On Discipleship

The other night I was listening to Notker the Stammerer’s book, The Life of Charlemagne, on my Audio Books app.

In case you were wondering, the book is not narrated by Notker the Stammerer.

Notker died like twelve hundred years ago, they didn’t know how to digitally record audio then, and besides, I’m guessing from Notker’s name that he stammered. It was a difficult time.

So, I’m listening to the book and learn Charlemagne was discipled by Alcuin, who was discipled by Bede.

As a student of medieval history, I had heard of all three, but I did not know they were all connected by discipleship relationships.

Bede the Venerable, an English monk, was considered the most learned man of his time. He wrote nearly sixty books at a time long before typewriters, word processors, or the printing press. Alcuin of York was also English but became the leading scholar in Charlemagne’s court in Aachen (today, Germany) and through Charlemagne helped spawn the Carolingian Renaissance.

Of course, discipleship was not a new concept. Jesus discipled John, and John discipled Polycarp. Polycarp was martyred in 156 A.D. under Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, but was so cool in refusing to sacrifice to the Roman pagan gods, that we are still talking about his martyrdom 2,000 years later. Continue reading “On Discipleship”

Go And Be Famous

I had some business in California this week on two cases I’m handling. I planned it so the wife and I could spend a week in Palm Springs with two of our best friends in between the deposition in the one case and mediation in the other.

Palm Springs is a playground for the rich and famous. It’s warm year around, has beautiful scenery and more nice golf courses than any other place in the world.

If you’ve been to Palm Springs, you know one of the trademarks of the city is streets named after celebrities. There are streets named after Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Gene Autry and others. They are a constant reminder of who once lived and played here, famous people, people everyone recognized, people other people dreamed of being. They are gone now, but their street signs remain. Continue reading “Go And Be Famous”

What You Can Learn From Jesus’ Discipleship Of Peter

The daughter of a synagogue official had died. Jesus told the synagogue official not to be afraid but believe. Jesus then went to his house, taking only Peter, James and John.

When He arrived, the house was filled with people weeping and wailing. Jesus sent them all out except for His three disciples and the child’s parents.

Jesus then took the girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you get up!” Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. Jesus told them to give the girl something to eat and say nothing to anyone about what He had done. (Mark 5:35-43).

Continue reading “What You Can Learn From Jesus’ Discipleship Of Peter”

Disciple or Student?

The Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote, “…the road is long if one proceeds by way of precepts but short and effectual if by way of personal example.”  Seneca knew something about discipleship.  He was the tutor for the infamous Roman Emperor Nero.

He once told Nero, who was intent on killing everyone he thought wanted his job, “However many people you slaughter you cannot kill your successor.”  He was a smart guy.

Seneca understood what modern educators and many Christians have not: the difference between making disciples and merely conveying information.

Attending law school lectures day after day didn’t teach me how to practice law; at best it taught me how to think.  I learned how to practice law working under two fine attorneys and watching what they did. It was much more personal and a better education relationally, intellectually and ethically than I ever got out of a law school lecture.

A law school lecture to a class of 60 students is more expedient and seems more effective than one student being apprenticed by two lawyers.  However, just as symbols and metaphors convey information on many more levels than mere description, apprenticeship imparts more information more than class room lectures, or weekly Sunday sermons.

Jesus’ parting words are significant, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matt. 28:19).  Weekly sermons were never intended by the Master to be even the primary means by which Christians grew spiritually.

Jesus preached to the crowds to be sure, but He sowed His life into His disciples. Jesus wasn’t fooled into believing that if He just had bigger crowds He could achieve greater change.  Jesus went from town to town preaching, but His disciples were always with Him and it was to them He revealed the meaning of what He said to the crowds.

Jesus told His disicples, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables…” (Mark 4:11).  Jesus apparently wasn’t even that concerned that the crowds understood everything He said to them.

The disciples lived with Jesus, watched Him and learned from Him, and they would later disciple others, who discipled others, and so on and so on.

So, here is the question: Are you a disciple or merely a student? GS