I was drinking in the lyrics to a song the other morning as I was working out. I want you to consider the chorus of what I was listening to:
Sixty seconds now feels more like thirty
Tick-tock, won’t stop, around it goes
Sand through the glass sure falls in a hurry
All you keep trying to do is slow it down, soak it in
You’re trying to make the good times last as long as you can
But you can’t, man
It just goes too fast
(You can tell it’s a country song when it includes the words ‘tick-tock’!)
Over the last few months I’ve been thinking about time a lot. Birthdays… anniversaries…station of life…I read a book by Paul David Tripp called ‘Lost in the Middle: MidLife and the Grace of God’…and I’ve been thinking about time. The song is right, time goes fast. Danielle is off to Bible school for a year, this morning.
My mind has flashbacks: the day she was born…first time she pulled herself up in her playpen…racing around the United Church in Brigden on the way home for lunch and colliding on the other side full force when we met (it sent us both flying…her little body had a serious impact on my 200 lb frame!)…grade 8 graduation…overnights with friends…getting her driver’s license…and the list goes on.
I remember preaching a sermon when we were in Brigden and I made a comment that went something like this: ‘Danny is nine now and that means that we’re about half way there in the discipleship process.’ (The last ten years has gone way fast.) And in one sense the discipleship process is done but in another sense, it’s not. There will still be discipleship moments but it will change as our relationship has gradually changed over the last few years as we have gotten older. She will be off on her own but there will still be a discipleship relationship with us and my hope and prayer is that there will be someone to take up the reigns at the church that she plugs into in Toronto…and the next church that she’s a part of when she moves…and the next one when she settles down for the future. My hope and prayer is also that she will be a discipler of others.
Discipleship can take place in many forms. There’s the formal kind that most of us think of. Small groups and one-on-one discipleship or mentoring relationships are what many of us think of. But there is also the informal kind where a brother or sister comes alongside us with a word of encouragement, care, correction, comfort…the list goes on.
I don’t think I’m pulling the following verses out of it’s context to apply it to discipleship:
 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)
We need to be aware that life is short and we want to make it count for the gospel. We can apply that to evangelism and being busy using our gifts in the work of the church, for the glory of God, but I’d like to apply it to discipleship because I believe that discipleship is the foundation for evangelism and service.
We live in a church world of undiscipled people. (That is a bit of an overstatement but I believe that it is mostly true in North America.) Most hear a sermon on Sunday morning, which I’ll call pulpit ministry in light of Ephesians 4:11, but less experience the backup ministry of what I’ll call private ministry in light of Ephesians 4:15, where believers are to speak the truth in love to one another. I had a conversation yesterday where someone asked me how you confront someone when you see them drifting from the life of the church. My response was very carefully!
We live in a world and in a church world that is all about shout outs and little about confrontation when we see a fellow believer drifting. I have a pastor bro who has a long term member who is removing his membership and moving on to another church. His reasoning (really excuses) are based on his experience. One person said to him, in love, ‘so really you don’t have any biblical reasons for leaving’. That was a good firm word. We need to be able to talk that way to one another but in a world that coddles people, that’s a hard swim upstream…but it’s needed and necessary and biblical.
We have had encouraging moments with our kids but also many moments of correction. What a joy it is to see a child off track and when they’re confronted, they repent. Mom and Dad have had to repent a time or a hundred to their kids and to each other. But isn’t that the goal of correction? Someone is off track, they are confronted in love, they repent, and they get back on track?
Ephesians 4 lands in a particular direction as opposed to a destination. The results of ministry is to be moving in the following direction:
 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:13-14 ESV)
I long to grow in my faith and I think many believers do as well. One of the key ways it happens is through up close, one-to-one ministry. It’s hard, particularly during those tough moments of discipleship. But see some of the outcomes in the text above. Unity in the faith…growing up in the knowledge of the Jesus….maturity…theologically sound…all these things to the fame of God. May discipleship be a lifetime process for us all.
My hope for the church is that it’s a relational disciple-making machine. Brothers and sisters caring for one another in love through prayer, encouragement, and through confrontation rooted in the gospel.
I was at a church gathering not too long ago and I saw a dad pull his son aside. He had a brief, calm conversation with him. From a distant it looked like a discipleship moment. There is no doubt in my mind that that moment made God smile.