Advent! Taken from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming”. Be blessed in this season where you celebrate Jesus’ arrival among us, his ongoing presence, and his second coming in the fullness of time.
Advent has also heralded the arrival of my latest book, The Wonder.
It’s a discipleship book, and very timely too. Just last week, I received an email from a church research group stating that a discipleship crisis is afflicting the western church.
The habitual response to such information is to give people more to do, more programs to follow, more guidelines to observe, more strategies to develop.
Sometimes, though, more is not enough!
I sensed Holy Spirit wanted me to write about following Jesus from the perspective of the Father’s heart. In other words, let it be solid and rich, not dumbing down, but in a way that releases people to soar rather than just giving them more prescriptions to follow.
Look around, and you’ll notice many believers walking with their heads drooped, chins on their chests, weighed down with guilt and shame, burdens and expectations, frustration and tiredness.
When people soar, everything changes.
That’s why I called this book ‘The Wonder’. It will draw people into the wonder that’s already theirs and propel them into a joyous and liberating life of following Jesus.
Imagine discipleship as a wonder to be mined rather than a set of principles to follow.
You can check out the chapter headings and order the book from my website.
Below is the introduction to the book, just to whet your appetite.
I truly believe this book can be an instrument of the Holy Spirit in transitioning your faith community into an empowered group of disciples, celebrating the wonder that is theirs, and displaying the wonder that is Jesus to others.
The Wonder: Introduction
Life is a wonder. Jesus is a wonder. A life of discipleship in Jesus is a wonder.
Many people don’t see it that way. Discipleship is often seen as tedious, burdensome, or old-fashioned.
But have you ever wondered what life would be like if you couldn’t get it wrong? Or what discipleship could look like when freed from performance-based expectations: read this, pray like that, obey this, worship that way?
Imagine, it would be a different world. A world of wonder. One where you walked with your head held high.
Imagine, fear would disappear. Guilt would be non-existent. Shame would dissipate, simply melt away. Inferiority, insecurity, and instability would have the rug pulled out from under them. The am-I-good-enough-anxiety arising from perfectionist-related expectations would be robbed of its ammunition.
Imagine, discipleship would be a wonder to be mined rather than a set of principles to follow.
Imagine, you would have an empty palette with which to furbish life. You don’t just join the dots. There are no numbers instructing you on what colour to use. Mix it up, make it your own, be creative. No one is going to scold you for painting outside the lines. Jesus coloured outside them all the time. The wonder is, his Father cheered him on. “You go, Son; that’s why I sent you!”
If that strikes a chord, you’ve come to the right place.
Yes, this book will examine crucial aspects of a disciple of Jesus, such as grace, following, prayer, rest, forgiveness, hearing God, using your authority, prophecy, worship, maturity, delight, and more.
But they’re examined from the perspective of possibilities to grow into instead of expectations to live up to.
The reason is, the wonder.
The Father’s love for you is a wonder. The fact that Holy Spirit actually indwells you is a wonder.
Jesus is a wonder. He spoke, and people wondered. He told stories without always relating the meaning because it caused people to wonder. He did signs and wonders that, well, caused people to wonder.
My various roles as a church planter, pastor, equipper, and presenter have all shared a common challenge. How do you get people to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth? How do you get them to mature as disciples of Jesus?
One answer is you don’t! Simply because you can’t get people to do anything. That’s not your job. My experience in this area comes as a father and grandfather. That’s where you learn it’s impossible—undesirable even—to attempt to get people to do things.
What if there was an approach more wonder-filled than that? It’s the relational example of Jesus who immersed himself in peoples’ lives, exhibited outlandish grace and extraordinary acceptance, told stories in riddles, asked questions without always giving the answer, trusted people implicitly and empowered them with the same Spirit with which he operated.
The wonder. It opens you up to possibilities, leads to pondering, and unveils the amazement of life in Jesus and how precious you are to Father God.
The wonder. It has you contemplating what lies ahead, reflecting on the reality of something better than your present, imagining a future greater than your past, and navigating securely in faith, hope, and love that can’t be shaken.
The wonder. It draws you in. Instead of a pattern to be repeated, you have a lifestyle to be explored. That’s what discipleship—following Jesus—is. It’s an exploration of what’s already abundantly yours.