Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

If you are a Christian parent then you have a responsibility to “. . . bring your children up in the fear and admonition of God,” (Eph. 6:4).  With school, baseball practice, piano recitals, and a hundred other things that fill our weekly calendars, the thought of discipling our own children might seem like just one more thing on our never-ending list to get done.  After all, you take your children to Sunday school, right?  Isn’t that hour a week enough to train them in the things of God?  Taking your children to church is a wonderful thing.  It is absolutely part of the process of discipleship.  However, God is actually going to hold you as parents responsible for training your children in righteousness as well, and not just the church.  This may sound like a daunting task as a parent.  I have heard people say, “Where do I even start?  I don’t know a lot about the Bible myself.”  Rest assured, if this is you then you are not alone.  This is a common position for many parents that I have dealt with over the years, but I would like to give you a helpful tool that can aid you in this wonderful process.

One of the ways parents have taught their children about scripture throughout church history is by a process known as catechizing.  Don’t let this word scare you if you don’t know what it means.  It is simply a method of memorization.  It is a form of question and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.  The church has produced many of these different catechisms throughout the years.  We find this way of teaching all through scripture (Exodus 13:8-9, Deuteronomy 4:9).  It is especially good for young child to learn, since they have such a great mental capacity at this age.  It is amazing to see how quickly my 4 and 5 year old children memorize these great truths of God; often before I even have them down.  They may not have the full understanding of what the answers mean, but we are trusting that in time the Lord awakens them to these great realities.

Below, I have attached a link to what I believe is a great catechism for you and your family to get started with.  It was written for young children, but as a parent, it even helps me to have very precise answers without having to memorize entire paragraphs to explain what I believe.  My encouragement for you is to print off 10 of these questions at a time.  Decide, as a family, to memorize one a week.  It is easy while at breakfast or dinner to go over the questions.  Build upon them each week.  Ask the old questions, as you are leaning a new one.  If you do this, within a year’s time, you and you children can know more than 50 great doctrines of the Bible.  It will take less than 5 minutes a day to do, but the wealth of knowing these truths is invaluable.  If we can teach our children to hit a ball, or set a table, we can certainly teach them (and ourselves simultaneously) great truths of God in bite-sized and digestible chunks.

I hope you will consider using this resource with your children in the coming weeks.  You may be surprised how much they can learn in a short amount of time.  There are many wonderful catechisms out there, but I believe this is the best one to get started with.  God bless!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

A CATECHISM FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Before you reach for a pen, or steady your fingers to type a response to the suggestive title, I need you to know that it is not what you think.  I am completely against the idea of murder.  I do not worship Molech, nor do I support any idea of sacrificing people and or animals to appease a god.  It is a horrible and sinful thing when people do this type of occultic worship. However, I am talking about a spiritual human sacrifice of sorts.  We find this concept in Matthew’s gospel.  He writes,

 “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” – Matthew 16:24-26  

To be a true follower of Christ, we must first die to ourselves.  This is why I not only support, but constantly try to live, this human sacrificing lifestyle.  How do we do this?  How do you live a life as a follower of Christ in light of these radical commands?  These verses describe three ways we must die to self; I would like to briefly unpack them in hopes that you too will choose to live a life of continual self-sacrifice.

Deny Yourself:

To deny yourself means to put your desires second to God’s.  We are all selfish by nature.  We want what we want.  However, what we want is not always what God wants.  Before Christ, we wanted to be our own god in a way.  We wanted complete control of our lives.  But, to follow Jesus, we must first deny our sinful desires through faith and repentance by relying on His grace for our salvation.  It is no different once we are saved.  We must still deny our fleshly desires if they do not line up with God’s.  This is a daily task.  We must die to ourselves.  We must deny our flesh, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus.  The glorious thing about this is, eventually it gets easier.  When we deny ourselves, we start to take delight in the Lord as the Psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  To deny yourself is to commit human sacrifice (the sacrifice of your oneself),  which is a requirement of the Lord.

Take up Your Cross:

The cross was a gruesome instrument of death.  Jesus was telling His disciples that if they were to follow Him that meant they had to surrender their lives to live obediently to Him.  It would identify them with Jesus . . . even unto death, to which 10 of the 11 true disciples would eventually succumb, through martyrdom.  This is evidence that they fully surrendered to Jesus.  The same type of surrender is required of Christians today.  We should expect persecution.  We should be willing to bear it, knowing that He is with us though it all and that He can sympathize with us.  Taking up your cross says that you have a life-or-death devotion to Christ.  I will live for Him with eternity in view.  I will die for Him for the glory of the King.  To take up your cross is to sentence yourself to death, but in doing so it identifies you with the One who overcame death in our place.

Follow Him:

Following Jesus is not just saying a prayer, going to church, and giving financially to a church or other Christian organization.  This type of Christianity would have been a foreign concept to first century Christians.  Jesus said for a person to count the cost before following Him.  To follow Him means to follow His teachings, and His example.  It means swapping your sin for His perfect righteousness.  Once His deposit has been made into your account, you are no longer your own.  You have been bought with a price.  You were once a slave to sin, but now have been made a slave to righteousness.  To follow Jesus means that you have submitted to His Lordship and live as a citizen of the Kingdom, but also as an heir to the throne. He said that following Him would cost you something.  In essence, it cost you everything.  So, to follow Him is spiritual human sacrifice.  You must die so that you can be raised up to walk in the newness of life in Him.

“Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” “Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  “Deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  This is the cycle of the daily life of a Christian.  This is the sequence of a disciple of Jesus.  If we want to follow the Lord, we must first die to ourselves.  This is why I believe in human sacrifice, and as a Christian you should too.   If you have never experienced this type of life, then I hope you die today . . . so that you can truly live in the grace that abides only in Christ, who died in the place of all who would ever call upon His name.  Human sacrifice is not only desired by God, but is necessary to know Him.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Recently I was watching one of those home buying shows with my wife.  We enjoy sitting at night and watching a show like that on Netflix to just wind down from the day.  In several episodes of late I have noticed a trend; many young families looking to buy a new home do not see a need for having a formal dining room.  Not that there is anything special about a formal dining room.  We in America like our houses big in comparison to most homes in the world.  I am not advocating the need for a big home, but rather, seeing this pattern made me think about what a dining room symbolizes.  To me, it symbolizes family.  I can count on one hand how many times my family growing up ate around the dining room table.  We would sometimes eat together, but it was always on TV trays in front of some show.  I remember once I was grown thinking that if the Lord allowed me to have a family, I wanted to make it a regular routine to eat as a family around the dinner table.  It seems that for many, the family table has gone the way of the dinosaurs.  I believe there is still great value in having a family table and using it often.  Here are a few reasons why I believe we should still be eating our meals around the table.

It is a place of teaching:

            There are many valuable lessons that can be taught at the family table.  The children learn to allow adults to have conversation without them having to be the center of attention.  The children learn to interact with adults in a proper way.  It allows the children to see how grownups interact with each other.  It also allows the children to learn to sit still . . . which is not always an easy lesson with three boys under the age of five in the Burrell home.  Finally, it is a good place for the children to learn how to pray.  We pray before each meal, and the child often get a turn in repeating after my wife or me when we pray.  It is a great place for teaching.

It is a place to show appreciation: 

Growing up, I remember my little family often going to four different rooms of the house to eat.  We would just grab our food and go our own ways, never really giving thought to the time and effort my mother put into cooking the meal.  One tradition we have in our home is that we try to show the cook our appreciations by giving them “Harrumphs” (saying harrumph and softly hitting the table at the same time) to show our appreciation for the good food.  This is not always the most elegant thing, but we want the cook (most often my wife) to know that we are grateful she has taken the time to prepare such a wonderful meal for the family.  We want the cook to know that their work is appreciated.

It is a place that shows time with family has value:

            We live in a very busy world.  Most parents get less than 15 minutes of meaningful conversation each week with their children.  The family is pulled in a million different directions.  My wife and I decided before we ever wed that we wanted to put a high priority on family life.  We are selfish, and fail at it often, but we believe that having our meals together each day should be a priority.  We believe that family time is valuable.  We believe that it should be fought for, because so often it is fought against.  We are blessed to be able to have 2 or 3 half hour meals together each day (my job affords that luxury).  This helps us to keep our family as a priority but it also shows our children that time with them matters. Time with the family is valuable.

It is a place for family worship:

            There are many places a family can choose to do their devotion together.  There is no one place better than another, but for us it works out to do it at the dinner table.  We often do it either after breakfast, or after our dinner.  The most important thing is that you do.  The dining room table works well for us.  It allows the little ones to have a place to put their hands.  It provides the older ones with fewer distractions (no toys or electronics at the table).  It allows us to just focus on the Lord and enjoy time with Him and each other while worshiping Him.  The dinner table is, for us, a place of worship.

We love the family table.  We laugh there.  We cry there.  We pray there.  We sing there.  We learn there.  We play games there.  We make messes there.  We do a lot there.  It is a wonderful place that I think way too many people are missing out on.  It is after all just a table, but what it represents for my family is so much more.  Where do you eat as a family?  Where do you worship as a family?  I encourage you to think about gathering your family around the dinner table, if you do not already, and just see what kind of memories you can make there.  I hope you don’t let your family table go the ways of the dinosaurs.  I hope you make memories, and not fossils of that old piece of wood.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell.

Do you have a plan?  By plan I mean a plan for yourself and/or your family to live a godly life that leads to discipleship.  We set goals and make plans all the time for  different things in our lives.  Maybe it is a plan to lose 10 pounds before you go to the  beach.  Your plan of action: diet and exercise like crazy to achieve that beach body you  want for vacation.  Maybe it is to get a job working as a school teacher.  You pick your  college, attend school faithfully and study until your head explodes to graduate in 4  years and pray the Lord gives you a job.  We all make plans for different things.  If we  make no plan to achieve a certain goal, there is a good chance that we will never get  there.  The question is, do you have a plan (vision) for living out God’s word (the Law) for yourself and/or your family?

A few years ago I had a professor pass out what he called “The Stinson Family Plan.”  This was a plan that he and his wife made each year that would serve as a guide for their family to fulfill God’s plan for them as they strove to honor God and live their life in obedience to Him.  He passed it out to each of us students to look at and challenged us to use it as a guide for our individual situations.  After my wife and I looked at it we were very eager to make one for ourselves.  We took it and tailored it to our family needs, and it has been a useful guide for us.  Whether you are single, newly married, parents with kids in the home, or empty-nesters, I believe having a plan to act as guardrails for you is a great tool to have in gauging your effectiveness in the Kingdom.  Below is a sample of what it looks like for my family.  I will say, there are times that we fail in the areas we have listed, but in having this as a guide, it allows us to check ourselves and see how we are doing and what we need to do a better job at.   I encourage you to take it as a template and apply it to your home and your own discipleship strategy for a year and see how it does for you.  There are four areas addressed: our relationship to God, our family, our church, and our neighbor.  If you find more areas, feel free to add them, or take some away if they do not apply in your current context.  My wife and I revisit ours annually to see how well we are doing and to adjust it as life changes.  I would encourage you to do the same as need be.  This family plan is just one option for doing that.  The important thing is to have a plan.

If you click here you can find an example of the ” Burrell Family Plan.”

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Have you ever been around someone who is perpetually late?  I am not talking about someone who runs late every once in a while, but someone who you can depend on to be late almost every time there is a time set for something to happen.  I admit that it is a pet peeve of mine when people are always late, but I believe it is so because of my Christian convictions.  I see being on time as a godly characteristic.  If we are to “be holy as I am holy” and be “conformed into the image of Jesus,” I think we would do well to be conscience of our timeliness.  There are a variety of reasons why I see this to be true, but I want to give you three to think about today.

God is the God of Truth

            Jesus made many statements about truth.  In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  In John 8:32 He said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  On the flip side, the adversary of Christ and every Christian is Satan.  Satan is called a “liar” and the “father of lies” (John 8:44).  This shows us that he who is not a truth-teller is acting unholy.  A passage that my father repeated to me as a child was James 5:12.  James writes: “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”  Being on time is a matter of truth and of keeping one’s word.  As the Bible teaches compressively, the Lord is the Lord of all truth.  The Lord is the Lord of honesty.  If we are being conformed to His image, then our word about timeliness matters.  It matters to God, and thus should matter to you.

God is the God of Time

             Time, and timing, matters to God.  Jesus repeatedly said in His ministry “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4, John 4:23, John 5:28, John 7:6).  Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, “In the fullness of time He came.”  Even when Mary and Martha thought Jesus was late because of their brother’s death, He was still on time (John 11).  God is a God or precision.  He is sovereign and providential and has all things planned to the exact second.  R.C. Sproul says, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.”  Because God is sovereign, He is always on time, even if we don’t see it that way.  If God is always on time, we too should strive for this.         

God is the God of Love

            Ultimately, the reason I see timeliness as a characteristic of God is because of His selfless love.  While the first and primary reason Christ died was out of obedience in fulfilling His Father’s will, closely tied to it was His sacrifice for His people.  When we are continually late it communicates to others that your time is more important than theirs.  It says that you are more important than others.  Paul writes in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  Since Jesus loved us so much, He put our desperate eternal need above His temporary agonizing pain.  In this sense (although we need to be careful taking this thought too far), He put our needs above His own desires.  This is what we do when we make sure that we are on time.  We put others before ourselves.  There is no mistaking that this type of living is a godly quality.

If you struggle to always be on time then I hope that you consider these things in light of your relationship with God.  God is truth, so we need to always be truthful.  God is timely in all that He does . . . as should we be.  God is love.  Being on time is a way of showing our love toward another.  So, if you need to get out of bed 15 minutes early to make sure that you are prompt in your arrival time to work or church, change your alarm clock.  If stopping at the drive-thru is going to make you late for your meeting, consider which is worth more: that cup of coffee, or keeping your word.  Take the words of Solomon in Proverbs 22:1 to heart: “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth . . .”  If you are habitually late, it is affecting your name, and your name is tied to the Lord.  Live up to it.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell