How many in here follow someone on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Imagine how much time has been spent following someone or something on TV, social media, sports, and the news.
All of us here are good people; there’s no doubt about it. May I ask…Do you follow Jesus? Have you put God as your priority? Do you read/study your bible? Do you sacrifice time or money to help others?
I hope I haven’t stepped on anybody’s toes. I bet you’re wondering if I am a follower of Jesus.
I can’t stand here and tell you that I’m a full-fledged follower, but I can tell you that life has taught me I am one of many, and people die every day. Things I would love to have, do not bring the joy I expected. I don’t judge others. Anger and unforgiveness poison my soul, and I love unconditionally. I do whatever it takes, whether it’s my job or not. I know that a small act of kindness can change a life. Listening is a skill that takes practice. I am known for my compassion for others. I am honest and loyal, and I strive for the title of integrity.
Hi, my name is Melinda Rindfleisch, and this talk is on Discipleship.
What is Discipleship? And what does it have to do with me?
Discipleship is the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit equips those so that we may overcome the pressures and trials of this life. Discipleship does not know everything there is to know about Jesus but having a relationship with Jesus and allowing Him to transform you into His image. Discipleship is living by faith in the everydayness of life by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
In the process of Discipleship, a disciple is born. A disciple gives their hearts to God in piety, their minds to studying, and are available to be God’s hands and feet to help others, known as Christian Action.
A true disciple will minister to others by sharing the Good News and is a full-time Christian who lives their life for Christ. Being a disciple prepares them to become a Christian leader, step out and stand up for Christ by utilizing their God-given gifts, and serve others. It’s not something they do; it’s a lifestyle. This lifestyle is to be willing to witness to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Sharing the love of Christ and how their life has been enriched. Also, listening to others and pointing out where they see Jesus working in their life.
Disciples make themselves aware of people and circumstances around them. They look for opportunities to witness, show empathy to others, take the initiative when they see a need, and practice ongoing generosity. A disciple has natural qualities such as having their priorities in order, direction, and discipline to follow Christ every day.
A Disciple has Spiritual Qualities.
Faith: Faith is not just believing in God but also believing that Jesus is the way and worth the risk of being an instrument of God. Humility is born when in a relationship with Jesus. Knowing that you are no better than anyone else is a humble trait. A true disciple knows that much can be done when no one is concerned about who gets the credit. Hope: Where our hope ends, hope in God begins. When others fail and want to give up, disciples persevere in the belief “that with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) Then there is love. Love is the willingness to sacrifice for well-being and knowing that everyone matters.
A disciple may look like someone who steps up to give money to someone who doesn’t have enough to pay for their groceries? Visits the sick or at least checks on them. They attend Sunday School and/or church regularly. Disciples help with most of the goings-on in their church or participate in the events? Here’s a good one…they tithe and take time to share what God has done in their life. These things are done out of love. God’s love is capable of accomplishing all things. Never underestimate what God will call you to do.
Several years ago, a mother was beaten to death with a baseball bat by the hands of her second husband. Two children from the first marriage, a daughter who was 15 and a son who was 13, were not at home at the time of the incident. A few years later, I met the two kids, and when I realized who they were, my heart melted. I had wondered who was loving on them since they were motherless and their biological father was in prison. I grew up without my mother due to cancer, so I could relate to being a motherless teenager.
By this time, the son was 17. He slept on our couch for a while one summer. During that summer, I had little chats with each of them. I was concerned about the young fella because I could see where he had been cutting himself. I asked him about the marks, and he told me, “The worst thing that could ever happen has already happened. “When I cut myself, it takes away the pain in my heart for just a little while.”
My husband was summoned to be a possible candidate for this murder trial that summer. The case turned into a plead of insanity. On the day my husband was scheduled to be in court, the judge had him escorted into the courtroom along with others. He witnessed each family member tell this man how his insanity impacted their lives.
There was hate and anger in that courtroom. When the kids we had come to know got up to say what they had to say, my husband could no longer hold back the tears. He was proud of how they used appropriate language and held themselves together. The kids did not know he was in the courtroom. He waited outside to see them before he left. He explained why he was there, gave them hugs, and said,” You know where we are if you need anything.” The two kids beat Tom home that day and told me all about it.
Well, life went on. We heard about the trouble the fella was getting into. Before we knew it, he had a son, then a daughter, and we eventually lost touch. A couple of years went by, and we heard that the fella was in prison. The mother of the children was moving back to town and needed help. By then, there was another little girl in the mix. She called on my son to help her move into an apartment complex with a history of crimes. My son helped her get moved in, and all was well—the End. I’m just kidding….It was just the beginning.
There was little Johnnie, who was 4; Betty Lynn was 3, and Serenity was 2.
Several months went by, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with these kids. My son hung around and helped her out a lot. Getting the kids to school, Dr. appointments, and so on. Before we knew it, this girl became pregnant with her 4th child, thanks to our son. I was not happy to hear the news. I kick myself at times because I missed out on the joy of coming one of the grandest jewels in my life.
Eventually, this girl lost the apartment and had nowhere to go. Yep, this little family lived with us for two years. 2 LONG years. Now, here’s the thing. I was an only child. I had an only child. Needless to say, those two years were nothing but chaos.
The mother of these children will be 25 this month. God bless her soul. She grew up without her mother and learned to fight and defend herself. I couldn’t imagine being so young and having so much responsibility on my shoulders. It seems that she goes through the motions of day-to-day life with little if any sparkle in her eyes. When looking at this situation, most people see nothing but hopelessness, but one thing is for sure, God does not make mistakes!
Eventually, this fella was released and still struggles to get through life. There is a lot of turmoil between the kid’s parents. They are only kids themselves.
We all managed to survive somehow. The kids loved going to church. All we did was give access to our lives, family, arguments, parenting, dinners, recreational activities, and even our failures. Never underestimate how God can and will use you.
I am a better person today because of the long-term investment we made. We had the opportunity to plant many seeds that season and someone else will come along and water them. Yes, we still get to see the kids, and I continue to wash their clothes and give hugs and kisses when I see them.
My conclusion: God prepared our hearts years ago to love those rowdy, messy, cuddly little rascals. God can take all this chaos and make a beautiful, unbelievable, incredible life story worth living and sharing. I can only pray that God will get the attention of those young parents and awaken their spirits. May this testimony give others the courage to do what you think maybe impossible.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for the Gospel and me will save it” (Mark 8:34-36)
If you will, close your eyes and imagine or visualize what I am about to say.
You take a walk one day, and the ground under your feet starts to crumble. There was a gap between you and getting back home when it was over. You fall to your knees and call out Jesus’ name. You ask why is this happing? What am I to do? Standing there before you is Jesus on the other side of the gap when you stand back up. He is bloody, his eyes swollen, and wearing the crown of thorns. It looks as if He just came down from the cross. You can see the lashes and deep gashes in his flesh. Jesus calls your name and asks,” Do you trust me?” You say “Yes,” of course. He lifts his arms to heaven and says, “Father, Hallowed be Your Name ~ Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus lays down, stretches his arms over to your side of the gap with his feet on the other side, and says,
” Walk across my back.” What do you do? Will you walk or exclaim…there has to be another way? Then you notice that Jesus is struggling to breathe. He seems to be straining to hold on. It’s your only chance for survival. So, you take a step, and he cringes. You look down and see every lash he took for your sin. You continue to take steps on his back until you are completely across. When you turn around, there stands Jesus healed and smiling. Now take a deep breath. How do you feel? You can open your eyes now. I want you to take the time to examine yourself tonight. Look deep inside at the life you have lived up to this point. Where does Jesus fall on your priority list? Are you headed in the right direction? Are you aware of the needs in your community? How many opportunities have you missed to tell someone about the love of Jesus? What will it take for you to take the initiative to meet a need or practice generosity? God loves you, Jesus died for you, and Holy Spirit is here for you. Don’t be afraid to live the life Jesus died for you to have.