Category Archives: Discipleship

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.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Discipleship – what God seeks from our

Each year football players anxious to play in the NFL parade before scouts and general managers, who eye them critically.  Do they have body scars that indicate previous surgery—if so, where and how serious?  Do they have broad shoulders that reflect developed muscles and promise chiseled leverage?  Do they have any limp in their step that indicates hidden knee, ankle or thigh injuries?

Height, weight, name—the name important only in case they want to TALK to him.  Otherwise, LOOKING is sufficient.  How big are their hands, how fast they can run forty-yard dashes; how well do they move laterally or while back-pedaling?

They’re looking for a body that can stand the vigors of bone-crushing, head-beating professional football.

O.K. for NFL owners and for players eager to sign multi-million dollar contracts to PLAY a GAME.  None of which interests God when he seeks disciples.  He looks instead for a child-like faith that:  trusts him, believes everything he says, takes an interest in spiritual issues, seeks to please him in every way.  In short, God seeks the person who is Obedient.  The key word in discipleship isn’t preach, or baptism, or prayer, or tithing.  Or any other of the many factors we consider so essential.  The key word in discipleship is OBEDIENCE to the Master in the manner of a child before his parent, a slave before his owner!

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Discipleship – has no age limit

Buffalo Bill Cody had a weakened physique in his old age.  Forced to work in his Wild West Shows by economic necessity, he would be helped into an alcove of the tent and helped to mount his horse.  He would sit, slumped over, the victim of arthritis, rheumatism and kidney failure.

But on cue, his name called, he pulled his shoulders back, sat tall in the saddle and burst through the open flap and tore around the arena like a boy.  Then, his expected appearance complete, back into the tent he walked his horse, the flap closed and over he slumped, to be helped off, the old man he had become.  The Real West, A & E, 9/17/92

One segment of Eye on San Diego, a T.V. series years ago, featured a female body builder.  When asked why she endued the physical cost of body building, she quickly replied, “because I want to look as good 30 years from now as I do today.”  She couldn’t have been more than a mid-20 female specimen.

The thought struck me—30 years!  Just 30 years?  Didn’t she want to be physically capable after that?  She was willing to experience the necessary effort just to be healthy for those few years?  That’s our trouble, you see.  We don’t  look nearly far enough ahead.  Oh, we all think of eventual retirement; but how few really think of final retirement—from life?  We look 30 years ahead, but not 100 or 1000.   Only looking into eternity gives the proper value to this life.

It’s necessary to want a strong, vigorous body a century from now—and a millennium from now.  The only way to achieve that is to presently pay the price of discipleship.  If there’s no gain without pain to keep our present body fit, pain leads to gain as we prepare for the next body.  But the effort exerted for that is infinitely more rewarding.

Whether like Bill Cody, an old, worn figure of a man; or like the body-builder, seeking short-term results, discipleship has no age limit or, within limits, health-barrier.  Physical affliction may slow our motion to a crawl, but we can still serve Jesus by moving slowly.  If we have to stop for frequent rests, we can still be active though needing frequent R & R’s.  Keep on keeping on for Jesus!

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