Take Up Your Cross

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When reading this verse, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of what Jesus said to his disciples.  Today a cross is a religious symbol that is often used as a decoration or as jewelry.

However, to the disciples a cross was a symbol of death, torture, pain, suffering, fear, and humiliation.  A cross was used to execute people.  It resulted in a slow and gruesome death.

Jesus is making an extremely difficult request for all those who would follow him.  To complete this task, a person would need perseverance and dedication.

Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas

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This is an excellent book.  It’s practical and easy to understand.  Several times while I was reading it, I thought to myself this is great information.  I wonder why these principles are not being put into practice everywhere.

The authors wanted to solve a common problem.  Youth are leaving the church and rejecting their faith, once they hit early adulthood.

What are the root causes?

  • Having a pseudo-faith
  • Being immature in their faith
  • Being green in their faith
  • Using a borrowed faith
  • Being fragile in their faith

The goal is to raise children with a strong faith, an authentic faith.  Incorporating small groups and “leading small” cultivates that faith.  The book teaches, “When we lead small we simply make a choice to invest strategically in the lives of a few over time, so we can help them build an authentic faith.”

The small group leader (SGL) plays a huge role in achieving this goal.  The SGL needs to be present to connect faith to a community.  They should show up physically and predictably.  They should be mentally prepared for the lesson they are teaching.  They also need to show up randomly, maybe at a ball game or other event.  This shows the children you care about them and you are trustworthy.

The SGL is responsible for creating a safe place.  The children need a leader that can lovingly and effectively handle conflict, hard questions, discipline, fear, and other issues that cause tension in the group.  The SGL leads the group, respects the process, and guards the hearts of the children.

The SGL should also partner with the parents to foster an everyday faith and an authentic faith.  Let the parents know what their children are learning in small group.  Honor the parents.  Reinforce the role of the family in teaching biblical principles.

The SGL also needs to make it personal.  Inspire the children’s faith by example.  Show them how to live out their faith in the community.  Teach them how to set priorities.  Also, be real with the children.  They will learn by watching you live out an authentic faith.

Lastly, the SGL needs to move the children out of the group.  Engage the children in a bigger story.  Teach them how to be the church.  When the time comes, help them move onto the next phase of their life.

Leading small is powerful.  When you lead small you:

  • Connect authentic faith
  • Clarify authentic faith
  • Engage authentic faith
  • Nurture authentic faith
  • Inspire authentic faith

The principles in this book can easily be used for any age group and in any setting.  It is a great resource and I recommend it.

The Walk by Stephen Smallman

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I just finished reading “The Walk” by Stephen Smallman.  The book was easy read, yet full of valuable information.  It is designed to help people learn how to be a disciple of Christ.

A few of the main points:

  • A disciple is a follower of Jesus, not just in word, but in action as well.
  • The local church is essential for spiritual support, education, and direction for serving others.
  • Salvation comes when we repent and have faith in Jesus.  We turn away from our sin and turn toward Jesus.
  • We are justified or declared righteous by God and our sins are forgiven.
  • Sanctification is the work of God in us.  We are renewed in the image of God and strive to reject sin in favor of righteousness.

This book is a great resources for new believers or those who want to know more about Christianity.