Intro (cut and paste form here)
How to Do This Study
When you sit down to do your FOLLOW study, anticipate that each session will take you a couple hours. Especially when you take the time to look up several passages, write out your answers, and pray. So don’t plan to do each lesson in a single sitting. You will get out of this what you put into it.
When the study asks a question, take the time to actually record your response, either digitally or in a journal. This is where you will record the ways God is challenging you. These notes will also be a key reminder for your FOLLOW discussion. The more you write down the more detailed you will be able to be when you share with your leader. It will also prove to be a helpful tool for personal prayer. If you are faithful to journal throughout the next 6 weeks, you will be more likely to see the work that God is doing over time and it will help you to focus your prayers.
The Main Goal Is Transformation
Make sure that you try and avoid treating the FOLLOW study as homework. The goal is not to complete an assignment in as little time as possible. The goal is to have your mind and life transformed by an encounter with the living God (Rom. 12:1-2).
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Why Does FOLLOW Matter?
FOLLOW walks through the foundational components of life as a follower of Jesus.
These are the essential building blocks for a healthy life of faith. But do not confuse foundational with basic or rudimentary. To any student of the Scripture these biblical mandates are self-evident. Yet, there isn’t a believer alive today who can exhaust the simple yet revolutionary call given to each of us by these six simple verbs.
When you read FOLLOW, think of yourself as a child receiving gentle instruction from your heavenly Father. FOLLOW is about the freedom offered to all who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is derived from six biblical mandates that God gives his people repeatedly throughout the entire canon of Scripture. They are the essence of God’s way for man to discover abundant life in a fallen world. Missing even just one of these truths is like trying to grow plants without water, soil, or sun. FOLLOW asks six difficult questions in light of God’s commands.
BELIEVE – Can you believe God is exactly who he claims to be?
REPENT – Is anything too broken for God to heal?
FOLLOW – Will you truly follow Jesus anywhere he leads you?
REMAIN – When you become discouraged will you walk away?
SHARE – Are you an individual or do you belong to a family?
MULTIPLY – Will you lay down your life so another can live?
There are two essential identities to the life of every believer and every living thing:
1) The identity of the child
2) The identity of the parent
Children receive and consume. My parents spent thousands of dollars and hours, teaching, training, loving, supporting, coaching, and leading me so that I could become a healthy adult. My role as a child was to receive their love and instruction and follow their lead. As a child of God I have this exact same role. God gives; I receive. Jesus speaks; I listen. The Spirit leads and I follow. (John 10:1-19; Psalm 23)
Parents have an entirely different role than children. As a parent I give, so others can receive. As a parent, I speak so others can listen. As a parent I lead so others can follow. The parent sacrifices their life and preferences for the health and well-being of their children.
So it is with our spiritual identities. Not only are we children of God, we are also called to be disciple-makers (Matt. 28:18-20) and teachers (Heb. 5:12). The biblical pattern goes like this: 1) Receive Jesus 2) Obey Jesus 3) Be Jesus. The 12 disciples were disciples (pupils & adherents) before they were apostles (“sent ones”). Abraham followed God in faith well before he fathered many nations. Paul surrendered his life on the road to Damascus well before he was planting churches.
Every believer must first follow before they multiply. But, every true disciple will mature into a multiplier (Heb. 5:12; Matt. 28:16-20; John 17:18). This shift from spiritual child to spiritual parent never supplants our identities as children of God. It only builds upon it.
As Jesus asked Peter to feed his sheep, he reminded him that the older he became the more he would be led places he never intended to go, namely death on a cross (John 21:17-19). So it turns out that if we want to be greater and greater multipliers we must become more and more dependent followers.
The closer we follow the more we will multiply.
This curriculum is broken into two parts. The first is FOLLOW which unpacks the mandates of life as a child of God. The second is MULTIPLY which unpacks the mandates and life of disciple-maker or spiritual parent.
May you follow and multiply!
A Letter to My Children
To My Children,
You have changed my life forever. Until you were born I didn’t know that I could love something the way that I love each of you. I am fortunate to be the recipient of a lot of love in this life; first from my parents, then from my friends, and more recently from your mother. I also have given out my fair share of love, but there is something unexpectedly different about loving my own child. I love you not because of what you give me but because your are part of me, I don’t just mean that you are my flesh and blood, I mean that I am responsible for you, YOU ARE MINE. It is your existence that makes you worthy of my love and nothing more.
This type of love is a frustrating type of love because it is binding for life. You never earned it, so you can’t loose it. I also never cognitively gave it; so I can’t stop it. It is instinctual for me and because of that I’m forever shackled to you and your decisions in a way you can’t possibly understand.
You still think the blast radius of your folly begins and ends with you. What your immature mind can’t even begin to fathom is that it is actually far more difficult for me to watch you hurt yourself, or become a hurtful person, than it is for me to deal with the hurtful things you say and do to me.
I know that in your little minds, you think that if you don’t look out for your own interests at all costs somebody may get the best of you, fool you, take something you love or make you do something that you will hate. As real as these fears may feel they simply aren’t the full truth. People do take advantage, people will fool you, but freedom isn’t actually found in your independence or self-preservation. True freedom can only be found under the care of someone you fully trust.
Your greatest enemy is your willful impulse to control, manipulate, rule and protect your life and in the end it will lead you to the most pain, despite the fact that pain is the very thing you are trying to avoid. I know this is difficult to understand. If you would let me coach you, teach you, or walk with you, so much of your struggle could be alleviated. But you insist that you have it covered.
I’m not sure you will ever understand the heart wrenching pain involved each time your actions force my hand of discipline. You question my love when I discipline you, but it wouldn’t be love if I quietly stood by while you marched down a path of self-destruction. All I really want is for us to find joy in one another.
You are selfish beyond comprehension and your ungratefulness is blinding, but none of that affects my love for you. Not even a little bit. I don’t need your appreciation, understanding, or obedience to love you. My love for you supersedes all of that. I love you because you are MY child. Nothing will change that.
Children, you have changed my life forever and simultaneously my love and appreciation for my Heavenly Father, for I too am the defiant, selfish, and ungrateful child struggling to protect my self-interest at all costs. My love for you has made me believe it is possible that God may look upon me the same way I look upon you. That his intolerance of my rebellion and sin is because he longs to truly enjoy our relationship and it cannot be done when I refuse to trust him. It might just be that he too whispers words of guidance, wisdom, and instruction that I willfully reject.
This curriculum is dedicated to all five of you. I wish for nothing more in this life, than for each of you to discover, in your own ways and His time, that true love, joy, peace, and life are found only in relationship with our Heavenly Father. You can’t trust people, you can’t even fully trust me, but you can trust Him. May you follow and multiply!