Dr. Christy Hill's Blog

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Counting the Cost of Non-Discipleship

                Discipleship is a term that many of us never hear outside of our Christian experience, so it might be helpful to understand it from a biblical perspective. The word for “disciple” is a learner who follows a master teacher.[1] In contrast to our current Western era, learning in Jesus’ time was very relational and holistic. “Discipleship meant much more than just the transfer of information . . . it referred to imitating the teacher’s life, inculcating his values, and reproducing his teachings.”[2] Therefore, discipleship connotes a relationship with a master teacher, following them, and adhering to their way of life because their teaching shapes your own worldview.

                Jesus’ expectation for his followers was clear:  to become more and more like Himself (Luke 6:40). “In the heart of a disciple there is a desire, and there is a decision or settled intent. The disciple of Christ desires above all else to be like him . . .”[3] He then told them how this would happen:  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV). The painful reality of crucifixion was being applied to how one should treat the false self, the flesh, or the former manner of life, which was powered by self-reliance. These extreme terms of the master/disciple relationship must have sent chills up their spine. There is no middle ground. Wilkins says: “In order to claim the salvation He offered, each person was faced with the choice to exchange the god of his or her life with Jesus as the true God of life.”[4] Becoming a disciple of Jesus required a calculated choice to follow Him in the midst of hard teachings (John 6:60-66). Thus we understand the costly nature of discipleship and the need to calculate whether we are willing to invest fully in this all-encompassing endeavor (Luke 14:28).

Redefining Blessing

Matthew 5:1-12 NAS95 1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This passage is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, because of the location of Jesus’ teaching venue. Jesus announced a total of nine blessings, each opening with “Blessed are.”

Fixing our thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle

Hebrews 3:1 says, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS, THE APOSTLE and high priest whom we confess" (NIV).

I have often heard of Jesus being our high priest, but thinking about Jesus being the apostle was a new concept. Maybe that is the case for you. Apostle means "sent out one." Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He called his disciples around him and sent them out, giving them the status of apostleship. Even Paul, called himself an apostle, as though he was born late, since Jesus appeared to him after the ascension (Acts 9, 1 Cor. 15:8).

But what does it mean that Jesus is the apostle and how can we fix our thoughts on this aspect of Jesus?

What Does it Mean to Pray in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:18:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (NIV).

As I read this, it dawned on me that I didn’t really know what “in the Spirit” really meant. The focus of this verse for me has always been on the phrase, “on all occasions” and not the phrase, “in the Spirit.” I asked the Lord to help me to understand this command in the Bible, so that I might live in light of His truth. Here are some of the thoughts that seem to resonate with Scripture.

The Challenges of Leadership

The unique role of a leader in the midst of an organization presents inherent dangers and risks. The responsibility that a leader has to guide and influence not only systems, but people, places one in a very vulnerable position. While most followers look at leaders as strong and invincible, an honest leader knows one’s own weaknesses and counts the cost of this calling. This essay will identify four critical issues that all leaders face, will develop these issues in light of a Christian ministry situation, and will integrate relevant leadership principles into the given setting.

The Role of Community in Spiritual Formation

Much of the emphasis in the spiritual formation movement focuses on personal disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, solitude and silence. While these are good activities to engage in, an overemphasis on individual activities may result in a devaluing of the role of community in spiritual growth. My experience of spiritual community was started in my biological family, developed in my youth group and refined through professors and church leaders who invested in me. While I intuitively knew that I needed relationships for spiritual growth, it was not until I took a class called Friendship and Community: Context for Spiritual Growth that I started to understand why relationships are so important. God created all humans in His relational image. Our interdependent nature is something we cannot avoid.

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