3 Lessons Every Role Model Needs to Learn

Have you ever seen yourself as a model? Not a magazine model but a role model.

  • Fathers know they are role models.

  • Mothers, too, and grandparents. 

  • Teachers and coaches have a sense of their influence in the lives of their students and players.

What we discover in our passage is that every Christian is a role model in how we represent Jesus to the world.

In this sense, we are all missionaries, sent by God to live in our own sphere of influence, making a difference by how we live our ordinary lives.

We are all missionaries, sent by God to live in our own sphere of influence, making a difference by how we live our ordinary lives.

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One way we missionally reflect Jesus is by living a life that seeks to do good to others--to bless them. To help them. To make their lives better. Often, the call is to show mercy to them by sacrificing ourselves.

Some call this “deed” evangelism. What we do testifies to what Jesus has done.

This is much easier said than done.

Because the principle of living for the good of others is totally counter-intuitive—backwards to the way we naturally function (unless you are a mother!).

If you are like me, then you tend to be the one seeking to be the recipient of good.

I prefer to get a good deal rather than give a good deal.

In our passage, Paul makes a big deal about this “role model” principle.

His primary concern is missional. Paul knows that, if you are a disciple of Jesus, people are watching to see what you will say and how you will act in all kinds of circumstances. Our neighbors are watching. Our children are watching.

Paul’s concern is not that we live with an aura of holier than thou-ness. He concern is that we accurately represent the truth of the gospel as we live as recipients of grace from the King of glory.

In 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 we learn three lessons about how receiving grace results in doing good by showing mercy.

The first lesson is that...

1. Just because I can do something doesn't mean that I should do it. 

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 

Paul is addressing Christians who are using grace to excuse what we might call unwise behavior.

If challenged, they would be quick to claim that in Christ they are free from the condemnation of the law. No one can judge them because they are under grace.

Paul would heartily agree! They are under grace and free from judgement. No doubt.

But that doesn’t mean that actions do not have consequences.

I can stay up playing video games until 3:00 am every night and still be saved, right? But that doesn’t mean that is good for me. Not everything is equally beneficial and constructive.

There are lots of things that are legal that are harmful.

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it.

This is not only true for how it affects me but for how my actions affect others, which leads to the second lesson for being a role model.

2. I should consider how my actions may affect other people.

Look at verse 24, where Paul begins with a general principle.

24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”  27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 

You may remember from a previous study in our series that practically all meat sold in public markets in ancient Corinth previously had been sacrificed in the context of a pagan religious ceremony.

Paul had previously stated, and reaffirms his position, that a believer is free to eat meat purchased in the market, even if it had been part of a pagan religious ceremony.

In other words, meat is just meat. It was not contaminated nor was it indwelt by or to be associated with a false god.

Yet for the sake of mission--for the sake of how our actions affect others--Paul notes an exception to the rule starting in verse 28.


28 However, if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

Can you see what Paul is doing here?

The issue is not the meat itself. The issue is how an unbeliever would interpret the believer’s actions.

The Christian is free to eat the meat. But in this context, the unbeliever very well may get the wrong impression, thinking that to be a follower of Jesus is no different than worshipping the pantheon of Roman gods.

By the Christian’s consumption of sacrificed meat, the believer may be communicating to his host that Jesus is just one of many options, not an exclusive Savior and Lord. Not the only way to be reconciled with God.

The application here isn’t about eating meat. It is about what my life is communicating about Jesus.

As Jesus was willing to sacrifice for my good, am I willing to sacrifice for someone else’s good--even if it means sacrificing my own freedom?

How else can we justify turning down a juicy filet.

Remember the principle:  “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

This really is counter-intuitive.

For example, after our services on Sundays, it is so easy for me to gravitate to my comfort zone--to people I already know well. It is not a natural thing for an introvert like myself to seek out those standing alone.

In that moment, what would it look like for me to not seek my own good but the good of someone else on a Sunday morning?

I don’t have to speak to a newcomer after a service on a Sunday morning in order to be justified. I can huddle with my comfort zone.

But just like Jesus was willing to leave his comfort zone of heaven to us good on earth, grace moves us out of our comfort zones to do good--with intentionality, on purpose.

Just like Jesus was willing to leave his comfort zone of heaven to us good on earth, grace moves us out of our comfort zones to do good in the lives of others.

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But in order to be propelled by the grace of God...

3. I must become captivated with the glory of God.

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please [bless?] everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

What does it mean to “do it all for the glory of God?”

A clue may be found in the Old Testament Hebrew word for glory, kabod, which conveys a sense of weightiness, as in heaviness.

Kabod even sounds heavy!

Other words used to describe the concept of glory include grandeur, majesty, and honor.

Therefore, to do something for the “glory of God,” is to do whatever it is with reference the greatness of God and the grace of God.

Donald Barnhouse, the long-time pastor for 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, was know to say that “God’s greatest glory is his grace.” In a similar way, we could say that to glorify God is to magnify his mercy.

This magnification of mercy is not only what we need, it is what our children need and what the folks at our workplace need. Mercy is what liberals need and what conservatives need. Mercy is what abortionists need and what Pharisees need. Mercy is what I need.

When I really believe that, it will turn me into a genuine gospel role model--a role model of mercy for a sphere of influence that desperately needs mercy, not the least of which live in our own homes.

The Glory of Creation and Redemption

During the total solar eclipse that swept across the United States on August 21, 2017, footage of WGN Chicago's Lead Meteorologist, Tom Skilling, went viral around the internet because of the 65-year-old’s emotional response to the event.

Watching the eclipse from a lakefront in Illinois that was in the heart of  “the path of totality,” his camera crew focused one camera on the moon passing in front of the sun, but had a second camera on Tom Skilling. Overcome with tearful emotion, with hands raised in awe, he repeated over and over, "Look at that. Look at that. Wow."

When asked about his response, Skilling said, “It (just) snuck up on me… I was overwhelmed by the enormity of it.”

If a weatherman can be emotionally undone by the enormity of a solar eclipse, how much more a sinner by the magnitude of the cross?

God’s creation is a glory. But his redemption is an even greater glory where Jesus, magnifying the mercy of God, puts himself in the path of judgment’s totality, experiencing the fullness of sin so that we can receive the fullness of grace.

It is only when I receive the fullness of this grace that I will be empowered as a role model of mercy.

I can’t give what I don’t have.

So, how to I get it? How to I receive God’s mercy?

Ask. Just ask.

Jesus told a story about a sinner who goes to the Temple and becomes overwhelmed by his sinfulness. He cries out to heaven in prayer, asking, “Have mercy on me, O God, the sinner!”

He just asks.

What does Jesus say about that man? That he went home justified. Forgiven. Clean. Righteous.

You see, grace flows downhill. Not to those who deserve it or can earn it, but to those who can’t. To those who need it and know they need it.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your need for mercy, just ask, and then be overwhelmed by God’s gift of mercy.

This is how we begin to be role models of mercy who do good to those, who like us, don’t deserve it. Because mercy is not deserved. It is the grace that changes everything. 

If this article helped you, maybe it will help someone else, too. 

Have you ever seen yourself as a model? Not a magazine model but a role model. Fathers know they are role models. Mothers, too, and grandparents.  Teachers and coaches have a sense of their influence in the lives of their students and players. What we discover in our passage is that every Christian is a … Continue reading 3 Lessons Every Role Model Needs to Learn

How to Take Communion with Three Simple Words

At Creekstone Church, we celebrate communion (or the Lord's Supper) on the second Sunday of each month.

We call the sacrament communion because the eating and drinking of physical elements (bread and juice) provides a context in which we are able to personally as well as communally commune with Jesus in such a way that our souls are not only refreshed with grace and strengthened by the indwelling presence of the Spirit.

The English word communion comes from two Latin words, cum, which means with, and unitas, which means unity. Therefore, to "commune" is to experience a deep sense of unity with someone—an inseparable bond, like super glue.

This is what the sacrament of communion is to accomplish—an existential refreshing and strengthening of the soul as we consciously abide in Jesus as our sin-bearer and righteousness provider.

But I have a confession to make. While I have partaken of the communion elements countless times, I very rarely have sensed anything powerful taking place in my soul.

Participating in communion has been confusing. Maybe you have been confused, too.  I often wondered: what am I doing wrong?

As I reflected upon my own experience with communion, especially in view of this message, I have had a eureka moment… and I want to share it with you from 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

The eureka moment may not be immediately clear as we walk through this passage. But by the end, I assure you that three small but substantive and ultimately life-changing words will emerge to change how you participate in communion this morning.[1]

Let’ start in verse 14.

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

If we go back to the first part of chapter 10, we find that Paul had revealed the dangers of idolatry. By an idol, we do not mean a statue of wood or stone. In the simplest terms, an idol is anything to which we look for salvation apart from Jesus.

For example:

  • Money can be an idol for those who use
    it to make a name for themselves, where success becomes my gospel.
  • A relationship can be an idol for
    someone who is so insecure they’d rather be abused than be alone. In this case,
    just not being alone is my gospel.
  • Alcohol can be an idol for those of us
    who can’t cope with the stress and sadness of living in such a broken world. My
    gospel becomes emotional relief through substance dependency.[2]
  • Religion can be an idol for those
    trying to overcome a sense of guilt with a sense of moral superiority, where my
    goodness is my gospel.

Paul tells us to flee from these things in their idolatrous forms. Not because they will steal your salvation (which is 100% grace through the finished work of Christ) but because they will steal your joy and dilute your
loyalty to Jesus.

For the professing Christian, an idol functions like ice in a Coke. Eventually, the ice melts and dilutes the soft-drink.  If you’ve ever had a
badly diluted Coke you know that it is gross. Water, yes. Coke, yes. Watered down Coke. No thank you.  

This is what was taking place among the believers in Corinth.  They were diluting their commitment to Jesus with idolatry. For them, this idolatry was manifested by their participation in pagan worship ceremonies and is the background for what Paul says in verses 15-18.

15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

This is an appeal to logic. If idolatry is like ice that ruins coke, shouldn’t we take idolatry seriously for what it may be doing, even if slowly and
unnoticeably—like melting ice—to our relationship with God in Christ?

16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we
break a participation in the body of
Christ?  17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate
in the altar?

Did you notice a word that was repeated three times in those verses? In the Greek, the word is koinonia, which means relational intimacy
and oneness—communion.

When we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are being invited to experience intimacy and union with Jesus as we re-encounter
the practical implications of the cross.

But how do we do that? This is the eureka moment that I will explain in just a bit.

For now, we need to know that in Greco-Roman culture, pagan worship included sacrifices in much the same way that Christian communion looked to the sacrifice of Jesus.

In the same way that Communion is like the Israelite feasts that foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus, participants in Roman paganism would eat the meat of the animals sacrificed to their cultural gods.

Pagan worship practices were as cultural as they were truly spiritual. Everybody did it. Even if you didn’t believe it. It was like being patriotic to the Greco-Roman culture.[4]

Here is the danger. The Corinthians’ exposure to cultural pagan worship was not as innocuous as they thought. It was far more subversive, diluting the loyalty of the church to Jesus.

And that really was the issue. Full and complete surrender to the saving grace and sovereign Lordship of Jesus.

Paul makes this point clear and presses the issue in verse 19.

19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

There is that word again, participants. And yes, the Greek form of the word is a derivative of koinonia—fellowship, oneness, union.

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

Paul is showing us that behind any idol or the worship of an imposter god is a demon seeking to dilute our commitment
to Jesus as Lord.

  • So, yes. Religions like Islam and Hinduism are demonic.
  • But so is materialism, racism, and all forms of self-righteous pride, with Christian legalism the most demonic of them all, because it is the most deceptive—making adherents think they are Christians when, in reality, they are just self-righteous moralists who don’t really need Jesus. Some of us need deliverance from that idol more than any other.

Whether it is a rival religion or a rival salvation strategy where we find our identity in some kind of self-righteousness, all rivals to Jesus as an all-sufficient Savior are intended by the demonic to distract us from God’s saving grace and to dilute with cultural compromises our commitment to following Jesus as Lord.

But we are the beloved of God, those for whom Jesus demonstrated the greatest loyalty and commitment. To betray Jesus with a diluted form of Christianity would cause him, like any spouse, to become covenantally jealous for the restoration of the intimacy that he desires with his blood bought people.

Which leads Paul to ask in verse 22

22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy?
Are we stronger than he?

With these two questions, Paul cuts to the chase.

Idolatry is the problem. It is the chasm that is keeping me from experiencing the peace, the contentment, the hope, and the fullness of joy that is available for those who are fully surrendered to the saving grace of God.

It was April 8, 1865. After a long night and day of marching, Robert E. Lee
and the exhausted Army of Northern Virginia made camp just east of Appomattox Courthouse. The day prior, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant had sent him a letter asking Lee to surrender. Lee refused.

After the next morning’s battle, Lee conceded, "There is
nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths."  Meeting General Grant, Lee said "We are pressed and are ready to surrender. What are your terms?"

Due to the heinous treatment of slaves for generations, we can imagine quite a severe term of surrender. However, and surprisingly, the
terms did not include judgment, arrest, or retribution. The terms were to stop fighting and to start living. Lee’s soldiers, who hadn't eaten in days,
were given meal rations, including horses with which to take back home so that they could plow their fields and plant their crops. [5]

Rather than surrender being the end. It represented a new beginning.

This is what full and unconditional surrender to
Jesus looks like. It is not the end but a new beginning.

Some of us could use a new beginning today.

The law tells us that we deserved judgment and retribution.

But the gospel proclaims in no uncertain terms that Jesus received judgement for us so that we could be free to live… by grace… because Jesus, the ultimate General, was willing to die the thousand deaths in his one death upon a cross, demonstrating full and unconditional surrender to the will of the Father.

This is why communion becomes the moment of truth.

Will I remained entrenched in hard-heartedness or will I come forward to surrender my life to Jesus—the one who surrendered his for me?

But how do we do it? How do we surrender?

Here is the eureka moment. Surrender takes place with three simple but life-transforming words.  

“Thank you, Jesus.”

In communion, as we take the bread and eat, we simply say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

We take the cup and drink, saying, “Thank you, Jesus.”

After all, what does Paul call the communion cup? The cup of thanksgiving!

Thankfulness is the posture of surrender.

  • Thank you, Jesus, for the cross.
  • Thank you for saving me from my sin and idolatry.
  • Thank you for setting me free from condemnation.
  • Thank you for loving me… for loving me.

“Thank you, Jesus.”

“Thank you, Jesus.”

“Thank you, Jesus.”

[1] How can eating a wafer and drinking a small amount of juice be a means of grace that strengthens the soul? Some Christian traditions have answered that question differently. For example, the
Roman Catholic Church teaches that merely ingesting the elements infuses the soul with grace. Others view participation in the supper as just a memorial to Jesus, where we intellectually remember the life, death, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus. I think both of these views miss the point of why God has given us spiritual, existential signs, whereby we have to take something with our hands and then consciously eat and drink. The elements are not magical nor are they merely memorial. They are invitational, welcoming us to engage personally and communally with the very practical implications of the cross.

[2] I am speaking of those prone to abuse alcohol and become dependent. Alcohol itself is a neutral thing that can be enjoyed in moderation or abused in excess.

[3] This is why we named our home fellowship groups K-Groups, after the concept of koinonia.

[4] Just like many Romans were “cultural pagans,” many professing Christians today are “cultural Christians.”  I’m not a Muslim or an atheist. So, I must be a Christian by default.

[5] Brian Kohout, Rolesville, North Carolina: source: Harold Holzer, Gabor S.Boritt and Mark E. Neely Jr., "Appomattox Courthouse," HistoryNet

At Creekstone Church, we celebrate communion (or the Lord's Supper) on the second Sunday of each month.We call the sacrament communion because the eating and drinking of physical elements (bread and juice) provides a context in which we are able to personally as well as communally commune with Jesus in such a way that our … Continue reading How to Take Communion with Three Simple Words

Hope for Disconnected Disciples

With the virtual extinction of telephone land lines, the most common form of communication now is via cell phone. While certain cell service providers are more reliable than others, everyone has experienced the dreaded “dropped call.”

To get disconnected is so frustrating.

But it also can be dangerous. In a health emergency. A serious traffic accident. A dropped call can be a life or death situation.

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul is addressing the danger of being a disconnected disciple. Not disconnected on a phone call, but the danger of the disconnection we may experience between what we say we believe and how we actually live.

For example:

  • I may say that God is my Father, but I live fearful and anxious, like an orphan.
  • I may say my Father is sovereign, wise, and good, but I worry, effectively denying his sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness.
  • I may say I am saved by grace, but live like I have to keep myself in good standing in the Kingdom. I live by own striving to perform well enough rather than by the performance of Jesus for me.
  • I may say I’m free but live under the feeling of condemnation.
  • I may say that Jesus is my Lord and Leader whom I follow, but I live as if my peers, the love of money, a need for success or the taste of sinful, soul destroying lusts are my true Lord… my true love.

It is this last disconnect that was pervasive in Corinth.

Before we go further, I want to be clear about something fundamental. According to the Bible, it is not our morality that puts a sinner in a right, reconciled relationship with God as Father. It is a right, reconciled relationship with God as Father that influences our morality. We may be saved unto a new life; but we are not saved by living a new life. We are saved by the life Jesus lived for us.

We may be saved unto a new life, but we are not saved by living a new life. We are saved by the life Jesus lived for us.

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Consequently, if there is a moral disconnect in my life, the problem is a faith disconnect.

Maybe that describes you. You don’t need me to convince you that your life is largely disconnected from God. The good news is that there is hope for the disconnected disciple. There is a light at the end of the tunnel of this post.

Paul reveals this light first by diagnosing the Corinthian’s disconnect with a history lesson, going back to the time of Moses around 1,450 B.C.

The first thing he shows us is that mere participation in religious activities does not equal heart transformation.

1 Cor. 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.[1]  

 Moses is the Old Testament Christ-figure through whom the Lord delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea and across the Sinai peninsula to the promised land in Palestine. The cloud was representative of God’s presence to lead the people. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. When the cloud moved on, they moved on with it.

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Paul is setting us up for a shocking revelation. The Israelites had eaten the manna in the desert and witnessed the miracle of water gushing from a rock to quench the thirst of thousands upon thousands. Here is the shocker.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.


Just because they had participated in these events did not mean that their hearts—their true affections—had been changed from sin-lovers to God-lovers. They actually loved comfort and security more than what the Lord had planned for them. They didn’t want to endure the difficulty of the desert and didn’t believe that the Lord had something better planned if they would just trust him.[2]

They were spiritually disconnected.[3]

Paul now applies the lessons from Israel’s past to the present.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they didDo not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”

The “pagan revelry” of which Paul speaks refers to the infamous Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32.  While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai receiving instructions for how to lead the people and shape them as a community, the Israelites broke out into pagan worship, which often was characterized by drunkenness and sexual immorality, much like the fertility religions of the people surrounding them.

When Moses came down from the presence of the Lord on the mountain to witness the party that was going on in the valley, Moses’s brother Aaron explained, “You know the people, that they are set on evil.”[4]

Not much has changed.

The same sexual temptations were present in Corinth. In fact, Corinth was home to the Temple of Aphrodite, which housed a large number of female prostitutes. Visiting the temple for “religious services” was not only commonplace but  socially acceptable.

Yet we no longer need temples to access sexual immorality and experience the damage it does to the self, the one abused, and to the families impacted.

Paul is teaching the Corinthians and us that how I actually live reveals what I truly believe. How I actually live shows me what my true god is—where I truly find the source of my life. That is what an idol is. Not a statute, but anything we believe will satisfy the soul apart from Jesus.

However, the satisfaction temptation offers does not lead to life. It leads to death.

Therefore, because Paul loves this church, he exhorts them in verses 8-10.

8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.  9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes.  10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

This sounds so severe, until we realize that the opposite of love is to let someone continue down a path that will destroy themselves, their family, or others. This is why the discipline the Lord enforced upon this generation of Israelites was severe but purposeful. Because there wasn’t only one generation.

They older generation had children. To protect the next generation, the Lord had to eradicate the influence of the first generation in order to teach the next generation critical lessons about the dangers of setting our hearts on things that look like they will satisfy us, but in reality will poison us.

Again, these events were not just for the Israelites, but for future generations of believers, like the Corinthians and like us.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  

If we are presuming that because we are on the roll or participate in a church activity that our hearts are transformed, we may be deceiving ourselves.

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. But God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

Here is why you can bear it.

13b But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Resistance is not about my strength to withstand the temptation, but the opportunity God gives to put me in a place where I am protected from temptation.

The issue is not whether or not I will face the dangerous, poison barbed lure of temptation, but whether I will trust the Father enough to take the way out and stand upon the rock of safety and protection that we read about in  Romans 5:1-2, where Paul writes,

"1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."

HERE IS THE POINT. No temptation can reach me or overpower me when I’m standing in that place of grace, consciously believing that I have been declared by God to be right with God, reconciled, forgiven and beloved—all through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. When I am standing there, temptation cannot overpower me because I am protected as the Spirit fills me, establishing my feet on the rock of God’s mercy.

So, what have we learned?

  1. We’ve learned that mere participation in religious activities does not equal heart transformation. Sunday gatherings, Bible studies, discipleship groups are all valuable and vital means of grace. But do not be deceived into thinking that mere participation without faith connected equals heart transformation. Heart transformation is demonstrated by the second take-away.
  2. We’ve learned that how I actually live reveals what I truly believe. You’ve heard it said that actions are louder than words. I suppose that is true. With our spiritual lives. In marriage. In the workplace. Wherever. How I actually live reveals what I truly believe.
  3. Finally, we have learned that discipleship is not about one big decision, but involves 1,000 mini-decisions… as we are faced with temptation after temptation. While there is a first time that we actually become a disciple of Jesus by receiving the forgiving grace of God and we say “Yes, Jesus, I receive you as my Savior and Lord!” It is at that point we receive justification, where we have a new status and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That we cannot lose. We are a disciple  of Jesus and connected with God through union with Christ. But it is that union that we continue to live out of moment by moment, day by day so that discipleship is not something that we primarily look back upon for a decision we made, but we look right now where we are, taking the next step, and the next and the next as we follow Jesus’s lead—his Lordship. Not just in a first decision, but in thousands of mini-decisions that follow.

Jana Goetz had one of those mini-decisions to make. But the implications were anything but mini. It was her first day on the job as a nurse at a new clinic. One of her patients was an 18-month old little boy who had been brought in by his mother for a routine immunization.

After administering the injection, the doctor came in to discuss the next steps with the mother. As Jana recorded the vaccination on the file, she realized a mistake. She had given the infant the wrong vaccine.

A mistake like this could potentially harm her career. But worse, it could harm the child! Or maybe the child would be okay. But if the error were discovered, the physician would think her incompetent. She may never work as a nurse again.

Jana was facing just one of a thousand mini-discipleship decisions. The deeper issue wasn’t, could she get away with it, but what would Jesus have her do in this moment? As his disciple, her calling was to love well. To love this little boy and his mother well. Even if it meant denying herself and revealing the mistake.

In that moment, she decided to abide in Jesus as her righteousness rather than her reputation or career… and walked back in the room and informed the physician.

Thankfully, the vaccine posed no threat to the child. He would be okay. And she would keep her job, having learned a valuable lesson about living what she truly believed. [5] In that moment, she was living a connected life, and it made all the difference. 

But she still could have lost her job. 

Like Jana’s experience shows us, everyday discipleship decisions can be brutally difficult.

This certainly was true for Jesus.

If you remember, right out of the gate after the inauguration of his earthly ministry, while in the midst of a 40-day fast in the desert by himself, Jesus faced intensive temptations by Satan. Throughout his life on earth Jesus faced a variety of tests over and over again, culminating in the final decision to willingly be executed as a sin-substitute.

We are just like the Israelites in the desert. We deserve the judgment that came upon them.

But rather than suffering judgement for our own sins, Jesus suffered it for us on a tree, which we know as the cross. This is the gospel we are called to believe.

Being spiritually disconnected from God is the result of my failure to believe this gospel. If that is the case, then being reconnected is about re-believing the gospel—re-believing that I am connected because Jesus was disconnected in my place.

As far as God is concerned, he will never drop the call.

As Hebrews 4:14-16 says,

14   Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [Hold firmly to our connection to the Father through Jesus15   For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16   Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [In our time of temptation

If now is your time of need, then go now, in prayer to that throne of grace, believing that, because of the shed blood of Jesus, his mercy and his grace awaits.

[1] To be baptized into Moses was to be identified with Moses and included in the rescued community.

[2] Eventually, they would rebel against Moses, demanding to go back to Egypt, because there they could have Danishes for breakfast and Pizza for dinner.

[3] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 163. “Five times in four verses (10:1–4) he mentioned that “all” of the Israelites shared these common experiences. All the Israelites were joined together in their experiences of God’s grace, just as all the Corinthians were joined together in their experiences of Christian baptism and the Lord’s supper.”

[4] Gen 32:22

[5] Dave Goetz, ChurchLeadersOnline.com

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