Category Archives: Discipleship

Discipleship – enter . by Grace; remain by effort

Hebrews 1 verifies Jesus Christ as God’s Singular historical personality.  In him alone God sent his full and final revelation.  As God in the flesh, Jesus surpasses all Old Testament servants, including fabled Moses.  Then, beginning with chapter 2, the writer begins a series of warnings that Christians must guard by effort their personal discipleship in God’s Kingdom.

For example, in 2:1 we “must pay more careful attention” to God’s word so we don’t drift away from him.  For if we don’t “pay attention,” we will drift away.  Note:  attention, effort, perseverance.

In 3:1 we’re told to “fix our attention on Jesus….” so we can understand him as the SOLE depository of God’s truth.  SOLE—no competitors, not even Moses, the only one before him who could have been.  SOLE—none since, and so irrelevant in comparison they need never be named.  Note:  fix, effort, attention, perseverance.

In 4:1 “….let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it”—the Rest God promised through Moses in Canaan, but actualized through Jesus in Eternity.  Any unbelief…any…jeopardizes our eternal life.  Note:  careful, attention, effort, perseverance.

In 4:11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that Rest….” Heaven itself, where God resides, rules and reigns.  Because it’s always possible for us to lose our place by unbelief, inactivity, fruitlessness.  Note:  make every effort, persevere.

In 6:1 “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings of Christ….”  Because maturity in discipleship, not entrance into discipleship, is God’s goal for us.  If we don’t make an effort to grow in Christ, we’ll always be in spiritual kindergarten.  While God demands we mature into Post-Graduate Christians in faith and service.  Note:  effort, leave, study, perseverance.

These caveats come in only the first six chapters, with more throughout the book.  None of these warnings can bring comfort to Calvinists, who think they can’t be lost.  Nor can they comfort Christians who know they can be, but approach discipleship casually, carelessly, passively, dispassionately.  As if it doesn’t really matter.  As if nothing essential is at stake.  We can be lost both through false belief and false behavior.

Yours for a discipleship that thanks God for his FREE GIFT of Salvation, then “makes every effort” to mature in discipleship.

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

New books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

     Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

     Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discipleship – never, really

Actor Hal Holbrook noted the difference between looking like Mark Twain and thinking like Mark Twain.  Obviously, we can learn the appearance of something or someone long before we master its/his substance.

That raises provocative challenges for Christians.  First, we can appear to be a Christian long before we produce Christ’s nature.  Indeed, appearances aplenty exist of the Christian faith—bumper stickers, fishes, the dove.  But the fruit of the Spirit, by which a Christian is truly identified, is much rarer.

Second, Christ tolerates all imperfections of his Glory in his people and allows us to claim the name Christian while we learn to demonstrate its fruit.  Someone said that no one should be allowed to play the violin until he has mastered it.  That’s why author Bruce Catton never played the violin though he took lessons as a boy.  His teacher said Catton had a monkey’s hand, enabling him to easily grip the instrument.  Unfortunately, as Catton’s refusal to practice proved, the instructor also accused him of having a monkey’s head.  Many Christians are monkey-heads when it comes to practicing their faith.  They don’t seem to improve their discipleship skills.

Yet…God never says we can’t LIVE the Christian life till we’ve mastered it.  While we abuse the faith we practice God urges continued, repeated efforts at living it.  He seeks the effort that certifies our zeal, whatever inexpertise and shortcomings mar the effort.  God knows that experience will make our witness more credible.  And more credible it needs to be.  For the Christian faith incorrectly used or lived, can make people demand “no more of this” and “if this is what God is like, I don’t want God.”  A badly-expressed faith makes for more noises and bedlam than all the ill-played violins.

Third, growth in, not mastery of, discipleship is our only hope.  We’ll never master the Christian faith, as Holbrook would Twain or Isaac Stern the violin (though each would deny mastery; each would seek dimensions in his work not yet explored).  In Christ, such incredible depths, breadths and heights appear that the disciple staggers when trying to comprehend it all.

 

In discipleship we often find ourselves like the earliest explorers who first saw the Rockies from the plains; they invariably felt themselves closer than they really were.  Pike thought himself close from the Arkansas River on the Colorado plains, though several days away.  Long thought himself close from the Platte, though six days removed.  The dry, clear air fooled them.  Disciples may occasionally, in a fit of spiritual arrogance not uncommon to us, think ourselves closer to Christ’s greatness than we really are.  Like some of Moody’s students, after attending prayer meeting, asked him, “Mr. Moody, do not our faces shine?”, we think we’re more brilliant than can ever be proven.

Most always, however, even we know what others see—no way at all, under any circumstances, can we even begin to appreciate the glory and grandeur that is Jesus Christ.  But, thanks be to God, while we’re seldom scholars of, we can remain students of his life, God accepts us while we try, declaring us righteous even when we’re not, proclaiming us justified by grace even as our works fail.

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

Discipleship – is a matter of extremes

As many know, the lowest elevation in the continental U.S. is Badwater, Death Valley, California, at 280 feet below sea level.  And the highest is Mt. Whitney, whose spikey summit soars to 14,508 feet.  Most know that Mt. Whitney can be seen from Badwater.  Fewer know that Badwater and Whitney Portal (the peak) are parted from each other by 135 road miles.  Even fewer may know that each July—this year July 10-12—some 100 elite runners will dare the 115 degrees of furnace-air heat, shimmering asphalt temperatures, hallucinations, emotional lows and a 48 hour time limit to run 14,600 vertical feet to the summit of Whitney.  AAA Westways Magazine, July/August, 2017, pp. 59ff

But how many Christians in all America know that faith in Christ demands the extreme in discipleship?  While only those with a proven record of long-distance running qualify for the Death Valley ultramarathon—participants must have run at least one hundred-mile race in the previous year, and at least three 100 miles over all, everyone can be a disciple of Christ only at the extreme cost of self-denial.  And no discipleship exists without accepting that condition.  We can be church members under nearly any condition:  in our degraded age, almost ANY condition.  But Jesus set self-denial as the basic condition of discipleship in his kingdom, and he’s never reduced it.  That extreme condition makes demands that church membership won’t and can’t.  Maybe that’s why Jesus has so few “extreme Christians.”  But isn’t the term extreme an oxymoron?  For since only those living in self-denial belong to Jesus, the word “extreme” is superfluous.  Self-denial is the natural state of a disciple of Christ.

 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Discipleship – demands fixed intention

I noted only the eyes of the lanky, solidly-built High School Junior.  The pitcher for a local school’s softball team, she helped lead the team to a Division I championship.  In the process of delivering a pitch, her entire body followed the focused intensity of her eyes and mouth.  She had one motive:  pitch to win!  San Diego U-T, North County Section, 6/8/17

In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus talked with three men about discipleship.  Two volunteered to serve him, one without reservations, the other with a condition.  He warned the former to count the cost of serving and the second to concentrate only on discipleship, not on other duties.  Jesus also invited a third man, who agreed but wanted to delay.  He warned him that discipleship demanded immediate action and couldn’t be secondary to any other interest.

All three men lacked the focused intention to discipleship the young girl offered to pitching a softball.  If we want to follow Jesus, DO IT…NOW..WHOLEHEARTEDLY…FIX, focus, rivet—your eyes on Jesus in a laser intensity.  Only such effort discards what’s otherwise a diversion; and delays what otherwise keeps us from immediate obedience. 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com 

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

A new book: The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Discipleship – in Jesus always Jesus-centered

In an interview with Parade magazine entertainer Arlo Guthrie quoted one of his dad’s—Woody—favorite sayings:  “It’s better to fail at being yourself than to succeed at being somebody else.”  3/30/17

Everyone to his own goals and choices.  It’s America, after all.  And if our eyes can’t see beyond ourselves, there’s a grain of truth in the saying.  A lot of preachers have discovered that copying the procedures of “super-churches” don’t always translate into local growth.

Christians, however, have a different mind-set.  Seeing beyond ourselves isn’t hard since we easily reach the end of our capabilities.  That’s why, Christians say, as this writer has been saying for years, it’s better to fail trying to be like Jesus than succeed in becoming like anyone else.

That goal always energizes us.  For a specific reason:  failing to be like Jesus despite strenuous efforts to succeed leaves us closer to our goal.  And that partial achievement empowers other efforts that continue trying.  Remember that Jesus applauded the hunger and thirst for righteousness, not the achievement of righteousness Matthew 5:6.  For the very seeking fills us with the pleasure of his presence that stimulates greater hunger and thirst.

Yours for a goal that always sees Jesus as our perfect model and seeks to emulate him as our continual inspiration.

 Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

 

 

Discipleship – turns from rights to responsibility

Well, the women have been out in force, marching.  Like mothers against war before them; or suffragettes marching to get the vote; or the women to raise money against breast cancer.  Etc.   The present women’s movement, led by feminists who don’t merely want rights or equality, but dominance.  Which will never happen.  But by dragging along their 6-8 year old daughters, they’re preparing them to pursue that will of the wisp.  For now the feminists settle for their “rights.”

And what do they mean by ‘rights?”  A few examples suffice.  The right to promiscuous sexual relationships.  The right to secure prophylactics against pregnancy.  The right to abortion should preventative measures not work.  The right to live freely as lesbians and homosexuals.  The right to adopt children to mature in their unnatural relationships.  The right to live together without marriage so they can enjoy sexual passion without life-long commitment marriage imposes.

Also, the right to get into a square ring and pound another female to the canvas.  Whatever happened to women being the “gentle sex?”  Also, the right to fight in battle, crouching in the dirt against “income mail,” learning to live with filth, crawling on the tummies, risking wounding and death.  Men have done it for centuries by compulsion.  Why do women want to volunteer?  What gain do they think they make by being tough?  And whatever happened to men protecting their women and removing them and the children FROM harm?

Well…enough about all that nonsense.  While they demand their rights, where does responsibility start?  Why always RIGHTS, but no RULES?  Or RIGHTS but no responsibility?  Why self-fulfillment but no self-control?

Who’s going to be responsible?  Who’s going to bear responsibility?  So that rights don’t become anarchy.  Because if all we seek are rights, rules decrease, in proportion as rights become dominant.  And as rights dominate, rules don’t apply.  As rules are forgotten and limits don’t exist—chaos supervenes and anarchy becomes the rule.

The demand for Rights is nothing but a re-birth in feminist form of the discredited human potential movement of a generation ago.  And it will have no positive, long-term impact.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

New Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley)

Discipleship – no reduction in terms of

The United States military is presently studying ways it can make its former demands more adaptable to modern life.  That includes accepting recruits using weed, covered in tattoos and hopelessly overweight.  The new approach brings the military into sync with societal mores.  While the Defense Department says no basic requirements will be reduced—it didn’t say what they were, or how many they were—“everything else” is open to compromise.   The brass does see less reliance on ground troops and more on high-tech warfare.  (They will be the first military establishment in history to find “boots on the ground” unnecessary or of second-rate importance.  They could profit by seeing the effort to retake Mosul, Iraq from ISIS fighters.  That’s being done with men on the ground, working with air forces.)  San Diego U-T, 11/4/16

However that may be, having once established self-denial as the basis of discipleship, Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus Christ never reduced it.  Nor did the apostles when they preached and wrote.  Leaders throughout the centuries have either preached or supported the concept.

Until the church growth movement decided to remove any “unnecessary” impediment to church membership.  Self-denial proved to be one of the “unnecessary impediments.”  Requirements for church attendance can be reduced at the behest of leadership.  But not for discipleship, which Jesus alone determines.  If anyone aims to be a disciple of Jesus, understand that self-denial is the first requirement.  It never reduces to something less.  It will never be self-fulfillment.  Whether people now welcome the Master’s demand—when did they ever?—Jesus put his preachers on notice to be faithful to him, not sensitive to humanity’s choices or inclinations, which will never include self-denial and Jesus Christ as Boss!  But it’s the only approach he recognizes and accepts.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 New books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

Brand new book on Integrity.

 Books also at www.amazon.com 

 

 

 

Discipleship – needs continued movement

While driving east on Rt. 78 to Escondido, California, Judy and I got behind a Waste Management truck.  Since we had extra time before our first pastoral call we geared down to follow it uphill.  Once reaching the crest, down the truck flew, leaving us trailing at our cruise-control speed.  Once climbing again, we caught up.  I told Judy that the heavily-laden truck performed well enough downhill but lacked the horses to maintain uphill speed.

 The experience held a parable for life.  We ordinarily aren’t able to travel at the same speed through the day, the week, the month, etc.  We may have burdens that slow us down perceptibly or cause us to stop for a breath.  The key to success is to avoid those stops.  The laws of motion guarantee we’ll get there if we keep moving.  We shouldn’t give up and stop.  For the laws of inertia make it difficult or impossible to start again.

 Discipleship is like that.  We don’t always have zeal to serve, joy to shout or confidence to stare down doubt.  Neither life nor discipleship offers an all-day, all-week party time.  And, consider, if the only time we moved was when we had the energy, how far would we go?  If the only time we worked was when we felt like it, how much would we get done?

 It’s understandable if we sometimes slow down.  It’s dangerous to our Christian life if, when slowing, we find it easier to stop than continue.  Jesus always kept on and expects us to always “carry on.” He promises to provide the inspiration to persevere.  Yours for an always-moving forward effort for the Lord and Savior.

 Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

 New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

 

Discipleship – Christ’s charge in

British Major John Howard learned that his glider-borne paratroopers landing in Normandy, 6 June 1944, would seize and hold the Orne River Bridge and its surrounding land “until relieved”—which didn’t come for hours.  Stephen Ambrose, D-Day, 197

They fared better than American troops in the Philippines early in WWII.  One of the four men from Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 (MTB3) expressed the finality of the orders soldiers received.  An officer on Bataan would pass by a machine-gun emplacement and order the soldiers to stay and hold the position.  When asked for how long, he would say, “Never mind.”  That meant the soldiers were “expendable”.  They would stay until overwhelmed, taken captive or killed.  “Hold until relieved” meant to “Hold regardless.”  W.L. White, They Were Expendable, 3

Jesus Christ and his apostles established the spiritual line on which he put all disciples in all ages.  On that line they were to stand.  That line they were to defend.  They were not to compromise that line by letting Satan gain it, stand there or, above all, cross it into strictly Biblical territory, gaining access to Christianity’s truth, which he would suborn and subvert.

That’s the order under which Christians still live and work.  Whatever Jesus said, his people believe.  Whatever he accepted, they embrace.  Whatever he rejected, they oppose.  And they have a time limit:  Hold until HE comes.  That means every generation of disciples remains faithful to the Christ-directed, apostolic-written guidelines for truth.  Whether society likes it or not.  Whether many or few believe it.  Hold…hold…hold…Jesus Christ’s command to his people.  Are we listening?  Are we obeying?  Whatever it costs us?  Because obeying him is ever so much more important than the price we pay to comply.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.

 

Discipleship – costs of re-paid

When the Marine divisions churned from mother ships to the sands of Iwo Jima February 19, 1945, they had the comfort of knowing that soaking destruction from pre-invasion bombardment had likely neutralized Japanese opposition.  Only to discover that the 6800 tons of bombs and 22,000 rounds of 5 inch and 16 inch naval shells rained on the island had failed to disrupt, let alone damage Japanese strength.

Only the effort of ground troops slogging through the volcanic sands and rooting out or burying the enemy secured the island 26 March, 1945.  Whatever was needed to keep the Marines fighting came ashore as the battle continued.  The Marines were reinforced until victory came.  Readers Digest, Illustrated WWII, 481

Serving Jesus is like that.  The costs of discipleship are re-paid even as service consumes the energies, time and resources of God’s servants.  Even as the costs of serving God increase his resources massively re-supply the effort.  Whatever price Christ’s servants pay, his reimbursement of grace exceeds the cost.  If American commanders wouldn’t let the Marines at Iwo Jima fight without reinforcing them with all the military weapons available, we can’t possibly think God will fail in any way to reinforce his servants as they proclaim the Kingdom Jesus Christ died to establish.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

New paperback books at:  www.createspace.com/5554486; www.createspace.com/5802530; and www.createspace.com/5700328.