Miles from Birmingham
Have you ever been rung out, like a dish towel, leaving it all on the line only to stare at another opportunity to serve God's people? I was there. I had nothing left to give, not even a drop left in the dish towel of my soul. Yet, I had an opportunity! I had spent a phenomenal week with the 2014/2015 class of Precept Ministries Entrust: disciple-making school. Phenomenal doesn't even begin to describe the joy I was able to experience as I saw these saints in action. It's another blog post altogether, but suffice to say that it is rare for calling, opportunity, and vocation to seamlessly intersect in such a cohesive way.
After a full week with Entrust students, followed by dinner, we referred to as the "Last Supper", three men embarked upon a short trip from Chattanooga to Birmingham.
A photo posted by ENTRUST Disciple-Making School (@entrustprecept) on
The cast of characters was ragtag at best -- the van-dwelling videographer, Cameron; the disciple-making Entrust student who moonlights as an IT professional, Andy; and a short, stout, and spent Italian, yours truly. Our trip began with windows down in downtown Chattanooga, blaring out a playlist from resident music aficionado Cameron. The list may or may not have included Shanai Twain, Mariah Carry, Shovels and Rope, and Nirvana! Since I was already wrung out, it was such grace to have these men traveling to Birmingham with me.
Up and early, espresso con panna in hand, we arrived at the church. As the training started, I tried to set the stage to everyone in the room that if they are a child of God then they are:
- A disciple and
- A disciple-maker of other disciple-makers
They introduced themselves by emphasizing this identity. “Hi, my name is ___________ and I’m a disciple-maker!” This particular workshop is for leaders also, so I asked them to tell their tables where they were called to make disciples. As I walked around the room, eavesdropping on the conversations, I was so excited! We had a group of ladies from a live-in addiction recovery home for women, a group of high school teachers, a group of folks from an Army base, and on and on. It was going to be a great day! I posted more pictures from the training below.
Within the training I introduce inductive study to people who are already leading Bible studies or discipling others. Through the end of our three hours together, these leaders not only see inductive study in action, but they also roll their sleeves up and get a little taste of digging into the Word for themselves and sharing the Word with others. For this particular workshop, we talked through portions of 1 Thessalonians. It had an eerie camaraderie between Thessalonian's sufferings and the recent news stories of our brothers and sisters throughout the world that are both suffering and dying for the sake of the gospel. The Spirit was all over our time together, making application from 1 Thessalonians to our hearts and increasing our love for Jesus; which, by the way, is the point of Bible Study.
As the workshop continued, I was so encouraged to hear so many stories. While I can’t share them all, I’ll share three of them with you.
First up - A young lady was attending the workshop with someone that had discipled her. They were coming so that they could learn how to disciple women with God’s Word in their local recovery ministry. They were all over it. The younger woman had been through the discipleship program. Her eyes lit up as she was practicing leading, realizing what life and hope she could give to the ladies. At the end of the workshop, she said, “I am so excited that I’ll be able to not only share the Word of God with these women, but share it in a way where they are learning how to get into the Word for themselves! What hope I have to give to them is through Jesus, so as they get into the Word my prayer is that Jesus would get into them!” The relationship between these two women that were serving together really sparked some excitement!
Second, a husband and wife team who were affiliated with the local military was all over it as well! The guy was pumped that men of God wanted to get into the Word of God. He and I had a great conversation about biblical manhood and the difference between the masculinity seen in the Word through people like Paul, Timothy, and Jesus and then those that he had come to know that professed Christ, but were timid and cowardly. He asked which study would be best for him as he tried to share the gospel with “raw, real, and in your face” men on the base. By God’s good providence, I was able to introduce him to Andy Nickel, one of our Entrust students. They talked shop. We all talked 2 Timothy. I can’t wait to hear more from this guy!
Finally, there was a Precept Upon Precept groupie at the workshop. I affectionately call these folks “Precepticons” because they love their colored pencils, highlighters, and Greek Word Studies. After the workshop was over, this lady came up to chat. She confessed that she never thought this 40MIN thing was “worth a hill of beans!” The 40MIN is a series from Precept Ministries that starts people on the journey of the Precept method of inductive Bible study. She said that she liked to go deep and that she didn’t want others to miss out. She begrudgingly came to a similar training, an Inductive Study Marathon, where students go through an entire 40MIN study. She said that it was okay, but after this short three hour training that she needed to ask for forgiveness. She said that she just didn’t get it before, but now she got it! She was thinking about Bible study being for her, but she realized that what she learned she had the responsibility and joy to share with others. What’s great is that I saw her connecting with the ladies from the recovery ministry, asking how she could get involved in discipling and sharing with others!
I share these as an encouragement for you. Do you feel, as I did, completely wrung out, nothing left to give. Sometimes in those moments we are given a vacation or a time of solitude, but other times, the Lord calls us to be His vessel to minister in our emptiness in order to be filled and encouraged in our faith, just as I was in working with the amazing team in Birmingham. What an amazing thing the Lord is doing through them in the Greater Birmingham Area for the sake of the kingdom of God! Check out more Precept Training Workshops, coming to a city near you OR, new to inductive study? Try out our free Precept Online Training Class.