Teaching TRUST through Deer Hunting, and Discipleship

For all you deer hunters out there, we are currently in the middle of shotgun season here in Northeast Indiana. Though I have owned a shotgun for over a decade, this past week was my first time actually ever going out hunting. Admittedly, I didn’t kill anything, but I did see 12 does and a buck. Pretty good for my first opening day!

As I talked with the other, more experienced hunters at our deer camp, I quickly realized I was way out of my league. These men and women had generations of deer hunting, muzzle loading, and blood tracking, running through their veins. I on the other hand, didn’t even have on any camouflage. Still yet, I was greener than the leaves in the tree stand I was supposed to sit in.

Needless to say, I had to trust these much more experienced hunters, quite literally with my life. They schooled me in using the firing safety, wearing orange, and how to approach a dying stag correctly.

As we conversed, I could tell I was trying to compensate for my lack of real life hunting experience with the fact that I had owned a shotgun for a long time. I had even mentioned how I won many shooting contest when I was younger at differing firing ranges. But as the saying goes, these hunters didn’t just talk the talk, they actually walked the walk, and they could see right through to my naiveté.

It’s one thing to own a gun, take it out for a cleaning on occasion, and set it back nicely on its stand. But it is an entirely different story to actually wake up at 4:00 am and make the trek out in 30 degree weather to watch the sun come up and fire away at Bambi.

I was eerily reminded how many people treat their bibles like I had my shotgun. Sure it looks good on display, but what’s the point of having one if you never use it? The Scriptures are living and our bibles are not meant to collect dust.
As if this wasn’t a shocking parallel enough, I thought of all the passive Christians I know. As believers in faith, we have the Spirit of God, The Creator of the Cosmos living in us. We aren’t mean to sit like bumps on a log and allow our spiritually to collect dust. No, instead we are meant to make disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20).  Christianity is a movement!

Another translation for the Greek, “make disciples” is to school, instruct, or apprentice someone. That’s what Jesus did with the twelve and then he commissioned them out into the world to do the same “until the end of age.”

Those hunters at deer camp had to school me in the basics of hunting 101. They taught me not just with showing and telling, but also by doing and being with me. The same applies to us in the Church when we are making disciples of all nations.

One of the key elements to any relationship, but especially with those in discipleship, is establishing trust between the mentor and apprentice. To help articulate what trust means, I have developed this acronym to explain the various elements that need to be present in both parties.

T = truthful

R = reliable

U = unselfish

S = servant oriented

T = time committed

Discipleship and spiritual formation are a continual process of lifelong learning, done best in relationship. The Church or community of faith should be the foundation for creating and growing a culture of trust in discipleship making.

Again, even though I didn’t tag a deer that weekend, the experience and exposure to hunting has been a step in the right direction for me becoming a hunter. It’s a process that requires trusting relationships, just like discipleship. As the influential missiologist, Donald McGavran used to say, making disciples is to “enroll in [Jesus’] school.” Students learn together from a teacher. And we have the greatest Teacher in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Biteszie Biography About a Man of Giant Faith

Francis Schaeffer was by far one of the most influential Christian minds and ministers of the Twentieth Century. He was also an incredible writer. I own and have read many of his works so when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review this new “bitesize biography” with Cross Focused Reviews, I had to jump on it. Thankful to be able to receive, read, and review, a new biography about this giant man of faith was a pleasure. I must also say, that 141 pages, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of material and years covered in this short book.

The author, Mostyn Roberts, is a systematic theology professor in London, opens the book with a preface explaining his first encounter with Schaeffer’s work and how five months later he became a Christian at University. I too began reading Schaeffer’s work while in college and resonated greatly with his constant, and prophetic, critiques of culture. During the later years in his life, Schaeffer was very outspoken and created several videos that were anti-abortion. Sadly, Schaeffer’s prophetic voice against abortion is still needed in today.

Helpful tools included in this biography, are a chronological timeline highlighting several critical points in Schaeffer’s life and sources listed for further reading. I particularly appreciated the concluding chapter on Francis Schaeffer’s legacy as well as chapters 8 and 9 in dealing with L’Abri.

Overall, this is a great introduction to a genius mind, and a true servant of the Lord. Schaeffer’s intellect was equally matched by his compassion for the world. I am glad this new biography has been written to introduce the next generation of “college students in gap year” looking to Escape from Reason in the writings of Francis Schaeffer. 

How Anger, Attitude, and Accusations Can Create an Accidental Pharisee

Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne

Larry Osborne’s new book, “Accidental Pharisees” is definitely one to challenge overzealous Christians and especially the celebrity consumed pastor. Endorsed by a wide variety of well-known church leaders, and with a subtitle addressing pride, I knew this book would be a must have for a reminder and conviction that despite the ministers’ competence, it is always God who is in control of His church.

Larry has been a wise and influential voice in the Church for some time now. As a forward thinking leader, he has shaped the ministry philosophy of many leaders in my generation with his recent books “Sticky Teams” and “Sticky Church”. In this new book, Larry tackles many of the internal issues church leaders face. Coincidently enough, (due to the sin of humanity) many of these character flaw issues are the same that Jesus called out and corrected in the religious elite of his day, known as Pharisees. But as Larry explained, during the first Century time of Christ, being a Pharisee was a high honor. It meant you were a learned man of God.

As someone who has been to seminary, it is a daily task of reminding myself the knowledge I’ve been blessed with is not due so much to my academic prowess, but instead a combination of God’s grace in revealing His Truth to me and my receptivity of being entrusted with teaching and wisdom gifts. This knowledge of Truth should always be used for building up the Body, not one’s one ego.

Larry presents several very challenging chapters. Some of the most gut checking include: “ Overcoming Pride: The Proper Use of Scripture and Proper Understanding of Obedience”, “The New Legalism: The Danger of Litmus Test Christianity”, and “Are Your Study Notes in Red? Why the Quest for Theological Uniformity Undercuts the Bible”. Also, the entire section of Part 5: Idolizing the Past: When Idealism Distorts Reality”, should be carefully read and discerned by many who feel they are responsible for “separating the weeds form the wheat”.

Accidental Pharisees is a much needed book in a time when the Church in the West is in transition. More and more people who are discontent with how they see ministry being done in the church should check their anger, accusations, and attitudes with the way Jesus responded to the Pharisees of his day. Biblically grounded and stern with warning, Larry Osborne’s new book is a must read for Christian leaders.

I did get a copy of Accidental Pharisees for free through the Cross Focused Reviews blogging program, but in no way was required to write a favorable review.