Best Of

11 Articles You Shared Like Crazy

11 Articles You Shared Like Crazy

A look back at the articles you shared like crazy in 2018.

GCD’s Top Articles of 2017

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Quantity doesn’t always correspond to quality, especially on the Internet. The prolific nature of click-bait posts and listicles swirling around the blogosphere make deep, quality articles quite rare. Yet, sometimes, articles that have a broad readership indicate that a powerful idea or formative truth has been shared. As I surveyed the last year’s worth of articles for GCD, it has been apparent to me that the most-viewed and most-read articles have been pieces of exceptional quality that have helped to shape and inform the lives of thousands. More than merely discussing the latest theological trends or how-to’s of specific methods, the top articles at GCD this year reflect the need for resources that are thoughtful, emotional, and practical for Christ-centered formation.

They reflect our ambition to produce resources to make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus.

Several of these articles came from our excellent team of Staff Writers. A handful are excerpts from recent publications by various publishers released in 2017. We’ve also included a list of our own publications in 2017 and invite you to pick them up if you have not had an opportunity.

On behalf of the GCD Team, thank you for a great 2017, and we look forward to bringing you another year full of gospel-centered resources.

TOP 10 ARTICLES OF 2017

#10. Ask Him For Joy by Mike Phay

#9. The Problem of Unity in The Church by Matt Rogers

#8. Following Christ in an Age of Authenticity by Trevin Wax

#7. Do You Love Your Friends Enough to Hurt Them? by James Williams

#6. Small Towns Need Missionaries by Aaron Morrow

#5. Here I Raise My Ebenezer by Rachael Starke

#4. The Baffling Call of God by Jeremy Writebol

#3. 10 Family Worship Ideas for Busy Families by Mathew Sims

#2. Why You Don’t Read Your Bible (and How to Start) by Grayson Pope

#1. Let’s Get Real About Women’s Discipleship by Rachelle Cox

GCD BOOKS PUBLISHED IN 2017

Renew by Jim Hudson

A Guide For Holy Week by GCD Contributors

Sent Together (Second Edition) by Brad Watson

Gospel Glories A to Z by Kelly Havrilla

That Word Above All Earthly Powers by GCD Contributors

A New Year for Making Disciples

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A YEAR IN REVIEW

We are thankful for your support through out 2015. We hope the Lord continues to bless GCD as we seek to come alongside the church to offer resources to make, mature, and multiply disciples. We wanted to share a few ways in which GCD grew in 2015:

We published over 300 articles.

We published 3 books (we’re on track for six books for 2016).

During our peak, the GCD blog ranked 1,075,343 globally and 227,963 in the United States.

We had over 125,000 page views and 90,000 visits.

We moved all of our content to Amazon and released a new storefront.

And our staff grew to include 6 staff writers (We’re hoping to add at least 6 more over the next year).

Our favorite articles from our staff writers in 2015:

Tracy RichardsonTHE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The last book we completed this year was Tracy Richardson’s The Sermon on the Mount: A 31 Day Guide Through Jesus’ Teaching. Here’s what you can expect:

Have you ever been shocked, surprised, and dumfounded all at the same time? Maybe by a surprise birthday party, a practical joke, or unexpected news? The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the crowd reacted this way to Jesus’ teaching. The front-page headline following Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount read, “Jesus’ Teaching Leaves Audience Thunderstruck” (Matt. 7:28). Why did Jesus’ teaching cause such a stir? What was it about Jesus’ message that left the crowd absolutely amazed? In a nutshell, Jesus’ teaching turned people’s religious ideas inside out and upside down.

In The Sermon on the Mount: A 31 Day Guide Through Jesus’ Teaching, Tracy Richardson walks us through Jesus’ teaching in hopes that the Spirit will transform the hearts of his disciples. This guide is designed specifically for DNA groups, two to three people, who meet weekly under the leadership of the Spirit.

This is a digital only release and we’re offering it for just $0.99. So start the New Year with a gospel rich devotional through the Sermon on the Mount.

P.S. We are still taking pitches from anyone, so please don't hesitate to email Mathew@gospelcentereddiscipleship.com! 


Mathew B. Sims is the Editor-in-Chief at Exercise.com and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books including A Household GospelWe Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechisms for WorshipA Guide for AdventMake, Mature, Multiply, and A Guide for Holy Week. Mathew, LeAnn (his wife), and his daughters Claire, Maddy, and Adele live in Taylors, SC at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their Airdale Terrier. They attend Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA). Visit MathewBryanSims.com!

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Simple Ways to Teach Your Kids to Follow Jesus

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One of the questions we get many times at the GCM Collective is, “What about kids? How do you have time to disciple your children during all this mission stuff, and what does it look like?” I have three kids, a 10 year old, a 7 year old, and an 16 month old. I own a business, am an elder in a church, preach, and participate as an executive team member of the GCM Collective. Not to mention I coach leaders around the world and travel for speaking and training events. How do I have time? I learned early on, from my brothers at Soma Communities, that I only have one life, and mission has to be part of my everyday life, not some other life that I need to live. I don’t have time to get into all of that teaching, but it transformed how I see mission and discipleship. (To see an illustration of this look here: We Have Been Given One Life). Needless to say, I’ve decided to serve and leverage my life as much as I can. I’m busy and you are probably busy, too. How can we disciple kids in the midst of such hectic community and mission filled lives?

TSWL-AFTERHolistic Discipleship

What is the goal of children’s discipleship? Are we just trying to teach them stuff? See, the goal is not that our children will merely know the right answers on their Bible College theological entry exam, also known as Sunday School. We certainly want them to know God and understand the gospel in their minds. But, discipleship cannot stop at intellectual assent of biblical truths in their heads alone. It must penetrate their hearts. In the same way, the goal is not for children discipleship to stop at their hearts, but must work out in their lives. Certainly our children’s discipleship is not only about getting them to behave and use proper manners. The Bible speaks to parenting and disciple making more holistically than this:

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.Deuteronomy 11:18-20

This passage tells us two fundamental principles in parenting. One, discipleship is for the head, heart, and hand. We are to teach our children to know the gospel, believe the gospel, and obey the gospel. Two, the discipleship process is happening all the time, in everyday life. Every moment of the day is a chance to speak, teach, and demonstrate the gospel. My aim with this article is to offer some easy handles and ideas for parents to obediently live Deuteronomy 11 with their kids.

Head

We want our kids to know theology.  We want them to know who God is, what God has done, and who we are and how we should live. The issue is our kids get bored with the many ways we have tried to do teach this in the past. Memorize this verse, sit here for Sunday school, or listen to mommy and daddy read from the Bible. None of those things are bad, but what if we could do all those things in ways that they’d actually love and look forward to and ask to do?

  • What TV show does your kid love to watch? Watch it with them and tell them that at the end we are going to discuss questions in which we see ways the characters are living out their identity, how are their lives looking like Jesus, how are their lives showing who/what they are trusting, etc. For my kids, it’s Phineas and Ferb. We sit down and watch it, then discuss. The night before I wrote this article, we spoke about servanthood, identity, idols, fears, anxiety, the Imago Dei, etc. After we discussed, we prayed as a family for very specific things that we discussed. Guess what the kids are always asking to do? “Daddy, can we do Phineas and Ferb and theology?” They desire to learn because it is something they enjoy.
  • Teach them from material they will enjoy and let them teach and dialogue through it. I personally use two resources: The Jesus Story Book Bible and Story of God for Kids. When we go through these resources, I am always asking questions to get their insight. These resources are great because there are pictures and questions and really gets the kids involved, instead of just sitting there and listening. I also allow my 10 year old to lead through this so he can learn what it looks like to lead and create discussion. In this I am able to disciple him in what it looks like to lead by allowing him to do it himself.

Heart

Not only do we want our children to learn theology and mission through teaching, but we want them to believe it and know it in their hearts. We want it to go from information to transformation. Know this: you have to be faithful in this and there will be many times we try this with our kids and it will sail over their head. We will articulate the gospel in eloquent ways and they will have no reaction. We have to be faithful. Find out how to affect their heart by seeking the Spirit and continue to do it, even if you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for.

  • Discipline like you believe the gospel. I learned this from John Piper some years ago. He simply asked, “Does your discipline mirror grace and the gospel or legalism?” My kids never know when they are going to be punished for a sin. I try to sit them down after they have sinned and walk through grace and mercy and the effects of sin. We get to the heart of the issue of their sin, instead of saying, “stop it!” There are times when they are not punished for their sin, and we speak a lot about grace. There are also times when their sin causes natural consequences. For example, they might leave a favorite toy outside when they were supposed to bring it inside and it gets ruined. When this happens, we merely point out the consequence and pray together for forgiveness and reconciliation. When you spend time demonstrating in discipline what grace, the gospel and reconciliation looks like, it hits the heart.
  • Demonstrate. I got this idea from my buddy Caesar. One of the discipleship issues we had with our older child had to do with his behavior while he was playing outside. We decided that if he was having issues playing outside, he would have to come inside or face punishment. The punishment was to sit on the wall for 20 minutes. Lots of fun. Instead, when the time came for him to receive his punishment, I told him I’d take it for him. We talked about Jesus and the good news and how he has done this for us. This sounded great, but he listened, and then ran back outside like nothing happened. I still do this, because I think at some point, it will sink in. But you have to know: they are kids and they won’t always react in the ways you were hoping.
  • When you see your child do something that reminds you of Jesus, tell them and praise them for it. Not to the point where they get all the credit, but as a pointer. When they see how their actions depict God’s character, it really freaks them out. My 7 year old last night asked, “God works through me to show who he is?” It really hit him. Our kids need to hear about God, not only when they are doing things that are disappointing, but also when they are showing the fruit of the Spirit. Recently, my 10 year old came up and told me that his little brother made him lunch for school. He was stoked! I told him, “Caleb, where do you think he learned that?” He replied, “God?” I said, “He learned it from you as you have been serving him. And you learned it from God as Jesus served and serves you. You have been showing your brother Jesus. Isn’t it amazing that he does those things he sees in you as you show him Jesus?”
  • Continue to remind them they are loved by God and you, no matter what. We do this in both their sin and their praise. We want them to continually know that God loves regardless of their actions. Their identity and acceptance is not wrapped up in what they do but in who God is and what he does. I do this when they do something that requires discipline and I do this when they show off who God is.

Hands

Not only do our kids need to know about God in their head, and know what he’s done in their heart, but they also need to work this out as disciples and missionaries. We have to know that our children are not missionaries only when they get older. They are missionaries now.

  • Involve your kids in the mission. Rarely do we do things that don’t involve our kids. When we do events, most of the time it is with families. The reason is I want my kids to see that it is totally normal to be around those that don’t believe like us and what it looks like to hang out with them. I don’t want them to ever think that our job is to do things so we’ll get something in return. We merely show others what God is like, we plant, we water, but God causes the growth. The best way to do this is to model it for them in life on life.  So, at neighborhood BBQs or neighborhood breakfasts, they have jobs before and after. We talk about why we are doing these, what their thoughts are, and their struggles with it. They get to walk this out and deal with the consequences of following Jesus: when their toys get broken, when they have to clean up after others, etc.  When all this happens, we get to talk about what it means to serve and show off Jesus without expecting anything in return.
  • Make your house the “hang-out-house.” Our kids know that they can always have friends over and invite them in for dinner, etc. Because of this, they are actively sharing their lives with those around us. They see what it means to have an open home, to be hospitable, to believe that our possessions are God’s and not ours. They also know that to open our home means there will sometimes be kids they don’t want to play with, but we open our home anyway. We love our enemies, we don’t hate them or shun them. The more you allow your kids to have people over and just hang out and play, the more they will be able to understand mission in the everyday.
  • Invite their friends and parents out to your activities. Recently, I took my boys to a movie and dinner, so I asked them who they wanted to bring. I then invited their friends and their family to go out with us.  Again, this is simple. Their friends and families came and hung out. We were already going to do it, why not do it with others? This doesn’t mean we eat dinner and ask the other Dad, “You see the bread on your kid’s plate? That reminds of when Jesus said he was the bread of life.” Be a good human and hang out with others, be friends, show your kids what it looks like to be hospitable in all areas of life.
  • Ask your children what charity they’d like to help on their birthday. We have done this with both our older kids. We tell them, “Mom and Dad will buy you a gift, and so will your grandparents, but what if we had your friends bring something for a charity?” We have had food drives, blanket drives, and more for one of our missional communities that helps the homeless in our town. Our kids actually love doing this! They get to help others and participate in serving.

Normal Life with Intentionality

I know these things aren’t earth shattering ideas. They are simple everyday life type of activities. Just think if your parents taught you about God while watching cartoons? Pretty cool parents, pretty fun way to learn theology. That’s the point. We don’t need some program to raise our children for us; we can do this in normal, everyday life. That way our kids will understand what following Jesus looks like and will desire to do it, too. Some days are better than others, some things work better than others. You know your family. A simple way to start is just to look at your schedule with your family and start asking, “How can we be more intentional with these things we are already doing so our children can better understand who God is, what he has done, and who he has made us to be?” And “What can we do to holistically disciple our children—head, heart, and hands?” Again, think about simple everyday life type of activities.

Seth McBee is the adopted son of God, husband of one wife, and father of three. He’s a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a finance degree. By trade. Seth is an investment portfolio manager, serving as President of McBee Advisors, Inc. He is also a MC leader/trainer/coach and executive team member of the GCM Collective. Seth currently lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife Stacy and their three children: Caleb, Coleman, and Madelynn. He is also the artist and co-author of the wildly popular (and free!) eBook, Be The Church: Discipleship & Mission Made Simple. Twitter: @sdmcbee.

Anticipating the Infinite Good News of Good Friday

In anticipation of Good Friday and in remembrance of the Giver of the gospel, we offer this simple liturgy. God bless you and keep you all. May you live out the good news of God’s infinite love to those around you this Easter.

The Last Supper

The sun sank over the olive groves in the west, and across Jerusalem the doorways were smeared with sacrificial blood. This was Passover, the culmination of high holy week, and though the city was ruled by Rome—occupied by soldiers under the command of procurator Pontius Pilate—families gathered to remember how Jehovah had liberated their ancestors.

When the table had been set and all of His followers had assembled, Jesus—who had been their Rabbi, their Lord—took a towel and a basin of water and washed the feet of his followers. They questioned this: it was a chore for a servant.

But, Jesus continued the task, saying, “You are right to call me Rabbi and Lord, but I tell you a servant is not greater than his master. A messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.”

Then the group took their places at the table, and as they passed the matzo, the unleavened bread, Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.”

His followers were horrified. It confirmed their fears. Hadn’t they heard rumors in Jerusalem? Weren’t the religious leaders conspiring in the temple? But, betrayal by a follower—this was unthinkable. Each questioned him, saying, “Not me, Rabbi. Tell me it’s not me.”

Jesus looked at Judas, who had already received his blood money from the conspirators.

He said, “Go. Buy what we need for the feast.”

And, Judas went out into the night.

Then Jesus took the matzo and blessed it and broke it and gave it to each of his followers, saying, “This is my body, broken for you. Take it and eat.”

He took the Passover cup of new wine and gave thanks to Jehovah God and offered it to His followers, saying, “This is my blood—the blood of the covenant, which is shed in atonement for many, for the forgiveness of sins.”

His followers did as he instructed, and Jesus said, “I will not eat or drink with you again until we meet in my Father’s house. After I’m gone, you will have each other. Continue to offer this bread and this wine in remembrance of me. You must love one another just as I have loved you. By this simple act, the whole world will know you are my followers.”

Prayer

Jesus, unite us in fellowship as we draw closer to you Unite us in communion by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Jesus, blessed is your name on high. Your love for us is infinite. Jesus, let us love one another as we know you love us.

To know this love, Jesus, to know the love of Your Father, to know Your Holy Spirit here among us now. This is eternal life. Hallelujah. Amen.

The Trial

That night Jesus walked with his followers through the olive groves of the Kidron Valley. Many of them were worried, and Peter approached him to say, “Rabbi, I will stay with you through any difficulty.”

But, Jesus told him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times.”

The hour was late. They rested in a garden outside the temple walls. Jesus often came to this spot to pray, and this was where Judas led the mob. They found Jesus, surrounded by a group of drowsy followers who all fled when they saw the swords and clubs of the crowd. Only Jesus remained.

Judas walked up to him, saying, “Rabbi,” and kissed Jesus on the cheek.

Then the mob seized him and brought Jesus to the religious conspirators. They proceeded to accuse him without due process of the law. Jesus listened to the accusations but said nothing.

Caiaphas, the High Priest, asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?”

Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Caiaphas tore his garments and screamed, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy.”

At the first light of day, they hauled him to the Roman court. Pilate questioned Jesus and found him blameless, but the crowd began chanting, “Crucify him. Crucify him.”

To avoid a riot, Pilate washed his hands of the business and sentenced Jesus to death.

Jesus’ trial is troubling from a legal standpoint. Jewish law prohibited the opening of a trial at night. Jesus was assigned no defender. The allegation of blasphemy was not a capital offense, and trials for capital offenses required at least two days. Under Roman law, Jesus was found innocent, and yet he was sentenced with the most extreme penalty of the law simply to keep the peace. In other words, these proceedings were not merely unjust—the trial was illegal. Worse still, Jesus was abandoned by his closest followers. Even Peter denied him three times, cursing and insisting that he didn’t know Jesus.

Prayer

Jesus, You were a laughing stock to people who did not know you. Jesus, you were outlawed from human company. You were accused like a common thief.

Jesus, we have betrayed you to mockery, injustice, and disbelief. Jesus, we have belittled you. We have made much of ourselves.

We cry out to you, Lord Jesus. You understand our suffering and sorrow. Give us strength to remain in you Even in our own final dreadful trial. Amen.

The Execution

Following Pilate’s orders, the Roman troops took Jesus into the praetorium, stripped him naked, and forced a crown of thorns onto his head. They beat him with a barbed whip, flaying the skin off his back. As he stood there bleeding and trembling in shock, the soldiers laughed, bowing and calling him your majesty.

Once they were bored with this sport, the soldiers forced Jesus to march through the city streets, dragging the cross on which they would execute him. He was weakened by the beating. So the soldiers forced a passerby to carry the cross. In this way, they went to a rock quarry east of the city, a place called Golgotha because it looked like a human skull. There the soldiers tied Jesus’ arms to the cross and drove long metal spikes between the two bones of his forearms. His feet they pinned together with a single metal spike through bones of his ankles. Then they lifted the cross into the air, dropping the base into a hole, and left him there to die.

Death by crucifixion is slow. The body gradually suffocates. In order to draw breath, Jesus had to lift himself by the nails piercing his arms and legs.

A crowd gathered to mock him, shouting, “You’re the Son of God. Come down off that cross.” The carrion birds circled overhead. Dogs waited beneath.

After several hours of agony, Jesus said, “It is finished,” and bowed his head and gave up his Spirit. The soldiers thrust a spear through his abdomen into his heart and lungs, and he was officially declared dead.

Prayer

Jesus, You are the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For you Jesus all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created through you and for you.

Jesus, you are before all things, and in you all things hold together. You are the head of the body, the church. You are the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead.

Jesus, God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in you. Through you we are reconciled. You made peace through your blood, shed on the cross. Jesus, in our sin, we were once your enemies. In your grace, we are now your Brothers and Sisters.

By your atonement alone we are holy in God’s sight. In you alone, we are without blemish, free from accusation. Lord let us continue in faith, established and firm, Lord Jesus, give us strength to remain forever in the hope held out in the gospel. Hallelujah. Amen.

Ben Roberts is a member of Austin City Life, and a follower of Christ. He rents in amazingly ugly house in Windsor Park where he lives with his wife (Jessica), son (Solomon), dog (Charles Bronson II), and two very angry chickens. A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, he is currently working on a novel.

The Painstaking Way Jesus Empowers New Life

NEW MISSION: MAKE DISCIPLES

Matthew 28:18-20 is what Christians call the Great Commission, the dominant marching orders for all who have faith in resurrection. It can sound a bit militant: Take God’s authority and make disciples.” But remember, these orders are from the one who has laid down his life to save his enemies. Ironically, our orders are to invite through imitation. Our mission is to make disciples through our words and actions. Or, as Jesus said, “teach and obey.” In fact, it is when we experience the riches of renewal through Christ that we become, as Eugene Peterson says, “God’s advertisement to the world.”1 We make disciples by living resurrected lives and telling people about the resurrected Christ.

“There’s not a hint of coercion here. It’s a life of love. Jesus wants us to spread the gospel throughout the world by spending our lives for the sake of others. The power of the resurrection doesn’t end with us; it travels through us. Our commission is invitation. We invite others to join God’s redemptive agenda to restore human flourishing and remake the world. We are sent into the world to share the good news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection. Jesus is making all things new, and he calls his followers to participate in his work of renewal.

Distinctive Discipleship

Part of what makes this command such a “great” mission is its scope—all nations. When Jesus spoke these words, he was reorienting a primarily Jewish audience to a distinctly multiethnic mission. The Greek word used here is the same word that gives us the English word “ethnic.” It refers to the nations, not modernist geopolitical states, but non-Jewish people groups (Gentiles) with distinct cultures and languages. Our commission is not to Christianize nation-states, but to share the good news of what Jesus has done with all ethnic groups. Christ does not advocate what is commonly called Christendom, a top-down political Christianity. Instead, he calls his followers to transmit a bottom-up, indigenous Christianity, to all peoples in all cultures.

We should also note that this command is to make disciples of all nations, not from all nations. The goal of Christian missions is not to replace the rich diversity of human culture for a cheap consumer, Christian knock-off culture. Dr. Andrew Walls puts it well:

Conversion to Christ does not produce a bland universal citizenship: it produces distinctive discipleship, as diverse and variegated as human life itself. Christ in redeeming humanity brings, by the process of discipleship, all the richness of humanity’s infinitude of cultures and subcultures into the variegated splendor of the Full Grown Humanity to which the apostolic literature points (Eph 4.8 – 13).2

What we should strive for is distinctive discipleship, discipleship that uniquely expresses personal faith in our cultural context. Disciples in urban Manhattan will look different than disciples in rural Maehongson. These differences allow for a flourishing of the gospel that contributes to the many-splendored new humanity of Christ. Simply put, the message of Jesus is for the flourishing of all humanity in all cultures.

Jesus informs our resurrected life. He gives us a new and gracious authority, a new identity, and a new mission. With that in view, what does it look like to participate in this task of renewing the world? Where do we begin? Jesus has painted for us a great picture of the new life. Let’s turn now to the daily implications of resurrection life.

IMPLICATIONS: RISKING FOR HUMANITY

If Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead, we have nothing to fear and everything we need. All that we strive for is fulfilled in Jesus. All that we seek to avoid has been resolved by him. For example, if Jesus rose from the dead, we no longer need to strive for acceptance because we are now accepted by him. If Jesus rose from the dead, we don’t need to fear death, because it has been defeated. This means that we are free to smuggle medical supplies into Burma, even at the risk of death, knowing that our eternal fate is already sealed. We can move to distant countries to invest in development and renewal because Christ did the same for the world. Like the early Christians, we can care for the poor and marginalized in our cities. If we have resurrection life, we will have courage to take risks in the name of love. . . .

This is the power of the resurrected life. Serving others is a sacrifice, yes. But that sacrifice is filled with joy. You won’t be able to imagine living any other way.

Why?

Jesus tells those who follow him to leave all they have behind, to give their lives to the poor, to love their enemies, and to be a blessing to the world. Let’s not pretend this is easy to do. Following Jesus will require your whole life. Not just part of it. Not just your leisure time. Not just some of your budget. No, it requires your whole life. It will feel like death and suffering at times. It will feel that way because you are laying your life down. That’s what the resurrection looks like in daily life. We do not hold anything back—our talents, possessions, or time—because we live with the certainty that death and sin have been defeated.

There is no sugarcoating it. You will lose your life. In its place you will find a vibrant, full, and eternal life. By dying to ourselves we become alive to the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead empowers us to live a life for Jesus. His death and resurrection have become our death and resurrection. Our old life is gone, and we now experience a new authority, identity, and mission. This is why we give, celebrate, and serve: we have died and have been raised again to experience new and abundant life.

Jonathan K. Dodson (MDiv; ThM) serves as a pastor of City Life Church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Unbelievable Gospel, and Raised? He has discipled men and women abroad and at home for almost two decades, taking great delight in communicating the gospel and seeing Christ formed in others. Twitter: @Jonathan_Dodson

Brad Watson serves as a pastor of Bread & Wine Communities in Portland, Oregon. He is a board member of GCDiscipleship.com and co-author of Raised? His greatest passion is to encourage and equip leaders for the mission of making disciples. Twitter: @BradAWatson

(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Raised? by Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson available from Zondervan. It appears here with the permission of the author and publisher. For free resources and preorders, visit raisedbook.com.)

1. Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Eerd- mans, 2010), 13 – 14. 2. Andrew Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996), 51.