About Good Questions
There are few things I love more than a good discussion about the Bible. I have been a student of the Bible my whole life and love leading a Bible Study group each week.
When I lead my Bible Study group, I walk in with 20 ready-to-use questions. (It is usually about twice as many as I need; I like being over-prepared.) Each question also has answers I have copied and pasted from some respected source. The goal of the group is to get everyone talking, thinking, and changing. The lessons I use each week in teaching are the same lessons you will find on this site.
I am a Southern Baptist Missionary's kid from the Philippines and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have written a few books (see below) and have been privileged to travel extensively and speak at some of the largest churches in the nation, including
I live in southern New Mexico with my wife, Missy. We have five children and six grandchildren. I enjoy photography, hiking, and watching tennis.
I also serve as pastor of Salem Baptist Church.
My theology is mainline evangelical and is in keeping with Baptist theology. My favorite authors include John Ortberg, C.S. Lewis, Charles Swindoll, Max Lucado, Warren Wiersbe, David Jeremiah, Mark Batterson, Chip Ingram, and John Piper.
If you have questions, the best way to contact me is through email: email@example.com
The 21 Laws of Discipleship
Following Jesus isn’t hard—Jesus said it would be easy (Matthew 11.30)—but it is a bit complicated. For example…
We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.2).
We are transformed by beholding Him (2 Corinthians 5.7).
We are transformed by training ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 4.7).
We are transformed by faith (Romans 1.17).
We are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5.18).
We are transformed in community. You can’t get there alone (Hebrews 10.24)-
And, you can’t get there without understanding all of these 21 Laws of Discipleship.
This 22-week Small Group Bible Study will guide your group step-by-step to understanding and living by the 21 Laws of Discipleship.
This book is not about presenting an interesting lesson. It is not about how to cover the material effectively. It is not about waxing eloquent and persuading your class that you are sharp or spiritual or clever or funny. It is not about you at all. It is about your class. Teaching is all about the class. It is about creating a certain kind of result in the student. It is about helping people live a certain kind of life. This life is variously knows and the disciple’s life, the spirit-filled life, the abundant life, the fully devoted follower, the normal Christian life, (Watchman Nee) and many other similar terms. This life is has certain distinguishable characteristics.
The Effective Bible Teacher
We desperately need an army of Effective Bible Teachers. What is an Effective Bible Teacher?
An Effective Bible Teacher teaches so that people live according to the Bible. Effective Bible Teachers create doers of the Word and not hearers only. Effective Bible Teachers make disciples.
Effective Bible Teachers result in classes that pray, people who serve, and individuals who read their Bibles and follow what it says.
Effective Bible Teachers create people who love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Effective Bible Teachers lead people to know their spiritual gifts and serve according to their gifting. Effective Bible Teachers teach people to abide in Christ.
Effective Bible Teachers love the people in their group. They hang out with them. They serve them. They have them in their homes. They are with them.
Effective Bible Teachers lead people to love. They lead people to lay down their lives in service to others. They lead people to care.
Effective Bible Teachers lead people to love the Word as they love the Word. The Psalmist said it is sweeter than honey. In another place, “Oh how I love your law.” It was not mere duty and obligation. It was a delight.
Effective Bible Teachers make a difference. Their classes are different because of the way they teach. Their people are different because of their influence on the lives of individual members. Their corner of the world is different because it is infected by people who are salt and light.
The thesis of this book can be summarized in a sentence: obedience is always in your best interest. It is always best for you to follow God. God is a rewarder. He rewards those who follow him. We should follow him for reward. We cannot draw near to God unless we believe God is a rewarder. There is no choice between obedience and doing what is good for me. Obedience is always good for me. By the way, this does assume a long time perspective. Obedience is always good for me over the long run. Sometimes, it will cost us in the short run.
This is true not only in a general, global way, it is true in every area of Christian living. The outline of this book is to explore each of these in turn.
The reward of sexual purity. Ever wonder why there is so much sexual immorality in our world? Ever wonder why it is so common, even for preachers and leaders who ought to know better? Here is why: they know they shouldn’t. They don’t see the reward of obedience. A lost job, a lost reputation, a lost life and few teary-eyed blubbering confessions and they start to see God is a rewarder. God doesn’t prohibit sexual immorality because he wants to keep us from pleasure. God says what he does about sex because he wants to give us life and life to the full. More people lose this life because of sexual sin than just about any other thing.
The reward of generosity. Economically, this one makes no sense. How will I be richer by giving my money away? If you understand rich in its fullest sense, this is clearly true. Generous people live richer lives. Science and the Bible agree on this. In this chapter we will look at not only what the Bible has to say, but what the rich, the generous, the stingy and the research have to say.
The reward of forgiving others. Forgiveness is hard. It is hard because we are created in the image of a just God. There is something in us that demands justice. I have a very personal story to tell about how to forgive when forgiving is gut-wrenchingly difficult. It is difficult, but my testimony is that it comes with great reward.
The reward of service. I used to hate this part of Christian living. I liked the singing part and the fellowship part, but I did not like the serving part. Research indicates I was not alone. We live in a society that imagines joy will come from pleasure, leisure and entertainment. The Bible teaches that life—life that is abundant and rich and better than the beer commercials, comes, in part, from work. FLOW happens more often at work than at play.
The reward of commitment. I used to think this was the hidden fine-print of the Christian life. We were promised eternal life as a free gift, only to find later that Christ demands that we sacrifice everything. To not accept that is to be guilty of living cheap grace. Modern research will help us to understand what Jesus always knew: there is no joy without commitment. Leisure and pleasure have limited roles in bringing us happiness.
You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less
We can reach our nation for God with an army of small group leaders like you who have a vision for doubling their class every two years or less.
We can reach our nation for Christ.
We can reach America with an army of small group leaders like you who have a vision for doubling their classes every two years or less. We can do it. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can be obedient to what God told us to do. I want to do that, don’t you?
Think of it. There are approximately 320,000 churches in America.1 Each one has approximately 75 in attendance and about 7 Sunday school classes. That means there are approximately 24 million peo-ple attending church on any given weekend and a little over 2 million Sunday school teachers. Suppose half, or a fourth, or even a tenth of the Sunday school teachers in America com-mitted to doubling their class ten times in the next 20 years. Suppose, like Gideon’s army, we had only 25,000 teachers from various denominations and churches on board. If each one doubled every two years or less, we would reach Ameri-ca in about 20 years.
I think God would be pleased if we would do that. But it would be nothing special. We would only be doing what God told us to do. Luke 17:10 reminds us that this is no big deal: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” I hate to think what God would say if we didn’t do what he told us to do!
Giving the ministry to people who are using their gifts to grow their groups will get the job done. It is a way to obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). In fact, it is the bread-and-butter strategy for reaching a lost world.
Often, we do big projects in our churches. We have program and musicals and mission trips. We build big buildings, hold huge revivals, and have spectacular Easter celebrations.
It is easy enough when we do these things to lose sight of the importance of the basics. We are mesmerized by watching the home run sail over center field and forget the basics of the routine ground ball. Small group work is the basics of the routine ground ball. Most of what it means to be a church happens best in small groups. Teaching, caring, sharing, reaching, loving, admonishing and helping happens best in, through, and around small groups. All these other things are good, but we should never lose our focus on the basics.
We may do all kinds of supplemental things to help us to grow, but it is the work of the small group leader that is foundational to long term growth. Consistently and quietly, growing, reaching, teaching, assimilating, fellowshipping and doing what God tells us to do—this is the bread and butter of our ongoing strategy.
THE Habit of Discipleship
Christian living comes down to making a handful of disciplines into habits. The disciplines are not Christian living; they are only the scaffolding that support Christian living. Christian living is not about doing certain religious things. Christian living is about walking in grace. It is about walking on purpose. It is about basking in acceptance. It is not about trying really hard to be good. It is not about trying hard to be good enough that God will accept me. It is quite the opposite of that. It is reveling in the fact that He has already accepted me. Christianity is about accepting the fact that God has accepted me. Nothing I could do could change that, but my heart is prone to forget.
This is why I need the disciplines. However, I don’t think discipline is quite the right word. That word—discipline—at least to me, suggests duty, or obligation. It suggests that I don’t really want to pray but I pray anyway. It hints that I don’t really want to spend time in the Word, but, because I am disciplined, I do it anyway. Discipline hints that I don’t really want to do something, but I do it anyway. This is not Christian living—not Christian living at its best.
Imagine a couple you know has an excellent marriage. They agree to coach you as your marriage is struggling. They tell you that the key to a great marriage is to maintain certain disciplines:
Does this sound like a great marriage to you? Actually, if you have a bad marriage, these things may make things improve. But, it will be a lot better when you do them because you want to, not because you have to.
In great marriages, couples don’t go out because it is their duty; they go out because there is nothing they would rather do than spend an evening alone together.
So it is with spiritual disciplines. We must maintain spiritual disciplines to grow as disciples. But, we will really grow when we do them out of joy rather than obligation.