“Disciple-shelf” Part 1– Analogies and Instructions

Written on January 19, 2022

Following Jesus Christ is only accomplished in practice and exercise internally and externally but it can be supplemented and aided by books. My own collections began with my Dad who had lost a list of books given to him by a friend, but he recalled as many as he could and shared them with me. This is a snapshot of where my shelf is now. I am hopeful that I may grow and refine this shelf over a lifetime.

My Disciple-shelf

First let me explain the analogies. I was given a short black wooden bookshelf with three shelves, and I divided each shelves into two halves.

  1. The top shelf is for books about: Deep Personal Intimacy with God and Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective.
  2. The middle shelf houses books about the Outworking of Faith in Exercise, Culture, Service, and Fellowship, and about The Church’s journey through time, space, and variation.
  3. The bottom shelf is for the collections of Translation in the Biblical Languages and Sound Biblical Interpretation.

Rainbow of Discipleship

Christianity is Spiritual, Intellectual, Personal, Social, Financial, Career-related, Familial, and Physical. And for my walk, it has been rooted in Faithful Devoted Translation of His Word. This breaks the white light of the Revelation of Jesus into a spectrum of Color.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

Collection 5: Translation in Biblical Languages

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

These six collections provide an ability to inform much of the whole spectrum of God’s revelation in Christ. This way, a disciple of Jesus will not be color-blind.

The Missile-ple-ship

MISSILE-PLE-SHIP

The Three Shelves have three central features and with one stabilizing feature for each level like a Missile.

The Top Shelf: The central feature is Deep Personal Intimacy with God. This is the Payload: the truly explosive and powerful part of any believer’s life: the revelation of Jesus Christ. The companion stabilizing feature is the Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective. These are like the guidance computer and the nose cone: which keep the missile piercing the air upwards toward heaven, and keeps the whole life on target.

The Middle Shelf: The central feature is the outworking of faith in all areas of life: physical, financial, familial, career-wise, service, and fellowship. This represents the fuel, the relationships that keep moving with the whole body as we work and stay on mission together. The stabilizing feature of this level is the Church’s Journey to familiarize a believer with how the church has walked in history and how the church today has its various streams in various countries and cultures.

The Lower Shelf: The central feature is the Translation of the Scriptures in the Biblical Languages. This oddly enough has been a tremendous propulsion system in my own life. The Word of God itself is a wonderful fire of God’s holiness to sustain the flight of the Christian forever. The stabilizing feature of this level is Sound Biblical Interpretation, which keeps the propulsion straight and upright. The Work of Translating the scriptures as an interpreter is very much like a Nozzle where people can feel the heat of the fire of the Word of God.

Are all of them necessary?

All of these components are necessary to make the missile work, launch, fly, find it’s mark, and deliver a payload of explosive power! To have all but the 6th collection (Sound Biblical interpretation) the disciple is at risk of launching a warhead into the air with no stability to keep it from coming back down on his own head in destruction. To have all but the 5th collection is to have no propulsion and no truly spiritual power from the ministry of the Word, or at best it must be outsourced to others which often has much sparks and fire but no internally true launching power. To have all but the 4th Collection is to potentially get side-swiped part of the way through the journey by people hijacking or pushing your mission off target to fit into the flightpath of other missiles on other missions. To neglect the 3rd Collection is to be practically ill equipped for your ministry in impacting the world physically, financially, intellectually etc. To neglect the 2nd Collection is to have a lot of knowledge about God even intimately, but to get lost in appropriating scripture, ministry, and revelation in ways that are overly subjective, without an objective standard of Biblical Theology. To neglect the 1st Collection, is to have a small to non-existent payload, and have nothing impactful of Christ Jesus to reveal in your life; in essence to be a dud.

What order should I read them in?

If I had to recommend a place to start, I would definitely start with the first ministry of knowing Him (Collection 1) but I would be quick to stabilize it with some work from Collection 2. I would get started on Collection 5 (Translation) after having some work in correct interpretation (Collection 6) as soon as possible. As I grew in secret, I would want to find out more about how to take this and practically use it, (Collection 4), and finally see what the church has thought historically and today. (Collection 5) Still, in growing with the Lord, there will be much back and forth between all of these collections, and may He lead you into what area He wishes for you to explore next.

A Seventh Collection

There is a seventh area of the discipleship books which I recommend highly, is the collection that you write yourself: note taking, journaling, bible-marking, correspondence. Jesus never may have written anything down, but praise the Lord for the people who did. My father told me, if you look for a common denominator of all those who were greatly used by God, they kept a journal/wrote things down. There are probably exceptions to this rule, but in my own life, this has become a tremendous exercise for chronicling my own journey with the Lord, and recording His faithfulness as another track record for how real He is. My journals are my testimony. Furthermore, it has helped me sort through the jumbling of my own thoughts and God’s thoughts, and evil thoughts, and let me work them out like a work-bench for the things that are in my heart. Through it God has shaped me and entrusted me with the treasure of ripening fruit. Now I have a place to keep them until they are ripe.

Continue on to Part 2 for the current list of books in each collection.

Fleera 3 (Trolis Fleeris)

It is common in my walk through this world to find flowers–
Roses downcast and wilting on the ground,
And to take them in and make a place for them to be appreciated and adored.
The first I ever did this was Fleera,
Which I named such more out of aesthetic than science.
It was my third year in college
A flower well-formed which fell by my college dorm,
I found just prior to a walk in the woods with friends.
I held it and kept it out of sentiment and captivation
While one friend cast her petals to the wind
And the water carried it far away.
I brought mine home to a plastic bowl
Usually used for chicken noodle soup
And let it float there in all its stemless beauty.

The second was the journal in which I myself was plucked
And was called from my job at Walgreens as a service clerk
To return to my home, to float upon my parents’ waters.
I waited there uncertain of what to do,
Crying out to God, “I do not know why I am here!”
I wrote in my journal, Secor Fleeru
“How is it that I have come to be here?”
And my grandfather’s health began to decline
And I stopped my mouth.
Because I was not grafted into the branch of Walgreens
I could offer my fragrance by his bed close to his nose.
Which suffered from aspiration of the lungs and pneumonia.
And when he passed, the resplendence of my heart for him
I placed in song to be played in his ears by his bedside.
As he crossed the threshold into the gates of glory.
And so Secor Fleeru found a purpose for his pages.

The third happened today, almost three years to the day.
I mowed the lawn around my parents’ house,
In the back there was a Rose bush planted above our septic tank
It had flourished under my Graceful sister’s Joyous planting.
And the previous evening, my parents and I looked out and marvelled
At this one rose towering high above the others toward the heavens.
The next morning I found two smaller buds in a 6 inch ceramic vase
But these were not the Fleera.
The Fleera I found while I mowed the lawn.
I came upon it, recognizing it from the night before.
It lay downtrodden, it’s pedals browning on the ground.
I stayed my blade, and reached to clutch the stem.
It was not cut, but broken off,
By the fierceness of the weather and its weight.
I took it in, not counting the browning edges against it.
I gave it its own crystal cup.
I rested it up against the other smaller flowers.
I smelled it and relished its more poignant fragrance
The fragrance of a beauty bruised yet still shining

Because it is alive to be beautiful
Fleera 3
And it is beautiful to be alive.

From with Him

I sit here in the real: a couch beneath me, my socks are damp from the morning dew. The rustling of my mother moving past, and the quiet of my father on hold on the phone across from me.

I see in stillness what the eyes cannot see. I wish not to move lest I disturb it. I just read a book about the book of Genesis, and I can see the perspective of the author of that book and how it is correct in places, and not deep enough in others. But am I the judge?

People read the different books of the Bible all the time. The more one reads it, the more one sees through the letters on the page into the story beneath it. And the story is more clearly seen not only in terms of historical accuracy, but also worshipfully correct, celebratory interpretation of the historical events from with Him.

I had to get up to blow my nose. I am such a human. How grateful I am to be a human. What does it mean to be a human? If we take humanity as a whole as a clue, it appears it means to generally desire what is good, but to mess up and fail all the time. If we use humanity as a whole to help us interpret the scriptures that say, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23) We may say, “Everyone is no good.” But if we interpret humanity through the lens of who God is, then we see humanity as He sees them: as bearing His image and His likeness. This is why He loves them, because His goodness is what makes humanity valuable. This is only seen from with Him.

I journal. It has helped me go deep into the heart of who I am, as a sort of “Soul Mirror” which I use to talk with Him about what I see. It is through my journaling that I have been able to honestly see how utterly corrupt I am– How inexcusably unworthy of being the judge of good and evil. As I have broken down all the childish follies which grow up in my heart like weeds every day, I have seen in the light of His word, the things that are of Him. But I can only see them from with Him.

Humans today scrutinize God, with an intention to pass judgment on Him. And why not? The church has been passing judgment on people emphasizing God’s wrath on sin, and our otherness from Him. (My Dad just playfully passed a trashcan between my face and the screen as I wrote this. It is like that when we speak of God in such an unloving fashion. It obscures the glorious magnanimity of His face with the garbage of misinterpretation from our own failures.) If only we could see Him. See his face. What would He look like? Would we see someone in the likeness of our own corrupted vision? Is there a way we can see Him better?

Dad just walked up to me and said, “You’ll discover this later, but I bought a rope, in case you want to use the rope for projects in the future.” Then he gave me two thumbs up and said, “I have set you up for success.” I smiled and thanked him, and now I think, hasn’t God done that for us? Has He not since the creation given us everything good? Hasn’t He been pleased to give us good things? I immediately think, “What about all the terrible things that have happened in my life? How can a good God give me that?” Then I continue to think from with Him, and I humbly admit that I don’t understand it all. I just have fully trusted and become convinced that He is good, and that I am not yet aware of just how good He is, because I don’t want to know.

It’s a pervasive problem of being human because we are corrupt sinners. We don’t really want God to be a God who is bigger, greater, more perfect than we can perceive. We also don’t want the “God” who has been interpreted to us by people who claim to know him, but are really painting a picture of God in their own wounded image. This is what we want: we want to be our own arbiter of good and evil. We want to make God in our own image. This is so unworthy of God that He is just to condemn, and punish sin with death, because it takes what is good and perverts it and twists it to its own destruction.

We try to be our own “god.” It’s how we read the Bible; it’s how we pray; it’s how we live this crazy thing called real life. It’s utterly foolish. It is not possible to know God from this standpoint. How absurd! It’s like the pottery saying to the potter, “Look! I don’t have hands, therefore, the Potter must not have hands.” I don’t think this is what Isaiah was talking about in His reference, but the point is still the same. We have a Potter who is beyond us, and has been pleased to fashion us after His likeness. It is the serpent, the enemy who has sown these bad, corrupt, fake, fruitless seeds that have mixed in with God’s goodness.

When I am with Him, I see things. (My Mom just came up to the lamp by the couch and replaced the bulb that had blown out. It is shining now.) And when I see them, I love Him. But it is because I love Him that I see them. And because I love Him, I do what pleases Him. And when I do what pleases Him, I see that He is good, and his reasons for what He commands are perfect and powerful. He is with me, and I don’t see that unless I am with Him. I cannot see Him unless I am with Him. I will not be with Him, unless I can find Him. And He hides from the proud, but with the humble, He is intimate. Why? *smile*

Like a father who wants his children to grow up to take after him, so God the Father is inviting you to grow up to be like Him. This is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God as dearly beloved children.” It is simple. There are an infinite number of ways to do life wrong, just like there are infinite numbers stretching both ways from “0.” But there is one way, one place where all of life comes to a whole. And it is Jesus Christ. All else is seen, done, and known rightly from with Him. And in this world, He is not stationary.

True Repentance vs. Forgiving Yourself

After a weekend at Seminary learning about the gospel in the book of Romans, I was sitting in Sunday School at my church. I noticed my fellow singer in praise team sitting nearby, and Jesus laid it on my heart to pray for her. During Sunday School class about letting go of the past, I understood the following and wrote it down in my journal. I shared it in Sunday School class, and she asked me for a copy of it, because she felt like it was for her. Then she gave that copy to a friend and asked me for another copy so I decided to post it here:

Why is it so hard to forgive myself? Because I’m not letting go of my own being the Judge. I’m beating myself up because I am the one deciding, “This is bad, therefore I will assign my own punishment.” This is foreign to the true repentance of Righteousness. The true repentance of righteousness is releasing your own judgment of right and wrong by which you determine how right or how wrong you are. And once you have released your own standard of right and wrong, that silence is next filled with the terrifying, uncontrollable reality of God’s Righteousness– the true standard of right and wrong. And in looking at the Righteousness of God, we see our sin, and we confess it, and He forgives us, and we are deeply and truly forgiven, because we have a voice of “You are forgiven” from the Father, and not yourself.

So the question is not, forgiving yourself. You don’t have the right to forgive yourself!