Morning Mashup 04/12

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together | Jared Wilson


Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture | John Piper




Gene Veith: I’m not a huge fan of this hybrid of documentary and drama, but this one works as well as I’ve seen.  Luther’s life is so interesting and so inherently dramatic that the narrative is gripping and entertaining, even though it is continually interrupted by the scholars.


Tony Reinke: This week we celebrate the death of our Savior. And today we are going to look at the crucifixion from its historical and physical realities.


Nick BatzigWhen we have sinned in our Christian life or made a error in judgment in pastoral ministry, we need to remember that so much of the Christian life and pastoral ministry is in the recovery.


Geoffrey Kirkland: What is family worship? What does it look like? How does one get started? Is it really doable in our ‘fast-paced society’? This is the outline that I provided our men to guide us in our discussion through this important topic.


Jared Wilson: If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.





Morning Mashup 10/05

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


With: A Practical Guide to Informal Mentoring and Intentional Disciple Making | Alvin Reid | $11.47


Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches) | Mark Dever | $10.60



Tim Keller’s Newest | Patheos

In which Tim Keller interacts with a skeptic in the comment section of a review of his newest book on skepticism.

A Non-Vote is Not a Vote | Analogical Thoughts

If you’ve ever alluded to the thought that a non-vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary, check this out.

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense | National Review

In light of last night’s VP debate dealing extensively with the issue of abortion, I thought digging up this article from January would be appropriate.

11 Calls that Reveal Vin Scully’s Greatness | MLB

Even at the end, Vin Scully was the greatest.

The Sword and the Shepherd’s Staff | 9Marks

Travis Wussow on reporting sexual abuse in the church. Pastors, take note.

Faults to Avoid in Public Prayer | The Christward Collective

Nick Batzig: Those who think that they were most advanced in public prayer are often those who need these correctives the most. It would benefit all of us, no matter how much prayer we may have in our worship services to read Samuel Miller’s work and labor to avoid the faults that he set out. 


Morning Mashup 07/29


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Same-Sex Marriage (Thoughtful Response): A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage | Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet | $1.99


Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint | Ben Reed | $4.97



Why Some Preachers Get Better and Others Don’t | SBTS

Hershael York: On the first day of the semester, or the first time I hear a student preach, I have no way of knowing if he has what it takes or is willing to do what he must to be the preacher he needs to be, but I can usually tell by the second sermon if he does, because that is when he has to act on what I told him after his first sermon. What makes the difference?

The Attractional Church’s Growing Irrelevance | TGC

Jared WilsonI find it incredibly interesting, sort of amusing, and more than a bit sad that the attractional church—what we used to call the “seeker church”—hasn’t seemed to grow up at all. Yes, it’s grown big. But growing big and growing up aren’t the same thing.

9 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches | B&H Academic

Ed StetzerWe would challenge established church pastors to mother a church plant. You’ll see that people will be won to Jesus in the churches you plant and in your church. Some that may be less receptive to your church will be receptive to your plant. That’s why we want to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches.

Hillary Clinton Rehearsing Convention Speech in Dozens of Different Dialects | The Babylon Bee


7 Ways to Help Children Deal With Tragedies | Facts & Trends

Bill EmeottWhile you may be all too aware of the recent tragedies, most younger kids probably aren’t even aware—thank God. To some extent, ignorance may be the best plan. They’ll hear things and you should be ready to have meaningful conversations, but I would advise church leaders and parents to be careful about the media exposure and adult conversations you allow your kids to be exposed to over the next few days. Below are some ideas that might help parents and ministry leaders as they deal with the children in their lives during this crisis.

Being Real About Being Real | Desiring God

Jon BloomMillennials, in no way do I wish your desire for authenticity to diminish. I want it to increase, and mine with yours. It is spiritually healthy, and as a generational value could be a harbinger of a new outpouring of the Spirit. I only long for you to avoid sacrificing love on the altar of your ideals, a mistake we, your predecessors, have made.

Should Pastors Host a Q&A After the Worship Service? Tim Keller Responds to Mark Jones | Gospel Relevance

Tim Keller drops a 1,400 word response to Mark Jones’ criticism in the comment section of his article on hosting a Q&A after a worship service. Incredibly helpful!


When Culture Gets Confused With Christianity | Jamie Dew


Bad Lip Reading of Ted Cruz

Morning Mashup 07/13


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community | David Powlison | $3.99

Speaking Truth in Love Book

Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest | Ed Welch | $2.99

Running Scared Book


Which Way Forward? | New Orleans Baptist Association

I usually cringe to read anything theological coming out of Louisiana. But these men have seen, acknowledged, and responded strongly to the divisive attitudes among certain Southern Baptists in their state. I was beyond thankful to read this.

There is No Pro-Life Case for Donald Trump | Jake Meador

“If pro-lifers really believe that the Republican party is the only vehicle that they have in American political life to reach their ends — which is what the “Dumb and Dumber” argument rests upon — then they should absolutely refuse to support this candidate on the grounds that abstention is the only way of keeping the value of their vote up in every subsequent election.”

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity | Gavin Ortlund

“Rather than wade into the contested areas, I thought it might be helpful to offer a broader, more constructive post for those of us (like myself) who, particularly in light of the controversy, see our need to keep “beefing up” our understanding of the Trinity. So here are 5 basic principles that I have reflected on in my own study of the Trinity that may be helpful for others.”

Stop Assuming Your Neighbors Are Hostile to Your Faith | Trevin Wax

“We need to do away with that old saying that Americans don’t discuss politics and religion in polite company. The research shows that most of your friends and family who don’t attend church are either (1) willing to listen to you talk about your faith or (2) will engage you in conversation.”

The Three Verses that Kept Spurgeon from Quitting the Ministry | Cripplegate

“Because Spurgeon was so distraught over the events that occurred, he was unwilling to preach the next Sunday, he even thought about quitting the ministry altogether. And it wasn’t until the Sunday after that that he was willing to return to the pulpit. Here were his first words as he got up to preach that morning.”

Preacher Wanders Away from Pulpit to Catch Pokemon | The Babylon Bee


“According to sources within Second Baptist Church of Cleveland, Teaching Pastor John Walton abandoned his key sermon point and wandered away from the pulpit in order to catch a Pokémon for his Pokémon GO collection Sunday morning.”

On Leaving CBMW | Owen Strachan

Owen Strachan announces and explains his resignation as president of The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.

In Praise of Tim Duncan and Boring Plodders | Stephen Altrogge

An interesting connection between Tim Duncan’s boring career and the Christian life.


Pop Says Goodbye to Tim Duncan | ESPN


Dallas Police Chief David Brown Press Conference | USA Today

So They Did: The Heart of True Obedience

pexels-photo-30860.jpgWhat would you say is a good definition for true obedience? To put it simply, true obedience involves hearing and doing. When someone in authority over you tells you to do something, obedience is the act of hearing exactly what you are told and doing exactly what you are told. True obedience involves immediate positive response to the commands of the one in charge. So, if a dad tells his son to stop playing basketball and put the ball in the garage, but the boy puts the ball beside the mailbox, did he truly obey his father? If your boss tells you to have a project completed by Tuesday, but you decide to just finish it Monday morning, have you obeyed?

Why is it so easy to disobey? In fact, I would argue that nothing comes easier than disobedience. Disobedience says, “My way is better than your way. I know best; you don’t.” But ultimately, disobedience says, “I don’t trust you.” Disobedience flows from a heart that doesn’t trust God to satisfy. We love to jokingly mock Adam, Eve, and the people of Israel for their disobedience. We shake our heads at their stubbornness and facetiously ask, “How could they possibly disobey a God who was present with them, who had given them a purpose, and who had promised them a paradise?”

We know how it is possible. Sin reaches down into the deepest caverns of our hearts and corrupts us from the inside out–so much so that the eyes of our hearts begin to delight in the very things that will ultimately kill us. Our disobedience flows from our distrust, which is evidence of our distaste for God.

Throughout Exodus, the people of Israel have given us examples of how not to follow the Lord. At times they followed the Lord begrudgingly, meaning, they followed God, but really preferred to be doing something else, like live in slavery. At other times, they only followed the Lord for what he could give them, like food and water. And over and over again, we see how the Israelites fail to keep the covenant they made with God. They fail to obey all that he has commanded. To be sure, most of the time, the Israelites are scoundrels who seem to be trying their hardest to ruin everything God was giving them. However, in Exodus 39, we have an example of true obedience from the people of Israel. We have an example of a people who truly trusted their God to satisfy them.

Do you remember Exodus 28 and the instructions God gave his people for how to make the clothes the priests would wear in the tabernacle? Well, Exodus 39 explains what the Israelites did in crunch time. It’s like their coach has given them a game plan. Now, it was time to execute. The question for the Israelites would be simple: Would they trust and obey the Lord their God? Exodus 39:1-31 give a detailed answer of Yes to that question! A testimony of the Israelites’ obedience is found in verse 32: “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.”

Those final three words are massive. “So they did.” They obeyed the Lord in all that he commanded them. True and complete obedience. They didn’t change any of the Lord’s commands. They simply took his instructions and followed them. We run into trouble when we think we know better than God when it comes to how we should live. There may be certain commands from the Lord that we struggle to obey, but that doesn’t remove our responsibility to obey them. True obedience is true trust in action. It is the disposition to trust the Lord’s grace to satisfy us. True obedience is tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, and that following his ways will bring more joy than following our own ways.

Take the example of the Israelites and live your life according to the word of the Lord. May it be said of us, “Everything the Lord commanded, so they did.”

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 04/04


A mashup of book deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Glory Hunger by J.R. Vassar ($2.99)


What’s In the Bible? by R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth ($1.99)


True Friendship by Vaughn Roberts ($2.99)



10 Symptoms of Legalism – Very diagnostic of the self-sufficient human heart.

Beneath the Evangelical Earthquake – Paul Carter on the word “evangelical” and the future of evangelicalism.

18 Things to Pray for Your Church – Jonathan Leeman suggests 18 biblical prayers for your church. Would you pray for your church today?

Discipling Teen Girls – Kristen Hatton: “One of the beauties of discipleship is the front row seat to the work of Christ in the lives of the ones he has given you as an instrument to serve. Go be blessed by investing yourself in the timeless truths of God’s word for his people!”

Imagine Your Children Are Black – Amy Medina writes a compelling post on race and paying attention to the experiences of minorities.

5 Ways to Protect Your Kids at Church – I’m thankful we are doing these and more to promote safety in the children’s ministry at Trace Crossing.

Should I Be Concerned If My Pastor Uses Pre-Made Sermons? – I couldn’t agree more, Pastor John.

How Do You Know When You Are Ready to Shepherd? – Man, this is helpful for any young pastor or seminarian.



Don Whitney discusses his new book on family worship with Justin Taylor.

Dowden Quote


“God’s clouds shouldn’t speak louder and clearer than his children.” – Landon Dowden

The Uncomfortableness of Bringing Bad News

sweep-under-rugGood news carries little significance unless it is on the heals of bad news.
My wife and I have a few TV shows that we watch regularly (other than sports, which I watch and she sleeps to). We love Criminal Minds, which we look forward to every Wednesday night. But we also love to watch reruns of The King of Queens, because, well, Kevin James. The dude is just too funny. The more of the sitcom that you watch, the more you learn about Kevin James’ character, Doug Heffernan, and his family. One thing that you begin to realize over time is that Doug and his parents cannot handle bad news.

In one particular episode, Doug and his wife, Carrie, visit Doug’s parents in Florida. While there, the couple is greeted by a lively and beloved family dog, Rocky. The mini family reunion is going well until they all begin watching home videos from when Doug was a kid and you start to realize that the old family dog is, well, just a little too old. In the video, the family is celebrating the Bicentennial with a backyard barbecue featuring, you guessed it, Doug and Rocky. The problem is that if the dog in the video was the same as the dog in Doug’s lap, the dog would be over thirty years old!

Evidently, Rocky had died, but not only that, his replacement dog had died two times over! The Rocky he was playing with in Florida was the third replacement of the original Rocky! Carrie learns very quickly that the Heffernans hide bad news in order to avoid awkward conversations and keep from upsetting anyone. They sweep everything under the rug, or in this case, bury everything in the backyard!

It is tempting for Christians to take this same sweep-under-the-rug mentality when it comes to sin. Evangelism is hard because it involves telling someone that he or she is a sinner. This is why evangelism is often defined as a “conversation between two nervous people.” The awkwardness involved in sharing the gospel is so thick you could cut it. I have at times felt so awkward while sharing the gospel that I could barely stand up after the conversation was over. It felt more like torture than the positive spin we often try to put on evangelism.

If I can be honest for a minute, I must admit that telling someone that without Jesus they will remain forever lost in their sin is not as appealing as, say, talking about how dominant UK’s defense is. I honestly don’t wake up saying, “Yes, a new day to go tell some friends and strangers that their throats are an open grave and the venom of asps is on their lips (Rom. 3:13). But oh how necessary is this to realize before the gospel can be cherished!

Evangelism is the daily outworking of grace in a child of God to share grace with an enemy of God. It occurs in daily life. From the body shop to the beauty shop, the glory of God’s grace in the gospel extends to sinners. But as glorious as this is, the message of the gospel never reaches the ears of the mechanic or the hair stylist because of a desperate fear of bringing bad news.

Like the Heffernan family, bringing bad news is so uncomfortable that we would much prefer to sweep it under the rug and just focus on positive things. In fact, we are so allergic to bringing bad news that we try to find creative ways to share the gospel without even one mention of sin. We will talk about how God loved us all so much that he sent his Son to die for us. However, if we forget to mention the purpose in this sacrificial love and death, we miss the point of the gospel. If you leave sin out of the equation, you must leave the cross out as well.

The gospel cannot be received as good news until it is preceded by the bad news. Only when we see how dreadful our condition in sin is will we desire a Savior. So, in one way if your experience with evangelism has led to some awkward conversations, you should be encouraged. More than likely, you brought up the reality of sin. The gospel makes no sense without lovingly and winsomely confronting people with the truth that they are sinners in need of a Savior.

Don’t take a sweep-under-the-rug approach to sin. Bringing bad news is incredibly uncomfortable, but it is eternally significant. What does it profit a man to see his friend lose his soul because he gained comfort by not talking about sin? Like a raving maniac waving his arms, running, and yelling to warn drivers of the turned-over semi around a curve, we must willingly risk looking or sounding awkward for the sake of the salvation of lives. The message of the gospel is important enough to sacrifice your sense of comfort. Be awkward for the sake of Christ. Bring bad news to your lost friends because you know how indescribably good the Good News really is.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Why Should We Go and Tell?: Motivation for Discipleship and Evangelism

discipleship-copyIt has been the experience of many pastors and churches that it can be quite difficult to motivate genuine and passionate discipleship and evangelism. Discipleship and evangelism are two aspects of a church’s ministry that remain stagnant more often than any other areas.
Do you need people to serve in outreach ministries like food drives or seasonal activities? No problem. Do you need people to invite others to church on Facebook? Cake. However, what if you are looking for people to intentionally disciple one another in a more significant way than the typical discussion-facilitated Sunday School setting? What if you are looking for people to not only invite their friends to church (which should be encouraged and done), but to actively pursue gospel conversations with their lost friends? What motivation is there for risk-taking discipleship and evangelism that accurately expresses a heart that adores Jesus?

I believe we can look no further than the words that came from the mouth of Jesus himself to find satisfactory motivation that can fuel passionate discipleship and evangelism.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV).

The context of this passage falls directly after the resurrection of Christ. Evangelism, baptism, and all discipleship flow from the gospel. Jesus has already suffered the anguish of the cross. He has already bore the wrath of God. He has already taken on sin, so that by faith we might become the righteousness of God. He has already stood in our place as our sin-bearing, wrath-bearing substitute, as he became our Savior-King. And now he commissions his disciples.

But before he commands anything, he roots his commands in a glorious and powerful statement: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18). Authority here means the power and the right to do something. Basically, Jesus is saying that there is nothing in heaven and nothing in earth that can frustrate his will. He has the power and the right to do as he pleases and to command as he pleases. The psalmist definitely alluded to Jesus’ proclamation when he exclaimed, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).

“Therefore, Go!”

It is on this declaration that the following command stands. Anything that Jesus commands must be taken seriously and observed because all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him. This is why he follows this declaration with the word “therefore.” “Go therefore and make disciples…” In other words, because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, we are commanded to make disciples. Because Jesus is Lord over every man by his death and resurrection, we proclaim his gospel to all men. But we share the gospel, not merely because Jesus said to do it. We share the gospel because it is the only thing that makes sense.

Pastor David Platt once said, “Jesus’ authority compels us to go, for missions only makes sense if He has all authority in heaven and on earth.” The message we bring in the gospel is incredibly controversial. It confronts people in their sin and it is appalling to the human heart born in sin (Ps. 51:5). Calling people to turn from their sin only makes sense if the Jesus we call them to turn to is the Lord of every man. Since Jesus has universal authority, it would be incredibly unloving for us to keep the good news of salvation to ourselves. Why do we go and make disciples? Because Jesus is Lord!

Is this not tremendous news for us today? The mission that the church seeks to carry out in making disciples from East Bernstadt to West Africa and beyond is rooted in the truth that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth—all authority has been given to him. It is by that declaration that we call those outside of Christ to totally renounce themselves, flee their sin, trust in Christ, and live for him. It is by that authority that we call sinners to abandon their delight in sin and take up delight in God. Gospel proclamation finds confidence in the universal authority and lordship of Jesus.

“Of All Nations”

This declaration of Jesus’ absolute authority goes even further for our disciple-making. Because Jesus has authority in heaven and on earth, we are commanded to make disciples not only in our community, but in all nations. We are called to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord by proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth, because Jesus has all authority!

There is no nation or people group or person beyond the reach of Christ’s authority. And so there is no nation or people group or person beyond the reach of the disciple-making mission of the church. We must proclaim the gospel to all men with the absolute confidence that some will believe. In John 10:16, Jesus assures our missionary efforts: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”

Time to Work

Why should you engage your neighbor with conversations that lead to the gospel? Why should you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering? Why should you seek out a teen to mentor? Why should you actively and frequently have Bible studies with that new believer you know? Why should you face the probability of some awkward conversations or even awkward silences? Why should you risk comfort, reputation, time, and money for the sake of the cross?

Because Jesus is Lord. He is reigning. He is returning. He is with you. It’s high time we realize this and get to work!

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/08

Links, articles, book deals, and more for your information, edification, and enjoyment. Have a great Friday!

ISIS Systematically Beheading Children – Weep. Mourn. Pray.

A Time to Mourn – Christians aren’t the only ones being persecuted by the ISIS agenda to create a caliphate.

Leaving Ninevah – Historian Philip Jenkins speaks to the historic significance of the religious cleansing in Mosul.

Ebola Case Prompts Criticism – See Denny Burk, Andrew Walker, Russell Moore, and others respond to the criticism of the Ebola crisis from Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, and Ben Carson.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus…Maybe – Why do some young people make a decision for Christ and then abandon the faith when they go to college? Parker Reardon offers a biblically and theologically sound answer, though you may not like what he says.

How to Keep the Spark Alive – Tim Challies: “Why do married couples have sex? And how can they ensure that they keep enjoying the sexual relationship throughout their marriage?”

4 Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face – I work with the children in my local church and I was helped so much by this article. As I continue to disciple children I will keep these four moments in mind.

Your Wedding is Still Something Worth Wanting – Marshall Segal offers five supernatural reasons to pursue marriage.

PGA Championship Leaderboard Day 1 – Rory is one shot off the lead. Although Westwood is at the front of the pack, all eyes are on the hottest player in the world right now, Mr. McIlroy. Tiger only finished with one birdie and finished at +3, nine strokes back.

Finally, Amazon’s Big Deal is back and there are some awesome Kindle deals available:

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung ($1.99)

The Insanity of Obedience: Walking with Jesus in Tough Places by Nik Ripken ($2.99)

Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes ($1.99)

When I Don’t Desire God and Bloodlines by John Piper (both $1.99)

The Promises of God by R.C. Sproul ($0.99)

Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation ($1.99)

What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert ($1.99)

What Every Christian Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers ($1.99)

Doxology and Theology by Matt Boswell ($1.99)

Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. –Dallas Willard

Ten Truths About Christian Discipleship

soil-typeSpiritual Discipleship by J. Oswald Chambers is a compelling book that, not only defines biblical discipleship, but also exhorts, urges, and encourages disciples of Christ to continue to grow in discipleship. There were many viable and valuable truths that deserve to be discussed here. Ten truths that spoke to me and helped me grow spiritually and in knowledge of God in this book will be outlined below.

Truth 1: The “ideal disciple” takes the world by surprise

Chambers outlines in his first chapter what an ideal disciple of Jesus Christ looks like. He does this by going through the Beatitudes and organizing them as “passive personal qualities” and “active social qualities”. The ideal disciple or blessed one will demonstrate “spiritual inadequacy, spiritual contrition, spiritual humility, and spiritual aspiration”. These are each passive qualities that Jesus considers blessed. Then he moves to outline Jesus’ description of the blessedness of four active social qualities. The ideal disciple will be “compassionate in spirit”, “pure in heart”, “conciliatory in spirit”, and “unswerving in loyalty”. Chambers makes it clear that these descriptions by Jesus of what makes up blessedness is directly for his disciples since he addressed it to them (11). Although there was a massive crowd assembled to hear his sermon, Jesus addressed these words specifically to those followers who he had called.

With that in mind, Chambers makes a very important point to begin this book on discipleship.

Many think that if they had abundant wealth, absence of sorrow and suffering, good health, a good job, unrestricted gratification of appetites, and kind treatment from everyone, that would be blessedness indeed. But Jesus completely reversed that concept and substituted many of the very experiences we would like to sidestep—poverty, mourning, hunger, thirst, renunciation, persecution. True blessedness is to be found along this path, He told them.

The main truth of this first chapter is that the call to discipleship is distinctively counter-cultural. At the outset of his earthly ministry, Jesus asserts that his followers will be starkly different from the world and will have other-worldly desires and natures.

 Truth 2: Discipleship is difficult and demanding

Chambers writes in chapter two that “[Jesus] began to thin their ranks by stating in the starkest of terms the exacting conditions of discipleship” (19). This truth is compelling and often left out of gospel presentations. Too often the gospel is presented in such a way that Jesus ends up being the desperate party who is in need of the other. But when Jesus called his first disciples, he laid out some very hard sayings that would rub many in our culture the wrong way. I believe that if we would lay out in clear and stark terms the conditions of discipleship, it would diminish the number of false confessions of faith, for who would half-heartedly want any part of a man who said that his disciples must love him more than family?

Jesus’ method of discipleship is so often opposite ours. Many of us desire big crowds and churches. We desire quantity. Chambers makes it clear that Jesus desires quality. He calls men and women by his grace and they follow knowing the cost.

Truth 3: Discipleship is predicated on regeneration

This truth was found in just a short couple of paragraphs. But these small lines of text speak loudly. Chambers complains about the tendency for pastors to leave out the need for repentance in their preaching. This is utter foolishness since “without repentance there can be no regeneration” (21). And while I would contend Chambers’ position by arguing that regeneration leads to repentance, I get his point. Repentance and regeneration go hand in hand. The disciple is formed through repentance and regeneration. While this call to discipleship is on the basis on faith alone, this faith will not be alone. Indeed, “obedience is evidence of the reality of our repentance of faith” (21). This leads to the next truth.

Truth 4: There are many fruits of discipleship

The disciple is proven to be a disciple by his works. His faith is illuminated by his obedience to Christ. Chambers makes this abundantly clear. He also gives some specific examples of this obedience as taught by Jesus. Firstly, Chambers describes a “continuance principle”. He exposits Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32 and writes that continuing in the Word is stark evidence of a Christ follower. Chambers asserts that “Continuance in the Word is the evidence of reality” (29).

He then outlines what he calls the “love principle”. Citing John 13:34-45, Chambers describes that the disciple of Christ will demonstrate love for others, both friends and foes. The third evidence of discipleship according to Chambers is the “fruit principle”. This is based on Jesus’ teaching in John 15. A true disciple of Jesus Christ will show evidence of his or her union with him by his spiritual fruit. Chambers rightly writes that the fruit of true believers is demonstrated in the person’s character and service. This chapter is helpful for both self-examination and gospel proclamation since “a fruitless disciple of Christ is a contradiction in terms” (33).

Truth 5: A disciple of Jesus is not following an ordinary teacher

What I love most about Chambers’ book is the fact that he gives proper attention to Lordship salvation. The disciple is not one who merely adheres to truths (although he does that). The disciple of Jesus must trust in his Savior and submit to his Master. Jesus is both Savior and Master. And it is submission to Christ’s lordship that makes the disciple, not just mere acknowledgment of his lordship, since even the demons do that. Tragically, there are countless in our culture and maybe even in some of our churches who, like Gandhi, either directly or indirectly admire Jesus as a man and teacher, but say, “I cannot accord to Christ a solitary throne” (45). Disciples of Jesus, therefore, are marked by self-submission to an exalted King.

Truth 6: A disciple of Jesus has a holy ambition

I loved Chambers’ statement, “too many disciples are content with the status quo and cherish no ambition to improve their spiritual condition and fulfill a more useful ministry.” I think too often in the Christian life we can become complacent. So many Christians, including myself, can be guilty of abusing grace by not growing in holiness. Somewhere along the way, we lose an ambition to pursue Christ and likeness to him. While it is very tempting to become complacent as a Christ-follower, that is not the life we have been called to. I want to point out two holy ambitions mentioned by Chambers.

Firstly, disciples of Jesus should have an ambition to become more like Jesus. More pointedly, disciples of Christ are to have an ambition for Christ. We should want more and more and more of him. We should have the attitude of the Moravian church and her leader who once said “I have one passion: it is He, He alone!”

Naturally, this ambitious and fiery passion for Jesus will lead to a holy ambition to see peoples from all nations come to Christ. This is the second ambition. Of all the things that I gleaned from this book, this was the most important. When the gospel is shared, these two things are sadly left out in so many cases. Chambers made it clear that the disciple of Jesus has the “passion for the glory of Christ in the salvation of souls” that David Brainerd had when he proclaimed: “I cared not how or where I lived, or what hardships I endured, so that I could but gain souls for Christ.”

These two ambitions are to embody the disciple of Jesus Christ. These two desires and ambitions will lead to a fruitful ministry since the goal in all of these is the glory of God. God is glorified when we desire him above all others and desire others to know him.

Truth 7: A disciple of Jesus is to grow in maturity

Similar to the last truth, followers of Christ are to continue to grow in maturity. In fact, this is great evidence of a true disciple. True Christ-followers will continue to grow in holiness. Chambers makes a key point that I agree with. He writes that “no rapid growth in Christian maturity will be attained until the first indispensable step of submission to the lordship of Christ has been taken” (emphasis his, 82). However, this is only the first step. One who is in Christ will take strides in spiritual maturity. This is primarily due to the grace of God in working in us, although disciples of Christ are to work out our own salvation (Phil. 2:12-13). This means that the life of a Christian is the life of a warrior who fights sin at nearly every moment. But the Christian can do so with the unshakeable hope in the truth that sin has been defeated and we are reigning with Christ!

Truth 8: The life of a disciple of Jesus is one of intense training

One of my favorite chapters in this book is entitled “The Disciple’s Olympics”. I played basketball and baseball competitively in high school so this chapter was very personal to me. The essence of the chapter is summed up in this concise statement by Chambers: “The Holy Spirit urges each of us to do in the spiritual sphere what the athlete does in the gymnasium” (91). A disciple should therefore continually work in a disciplined manner to become more like Christ. This is in a real sense the goal of salvation—to glorify God through conformity to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). Intense Bible study, frequent prayer, and intentional disciple-making should mark our lives as disciples. Just as the Olympic athlete trains strenuously for hours upon hours, Christ-followers are to train their hearts and we have the assurance that “it was He who initiated our faith, and it is He who will strengthen us to complete the course” (95).

Truth 9: Compassion should fill the heart of the disciple of Jesus

Walking directly in the footsteps of the Master, a follower of Jesus should be compassionate toward the “crowds”. There are thousands of unreached people groups and billions of lost people in our world. Our hearts should be broken at this reality, knowing that there are so many who have yet to hear of Jesus as well as countless in our own cities and neighborhoods who stand in rebellion to God. I love Chambers’ statement concerning this truth: “[E]very disciple of the compassionate Christ will be concerned to see that the unevangelized millions will have an opportunity to hear the gospel” (102). Apart from Christ there is no hope. At the truthful thought of millions and even billions with no hope, our hearts should break and as a result our lives should be centered around glorifying God through disciple-making. We should be compassionate toward the physical and spiritual needs of those around us and around the world. This Christ-like compassion should always lead us into sacrificial living and giving.

Truth 10: The prayer life of the disciple should be radical

While Chambers does not directly use the term “radical,” I do believe he implies this. This is an area of life that many Christians struggle with, including myself. In my early years as a Christian, I was never taught how to pray. As a result, in my own ministry with children and youths, I teach them how to pray biblically. According to Chambers, the disciple can pray with authority and should pray audaciously (108-109). Each day we fight battles against sin and temptation to sin. One of the weapons we use in this fight is prayer. Chambers strongly writes “the fulcrum on which defeat or victory turns is our ability to pray aright and make intelligent use of our weapons” (108). As followers of Jesus we can pray with authority because we are united to the conqueror of sin, Satan, and death. In praying with authority, we demonstrate the reality of our reigning with Christ.

I often am guilty of being too mild in my prayers. I can identify with what Chambers says about most disciples’ prayer lives: “[Our prayers] seldom soar above past experience or natural thought” (109). Although our intercessor is the Lord of all the universe, we so often pray mildly and repetitively (in the sense that our prayers reflect on past experiences). A disciple should pray for things that are unknown to us or what we think to be impossible. Praying like this requires faith.

While in my immediate future I can only see myself doing ministry in my small town, my prayers should be for a very fruitful ministry maybe among an unreached people group. Will that happen? Is that what God has called me to? I do not know. But that is the point. Disciples of Jesus should pray for their family members who are callously hardened against God. For those atheist friends who want no part of God, we should pray for God to save them. Through confident prayer in faith in a risen Savior and almighty God, the impossibilities of men can become realized possibilities with God.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY. with his wife Erica.