What is a disciple and why are churches talking about them today? (part 1)

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Jesus called people to become his “disciples” at the beginning of His ministry and told those disciples to go and make more disciples at the end of His ministry three years later. What exactly is a disciple though.

The short answer:

A disciple is a student or apprentice who follows, learns from, and imitates a master or teacher.

The more in-depth answer:

Some of you are probably happy with the short answer… why go further? Because there are two parts to any kind of work: the Philosophy and the Praxis.

The Philosophy of your work answers what you do and why you do it. Your philosophy includes your purpose, your mission, and your vision. Doing things for the right reason is as important as doing them in the right way. Jesus taught that not everyone who claimed to be His disciple or did miraculous things were truly His own.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

So then, what is the purpose of being a disciple of Jesus? Many teachers point to scriptures that succinctly point out that it is to be like Jesus. I for one, am not satisfied with that answer and some of the circular logic behind it. That’s like saying an Elvis impersonator has the purpose of being like Elvis – which is inherently true, but does not give a person any motivation to become an Elvis imprersonator, or a disciple of Jesus. King Louis may have wanted to be like Mogli when he first met the boy in the Jungle Book, but that does not mean that Peter, Andrew, James, and John sang that song from the fishing boat when Jesus walked by that fateful day.

Jesus, somewhat poetically spelled out His philosophy – His purpose, mission, and vision at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount:

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew‬ ‭5:3-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

‭‭The motivation… the reason Peter and his fellow fishermen followed Jesus, was to be a part of the Kingdom of God, to be comforted, to receive righteousness, to be shown mercy, to see God, and to become children of God. They followed and imitated Jesus to receive all of that themselves and so that God, their heavenly Father, would receive glory.

  • Are you a disciple of Jesus?
  • Why do you follow and imitate Him?

An Acrostic on Wallace Stevens’ “One” Aphorism

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One needs everything

dealt out evenly, sincerely

not only true

words read in terrible epiphanies

form our railings

and nearly yield

raiment eaten away, deploring each rude

etched xenolith caught entering public tribute

one never escapes.


 

Golden

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Golden,

across the heavens,

a path of light reaches

down

and lays out

a life

unspoken

and awaiting

the final booming

call

to return

to the sky

again.

 

 

Some say life is a circle

“What comes around goes around”

Or something to that effect

Maybe it’s a square

And we go around over and over again

That’s why we turn so many corners

But always end up back where we started

God help me

Let life at least be a spiral

Drawing me closer and closer to Something

to You

 

Beauty (from Blackbirds)

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9/18/05 and 05/30/07

How terrible to behold true Beauty, whose undaunted presence stirs such passion and life from deep inside the very being while all else and everything fade away into a despairing void that must have… it never remains satisfied with a mere glance or word …or touch, rather within each moment of its presence the hunger intensifies until all the world is sold in one last and foolish attempt to take that which, like the wind itself, cannot be held… cannot be caught – for no sooner has it been grasped, but then it is gone, never again to return. This is the curse of man: that he might tame the land, tame the beasts, stand against nature and tame the immortal gods… and even, at last, tame himself; but even as he sells all he might ever possess – he will never tame Beauty.

(posted in response to a comment made by Marc and some recent discussions on who got it worse Adam or Eve)

Why Time Matters. Part 4

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So it is that regardless of whether we look to the past, present, or future, there is no absolute certainty regarding what is to come. All of it requires some leap of faith over gaps in the information. How then, do we plan for the future? Is it even realistically possible or are we simply deluding ourselves?

Giving up is a legitimate response. We can crawl into a survival mode, preparing at once for everything and nothing. There may be very real reason for the despair, depression, and anxiety that plague many people who cannot see hope in their future. I’ve heard it said before that pessimists are slightly more in touch with reality that optimists are, and if there is no real way of knowing what tomorrow may bring, there may be some truth to that. Even if that saying is wrong, it would be the pessimists in for a pleasant surprise rather than the optimists caught off-guard by a curveball. Some of us may laugh at the idea of those who make bomb shelters in their basements, preparing for the end of the world – but there may be a semblance of real preparation and security in that kind of attitude. If they are delusional, it is more likely along the lines of their belief that they can do anything to change the inevitable. The bomb shelter mockers might instead choose to live in carpe diem terms, not in that they are somehow optimistic about the future, but believing they lack the power or the motivation to change what might be considered an inevitable outcome.

These options come into play on a daily basis as people receive medical “death sentences”. You have six months to live. Some immediately change their diet and exercise, trying everything to tack on a few more weeks, months, even years – even though the outcome is indeed inescapable. Sometimes they put themselves through a great deal of suffering and indignation in exchange for the possibility of an extension. Others resign themselves to the inevitable and try to maximize the little time they have left, often shortening that time considerably because of the choices they make. Some, choosing to take control of the situation themselves, end their lives intentionally. The thing is though, no one, not even the best of the medical profession, can be entirely sure when death will come knocking and under which pretense. We’re still simply reacting to shots in the dark, not knowing from which way they are fired.

We are not in control of our lives, any more than we are in control of the world around us. That is a fact. So what hope do we have? Our only hope is that there is something in control and that it has vested interest in each of us. Religions that fail to juxtapose power and compassion, justice and mercy, will always ultimately fall short of the hope that they promise. Our reason and technology, devoid of the divine, can promise no more than the power of our own hands, the sharpness of our own minds, or the compassion of our own hearts – in a ironic way, the option of independence, should we choose to live life on our own. Unfortunately, those of us who choose to cast our own lots must bear our own burdens, and extensionally, the burdens of anything else we deem under our own control.

So it comes down to this: if there is any certainty in life, it must come from something outside of us. If there is any security in life, it has to come from some kind of benevolent caretaker overlooking the world. I’m not making a proof for the existence of any particular god(s) here, I’m just putting the cards on the table and letting you compare them to the hand you have been dealt.