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Each January I ask the Lord for a new spiritual focus for the year. I pray the theme will increasingly permeate my life as the months go by. Here are recent themes... A Slave of Christ (2013), Better to Give Than to Get (2014), Keep in Step with the Spirit (2015), Listen and Love (2016), Join the Dance Procession (2017). Here's the story of my theme for 2018.  

The Serra Retreat Center  This year I did my January spiritual retreat at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California. It was during this retreat that I sensed the Lord calling me to (re)emphasize my life-mission to "make disciples." This is a return to the beginning. 

The Beginning As a 20-year-old junior at the University of Maryland / College Park, I had a profound spiritual awakening. God used the staff and students from Cru (aka Campus Crusade for Christ) to lead me to a profound and personal faith in Christ. I'm forever grateful for Steve Holt, Rich Hyde, Jim Palmer and Brett Bennick.

Over the 1982 winter break I attended a Cru Christmas Conference in Philadelphia. During those five days I... 

   - made Christ Lord of my life

   - learned the basics of Christian living

   - learned to share my faith

   - led an intimidating looking guy from Camden, NJ to faith in Christ

   - received my life calling.

Early on, God made it clear that my purpose is to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:18-20).

A Pattern  Making disciples covers the whole continuum of spiritual growth ("everything I have commanded"). My definition of "making disciples" is “helping people experience the abundant Christ-life so they can do the same with others.” This is the pattern of the kingdom.

  • The kingdom is revealed through acts of mercy and kindness in Jesus name.
  • The kingdom comes when the word is received in a heart.
  • The kingdom multiplies when we make disciples.

I won’t be able to select a dozen guys to follow me on dusty trails in the Saddleback mountains wearing Birkenstocks. But in some way I disciple those I influence. My wife, my kids, my friends, my teammates, the Visual Story Network community...and so on. Discipleship is not about authority but influence. I intend to filter my daily activities through the lens of influencing others towards Christ-likeness…so they can do the same with others. How well are you “helping people experience the abundant Christ-life so they can do the same with others?” 

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Comment by Clyde Taber on January 31, 2018 at 5:22pm

I totally agree Jim. Thanks.

Comment by Jim Klaas on January 31, 2018 at 12:36pm

This is great and very motivating. I love the influence idea. Sometimes we can raise the bar so high or we need to be so intensive that we forget that we are discipling all the time. We just need to point it in the right direction, look for micro-moments and act on promptings.

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