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An Invitation to Discipleship

11 Feb 2021



A New Project

Dear friends

I’m writing this by way of invitation. But before we get to what it is exactly I’m inviting you to, I would like to set the scene, as it were, for what follows.

I came to faith in November of 2002 and quickly felt the deep desire, the call to follow the Lord into full time service to the Gospel. To that end, in February 2003 I entered university to begin my degree in Theology, also studying the Philosophy of Religion and Comparative Religions.

As I’m sure you can imagine, being brand new to life in the church as well as studying these complex topics, my early days as a follower of Jesus were tumultuous. I had many questions and a hunger for answers, as well as a drive to share whatever answers I found with any who would listen.

I soon had the opportunity to preach on a regular basis as well as give more in depth lectures on issues relating to challenges to the faith. It wasn’t until my second year at university that I learned that what I was doing was called apologetics. This discipline became central to my service to Jesus and my sharing of the Gospel for many years to come.

Upon the conclusion of my Theology degree, I served in a local church before the Lord opened a door to study apologetics in a post graduate programme in the UK. That year long course deeply shaped me and Jodie, not only through the study itself, but, perhaps more particularly, through the relationships that were built during that time. Relationships with people that I will forever be grateful to the Lord for bringing me into fellowship with.

Having completed that study Jodie and I returned to New Zealand and set up Thinking Faith Ministries. The Lord greatly blessed me with opportunities to travel around New Zealand and the world sharing the Good News of Jesus with inquiring folk, as well as serving in deepening the faith of my fellow followers of Christ.

During that time I have had the privilege of speaking in many countries around the world, sitting with many leading thinkers in the faith, and speaking to many church leaders in many and varied cultural contexts. There have been so many experiences that have deeply shaped me over the years, and many things I have learned about myself, about life in the Lord, as well as lessons about serving Him in His ministry.

As a result, the way I have approached ministry, and as such Thinking Faith Ministries itself, has morphed and developed over the years. I felt a great deal of pressure to conform to a particular model of ministry, and along with it a particular set of values by which to measure success, one that I was not comfortable in adopting (and still am not).

So often in Christian ministry we are led to believe that if we want to have a bigger influence then we need to find bigger and bigger platforms, and the bigger the platform, the more funding for the ministry you are able to attract. This in turn allows you to fund platforms that are bigger still, which we hope will give us greater impact and influence. The bigger the platform, the bigger the impact, the greater the influence, the more financial pulling power, and all of this adds up to what is seen to be success in ministry.

This model has never sat well with me, and a few years ago while praying over a number of opportunities that had been presented to me, I was reminded of the Lord’s words with regards to fruitfulness where He says, in short, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it does not produce much fruit. This, it seems to me, is typically Jesus. The way up is down, the way to greater impact is not in getting bigger but in becoming smaller and going deeper.

Along side these deliberations I was also ill at ease with the life of an international itinerant speaker. I was away from home often and for periods of time, which meant that I was away from my wife and kids a great deal. I missed them and found the life of an itinerant to be a lonely one, not only from that point of view, but also from the point of view of speaking to an auditorium of a couple of thousand people one minute, then being alone in your hotel room the next.

I could see that there were considerable dangers involved in that kind of life, but more on that in a moment.

With the words of Jesus ringing in my ears, coupled with my concerns regarding what I saw as the unhealthy lifestyle of an itinerant, I made the decision to draw back from my travel, limiting my time away from home. Instead I desired to focus on building deep relationships with people, both with those who were asking questions about Jesus, as well as those who were already committed to Him but wanted to grow in faith.

To this end Jodie and I bought a property in Dunedin which we could open up to seekers and believers alike, creating a space in which they could ask their deep questions as well as pursue a life dedicated to Christ. (If you want to know more details about that vision email me at and I will send you out a vision document).

During our time on the land pursuing this vision I have seen a number of brothers fall into heinous sin, disqualifying themselves from public ministry, tarnishing their reputations as well as the reputation of Christ and the Gospel.

All of those that I have known personally have been itinerants pursuing the models of ministry so often lauded as the pathway to influence, as well as the accompanying definitions of success. Some of those are brothers who I have held personally in the highest regard, and whose moral failings have impacted me deeply.

How can this be? How could such dear, dedicated brothers, whose lives and ministries would appear to be everything we should aspire to, deliberately pursue such deplorable sin? This is a question I have been wrestling with for some time now, not just in regards to their lives, but also how to avoid such a fall in mine.

With a global pandemic, a deeply divisive and vitriolic political landscape, and a culture reeling from its own moral decay, it would be easy for us to believe that the greatest challenges facing the church are political.

While I believe that there are significant political and cultural challenges facing the church today, as well as further challenges looming large on the horizon, I don’t think that any of these are the most significant challenges we face.

The greatest challenge we face today is the same challenge that has been before the people of God down through the ages, and it is this, we must get to grips with what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our place and in our time. The greatest challenge we face today is one of discipleship. We must wrestle with what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus in the face of the cultural pressures that are exerted upon us, both externally from the world who would have us conform to its pattern, but also internally from any deficient understandings and definitions of discipleship masquerading as the genuine article.

I am more convinced now than ever that the Lord our God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. However, rather than being a plan to grant us fame, fortune, success, comfort, recognition, or acceptance, His plan is to conform us to the image of His son. But how does He do this? Well, it seems to me that, more often than not, The Lord brings this about through suffering.

It is through suffering that we learn total reliance upon and obedience to Him. It is through suffering that the He puts to death our flesh. It is through the putting to death of our flesh that we decrease so that He may increase in us by His Spirit.

This idea of putting to death our flesh is an old one, and one that has largely fallen out of favour, however, I am convinced it is the key to our discipleship to Jesus, and central to our being conformed to His image.

So now to my invitation. In light of all I have written above, I have decided to undertake a study of what the Word of God has to say to us with regards to the flesh. how to put it to death, and what practices I need to adopt in my life in order to bring this about. I’m hoping that you will join with me in this study.

My intention is that this will be devotional in nature rather than a deep theological survey. I will simply be reading the text and writing whatever insights come from it. I won’t be consulting any commentaries or any volume other than the Scriptures. Instead I will simply type up and send out the entries from my personal journal.

What I’m undertaking I am doing so out of my own sense of conviction. As such it is primarily for my own understanding and growth in Christ. That being said, I am convinced that all ministry begins with what the Lord is doing in us and flows from there to what the Lord would do through us. My hope is that as I go through this material, the Lord would use my personal meditations on the scriptures to conform me to His image, and that He might also use them to be a blessing to you.

If you would like to join with me on this journey then simply respond to this article by liking and subscribing.

To God be the glory as He holds us firmly in His grip.

Blessings in Christ


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