Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: Real-Life Discipleship

Hey Friends,

I just finished reading a great book called Real-Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples by Jim Putnam. I would definitely recommend it. Here's my review.

Real-Life Discipleship by Jim Putnam is an excellent basic manual for the Christian desiring to disciple others. Though this book is written specifically for church leaders, it is a valuable resource for all believers. Real-Life Discipleship emphasizes the biblical mandate for all Christians to make disciples (the Great Commission) and gives a biblical and practical strategy for how to make it happen.

One of the things I found most helpful in this book was the way Putnam defined the spiritual stages in the life of a Christian and how to minister to believers in each stage. I have witnessed first-hand the various spiritual stages (dead, infant, child, young adult, parent), but I was at a loss for how to minister according to the stage a person is in and how to move them forward in their spiritual maturity. I have read some reviews of Real-Life Discipleship that said the spiritual stages were presented in too strict a manner, verging on legalism. I don't think this is the way it was intended. The descriptions of the spiritual stages are only generalizations and a person may be between stages at any given time. They are given only as an aid to finding where a believer is at in their walk with Christ and how to minister to them right where they are.

The discipleship "game plan" laid out in Real-Life Discipleship is one that has been tried and proven effective at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho - one of the top 100 most influential churches in America. But this is not a manual on how to turn your church into Real Life Ministries. Rather it is a book about discipleship the way Jesus did it. I highly recommend this book.

*I received Real-Life Discipleship by Jim Putnam by request for review from a Mission Frontiers promotion (

To purchase Real-Life Discipleship or read a sample chapter visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Story Behind the Song: Dreams

Hey Friends,

The Story Behind the Song series continues today with the song "Dreams". I wrote a little bit about this song last year in the post Some Thoughts on Following Christ, but today I'll write in more depth.

Even though "Dreams" is quite possibly my favorite song we've ever written, I can't seem to put its story into words. I've put it off for weeks (okay, more like months) and even now this is my second time writing it. Part of me wants to just leave the song to explain itself, but I don't think that would do. So here goes.

I used to think that we should dream big because we have a big God who can make our dreams come true. I still believe that statement, but not quite in the same way as before. My vision was short-sighted back then. I expected my dreams and desires to be fulfilled on this earth, in this life. But I've come to realize that this life does not always go the way you'd planned. Sometimes your desires go unfulfilled. But the thing is, it's not because God isn't big enough to make your dreams come true and it's not because He is cold-hearted and doesn't care about the things you long for. If all of our wishes were granted on earth, who would ever want to go to Heaven? I mean, really? Would you have any desire to go to Heaven if your life were exactly the way you wanted it? And the question goes the other way too. If Heaven didn't exist or if it wasn't really all that wonderful, why would anyone give up their earthly dreams to build God's Kingdom?

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:44-46

I love those parables! Those stories are what "Dreams" is all about. Living for God's Kingdom is so much better than living for my kingdom. It is so much better that I will give up all of my earthly dreams in order to follow Christ. He is worth every bit of it. Every tear, every heartache, every loss, every dream that goes out on the breeze. Because in their place God has given me wings to fly after Him wherever He goes. Does it really get any better than that? I believe with all of my heart that I will be richly rewarded for everything I've ever given up for the sake of Christ.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11

What a beautiful declaration! "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." Have you ever really thought about what the Apostle Paul is saying here? He's saying that there is nothing better than knowing Christ. Nothing! Everything else is a loss in comparison to knowing Christ. I never used to feel that way about Jesus until my dreams began to crumble. When the picture in my head of what I always dreamed my life would be like didn't look anything like the life I was living, I found the value of knowing Christ. My dreams may have come undone, but God has given me Himself instead. What a trade!


Sometimes it seems I've lost all my dreams
To the bottom of the ocean
I let them go out on a breeze
You carried them far away from me

Is this where You want me?
Is this how it should be?
Can I follow You and still live out a dream?

The plans that I made up years ago

Took flight and left me here all alone
And in their place You've given me wings
To fly after You wherever You go

Is this where You want me?
Is this how it should be?
Can I follow You and still live out a dream?

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as in Heaven
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done

This is where You've brought me
This is how it should be
To follow You has become my only dream
To follow You has become my only dream

Blessings to you,

You can listen to "Dreams" HERE and buy it on iTunes HERE.