:

Ministry Spark had a post on the topic of family devotions. It reads, “Often the biggest roadblocks in the way of a parent initiating a meaningful devotional time at home is what he or she assumes about this practice.” The post goes on to like 3 common misconceptions. This is an encouraging post for all parents to consider.

Our friend, Sam Luce, had a post for dads. He says in part, “… so many dads I talk to want to be better dads they have no idea what that looks like.” He goes on to list 3 ways to be a better dad. These are important qualities to be thinking about in order to not just do better, but be better.

Scott Slayton had a post on questions to ask your kids when they profess faith. It reads, “Though we can never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if our child has actually trusted Christ, we can see evidence that points to a genuine conversion—even if it looks different from an adult one.” He goes on to list 5 diagnostic questions that kids should be able to answer. This is a great post for parents, pastors, and ministry leaders alike.

What have you been benefitting from online recently? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

He Reads Truth (Judges): Deborah Judges Israel


I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.

What follows is one of the pieces I wrote for the Judges reading plan. You can find the full plan HERE.


Day 4: Deborah Judges Israel
Judges 4–5, Job 19:25–27, Psalm 68:7–10

There’s about a foot of distance between our head and our heart. And there’s only about four to six feet between our heads and our feet. But it takes so long for obedience to go that distance! Too often I understand God’s commands and priorities in my head, but I fail to feel their importance. I may know what God has spoken, but I’m slow to put it into practice.  

Sometimes this is a problem with the way I think about leadership too. I can wrongly think that the person who is the most articulate--the one who seems to hear God’s voice most clearly--is a great leader. But true leadership doesn’t just hear and speak. It puts words and faith into action (James 2:14-26). Barak didn’t have any issues with understanding God’s command to deploy Israel’s troops. He and Deborah both heard God speak (ch. 4, v. 6). But what held Barak back from true leadership was his lack of courage. He wasn’t brave enough to act.

I have sympathy for Barak. It’s hard to step out in faith when circumstances are stacked against us. From a merely human perspective, Barak’s mission was doomed to failure. God told Barak to deploy his troops on Mount Tabor, but the mount was exposed, bordered only by the Kishon river basin, which was dried up most of the year. If he’d deployed his army there, Sisera’s chariots could easily surround them and cut off their escape. This was a suicide mission. No wonder Barak found God’s command so hard to obey!

But in spite of the odds, Deborah and Jael boldly trusted God. Their courageous leadership succeeded where Barak’s petered out (ch. 4, v. 9).

Deborah boldly summoned Barak. She reminded him about God’s promise of victory. And, when he continued to cower, she bravely went into battle with him (ch. 4, vv. 6-10). God honored her faith and fought for the Israelites. From chapter five, we learn that the Lord poured down rain, causing flash floods that trapped the enemy chariots (ch. 5, v. 4). As a result, God threw Sisera and all his charioteers into a panic before Barak’s assault (ch. 4, v. 15-16).

Then, as the enemy Sisera fled on foot, Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, offered him a place to rest. Inviting the general into her tent was a risk. Sisera had hoped to carry off Israelite women after the battle--“a girl or two for each warrior”  (ch. 5, v. 30). He could easily have taken advantage of Jael sexually before he fell asleep. But God honored Jael’s courage (and quick thinking!) by delivering Sisera’s life into her hands (ch. 4, vv. 17-22; ch. 5, vv. 24-27).

Where can we find courage like Deborah’s and Jael’s? Where do we find the kind of obedient faith that is willing to go to risky, vulnerable places in obedience to God’s call?  This kind of leadership only comes from looking to the invulnerable God who made himself vulnerable for us. God’s own courageous mission teaches us courageous leadership. The Father loved the world and sent the Son. The Father and Son send the Spirit. The Spirit forms us as his church and calls us to courageously participate in his mission to the world. Even when we languish in courage, God promises to sends his Holy Spirit like abundant rain. He revives us, so that we can leave behind what hinders, step out, and boldly obey his Word (Psalm 68:9).

Family Friday Links 8.2.19


Here’s what we’ve been reading online recently:

Joe Carter had a post on the Gospel Coalition site on helping kids study the Bible. He lists what to help kids see as they study and then ends this way, “Studying the Bible is difficult work that requires focus and attention—two traits children often lack. Be patient with them and don’t expect too much over a brief time.” Parents it’s not enough that your kids read the Bible, but that they actually study it. This will help in that pursuit.

J. Warner Wallace had a post on the Ministry Spark site on kids and Christian confidence. He lists several things to be doing in order to support the faith of the next generation. The critical question we should be asking is this: “What do I need to do to strengthen the relationships I have with my kids so I can continue to speak into their lives and become the kind of person they want to engage on these issues?” Parents, this is well worth your time.

My friend Scott Kedersha had another great post on marriage and how to rebuild trust once it’s been broken. He list 6 things that are essential to this process. He ends the post this way: “The world tells us couples can’t heal from infidelity. The world is wrong.” God can do and does what seems impossible for man.

What have you been benefitting from online recently? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out!