Categories
Grow Spiritually

Coronavirus Discipleship

Pretty much every kid I know has a ton of free time on their hands. I knew their video games would only last for a few days–nothing new has come out in a while!

Anyhow, I want my kids to read the Bible. I want them to love reading it. They’ll have to find that for themselves–but I can provide a little bit of structure to experience the Bible on their own.

So I kept things simple. I assigned a reading, had them read it twice, then write out “the best verse,” and at least one question. I didn’t give any criteria for “best verse.” 3 kids came up with two questions. 1 came up with three. The one remaining only came up with one question.

The reading for today was Galatians chapters 1 and 2. Two of my five boys picked their best verse to be one with the word “circumcision” in it. They thought it was funny. And they weren’t not wrong. (is that how the kids say things these days?)

Anyhow, everyone came up with some good questions. I didn’t answer any of them. I said that if they wanted an answer they needed to come up with their own answer first. I required the questions…so there’s a good chance the questions weren’t real questions…that they didn’t really want an answer more than they wanted the latest digital trinket on Fortnite. Answering a fake question makes the answer giver feel good but usually doesn’t do any good. A real question needs no prompting, contains some urgency, and is motivated by courage. Some day my kids will ask real questions. Hopefully, I’ve built enough trust that they bring them to me.

I posted the following file on social media and a few people asked me to share it online. Here is a link to a zip file that contains the Word document and the PDF.

DOWNLOAD

Categories
Grow Spiritually

have you had enough?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

WHO is invited?

“…all you who are weary and burdened…”

Jesus calls the tired and the stressed to join him. This weariness is more than a physical reality, Jesus is talking about something much deeper and therefore difficult to deal with. Jesus is calling everyone who is struggling under:

  • The pressure to perform and meet unrealistic expectations
  • Shame and guilt
  • Unhappiness and a lack of joy
  • Anger and rage
  • Pretending to be something you aren’t
  • Discouragement and depression

If you feel like you are being buried alive,  Jesus is calling your name, inviting you to a better life.

WHAT is expected?

“Come to me … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”

Every invitation must be accepted–Jesus won’t force you to trust him. He won’t make you live a life that honors him. Once you see your weariness in the mirror, it is your decision with how you will respond. Will you continue as you have, or will you go to Jesus?

Going to Jesus is simple. It begins with an attitude that says, “Jesus, I am not enough, but you are.”


The natural next step is to reorder your life to look like Jesus. In Jesus’ day, a yoke was a wooden beam that kept two animals aligned–headed in the same direction, at the same pace. We align our lives with Jesus by learning from him–reading the Bible, time in prayer, listening to sermons, singing worship songs–these are some ways you can learn from Jesus.

WHY should we obey?

“…I will give you rest … I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Only in Jesus can we find what we need: rest for our souls. Everything in this world works against peace and tranquility: we are constantly on the move, making sure we keep busy. We make mistakes and rather than learning from them, we let them define us. We are isolated, even in an age where technology promises connection. We are never without our screens and a moment alone, without media, feels wasted. In our world, where can we find soul-rest?

Another question to consider: where can you find true gentleness and humility? The world makes big promises up front, but inevitably it fails to deliver. A friend betrays us, an authority abuses power, and help it is hard to find.

Living God’s way is difficult–but it’s more devastating to live the world’s way.

Jesus has extended the invitation.

He has called you to align your life with his.

Can you think of any reason why you shouldn’t? Can you think of any good reason why you shouldn’t?

Photo by Khachik Simonian on Unsplash

Categories
Discipleship

God’s Mission for Your Life

“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me. . .” Galatians 1:1-2

How can you tell if you about to waste your time?

Before we look forward, let’s look back: In ancient times, the word ‘apostle’ referred to an authorized representative who was sent on behalf of one with authority. A fleet of ships, an ambassador, or a messenger could be described as an apostle. In the New Testament, an apostle was a person who had witnessed the resurrected Jesus and preached the gospel to all the nations1.

What can you learn about God’s mission for your life by looking at Paul’s mission?

First, Paul made this clear: he was sent from God, not a group of people or a person. As a member of God’s family, you have also been sent. You have a mission from God! People can help you discover your mission, but you must not let them determine or define your mission. Allow the author of life to write your story–don’t settle for a second rate copy editor. God has a plan for your life. This doesn’t have to be an empty cliche, it’s a truth that you can build your life on because it’s eternal and unshakable.

Second, Jesus is always at the center of God’s call. The whole truth about God matters. The Father sent his Son to life a perfect live, die an unjust death, and be raised from the dead so that we can enter God’s family through faith. Living out your mission means you are saved by Jesus and you serve others in his name. Many people try to do the right thing, but we are called to do the right thing in the name of Jesus. Let us not forget the One who has sent us!

Finally, Paul mentions “all the brothers and sisters with me.” Paul often writes about the other people with whom he served. Paul didn’t travel the world preaching the gospel and planting churches on his own–he had help. Gods’ s call in your life will always include a call to do life with others. While periods of isolation lead to wisdom, Loneliness as a habit will leave you with discouragement and weak impact. You can’t love God without loving others because God made us to be better together.

reflection

What is God’s mission for your life? Is that too big to consider? I get it! Let’s narrow the scope: What is God’s mission for the next month of your life?

How important is Jesus, how often do you think of him?

When you consider your friends, do they bring you closer to Jesus? Do they help you discover and develop your life’s mission?


Grow Spiritually is a blog by matt mcgill and it exists to help you become more like Christ. If you want to receive the blog in your email, subscribe here.

Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash


Categories
Inward life Discipleship Grow Spiritually

Personal Reflection: Romans 12:1-8

Read Romans 12:1-8. Work through the questions at your own pace, don’t feel like you have to answer all of them!

For you personally, how has God shown you mercy? How have you experienced his love?

What are a few ways that you can keep his mercy “in view,” that is, remember it?

In your opinion, why does Paul say “living sacrifice?’ Why doesn’t he just say “sacrifice?”

The first 2 verses talks about bodies and minds, which equates to loving God internally (thoughts, attitudes) and externally (actions). What happens when both aren’t engaged? What does it look like to only worship God with your thoughts but not your actions? What does it look like when it’s just your actions and not your thoughts?

Paul talks about conforming to the world vs. being transformed. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you feel you are conforming to the world? Why did you give yourself this number? Do the same with being transformed.

How does a person renew their mind?

Paul tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. How does pride hurt a person? Where does pride show up in your life?

why does Paul use the body as an analogy? What is his point of that word picture? How does that point apply to your life?

Why does God give us gifts?

What is  something you love about yourself? In your opinion, how do you think God has gifted you?

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Family Worship Downloads

The Gospel and Baptism

My two oldest kids are getting baptized this summer, here’s a link to a collection of scriptures and questions for their reflection.

THE-GOSPEL-and-BAPTISM

Download PDF

Categories
Grow Spiritually

Where does your gospel come from?

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11–12)

Lord, help me to keep a constant focus on the Gospel–salvation through your Son. Forgive me when I neglect the foundation of our faith.

Lord, help me to hold to the Divine Gospel, which has no human origin, warn me when I am tempted to change it.

Lord, help me to preach the Divine Gospel, making the most of my opportunities to preach in love, be it service or speech.

Lord, help me to be more thankful to you for revealing yourself. Help me to position my heart to hear you speak.

Categories
Fellowship

You Can’t Have Christian Community without _________

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5)

The beginning of Paul’s letter assumes sin and conflict.

Grace** and peace are needed in every community–Christian or not–because communities are filled with imperfect people who are selfish, vain, and prideful. We need God’s grace, his undeserved favor and we need peace with him and others. Let us then not become surprised at sin and conflict when we see it. More importantly, let’s look to control our sin and keep our mouths from conflict with others.

The Gospel was always on Paul’s mind.

Thoughts about the gospel ought to be as regular as eating or sleeping or talking with others. It’s easy to leave the basics behind, but this is a poor habit. There can be no success when the fundamentals are forgotten. Make no mistake, the center of our faith is that the Father has sent his Son to save us from evil–his salvation is necessary and we are unable to attain it for ourselves.

God’s will prevails. Always. 

Our freedom is real. And while this mystery cannot be solved, we know what is expected of us: we ought to glorify God above all. We glorify many things: incredible experiences or outstanding people, achievement or the accumulation of more stuff. Everything in creation is is falsely glorified when it ought to be a sign prompting us to glorify the creator.

Paul’s introduction is simple. In a way, it wasn’t very special because was similar to common letter introductions during this time. It’s easy to skip–a trap I often fall into, I’m afraid to admit. But there are great insights waiting to be discovered when we pause for a moment.

What have I missed? How is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through these few words of introduction?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

**Here’s a good explanation of Grace from the Lexham Theological Workbook:

“Grace refers to the condition of being given or shown favor, especially by someone in a position to exercise goodwill by meeting a particular need. Grace can also refer to the manifestation of such a disposition of kindness in the form of material benefaction, including the giving of gifts, the approval of one’s request, the granting of freedom or mercy, and the deliverance or salvation from evil or harm.”

Categories
Grow Spiritually

Reflection: considering the parable of the four soils

Scripture

4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Luke 8:4-8; 11-15

Q. As you reflect on this teaching from Jesus, how are you challenged and encouraged?

Q. “A farmer went out to sow his seed.” What are all the ways you could have access to God’s Word? Are there any changes you ought to make so that you would be positioned better to hear God’s Word?

Q. The path represents those people who hear God’s Word, but their heart is too hard to let the truth sink in. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard is your heart? Why? What situations, people, or thoughts work to harden your heart?

Q. The rocky soil represents those people who hear God’s Word with joy, but their heart is too shallow to let the truth sink in and grow roots. At the first sign of trouble, they give up. On a scale of 1 to 10, how “rocky” is your heart? Why? What situations, people, or thoughts work to make you give up on your faith?

Q. The thorny soil represents those people who hear God’s Word, but their heart is too distracted by worry and riches. Good actions grow, but are choked up by the thrones. On a scale of 1 to 10, how distracted is your heart? Why? What situations, people, or thoughts work to choke out the good things in your life?

Q. Consider the first three soils from a positive point of view. What can you do to soften your heart? How can you better persevere and outlast the difficult times? How can you have a greater focus on Jesus?

Q. Do you know anyone with a heart that is “hard,” “shallow,” or choked by “thorns?” How can you encourage that person?

Categories
Inward life Worship Discipleship

How to have peace in a world with trouble.

Scripture

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Consideration

How can we have peace?

  • Through listening to the words of Jesus.

Why is peace so important?

  • Because this world is filled with trouble.

How do we know that we can trust Jesus?

  • He has overcome the world.

Reflection

  • Where do I put my peace? Is it internal (e.g. my ability), external (e.g. praise from others), or is it eternal (Christ alone)?
  • How easily is my peace stolen? When is my peace most threatened?
  • Who, in my world, is facing trouble from the world and needs support?
  • How can I listen more to the words of Jesus?
Categories
Grow Spiritually

How to be cut back so you aren’t cut off.

Reflections from John 15

Would you rather be cut off or cut back?

Cut back.

What has Jesus called us to do?

Remain in him. 

How do we remain?

Make sure his word is in us and obey his commands.

What is his command?

To love one another. 

What is love?

Love is sacrifice, it is the opposite of selfishness.

What happens when we love like Jesus?

We have complete joy and our prayers are answered. 

Why are we now friends with Jesus?

We are no longer called “servants” because we know the full plan of God: to love others as Jesus loved.