Defining Disciple

discipleTherefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19 NLT

Over the years, definitions of words have changed. Artificial once meant full of artistic or technical skill. Now it means not real. A nice person was someone who was ignorant or unaware. Now nice people are sweet. To be awful meant something was wonderful, delightful, or amazing. Awful now means terrible. When something was manufactured, it was created by craftsmen. Manufactured items currently include items created by machines. Counterfeit meant a perfect copy of something, but now something counterfeit is not a perfect copy. Tells original meaning was to count, like a teller. Sharing information is now considered telling.

Individuals and churches that want to be transformational must know an accurate definition of disciple. A disciple is someone who trusts Christ as Savior, grows in their relationship with him, and follows his guidance in witnessing and serving.

Disciples Have Trusted Christ as Their Savior

Recognizing one’s sinfulness, repenting, and following Christ are necessary to become a disciple of Christ. Apart from doing those things, no one can be a Christ follower. Family heritage, baptism, church membership, good works, or charitable giving have no bearing. It’s all about a relationship. No one can make disciples who is not one first.

Disciples Grow in Their Walk with Christ

People pass through spiritual stages: spiritually dead, spiritual infant, spiritual child, spiritual young adult, and spiritual parent. Everyone must determine where they are. Am I where I am because I should be or because I’ve failed to do some things that propel me forward? Am I an infant or child when I should be a young adult or parent? Am I where Christ expects me to be?

But how do we grow? Growing is an individual responsibility. No one is responsible for us, nor will God make us grow. God’s desire is to conform us to his Son’s image, but we must cooperate in the process. When we don’t grow, we are challenged.

The requirements for growth are simple but challenging: Bible study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and using our gifts.

Disciples Follow God’s Guidance as They Witness and Serve

Disciples want to follow, learn, and impact. They are spiritual parents, or at least moving in that direction. They want others to experience what they have and are not interested in keeping the good news to themselves.

Questions to consider include whether or not hell is even aware of our church, or whether the demons discuss it and conclude it’s not a threat? If our church shut its doors, would anyone notice? And then there’s the matter of my personal life.

Discipleship is not an option, nor is it synonymous with entertainment. It is the business of the church. Jesus instructed us to go and make disciples.

What are some steps you could take to increase your discipleship activities?

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Women of Faith

motherWhen Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
Ruth 1:18 NLT

The contributions mothers have made over the years are innumerable, and the struggles women have faced and overcome are worth remembering and studying as well. Thousands of single moms struggle to make ends meet and provide for their children, often with the ex-husband, father, or boyfriend giving little if any help at all. Even when the husband and father is in the home, the mom often takes care of many responsibilities around the house. And many countries’ histories are riddled with stories of how women have fought for equal rights.

Ruth has some characteristics that should describe all women of faith.

WOMEN OF FAITH ARE INDUSTRIOUS

An industrious person is a hard worker, and Ruth was that. She decided to leave her homeland and return with her mother-in-law to a foreign land. We begin to see this aspect of Ruth’s nature in chapter two: One day Ruth said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the fields to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it.” Being two widows with no man around to provide for them, they probably needed some things.

Ruth found a field where people were harvesting and began to follow those who were gathering grain. God had commanded his people in the law to leave some grain behind for the poor to gather. So Ruth did. Unknowingly to her, she chose a field that belonged to Boaz, a relative of her father-in-law.

When Boaz came to the field, he noticed her and asked, Who is that girl over there? In his reply to Boaz, the foreman said, She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest over there in the shelter.

Numerous Bible verses praise hard work and industriousness. Making time for leisure, fun, and hobbies is equally important, but we should work diligently at what we do. We need to work hard at home, at church, at work, at school, and in any community organizations we belong to.

WOMEN OF FAITH ARE FAMILY ORIENTED

Family was important to Ruth. When her husband died, she could have stayed in her homeland, but she decided to go with her mother-in-law to a foreign land even though her sister chose to stay behind. When Naomi tried to persuade her to return to her homeland, she said, Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!

Later in the story, Naomi encouraged Ruth to ask Boaz to marry her. He was a close relative, and in Israelite culture, had this responsibility so that the name of her dead husband could be preserved. Boaz said of Ruth, The Lord bless you, my daughter! Boaz exclaimed. You are showing more family loyalty now than ever by not running after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary.

Having healthy families takes all the resources one can muster, and then some. Many things in our world assault the very structure and fabric of our families.

The apostle Paul deals with the basic structure that must be in place for families to be successful. To wives and husbands, he says, You will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Then he tells the children to obey their parents. Mutual submission and love on the part of parents—as well as obedience by the children, is necessary in families that expect to be successful.

WOMEN OF FAITH ARE NOT AFRAID TO MAKE THEIR FUTURES

Ruth did this in at least two ways. First, she decided to leave her homeland and confront a very uncertain future with her mother-in-law. Then, at Naomi’s suggestion, she decides to make her own future with another husband after her first husband died.

Women and mothers should not be afraid to make their future. With God as your guide, there is nothing you cannot do. Dream big, and allow God to guide those dreams. Don’t limit what God wants to do in your life.

WOMEN OF FAITH GUARD THEIR REPUTATION

When Ruth went to Boaz’s threshing floor to ask him to marry her, Boaz spoke of her reputation. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are an honorable woman.

In another place, the Bible says, Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.

An author friend once remarked, “Being a mother doesn’t always mean she’s given birth. A mother is the woman, who regardless of your faults, has loved you unconditionally. She’s made a difference in you. Knows you. Cares.”

Ask God to enable you to be a woman (or man) of faith.