Baking Up A Batch of...Disciples
I like cookies. I don't eat them as much as I want to, because I was told that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I hope the person who told me that wasn't lying about cookies.
My favorite cookie is one that I've come to know as the "Preacher" cookie. It's those chocolate drop / no bake cookies that you put oats, peanut butter, sugar (or sugar alternative), vanilla, butter, and milk in a pot, stir it up, then drop the little balls of yumminess onto some wax paper. Once they cool (or when they're still warm with a glass of milk) you have a delicious "Preacher" cookie.
Why are they called "Preacher" cookies? They were my dad's favorite, and he's a preacher. So...
I remember the day I learned how to make "Preacher" cookies from my mom. She showed me the recipe card, showed me how to measure things, and how to not burn my hand on the pot. It was a lot of fun. As I got older, me and my siblings would make them together. And now, as a dad, I (and my wife) like to help show my kids how to make those delicious little balls of sweetness.
The fun thing is that now my 9 year old daughter, Jovie, can make them on her own. Pretty soon she and her siblings will be making them together, and then eventually, if we've done our due diligence as parents correctly, she will teach my grandkids how to make them some day.
And the circle of "Preacher" cookies goes on, and on, and on, and on!
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Every good recipe has a process that you have to follow. You can just mix random things together (even if they are all on the list of ingredients) and then magically get the result you want. You have to follow the process. You have to mix the ingredients in the right order, heat or cool it at the right time, cook it for the right amount of time, and so on.
Just like a recipe has a process, there is a process for your walk with God. You have the ingredients (God's Word, faith, prayer, hope, love, a relationship with God), and now you need to follow the process mix all of those ingredients in the right way to help create something wonderful.
What if you and I were doing the same with the truths in God's Word, that I did with learning how to make cookies? What if we took the same steps in our faith journey that we do with any other skill we hope to some day pass on to others? What would that look like?
STEP 1 - LEARN
Each of us is on a spiritual journey. And all along the way, you have to be open to learning new things about God's Word and his purpose for you. Many believers settle for just going to church once a week. They go, sit, and leave. I believe learning is a bit more involved than that.
I have to really work at learning, cause it's not my favorite pass time. I want to get directly to DO. But before you can do something well, you have to learn. And having a teacher or a mentor, someone who's been there and done that, by your side guiding you and helping you course-correct when needed, is priceless.
Let me put it another way. You need a "Paul" in your life. Timothy, the one Paul wrote the letters too, learned how to live for God from Paul. Paul guided him, rebuked him, encouraged him, and showed him to follow God. And you need some one that you can ask questions and get advice from. You need a teacher. You need someone to show you how to live for God and cheer you on along the way.
WHO IS YOUR PAUL? Is it your pastor? Or maybe your parent? Is it an older believer in your church? Or maybe someone younger who has some more Bible knowledge? Identify who that person is and keep going back. The process of learning is never over. So make it a priority to keep a "Paul" close by for when you need someone to help guide you in a big decision, or pray for you when life struggles become overwhelming.
Learning is not the only step The second one is DO.
STEP 2 - DO
Life is hard enough without trying to get through on our own. Even Paul, as strong a follower of God as he was, still valued friends and companions along his journeys. Barnabas was one such person.
Barnabas was known as the Son of Encouragement. And did his job well. He was one of the first people to welcome Paul (then, Saul) into the fellowship and stand up for him. He traveled with Paul. Served and suffered alongside him, and started churches with Paul. He was there during the good and the bad.
You need a "Barnabas" in your life. Someone who you do life with. A person who will do Galatians 6 with you and help you "carry each other's burdens." This is a person who has permission to call you out when you're in the wrong. It's someone who cries with you when life it tough and celebrates milestones with you. They know you strengths and weaknesses and still love you. And better yet, they will stick with you no matter what.
WHO IS YOUR BARNABAS? Is it your spouse or a sibling? It is an old high school friend? Or maybe it's a buddy from work or someone from your small group. Whoever it is, be intentional with them. Do more than just talk about the latest news and politics. Do more than complain about your life and what you don't like about it (although a little complaining is expected). Make time to read God's Word together. Make sure this person is able to help you see past the circumstances to see what God is doing.
We're almost done. There's one more step.
STEP 3 - TEACH
Jesus was very specific with what he wanted his disciples to do when he left them on top of the mountain that day. He didn't mince words or speak in coded language. He said very simply,
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, emphasis added)
He gave them a job to do. Make Disciples. And that job doesn't just happen. It takes some effort and intentional thought. Think about all the people that helped Timothy along the way. His mother, his grandmother, and Paul all had a huge influence on his life and ministry. Someone took the time to invest, teach, correct, guide, and cheer him on towards a life lived for Christ.
You need a Timothy in your life. This is someone you intentionally invest in. Someone you want to show the ropes to. Guide them in how to handle victory with humility, and defeat with courage. Teach them how to look to God's Word as the foundation for everything they hear, see, think, and believe. Show them how to be a good manager of the gifts and talents God has given to them. Model for them what you had (or wish you had) modeled for you.
WHO IS YOUR TIMOTHY? Is this a child or grandchild? Don't look at that role flippantly. If you don't teach them, someone else will. Maybe your Timothy is a young married couple about to have their first kid. Or a neighbor who is lonely and in need of friendship. It could be a younger sibling, or a friend from school. Maybe that other mom in your small group who admits she doesn't understand a lot of the Bible yet. Or that other dad in the church who says he wishes he could read the Bible and actually get something out of it.
1, 2, 3 - VOILÀ
Three easy steps. Steps that, unfortunately, won't help you make a batch of delicious "Preacher" cookies. However, you will end up making something even better.
You will be making disciples.
This is our highest calling as followers of Jesus. And it's not just for the "experts" in full-time ministry. It's for every follower of Jesus Christ. You. Your spouse. Your kids. Your friends in church and small group. Everyone who claims to have faith in Jesus is assigned this task:
TO LEARN. TO DO. TO TEACH.
So start looking. Look for your Paul. Look for your Barnabas. And look for your Timothy. And when you find them, dive in and make some amazing disciples...together.
God, I want to do your will. Jesus told me what my job is and I want to do it well. Thank you for filling my life with people who will teach, encourage, and help me grow in my walk with you. Help me to pass on the things I learn to others, so that they can follow you too. I ask these things in Jesus' name, amen!
Who has influenced you the most in your relationship with Christ? Why? What did they do that you can do for someone else?