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RickNotes: The Anatomy of a Disciple

I have been asked by countless people, “How would you summarize The Anatomy of a Disciple?” Here is how I might describe it to someone:

  1. Most Christians hear bits and pieces about the Christian life from sermons, books, blog posts, Facebook chatter and the like, but few could ever describe the dynamics of the Christian life. All of the things people hear and read about the Christian life are like puzzle pieces. The Anatomy of a Disciple is the box top that shows how all the pieces fit together into a beautiful, wonderful mosaic.
  2. God is working to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ, to become like Him, to become mature like He is mature. He is changing us, more and more, to be like Him.
  3. All the change in the life of a Christian begins with God initiating that change. It continues with God sustaining that life change, and God will complete it. It is so arrogant for us to think we can make ourselves like God. That is Satan’s aspiration: to make himself like the Most High God. God is the life-change agent, not us.
  4. God is working to change us, not to just modify our behavior so we will look and act more like Him. He is truly changing us at the core of our being to be more like Him, from the inside out.
  5. God begins by changing our hearts to be more like His heart. The heart is the seat of the essence of our being. It is the taproot that determines who we really are. It is the home of the Holy Spirit for all believers. God is working on our hearts so we will increasingly become more Humbly Submitted to Him as the Lord and Master of our lives.
  6. God is also changing our minds, through His Word and His Spirit, to increasingly have His perspective and understanding – of Him and ourselves, the world around us, life as He designed it, how we are different from Him and how He is changing us day by day. The heart and the mind form the core, the engine of all other life change. The core is the focus of God’s work to change us to be more like Him.
  7. As God is changing our hearts and minds to be more like Him, it will eventually start changing the choices we make in life. We will increasingly become more Sacrificially Generous, like Him, more Morally Discerning, like Him, and more Relationally Healthy, like Him.
  8. Also, as God is changing our hearts, minds and choices, that will impact our compassions for others in the world around us. We will increasingly become more of an Intentional Blessing to others in the world, like Him, more Culturally Engaged in the world, like Him, and practice more Inclusive Community, like Him.
  9. So if God is doing all this in our lives, what role do we play? Our role is not to replace what God is doing with our own efforts. What God does call us to do and helps us to do is to pay attention to where He is working in our lives and then get in step with Him and what He is doing. This is an act of faith – that God knows what He is doing.

That is the essence of The Anatomy of a Disciple. God is changing you to be more like Him in your heart, your mind, your choices and your compassions. Your role is to look for and pay attention to what God is doing in your life and get in step with Him. And when you mess up – and you will, because we all do – you admit it, lift your eyes up to see what He is doing in your life, and get in step now. That is the life of a disciple who is becoming more like their Master.

Why is Morality Changing in America?

Basic CMYK

There are so many things happening currently in the United States that are concerns: an escalation in the racial divide, growing immigration debates, gay rights disputes, political dysfunction and distrust, a tepid and yet volatile economy, and a decline in religious tolerance. All of these are very real and present issues that should be concerns for all Americans. But there is one subtle phenomenon that is of even greater concern to me than all these issues, because, if not checked, will impact all of these issues and more, making them worse.

What I’m most concerned about is a major shift in the moral foundation of our country. Morality has to do with determining what is right and wrong, but it is also rooted in something that guides it in that decision-making process.

America was settled centuries ago by those seeking religious freedom from nations, mostly in Europe, that had shifted their moral base away from the church and into the halls of the political elite. Determining what was right and wrong had moved from a quasi-biblical basis to the whims of monarchies and government officials. The result was a severe persecution of those who held the former moral base by those who had the new moral base.

Many fled to America with the hope of being able to re-establish an essentially Judo-Christian moral base for making decisions about what is right and wrong. This Judo-Christian moral base was essentially the Bible, and what it taught about right and wrong. Now skip to today in America.

Over the last 60 years, that moral base has shifted significantly in America, as it had in Europe centuries ago. Today we hear much discussion and debate about Supreme Court decisions legalizing such things as abortion and gay marriage. We are told things either are or are not Politically Correct (PC). But all of these more recent experiences are simply expressions of a national morality base that has shifted and continues to shift away from the Bible, and more to what might be called the “what feels good” base of morality.

The grave danger of this shift in our morality base is that the “what feels good” base is a clear shift away from God and His perfect design to mankind and his fallen nature. It is this shift in moral base that historically has led to “every man doing what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). For a glimpse of what this leads to in a culture, just read Judges 17-21.

This has been developing for several decades, but in recent years the floodgate has been opened and the raging waters of change are already beginning to sweep through our country. My deep concern stems from seeing the results of this morality base historically, but also from considering, “what’s next?”

Abortion is justified by what has been dubbed Pro Choice: the right of the mother to choose whether she wants to give birth to a baby that’s in her womb or kill it. We talk about a woman’s right to choose. What we are saying is she has the right to do “what feels good” to her in the moment, even if that means killing an unborn, living baby (see Psalm 139:13-16, for instance).

The Supreme Court has said we no longer need to follow God’s original design for marriage between a man and a woman (see Genesis 2:24, for instance), but we can do “what feels good” to us at the time, including gay marriage.

So with that logic from our new moral base, what can we expect in the future? Our American culture has opened up Pandora’s box.

Already we are seeing courts being told by defense attorneys that incest, pedophilia and even rape are justified, essentially because the person doing the act was just following the “what feels good” moral base. Incest, pedophilia and rape have been considered wrong in our culture because of our biblical moral base of the past. But with that being replaced by the “what feels good” base, there is no moral reason to not condone them in the near future.

One book publisher is already being sued for publishing a book – the Bible – which teaches against homosexuality and dares to call it a sin (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10, for instance). The “what feels good” morality base is challenging the biblical base of the past in open court.

It seems obvious to me this same reasoning will lead to churches being challenged for teaching against incest, pedophilia, bestiality, rape, polygamy and homosexuality from the Bible. How long before the PC police and courts step in and shut down churches altogether for teaching the Bible and its moral base? It has happened before. It is headed in that direction in American now.

I think it is time for Christians who still hold to a biblical morality base and haven’t been seduced into the “what feels good” morality base to do two things: first, stand for biblical truth unashamedly and secondly, pray that God would grant us peace in the midst of this mounting morality storm in our country.