What does the voice of your enemy sound like? How does he talk to you? How does he successfully sow seeds of trash and darkness in you? How does he elusively navigate your thoughts and life?
Jesus went toe-to-toe with Satan himself. He regularly fought against demons and their attempts to destroy His life. The stood against Jesus as enemies of God. They aggressively worked against Jesus, those who may believe, and those who followed.
The Satan that tempted Jesus is still alive today leading his horde to destroy our lives. What does he sound like? Can you recognize his voice? Are you aware that he speaks and that you can hear?
Thankfully, God has given us great insight into who Satan is and how he speaks. Scripture has many different names for him. Through each name we can learn to “hear” how he effectively schemes against us every day.
Here are four of the names the enemy is called and how those names help us discern his voice:
Satan (Matthew 4:10, Job 1:6) - this name means adversary. Satan works against God's will in people's lives. He may use fear or discouragement or distraction or a number of other weapons. Here he stands opposed to the direction of God for His people's lives. We hear his voice when he tells us things like God does not care, He is not faithful, He has let you down before, His word is not true, His way is antiquated, and others.
Devil (Matthew 4:1, 13:39; Revelation 12:9) - this name means slanderer or false accuser. Satan works to call people names, remind them of things past, and confuse them about the faithfulness of God. We hear his voice when he tells us things like we are failures, disappointments, guilty, beyond redemption, or worthless.
Father of lies (John 8:44) - He is the master liar. If he cannot get in with one lie he will get in with another. And if neither works he will lay in wait until an opportune time to return. We hear his voice in many ways as a liar as he tells us things like something is all our fault, God just wants you to be happy, there are others ways to life than Jesus. He creates images in our minds of things that are not true – your spouse is cheating on you, because of your body you are unworthy, money is the true source of happiness, and many more.
The Tempter (Genesis 3:1-3, Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 16:23) - Satan works through tempting. He lies, tempting people to question what they believe or never pursue truth at all. Notice in the wilderness with Jesus, Satan tried three different ways to tempt Jesus. Like lying, Satan tried to get in one way and it did not work so he tried two others. When those failed he waited again until that opportune time. We hear his voice of temptation to lash out in anger, to not forgive, to look at porn, to gorge ourselves on food, to drink in excess, to turn to drugs. In many ways he tempts us daily to lead us away from resting in the love and power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
One other name the enemy is called is Serpent. Serpent (Genesis 3:1, 14; 2 Corinthians 11:3) - this name is used to highlight Satan's deceptive nature. He can take different forms and speak through different people. He does not just come straight forward or through one person. Satan accuses us, opposes God’s work in us, lies to us, and tempts us directly and he does it through other people. He can use your spouse, your mom or dad, other family members, a whole culture, a philosophy, a religion, or any other thing he wants. He is the master deceiver.
Armed with an understanding of how to hear his voice we can stand strong in the truth of Jesus, reject his lies, and live in freedom. May the Lord teach you fight well against the onslaught of the enemy in all his forms!
Jesus was intensely radical and very normal.
He believed radical things – He was/is God the Son the only way to Heaven, a war rages between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan, He had/has the power to forgive people of their sins, He is coming back to overturn all of creation. These are radical, radical beliefs.
Yet, Jesus was exceedingly normal. He was invited to parties. People wanted to hang out with Him. He did not talk in goofy religious language. Salt of the Earth people like fishermen saw Him as the kind of guy they could hang out with. He was called “a friend of sinners.” At the same time, He could carry Himself in a crowd of scholars. Contrary to pictures, He did not walk around with some kind of illuminated light. In fact, the prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would have “no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” (Isaiah 53:2) In other words you could sit next to Him in a bar and not think He looked like much!
Being radical did not make Jesus socially awkward. It did not make Him weird. It did not make Him talk with funny words. It did not make Him unapproachable or difficult to talk to. He was exceptionally normal.
I am fiercely radical in what I believe. I love Jesus and have surrendered the entirety of my life to Him. If He says it I believe it. I am dialed in, souled out, fired up, given over, and born again. Point a gun to my head and tell me to recant – you might as well pull the trigger. God is plenty capable of taking care of my family. I have been to seminary, know Greek and Hebrew, can defend the veracity of the Bible against any attack, can get into deep weeds on theology, share Jesus regularly, and often travel the world doing mission work.
However, two of the greatest compliments I am given are, “I would never have guessed you are a Pastor,” and “I can’t believe how normal you are.” I love it. I got my Master’s Degree in hanging out from West Springfield High School with Bill, Brian, Roger, Yian, Wheez, and Dres. I got my Doctorate in exceptional normalcy from Virginia Tech and all the boys of Theta Chi – T, Waldo, Beep, Callaghan, Winn, Daniel, Schooley, T. Ralph Wear, and many, many others.
Being radical does not have to make you socially awkward.
Everyone – those who walk with Jesus feeling like they have to fit some mold and those who do not walk with Jesus who believe in the caricatures of Christians – reject the stereotypes! Look to Jesus Himself. Let Jesus teach you how to dig your heels in deeper and relax at the same time. It is possible!
Be fiercely radical, exceptionally normal, and completely full.
Trexo exists to equip disciples of Jesus to make disciples of others leading them to be radically normal. For more information or to schedule a consultation, email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Friday a lady told me one of the reasons she does not believe in Jesus is because of her experiences with Christians at a young age. It was well known at the church she went to who was cheating on who with who, who was drunk, and who was doing other things. Yet, on Sunday, every one smiled and played nice. Some people in the church convinced her mom that demons were entering their house through the music this lady was listening to. She had all sorts of signed concert paraphernalia in her room – one piece was a Billy Idol autographed record. One day she came home from school to find every poster, record, and signed piece of anything had been burned in the bar-b-q pit in her back yard.
She wanted nothing to do with Jesus. AHHHHHH!!!!
I continue to find the enemy powerfully uses the mistakes of Christians to keep people away from Jesus. (This ladies’ story is very normal.) If you are reading this and you are not a follower of Jesus, I pray that the enemy has not deceived you to fixate on the egregious mistakes of Christians so that you cannot see Jesus. This is an old, but very effective, weapon of the enemy. No matter what any follower of Jesus says or how they present themselves, we are not perfect. In fact, any faithful follower of Jesus will be intensely aware of their own brokenness. Nevertheless, sometimes the caricature of the finger pointing Christian is proved true. It is severely unfortunate but it does happen.
My encouragement for the lady I met was to separate for a moment those who she had contact with and look at Jesus for herself. Take a fresh look at who He is, what He teaches, and what He did. What do you see in Him? Who is He? What does He say it means to walk with Him?
These may be hollow words to you depending on what your experience has been but I sincerely mean them – as a Pastor, on behalf of those who, in the name of Jesus, have wronged you, I ask for your forgiveness. For those of you that I have been the source of your pain, can you forgive me? (I would love to get together and talk.) Can you forgive us who have done these things to you? What we did is not excusable and your forgiveness will be given out of grace – not out of anything deserved. We will not “get away” with anything. Our Father knows all and sees all – trust that He will take care of us. There is a greater issue at stake – you being reconciled with the God of all creation who has been calling you back to Him through Jesus.
For those of us who love God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and who long to see people come to faith in Jesus, we must be prepared to help people deal with the wounds caused by our brothers and sisters. May our Father fill you with His grace and wisdom as you press into the lives of others to share with them the magnificent love of God!
Trexo exists to assist churches, ministries, and people in more effectively making disciples who make disciples.
In the story of the three little pigs, only one pig's house is able to stand up to the attack of the wolf. The third pig built his house out of rock. When the wolf came and threatened the pig he was not intimidated, scared, or moved. The wolf failed. The pig won because he not only used the right material but he used it in the right way.
Many of us who follow Jesus suffer unnecessarily and chase the winds of this world unnecessarily because, while we may have the right material we use it in the wrong way. Said another way, while we know the truth, we do not have a method of walking the truth that produces the depth and clarity God wants us to have. Having a method of walking with Jesus is like having a structural plan for building a house.
The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3:17, "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the same pattern you have in us." Paul had a method he used to walk in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He trained others to walk in the same method he used. And he encouraged others to observe those he had trained and walk as they walk.
Having a method of walking with God brings clarity and confidence. Too many of us do not have a robust way of walking with Jesus. We do "a little of this" and "a little of that" unsure if it is right or if it is what we are "supposed" to be doing. Walking with the Lord according to a specific method empowers us to enjoy deeper intimacy, to stand stronger in the fight, and to go train others to walk in the same way.
An effective method of walking with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will meet five criteria. The method will be biblical, relational, holistic, transformational, and easily reproducible. In Trexo we have developed the Way of Rest to be a powerful, dynamic method of walking with Christ that meets these criteria. The Way of Rest produces maturity in such a way that can be easily reproduced. Walking in this way provides the depth and clarity so many followers of Jesus know they are missing but do not know how to find it. You can buy the book, The Way of Rest, here, or you can schedule a consultation with Trexo. We are blessed to serve you in anyway we can.
By the way, when the wolf came to the third pig's house who else was there? The other two pigs! The method the third pig used afforded shelter and protection to the other two. May our Father lead you to walk with Him in a way that others will come to you!
Jesus had a public ministry and a disciple-making ministry. In His public ministry, Jesus taught masses of people everywhere He went. However, His primary mission was disciple-making. God’s plan for His life was to bear the sins of man and leave behind a group of men and women who would multiply His Kingdom work. Disciple making is the secret weapon of God to reach people, communities, cities, states, nations, and the world.
Following is a brief overview of Jesus’ disciple-making ministry in the book of Mark. For those of you interested in disciple-making or already doing it, this should be a useful guide. In Mark, there are 7 aspects to Jesus’ disciple making.
1. Walking in understood victory - Jesus lived in the victory of God His Father. His whole life was a continual manifestation of the power and victory of the Holy Spirit in Him and through Him. Even in death He manifested the power of God by being resurrected. Mark 1:1 sets the tone for the entire Gospel, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” His victory was not theoretical. It was very practical. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calms a storm. In Mark 5, Jesus defeats a demon, raises a girl from the dead, and heals a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.
It is important to see that Jesus’ victory was an understood victory. That is Jesus understood His victory and how He was able to walk in it. He understood all the rulers and powers in the world. Because of this, Jesus was able to clearly communicate and train others.
Before you make disciples, you need to walk in victory and be able to explain how and why you do. You need to have a method of walking with Jesus that is biblical, holistic, relational, transformational, and reproducible. When you are walking in this you will have a pattern of walking with Jesus that you can train others to walk in. Be clear in your beliefs, consistent in your practices, and continuous in your stories of God’s love and faithfulness. Then you will be equipped to disciple others.
2. Going - Jesus found His disciples as He was going. Mark 1:16 says, “As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casing a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.” Jesus found disciples in the regions of Tyre, Galilee, the Decapolis, Samaria, Perea, and Israel. He was not waiting for people to come to Him, as Jesus was going He was looking for those whom God had for Him.
If you are ready to make disciples, you need to start praying and looking. As you go in the regular directions of your life, be open to the leading of the Spirit to show you those He wants you to speak to. He will not have you disciple every person. Your role may be to pray, to encourage, or to speak a word. Regardless, be open to the leading of the Spirit as you go.
3. High level of sacrifice - In the beginning of the relationship, Jesus called every potential disciple to a high level of sacrifice. Mark 8:34 says, “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” This is applied in Mark 1:17 when Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to be His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” This was an unequivocal invitation for these me to commit themselves totally, and only, to Jesus. In order to do so they had to completely surrender to themselves, the expectations of others, and the world. On this Jesus never compromised.
We see this again with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-24. In spite of the young ruler’s morality, Jesus required his heart. Jesus was not after his morality. So Jesus told him to sell his possessions – totally surrender this world. Then, and only then, would the ruler be a disciple of Jesus.
Finally, we see this in Jesus’ parable of the soils in Mark 4. In this parable the word of God lands on four different types of soil. Only the fourth soil accepts the Word of God and grows 30, 60, 100 fold. The other three soils represent people who have not made the level of sacrifice Jesus requires.
As we go to make disciples, we cannot compromise on the high level of sacrifice Jesus calls us. Being a disciple requires making regular, difficult decisions to walk away from our wills, the expectations of others, and the lures of the world to be faithful to Jesus. This is discipleship. You will bless your people greatly when you start the relationship with sacrifice.
You have to be careful with this but when you discern that a person is not as committed as Jesus calls them to, you must walk away from them. You will not be successful in trying to convert 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s into 4’s. Sow into 4’s. You will know when a person is not a 4 because every week is difficult. They do not prepare. They show passing interest in the Lord. They rarely read the Bible or go to church. Even though you have, in love, pointed out areas of their lives God wants to work in, they do not engage. You must walk away from these people. Jesus did not chase the rich, young ruler when he walked away from Jesus’ offer. You need to communicate, in love, that this relationship is not working out. Offer a new relationship to the person when they are ready to truly surrender to Jesus. Here we follow Peter’s teaching, “In as much as it is possible, live at peace with all men.”
4. Relational - Peter and Andrew begin walking with Jesus in Mark 1. Three plus years later in Mark 16:1-8, an angel of the Lord commands Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome to go tell Peter and the other disciples that Jesus has been resurrected and they will see Him in Galilee.
Jesus walked with these men. He loved them. He trained them. He did not simply have them in class. He did not keep arms-length from them. He was real and vulnerable with them.
Discipleship is about relationships. As we are loved by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we go to love those whom God has for us. Because we are filled with love we have love to give. We must guard ourselves against turning discipleship into Bible study where love is not central. We must also be careful of allowing our disciple making to distract us or drain us from the love of God for us. Our effectiveness in disciple making depends on our being filled with God’s love for us.
5. Intentional and Circumstantial - This is interesting and frustrating. Jesus’ disciple making was both intentional and circumstantial. There were times when Jesus sat His followers down and taught them specific lessons. In Mark 4, Jesus taught His followers the parable of the soils. It was an intentional lesson not spurred by any particular circumstance. Usually, when Jesus taught this way, His disciples would pull Him away from the crowd after the lesson and ask Him to further explain what He just taught. In Mark 4:10, the crowd has left and Jesus is alone with His disciples. They began to ask Him about the meaning of the parable.
However, and this is where making disciples can get frustrating, most of Jesus’ training happens circumstantially. As Jesus and His disciples are walking together they experience different events. Jesus uses those events, and the disciples’ reactions, to train. In Mark 4, Jesus and His disciples are on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The wind turns life threatening. The disciples panic. Rested, Jesus rebukes the wind calming the storm. Jesus uses the circumstances to teach His disciples about faith. On another occasion, in Mark 10:13-16, they are in the region of Perea. Some children try to get to Jesus but the disciples keep them from coming. Jesus uses the occasion to teach His guys about who are good candidates to receive the Kingdom of God.
In Mark 9:2-8, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain where they watch Him transform into His glorified state. When they come down the mountain the rest of the disciples are failing at delivering a man’s son from demonic control. Jesus delivers the boy and uses the opportunity to correct His disciples in their deliverance work.
This is frustrating because disciple cannot be about a curriculum. Discipleship does not start at chapter one, page one. Discipleship must move as life moves. There will be times when there are intentional lessons you are training your people in. But discipleship must be about life and what your people are dealing with week to week. Disciple thrives when we help people apply the wisdom, love, and power of God into the immediate situations of their lives. Your confidence in doing this will come in large measure from the ways you do this in your own life. Your battle in the Lord to be free and live free will equip you to discern how to disciple others to the same place.
You can certainly do Bible studies and book studies. Those have a place in discipleship. But you do not have to. And you do not have to immediately. Love your people. Talk to them about what is going on in their lives. Ask them questions. As you develop trust and your people share more and more speak with love training them to see all the persons and forces at work in that circumstance and how they can walk in the victory of Jesus.
This will make you feel wobbly at first. You may not have a particular direction going into a discipleship time. Trust that the Holy Spirit will show you His direction as you are talking. Let Him do what He does. Trust in how you have been equipped. You probably have more in your arsenal than you know.
While much of making disciples is circumstantial, you are expecting growth to happen. We are not chasing issue after issue. In Mark 16, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples. He did not have a curriculum but He everything He was doing developed maturity. At the end of three and a half years, Jesus guys were prepared to go with their own “understood victory” and make disciples.
6. Liberating - Making disciples is about helping people find freedom in Christ from their sin, the world, and Satan. In Mark 2:1-12, Jesus is presented a paralyzed man. Before He heals the man’s legs, Jesus forgives his sins. “Son, your sins are forgiven.” While preaching in a synagogue for the first time, Jesus is confronted by a demon possessed man. In Mark 1:25-26, Jesus confronts the demon and frees the man.
Setting people free can be very challenging. You have to discern what their root issues are. For the man in Mark 1, his issues were demonic. The paralytic had a sin issue. The rich, young ruler’s issue was world goods. Jesus was a master at discovering root issues. It may take you many meetings before you can get at the root of the issue(s) your people are dealing with. The goal in liberating people is to deal with those lies and areas of darkness that are keeping them from intimacy with God. Jesus came to reconcile sinful man to a Holy God. He did not free people for the sake of freedom. He freed people for intimacy.
When you are having difficulty discerning root issues, trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit. As you are praying for your people, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the root issues in play. You may even do this while you are meeting with your disciples. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the truth of the matter.
7. Empowering - Jesus expected His disciples to do what He did and commissioned them to repeat what they received from Him. After calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. He expected them to respond the same way He did. As we have seen, in Mark 16, Jesus leaves His disciples with the charge to go and make other disciples after He leaves.
Making disciples, in some ways, mirrors parenting. We are loving and training people to stand on their own in in Christ and then sending them to do the same for others. You will have to kick some of your people out of the nest. Others you will have to restrain. In all things we are seeking to empower and then send them to train others.
You should feel confident about a person’s preparedness to make disciples if they have clarity in their beliefs, consistency in their practices, and abundance in their stories of God’s love and faithfulness in their lives. The Holy Spirit will affirm for you that your disciple is ready. Send them! And then be there for them as they struggle through their first few disciples.k here to edit.
Our mission at Trexo is to equip disciples to make disciples. If you are interested in more information please contact us here.
In jiu jitsu a distinction has developed between street and sport jiu jitsu. In sport jiu jitsu there is no striking, no groin shots, no eye gouging, and, depending on the tournament you are in, no knee locks. There is a referee, a nice cushioned mat, and a time limit. In street jiu jitsu there are no rules. Kicking, biting, eye pokes and everything else is legal because you are in the street. You are in a street fight. There is no referee - last man standing wins. There is no nice cushioned mat or a time limit. Consequently, the techniques in street fighting are different than those in sport. For example, if you come at a sport jiu jitsu person with a knife they are not going to know what to do. Their training has not prepared them from that situation. A street person will know exactly what to do and the altercation will not last long.
Unfortunately, the same distinction has developed in Christianity. Many Christians are trained in what can be called sport Christianity. Sport Christianity is nice, clean, and well packaged. There is a one hour to one and a half hour time limit. You get a nice cushioned seat. God's basic job is to bless you and to ensure you experience the American Dream.
But life is not lived on the mat or on nice cushioned seats.
Life is lived on the street.
The street is brutal, cold, and uncaring. The street does not care if you know nice little Bible verses because you are getting waylaid with depression or cancer or fear or anxiety. On the street four month old babies die; children are beaten senseless by their alcoholic parents; men and women suffer with eating disorders, anger issues, and generational curses; spouses cheat; co-workers lie. The street is filled with people and forces actively seeking to deceive and destroy. The street is ugly.
Sport Christians have no techniques, no training, to deal with the onslaught of the street. Invariably they will settle into a faith practice where they accept that while Jesus is the Son of God, He cannot help them where they are. They know they cannot deny Him, but they also know they must survive.
I suggest that sport Christianity is not Christianity. Or, at best, it is a sadly incomplete attempt.
I often find it necessary when talking to Christians and non-Christians about Jesus to separate Jesus from the church. I ask permission to set the church aside for a moment and just look at Jesus.
Jesus lived on the street.
Jesus came to fight.
Mark 1:15 is Jesus' first recorded sermon. It is believed that He regularly taught this same material. He ways, "The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe int he gospel." These are fighting words. Jesus basically says that this is the moment in history when God the Father has decided to send His Son to win the war. "The Kingdom of God is at hand," infers there is another kingdom present that is "in charge." We know that is the kingdom of darkness, led by Satan himself. 1 John 3:8 says, "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." Jesus was sent to fight.
In His life, Jesus fought three primary enemies - sin, the world, and Satan. He fought on the street, on hillsides, in synagogues, in the temple, in homes, with His own disciples, and Jesus fought even while He was nailed to a cross. Jesus knew life is war. He fought. He trained His disciples to fight.
Being a disciple of Jesus is about receiving His victory into your life and then letting the Holy Spirit teach you how to fight. The street is not fair. God will make you strong. The street is harsh. God will give you endurance. The street does not make sense. God will give you wisdom. The street is powerful. God will give you greater power. This is discipleship.
Making disciples is about veteran fighters training others to fight.
There are rivers of love, freedom, rest, and power for you. These are promises for you from God Himself. But they come to you in the context of war. May you walk away from the sport and get into the street. Learn how to fight. If you want to know whether someone is a veteran just ask them to tell you their stories about walking with Jesus. If all they give you are Bible verses then they are not a veteran. If they show you their scars then listen to them.