I would argue that the Bible has a myriad of seemingly contradictions rather than contradictions themselves. These “seeming contradictions” are what we called Paradoxes. Contradiction means two statements that have opposing views but a Paradox is two truths that can co-exist but not be opposite of each other. For example, a contradiction is when trust God but want to do everything in our way and in our time; in other words a self sufficient person is a contradiction on trusting in God. On the other hand a Paradox is a Loving God AND a Just God. If God is all loving, even if we do something bad, how can He be just? Doesn’t this contradict God’s nature? The answer is a resounding No! God is not only 100 percent Loving, He is also 100 percent Just. Sometimes what we need to do is define what “Just” means in God’s definition not ours.
Case in point…King David. God love King David so much that He called him a man after my own heart. But after David actions of knowingly and intentionally putting Uriah into the front lines to get killed and counted a census, God did not let David not build a temple for Him. See God LOVED David in that he didn’t have him killed immediately AND was equally JUST because He could not allow David to build a sacred temple with such a tainted history. God could be both, without compromising either one of his natures. Much like our parents are to us. Our parents immensely love us and has to discipline us so that we do not become “bad” children. To us, if we focus on the discipline at the time, we think it is unjust but if we think about it from the perspective of the parent and reflect about the discipline and their actions, then we would realize it is equally LOVING and equally JUST. We just need a shift in our thinking a bit.
What’s interesting about Paradox is in a western, scientific, enlightened word, we forgot to include Paradoxes in our spiritual conversations but instead try to rationalize all truths to just contradictions or truths, when in fact life is much more complex than we know it. Hopefully, Paradoxes can be included in our own language as we engage more of the spiritual world and in our own life’s answers.
We all know the story about the Prodigal Son. For those who don’t, let me summarize it for you. It is a story about a wealthy family who had two sons, the oldest who wanted to explore life and the youngest who wanted to stay home. The story goes something like this.
The oldest was bored with living the “rich” live and wanted more excitement and adventure. To obtaining this, he asks his father for his portion of the inheritance so he could “explore” life. He then takes his portion of his inheritance and “explores” and enjoys life so much that he is left dirt poor. One day, eating what is left for pigs to eat, he realizes he should go back and live with his father, who had more than enough money that their slaves eat better than the pigs. Upon realizing this, he goes back home, in shame and embarrassment back to his father’s house. When his father sees that he has returned home, he runs over to him and places his robe on him, gives him his ring and rejoices that he has come back home. All my life I realized that the story of the Prodigal Son was a story about redemption and a story about going after the “one lost sheep”, but the older I remain a Christian, I realize our reaction doesn’t resemble the oldest son, but more so the youngest, who says to his father, “what about me?”. No longer is the story about returning to the father, but how come I have not receive that blessing when someone else has gotten it. That change of perspective we go through is what people call a “Paradigm Shift”.
A Paradigm is a set or system of beliefs that you makes us live our lives the way we believe is correct. Sometime we get stuck in it. Actually, if we are honest, most of us is stuck in different unhealthy paradigms about our viewpoints on God, relationship with friends or family, self-image, etc…. Regardless, as a Christian I believe our job isn’t to sulk in this understanding but to move from an unhealthy paradigm to one that is healthy and God-Centered. What paradigms do you need shifting?
In high school I remember taking biology and being fascinated with learning about DNA. I remember the 23 chromosomes and how that influences everything from eye color, intelligence, height, diseases, etc…which will in turn shape who we become. I realized years ago that the same sort of understanding of spiritual DNA will greatly influence us in who we become and ultimately determine if we can fulfill the promises of God in our lifetime.
For clarification, I am not saying if you don’t know your spiritual DNA that you can’t fulfill God’s plan in your life, but rather it will definitely hinder your ability to have widespread influence; and if your desire is to reach a generation, like mine is – then yes!
When I speak of spiritual DNA I’m not talking about what spirituality we are born into, but more so what spiritual components make us who we are. For example, I grew up Presbyterian so that shaped my worldview on how to see God, the Holy King, evidence of sin, importance of church, need for fellowship, etc… Now that I am more charismatic my world view changed about God the Father, powerful God, kingdoms of light and darkness, demons, Holy Spirit, etc… And both those views shape me today. I am both charismatic and conservative because both offers really different world views. And more important a complete understanding of God. Do you know your spiritual DNA?
For so long I thought that as long as I read the Bible, pray, have fellowship with friends and go to church that I was okay. I also thought that because I understood how to do quiet time, bible reading and bible study that i was in the upper echelon of Evangelical Christians. Then, just as I thought “I made it” as a great man of God, I realize I was so mistaken. All these I’ve mentioned have to do with “things” do you in the faith. They are not about who we are – we are people. In fact, someone once said that we are spiritual beings trapped inside a physical body sojourning on this earth. I love that imagery.
But more important that doing things for God, I realize that having personal, experiential and memorable experiences are just as important as doing all the church things. Don’t get me wrong! I love reading the word, praying, doing QT, fellowshipping, going to church or doing things in church, but more importantly, I realized that having a personal relationship with Him is the first and most important thing.
Secondly, after having that relationship with Him, I realize how crucial it is to develop moments with our Father where we share a moment together. I’m not saying something it has to be something so life changing that it completely sweeps you off your feet – though I hope and pray you have those moments. But rather, moments when you go through great, growing, tough, challenging or questioning time with Him. All those moments build not only character, but our personal history with God. And if we don’t have personal history with God, how do we expect to walk on this earth without letting the world trample on us? Let’s look at David as one example.
David was the youngest of 7, and yet, he killed a massive giant in Goliath because of his prior experiences with God. When someone read those passages in scripture they’ll said, “it was because God was with him” or because “God anointed him to be king; therefore he had the power to do that”, but remember, just because your anointed King, doesn’t give you instant power – just look at Saul. Nonetheless, the bible gives us a clue as to how David was able to accomplish this feat. It was because he killed Lions and Bears when he was tending the sheep; therefore he had ample training in learning to ward off or kill animals who endangered the flock. I would argue that it was tens if not, hundreds or thousands of moments when he killed all sorts of animals big and small (cubs, wolves, lions, tigers, bears or any other animals) that he found victory in small moments that led him to be confident of his ability to stand up to Goliath. And, because of his history with God, it allowed him to always be rooted in God and become someone who God said is “a man after my own heart.” How important is spiritual history? I would say it’s as important as how much we want to make an impact for the Lord – a whole lot!
I’ve been pondering much about the christian life, and how that should permeate our lives. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it doesn’t. I’m not sure about other cultures, but in the Korean-American Culture, there is a lot teaching and practice in church, but yet so many failures in the “real world.” That led me to think about why those things happen. As I pondered more about this idea, I realize that it is because we focus so much on liturgy, more than the value of our faith. I’ll go on to explain this more later, but this made me think about 12 things in the christian life that churches don’t teach about, or don’t teach enough of. With that, I wanted to start writing about 11 principles that can change entire church life experience, and that will lead us to be better christian in the world.
I called this section the manual for chrisitian living because I hope this truly becomes a manual one day to inspire millions to live their lives to the fullest in God.
In no particular order.
1. Spiritual History
2. Spiritual DNA
3. Paradigm Shift
4. Life of Paradox
5. Beauty of Community
6. Need for Discipleship/Mentorship
7. Need for the Supernatural
8. Journey of Faith
9. Vison, Dreams & Markers
10 Evangelism is the overflow
11. Value System
12. Naturally Supernatural
Look at this to see where you fall in the Openness to the Spirit meter?
Cessationists Open But Cautious Third Wave Charismatic Pentecostal
I’ll go into another time describing the differences of each another time but know that there is a diverse understanding of the Openness to the Spirit that everyone has to comes to terms with. Where do you stand?
A friend and I were talking about church recently, and have been asking the question, what’s the best way to develop a strong, healthy church? We’ve then went on to talk about programs, power ministry, small groups and discipleship as viable options. At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that no one style of ministry can alone be the only way help fully develop; instead we need a combination of them all.
With that said, we didn’t address the question of which of these methods we would want to start with. We came to the conclusion that discipleship is where both of us will start. So you ask what is discipleship? Is there different types of discipleship? Should all believer be committed to being disciplers? What about having disciples, and being discipled, should all believers do these things as well?
Let’s start off with what is discipleship? Discipleship, the term was first coined from the early church. They were initially called the people of the Way. And if you were part of the group called the Way, that means that you were labeling yourself a person who’s so serious about Christianity that you didn’t mind martyrdom. So the call to discipleship was a serious and life-altering thing.
As time passed discipleship became more the study (suffix “ship) of how to become a disciple. In the traditional sense, discipleship became learning how to study the word of God, and how to pray; mostly its been more educational than imitation. Then as I went to college, I went to a group that really focus on discipleship that built strong christian foundations, ministry mindset and personal life development, all through this concept of imitation. And I realized how important discipleship was.
Now looking back at my years in discipleship (close to 10 years) I’ve come up with some personal thoughts about discipleship.
1. Discipleship helps a person recognize and develop their short comings.
2. Discipleship helps develops humility, trust and respect for their leaders.
3. Discipleship helps a person to learn about any subject in a truncated amount of time. Another words, if it takes a discipler 10 years to learn an important truth, a disciplee can learn that same truth in a year.
4. Discipleship is most ideal when it happens within a group.
5. Discipleship is the effective when a person submits themselves under one leader, at a time, and then goes through several leader in the process.
6. Discipleship helps people develop more depth than breathe about a subject.
7. Discipleship can not be just about teaching, it has to be about equipping.
8. Discipleship yields the best, well rounded, and most develop leaders in church.
9. Discipleship is important for every church regardless of their theology or denomination.
10. Discipleship should teach value rather than imitation.
So this brings me to the question about the different types of discipleship. In my viewpoint, I believe there is a clear definition between discipleship and mentorship. Mentorship is the study from a specific person for a specific topic or theme. Discipleship is the process of submitting oneself to another leader, to allow them to help guide, govern, correct and challenge a person’s life, whether upbringing, perspective or wrongly formed values and traditions.
As for discipleship, I believe Life-on-Life is the best form of discipleship. I coined this term to say that in discipleship, we should aim to tackle every facet of life, not just the subjects of building strong christian disciplines (e.g. studying the bible, prayer, etc..).
And about the process, discipleship is ideal when it is within a group of other people who share the same value of learning from a leader. Also this is taken place, a disciplee should also be under submission under a leader, and also be leading a group of his own disciples.
To back to my original question, i would say discipleship has to be the foundation for a healthy and strong church but that alone is not enough. We need other layers on top it. What do you ask? Well, that’s for another blog entry.