Tim Brister

Tim Brister

Tim Brister has served as a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church since June 2008. Tim's passion is to demonstrate a life that trusts God, treasures Christ, and triumphs the gospel. Tim is the Director of PLNTD, a church planting network in association with Founders Ministries. He's also the director of The Haiti Collective, organizer for Band of Bloggers, and creator of P2R (Partnering to Remember) and the Memory Moleskine.

You can read more about Tim on his blog, Provocations and Pantings.

To Be Gospel-Centered, You Need the Holy Spirit

If you believe in the centrality of the gospel, you know that the good news of Jesus Christ is not just the door to the Christian faith, but it is the entire house. It is not only the entrance point but the pathway on which we walk our entire Christian life. Therefore, the journey of the Christian experience is growing more and more in the gospel.

There has been some discussion and even debate as to whether all the talk about the power and centrality of the gospel is neglecting the power and necessity of being filled with the Spirit. Are we talking about the gospel to the neglect of the Spirit’s working in our lives? Are we substituting the gospel for the Spirit when explaining how we operate as Christians in the world? I think those are valid questions, and I want to briefly attempt to answer the question in this post.

I am convinced that the overarching purpose of the Holy Spirit in the world is to magnify Jesus Christ. One of the most fundamental ways to know if you are filled with the Spirit is whether Jesus is being magnified and glorified in your life. That’s what the Spirit does. Jesus is magnified in the Gospel–because it is all about who He is and what He has done for sinners. Therefore, it stands to reason that the Spirit’s magnification of Jesus will be through sinners reveling more and more in the glorious gospel of our Lord.

That’s the logic I see in Scripture, but how does it work out practically?

God’s gospel is robustly Trinitarian. God the Father administrates salvation; God the Son accomplishes salvation; God the Spirit applies salvation. In His application of the gospel, the Holy Spirit brings us a true understanding of and genuine experience in the grace of Jesus Christ. Without the Spirit’s application, the gospel would not only be theoretical but our treatment would be at best superficial.

The components of a true understanding of the gospel is generally (and rightly) laid out as God, man/sin, Christ, and concludes with right response. How does the Spirit apply the gospel to magnify Christ in each of these areas?


The gospel begins with God. But how do we know who God is, what He is like, and what He expects from us? God has given us His Word, inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). In the Bible, God’s thoughts are communicated to us by His Spirit who also enables us to understand and appreciate them as such (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). The Spirit’s agency takes the Word’s instrumentality through inspiration, illumination, and conviction to give sinners true knowledge of who God is and what He requires of us.


In light of God’s holiness, we understand man’s sinfulness. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11) so that the sinner is made aware of the sinfulness of sin. Apart from the Spirit’s application of the Word, we would not know ourselves accurately and recognize our need for salvation desperately.


As the Holy Spirit gives us true knowledge of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, we are left undone. Apart from Christ, it’s bad news because God’s holiness demands perfection and our sinfulness destroys any hope of salvation through self-righteousness and justification by our good works. The good news is that the same Holy Spirit who magnifies God’s holiness and our sinfulness also magnifies the riches of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ for sinners. He sheds abroad the love of God (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit calls sinners and draws them to Jesus (John 6:44). He opens deaf ears to hear the voice of Jesus who calls His own by name (John 10:4). He opens blind eyes to see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). He is the one who unites us to Christ!


The only biblical response to the gospel is repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ. These are inseparable acts of a sinner who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. What God requires of us, He provides for us by His Spirit. We are responsible to turn from sin (repentance) and turn to Christ (faith), and we are granted such ability by the Spirit who enables us.

How the Spirit Drives Gospel Centrality

This work of the Spirit does not only take place at the point a sinner is converted to Christ. Indeed, this is the operation of the Spirit throughout the entire Christian experience! How do you know that you are growing in grace? You have a greater understanding and appreciation of God’s character and work. God does not become more holy in His essence, but your understanding and awareness of His holiness increases as you grow in your experience, led by the Spirit. Additionally, you grow in recognizing the sinfulness of sin and dealing with it biblically. You don’t make excuses for sin, rationalize it, manage it, ignore it, or attempt to cover it up with self-atonement measures. You own it because Christ owns you.

What happens when you are increasingly aware of God’s holiness and your sinfulness? You then become aware of how desperate and need you are for Christ’s righteousness and His grace. The reality of His life, death, and resurrection becomes increasingly dominant as your identity rests more and more securely in Christ. This is what the cross chart or gospel grid is all about.

Cross chart

Remember, the Holy Spirit applies the gospel–the accomplishments of Christ. By doing so, He magnifies Christ. If you were not increasing in conviction of the glorious excellencies of God’s character and ways as well as your sinfulness, then the need to revel and glory in the finished work of the cross would be marginalized and Jesus would not be magnified.

When the gospel is central, repentance and faith will be normal. In order for them to be normal, we need the Spirit working in us with the renewing work of the gospel to breed a life that is characterized by turning from sin and turning to Jesus all the time, more and more, until our faith becomes sight.

If you want to be gospel-centered, you need the Holy Spirit. He will magnify Christ through you because you can’t. He will magnify Christ through you because is very good at applying the gospel in your life so that you treasure and adore Jesus. May God lead us to enjoy the Spirit-filled, Gospel-centered life we were redeemed to experience!

6 Steps to Create a Disciple-Making Culture

Last week, I gave a talk on discipleship at the “Building Biblical Churches Conference” hosted by the Spurgeon Fellowship of Florida. One of the points I argued had to with the responsibility of the leadership to create a culture for disciple-making. It just doesn’t happen by accident, and it should not happen by exception. In order for disciple-making to become normative in the life of a church, I argue that one of the most fundamental steps to take is to create a culture through robust means spearheaded by intentional leadership.

Here are six means I believe church leaders should be intentional with implementing in order to create a disciple-making culture:

On Creating a Disciple-Making Culture

1.  A Philosophy That Focuses on Disciple-Making [PURPOSE]

From the very beginning, church leaders should have a clear understanding of the mission of the church. The church does not exist to satisfy the preferences of members or cater to the demands of religious consumers. The church exists to make disciples, and a philosophy that undergirds that mission focuses the life of the church toward that end. The practical benefit of purposeful thinking encourages a straightforward and simple approach to ministry rather than a busy calendar and complex, compartmentalized approach.

2.  Leadership Who Model Disciple-Making [PRAXIS]

Like priests, like people. Those most influential in creating culture are the leaders and the example they set. If church leaders are not the lead disciple-makers, then it is disingenuous to pursue a culture of disciple-making when the leadership undermine it. The Apostle Paul was such a discipler that he could send one of his disciple-making disciples in his stead to teach, serve, and live in a manner consistent with the life he modeled for churches. This did not come about on a platform or in an office. It happened because Paul was on mission in all of life to make disciples of Jesus. A model either magnifies or marginalizes the making of disciples.

3.  Structures to Facilitate Disciple-Making [PERMISSION-GIVING]

Churches can be structured in a way that communicates to the people only the gifted, paid professionals should do the work. The structures of the church which facilitate disciple-making are permission-giving in that aspiring disciples and emerging leaders find opportunity to meaningfully participate in the life of leading disciplers as well as the work they are doing. Do your structures provide latitude for amateurs or leverage for professionals? Permission-giving structures exist for the former and demystify the latter.

4.  Systems to Foster Disciple-Making [PATHWAYS/PROCESSES]

A professionalized culture cuts off pathways and processes, and internal systems are not necessarily since the work is reserved for the uniquely qualified. However, a disciple-making culture necessarily must have systems in place to foster the relational work of growth in the gospel, community, and mission. What systems are in place to make disciples? Mature disciples? Mobilize disciples? Multiply disciples? What pathways and processes exist for not-yet believers to hear and respond to the gospel? For new believers to become covenant members? For members to be integrated into the mission and vision of the church? For disciples to own the mission to make more disciples and lead others in the process? When there is a disciple-making culture, you will find a farming system composed of pathways and processes that foster disciple-making in a comprehensive manner.

5.  Assessments to Measure Disciple-Making [PROGNOSIS]

In the past, there have been various kinds of assessments, including the notorious B’s (building, budgets, baptisms) and N’s (nickels and noses). These are not entirely wrong, but they are also not necessarily helpful either. They don’t tell the whole story. In the same way, a busy church with a lot of activities does not mean it is a disciple-making church. In fact, such busyness could be a substitute for a failure of real discipleship. I would suggest that a better assessment would be the R’s, namely (1) Renewal based on the gospel, (2) Relationships built on the gospel, (3) Rhythms established for gospel mission, and (4) Reproduction born from faithfulness in making disciple-making disciples. Assessments are like scorecards. It helps you evaluate successes and failures. In that way, assessments provide a prognosis for church health and vitality.

6.  Values to Filter Out Distractions to Disciple-Making [PRIORITIES]

Aiming to please everybody and attempting to do everything that appears to work is a quick way to lead the church to failure. The church should not be a laboratory to try out the latest trends. It should be viewed as the people who stubbornly value the things of God because He knows what is best for us. To have a disciple-making culture, you need to know (1) your pre-commitments to govern how you invest your time and energy, (2) your pre-determined parameters to guide where you should spend your time and energy, and (3) pre-scripted emphasis to steer your time and energies to the appropriate goal.

I believe the implementation of these robust means through the intentionality of church leaders will serve them well in creating a disciple-making culture. There is a danger that we all face: we can become committed to doing things that don’t matter and good in the things that don’t register in the kingdom of God. When a disciple-making culture exists, a church will more easily detect the distractions to the heart of the mission and diseases to the health of the body.

Let me ask you: are there other aspects of a disciple-making culture that I have not mentioned? What else would you add or suggest for creating a disciple-making culture?

From Strangers to Missionaries: A Neighborhood Strategy for Mission

Over the past month, many people have heard about my “Jericho Road Moment.” That story is part of a bigger story this year where I’m praying and pursuing God’s kingdom work in my neighborhood and city with renewed initiative and intentionality. Over the past couple months, I’ve been working to gain greater clarity on how to make that happen.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into the world and make disciples. I believe, first and foremost, Jesus is speaking of cross-cultural engagement of unreached people groups. The thrust has an expansive, horizontal dimension no doubt. But I also believe that the making of disciples has a depth dimension as well. Even in “reached” areas of our cities, there are many unreached and unengaged people. Let’s be honest: What percentage of our city is unengaged with the gospel? What percentage of people have any proximity to the kingdom of Christ?

A Helpful Diagnostic to Consider

In my city, we have 165,000 people. The best research I could find is that less than 10,000 belong to any church. That means 155,000+ people need the gospel of Jesus Christ. We dwell in the same city, but for all intents and purposes, they are strangers to me and every other Christian and church. When we are not on mission, the way a church “grows” is by shuffling some of the 10,000 when things don’t work out (transfer growth). It may give the appearance that we are reaching our city with the gospel when in reality we are simply receiving Christians who are either new to the area, or done with their previous church. We are skimming the surface with no missional depth to genuinely engage the city, evangelize the lost, and establish new disciples in the faith.

Here’s a helpful diagnostic to consider. How many non-Christians do you know on a first-name basis? How many of them would consider you a friend? What percentage of your relationship investments is with those who do not know Jesus Christ? How accessible are you to those in your world who do not know God? If the members of our church cannot, off the top of their heads, list 3-5 unbelievers they know, then we have missional atrophy. If the overwhelming percentage of relationship investments of church members are with other Christians, then it has become ingrown. If there are not pathways for pursuing those far from God in our lives, then we have put the Great Commission on the shelf to collect dust.

The Big Picture

What I’ve done to help me make sense is to answer the questions: What will it take for me to go deep into the unengaged sections of my city to make disciples of Jesus? How can I measure missional advance and impact? To help answer those questions, I have developed this city and neighborhood strategy:

» Strangers need to become Neighbors through missional intentionality.

» Neighbors need to become Acquaintances through incarnational integrity.

» Acquaintances need to become Friends through relational investment.

» Friends need to become Family through evangelical invitation.

» Family needs to become Missionaries through practical instruction.

When I begin, everyone outside of my church family are strangers to me. But when movement takes place, some will become neighbors. Over a period of time, and as deeper engagement takes place, more and more neighbors will become acquaintances, then friends, and then fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are trained to repeat the process. All of this, in my opinion, is discipleship.

Moving Downward for Gospel Advance

If we are going to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we have to go after “strangers.” Strangers, those far from God, will not be attracted to our Churches attractional efforts or events. We must go to where they are by pursuing them. This begins by having an intentional approach to ordinary living. If we are threads for kingdom fabric, we are to be woven into the heart of the city with everyday rhythms and networking strategies that introduce you to strangers and invite them to become neighbors. These rhythms include where you eat, when you play, how you shop, etc. The networking strategies have to do with purposeful attempts to connect with people on a repeated basis. (I will tease this out more in a follow-up post).

Strangers become neighbors when they know who you are and you know who they are. But the knowledge at this point is very superficial. A neighbor becomes an acquaintance when you begin to have a shared life through the integrity of your incarnational efforts. By that, I mean the sincerity of your words and consistency of your actions create a plausibility to neighbors that gives permission to share life through regular greetings, short conversations, etc.

Acquaintances become friends when you make an intentional investment so that the rhythms of life with other people sync up so that a shared life is more than a casual conversation. You are in their homes, and they are in your home. You connect on a regular basis. They open up to you in ways that you understand the story of their lives, and as a good listener, learn how the story of the gospel can find redemptive bridges to cross into their world.

Friends become family when you naturally share with your friends who you are and what is most important to you. You tell them your story and how God has made you new. And through the relationship investment, your friend feels safe asking questions and bringing up objections knowing they are not a project to fix or a sale to make. By seeing the impact of the gospel in your life and sharing the good news in everyday evangelistic conversations, friends are invited to brothers and sisters through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Family members become missionaries when they walk with you through life-on-life practical instruction on what it means to follow Jesus. They become fluent in the gospel and shaped by the reign of Christ when seeking first the kingdom of God. And they wrestle with the struggles and share in the successes together with you while joining you as a missionary in their neighborhood and city.

The Significance of This Strategy

There are two main aspects of this strategy that I want to highlight. First, you notice that most everything happens outside the main structures and/or events of the church. I am all about church gatherings and recognize the need to do attractional church well, but very little Great Commission advance, in my opinion, is achieve by the “come and see” approach. Second, some may argue, “Why don’t you just preach to strangers and see them trust Christ then and there?” In other words, why don’t you go straight from stranger to family? From my experience, this kind of leap truncates discipleship and make converts, not disciples the goal. I have seen little lasting fruit from evangelism divorced from relationship, presence, and service to the community.

As I plan out my missional engagement to make disciples of Jesus, I want to evaluate the percentage of my relationship investment for gospel advance. How many strangers have become neighbors? How many neighbors can now be considered acquaintances? How many are moving toward becoming friends? Friends to family? Family to missionaries? Where there is no movement to go deep in the community, we will relegate the Great Commission to the swapping of sheep instead of making new disciples of Jesus. We are to be a pioneering people, not a privileged people. Let us go as those who are sent and preach as those who have a saving message, and love as those who have been adopted by our heavenly Father.

Tim Brister is a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

Life is Too Short to be in a Hurry

For the past several weeks, I’ve been reflecting on living a hurried life. I become convicted of patterns and pursuits counterproductive to the mission to make disciples. The rhythm of society these days seems to be so out of step with the cadence Jesus set out for his disciples. Here is the Savior of the world, the Author of time, never in a hurry in accomplishing the most life-changing, history-shaping mission the world has ever known.

Someone in a hurry makes an idol out of time. They allow the present to be dictated by the future. Lusting after not-yet moments, we deprive ourselves from the already present moments when we are called to love. Skillful living is making most of the time through a redemptive lifestyle, and ironically, making the most of time does not come by hurrying up but by slowing down.

One of the great hindrances to life on mission is being in a hurry. Have you noticed how impossible it is for a hurried person to love someone? They may be physically present, but they are mentally distant. They may give you lip service, but their hearts are far from you. Don’t get me wrong. There are good intentions with being in a hurry. I want to get things done. I love being productive. But when the product takes precedence over people, then my usefulness ironically makes me unproductive for the mission. Even worse, I begin to treat people like product rather than objects of my affection–to listen, to learn, to love. All those things that take time–things that the absence of margin and presence of hurry rob us from experiencing as we controlled by a rhythm of life that takes the life out of us.

Disciples of Jesus cannot be controlled by time or enamored by the future. Idolizing time breeds unbelief in Jesus, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. When we are set free to slow down, we can calibrate our lives according to the cadence of the kingdom. One of the simplest ways of being out of step with the world is not living to keep up with it. I am not advocating a life of laziness but rather a pursuit of presence. It’s a perseverance in abiding, not a fleeing for fleeting moments.

Truly, Jesus’ yoke is easy inasmuch as Jesus is not in a hurry. My yoke is hard because the burdens I create are heavy. I’m learning the joyful consequences of preferring Jesus’ yoke over mine. And when His joy is mine, I find that His glory shines in the very places and among the faces of people I’m privileged to love and give my life away. So Lord, let me live on mission so that when the Spirit calls me to make much of Jesus, I can genuinely respond with “present.”

When I Am My Own Prophet, Priest, and King

Yesterday morning, Dr. Tom Nettles preached on Melchizedek from Hebrews 7 at Grace, pointing out the significance of his name and offices. As a type of Christ, Melchizedek functioned as prophet (blessing Abraham), priest (of the Most High God), and king (of Salem). The offices of Christ and his role as mediator of the New Covenant is one of the richest topics for sustained meditation and gospel enjoyment.

But today, I thought about the spiritual perverseness of substituting myself in the role of being prophet, priest, and king of my own life. I know that sounds crazy, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are more prone to this manner of forgetting the gospel than we realize.

When I Am My Own Prophet

Jesus not only faithfully proclaims the truth, Jesus is the truth. Jesus not only gives us direct Word from God; Jesus is the Word made flesh. As the writer of Hebrews explains, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Paul Tripp rightly notes that no one speaks to you more than you do; therefore, no one has more influence over your thoughts than you. Each and every day, we have the option to have Jesus as our Prophet, or we can speak things into our own lives in our self-salvation project.

When I am my own prophet, I am willing to believe half-truths or complete lies rather than the what God says about me in Christ. Are Christ words not enough? In the words of Joel Osteen, is it that I have to declare things over me, or is not what Jesus declares sufficient? If I am in Christ, I am to be defined by the Gospel word, having the good news as the most important and constant message that shapes my identity. When I am my own prophet, I foolishly substitute counterfeit messages that might comfort for the moment but cannot heal, pacify but cannot bring peace, help you cope but cannot save.

When I Am My Own Priest

Jesus Christ is my Great High Priest, not only offering an acceptable sacrifice, but being for me an acceptable, perfect sacrifice for my sin. Through his atonement and intercession, His blood and His prayers continually speak for me forgiveness, acceptance, justification, peace, and love. As the writer of Hebrews says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). His sitting down speaks of the final, once-for-all atonement for my sin and God’s satisfaction of such a sacrifice. By faith, I rest in Christ and rejoice that I am found in Him.

When I am my own priest, I know that atonement has to be made. Sacrifices must be offered. Instead of appreciating the atonement made by Christ’s death, I seek to make atonement by the way I live–being religious, thinking that my spiritual performance (good works) can appease a guilty conscience, looking to address the restlessness of my heart with busyness in my doing, and attempting to anchor my acceptance in the vacillating nature of my efforts of being righteous before God. My sacrifices undermine the sacrifice of Christ, and in an effort to make atonement for a miserable day, I find reconciliation in what I can do to make my life better, rather than believe that Christ’s death gave me life abundant and everlasting.

When I Am My Own King

Jesus Christ is King of kings. All authority has been given to him. His kingdom endures forever, and those under His reign and rule experience the shalom this world longs for. His subjects declare, “Jesus is Lord,” with hearts of gratitude and joy. Because King Jesus as conquered all enemies arrayed against Him, He has rights to rule over all, and the domain of His dominion has no end. As the writer of Hebrews explains, Jesus has been “appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:2-3). Because this is true, I come to Jesus not only as my Creator but also Redeemer, in whose face beams the glory of God and brings me the grace I so desperately need.

When I am my own king, I convince myself that it is better for me to rule my life than Jesus. I calibrate my day with my agenda, not “your kingdom come, your will be done in my life as it is in heaven.” The domain of my existence does not declare, “Jesus is Lord,” through a life of repentance and faith but rather, “I’m in control” by my naive dictates. “If only I can have life the way I want it, then I will have the life I’m intended to have,” so I arrogantly argue. Little do I know that the more I am in control, the more chaos and brokenness I bring to my life. Having my life the way I want it, how I want it is a sure way to build a kingdom on sinking sand, leading to a wasted life.

I am grateful that God has given me in His Son such a wonderful Savior who is for me Prophet, Priest, and King. The challenge you and I face each day is whether we are to function in ordinary life like these offices will rest in the capable arms and complete work of Christ or in the feeble and foolish efforts of ourselves to do for us what we were never intended to do. God gave His Son as a substitute! We must be careful never to re-substitute ourselves for Christ. Jesus is enough, and when we realize that, we will exult with newfound affections in the life, death, and resurrection of our great and glorious King.

How Jesus Did NOT Pursue Celebrity and Prosperity

Two key areas of struggle, it seems, for evangelicalism today can be found in celebrity culture and the prosperity gospel. In light of that, I found this excerpt from Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man to be insightful and convicting.

He who would bring together such a prodigious number of fishes into his disciples’ net, and, at another time, receive that tribute from a fish which he was to pay to the temple, might easily have made himself the richest person in the world. Nay, without any money, he could have maintained an army powerful enough to have justled Caesar out of his throne, having oftener than once fed several thousands with a few loaves and small fishes; but, to show how small esteem he had of all the enjoyments in the world, he chose to live in so poor and mean a condition, “that though the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, yet he, who was Lord and heir of all things, had not whereon to lay his head.” He did not frequent the courts of princes, nor affect the acquaintance or converse of great ones; but, being reputed the son of a carpenter, he had fishermen, and such other poor people for his companions, and lived at such a rate as suited with the meanness of that condition.

So many things that Jesus could have done but didn’t, and yet so many things Jesus didn’t do, we can live in pursuit of and never attain. If our goal in discipleship and life is conformity to Christ, a significant step in that process is becoming well-acquainted with the ways of Christ (not only the words of Christ). This isn’t a call to living impoverished lives as some might object, but rather a call to discipleship, a call to follow Jesus in a cruciform manner such that the life of Jesus might be seen in the dying to ourselves (2 Cor. 5).

He Laid Hold of Their Feet

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:15

What comes to your mind when you think of the twelve disciples Jesus chose to follow Him? In most cases, I would venture to say the first thing that comes to mind is how ordinary they were. Nothing special here, right? When we consider their actions and responses to Jesus, in most cases they came across clueless, and at times even heartless. In the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry at the cross, they appeared to be disillusioned and lost.

But when we factor in the entire story, we see that these are men whom Jesus chose to entrust His mission. They would be men who, in the power of the Spirit, would preach the gospel and thousands would be saved. They are men who would be used by God to perform miracles, and through their powerful ministry considered more than mere men but even gods at times. More than that, these men were eyewitnesses of Jesus. They knew firsthand the One who conquered death and felt the scars on His hands and feet.

I can’t imagine what must have been going on in their minds when these things happened. When Peter preached Jesus and thousands were converted, don’t you think he was tempted to become a celebrity preacher? Don’t you think when the disciples healed the sick and raised the dead, they did not battle a sense of prideful exceptionalism along with self-promoting platforms from which they can boast of their accomplishments? What was it that kept them from being destroyed by pride and brought down by self-deceit?

I believe a significant reason for their faithfulness and perseverance in the mission was due to the fact that Jesus got to their feet so that what God does through them never got to their heads.

That dinner in the upper room where their Master, the King of Heaven and Lord of all creation, took off his outer garments and dressed Himself in a towel was one Jesus’ disciples never forgot. Much like Jesus’ last words in the Great Commission, this Great Example had to have a lasting impression. Knowing that He was going to depart to the Father (John 13:1), Jesus went after their feet to get to their heart.

Jesus indicated by His example the kind of life His disciples would live. Jesus entered our world and took on our mess. The cross stands in history to reveal Jesus’ determination to take on the mess and filth of our sin by being the servant who made the greatest sacrifice (Matt. 20:28). By laying hold their feet, Jesus was showing that He had loved them to the end. Their mess was going to be His masterpiece, and when their vision required them to look down upon their Master, they knew this was a moment that would define their mission for the rest of their lives.

With the exception of Judas, the son of perdition, the disciples feet never wandered away. These filthy feet washed by Jesus would be the beautiful feet that take the good news to the world. They are feet that went to the poor, to the prisons, and to Patmos. They are feet that belonged to men whose hearts were arrested by the humble service and example of their King.

Imagine what it was like to be used like the disciples after the ascension of Jesus. Imagine how much praise they had to deflect, how much pride they had to mortify, how much power they had to control. How easy must it have been for one to walk away and try to become a re-make of Jesus (Jesus 2.0). But not one of the disciples flaked or fizzled out. And while I certainly believe this was due to the Spirit’s work in their hearts, I also believe this was due to Jesus’ work on their feet.

Those of us who represent the King must always remember that we look most like Jesus, not when we are looking down on others from a platform, but when we are looking up at them from a basin. We are to get dirty and live in the trenches of front line mission work, not quarantine our labors in the laboratory of religious events. Jesus said we are blessed if we follow His example and do likewise, and while that may not always be washing the feet in an upper room, it will always be humbly applying the gospel to broken lives through a servant’s heart of love.

Tim Brister is a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

3 Truths about Platforms from John the Baptist

Imagine you were privileged to be at a place where you were going to be introduced to the greatest person alive today. His reputation is one where the most influential people in the world would all agree that there is no greater. Imagine what his introductions would be like? We have all heard the hyped up intros, haven’t we? The keynote speakers at conferences, the guest preacher at the church service, the honorary guest at a reception... we have been there.

God, through the Apostle John, gave an introduction to a man named John the Baptist. Jesus said of this man “among those born of a woman there has arisen no one greater” (Matt. 11:11). When he entered the scene of human history, certainly there would be a introduction fitting for such a supreme title.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”

Wait, what? That’s it? “A man.” Okay. What kind of man? Just a man? I thought he was the man. “His name was John.” Could you have picked a more unique, more memorable, more fitting name for such an individual? There is nothing here in this introduction that tips us off to the extraordinary person John the Baptist was in human history.

You think that, following such an ordinary introduction, his list of accomplishments would soon follow to make up for a bland beginning. And, yet, it seems to be all the more paradoxical. The Apostle John says John the Baptist “was not the light.” This was confirmed through the testimony of John the Baptist who, at every point, told people who he was not. “I am not the Christ.” “I am not Elijah.” “I am not the Prophet.” Finally, when asked to explain who he was, John could only describe himself as a voice in the wilderness. And when his followers pressed him to be more aggressive and increase his influence, John could only respond by saying, “I must decrease.”

So, there you have it. The man who Jesus said was without comparison (Jesus excluded of course). His life did not end with him on a throne but in prison. He did not have a crown on his head, but ended with his head on platter. How could it really be true what Jesus said about John the Baptist? Is there really none greater?

Of course, those who have read the Bible know the rest of the story. But this is instructive to us in the age of self-promotion and platform-building, is it not? The paradox of greatness according to Jesus runs on a totally different set of tracks than the world of raw, selfish ambition. What can we learn from the life of John the Baptist, since, after all, he did it better than anyone else?

1.  Platforms come from God. They are not to become your god (idol).

When challenged by his disciples regarding his “platform” not being as great as Jesus’, John replied, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). John recognized the influence and position was given to him by God, not the result of self-promotion and working up a ladder and using people for selfish gain.

John also knew that his platform had an expiration date. He was not going to live for something that was going to terminate. He was willing to let it go so long as he was faithful to fulfill the purpose of God attached to it. John was content when he was raised up in popularity and prominence, and he was content when he was brought low in obscurity and marginalization. This was because platform was not his god but a tool to put his God on display. He knew platforms came from God and are for God.

2.  Platforms are best used in pointing to others and directing the stage light toward them.

At every point, John the Baptist was saying, “I am not the point.” He was the pointer. He used his platform to set the stage for One to come whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. John was not a stage hog. He did not lust for the limelight. In fact, he was so unseen he could only call him a voice from backstage (in the wilderness). You don’t see voices. John did not listen to the press or live for the praise of man.

True greatness is found in the kind of humility that leverages your influence and position to serve and build up others, not yourself. If the only thing people see in your efforts to build a platform is you and what you do, then you are doing it wrong. The stage was not meant for you. Steward it well.

3.  Platforms are most enjoyable when they are tethered to God’s purposes.

John’s purpose for having his “platform” was to exalt Jesus Christ. Everything about him was an exclamation point to the declaration of Jesus Christ as Savior and King. John was not indifferent about God’s purposes in Christ. He did not consider it optional or a side item to the platform. He did not share that platform with Jesus as a trade-off. He was happy to see that everything his life was about would be used to direct people to believe, treasure, and worship Jesus Christ. Apart from God’s purposes, John’s platform would not exist. When John’s disciples thought it was all about him, John told them “Jesus must increase, and I must decrease.” They thought John was the bridegroom when John knew he was just a friend. And what do friends so? They rejoice in the celebration of the bridegroom on stage.

How could John genuinely enjoy his decrease and Jesus’ increase? John’s happiness was not tied to his platform. His happiness was tied to God’s purposes. The increase of Jesus’ “platform” was not a matter of competition for John; it was a matter of completion. If you make your platform what you are passionate about and seek enjoyment in it, there is no lasting joy found there. It is a broken cistern that can hold no water. But if whatever platform provided you is used to increase the magnification of God’s purposes in Christ as they are fulfilled in your life, then joy abounds and pleasure is made complete.

There was a man named John. He was a man, a voice, a friend of the bridegroom, and a witness. And there had arisen no one greater than him. May God help us to live our lives online and offline with the same passion, humility, and determination to have Christ seen through us, not us seen through our platforms.

Tim Brister is a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

Being Missional in a Post-Christian Culture

So far in this series, I have touched on Posture and Perspectives in Post-Christendom. At the close of the “Perspectives” post, I argued, “I believe there has been a considerable shift over the past decade (or two) toward paganism where the majority of non-Christians today are ignorant, indifferent, and militant.” In this post, I want to elaborate on the two paradigms for engaging non-Christians in Post-Christendom.

The Attractional Paradigm

During the times of Christendom and its decline, the attractional paradigm enjoyed much success. It was a time when the majority of non-Christians in culture found Christianity relevant and were quite conversant from a cultural standpoint. Christianity was looked upon favorably by the many, and churches seemed to engage the “unchurched Harry and Mary.” The attractional paradigm saw the rise of the seeker-sensitive movement, where a large focus of the church’s mission was to get non-Christians to “come and see” through the church event what Christianity was about. Missiologists call this a “centripetal” movement where the draw is toward the center, namely the Sunday morning event/experience.

The attractional paradigm found ways to reach the non-Christians through a focus on relevance and pragmatism. The event focused on “the experience,” wherein the message would have relevance to the most pressing issues of the day (sex, happiness, relationships, overcoming fear, etc.). Outside the event, the attractional model produced goods and services that the non-Christian consumer would find practical and beneficial. Relevance and pragmatism became a winning combination for burgeoning megachurches that could exceed consumer expectations on what they could offer them and the experience they could find.

Unfortunately, the attractional paradigm has fallen on hard times in Post-Christendom as fewer and fewer non-Christians are conversant to Christianity or find it relevant. Moreover, those who were once religious consumers of experience and services have become jaded and inoculated over time, eventually comprising much of the de-churched. The attractional paradigm in Post-Christendom simply does not maintain much plausibility with event, experience, size of church buildings/campus, etc. among the increasingly secular generations who find much of these a stumbling block to them today.

If the church in Post-Christendom predominantly embraces the attractional paradigm, they will be reaching an increasingly smaller segment of our world today. Fewer people are interested in the come-and-see approach. Sadly, what often takes place is churches finding themselves in competition over the very small slice of humanity by “swapping sheep” when one becomes more attractional than the other and thereby wins over the religious consumer with a better experience and selection of goods and services. Smaller churches with fewer resources and smaller influence cannot compete in such an environment and are forced to either close their doors or merge with larger, more effective churches. Consequently, the megachurches continue to get larger as smaller churches are subsumed as new campuses or simply move their members with the appearance that more of the world is being reached when really more of dying Christendom is being consolidated.

The Missional Paradigm

A lot has been said about the missional paradigm over the past two decades. In spite of that, the term “missional” does not enjoy a broadly understood definition and description. While I may not be able to bring clarity on its meaning, I do want to emphasize its importance to Post-Christendom.

If the attractional paradigm has a centripetal movement, the missional paradigm has an opposite, centrifugal movement. This is movement away from the center. Centripetal force says, “Come and see”; centrifugal force says, “Go and show/tell.” While the attractional paradigm focuses on seekers coming to the event/experience, the missional paradigm focuses on servants going to the world in every sphere of life.

Because more and more of our unbelieving world are ignorant (-3), indifferent (-4), and militant (-5), Christians need to be mobilized to live on mission to go to them to make the gospel known. They will no longer come to us. The aspects of the attractional paradigm that engineered its success are no longer plausible to them. The questions being asked today are not being answered by those pursuing relevance. In order for Christianity to become plausible to them, they are going to need more than religious goods and services or events and experiences. They need a new kind of attraction.

Missional vs. Attractional

The missional paradigm says that Christians need to “telescope” the gospel. A telescope takes a massive object really far away and magnifies it with special lenses so that you are able to see them up close. When Jesus commands us to go into the world, He does not tell us to go into the world we find comfortable to us. Going does not mean driving by, but entering in and dwelling deep. Going means entering into the neighborhoods and laying down stakes for Jesus’ name. To telescope the gospel, we must learn to live on mission whereby the implications of the gospel are manifested in the story of our lives and the applications of the gospel are demonstrated in the context of our world. Our lives become the lens through which the massive, glorious reality of Jesus Christ is clearly and visibly seen up close.

In Post-Christendom, the attraction to Christianity is sacrificial love for those who have nothing to give you in return. What makes Christianity plausible is not relevance but presence, not commodity but community, not event but life. While the attractional paradigm proved to be efficient and measurable, the missional paradigm is slow and messy. But if we are going to reach the world in Post-Christendom, we are going to have to telescope the gospel with the way we live sent on mission in every sphere of our existence (where we live—first place, where we work—second place, where we play—third place). We cannot be lured away for expedience sake.

Our increasingly pagan culture requires a gospel apologetic that is more profound than a service project. They need servants who embody the mission and message of Jesus Christ. Christianity will not make sense to them by field-tested marketing, but love demonstrated in tangible, personal ways that provoke questions in them only the gospel can answer. Yes, we need to live in such a way that our lives produce questions that can only be answered by the power of a crucified, risen Savior.

We don’t need to measure how many people are coming, but rather how many are going. If we are content to measure the wrong thing, we will be satisfied with results that don’t matter. We will be measuring what wins other sheep rather than what wins the world for Jesus. Why have a shadow mission that attracts the most in dying Christendom when Jesus has a mission that reaches mass of humanity dying without Christ?

The question we need to be asking is, “Are we making, maturing, mobilizing, and multiplying disciples in such a way that they telescope the gospel to our lost and dying world in order that they may see, hear, and believe in Jesus Christ?” In my next post, I hope to explain the polarity that helps to answer that question.

Tim Brister is a pastor, writer, and church planting specialist. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

The 5 Categories of Non-Christians

Last week, I brought up the new posture of Christianity in post-Christendom and how we re-enter culture in a subversive way to advance the kingdom of God. Before I jump into the paradigm and practices in post-Christendom, I believe it is important to give a little perspective.

Non-Christian Scale

In the little diagram above, I lay out 5 different categories for unbelievers. I contend that, with the shrinking of Christendom, there is an increase in paganism. In other words, when non-Christians are categorized according to their position/stance regarding Christianity, there are far more today in the -3 to -5 categories than there is in the -1 and -2.

To be clear, everyone to the left of the center line is what the Bible calls “lost” and outside Christ. There are no degrees of lostness. Either you are saved or you are lost. The difference is twofold: access and attitude. The further to the left you go, the less access non-Christians have to the gospel and the more likely the attitudes are strongly antithetical to the Christian faith. While the two are not necessarily intrinsic to each other, they are often connected (e.g., someone who could have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and not necessarily be opposed to it, and someone could be strongly opposed to Christianity and had considerable access to the gospel message).

Acknowledging that these descriptions are not exhaustive, they are however an attempt to provide distinctions between non-Christians as I have studied and spent time with them in a post-Christendom America.

0 to -1 | Conversant

The conversant crowd is the vestige of Christendom. These are non-Christians who (a) may think they are Christians by their regular involvement in religious activity or church or (b) find Christianity agreeable from an intellectual or cultural standpoint. They may have many friends and family members who are followers of Jesus Christ while they themselves have not chosen to repent and believe. The conversant crowd often find Christianity profitable from a worldview, ethical/moral, or cultural aspect and converses along those lines. They do not mind regular dialogue about Christianity and consider themselves somewhat competent in their understanding of Christianity.

-1 to -2 | Relevant

The relevant crowd are the people who still have considerable access the orthodox Christianity, either through occasional attendance to church services (Christmas and Easter), or through other forms of media (radio, television, internet, etc.). Having been brought up in Christendom, Christianity has some relevance for many of them. They may have attended church as a kid, gone to a vacation Bible school, prayed publicly, or learned the Ten Commandments in school growing up, etc. Occasionally, you may hear a reference or two to a biblical story, principle, or verse they learned in the past in their everyday interactions. As a result, Christianity remains relevant to them, though they are not as active or engaged as the conversant crowd.

-2 to -3 | Ignorant

The ignorant crowd are the people who simply do not know or understand Christianity. Many in the younger generations today did not grow up in Christian homes or in a Christian culture or sub-culture and, therefore, have virtually no true understanding of the Christian message. Christianity is more understood as a voting block, some kind of political affiliation, or having espoused conservative ethical and moral positions on cultural issues. When you aske them about Christianity, you typically get superficial answers because they simply don’t know much about true, biblical Christianity. Being ignorant does not necessarily mean being opposed; rather, they simply have not had nearly as much access and exposure to true Christianity in their lifetime. Contemporary sociologists and researchers have described the ignorant crowd as the “nones”—those who do not ascribe to any belief system and don’t want to be labeled as such.

-3 to -4 | Indifferent

The indifferent crowd are the people who don’t want you talking about Christianity in the public square. They would rather not be inundated with Facebook posts talking about Jesus or the Bible. If you are a Christian, fine. Just don’t bring it into their world or in their conversations. They don’t care that you are a Christian so long as you keep it to yourself. They may have ideas of spirituality, but it is often without any consistent worldview; rather, it is more a la carte, self-selective spirituality where they pick and choose the aspects of various belief systems they find palatable to them. The indifferent crowd find their philosophical underpinnings in moral relativism and subjective truth (I determine what is right and wrong, and I have the right to define what is true for me). They have little to no access to true Christianity because (a) they don’t care about it personally or find it needful, and (b) they do not have Christian friends, family, or acquaintances who are regularly engaged in their lives.

-4 to -5 | Militant

The militant crowd are the people who don’t want to be Christians and don’t want anyone else to be Christians, either. They are hostile to the Christian faith and don’t mind letting you know it. For most if not all of them, their aggression is due to a direct confrontation to their way of life. While the atheist or agnostic may say they do not believe in God from an intellectual standpoint, almost invariably, the issue is not an intellectual impasse but rather a moral confrontation. They do not want to be told what you must believe and how you must live. The militant, anti-authoritarian culture disavows any higher authority than the self. Christianity says there is one ultimate authority, God, to whom all men must give an account and be judged. The militant crowd wants no accountability to a God they do not believe in, and any time truth statements are made to them, they do not merely find them intellectually implausible, but morally reprehensible. The overwhelming number of people in the militant crowd are unreached and unengaged from the Christian community due to their militant attitudes toward Christianity as well the cultural retreat of Christendom into their own ghettos (sub-cultures) in recent decades.

Again, these descriptions are not intended to be exhaustive. They are my attempt to provide a perspective on post-Christendom and the world around us. I believe there has been a considerable shift over the past decade (or two) toward paganism, where the majority of non-Christians today are ignorant, indifferent, and militant.

In my next post, I will explain two paradigms of ministry by local churches and why the predominant paradigm, though effective in Christendom, will not be effective in post-Christendom.

Tim Brister is a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

3 Phases of Christianity in Culture and How to Respond

Christendom and Culture

Christendom is dead. For some, this is a time of lament. For others, it is a time of renewal and revival. I want to offer my reflections on the three different phases of Christianity and culture and the corresponding posture for Christian cultural engagement.

Christendom: Synced with Culture

Syncretism is the blending or assimilation of two belief systems into one. There was a time when Christianity enjoyed cultural approval and widespread recognition. When someone spoke of religion, it was rare that anyone thought of another faith beside Christianity. Monuments to the Ten Commandments were erected in the public square. Prayers were offered by teachers in public schools. Love for God and country were seen in churches who displayed a Christian flag on one side of the pulpit and an American flag on the other. Christianity was synced with American culture.

This syncretism took three primary manifestations: nominalism, moralism, and zionism. Because of its popularity and being somewhat normative in American culture, people identified as being Christian without ever actually becoming a Christian. There were Christian in name only. Identifying with being a Christian without actually becoming one afforded people goodwill in society as they would be seen as virtuous, upstanding, and respectable.

Christianity also assimilated with moralism because many of the identity markers of Christianity were what you did or did not do. Christians do not drink or smoke. Christians did not dance. Christians were dedicated to religious activity. Christianity was not so much defined by what you believed but by how you lived. Christianity was in a way moral gatekeepers for the culture and enjoyed relative success in advocating the law, even when unable to keep it themselves entirely.

Then, there was zionism. There is a blending of the American dream with Christianity. This is where it became popular to drape the cross in the American flag. The United States was considered to some degree God’s great gift to the world, the last great hope for humanity. Verses with promises tied to Israel in the Old Testament easily found a home in sermons from American pulpits. Christianity was depicted in particularly American imagery, and American culture was governed by particularly Christian values.

Dying Christendom: Fight Against Culture

Then came the time when Christendom began to fade away as American culture began a shift away from Christianity. This is the birth of the culture warriors, the silent majority, and the religious right. This was the time when the lamenting prophets would cry out, “Let’s take back America,” and due to the contrarian posture, Christians were known more for what they were against than what they were for.

As culture went from bad to worse, increasing in lawlessness, dying Christendom took a bunker mentality from which to fight. Most notable in this battle plan was the rise of the “one-stop-shop megachurch.” Megachurches were great because you could do everything you wanted to do in the world without ever having go into the world. Dads had their softball leagues. Kids had their own basketball and soccer leagues. Moms had their “mom’s day outs” and aerobics classes. Aside from the cultural commodities in the church, there were many more religious goods and services to occupy the time and energy of Christians, effectively keeping them busy and safely removed from the wicked world out there. The megachurch became a breeding ground for religious consumerism in the supermarket of the religious ghettos that protected Christians from the rampant wickedness increasingly on display in the culture now fought by the religious/political special forces.

Another aspect of dying Christendom was the underpinnings of pluralism and postmodernism in both high culture (academia) and low culture (pop culture). Morality that was once standardized by the Ten Commandments had been replaced by “it is not wrong if I don’t hurt myself or anyone else” kind of ambiguity. What was once considered true for all was no longer considered true for anyone. The objective was replaced with the subjective. The universal was replaced with the relative. And John 3:16 was replaced with Matthew 7:1. When you refer to “God” or religion, you no longer had the cultural reference point of Christianity. And the idea that there was only one way to God was considered intolerant and full of bigotry.

Post-Christendom: Re-enters Culture

I believe we are now living in a culture of Post-Christendom. While it may be the death of Christendom, I believe it is also the rebirth of Christianity. All cultural assumptions are now gone. Nominalism is dying off because Christianity now only has value to those who value Christ above all things. Moralism is dying off because Christians are returning to the message of Christianity (the gospel). Zionism is dying off, because we are more globally aware of what God is doing in the world and how we play a small part in it.

In Post-Christendom, we have an opportunity to be known for what we are for rather than what we are against. We have an opportunity to bring clarity to our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ, to come out of the sub-cultures and ghettos we have created in the past to live, work, and play to a world where we are called to shine as a city on a hill. We can reintroduce ourselves to our neighbors, coworkers, and playmates with compassion and conviction. We don’t have to seek cultural approval and acceptance because the gospel tells us the only approval and acceptance we need has already been given to us and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father.

The posture in Post-Christendom is to enter in culture in ordinary ways by ordinary people and demonstrate the extraordinary love of God by laying our lives down for the sake of the gospel. It is a posture that recognizes we are dealing with a world where John 3:16 does not make sense to them because Genesis 1:1 does not make sense to them. We enter in with humility and kindness, understanding the posture of our Savior towards us who were once hostile in mind and rebels to His cause of redemption.

Perhaps there has never been a time more exciting and opportunistic for Christians in the United States than right now. May God be so kind to bring renewal and revival to the apostolic faith once for all handed down to the saints as we live, move, and have our being in Him—exiles proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light!

Tim Brister is a pastor, writer, and church planting specialist. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.

Creating a Disciple-Making Plan: Identity First!

So often when we introduce ourselves to other people, we describe our lives by what we do, not who we are. “Hi, my name is Tim Brister, and I serve as a pastor at Grace Baptist Church.” What we do has become the default way of defining our lives. This also plays into how or whether a person commits to making disciples.

As I mentioned in my previous post, every person needs a plan, but at the center of that plan needs to be the understanding that identity comes first. Who you are as a Christian defines what you do, not the other way around. If what you do defines who you are, you have the cart before the horse. Let’s face it: It is very easy to get so focused on making disciples (what you do) that you forget that you ARE a disciple of Jesus yourself.

In gospel-centered terminology, the indicative (state of being) always precedes the imperative (call to action). I believe the reason we have defaulted to defining our lives by what we do is because we have assumed who we are, or at least failed to acknowledge that reality. The most effective disciple-makers I know are those who are defined by who they are in Christ and live out those implications in what they do for the cause of Christ (make disciples). Paul was careful to make this point throughout his writing and ministry. In Ephesians, he spent 3 chapters telling believers who they are (identity) in Christ (gospel indicative). Immediately following was 3 more chapters telling believers how they should live out their identity (missional imperative) in the world.

When we fail to place our identity in Christ first and center our lives on who Jesus is and what He has done to make us who we are, we are in danger of turning disciple-making into an idolatrous act. It is not about us. It is not even about the people we are discipling (ultimately). It is about what God is doing by His Spirit to magnify Jesus as we become like Him and call others to believe in Him. Assuming our identity puts an inordinate amounts of pressure and weight upon us that we were never intended to carry, and so we as disciple-makers lack the motivation and means to persevere in the mission. By failing to put our identity in Christ first, we find ourselves on dangerous grounds where we evaluate our worth in the kingdom by how successful we are in making disciples rather than Jesus’ successful work in making us His own. Our worth is defined by His work, not our own!

So what is my identity? It is who I am in Christ. I am a child of God adopted into the family of God. I am a liberated servant joyfully seeking to please my Master and Lord. I am a worshipper who delights in the treasure of knowing and being known by God. I am a representative of King Jesus, entrusted with His mission and message. I am who I am because of what Jesus Christ has done for me, is doing in me, and promises to do through me.

When you embark upon a plan to be a disciple-maker, keep front and center your identity in Christ. The gospel indicative is the fuel for the missional imperative. It is the safeguard from missional idolatry. It is the measure of missional faithfulness. It is the mark of missional fruitfulness. Before you make disciples, remember you are a disciple. And as you remember, be renewed again and again as you rediscover the beauty and majesty of the great and glorious Savior that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tim Brister is a pastor and elder at Grace Baptist Church. Find out more on his blog: Provocations and Pantings.