Posts in Dicipleship Process

Once when visiting friends in Tanzania, we were taken to a snake zoo, where we saw on the walls, graphic photographs of men being swallowed whole by pythons. Guards had been attacked while sleeping and then swallowed by the big snakes. Pythons are attracted by the breath of their victims and when they have coiled themselves around the victim they squeeze the breath out of them till they are dead.
Many years ago I went through a time of real confusion in my life. I did everything I knew to do to break out of it but in the end, I knew I needed help from friends I trusted. I had had the breath squeezed out of me.
When the Apostle Paul was breaking new ground in a nation, he once found himself opposed by the devil, though a woman with a spirit of divination. The Greek word for divination gives us python. Even in the spiritual realm the python spirit smells people with breath and life and creeps up on them to squeeze the breath and vision out of them. The python spirit wants to bind you up emotionally and spiritually. What God put in you, the devil will seek to take out of you. Often it works through people like Jezebel, who squeezed the life out of Elijah and shut down the prophet in the land.
Friend, it’s an old device. It began in the garden when the serpent turned up to squeeze the breath and life out of Adam. Don’t let him squeeze the life out of you. Get annoyed like Paul; rise up and cast it out.


Jesus walked along the crowded street on the way out of Jericho. One man called Bartimaeus had been sitting on the side of the road near the town for years. He was blind and begged for a living. He wanted to be healed and he cried out loudly to be heard above the rabble. Jesus heard the cry of faith and stopped to give him his sight back. Immediately upon receiving his sight he followed Jesus along the road. A new life and a new direction! All Jesus had to do for Bartimaeus, to deliver him from being stationary, broke and hopeless on the side of life’s road, was to give him vision. The greatest need we have is to see. When Jesus gives us spiritual sight, He enables us to see who He is and who we are.

The people of Israel stood at the border of the Promised Land and listened to the report of the 10 spies.  Although the land was exceedingly good, there were also giants there. The fearful spies saw themselves as grasshoppers in the face of the giants, and refused to go in (Numbers 13.28-31). It is not what you see in the promised land but what you see in side of you that will determine whether you enter in to all God has planned for you. If we view ourselves as grasshoppers it is unlikely we will defeat giants.  If you see ourselves as a chicken we will never soar as an eagle. A postman goes to deliver mail each day because he knows he is  a postman not a policeman.  If you know you are a son you act like one too. Most often we act beneath our dignity because we have forgotten who we are. A prince or princess with amnesia!

Jesus said He came down from above. He knew where He came from. When the Seed was placed in Mary, a son was born. When we were regenerated, the seed of the Word comes down from Father and like Jesus, your spirit man is born from above. We know ourselves after the flesh and off course identify with our natural father but the real eternal you, came down from your Father in heaven. We are literally new creatures and Father wants us to see ourselves as His own children. Although he calls us sheep, disciples, servants or even friends in the Gospel of John, his final description of us is sons.  After the resurrection Jesus calls us his brothers and like Jesus, all of Gods sons and daughters, are born from above by incorruptible seed.

Friend, our self-identity is formed by how we see Jesus and ourselves. As the 10 spies proved, how we see ourselves is critical because what we believe to be true is more powerful in our lives that the actual facts. Fact: You are truly, actually and absolutely Gods son or daughter. Do you see that?


Good Failure

This week it was pointed out to me by a close friend that I had made a serious theological error in one of my books. It was a bit embarrassing because my passion for preaching and writing is to understand, to help others understand!

If we learn any theology in Genesis, it is that imperfection and failure run in the family.  Even “perfect” specimens, who never seem to blow up, may be filled with anger, pride or judgmental pettiness.  The fact is that we all fail and, if we don’t give ourselves and others room to fail, we can breed dishonesty.  People fearful of disapproval can’t admit their mistakes and choose to live in denial. Brothers or sisters may be struggling with an issue which could be common to all people, but are afraid to ask for help. They could sink into a sea of despair believing that weakness is unforgivable.  It’s great to have a triumphalist theology where every believer lives in glory and power without error or mistake, but that doesn’t help people in their genuine times of struggle and need.

When Adam and Eve failed in the garden, it was no surprise to God, and He covered their failure with skins by the shedding of blood. God obviously allowed them to sin for a reason. After they sinned, He could do the thing he wanted most: to reveal Himself more fully to them, not just as Creator but as Savior, as Redeemer and Deliverer. Up until his failure, Adam had no idea of the depth and the beauty of God’s love for him.  He felt perfect without need of forgiveness. He also felt no gratitude nor understood God’s mercy. In short, he had no sense of God’s love.

Friend, the next time you feel you have failed, admit your humanity and embrace the mercy of your un-condemning Father, who you can now love with even greater gratitude!

The Voyage

Paul walked with his bags up the gang plank onto the ship but the chorus of sea birds drowned out the sound of his steps. The ship smelt of salt-soaked hemp ropes and tar. Beyond the ship, the green sea twinkled but Paul never noticed; he was thinking of the people he knew and those he had never met awaiting at his destination. Near the end of his life Paul said   “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:6-7).  The word “course” was used in regard to plotting the course of a ship. Most of Paul’s missionary life, he was on a boat somewhere on the Mediterranean. These sea journeys were not the only voyages he took, for He took an internal voyage as well. Our lives are like a voyage, for we must all know our destination and negotiate the shallow waters of low goals and the rocks of intimidation. This is true of individuals and of churches. Every person is born for a purpose and our voyage is to fulfill our “pre-destiny.”

Hundreds of years ago, men were press ganged into the Navy to fight for King and country.  They were captured as they walked home from the pub and they woke up below decks out at sea. Our Captain only captures our hearts and gives us His vision of reality. But one thing is still true; we are called to a Royal campaign, not to a jazz cruise. Jesus looks for men and women who will enlist for life. We can’t be a soldier for the summer and there are no reserves. Our voyage begins when we discover who God has made us and we decide to become it; when we understand the reason for our birth and we pursue it in spite of all opposition. Every job and ministry is about recreating the world God that intended. He assigns us to fix something that has fallen in people, education, business, church or society.

Friend, even if there is a flotilla before you, to keep you from the future God has planned, Jesus guarantees victory in the conflict.  The apostle Paul said “…I kept the faith”.  Keeping the faith is not remaining a believer till Jesus takes you home; but doing our part to make the earth a home for Jesus now. That won’t happen unless we all fight the good fight and thereby finish our course.  Lets march forth into the cursed world to release our Captains “blessings” and not merely fill the Sunday grandstand and wave a handkerchief of token appreciation, for those that do.

Who are you

David sat among the sheep grazing all around him, unaware that back at the house, he’d been excluded from an important meeting with the Prophet. The actions of the family showed that they did not believe that God could or would use David. Their exclusion showed that he was considered by them, to be insignificant to the real work of God but God thought differently. (1 Sam.16)
One thing that shapes our values is our family. Maybe you can see how your family has written a message on our minds that affects how we see God and ourselves. Sometimes the people in our life or past are not the best people to tell us who we are!
Thankfully, when we are saved, God begins to write upon our heart and mind a new story by giving us new experiences of His love, care and power in our lives and the best place now, to find out who we are is from God Himself.
Moses was a sheep farmer but he didn’t know who he really was, till God spoke to him. Peter thought he was a fisherman until he heard from Jesus. Gideon found out he was a deliverer and Elisha a prophet was not just the farmer’s son. God showed them all that they were loved, significant and called and capable.
Friend, you’ll never know who you really are, till you hear God tell you - Get away from the sheep for a moment and listen at the burning bush. He will tell you.

Watching yourself

The Philistines took Samson and put out his eyes. The enemy wants us to be blind. The most consistent warnings in the Bible are given to the those who cease to watch and become blind and it is usually in the midnight hour. Being blind does not mean that we can’t see at all, but that we don't see what we should. Most people in the bible, who were told to watch, were watching but they were watching what they wanted to watch, not watching what they should have been watching. Peter denied the Lord three times. That night he was watching the Lord but he wasn't watching himself.
In the Kingdom parables (Matt 13 and 25), virgins and servants were all sleeping in the midnight hour,or watching the wrong thing. They were watching for his coming but not watching their oil. These parables teach us that people will be aware of the conditions of the last days, but not aware of the condition of their own hearts.
The challenge is for us not to know about the coming of the Lord but to know the Lord who is coming. Knowing the signs of the Lords coming is not the same as knowing the Lord who is coming.
Samson entertained Delilah even as she plotted his overthrow. He was so blind spiritually, that he didn't even know the Philistines were in the room! Even after he knew their plan was to bind him, he still tells them the secret of his great strength. Samson reasoned “I can let them into my life; I'm sure the Lords power will break me free again. In the end he traded comfort and ease for the cutting edge of ministry. He failed to see it took some form of price to maintain the anointing. In Revelation 3.8, Jesus speaks to the Laodicea church who thought they had everything they needed. Actually they had everything they wanted but nothing they needed. Jesus said “Buy from me eye salve for your eyes that you might see.” What it takes to “see”, has to be brought. There is a cost to walking closely with God.
Samson watched what he wanted but wasn't watching what he needed to watch. He knew what he wanted but didn't know what he needed. He thought he could still be Gods anointed and live with compromise. But there is a time when the anointing will lift and leave you. Samson didn't know the Lord had departed from him.
Friend, some people are more aware of the signs of his coming that they are of the signs of his leaving and Samson stopped seeing long before he was blind.

The Power of your Song

Susan Boyle sang her song and her life was changed. “I dreamed a dream” became the song that unlocked her dream. The song we are singing determines our future. Our song is our prophecy to our selves. As Moses’ ministry was drawing to a close he reflects upon the wonderful God that had led him. Before he gives his last address and blessing to the people of Israel, he first sung his last song. “Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song until they were ended" (Deut 31:30 )

It is the song in your heart to God that determines the message that we have to speak to men. Our song is our qualification and validation that we are heaven sent. Moses song was about Gods power and that Gods’ people are being led on purpose for a purpose. Without a song, leading people can be hard work. Without a song there can be death in our pot of doctrine and our disciplined lifestyle can become drudgery. Without a song discipling men and women becomes just a difficult duty. Moses and David had a new song in their mouth, and because of their song many trusted or gained greater confidence in the Lord. “He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD” (Psalms 40.3).
Friend, how is your song? God wants to put a new song in your heart. Ask for His new song today. It will strengthen you and those who are watching you. Make sure your “song” is prophesying the future that you are dreaming about.

The Rock

The people of Israel slowly packed up their tents one more time to follow the moving cloud. To some it was a hassle to be moving again, to others it was exciting. A desert is a good metaphor for life. It is difficult sometimes and hard to negotiate. Sometimes its hard to see where to go or to orientate ourselves. It can be hard to make progress but there is always the hope a better day beyond the desert.

As they shuffled forward, everyone kept their eye on the Rock. In was their source of life in the desert and had come to represent the Lord Himself. Moses even called God “the Rock” and while it may seem strange, to call God a Rock, it made perfect sense to people who lived their whole life in a desert. In a desert, rocks are your best friend. It’s a hiding place from the harsh desert storms, be they sand or rain. The rock is a refuge from the floods; it is a rock that is higher that you. ( Psalms 61:2) The rock is a defense against your enemies. It is the best vantage point for vision if you can’t see where to go next. The rock is a shade from the burning heat of the midday sun and it was a welcoming place to rest. Earlier Moses himself had learned that the only way a man can meet with God and not die is to stand in the cleft rock, that God provides.( Exodus 33:22)
Eventually the ancient story tells us that the Rock brought them home to their inheritance. The Apostle Paul tells us Christ was that Rock in the desert and when Jesus came out of His rock tomb in resurrection life, he became the Rock of our salvation.
Friend, He is all we need in this desert – live by, stand on, hide in and depend on our Rock. He will bring you home.

Dicipleship ProcessJIM Shaw
Look, See and Walk

Blind Bart sat on his mat on the side of the busy road out of Jericho. It was just another day, but when he heard the crowd and Jesus coming closer, he knew this was going to be a life changing day for him. He’d heard that lame people and even the blind had gone to Jesus and were healed. (Mat 21:14)
Bart wasn’t lame but he may as well have been; it had been years since he had walked anywhere. When you can’t see, you don’t walk very far, certainly not with confidence. He cried out for mercy over the noise of the merely curious and when Jesus heard the honest cry; he stopped, called Bartimaeus to Him and healed him. When blind Bartimaeus eyes were healed he immediately got up and walked after Jesus on the road.
When God raises followers, He touches the blind eyes of our hearts. God doesn’t start or finish with rules. God doesn’t try to change the way we act or walk, he just heals the eyes of our heart.
When Israel came out of Egypt, they had a change of religion but they never had change of heart. People cant walk differently unless they first see differently. Finally God said I’m going to show you Myself and when some of the Jewish people saw the heart of the Father displayed in the cross of Christ, their hearts were changed followed by their lifestyle. It is always the same. We change by revelation not rules. Our hearts are only changed by seeing the heart of God, in Christ. The way Father changes the way we walk and live, is enabling us to see more of Jesus.

Friend, if your sitting on your mat thinking no one notices you or that no one is listening, your wrong. Cry out in faith because I hear him coming closer to you right now.

Dicipleship ProcessJIM Shaw
Do you want Church with that?

What a feast! We enjoyed cakes, videos, hakas, speeches and prayer from all the generations in the congregation. Yesterday was amazing as the leaders of our local church sent us out to begin itinerant ministry. It was a beautiful day and we felt honoured and encouraged.

A number of years ago a man of God prophesied over us, that we were hidden in a quiver as sharp arrows, but there was a time when we would be released from the quiver.  That time has come.

But an arrow without a bow is powerless and pointless   It is the testimony, the credibility, the prayer backing and the corporate anointing of the local church, that gives flight to the arrow. Yesterday the bow was drawn back and released.

David said that God had enabled him to bend the bow of bronze. “He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great” (Psalms 18:32-35).

 David was saying his hands were a weapon and our hands are still the weapon of the church against the dark kingdom. By laying on of hands we cancel sickness, cast out devils and impart life into death and we still need the strong arms of local church leaders to bend the bow and release the arrows of the Lord.

 I'm incredulous when I hear a Christian say they don't need a local church. It's like saying we can be a Christian without going to Church. You can become one but you can’t live as one without the local church. That is like saying I can be rugby player without a team. It is delusional for the best rugby player is useless apart from the team, as is a knee joint without the rest of the body or an arrow without a bow.

I love the local church for it is the genius of God and the dwelling place of God. To believe you can worship the Trinity and reject relationships in a local church, misunderstands the nature and the heart of God. He only wants to dwell within a corporate gathering of His people. Only Jesus Christ is enough for God to live in alone. He otherwise needs a nation to dwell in the midst of.  He constructed from a thousand parts His one tabernacle.  He had a temple constructed out of many thousands of components into a glorious unified house for His habitation.  And so it continues that only the whole body of Christ manifested in local churches can contain Him.  It is your brothers and sisters that carry Him within. To get closer to God we need to get closer to the Church. Apostle John said that we love God  as much as we love His people.

I was converted the day I encountered Christ all alone in a pup tent while goat shooting in the hills of Hunua but from that moment God’s people prayed for me, helped me, encouraged me and visited me. His church discipled me, befriended me, fellow shipped with me, taught me and lead me.  They then believed in me, trained me, prophesied over me and released me into ministry.  Eventually they listened to me, honoured me followed me, supported me and my family and enabled me to my destiny. Yet all they were doing was being Christs mouth, heart and hands.

Friend, I love Jesus and I love the Church.

I’m so glad He invited me to sit at His table and to “feast” on Him but do I want Church with that?  Yes please!

God at Work

I used to work for the Ministry of Works and sometimes they would have a sign in the middle of the road saying “Caution men at work.” It reminds me, that all of us need a sign up around our life every day, which says Caution God at Work! Not that we need to treat our loving Father with caution but that we should treat every moment with caution.  There are no secular moments when you are a believer and no secular jobs. Obviously, the glorious church is made up of truck drivers, lawyers and housewives. God uses their work hours and jobs to perfect them. Every part of our life; whether spending time with family, having breakfast and driving to work, are all spiritual, because He is always at work! 

Sometimes we think that God stays in the closet when we go to work but our life is like a movie. If you could stop each frame and look into it you’ll see God in every frame. God doesn’t compartmentalize our training or life as we might. We send our children to one for music lessons, to the gym for fitness, to school for their minds and to the Church for their spiritual growth, but not Our Father – all of life is His. He has one school and we are all in it full time. He can use every experience and every person we meet throughout the day.

Jesus told of a servant who wasn’t looking or expecting his master to turn up at any time.   “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers (Luke 12:45-46). Unbelievers? A strange thing to say unless this man represents us, believers. The fate of the believer that isn’t expecting or looking for the Master to appear throughout his day is that they are given a portion like the unbelievers. In other words, a life where they cannot see God at work, in and around their lives – just another pointless day.  I love being in the “zone” where I’m expecting and seeing God communicate with me by any means, at any time in my day.
Friend, our Father is always with us, communicating with us and always working in us. God goes to work with you, not just to help you in your work but to work in you. God’s plans are not accomplished by His work in church meetings but because He is always at work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2.13)

Dicipleship ProcessJIM Shaw
Shattered Pots

When Job heard the news of the death of his children he collapsed in shock and felt unbearable waves of pain. Later, after losing everything he was afflicted with ugly boils. He picked up a piece of pottery and scraped his sores.  This pottery piece symbolized Job’s life once alive and full but now shattered and dry. “And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes” (Job 2:8). 

It seemed to Job that his life (earthen vessel) was dashed in pieces but actually rather than his life ending, God was about to make Jobs life fuller than ever.   Jobs restoration was not accomplished when God doubled the number of his children or his bank account but when Job was able to process his mounting grief and see himself and God a lot clearer. “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself And repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6)

Humans are designed to grieve yet grief is something we need to choose to enter into and not suppress. Grief is the one feeling that can heal all the other emotions we feel from loss, betrayal, abandonment and hurt. Part of grief is being able to embrace the mysteries in our life and be able to say “I am bewildered and have no idea what God is doing”. Or “Yes I’m hurt; I’m disappointed, even angry that God seems to have forsaken me”.  Embracing the fact of our limitations means we accept that we have limited knowledge and spiritual understanding.  Jobs friends and some of us still today, too easily overestimate our grasp of a situation, as we look at the difficult times in our friend’s lives or ours and wrongly judge people and God.  We need to assume the humble position of bowing before God instead of trying to be Him. It’s healing. In times of emotional pain, I have walked the streets of my neighbourhood in tears crying out to Father. I went out looking for understanding and came back only with peace.

If you feel today like a dry potsherd (broken fragment) embrace it.  Cry your tears and groan your groans before the Lord.  Coming to the end of our wisdom and control over life is something we experience so that the One we are designed to need can be found and the one we are designed to reveal, can be seen.

Friend, embrace your limitations and bow before Loving Wisdom. Don’t doubt God but doubt your understanding.  The trouble with being unbroken is that nobody ever sees Who lives within.

Dicipleship ProcessJIM Shaw