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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Bible's Author

By Hope Ellen Rapson

The Bible’s Author from above
Revises me so I can love.
Not only Him, but also you
So together we might be true
To the plot, purpose, and design
He formed for us before all time.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

My God, My Redeemer (Psalm 49)

“No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him---the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough---that he should live on forever and not see decay.”  Psalm 49:7
“But God will redeem my life from the grave, he will surely take me to himself.” Psalm 49:13

Most Holy God,

Thank you for this reminder that humankind, like the beasts of the field, die taking nothing with them. It is so easy for me to depend upon myself, others, and my riches in this world, rather than You alone as my Redeemer. Forgive me!

Give me a greater understanding of my sins and failures, and your willingness to become vulnerable in Christ, to buy my salvation through suffering death on the cross in my place so that I might be gathered to you, even as the Lord Jesus is with you now. Give me the wisdom and strength to live here and now in humility giving you gratitude for all that I have, and giving you honor in all that I do. Thank you for the wonder promise that you will “gather” me to yourself when I die.

Worthy are You, my God and Redeemer! Amen

Related reading: Praying the Psalms

Praying Psalm 1: The Way of the Righteous
Praying Psalm 2: Kiss the Son
Praying Psalm 3: God is My Shield
Praying Psalm 4: Let Me be Approved of Thee, O God
Praying Psalm 5: Renew a Right Spirit Within Me
Praying Psalm 6: When Weeping Leads to Victory
Praying Psalm 7: The Basis of Boldness
Praying Psalm 8: Worship in Admiration and Humility
Praying Psalm 9: Hope for the Oppressed
Praying Psalm 10: Deliverance from the Wicked
Praying Psalm 11: The Foundation of Life
Praying Psalm 12: Lamenting the Lack of Godliness
Praying Psalm 13: Faith's Triumph
Praying Psalm 14: Remembering We Are Sinners
Praying Psalm 15: Fellowship With God
Praying Psalm 16: God-Pleasing Godliness
Praying Psalm 17: Progression Sanctification
Praying Psalm 18: God's Power to Deliver
Praying Psalm 19: Witness for Worship
Praying Psalm 20: Personal and National Revival
Praying Psalm 21: Worship and Thanksgiving
Praying Psalm 22: The Hope of Christ - The Prophetic Vision
Praying Psalm 23: Daily Living with the Good Shepherd
Praying Psalm 24: Inspired by Creation, We worship the Creator
Praying Psalm 25: Lifting up one’s soul while waiting upon God
Praying Psalm 26: God's affirmation of the Accused
Praying Psalm 27: Waiting on the Lord
Praying Psalm 28: Desperately Seeking the Lord
Praying Psalm 29: God's Glory and Power Seen in Nature
Praying Psalm 30: A Disciple's Heart Desire
Praying Psalm 31: Humbling Waiting on God
Praying Psalm 32: The Beatitude of the Redeemed
Praying Psalm 33: Prayer for National Revival
Praying Psalm 34: God Redeems
Praying Psalm 35: Friends and Foes
Praying Psalm 36: Finding Holiness in God's Presence
Praying Psalm 37: Trust in the Lord
Praying Psalm 38: The Suffering Servant
Praying Psalm 39: The Discouraged Disciple
Praying Psalm 40: The Sustained Servant
Praying Psalm 41: The Sick Servant
Praying Psalm 42: The Dry Disciple
Praying Psalm 43: The Questioning Disciple
Praying Psalm 44: A Dependent Disciple
Praying Psalm 45: A Disciple in Love
Praying Psalm 46: The Disciple's Refuge
Praying Psalm 47: The King's Disciple
Psalm 48: The Disciple's Stronghold

Sunday, June 21, 2020

God's Strategy for the Church

Alice C. Linsley

The book of Daniel provides a strategy for the Church when it is faced with hostility, violence, corruption, and idolatry. God's people are to "keep on keeping on" as a faithful witness to the truth of God's Word and to the power of Jesus' Name.

Daniel and his like-minded fellows exhibited that strategy. They were confronted with demands that they conform to an idolatrous system and they resolved to be steadfast in their faith, having a clear understanding of where the lines were drawn. They were thrown into the fire, yet this increased the power of their witness.

If we wish to avoid having our Christian witness compromised, we must know where the line is drawn and we must resolve beforehand never to cross it. For me, the line was the consecration of a gay non-celibate bishop in the Episcopal Church, Gene Robinson. That was the day I left ministry in the Episcopal Church.

God's strategy for the Church includes:

Addressing hostile authorities directly and with wisdom and tact (Daniel 2:14-16).

Asking God for discernment (Daniel 2:19).

Persisting even when it seems that God delays (Daniel 3:1-18).

Avoiding isolation, taking counsel, and praying together (Daniel 12:17-19)

They steadfastly resisted pressure, malicious accusations, and temptations to compromise. By following God's strategy Daniel and his fellows have been remembered as faithful witnesses who moved an unbelieving tyrant to proclaim the uniqueness and sovereignty of God. Daniel 3:26-29 gives this account:
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Christians must understand why we cannot follow the disobedient rulers of our day. They lead the flock astray. They devour and destroy. They pose as righteous, but their virtue signaling masks deceit and corruption.

Some Christians feel hopeless at times. We wonder what can be done to restore the saltiness to the Church?  Here are actions we can take:
  • Pray for our clergy, that their hearts and minds be guarded and directed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray that Christians may have a clear and fundamentally sound understanding of the Incarnation, the Cross, the Empty Tomb, and the Eternal Kingdom. 
  • Pray daily and keep a journal. Years later you can look back and see how God has answered your prayers.
  • Read the Bible daily and fix your heart on the truth of God's Word.
  • Be circumspect in your speech. The Devil loves a loose tongue.
  • Be cautious about who you associate with on a daily basis. Daniel's associates shared his commitment to the true God. They entered the furnace together. The hard side of fellowship with Christ Jesus is that the two or three gathered in His Name often find themselves in the fire. Yet He is present there, as many Christian martyrs have experienced.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ed Turns 90 today!

Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52)

Ed Lundwall, the founder of this blog, turns 90 today! Ed is a master of this house. He is still blogging and keeping the Faith.

Wish him a happy birthday. God bless you, Ed!

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr. is a former Army Chaplain. He and his late wife, Marionette, were missionaries for nine years. He holds a B.S., a M.RE, and a M.Div degree and is a freelance writer specializing in discipleship.

Related reading: Distinctive Discipleship Has a New Look; The Goal of Discipleship; Confirm His Calling

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Redemption: The Disciple’s Expectation

Hope Ellen Rapson

One of the last commands of Jesus to his disciples was, “Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)

In the context of his immediate arrest, trial, crucifixion, and burial, the Lord instructed them to “expect their redemption.” Christians often forget that this command was given not only to the twelve, but to all believers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
“Look up, you whose gaze is fixed on the earth, who are spellbound by the little events and changes on the face of the earth. Look up to these words, you who have turned away from heaven disappointed. Look up, you whose eyes are heavy with tears and who are heavy and who are crying over the fact that the earth has gracelessly torn us away. Look up, you who, burdened with guilt, cannot lift your eyes. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. Something different from what you see daily will happen. Just be aware, be watchful, wait just another short moment. Wait and something quite new will break over you: God will come.”

This is the promise of Jesus Christ; God is ever present and ever working to redeem his disciples. He promises redemption. It draws near. This is the disciple’s daily stance of faith. Always, look up!

Related Reading: True Disciples Watch For Christ's Return; Rabbi Kaduri on the Messiah's Identity

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Passionate, Patient and Faithful

Hope Ellen Rapson

These are troubled times. With the Covid-19 pandemic, economic hardship, political unrest, hunger, pain, wrongful death, looting and destruction, terrorism, fear, anger and depression surrounding us, it is difficult to keep one's footing. We walk hesitantly and question, “Is this a historical reset? If so, how do I live without normalcy or stability?”  

We find a clue in Revelation. 

Revelation 13:10 says, “Meanwhile, God’s holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.” 

Revelation 14:12 reiterates, “Meanwhile, the saints stand passionately patient, keeping God’s commands, staying faithful to Jesus.” 

In times of social, economic, political, and ecological chaos, God’s saints are to stand passionately and patiently in obedience to God’s Word and solidly faithful to Jesus Christ.

Whether the “time” bring us trouble or peace, we are to remember Who made time and Who controls time. Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation, but fear not! I have overcome the world!” 

Be passionately committed to the Gospel. Be faithful and obedient to the Lord regardless of the trouble. Stand your ground!

Related Reading: Overcoming Violence in the Land; Commissioned Means Giving Account; INDEX of Topics

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A True Conversion

"A true conversion is demonstrated by applying God’s promises in Christ." - Edward Lundwall

Becoming a new person in Jesus Christ means embracing and living on the promises of God. These promises are set forth in the Bible, made certain through the work of Jesus, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

The true disciple will study the Scriptures and be spiritually formed and informed by them. Churches that make disciples and bring them to maturity are churches that have made Bible study a high priority.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Our times are in Thy hand, O God

“Our times are in Thy hand; O God, we wish them there!

Our lives, our friends, our souls we leave entirely in Thy care.

Our times are in Thy hand, whatever they may be---

Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, as best may seem to Thee.

Our times are in They hand; Why should we doubt or fear?

A Father’s hand will never cause His child a needless tear.

Our times are in Thy hand; We’ll always trust in Thee,

Till we have left the weary land and all Thy glory see.” - William Freeman Lloyd

Related Reading: The Disciple's Refuge (Reflection of Psalm 46)

Monday, June 1, 2020

DD has a New Look.

This blog is the collaborative work of the Rev. Edward F. Lundwall, Hope Ellen Rapson, and Alice C. Linsley. We hope the readers like the new, fresher format of DISTINCTIVE DISCIPLESHIP.

Ed Lundwall is a former Army Chaplain. He and his late wife, Marionette, have three children, and five grandchildren. They were Baptist missionaries for nine years. Ed holds a B.S., a Master of Religious Education, and a M.Div degree. He has been a freelance writer specializing in discipleship. Ed hopes that the material posted at this blog will help readers mature as Christians and exemplify what it is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Hope Ellen Rapson recently retired after 56 years as a teacher. She taught English, Creative Writing, Logic, and Latin in private and public schools. She is a poet and holds a Master of Theological Arts from Columbia International University. Hope has served as the editorial consultant for the blog since it began in July 2013.

Alice C. Linsley is a freelance writer and Bible teacher. She holds a Master of Divinity and served churches in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. Alice manages the technical side of the blog.

In the weeks ahead, readers will find many interesting posts related to mature discipleship. We strive to inform, inspire, and speak the truth. Please become a follower and share the writings with your friends through Facebook and Email.

To peruse some of the topics formerly discussed, look at the INDEX.

If you wish to explore a topic more deeply, look at the articles linked under "Related Reading" at the end of each blog post.