Grow in Grace & Knowledge of the Lord: Purposeful Discipleship in 2016Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Church, Discipleship, Grace, Sabbath, Spiritual Disciplines
Fresh Wind for a Fresh Year
As Metallica encouraged us, we have “turned the page” from 2015 to 2016 (we are aware that Bob Seger did this first). A new day has dawned full of grace and potential for you, me, our churches and our world. Do we want to be part of the solution? Do we want to grow in the “grace and knowledge” of our blessed Lord? I know you you do. Let me share a few ideas. Print these out. Commit to not reading this but to doing it.
I have thought of ten challenges of faith and life for growing in grace and knowledge. Some will make you uncomfortable. All will change you. God will bless you in each of this I am certain. So we focus focus on expanding our view of the world and growing in empathetic love (do we grow if we do no have empathetic love?). If we arrive at this same time in 2017, it is my prayer that you will have put your shoulders to the “grace challenge” and have found them rewarding and life changing.
Be involved in Life Groups and the life of the church. Love does not just happen … Love is PROACTIVE. Leviticus 25 and 1 John 3.11-24 are my theme texts for the whole year. I plan to read these texts every Monday for 52 weeks of the year. Join me. Be blessed.
1) Be faithful to God, and his Messiah, in the local family in which you find yourself. This means be faithful in attendance at the Gatherings (I am serious about this), contribute to a positive experience in corporate worship, contribute financially (as an act of worship) out of love to the local church. Promote love with positive talk and refusing to participate community destroying activiy like gossip. Model this discipleship for your children. Say good things about your congregation, after all they are YOUR family.
2) Read the “capital” books of the Bible several times this year: Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Jonah, the Gospels, Romans, 1 Peter & 1 John. Read 3 to 4 chapters each day. You will be surprised how much you cover and you will find yourself able to reread parts. Such reading combines with prayer. Model this discipleship for your children. (Disclaimer – I do not think we only read these books btw but …) Just DO IT
3) Purpose to practice the Year of the Lord’s favor. Take your family to work in the community food bank, volunteer at the Gospel Rescue Mission, put a hammer in your theology with Habitat for Humanity.
4) Purpose to practice a Sabbath principle in your work and family life. Regularly set aside time – never to be tampered with except under dire circumstances – to refresh your marriage with your wife, play with your kids (involves more than watching TV), and ENJOY the gracious gift of life.
5) Purpose to read a couple books on the following list. To do this you must actually just DO IT as they say. I specifically chose these books because they are well written, EASY to read, fit the criteria of expanding our world and challenge us to practice empathetic love. They will cover biblical subjects and living “Christianly” in the world. I would love to see my friends read all of them:
a] Christopher Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. (One of the best books on showing the essentiality of the OT for the Christian faith
b] Gary Holloway & Douglas Foster, Renewing God’s People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ. (A wonderful book and fits the bill of concise)
c] Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Other (Putting in practice our Jubilee life)
d] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (a most challenging and expanding book)
e] Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (nuts and bolts of being Jubilee people)
f] Spencer Perkins & Chris Rice, More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel (a truly loving, compassionate and enlightening work. Will absolutely help us expand our world and live as Jubilee people).
6) Purpose to practice Jubilee for at least one single child through a reputable organization such as World Vision. Get your whole family involved in fighting poverty, set the captive free, practice love. World Vision can help. Purpose to teach your children the value of sharing and giving.
7) Purpose in your heart that you will actually sacrifice in 2016. Model this gift for your children.
8) Purpose to practice Jubilee with a senior saint in your congregation and even your neighborhood. On Sunday invite them to your home or out to eat (and pay for it). Take him or her to the movie, honor their birthday, listen to them.
9) Practice Jubilee by inviting people to your Life Group, Worship Gathering and other times of koinonia.
10) Our final challenge is to do each of the previous nine at least once. The goal of the faith challenge for 2016 is to do these enough to be habit forming.
There is no way we can practice these Jubilee challenges in 2016 and not come away with a deeper God vision of the world and a burning cruciform love for the whole of His creation. These will provide nutrition for “growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Spiritual growth is not a matter of mountain top experiences. Spiritual growth is a matter of being conformed to the image of God’s dear Son.
May the God of every Spiritual blessing be with you and me as we set sail on this purposeful journey to grow in grace and knowledge together.
“May the LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon
you, and give you SHALOM.”