Quitting.

Gaming has controlled my life for many years. So on 14/9/14, I removed every single game on my computer.

This diagram summarises most of what gaming has caused for me.

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jam-it:

(: not bad.

it’s alright :P

jam-it:

(: not bad.

it’s alright :P

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EC Camp 2013 Talk: The How of Discipling

Intro – James Ruse and Agriculture

As you know, once upon a time I used to go to high school. But not just any high school. This high school I went to was the nerdiest school around. And I really mean, the nerdiest school around. Like we would play with our calculators at recess, and then play chess at lunch. Just kidding, we never did that, oh wait…maybe we did. Anyway, guessed which school I went to yet? Yep, James Ruse! Now besides James Ruse having lots of nerdy people and lots of black haired people (asians), one thing James Ruse Agricultural High had was a farm, and we had to do this subject called Agriculture where you had to learn about plants, animals and all this farmer stuff.

And some people were actually pretty keen on this Agriculture stuff. One of my earlier and weirder memories of high school was being in a Maths period right before lunch. We would be all doing our maths exercises, as you do in James Ruse, but then some guy starts staring at this watch and counts down from 10,9,8… Now at this point we’re all looking around the classroom, going “What is this guy counting down for?”. But we find nothing. So this guy, who’s still staring at his watch, gets to 3,2,1 and… “ding ding ding” the school bell goes. Like seriously, this guy had synchronised his watch to the school bell just so he can click his fingers when it is hits exactly 1:03. 1:03. Yep, James Ruse had weird school bell times too.

Anyway, the Maths class would finish, and then you see a bunch of five guys sprint across the soccer oval, kinda heading towards the basketball court. So, a bunch of year 8 kids overly excited to play some basketball, sounds pretty normal right? Well that’s until you realise they aren’t rushing for the basketball courts… and to the farm instead, just to water their carrots, radishes and silverbeet (these are plants by the way). But man these guys were dedicated in keeping their plants alive. Well, I guess it was worth it because at James Ruse we get to take home what we grow. Actually wanting to eat it was another question though.

But during these Agriculture lessons, I actually learnt that growing any plant is tough work. One does not simply walk into a farm, drop a seed onto the ground which then magically grows into mature, edible plant the next day. To just plant a seed, there was heaps of stuff to do. First we had need to dig out these raised rows, because for one it lets the water not pool up and drown the seed, and two the digging makes more air go between the soil, which also helps the plant grow. Then you have to plant the seed at the right depth, because if it’s too deep, then the sprouts won’t come out of the ground and plant will die. But if you plant the seed too shallow, it will just float around in the water, if not worse yet, get eaten by birds.

So say we planted the seed right and after a week or two it finally sprouts and grows. End of story? Nope. We had to keep maintaining the raised rows, pull out the weeds, add fertilizer, add mulch, water the plants etc. And you can’t do all of this at the same time either because there’s some things you only do at a particular stage of the plant. So yep, growing a plant, is hard work indeed. And in the end, all that really matters is that the plant grows.

Now you might be asking “So what does agriculture have to do with discipleship? Quite a lot in fact!

1 Cor 3:1-4

As we saw in the first four verses in 1 Corinthians 3, we see that the Christians in Corinth have a problem. Paul says that they are still worldly, for there is jealousy and quarrelling among them. For some were claiming that they follow Paul and while others were claiming the they follow Apollos.

But who is Apollos and who is Paul? Well in the book of Acts, we see that Paul was a Pharisee, teacher of the law who went off to spread the message of Jesus to other nations. During his journeys he arrives at Corinth and starts up a church there, the same church we see him writing to here. But after some time with the Corinthians, Paul had to leave them to spread the gospel elsewhere.

Meanwhile we have Apollos who wasn’t a Pharisee, but like Paul, he was a Jew who had been instructed in the way of the Lord. He was a regarded as a learned man, who was known not only for teaching the message of Jesus accurately, but also for his eloquent speaking skills. Apollos came to the Corinth some time after Paul had left and took over the work of discipling the Corinthian church.

So Paul and Apollos had been great disciplers to the Corinthian church, just at different times, in different situations and with different roles.

We also see this in farming. For farmers, there’s different stages of caring for their crops, with different kinds of work to go with it. For example, in the planting stage, there’s ploughing work and sowing work. In the growing stage, there’s weeding work, fertilising work and watering work. And that’s just to name a few.

And all this work isn’t done by one farmer, because one farmer can’t be in the field all the time, not to mention that it would also be too much work to do for one person. So what happens is that there is a team of farmers who do the work, where each of them have a specific role and job to do. Some will do the sowing, some will do the fertilising and some will do the watering, depending on the stage of the plant. And in the end, the completion of these different jobs lead to the result of the plants growing.

1 Cor 3:5-6

And this is exactly what Paul means in verse 5-6. “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

From this we learn three things about how discipling works:

1. God is the one that makes discipleship work.

2. Disciplers have the same purpose but distinct roles at the right times.

3. Disciplers are co-workers of God, working the field of evangelism in seasons.

1 Cor 3:7-9

So Point #1: God is the one that makes discipleship work.

First of all, Paul makes it clear that it is God who ultimately grows the church, or in other words, God is the one makes the purpose of discipleship successful. Verse 7, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

So does this mean that disciplers are to sit down, do nothing, and let God do it all? Surely not! Disciplers have been given work to do, but we need to remember that it is God who makes discipleship successful, not us. This is good news, because if it was up to us, it would surely fail.

~

Now to Point #2: Disciplers have the same purpose but distinct roles at the right times.

It is true that Paul and Apollos had the same purpose of discipling the church in Corinth. But we see that Paul distinctly says that he “planted” the church and Apollos “watered” it. And that’s because they are two different jobs. Paul did the starting work, the “planting” work, while Apollos did the caring work, the “watering” work.

Mind you, it’s not like Paul couldn’t do the “watering” or Apollos couldn’t do the “planting”. Paul and Apollos did what they did, simply because they did what was required in the situation that God had given them. For Paul, there was no church there, so the job was to plant one. For Apollos, the church was there, so the job was to “water” it.

So while Paul and Apollos had the same purpose, they had distinct roles at the right times.

So what about us? What work is there for us to do? Well just like there’s different kinds of work for growing a plant, there’s different kinds of work in discipling. This includes: Bible studies, prayer groups, privately praying with someone, one-to-one caring, welcoming, socialising, visiting, just to name a few. Each of these have a role in discipleship, and like plant growing, there’s a right time to do these different kinds of work as well.

This means we can’t deliberately pick out which work we want to do in discipling, as if to avoid one type of work and favour another. God gives us the work. And what that work is will be obvious because it is based on the situation God has placed you in. If the person you’re discipling doesn’t know the message of Jesus well, then start the planting work so that they can grow. If the person that you’re discipling knows Jesus fairly well, then do the job of watering so that they can keep growing. So once again, disciplers have the same purpose but distinct roles at the right times.

~

Thirdly: “Disciplers are co-workers of God, working the field of evangelism in seasons.”

All disciplers work together. Not only do we have roles assigned from the same Lord for the same purpose, in verse 9, “we are God’s co-workers”. We are God’s co-workers whether we are working together at the same time, or at different times. This news might be sad to some, but the reality is that there will be many people that we can’t disciple all the way to the end. Things happen, people might go overseas or serve at another church, but what we can be confident in is that God will continue to do the growing work in that person you have been discipling. God might just provide them  another discipler with a different role, to build on the work that you had started. In fact, this is the situation that has happened to Paul, which we will see very soon.

So before we move on from being agricultural experts who are concerned with times and seasons, about who does what and when, let us recap. Then we can move to being professional builders.

So far we have seen that:

1. God is the one that makes discipleship work.

2. Disciplers have the same purpose but distinct roles at the right times.

3. Disciplers are co-workers of God, working the field of evangelism in seasons.

 

~

Okay, so who here has played with Lego before?

Alright, so perhaps none of us are agricultural experts, but at least we have quite a few professional Lego builders here in this room.

So let’s say I’ve bought a Lego set for building a house. I open the box, take out all the packets of Lego, open them all and then get out all the Lego blocks. So, professional Lego builders, what do I do next? That’s right, I pull out the instruction manual, in other words the building plan, and start building according to it.

So I start building, and because it’s a house, I start off with building the base on which the house sits on, the foundation of the house. Then as I keep following the building plan, I build the walls, the doors, the windows and finally the roof.

Now obviously, to build the Lego house well, I need to use the right material. So that means I actually use Lego blocks, and not Playdoh and definitely not paper. But to build the house well I also need to build it responsibly. I can’t just grab any Lego block and shove the pieces together, and I can’t just grab the correct Lego blocks and loosely plop them together either.

But if I do build on the right foundation, build with the right material and build responsibly, I think it would be safe to say that we’ll end up with a strong, sturdy house that I can’t knock down easily.

So what does Lego building have to do with discipleship? Well just like plant growing, a lot!

1 Cor 3:10

Paul starts off with the idea of building in verses 10-11. “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it, But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ.”

Here we’ll have three warnings about discipling:

1. Jesus is the foundation of our work.

2. We are to work with the right material.

3. We are responsible for our work.

 

1 Cor 3:10-11

Let’s think back to Lego building. Let’s say that after I built the foundation of the Lego house, for some reason I have to go somewhere far away, like Dubbo, so I can’t work on the house anymore. But the house needs to be finished, so Andrew is called to continue the work. (Andrew knows I’m picking on him).

So what does Andrew build? Does he just start a new Lego house and build it however he likes? Of course not! Because Andrew is also a responsible professional Lego builder, he would check the building plan, see what I’ve made already, and then continue from there.

And like we saw earlier, this is what Paul and Apollos did. Paul built the Corinthian church on the foundation of Christ, and Apollos continued to build on top of this foundation.

The same applies to building others up in discipleship. Jesus is the foundation, it’s God’s building plan, not ours. We don’t come up with our own building plan, we build according to what God has given us. So warning #1: Jesus is the foundation of our work.

1 Cor 3:12-17

Now our second warning is that: as disciplers, we are to work with the right material.

In verses 12-13, Paul goes “If anyone build on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

So we need to work with the right material, for there will be a day where it will be tested with fire. We need to use the right material with the right quality, materials which won’t be destroyed by fire.

But what then is the right material for discipleship? Well if Jesus is the solid foundation on which we are building upon, then the right material is one that upholds and supports the message of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to disciple others with God’s word, as it is God’s word that will stand the test of fire. Trying to disciple others with anything else, like human wisdom, will be like building a flimsy house of straw.

Therefore as disciplers, we are to work with the right material, with things which hold up to the message of Jesus.

~

Now we’ve reached our final warning: As, disciplers, we are responsible for our work.

As we’ve noticed, Paul brings to the Corinthians not so much of a happy message, but a scary one. This is because what we are actually building, are the people we’re discipling. And when that day with the test of fire comes, it will reveal the quality of your work.

Hence Paul says in verses 14-15: “If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames”

So this means we have a huge responsibility as disciplers. Because if the building survives, then we will receive a reward, but if the building gets burnt up, then we will suffer loss.

So the good news is that there is a reward, the same reward that the planter and waterer receive if they do their jobs well. What’s this reward? Well if the purpose of discipleship is that people grow, get built up and survive the test of fire, then the reward is that this person will be with you in Heaven when Jesus returns. It’s an awesome reward, but we can’t forget the scary image of what happens if the building burns up. The builder will suffer loss, and yes the builder will still be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. But only as one escaping through the flames – not a nice sight, but there is hope.

If that didn’t scare you enough, Paul brings out a even more fearful fact to us in v16-17 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

So it is one thing to build other up poorly, but it’s another thing to actually destroy God’s building, God’s temple. If you destroy God’s temple, then there indeed is no hope left for you. Why is God’s temple so important? Because it is sacred, and we together are God’s temple. Destroying God’s temple is destroying yourself. So you all have been warned.

So now as responsible professional builders, we know that:

1. Jesus is the foundation of our work.

2. We are to work with the right material.

3. We are responsible for our work.

So now we know that God makes discipleship work, and that we have roles and responsibility. What then does this all look like?

 

1 Cor 9:19-28

Let’s turn to 1 Cor 9:19-28

"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

We are to use our freedom to be a slave to everyone, a servant of everyone. This means we don’t just tell others the gospel, but we need to meet our disciples for who they are. So to win the Jews, Paul became like a Jew. Now the key thing to note is that being “like one” of them doesn’t mean you pretend to be like them and do whatever they do, for Paul though he is free, is still under Christ’s law. Being “like one” is about how we appear to others, how we communicate to others.

So for example, when Hudson Taylor – a white guy if you couldn’t tell by his name – was evangelising and discipling others in China, to not appear so “foreign” he dressed like them, talked in their language in their own comfortable environment. He might have not gone to the extreme of dyeing his hair black, but you get the point. The point is to gain their respect, to win them over to the gospel.

This is what Paul means when he says ” I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

 

Discipling – thinking practically

So, discipling:

Who can do it? Everyone!

Who needs it? Everyone! – So it’s everyone’s responsibility as well.

How do we find a disciple? Well God gives us disciples, but it doesn’t mean we walk around with our eyes closed. We’re responsible in seeking them!

When to start? When you see that there is work to be done! Be responsible, do the work!

Where to start? If your disciple doesn’t know the message of Jesus, start there! If your disciple knows the message of Jesus quite well, then continue from there! But whatever your starting point is, remember you are responsible for how you build from there.

Where to meet? Anywhere that is safe and comfortable. It is our responsibility that we create the right setting and atmosphere for discipling.

 

Discipling – thinking practically in regards to ASK groups

So what does this look like in ASK’s groups?

Well in asks groups, we are to:

Meet regularly.

Meet somewhere safe and comfortable

You could talk, share problems, pray, read a passage. But you don’t always have to do all of them. Nor do you have to do them in any order. It’s alright if sometimes all you do is talk and pray. But remember the aim of discipling is to grow and build each other up on Christ’s foundation, and it’s pretty hard to do that properly without reading the Bible together.

The point is that as a discipler, you find out what role you are to have in your disciples lives, and then be responsible in doing that work to the best of your ability.

With that as the focus, then all things will grow in God’s time.

Outro – Discipleship in Christian group at uni

To finish off, let me tell you about how I’ve been discipled over the past 4 years in university. In 1st year, I met up with a 3rd year guy from the Christian group there. He’s name was also Kevin, he was also studying Physiotherapy, and surprise-surprise he also went to James Ruse. No, I didn’t travel back in time to meet myself, though that would be awesome.

Anyway, over the two years we met at university, we read the Bible together, shared our struggles and prayed together. Every week I looked forward to our meet ups. It was good to have an older Christian to think life through with. However 2 years later, my discipler graduated, so he couldn’t meet up at uni with me anymore.

But it was alright, because then I started meeting up with a guy called Dan instead. Dan was the staff worker there. Now Dan continued the work of discipling me, meeting up with me one-to-one, but eventually he had to leave. So now another staff worker called Danny has taken his place, who I still meet with regularly today.

So you can see, each of these men, Kev, Dan and Danny had figured out their role in discipling me, each of them did their work of discipling me responsibly, and eventually God grew me over time. So to follow their example, my job is to do the same for the younger Christians that God has placed in my life today. And my hope is that it goes the same for you.

 

Discipling – Summary

So to sum up, discipling is:

All God’s work.

Everyone has a role.

Everyone is responsible.

Everyone is together co-working with Jesus.

Pray

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Wednesday Writings #9 - EC Camp Picture Poem

English Congregation Camp

That little flyer about planting seeds,

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sprouted into an eventful long weekend – yes, indeed.

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Where during our time we heard lots of talks,

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about discipleship – like Jesus we’ll walk.

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Along the way we had our skit night,

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where the competition was pretty tight.

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While each day we sang and played,

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to praise our LORD in who we’re saved.

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Thankful we had plenty of food to share,

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lovingly made by those who care.

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So don’t forget the how we had fun,

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how we laughed and cried under the sun!

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 Photos courtesy of Adrian (Lark Visuals)

PS. There will be a video of talk I gave. It’s coming!

-Kev

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Wednesday Writings #8 - Overdrive Engaged

Yes, I know it’s Thursday. Did so much yesterday that I only remembered about “Wednesday Writings” this afternoon.

Yesterday in a nutshell:

0800-1000: Car Service + Talk writing

1030-1100 : Got my Working with Children’s Check

1115-1145: Lunch

1230-1400: Caught up with some private practice physios.

1415-1430: Surprised a friend at work.

1530-1630: Won a game of Dota 2.

1700-2030: Talk writing.

2045- 2200: Gym

2200-2230: Dinner

2230-0100: Finished first draft of EC Camp talk.

So yeah, pretty productive day I’d say.

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Anyway, our church’s English Congregation Camp is happening this weekend!

 

Didn’t know at first, but that picture turns out to be extremely relevant to my talk – “The How of Discipling”

 

3333 word count! Too bad the word count won’t be as awesome once I get around to revising it.

After the camp I’ll stick my talk script up here. An audio/video would be nice, but probably won’t happen.

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Until next time,

Kev

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