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Influence of American Culture | Cost of Discipleship

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 25, 2010 by Mark Hanson

After looking at several different facets of American Culture and its influence such as Individualism, Materialism/Consumerism, Freedom/Liberty, and Happiness we really need to take a step back and evaluate:

  • Does the cost of true Christ following Discipleship fit with the “American Culture?”

Next we’ll look at a few passages where Christ plainly describes the kind of character and attitude a person should have if they were to really be one of His followers:

Luke 9:23-25 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Christ draws out the point of denying self and raises the ultimate question: what does this world profit? 

Luke 9:57-10:2 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee wherever you go. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

This passage has often been preached out of its “discipleship” context which is the foundation for the missional conclusion. He emphasizes the lack of modern “comforts” not daily provision, but the lack of human comfort in the quest to follow. He then calls for the proclamation of His Gospel, His message. It must be a commitment of the whole person, its not a 50/50 deal. Relating this to semi-current American culture, people who took homesteads out West in the wilderness/territories often would never again see the family they left behind. Christ is looking for the same kind of commitment. One with many unknown dangers, discomforts, discouragements, and yet the the satisfaction of knowing that your whole person is invested 100% in the task before you with the potential for future gain.

Luke 14:25-35 25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is not fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

So here it is, are you willing to sacrifice everything that you are “comfortable” with to go through life following Christ? Have you really counted the cost? Some people didn’t have to give up much if all of their family has been saved, but many people have had their family and friends reject them for their commitment to Christ. So are there still things that might be holding you back from that kind of total commitment? Have you really sat down and counted the cost and put all you chips in to place your bet on Christ? Here in the end of this passage Christ asks the same question again: what profit is there in a thing that doesn’t accomplish is designed purpose. We are God’s salt, and we have a purpose. But are we trying to hold back part of our potential for our own gain? What does that profit?

  • So does American Culture promote or detract from Christ’s call to discipleship?
  • What are some ways we can be responding to and countering this influence?

In the end we need to be aware that our American culture is directly, antithetically opposed to Christ’s call of committed following. So choose wisely.

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Meditiation

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Tim Challies caught a quote from Stephen Altrogge on meditation. Stephen makes a great distinction:

“What exactly is meditation?

According to our culture, meditation is the relaxation of the mind to the point where little or no thought occurs. The goal of secular meditation is to empty the mind.

But according to scripture, meditation is the increased focus of the mind with much deep thought occurring.  The goal of godly meditation is to fill the mind with God’s truth.

To put it in a succinct definition, godly meditation is the practice of filling the mind with God’s word for the purpose of applying God’s word.”

What you hear…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2010 by Mark Hanson

  I ran across these quotes complied by Tim Challies and they were very challenging… especially with the messages I’ve heard in the past week. 

Richard Baxter:
Remember that all these…sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.

Thomas Watson:
You must give an account for every sermon you hear….The judge to whom we must give an account is God…how should we observe every word preached, remembering the account! Let all this make us shake off distraction and drowsiness in hearing, and have our ears chained to the word.

David Clarkson:
At the day of judgment, an account of every sermon will be required, and of every truth in each sermon….The books will be opened, all the sermons mentioned which you have heard, and a particular account required, why you imprisoned such a truth revealed, why you committed such a sin threatened, why neglected such duties enjoined….Oh what a fearful account! 

Revealing – Part I

Posted in theoflections, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by Mark Hanson

After my last post I decided to take a deeper look into each of the main points from my Love… as Christ does the church post. While this is more for my own personal challenge in being the husband God has called me to be, all of these elements should challenge us in our daily lives as we strive to reflect Christ as being evident in all of our relationships.

Revealing God

Christ’s statement: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known” in John 17:6, 26 denotes that Christ took upon Himself the responsibility of manifesting or revealing God’s very essence to His people the church.

1) Revealing God is seen in obedience.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:23-24, 31

2) Revealing God is seen in relationship.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples… he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 9:10, 12; 14:14

3) Revealing God is seen in sacrifice.

“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.– 1 John 4:9-11

Christ sacrificed via a human relationship by obeying God. As such He revealed more of God to us. May we strive to do the same in our relationships and marriages.