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Discipleship—Linking Arms on Our Pathway to Heaven

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Episode Synopsis

Who are you in Christ? Discipleship is more your identity in Christ than an activity you engage in. Jani helps us learn how to choose whom to meet with and what to do at that first connection.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Hello, everyone! Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and

Heidi: Heidi Howerton. Hello there.

Heidi’s last Podcast

Jani: We’re so glad you’ve decided to listen today in our season two as we start this series on discipleship. And Heidi and I are a little bit sad today because this is our last podcast together for a while. Heidi is going to be delivering her sweet little baby, number four, baby Abigail, in just a little while and won’t be able to podcast while she’s on maternity leave. So I just want to personally thank you, Heidi, for being my co-host, for helping me figure out how to do this podcast thing. You’ve been wonderful. And I really appreciate you and thank you.

Heidi: Oh Jani, thank you so much. It has been my delight and my honor to sit underneath your wing these last two years together as we started this podcast journey and to learn from you. What a gift from the Lord. Never in a million years would I have thought that when I was in my early 30s that the Lord would have me start a podcast and that I would get to do with Jani Ortlund. I mean, I see stars. So I will so miss sitting across from here with you. But I am excited about what the Lord is doing in this next season through you and through Renewal Ministries.

Jani: Thank you, Heidi. That’s really sweet. You all know why I love Heidi so much. Heidi, why don’t you tell our listeners where we are in this new season?

Where are we headed?

Heidi: Yes. So in season two, Jani is going to be focusing on discipleship. She has prepared material over many, many years that she sits down and uses with women every year from August through May and teaches them what the Lord has taught her. And it’s really sweet, because also a lot of this material comes from your mother-in-law, Anne Ortlund. And so it’s just wisdom that Jani has acquired from the Lord and from her sweet mother-in-law through the years. So she’s starting a series on discipleship.

Heidi: And we are asking you guys to listen in every week with us to learn and grow with us, but also to think about bringing other women into your circle to walk through this series with and there’s some options to do that. You could initiate with an older woman. Think about somebody who do you know that’s known Jesus longer than you have? And ask her to listen to this series together and then work through the assignments together. Or another option is for you to take the lead. Do you have any younger women in your life, are their college groups at your church, are their high school groups at your church? Do you spend time weekly with your grandchildren or with your own children? Think about are there a few teenage girls that you could get together with? Ask the Lord if there are people that he would have you walk through this next year with doing assignments discipling, being discipled, and ultimately drawing closer to his heart together.

How to get started with discipleship

Jani: We’re so excited to hear how the Lord uses this in your life. So please let us know at our website, herestoresmysoul.org. We’d love to hear from you there. Now today, I want to share with you how to get started in this. Let’s say you’ve asked another woman to meet with you or you’ve gathered your children, you want to listen with them and disciple them. Or, as Heidi said, maybe a few teenage girls from your church. But you’re wondering, what do I do this first time we meet? And next week we’ll have specifics but before we get into that, I wanted to give you a little bit more background on what it means to disciple and be a disciple.

Disciple: a verb and a noun

Jani: Do you see how I use that word? “To disciple” is a verb and “be a disciple” is a noun. Discipling is not just an action. It’s who you are. You’re a disciple of Christ. Discipleship should be more of an identity than an activity. Maybe you would like to be discipled yourself. Maybe you’re one of our listeners who’s asked an older woman to come alongside you. I’ve found it so helpful in my life. I read something this morning from a older pastor’s wife that really helped me on the mask issue with COVID rearing its ugly head again. I needed wisdom and she offered it to me. I was so grateful for that. Maybe you would like to be discipled yourself as I continue to be by dear Carolyn. Much of what I’m passing on to you, as Heidi said, is from older women in my life. And so you need to ask yourself, in whom do you see her spiritual life and the radiant beauty of Jesus Christ spilling over into different aspects of her life? Who do you want to imitate? imitation is a biblical word. 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says,

“Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

Jani: So let’s not be afraid to use that word. Well, if there is someone older that or maybe even if she’s not older, as we said earlier, she might just know Jesus longer than you. She’s older in the faith. Ask her out for a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. Tell her your heart’s desire, see if she’s willing. I must say that the first woman that a friend and I asked when I was in my early 20s, I was 22. Well, this woman said no. And it was disappointing, but I needed to accept that. That’s okay. Keep trying. The next woman I asked said yes.

Heidi: It’s so encouraging, Jani, to know that you even ask somebody and you were told no. I think that’s the fear a lot of people have is, “if I ask them, what if they say no?” And to hear it’s okay for them to say no. And to know that you’ve gone through that yourself.

Call Back

Jani: Yeah. Because discipleship means taking relational risks, doesn’t it? It’s not necessarily easy, but it sure is wonderful. Heidi and I love a poem called “Call Back”. We talk about this when we disciple, it’s a poem by Mrs. Charles Cowman. You might know her as the author of “Streams in the Desert”. And it’s called “Call Back”. I love this poem. Listen as I read it.

Free Download: “Call Back”

Have you ever wanted to ask someone who’s a little farther ahead of you in their pathway toward heaven to call back to you? Would you call back to me and tell me what it’s like up there, and then help me walk to where you are? This is the heart of discipleship.

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back—
‘Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And, if perchance, faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thundered and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the air was very still.

O friend, call back and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us, and my spirit eyes are dim;
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for more of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky,
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back—
‘Twill cheer my heart and help my feet long the stormy track.

By Mrs. Charles Cowman, Streams in the Desert • December 19

Jani: You see, that’s all you want to do is ask someone who’s a little farther ahead of you in her pathway toward heaven to call back to you. Would you just call back to me? Tell me what it’s like up there. And then help me walk to where you are.

Jani: Who are you in Christ? If you want to grow deeper in him, that’s perfect. Just take some others with you. Call back to them. If you feel weak and needy, well, that’s when God’s power is strongest. Ask yourself, do I know Christ? Do I love him? Is he worth giving my whole life to? Well, there must be someone in your sphere of influence who needs to hear that, to be close to that, to see you embrace that. Someone needs to see you live those convictions up close and more than on a Sunday morning.

What Discipleship really is

Jani: So I’m talking to both those of you who are going to disciple and those of you who want to be discipled. You see, discipleship isn’t about professional Christians passing on their best practices to novice Christians. Being a disciple and learning to disciple others means looking at Jesus with such intensity and delight that you actually begin to reflect His beauty and everyday life. Jesus becomes more precious, more satisfying, more exciting, more worthwhile to you than anything or anyone else. And as you look at him, others will want to join you. And then you begin looking at him together. The most important way you can disciple others is by enjoying Jesus Christ yourself in such an irresistible way that your enjoyment becomes contagious and others want to join in.

We are all heading down a pathway

Jani: Every single person is heading down a pathway to one of two places: either death or life. We see this in Proverbs. Heidi, would you read these Proverbs to us that tells us this?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25

The path of the righteous is life and in its pathway, there is no death.

Proverbs 12:28

Jani: You see, that’s the choice: life or death. All of us, every single person on the face of this earth is walking a pathway either toward life or towards death. In discipleship, we ask others to join us on our walk down the pathway of life. Now, should we challenge and exhort our disciples along the way? Yes. But as a fellow pilgrim, not as one already across the finish line. Let’s help our disciples to admire, enjoy and respond to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden is light. We don’t want to lay more burdens on those we disciple. We want to love others as Jesus loves us. Remember, it’s not our mission, to show others how sinful they are but how beautiful Jesus is. Do you hear that? Do you understand it? It’s so easy to shake our finger and point out the sins of others. That’s the easy way to go. Let’s remember to love them, to welcome them, to accept them. Romans 15:7 says, as Jesus loves and welcomes and accepts us. Let’s link arms with other women as we walk together in our common need for Jesus down your pathway to heaven.

PATH: What to look for in a disciple

Jani: Now I’m using the word pathway very purposefully because that’s what helps me decide what to look for in a lady whom I might disciple. I think of walking my pathway toward heaven together with another woman, I think of the word path and use it as an acrostic.

P: Pray

Jani: First of all that P: pray. There’s always someone who is looking ahead to you in her situation or spiritual maturity. If it’s not a child or grandchild that might be someone at work or in your Sunday school class or at church. Pray, Lord, who in my life, do you want me to pass on what you’ve given to me? I don’t want it to end with me. I want to give it so Lord show me. The first thing to do is to pray. Lord, show me.

A: Availability

Jani: The next letter in the word path is availability. Who is available? When you talk with them about Jesus in their life, are they burdened did they seem like knowing Jesus is more a burden more a chore? You want to look for someone who’s eager and available. Now that doesn’t mean that she has a clear and open schedule. But it means this, she can budget her time, she knows how to and she’s willing to budget it in such a way that she can give herself in a deeper type of relationship. She can commit to your times together. So you want to pray. You want to look for someone who’s available.

T: Teachable

Jani: That’s P-A, and then T stands for teachable. Disciple means to be a learner. Someone who’s always ready to grow and change. Someone who’s open. Does this woman ask questions? Is she a good listener? Or is she always saying, “Oh, I yeah, I know that or I was already thinking of that. Or, here’s, here’s what I think.” Can she listen? Can she absorb? Look for those who want more than a touch. In Luke 6, we won’t take time to turn there right now. But there was a crowd around Jesus. And it says in verse 19, that the crowds just tried to come in close, they just wanted to touch him. Look, for those who want more than a touch. Look for those who want to, as the disciples did, go up on the mountain alone with Jesus to be trained, to be taught. You want to look for those who are teachable.

H: Has Heart

Jani: And then finally, I don’t have a scripture for this, Heidi, it’s just my own. I don’t know years of doing this my own reflection, I look for someone who H: has heart. She has a bit of courage and spunk, she has perseverance and she knows how to cry. She has emotion that she’s not afraid to show me. She has heart.

Jani: So on that pathway toward heaven, I want to pray I want to look for someone who’s available, I want to look for someone who’s teachable, and someone who has heart to walk with me toward heaven for a little bit. It won’t be forever.

What Your First Connection Could Look Like

Jani: Now, what about that very first connection? Well, I think it’s good to have it face to face. I can’t always do that. Sometime. It’s through email. But I think it’s good to have it face to face if you can, especially if you’re doing the asking, like, Heidi, would you disciple me? I’d love for that person to see you face to face, maybe over coffee or tea or lunch.

Heidi: I think, Jani, that’s a great opportunity to meet and also ask her some questions like, tell me about your relationship with Christ. How long have you walked with Him? How did you meet him to begin with? What do your quiet times look like? And that’s an opportunity for you to get to know her more spiritually. For you maybe to share your story, to see what what is her year ahead look like? You can ask that too. Does she have a lot of commitments? Is she about to have a baby? Is she involved in a ton of Bible studies? Might she have the time to disciple you? And even as you have that conversation, you can see do I do i think she has time to disciple me this year? And ask the Lord for some discernment in that.

Jani: That’s good, Heidi. Yes. I think those questions are good if you’re meeting with someone who has asked you to disciple them as well. You know, what does your year look like? Do you have time for this kind of commitment? This is what I expect of those I meet with. So those are good questions. Thank you, Heidi.

Set Expectations

Jani: Then, after that first connection, I think it’s great to just send a follow up email of your answer. Yes, I would like you to disciple me, and when can we get started? Or if you’re the discipler? Yes, I do want us to meet together, could we start August 25? Whenever. I would give the date and the times of the meetings and what to bring, like your Bible and notebook, your calendar,

Heidi: You always have done such a good job of that, Jani. I love how when you invited us to join your discipleship group, you said this is the start date in August. This is the end date in May. And this is the commitment I would be asking you to make if you. I would love to disciple you, Heidi. And I remember in my heart feeling like you really wanted me to make a commitment to the group. That it would meet for an hour and a half, or it would meet for two hours. But I loved knowing that I could trust you to start on time and end on time. And that I knew from the beginning, this is the start date and this is the end date. You set really beautiful boundaries in those ways.

Jani: That really helped, didn’t it? It helps me and then women know what they’re committing to.

Heidi: And I think it also helps the group because everybody knows that they’re making the same commitment. I’ve been a part of various groups before where some women are just not as committed and it’s hard to go deep and to look at Christ deeply together and to walk if you’re not able to be there every week in this type of discipleship group. So I also appreciated it for that knowing that I’m making a commitment, but the other women in this group are making that same commitment.

Jani: Yes, yes. Well, if you are with your new discipler or disciplee, however, it will go, if you’re meeting with another person and listening to this podcast, you think through how long you’re going to meet. I would encourage you to meet from late August to early May. And just make that commitment. Choose when you’re going to meet during the week to listen to the podcast, and then follow through on the assignments. Choose how long you’ll be together. We try to keep our podcast around 20 minutes so maybe you could meet for an hour and a half, you decide. But make that commitment, put it on your calendar and commit to this time.

A Final Charge

Jani: Let me close with a little charge to us all. I need to remind myself of this each year as I gear up to disciple a new group of women. I believe that God gives other women to us as his sacred trust in our lives in what he has poured into us. I don’t want it to stop with me. I want to be flow-through-able. I want what God gives me to flow through me to others. We must cultivate in our spheres of influence. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our churches. Spiritual daughters who, in turn, can pass the truth on. The younger women among us, as I said, are our sacred trust from our Heavenly Father.

Jani: Making disciples building into their lives is not just a nifty idea, someone thought up. It’s a biblical mandate that Jesus left with us before he went up to his heavenly Father. In this beautiful relationship of discipling, everyone wins. Think what we gain: new friends, a new prayer warrior, a fresh look at life, a deeper understanding of a different generation, going deeper into God’s word together. In our giving to each other, we will be filled, blessed, encouraged and loved. Isn’t God kind to reward obedience with such joys?

Jani: Well, in the weeks ahead, I want to talk to you about what to do when you’re together. If you don’t have anyone to meet with yet, that’s okay. Listen in for yourself and be discipled through our podcast. Who knows what God will do among us all as we seek to go deeper with him in this coming year. Oh, may he restore all of our souls.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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