Disciple vs Believer: Is there a difference?

“It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest.

Over the years, there have been untold numbers of books written about faith, Christianity and Jesus Christ. Learned men have studied, meditated and pored over volumes of deep theological material so that they could speak and teach on the subject. Many have earned advanced degrees in theology at universities and seminaries across the country. One can certainly find layer upon layer of knowledge in academic works and in the Word of God.

Most people in our country today believe there is a God. I know it’s hard to imagine but it’s still true. Many even believe he had a Son whose name was Jesus who lived and taught a long time ago. Some would say they try their best to obey the “big ten” (commandments, that is). But did you know that having extensive doctrinal knowledge, strictly adhering to a particular creed, obeying a set of laws or even believing in the existence of God will not get you to heaven? You see, head knowledge is not the point.

Christianity is not about how much you know, but, about who you know.

Being a Christian is about having a personal relationship with Jesus as your Lord and Savior and accepting His gift of salvation—accomplished through His death on the cross.

Someone once said, “Christianity is not about rules but about relationship.”

If you have come to know Jesus Christ and consider yourself a believer, consider this: Are you also a disciple?

Being a believer is not the same thing as being a disciple

A disciple is devoted to the person of Jesus Christ rather than to a doctrine or creed.

A disciple is willing to make sacrifices for the cause of Christ.

A disciple follows where Jesus leads in this life—both figuratively and literally.

A disciple has a personal and prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ.

“The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him.”

 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest,

A disciple represents God well in the world and is ever-mindful of their witness among the unsaved.

A disciple shares the message of the master—the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Remember how the disciples (that burley rag-tag bunch of rascals) in the Bible left everything—immediately—to follow Jesus? From that point on, their lives became all about Him. They left their families and their jobs behind. They preached His message. They hung on His every word. They learned from Him. They spent time with Him. They were devoted to Him.

May we be as devoted to our master today. Let’s live life as true disciples: soaking up His Word at every opportunity, establishing the cause of Christ as our main priority, bringing others to Him as they watch our life and experience our love and mercy.

And don’t forget: to be a true disciple, we must know our master intimately. That means spending time in prayer and in the Word. We must follow in His steps, day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

Begin today to live a life of true discipleship. You wont regret it!












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Picking the Right Team (in soccer and in life)


Recently, my husband and I had the joy of taking our 5 year old grandson to his soccer game while his parents were otherwise engaged. The task was a challenge for several reasons: This was a new league for him so he wasn’t that familiar with his coach or teammates, it was a very large, unfamiliar venue, and…he was not in the mood to play (to say the least). The morning was very hectic so his mom had thrown his uniform and cleats in a bag for us to put on him when we arrived at the field. Upon parking the car, the battle ensued. Our grandson was not havin’ it (as we like to say in the south). He wouldn’t put the uniform on and did not want to play. Through a tirade of tears and pouts, we eventually won the battle of the uniform and headed over to the field.

There was only one problem. There were at least 10 teams playing on the various fields that day and among the sea of parents and kids, he didn’t recognize his coach! We asked him, “What does your coach look like?”, “Do you see any of your teammates?”, “What’s the name of your team?” All we got in response was a blank stare.

After a few minutes, his wonderful coach, seeing our bewildered looks, came over, took our grandson’s hand and led him onto the field for warm-ups. He ended up playing hard and having a great time with his friends. Praise the Lord for patient and enthusiastic coaches of young children!

The funniest thing about that day is that our grandson (the one who was pouting, crying and being stubborn in the parking lot before the game) earned the sportsmanship award! I find that hilariously ironic.

As adults, we sometimes aren’t sure what team we are on. Not in soccer, of course, but, in life. We follow advice that is not sound because we are more concerned about keeping friendships than following God. We join into gossip-laden conversations because we want to be liked. We unite with a group that is discontent at work or at church and follow them in rebellion. It seems peer pressure (a characteristic of the teen years) can be a factor even in adulthood.

When faced with big decisions in life, it is critical to pray, consult the Word of God, and listen for His voice. If there are others facing the same issue, encourage them to do the same. Never jump on a team with (or follow) people who are functioning in the flesh—especially if they are angry, bitter or acting impulsively. Think for yourself. The world is watching. We always want to follow God’s leading in our lives and not just follow the crowd. 

The bottom line is, like my grandson (who is actually the apple of our eye), be sure you are on the right team! Be ever mindful of your witness and diligent in prayer—especially in times of change or decision-making. God is, after all, the ultimate coach. Know Him. Listen to His wisdom. Follow Him.

In life, as in soccer, play your hardest, with a happy heart and a positive attitude. Who knows? You too, may win the sportsmanship award!

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Roots are Easy, Wings are Hard! : Preparing Your Children for Adulthood

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Minimalist Christianity: Three Reasons Why it’s Not OK.

You go to church on Sunday mornings. You may even tithe occasionally—as long as there is nothing more pressing on which to spend your money. You walked the aisle as a young child and you know that you know, that you’re saved.

Everything’s hunky dory, right? Well, if minimalist Christianity is your goal then, yes, you’ve hit the mark.

Minimalism is a popular lifestyle choice today. Many people have come to realize the burden of excess that’s prevalent in our culture and have cleaned out their garages, sold their extra vehicles, and carted truckloads of stuff to the local thrift store. There’s something to be said for that! I am constantly cleaning out drawers and closets, purging them of unneccesary items and urging my husband (a bit of a pack rat) to do the same.

When it comes to Christianity, however, less is not more. Living a fulfilling and obedient Christian life requires more than the bare minimum, and here is why:

  1. Jesus Christ gave his all for us! He died on the cross suffering shame, rejection, and pain so that we could be reconciled to God and relocate to our heavenly home where we will be in His very presence for eternity. Can we not give more of our lives than a mere hour or two on Sunday mornings?  Are we exerting only minimal effort in serving Christ?
  2. God has given us each a set of specific and unique gifts and talents with which to serve the kingdom of God. If we are not using those gifts, we are inhibiting the function of His church. Of course, not everyone is equipped to teach a Sunday school class or to participate in the music program as a singer or instrumentalist, but perhaps you have a special gift for intercessory prayer or service to the elderly. As the old saying goes, “We are saved to serve, not saved to sit!”
  3. If you have fallen into complacency and are living a minimalist Christian life, you may be—subtly— dragging others down that path right along with you. Dads: Is your life an example of devotion and faithfulness to Jesus Christ? Would your family say of you that serving Christ, spiritual growth, prayer, Bible study and sharing Christ with others are a priority? Moms: Has making it to the gym become more important than meeting the needs of a neighbor in distress or spending time in the Word? Your family and friends are watching. Dads, especially—as the God-ordained spiritual leaders of the home—are teaching by example every moment of the day whether or not they take their faith seriously.

Accepting Jesus Christ is simple and straightforward. We call on Him to save us from our sin, repent, and confess Him as our Lord and Savior—acknowledging Him as the Son of God and the only way of salvation. When we have a personal relationship with Christ, we have the Holy Spirit within us and our life can be filled with joy and peace. However, a truly fulfilling and impactful life requires self-sacrifice, service and devotion to the One True God. Don’t waste your life. Tune in to what God is calling you to do. Open your eyes to those God places in your path to help or encourage. Moms of littles: There is no higher calling than raising those children in the Lord—nurturing, loving, training and disciplining them. That is your service. Your time for other types of service will come. For now, embrace your role as their mama and fuel yourself with the Word of God whenever you can. Find other mamas for friendship and support. For the rest of us:

Don’t be a minimalist Christian. (better known as a S.M.O., Sunday morning only) Look for ways to serve and to grow in the knowledge of the Word. Give what you can to missions. Have a personal quiet time where you can commune with the God of the universe. Find someone to mentor or encourage. Begin keeping a prayer journal and watch how God answers your prayers for yourself and others.

By all means, embrace minimalism at home and purge the excess—clean out your garage, closets and drawers—but do not be a minimalist Christian.

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Reflecting the Light of Christ in the World Today



When the world looks at your face, what do they see? How about when a stranger passes you on the street? Is the love of God reflected in your face? Do you meet people’s gaze as you pass, sharing a smile, or do you avert your eyes—preferring to not engage? 

Many Christians today walk around with an expressionless, downcast face, as if their cat has just died or their shoes are too tight—even at church! They look as if they carry the entire weight of the world on their shoulders. Or maybe they cast a haughty, judging look of disapproval to new people at church who don’t seem to fit the mold of a polished church-goer. If God accepts people with open arms and unconditional love (and HE does!), then we should, too. We are not all bubbly, exuberant extroverts, for sure, but we all have a smile to share with a fellow human being.

How are we to attract the unsaved world to the life-giving gospel of Christ if we constantly look sad, angry or worse—arrogant and unapproachable? People will more likely turn and walk the other way than inquire about the life we have in Christ.

As believers, we have the unmatched joy of having a personal relationship with the God of the universe. We have hope and help in difficult and desperate situations. We have peace amid the cultural chaos because we know the end of the story. We have fellowship with the family of God—our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the everlasting love of God and His forgiveness when we mess up. We have eternal life in heaven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. What is it about these truths that could possibly make us gloomy and downcast? 

The love and light of Jesus should be evident in our lives. It should show on our faces just like it did with Moses and with Stephen.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, after speaking with God and receiving the Ten Commandments, his face shone like the sun. It was so startling that the Israelites who saw him were afraid. This continued to happen each time he met with the Lord in the tent of the tabernacle, causing him to have to wear a veil over his face when he was in front of the people. He would remove it only when he would go in to speak with God. It seemed the glory of the Lord was reflected in his face.  (Exodus 34:30-35)

Then there was Stephen, who was chosen to serve widows and proclaim the gospel in the early church. He was “full of faith and power” and did “signs and wonders” in the name of Jesus. As he spoke before the council when accused of blasphemy, the Bible says his face was shining like that of an angel. Angels are often described as brilliant, glowing creatures with faces like lightening or fire, or with clothing as white as snow. (Acts 6:15)

It was God Himself who dramatically changed Moses’s appearance as a sign that he spoke with the power of God. The same with Stephen. Their encounter with the God of the universe showed on their faces.

“Well”, you say, “they actually encountered God! We can’t encounter Him like that today”.

Hey, not so fast…

When we read the Bible and meditate on its words and precepts—we encounter God.

When we go to our knees in prayer—petitioning, pleading and praising—we encounter God.

When we experience the beauty of nature, the miracle of birth, the unity of corporate worship and the excitement of revival—we encounter God.

The joy of the Lord is something that comes from inside—from a heart inhabited by the Holy Spirit. All believers have the capacity for a joy-filled, hopeful, approachable countenance that will draw others to Christ. Unfortunately, we often let worldly cares weigh us down. We forget to count our blessings—to live with gratitude. And we forget that  all people are precious and valuable to God and deserve our kindness, love and attention.

This week as you walk around your community or down the halls of your church, remember that the Holy Spirit resides in you, therefore, let your light shine so that others may see the joy, peace and hope of Jesus Christ in your radiant face. 

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

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