Archive for July, 2007

Disciple Abuse

This is an old article that was written by the late Mike Yaconelli.  It still resounds with me.  See if you don’t agree…


Suppose I took a group of dedicated high school football players and said to them, “If you’re really committed, if you’re serious about football, if you genuinely want to be the best, then I’m taking you to an NFL training camp so you can be a professional football player.”

You would look at me like I was crazy. These young people, passionate and dedicated as they are, would be slaughtered on that football field. They’d be destroyed physically and mentally. And I, as a coach, would be arrested for child abuse.

Then why do we say to junior high and high school students who sincerely want to follow Jesus and give their lives to God, “You need discipleship class. If you’re really committed and dedicated, then attend a discipleship class where you can become even more dedicated and committed. We’re going to make you a disciple.” If we do this, we’re guilty of disciple abuse.

I don’t believe in student discipleship.

I believe in encouragement, affirmation, education, service, and study. I believe in relationship, community, and fellowship. I believe in training, beginning, starting, and learning. I believe in praying together, playing together, talking together, hanging together, and living life together, but I don’t believe in “pouring my life into a student.” I believe in showing my life to a student and living my life in front of a student; I don’t believe in discipling young people.


Young people are too…well…young to be disciples.

Apprentices? Of course. Beginners? Sure. Trainees? Interns? Absolutely. But not disciples.

We’ve convinced adults and parents that we have a program that can produce disciples. We perpetuate the illusion that we can take 13-year-olds and make disciples out of them. We actually act as though we can transform a group of inconsistent, uncommitted adolescents into mature, committed disciples by spending an extra hour or two a week with them.

Not possible.

Are students capable of heroic acts? Absolutely! Can a 13-year-old be committed to Jesus? Yes, as long as we understand what we mean by committed. Can young people make a difference in the world? Of course they can, but we’re still not talking about disciples.

“Discipleship requires…”

Discipleship isn’t about coming to more meetings than non-disciples. It’s not about leadership or getting involved in service projects. Discipleship isn’t about filling out a booklet. It’s a way of living; it’s the process of figuring out what it means to believe in Jesus in the everydayness of my life.

Because most students in our youth groups have been protected from suffering (Remember all the parents who showed up for your Mexico orientation concerned about whether or not the trip would be safe? And you lied and said it would be?), because most students have been continually rescued by mom and dad, and because most students haven’t been prepared for the real world, they’re not prepared for the complicatedness of life.

Discipleship requires maturity, experience, and depth. Discipleship requires extensive time. Discipleship requires intensity, isolation, and independence. Discipleship requires spending time with Jesus, not with you and me. Discipleship requires a lifetime of figuring out what it means to follow Jesus.

“Ruin their lives…”

Before the mail starts, by all means, spend time with young people, study with them, pray with them, introduce them to Jesus, affirm them, encourage them, challenge them, attract them, motivate them, suffer with them, cry with them, and push them. Ruin their lives by introducing them to the compelling, attractive, demanding, frightening Jesus.

Most of all, love them. Believe in them. Trust them. Be an example for them. Stick it out with them over the long haul. And some day, when they’re older, when they’ve weathered a few storms, when they’ve been beaten up by life a bit, they may actually start looking like a disciple—not because you discipled them, but because you refused to give up on them.

Saturday Evening Worship Celebration

We’re getting ready to head out to our once-a-month Saturday Evening Worship Celebration.  I’m excited!  I love this chance to get together with my extended family and worship in a more relaxed and intimate setting.

We’re taking communion together tonight.  As an added bonus, we recorded on video our communion service that we had together at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.  We purchased enough olive wood cups to bring back to GCC so that we could all take communion this way.  We’ll share the video on the big screens this evening and partake in the elements then everyone gets to take their olive wood cup home as a small gift from the Holy Land.

As I said, I love these times together on Saturday evenings.  Hope to see you there!

Olive wood cups

JFK Airport

“Start spreading the news…we’re leaving today…”

Well, bad rendition of a Sinatra classic but good news!  We are in New York and waiting for a Jet Blue flight at 6:10pm to head to Boston.  Then into auto’s and driving home to the family.  If all goes well I should be hugging Kim and the kids at 10:00pm tonight!

As far as the strike in Israel goes, they postponed it for another week.  Thanks for your prayer on that one!  It’s good to be back in America…

At the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

Well, we, along with everyone else in Israel that wants to leave the country and fly home – wherever that may be – are here at the airport.  Getting through security and to the ticketing agent was a nut house!  To all of you who have complained about airport troubles before – we trump your stories!  It is currently 4:36am, we have not slept in 20 hours and may not for many, many more.  The good news is our plane is scheduled to take off for New York at 7:15am.  The bad news is that the airport is set to shut down due to the Civil Workers Union strike at 6:15am.

Please continue to pray that we get on our plane as planned and fly the friendly skies back to the greatest place on earth to live!  Israel is great and I have fallen in love with this land – but New Hampshire is home, and that is where I want to be!

One thing that they have over us in the states is that I am on free wireless right now.  Can’t beat that…

I’ll keep you all posted as to our status.  If you don’t see any new posts anytime after midnight (your time) we are on a plane headed home.


Something to watch as we fly

We’ll be on a long flight back home to the States. In the meantime. Enjoy watching Bono’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast from 2007.

Travel Plans Changed

Well, rather than leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00 to head to the airport our plans have been changed.  With the Civil Workers Union Strike to begin at 6:15am on Thursday, thereby shutting down all operations at the airport we have been pushed to an earlier flight.  We will be leaving for the airport at 12:45am as we need to arrive at least 5 hours before our flight so that we can pass through security and get loaded onto the plane prior to the strike.  Our flight is not scheduled to leave until 7:15am so we may have a “Jet Blue” experience forth coming…

Pray that we have a pleasant surprise at the airport and that everything occurs smoothly.  I want to get home as scheduled so I can hug my wife and kids!

Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulcre

We walked the Via Dolorosa today.  It all began in a place called the Praetorium.  This is the location where Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  The floor of the courtyard where the beatings took place still exists.  They have built a chapel over the site to protect the stones.


As we made our way through the narrow roadways that are now cluttered with many small stores and marketplaces I could not help but feel the intensity that would have been present as Jesus struggled along carrying the cross towards Golgotha.  The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcre.  This, according to Catholics, would be the holiest place on earth.


While it is a very beautiful building filled with ornate gold lamps, chandeliers, and candlesticks of great worth – there was a hollow feeling there.  I will not leave much commentary here on this other than genuine praise that we serve and worship the Living God!


We then headed to the house of Caiaphas, the chief priest that Jesus was brought to after being arrested at Gethsemane.  Under a chapel there was the dungeon in which Jesus would have been beaten before being brought to Pilate.


This was also our last stop on the tour for our trip.  I can say without a doubt that each and every one of us here on this tour are different than when we arrived.  Being here in Israel is a life changing experience.  The Bible “in 3-D”, as our tour guide put it…


Thank you all for joining me and the rest of the GCC-er’s that were on this trip.  Please pray for safety for all of us as we head to the airport in Tel-Aviv tomorrow morning.  There is a strike ongoing here in Israel with the Civil Workers Union which may effect our flight tomorrow.   Please pray that the issues they have are resolved quickly so that we can return as scheduled and see our families.

Foursquare Convention and “The Covenant”


Tonight we had the privilege to view the musical “The Covenant”  This musical tells the story of Israel, the Jews, and the Promise of God.  It was a beautiful weaving of song and storytelling beginning with Abraham’s encounter with God all the way up to the declaration of Statehood for Israel in 1948 by Ben Gurion.

This was a very emotional retelling of the story of Israel.  I believe even more so after our visit today to Yad Vashur.  This is the Israeli Holocaust Museum.  I have a few photos from outside the museum but out of respect for the victims and in keeping with the solemn environment that is in the museum no pictures were taken.  At the entrance of Yad Vashur is the scripture from Ezekiel 37:14 – This speaks so deeply of rebirth and hope!


Our first area that we visited was the Children’s Memorial.  I simply can not write the words to describe the emotions that I felt throughout my visit to this memorial.  From sorrow, grief, sympathy and even anger and outrage, I was on a roller coaster throughout my time on the grounds of this memorial.


It brought up a new commitment to stand up for and speak out about injustices that go on all around us.   The realization that we as the United States did nothing about this happening until after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was infuriating to me.  My prayer is that we never as individuals or as a country will ever allow something like this to happen again – however, Rwanda and Uganda and Darfur are all ringing in my ears right now…

We visited the Model City at the end of our day as well.  This was fascinating!  The whole of Jerusalem in a scale model that is 1 inch to every 3 feet.


As I am tired tonight this will be the end of the post.  I’ll add more tomorrow.

J.P. Harriman!

Hey All,

some of you may be aware that friends of mine, Brock & Tina Harriman, have been working through the whole adoption process with an orphanage in Rwanda.  I just received some pictures of their new baby boy.

Isn’t he beautiful!  Let’s all rejoice and praise God with the Harriman’s.  The next step is to fly over to Rwanda and pick up their little boy…jp.jpg

New Anointing

Tonight during the Foursquare Convention Pastor Jack Hayford spoke from Psalm 92 beginning with verse 8:

8 But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.

9 For surely your enemies, O LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.

10 You have exalted (raised up) my horn (or influence)  like that of a wild ox(strong)
fine oils have been poured upon me.

11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,

15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

He spoke about how we need to always be open to a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That we must live dependently upon His Spirit all the days of our lives.  As we wrapped up our time together each person, or couple, was given the gift of a vial of anointing oil.  We gathered in small groups and anointed and prayed for each other.

I met a couple from the West Coast that just recently moved to Gettysburg, PA because they felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to move East.  We were able to pray for them to be refreshed and for a new depth of relationship to develop between them and the Lord as well as many new relationships to be birthed as they reach out to the new community that they are in.

I was prayed for as well.  Knowing that I am returning home to many decisions that need to be made and action steps that I need to take I asked for wisdom, discernment and boldness to do what needs to be done – no matter how hard.  If you are praying through these entries I would ask that you continue to pray for myself and Kim as we take the steps that need to be taken in our ministry with students at GCC and throughout Northern New England.

The way that the service ended just sealed many things that the Lord has been speaking to me over the past 7 days here in Israel and I am so refreshed and energized as we continue our time here on the tour and at Convention.  There’s lots to do when I get back home and I am charged up and ready to go!