Category Archives: Discipleship 101

A series of Blogs on the lost art of disciple making.

Do You Suffer from SMP?

A couple of days ago I read in the LA Times that according to Dr. Larry D. Rosen too much Facebook time may be unhealthy for kids, and teens & young adults who log onto Facebook constantly are more narcissistic. For years we have shared our positive opinions about social media sites like; Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and many others. But now we have to admit that there are also some negative consequences in the use of these sites.

Recently I noticed a disturbing behavior among frequent users of some of these social networks, a behavior I call Social Media Paranoia. The possibility is that you have noticed it too among some of your friends, or maybe you display some the symptoms of SMP yourself.

  1. You are preoccupied with unsupported doubts about friends, followers or subscribers of your page
  2. You have unfounded suspicions toward fellow users, and you believe that they are plotting against you
  3. You perceive comments made as attacks on your reputation that are not clear to others, and you quickly counterattack with comments yourself
  4. You read negative meanings into innocuous comments posted on the pages of other people
  5. You are reluctant to confide in others due to a fear that information may be posted within the next 24-hours on the world wide web

If you recognize any of these 5 points in your behavior or in others… It might be Social Media Paranoia. But what to do?

First you need to ask yourself if you spend to many hours on these sites, and if you do it would be wise to apply some self-discipline in this area. Start spending more time before His face, reading His Book, and spend quality time with real people.

Secondly if there is the possibility that any of your assumptions might be true, make quickly use of the delete option for your page, or the friend(s).

The Bible talks about a man, who did not use the social media, but King Saul definitely suffered of paranoia. His disobedience toward God caused him to be rejected as king, and Saul became delusional. Maybe the symptoms started with stomach aches, which kept him awake with all the worries that were bothering him. In the beginning David would play the harp for Saul, and it would give him a temporary peace, but even that did not do the job after a while. Having David around –a man after Gods heart– did not make it any easier for him, actually he felt threatened by his loyal servant. Saul saw a conspiracy in every situation and he started to display an antisocial personality disorder, causing even his own family to fear for their lives. Needless to say it did not end well with Saul.

Don’t let a tool that can be a useful, become a curse to the relationships God has blessed us with.

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Where will you be 5 years from today?

I love coffee, and every time I walk into a Starbucks (SB) to get a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte, I have to take a look at their non-coffee merchandize. You never know what kind of deals you find, like those nice coffee mugs for half the price. I guess those are the Dutch genes in me; we like to hunt for cheap deals, and we have the unexplainable habit to collect. This particular time I visited my local SB at the University Village in Los Angeles, opposite of the USC campus, and I noticed a certain book. Actually it was the question on the cover of the book; “Where will you be five years from today?” that caught my attention.

While waiting in line I opened the book to get a better look at it. The first question on the cover had me already thinking, but on the following page I read challenging words. Right there and then, it seemed like those words were spoken to me personally.

This is your life, your one-and-only life. Over the next five years, what do you really want to do? What do you really want to have? What do you really want to be? Where do you really want to go? There are no rules here. This is not a work book, it’s a play book. This is not a “here’s how” book, it’s a “why not?” book. So be daring, be bold and true to yourself!

“This is a perfect book for Robert”, was my second thought (Robert is a young man that I have known now for over 6 years, he is on fire for Jesus, and intentional in serving God for the rest of his life). With my regular order of TSVL, I bought a book for him, and of course one copy for myself. The next few weeks I drove to several SB locations to pick up an additional 5 copies to give away to men that play a very instrumental role in my personal life. If you find something good, make sure you share it.

This book has become my ‘play book’, I read it together with the Bible as a devotional ‘side kick’. I put notes, quotes, thoughts, pictures, dreams, and promises in it. But the most important thing I put on the first pages was Matthew 6:33; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” and Proverbs 16:3; “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

I want my life to be a journey, that turns into an adventure, which will become a mission; I desire to reach my full potential, to live a life of significance, to reach my destiny, to become all God wants me to be.

I hope you find yourself a copy and get one or more for those special people within your live, God Bless and Bon Voyage for the next 5 years of the rest of your life…

Note! This is a revised version from my blog ‘Where will you be 5 years from today?’ (December 30, 2008)

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“…this happens to be my seat!”

A few centuries ago when Christians came together to worship, people would stand during the service. The pews came later, and were either rented or purchased by church members. Pews were considered private property, and some people enclosed them in so-called pew boxes, or they created pews that looked different from the other pew sections in the church building. The purchase or rental of pews created an atmosphere of exclusiveness, even causing a conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church, as in the case of B. T. Roberts.

It is funny to see how territorial we still can get when it comes to the seating in our local churches. Some people claim ownership by putting their Bible, jacket, purse, pamphlet, or any other available item on a seat, whereby others actually think that an invisible sign marks the chair to show that this is their ‘place of honor’. We get requests from the habitual latecomer to save them a seat, or we are sitting comfortable in a pew, and someone tells us nicely, but firm; “…this happens to be my seat!”

I understand that going back to seat less services is not an option, and that most of us are not familiar with the pew deeds as they were in the 1800’s. However at times it’s good to hear that the P.E.W.S. are not just there so we can sit as comfortable as possible, but that they are a reminder of the true reasons we meet as the Church.

  • Prayer; We come together to pray for others, each other, ourself, and to pursue our relationship with God (Matthew 6:9-13).
  • Evangelism; We come together to hear The Great Commission, and our responsibility as the Church towards this world (Matthew 28:19, 20).
  • Sacrificial Love; We come together be reminded that we are called to love each other as He commanded us, and to put it into practice (1 John 3:11-24).

Let’s say more often“…this happens to be your seat.”


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10 reasons why to stay away from a vampire

Tales with vampires have always been popular among us mortals. We see this through the countless stories, novels, theater plays, TV series, and movies that have been dedicated towards this charismatic villain. Just think about the recent successes of the Twilight (series); over 85 million copies have been sold worldwide, and the books have been translated into 37 different languages. But regardless the popularity of Edward Cullen and many others, we all know that these blood thirsting creatures do not exist. At least I hope you do! The question may arise, why devote a blog on a folkloric being? Simply because I want to make you aware of certain individuals you might encounter (even in your local church) who have similar characteristics as vampires, and 10 reasons to stay away from them;

1. They are manipulative, and have the ability, in an almost hypnotizing way, to obtain their personal goals at the expense of other people, by using them. These individuals don’t act according moral values, a greater good, let alone godly convictions, but are…

2. Undead, meaning they are beings that are deceased yet behave as if alive. They do not have a purpose to life, nor a cause to die for, but they have an unsatisfying hunger.

3. A hunger that is fighting for its life, they are being Led by an urge, which is the motivating factor of their existence. They do whatever it takes to reach their goal, but when they don’t achieve what they desire, they snap…

4. and display a Lack of self control, and their true identity is revealed. They can become extremely angry, throw a tantrum, cry uncontrollably, or they can tell you for hours their so called problem over and over and over…

5. They suck the life out of you, and that’s how you feel after spending quite some time with them. You feel drained every time you interact with them because…

6. They don’t change, years go by and they still have the same problems, mindset, attitude, heart condition, they never grow up. Like our 104 year old Twilight friend Edward…

Isabella Swan: How old are you?
Edward Cullen: Seventeen.
Isabella Swan: How long have you been seventeen?
Edward Cullen: A while.

7. They have no reflection, and therefor they lack the ability to evaluate themselves, and to make the necessary adjustments in order to experience a radical transformation. All though their character seems unchangeable, they are excellent…

8. Shape shifters, and seem to be able to change form or identity at will. Their appearance, behavior changes like a chameleon changes its color. Their conduct shifts according to the environment, and company they find themselves in. They are actors, and in the New Testament they called them Hupokrites (hypocrite).

9. They can’t stand the Light, and avoid all situations where the possibility lingers to be exposed, or confronted. Their comfort is in the confinement of their self made ‘coffin’.

10. but the most frightening thing is that they can turn you into one of them, if you are not careful.

Unlike in the movies of Hollywood featuring this urban legend, there is no use in sprinkling these poor souls with holy water, putting garlic in their mouth, or even to drive a wooden stake through the heart. When it comes to these individuals you need a dose of patience and a lot of prayer.

Ephesians 5:1-14 (The Message)


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What To Do Now!?!

Did you ever find yourself in a place where you ask yourself this question over and over; “What to do now!?!” An ongoing mental condition, where that particular question is continuously repeating itself in your confused mind, not knowing what to do next. I have been in this state of mind a couple of times; tossing and turning during the night, and throughout the day the worries would faithfully continue. It is like being stuck in a room full with doors, and every door you open takes you to another room with doors. Uncertainty became that uninvited friend who would keep me company, showing me all my Options and the Opportunities I had, but never giving me the answer to that troublesome question: “What to do now!?!” Does this sound familiar to you, do you recognize yourself in it? Well, if you do, I have five tips that might help you when you suffer the above mentioned symptoms in seasons like this;

  1. Don’t Panic: I got this fortune cookie message in my wallet, which says; don’t panic. Not that I am the kind of person that looks for guidance in fortune cookies, but this one I have to admit was kinda special. Special enough to put in my wallet as a reminder, for moments when fear tries to take control of me, and temps me to make dumb decisions. You become like a person that is drowning, and in his panic no longer aware of his surroundings, even the help that is close by. It takes the life-guard to knock the person out to safe both of their lives, and I’m not waiting to be knocked out period!
  2. Pray: We can read the advise of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 6, 7; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. You might feel that you lost control of the situation, even of the direction that your life is heading, but remember this; God Is In Control! Never lose sight of this absolute; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The place were you find yourself in, might not be ideal, but with the peace of God it becomes easier to cope with, and it protects both the condition of the heart and the state of mind. Prayer puts you under the protection of God, and you prevent to ‘Three Five-ing It‘ which means to lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
  3. Call your Pastor: With this I refer not only to pastors, but also to godly people that are able to give you godly advise. Proverbs 12:15; The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. The reason I talk to my pastor is because, he is were I want to be, and he has been were I am at. The talks I have with him, really help me out a lot, they give me understanding, offer me insight, it makes me realize that I am not the only one experiencing this, and that I am not crazy. Take my advise in moments like these not to isolate yourself, and stay far away from people who can’t help you, or worst, join you in a panic attack!
  4. Write down the Promises: What are the promises God has given you? During times that I wonder what the future will bring, I take a piece of paper and write down all the promise scriptures God has given me so far. I look at them, read them over and over, and simply meditate on His promises for my life. Psalm 145:13 states The Lord is faithful to all His promises. I honesty can say that some of the promises I wrote down surely have come to pass, others will come to pass in His time. Seeing God’s faithfulness gives me the confidence that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). His promises are pieces of a puzzle, and putting them together gives you a glimpse of the future He has for you (Habakkuk 2:2, 3)
  5. Stick to the Principles: When you experience a time of uncertainty, it might seem logical just to take a shot in the dark. However, when the light goes on after shooting in the dark, you will notice that you added more damage to the situation, than that you actually solved it. In situations like these learn from Galatians 6:9; Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Just stick to the basics, keep on doing the things you are certain of that they are the right things to do, and you’ll be just fine.

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The Misery of Ministry

Luke 10:38-42

I love to disciple and train people in, and for the ministry. In doing so, an intentional habit is to impart valuable lessons I’ve learned through the years. Ministry has been extremely fun, challenging, adventurous and fulfilling for me, but I can also recall seasons where ministry seemed to be the cause of my agony. To be honest, at a certain moment I had to realize and to admit that it was my perspective and not so much the ministry that caused the misery. The truth was that I got distracted while doing the Lords work, I considered myself close to His purpose, not realizing how far I was from His presence.We might be able to keep the appearance for a while, but in the course of time we will suffer a severe burnout, and we should be able recognizing it before it is too late.

The Misery of Ministry becomes evident as we get distracted in doing ministry and we start to display 3 symptoms;

Complaining: This symptom occurs when we worry so much and are to busy looking at the problems; excitement becomes anxiety, worship becomes work and desire becomes duty. This is the part where our time, energy and even our finances are being used to fuel the drive to express our grief, pain, or discontent. We become so unpleasant to be around that slowly but surely even the closest people start distancing themselves from us.

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it. – Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Comparing: When people start avoiding us, and involve themselves in activities other then those that occupy us, our reaction is to get upset. We become so caught up with ourselves, that I and what I do become the object of importance, and everything -and everybody else is subject to it. We compare everybody in our surrounding with ourself, and expect them to become exactly like us; a hot tempered task oriented sourpuss!

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself – Max Ehrman

Controlling: In order to gain control we start to manipulate the authority which is placed over us and try to make them part of our team. We expect from our leaders, even from God  to make our urgency their priority. Our way of thinking has become; “It’s not what can I do for God, but what should God do for me.” We operate in a mode of despair, emergency to the point of panic, and we loose control of ourself.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. – Brian Tracy

When I start to recognize these symptoms within my own live, or when others make me aware of them, then it’s time for me to ‘step on the brake‘ and adjust my priorities. Always keep in mind, we can let ministry wait, but Jesus we should not! Ministry is servanthood and it was a servant’s work to attend the feet. Return to the feet of Jesus, to listen to what He says. There is so much that asks our attention and so many things required to be done, but only one thing is needed. We should chose what is better, and which can not be taken away from us. Ministry will always be there…

It is one of the ironies of the ministry that the very man who works in God’s name is often hardest to find time for God. The parents of Jesus lost Him at Church, and they were not the last ones to lose Him there. – Vance Havner, baptist preacher


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How do I start when it comes to discipleship?


Many people have asked me the question; “How do I start when it comes to discipleship?”
Personally I always look for discipleship principles in God’s Word: In this case the story of Elijah and Elisha. In working with people I also realized, that discipleship is not only hard work, but it includes a risk as well. Not everybody you work with turns into a success story. I discovered that there is no ‘waterproof’ formula for discipleship. You can however increase your success rate, by making sure that your disciple meets some of the criteria found in the story of Elijah and Elisha.

The first thing we need to understand is that we don’t pick our disciple, but it’s God’s choice. Elijah did not choose Elisha, but God had allready appointed him to become his successor (1 Kings:16).

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:4, 5

Secondly you need to take a close look at the candidate for 4 characteristics that you want your disciple to have or able to develop;

Work hard: You want to make sure the person is willing to work hard, there is nothing more draining than a lazy person. You use so much energy by pushing the individual and most of the time you end up doing the work yourself. Before you even consider working with someone like this, make sure they develop first some work ethics. Elisha was working as Elijah came looking for him, he was plowing (1 Kings 19:19).

Follow: A disciple needs to be able to follow the leader, and at the same time follow within a team setting. Can you imagine working with a Maverick, it will not only frustrate the leader but also the team. Elisha was following with his pair of oxen and worked together with eleven other drivers (1 Kings 19:19).

“In order to become a great leader,you first need to be a great follower.”

Sacrifice: There will be times where it is required to give up on things, making sacrifices for the greater good. My definition of sacrifice is; to give up something of value to gain something else of greater value. Elisha had to leave his Family and gave up his source of income to follow the Prophet in order to become a Prophet with the double anointing (1 Kings 19:21).

Serve: When Elisha’s time came as Elijah’s successor what was his reputation?
“Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11) After all the years of being with Elijah he was simply known as the attendant (1 Kings 19:21).

The third criteria is, that the person has to be able to make a choice to become your disciple, you can not disciple somebody that does not want to be worked with or does not know you are working with him or her. One time I was asking some of the guys I discipled; “So who do you disciple?” As they gave me a list with names, I approached these so called disciples. “Who disciples you?” was my question to them. After I compared both of their answers it was funny to see that the lists did not completely matched up with each other.

“You are not the leader unless they say you are the leader”


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