The past 2 Mondays have been dedicated to recounting stories that helped me to get to where I am today. Truly, I am blessed to be a part of the Every Nation Ministries and Victory Christian Fellowship. Those things took place in my life because a church body obeyed their calling and mission to honor God and make disciples. It has been 30 years of doing so for them, and I am only one of those who are eternally grateful to be a fruit of the movement!
Last week we agreed to talk about the value of evangelism and shared stories of when and how and what has happened since someone reached out and broke the good news to us. I got pretty emotional remembering mine, as it was such a defining moment to the new life I lead today.
Nevertheless evangelism is not the end all, be all of faith. Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life is merely the beginning. It doesn’t follow that a prisoner who’s just been freed will automatically act like a free man. Habits are formed within those years of enslavement to sin, and so it isn’t all that quick to get it out of our systems and claim the new life God is telling us to live.
I remember, when I started my regular meetings with Miss Coney Reyes, I still didn’t quite know how to dress properly. But as she discussed more of God’s Word and how it calls us to a life or purity and holiness, as well as my value in the Lord, I began to change my wardrobe little by little. From short and skimpy, I began to dress more decently.
She educated me so much in the area of sensuality- she taught me why the word SEXY is not a great way to describe a woman’s body. It is because it actually means sexually attractive- as in attractive for intercourse. And I knew in my head that if any man were to feel this way about me, it should only be my husband. Since I wasn’t married then, I began to be more mindful about my body, my dressing, in relation to lust and men.
Tita Coney encouraged me further by saying, “Remember, there is a price on your head.” She was referring to the price that Jesus paid for me as he died on the cross and bought me from the wages of sin. This single statement helped me to value myself as the Lord values me, and kept me from falling into unwise career moves and even ungodly romance.
Tita Coney also taught me the value of love, patience, kindness, and prayer. She once asked me in those days if I was still smoking and because I couldn’t lie I had to answer with a shameful, “Yes.” After which she said, “Oh that’s alright. God is still working on your heart.” I’m telling you that kindness “killed me” on that day. I melted in the grace of God she dispensed and I became more soft towards God each time we met and prayed over my unhealthy habit. In due time I was able to stop smoking. I’ve been nicotine free for about 6 years now!
Then there was Tita Coney again about my words- when I once used the expression “What the heck?!?!”, she told me that heck actually originates from the word hell. And when she saw me speak to a group of scholars many years ago, she reminded me to encourage others using more of God’s Word. Her guidance in the areas of speech and communication was crucial to my understanding that really, the tongue can cause life and death (Proverbs 18:21).
I actually have so much more “Tita Coney” stories to tell, and even “Ate Jenn” stories (who is also my mentor), and mother-in-law stories, and even completely random elders in church who have tried to encourage, as well as correct me, in line with God’s Will and Word. But the point is this: DISCIPLESHIP is KEY to sustaining a lifetime of victory in the Lord. And this is why I think so.
1) DISCIPLESHIP is the place where the Word of God becomes practical and alive.
It is someone always pointing out to me what this and that in my life is here and there in God’s Word. And also, this is where I see more mature Christians model most of those seemingly abstract or indifferent verses in the Bible. Like I have seen families abide by the careful commands of God and get victoriously freed from generational curses. Such topics appear in Deuteronomy and really, apart from these role models, it can be too vague and appear too impractical to apply in our lives here and now.
2) DISCIPLESHIP builds faith and character.
My stories there above shows two things; encouragement and open rebuke. Honestly, many people refuse discipleship because they want to skip the correction part. I have to admit that I was kind of like that, too. Although I was obedient to Tita Coney, there were people in church, who were definitely more mature than, nevertheless not close to me, who would say a thing or two about what I am wearing, what I posted, etcetera, etcetera, and I just hated it. What I realized though is that this is what it means to belong to a spiritual family- others looking out for you, and you looking out for others, and in subjecting ourselves to it we build accountability, superb sense of self-governance, faith and character!
3) DISCIPLESHIP always puts me back into the right place of humility and susceptibility to God’s Will and Word.
Whether I am being discipled or I lead others to be disciples of Christ, it always is a good thing for my heart. Helps me to keep the pride off while keeping me on my toes when it comes to faith, knowing that I don’t know everything and learning more as I teach others along the way!
4) DISCIPLESHIP is a place of generosity and charity.
Almost everyone will get to a point in their lives where we want to give to the poor and while that is good and also highly encouraged by the church, I think we also have to open our eyes to the fact that discipleship is also a form of charity. In it we have to be generous with grace patience, kindness, time and even money! Spending time with the lost, or fellow Christians who are also works in progress together with you, will really cost us. And it helps me stretch my capacity and joy in practicing generosity!
5) DISCIPLESHIP is relationship = DISCIPLESHIP is so much fun!!!
Discipleship is not only about learning, teaching, encouraging, rebuking- it is basically sharing life with others! It is growing in the knowledge of God together. It means countless hours spent in making memories, meeting for good reports, calling for prayer, eating out, traveling together, celebrating milestones, and the list just goes on and on!!!
6) DISCIPLESHIP is a command of Jesus, Our God, and doing it means I truly obey the God I say I believe as sovereign and I say I love the most.
“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
The Great Commission
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Saying we love God, we love Jesus, is not enough. We have to be fed with His Word and love and then feed others, as well. And we are to do this to all nations, without stopping until the world knows and acts according to the truth that Jesus is Lord of all.