The Bible — God’s Word

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Gideon Bibles Have This Statement on the Cover Page
The Word is part of discipleship

Many people in all countries around the world believe the Bible is a special book. The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book (more than 3000 languages). In addition, more copies of the Bible exist than any other book.

Why? Christians believe the Bible is God’s truth and contains God’s plan for the salvation of every person on earth. God is the source of the Bible, that is, the Bible is divinely inspired. The Bible also provides the information needed to become a Christian, to grow and mature as a Christian, and to live the Christian life according to God’s standards. The Bible says this in II Timothy 3: 16-17, which says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Divine Inspiration of the Bible

What does the Bible mean by “breathed out” or “inspiration?” The Greek word for “breathed out by God” (that is, inspiration) is “theopneustos” (θεόπνευστος). This word is used only one time in the entire New Testament. Some scholars believe the apostle Paul invented this word. Many translations render that word as “inspired by God.” In other words, God wrote the Bible. And because these words come from God, they have divine authority over our lives.

In addition, verse 17 states the purpose of Scripture. Scripture (the Bible) provides everything we need to make a Christian complete and equipped for the Christian life.

The Battle for the Bible

But many people choose not to believe that the Bible exists as God’s uniquely inspired Word. These people often rebel against the teachings of the Bible. They do not like the Bible. They feel the Bible intrudes on their free will. Therefore, they oppose the Bible. Their opposition includes inventing arguments designed to destroy the credibility of the Bible.

Is the Bible the word of God? Of course, we answer this question only by faith. We can neither prove nor disprove that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. However, we can provide evidence to support our claim that the Bible is of divine origin.

What sorts of evidence can we provide? The answer to that question fills dozens of books on Christian apologetics. But for this blog we will briefly examine evidence in three areas.

  • Authority — What gives the Bible authority? If the Bible contained examples of events in history and these events were verified again and again by the latest archeological evidence, would truth like this provide the Bible with some authority? And if the Bible contained prophecies that came true centuries after the prophecy was made, would true prophecies demonstrate biblical authority?
  • Transmission — Can we trust the words of today’s Bibles? How can we know the text of the Bible matches the text of the original manuscripts? Skeptics claim the original texts were changed by scribes either by accident or on purpose. Is this true? In addition, how do we know if the words and deeds of Jesus really took place. Let’s look at some of the evidence.
  • Power — If the Bible really exists as God’s special book, should it not have some kind of special effect over the people who read it? But the Bible, in fact, does change people who read it and believe its teachings. The Bible also has a positive effect on societies that follow it.

Evidence and Faith

As I wrote earlier in this blog, no one can prove or disprove whether the Bible is the Word of God. Evidence can silence the critics and give people reason to believe. But the final step for believing in the Bible remains the step of faith.

Prayer Is Talking with God

How difficult it is to write about prayer. Why? Because there is so much to say. For example, American author E. M. Bounds wrote more than six hundred pages on the subject of prayer. So, of course, this post only can touch on a few areas regarding prayer.

First of all, prayer is talking with God. Do not forget this. Prayer is not about me. It is not about you. Prayer is all about God. But God is holy and almighty and so far beyond our ability to comprehend. We are insignificant as we stand before Him.

How Can We Approach God?

So how can we approach such a holy and powerful God? We approach Him with awe, and reverence, and confidence.

Awe — Moses said in Exodus 15: 11, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” The presence of God should fill us with awe and wonder.

Reverence — Isaiah 6: 3 says, And one [seraphim] called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” When this happened, the temple was filled with the glory of God. Strange creatures (seraphim) flew around the room. Isaiah fell to his knees in reverence. Reverence means “deep respect” or “veneration.”

Confidence — Did you expect to see this attitude? How can we draw near to God with confidence? This is contrary to reverence and awe, isn’t it? Well, God wants our respect and worship but He does not want us filled with fear and panic when we come before Him. The Bible says in Hebrews 4: 16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ESV)

Why confidence? Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. It is having firm trust in this Someone. How can we know we can trust God? Because God is our loving Father. He sent Jesus to die for you and for me. By this we are assured that God loves us.

The apostle Paul spoke of this assurance in Romans 8: 31-32, which says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (ESV) To Paul, this logic confirmed God’s care for us. If God did not spare His own Son but sent Him to die for our sins, it makes sense that God will freely give us all good things.

Tips for a Consistent Prayer Life

OK, God wants to hear from us. We know this. How can we come to Him regularly and consistently? Here are a few practical suggestions:

Have a set place and time — Setting aside a specific prayer time can help to create a regular and consistent prayer life. King David prayed in the morning. In Psalm 5: 3 David wrote, “O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (ESV)

Also have a designated place for prayer. Your prayer space should be quiet and secluded. It should be a place when you will not be interrupted. Jesus selected a quiet, secluded place to pray on the night before He chose the twelve disciples. The Bible says in Luke 6: 12, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (ESV) The Bible also tells us that Moses (Exodus 24: 18), Elijah (I Kings 19: 8-9), and Peter (Acts 10: 9) met with God in secluded places.

Designate a space that will become your special meeting place with God. And get in the habit of praying at the same time every day. The power of a habit helps to reminds you to come to God in prayer.

Use a prayer list or organizer — For a long time I resisted using prayer lists. But I have found no better way to remember my responsibility to others when I pray. Prayer lists also help you get organized. However, you must resist the tendency we have to turn the prayer list into a mere list of names. As you pray for each person or item on your list, think of that person or item and of their prayer need. Remember, you are presenting that person by name to the holy God of heaven and earth.

The apostle Paul kept long lists of the people for whom he prayed (see Romans 16: 3-16). He asks the churches to pray for their fellow Christians. Ephesians 6: 18 says, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” (ESV) Supplication means asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel also took prayer very seriously. He said to the people of Israel in I Samuel 12: 23, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (ESV)

Listen for God’s voice — Listening earns the reputation of being the most important and least remembered part of prayer. After presenting your requests to God, continue quietly in a prayerful mood for a few minutes. Remember, God often speaks in the quiet voice of peaceful stillness. Quietly and reverently wait upon God.

Much more will be said about listening for God’s voice in future blogs. But remember, prayer is talking with God. It is a conversation with the Lord God Almighty. However, a place before His throne is reserved for us by Jesus Christ. Approach God with reverence but also with confidence. The Lord God Almighty exists also as your Father who loves you.

Basics of Prayer

Prayer is important. Every Christian knows that. But how should we pray? Prayer is our opportunity to talk with God. Our relationship with God grows as our prayer life improves. And although God can answer any prayer, a regular prayer format serves as, perhaps, the best way to pray on a daily basis.

Many discipleship programs suggest the following framework for prayer. This framework for regular prayer format consists of six basic parts or principles. Christian disciple makers also developed an illustration to help us remember these six basic parts of prayer. This illustration is known as “The Hand Illustration.”

The six basic principles of prayer are praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition, and listening.

  • Praise — Words of praise fill the Bible. Revelation 4: 8 says, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (ESV) Another example follows in Revelation 4: 11, which says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (ESV)

So, what is praise? Praise declares to God the truth about His mighty actions and attributes. Praise is focused totally on God. Why do we praise God? Not because God needs to hear it. Rather, we need to acknowledge and verbalize our belief that God is mighty and great and good.

The Hand Illustration
  • Thanksgiving — The Bible tells us again and again to be thankful to God. Why? According to Psalm 100: 5 “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (ESV)

Thanksgiving celebrates God’s goodness to us. We have so many reasons to give thanks to God. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel thanked God for His steadfast love and faithfulness. The authors of the New Testament give thanks to God for sending Jesus to die for our sins. I Thessalonians 5: 18 expands our basis for thanksgiving, saying, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) Giving thanks is God’s will for us.

  • Confession — Confession of sins endures as a Christian concept. And what is sin? Sin is lawlessness — rebellion against God. I John 3: 4 tells us, “Everyone who make a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (ESV) But what actions are considered sinful? You can discover some examples of sin by reading the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.

Why do we need to confess our sins to God? Because sin hampers our ability to draw close to God. According to Isaiah 59: 2, “your iniquities [AKA sins] have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (ESV)

Does everyone sin? Yes. Every person who ever lived has committed sins. Romans 3: 10-12, 23 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (ESV) Everyone has sinned — except Jesus. Jesus is without sin (see Hebrews 4: 15). Jesus never rebelled against God.

We cannot draw close to God if we are beset by sin. We cannot stay close to God until our sins are forgiven. The Bible promises in I John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV)

  • Intercession — Intercession is praying for others. The Bible teaches that intercession has great power. According to James 5: 16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV)

The apostle Paul believed in the power of intercessory prayers over events in our lives. For example, in I Timothy 2: 1-2, Paul reports the impact of our prayers for “kings and all who are in high positions.” “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (ESV) 

The prophet Samuel from the Old Testament reveals the importance of intercessory prayer. Failure to pray for others can even be considered a sin against God. Samuel says in I Samuel 12: 23, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (ESV) Intercession is far more important than we can imagine.

“Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is a most initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God.” — Oswald Chambers

  • Petition — Look at that quote from Oswald Chambers. What does it mean? To me it identifies the initial form of prayer for most of us. When a person says his first prayers, he usually is asking God for something. Many first prayers consist of pleadings to God for help. For example, notice Psalm 28: 1-2, 6: “To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, . . . Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. . . . Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” (ESV)

Petition differs from intercession. Intercession makes prayer requests for others. Petition shifts the focus of the prayers to the person making the prayer.

  • Listening — The goal of listening is to gain communion with God. Google’s online dictionary defines communion as “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings.” Sharing involves both persons. In prayer we usually focus on talking to God. We must spend time learning to listen to God.

How do we listen intimately? Keep your focus squarely on God. Stop your mind from wandering. Don’t daydream. Stay awake! At first this may be difficult, especially early in the morning. Listening to God requires discipline.

Why is listening important? It gives the Holy Spirit time to “teach you all things.” As Jesus said in John 14: 26, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (ESV)

Listening also puts you in a quiet situation. God speaks with a still, small voice. Quiet is an important part of listening.

Does God speak to us? That possibility is too complex to discuss here. However, Jesus said in John 10: 27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (ESV)

These are the six basic parts of prayer.

Prayer should help us grow and mature as Christians. Eventually, we come to understand that prayer should not focus on me or on the other person. The best, most mature prayers focus on God. The heart of prayer is communication and communion with God.

Abiding in Christ

Let’s start at the very beginning. First, you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You cannot be a Christian disciple unless you, first, are a Christian. And you cannot follow Jesus as a disciple unless you have a personal relationship with Him.

Next, in order to become a disciple, you must learn to abide in Christ. When I was a new Christian, I had problems understanding the meaning of “abiding in Christ.” Jesus did not abide in me before I accepted Him as Savior. The Greek word μένω simply means “abide, remain, stay” so that was not much help. How can I stay close to Jesus?

[Jesus said] “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. . . . If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15: 4-5, 10 (ESV)

What does it mean to abide in Christ? Does it mean to stay close to Jesus every moment of your life? OK. But how do I do that? By keeping your mind set on spiritual thoughts and by filling your life with wholesome friends and spiritual activities. How can you do that? Here are a few suggestions.

Keep Your Mind Set on Christ

In the early years of computers, programmers referred to the acronym GIGO when discussing some of their computer problems. GIGO means “garbage in, garbage out.” In other words, if you put bad data into a computer, you will get bad data back from the computer. This concept also applies to our minds. If I fill my mind with bad or negative thoughts, my mind will not produce good thoughts.

But what happens when a Christian fills their mind with thoughts of Jesus Christ? According to Romans 12: 2, filling our minds with Jesus results in mental and spiritual transformation. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

How can you keep your mind set on Jesus? First, lay aside all crude or nasty books, immoral or unhealthy websites, porn, negative social media sites, questionable television shows and movies, and anything that can turn your mind away from Christ.

Then, second, fill your mind with thoughts of Christ. The Bible is a good place to start. Also check out Christian books and movies. Listen to Bible studies, both recorded and in person. As you fill your mind with good things, then, over a period of time, you will become transformed. But what about choosing your friends?

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Who are your friends? With whom do you hang out? What do you do when you spend time with others? Where do you go?

Abiding in Christ may result in some old friendships fading away. The Bible says having good friends does matter. I Corinthians 15: 33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” (ESV) Proverbs 13: 20 agrees, saying, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (ESV) So choose your new friends wisely.

After you become a Christian, some of your old friends may abandon you. Why? Because if they do not know Jesus, you will hold fewer things in common. Your paths may slowly drift apart. But this is normal. You should be drawn to participate in new activities with new friends who share your new life in Christ.

Participate in Wholesome Activities

As a Christian you may discover that you no longer enjoy some of the activities in which you took part before accepting Jesus. When you learn about being a Christian, you will set new standards of behavior. This will cause you to abandon some of your old activities. The Bible says in Ephesians 5: 11-12, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” (ESV) Some of your old activities were “unfruitful works of darkness.”

In addition, some of your former activities may disgust or offend you. Why? Your life is becoming reoriented. You are turning away from darkness. Jesus Christ is filling your life with light. According to Ephesians 5: 8, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (ESV)

Abiding Is Staying Close

What is abiding? How would you abide with a physical friend? You would stay close to that person. When you are in their presence, you are abiding with them.

Abiding with Christ closely resembles abiding with a physical friend. There is one major difference. Jesus is spirit. How can you abide in Christ’s spiritual presence? By filling your minds with thoughts of Jesus and by spending time in activities that are centered on Jesus.

The Bible conveys this idea well in Colossians 3: 16, which says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (ESV)

This is abiding in Christ. And abiding in Christ is the most important first step in Christian discipleship.

The Basics of Discipleship

What are the basics of Christian discipleship? Well, let’s start at the very beginning. First, you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You cannot be a Christian disciple unless, first, you are a Christian. You cannot follow Jesus as His disciple unless you have a personal relationship with Him.

How can you begin to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You must accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior.

If you never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then pay attention to the outline in the column on the right.

  • Admit to God that you are a sinner.
  • Believe in Lord Jesus Christ
  • Confess the Lord Jesus

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have taken the first step toward Christian discipleship.

The Basics of Discipleship

What’s next? Well, the Bible gives us five basic disciplines that help us form a strong foundation for discipleship. They are abiding in Christ, prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and witnessing. Let’s learn a bit more about each of these disciplines.

  • Abiding in Christ — you cannot have a living, personal relationship with Jesus unless you abide in Him. “Abiding” means staying close to Jesus at all times. Jesus uses the example of a grape vine and its branches to describe the importance of abiding. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. . . . My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15: 4-5, 8 ESV)
  • Prayer — prayer is having a conversation with God. You cannot be a Christian disciple apart from prayer. Jesus knew the importance of prayer. He taught His disciples how to pray (see Matthew 6: 9-13 and Luke 11: 1-4). The apostle Paul also knew the importance of prayer. He wrote the following exhortation to the Ephesians, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me.” Ephesians 6: 18-19 (ESV)
  • Bible Study — the Bible is the foundation and the authority for Christian discipleship. Yes, the Holy Spirit and prayer provide the power for Christian living but the Bible tells us where to find that power and how to become powerful ourselves through Jesus Christ. The Bible says this in II Timothy 3: 16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)
  • Witnessing — witnessing (sharing the gospel with the lost) is essential for the growth of the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught His disciples how to witness. Witnessing is that important. In addition, Jesus’ final words on earth commanded His followers to make disciples. According to Matthew 28: 18-20, “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (ESV)
  • Fellowship — What is fellowship? Is it just parties or coffee between church services or potluck dinners? No, Christian fellowship consists of much more than that. Christians are required to care for each other. Galatians 6: 2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (ESV) God intended the church to be a body of believers that is defined by love and caring for each other.

And there you have it. But before we move on, let’s examine the most important strength and weakness of these basics of discipleship.

Strength and Weakness

I started discipleship using a program that centered on these five basic areas of discipleship. The program implied that these five areas were the beginning, the middle, and the end of Christian discipleship. What’s wrong with that approach to discipleship? Well, I think I can answer that question by naming the strength and weakness of these five basics of discipleship.

Strength — These five basic areas of discipleship provide an excellent program for the person who is beginning to walk as a disciple. They are concise and concrete. These five areas are easy to explain and follow. So, they serve as a good place to start a life of discipleship. By maintaining discipline in these five areas a novice disciple remains in an excellent position to establish a relationship with God, learn more about Jesus, and become established in a local church. Using these basic disciplines will provide the disciple with a solid foundation for Christian growth.

Weakness — But there is a huge problem when a person considers these basics as the totality of discipleship. Although these five disciplines are important — even essential — for Christian growth, they are not even the center, that is, the most important part of discipleship. When Jesus called the first disciples in Matthew 4: 19 and Mark 1: 17, He did not say “read the Bible.” Jesus said, “Follow Me.” The center of discipleship is Jesus Christ. And to be a Christian disciple we must follow Him.

Jesus explained this further in Luke 9: 23-24. And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (ESV) Following Jesus requires self-denial and giving control of your life to Jesus.

Being a disciple of Jesus requires you to place Jesus ahead of all other relationships — including self. Jesus said in Luke 14: 26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (ESV)

[Jesus said,] “If a man come to me and hate not . . . he cannot be my disciple,” not, he cannot be good and upright, but, he cannot be one over whom Jesus writes the word “Mine.”

Oswald Chambers

After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, the first disciples began to understand that the command “follow Me” included following Jesus unto death. The apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 2: 21, For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (ESV)

The apostle Paul summed this up in Galatians 2: 20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (ESV)

And to Summarize

The basics of discipleship are essential tools for building your relationship with God. Prayer and abiding in Christ are central to building a relationship with God. The Bible teaches you about God and Jesus Christ and Christian living. Fellowship and evangelism demonstrate the interaction between the disciple, the church, and the world.

All About Me

All About me

All about me? That sounds sort of self-centered, doesn’t it? Why would you want to know anything about me? Well, in a word, “credibility.” You want to know whether I am credible, that is, do I have the background, experience, and sufficient knowledge to produce a worthwhile, legitimate website on Christian discipleship.

Credibility is a very important factor for a website. Why? Because the internet today contains a seemingly endless amount of information. You can find websites for almost any topic you can imagine on the internet today.

Hey! This post is all about me!

But does the website offer reliable information? How can you know? This is where credibility is important. One way you can judge the quality of the information on a website is to know more about the source of the information. Is the source credible? In the case of this website, the primary source for credibility on this website is me.

So before you go further into this website, you should find out more about me. What is my background? Am I qualified to write a website on discipleship? Please let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I have been a Christian for more than fifty years. When I was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Max Barnett, the director of the Baptist Student Center at OU led me to the Lord.

Starting on the Road to Discipleship

Max is a strong believer in Christian discipleship. He immediately started me on the road to discipleship. Max used many of the materials developed by the Navigators, an organization that promotes Christian discipleship with headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Navigators use a picture called “The Wheel Illustration” to demonstrate the five major areas for Christian discipleship. Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, created “The Wheel Illustration” during the 1930s. The Navigators have used it ever since.

The Wheel Illustration

The word “Christ” occupies the center of the wheel. This indicates that Jesus Christ must reside at the center of the life of a Christian disciple. John 15: 5 provides a biblical mandate to support this. According to John 15: 5, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

The four spokes of the wheel represent the four areas of concentration in the life of a Christian disciple.

  • Prayer develops and deepens the disciple’s personal relationship with God.
  • The Word, that is, the Bible, provides instruction for the disciple.
  • Witnessing is performed by the Christian disciple in obedience to Christ’s command to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 18-20)
  • Fellowship indicates the importance of the disciple’s involvement in a local Christian community, that is, a church.

Avery Willis developed a similar illustration called “The Disciples Cross.” The Disciples Cross is featured in the MasterLife Course published by Lifeway Christian Resources.

Scripture memory serves as a crucial part of Christian discipleship. Of course, Christian discipleship does not require scripture memory but most disciples who memorize scripture understand its importance. Max Barnett stressed the importance of memorization. So, I started memorizing scripture. Now, I cannot think of a better way to get a firm grasp of the Bible.

Hear God’s Voice, Obey, and Follow

These are the basic disciplines of Christian discipleship. But when Jesus called His disciples, He did not say, “Pray and read your Bible.” Prayer and Bible study are important for every Christian but the call of Jesus to His disciples was, (and is) “Follow Me.”

Where does “follow Me” start? Luke 9: 23 records the following statement of Jesus: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (ESV)  How do I deny myself? By placing Jesus as first in my life. As Jesus said in Matthew 10: 37-38, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (ESV)

Thus, denying self is part of the process of following Jesus. But how can we follow Jesus?

While Jesus was on earth, the original twelve disciples had no problem hearing His guidance. Jesus spoke to them as people normally talk to each other. But how does Jesus “talk” to us today? He speaks through the Holy Spirit. In John 16: 13, Jesus explained this to His disciples, saying, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (ESV)

Jesus also told His disciples that hearing His voice is part of the normal spiritual life of a Christian. He said in John 10: 27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (ESV)

How did I learn to hear God’s voice?

Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God provides an excellent description of how God speaks to us. According to Blackaby, “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” And when a Christian disciple hears God’s voice what else can he do but obey and follow.

Of course, learning to hear God’s voice, to obey, and to follow does not happen overnight. Several years passed as I learned to hear and obey God’s guidance. This is the path of Christian discipleship: to deny self and to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. With God’s help and my submission, this is my life.

A Bit More About Me

During my fifty-plus years as a Christian, God brought additional treasurers into my life. The most notable gift is my lovely wife Cheri. Since our wedding in 1973, she has been the perfect life partner. We now have two grown children and three wonderful grandchildren. God is good.

The Lord called us to go to seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. With God’s help and leadership, I earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy in the Philosophy of Religion. Earning the doctorate was God’s idea but that’s another story. God also led my wife to become a registered nurse. God is faithful.

God also allowed me to serve Him as a pastor for fifteen years. Before that I was a soldier in the United States Army and Army Reserve for twenty-four years. During this time my wife and I continued to seek God.

Through all of this hard work with its celebrations and disappointments, I learned to trust God. Following Him has never been a mistake. Yes, God is good.