the blog


What is a disciple anyway…


Ray Vander Laan, who i’m obviously going to refer to A LOT (he goes by RVL), says that our definition of discipleship is radically different from that of Jesus and his contemporaries. How we define it, how we think about it, how we measure it… from then to now — RADICALLY DIFFERENT. He would even say the biggest difference between how we define something and how the the world of the bible would define somethings is our definition of discipleship.

So how do we define discipleship and what do we think about discipleship?

A disciple is someone who knows what their teacher has taught them. For Christians this is about learning the teachings of Jesus I assume. So when we are teaching a discipleship course, or reading a book on discipleship for the Christian this is about not learning what that writer or that Sunday school teacher is teaching but it’s about learning what Jesus is teaching us through the scriptures and through His Church. Right?

I think this is a fair approximation of our western idea of discipleship, knowing the teachings of Jesus. We might be tag on… so you can live your life accordingly. What you know should shape the way you live.

That’s what it means to be a disciple.



RVL would say this isn’t even the start of what it means to be a disciple. Knowing what the teacher teaches or knows is just the prerequisite. To be a disciple is to follow the teacher so closely that you get covered in the dust he is kicking up while you watch every move he makes and take in every word he speaks so that you can, not just know what he knows but so that you can do what he does, be who he is.

In the world of Jesus a disciple was on a journey to be like the rabbi / the teacher.

Not just to know but to be like in every possible way the teacher you, as a disciple, was following.

And a rabbi only let you follow him if he believed you were capable for doing this.

This is the journey discipleship.
And what makes Jesus’ invitation “Come follow me” so profound.

What are you aiming for?

Are you just trying to know the teachings of Jesus? Memorize some verses, familiarize yourselves with his teaching and “understand” them?


Are you trying to learn everything you can, know every step Jesus took and takes, be familiar with every interaction recored, know every word he spoke SO THAT you can be like him, do what he did, interact with people like he did and most importantly love people like he loved people.

And don’t forget the mystery of the Christian faith, the center of all Christian discipleship… actually knowing HIM! The risen Christ. And being lead by His spirit

This is discipleship.

How different is this than your concept of discipleship?

My mind goes  a lot of places, asks a lot of questions after reading this.

Can anybody really be a disciple in this day and age, in America? Is anybody really a disciple? Do i know any examples? Do we take up our cross and follow Jesus — living uncomfortable, unpopular, unsuccessful, reviled and spit on kinds of lives? Cause Jesus did. Can any of us say with Jesus “the son of man has no place to lay his head.” Or are we trying to get bigger better houses? Do we turn the other cheek and forgive our enemies, even in our dying breath telling God our father “forgive them because they don’t have a clue.” Do we get angry at fake Christians and hang out with the worst sinners? Do we ask more question and give few answers? We do love recklessly and give more than we even have? Do we look and peoples heart rather then their careers, cars, reputation, or status? Are we gracious, hospitable, intentional, relational, missional, pure and simple? Gulp?!?!

I could go on but these are just a few things that i think i am FAR FAR from embracing and living out in my pursuit of Jesus. But i want to be on a journey of becoming a authentic disciple and being empowered by the Spirit to live this kind of Jesus radical kind of life. Maybe this will look a little different for each person (maybe that is cop—out) but for sure it will look radically different than the typical suburban comfortable life that most of us are surrounded by.

Well now i’m rambling but would love to hear some of your ramblings.

What do you think? Discipleship – yes, no, maybe so?

Is true discipleship of Jesus even possible?



// Your turn!



A Week of the Disciple…


So this week is the week of the disciple.

I gave a talk last Sunday to a group of 20 or so parents on discipleship. The talk had a specific angle and i’ll share more about that later this week but preparing for this, thinking & praying, really got me thinking about discipleship! How it works, who is suppose to do it, who is suppose to be it, why would we even want it… etc.

All things disciple
… this is the week of the disciple!
So let the conversation begin!

To start off the week i have started a little tumblr website entitle Dusty Discipleship

This site is all think discipleship. Really i wanted to post a talk by Ray Vander Laan, which is in 14 parts and i was trying to figure out the best way to do that… Tumblr it is!

It’s about an hour long and it’s in 14 different 7-10 minutes chunks on the Dusty Discipleship page.  I know that’s a little annoying but it will be well worth. Life changing even. I try and listen to it AT LEAST once a year if not more… so challenging and good!

ALSO… here is a short video by Rob Bell entitled DUST.
I’m pretty sure Rob took his content and ideas from the RVL (Ray Vander Laan) talk i just mentioned. They actually both lived in Grand Rapids and were friends. But no doubt RVL is the source here.
But if you want to watch the short, trendy version here it is… and it’s good!

and come back for more tomorrow. This is the week of the disciple!




Blue Like Jazz


Well I went to the opening night of Blue Like Jazz and the least I can say is that I was NOT disappointed!

I’m with most and don’t really care for “Christian” movies all that much. The guys of Blue Like Jazz faught hard not to fall into that category but an edgy Christian hipster film that has a curse word or 2 in it  is still a Christian film.

And this is a Christian film.

But it’s Christian in all the ways you would hope for it to be and almost none of the ways that prompts you to push stop on your DVD player (these poor movies don’t often make it into the theatre).

It’s Christian in the way good art is Christian.In the way books, music and architecture is / can be Christian. Not because is was produced by a “christian” machine, i mean publishing company but because it is soaked in the creativity and beauty that drips with honesty and grace that can only come from God.

I realize the fight against calling it a Christian film but it’s like people saying “I’m not a Christian, i’m a follower of Christ.” I get it, i get it…

All that to say this is a great movie.
It reminded me of the year in college where i read lots of Nietzsche, cussed a lot, doubted if i believe in God (but not really), and rebelled against authority (unfortunately i live with the authority, an RA. He probably still hates me!  Sorry Jason!)

So go see. Let it stir in you the desire to be honest with your faith, to wrestle with the big questions, and to spend time with people who don’t believe like you do, kinda like Jesus did.

It also helped that part of the movie was filmed in the church i attended in Nashville, which i went to with Steve Taylor (writer / director guy), and  i saw about a dozen people in the movie that i knew. That was fun!




Living the Resurrection…


Welcome to Eastertide…

Eastertide is the time between Easter Sunday and Pentecost. Pretty much it’s suppose to be a party. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday during this time. I like that idea!

Here are a couple video’s to think about as you embrace the resurrection / our risen Lord!

[ this first video was made by a friend of mine, Jeremy Cowart. It’s some modern day iconography, maybe even digital iconography and i have a print of this image in my office. It’s awesome! I love it! So take a look and remember HE IS RISEN! ]

[ I’ve also posted this second video before on my blog. Now think what you want about Rob Bell but this video is solid and i think inspiring. And in my opinion lacks controversy, i think. Remember, HE IS RISEN! ]



He Is Risen


[ and a couple images for your Resurrection Sunday ]
in line with yesterdays repost

Screen shot 2011-04-24 at 7.38.46 AMScreen shot 2011-04-24 at 7.40.24 AM








HOLY / BLACK / LONG — Saturday


Below is a repost of last years Holy Saturday meditation. I really like the image i put together and thought i would share again.

[ READING :: MARK 15:33-47 ]

Meditation ::.

John 19:30 records Jesus saying, “It is finished.” And our creed says that Jesus “was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell.”

Today is Holy Saturday or Black Saturday and we meditate on these things.

Here are a few images to help you.

Screen shot 2011-04-23 at 9.18.38 AM

Screen shot 2011-04-23 at 9.18.20 AM

? What has the Lord done in your Life this Lent ?
? What has died and is looking forward to resurrection ?



Good Friday


This is the Good Friday meditation from my Lent book. May it provoke you to think about Jesus and what he’s done for you on this Good Friday.

READING :: Matthew 27:32-53
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Complexity and mystery are at their peak in this moment where God is crucified, fully present and hanging on a tree, but at the same time absent, turning His face from the sin being assumed by Jesus. In the middle of Jesus’ darkest moment—paradoxically when He was glorified or lifted the highest—He leans into the Psalms to express what He is feeling, namely Psalm 22.

In the middle of one of the hardest times in my life, when it seemed like my world was imploding and the people I called family had abandoned me, I too leaned into the Psalms and found one that lamented with me, that asked the questions I was asking and sought God in a way I was trying to seek Him.

The Psalm I read begs the question, “What are the right sacrifices?” Psalm 22, the Psalm Jesus had in mind, asks for mercy, deliverance and vindication as many of them do. The Psalmist asks God to lead as He had in the past, even though it seemed like He might not be anywhere to be found.

I leaned into these songs and prayers because they echoed what my soul felt, what I was longing for, and they resonated with my circumstances.

In the middle of Jesus’ darkest moment, He leans into Psalm 22:

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Why are you so far from helping me?

Jesus is asking God, with an honest gasp and familiar prayer from the scriptures, “Father God, where are you?”

Reread verses 50-53.
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”

Kind of wild, right?

It’s a cosmic moment. All has gone dark, as if everything, if only for these few moments, has disappeared and in its reemergence, all of history has shifted. Something is different. There is a new nexus to all of human history. Everything that happened before, we now know, wasn’t just linear history but a string of moments leading up to this moment. Everything that will happen after this is situated in reference to this moment.

Human history no longer has a beginning and an end. It has a middle.

History has been reoriented and its new center is the cross of Christ.

And as dark as this moment is, we find ourselves wanting to call it good news and celebrate this dark day as Good Friday. We live in this tension and embrace it as mystery.

It’s in this central moment in human history that we find Jesus leaning into the Psalms, wondering where the father has gone, revealing to us his humanity.

It’s also in this central moment that we find our greatest fear and our greatest hope. Our greatest fear is that God has abandoned us, if He was ever there in the first place. Our greatest hope is that this isn’t the end of the story for Jesus or for us—that in suffering there is hope, that this is really just a new beginning of sorts.

So where was God while Jesus was hanging on the cross?

Will Willimon says, “It’s on the cross where we see the complexity of the way that this God saves us, the curious way in which God is with us.”

God didn’t save Jesus from the cross, but He schemed of a way to make this event one that nobody would ever forget. God schemed of a way to subvert the message of this horrific event of the cross, this political statement that was being made, and proclaim a different statement of hope and victory.

God is not like humans. He does things very differently than we would want him to do things.

Willimon also says, “We ask Jesus to stand up and act like God and he just hangs there.”

God chooses not to use coercion but love, service and self-sacrifice, because they are His way.

Think about your greatest moment of darkness. Whether you realized it or not, God was scheming of a way to subvert the message of despair being proclaimed in your life and circumstances and to proclaim hope. He always schemes and dreams of ways to bring light out of our darkness, hope out of our despair, good news from all the bad news we find ourselves living.

On all the Fridays of our lives, when with Jesus we want to say, “God, where are you?” maybe He is just hanging there, present and absent all at the same time, waiting for the subversion of your story and ultimately His story to be proclaimed. After all, Sunday isn’t far away.

What is your cross, your Good Friday?
Have you forgotten that Sunday is coming?



Ben Rector—Suburban prayers // Music Monday 20.0 [ tuesday edition ]


I’ve been listening to this song on repeat today,
a suburban prayer of sorts by Ben Rector…

“I want to live until i die
don’t let the devil bury me alive
when my heart stops let me go home
don’t let the suburbs kill my heart and soul.”

Along with thinking about Peter Rollings talking about how we all make “ironic gestures.”

So listening to this song while i sit at St. Starbuck with the queen of the suburbs, a very ironic gesture if you ask me. Thinking, praying and wondering  how i live a less ironic kind of life.





Palm Sunday


To begin with celebration and adoration of Jesus, the “Hosanna in the highest!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” And then to swiftly move toward denial and distain, shouts of “crucify him.”

This is Palm Sunday. And this is Holy Week.
This is also our story. At least if your honest it is.

I once heard Peter Rollins, an author and theologian tell a story about being asked if he affirmed or denied in the resurrection of Jesus. His response was powerful. I actually found it on youtube, check it out…

It’s true right, we all deny the resurrection and we all, WAY to often yell with our lives “crucify him.” Often right after we have publicly ushered him in as savior, yelling “Hosanna.”

God forgive me and fill me with your grace and spirit so that i might die with you and to my selfish denial of you. By your grace enable me to not just affirm or believe in your resurrection but participate in it.

This is the journey of Holy Week. 
May we follow Jesus to the cross, so that we my participate in his resurrection.