“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Not being conformed, to live differently than the world… Looking at this verse it’s easy to say that I do live differently–I don’t swear, I don’t dress immodestly, I don’t party But what if that isn’t enough? What if God calls us to a higher standard?
This past month or so, we have been going through two different books: Touching Godliness by K.P Yohannan and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. These books have really impacted my view of life. Life is so fragile and short. The Bible says it is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. What we do in this little while determines our eternity.
Deuteronomy 10:13 puts everything I have been learning in one paragraph:
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
It sounds simple but when I look at each command more closely, I realize it is so different than the normal Christian life.
To fear God: To fear God means to show respect and reverence. How often do we give a hurried prayer asking God to bless our day and then not think of Him again until we are in need of Him? If we took the time to examine and ponder over how great and amazing our God is, it would cause us to come before Him in awe and reverence.
To walk in His ways: How many of us truly live as Christ lived on earth? Do we love the poor and needy as he did? Do we take time to share the gospel with the people around us ? Do we forgive those who wrong us and love those who hurt us? Christ did all these things and He calls us to follow Him.
To serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul: This is taking it a step further. We are not only called to follow Christ, but to do so with a joyful heart. Everything we do as we follow Christ must be done with a genuine heart of love, and not just because we feel obligated to serve. God doesn’t want half-hearted service; He wants all of us or nothing. Jesus said to pick up your cross and follow Him. He certainly didn’t leave room for excuses or halfheartedness.
We are to keep His commandments: Someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” When we are more concerned about things in our lives than the things of God, or God Himself, we break this commandment. How many of us even think about others half as much as we think of ourselves? I know I don’t!
The most encouraging part of this verse is the end of it. God commands these things for our good. God wants us to enjoy life and make the most of it and He knows the only way to do so is by obeying His commands.
As you probably have realized by now, this sure doesn’t sound like the life the world advertises. In my personal life, I find it difficult to stay focused on Christ and the things that will count for eternity. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day, to worry about all the little things that happen. What encourages me and keeps me going is that I don’t have to do it on my own. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us and gives us the power to live out this abnormal lifestyle.
—School of Discipleship student
School of Discipleship CA
I·den·ti·ty- the fact of being who or what a person or thing is
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:1 & 13
As the year in School of Discipleship continues, it is amazing that one doesn’t just get to know the Lord more intimately, but one also gets to know themselves through this challenging year of being discipled.
In class, the Lord has been teaching me to recognize the importance of knowing my true identity. All of Mankind has identity. Our identity may come from many areas in life including family or friends, job, money, or even the past. The Lord has been challenging me in this regard: In the way I live, where is my identity rooted from? If my supreme identity comes from anything other than Christ Himself, I will soon realize that whatever else I root my life in will be earthly and thus will diminish. As a child of God, I have the amazing privilege to know and be known by an ever infinite God, and must recognize my value in this, rather than anything else that bids for my life. I am ultimately not who anyone else says I am, nor known supremely by my weaknesses or failures, but I am who CHRIST alone says I am!
Does Christ complete me? Do I feel as if I need that one thing, aside from Christ, in order to “feel” complete? What makes my heart race and receives my awe? In what is my identity really found when everything else is stripped away?
Though I have been greatly challenged in learning my need for a complete self-denial, the Lord has been teaching me that my absolute only boast, and ultimately life, must be in Christ. I have and am absolutely nothing without Him, but am everything in Him. It is unfortunate to know that I can go through the daily tasks of serving the Lord, without ever realizing who I am as His blood bought child, and miss out on the relationship that our Father longs for with His children.
So when I am tempted to believe that other things will somehow satisfy, or to ‘amen’ what the enemy would have me to believe, I must remember that as a child of God, He is the one who makes me who I really am. In Christ, my identity is completely sure since He never fails nor changes forever.
—School of Discipleship student
O what fullness of life, to trust and obey the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Having studied the book “Touching Godliness“ by K.P. Yohannan, I have learned much about submission to authority, and how submission and obedience is the secret to an intimate relationship with God and with my fellow creation. It amazes me that submission to authority and obedience to the commands of that authority are the principles on which all invisible and visible things exist and are sustained. If GOD were not holding all things in order as the ABSOLUTE authority, this world would be absolute chaos. I’m sure I would have been annihilated a long time ago by a falling star, if God were not in control and holding all things in order with absolute perfection!
Unfortunately, my natural sinful arrogant nature wants to do everything but submit and obey to God and others. I realize this is my overruling problem; that as long as I want to live my own way doing what I think is best I will never truly come to know and live the life that God desires me to live — one of freedom and peace and joy! The amazing thing is that we can live an intimate life with God with only one condition: that we die to ourselves. Hebrews 5:8 says that “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered”. I guess that means we “must suffer” if we are ever going to come to a place of obedience. This is most certainly true but the amazing thing, is that what is already “wretched and rotten” is that which will suffer and die so that we can be raised anew to truly live a godly life! This is a most amazing exchange and oh so worth it. Learning to Trust and Obey Him, is to KNOW HIM and this is all we need!
—School of Discipleship student
When I first started to read True Discipleship, I realized that I would be getting a lot of answers to questions that I had had in the back of my mind. Questions about Scripture passages like, “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (KJV)and “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 (KJV). A few of the statements that Jesus said sound so radical, to the point of impossible. The thought that runs through my head is, “forsake all? is that even possible?”. The truth is that I can’t and never would be able to forsake all, because my flesh wouldn’t allow me too. The Holy Spirit in me is the only way. I cannot live a perfect life no matter how much I try but Christ indwelling my heart changes me more and more into his image. Christ enables me to be a Christian. I claim what Paul said ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
Believing that Jesus walked the earth is easy. Believing what He said and obeying requires faith and trust in God. To be a true disciple of Christ, I must hail Him as King over my life and obey when He speaks. Yet Jesus offers so gently, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29. What does it cost on my part to be a true disciple and what is my motivation, is now the question. My part is surrender completely and know that Christ is worth it and worthy of all praise. Radical is the normal for a Christian because Jesus is the Christian life, He showed us how to live — To be different and to stand out by how we love one another (John 13:34-35).
—School of Discipleship student