What are the Christian Essentials?

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

Through the years of Christian development and especially in recent times, there has been a dwindling of understanding concerning what exactly makes someone a follower of Christ. What is a Christian really? What does someone need to believe and do in order to adopt such a distinct worldview like Christianity? What separates a Christian from a Latter-Day Saint or a Muslim? With all of these questions in mind, let’s look at what others have laid out as the Essentials of Christianity and see if it is a biblical understanding of what makes someone a Christian.

Most sources you find will list out 5 to 7 Essentials that must be affirmed in order to be a Christian. For instance, gotquestions.org says that there are 7 Essentials (2), yet the Gospel Coalition has up to 20 Essentials (3)! Specifically, 10 Essential beliefs and 10 Essential behaviors as written by Kevin DeYoung, respectfully. But are there truly this many Essentials or are we misunderstanding what an Essential actually is in Christianity? I think we should start by identifying what an Essential is before pinpointing how many Essentials there are and what they actually entail.

An Essential is a fundamental core value, whether a deed or doctrine, that if removed from the other fundamental core values of said belief system would completely cause that belief system to collapse on itself. Islam, for example, has the 5 Pillars of Islam (3) that indicate the basic tenets of the faith that make someone a Muslim. These would be the Islamic Essentials. These 5 Pillars of Islam include the Shahada (Profession of Faith), the Salat (Daily Five Prayers), the Zakat (Giving of Alms), the Saum (Fasting of Ramadan), and the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). If a Muslim does not affirm the Shahada, the other 4 Pillars are useless. If a Muslim does not affirm all 5 Pillars, then their Islamic belief should be called into question for either heresy or ignorance.

Now can or does Christianity have a small list of criteria that distinguishes Christians from other belief systems? Yes and for Christians there are even less Essentials than Islam. In fact, I would argue that Christianity has only 4 Essentials. Not 5 Essentials, not 7 Essentials, and certainly not 20 Essentials.

These 4 Essentials are the Nature of God, the Hypostatic Union of Christ, the Gospel, and the Inspiration of Scripture. Let me explain each one individually in further detail below and show why there are only 4 Essentials at the root of Christianity. I refer to them as the “Four Cornerstones of Christianity,” but we will stick to the Christian Essentials for simplicity sake. First of the Christian Essentials is the Nature of God.

1) The Nature of God

The nature of God is comprised of 2 unique beliefs: Monotheism and Trinitarianism. The belief of Monotheism affirms God’s unique oneness and the idea that there is only one God (5), while Trinitarianism affirms God’s tri-unity as three persons, yet one being (6). As Dr. Michael Brown would put it, God is “complex in His unity” (7) and this truth is best known as the doctrine of the Trinity. Now the Christian Essential regarding the nature of God also includes His divine attributes as He is omnibenevolent (all-loving), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-enveloping), and omniscient (all-knowing). God is eternal, immaterial, non-contingent, non-physical, personal, and uncaused. I believe St. Anselm of Canterbury sums up God’s divine essence best when he concludes in his Ontological Argument the following:

“Therefore, if that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, the very being than which nothing greater can be conceived is one than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence there is no doubt that there exists a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality (8).

Suffice to say, Christians believe God to be indescribable in His grand majesty and He is beyond human comprehension, yet He is near to all who seek Him with sincere hearts. He is the one true, triune God and His presence is near to our souls. But how does God, a being beyond definition, interact with His Creation? How could God bridge the gap between finite minds and His infinite mind? Well, that leads us to the second Christian Essential: the Hypostatic Union of Christ.

2) The Hypostatic Union of Christ

The hypostatic union of Christ is similarly divided into 2 distinct sub-Essentials: that Jesus is both fully God (9) and fully man (10). Hypostatic originally means “personal,” so the hypostatic union of Christ really means the personal union of Christ. In this case, the personal union of two natures within the person that is Jesus.

At certain points in time (11), Jesus adopted a second nature and that would be His human nature. This was for the sole purpose of bridging the gap between Creator and Creation. As the ultimate mediator, Jesus inhabits the best of these two natures. He is both the only good God and the only sinless man. He is the mediating messiah who has taken the task of healing the world from the sin in the Garden of Eden and is at the same time the ultimate human ambassador for the holy Godhead (12).

If His deity is denied, then you find yourself aligned with cults that deviated from Christianity like the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses, and large portions of the Church of God Movement. These cults most likely came from early historical heresies like adoptionism, arianism, nestorianism, and the like. If His humanity is denied, then you find yourself conforming to some heretical views such as docetism, apollinarianism, eutychianism, and other deviations of the Hypostatic Union (13). Needless to say, Scripture is quite clear that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

If Jesus was not fully man, then He could not be the unblemished sacrifice that atoned for the sins of the world. If Jesus was not fully God, then He could not be the Messiah that the Old Testament proclaims will enter the world and save it from itself. Jesus fully inhabits both natures and if we do not believe this Essential, then Christianity collapses as a worldview. Jesus is one person with two different natures that are in complete harmony. These two natures are not contradictory, but complementary. Understanding the Hypostatic Union is the second Essential of Christianity and the next Essential is the Gospel.

3) The Gospel

The Gospel is grounded both in the historical reliability of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead back to life (14), along with the theological understanding that salvation is by God’s grace and not of works because of Christ’s atonement on the Cross (15). We will observe the biblical and theological side of the Gospel, before going into the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

Now there are many quick ways to understand the Gospel, so we will observe the two most common explanations that reveal what the Gospel message is and why it is an Essential in Christianity. When it comes to understanding the message of the Gospel, Scripture paints the best picture. The most common Scriptural guide in understanding the Gospel is the infamous Romans Road. It goes as follows:

The Romans Road

  • Romans 3:23 | Everyone has sinned and is fallen.
  • Romans 6:23b | Sin leads to death and therefore everyone who has sinned will die.
  • Romans 5:8 | God gives grace and Jesus pays our sin debt.
  • Romans 10:9 | Salvation to all who confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead.
  • Romans 10:13 | Whoever calls on the Lord will be saved.
  • Romans 5:1 | We are justified by faith and now have peace with God.
  • Romans 8:1 | We are no longer condemned to Hell for our sin.
  • Romans 8:38-39 | Nothing can takeaway our salvation because it is sealed by the love of God.

Now the Romans Road is a great resource to use in sharing the Gospel, but not all of us can memorize or remember that many passages of Scripture on the spot. So how do we explain the Gospel in a shorter and more straightforward way? Here is how I share the Gospel whenever I present it to people: 

The 4-Point Gospel Message

  • Creation | God created everything and it was good.
  • Condemnation | Adam sinned and we inherit his sin debt now that everything is bad.
  • Propitiation | Jesus atoned and paid our sin debt, which causes those who repent and believe to be free from sin’s consequences.
  • Salvation | We receive new life in Christ and enjoy living for the Lord.

Still too complex? Try this simplified version of my way of sharing the Gospel instead. In all honesty, I use the Abridged 4-point Gospel Message more often because more people can understand it. Anyways, here it is:

The Abridged 4-Point Gospel Message

  • Creation | God made everything good.
  • Condemnation | We made everything bad.
  • Propitiation | Jesus has made everything better, so now we should believe in what He did and put all our trust in Him.
  • Salvation | Enjoy new life with Christ.

Because the Gospel in it’s biblical and theological sense is so simple to comprehend, as it should be, we will move onto the historicity of the resurrection since it carries so much weight in the defense of Christianity. For another Scriptural explanation of the Gospel in the form of a video, I would refer you to David Wood’s great YouTube video called “What is the Gospel?” (16). Bottom line: when it comes to the Gospel, keep it Scriptural and simple. That’s what Jesus did and that’s we will continue to do as Christians.

Paul the Apostle once said that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain (17). If we cannot defend this claim, then our faith is in jeopardy. When it comes to defending the resurrection of Jesus, there are many approaches to take and ways to go about supporting this quintessential truth. Some might use extra-biblical sources or manuscript evidence, but I like to keep this just as simple as a Gospel presentation and use basic logic. I have a three point argument called “The Resurrection Argument From Reason” that concludes the resurrection of Jesus to be the most logical explanation of the historical evidence. This argument goes as follows:

The Resurrection Argument From Reason

  • The empty tomb of Jesus is due to either the apparent death theory, the conspiracy theory, the displaced theory, the hallucination theory, or the resurrection theory.
  • Based off of the evidence, it is not due to the apparent death theory, the conspiracy theory, the displaced theory, or the hallucination theory.
  • Therefore, it is due to the resurrection theory.

Now this is a very short argument that is inspired by analytic philosopher William Lane Craig and his “A Case for the Historicity of Jesus’ Resurrection” argument, as well as the contributions of New Testament scholar Gary Habermas. For more information regarding the resurrection of Jesus, I would point you to both William Lane Craig’s book, On Guard, where his previously mentioned argument can be found and to the book, Did the Resurrection Really Happen?, which is the written version of the third and final debate between Gary Habermas and former atheist Antony Flew concerning the resurrection. Last of the Essentials is the Divine Inspiration of Scripture.

4) The Divine Inspiration of Scripture

The inspiration of Scripture is the final Essential and it is the root belief that guides the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture. For those unfamiliar, the inerrancy of Scripture is the idea that all that God says to be true is true. At the same time, this final Essential gives us Christians the other three Essentials. In order to understand biblical inerrancy, we must properly understand biblical inspiration. If the Bible was not divinely inspired, then why should we believe the Bible to be inerrant as the infallible Word of God?

The idea of inspiration can be traced far back in history to the Israelites and their beloved fondness for the Torah, as it was the very Word of God that inspired Moses to write those first five books of the Bible. It was the Law that the Hebrews lived by and this was the start of the canon of Scripture. Since then, that understanding of the holy canon of Scripture now includes the entirety of the Old and New Testaments. Once belief in the inspiration of Scripture is established, we can then conclude the inerrancy of Scripture.

We believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant Word for a number of reasons. When it comes to presenting said reasons the Bible must be divinely inspired, I have both an argument and an acronym from Charlie Campbell (18) that will aid in remembering key reasons to believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God. First, we’ll observe my own argument for the inerrancy of Scripture below:

The Inerrancy of Scripture Argument

  • The inerrancy of Scripture is due to either chance, divine inspiration, or human manipulation.
  • It is not due to chance or human manipulation.
  • Therefore, it is due to divine inspiration.

With this in mind, the divine inspiration of the Bible logically infers the inerrancy of God’s Word. If God was behind the scenes guiding the process of developing the canon of Scripture, then why can we not conclude that it is without error in its truth claims? But can we empirically prove that because the Bible is inspired, that it is also inerrant in its truth claims? Using Campbell’s M.A.P.S. acronym, we can do just that. The M.A.P.S. acronym goes as follows:

  • M = Manuscript Evidence
  • A = Authors’ Forthrightness About Failures
  • P = Persecution Endured By The Early Christians
  • S = Son of God’s View of Scripture

In short, we Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Word because Jesus believed it was and not the other way around. Because we believe it is inspired by God, we also believe it to be God’s inerrant Word. We support this claim with the M.A.P.S. method of providing evidence. Our understanding of the other three Essentials hinges on our understanding of this final Essential.

Like the above picture, the Essentials of Christianity all work together and uphold the very essence of what Christianity is as a whole. Everything is built off of these four key pillars of our faith. If you remove one pillar, the whole worldview collapses.

Therefore, just as a Muslim has the 5 Pillars of Islam, we too have the 4 Pillars of Christianity. When you understand the foundation for Christianity, then you will understand the Christian faith. When you understand why you believe what you believe, then defending what you believe is that much easier. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. The Four Posts of Avila, Spain (1566) by Francisco de Arellano
  2. https://www.gotquestions.org/essentials-Christian-faith.html
  3. https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2013/09/12/what-are-the-essentials-of-the-christian-faith/
  4. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/medieval-times/islam-intro/a/the-five-pillars-of-islam
  5. Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10-13, 1 Corinthians 8:4b-6, Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5
  6. Genesis 1:26, 3:22-23, 11:7, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14
  7. The Real Kosher Jesus (P. 134-135). See also Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol. 2: Theological Objections (P. 3-14) by Michael Brown for a theological understanding of the Christian Trinity in response to Orthodox Judaism, along with The Forgotten Trinity by James White for an exegetical understanding.
  8. https://www.princeton.edu/~grosen/puc/phi203/ontological.html
  9. John 1:1-3, 10:30; 20:28-31
  10. John 1:14, Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:14-18
  11. Genesis 14:17-20, 16:7-14, 18:1-33, 22:11-18,  32:24-30, Exodus 24:9-11, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11-25, Daniel 3:23-28; John 1:14-18
  12. In his book Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth, John MacArthur & co. make the following statement regarding Jesus being an ambassador or messenger of the Godhead: “When the biblical account associates “the angel of the LORD” with a theophany, “messenger” might provide a better translation than “angel,” because this title denotes the function or office of the individual, not his nature. In addition, the Scripture speaks of him [the angel of the LORD] as actually being God. He bears the name “LORD,” he speaks as God, and he displays divine attributes and authority. Most significantly, however, he receives worship (Matt. 2:2, 11, 14:33, 28:9, 17). Given what John 1:18 says about the Son-that “no one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” -the appearances of God in the Old Testament must have been the Son, not the Father. The phrase “made him known” in Greek (exégeomai) is the word from which we derive the verb exegete and its cognate noun, exegesis. Literally, the Son of God “exegeted” the Father to mankind (P. 241).”
  13. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/historic-heresies-related-to-the-nature-of-jesus/
  14. John 2:19-22, 1 Corinthians 15:1-22; Galatians 1:6-9
  15. John 14:6, Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0maL4cQ8zuU
  17. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14
  18. Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted (P. 93). See also The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce and From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible by Norman Geisler & William E. Nix for more information on biblical inspiration and biblical inerrancy.
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Mentors That Made Me A Man: Andrew Morrison

Updated: 5/27/2019

When I first met Andrew Morrison, it was at one of the Calvary Chapel Aurora summer youth group events for the high school ministry and we were playing rugby at Olympic Park. Before that day, I had never heard of rugby. After that day, I realized it was probably the hardest sport I have ever played. Oh, and the guy leading this skull-crushing sport was none other than Andrew himself: the leader who served at CCA in the high school ministry and who loved to pull pranks on everyone in youth group.

There were a few guys from the youth group like Bailey Monroe and Isaac Hardwick there, so I didn’t feel that alone trying out this new sport. Although, I was intimidated by Andrew and his sheer size compared to me as we were on opposing teams. At the time, he was near 300lbs and I was less than spare change, so I took quite a beating that day during the game. It went as expected: bloody, dirty, and non-stop adrenaline as we went back and forth playing rugby. Regardless, looking back it was actually a good time. Lots of smack-talk, testosterone, and a whole lot of really painful tackles worthy of an ESPN rewind. So that was the start of a discipleship bond between Andrew and I that is still ongoing to this day.

As I continued to go to the high school youth group at CCA, I figured Andrew would only be interested in hanging out with the athletes that went there. Those athletes were usually Bailey, my older brother John, the Fouse boys, Jeffrey Torres, Lomar Rodriguez, the Obinnah trio, and some other athletes that would occasionally show up. Yet Andrew took the time to invest in the scrawny guy that spent all his free time playing Pikmin and Mech Assault.

At first, it didn’t make any sense why he wanted to invest in me and be that mentor in my life. I mean, we had literally nothing in common. We both were known by Christ and for Andrew that was enough reason to invite me to join his Leaders In Training group, also known as LIT. This group was a disciple program for hand-picked, high schoolers that wanted to grow deeper in their faith in Christ. It was a group that included Adaeze Obinnah, Alyssa Almond, Bailey, Bella Newberry, Bethany Trantham, Charlie Tomaskovic, Daniel Walton, David Dekhtyaryuk, Heather Baca, Kathryn Koff, Khilah Fouse, Lisa Brooks, Lomar, Mariah Santos, Miciah Lewis, Millie Tomaskovic, Ryan Vincent, Sarah McFarland, Taylor Urling, and Zach Fouse.

It was a really challenging group in that we had to do the following every week: serve at church during service, serve at evangelistic outreaches in the Denver area, memorize Scripture weekly, inductively study Scripture weekly, along with a number of other tasks that were required for this program. In retrospect, it was a high point in my spiritual growth as Andrew with the aid of Joel Wheelersburg, instilled the truths of Christianity into us. To this day, those lessons till remain with me all these years later.

Later on, Joel went and started a new church plant called “Calvary Reach” in 2015. Around that time, Andrew left CCA to be the youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Westminister up north of where we were at in Aurora, Colorado. Even amidst all of this change, Andrew still kept in touch with all of us students to the best of his ability.

He would nag us on how we should workout with him or how we should visit him at his new church. Either way, he kept checking in on us and he still does to this day. This accountability and responsibility he took on is one of my favorite aspects that he has as both a mentor and a friend of mine. His constant desire to see the spiritually young in the faith mature is what makes him such a great leader for anyone that learns under him.

Andrew firmly believes in the idea of a church on the move. What I mean by that is inviting someone to hang out with you outside church doors throughout the week by sharing your hobby or trade with them. For instance, if you love to skateboard, then you would invite whoever it may be to hit the skate park with you and as you hang out, talk about stuff that really matters like God.

It’s been his way to share the Gospel to people that don’t go to church or have been hurt by the comfort-seeking American Church. Like Jesus would do when He would minister one-on-one with people doing simple, everyday things like drawing water from a well (1) or simply having dinner together (2). It’s when sacred meets secular. A refreshingly powerful way of reaching out to a world that needs to see authenticity and consistency from Christians.

One way Andrew meets people where they are is by inviting them to workout with him and do Strongman. I started doing this with him in the Fall of 2014 and have been hooked on Strongman ever since. I remember when I walked into the Colorado Pro Gym for the first time and saw Mike Burke, a World’s Strongest Man competitor, training on Log Press as he dwarfed everyone around him. It was a little insane how big this guy was as he stood at 6’ 6” and weighed about 350lbs at that time. It was this encounter with one of the strongest men on the planet that inspired me to try out this sport. It was the fact that Strongman is so challenging, both mentally and physically, that really drew me into this small niche of athletics.

Since then, I have trained on and off with Andrew and have done four Strongman competitions (i.e. Team Tom – May 2015, Iron Warrior Classic – December 2016, Team Tom – February 2017, Team Tom – February 2018). What this type of discipleship also taught me was seeing people in their element outside of the social construct of “Sunday-Only Christians.” What it looks like to be a Christian in the world, but not apart of it.

Watching as Andrew would stop everything to attend to the needs of his family or in-between sets asking how I’m doing in life. Meeting people where they are at versus having people meet you where you’re at. It’s a mode of discipleship that I’ve started to emulate as I now invite people I know to lift and minister to them all at once.

Through the years, Andrew taught me how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, yet physically strong as I equally impact eternity. Over the years, he has pushed me to think like Christ and to completely transform the way I see or think about my life. In fact, we still hang out, workout together from time-to-time, and even share a vision for a new church plant in Colorado. Thank you Andrew for being a mentor that made me a man. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. John 4:3-30
  2. Mark 2:14-17

Matriarchal Christianity Examined

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

In this blog-post, we’re going to examine the claims of Matriarchal Christianity and discover whether or not the Holy Spirit is a woman. What is Matriarchal Christianity exactly? It’s the idea that God as a triune being is comprised of three persons: the Father, the Mother, and the Son, with the Mother being the Holy Spirit.

Eisegesis vs. Exegesis

This philosophy is deeply rooted in a problem that relates to the context of Scripture. By context I mean to say the historical record, the culture, the time period the text was written, and the grammatical prose that reflects the author’s intent. In simpler terms, this question stems from a matter of eisegesis versus exegesis to study Scripture.

The practice of eisegesis is when one projects their own biases and ideas onto whatever text they are reading or studying. The practice of exegesis is when one finds the original meaning of a text they are reading or studying based on its original context. Eisegesis guides meaning from outside sources into the text (subjective interpretation), while exegesis guides meaning out of the text itself (objective interpretation). With this in mind, let’s quickly discover whether or not the Holy Spirit is a woman as we examine the claims of Matriarchal Christianity.

God Incarnate

In Scripture, there are certain verses and passages that reveal the nature of God, along with how He chose to reveal Himself in a way that we humans could comprehend. In fact, Jesus as a person within the Godhead has appeared and interacted with humanity in various physical forms (2). This is commonly known as a Christophany where Christ appears or manifests Himself on Earth.

But isn’t Jesus a man? Doesn’t the Bible clearly state that He is a man? Doesn’t that make Him a male? The Bible and extra-biblical sources do say that Jesus was physically born and became a man, but He was more than just a man. As God, Jesus adopted a physical body and was fully human when He lived on the Earth. Yet He never was less than God either. This is known as the Hypostatic Union where Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

Well, what about God in general? If Jesus has appeared and adopted the body of a man, doesn’t that mean the Father or the Holy Spirit can too? No because of the three persons within God’s triune nature, only the Son appears physically as a human in history. Jesus is the only member of the tri-unity of God who can be seen since He does take on a physical form in history (3), while the other two persons do not adopt a physical form.

Remember that God is not a physical being to begin with, so He does not have the physical characteristics that are typically associated with a man or a woman (i.e. anatomy, chromosomes, cognitive function, DNA, etc). In fact, God is beyond the bounds of His own Creation and is free of those specific characteristics that are distinct to both men and women. God is an uncaused being that is eternal, immaterial, non-contingent, non-physical, and personally caused the universe into existence.

God’s Pronouns

With that said, what we find in Scripture are numerous references to the Holy Spirit in the masculine sense. This can be seen in various places such as Isaiah 64:4, Romans 8:26, and 1 Corinthians 12:11, for instance. Yet, we also find allegory and prose that alludes to God being described in the feminine sense as well (4), so then what are the correct pronouns for God? Do we refer to God in the feminine or masculine sense?

Before answering this, we must reiterate some simple truths. First off, is God sovereign over all His Creation? Yes. Okay, did the Holy Spirit inspire the authors of the various books within the Bible to clearly and perfectly relay His message truthfully? Yes. Therefore, how God in His sovereignty allows Himself to be referred to in the Bible reflects what His preferred pronouns are and how we should refer to Him as God.

Next, do those passages referenced above about the Holy Spirit being described with feminine verbs indicate that He is in fact supposed to be referred to in the feminine sense? No because we see this sort of usage all throughout both the Bible and other texts where the gender is switched to express an idea better or just as an exception to the rule. Just because there are two verses that appear to be used in the feminine sense towards God, does not mean that God is to be referred to in the feminine sense.

Those exceptions to the rule do not supervene all of the other references to God in the masculine sense. They’re simply exceptions to the rule and that’s it. The vast majority of the Bible is geared to calling God a He and each person within the Trinity a He, so we should refer to Him in that way as Christians even if God is a gender-less being.

Even if God wanted us to attribute the feminine sense to Himself or any person within the Trinity, then He would have made the distinction clear. But Scripture overwhelmingly supports the masculine verbiage in reference to God. Since God has chosen to and prefers to be referred to in the masculine sense, then we should respect that decision. The Trinity consists of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It does not consist of the Father, the Son, and the Mother.

In order to properly understand the text in the Bible, we must allow context to dictate our conclusions and not our culture. In order to know who God is, we should hear and read how He is referred to in Scripture. Projecting our culture onto another culture’s original understanding of God is dishonest to say the least.

As believers in Christ, we should have a proper knowledge of God and understand who He reveals Himself to be and the manner He chooses to do so. Cultures and interpretations change, but context is timeless when we understand the text. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels
  2. https://www.gotquestions.org/theophany-Christophany.html
  3. John 1:18
  4. Judges 14:6 and other references to the Holy Spirit in the original Hebrew of the book of Judges use the feminine verb for “came upon” as we see it in modern English. Also, Matthew 23:37 is another example where those that support the view of Matriarchal Christianity reference as evidence of this idea. Although, this is simply an analogy of how Christ describes his heart for the Jewish people and how He longs to care for them like a mother hen. For more information on Matriarchal Christianity, you can read more here: http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume3/spirit.htm.

Mentors That Made Me A Man: Joel Wheelersburg

Updated: 5/27/2019

When I was in the 8th grade, I was really bored of the “tiptoe-deep” teaching that was present among most teachers that taught my age group and needed to move up to the high school youth group to keep growing spiritually. Because I was in 8th grade, but was held back and was the age of a freshman in high school, this caused a bit of a stir. For a week or two, my sister Rachel tried to convince the high school leaders to allow me to jump ahead to the high school youth group and show them that I was mature enough to attend that youth service for the high school students.

Eventually, Joel Wheelersburg, who was the high school senior youth pastor at the time said yes and the rest is history. I met Joel before I ever went to the youth group that he led. I actually met him on a bad note when I was sent by my Mom to go help him around the church as punishment for being disobedient at home.

Growing up, I didn’t usually get in that much trouble. This time it was serious and funny enough, I don’t even remember what I did! Regardless, I walked from my house to the church, which was a mile away, and met up with Joel to clean around the church during a summer weekday. I only knew him as my older brother’s pastor, but now in that moment I knew him as the mean pastor because he had me do all sorts of maintenance.

We started out by mopping all the concrete floors on all three levels, then doing the stairs on the way down, which led to us cleaning the bathrooms, scrubbing toilets and all, before ending with us sweeping the parking lot as we also picked up trash outside. After that day, I wasn’t necessarily his biggest fan when I walked back home. From there, I would a few months later attend the youth group he led and regularly go with my two older siblings.

At first glance, Joel looks like a punk rocker that accidentally walked into a lumberjack convention. With his flannel shirts, flat billed HE > i hats, Reformation-like beard, and sleeves of sound-doctrine tattoos, Joel has always looked like a bit of everything. But that was one of his trade marks because he could relate to almost anybody.

After a while, Joel asked if I would start serving in the youth group as the sound guy during worship before and after service. I reluctantly said yes and as I progressed through high school, I became more and more involved with the high school ministry. This involvement in the high school ministry would lead to a close-knit relationship we would have over the years that emulated that of family. Brothers in the LORD and friends in the faith.

This dynamic truly grew when Joel asked if he could personally disciple me and that led to several years of true discipleship. We went through a lot of books during that time frame. Besides reading, we also did a lot of community outreach together as I learned from his example. We would go door-to-door as we handed out flyers for upcoming events at our church, shared the Gospel at skate parks or concerts we went to with the high school ministry, regularly cleaned around the church together, and I tried my best to emulate his godly example as I grew in spiritually.

Joel would invite the high school students to his own house and we did community groups during the summer. It was here, in his own element, that I was always and still am impressed by how consistent he lives his life as a Christian. From what I could tell when I would shadow him was that whether we were with his family in his home or out at a homeless shelter serving in Denver, he always remained the same person. There was and is no facade to Joel as far as I know him. He genuinely was himself in every situation and that openness really stuck with me to be more authentic with everyone, everywhere I go. Authenticity is one of his greatest attributes.

Sometimes, this transparency showed the good and the bad of his character. I was there for his loving rebukes and his moments of defeat in ministry. Watching as he dealt with the ups and downs that are always present in youth ministry. If he was mad, he showed it and it was obvious. If he was happy, he showed it and it was obvious. Either way, he doesn’t pretend to be something he is not and that is a very underrated characteristic these days in a world full of fakes.

Joel will forever be a father in the faith that I can look up to and I think his other students would agree that he is a good guy all around. His passion for Christ and proper study of God’s Word is impeccable, so too is his love for sharing the Gospel with the whosoevers of society. As Christians, we have to have both book smarts and street smarts. Although, most of us have either one or the other. We either have the book smarts and know why we believe or we have the street smarts and show what we believe. Joel is one of the few believers that perfectly balances these two scales in Christian living. He has both an intellectual grasp of his faith and in the same respect lives out practically a Christ-led life.

Above all, Joel lives a Christ-centered life and his influence on my life cannot be understated. He taught me essential leadership skills, as well as how to serve God in all that I do. Whether it’s allowing me to teach a sermon or asking me to take out the trash because it needed to get done. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The leader leads and the boss drives” and Joel leads a life worth emulating. Thank you Joel for being a mentor that made me a man. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Mentors That Made Me A Man: Kevin King

Updated: 5/27/2019

In life, mentors get overlooked for all of the hard work that they do in our lives. So today I want to take the time to write about a constant mentor in my life that has now become a good friend of mine. This mentor is Kevin King and he loves coffee. But more than coffee, he loves Jesus.

When trying to remember when exactly Kevin and I met is hard to say, but I do know that it was about 2007 – 2008. Growing up, some of us called him “California Kevman” since he’s native to California and is considered the spiritual uncle to most of the kids that grew up at Calvary Chapel Aurora. If the youth group was planning an event, then chances were likely that the King family was going to be there.

A lot of those events were concerts. We went to a lot of them and saw dozens of musicians like The Whosoevers, Kutless, Fireflight, TFK, KJ-52, The Letter Black, Disciple, Lecrae, and a ton more through the years. Although we always went and saw Skillet if they were in town because that was the favorite growing up. In fact, for one Skillet concert we waited hours outside in below freezing temperatures just to see them live.

As I progressed in age Kevin would become not just my Dad’s friend, but my friend as well. He also loves movies, comic books, and always memes. Whenever the latest comic book movie would arrive in theaters, we would gather together and discuss every detail for hours on end. Kevin is also known around town as the most faithful Transformers fan you may ever meet in your life and also for his theological prowess that he learned mostly from being a self-taught student in apologetics. That in itself is an impressive feat for a guy who knows so much, yet is so humble when you encounter him.

It was his influential mentoring that led to my love for apologetics as he was the one who introduced me to William Lane Craig and later on to the Christian school of thought called Molinism, which I now have adopted fully into my systematic theology. Especially in my high school years, Kevin has been there when I have wrestled and been challenged with the toughest questions I have ever encountered in my faith with Christ. And he has done the same for all those kids that he has always been the spiritual uncle to as they matured into adulthood.

Through the years, some of our best memories were when we would gather around the dinner table at one of our friends or one of those students houses, and just talk about what was on our hearts. It could be funny, it could be uncomfortable, or even depressing, but nothing was really ever left unsaid. There was always an unmatched honesty in those late night conversations that I will always treasure. It was those late nights that gave me some of the most spiritual insight into the world around me and strengthened the relationships of those I loved like family.

As a widower for several years now, Kevin has had the opportunity to be there for those who are hurting most as he can relate in a very real way to their suffering. He has suffered through the years as a single father whose children, Alex and Cassie, I grew up with in my upbringing. In another respect, he also knows the reality of isolation as he is both an apologetics man and a single father. If anyone knows anything about apologetics, it’s that the apologist is in absolute surrender to the truth in their pursuit of God. In contrast, they are surrounded by lukewarm Christians who favor comfort over Christ. Kevin always seemed to choose Christ over comfort every time.

Kevin showed me how to bring Christianity back to the intellectual powerhouse that it once was in the days of Origen or Thomas Aquinas. Due to our passion for inconvenient truths, we stand isolated from the masses that just want to hear what feels good, instead of hearing what is the only good thing: God Himself.

Above all, Kevin has a vision to reach out to foreign countries and teach apologetics to pastors who are not educated enough to suit the needs of their local congregations. His zeal for the missions field is inspiring and uplifting to all who know him as a faithful brother in the Lord. He is huge on apologetic-evangelism, active service within the local church, and investing in the youth as we are the future of the church here on Earth.

I’m thankful for the impact he has had in my life both in helping course-correct me in personal devotion to God and instructing this theologian in the making on how to be a coherent, yet caring Christian apologist. As he has repeatedly said to me over the years, “I believe God has put me in a position to train up the next William Lane Craig and I believe that Adam Brill (a mutual friend of ours) and you could be that guy.” So whether Adam, myself, or the both of us become the future of apologetics down the road, then I hope that Kevin realizes the great influence he has had on those he has mentored in his life. Those he has pointed right back to God when they came to him for answers to their puzzling questions.

Kevin, like other notable godly men of the past, is a man of prayer and this makes him an absolute sin-slayer as he can rightly divide the truth from the lies that creep in from every side. The lies that may turn one away are the very lies that Kevin cuts down with the truth of the Gospel and the Bible with the methodology of a well-skilled apologist. It’s kind of awesome just watching God use him to draw the thinker to belief and the believer to think. All in all, Thank you Kevin for being a mentor that made me a man. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Isolated Together

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

Believe it or not, there once was a time when people had to talk in person. Face-to-face, breathing the same air, in the same space, and hold eye contact. Crazy right? It was a time where people did this crazy thing called personal communication. A blissful span of time where when one person wanted to interact socially with another person, they would actually interact with that person socially. But that all changed with one simple, yet immensely influential tool: social media.

It is the connective tissue of the 21st century. The webbing of the social spider that travels back and forth across the internet. In today’s world, it is not too hard to go about your day without being confronted by the ripple effects of social media. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Kikme, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube or the like, their presence is well known to almost everyone. Yet have we ever stepped back and asked “Just as there are good side effects to social media use, can there be bad ones as well?”

Unequivocally, the answer is yes. While social media has paved the way for great advancements in society such as the expansion of globalization, introducing us to the information age, a more-informed public, and instant communication. On the flip side, it has also brought with it negative side effects with short and long lasting impressions on modern mankind. For the sake of time, I will focus on three briefly in this blog-post: the physical effects, the sociological effects, and the spiritual effects. First let’s start with the physical effects.

The Physical Effects

If it was not apparent already, social media has over time altered human anatomy and the way we move about in life. This can be seen in how some people have severe curves in the vertebrae due to slouching over a computer desk (or a mobile device) when interacting online. This curvature is evident in their backs or necks, along with the rise in the general population being diagnosed with some form of nearsightedness. Various studies on this issue have concluded that “Between 1970 and 2000, myopia — nearsightedness — prevalence in the U.S. rose from 25 percent to nearly 42 percent among people ages 12 to 54” (2) and with the spike of online interaction via social media, the numbers have continued to climb.

Other common symptoms include, but are not limited to obesity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and even more serious addictions that are directly caused by the abuse of social media. These more serious addictions that stem from the gateway drug of the digital world range from substance abuse to an increase in anxiety related mental health issues in adolescents. This is due to such variables as the amount of information available online through hyper-networking, the brain seeking different stimulations to hit high dopamine levels, and the addictive nature of social media leading to misconstrued fantasies. Studies now show that Gen Z is one of the most depressed and least sexually active generations too, which can be indicative of the effects of social media. In the long run, social media is changing us physically.

The Sociological Effects

Allen and co. in the Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology 31 [(1):1-14 · July 2014] conducted an experiment exploring the effects of social media on adolescents (i.e. Gen Z) and concluded that

Mixed findings are reported regarding the role that social media plays in fostering social connectedness, which suggests that young people may experience both positive and negative psychological outcomes. As a result, this article argues that online tools create a paradox for social connectedness. On one hand, they elevate the ease in which individuals may form and create online groups and communities, but on the other, they can create a source of alienation and ostracism (3).”

This ostracised Gen Z has formed a socio-conscious isolated togetherness where they are together, but isolated in attention and activity. Similar to how people disengage on an airplane flight, they are all heading to the same destination with the same people for a specified duration of time, but are completely removed from social interaction whatsoever with their fellow neighbors. Why?

Hard to say, but being isolated together is something we all do in certain situations like riding the bus or waiting in line at the DMV, except now Gen Z does it to friends and family. Not total strangers, but those closest to them both in culture and community. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd that they would rather stare at blue lit phones, than enjoy the company of their loved ones? For Gen Z, we are setting the example that this is normal and they are following our lead.

Regardless, social media also plays off of this “us vs. them” mentality innate in all of us by giving us an outlet to feed our egos in moments of complete social isolation. We can pretend we are together with someone we know virtually, when in reality we are alone with strangers or even with no one around. Odd how instead of expanding our social circles when introduced to new personalities in our world, we keep our small circles squares and inevitably block ourselves into our own tiny bubble castles with those we would rather talk to, instead of talking to those people.

It’s amazing how Christians still wonder why evangelism is dead in the West. We chose to preach to the church, instead of the community. We would rather exchange cute quotes with those who believe what we believe, than share worldviews with those whose beliefs delineate from our own ideas regarding what is true. A pluralistic society like America can quickly become poisonous if the bridges that bring us together are burned down in the face of filtered tolerance.

The Spiritual Effects

This is the most important effect and I see it a lot. Less praying and more posting. Although social disconnectedness is bad, along with physical deterioration from electronic overuse, nothing is worse than spiritual separation. As we spend more and more of our time online, we spend less and less with God. We prefer tweeting, rather than serious study of God’s Word. We would rather check Instagram for hearts, then check our hearts for sin.

This spiritual separation is our ultimate devolution and is yet another blockade from connecting with our great God. With all of our attention on ourselves, we blur the line between who we are and who we say we are to the world. As we jump into the matrix of the digital world, we place our masks on and dance along with the masquerade of happiness that so many of us lie about. A lot of us pretend to be content and happy, yet our “good vibes” cannot rebuild this spiritual separation.

The only cure to this disconnect with God is to disconnect from social media and all other distractions that draw us away from God. We then are able to reconnect with God when we are at a distraction-less state and ready to commune with our Maker. For the sake of our spiritual channel of relation to God, we may need to cut down on our consumption of social media and our desire to connect digitally.

Conclusion

By this point, you may think I am some sort of Amish, “technology is Satanic” types of people that completely avoids anything modern. That could not be farther from the truth. In fact, I use social media all the time! It’s my job as a content creator and I use it frequently for ministry too. The only reason I would be against social media use is when it affects me or others physically, socially, and/or spiritually. If one or all of those factors are hindered, then it is time to unplug and fix those because your body, your social circles, and our God matter more than viral videos.

Is social media bad? No, not at all. Does it have both good and bad connotations when using it excessively on a daily basis? Yes, it does.

Like fitness, the pursuit of being physically healthy and in shape is not bad at all. Indeed, it is really good for you and has lots of benefits. But when someone decides to workout every single day for hours on end they hit a point where their conventional habit turns into an addiction with negative effects. As Dr. Holly Parker, a Harvard University psychologist and certified personal trainer, once said in an article for Fox News, “The benefits you want from working out—getting leaner, stronger, healthier—reverse when you don’t take breaks” (4). Put plainly, too much good can be bad. Use social media however and whenever you want, but take a break when needed.

In short, it really is a balancing act as you use social media to touch base with loved ones and meet new people, while in the same respect getting instant news and entertainment. With that, there has to be a point where you must decide when you have had enough for one day. Take a break and do something else. There is no need to be online 24/7.

It’s not healthy to stay wired all the time. For once, take a break for not only your own sake, but for the sake of others. Learn to understand the value of life and time by taking moments throughout your day-to-day routine to appreciate the simply astounding things no app could ever capture. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. http://www.thegazette.com/subject/life/health-social-media-affects-the-teens-tweens-physical-and-mental-health-20150226
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260289323_Social_Media_Use_and_Social_Connectedness_in_Adolescents_The_Positives_and_the_Potential_Pitfalls. See both this link http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/social-networks-and-health-communicable-but-not-infectious and this link http://www.med.upenn.edu/chbr/documents/AmyGonzales-PublicHealthandSocialMediaTalk.pdf for more information regarding the effects of social media on our sociological state of being.
  4. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/27/how-much-working-out-is-too-much.html

Three Trees

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

This is a tale of three trees.

One tree grants the beholder immortality,

While another gives knowledge of morality.

This tale begins in a garden.

At first there is only a human,

But he becomes accompanied by the mother of women.

As the two wander,

They begin to wonder,

And curiosity begets the female traveler.

For of the three trees, only one came with a warning.

The tree of life being one of the many meant for eating.

But the tree of good and evil symbolized mankind’s future erring,

With the underpinnings of sinning.

For the serpent of old has arrived,

Bringing with him his own pride,

That so happens to be why he died.

With the snake slithering past every leaf,

Is the ever encroaching presence of the prince of thieves.

As the cunning snake dangles downward,

The woman ever so slowly goes forward.

As the Devil invites her to taste and see,

She avoids her chance to run and flee.

With the slither of Satan’s lies,

Came Eve’s enraptured eyes.

As she aspires to be wise,

Her desires begin to rise.

The fruit is within Eve’s hand,

As she is one bite away from being damned.

With the very first bite,

Eve realizes that the Devil was right!

For when she ate of the fruit,

Eve soon discovered this strange compute.

From knowing only good,

The woman has only added fire to wood.

As the decay began that day,

Eve no longer had a say.

Her goodness had been tainted by sin,

And too would it be in all humans built-in.

Once sin took its foothold,

Eve did not want to stand alone in the cold.

So she gave to her man,

And suddenly took his unblemished lifespan.

Pretty soon the two were no longer good,

Yet if they could go back they would.

But it is too late now,

For man is now putting his hand to the plow.

For we are dust,

All because of lust.

To dust we shall return,

Before some will forever burn.

Although a few will get to waltz into a glorious new home,

Far more beautiful than the pinnacle of Rome.

This new home is for the Christian,

And with every fleeting moment there is a new addition,

Due to the adherence to the Great Commission.

For Adam gave life to sin in every human,

While Jesus gave His life for sin that we can be born again.

He did this so that we might be grafted into salvation,

In order to bring about the redemption of His Creation.

Since the day we brought forth this ruckus,

The Father has sought to bring about justice.

So the Father sent His Son Jesus,

To save us from the Fall in Genesis.

You see he died on the third tree,

A cross that changed history,

Jesus atoned for all on Calvary.

This all began because of a choice between two trees,

And the choice was left to Eve.

So when the snares of sin come swarming like bees,

Consider the consequences of your actions please.

Footnotes

  1. The Three Trees (1643) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Discipled and How to Stay That Way

Photo Cred: (1)| Updated: 5/27/2019

Discipleship. It is the process where the knowledge, skills, and teachings of a person or society are passed down onto the next generation, in order to preserve the ideals of a former time. It is the evolution of information from one generation to the next that bears great significance in almost every culture. From the śrāvaka system of followers in Buddhism to knighthood in the European Middle Ages where a child would work their way from Page to Squire to Knight (1), the passing on of discipleship has always been key.
Even in modern times, academics has become a sort of discipleship, although instead of strictly studying under only one mentor there is the luxury of accumulating mass amounts of information under many mentors within a short span of time. Yet there are other ways of discipleship, such as craftsmen with a specific skill set like a woodworker or a mechanic. Regardless, discipleship is a key to human development.
So then, what is discipleship in Christianity and why is it so crucial for Christians? In simple terms, a disciple is “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another (2).” In this case, that would be the doctrines of Church Tradition, which originate with the teachings of Jesus that were rooted in Judaism. Even then, Judaism was directly instructed by God to the Hebrew people who passed it on through each and every generation. Within a Christian context, there are 5 varying levels of discipleship: the 1, the 3, the 12, the 70, and the masses. Shown below is an example of this breakdown of those that Jesus discipled:

  • The 1: Peter
  • The 3: Peter, James the son of Zebedee, and John
  • The 12: Peter, James the son of Zebedee, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot
  • The 70: the appointed 70 (or 72) sent in 35 (or 36) pairs into the cities that Jesus would eventually go
  • The Masses: The crowds that would gather during specific moments of Jesus Christ’s 3-year ministry

If we were to use this template for one of my mentors, Andrew Morrison, it would look something like this for the men he mentored at one point:

  • The 1: Bailey
  • The 3: Bailey, Chris, and David
  • The 12: Bailey, Chris, David, Zachary, John, Jeremiah, Yomar, Daniel, Jaden, Samuel, Taylor, and Jeffrey
  • The 70: the youth group of students
  • The Masses: all the students that have ever interacted or met Andrew

So what is expected of a disciple? What does a disciple of Christ do and what did the disciples do when Jesus was still on Earth? In retrospect, the disciples were expected to do a lot from Jesus such as having authority over unclean spirits (3), instructed them to feed the 5,000 (4), commanded them to not rebuke those that cast out evil spirits in His name (5), and even giving up family to follow Him (6). These are just a few examples from the Gospel of Mark, but there are numerous other instances where Jesus expects His disciples through faith in Him to do the remarkable.
But what do we do once our mentors leave us and move onto the next calling God has drawn them towards in life? In actuality it is quite simple: do what your mentor did. Now I know that can be a vague answer, so allow me to breakdown what most mentors do by using the greatest example which is Jesus.
In the few years that Jesus had a ministry, He did some distinct things that every mentor does concerning discipleship. He chose His disciples (7), He lived life with His disciples (8), and taught them all that they needed to know before it was time for Him to leave (9). Put simply, the disciples of Christ and the disciple of any mentor is a) selected, b) schooled, c) and sent (10). This third and final point is when the discipleship cycle repeats itself. When Jesus left to go to Heaven, each of the twelve took on disciples to teach what they were taught to bring about the furtherance of the Gospel message. For instance, Peter discipled John-Mark, while John discipled both Prochorus and Polycarp.
Contrary to some, the twelve didn’t choose Jesus, rather Jesus chose His twelve disciples (11). After Jesus chose them, then they chose to answer the invitation and follow Him. Likewise, when your time comes to disciple another, you must choose them first as the disciple-maker. Then that person that you choose, whoever it may be, must decide whether or not to follow you as you follow Christ.
Regarding living life together, Jesus ate with his disciples, had the twelve report back to Him regarding their mission trips and outreaches (12), along with private sermons during their travels (13). It was this intimate exposure and schooling that led to the ultimate martyrdom of 10 disciples, the suicide of Judas Iscariot due to self-inflicted condemnation, and John’s death in exile on the island of Patmos. The effect that Jesus had on those who knew Him best was extraordinary.
This same effect will be present in the relationships that a mentor and a disciple have with each other. An unbreakable bond of friendship or sadly for some, an absolutely heartbreaking end for either the mentor or the disciple. The key to the heartbreak is forgiveness because for you mentors, your disciples will fail you and for you disciples, your mentors will fail you. Forgiveness and grace must always be present in these interactions of learning. Mentors choose wisely and disciples follow discerningly.
Now one more point must be addressed and that is this: the difference between parenting and mentoring. The two are usually smashed together, but I see them as separate roles that one can have in their lifetime. A parent, whether father or mother, has the role of equipping their children with how to live in life. They teach us how to dress, how to behave, how to talk, how to eat, how to maintain personal cleanliness, how to treat others, and other skills that we all need to know. All the necessities and essentials of life, in order to properly operate in our given society or culture. Basically, our ultimate well-being during our upbringing.
A mentor is someone that chooses you to learn a specific skill or share a certain message. They are the sports coaches, the school teachers, and the managers that we all have had in our lives. They teach us how to perform in our selective sport or how to be the best that we can be at our jobs that may become careers. They may teach us mathematics, science, history, or any other academic pursuit, but nevertheless teach us the specifics of said pursuit.
Parenting is a familial, whether biological or adoptive, inherited affair that has the sole purpose of teaching the generalities in life to your child(ren). Mentoring is a non-familial, chosen affair that has the sole purpose of teaching the specifics in life to your student(s). In other words, a parent may teach you how to change the oil in your car or how to change a tire, but a mentor teaches you every facet of what the car is and how to build one to its fullest potential. How to survive versus how to thrive.
Back to the topic at hand, how does one stay discipled? You stay disciplined in the ways of your mentor by living out what was taught to you by your mentor. In this case, follow them as they follow Christ. Do what they did. What did they do? They did their best to emulate what Jesus lived. He selected His disciples, He schooled them in all that they needed to know, and once they were done being schooled were consequently sent out to select new disciples in Jesus name.
Discipleship was and never is easy. It costs a lot. A lot more than you could ever imagine. The role of a mentor is costly because you have taken the responsibility to pour everything that you know to be true into this soul that may or may not take in what you have to say. Jesus referred to discipleship as a daily dying of self (14) and this is the best description of discipleship. Die to self to give life to another. The ultimate sacrifice for there is no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend (15).
Press on and stand strong. It may be time to leave your mentor to be a mentor, but do not be afraid because you follow Jesus. Don’t become distracted with the affairs of this life. Be attentive. Don’t attend a church. Be the church. Don’t be a church goer. Be a church constructor. Above all, be a fisher of men by being a disciple-maker. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. http://www.lordsandladies.org/steps-to-knighthood.htm
  2. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/disciple?s=t
  3. Mark 6:7-13
  4. Mark 6:33-44
  5. Mark 9:38-40
  6. Mark 10:28-31
  7. Mark 1:14-20, Mark 2:14
  8. Mark 2:15-17
  9. Mark 4:33-34
  10. My Dad created this three-word description of discipleship: selected, schooled, and sent out.
  11. John 15:16
  12. Mark 6:30
  13. Mark 8:14-21
  14. Luke 9:23
  15. John 15:13