Category Archives: Discipleship

Discipleship – costs before it pays, Part III

Settlers broke out of the forests of eastern America into the prairie of the Illinois country, the Prairie State, the Land of Lincoln, as in Abraham.  Three kinds of Prairies existed, determined by the rainfall each received:  tall grass prairies, with the most precipitation; mixed-grass prairies, with sufficient; and short-grass prairies, with the least.  As much as 80% of prairies were grass of 40-60 different species.

Prairie roots always grew long and deep, according to the DNA God programmed.  The roots could expand 20 feet into the earth.  One plant with its complex, twisted, joined root system could extend for hundreds of yards.  And, where the biggest part of an iceberg looms below the surface, where it does the greatest harm, prairie plants extended three-quarters of their roots below the surface, where they offered the greatest benefits.  San Diego U-T, Mini-Page, 7/21/05

The tendrils stretch out to depths for nourishment and to strengthen the plant.  Christian discipleship likewise never tires of deepening itself through lifestyle change, prayer, Bible study and concentration on the person of Christ.  The deeper we go in faith, the more resistant we are to surrender when spiritual “dry spells” hit.  The more lengthened our lives in faith, the less susceptible we are to being uprooted and desiccated by unhappy circumstances in life.  The more empowered by spiritual food and well-springs of spiritual grace, the more likely we are to trust God through all the stresses of life and the less likely to question him, his will and his decisions.

Lord, give us prairie plant-faith, whether we live in Hoosierland, Lincolnland or the Golden State.      –  Fini –

 

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 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 – costs before it pays, Part II

Freedom for Israel in Egypt seemed immanent when Moses returned from exile to lead in emancipation.  However, not so immanent, and not so easy.  Yet, over a year of God’s bludgeoning punishment of Egypt’s pantheon led to Israel’s departure.

Which leads to a spiritual principle:  the level of discipleship we personally desire determines the price paid to achieve it.  Archibald Henry Sayce, Oriental linguist, once said that any discoveries made necessarily included mistakes.  The Secret of the Hittites, 96.  In discipleship, the level of growth in Christ desired imposes an equal cost.  The ego never surrenders willingly.  It twists and turns like a spoiled child trying to escape restraint.  Any Christian intent on developing Christ-likeness will pay a price the “no commitment” disciple doesn’t experience.  And achieves an excellence the “no commitment” disciple will never reach.

Discipleship isn’t like salvation, which comes by Grace alone through faith in Christ’s sacrifice.  Impossible to earn or merit or achieve, it’s GIVEN free of charge by the Savior who PAID its Price.  Discipleship is earned by persistence in effort.  And only by persevering effort.  Never think otherwise.  Being a maturing disciple means we invite pain:  bearing burdens not otherwise chosen; going places otherwise avoided; choosing options otherwise ignored—all because Jesus WANTS it or COMMANDS it.  And we want to please him.

In turn we never calculate the cost of obedience when developing discipleship.  Whatever it is, we pay.  For the ultimate result of its pain is spiritual pleasure.    – End Part II –

 

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 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 – costs before it pays, Part I

Sure enough, Moses returned to Egypt after 40 years…FORTYof exile.  Sure enough, he came promising freedom from slavery to the Pharaohs.  How many centuries they had waited?  How could it have taken so long?  Why couldn’t it have come sooner?

Nevertheless, the very prospect of freedom stimulated confidence and “they believed” and “bowed down and worshiped” Exodus 4:31.  Glory had come!

Except…the eruption of freedom Moses predicted drowned under Pharaoh’s drenching refusal to let them go!  More oppressive slavery followed, not emancipation.  Indeed, more humiliating, exhausting labor supervened, not release from servitude.

In turn the Israelites flogged Moses as a charlatan as Pharaoh dismissed him as a shooting star.  Not until another year had passed did Pharaoh agree to let Israel go and they left.

But it did come.  If everything went badly for Israel at first for doing right, and easier for Pharaoh, though wrong, the end would be different.  And when Amenhotep II had been disgraced by Israel’s departure, and thought to retrieve his captives, he found instead shattering ruin as his troops and chariots washed up on the shore of the Red Sea.    – End Part I –

 

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 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 – 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