So [Jesus] sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there. (Mark 14)
Two days ago I posted the first general announcement on "The Blackboard" for an on-line class I'm teaching at www.BeADisciple.com. I'm working with 36 men from all across the United States. What we're doing - essentially - is reading "GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men" together and engaging in an ongoing conversation about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus rather than simply a member of a church.
It's a big effort, one that involved a lot of prep-work that included training facilitators for the two groups of 18. But it's part of an even bigger vision to see similar on-line studies replicated and utilized to strengthen local men's ministry initiatives from coast to coast. One of our participants is The Upper Room's key leader in South Africa, and he's evaluating the possibility of promoting on-line discipleship classes there.
I think it's cool that this study has started during the first week of Lent. One of the purposes of Lent it to re-introduce spiritual disciplines into our lives so that our journey to Easter is more deliberate. I can't think of a better spiritual practice than pulling together men from across the nation so that we can encourage one-another in our commitment to following Jesus.
In a sense, when we go on line to the class "Blackboard" at BeADisciple, we're hanging out in our own Upper Room together with Jesus. My publisher, Upper Room Books, is committed to the development of reading materials that facilitate the kind of intimate relationship Christ's friends enjoyed with the Master.
So here's my prayer for Lent, along with the request that you pray for my 36 new friends as we journey together - "Lord God, thank you for the assurance of your faithful presence with us as we struggle with what it means to follow you in today's world. Grant us insight and peace as we make more deliberate choices to follow you. We ask in confidence, because you are always our rock. Amen."
Be at peace, and continue on your personal journey with encouragement and in hope - DEREK