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“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1

Mike and Chenelle teaching the first class of the Spring Semester of the International College of Christian Ministry

Running track in college and high school, it was always interesting to see those who quit early on. The workouts would destroy them, stopping in the middle of the runs and possibly throwing up. The strength wasn’t available (whether physically or mentally) to continue. You had to be strong mentally and strong physically to be able to have the endurance to win a race. The same is true of our Christian walk, we must have an inner strength to handle the training that comes in our discipleship. Paul tells the younger evangelist he discipled Timothy to be strong in the grace. Later, he would remind him that the scriptures are to be used for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Unfortunately, the training can crush a Christian who is not strong in the grace just as much as a track practice would crush someone who is not strong in their cardio. Paul understood that Timothy had to have an inner strength and security that only came in Christ Jesus and we need to grasp this as well.

Disciples of Jesus who are not strong in the grace often experience worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:8-11) instead of Godly sorrow when they fail. Negative self-talk fills their minds. This vicious form of selfishness turns your own soul into a victim and away from the grace of God. Discipling from mature brothers and sisters makes the worldly soul feel not good enough, threatened, criticized, or even suspicious of the discipling. An over-sensitivity plays out in the soul as they feel personally attacked. Certainly, athletes could choose to respond this way to a good coach admonishing and pushing them. Is something wrong with the coaching or the discipling? No! It is a foundational issue- the soul is not secure and strong in the grace. Paul would tell Timothy to join with him in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3-4)! A soldier has duties, expectations, and commands he must obey. Yet before Paul would tell Timothy any of this, he said be strong in the grace! There are three keys to becoming internally strong in God’s grace that is in Christ Jesus based on Ephesians 3:16-19:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

I. In Your Hearts Through Faith

The apostle Paul prays that his church may be strengthened in their inner being. This is done by allowing Christ to dwell and to be king of your heart. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. Faith is the conviction and assurance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Our faith is the anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19). Before becoming Christians, our hearts were broken by our own sins and the sins of others. So many grow up without one of their parents not receiving the love intended from their families to create wholeness inside. For me personally, my biological father took his life when I was seven and I never personally knew him. My adoptive father and mother eventually divorced and being in a military family coupled with the divorce I moved many times as a kid. The constant insecurity of my home life created a deep insecurity inside of me. Even after becoming a Christian it was easy to transpose this on my church family. After becoming Christians, we quickly find out that even in the church we will sin against each other. What we need is assurance, security, and conviction. Praise God, he is the perfect father and leader of the church. Faith is believing the unseen even against how we feel. Over time I had to learn to believe God was my rock, a name used for God many times in the Psalms representing security and immovability. Faith sees the sovereignty of God; everything that happens either God makes happen or allows to happen. We can trust because of God’s word that Christ is dwelling in our hearts and have assurance that in all things God is working for us (Romans 8:28). Strength and security comes from an assurance of God’s ever-present hand in all life’s situations. Decide to believe Christ dwells in you and is always working for the good of those who love him.

II. Rooted and Established in Love

Only God has unfailing love while man’s love often fails us because of sin. The Bible says that what man desires is unfailing love (Proverbs 19:22). In the world we looked for this in approval at work, grades in school, affirmation in relationships, living up to family expectations, sex and drugs, etc. These left us desperately empty leading us to the love of Christ. His unfailing love wooed us into his amazing kingdom. Once a seed is planted and starts to grow, it isn’t automatically deeply rooted in the ground. It must continue to grow its roots. After becoming a disciple, we must continue to grow deeper in our knowledge of God’s love for us. This takes faith since our God is normally unseen. If we look for this love to be met primarily in the church, you are once again looking for a group of people who still have sin to meet a need that only God can meet. Therefore, when your discipler challenges you in your character it can be crushing. You are looking for assurance from man and not from God. In fact, biblical love often involves a hardline rebuke. Jesus told the church in Laodicea, Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline (Revelation 3:19). A deep conviction that God loves you is needed to be trained through discipleship to experience God’s plan for our lives. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t expect each other to love as Christ loves (John 13:34-35) but we need to understand we are all working on becoming more like Jesus every day. We need to fundamentally trust one another as love always trust, believe in one another as love always hopes, and that those who are training us have our best interest as love always protects. And where their love is imperfect or not communicated the right way, we have a heavenly father we can rest secure in that is totally in control and passionately loves us.

III. Together With All the Lord’s Holy People

After deciding by faith that Christ dwells in the heart and growing in our understanding of how much God loves us; a power is unlocked where together with all of God’s people we can experience the fullness of Christ! The glue of our relationships is love. People who don’t feel loved don’t treat themselves or others right. I am convinced that those who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, and pornography really have a very low view of themselves. They need God’s redeeming love. When we receive God’s love we can show it to others in a powerful way. Imagine a church were everyone was grasping the love of God! What would the discipling be like? What would the fellowship be like? Paul is on his knees praying for the church (Ephesians 3:15) to grasp who wide and long the love of God is. He is together with all the Lord’s people. Do you pray for your brothers and sisters? Do you get on your knees for them begging God to strengthen their inner being? Paul understood how essential this was. Without it, we can never move forward in Christianity. We need to strive to be together seeking to understand God’s love. There is power in the church to strengthen you in God’s grace. When we are together, we can rest secure that our relationships are not based on our performance but on the blood of Jesus which we all desperately need daily. Then we can push each other in our performance to be our best for Christ but there is a security knowing that God has our back and as family we have each other’s back when we fail. Two of my favorite track coaches were Coach Hunt and Coach Rankins. They helped me excel in track and I wanted to do my best to make them proud along with my dad. Coach Hunt let me use his classroom for my high school Bible Talk and Coach Rankins was my middle school history teacher, track coach, and in high school my summer track coach. He also was a disciple in the church!  I share this to say, that I was secure and trusted they had my best interest because of what they did for me. This allowed me to receive the coaching, the demanding work outs, and to be pushed beyond what I thought I could do. Together with God’s people we must do this spiritually for one-another.

Will you decide today through faith to believe Christ is in your heart, to be rooted in God’s love, and together with God’s people to allow the Spirit to strengthen your inner being? Ask God for help today and practice receiving and even seeking out discipling trusting that God is working for your good.

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“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Love is in the air at the Boston International Christian Church! Congratulations to our newest married couple Joe and Amelia Mack! Also to our engaged couples Peter Markarian and Jessica Polum and Andre Carreo and Mara Eagen! Finally, congratulations to the newest dating couples in the church Jackie Gomes and Aradhna Masih and Gianni DiFusco and Skyla Eastman. Do you feel the love?

 

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Joe proposes to Amelia at church!

 

With so many new dating, engaged, and now a married couple, it could be tempting as a single to ask “when is it going to be my turn?!” Certainly, disciples of Jesus have the conviction that disciples date and marry only disciples (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Yet even in the church, we can struggle on how to spiritually go about pursuing an interest in someone we like and desire a dating relationship with. Satan can even take things further when we allow feelings of jealousy, impatience, and lust fill our hearts. The scripture above shows that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. The condition is that we delight in the LORD! God needs to be first. God must be our ultimate desire. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25). God must be our great reward (Genesis 15:1). Jesus commanded us to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. When you come into the kingdom, you must put away old worldly ways of dating and be completely humble to learn to date in a way that glorifies God. How do you begin a dating relationship in God’s kingdom? Here are a few biblical principles.

  1. Patience

“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Genesis 29:20

Biblical love is long-suffering, willing to wait, and patient. Patience is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When someone is impatient, they are not qualified to date in God’s kingdom. Unspiritual impatience shows itself in many ways. It is not submissive to advice or input. Idolatry of dating itself or of the person is the root of impatience. The impatient brother or sister wants what they want right away. They are not at peace if someone tries to get in their way or encourages them to slow down. The question must be asked, why would someone not be willing to wait if advised to? The phrase “wait on the Lord” is used so many times in the Bible. Time allows what is in the heart to be revealed so that a proper foundation can be built. Are you willing to wait on God to make clear to you when it is time to start pursuing the brother or sister that you have an interest in dating? How does God do this?

  1. Advice and Community

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

 

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Jackie & Aradhna start dating in God’s kingdom!

In Biblical times when someone desired to marry, they sought the blessing of the community. Usually, a bride price was paid. In 1 Samuel 18:24-29, Saul (God’s anointed and yet evil king at this point) conspires to get David killed by sending him out to fight the Philistines. He tells David he will give him his daughter Michal if he brings back 100 Philistine foreskins. David trusted his God was bigger than men’s motives and submitted to God’s anointed leader. He came back with 200 foreskins and married Michal! David could submit to Saul’s direction (though ill-motivated) because he was submitted to God. The story of Jacob serving fourteen years under Laban who lies to him and takes advantage of him serves as another example of this principle (Genesis 29). The point is, you cannot stop God’s plans. If God desires you to be with someone it will happen, but you must remain submitted to leadership (Hebrews 13:17) and seek tons of advice. In the church, we strive to follow the biblical principle of seeking the blessing of the community. Everyone has a discipling partner as commanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:20) and we should seek tons of advice when it comes to making moves in pursuing a dating relationship. This helps guard hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Can you make your own decisions without seeking and submitting to advice? Absolutely! Will God bless it? Probably not. Remember, the way of a fool seems right to him. What stops someone from getting advice? Pride, and we know pride always comes before the fall. Consider these verses if you need to gain deeper convictions on seeking advice: Proverbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20,  and 20:18. Decide today to seek the blessing of the community by seeking advice and submitting to leadership (Ephesians 5:21).

 

  1. Absolute Purity

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Ephesians 5:3

 

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Andre proposes to Mara!

 

The Bible teaches that we should treat our relationships as we would our own physical family, with absolute purity. If you are single in the congregation, do you in your interactions, physical touch, and in your heart, treat the opposite sex as your own physical sibling? I am very grateful to God that my first kiss and intimacy was with Chenelle (and in my life ever since I was baptized at 13 as a teen) when I was married! Maybe you can’t say that, but I want to encourage you; if you are in Christ, God sees you as a pure virgin! Chenelle’s white dress meant something since we strove for purity in our dating relationship and prior to dating. There were many shortcomings we had and times we were too close emotionally and physically but we would quickly confess and not allow it to go that far. It is complete foolishness to think you can handle being alone with the opposite sex. Paul admonished the church to make sure there is no hint of impurity. It doesn’t even have to be the act, but if it just smells or looks like it, it is a sin in God’s eyes. In the church, we encourage everyone to go on double dates. Singles should never be alone with the opposite sex to fulfill these verses. It isn’t about whether we trust each other or not, it is that we don’t trust Satan! He is a schemer and wants to take you out of the kingdom. More people fall away from God because of sexual sin. Emotional impurity can also be a huge challenge. Late night texting, flirting, talking about marriage, or spending undue amounts of time with someone does not produce a pure heart. We need to welcome correction and accountability in this area. Paul expected the church to hold each other to God’s standard of purity. Do you have absolute purity in your relationships with the opposite sex? God will only give his daughters and brothers to men or women of God he trusts.

  1. Date Often

“See to it, brothers and sisters that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13

One of the most exciting parts of our church culture is “Kingdom Dates”. The Bible tells us that we need encouragement to prevent our hearts from becoming hardened by sin’s deceitfulness and eventually unbelieving! The brothers in the church are constantly tempted with the immodesty of the world and our sexualized culture. The sisters constantly get hit on and flirted with by men in the world. As brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to encourage and protect one another. Kingdom dates are Saturday evening (or another convenient evening) where two brothers will ask two sisters on a date (or vice versa) and go out on a fun double date to encourage one another. There is nothing romantic about it or it doesn’t even mean there is a mutual romantic interest. The goal is to have an encouraging time and get to know the brothers and sisters in a pure environment. Christians need to learn to develop spiritual relationships with the opposite sex and unlearn the ways the world taught us to build relationships. Maybe you found a sister or brother that you want to start dating. Be patient, seek advice, be pure, and finally date often! That may seem strange if you like someone specifically, but love is totally selfless. Dating different brothers and sisters show you are concerned with all of God’s family being encouraged. I personally do not encourage my blessing to start dating in the church if the brother takes the same sister out that he likes every week. This shows a selfish heart which will hurt him later if things progress to marriage. If you have not wanted to go on kingdom dates with different brothers and sisters. I want to challenge you to repent and love your brothers and sisters. This also allows you to grow spiritually and see different qualities in different people to make a wise decision on who you want to date.

 

Gianni & Skyla started dating in the kingdom and powerfully lead our AMS ministry!

These are all just principles to delight in the LORD so that he will give you the desires of your heart. At the end of the day, you can make your own decisions and don’t need the blessing of the church to date if you take the unspiritual rout, but as the old saying goes, you will have to make your bed and sleep in it. After counseling many relationships and seeing the devastation that comes from not following these biblical principles, I encourage you to really consider the way you are going about pursuing a relationship in God’s kingdom. Talk to your discipler today and seek tons of advice and watch God give you the desire of your heart.  To God be the glory!

 

In Christ,

Mike Patterson

 

Help Keep Our Ministry Alive!

Go to this web site to donate to our special missions contribution! We have put together a slide show displaying how God has used Chenelle and I in the past and currently to bring the gospel to today’s generation.

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TEST

  • Write down “Discipleship” study scriptures in order
  • Draw the diagram from the Existence of God study with a point for each triangle
  • Write yes or no if you are caught up on the reading

LESSON: “HEART TRANSFER DISCIPLING”

Introduction- Effective discipling is the ability to transfer your heart into another man. It requires trust, humility, and friendship.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-12

1. Discipling is based off relationship and not title/role (1 Thess. 2:6-8)

  • It wasn’t a burden but a joy. They delighted in sharing the gospel with their disciples.
  • Discipling requires mother like care. Are you gentle? Do you have this type of relationship?
  • Discipling involves “sharing your life” not just the word. Openness breeds openness.
  • Mark 3:13-19- Jesus defined the discipling relationship with a role, yet Jesus’ even understood family/trust is built by calling his disciples to be with him.
  • Mark 3:31-35- Already, Jesus called them is family. You must strive to be closer to your disciples then even physical family. These most likely were the twelve he called to be with him and from the get go he had this deep of relationships!
  • Philippians 2:19-24- Paul transferred his heart to Timothy! A selfless heart…what will you transfer?
  • GO AROUND: Have everyone answer the question “would your disciples say they have this type of relationship with you, why or why not?”

2. Discipling involves daily work (1 Thess. 2:9)

  • They worked a secular job as to not require money from their disciples and still cranked their discipling relationships.
  • Colossians 1:28-29– Goal of discipling: Present each other perfect in Christ. How to disciple someone: a) Look at Jesus b) Look at your disciple c) See how they compare d) create a bible study on the areas they need inspired on to be like Jesus.
  • It takes labor and reliance on God’s power daily.
  • Daily admonishing, teaching, and laboring.
  • Jeremiah 48:10– laziness curses our discipling relationships. Must know how to handle the sword (Bible). This is the reason we have all these test so you can effectively use the scalpel in your d-times.

3. Discipling requires a worthy example (1 Thess. 2:10)

  • They had a confidence in their example and could make such a statement about their holiness, could you?
  • 1 Timothy 4:11-16- EXAMPLE backs your discipling just like love and trust do. Are you excellent in your speech, faith, love life, purity, etc.? How can you disciple someone in these areas if you aren’t strong in them?
  • Cory Blackwell would always say “your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear what your mouth is saying.”
  • Discipling involves commanding and teaching. A great discipler knows when to do each.
  • Must devote yourself to reading and teaching. It is the ONLY way to get better. There are no shortcuts. If you are devoted to video games more then reading or teaching you will get the results you keep getting ministry wise.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:14-17– Example produces exact representation. Paul produced Timothy because he had transfered his heart into Timothy. Part of being a great disciple is imitating those who disciple you. You can’t just wait for d-times but you must watch your discipler (ie how they respond to people, how they fellowship, how they preach, how they study the bible, etc.).
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1- Decide today to call your disciple to follow your example.
  • Mark 1:14-18– Notice in this familiar passage that when Jesus called these guys to be his disciples, he had a plan for them…to be fishers of men. The point is, he was taking them somewhere. Making them into something. This is what moves the kingdom of God.
  • DISCUSS: What are you making your disciples into and what is your plan for them?

4. Discipling moves the kingdom (1 Thess. 2:11-12)

  • A good father helps his kid grow up. He moves him somewhere.
  • How do you move your disciple? a) Encouraging b) Comforting c) Urging
  • Jesus moved the disicples to be fishers of men.
  • Matthew 11:12- Are you forcefully advancing your disciples so that the kingdom is being moved?

D-GROUP

  • Honestly talk about how the discipling relationships are going.
  • Disciple one-another and come up with a plan for every person in the ministry on where you are taking them.

HOMEWORK:

  • Old Testament Tabernacle assignment (Tabernacle Assignment)  (NOTE: I did this with the whole ministry for Bible/Real Talk and it went amazing, but I had the leaders in my discipleship d-group/class lead the groups)
  • Listen to Kip lead the Kingdom study and memorize the dates/along with the passages.

Hell is a dreadful place prepared for those who rebel against God. Learn about the place those who don’t have go will spend an eternity in and also you will be surprised to learn there are some things in Hell that actually should be in the church!